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Sunspot at the Market Square theater in Madison - photo by Mike App

Sunspot

An interview with the WI natives, Ben Jaeger, Mike Huberty, and Wendy Lynn Staats
by Tina Hall
February 2011

Wisconsin based Sunspot is made up of Ben Jaeger (Guitar & Vocals), Mike Huberty (Lead Vocals & Bass), and Wendy Lynn Staats(Drums & Vocals). The trio from Madison offer up singalong rock with a local flair. Their newest album Singularity was voted Madison’s Rock Album of the Year by the Madison Area Music Association, with the tracks, No Place Like Home being named Rock Song of the Year, and Sweet Relief, Video of the Year. They have opened for acts such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Sponge, SevenMaryThree, Hot Hot Heat, and Sick Puppies. Earlier this year they licensed the song “Go, Pack!” to FOX Sports for use during the NFC Playoffs and Super Bowl, events seen by tens of millions of people around the world.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your background? How do you think coming from where you do has influenced your musical styling?
Ben Jaeger: We came from small towns surrounding a medium sized city -Milwaukee. We have spent a lot of time in big cities sharing our songs, but we very much enjoy returning to our roots. Madison has been our home for 15 years now and there are many things that we enjoy about it. It is small enough that people in the music community are accessible and supportive, but the city is large enough that there are plenty of people to interest in being fans. Our music is very real and honest and appeals to a variety of people from sci-fi geeks to jocks to musicians to avid readers.


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Lance Lopez

Lance Lopez

An interview with guitarist Lance Lopez
by Tina Hall
January 2011

Louisiana native Lance Lopez has been playing professionally since he first started playing bars in New Orleans at the age of 14. He lived in Dallas for a short time as a child, and when his family moved back there while he was 17 he was hired to tour for six months with soul legend Johnnie Taylor. At 18 he was working with modern blues great Lucky Peterson, where he later became band leader at the age of 21. His first solo album First Things First was released in 1998. Lance has opened for such artists as Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, B.B King, Joe Bonamassa, and ZZ Top. His newest offering Salvation From Sundown is available now.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Louisiana and Texas? What were you like as a kid?
Lance Lopez: My parents split up when I was 5 so that was kinda rough and it gave me the Blues almost immediately. But other than that I had a good
ole Southern Boy upbringing. I played out in swamps and the woods. When I wasn’t in my bedroom practicing on my guitar, I was fishing and trying to catch Crawfish in the Bayou and going with my older brother to hunt Alligators and all kinds of crazy stuff like that. My mom could never find me if I wasn’t in my room playing guitar, I was either out in the woods or the swamp. I got bit by snakes and chased raccoons and did all kinds of crazy stuff like that. When we moved from Louisiana to Texas we moved to Dallas, and it’s a major big city. It was a big culture shock for me. I didn’t have any woods to run around in and no swamps to catch Crawfish and snakes in anymore. So I spent a lot more time playing guitar in my room. By that time I was 12 and I was obsessed with playing my guitar anyway. I would sit in school and literally fiend for my guitar, I couldn’t wait to get back home to play it.  I would play it first thing in the morning and as soon as I got home. And when I moved from Dallas to New Orleans to live with my Dad all I did was play, every waking second of the day. My Dad started taking me out to Bars in New Orleans and that is when I first started playing real gigs and then it was on (laughs)


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Coldwater Canyon Band

Coldwater Canyon Band

An interview with singer/songwriter Howie Vaughn
by Tina Hall
January 2011

The sound of Indie group Coldwater Canyon Band is rather hard to describe. With a sound that is called Cali Country it is an interesting band to say the least. Frontman Howie Vaughn was raised in Tennessee bringing the sound of true country back to his birth state of California. The newest album is titled Just Getting Started. Their single Nobody Knows hit #2 On Billboard’s Hot Country Singles Chart and the Top 10 On the Hot Singles Chart. For fans that prefer more of a rock tunes their track Weatherman was inspired by the style of the band Cinderella.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Kingsport, Tennessee? Do you ever get back there much?
Howie Vaughn: It was very fun, mamaw and papaw taught me to be self-reliant and humble. Uncle Bill and Uncle Jack taught me how to have fun and fight like a man. Momma and daddy taught me to live off the land and be the man I am today. I go back at least every 2 years.

