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Ellen Kempner of Palehound

Palehound

An Interview with songwriter Ellen Kempner of Palehound
by John Noyd
October 2015

Outspoken and perceptive with a razor-sharp wit, Boston songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ellen Kempner is the creative captain of the gale-force musical cruiser, PALEHOUND. Boundless disregard for tradition turns her recent, “Dry Food,” into a cornucopia of rock and roll riches mixed in a refreshing blend of cut-throat poetry, elliptical guitar and storm-trooper grooves. Out on the road, Ms. Kempner drops into Madison’s The Frequency November 18th along with indie renegade MITSKI and punk-rockers PWR BTTM. We caught Ellen just before her tour and asked her a few questions to prepare for her visit.

MAXIMUM INK: As a female songwriter who plays a mean rock guitar who can I compare you to that would make you blush and who would make you scowl?

ELLEN KEMPNER: Well there are plenty of people you could compare me to that would make me blush, like Albert King, Annie Clark, Matt Sweeney etc.. Honestly, I feel that anyone who plays a “mean rock guitar” has qualities that I don’t feel fit enough to judge to the point of scowling!

MI: Your new album, “Dry Food,” is full of shifting rhythms and unpredictable dynamics. Do songs come to you with these ideas from the start, get worked out in the writing process, in the studio or the stage?

EK: I never perform anything in the studio or on stage until I’m completely confident in what I’ve written, partially because I’m an anxious perfectionist. As far as dynamics go, that’s usually something that comes to me from the start of a song, whereas shifting rhythms tends to be part of the editing/writing process.

MI: Having started out as a solo artist who played most of her instruments what is it like to relinquish control to three other people? What prompted you to make that leap?

EK: I still for the most part consider myself a solo artist actually, because through lineup changes I have retained the majority of creative control. I usually write a song and then demo out all the instruments myself and then leave it to my bandmates to play them better than I can (i.e. Drums haha)

MI: “Dry Food,” seems to speak from the heart, have you ever started a song based on a feeling you since felt was misplaced or trite?

EK: I’ve definitely started plenty of songs that way but those are the ones I tend to discard. Total, I wrote probably at least 40 songs leading up to Dry Food but picked those eight because they seemed the most genuine and expressed what I wanted to express most clearly. 

MI: Your lyrics show an appreciation for language’s playful nature, are there any specific books from your childhood still informing your current aesthetic?

EK: Really funny you would ask that because I was just looking over some books in my childhood bedroom last week. I can’t say that I’m directly inspired by those books today but looking back on them I was actually surprised to see how much of the language and strange weirdo plot lines seemed to have stuck with me through the years. The ones that stood out in particular were Caps For Sale, A Bad Case of the Stripes, and The Giant Jam Sandwich.


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LevRage

LevRage

An interview with vocalist Joel Beaulieu
by Laura Sorensen
October 2015

LevRage is pure American metalcore. No bells. No whistles.

Formed in the year 2000 and based in Madison, Wisconsin, the band is fronted by Wisconsin native and vocal powerhouse Joel Beaulieu. I had the opportunity to speak with Joel and find out what makes LevRage tick.MI:  Can you start by giving me a little background on LevRage and who makes up the band?  It is LevRAGE right, not Leverage?

JB: It is LevRage, long A. The band was formed 4 or 5 years ago in Lake Geneva, WI. Four of the members were from Illinois and one of them was from Lake Geneva. They were based out of Schaumburg. The band made some changes, my brother Mike created the band and he’s the one who stayed constant. He made personal changes as they went, not only him but other band members. As we exist now, four of the members are from Wisconsin and only one is from Illinois. We decided to move our base out of Illinois and into Wisconsin to the Madison area. We feel that Madison is the most legitimate place to put your music out in Wisconsin and one of the biggest rock cities in the Midwest.


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Red Sun Rising - photo by LeAnn Mueller

Red Sun Rising

An interview with singer Mike Protich
by Michelle Harper
October 2015

I first heard Red Sun Rising’s “The Otherside” on the radio, driving to work. My first thoughts were “this reminds me of Alice in Chains”. But then, when the verse built up to that first soaring note of the chorus, and then Mike Protich hit that note dead on, my mouth dropped. 
The melody was flawless. Mike was flawless. And I wrote my publisher as soon as I got home, telling him that I wanted to do a piece on this newly emerging band, Red Sun Rising, and that I’d do all the leg work to make it happen. 

It is that good.


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Pachinko plays Maximum Ink's Halloween Spooktakular - photo by Mary Sweeney Photography

Pachinko

An interview with Pachinko singer and guitarist, Brian Brech
by Mike Huberty
October 2015

Named after a Japanese pinball machine, punk/metal hybrids, PACHINKO, combines the brutality and technical precision of metal with the wild abandon of punk rock. Formed by Wisconsin punk rock label Bovine Records founder, Steve Wipfli in the early 90s and featuring Magma (Michael Henry) from stoner metal Madison legends, BONGZILLA, PACHINKO has been led by vocalist/guitarist Brian Brech for over two decades. After signing to Jello Biafra’s (DEAD KENNEDYS) record label, Alternative Tentacles, and touring the US and Europe, the band has endured a series of lineup changes and took a hiatus in the mid-2000s. They’ve recently reformed and we talked to Brian Brech about where the band is going.


