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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: Everyone has their own songwriting process. Could you elaborate on yours?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: What do you like most about doing charity work?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: Who are some of your influences in the music industry?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: You’ve opened for a number of national acts, including Lee DeWyze and Howie Day. What do you like most about performing live?
GRACELYNRENNICK:: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: 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?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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.
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: What are some of your plans for the future?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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!
LIMELIGHTMAGAZINE: Is there anything you’d like to add?
GRACELYNRENNICK: 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!
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.
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.
I have been writing for Limelight Magazine for six months and unfortunately my time here has ended. While many of you may have seen my articles for Limelight or have met me in person at shows hosted by JKB Entertainment Group, you may not know that I have actually been an intern.
As a student at Endicott College with a major in English with a creative writing concentration and a music minor, I decided to do my senior internship under the guidance of Katie and Jay, the co-owners of both JKB Entertainment Group and Limelight Magazine. I chose this internship because Limelight was my favorite local music magazine and after meeting Katie and Jay I knew we would gel well together. I couldn’t have been more correct.
Interning for Limelight has been an amazing and truly rewarding experience. While I was given many intern-like responsibilities through my work for JKB, I was also a full time staff writer for Limelight. For JKB, I worked many shows and got to meet some awesome people – both musicians and fans. For Limelight, I was given the opportunity to interview many amazing musicians, business owners, and other people within the music industry and write articles about them. I interviewed local musicians and bands such as Sarah Barrios, Liz Bills (of Analog Heart), blindspot, Erinn Brown, Nikki Coogan (of The Devil’s Twins), Exit 18, Flight of Fire, Girls, Guns and Glory, Shanna Jackman, Ashley Jordan, Jenna Lotti, Martin and Kelly, Dan Masterson, MB Padfield, Sinners Inc., and Matt York, and also several national acts such as Paul Bielatowicz, Black ‘N Blue, Journeyman – A Tribute to Eric Clapton, MASS, Motion Device, Leather Leone, Joan Osborne, and Trevor Rabin.
I also had the opportunity to write featured stories on several businesses and nonprofits, including Cable Car Cinema and Café, Coolidge Corner Theatre’s After Midnight Program, Dark Delicacies, Fright Rags, Hudson Horror Show, Mouradian Guitar Company, Purchase Street Records, Narrows Center for the Arts, The Time Capsule, and TJ’s Music All Star Band Program.
I interviewed director Justin Mayoh about his film Tales of Rocky Point Park and author J. Blake Fichera about his book Scored to Death. I also wrote a few themed stories which focused on a variety of subjects such as vinyl, tattoos, fitness, and more. These stories included quotes from many musicians, fitness trainers, business owners and music fans: Erin Ollis, Amy Marie, Amanda McCarty, Nina McGoff, Sarah Barrios, Emil Belisle, Paul Horton, John MacFee, Hailey Magee, Brian McKenzie, Jennifer Mitchell, Moment of Clarity, Christopher Ruiz, Allison Sigrist, Emile Belisle, Nikki Coogan, April Cushman, Mike LaRoche, Ken Macy, Stan Matthews, Ryan Stark, Arline Urquhart, Mark Vinciguerra and spokesmen from Burlington Records, Cheapo Records, In Your Year Records, Joe’s Albums, Music Connection, Nuggets Records, Round Again Records, Skele-tone Records, Spun Records and Sunset Records.
I also interviewed JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine’s co-owner Katie Botelho-Bielatowicz about nail art designs and how to book shows. In addition, I contributed to a tribute story on Bob Coburn of Rockline by interviewing Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull), Rik Emmett (of Triumph) Shaun Hague (of Journeyman – A Tribute to Eric Clapton) and a number of Limelight’s loyal readers.
I am hugely grateful towards both Katie and Jay for taking me on as an intern, teaching me the ropes to write articles and host shows, being patient with me, buying me food, and keeping me entertained. I truly enjoyed the wonderful experiences I had while working for the both of them.
Some of my most memorable moments includes driving to Rhode Island to watch Jay get a David Bowie “Blackstar” tattoo while I interviewed the tattoo artist and musician Nikki Coogan (of The Devil’s Twins). I will also never forget the night I got to help Katie and her husband (and national touring guitarist) Paul Bielatowicz judge JBK Entertainment Group’s Opening Act Contest held at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass.. Along with the amazing people I met at that show, I will never forget the jaw-dropping performance put on by Flight of Fire, which ended up being a band I have stayed in contact with, written an article about, and assisted when they opened for Lita Ford.
For JKB Entertainment, I was able to help host shows for a variety of different artists such as Blackmore’s Night, Opening Act Contest (Elsie [featuring Lisa Couto & Ray Cooke], Flight of Fire, Allison & Kevin Giuliano, Huxster, Gracelyn Rennick, Ilene Springer, We Own Land, and Matt York), The Yardbirds, Lita Ford, and Paul Bielatowicz & Simon Fitzpatrick.
It was great to be part of the Fall River community if only for a short period of time. Before this internship, I had never been to Fall River. Being a Bostonian myself, I learned to love Fall River and the surrounding towns due to the truly passionate and creative people I had the opportunity of meeting and working with. I am thankful to every business owner who invited me into their store and took the time to answer my interview questions. I am thankful for everyone who picked up their phones or sat by their e-mails answering my interview questions.
Thank you to Katie and Jay for all they have done and thank you to all the other helpful people I have met through them. This internship was truly a blast! I am grateful for all the tools I have learned along the way and will continue reading, writing, and being an avid music fan.
Whether you called them glam bands or hair bands, this subgenre of heavy metal and hard rock music consists of big hair, tight pants, and nostalgic music. Glam bands played rock songs full of rage, sentiment, and electric chaos. The genre was pioneered by bands such as Mötley Crüe, Cinderella, Poison, Dokken, Ratt, and Bon Jovi and it thrived mostly in the mid-80s to early 90s until grunge came along.
