SCOTTY BAKER: Introducing The Band

     When one thinks of Australian music, Rockabilly is not the first musical style that comes to mind. People outside of Oz may initially think of AC/DC’s Hard Rock riffage or Men At Work’s breezy New Wave/Pop but very few know about the Land Down Under’s affection for Country and Roots music. While many Aussie artists are influenced by traditional Australian Roots and Folk alongside ‘foreign’ sounds from the UK and America, there are those that go straight for the jugular and delve into the musical roots of American Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Singer/songwriter Scotty Baker is one of those artists.
     Somewhere between the time Country & Western Music became a phenomenon in the early 1950s and the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll at the midpoint of that decade, Rockabilly was born. Essentially a combination of the sounds of Rock and Hillbilly music (hence the name), Rockabilly became the breeding ground for hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and other artists signed to Sun Records (and other independent labels across the U.S.). These are the artists that inform the music of Scotty Baker and his fabulous new album LADY KILLER, an emotionally charged slice of Rockabilly that feels authentic, passionate and full of energy. Like his first two albums – JUST LIKE THAT (2010) and I’M CALLING IT (2014) – LADY KILLER is filled with fantastic songs straight from the pen of Baker himself. While most would compare him to early Johnny Cash (and rightly so), his music also possesses the emotional depth of Roy Orbison, which is perhaps the most important aspect of his recordings. Scotty Baker doesn’t just play Rockabilly or Country – he lives within the music he creates. He is an artist that adds his own stamp to the tried and true Rockabilly formula and truly shines in the process. LADY KILLER is a Rockabilly treasure that comes from the heart and that is what makes it special.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off some questions to Scotty, who graciously took the time to answer them.

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LEWIS BLACK: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

BLACK TO THE FUTURE
 
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: BLACK TO THE FUTURE has just been released on DVD and CD. How are you feeling about the way the whole project turned out?
LEWIS BLACK: I am thrilled and couldn’t be happier, especially since this is the first time I’ve produced a DVD and CD on my own label.
SPAZ: Even though this show was taped before the election, I sense that you knew how it was going to turn out. As you imply during the show, the jokes write themselves. Did you realize just how crazy it was going to get?
LEWIS: I wish. I wish I’d actually began writing a book once he had started running. It would have been interesting to see if I could have really captured the crazy that was too follow. But I just didn’t have enough imagination to imagine it could really happen. Every step of the way I thought, “This can’t get more insane” and then it did.
SPAZ: Why do you think that humor helps people understand the way this world really works? Your humor is biting but your messages seem to stay with people.
LEWIS: I think it’s because it helps provide a framework for all of the nonsense and hoo-hah and B.S. that life throws at us. It allows folks to step back from the madness, as they laugh, even if it’s just for a moment and be able to realize that this too shall pass.
SPAZ: I believe that the reason you remain so relevant is that you never pretend you have all the answers because you seem just as befuddled by political shenanigans as the rest of us. Do you think that helps you to connect with your audience?
LEWIS: Yes, I do. I also think because as many folks have said to me throughout my career, “You’re just like my dad, only funnier.”
SPAZ: BLACK TO THE FUTURE’s bonus CD contains additional material that didn’t make it to the show. How much prep does it take to put together a show when you know it is going to be filmed for prosperity? And do you tend to cut a lot of material before that taped show?
LEWIS: Once I finish putting a special together and getting it filmed, I begin working on the next one. Sometimes, I already have new material that I have been working on and I start there. Other times, I am starting from scratch and so I set out trying to find what I want to basically yell about and find the arc of a story I can tell. Along the way I cut pounds and pounds of material and eventually when I feel I am getting close, I start to figure out where we will shoot the special.
SPAZ: A comedian’s stand up show must change and evolve at a rapid pace, especially when there’s so much inspiration for new material. Do you tend to tape your shows right before you set aside (or retire) certain material? People don’t realize how difficult it must be for a comedian to constantly have to change his/her act in order to survive in this industry.
LEWIS: Actually, there are many comics who don’t change their material, they continue to hone it, which would drive me nuts but which other comics find satisfying. I tape every single one of my shows, probably because I am crazy.
SPAZ: After the laughs subside and the audience heads home, what is the most important thing you want them to remember after the show?
LEWIS: That they had a good time.
SPAZ: You’ve been doing segments for The Daily Show. One of my friends said that you should have taken over from Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes. Is that something you’d even think about doing or would you feel uncomfortable having to edit yourself to fit into that show’s tried and true format?
LEWIS: They were interested in me, but I wasn’t interested in dealing with the powers that be at CBS or the limitations imposed by the show itself.
SPAZ: The recent political climate has ripped friendships and families apart like never before. There’s so much finger pointing, name calling and shit slinging… and that’s just from the White House! Do you think that social media is to blame?
LEWIS: God only knows. What I know is that social is social and media is media and maybe the two shouldn’t have met.
SPAZ: In regard to those that influenced you in your career, are there any artists outside the comedic field that inspired you along the way?
LEWIS: If you mean outside of comedians I would say, writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Paul Krassner, and Herb Gardner to name a few. Then there’s the Marx Brothers, Madeline Kahn, Judy Holiday, Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen and Sid Caesar and his crew. I could go on and on and on.
SPAZ: What’s next for Lewis Black?
LEWIS: Another special sometime down the road, when I get a grip on what is going on these days. Hopefully some more voice-over work and maybe a couple of nice acting roles. I’d like to write another book or play if I could find the time.
SPAZ: What is currently spinning on your CD, DVD, Blu-ray or record players?
LEWIS: I’ll be watching all of the DVD’s of films and TV shows that I am sent to try and convince that they should get some sort of award or another. I like to play the brilliant CD’s of Jazz artist Jane Ira Bloom.
Thanks to Lewis Black
Special thanks to Larry Germack, Clint Weiler, Tim Elliot and Dave Rayburn
LEWIS BLACK
BLACK TO THE FUTURE
(2CD)
LEWIS BLACK
BLACK TO THE FUTURE
(DVD)

