Friday, September 10, 2010

INTERVIEW: John Oates of Hall & Oates

by Chad Cooper - April, 2009

There’s not much that hasn’t already been written about the most successful music duo in rock history — Daryl Hall and John Oates.

Over 80 million records sold worldwide, with eight No. 1 hits and 29 songs that reached the Top 40, including “Rich Girl,” “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” “Out of Touch” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”

The two actually met in 1967 when they both ran for cover in an elevator to escape gunfire by gangs in Philadelphia. A mere 42 years later, Hall and Oates continue to record and tour behind their patented blue-eyed soul sound.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, the duo shows no signs of stopping. We caught up with John Oates via telephone from Aspen, Colo., where he was taping a television program.

What’s the secret to your success?
Real simple. Write a better song and get a better record contract. It was incremental goals and that’s how we really approached it and believe it or not, that’s how we still approach it today. The fame and success was a byproduct of working hard and what we did.

It took nearly four albums to get that first hit. Any frustration?
When you are young, you want everything to happen yesterday. We were there mentally but by the same token, it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t have success right out of the box. The first three albums were distinctively different; Whole Oats (folk, singer/songwriter), Abandoned (acoustic), War Babies was a full rock album. The Silver Album was kind of like a collaboration of all three. That was the first time our sound became identifiable. We took over production of our own music and that’s when everything changed and we began to hit our stride. The decade of the 70s was preparing us for the 80s.

Why did you decide to cover “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers?
It was an after thought. After we thought the Voices album was done, we had a listening party. Back then after you made an album, you had a get-together for the record company with friends and family. You debut the album to get them jazzed up a bit. We did that and sat back and felt something was missing. It was a great album but one element was missing. We didn’t know what element but knew there should be one more song. After the party, we went to eat at a local restaurant and that song came on in the diner. We looked at each other and thought wow, that’s it. Went back to the studio and played and recorded it and finished it in one day.

The song “Every time You Go Away” was a hit single by Paul Young yet you guys wrote it. Any regrets?
Not at all. If you listen to our original, it’s like an old stack of R&B songs and that’s how we heard that song, in that style. We pay homage to our roots and that was important to us. They heard it as a pop song and it became a huge hit for him. The song was so good you could do it anyway you want.

Were you surprised “Maneater” was your biggest radio hit?
We had a good feeling about that one. We both were notoriously bad at picking hit singles but that one just jumped out. It captures a mood, musically and lyrically, of New York City in the 80s. Lean, sparse, edgy, new wave meets pop. It was perfectly suited for the time.

Was it weird that “Say It Isn’t So” came out at the same time Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson released “Say, Say, Say”?
The deejays had fun with it. Interesting story on this song was the dance version of this song became a No. 1 record. That was in the beginning of the club mixes. Producers were taking songs and turning them into club and dance mixes. That was the first one of ours that was mixed. ‘Out of Touch’ was also a big dance remix hit; so was ‘I Can’t Go for That.’

You are into auto racing. Why so?
As a little kid, I was a race fan. My friend’s dad ran a hot dog stand at a local dirt racetrack that I used to go to in the 50s. I saw Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo, race jalopies. Back in the late 70s, I was making a little money and I went to the Hampton’s and saw a little track there and began doing some racing. I took driving schools in England and here in the U.S. and began doing amateur races, Formula 4, sports cars, then Endurance Series in the 80s. I did Daytona (24 hours), and began some professionally, but I never considered dropping music. I still enjoy it and take my son out there and go to NASCAR and Indy.

Jon Stewart asked you to be on his show to make fun of Alan Colmes of Hannity and Colmes. How’d that come about?
Well, they called us when Colmes was leaving the Hannity and Colmes show on Fox News and they wanted to do a tribute so we did a spoof of ‘She’s Gone.’ We are big fans of Stewart and I didn’t realize how much work he puts in to it. He’s there at 8 a.m., writes all day and then he directs the show.

Plenty of rap/hip-hop groups sample your songs. You down with that?
Oh yeah, it’s cool. It goes back to songwriting that has a timeless quality to the songs. They still work and reach people. Part of it is the groove, part of it is the hook. We look at it kind of as a tribute.

What’s your take on the music industry today?
I don’t think very much of it. I am happy to see the old business dying. It will now give the artists the opportunity to be creative and do whatever they want. The Internet is both a blessing and curse.

So what’s left for Hall and Oates?
We represent a lifetime of music. We have legacy and a fan base and a lot of people we feel responsible to, to uphold the hard work and the years we put in. I am doing some independent stuff. I have a solo project called ‘Story Behind the Songs.’ It is a songwriter series. I taped it live in Aspen (Colorado). I want to nurture young songwriters. I enjoy that process and that’s very important to me. For me, it’s all about creativity. It’s about songwriting. I am more appreciative of the art and craft of songwriting as I’ve gotten older. We made good records but the reality of it was the songs. Now my goal is to write songs that are meaningful.

Official Hall & Oates Website
Hall & Oates Myspace
Click here to purchase Hall & Oates music

INTERVIEW: Theory of a Deadman

by Chad Cooper - October, 2008

Lead singer Tyler Connally said it was purely “awesome” that his band’s hit record “Bad Girlfriend” was blowing up the radio airwaves across the country.

According to Radio and Records trade magazine, the song that was once No. 1 has been in the top 25 for 21 consecutive weeks and currently sits No. 2 on the Active Rock charts, getting more than 1,600 spins per week behind Metallica’s “The Day That Never Comes.”

Connally said the group originated in British Columbia, Canada, then roared onto the scene back in 2002 after he handed Chad Kroeger, the lead singer of Nickelback, a demo after a concert. Kroeger, who had created his own record label with Roadrunner Records called 604, signed the band but they needed a band name.

“We recorded a song called ‘Theory of a Deadman’ and we changed the name of that song,” said Connally. “We got signed by the label and needed a name so we picked Theory of a Deadman. Back then we were a lot younger and our music was a little harder so the name was cool and it stuck.”

The name may be a little unusual but “Bad Girlfriend” isn’t. Off the band’s third album, Scars & Souvenirs, the single can be heard frequently on Big Dog 106, cell phone ringtones and thousands of Myspace pages but this isn’t their first rodeo. Often referred to as TOADM, the band has had success with other singles including active rock top 10 hits “Nothing Could Come Between Us,” “No Surprise” and “So Happy.”

Several of TOADM’s songs have been featured on video games such as American Chopper, NASCAR 09 plus the band performed “Deadly Game” live at WWE’s No Way Out pay-per-view in 2006 and later recorded “No Chance In Hell,” the theme song for WWE owner Vince McMahon, and the song landed on WWE The Music, Vol. 8. Connally added that getting hooked up with the WWE was a great opportunity because wrestling is huge.

“Jim Johnston heads up all the music at the WWE and he happens to be a big fan of ours and the rest is history,” he said.

To add to their popularity, TOADM will return to their native country and perform at halftime of the 96th Grey Cup in late November, which is the Canadian Football League’s version of the NFL’s Super Bowl.

“Now that’s pretty awesome,” said Connally. “So we are already thinking about a wardrobe malfunction.”

Recording hit records and gaining popularity are one thing, but how does it translate into their live gigs?

“We’ve been told that our live shows are very comparable to the CD,” said Conally. “We just get on stage and push play on the tape and just dance around,” he added with a laugh.

“Just kidding, Hannah Montana. No, really, it’s a great compliment to our sound guy but it’s more dynamic,” he said, then attempted to describe their live shows. “We do a lot of crowd participation. We like to rock out and move around. We’ve been on tour for a long time now and opened for a bunch of big acts, so it was our job to get the crowd going and motivated. We were new and people were like ‘Theory of a what?’ so we had to do a lot to get these people’s attention and we’ve learned a lot and we just carry that over to our headlining set.”

Official Theory of a Deadman Website
Theory of a Deadman Myspace
Click here to purchase Theory of a Deadman music


by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

If you were a fan of rock music in the 1980s, then you know Tesla.

True old-school rock fans remember “Modern Day Cowboy,” “Gettin’ Better,” “Love Song” and, of course, the remake of “Signs,” originally performed by the Five Man Electrical Band.

Four of the original five members are back, including lead singer Jeff Keith. Several brief reunion shows and nearly 25 years later, Tesla returns with a new album, “Forever More.”

