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Tomorrow's Bad Seeds

Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds

by Troy Johnson
January 2012

Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, is the five member reggae band from Hermosa Beach, California that has been growing exponentially in the last few years. Since they started playing together in 2004, The Seeds have been producing crisp and complex arrangements that have flashes of rock, pop, hip hop, with a predominantly reggae sound that is always apparent. Their lyrics are socially conscious and uplifting. Similar to bands like Sublime, The Wailers, 311, and Slightly Stoopid, they have a positive sound with rythyms that will keep you dancing throughout your day.

It took TBS almost four years of dedication, playing for small audiences, before their popularity caught on. In 2010 they started to play main stages on the Vans Warped Tour, won a JPE music award, and in the beginning of 2011 performed on “The Late Show With Craig Ferguson.” Their commercial success has helped them evolve their sound that is always a work in progress. Lead singer Moises Juarez said about their success,“Being a band that is lucky enough to have done Vans Warped Tour a few times (and again this summer), our minds have been opened to so much music that we never would have heard. There is such an eclectic mix of bands for us to see all day everyday.”


Little Red Wolf

Little Red Wolf

by Troy Johnson
May 2011

Success is happening fast for Little Red Wolf. The four Madison women who make up the group and have been writing multidimensional folk based pop songs together since 2008. Each member of LRW is well-versed in various instruments and the singers harmonize like a group that has been together for years. With influences ranging from seminal riot grrrls Sleater Kinney to current groups with diverse but traditional sounds like The New Pornographers and Grizzly Bear, listening to LRW develop their sound is going to be a thrilling ride. When asked what groups they would most like to share a stage with drummer Emily Mills mentioned the Ditty Bops and Fleet Foxes. “Both of these groups have taken traditional American music and found a way to put their own, unique and—frankly—awesome, spin on it. I think we’d mesh pretty well with them.” Kelly Maxwell added, “Little Red Wolf with Fleet Foxes would be amazing. I would just die of happiness.”

The four seem to agree that traditional folk music is just a starting point in their quote"collaborative” song writing process. Maxwell said, “Most of the time it starts with something simple and we all add to it: One of us has a riff, we’ll work on it in rehearsal several times with different instruments until it sounds right, then someone will bring lyrics and that person gets to sing it.”


3742 ViewsPermalinkLittle Red Wolf Website

Cowboy Mouth

by Troy Johnson
February 2011

In the midst of their 16th annual Mardi Gras tour, Cowboy Mouth is fixing to bring their New Orleans style of good times rock and roll music to the Midwest. The group has earned a reputation for a wildly entertaining live performance with crisp and clear, often goofy, lyrics and songs that encourage crowd participation. Their style of literate but accessible pop-rock is similar in spirit to former tour-mates, the Barenaked Ladies. The band also shared stages with musically similar groups like Sister Hazel and Hootie and The Blowfish.

I had a brief conversation with Fred LeBlanc, frontman and drummer, before a show while they were unloading their equipment for a gig that evening in Shreveport, LA. Cowboy Mouth plays so many shows, I was curious about what makes an individual show special. LeBlanc mentions that “A live show, for me, is about creating a moment for the audience and ourselves. I have this thing I started saying when we first put Cowboy Mouth together, it goes, ‘10 or 10,000.’ It doesn’t matter how many people are or are not in the audience. Every night that we play we give our very best.”


Steez - photo by THARAPHOTO


An Invitation To The Fifth Annual Mustache Bash
by Troy Johnson
December 2010

After gracing the pages of Maximum Ink over a year ago the creepfunk crusaders from Madison, Steez have continued to develop their unique cryptc, electronic, dance sound and are preparing for their fifth annual mustache bash. Some of their jams in 2010 push the envelope on communicating with life on other planets. It’s funky and dark. I caught up with guitar player and vocalist Steve Neary for some info about his process of finding music, a legends of mustache past story, and Steez’s hope for a dance party success on December 10th.

Maximum Ink: Describe how creepfunk changes when the band and audience have mustaches?
Steve Neary: It only gets creepier. One could say it channels our inner Michael Jackson, so to speak.

MI: The American Mustache Institute lists about 15 styles to wear a mustache. Is this all I really have to choose from?
SN: They pretty much cover the entire gamut of styles, but there is one ‘stache that i think really takes the cake as far as we’ve seen. It was the first year we did the ‘stache bash, and it was held at the King Club. Our good friend, David Graves, was known to rock a pretty burly beard from time to time and he showed up pretty unassumingly sporting some nice thick chops that connected to his sideburns, adorned with a bright red hat. When it came time to do the crowd voting for the best ‘stache, he jumped right up on stage. He was looking pretty good up there but there was some solid competition, including a Chaplin and some other pretty burly chops. As we went through the contestants, it came to be Dave’s turn. As soon as our MC called out his name, he ripped off his hat and revealed the most epic facial sculpting I have ever seen. He had shaved his entire head, except for two small strips that curled behind his ear that were connected to his sideburns/chops. The best part about the entire thing was that he didnt tell a soul the entire night, so when he ripped off his hat the crowd went berserk. To this day, I have never seen another person attempt the “ram’s horns,” and I dont know if I will.


