Monday, October 12, 2015

Psychedelic Witchcraft-"Set Me Free" (Single)

Twin Earth Records

Just released last week (or Wednesday, October 7th to be precise!),  "Set Me Free" is a hot new single from Italy's one and only occult rock band, Psychedelic Witchcraft. The vision of lead singer/guitarist Virginia Monti (who I had the sincere pleasure of interviewing back in May of this year!), Psychedelic Witchcraft takes it's cue from the 70's rock scene where the likes of Coven, Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, and Cream sit hand in hand in spiritual harmony. For the absolutely fetching Virginia Monti (aka Virgin Witch) there's also a passion shared for Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, and Jess Franco and with that key piece of information in hand it's a bit easier to understand where the music's vibe comes from if you happen to be new to the band. Backed by the impressive number "Wicked Dream", "Set Me Free" serves as the follow-up to "Black Magic Man" and features a line-up of Virginia Monti (vox), Jacopo Fallai (guitar), Vanni (bass), and Daniele Parrella (drums). For this up-and-coming Italian rock act this two-track release shows a nice amount of growth and maturity and as somehow who has been a fan of Virginia Monti and Psychedelic Witchcraft since first hearing "Black Magic Man" it's wonderful to hear that kind of improvement in such a short amount of time. Naturally that goes a long way towards pointing out Virginia's dedication to her craft. With a full-length album planned for sometime down the road, "Set Me Free" shows you what can be accomplished when you put all of your heart and soul into a project and with that in mind I congratulate Psychedelic Witchcraft's amazing front-lady! As far as the who, want, when and where of this single? Well, we tackled the who (line-up) so let's address those other three. Recorded and engineered at Gold studio 63 Rome by Gabriele Romano, "Set Me Free" (the song) sounds a lot like a female-fronted Black Sabbath circa 1970! In no way is that a bad thing, but it still is what it is and there's no reason to not point it out. That being the case and all, "Set Me Free" still rules and this Italian band's vintage sound does wonders for one's psyche! And speaking of one's psyche (or calming the savage beast inside!), "Wicked Dream" moves right into your soul and then makes itself right at home! Side two of this single finds Psychedelic Witchcraft coming into their own in a BIG WAY and it is glorious! With the sinister "Wicked Dream" you get the sensation that it's all been leading up to this moment and that Virginia has been saving the best for last!!! Falling somewhere between doom metal and garage rock, "Wicked Dreams" leaves you with all kinds of wicked thoughts as it puts a spell on you that is damn near impossible to shake!!!! It's because of musical moments like "Wicked Dreams" that Psychedelic Witchcraft has quickly become one of my all-time favorite acts and I can't help but wish that this sinfully delightful band will one day tour my part of America! Until that fateful day happens I'm going to continue singing the praises of  Psychedelic Witchcraft
and I will keep on encouraging everyone that I know to check out this awesome act!

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Funeral Marmoori-The Deer Woman

Minotauro Records

Funeral Marmoori is a heavy/progressive doom rock/metal band that hails from Florence, Italy and was formed in 2008 by two members of the Italian doom/stoner/sludge band Gum. Those two musicians would be guitarist/vocalist Giulio Sieni (Gum, ex-Infame, ex-Pistöns) & drummer Fabio Nanni (Gum, Turn Back Time, ex-G.O.E.) and after joining up with bassist Marco Trentanove (Viverna, ex-Sulfur) the band recorded it's first demo. Shortly there after the group added Nadin Petricelli (keyboards, synthesizers) to it's line-up and in 2011 Funeral Marmoori unearthed it's first album, "Volume 1". This soon-to-be released 7-track album (and instant classic in the making!) is the long overdue follow-up to "Volume 1" and (long story short) the group is now rounded out by their 3rd bassist (and so far so good best one to date!), Annalisa Franci. That right there is pretty much all the background information that you need to know other than perhaps the key bit about Nadin Petricelli and her association with the L' Alberno Del Veleno. Alright my friends you can all lower your hands as I know what's coming. Who or what is L' Alberno Del Veleno? Well, it's only a cool little project that does original soundtracks for thriller/horror films. And what exactly does that have to do with Funeral Marmoori? That's a fair enough question so let me explain. If you'd be so kind (and I just know you all are!) try to picture in your mind a heavy (with an emphasis on the HEAVY part!) doom rock/metal band that is influenced by the likes of Paul Chain, Saint Vitus, Cathedral, and Black Sabbath. Got that part down? Yes? Good! Now let's add some 70's Italian progressive rock to the picture. If you're thinking along the lines of Goblin then good for you! When it's all been said and done you'll get a gold star sticker so be sure to hang around until after the presentation! For now though just sit right back down in your seat as we've got one more ingredient to discuss and it's a real doozie! You see when it comes to Nadin you're getting a woman with a background in soundtrack construction. So, not only do you get this (otherwise righteous) doom metal band*, but you have Nadin contributing Farisa organ & Juno synth to the mix! In essence we're talking about a wicked doom metal band that adds seventies-inspired horror soundtrack work to it's already impressive sound! Let that sink in for a second. I know, cool right? But, that's Funeral Marmoori for you. And while I could be playing the time-honored game of "Where have you been all my life?" I'm just going to suggest giving this CD and/or LP** a listen when it does drop. Chances are you won't regret it. I mean really folks you've just got to appreciate what this band brings to the party. It's all at once familiar and fresh. On the forthcoming "The Deer Woman" we have six original compositions from this Italian band as well as a cover of the early Death SS classic "Profanation". Seeing as it (collectively) gels together seamlessly what you ultimately end up with is actual album and not just some kind of random assortment of odds and ends! If only this band was more active then all would be right with the world! That's neither here nor there, but merely an observation. And speaking of observations, guitarist/vocalist Giulio Sieni sounds sort of similar to James Hetfield! It's an odd thing to point out I realize, but it's all the more odd when you actually hear Giulio Sieni singing! It certainly adds another (quirky) distinction to this already appealing album. Is it bad that I'm reminded of James Hetfield in this way? No, not at all. Giulio Sieni is a terrific lead vocalist and he is just one of the many things that I love about this Italian band. With that in mind I want to end this review by saying thanks to my friend Glenn over at Minotauro Records for sending me this promo and kudos to Funeral Marmoori for crafting such a gnarly doom metal release! You've both done me a great service as I now find myself with a new favorite band!

