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Biff Byford of Saxon


An Interview with Biff Byford of Saxon
by Jeff Muendel
November 2013

Maximum Ink: I want to introduce you to Maximum Ink and Max Ink Radio and let everyone know about the band.  I’d like to briefly touch on the history of the band.  Obviously, you guys are considered to be a part of the new wave of heavy metal that included not only Saxon, but Iron Maiden and Def Leppard as the biggest bands… How do you feel about having that label?
Biff Byford: Yeah, it’s ok, it’s not a bad label, really, I mean, it probably means more in Europe than it does in America.  It’s a good label, I don’t mind it, I think Def Leppard doesn’t like to use it.  But I think Maiden are okay with it, y’know. But yeah, it just appeared in time from 1980 until about 1986, ’86 when all that music was coming out of England.

MI: It’s interesting, probably because Def Leppard’s the band that moved away from heavy metal altogether and maybe became a little bit more of a pop band.
BB: I suppose they’re a little more rock n’ roll like we were in the early days and somebody coined the phrase, “new wave of British heavy metal”, which meant we weren’t really Sabbath or Zeppelin, or Purple.  We were a new generation of bands.  Obviously, we were heavily influenced by these bands but I just think some journalist picked a point that we were the newer generation.


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Milwaukee's The Scarring Party

The Scarring Party

by Dan Vierck
January 2008

The Scarring Party could be the set up to a joke wherein a tuba, banjo and an accordion take the stage. They could be a Tenacious D, a Juiceboxxx or a Macho Man Randy Savage rap album, but they’re not. They are a bizarre exercise in the defiance of time. They are practitioners of parallelisms, administers of allegory and subtle masters of musicianship. They could soon be the undisputed new big thing of Wisconsin. For now though, they are simply Milwaukee’s two-year-old four piece, neo-vaudevillian folk-pop favorites.

“With all that stuff [we bring] on stage it’s almost like prop comedy, to some people” Daniel Bullock, songwriter of the group says, “and that’s why they look down their noses at it.” What’s clever banter on stage, becomes coffeehouse quips in, well, a coffeehouse with tuba player Isa Carini and percussionist Chris Roberts backing him up there too. “I think when you’re in an acoustic band,” Bullock continues, “the way you create tonal difference is by pulling out new instruments. There’s always more stuff that can make it different, you know? It’s never a matter of getting a new pedal or something, it’s always a matter of ‘Oh my god, now I’ve got to like, build this thing’ or ‘I’ve got to rub this instrument against that instrument to make this totally different sound.’ People think it’s novelty, but really it’s just…”

“I think people get into it too, the instrumentation” percussionist Chris Roberts adds. “They’ll be like, ‘Wow, there’s a tuba on stage’, maybe I’ll watch this band. Not just like a typical rock band.” Indeed, typical rock band they are not.


The Scarring Party

The Scarring Party

Audition with The Scarring Party
by Dan Vierck
August 2010

I met Isa Carini at a roller derby tournament. I immediately recognized her as the dress-wearing, tuba and trumpet and whatever else playing femme fatal of the Scarring Party. I tried to be coy. She was selling cigars, jewelry and PBR tallboys. I bought several pieces of jewelry. I asked her if I could watch the band rehearse sometime, she said No. She said though, that the band was looking to replace someone who’d just left, if I played. As it turns out, I didn’t.

This was a little after the Scarring Party had released Come Away From the Light, the follow up to their debut, A Concise Introduction. Their music is definitive, iconic and creepy - sounding like nothing except things that are scary. The sound is exclusively acoustic, arrangements consisting of banjo, guitar, bass, tuba, accordion, typewriter, xylophone and any number of odd things the band manages to scrape together. This is not for the sake of novelty - a band after anything so cheap would’ve bowed out by now.


