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Jim Wilbur of Superchunk

Superchunk

An Interview with Superchunk Guitarist Jim Wilbur
by John Noyd
January 2014

Formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1989, Superchunk has maintained the same line-up since 1991, releasing heartfelt high-velocity indie-rock over the course of eight albums before taking a hiatus in 2001. Returning from their various side-projects in 2010, the band currently finds itself promoting their tenth full-length, “I Hate Music,” without their original bassist Laura Ballance, whose hearing issues has made her participation in their volcanic live shows untenable. In anticipation of playing Madison’s 2014 FRZN Fest January 19th, Superchunk’s Jim Wilbur was kind enough to answer a few questions via email.

MAXIMUM INK: Superchunk’s guitar sound has been an influential force for years, what guitarists do you admire and are there any guitarists/bands playing today you find particularly interesting?

Jim Wilbur: Thanks for the compliment. Let me say first of all that I am a completely un-trained guitarist, never had a lesson. I bought my first guitar (a crappy off-brand acoustic) when I was a senior in high school after listening to the Minutemen’s “Double Nickels on the Dime”. I had a little pamphlet with some basic chord diagrams and that was that. I usually tell people I perform with a guitar - rather than say I play a guitar. So… basically I admire anyone who can ACTUALLY play the damn things, especially people who seem to play intuitively.

MI: After so many years together Superchunk seems more like a family than a band, how would you describe the group dynamics and what do you feel are your responsibilities in the band?

JW: You’re right. I think we are more like a family at this point, that, or maybe a gang. We all know how to deal with one another, where each other’s toes are and ways to avoid stepping on them. As far as my responsibilities go, hmmm… back in the 90’s I did most of the driving, but I don’t suppose that is what you mean. I think the most important thing for each of us is to be respectful of one another and allow each other the space to live inside the group. That may sound a little New Agey. When we are arranging/writing songs we all have to figure out how to complement one another and not step on each other’s parts. I’m talking musically here - but the same goes for the personal relationships we share with one another.

MI: The band seems happy to tour, I’ve always wondered, how does it get decided who gets to choose the music in the van?

JW: Back in the day the rule was “Driver picks the tape”. Since I drove about 90% of the time, that meant the band had to sit through my homemade mix-tapes of Def Leppard, Squeeze, The Verlaines and various hardcore punk bands. These days everyone is plugged into their own little worlds. Everyone but me, that is. I don’t really like listening to music in moving vehicles. Mostly I just sit there and ask questions of my band mates that go unanswered because they can’t hear me. Ha.

MI: Obviously there has to be a difference not having Laura touring with you on bass for this tour, what’s the band’s history with her stand-in Jason?

JW: We’ve know Jason for years. Jon has played with him in Bob Pollard’s band as well as Bob Mould’s trio. He’s a smashing fellow and a quick study. I’m reminded of our first practice with him. We ran through “Slack Motherfucker” and after the chorus we stopped because the bass sounded weird. Mac, Jon and I were sure he was playing the wrong notes. So we sent a quick email to Laura who was at her desk in the Merge office asking what she played at that point in the song. While waiting for a reply we listened to the song on YouTube and sure enough, Jason was right. I think we never heard the song properly since we usually play it at the end of a set when some of us might have had a little too much beer!


MI: The energy your guitar provides is enormous. Is there a warm-up routine you employ before a show or do you just plug and play?

JW: Mac and I just plug in and play.. Mac will do vocal warm-ups that sound like he’s making farting noises with his lips. Jon will warm up by playing paradiddles on sofa arms or chair-backs. If I’m sitting too close to him he’ll use my calves and feet

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Supersuckers on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 2002

Supersuckers


by Sarah Klosterbuer
May 2002

There are two types of country music. There’s the whiney, poppy, overproduced dribble, and then there’s the kind produced by the Supersuckers - the good kind.

To say the least, the Supersuckers are a bit bipolar when it comes to musical styles. They’ve opened for White Zombie and Motorhead and also backed country legend Willie Nelson. Producing primarily rock albums, the band also delivered a country disc in 1997, providing the material for their latest live release, “Must’ve Been Live.”

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System Of A Down on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 1999 - photo by Paul Gargano

System Of A Down


by Paul Gargano
November 1999

There’s no shortage of bands raising their pitchforks in the name of Lucifer, raping and pillaging in the spirit and disorder of chaos, and redefining battle lines with a flammable spray of piss and gasoline for the entertainment of their audiences. But when it comes time to walk the walk, too many are too busy fumbling over their own absurdity to matter for more than a sweaty night of mosh-pit mayhem. System Of A Down spare us the verbal diatribes, and when it comes time to lead by example, they aren’t satisfied with simply walking the walk. They power the pits, give the masses metal worth mulling over, and provide a rainbow of musical colors in a scene forever dominated by black.

