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Boxmasters

The Boxmasters

An interview with Billy Bob Thornton and the gang
by Tina Ayres
May 2015

The Boxmasters is an Americana Rock and Roll band currently made up of Billy Bob Thornton, J.D Andrew, Brad Davis, and Ted Andreadis. Their fourth album, Somewhere Down the Road was released on 101 Ranch Records, April 7, 2015. It was an honor to sit down with the band for a glimpse at the men behind the music.

What were you like as a child growing up? What is your most fond memory from that time in your life? Did your love of music develop at an early age?
Billy Bob Thornton: My love of music developed when I was 3 or 4 because we used to listen to music around my Grandma’s house. It was mostly what was on the radio at the time, especially Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis. A lot of Sun records. My mom loved Jim Reeves and Ray Price and people like that, so that was my earliest influences. I was a kid who loved baseball and music. And then I saw the Beatles in 1964 on Ed Sullivan and started playing drums because I wanted to be like Ringo.
J.D. Andrew: My family constantly listened to music. We always had the radio on and we loved listening to a radio show on the “oldies” station called “Solid Gold Saturday Night” and I would make cassettes of the songs and listen to them all week. I started singing in a church group when I was 6 or 7 and from then on was always in a singing group of some sort.
Ted Andreadis: There was always music in my house growing up. My Father played the mandolin. I started on the accordion when I was around 10 years, then picked up guitar.
Brad Davis: I was a loner and one that enjoyed being around older folks. I loved playing music with my family. I was a music student at the age of 5 learning bluegrass by ear.

Do you happen to remember your very first favorite song?
BBT: My very first favorite song was probably He’ll Have to Go by Jim Reeves.
J.D.: Mine was probably Surf City or Dead Man’s Curve by Jan and Dean or Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys.
Ted: That’s a tough one.
Brad: Trailers for Sale or Rent by Roger Miller

When did you first know you wanted to seriously pursue a life of music? Does a little determination go a long way when dealing with the various rejections you encounter along the way, etc?
BBT: Well, I knew that I wanted to be in music right away when I saw the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five on Ed Sullivan. I had little bands that would play 3 or 4 songs like House of the Rising Sun and Hanky Panky. I played in bands later that played VFW clubs, high school proms, and college fraternity parties all the way up to opening for huge acts at coliseums and festivals by the time I was in my early 20’s. Then I went to California to seek my fame and fortune. But I never looked back. I always just thought tomorrow’s the day and rejection never deterred me.
J.D.: I had sort of an epiphany that I wanted to make records in college. I was always fascinated with equipment and loved setting up equipment for high school dances and parties starting in junior high. I had a band in college, but it was not my intention to be an artist. I was quite happy striving to be the most famous recording engineer in the world. And while I’ve had minor rejections, I’ve always believed that this is what I do, so I’m not going to be doing anything else.
Ted: I knew what I wanted to do [like most kids] when I saw the Beatles. As far as making it last you have to believe in yourself and know when it’s working and when it’s not. And when it’s not working and you’ve tried that’s probably the time to say Eh I gave it a good shot.
Brad: At the age of 10 I knew that I wanted to have a career in music. And I have had many failures but most all of those failures have led to amazing opportunities.


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Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot

An interview with guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal
by Tina Ayres
May 2015

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal is a guitar virtuoso, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He is likely best known for his stint as lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses. His tenth album Little Brother Is Watching features Dennis Leeflang on drums. With over 20 years of experience in the music industry Ron has collaborated with some of the most iconic musicians of our time. Most recently he has collaborations with DMC (Run DMC) and Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, Art of Anarchy). Bumblefoot also has music appearing in TV, film, and videogames. He works with U.S Embassies around the world on cross-cultural music programs and works with dozens of international charities visiting orphanages and children’s hospitals.

