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Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren

The Wizard Goes "Global"
by Sal Serio
April 2015

Never an artist to rest on his laurels, the ever-evolving Todd Rundgren is back with the new “Global” album, which is a curious mash-up of Philly soul, new wave pop, and electronica. Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio, a restless artist in his own right, had the opportunity to speak with Rundgren about “Global”, and his upcoming tour, which stops in to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 21.


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Wayne Nelson

Little River Band

An interview with Singer/Bassist Wayne Nelson
by Tina Ayres
April 2015

Wayne Nelson is best known from his work as the lead singer/bassist for Little River Band. Founded in Australia in 1975, the band has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, and are the first band to achieve the record of having Top 10 hits for 6 consecutive years.

Maximum Ink: When did you first discover your love of music?
Wayne Nelson: My earliest memories are infused with music. My parents constantly had music in playing in our home…Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, et al from my mom, and marching music from my dad who was a drum major in college. And both loved Broadway music and plays. They also both sang in the church choir, and were active in local theater groups. So I went with them to rehearsals and services. Rhythm, harmony, and composition were in the air on a regular basis.
MI: Who were some of you earliest influences?
WN: Once I was able to choose new music that I wanted to hear, I loved the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Turtles, and Dion…lots of vocal harmonies and great songs. Next came Motown, The Beatles, The Stones, and Cream. Then horn bands like Chicago, BS&T, EWF, and Chase. From there I started listening to jazz and more esoteric music like Yes, Weather Report, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Spyro Gyra, and Michael Walden.
MI: What was it like to have had the chance to hone your musical skills in Chicago? Do you feel privileged to have had the chance to play in an area so rich in rhythm and blues?
WN: Chicago was a great town for seeing bands and soaking up live music. Although there was a lot of blues on Lincoln Ave at the time, it hadn’t become as commercialized and popular as it is now. I spent more time seeing CTA and Styx and Cheap Trick at clubs and college venues. What was very hard for any young band in Chicago was to play R&B, which is what all of my friends and fellow musicians were into…Stevie, Motown, EWF, etc. And it was never an easy town to work in…6 sets a night, loading in and out with wind chills of -10, ice on the pavement and at the doorways. Chicago was boot camp for me.


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Alex Anders

Alex Anders

An interview with Alex Anders
by Tina Ayres
April 2015

Alex Anders came onto the music scene as a singer/guitarist in his teens. He has since went on to add harmonica, organ, and drums to his repertoire. While he prefers to perform county music he has also worked in rock, alternative, and acoustic genres. His debut release This Memory can be found at digital outlets everywhere from Potomac Records. The new single Those Were the Days can be found on iTunes and all digital media outlets Tuesday March 17, 2015

Maximum Ink: Since there isn’t much known about you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Alex Anders: I am 22 years old, born and raised in Northern Virginia, and currently residing in Fairfax, VA. Since I can remember, music has always been my passion and what I’ve always gravitated toward – to escape from routine as well as to let my creative juices flow. Music has always provided a sense of belonging, and singing and writing is part of who I am – to put it in simpler terms, music simply defines me. I have been pursuing a musical career since my teenage years, with a clearer definition, goal, and a stronger determination now that I’m in my twenties. I love music, I just want to perform, write, and always make music.

Maximum Ink: What did you love most about growing up in Northern Virginia? What are some of your most fond memories from that time in your life?
Alex Anders: The thing I definitely loved most about living in this area was the amount of family I had growing up here. My aunts, uncles, and cousins always seemed to be just down the street from one another. It was nice never having to travel more than 10 minutes to get to one another’s home. It always made for awesome holiday get togethers, birthday celebrations, cookouts, and many other family events. It was really nice knowing the people that meant the most, were always so close to me. This enhanced the fact that Northern Virginia has a very diverse culture, vast history, wonderful attractions, and activities that appeal to a worldwide audience. In addition there is its growing music scene which has contributed greatly to shaping me into the artist that I am today. Northern Virginia is also the home of Potomac Records, who are doing an amazing job in cultivating and supporting the local music scene, including myself. Putting all this together, Northern Virginia has been and will always be the best place in the world for me.

