Category Archives: Features & Interviews

Fifth Angel returns with ‘The Third Secret’

After nearly 30 years since releasing a studio album, melodic hard rockers Fifth Angel return with a new album, The Third Secret, on October 26th via Nuclear Blast Records. The new album consists of 10 tracks that members of the band promise will please both their die hard fans and new fans alike.

“We are very proud of the new album! We hope the fans will hear the classic threads of the Fifth Angel  they know and love, along with the growth and maturity the individuals of the band have gone through over the years,” said guitarist and vocalist Kendall Bechtel in a press release for the new album. “We hope they love the new songs as much as we do.”

In the 1980s, Fifth Angel was signed to a seven-album deal with Epic Records, but released only two albums – Fifth Angel in 1988 & Time Will Tell in 1989. (Click HERE to read a review/reflection of Time Will Tell). With a lack of label support in the early 1990s and the rise of grunge music, the band was released from their contract and went their separate ways.

Fast forward to 2018 and Fifth Angel is back with a lineup that consists of Bechtel, John Macko (bass), Ed Archer (guitars) and Ken Mary (drums). [Original vocalist Ted Pilot was asked to be part of the reunion but declined].

With their highly anticipated new album nearing its release, Limelight Magazine caught up with Macko who discussed recording the album, what it’s like to be back in the band and if we’ll see the band tour to support the release.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: On October 26th, Fifth Angel will release its third studio album, The Third Secret, on Nuclear Blast Records. It’s been nearly 30 years since your last album, Time Will Tell. Why did the band decide to do another studio album after all these years?

JOHN MACKO: We had been contemplating making a new record since 2010 when we played the KIT festival, but for one reason or another, it never happened, then after our performance at the 2017 KIT festival, we had gotten an offer to make a record with Nuclear Blast Records and that really got the ball rolling.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: How long did it take the band to record The Third Secret and how do the songs hold up against your classic late 80s material?

JOHN MACKO: It took about 6 months to record and most of the song ideas were all new within a year or two at the most. We believe these songs stand with the prior records, capturing the style and spirit of the old stuff, but with modern production.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Fifth Angel released a digital single and lyric video for “Can You Hear Me” (click HERE to watch and listen). on September 7. Why was this song chosen as the lead single?

JOHN MACKO: I can’t really answer this question as our label Nuclear Blast made this choice, but we trust in their judgment and we are sure they had a good reason!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: The album cover for The Third Secret was designed by Zsofia Dankova. It looks absolutely incredible. It also keeps the border art of the past two albums, which fans seem very excited about. Did the band have any input on the cover art or did the artist have free reign on the design?

JOHN MACKO: Zsofia did an amazing job for certain! But she did not make the design, the band crafted the design and we relayed that vision to Zsofia. The boarder was also our idea to keep some consistency and familiarity for the fans.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Since Fifth Angel has been away from the scene for so long, did you expect to ink a deal with Nuclear Blast Records?

JOHN MACKO: Not at all! It was pretty amazing to us when the offer was made, it was just luck we think that an A&R rep was at our 2017 KIT show and loved our performance, had it not been for that show I don’t think this record would have been made.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’re first two albums (Fifth Angel & Time Will Tell) were released on Epic Records. How is it different being signed to a label today compared to back then?

JOHN MACKO: Well, I can’t speak for other labels in today’s market, but I will tell you working with Nuclear Blast is an absolute joy! Night and day between them and Epic/CBS records! They are tremendous to work with and we would recommend them to any band out there. They get things done right away and give us all of the creative freedom we need.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’ve read that Fifth Angel originally signed a seven album deal with Epic but was eventually released from its contract. What led to the band’s initial break up in the early 90s?

JOHN MACKO: Basically it was bad timing, the band was dropped from Epic after the rise of “Grunge” music which drastically changed the direction of the music scene. Labels turned their attention to those types of bands.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: When the band decided to record a new album, did you reach out to original vocalist Ted Pilot to be part of the line up?

JOHN MACKO: Yes of course! We have always asked Ted to be a part of anything we have been doing, but he felt his voice was not up to par.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Was it a difficult transition for Kendall Bechtel to go from being a guitarist to handling both guitar and vocal duties?

JOHN MACKO: I don’t think so, Kendall has been lead singing for many years with his own side projects and also doing guest appearances on other artists records.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: As I was drafting questions for this interview, I read a press release that original rhythm guitarist Ed Archer has returned to the band. Does this mean that Fifth Angel may actually tour the States to support the release? (On behalf of all of your fans, we’d love to see you play some New England dates!)

JOHN MACKO: There are no plans of yet, but it certainly is in the realm of possibility!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I came across an interview with drummer Ken Mary in the August 1988 issue of Hit Parader where he said, “I don’t want to say that our show will necessarily be Cooperesque [in reference to being Alice Cooper’s drummer at the time as well as Fifth Angel’s], but let’s just say that there will definitely be some surprises, and lots of things that people haven’t seen before.” Interestingly, the band never ended up performing any live dates back then. Out of curiosity, why didn’t the band ever tour?

JOHN MACKO: It was always part of our plan to tour, but it seemed that one situation after another would always prevent us from making that happen, again bad timing seemed to be the issue.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Lastly, how excited are you personally to see the band back together and doing interviews about a new album again?

JOHN MACKO: Yes of course! Who would have ever thought? I feel truly blessed and lucky to have this second chance; most musicians don’t even get that opportunity once in their life time!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview?

JOHN MACKO: We just hope the fans love this record as much as we do and continue to keep the faith!

 

Dark Desert Eagles to soar at Greasy Luck Brewpub in New Bedford

While Pat Badger is best known as a member of the multi-platinum rock band Extreme, he has also made a name for himself as a founder of the Eagles tribute band Dark Desert Eagles. He formed the band after the passing of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey and enlisted the help of Extreme drummer Kevin Figueiredo, multi-instrumentalist Chris Lester, guitarist Eric Clemenzi, and bassist Tom Appleman. Each of the musicians in this band painstakingly re-create the amazing soaring harmonies and music of the Eagles. It’s no surprise that the Dark Desert Eagles have performed a string of sold out shows and have left their audiences spellbound by their stellar musicianship. The band will perform in The Vault at Greasy Luck Brewpub in New Bedford, Mass., on Saturday, March 24th, with special guest Shun Ng & The Shunettes. (Purchase tickets HERE.)

With anticipation high for their debut performance in New Bedford, Limelight Magazine recently caught up with Badger to discuss the band and his love for the Eagles.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’ve had a lot of success as a member of Extreme but you’re also enjoying success with your Eagles tribute band The Dark Desert Eagles. Why did you decide to start this band?
PAT BADGER: Well, first and foremost, I grew up listening to classic rock and always loved the Eagles songwriting and vocals! Even though Extreme still tours every year, there are gaps in my schedule when I miss playing out. So, I took it as a challenge to do something completely different than my role in Extreme and took on the most amazing catalog of hits from any American band, hands down!

