Interviews

Back to Basics: Forging the Connection using Music with Matthew Johnston

Northern Ontario native Matthew Johnston is well versed in the music industry. Gaining an impressive and early start, he started out as a drummer who’s passion for music evolved into a talented multi-instrumentalist singer and producer.

Matthew’s dedication and commitment to his craft is shown through his self-taught musical ability, attention to detail and driven passion has paved the way for an exciting journey.

Music is a vocation that is taken up by many, but is not for the faint of heart. Matthew proves this as his writing has evolved with him and grown though his experiences of adulthood. Drawing from Emo classified bands such as Mineral, Glory Record and evolving into listening to more pop influenced artists. Matthew Johnston has found his own positive voice on There Will Be Miracles, his debut EP.

Not limiting himself to a certain genre Matthew spent many years honing his skills in bands, including drumming for his friend and Canadian Hip-Hop artist Shad, Matthew has since wanted to produce and publish his own music.

Opening the discussion with song writing , whether it be collaborative or solitary Matthew expanded on his personal approach, ” I think when you write songs for yourself it has to come from a place of experience. When you write with other people your trying to get into their head. I had a recent conversation with my wife about this. People will either give 100% of their opinion or you can do it yourself and I can be a part of it. ”

But some collaborative song writing is different; Matthew takes the approach of helping others. “its about how I can help them bring something of themselves out, that they may not have been able to bring out themselves”. The focus is more on process and what the artist is trying to say. “There is such value in what someone’s trying to articulate and helping them understand and get to that.” Also adding that there are challenges in, “Its hard and not always easily done and you don’t always succeed, but its fun and always changing”.

The theme of miracles resonates on the album because “It all started as this idea that everything we do is a miracle, life itself is a miracle”. During the recording process my wife and I found out we were expecting a baby, a bit later we found out there was going to be twins. I explored the idea that even the unexpected is a miracle, and it’s up to us to find the miracles in life.

Shifting perspectives from a producer to performer has not changed how driven Matthew is, ” You can have one without the other, I really enjoy producing. Watching the song come to life, often in the studio I am alone. As humans we connect with people. But performing live it’s about connecting with the crowd. If you write a song and connect to it, watching it connect with other people is a great experience.

Keeping things light, we discussed superpowers. “I wouldn’t want to pick something that would get me in trouble”, Mathew laughs. Settling on flying because of past dreams of flight made sense for this up beat artist.

On touring Matthew had this to say; “I love touring, Canada can be really hard to tour. There are long drives in between venues. But its also fantastic! The people out east are embracing and loving. Not many artists get out east so the response is amazing. Out West has a vibrant music scene and its just awesome to get out there to play music”.

Matthew let us in on a cool moment during a past European tour (two years ago) he experienced while playing drums for Shad. I have been friends with Shad even before the music and I was super proud of him and it was amazing to see the response to his music. while over and Europe, I think in Germany it was really awesome- and one of my favorite experiences- to see lines outside of every venue and people knew the words to the songs. That tour will also stand out for me because at the end of it my girlfriend at the time and I took some time to travel a bit and I proposed. (She said Yes!)

Matthew Johnston has presented listeners with his honest take on reconnecting with pop music. Six tracks that talk about relatable subjects with an overall positive theme mixed with excellent producing. There will be Miracles is an exhilarating positive breath that hopes to reconnect listeners with honest emotion within their musical experience.

The EP is out TODAY! And is talking with his label about touring it . Hopefully in either the fall or early next year. Adding a heartfelt, “Thank you to those who have supported me already. To those wanting to check out the album, There Will Be Miracles” its on iTunes now”

Matthew can’t wait to get out on tour and play live for more people. Until he stops in our city. We will be spinning Miracles. Don’t forget to keep up with the muli-talented musician Matthew Johnston here by clicking the links below:

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Interview with Walk off The Earth’s Sarah Blackwood

Author’s note: This article is appearing on my blog Canadian Tapped Promotions as a Throw Back Thursday to Canada Music Week in May 2014. Special thanks go out to Sarah Blackwood and The Kingston-Whig Standard.

Being a musician has been the reality for vocalist and instrumentalist, Sarah Blackwood. Since 2008 a band of friends who had been previously involved with other musical projects created Walk off The Earth originally from Burlington Ontario.

Speaking with me via phone after a scheduling difficulty was vocalist and instrumentalist, Sarah Blackwood. She also had a very vocal and happy Giorgio Michael, her son with fellow band member Gianni Luminati who had just woken up from his nap.

Performing at the Radio Music Awards at Canadian Music Week on May 7th in Toronto, Sarah described their stage show has two distinct varieties; “For us we try and make it not differ and have a production show where we can. We go all out and make each performance as exciting and intense as we can to make even more of an impact!”

Talking about Canadian Music Week, Sarah expressed excitement for performing in Toronto and said it “it’s the duty of fans to come and support the music that is surrounding them. Canada is on the radar more and more, and with more support we can only get bigger.”

Talking on the balancing act of mother hood and touring musician, Sarah described it as, “amazing!” it’s definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, being a mom and in a touring band. But we always have a positive attitude about everything and are happy. It all turns out.”