Sleeze Beez is a glam metal band that formed in 1987. Originating in The Netherlands, the band’s classic lineup consisted of Chriz Van Jaarsveld, Jan Koster, Don Van Spall, Ed Jongsma, and Andrew Elt. They released four studio albums between 1987 and 1994. Their most popular being Screwed Blued & Tattooed which was released in 1990 and cracked the Billboard Top 200 albums chart on the strength of their single “Stranger Than Paradise” that was prominently featured on MTV.
Koster, one of the band’s founding members and dedicated drummer, struggled with a wrist injury for years and finally decided to give up playing in 1996. The band decided to call it quits after the release of their fourth studio album Insanity Beach, but reunited briefly in 2010 when they played two reunion shows.
On the eve of the band’s 30th anniversary in 2017, Limelight Magazine caught up with one of Sleeze Beez’s founding members and guitarist Chriz Van Jaarsveld who reflected on the band’s history.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): Sleeze Beez formed in 1987 and 2017 is your 30th anniversary. Although the band broke up in 1996 and reunited briefly in 2010, why do you feel that so many people are still interested in the band and your four studio albums?
CHRIZ VAN JAARSVELD (CVJ): It’s great to see that our music is still alive at this day and age. Back in the day, we worked hard to get recognition and our input was relentless. We weren’t just a band, it was a way of life; non-stop dedication so I consider it rewarding and a compliment. It is great to know that our music lives on.
LM: Looking back on your nine years together from 1987 to 1996, what would have been the biggest highlight for the band and why?
CVJ: I reckon that the biggest highlight for us was that we got signed by a major label (Atlantic Records) for a worldwide deal and got the opportunity to cross the Atlantic. When we started touring the U.S., “Stranger Than Paradise” was climbing the charts. The video clip was all over MTV and we easily adapted to the rockstar lifestyle. We took the stage by storm. It was great. It was what we wanted.
LM: After releasing your debut album, Sleeze Beez changed vocalists for their second album, Screwed, Blued & Tattooed. Why did you change vocalists and how did the addition of Andrew Elt provide stability and propel the band to more success?
CVJ: It simply didn’t work out with the first singer. [There were] problems on a personal level and musical differences. The same old stuff. We brought in another singer, who filled the gap briefly but he actually couldn’t keep up with us. Round that time, I met Andrew at an “All Star” jam session organized by rock magazine Metal Hammer. Andrew and I shared the same bill. We actually didn’t gel that well because we both had similar ego’s [and] a certain attitude towards each other. (Later on, we became friends of course, brothers in arms). But, I acknowledged his qualities as a singer and performer and we unmistakably had some strong musical chemistry going on on stage, with mutual respect. So, when Sleeze Beez needed a new singer, I called Andrew up and asked him to come over to the studio. At first, he wasn’t that keen on it but when I went to a gig he did with his band and played him some of the stuff we’d been working on (I played him some tunes right there in the dressing room on a crappy cassette player under the noses of his fellow band mates who were not too pleased by that) he was instantly intrigued. When he came over to the studio, he was totally blown away by the new material. Jan, Ed, Don, and me were a solid unit already, ready to take on the world. Andrew was the last piece of the puzzle. From then on, we were ready for takeoff.
LM: In preparing for this interview, you mentioned that you listened to Screwed, Blued and Tattooed for the first time in years. That album charted in the U.S. on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. What can you objectively say about that album after so many years have passed?
CVJ: I´m a bit of an “audiophile” and I got this great vintage amp recently. One night I listened to all kinds of music and when plowing through my CD collection I came across a copy of Screwed. For the first time in like 20 years I sat down and listened to the whole album. Objective, as if I heard it for the first time. It was quite an experience, really. I always only kept on hearing the flaws or parts that I found disturbing and could have been better (in my opinion). I’ve never been able to listen to it without analyzing (same goes for other albums we did or I’m on) but now I could really just sit down and enjoy the ride. I really enjoyed it actually, and I can imagine why it did for us what it did. There’s a great energy about it. Good tunes too. I actually played air guitar to it.
LM: You were also signed to a major label, Atlantic Records, for that album. How did you end up getting signed to them?
CVJ: After Screwed, Blued & Tattooed was recorded, we knew we had something good. So we started “shopping” the album to get it noticed by the bigger labels. When we did, we realized that the rumor was going around already. People heard of us, talked about us, and were interested or eager even, also due to our live shows. We had several executives from big labels coming over to the Netherlands to meet up and negotiate a possible deal. When Atlantic made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, we finally closed the deal. Atlantic was a huge player in the market, of course, and had many of our own heroes under their wing so we considered it a great opportunity to sign with them.
LM: On the strength of the hit single “Stranger Than Paradise,” from Screwed, Blued and Tattooed, the band did nearly 80 headline shows throughout the U.S. and Canada that year. What do you recall about that tour? Did you have any venues that stood out?
CVJ: We actually did a bit more. We crammed a whole bunch of shows in a relatively short period of time. I recall that it was one wild ride. “Stranger Than Paradise” was climbing the charts and the video was all over MTV. (Click HERE to see the video). Good reviews in magazines and radio airplay. We got quite a decent fan base that started following us around. We lived the rockstar lifestyle to the brink and enjoyed every minute of it (and every aspect for that matter.) We crossed the US in a frenzy, and rock ‘n rolled from city to city and the names of the places and venues became a blur (just like that part in the Spinal Tap movie where the band doesn’t know where they are anymore, shouting “Hello Cleveland!” That happened to us too and a lot of the other stuff as well, by the way). Also, it’s been a while ago too, of course, we are talking the beginning of the 90’s here. We played most of the venues and clubs that were known around that time. It was a blast!
LM: According to the biography on your website, your third studio album, Powertool, took three years to complete due to continuous struggle between the band and the label. What were some of the difficulties with Atlantic Records that came about that you’re able to say after all these years?
