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MaryBeth Zamer and Mike T. Lewis

Twangtown Paramours

An interview with musicians MaryBeth Zamer and Mike T. Lewis
by Tina Hall
July 2012

Comprised of MaryBeth Zamer and Mike T. Lewis, The Twangtown Paramours offer up music from the soul that is hard to put into any one genre. Their self-titled debut album reached #11 on the Folk DJ chart, Cashbox County Roots chart (remaining in the top 40 all summer in 2010),and was named one of the top 100 folk albums for 2010. Their latest release hits radio this very week.


Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? How have your early days influenced you to become who you are now?
Mike Lewis: I’m from the Northeast – NY, NJ, and VT. My mom was a concert pianist and taught piano during my entire childhood. I heard a lot of kids, who didn’t bother to practice, banging on the piano every afternoon, but I also drank in a lot of great music – Mozart, Bach, and other composers you hear when you’re on hold with the phone company. I studied classical and jazz guitar from some of the best New York City had to offer, starting at age 8. I was around great music and great musicians and that influenced the bejesus outta me.
MaryBeth Zamer: I was born and raised in the DC area. I’ve been singing since I was a kid. Ella Fitzgerald’s singing has been the single most influence on me.I play several instruments (guitar, piano) badly and have been instructed to “step away from the tambourine” on more than one occasion.

MI: How did The Twangtown Paramours come to be?
ML: MaryBeth and I had been together for about a year. I had this one song called “Nowhere to Go” that I was preparing for a demo singer to perform in the studio in Nashville that I run. MaryBeth was working on her own jazz vocal project. She heard the song and insisted that she be the demo singer on it. Her voice and her ideas influenced the way I approached the production. Then we did two more songs in a similar way. After three songs, I realized we had a distinctive sound and that it was time to make a record and venture out into the world with it. That all started in 2009.
MZ:  I didn’t “insist” on singing anything. I just told him I thought I could sing it and changed the groove on it a little.  He wanted to go out to dinner because it was Valentine’s Day.

MI: How did you first come to sing professionally? What led you to move to Nashville from DC? 
MZ: By professionally, if you mean getting paid for it-that happened in college when I first started singing in bands. I started out singing background vocals for a few bands and then started auditioning and working as a female vocalist. I moved from DC to Nashville because my first husband was going to school in Nashville, and I was able to find a job here, so the re-location had nothing to do with music.


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Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

An interview with Singer Joan Osborne
by Tina Hall
June 2012

Joan Osborne is best known for the single One of Us of her debut album Relish. The Kentucky native has been making music from the soul since 1995. She appeared in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown in 2002 and did her version of Spoonful on Vivian Campbell’s(Def Leppard)album Two Sides of If. With seven studio albums under her belt her latest release Bring It On Home is out now.


Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Kentucky?
Joan Osborne: It was wonderful, a lot of freedom for myself and my brothers and sisters(I’m one of six). We lived in a place where everyone knew everyone else, where we went out in morning and ran in the woods all day and no one would worry about us. We were able to develop a real connection with the natural world, which I value now that I live in New York City. As for the music of the region, well, although we weren’t big country music fans it was always there and we loved John Denver and Elvis Presley, who also had a thread of rock n roll, rockabilly in his music. Country music and bluegrass was all around us. It was there that the seed of this amazing roots music was planted when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I got older that I really began to become a big fan of other kinds of country music, learn about bluegrass, and become a huge fan of artists like Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams.

MI: What was your first day in New York like? Did you experience culture shock? 
JO: I did experience culture shock! I got out of a Trailways bus at the Port
Authority bus station and walked to my lodgings at the 8th and 34th Street YMCA and it was intense. That particular stretch of NYC is really grimy and crowded and noisy and I kind of loved it immediately. I loved walking down the street and feeling so much energy and seeing people of all different types and I was very excited by that. In a way I felt like I had walked into the right movie. 


