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Sick Puppies

Sick Puppies

An interview with bassist of Sick Puppies Emma Anzai
by Aaron Manogue
June 2011

Perhaps the biggest compliment that you can pay to a festival such as Summerfest isn’t mentioning that it’s the largest music festival in the entire world. Yes, this is a huge feat considering the size of the festivals in Europe, but it’s still not the biggest compliment. The biggest compliment must be that every musician we seem to talk to views playing Summerfest as one of the highest honors that a band can receive. This idea is no different for Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies. Maximum Ink spoke with Emma about what an honor it is to play Summerfest, her past experiences there, and what’s next for the Australian rock ‘n’ rollers.

Maximum Ink: You guys are slated to play Summerfest on July 6. What’s it like to be able to play the at world’s largest music festival and play on the same stage as some of music’s most talented musicians?
Emma Anzai: It’s pretty surreal and I don’t think it’ll ever stop being that way for us. We can’t wait to check out the artists on this year’s lineup.


The Siegel-Schwall Band - originally from Madison, WI

The Siegel-Schwall Band

by Brett Lemke
January 2006

The Siegel-Schwall Band first emerged in 1966 on Vanguard Records in the height of the Summer Of Love blues boomlet. Young Corky & Jim were students of the Chicago Blues and could be found cutting their chops in the Windy City’s clubs with legends like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Hubert Sumlin on an average Thursday evening. Siegel-Schwall released nine studio albums and collaborated with conductor Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra before parting ways in 1974. Their traditional routine of yearly reunion shows since their 1988 Reunion Concert album on Alligator Records has finally been broken, and the group has released Flash Forward, their first studio record in 32 years featuring all originals, and their most polished effort to date. Maximum Ink spoke with Jim Schwall and drummer Sam Lay about what lies ahead for them.

Originally starting out as a duo for small club gigs, Jim would play guitar, Corky would play piano, harp, and percussion, and they both would sing. A rotating rhythm section was added when bookings for larger gigs became standard. When they were signed to Vanguard Records, Siegel-Schwall released four records: The Siegel-Schwall Band, Say Siegel-Schwall, Shake and Siegel-Schwall 70. The group moved to RCA/Wooden Nickel in 1971 and released Sleepy Hollow, 953 West, Last Summer and the aptly titled R.I.P. before breaking up in 1974. Siegel went on to pursue a solo career intertwined with a fusion of classical music and blues and Jim Schwall earned a PhD in Music.


Madison's Sigourney Weavers

The Sigourney Weavers

An Interview with the members of The Sigourney Weavers
by Teri Barr
June 2014

The four women who make up the unique band known as The Sigourney Weavers, could just as easily call themselves The Ellen Ripleys (the main character actress Sigourney Weaver plays in the Alien movies). I’ve seen an alien-faced balloon or several appear at their shows, otherwise the mystery to their musical imagination is hidden by the fact, this band rocks!

The Sigourney Weavers came together for what was supposed to be a one-and-done effort, and luckily realized they had some special chemistry. The band’s first album is just out, and more original music is in the works.
And the fun and games inspired by another universe keep you on your toes, as I learned when recently asking Sandy Kowal (drums, vocals), Ellie Erickson (lead guitar, vocals), Pam Barrett (lead vocals, guitar), and Julie Kiland (bass guitar, vocals) to share their secrets from within The Sigourney Weavers with Maximum Ink. 

Maximum Ink: How did each of you get started in music, and what brought the four of you together as a group?
Sandy Kowal:
I started drumming when I was 16. My high school boyfriend and I started a band and needed a drummer. I was elected. Pam and Ellie formed The Sigourney Weavers and had been playing together for a little while, but needed a drummer and bass player for a Girls Rock Camp fundraiser. They found me through a friend, I found Julie through another friend. We meshed well and decided to keep the band going after the fundraiser.
Ellie Erickson: I played my first gig when I turned 30 after I found, if I didn’t force myself to learn to play by ear, I’d have to stop listening to music—because if I wasn’t going to play some instrument, I’d need to go deaf. And I prefer to do that with rock and roll rather than an ice pick. Now as a band, we’re all musical freaks with a lot of different bands in the dust bin of our history, and an industrial size dumpster left to fill up if we don’t all get hit by a meteorite or upload to the alien singularity I hope we get before the bozos drive our civilization’s bus into the junkyard of history.
Pam Barrett: What am I supposed to say now, Ellie!? O.K., it wasn’t until I volunteered to play a Girls Rock Camp fundraiser and started freaking out after realizing, if I didn’t pull something together, I’d have to play it solo. So, Ellie agreed to play with me, then after a few practices said we need a drummer, and found Sandy. Then Sandy said, we need a bass player and found Julie. And we started to play together and realized, we sound damn good! And this is fun!
Julie Kiland: My background is much more serious. I started in high school with the band and chorus, then played in cover bands until I was found by The Sigourney Weavers.

MI:  What’s your goal with the band?
I enjoy playing music and writing songs. So far it’s been fun with The SW’s. When it stops being fun is when I’ll stop. For me, it’s a good way to express myself.
EE: Mine is to keep jumping around and tripping over stuff on stage, while playing that boat anchor guitar, while also having a few thousand metric shit-tons of fun until I fall over dead. Or the band fires me because my idiot streak is getting bigger than my savant streak.
PB: Playing in a band is where it’s at for me. I’ve never wanted to play solo. There’s something special about playing with other musicians and creating something unique. It’s pleasing. It’s calming. And it’s a bonus that other people actually enjoy listening! My goal is to keep playing out and as long as people want to listen, we’ll keep creating a different performance every time we play.
JK: I just want to get out there, have fun, and play music with my talented and sometimes freaky band-mates. Oh, and I’d like to receive a cease and desist letter from Sigourney Weaver.


