SCOTT PEREZ

1.0 – How did the recent recording session go for you guys?

The recent recording session is going super well. We’re in the studio with Andy Wambach up at Audio Impact Studios in Clearwater, Fl and he’s the most laid back engineer/producer we’ve worked with. Super awesome guy at everything he does. We’re almost done with everything this first session. Just gotta finish up vocals and bass then prepare for the next batch of songs we have. Things are lookin great.

2..0 – Will it be continuation of the direction on the debut The Wanderer EP or a new tack for the band?

A lot different from our last recored which is great – its definitely a new track. We’re kinda doin away with the rockabilly/country feel and goin for a darker, more raw, rock n roll sound. I feel its more us in a sense and being true to our music is number 1 on our list so we’re super excited to show everyone.

3.0 – How did the you come together? 

We got together from a disbanding of a previous project 3 of us were in. I was doing The Wanderer as a solo project on the side with my brother Chris Perez at drums and then Ricky Stephens and Ryan Kersey showed interest in making this a full time gig so we started playing shows together and it took off from there. It was kinda fate in a way because we’d all been friends for a while and in seperate projects and this band was what ultimately brought together and its stuck for a while.

4.0 – Putting you on the spot: what’s the best thing about being a ‘Wanderer’?

Haha…the best thing about being a Wanderer is definitely feeling a chemistry when we all get together and write music. There’s definitely an energy in the room when things click between us. Almost like a freight train haha. Once we start, there’s no stopping us. Ideas just flow.

5. Was there a guitarist that got you hooked initially on the idea of playing music?

Oh man! Most definitley. For me U2’s guitarist, The Edge, hooked me from a very young age. My guitar playing definitely takes heavy influence from him. Just his sound and the choices he makes not to stand out to much but more so fill out a song and really bring it the depth and atmosphere that U2 songs have really inspires me.

6.0 – When did you start writing? 

I started writing at a very young age. I think I was about 8 or 9 when I wrote my first song. I remember sitting in my moms bedroom with my brand new Fender Strat Squier that my dad bought me and I pumped this song out called “Graceland”. It was definitely a post-punk kinda song that I wrote after watching U2’s Rattle And Hum movie. It was named after Elvis’ home where they (U2) had visited and I remember pausing it and writing this song. It was cheesy as all get-out though haha.

THE WANDERER

It definitely depends. Usually it starts with either Ricky (our guitar player) or I comin up with a riff and just building from there. There have been times where it started with a title like “The Awakening” off of our last ep so it really depends on who brings what to the table first.

8.0 – When / how did you find out you could sing?

I wouldn’t call it singing really, just yelling really loudly in a melodic fashion haha. But the first time I remember being able to sing was when I was in first grade. My music teacher at the time heard me singing to some music video we were watching and she pulled me to the side and asked me to sing some lines from “The Little Drummer Boy” and next thing I knew, I was singing it in front of people at my schools Christmas play. So I guess you could say that was my first recollection of being able to sing.

9.0 – Do lyrics come easy to you or do they come together over time for a given song?  

Like with riffs, it depends. Lyrics usually come pretty easily to me but then again sometimes I find it hard but it always comes through in the end once I put all my ideas together and piece it out. I usually find myself writing lyrics first and fitting them in.

10.0 – You are sleep walking in a dreamscape and wander on stage in your pajamas to join what band on what encore? 

Oh man! That’s an easy one for me haha. I would wander on stage and join Bono and the rest of U2 for one of my favorite songs, “Love is Blindness”. Hands down. Now it’d be a little weird to be in my pajamas but, hey, I’ll get over it pretty quickly haha.

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TIM SHEFFSTALL

1.0 – What was your favorite musical artist or band growing up and what was the first tune that really clicked with you as a kid?

The music that I started with my grandparents and parents – listening to their music on the radio – Elvis Presley, Bread, America, Jim Croce.

2.0 – When did you decide to make a real go of it as a musician and what was your initial game plan if any back then?

In the beginning, when I was 15 years old, I started playing the drums because my father was a professional drummer and I had every instrument in my house. I loved experimenting with all the different instruments. 27 years ago, I played in 2 really awesome cover bands – Hung Jury and The Crave. And I really mastered my craft by playing other people’s music and thought it was time for me to write my own music, where I could say what I wanted to say and be what I wanted to be. And I am so thankful for the free lessons.

3.0 – How many records have you put out as COLD STATIC  and how do you feel the band & music evolved?

3 studio CDs and 1 live CD as Cold Static. It evolved from me writing my own life story and saying anything I want to say. And being myself and choosing my life for free.

4.0 – If you had to describe the band as a combination of main influences, who would they be?

