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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.




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.


2086 ViewsPermalinkLevRage Website
Ellen Kempner of 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.


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.


2078 ViewsPermalinkMascot Theory Website
Go Play God


An interview with Madison hard rockers, Go Play God
by Mike Huberty
November 2015

Sludgy and aggressive, GO PLAY GOD, is vintage hard rock that borrows a little from grunge like ALICE IN CHAINS, a little from classic heavy metal like BLACK SABBATH, and sounds a lot like a more modern version of GODSMACK.


2214 ViewsPermalinkGO PLAY GOD Website
Naked Raygun

Naked Raygun

A candid conversation with singer Jeff Pezzati
by Sal Serio
November 2015

Fans of the regional Upper-Midwest punk rock scene, whether young and still stage-diving in to the mosh pit, or the “senior scenesters” who had been there the first time around and are content to enjoy concerts from the bar stool in the back of the hall, are all quite familiar with the name Naked Raygun. The tuneful but edgy punk rock legends have been at it since 1980, and since reforming in recent years to play Chicago’s premier event Riot Fest, are proving that they haven’t lost any of that energy and electricity. With a new album in the works, singer Jeff Pezzati spoke with Maximum Ink’s Sal Serio about their upcoming December 4th appearance at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall.


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