*While I don't explicitly state this in my review above, Funeral Marmoori is made up of four musicians who are easily at the top of their grade. When it comes to laying down ferocious metal you can't ask for better musicians than this! The guitar solos are delightfully sincere and they make reference to classic doom metal bands and the old Italian rock and metal scene of yesteryear. The same can and must be said of Annalisa Franci and her bass playing and I offer nothing but absolute praise as far as this band's "string" section is concerned! Band co-founder Fabio Nanni helps anchors this solid state of heavy rock and metal and his epic beats help add that extra explanation point (!) to what is already some of this year's best doom!!!! If they can keep this line-up together then this Italian four-piece should only get better!

**Yes, "The Deer Woman" will also be available on vinyl thanks to Blood Rock records.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

[Evertrapped]-Under The Deep

Hellstorm Recordz

Formed in 2007, [Evertrapped] is a five-piece melodic death metal band from Montreal, Québec that lists the likes of of Death, Unearth, Machine Head, Scar Symmetry, Soilwork, In Flames, and Arch Enemy as their primary influences. The forthcoming "Under The Deep" is this group's latest recording and third overall full-length album since first issuing "Tales from the Supermax" way back in 2010. Every bit as technical and skilled as some of their listed influences (most certainly later day Death!), [Evertrapped] excels at their craft with "Under the Deep" offering a full-fledged assault on the senses that is absolutely stone-cold BRUTAL! And between you and me friends such aggression and overt hostility is a welcome sight sound when all you want to do is check out of this crazy world for awhile and decompress! Despite the fact that this album would just as soon tear your face straight off as have to deal with any pleasantries(!), "Under The Deeps" is exquisitely melodic and even slightly progressive! It's a fine balancing act, but the five members of [Evertrapped] walk that alarmingly thin line like champs! All of that is fine as blood red wine, but what happens when you take into account the brief traditional heavy metal teases that come with the band's third album here? Well, let's just say that it pushes matters OVER THE FREAKING TOP and in the process of doing that dirty deed it turns "Under The Deep" into a slam dunk death fest that rattled these old bones of mine and made me dive back into the pit for another go! As far as everything else goes? Lyrically/theme-wise it's all about the madness and the above album art does a fair job of representing the ghostly appeal of this gut-stomping release. As good as the all the music is (and it is bad-ass!) I can't help but feel as if "Under The Deep" wouldn't work as well as it does without the grizzly sounds of James Brookes. I mean what's killer death metal without a killer lead vocalist? That's where James comes into play and he handles the mic like he's wielding a blazing chainsaw! His voice cuts the listener in half and makes this album all the more powerful and ultimately intimidating! With a great supporting cast in position and songs that are well-drawn and structurally-strong (and not to mention legitimately clever!), James Brookes is able to breath fire into the individual tracks thus making this spring magically to life! Let's now move from James to the album's overall sound. From a production standpoint there is seemingly nothing amiss here with everything fitting together nicely. Not that the album is overly glossy or anything. This is death metal after all! It's merely a case where a album's production enhances the musical delivery without taking anything away from the brute force narrative. To put it into simpler terms there's nothing here to find fault with. Let me repeat that. There is NOTHING about "Under The Deep" to hate. Nothing. This is simply great music. That means fans of top-tier (slightly-progressive & highly-technical) melodic death metal should find plenty to love about this upcoming release. If that's a tag that you proudly like to where then you should go and pre-order the album by heading here.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Solipsist-The Burning Mass