When asked about Walk off The Earth’s unique sound that seems to be under constant evolution, Sarah explained, “No our sound is never solid, it’s always changing, we wish people would do it more often with their music.”

Expanding further on how she feels that some bands limit themselves by not experimenting with different elements of music or playing with the bands’ sound. She outlined that Walk off The Earth is very open to experimentation. “We try to touch every avenue, and sometimes our label loves us and hates us for it.”

Writing process is starts with a collaborative effort between Johnny, Marshall and Sarah. “We are very open to bringing people in”. Sarah said, “We usually have multiple people writing on the songs and we want to work with many people because there are many creative people out there and we want to make the best songs ever!”

Musing about dream collaborations Sarah was quick to answer, “Freddy Mercury if he was still here, there are many people we would love to work with. Tim Armstrong is a great inspiration and we almost connected with him on our last trip to L.A. Lady Gaga. There are a lot of talented writers out there, you have to research who is out there”.

Keeping things light on tour can sometimes be a challenge as all musicians spend countless hours on the road traveling, Sarah let us in on how Walk Off The Earth likes to keep fit and have fun on tour. “We are very health conscious, we play soccer, play sports, go for jogs, do yoga and crazy aerobics while back stage so we can stay healthy to keep doing what we love to do.”

They understand that in order to keep up the demanding schedules and sometimes unpredictable “we want to do this for a living meaning, we want to live while doing it”

Talking about Walk off The Earth’s current album R.E.V.O, released October 29th, 2012, Sarah shared a story behind the title track. “it’s about the whirlwind experience of signing with a major label and wondering if we made the right choice, and all the emotions of that song came from our hearts”.

Closing out the interview with a fun question, musing about what superpower would help her out as a musician. Laughing Sarah said if she had the ability to read minds would be awesome, but would love the ability to fly as it would be very useful.

My Canadian Music Week round up can be found here.

Lee Casement Invites you to In The Guest Room Round 3

Local musician, Lee Casement who has a unique take on the relationship of songwriter and performer. His latest installment of In the Guest Room: Redemption in Disguise has continued a project embarked upon a number of years ago as a grassroots effort. 

A local teacher and family man with musical roots chuckled as he confessed to being “too old to be a rock star”. He has made quite a name for himself locally with his series of albums entitled, In the Guest Room.

Sitting at one of the wooden tables nestled in one of the many Starbucks located in Kingston Lee gets comfortable waiting a bit for his drink to cool. He started by explaining where the collaborative project originated at having the passion to share music.

“By Just having enough musical ideas that that I wanted to share with musical collaborators, and family members. I wanted to work with as many people as possible.” Lee stated.

As the conversation continued and he revealed many of his collaborations have been local artists who either apporach him about being involved or he finds through various channels. Lee Spoke fondly of one of his many collaborations, “On the second album, entitled By Design or By Desire I got to work with Johnathan Tyrell, his group is ketch Harbor Wolves is out of Toronto.

In an age where many musicians are both the singer and songwriter Lee takes an interesting step by only composing the melodies.

” I don’t do any of the lyrics, as more people came on board people are asking what the themes are?” He explained that with the first album there wasn’t a set structure but as it grew themes of family, redemption and love started to emerge.

Sticking to his modest beginnings Lee has blazed his own musical path. “I don’t have any formal music training, played by ear, write by ear”. Lee remarked about his song writing process. This has allowed him to branch out adding more instruments to his repertoire of knowledge. Later adding “through three albums, if the groove sounded good we went with it”.

Commenting to many lessons learned over years of touring with other bands. He mentioned this project has presented its own unique brand of challenges, “So many, Scheduling, with the second record, I had nine songs on the second record with six drummers. With everyone wanted to be involved and it was hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules with studio time and to make sure I was there.”

On the third record I scaled it back and there is only myself and two other guys who play all the instruments on this album. I wanted to prove to myself I could play more of the instruments myself”.

The title is Redemption In Disguise, not to prove to anyone else but more up the anti and prove to myself that I could accomplish more of the album myself. I took a line from one of the songs.”

Remembering the days where he was playing in other bands “When I was with other bands, I got to play places in Ottawa in Toronto (the Horseshoe Tavern) that I got to go as a fan, which was surreal. ”

“I’m a pretty tame person”. He commented laughing. Hinting there were no unbelievable stories from his touring days. But many lessons learned.

Kingston and surrounding area is also home to many creative people. Lee: Evening Hymns, they are an indie/folk duo with rock elements. They were up for a Polaris, a couple of years ago. We went to their show at Queens and we got talking as we live near each other. I would try to get to know them a bit better before asking if they wanted to collaborate with me.”

As Lee mentioned influences and people he has previously worked with, a fun opportunity came up to talk about the upcoming festivals this summer. He would love to play the local Wolfe Island Music Festival and give me a sample of bands he would book if it were up to him to customise a festival lineup. “The National, Evening Hymns, Daughter, William Fitzsimons, Block Party.

