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Paul “Poolie” DiGiovanni of Boys Like Girls

blgmainOn June 20th at 8pm, Boys Like Girls will premiere their new video for “Thunder” on MTV’s new show FNMTV.  Hot off of their tour supporting Avril Lavigne and gearing up for their summer co-headlining tour with Good Charlotte, its hard to imagine where the band found the time to make a new video, but they managed to sneak away for two sleepless days to get it done.

Guitarist Paul DiGiovanni gave us a call to discuss the premiere of the video, their Massachusetts roots, and their upcoming tour!

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | June 2008

You’re about to debut your video for Thunder on MTV’s “FNMTV” Friday night at 8pm, Can you tell us a little bit about the video and the partnership with the show to debut it?

We recorded this video maybe a month ago in Los Angeles.  We went down there for two full days, no sleeping no resting and we did the whole video.  We did it exactly as we wanted it; we’d been planning it for a while.  It’s really awesome and really fun.  The concept is that we’re having one more night out with all our friends and doing all kinds of crazy stuff before we start touring.  As far as the show, we figured what better time to premiere the video that on this brand new show.  We’re really excited!

So the concept of FNMTV is pretty much back to classic MTV, showing video premiers in their entirety and featuring live performances, but now the viewers get to give immediate feedback via the digital world and their comments and submitted videos will be showcased that following week each time the video is played on MTV, allowing the viewers to take control.  It’ll be interesting.  How do you think your new video will be received?

I’m really hoping it’s going to be good.  The way we broke out in the beginning was we recorded a few songs before we were known at all, before we really even had a name.  Then we threw them up online and just waited for some feedback.  It was really great, it just sort of took off and we were all really surprised.  Through word of mouth is sort of how it blew up, it got pretty big for having no press and no anything at all for the first year.  So that’s how we got our legs in the beginning, and that’s how we got to where we are today.  The whole beginning was just kids who were just awesome, who told their friends and through word of mouth it just went crazy from there.  Hopefully it’ll be the same thing.  I feel like this signifies that.  I really hope it’ll be good.

Boys Like Girls - Paul

Paul Live – Photo by Mary

What do you think the highlights from FNMTV will be?  We saw Snoop Dog giving Pete and Ashley some parenting advice!

Oh man, Snoop Dog just coming off his sabbatical!  Hopefully we’ll all just have a good time, you know?

You’re debut album has been out for since August of 2006, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  Have you started work on a new album yet and what can we expect, and when?

About a year ago we started recording at my mother’s house and writing and writing.  We started demoing three complete songs that are ready to go.  We’re just going to keep hammering them out.  Martin and I are just going to keep writing and working through everything to have it as ready as it can be till we can get into the studio in a few months from now.  We’re not definite on timeframe that we’ll go into the studio.  We’re on this summer tour, and then in the fall we’ll see what happens.
Our site has something in common with BLG!

Oh yeah?  What’s that?!

We’re based out of Massachusetts!  You’ve paid homage to the state in videos in the past, how important is it to you to have that local tie in?

It’s awesome because we are all very proud of where we grew up.  This is our favorite place to be!  Whenever we get time off from touring we just love being around home and being in Boston.  In the Heroine video we were really excited to film in Boston.  Some really historic places, some scenic places, out near Logan with the planes flying overhead, we did a bit at Fenway down on Lansdowne Street and all that.  It’s a cool feeling to showcase where you grew up in one of your music videos.

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You’re getting ready to go out on The Soundtrack Of Your Summer tour with Good Charlotte, Metro Station, and The Maine after being on a long tour with Avril Lavigne.  What’s the one thing you miss the most while out on tour?

Definitely, definitely, family and friends!  That, first of all, that’s a given!  It’s tough being away that long.  You’re keeping in contact and trying not to feel like you are missing out on stuff at home.  Secondly, your own bed to sleep in and your own shower to shower in everyday!  Either you can’t find a shower or it’s really disgusting. Love the lifestyle.

Speaking of “The Soundtrack Of Your Summer” tour… no Boston date?  No hometown show?

We’ll we’re playing some Mass shows but nothing IN the city.  Tsongas Arena is one of our favorite places.

Oh, you are playing Tsongas?

Yup!  Up in Lowell, which is awesome.  We played there at the KISS Jingle Ball, which we loved and we can’t wait to play there again!  We’re doing Lupo’s too, which is pretty close to Boston… so…that’ll be great.

This tour is a co-headlining tour, so will fans see a big difference in the set from the Avril tour?

Not a huge difference.  I mean we only have one album out right now.  We are definitely going to have a way bigger show on stage with some new transitions.  We’re going to spice it up a lot, probably going to throw a new song in there and possibly a new cover.  We’re going to do everything we can to make it as crazy and fun as possible because this is the “Soundtrack of OUR Summer” tour, and it’s going to be everything we want it to be.  Really.

Boys Like Girls

Bryan Live – Photo by Mary

One of your very first tours was with one of our favorite artists, Butch Walker.

Ahhh… ours too!

What did you learn from that tour?

I think at that time that was the biggest tour we had ever been on.  He is such a seasoned veteran in Rock & Roll and in general, his songwriting and everything he’s done is just incredible!  He kind of just showed up the ropes.  A lot of the tours we had been on before that were people our age and kids just blindly going into this.  We all had a great time.  He just showed us a lot of stuff.  He’s just a really cool guy, he took us under his wing.  He’s just great!