So, I had a conversation with my friend (and now the band’s manager) about how I always wanted to start an Eagles tribute band and then Glenn Frey died a week later. I was shocked. Then I said to myself, now I HAVE to start this band!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: When you formed The Dark Desert Eagles, how did you select the musicians in the band?
PAT BADGER: The drummer from Extreme is also the drummer for Dark Desert Eagles. There is no one else I’d rather play with and we are on the same touring schedule so that is kind of a no-brainer. Some of the other guys came as recommendations from friends and other musicians. All very super talented guys!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: How is it different performing on stage with this band than with Extreme?
PAT BADGER: I have played bass and sang background vocals in Extreme for 30 years. In the Dark Desert Eagles, I sing the majority of the lead vocals and play rhythm guitar which comes as a huge challenge, but it’s been a blast and really rewarding!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: The Dark Desert Eagles have had several sold out shows. Did you expect the band would receive such a great response right out of the gate?
PAT BADGER: Well, like I said before, it is one of the most amazing catalogs of music, and there are a lot of Eagles fans out there. But, that being said, I had no idea that we would gain as much traction as we already have in less than a year. We are proud to say that we have sold out back to back nights in some really great venues, and we have also traveled out-of-state to places as far as Chicago and D.C., and have had the same reaction everywhere! People are lovin’ it!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: There are many tribute bands out there today that pay homage to a variety of classic rock groups. What sets The Dark Desert Eagles apart from some of the others?
PAT BADGER: Well there is a big difference in either being a cover band or being a tribute band. Let’s face it, most cover bands have day jobs and are not full time musicians. Cover bands play the music and whether they play the music well or poorly, either way they do not put any focus on the image.

As far as the Dark Desert Eagles goes, we are the only one that I know of that does the image part. We have taken a lot of cues from the Eagles documentary in the peak of their career which is arguably the Hotel California era. We transport people back in time to 1977! Or maybe it is that we are transported from 1977 into the future! LOL

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: On the band’s website, it states that “each of the musicians in the Dark Desert Eagles painstakingly re-creates the amazing soaring harmonies and music of the Eagles.” What songs ended up being the most difficult to recreate for a live setting?
PAT BADGER: For me personally, the biggest challenges have been to play the songs that are really chill, meaning relaxed and spacious with piano and acoustic guitars. Every song is also such a huge hit and everyone knows every word to songs like “Desperado” and “Hotel California,” so the pressure is on not to mess up a word, and musically to pull off some of the most famous classic rock songs of all time!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: The Dark Desert Eagles plays everything from the hits to fan favorites by the Eagles. Has there ever been consideration to performing any of their albums in their entirety?
PAT BADGER: We have talked about doing Hotel California in its entirety. The question then becomes what would you take out of the set if we were to do it and then do a second set of the greatest hits.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’ve heard the band also recreates some of the songs from the Eagles members’ solo careers. How does the band decide on that part of the set list considering the number of hits they have collectively had outside of the Eagles?
PAT BADGER: Originally we had talked about doing random songs from their solo careers but then decided on focusing on the era before they split up, so we do a few Joe Walsh solo and James Gang songs that the Eagles did at that point around ‘77.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What is your favorite Eagles album and why?
PAT BADGER: It’s hard to make an argument for any other than Hotel California. That being said, we play every song from their first greatest hits album except one, and nothing from Hotel California is even on it! Considering that it’s the best selling greatest hits of all times and the second best selling ALBUM of all times next to Thriller… it just emphasizes just how prolific their songwriting was.

For more information about The Dark Desert Eagles, visit their website HERE.

The Vault at Greasy Luck Brewpub is located at located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

Jeff Rapsis – Bringing sound to silent films

While you may know Jeff Rapsis as one of the co-owners of New Hampshire’s largest independent newspaper, The Hippo, he has also made a name for himself as a versatile silent film score composer,  providing accompaniment to nearly 300 films of all genres. (Just last year alone, he accompanied a jaw dropping 137 silent film programs!!!). What sets him apart from other composers is his improvisational style. He typically creates his compositions as he watches the film for the first time with the audience. Rapsis travels throughout New England, primarily in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, to perform at art houses, theaters, college campuses and libraries. This Sunday, February 18, 2018, he’ll provide accompaniment to the silent film Algol: A Tragedy of Power (1920) as part of the 43rd Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival’s 24-hour science fiction film marathon. (Click HERE to purchase tickets). Despite his buy schedule, we caught up with Rapsis on Friday and he was kind enough to answer our questions about his life and creating live musical scores for silent film screenings.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): You provide accompaniment to classic silent films. How did you get involved in doing this?

JEFF RAPSIS: I’ve loved music of all types since childhood, and was one of those weird kids who responded especially strongly to “classical” music. That led to piano lessons and lots of other musical activities from high school marching band to musical theater and even barbershop quartet singing. For most of high school, I was quite serious about becoming a composer of works for the symphony orchestra. At the same time, I had a music teacher in 7th grade who would show films during study hall, and these often included silent comedies such as Charlie Chaplin’s famous Mutual two-reel comedies from 1916 and 1917. Most of my classmates kept fooling around, but something about these older films captured my imagination. I’ve been a silent film junkie, more or less, ever since. After college, I turned to journalism and the written word for my career, and for the next 20 years did very little with music or film, although my interest in both fields never waned. I never stopped learning and thinking about these subjects, but the extent of my music-making was taking chorus roles in the productions of a local opera company. About the year 2000, I co-founded a weekly newspaper in New Hampshire called The Hippo, which focused on the arts. As the paper’s self-appointed “classical music writer” (because no one else had a background in the subject), I found myself mixing with musicians and attending performances and getting involved with the local music scene. This reawakened my desire to make music and to compose. And so when a local filmmaker named Bill Millios asked me for musical advice for a feature-length drama he was making, I leaped at the chance to compose the film’s score. Doing music for the film, Dangerous Crosswinds (2005), and having my cues played by musicians of the New Hampshire Philharmonic, to me felt like I was coming back to what I was meant to be doing all along. I wanted to do more, but in New Hampshire, there aren’t exactly a lot of directors throwing around opportunities to write film scores. So I noticed that a local venue, the Palace Theatre in Manchester, N.H., had no performance scheduled for Halloween, and so suggested they run Phantom of the Opera (1925) and I would do live music. I had tried doing silent film music a few times in the past, but always felt it was a field best left to specialists. Well, the Palace folks said yes, and so that Halloween I found myself at the keyboard of my digital synthesizer doing music for Lon Chaney scuttling about the catacombs of the Paris Opera House. Despite my best intentions, I didn’t have time to prepare much in  advance, and so was resigned to winging it and hoping for the best. And I was surprised to find that accompanying film in real time, with an audience present, was something that came quite naturally to me. I recall a growing sense of excitement as the film went on and I found I could create music right there that I felt helped it come together and absorb and audience. And I was able to use the musical material in different ways depending on what the film was doing, and how the audience reacted. I could do it! And it felt like I had wings. So this led to more screenings in other venues as I began to devote more time to exploring and learning the craft of creating live music for films without a soundtrack. To me, music and film turned out to be like chocolate and peanut butter. Two great things I always liked turned out to be even better together!

