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Trans Siberian Orchestra on cover of Maximum Ink in December 2005

Trans Siberian Orchestra

by Paul Gargano
December 2005

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and while the rest of us are worrying about what time we should start roasting our turkeys, Paul O’Neill has a different set of concerns: The 18 semis and 16 tour busses that are transporting his Trans-Siberian Orchestra spectacles across America.

Yes, spectacles.

In seven years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has not only become the holiday season’s main concert attraction, but also one of the year’s top ticket-sellers. And they accomplish this in less than six weeks on the road, splitting their ensemble into two equally impressive and awe-inspiring bands, each of which is responsible for performing in front of a different half of America in the final weeks of each year. Sound confusing? Try spearheading the whole operation, which O’Neill has done since he conceived the idea that would become the band’s now multi-platinum debut, Christmas Eve And Other Stories, nearly a decade ago. 

Yet in the face of it all, he remains as calm and composed as a freshly fallen Christmas snow.


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Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor - photo by Adam Bielawski

Nine Inch Nails

by Paul Gargano
October 2005

It’s been six years since Trent Reznor released The Fragile, and a lot has changed in Reznor’s world. Nowhere is that more present than in new release With Teeth. Less epic in its structure than The Fragile double-disc, With Teeth is Reznor refined to a songwriting sheen, rather than navigating a colossal musical landscape. The songs still radiate with the thrust and tenacity inherent in Nine Inch Nails, but they do so with a bounce and vibrancy that breathes new life into the band, now featuring former Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White, Icarus Line guitarist Aaron North, returning drummer Jerome Dillon, and keyboardist Alessandro Cortini. At their heaviest, they’re industrial-fueled with a metallic surge, but there’s also an adherence to structural simplicity that harkens back to Reznor’s Pretty Hate Machine. With Teeth isn’t as pissed-off and dark as The Downward Spiral, or as emotionally bogged-down and cumbersome as The Fragile . And rightfully so neither is Reznor.

Maximum Ink sat down with the Nine Inch Nails mastermind to discuss the changes in the new album, as well as the changes in his life… 

MAXIMUM INK: Was With Teeth approached with a different direction in mind than previous albums?

TRENT REZNOR: Well, I went about writing in a different way. The last couple records, Downward Spiral and The Fragile, I realized I had written in the studio. Being that I don’t have a band to rehearse songs with, the studio becomes my instrument, and I had finally gotten a really nice place with everything I needed in it. I was realizing that the writing process was starting to become the same as the arranging and production process. It was all happening at the same time, there weren’t any demos anymoreI’d just go in the studio and come out with the songs finished, pretty much. This time around, for whatever reason, I wanted to get back to doing demos and start from a different place. Instead of starting with sounds and textures and that sort of thing, I started with words and melodies. So I moved out to L.A. and set up a place that purposely didn’t have much in it, just a piano and a drum machine, and a computer to record into. I set an every-week-and-a-half kind of deadline that didn’t allow me any time to really go off on a tangent, and let me just focus on the core of the song, then go back later and flush things out. And I think working that way made the record turn out more song-based, and less soundscape. I don’t think that’s better or worse, it’s just a different way of working that seemed like the right thing to do.


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Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson on the cover of Maximum Ink in June 2005 - photo by Paul Gargano

Iron Maiden

by Paul Gargano
August 2005

Simply put, Iron Maiden had to co-headline OZZfest 2005. From the band’s perspective, spending the summer on OZZfest would expose the legendary Maiden machine to a vast new, younger audience. And from OZZfest’s perspective, Iron Maiden were the only remaining band left to headline the summer caravan. It was the best of both worlds for both parties, and creates an even better world for fans of heavy metal, as the double-billing of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden creates one of the most potent top-heavy package tours in music history. Ironically, while neither band are boasting new material, there are three solo albums being released this summer from their cumulative forces, two from Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler, and one from Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. We won’t be hearing any of the new material this summer, and there’s only a possibility that any of them will tour solo this fall, which makes their presence on the road this summer even more monumental. Especially in the case of Iron Maiden. While Black Sabbath tours have become an annual occurrence as of late, there’s no telling what the future holds for Maiden, especially in America. Their last album, Dance Of Death, was a chart success for the band, but it resulted in only two domestic tour stops in New York and Los Angeles. And with frontman Bruce Dickinson being a full-time airline pilot outside of Iron Maiden, we have to approach any opportunity he takes to tour as privileged circumstances…


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bloodsimple

bloodsimple

by Paul Gargano
February 2005

It takes a special kind of band to attract the attention of Mudvayne frontman Chad Gray. That band is bloodsimple.

“People are going to be blindsided by this record, and I can say that with confidence. I think this is my greatest work,” says frontman Tim Williams, who along with guitarist Mike Kennedy, spawned bloodsimple from the ashes of their acclaimed metal-core outfit Vision Of Disorder. While VOD were visionaries on the heavy music front, bloodsimple offered the pair an opportunity to stretch their musical muscles, further expanding their hard-hitting dynamics from sheer aggression and amplified rage, to subtle soundscapes that stress their uninhibited extremes.


