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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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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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The Fine Constant from Madison, Wisconsin - photo by Chris Lotten

The Fine Constant

An Interview with Sarah Longfield
by Teri Barr
April 2015

What would individual artists—influenced by jazz, EDM, and a little mix of metal—sound like playing together as a group? No reason to wonder, as this band already exists. The Fine Constant has been making its unique style of music for less than a year, and is set to embark on a several month cross country tour in support of a new, original album being officially released at its Madison show on April 9th. But who is this group, and why is the leader a bit of a beautiful surprise? Sarah Longfield recently took time out of her busy, getting-ready-for the-road preparations, to answer these questions and more, for Maximum Ink: 

Maximum Ink:  Your technique on guitar is pretty incredible. It’s unique, and really difficult. How long have you been playing?
Sarah Longfield:  I’ve been playing guitar for about 10 years now. I started off playing piano when I was about 8 and have taken up various instruments since then, but guitar is what comes most naturally!
As for my playing, I don’t know much about theory or proper technique, but I like to think having to work around that is what has helped me to develop my own style.

MI:  Who’s in the band, and with your different interests in music, how’d you get together?
SL:  My two band mates are Steve Meyer on drums, and Steve-O Wilkes on guitar. Steve has been playing drums for 18 years and Steve-O has been playing guitar for 14 years. We ended up together because Steve was seeking a guitar player for a jazz band while I was looking for a band to play the solo material I had written and recorded in my basement. After jamming a couple of times, it all sort of fell into place. Steve-O then came into the picture a short time later, after our original guitar player left the band.


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Madison's Dogs of War on the cover of Maximum Ink for March 2015

Dogs of War

by Teri Barr
March 2015

Imagine a band, and all five of its members bringing different skills, styles, and goals to the project. It would sound like a fusion of hip-hop, rap, metal, rock, and blues. And its name would be—Dogs of War. This Madison-based group is a year in the making, but the individuals have been part of the scene with various well-known acts. Yet, Dogs of War is the one already being called cool, unique, bridging divides, and destined for something bigger. One of its founders, Dexter “Tefman” Patterson, took time to answer a few of my questions, including why it can be good to flaunt your differences, and how the band’s efforts can’t be defined.

Maximum Ink: This new project brings together some broad talents. Can you tell us more about Dogs of War?
Dexter “Tefman” Patterson:
Well, w’s so great about the Dogs of War is the diversity in our musical backgrounds.Vincent “Samhain Bane” Spruill and I are the two emcees for the band. We are also the co-founders of the award-winning veteran hip-hop group The L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S. There’s also Anthony Salas on Guitar/Lead Vocals, David Payne on drums, and Dustin “D” Harmon on bass. They are incredibly skilled and bring rock, punk, heavy metal, and more as their influences.


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La Bomba Waters and Les Cougars - photo by Chad Sutherland - Rise Up Lights

Les Cougars

La Bomba from Les Cougars
by Teri Barr
February 2015

The Valentine invite intrigued me. Live musicians, comedy, dancing, burlesque—an all in one, all-woman show (unless you count Cupid, a young man wearing a diaper, as the only contributing factor to the male side of the cast). But once the lights went down on a packed house at the Cardinal Bar in Madison, a full complement of creative energy was on display, and did not disappoint. Tulin Waters takes her opportunity to entertain very seriously. Her group is known as Les Cougars, and her on-stage persona, “La Bomba,” is brash, but brilliant. Yet her whole goal of this good time revolves around supporting other entertaining women of a certain age—- meaning, not your 20-somethings. There were shapes, colors, styles of all types showing off their talents. And if it left the performers feeling good, it also left almost everyone in the audience with a certain kinship, and sense of power. As Les Cougars prepares for another show, they’ll be part of the CD Release Party for Meghan Rose at the Inferno on February 13th at 9 pm, Tulin took time to talk with me about the importance of making a difference, and how she’s finding the stage a perfect place to do it.