For the CD release show happening TONIGHT, March 28, 2014 at the Next Church on Colborne Street. Johnathan Tyrell is opening the show and also joining Lee onstage to play their song, Nostalgia. This show is all ages with a donation at the door cover, don’t miss out on support this fantastic local artists. Find more music at: www.intheguestroom.com

Whiskey Epiphany Talks: Songwriting Process, a Memorable Gig and Meals on the Road

In this 2011 photo

Whiskey Epiphany in this 2011 photo

CTP: Give me a glimpse into the early years, how did the band start?

Mike: The band got its start in a bit of a slow moving way. I had written about 10 songs over the year 2010-2011 and started gathering each member slowly after that. Dave Toms (on the Cajon) came on board first, then Kris Tonkens soon after to harmonize on most of the tracks. Kris has since moved to Australia with her husband and the female vocals are being taken care of by my sister Lianne Gravitis. Never stopping the momentum of writing, the other members – David MacLean, and Jack MacLean (father and son) – joined later on Mandolin/fiddle and bass. Lots of family going on in the band! The rest is history as they say.

CTP: Tell me the story of how you decided on the band name?

Mike: The name came about when Kris and I were recording the band’s first three song demo (which had It Will Shine for One, Let Your Love, and Something About Whiskey on it). For inspiration sake, I pulled out a bottle of whiskey during the recording of Something About Whiskey, and the next morning Kris declared the band name – Whiskey Epiphany!

CTP: Any place you haven’t toured yet that you want to get to?

Lianne: An East and West coast tour for sure is a future goal and something I personally have always wanted to do. I love the idea of playing at all the small Canadian towns and getting to drive across our beautiful country. It’s such an adventure!! We’ve played a lot between Hamilton and Toronto and are looking to break into the Guelph/Kitchener, and Ottawa/Kingston areas as we keep getting told the music fits really well in the college/university scene. We have active radio play on Mohawk College’s Indi 101.5 which has been a great relationship thus far.

CTP: Is there any tour stories you can share?

Lianne: Well last year we had an interesting experience at North By Northeast (NXNE) at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto. The day before the gig Mike got food poisoning… really bad. The next day feeling no better, we were at the gig where we were having the entire gig filmed for a hopeful video release. Mike turned to me a second before the first song and said “if I look at you funny…I may puke…so cover for me”. I look over at him with panic and said “I don’t know all your words!! DON’T DO THIS TO ME!” lol. Despite some serious close calls we made it through without incident. And Mike doesn’t look THAT sick in the video…maybe just a bit sweaty from trying to hold everything inside his tortured body haha.

CTP: Favourite meal on the road?

Mike: Meat. Or cheese. Or meat and cheese. And bacon. Dave Toms: Something green and leafy that has no heartbeat. Lianne: Any sort of car snack – both sweet and salty so I don’t puke in the car and or kill anyone with my low blood sugar rage. And burgers. Dave MacLean: Breakfast Food! Greek or western omelettes. Jack MacLean: Breakfast sandwiches

 

CTP: Any stories you are willing to share behind tattoos you have? (If any)

Mike: I have a tattoo of a Celtic cross on my right arm because I was trying to cover up a mistake I made when I was 18. I thought the design was cool in that teenage brain of mine. A native Shaman told me it would be a good idea to cover it up so I did. True story. Dave Toms has a sweet Starfleet emblem over his heart because he’s the man.

Lianne wants a hummingbird eventually!

 

CTP: Who are your musical influences?

Whiskey Epiphany: Our musical influences are so widespread! We all have such diverse tastes in music. Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Flogging Molly, The Mahones, Glen Hansard, Griffin House, soul music, Mumford and Sons, Mars Volta, System of a Down, and hundreds more. All these artists provide an emotional impact which is a major plus for us and helps the creative juices flow!

 

CTP: Are there plans to record another album?

Lianne: Our debut album called, Old Story was released in October of 2012, which was recorded with producer Charlie Jacklin at Kerr Village Productions in Oakville, Ontario. We are about 70% done writing all the tunes for the next album to hopefully record by the end of this year. (Editors note: Their softmore album is still pending release at the time of publication).

 

CTP: Tell me a story behind a song you have written?

Mike:Be My Rock was written over 3 days. I was at work at 9 a.m. and just started singing to a melody that hadn’t existed prior. I came up with the first verse and chorus to only the music in my head. I scribbled the words down after a solid half an hour of pacing around the warehouse I work at and left them alone for the rest of the day. I had the next day off and paced around my apartment with my guitar while singing the lyrics I had written. It took almost an entire morning of walking in circles to finally nail the main part of the song. By the end of the next day, and after belting out more than I could handle, it was finally done! We are just finishing up the studio version of that tune now to release as a single later this month.

 

CTP: What is your favourite song to play live?

Mike: Anything new. I have a bad habit of getting bored quickly, which I think is why I keep writing. For some time now, it seems like every jam we have I keep bringing at least one new original song to work on. I love seeing the evolution of the tunes, because no matter how many times you play them in a basement or alone, once you put the song out there live, it will shift and change based on how it goes live. However, with that said Be My Rock is a favourite for me right now to play live. It’s a really powerful song, with a hidden surprise halfway through so it’s always fun to play.

