ADAM MITCHELL

adam_gold_recordsWhat music grabbed you most as a kid?

Well, the first actual “rock” record I ever heard was “Rock around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. At age 12, I couldn’t verbalize why it was great. I just knew it made me feel glad to be alive! The next record I heard after that – and I was still living in Scotland at the time – was “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. Then we moved to Canada and boom, it was rock ‘n roll all the time. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis. My parents, like most parents at the time, didn’t approve – they thought Lawrence Welk was the height of musical sophistication  – but they weren’t too hard ass about it.  But from then on, yeah, it was rock ‘n roll every moment I could get.  Then, of course, Dylan and the Beatles changed not only my world but the world.

What was the first song you ever wrote and what do you think of it today?

Don’t remember the actual very first song I wrote but one of the early ones, right after the Beatles had first come out, was a Christmas parody I wrote called “God Rest Ye Hairy Gentleman”.

Did it ever make the light of day in another for form?

No, no way, but it was pretty funny!

Artists have so many different approaches to writing, what is your general philosophy?

Strive for excellence. That’s it. And do whatever it takes to achieve excellence. Trying to do that, even when I didn’t know what I was doing, is the only reason I can think of to explain the career I’ve enjoyed.  Strive for excellence. No one buys average.

Great songs give people a certain feeling: is that one of your barometers in determining whether a track is ready to be recorded or is that reserved for the listener? 

Learning to be a songwriter is learning to be a bridge builder.  A good songwriter builds bridges of understanding between himself or herself and the audience.  it might be emotional understanding, it might be intellectual understanding, but that’s the whole deal.

You have written with a whose who of international talents from Linda Rondstadt to Waylon Jennings to KISS: which collaboration, or collaborations, were the most challenging?

Well, the collaborations that turn out to be most  “challenging” are generally those that, in the end, don’t work – and consequently, are ones that don’t produce work that lasts or you’ve even heard of.  If you’re working with another writer, especially a writer who’s an established artist, every song you come up with has to get a thumbs-up from a lot of people before it makes the record; the artist, the record company, the producer, the promotion department and so on.  Did I mention striving for excellence?

You offer personal song-writing coaching online @ AdamMitchellMusic.com: how does it work and do you end up sharing a writing credit if it’s really good?

Really, the best way to think of this is as one-on-one, song aid.  Personal tuition. And no, since it would be a work for hire, I would not take part of the song. Anyone who’s interested should contact me at info@AdamMitchellmusic.com.

The industry has changed radically in the last two decades: do you think it is harder today for a songwriter to break in with major artists to get
songs out?

I think in some respects it’s much harder to be a songwriter now because, unlike in previous times and even up until very recently, publishing companies very rarely now give a writer, particularly a new writer, a substantial enough draw – that is, advance against future royalties – to live on. In my own particular case, when I moved to Los Angeles, Warner Bros. was paying me to write songs for them and it was a paltry amount but I could get by. But by the end of my first year, so many artists had cut my songs that WB decided to renegotiate my contract and suddenly I was making about ten times what I had previously. I’m not sure you can do that now.

On the other hand, in many respects it’s much easier now. You can do great demo recordings at home, the Internet puts the whole world at your doorstep and I still believe that excellence prevails in spite of all difficulties. Everyone gets a break, sooner or later. The trick – the key thing – is to be ready when it happens. All the breaks in the world won’t help you if you’re not prepared.

a-mitchellWhat advice would you give to aspiring artists in regard to refining their craft or brand of music?

Join me at SongCoachOnline.com. Great songs are at the heart of everything in music and I’ve helped many people improve dramatically in that respect. It’s what I love to do and you’ll get a lot of other information about recording, common career mistakes, great gear and so on. Remember, when you’re trying to get somewhere in music, it’s a competition, like anything else. And the most prepared – and those willing to work hardest – will win. It’s a cruel logic I know, but it’s true.

 Jagger once famously sang “it’s the singer, not the song”, was he being ironic?

With all due respect to the His Majesty, the Prince of Darkness, I say “Bollocks!” The song is the most important thing by far in any performance. Look at it this way…You can have the greatest singer in the world singing a crap song and what do you then have? Zero.  A well polished turd. Here’s an absolute, universal, once – and – forever, truth. If you don’t have a great song at the heart of what you’re doing…a hundred times nothin’ is still nothin’.

