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Infernal Rock Radio

An interview with the Madison deejays of Infernal Rock Radio
by Mike Huberty
December 2010

Internet radio has come a long way from the technological wasteland of the 1990’s when you were tied to a desktop machine with a wired Ethernet connection and then you could listen to a low-bitrate stream that sounded like an AM radio station from 200 miles away over tinny crapola speakers. At the time, just the idea of listening on the Internet untethered by the rules and corporate economics of terrestrial radio was invigorating. Everyone could be a pirate because it was radio without limits. Deejays that didn’t have to spin the same Top Forty songs that only your little sister likes or the same tired classic rock songs that haven’t left the airwaves since 1975. It was going to be the great equalizer, because everyone could listen to you. But an idea is all it was. It was usually more of a pain to figure out than it was an actual joy to listen to. Today, in the second decade of the new Millennium, it’s a completely different story. Everyone has Broadband and for many, it’s mobile. Computers are starting to become the foundation for home entertainment. Internet radio broadcasts in crystal-clear quality, sounding better than FM when you’re next to the antenna. People are listening to radio over the Internet in their cars, on their iPods, and wherever there’s a cell phone signal. One of this new breed of Internet radio stations that’s making waves in Madison is Infernal Rock Radio, a station devoted to hard rock and heavy music.

Started by Dread Pirate Vane, a veteran webcaster who takes the “pirate radio” symbolism all the way, even into his moniker, Infernal Rock Radio’s motto became “The station built by the bands, for the fans”.


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M.A.Xmas Logo - photo by James Pederson

MAXmas

2010 Madison Area Christmas Compilation CD
by Mike Huberty
November 2010

Christmas albums can often be a fairly staid affair, usually a little too willing to play it safe and mostly too reverent to have much fun. The new “Madison Area Christmas Compilation” (nicknamed “M.A.XMas”), however, isn’t afraid to grab Santa by his jollies and roast his chestnuts on an open fire. With bands running the gamut from rap to punk to metal, they’re fully embracing a hard rock holiday where nothing is sacred.

Madison rockers Jeremy Gehler and Jon Kussow of Kuhler Music (whose title is a mashup of their names) were hanging out talking about the Ringo Starr Christmas Album Gehler had just obtained (a kitsch purchase that he’s brave to admit in the first place!) when they realized that the Madison needs one too and definitely in 2010.


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Batusis - Sylvain Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome - photo by Sandy Carson

Batusis

An Interview with Dead Boys, Rocket From The Tombs, and Batusis Punk Legend, Cheetah Chrome
by Mike Huberty
November 2010

Two seminal members of two of the most influential New York City punk bands, THE NEW YORK DOLLS and DEAD BOYS, join forces in BATUSIS (Yes, named after Adam West’s ridiculous dance in the 1960’s Batman TV series), a straight up rock and roll band with an upbeat and catchy sound. With their image, sound, and attitudes, guitarists Cheetah Chrome (also a founding member of ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS) and Sylvain Sylvain were at the forefront of the underground rock and roll movement that would eventually lead to being able to buy CBGB shirts at the mall. But back then it was the most dangerous music around.

Their first concert was at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin and they were backed up with the rhythm section from Joan Jett’s BLACKHEARTS. Cheetah explains how they started, “Syl’s manager and my label guy got to talking” he says, “and they suggested that since we’d known each other for a long time that we should do something together. We said ‘Hell yeah’! It sounded like fun because we’ve always wanted to play together. Basically it started off as just the EP and it went so well, we went off to do some touring and now next week we’re going to do a full album.”


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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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