Saturday semifinals and on the men’s side, the only real intrigue comes from looking ahead to the finals, although any player will tell you that they can never overlook the opponent immediately across the net.
Novak Djokovic, the number two seed, goes toe-to-toe with the sixth seed from Argentina Juan Martin Del Potro, the first man other than Rafael Nadal to steal a Grand Slam from Federer during his amazing run from a few years ago. Del Potro has dealt with injuries, which slowed him down following his US Open win, but he’s back and clearly has what it takes to reach the finals here.
Djokovic has definitely brought that return game of his, which will be key against the taller Del Potro who takes advantage of his height. The first set stays on-serve until Del Potro litters a serve game with two double faults and Djokovic breaks for a 4-2 lead. From that point, it’s a routine set of holds with Djokovic winning the set 6-3.
Djokovic breaks Del Potro during his second service game in the second set. A pair of holds before Djokovic breaks again (Del Potro fails to win a point during this service game) for a 5-2 lead. Watching the latter portion of this set, its curious to see Djokovic pushing Del Potro further and further off the baseline with punishingly deep shots. And he pushes and shoves him right out of the match with a final ace [6-3, 6-2].
The other semifinal match is all Swiss, all the time. The number one-seed and world’s number one player Roger Federer against Stanislas Wawrinka. The two teamed up to capture the gold in doubles in the Olympics and having served as practice partners over the years, there’s a real familiarity that could make this match intriguing.
Federer comes out and it is apparent that as the man is king of all he surveys. The crowds are overwhelmingly behind him, granting him home court advantage, although its not like he needs it.
The first set features flashes of brilliance from each man as they hold serve with Wawrinka confirming that he has a powerful weapon in his serve. He logs more aces than Federer, yet Federer's net play and shot selection more than keeps him in the match. By the inevitable tiebreak, the all-around game of Federer leads to a 7-4 win.
The second set is more of the same as they trade holds up through 3-games all, and then Federer sneaks in a break and a strong hold for a 5-3 lead. The expectation is for a Wawrinka hold and then Federer to serve it out, but an untimely double fault for Wawrinka gives the game and match to Federer [7-6 (7-4), 6-3].
Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic. The number one seed versus the number two seed – the first time the two top seeds have met in the finals at the W&S Open. This is the match everyone was waiting for and the crowds are raucous.
On court, the action takes an unexpected turn. Federer breaks immediately, holds and then breaks again for a 3-0 lead. He holds again at love and unbelievably breaks once more for 5-0. Is Djokovic hurt? He makes no calls for his coach or a trainer and simply lets Federer serve out the first set [6-0]. Has he ever been blanked in a set, in an event final?
When Djokovic holds to start the second set, the crowd whoops it up, hoping to provide him with a charge. And now both players look like the top seeds we came to see. The service games add up and there’s the sense that a tiebreak is in store.
When it arrives, the temperature seems to rise. Heat and excitement generate a palpable jolt. Federer grabs a mini-break on Djokovic’s first serve and holds his two points. Before the air deflates out of the stands, Djokovic holds and breaks back. Back and forth they go. At 6-6, with the crowd firmly in his corner, Djokovic holds to take a 7-6 lead, but Federer scores a huge smash before taking the next two points and the match.
He raises his arms and grants Mirka a knowing nod as he walks over to towel off before the trophy presentation. This match sets the field on notice that Federer is ready to extend his Grand Slam singles title count even further and everybody, including the defending champion, better watch out.
The women’s finalists, ninth seed Na Li (CHN) and the fifth seed Angelique Kerber (GER), have the distinction of being the players who took out the Williams sisters on the way towards this meeting and each of them has proven capable of slugging it out or exerting their will through carefully constructed points.
Much like the men’s final though, this one starts off rather one-sided. Kerber follows up an all-business hold with a quick break of Li and another hold. Li finally hangs on during a service game, but what has undone her thus far is an inability to rein in her shots. Serves and groundstrokes sail far and wide in an-ever increasing avalanche. She seems confounded by her lack of control, but by the time Kerber has earned the first set at 6-1, Li has no answers and yet, it is Kerber who calls for an on-court conference with her coach.
The second set offers more of the same, as Li continues to push shots, except for her swinging half-volleys, which she nails with surprising accuracy. Somehow, she settles into a groove and evens things up at 3-all. Kerber lapses into a funk and before you know it, Li has secured the second set 6-3.
Li breaks to open the third set and suddenly, the two have completely switched games. Kerber can’t keep the ball on the court or as the games mount, it looks like she’s frustrated by Li’s ability to power shots all over the court. Kerber begins to stop chasing down shots that she consistently reached in the first set. She calls for a second pow-wow with her coach after falling down 3-0. Li aces her to take the fourth game, but Kerber digs deep enough to win her next service game and the crowd perks up for a minute, checking Kerber’s resolve. Unfortunately, Kerber had nothing left in the tank and she allowed Li to sweep her off the court without much resistance.
The final score [1-6, 6-3, 6-1] doesn’t quite reflect the curious lack of sharp precise play. It will be interesting to see if either player can use today’s effort as a springboard into the US Open. The women’s side of the upcoming Slam appears wide open, ready and waiting for someone, anyone to step up to the big stage, like Stosur last year. At this rate though, it will take far more from either of these finalists to own that epic moment.
Why do you suck now?
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has been celebrating its year-long 50th season with a remarkable number of premieres. Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern will sustain that commitment to new work with a world premiere to kick off the 2010-11 season in September. High will feature movie and stage actress Kathleen Turner in a drama already designated for a move to Broadway early in 2011.
The quintessential Columbus rock festival, Rock on the Range, drew great crowds this year. We met with a flock of artists to get the scoop on this galaxy of music. Here are interviews with many of them:
Killswitch Engage is a metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999 after the disbandment of Overcast and Aftershock. Killswitch Engage's current lineup consists of vocalist Howard Jones, bassist Mike D'Antonio, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, and drummer Justin Foley.
Mike D’Antonio plays bass guitar and is a founding member of the band. He sat down with us at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s fifth self-titled album, Killswitch Engage and life on the road.
