Sunday, January 31, 2010

'American Idiot' - the Musical

If you caught the 2010 Grammy Awards, you got a taste of Green Day playing a new version of their single, "21 Guns," with the cast of Berkeley Rep's American Idiot. The show, which is composed of production songs from Green Day's American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown albums, opens on Broadway April 20.

Here's a video of the performance:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010 Grammy Awards on Sunday

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, Jan. 31. One of the most intreguing categories is always "Best New Artist." This year's nominees are as follows:

  • Zac Brown Band
  • Keri Hilson
  • MGMT
  • Silversun Pickups
  • The Ting Tings

My fingers are crossed for Silversun Pickups. The band made major headway in the alternative rock format with their 2009 album, "Swoon," and they also had the No. 1 alt-rock song for weeks with, "Panic Switch." See Silversun Pickups open for Muse at the Palace of Auburn Hills on March 13.

For a full list of Grammy nominations click here.

Here's the music video for "Panic Switch":

Monday, January 25, 2010

White Stripes release first live album

Detroit garage rocker the White Stripes will release their first live album on March 15 on both CD and vinyl as part of the limited edition box set release of their new documentary, "Under Great White Northern Lights." The album will include 16 songs from the band's 2007 Canadian tour. For more information, visit the band's official website.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Rothbury for 2010

Festival organizers for the ROTHBURY music festival have announced that they will not host a 2010 event. According to event planners, the major factor in the decision is that "due to various artists’ recording and touring schedules, timing will not allow them to assemble the cutting edge roster that has been associated with ROTHBURY." Despite the postponement, organizers insist that plans for ROTHBURY 2011 are under way.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rising up the charts, Janus experiments in hard rock

The guys of hard rock band Janus have faced a few obstacles.

Like the time they were on tour and almost weren't allowed into the U.S.

"We were driving from Syracuse to Flint, and we route everything with our phones," guitarist Mike Tyranski said, chatting from a gig in Johnson City, Tenn. "The route took us through a tiny portion of Canada, and we didn't think it would be a big deal. We had no problem crossing over to Canada. But when we tried to get back into Michigan, we only had drivers' licenses.

"They pulled us off to the side of the road, searched our van, searched our trailer and searched us," he said, laughing. "It took hours. We almost missed our show in Flint."

They made it on time. And the show went on.

Of course, Janus - who plays Small Planet tonight - has encountered bigger obstacles than misguided mapping. After fighting to get noticed amid the massive Chicago music scene, the guys finally inked with Warner Bros.' Independent Label Group last year. They re-released their self-produced album, "Red Right Return," and the disc's single, "Eyesore," has been climbing up the active and alternative rock charts.

"Once the song started doing well in some key markets as far as radio goes, a lot of people started getting excited and other stations came on board," Tyranski said. "It's all pretty surreal."

Musically, Janus brings something unique and experimental to the table. Between a melange of U2 atmospherics, neo-prog angst and metal guitars, the band floats in and out of different genres.

"Red Right Return" is kind of a concept album. You don't need to listen to the whole thing at once to get the full effect, but a theme runs through the tracks.
Next up: a tour with fellow Chicago natives Chevelle.

"I think playing shows is the best part of this whole experience," Tyranski said.

"The best is when we're playing with bands like Sevendust and all the shows are sold out," he added. "It's playing to a packed house and meeting people who have never heard of us before and that are excited about us. It's great just connecting with people."

By Anne Erickson, Gannett NOISE

Linkin Park, more donate songs for Haiti

Linkin Park, Slash and a slew of other bands and artists have donated unreleased material to raise funds to help with the Haiti relief efforts. All of the proceeds benefit the cause. To download tracks and donate, please visit the Music for Relief website.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

STP is back

Stone Temple Pilots have finished recording their yet-to-be-titled new release. The album is the first since the band's 2001 effort, "Shangri-La Dee Da." Can't wait!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Pumpkins post new song

The Smashing Pumpkins just posted a new song to their MySpace page and website, "Widow Wake My Mind." This is the second track from the band's new, 44-song concept album, "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope," which will be released on the Internet for free, one track at a time. For more, check the band's official website:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blink-182 release exclusive Haiti charity T-shirt; all proceeds go to the Red Cross


Blink-182 have just released an exclusive Haiti Charity T-shirt. All proceeds from the sale of this shirt will go to the Red Cross. Each shirt is $15 and is only available on the band's official online store.

Purchase it here

Interview: All-American Rejects guitarist loves Twitter

The band name picked by the All-American Rejects makes no sense. C'mon- there's nothing about these guys that makes them so-called "rejects."

