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Theory of a Deaman

Theory of a Deadman

An interview with lead singer Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Deadman
by Aaron Manogue
August 2011

Humor is a part of most happy people’s lives every single day. It’s one of those things that no matter who you are, where you’re from or how old you are, you can brighten someone’s day by making them laugh. There are all kinds of comedians that make a decent buck off of it, but very few musicians can do it and still be taken seriously. Theory of a Deadman is one of those bands that can make you laugh and cry in the same verse. They write music that anyone can relate to, whether it be about a break up or about life in general, when you listen to their music you feel as if you’re a part of their story, because you are. Vocalist Tyler Connolly spoke with Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue about why humor is such a big part of their music, their latest album The Truth Is, and their upcoming appearance headlining The Carnival of Madness 2011 Tour.

Maximum Ink: Your single “Lowlife” has kind of catapulted your new record The Truth Is. Tell me what that song means to you or what you meant it to mean to the fans.
Tyler Connolly: Basically, it’s just one of those “Don’t judge what you don’t know” kinds of things, you know? We’ve done so many festivals and just looking out at the audience and seeing chick fights and kick ass hillbillies. And you know it’s more of a song saying it’s ok to be a hillbilly because a lot of them are our fans. That’s pretty much what it means.


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Blamm-o! Live

BLAMM-O!

An interview with Joel Hooks, Lead Singer of BLAMM-O!
by Mike Huberty
August 2011

Madison hard rock act, BLAMM-O! is celebrating their tenth anniversary this year with their release of their first full-length CD, THE ROAD. Featuring cover art of the lead singer, Joel Hooks’, real wrecked car, THE ROAD represents the band starting to re-emerge after a period of semi-hibernation. “The past three years BlLAMM-O! has been laying kind of low”, Hooks says. “We had not released any new music since our self-titled EP in 2006, so we decided to get off our asses and put out something which represents where we’re at right now musically.”

With a straightforward high-energy hard rock sound, their influences range from Van Halen to Meat Puppets to Joy Division. And you can hear an epic sweep in the vocals, raunchy distorted guitars, and the crashing rhythms. But just because they have a little U2-meets-Three Doors Down vibe going on doesn’t mean they can’t be a little more irreverent than Bono. As Hooks explains the origin of their name, “The name BLAMM-O! actually comes from REN AND STIMPY specifically from one of their mock commercials (remember ‘Log by Blamm-o!’). We tried dozens of names, even playing our first show and radio debut under a different one. BLAMM-O! seems to describe us best, a massive release of sound and energy!”

THE ROAD is the band’s first full-length and for people who aren’t familiar with their sound, Hooks has a suggestion. “Normally, I might answer with one of our full-on, in-your-face rockers,” he says, “but I think ‘Facing Fate’ would be a good first BLAMM-O! experience. I think the song has great dynamics. It demonstrates some of the range and diversity we have as a band and our unique style of rock and pop.” But his favorite song on the record is the title track. “I love ‘Free-Fall Cover-Up’ because of the kick-ass guitar riffs and solo. The guitars have almost a ‘middle eastern’ sound to them which is ironic once you understand the content of the song. However, because of the recent loss of someone dear to me, I’ve been leaning towards the title track ‘The Road’ lately. It speaks of the struggle, hardships, and tragedy of the path we all must travel, yet the strength we must maintain to get to our individual destinations. “

And Hooks hopes that BLAMM-O!’s re-emergence in the Madison music scene will last for awhile. He says confidently, “We just keep chugging along like the ‘little engine that thinks it can’, striving to write interesting music.  No one freaks out and has a hissy-fit if someone says, ‘Hey that lick or melody sucks, try something else.’ We all understand it’s the constructive criticism which forces us to write better songs. Plus we all like to spend time together outside of BLAMM-O! when we can. We’ve been in each others’ weddings, seen families grow, and have had good times the past five years… With the new album we’d like to get out and play more shows in Madison and beyond, perhaps doing some more work with charities. We’ll focus on writing new material and recording some singles. We already have one new song completed with several more in the works… I feel our personal relationships help stimulate creativity and our best songs are yet to come.”

BLAMM-O! is going to be celebrating their CD Release Party at The High Noon Saloon on Friday August 12th and it’s the next event on The Rökker Vodka Tour. As Hooks explains, “There will obviously be some awesome vodka to throw back!  The release party should be an interesting multi-media event. We’re having Madison artist, Everett Kitts, paint while we play. He’s going to tie the painting in with a T-shirt design he did for us. After the show, we’ll auction off the painting and give a portion of our sales from the evening as a donation to Porchlight, Inc. a local charity helping the homeless… Expect a tight, energetic, and entertaining show. One hell of an audio-visual, tasty Happy Hour to start the weekend. What else would you want to do?” And then he adds with his tongue firmly in his cheek, “If you’ve never experienced a BLAMM-O! show, come check us out.  You’ll be glad you did.  We’re way better than reality TV!”