LM: I’ve read that your shows are very unique because you make up the compositions as you play them and sometimes as you watch the film for the first time with an audience. Can you elaborate on why you decided to take this approach?

JEFF RAPSIS: One practical reason is that as a full-time business owner and a busy schedule, I just don’t have a lot of time to make elaborate preparations in advance of a screening. Another reason is that this method makes use of my natural tendency to explore and experiment at the keyboard. As a teenager, I was a lousy piano student in that I would rarely have the patience to learn pieces written by others, no matter how well-crafted or worthy. Instead, I would start making up my own versions and going in different directions. So the seeds were there right at the beginning, and this kind of film accompaniment plays to my strengths as a musician. Also, I think a musical score created in the moment, in live performance, gives off a kind of unique energy in a way that a recorded or written-down score does not. If I was buried in sheet music, I don’t think I’d be as effective in helping a film connect with audiences. And I like the contrast between a vintage film, which has been fixed and unchanging for 90 or 100 years or more, and music that’s happening right there in the moment.

LM: What’s interesting is you don’t focus on providing accompaniment to any specific genre of silent films but a wide range of them. Are there any specific genres that lend themselves to your improv style more than others?

JEFF RAPSIS: Comedy is the most demanding genre because the music really needs to support what’s happening on the screen, but also stay in the background for a very basic reason: audience members need to hear each other laugh. This leads to the kind of contagious laughter that sometimes gets sparked during a show, and which is one of the great glories of the silent cinema. Once the house is roaring, you can amp up the music if you want. But before that, you need to do everything you can to keep it simple, almost nursery-rhyme-like, so that you don’t step on the laughs. Less is more! Also, because so much of comedy is timing, the musician must hone the same kind of instincts that the comedians had—when to stop, when to start, when to move, and so on. It can make the difference between a so-so screening and a true no-holds-barred howler. So if I can preview a comedy beforehand, it’s especially valuable because you get a much better idea of the film’s pacing and what kind of music will support the comedy, and you can just do a better job helping the laughs come naturally. Beyond comedy, my idiom seems to do best in big dramas that lend themselves to big sweeping musical gestures. Although there’s no one single “right” texture for silent film accompaniment, my own style is to work in a pretty conservative idiom rooted in the musical language of the late 19th century classical symphony orchestra: the works of Mahler and Richard Strauss. Shostakovich is a big influence, too. And I think this helpss me to bring out the big emotions in these films, no matter what genre. Drama, western, thriller, costume picture, whatever—silent film at its best is often about the BIG human emotions: Love with a capital L, or Joy, or Hate, or Envy. The stories are often built to bring out and celebration these big, basic emotions, which silent film, by virtue of lack of dialogue and other limitations, was uniquely geared to do. I don’t get that experience from any other medium, with the possible exception of opera, which is similar in that’s it’s often also about the big, basic emotions.

LM: There has been an increase in the number of silent films screened over the years across the country, particularly at art houses and horror and sci-fi movie marathons. What do you think is the cause of the silent film “boom”?

JEFF RAPSIS: After the transition to cinema with synchronized sound in the late 1920s, for a couple of generations nothing was more old-fashioned that silent movies. People saw them as a relic from a primitive era best left in the dustbin of history—we’ve moved on from that, haven’t we? And as a kid, I recall silent film clips on television or in certain “olde-time silent movies” being run at the wrong speed, to a kind of rinky-tink out-of-tune piano accompaniment, and generally being treated as a curious novelty, nothing more. Well, I think enough time has passed so that pretty much everyone around today has no direct experience with the silent cinema: the closest link might have been fading memories of a grandparent now long gone. And so because we haven’t known it, silent film is new to us in a way that it could never be to previous generations. Also, enough time as passed to make the films very interesting just for the basic things: how people dressed, ate, and behaved. How families acted, how people got around, what they did for fun—even the lousiest silent film is today an accidental treasure trove of information about daily life as it was lived in a byegone era, and brought to life in a way that no book or academic paper could do. So since about 1900, we have this amazingly rich accidental visual record of how people lived. Imagine if we had similar material from Shakespeare’s time, or from the time of Christ! I have a cousin who is no cinema buff, but he regularly attends silent film screenings I do because he loves seeing the old cars, the horses and the blacksmiths, and so much else. I also think that in an era where we increasingly find ourselves staring at a screen and interacting with people online, there’s a hunger for communal experiences that bring people together. How interesting that this aspect of silent film may be once again a key part of its appeal after all this time.

LM: Why do you think so many people today are becoming fascinated by the films of the past?

JEFF RAPSIS: I got into this topic in the previous question: how even the lousiest films from the silent era are a visual record of a bygone era. They bring to life the habits and customs of a vanished time in a way no history book can. But there’s also one other thing they do. Just as they are highlight how much has changed, they also contain a lot of info about what has NOT changed. They show, as no other art form can, how some things are unchanging aspects of the human condition: concern for one’s family and the community, the power of love to change so much, the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity, and so much more. These things, so important to the stories of so many films, were important long before cinema existed, and are important today, and will continue to be important for a very long time to come, I think. So if you’re not sure what’s ephemeral and what’s lasting in your own life, silent film acts as a kind of barometer to help guide you.

LM: I’m a firm believer that silent films should be seen in a theater with an audience. Do you agree with this statement and why?

JEFF RAPSIS: Yes, I do. For starters, the films were designed from the ground up to be seen in a large theater with an audience because that was the ONLY way to see them when they were being made. There was no home media like we have today. So silent films were almost universally geared for the large audience experience, which is very different from watching a film alone at home with just you and your dog or parakeet. The pacing, the way a story is presented, the way a character is presented—the reaction of a large audience to all of this was baked into films during the silent era. In many cases, filmmakers would preview their latest in-progress work to an audience to see how a sequence played, and whether or not it had any dead spots. Harold Lloyd was a pioneer of what became known as the “sneak preview,” as they were often unannounced. So if something got a big laugh, and then something else happened that was funny but the audience was still laughing at the first thing—well, then you’d go back and add some padding to accommodate the first big laugh and allow enough time for the second. So in many cases, the films were literally hand-crafted for the large audience experience! And it’s worth pointing out, I think, that this audience experience was one of the most important things about how the public first fell in love with the movies, and fell hard. It wasn’t necessarily because of techniques such as close-ups or location shooting or anything like that. It’s because most early film directors had extensive experience with live theatre, and they knew in their bones how to structure a story to get an audience hooked and keep watching and root for certain characters and all the things that make up an exciting time in the theater. With motion pictures, the same skills helped early pictures connect with audience. I think pioneer director D.W. Griffith doesn’t get enough credit for this aspect of his success. His background was in directing melodramas that traveled the small-town circuits—in these places, you had to get an audience hooked and keep them hooked, or they’d tar and feature you! So he know how to present a story to rile up an audience, and I think that’s one of the biggest things he brought to early motion pictures. It’s the REAL reason people fell in love with the movies.