Lianne: My favourite song to play live is In My World because it is high energy and is the only song I sing full lead on (*laughs*). Just kidding – It really is just a fun song to sing and the lyrics are awesome! My pup recently passed away so the lyrics are especially meaningful to me at the moment and I really feel the song more than ever now.

 

CTP: Tell me about your song writing process? Is it collaborative or is one member primarily responsible?

Mike: Up until now, I have written all of the music/lyrics and brought them to the band to build upon. With that, things change and evolve. Endings come sooner or later, new riffs or even chord progressions are generated, and harmonies are produced. I suppose you can say it is a bit of a collaborative effort to get the song to where it ends up being.

 

CTP: What’s up next for the band?

Mike: Expand, expand, expand. With more material getting written all the time, and more and more people getting on board with the band, it’s awesome to see how everything is growing. It’s been a real grassroots effort so far, and I much prefer it that way. We’d like to keep playing more cities, meet new people and bands, and keep the momentum rolling! It’s been a great ride so far and we are looking forward to what the future holds for us!

The Standstills prove you don’t need a full band to Bring Big Sound!

Oshawa’s own, the Standstills remind me of the early days of The White Strips with electrifying sound, and unprecedented harmony. Renee and John opened for the Tea Party during their last Canadian tour dates in Summer 2013. With their first full length album self-produced: Pushing Electric is a staple for any Canadian Rock fans.  They are finishing up their winter tour across Canada in Kingston Tonight, with a free show at the Merchant. This show also features local acts The Method and Sons of Stone.Renee

Catching up with Renee Couture and Johnny Fox on their last visit to Kingston check out our interview below.

CTP: Who are your influences?

Renee: Many Canadian Music, growing up on Canadian Radio. The Tea Party

Johnny: Mine are all older, Like old school blues. So old you can barely hear because the recordings were are so old. Some of the staple bands were The Tea Party incidentally enough. New Queens of the Stone Age, it varies but

CTP: Name some memorable concert experiences you have had in College?

TS: A band out of Quebec called Bionic. There was a lot of great indie stuff, a few great underground bands. Queens of The Stone Age.

CTP: Best part about touring?

TS: Renee: There is no worst part! Except maybe finding time to do laundry.

Johnny: Touring is everything we love to do. We live to do this. There is nothing we would rather be doing.

CTP: If you weren’t touring musicians what would your job be?

Johnny: I would be involved somehow, as a song writer.

Renee: I always said if I couldn’t be in a band I would want to work with bands. So probably managing.

CTP: If you could pick a superpower which would it be?

TS: Johnny: to harmonize with myself, at any point I could just hit six harmonies at once.

Renee: To have eight arms

CTP: what is your favourite song to play live?

TS: Renee: Pushing electric the song we are opening with tonight.

Johnny: For me it changes, my favourite song to play is the one that gets the best crowd reaction, that’s what I like. It’s where I get my energy from.

CTP: Is there any place in Canada you haven’t hit yet that you’re looking to get to?

Renee: Out West.

Johnny added, The Yukon. ” Having a passion for brining music to places that it doesn’t frequent”.

Tonight marks another great show at The Merchant in Kingston. Everything starts at 10pm, come down for a free show.

Warped Tour 2013

Vans Warped Tour 2013Fresh off a goodnights sleep and back in Kingston I am  missing Toronto already.

To say the weather was fair is a bit under enthusiastic! And it was different because I wasn’t covering Warped Tour as I have quickly become accustom to. But still had an amazing time non-the less. I got to talk to a couple of bands that I have previously interviewed and watch their sets.  Made me love their sound even more!

I got to chat with July Band shortly before the Toronto date of Warped Tour 2013! Check it after my review of the days events.

The day was a mix of sun and rain which should have reduced the crowds but as music always prevails, Some big names headlined the Kia Stages, yet the best surprises were at the smaller stages.  Reading the day’s schedule tying to plan my day and avoid any overlap, I was excited to find out that some bands that had made the bill were ones I had previously talked with. ( Crystalyne, Acers of Lions, Courage My Love). They rocked the heck out of a not so dry situation and made it truly the best day ever!

Best surprise of the day, on recommendation from Acers of Lions bassist Dave, was to hit the acoustic basement tent, (which could have been placed further from the medal acts at the stage to the left. Where Billy the Kid was captivating! She also was exuberant to announce that she would be joining the rest of dates for Warped tour 2013. Billy the Kid hailing from Vancouver, is a Canadian Singer/Song Writer with a memorable voice. I can’t get  “Running”  out of my head, after picking up her EP Stars Exploding.  Check out one of her earlier songs, “Us Broken Hearts” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfFyjF4cKwA

With a small break in acts I wanted to see what some of the vendors had to offer.  Wandering and general people watching took precedence. I was on the hunt for July band merch tent, which proved unfound, in the sea of merch tents and record companies seemed endless.  I even recognised a few of the Roadies, from the Fuse sponsored show “Warped Tour Roadies”! (Defiantly worth a watch).