CVJ: We had most of the material for Powertool ready straight away, really. After Screwed, Blued and Tattooed, we continued writing and recording demos. The thing was that Atlantic felt that the music didn’t have the same output, the same vibe as Screwed had, so they tried to hook us up with other writers and a producer. They flew us to L.A. and stuck us somewhere in Hollywood to write new material but that did not work for us. Although we were willing to collaborate, we stood our ground at the same time. Eventually we ended up in England, where we finally recorded the album, with producer Gary Lyons. The sessions went really well and Powertool saw the light of day fairly quickly. The thing was, though, that the Seattle Grunge scene emerged and spread like wildfire, right around the time Powertool came out. The record companies considered grunge the next big thing so they didn’t put much effort in bands like us anymore. They signed The Stone Temple Pilots in our place and after some struggle with lawyers, we were released from further obligations. Powertool had been released too late. If it would have been released on schedule, things would have turned out different, I’m sure.
LM: Sleeze Beez fourth studio album, Insanity Beach, is one that Limelight Magazine enjoys very much. This album is more aggressive and hard-edged than anything you did before. Why did you take this direction at the time?
CVJ: It was just a natural course our music took. It was how we evolved. Maybe it was a sign of the times as well. There was a lot of tension in the band back then, which oozes through the music as well. Also, the production is more heavy, a fatter sound. It’s a bit more dark, compared to its predecessors but a fine album nevertheless. Glad you guys like it!
LM: Is it true that the band was planning to tour behind this album but disbanded before you could go on the road?
CVJ: Yeah, we had a tour planned and everything. But the truth is that we weren’t the band we used to be anymore. We’d outgrown each other over time and the ranks got divided. We weren’t a unit anymore. When the mutual spark is gone, it is better to part ways. It was the best thing to do, also to the fans: it wouldn’t be sincere to continue. So, we decided to call it quits.
LM: A lot of founding band members today keep the name and add members and perform the songs they recorded with a new lineup. Was there ever any thought about putting a new band together with the name Sleeze Beez after the 1996 break up?
CVJ: It has been asked or suggested a couple of times by managers and people out of the music biz but we’ve never considered it. It would be betrayal. Although we had our differences at the time we broke up, we came out stronger. We are like brothers. We would never do such a thing. Sleeze Beez would not be that same band without any of its original members. Replace one or leave one out and the chemistry and magic are gone. It’s the sum of the parts that make the difference.
LM: Sleeze Beez reunited in 2010 & 2011 for two shows, including a slot opening for Aerosmith in the Netherlands. How did the reunion come about?
CVJ: We were asked by a well-known Dutch agency to open for Aerosmith. They thought it would be a great event that way; The Beez reuniting on a bill like that. We actually liked the idea so we got together just for that event. Afterwards, we liked it so much that we decided to do one more gig at the legendary Paradiso in our hometown of Amsterdam – a farewell show as a closure that never happened back in the day. For the fans and for us, it was absolutely fabulous.
LM: How do you feel both reunion shows went?
CVJ: It was great to hit the stage again together after all this time. When we got on stage at the Gelredome Stadium, we saw that the front rows were filled with Beez fans. It was amazing.
LM: Given that 2017 is Sleeze Beez 30th anniversary year, are there any plans to do another reunion?
CVJ: Not at the moment but never say never…
LM: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
CVJ: Back in 1987, when Jan (Koster) and I started this band, we had actually only one song to our name; “Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty” and the record company wanted to sign us and give us studio time to record an album just on that one song only. Problem was we didn’t really have a band but we’d told the record company we did, to get a record deal. So, when we started recording the very first (and now obscure) Look Like Hell album, it was actually just the two of us, Jan and me, together with an engineer. We lived in the studio and we worked non-stop. We wrote a song in the morning, recorded it in the afternoon, and we did the mixing at night. Besides our own instruments we played all the instruments together. In the meantime, we got hooked up with a singer and in between recordings, we were frantically looking for a second guitarist and a bass player. We held auditions in the studio. When Don (Van Spall) came in and we jammed a bit, we knew he was the right guy for the job. He brought Ed (Jongsma) along, a solid bass player. We finished the last recordings with them. When the album was done, we had a band at the same time. That’s how it started and the rest is history.
Following our interview with Chriz Van Jaarsveld, we re-listened to Sleeze Beez four studio albums and put together our 10 favorite songs. We consider this an “essential playlist” of their music. If there were ever a compilation CD, we’d hope these tracks would make the cut.
“Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t” (Screwed Blued & Tattooed)
“Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty” (Look Like Hell)
“Raise A Little Hell” (Powertool)
“Rock In The Western World” (Screwed Blued & Tattooed)
“Save Myself” (Insanity Beach)
“Screwed Blue ‘N Tattooed” (Screwed Blued & Tattooed)
“Stranger Than Paradise” (Screwed Blued & Tattooed)
Today, March 9, 2017, marks 10 years since the passing of BOSTON, RTZ, and Beatlejuice vocalist Brad Delp. On Thursday, February 22, 2007, Limelight Magazine conducted a one-hour interview over the phone with Delp from his home in Atkinson, NH. According to our research and a source that was close to Delp, it was his last in-depth print interview before he died on March 9, 2007. While we were planning to write a story about Delp, Beatlejuice and BOSTON at the time, we decided to run this interview as a Q&A in our debut print issue that was released in the summer of 2007. Since then, this has been our most requested interview to read and we decided to post it on our website for the first time on the 10th anniversary of Delp’s death as a way to remember his legacy and extraordinary talent. Below is the word for word text of that interview.
Brad: Hi. This is Brad Delp calling. How are you?
Limelight Magazine (LM): I’m very good. How are you?
Brad: I’m well, thanks, doing good.
LM: We’re starting a new publication, called Limelight Magazine, that’s going to focus on the music of New England and we just want to ask you a few questions about Beatlejuice and BOSTON and music in general.
LM: Could you tell us how Beatlejuice was formed?
Brad: Let’s see. I think we’re in our fourteenth year now. I’ve actually known [drummer] Muzz since 1980. We’ve been good friends since then. In 1986, when BOSTON went out on its Third Stage tour, Muzz was the drummer for Farrenheit with Charlie Farren on vocals. Their first album had just come out and we wound up doing that whole tour with Farrenheit as the support act for us. So that’s kind of my history with Muzz.