CB: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Mike: All my musical influences are from growing up when I was a kid. I was really into New York, Cromags, Agnostic Front, and Madball. Hard core music shaped the way I view music and who I am today.
CB: What is your favorite song on the new album to sing live?
Mike: The opening track “Never Again” is a hard rockin song and in your face which is what I gravitate toward so that is probably my favorite.
CB: I’ve been listening to your music to prepare for ROTR and I found the music on the new album to be a little darker and more aggressive than your past work. Is there a reason? Are you guys angry?
Mike: Not so much anymore. We used to be. I just had a birthday and turned 37 and I think we are through with being angry. I don’t know why it is darker. It is definitely darker, but it still has a positive message in the songs like we have had in the past. It may be because this is the first time that we have used an outside producer, Brendon O’Brien on this one. He has done work with Bruce Springsteen, Mastodon, AC/DC, Pearl Jam and others. He is not necessarily a dark producer though. Maybe it is just what we came to the table with this time.
CB: What was your process to write this album?
Mike: Whenever we write, we all bring demos to practice and we listen and critique it. We always have one week of practice and two weeks off to work on demos. We re-work it all the time. The process is always the same. The only monkey wrench in the system was the outside producer. Usually, Adam, our guitarist produces all our stuff and we are very comfortable with that. It was our fifth album and we thought that if we ever were going to take a chance, now would be the time. I don’t know if we will do it again. I really feel like we can do it on our own. No need to spend the big bucks if we don’t have to.
CB: What do you miss most when you are on the road?
Mike: Definitely my wife. I also have 2 pug puppies at home named Raisin and Potato. I desperately miss them right now. Potato just fell in the pool the other day when we took off the pool cover with all the chemicals in it. He fell right in and we had to wash him down.%u2028
CB: I guess he can swim.
Mike: It was even more scary because we didn’t see it happen. We just saw him soaking wet. It is scary. They have big heads and small legs so he definitely sank and swallowed some water.
CB: I read that you have a background in graphic design and that you do all the artwork for the band. It is cool that you can meld two things that you love to do together.
Mike: I started as a graphic designer because my friend’s bands actually needed art for covers and it was fun. For every band I have been in, I actually just assumed the position of graphic designer and took over as art director because it needed to be done and it needed to be cheap.
CB: This is a little bit timely, you guys recorded a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver.” He is a legend and recently passed, so how much did he influence you and what are your feelings?
Mike: Even until right before he died, he was an amazing musician and he could still belt it out. A lot of old timers today cannot. He was very “on” every single night. I have never met him but he was supposedly a super nice guy. The world will miss him, especially the metal world. When we did the cover he graciously signed off on it and we heard he liked it. We actually got a photo from our friend who was on the Heaven and Hell tour with him that he took a himself holding a cardboard sign that said, “Hey Killswitch, Where are my Royalties?” It is actually hanging in our guitar player’s entry way to his house. So that is a really cool memory we have of him.
CB: You have a lot of tattoos. Is there any special significance behind them?
Mike: I love Japanese work, when I was little I used to watch a TV show called Force 5 with giant robots, but many are just cover-ups for shitty tattoos that I got when I was younger.
CB: Any message to your fans?
Mike: Apparently we have the best fans in the world. We have had some tough times with Howard and having to make up shows with Phil from All that Remains. The fans still came out to support us. We needed it desperately and it was like a giant hug that our fans gave us. We are in a great spot and we have no one to thank but them for us being here.
Like A Storm began in 2005 when brothers, Chris, Kent, and Matt Brooks first played together in their native New Zealand. They almost immediately decided to move to North America to pursue a career in music. Their song “Enemy” is featured weekly on ESPN’s College Football and their song “Chemical Infatuation” was featured in USA’s hit Royal Pains.
The debut album, “The End of the Beginning,” was released in 2009 and they have been touring almost non-stop to support it over the past 6 months in the United States with rock giants Creed, Staind, Hoobastank, Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Skillet, Shinedown, and Burn Halo.
We sat down with Chris Brooks and Matt Brooks from Like A Storm after their set at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and what’s up next for the band.
CB: You guys are from New Zealand, one of my favorite places on earth. When you are touring, what do you miss the most about home?
LAS: Friends and family for sure and savory mince pies, a staple of boozy nights in New Zealand. To be given the chance to do this kind of makes it worthwhile. lf we stayed in NZ, we would never be able to tour and do this everyday.
CB: I saw you guys with Creed back in the fall. What was your craziest Creed tour story?
LAS: It was a nightly occurrence to some extent. We played a show in Tinley Park in Chicago and it was the the last show for Creed. We decided to go out for a few quiet drinks and it ended with some of the band at 4 in a morning at a piano bar with us all singing and making requests. It doesn’t get any more rock-n-roll than that. We had a show the next day and it was very rough. Everyone was limping in one at a time barely making it.
CB: If you could have one of your songs in Guitar Hero or Tap Tap what would it be?
LAS: “Chemical Infatuation” just came out in Rock Band this week actually. I’m not sure if I could play guitar hero. I would probably lose.
CB: Do you still live in Vancouver?
LAS: Yes, but we kind of live on the road now. We are nomads. Any time off we have we try to go back to Vancouver or New Zealand.
CB: What is up next for the band?
LAS: We are on tour until Mid-June and then we go back to Vancouver to make a video for our new single, “Into Me.” After that we head back out to tour to enjoy the rest of the summer.
LAS: We played with Helmet last night and it was great and a huge honor. They are such an influencial band. It doesn’t get better than that.
CB: Who would be your dream collaboration if you could work with anyone?%u2028LAS: It is hard to pick one but I would say, Matt Bellamy from MUSE. I had a dream the other night that I met him. I would love to bring back Jimmy Hendricks and jam with him even though he would shame me on guitar.
CB: I know you guys are family, brothers in the band? Does it ever get crazy? Do you ever have issues since you are all family and together all the time?
LAS: It makes it easier. You spend so much time together and even if they weren’t your family, you would still need time apart. We all have this bond to play this music that we love. It is pretty cool. I can’t believe we all ended up here. We all started in different bands so for the three of us to be playing here at ROTR with Deftones and Slash is amazing.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
LAS: Limp Bizkit, I love Wes Borlund. He is one of my all time favorite guitar players. I can’t wait to see him play. Also, Definitely, Deftones and Slash.