The Oklahoma-based rock group makes classic power-pop, both charming and fresh, and they guys have sold over two million albums since 1999.

We chatted with guitarist Mike Kennerty, who had a hand in writing hits like "Dirty Little Secret," "Move Along" and "Swing, Swing."

• LSJ: What was it like breaking out of your small town of Stillwater, Oklahoma?

• Kennerty: It was very cool. We were just some kids content on playing shows and getting by as meagerly as we could, so getting to this point is awesome. It was just a crazy experience to be thrust into the music world and to play huge venues and get on TV shows, and we wouldn't trade it for anything.

• What's your favorite thing about this whole experience?

• My favorite part, honestly, is just getting to do it. Getting to make music and play live over and over for your job is the most amazing feeling.

• You guys have a good amount of staying power in a genre that isn't always known for that.

• I think we lucked out in that a lot of bands get big and more popular for their fame more than their music or talent. We're not a tabloid band. You're not going to see us on the cover of every magazine in a scandal. We're being judged solely on the music and I think that had helped make us last for three records.

• I see you're big on Twitter (@mikeaar).

• Yeah. (He laughs) I try to save it for when I have important stuff to say or if I have a picture to post. There's this Web site called and it rates your Twitter page, and I got an A-, so I thought that was pretty good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A rockin' zombie calendar with yours truly

So, I usually stick to purely professional posts on this blog: band interviews, music news, etc. But, I'm making an exception today. I was asked to model for a zombie calendar, of all things, this year. This morning, the photographer and I were interviewed on WQTX-FM (92.1) in Lansing, Mich. about the release, and we had a blast.

Here's the creepy pic.
It doesn't get more rock 'n' roll than this.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview: Framing Hanley's Kenneth Nixon makes tasty tracks

Within a span of just a few months, Framing Hanley went from being a bunch of random kids with amazingly cool-looking haircuts to chart-climbing rockers.

And it's all thanks to the band's cover - ironically - of a hip-hop song.

Lil Wayne's smash "Lollipop," to be specific.

Not surprisingly, this wasn't the plan. If you ask lead singer Kenneth Nixon, he'll tell you the song was supposed to be played only once, during a gig in the band's hometown of Nashville. And even that almost didn't happen.

"I'm a huge Lil Wayne fan, and I heard the song on the radio on the way to rehearsal last summer. I was like, 'We should totally cover this song at our hometown show,' and the band laughed it off at first," he said. "But 20 minutes later, Ryan (Belcher) was playing it on the guitar, and an hour later, we had our version."
That same cover - the song the guys took as a joke at first - eventually climbed in the Top 25 on the modern rock chart.

So, yes, the success came as a shock to the band. A good one.

"When we first played 'Lollipop,' we never knew it would become anything," Nixon said. "Just the fact a rock crowd has been so receptive to a hip-hop song is an awesome thing."

Listening to Framing Hanley's current full-length, "The Moment," it's hard to believe Nixon is at all influenced by hip-hop. You might guess Chevelle or Breaking Benjamin. Hard-edged guitars, thick, melodic vocals and post-grunge anthems make up the post-hardcore band's sound. Truth be told, Nixon listens to everything from Kanye West to Merle Haggard (his father was a country musician). And Guns 'N Roses is the reason he got into rock in the first place.

The guys of Framing Hanley first got together in 2005. Success came early, thanks to the band's MySpace demos getting discovered by Brett Hestla, former Creed bassist and frontman of Dark New Day. Hestla recorded their two-song demo, and Silent Majority Group (Candlebox, Tantric) picked them up.

Nixon is loving every minute of the band's newfound fame.

"It's great getting to meet people every night who are fans of rock music and of music in general, and who appreciate what bands like us are doing," he said. "The fact is, we're five fans of music who got lucky, and now we get a chance to play our music. It's awesome that people our there care to listen to it."

Wilco on tour in 2010

It's been a busy year for the guys of Wilco. Between the release of their live performance DVD/documentary, "Ashes of American Flags," in April of 2009 and a new, self-titled release in the fall, they're going through guitar picks like water.

I'm interviewing Wilco bass player John Stirratt this Friday. The band kicks off a North American tour in February, and they play Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. on February 21st.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Groovy news: Flea unveils line of bass guitars

Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea has released his own line of affordable basses. The musician says he felt called to do so because, "I wanted students to have an instrument that they could fall in love with, and I wanted them to be able to do it with the limited means that most of them have for acquiring one," says the release.