Maximum Ink: Can you recall what you very first favorite song was?
Alex Anders: I have always loved music and how it made me feel, but it wasn’t until I heard Bruce Springsteen’s Rosalita, The Dance by Garth Brooks, and Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind, who are admittedly one of my favorite bands, that I got more and more interested in the wonderful world of music.

Maximum Ink: When did you first become interested in guitar?
Alex Anders: I first remember wanting to seriously pursue guitar after seeing my older cousin play her guitar. I was always going over to her place and seeing her strum along and sing to popular songs on the radio. I had always been infatuated with guitar and drums and wanting to learn how to play an instrument of my own from a pretty young age. But it was probably around 10 or 11 when I really decided that I would pick it up and start teaching myself. I haven’t put it down since.


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Mary Zimmer and Chela Harper of White Empress - photo by Ferris B Photography

Madcity Nights - April 2015

by Rökker
April 2015

Madison’s music scene offers something for everyone no matter where in the city they live!  TiP: Check out the “TiP” after each listing to more fully enjoy your nights out in Madcity!


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Livewire in Concert

Livewire

An interview with Madison rockers, Livewire
by Mike Huberty
March 2015

Hair metal never made the magnificent comeback that some of us were hoping for (Even Disco got a full revival, how is that fair?), but as long as cocaine and hair extensions exist, the spirit of the Sunset Strip can never truly die and Madison’s Livewire is keeping that blues-based classic hard rock alive on campus. Going to college in the 90s, it felt like Alternative inherited the Earth from the dinosaurs of Glam, so seeing UW students coming together to pay homage is a rock n’ roll Jurassic Park . Justin Blair sings and plays guitar, while Ryan Pease is on drums and is also a Nuclear Engineer (Yeah, I know, I couldn’t wrap my head around it either.) Emma Meinholz lays down the bass and Charles Lease plays rhythm guitars and backup vox. They just released a new video, “She’s A Storm”, and I had a chance to talk to the band to preview the release.


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Ben Chasny

Six Organs of Admittance

Ben Chasny discusses his new album and musical strategy
by John Noyd
March 2015

It is helpful to have an open mind when encountering Six Organs of Admittance’s driving force, guitar-strategist Ben Chasny. Through a career that is as prolific as it is eclectic, Chasny’s teen-age folk roots carried him through a labyrinth of styles, from hyperbolic-baroque to psychedelic wrecking-balls gnarled in cosmic jazz. From Brit-folk dream-weaver Nick Drake to free-jazz action-guitarist Rudolph Grey his influences tend towards the daring and his ability to synthesize these experimental elements into intriguing treats is the cornerstone of his revered standing among the adventurous. A restless spirit through and through Chasny has written for underground films and audiobooks, banded together with like-minded players from sonic noise-makers Comets on Fire to the recent jangle-folk poets The New Bums and forged a fondness for left-hand turns and abstract catastrophes into a solid body of trail-blazing amplified six-string bewilderment.

When reviewing his musical wanderlust in a phone conversation, a modest Chasny admitted to MAXIMUM INK he feels super-lucky to have been granted a life that nurtures his curiosity as well as provide him with so many talented friends. Although he also admitted his latest experiment became a Six Organs project somewhat by default when some of his friends declined to answer the emails he sent discussing his musical theories regarding computation science, game theory and paradigm shifts. Others of course were intrigued. Setting a deadline to transform his Hexadic pre-compositions into recorded songs, proactive procrastinator Chasny tackled this challenge enlisting drummer Noel Von Harmononson as what he called the signal-giver, and bassists Rob Fisk and Charlie Saufley. A behemoth work, the resulting whale-swallowing album will not surprise long-time fans who appreciate Chasny’s meta tendencies, but still manages to open up new abstract territories.