CB: Any message to the fans?
LAS: Thank you guys for all your suport and allowing us to do what we love to do more than anything else. We can’t wait to see you when we tour.
CB: We want you In Cincinnati.
CB: What is your favorite venue and city to play in?
LAS: The other night we played in Spokane for 1200 people at the Knitting Factory. This was one of our first headlining shows and it became my favorite place. We had played huge crowds with other bands, but this was our first big crowd as headliners.
Janus is a Hard Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. They were formed in 2004 and are signed to REALID/ILG Records. Their unique sound mixes heavy rock with non-traditional rock instruments, such as auxiliary percussion, and electronic sounds. Their album Red, Right, Return was released last year and is getting radio play across the country with their single “Eyesore.”
We caught up with David Scotney the lead singer for the band JANUS in the back of their van at ROTR after their set.
CB: One of the interesting things about your music is that you kind of have heavy metal music with non-rock arrangements. How do make the leap from the studio to the stage show and figure out how you are going to perform it?
David: We just tried to make the best record we possibly could. We have influences based on where we all came from individually. We took a look at radio and the industry in general and what is out there and tried to do something that sounded different. We wanted to get people thinking. It has made the road a little harder and slower for us.
We’ve seen a little hate on the road, like people saying “We’re here to see Five Finger Death Punch, why aren’t you screaming at me like Five Finger Death Punch.” But then you meet people who say, “You got me thinking a little bit.” It is good to see people open their mind. It doesn’t always have to be dumb down beer drinking rock-n-roll just because you are in a club. People respect the fact that there is a little bit of thought behind it.
CB: You guys are on the road constantly. When you are on the road what do you miss most about home?
David: Yes, we are literally in this van you are sitting in for 9 months a year. Family, 100% the one thing we all miss. The hardest part of being on the road is missing family. No matter how much you believe in what you are doing, what you want to say and getting your art out there. There is nothing that compares to the gravity of family as a person.
CB: What is your writing process?
David: It mostly comes down to Mike, our guitar player and myself. Mike is an amazing song writer. He comes up with ideas all the time. He understands all of the latest technology that comes out and is by far the smartest person in the band. He can track a demo with the latest technologies for percussion, bass, guitar, melodies, even vocals. He really is the heart of Janus.
CB: What is the hardest part about being on the road?
David: It is phenomenal how hard it is to get to a show to do 30 minutes of music. 90% of that time would be better spent writing new music for the next record. It is ridiculous how hard it is to drag yourself and your equipment all around the country to play the next show when all you want to do is play that show and write new music for the next record. It is disheartening to spend your time traveling and drowning in logistics. You are traveling constantly. The best part is writing the music, doing the show, and meeting the fans on the road.
CB: What is your funniest tour story?
David: Before we got signed, we went to NY to showcase for a terrible record label and we are so happy we didn’t sign with them. We were going to play at a dive bar. There was a guy in a white range rover who we evidently cut off even though we were in the middle of nowhere. He pulled in front of us and got out of his white range rover in his suit and got a baseball bat out like he was going to hit our car and kill us. All of us got out, like 20 of us and were like “Really man?” The guy quickly got back in his range rover, thought about his 401 K, and then drove off. It was really scary for a minute and then hilariously funny.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
David: Helmet. I love Helmet. They are one of my biggest influences ever. They create harmony and emotion in the silence between chords. We played in Phoenix with them two weeks ago. They were the nicest guys and the most down to earth people. Page Hamilton is one of the most amazing artists I have ever met and an inspiration.
Adelitas Way is a Hard Rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada that broke into mainstream in 2009 with their song "Invincible", which is the official theme song for WWE Superstars. The band was formed in 2005 in by lead vocalist Rick DeJesus, lead guitarist Chris Iorio and drummer Trevor Stafford. The second single off the Adelitas Way album, "Last Stand" was released on February 2, 2010 and they are currently on tour all summer to support their record.
I caught up with Rick DeJesus at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and discuss his writing process.
CB: Who are you most excited to see here today?
Rick: I was very excited to see Skillet today. I am also really excited to see our boys in Papa Roach and the Deftones.
CB: No exciting stories today?
Rick: I am the boring one of the bunch. I am the old married one in the group, so I don’t have too many exciting stories. The other guys probably have some by now.
CB: You have been out on the road constantly since the release of your album last year.
Rick: Yes we are out on the road with Puddle of Mudd right now.
CB: When you are on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Rick: I miss my wife and my dogs. I am from Las Vegas. I miss my city. I miss my house. I miss my favorite restaurants. I wouldn’t trade this for the world though. I love what I do and playing music on the road. I love playing in front of the amazing fans. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We have had a dream year. We have been out touring with Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, and Sick Puppies just to name a few. It has been a dream year.
CB: It seems like a fairy tale to live in Vegas.
Rick: Yes it is. I miss it. I love it. Best restaurants, Best clubs, Best people.
CB: What is your favorite place to play when you are touring?
Rick: I always love San Diego. It is beautiful there. I always love going back to Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee as well. Atlanta is always good. Touring you see so many amazing places.
CB: Are you originally from Vegas?
Rick: No I am from Philly. We never go back there haha.
CB: How long have you guys been together?
Rick: This group has been together for 2.5 years. I started doing this going on 6 years ago. I started this with me writing. Writing poems. Writing stuff.
CB: You guys have the young one, Chris in the band, correct?
Rick: No he is back in Vegas. The road is not made for everyone. Some people can live in a van. We drove in from Buffalo last night and played right away. We get no sleep. For some people the lifestyle catches up with them. We leave our family, our homes, our friends and you are out on the road in a different city every night. Some people when they get out here they realize it is not for them.
CB: If you could have a song on “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” what would it be?
Rick: Our new single “Last stand.” It has the guitar anthem. I like it and it is a good song.
CB: Where are you heading next?
Rick: North Dakota. We have a long drive but we are used to it. It is nothing new to us.
CB: How did you get started in music?