Anyway, we used to get together socially quite a bit, usually on the weekends over Muzz’s house. We would get together maybe for diner or a movie. Invariably, drummers always tend to keep their drum kits set up in the basement and in Muzz’s case he had about three kits set up there. So, at the end of the evening, we’d usually go down in the basement and just jam with some of our other friends who were there.
We usually wound up leaning toward Beatles music because the guys that came over usually grew up around that time period and I, of course, was a major Beatles fan. So, we played all kinds of things, but largely Beatles stuff. This went on over a period of time, and again, it started out just socially.
One evening we were together. It was Muzz and I and I think at some point Steve Baker our keyboard player was involved and also Bob Squires who actually grew up with Muzz. I think they went to grade school together. He was our original lead guitar player and had actually played in two other Beatles tribute bands prior to Beatlejuce.
We got together just for fun and Muzz suggested one evening that we try and find a club or something close by and just go on a Wednesday night for open mic and play for people and he eventually booked us.
Prior to that, we actually did one other gig at Muzz’s sister-in-laws’s house. I think it was a holiday like the Fourth of July or something and we ended up playing for a bunch of friends just outside in their backyard, but the first official gig we had was at Bleachers in Salem, MA, on a Wednesday night.
Prior to the show, we just put up posters that said “ALL BEATLES ALL NIGHT.” It didn’t mention who was in the band.
One concern of mine was I didn’t want a big deal being made because I was the guy from BOSTON and have people think that we would be playing some BOSTON songs. So we stared out really anonymously because it was all about the songs.
Right from the start, we tried to get the songs as close to the original arrangements as we could. We did that first gig and I think there might have been one or two people who were there that asked if I was in another band, but no one there really cared.
Since the gig worked out pretty well, we booked a few more shows after that and decided that we would play once or twice a week to keep the band happy and it just grew from there. Eventually word got around about the band and I hope that people came out mainly to listen to Beatles songs.
Since then, we’ve had people come to our shows that I call the “dot org” people. These are the heavy BOSTON fans that are on the BOSTON web pages all the time. When they found out about us, they came because they were curious about what we were doing.
We’ve actually had a couple of people who flew over from England that are primarily BOSTON fans and they sort of designed their vacation around when Beatlejuice was going to be playing. But people at this point realize we don’t do any BOSTON stuff and are okay with that.
Initially, I had this fear that we’d be in the middle of “In My Life” or some Beatles ballad and someone would yell out and ask us to play “More Than A Feeling.” Fortunately that never happened, and again, what started out really just as a hobby and for fun has been going on for 14 years now. We play pretty much every weekend when BOSTON isn’t touring.
Now BOSTON didn’t tour this past summer but we did tour the two summers previous to that. We went out for 10 weeks on one of the tours and around 10 or 12 weeks for the other one.
You may or may not know that there are plans for BOSTON to do a tour this summer. So when that happens The Beatles band in the past has either taken a little vacation or what they did a couple of years ago was they kept everybody else in the band and they got another singer. His name is Jimmy Rogers who is actually a very good vocalist.
My favorite band has always been The Beatles and one of Muzz’s other favorite bands has been the Police. He is a huge Police fan and he suggested to the other members that maybe they put a band together. I think they are planning on doing that this summer while I’m gone. They did that a couple of summers ago. They put a band together, called Juice in the Machine, which is the same idea behind Beatlejuice, except it’s all Police all night. I actually got to hear them before I went out on tour. I saw their first gig a couple of years back and I thought they did a terrific job at that.
I guess that’s a rather long winded answer to your question.
LM: How did The Beatles become your biggest influence?
Brad: I think I was just the perfect age. I’ve always had an interest in music. Before them, it seemed like everyone was playing Little League baseball and I did that as well, but I wasn’t a great baseball player.
I had older siblings and I used to listen to my sister’s Buddy Holly records and Elvis. I was kind of an Elvis fan, too, but I was a little young at that time.
When I was 13, The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. On the following day at school, there was a big buzz. It seemed like everybody had seen that show. Those of us kids who had kind of a cursory interest in music got the idea that these guys write their own stuff, they play their own instruments, and they go out and perform so maybe that might be something we might aspire to as well.
Even though I never become a good guitar player, I remember my parents got me a Silvertone guitar from Sears which I think a lot of kids had back then. It was a guitar that had a little five watt amp and, if you got the expensive one, it was 10 watts. It was an amplifier that was built into the guitar case. It held the guitar and had a little speaker in it. I think the first thing I taught myself with that little guitar was “You Can’t Do That” from The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night record.
When I was a kid that summer, I met some other kids that were similarly inclined and they were looking for a vocalist. I hadn’t really given much thought to being a singer, but I did know that I wasn’t a very good guitar player. So I was offered to come down and audition to be the vocalist for this band when I was a kid. That was the time of the British Invasion so we did just about every song a new band played when they came on The Ed Sullivan Show, such as songs by The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, and a bunch of other bands. We would try and learn whatever their particular single was that came out and that’s kind of how it started. However, it was always The Beatles for me. There was just something special about them.
I still remember listening to “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on a little transistor radio that I kind of hid under my pillow. They played the top 10 songs of the day or of the week and it was around 10 or 11 o’clock. It was on a school night so I probably should have been in bed, but I had to wait for “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to come on. They didn’t sound like anything else and, of course, Beatlemania struck everyone.
I was also one of the lucky, relative, few people to see them play live on August 18, 1966, when they played at Suffolk Downs, which was part of their last tour. It certainly left an impression on me.
LM: Do you have any favorite Beatles songs?
Brad: There are five members of Beatlejuice. Probably the most important one is Steve Baker our keyboard player. He allows us to play the songs the Beatles couldn’t do back in the 1960’s like “I Am the Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and several other songs.
We kind of run the gamut right from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and the early stuff right through Abbey Road and the “Golden Slumbers” medley.
If I had to pick a favorite song that we play, it’s probably “I Saw Her Standing There.” I can’t tell you exactly why except there’s something about that song and an energy to it that epitomizes the time and what the Beatles were about. That would be my favorite song the band plays.