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Sean Spillane

Sean Spillane

An interview with Singer/Songwriter Sean Spillane
by Tina Hall
May 2012

Sean Spillane first gained notice from his time in the critically acclaimed band ARLO. His career in music has led to various national and international tours and four full length albums. With work that spans genres Spillane makes music with a genuine touch of soul that is hard to find. Most recently Sean composed and recorded the delightfully edgy soundtrack for the film The Woman (based on the writing of Jack Ketchum and directed by Lucky McKee). He also released the 80’s inspired soundtrack to Brian Keene’s Ghoul. At the moment he is working hard to score the soundtrack for Jug Face.

Maximum Ink: When you first moved from Texas to California did you experience any culture shock? What was your first though upon arriving in California?
Sean Spillane: I didn’t really have any culture shock. Most of my family is from the San Francisco area so I knew California was where I wanted to be. Los Angeles was bigger and more diverse than I ever imagined, and that’s why 20 years later I’m still here and still loving it.

MI: As a major fan of the Stones what did you think of Mick Jagger’s recent appearance on SNL? Why do you think their music has such timeless appeal?
SS: I actually missed that performance on SNL, I was at a friend’s birthday party this last Saturday night. What makes the Stones timeless? I have to say it’s the hooks Mick and Keith write. All of their best songs are great pop songs, but the way they were recorded and arranged disguises the pop with a grit and coolness that nobody else can duplicate.

MI: Your music has an honest feel to it that gives it a more genuine feel to it?
SS: Thanks! When I’m just cutting loose and being myself like I was on “The Woman” Soundtrack, my songwriting process won’t allow me to be anything but honest. Anytime I’m writing and it feels pretentious, it’s like a buzzer goes off in my brain and any song I write that gives me that feeling, never gets finished and never sees the light of day. Being able to inject emotional honesty into music is something that took me a long time to get comfortable with. I think that now more than ever, I can write with the same voice in many different musical genres and still feel like it’s me, even if I’m having a laugh like I was on the “Ghoul” soundtrack. Really, what it comes down to is that I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m cool. I’m writing for myself and if anyone thinks it’s cool, then great. If not, I don’t really care. That’s most likely where the honesty comes from.

I’d say I’m an honest fellow, sometimes to a fault. Being honest just feels better. It makes your relationships in life better. I’ve found as I get older that I say this phrase more and more “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Most of the time I use that phrase, it’s due to me having to protect myself and my music in a way where I’m being honest with myself. Rip the band aid off and just move on from there. Also, being able to say No is a very honest reply most of the time that can be extremely tough to say in certain circumstances.


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Def Leppard

Def Leppard

An interview with guitarist Phil Collen
by Tina Hall
May 2012

Phil Collen is best known as the guitarist for Def Leppard where he perfected the dual guitar style alongside Steve Clark that gave the band its signature sound. Before all of that he was a member of the rock band Girl. He can currently be found in Manraze as well with drummer Paul Cook(Sex Pistols) and Simon Laffy(Girl). Their sophmore album PunkFunkRootsRock is out now.  He can be found on tour with Def Leppard this summer headlining with Poison and Lita Ford.  Phil endorses the Jackson PC 1, a limited edition Jackson PC1 Splatter 30th Anniversary, and the Jackson PC Supreme.

Maximum Ink: Are you looking forward to hitting the road with Poison and Lita Ford later this year?
Phil Collen: Always. We’ve toured with Poison before in 2009 and we’ve known those guys for years. We’ve never toured with Lita but are looking forward to it.

MI: You have said you picked up the guitar as a means of self-expression. Do you think it is important for people to have an outlet that encourages the growth of the self?
PC: Absolutely especially kids when they don’t know how to express themselves with words. Grownups should have an outlet too…

MI: You seem to live a rather healthy lifestyle. Do you think it has helped you survive the rock n roll n roll lifestyle as well as you have?
PC: I guess so but I see people in their everyday lives not in the business, 10 to 15 years younger than me, in really bad shape. Not just physically because it’s not just about working out but pretty much all around in their lives.There seems to be an overall ‘agony’.To me it’s a no brainer.