Some bigger name surprises was, 3OH3 and Mad Child, of Swollen Members who had some solo work to offer. He was highlighted on Much Music ‘s show New Music Live the previous day deputing his new single, “It gets better”. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avBvj2dIt8M&feature=c4-overview&list=UUBJcLcYDDLHNRZF96P9Hz5g

Catching up with July Band’s vocalist Devin Moody, shortly before they were set to play the Toronto stop of Warped Tour 2013 they talked with Canadian Tapped Promotions about Warped Tour and announced new music to be released next month!

July Band Promotion ShotCTP: Is this your first time playing Warped Tour?

Devin: Yup! This is our first time on Warped and we’re so thankful and excited.

CTP: Pick one of your songs and can you give me the story behind it?

Devin: Our song “What We Signed Up For” is a song about following your dreams. A lot of people will put you down or laugh at your dreams but if it makes you happy then follow your heart. You have to do what makes you happy not what everyone else wants you to do. So, that’s why we wrote the song!

CTP: What is your favourite song to play live?

Devin: We all talked at band practise the other day about this and I think we all collectively decided “Second Best” was our favourite to play live.

CTP: Who would you collaborate with given the chance?

Devin : Patrick Stump (Fall out Boy)

CTP: Any Tour stories you can share? 

Devin: Our bassist Marc got really drunk on the first night of our tour in Japan with some of the other bands and was jumping roof to roof and ended up losing his phone/all his money… on the FIRST day of tour.

CTP: What do you think is the Summer of 2013 song?

Devin: That’s a tough call. I personally am really digging Michael Buble’s new single “It’s a Beautiful Day”. It’s a great break up song but still is super catchy and upbeat.

CTP: What’s up next for the band?/ anything else you want to tell your fans?

Devin: We’re touring in the USA again this August and releasing new music later this month! We’ll be writing a new record this winter. Then…we’ll take over the world!

Check out July Band Official at their website; www.wearejuly.com for upcoming tour dates and You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/wearejuly  . Devin (vocals) along with his band mates, Andrew Falcao (guitar/BV), Marc Sautter (Bass/BV) and Sam Guaiana (drums). Pulled a killer set on the  Kevin Says Stage at Warped Tour 2013!

Kevin Lyman you and your crew have produced a fantastic show 17 years running.  Thank you very much for a much anticipated #Bestdayever!

See Spot Run’s Gonna Getcha on Stage!

The members of See Spot Run; Fudge, Aaron, Chris and Randy

The members of See Spot Run; Fudge, Aaron, Chris and Randy

 

See Spot Run has proved lasting power in an industry that swallows up talent like an ever hungry predator stalking its prey. Opening for famous acts like Bon Jovi and AC/DC are just two of the many highlights Montreal natives, now based in Toronto have encountered. Quickly working (thanks to technology) I was able to secure an interview with front man and bassist Chris Brodbeck and guitarist Aaron Little shortly before their set. Drummer David Fudge and Randy Bowen on guitar. Chris started off by describing how they came to be See Spot Run. (SSR),”The band started as an amalgamation of two bands at the time. That began song writing and playing shows that eventually made “Weightless”. We have made music since weightless and will be playing songs from all the albums. The Red Dog was actually where we debuted “weightless”, it hadn’t even hit radio stations yet. Peterborough holds a special place in our hearts, “It’s a very classic place”.”

CTP: What’s the story behind the name?

SSR: See Spot Run (SSR) named after the classic school reader that has been since been retired from the school system. Some of our younger fans know it as a name of our band or the 90’s movie.

CTP: If you could pick a song to tell me the story behind.

SSR: Well weightless was written in Winnipeg at my brother’s house on his guitar. The people who owned the house before him were a part of the Canadian band Street Heart. It was written in a very musical home. When I was toying with the melody and went to the bathroom and on the back of the toilet, his wife had a hairspray bottle and it said weightless. And when I came back down stairs the song came together.

CTP: Any tattoo stories you want to share?

SSR (Aaron): Our drummer Fudge has Fantasia on his arm, Mickey mouse and the dancing brooms.

SSR (Chris): I haven’t narrowed it down yet. Except you’re not suppose to worry about what it is, I missed the train on that one.

CTP: What is the writing process like?

SSR: Its really what came first, the chicken or the egg? And it really depends on the song. For me its melody first then the lyrics come after. (randomly throwing out words while having a melody run through your head seemed to work for Paul McCartney).

CTP: If you could have a super power what would it be?

SSR(Aaron): Flying.

SSR (Chris): Reading minds. Very dangerous, but it would save so much time. I would also like to be really strong so no one could beat me up. so if someone ever had beef with me I could just say, “Drop the gloves”.

CTP: What’s your favourite place you have toured?

SSR(Aaron):  Flin Flon Manitoba, and Jasper because of the Alps. Places that have character.

SSR (Chris): We should be drunk! (sarcasm). There is this misconception about rock and roll we are forever hiding the truth.

CTP: Favourite cartoon growing up?

SSR: Bugs Bunny and the Flintstones and the Great Kazoo. New stuff Futurama is good.

CTP: First  instrument you learned?

SSR: guitar, I played a piano before learning guitar, but never formally learned. I will learn one day! When I’m retired! The thing about musicians is they very rarely retire.