MI: Is it true you were sneaking into to clubs to sing country at the age of 8? What was that like? Any interesting stories to tell from back then?
HV:Yes it’s true, dad liked beer and honky tonk angels. It was an experience. Lol, I listened intently to most of the stories being told by those old men. So I learned and heard things that well, let’s put it this way, made me a little more streetwise or bar-ready than most folks. Here’s a good story, my dad took me to a little place to sing in Las Vegas, my Uncle Dave and Uncle Charlie were there. Uncle Dave bet my dad 100 bucks to run across the street buck naked, you know streak, and jump in Caesar Palace fountain, so daddy did. The cops came and so did some goombahs. I was about 10.  11 years later, my buddy Jason and I were in the same bar and I told him the story. He said, “you ain’t got a hair on your ass if you don’t do that too”, so I did. I’m one of the few people to be escorted to state line for being redneck and crazy.


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Krzysztof Barcik

Krzysztof Barcik

An interview with guitarist Krzysztof Barcik
by Tina Hall
January 2011

Krzysztof Barcik has long been recognized as one of the finest Polish guitarists/composers. While being well versed and educated in the rich tradition of European and American music, Mr.Barcik is a sensitive artist with a professional approach to the realities of today’s music. Krzysztof Barcik, graduated from the University of Miami-Florida and the Academy of Music Katowice-Poland with Special Honors and a Master Degree. He has released 12 original albums to date, 9 of them exclusively for Paris Music Library. He was also commissioned to record solo guitar soundtracks for a major Hollywood and European studios and to perform lead guitar for various European stars recordings resulting in credits on more than 60 albums, many with global distribution. He has several rock fusion hits there. Barcik has created music for TV in the commercial and film markets and has appeared with many of the top performers in jazz and pop music.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Poland? What is your favorite memory from that time?
Krzysztof Barcik: I spent my childhood in a small village near Cracow. It was the time during “deep communist era” in Poland. My father gave me my first guitar, drums and accordion
lessons. He is a musician and retired music teacher as well. I still keep in my memory beautiful sunny summer days and strong winter time from these days.

MI: Were you always interested in music? Who were your influences?
KB: As I remember, music was all the time around me. As a 7-8 year old boy I used to play drums with fathers band when they rehearsed. It was lots of fun for me. Later on I started to play guitar and accordion but guitar was always my favorite instrument. I remember the day, when father bought for me my first electric guitar. It was one of the most important days of my life. When I went to music school I used to listen lot of jazz music but not only that. Fusion, pop, jazz rock,rock and classical music was always around me as well. Influences? Oh, yes, lots of great musicians to name: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Weather Report, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and more. This is just “my roots”. I just feel and hear their influences in some of my music projects.


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The Chariot

The Chariot

Interview with vocalist Josh Scogin
by Chris Fox
January 2011

Raw, gritty, and sheer underground attitude. THE CHARIOT brings their unique brand of heavy music to Madison in January. Dubbed metalcore, these guys are quite distant from their genre brethren. Their placement in the heavy metal scene give reminiscence of bands like the Misfits, as singer Josh Scogin explains, “it’s all part of the expression derived more from punk rock.” His abrasive brand of vocals is sure to unite the punk and metal crowds and he is happy just to have audiences to play for. Scogin continues, “as an artist, you always want to push boarders, that’s why we hate classifications.” A seasoned listener can hear the southern roots that litter their riffs, but it is the sudden and impulsive feeling of their music that give THE CHARIOT so much character.  “There really- there’s no road we didn’t travel down, or at least try to.  We push ourselves to places we’ve never been before.”

There is a definitive difference between what Scogin refers to as metal and THE CHARIOT’s style of music.  “We aren’t metal, in my opinion.  We get thrown in with metal bands, but I don’t think we are metal.”  Following punk rock ideologies, this quartet takes on a self-proclaimed genre, soaked in the back-yard concert experience. “So many metal bands now are copy and paste,” Scogin continues, “There is too much composing; there are no mistakes.” THE CHARIOT, in fact, recorded an entire album using a single live take to maintain the raw feeling that their music produces. All the mistakes and tiny nuances that occur in a live performance shine in their first album. The experience of the album will never happen exactly that way again, and Scogin is happy to keep the performance changing from album to album, and night to night.