MI: You are also working on a Physical Mechanics routine that involves muay thai, heavy cardio, and weight training. Can you tell our readers a little more about that, what exactly is muay thai? What is it like working with Jean Carrillo?
PC: Muay Thai is a martial arts Thai fighting style sometimes known as ‘Thai Boxing’. Jean Carrillo is a former European world champion and a five time world champion coach. I get the benefit of having someone who has such a vast knowledge train me in the same way he would train his fighters. There are lots of benefits. The physical, mental, and spiritual awareness that evolves is unsurpassed.


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Love and Death

Love and Death

An interview with Singer/Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch and Guitarist J.R. Bareis
by Tina Hall
May 2012

Former KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch formed Love and Death in 2009. Comprised of Welch as frontman, Dan Johnson on drums, Michael Valentine on bass and J.R. Bareis on guitar the members where chosen from open auditions on YouTube. Most recently they released the 5 song EP Chemicals and are with the highly anticipated new full length album expected out later this year. The band is set to tour alongside P.O.D and Red from April 30-May 24. I had the chance to catch up with Brian Welch and J.R Bareis for the latest on things to come.

Maximum Ink: So can you tell me what you where like as a child? What is your foundest memory from that time?
Brian Welch: I was kinda shy, but determined to learn the guitar! My fondest memory is getting my first Ibanez guitar for Christmas.

MI: When did you first develop your love of music? Do you remember what you very first favorite song was?
BW: I was 10 years old and my first song was “Don’t stop believing” by Journey.
JR:I’m pretty sure I loved music before I was conceived or even considered. Hahaha! All I did was listen to music growing up. I just absolutely love it. I can’t even remember my favorite song or if I even had one. I love all kinds of music. Even now, I can’t make up my mind on a certain song.

MI: When you decided to form Love and Death why did you decide to hold open audition on YouTube? Do you enjoy having the chance to give up and coming artists a chance to show the world what they can do?
BW:  Yes. The YouTube idea was to save time from having to fly people to us to jam. Saved a lot of time and was fun to watch all the videos.

MI: How do you feel about being in this band at the age of 17? What have you learned from the experience so far? What was the first thing that ran through your mind when you learned you had gotten the spot?
J.R.: It’s crazy! It’s always been my dream to be in a band and tour.  I’ve learned so much from it. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is to not let my guitar hit the ground on purpose. At our last show I did and my guitar snapped in half!  The first thing that ran through my mind when I got the spot was, “This seriously can’t be happening. SOMEBODY PINCH ME!”. That was a good day to say the least.


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Cycle of Pain

Cycle of Pain

An interview with Singer/Guitarist Gregg LoCascio
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Cycle of Pain was formed by John “Jd” DeServio of Black Label Society. Along with members Gregg LoCascio and Joe Taylor the band has been working together since DeServio was 15, a very impressive record these days. The band has a heavy sound that is pure rock at it’s finest. The single “Do My Work High” from the self titled debut, featuring Zakk Wylde(Black Label Society) and Sen Dog(Cypress Hill) took the award for Best Pot Song at High Times Magazine in 2010. I was honored to sit down with Gregg to find out more about one of the best upcoming acts in the business.

Maximum Ink:Since there isn’t much about you out there, can you tell us a little about your background? Where are you from and what makes you tick?
Gregg LoCascio:  Well I’m born and raised in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Started playing drums at 4 1/2 years old up til the present day, started singing in about 1990-1991. I love most kinds of music, mostly classic rock and metal! Love Jazz! All kinds of shit!  Sports, Baseball, football and Major hockey fan!  What makes me tick? Good friends and family and I’ve been busting ass as a plumber pretty much all my life.