In a recent interview you said ACDC’s *Back In Black* would make it to your island playlist: would it have been even better with Bon Scott?

Not in my opinion. I think Brian Johnson is phenomenal. It’s very rare for a singer to do a great job replacing an original guy but I think Brian has done it. He and Bon are both incredibly good.

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DAVID KEMPER

david_manns

What was the first album you ever bought and how do you rate it today? 

It was either:

a)    Steely Dan, Can’t Buy a Thrill

b)   Kiss, Alive!

c)    Thin Lizzy, Nightlife

I was a very mixed up boy.  As for the rating part…

a)   Aaa  (Moody’s doesn’t go any higher, or I would, too.)

b)   C (Moody’s doesn’t go any lower…)

c)    A2

What does your 8-track collection look like?

It looks like a poltergeist taking a polygraph (as observed by seven blind pygmies from Paducah).  The only time I ever saw 8-track tapes in person was when we went to visit some distant cousins in Wisconsin – Sonny & Cher Live, Bobby Sherman, that kind of thing.

Was bass your first instrument or an evolution?

It happened all at once.  I awoke one morning to find myself transformed in my bed into a giant, grotesque, bass fiddle.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t speak.  My family and all the neighbors shunned me as the sickening vermin I’d become.  Those snooty violinists and cellists wouldn’t play with me.  All I could do was lay there, staring at the ceiling while sawing away on pithy quotes from Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben.  Very weird.

Bass is my only real instrument, actually.  I often do “play” other instruments on my recordings, however the word “bad” has to be appended to the front (Badguitar, Badkeyboards, Badmelodica, etc.) to get an accurate description of the kinds of sounds I tend to make.

Does being the guy holding down the low end frequencies inform your personality in any way outside of music?

Hello, cowgirls.  I like being on the bottom.

What came easiest to you early on, playing or writing?

The only writing I did when I was young was in the sand traps of certain North Shore country clubs I won’t name.  We used to jump the fence late at night, run around wild on the fairways, throw all the patio furniture into the deep end of the pool and steal all eighteen flags from those immaculately manicured greens – but not before using them to write “ZZ TOP” really, really BIG in all the sand traps.  That’ll show ‘em, eh?

So…I guess the answer would be: Playing.

What’s Brahms’ 3rd Racket all about and is it true you have an affinity for concepts?

Brahms’ 3rd Rocket is all about the concept of having an affinity for calling all God’s creatures (inanimate or otherwise) by the name of which they truly, in fact, are, and should forever be, including (but not limited to) calling kettles Kettles, calling pots Pots, and calling my band by its correct name, which is Brahms’ 3rd Racket.

(Editors note: David was kind enough to catch my error…. “It’s RACKET not ROCKET!!  But don’t sweat it.  I hear even Yoko was in the habit of repeatedly referring to her husband’s band as “Beatles” (“Beatles this, Beatles that”- errantly omitting the “The” every time).  So “Rocket” I can understand.  Hell, I used to know this one guy who kept calling it “Brahms’ 3rd Reich.”  I’ll take “Rocket” any day”)

What’s more enjoyable for you, writing a good pop song or developing the picture music you create for tv n’ film?

I like it all.  I don’t distinguish.  Do I write pop songs?

Sometimes just a simple twist in the arrangement of a song can make a huge difference, is that tinkering part of why you enjoy the role of producer or is it a more technical fascination for you?

I’m an arranger, basically, a collage artist, making sound mosaics.  This inevitably encompasses many different sub-disciplines: composing, performing, scoring music, recording, setting up mics, pushing “Record,” buying beer, asking very nicely for the drummer to hit harder, etc., etc., etc.

That said, I couldn’t give a shit about “technique,” “technical”-anything, or any other derivation of that cold and lifeless word.  Ever try kissing a dead fish?  It’s a means to an end.  I’m not infatuated with methods or systems or techniques.  And I really don’t think of myself as a “Producer,” either.  I used to think it was cool to call myself that (“Yo, bro, didya check out that one young chick that I produced?  Man, did I produce her!”)  I used to like it.  Not anymore.  “Producer?”  Yuk.  Let Bob Rock have it.  Sounds like a guy with nice hair who sells insurance.

