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Interviews in chronological order of publishing top to bottom

Shawn O'Brien - The Voice of Above This
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 1/21/12
Posted 1/21/12 11:18PM EST

Courtesy Above This and Team All About The Music

TLR!: Thanks for talking with me today Shawn, it’s good to have you here.

Shawn O'Brien: Not a problem man! thanks for allowing me to be a part of this!

TLR!: First off, can you share a little history of Above This for those here in the US that may be unfamiliar with the band?

Shawn: Above This is a two man band of course. I personally live in Virginia, and my partner Thomas, lives in Germany. We started this project back in my senior year of high school and after meeting Thomas online off youtube, we definitely knew that we had something amazing going on. We started off with singles which we released on youtube and it wasn't before long that we found ourselves writing a full length album.

TLR!: Let’s talk about 7L7, the debut album from Above This, a little. You and Thomas Buser self-released the album not too long ago. What were some of the roadblocks you had to overcome to get the album out?

Shawn: Well first of all getting people to know about us and actually take the time to give us a listen. I found myself a little manager, Rahman Bolaji, who was an administrator for a blogspot website called "DuckCore". He posted 7L7 up on there and that got us a lot of exposure and we were pushing over 400 purchases on the second day the album was released. Coming from the bottom, we really wanted 7L7 to be successful and effective and that's exactly the way it played out.

TLR!: You have some very heavy, hardcore sounds with a lot of social and emotional depth on 7L7, does that come from personal experiences and hardships overcome?

Shawn: Don't get me wrong, I love to live life on the edge and put off that "tough guy" sort of vibe, but the truth is that I love life and my life is great. I have my own little world inside my head and I pull words and ideas from that world and put them to the lyrics in my songs. The lyrics off of 7L7 are all directly from my mind, but they can tend to be a little over-exaggerated.

TLR!: Shawn how are the composing duties split between you and Thomas? The expected vocalist takes lyrics and instrumentalist takes music or is it more an even split team effort?

Shawn: Thomas makes all of the music, instrumentals. I just do the vocals. It's as simple as sending files to each other and knowing how to work as a team.

Courtesy Above This

TLR!: With “7L7” out what’s next for Above This in 2012?

Shawn: We have already started to write a brand new album for 2012. We have released two singles off of the album already! The new album will have an "End of The World" theme.

TLR!: And what would you like to see the band accomplish this year?

Shawn: We would like to see Above This up there with more well known bands. We want to get the word out that this is a 2 MAN BAND. With this, we hope that musicians will step up to the plate and come together to help us form this band.

TLR!: Shawn what drew you into the world of music?

Shawn: I've always had a touch for this kind of music. When I was young I had anger issues and I found this amazing way to relieve myself by expressing myself through my screaming. Ever since then the music has consumed me, its all I know.

TLR!: Who or what do you feel is your greatest inspiration creatively speaking?

Shawn: My inspiration comes from my uncle who just recently passed away. When he was young, he wrapped his car around a telephone pole and was in a coma for the longest time. He always had a love for playing the guitar and he was always playing little gigs with his band and his friends. I always looked up to him and wish that he could have fulfilled his passion.

TLR!: I'm very sorry for your loss Shawn. We’ve talked about how the creative workload is split between you and Thomas, and your inspiration. Would you mind sharing your process when composing?

Shawn: I think I've already explained it in an earlier question above. but its a very simple easy process.

TLR!: Will there be any touring for Above This in 2012?

Shawn: If we can get this band together then possibly yes!

TLR!: Speaking of tours, describe your ideal dream tour for Above This, from countries to venues to tour partners; living, dead, or disbanded.

Shawn: I would love to tour with Attila, Of Mice & Men, The Color Morale and My Ticket Home.

TLR!: Thanks again Shawn, it was great talking to you!

Shawn: No problem man! Thanks again for allowing me to be a part of this!

For more from Above This check out www.facebook.com/abovethis and http://abovethis.bandcamp.com.  

Johan Reinhold - Maestro of Electro-Pop
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 2/16/12
Posted 3:39PM EST 2/25/12

Johan Reinhold - Photo Courtesy Alt PR

TLR!: Thanks for hanging out and chatting today Johan.

JOHAN REINHOLD: Not a problem. Thanks for having me.

TLR!: To get things rolling, what inspires you to create when it comes to music?

JOHAN: It can be anything really. From a single sentence I hear someone say in a movie that sparks an idea to a song title to some event in my life that I need to get out of my system. The short answer is life in general. But it’s usually something that moves me and so I try to project that same thing on to other people with my music.

TLR!: Has this always been the case for you, or has it been more an evolutionary process over the course of your life?

JOHAN: I guess so? I have always been into music with a story to tell. To me when those songs pull it off they really touch you in some magic way and that’s the closest we’ll ever get to experience real magic I think.

TLR!: Where did the idea come from to do an EP of remixes of your song “Shoot Me Down”?

JOHAN: You know what, I stumbled on another remix-EP on some blog online a while ago. I can’t remember the artist but that was when the idea was born that I should do the same thing. I mean I had all the remixes done already so why not package it like an EP and give the whole thing away for free?

TLR!: Nice, I like that. Was it at all nerve wracking giving one of your creations over to others to basically recreate?

