Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interview with Julia Roberts

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing local musician Julia Roberts. As the founder/chief songwriter/guitarist and vocalist of  traditional heavy metal/power metal band Global Warning (a ready for the prime time cult Ohio band who bizarrely haven't been snatched up yet even as they are a sure thing!) this phenomenal guitarist/front-woman has thus far remained one of Ohio's best kept secrets. With all of that bound to change before you know it (!) I was grateful to have the opportunity of talking with this remarkably-talented and super-approachable artist! I want to thank Julia for taking the time to talk with Heavy Metal Time Machine and I would like to encourage all of our readers to check out Global Warning and their stone cold-killer take on heavy/power metal! 

Andy (A)-Would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your current band?

Julia (J)-Julia S. Roberts, guitarist first, lead vocalist and songwriter, and founder of my current band (Julia Roberts') Global Warning.  At this point, I have "fill in" band members for touring/shows, and they are Tim Frederick (Wretch, Eternal Legacy, Vindicator) on Bass, and Tim Seale (Bound by Fate) on Drums.  I will be on the look out for more permanent bandmates going forward.

A-How did you get started in the music business Julia?

J-I made my debut with my first original band Driven Steel back in 1989 in Southern California.  I was the Guitarist and main songwriter, and later became the lead vocalist as well in 1992. Our first gig was at Goodies in Fullerton, CA in 1989, not sure of the month!  Myself and Kelley Heckart (Bass, Co-Songwriter) founded the band, and through several lineup changes (except the two of us), we kept the band going until 1995.  So, even though I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, I really got my start in music in Southern California.

A-How old were you when you first starting playing guitar and when did you first realize that this is what you wanted to do with your life?

J-I get foggy on exactly when I started, but I believe I was about 10 or 12 years old.  It was right around when Van Halen's first album came out in 1978.  Eddie Van Halen blew me away, as he did everyone at that time, and he became my main guitar hero.  My dad had a homemade Sears Harmony amplifier and guitar that I used to play here and there, and he ended up giving them to me.  He also bought me an Ibanez Tube Screamer distortion pedal shortly thereafter.  I realized that I wanted to be in a band, when I used to go to rock concerts as my friend (who lived down the street from me) had a mother who belonged to Belkin Productions ticket club where she would get floor seats all the time.  One of the first concerts I saw up close (3rd row) was Def Leppard and Billy Squier, back in 1983 at Richfield Coliseum in Ohio.  I thought to myself, "man it looks like a LOT of fun up there, I can do that!"  Seeing those bands up close and personal like that really made me want to be onstage and perform.

A-Ah yes, the Richfield Coliseum. What a cool place that was! I went to my fair share of great shows there and to this day I miss the place. It's always fun to meet other people with fond memories the Richfield Coliseum. Well, that covers live shows so how about actual albums? Could you tell us about your early influences and do you remember what the first heavy metal album you ever bought was?

J-I would say my earliest guitar influence was probably Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, as my mom and dad would get these compilation albums such as "Superstars of the 70s" and I remember hearing "Whole Lotta Love" and thought that was such a cool heavy guitar riff!  What a great sound!  And then when Van Halen's first album (self titled) came out in 1978, that was definitely a game changer.  My other 2 biggest influences on guitar would be Randy Rhoads (Ozzy) and Yngwie Malmsteen.  I'm pretty sure "Van Halen" was one of the first albums I bought.  I can't remember exactly which one was first.  I know "Flight of Icarus" by Maiden was one of the 45s (single) that I couldn't stop playing too.

A-That's some excellent stuff right there Julia! I know my first hard rock album was AC/DC's "Who Made Who" while my metal one was "Kill 'Em All". All of which brings up a good question. Let's say a kid walks up to you and asks "What's heavy metal all about?". What would you tell the kid and as a follow-up question what album would you hand him and why?

J-I would tell the kid that heavy metal is all about getting your aggression out in a constructive way by escaping into the world of great music, with heavy bass and drums that knock you into tomorrow, with usually intricate guitar work, screaming leads and vocals that send your mind into a frenzy!  It's not about being safe, but facing reality head on, even though it provides an escape from the mundane, it hits a chord (literally) with people in a way that is totally relatable.  There are many facets of heavy metal, you can have a "feel good party song" and then a brutal "WTF" moment, it's the beauty and ugliness of all metal.  And it feels damn good.  It's like beauty and the beast.  I would say an album for me that really defines heavy metal is "Master of Puppets" by Metallica.  It's all in there.

A-I wholeheartedly agree with you there! It doesn't get much better then "Master Of Puppets"! So tell me Julia If you could play with any band for one show only who would it be?

J-There are so many bands I would want to play with.  But I think because they used to be my all-time favorite band, and that they are back with David Lee Roth, it would be Van Halen.  Eddie is my all-time guitar hero.  But I would say it would be better with Mike Anthony back in it.

A-Let's talk about your current band shall we? What's Global Warning all about?

J-Global Warning is something I came up with when I started the band, and it's a play on "global warming" because it's such a hot topic right now.  Not everyone believes it's happening, and it's a big controversy.  I like controversy.  I thought it sounded menacing and big at the same time, very metal but not stupid or weird.  It's like "Warning! Will Robinson, Warning!" from "Lost in Space".  Think of the robot.  We are here to warn the world that my brand of female-fronted metal is big and menacing, and it will take over the world!!! 