“Man, the love of music still drives this band,” said Keith. “We still have a blast doing it and it’s all about the fun.”

In 1994, the boys from Sacramento took a break because lead guitarist Tommy Skeoch, who is the lone member that didn’t return, had to deal with personal problems – namely, drug issues.

“We really didn’t want to break up in the first place,” said Keith. “It kind of just happened.”

Keith explained Tesla continued as a four-piece band and had hoped that Skeoch would join back up with his band mates and when that failed to occur, Tesla finally broke up in 1995.

“We then got back together thanks to a DJ in Sacramento named Pat Martin,” said Keith. “Me and Tommy were playing in another band at the time, but there still was a lot of animosity, but we were able to bury the hatchet.”

Tesla then recorded their fifth album, Into the Now, but soon after, Skeoch hit the brakes and left for the second and final time. The band continued on and replaced him with Dave Rude and Keith said they didn’t miss a beat.

After some touring in Europe, Tesla signed with an independent label and went back into the studio with producer Terry Thomas, who produced the band’s fourth album, Bust a Nut.

Keith said they wanted to bring Thomas back in because they felt they didn’t give him a fair shot.

“We were so out there with Bust a Nut we felt that wasn’t our best effort so we wanted to work with him again,” said Keith. “Everything we do now, we are clean and sober so things are tighter than ever.”

The new album also gave the rock legends a chance to get back to doing what they do best without all the corporate hassle.

“Unlike the big labels, every ounce of energy and every penny goes into the band,” said Keith. “You don’t sell as many records but it’s more satisfying. You are able to choose what you do opposed to fighting the label over the music if they don’t like what you do.”

For instance, Tesla’s only top 10 single they wrote was “Love Song,” but their label, Capital Records, didn’t want it released.

“They said it was just three great parts,” said Keith. “I said ‘what’s the format then, Conway Twitty?’ We fought for it and we won. Now we are able to put out what we want.”

Official Tesla Website
Tesla Myspace
Click here to purchase Tesla music

INTERVIEW: The Toadies

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

The Toadies are back. They are out from underneath the corporate umbrella and have signed with an independent label and are free to do what they want.

Despite breaking up nearly seven years ago, the boys of Fort Worth have done more than getting back together for a reunion show. They are out from underneath the corporate umbrella and have signed with an independent label and are free to do what they want.

“We are not stuck under that big corporate record label that doesn’t know what to do with us,” said guitarist Clark Vogeler. “They are not stymieing our career as opposed to helping it and that was what was going on in 2000.”

The story began in 1989 when Vaden Todd Lewis and Lisa Umbarger met while working together at a record store in Fort Worth. They both liked the same music, so Todd taught her how to play bass and they started a band called The Toadies together.

After making several demos in his bedroom, the group signed a deal with Interscope Records and released Rubberneck in 1994 that produced the hits “Possum Kingdom,” “Tyler,” “Away,” and “I Come From the Water.” It sold 500,000 copies within a year, gaining gold status and went over the 1 million platinum mark in 1996.

After going through two guitar players, Vogeler joined the band in 1996 and they toured like crazy in support of their successful debut album.

Then trouble began with the record label. After the tour, they went into the studio and recorded Feeler but Interscope canned the album and the band grew frustrated and had to take a break. When they finally returned to the studio, Vogeler said they used some songs from that recording and created their second official major release, Hell Below/Stars Above in early 2001.

They began the tour but Umbarger left the group and the band broke up just five months after their second release.

During the breakup, Lewis and Rev. Horton Heat drummer Taz Bentley formed the Burden Brothers, drummer Mark Reznicek joined a country act called Eleven Hundred Springs and Vogeler moved to California and went to film school.

“I moved to Los Angeles and studied editing,” he said. “I’ve done some TV, documentary and music editing the last couple of years.”

The Burden Brothers released two albums and toured for years and the Toadies reunited March 11, 2006 for a one-night show then played a few more gigs here and there. Vogeler thought they were going to do a few shows but Lewis parted ways with his band and called him and Reznicek in August of 2007.

“He (Todd) started writing songs and said they sounded like the Toadies,” said Vogeler. “He told me and Rez he had these songs and wanted to know if we wanted to do an album. It was good timing.”

The band signed a deal with indie label Kirtland Records and recorded No Deliverance, which was released in August.

“Working with an indie label, they let us do what we want and that’s a great position for us,” said Vogeler. “Todd has found his way. He can sit down and bust out a song in one day. Back then, we had to work through some things but this shows on the new record. This is a straight-ahead, rock-n-roll album. We were focused, it’s simple and we wanted to keep it raw.”

But after seven years, will there be a warm reception waiting for them? Before the new album, you could catch a Toadies’ song on the radio or even play along with “Possum Kingdom” on the video game Guitar Hero II.

Vogeler said the group has been touring and the fans have been nothing short of great. “They (fans) continue to drive us,” he said. “They kind of got us off our asses and back into the studio. We started playing a few Texas shows here and there and we were completely blown away by their enthusiasm they have maintained after we broke up. Our shows have been half the people our age and half of 18 to 25-year-olds that have never seen the band.”

Older and wiser, hopefully the days of breakups are long gone.

“We decided to just record the album, do a tour and just have fun,” said Vogeler. “It’s been a hundred times better than we could have imagined. We have some ideas for next year but beyond that, we want to play good music and have fun and that alone has been working for us, so we are going to stick with that.”

Official Toadies Website
Toadies Myspace
Click here to purchase Toadies music

Thursday, September 9, 2010


by Chad Cooper - November, 2008

For those who know Otep and her music, this show is just what the doctor ordered as it will be the group’s first trip to Beaumont. For those who don’t, check this story out.

Otep performed just four shows in Los Angeles in early 2001. At the last show, music industry mogul Sharon Osbourne was in the crowd and offered the band a spot on the coveted Ozzfest Tour. Record labels lined up to sign the band and Capital Records became the fortunate ones to gain musical rights.

Otep Shamaya, the singer, describes the group as “uncompromising collective of artistic bohemians with creative catharsis through art and music.” The blonde beauty is a true artist.

“I had the hunger to create things,” she said. “It sort of manifested itself in the beginning in the form of illustrating because I would draw, and draw, and draw. Then I wanted to put stories to the pictures. After that, I got into poetry and poetry performances, then eventually put the poetry to rhythmic music.” Her poetry was so powerful that she was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry.

Just eight years ago, she and a friend went to Ozzfest to watch the popular tour and she got a foul taste in her mouth watching a certain band.

“I don’t know the name of them but they were very crappy,” she said. “They were very disrespectful to the women in the crowd, then the fans started booing them so the band began drenching them with beer. I thought to myself, these guys don’t appreciate this opportunity so I looked at my friend and told him ‘this time next year, I will be playing on this very stage.’ He laughed and said I didn’t even have a band.”

But low and behold, Otep was on that very stage the following year. For those unfamiliar with the band, their shows have received rave reviews.

“People may not appreciate the loud dynamics but they may appreciate the artsy part of the show,” she said. “It’s about an emotional release. We relive the emotion that caused us to write those songs. My goal as an artist is to motivate and inspire, or provoke. If you come to an Otep show, I hope that is what we can give you.”

But Otep is not your average rock star. She’s a very outspoken individual who follows politics more closely than some of the politicians in office, landing her an invitation to speak in Denver at the Ballot Bash during the Democratic National Convention this past August.

“It was incredible,” she said. “Probably one of the most memorable moments of my life and it definitely wasn’t the audience of my demographic. I spoke on behalf of the Rock the Vote campaign and voter registration and why it mattered. Being informed and involved was no longer a necessity, but an act of defiance. It’s important to stay active and pay attention. Some people don’t believe their vote matters because of the electoral college. But, to some there are more important ballot issues on state measures that are by popular vote. After I spoke, everyone there came up to me and thanked me for what I did. It was a remarkable experience.”

Asked how she got so interested in politics, Otep explained that during her childhood, one parent was exceptionally conservative, almost a “McCarthyist” and the other parent was an idealistic Kennedy follower.

“I was bombarded by very extreme points of view,” she said. “My mind got inquisitive so I wanted to find out things and see which view was more fair and in my mind, what JFK said was usually right, which was the more practical matter. I loved the issues and enjoyed reading about it. Then I started listening to Rage Against the Machine, who brought attention to things that were important. Those issues were bigger than what other bands were speaking about.”