L7: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with DONITA SPARKS!

L7: PRETEND WE’RE DEAD

(The Documentary)

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: L7: PRETEND WE’RE DEAD is finally available. How are you feeling about the project and the reaction to it so far?
DONITA SPARKS: Well, I’m relieved it’s going out into the world because a lot of work went into it, especially from the producers Blue Hats Creative: getting the footage and photos together, interviews with the band members and guest stars, music clearances, etc. This has been years in the making. I’m touched by the reaction to the film by those you have seen it. It hits home with a lot of different people. In the screenings that I’ve attended there’s laughter where there should be, and complete silence during the heavier stuff. Musicians in particular relate to the ride.

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GENE LOVES JEZEBEL: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with JAY ASTON

     Gene Loves Jezebel occupy a musical universe that is all their own. The distinct vocals of Jay Aston and the unique chemistry between his bandmates James Stevenson, Pete Rizzo and Chris Bell has led the band from the dungeons of Goth to the lofty highs of anthemic Rock and everywhere between. It doesn’t matter if they’re tackling a haunting ballad or a riff-roaring rocker, Gene Loves Jezebel remain one of the most riveting yet under-appreciated bands of our generation. And with DANCE UNDERWATER, their first studio album in years, it is time that you put that band back on your radar and pay attention.

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KELELA: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

TRUTH OR DARE:
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: TAKE ME APART is just about to be released.  How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
KELELA: I feel great about the way the album turned out.  I spent so much time on the album to make it be exactly what I wanted to hear so that’s been very gratifying.  The reaction to the album has also been really positive but I definitely think of it as supplementary.  I try to make things I like to hear myself and then hope somebody digs it.  I’m trying to make something that is sincere and so it’s just an extra plus that anybody else is vibing with it.

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YEP ROC TURNS 20: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Yep Roc co-founder Glenn Dicker

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Before starting Yep Roc, were you an avid music collector? Were there any particular genres that you focused on personally?
GLENN DICKER: I would say that I was very much a music collector since I was a little kid. I got very interested in collecting 45’s when I went around to garage sales with my parents and as I got older that spread to full albums when I could afford it. Early on I was into ‘60s music, mostly what would be considered classic rock these days like The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, etc. But as I got a bit older I got caught up in the punk rock thing, mostly the English bands. My favorite was The Jam. When I got out of school and went to work for Rounder Distribution, I got turned onto so much more that really opened my mind to all kinds of great stuff that I had previously only dabbled in like World Music, Blues, Jazz, Folk, Bluegrass, etc. Once I get into an artist, I usually want everything.

