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Big Sandy in the foreground with a Summerfest montage in the backround

Big Sandy And His Fly-Rite Boys

by Dave Leucinger
June 1999

Robert Williams, AKA Big Sandy, seemed to pick the right time to take a sabbatical from touring. Last year, at the height of the neo-swing movement, he was relishing in a solo west-coast doo-wop album, while his Fly-Rite Boys bandmates were soaring through a guitar pickin’ jamboree heavy on instrumentals. So instead of trying to lose the albatross that “swing” has become to some, Sandy and his band have picked right up where they left off - if not a few steps ahead for the rest. “I’ve been trying to be careful to not align myself too closely to any one scene,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “When I first started, I didn’t want to be part of any scene, but rather to create my own scene. Trends come and go, but we’ve continued to go along. I’m glad we’ve done it that way.”

That way has covered more than a decade as the Southern California-based group has criss-crossed the United States and Europe, building a following for up-tempo western swing and smooth hillbilly jump tunes. But while he edges away from typecasting in the retro mode, Sandy has built a growing group of followers in that camp – while also building awareness of the fruitful legacy of artists such as the Maddox Brothers, Boyd Bennett, and Merle Travis. “In general, the Europeans were ahead of Americans in knowledge of the music when I first started,” he said. “But having some of these trends has helped increase awareness in America of the traditional styles of music.”


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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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Drown on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 1999

Drown

by Paul Gargano
April 1999

Say what you will about America as it races towards the millennium, but the country is soft. Where else in the world does Matchbox 20 sell 10 million records? Where else have politically correctness and money-hungry lawyers made it hazardous to speak your mind? And politics being what they are, where else can a mockery of a sex scandal not cause a country to reassess their moral and ethical standards? Yes, America in the 20th century can’t boast the hardest of inhabitants. In fact, with hundreds of television stations, the Internet offering the world at our fingertips, and Domino’s promising a piping-hot pizza in “30-minutes-or-less,” we’ve got little reason to leave the house. In a world ruled by survival of the fittest, we could be doomed, but don’t tell that to Drown.

In a music industry seldom recognized for rational thinking, Drown—frontman Lauren, guitarist Patrick Sprawl, bassist Sean Demott and drummer Marco Forcone—have survived more adversity than any one band should have to face. They’ve proved they’re amongst the fittest, and Product of a Two Faced World is their double-fisted heart punch to an industry that’s stabbed them in the back a few too many times. With debut Hold on to the Hollow unveiled in 1994 by Elektra Records, and the following three years bogged down by bureaucracy, last year’s Product of a Two Faced World, the band’s sophomore release and first for Slipdisc/Mercury, provided vindication. “No more days putting faith where it doesn’t belong, I’ve been held down here for too goddamn long. Seen you all come and go and I’ve been led on. But I am still alive and I proved you wrong,” charges frontman Lauren in “1605 (for my suffering),” a crushing condemnation from a band that refuses to go away, let alone quietly.


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Rockford's Fluid Oz. on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 1999

Fluid Oz.

by John Noyd
March 1999

There is something downright slippery about the Rockford band, Fluid Oz.  Something this sharp shouldn’t bounce so hard. These restless roustabouts dance around the stage like disco maniacs but lay down a heavy groove that smashes the competition.  Their romp, stomp and release shoots past standard labels to combine punk, funk, jazz and jump for a free for all monster mojo that sets fire to the volcano and cooks up a killer beat delivered with an iron fist. Out with a CD that showcases their dual talents for electrifying showmanship and original songwriting, Fluid Oz.‘s Show Boatin’ Muthas is an accurate depiction of their earth shaking, roof rattling, booty shaking live shows. The current eight man line-up reaches deep into the pockets of James Brown, Sly Stone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to come up with their own unique brand of sass and pizzazz. Think of the Beastie Boys with a brass section or P-Funk married to Oingo Boingo.


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Every show might be their last! She Might Have A Gun on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 1999

She Might Have A Gun

by David A. Kulczyk
March 1999

My dog Zeus always sits in the same room as me when I write.  He is my barometer to gauge the intensity of music.  Although my Michigan Shepherd didn’t run out of the room like his ass was on fire like he did when I wrote about “Kill Switch…Klick,” he did become highly agitated and restless when I put on the She Might Have a Gun CD, Live Drugs. In fact, I haven’t seen him this distraught since I fed him leftover Sloppy Joes last summer.

Rising out of the debris like bum in Tenny Park on a Sunday afternoon, She Might Have a Gun is the end product of too many Madison bands [Magic Seven, Horizon 90, Last Crack, Autumn’s Dance, One Day War, Breath of Life, The Lotus Band, Krash Holiday].  Curiously, much like Green River/Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam a decade before them.

Formed in the summer of 98, by Trinity James Mellon and Jamison Downing after they both found themselves without a band. Scraping together other musicians to fill the hole, She Might Have a Gun was born. Dispensing with all regards to the current trends, She Might Have a Gun blazes it’s own way, distributing its sonic barrage with tribal abandonment.  She Might Have a Gun’s music bites you in the ass like a beer soaked squirrel in your sleeping bag. The band consists of Jamison Downing and Noah Rickun on guitars, Trinity Mellon on vocals, Chin on bass, Hooch on congas and poetry and the multi-talented and infamous Buddo on drums. I spoke with the band while they were trying to decide what limo company to hire for their next show.