JOHAN: I pretty much felt that my music were in good hands all the way. But sure, you never know what to expect. Sometimes the remix is not what you had hoped for and others it’s even better than you imagined. Still I would never release a remix if I didn’t approve of it myself.

TLR!: With the remix EP dropped, when can we expect your full length album “Beautiful Loser”?

JOHAN: I’m not sure to be honest. My two producers Astma and Rocwell and I are still writing and recording songs so it’s not even finished yet. But I’m hoping that I will have a new EP out before the summer and get to follow up with the album later this year.

TLR!: “Shoot Me Down” is a very personal song, from both the lyrics and quick explanation on your website about the songs origin point, can we all look forward to more of the same type of “real” songwriting on “Beautiful Loser”?

JOHAN: All of my songs tend to be very personal I think but in ways that most people can relate to. It’s the only way I know how to make music but sometimes I feel that maybe I’m exposing too much of myself? At the same time I don’t want to hold anything back. I mean if the songs demand me to open up my heart I’ll open it as much as it takes. So yes, the album will be nothing but “real” songwriting as you put it even though sometimes it’s scary as hell to put myself out there like that.

TLR!: After “Beautiful Loser” what else is coming down the line in 2012 for you?

JOHAN: When the album is out I want to travel the world and tour as much as possible. I want to meet and connect with people all over and just continue to create.

TLR!: Beyond that Johan, what do you hope to accomplish with your music in the long term?

JOHAN: I want to touch as many people as I can with my music. All of us needs to escape reality every now and then whether it with the help of a movie, a song, partying with friends or whatever. I want my music to have that effect on people and help out for better or worse.

TLR!: Is there anything that would ever make you take yourself away/out of music altogether?

JOHAN: I will most likely always continue to play and write music but I might not always continue to commercially release it? There’s so much politics and bureaucracy within the music industry, which can kill any artists creativity and so I try not to get involved in it too much.

TLR!: Are there other genres of music you would like to explore applying your lyrical style to besides electro-pop?

JOHAN: Sure, as long as I’m having fun with it. Sometimes I help out and write lyrics to anything from hip hop to house music but my own focus is set on creating stadium status electro-pop for the time being.

TLR!: Again, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule for Tastes Like Rock and its readers Johan; I appreciate it. It was great talking with you!

JOHAN: Don’t mention it. Thank you for letting me be a part of this.

For more on Johan Reinhold check out www.johanreinhold.com.  

Tryg Littlefield - Fall From Grace Vocalist and Guitarist
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 2/16/12
Posted 6:30PM EST 2/27/12

Tryg Littlefield - Photo Courtesy Fall From Grace

TLR!: Hey Tryg, thanks for chilling for a bit to shoot the breeze.

Tryg Littlefield: No, thank you for having me!!

TLR!: Let’s hit the ground running with some “lightning round” questions to loosen up man. Best part of being the frontman singer and guitarist for Fall From Grace?

Tryg: Best part? Honestly... being in this band has taken me across the world and on someone else's dime! Haha, no but really, being able to cross continents to bring my passion and love of music to the masses... that's what it's always been about.

TLR!: Favorite thing about being a performing musician period? Not just with Fall From Grace but in general.

Tryg: Well being a musician is fantastic because it's the most challenging job I've ever had! You are constantly reinventing yourself and evolving. Once you stop, you're yesterday's news. So it's the constant "push" that I've always needed in life.

TLR!: Your favorite venue played so far and favorite type of show, i.e. massive stadium tour style or closer and more intimate like a bar or club?

Tryg: It goes both ways, honestly. I have played in front of 80,000 people at the Download Festival in the UK. Castle Donnigton was in the background, and it was an outdoor amazing experience!

Then I've played a show in front of 10 people, and bands on the bill were Taking Back Sunday, Lawrence Arms, and Avenged Sevenfold.

Both experiences are amazing. But honestly, to actually "step outa stage right and into the spotlight"... that's where the money maker moment is! I quote that line from our song "So Long For Now" on our new album, the Romance Years, because that song is about tour, about playing shows, and about how intense and difficult it can be.

TLR!: What would be another profession you could see yourself spending your life in outside of music?

Tryg: Sound design. I am in love with sound! I would work with all types of sound given the opportunity. Most people don't realize how important and impactful sound is in there day to day life. Songs, noises... all these things evoke an emotional response. Sound is much more powerful than people give it credit for.

TLR!: Agreed man! Sound is such an integral part of life that it gets taken for granted far too easily. Alright that concludes our lightning round, thanks for playing… seriously, Fall From Graces “The Romance Years” dropped back on January 24, has the reception of the album lived up to your hopes Tryg?

Tryg: Beyond my hopes, actually. People have been freaking out about how much they love the new album! It blows my mind, actually. I mean people have dug FFG in the past, but now...well let's just say we're "touching" people in a way that we never have before. The songs are well received, and the people that have been reconnected to me as an individual and the entirety of Fall From Grace... it's a much more REAL connection than I have ever experienced.

