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Holland Zander and Dana Buck

The Sensations

A conversation with Holland Zander and Dana Buck
by Teri Barr
March 2016

Every musician must have thoughts about their dream line-up. But for The Sensations – a couple of 70’s rockers with some success, partnered with the daughter of a 70’s rocker with a lot of success – their own group is a dream come true. “We have saved the best for now,” bass player Dana Buck says, while laughing. “52 years in this business, and I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. But I credit so much of it to Holland, our lead singer.”

Holland—is Holland Zander – daugher of Cheap Trick’s lead singer, Robin Zander. But the ties between the two bands, who are all family or friends, have been forged over many years. “Rick Pemberton is our lead guitarist, but played in a band years ago with my Dad, Brian Beebe, and Bun E. Carlos in Wisconsin Dells,” Holland Zander says. “Dad and Brian then locked it in as a duo for three summers. And our drummer, Kurt Wiesend, was Bun E.‘s (Cheap Trick’s drummer) drum tech for a few tours. Crazy small world, and even crazier stories!”


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Once Around - photo by Mat Teubert

Once Around

intro by Teri Bar, interview by Laura Sorensen
by Laura Sorensen
January 2016

If you only live once—the members of Once Around are finding a way to make every moment count. But before you assume this Madison-based band is a bunch of road-hardened veterans, you may be surprised to learn this group is made up of driven, talented… teenagers.

So what’s really making their young lust for life stand out in a big way? Once Around creatively combines its own style of original old school rock and glam, with some new age metal and punk. Sebastian Sikk is the 17-year-old lead vocalist; Wrath Starz is 16, and plays lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and contributes to backing vocals. 19-year-old Bam joins on bass, and backing vocals; then there’s Chase, who is 16, on drums.

But don’t let their ages fool you.  Laura talked with Once Around as the band gets ready to release some new music during its February 5th show at The Red Zone in Madison.

Maximum Ink:  Once Around is a clever name. How did you come up with it, and are you using it as (almost) a motto for the band?
Sebastian Sikk:
  The significance behind it, and a lot of our song lyrics is that you only live once, and a band like this only comes around once. The music is our message, and it just feels like it has been all the same old radio rock for awhile. I feel like there hasn’t been a new band to come out and skyrocket in popularity since Black Veil Brides. So we are trying to do something different, combining new age with older music we grew up on like Skid Row, Poison, and KISS. But we are mixing it up, and creating something new, along with a unique look. And not many people are doing a look anymore.


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Haliwel

Haliwel

by Teri Barr
December 2015

New band. New music. New business. But for three friends – also the founding members of Haliwel—the original mindset is the same: be the best, and have fun doing it together. The group is kicking off a new tour by releasing a new album with two shows scheduled in this area in December:  12/12 at The Red Zone with Left of Reason, Daphni, and Fall II Rise; and 12/30 at Hijynx in Fort Atkinson with Super Bob. I asked two of Haliwel’s original members to tell me about the current line-up; along with any special things to watch or listen for when the group is back on stage after a short hiatus. And you may be surprised by what a few of the guys started, during the time they took to reorganize.

Maximum Ink: How do you describe the new version of Haliwel?
Shawn Streeter:
We are still a Madison-based hard rock band with three of the original members including Max Neal on drums, Ryan Seney on bass, and myself on guitar. There’s also Jake Smith on guitar, and Dax Roberts is our new/old singer.
Max Neal: We are the Alter Bridge, Tool, and Shinedown kind of rock; not the Coldplay or Black Keys kind of rock…just to make sure no one is confused.


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587 ViewsPermalinkHaliwel Website
The Mascot Theory - photo by David Jackson

The Mascot Theory

an interview with Erik Kjelland
by Teri Barr
November 2015

If you’re trying to pin-point who’s currently a fast rising male star on the music scene, look no further than Erik Kjelland. The Madison-based, Mineral Point-born musician is part of an award-winning band with a new CD on the way; plus, he’s about to partner with another successful area artist for a special winter tour. This is all happening after a well-received Summerfest performance with his band The Mascot Theory, a featured performance with the Madison Youth Choir and Black Star Drum line at the Madison Area Music Association Awards (where The Mascot Theory took home 4 awards), and a sold-out Barrymore show with Vance Joy, just to name a few of the highlights.

But Kjelland isn’t taking any of it for granted. He’s open about a recent health issue, which may be making him even more determined to reach his goals. He took time to answer my questions about his plans moving forward, and as one of the local bands hosting the Flannel Fest show at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, November 7th. It’s only in its second year, but Kjelland is proud that it’s already one of the hottest tickets in town due to the quality of musicians taking part in the fundraising show in support of the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund. Just one more thing to add to his list of rewards this year.


