Today’s Feature – October 28-29: Chef Spike

October 30, 2008 at 1:58 am (Today's Feature)

If I’m not mistaken (and someone will definitely tell me if I am), it’s our 289th feature… and our first one with a chef. But what a debut it is! You’ve seen Chef Spike on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Chicago,” the young guy with the stylish head gear who has been a part of the restaurant business since he could walk. This guy isn’t just a TV personality who was lucky enough to be on a TV Show – Spike has the chops (and the charisma) to take on any kitchen, anywhere. Just look at this resume:

– Educated at the Culinary Institute of America, and upon graduation, received the highest award offered at the Culinary school, the Francis Roth Leadership Award.

– Worked under Chef Gerard Boyer and Chef Thierry Voisin at Les Crayeres in Reims, France.

– The guy has worked at Le Cirque in New York City, and even helped open Mai House in Tribeca (leading his own team there).

The best part about Chef Spike (for us PEV guys anyway), is that he opened “Good Stuff Eatery” right in our neighbors yard in Washington, DC. Good Stuff Eatery has produced some of the best burgers, fries and shakes you’ve ever had (The Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake is unbelievable!).  If you want to catch Spike, stop by Good Stuff Eatery. Now I need to get some eats myself. Check out www.Goodstuffeatery.com and get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Spike

Richie: The restaurant looks great, Spike. So, are you from DC?

Spike: No, I’m originally from Montreal… I traveled around the world basically, I lived everywhere. I had been living in New York City for the past three years. I was in the restaurant scene there. And of course, I did the Top Chef TV show. I wanted to launch my brand as a restauranteur and chef, not just a chef and that’s what you expect from a chef, so launching it in New York, it is so saturated and I didn’t want the critics jumping all over me because of being on the show. I felt like this was an amazing location – I have my restaurant group on the third floor and the main restaurant right here. I couldn’t be happier. All the stars just lined up kind of perfect. Plus my family is here as well.

Richie: So your family lives in DC now too?

Spike: Yeah. My sister has been here for about six years and my parents moved here a little while ago to be by her. And now I’m here.

Richie: How are you liking DC so far?

Spike: I love DC. The nightlife is a little – it lacks some (laughs). Well, compared to New York. I mean it’s good to have in my life right now. DC lets you relax and take it easy too. The food scene is here and getting better.

Richie: From the show, people obviously notice you. Have you been stopped a lot here?

Spike: Oh yeah, I have a really nice fan base, or now they hate me because I run a burger place. But it’s nice when people recognize you. They feel like they know you, from being on the show. It’s interesting about how they approach you sometimes. I mean, sometimes it’s like real nonchalant, like ‘Hey Spike, how are you?’

Even a the airport yesterday, the guy was checking my bag and he was like, ‘Man, you got kicked off way too early.’ It’s surreal – an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t really trying to win $100,000 more so, I was trying to brand myself as a chef and that’s what I’m doing right now.

Richie: When you are not working or traveling, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Spike: Well, I actually have very little spare time right now. My girlfriend will tell you she hates that (laughs). I mean, just today, I was on a 5:30 AM flight this morning, back from Wisconsin for a private dinner for a charity event. My group keeps me very busy on events. I went to Burger Bash in Chicago and stuff like that. Whenever I have free time it’s about marketing myself and my restaurant group. It’s always work, work, work, work or doing an event that is helping me out in the industry. That and flipping burgers.

Richie: So what’s a normal day like for you? Wake up to sleep.

Spike: An average day here in DC would be I get here early. Have a cup a coffee, get the juices going. Just make sure everything is working well. My whole crew is a family. If they’re not family, they’re friends I met from New York. There are four of them that have all moved here from New York to launch the group with me. Also my parents, my sister, they are all involved. We have ventures like The Obama Burger. I’m coming out with the Bailout Burger soon… there’s all sorts of stuffs.

And the thing is we called it Good Stuff Eatery and not Good Stuff Burgers because I want to open more variety. I want to bring more variety to the masses. I want to bring things like soups, pizza… just trying to build the brand every day.

Richie: Was becoming a chef and owning a restaurant something you always aspired to do?

Spike: Yeah, well…um, it was going to happen whether or not I wanted it to. I come from a long line of family members in the restaurant business. My grandfather was in the business, his grandfather, my mother was a chef. I tried everything when I was a younger to get out of the business, like film school, marine biology (laughs) but something about it kept pulling me back in. It’s great though because I really love what I do. You can’t complain too much if you wake up everyday and get to do what you love.

Richie: I’ve heard a lot of war stories about the back kitchens, like chefs when they are first coming into the business, getting picked on. What was it like for you? Any war stories?

Spike: Well, first of all, I grew up in the restaurant business, so at like 14 I was washing dishes or whatever. And it’s a sub cultural we live in here and the people around us tend to be a little off or a little crazy. So growing up, I’d get a beat up and stuff like that. I mean the line cooks didn’t treat me like an owner’s son, they treated me like anyone else.

The best thing I could have done for my career was go to France. And this one restaurant was filled with like 60 pompous chefs and I was the only American – and that’s where the war stories begin. Whether it was purposely burning me with chicken stock or throwing a sauté pan at me because I had a hard time with the language… The one instance that sticks out the most was when I did a pastry stunt at that same restaurant and I did that for a couple of months. There was this Parisian chef that you could never understand and told me to make a soufflé order – he told me to make half an order. In Paris they are very waste conscious there and everything is the bottom line there and I ended up making a whole order. He comes to me with two plates and I had it ready for four. Then he starts yelling at me in French and how I was a stupid American and stuff like that. He then stripped me of my chef’s jacket and I was wearing nothing but a tank top. Then he had all his chefs duct tape me the pole and they all proceeded to pipe out the rest of the soufflé that I made on the top of my head (laughs). I was there for 45 minutes and they just pelted me with anything else they could find – eggs, glucose, flour…

Richie: Man Spike, that is a bad war story!

Spike: It’s a true story though and it’s… I mean that’s what they do in France they make an example out of you. I mean listen, I never made a whole order again. I definitely listened to the chef from then on. I look back at those events and really enjoy them. At the time I was mad that I was naked and had stuff all over me – well not completely naked but you know, you can never get away with that in the States. There would have been a million lawsuits. But that’s why I went there – to get that training. Now I can go to any kitchen and hang with them. Nothing intimidates me anymore.

Richie: Well something like that, I mean, you are in Paris, all alone and something like that happens – did you ever think that this wasn’t for you?

Spike: Never because I was always a go-getter and I knew what I wanted to do. When I was 18 years old and committed myself to the culinary world, I knew it was going to be a tough battle – especially where I wanted to go work. But you just do your work, keep your head down, stay out of trouble and just learn because it’s just, I mean it’s about paying your dues. You don’t just graduate culinary school and become the best chef. You may graduate law school and you become a good lawyer after that but in the culinary world it’s a long process. And after doing Top Chef, that really ran you through the mill, so I can do anything after that.

Richie: Becca, you have some questions?

Becca Lestner (PEV staff writer): I wanted to bring up some of your background that we had a chance to see on Top Chef, one thing was the Vietnamese influence. So why did you open a burger place? And is there any influence in the food we’ll taste tonight?

Spike: Well the whole reason I got into Vietnamese foods was that I did French cooking for so long. There is only so many times you can use butter or reheat vegetables with cream and that kind of stuff, so as a chef when you plateau you need to find something new to do. I got introduced Vietnamese food by a Vietnamese chef and he took me there, where I lived for about four or five months – traveled north to south and cooked my way through the whole entire region. It was just like a whole new bag of toys for me. The ingredients like lemon grass, herbs and all kinds of ingredients I’d never used before. Then I opened a French/Vietnamese restaurant in New York, I did that for about two years, which I didn’t own. I did Top Chef and people always looked at chefs as bad business people and I always looked at myself as a good businessman. I mean, you have to think; there are three million people that watch an episode and I wanted to open a restaurant that appealed to them – the masses.

I didn’t want to open a restaurant that was like a fine dining restaurant with like 45 seats that may appeal to like 20% of the people that watch. Especially with the economy, people don’t want to spend much. So, to open this was just a business decision. You look at the market you see the economy, the demographics of the area and you look at the fact you just went on a television show so why not try to appeal to everyone from the “foody” to the person that just likes burgers. I opened a restaurant that everyone could come to. We have burgers, chili, we make our own custard, we make milkshakes out of that, French fries, onion rings – just food you like to eat. There is a little bit of Vietnamese here with one of our burgers. So there is a little bit of Vietnamese flair in the burgers.

Becca: Obviously Good Stuff Eatery has been open for four months, and I hate to ask but what are you thinking next?

Spike: No it’s good. We are expanding the brand – The Good Stuff brand. It’s kind of a diamond in the rough, we spend a lot of money on the branding, the design, the feel. At first you are doing that and spending like over a million dollars for a restaurant on Capital Hill it can be a little intimidating. But after hearing the responses and seeing how well it’s done, it couldn’t have been a better move. Now I’m opening one in Union Station, one in Virginia, one in New York, so I’m building the brand. But I am getting back to my cooking roots. I’m very versatile. I have a crew that is very versatile and we can do anything from an Italian eatery, to a Greek eatery, to a French eatery… I think the thing that I want to do most is to do a Vietnamese tapas, by taking the cuisines of Vietnam and turning it into small plates. I think that’s a couple of years down the road. It’s all about getting the group together and seeing what our next project is. We’re not in a rush – we’re still young.

Richie: PensEyeView.com is an arts and music magazine, so what kind of music do you listen to?

Spike: I listen to everything, like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, all sorts of stuff. I have XM Radio here, which I think really helps build that brand. I mean you are sitting down having a burger and the Beatles or Led Zeppelin comes on or Reggae, it just feels good.

Becca: What was the last concert you went to?

Spike:  The last concert I went to was Coldplay. My girlfriend was ecstatic, she loves Coldplay. We saw them at The MCI Center.

Richie: So, what’s next for you?

