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Joan Osborne on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 1996 - photo by Dave Leucinger

Joan Osborne


by Dave Leucinger
May 1996

If God were one of us, and his tour of duty brought him to Milwaukee, it’s a safe bet that he’d fill more seats than Joan Osborne did at the Modjeska Theater. Not as safe a bet is whether he’d be able to sing as well.

With five Grammy nominations under her belt, the question wasn’t if Osborne would sell out the 1,800 seat Modjeska, it was how quickly. Imagine the surprise when hundreds of tickets remained minutes before the Kentucky native took the stage May 11. The crowd was sparse – you could walk to within ten feet of the stage without a problem – but its diversity read like an open book on Osborne’s critically-acclaimed major-label debut, Relish.

There were the pop fans, weaned on the radio friendly “one of Us;” the music fans attracted to the show by Osborne’s endearing spirit and warm, folkish charm; and those that fell in between, more than willing to bask in the glow of songs that aren’t motivated by anger and rage.

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Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

An interview with Singer Joan Osborne
by Tina Hall
June 2012

Joan Osborne is best known for the single One of Us of her debut album Relish. The Kentucky native has been making music from the soul since 1995. She appeared in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown in 2002 and did her version of Spoonful on Vivian Campbell’s(Def Leppard)album Two Sides of If. With seven studio albums under her belt her latest release Bring It On Home is out now.


Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Kentucky?
Joan Osborne: It was wonderful, a lot of freedom for myself and my brothers and sisters(I’m one of six). We lived in a place where everyone knew everyone else, where we went out in morning and ran in the woods all day and no one would worry about us. We were able to develop a real connection with the natural world, which I value now that I live in New York City. As for the music of the region, well, although we weren’t big country music fans it was always there and we loved John Denver and Elvis Presley, who also had a thread of rock n roll, rockabilly in his music. Country music and bluegrass was all around us. It was there that the seed of this amazing roots music was planted when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I got older that I really began to become a big fan of other kinds of country music, learn about bluegrass, and become a huge fan of artists like Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams.

MI: What was your first day in New York like? Did you experience culture shock? 
JO: I did experience culture shock! I got out of a Trailways bus at the Port
Authority bus station and walked to my lodgings at the 8th and 34th Street YMCA and it was intense. That particular stretch of NYC is really grimy and crowded and noisy and I kind of loved it immediately. I loved walking down the street and feeling so much energy and seeing people of all different types and I was very excited by that. In a way I felt like I had walked into the right movie. 

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Joshua Okeefe

Joshua Okeefe

An interview with Singer/Songwriter Joshua Okeefe
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Up and coming country singer/songwriter Joshua Okeefe delivers songs that stick in your head with a smoothness you’d expect to find on someone much older. At 20 the English native is set to take the country music world by storm with songs like No Doubts, Sunshine, and Taylor(written for Taylor Swift). It was an honor to have the chance to sit down with such a dedicated artist at the very beginning of his rise to the top.

Maximimum Ink: Can you tell us a little about yourself? What were you like as a child?
Joshua OKeefe: I am a workaholic, I find it hard to sit down and watch tv for 15 minutes to relax because I love working hard. I have been determined from an early age and always try to be the best I can possibly be in everything I do! I love to have fun and enjoy life

MI: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and what do you think it was that drew you to the country genre?
JO: I fronted a touring pop band from the age of 13 and toured the UK 3 times over by the time I was 15. In every city we played we always had girls singing our songs.Being on stage always felt like home to me so that gave me the dream of doing it for a career. I grew up listening to country music. My dad would play it on the way to school. From that I developed a country voice.

MI: No Doubts is one of those songs that sticks in your head once you hear it even if you don’t like country music. What inspired that? Do you enjoy writing music that sticks?
JO: The idea for No Doubts came to me one night when I was thinking about how it would feel when I meet my Miss right. I can’t help writing melodies that stick in your head, I have done it from an early age and I think that is one of my strongest areas in writing music. I think it’s important because it can make a song memorable!

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Once Around - photo by Mat Teubert

Once Around

intro by Teri Bar, interview by Laura Sorensen
by Laura Sorensen
January 2016

If you only live once—the members of Once Around are finding a way to make every moment count. But before you assume this Madison-based band is a bunch of road-hardened veterans, you may be surprised to learn this group is made up of driven, talented… teenagers.

So what’s really making their young lust for life stand out in a big way? Once Around creatively combines its own style of original old school rock and glam, with some new age metal and punk. Sebastian Sikk is the 17-year-old lead vocalist; Wrath Starz is 16, and plays lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and contributes to backing vocals. 19-year-old Bam joins on bass, and backing vocals; then there’s Chase, who is 16, on drums.

But don’t let their ages fool you.  Laura talked with Once Around as the band gets ready to release some new music during its February 5th show at The Red Zone in Madison.

Maximum Ink:  Once Around is a clever name. How did you come up with it, and are you using it as (almost) a motto for the band?
Sebastian Sikk:
  The significance behind it, and a lot of our song lyrics is that you only live once, and a band like this only comes around once. The music is our message, and it just feels like it has been all the same old radio rock for awhile. I feel like there hasn’t been a new band to come out and skyrocket in popularity since Black Veil Brides. So we are trying to do something different, combining new age with older music we grew up on like Skid Row, Poison, and KISS. But we are mixing it up, and creating something new, along with a unique look. And not many people are doing a look anymore.