She encourages people to vote and you want to know whom she may have voted for president?

“After eight years of the worst administration of modern history, they’ve pillaged our natural resources, misused our military, basically gone away from the conservative plan on which they’ve ran, basically helping out their rich friends. We’ve seen the vice president expand his powers to dangerous levels, the economic crisis. Here we are with a chance to turn our ship in another direction. If the Bush policies aren’t stopped, this country will look even worse. If we care about maintaining our privacy rights, keeping jobs in America, giving healthcare to everyone, then get out and vote.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, she voted for Barack Obama.

“What I like about Obama is his ability to be cool,” she said. “When Hillary (Clinton) was throwing everything at him in the primaries, he stayed cool and calm. (John) McCain is throwing everything at him while he’s managing a great campaign and continues to roll on. You want someone who is running the country to stay cool and calm and not have this John Wayne shoot’em up diplomacy.”

Her thoughts on the war in Iraq?

“One of the things that keeps driving me insane is Democrats, or whatever you want to call them, have allowed the other side to define what a liberal is. They say we don’t like wars. We just don’t like fighting in stupid wars.”

Don’t be afraid of Otep. You may learn a little something from her.

Official Otep Website
Otep Myspace
Click here to purchase Otep music


by Chad Cooper - March, 2009

The band Red may not ring a bell to the average music listener. They’re not flashy nor do they use strange gimmicks to garner attention.

The group, who started off in the Christian music scene, has now crossed the proverbial mainstream line and is beginning to get the attention they deserve.

“For our purpose, we just wanted to be honest on who we were,” said guitarist Jasen Rauch. “So the fact that we were Christians, those things we were writing about were coming from that perspective and influence. We didn’t want to be boastful or preachy.”

It started some seven years ago when Rauch met vocalist Michael Barnes and a set of twins — Anthony and Randy Armstrong.

They all set their sites on Nashville — not as country musicians, but for a place to set up shop. Rauch said they all became roommates for a year or so and then the music became natural and not forced. With all that said, they had to settle on a name, which Rauch said was the hardest thing to do.

“Yes, that’s the worst process, ever,” he described. “We really wanted something that represented the music itself. It began with RED, the color of anger, then RED, the color of passion, blood, life and love. RED captures all of that pretty accurately.”

The group had a name, and then came the music, which really wasn’t geared directly towards the Christian genre.

“I was working in a recording studio as an engineer and most of my contacts were in the Christian music industry,” said Rauch. “We (the band) were all Christians and when it came time to write music, we didn’t write music as a platform or pedestal to get a message out. That wasn’t our purpose.”

After showcasing for several major record labels, RED signed with Essential, which is a subsidiary of Sony Music that rosters Christian bands. It was a perfect fit for Essential, said Rauch, and the band did not disappoint.

Their debut album came in 2006 as End of Silence was released and its first single, “Breathe Into Me,” won the “Rock Recorded Song of the Year” in 2007 at the GMA Dove Awards. If that wasn’t enough for the debut single, it climbed to No. 10 on the mainstream rock charts.

Two more singles were promoted over the airwaves and the band began touring with such Christian music acts such as Disciple, but also played with rockers Three Days Grace, Chevelle, Seether and Puddle of Mudd. They earned a Grammy nomination, “Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album,” and their debut album sold nearly 300,000 units. “That was the little record that could,” described Rauch. “It never really spiked, but just sold consistently for two years.”

After 500 live shows and narrowly escaping lifethreatening injuries when their van wrecked, causing then drummer Hayden Lamb to miss the remainder of the tour, RED released their sophomore album, Innocence & Instinct.

The album has been out a mere three weeks and three different singles are on three different charts. According to radio trade magazine Radio and Records, “Never Be the Same” is No. 6 on the Christian/CHR chart, “Fight Inside” is at No. 9 on Christian Rock and “Death of Me” currently sits at No. 22 on the Active Rock charts. “Fight Inside” debuted at No. 1 on the Christian Rock chart, which was a first. Radio and Records stated that RED became the first band in Christian rock history to have a song debut at No. 1.

“We really didn’t have any goals as far as numbers are concerned,” said Rauch of the new album. “It took us 13 months to turn the record because we were touring the entire time, but we couldn’t be more happier now. We are revved up. This is far more than we or the record company could have imagined. We are incredibly honored since we were so into the project.”

Thanks to Rauch, who composes most of the music, the band was able to get plenty of work done on the new record. “I have a full rig we carry with us on the road and it’s really like a full-time studio,” he said. “We have all these flow of ideas and game plans of new songs. They aren’t just my songs, but they are RED songs.”

Some music fans may categorize RED with Christian artists like Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Carmen and MercyMe, but that’s simply not the case. None of those artists would be asked to tour with the likes of Staind, Sevendust or Papa Roach, and the rock community has put up no resistance.

“We watched how we were carrying ourselves as we were crossing over,” said Rauch. “But the Christian market to mainstream wasn’t any different. We wanted to play the same shows and have the same intensity, regardless who we were playing for or what they believed. We don’t view what we are doing as an opportunity to recruit people.”

Rauch then used Sting as a further example. “You don’t see Sting as a Buddhist artist, even though I am sure his music is influenced some by, and that’s kind of where we are coming from. We are careful not to step on anyone’s toes or judge anyone we are on tour with.”

The adventure continues as RED finds shelter on both the mainstream rock and Christian music charts as their improbable crossover dreams continue.

Official Red Website
Red Myspace
Click here to purchase Red music


by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

Most national bands are used to the cycle of writing, recording then touring, but none may be able to compare to the work ethic of Seether. Four albums and continuous touring from the states to Europe are some of the many reasons why this guitar-driven foursome has sold over 5 million records.

“On the road again” doesn’t begin to describe them. They are fresh off a tour supporting Staind – they just played Ford Arena in November — and now they are off to the United Kingdom for 10 days before returning to the United States to support 3 Doors Down. That show hits Ford Arena on Feb. 6 before Seether departs on a three month spot on the Nickelback tour.

So is there a burnout factor?

“You do the best you can,” said guitarist Troy McLawhorn, who is the newest member since joining the group a year ago in February.

“Don’t get me wrong, we get burned out, but we love what we do,” he said. “But if you do the same thing each day it gets old.”

So fans who just saw Seether in Beaumont will likely hear a new setlist when the band comes back through town.

“We change it up and play songs we haven’t played in awhile,” he said. “It makes for a good show by mixing things up.”

The original group was founded in 1999 by singer Shaun Morgan in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa and began playing small venues in Cape Town. Morgan is the lone original member of Seether, a band that was once named Saron Gas but changed its name when they signed a major record deal with Wind-Up Records. Apparently the original name sounded too much like the nerve agent sarin gas, a particularly nasty chemical weapon.

A native of Fayetteville, N.C., McLawhorn met Morgan in 2002 when his band, Still Rain, opened for Seether, who had just released their first record, Disclaimer, which had a single called “Broken,” where Morgan shared vocals with a guest artist — his then — girlfriend Amy Lee of Evanescence.

McLawhorn then joined a band called doubleDrive and they were once again reunited with Seether on the road and yes, it happened again. The guitarist joined up with Dark New Day in 2005 and supported Seether on another run.

“I got to be good friends with Amy (Lee) through Shaun,” said McLawhorn. “Evanescence needed a guitarist and drummer on quick notice and Amy called and asked and I went on to finish the tour with her. As we finished, I saw Shaun and he and Dale (Stewart, bass) asked if I was interested in playing with them and I said yes.”

McLawhorn has yet to be involved in the recording process with Seether, but that will soon change. According to him, once the band finishes the tour with Nickelback, they plan to shut themselves in and begin the new album process.

“My drive comes from satisfaction from creating to performing,” he said. “In the studio, you get to be really creative and do things that you can’t do live. Performances are the other side of the coin and you get to approach it in a different way. Throw that on top of the fact I love to travel, it makes for a great life.”

Official Seether Website
Seether Myspace
Click here to purchase Seether music

INTERVIEW: Hoobastank

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

Their first two albums sold well over a million copies to give the band the status of platinum recording artists and their third sold over 500,000 units, certifying them as gold. But after selling lots of albums and non-stop touring around the globe, Hoobastank needed a break.