Ferocious Records

Solipsist is a long-running metal band that is based in Cleveland, Ohio and has two EPs, two splits and (thanks to this late March release) two full-length albums to it's name. Since day one this five-piece group has been fronted by lead singer/producer Noah Buchanan (From the Hellmouth, Ron George, Nunslaughter (live), Arecibo) and on their latest release here this extreme front-man is aided by the mad skills of Mark Witherspoon (guitars), Steve Sinko (guitars), Dave Vezdos (bass), and Dave Chojnacki (drums). While the group issued it's first EP, "Medicate the Masses", back in 2007 it was actually Solipsist's 2010 full-length debut, "The Human Equation" that put this (HEAVY as HELL) metal band on everyone's radar. Between that release and the band's (equally-epic) 2012 follow-up (the self-released "Extinction Protocol") it was GAME ON MOTHERFUCKERS for these Cleveland death thrashers and "The Burning Mass" is no exception! Self-produced by Noah Buchanan and his fellow bandmates, "The Burning Mass" is Solipsist's first full-length album on actual label and they celebrate this glorious occasion in grand style. In other words they pull down the heavens and stomp the living fuck out of anything and anyone that dares get in their way!!! By this point in their stellar career the guys in Solipsist have made easy work of the whole slash 'em/bash 'em style of death metal thrash and in many people's minds they are towards the top of the heap as far as that type of extreme music is concerned. Thankfully much of what you'll hear on this album tilts towards that same direction. Heavily in fact! But then it's also no great secret that the guys in Solipsist like to pull in different elements of not only death metal (melodic and technical) and thrash (the same as far as melodic and technical goes, but also raw, hardcore-tinged thrash!), but things like heavy power metal, metalcore and groove. It's not as if any of that has suddenly disappeared with the group's second studio album or anything. With "The Burning Mass" you get all of that metallic taste, but with no artificial colors or flavors! Every once of fat has been trimmed from this huge slab of meat which ends up leaving nothing but a prime-time (grab some cold beers fellas!) meal that you'll want to gobble up in one sitting! Once more this criminally-underrated Ohio band brings pride to our metal scene and with it's pristine production job and absolutely perfect framework they also highlight the glorious state of extreme metal here in the U.S.! Over the past few years Solipsist has all but destroyed the notion that independent/underground metal bands can't compete on the big stage with the name brand artists and I'd dare anyone to go and listen to "The Burning Mass" and then tell me in all honestly that it doesn't belong in the same league as said bands! This Cleveland band has reached it's evolutionary peak and it's a place where all the best characteristics of death metal, thrash, metalcore, groove, and even (modern) hard rock/heavy metal rest comfortably in the knowledge that there is no more that needs to be achieved! Every-bit the real deal and an absolute must-buy for fans of all things BRUTAL and BEASTLY, "The Burning Mass" made me see Solipsist in a whole new light and chances are it will do the same thing to you. I've been a fan of this extreme metal band since I first heard "The Human Equation" back in early 2011 and even so there is no way in heaven or hell that I could have foreseen just how FUCKING amazing this gang would get! Do whatever needs to be done to snag and bag this CD and if you live anywhere near where this band is playing live then drop what you're doing and get out there & get down with this bad ass metal machine!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jupiter in Velvet-The World Didn't Start With U

Free 2b Free Records

Look! Up there in the sky! Is it a bird? No! Is it a plane? Nope! Is it a band? Kinda. You're getting closer! Well then, is it a man who happens to be a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and electric rock and roller? Yes, you finally nailed it! It's Jupiter in Velvet!! Born and raised here in the U.S. (and now calling London his home base of operations), Jupiter in Velvet is a out of this world musician with a grand total of four albums to his credit. First sighted in 2012 (by way of Jupiter in Velvet's critically-acclaimed debut album, "Screaming the Love Behind the Scars"), Jupiter in Velvet has grown stronger with each new release and now this US/UK singer/songwriter looks to take things even higher with album number four. Last week I covered this album's title track and lead single, "The World Didn't Start With U" and now I'm happy to report that the rumors are true. It might seem impossible (or at the very least improbable), but "The World Didn't Start With Us" is one of 2015's best "rock" recordings and there is actually physical evidence available to back up that wild claim! What kind of evidence is there you might be asking? Well, by clicking on this link you can actually go and stream this album and hear it all for yourself! That's right! There's no need to be a Doubting Thomas when you can just go directly to the source and play "The World Didn't Start With Us"! All I ask is that you please wait on doing that until the ride comes to a complete stop. You wouldn't want to miss any of sights would you? I didn't think so. Where were we then? Ah yes, Jupiter in Velvet circa 2015. Reportedly this is the "heaviest" recording of his career. Or was it the most aggressive? It's certainly the most ambitious one to date. Beyond that I honestly cannot remember which one it was. Not that it really matters if you are new to this band. And if you are? Well, first things first then. When it comes to this underground rocker it's worth mentioning how Jupiter in Velvet has been (vocally) compared to the likes of David Bowie and Paul McCartney and that he has a PhD in Finance. So, not only is he musically skilled, but Jupiter in Velvet is also highly intelligent. Both ideals play towards the absolute strength of this album. As far as that first part goes one need not look any further than "Martini Rock" for David Bowie and "Dive In2 My Seas" for Paul McCartney. There are other tracks that fir those molds, but those two numbers spring to mind so I went with them. And the second part? Well, that's the album as a whole. Other than "When Love Rules The Day" (which sounds suspiciously like INXS) this album is chock full of clever ideas and infectious material. The individual songs that make up "The World Didn't Start With Us" are intelligent, well-structured, and challenging. Genre-wise there is something for everyone. At it's heaviest there are songs that cut a path between post-grunge and (goth-infused) nineties alt. rock. At it's lightest there are psychedelic like moments that hint at what The Beatles would have sounded like if they were still together in the eighties. In-between all of that you'll find fuzz-heavy electro rock that is honest and optimistic. Of the twelve tracks on "The World Didn't Start With Us" only "When Love Rules The Day" struck me the wrong way. That's just one out of twelve! Highlights for me would be too many to count, but the album kicks off with the tile track first, swings into "Alpha Me Omega U" and then moves through key moments like "The Beauty of U", "No Matter Where U Go", "The Everything & The Nothing", "Eat Your Fear", and the aforementioned "Dive In2 My Sea". Looking over my physical notes I see that I wrote down and then underlined phrases like 90's alternative rock, bass-heavy, and fuzz-tastic(!) and then I jotted down bands as diverse as Cracker, Gin Blossoms and My Bloody Valentine. Besides the fact that I need to do a better job of making sure that my notes are better worded(!) the key thing to take aware from all of that is the diversity of this album and the fact that it reminds me of a better era (as far as great rock/alternative rock is concerned!). For what's it's worth this album also reminds me of a show that my daughter and I have been binge watching on Netflix. Try not to laugh, but Jupiter in Velvet's "The World Didn't Start With U" brings to mind Buffy the Vampire Slayer's TV soundtrack! That's actually a positive note as the former CW horror TV show featured TONS of amazing underground/up-and-coming indie/alternative rock acts and it had a dark and mysterious vibe to it. While Jupiter in Velvet isn't exactly dark there is a little bit of mystery to all of this and one could favorably compare the two separate, but equally enjoyable features. But yet again why not stream it for yourself? Now that we're all wrapped up be sure to head here and hear what all the fuss is about! I can't see how you'd regret it!

