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The Horrids in full facepaint

The Horrids

An interview with Chicago horror punks
by Mike Huberty
October 2010

Straight up Chicago-style punk rock with a penchant for horror movies and gruesome imagery, THE HORRIDS, come racing out of the cemetery out of Lombard, IL with all the ferocity of fast and ugly bands like THE MISFITS and AFI. While they’ve been together for seven years (a veritable eternity in punk years), forming the band in their early teens, they’ve already amassed an impressive resume, opening for the likes of major bands like GWAR, THE MISFITS, and THE DWARVES.Their first album, “Graveyard Anthems: Music Of The Dead” is nineteen lightning-paced songs that would fit perfectly in any horror fans coffin-shaped CD rack.

Their lead guitarist, Pat “Fink” Goray, describes a little about what The Horrids are about. “We were three friends that started out, played together and made music together,” he says, “I’ve always wanted to play rock music, my favorite band is AC/DC. Our drummer’s dad is THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL’s drummer. He wanted to play because there were always musical instruments around when he was growing up.”


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Milwaukee's Enemy Star

Enemy Star

An interview with Paris Ortiz and Kassy Gruszkowski
by Mike Huberty
October 2010

After the demise of the COCKSMITHS in 2009, Milwaukee guitar slinger Paris Ortiz (formerly of popular Brewcity rock bands like PSYCHADELICASI and BIG DUMB DICK) had a new sound in mind. Presumably, he was looking for a band that didn’t have a word for penis in the name, but also he was looking to create a more melodic kind of hard music. And ENEMY STAR, the band that eventually would come out of his idea, definitely has both the sweet-sounding and feminine element.

“I was on Myspace and saw an ad from the singer of 9MM SOLUTION.” Paris says. “It said, ‘My vocal teacher is looking for a band’ and I thought it was a gag. I mean, I was like, ‘Who’s your vocal teacher? Satan?’ But then I heard her [ENEMY STAR singer, Kassy Gruszkowski], and I knew it wasn’t a joke and I thought the voice was unique and refined.” A longtime Milwaukee singer, Kassy, was on the lookout for a new band as well. As she says, “The band I was in, THERESBEENAFIRE, broke up and I was out there kind of like ‘Will Rock For Gigs’. It was hard to find a good band at the time and Paris calling me was really, really awesome.”


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The Selfish Gene at The Majestic Theatre, July 2010

The Selfish Gene

Releasing new EP, 'What it sees, Where it sleeps'
by Mike Huberty
September 2010

Taking their name from famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkin’s 1976 book, Madison’s THE SELFISH GENE has been one of the city’s most ambitious bands since their inception in 2004. Now a three-piece rock/indie-pop unit consisting of Matt Allen on guitar and vocals, Eric Andraska on bass, and Rob Young on drums, their 2007 release, “The Grand Masquerade” garnered them national press attention as well as opening slots for bands as acclaimed and diverse as The Von Bondies and Bon Iver to Blue Oyster Cult and The Kings of Leon. In June, they released a new EP that moves their style into an acoustic direction called What It Sees, Where It Sleeps.


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Ari Herstand

Ari Herstand

Minneapolis songwriter from Madison
by Mike Huberty
August 2010

A Madison native that’s now based in Minneapolis, musician and songwriter, ARI HERSTAND, has been making his musical name touring on a remarkable solo live show that mixes the classic singer-songwriter elements of guitar and voice, that is infused with trumpets, live looping, and orchestration. His latest project is not only performing, but also conducting seminars in high schools where he discusses musical careers with students. To him, music education in school was key in creating his artistic identity and he wants to get that message across to the next generation.

He picked up the guitar for the same reason most guys do. “I’ve been playing the piano for as long as I can remember and I picked up the trumpet in the 5th grade for band class.”, Ari says. “The summer before my freshman year of college I was sitting around a living room with a few friends and my friend Danny came into the room with his guitar and played the room a song. When he finished, he set the guitar down and left the room. Two girls looked at each other - one of them my girlfriend at the time - and they said ‘guys who play guitar are so hot.’ And here we are.”


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The Shtetlblasters

The Shtetlblasters

by Mike Huberty
July 2010

A shtetl is defined as a small town with a large Jewish population, “You know, like Fiddler on the Roof”, Sam Harmet laughs, while describing the name of his band, THE SHTETLBLASTERS. A play on the term, “ghettoblasters” because of their introduction of funk into Klezmer, the traditional European Jewish dance songs (like the kind you’d hear in the aforementioned Fiddler musical.) So, West Coast meets Eastern Europe in THE SHTETLBLASTERS.