In just a short two years you’ve played small clubs, big arenas and festivals.  Which remains your favorite and why?

Oh that’s such a tough one!  I’d say at this point right now club shows.  We just did a month and a half with Avril, it was awesome, we were in love with the huge arenas.  But, sometimes when you are on a tour for that long you start to feel disconnected with venues that huge because you are much more disconnected from the fans than you are at a club show or a really small show.  On this Avril tour we did a few one off shows at 1000 seaters, 900 seaters even some 800 seaters just to do something on our days off when we had nothing to do.  Those are just so rejuvenating! You’re sweating like crazy and it’s totally loud and just jam packed shoulder to shoulder with kids jumping up and down going crazy.  That was just such a refreshing feeling.

I hear that a lot actually.  Band love to go back and do a couple small club tours or club shows and just get that connection with their audience back.

Right.  Now if you had asked me that last fall when we were doing our club tour, I’d have said arenas!  It’s just whatever is new and fresh that you haven’t done in a while.

Boys Like Girls

Martin Live – Photo by Mary

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Boys Like Girls Official Webpage

Boys Like Girls on MySpace

Bo Bice

May 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

bomainFor Bo Bice, his new album See The Light is his coming out party.  While many music fans were introduced to Bo through American Idol and his follow up debut release The Real Thing, that was just a preview of things to come for this Southern born rocker.  Describing the writing process for See The Light as a pure sense of freedom, Bice was compelled to write a diverse set of tunes that really gets down to his roots.  He felt free to experiment with a broad range of sounds and styles without feeling any pressure from the powers that be, the album is 100 percent Bo Bice from start to finish.

Released on his own label (Sugar Money/StratArt Records) Bice is definitely putting it all out there.  He realizes the benefit of the exposure that American Idol brought him but the rest of his success he had to chase on his own.  Luckily for him, music is what comes naturally.  While the album definitely gets down to basics and draws from his influences of classic rock, it also boasts of some funk, some soul and of course good ole fashioned Rock n Roll, more than anything else you can tell that Bice loved writing this record and when you can permeate that kind of feeling through song, you’ve successed.

Bo Bice recently took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Stacie about the album, about his journey getting to this point and about his life outside of music…

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | May 2008

On your latest release “See the Light” you claim that this is the genuine Bo, or the REAL Bo.  While I totally understand what you mean by this, explain to our readers in your own words what you mean by that, and what this album means to you.

The latest release “See the Light” is a genuine Bo Bice record.  I had a great time making “The Real Thing” it was a wonderful record.  We did great with sales.  We worked with wonderful producers; you know Clive Davis and RCA.  But, it was more of a pop oriented record.  “See The Light” is more of the root-sy, back to basics thing that people recognize from Idol that I did, that southern rock style more than anything.  Really it’s an accumulation of everything I’ve listened to from Allman Bros, to Lynard Skynard, Black Crowes and Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Croce.  It’s a melting pot of those influences, that really over the years, these songs have just kind of were acquire because a lot of those folks. I felt like getting back to the more genuine side of what I do.

It’s no secret that you were sort of bound by RCA and Clive Davis on your first album.  I don’t want you to think I’m looking for you to bash either, but I’d like you to comment what it’s like being an artist and having others try to fit you into a mold of sorts.

Right, I think for the most part it’s no secret that that isn’t the album that I would have made, but I think also when you get into the music business you give up some control to people who at times might have more knowledge than you.  Clive Davis is great at creating acts and creating hits on the radio, and knowing the write song writers and producers to use.  I definitely wouldn’t consider the time I spent with RCA a battle or anything, I was very happy.  I learned a lot from the producers I was able to work with like Desmond Child, Marty Fredrickson, Cliff Magnus, Chad Kroeger, Josh Hanks and all these folks.  I learned a lot from that.  There is a lot of things you give up when you are signed to a major label if you are a creative writing artist.  I think if you want to have hits, and have somebody guide you through your career then that is a great avenue.  I definitely would never bash them, because they’ve made great hits.  I haven’t been around for decades making hit records and Clive Davis has been responsible for several different avenues for people’s careers.

My favorite CD review quote from Blogcritics.com: “A little Lenny Kravitz, a little Lynyrd Skynyrd and oh what the heck, throw in a little Bon Jovi for good measure. Stir in a pinch of southern fried chicken and a shot of Jack Daniels and voila, you’ve got yourself a fresh serving of steaming hot Bo Bice.” – Clever eh?

That is pretty clever.  Not a bad review, I don’t mind stuff like that!  There has been a lot of influences over the years on me, and I don’t take credit for any one sounds or movement… it’s just hearing what I love.  I just amazing that I get to work at my dream every day!  It’s a blessing and I’m blessed to have great fans that make comments.

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Purchase Bo’s Album now here

Speaking of reviews, everyone has their opinion… but, I’m wondering if you read the reviews, and if so how do you take the good and bad and keep yourself from gauging your own eyes out?  Do you get caught up in it, or do you try to stay away from it?

I try not to read too many reviews.  I see them on my website.  On bobice.com we’ve got a pretty open fan base and we’ve got an interactive site.  They get up and post the reviews, the good and the bad, and for the most part the worst review that we’ve gotten was a guy that compared me to all these acts that I’ve loved, like the Black Crowes and Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Hendrix, and Bad Company.  So at the end of the day I think he was trying to do a bad review but it was really more of a compliment.

I was gonna say yeah… how can you take that as bad?