PS-I'm loving how this album brings to mind so many great bands and acts! I pick up on everything from "Achtung Baby"-era U2 to a David Bowie-lead N.I.N. (that is if N.I.N. grew up on/was more influenced by psychedelic garage rock and shoegazing!).

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Interview with Lipstick's Greg Troyan

The "colorful" Greg Troyan

For those of you who might not be familiar with the name yet (and the key word there is "YET"!), Lipstick is a up-and-coming glam rock/pop metal band from Nashville, TN. Just recently I had the pleasure of covering the re-released/expanded edition of their (funky fresh) self-titled debut album and you can read my review of it by heading to the link at the bottom of this page. As a follow-up to my review I had the golden opportunity to sit down and talk with band founder, front-man, guitarist/keyboardist and part-time bass player Greg Troyan. I want to thank Greg (who BTW is also super-friendly and extremely cool!)  for taking time out of his crazy busy schedule to stop by and answer our questions. I would encourage each and everyone of you to check out his sweet band Lipstick and then by extension the group's fun and uplifting self-titled debut! It is every-bit as colorful and whimsical as Greg himself and it can be purchased for the reasonable price of $10(!) by heading over to the band's merch section. It's well worth every penny you'll spend and as always friends be sure to keep it LOUD and PROUD !!!!

Andy-It's nice to meet you Greg. Could you introduce your band and tell our readers who is who in Lipstick?

Greg-Gladly. I'm Greg Troyan, the lead singer of Lipstick. In the studio I've played both guitar and keyboards for Lipstick, and live I've played occasional bass for the band, but for the most part I'm the lead vocalist and front-man for the group. I formed the band and wrote most of the material on the first album and am the leader of our ragtag group of misfits.

Stephen Smith is the bass player for Lipstick. He is my creative partner in the band; he writes a lot of our material, comes up with a lot of our creative concepts, and he also does lead vocals on a few of our songs. But, most importantly, Steve is my best friend (not counting my fiance). Steve is someone who has been there for me through my ups and downs, and it's an honor and a privilege to be able to make music with my best friend.

In many ways, Lipstick is like P-Funk.The band is led by a couple principal creative forces but has a large rotating lineup of excellent contributing musicians. We still have great relationships with former Lipstick members, and a lot of them appear as special guests at shows and on our albums, so in a lot of ways, it feels like they've never really left the band. They may not be able to play with us full-time anymore, but they're all still a part of the family, and we're glad to have so many talented and wonderful friends.

Right now, we've got two new members of the family who are truly excellent. Casey Horn is our new guitarist. He's the guy in the sunglasses and the black fedora in our video for “The Conan Song”. He's a great guitar player with a very Jimmy Page/Ace Frehley kinda style. He's also an excellent singer and a great songwriter in his own rite, so we're honored to have someone so talented join our team. We also have a brand new drummer with Jack Stark, a kid from Kansas who is easily one of the most talented and versatile drummers I have ever worked with. We're super excited to be playing with Casey and Jack and we feel that Lipstick has never sounded better.

Andy-Lipstick has roots in Cleveland correct?

Greg-Correct. Lipstick is a band that I founded, and given than I'm from Cleveland, it's pretty easy to say that the band has roots in Cleveland. [laughs]

The band started off with one of my high school bands, which was called Dyslexia. It was a four-piece glam rock band, very similar to Kiss: two guitars, bass, drums, and everybody did lead vocals. I was the Paul Stanley of the group: rhythm guitar and front-man. The bassist of the band was the guy who formed the band, and initially, it was his band. He wrote the songs and came up with the band's image and wanted to be the front-man, but slowly I started to take center stage as more of my material ended up in our set. It wasn't because I was trying to take over the band, but it just sorta happened that I usurped him as front-man because the crowd responded better to me than it did to him. The band broke up after a few months, but then mysteriously reformed under a different name with a different rhythm guitarist, and mysteriously the band only had one vocalist: the bass player. It felt very uncool that they did that without even talking with me about it, but I still remained friends with the guys and supported their new band, even though I was now left without one.