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MIchael Schenker

Michael Schenker Group

by Mike Huberty
July 2010

On tour now to celebrate the thirtieth(!) anniversary of his self-named group, German guitar wizard Michael Schenker has been shredding since first joining his older brother, Rudolf’s band, The Scorpions, in 1970. In the middle of that decade, British band UFO snapped him up and they went on to record a new wave of British Heavy Metal classics like “Lights Out” and “Too Hot To Handle”. With his signature Flying V guitar, Teutonic presence, and unique playing style, he took the band to the next level of popularity around the world despite the language gap between him and his English-speaking bandmates. After leaving the band, he struck out on his own to form MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP (better known as MSG and Schenker is known for being no stranger to “preservatives” himself) in 1980 and released hard rock anthems like “Armed and Ready” and “Gimme Your Love”. Throughout the 90’s and Aughts, Schenker reunited with UFO and continued MSG in various forms, revolving the door to bring musicians in. Currently, this tour brings him back together with original MSG vocalist Gary Barden as well as the guy who literally wrote the book on rock drumming (1972’s Realistic Rock Drum Method), Carmen Appice, who’s played with everyone from Ozzy to Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge to Jeff Beck.


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the first Mifflin Street Block Party circa 1969

The Mifflin Street Block Party

by Mike Huberty
April 2010

The University of Wisconsin has traditionally held two giant student parties every year. One is Halloween (where out of town revelers caused so many problems, it evolved into Freak Fest, still a good party but one that turns State Street into a demilitarized zone each year) and the other is the Mifflin Street Block Party. Started in 1969 as a reaction to the Vietnam War (the event that seems to loom over every student activity or university story from that decade), the party has been an annual tradition some times at odds with the city and some times with the city’s blessing. After a long time of relative peace, in 1996, drunken and foolish partygoers decided to attack a fire truck that came to put out a bonfire started in the middle of the street. Next thing you know, there’s riot gear, people are screaming bloody murder, and lots and lots of arrests are made. Needless to say, the 1997 party was kind of a drag. But the fest has continued in the ensuing years, and now local music promoters DCNY PRO, Madison natives and longtime Mifflin Street attendees, David Coleman and Ny Bass, have taken the bull by the horns. They spearheaded the party in 2009 to one of its most successful years. On the fortieth anniversary of the festival and even with over fifteen-thousand people in attendance, arrests were down from the year before and in 2010, they’re bringing more changes to make it a friendlier and safer place.


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Charlie Cheney, singer, songwriter, Fawmer and developer of Indie Band Manager software

Charlie Cheney

by Mike Huberty
April 2010

As a solo Americana singer/songwriter, CHARLIE CHENEY has been traversing the country and delivering a brand of intelligent, moving and fun songs. This last winter, Charlie embarked on a 25 city tour where he played his solo acoustic show, gave music business seminars, and participated in the February Album Writing Month challenge (an internet songwriter community where people encourage each other to accomplish writing fourteen songs in twenty-eight days.) All the while also hosting a radio show every day of the tour which focused on other FAWM participants. Now, he’s back on the road and has several house and coffeeshop concerts in the Midwest in April.

FAWM is such a cool event.”, Charlie says. “It’s just an interesting challenge, and at first it was sort of a lark… like a dare… But now that I’ve done it four years in a row its become a much different thing, a chance to really work the craft of songwriting in new and inventive ways each year, honing the craft, learning why songs make you feel a certain way, or why you write songs at all. And the community is just so incredibly positive and thoughtful and supportive… it inspires me to write songs that really mean something to me.”


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500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles To Memphis

by Mike Huberty
April 2010

Continuing in the great Ohio cowpunk tradition of artists like TWO COW GARAGE and DAVID ALLEN COE, Cincinnati’s 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS (named after the distance from their home city to the birthplace of rock n’ roll)  blends roots, punk, and country with influences like Green Day and Ben Folds to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They just released their newest record, We’ve Built Up To Nothing on Valentine’s Day and are touring the country to support the release.

“It was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen”, says main songwriter and frontman, Ryan Mallot, is the first song that inspired him to be a musician. “I had a fake microphone and would sing Queen all day long and it just grew from there.” So he got the bombastic rock in right away, but started into Americana early as well. “When I listen to country it’s a lot of older stuff. When you first learn to play guitar it’s just way easier to play.”


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The Nod from Madison, Wisconsin

The Nod

by Mike Huberty
March 2010

As one of the acts making the most noise from the University of Wisconsin, THE NOD, takes influences from Barenaked Ladies to Weezer to come up with unconventional and fun alternative rock. All the members hail from around Midwest and met here in Madison, a place they refer to as “College Disneyland”. They’re playing a special free show on March 12th at the heart of State Street at The Pub. Last year, they released an EP, Shoddy Heart to the masses and since then, graduated, and are now entering the post-college music scene. We took some time to talk about the band with Brett Newski, the band’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist.

Explaining what people can expect to hear from THE NOD, Brett describes the band, “We’ve always tried to explain the music as the quirkiness of Cake, with the drive of The Strokes, meshed with the early Weezer guitar sound”, he says. “We’ve been told we’re poppy and accessible. The hook brings you back, as John Popper once said. Lyrically, I’ve listened to a ton of Cake and Barenaked Ladies, I work hard on lyrics but don’t want it to be too abstract. I’m not afraid of pop culture, and I despise cliche lyrics. For examples, how many times have we heard ‘save me from myself’? C’mon. It’s my ultimate goal to be interesting.”


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