*laughing* to even be put in that caliber with those acts… I try to take everything as constructive criticism.  It doesn’t mean you start changing the way you do things cause you get criticized a certain way and say I’m not going to do that again.  I think it makes you more mindful of how to be tactful with people when you say or do certain things.  At the end of the day you don’t have to be PC all the time.  Last time I checked we lived in a free country, so there are good and bad reviews and at the same time I try not to put too much weight on the good ones or the bad ones.  When you start believing in your own press, that’s your own downfall.  Pay attention to what the fans want and what the people who buy your records and support you at your shows and things like that. Those are the people that count more than myself or anybody else.

There are music critics and fans out there, who might judge you based on the fact that you were on American Idol, which is more of a pop artist machine of sorts.  Or might judge you based on your first CD.  What do you have to say about that?

I think one of the cool things is that adversity is what drives us as artists.  That doesn’t mean shoving something down someone’s throat or to take retaliation towards people.  I don’t run from Idol because I’m proud of it and it gave me a career.  Do I want people to recognize Bo Bice for what he does?  Yes, every artist does.  Part of having a music career…If the Lord blesses me enough to have a long career in music…there will be plenty of time for people to find out what I’m about.  I think if I were to run from it, it’s be bite the hand that feeds you, cause a lot of the people who watched it and got me here, still admire that show.  I credit them for giving me my career and getting me to this level.  Yeah, I want to try to win people over with my new music but for the most part I’m proud to be part of the alumni of American Idol.  I think once people get to know Bo for what he really is… just like the other week when I performed on Idol… it was the first time I’ve been able to go back and do one of my originals.  They invited me back and gave me the pulpit for a minute to show the same Americans, who got me where I am, the new side of Bo Bice.  Some might look at it as a double edged sword, I just look at it as positive environment when I get to go back and see my family there at Idol, cause they are, they are like family.

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Sugar Money is your own label in partnership with Strategic Artist Management.  What is it like running your own label, how has it helped you in your musical endeavors?  You know, regarding time constraints, paying artists, studio time, creativity… I would assume it opened up more freedom.

Sugar Money is my label; I don’t have any partners… I did partner up with Strat Art to do the last album “See the Light”.  I have an independent label that I run.  We’re not a huge Fortune 500 company; we’re grassroots as it can be.  I own my own studio now, Rockhound Studios.  I’m able to write the music I want, record the music I want, produce.  Those aspects of owning your own label are great.  There was time that I caught flack from people who said “This is never going to work!” or “You’re doing to much!” For me, just having the freedom to be a dad and a husband, and make the music I want… it’s been liberating!  I think it shines through on “See the Light”.  Hopefully on the next project, which I plan on putting out through my own label also, I’ll be able to revisit that kind of freedom.  I would like to delve into different aspect that I haven’t touched yet, like maybe, some acoustic album stuff or throw a couple of covers on there.  Do things that I really want to do and the only person that I really have to convince at the end of the day is the guy with the pocket book.  So that is when we have relationships with other labels, marketing places, distribution deals, and licensing deals to where they want you to either invest in Bo Bice as the product has been handed to them or they don’t.  So when you get someone to invest in your album or license it, they’re interest is vested in you.  That is better than someone handing you a paycheck and saying “Here’s your chunk of money!” There is more of a risk that you take financially, but the pay off outweighs the risk.  Once you start chasing the dollar the artistic side of this really goes out the window anyway.  The greatest thing to me is having that flexibility to now turn down or accept certain things.

Being that you wanted this last album to be more you, are you taking that notion as sort of your future mission regarding other artists you may come to work with?  Have you worked with other artists helping them produce and record their OWN music?  Helping them stay true to their selves and talents?

Yeah it is something that I’ve entertained.  I’m kind of using myself as the guinea pig, trying to find that template through what I do.  To make sure that is going to be a successful venue for artists that I come to work with.  I don’t really have the mindset like some of the labels… you find an act…the best song, or the best act, or the best thing… and then you throw it up against the wall and whatever sticks you say “Give me three more!” My mindset has been more towards putting out quality music, like Black Crowes, like Willy Nelson, like Lynard Skynard when yes, you are putting out good music, but your fans are going to come back cause they loved YOU.  Once you have that kind of impact on people then you are truly able to live out your dreams. SO, I would want to pass that concept down to any artist that I work with, that it’s about staying genuine, working hard, creative artist development that really don’t even get dealt with anymore.  It’s like a one or two record deal and your gone.  So yeah once I’ve got this figured out on myself and we’ve got a good track record, then yeah we’ll bring on other acts, and teach them how to survive in the music industry.

Ok so years ago you used to hear about artists moving to L.A., nowadays we are hearing about Nashville.  Bon Jovi tripped to Nashville to write and record their last album too.  Tell us about the music scene there, and why you chose it.

Well it’s a great music scene.  I came up to Nashville from Alabama because it was as far north and west as they’ll ever pull me.  Being from Alabama, I’m a southern boy!  I was here over a decade ago trying to make it as a songwriter and lived in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, so this is really home town turf in a sense to me.  The music industry here (I’m just going to use the word industry) has changed here so much.  You’ve got television and film here.  Most videos that Nashville folk shoot are done here in Nashville. Writers.  Producers.  It’s always been a great haven for great players.  I think it’s really had it’s moment to shine in country music but now it’s cross pollinating into things like Rock and Roll, some really heavy rockers are here and Hip Hop folks.  It used to be L.A., New York and Atlanta… now it’s L.A., New York, Atlanta and Nashville.  It’s a nice place to be and a friendly environment for artists, producers, players, to all mingle and pick each other’s brains without having an outside project that’s been put together by an outside entity and then say see you later.  It’s more of a relationship based thing around here.  You make friends and you help each other out on projects.  So that is more of the vibe in Nashville.