It takes little more than a cursory listen to their self-titled American/Columbia Records debut to realize that there’s more to System Of A Down than your run-of-the-mill metal-thrashing-mad quartet. Building on the artistic foundation of their Armenian heritage with finger-flickin’ guitar licks, crunching bass riffs, and drums that punch, pop and pierce the unflinching darkness of their sound, frontman Serj Tankian snaps lyrics like a mad genius-calculated in their delivery and impact, yet presented in the manic and crazed ilk of a manifesto.

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Tantric cover design and illustration by Ian Chalgren

Tantric

an interview with Hugo Ferreira
by Troy Johnson
September 2010

Tantric first hit the music scene with a self-titled debut in 2001 that topped the charts with swaggering, grungy singles like “Breakdown” and “Astounded” that fit right into the New Metal mode that has been a staple of rock radio giants like Nickelback, Staind, and Creed since the late 1990’s.“Tantric” went on to be certified platinum but the band’s follow up albums have seen the band cultivate a more selective audience. In the decade since their debut, the band has completely changed its lineup. Only front man Hugo Ferreira remains of the original members of the group. Tantric released its fourth studio album “Mind Control” in August 2009 and has been on tour regularly since then. On stage, Ferreira’s grave vocals are his most distinguishing characteristic, but off the stage Ferreira’s work in the rock industry has brought him a great deal of insight to the many sides of the music industry. From the creative aspect of writing music and producing videos to the business end of promoting a product that people want to experience. I caught Ferreira the night before a show in Santa Rosa, California on a brief break during their summer tour.

MAXIMUM INK: I just got done watching the “Mind Control” video. You get a chance to do some zombie acting and television smashing. What is it like to film a video like that?
HUGO FERREIRA: We filmed the ‘Mind Control’ at an old warehouse in Nashville. We made it look like a ward with props and a lot of creative ideas. I wanted to do something a little darker and edgier and I was given some reign for creative choices. We were pleased with the end result.

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Teddy Davenport and the Cushions

Teddy Davenport & the Cushions

interview with Madison based songwriter
by Teri Barr
December 2017

“Music is my first love, it’s my best friend. Music has literally saved my life.”

Teddy Davenport’s past is the kind of story you often hear about in songs. But for his first full-length album, Teddy took control of his life, and decided to share large parts of it through some of the best music being released in late 2017. Teddy’s also lost and gained during the writing process, and as you’ll learn from our Q and A, he isn’t shy sharing it. Luckily, he’s also talking about the future, and a time when we’ll be able to say, “We knew him when…”

So, for now, enjoy Teddy and his new album which is being released with his band, Teddy Davenport and The Cushions at Harmony Bar in Madison on Friday, December 8, 2017. There’s also a Toys for Tots Fundraiser show at the VFW in Monona on Sunday, December 10, 2017, at 1:30 pm.

You’ll also find him on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and his website: teddydavenport.com

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Tenacious D on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2002

Tenacious D


by Michelle Harper
April 2002

Yes! Finally, an original and innovative musical group pierces the rerun neo-metal trend of the new millennium. Of course, musical geniuses such as Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys (pre-rehab visits) have made it almost impossible for anyone to look good, or even competent, in comparison. But, the hilarious sarcasm of Jack Black and Kyle Gass are making a run for glory despite the uphill trek, riding their mighty steeds with a guitar in one hand and a scepter in the other. Their mission? Tenacious D wants to kick some ass, rock your face off, and allow you the privilege of witnessing the “greatest band that ever was”.

It all began in 1996 when Gass and Black met in the L.A-based theater group, The Actor’s Gang. Gass instructed Black on some guitar techniques, and the two became fast friends. The duo has made cameo appearances in such flicks as Bio-Dome, Cradle Will Rock, and more recently, an HBO short documenting the hilariously intense rise to ass-kicking stardom - Tenacious D-style.  Black has made a name for himself as an actor as well, appearing as a clerk in John Cusak’s record store in High Fidelity, and the Farley Brothers’ flick Shallow Hal with Gwynneth Paltrow.  Finally, after six years, with the help of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and production team The Dust Brothers , Tenacious D is on their way to selling 11 million records, just as Black so grandiosely predicted.

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Tesla on the cover of Maximum Ink July 2007

Tesla


by Paul Gargano
July 2007

An interview with members of Sacramento’s legendary Tesla

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