Rick: I always liked writing and loved music. When I was 18, I snuck into a bar and played a couple of my songs and the response was great. It started there and I never looked back.
CB: Was your family supportive?
Rick: Yes, they have always been supportive.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Rick: I would probably be working with my father working running his heating and cooling refrigeration company back in Philly.
CB: What is your writing process?
Rick: I am nuts. I come up with stuff all the time. I’ll be sitting over here mumbling and tapping away and the songs come together. I write from a lot of personal feelings, so how I am feeling ends up coming out in the songs.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Rick: We love you guys. We are out with Puddle of Mudd right now and Halestorm in July. Maybe a headliner tour in August, so come and check us out. We are working on a new album. Buy this one and buy the next one. Lzzy, “You are a Ninja!”
Check out Adelitas Way at www.adelitaswaymusic.net
Theory of a Deadman, often known as TOAD, is a Canadian Rock band from Delta, British Columbia, formed in 2001. The band is currently signed to Roadrunner Records as well as Island Records.
On April 1, 2008, Theory of a Deadman released their third album, Scars & Souvenirs, from which they released eight singles, "So Happy", "By the Way", "Little Smirk", "Bad Girlfriend", "All or Nothing", "Hate My Life", "Not Meant to Be" and "Wait for Me". “Bad Girlfriend” was a number one single for the band. The band is planning to take time off later this summer to work on a new album.
I talked to Tyler Connolly, lead singer for the band, backstage at Rock on the Range to discuss his advice column and some of his craziest tour stories.
CB: I know you have this column called Ask Tyler? Have you ever given advice that screwed somebody up?
Tyler: Not that I know of, but I hope so. There should be a disclaimer that says if you listened to Tyler and it ruined your life then it is your own fault.
CB: How did the column start?
Tyler: The record label started a promotion to “Tell Tyler about your bad girlfriend” as a contest and then it turned into me telling people what to do with their bad girlfriends and then me just giving advice on what to do with their lives. It is quite funny.
CB: Do you answer them all yourself?
Tyler: People don’t believe me, but I do answer every one of them
CB: I read that you visualize when your write songs. Can you walk me through your writing process?
Tyler: I’ve heard some lyrics from bands that are just terrible. Bad Girlfriend has bad lyrics but you can visualize it. I believe that the most important thing in a song is the lyrics. I think fans can tell when something is made up and just trying to rhyme with no meaning. When I write, I want people to be able to picture the lyrics in their head like a music video. It is important for people to get into the songs.
CB: You guys are from Canada and I know you recently played at the Olympics. What was your Olympic moment?
Tyler: Winning an Olympic gold metal for Luge. The curling team captain was a cougar and hot. The snowboard chicks were pretty hot as well. Playing the show was cool, people from all over the world waving their flags. That was very cool and fun.
CB: I know that you are married. What is your secret to a good marriage?
Tyler: I don’t have a good marriage. There is no secret. It is impossible to have a good marriage in a rock band.
CB: How do you turn bad girlfriend into a good marriage?
Tyler: You don’t. It’s tough and you just do what you can.
CB: Do you have any new music on the horizon?
Tyler: We’re working on new stuff right now. Fall/winter we are going back in the studio. We have canceled stuff after August to work on it.
CB: I saw you had been on tour with everyone including Motley Crue, Shinedown, etc. What is your craziest tour story?
Tyler: We watched Tommy Lee burn his hand off with fireworks, but that wasn’t that crazy. We had this one girl that came on our bus with a bullet hole painted on her forehead. One of our roadies was trying to sleep with her. She was on drugs and wouldn’t get off the bus. She thought I was a lawyer and tried to attack me on my bus. We had to have someone drag her off the bus and then she went and laid down under our bus and would not go away.
CB: So you now ban girls from the bus or just no bullet-hole girls?
Tyler: We ban girls on the bus. No girls on the bus. We have had a couple bad experiences and it is not worth it. No more people on the bus. All it takes is one girl to come on the bus and say something bad happened and we are screwed. The band is finished.
Shaman's Harvest is an Alternative Metal band from Jefferson City, Missouri. Their newest single from the album Shine entitled "Dragonfly" is currently making a large impact on radio across the country. Shaman's Harvest is comprised of Josh Hamler, guitarist, vocalist Nathan Hunt, guitarist Ryan Tomlinson, bassist Matt Fisher and drummer Craig Wingate.
We caught the band’s set at ROTR and it was one of the standout performances of the weekend. The crowd was packed at the Kicker Stage to see them and sang along to all their hits.
I spoke with the newest member of the band Ryan backstage after their set.
Ryan: That’s right I am pretty new to the band. I just get told when to get in the van.
CB: Is there any new guy hazing?
Ryan: They have been together 12 years. I joined the band a year ago. I actually turned 21 three months after I joined the band and I pretty much don’t remember much of this year, but I know it has been fun.
CB: What is your craziest tour story?
Ryan: A recent one, we were just in North Carolina and the Jagermeister was flowing freely. Apparently there are alligators in NC. Behind the bar we were playing, there is allegedly an alligator in a stream so with a little liquid courage, our lead singer decided to take a swim. He didn’t get bit and he made it out alive. Everything ended up ok, but it was crazy. The guys from Adelitas swore they saw it during the day.
CB: Back to the hazing, what is the worst thing they have done to you in the van?
Ryan: The van is a nasty place. I haven’t got hazed too much. I never get to drive. I like to drink and we all like to drink, so we get along fine.
CB: How did you meet them?
Ryan: In our hometown in Jefferson City. It is a pretty small town. I grew up playing the bass and blues. I made a pretty good name for myself. When I was 8 years old, they were just starting Shaman’s Harvest and I knew Josh through a friend. I didn’t even play guitar when they started. When they had a guitar opening they called me and I auditioned and made it in the band. I am loving it. It is kind of like “Rockstar” the movie.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Ryan: I worked for a cabinet shop for awhile and liked it. I would probably still be making cabinets for minimum wage.
CB: How has your life changed since you joined the band?
Ryan: Less money and being gone constantly. I have always been a homebody so now I am all over the country. It has been weird but fun.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Ryan: My family. I miss my family a lot because we are gone all the time. We are very close and every time I talk to my family we tell each other we love each other and the guys give me crap about it all the time.