TLR!: This is the first full album since ‘08s “Sifting Through The Wreckage”, the album also marks the reforming of Fall From Grace. Why the comeback? Why now? Yes, we’re going into “hardened journalist” mode now [laughs]

Tryg: Hahaha! I love it! [smiles] Fall From Grace toured our balls off in 2009, covering 14 countries and over 200 shows (most of which were back-to-back). At the end of 2009, Fall From Grace saw 2 members leave, the Kens... the rhythm section and backbone to an amazing punk band. Brian, myself, and Fall From Grace's 5th Beatle, Mike Caviezel, decided to sit down and write and record the new record at Mike's personal studio. We spent over a year on the record. Sure, everyone was pushing for us to "just put something out", however we didn't want to release half ass music. In that time, we wrapped up the ablum, shook hands and said goodbye to our previous label, opened our own label (Road 2 Hell Rekkids), and brought 3 new members on board. We wanted to make sure that if we were going to do it again than we had to be better than before. Better songs, stronger musicians, and a more polished sound. We accomplished just that... I believe!

TLR!: I think you right! How are the creative duties worked out? Team effort or divide and conquer bringing it all together in the studio?

Tryg: In the studio, it's always a team effort. Brian and I usually were the heart and soul of the writing up until the Romance Years. Mike Caviezel joined that process, but again... it was a team effort. With the 3 new people, I'm very excited to see what the future writng of the band will be... because at the end of the day, if you don't have your team, you don't have anything!

TLR!: A big "hell yeah" to that. What’s next for you in 2012 as it gets closer to the spring and summer tour seasons?

Tryg: We're shooting for a few tours currently, and are hoping those wishes come true. The feeling of working your music on the road and to the hearts of people and seeing how your songs make an impact in their lives... there's nothing that compares!

TLR!: Tryg, I know it’s only February, but what would you personally like to accomplish with Fall From Grace over the remainder of the year?

Tryg: Fall From Grace hopes to tour, to make connections through radio and video, and to have opportunities to talk with lovely people such as yourself! You see, in the past it was all about "go go go", but now it's about making friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. That's our goal.

TLR!: In my opinion, that's the way to go, those connections are what make everything you do and create worthwhile. Thanks again for taking the time for TLR! and our readers Tryg, it was great talking to you.

Tryg: Hey thank you so much for the opportunity!! Hopefully we can get you out to a show!!

TLR!: Consider me there!!

For more about Tryg and the rest of Fall From Grace check out www.fallfromgrace.us and www.facebook.com/fallfromgracemusic.  

The Commander In Chief - Queen of The Seven Strings
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 3/4/12
Posted 3/5/12 2:00AM EST

Photo Credit: Jeff Xander - Courtesy The Commander In Chief

TLR!: Thank you so much for making the time in your schedule for myself and Tastes Like Rock’s readers Commander, it’s great getting to speak with you.

The Commander In Chief: Thank you so much for the interview!

TLR!: We’ll delve into a little history first, how did you start your journey in the world of music? And what drew you to playing guitar?

The Commander: Initially I was doing visual arts for years but music has been an important part of my life since before I could walk.... I had all these ideas for songs and I wanted to put all my creativity into music... so I needed to play an instrument, and I wanted a ballsy instrument, so since the drums are not a solo/songwriting instrument I chose guitar....

TLR!: Why metal above other genres when it comes to your compositions?

The Commander: Because thats the most challenging and fun genre to play for guitar.

TLR!: One last why [laughs], why seven string guitar over “typical” six string when you shred?

The Commander: I just tried one out when I lived in L.A and fell in love, I think it counterbalances my vocals well, and it makes it possible to transcribe my riffs in a way I find interesting.

TLR!: You’re also a pretty awesome vocalist and lyricist, the songs on your Evolution EP all speak of social and societal flaws and failings. Are giving voice to these world issues a continual inspiration in writing?

The Commander: Thank you so much for the compliments!! Yep,everything that happens worldwide is an inspiration. I wrote "Famous" when I lived in L.A. After I read in the L.A Weekly that The Situation was pissed off at the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, since they refuse to give stars to Reality Show Celebrities.
The lyrics for "Thou" I wrote when I lived in Chicago,next to Lake Michigan. There were constant talks about how British Petroleum was polluting the lake. We could not even swim in it.

TLR!: Most welcome, they're well earned. If I may, what else inspires you to create? Not that I’m looking for pop princess material to come spewing forth from your guitar; I still think a great song with real meaning and heart in it can change the world but I am curious, one writer to another.

The Commander: I'm always inspired to create something, I cannot remember a day that I wasn't. I don't need and outside source for the music, but obviously I do for the lyrics.
Well, most of the time I know the title of the song I want to write and the topic,the music reflects the topic as in "Evolution", I think thats a good example of how I think sometimes.

TLR!: Back to the Evolution EP, you recorded it over a week, if I’m not mistaken, playing every guitar and singing every word with every cut on the EP 100% natural, and with the legendary Sterling Winfield producing. Damn impressive in my opinion. How was the recording process for you?

The Commander: Awesome!!! He was a laidback perfectionist, and his main role was to say "No!" or "Hell to the NO!" when I had to many ideas at the same time. [laughs]
I like an organic sound for my music,that was the first thing I told Sterling when we picked him up at the airport,thats what he likes and wants to...so we knew what we wanted and got it.
We recorded 5 songs during those days,I was pushing the hours to 15 a day,I think I almost killed Sterling with my energy, [laughs].

TLR!: Commander, with 2012 just getting into full swing with spring almost here, what’s coming up over the rest of the year for you?