3276 ViewsPermalinkSteez WebsiteSteez Wiki

Sleeping in the Aviary

by Troy Johnson
November 2010

For Sleeping In The Aviary, lo-fi recordings, concerted effort band photographs, and dynamic live performances are all the building blocks to an indie-rock masterpiece. Guitar player and lead vocalist, Elliott Kozel, and bass player, Phil Mahlsedt, have been building a sound together since high school and officially became Sleeping In The Aviary over 6 years ago. After losing a couple drummers, their third and permanent drummer became Michael Sienkowski, and after the release of their first album “Oh, That Old Thing”, Celeste Heule joined the band in 2008, bringing with her a stage presence that fits along with her talents on accordion and musical saw.

In their live performances, Kozel is often in bare feet, stepping back and forth from the microphone with agile movements while their bass player Phil does a stupor to the rhythm. In all facets, Kozel is aesthetically conscious; he does macabre cover art that has a Tim Burton semblance, which has become a trademark for fans of the band.


Madison's The Viscous Circle

The Viscous Circle

an interview with vocalist Shawn Anthony Brown
by Troy Johnson
October 2010

Madison based band The Viscous Circle is releasing their debut album Escape Wormwood on their own label, TVC Productions October 30, 2010. The band formed in 2006 as a hobby between frontman Shawn Brown and lead guitarist Danny Davis. After composing for nearly a year Danny urged Shawn to bring rhythm guitarist and back up vocalist Jimmie Hill into the fold and then added vets Denny Carney on bass and Chris Sandoval on drums. 

Escape Wormwood is a dark and foreboding album throughout, and the end of October is a good time of year to let it rock your walls. Frontman Shawn Brown talked to me about his appreciation for bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd that have repeatedly put out albums that are conceptual all the way through.  Brown spoke on the new album, “As we went along with the recording of Escape Wormwood it slowly became a complete project rather than an album with random songs. It’s a dark introspective album with hope and beauty but definitely a lot of darkness.”

Brown played with popular Madison rock band Last Crack for a couple years in the mid 1990’s and was the vocalist on their 1994 album runheadstartscreaming. After the album and a short European tour Brown parted ways with Last Crack and formed the band Spiritus with Last Crack drummer Chris Havey. He is now exclusively with The Viscous Circle but remains in contact and friends with members of Last Crack who have a reunion show at Scatz in Middleton on Saturday, November 13th.


2715 ViewsPermalinkViscous Circle MySpace
Bradley Fish is back in the states! - photo by Rökker

Bradley Fish

conversation with a musical nomad
by Troy Johnson
September 2010

Bradley Fish has become the ultimate nomad. It makes sense though, he’s been perfecting it most of his adult life along with his passion, music.

A musical chameleon with a music degree to match, Bradley left his native Illinois for the much more liberal Madison, Wisconsin in the mid 1990’s and literally lived in a tent in a friend’s back yard while giving guitar lessons to local students. He also played many a night on State Street and could always be spotted with a guitar, head full of dreadlocks and a tie-dye t-shirt.

Eventually, the success of lessons, shows and street playing allowed him to set up his own place and live life from music. His solo shows were “one man band” style, and he wore bells, shakers and other noise makers on his legs and feet and play guitar, dulcimer, Chinese zither and whatever other instrument he could find. Bradley is also part comedian and his laugh is infectious. Some of his videos on YouTube feature this “humor” with his controversial song “Jewish Girl Blues.” Totally tongue in cheek, the song pokes fun at the plight of Jewish men who are pressured by old tradition to find and marry a Jewish girl, only in this video, he marries a few to cover the bases.

Besides playing as a one man band/comedian, Bradley has been in a ton of bands. In the mid-nineties, Bradley enlisted the help of a plethora of local Madison all-stars to play in his band, The Aquarium Conspiracy, and record on his first album. After some success it was hard to keep the “band” booked as scheduling of “all-stars” isn’t so easy.

The late nineties put the hippy in Bradley out to dry when he hooked up with Rökker, Philly, Mike McGinnis and Jeff Muendel to re-package the old Aquarium Conspiracy music plus new songs to a heavier format… a ROCK BAND called Bradley Fish’s Electrifried Band. Zany publicity stunts propelled his popularity, but something still seemed missing.

Following his mother’s advice to visit Israel, Bradley sold off most of his belongings, shipped the guitar and Marshall amp to his new home in Tel Aviv where he would work for the high-level audio software company Waves as well as get signed to Sony Records to sell CD’s full of loops. But Tel Aviv didn’t suit him so off to Jerusalem he went where he started a recording studio in his apartment just off the market. But the nomad in him would strike again.