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Ever go online to wikipedia.com?

I’m not as computer savvy as I should be.  I’ve gotten good at doing video for my website… I can google.  *laughing* I’m kind of LOST!

*laugh* So you’re not Geek Squad like me?

Noooo…

I hit on it while doing my research and that site has every little fart you’ve ever made!  I’m surprised your address and phone number isn’t on there!  Do you ever feel invaded by all the information that is out there about you?

I’m not surprised!  There are positives and negatives in the business about that.  I guess I don’t feel too invaded.  You set yourself up, by being in the public eye.  The best you can do is grin and bear it.  The part that gets me is that I’ve lived a colorful life.  I haven’t always been the greatest guy and I’ve definitely never been an angel.  SO there is a good and the bad and it all sort of lives out on some computer screen somewhere.  I guess the only part that I don’t dig is something that I did years ago that people find out about.  It made me who I am.  You run across folks that want to dirve that stuff into the ground with you… but other than that to be honest it’s pretty freeing.  It’s cool that people know everything about me.  A lot of times I find out more about what I’m doing through my fans!

You’ve been involved in quite a bit of charity over the past few years.  You have an appearance coming up with Ride for a Cure benefit; tell me how you choose what charities you will be involved in, because I’m sure you must get asked with great frequency.  Is it something that has to hit on a personal level or is it more of a time allotment?

It has to do with a little bit of both.  Some things are personal.  I always try to do things with St. Jude’s and cancer research in general, the Autism Society, the Safe House, Women’s Shelter… different things that I hold to my heart.  Then there are other things like this ride and a bowling tournament coming up, we do those because it is more of the time allotment and what I can do when I’m not doing a show or traveling, or doing press.  When I can fit it in, I try to do it because I feel like I’m lucky to have the popularity that I’ve got, and if we can use that to further the cause of any of those charities, awesome.  It’s the best way I can give back, with my money and my time.  The Lord blesses me with a great career and it’s time for me to give back.

We wish you all the best in your musical career and your family.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today!  We’ll have to come check you out when you are up this way in CT in July!

I’d love to see ya’ll there!  You stay warm up there!

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Bo Bice on MySpace

Bo Bice Official Website


Spencer Swain of ZOX

March 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

zoxmainCurrently out on tour in support of their latest release, Line In The Sand, ZOX (Eli Miller on guitar and lead vocals, Spencer Swain on violin and vocals,  Dan Edinberg on bass and vocals, and John Zox on drums) continue to woo their cult following from coast to coast.  Making a mockery out of mainstream ideologies by letting their music be the predominant voice that speaks for them, these guys are definitely a horse of a different color. It’s not easy to create perfect pop songs with deep rich layers so beautiful they should be framed and hung on the wall, with lyrics that are heartfelt and relatable, all while trading in the lead guitar for a classically-trained electric violinist.


The band came together when a few members met in college in 2002, thats right, brains and beats.  They played the college circuit and started to build a voracious fanbase that only continues to grow to this very day.  Doing things their own way from the start has made the band a formidable force. Mixing a melting pot of sounds from their folk roots to indie rock, to 80s influenced sounds, Line In The Sand is being called their best album to date. Produced by John Goodmanson (of Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, Harvey Danger fame), Goodmanson seems to have pulled the best out of this quartet.  Whether it be their anthematic rockers or their balladesque heartbreakers the songwriting on this album should not go unnoticed.


Violinist Spencer Swain took some time to chat with TWRY staffer Stacie before their recent show in Boston.  Dig it.

Interviewed by:  Stacie Caddick-Dowty | March 2008

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Ben Romans of The Click Five on The One Love

December 29, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

click5bandAlthough some of us may not always remember, there are things in life that transcend music. However, this doesn’t mean that those things can not be supported hand in hand with music and the people that make it. The One Love personifies this idea. Started by Ben Romans of The Click Five and his business partners Cassie Petrey and Jade, The One Love is an project that reaches out to various charitable organizations based on the musicians, artists, producers, and fans that take part. Essentially, the more that people participate, the more that the charities involved benefit. It’s a win win all around, creating a community that everyone can be proud to be a part of.

One may wonder, with a successful band under his belt, how does Ben find the time to dedicate to this project, but it’s not about finding the time, it’s about making the time. That is the common theme throughout, we all have the power to help within us, what we do with it, is in our own hands. With the new year fast approaching, what better time to make that decision than now!

Ben recently took some time during this busy holiday season to talk to TWRY Staffer Stacie about The One Love and of course The Click Five!

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | December 2007
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David and Jacob of Lynam

November 21, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

lynammainAlabama based Lynam have one mission – to put the ROCK back in rock and roll.  With their upcoming release Tragic City Symphony they give it their best shot – drums fit for an arena, catchy choruses, and a ballad or two to raise your lighter…er…cell phone to!  Big arena style rock is not a thing of the past, it’s just missing from the present but Lynam is intent on making it a fixture of the future.  With guest appearances by Cinderella’s Tom Keifer and Hinder and produced by the likes of Jason Elgin (Collective Soul, Maylene, Sons of Disaster), Tragic City Symphony is primed and ready for a rock n roll revolution.

