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Eli Mattson

Eli Mattson

An interview with Wisconsin Singer/Songwriter Eli Mattson
by Tina Hall
December 2010

Eli Mattson is best known as the runner-up on season three of America’s Got Talent (AGT). The following interview was done around September 2009 (before the interview that ran on here … for a magazine that never went to press). Seeing as it is so very hard to find an artist that does deserve to be praised for their talent as much as this one, I thought the readers of Maximum Ink might like to see this interview (a prequel of sorts). Eli is a Wisconsin native who has been performing as a pianist and vocalist since the age of fourteen. He has made several guest appearances in Las Vegas with AGT winner Terry Fator. He has four albums to date and talent to spare. He recently performed along with several other musicians in the Tim Janis Christmas Carol at Carnegie Hall.

Maximum Ink: Where are you from and when did you first take an interest in music and why? When did you take up the piano?
Eli Mattson:  I was originally born in Duluth, MN, but my family moved around a lot. We came to Wisconsin when I was about ten, and I was in Door County off and on most of the time. I can’t really say why I took an interest in music. It just always made sense to me. I started playing the piano when I was five, and I fell in love with it. I can’t imagine it not being a part of me.

MI: Who are some of your biggest musical influences and why?
EM: Well, Elton John and Billy Joel of course, but I really love all music. I think it’s important to listen and learn everything you can from any artist out there, especially when you’re trying to be one. Some other names would be, Jimmy Newquist, Alice in Chains, Harry Chapin, just to name a few. Good music is good music!


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D.D Verni

Bronx Casket Co.

An interview with rocker D.D Verni
by Tina Hall
December 2010

Bronx Casket Co. was originally formed by Overkill bassist D.D Verni. The current line up consists of Jack Frost (guitar), D.D. Verni (bass/guitar/lead vocals), Charlie Calv (keyboards), and Rob Pallotta (drums). With four albums to their credit the band has quiet a cult following. Their sound has been described as Goth Metal.

The bands second release caught the eye of Andrea Lepcio. Bronx Casket Co., A Musical was the end result. The cast featured members from Hairspray, Rent,Dance of the Vampire, and several members from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Though still in the writing stages several shows have been performed off Broadway for producers/backers. It features a Gothic/Broadway themed soundtrack with a twisted love story throughout. It also includes the music from the first two Bronx Casket Co. albums as well as 13 new tracks by Verni. Recently signed to E1 their latest album is due out soon.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell our readers a little about your background? Where are you from? How did coming from where you do influence your musical stylings?
D.D Verni: I am from Jersey, born and raised. Lived in Manhattan for a lot of years and then moved back into Jersey where I live now. I was raised on Metal…early Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, before that Ted Nugent and Aerosmith, Kiss….never really listened to any other kinds of music, don’t really listen to a lot of different music even now…99% of everything I listen to is some kind of metal…it’s just the music I have always loved.


James Kottak


An interview with Kottak Vocalist/Guitarist/ Scorpions drummer, James Kottak
by Tina Hall
December 2010

Rocker James Kottak is best known as the drummer for Scorpions, which he joined in 1996. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, he has certainly come a long way since his days in the land of baseball and whiskey.

Beside performing on over 130 albums and dvd’s, and numerous tours with the Scorps, he has his own band Kottak. The latest Kottak CD titled Rock & Roll Forever is out now.

Maximum Ink: When did you first know you had to become a musician?
James Kottak: I saw a cover band at my sister’s school when I was in 5th grade and they played Stairway To Heaven. I immediately wanted a drum set, got one, and was obsessed. I also played trumpet from 4th grade on thru college.

MI: Who were some of your earliest influences?
JK: Led Zeppelin of course, Grand Funk Railroad (Live album), The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper).  By the way I just saw the Beatles, Love show in Vegas, Amazing!


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Les Paul holding a copy of Maximum Ink backstage at the Iridium Jazz club in New York City - photo by Otto Schamberger


An interview with director and creator of Launchpad Dennis Graham
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

“Some of the best original music today comes from high school garage bands.” –Les Paul

The Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is about to kick off the seventh year of the one of a kind music competition called Launchpad, using the same idea that the late great Les Paul personified in his quote. Launchpad is a statewide alternative music competition for high school students in bands formed outside of the traditional music classroom. Maximum Ink caught up with director and creator of the competition, Dennis Graham to talk about how the competition got started and where he sees it heading in the coming years.

Maximum Ink: Tell us about how Launchpad got started.

Dennis Graham: I was approached by the WSMA, which presents this program, seven years ago to talk about raising awareness on raising funds for them. As a result of my discussions with Michael George, the current Executive Director of the WSMA, and I brought up a couple ideas and the first was to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize people who had a successful music career and were also impacted by a music teacher. The first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Wisconsin was given to Les Paul. I hand delivered a letter that I wrote, which was signed by Governor Doyle, to Les inviting him back to Wisconsin (He hadn’t been back in twenty years.) October 27th, 2004 was Les Paul Day in the State of Wisconsin and it was just a marvelous day of honoring him. Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band), Les’ godson, came out and was part of it as well.


Subatomic - Cover design by Ian Chalgren - photo by Rökker


An interview with Subatomic
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

We listen to music to feel something, to relate to something or to just plain have fun. And it’s becoming harder and harder to find a local band that you can listen to and just plain enjoy yourself. No corporate puppetry or influence laced through what could be and should be killer music. That’s why when we came across Subatomic it was something extremely refreshing. Their jam-oriented sound with catchy riffs and groovy basslines is just plain good music. Maximum Ink caught up with the hard rock groove trio to talk about their music and how they got their start.

Maximum Ink: Tell me about the history of the band. Where did you get started? When did you all start playing and writing music?
Bryan Moll (Guitarist/Vocals): Jim and I have been playing together since grade school and about 15 years ago, we got to know Sparko (Mark Dvorak-Drums).  So over the years the three of us have worked together on different projects, with different folks in a variety of bands, but the true version of subatomic came into being in 2006, when we began writing music together.

MI: Describe your music to someone who has never seen/hear it before.
Jim Roof (Bass): It’s our motto: Hard rock groove jams!




An interview with bassist Dan Maines
by Tina Hall
January 2011

The members of Clutch come from Maryland and West Virginia. Metal fans may have caught them this past summer on the Berzerkus Tour Festival with Black Label Society. The band is situated to have a busy year. They are set to tour with metal legends Motorhead. Furthermore, Clutch and their record label Weatherrmaker Music are currently putting the finishing touches on the deluxe, double disc re-issue of their classic album “Blast Tyrant.” This limited edition release includes 25 total songs, over 97 minutes of music, brand new artwork, and a 10 track bonus disc with four new songs.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your background and where you are from? How do you think it has influenced your musical taste and style? When did you first know you wanted to become a musician?
Dan Maines: The four of us started playing music together in high school back in 1989. Growing up in the D.C. area exposed us to some great music like Fugazi, Bad Brains, and The Obsessed, as well as go-go bands like Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. My brother had given me a Bad Brains cassette back in ‘87, which I wore out with the quickly. When I saw them play the 9:30 club, I was blown away and knew I wanted to be a part of that, so I bought a bass guitar.

MI: Who where some of your greatest influences?
DM: At the time the band formed, I was listening to a lot of heavy punk stuff like Nomeansno, Melvins, and Bad Brains. Eventually Jack Bruce, Geezer, and John Paul Jones were always in the back of my mind. I consider Charles Mingus to be the greatest bass player of all time.


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