LM: Besides performing in your home state of New Hampshire, you’ve done a lot of work at the Somerville Theatre for their silent film series called “Silents Please.” How did you get involved in this series and what do you like most about performing in that historic theater?

JEFF RAPSIS: I first came to the Somerville Theatre for the annual Boston Sci-Fi Marathon back in 2011, where I did live music for a screening of the very early 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While there, I met theater manager Ian Judge and head projectionist David Kornfeld. I was really impressed by their commitment to showing movies on real 35mm film, which was then being phased out by the studios in favor of digital formats. I was equally impressed by the brand new projection booth high up in “House One,” the Somerville’s main theatre. David described is as his “masterpiece,” and it really seemed so: equipped with every possible lens combination to screen prints in every format possible. They seemed to like what I did with 20,000 Leagues, and so Ian started the ‘Silents, Please!’ series after that with all titles in 35mm prints. I’ve been working with them ever since. Each year, we run eight to ten silent film programs, and we’ve built up an audience to where we often get well over 100 attendees, and occasionally many more. Highlights included a program of silent feature films starring W.C. Fields (yes, he was a popular star before talkies) for which his granddaughter, Dr. Harriet Fields, came up to Boston and told tales and answered questions about her iconic ancestor. What I like most about the theater, besides the people who manage and run it, is that it’s the real deal: an actual theater that was showing actual movies during the actual silent film era. So in that respect, if you want to recreate the total experience of attending silent film in a theater, you can’t do much better than the Somerville, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2014.

LM: Speaking of The Somerville Theatre, you are going to be providing accompaniment to the silent film Algol: A Tragedy of Power (1920) this Sunday, February 18, as part of the 43rd Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival’s 24-hour science fiction film marathon. Is this the first time you’ve ever performed music to this film? What instruments will you be using to accompany it?

JEFF RAPSIS: It’s Friday night as I write this, and we’re not doing Algol until Sunday, so it’s way too soon to think about it. Just kidding! Actually, I’d actually never heard of Algol until festival organizer Garen Daley mentioned he planned to run it. I’ve since seen the film once (in a sub-standard version at a very slow speed on YouTube), and to check it out at least once more to increase the odds of doing a good job. To accompany Algol, I’ll use my digital synthesizer, which is an 88-key Korg Triton LE model with weighted action. It’s actually an older model (from 2003, ancient as far as digital keyboards go) but it’s what I’ve used for years and I’ve found there’s nothing quite like it. Although the synth can produced an enormous range of sounds and textures, sometimes I augment its output with bells, whistles, and other sound-effects that provide variety without distracting from the film. For Algol, for some reason I want to bring along my bass tuba and use it as part of the score, but I’m not sure exactly how. We’ll see. I think if there’s any crowd that will respond to my bass tuba playing, it’s the sci-fi folks.

LM: You’re also the associate publisher of The Hippo which covers southern New Hampshire. How do you find the time to do everything you do?

JEFF RAPSIS: It’s a busy life, that’s for sure. I counted, and in 2017 I accompanied 137 separate silent film programs. This is in addition to working full-time as co-owner of the largest newspaper of any type published north of Boston, teaching courses in the Communications Department of UNH-Manchester, and sometimes sleeping and eating. Speaking of eating: our company is setting up a wholesale food distribution operation to go along with our newspaper delivery routes, so suddenly I’m in the artisan beef jerky business. But I enjoy staying busy, and in my own way I’m doing what composer Charles Ives did: while continuing to write music, he was also co-founder and partner in what became one of the largest insurance agencies in the United States. He would tell people that he felt his work in business helped his music, and his music helped his affairs in business. I find that to be very true. Also, I am blessed with a flexible schedule and a network of supportive people who made this pace possible. Personally, I don’t have many firm religious convictions, but I do believe this—our time here is limited, so it’s a shame not to make the very most out of every day we have.

LM:  Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview?

JEFF RAPSIS: I sometimes joke that accompanying silent films is “my personal therapy,” but that’s actually not far off the mark.

For more information about Rapsis or to view his upcoming schedule, check out his blog HERE.

MODERN ENGLISH – ROBBIE GREY PREVIEWS UPCOMING U.S. TOUR

BY J. KENNEY

Over the summer, Limelight Magazine had the opportunity to catch British rock band Modern English in concert at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The band was taking part in the month long Retro Futura tour that also featured Howard Jones, Men Without Hats, The English Beat, Paul Young and Katrina (formerly of Katrina and The Waves). It was our first time seeing any of these acts live in concert.

While we were impressed by everyone’s performance, Modern English’s short set was the highlight of the entire show. Rather than stick to their ‘80s material, the band included a new song in their set called “Moonbeam” which is featured on their most recent studio album Take Me To The Trees. The song had the audience on their feet with a standing ovation. Since I couldn’t get the song out of my head, I purchased the physical CD on Amazon after the show and I’ve been playing it non-stop ever since. The album had such an impact on me that I also purchased their other studio albums, including some from private sellers on E-bay.

Take Me To The Trees is the band’s first studio album in 30 years and features four-fifths of the original lineup. The album reconnects the band to their roots, as it was co-produced bv Martyn Young of Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S fame, whose last production job was 1986. The album’s cover was also done by Vaughan Oliver, whose first sleeve design was Modern English’s “Gathering Vibes” single in 1980.

Modern English is currently rehearsing for a fall tour of the U.S. that will hit ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, Mass., on November 13th. (Purchase tickets HERE). Despite his busy schedule, lead singer and guitarist Robbie Grey, who has been part of every incarnation of the band, answered some questions Limelight Magazine had for him about the Take Me To The Trees album and tour.

MODERN ENGLISH’S TAKE ME TO THE TRESS IS THEIR MOST RECENT STUDIO ALBUM AND FEATURES FOUR-FIFTHS OF THE ORIGINAL LINEUP.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): According to the band’s Facebook page, Modern English is currently rehearsing for their upcoming tour of the US. How are rehearsals going so far?

ROBBIE GREY: The rehearsals are going well. It’s great to be playing a mixture of really early Modern English material with the new album and figuring out how to arrange the set.

LM: Earlier this year, Modern English released its first album in over 30 years with four-fifths of the original line up. How was recording this album with this line-up different than recording your first three studio albums?