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1579 ViewsPermalinkMascot Theory Website
JD Simo at Atwoodfest 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin - photo by Teri Barr

Simo

an interview with guitarist/singer JD Simo
by Teri Barr
October 2015

He is old school, and proud of it. J.D. Simo says pounding the pavement to meet people, and playing live night after night, is what suits him and his style of music. Simo grew up in Chicago, quit high school, and moved to Nashville where as a studio musician he played on more than 500 albums. He says many were popular names we may recognize – which made him recognize – he didn’t want to play sessions the rest of his life. In just the last five years, the now 30-year-old released his own album, formed a trio named SIMO, played festivals, opened for Greg Allman, Deep Purple, and recorded another album. It will be released in January, 2016; while SIMO, continues to tour non-stop, adding Europe to the schedule this winter. He also just got married. Simo the man, and SIMO the trio. Both are something special. I talked with him backstage during July’s AtwoodFest as his group closed out the first night, and found him to be kind, smart, and witty. Our recent phone conversation was very similar, and though on the road, he seemed to enjoy talking about returning to Madison, and what has shaped the way he commands the stage.


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Clyde Stubblefield on stage at the High Noon Saloon 8/30/2015 - photo by Mary Sweeney Photography

Clyde Stubblefield

an in-depth interview with the future Hall of Famer!
by Teri Barr
September 2015

“I am a happy man.”

Talking with Clyde Stubblefield during the past couple of weeks, the one feeling he’s pointed out each time, is his happiness. “I am getting so much love, and being back on stage playing my drums is making me a happy, happy man,” the 72 year old says with a smile.

To understand this current focus on Stubblefield, the fundraising shows to establish a music scholarship and a push to get him nominated for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you have to dig back into his past. Born in Tennessee, he started playing drums after seeing musicians in a parade. But from the start, he created his own rhythm, without any formal training. ”I’d listen to the things happening around me. The train, traffic, work at the factory. And I’d then make up some beats to go along with it,” Stubblefield says. The unique style made him stand out when James Brown heard him play at a bar in Georgia. It was an unanticipated beginning in the music business, for a man who would go on to forever be known, as the funky drummer. “Just always put down whatever groove I wanted. No one ever told me what to do, and things just always sort of happened,” Stubblefield says. Brown asked him to play shows – first in New York at the Apollo Theater, then it was on to Europe. For more than 6 years, he kept that one-of-a-kind, funky, R & B beat going for Brown. Yet ask him about that time now, and Stubblefield seems surprised. “All of it. It all just sort of happened. I don’t plan anything, so everything we did was a surprise. Traveling to different states and countries to play music? I sure didn’t plan it,” Stubblefield says.


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Molly Ford, singer for The Civil Engineer  - photo by Mary Sweeney Photography

The Civil Engineers

an interview with guitarist Chris Castro
by Teri Barr
August 2015

Sing along, dance along, or just nod your head along; the music of The Civil Engineers will not allow you to just sit there. The 7 piece band has almost every instrument covered – Molly on vox, Chris plays guitar, Garrick has the keys, Tim aka T-LO plays bass, Carl on drums, Jason plays sax, Catherine is on the trumpet – and the groove the group lays down together, isn’t like anything else you’ve heard before with a little rock, some soul, and a lot of funk. The band is working on its debut CD, an EP they’re calling “Save the Bridge,” which is expected to be done by fall; yet even without it, The Civil Engineers have already built a strong following around the state (the next Madison show is at The Frequency on August 21). I talked with lead guitar player Chris Castro about the band’s unique sound, the funny way they got their name, and why you need to be ready for almost anything when you go to a show.

Maximum Ink: How did you find the sound that defines The Civil Engineers?
Chris Castro:
Our sound is definitely rooted in soul, since that’s how we got our start - just jamming out on Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye tunes in Molly’s basement. It’s evolved pretty far from there—and we’ve taken elements of funk, rock, hip hop, and ska – and spread it throughout our tunes. It’s music for dancing and partying, though we do throw a few curveballs in the mix.

MI: And with that mix of elements, your backgrounds in music must be diverse, too?
CC:
Garrick, Carl and Catherine all hold degrees in music. I know Jason studied jazz at some point. Molly’s powerhouse voice was formed by years of musical theater. Tim and I aren’t as formal. We’ve just played in lots and lots of bands (psychedelic jammy stuff, bluegrass, hardcore, you name it).