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Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer Band

an interview with Steve Palmer
by Tina Hall
January 2011

Singer/songwriter/ guitarist Steve Palmer worked for his Blackbird session with Bryan Ewald on lead guitar, Anthony Setola with bass(who is now replaced by Mario Sangermano), Tony Morra provides drums, Larry Hall offers up keyboards and Hammond B3 organ, and Vicki Hampton can be heard on background vocals. The band can be found touring with Blues Traveler and has opened for Sister Hazel and Bob Schneider. With Palmer also playing solo shows. He can be found where he now resides in Nashville, TN where his latest album Apparition was recorded.

Maximum Ink: Since there isn’t much out there on you yet, can you tell our readers a little about where you are from? How has your background influenced your musical stylings? How have you changed most since your early days?
Steve Palmer: The early days are real easy for me to describe. I started playing in Connecticut – I’d pick up a guitar and a pick, open my song book of the sixties and seventies (compiled by the New York Times) – and I played and sang. I sang a lot of different stuff from John Denver, Peter Frampton, Harry Chapin, Rolling Stones to James Taylor. And I listened to Jazz, Oscar Peterson, Joe Sample, Weather Report and John Coltrane. I think that’s where everything starts-the theory and feel of music and minor and major keys.  Jazz is a huge influence for me but so are the greats including Bruce Springsteen, Doobie Brothers, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens who I played till the book wore out. Classical also opened up my musical mind.

Then after a year of that, I started performing in sixth grade and whenever anyone wanted to hear a tune. I played at talent shows, did some musicals, played at a few bars and restaurants but nothing with a band. My first song went something like, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue and . . .”  Now you know that’s probably a fifties jazz number.  Later, I spent a year in England my senior year in High School and started recording. First, it was with a good friend, Paul Hussell, on piano, guitar or even cello and then I came back and went into full-fledged recording sessions with first call New York City musicians at age eighteen. I played with some awesome guys but I never could find anyone who wanted to help me make a contact or sign me. So I just kept writing and writing even in college where I did two more recording projects. 

In 2004-5, I recorded four records with a producer in Virginia but things got finally rolling with my current group when I went down to Nashville and I went on the road. I had a lot of problems with studios and engineers and quality but I am happy with “Apparition” now. It just was very difficult to get to this point. I had to take “do it yourself” to the extreme. So that is how “Apparition” came into being. Out of Virginia and Nashville with some great studio musicians.


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Kasey Lansdale

Kasey Lansdale

An interview with singer/songwriter Kasey Lansdale
by Tina Hall
January 2011

Native Texan Kasey Lansdale is not just the daughter of legendary author Joe R. Lansdale (she herself was published at Random House by the age of 8, the story which has been formed into a screenplay) she is also a well established country artist who can be found on the road most of the time. When not touring internationally, she works as the newest staff writer at Music Row Publishing House. Her third EP is tentatively titled ‘Never Say Never” and was produced by Mike Clute who has worked with artists like Faith Hill and Diamond Rio. Some of the best writers in Nashville show up for the tracks on this one with Bob DiPiero, Roxie Dean, and Victoria Banks lending their various styles to the mix. Lansdale joins forces co-writing with Arlos Smith and Clute on one of the five tracks as well.

Maximum Ink: What was it like growing up in Texas in the Lansdale household? Do you think some of the determination you have now is the result of your supportive upbringing? Did you look up to your father as writer growing up? What about your mother Karen do you find it helpful to have had such a strong female role model?
Kasey Lansdale: I think growing up in Texas at the Lansdale house was like growing up at any house. Normal, except the artwork depicting dead people on the walls. I do think my determination is from seeing my parents create and build their own business in a sense. I also think though, that you can’t teach that, you either have it or you don’t. But you have to learn the idea from somewhere. I know I couldn’t do this if I didn’t have their support. You get knocked down too many times to not have a support system of some sort. I look up still to both my parents. To me, dad wasn’t a writer, he was dad, and mom was mom. And they did their roles as such above and beyond.

