Wednesday, February 23, 2011

INTERVIEW: Civil Twilight

by Chad Cooper, February 2011

It seems this is only the beginning for the band Civil Twilight, but the band has literally traveled the globe to get where they are at today — on the way to stardom.

From Cape Town, South Africa, brothers Steven and Andrew McKellar along with Richard Wouters decided some six years ago that in order for them to be successful, they would need to leave Cape Town for Los Angeles.

Once there, the three-some began playing just about everywhere, including a restaurant, just so they could scrape up enough money to pay rent. They began to create a buzz and eventually gained a following, so the trio recorded an album on an Indie label. A few of the songs were picked up for television use for programs like the World Wrestling Entertainment, One Tree Hill, House, MD and Harper’s Island.

It didn’t take long for national labels to take notice and Wind-up Records became the lucky winner, signing the group in 2009. They released a self-titled debut in March 2009 and four singles were released to radio including “Letters from the Sky,” which charted at No. 7 at the Billboard alternative rock charts and their latest, “Next to Me.”

The band has been relentlessly touring the States playing radio festivals like Buzzfest XXV last October in Houston as well as opening for bands such as Three Days Grace and Evanescence but to be used as opening support for other acts is no longer needed.

No outlandish band gimmicks are needed, either. The sound speaks for itself.

Civil Twilight is currently headlining a tour and Steven McKellar spoke exclusively with 88 Miles West while spending a day off in New York City.

Does Cape Town have a very competitive music scene?

At the time, there wasn’t a very big music industry there. We lived in a small suburb of Cape Town and no one was really playing in bands there at the time, so we were the only band in town. It was very laid back and actually helped us because we had time to do a lot of things musically.

When did you discover that you loved music?

I discovered I could play music when I was 15 and just progressed from there. I practiced because I love it so much. By the time I was 17, I knew this was what I wanted to do. The decision was then kind of made for me.

Is that what led you to the United States?

We played Cape Town for a few years and got a bit of a following there, but we always wanted to come here. So we just bought tickets and within three months we were on a plane and flying to LA. We knew three people there and thought we could stay with them for a while. We told our friends and family we were going over to scout the land, so to speak, and would come back in three or four months. We ended up staying over here.

Once in LA, how tough was it to become noticed?

The first gig we played over here was in a restaurant. In the beginning, we played anywhere we could. Eventually we started playing at a place called Molly Malone’s and picked up a tiny little following, but it took a while to get visas to be able to stay. Once we got that taken care of, it was still tough because LA was so expensive. I don’t know how we managed, but we did.

Before you were signing a big record deal, several of your singles were actually used on different TV programs. How did that come about?

After we recorded the album, a company called Secret Road heard the record and really like it. They began putting the songs on some shows and it progressed from there. The more people that heard it, the more they liked it.

Any special meaning with the band name?

We were in need of a name and band names are so hard to find nowadays. You don’t want to be stuck with ‘Potato Mansion’ so you have to come up with something good. We thought to look up something involving aviation terms because my uncle and grandpa are pilots, so we thought to look up some of those terms. Civil Twilight was the first thing that came up.

Several of the songs on the record are longer than usual. Was that something that you wanted to do?

It wasn’t something we planned. During the recording, it was just the actual mood we were in. We felt very free. The last thing that was on our mind was the length of the songs. It just happened that way. We recorded 14 songs for the album and we decided to put all of them on there. That’s something we do live anyway. We like to expand songs when we perform.

You’ve been heavily compared to Radiohead, U2 and Coldplay? Is that a good or bad thing?

I don’t think it hurts. Sometimes young bands try to emulate big bands and end up coming across like they are as big as those bands. You know what I mean? Or, they are doing it because those big bands are popular and they want to be popular. For us, we didn’t get into music like U2 until a few years ago, so we didn’t grow up listening to their stuff. This is only our first album, so eventually we hope our music will speak for itself. But I don’t mind being compared to those bands. There’s a lot worse would could be compared to!

Civil Twilight will perform an all-ages show at Warehouse Live in Houston on Feb. 25 with special guests Electric Touch and Mother/Father. Tickets are $12.