Halestorm is a Hard Rock band from Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The group is currently signed with Atlantic Records. Halestorm has been actively writing and performing original music since 1998, when brother and sister, Arejay and Lzzy, were, respectively, 10 and 13 years old. Their debut album was released on April 28, 2009. The song "I Get Off" serves as the album's lead single and has gained heavy radio play. Their newest single is "It's Not You" and the music video for the song was released in late November 2009.
We caught the band’s entire set at Rock on the Range and they quickly won us over with Lzzy Hale, the ultimate rocker chick leading the way. I sat down for a quick interview with Arejay backstage before their set to talk about their current tour.
CB: Is this your first time at Rock on the Range?
Arejay: No, we were here last year and played the Jagermeister stage. This year we are on the Kicker Stage so we are working our way up the ladder. Maybe the next time we will get the main stage.
CB: When you are out on tour what do you miss the most about home?
Arejay: The funny thing about this band is that my sister is the lead singer Lzzy. Our parents tour with us. My Mom is our tour manager and our Dad is the bus driver/stage tech. We bring home on the road. The cool thing is that our home is our RV. When we go home to Pennsylvania, we actually sit in the RV and hang out because our house feels weird and like a hotel.
CB: What would be your dream collaboration?
Arejay: We just got to hang out with Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains is one of my favorite bands of all time. Another one would be Stone Temple Pilots. I also recently got to co-write with Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I met him and we became fast friends. We will be touring with them in the fall and it is going to be awesome.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Arejay: Thank you guys for letting us do what we do. We’ve had so many great times. We willl be in Dayton at McGuffy’s House of Rock in July, so come and check it out. Everyone in Cincinnati is always receptive and keeps coming out to our shows and we appreciate it so much. You guys are out of your minds. Keep Reading CityBeat!
CB: If you could get a song on Rockband or Guitar Hero, what would it be?
Arejay: “Dirty Work.” It is a rocker and everyone starts jumping in the crowd when we play it. You can play Tap Tap or Dance Dance Revolution with it as well. I would pick that one.
Airbourne is an Australian Hard Rock band originating from Warrnambool, Victoria, where they gained a steady following with their hard rock sound. A big part of Airbourne's growing success is the exposure they have gained in other media - most notably, video games. The band consists of Joel O'Keeffe - Lead vocals/Lead guitar, Ryan O'Keeffe –Drums, David Roads - Rhythm guitar,Backup vocals and Justin Street - Bass guitar. The band’s new album, No Guts, No Glory, was released in March 2010.
At Rock on the Range, this band would get the award for most onstage energy. Their lead singer surfed through the crowd while playing the guitar and actually kept playing while being lifted onto a roadie’s shoulders. It was insane and got the crowd excited to see what they would do next.
I sat down with Dave Roads at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s upcoming tours and their recent success.
CB: What was the reason behind the title No Guts, No Glory?
Dave: No Guts, No Glory was a title we always liked because it has a good ring to it. We felt it was good for the second album.
CB: You were just in Nashville. What was your favorite experience about playing there?
Dave: That day we were in Nashville, our bus driver took us to his father’s ranch in TN. He got out his shotguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons and we had a day of shooting which was really fun. I always love going to Nashville to play with the crowds there.
CB: What is your scariest tour memory?
Dave: Sometimes it can get a little bit hairy on the road at night time. Some of the roads can be dodgy while we are sleeping and can wake you up and scare you a bit.
CB: Who would be your personal dream to collaborate with?
Dave: Certain producers like Bob Rock would be great. We nearly worked with him on the second album but it fell through.
CB: How did you get hooked up with the video game industry?
Dave: Steve, who we have a good relationship with at EA games, discovered us as the music coordinator there. He was a fan of the band and really got us started. We are on Madden, the best selling game in the states, and about 10 or 11 other games. It is great for establishing the name Airbourne out there. I don’t play Guitar Hero. I think that if you play real guitar, you are not coordinated enough. The games are a great way to get young kids to hear our music and support rock-n-roll.
CB: I was talking to your tour manager about your energy and I was telling him that I was amazed that you guys did not pass out on stage in the heat. He said you guys are from Australia and that you are used to being hot. Is that true?
Dave: I don’t think you can ever be used to the heat. At home in Australia, we usually go inside an air conditioned pub and have a cold beer. We actually have had a lot of close encounters to passing out on the stage. It is mainly from being too hung over, dehydrated and rocking out. It can be dangerous.
CB: What is next for the band?
Dave: After this we are going back to the bus to have a cold beer. This month we are finishing touring with Bullet for my Valentine. We then head to the UK for the summer festivals. In August, we tour Canada and then we jump on the Uproar festival in the Fall back in the US.
CB: What are your favorite venues to play in the US?
Dave: I like the Fillmore venues. We played it in San Francisco and we are playing in Detroit soon. I am pretty diplomatic and like it all.
Puddle of Mudd is a rock band from Kansas City, Missouri. They achieved success on rock radio and some success in the mainstream, and their major-label debut Come Clean has sold over 5 million copies. To date the band has sold over 7 million albums, and have had a string of #1 mainstream rock singles in the United States. They have released 2 independent and 4 major albums, with their latest being Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate in December 2009.
I caught up with Paul Phillips, guitarist for the band, the week after Rock on the Range to discuss what is up next for the band.
CB: Did you have any crazy Rock on the Range stories from last week?
Paul: No not really. It was actually pretty tame. It was pretty much a regular show and uneventful.
CB: What is your craziest tour story ever?
Paul: We used to play London and for some strange reason Mr. Jimmy Page would always come out and stand on my side of the stage which was really weird. It was pretty heavy to look over and see him standing on the side and hanging out with us in the dressing room. I don’t know how it all happened and the first time he came out I had to leave the room. I couldn’t handle it. It was too intense.
CB: Did he ever play with you?
Paul: No he never played with us. I never asked and I couldn’t even talk to him because it was so crazy.
CB: You left the band for awhile and came back last year after a break. How has it been since you got back? Was it just like the old days?
