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Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren

The Wizard Goes "Global"
by Sal Serio
April 2015

Never an artist to rest on his laurels, the ever-evolving Todd Rundgren is back with the new “Global” album, which is a curious mash-up of Philly soul, new wave pop, and electronica. Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio, a restless artist in his own right, had the opportunity to speak with Rundgren about “Global”, and his upcoming tour, which stops in to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 21.


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Randy Bachman live! - photo by Callianne Bachman

Randy Bachman

Bachman: Reinventing Heavy Blues
by Sal Serio
February 2015

When the concept truly sunk in that I was going to be talking to the king of Canadian rock, Randy Bachman, the man behind the music of such incredible songs such as ‘American Woman’, ‘No Sugar Tonight’, ‘These Eyes’, ‘Undun’, ‘Let It Ride’, ‘Rock Is My Life And This Is My Song’, ‘Hey You’, and the FM radio behemoths ‘Takin’ Care Of Business’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’, well, I was a little anxious, to say the least. As it turned out, Randy is an extremely eloquent speaker with a warm personality, and I immediately felt at ease with our conversation. Bachman’s new album, “Heavy Blues”, comes out April 14, and the very first date of his tour is right here in Wisconsin, Wednesday April 1, at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.


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CONVOY! - photo by Marty Waitkoss

Convoy

Putting some "Blue Collar America" back in to Rock 'n Roll
by Sal Serio
April 2014

There are only a handful of local/regional bands that have immediately gotten into my consciousness and altered my DNA like Convoy has. There’s just something about the ruckus hard rock that those four loonies from the Western suburbs of Chicago play that gives me permanent grinnage. Need some perma-grin of your own? Then you better hitch a ride on the Convoy train to one of these upcoming gigs: Sat. May 24 at The Back Bar in Janesville, and Sun. May 25 at Brat Fest in Madison. CONVOY are Brian Corbin: vocals and guitar, Mike Getz: drums, John Daniel: lead guitar, and Dan “Big D” Thompson: bass.


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Chicago - photo by David M. Earnisse

Chicago

A 2014 Interview with Robert Lamm
by Sal Serio
March 2014

Taking in the entire breadth and scope of rock group Chicago’s storied career, it’s difficult to fathom the immenseness of the band’s journey, their accomplishments, forays in to a multitude of musical genres, and ability to survive in the ever changing climate of popular culture. After all, this is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in six decades, and is the highest charting American band (# 13) in Billboard’s list of Top 100 artists of all time.

With the recent highlights of performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and inclusion of their very first album, ‘Chicago Transit Authority’ (1969), in to the Grammy Hall Of Fame, the band is currently riding a new wave of enthusiasm and confidence. Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio got to speak to founding member, keyboardist, vocalist, and composer, Robert Lamm, in advance of Chicago’s upcoming Wisconsin appearances (April 28 at Overture Hall in Madison, May 1 at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, and two dates at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre – April 30 & May 4).


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Red Dragon Cartel featuring Jake E. Lee

Red Dragon Cartel

The Return of Guitar Slinger Jake E. Lee - an in depth interview with singer D.J. Smith
by Sal Serio
February 2014

I consider myself fortunate to have seen one of the first gigs by the new Jake E. Lee project, Red Dragon Cartel, January 24th at The Grove in Anaheim. The band was tight and full of attitude as they blasted through their new material, in a set peppered with highlights from Jake’s past work with Badlands and Ozzy Osbourne. I had the opportunity to catch up with vocalist Darren James Smith before the group starts it’s initial tour, which hits Wisconsin on Friday, March 21 , at the Back Bar in Janesville, with openers Convoy and Hessler.

Maximum Ink:  You were originally a drummer, and you’re from Canada, correct?
D.J. Smith:  I toured the planet with a band called Harem Scarem, out of Toronto. I had left the band back in 2002 [or] 2003. My last show with them was in Japan, and I had an opportunity to sing for a band called Juice, that was signed to BMG. I wanted to try something different. I just did a 20 year reunion tour with Harem Scarem, just prior to starting with the Jake band.

MI:  From what I’ve been reading, it seems that there was a Facebook post about Jake starting a new band, and all these people replied wanting the gig. That seems bizarre, is that really what happened?
DJ:  I didn’t see any of that! Here in Canada, we have a franchise of music stores called Long & McQuade, and my buddy Kevin Simpson is the manager of the one in Oshawa, the town I live in. I went in there and he said, “Hey man, Jake E. Lee is looking for a singer”, and I’m like, “Yeah, so? Why are you telling me?” I figured it was a long shot, if anything. Anyway, I sent [something] in, and 12 hours later, my phone rang. I sent a video I shot with a band called Bastard, and it was a real sleazy, punk-rocky, in-your-face, rock tune and video (“L.A. Whore”). YouTube actually labeled it “Most Shocking” Rock Video. I don’t think it’s that shocking, but it definitely has no taste!  (laughing)  So, they saw that, and apparently they liked it.