MI:Do you remember when you first met Jd? What was he like back then?
GL: The first time with John was on the phone, someone I jammed with knew two dudes, a guitar player and bass player (JD) that needed a drummer so he gave em my number. John called me and we were into all the same shit so they headed over and I believe the 1st tune we played was Wrathchid ( from Iron Maiden) then Mr. Crowley (Ozzy) and it was awesome! We just became brothers
off the bat!  He (John) was just a rambunctious little dude who blew me away the way he played! Little Steve we called him (Steve Harris) we were big Maiden Heads!  He’s still the same just more cultured in music and life as we all are.

MI:He has said he was 15 when the band formed. Are all of you roughly the same age? Do you ever miss those early days?What where they like if you don’t mind my asking?
GL: Yeah we were 14 then when Joe joined we were 15.  All the same age give or take a few months. Sure I miss them, they were awesome! Just carefree partying and jammin. We always had a lot of friends around, there was always a party somewhere, and we’d play at one here and there. Awesome!

MI: Any amusing stories from back then you might not mind sharing?
GL: Oh Jeez! Ha Ha Ha that’s a long time ago! I remember we took a break from jammin one day, got stoned and went down to the local pizza joint where we laughed our asses off at John shoving a wide slice of pizza in his mouth and we got kicked out for that! We were 15 then. I’m sure there’s more but my brain is shot ( laughs).


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Guitarist Michael Williams - photo by Kevin Estrada

The Michael Williams Band

An interview with Blues Guitarist Michael Williams
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Michael Williams has been labeled “the one to watch” by guitar enthusiasts and critics alike.His smooth styling that appeals to both blues and rock n roll fans alike, has made him one of the best new blues artists of our time. The Michael Williams Band is consisted of Williams(guitar and vocals), Gerald Tugboat Turner II(bass), Darin Watkins(drums),and Ryan Shea Smith(keyboard). Most recently they have opened for such legendary acts as George Thorogood,Buddy Guy, Robert Cray,  Eric Johnson, and Jonny Lang. Their latest release Fire Red was produced by Eddie Kramer(Jimi Hendrix,The Rolling Stones, KISS, Buddy Guy, and Led Zepplin).

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about what you where like as a child? What is your fondest memory from that time?
Michael Williams: I was an out-going kid who always found himself getting into trouble! My fondest memory as a kid would be sitting on the old railroad ties and singing Whitney Houston’s “I believe the children are our future”  with my sister Camille.

MI: Your musical roots run deep, what was it like being surrounded by music at such an early age? Do you think you would be a musician today if not for the early influence?
MW: Music was bred into me at a young age I recall watching Stevie Ray from side stage as a kid night after night. My father would bring me on stage and let me play “manishboy” (Muddy Water’s) at age ten! I don’t know what path I would have taken if not for the great influences of my childhood (smiles). I owe it to my father for leading me in the right direction at an early age.


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Guitarist Wayne Krantz - photo by Vikas Nambiar

Wayne Krantz

An interview with Guitarist Wayne Krantz
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Guitarist Wayne Krantz is best known for his work as a solo artist. He has also graced the stage with such artists as Steely Dan,  Billy Cobham, and Michael Brecker. His tenth album Howie 61 offers up
blues inspired rock riffs that appeal to fans of both genres. Joining him on the album are such iconic artists as Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, Sting), Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock), Pino Palladino (Jeff Beck, The Who, Eric Clapton), and Anton Fig of The Letterman Show’s “World’s Most Dangerous Band”, and many others (Keith Carlock, James Genus, Nate Wood, Henry Hey, Owen Biddle, Charley Drayton, John Patitucci, John Beasley, Jeremy Stacey, Paul Stacey, Yasushi Miura, David Binney, Kenny Wollesen and Gabriela Anders.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your background? What were you like as child?
Wayne Krantz: Young, mostly. I hear when I was brought home from the hospital my dad cranked Beethoven on the stereo all day long. That basically never stopped.

MI: Who were some of your earliest influences?
WK: Early on it was Beatles, Monkeese, Debussy, Herb Alpert, Dionne Warwick, James Bond themes. Then came Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Santana, Sons of Champlin. Then Miles Davis, John Mclaughlin, George Benson, Joe Pass, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall. Then Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Prince. Finally, Hendrix. Then nobody. Well, this guy Yasushi Miura has been knocking me out lately. Not really an influence, but someone who confirms what I’m doing in some way.

