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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.”

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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.

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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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The Red Elvises on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2001

The Red Elvises


by David A. Kulczyk
April 2001

Imagine growing up in the old Soviet Union and playing Rock and Roll music? But you have a bigger dream, to play Rock and Roll in the country where it all started, The United States of America.

That’s what the Red Elvises did and have been making America a better place to live. The “now” Venice Beach, California based band have been taking their Eastern Europe style of Rock and Roll to everywhere and anywhere they can plug in their amplifiers.  “We speak the language that people understand,” said Oleg, the former balalaika player.

Oleg Bernov, Igor Yuzoz and Zhenya Kolykhanov have throughout their Red Elvises career, played bass, guitar, and lead guitar respectively, but now because of the loss of their longtime American drummer Avi Sills, the Red Elvises all take turns playing bass, drums and guitar.  “Now it’s a 3 piece band,” said Oleg.  “Our American drummer is gone, spontaneously combusted like in Spinal Tap.”

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Anna Purnell of the Reptile Palace Orchestra on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 2003 - photo by Andrew Frey

The Reptile Palace Orchestra


by Adam Wrathkey
November 2003

The sign on the door read, “REPTILE PALACE ORCHESTRA appearing every weekend this month. Please come and enjoy their eclectic mix of traditional and original world music that rocks. Elvis + Armenia + Funkadelic + Bulgaria = RPO.”

I didn’t recognize the band name, but I decided to check it out anyway. They were already on-stage. Dancers grouped in front of the stage as the band launched into their next number, which the lovely lady singing, announced as “Kochari.” The dance floor came alive as body parts were swung to and fro. More numbers followed fusing world music and ethnic styles. One song was in Spanish, the next from Bulgaria, then another in Armenian. Then Turkish, Finnish, English, Italian, Greek, and occasionally a song in a gypsy dialect. As the band played on, I tracked down a bartender and asked him to tell me more about the band.

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The Residents on the cover of Maximum Ink in February 2001

The Residents


by David A. Kulczyk
February 2001

The Residents have kept their identity secret for twenty-eight years.  They have no faces, no gender, no race and no personality.  This decision was reached because they wanted a separation between their personal and professional lives.  Anonymity was and is their only rule.  These faceless anti-stars have stood on the fringes of the music world happily releasing their often-disturbing music to critical acclaim.  They are supposedly originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, and one is the father of Siamese Twins.  Maybe one is a former Protestant Minister and another has one of the largest model railroad collections in the world. 

Regarded by many to be the original pioneers of the music video, The Residents produced their first video in 1972 (Vileness Fats), but really came into their own when they released Third Reich ‘n Roll in 1977.  In this video, the band is dressed entirely in newspapers, as well as the instruments and set.  There is crude stop action animation filmed in black and white color that makes the hair on your neck stand up.

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The Reverend Horton Heat on the cover of Maximum Ink in February 2002

The Reverend Horton Heat


by Dave Leucinger
February 2002

He genuinely enjoys music - writing it, performing it, and recording it. He is steadfastly loyal to and respectful of his fans. But Jim Heath - better known as the Reverend Horton Heat - has some real issues with the two dominant forces in contemporary music: technology and corporate control. In a recent telephone interview from his home in Dallas, he discussed how these elements have alienated him from the mainstream - for better and for worse.

“Since we did our first record, the Internet and web sites have become more important,” Heath said. “But I’m confused about the Internet. I think the way it’s looking, the music will eventually just be free, and that’s not an easy pill for the industry to swallow,” he said. “For us, we don’t rely a lot on the recordings - we get our revenue off tickets and merchandise. I’m so far from the industry, I don’t have the slightest idea of what will happen. But these bands could stand to lose millions.”

An explosion of computer technology in the studio also has Heath riled up. “Since the 1970s and 80s, we’ve been moving into a world where it’s not the sound of the live band,” he lamented. “You put down the drum tracks, then throw in other loops - it takes fuckin’ forever for an album. It’s defining how music is being written and composed. And all they’re doing is turning knobs, while kick-ass players - people with real talent - are passé. It’s those posing knob-turners who are being marketed.” Brace yourself, folks - he points to one of the iconic rock acts as establishing the trend. “Sit and listen to a Led Zeppelin album - they had three guitar parts and three vocal parts on the records. It was all done with overdubbing. I question the validity of that - when you realize that it can’t be reproduced live. Technology has taken music to a weird place - way out there.”

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