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Brooklyn's Shinobi Ninja on the cover of June 2010 Max Ink

Shinobi Ninja

from Brooklyn by way of Madison
by Troy Johnson
May 2010

A ninja is a stealth mercenary agent who is a highly trained assassin and an expert saboteur.  Like their namesake, the six members of Brooklyn’s Shinobi Ninja are professional musicians with a broad set of skills ranging from turntablism, to hard guitar riffs to off-the-cuff street lyrics.  With an innate ability to rock a party and the musical knowledge to pay homage to a variety of influential artists, Shinobi Ninja has already built a fan following that grows each time they take the stage. 

I spoke with Maniac Mike the band’s lead guitar player while the group was rolling to Virginia Beach for a gig. I asked him him which albums he considered Shinobi Ninja’s biggest influences. He rattled off a diverse range of albums, including Pantera’s “Vulgar Display Of Power”, Janet Jackson’s“Control”and “In Utero”Nirvana’s less heralded follow up to ‘Nevermind.’  He also gave props to classic hip-hop albums by The Notorious B.I.G. and Beastie Boys, which came as no surprise.

The band’s MySpace page features three sample tracks that highlight this wide variety of musical influences. In these tracks, one can quickly identify metal, punk, grunge, electronica, hip-hop, dance, rave, reggae, beats, and Rock n’ Roll blended seamlessly together. This eclectic style lends itself equally to both live and studio music but performing in front of an audience seems to be Shinobi Ninja’s favorite medium. “We are fans of music before anything else,” Mike told me, explaining how a group with such diverse tastes can work so well together. “Half of us are producers and we are all cognitive of each other’s style. No egos.”


Shot To Hell on the cover of Maximum Ink in September 2002

Shot To Hell

by David A. Kulczyk
September 2002

It is not everyday that you see a band fly out of the starting blocks like Shot To Hell.  Their enthralling version of Psychobilly has been burning the boards throughout the Midwest, uniting fans of multiply genres and age groups.

After a trying year that included three different drummers and a van fire, Shot To Hell has finally (hopefully) put their bad luck behind them with the addition of permanent drummer by the name of Daphna Ron, who also contributes backing vocals.

Shot To Hell has two full albums worth of songs to release, which they will record at their own Psyclops studio in La Crosse. Next month they are going to have a remix version of their song (If you) Think I’m Dumb on the Georgia based Illbilly Records compilation “Dropped On The Head - Vol. 2”


Madison's Stoner Rock Shotdown


by Andrew Frey
March 2003

Madison’s Stoner Rock Shotdown, an interview with vocalist Kyle Peterson


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The Shtetlblasters

The Shtetlblasters

by Mike Huberty
July 2010

A shtetl is defined as a small town with a large Jewish population, “You know, like Fiddler on the Roof”, Sam Harmet laughs, while describing the name of his band, THE SHTETLBLASTERS. A play on the term, “ghettoblasters” because of their introduction of funk into Klezmer, the traditional European Jewish dance songs (like the kind you’d hear in the aforementioned Fiddler musical.) So, West Coast meets Eastern Europe in THE SHTETLBLASTERS.


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.


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