The two-tone model, named the Fleabass, is modeled with a solid maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard and a smooth satin finish. Each bass comes pre-set up with low action for easy playing for beginners. Each also comes with an instructional DVD with Flea, a gig bag featuring the Fleabass logo, input cable and adjustment tools.

The Fleabass retails at $499 and can be found at a variety of music stores, including Elderly Instruments.

American Carnage Tour postposed

The much-anticipated American Carnage Tour, featuring thrash greats Megadeth, Testament and Slayer, has been postponed while Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya undergoes back surgery.

The official release states that the bands hope to reschedule the American Carnage Tour for sometime this summer. Those who already have tickets for the tour should hold onto them until further notice.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Breaking Benjamin tours in 2010, opts for low guitar tuning

The chorus of "I Will Not Bow," the debut single from Pennsylvania quartet Breaking Benjamin’s latest album, sounds like it comes from a band determined to stay true to their beliefs, no matter what: “I will not bow/ I will not break/ I will shut the world away/ I will not fall/ I will not fade/ I will take your breath away.”

It’s a deep message, and a hopeful song. And, like many of Breaking Benjamin’s singles, it’s doing really well. “I Will Not Bow” reached No. 1 on the Active Rock chart last year. The song is also on the soundtrack for the sci-fi film, “Surrogates.”

Since 2002, fans have embraced Breaking’s Benjamin’s post-grunge/alternative metal sortie. Front-loaded with singles like “So Cold” and “The Diary of Jane,” the band’s music is uniquely dark, with cool riffing and heavy power chords. Tuning-wise, Breaking Benjamin really stands apart. While many metal bands use drop-d tuning, Breaking Benjamin goes two more steps down, to A# (or Bb). That makes for the uniquely dim sound that is, Breaking Benjamin.

Breaking Benjamin is on tour right now with Three Days Grace and Flyleaf. They play Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 16. They tour with Nickelback and Shinedown this Spring.

By Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ/NOISE

Friday, January 8, 2010

Janus mixes alternative, neo-prog, metal

I had the chance to interview Mike Tyranski from Chicago-based hard rock band Janus yesterday. I'll post the interview soon! Here's their video for "Eyesore."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview: Chevelle's 'Letter from a Thief'

If Chevelle had any particular goal with its latest release, "Sci-Fi Crimes," it was to make a record that represents how the band sounds live. And drummer Sam Loeffler says, thankfully, that plan came together.

"We didn't use auto tone on the vocals; we didn't use samples of the drums; and we recorded the whole songs through," Sam said, chatting from his hometown of Chicago. "We wanted it to sound like we sound onstage."

Despite its title, "Sci-Fi Crimes" isn't an album that deals solely with aliens or supernatural encounters. Instead, the title started out as a joke and ended up inspiring the song "Roswell," which lead vocalist and guitarist (and Sam's brother) Pete Loeffler came up with after reading a story about a woman who claims a spaceship took off from her backyard.

"It's a really interesting story, but that's not so much the theme of the album," Sam said. "It was hard to name the record because the songs all have different themes."

Chevelle's first single, "Jars," has nothing to do with aliens. The deep, down-tuned rock ditty is actually a tongue-in-cheek reference to "wanting to save the world."

"It's like you're trying to put the whole world into jars for safe keeping," Sam said. "So it's kind of about recycling and the green movement. Which of course is a great thing; it's just taking it to the extreme.

Like "The Red" and "I Get It" before it, the album shot up the rock radio chart and was the most added song on rock and active rock radio when it was released.

Nobody is more surprised by the single's success than Chevelle.

"We were surprised that song was picked as a single because we really didn't think that it was the strongest song on the record," Sam said, laughing. "But everyone was sort of attracted to it. We played it to friends and people at our label and they'd be like, 'Oh, that's the single.' "

The next single, "Letter from a Thief," is going strong, too.

Overall, the band hopes fans will dig the variety on the album.

"I imagine people will be surprised by the fact we did an acoustic song again," Sam said, referring to the downscaled "Highland's Apparition."

"I don't know if I can say it's our best record, because we're pretty close to the records, but I certainly hope it's our best record," he added. "And if it is I think it's because we developed as songwriters."

The guys - Sam, Pete and their brother-in-law Dean Bernardini on - started Chevelle in Chicago in 1995. Since then, the band has released five studio albums, and Sam says he thinks the group is coming full circle.

"I think if you go long enough in a progression, you'll sort of turn around and come back," he said. "This record is probably closest to point No. 1 than any other record we've done."

And what's it like being in a band with your brother 15 years and counting?

