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Tenacious D on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2002

Tenacious D

by Michelle Harper
April 2002

Yes! Finally, an original and innovative musical group pierces the rerun neo-metal trend of the new millennium. Of course, musical geniuses such as Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys (pre-rehab visits) have made it almost impossible for anyone to look good, or even competent, in comparison. But, the hilarious sarcasm of Jack Black and Kyle Gass are making a run for glory despite the uphill trek, riding their mighty steeds with a guitar in one hand and a scepter in the other. Their mission? Tenacious D wants to kick some ass, rock your face off, and allow you the privilege of witnessing the “greatest band that ever was”.

It all began in 1996 when Gass and Black met in the L.A-based theater group, The Actor’s Gang. Gass instructed Black on some guitar techniques, and the two became fast friends. The duo has made cameo appearances in such flicks as Bio-Dome, Cradle Will Rock, and more recently, an HBO short documenting the hilariously intense rise to ass-kicking stardom - Tenacious D-style.  Black has made a name for himself as an actor as well, appearing as a clerk in John Cusak’s record store in High Fidelity, and the Farley Brothers’ flick Shallow Hal with Gwynneth Paltrow.  Finally, after six years, with the help of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and production team The Dust Brothers , Tenacious D is on their way to selling 11 million records, just as Black so grandiosely predicted.


Fear Factory on the cover of Maximum Ink in July 2001

Fear Factory

by Michelle Harper
July 2001

When a friend told me last month that she heard of some band called “Fear Factory” playing the House Of Blues in Chicago, I thought to myself, “That sounds odd.  A metal band playing the House of Blues?”  Then, when I heard that Fear Factory was to be one of the only non-Country bands to headline the Wisconsin Dane County Junior Fair since I was in Middle School, I became intrigued.  I called my publisher almost the same day requesting to do a piece on the popular hard core, leather-wearing band performing in such unusual venues. 

Fear Factory’s fourth LP entitled “Digimortal” is a blend of cyber-metal screams describing in detail the unification of man and machine.  Burton C. Bell sings of an apocalyptic vision in which cloning and memory implants hold the potential of sustaining human life forever, while guitarist Dino Cazares, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera fuel the raging and powerful nightmare.  This latest project exemplifies a progressive effort for the band that originated back in 1992. 

Some facts about the fearless foursome—ten years on the road, four LPs and an EP, a gold record for their third LP “Obsolete”, a black T-shirt, long-haired appearance reminiscent of early Sepultura or Slayer and live shows that are said to radiate phenomenal energy and emotion.  Success of such a band is no small feat, especially given the growing popularity of generically formatted Slipknot/Limp Bizkit imitations.


The Union Underground on the cover of Maximum Ink June 2001

Union Underground

by Michelle Harper
June 2001

It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and Bryan Scott sounds like he’s been up for days. One of the handful of fortunate bands to participate in this year’s blockbuster “Ozzfest” tour, Union Underground’s lead singer is tired, but still going strong. “We’re leaving for Europe for three weeks, then back home for like a day, then we’re doing Ozzfest for like three months”.  Fatigued but eager to talk about his band, Scott begins recounting the life of a hard working musician on his way to the top, and his participation in the festival of the summer—Ozzfest.

For Scott, Union Underground began ten years ago when he met guitarist Patrick Kennison. Scott laughs, saying “Patrick and I have been teaching each other guitar since we were 14. I was the guy in school wearing the Guns-N-Roses T-shirt and he was the guy wearing the Metallica shirt.  We’ve basically been married for 10 years.”  Scott’s love of music began as soon as he purchased Motely Crue’s “Shout at the Devil”, and he’s been singing hard ever since.


Rockford's now defunct 420 on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2001

Four Twenty

by Michelle Harper
March 2001

420 is not a band with a story of California glitz and glamour. 420 is not a band recounting brutal management dramas or record label feuds. 420 is not about image. According to vocalist Mike Kerry, 420 is about limitless musical boundaries, finding truth in life, and following a dream out of the Midwest into the great beyond.

Formed in early 1998, Mike Kerry, Tom Parrott, John Pond and Mike “Bunj” Bunjan have been causing quite a stir in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois.  In 1999, the group won the Rockford Area Music Industry’s Critic’s Choice for “Composer of the Year” for their debut EP “In Four Twenty”. Another RAMI followed the same year for the song “Hands or Time”. Although the band is fairly new to the music scene, Mike and Tom Parrott have been expressing their passion for innovation for over a decade.  “The thing about the members of the band”, Mike explains, “is that we all either own businesses or have huge responsibilities to them. We want to succeed, but we have lives too.”  This has kept 420 fairly localized for 3 years.