The trio (Jacob Lynam on vocals and guitar, David Lynam on drums and vocals and Mark Lynam on bass and vocals) are blood brothers with DNA derived from pure adrenalized rock.  Drawing their influences from bands like Motley Crue, Nickelback and Green Day, Lynam looks to fill the heavy shoes of bands that know how to command a stage and excite an army of fans.  Currently on a non-stop tour of bringing their show to every stage that will have them the band is also taking part in the upcoming sold out Motley Cruise, that’s right – rock on water baby!

Recently Jacob and David took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Stacie about the state of the music industry, their personal manifesto to bring rock n roll back to it’s glory days and all things Lynam.

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | November 2007
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Derek James

November 5, 2007 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

djmainFor readers who are being introduced to you for the first time, what should we tell them about Derek James?

Well lets see, you can tell that that I play pop-rock-folk rag time music, and I’m touring around the east coast right now.  You can hear my music on my website or on my MySpace page. I just got off tour with Matt White whom you guys are featuring right now.

“Move over Mraz” and “Take a seat, Mr. Mayer” a few quotes from a review on CD Baby, regarding your disc “Stray”.  You got some great compliments there.  How does that make you feel?

Great! It makes me feel great!  Any positive reviews, any reviews that are enthusiastic make me feel good, from somebody that enjoys the music.  That is one of the great feelings about making music, when people enjoy it.  So it makes me feel really good.

…and being compared to Jason Mraz and John Mayer?  That’s unbelievable!

Being compared to those guys is flattering!  I very much respect bother of those musicians.  I think my music falls into that same genre. 

Take me through a few of your favorite tracks.

I think two track that almost didn’t make it “Smoky Light” and “What’s That Sound”, those are two of my personal favorite.  They almost didn’t make it, cause when I was making the CD I was working with a team of producers.  These two guys had very different visions and tastes and sort of pulling me in opposite directions.  One of them loved “Smoky Light” and “What’s That Sound” and the other wasn’t a fan of that kind of style.  Those songs are probably two of the purest most natural songs that I wrote on the CD.  Those are two of the songs that I enjoyed most writing and playing.  I wrote both of those songs in the basement of this families home that I was a nanny for at the time. At the time I was kind of cut off from most of the world.  I was living in New Rochelle in the suburbs with this really nice family.  Both parents worked real long hours and they had a son in high school who they just wanted to make sure could get driven around to his sport games and such, and not get into too much trouble.  SO I was basically living there as a “manny”, but more like a big brother.  I didn’t know many people in the area and I spend most of my time hanging out with the family dog, playing my music in the basement as not to wake any body up.  “Smoky Light” and “What’s That Sound” were sort of outlets for my pent up energy. 

 

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Stay – Derek James

 

So was it you?  Did you push for those songs to make it onto the CD?

I was paying these producers.  No one was in charge of it ultimately but me.  Before we started the CD I had played them like 30 songs and together we whittled down the strongest ones.  Which ones we thought would be best for the record.  I think I was a little unsure that they would fit because they are a little different than some of my other stuff.  One of the producers supported them and gave me the confidence to keep them on there.  I’m grateful I did.

How did you get started in music?  What made you pick up that guitar and start playing?

I was kind of force fed piano lessons when I was about ten and I took lessons for a few year.  I like it, but not enough.  I think probably because it was something that I was made to do it turned me off.  I gave it up when I was about 12.  When I was 13, I always thought the guitar was really cool, and my mother played the piano, but knew nothing about guitar.  I figured this was something that I could learn independently since she didn’t really know anything about it.  She wouldn’t be able to push me too hard with it.  And I just thought it looked cool, and sounded cool.  I loved how guitar in sounded music, I loved finger picking guitar.  As a child if I saw a children’s singer in the park with a guitar I was always attracted to it.  So I picked it up!

“There Is the Sun” has a line in French, and you lived south of France for eight months, for those of us who can’t interpret the line, will you do it for us?

The line is “Ca donnez moi l’espoir” which means “that gives me hope”.  The song was inspired when I was living in France.  I love France, especially the south of France.  In 2003, at the time was the big debate whether to go to war with Iraq.  There were anti-war protests all over America and all over Europe.  Heck all over the world.  I remember some ant-war protest going on where I was.  There was a huge anti-American sentiment in the air and I remember walking down the street one day and there were these evangelists, these Norwegian evangelists, preaching in both French and English about Christianity.  There was this French guy who heard them speaking English and assumed they were American.  He yelled out to them in French.  “Why don’t you go back to America, why don’t you go bomb the Iraqis.  He was very angry and stormed off.  It just left an impression on me of how many foreigners take on the view that all Americans share the view of what the government is trying to do.  So that song is about that.  It’s about not judging someone to adhere to all the views of the group they may be a part of. 

Now when you were in France you got a bit of experience there.  You put together a band of other fellas and secured some gigs.  Tell me how your times there went.