Spike: The obvious is the restaurant group but I really want to do more television. I have a couple of shows and networks that are willing to take me on as their talent and launch it. I can’t really talk about them and nothing is set in stone but you’ll be seeing me on more television. And that is really why I did Top Chef. I knew I wanted to do my own cooking show and see how well I did on television. I think I did quite well.

Becca: Looking back at the show do you think you portrayed yourself as you liked?

Spike: I think unfortunately the editing was right on (laughs). No, no, I think I set out to do exactly what I wanted to do on Top Chef and I think they branded me the way I wanted. I branded myself that way – kind of spunky, kind of hipster, who likes to entertain. Which sometimes I focused on that more than the food (laughs). A lot of people think about what the show can do for you after it is over they just think in the now… I just think that is so… well, listen, I’m not going to talk shit about anyone (laughs). But you know people are going to see you after the show and people don’t realize, why come off so mean and rough. No one’s going to want to do business with you after that.

Richie: Is there anyone you still keep in touch with from the show?

Spike: Oh yeah. I keep in touch with Andrew a lot.

Richie: I thought he was hilarious!

Spike: I know! How could you not love that guy? The things he came up with to say on national television – I have no clue! The most energy that you’ve ever seen in your lives. And that’s why they (Top Chef/Bravo) put us together to do so many events together. I see Mark too, although he has his own restaurant and he’s married, so his life has taken a bit of a twist. I’m going to see Stephanie for the Common Threads charity event. Antonia I see. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and tell you I call Lisa every morning (laughs). I mean, not everyone is going to like each other. It’s good because Top Chef is like a little fraternity in a way and they bring us all back together for things all the time.

Richie: Well thanks Spike this has been great and I can’t wait to try some burgers and a milkshake.

For more information on Spike and Good Stuff Eatery, check out: www.goodstuffeatery.com

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Today’s Feature – October 26-27: Kate Campbell

October 30, 2008 at 1:56 am (Today's Feature)

The longevity of folk-Americana artist Kate Campbell should come as no surprise, and neither should the kind of and success she has become accustomed to. Her music is universal; stories about hush-hush topics such as race, religion, history, and of course a mass of human relationships, all told in a fashion anyone can appreciate and understand. She first received attention with her debut album, “Songs from the Levee,” a shining example of her honest and distinctive musical philosophy.

The new record, “Save the Day,” surrounds a Frederick Buechner quote found in the album’s liner notes, “It is no wonder that just the touch of another human being at a dark time can be enough to save the day.” This tone of hope and change is echoed throughout the collection, through R&B and pop rhythms and gospel, country and folk sounds. The record is true Kate – she says, “I feel that I am just now beginning to understand my own ‘voice’ even though I have been writing since I was a child.”

A Kate Campbell live performance is an intimate experience for sure – Kate likes to take the stage along with her guitar, going out into the audience with stories a plenty. Check the schedule and get out to a performance – the lady is everywhere. And keep an eye out for another record. Dive into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Kate Campbell

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us, how did you first jump into the music industry? Was music always an instant passion for you? Any hesitations.

Kate: I can’t say it was an instant passion it was just something I always did. When I was a little girl, I hung out a lot with the teenagers at the church and they all seemed to play guitar and sing so I picked up a lot from them. I never thought about doing it for a living.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Kate: Not really. I planned on being a college professor but one thing led to another and I ended up recording the songs and playing around Nashville, just hoping to get a publishing deal. This went on for several years before I got a record deal and publishing deal about the same time. I figured I would keep doing the music as long as folks seemed to respond to it. So I’m still plugging along now about 15 years later.

PEV: Describe the feeling of holding and seeing your own album in your hands and in the hands of others?

Kate: Sometimes it’s still a big disconnect. The first time I heard one of my songs on the radio I didn’t recognize the song until the vocal came in.

PEV: What kind of music were you listening to growing up? Do you remember your first concert you ever attended?

Kate: I’ve always been pretty eclectic because of the environment I grew up in. Church music, classical (because of piano lessons), some jazz (played clarinet in the band), I was born in New Orleans, lived in Mississippi and Nashville, around teenagers in the late ’60s and ’70s. The first official concert I went to was in the sixth grade and I went to see Bobby Sherman. I wanted to see Three Dog Night but my parents wouldn’t let me go. When I was in high school, I saw Linda Ronstadt and the last tour of Bread.

PEV: What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Kate: I usually look to see if there is anybody I know in the audience then I think about the first song and the intro.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music? Is there a certain “method” or “science” to your writing?

Kate: I wish I had one, but I’ve never really had a separate time or space to write but I’m always thinking. Sometimes it might be several years before I work out a song. But once it is worked out in my head, I can usually sit down and write pretty fast. I’ve been writing for song long now that I know when something works or not and can make corrections as I go.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Kate Campbell performance?

Kate: I usually like to see the audience and I tell a bunch of stories. Most of the time I am solo with the acoustic guitar. So even though the CDs are fully produced with a variety of instruments. For me, the songs have to work solo or they don’t work at all.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Kate: I can’t hardly remember that far back. But I am probably more relaxed now and interact more with the audience.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “Save the Day”?

Kate: I think it is “quintessential” Kate in that it has a variety of musical influences, and stories and subject matter that interest me.

PEV: How is this album different from your past works?

Kate: It’s not so much that it is different, but I hope it continues to show growth lyrically and musically from what has gone before. I feel that I am just now beginning to understand my own “voice” even though I have been writing since I was a child.

PEV: You said, “After reading a quote from Frederick Buechner, I kept thinking about the phrase, ‘save the day,’ and it just began to have a life of its own.” What do you hope “Save the Day” will spark in other’s minds as it did for you?

Kate: Save the day. Save the date. Savor the day. Every day is shining like the sun.

PEV: How would you describe your sound? In a thick and talented industry, how do you expect to stand out?

Kate: I think all anyone can do is be true to themselves and trust that the music is going to go where it needs to go.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Kate Campbell?

Kate: I mostly listen to books on CD or nothing when I am on the road.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any favorite spots on the road?

Kate: I usually really like being on the road. I like finding new restaurants along the way and I like looking for little stuff at truck stops, caps, new kinds of potato chips, key chains, maps.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

Kate: This is a hard one. Here’s a couple: Memphis, Belfast, Birmingham.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success? What is it like for you when you get to play a show in your hometown?

Kate: Everyone has been very supportive but I am always a little more nervous in my hometown than other places.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Kate: Reading, golf, watching all the Law and Order and NCI/mystery shows on TV, baseball, football.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for right now?

Kate: Another hard one. Have to think about that some more.

PEV: What’s been the craziest reaction from a fan you’ve ever had?

Kate: Nothing too crazy. Most of my fans tell me about restaurants and signs by the side of the road I might want to write a tune about. Some are pretty crazy.

PEV: Ten years down the road, where do you feel your career will be?

Kate: I hope I will still be writing and working on writing.

PEV: So, what is next for Kate Campbell?

Kate: We’ll see. I’ve been thinking about doing a “peace record” for a while.

For more information on Kate Campbell, check out: www.katecampbell.com

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Today’s Feature – October 24-25: Fall Back Plan

October 30, 2008 at 1:54 am (Today's Feature)

Imagine this – you’re a huge football fan, and you’ve just heard national recording artist, Trapt, has agreed to play at your favorite team’s (*cough Ravens cough*) kickoff party the weekend before the NFL season heads into week one. While there, you’re distracted by the bubbly cheerleaders making their way around the show, when your attention is successfully grabbed by an opening act that is simply kicking the stage right in the ass. Now when you combine football with a band this good, it seems like something you could only imagine – but Fall Back Plan is the real deal. The band is like a match made in PensEyeView Heaven, complete with guys and girl from the Baltimore-DC area.

Fall Back Plan started in July of 2007 as a writing project between lead singer Donice, Geoff Gill (Bass) and Brian Shealey (Guitar) while on a break from their respective bands (Donice was fronting The Sikes and Brian and Geoff were members of the band KaliCeleste). Since joining forces for good and recruiting Ken Crawn, they’ve won the Los Angeles Area Musicians Network (LAMN) competition and an NYC showcase judged by real music reps with real experience. The band has also produced “The Starting Over EP,” which Geoff refers to as a “rock’em sock’em over the top in your face and around your brain experience that will leave you crying alone in a public bathroom begging for Daddy to do it again.” Whoa… well, all you really need to know, is that this local band is set to capture eardrums all over the nation. Period.

You can expect a lot from their live show; some killer hooks, provocative lyrics and Brian breaking something, somehow. Donice talk about their performance, “I think we pretty much deliver more than what you expect to hear.  Records are normally over produced, so the live sound isn’t always the same, but I think we do a pretty good job of replicating it and giving the audience the energy that the CD may not capture.” Sounds like you gotta get to a show. Check the schedule, check the EP, and get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Fall Back Plan

PEV: When the band came together did the connection between band members come naturally or were things a little rocky at first?

Ken: There was already a good chemistry musically with Brian, Geoff, and Ken having played together in other projects. B playing with D briefly and writing together transcended into the whole mix.

Brian: We met as me, Ken and Geoff were playing in another band, and Donice was singing for her band at the time. I called her up and said “let’s write a song together” and we just clicked. We had a little musical ‘adultery’ from our respective bands with each other.

Geoff:  I’d say we had a natural connection, mostly because of our band policy to all sleep together at our first band practice; just to get the ugly stuff out of the way and focus on business.  We argued a bit about who would top and who would bottom, but once things get moving…let’s just say it’s a hard bus to turn around.

PEV: What type of musical influences did each member have that helped shape the sound of the band?

Brian:  U2, The Police, Public Enemy and the Smashing Pumpkins.  Also, the Far album ‘Water and Solutions’ is one of the great records I’ve ever heard in terms of sonic/production quality as well as material. Also, Radiohead’s The Bends, OK Computer and Especially Kid A are some of my favorites as well.  I can honestly say that Siamese Dream is the record that made me want to play guitar in a rock band.

Geoff:  I come from a strong opera and live stage musical background and I think it comes through in my playing.

Ken: I have a lot of classic and progressive rock influences with a blend of jazz and drum and bass. It allows for interesting grooves backing the driven guitar riffs and powerful vocals. Donice:  I’m pretty much all over the board.  I listen to a lot of popular music and take bits and pieces from whatever “moves” me.  This could be anything from R&B to Classic Rock.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your lives that made you realize music was going to be your career?