CTP: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

SSR (Chris):Keith Richards.

SSR (Aaron): Dave Graul or Slash.

At this point they turned the interview around on me, in a short rapid fire questions some of which I could answer and some shamefully couldn’t.

SSR: Name the members of Pink Floyd, What is the name of William Shatner’s Character on Star Trek? Name the members of the Beatles?

CTP: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Star, John Lennon.

CTP: What’s your favourite top 40 band right now?

SSR: Yukon Blond right now, There are many good artists out there I can never remember the name of songs. Jack White’s new stuff is awesome!

CTP: What’s the one question you have always wanted to be asked but haven’t been asked yet?

SSR (Chris): Have we ever swore in a song? And the answer is yes, but you have to figure out which one.

SSR (Aaron):Do I wish I had Chris’ hair? And no, no I do not, but he pulls it off well.

Laughing about the misconceptions of Rock and Roll Chris and Aaron are very down to earth reminiscing about 80’s and 90’s cartoons and laughing about being on Sana Monica beach less than two weeks ago, which was welcome vacation from the cold snap in Ontario. They play a hell of a show live demanding your unwavering attention from start to finish, even covering Classics including, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, which had the crowd on their feet. Currently writing for their next album, their first full length French release. See Spot Run can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seespotrunband , Twitter (@seespotrun) and regularly update their website with tour dates and blogs at www.seespotrun.ca

Half Way To Hollywood: an Interview with one of Canada’s emerging pop-punk bands

Thank you so much to Grant Walker from Vancouvour’s own, fresh pop punk band, Halfway To Hollywood who recently closed their second tour of Canada up to Montreal Quebec. Check out their debut EP, “Party Like its Prom Night” available now on Itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/party-like-its-prom-night-ep/id606210069

Grant Walker (lead vocals and guitar), Brenden White (bass, vocals), and Roman Zugarazo (drums) come together with similar influences to create a unique pop-punk sound. Grant takes time out shortly after the tour ended to answer some questions for us! Check out his answers below,album cover of their new EP 'Party Like its Prom Night' out now

CTP: How is tour going so far? Is this your first cross Canada tour? if yes, favourite part so far? if not, favourite city you have played?

HWH: This has been our fourth tour and our second time crossing Canada to Montreal.  Our hometown Vancouver has always been my favourite to play, but I think every town or city we’ve played has its own special something about it.   

CTP: How would you describe your sound live to someone who hasn’t experienced it yet?

HWH: High energy, positive, upbeat and catchy with meaningful lyrics

CTP: How did Halfway to Hollywood start?

HWH: Brenden I had been jamming for a while in some not-so-serious bands and eventually started writing songs.  We wanted to make a band influenced by some of our favourites: The Friday Night Boys, Boys Like Girls and Marianas Trench.  We eventually found our own unique sound which you can hear on our new record ‘Party Like it’s Prom Night.’

CTP: what is the story behind the band name?

HWH: When we were recording our first demo’s Brenden and I would sometimes jokingly say ‘we’re halfway to Hollywood now!’ anytime we finished tracking a part or whatever.  After considering a ton of different names we eventually realized the perfect name had been right under our noses the whole time!  I like it because I think it implies optimism and moving forward.

CTP: Favourite song to play live?

HWH: Personally, ‘Speechless’ because I love hearing everyone sing along.

CTP: Story behind one of the songs that is on the album?

HWH: The song ‘To Yesterday’ started out a lot slower and more melow than it ended up.  We demo’d it for our producer Danny, who suggested a more up-tempo sound.  It’s really cool going into the studio with one idea and then gradually fleshing it out into something totally different.

CTP: Any tour stories or pranks you are willing to share?

HWH: One morning after we had spent the night parked on the side of the highway a mother bear and her cubs were nosing around outside of our van.  We didn’t want to spook her and get into a confrontation but we couldn’t leave because one of the guys had left his shoes outside.  We ended up spending a couple hours waiting until she was gone before grabbing the shoes and heading to the next rest stop as fast as we could!

CTP:  who are your musical influences?

HWH: We listen to pretty much everything and it all comes into play at times.  The big ones though would be Simple Plan, Marianas Trench, Hedley, Boys Like Girls and the Friday Night Boys.  

CTP: Best and worst of spending time on the road?Halfway to Hollywood.jpg2

HTH: I love seeing the country, playing every night and meeting/hanging out with so many cool people.  The downside of touring is being away from the people we love back home.

CTP:  If you could tour anywhere, where would you like to play?

HWH: Honestly I think it would be hard to top Canada.  I’m really looking forward to branching out into the US though!

CTP: Pick the lineup for your dream festival in which Halfway to Hollywood is apart of?

HWH: We’re happy to play with anybody who is as passionate as we are about music but any of the bands I mentioned earlier would be especially rad to share the stage with!

CTP: What’s up next for Halfway to Hollywood?

HWH: As much touring as we can fit in, to as many places as we can get to (hopefully including some US dates finally).   Getting out and connecting with our fans in person as well as online is a huge part of who we are as a band.  We also have plans for another video or two, some covers, and maybe even a new single!