My favorite Beatles song is a lesser known song called “Yes It Is,” which was first released as the B-side of “Ticket to Ride.” We’re in the process of learning that song now and I don’t know why it took us this long. I just love the real tight three-part vocal harmonies on it. It’s not like any other song I can think of. That’s probably my favorite Beatles song overall. I hope we’re going to be playing that song very soon.
LM: As far as members of The Beatles, do you have a favorite Beatle?
Brad: I think I used to gravitate toward Paul only because I had a high voice and he had the higher voice in the band. The songs that he sang were sort of right in my register and easier for me to sing.
One of the nice things about Beatlejuice is that there are five us. We’re not a look-a-like band and never intended to be. None of us are relegated to being just one Beatle. Since I’m the lead vocalist, I get to sing Paul’s lead vocals on songs such as “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “All My Loving.” I also get to sing John’s songs. I even get to sing Ringo’s part on “With A Little Help From My Friends” and all the George Harrison stuff too. In fact, George was the only Beatle that I had every single one of his solo records.
With Beatlejuice, we stop at the stuff that they did as a band. They have close to over 300 songs that they did over a period of five or six years, which is quite remarkable. We’re only about half-way through their catalog. We thought if we started doing individual or solo songs there’d be no place to stop.
I don’t know if I could pick a real favorite but I think it started with Paul because his songs came a little easier to me than the others.
LM: There are so many Beatles tribute bands. What makes Beatlejuice different?
Brad: I appreciate any band where you have four guys and one of them can play left-handed bass and sing all the Paul McCartney songs. I have respect for people being able to do that, but that was never really our intention.
What we wanted to do and what I think we do pretty well is really try and get the sound so that when people listen they remember us. When people come up and say, ‘that sounded just like the record,’ that’s the highest compliment to me.
As a vocalist, I really try to get the timbre as well as I can. There are a lot of songs that we do where I might sing the verse or I might have to sing Paul’s part and then when it gets to the chorus I might be singing John’s part. To me those songs are so ingrained. I think the timbre of my voice obviously changes depending on which one we’re doing. That’s what we’re really trying to do. I’ve had people come up and say, ‘if I close my eyes I feel like I’m listening to The Beatles.’ If we hear a compliment like that, then I think we’ve done our job.
We don’t mess with the arrangements and the leads and everything else we try to get as close as we can. The only exception to that is a maybe song where they fade out on the record and we have to come up with an ending. We really try to stay true to the originals.
LM: What’s the key to coming as close to their sound as possible. What do you have to do?
Brad: I suppose it helps if you grew up during that period. When I was a kid and when I was in a band, I had to learn those songs because I was the designated singer. My job was primarily to sit down and learn both the lyrics and the harmony parts of the songs.
My musical training was just from listening to those records and trying to discern what the parts were. I’m self-taught. I don’t read music. I’m not particularly proud of that. However, just being so close to The Beatles as a kid and being so reverential toward them has helped me to recreate their sound. They were certainly my idols. I think it helps if you were there, but I don’t think you necessarily have to be. A lot of the stuff is so ingrained in my memory.
I always say that the great thing for me about being in this band is I can tell you right where I was the first time I heard a particular Beatles song. For example, I was in my high school parking lot in my car with the radio on when “Penny Lane” had just come out. So, when we play those songs, it makes me feel 15 or 16 again or however old I was. Hopefully, that’s what it does for the people who come to our shows that are old enough to remember.
About half of the shows we do are in clubs where you have to be 21 or over, but we also do all ages shows. It’s always kind of interesting for me to see kids as young as like 10, 11 or 12 and a lot of teenagers that know all the songs just as well as the adults. When you see kids who obviously weren’t around then and know all the lyrics, I find that kind of interesting.
LM: What do you think of the concept of tribute bands in general?
Brad: I have some friends that are in a terrific Led Zeppelin tribute band called Four Sticks. They’re mostly from the southern New Hampshire area. They pretty much do the same thing that we do. They are not interested in trying to look like them or anything. They grew up and had such fondness for their music that they really try and nail it. I think they do a great job at it as well.
Obviously, there are some tribute bands that are maybe just put together as a business and then I think it’s more of a job. With us, we never wanted it to become a job. I think if you’re intentions are in the right place it can be a great thing. I never thought after 14 years we’d be busier now than we were when we first started.
We could probably play five nights a week if we wanted to with the requests that we have to play. I wouldn’t be happy playing five nights a week for only an hour so we usually play close to 50 and 60 songs over the course of a night.
I’m in charge of making up the set list and the first set list is close to 30 songs because the old ones are like two or two-and-a-half minutes long and you can go right though them rather quickly. The hard part about making up the set list is deciding what songs to leave out because they are all great.
As to the actually set, the first half is usually about an hour and 20 minutes because we don’t take a lot of time in between songs if we can help it. I would be happy if I didn’t have to say two words all night and we could just play the songs. It’s not that I’m anti-social or anything, but we just really want to do as many songs as we can so people can hear them.
LM: Songs were shorter back then as well too.
Brad: They were. It didn’t start off as a conscious thing but the first set mostly tends to be the older songs like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” through “A Hard Day’s Night,” with some other songs thrown in. The second set mainly goes from “Help” through “Golden Slumbers.”
But again, remember that between “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “A Day In The Life” was only three years. Sgt. Pepper came out in 1967 and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” came out in 1964. When you think of the amount of songs and the fact that almost every single song people know is truly amazing. With most bands you know one song out of 12 that were put out on an album and the albums were just there. Not only were the Beatles terribly prolific, but almost every single song got airplay. I don’t think you say that about any other band, at least, that I can think of.
LM: Can you tell us about the upcoming BOSTON tour. What can we expect?
Brad: I can’t give you any dates because I haven’t got any myself. I can tell you that we’ve been rehearsing for the past few months and a little differently than we have done in the past.
In the past, we kind of sequestered ourselves for maybe three months forward and just worked night and day leading up to the tour. This time Tom Scholz has decided that we should get together maybe for a weekend every month and go over half a dozen songs and then the next time we meet add another three or four songs to that and so on.