During my time in Dyslexia, I wrote a bunch of songs that would eventually become Lipstick songs. I didn't submit most of that material to the band, because the bassist would turn down a bunch of it or insist that it be reworked. There was a song I wrote about following your dreams called “Let It Burn” that got turned into a horror-fantasy song called “Demon Door”, at the request of the bass player. So, I wrote songs like “We're Here To Rock You” and “Rock N Roll Forever” during this time-frame. I was writing a lot of material, but I didn't submit a good chunk of it to Dyslexia because I was writing three or four songs a day, so a lot of it sat of the shelf until I could find the proper way to release it. After leaving Dyslexia, I decided I wanted to form another glam rock band, so the creation of Lipstick really started after that band broke up.

I wanted Lipstick to be a little bit more unique than Dyslexia, so I spent some time honing my skills as a songwriter and I spent a few years backing off from being in bands as I developed the sound and the image for Lipstick. I wanted to blend my various influences of things like The Beatles, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Slade, Jim Steinman, Van Halen, Styx, etc. into something that was unique, and Lipstick is a result of that process. There was a long period of trying to develop my own unique songwriting and image style, as opposed to just copying my heroes to a tee. There was a lot of thought put into how the songs would be arranged and what the overall style and feel of Lipstick would be.

Andy-How did you end up working with Billy Morris?

Greg-I met Billy when I was 16, so I actually met him a little bit before Dyslexia formed. I met Billy at a backyard barbecue party, and Billy was jamming with some friends at the party. He noticed I was wearing a Poison t-shirt, and he asked me if I wanted to sing a Poison song with him and the band. I jumped onstage and sang a few tunes with them, and he was really impressed with my charisma and stage-presence. He kinda mentored me for a little while, giving me some tips and advice, and he'd invite me onstage at various shows of his to perform a song or two.

After years of developing the Lipstick sound, I finally felt I was ready to start recording in late 2009. I found a producer, I found some studio guys and we started working on the songs, but nobody involved in the project really understood what I was going for. When they played “We're Here To Rock You”, it sounded like a ska song. Those guys had no understanding of what I was going for, so I ended up firing all of those musicians and the producer, and gave Billy a call asking him if he wanted to play guitar for me. He said that not only would he play guitar for me, but he'd also record the album and act as co-producer for me.

Andy-What about Stephen? How did the two of you meet? 

Greg-Steve and I met at a place called Cafe Coco, which is a cool little 24 hour coffee shop in Nashville. It's one of the coolest places in town, and there's actually a picture of Steve and myself up on the wall there, alongside all kinds of great musicians like Bob Marley and Louis Armstrong, which itself is a huge honor. But I'm getting ahead of myself- Steve and I first met at Cafe Coco in 2013 at one of their open mics.

Steve was playing an instrument he invented called “The Abomination”, which is a short scale bass that uses three guitar strings and one bass string. The Abomination is tuned to D D A D, which means that Steve can use nothing but power chords and play both the bass and guitar parts for any given song at the same time. He was playing this weird instrument and playing really weird songs about aliens and time travel, but the songs were insanely catchy, and Steve impressed me with his stage presence.

I picked up his solo CD because there was a song on it about the sitcom Red Dwarf, which I'm a huge fan of. For those not familiar with the show, it's a British sci-fi comedy, kinda like Star Trek as a sitcom. Anyway, I was blown away by the CD because it was one of the best albums I had ever heard in my entire life. It easily competed with anything that my favorite bands had ever done: It was that good. It was so good I was actually a little intimidated to ask Steve to be in Lipstick, because I thought he wouldn't be interested, but I ended up asking him to join and he quickly understood what we were all about and jumped right in. I'm so glad that I asked him to join, because not only did I gain an excellent creative partner, I also gained one of the greatest friendships of my lifetime.

Greg's bassist and tag-team partner Stephen Smith

 Andy-Let's talk about "Lipstick" the album. What made you decided to re-release it with bonus material?

Greg-The Lipstick album was something I spent a lot of years working on. From writing the songs to developing the image to recording with Billy Morris, there was a long process and a lot of hard work put into developing that material. Even though it was a demo, it was a demo that a lot of effort was put into. Originally, it was meant to be a demo, something to pitch to other musicians who may want to join my project and something to pitch to various labels and record companies, but the fans at our shows kept asking us to buy our album, and we quickly pressed it in a digi-pack form with minimal packaging, because it was “just a demo”.

But it's more than just a demo. Once you put something out there, it becomes your baby. I didn't want our first album to be something that we just rushed out to make a quick buck: I wanted to put out something of quality. I love owning albums, looking at the artwork and liner notes, and I knew that this album deserved a proper release, because it is such a good record. I also love classic rock bands, and the standard in the 70's and 80's was to release an album per year, and I didn't want there to be a year where we didn't release anything, so that led into us deciding to do the special edition.

I wanted to re-release the album as a special edition with proper packaging, but we knew we couldn't justify asking people to buy the record again without offering more than just cool artwork and liner notes, so that's where the bonus tracks came in.