Geoff:  When I realized I was awful at everything else but at least mediocre at music.

Ken: I started playing in rock clubs at the age of 14. I knew early that this is all I ever wanted to do.

Donice:  Humm, basically when I looked at my options for majors in college.  I wasn’t interested nor good at anything else besides entertaining.  I think some people where just made that way.

PEV: What was it like stepping into a studio to record for the first time as a band?

Brian:  Well… Geoff and I are engineers and have our own Studio, where we recorded the Starting Over EP.  The project really started as a recording project with us just writing with Donice, so stepping into the studio wasn’t any different than any other day in the life of the band.

Geoff:  Sticky.

Ken: It felt like any other day to me. I love it.

Donice:  Awesome! Recording is cool because you get to actually analyze your songs and make changes for the better. FBP is the first band that I’ve been in where I’m actually excited about recording.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest work, “The Starting Over EP”?

Ken: Powerful vocals, driving guitars, and a solid rhythm section.

Brian:  Tightly written songs with big hooks that will stick in your head.

Geoff:  They can expect a rock’em sock’em over the top in your face and around your brain experience that will leave you crying alone in a public bathroom begging for Daddy to do it again.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Fall Back Plan concert?

Brian:  Me breaking something …(not on purpose.. and DEFINITELY not looking cool doing it…).

Ken: High energy, humor, and a real connection.

Donice:  I think we pretty much deliver more than what you expect to hear.  Records are normally over produced, so the live sound isn’t always the same, but I think we do a pretty good job of replicating it and giving the audience the energy that the CD may not capture.

Geoff: Most of our fans are “shoe gazers” so we really don’t have to do anything.  I don’t thing they even know what we look like.  Our last show we just played a cassette of an older show through the PA and tried to look sweaty at the end of the set.
PEV: How is “life on the road” for the band? Good parts and bad.

Geoff:  Ken is kind of competitive when it comes to car bingo…you know, when you check off things that you see when you are driving.  It starts innocently enough but after a couple bottles of Smirnoff Ice, Ken has a hard time keeping his erection to himself.

Ken: I live for the road.

Donice:  I like road trips as long as I’m not driving!  Long trips mean at least a few mood changes, so expect to hear an argument of some kind.  I’m pretty sensitive and emotional at times.

PEV: Any funny or interesting stories from your road trips?

Brian:  Yes… But nothing I can repeat as my mother may read this.

Donice:  New York, 3AM, White Castle!

PEV: Speaking of the traveling, your band has played up and down the East Coast. What has been your favorite city or venue to play?

Brian:   Personally, I like Fletcher’s in Baltimore, as it’s our home venue.  Also, anywhere in NYC is fun!

Geoff: My favorite gig was when we got to play a taping of the View in NYC.  Rosie had just started and was really nervous, I could tell from all the palm sweat.  Our music seemed to calm her down a bit.  She’s got this little spot right behind her ear and if you scratch it just right she moans like a lemur.  I think Donice got laid at that show.

Ken: NY is always fun, but I would like to play Boston. I personally enjoy Northern Virginia, seems like people actually come out to hear unsigned bands.

PEV: Fall Back Plan has done very well in various contests and “Battle of the Bands” shows. To what do you attribute your success?

Geoff: Ever heard of “Taking one for the team?”  Brian has.

Brian:  Actually, we’ve only been in 1, which was a ‘battle’ in the sense that we had to physically fight other bands.  We don’t really believe in traditional ‘Battle of Bands’ because they are just a popularity contest, which has no bearing on a bands musicianship, ability, or how appealing they are to the audience.  We did win the Los Angeles Area Musicians Network LAMN Jam NYC showcase we were in, but that was judged by reps from some major labels that were focusing on live performance and quality of material.

PEV: What has been the high-point for the band so far?

Brian: Our northeast tour that ended with us playing on the Barry Nolan show was pretty fun.

Geoff:  We recently found out in a medical journal that our music is being used in a hospital in Munich to treat Restless Leg Syndrome in infants born addicted to heroin.

Ken: Hard to say. Our expectations are high.

Donice: I think opening for national act “Trapt”.  That was, by far, our biggest show.

PEV: Is there a certain atmosphere the songwriters of the band need to be in when writing music?

Brian:  We write constantly.  We’re constantly trying to write better, more unique music.  We love music, and are always trying to perfect our craft.

Ken: Musically it varies from a jam to an idea we develop together.

Donice: Writing for me is a mood.  I’m either in the mood to write or not in the mood.  I can spend two months on a song, or write one at band practice.

PEV: Is there a band out there that Fall Back Plan would like to collaborate with?

Brian:  Timbaland or Missy Elliott would be cool.  Also, Trent Reznor would be a lot of fun.

Geoff:  This band is really a vehicle for me to fulfill my childhood dream to perform with the Boston Pops.  But Cannibal Corpse has been a huge influence on my early musical development so they would be a close second.  Plus they are really nice guys.

PEV: When the members of the band have some spare time, what does each member do to relax?

Brian:  I compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Geoff:  I spend most of my time working on Mad Libs and smoking pipes.

Donice:  Sleep.

Ken: Porn and ice cream.

PEV: What would your fans be surprised to hear about the members of Fall Back Plan?

Brian:  Donice was a Teacher.

Ken: We’re all very down to earth and easy going.

Donice:  All the guys in the band are virgins!

Geoff:  Donice was born with a tail.  Ken used to be a man.  Brian has 3 children but only knows about 1 of them.  I once dressed up as a cat and climbed a tree so that firemen would rescue me.

PEV: Is there another up-and-coming band that you have played with or know about that you think we should all be looking out for?

Brian:  Burn the Fields from Baltimore as well as A Freudian Slip.  Those are both GREAT bands.  Heavy, but unique and awesome at the same time.

PEV: What do you friends and family think about your music careers?

Ken: Supportive as long as it pays the bills…so not very supportive…

Donice: Supportive, I normally get my family to help sell tickets for shows… it helps us and makes them feel like a part of the band.

PEV: What is one word that would describe Fall Back Plan?

Donice:  Tenacious

Brian:  Driven.

Geoff:  Superawesomeradicalstereophonicblastermaniascreamingcool!

PEV: So, what is next for Fall Back Plan?

Brian:  World domination.

Geoff:  Well, we want to play shows and sell albums, so, I think, once the new record is done, one of us will probably have to die.  You know, something tragic like an overdose or hovercraft explosion.  Not cancer; cancer takes too long and people get sick of hearing about it.   So yeah, after that, look out Hollywood True Story!!  We’ll probably put a sick kitten on the album cover just for extra sympathy.

For more information on Fall Back Plan, check out:  www.myspace.com/fallbackplanband

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Today’s Feature – October 22-23: The Benjy Davis Project

October 30, 2008 at 1:49 am (Today's Feature)

Success comes to different kinds of artists. Some find it by accident. They know the guy who knows a guy who also knows a guy. One beat and a catchy chorus later, they’re platinum. Some find it in their translation – by accepting what’s in front of them and calling it success. Others find success the right way. They put in the work, time, sweat and tears to grind out a name for themselves by perfecting their craft, penning masterful songs and getting out to the people that matter most – the fans. This is how The Benjy Davis is carving out their success; “They’ve spent the past seven years building fan strongholds around the U.S., releasing three albums that have successfully captured their unique force.”

Following such a traditional path, its evident the members of the Project keep their heritage close to heart, providing several examples on their latest record, “Dust.” The collection “is the culmination of all the best creative parts from the band’s past, in a sound and style that proves they’re totally in the moment.” Pooling all of their creative juices together, the band plugged away for four straight days to complete “Dust;” a method that truly brings out the pure, raw talent of the Benjy Davis Project. Adding deeper elements to their arrangements of soulful and thought provoking music, the record truly takes it up a notch.

Benji Davis puts it best when talking about the album, “I think it’s partly about realizing that someday I’ll be someone’s dead great-great-grandfather. And I want them to know what I said and why I said it. Not just that I was a singer and wrote some love songs.” These guys love to hit the road, whether headlining or opening for bands like John Mayer or Better than Ezra. So get out to a show and see what it is like when a band truly gels together. Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Benjy Davis Project

PEV: Hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, what kind of music where each of the members listening to growing up? Do you guys argue on different kinds of music?

BD: We listen to everything. Louisiana truly amazes me in that respect. People who have never been here tend to think we’re all backwoods HBO series stupid or naïve or something. Truth is, if it has a soul, we’ll find it.

PEV: Tell us about your creative processŠ What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

BD: Alone, certainly not in earshot of anyone. I’ve lost a few songs to someone walking in unexpected.

PEV: Having performed together for quite some time, what can fans expect from a live Benjy Davis Project show?

BD: A sexual experience. I know that sounds ridiculous but I had this epiphany a few years ago that any exchange between people should be treated with the same sentiment, the same care. I won’t come on too strong but I will come on. Some bands make me feel dirty. It’s like hey buddy you didn’t even warm me up to that. Finish yourself off.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

BD: So much. Being an original band from day one, it was hard on everybody involved. I wasn’t always the best about being open to other ideas. We’ve come to a point now where I look around and realize how much the people in this band have shaped it. We’ve become close musically, not just personally.

PEV: What can fans expect from your new album, “Dust”? What was the collaborative process for this album?

BD: The songs sort of stood on their own as far as structure but the team effort is more evident. We’ve learned to dance together and it shows I think.

PEV: How is this album different from others out right now?
BD: The main thing I can say about this album is that a lot of things have happened in my life since I started writing songs for it. I’ve come to doubt some things, I still believe most of it, but mainly it’s honest in how fickle and normal we all are. There are no songs on this album that couldn’t be used against me by the people I’m the closest with somewhere down the road.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of Benjy Davis?

BD: More than influence, I guess, my direction would be a mix between the percussive aspects of pop and the waving movement of Irish-catholic hymnals and such. My parents have been my left and right ear in that regard. Connecting them is the fun and possibly disastrous part.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of The Benjy Davis Project?