Hopefully, the tour will begin sometime in June, but again that’s sort of a general plan. We’ll probably be out on the road from June through August. The last time we went out I think we did like 60 shows. I would guess the tour would be somewhere in that line.
Had we gone out last year in ‘06 that would have been our 30th anniversary, which seems amazing to me that it’s been that long since the release of the first BOSTON record in August of ‘76. So this will be 31 years seeing that we didn’t get to do a 30th anniversary tour. Partly due to that, we’ll be concentrating pretty heavily on the first couple of records. We don’t have as huge a catalog as The Beatles, but Tom is planning on doing a few things that we haven’t actually played for quite a number of tours. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
I’m very lucky that I get to do this, especially when there’s still an interest in classic rock. Two years ago, the last show that we did on the BOSTON tour was a festival out in California. It was us, Styx, REO Speedwagon and the Edgar Winter Band. All of these bands were a lot of the same bands that we went out with initially in the mid-1970s. It was interesting to see so many bands that are still out there and it’s nice to know that people want to come and hear it. So, I get to do that every now and then and I get to play Beatles songs on the weekends, which never gets old for me.
LM: You have a new BOSTON album in the works?
Brad: I don’t think they’ll be a BOSTON record out before this tour. I know Tom had been working on some things, but again, I don’t know when that’ll be done. It certainly won’t happen before this summer.
Given the fact that it’s basically our 30th anniversary, we know what people want to hear and you have a lot of input from bandboston.com and boston.org. We try and pay attention to what people are saying and the fans that have been with us for all those years. We’ll be trying to accommodating them. Not that we haven’t in the past, but a lot of the stuff will come from our first two studio albums. They’ll also be stuff from Third Stage and Walk On, which was the one record I was not on, and we’ll be doing some things from Corporate America, the last record BOSTON released.
LM: We’ve heard some rumors that you could be touring with the original Boston line-up this time. Is that true?
Brad: No. Tom and I will be the only original members. We do have Gary Pihl, for example, who has been with us since the Third Stage tour in 1986. That’s actually quite a while that he’s been playing guitar with us.
After our second album, Don’t Look Back, people kind of went their separate ways and I did several projects with Barry Goudreau who was an original guitar player with BOSTON along with Tom. So we still work on things from time to time. We’ve done several projects and actually toured for one them. We had a band, called RTZ, and an album in the 1990s and we did a tour with that.
I keep in touch with everybody, but as for now, Tom and I are the only original band members.
LM: Can you tell me a little bit about how BOSTON has evolved and where you are now with the band?
Brad: It’s kind of an interesting situation because we don’t play all the time like Aerosmith and a lot of other bands. I have to say I’m kind of happy with this arrangement. When Tom gets the urge to work on something or wants to hear a vocal on something, we only live an hour apart and that has pretty much always been the case. So, he’ll just call me and it’s sort of a very low key process. He might call to say, ‘I’ve got an idea for a song, when are you available?’ That’s kind of how we did the Corporate America album.
When we do tour, rehearsals have been pretty extensive in the past because we don’t see each other all the time and there have been several new members in the band. However, my job is still the same as it was when I was a kid. I get to assign harmony parts to the guys and girls in the band.
For the last few tours, Kimberley Dahme has done a terrific job. It’s nice to have a female voice singing some of those harmony parts because some of those parts are so high. I think a lot of bands that had to play BOSTON stuff are not too happy with me. I’m not too happy with myself for some of those real high vocal parts that I sang like on the first record when I was 24-years old. I didn’t really picture myself singing those songs when I was 54. I’ve been sort of fortunate that my voice has held up as well as it has. There are a couple of parts here and there that I can now pass off to someone else in the band and it makes life a little easier for me.
LM: I’ve read that you live a very healthy lifestyle being a vegetarian. Do you think that has helped your voice hold up so well?
Brad: I’ve never smoked so I suppose that’s a good thing. I was never too conscious of a healthy lifestyle, although I have been a vegetarian since 1969. That was more of a personal issue with me, but it certainly hasn’t hurt me.
I think vocally the biggest help for me is the fact that I go out and play three hours with Beatlejuice a couple of nights a week, particularly with a band like BOSTON who I literally might not see for two or three years at a time. Had I not been doing anything at all, I think it would have been really tough. This way it’s enjoyable. I don’t think of either band as work. I have a great job and it’s just a lot of fun.
I think the fact that I really never stopped singing has also helped. I’ve always been involved in one thing or another, whether it was in between the Don’t Look Back and Third Stage records when I did a couple of different projects with Barry or playing pretty much every weekend with Beatlejuice for the past 14 years. All of that certainly doesn’t hurt.
LM: How about your relationship with Tom Scholz? How has that evolved over the years?
Brad: From what I’ve read, Tom’s comments about me have been very generous in praising me for what I do. I think it’s a mutual respect. I really don’t write a whole lot and most of the songs are Tom’s. The only time we really see each other is when we are working. That probably helps to keep the relationship as well because it’s just strictly about the music. It’s always been that way for whatever reason I don’t know.
When we work, it’s usually just Tom and I in the studio. We usually record from his home studio. We don’t have engineers and all those people. He does all that stuff. My job is to interpret whatever song he has in his head from start to finish. Hopefully, I just try to give him what he wants to hear.
LM: Do you have any more plans for RTZ?
Brad: We got together a couple of times. We have done gigs here and there, mainly when something has come up or someone has asked us to get together. Since everyone is pretty much local, I wouldn’t rule it out. However, I don’t think we’d be doing a full tour because we only did one record.
We also did a bunch demos, some of them before the first record and some of them after we got home from the first tour. Some of those subsequent songs got released on an independent label. Actually, RTZ’s keyboard player Brian Maes released a lot of them on his own label, Briola Records. Brian Maes, by the way, wrote our biggest single, “Until Your Love Comes Back Around.”
Since we still keep in touch, I wouldn’t rule out doing something here and there, but more as a local kind of thing if it came up.
