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White Empress cover art by Ian Chalgren

White Empress

An Interview with Paul Allender and Mary Zimmer
by Chris Fox
October 2014

If you’ve heard of CRADLE OF FILTH, COAL CHAMBER, or LUNA MORTIS, you’re already familiar with what the emerging WHITE EMPRESS brings to the table. With the guitar techniques of Paul Allender (formerly of CRADLE OF FILTH), this new six-piece brings some Madison-local flavor with vocals from Mary Zimmer (formerly of LUNA MORTIS) and fellow Madisonian on guitar, Jeremy Kohnmann (Ash Aria).

Allender proclaims that the band is truly one-of-a-kind, as they combine a menagerie of backgrounds and talents. “It sounds like WHITE EMPRESS. It doesn’t sound like anything else,” he explains. Allender says the formation of the band came after CRADLE OF FILTH took a bit of a hiatus. “The whole plan was to take off a couple of years and then come back full station, but that didn’t happen. Basically, that’s when I sort of turned White Empress into not just a project but a full-time band.”

Zimmer says that the band is truly a combination of several ideas melding into a unique sound. “Everybody contributed and wrote their own parts. Paul did the arranging and wrote the core of the music - it was almost done by the time I got it,” she explains. “But I got to write my own vocal parts, which was different for me, and he let me have the freedom to do what I wanted.”


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Meghan Rose and I Saw The Creature on the cover of Max Ink September 2014

I Saw The Creature

An Interview with Meghan Rose
by Teri Barr
September 2014

One woman. Five regular music projects.
Meghan Rose may be one of the busiest artists on the Madison scene right now, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Meghan writes, sings, plays, records, edits, and teaches all styles of music; and those talents are highlighted in her various bands. I had the chance to ask her how she keeps it all going, and learned which group is getting ready to hit the road soon. 

Maximum Ink: Do you remember when you started your musical journey?
Meghan Rose: My mom taught me piano when I was 4, and then I started classical lessons when I was 5. First thing I remember learning to play was “Beauty and the Beast”, of all things. My dad bought me a nylon string classical guitar from an antique shop when I was 14 and I taught myself some chords then learned the church songs for bible day camp, which was one of my summer jobs. I played piano for the early church service for years. I still love hymns and I use some of the ideas to write about God in my lyrics, though I certainly don’t write what anyone would call Christian music. But once that type of music is in you, you can’t shake it. My mom also had tapes of musicals, and Broadway is still an obsession for me. I was 8 when my parents divorced, and one of the coping methods I developed was to steal my dad’s C.D.‘s. He collected the newest “alternative” music—a lot of female-fronted 90’s stuff. Bjork, Sheryl Crow, Sleater-Kinney, Liz Phair, Fiona Apple. Fiona and Liz were really powerful to me.

MI: Your current projects are all led by women; some bands don’t like the reference to women or men in the band, but would rather just be called musicians, in a general sense. What about you?


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Gabe Burdulis performing live at the 2014 MAMA awards in Madison at the Overture Center - photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography

Gabe Burdulis

by Teri Barr
August 2014

Some recent messages via both Facebook and email with Gabe Burdulis are still making me laugh. There’s one in particular, where Burdulis says, “Ahhh. Just answering this now, at 5 am. It’s been a busy, but great weekend,” and is a pretty good indication of the life this young Madison musician is living.

Burdulis plays alone, or with any number of groups, because he just wants to make music. He describes his sound as “kinda indie, acoustic-y, poppy, rocky, alt. with a lot of mixed elements. And some blues thrown in for good measure.” His on-stage presence has been called amazing, commanding; a true show-man.

And did I mention, he is still a high school student? I grabbed this opportunity to ask Burdulis some questions about his music, the recognition, and his goals. It’s a chance to get to know him, before the rest of the world catches on to this break-out talent.

Maximum Ink: Where are you getting your influence, especially at such a young age?
Gabe Burdulis: The people I get to play with are a constant influence on me. Also relationships, nature, and of course people like John Mayer and Jack White.

MI: And you’ve been playing successfully for quite a few years?
GB: Yeah, I took a couple guitar lessons around the age of 12, and kinda took off on my own from there. Once I had what I needed, I was able to let my creativity take off.

MI: So, what kind of goals or dreams do you have right now?


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The Steepwater Band

The Steepwater Band

by Mike Huberty
July 2014

Chicago Roots-Rock veterans, THE STEEPWATER BAND, have been playing their hearts out all over the world for nearly two decades. Forming in 1998, their raw, gritty, and bluesy sound, which started as a trio and has expanded to a quartet, fits perfectly in the retro-world of THE BLACK KEYS and RIVAL SONS. A band with a hometown attitude but a national profile, you may have heard their songs on television shows like “NCIS”, “Dangerous Games”, “Vegas”, or “The Good Wife”. Or maybe in movies like “The Five-Year Engagement” or “One For The Money”. They’ve established themselves as a fantastic ambassador for the Chicago scene (they even do an event called Illicana, which features bands from the Land of Lincoln playing Americana tracks.) Real deal road warriors, their tour schedule in just July ranges from Milwaukee’s Summerfest to Blues Festivals in Italy, Australia, and Switzerland(!) We took a few minutes to talk with guitarist and vocalist Jeff Massey to preview their upcoming appearance at Atwood Summerfest on July 27th.