ROBBIE GREY: “Well we did the new album in our own art studio space using the art gallery as the live room. Before we always used recording studios. Also, using the music program logic was new to us. Recording over a couple of years was new as we could never afford that before using professional studios.”

LM: Do you have a favorite song off Take Me To The Trees and why is it your favorite?

ROBBIE GREY: “Trees” is my favourite. It reminds me of a film soundtrack. It’s very cinematic. I love the arrangement of the instrumentation. Also the lyric is very nature based. I like that.

LM: Take Me To The Trees was a PledgeMusic supported album. Why did the band choose to take this approach?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s the new way. Great to touch base with our fans. We were surprised after all the time away to do so well with the Pledges. We had a lot of control which was a real bonus.

LM: Does recording new music through a fan driven campaign create more or less pressure on the band than having the support of a record label to produce a hit single?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s a lot less pressure I think. No record company means no interference.

LM: Speaking of the new album, Take Me To The Trees is one of your best. I’ve played it non-stop since buying it on Amazon. At this point in time, do you know how much of the new album will be part of the set list for the upcoming US tour?

ROBBIE GREY: “Trees,” “Sweet Revenge,” “Moonbeam” will all be featured on the tour.

LM: As for the older songs, will you primarily focus on material from Mesh & Lace, After The Snow and Ricochet Days with the original line up or will there be songs from Stop Start, Pillow Lips, Everything Is Mad and Soundtrack as well?

ROBBIE GREY: The shows will feature songs from Take Me To The Trees, in addition to early 4AD singles and tracks from Mesh and Lace’ and After the Snow.

LM: I got to see you perform for the first time this summer in Providence, RI, on the Retro Futura tour. One of the highlights of your set was hearing “Moonbeam” from Take Me To The Trees. You were the only band to play a new song and the audience loved it. Many bands at retro shows typically stay away from performing new songs but you included one in your set. How do you feel when the audience appreciates your new music just as much as what you created in the past?

ROBBIE GREY: We agreed to the Retro Futura tour only if we could play new material. “Moonbeam” fit into the short set really well. People really liked it. Always good when new stuff goes down well.

LM: You’ve had various lineups of Modern English over the years. What makes recording and performing with this core group of individuals different than the rest?

ROBBIE GREY: It’s the original band. Always had a magic about it. There’s no comparison really. Get us in a music room and it works.

LM: You may have been asked this before but looking back on your long career with Modern English, what has been one of the biggest highlights for you personally?

ROBBIE GREY: “We just picked up an award in London for 5 million radio plays for “I Melt With You.” More than Bowie’s “Changes” and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” I mean that’s pretty good!

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

ROBBIE GREY: We always just want to make music. We’re still very creative. It’s an exciting feeling. I hope people can see that.

MODERN ENGLISH (PHOTO BY NIKOLAI PUC’ PHOTOGRAPHY)

It’s the ‘season’ for One Time Mountain

BY J. KENNEY

On Saturday, July 15th, One Time Mountain will release their full-length debut album, Seasons, at Gemstones in Lowell, Mass. Joining them on the bill will be Taken, The IV and One Hundred Thousand for a great night of rock music. While One Time Mountain has gone through a few lineup changes over the years, the current lineup has moved to a heavier rock direction which is evident by the songs on their catchy new disc. We recently caught up with the members of One Time Mountain who were looking forward to their CD release party on July 15th.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): One Time Mountain is nearing the release of its debut, full-length, studio album, Seasons. How long has it taken you to record this album? Are you pleased with the finished product?
JEFF BLUTE: It’s been about a year and a half, feels a lot longer, haha, but I’m very excited for this album. It’s our first full length album with 11 songs. All our past EP’s have been 4 to 5 songs.
BRIAN MURPHY: I’d say the whole kit and kaboodle took us about a year and a half, maybe a wee bit more. I am very happy with the outcome and am proud of the band for accomplishing what we have done. It wasn’t a milk and honey adventure, and it wasn’t crowd funded at all, so there were definite periods of time that being broke was just part of the ride. Hopefully, this album changes that, but we’ve accomplished a lot and have a lot to be proud of.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: Yes, I’m very pleased and extremely excited. [I] can’t wait to share such a great record with the world
MATT VALLIERE: I want to say it’s taken maybe two years. It’s definitely more than one year. It feels like a long time.

LM: You’ve released a couple of EPs since 2012. How has the band evolved over the past five years?
JEFF BLUTE: The band has gone through a few lineup changes so that has brought different influences into the mix. Now, with this lineup, the music has moved to heavier rock and metal feel with influences from Dream Theater, Periphery, Alter Bridge, and more.
BRIAN MURPHY: Well, we’ve had some serious lineup changes. Hopefully, everyone is here to stay this time around as we all really get along really well and have all sort of musically evolved together in the writing of this particular album.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: *whistles*
MATT VALLIERE: The music has definitely gotten a lot heavier. It rocks harder. I think we all have many different influences, but speaking for myself, my drumming is influenced much more by heavier, more complex music and our new singer, Alex, just has a voice that works well with it.

LM: Of the tracks on Seasons, do you have a favorite song and why?
JEFF BLUTE: My two favorites are “Rock & Roll” and “NLO.” “Rock & Roll” was a song that started off from some riffs that I wrote many years back. It was cool to finally see that come to life into a full song. I also got to write the guitar solo for it. “NLO” is cool because of the topic in the lyrics. I’m a believer that there is life outside Earth and it’s great to have lyrical content that isn’t the same old “love song.”
BRIAN MURPHY: I hate picking between children, but “Inertia” and Roads” are some of my favorites.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: I like them all equally. I think it’s an awesome album!
MATT VALLIERE: I would say “NLO” and “Roads” are my favorite. “Roads” because it’s a long epic song and it’s a lot of fun to play [with] many moving parts. “NLO” just rocks right out of the gate and it’s interesting from beginning to end. I think the lyrics and the overall subject matter is fun and satisfying.

LM: Every band has its own songwriting process. Can you elaborate on what works for One Time Mountain?
JEFF BLUTE: We would usually sit in a circle and someone would start with a riff or an idea and we would collaborate off that and try to make an order of it. We would jam it out a few times and record a scratch track as reference. Then we would go through and perfect each part and track it ourselves.
BRIAN MURPHY: We are a pretty flexible band, everyone can write, so everyone writes. We write our music together and alone and every which way needed to get the essence of the song expressed.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: Usually someone has an idea, a riff or whole structure for a new song and we go from there. I write vocal melodies and sometimes lyrics. We all are helping with arrangements here and there.
MATT VALLIERE: Usually someone will bring a guitar riff or melody to the band and we all kind of jam along to that. During the process, we’ll share ideas until we have a structure down. Then we need to record our parts and perfect them individually and then share it and mix it all together. So, for me, I’ll just lay down the beat to get a feel for all the parts. I’ll then perfect each part and play it slowly to develop exactly what I want the final result to be.