Click here to purchase Civil Twilight
Official Civil Twilight website
Follow Civil Twilight on Facebook

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview: Rehab

by Chad Cooper, February 2011

To say Danny "Boone" Alexander and Rehab has seen its ups and downs would be a huge understatement. Origins of the group date back to Warner Robins, Georgia, in 1998 when Alexander met Jason "Brooks" Buford during a stint at a rehab facility, hence the band name, then later joined up with Denny "Steak knife" Campbell.

They released an album, To Whom It May Consume, on an Indie label then signed with Sony/Epic and released Southern Discomfort, which contained the popular tunes "It Don't Matter" and "Sittin' At A Bar," otherwise known as the Bartender's song.

The band broke up, but Alexander refused to quiet and refurbished the group in 2002, taking some three years to put out Graffiti of the World.

In 2008, Epic repackaged two albums and named it Sittin' At A Bar. It was then the band would gain national attention because of the famous Bartender's song. The group joined forces with legendary outlaw singer Hank Williams Jr. for the filming of the video, which was nominated for a CMT Award.

Since their September 2010 release of Welcome Home, the band split with national label Universal Republic and signed with Average Joe’s Records in Nashville, which rosters artists such as Colt Ford, Brantley Gilbert and Josh Gracin.

Rehab is headlining the Lack of Luxury tour at The Gig on Crockett Street on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at, area Florida Tans locations and Guitar & Banjo Studio in Beaumont.

Original member and frontman Danny "Boone" Alexander spoke with 88 Miles West while in California during one of their many stops on the Lack of Luxury tour.

How did the preparation for this album compare to those of the past?

We had less time to write 'Welcome Home' because we were on the road and we had plenty of songs written when we turned them in and the label declined them. They wanted something
simple and heartfelt and something that could be played on CMT (Country Music Television). I was like, oh okay. So I said let’s get back in and write more songs.

Were you cool with that direction?

I wasn’t happy with the fact they declined the songs that we spent time on, but the album is really good.

What are some of your favorites on the new record?

'#1,' 'Rideout Chick' and 'Welcome Home.'

I'm glad you mentioned 'Rideout Chick.' That song is drawing comparison to the Bartender's Song.

Yeah, maybe so. 'Rideout Chick' is about girl that a lot of people know — dirty feet but still kind of hot. She'll ride with you to California if you need her too.

What were some of the inspirations you used for writing this album?

One song in particular, 'Talk About,' is about being on the road, so that was easy to write. 'Old Friends' is typical around my house. It's late at night and you want someone to come over and drink a beer with you and blah, blah, blah. There are a lot of things to write about. Some days you can put it together and others you can't.

This album seems more mellow. What has been the vibe from the old school Rehab fans with the new album?

We have talked to some that said they didn't like it at first but after listening to it again, they get it. It’s works with everything we have done. Our music used to be all over the place, and I like it like that, but when you are working for a label and they ask for specifics, you have to do it that way. When you are an artist, you don’t like to be told what to do when it comes to art. But when we did what we were told to do, it actually came out good.

After the record came out, didn't you part was with Universal Republic?

Yeah, we signed with Average Joe’s Records in Nashville. With Universal, they were spending more time with other artists. There are good people at Universal so we asked them if we
could get out of the contract and they let us. Definitely no hard feelings.

How have the fans treated you on this tour?

Well, it’s a different look for us anyway because Foz and Lamar (Williams Jr.) aren’t with us, so that sucks. We will hook back up, but they are currently working on some records. We
have done really well on the West Coast. It’s great to be a long way from home and be able to draw a lot of people. It’s doesn’t make you feel so regional.

Official Rehab website
Follow Rehab on Facebook
Click here to purchase Rehab music

Sunday, February 13, 2011

INTERVIEW: Steel Magnolia

by Chad Cooper, February 2011

Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones stole the hearts of millions when they won the reality show Can You Duet on CMT.

Better known as Steel Magnolia, the duo went on to sign a contract with Big Machine Records and just last month released their self-titled debut album.

Despite the record coming out last month, the first single was released to radio in 2009 called "Keep On Lovin' You" and it was an instant hit peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Country chart.

They've since been nominated for several awards by the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and the new American Country Awards, but before all that, they were stealing each other's hearts.

Linsey, from Ponchatoula, La., moved to Nashville and found a job hosting karaoke. It was there she found the love of her life and a pretty good business partner. The rest is history.

The 23-year-old beauty spoke with 88 Miles West about life in Louisiana, moving to Nashville and being able to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

Growing up in Louisiana, was there a Cajun influence in any of your music?