Since you aren’t famous drummer David Kemper, do you think this is a good time to challenge him to bass n’ drum throw down to stop all of the chatter between camps?

I don’t want to stop the chatter between camps.  Perish the thought.  I just sent off a four-page letter in response to some lawyer dude in San Francisco who mistakenly emailed me some kind of artist agreement (complete with royalty breakdowns) for the “live” Jerry Garcia Band album they’re going to be putting out soon.  Four pages.  Arguing for a better % (the drummer plays four times as many notes than the bass player, etc.)…PowerPoint charts and graphs in support of this theory…bogus legalese…more prissy rock star demands than Van Halen in the dressing room…in short, pure balderdash!  I had that lawyer dude doing figure eights around the page, revealing only in the last paragraph that he had sent his little agreement to the wrong David Kemper.  Stop the chatter?  Hell no!  If all the chatter were to suddenly stop – and I no longer had a reason to write goofy letters like that – whatever would I do with all the empty hours?

If you could be the first artist to perform a song on the moon, on behalf of mankind, what song would you choose?

I wouldn’t perform it myself.  Assuming – since I’d been selected for this great honor on behalf of all mankind – that I would then have the full financial and technical resources of Planet Earth at my disposal, I would graciously defer and instead use those combined resources to have Andrea True exhumed and resurrected so the Andrea True Connection could do “More, More, More” on the edge of the Aitken Basin while Evel Knievel (since money is no object, right?) jumps back and forth over it riding a giant neon dildo.

Get the action going…get the cameras rolling…holy, shit, can you imagine that on the fucking moon?  But…hey…realistically…if the resurrections didn’t work out?  In that case I’d just get Carl Douglas to do “Kung Fu Fighting” and be done with it.

MICHAEL LUX

1.0  What’s your vision for Michael Lux & The Bad Sons? I’m concerned at the moment with the city I live in.  There are very few ‘front’ people.  Most of the good ones are women, which is fantastic. Everyone really loves meandering at the moment. And I’m at times hard pressed to find anyone that gives a shit or two about lyrical content. None of this is really a problem for me, though. I try and do the opposite of those things. Though there is a chance I could be persuaded by some monitary sum to try being a woman for a short time.  The vision for me is my songs settling in people’s conscience for the long haul, the way the songs i love do in mine, i suppose.

2.0  What’s more important to you, the tunes or kicking ass live? The most important thing is the songs. with good songs you will always kick ass live. why do you think the modern ‘pop punk’ and ‘nu metal’ genres were as short lived as they were?  My guess is that once people got home from diving around like lunatics, they realized they were listening to essentially the same terrible song over and over again by countless bands trying to be the other one.  But they could do that cool thing where they flip the guitar round their head or maybe vomit on stage!  yep, songs win for me.

3.0 Were the songs all really “written in 30 minutes” or are you trying to say that a song either happens or it doesn’t? It sounds awfully pretentious, but the songs actually were written in 30 minutes.  It honestly wasn’t me showing off or some bullshit holier than though stunt i was trying to pull. In Hollus, I was always used to taking days, weeks to sort of, “perfect” tunes. I had a hard time writing material for myself in the past few years because I couldn’t decide what it should sound like. Finally I sat down with a bottle of pinot and once i had a riff, that was it. I just went stream of consciousness and said ‘done.’ Put it down on pro tools because i didn’t want any time to start rethinking.  And then a few days later, another bottle, another song, etc.  This must be working for me, because I’ve just written a few more tracks the same way in the last few weeks.

4.0  Since your name is on the door, did you write all the songs or were they collaborative efforts? All the songs on “Neat Repeater” were written and recorded before I had a band.  I wasn’t even planning on forming a band for it. Just releasing it for folks that sort of cared about what I was doing in Hollus.  I’ve always been a pretty singluar songwriter.  I’m never opposed to writing with others, but I know how I work, obviously. The live group really works within the ranks to bend and perfect things, and the licks and riffs are all interpretted by the players I have, which are sometimes different from show to show, which makes the shows varied and spontaneous.