I have absolutely never been influenced by anybody but, ut, I can tell you right now, my favorite bands today are: Godsmack, Disturbed, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Stone Sour, and Hell Yeah. And you will see a taste of all of those bands on the next CD that I am working on right now.

5.0 – How is the new record coming along and what can you tell us about it?

As I answered the last question, it’s gonna be a taste of the bands that I love, with a super twist of Cold Static.

6.0 – Do you put more pressure on yourself as a songwriter today than you did starting out, or is it easier now?

I am absolutely my worst critic. And my best song is gonna be the next one I write.

7.0 – How have you maintained an edge living ‘out of the way’ as it were on remote Anna Maria Island in Florida?

Because Anna Maria Island is my home, where I can be me. And my friends love me, but I love my fans too.

8.0 – Of all the COLD STATIC tracks you have released, which one has garnered the most attention, was it the song you expected?

“Bin Laden, We Will Get You” definitely has a place in my heart. Because we are Americans, and if you support terrorism, we will find you and you will pay. I never expected that song to have so much impact.

9.0 – How important is who you tour with, which was your favorite experience so far?

I love every single band I have toured with. Hands down, if you are playing music, I will be there to listen. Oh my God, that is a really hard question…..but, if I have to answer that, I love my hometown band, Neurotica, with lead singer, Kelly Sheaffer.

10.0 – You noted recently that bands “have to have the full package or forget it”….any practical advice for young artists with early signs of promise?

Yes, I believe you must have that total package – musicianship, looks, theatrics and performance – which all make for a great show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a hot girl on your side.

TRISTAN FORGUS

1. When did you start writing and what were your initial subjects? 

I started writing in notebooks when I was probably six or eight – it’s hard sometimes for me to discern reality from family myths. Anyway, by the time I was 10, reading and writing had become central to my daily life and very survival. My initial efforts, like now, involved trying to make sense of things and to savor the beauty of the world, the indifference, the chaos and drama. You know, pompous artsy whiny stuff (grin).

2. Who are your main literary influences? Do you emulate any of them? 

This is going to sound clichéd, but if I were to be stranded on a desert island and had only one author’s work, it would hands-down be Tolstoy. War and Peace and Anna Karenina are the best novels ever. By themselves they would be enough.

Another all-time favorite is JD Salinger; I have spent years reading and studying him. I also love Virginia Woolf; I treasure her prose, her lyrical and psychological depth. And Dostoevsky, Raymond Chandler, Adrienne Rich. The list goes on. In general, I love books, a lot of different kinds of books, and when I find ones I love, I carry them around for years and re-read them time and again.

Do I emulate my favorite authors? You bet I do – or at least I try to – just like guitarists and drummers and singers, I guess: borrow here, borrow there, add your own two cents.

3. OK, now you’ve done it – you are stranded on a desert island, one turntable, no booze, 5 albums….what are they? 

Ha, no booze, interesting! OK, I wish I could just have 5 mix tapes (REALLY, my musical tastes are MUCH broader than the question allows  (I’d like a Brandenburg Concerto, a piano piece by Keith Jarrett, blasts by Coltrane and Mingus and Monk, Satchmo’s It’s a Wonderful World, and the Exploited’s Sex and Violence)), but sticking to the spirit of your question, five albums as follows, followed by five back-ups in case of warping due to sun or saltwater:

First Five: The Clash’s The Clash (U.S. release w.  “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”), David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Leonard Cohen’s The Songs of Leonard Cohen, The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico, and Husker Du’s Zen Arcade

Back Up Five: The Replacement’s Let It Be, Tom Waites Nighthawks at the Diner, Bob Marley Legend, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1

4. What is the status of your long toiled-over life’s work, the semi-fictional “Vicious Circles”

It is virtually done, except for my final confession in the last chapter and the epilogue. Or maybe that’s a gross misstatement; maybe I should just say it’s what it is and I am virtually getting ready to slay the beast one final time. I am working on it part-time now but I think about it all the time and hope to deliver it in-full next year. So, yeah….it’s been sixteen or seventeen or eighteen years, depending on the math.

5. What is it about? 

It’s about a sixteen-year-old Sarah, a girl who ran away in 1977 from the suburbs to the city of Chicago. It’s a true story based on nearly 100 hours of tapes Sarah and I made together. She was of course, like virtually all runaways, exploited. It recounts her adventures and misadventures as a girlfriend, a professional escort, a wife, a mother. It’s drugs, sex, power, survival, Chicago, the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s, and it’s about running away and, then again, not running away.

6. You are also a chef celebrating the opening of your first restaurant, Fusion Cafe;  is the name autobiographical? 

Well, celebrating is not exactly the word for it, if you know the restaurant business. It’s more like trading in your life and working and worrying all the time, but luckily I love it.