Maximum Ink: You are funny, but in a real, relatable sense. Your show includes humor, but still revolves around music, why?
Tulin Waters: I am a music scout, not a musician, which allows me to create a different type of show. My ear for talent came from living in 6 different countries growing up. It gave me a sense of respect and admiration for all types of music. The more you learn about other music from around the world, the more you grasp who has a real passion and understanding of it.

MI: Music is mixed with the unexpected for your group, Les Cougars. Why did you focus on this approach for a show?
TW: I started Les Cougars because this town is full of talented women over the age of 35. In the entertainment business, “maturing” women face ageism and get overlooked unfairly way too often. To me this is a travesty because talent only gets better with experience, and it is at this age when women are in their prime and absolute best up on stage. We should be glorified for what we have accomplished, not replaced, and I am proud to bring to the table a show where there are so many diverse and talented women coming together to preach age empowerment.


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Lucas Cates

An Interview with Lucas Cates
by Teri Barr
January 2015

Add up the miles. 2000+ to the west coast, another 1100 to the Gulf Shore, and then multiply it by at least a dozen times. Lucas Cates, founder of Madison-based The Lucas Cates Band, has been on the road from one end of the country to the other, and almost non-stop since 2006. But recent change to the long-time lineup is giving Cates time to re-group and re-charge. As one of the few full-time, DIY working bands, he’s also now pursuing other interests. Yet Cates still has an eye on the music scene. He’s pulled together a new group, which will open a big show at High Noon Saloon January 22, and plans to include a sampling of songs from their new album, expected out in February. I asked him about his past, his future, and what he’s learned along the way.


Maximum Ink: Has music always been your focus?
Lucas Cates:
I have a musical background but one I never took seriously until college. I played french horn and trumpet in high school, then dabbled at drums and piano but wasn’t great at either, so I finally learned guitar when I was 20. It was the first time in my life I felt like I had a natural ability to do something. I have always been drawn to acoustic guitar, and much of the music I was brought up on featured it. I think we are influenced by our environments and music has always been part of mine.

MI: And you have a new version of The Lucas Cates Band (TLCB)?
LC:
Yes! New additions to the band are Cody Davis on bass, and Travis Drumm on drums. Both are extremely talented and humble players. Over the last few months of playing together we have become a cohesive unit and great friends. I think our new album, “Back to the Cocoon”, really captures that. We also have some great guest musicians on it: Kenny Leiser (Mighty Wheelhouse, former TLCB band mate), Darren Marabelli (Katie Scullin Band) put down some electric guitar parts; Andrew Traverse (The Mustache) played some killer trumpet; Jesse Warmka (also a former TLCB band mate) contributed backing vocals.


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Altered Five

Altered Five

by Teri Barr
December 2014

It’s been a great couple of weeks for the members of Altered Five. The Southern Wisconsin Blues Band’s new C.D. is just out, and already trending high on a few notable radio and on-line charts. Lead singer Jeff Taylor, guitar player Jeff Schroedl, bassist Mark Solveson, Raymond Tevich on keys, and Scott Schroedl on drums worked with a Grammy-winning producer on their latest effort, after taking home a few awards of their own this year. Somehow, in the middle of it all—- they took time to answer some questions from me about their history together, and with their music hitting a high note—what’s next for this groovy group.


MAXIMUM INK:  What is the key to Altered Five’s success right now?
JEFF SCHROEDL: We all bring different musical influences and experiences to the band, and our music is really the result of that melting pot of sounds. The five of us have been able to blend our ideas and styles really well. There’s no formula; everyone is just able to create interesting parts that gel and support JT’s voice, the lyrics, and overall song.

MI: How did the five of you connect?
MARK SOLVESON: Well, Jeff Taylor is our frontman and lead singer, Jeff Schroedl on guitar, Scott Schroedl on drums, Raymond Tevich plays keys and I’m the bassist. We formed in 2002 and have performed and recorded steadily ever since. We’ve logged quite a few shows and have a pretty large repertoire of songs. We’ve always been blues-based, of course, but we’ve evolved to play many more original tunes over the past four years or so. Our music is best described as “contemporary blues.” It’s groove-based, edgy, soulful and at times really rockin’, but it’s all grounded in the blues.