Citing the Surrealist parlor games of unmediated chance from the twenties as inspiration, Chasny invented a means to randomly assign tonal fields and intervals using an ordinary deck of playing cards to outline what notes were fair game and in what time span they could be played. As the cards were dealt into six sections he called it the Hexadic System and assembled thirty or so song ideas over several years. Chasny refers to the system as a contemplative exercise that blossoms under scrutiny and takes on different lives depending on the individual player. When asked whether the System helped break writer’s block he said he’s never really had a problem creating new music, but was looking to shake things up and discover combinations a conscious approach would never have unveiled.

Whereas the system’s guiding rules still allowed for major interpretation, the Hexadic album employs the initial event as a compositional launch-pad that could be ridden in any number of directions. While his original demos were acoustic in nature Chasny was interested in swinging these sounds into rawer, more electric realms. Chasny clarifies, “this recording was as much about pushing things out of their comfort zone as writing charts based on a game.”  The resulting effort is a spiraling ride through amorphous textures, deep-sixing roaring distortion inside intergalactic atmospheres; unpredictable and challenging, but oddly alluring and endless fascinating.

Touring the country to bring, “Hexadic,” on stage, Chasny plans to deliver a live version of the studio recording along with songs from, “Ascent,” but isn’t interested in bringing out the playing cards for live demonstrations. The finished product, he emphasizes, came from concerted interpretations of his acoustic demos. Crediting each player for their contributions Chasny is very happy with the results and is eager to work the material live. Never one to rest on their laurels, the barrier-breaking Six Organs of Admittance play Madison’s The Frequency April 22nd.


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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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Dead Rider

Dead Rider

An interview with Todd Rittmann
by Dan Vierck
March 2015

Dead Rider Will Take You Where They Want to Go.

When I asked guitarist and vocalist of Dead Rider, Todd Rittmann, if there was a slogan or marketing pitch for their next release, a 7” single on Drag City records, he said ‘No.’

2014’s Chills on Glass (Drag City) is a dark behemoth. It’s an album that leads you somewhere you’re not sure you want to go. The music beckons and roils. Each song has an echo of familiarity, but they all tumble from beginning to end inside a horror movie fun house kaleidoscope. Rittmann’s voice is dry but with a bite; a little bitter with pronounced hops if you’re a beer person. When a song or the album is over, if nothing else, you’ll have a great story to tell your grandchildren.

The quartet assembled around 2009, and released two albums on Tizona Records previous to Chills on Glass. Rittmann is the lynchpin member, joined by Andrea Faught on keys and trumpet, Thymme Jones on keys, and Matt Espy on percussion. They are an incredibly tight unit, capable of the tightest grooves and the most intense, purposeful slash and burn noise barrages. Dead Rider’s music is not the soundtrack to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but they might be a band born of that world. Intellectual by design, they retain primitive but carefully considered inconsistencies in their execution. If David Byrne were possessed by the ghost of Kurt Cobain, Dead Rider would be the best case scenario for any music that came from that. If the devil himself were sauntering up to you, playing good cop, swinging hand cuffs of fire around his long ashy finger, Dead Rider would be the soundtrack to that scene in your biopic. Rittmann seems to have rationalized his tumult and harnessed but not broken his neurosis. The heat of the music is pure, but it is also incredibly focused.

Rittmann was kind enough to talk with me about the history and momentum behind the band, as well as what he hopes an audience gets from a performance.

Maximum Ink: You said in another interview that you want to drive the audience crazy. Where does that come from?
Todd Rittmann: People need to be woken up and driven crazy. There’re too many things in this world that massage your expectations, and we’re not into fulfilling your expectations.

MI: Are there things you won’t do in Dead Rider? And is it because you don’t want to, or because you don’t think the audience would appreciate it?
TR: We don’t do a lot of thinking about what the audience – in quotes – might prefer to hear. I think that’s an artistic trap, and it’s not even our motivation for doing this in the first place. We just want to blow our own minds. Generally we’ll steer away from things we’re already familiar with and super-comfortable with. We’re trying to take everyone in a ride out of their comfort zone – including ourselves. But I don’t want to paint the picture like we’re creating completely abstract noise. We like to keep one foot in that traditional rock form, and that helps provide some contrast and a jumping off point for some of the other ideas.