Paul: It has been great and easy. A week after I came back we had our first show. It was a great show. We went back into writing and recording. Every one was getting along and the vibe was much better. The record was the easiest and the least stressful one that we have done. It was right back to the old days.
CB: You had a new record that came out last year. I know the title changed several times. Where did the name Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate come from?
Paul: We were sitting around on a day off and management was on the phone and said that we had to come up with a title now or the record wouldn’t come out. I knew that I wanted to do something with Love and Hate. They are two of the most powerful words in the English language. I think that in order to have one, you have to have the other even though they are opposite. Then "Volume 4" came because it was our fourth record. It really came together last minute.
CB: You had a connection to Fred Durst and he is the one who hooked you up with the band. Can you tell me the story of how that happened? Did you reconnect with him at Rock on the Range?
Paul: I am from Jacksonville, Florida as is Limp Bizkit and we used to play together at local clubs. When Limp Bizkit got signed, Fred actually came to me to sign my band at the time but it was dissolving. We kept in touch. When this opportunity came up he remembered me and flew me out to LA and I auditioned. I have been here ever since. We didn’t see him at Rock on the Range because we had to leave after our set on Saturday for a two day drive, but we played a show in Tampa a few weeks ago and I saw him there. He had a big family day since he is from Florida so we only talked for a little while. We had lost touch for awhile and it was good to catch up and see him again.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss most about home?
Paul: You miss friends and family. I miss my little doggy. You miss the comforts of home. I get into a routine that I cannot find on the road with different restaurants, different hotels every day. I miss the stability of being at home.
CB: Do you still live in Florida?
Paul: Yes, I still live in Jacksonville.
CB: One of my all time favorite POM songs is “She Hates Me.” Can you tell me the back-story?
Paul: The funny thing was when we were making our first record we used to play it. It was something that Wes came up with that we played at parties as a joke to make people laugh. We were playing it at the studio one day and our A&R guy said you have to put that on the record. We were like “No way!” I said, “I’ll agree to put it on the record as long as it is never a single.” Then it is was single and a hit that helped us sell millions of records. That shows what I know. I would have never had it on the record. I guess that is why I am a musician and not an A&R guy.
CB: I thought there may be a crazy girlfriend story there?
Paul: It was written as a joke. Obviously having love not returned your way. Pretty literal song I guess.
CB: Have you ever had any boyfriend or husband issues coming at you out on the road?
Paul: Yes and no. We are kind of setup with the proper security for those things. Sometimes people are crazy. They forget that they have husbands or boyfriends in the audience and they come and hang out backstage. We get word that a husband or boyfriend is looking for them. It is kind of weird and I always feel bad for the guy. I am like, “What is wrong with you?” People get crazy and lose their minds around rock bands. I don’t understand it. People are just people and it is not worth giving up your husband and boyfriend and doing something extremely crazy.
We all have girlfriends and wives now so our bus is pretty tame compared to the old days. We have to lock the doors on the bus because people will just walk onto the bus. They are crazy and just have to see inside. They don’t understand it is our home and you wouldn’t walk in someone’s house.
CB: What is up next for the band?
Paul: We have three weeks off coming up soon and I am excited about that. We’ve been touring and had only 3 days off the past 3 months. July 16th, we go on the Carnival of Madness tour with Shinedown, Sevendust and Chevelle. We will probably spend the remainder of year touring and then start working on the new record next year.
At the City & Colour concert at Bogart's a while back, I watched as a woman in the front row texted her way through both of the great opening acts. I glanced around and discovered that she wasn’t the only one. I figured everyone would surely stop when Dallas Green and the rest of C&C took to the stage. Three songs in and the crowd was still lit up by glowing phones.
Everywhere I looked people were texting, tweeting, facebooking or recording the night away. Often, both members of a couple would be recording the same song. As if the iPhone 12 inches to the left might just capture something different from theirs. I watched as a group of friends passed around a cell phone with a message from another friend who, I assume, wasn’t present (or maybe they were just three feet over). Meanwhile, the band played on.
This left me disappointed in humanity.
The Doobie Brothers have been entertaining audiences across the world for more than 40 years. In 2010 the band released World Gone Crazy, their first album in a decade. They continue to be an inspiration with their recordings and their rigorous tour schedule.
CityBeat caught up with guitarist and vocalist Tom Johnston by phone this week. Johnston discussed the changes the band has seen through 40 years of Rock n Roll and what guides the creative process of the band. They will be performing at Riverbend at the PNC Pavilion this Sunday alongside Chicago.
CityBeat: You guys have been touring on the road for over 30 years. Do you ever get tired of just being on the road?
Tom Johnston: You get tired of travelling. You don’t ever get tired of playing. The playing part is what makes you come out here in the first place. I think Keith put it the best, Keith Knudsen, “You get paid for all the time it takes to get to the town and then you play for nothing.”
CB: You have seen music change over the years in recordings from albums to 8-Tracks to tapes to CDs to MP3s and iPods. Do you think it sounds better or worse today, the classic analog vs. digital question?
TJ: If you have hearing like mine, it really doesn’t make any difference. There is basically the school of thought that digital recordings aren’t as warm as analog. I can’t really tell you the difference when I am listening to it. Maybe if I did a mix there would maybe be a difference in analog that I could tell the difference. They have really come a long way with digital recording. They have ways of mixing digital recordings now so it sounds more like analog. Some people still buy albums if you can get them. People are still putting albums out. In fact, this last album we put out, World Gone Crazy, there was over 14,000 actual albums put out with the CDs, and by that I mean actual vinyl records for the people that want to hear it in analog.
CB: How many guitars do you have and what is your favorite to play?
TJ: Oh boy. I’ve got a lot of guitars. Basically, everything I use on the road is PRS and that is what I play live. I use two basic guitars live that I trade off and I have a Martin acoustic that I play as well live. It is pretty much all about Paul Reed Smith right now. At home I have a Stratocaster and I have some older guitars I have had for a long time, an old Les Paul, an old 335, a couple Strats and a Telecaster. But live and when I am out on the road, it is strictly Paul Reed Smith.
CB: When you began and wrote the early hits and songs for the band like “Rockin’ Down the Highway”, what were your early inspirations?