The guys of Halfway to Hollywood are super nice and love to interact with fans, catch them here and pick up a single or their EP “Party Like Its Prom Night”.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HalfwayToHollywood

Twitter: @halfwaytoholly

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/halfwaytoholly

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/halfway-to-hollywood

Hope to see you out at one of their shows soon! There may be a late summer tour in the works! If you want to see Grant, Brenden and Roman play live,  let them know through social media and who knows it may just get them to your city!

Bleeker Ridge to dominate Summer Music Scene talks to Canadian Tapped

Ontario rockers Bleeker Ridge have shown no signs of slowing down. Fresh off their latest album release, “Four” released June 4th, 2013, they are set to rock Big Music Fest in Belleville Ontario Saturday June 22, 2013. Hitting the stage at 2pm they urge fans to come early for a good view of the stage!

Reverting back to a style of writing they expebleeker ridgerienced when Bleeker Ridge first formed ten years ago Taylor Perkins (Vocals), Dan Steinke (Guitars), Cole Perkins (Guitars), Dustin Steinke (Percussion) have shown incredible versatility in their music and prove little time between albums (though unplanned) can do some good.

I recently was able to talk to Bleeker Ridge through email and they were kind enough to answer some questions about the new album, touring and insights to their song writing and lyrics. Check it all out below!

CTP: Give me a glimpse into the early years, how did the band start?

BR: We all were taking music lessons at our local music store, they hosted a jam night and we all ended up playing together that night, It clicked and felt great. So we exchanged numbers and started rocking in the basement for fun.

CTP: Tell me the story of how you decided on ‘Bleeker Ridge’ to be the band name?

BR: We were sitting around one night thinking of a name for the band, and Joe (Taylor and Coles dad) mentioned maybe we name it after the streets the 2 sets of brothers lived on. We never thought it would stick but here we are 10 years later!

CTP: How has coming from a small town influenced your writing style?

BR: I think it influenced the style on our last album (small town dead) more so just because we were young and looking to experience the world and new things and not be stuck doing the same thing at the same places each day, where now we have been out on the road for the past 2 years and we enjoy coming back to our hometown and seeing friends and going to those same spots.

CTP: Any place you haven’t toured yet that you want to get to?

BR: We are very eager to get across the boarder into the US. We have people hitting us up on social media from the states so we are very much wanting to go there. And Europe, they love their rock!

CTP: Any tour stories/ pranks you can share?

BR: There are lots of pranks that go on while we are on the road. I cant specifically mention things but I can tell you that there is a lot of collusion!

CTP: Favourite meal on the road?

BR: Oh, McDonalds!! Junior chickens and Mcdoubles! All day and all night!

CTP: Any stories you are willing to share behind tattoos you have?

BR: I personally have a tattoo on my ass cheek that says “YUPP” and the U has eyes in it and makes a smiley face….  Dan got a tattoo gun off ebay, I agreed to let him tattoo me if we got signed to a major label. So now I have a pretty shitty ass tattoo.

CTP: Who are your musical influences?

BR: They vary. We all listen to different artist at different times. But we are big fans of older rock, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Beatles, SoundGarden etc.  

CTP: How has the new record, ‘Four’ progressed your sound?

BR: I think we have matured as players and song writers. We actually have kinda gone back to how we used to write when we first started playing together. But this record definitely has matured and is a real honest album.

CTP: Tell me a story behind a song on the new album?

BR: SLEEP, Tay was out in Montreal for a weekend that got wild one night. The lyrics throughout the whole song give a glimpse into what went down that whole night. But overall the song is about being too drunk and high and all you want do is sleep. 

CTP: What is your favourite song to play live?

BR: I love playing “sick of you” live, it’s got a cool shuffle type groove in the verses. But off the new album right now I really like playing “shine”.

CTP: Tell me about your song writing process? Is it collaborative or is one member primarily responsible?

BR: We all write as a group. But it will start usually with someone having a guitar riff and we will jam on that and build off that one riff. Tay writes all the lyrics, and he will start doing those once the music is close to finished that way he has an idea of where he wants to take it lyrically.

CTP: Why such a long time between albums?

BR: Well it wasn’t planned that way, it just kinda happened. We left roadrunner about a year after small town was released. Then we kept touring and working on how we were going to get back in the studio and who we were going to have produce the album. And since we were now an unsigned band we had to figure out how we were going to fund the album. If we could have we would have liked to have the album out much sooner then it did, but everything happens for a reason and we are very pleased with the way this album turned out.

CTP: How has the time off influenced Bleeker Ridge?

BR: I think it let us really focus on the songs, some bands drop a record tour it for a year or 2 and hit the studio right away and it feels rushed and not as strong of a record as their last.  I think we got to come home, recharge and get these songs right. We got to write back at home and do pre production at home. The album is raw and real and I think that came from working out all the tunes in the garage where we started.

CTP: Independent artists vs Signed? Which do you prefer and why?  

