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Yakuza


by Andrew Frey
January 2003

An interview with Yakuza singer and saxophone player Bruce Lamont

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Alex Schaaf of Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich

Interview with Yellow Ostrich Mastermind Alex Schaaf
by John Noyd
February 2014

Starting in Prairie DuChien before landing in Brooklyn NY by way of Appleton, singer-songwriter Alex Schaff has gone from recording in his bedroom with a drum machine to fronting the indie-rock band YELLOW OSTRICH. With a bold new album and a tour that takes him back to Wisconsin, MAXIMUM INK took the opportunity to ask Alex a few questions.

MAXIMUM INK: With an album titled, “Cosmos,” and song titles, “Terror,” “In the Dark,” and, “Don’t Be Afraid,” it seems like you were tackling some deep issues.

ALEX SCHAAF: A lot of the album was inspired by astronomy. I really got into Carl Sagan; read all of his books and watched his TV series (which the album gets its name from). I quickly came to realize that “science” wasn’t as boring as I thought, that the way the universe works is amazing and awe-inspiring and that the real explanation for things is way more magical and incredible than any of the alternate explanations that are out there. Those kinds of things were running through my head when I was writing a lot of the lyrics. I took those ideas and adapted them to a smaller, more down-to-earth perspective. The songs aren’t really about space or astronomy; they’re about regular people and day-to-day life, with the added perspective and knowledge that studying the way the universe works brings to you. I love that in a normal day we can both think, “the sun’s going to die someday, we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do next,” and, “Do I have enough room on my DVR to record the new Mad Men episode.” I got really interested in the way those two perspectives co-exist.

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Plastic Ono Band

Yoko Ono


by Mike Huberty
February 2010

An artist resting comfortably at the fringes of every popular movement since the 1950’s (performance art, rock n’ roll, weird videos, peace activism), Yoko Ono has been freaking out the straights for over half a century, man. Universally reviled by millions for supposedly breaking up The Beatles and generally being an undeserving Mary Magdalene to John Lennon’s rock n’ roll Messiah, it’s refreshing to learn that at 76 years old (Yeah, Baby Boomers, I didn’t believe it either, but have you seen Paul lately?) Yoko Ono is the opposite of being the mad queen of batshit crazy band girlfriends and a sweet lady confident in herself and her creations. Her English is still broken and sometimes she’s a little too “aw-shucks, I’m just an artist that walked into this great fantastically wealthy luck and fame.” But she’s unfailingly nice and stubbornly prolific. She released her latest album in 2009 with THE PLASTIC ONO BAND spearheaded by her son, Sean Lennon, and the disc, Between My Head And The Sky, has garnered the best reviews in her career. She’s gearing up for a reunion performance in February with the band and there’s going to be appearances by people like Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Scissor Sisters, Bette Midler, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Mark Ronson. So she must have not pissed too many greats off. I guess there’s hope for Courtney Love yet.

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Wisconsin native Claire Wellin of NYC's Youth In A Roman Field

Youth In A Roman Field

An interview with singer and songwriter Claire Wellin of Youth In A Roman Field
by Mike Huberty
January 2018

New York City’s YOUTH IN A ROMAN FIELD has a very Wisconsin connection with its front woman Claire Wellin. While she was raised in Wausau, she’s spent time all over the Midwest and landed in NYC where this talented multi-instrumentalist has put together a band that mixes up folk and jazz, as instantly likable for Indie Folk fans as those who enjoy spinning some of that Great American Songbook. Claire is playing a solo show at The Frequency on Tuesday January 9th and we spoke to her to preview the night.

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Dweezil Zappa

Zappa Plays Zappa

Touring the Roxy, the Pabst, & Elsewhere
by Sal Serio
August 2013

Zappa Plays Zappa returns to Wisconsin with a new tour, celebrating Frank Zappa’s classic live ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’ album. In advance of the September 8th Pabst Theater concert in Milwaukee, Maximum Ink had the opportunity to speak with band leader Dweezil Zappa. [author’s note: Zappa Plays Zappa is also performing the “Roxy & Elsewhere 40th Anniversary Tour” at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Monday, February 17, 2014.]

Maximum Ink:  Are there plans to release new original Dweezil music in near future?

Dweezil Zappa:  Yeah! There’s a project I just finished working on, that will come out in a few stages. I do a music camp called Dweezilla, and this year I invited other guitar instructors to be a part of it, and we did a comprehensive guitar course. In years past, just my band would teach, and you could have drum, bass, keyboard, [or] saxophone lessons, but this year was only guitar. I used that as an opportunity to collaborate with some of the people that I invited to be guitar instructors. So, there will be a Dweezilla guitar release, and the first installment of it will have four songs on it, I think. There’s music that has sections for seven different guitar instructors to improvise on. My piece of music is called “Dinosaur” and will be coming out, probably, around the same time as the tour, or may come out in time for the October tour.

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Zeroed Hero

Zeroed Hero

An interview with vocalist Dean Kesler and bassist Chris Franczek of Zeroed Hero
by Mike Huberty
April 2018

Vocalist Dean Kesler and bassist Chris Franczek are long-time collaborators and musicians in the Madison scene. Their latest project, ZEROED HERO, adds Alison Margaret on keyboards and vocals and Tony Kille on drums. The band’s new album Love Letters To A Mannequin is guitar-driven alt-rock that ranges from the crunchy (“Precipice”) to the Americana-flavored (“Read Just Like My Heart”) to the metallic (“Dog Years”). Many of the songs have a tight riff-y sound from a careful interlocking of the rock n’ roll standard guitar, bass, and drums, but that’s important because it exposes the lyrics before they open into powerful and dramatic choruses. Kesler’s voice is sweetened by Margaret’s female harmonies that add a certain melancholy to the songs. Local axeslinger Dain Di Mattia (from MICHAEL ALEXANDER & BIG WHISKEY) handled much of the guitar work on the record, but Steve Truesdell will be handling the duties live. File Love Letters under Modern Power Pop that blends the earnest conviction of 70s rock with the precise sonic power of late 90s alternative.

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Zoe Scott

Zoe Scott

singer/songwriter
by Tina Hall
September 2010

London born singer/songwriter Zoe Scott has been playing guitar and composing songs since the age of 9 and was trained in theatre at a palace in Rome at the Piazza Venezia. She acted briefly is several horror films and during her earlier years she lived in a tent with her sister Victoria.

Zoe’s fans may recognize her voice from the commercial for Gillette Venus Razors and her latest album Woman on Top features the work of The Wax Team (Rhianna, Nora Jones), and master mixers Jim Scott (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Mike Shipley (Aerosmith, Shania Twain).

Maximum Ink: Your parents where artists.Do you think it was helpful to your musical aspirations to have the support of such creative people?
Zoe Scott: My upbringing was highly creative and it has very much influenced my ability to sit for periods of time in a house, cave or van, and focus on writing songs. I think my parents are very inspired people who have a great sense of joy de verve. You have to have quite a lot of mojo to want to move to the other side of the world and make rock and roll. My dad introduced me to rock and roll with his music collection and beat writers like Jack Kerouac. The artists were very much talked and discussed and idealized in my household. My dad describes himself as a boho, sort for bohemian. My parents were beautiful and talented in the 60’s. I think there was some kind of ideal growing up, which was artists contribute a great deal to the spirit of the world and it’s a cool thing to be a free thinker and observe the world through artists eyes. They were, however, incredibly shocked when I said I wanted to go into rock and roll and move to Los Angeles!

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