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Bluegrass legend  Ralph Stanly

Ralph Stanley

An interview with the Bluegrass legend
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Ralph Stanley has been entertaining the masses with his distinctive voice and banjo playing since 1946. Influenced by the traditional music of rural Appalachia he formed the Clinch Mountain Boys, and later The Stanley Brothers, with his brother Carter. The rest became history. As a banjo player he developed the unique “Stanley Style” recognized fast, continuous forward rolls followed by the index finger. In 2002 Stanley won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of O Death, produced by T-Bone Burnett for the for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Southwest Virginia? How were times most different back then? Do you ever miss those days?
Ralph Stanley: Growing up in the hills of southwest, Virginia was a wonderful place to be born and raised. Of course we faced hard times, but the good outweighed the bad.
MI: What do you love most about living in such rural places as Dickenson County? Do people ever ask you why you decided to stay in the area you were raised?
RS: I always wanted to stay home in Southwest, VA. A lot of folks ask me why I never moved to Nashville. I love the hills and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
MI: What did it feel like when you got your very first banjo from your aunt all those years ago? Do you remember was running through you mind when you first got it?
RS: I was very excited. My mother gave me a choice to pick from a hog or a banjo. A lot of folks don’t know this but I always dreamed of being a veterinarian in my younger days. I Was interested in animals very much. But my mother could only afford one. Both were $5.00. So I picked the banjo. I’m glad I did.


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Bart Harris

The Bart Harris

An interview with bassist/guitarist/singer Bart Harris of Bret Michaels Band
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Bart Harris is the singer/guitarist for the band JunkFood which features Dan Anderson (Lead Guitar) and Van Swanson (Bass). He can also be found providing the bass for the Bret Michaels Band alongside Pete Evick (Lead Guitar), Mike Bailey (Drums), and Rob Jozwiak (Keyboard). Bart endorses Aurora strings. It was a pleasure to sit down with him and find out a little more about the man who helps bring the music.

Maximum Ink: Where are you from? What was it like growing up there?
Bart Harris: I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. I have a lot of family here and my family owns a business as well (Shannon Auto Sales). It used to be a small town where pretty much everybody knew everyone. It’s a little different now but it’s still home to me.

MI: Do you remember what the moment was like when you first discovered the power of music?
BH: I’m not sure if this is the single moment but my parents took me to see the Bee Gees live when I was about 6 or 7. I’d never been inside of an arena and I was overwhelmed by the energy. Then they had pyro which just completely sent me over the top. From that moment live music has had an effect on me.

MI: What was your very first favorite song?
BH: I’m not sure I can accurately answer that but I’m sure it was Elvis or the Beatles. In my house you either loved them or you found a new place to live. I also remember I Love Rock n Roll having a pretty big impact on me.


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Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey

An interview with drummer Mike Bailey of Bret Michaels Band
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Mike Bailey is the drummer for the Bret Michaels Band. A man of many talents he is also the President and Artist Relations Director for Potomac Records. The D.C. native studied TV and Radio Production at Columbia School of Broadcasting.

Maximum Ink: What were you like as a kid? What are some of your most fond memories from those days?
Mike Bailey: I’m the youngest of 3, with 2 sisters that never lacked pranks on their baby brother. We were raised in a northern Virginia suburb (Chantilly) outside Washington DC. At 7 years old, several of the neighborhood friends, ala The Sand Lot style upbringing with street sports, and music, would rock out to KISS with tennis rackets, jump on top of couches and chairs, playing the roles of our favorite KISS member. I was always Peter Criss of course. In the 4th grade, neighborhood friends Jeff Pringle, Bobby Sparks, Duane Sibole, and I performed (pantomime) KISS’ I Was Made for Loving You in full costume and make-up at the Brookfield Elementary School Gong Show; dried ice, strobe lights, blood capsules, the works. Unfortunately, to a lot of adults at the time, KISS was also known as Knights in Satan’s Service, being one of them, music teacher Ms. Mayo gonged us. And of course the kid playing Elvis, won. Go figure. In retrospect, this was my very first experience in front of a crowd, playing in a rock n roll band, even if only lasted 2.5 minutes (laughs) it’s a memory I’ll never forget.