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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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Jean-Luc Ponty & Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson

Finding renewed strength with the Anderson Ponty Band
by Sal Serio
October 2015

Mystic, sage, poet, ringleader of prog-rock pageantry, Jon Anderson certainly has been an enigmatic figure in recent music history, but as this new interview clearly illustrates, the world-renowned singer is back with renewed vigor, and an eagerness to create new musical experiences along his endless journeys, which will bring The Anderson Ponty Band to play the South Milwaukee PAC on Wed. Nov. 4.


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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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Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Ash

Career Lessons, Deep Meaning, and Rock Around the Globe
by Sal Serio
September 2015

It’s always an immense pleasure to get perspective and insight from an intriguing musician who has been a trailblazer of innovation for decades, and who continues to stay relevant and proactive in the current musical universe. This was most definitely the case when Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio recently got to chat with Andy Powell, band leader of the iconic English rock band Wishbone Ash, who will perform at Turner Hall in Milwaukee, Thursday, September 10. The current Wishbone Ash line-up is comprised of Andy Powell and Muddy Manninen on guitars, Bob Skeat on bass, and Joe Crabtree on drums.

MAXIMUM INK: Often there is mention of the twin-lead-guitar-harmony sound in discussions about Wishbone Ash. However, it’s usually Thin Lizzy that get credit for “inventing” that technique. Yet, it occurs to me that Wishbone Ash should really get this honor, since, when you started doing it in 1970, Thin Lizzy only had one guitar player (Eric Bell)!

ANDY POWELL:; Oh, did they?! I think you’re the first person that’s ever picked up on that! <i>[laughing]</i> Well, that’s very nice of you, and it’s funny that you mentioned Thin Lizzy, because I was at a Steely Dan concert last week, and there’s one song of ours that I know had a big impact on those two bands, because there’s riffs in a song by each of them that could only be inspired by the song “Blowin’ Free”, one of our classics, which, back in the day, would have been played quite a bit on FM radio. I’ve spoken to Scott Gorham, from the later incarnation of Thin Lizzy, and I know that they were influenced by Wishbone because we were the first band that they saw when they came to London from Ireland. So, you know, some people admit the influence and some don’t, but it’s all good to me. Music is like that. We all channel other bands, and music we’ve grown up with, and so it’s a huge compliment.


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Fovever No More from Tomah, WI

Forever No More

An interview with Khatelyn Bujak/Lead Singer for Forever No More
by Laura Sorensen
September 2015

Hailing from Tomah Wisconsin, Forever No More busy themselves writing messages of life, turmoil and bliss wearing their wear their hearts on their sleeves with every performance. The band started in 2013 and released their 2014 debut EP “Forever No More” followed by their sophomore release “Dark Brings The light”. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with vocalist Khatelyn Bujak, here is an abbreviated version of our conversation.

Maximum Ink: Tell us how you came up with the band name Forever No More?
KB:
This is a really funny story. The band started probably three months prior to us having a name for the band. It was Christmas two years ago. We were in my Uncle’s basement and Trent our lead guitarist who is also my step dad said “What are we going to name the band?”  Me: “I don’t know.”  He’s like “It’s gotta be somethin’ cool.”  I’m like “I don’t know.” I said “I kind of want an oxymoron.  Things that are totally opposite. I really really like Forever.  Forever and Ever.”  I just kept thinking Forever No More, Forever No More, and I love Edgar Allen Poe.  I thought this would be great, the whole thing with The Raven, kind of stormy and dark, especially our intro song. Trent said “Oh I like that” and I said “Forever No more will be a Raven.” He said “Yes, that’s it.”  When we got back together with the rest of the band I said “We have a band name!”  It was actually on Christmas Eve that we finally decided our band name would be Forever No More.


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Angels or Insects 2015 - photo by Mary Sweeney Photography

ANGELS OR INSECTS 2015

After 15 years, AOI is getting back together
by Mike Huberty
September 2015

Buried underneath that morass of backwards baseball caps, bands with deejays, and walking erection macho posturing at the turn of the century, an industrial movement was brewing. The tracks and loops and synths that we expect today from mainstream rock bands like MUSE and 30 SECONDS TO MARS all started with the brave acts who would bring massive keyboards and digital samplers onstage when you couldn’t just use blast backing tracks through your iPhone.  And in the Madison rock scene at the time, no other industrial metal act was bringing as many people to clubs or building more of a buzz than ANGELS OR INSECTS.


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