LM: I’ve heard that you play the harp as well. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
Brad: It’s more out of necessity. I’m not really a harp player by any means. On the last few BOSTON tours, Tom has been inclined to do a 12-bar blues so he can stretch out a little bit on guitar.Invariably, he’ll ask if I want to play some harp or something in the middle of it. I wouldn’t single that out as a particular forte of mine. It was fun to learn a few things. Actually Brian Maes, who is a pretty good harp player, kind of showed me a couple of things here and there, which was fun.
LM: We’ve also heard that REO Speedwagon could be an opener for the BOSTON tour. Can you tell me anything about that?
Brad: That is the plan as I’ve heard it. I know the management for Tom has talked with them and the tentative plan is for it to be BOSTON with REO Speedwagon. I can’t confirm that yet until they confirm that with me.
Interestingly, they were one of the band’s we played with a couple of summer’s ago at that festival in California. We actually played with them on our first tour. We played in St. Louis where they are from. I think there were three bands on the bill that night and they got a tremendous response there.
The last few BOSTON tours have been just us with no other band. That can be fun too, but I’ve always liked in the past, and especially in the early days when we went out, having a kind of a camaraderie with other bands. In the 1970s we did a lot of shows with Cheap Trick, who was just starting out back then, Bob Seger, and Rick Derranger. I’ve always liked to meet and hang out with other musicians and we’ve always got along well with everybody. I think it would be great if we could do a whole tour with REO Speedwagon.
LM: I’ve also heard that you like to do concerts for the homeless and other charities?
Brad: Beatlejuice is kind of self-indulgent in that we do it because we thought it would be fun for us. Consequently, we will get a fair amount of requests to do benefit concerts for any number of things, such as school fundraisers. Fairly recently we did one in my hometown of Danvers where I grew up and went to school for the athletic department. A lot times we’ll do things for the school’s music department as well.
Every year for the last six years now we’ve played at the Portsmouth Music Hall for an organization, called SASS, which stands for Sexual Assault Support Services. That came about because we had a close friend who knew someone who had kind of taken advantage of their services. They had to deal with people who were victims of sexual assault or abuse of some form. He said it would be really great if we could have some kind of fundraiser and raise some money for them. At his suggestion, we thought that since we were playing every weekend anyway if we could go out and do a gig and raise money for a good cause all the better. To date these six concerts have raised a little over $100,000. We’ve done any number of enjoyable things like that, including fundraising for the homeless.
LM: I’ve read that you proposed to your girlfriend and Tom Scholz proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Eve. Is that true?
Brad: Yes, it is true. Actually I proposed on Christmas Day and gave her a ring. The funny thing is my now fiancé and I first started dating on August 18 which was the date in 1966 when I first saw the Beatles. We’ve been going out for six years now and we had thought if we got married it would probably be on August 18, which it will be.
After I proposed to her on Christmas, I had e-mailed Tom. I had requested a day off on either side of August 18 so I could go home and get married just in case BOSTON was on tour. He sent me an e-mail back saying, ‘no problem I’m sure we can do that. By the way, I just got engaged too, and no one had known about it.
I don’t know how long he and Mrs. Scholz now have been together. I think they have been going out for a number of years now. It was strictly coincidental. He said that BOSTON has a publicist that works for us and asked if I could let her know. I said sure it’s no secret at this point.
The only thing that was a little discerning to me is I read somewhere that Tom Scholz and Brad Delp were engaged. That might have been a little misleading. It is in fact true that we both got engaged on the same day, but just not to each other [laughs].
LM: You had talked about doing stuff in Tom’s home studio. How have you dealt with record companies over the years? It seems like a lot of bands are going away from dealing with the bigger record companies now.
Brad: Yeah. I’m not exactly sure what will happen with the next BOSTON record, which I know Tom has been working on. I think we’ll be working on it when we get home from touring as well. Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with the record labels. I’ve sort of been spared that. Tom has kind of been responsible for that, and many times it’s caused some headaches for him. That’s probably an understatement because, as a lot of people already know, there was a major lawsuit soon after the second album, and that caused a six-year hiatus between that and the next BOSTON record.
I’m very lucky with The Beatles band. Muzz, our drummer, books everything. We don’t have management because we don’t really need it. We keep everything low-key and kind of on a small scale. So for me, all I’ve got to do is: Muzz will say, ‘We’re gigging here this week’ or ‘I’ve got the schedule printed out.’ I know where I’m going and that is all I have to do. I kind of like it that way. With the tour with BOSTON, Tom really is handling that, dealing with the record companies, setting up the tour and itineraries. All I need to know is where I need to be and on what day. I’m pretty good with that.
But yeah, I think that people are leaning a lot more towards doing things independent of the record companies just because there are so many other avenues available today.
LM: So, you’ve played with Doug Flutie before?
Brad: Well, I don’t want to say that’s how the BOSTON tour came about, but it may have sparked it. They were honoring Doug Flutie, of course in Boston for all of his achievements, because he was retiring from professional football. BOSTON has been one of his favorite bands when he was growing up, so we wound up in Symphony Hall for the show. That was the first time the current band had gotten together since a couple of years ago. We rehearsed about an hour’s worth of material for that show because it wasn’t all about us. James Montgomery was there with his band, which was fantastic. And then there were other things going on. We got together for that. And having that as sort of a basis, having learned all those songs for that show, I think if we can just get together maybe just once a month from here until maybe April or May, you know we’d be ready to do a tour in June. So I think that’s going to work out pretty well. And that was sort of an off-shoot of doing that gig.
LM: Are there any particular artists today that you enjoy listening to?
Brad: I listen to sports and radio mostly, but it’s hard to say. I’m mostly involved with the Beatle band, so I don’t get to listen to as much music as I should. I took my son to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were touring with the Foo Fighters. Those two bands I like a lot. Aside from that, I’m probably not so much in tune to what is going on.
LM: Is your son into Music?
Brad: Yeah. My son lives in Seattle. I think that’s a good city for him. They’re kind of eclectic out there. He plays bass and he is actually not a bad bass player. When he comes home on occasion during the summer when Beatlejuice is playing, he’ll sit in with us for a few songs which is a lot of fun. Our bass player of Beatlejuice, Joe Holaday, has two kids. One of them plays drums and the other plays saxophone, clarinet, and a number of instruments. So they’ll sit in with us as well and that’s kind of fun to get to do. So my son plays bass, but he is also interested in a lot of different and unusual percussion instruments, Middle Eastern music, Japanese music, and sort of more world music. Occasionally, he’ll bring something to me that I’m totally ignorant about. It’s interesting because I think he’s got pretty good taste. What little I know about what is going on I learn from him.