“We wanted to beat each other up,” laughed lead singer Doug Rabb from the beaches of Maui. “Not because we hated each other but we were together on a bus for so long we were just physically and mentally tired.”

The group, which has seen a few members come and go, has been at it since 1994. From the suburbs of Los Angeles, Hoobastank self-produced their first three albums then caught a break in 2001 when Island Records scooped them up.

The band’s first major release, self-titled Hoobastank, produced hits “Crawling in the Dark,” “Running Away” and “Remember Me.” The single “Losing My Grip” was picked to be on the “Scorpion King” movie soundtrack. Hoobastank later played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Then came The Reason. Their second album in 2003 sold over two million thanks to, in large part, the record’s second single, “The Reason.” Rabb said he and the group had no clue what the single was going to do.

“Not only did we not think it would blow up, but none of us thought that song was going to be a single,” he said. “It came out of leftfield.” Being a ballad, the single reached No. 1 across the board in different genres including modern rock, pop and adult rock and appeared on just about every MTV reality show known to mankind. The success of the single earned Hoobastank several Grammy nominations.

But don’t let the ballad fool you, Hoobastank likes to rock.

“That song doesn’t define us,” said Rabb. “If people think it does, then it’s laziness. If that’s the only song they know by us, that’s fine, but that’s not a smart definition of us.”

The band chugged along and released their third album, Every Man for Himself, in 2006 and then it was time to take a break.

“We need time away from the music world,” said Rabb. “We knew just write, record, tour. We were burned. Everything we were writing just didn’t feel right so we weren’t really happy with it. It forced us to take a step back and enjoy the normal life.”

And that they’ve done. The band from the West Coast has recorded a new album, and probably got in a few games of bowling. It’s titled For(N)ever and their first single “My Turn” is currently in the top 10 rock charts.

The new album is set for release in early 2009. As far as the music goes, Rabb claims not much has changed. “We never really sat down to make a conscience effort to change album to album, yet people have come up to us and say this is their favorite record and that they can hear the evolution of us.”

So what’s the deal with the letter ‘N’ in the album title?

“No hidden meaning or anything,” said Rabb. “After going through the songs, I noticed the majority of the songs deal with positive aspects of relationships so I was talking with our manager about forever and never and we comprised with For(N)ever.”

Hoobastank teamed with producer Howard Benson, who produced their last two albums, so expect the same great Hooba

“It’s still exciting,” said Rabb . “Thinking about the good shows we’ve done the last 10 years and to know we can accomplish that helps drive us. Besides having a couple of grays in my beard, our mental state is so different. We have recharged ourselves, which made us hungry again.”

So what’s left for Rabb and his two band mates to accomplish?

“Well, I wouldn’t mind taking a few of those Grammys,” he said. “It would be icing on the cake, but no really, if we can keep playing music and feel good about it, that’s all I could ask for.”

Official Hoobastank Website
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by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

The record companies told Pop Evil lead singer Leigh Kakaty they were looking for something new and different.

“I don’t remember when a lead singer, who is Indian, had a top 20 rock single,” said Kakaty. “If that’s not different, I don’t know what is.”

This four-piece rock band from Michigan has been around since the late 1990s, explained Kakaty, but it’s just recently that they have found national success with hit singles “Somebody Like You” and their current active rock hit, “100 in a 55.”

But they’re doing this without a major record company supporting them. Pop Evil is signed to Pazzo Records and, right now, Kakaty wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It doesn’t matter how many bowties, how many scarves, or tell us how to cut our hair, if it works then it works,” he said. “We have been taking a lot criticism from labels; ‘you don’t look like a lead singer, bass player needs to cut his hair.’ But whatever. There is something here and it’s working.”

But the million-dollar question is — what is Pop Evil?

“We all grew up in Grand Rapids, which was very conservative but we all listened to everything from Led Zeppelin to Tupac,” said Kakaty. “We grew up a product of that pop culture. Being a minority singer myself, it’s hard to find your place when you don’t look like Robert Plant or Tupac so whatever I was, I was above or below that norm. Pop Evil wasn’t about the name. It was about the lifestyle.”

It wasn’t the normal Michigan lifestyle either. The 27-year-old’s father is from India and his mother is Canadian.

He’s not the only one in the band with a distinct heritage.

Pop Evil also consists of Turkish, Mexican and Polish descents. Kakaty explained that the group came together late in the 90s as most were members of competing bands but once all came together, he wanted to do something different.

“I didn’t want to save money on the recording costs,” he said. “There are so many people that can make music these days by going down to the Guitar Center or Best Buy to get an 8-track machine and the next thing you know they are recording in their basement. You don’t meet anyone like that and this industry is based on relationships.”

The lead man then wanted his band to play covers, or songs recorded by other artists.

“Instead of making just 20 bucks a night, why don’t we suck it up, save money, play some covers and find a great producer and really go for it,” he said. “Instead of recording an album, let’s do three songs.”

Being from Michigan, Kakaty enlisted Al Sutton, whose credentials include Kid Rock, another Detroit native. “Our first song was ‘Somebody Like You’ and we then shot a video for that single,” he said. “We then went to our hometown radio station in Grand Rapids (97.9, WGRD) and just hounded them.”

The hounding worked as the single was added to their nighttime rotation in 2006. The song instantly drew rave reviews forcing the program director of WGRD to put the single into fulltime rotation.

After the song went No. 1 at the station, the PD asked for another song in 2007, “100 in a 55,” and that instantly became the local chart-topping hit. indie label Pazzo Records came in and snatched up Pop Evil and the boys hit the studio to record the album, Lipstick On The Mirror. The single “100 in a 55” was re-released and is currently in the active rock charts across radio America and “Somebody Like You” was also recently released to mainstream radio stations.

Pop Evil then left the Michigan area and began touring, supporting bands like Tesla, Puddle of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman and Saliva. Now, they have just started a tour of their own.

“It’s really insane,” explained Kakaty. “Everywhere we go the fans are going nuts. We are on our second single now and that’s crazy because some major record bands don’t have two singles.”

Kakaty added their shows are high energy and well worth the price of admission. “The economy is so bad, especially in Michigan, people don’t have $10 or $20 to waste on something they don’t get,” he said. “You play your instrument for nine hours on stage, you are going to get booed. You have to put on a show. From a national standpoint, Kid Rock and Eminem (another Detroit guy) spend a ton of money on their props, so whether you like them or not, they take you on a journey and that’s what we try to do. We don’t have that kind of money but we really try to do it right.”

Pop Evil has since added their DJ to the tour so there are no recorded tracks behind the music — the entire musical barrage is created right there on stage.

Official Pop Evil Website
Pop Evil Myspace
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INTERVIEW: Randy Rogers Band

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

Rolling Stone magazine, the Billboard music charts and hundreds of clubs across the country dig the sound of the Randy Rogers Band. The 30-year-old Cleburne, Texas native has assembled a group of musicians and have taken the Country music scene by storm with six albums and constant non-stop touring that, in 2007, generated more than $2.5 million in revenue, which is a big number for a country group that is not on mainstream radio.

“Everyday I wake up, I get the feeling this is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Rogers. “As far as being on stage, there is no feeling like it. We love being on the road and this is what makes our living. We all care about our families and work as hard as we can to provide for them. We bring a ton of energy to the stage and want people to jump up and down and spill beer on themselves, or at the same time go out on the dance floor and two step.”

Rogers is one of many artists that have taken over the college scene in the sub-genre of Country music called Texas Country. Some describe it as “Outlaw Country” but Rogers calls it music for the common man.

“We may not sound like traditional Country music but our songs are for the average man,” he said. “This style of music is an alternative. Most radio these days is geared to pop, teeny-bopper stuff.”

Rolling Stone described the band as a “must see” and USA Today explained his style as “loads of grit, swagger and heart.”

Rogers said the blueprint of success began at the age of 6 when he learned to play piano.

“At Christmas, everyone around the family always asked for musical instruments,” said Rogers. “I always wanted to start a band. For whatever reason, I really wanted to play music. My dad played guitar around the house and he and his buddies would gather around and play guitar and sing and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.”

So at the age of 13, Rogers wrote his first song called “Leave Me Behind,” which he describes as a sad love song.