MI: When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
WK: When I was 16. I was listening to a Sons record called “Follow Your Heart” and decided to take their advice.

MI: What was your very first guitar? Do you remember what was running through your head when you got it?
WK: I started on a Framus acoustic my Dad had in the attic. I was really intrigued by it for some reason, even though it only had two strings on it at the time.


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Joshua Okeefe

Joshua Okeefe

An interview with Singer/Songwriter Joshua Okeefe
by Tina Hall
April 2012

Up and coming country singer/songwriter Joshua Okeefe delivers songs that stick in your head with a smoothness you’d expect to find on someone much older. At 20 the English native is set to take the country music world by storm with songs like No Doubts, Sunshine, and Taylor(written for Taylor Swift). It was an honor to have the chance to sit down with such a dedicated artist at the very beginning of his rise to the top.

Maximimum Ink: Can you tell us a little about yourself? What were you like as a child?
Joshua OKeefe: I am a workaholic, I find it hard to sit down and watch tv for 15 minutes to relax because I love working hard. I have been determined from an early age and always try to be the best I can possibly be in everything I do! I love to have fun and enjoy life

MI: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and what do you think it was that drew you to the country genre?
JO: I fronted a touring pop band from the age of 13 and toured the UK 3 times over by the time I was 15. In every city we played we always had girls singing our songs.Being on stage always felt like home to me so that gave me the dream of doing it for a career. I grew up listening to country music. My dad would play it on the way to school. From that I developed a country voice.

MI: No Doubts is one of those songs that sticks in your head once you hear it even if you don’t like country music. What inspired that? Do you enjoy writing music that sticks?
JO: The idea for No Doubts came to me one night when I was thinking about how it would feel when I meet my Miss right. I can’t help writing melodies that stick in your head, I have done it from an early age and I think that is one of my strongest areas in writing music. I think it’s important because it can make a song memorable!


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Randy Travis

Randy Travis

An interview with Singer Randy Travis
by Tina Hall
March 2012

Randy Travis has long been a respected name in country music as well as gospel. With 20 studio albums selling a combined total of 25 million copies and 22 number one hits he has proven it is respect well earned. Travis has an impressive amount of awards with 10 AMA’s, 9 ACM’s, 7 Dove awards, 6 Grammy’s,and 6 CMA awards. Randy has also worked as an actor, appearing on/in Frank & Jesse, Matlock, Hey Arnold, King of the Hill, Lost, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets as well as many others. To mark 25 years in the industry in he most recently released the album Anniversary Celebration featuring appearances by Carrie Underwood, John Anderson, Josh Turner, Gene Watson, Connie Smith and Joe Stampley.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your early days? What where you like as a child?
Randy Travis: As a kid, I grew up on a horse. The first pony I had was at 3 years old. There’s one album cover that we did, I don’t remember which one it was, but I’m thinking I was 3 months old and my dad had a palomino kneeling with me sitting in the saddle. My mom may have taken that picture. I grew up as a cowboy. As a really young boy, I was helping my dad move cows, but I was also a brat and I probably had to be punished quite often by him. I’ve been up front and honest about this. We fought a lot and then into the teenage years, I got into a lot of drugs and alcohol.  So, I was not a good kid, not at all.

MI: Do you think you would be where you are now without the encouragement of your father? What would you say is the most important thing he taught you?
RT: No.The most important thing I got from him was that love of music and pursuing that as a career. He and my mom would take all six kids to what was called fiddlers conventions and we’d be playing in the VFW or Moose Lodges after being hired to play at square dances and all kinds of things like that. He would push us kids to continue learning to play instruments and learning music. I’d love to know how many songs I knew, at this point in life, because it would sure be a lot.That was the most important thing from him, and of course, he taught me a lot about horses.


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