MI: Did you discover your love of music at an early age? Who were some of your influences? Do you happen to remember you very first favorite song?
MB: It’s the typical story of banging on pots and pans, and anything else that made noise, at a very young age. But my first real introduction to the drums was when my Aunt (Libby) in Alabama shipped me a Toys R Us drum kit for Christmas when I was 5. After destroying and replacing a few more Toys R Us kits, my Dad bought my first real drum kit when I was 9. It was a standard 5 piece kit, and remember him telling me if there’s anything else I want to add to the kit, I would have to work for it and buy it with my own money. I was so excited to finally have a real drum set, getting a new cymbal stand and cymbal, or hi hat stand, was something I was happy to work for, and in turn instilled a good work ethic at a very young age.

Elvis Presley ruled our household. Although I don’t recall my first favorite song, I’m sure it was an Elvis, Dolly Parton, Chubby Checker, Buddy Holly, or a Creedence Clearwater song. I am thankful for my parent’s diverse genres of music they listened to. The first live concerts I went to were The Beach Boys, Dolly Parton, Chicago, and Alabama. I’m proud to say I was able to see some of the 80’s best rock bands at the height of their success. Big influences were Motley Crue, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Tesla, Poison, and Savatage. Tommy Lee was my first true inspiration. The sheer power, and passion he plays with is an amazing combination that separated him from the rest.


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Alice Stuart

Alice Stuart

An interview with American Blues songstress Alice Stuart
by Tina Ayres
December 2014

American Blues and folksinger/guitarist Alice Stuart has toured with Van Morrison, Mississippi John Hurt, and many others. During the 1970’s she first gained notice as one of the only women in rock n roll to write her own music, front a male band, and play lead guitar. She can currently be found performing alongside Marc Willett (The Kingsmen) and Steven Flynn (Chuck Berry,Jr. Cadillac) in the band The Formerlys.

Maximumink: What was your childhood like? What are some of your most fond memories from those days?
Alice Stuart: My childhood was pretty miserable. My mom parked me at 2 years old with my aunt (her sister) and went off to work at Bechtel (of all places). She came home a couple times a year. Very sad for me. My aunt and I (although I learned a lot of practical things from her) were pretty much like oil and water trying to mix together. I was a nervous wreck, allergic to practically everything. All I cared about was music.
MI: Do you happen to remember what your very first favorite song was?
AS: Beethoven when I was playing piano, then Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.
MI: What was it that first led you to discover your love of music?
AS: Always loved music. First piano, then drums, baritone ukulele, and then graduated to guitar.
MI: Why do you think music has always had such a strong appeal throughout time? Why do you the Delta style has always struck such a chord in the hearts of listeners?
AS: People need a connection to their soul and the Delta style really connects you. It’s the real deal. I still prefer it.


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Peter Cornell

Peter Cornell

by Tina Ayres
October 2014

Peter Cornell has worked in the music industry in such bands as Inflatable Soule and Black Market Radio and as a solo artist. His latest release Champion features former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese on drums.

Maximum Ink: What were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories from that time?

Peter Cornell: I was a little hyper. Consequently I got in a bit of mischief. I was also fairly bright and did well in school when I could stay out of the head master’s office. I love being outside. I love playing football and basketball and when I got to be a teenager I learned how to sail and raced sailboats for years. Sailing, the sea, the water, boats of all kinds are still a huge love of mine.

MI: What was it like growing up with Chris? What has been like getting to watch him succeed at doing something he loves? Do you ever get tired of people mentioning the connection there?

PC: As adults, we have always been close. As kids we were kids and pulled each other’s hair and pinched each other’s arm. But I would crush anyone who ever threatened to lay a hand on him. Then and now I love the man dearly and have always taken a paternal pride in his success. Somewhere along the way I took an interest in music and honestly Chris has mentored me every step of the way and still does. If I hated him it would probably bother me that I get a lot of questions about him. But I love him so I don’t mind if people talk to me about him. But family is very private for us so my answers are limited.


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Devil City Angels

Devil City Angels

An interview with Singer/Guitarist Brandon Gibbs
by Tina Ayres
October 2014

Brandon Gibbs has been in love with music since an early age. By the age of 8 he had discovered guitar and by 14 he was performing at a national level. From his first band, The Gibbs Brothers Blues Band, to Cheap Thrill Brandon has worked tirelessly to pour his soul into the music he loves so well. Currently he can be found as the frontman for Devil City Angels alongside Rikki Rockett (Poison), Tracii Guns (L.A Guns), and Eric Brittingham (Cinderella).