My mom helped me put a band together when I was 14 years old. The guys in the band were old enough to be my dad and they had played in bars in New Orleans their whole lives. So there is some influence there, plus we played a variety of music. Just being from there you can’t help but absorb some of that.

What led you to Nashville?

Well, I wanted to do music, but my mom said if I went then I had to go to school up there. So I enrolled at Belmont University for a semester when I moved there. I started working at a karaoke bar and actually worked there for five years. That’s where I met Josh.

Did he ask you out first?

Oh yeah. He was pretty funny. He came in and sang some Rolling Stones and some rock stuff. I would play some songs in between people singing and I was playing some AC/DC and he came up and asked if I liked AC/DC. And that was all it took.

Once you started dating, when did you realize that music was the way to go?

We were doing our separate things. Even though we were together, he was doing his music and I was doing my own stuff. After a year or so into the relationship, we wrote our first song together called 'Edge of Goodbye.' As we were writing it, we thought it would be a cool duet. We would do some songwriter rounds going out and performing. He would sing, then play guitar for me and we would end it by performing that song. It caught on.

Is that what led you guys to audition for 'Can You Duet'?

We actually got talked into doing that show. We had already been performing together for about two or three years and a friend of ours knew a producer of that show looking for duos. She called us and bugged us but we didn’t want to do a reality show. She then called us the day of the show and we went down there. We kept making it through the rounds and we never expected any of that.

Did you have time to celebrate the win?

Not much. It's hard to prepare for something like that because the next day we were filming a video and doing press. Since winning that show, we literally haven’t been home for more than two days. We went on a radio tour then went on tour with Brad Paisley. It's been constant.

Were you concerned about a reality show jinx?

We were hesitant to do a reality show in the first place because there is that stigma that comes with being on a reality show and not being a real artist. We wondered if people were really going to take us seriously but success of the first single spoke for itself. It was actually a great platform for us to develop a fan base. I think we are past the reality show premise and whether or not we are real.

Listening to the record, I hear some old and current Country sound.

We didn’t want to be dismissed for not being country and that was a big thing for us because we both are so rooted in Country music. We both have so many musical influences and we wanted that to show on the record. And I think that keeps us unique and sets us a part is the fact we have so many different sounds within the music. There are elements of everything for everyone on this album. One of our main goals with this record was to put out something that anyone could listen to and find something they could like.

Other than the first single, any particular song on the album you really like?

'Edge of Goodbye' is one of those songs we have to do every show. It's got a fun banter back and forth with the verses then it kicks into that powerful chorus in the middle. It was the first song we wrote together and the sound of it is what we based our group and sound around.

Any added pressure on your personal relationship now the record is out and you’re being nominated for awards and such?

Every relationship you are in there is pressure, but this one does have some added pressure. I think we are really good at separating the business side of things when we are home. We haven’t changed much other than our careers have changed. Being on tour with Blake Shelton, who is engaged to Miranda Lambert, I got a chance to talk with her about their relationship and keeping it separate from the business. She said they go fishing and hunting and go off and do things other than music. We hope to get to that point one day to be able to have other places to go and spend time together.

You have a new single out, 'Last Night Again,' up for an award that fans can go vote for.

We are super excited about the new single because it’s the first song we have cowritten that has been released. As a songwriter, it’s exciting to hear your song on the radio. It’s cool as an artist, but to hear both, it’s a real dream come true for both of us. We are up for two ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards and one you can vote. It's for Top New Vocal Duo or Group and fans can go to to vote. We are honored to be nominated for awards, have an album out and get to do this full time.

I have to ask you what it was like performing on the Grand Ole Opry?

Everyone always asks what the highlight of 2010 was, and we had some great highlights like being nominated for awards and touring with Brad Paisley, but it was the Opry. It sounds cheesy but it’s one of those indescribable feelings. It’s the holy grail of Country music. It was like a ghostly-good feeling. My mom told me she listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio when she was a kid and to be able to play on that stage — it was truly amazing.

Official Steel Magnolia website
Follow Steel Magnolia on Facebook
Follow Steel Magnolia on Twitter
Click here to purchase Steel Magnolia music

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nutty Jerry's to host IXFA pro MMA event

by Chad Cooper, 2-9-11

Nutty Jerry's Entertainment Complex in Winnie TX announced the venue will host it's first night of professional Mixed Martial Arts on Saturday, April 23 as the IXFA comes to town with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Advance tickets are $125, $100, $55, $45, $25 and can be purchased at the venue, online at or by phone at (877) 643-7508.