I hadn’t realized it exactly until I thought about your question: yeah, I guess the name is autobiographical. Fusion, the melting pot, my African father, my English mother, my art, my science, my cooking, and on and on and on…. It’s almost like a guiding principle for me, now that I think about it. (see Tristan’s ‘Cafe 101’ cooking blog)

7. You’ve always been an avid indie music purveyor and dabbling songwriter, does music have a nexus with cooking? 

Yes, I think so, very much.  Think in terms of a production, the mix, the balance, the quality of performance, the quality of equipment, and of course the composition itself, the melodies and harmonies, the tempo and rhythms, and of course the lyric…. These all have almost direct analogies to a successful (or unsuccessful) dinner service.

8. What are you listening to these days? 

I’m listening to Pandora a lot these days. I had been listening a lot to internet radio on iTunes a lot for a couple of years really, especially Coyote Radio out of UCal.-SanBernadino and Boot-Liquor, a SomaFM alternative countryish station with a alcohol sub-theme. But ever since I started Pandora when I got my iPhone, I’ve been listening to a lot of Superchunk Radio and stuff like that.

 9. As a writer, do you have to stay busy at your craft to keep your chops up like a musician, or do you have to walk away from time to time to keep things fresh? 

Well, I’m probably the last person to give advice about writing habits, but I’d say both have their place. Like with everything of course: practice, practice, practice is the way to get better and to get things done. Writing though especially takes place not only in the act of writing but in the act of living too.

10. What takes more courage for you, actually writing or reading what you have written?  

Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t know, probably the writing; as much as I love it, I am very afraid quite often and really, you know, it can be hard and it can hurt. I love the quote from Hemingway: “There’s nothing to writing, just sit at the keyboard and bleed.”

In terms of reading, the hard part is getting past the understandable but unreasonable loyalty to what one has written – that is, to approach and see it objectively. to be able to critically assess its virtues and weaknesses and to have the courage to re-write.

VON CLOEDT

1.0 – What 3 albums would you say had the biggest impact on you as a kid – are they still essential to you?

Wow, I had to think really hard on this one.

I’m not so sure that I can narrow it down to 3 albums, as much as 3 songs. When I was a kid, around 9 or 10, listening to the radio wherever I was, I wasn’t so much interested in what album these songs were on, but rather what the SONG was, and maybe who sang it. I had an uncle who was in country music cover bands for a long time in my life, and he could do a killer Johnny Cash voice. But, at the time of being so young, and not caring about who Johnny Cash was, the lyrics of “Folsom Prison Blues” can stand out if you’re paying attention to them, and I remember thinking “dang, that’s messed up”. And only thinking back on that do I realize that that was when I started to actually care about music and see how cool and different it can be, because… well… they weren’t going to be playing that song on “The Muppet Show” anytime soon.

The second would be the first time I heard Nirvana, which was their MTV Unplugged session. They did this song called “The Man Who Sold The World” by this guy I didn’t know about named David Bowie. That was a two-for-one. Just like every kid in the mid 90’s wanting to be a musician, Kurt was that motivation, and it made me want to find out who the hell this David Bowie was. So, I started looking into more of the historical aspect of music/musicians.

And the third one, the one band that made me hunt for meaning BEHIND the lyrics is Pink Floyd. Besides the Johnny Cash tune and the fact that I heard a lot of country tunes from my Uncle’s cover band, The Silverwings Band, Americana wasn’t really apart of my early musical development, it was classic rock.

Are they still essential to me today? Absolutely, you can’t deny the classics.

2.0 – How does being a musician yourself impact your opinion on a disc received for consideration if at all?

I think the fact that I’m a musicians affects a lot of how I listen to an album. I listen for musicianship, lyrical quality, and mixing. If an artist/band is willing to record and send out this album, they better make sure that it’s the best that it can be, not just because they want to have something out there for someone to listen to. I don’t want to hear your basement tapes with the neighbors dog barking in the background.

3.0 – You recently celebrated a milestone with your 100th AmericanaRockMix.com podcast, what inspired you to start doing them in the first place and have you been surprised by its acceptance and growth online?

Being from St. Louis, I grew listening to mainstream radio and not knowing anything besides what the radio tells me to listen to. Then as I got older, I started finding other bands that I really liked, but weren’t getting any radio play. I come from the land of Wilco and Son Volt. They sell out shows in St. Louis, but do they get played on the radio on  a regular basis? No, because they don’t fit the popular radio format. And so, I started to question “if these bands are so good, why have I never heard them anywhere besides my friends’ CD players”. So I started doing this tiny little, extremely unprofessional, make-shift, blah blah blah, show to put on the internet in hopes that someone, somewhere would find it, and love these bands as much as I do. Without trying to sound like a martyr for the music, I really did start it for the love of the music.