MI: What brought your current line-up together?
CC:
We sorta knew each other from here and there, but it took a mutual friend who said to us “yo you guys are all really talented! You should form a band” to make us act on it. The first version was Molly, Garrick, Tim and I, along with a different drummer. We gathered in Molly’s basement one night and started slammin’ some PBRs, and jammin’ some Motown tunes. We had fun so kept on doing that for a few months, and then at one point a friend of ours asked us to come out and play at his house party.

After that we just started playing wherever people would have us - parties, bars, backyards, you name it. Carl then joined us in late 2014, and then our horn players, Catherine and Jason, joined in early 2015.


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2290 ViewsPermalinkCivil Engineers Website
Bird's Eye at the High Noon Saloon - photo by BMB Graphics

Bird’s Eye

interview with Joe Waldbillig
by Teri Barr
July 2015

This is one sneaky band. Bird’s Eye lures you in with its positive energy, which is driven by some great live musicians. Then, wham; you are hit hard with a positive hip hop vibe, delivered with a funky, fresh beat. You’ll get the chance to check out this group at this year’s two-day AtwoodFest. Bird’s Eye plays the Alchemy Stage on Sunday, July 26th.  I recently asked guitar player Joe Waldbillig what to expect during the band’s AtwoodFest show, how they find time for music, and why their busy lives have led to a divide and conquer attitude.

Maximum Ink:  You have some multi-talented musicians! Six people singing and playing almost ten different instruments?
Joe Waldbillig:
Yeah, Bird’s Eye consists of Ra Fury, and yes that is his real name! He is our emcee/vocalist/lyracist. I’m on electric guitar, Evan Nelson plays bass guitar, Lauren Johnson covers vocals, saxaphone, and piano. We have Sean Peyton on drums, and Hannah Larson is also a vocalist, plays piano, and auxiliary percussion.


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1159 ViewsPermalinkBird’s Eye Website
Held: A Musical Fantasy

Held: A Musical Fantasy

an interview with Kelly Maxwell
by Teri Barr
June 2015

VO5. Little Red Wolf. Held. You may recognize one or more from the Madison arts scene, but did you know the same person has played a part in all three?  Kelly Maxwell made her initial mark locally as a musician, but is now sharing her talents on a different stage. “Held: A Musical Fantasy,” is playing weekends through June at Broom Street Theater. It’s Kelly’s directorial debut, and first full-length work. “Held” is on the dark side of fairytales, with the consequences of power driven by the music, and weaved between the characters – one, demonstrating charm and a gift for the supernatural – the other, a determined realist. Let’s just say it leads to a powerful end. 

I recently asked Kelly about using her own power to move between music, and theater. And why this may be the start of a real-life fairytale, come true.


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Morgan Rae - photo by Cocao Malamiravicht

Devil To Drag

An interview with singer Morgan Rae
by Teri Barr
May 2015

Sometimes, starting in reverse, can throw you into full forward.
It’s what the members of Devil to Drag may be learning right now. This Madison-based group began simply—as an acoustic duo—but expanded to a trio, and eventually a full power alt rock band. And though Devil to Drag is still young on the scene at less than a year together, the musicians involved bring experience, and an aggressive attitude for forging ahead. I recently talked with lead singer and guitar player Morgan Rae for Maximum Ink, just as the band gets ready to release a new video and album on May 15th: 


Maximum Ink:  Introduce us to your band, and why it’s pretty unique in the way you got together?
Morgan Rae:  Cocoa Malamiravict plays guitar and sings with me. It’s actually how Devil to Drag got its start. The two of us played and wrote together acoustically. It was his idea to then add Wade Coisman from Real Knives on bass. They’d played together in Underground Day 1 too, and have always worked together really well. It’s almost creepy sometimes to watch them communicate in rehearsal, because a lot of it is done through looks and vocal cues that aren’t actually words, but they still somehow understand each other.
Kai Anderson, also from Real Knives, was the last member to join, but in my opinion is the most influential addition when it comes to creating the sound we have today. We had asked him to play with us for a bigger show, then realized none of us wanted to go back to the more stripped down sound.
I feel really honored to be able to write and play with these three, and aside from all their musical talents, they each bring something different and important to the table, which I think is really going to set us up for success. Cocoa knows everyone and his brother, because he travels the country building greenhouses. He gets us a lot of great opportunities like playing Steelbridge Song Festival in Sturgeon Bay. Wade works at a print shop, so he knows all the ins and outs of navigating merchandise. And Kai not only works at WJJO Radio as a D.J., but also teaches at Madison Music Foundry, so he really helps make sure our practices to run smoothly when we’re tightening up material. Oh, and I have a full-time job too, at Peak Performance Massage.

MI:  Alot going on between the four of you! Where do you find your energy, and even your spirit for working on the new music?


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1833 ViewsPermalinkDevil To Drag Website
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