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The Orange Peels

The Orange Peels

An interview with The Orange Peels leader Allen Clapp
by John Noyd
June 2015

As the mastermind behind California pop-rockers THE ORANGE PEELS, guitarist-songwriter ALLEN CLAPP works magic within classic formulas, sorting and transporting pre-assigned designs into unforeseen regions populated in bracing ocean-sprayed melodies atop beautiful six-string maneuvers and electric kinetic harmonies. With Clapp and his musical companions touring the Midwest with alt-rock troubadour MATTHEW SWEET promoting their sixth studio album, the refreshingly fetching, “Begin the Begone,” MAXIMUM INK had the opportunity to toss Allen a few questions in anticipation of The Orange Peels landing in Madison for the very first-time, July 12th at the High Noon Saloon.

MAXIMUM INK: What originally drew you to your particular musical style?

ALLEN CLAPP: I suppose the framework for my idealized version of a pop group came out of the bands in the mid-1980s who were navigating this massive push forward in technology while still being influenced by the melodic dominance 60s and 70s radio. Bands like the Three O’Clock, Camper van Beethoven, XTC, and REM definitely had a foot in both realities, and sort of became templates for how you could put a band together that could evolve and still hold on to your melodic roots. The other thing is, as a child of the 70s, I’ll always remember listening to Top-40 radio on my transistor radio and the feeling of freedom that gave me. I guess it’s a combination of music that frees you somehow, along with being able to evolve.

MI: As a songwriter/pop artist is there a life-long search for hooks, rhymes or harmonies?

AC: Oh, sure! And I’m grateful when those things just fall out of the sky into my path. I’m not very intentional about trying to make those kinds of things happen, and I realize that if I tried harder on that front, I might write more songs. I’ve always had people try to get me into these exercises where you write a song a day, or force yourself to do something creative every day, and I just don’t actually come up with anything good under those circumstances. I have to wait for hooks, rhymes and harmonies to find me, and you never really know when that’s gonna happen, unfortunately.

MI: What is your holy grail in song-writing, the most elusive element in the process for you?

AC: Lyrics take me forever to write. A melody can just hit me on the head and be written in a few moments, but the lyrics always keep me guessing. In the case of our last two albums, we’ve written most of the music together at the house—just stuff that came up in the moment that we crafted into verses, choruses, and bridges—and then I sit with the music for a while until some idea springs to life. On, “Begin the Begone,” I remember having the words to, “Satellite Song,” “Wintergreen,” and, “9,” come rather quickly, while others like, “New Moon,” “Fleeing the Scene,” and, “Embers,” weren’t finished until early last fall. Sometimes it helps to see the direction an album is taking. Late last summer, I already could tell the kind of album this was going to be, so it kind of gave me permission to fill in some of the blanks with these ideas of starting over, escaping some past situation or coming to some sort of realization.

MI: The new album came together after a near fatal car accident, did your survival bring on a life re-evaluation? What surprised you the most in its aftermath?

AC: Yeah, there was a pretty major life re-evaluation in the months following that accident. There are a lot of things we’d been wanting to change, but life’s momentum was just kind of keeping us in our old patterns. Jill and I had been talking about moving to the Santa Cruz Mountains for years, and we’d also been thinking about trying to disengage from our careers a little bit so we could spend more time on creative endeavors. Getting out of Silicon Valley was a way to do both. So we sold our place in Sunnyvale and bought a hexagonal house in Boulder Creek on a couple acres. At the time, I couldn’t believe we were actually doing it, and then when we had to actually put our house on the market and move all our stuff, it was pretty overwhelming. I think surviving the accident kind of empowered us to get through it.

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Otep - Amercian Metal from Los Angels

Otep


by Conor Kuzdas
May 2007

Lots of bands claim to have a cult following, but how many have fans who show up with severed pig heads and ready to propose marriage? How many bands are signed to a major label based on the strength of their live show, even before they release a single song? Hailing from Los Angeles, Otep is just that band.

A band since 2000, the two constants in Otep during that time have been classically-trained bassist “eViL j” and frontwoman, lyricist and band namesake Otep Shamaya. Of late, they’re backed by two new members, guitarist Karma Cheema and drummer Brian Wolff. The reasons for the lineup changes have varied, but Shamaya says that the center of the band remains the same: they are message driven, and center around art for art’s sake. Their latest album, “The Ascension,” has several songs co-written by Mudvayne guitarist Greg Tribbett, and the record is produced by Dave Fortman, who’s previously worked with both Evanescence and Mudvayne.  The band’s sound is familiar enough to anyone who’s heard any of the above bands, but also features flares of spoken word and a female perspective, rarities in heavy radio rock. The new albums is their third, and Shamaya says it’s best considered as a fusion between the two previous releases.

So what makes Otep so special that they have such a following?

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Madison's The Ottomon Empire on the cover of Maximum Ink December 2007

The Ottoman Empire


by Mike Huberty
December 2007

An interview with Madison shredders The Ottomon Empire‘s Mary Zimmer

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