“I was trying to be all grown up,” he said. “I had a ton of singer/songwriter influences. It was basically anyone my dad had a record of like Michael Martin Murphy, Beatles, ‘Stones, Cream, Willie, Merle and Glen Campbell.”

Those influences paid off in 2002 when Rogers and his band recorded an album in San Marcos, Live at Cheatham Street Warehouse, which was a bar in the college town. They then signed an independent deal and in 2005 released their second recording label titled Rollercoaster that dipped into the Billboard charts.

Co-produced by Radney Foster, that album raised eyebrows on Music Row and the label Mercury Nashville came calling and scooped them up.

In September of 2006, Rogers and his band released their first national record Just a Matter of Time and have since released Randy Rogers Band, which debuted No. 3 on the Billboard Country charts.

“The new record has been out several months and it’s a good representation of our band,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of outside influences from the label and that’s one thing the Randy Rogers Band is fortunate for — we get to make the records we want to make and a lot of other groups don’t have that opportunity.”

The list of Texas Country artists is long and is growing every day. From Pat Green to Cross Canadian Ragweed, it’s a musical phenomenon but don’t clump Rogers as your average artist.

“We’ve been together for about six years without changes,” he said. “Everything is split up evenly and we are all equal. Just because the drummer isn’t Randy Rogers doesn’t mean he gets less. We are a big family and that alone sets us apart. Every person that comes and sees us play, we want to give them their money’s worth. You know, at the age of 11, I knew I wanted to do this. When God gives you a talent, you make the best of it and I’m still trying to do that.”

Official RRB Website
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INTERVIEW: Earl Thomas Conley

by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

Earl Thomas Conley is 68 and by his standards he’s slowed down some, but he continues to perform numerous shows each year.

“Back in the day, I would do some 200 shows a year,” said Conley from his home in Smyrna, Tenn. “We don’t do as many any more, probably 60 or so. I ran into an old buddy from the Oak Ridge Boys the other day and they still do 100 or so, and I was like, oh man, no way.”

Many know that “ETC” charted more than 30 songs, 21 of which went to the top of the charts and of those 21, 18 were consecutive No. 1 singles.

Born in the small town of Portsmouth, Ohio, Conley said he grew up listening to the radio on Saturday nights. “I remember us all gathering around the radio and I loved me some Hank Williams.”

It was 1968 when Conley finally took the step towards pursuing a music career but he didn’t find instant success. After a stint in the Army, Conley moved to Huntsville, Ala. to get closer access to Nashville, the centerpiece of country music. He began writing songs, one of which became a hit for singer Mel Street, “Smokey Mountain Memories.”

Also during that span, Conley worked at a steel mill. “I worked in bars and clubs at night and worked seven days a week and even 10 hours on Sunday and I said I ain’t getting nowhere with this.” ETC was making just $15 dollars per gig so he quit the steel mill and began writing full time and finally made the move to Nashville.

After writing a No. 1 song, “This Time I’ve Hurt Her More Than She Loves Me,” for Conway Twitty, Conley began translating his own words and signed a record deal in 1979 with Warner Brothers. But after an album, Blue Pearl, failed to chart any singles, he signed with an indie label and released the song “Fire and Smoke,” which became an instant success and his first No. 1 hit.

“I wrote half that song while in Huntsville,” described Conley. “I had the verses to that song some two years before and when I moved to Nashville, I finally finished it.” RCA Records signed Conley and his career blew up faster than Bud did when he found out Sissy was riding the bull at Gilley’s.

Another five albums were released that included a greatest hits record with No. 1 singles such as “Somewhere Between Right and Wrong,” “Your Love’s on the Line,” “Angel in Disguise” and “Nobody Falls Like a Fool,” just to name a few.

In 1982, another one of Conley’s No. 1 tunes, “Holding Her and Loving You,” won a Grammy for Country Song of the Year. It was also the first time an artist had four No. 1 singles from one album.

It wasn’t just country as ETC teamed with Anita Pointer in 1986 and recorded “Too Many Times.” That song landed him a spot on the television show “Soul Train” as Conley, still to this day, is the only country artist to ever perform on that show. “Oh man that was cool,” said Conley. “It was fun to watch everyone dancing to my song.”

Despite everything ETC has accomplished in his career, one of his fondest memories came when “Brotherly Love” was released in 1991. It was a duet recorded with Keith Whitley, who at the time was married to Lorrie Morgan.

“That single was actually recorded in 1989 but RCA had shelved it,” he said. “Keith has signed with RCA and we became very close friends. I was as close to him as anyone in the business.” When Whitley tragically passed away, the label released the song and of course it became a hit.

The living legend still enjoys playing with his band today.“You get addicted to it,” he said. “I’ve been doing it all my life, well at least since 1968. That’s what you do if you work, and this is my work.”

He plans on returning to the studio sometime this year to record yet another album. Plus, Conley states that there’s a tribute album being tossed around as he would like some of his peers to record some of his greatest hits.

“I love making really good music,” he said. “That’s the whole deal. All the albums I’ve made, I’ve tried to load them up with No. 1 records. I want to give fans their money’s worth.”

Official ETC Website
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by Chad Cooper - March, 2009

Pat Green is one of the founders and leaders of the surging Texas country scene, but there’s more to him than the beer joints and dancehalls. He hasn’t outgrown his Texas roots since he branched out and made his niche on the national scene, from selling more than 250,000 albums without major record label support to signing a big deal and touring the country.

“The market was ready and I had some dumb luck on my side,” said Green from his cell phone.

“The fans of country music were wanting what I was providing at that time and that can be a powerful thing,” he said of his days in the early stages of his career. “But it also pigeon-holed me at the same time because people thought I was just Texas and beer, and Texas and beer. But I continued to grow and move on. I didn’t want to be in just one place all my life.”

Born in San Antonio and raised in Waco, Green is still Texan at heart. After high school, he went to Lubbock and enrolled in Texas Tech and started playing music with Cory Morrow.

“I think there were delusions like any high school kid,” said Green of seeing his future grow bright. “You don’t stand in front of the mirror with a guitar saying you are going to play at the coffee house. You are thinking Springsteen.”

That’s Pat Green for you. But don’t let him fool you as the 36 year old does have a sensitive side.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I just ended up here is really how I feel and however I ended up here I am eternally grateful to the master-planner upstairs.”

His plan was rather simple though. Green was making money with his hobby and knew he could make $10, so he tried to make $20. Once he made $20, he wanted $100.

His popularity was growing. Not just in Lubbock, but elsewhere around the Lone Star state. Green opened for legend Willie Nelson before recording his first album, which he asked his family to loan him $10,000 to help pay for recording expenses.

“I was already drawing some pretty decent crowds so it wasn’t a startup thing,” he explained. “My family saw how passionate I was and they knew they were going to get their money back, sooner or later.”

That first album, Dancehall Dreamer, would be the first of 10. With the help of Lubbock producer Lloyd Maines — the father of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks — Green put out three before Universal/Republic jumped on board in 2001 with Three Days.

Two years later, Green was on top of his game with Wave on Wave, which sold over 500,000 units, certifying it gold.

So what was it that fans were hearing? “I think everyone was tired of Garth Brooks,” proclaimed Green. “Not necessarily him but where the record industry was. When Garth made it big, everyone tried to recreate, recreate and recreate so everything sounded alike with these fantastical songs with not a lot of truth in them, no reality and not a lot of storytelling.”

One can hear that explanation in his latest song “Country Star” off his new album, What I’m For. With lyrics like “I’d think it’d be a cryin’ shame not to have my own airplane,” “I’ll be ridin’ shotgun with Kenny, Faith and Tim... And I wonder how they lived without me” and “...breakin’ hearts like Keith Urban,” Green takes his shot at the country norm.

“If every song I put out was like 'Country Star', I would vomit,” he laughed. “It was a one-time deal and I was trying to be funny.”

Green went on explain the resurgence of not only himself, but other rising Texas country players.

“When Garth was on top, guys like Robert Earl Keen went walking right through the door and filled the void,” he said. “Jerry Jeff Walker popped up again and even Willie saw a resurgence. Guys like me, Jack Ingram and Cory Morrow were the young guys sitting around doing nothing. The audiences were so hungry.”

Green laid the groundwork for artists like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Eli Young, Honeybrowne and Stoney LaRue.