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Diamond Head

First American Tour.... ever!
by Mike Huberty
August 2011

As the Seventies snorted on, the hard rock genre started bloating into the drug-fueled excesses of classic rock. Punk rock came in with its simple chords and snotty attitude to threaten metal into an early oblivion. Rockers that were into guitar solos and liked listening to men that scream like women needed a louder and faster reponse in order to save metal. Riding in like knights in leather armor, The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was that response. Bands like Iron Maiden, Mötorhead, and Judas Priest were at the forefront of the genre, eventually even gaining acceptance from the mainstream which had previously shunned the biker and fetish gear(for God’s sakes, you can buy Maiden t-shirts at Kohl’s!)

One of the most influential and important bands of the NWOBHM (as it is usually abbreviated as) was Diamond Head. Even casual metal fans have heard Metallica’s version of “Am I Evil?” (and if you haven’t, get thee to iTunes now!) and that’s probably their most famous song.


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Jon Anderson  - photo by jonanderson.com

Jon Anderson

Ever The Starship Trooper
by Gregory Harutunian
July 2011

During a phone conversation, Jon Anderson sounds just the way one would expect: exuberant, gracious, eschewing the mundane…in short, he is consistent with the description given by former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, “The only man we know of, who is trying to save this planet while living on an entirely different one.”

This makes asking even simple questions an adventure.

“What kind of tree would I be, and why? I would be a weeping willow because the branches look so beautiful as they caress the water of the river going by. And my favorite color? Turquoise. The blue is peaceful, serene…and fuschia because of the pink. That’s a nice color.”

Anderson is also an avid painter of flowers, when relaxing, as his color choices betray. “I just finished one yesterday, and I’ve kept it up all along.”

The last two years have been uncharted territory for him, following a life-threatening pulmonary illness which necessitated a hiatus from lead singing duties with the band he co-founded, Yes. The other members filled his position with Benoit David, from a Yes tribute band, and went out on tour, leaving Anderson to recoup and question their actions and loyalties.


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Black Stone Cherry by Travis Shinn - photo by Travis Shinn

Black Stone Cherry

An interview with lead guitarist Ben Wells of Black Stone Cherry
by Aaron Manogue
July 2011

When anyone says the words “southern rock,” most people think of the days back in the ‘70’s when The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd reigned as the kings of rock n’ roll with their legendary guitar riffs and serene vocals. In their day, they were pioneers in the type of sound that they brought to the music scene in combining rock, country and blues into a new breed of music. Although southern rock definitely has it’s place in the rock n’ roll scene today, the band Black Stone Cherry has to be the most intriguing of the bunch. The band’s new record “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is nothing short of kick ass. The boys from Kentucky have made their own musical concoction, just as their southern rock predecessors did. There’s definitely still that distinctive southern rock ring to the entire album, but they’ve sprinkled feels of nu metal and mainstream hook throughout. The result is one of the funnest albums to listen to this year. Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue spoke with lead guitarist Ben Wells about their incredibly unique sound, the eclectic sound on their new record, and their upcoming performance August 13 in Twin Lakes, WI for the WIIL Rock the Ranch show.

Maximum Ink: What do you think it is that really gives your band the incredibly unique sound that you have built your reputation off of?
Ben Wells: I think the fact that we are from a small town in Kentucky and the fact that we didn’t have a music scene to fit into growing up has a lot to do with the way we sound. We grew up fans of blues, country, classic rock, folk, etc. and wanted to have pieces of that in our music!


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Egypt Central

An interview with vocalist John Falls of Egypt Central
by Aaron Manogue
June 2011

This summer is filled with new music and great new sounds.  One of the most evident marks on summer 2011 has been the release of Egypt Central’s sophomore album White Rabbit.  The album hellishly paints a picture of a series of events and consequences that occur when one accepts or declines the heralded “White Rabbit.” The album is laced with hard riffs, catchy lyrics and more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box. Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue sat down with vocalist John Falls to discuss Summerfest, WJJO Band Camp and their latest album.

Maximum Ink: What’s it like to play Summerfest and Band Camp and these huge shows alongside other great bands that are out there today?
John Falls: We’ve been fortunate to play Summerfest before and this will be our first Band Camp. We’ve played for JJO quite a few times so to finally get an invite to Band Camp is awesome. But it’s weird on the festival circuit you get to know everyone pretty quickly because usually it’s the same bands that are out at that time. That’s another cool aspect of it is that there’s ten to twenty bands that happen to be putting out records that year.