Maximum Ink: Do you happen to remember what you very first favorite song was?
Bumblefoot: Probably the theme to Sesame Street. (laughs) I started listening to music very young.
MI: What was it that first sparked your interest in music?
B: I heard a lot of classic ‘60s and ‘70s rock as a child, but it was hearing the KISS Alive! album for the first time that made me want to play music and follow that path. By age 6 I had a band together, we were writing songs and playing shows.
MI: What is it like to work with the US Embassy to encourage musicians from all cultures? How did you first become involved in that?
B: I was doing workshops and charity work a lot on my own, working with musicians from all around the world. Two years ago I was approached by an organization that thought I’d be the right guy to do these things with US Embassies around the world. I met with delegates from around the world, we chatted, told stories about my travels, and we hit the road. I’m writing this on a plane heading home from Southeast Asia after weeks of concerts, workshops, playing at children’s hospitals in Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia with super-talented local musicians and singers. I’m coming home with wonderful memories! (smiles)


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Wayne Nelson

Little River Band

An interview with Singer/Bassist Wayne Nelson
by Tina Ayres
April 2015

Wayne Nelson is best known from his work as the lead singer/bassist for Little River Band. Founded in Australia in 1975, the band has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, and are the first band to achieve the record of having Top 10 hits for 6 consecutive years.

Maximum Ink: When did you first discover your love of music?
Wayne Nelson: My earliest memories are infused with music. My parents constantly had music in playing in our home…Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, et al from my mom, and marching music from my dad who was a drum major in college. And both loved Broadway music and plays. They also both sang in the church choir, and were active in local theater groups. So I went with them to rehearsals and services. Rhythm, harmony, and composition were in the air on a regular basis.
MI: Who were some of you earliest influences?
WN: Once I was able to choose new music that I wanted to hear, I loved the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Turtles, and Dion…lots of vocal harmonies and great songs. Next came Motown, The Beatles, The Stones, and Cream. Then horn bands like Chicago, BS&T, EWF, and Chase. From there I started listening to jazz and more esoteric music like Yes, Weather Report, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Spyro Gyra, and Michael Walden.
MI: What was it like to have had the chance to hone your musical skills in Chicago? Do you feel privileged to have had the chance to play in an area so rich in rhythm and blues?
WN: Chicago was a great town for seeing bands and soaking up live music. Although there was a lot of blues on Lincoln Ave at the time, it hadn’t become as commercialized and popular as it is now. I spent more time seeing CTA and Styx and Cheap Trick at clubs and college venues. What was very hard for any young band in Chicago was to play R&B, which is what all of my friends and fellow musicians were into…Stevie, Motown, EWF, etc. And it was never an easy town to work in…6 sets a night, loading in and out with wind chills of -10, ice on the pavement and at the doorways. Chicago was boot camp for me.


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Alex Anders

Alex Anders

An interview with Alex Anders
by Tina Ayres
April 2015

Alex Anders came onto the music scene as a singer/guitarist in his teens. He has since went on to add harmonica, organ, and drums to his repertoire. While he prefers to perform county music he has also worked in rock, alternative, and acoustic genres. His debut release This Memory can be found at digital outlets everywhere from Potomac Records. The new single Those Were the Days can be found on iTunes and all digital media outlets Tuesday March 17, 2015

Maximum Ink: Since there isn’t much known about you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Alex Anders: I am 22 years old, born and raised in Northern Virginia, and currently residing in Fairfax, VA. Since I can remember, music has always been my passion and what I’ve always gravitated toward – to escape from routine as well as to let my creative juices flow. Music has always provided a sense of belonging, and singing and writing is part of who I am – to put it in simpler terms, music simply defines me. I have been pursuing a musical career since my teenage years, with a clearer definition, goal, and a stronger determination now that I’m in my twenties. I love music, I just want to perform, write, and always make music.

Maximum Ink: What did you love most about growing up in Northern Virginia? What are some of your most fond memories from that time in your life?
Alex Anders: The thing I definitely loved most about living in this area was the amount of family I had growing up here. My aunts, uncles, and cousins always seemed to be just down the street from one another. It was nice never having to travel more than 10 minutes to get to one another’s home. It always made for awesome holiday get togethers, birthday celebrations, cookouts, and many other family events. It was really nice knowing the people that meant the most, were always so close to me. This enhanced the fact that Northern Virginia has a very diverse culture, vast history, wonderful attractions, and activities that appeal to a worldwide audience. In addition there is its growing music scene which has contributed greatly to shaping me into the artist that I am today. Northern Virginia is also the home of Potomac Records, who are doing an amazing job in cultivating and supporting the local music scene, including myself. Putting all this together, Northern Virginia has been and will always be the best place in the world for me.

