Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catching waves with guitar hero GARY HOEY! An interview with a genius!

I am ultra-excited to be able to present this to everyone. After admiring the guitar wizard from afar for over ten years, I finally got an opportunity to interview with one of my musical heroes, GARY HOEY.

Here is a bit of a teaser:

When someone utters the term “guitar hero”, several names (aside from the obvious video game) are immediately conjured – legendary axemen like Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Yngwie Malmsteen are but a few. For some strange reason, Massachusetts born (and [spiritually] California-raised) string-smith Gary Hoey is rarely at the forefront of the guitar-slinging pantheon. But he is there nonetheless, shredding licks and melting picks along with those the public deems “godly”. He does not rest within the confines of any one genre; his music embraces multiple styles (sometimes simultaneously), including metal, rock, blues, surf, and a touch of good old funky jazz for flavor.

During the past two decades, Hoey has recorded nine incredibly diverse studio albums (one of which being the soundtrack to the cult surfing film The Endless Summer II), an intense live album, and three very well-received Christmas albums. He also has provided music for DISNEY, ESPN, No Fear, and has even performed the National Anthem for the New England Patriots, San Diego Padres, and the Boston Red Sox. Last year, he became the host of the inaugural Rock the Waves Cruise in coordination with Best Music Cruises. And this year, he is setting sail again.

Prior to he and his band (bassist Erik Kontz and former Event drummer Matt Scurfield) entering the studio to record the next album, Hoey is embarking on a brief clinic tour, where he will be demonstrating some new gear from Fender.

Check out the full interview here!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Seeing Red: An interview with Russian folk metal band KALEVALA!

I recently did an interview with the Russian folk metal band KALEVALA for my gig at I don't normally plug my other stuff here, but I think this band really needs to get noticed. Here is my lead-in to help get you in the mood:

It may seem an obvious notion, but MySpace truly does offer a world of music at one’s fingertips. Anyone can log on and search for new music by style, looking through Top Friends of other bands, or simply wait for those pesky Friend Requests to pile up in one’s in-box. Many bands abuse this capability and use MySpace simply as press release fodder (like having x-amount of MySpace friends means anything to the industry). However, there are those honest bands who use the tools simply to promote their music and put it out there for anyone to enjoy.

It was here that I stumbled upon a genre of music that I previously was unaware of, that of Russian folk metal. About a month ago, I received a Friend Request from the Moscow-based band Kalevala, most likely due my “Friendship” with bands like Korpiklaani and Moonsorrow. But rather than delete this message, I became curious, largely due to the name; why would a Russian band name itself after a collection of Finnish folklore? So I went to the page and checked them out. A week later, I had the CD, courtesy of Napalm Records European mail order (it is not available stateside, unfortunately).

I was enthralled with the music so much, I decided to research music in the area and was surprised to find an entire scene of great folk music in the Russian vicinity; bands like Tenochtitlan, Arkona, Pagan Reign and several others, some of whom have been releasing music for ten years. Until this point, my only exposure to Russian hard rock / metal was limited to Autograph and Gorky Park. Unfortunately, this phenomenon was not covered in Sam Dunn’s documentary Global Metal, and shame on him for overlooking it. Regardless, my eyes have been opened to a new wellspring of fantastic music, and all started because of a band called Kalevala.

You can read the interview here!

Thanks for checking it out!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why are Classics the only things allowed to be considered “classic”?

So this is actually a legitimate blog post for once. It doesn’t pertain to me shilling a product, attempting to enlighten the masses on something I think they would enjoy, or a regurgitation of any kind of list.

I, like many other people, have become enthralled with this little Facebook application called LivingSocial, where users make top five lists out of any imaginable category. My guess is that similarities between users foster conversation based on common interests.

However, I noticed a particular “Top Five” yesterday that stopped me in my tracks; it jarred something in the back of my memory that unfortunately started a bit of a firestorm of anger and mild verbal hostility.