Maximum Ink: Do you remember what it was like to start singing as a toddler? Was it more fun to have your brother at your side then? What is it like to be a twin?
Brandon Gibbs: Being a twin is such an amazing feeling! My brother and I were obsessed with music at such an early age…It’s all we wanted to do and we did at all together. Another part of being a twin was when we would play together, you could always tell what the other one was thinking. For instance, we could come out of a “mistake” and it would have sounded like we meant to do it. Although we don’t play music together anymore, in general I can usually tell what he is going to do with whatever circumstance we face. Usually it’s all in humor, at 29 we still laugh like we did when we were 10!

MI: Aside from your love of music what were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories from that time?
BG: As a child and even to our early 20’s we had a Grandpa who was active in our lives. We had so much fun with him and spent a lot of time learning from him. My brother and I would pull pranks on him all of the time and he would do the same with us! It was such a fun/funny environment to be around. He also taught us when it was time to be serious and have goals. Most kids on Friday nights were hanging out with their schoolmates which is perfectly normal, my brother and I wanted to see what he was doing first and then go from there!(laughs) I personally spent a ton of time on the golf course with him learning the game. Early into our teens we took a lot of road trips with him and our family because we were starting our career. There are lots of great memories with that man. The names and numbers tattooed on my hands are a memorial to him. I think Brent (my bro) would say the same thing. (smiles)

MI: What was your very first favorite song?
BG: My first song that I fell in love with was The Thrill Is Gone by B.B. King. My parents bought me B.B. King Live At The Ole Miss and I burned that CD into my head! Every time that track came up I always got goose bumps!

MI: How did it feel to be performing at a national level by the age of 14?
BG: Everything was sort of a test…For instance, promoters liked the concept of the Gibbs Brothers, but since we were so young we had to prove to them night after night that we could handle the job!! We gave up sports and other activities and learned how to perform and entertain…When show time came around we did exactly that! There was always a hug and a high five waiting for us as we walked down the ramp. Also how we handled mishaps, wireless units cutting out, amps breaking on stage, snare drums splitting…We had backup plans for these real problems and didn’t panic, they seen that and knew we weren’t as young mentally. After we would do these shows, much like American Idol, we advanced to the next level. Once again a test…“Dear Gibbs Bros, here’s your next assignment, don’t let me down.” (smiles)


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Musician and author, Becket

Becket

An interview with musician/author Becket
by Tina Ayres
October 2014

Becket is perhaps best known for his work as Anne Rice’s assistant and for his own tales in The Blood Vivicanti and the Children’s book Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl. Long before all of that he was a Benedictine monk with a master’s degree in theology. His love for music began around the age of 11 when he formed a band with Sam Rivers who is now the bassist for Limp Bizkit. With his first self-titled album now available, it is an honor to sit down with him and learn more about what led to its creation.

Maximumink: What was your very first favorite song?

Becket: Michael Jackson’s Beat It. My dad gave me a 45 record player, and his dad owned a jukebox. They were always giving me records. But that one I played over and over and over again. That and Phil Collins’ Sussudio.

MI: Do you remember what it was like to meet Sam when you were 11?

B: I remember he transferred to my school. He and I started playing musical instruments together, he on guitar and I on bass. But then we switched one day, and now he’s a brilliant bass player.


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Devil City Angels

Devil City Angels

An interview with guitarist Tracii Guns
by Tina Ayres
October 2014

Tracii Guns is best known as the guitarist for the metal group L.A. Guns. He was also an original member of Guns N’ Roses as well as a member of supergroups Brides of Destruction and Contraband. He is currently touring with Devil City Angels alongside drummer Rikki Rockett (Poison), Eric Brittingham (Cinderella), and Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill).

Maximum Ink: What were you like as a child? What would you say are some of your most fond memories from that time?
Tracii Guns: I was a typical late 60’s kid. My parents were way too young but, they were hip. I spent a lot of time with my cousin Lannie who was 5 years older than me. We were adventure seekers and music lovers. He passed away when I was 17 and it was awful. My mom loved to travel so we went on lots of mini vacations and camping trips. By the time I was 7 I had been to France and Mexico and had been to sleep over camp. I was ready for the commune, traveling circus kind of lifestyle at that point.