BR: I don’t have a preference, I think a good song is a good song and a good band is a good band, and there are lots of bands out now who are independent who have great catchy songs, just as there is with signed major label bands. And now a days, bands are proving that you don’t need that massive record deal and massive recording budget to make a good album. At the end of the day it all comes down to a great song.

If you cant get enough of Bleeker Ridge and their infectious rock sound, your in luck! Kingston Punk Productions is hosting Bleeker Ridge and Airbourne on Friday August 16th, 2013 at The Mansion in Kingston Ontario! Get your tickets now!

Don’t wait! head over to Bleeker Ridge’s website http://www.bleekerridge.com for full tour details and links to their music. keep connected with them here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BleekerRidge

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BleekerRidge

iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/bleeker-ridge/id378841382

Here is the YouTube link to a fan made lyric video for “Last Cigarette: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmyeMsbaQNQ

Hope you all enjoy “Four” as much as I am and get out to a live show, From what I have heard people say about Bleeker Ridge they put on a “Kick Ass Show!”

Road Warriors, One Bad Son Start Fresh with Self Titled Debut.

Originally from Saskatoon, the four man band, ONE BAD SON comprised of Adam Grant (Bass) Adam Hicks (guitar), Kurt Dahl (Drummer) and Shane Volk (Singer) packed up and headed to Vancouver about three years ago to sign with Canada’s own, 604 records. Their debut self-titled album was released earlier this year (September 2012).One Bad Son

On their Ontario leg of the album release tour I got to catch Adam Grant (Bass) shortly before their gig recently at the Merchant Tap House in Kingston Ontario.

CT: How is working with 604 Records?
Adam: Working with 604 is great! They give us a lot of freedom as artists and that’s really all you can ask for! It’s great!
CT: How did the band start?
Adam: I am not an “original” member, Kurt and Shane, around 2004 starting jamming when their other projects fizzled out and got a hold of Adam Hicks shortly after. I came in round 2007.
CT: The band has a unique sound; can you talk about your music influences?
Adam: All of us are influenced by the bands from 70’s and early 90’s primarily; Led Zeppelin, The Who, Sound Garden and Pearl Jam. For me personally; Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Paul Jones from Zeppelin, especially now with the songs we have written recently. Shane’s voice has recently been compared to Bon Jovi and Axl Rose. People hear what is familiar to them.
CT: Pick a song and can you tell me the story behind it?
Adam: One that always seems to come up is, “Retribution Blues”. It’s the last track on the album. Song writing is such an interesting thing because things come up in so many different ways, whether it’s an idea that someone has or a jam. That’s what Retribution Blues” was a jam. We had just started jamming in this old house in Saskatoon, and it’s in this residential area, we played in the basement so we were worried about what the neighbours were hearing. So Kurt went outside to check the sound level and we just played this riff. Next thing he came barrelling down the stairs and said “yeah it’s not that loud but who cares, what was that riff?” and “Blues” was written in ten minutes. They are not all like that; Scarecrows took forever and went through many different variations. (Check out their YouTube channel listed below to take a listen).
CT: Any Tattoo stories you can share?
Adam: We are all tattooed to a degree. I have one related to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (on his right forearm) when I was sixteen. I also have some tattoos that have imagery that interest me.
CT: If you could have a superpower which one would you choose?
Adam: I’d probably go with flying, because I spend too much time in a damn van it would be nice to fly.
CT: If you weren’t touring in a rock band, what would you do for work?
Adam: I went to university for a couple of years; I took classes that interested me. I would love to be an author, which is akin to being a musician.
CT: Are you the main writer for the band or is it collaborative?
Adam: We all write. Its 25% each, we all collaborate. It’s rarely a situation that we have to twist someone’s arm.
CT: What’s up next for One Bad Son?
Adam: That’s a good question. We are going to be on the road for the next couple of months. That is a big chunk of time but we are always writing and there are couple of dates later on in the summer we are looking forward to. We love touring, promoting our music, talking to the fans and meeting people!

IMG_5297

Bassist Adam Grant of One Bad Son

ONE BAD SON up close and LIVE
Their live stage set up was typical of the traveling musicians, except for a stack of three vintage TVs with the band name printed in black stickers on them, which once turned on makes for an interesting banner! As with many bands to come from 604 Records I have been blown away by One Bad Son ‘s professionalism and quality of their live show! Even given a small venue they boast huge stage presence and are impressive to watch! Their sound reminds me of the rock era gone by (which is sorely missed by some). So it’s great to hear bands like One Bad Son using that familiar rock sound and use it in a unique way.

Try and get tickets to some of the festival dates they will be playing later in the summer as their cross Canadian tour just wrapped up. Check out their website (listed below) for the most recent show dates and keep an eye locked to Facebook and Twitter for updates from the road. Thank you so much to 604 Records, One Bad Son and Strut Entertainment! One Bad Son is a band whose CD you want in your car or on frequent rotation on your iPod this summer as they have a classic sound that is perfect for those cottage days!One Bad Son posts to their social media often keep up with them here:

Official website: http://www.onebadson.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/onebadson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onebadson
ITunes: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/one-ba…
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/OneBadSonTV

Remember- keep one ear to the speaker and a #RebelHeart tapped into Canadian Music!