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Burn Halo

Burn Halo

An Interview with vocalist James Hart of Burn Halo
by Aaron Manogue
June 2011

Perseverance seems to be a word that many of today’s bands have become quite familiar with over the years.  This is no different for Burn Halo’s vocalist James Hart. After nearly a decade of touring and recording with his previous band 18 Visions, Hart has found himself a new home through another avenue or musicianship. Burn Halo has come onto the scene with a vengeance and has reached even higher heights then Hart’s previous work. They’ve recently been added to the lineup at the illustrious 2011 94.1 WJJO Band Camp and the honor has Hart excited and ready to prove to you all, that Burn Halo belongs on that stage. Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue talked with James Hart about what it’s going to be like playing Band Camp, outdoor music festivals and even why someone stole his bike when he was younger!

Maximum Ink: You guys are slated to play 94.1 WJJO Band Camp at the end of July. What’s it like to have the opportunity to play such a huge festival with so many other killer bands?
James Hart: These types of shows are always a great time. It really gives us a chance to showcase our music and talents as well as validate why WJJO wanted to put us on the show. With so many great bands in one day, you really want to bring your A game. You want to be able to stand out. You want people walking away from the festival talking about your band with CD in hand.


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Sick Puppies

Sick Puppies

An interview with bassist of Sick Puppies Emma Anzai
by Aaron Manogue
June 2011

Perhaps the biggest compliment that you can pay to a festival such as Summerfest isn’t mentioning that it’s the largest music festival in the entire world. Yes, this is a huge feat considering the size of the festivals in Europe, but it’s still not the biggest compliment. The biggest compliment must be that every musician we seem to talk to views playing Summerfest as one of the highest honors that a band can receive. This idea is no different for Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies. Maximum Ink spoke with Emma about what an honor it is to play Summerfest, her past experiences there, and what’s next for the Australian rock ‘n’ rollers.

Maximum Ink: You guys are slated to play Summerfest on July 6. What’s it like to be able to play the at world’s largest music festival and play on the same stage as some of music’s most talented musicians?
Emma Anzai: It’s pretty surreal and I don’t think it’ll ever stop being that way for us. We can’t wait to check out the artists on this year’s lineup.


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Blind Boys of Alabama

Blind Boys of Alabama

An interview with singer Jimmy Carter
by Tina Hall
May 2011

It’s not every day that you find music which has earned as many awards as The Blind Boys of Alabama. They are, without a doubt, one of the most highly respected acts in Gospel music with five Grammy awards, and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They have also found respect in relation to The National Endowment for the Arts with their Lifetime Achievement Awards. They were formed in 1939 and have a history that is as rich as their sound. Currently members include Ben Moore (vocals), Bishop Billy Bowers (vocals), Jimmy Carter (vocals), Eric “Ricky” McKinnie (drums/percussion/vocals), Joey Williams (lead guitar/vocals), Tracy Pierce (bass), Peter Levin (organ), and Clarence Fountain. Their latest album, Take The High Road, features music that could have easily been as appealing to past generations as it is today. The album showcases the band at its best, debuting on the Americana Radio Chart at #27. With Jamey Johnson co-producing and offering guest vocals, along with the likes of Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Lee Ann Womack, the album offers music with soul. Maximum Ink caught up with Jimmy Carter and spoke with him about gospel music and their new album.

Maximum Ink: Do you consider yourself privileged to be working in an act that is so steeped in tradition?
Jimmy Carter: Indeed. I consider myself very lucky to be part of The Blind Boys.


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Athena Lee

Athena

Interview with Drummer Athena Lee
by Tina Hall
May 2011

Athena is, without a doubt, one of the best, and perhaps well renowned female drummers. While she’s known as Tommy Lee’s little sister, she is also a great drummer in her own right, being the first female drummer in history to be nominated for the L.A Music Awards. She recently signed on to Rockett Drums Works (owned by Rikki Rockett of Poison) and Regal Tip Drumsticks. Not one to be limited to music, she is also working on the upcoming television show, Ex-Wives Rock and penning her first book. Maximum Ink sat down with her recently to find out what her fans can look forward to next.

Maximum Ink: You have said that when growing up with Tommy, there was never a dull moment. Do you think his outlook on things left a lasting impression on you? What would you say is your fondest memory from your childhood?
Athena: Of course. We were just really weird, funny kids. I have a lot of fond memories. I can remember being in my crib and getting a Lucy (Peanuts) doll for my birthday. I loved that thing and a blue stuffed dog I had forever. He was so ugly and destroyed, but I loved him. I also loved the smell of Halloween, all of it pumpkins, masks, wax lips, candy, and I still do.


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