BD: We’re voting for Obama.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

BD: 7th grade, my mom brought a guitar inside she’d rented for me while I was at school. That was it.

PEV: What one word best describes the Benjy Davis Project

BD: Bemused

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

BD: We enjoy culture shock, which is a good thing. Best part is the shows and the hours that surround them. Worst part would be upstairs load-ins and being away from our dogs.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

BD: New Orleans will always be my first love. We played a cow field in Conway, Arkansas the other day and that was seriously one of my favorites.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

BD: They’ve always been supportive. My dad cooked me a steak when I told him about the deal.

PEV: What can we find the members of the band doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

BD: Matt is a nurse so he saves lives, Jon builds amp cases, Mic does something or other and I drink beer and write songs.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration? Why?

BD: Daniel Johns because he’s been a figure in the distance I’ve been following for a while. Catching up with him metaphorically would be a dream.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would the members of the band most likely be doing for a career?

BD: I’d probably run a bar.

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will the band be?

BD: Hopefully still out here where you can see us.

PEV: So, what is next for Benjy Davis Project?

BD: I hope to get some shows with some people we respect and we’ll just keep it real, normal people in a f- – ked up world.

For more information on Benjy Davis Project, check out: www.bdpmusic.com

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Today’s Feature – October 20-21: Crosby Loggins

October 21, 2008 at 2:38 am (Today's Feature)

Crosby Loggins – sounds like some amazing music hybrid, right? Well, that’s about half right. While Loggins is making some top notch tunes, he isn’t any sort of hybrid (that we know about, anyway). He is the son of mega-popular rocker Kenny Loggins, but don’t expect him to be come out blasting tunes out of Footloose orTop Gun – Crosby completely appreciates and enjoys the music his father made, but he’s got his own brand of sound now – a rock, folk Americana mix of both modern and past influences. He’s even released an acclaimed album called, “We All Go Home.”

While the record was made with his old band, the collection is still a fine example of some “genre-skipping” songs, containing Loggins favorites such as “Always Catching Up” and “March On, America.” Today, Crosby is taking some time to focus on his new record with his new band, The Light. While the sound and style will surely differ from “We All Go Home,” the new album will still carry that Loggins signature of “authenticity, combined with his innate sense of when to let the music be graceful and spare and when to propel it powerfully forward.” Whether it’s through his genes or not, Loggins knows exactly how to handle a melody.

He and the band are now pre-producing the next album for Jive Records, aiming for a spring time release. After that, expect a headlining tour with the Light – dates should start popping up shortly for sure. With all of the tools and people around him, Loggins is one of those guys you know is destined to be a part of big things, so quickly! Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Crosby Loggins

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Was there a certain point in your life when you realized the music was going to be career for you?

Crosby Loggins (CL): Sure. I can’t say “realized” as much as “assumed”, because I think I was seven at the time, but nonetheless I had an oddly deep connection with music from early on that still hasn’t gone away. It was probably easier for me to imagine myself as a singer when I was young than many people simply because I had a singing father to look up to, but I think that most folks who get serious about being artists reach a point where they don’t look back anymore.

PEV: I know you’ve answered this question a million times, but what was it like being raised by a musical father, that had so many great hits? Was music always, constantly around you?

CL: Was music constantly around me? Yes and no, but probably just the same music as anyone else. I mean, it was like 1991 right? So I was probably listening to Bonnie Raitt “I can’t make you love me” and whatever else was cool to people my parent’s age at the time. No I’m kidding:)

But honestly, when I was young i think my mom worked really hard to try to keep me and my brother’s lives as normal as possible. I can’t say I was fully aware of being different in any way until I got a bit older. But once I fell in love with music and the work that my father did, I certainly craved time on the road with him and have always enjoyed all the odd and unexpected experiences it has brought me.

PEV: Growing up in Santa Barbara, California, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

CL: The earliest music I really recall falling in love with would have to be the “White Album”. And surely James Taylor. After that it was open season. Nirvana, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam, but also Coltrane, Miles and Bella Fleck & The Flecktones. I played for a while in a lot of Ska and Pop-Punk bands, but also played percussion in my high school jazz band. The first concert I recall going to that wasn’t my father’s was actually The Allman Brothers at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. That was a freakin’ cool show. My ears rang for two days.

PEV: What was it like for you when you were first breaking into the music business? Before you were getting press, regular gigs and touring around the country? Was being a “Loggins” something that worked against you? Like people comparing you to your dad?

CL: Being the son or daughter of somebody famous will always be a double edged sword. People may often suspect you of nepotism, but others will give you a chance when they otherwise might have not. The one thing all “progeny acts” (as I affectionately refer to us) have in common is that we didn’t choose to be born to famous parents. That just happened. All we have is what we do with it from there.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Crosby Loggins show?

CL: I’m not sure. I haven’t played one in a little while. Writing and producing this record has taken all my time this summer, and what’s more I’m not playing with the same band anymore. But I do feel like all the essential elements that I loved before are still there. I guess my fans and I will find out what its like together.

PEV: How have your shows evolved from when you first started out?

CL: I feel like my music is getting more condensed, and hopefully more potent as a result. I used to try to write about everything in one song, now I’m trying to write about just one thing at a time. Musically too I’m simplifying things from where I thought I was headed after my last record, and I’m really growing as a result.

PEV: Any embarrassing or crazy live show stories?

CL: One time the power died and I had to sing they whole show a capella.

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist out today, who would it be and why?

CL: Mark Knopfler because he is god.

PEV: As well, is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking out for?

CL: I’m a friend and a big fan of Fiest. Also Brett Dennen’s new record is great.

PEV: Tell us, what can fans expect from your debut album “We All Go Home”? How is this different from other music you’ve worked with?

CL: “We All Go Home” was a really fun experiment with my last band – a number of the members of which I still work with regularly. There is a lot of genre-skipping and a brilliant young violinist, Paul Cartwright, strings the album together. The high points for me are “Always Catching Up” and “March On, America”. The latter has a wicked electric violin solo on the outro.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for this album? Did you find yourself going back to one feeling or emotion more than others?

CL: Looking back, the underlining theme for this record was more musical than thematic. I was having a really great time playing with this group, and I wanted to express the kinds of sounds we were making at the time. It transformed the material to a certain degree, and that was a great experience.

PEV: When you sit down to write music what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

CL: I definitely prefer quiet and nature. I’m not really a “New York City” kind of writer. I’m more of a “Big Sur Mountains” guy.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Crosby Loggins?

CL: I’m a Mac addict and a space nerd. I’m absolutely enamored of everything astronautically, and I provide constant tech support for my entire family and most of my colleges.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

CL: I’m successful?… Hooray! I’ve been waiting my whole life for this! Everyone’s been amazing.

PEV: When you are not touring and performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

CL: Sleeping. And cooking and eating as much as possible with my girlfriend. Hopefully I’m writing too:).

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Good parts? Bad parts?

CL: I have a love / hate relationship with the road in ways many performers do. The adventure and freedom aspects are things everyone craves, until you look over your shoulder and realize you don’t have a home anymore. That can be an absolutely horrible feeling. And if you’re lucky enough to actually have an amazing home like I do, missing it can be even worse. But its good work if you can get it. That’s the bottom line to me.

PEV: In your opinion, is there a certain city (US or International) that you find to be the best city for music?

CL: I think that’s impossible to say. It really depends what you’re looking for. If I had a transporter-beam I’d be in Nashville on Tuesday and San Francisco on Friday.

CL: On the other hand, my answer would be Sevilla, Spain.

PEV: Ten years from now, where do you see your career?

CL: On every XBOX video game credit sequence in the universe.

PEV: As well, where’s one place you haven’t played, you would like to? Why?

CL: The Santa Barbara County Bowl. I think its one of the greatest venues in the country, but I’m biased.

PEV: So, what’s next for Crosby Loggins?

CL: I’m currently pre-producing my next album for Jive Records with John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer) and hoping for a Spring release! Check out www.crosbyloggins.com and myspace.com/crosbyloggins for tour updates in the New Year…

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Today’s Feature – October 18-19: King Lewen

October 21, 2008 at 2:37 am (Today's Feature)

Without hesitation, we here at PEV can honestly say we’ve never featured a band like King Lewman before. They’re different to say the least – a group that doesn’t actively try to avoid labels, but nonetheless only cater to a genre that is all their own. They’re the definition of flexible; they say out of necessity, “We play acoustically, and we play electrically according to the concert setting. We play house parties, coffeehouses, concerts, festivals, fairs and the occasional special pub… even performing as a trio, a quartet, or a six piece full ensemble.” The crew is fronted by the principle song writers, Kristan King and Lance Lewman, the heart and soul of the band. Specifically in Lewman’s case, he’s come a long way since penning “Hoofprints Cross My Heart” back in high school.

Their latest work can be heard on the new record, “Going Somewhere,” a collection of songs that are anything but trendy, something the band says comes off as both retro and current. It was produced by Spencer Capier via a unique digital exchange between himself and the group. Each member of King Lewman has their own take on the music; Lewman says “all of the songs are about trying to obtain something that’s just out of reach,” and vocalist Marv Egolf says “it still has the variety of sounds and instruments and harmonies that mark a King Lewman work… King Lewman music is a genre blender or bender.”

The group breaks a lot of the “rules” with their live show, saying it’s not going to be loud, soft, or happy… but very real. Definitely show up with an open mind willing to get lost in the sounds – it’s the best way to enjoy the show. You’ll probably be hearing more and more King Lewman as their music starts popping up in television and film, so check the schedule and get out to a show. Dive into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: King Lewman

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us about how you first jumped into becoming King Lewman? Was it an instant connection for the band?

Marv: It was instant for Lance and Kristan. But that’s their story.

Lance: Actually we started out as “Rescue”, and our first album reflects that. It’s called “Living In Skin” by Rescue, and it is currently only available on cassette. Back then we played out with Danny Junk as Nobody’s Bizness; but when it came time to package our first CD, Danny said every band in Florida was called Nobody’s Bizness, so we spent an evening throwing around band names. There’s a hilarious way to spend an evening – and in the end, we settled on the principal songwriters’ last names: Kristan KING and Lance LEWMAN – KING LEWMAN.