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SHESHE

by Teri Barr
November 2014

SHESHE is one hard-working band, and quickly becoming popular due to the unique talents the three women-members bring to the group. Julia McConahay plays fiddle and sings, Dana Perry is on guitar and vocals, and Shannon Callaway covers the drums and also sings. They all have different styles and musical interests, and it’s what is getting SHESHE attention from around the Midwest. I recently had the chance to talk with them about the upcoming release of their first album together, and how they are already planning for the future: 

Maximum Ink: What is making SHESHE, and the band’s new music, work for you?
Julia McConahay:
Music is what makes sense to me. I’ve never known life without it, so it’s never really been a choice, more like a way of being. It’s how I’m identified most of the time. People have always asked me to come jam with them, or sit in for a set, record on their album, or join their tour. It’s an honor and a joy, all at the same time.
Dana Perry: I really can’t see myself doing anything else with my life other than making music. I love how SHESHE has come together to make such bitchin’ noises together! I’m proud of the gigs and festivals we’ve played (Steel Bridge Song Festival, Ragged Roots Festival, Atwood Fest, the Bubble Festival, to name a few), and I’m proud of how we consistently have fun, but especially proud of us for working together to get this album out.
Shannon Callaway: I feel as though music has been my back bone through everything. It’s more than a purpose, it’s just there. I pretty much consider my stylings to be hand in hand with my emotions. If I’m pissed off, I’ll drop that E string down and rage. If I feel light as a feather and have a smile on my face, I’ll tap dance on my drumset.

MI: How did SHESHE get started?
JM:
I started SHESHE as an acoustic duo with Leah Brooke Conway (now of Elk’s Teeth and Rabbit’s Feet) whom I love dearly! After a few months, Dana Perry and Amada Marquez (Inferno Nightclub) caught the SHESHE fever and we grew into a four-piece band. Life happened and both Leah and Amada moved out of town, so Dana and I pressed on with our bad selves as a duo. Soon after, we saw a little glimmer from behind a closet door and we learned her name was Shannon Callaway! She’d been writing music with Meghan Rose and was interested in developing her drumming skills, so we busted that door open and ka-pow! The SHESHE three-piece was born.


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VK Lynne vocalist of From Light Rose The angels

From Light Rose The Angels

An Interview with Singer VK Lynne
by Teri Barr
September 2014

Two heavy new bands with a Madison-area twist will be rolling into the city for some hardcore Halloween shows, and both will be bringing an arsenal of just-released music. White Empress is already being described by some national publications as “what’s been missing on the metal scene.” The project includes some big name members, along with a local link at the helm. Mary Zimmer is a Madison-to-LA transplant, and will headline both Maximum Ink Spook-tacular shows. Also hitting the road is another newly formed group, From Light Rose the Angels. This band also has some heavy-hitters, and connected with Zimmer’s project to open in support of their shows here. I recently talked with FLRTA’s lead singer VK Lynne about this new effort, her symphonic-metal inspiration, and why she wants to play in Madison. 

Maximum Ink: You’ve been on the scene for awhile. What projects would our readers recognize?
VK Lynne: I spent a good many years, and 3 solo CD’s, in the singer/songwriter/blues world, until I discovered symphonic metal. That led me to start Vita Nova, join stOrk, and ultimately partner now with Janne Tamminen to create From Light Rose the Angels.
I started seriously singing when I was 12. I auditioned for a community theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar and it was all noisiness from there! I spent the next several years really focusing on my instrument, my voice, and learning what it could do. Once I got to college, I joined a band. I minored in creative writing, but never put the music & ‘word nerd’ part of my brain together until I was in a band. That’s when I started writing songs, and I haven’t stopped since!


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