Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Paul Lewis

Imagine not being able to do the things you enjoy most. Hiking, biking, yoga and/or climbing are endeavors you no longer are able to participate in. Of course, one mustn't forget the saying, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Paul Lewis is a testament to strong will, determination, and the love and support of friends. His second solo release, Trading Horror Stories, on Realize Records, chronicles much of what he endured over the last several years. In fact, the CD recently garnered six first round Grammy nominations for the Recording Academy's Grammy Awards. Lewis is being considered in the categories of Album of the Year, Song of the Year for "Sometimes," Best New Artist, Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for "Original Sin" and "Teardrop," and Best Recording Packaging.

Considering what Paul Lewis has has to endure and how he has come out of it, this coud nothave happened to a more deserving person. Find out more abut Paul Lewis in this interview conducting a few weeks ago.

Considering all you went through in the years prior to putting Trading Horror Stories on a tape, do you believe it is luck and good fortune or fate that you are where you are today?

Maybe all the above. Thanks to my wonderful wife, my daughter and my close friends, I was able to "pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again!" I am a stronger person because of all of this.

A person in your situation could go one of several ways: depression, blessed, etc. What kept you going throughout that three year period?

I believe it is attributed to perseverance. Plain and simple, although it was the toughest time in my life. I mean, I had a drummer and compadre of 10+ years die suddenly while I was in the process of making this record. I wanted him on the new record, but it did not turn out that way. Just two months after that a close friend was diagnosed with cancer. 47 days later he died. I was there in the hospital when his vitals dropped off the map. Just when you thought it could get no worse, a kid who had been drinking ran a red light and T-boned me. Put me in the hospital and I was unable to play for the first time in my life. Very disheartening to say the least. I was a mess. I was on major pain medication and was feeling worthless. I have a wife and a child and was unable to support them ,or at least that's how I felt. The recording was halted for a indefinite period of time. I lost gigs. I was feeling very sorry for myself.

Did you, at any time, truly feel you would never record again? Describe that feeling or explain why you didn't feel that way.

No, I never felt I was never going to do this again. Instead, I felt, at one point, how could I possible take any more? Like I said, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and wasn't seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Then just as all of this devastated my life I woke up and pushed myself to continue on with a little help from the special people in my life.

I was born and raised in NY. After 27 years, I found I had to get out. You, on the other hand, felt the need/urge to return. What is the lure of the east coast?

Oh, I get the "had to get out" comment for sure. I felt like I was spinning my wheels. My own father said "Your going nowhere fast. Get out and go learn something," and so I did. I learned more in seven years in Los Angeles than I did the nine years prior when I was touring the east coast and recording with a very successful act (Y-NOT). After recording my first solo record (Get On With It), I wanted to record on the east coast for my second solo endeavor, and I wanted all the guys from my past to be on this record. I also had come to a realization about my life and I wanted to have some stability, i.e., own a house, life insurance, health insurance, watch my daughter grow into a woman, take care of my family, etc.. This would be more possible back east than it would in LA. For one, my daughter lives with her mother (my ex-wife) on the east coast and my family, as well as my wife's family, are from here. I think 9/11 had somewhat of an impact on all of this as well. What I mean by that is life is short and you never know when your time is up!

I understand that this is generally a difficult question for a songwriter, but are there one or two tracks on Trading Horror Stories that tug at your heart strings? Explain why?

This entire record was the most emotional recording experience to date. Two tracks in particular would have to be "Sometimes" & "Hailey Rose." "Sometimes" deals with passion; an overwhelming passion that rules your life. This song is obviously about my wife, Michelle, and I. I feel even more love and passion for her this very moment than I did when we met and I never thought that was possible. "Hailey Rose" was written about a little girl that almost wasn't. Her parents are friends of ours and they found out early in the pregnancy that she was going to have Downs Syndrome. They knew early enough to not have the child and decide to have her. I told them I would write a song for her. The song was written from a father-daughter perspective. I thought this out and what better way to achieve it's full meaning than to have a father and daughter sing it. It was an incredible experience. It was my daughter's first studio recording experience. She was 11 years old. She had been in a studio with me before, but this time she was singing, and she was singing a duet with her daddy. I was so proud of her that day and the recording speaks for itself.

I get the impression that you have seen and done more than the average bear. What goals are there left to accomplish?