The Commander: Gigs,gigs,gigs ...a tour would be good!!!! I want to be done with a debut album by the end of this year,hope one of the songs gets really big,it would be fun if that was "Famous", hope I get the money to make a music video. I already paid and shot 2 videos but never received the footage nor the finished material, so I'm not very happy about THAT.

TLR!: I don't blame, I can't stand rip off merchants like that. On top of that, where would you like 2012 to take you both in your career and your personal journey through the music industry?

The Commander: Well, a big fat sponsor or a label with lots of money(does that even exist any more?? [laughs])would be nice.... I have lots of ideas and I'm always creative so it would make me happy to see those visions realized.
Personally I would like to get a Doberman to keep creepy stalkers on a distance,to start making money from my music wouldn't hurt either.

TLR!: Good plan on both counts! [laughs] Your thoughts on touring, is it better solo, or do you prefer to be on a large multi-band/artist tour like Mayhem Fest?

The Commander: Awesome! Could you put me in touch with them? I'm ready!! [laughs], of course I want to warm up for established acts.
TLR!: Well, they're press liasons for Mayhem Fest but I'll what I can do [laughs]. Similar vein, large venues or smaller club shows?

The Commander: Stadiums, here I come!! Hahaha-Seriously, I have some small venues booked for April, but I would like to move on to bigger venues.

TLR!: Thanks again for being here today Commander, it’s been great talking with you!

The Commander: Thanks again. [beaming smile]

For more from The Commander In Chief check out www.thecommanderinchief.net, www.facebook.com/thecommanderinchiefmusic, www.twitter.com/commandermusic, www.youtube.com/thecommanderinchief1, and www.reverbnation.com/thecommanderinchief.  

Joe Matera - Guitar Virtuoso & Respected Music Journalist
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 3/25/12
Posted 3/28/12 1:15PM EST

Photo courtesy JoeMatera.com

TLR!: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Joe.

Joe Matera: No problem it is my pleasure.

TLR!: To get things rolling how about some standard issue questions… how did you get started with music and what drew you to guitar most of all?

Joe: Growing up as a kid, I was always surrounded by music. My mother had a good vinyl collection of diverse music that ranged from pop to vaudeville to the latest chart hits from Italy! (My parents emigrated to Australia from Italy just before I was born). And there used to be a transistor radio in the house all the time that my Dad used to listen to so I naturally gravitated towards that, stations that would play the latest rock hits of the day.
What made me choose the guitar was, and was my epiphany moment was seeing Ace Frehley on the television. Seeing his stage presence, which was out of this world, and the pyrotechnics of the KISS show, and with his flame emanating Les Paul, was so cool and left a deep and lasting impression on me. It was superhero stuff for a kid of my age. Strap on a guitar and you become this larger than life character, and one that can affect others lives with your playing. The guitar just spoke to the depths of my soul. I tried my hand at bass and even the piano accordion (around the age of eight) but nothing really satisfied me as much as the guitar. The bass was too much of a standing in the shadows instrument for me, while the piano accordion was too conservative for my liking. But the guitar, now that was something else!

TLR!: Who have been some of the big influences on your playing? From both composing and performing standpoints.

Joe: I have taken from many sources as far as influences go, and though my main influences run the gamut from Boston to Kiss to AC/DC to Eric Clapton it also goes much deeper. I’ve listened to all sorts of different music, jazz, blues, traditional ethnic music, classical, metal and pop, and though my primary love is rock, I learned to respect all music. The one thing I’ve learned the most through it all, is that it is all about melody. No use going on ten minute shredding fests that will bore the listeners, rather give them something they can feel and connect to and most importantly hum too. When it comes to composing, I love the songwriting of Bryan Adams as well as of Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and even Swedish 70s popsters ABBA. Their song SOS is a textbook on songwriting and arrangement. Hell, even Pete Townshend called it the greatest pop song ever written. I agree.

TLR!: Joe, your sound is unique in that even though you add a shred metal edge to several of your songs it never compromises the “main” genre of your blues rock sound. I know several musicians that attempt melding genres in this fashion and end up going too far into one or the other for one reason or another. Is it difficult for you to keep your balance point?

Joe: Yes it is very difficult because as a guitarist, it is easy to fall into the trip of just playing one longwinded solo and being overly self-indulgent. I am very conscious and focused on the bigger sonic picture, keeping the audience that will be listening to my music at the forefront of any decisions I make sonically. While a song with vocals can repeat phrases over and over without it becoming tedious, doing something similar on an instrumental would spell boredom, so the knack is to keep that element at bay by utilizing a clever approach of where it becomes a “variation of a theme” something I learned may years from having studied the classical composers such as Mozart, whom I consider the classical world’s equivalent of a rock star in his day.

TLR!: While we’re on the crafting of your songs, where do you find inspiration to compose? And, if you don’t mind, what’s your creative process once inspiration has struck?

Joe: It comes to me from all sorts of different places. I can be in my car and suddenly a melody will come to me or I could listening to a CD and it can inspire me to pick up my instrument, but most of the time, it is just by noodling away on the guitar. I will play something and if it grabs my attention, I will focus on developing the idea further. I will usually quickly record the idea on my dictaphone and then using that as a template, build upon it until I have arrived at a completed framework where as I will then record a demo of it and from that demo, I will then use it as the song’s initial template. Then I will begin the creative process in earnest with by first recording drums and then the rhythm guitars.