That was a BLAST!  It was very interesting.  I was very nervous and unsure of how the French were going to respond to my music.  I found quickly that if you could sing English songs without an accent you were a hot commodity.  There are a lot of French bands, and they love American and British Rock and Roll music.  A lot of the singers which sing well, its rare to find one that had at least a little French accent lingering.  So I was popular with some of the French musicians there as being a singer for their band.  I made a lot of friends with the musicians in the community.  We started singing in the streets and we toured around the south of France.  Playing in the cities, the towns, on the sidewalk and in the village on the grassy knolls in front of the beach, in front of a lake, whatever.  We took our instruments and we had a generator for our speakers.  Put out a guitar case and people gathered everywhere we went.  The largest crowd was about 200 people just surrounding us in a circle.  It was amazing; they were so receptive to the music.  In general there is a lot of busking that goes on in Europe, especially where I was.  The people just really appreciated live music.  I grew up in NY so I see street musicians a lot in the subways but people don’t stop and listen like they did in France.  It made it so fun to play, cause they were really stop and listen. 

 

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Derek Live – Photo by Stacie

 

You studied abroad his senior year in college in Wollongong, Australia, and your first live performance was there at an open mic night.  Tell us about it.

That was my FIRST live performance ever!  What I mean by first live performance is on a stage, with a mic, and amplified.  I had played in college in front of roommates.  This was my first.  It happened at an open mic night.  There were a lot of musicians living in the dorms I was living in, in Australia.  The last month I was there, one of them found out about this open mic night and rented a bus to take us all out there.  I was thinking about it and one of the guys was like “you have to do it!” It was something I always wanted to do.  So I went along and went on stage and played four songs, and I was petrified!  I was having a panic attack, my body was convulsing.  I got through the songs and came down from the stage shaking like I had seen a ghost or something.  Thinking WOW, I was proud of myself for having done it.  But also thinking I didn’t need to be so nervous that I could do it better.  SO I had a drink and went back up about an hour later, twice as comfortable.  We went back a few more times before I left to play.  It got easier and easier to do.  It was really fun even though it brought with it a lot of anxiety and nerves, I still really enjoyed it.  I got a lot of positive feedback from my friends. 

This was as well in 2003?

This was in December of 2002.

WOW, cause I’m thinking your first performance is in 2002.  So we’re talking you’ve only been on stage playing like four or five years.  Having seen you in NY, you’d never guess, you’d think you’ve been doing this all your life.

Thanks.

 

What inspires you to write new songs?  How does that process work in Derek’s brain?

Anything can trigger it.  Mainly it’s a combination of ways.  I definitely don’t write songs one way.  I could be walking down the street and over hear a conversation and hear a sentence that strikes me.  Think that it’s an interesting thought.  I will take a topic and an idea and take a phrase or a line that I like and I’ll just start singing it, and I’ll sing it however it comes natural to me to sing it.  Sometimes I’ll be like “Oooh that sounds good!” and I’ll work on it from there.  Other times I won’t get anything from it.  Or sometimes I’ll just be jamming on the guitar and I’ll hear something in my head, and I’ll figure it out and try and just put it down on paper.  I won’t really hear so much lyrics but more melodies and chord changes.  Ultimately once I have the germ of the song, I need to finish it and solidify what the song is about.  Come up with the topic and make the rest of the song and all the parts work with the story I’m trying to tell.

 

Since those days in France and Australia how do you think you have grown? 

I’ve definitely grown into the stage.  It feels like home, I get up there and it’s a familiar place.  Early on it was very unfamiliar territory.  It was nerve-wracking.  So many frightening nightmarish thoughts about what could happen up there.  Like getting a tomato in the face!  People walking out.  People talking and ignoring me. Boo’ing me off the stage like at the Apollo.  All of those nightmarish situations or fearing myself freezing up on stage.  I’ve done it hundreds of times now.  I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot, or enough to have grown the confidence in myself and being able to handle myself no matter what happens.  Playing shows where I’ve been totally background music just to get some cash.  That trained me not to worry about the audience, and not to get distracted.  Just get up there and do my thing.  I always try to connect with the audience, I love that connection!  Untimately it comes down to this is something that I love to do and some people will like it and some people wont.

Now, every musician has performers/musicians that are their primary influences, tell me who yours are.

Martin Sexton really inspired me a lot.  You’ve got to check him out he’s fantastic.  He’s a singer songwriter.  I saw him live in NYC when I was in college three nights in a row.  I brought my dad one night and two friends the other nights.  I’ve never seen someone that many nights in a row.  He has this amazing baritone voice and this angelic falsetto.  He plays the guitar so beautifully and rhythmically.  I love his lyrics and his vibe.  He can fill a room himself with just his guitar and his voice and make it sound like a whole band was up there.  When I saw him it was him with a drummer backing him. I was blown away.  At the end of the first sone he was dripping in sweat.  He is definitely a big influence to me. 

Seeing you live in NYC, we just loved “Kiss” and “Fly Me to the Moon”; do the songs you cover have certain significance to you?  Are they just fun to play?

If I cover a song, unless it’s been for someone’s birthday and they requested it, I’ll really only cover a song if I really love that song myself.  Not just because I think a crowd will enjoy it.  Like “Kiss” I love Prince and I really respect him as an artist.  The same with Frank Sinatra.  I don’t do that many covers and when I do it’s an artist that I’m inspired by.

 

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I have to say that I’ve never seen a kazoo on stage before in a live performance.  Being a kazoo player myself, I got a big kick out of it.  Tell me how the Kazoo came into play.