Silence is Broken

An interview with vocalist Aaron Fishel and drummer Kyle Urbanik of Silence is Broken
by Aaron Manogue
December 2010

We all constantly hear people talking about their favorite local band. You know, the one that your best friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law is in and “they’re the next big thing!” It’s almost by default when we go to local shows nowadays that you’ll hear a few locals telling you you’re going to be blown away by their performance and music. And also as we all know, this is very rarely true. Then we ran into a band called Silence is Broken, and all those things we had heard were true. Maximum Ink Magazine sat down with vocalist Aaron Fishel and Drummer Kyle Urbanik to talk about where they came from, and where they’re going.

Maximum Ink: So how did you guys get your start?

Aaron Fishel (Vocals): Me, Jamison (Parker), the guitar player, and Shawn Wade, our bassist, started this band five years ago. We had just gotten tired of the scene around our hometown of Rockford (Illinois). Same bands, same people; like regurgitated everything. We’ve been doing nothing but shows. We’ve toured with Dope and Anew Revolution, 12 stones, played (WJJO) Band Camp this year, which was a major highlight for us. Pushing and pushing and pushing.


JD Simo at Atwoodfest 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin - photo by Teri Barr


an interview with guitarist/singer JD Simo
by Teri Barr
October 2015

He is old school, and proud of it. J.D. Simo says pounding the pavement to meet people, and playing live night after night, is what suits him and his style of music. Simo grew up in Chicago, quit high school, and moved to Nashville where as a studio musician he played on more than 500 albums. He says many were popular names we may recognize – which made him recognize – he didn’t want to play sessions the rest of his life. In just the last five years, the now 30-year-old released his own album, formed a trio named SIMO, played festivals, opened for Greg Allman, Deep Purple, and recorded another album. It will be released in January, 2016; while SIMO, continues to tour non-stop, adding Europe to the schedule this winter. He also just got married. Simo the man, and SIMO the trio. Both are something special. I talked with him backstage during July’s AtwoodFest as his group closed out the first night, and found him to be kind, smart, and witty. Our recent phone conversation was very similar, and though on the road, he seemed to enjoy talking about returning to Madison, and what has shaped the way he commands the stage.


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SIMO on the cover of Maximum Ink music magazine


SIMO comes back to play AtwoodFest 2017
by Teri Barr
July 2017

The bluesy tunes of J.D. Simo have hit a new high. He has written hundreds of songs, traveled the world, and J.D. has even cut his trademark shoulder-length hair since the last time we talked with him for Maximum Ink just after a successful performance at AtwoodFest a few years ago. But his history in music remains the same; he grew up in Chicago, quit high school, and moved to Nashville. He became a young studio musician and played on more than 500 albums. He says many were popular names we may recognize which made him recognize he didn’t want to play sessions the rest of his life. He formed the SIMO trio, and this second chapter of his music history is still being written.

Here’s an update on some of the things we talked about during our first interview:

Maximum Ink: You’ll be back for a second AtwoodFest show in July, but you’ve played Madison a couple of times since your first AtwoodFest show. What is it about playing here that draws you back?
J.D. Simo: We try not to have expectations of a place when we play there, but Madison is beautiful, and I felt a creative contingent of people, similar to Boulder or Asheville. That’s a feeling that sustains you as you get on stage, and it helps you get into a rhythm. It’s what I did at the first AtwoodFest show, and after a few songs I looked out to see the place was packed. It’s something I want to remember! I’ve actually had people tell me, sometimes as a band is climbing, you forget to live in the moment, so you have to enjoy it. It really was a show we’ll never forget, and I’m looking forward to playing AtwoodFest again!

MI: SIMO is a three piece, but you have always sounded so much bigger. Not louder, but bigger. I saw you recently, and the sound is so consistent.
JD: I am so very proud of the three of us! We are so conscientious of our sound, and it’s why we use vintage gear, in the context of our heros like the James Gang or the Jeff Beck Group. We want to earn a stake in that lineage. Plus, as a trio, you have to give 100% of your talent, and energy. You have to be completely committed to the music, and we aim to do that every night, so we know not one of us can slack off on it.


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Sir! No Sir!

An Interview with Sir! NoSir! band members Nate Onsrud and Anthony Leskinen
by Larry Bush
October 2013

Sir! NoSir! is a Madison trio with a message, and Nate Onsrud, Anthony Leskinen, and Jeramaya Wunderlin certainly know how to get their point across.  In a time of immense social and political unrest in America, the band has raided local airwaves with a raucous and socially conscious crash course in rock and roll excellence.  On their new 5 song teaser “Combating The Carnival”, the group has mixed a sonic brew that encapsulates both the rock and roll acumen of early 70’s British metal and the aggression of the hardcore punk rock of the past quarter century.  Fresh off the release of the EP, guitarist Nate Onsrud and drummer Anthony Leskinen were kind enough to share some words with Max Ink on their music, their message, and what the future holds for Sir! NoSir!

Maximum Ink: You guys have all played in multiple bands around Madison over the years.  How did SNS come together?
Nate Onsrud: I worked with Joel Croyle, who was the original drummer.  He and I talked about getting together and just jamming.  I was kind of a beginning electric guitarist.  Joel had played in previous bands with J and asked him to join us.  We weren’t planning on being a band, but the more we played together, things began to form, and we just started writing songs.  Picked up Tony, and you couldn’t ask for a better drummer.


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