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

Livewire in Concert

Livewire in Concert

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.

Maximum Ink: What brought you guys together in the first place? What bands did you gel on?
Justin: Ryan and I originally started playing together in High School doing mostly classic rock covers- we played a lot of Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses, and blues-infused rock.
Ryan: It really all started on Tennis court. Justin came up to me, asked if I knew how to play drums, and then asked if I wanted to join a band. I accepted his offer without much hesitation or idea what might actually come about, but look where we are today!
Emma: Prior to this band, I was apart of an all girl band called Femme Fatale and Justin learned from that that I was a good bassist, and a little grungy. (laughs)

MI: What was the thing that struck you the most about classic hard rock?
Justin: It’s just sexy… The drive, the emotion- it’s a lot of fun to play, and is a good center of gravity of all our separate influences. Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” was the song that turned me on to rock and roll, and its impact has stuck with me since.
Ryan: For me, classic rock just seems so raw and well suited for the live stage. I’m a huge heavy metal guy, especially with the super technical stuff… Classic rock, however, I feel like when you get rid of all the production and get into that live setting it really flourishes. It’s the impurities, slight out of tempo hits, wet distorted guitars, etc… that make rock really come alive.
Emma: It gave birth to so much more in the music industry. And there are wonderful songs that came from and give soul and feeling to the music, or sometimes just silly fun.

MI: What inspired the title of “She’s A Storm”?
Justin: The song is sort of personifying music, or whatever art form someone is pursuing. The idea of writing great songs or playing great shows, to me, has felt sort of like vieing for an elusive girls attention, and that came out in the song as courting a very tempermental, almost dangerous endeavor. I also just thought it sounded cool. (laughs)

MI: Why do you guys think that this song best represents your vision? Why is it the single?
Justin: Especially when we play it live, this song has always had a lot of energy and passion behind it. Charles pulls out some awesome solos, and Emma and Ryan create a really heavy, powerful foundation. The various sections of the song allow us to flirt with a range of dynamics, and showcase different instruments throughout.

MI: What can people expect from a Livewire live show? Nasty details, please.
Justin: Well, first, a lot of sweat haha.. But really just a lot of energy- we ‘leave it all on the field’, so to speak. Charles will usually tell a stupid joke or two (highlight of the show). Sometimes someone takes their pants off. But a lot goes into planning each show, from the Laser Harp, to the various transitions, we aim to create a memorable show each night we play.
Ryan: Loud noises! Lots of loud noises hopefully playing in unison haha. Justin definitely isn’t one to pass up turning up the amps to really shake peoples ribs…You will also see some pretty awkward dance moves. We were all blessed with musical abilities… but unfortunately were not blessed with the ability to dance.
Charles: A lot of sweat, solos, chest hair, nudity, and crazy contraptions that make sweet sounds!

MI: What’s your dream gig?
Justin: Personally, I’ve always thought the Hollywood Bowl is the ultimate. That ampitheater is incredible, and everyone from The Rolling Stones to Pink Floyd and so many more have graced that stage. But really, any show that the audience is having a good time is perfect for us.
Ryan: My dream gig would be a gig that I actually get to use my own drum set haha. It’s always a slightly stressful experience having to acclimate to a new set while performing.

MI: Anything you need to get off your chest?
Ryan: Something big to get off my chest about music. Stop pirating music people. Musicians work their assess off to produce the music you take for granted. Also, don’t hate a genre of music until you tried it. I hated dubstep and only until I tried to make a song, out of spite mind you, did I realize how much fun and difficult it was.

And to check out their new video and listen to more Livewire music, just visit

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