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ODESZA: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

 
 
A MOMENT APART:
 
An EXCLUSIVE
Q&A with 
Harrison Mills
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: A MOMENT APART has just been released.  How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had so far?
HARRISON MILLS: This album represents the next chapter of our project.  We’ve wanted for so long to push our sound and mature as musicians. With A MOMENT APART we’ve accomplished a denser, more cinematic sound that incorporates a lot of organic, symphonic instruments. We’ve always considered ourselves an album band, so it’s hard to give people a song out of context, and even harder to choose those singles.  The advance releases cover a lot of styles and genres, so it’s been interesting to see listeners kind of pick and choose their favorites.  We’re excited for people to be able to listen to the album in full – the narrative of the album gives a lot of context to those songs.

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An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with ANTIBALAS’ Martin Perna

WHERE THE GODS ARE IN PEACE:

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: WHERE THE GODS ARE IN PEACE is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
MARTIN PERNA: We are happy with the way the album turned out, or else we wouldn’t have put it out. It was a lot of work and represents several years of effort working through some problems that would have sunk most other bands. We had some members graduate to other projects not long after our last record in 2012, and this album proves both to ourselves and people who listen to us that we have more juice than ever.

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BRONSKI BEAT: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Steve Bronski!

     It has been 33 years since Bronski Beat arrived on the music scene with their remarkably emotional debut single “Smalltown Boy.” Jimmy Somerville’s soaring falsetto was quite a wonder to behold but the music performed by Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek was equally enthralling. Equally enchanting, the band’s debut album THE AGE OF CONSENT was Synthpop at it’s finest. Inspired by classic Disco and the Electronic Music scene that was sweeping the UK, the trio blended their influences into a wondrous brew. Add in their thought-provoking lyrics that focused on gay-related issues and you had a band that not only made you dance but also made you think. Surprisingly, in 1985, at the height of the band’s popularity, Somerville abruptly quit, leaving Bronski and Steinbachek to carry on without him. The following year, the band returned with new vocalist John Foster and released the Pop-errific sophomore album TRUTHDARE DOUBLEDARE. Although “Hit That Perfect Beat” and “C’mon! C’mon!” were hits, the album didn’t fare as well as their debut and the band left their label (London Records). Foster left the fold and Bronski and Steinbachek’s continued to work together throughout the rest of the ‘80s and into the ‘90s. They released their third album, RAINBOW NATION, with new vocalist Jonathan Hellyer and additional musical assistance from Ian Donaldson. However, the band quietly split in 1995 shortly after that album’s release.

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FASTBALL: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Miles Zuniga

Maximum Velocity:
The Return of FASTBALL
    Over two decades after the release of their  debut album, Austin-based trio Fastball is just getting started. Still
comprised of Miles Zuniga  (vocals/guitar), Tony Scalzo (vocals/bass) and Joey Shuffeld (drums), Fastball has nothing left to prove. They’ve achieved everything that  all bands strive for when they first get together – a record deal, tours, hits  (1998’s “The Way” is their biggest so far) and respect. Now that they’ve been  able to step away from the spotlight for eight years, they sound refreshed,  focused and re-energized. But please don’t call STEP INTO LIGHT a  comeback album. Comebacks are often desperate attempts at replenishing the bank
accounts by taking advantage of fans’ fond memories. Fastball is merely picking up the bat, taking a swing and knocking another one out of the park. STEP  INTO LIGHT is a fantastic album that reminds people just how good this band has always been. In fact, it may be their most consistent full-length  platter to date. The boys have a home run on their hands and they’ve left their  contemporaries – new and old – in the dust. Again.
    Stephen  SPAZ Schnee was able to pitch some questions to Fastball member Miles  Zuniga, who graciously took the time to throw back some answers…

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