MI: When did you first discover music? Do you happen to remember what your first favorite song was?
TG: Mostly my mom and AM radio. I liked The Rapper by the Jaggerz and Bang A Gong by T Rex.As far back as I can remember I’ve loved rock n roll.


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The Dead Daisies

The Dead Daisies

An interview with Guitarist Richard Fortus
by Tina Ayres
July 2014

Richard Fortus has graced the stage with artists like Rihanna, The Psychedelic Furs, Nena, Love Spit Love, Honky Toast, The Compulsions, Thin Lizzy, and Guns N’ Roses, with a stage presence that is nothing short of amazing. His work with the music production company “Compound” has been featured in various tv, film, advertising and video game projects. Fans of the former television show Charmed have enjoyed his work on the theme song, as well. His work ethic and drive led to his being one of the most sought after first call sessions artists in NYC. He recently joined forces with the band The Dead Daisies. It is my pleasure to bring our readers a little more information on the latest project.

Maximum Ink: Where are you from? What were you like as a child? What would you say are your most fond memories from that time?
Richard Fortus:
I’m from Saint Louis. I started playing violin and drums around 4 or 5 years old. I didn’t pick up guitar till I was around 13. I don’t think I was a bad kid. I got in to some trouble, but I wasn’t too bad. I really fell in love with rock n’ roll at an early age and used to go to every concert that I could. It didn’t matter if I was really a fan of the band or not, if they came to St Louis, I went. I definitely have a lot of great memories from shows.

MI: What do you love most about the act of making music?
RF:
The spiritual high that is achievable through music is unlike anything else. It’s a place where you are completely out of your body and mind and are acting only as a conduit or channel. It’s something that I’m also chasing. My primary objective is to reach that place every night. Some nights it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, it is bliss. 

MI: Why do you think music has always had such an appeal through the ages?
RF:
For THAT reason! Music is a spiritual experience for the musician and the listener. It can move you unlike any other art form. It’s immediate and can be incredibly powerful.

MI: What advice would you offer those wishing to learn to music regardless of their instrument of choice?
RF:
You have to love it so much, that it possesses your body and soul. If you don’t have that passionate love, you will never be great. That is, of course, only if you want to seriously make music a career. If not, as long as you enjoy doing it, you are doing the right thing!


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Hed PE

Hed PE

An interview with guitarist Jackson Benge
by Tina Ayres
July 2014

Hed PE is back with their ninth studio album to the delight of American Rapcore fans everywhere. Their latest offering, Evolution, is slated for release this July on Pavement Entertainment. Comprised of Jared Gomes(vocals), Mawk(bass), Jackson Benge(guitar) , and Trauma(drums) the band is back with sounds heavier than ever.

Maximum Ink: What were you like as a child growing up? What would you say are your fondest memories of that time?
Jackson Benge: I was a hyper kid. My grade school teachers would always write the same types of comments on my report cards; “He has a lot of energy,” or, “Distracts other kids.” I couldn’t keep still and couldn’t stop staring at the clouds. My imagination was my best friend and I used to love to draw. One of my fondest memories growing up was the first time I rode a bicycle without training wheels. As long as my memory is still intact, that will remain among the fondest.

MI: How old were you when you wrote your first song? Do you remember what it was about?
JB: I was about 15 or 16 years old when I wrote one of my first actual songs. Believe it or not, I wrote the lyrics as well. It was called, “Hold On,” and it was a cross between “Earth Angel” by the Penguins and “Don’t Cry” by Guns ‘n’ Roses. It was a simple love song about wanting to be with a girl you can’t have. At the time, many girls around me seemed to like that song, so I guess it was a relative success.

MI: Are you excited to be releasing your ninth studio album on Pavement Entertainment?
JB: “Evolution” is our 9th studio release and it’s always exciting to put out a new record, especially with a label like Pavement, which clearly has a solid grasp on how to treat their artists. The team we now have working with us is incredible. When I talk to others who have worked with Pavement, they have nothing but great things to say about them as well.


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