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Tommy Lee on the cover of Maximum Ink in June 2002

Tommy Lee

by Paul Gargano
June 2002

Tommy Lee became synonymous with drumming in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, his solos setting the standards by which all future drummers would be judged, and his presence one of unparalleled rock ‘n’ roll excess. Since those heralded days in Mötley Crüe, a lot has happened, but Lee’s focus hasn’t shifted. Through tabloid headline after tabloid headline, he’s kept his music close to his heart, all the while, his personal life being run through the American psyche as if it were made for prime time television. And while the hooplah may have been more than most men could handle, in sitting down with Tommy Lee as the release of his sophomore solo effort approaches (this time the project is simply called Tommy Lee, and the album, appropriately, Never A Dull Moment), it’s practically chilling how sound both in mind and body the international superstar has become. It’s as if the more he’s been through, the more he’s learned, and Lee savors the newfound knowledge with an enviable zest for life. The same zest that he applies to his music. On the eve of the band’s departure for the road in support of Lee’s latest solo outing, Maximum Ink sat down with the drummer-turned-frontman to discuss life as an icon, and the albums that have come as a result…


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Ozzy on the cover of Maximum Ink in December 2001 - photo by Paul Gargano

Ozzy Osbourne

by Paul Gargano
December 2001

Sitting across from Ozzy Osbourne in his Tucson, AZ hotel suite the night before he would kick off his year-ending Merry Mayhem tour with Rob Zombie and Soil, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe—It’s Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy fucking Osbourne. And now, in the midst of the most widespread success of his career, he’s released Down To Earth—his most impressive album in practically a decade and is backed by what is arguable his most talented band to date—returning guitarist Zakk Wylde [Black Label Society], bassist Robert Trujillo [ex-Suicidal Tendencies] and drummer Mike Bordin [ex-Faith No More]. Less than 24-hours before embarking on the tour that would change the way we all look at the holidays, Ozzy was in rare form—Every part the heavy metal legend he’s cracked up to be, and more human than most of us ever imagined…


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Drowning Pool on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 2001 RIP Dave!

Drowning Pool

by Paul Gargano
November 2001

Don’t let their casual charm and effervescent personalities fool you, on the package tour dubbed Music As A Weapon, Drowning Pool ‘s performance is the equivalent of stumbling into the ammunition hold and dropping a lit stick of dynamite. Sure, Disturbed have earned their stripes and deserve their place atop the tour they assembled, but if the headliners are the United States Navy, Drowning Pool are the Navy Seals, sneaking up on the unsuspecting crowd with stealth, and attacking with a sonic spray that numbs the senses.

Granted, it’s getting harder for Drowning Pool to “sneak up” on anyone, especially given the breakthrough success of their debut single “Bodies,” one of the most potent metal hits this side of Pantera ‘s “Walk.” The song is a smash even becoming the theme music for the World Wrestling Federation’s recent plotlines, but the acclaim it’s brought with it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


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American Headcharge on the cover of Maximum Ink one month after 9/11 - photo by Christopher McCollum

American Headcharge

by Paul Gargano
October 2001

When the name of your band is American Headcharge , and your album cover for debut release The War Of Art depicts a black-eyed Uncle Sam pointing a gun at the listener, you’ve got to excuse people for assuming you might have a political slant. But according to bassist/guitarist/all-around-American Headcharge -musical force Chad Hanks, that’s just the problem.

“There’s absolutely no tie in at all,” Hanks says of his band and politics. A logical question though, especially in light of the recent terrorist attacks on America, and Headcharge’s ironically appropriate Uncle Sam imagery. “That imagery is the funniest part of the whole thing. It’s like Andy Kaufman shit! It has nothing to do with anything, it was just great imagery, especially considering that we’ve got American in our name.


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Beautiful Creatures, the band on the cover during 9/11, September 2001

Beautiful Creatures

by Paul Gargano
September 2001

There was a time when rock ‘n’ roll roamed the earth like a tattooed titan, a fire-breathing monster that made mothers cringe in horror, and their daughters creep closer to feel the heat. It was the music that separated the men from the boys, transforming guitars into an electrical storm, vocals into a maelstrom of piss and vinegar, and blasting a bottom end that made the walls shake. It meant more than just songs on the radio, it was a lifestyle.

Well, if the haze of the late-‘90s has left us convinced that excitement has left the building, Beautiful Creatures kick the door back down, stampeding onto the scene with their self-titled debut. Inspired by the same bands that spawned everyone from Alice in Chains to Pantera, they strike a paralyzing blow to the complacent chords and ridiculous excuses for rock stars that inundate the modern music scene. Paying homage to their roots and with their sites set on the future, its monster hooks and sleazed-out looks that make the Beautiful Creatures the most electrifying new band in years.


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Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd on the cover of Maximum Ink in August 2001 - photo by Christopher McCollum

Puddle Of Mudd

by Paul Gargano
August 2001

It all started with a fake backstage pass that got Wes Scantlin backstage at a concert he really didn’t even want to go to. There he was, wandering around Family Values, and he starts talking to one of Fred Durst ‘s security guards. He recalls that Fred Durst just started a record label, and decides to pass his only remaining copy of his demos on to the security guard, hoping they may reach the Limp Bizkit frontman. Scantlin couldn’t write music that sounded any less like rap-rock, but he knows Durst’s a businessman above all, and decides that if there’s an off-chance the phenom would hear his tape, he’d take it… A few weeks later, the phone rings, and it’s Durst. He not only got the tape, but he was impressed by it, and not only agrees to help the guitar-slinging singer/songwriter find a band, but offers to sign the soon-to-be quartet on his Flawless Records, as well.

The results are the brilliant debut Come Clean, an infectious blast of rock ‘n’ roll that swirls high-strung melodies around a punk rock raciness, serving up an inspired sound that stands head and shoulders above today’s murky musical depths. Album opener and lead single “Control” squirms in it’s own sexual energy, an anthem for anyone that’s been in a relationship for far too long. With the catch phrase lyric, “I love the way you smack my ass,” the track offers the perfect introduction to Puddle of Mudd, diving to bogged-down lyrical depths, kicking around the bottom, then exploding back up to break the surface, the whole experience defining why Puddle of Mudd aren’t your typical turn-of-the-millennium band.


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