Maximum Ink: What’s the best song to listen to for someone who hasn’t heard Steepwater before?
Jeff Massey: Hmmmm. That’s tricky picking one. I’m going to say the song, “Dance Me A Number”. The reason I pick this particular tune is because we run into a lot of new faces coming out to see our show strictly because they heard this song. It’s been getting a ton of airplay, primarily on streaming radio like Pandora and Spotify.

MI: What was the inspiration behind it?
JM: It was an instrumental song I had been playing around with on acoustic guitar for a few months before I decided to add lyrics. Lyrically, it’s inspired by the concept of living in the moment, enjoying each and every day and not being hung up on what the future holds. The whole inspiration, musically, came from messing around with an odd guitar tuning and turning it into an electric number with the band involved sent it over the top.


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Anvil

An Interview with Lead Singer/Guitar player Steve “Lips” Kudlow
by Teri Barr
May 2014

They’re referred to as one of the pioneers of heavy metal, yet many people only discovered the hard-driving music of Anvil through the documentary, “The Story of Anvil”, a few years ago. The Canadian-based band hit the scene in the late-1970’s with names like Dokken and Whitesnake, yet almost as quickly disappeared. Grit, determination, and their pure love of metal music kept them on the road and in the studio throughout the 80’s and 90’s. But the documentary created the cult-like following of fans, old and new, and the band released its 15th album to rave reviews last year.

Now Anvil, made up of lead singer and guitar player Steve “Lips” Kudlow, drummer Robb Reiner, and new bass player Sal Italiano, are on the road in support of their new music, including May shows in Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Chicago. Just before they hit the Midwest, Steve “Lips” Kudlow talked to me by phone, answering questions about the music business, the band’s “never say die” attitude, and why he still thinks the most important thing he can do is connect with fans, one-on-one.

Maximum Ink: You’re in the midst of a pretty aggressive tour; first across Europe, now the U.S. How’s it going?
Steve “Lips” Kudlow with Anvil: Well, this is our biggest tour of the U.S., ever! And it’s taking a lot of strength. I mean, we aren’t 20 years old anymore (laughs), but luckily for us there aren’t any vices, plus we’re all healthy. Still, even after 37 years of Anvil, we are a new band to some who come out to see us. So we consider this an incredible achievement. And there’s something to be said for still living the dream!

MI: So, you don’t have your regular job anymore? I recall seeing you in “The Story of Anvil” documentary trying a few different things, including delivering food for a school to support your family. 
Lips: Nope. We are a full-time band. And we are going to work hard to keep it that way. Anvil has a lot of self-belief and confidence and we feel the hoopla is just building all over again, so we need to keep creating opportunities for the band and our music. Plus, we still think we have something special to share with our fans.


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Living Statues on the cover of Maximum Ink for April 2014 - photo by Adrienne D. Williams

The Living Statues

by Mike Huberty
April 2014

Melding a classic garage sound with British Invasion hooks and the straight-up timeless rock n’ roll fashion sense, Milwaukee’s THE LIVING STATUES have been blazing a trail through the Midwest like a hot rod since their formation in 2012. Their first EP, Knockin’, is released on Tuesday April 8th. We took a few minutes to talk to Tommy Shears (guitarist and lead vocals), Chris Morales (drums and vocals), and Alex Thornburg (bass and vocals) about how the group got together, excitement over their new release, and their near-future plans.


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Real Knives captured at High Noon Saloon - photo by Rise Up Lights

Real Knives

An interview with Madison riff-rockers, Real Knives
by Mike Huberty
March 2014

Headbangers with a sense of humor and some mean-ass riffs, Madison’s REAL KNIVES are dirty whiskey-soaked hard rock. Bassist/vocalist Wade Coisman, lead guitarist Shane Keck, drummer Kai Anderson, and guitarist/vocalist Mark Weber are four dudes dedicated to abusing their instruments and livers while dishing out face-melting guitar solos and fist-pumping beats. March 24th they’re opening for Buckcherry at The Red Zone (formerly The Annex at Regent Street Retreat), so we decided to take some time to talk to the band about the upcoming show and what they’re up to.


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Big Gigantic - photo by Ryan Patrick

Big Gigantic

by Andrew Frey
February 2014

Big Gigantic is an electronic dance party ready to happen at any moment. Their music is a relentless body gyrating, mood pulsing, can’t sit down, blast off of beats, drops and jazzy rhythms. Since they formed in 2008 the Boulder, Colorado based duo which consists of saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, has banged it out at and left their mark at various sold-out headlining tours, including Red Rocks and played some of the biggest festivals, from Lollapalooza,  Bonnaroo, Ultra, and?Austin?City Limits to Hangout, Summer Set, Electric Forest, and Outside Lands, among many others.

It all began when Lalli…


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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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Aaron Williams & The Hoodoo

Aaron Williams and Beth Kille Join Forces on New Year’s Eve

An interview with Muscians Aaron Williams and Beth Kille
by Mike Huberty
December 2013

Madison music mainstays, AARON WILLIAMS AND THE HOODOO and the BETH KILLE BAND, have both been performing, releasing albums regularly, and winning multiple awards from the Madison Area Music Association for years now. Aaron brings a modern sensibility to the traditional blues and Beth underwent a metamorphosis from rock frontwoman (the magnificent CLEAR BLUE BETTY) to country-tinged singer-songwriter. They’re joining forces on New Year’s Eve with a special double bill on the big stage at The Brink Lounge in Madison. We took a few minutes to talk to them to catch up and get a sneak preview of the big night.


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