As one of the founding fathers, he gave his take on why this genre has taken on a mind of its own.

“Everyone has their own stories to tell,” he said. “I don’t care who you are. The younger audience is drawn to that young sound that’s a little less polished and less cleaned up. That’s the way they feel and look at life.”

But Green has grown up some and sees things a little different.

“I clean it up now because I don’t feel that way anymore at 36,” he said. “I can’t act like a teenager anymore because I’ll look like a fool.”

There may be some maturity in the sound but Green’s live shows are still the same — sold out.

“I hope its because I do what I want to see done,” he said. “I don’t want to give the fans an ‘aw shucks’ country show, but at the same time I don’t want to get rowdier than Hank Williams Jr. I want to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to get preachy on politics because I don’t want to hear politics when I go out into a bar. When I get on stage I want to put on a show that I want to see.”

After everything he’s accomplished, Green said he’s still not satisfied. By that, he means that he wants to have more impact. And if you know Pat Green, he always says what he means.

Official Pat Green Website
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by Chad Cooper - November, 2008

Fame, fortune, world tours, 15 million records sold, four No. 1 hits and multiple appearances on the Howard Stern Show — just a few highlights on the resume of Staind. Nearly 13 years to the day, and six albums later, the four-piece rock band from Massachusetts continues rolling along without a True Hollywood Story or Behind the Music hitch in their step. Their career has yet to be marred with keeping band members out of jail or dealing with other sorts of drama.

“There’s always drama,” laughed guitarist Mike Mushok. “But we’ve been fortunate. Part of that comes from certain people putting themselves in that situation. Does Britney Spears really need to live in Los Angeles? That’s never what any of us wanted. We all love playing music and still live in New England. Could we have? Yes, but that’s not us.”

If there’s no made-for-television Staind movie, who are they? Is it the lyrics? Lead singer Aaron Lewis’ vocals? Edgy riffs?

It all started when the band self-released their first album, Tormented, in 1996 then opened for Limp Bizkit, who was the hottest act on the market at the time. Front man Fred Durst wasn’t happy with their album cover and didn’t want them to play.

“It was a collage of pretty gruesome looking pictures,” said Mushok. “It was more a shock value to grab people’s attention and it worked.”

It wasn’t long after that when Staind emerged into the mainstream when Durst joined the band onstage for a live performance of “Outside” on the Family Values Tour in Biloxi, Miss.

Their second album Dysfunction was already double-platinum and the “Outside” video became an instant classic on MTV by the time the group began recording their third album, Break the Cycle. That album produced their second No. 1 single, “It’s Been Awhile,” which stayed atop the modern rock and mainstream rock charts for a combined 30 weeks.

“The single ‘Outside’ blew up as we were recording Break the Cycle,” said Mushok. “We redid that song as it blew up, which led into ‘It’s Been Awhile.’ The first time we played it as a band, we looked at each other and knew it was going to be special. We’ve had that feeling before with other songs that didn’t do as good but you’re not always right with that. But that was a special one.”

Their next album, Chapter V, came in August 2005 and of course was another certified platinum record thanks in large part to the first single “Right Here.” That’s when they met Stern.

“First off, I’m a big Howard fan and have Sirius throughout my house,” he said. “We have been on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone,’ had a No. 1 record but until you are on the Stern Show, you haven’t really made it. We’ve done the show several times but when you do Howard, there’s always a twist. We aren’t like Kid Rock — we can’t go on there to talk about all the chicks we’ve banged or fights you’ve had — we are not that band. Most of us are married and pretty low-key.”

So what was the twist? After playing a few acoustic songs, the group had remade a song for one of the Stern characters, Beetlejuice, entitled “This is Beetle.” Mushok wrote the music and Lewis put his twist on the melody.

With a greatest hits album thrown in the mix that leads fans to Staind’s sixth album, The Illusion of Progress, which hit shelves in August and Mushok claims is their best to date.

“If you never think the album you are putting out is your best record, then you are probably not done with it,” he said. “So yes, I believe it’s our best. There’s something about the songs on this record that gives me that same feeling from ‘It’s Been Awhile.’ It’s more experimental. More musical.”

Plus Mushok shows off more with plenty of guitar solos. The first single, “Believe,” is currently No. 9 on the modern rock charts and No. 12 in mainstream making Staind a single’s machine.

“We try to write good songs,” he said. “We want people ten years from now to still listen and appreciate it as a good song. That’s what it’s about to me.”

A group that has accomplished so much and kept it together for so long must be at the end of the tunnel and ready to relax.

“You have to talk about (the future),” said Mushok. “We will keep touring but Aaron wants to put out a (solo) record so I expect to do one more album. We will head over to Europe and Iraq in early 2009 then back to the U.S.”

But there is a life outside of music, a sense of normalcy.

“I love playing but I love being home,” said the father of a 2-year-old set of twins. “I’ve been married for six years (together for 14) and I never knew how hard it would be to leave my family and go on the road.”

After tuning his last guitar, Mushok, who loves to write music, would like to do some music for a movie soundtrack but reiterates his likeness for his current job.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to make a living playing my own music and to achieve that in this day and age still putting out records, it makes me feel real thankful.”

Official Staind Website
Staind Myspace
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INTERVIEW: Kevin Fowler

by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

The Texas country genre has been described in terms like outlaw, the truth of the matter and music for the common man. Some music gurus say this genre began in the 1960s and 70s with the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings but it’s been modernized, so to speak, by the emergence of singer/songwriters, including Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow and Kevin Fowler.

“I think the entire Texas country music scene thrives because of the fans,” said Fowler. “It’s one of the few scenes that’s not about the hype, radio or Billboard charts. It’s like a lifestyle.”

Fowler and his lyrics speak volumes. With songs like “Cheaper to Keep Her,” “Best Mistake I Ever Made” and “Loose, Loud and Crazy,” all that listen to Fowler’s music can relate to the Amarillo native who started out playing rock music.

“I was like a Sideshow Bob,” said Fowler. “I was a guitar player that played in different bands.” But that led him to Los Angeles as he attended the Guitar Institute of Technology to master his craft.

Fowler returned to Texas — but this time to Austin — and tinkered with several rock bands, including Dangerous Toys and Thunderfoot.

“I was writing songs but they were country,” he added. “Those demos started turning into records and no one was really singing my songs so I thought, hey I’ll do it and it took off. I never planned on being a singer.”

That idea came to life when he released his first album Beer, Bait & Ammo, with the title track eventually becoming a Sammy Kershaw single that Beaumont boy Mark Chesnutt even sang at some of his live shows.

After two indie releases, Equity Music Group, a label headed by Clint Black, signed Fowler and the team released the album Loose, Loud & Crazy, which spawned the single, “Ain’t Drinkin’ Anymore.”

His most successful album to date came in 2007 when Bring It On reached No. 14 on the Country album charts with the single “Best Mistake I Ever Made” leading the way. Also on that record was a song titled “Long Line of Losers,” which has since been recorded by country duo Montgomery Gentry and put on their 2008 album Back When I Knew It All.

Fowler added, “When someone else grabs your song, it’s really the highest form of flattery,” he said. “Montgomery Gentry did a great job with that song. They tore it up.”

Equity Music Group eventually went away but Fowler kept strong and remained on the road with his constant touring. “A lot of my fans will come out and see us 10 times a year,” he said. “One night you may see them in Oklahoma City and a week later you may see them in Corpus (Christi). It’s like a Grateful Dead vibe.”

Fowler said he has seen the vibe grow from just a few guys playing on the road to an entire slew of artists who tour as relentlessly he does.

“It wasn’t a scene then,” he described. “It’s amazing what its grown to today. One cool thing about Texas Country is not all bands sound alike. It’s not a sound where everyone is trying to copycat each other. Anything goes.”

But is it too much too often? For instance, there’s at least one or two Texas country artists playing the Golden Triangle each week.

“We aren’t national touring acts,” said Fowler. “They do one record and come once a year and be done with it. The business model in this genre is touring, and by touring you build fans. You have to take it one person at a time and you can’t do that by coming to a market once a year. I don’t know if you can overplay.”

With 20 years under his belt, Fowler shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m a procrastinator, but I’d like to get another record out by the end of ’09.”

That’s if he can find time between touring.

