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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.”


Madison's Robert J on the cover of Maximum Ink in June 2008

Robert J

by Kristen Winiarski
June 2008

A man who simply goes by “Robert J” fronts the band The Rowdy Prairie Dogs who jam on the Potawatomi Stage at Summerfest on its concluding day, Sunday, July 6 at noon. I had the opportunity to talk with this man who has been through so much just in the last year: dealing with a heart attack, forming a new band, and now, preparing to play Summerfest next month. When asked about the festival, Robert J said, “I’ve played there [Summerfest] about 6 or 7 times, mostly with the Moon Gypsies, I played with a band called Howlin’ at the Moon…I’m always excited to play Summerfest; it’s a big party.”

Robert J got started in the music industry at a young age, playing the guitar when he was just two years old. He is a guitarist and singer, but most of all a songwriter. When asked how he got started in the music industry, it was obvious it was a long effort, “Ohhhhh okay, actually I graduated from college and I had been playing in bands in Detroit. And I jumped in the band van and moved to Colorado in a van.  I had been playing a little bit, but that was pretty much when I decided okay, I’m just going to go be a musician for a while.” When he jumped into this van, he was also jumping into the band Happy Trails, merely one of about 20 bands that Robert J has been a part of.


Robert Randolph & the Family Band on the cover of Maxmum Ink in June 2003

Robert Randolph and the Family Band

by Brett Lemke
June 2003

With the entrancing sound of Robert Randolph’s 13 string Pedal Steel, a brutally tight rhythm section, and a dynamic Hammond organ, Robert Randolph & The Family Band have blasted through the jamband scene. Their combination of Gospel, Blues, and relentless passion explodes with a burning fury onstage. All in all, they justly deserved their recent W.C. Handy award for Best New Artist. “We know what to play when it comes to gospel, and how you’re supposed to play it,” said Robert Randolph during a recent interview with Maximum Ink.

Years spent growing up in church in Orange, New Jersey and staying active in the musical community of his congregation helped 24 year-old Robert develop his skill playing the lap steel guitar. His two cousins, Bassist Danyell Morgan and drummer Marcus Randolph, along with longtime friend/organist John Ginty make the Family Band. “We used to play Ted’s Jam in church all the time,” said Robert, “The music at our church is truly unique. Everybody gets involved. They call it ‘dancing under the holy spirit.’ “




An interview with bassist Pär Sundström
by Michelle Harper
February 2018

Nothing can prepare you for the epic sound of Swedish metal band Sabaton. Except maybe, a shield, sword and battle gear.

Sabaton, which translates into “a knight’s foot armor”, draws their musical inspiration directly from the great wars and battles throughout history. Their ninth album entitled “The Last Stand” was released in 2016 to rave reviews. Drawing inspiration from famous “last stands” in great historic battles, the songs in this concept album march from the triumphant echoes of victorious anthems to chanting battle cries in minor keys, each track masterfully depicting the spirit of heroic last efforts of soldiers of yore. The album’s first track entitled “Sparta” intensely recaptures the heroic yet tragic last stand of the famous “300” Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae. And the fast and furious driving sound of “Shiroyama” rigorously illustrates the last stand of the Samurai in the 1877 Samurai rebellion on Japan’s Mount Shiroyama.

Sabaton bassist and co-founder Pär Sundström talked with me about Sabaton’s partnership with international game developer and publisher Wargaming, a once-in-a lifetime fan experience and why he’s one of the few metal musicians who love sitting behind a desk doing office work:


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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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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.


Second Soul

Second Soul

An interview with Troy Stetina of Second Soul
by Mike Huberty
September 2012

Shredder. While some cubicle drones might immediately think about office equipment and geeks might conjure up images of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ greatest foe, headbangers think of dudes that can play the guitar. No, not just rhythm, but real guitar. Lotsa sweaty dudes can power chord their way through a set. We think of leads. And not just octaved melody lines that pass for “solos”, but guitar histrionics that melt your goddamn face. Licks and runs that make long-haired high schoolers run back to their Mom’s basements to practice their scales. SECOND SOUL is the Wisconsin band that’s taking the kids back to school. It’s hard rock with a modern sound, as comfortable next to HINDER (And who the Hell named that band?) as they would be next to RANDY RHOADS-era OZZY OSBOURNE. This Milwaukee-Madison based group has an album that’s ready to hit. With a recording that’s ready for radio, a full-throated lead singer in Scott Yanke, and a shredder’s shredder in Troy Stetina, SECOND SOUL was a long-time coming. Dues paid. Songs written. Stetina has sold over a million copies of educational guitar materials. Now, it’s time for the teacher to become the artist.


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