Marv: I think “jumped in” and “instant connection” both apply to my joining KL. I joined later into the KL life cycle in July 2004 on a trial by fire basis. I was at a friend’s birthday party in Silver Spring, MD in July. In a conversation with one of the attendees, my wife heard someone (Lance Lewman) say, “We’re looking for a bass player.” She mentioned that I was a bass player. Still am, in fact. Our host, Jim Hild, the birthday boy, reinforced to Lance that I was a “great bass player” because Jim and I had performed together in the group, Tommy Roberts & The Tristeros, in the ‘80’s. You can find them (us) on MySpace. Lance approached me later in the party; and several beers and many steamed crabs later, we agreed that I should play for the CD release party for Full Circle, the second CD, which was to be held in September of 2004. At issue was the fact that Dan Junk had played bass on the recordings, yet Dan also played guitar, mandolin, saxophone, and flute as well on the tunes. He’s great, but he can only play one instrument at a time. So over the following two months, I learned their entire repertoire, we rehearsed a few times, there were fist fights, and we had a fantastic first concert in Clarksville, MD in an outdoor, natural amphitheatre of sorts. Oh, I’m just kidding about the rehearsals.

PEV: Individually, what kind of music was each of the members listening to growing up? Do you argue on different kinds of music? What was the first concert you attended?

Lance – I listened to The Beatles, The Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, America, Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Three Dog Night, Led Zepplin, Toto, Men At Work, The Who, ZZ Top, Jethro Tull, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Boston, Yes… The stuff on the radio in the 70’s, but I also liked earlier music like Peter Paul and Mary and The Everly Brothers; I liked a lot of tight vocal harmonies. We don’t argue much at all. I think we’re all like minded in that we see music not in compartments but as good music and bad music. Good music has structure, melody, hooks, and hopefully it stays in your head in a good way. My very first concert was David Cassidy… yes, it was.

Marv: Early on I was listening to true country (Hank Williams, Johnny Cash), rock & roll (Elvis, Jerry Lee), and gospel. I also was especially fond of the Liberace TV show. We never argue. We do what Mama says in rehearsal. Mama is Kristan. Onstage I do what I can remember.

My first concerts were teen dances at Our Lady of Fatima CYO. In many regards, my first true concerts were Sunday services in southern Baptist churches in North Carolina. I would just get lost in the singing. I heard God more than I saw God. I think officially my first concert was at the Baltimore Civic Center when I was 16. I paid $5 to see The Moody Blues, Cream, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and a local group named Procreation: all in one show.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

Kristan – Songs just come… from personal experiences or from the relationships around me. The words always come with a melody, and I usually get the chorus first. I never know when the muse will visit. Sometimes I dream songs, like Save Me on this new CD.

Lance – I can get inspired anywhere to write a song. Usually I have to be alone though. At least for me, to start a song. If someone brings me an idea, and it excites me, I can go into writing mode. Sometimes it starts with music and sometimes with words… you never know.

Marv: I do what Mama says. Lance and Kristan are the song writers. Where needed, I help with the live conveyance, whether it be as a trio or a full ensemble. As the number of players and types of players line up for a given performance, I work my parts accordingly. Size (of the group) does matter as far as what I play on bass. And whether I play electric or acoustic bass.

I can create just about in any environment. I can work with a preconceived idea and meet it or beat it. When rehearsing, and at a crossroads for arrangements, I’m a “let’s do it and see what happens” player at times. I’m typically more creative in the group formation rather than alone. As far as with KL, I have referenced past arrangements for previous material, kept what was just fine, and enhanced where I feel it’s worthwhile. Sometimes it’s scary, inspiring or amazing, when we free associate together. Then we remember we forgot to turn on the recorder. Don’t ask about bowling balls? Or bathroom walls?

PEV: Having performed together for quite some time, what can fans expect from a live King Lewman show?

Kristan – Good music and lots of variety.

Lance – Melodies, hooks, tight vocal harmonies, and a lot of great fun!

Marv: Original music. And violations of all the “rules”. As Courtney Moon, one of our guitarists, says “it’s like a blues riff, but broken”. Also everything is not gonna be loud, nor soft, nor happy. But it is very real. We run the range of human experience. We strive to be at our best technically; but more importantly, we aim to convey the story and the emotion, the mood, the dynamics of a composition. Much of the music is evocative, rather than being dance tunes. We’re a concert ensemble, more than a bar band. Nothing wrong with bar bands, mind you. I play in one also. But KL is not interested in playing above the conversation and noise. We encourage audience attention and interaction.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Lance – That first show, at an open mic in a bar in historic Ellicott City MD, was nerve wracking! I didn’t believe we were ready to play out yet, but Danny Junk said we’re ready. I guess, from the audience’s response, he was right.

Kristan – I don’t remember the 1st one. We change every time because our band changes depending on which core members are available.

Marv: As I mentioned, I came later. My first performance with KL was an outdoors show for the debut of the Full Circle CD and commemorating September 11. We performed on a stage in an open field before a slope where the audience was positioned. We had lights and a sound system to accommodate the environment. During the show, with the lights, and the enveloping darkness, it felt as though we were performing on a raft adrift at sea. That sounds unpleasant maybe, but it actually was rather inspiring. We were engaged as one. We couldn’t really see the audience. Sometimes we forgot they were there. We heard them between songs, thankfully, offering yells, applause, and congenial heckling.

Have we changed? We try to get along better. No, all seriousness aside, we play the songs better. We understand them better. One of our guiding principles is: “Just because we wrote these songs, that doesn’t mean we know how to play them.” A huge objective for us is to create the dynamics on the stage and to trust the sound engineer to envelope the sound and convey it into the room, into the audience. Maybe we don’t blare it out so much anymore. We get smarter, more relaxed over time. We don’t wear spandex anymore.

PEV: What can fans expect from your new album, “Going Somewhere”? What was the collaborative process for this album?

Kristan – They can expect crisper production and cleaner sound on the same consistently ageless tunes.

Lance – The best sounding KING LEWMAN album yet. Spencer Capier, a ridiculously brilliant musician and producer, who we met about five years ago, produced this CD. I had co-produced all our albums before; and though I liked them, I wanted them to sound better. I shared this with Spencer, and he agreed and said he could make the next KING LEWMAN album sound better. He produced it from Vancouver by sending digital files via ftp sites back and forth.

Marv: This CD is a whole new approach. But it still has the variety of sounds and instruments and harmonies that mark a KING LEWMAN work.

PEV: How is this album different from others out right now?

Marv: Frankly I don’t consider what’s in the market when I work on originals. KING LEWMAN music is a genre blender or bender. In some ways, we do to a song what Steely Dan would do. Take a simple progression and dress it up. Make it more interesting. Or in reverse contrast, take two chords and layer lyrical and vocal streams on top.

Kristan – We don’t write trendy songs. This album is retro and current sounding at the same time.

Lance – It actually has more of a through-line from the beginning to the end. It’s called “Going Somewhere,” and all of the songs are about trying to obtain something that’s just out of reach. We sent Spencer 60 songs to consider for this next album, and he cut them down to 22. We had to cut nine more ourselves, and we went into production with thirteen songs… we dropped the last one right before we started to arrange it.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of King Lewman? How do you plan to stand out above the other musicians in your genre?

Kristan – We have a genre?

Lance – As Spencer puts it, “Oh, you’re acoustic pop…folk…rock…country…jazz…”

Marv: Back to the blender bender. I am hesitant to describe our sound. Talking or writing about music is like tap dancing about sculpture. That may sound like an evasion, but these days, I say check us out on MySpace or Static Chain or SonicBids or SoundClick. I guess my point is really that any one song does not define our total sound. I suppose Spencer said it best.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of KING LEWMAN?

Lance – My first concert was David Cassidy.

Marv: My first crush was David Cassidy. No, not really, nor was it Liberace. Emmylou Harris? She’s another story altogether. People who don’t know us are surprised we haven’t jumped on the bus, gone on tour, play all the time. We have children to whom we are devoted. We are nurturing them to leave the nest. We’ve been family first, which is another reason, performing music is not our career… yet. That’s why it’s important to come to the next performance you hear about because we’re not out there every weekend. In a few years, load up the bio-diesel and the Twinkies, and we’re outta here!

Kristan – That we are old enough to have twins going to college next year.

Marv: That I have a son who’s 38 and a daughter who’s 16? Is that me creaking? Or you?

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Lance – When I was a senior in High School and wrote my first song, “Hoofprints Cross My Heart.” Once I had brought something into the world that didn’t exist before I created it I was hooked. I knew music would always be a major part of my life from then on… 300 songs later… here we are.

Kristan – I always knew music would be a big part of my life ever since I started writing songs with my brothers Kim and Kevin. I ended up going to NCSA for acting, but I never stopped writing songs.

Marv: No, I’m still waiting for that point. It’s not a career yet. But maybe it is. I have always done other things, “the day job”, to keep allowing me the chance to create and perform. Actually I lived off of music for about a year and a half in the ’80’s.

It was a different market in the mid-Atlantic then. Now it’s a global market in cyberspace. I first learned that I could earn some money with music when I was 15. A friend, a sax player for a Motown/Stax/R&B band, said they needed a singer. I offered to try, and they kept asking me back. I fronted a ten-piece blue-eyed soul band and made more money in a few hours that I made working at the library for a week. And more girls talked to me. I realize it’s a career when anybody asks you to come back or to play an encore.

PEV: What one word best describes the KING LEWMAN band?

Lance & Kristan (together)- Prolific.

Marv: I’d say OYHKLYWTHM. Actually the two words that best describe the band are KING LEWMAN. Kristan and Lance are the core lyrically and vocally. Now, can I have some more pudding, sir? Tapioca?

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

Lance – We’re not really “on the road” yet.