A-If that's the case I couldn't ask for a better ending or a better world conquer! LOL! But seriously, what made you decide to finally form your own band after all these years?

J-I quit for a long time because metal really took a nose dive back in the mid 90s, especially in Southern California.  I felt what Metallica must have been feeling in the early 80s when they moved to San Fransisco because they hated the fickle L.A. scene.  Me and co-founder Kelley Heckart (former bassist, songwriter of Driven Steel) were really sick of auditioning drummers, and the music business period.  It wore me down, unfortunately.  Stripped my dreams away (temporarily).  So, for a while I just thought I wasn't meant to do this.  But then it was weird, inspiration just came back to me in 2008.  I started getting to know people in the Cleveland scene, metal seemed to be making a comeback.  That Metal Show was getting more airtime on VH-1, and I just kept hearing more bands on the radio, and with metal channels on XM and Sirius satellite radio, more festivals, it inspired me to pick up the guitar again.  I started meeting the right people, made a 2-song demo, got airplay on college radio, and my former singer actually found me.  I was listening to my old Driven Steel demos and thought, "I'm not going to die with my music still in me.  This is too important."  So, my mission was to find great local musicians, and get my music out there finally.  No holds barred.

 A-No holds barred is appropriately enough the way in which I would describe the live show I saw you put on! If I'm not mistaken that was your first show in sometime correct?
J-Yes, it has been several months since my last show because I had some unexpected band changes earlier this year, and I had to go back into the recording studio to re-record the vocals and re-mix everything to finish the album.  Now, all that needs to be done is mastering, and it's ready to go.  I also had to find some musicians to fill in for upcoming shows, and rehearse.  It's a process!  It takes determination and preparation to get things done right.
A-Do you have more shows lined up? I know fans are glamoring for more live dates from Global Warning!
J-Since the other musicians have other bands, I am working around everyone's schedule.  We are in the process of setting up some shows that make sense in the next few months, looking to bring our show to other cities such as Akron.  We should have some shows firmed up in the next few weeks.

A-That's awesome to hear! I've just got to say that your dedication to your craft is as obvious live as it is on tape! What fuels that passion and your drive Julia?
J-Thank you Andy!  I really love making music, performing and recording it, as well as creating it.  My music personally means a lot to me, and I know it touches others as well, so my passion and drive are fueled by the need to get the music out to the masses in the best way possible.  That's why I need backing, the right label who can give me the support needed for getting this album finished and released, tour support, proper promotion/PR, and then on to the next one to I can keep the momentum.  I just don't have the means to do this by myself.  Plus, I feel females in metal are now getting more of the spotlight, and overall the quality isn't there - it's still about the image, more than the musicianship.  So, I want to change that and gain real respect out there.  Be more of an inspiration to other females, as well as males!

A-Without going into specifics you've come to having your music released before. What are you looking for in a label or representation now?
J-As I said before, I need a record label with the real means to take this to the next level and get it out to the masses, so people actually know about it and can get excited.  So, I can get on some great music festivals as well as tour with the right bands, because I'm really ready to make this happen and dedicate myself to this life.  And get the right musicians to back me up and commit.  The label will need to really believe in the music and what I'm about - not try to change me into a cookie cutter "female fronted" sexy little number that the guys can jack off to.  Fuck that shit.  It's about the music to me and really putting on a performance of real musicianship and dedication to the craft.  Not tits and ass.  Although I'm not opposed to being a little sexy.  I mean, I do like guys you know.  LOL

A-As a father of a teenage girl who is into drama and choir I can really appreciate where you are coming from when you say that you want to be taken at face-value as a person and not an "image". And really your brand of metal speaks just fine by itself and if there is one thing Global Warning does not need it is a makeover! And speaking of Global Warning, where can our readers find you online Julia and what can fans do to help support you and your band?
J-We're in the process of getting some dedicated websites put together, as well as new photo shoots and the like.  But for now, they can find us on Reverbnation and Facebook.  I'm also updating Fandalism and Soundcloud websites.   www.reverbnation.com/jrglobalwarning

A-I always like to give artists the last word. Is there anything you would like to address that we did not cover? Is there anything you would like to say to your fans or even detractors? The mic is all yours Julia!
J-I'm very excited and grateful that I now have a second chance to be part of the music world as I had always dreamed.  I feel that everyone has a purpose in life.  Truly, I feel that my purpose is to make music and perform it around the world, be a part of something bigger, a worthy cause.  To further the dreams of girls everywhere who have the desire to make meaningful metal music and not be afraid to show that aggressive, angry, and strong side of them that I know exists in so many but don't have support.  Women are more than just sexual objects.  It took me a while to realize that I'm meant for this, and I had to do quite a bit of soul searching, but better late than never!  Age is just a number, and I'm in a position in my life to really make this happen.  I still believe in dreams coming true.  Looking forward to people joining me on this heavy metal journey, and I won't let you down!  To quote a lyric in my song "Soul Satisfaction," Insane and crazy is how it all seems, but how can you judge what a person perceives?  No one believes me, not a word that I say, but I have the vision, so get out of my way!"

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