Official Kevin Fowler Website
Kevin Fowler Myspace
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INTERVIEW: Creedence Clearwater Revisited

by Chad Cooper - March, 2009

Creedence Clearwater Revival is not returning, but look out for Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, two of the four original members of CCR, some 15 years later continue to perform the hits “Susie Q,” “Proud Mary,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Looking Out My Backdoor” and “Bad Moon Rising.”

“I don’t know what else I would be doing,” explained 64-year-old Cook, who now lives in Austin. “I have been in this business for over 40 years now and it’s ever-changing. Right now it’s an exciting time to be in this industry because of new technology and new opportunities. The old regime is phasing out and there’s always something new to learn.”

Cook was raised in a musical family. His parents were professional musicians and grew up with instruments laying around the house. “The first one I picked up was the trumpet,” he said. “I then learned the piano and guitar, but I knew I wanted to be a musician when I saw Ray Charles perform.”

As a Christmas present, Cook, then 11, said his parents bought he and his younger brother tickets to see Charles perform live at a community theater. “It was amazing,” he described. “I imagined myself being on stage and having the effect on people like he had on me.”

Just a few years later, Cook met up with Clifford and Tom Fogerty in junior high near El Cerrito, Calif., and the three began playing instrumental music and called themselves The Blue Velvet. “I had no plan to become a musician,” he said. “I was going to become a lawyer after college, but we decided to go full mark on things after messing around for 10 years.”

After teaming up with John during that time, the group decided on the name the Golliwogs, but eventually wanted to get serious and changed to Creedence Clearwater Revival, due in part to Tom’s friend Credence Nuball. After seeing a beer commercial along with an environmental movement, Clearwater was added along with Revival.

Between 1968 and 1970, they released six albums that contained the Creedence songs that remain staples of the classic rock format and have never really left the radio airwaves, including “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son” and many more.

Tension arose during the early 1970s when John’s brother Tom quit the band several times. Then John took more creative control and imposed new restrictions on his bandmates. With that said, their album “Mardi Gras” was released in 1972 and was received poorly by the fans.

After touring for a few weeks in support of the album, John had enough with his bandmates and Fantasy Records. On Oct. 16, 1972, CCR was no more.

John and Tom did solo projects and Tom later died in 1990 due to contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion. It was also during that time that money issues divided the remaining members of the band, an issue that has since been settled.

The band was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 but John refused to let Cook and Clifford perform with him.

Staying away from the negative, Cook has great memories. “It was a job well done, satisfaction,” he said. “We gave stuff to our audience and they in return gave stuff back. It was a special feeling.”

In 1994, Cook met up with Clifford and the two jammed their instruments everyday. They decided to keep the CCR hits alive and find some musicians.

Adding former People frontman John Tristao, as well as Tal Morris and Steve Gunner, Creedence Clearwater Revisted was born.

Fogerty tried to stop the group in 1997 with a court injunction, which then briefly changed the group’s name to Cosmo’s Factory, but the court ruled in favor of Cook and Clifford and they kept the original Revisited name.

“In early 1995, we were a functioning five-piece band,” said Cook. “We played eight or nine shows, then a 106 a year later and everyone enjoyed it. Now we’ve scaled back to about 75 shows, we continue to celebrate and honor the music of Creedence.”

Their shows became so popular they released a double-live CD titled Recollection, that included new recordings of many Creedence hits. Released in 1997, the album went on to sell over a million copies.

“I want to keep playing with the Revisted project,” he said. “It’s amazing that we are in our 15th year. We are still having a good time and don’t see any reason to stop.”

Official Creedence Clearwater Revisited Website
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INTERVIEW: Cowboy Troy

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

He describes it as lightning bolts shooting out of his fingertips and fire coming out of his eye sockets. No, not Godzilla, but the one and only Cowboy Troy who brings his high-energy “hick-hop” attitude to the stage.

“It’s a fun, energetic, rocking show,” he said. “You won’t sit around and be bored with it. It’s lots of fun.”

Born Troy Coleman in Victoria, Texas, most of the world knows him as Cowboy Troy. He first high-stepped onto the scene with the country duo, Big & Rich.

“I met John Rice in 1993 in a bar in Dallas that he was playing in and we became friends,” he said. “After they got a record deal with Warner Brothers, they invited me to be a part of their album and they asked me to go on tour with them, and I was like, yeah.”

But the 6-foot-5, larger than life country-rapping African American cowboy is more than meets the eye. He’s highly educated, graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a married father who parents triplets.

So how did Troy get his start? I’m so glad you asked.

After being raised in Dallas and graduating from Skyline High School, Troy went to college in Austin. That’s when he found his musical talent.

“My freshman year, I was sitting around the dorm room with roommates watching rap videos and I started saying ‘I can do that, I can do that.’ After we returned from our Christmas break, we had a competition which I won, and I started doing it at bars, clubs and frat parties.”

Troy claims that he listened to whatever his parents played on their radio but remembers liking Charlie Daniels, Jerry Reed, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton with some ZZ Top, Run DMC and Def Leppard.

While trying to make it big in the music industry, Troy worked odd jobs such as becoming a manager at Foot Locker. He self-released three albums on his own when Big & Rich literally took the country music world by storm in 2004, joining forces with them and Gretchen Wilson, another find by Big & Rich. The 38-year-old cowboy became only the second African American (Charlie Pride) to perform on the Country Music Association Awards (CMAs) when he rocked the stage with his new friends.

Troy was then signed to Raybaw/Warner Brothers and released two albums, Loco Motive and Black in the Saddle, producing radio hits including “I Play Chicken with the Train” and “Hick Chick.”

After his alma mater, Texas, won the football National Championship in 2005, Troy released a promo single called “Hook’em Horns.”

But it can be difficult for some to put their fingers on his style, or the new wave of country music out today.

“For artists to survive, they have to change with the taste of the consumer,” he said. “Look at anyone’s I-Pod. There’s not one genre of music on there. I’m listening to Avenge Sevenfold to Merle Haggard. The younger the audience gets the more you have to adapt. They like a little of everything.”

In the new sound’s defense, country music has changed each decade, explained Troy. “Country music in the 70s didn’t sound like old school country,” he said. “George Strait came around in the early 80s and brought that original sound back then in the 90s, Garth (Brooks) came out, and in my estimation, added country with a little pop rock in it.” Troy then pointed out that Brooks’ cover of “Shameless” was actually a Billy Joel song.

His knowledge, success and persona helped land him a gig as a co-host, with fellow musician Jewel, on the fifth season of Nashville Star, a talent search contest like American Idol. Troy said the show was great allowing people to realize there are other competition shows and other opportunities for different artists.

After performing at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Troy has done just about everything.

“I want to continue to make music,” he said. “I want to do more traditional country, more ‘hick-hop’ and do some more acting.”

Official Cowboy Troy Website
Cowboy Troy Myspace
Click here to purchase Cowboy Troy music

Friday, September 3, 2010


by Chad Cooper - July, 2009

Rolling Stone described it as an “absolute must-see act,” Newsweek says it “freakmania” and FOX News' Tucker Carlson says Jim Rose is a “cult hero.” For the first time ever, The Jim Rose Circus is coming to Southeast Texas and he’s bringing his best show to date, which features former WWE wrestlers Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Kirzarney plus an appearance by his wife Bebe the Circus Queen and Rose’s newly acquired albino Burmese python called Maurice Le Grand that cost a cool $63,000.

The show will bring you brutal comedy as Rose will take you on a journey of his star-crossed life and expose the difference between man and monster. In addition to circus stunts and pretty girls, Rose is bringing former wrestlers who don’t need a ring to settle their disputes.

“The movie The Wrestler was actually based on Jake,” said Rose. “When that came out, his phone started ringing off the hook. He had been screwed over a lot in the wrestling circle so he began to look for someone he could trust and go out on the road with. He looked around the pro wrestling community and couldn’t find it. Jake and I had known each other for years as we met through a mutual friend, who is also a wrestler named Sinn Bohdi who was Kizarney in the WWE. We decided to put together the craziest show ever so here we are.”

Rose explained he has always had a soft spot for Jake. “He was the first villain wrestling fans loved to hate,” he said. “He was set up to go against Hulk Hogan and the fans would cheer him while he went to the ring. All of Hulk’s fans, the Hulkamaniacs, would cheer but there would be plenty of boos and that freaked out the promoter who had invested so much in Hulk and that started a downward spiral for him. Jake did his job and did it good but was screwed over by his charisma and I want Jake the Snake to be the man he is.”