Courtesy JoeMatera.com

TLR!: “Slave To The Fingers” dropped a while back, are you working on another EP or album for 2012?

Joe: Yes, I am working another new instrumental release, this time a full album. I am hoping to release that, all going to plan, later this year. I am also working on two other projects. One is a new band project under the moniker of Davenport/Matera, which is comprised of myself and UK singer/songwriter/guitarist Rich Davenport and is rounded out with a bassist and drummer. We have co-written all the material together and share the lead guitar duties and it is in the vein of Thin Lizzy meets AC/DC meets Blondie. I am also laying down guitar tracks for an ambient/goth/metal project called Uruk-Hai. These tracks will appear on Uruk-Hai’s new album due for release in late 2012. So am busy, busy, busy…

TLR!: How about touring, within Australia and/or abroad?.

Joe: I’m in talks to possibly do a couple of solo shows in Australia, but it is still early days. Other than that, my main focus is on my upcoming solo European tour in September which kicks off in Linz, Austria on September 22, 2012.

TLR!: Speaking of touring, you’ve played extensively with several original and cover bands including being a member of Geisha, any good tour/war stories you’d like to share? Not just from your time with Geisha of course, any and all parts of your career.

Joe: Apart from the usual “rock and roll stories” of signing women’s breasts, over zealous fans…I’ll share some of the best stories from the days leading my own band Double Vision. In a five year period the band did over 200 shows, some great, some not so great…here’s a few; having the lead singer literally quit the band via text a message a few hours before the band was due to perform. Spending those few frantic hours desperately seeking a last minute replacement, finding one at the eleventh hour and hitting the stage with a singer I’ve never met, let alone knew any of our set, but making it through with lots of improvisation and playing songs we were all familiar with. Close call!

Another is the dancing one armed, tattooed man who was lost in his own world, rocking away on the dance floor by himself while the band played on.

And another… the time when we were playing a Christmas party for a charity organization for a group of physically challenged people who were having a blast dancing to the band, only to have the fun come to an abrupt end when the police turned up and ordered the shut down of the gig due to complaints from nearby residents for disturbing the peace.

TLR!: This is a bit of a loaded question, so I understand if you want to “plead the Fifth” as we say Stateside, but which do you prefer, or at least find more personal pros and cons to, being a solo musician or being part of a band?

Joe: Everything in life has its pros and cons, not just being a solo artist versus being a band member. Bands can be a hellish nightmare when it comes to power struggles between certain members and when dealing with members generally on a business level. But then that same camaraderie is what creates that magical creative musical spark. Being a solo artist allows you to have complete control over your own career, and you don’t need to deal with lead singer disease or having to deal with inter-personal band issues, but it takes a lot more drive and energy and work as you’re basically doing it on your own. So it’s just a matter of how one looks at it and what one’s needs are at that point in their career. I am comfortable in both a band and solo setting and neither takes precedent over the other, it is just where my head is at, at this moment in my career.

TLR!: Taking a step back from performing and composing as close out our interview, Joe you’re also a seasoned fellow music journalist. How did you first get into the journalistic side of music?

Joe: I first started out writing for online music sites around 1999 and from there I moved into the print realm and spent the ensuing years writing for every major guitar magazine across the globe. The journalism side of things has certainly allowed me to tap into opportunities a normal musician would never have. At my level it has given me access to some of the best players in the world and to some of the most important people in the industry. It has provided me with a doorway that otherwise would have been out of reach. But I have to state that at the end of the day though, no amount of contacts, or knowing the right people or all the help in the world would ever be of any benefit if you can’t deliver the goods as a musician, as a player. In the end it all comes down to whether you, first and foremost have the talent. Once you have that factor, then you’re already half way there. Just to add, I’m actually in good company, many well known music artists and guitarists were former journalists, like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Marilyn Manson are just a few.

TLR!: Similar to the touring stories question, what are some of your journalistic gigs that standout or have a special place in your memory?

Joe: There are many but a couple that stick out the most meeting and interviewing Sir George Martin and Motorhead’s Lemmy. When it came to Lemmy, he taught me what a real rock star is and what a real gentleman is too. The guy is witty, intelligent, well read and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. As for Sir George, it is my most prized meeting as the guy is truly rock royalty. My main concern before meeting him was, ‘what do you ask a guy who has probably been asked every question before?’ But meeting him, proved to be a huge joy and pleasure and memorable. I threw out the questions and went with the spur of the moment, which led to Sir George discussing his work with The Beatles, his favorite guitarist Jeff Beck and his musings on the then music industry.

TLR!: Needless to say my friend, I hope to be able to say I will have a fraction of what you in music journalism. Thanks again for hanging out Joe, it’s been great talking to you.

Joe: Thank you for the interview and interest, keep those fires of rock burning.

For more from Joe check out
www.joematera.com. And don't forget to check out the TLR! review of "Slave To The Fingers" in our review section. 

Vassy - Heavenly Vocals from Australia to The World
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 4/18/12
Posted 5/1/12 4:35AM EST

Courtesy Vassy

TLR!: Okay Vassy, to get things rolling, you've been singing and creating music since a very young age I've read in your bio; what are some of the earliest memories you have of what drew you to music?