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Godsmack on the cover of Maximum Ink in early 1998

Godsmack

by Paul Gargano
February 1999

Every so often, a band comes along whose impact on the music scene is a can’t miss proposition. Godsmack is one of those bands. They slam with an intensity that never misses a beat, grind in a groove as thick and syrupy as Jane’s Addiction, and deliver their crushing musical blows with a callous irreverence reminiscent of early Alice in Chains. The proof is in their self-titled debut (Republic/Universal Records), a blast of aggravated fury that shreds with tribal tones and barbed-wire hooks that burrow under the skin. With lead single “Whatever” taking command at rock radio, sales well in excess of 100,000, a trial-by-fire opening run for Sevendust to close ‘98 (their first departure from the friendly confines of the Northeast, where they call Boston home), and an offer on the table to take part in this summer’s OZZfest, what started as a sucker-punch is turning into full-fledged fisticuffs from Godsmack. Currently criss-crossing America on their second headlining club run (the first ended in mid-February) we caught up with frontman Sully to talk about his band’s rapid rise.


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Black Sabbath on the cover of Maximum Ink

Black Sabbath

by Paul Gargano
December 1998

Black Sabbath, the original four horsemen of the metal apocalypse, charged their reunited forces across foreign soil earlier this year, saving their triumphant return to America for a winter tour kicking off in Phoenix on New Year’s Eve. Working up to the live run, bassist Geezer Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi, fabled frontman Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward issued Reunion, a double live CD that smokes with the haunting Sabbath dirges and staunch, dark music of heavy metal’s most influential outfit. As Butler and Iommi indicated in a late October interview while doing press in New York City, the CD is just the tip of the iceberg.


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Rammstein on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 1998  - photo by Paul Gargano

Rammstein

by Paul Gargano
November 1998

Just how far should a band go to win over a crowd? Rammstein go further. Some musicians breathe flames, Till Lindemann sings while engulfed in them. And that’s just to open the show. With only a handful of American dates under their belts, the buzz surrounding German industrial metal giants Rammstein is spreading like wildfire, propelling their Sehnsucht debut to gold status only six months after its release, and earning them the second headliner’s position on Korn’s Family Values tour. That may seem a bit ironic for a band whose lyrics hammer from brazen metal imagery to treading a fine line between sweetly erotic and disturbing sexual extremes. Then again, when the song titles in question are smash single and MTV Buzz Clip “Du Hast”-which translates to English, “You Hate”-and the more provocatively penned “Küss Mich,” “Tier” and “Spiel Mit Mir”-“Kiss Me,” “Beast” and “Play With Me,” respectively-the risk of being too risqué is lost. Rammstein are from Germany, sing entirely in German, and according to guitarist Richard Kruspe, who joined me on the phone from his homeland with a translator, they write their music in German, as well. Whether listening to their pair of tracks on David Lynch’s Lost Highway soundtrack-edits of ``Rammstein” and ``Hierate Mich,” their American unveilings-or any of the tracks on Sehnsucht, they slam with all the eerie forboding of a militant strike, twisting American metal and industrial with their foreign flair for results that crash between hollow hauntings and throbbing mayhem. Then there’s the performance. Live, the six imports from the other side of the crumbled Iron Curtain detonate more explosions than an air raid, and spew enough sexual imagery to dement even the sickest set of Family Values. Behold, America, the wrath of Rammstein is upon us…


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the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and Planet Drum on the cover of Maximum Ink in October 1998

Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum

by John Noyd
October 1998

To say world percussionist Mickey Hart is embarking on a new adventure is like saying the Pope is going to church this Sunday. Author, student, artist, composer, Mickey’s musical curiosity in all things cosmic has produced seventeen discs for Rykodisc’s “World” series, two books on the history and mythology of rhythm and countless shows and solos. His latest disc, “Supralingua,” continues to explore new worlds with a strong bent on digital technology and sampling. While best known for his association with the Grateful Dead, it soon became evident that the only past he was interested in conjuring happened long before there was any Haight-Asbury scene.


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Monster Magnet on the cover of Maximum Ink in September 1998

Monster Magnet

by Paul Gargano
September 1998

Monster Magnet may unleash the most bombastic arena rock this side of the Reagan administration, but frontman Dave Wyndorf is as misplaced today as he would have been in 1988. His music glows with flash and fire, a hard rock amalgamation of everything guitar-driven and melody-laced, and onstage he plays equal parts Paul Stanley, badass biker, and teenager enchanted by the allure of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. With a brilliant new release, Powertrip, that rivals Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction in sheer audacity, tenacity, and musical virtuosity, he is currently wrapping a month of amphitheater dates with Aerosmith before kicking off a blockbuster tour with Rob Zombie and Fear Factory in October. ``In 1998, there is no alternative but to just physically get out there and pound people over the fucking heads and celebrate excess,” Wyndorf said over lunch recently at a New York City tavern. “Fuck this symphonic turntable going ‘wacka wacka wacka,’ it’s time to fuck people!”


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