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Rockonsin  - photo by Jerod Gibson

Rockonsin

an interview with creator Dennis Graham
by Teri Barr
April 2016

“Music means everything to me. And it’s great to see ROCKONSIN encourage and recognize young Wisconsin garage bands,” Butch Vig says. Vig, drummer for the internationally-acclaimed band Garbage and a Grammy Award winning producer, understands the importance of supporting up-and-coming musicians. As he told me when I interviewed him one year ago, and just before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Madison Area Music Association, he’d started volunteering to help improve his own child’s school music program. But his current effort to speak out on behalf of ROCKONSIN may feel a little different; as the idea behind it takes Vig back to his own roots, which includes playing with friends in bands where he grew up in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and later in Madison. ROCKONSIN is getting the star treatment, because it’s deserving – Dennis Graham Associates started producing this state-wide competition back in 2005, and while it’s grown in popularity, ROCKONSIN remains the only one of its type in the country. Graham says it’s helped launched a lot of young talent, with the most recent being former Madison musician Gabe Burdulis.


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1241 ViewsPermalinkRockonsin Website
Madison's Damsel Trash featuring Meghan Rose and Emily Mills

Damsel Trash

an interview with Meghan Rose and Emily Mills
by Teri Barr
April 2016

Do you ever hear (and in this case, see) a band, and wonder where the group may be headed? The first story I wrote about Meghan Rose came out in February, 2014, after meeting her at Ladies Rock Camp in Madison, where she helped coach and encourage a group of women wanna-be rock stars. A few people at the time asked, “Who?” But, I had the feeling any obliviousness wouldn’t last long, especially when she partnered with Emily Mills to form Damsel Trash, a self-described two-women, trash punk rock your face band.

Fast-forward a little more than two years, and we now know where Damsel Trash is going:  Meghan is moving to New York City in May, and though Emily will remain in the Madison area, there is a pact between the two. We haven’t heard the last from Damsel Trash. I had the chance to ask them more about the band’s past, and get some great details about their plans for the future.   

Maximum Ink: How did Damsel Trash get started?
Emily Mills:
Meg and I were in Little Red Wolf (alt-country) together. But it wasn’t until we did a Hole tribute band for Halloween, 2012, that I think things started to really click in terms of both of us wanting an outlet for our shoutier, angrier, more theatrical sides. Meg learning so much about Courtney Love for that Hole tribute, and sort of embodying that rowdy, take-no-shit persona really fucking opened a door for her, I think. It was a beautiful thing to witness, because she hadn’t really embraced that punk side of herself, not fully, prior to that.


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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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1632 ViewsPermalinkSensations Website
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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2337 ViewsPermalinkOnce Around Website
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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658 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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1690 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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2397 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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1242 ViewsPermalinkBird’s Eye Website
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