We had an alternate mix of “Having Fun” that was way better than what was on the original album. I uncovered that version in digging through my archives and I knew that it had to be properly released.

We've added a lot of Steve's Regdar material to our set, so it made sense to add a couple of the songs as bonus tracks. Those songs are from his solo CD that I bought (“Spoiler Alert”), which I consider to be one of the best albums ever made, so adding them as bonus tracks greatly increased the quality of the album because there were two other really great songs added to an already great album.

And as far as “I Want The World To Know” is concerned, that was a song that was difficult to record because it was so different than the rest of the material, and it was difficult to know how to approach the song both from an arrangement perspective and from a vocal perspective. I felt the emotion of the song got lost in the original version and thought we could do it better with just piano and vocals, to help show how great that song really is, and a lot of critics have given us a lot of praise on that track in particular, so I'm very glad re-recorded it and gave that song a second chance.

Andy-One of the things that I really like about your debut album Greg is it's positive outlook. Is there a secret to that?

Greg-I had a bit of a rough childhood. I got raped at a young age by my stepfather, who was also physically abusive to my mother and myself. I attempted suicide when I was nine years old and ended up in an asylum for a little bit. I was a very depressed kid with low self-esteem, and I was surrounded by negativity in the media, at least in music. I grew up in the 90's, so it was grunge and nu metal saying, “Your life sucks, your life is always going to suck, go kill yourself” and that just perpetuated the situation.

After my mother left my stepfather, my life improved greatly, and I experienced freedom and safety for the first time in my life, and that was around the time my biological father took me to a Kiss and Poison concert. I was 14, and I was exposed to music that was happy and optimistic, songs that said, “Yes, you can follow your dreams. Life is what you make it. You can be happy and you deserve to be happy.”

I thought to myself, “If someone had told me that when I was a kid, maybe I would have fought back sooner and maybe I would have gotten out of that situation sooner,”

After that concert, I became a rock n roll fan, and I noticed that positive, uplifting music about chasing your dreams and believing in yourself wasn't really being made anymore. There was a void, and I decided that someone needed to fill that void, and that's why I started doing music, in hopes that some kid out there who needs to hear something positive hears my stuff, and it helps that kid get through whatever they need to get through.

I've never been into the sleazy sex songs by rock bands, and I'm straight-edge, so drugs and alcohol never appealed to me. The Beatles are my favorite band, so I try to approach songs more from a romantic, loving perspective than a sleazy and sexual perspective.

It's taken a lot of years to get over the stuff that happened in my childhood, and my relationship with my fiance has helped me more than anything else. Finding another human being who authentically loves you, scars and all, is the thing that helps heal scars the most. I've found a lot of therapy through my music and my friendships, but she has helped me do so much healing, and I hope as a songwriter my journey can be heard through the music I produce over my lifetime, and people can understand my story and hopefully get some guidance on their path through life.

I want to say a big thank you to my fiance for all the healing she's helped me with, but also to Steve, because not only is he my band partner, but he is a great friend who has helped me with a lot healing too. So a big thank you to both of them for healing me, and a thank you to my music for helping guide me to them in the first place.

Andy-Thank you Greg for sharing all of that personal information with us. It certainly makes me appreciate the lyrics on your debut album even more. I'm glad that you have found peace after such a terrible beginning and I hope that you will continue to heal with each new day. Please know that I will be rooting for you and I know that many others will be as well.

I'm going to be changing gears somewhat here Greg, but I read somewhere that Lipstick has certain routines that it plans to follow with each album. Would you like to share those with our readers?

Greg-The first album had three songs with rock in the title, and our second album (called “Lipstick II”) also has three songs with rock in the title, so it looks like that is a Lipstick tradition. We love rock, and we write tons of songs about how we love rock, and we still actually have a bunch of songs with rock in the title that we've written that we'll probably slowly release. Someday, we'll do a set composed entirely of songs with “rock” in the title.

The first album had two “long songs” clocking in at over seven minutes, and on “Lipstick II”, we have one “long song” called “Love of Some Kind”, which is a song that Steve and I wrote that I used to propose to my fiance. It's one of the best songs I've ever written, and one of the most important in terms of changing my life.

I love Christmas songs, and we've decided that each Lipstick album should have a Christmas song, so we're going to have a Christmas song on “Lipstick II” also.

Andy-Coolness! So, what is a "typical" live show like for Lipstick?

Greg-Well, we have standards that we play at most shows. We almost always open with “We're Here To Rock You”, which was kinda inspired by the way that Poison always opens with “Look What The Cat Dragged In”.

We do “I Like The Way I Rock” at a lot of our shows, and during that song I usually run out into the crowd and perform in the middle of a sea of people. I have a wireless microphone and I like to run into the crowd during that song, and I usually jump offstage and slide on my knees after the guitar solo. Steve has a wireless bass, so he likes to run into the crowd too.

We usually play “Cha La Head Cha La”, which is a song we're recording for “Lipstick II”, and it will probably be the lead single off that album. “Cha La Head Cha La” is a song from the TV show Dragonball Z and it's a fan favorite. People love our version of the song and it's a song where if we don't play it, people will come up to us after the show and tell us that they were disappointed in us not playing it. So that one is a concert standard.