But where did this talented and brilliant man get these wacky ideas?

“When I was a kid I worked at the Arizona State Fairgrounds,” he said. “I started off fetching drinks for a guy named Lobster Boy. From there, I learned some blockhead stuff but it started trending towards daredevil stuff with motorcycles.”

Rose went on to describe how he once had a mishap attempting to jump 27 cows.

“I cleared the cows but must have landed on some spent cud because I landed wobbly and that’s why today I have the posture of a jumbo shrimp,” he said. “I thought I better start doing something with a little less mobility while my back recovered so I did magic show stunts, started building up quite a repertoire and I had a spoken word career going. In that audience was a little French girl that I met named Bebe, who I’ve since married. She came from a circus family in France. Her brother is the director of the Royal Deluxe, the largest circus in Europe. I toured with them once. I learned traditional circus stuff, moved back to the United States and started. My first show sold out and never looked back.”

It wasn’t just his adolescent years that landed Rose where he today. He said he was born premature and cross-eyed.

“I don’t know what was so special about my left eye but my right eye had to look at it,” he laughed. “I was left in an incubator for two weeks before my parents finally brought me home. There weren’t really beds small enough so my crib was shoebox. I don’t know how much I weighed but my mother said I was a women’s size 7.”

Rose of course was picked on because of his eyes but that helped him learn a quick wit.

“One day my dad came home and said he was going to get me corrective surgery. Once that I happened, I ended up getting elected school president in the sixth grade. I love theater then wrote a play. My parents told me if I could write another they would put me in a special arts school. So I wrote another. It was a detective thriller. I need 50 cap guns and all the caps they could find and just put up two rows of desks and shot behind them. Needless to say that was the end of the special arts career.”

Once Rose began putting his first show together, he toured Canada and all of his shows were sold out catching the attention of talk show host Sally Jessie Raphael.

“Back then there were just three networks so everyone watched her show,” he said. “She did an entire hour on me and as soon as that aired, old ladies in walkers were asking for my autograph.”

Old ladies weren’t the only ones watching the show. Musician Perry Farrell, who then was the lead singer of the rock band Jane’s Addiction saw it and wanted Rose to perform on the Lollapalooza Tour during the early 90s. “During my first show, someone pointed out in the crowd Jane’s Addiction. I said, ‘Well I hope she gets treated.’ I was clueless who they were.”

With a background in theater, Rose then went out and bought a Spin magazine and watched 20 minutes of MTV to get acquainted with the rock world.

From there, his popularity soared to new heights. He was featured on an episode of The X-Files and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, wrote two best selling books, had a reality show called The Jim Rose Twisted Tour on the Travel Channel and even once was in an episode of The Simpson’s where Homer joined Rose’s show as the "Human Cannonball."

“The sideshow was a lost generation,” he stated. “It was gone for about 30 years so I brought it back off of the midway from the ‘step right up’ to a more artistic view. When I started shows I was using belly dancers and it was like the like-minded monsters set up in their crypts and came out to audition.”

Some of his artists included The Amazing Mister Lifto, who hung cinder blocks, steam irons and beer kegs from his body piercing, Matt “The Tube” Crowely, who would swallow seven feet of tubing that was attached to a pump that Rose would use to pump in different liquids, and Bebe, who performed a variety of stunts including the Plastic Bag of Death.

Of all the wild and crazy stunts, Rose said he’s never seen anything like chainsaw football. “That gave a whole new meaning to halfback,” he said. “It was four on four. You crank up the chainsaw, hike it or pass it. I was using chainsaw jugglers and they were real good but it was still mindblowing. No matter how good you are with chainsaws, when you start getting tackled with it, it gets a little hairy. One guy lost a little toe so we decided not to do it. You would be surprised how important that little toe is. It makes all the difference in the world with your balance.”

Official Jim Rose Myspace

INTERVIEW: Powerman 5000

by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

No one would have ever imagined that two brothers from a small town in northern Massachusetts would bring the music and film world to its knees. Most know the story of Rob Zombie, from his movies, House of 1000 Corpses and the awesome remake of Halloween to his music with White Zombie. But some may not know his younger brother influenced and changed the rock music world with his own likings.

“What’s funny is I was starting bands before he (Rob) wanted to be in music,” said Spider One of his older brother.

“This all started because there was nothing to do where we grew up with no record stores, no movie theaters and having to find something to do from being fuckinging miserable. I dove into pop culture shit as a kid watching about 10 hours of television a day, collecting comic books, then I discovered this little thing called punk rock.”

Spider One, whose real name is Michael Cummings, said he loved bands like the Ramones and the Clash, which helped him open his eyes to music. He would never look at it the same again.

“It was something I could understand and do. It wasn’t about me being the greatest singer in the world, it was more about attitude and idea and over the years I brought my love of aggressive music and the love of movies, comics and TV to make this hybrid of Powerman 5000.”

He says the name of the band was inspired by — go figure — a comic book character.

“I had this one comic book called ‘Powerman,’ who was the first black super hero,” he said. “I was really attracted to it and added 5000 for the flair.”

There’s not a specific or correct way to describe PM5K music. Energetic, rocking beats, with some guitar riffs added with a mix of synthesizers is a start. Some critics claim this band was ahead of its time as Spider One began this process in 1991.

“It’s funny you say that because I hear that a lot,” he said. “I never wanted to claim that, but we tend to do things and people are playing catch up. It’s like hard core with that hip-hop sensibility long before anyone had heard of nu-metal. I like the fact that those nerdy-geeky things that I liked and people laughed at have now become embraced,” proclaimed Spider. “Suddenly it’s all cool. Batman being nominated for Academy Awards and shit.”

He said this all started at an early age as he watched inappropriate content before he was supposed to. For an example, Spider claims before the age of 10, he had already watched the Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange.

But it wasn’t all fun and games for this pop culture genius. His first record deal with Dreamworks appeared to be a good one as their second album Tonight the Stars Revolt! sold over a million records mainly in part to the success of the single “When Worlds Collide,” but a third album was cancelled by the label.

“It was disheartening,” he said. “We found a good home and sold them a million records and all of a sudden it was gone. We had the mindset that you were worth something if you were signed on a major (label), which is now not even the case.”

After taking nearly a year off, he began to question himself and his intentions but his ‘batphone’ began to ring.

“Video game makers were calling and asking for music and the lightbulb went off and I said, ‘wait, the worth of the band is not what label we are signed to but the worth is the band. So we slowly got back into the groove of things and did some small tours and lowkey stuff. It’s not going to be like before because now the top selling album of the year drops about 2 million, gone are the 15 million sellers,” he stated. “It’s not about that for me. It’s not about fucking Walmart and pleasing everybody. This is about looking at those people who like the band and get it and makes them happy.”

After recording another album, Spider One still wasn’t satisfied. He explained this last album Destroy What You Enjoy, he drifted away from what originally made the group, adding more punk rock to the record.

“It left the fans scratching their heads but more recently I found the love for those things that inspired me so the new album we are currently working on will give the fans what they love and expect from us — heavy rich mixed with weird psycho electronics with a lot of obscure movie references. It’s fun to get back to how we started.”

PM5K hasn’t set a name for the new record but they have put a single titled “Super Villain” on their Myspace page and it’s taken on a life of its own.

“People complain about the record industry going down the tubes and no way for bands to make it anymore. It’s easy to cry but you also see incredible benefits from it. The power is in the hands of the bands. If you are doing good shit, fans will support you and we are seeing that first hand.”

They toured on Ozzfest among other super tours and they continue that aspect today.

“There’s something about this business,” he laughed. “It’s very difficult to stop. As long as people respond to it, I will keep doing it.”

Spider One explains some credit belongs to the Internet.

“It’s a massive culture, man” he said. “There’s the 35 year olds who watched us at Ozzfest and now I see 12-yearold kids in the crowd. I ask these little kids how do you know about us and they say ‘well, I was surfing the Web and found you guys and I think ya’ll are badass.’ It’s not old versus the new anymore. We are all on even ground.”

Official Powerman 5000 Myspace
Click here to purchase Powerman 5000 music