Marv: As far as the road, KL is in stealth mode, family mode, right now; and we’ll be “getting on the bus”, as Lance and Kristan put it, in a few years, when the youngin’s are away at college. We’re are home, but we’re spreading across the planet via the Internet. So the best “cyber road” story is a recent simple message a YouTube visitor offered: “KING LEWMAN rocks!” When I traveled, the best was having total strangers scream for more, especially for original tunes. The worst was rooming at a place that had one shower stall for the hall, and there was no floor in the shower stall. You had to balance on the floor joists. KL will do better than that when we roll down the asphalt.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

Lance – No major tours at this point, but we did play Oberschmien, Germany. That was lovely. They were very enthusiastic considering most of them didn’t speak English. I prefer US at present.

Marv: I’ve traveled with other bands and events. Domestically it’s a toss up between San Francisco and old New Orleans. I hope New Orleans can rise again. Outside the US, I enjoyed Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. There’s a great happy “hour” on Wednesday at Wally’s when all the boaters come in for supplies.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Kristan – Your family and friends are the last people to define your success by! By the way, is there a big check in the mail that I don’t know about?

Lance – “Success” is a relative term. They were thrilled at first, now they’re all critics.

Marv: True. A “relative” term? I think the greatest reaction is that they see and hear that it’s still just us individually, but the combined group, the collaboration, is something that’s growing, worthwhile and powerful. Friends and family, and especially past musical colleagues, being there, showing up time and again: that is the success. And it’s cool that people ask for certain tunes repeatedly. It’s satisfying that comments they make show they are really listening in spite of what Paul Simon quips. They have been very supportive, and they’ve come to understand this is not a stage “we’ll grow out of” because it’s obvious that creativity is what we’re about and what we do…. in many ways, in many genres, and in many media. I enjoy that folks who keep coming to the concerts and buying the CDs bring others, offer feedback. Actually, strangers define success: when people buy your tunes, come to your shows, that says something.

PEV: What can we find the members of the band doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Lance – Acting in movies, TV shows, and theatre. Lots of Voice Over and Narration work.

Kristan – Doing radio and TV spots, looking at colleges for my daughters, helping my son with homework and acting. I had a nice little scene with Dominic West on The Wire this past season.

Marv: Keeping the world safe for democracy. Creating digital musical archives. Gardening and landscaping.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration? Why?

Lance – I’d love to work with Billy Joel because I’ve written a song called “Life Is A Billy Joel Lyric,” and it would be so cool to have him play piano on it and really make it his own.

Kristan – I’d like to sing back up for Marc Cohn, Billy Joel or Rob Thomas.

Marv: Emmylou Harris. I had a dream once…. Or Sting, Bruce Cockburn, Ann Marie Calhoun, or Lin McEwan.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Kristan – Yeah, King Lewman!

Lance – Carolyn Arends. She’s amazing.

Marv: Lin McEwan or Mofro.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would the members of the band most likely be doing for a career?

Kristan – What we’re doing now.

Lance – Acting, V/O work, and Narration.

Marv: Inventing, gardening, writing, reviewing. I like to watch…

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will KING LEWMAN be?

Lance – Still playing music somewhere.

Marv: On the charts and in jukeboxes. Doing enough to get Dan Junk living in Maryland again.

Kristan – We’ll have numerous songs on TV and Film, namely Grey’s Anatomy. And a couple of hits, either on our own or with another artist recording them.

PEV: So, what is next for King Lewman?

Lance – We’re going to do a second release concert in Winston Salem, NC. We’re also working very hard to get the music from this CD out there, and hopefully in TV and film as well.

Kristan – Selling this album and selling individual songs to TV and Film. Oh, and a Christmas album, some originals and some traditional.

Marv: Some live recording of concerts and remastering Living In Skin to CD.

For more information on King Lewman, check out: www.kinglewman.com

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Today’s Feature – October 16-17: Tickle Me Pink

October 21, 2008 at 2:36 am (Today's Feature)

July 1st, 2008. The unreal dichotomy of that day will likely stay with the members of the Fort Collins based Tickle Me Pink for the rest of their lives – the day their debut album released nationally, and the day their bassist/guitarist Johnny Schou died far too early at the age of 22. Death at such a young age is tragic enough, and it certainly hasn’t been a simple task for Sean Kennedy, Stefan Runstrom and Steven Beck to continue their work as usual. To their credit, especially as such a young band, Tickle Me Pink is still doing exactly what Schou would want them to do, playing their asses off for audiences everywhere.

Enlisting the help of long-time friend Joey Barba to join them on the road as guitarist, Tickle Me Pink is now busy sharing the lyrics intensive, guitar slashing sounds of that debut full length album, a collection called “Madeline.” Judging from the content of the record, the band is used to dealing with some serious subject matter. The group says “Sometimes people hear our single (Typical) and assume that we should be lumped in with all of the other pop/punk bands, which is completely understandable. However, songs like ‘Madeline’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Ending’ deal with things like mortality and drug use; both of which we have been force to deal with on a daily basis since Johnny passed away.” They dive head first into subjects most young, emerging acts hide from; topics such as suicide, loss, and the trappings of suburbia.

Expect something different from this album – a jump back to the way alternative rock was made in the mid-90’s, when guys like Dave Grohl ruled the airwaves. Much like the bands of that time, Tickle Me Pink is hitting the road like mad men, likely performing for much of the next two years. Catch a show – they’re definitely coming out near you, wherever you are. Learn more about Tickle Me Pink in the XXQ’s below. You’ll be glad you did.

XXQs: Tickle Me Pink

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Having been involved in music for a very long time, how and when did Tickle Me Pink first form as a band? Was it an instant connection from day one?

Tickle Me Pink (TMP): Sean and I met at our high school talent show our freshmen year.  It was our history teacher who initially persuaded us to start a band.  The first time I played with Sean, I was blown away with how serious he was with his music.  I was use to jamming with a bunch of dopers on the weekend.  Needless to say, it was a welcomed change.

PEV: Hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado, what kind of music where you listening to growing up? Does the band all agree on the same tastes?

TMP: We listened to a lot of Third Eye Blind and Foo Fighters.  A lot of our song ideas/structures are derived from those two bands.  Nowadays, we’re so critical of music.  I think after being in a studio for two months, you get a little jaded to the whole songwriting process.  It really makes you appreciate bands that did all this before pro-tools.

PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?

TMP: Our first show was at some Christian Coffee shop in Fort Collins. It was terrible, we hadn’t really practiced.  I think my sister and her boyfriend were the only attendees.  We were just like any other naive band.  We expected to get signed and sell 100,000 albums before the end of the year.  You learn real quick how hard it actually is to promote yourself. We did the whole tour thing and played locally a lot, but ultimately it was the time we spent recording our songs that really took us to the next level.

PEV: What can fans expect from your debut full length album, “Madeline”?

TMP: Madeline is an album that we really poured our heart and souls into.  I know every band says that, but Madeline is different for us because a lot of the underlying subtext hits really close to home.  Sometimes people hear our single (Typical) and assume that we should be lumped in with all of the other pop/punk bands, which is completely understandable.  However, songs like Madeline & Tomorrow’s Ending deal with things like mortality and drug use; both of which we have been force to deal with on a daily basis since Johnny passed away.

PEV: How is this album different from other music out today?

TMP: We strive to not sound like a ipod infused band.  We’re not into all that digital shit, I think that’s why we idolize bands like the Foo Fighters.  A lot of older people have often told us how our band is “a breath of fresh air”, and that we have a “unique” sound.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do your surround yourselves in?

TMP: We really don’t have a songwriting “process”, we just kind of write when the inspiration is there. Obviously we’re not inspired when we’re in a room full of people.  Coffee usually helps.

PEV: What is your take on the current mainstream music scene today?

TMP: Seeing as we are a part of the “mainstream music scene”, It’s hard to say anything about it.  We have a very distorted view of things. There are a lot of really good bands out there, and there are a lot of really not-so-good bands.  Sometimes I’m completely blown away by bands that go platinum, and sometimes I can’t even fathom how these amazing bands aren’t signed. It’s a very fickle industry.

PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first years in music or over the years?

TMP: A lot of earlier songs were really self-indulgent and didn’t really go anywhere.  It’s a lot easier to write fifty bad songs than it is to write one solid tune.  We really strive to sift through the dirt and find that one really good song.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio as a band. What was going through your head?

TMP: I think we were scared shitless.  It’s very overwhelming – and expensive… We had saved up money and all went in 25% on a four song EP.  We put a lot of stress on one another to make a really good EP… Ultimately, it came out pretty good. I don’t think we sold more than a hundred copies though.
PEV: Constantly performing and playing on this year’s Warped Tour, and hitting 40 cities across the US what is “road life” like for you? What are the best and worst parts?

TMP: Being on the road is like a fantasy world… I never really know what day of the week it is, or what city we’re in. Thankfully I’m not a tour manager.  You really get use to it, and it just becomes your everyday life.

PEV: In all your travels and having lived overseas, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?

TMP: Any place we go pales in comparison to our hometown. There have been very memorable shows in a number of small towns around the US, but our home base is unbeatable.

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player or on your iPod right now?

TMP: Hmmm… Finch.  We’re on tour with them, so we’re constantly reminded how fucking good they are.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening to?

TMP: There’s this solo guy named Ryan Lindsey.  I heard him awhile ago, and our whole band really likes him.

PEV: Having played with several elite artists in the business who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

TMP: Dio.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about your musical career?

TMP: Our parents are hands down the most supportive people involved in this whole endeavor. They come out to every local show and have even been known to fly to other states to see us. They are more rock stars than we are.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?

TMP: Getting signed was pretty memorable for all of us. It was such a relief to finally have that weight lifted off our shoulders. It seems like a practical joke, like none of this is really happening. Needless to say, we are extremely lucky to be in such a favorable position.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Tickle Me Pink?

TMP: We’re not vegan’s… Surprise!

PEV: Where do you think Tickle Me Pink will be in 20 years?

TMP: Playing wedding gigs.

PEV: What one word best describes Tickle Me Pink?

TMP: Burger

PEV: So, what is next for Tickle Me Pink?

TMP: Lots and lots of touring…. We will hopefully be on the road for a good portion of the next 2 years. We have an album to promote so it’s become our goal to see this thing through to the end.