Before he sold off all his belongings and shipped the rest back to the states, Bradley recorded his new album “Time To Rise”. Set to be released on October 12th at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, “Time To Rise” will take Bradley across the country as he promotes and tours in total DIY fashion. You see, Bradley purchased a big, purple van which you can’t miss. Instead of the tent, or an apartment or home, he has trimmed his possessions to the minimum and uses a fusion of old and new technologies to make the “Purple People Eater”, his fond name for it, into a mobile home/office, decreasing his lodging expense.

Bradley also went back to his one-man-band show but this time it’s a complete mix of analog and digital as he uses the laptop to control the layers of his improvisational playing on the many different instruments in his possession. Guitar and dulcimer remain his favorites while he incorporates bass, drum loops and “other” sounds into his repertoire.

Here is my conversation with adventure looping musician Bradley Fish. He is back in the Midwest after his 6 year residence in Israel and touring this fall with a new album.

Maximum Ink: Bradley, Are you a one man show or would you rather mash with others?
Bradley Fish: I love playing in bands. I must have been in a few hundred of them, practically every style you can imagine and have learned from a ton of great musicians over the years. The thing is, bands have a 99.9% chance of breaking up and solo acts are the inverse of that. So in a business that’s already known for being very unstable, being a solo act lets me enjoy a certain degree of stability. Plus, as a solo act, I can decide to rehearse spontaneously at 4 in the morning, make radical changes in a musical direction, or play a freaky gig for naked desert-trance-hippies for gas money and organic yogurt - without consulting or convincing anyone and still keep the act together for years on end.


5202 ViewsPermalinkBradley Fish Website
Tantric cover design and illustration by Ian Chalgren


an interview with Hugo Ferreira
by Troy Johnson
September 2010

Tantric first hit the music scene with a self-titled debut in 2001 that topped the charts with swaggering, grungy singles like “Breakdown” and “Astounded” that fit right into the New Metal mode that has been a staple of rock radio giants like Nickelback, Staind, and Creed since the late 1990’s.“Tantric” went on to be certified platinum but the band’s follow up albums have seen the band cultivate a more selective audience. In the decade since their debut, the band has completely changed its lineup. Only front man Hugo Ferreira remains of the original members of the group. Tantric released its fourth studio album “Mind Control” in August 2009 and has been on tour regularly since then. On stage, Ferreira’s grave vocals are his most distinguishing characteristic, but off the stage Ferreira’s work in the rock industry has brought him a great deal of insight to the many sides of the music industry. From the creative aspect of writing music and producing videos to the business end of promoting a product that people want to experience. I caught Ferreira the night before a show in Santa Rosa, California on a brief break during their summer tour.

MAXIMUM INK: I just got done watching the “Mind Control” video. You get a chance to do some zombie acting and television smashing. What is it like to film a video like that?
HUGO FERREIRA: We filmed the ‘Mind Control’ at an old warehouse in Nashville. We made it look like a ward with props and a lot of creative ideas. I wanted to do something a little darker and edgier and I was given some reign for creative choices. We were pleased with the end result.


2753 ViewsPermalinkTantric MySpaceTantric Wiki
Twistable Turnable Man - tribute to Shel Silverstein

Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

by Troy Johnson
July 2010

He was an artist with no boundaries as to the audience he could reach. “Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute To The Songs Of Shel Silverstein is a folk album with an eclectic group of musicians singing songs featuring lyrics from Silverstein’s poems. In the 90’s, the poet became an icon in Madison, WI writing rhymes and prose, drawing fantastical illustrations, and composing folk lyrics that achieved great commercial success.  Sugar Hill Records released the album on June 8th, 2010 after three years in the making. The tracks on “Twistable Turnable Man” were recorded at multiple studios around the United States and produced by both Bobby Bare Sr. and Jr.


Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson

by Troy Johnson
July 2010

The Alex Wilson Band is a trio of musicians with deep raw vocals and a big-band blues sound and an increasing fan following in the Midwest. Wilson currently takes the stage with Marc Wilson on the drums, Eric Wills on the bass guitar, and Alex on lead guitar and vocals. Alex Wilson’s debut album “Tell Me Why” was released on his own label Rathskeller Records in October, 2008. I had a few chances to speak with Wilson in between his busy schedule of gigs and composing.

Maximum Ink: You started playing guitar when you were five years old and had a family full of musicians. Is guitar your only accomplished instrument?
Alex Wilson: I’ve fiddled with music my whole life. I’ve played shows on the drums before and I still have a fondness for percussion but I could never call myself a drummer. I play a little bass but my main focus is the guitar. I didn’t begin to consider music as a profession until I was about 17.

MI: You are a non-smoking blues musician with his own record label in Milwaukee. Do you have a significant other?
AW: I don’t. Chemistry and timing have not yet been on my side simultaneously.


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