LM: You allowed us to preview seven tracks on the album. While they are all catchy tunes, our favorite is “Mistaken” which also happens to be the first single from that album. Can you tell us about that song and why you chose it as the lead off single?
JEFF BLUTE: This was a song that started with Alex and we wanted people to hear something new with Alex and what he brought to the table and our sound. We also enjoyed the idea of having a pretty heavy song. It was different from our past records but still had a very catchy chorus you can sing along with.
BRIAN MURPHY: That song is the first song the band wrote with Alex. We wanted to establish a new sound for the band that let people know we still mean business and that we are aiming to blow hair back. We found the best way to do that was through high energy metal.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: I think it was one of the first tunes we wrote as a band. I came up with that intro riff and told Brian my thoughts about how I see the other parts. So, he wrote verse and chorus, I added vocal melodies and lyrics, the guys added the rest, and here we are.
MATT VALLIERE: I think it was Alex who brought that intro riff to the band. We liked the idea of having heavy fast verses with a big open chorus to keep it interesting. The song has a catchy chorus while showcasing the harder side of our music, which makes it the single of choice.

LM: It’s obvious that Soundgarden is an influence on One Time Mountain. What was your reaction to Chris Cornell’s death?
JEFF BLUTE: I was shocked. It was definitely a real sad moment. I grew up loving Soundgarden when I was learning to play guitar and I would always attempt to play their songs. He was one of my favorite singers in the rock world.
BRIAN MURPHY: I couldn’t believe it, of all the people he was the last person I expected to go out like that. Just shows how different people can be inside versus out. Suicide isn’t something that should be taken lightly and we have a song on this album addressing that topic.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: It is sad. And the saddest thing here is not the death itself but what led to it.
MATT VALLIERE: I was as shocked as everyone. He was my mom’s favorite singer, other than Steven Tyler, so when I read the news at 5 a.m. that morning, my first thought was how sad she was going to be that day. I went and listened to a Spotify playlist of all his music. I always liked everything he was involved with though I never listened extensively. Nonetheless, it’s a huge loss and a real bummer.

LM: A lot of people say that hard rock and metal is a dying brand of music and then you release Seasons which proves the naysayers wrong. What do you like most about this genre of music? Is that satisfaction proving these people wrong?
JEFF BLUTE: I don’t think that it is a dying breed at all. I could say why people would think that because if you go to the Spotify Top U.S. Chart you won’t find any rock songs. At least not in the first 20 songs. But many people still listen to rock music and I’m excited to keep bring people more music.
BRIAN MURPHY: I like how broad rock and metal can be. You can have an album with 11 different songs in which none will sound remotely the same but can still fall under the same metal branch. That’s cool. I don’t really have much to prove to other people, just to myself, but I do enjoy when we turn heads, yes.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: We’ll see. I don’t want to prove someone wrong. I just wanna do the thing I love the most.
MATT VALLIERE: I grew up with rock so it’s always been there in my life. It just gives me energy and pushes all the right buttons. I never considered it a dying genre because it was always alive to me. I always find joy in trying to turn people on to it slowly. When asked to put pop, rap, and country songs on someone’s iPod, I’ll pull a “U2” and sneak one rock/metal song in there. Then over time, they might stop skipping over it and eventually grow to like it. The satisfaction comes from turning people on to new music and opening their mind.

LM: This has probably been asked before but how did the name for the band come about?
JEFF BLUTE: It was the line of song that was written by our previous singer Andrew Horn when he joined with me and Brian. He approached [us] with the name and we liked it because it was unique. There is a deep metaphorical meaning behind it but it’s pretty long, haha.
BRIAN MURPHY: Our old singer came up with it and my head hurts trying to explain it.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: *whistles again*
MATT VALLIERE: Once upon a time, there was a band called “One Time Mountain” who was looking for a drummer and, at the time, I happened to be looking for a band. So, I join them and for whatever reason, I never asked that common question. I assumed it was a Mad Lib or a band name generator result but rumor has it that there is indeed a more poetic, metaphorical meaning to the title.

LM: One Time Mountain’s CD release party will take place at Gemstones in Lowell, MA, on July 15th. What can your fans expect from this show?
JEFF BLUTE: It’s going to be a very exciting night with a lot of great rock and roll acts, lots of high energy. I’m so excited for people to finally hear what we’ve created.
BRIAN MURPHY: This is going to be one of the Crown Jewel events of the summer, especially for underground rock. We have the best bands joining us, and the community has really come together for this night. We are very excited and proud to be able to present it to you.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: They can definitely expect tons of great music from us and our friends in Taken, The IV and 100k and also a lot of pure fun!
MATT VALLIERE: A high-energy, awesome night of hard rock and roll. It’s going to be a blast and everyone will finally be able to hear the music we’ve been working on for so long.

LM: After the CD release party, what are your immediate and long-range plans for the band?
JEFF BLUTE: We will be looking to start playing more shows and even reaching out beyond New England. Hopefully, a small tour in the near future.
BRIAN MURPHY: We want to tour, get under some serious management. All that fun stuff.
ALEX NEKRYLAU: We’re planning to start touring and promoting the album as much as we can.
MATT VALLIERE: I would like to look into bigger shows, opening up for national acts, festivals, etc. Then, I’d say it’s time to hit the road and share the new music with new people.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
BRIAN MURPHY: Thank you very much for having us and thank you to all the fans that have followed us and stayed with us from day one.

Gracelyn Rennick uses music as her ‘Saving Grace’ to overcome challenges and help others

Photo by Michelle Rennick of ThatChixPix.

Gracelyn Rennick is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from Rhode Island. She plays a number of instruments, including guitar, ukelele, piano and drums. She has been writing and performing her own songs since early 2013 and released her debut album, Saving Grace, in 2015. Last September, her original song “Like The Stars” won the pop/contemporary “Song of the Year” Award at the Josie Music Awards in Nashville, TN, and she plans to release more songs in the future. Rennick has also suffered from multiple chronic illnesses and has used her music to overcome any challenges she has faced. We recently interviewed with Rennick who hopes to play more gigs outside of New England in the future.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You released your first CD, Saving Grace, in 2015 when you were 16. Since then, you’ve released two singles – “Like The Stars” and “Already Gone.” Do you have plans to record any more songs for another CD?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Right now, I am focusing on my writing and making sure that I have enough new songs, if I do end up making an album in the future. I am always writing, so you never know when I am going to drop a single or something like that. I can be very unpredictable when it comes to releasing music, which is pretty cool to my fans; for me to be able to spring a new song on them.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Last September, “Like The Stars” won the pop/contemporary “Song of the Year” Award at the Josie Music Awards in Nashville, TN. How did you feel about receiving that award for that song?