Vassy: Um, you know what it's weird, I didn't even grow up around a musical family or anything like that. I didn't really have exposure but I knew I wanted to do music when I got kicked out of the school choir, because what was happening was I was singing but I wasn't singing along to the beat and I wasn't singing the right melody. And the teacher gave me alot of warnings, and then finally had enough and said I didn't have what it takes to be in a choir and kicked me out. So I was devastated but at the same time I was also like "you know what", and something inside of me realized then that I was like "no, I have something to this" you know? I didn't really know how to identify with it, but there was something. And I think that was the thing that sparked me into my passion for music, getting kicked out of school choir. [laughs]

TLR!: [laughs] That's excellent. You're voice has been compared to Billie Holiday's, I can that a little in your voice as well but your voice is very much your own. DO you have any thoughts on the comparison? I've noticed alot of reviews and alot of critics have actually made that comparison when it comes to your singing voice.
Vassy: Yeah they do, and it's okay; you know I can hear that, definitely have been compared to alot of other artists and that's okay. Um, I'm very honored being compared to her, it really did inspire me; so naturally I'm going to have a bit of her in me is the reason I moved to America. After seeing New York, I was about fourteen and remember fantasizing about moving to America. [laughs] It's always been one of my dreams, you know?

TLR!: Yeah, excellent. Let's talk a little about your album that's dropping in a few weeks, May 1 if I'm not mistaken, or do I have the wrong date?
Vassy: Yep, May 1.
TLR!: May 1, Beautiful Day is out. What can we expect to hear in terms of style? You're billed as an R&B singer/songwriter alot, but your voice is very versatile so can we, of course expect that, but any other genres and styles in your sound or are you going to stick to your kind of core strength there?
Vassy: I'm not doing R&B on this album, Beautiful Day is a very quirky soul-pop record, has sort of an indie vibe about it. So it's very different.

TLR!: Very nice, very nice. Before that, if I'm not mistaken again, your last release was The Acoustics EP last year in 2011. How much time did it take to get thing rolling on Beautiful Day? Was it kind of a "lets jump right in" type of thing? Considering how much you had going across the board last year, or was there some rest time to care of the many multimedia placements of your music and writing collaborations with other artists?

Vassy: The Acoustics, I did that last year, and then these songs I wrote at the end of the year and in January; and then I put them together from there. So, yeah I had time to write and to do other things.
TLR!: Very cool. Growing up in Australia, you also started performing there, what are some of the key differences you find between the US side of music industry and the Australian side of the music industry? In terms of performing professionally at least, if nothing else.

Vassy: Not really sure I find a real difference wherever I perform, people are people, you know? Back home, obviously I had a following because I had a song on the radio and it was known so people knew my work. I had a big following at the time, people knew the words to my music so that was cool. But I had a very supportive fan base which is really cool. So, I don't know, there isn't really a difference, you know people connect with music. And when they connect with something they like you get a response, you know?

TLR!: I hear you.

Vassy: But yeah, back home I performed in front of big big audiences, and live on TV and stuff like that so I don't think they're all that far apart.

TLR!: Definitely. What are some of your top inspirations when writing a song?

Vassy: It varies, by the song and whatever I'm talking about that day. Every song has a piece of truth, generally when I'm writing for myself it's something I've experienced. And if I'm writing for other people then I might have a concept in mind, but it really just depends you know? On this specific album I've written about love, I've written about being scared about some stuff, otherwise it's a very optimistic, positive, uplifting album. So it really does make you smile at it, I really want to hear "I put it on to get my day started" and I really love that; that I can have a positive affect on someone. And just put them in a good mood and you know, get them feeling good about themselves.

TLR!: Awesome. That's something that doesn't, lately, happen alot. Lately the music industry has been very homgenized and about making money, I like to hear that from an artist. Later on in 2012, after Beautiful Day drops I know they will be promotions for it and so forth, but it's still pretty early in the year. What else do you have coming down the line? If you can talk about anything coming in the rest of the year yet?
Vassy: Yeah, I mean I have my album coming out in a few weeks, and I just posted about Cabin in The Woods, that just premiered this week so my song "Desire" will be on the album, and I actually have campaigns for TV shows that my songs will be in on the ABC network, ESPN, on Fox. ANd I have several campaigns I've written for like Victoria's Secret, NIKE, and then I'll be doing some touring as well in the summer because I want to try overseas; so many things in the process of finalizing. But I'll be doing a show in New York next week, and I have another show I'm doing in LA after that. But as far I go, it's all fun.

TLR!: I know it's hard to think beyond the immediate with so much going on, but where do you want to see your performing career go in the two, three, four, five years? However long you want to think about.
Vassy: Yeah, look I want my music to continue, obviously I want my album to do really well, get a big buzz. I would love to get added on the radio, I want to continue touring and performing for people all around the world. And then I would love to continue to write and collaborating, and I do enjoy writing for other people too; I'd really love for some of my songs to be picked up by other artists, that would be awesome! And I have a couple of ideas, like a foundation I want to start, I'm a big humanitarian, I'm very passionate about it. And also developing younger artists as well. But for now, I want to keep creating, just keep creating.
TLR!: Excellent, keep creating. From what I've heard of your stuff so far you are very creative and that is needed in the industry very much. Vassy, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with me today. I appreciate it and I'm sure the readers of Tastes Like Rock will appreciate it.
Vassy: Oh my god, my pleasure, I appreciate your support!