The list in question was a “Top Five Favorite Guitarists”. Sounds like a fair enough topic, right? I mean, there are literally millions of guitar players out there from whom to choose to make one’s own personal favorites. My friend (I hope) listed the following guitar players: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, King Bennie Nawahj, and John Mayer.

Now technically, I shouldn’t argue, because it was his list, not mine, and represented his personal taste; no one else’s. However, the simple posting of three of those names thrust a philosophical thorn into my side. I didn’t dispute his posting of John Mayer, because he admitted to seeing him live and being blown away. Fair enough, personal connections do that all the time. I didn’t even question King Bennie, largely because I had no idea who he was.

No, my beef was with the first three. I would bet that easily 70% of the people who made a list of Top Five Favorite Guitarists would have those three names in there, with possible additions/substitutes of Carlos Santana, Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, BB King, Keith Richards, George Harrison, John Lennon, and maybe even Curt Cobain. Why do I believe this? Because I have very strong feeling that society conditions us to like or dislike certain things, regardless of merit.

I had this argument with a couple English professors at Penn State, who kept making us regurgitate the same century + old "classics" to prove various literary points. We HAVE to read Thoreau, we HAVE to read Aristotle, we HAVE to read Melville, we HAVE to read Beecher Stowe. They felt that we would get a better appreciation if we didn't deviate from the prescribed literature, even though it was they (and the prof's before them, and the prof's before them) who keep representing it, and only allowing that little niche of literature to be allowed into the "classic" canon.

Thousands of books have been released every week, since those ages old scripts were first manufactured, yet they are not even considered to a) prove the exact same literary points, or b) retain or inspire the students to enjoy what they're exposed to.

Music is the exact same way. Only a handful of musicians are ever allowed to be revered in a Top Ten by any major medium, be it radio, print, or television. The artists are always the same, just in a different order. Why do you think that people who do not like metal cannot name more than ten metal bands off the top of their heads? Hell, I hate country music, but I can easily rattle off twenty country musicians without batting an eye. It all boils down to exposure.

So to reiterate, my issue was not with my friend, but the simple notion that those same people are being revered over and over again, with no one else being allowed into that exclusive canon. Just because an artist does not receive the same amount of press, any major awards, platinum sales status, or a major radio/video push does not mean they are equally (if not more so) talented than any of those Top Ten-hoarding musicians. Does lack of exposure really skew our vision and opinions that much? If so, then we really are little more than a fascist nation in disguise.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Disney Ride STAR TOURS finally getting an overhaul!!!

I don't normally lift news items from other sites, but this was too great and exciting for me to waste time summarizing! So, here is the piece as it ran on /film!

Yesterday was the third day of a secret LucasFilm film shoot in West Hollywood. If you were allowed to enter the “LODESTAR” production stage, you would’ve seen Boba Fett, Admiral Ackbar, a Tusken Raider, and even some Jawas. C3PO himself Anthony Daniels will be filming later this week.

So what is LucasFilm shooting? The good news is that George Lucas isn’t making a another Star Wars movie (not yet anyways) or additional scenes for some super duper special edition. And No, the Star Wars live-action television series has yet to begin production. So what is it? LucasFilm is shooting new footage for the Disney’s Star Tours ride.

The ride really hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1987. It’s not the total podracer reboot that was rumored a few years back, thank God. I’m hearing that its essentially the same ride but updated. It sounds to me like they might be shooting the footage in 3D, but I’m not sure.

Our source reveals that the revamp will incorporate prequel characters (like Naboo citizens and Geonosians) along with many aliens from the original trilogy (Aqualish. Bith, Rodians, etc). In the action sequence, the Star Tours vehicle is now going to be chased by Boba Fett. C3PO and R2-D2 are still the hosts, and Anthony Daniels will be recording his parts this week. Admiral Ackbar holographically communicates with the Star Tours vehicle. Right now they’re shooting mostly green screen footage, as it is the middle part of the production timeline.