GRACELYN RENNICK: When I found out that “Like The Stars” was nominated, it was an incredible feeling and I felt so blessed. When we attended the award show, we really didn’t have high hopes about winning any of the awards that I was nominated for, especially “Song of the Year” since there were so many amazing songs being nominated in that category as well. When they announced my name and song as the winner, at first, I didn’t believe it. But, I was so humbled to have received the award and it is still, to this day, one of my biggest accomplishments.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Everyone has their own songwriting process. Could you elaborate on yours?

GRACELYN RENNICK: My songwriting process is all over the place. Some days I just go into my room with an idea or with a short lyric, grab my guitar, and just go. Other times, I have a whole song in lyric form already written and I have to put music to it or vice versa. I find it easier to write what comes naturally, rather than writing from a theme. A lot of my songs are based from life experiences, but I never really can tell until after I have written the song. I never know what my songs are about until after I analyze them. I write in a more general, indirect way, so that more people can relate to my songs and make them what they want to hear.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: In your biography online, it says that you’ve suffered from chronic illnesses, including neurological Lyme disease, Mitochondrial disorder, seizure disorder and neurotoxin illness but you’ve thrived with your music. How has your music helped you overcome any health-related challenges you’ve had?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Music was my solution to being happy again. When I was sick, I had no friends, I didn’t go to school for two years, or really even leave my house. I didn’t have much, other than what was right in front of me. I started to take up classical piano on my own, which really was a step in the right direction for me because I found joy in the keys. As I got healthier, I picked up my guitar, which I hadn’t touched in years, and started to strum. Thus, beginning my singer/songwriter and performing career. Writing songs and performing them for people gave me more happiness than I think I have ever had and that is how music helped me through my health challenges.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’ve also used your music to raise awareness for a number of chronic diseases and to help other people. Could you tell us some of the causes you personally support?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I have plans in the future to release one of my originals, “You’ll Be OK,” and have the proceeds go to suicide prevention organizations. I wrote that song about a really tough time in my life when I thought there was no way out. I wrote it about HAVING an out and that, no matter what happens, you’ll be ok. I also perform my music at events for The Epilepsy Foundation of New England. I suffer from a seizure disorder myself, so I try to help out with them as much as I can. In addition to that, I put together a fundraising show in 2015 for a woman who was suffering from cancer and her family. I ended up raising over $3,000 dollars in ticket sales and merchandise.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What do you like most about doing charity work?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I like the feeling I get when I know that I have helped or am helping someone or a community. I usually work with organizations that hit close to home for me, so it’s helpful for them to know that I understand what they’re going through because I’ve been through it as well. It’s also like a sigh of relief for me, knowing that I am not alone in this world. As much as I may help other people, little do they know, that they help me as well.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’ve read that you asked your parents for a guitar when you were nine-years old. A lot of children want an instrument at a young age but they never really pursue it. What motivated you to stick with it?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I think the answer is plain and simple. It’s what I wanted to do. As crazy as it may seem, at just nine years old, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was absolutely determined to make sure that I didn’t let that dream slip out of my fingers.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Who are some of your influences in the music industry?

GRACELYN RENNICK: My very first musical inspiration was Luke Bryan. I started listening to his music around the same time that I started writing my own. My whole first album has a lot of influences from him on it, and other country artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, etc. As I started to get older and become independent in the type of music I listened to, I started to find inspirations in bands as artists, such as, All Time Low, PVRIS, Halsey, The 1975, and Set it Off. Nowadays, I am finding my music to be more like Kelsea Ballerini or Maren Morris. But, with all of those artists aside, I would have to say that my biggest musical inspiration is Ed Sheeran. I mean, have you seen that guy perform…he’s insane!!!! I aspire in every way to be like him.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’ve opened for a number of national acts, including Lee DeWyze and Howie Day. What do you like most about performing live?

GRACELYN RENNICK:: I feed off of the energy of the crowd. Being able to look out and see people listening to your music, and the occasional people actually singing your music, is what keeps me going. It’s an incredible feeling to actually be listened to, rather than when you’re playing in a restaurant and no one could care less about you or what you’re singing. Performing is my favorite part of the whole shebang, I would take it over writing any day.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Speaking of performing, you’ve become a regular at Joey Kramer’s Rockin’ & Roastin’ in N. Attleboro, MA. Have you had the opportunity to meet Joey? Do you like playing there?

GRACELYN RENNICK: I work at Rockin’ & Roastin’ as a Barista in addition to my music career. I also host an open mic there! Its a really awesome place and the open mic’s every Tuesday are so much fun! I have met Joey a couple of times. The first time I met him, I had him sign my old Takamine guitar and he kept telling me how nice of a guitar it was! It was a super cool experience since Aerosmith has always been huge inspiration of mine.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What are some of your plans for the future?

GRACELYN RENNICK: Well, for the near future I am going to be trying to play more gigs around the New England area and always writing new stuff. More further in the future, my goal is to start touring and doing shows outside of my little box that I normally play in in New England. I will also be attending the 2017 Josie Music Awards in Nasvhille in September!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Is there anything you’d like to add?

GRACELYN RENNICK: If you’d like to see where I am performing next, or want to see what I’m doing with my music check out all my links!

Website: http://gracelynmusic.com/index.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GracelynMusic
ReverbNation: Gracelyn Music

Kate Eppers finds ‘The Wishing Well’

BY JAY KENNEY

Kate Eppers is a singer, songwriter and actress from Salem, Mass., who just released her catchy debut album The Wishing Well. The album contains seven songs with each song telling a story of the stages Eppers was going through in the summer of 2014. It starts off sad, angry, confused, as she was going through something very traumatic at the time. Then, the songs change, transitioning to the soundtrack of a truly euphonic state, as she was falling madly in love. The album ends with an instrumental that is compilation of all the songs on the album. After listening to it from start to finish, we knew she was someone we wanted to feature in Limelight Magazine. What follows is our interview with Eppers where she candidly answered our questions about her album, acting career and some other interesting things.

Kate Eppers debut solo album is called “The Wishing Well” (PHOTO BY JEREMY DORSON PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY KATE EPPERS)

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): You just released your debut studio album The Wishing Well on March 17th. You started the songwriting process in 2014 and it finally came to fruition three years later. How do you feel about the finished product?

KATE EPPERS: I feel the album came out completely different than I thought it would, better than I ever dreamed. Originally, I thought this was going to be a three song EP, but the songs just kept coming. They flew out of me in such a brief period, less than two months. I wrote most of the songs on my keyboard. I knew I would keep the piano in most of them but I never imagined what the songs would evolve into through the production process. “Burn This City to the Ground” was powerful enough in its organic state of piano and vocals, but once the guitars, strings, and toms were brought in, the song took an even darker turn. “Follow Me” was beautiful to me in its simplicity, but once flutes, drums and dreamy flowing strings were incorporated, it became almost unrecognizable. The results are very satisfying, reminiscent of Disney I’ve been told. The Wishing Well now as a completed album has surprised me as the songs took on a life of their own. I am surprised at what the evolution of the music produced, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

LM: Your album has a theme to it, with each song telling a story of the stages you were going through in the summer of 2014. Can you elaborate on this for our readers because understating the order of songs and how the record flows adds a special dimension to it? 