Vassy's album Beautiful Day is available now at all major retailers and digital download services. For more from Vassy make sure to check out www.twitter.com/vassy, www.facebook.com/vassyfans, and www.youtube.com/user/vassymusic.

Charlie Sabin - Attention Deficit Society Singer is Keeping Rock Real
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 4/18/12
Posted 5/10/12 6:37PM EST

Courtesy Big Red Rose Music

TLR!: Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule for us to talk Charlie.

Charlie: My pleasure!

TLR!: To get things rolling how about some history on yourself Charlie? How did you get started in music?

Charlie: I have always been a huge fan of music. I can remember knowing the words to every song on the radio at a very young age. When I was in 10th grade I signed up for a guitar class because this girl I liked at the time did. I barely passed the class with a 65, but I got the girl, and wound up being a professional musician! Go figure!

TLR!: What was biggest determining factor in you deciding performing is what you wanted to do with your life?

Charlie: I used to sneak into the clubs to see Ritchie Scarlet (Ace Frehley/Sebastian Bach) as a teen. I was completely blown away! Right then and there I knew what I wanted to do with my life!

TLR!: Do those inspirations still hold for you today? And has the list increased as your career has progressed?

Charlie: Absolutely! I would be lost without music. It has always been an emotional outlet for me. I would literally run home form school just to listen to it. I guess it was my way of escaping an extremely dysfunctional family life. From the first time I heard Ozzy sing “Sabbath bloody Sabbath”, I was hooked. The only difference now is that, I write songs to get things out as well. Unfortunately, the “business” side of things has a way of jading things sometimes, but when it is all said and done there is truly nothing like writing a song, bringing it to the band, rehearsing it, recording it, and then listening back to the final mix thinking, "wow, we did this!" then, of course, the icing on the cake is getting to perform it in front of a great crowd!

TLR!: Charlie how did Attention Deficit Society come together? 

Charlie: ADS originally started as a studio project with two guys from NJ and me just goofing around. We recorded a few really good tracks and everyone was psyched, but there were some “creative differences” and the project fell apart. Really not wanting to throw the towel in that easy, Tarik Solangi (producer) and I decided to push forward and replace them with Mike May (drums) and Jeff Scott (bass). Looking back now, it all worked out for the best.

Courtesy Big Red Rose Music

TLR!: How much would you consider the New York scene to be part of the bands sound? Integral or happenstance that you and the other members are from and based in New York?

Charlie: Mike, Jeff, and I were all born and raised in the NYC metro area. We all came up playing in different bands in and around the city, so we kind of always knew of each other through word of mouth. I like to think that each of us is pretty open minded when it comes to music, so our sound is a reflection of that. But there is no doubt that we are a new York band!

TLR!: As a singer and guitarist have you found that the progression of your talents has been a mutual evolution or does one take precedence over the other?

Charlie: I actually started as a guitar player that sang harmony vocal in my first band. I was promoted to “lead vocals” when we went in to record a demo and our singer was having difficulties with his voice. Everyone just kind of looked at me and said, “you sing harmony well, why don’t you give it a shot.” Reluctantly, I did and a whole new world opened up to me. I found it was easier to get a gig singing/ fronting than it was trying to compete with the insane amount of talented guitar players in my neighborhood. I did not start playing seriously again until ADS.

TLR!: How is the songwriting broken down between yourself and the other members of ADS?

Charlie: As of now, I am pretty much the main songwriter. We have collaborated on a few tracks as a band as well.

Courtesy Big Red Rose Music

TLR!: Charlie what do you personally find to be most inspiring when it comes to subject matter for songs?

Charlie: Life experience for sure. I have always been drawn to music that comes from the depths of someone's soul. True music fans know when it is real or just some contrived bullshit like a lot of pop music on the radio today. Most people, in America especially, are just followers and listen to whatever everyone else is listening to just to try to fit in and ”be cool". Rock fans are different though, we are the black sheep! Always have been, always will be! We circle the fringes of society, looking in, which, I think, makes us more aware of things that are wrong in the world. I for one was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, so I kind of find it offensive when some airbrushed flavor of the month sings about “partying all night” & “everybody have a good time”…… fuck you bitch, walk a mile in my shoes. It’s just mindless music for mindless people as far as I am concerned! I went out to see a friend of mines cover band the other night to watch all the lemmings get trashed and dance today's top 40 hits. I honestly felt sick and had to leave! what the fuck happened to music? [Laughs]

TLR!: When can fans expect the full release of “Songs from The Manor”? The three songs released as a promotional package definitely leave listeners wanting more.

Charlie: Thank you! We are shooting for a September 2012 release.

TLR!: And after that, what else is coming down the line in 2012 for ADS?

Charlie: Well let’s see…… the Grammy’s would be nice! [laughs] The MTV and Billboard Music Awards would be cool too, but in all honesty, we would just really love to get out on the road and play.

TLR!: Thanks again for chatting with on behalf of our readers Charlie, it’s been fun.

Charlie: No, thank you!