The acceptance and growth aspect blow me away. I think I’m a little detached from the extent of how far around the world this show goes. I get e-mails from all around the world and it never ceases to amaze me. Is the show popular? I don’t know. I know that bands like the show, but do the individual music listeners? Once again, I don’t know. And I’m ok with that. I know how many downloads and listens each show gets per month, and it’s exciting to see the numbers go up each month. But then again, they’re just numbers. And I’m not completely sure how relevant that should be to me. Not to say that I don’t appreciate those who listen to the show, because I absolutely do. If it wasn’t for e-mails and facebook messages that I get from people telling me about how they have a new favorite band or just bought a new album online because of two songs that I played on the show, I probably would have gotten bored a long time ago. It just feels good to get some verification that I’m not doing this for no reason.

4.0 – Genre tags like ‘Americana’ can help an artist reach their audience but can also have a negative effect in the sense that they may limit an artists appeal, is the term Americana Rock intended to expand that scope? 

The tag “Americana” can really detract the casual listener from checking out a new band. There are stereotypes and stigmas that go along with the term which have gained attention due to the “redneck” movement in country music. But because of those limitations that can be applied to “Americana”, I needed to bypass that with something that people can relate to more, such as the hugely ambiguous term of “rock”. Plus it brings a format to the show. I don’t want to do a show of ballads, that’s going to put people to sleep. A lot of people listen to the show at work, or in the car, or while exercising. They need something that will catch their attention. But, yes it’s meant to expand the scope of the show without sounding overbearing. If I really wanted to expand the scope of the show, I could have named it The Americana Bluegrass Folk Alt. Country Cowpunk Rockabilly Extravaganza Rock Mix.

5.0 – One of the attractions to the home-spun podcast format must be being able to promote the artists you dig with no constraints, would you ever relinquish that to an extent for a larger audience on radio or Sirius? 

The fact that it’s a home-spun podcast with no limitations for the artists or myself is a strong fixture in the format of the show. If I gave up any of that for any reason, it would no longer be “The Americana Rock Mix”. It would just be another generic radio show. Not to say that I wouldn’t gladly do a SiriusXM or terrestrial radio show. But it wouldn’t be The Americana Rock Mix as it stands now. Maybe a variation of that.

6.0 – As with any media outlet, quality control is your calling card; what is your criteria for featuring an artist on ARM?

I really try to emphasize to people the “ROCK” aspect of the show. If it’s not up tempo or there’s no driving force in the song, it doesn’t stand a strong chance to making it onto the show. But not every song can be a rocker. It’s also got to be a song that will get caught in people’s heads. People like songs that have a catchy hooks. And, like I mentioned earlier, good audio quality is a must.

7.0 – You recently relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida, were you burned out on the St. Louis scene and what have you learned about the Fla. scene so far?

I grew up on the St. Louis music scene. And it was tough. There’s not a whole lot of support from people up there. And then when I moved down here to Florida, I realized how crappy the scene up in St. Louis really was. I just thought it was tough up there, I didn’t know it just flat-out sucked. The scene down here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is so supportive of their bands. And the support works both ways. The bands love to help out those who are will to help them out as well. There are organizations down here to help out the bands with shows and tours. I just wish there was someone, with enough heart, back in St. Louis to help them with that. They don’t know what their missing.

8.0 – Is there such a thing as ‘Midwesticana’?

I know that Uncle Tupelo kind of started the whole Alt. Country music scene back int the 90’s. And there have been a few bands to spawn from that, like The Bottle Rockets, Son Volt, etc. But if there is such a thing as “Midwesticana” then it starts and stops there with those bands.

9.0 – Any independent 2011 releases that you feel should be ‘must listens’ for major labels?

I don’t think that the major label is the way to go anymore. There are a few artists that have released some amazing records this year. And I wish them huge success, but I don’t know if I wish the for them to get affiliated with a major label. The major labels aren’t making the money anymore. It’s the DIY artists/bands. The ones that are really trying to get out there to get noticed and doing their own merchandizing are the ones who are going to be more successful, and won’t be trapped by the contracts of limitations of major labels. It used to be that the people within the major label organizations had the connections to people with more connections. But in the age of the internet, everyone knows everyone. The major label is an overrated middle man now.

10.0 – Are you at all surprised by the extent to which Americana music/artists are are featured in advertising today as a sort of ‘seal of brand sincerity’ and yet remains ignored by mainstream radio?

Yeah, I am surprised. And it makes me happy. It just shows that some advertisers out there have their finger on the pulse of what is good in music nowadays. Hopefully it’s not just some trend that will fade. We’ll just have to wait and see…