TJ: My inspirations at the time of writing a song like that had pretty much been put in place from playing since I was 12 on the guitar and picking up singing when I was 15. Most of my early stuff came from Blues and R&B and Rock & Roll by the guy I consider the King of Rock & Roll, that was Little Richard and people like Jerry Lee Lewis. Later on, that changed, I got into Hendrix and Cream and quite a few other people I am not going to be able to think of right now. David Mason albums, old Fleetwood Mac albums, you know from the ’70s, just a lot of stuff going on then. As far as players, Albert, Freddie and B.B. King were huge in my guitar playing. I call them the Three Kings, that’s basically how a lot of people refer to them. There are a lot of singers that influenced me. James Brown was definitely one of them.
CB: Have you had a single issue or incident that has ever changed the way you approach music?
TJ: If I ever did, I am not really sure when it was. I know the first time I ever watched, one of the few times I actually got to watch, James Brown live was 1962 in Fresno and that was pretty much a life altering event, musically. I had never seen anything like that. It just blew me out of the water. I couldn’t believe someone could work that hard that consistently and put on just an incredible show. That was a big event in my life.
CB: Over the years, you have had some health ailments with your voice and other things. How do you stay healthy on the road now?
TJ: I take care of myself. Back in the old days it was the Rock & Roll lifestyle, that wasn’t really healthy. But the biggest sideline I ever had was stomach ulcers which I developed in high school but it fully bloomed when I was out on the road in 1975 when I actually had to leave the tour. That is really the only health issue I ever had, but it was a bad one.
CB: Do you consider yourself or does the band consider themselves spiritual in any way and did it ever play a factor in your music or writing?
TJ: To be honest with you, no — at least not in the secular way of any specific religion. It’s not that we are not a religious band, it is just everybody has their beliefs about the world and mankind and how we got here I suppose but it is certainly nothing we would talk about.
CB: After all these years, I assumed you guys would talk about everything.
TJ: We talk about a lot of stuff but that isn’t one that pops up. Actually it popped up this morning. I was just giving my views on Buddhism and thinking it was a little more realistic since it is based on mankind’s shallow man as opposed to strictly about a specific deity and things having to be done a certain way. But those are just opinions and I don’t really follow it that closely; I don’t think anybody in the band does, to be honest with you.
CB: Do you guys take on different leadership roles within the band?
TJ: Yeah, to a point. It is basically when we are recording. When we are playing, it kind of happens naturally. Recording it is pretty much whoever writes the tune will be leading if you will, but other people come up with ideas for the tune so it is pretty much always a group effort.
CB: Are there any current Rock bands or new Rock bands on the scene right now you would like to collaborate with or work with?
TJ: I think John Mayer is an incredible guitar player. I really enjoy his work. Another one is Bruno Mars — I think he is extremely prolific as a song writer and pretty amazing. There is a band called Mannish Boy, which is a Blues group. I really like those guys. They are new. Most people aren’t going to know them. They aren’t Pop or anything like that. They are simply a Blues band but they are really, really good. There are more, I just can’t think of them right now. There are more people I think are really good out there that would be fun to get in the studio with. It would be fun to work with Christina Aguilera or Cee Lo Green. It would be fun to work with anyone from Maroon 5. We recently worked with Luke Bryan for that TV show on CMT called Crossroads and we had a ball doing that.
CB: I love Luke Bryan and his music. He has kind of blown up recently.
TJ: He is a good guy. He is a really good guy. We had a lot of fun doing that show. Everybody was just having a lot of fun.
CB: Do you have any creative outlets or hobbies outside of playing music?
TJ: It’s outside of the band in a sense but I write music for a hobby. I love writing. I do it all the time. I have a little studio at home. A lot of the stuff I write would never be used by this band. I am starting to branch out and write with other people now too, which is something I haven’t done as much. I have always kind of just written my own songs. I have started taking the steps to go out and write with some other writers who are very prolific and very much involved with the Pop scene or the Country scene or whatever else. I just really started doing that before we came out on this tour. When we finish this tour this year, I will go back to doing that some more. It was fun. It was a new place to go. It is exciting to get in and work with someone else because they help you find a lot of stuff you don’t know you have and I think you do the same for that person. You come up with songs that you would never come up with if you were just sitting there by yourself.
CB: Do you use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to stay connected to your fans?
TJ: There is Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff on our website. I don’t do any of that stuff. For whatever reason it hasn’t called me. I don’t have any need to be in touch with people or stay in the limelight or find out what is going on. I am kind of a private guy and I would like to keep it that way rather than blast it all over the universe. I don’t belong to Facebook. I know tons of people who do it and that’s great. From a business point of view, it is a really smart way to go. From a website point of view, it is a really good tool for getting your music out there, events out there, where you are going to be, maybe even staying in touch with other musicians, things like that but mostly I do that on the phone. Twitter, I have never even used Twitter. I know people do it all the time but I have never gotten involved with it.
CB: I still use a telephone because I prefer to talk to people.
TJ: It is alive and well in the younger generation. That’s how they communicate.
CB: My last question is do you have any fond Cincinnati memories over the years?
TJ: Yeah, playing at Riverfront Stadium, playing at where we are going to be playing this Sunday which is right on the river, Riverbend. We have played there lots of times. I was just talking to a gentleman a little bit ago about playing in Blue Ash the last time and a tornado came through and shut the show down and we never got a chance to go out and finish it. We have been playing Cincinnati since we started so we are talking 40 years of playing Cincinnati.
CB: We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
TJ: Thank you very much. We are looking forward to being there and it will be a gas as always. This show with Chicago has pretty much been sold out everywhere we have gone. The crowds have been great and it is a good combination. The two bands, we get together at the end and do an encore of everybody in both bands playing at the same time and it is pretty powerful.
This year’s free agent market has been extremely slow in developing, and there are still big-name guys waiting to find out where they fit in. The opportunity is ripe for a team like the Reds, with a little cash to spend, to find a rare deal. But the Reds are a weird team right now, and it’s been difficult to figure out what would be a good move, even if it comes for less than market value.
