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Bluegrass legend  Ralph Stanly

Ralph Stanley

An interview with the Bluegrass legend
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Ralph Stanley has been entertaining the masses with his distinctive voice and banjo playing since 1946. Influenced by the traditional music of rural Appalachia he formed the Clinch Mountain Boys, and later The Stanley Brothers, with his brother Carter. The rest became history. As a banjo player he developed the unique “Stanley Style” recognized fast, continuous forward rolls followed by the index finger. In 2002 Stanley won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of O Death, produced by T-Bone Burnett for the for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Southwest Virginia? How were times most different back then? Do you ever miss those days?
Ralph Stanley: Growing up in the hills of southwest, Virginia was a wonderful place to be born and raised. Of course we faced hard times, but the good outweighed the bad.
MI: What do you love most about living in such rural places as Dickenson County? Do people ever ask you why you decided to stay in the area you were raised?
RS: I always wanted to stay home in Southwest, VA. A lot of folks ask me why I never moved to Nashville. I love the hills and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
MI: What did it feel like when you got your very first banjo from your aunt all those years ago? Do you remember was running through you mind when you first got it?
RS: I was very excited. My mother gave me a choice to pick from a hog or a banjo. A lot of folks don’t know this but I always dreamed of being a veterinarian in my younger days. I Was interested in animals very much. But my mother could only afford one. Both were $5.00. So I picked the banjo. I’m glad I did.


Rammstein on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 1998  - photo by Paul Gargano


by Paul Gargano
November 1998

Just how far should a band go to win over a crowd? Rammstein go further. Some musicians breathe flames, Till Lindemann sings while engulfed in them. And that’s just to open the show. With only a handful of American dates under their belts, the buzz surrounding German industrial metal giants Rammstein is spreading like wildfire, propelling their Sehnsucht debut to gold status only six months after its release, and earning them the second headliner’s position on Korn’s Family Values tour. That may seem a bit ironic for a band whose lyrics hammer from brazen metal imagery to treading a fine line between sweetly erotic and disturbing sexual extremes. Then again, when the song titles in question are smash single and MTV Buzz Clip “Du Hast”-which translates to English, “You Hate”-and the more provocatively penned “Küss Mich,” “Tier” and “Spiel Mit Mir”-“Kiss Me,” “Beast” and “Play With Me,” respectively-the risk of being too risqué is lost. Rammstein are from Germany, sing entirely in German, and according to guitarist Richard Kruspe, who joined me on the phone from his homeland with a translator, they write their music in German, as well. Whether listening to their pair of tracks on David Lynch’s Lost Highway soundtrack-edits of ``Rammstein” and ``Hierate Mich,” their American unveilings-or any of the tracks on Sehnsucht, they slam with all the eerie forboding of a militant strike, twisting American metal and industrial with their foreign flair for results that crash between hollow hauntings and throbbing mayhem. Then there’s the performance. Live, the six imports from the other side of the crumbled Iron Curtain detonate more explosions than an air raid, and spew enough sexual imagery to dement even the sickest set of Family Values. Behold, America, the wrath of Rammstein is upon us…


Ratdog featuring Bob Weir on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2008


an interview with Bob Weir
by Sarah H. Grant
March 2008

Maggot infested skulls on bony blood-dried bodies, skulking graveyards in midnight mists is how people usually picture the rise of the dead. Bushy-beards and wonky wa-wa waves on a six-string, tie-dye twists and baby boomers lighting up, is however, the reality.

Far from the grave, ex-Grateful Dead frontman Bob Weir and his solo project RatDog, have scoured the sphere, playing over seven hundred shows since 2006. Along with a slew of brilliant musicians such as lead guitarist Mark Karan and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, RatDog has dug deep into the core of improvisational riffs and melodies, and is safely the most musically comprehensive jam band formed post-sixties. A chunky brew of blues, jazz fusion, progressive bluegrass, and folk, RatDog delivers with an equally diverse palette as the latter day Grateful Dead. Weir channels Garcia in numbers like “Black Muddy River” and “Scarlet Begonias.” Yet the spectacle lies in the audience. The peace-loving, daisy-smelling youth that once swarmed Dead shows have become the stock-broking, suit wearing, SUV-driving dads, moms, and grandparents who come see Bob Weir to remember the days of freedom and hope, if just for a couple songs.