During “Having Fun”, we usually bring out Mr. Cool, our lovable cat mascot, onstage. We also throw tons of balloons into the audience and the room turns into a gigantic party. Also, live, Steve sings partial lead on this song, which adds a fun dynamic to the live version.

We often play a song called “Stop”, which is one of our more popular songs. That song is probably the catchiest song I've ever written, and everybody gets to the front of the stage and sings along with it when we play it. That's another one going on “Lipstick II”.

Our newest concert staple is a song called “Gotta Eat When You Can”, which will also appear on “Lipstick II”. It's a fun song about food, and during the song we throw candy into the audience. It's a real crowd pleaser.

We'll usually have Steve sing a song or two in the set, like “Illium” or “Fight Club”, and he has a song called “Teenage Girlfriend” that he originally recorded with Regdar and the Fighters that we're re-recording for “Lipstick II”. I usually walk offstage during that time and let Steve front the band.

“Rock N Roll Forever” is usually our closing song. It's an anthem, and we really get the crowd worked up during this one. We go out on a high note with a big arena rock ending.

The rest of the set varies from show to show, and we like to incorporate theatrical elements and stories into our shows. For example, at our Halloween show last year we had a super-villain destroy all guitars in existence, so Batman invented an instrument for Steve to play so that the show could be saved. We like to have fun with stuff like that, and we hope to do more of it in the future.

Andy-Your live shows sound as if they are not to be missed! Do you have any tour plans for the rest of 2015?

Greg-We recently got asked to be in a film called “God Gave Rock and Roll To You”, and so between that, our prior local show commitments, and recording our new album, we honestly won't have any time for out-of-town shows for the rest of the year, simply because we're already booked up. 2016 is a year I see some potential touring. We do well at anime conventions, so we'll probably do a few of those and try to book some dates around our convention dates, and we may be doing a bit of European touring depending on how a few things pan out. There aren't really any plans for a tour of North America at the current time, but we'll see what opportunities arise.
Andy-All I can say Greg is WOW! It sure does sound as if your schedule is jam packed!! Let's rewind a bit then. You've been around for awhile now so who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with? And then I guess to go along with that question Greg let's look ahead. If you had your chance to put together the ultimate showcase who would Lipstick play alongside of?

Greg-Fable Cry is the first band that comes to mind. They're a very theatrical band and have a lot of visual similarities to Lipstick, but sonically they are more of a horror-punk band with a strong European folk influence. We're all good friends with the guys in that band: Zach Ferrin is a guy who I consider a musical brother in a lot ways, because we see eye-to-eye in a lot of things including theatricality and work-ethic. Josh Dent is a cellist who played on “Love of Some Kind”, and after I moved out of Steve's place (we were roommates for a while) Josh became Steve's roommate, so we've hung out quite a bit and developed a strong friendship. Scott Fernandez, Fable Cry's bassist, is another guy I've known for years. Scott's a real cool guy, the type of friend who you loan video games back and forth between. He had my copy of Final Fantasy VIII for the longest time, but I just got it back and am super pumped about it, but that's a whole other story. But yeah, we love the guys in Fable Cry, so those guys would definitely be on the showcase with us because they fit so well.

As far as other bands, well there are so many. I love The Slants and I have enormous respect for Simon Tam, so they'd be another band on the short list. I love Kazha, Funkhammer, Black Shag, Tall Dark Stranger...there are so many great bands we've played with and I could go on and on. I've never played with Hessler or The Protomen, but those are bands that I think would also go well with us.

If I had to put on my ultimate Lipstick show, though, it'd be something with Fable Cry, and probably something involving Jeremy Asbrock and Phil Shouse. Jeremy plays with John Corabi and Phil plays with Rodney Atkins. Those guys are two of my favorite guitarists in Nashville, and I met them at my first show in Nashville, and they've been cool friends throughout my experience here. So, Lipstick, Fable Cry, and something with Jeremy Asbrock and Phil Shouse.
Andy-I'd go to that showcase! It sounds as if it would be a lot of fun. And speaking of fun, when can fans expect "Lipstick II"?

Greg-“Lipstick II” should be done by the end of this year and should be out early next year. The only reason for delay on that would be negotiations with record companies, which may push the release date into the summer of next year. We're planning on shopping it around, but if we can't find a deal that we like, we'll self-release it early 2016.

Andy- What does the future hold in store for Lipstick? Where do you see this band in five years? How about 10?

Greg-Iron Maiden is a band that played clubs for over a decade before finally getting a record deal, and even then they still had to work their way up to becoming the band they are today. We're hoping that 2016 changes a lot of things for Lipstick, so that five years from now we could headline a successful tour. Ten years from now, I expect to have a plethora of quality albums under our belt by that point. I expect in ten years, no matter what else happens, we'll have a lot of really great albums for our fans to listen to, record deal or no record deal, I can say with absolute confidence we'll create a lot of really great music.

Andy-That sounds good to me Greg. As we wind down I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with. I always let artists have the last word so is there anything that we might have missed that you'd like to talk about Greg? Do you have a favorite story you want to share? Whatever it is the mic is all yours!

Greg-I have tons of great stories, so it's hard to think of a story to share. So, instead, I'll just share some thoughts:

The Beatles are the greatest band of all time.

Jim Steinman is really, really cool.