Oh, have I! You are right though I am far from doing what I want to do. I want to be a successful producer. Realize Records and I are about to release a tribute to The Police titled SOS - A Tribute to the Police to raise money and awareness for cancer research. I am producing the record. I had the fortune to work with many different acts from many genres, from Jazz to Techno, Funk, Blues, Hard Rock, etc. It has been a long process, but when everyone hears the record it will be worth it. I would like to tour the world. It's a big beautiful and, sometimes, scary place and I want to see it all, and I want the world to hear what I've got to say. To be honest though, if my life was to end tomorrow I would feel I have done some great things career wise and personally with it. I have made seven great recordings, all of which I am proud of, and my wife and my daughter are so special to me and I could not ask for more.

You were recently nominated for six Grammy Awards. Congratulations!

Yeah, WOW! That was crazy! I thought everyone was making this up! There is no way I made the "any" list for the Grammy's. Then I saw the actual entry list and sure enough I did make it. It's crazy! I knew that the record company had sent it out, but I never thought I'd make it pass the first 150 judges in L.A.. To be acknowledged by the panel was one of the greatest career moments of my life so far.

Tell me about your band. I sense you are someone who is very loyal what with three members of a former band playing with you now. True? Also, Matthew Porcaro? Any relation to either Porcaro brother (Toto)? I know Jeff had three sons and a nephew who all played drums.

Yes, I am a very loyal person. Playing with these guys again has been something I can't even begin to express how it makes me feel. I never thought we would be coming full circle like this. I thought it only happened in books and movies. I am truly blessed. This line up is so incredibly strong. I feel relaxed and very comfortable on stage, and that allows me to perform and play to my fullest ability. They make me a better musician and that is all I can ask for.

As far as Matthew Porcaro...it's funny you mention this. He uses that to help people spell his name correctly, but he swears he is not related. He could not be telling the truth ya know, but I guess we will never know. LOL!

Is this the beginning, or the end, of a chapter?

This is just the beginning for me and for the record company. Oh...Yeah!!!!...and I have some interest from an agency that can put me in front of the right people and in the right venues, so it's just the beginning for me. I am just getting started!!!!

Visit Paul Lewis' website by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

News From The Great Beyond

Doubling Cube Records, the home of Robbers on High Street and I Am The World Trade Center, will be releasing the debut full-length disc, entitled Fantastic Success, from NYC's Measles Mumps Rubella on February 21, 2006. Recorded and mixed by Jonathan Kreinik (Apes, Hot Snakes, Trans Am) at Trans Am’s National Recording Studios, Fantastic Success features the first recordings with Chuck Bettis on vocals.

Gossip is a punk band from Portland, OR with a hip danceable sound. After recruiting a new drummer (Hannah, a.k.a. "Stangela Handsbury," from Shoplifting), suffering through a lost tooth and a lost gall bladder, Gossip has completed their forthcoming release entitled Standing in the Way of Control. The CD will be released on January 24th on the Kill Rock Stars label. The band also released their first dance 12", backed with a Le Tigre remix and art by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame! This disc is also available on the KRS imprint. Gossip will be touring the states in January before venturing to Australia in support of Pretty Girls Make Graves.

The Hot Topic Presents The Sub City Take Action! Tour 2006 will begin March 1, 2006. Hopeless/Sub City Records acts Amber Pacific, Paramore, I Am Ghost, and Hit The Lights join Silverstein, The Early November, and headliner Matchbook Romance for the nationwide tour. Take Action! raises funds and awareness for The Kristin Brooks Hope Center to prevent teen suicide. The Take Action! Compilation Volume 5 will be available February 21, 2006. The CD contains 45 tracks on two discs, including Underoath, Hawthorne Heights, Sugarcult, Panic! At The Disco, Amber Pacific, Against Me!, As I Lay Dying, and many more. www.takeactiontour.com

Hopeless Records continues to stay busy with the announcement of the signing of New Jersey natives Royden. The five-piece band draws on many influences, most notably Life, Injury, Post-Punk, and Metal, as well as from bands like At The Drive In, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Talking Heads. Royden is currently writing and preparing to record their upcoming Hopeless Records debut to be released in summer of 2006.

Also, Hopeless has announced the track listing for the Ever We Fall upcoming album We Are But Human, which will be available on February 21, 2006. It will be:
1. Youth Like Tigers
2. Late Night Dance Party
3. School Yard Crush
4. No Sleep For Dreaming
5. Bring Em’ In Billy
6. G
7. State Bird The Mosquito
8. No Words To Describe
9. Great Day For An Air Strike
10. Evacuate!
11. My Dog The Senator
12. Welcome To Floston Paradise

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Alligator Records Signs Lee Rocker

NEW CD DUE IN JANUARY, 2006

Alligator Records has signed bassist/vocalist/songwriter (and ex-Stray Cat) Lee Rocker. His roots-rocking Alligator debut, Racin’ The Devil, will be released on January 31, 2006, followed by a major national tour.