MI: Have you always enjoyed country music? If you are like most of us who were raised country you remember your first favorite country song very well. What would you say was yours? Why do you think the roots of country music run so deep for most people with many favorite artists being passed from generation to generation?
KL: I have always enjoyed country music. I don’t remember my first CD, but I remember the two I would listen to over and over again was Reba, the greatest hits album with Fancy on it, Track 3, I think, and a Loretta/Patsy CD. I would play them on repeat and walk in circles around the fireplace with my dog on my heels. (He also likes country music.) I think country runs deep because the songs are about people. People in life, love, happiness, hardship. Things that everyone can relate to.


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Clutch

Clutch

An interview with bassist Dan Maines
by Tina Hall
January 2011

The members of Clutch come from Maryland and West Virginia. Metal fans may have caught them this past summer on the Berzerkus Tour Festival with Black Label Society. The band is situated to have a busy year. They are set to tour with metal legends Motorhead. Furthermore, Clutch and their record label Weatherrmaker Music are currently putting the finishing touches on the deluxe, double disc re-issue of their classic album “Blast Tyrant.” This limited edition release includes 25 total songs, over 97 minutes of music, brand new artwork, and a 10 track bonus disc with four new songs.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your background and where you are from? How do you think it has influenced your musical taste and style? When did you first know you wanted to become a musician?
Dan Maines: The four of us started playing music together in high school back in 1989. Growing up in the D.C. area exposed us to some great music like Fugazi, Bad Brains, and The Obsessed, as well as go-go bands like Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. My brother had given me a Bad Brains cassette back in ‘87, which I wore out with the quickly. When I saw them play the 9:30 club, I was blown away and knew I wanted to be a part of that, so I bought a bass guitar.

MI: Who where some of your greatest influences?
DM: At the time the band formed, I was listening to a lot of heavy punk stuff like Nomeansno, Melvins, and Bad Brains. Eventually Jack Bruce, Geezer, and John Paul Jones were always in the back of my mind. I consider Charles Mingus to be the greatest bass player of all time.


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Subatomic - Cover design by Ian Chalgren - photo by Rökker

Subatomic

An interview with Subatomic
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

We listen to music to feel something, to relate to something or to just plain have fun. And it’s becoming harder and harder to find a local band that you can listen to and just plain enjoy yourself. No corporate puppetry or influence laced through what could be and should be killer music. That’s why when we came across Subatomic it was something extremely refreshing. Their jam-oriented sound with catchy riffs and groovy basslines is just plain good music. Maximum Ink caught up with the hard rock groove trio to talk about their music and how they got their start.

Maximum Ink: Tell me about the history of the band. Where did you get started? When did you all start playing and writing music?
Bryan Moll (Guitarist/Vocals): Jim and I have been playing together since grade school and about 15 years ago, we got to know Sparko (Mark Dvorak-Drums).  So over the years the three of us have worked together on different projects, with different folks in a variety of bands, but the true version of subatomic came into being in 2006, when we began writing music together.

MI: Describe your music to someone who has never seen/hear it before.
Jim Roof (Bass): It’s our motto: Hard rock groove jams!


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Les Paul holding a copy of Maximum Ink backstage at the Iridium Jazz club in New York City - photo by Otto Schamberger

Launchpad

An interview with director and creator of Launchpad Dennis Graham
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

“Some of the best original music today comes from high school garage bands.” –Les Paul

The Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is about to kick off the seventh year of the one of a kind music competition called Launchpad, using the same idea that the late great Les Paul personified in his quote. Launchpad is a statewide alternative music competition for high school students in bands formed outside of the traditional music classroom. Maximum Ink caught up with director and creator of the competition, Dennis Graham to talk about how the competition got started and where he sees it heading in the coming years.

Maximum Ink: Tell us about how Launchpad got started.

Dennis Graham: I was approached by the WSMA, which presents this program, seven years ago to talk about raising awareness on raising funds for them. As a result of my discussions with Michael George, the current Executive Director of the WSMA, and I brought up a couple ideas and the first was to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize people who had a successful music career and were also impacted by a music teacher. The first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Wisconsin was given to Les Paul. I hand delivered a letter that I wrote, which was signed by Governor Doyle, to Les inviting him back to Wisconsin (He hadn’t been back in twenty years.) October 27th, 2004 was Les Paul Day in the State of Wisconsin and it was just a marvelous day of honoring him. Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band), Les’ godson, came out and was part of it as well.


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