Naruto is probably the greatest fictional story ever written. Naruto, as a main character, is also pretty much me.

Everything in life can be understood through Dragonball Z terminology and comparison.

Frozen is really, really good.

The best video games ever are definitely from the Super Nintendo and Playstation 1.

I've seen over 30 Sylvester Stallone movies.

Thin Lizzy is probably the most underrated classic rock band.

To strive to be Christ like, which is to be charitable, loving and forgiving of others, is something that I think people of all faiths can strive to be like.

I love my friends and family.

I like T. Rex a lot, but it's hard to listen to them in large doses because a lot it sounds kinda samey.

It's hard to forgive others, but it's even harder to forgive yourself.

Also, if you're ever in Cleveland, go to Shark's Seafood and Deli. It's delicious.

Thanks for checking out the interview, everybody! Lipstick loves you! Thanks for having us, guys! We appreciate it!
As promised this is my recent review of "Lipstick".

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Free Metal Monday: Former Angels-Live at The Zoo


Released back on June 21st, "Live at The Zoo" is (ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!) full-length album from Australian hard rock/rock 'n' roll band Former Angels. Recorded live at The Zoo in their hometown of Brisbane by Jesse Nikolic, "Live at The Zoo" features the killer live sound of a real  rock 'n' roll band and it is nothing short of criminal that Former Angels are essentially giving something as good as this away for free! Influenced by the likes of AC/DC, Guns 'N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Wolfmother, Stonefield, and Jimi Hendrix, Former Angels are every bit as good as other so-called "name brand" acts if not a million-billion times better!! Someday (hopefully soon) somebody is going to catch on to this band, scope them up and then sign them because talent like this just doesn't come strolling along everyday! Offered as a name-your-own-price download, "Live at The Zoo" is for all you lovers of raw rock and roll and barroom-worthy hard rock! 

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Free Metal Monday: Listenable Records Sampler

Listenable Records

This is a 18-track sampler from French label Listenable Records. It was released over the summer and it features a great deal of variety as far as metal genres go. You've got everything from Loudblast (death/thrash) to the Motörhead-infused Sticky Boys (their song "Bad Reputation" makes me want to hear more from this punk-like hard & heavy band!) and it's free to download by heading here.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jupiter in Velvet-"The World Didn’t Start With U" Single

Free 2b Free Records

With a release date of October 16th, "The World Didn’t Start With U" is the lead single from the forthcoming Jupiter in Velvet' album of the same name. At some point down the road I plan to cover that particular full-length feature in it's entirety, but for the moment we're just going to be discussing the album's title track and then by extension it's official video which can be previewed below. Now, for those of you who might be new to the name and/or wondering just what exactly a Jupiter in Velvet is supposed to be (which were two  separate train of thoughts that (until just recently) I was stuck on!), Jupiter in Velvet is a indie pop-rock/electro-rock singer- songwriter with four albums to his name. OK, "The World Didn’t Start With U" will actually be his forth album, but for this multi-talented singer-songwriter (who actually has a BA in marketing and an MBA in finance!) it's all good in the hood and it sure does look as if it is only going to get better for the main man himself with each new twist of the knob! With "The World Didn’t Start With U" we're talking about a guy who shares vocal similarities with David Bowie(!) and while that in and of itself is pretty righteous there is something even more positive in regards to actual structure of this single. On "The World Didn’t Start With U" we find Jupiter in Velvet playing gritty electronic guitar rock that falls somewhere between "Achtung Baby" U2 and the early punk/new wave-infused rock sound of Billy Idol! Of course those Bowie-ish vocals do give the whole affair a "spacey" vibe and it's not anywhere near as cut and dry as a U2 meets Billy Idol comparison would suggest, but stylistically this single is as cool as you can get  without breaking any local laws! We'll have to wait and see if the whole album flows as easily as this title track does, but from where I'm sitting I would have a hard time picturing Jupiter in Velvet as a one and done kind of solo artist!


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Warfield-"Barrage Fire" Single

IMM Records

Active since 2012, Warfield is a five-piece thrash metal band that currently has one demo ("Killing Ecstasy") and one EP ("Call to War") to it's name. Released in 2012 and 2014 respectively, Warfield's previously-released recordings have been well-received by not only the general public, but by critics and fellow thrash bands. With their latest single, "Barrage Fire" this Kindsbach/Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate-based band continues upwards in their journey towards the top of class and thanks to a terrific mash-up of classic bands like Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Exodus, Kreator, and Sodom and newer acts such as Legion of the Damned and Suicidal Angels these Teutonic warriors are closer to that goal than ever! For Warfield (who should not be confused with the four or so other metal bands sporting that moniker) it's all about the THRASH and that starts up front with lead vocalist Johannes Clemens and then runs straight on through to the drumming of Dominik Marx! In-between all of that metal madness you've got the shredtastic(!) performances of guitarists Matthias Clemens and Dominic Potts and the hotter than hell heaviness of bass player Ethan Stokes! The five members of Warfield (who incidentally seem to range in age from 18 to 22!) have more than enough talent to go around as heard on this new single, but please don't just take my word for it! Click on the video below and see/hear for yourself why the Germany's thrash scene just keeps on getting better and better! You can find and then follow Warfield online by heading  here and then you can download the band's latest EP, "Call to War" off of iTunes or Amazon.

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