That’s a funny story.  It happened out of a mistake.  On “What’s That Sound” when we were recording I had a trumpet player come in to play a solo for the instrumental portion of the song and he played this amazing rag time solo.  Muting it sometimes, it was so cool… it was jazzy, it fit the song great!  The next day the producer finds out that he deleted it by accident.  I had already paid the trumpet guy and he was a distance away.  I like quirky instruments and I had the kazoo with me in my little bag of tricks.  So I broke it out and said “maybe this could fit, maybe this will work!” I just kind of took a couple solos over it and thought it worked.  Then I started using the kazoo live.  It’s funny a lot of people haven’t seen a kazoo; you obviously don’t see it very often. 

Back in June you played with Alexa Ray Joel, I want to hear all about it!

Yeah, I played one show in NY with her.  She is very very sweet.  That gig came about because her drummer Mark Slutzky, who is an amazing drummer, has played with a lot of great performers.  He’s been touring with her for a while.  We played together with another band he plays with called “Kill the Alarm” he became a great friend and has always enjoyed my music.  When they were looking to set up a show in ny, he suggested me.  He brought her out to one of my show.  They all enjoyed the show and we became friendly. 

I’ve read that you usually have a back up band. In NY you had Ryan on percussion (who was absolutely fabulous!) Tell me about the band, when are they with you?  Does it depend on the venue?

Its interesting cause as a solo artist, a lot of solo artist have a back up band.  I love playing with the band; they are a great group of guys.  Most of my shows before this Matt White tour were with the full band.  I love playing with other people and sharing that energy when you create music together.  Because I want to maintain my creative control, I want to play my songs and play them the way I hear them.  Because of that, it’s sort of like a dictatorship, which is why I don’t consider myself having a full band, where it would be more like a democracy where everyone has an equal say in how the songs are written etc.  So to keep it clean like that and maintain my autonomy.  Most singer songwriters hire a band and have them play parts that are pre-writeen.  I’ve found band members who enjoy my style and are talented musicians who come up with new parts to play for the songs that haven’t been recorded yet.  So for me, I’d pretty much always like to have a band with me.  It comes down to being able to afford it. 

When I do interviews I like to have fans submit questions and one of the question I got was “Do you have a Street Team?”

Yes, a very small street team. 

Where can they be found?  Do they have a website?

They don’t it’s very small and run by one of my managers.  Tiffany Meehan.  If anyone is interested they can email Chris@derekjamesmusic.com .  We’d love the support.

When I ask fans to submit questions, I usually get “Ask him if he’s playing Austin soon.” Or “Ask him if he is coming to Kentucky!” So as a general … tell us what’s next for you. 

I’m going to be booking tours.  I’d like to hit a lot of the same places I saw with Matt White.  I’ll be going around the northeast.  I have a few college showcases coming up, and hopefully those will lead to more gigs that will take me farther around the country. I want to hit major cities every few months and really try to grow it grass roots.

Send a message to your fans and future fans:

I’m thrilled that you enjoy the music as much as I do.  I’ll keep making it and hopefully you’ll keep listening.  I hope to see you dancing at one of my shows. 

##

Official Derek James Website
Derek James on MySpace

 

YouTube Vids taken by Stacie:
Smoky Light

Catching up with Matt White

October 24, 2007 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

mwmain

You just played in New Orleans, how was it?

It was good!  It was a small show.  We’d never played there before, so there were like 30 people there.  The other shows have been REALLY good!

…and where are you playing tonight, you are in Texas correct?

Yeah, we’re in Austin.

Wow, that was quite a trek for you!

Yeah, we drove like 500 miles strait through and got here this morning.  I did some TV this morning and now I’m resting.

Oh no kidding, like a local TX show?

Yeah it’s a music station.  Then the radio show was KISS FM on the Bobby Bones show, which is a big station here.

Ok, so “Best Days” came out September 18th, and you are currently on a headlining tour.  Tell me your thoughts on the past month; has it been a total whirlwind?

Yeah it has, it’s been very very exciting, to have it hit stores and to SEE it.  The video just went to VH1 last week, so the video is being spun and the radio play is starting to really build.  You know its fourth quarter, so kind of just go through… and fourth quarter is mainly for huge established artists.  It’s been really good.  The album is selling nicely, and the reviews are great.  People are starting to show up to the shows.  It’s all kind of coming together.

Am I going to have to start elbowing my way in?

Noooo, not you!  None of the Bleeker Street Kids… Ever!

A couple of my favorite tracks on Best Days are “Love”, which is my new favorite if you would and “Play” is my favorite live performance song.

I love “Play”!

Do you have any specific favorites?

Play is definitely one that I just love.  I also love “Just What I’m Looking For”, and I love “Moment of Weakness”.  I don’t know they’re all different, but “Play” is really my favorite.

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It’s a wonderful song live, it’s perfect for your closing tune.
I saw an article yesterday on Gibson.com, they have a little feature on you, saying that “The six-string is encoded in your DNA” that’s quite a complement.

Yeah, well my grandmother was the first female conductor, and she and all her brothers and sisters used to travel around the country and play.  They were like 6 or 7 years old to 15 years old playing around the country, and they were like little geniuses.

They focused on your guitar a bit; explain to our readers why it’s so special.

Well your guitar is something that you sort of bond with, you become comfortable with it.  It keeps in tune when I need it to keep in tune, it’s a good guitar.  A bad guitar gets out of tune when you really need it to stay IN tune.  But, there is definitely a bond.  I’ve tried to play other guitars, but I really love my Gibson J-200.

You’ll be playing some neat little venues.  Is there any place you are looking forward to playing most?

Tonight we are really excited to play Studs, because we get to eat!  Some people might be able to tell I’ve been eating a lot! Nah, we get to eat, it’s Texas and it’s just a great city!