5.0 What is your favorite song of your FREE EP “Neat Repeater”? “So Loud.”  It’s the song that kicked off this whole mess. It’s when I said, “ahhh, so that’s what it sounds like..” and made perfect sense.  The song itself is very much about Chicago and embracing life, even if it’s shit, fuck it, let’s fuck it out kind of thing.  I feel like a lot of people in the city, if they’re writing about it directly, write about escaping it, or they just avoid it all together and write about some place else for some reason.  I’ve done it as well, in the other band.  I was feeling like Chicago was giving me a giant wine kiss and it needed to be recipricated.

6.0  When did you fall in love with the idea of playing music? When I was 6 I was very in to Cypress Hill and I think MC Hammer. I had the fucking pants, man. Green and Black tiger striped if you care. I had a kid move in two doors down that tried for 4 months to play me a record that I refused every time.  It turned out to be The Beatles doing “Rock n’ Roll Music” – how fucking cornball of a story is that! It’s true though!  I flipped my pudding. I got a guitar and drum kit at the next christmas, though I broke into the attic about a month into November and started learning when my parents were at work. I had a fake band with that kid for the next 6 years, that ended in 3 original records we wrote before the age of 13. I was always completely bonkers for music.

7.0  Does the stage come naturally to you? People say I’m very natural on the stage.  I do feel very at ease.  Many times I feel like my life off the stage is spent waiting to be back on one, yeah. But going back to what I said before, I started playing in live bands when I was 14 and playing drums in church congregations before that, so I was always pretty used to it i suppose.

8.0  Do you guys do any covers live? Yeah, I always try to play a new cover every show.  I think it’s fun for everyone, as long as fucking Live Nation or the RIAA or whatever doesn’t sue me for it.  We’ve done “Moonage Daydream” by Bowie, “Crimson and Clover” and “Motor Away” by Guided By Voices.  WE’re always entertaining new ones, post one on the fuckbook if you have a suggestion.

9.0  Paul Stanley of KISS said that “most people listen with their eyes”, do you agree? God love him, He must have said that in the years he was wearing makeup right?  Like pre 1995 unplugged or whatever? Because after that, “Love Gun” only sounds good with the eyes closed. I do agree, actually, and I think it’s a good thing.  We need to have something to weed out groups, right? It’s incredible how many bands get away with looking like complete baffoons.  If the singer’s wearing shorts, I don’t care if it’s fucking Elvis Presley, i’m walking out. In fact, if anyone besides the drummer is wearing shorts, i’m throwing something at the stage.  New rule.

10.0  You’ve got one ‘ticket to ride’ in a time machine to a moment in rock history, what are your coordinates? Does in between Debbie Harry’s legs circa 1977 count as ‘coordinates’??  That’s dirty, forgive me.


BRUCE KULICK w/ GRAND FUNK RAILROAD


Congrats on BK3 Bruce, are you happy with how it has been received? I am very pleased with the CD and the reviews and the fans reactions. They could all tell I really put my best foot forward shall I say. It has distribution but at the same time you can buy it from me. What concerns me are the BK fans who don’t know about it! They are missing out.

What is your favorite hook on the record? So many really…. I think “No Friend Of Mine” has a great hook and John Corabi really sells the song with his vocals.

How does the writing process work for you? It is different all the time, but it does usually start with just jamming something on the guitar and things start to happen. When I collaborate, things can really pick up speed quickly and suddenly there is a song.

Gene’s son Nick Simmons sang on the single “Hand Of The King”, is there any irony in that? I guess you could say the title has something ironic in it! He did a great job and it was his lyrics.

You have had a long relationship with ESP Guitars, why ESP? They are really like the LEXUS of guitars. Quality and durability.  I have been using them for many years now.

Is Brian May of Queen an influence of yours? He is one of the best of the best. What tone and note choice. YES.

Have you gone full-on digital or is there still a place for analog in your world? I have my turntable out now! But recording-wise it is digital.  I do use lots of vintage gear to record though…

Do you have a favorite Beatle? I would have to say Paul for his amazing body of work and talent, but John is there only a fraction behind him.

Any tips on surviving a world tour? Don’t eat the mayo! Seriously. Take care of yourself, and pace yourself. Traveling is hard sometimes.

You are ‘tweeting’, how’s that going for you? Good… I don’t do obsessively like some, but I do update things that are going on for me. Not the “what I had for breakfast” kind of tweets! But people want to know what’s up ~