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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.

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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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Sevendust on cover of Maximum Ink one month after changing their name from Crawlspace.... April 1997

Sevendust


by Paul Gargano
April 1997

They say hindsight is 20/20, but in the nonchalant manner Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose recalls the addition of vocalist Lajon to the Atlanta quintet’s mix, you’d never imagine this band was the latest focus of attention for indie juggernaut TVT - the same label that launched Nine Inch Nails into the national spotlight, turned Gravity Kills into one of the last years most amazing success stories, and is nurturing Sevendust’s ascent ot the top of the heavy metal market.

“We thought that if we could find a singer who could sing over the heavy music, it might sound original,” Rose explained at New York City’s Coney Island High, the site of Sevendust’s coming-out performance April 12 (only three days before the release of their self-titled debut), their first Big Apple show since singing with TVT less than a year ago.

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Sevendust's second time on the cover of Maximum Ink in August 1999 - photo by Paul Gargano

Sevendust 1999


by Paul Gargano
August 1999

Sevendust have performed 462 shows over a 21 month span, spending their first few months on the road in a van, graduating to an RV, and not relocating to their first tour bus until their second year of touring. Show No. 462 was followed by a much-deserved three week break, which immediately segued into three months of writing, two months of recording, two more weeks off, a week of rehearsal, then a return to the road for a recently completed run as a headliner of the Vans Warped Tour. Did we mention their prime billing at Woodstock ‘99? Now, with the August 24 release of sophomore effort Home and their current tour with support acts Powerman 5000, Staind and Skunk Anansie, they’re ready to start the cycle all over again.

Yes, the Atlanta quintet have come a long way since appearing on the cover of Maximum Ink back in April ‘97. It was then, little more than two years ago, that hard rock and heavy metal were struggling to regain a foothold in a scene ruled by alterna-rock radio. But times have changed. Case in point, Madison’s 94.1. WJJO made the conversion to a hard rock format just as Sevendust entered the scene. It’s clear that they’ve helped each other with the success both have achieved.

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Sevendust's third time on the cover of Maximum Ink in February 2006 - photo by Andrew Gargano

Sevendust 2006


by Paul Gargano
February 2006

Onstage, Sevendust frontman Lajon Witherspoon is widely acknowledged as one of hard rock’s most gripping performers and electrifying voices. Offstage, he’s seldom heard, mellow as a church mouse, and as mild-mannered as they come.

But something has changed.

Less than a week into his band’s first tour in more than six months, Witherspoon gets notably agitated when asked about the prospects of hitting the road in support of two albums - their first studio effort since joining forces with new label Winedark Records, and the recently issued greatest hits album issued by their former label.

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Sexy Ester on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2013 - photo by Nick Berard

Sexy Ester

An interview with Sexy Ester lead vocalist, Lyndsay Evans
by Mike Huberty
April 2013

Firmly establishing themselves in the Southern Wisconsin scene since forming in 2009, Sexy Ester is a Midwestern PoMo Blondie, mixing classic rock and New Wave into poppy melodies with synth hooks and a relentless beat. They cleaned up at last year’s Madison Area Music Awards, taking home eight trophies including Artist of the Year, Vocalist (Lyndsay Evans), and instrumentalist (Keyboardist Roscoe Evans). Their new release, “Monomania”, is came out last month. We took a few minutes to talk with Lyndsay about the new album,  .

MI: So, tell me a little bit about how you guys all met?
LE: We all knew each other in our town before we came to Madison. I’m from Gratiot, Wisconsin. A tiny town. Adam (Eder, guitarist) and Brad (Schubert on bass) are from a town right over the border in Illinois. We met while he was in a goth/electronica band in high school. We just started writing songs together for ten years after that. We moved to Madison in 2002. We did acoustic stuff together and decided to start playing out live. We originally had a harmonica player and it veered towards classic rock. We’d already been in Madison for 7 years when we started Sexy Ester. But when we added the keyboardist (Roscoe, Lyndsay’s brother) it really pushed us in a New Wave direction. A little over a year and a half ago, our original drummer left to run for office and is now a District Attorney in Northern Illinois. Our new drummer, Jenna (Joanis), well, Adam describes her as adding an element of danger

.

MI: What were the bands that you connected on?
LE: We were huge Beatles fans, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who. It was later that we started to love the New Wave bands and we started getting compared to them a lot. Roscoe listens to the unknown bands and Ween, Brad likes Metallica. Everyone brings in different sorts of styles. We never set out to be a New Wave band, it just sort’ve happened. People started comparing us to Siouxsie, but I hadn’t really known those bands beforehand, so it really evolved without me even knowing.

MI: How did you get involved with Girls Rock Camp, and what does it mean to you?
LE: Beth Kille contacted me about GRC and asked if I’d be willing to be a coach. The first camp I coached a was a Ladies’ Rock Camp, and it was a blast! I couldn’t believe that these fearless ladies formed a band, wrote a song, and performed it in three days! It was magical for me. And GRC is that times 10. These young girls do the same thing in a week. It is so inspirational and motivational for me. I love every minute of it.

MI: In what ways has providing that instruction through GRC influenced you personally and professionally?
LE:  I’ve met a lot of amazing women and girls. We’re sort of a community. I believe this is my third year with GRC and I had no idea how many great female musicians there were in Madison before that. That networking has opened doors for all of us, I’m sure.

MI: As an instructor for GRC, what advice do you have for aspiring young musicians?
LE: Don’t give up. Be yourself. Give it your all. And put on a show. Also, we are all here and willing to give advice. Anyone can contact me with questions. I’d be happy to share my knowledge and experience.

MI: What are the themes behind “Monomania”? Is there something that really connects the release together?
LE: A lot of the songs are about uniqueness and who you are and not being afraid of that. About finding yourself. One of the songs was inspired by a drag queen that I know. I did a call on Facebook asking people to message me about something that they always wanted to do, but never did. In the choruses, I list off all the different things that people wrote me. “Silver Shoes” is the name of it.

MI: What’s the title mean?
LE: It’s about being infatuated with one thing. One of the songs on the album is “Spotlight”, and the title comes from the lyrics of the song, which was inspired by the Local Sounds web story by Rick Tvedt from when we first started playing out. It’s about someone who’s quiet and unassuming in person, but transforms into a rock star onstage. And I hear that from people all the time, that I’m shy and introverted when I meet people, but when they see me onstage it’s a different person.

MI: What are you guys looking forward to over the next year?
LE: We’re going to play the WAMIs (Wisconsin Area Music Awards) at Turner Hall on April 14th. We’re really busy right now, which is awesome, playing every weekend and trying to get out of the city more. We played Chicago, Milwaukee, La Crosse, and trying to get into The Cities. This last year after our MAMA wins, people started to pay more attention to us and doors are opening up for us more.

Catch Sexy Ester on April 7th at the High Noon Saloon in Madison and find them in May at Bratfest.

 

 

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