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Devil To Drag Vs. Eddie Ate Dynamite

Madcity Nights - March 2015

Show previews in Madison, Wisconsin for March 2015
by Max Ink
March 2015

Previews of shows all over the Madcity throughout March and early April


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Joshua Garner's Quietrise

Quietrise

This month digital magician Joshua Garner talks about some of his favorite things
by John Noyd
February 2015

A primal intelligence haunts knob-twiddling riddler Joshua Garner’s ambient loops, introspective lyrics and home-built samples. Supporting soul-searching moods among left-field grooves, Garner’s slippery cyber-folk fusions transport outstanding mechanical insanity into enlightened nightmare-pop armories whose rambling phantoms surf electric byways littered in sonic mysteries. As Quietrise, Joshua is a prolific manipulator of sound and scene, with last year’s, “Anhedoniac,” aptly capturing sharp, subterranean beats reaching beneath bubbling hypno-cathartic starkness to conjure entrancing alien landscapes shaped by random humanity. Joshua was kind enough to set aside some time to answer this month’s five favorites.
MAXIMUM INK: Who’s your favorite “out there” artist and why?
JOSHUA GARNER: It would have to be Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin. His material is so complex and deliberate. You can listen to Selected Ambient Works volume 2 in the background for almost any occasion, as long as its chill. You then have to take a sharp left hand turn to get the complexities of Drukqs and put up with a little noise, but understand that he placed the notes just so. You have the great listen-ability of tracks like Windowlicker and Come to Daddy…and most recently Minipops 67 from Syro. Then you have Rubber Johnny, which is an amazing little music video/film in and of itself. You have the great piano pieces peppered throughout his works. He releases tracks from his storehouse on soundcloud in an almost overwhelming flood-like way, and at the same time an ALMOST ALBUM surfaces from the early 2000’s with Caustic Window LP. This guy just keeps us guessing. I truly believe that RDJ’s “b” material could outperform most electronic music today. And this guy doesn’t make much “b” material.

MI: Do you have a favorite film that puts into images what you try to put into sounds?

JG: “Waking Life” is a fantastic journey into the world of dreams. Its philosophy meets cell shading meets the odd cameo. It tries to get into the heart of dreams and lucid dreamers, and it does an amazing job for only being an hour and a half long. I feel that the way this film approaches life….by stripping away the realities like layers of an onion…it tries to make sense of the nonsensical. The musings of the protagonist as he weaves his way through the dream state are like my musings on life in the relationship sense. I like to focus on relationships, not just romantic ones, but those are especially good cannon fodder for the writing process. This movie connects us as a people on a whole new level, and I try to do the same with my music.

MI: What’s your favorite line when people ask you how you ended up in Wisconsin from Pennsylvania?

JG: I was looking for a better audience for my electro-folk music, and I had heard of “Reverence” the electronic music festival, held annually here in Madison, so I thought this area would be a good fit. But really, it’s all about the cheese curds, Badgers, and lots of water sports!

MI: What’s that favorite piece of gear you just can’t do without?

JG: My Roland SP-555 sampler, it is the heart of my rig and is so versatile. From live looping, to programming patterns, and effects on the fly it has been a workhorse. I actually bought 2 at one point to act as a turntable mixing back and forth setup. I keep finding new ways to utilize this beast.

MI: Have you found a favorite place to refuel your creative juices?

JG: My wife and I are big on camping, kayaking, and hiking and so we have begun to explore the state during the warmer months. Lake Geneva was quite a wonderful experience, Devils Lake is always nice, but you just can’t beat Lake Wingra for a smooth and close place to mellow out. I like to just let my hands drift in the water with the sun on my face and inside my head I am composing bleeps and bloops galore!

Joshua’s electronic alter-ego Quietrise play Mother Fool’s Coffeeshop March 27th


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