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Dark Star Orchestra - photo by Bob Minkin

Dark Star Orchestra

An interview with guitarist Jeff Mattson
by Sal Serio
January 2013

One of the true originals in the history of American music remains the Grateful Dead, and even though the group disbanded in 1995 after the death of lead guitarist, vocalist, and co-founder Jerry Garcia, the Dead phenomenon continues full force. Among the strongest contingencies involved in keeping the vibe of the Dead authentic, and turning on new fans to the GD concert experience is Dark Star Orchestra, who formed in Chicago in 1997 when guitarist John Kadlecik and keyboardist Scott Larned shared the concept of starting a band that recreated entire Grateful Dead concerts from the past. Over the years, Dark Star’s legacy has grown, and a few line-up changes have occurred, including the shocking passing of Scott Larned in 2005. In 2009, Kadlecik was asked to join the band Furthur with original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and at that point Jeff Mattson, of Zen Tricksters and Donna Jean Godchaux Band fame, was logically asked to fill the Jerry Garcia role in Dark Star. In anticipation of DSO’s approaching upper Midwest dates (Jan 30 at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Jan 31 at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison WI, Feb 1 at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, and Feb 2 at the Vic Theater in Chicago) I had the opportunity to speak to Jeff Mattson by phone while he was enjoying some time off at his home in New York state.

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Days Of The New on the cover of Maximum Ink

Days Of The New

an interview with Travis Meeks
by Paul Gargano
August 1998

They produce one of the purest sounds in music, they’ve spawned the most influential songs in the history of rock `n roll, and they’re the favorite for songwriters the industry over, but in the eyes of hard rock fans, acoustic guitars are still fighting for respect - on radio they’re equated with power ballads, in live shows they result in a sea of lighters, and unplugged sets have become nothing more than trendy sidebars during performances.

Enter Days of the New frontman Travis Meeks, whose acoustic guitar has meant a great deal more. It’s helped him earn a platinum album, one of the most coveted billings of the summer, and an opportunity to disprove the fallacy that unplugged bands can’t rock as heavy as their amped-up peers. An impressive list of accomplishments for a 19-year-old from Kentucky whose artistic vision projects far beyond his breakthrough commercial success.

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Detroit's Dead String Brothers - photo by Doug Commbe

Dead String Brothers


by Kristen Winiarski
July 2008

Often compared to The Rolling Stones, the group, The Deadstring Brothers, is a mix of Detroit and London with a slight country-rock twang. Although neither of these cities reminds one of country music, the group succeeds in being a blend of country and rock, which is what its founder considers them to be. These two different, yet similar cities, collide together in the members: E. Travis Harrett on drums, Masha Marjieh on baking vocals and percussion, Jeff Cullum on bass and vocals, Pat Kenneally on piano and organ, Spencer Cullum on pedal steel, lap steel, and guitar, and Kurt Marschke on vocals and guitar. I had the opportunity to talk to the last of this list: Kurt Marschke.

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Milwaukee's Decapitado featuring Dan Kubinski on cover of Maximum Ink in March 2004 - photo by Rokker

Decapitado


by Andrew Frey
March 2004

Most bands worry about making music to appease and please the masses. Not so with Decapitado. This Milwaukee trio is focusing on originality in an effort to maintain their sanity and produce high quality art. These guys are not newcomers to the music scene by any stretch. Each is currently in at least one other band outside Decapitado and each has been in several others before this as well. Bands like Fuck Face, Custom Grand, Boy Dirt Car, and Die Kruezen to mention a few.

Dan Kubinski (vocals/bass), Andy Keels (guitar) and Charles A. Mayer (drums) are Decapitado. Starting at the top, Andy fills us in about the band name. “The word decapitado appears in a newspaper clipping in the movie “Curdled.” I thought it was such a cool word. My wife said it would be a great band name. I was in three bands at that time, and this one fit the name best. The name symbolizes the world today; a lurching, twitching body, lumbering forward, unable to hear or think or see. It stands for the way too many of us live our lives.”

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The Deftones on the cover of Maximum Ink December 2006

The Deftones

an interview with Stephen Carpenter
by Rick Florino
December 2006

An interview with guitarist Stephen Carpenter of The Deftones

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Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever

An interview with Ethan Holtzman from Dengue Fever
by Mike Huberty
June 2012

As an American band inspired by equally by Cambodian pop music as well as American 60’s bands (you can hear the Credence dripping out of each song), DENGUE FEVER, occupies a fascinating niche. While most of the band hails from LA, their songs didn’t even have any English until their third record. Formed by brothers Ethan and Zac Holtzman in 2001, they met up with Cambodian immigrant (and already a famous karaoke singer in her native country), Chhom Nimol, to fill out the sound of the band. Their latest full length is called Cannibal Courtship is their fifth and they’re touring to support it. We took some time to talk to DENGUE FEVER’s Ethan Holtzman about their upcoming Madison show.

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Morgan Rae - photo by Cocao Malamiravicht

Devil To Drag

An interview with singer Morgan Rae
by Teri Barr
May 2015

Sometimes, starting in reverse, can throw you into full forward.
It’s what the members of Devil to Drag may be learning right now. This Madison-based group began simply—as an acoustic duo—but expanded to a trio, and eventually a full power alt rock band. And though Devil to Drag is still young on the scene at less than a year together, the musicians involved bring experience, and an aggressive attitude for forging ahead. I recently talked with lead singer and guitar player Morgan Rae for Maximum Ink, just as the band gets ready to release a new video and album on May 15th: 


Maximum Ink:  Introduce us to your band, and why it’s pretty unique in the way you got together?
Morgan Rae:  Cocoa Malamiravict plays guitar and sings with me. It’s actually how Devil to Drag got its start. The two of us played and wrote together acoustically. It was his idea to then add Wade Coisman from Real Knives on bass. They’d played together in Underground Day 1 too, and have always worked together really well. It’s almost creepy sometimes to watch them communicate in rehearsal, because a lot of it is done through looks and vocal cues that aren’t actually words, but they still somehow understand each other.
Kai Anderson, also from Real Knives, was the last member to join, but in my opinion is the most influential addition when it comes to creating the sound we have today. We had asked him to play with us for a bigger show, then realized none of us wanted to go back to the more stripped down sound.
I feel really honored to be able to write and play with these three, and aside from all their musical talents, they each bring something different and important to the table, which I think is really going to set us up for success. Cocoa knows everyone and his brother, because he travels the country building greenhouses. He gets us a lot of great opportunities like playing Steelbridge Song Festival in Sturgeon Bay. Wade works at a print shop, so he knows all the ins and outs of navigating merchandise. And Kai not only works at WJJO Radio as a D.J., but also teaches at Madison Music Foundry, so he really helps make sure our practices to run smoothly when we’re tightening up material. Oh, and I have a full-time job too, at Peak Performance Massage.

MI:  Alot going on between the four of you! Where do you find your energy, and even your spirit for working on the new music?

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