For more information on Tickle Me Pink, check out: www.ticklemepinkrock.com

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Today’s Feature – October 14-15: Autumn

October 21, 2008 at 2:34 am (Today's Feature)

Here’s a story you don’t hear every day – think about your favorite morning radio show – I don’t care if it’s a quirky, shock jock show, a news program or a talk show. Now picture one of the hosts releasing an album… that’s good! Well, the former sidekick for the #1 rated “JB and Sandy Morning Show” on Mix 94.7 KAMX Austin (of course, it would happen in Austin), Autumn, not only released the record “Sugarcane,” but has now released a sophomore collection, the finely tuned “Velvet Sky.” And if it could possibly get any better… Autumn definitely has a face built more for movies than radio.

The “sidekick” has more or less taken center stage down there in Austin, describing the new album as “Folk/Americana, with lots of room.” You can’t help but notice the maturity on “Velvet Sky,” showcasing a much more seasoned variety of song lyrics complete with a sense of Americana that is full of style and substance. Autumn herself says of the record, “I was as truthful as I could possibly be.  A lot of reflection, a lot of sincerity, and plenty of musicality.  I hope you can hear that it is so not about the money, or the business, or playing the game.”

As you might expect, Autumn has tons of experience performing for a crowd – after all, when she isn’t playing music, she’s on the radio. She wants her live performance to “move people to dance, sing, write, love, laugh, cry…move people to just ‘let go’ for a moment,” as well as drink some beer. I agree with her – beer is important to just about any event. So get to a performance and enjoy yourself… and jump into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Autumn

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us, how did you first jump into the music industry? Was music always an instant passion for you? Any hesitations

Autumn: Definitely an instant passion.  I begged my parents for a piano when I was very young.  I have always wanted to play music and be involved in the entertainment industry.  However, it wasn’t until I moved to Austin and attended the music program at UT that I dug into songwriting.  Music is different in Austin.  I had never really heard folk/Americana before, and I was intrigued.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Autumn: When I had to decide on a major for college, my dad told me, ‘it doesn’t matter what you major in, as long as you get a college degree.’  I chose music, and never looked back.

PEV: The female sidekick for the #1 rated “JB and Sandy Morning Show” on Mix 94.7 KAMX Austin, has that helped shape your stage presence and persona on stage?

Autumn: Absolutely.  Working on that show taught me the importance of engaging an audience, speaking with conviction, and getting comfortable talking into a mic.

PEV: An Oklahoma native, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?

Autumn: As a child of the 80s, I listened to some pretty bad stuff.  Honestly, I was not inspired by anyone other than Billy Joel and the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack.  However, when my dad played 70s music, I LOVED it:  Ricky Lee Jones, Bob Dylan, The Eagles.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I really knew what their music was all about.  Things really started to feel right when my brother introduced me to the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, and CCR in high school.

PEV: What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Autumn: Breathe.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music? Is there a certain “method” or “science” to your writing?

Autumn: I have to be alone, I have to be in my pajamas, and it has to be at night, completely quiet.  Sometimes I get the melody first, other times it is just the lyrics and I add music later.  I write what I can in a sitting, then I go back in and edit and edit and edit.  I never ever have been one of those writers that sits down and writes a song in 5 minutes.  Every single letter of every single word is analyzed and put in its proper place.  It takes awhile.

Sometimes I’ll just sit for hours and hour, possibly days or weeks, (even months or years) until I work through a phrase and get it just how I want it.  It can be brutal, but the words eventually come if I am patient with myself.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Autumn performance?

Autumn: They should expect art.  That is what is expected from any musician.  We have an obligation as artists to move people.  Move people to dance, sing, write, love, laugh, cry…move people to just ‘let go’ for a moment.  If you aren’t feeling ‘something’, then I’m not doing my job right.

With each performance, there is passion, vulnerability, and truthfulness.  Plus, an overall sense of gratitude to just be playing music with fantastic musicians.  Oh, and there is beer.  Always beer.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Autumn: My first live performance was at a tiny cafe called, ‘Common Grounds’ in Round Rock, Texas.  I was so nervous.  It was terrifying.  That hasn’t changed.  I still get nervous and terrified, but who wouldn’t?  Getting in front of people and putting it all out there is not always fun, it is hard and scary.  Every show, I learn something new.  I’d like to think the shows have grown and I have improved since that first gig.  God, I hope so.

PEV: What can fans expect from your sophomore album, “Velvet Sky”?

Autumn: I was as truthful as I could possibly be.  A lot of reflection, a lot of sincerity, and plenty of musicality.  I hope you can hear that it is so not about the money, or the business, or playing the game.

PEV: How is this album different from your first album “Sugarcane”?

Autumn: ‘Sugarcane’ was the first album.  A great first album.  Thankfully, I had a great team around me to make it a solid debut.  The new album is more mature, classic, and a giant leap into a more focused folk/Americana category.  I was still experimenting with ‘Sugarcane’, trying to find my sound and my groove.  I love both albums because they are both so fitting and appropriate to the person I am/was, something I am thankful to my producers for capturing.

PEV: How would you describe your sound? In a thick and talented industry, how do you expect to stand out?

Autumn: Folk / Americana, with lots of room…(that sounds like a Starbucks order!)  As far as standing out, yes, that is hard to do.  There are so many talented musicians fighting for a spot.  I understand how it all works, and it is important to have a bold personality, charisma, and that ‘X-factor’ that Simon Cowell always talks about on American Idol.  I am not looking for my 15 minutes of fame.  I want a solid career and longevity.  I work hard and always try to do the right thing.  If I continue doing so, I feel I will carve out the path I was intended to be on.  Trust me, doing the right thing is not always fun.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Autumn?

Autumn: I have a fear of umbrellas and hotel shower curtains.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any favorite spots on the road?

Autumn: One of the greatest parts of being a musician is playing with the band.  I think Walt Wilkins said it best when he said, ‘playing with the band is almost as intimate an experience as making love’.

My favorite part of the evening is after a show, when the band is all sitting together in a corner booth, hanging out, laughing and drinking beers.  I don’t have kids or a husband, but I know that being away from them would be the worst part about being on the road.  I don’t like being away from my chihuahua for too long, does that count?

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

Autumn: Austin, Texas.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success? What is it like for you when you get to play a show in your hometown?

Autumn: They love it.  Family is most important.  Playing a show for family and friends is amazing, they know all the words and they sing along!  No pressure.  Beautiful.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Autumn: 3 things:  Yoga, beer, mindless reality TV.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for right now?

Autumn: Hayes Carll has a cool thing going.  Sam Baker is the real deal.  My favorite musician right now is Ray Lamontagne.  I know he is big already, but I just heard his new single and I would like for him to have my babies any time.

PEV: What’s been the craziest reaction from a fan you’ve ever had?

Autumn: During a heartfelt ballad, a fan was inspired to break-dance right in front of the stage.  He was quickly escorted out of the venue.

PEV: Ten years down the road, where do you feel your career will be?

Autumn: No promises, but I hope it will be established, respected, and well-deserved.

PEV: So, what is next for Autumn?

Autumn: Play shows, write songs, and practice every day until I die or get married…whatever comes first!

For more information on Autumn, check out www.autumnonline.com

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Today’s Feature – October 12-13: Attack! Attack! UK

October 21, 2008 at 2:33 am (Today's Feature)

Neil, Will, Ryan and Mike of Attack! Attack! UK are our favorite types of artists – the kind of guys you can easily see yourself getting wasted on a Friday night with (or a Monday, Tuesday, any night of for that matter). The boys from Cardiff, Wales are doing what the do for the best reasons – because they’re having a damn good time (and not too mention; they’re pretty excellent at what they do). Their enthusiasm is evident, their talent undeniable, and their charisma overwhelming (they kick ass is what I’m trying to say).

Just talk to these guys and you get that feeling they’d saw off their right arm for you if they had to. Their self-titled debut release echoes all of this and more – they say “its honest, melodic, hard rocking music. There are also elements of punk in there. We wrote the songs as a band… We have tried to push the limits on capturing the energy and power of the songs. It’s also killer track after killer track in my opinion, there is not a song on there that we would call ‘filler.’” Whether it’s the vocals, the guitar shredding or the pounding percussion; nothing is held back. It’s raw, stomp your ear drums kind of music.

Attack! Attack! UK have been doing this for a while, so get out to a performance. Whether you go to the show planning to participate or not, you’ll find yourself “jumping, chanting, clapping, singing along and giving 100%.” Hopefully you’ll be just as tired as the band after the set. They’ve begun their UK tour with Funeral for a Friend, and hope to get to US soil by 2009. Dive into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Attack! Attack! UK

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us about how you first jumped into becoming
Attack! Attack! UK? Was it an instant connection for the band?

Neil: Myself and Ryan have been friends for a while and w had some time off from other projects so we decided to get together and write some stuff for fun, within a couple of hours we had written Lights out and home again which we both thought were pretty cool. That got us thinking we should jam these as a full band to see what they sound like. We called a bassist we knew that
was rad on the bass who we knew was free (Will) and got a friend Sam in to play drums and the songs sounded wicked. It gelled instantly. At that point we decided to get a fulltime drummer in (mike) and songs just kept flowing out of us. I guess you could say we never intended to start a band but the songs we wrote on acoustic guitars just cried out to be played with a full band and we haven’t looked back since

PEV: Hailing from the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales, what kind of music where each of the members listening to growing up?  Do you guys argue on different kinds of music?

Neil: Yeah we all have varied tastes , i like anything from 90s grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam) through to the total opposite end Prince and Stevie Wonder that kinda stuff  Will like Nu metal and jazz stuff, Ryan loves AC/DC, The Stereophonics, The police  where as Mike pretty much listen to anything and everything, his Ipod is CRAZY full of random stuff haha . One band we all kinda grew up admiring was Lost Prophets on the local scene

PEV: Tell us about your creative process. What kind of environment do you
have to be in to write music?

Neil: Our rehearsal space is TINY, its crammed full of equipment, t-shirts and general junk! Not an ideal creating environment but we get used to it. We just crank the amps up to 11 and play loud and hard.  The writing process for us has been smooth, we just jam out ideas in the rehearsal room and songs seem to come from no-where… it’s like one minute you have a riff the next minute we have a full song, it freaks me out how it works so easily.