Rocker, with The Stray Cats, helped reintroduce rockabilly to a mass audience. Now he’s igniting the roots music fire. The new CD is a solid slice of Americana, filled with powerful, original songs and amazing musicianship. And when the band performs live, they leave audiences begging for more.

According to Alligator Records president, Bruce Iglauer, the signing is a perfect fit and an excellent direction for the label.

“Alligator has devoted itself to deeply rooted, unpretentious American music that tells down to earth, emotional stories of real life. “Racin’ The Devil” is full of terrific songwriting, great playing and super-energized performances. Anyone who loves raw, rocking music, be it blues, rockabilly, or straight ahead rock 'n' roll has got to love this album.”

And Rocker couldn’t agree more. “For me, getting to work with Alligator Records is just fantastic. Alligator has always been THE label for honest, real, American music. It’s a natural fit. I’ve always been a renegade with my music, from The Stray Cats to my solo records, I’ve always done my own thing, and so has Alligator.”

Rocker's band includes guitarists Brophy Dale and Buzz Campbell, and drummer Jimmy Sage. The CD features twelve songs of scorching rockabilly, roadhouse romps and straight-ahead, old-school rock ‘n’ roll, highlighted by nine originals that are by far the strongest of his career. And his reinventions of The Stray Cats mega-hit “Rock This Town” and his first post-Cats band Phantom, Rocker & Slick’s “Running From The Hounds” are foot-stomping and ecstatic statements of pure joy.

“This is the best record I’ve ever made,” says Rocker. “I worked harder on this record than any other I have done. I took my time with it and squeezed and twisted all I could out of the band and myself. There were days of wanting to give up and quit and other days I left the studio as happy as a kid. Now that I can sit back and just listen, I can say this is the record I’ve always wanted to make.”

Rocker’s solo career took off in 1994 with the release of Big Blue, and in 1995 with Atomic Boogie Hour, both on Black Top Records. Four more releases followed, including 2003's Bulletproof.

Rocker spent over a year making this record, more time than he’s ever devoted to any other album, and he couldn’t be prouder. “I like to do something different on each album I do,” he says, “and this is by far the most diverse CD I’ve ever done.”

A full tour calendar will bring Rocker’s high-energy live shows to fans across the country.

Lee Rocker's website: www.leerocker.com
Alligator Records

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

News From The Great Beyond

Bluesman Tom Hunter's third CD (first for FS Music), Here I Go Again, will be released January 31, 2006. The CD features two originals and 10 standards. Hunter, singer/songwriter/pianist, and his band cover the musical spectrum from slow jazz to raucous Chicago blues. Until recently, Tom was best known as the piano player for Bernard Allison, Bill Perry, Murali Coryell and Little Sammy Davis. Check out Tom Hunter at www.tomhunterblues.com & www.fsmusiclabel.com.

Wrath Records is releasing a few 7" discs sure to land in stockings this holiday season. First, Sarandon will release The Feminist Third, including the tracks "Don't Say No," "Prove It," and "Health." This pressing will be limited to 300 copies. No song is over a minute and a half long. The cover features a nice picture of a lady in a bra. Also released are two more disc in the Super Seven series. Number 11includess tracks by The Scaramanga Six ("I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve") and Me Against Them ("Bad Judgement"). Number 12 includes The Playmates, Instant Species, Farming Incident, and The Terminals.

Catfish Haven are currently putting the finishing touches on their Secretly Canadian debut CDEP entitled Please Come Back. The release will drop on January 24th, 2006.

Flameshovel Records will be releasing We, The Vehicles, the new album from Maritime, on April 4th. We, The Vehicles, the second album from the collective of Davey von Bohlen, Dan Didier and Eric Axelson, is a triumphant realization of Maritime's unlabored goal and an occasional turn toward the darker, denser corners of years past. Also from Flameshovel comes the second LP from Low Skies, All the Love I Could Find, on February 21st. This album is firmly rooted in gothic Americana, but with a contemporary aim that gives a sturdy pulse to the songs, which are intertwined creating an oddly cohesive personal study in loss, loneliness, and heartbreak.