The Schwillbillies on the December 2002 cover of Maximum Ink - photo by Rokker

The Schwillbillies

by Brett Lemke
December 2002

An interview with Geeter of Madison’s punk-hillbilly outfit The Schwillbillies


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Sean Spillane

Sean Spillane

An interview with Singer/Songwriter Sean Spillane
by Tina Hall
May 2012

Sean Spillane first gained notice from his time in the critically acclaimed band ARLO. His career in music has led to various national and international tours and four full length albums. With work that spans genres Spillane makes music with a genuine touch of soul that is hard to find. Most recently Sean composed and recorded the delightfully edgy soundtrack for the film The Woman (based on the writing of Jack Ketchum and directed by Lucky McKee). He also released the 80’s inspired soundtrack to Brian Keene’s Ghoul. At the moment he is working hard to score the soundtrack for Jug Face.

Maximum Ink: When you first moved from Texas to California did you experience any culture shock? What was your first though upon arriving in California?
Sean Spillane: I didn’t really have any culture shock. Most of my family is from the San Francisco area so I knew California was where I wanted to be. Los Angeles was bigger and more diverse than I ever imagined, and that’s why 20 years later I’m still here and still loving it.

MI: As a major fan of the Stones what did you think of Mick Jagger’s recent appearance on SNL? Why do you think their music has such timeless appeal?
SS: I actually missed that performance on SNL, I was at a friend’s birthday party this last Saturday night. What makes the Stones timeless? I have to say it’s the hooks Mick and Keith write. All of their best songs are great pop songs, but the way they were recorded and arranged disguises the pop with a grit and coolness that nobody else can duplicate.

MI: Your music has an honest feel to it that gives it a more genuine feel to it?
SS: Thanks! When I’m just cutting loose and being myself like I was on “The Woman” Soundtrack, my songwriting process won’t allow me to be anything but honest. Anytime I’m writing and it feels pretentious, it’s like a buzzer goes off in my brain and any song I write that gives me that feeling, never gets finished and never sees the light of day. Being able to inject emotional honesty into music is something that took me a long time to get comfortable with. I think that now more than ever, I can write with the same voice in many different musical genres and still feel like it’s me, even if I’m having a laugh like I was on the “Ghoul” soundtrack. Really, what it comes down to is that I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m cool. I’m writing for myself and if anyone thinks it’s cool, then great. If not, I don’t really care. That’s most likely where the honesty comes from.

I’d say I’m an honest fellow, sometimes to a fault. Being honest just feels better. It makes your relationships in life better. I’ve found as I get older that I say this phrase more and more “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Most of the time I use that phrase, it’s due to me having to protect myself and my music in a way where I’m being honest with myself. Rip the band aid off and just move on from there. Also, being able to say No is a very honest reply most of the time that can be extremely tough to say in certain circumstances.


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Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski make up the female duo Seasaw - photo by Scotify


A conversation with Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski
by Laura Sorensen
August 2016

Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski make up the female duo Seasaw. They originally met in Freeport, IL from a chance encounter when the two women worked at a local restaurant. The name represents the contrast in their working styles and personalities which are very opposite from each other. While the sea is soft a saw has a hard edge. Both operate using pulling and pushing actions. The spin on an actual seesaw comes from two people working on opposite sides to create balance and produce a smooth up and down movement. This is the way Meg and Eve approach problem solving and how they work through their creative process.


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Seattle's Second Coming on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 1999

Second Coming

by Paul Gargano
May 1999

Few will argue the fact that rock music has fallen on bad times. Sure, the music’s out there, but by the time you’ve sorted through the bands whose pants are the only thing drooping lower than their guitar tunings, and ruled out the carefree world of men wearing mascara and lipliner, whose got the energy to look for it? For most, it’s just easier to stick to the classics, relying on Led Zeppelin for all-out rock virtuosity, counting on The Doors for a mature spin on the outlandish element, and looking to Jimi Hendrix for a guitar solo worth writing home about.

From the throbbing rock of the band’s classically-tinted sound, it’s obvious that they share that sentiment. And have targeted their efforts on doing something to fill that void. Clocking in at over seven minutes in length, “Confessional” might not be the most commercially viable cut on their self-titled, Capitol Records debut, but it’s definitely the most telling. The most telling of their sound, style, roots and direction.


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