For more from Charlie Sabin and the rest of Attention Deficit Society check out
www.myspace.com/officialattentiondeficitsociety and www.reverbnation.com/attentiondeficitsociety.

Chris Bickley - Acclaimed Session Musician to Acclaimed Solo Musician
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 5/11/12
Posted 5/14/12 5:35PM EST

Courtesy Chris Bickley and Shredguy Records

TLR!: Hello Chris, thanks for taking the time for Tastes Like Rock and our readers today, for readers outside the know, would you mind kicking off with a bit of history on yourself and what drew you to music and playing guitar?

Chris Bickley: Well some friends of mine were playing guitar at an early age and my father always had one stored under my bed (I never so much as looked at it). I eventually started tinkering with my friend's guitar, that turned into me just naturally starting to play. So basically I started playing the guitar my father had (mind you this was a 1968 Gretsch) and learned he was in a Country band back in the early 70's. For me it was natural to just start playing. I never understood how; I just played what I heard.

TLR!: Your career has largely been made, and gained notoriety, through working as a professional session guitarist; how you got started, and have since become a highly sought after, session musician?

Chris: Well at first I was more a hired-gun, live guy. But by hanging around the studio and building a relationship with Vic Steffens (owner of Horizon Music Group), that slowly but surely turned into getting session work. I still do both, and it's really like a chain reaction; you do a few, then the phone rings and people get wind of what you're doing and what you're about. Same thing for live. I also pick and choose the stuff that comes along because I'm not always a good fit. Just because you do sessions doesn't mean you're the right guy for the job. I think I get more respect for knowing where I stand as opposed to just pretending I can do more than what might be in my catalog of playing ability. At the end of the day though I'm really a live guy; I love to just get out there and rock.

TLR!: That asked and answered, you’ve got your debut solo album, Tapestry of Souls, coming soon so what brought on the break from session performing to create your own solo material? Why now?

Chris: Well its been about two years in the making; I always wanted to do a record for myself you know and have my friends involved. Plus the timing was right with the tracks I already had, which sort of started with a previous band. Also Gaetano Nicolosi was available and helped me make it fly, so things just started coming together faster and faster; it just felt right. The record is out now on Shredguy Records.

TLR!: Tapestry of Souls is being released on my buddy Michael McDowell’s Shredguy Records label, what timeframe can we look forward to the album dropping on?

Chris: It came out May 1st and it is already available on I-Tunes, Amazon.com, CD baby, Shredguyrecords.bigcartel.com, Impulse Music, Diskunion Japan, and Chrisbickley.net.

TLR!: What type of sound and feeling will be on Tapestry of Souls?

Chris: You're gonna get a full-on hard rock album with shades of blues rock, classic rock and metal. We have some well-known, great players from bands like House of Lords and Obsession as well as some recognizable vocalists including Mike Vescera and Kelly Keeling.

TLR!: Will there be any shows or touring to celebrate its release?

Chris: No plans right now.

TLR!: Chris what goes into the creation of your songs? Do you need to be in a specific place mentally or emotionally? Or do the melodies and chords come into your mind and the rest of the songs identity evolves as you play?

Chris: No, I don't need any special places, sometimes just not thinking about it too much is the best way to get my parts out there. I try to just get in the zone to bring out the best in myself. The melodies come first usually, then the parts line up. Sometimes it's the opposite, which is even more strange for me [laughs].

TLR!: [laughs] Getting away from performance and creative processes for a moment, what are your gear preferences? And why?

Chris: Right now I have a pile of guitars I'm using for recording; from Vintage Fenders to a B.C.Rich Gunslinger, to a Buddy Blaze Shredder, then some Deans and a custom TJ monster guitar that I designed with TJ. Live (depending on the gig) I have been using my Dean and Zion guitars, Randall Amps Randall Rt50, and a Fender Blues Deluxe. Depending on the situation the gear changes. Some gigs I'm not shredding, but more playing chord inversions and accompanying the songs with the vocalist. That's when the Fender amps and the more traditional guitars kick in. Other times I'm playing hard rock or metal and doing what I need to do to rip it up, that's when I can bring out the big guns like the randall and more metallic guitars. I love Modtones delay and clean effects (they are strong and sturdy and sound great). The Rmc Joe Walsh Wah pedal is my Favorite Wah; true bypass and just sounds great. I use 2 Boss Od1 Overdrives as well.

TLR!: Sweetness all around! You’ve also got a ton of other projects going on with other bands as well as session work, how’s your 2012 looking for your non-solo gigs?

Chris: Pretty busy actually. I have studio work with Thunderhead and Terri lane, trying to finish up those albums; and I have shows with Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez. I have a few releases coming out this year too: Intuition with Gaetano and Luccio Nicolosi, and Dino Fiorenza (it's a progessive rock Christmas Album) and I'm also on an Iron Maiden Tribute cd coming out on Versailles Records.

TLR!: Back to your solo career, where are you taking it with Tapestry of Souls being released?

Chris: I'm going back to the studio since I have more material I'm working on, more songs to be written and sung! I have a lot of material I'm going to finish up and try to get out after the first of next year, so get ready this is just the beginning.

TLR!: Thanks again for the interview Chris, it was great talking to you!

Chris: Always a pleasure!!

For more from Chris check out