Hydra Head Industries will release Cusp from Everlovely Lightningheart on January 24, 2006. The band/collaborative is described as "an entity capable of producing, perverting, destroying, distributing, stealing, and selling a vast and sprawling array of existing as well as currently unheard of forms of cultural products and concepts."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Scaramanga Six

They may remind you of the Addams Family, quirky yet playful, and, oh yeah, stubborn. But in a good sense. The Six have been at this for more than ten years, and not much has changed in that time.

"It's all down to what you class as achievement, says Paul Morricone, guitarist and one-half of the founding Morricone brothers. "Some bands think that they have to become a commercial success in order to achieve anything. That's why they chop and change their style and name in order to fit into what is current. Our motives are utterly different - every new recording, every gig and even every run through in a practice room gives us all a massive sense of achievement."

England's venerable Kerrang! Magazine once described the Scaramanga Six's music as "wilfull weirdness peppered with retro-riffing, parping saxophones and mad-genius keyboard special effects; B-movie chic combined with real musical muscle."

Along with brothers Paul and Steven, the current line-up includes Julia Arnez, Chris Catalyst, Anthony Sargeant, and Harry, the European Eagle Owl. The brothers Morricone also run Wrath Records on which they release the band's albums and singles.
Here now an interview conducted with Paul Morricone via email.

Which is harder: being a record label exec or playing in a band?

Definitely the record label side of things.

Why?

Creating and performing music is something that comes as second nature to us. It is what we were put here for. We revel being able to spew our noise into the ears of the unwitting audience - at every available opportunity. The music industry is different. Being devious, underhanded and conniving are not qualities that we are naturally gifted with. Some people have these skills though - they are called 'managers'.

Many times, one will find that a band's personality and sound reflect the personality and sound of the members. How is this manifested in S6?

The Scaramanga Six are an amalgum of each member's daily frustrations. Our music is full of violent twists and turns and extremes in dynamics as we thrash from rampant desperation to deep heartfelt joy in the space of a minute. The very same could be said for a typical day in my life - whilst sitting in a traffic jam I will trudge along in total despair then suddenly remember the power of our music and feel like taking off into the sky.

I've noticed a number of EPs and 7" singles and singles, in general. Is the point to simply put out music or is money the major factor behind your pattern of releases?

Could you describe 'random' as a pattern? I suppose 'sporadic' would be a better word. We release new records as, and when, we are good and ready to do so. If that means two albums in quick succession then so be it. The money side of things will take care of itself as long as we keep coming up with the goods and you all support us by buying.

I get the sense that each member would make a great superhero. What powers would each member, starting with yourself, possess? What would be your weakness?

I would have the power to walk unnoticed through people's houses so I could have a really good look at their decor. I'd also have the power to know in advance whether someone is going to have the common courtesy to thank me if I let them pull out in their car. I'm certain that Steve would, given the chance, develop an 'enemy incontinence ray' that renders all foes inconvenienced. Julia has often wanted the power to alter the terrible mindless r'n'b music that blares out of car speaker systems as people cruise along looking cool. Imagine how cool they looked if the music suddenly turned into 'Achy Breaky Heart' by Billy Ray Cyrus (that probably actually happens in the US though?). Chris is the only person in the band who has actual super powers - his instrument juggling ability is truly amazing and he can play the organ with his nose whilst beating out rhythms on the drums.

There has been a revolving door of members in the S6. How has that effected the sound over the years?

We've had to operate a revolving door policy as you just can't get the staff these days. Each member provides a slightly different musical slant which will always affect the overall sound. But that's the good bit - why would we not want to evolve. We'd die out if we didn't. I'd have to say though that everyone who has played in The Six have always given 100% - it's merely personal circumstance that has led people to move on. We're not ogres!

I imagine that having brothers in the same band can have its advantages and disadvantages. What are they for S6?

Well I suppose the greatest advantage of rocking with my sibling is that we are very strong allies - we are a united force. Having grown up together we naturally share many of the same tastes and have a common outlook on where we are going musically. There are no disadvantages for us at all - only for our adversaries. You mess with my brother and you'll get me on the case as well.

Are there plans to record in the near future? What will those recordings consist of?

We are already in the midst of recording our fourth album. We've got ten new tracks totally finished though they need mixing. But we don't want to stop there - we have a veritable plethora of new material just sitting there screaming out to be exorcised. This next album may well be a double album and it will be our best and most extravogant yet. Lots of people have advised us against doing a double album which is exactly why we will probably do it - and that's why we'll probably call it The Kiss Of Death.

http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/
Wrath Records