KATE EPPERS: This album truly is a time stamp of my life during the summer of 2014, except for “Prove That You’re Real” which I wrote years prior. The songs were written as I was experiencing extreme pain and extreme happiness (mostly happiness). At times my feelings were simultaneous with the writing of the songs. Other times the writing took place after the fact when I was in a place, a state where I was better able to channel those emotions into the creation of a song. The songs were specifically placed in consecutive order of which they were written. “Silence” begins my story which is a somber song of betrayal and sorrow. Following this was “For Me There’s Only You” in which I crafted a song using my fantasy obsessed imagination. This was a tale of an immortal woman searching for her long dead lover. I had the chorus and melody in my head for years, but had never moved forward with bringing it life. “Burn This City to the Ground” was a poem I wrote to deal with the same trauma I was going through when I wrote “Silence”. The decision to turn this into a song was ultra-challenging, as I have never written words before music before. Upon completion of writing this song, I was elated as it turned out as I had hoped. [It’s] dark, dramatic, and melodic. The next two songs “Follow Me” and “The Wishing Well” flowed out of me in such a natural way as I fell in love again (intensely). I fell into a state of euphoria in which I had never experienced or knew possible! I hope this comes through in the album – a feeling of pure happiness, of dreams coming true.

LM: Of the seven songs on the album, do you have a particular favorite and why?

KATE EPPERS: An honorable mention would be “Follow me”. It was my way of asking the man I was falling in love with to be with me always, to never leave my side. However, I would say the title track “The Wishing Well” is my absolute favorite, mostly due to the severe emotionality and honesty it represents. I was falling so deeply in love, and existing in such a magical world when I wrote this. This song personifies the passion and intensity of that relationship, of that blessed moment in time. When I listen to it, I get intense chills as powerful images and feelings are awoken. It’s so overpowering that I cannot always listen.

LM: The final song on the album is an instrumental compilation of tracks called “Medley of the Melodies.” This adds a nice touch. Why did you decide to close the album like this? 

KATE EPPERS: About halfway through the recording process of this album, I started playing around on the piano attempting to see if any of the songs fit into each other. I imagined a medley would be a fun and creative way to wrap up the journey that these songs take you through. It’s a way to recap all the collective melodies which represent my words, my heart and my life. Originally, it was just going to be piano. Upon the completion of recording the medley, I longed to hear other instruments and plug-ins dancing around the keys. I also thought it would be a treat to hear the melodies from The Wishing Well come alive in another way. It was exciting to hear parts of “For Me There’s Only You” with dark undertones, an organ and a chorus! “Follow me” turned string heavy and classical, romantic. “Medley of the Melodies” was the very last song completed on the album.

LM: After listening to The Wishing Well, many of the songs have a Blackmore’s Night vibe making them very unique. You’re vocal style is also similar to their vocalist Candice Night. Were you familiar with Blackmore’s Night when you recorded the album? Has anyone else compared you to them?

KATE EPPERS: What’s funny is last week an actor I worked with on an independent film sent me a message asking if I had ever heard of Blackmore’s Night. He stated it strongly reminded him of my music. I was not familiar with them and now I am absolutely a fan. “Magical Night” sounds like a beautiful, medieval, Celtic fantasy come to life! Any comparison between me and them is a huge compliment that I’m happy to take. Candace Night has such a unique, sweet voice. Music that evokes fantastical imagery is something that I will be hooked on immediately.

LM: Who are some of your biggest influences in the music industry that impacted the recording of The Wishing Well or inspired you to be a singer-songwriter?

KATE EPPERS: I grew up adoring Mariah Carey, as well as obsessively singing and listening to all Disney music. (I still LOVE Disney and was in Disneyworld and Disneyland this year). As a tween, I went to a Tori Amos concert and was fortunate enough to meet her. I went with a good friend and her father was friends with the amazing Matt Chamberlain who at the time was Tori’s drummer. Tori was so sweet and kind and I became a super fan. She heavily influenced me with her beautiful, operatic voice flowing through her piano heavy, unique, experimental songs. She truly does not fit into one specific genre, and her songs can change their sound from album to album. My favorite album of hers, if I had to pick one, would be To Venus and Back. “Concertina” may be my favorite Tori Amos song of all time.

LM: Do you plan to do any touring to support your new album?

KATE EPPERS: I am hoping to have a CD release show sooner than later! I have to gather the pieces all together. Stay tuned for CD release show information as it’s scheduled. In the meantime, I play with my cover band (Teal Street Band) typically at weddings and private parties. We will be at Bunratty tavern in Reading, Mass., on Thursday, June 15, from 7 to 10pm.

LM: Along with the new album, you’ve recently updated your website, kateepers.com. Besides this site, what other ways can people access your music online?

KATE EPPERS: I am happy to announce kateeppers.com is live! In addition to this I have a very active YouTube page with the music video “For Me There’s Only You” from The Wishing Well. (Click HERE to view this video). This video was filmed in my hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, by Astropiano films. My music can be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon, or streamed  free on Spotify, SoundCloud and Reverbnation. My website also offers a few free downloads.

LM: Outside of music, you are also an actress. You have a cool demo reel on Vimeo. Do you have any acting or film related projects in the works?

KATE EPPERS: I had the pleasure of playing a lead in the upcoming film entitled The Chair from Bald Dog Productions. It was filmed in Boston at the end of 2016 and is now in post-production. This is a 1920s-themed period film. I have a song in the movie called “Show You A Good Time”. This was co-written by the insanely talented Boston rock band One Time Mountain! From writing and producing the song with OTM, all the way to filming my scenes, it was an unbelievable experience. I can’t wait for the film to be done. I am also just beginning to study a script for an upcoming horror movie in which I will be contributing music to as well.

LM: Do you have a preference for music or acting or do you like both equally?

KATE EPPERS: It’s hard to pick just one. I adore being part of a project which incorporates both of my favorite things, music and acting. I have found the act of completing an album to be so exciting and fulfilling. With that being said, there is nothing more fun than being part of a live musical theater show with an incredible cast dancing and singing all around you! Before having my own music video, I was featured in eight or so music videos for other artists, typically playing “the girl” in the video. Performing in music videos is crazy fun and addictive. It’s another example of incorporating acting and music together. It’s me completely in my element.

LM: Anything you’d like to add to this interview?

KATE EPPERS: Thank you so much to Limelight Magazine for taking the time to listen to my album and allow me to open up about something so personal and pivotal in my life. I appreciate it so very much! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share.

Kate Eppers (PHOTO BY LEE MAC PHOTO, SUBMITTED BY KATE EPPERS)