Ray Condo and his Ricochets on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 2000 - photo by Dan Zubkoff

Ray Condo And His Ricochets

by Dave Leucinger
May 2000

He’s 46 - well past living the life of your typical traveling musician, complete with vans, hotels, late nights, and lots of driving. But Ray Condo isn’t your typical anything. So he’s able to fit in quite nicely - lead the pack, actually - when the usually independent rockabilly world unites at festivals, such as last month’s Viva Las Vegas. “They’re pretty special,” he said of VLV and its kin. “It’s a ‘meeting of the tribes’ where the culture comes together once or twice a year.”

Amongst those tribes, Condo certainly rates as chief - or at least elder medicine man. The potions he mixes are old recipes - first blended in the 1930s at dance halls between Tulsa and Austin. It’s a concoction known as western swing - a blend of instrumentation and rhythm uniting the Kansas City swing of the era and early electrified country, complete with singing pedal steel guitars. “The draw of western swing is that it has so many modern elements - like speeded-up guitar and a tough rhythm section. These were the elements that formed early rockabilly and rock & roll.” Through the 1940s, artists such as Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys and the Light Crust Doughboys sent many boot heels tapping. “By the late ‘40s, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell stripped the music into smaller combos - they were the Louis Jordans of the western scene. They put an end to those bands.”


Razor Fist

Razor Fist

by Sal Serio
February 2010

I interviewed singer TK Xanax of Oshkosh metal band Razor Fist, who formed in 2005. TK’s compatriots in metal mayhem are guitarist Nick Moyle, drummer Dave Patterson, and bassist TJ Lafever.

Maximum Ink:  What is the band member breakdown of the groups you guys were previously in?
TK Xanax:  Well, first off we’ll start with the Razor Fist line-up which consists of Nick Moyle-Guitar/Backing vocals, TJ Lafever-Bass guitar, Dave Patterson-Drums, and TK Xanax-Vocals. Over the years TJ and Xanax were in Hill Of The Dead, Nick and Dave in Hell On Earth, Nick, Dave, and TJ in Tower Of Babel, Dave and Xanax were in THC (Total Hardcore), and Dave is currently in Bag Of Gremlins (Xanax was also briefly in BOG). So basically Razor Fist has quite an incestuous past with all of us having played in various bands together since the mid-90’s. For this reason Razor Fist formed easily and extremely quickly in 2005 and we had our first album “Razor Fist Force” recorded less than a year later. From the first rehearsal we all knew that we had something special with Razor Fist.


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Real Knives captured at High Noon Saloon - photo by Rise Up Lights

Real Knives

An interview with Madison riff-rockers, Real Knives
by Mike Huberty
March 2014

Headbangers with a sense of humor and some mean-ass riffs, Madison’s REAL KNIVES are dirty whiskey-soaked hard rock. Bassist/vocalist Wade Coisman, lead guitarist Shane Keck, drummer Kai Anderson, and guitarist/vocalist Mark Weber are four dudes dedicated to abusing their instruments and livers while dishing out face-melting guitar solos and fist-pumping beats. March 24th they’re opening for Buckcherry at The Red Zone (formerly The Annex at Regent Street Retreat), so we decided to take some time to talk to the band about the upcoming show and what they’re up to.


2534 ViewsPermalinkReal Knives Website
Chicago's Rebels Without Applause on the cover of Maximum Ink in September 2000 - photo by Craig Gieck

Rebels Without Applause

by John Noyd
September 2000

“It doesn’t matter, we just do what we do.” Day after day, year after year, this has become the motto of guitarist Greg Fulton, singer and songwriter for the explosive metal outfit Rebels Without Applause.  Weathering a rotating line-up of musicians that made up the speed and thrash metal projects Znowhite and Cyclone Temple, Greg, along with bassist Scott Schafer, has seen metal firsthand since 1986.  From opening up for Vanilla Ice to experiencing record label runarounds, the Chicago natives have withstood the trials of regular commutes to play New York clubs and confronting the black man playing white music complex.  From holding down multiple part-time jobs to pretending to be the band’s manager only to hear how that guitarist has got a real attitude, Greg has seen more than his fair share of music’s peculiar brand of justice.

“A lot of people think when they join a band it’s a short trip from their day jobs to the tour bus.”  Having already gone through a string of lead singers Greg was not eager to deal with teaching someone else how he wanted them to sing his songs.  Greg would sing his songs into a tape machine to show how he wanted his songs to be sung, but he never thought his voice was up to snuff.  With friend and former Cyclone Temple guitar tech, Mark Alano, working alongside Greg’s blast furnace fretwork, RWA’s two-guitar assault allows Greg plenty of space to play front man.  A soul-inspired delivery smothered in machine tooled rhythms, Greg’s evangelical vocals are thunderbolts in a raging storm.


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