Beaumont's own Cody "Wolverwine" Williams, who trains at American Top Team in Beaumont, will make his pro debut.

Also making a special guest appearance is former light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Chuck "Iceman" Liddell.

For venue information, view
For info about the IXFA, view

CD REVIEW: 'Civil Twilight' - Civil Twilight

by Chad Cooper, February 2011

Civil Twilight
Civil Twilight
(Wind-up Records)

I accidentally ran into this three-piece band as they were the openers on the side stage at Buzzfest XXV last October at the Cynthia Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.

With the name, I instantly thought of the vampire movie series Twilight and then I saw the lead singer, who resembled Robert Pattinson’s character, "Edward," so I chuckled and thought this was going to be a painful 25 minutes. It was all but that. After two songs, I thought they should have played the main stage.

From South Africa, this is the group’s debut album and several songs have been used on the television shows One Tree Hill, Harper’s Island and Terminator: The Sarah Connor

Three songs have been released to radio, "Anybody Out There," "Quiet in My Town" and "Letters from the Sky," which was played frequently on KTBZ 94.5 The Buzz in Houston. It’s a brilliant debut that will take you down the streets U2, Coldplay and Radiohead have paved.

Many of the songs are longer than the average single, but if you enjoy the sound, why would you want it to end?

1. Anybody Out There (6:12)
2. Soldier (3:20)
3. Next to Me (3:34)
4. Letters from the Sky (4:35)
5. On the Surface (3:49)
6. Trouble (5:26)
7. Human (4:09)
8. Perfect Stranger (5:40)
9. What You Want (6:36)
10. Something She Said
11. Quiet in My Town (6:18)
12. Run Dry (4:18)
13. Save Yourself (3:32)
14. Stolen (5:09)

Click here to purchase Civil Twilight
Official Civil Twilight website
Follow Civil Twilight on Facebook
Photos of Civil Twilight playing @ Buzzfest XXV (Oct. 23, 2010)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Ford Arena

Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform at Ford Arena in Beaumont on Sunday, May 1.

Ticket prices are $55.50, $45.50 and $35.50 and will go on sale Friday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Ford Park Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations including, HEB on Dowlen Road, Beaumont Civic Center and charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000.

Founded in 1993 by Paul O'Neill, TSO is described as a progressive rock band that incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic, and progressive elements into rock and heavy metal.

This particular show is called "Beethoven's Last Stand." O'Neill has created a theatrical experience that combined with arena rock takes this new genre to unprecedented levels.

For more information on TSO, visit their official website:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Video Interview: Noel Biderman of

Video interview with Noel Biderman at the 2011 AEE Expo in Las Vegas.

Biderman is the genius behind the famous website The site is known as the world's premier discreet dating service with over 8.2 million anonymous members.

Their motto: "Life is short. Have an affair."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: Drowning Pool to play Scout Bar

by Chad Cooper, February 2, 2011

Dallas-based rockers Drowning Pool is scheduled to play an all-ages show at Scout Bar on Saturday, March 12, with doors at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and go on sale Feb. 5 via online Frontgate Tickets, (888) 512-SHOW or the Scout Bar Box Office.

The four-piece is touring in support of the 2010 release Drowning Pool. Two singles released off the record have charted in the Top 10 Mainstream Rock chart with "Feel Like I Do" and "Turn So Cold."

Other popular tunes are "Bodies," "Step Up," "Enemy" and "37 Stitches."

Official DP website
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Slated to open for Drowning Pool at Scout Bar is Trust Co.

Venue information can be found at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: Scout Bar welcomes Volbeat

by Chad Cooper, February 1, 2011

Scout Bar welcomes Danish metal rockers VOLBEAT on Friday, April 15 for an all ages show.

Tickets go on sale Feb.5 at Frontgate Tickets, charge by phone (888) 512-SHOW or the Scout Bar Box Office for $19. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Formed in Copenhagen in 2001, VOLBEAT is touring in support of their 2010 release Beyond Hell/Above Heaven. Each of their four albums have reached either gold or platinum status in Denmark.

Opening will be The Damned Things and Hourcast.