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Soulfly on the cover of Maximum Ink in February 2001


by Michelle Harper
February 2001

Out of the screaming vocals, grinding guitars and angry, emotionally churning beat of Soulfly emerges Max Cavalera . “Most people think our type of music is negative because it sounds negative. We’re trying to show it can be positive”.

Max Cavalera , former member of Brazilian metal band Sepultura, is keeping it amazingly positive. In less than a decade, he has left a band he was with for almost 15 years, buried his stepson and friend Dana, and suffered the loss of musical brothers such as Lynn Straight of Snot and Tunday from the underground Arizona rap band Cutthroat Logic. Yet in the face of despair and tragedy, Soulfly has released an incredible follow-up to their self-titled debut CD called “Primitive”, a polished, hard core effort with a message of spirituality and optimism.

Soulfly’s second project emphasizes Cavalera’s style of multiculturalism, partially attributed to recording “Primitive” near his home at Phoenix, Arizona’s Salt Mine Studios (not to mention his mother is a priestess of the Candomble religiona mix of Catholicism and African religions). Combining metal riffs with traditional Brazilian music and tribal rhythms, Cavalera pours passion for his heritage into every track. “I used the barumbau (a Brazilian instrument consisting of one string and a coconut) on the track “Catch-A-Spirit” off the “Straight Up” compilation (a multi-artist tribute CD to former Snot member Lynn Straight). It was a great experience. Mike (former member of Snot and current guitarist of Soulfly) did a great job putting it together, and it was like a presence was still here. A spirit.”


Mudvayne on the cover of Maximum Ink January 2001


by Michelle Harper
January 2001

An interview with sPaG of Mudvayne before the face paint came off.


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Factory 81 on the cover of Maximum Ink in December of 2000

Factory 81

by Michelle Harper
December 2000

Fiery conviction.  Justified rebellion.  Protest with soul.  These concepts amply describe the sounds of Factory 81.  Best described as a refined hybrid of Slipknot and Rage Against The Machine, Factory 81 combines violently convicted philosophies with blood curdling screams and aching melodies.  The four-piece band out of Detroit, Michigan was recently asked to contribute a track of their choice to the compilation “Take A Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute To Rap.”  The cover they chose to perform?  Cypress Hill’s “Insane In the Membrane”.  Why?  Andy Cyrulnik, drummer of Factory 81, believes Cypress Hill closely resembles the sound of his own group.  That and he’s a long time fan.

On Factory 81’s full-length debut CD entitled “Mankind”, vocalist Nate Wallace states in the insert, “Not all the lyrics are submitted.  I decided to leave it open for interpretation”.  The inside cover contains a fantastic combination of thought provoking poetry, essays and lyrics of action.  The words written under the track “Peace Officer” tell a personal story of injustice and police brutality.  The story concludes, “This song is dedicated to all police & all the power tripping pigs.  How can I be free?  Slap the cuffs on me, I’m just a freak”.  Another powerful track entitled “Rotten Strawberries” has an accompanying tale of a man that died as he rescues a girl about to be hit by a speeding car.  “Hating himself as he thought others did, he did all within his simple mind & power to earn their love or at least a smile.  He died never knowing either one.”  Through passionate words such as these, Factory 81 encourages fans to question their experiences, realize their beliefs and remain aware.

Their profound words alone make Factory 81 a band deserving of high recognition and merit.  What lies behind this furious and intriguing band?  Bill Schultz, guitarist of the band, recently took some time out from the hectic touring schedule to answer a few questions about the band.




by Michelle Harper
December 2000

Imagine you’re taking a journey through various realms of reality.  The only specific destination being emotional vitality, you’re sped through black tunnels, hurled into vast spaces of echoes and set to drift on a winding stream of grinding utopia.  Where are you?  You’re listening to the debut CD of Nonpoint.

Nonpoint, whose home base is Fort Lauderdale, Florida, formed in 1997, and are currently on tour with the female metal band Kitty.  As a new reporter, I was given the assignment to interview the band’s drummer, Robb Rivera.  I went out and purchased a copy of Nonpoint’s debut CD “Statement” and waited for my phone to ring.  As I sat by my cordless, I thumbed through the CD insert.  There in the center layout, was a picture of the band.  I saw Robb Rivera’s looming presence among his fellow band mates.  I was interviewing him?  Me?  A small town fan from Madison, Wisconsin?  What does one say to a famous musician?


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