PEV: Having performed together for quite some time, what can fans expect from a live Attack! Attack! UK show?

Neil: ENERGY , crowd participation – we wanna see the crowd jumping, chanting, clapping, singing along and giving 100% just like we are on stage . We like to rock as hard as we can

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you
changed since that first show to where you are now?

Neil: We were out of shape, i mean for those who play in bands you’ll know, when you haven’t gigged for a while that first show hurts! by the time you are 2 songs in your lungs are ready to collapse because of all the jumping and running around whilst also trying to sing. I remember just hoping I would finish the show alive! since then we have got fitter, more used to the physical performances we give and enjoy every second

PEV: What can fans expect from your new self titled release “Attack! Attack!”? What was the collaborative process for this album?

Neil: It’s our debut, its honest, melodic, hard rocking music. There are also elements of punk in there. We wrote the songs as a band but we did get chance to make some changes with our producer Stuart, his input was awesome, he got rid of all the “fat” on the songs, bits that weren’t needed.

PEV: How is this album different from others out right now?

Neil: It is a lot more raw than a lot of albums you hear today. We have tried to push the limits on capturing the energy and power of the songs. It’s also killer track after killer track in my opinion, there is not a song on there that we would call “filler”

PEV: How would you describe the sound of Attack! Attack! UK?

Neil: Powerful, rocking, energetic, melodic, passionate, hard hitting.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Attack!

Neil: Attack! UK?   We are all virgins haha, no not really haha, not really sure how to answer this, we are just 4 straight up, down to earth guys who are genuinely in love with what we do and totally wanna meet new friends all over the world . Not sure if that is a surprise or not because aren’t most rock stars meant to be pricks? Haha

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Neil: After seeing bands like Rage against the machine and nirvana I knew I wanted to play guitar and sing in a band, as far as careers go I knew that music was the one thing in the world I was good at and hoped it would be enough to make into a successful career, fingers crossed it will.

PEV: What one word best describes Attack! Attack! UK?

Neil:  FUN

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

Neil: Best part is spending all your time with your best friends, meeting new people on the road and playing your music to people that actually care about it . The worst part is being away from your family and friends back home, that’s the killer

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or
International)?

Neil: We have yet to play the USA so we can’t wait for that. Our favorite place so far is Tokyo in Japan, the culture there is SO different, it was mind blowing. The fans there were second to none too.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Neil: They are super happy for us, I think sometimes there is a lot of envy because we get to see the world but when we get home they big us up to everyone.

PEV: What can we find the members of the band doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Neil: Playing Soccer, playing XBox 360, hanging out with friends and family , chatting to people on MySpace.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration? Why?

Neil: We would love to do something with Dave Grohl, he is a hero of all of ours, the music he has made, the varied instruments that he is a genius – the guy is a legend!

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?

Neil: Yeah our friend from Wales in The Blackout, they are hitting the US in spring time so definitely go check them out.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would the members of the band most likely be doing for a career?

Neil: Ryan would be unemployed, it’s all he knows haha. Mike was in Uni before he left doing sound engineering so I guess he would be an engineer of some sort. I would like to be a radio DJ!

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Attack! Attack! UK band be?

Neil: In Arenas touring the world promoting our 7th album!

PEV: So, what is next for Attack! Attack! UK?

Tour the UK with Funeral for a friend, then hopefully hit the US early 2009, watch this space!

For more information on Attack! Attack! UK, check out: www.myspace.com/attackattackband

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Today’s Feature – October 10-11: Nikki Shannon

October 21, 2008 at 2:31 am (Today's Feature)

Swinging by the Nikki Shannon MySpace page, you may immediately say, “My goodness. Look at that stomach! It’s completely sexy!” But much like her bio says, she is more than just another pretty face. A lot more. And it isn’t simply her soothing voice, her impressive piano skills or top notch songwriting that makes her great. It’s her charisma, her experience. This woman has known all her life that she needed to make a living through music. Her will was so strong, so set, that she even spent part of her time in New York City homeless, sleeping in backseats, on couches, even in “basements of piano bars where she performed.” She did this because deep down – she knew it was worth it. She kept playing, and the future got brighter.

When she writes a song, all of her stands behind it, and when she performs the tune, you’ll stand up for it – “Nikki has a chilled vibe that flows right into her music and her performances which she executes as easily as enjoying a glass of fine wine. “ You can enjoy her music from the comfort of your home as well – Shannon’s debut album, “Too Few,” not only spouts her raw emotions and thoughts, but those of her amazing band as well. Shannon says, “I know that no matter what, I love this album.  There’s no excuse or ‘but’ about it for me.”

You may have heard some of the tunes on your favorite television shows, such as “Six Degrees,” as well as on XM Satellite radio and on the NYC classic rock station Q104.3. Either way, get your hands on the record. It’s more than worth your time. Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Nikki Shannon

PEV: Growing up in Kingston, New York, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

NS: Growing up in Kngston, being the youngest girl and always wanting to be more like my older sisters and brothers, I listened very closely as to what was cool and not cool.  Although my mom still pulled my pants up over my belly button… But my older siblings always had the best taste in music and shared it with us. To this day, if I’m not listening to myself its anyone from Joni Mitchell to Dyer Strait to the Rolling Stones and even Billy Squire.  My first concert was Billy Joel and Elton John at Giants Stadium. The only time I’m that quiet and standing still is when I’m absorbing and truly in musical awe… Or when I’m eating…

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

NS: I’ve always thought I’d be doing music professionally. In fact, I’ve had so many opportunities to have something to fall back on but purposely did not. I never for a second wanted to have any window to not give 150 percent. There was never a grey area for me. I think no matter what, music would have found me.  I think when it’s something you ARE and not just what you do, you can run but you can’t hide for long.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for you? When you were first starting out before the press, before the accolades? Did you ever think you’d be where you are now, then?

NS: My first years in the music business were a struggle. It’s still a struggle, but a different struggle.  Back then, I always knew I would be here.  There was never a question of if, just of when.

PEV: What can fans expect from your debut album, “Too Few”? As well, what kind of reaction did you first have when it was all said and done?

NS: Fans can expect of “Too Few” what they can expect from everything I give to them – no less than all I’ve got.

PEV: How is “Too Few” different than others out today? Why?

NS: I’m not sure exactly how “Too Few” is different, except that I know it’s raw, it’s real, and it’s from the heart; and not just from me but the band as well.  You can hear and feel what’s happening in that studio, like you’re in there with us.  And that’s all I can ask for.

PEV: How is “Too Few” different from your previous works or collaborations?

NS: “Too Few” is different because it projects me finding my “niche” and finally honing in on me as a woman, as an artist, and just being comfortable in my own skin. I know that no matter what, I love this
album.  There’s no excuse or “but” about it for me.

PEV: Songs from the album have recently been featured in an episode of “Six Degrees” on ABC, as well on XM Satellite radio and the NYC classic rock station Q104.3 (“Out of the Box” hosted by Jonathan Clarke.) What was it like the first time you heard one of your songs played on the radio and on TV?

NS: It’s great hearing myself on TV and radio. It’s a funny feeling because it goes from “HOLY #*it!” to being so proud of the work I did to get there, and it gives me the momentum I need to affirm why I continue when I get tired and feel beat up. The minute I’m on stage or with the guys in the studio, all that is erased and I go, “oh, this is why I do all I do”.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourself in when you sit down to write music? Or is it just a “when it happens, it happens” mentality?

NS: Surroundings… hmmm, everything! It happens differently every time: in the truck on the way to “the crib”, while I’m sleeping, in the shower, while someone else is talking, while on hold with Cablevision, whenever it hits. Luckily for me, when Nunz and I write, it just starts and doesn’t stop. I think the secret to writing with someone is to get to a place where you can be that naked, so you’re not thinking too much. You’re placing the words so that you can place a feeling.

PEV:  How have all your friends and family back home reacted to your success?

NS: My family and friends are psyched! They’re very supportive and
excited. They’re my biggest fans! My sister Angie and my mom lead the pack.

PEV: What is life on the road like for you? Best and worst parts? Was it a hard adjustment?

NS: I’m going on the road for my first time next month, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

NS: Definitely check out Greg Holdin out of England. He’s not only an amazing artist but an amazing human being. And the guys in my band – Nunzio Signore, Pete Williamson and Vinnie Tatanelli – are on Greg’s record, which Nunzio is producing, so you KNOW the production is good.  Is it bad to be so in love with your band?

PEV: Is there someone you have not had the chance to work or collaborate with, that you would like to?

NS: I would LOVE to collaborate and work with Sheryl Crow, Tina Turner, Robert Plant, and too many others.  I would be very happy with anyone who gets that “thang”.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

NS: In my spare time – which is not much – I like hanging at home.  I love to cook, water plants, go to Nunzio’s house and hang with him and his family doing yard work, drinking wine, laughing until we cry.  Sometimes I just cry! I LOVE to work out. I love to grocery shop! I swear my palms get sweaty when I see all that food calling me. So many options for flavor! And of course I love my music.  And if it’s late at night, I like to stop at Rhodes Tavern near home and close the joint two-stepping with my friend Patron.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

NS: Wow! I don’t know. I think there’s a lot you’d be surprised with. Maybe that I get quiet sometimes and that I LOVE my quiet time and spending a day alone.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we most likely find?

NS: Instruments of course. Pictures that Nunzio’s daughter Maia draws for him are hung up all over the walls. You’d find a lot you’d rather not hear if you re eating right now! You’d also find bottles of water and wine and our lunch boxes.

PEV: What is a live Nikki Shannon performance like?

NS: A Nikki Shannon live show is something you can’t explain.  It’s an
experience. And I believe I have the best crowd EVER, new and old. It’s just an amazing night every time

PEV: In one word, describe Nikki Shannon.

NS: Pied piper.

PEV: So, what is next for Nikki Shannon?

NS: Music

For more information on Nikki Shannon, check out: http://www.myspace.com/nikkishannon

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