Last night at Riverbend, I finished off some personal business for my 12-year-old self. I finally got to see Lita Ford sing “Kiss Me Deadly” live on stage, hear Poison play “Nothing But a Good Time” and catch Def Leppard perform “Pour Some Sugar on Me," live and in person, all on one hot evening by the river.
My parents believed that I was not old enough back in 1987 to make all of these dreams come true, but now my older self is able to make these types of things happen.
Def Leppard has been entertaining international audiences with their strong British sound for the better part of 30 years. They have provided American audiences with Rock anthems that have fired up arenas, like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Animal.” Over the years they have put out 12 albums, including their latest offering from last year Mirrorball: Live and More. The band is among the upper echelon of Rock acts that found success, continuity and growing support through the eras of fans.
CityBeat caught up with guitarist Phil Collen to discuss the band’s continued success before the Riverbend show last night. We discussed why the band is still able to keep it up after so long and what inspires him personally in his musical voyage.
CityBeat: What do you think the secret to the band’s longevity is? I just read this morning that Van Halen just cancelled the rest of their tour. Why have you guys been able to stay together for so long?
Phil Collen: I think our motivation is very different from Van Halen’s. They broke up a while ago. They actually didn’t get off. We’ve actually experienced super-super highs, diamond albums, multi-platinum sell-out tours and all that with really bad lows, like Steve dying and Rick losing his arm.
I think we have been together more consistently than most families. We leave home for 18 months. I have been in the band for 30 years. It’s just that (it) really makes a difference if you can relate to each other on very much a personal level. You have almost a private little clique, an elite club only you can relate to.
I tell you, we have always been good. We have never gone away. We have never split up. We have never done reunions and I think that is the trick. If you have to do a reunion, I always ask “Why did you split up in the first place?” I think we still have got more to prove. We still have songs to write, great albums to make. It’s a whole new day, a whole new digital age, everything is changing, whole new sets of fans. It never really stops. There is always ambition there, and there is always plenty of stuff to do. If you really want to share your work, that’s one of the first things you do in the first place. You get to express your art, it’s an artistic release and the other thing is you actually share it with other people. We are still doing that.
CB: I know you guys have been talking about writing and wanting to release new music. What is the band's writing process?
PC: It is more difficult than it used to be. I think we have gone through every different variation. We have gone through a time when one person writes the song, one person comes up with an idea and someone finishes it off or someone has an idea or we just play on each other’s songs. That’s what Queen ended up doing.
We have done every different variation of that. The best stuff I think we have done was when Mutt Lange was involved and just the way he approached it. He had a lot more experience than us and just brought a whole bunch of things to the table. Again, it is very different, there are a couple things I am putting together that are almost finished and then I usually play them for someone else in the band and put together an idea for them and we just take it from there. That’s really how it works. It’s not rocket science and every song starts in a different way.
I think the most inspiring song is when you have a title and that’s all you got and the rest kind of writes itself around it. I have another band Man Raze and same deal with that. We actually wrote a couple songs for a movie that was The Showdown, which was about superbikes racing. Once I had the whole story I came up with the idea, “Take on the World” — it was racing and stuff, and the song wrote itself.
So it is very inspiring to start with a title or at least an idea and then you just color in by numbers almost. It can come from a million different places and that is one of the wonderful things about being an artist really.
CB: Do you have any regrets over the years?
PC: There are loads of things that we’d do differently obviously. That is the whole plan. You experience stuff and you don’t make the same mistakes again, hopefully, whether it’s driving, old relationships or whatever. You are always on this learning curve which is a different level than the past.
Yeah, you know, not really — (I don't have any) regrets, not even slightly. I love where I am right now and that is the happiest person in the world. I am having a great time. It’s really cool. None at all really.
CB: What is your craziest fan story over the years?
PC: There have been a bunch of crazy fan stories. I have always found the weirdest ones are when people get my face tattooed on their body. I remember the first time this happened years ago, this Italian girl said, “I’m going to get you tattooed on me.” I said, “No, no, no, no, have you told your parents?” And she said, “No, but they’ll be OK.” She got this tattoo done and over the years we have now seen this millions of times, you know, people show their tattoos of our likeness or face on their arm or back or wherever it is. I always try to discourage it because it is a tattoo. I have one tattoo and it is my wife’s name and she has my name tattooed on her and that’s it. I was 52 when I got that.
CB: When you've written songs in the past over the years, did you guys know when you had a hit on your hands?
PC: Some of them, but other songs you think you have a hit and they disappear. You can never really tell. It depends on the environment of the moment. Back then it would be radio. Right now, everything is about celebrity and fame and TV. It is a different one to judge. It is about getting out there. If you get something in a movie, it has more of a chance than something played on the radio. It has changed a lot. The more the music business has turned more into an industry than art, it becomes more difficult to predict (which songs will catch on).
CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?
PC: I couldn’t put it down for one. There are a few — and it is obviously my opinion — that (have) really inspired me. A few by David Bowie. There are a few Hendrix ones — “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. There is a great guitar solo on a song “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur, a song from the ’70s (that) took me ages to figure out, then I realized there were more than one guitar doing it. There are millions of them that really inspire. I could go on all day but (there's) not one in any particular — all of those.
CB: Any current music you are listening to that you find inspiring?
PC: Yeah, my favorite artist is Skrillex. I am really into dance and Techno music, love it, Dubstep especially. I just think what Skrillex is doing sounds like Heavy Metal without guitars and Hip Hop without words. That’s what I get out of it. It is just very different. It is very pure. I love it.
(I listen to) just different things; I listen to everything. I listen to Jazz or Blues, Hip Hop, Metal, Rock, whatever Pop song, right across the board. It’s all amazing and stuff to draw on really.
It’s funny that The Fray are called what they’re called, because they hardly ever leave any loose threads or ragged edges — whether on their perfectly-produced, radio-friendly songs or live in concert. The piano rock band is so harmless and clean-cut that they probably couldn’t hurt a fly if their lives depended on it.
It’s no surprise, then, that their concert at PNC Pavilion Monday night, opened by Richard Swift and alt-rock band Jack’s Mannequin, felt like a quintessentially American outdoor summer party: laid-back, pleasant and totally innocuous.