"I can't image what it would be like to be in a band without my brother," Sam said. "My main reason for playing music when I started was because I was fan of what he was doing. I love playing drums and I'll always be a drummer, but I don't know that I would have the drive if I didn't have his music to drive me."

-Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ/NOISE

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Interview: Cavo frontman talks about his love for grunge

Cavo lead singer Casey Walker always knew he had a knack for music. But it wasn't until he saw Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder onstage that Walker felt called to be a singer.

"When I saw Eddie singing, I was floored," he said, speaking from a tour stop in Oklahoma City. "My whole world changed. You can just tell that what he's saying is important to him. He puts his heart and soul into every song."

When you hear Cavo, the Pearl Jam influence makes sense. On the St. Louis-based band's major-label debut, the guys make it clear they don't want to be a pop band; instead, they delve into straight-ahead, post-grunge rock with catchy, brisk riffs and raspy vocals.

Cavo is currently on a 75-date tour, and they don't plan to stop anytime soon. First, there was Crue Fest 2 in August. Then a tour with Shinedown and Sick Puppies. And now, the band is on its first arena tour, opening for Daughtry and Theory of a Deadman.

Despite the exhaustion that naturally follows so much time on a tour bus, Cavo remains wide-eyed and excited about performing every night. Even if it means playing their hits singles "Champagne" and "Crash" over, and over.

"The best thing about the journey of being in this band is getting to play our music," Walker said. "These songs are all snapshots of periods in our lives, and when you see people appreciate that, it's the best feeling.

"When a person says, 'Your song got me through the hardest part of my life,' that means so much to the whole band."

-Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ

Interview: Shaun Morgan of Seether

Being different has never bothered Shaun Morgan.

"We don't really follow trends," said the lead singer of South African hard rock band Seether.

"We're not underground, we're not emo, we're not punk rock, we're not metal. We don't really have a place."

Not having a place seems to work for Seether. With three chart-topping albums since 2002 and numerous No. 1 radio hits including "Fake It" and "Rise Above This" off their current full-length Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, Seether is one of the biggest modern rock bands on the planet right now. Loud guitars, murky riffs and aggressive-yet-introspective lyrics characterize the group's Nirvana-inspired sound.

Speaking enthusiastically from a concert stop in the U.K., Morgan wasn't taking interviews at press time, but made a special exception to talk with us.

"Fake It" is huge. (The track, which criticizes materialism, reached No. 1 on the Billboard rock charts.) I heard the song started out as an experiment.

(He laughs.) Yeah, I was having one of those days where I was kind of in a weird mood, and I had this drum beat with this swing to it, and I was like, "Man, that's kind of weird, let's see what I can do with it." So, "Fake It" originally started off as just being a complete joke to amuse myself.

Dating and breaking up in the public eye must be rough. You took the high road when Amy Lee (of Evanescence) put your personal relationship out there with "Call Me When You're Sober."

Yeah, I did write some songs that were complete lash backs, but those I knew were never intended to be used, they were just for me, personally. I'm not going to say that some songs don't touch on that subject, but not in an obvious fashion. I'm never going to air out anybody else's dirty laundry. That's not who I want to be. And I think that was the route she felt she needed to take. ... But I'm telling you, as much as you've just given me accolades, it was a tough decision to make.

Your current single, "Rise Above This," comes from a very private place. (Morgan wrote the song for his brother who has since taken his own life.) Do you have mixed emotions about its success?

I think it's a positive thing. If you consider it to be a tribute to somebody, then you'd rather it was successful than it wasn't. It's weird having my diary on the radio, but I couldn't do it any other way. It is the way I write music, and it is very personal to me. I don't think it's more important than other songs we've done, but it helped me through a rough time, and that's really what its intention is. That it can help other people.

-Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And the top act of the decade is...

The Dave Matthews Band. Yep.

According to Pollstar, the guys grossed nearly $530 million over the last decade, beating out the Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna. Congrats, guys, on being the top act of the 2000s.

Here's a list of the top 10 touring artists of the decade (click here for the full story):

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top concerts of 2009

Going to concerts is like paradise to me.
And a lot of other people seem to feel the same. According to Pollstar, the concert business had an up year, and the number of tickets sold in 2009 increased over 2008. Sweeeet!

Here's Pollstar's Top 10 Concerts for 2009 (click here for the Top 50):

1. U2
2. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
3. Elton John / Billy Joel
4. Britney Spears
5. AC/DC
6. Kenny Chesney
7. Jonas Brothers
8. Dave Matthews Band
9. Fleetwood Mac
10. Metallica

Other notables: Nickelback (No. 11), Coldplay (19), No Doubt (24), Motely Crue (39) and Kings of Leon (43).