This is kind of silly but the other day I spoke to Johnny Rzeznik, he is going to be a judge on the new American Idol spin off The Next Great American Band, any chance you are going to be watching cause it sound like it’s going to be pretty sweet.

Really?  No.  I’ve heard of it, and I know its going through Interscope.  But, I think when you have a thing like American Idol, it’s such a huge thing.  I don’t think it’s going to hit like American Idol.  I can’t believe Johnny Rzeznik is going to be a judge!!

Ok, Back to you.  We talked about your video “Best Days” hitting VH1, and we have you on the VSPOT Top 20 vote-able countdown, and on McDonald’s Live…

Yeah, I’m winning that one.

Um yeah, hello, why do you think you are winning?

Beause you guys are kicking ass!!

Yes, you are winning that competition so far, and the winner get their music featured in a future McDonald add campaign?

Yes, there is a big 2008 campaign, so that would be a big score!

…and then I watched the video on mcdlive.com of you guys playing a show, and Lee kind of gave you a hard time for adding “Love” to the set list.

Yeah, Lee didn’t want to play “love” right…

What’s up with that?

I don’t know man, but now he knows!  Now it’s built into the set so we’re all good.

So you’ve got this headlining club tour, an upcoming appearance on Carson Daly…

Yup, Carson Daly on November 1st, a November northeast club tour when I’m coming to you.  Then in December a doing a bunch of radio shows.

Will you be doing any more of the late night TV tour circuit?

We have some tentative dates for December.  But I don’t want to say too much.  Then come January that’s when things will hopefully start going bananas.

Bananas is good!

Alright Mattie, good luck, and we’ll see you in New York!

##

Matt White’s Official Website

Matt White on MySpace

John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls

October 10, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

jrmainFrom Goo Goo Dolls’ front man to The Next Great American Band judge?  John Rzeznik knows what he is talking about and will speak his mind and bring honesty to the show.  Real bands, who work together, play gigs in bars and who have been together for years, out to compete for their shot at a record deal.  The Next Great American Band will make bands jump through TV hoops and play unfamiliar genres of music.  They’ll be judged by Ian “Dicko” Dickson, Sheila E, and Rzeznik on all levels, including chemistry within and audience connection.

Rzeznik wishes he had someone treating him fairly when he was trying to make it, so that is what he plans to do, as long as you are not full of your own shit.  Egomaniacs beware, because John isn’t buying it!

We recently talked to him regarding his new stint as a judge on this first season of The Next Great American Band, which premiers on October 19th on FOX.  He’s faithful that we’ll be seeing a great selection of bands who are all worthy of a shot at the big time.  These bands will be given just that, minus Simon’s vitriol.

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | October 2007
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Amber Pacific

September 11, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

apmainWith the release of their latest album, Truth In Sincerity, Amber Pacific (Matt Young on vocals, Will Nutter on guitar/backup vocals/keyboard, Greg Strong on bass, Dango on drums, and Rick Hanson on guitar) have proven that you can grow as musicians without deserting the sound that brought fans to you in the first place.  Staying true to their pop/punk roots, Truth In Sincerity delivers with catchy riffs, addictive melodies, and creatively structured choruses. Even though the songs flow in typical Amber Pacific fashion you can clearly pick up where the band has dialed it up a few notches.  Matt’s vocals show vast improvement, Will’s guitar playing hits a new level, and the band as a whole seems to be working as a much more cohesive unit. Oh, the band decided to introduce a few new sounds into the mix as well.  Keep your ears open for the strings.

While Amber Pacific emits a funloving attitude there’s one thing they take very seriously – their music and the relationship it affords them with their fans.  They always bring it 100 percent onstage and 110 percent offstage – bonding with fans and taking time to actually get to know them on a personal level, even some of their songs have been inspired by people they’ve met along the way.  I guess you could say that they’re making the most of it.

Currently out on the road with Yellowcard and SUM 41, the band was cool enough to take time out of their busy touring schedule on the opening Sundy of NFL season and watching their hometown team the Seattle Seahawks beat up on Tampa Bay to sit down with TWRY Staffer Stacie to talk about the new album, the constant touring, and what it means to be a member of Amber Pacific.

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | September  2007
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Dusty Redmon of The Almost

September 9, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

thealmostmainThe Almost started as a solo project for all around workhorse Aaron Gillespie.  Sure, the name probably sounds familiar.  That’s because he’s the drummer for a little band called Underoath as well.  Let’s just say he’s a bit of an overachiever.

With Southern Weather, the debut disc from The Almost, Aaron wrote it from top to bottom and fronts the band that now delivers the goods live.  Gillespie played almost all of the instruments on the recording of the album and worked with producer Aaron Sprinkle to make this album everything it could possibly be.

The first single Say This Sooner grabbed the attention of music fans very quickly and started a buzz that has yet to stop. Southern Weather lets Gillespie display more of his melodic chops and allows him to get out from behind the drum kit and connect directly with the fans, something that is very important to him. The rest of the band, rounded out by Alex Aponte on bass, Kenny Bozich on drums and Dusty Redmon and Jay Vilardi on guitar are as connected to the songs as Aaron is.  By playing them night after night they have made a personal and spiritual connection with them as well – they aren’t just hired hands.

Currently blazing across the country with The Starting Line and Paramore, guitarist Dusty took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Stacie about the band, life on the road and some of his favorite things!

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | September 2007
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