Maximum Ink: Can you recall what you very first favorite song was?
Alex Anders: I have always loved music and how it made me feel, but it wasn’t until I heard Bruce Springsteen’s Rosalita, The Dance by Garth Brooks, and Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind, who are admittedly one of my favorite bands, that I got more and more interested in the wonderful world of music.

Maximum Ink: When did you first become interested in guitar?
Alex Anders: I first remember wanting to seriously pursue guitar after seeing my older cousin play her guitar. I was always going over to her place and seeing her strum along and sing to popular songs on the radio. I had always been infatuated with guitar and drums and wanting to learn how to play an instrument of my own from a pretty young age. But it was probably around 10 or 11 when I really decided that I would pick it up and start teaching myself. I haven’t put it down since.


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The Joykiller

The Joykiller

An interview with Ronnie King and Jack Grisham
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

The Joykiller is a punk rock supergroup founded by Jack Grisham(vocals), Ron Emory(quitar)Billy Persons(bass), Chris Lagerborg(drums),and Ronnie King(keyboard) in 1995. Their latest offering is Music for Break-Ups.

Maximum Ink: Do you happen to remember the moment when you first discovered the power of music?
Ronnie King: Well For me at 11 yrs I was recording a record in a real Studio. I was singing my part. Guess what I cried (laughs)
Jack Grisham: It was probably when I was a kid. There was trouble at home—alcoholism, strife, and detachment. I felt alone, uneasy, unloved, and then I heard Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and it gave me a warmth, a love, and a connection that I’d never felt. The song let me know that it would be okay. I remember copying the lyrics and pretending that I wrote them about she who would one day be in my life.

MI: What was it like to start playing music at the age of 5? Do you think coming from a musical family offered you more encouragement to pursue your interests in the field?
RK: They weren’t in the Music Business at all. They all play with an unconditioned freedom.I sold out a long time ago…I’m having a wonderful time in this time of my life. I’m enjoying music ( It’s all about the music.)

MI: What were you like as a child? Did you develop your love of music early on as well?
JG: I was trouble, too smart for my own good and too sensitive to be comforted. I loved music but I wasn’t gifted as a singer and I had no discipline or desire to learn an instrument.

MI: Who are some of your earliest influences?
RK: I loved listing to Barry Manalow, and McCoy Jazz Great Piano Dude Chick Corea, and the music at the Catholic Church.
JG: Frank Zappa and the Mothers, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.


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guitarist Mike Adkins (Uncle Kracker) - photo by Chris Levitan

Mike Adkins

An interview with guitarist Mike Adkins (Uncle Kracker)
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

Best known as the guitarist for Uncle Kracker, Mike Adkins has shared the stage with such iconic musicians as B.B King, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton. He has also played numerous shows with Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Train, and others.

Maximum Ink: What did you love most about growing up in Detroit?
Mike Adkins: I guess one of the best things about growing up in Michigan, is that you get to experience all the seasons, in a proper fashion. Fall has to be my favorite, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Northern MI in Fall. On the other hand, there is over a foot of snow on the ground here right now, as I look out my window. Which, I’ll be honest, the older I get definitely makes me question why I haven’t left yet (laughs). But, I just love it here, not just because of the change of seasons, but because Detroit has soul…it has personality, and it has heart! The Detroit music scene molded me into the person/player that I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll leave it at that.

MI: What was it like to train in classical piano at the age of 8?
MA: It was interesting…I definitely wasn’t that great at first. And, I despised reading the music, which I still do today(smiles). Actually, most of the piano recitals that I remember doing, you would be sat at the piano with the sheet music displayed in front of you, and you were supposed to read the music as you played. Looking back at it now, I’m nearly positive that I just memorized all the songs and looked at the sheet music to appease my teacher. But, in the end piano helped me learn music theory, and eventually led me to guitar. So, I’m definitely thankful my Mom pushed me in that direction.

MI: What music did you first love? Do you happen to remember what your favorite first song was?
MA: Gosh, that’s a really tough one. I guess one of the first songs I can really remember loving was I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye. The reason for that is, I was super into the California Raisins at the time, and that was their theme song. I remember I had the cassette and I would walk around my house singing and blaring it outta my mini boombox! Funny enough, I just started performing that song in my acoustic duo…so things have really just came full-circle so to speak(laughs).