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Drive-By Truckers - photo by David McClister

Drive-By Truckers

Songwriting, Records, and The Problem With Southern Stereotypes - The Mike Cooley Interview
by Sal Serio
February 2014

Drive-By Truckers are back with an excellent new CD, ‘English Oceans’, due out March 4, and a new tour with openers Blitzen Trapper, which hits Milwaukee’s Turner Hall March 26, First Avenue in Minneapolis March 27, and Madison on March 28. Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio had a fun and insightful conversation with co-founder, guitarist, and vocalist Mike Cooley.

Maximum Ink: I was just listening to an advance copy of the ‘English Oceans’ release. You’ve got a lot of songs on there, the most for you since ‘Brighter Than Creation’s Dark’. Was that a reflection of a particularly creative time for you, or was it more luck of the draw?
Mike Cooley: I’ve always done that, but the last time around, when it kind of dried up, was a little longer than it had ever been. The timing was just awful. [It] was a big relief for me to come in with that many new songs that I felt that strongly about. This time I did a lot more writing things down as I thought of them. Just a line here, a line there, and stockpiling that. As I would get something started that seemed like it was going somewhere, I could look back and occasionally pull something out of there that would help me bridge the gap and get me to the next piece of it.


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King Khan - photo by Matias Corral

King Khan and The Shrines

Idle No More and Back To Serve Up Spiritual Soul Mayhem
by Sal Serio
September 2013

Mark it on your calendars, if you haven’t already! King Khan & The Shrines return to Wisconsin on Tuesday, October 22, for a crazed high-octane psychedelic-soul garage-pop rock revival at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. Maximum Ink recently had the enjoyable opportunity to speak with band leader Arish Ahmad Khan (the “King” himself!) via phone from his home in Berlin, Germany, where he’s resided for the past nine years.


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Dweezil Zappa

Zappa Plays Zappa

Touring the Roxy, the Pabst, & Elsewhere
by Sal Serio
August 2013

Zappa Plays Zappa returns to Wisconsin with a new tour, celebrating Frank Zappa’s classic live ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’ album. In advance of the September 8th Pabst Theater concert in Milwaukee, Maximum Ink had the opportunity to speak with band leader Dweezil Zappa. [author’s note: Zappa Plays Zappa is also performing the “Roxy & Elsewhere 40th Anniversary Tour” at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Monday, February 17, 2014.]

Maximum Ink:  Are there plans to release new original Dweezil music in near future?

Dweezil Zappa:  Yeah! There’s a project I just finished working on, that will come out in a few stages. I do a music camp called Dweezilla, and this year I invited other guitar instructors to be a part of it, and we did a comprehensive guitar course. In years past, just my band would teach, and you could have drum, bass, keyboard, [or] saxophone lessons, but this year was only guitar. I used that as an opportunity to collaborate with some of the people that I invited to be guitar instructors. So, there will be a Dweezilla guitar release, and the first installment of it will have four songs on it, I think. There’s music that has sections for seven different guitar instructors to improvise on. My piece of music is called “Dinosaur” and will be coming out, probably, around the same time as the tour, or may come out in time for the October tour.


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Mary Zimmer from classic Ottomon Empire days...  - photo by Laura Koeppel

Luna Mortis

Looking Back and Moving Forward, the Return of Luna Mortis
by Sal Serio
July 2013

So you wanna be a rock ‘n roll star? Well, listen now, to what I say. You shopped around your demo, attracted some major label interest, and – viola! – you got signed. Now it’s time to live the dream, right? Elaborate catering requests on riders, swanky tour busses, swimming pools, and groupies lined up down the hall of the Embassy Suites. You’re on easy street, right? I’m sorry to say, the trip may not be a rosy as a baby’s bottom, after all.


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White Mystery - photo by Diane Alexander White

White Mystery

Live at Mickey’s, Fri. July 5, with The Arge & The Non Travellin’ Band
by Sal Serio
June 2013

Some sound advice from the Salamander: do NOT go totally gonzo-party overboard this 4th of July, because you’ll most definitely want to save some energy for Friday the 5th and the stellar rock ‘n roll triple bill showcased at Mickey’s Tavern in Madison. Headlining (but playing second on the bill) is the garage-rock power-duo from Chicago: White Mystery! This is White Mystery’s first Madison appearance since opening for Shonen Knife at the UW Terrace last August.


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