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Erick Thomas

An interview with guitarist Erick Thomas
by Tina Ayres
February 2015

Erick Thomas is the founder of and lead guitarist for Harlen Simple. The four piece band out of Virginia also features Travis Williams (vocals), Kenny Morrow (bass), and Ricky Coleman (drums). Their album Pay Up Charlie from Potomac Records mixes rock, funk, blues, and soul in delightfully eclectic fashion.

Maximum Ink: Since there isn’t a lot known of you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Erick Thomas: I’m a pretty laid back guy, or at least I think so. I’m a big music junkie so my nights off from playing are spent checking out friends of mine who play and sitting in if they’ll have me. When I’m not doing that, I’m in my backyard with friends smoking racks of ribs, arguing about sports and talking about music while my dogs run around.

I’m also pretty sure I’ve got the world’s most patient wife, Aimee, who puts up with all of the craziness that comes with being married to a guy in a band. It’s late nights, crazy schedules and the general drama that comes with the music business. It’s not the go to Ikea and the farmers market on Saturday’s kind of lifestyle. It’s the “let’s go get tattoos and go run with bulls or something” kind of life.

I’ve also got an amazingly smart and beautiful daughter who has the music bug already. Her name is Jasmine and she’s playing drums now. I told her to pick an instrument where she doesn’t have to lug so much gear around but her heart was set, kind of like mine. Aimee is also pregnant with our son. The little butterball will be out in the world in a few months.

MI: What did you enjoy most about growing up in Virginia?
ET: I’m actually a Maryland boy. I was born in Takoma Park and lived in Langley Park and Silver Spring before moving to Virginia when I was a teenager. At first I wasn’t a big fan, Manassas was one of those towns where you took the bus to school and your mom drove you to the mall. It was WAY different from hopping on the bus or taking the metro somewhere with your friends. Those teenage years are tough for anybody. Throw in moving away from everything you know and you get a kid that can be a little “rambunctious.” My mom was a saint! Eventually, I made a couple friends. One of the first ones was Travis (Williams). Now Virginia is home though. I can’t see myself leaving. I’ve got my little family and home life Aimee and I are building here. It’s somewhere you absolutely have to get back to no matter where you are in the world. That’s home to me.


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Charles Mack

Charles Mack

An interview with bassist Charles Mack
by Tina Ayres
January 2015

Charles Mack is the former bassist for Grammy Award winner James Cotton and Lucky Peterson. His work has spanned a wide array for genres. He has shared the stage with such acts as Inflatable Soule, Cypress Hill, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Johnson, and Kenny Neal, just to name a few. The can currently be found performing with Charles Mack Band featuring Eric Robert (Keyboard), Joel Tipke (Guitar), and Jarvis Oliver (drums)

Guitar Digest: At what age did you first discover your love of music? Can you remember what the exact moment was like when you first realized how powerful music can be?
Charles Mack: As a child, I would listen to my family play blues, I had no idea what they were doing, I just knew the notes, along with their singing relaxed me. I was around 5 years old when I first noticed it, even though I heard it when I was younger, I just didn’t know what it was until age 5. Music has a way of making changes in the spirit. I used to cry a lot, but my mother would play jazz and I would immediately stop crying and fall asleep. The feeling I had when I was 5, from what I remember, music was like a warm blanket on a cold night, wrapped tightly, embracing every element of your being. I had a feeling of pure happiness, enjoyment, and fulfillment.

GD: What are some of your very first memories pertaining to music?
CM: The very first memories pertaining to music were of being around family, a room filled with guitarists and singers. When I was younger, my father, aunt and uncle would get together and play music, playing blues. I was amazed at how happy it made them feel. I had never seen my dad smile so much. My aunt played slide guitar, my dad and uncle were straight blues, finger pickin’ (rhythm and solo). The happiness that would come out of my family from playing music was incredible! The feeling that they were getting, I wanted to feel. This is by far, the best experience I have had as a child regarding an incredible feeling/experience pertaining to music.

GD: Who were some of your earliest influences? Do you happen to remember what your very first favorite song was?
CM: My earliest influences were, Bach, Miles Davis, Coltrane, BB King, Muddy Waters, The Supremes, The Dells, Earth Wind and Fire, Ron Carter, Charlie Parker, R Vaughn Williams, Copeland and Big Momma Thorton. I was a weird kid and I listened to everything. My first song I ever heard was a Luis Jordan song, my mother would play his music quite often around the house. Run Joe, 5 Guys named Moe ; the list goes on and on.


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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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