LM: How do you feel about BOSTON’s music legacy?
Brad: Again, I’m very appreciative of the fact that we’re still able to go out on tour and there’s still interest. We’ve always had terrific crowds. And I will say that I’ve met a lot of fans over the years who are just incredibly loyal and have stuck with us all this time. It’s very flattering to feel like your music means something to people in a small way. I know what it’s like being a fan, because again I grew up with The Beatles, certainty not to compare us to The Beatles, but I think whatever music you grew up with, like people growing up listening to BOSTON records. I get similar stories, ‘Oh, my first date’ or “my first high school prom, the record had just come out. I remember that song and it takes me back to that place.” That is sort of what music does for people. So, the fact that we could be a part of that for other people, not something we were thinking about at the time, it’s sort of nice to feel like you have some kind of legacy like that.
LM: Okay. Well I don’t think we have any other questions.
Brad: I have to apologize. I don’t think I gave you one short answer.
LM: Oh no. We really appreciate you giving us an interview.
Brad: Oh, it wasn’t a problem at all.
LM: So, we will see you at Salem High School [in Salem, NH] tomorrow tonight. We’re going to be coming up there.
Brad: Oh terrific. I did not know that. But great, yeah, by all means come on by and we’ll talk a little more.
On Friday, February 23, we continued our interview with Brad after the Beatlejuice show at SalemHigh School.
LM: How do you do the voices from all four Beatles?
Brad: If I had to be in a band where I could only be one Beatle, it wouldn’t be fun. When I was a kid, I think I was the perfect age, growing up, I just worshipped The Beatles. Since I didn’t play any instrument particularly well, I could play rhythm guitar like I do now for a third of the songs. I usually just hold it. It’s my security crutch [laughs].
I was always the singer and it was my job to learn the harmony parts for everybody else. I remember being 14 or 15 when “Nowhere Man” came out. When we first started playing it, I didn’t hear the third part. I thought there was only two parts. We were just kids at the time. Maybe we didn’t play much or we had just learned how to play. And then one day, all of a sudden, I heard that it was just one note. That harmony part that is in the middle, it makes the whole song. It’s the part that George does and that was like a revelation to me.
Even though that was at the time of the British Invasion and all these bands were coming out, I did like a lot of other bands like The Animals, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, but it was always The Beatles. They were my heroes.
The same thing is true with 1964 The Tribute. They’re really good at what they do. They’ve got The Beatle wigs and all of that. Since there are four of them, they don’t get into the later stuff. They’re very good, but that wasn’t what we wanted to do. We just really want you to be able to close your eyes and remember hearing the music because so many of those songs never got played live. Even though we do them note for note as much as we can, there’s still an energy about playing them live that brings something else to it. When the audience responds and gets into it, that’s what makes it mean so much for me. I just love that.
As I said yesterday, it was always easy for me to sing Paul’s stuff because it was the higher stuff. John, when I was a kid, was a little tougher because some of that stuff was a little lower and I couldn’t quite do it, but now I love it. Some of these songs we’ve played now for fourteen years, and it’s only in the last year or so that I feel like I’ve really got it right. For instance, one of my favorite songs to do now is “Anytime At All.” I just feel like I’ve finally gotten it right, even though I’ve been singing the right notes and everything before. I just really feel like John for a while when I’m singing it or I feel like Paul. It’s just great. It’s like reliving my childhood. It makes me feel like a kid again.
LM: Excellent. Did you ever get a chance to meet any of the Beatles?
Brad: I met Ringo on the very first All-Starr Band tour that he did, which was fantastic… Rick Danko from The Band, Levon Helm also from The Band, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Neils Lofgren, and Jim Keltner…They were an unbelievable band.
Ringo’s tour manager at the time had been BOSTON’s tour manager for the Third Stage tour. When we were on the Third Stage tour, he knew what a big Beatles fan I was. So, he called me and said, ‘I’m working with Ringo, do you wanna come down to the show?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to come down.’ Then he said, ‘Well, were staying at the Four Seasons in BOSTON. If you come down, we’re leaving in an hour and you can ride down in the van with me and Richy.’
I’m very shy by nature. Actually, at first I said, ‘no, I appreciate it. you don’t need to do that. I’d be happy to just come to the show.’ So he said, ‘Well okay, you can come down if you want.’ So after I hung up the phone and thought it for about for five minutes, I called him back and said, ‘I’ll be there in 45 minutes’ [laughs]. So I got to ride down in the van with Ringo and I actually got to sing “Get Back” that night.
LM: Oh my goodness!
Brad: I got to do that and the other person I met was George Martin. He was absolutely the fifth Beatle. He played on a lot of the tracks. He played keyboards. He did all the orchestrations. He produced everything. I met George Martin twice. The last time, I got to sing “Live and Let Die” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” with George Martin conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It was a full orchestra with George Martin in front and I got to sing the songs. It doesn’t get any better than that.
But, I don’t know if I want to meet Paul, necessarily, because my feeling is like, I’ve known him for forty years through his music. If he knows me at all, it’s probably like ‘Oh, I’ve heard your band’ or something like that. Plus, what am I going to say to him? I’d probably put my foot in my mouth [laughs]. I’ve known people that have worked with him and said, ‘I could set this up if you want to meet Paul.’ But, if I had a week to think about it, I’d be a nervous wreck. But, I’ve seen him almost every time he has come on his solo tours and that’s plenty for me. I’m just gonna watch and listen.
LM: Yeah. We went to the show he did at the TD BankNorth the last time he came.
Brad: Yeah. What a fantastic band. He was just great. On Paul’s Flowers in the Dirt tour, I almost met him backstage in New York. He was only a few feet away. I went to see him at Madison Square Garden. He was using the same sound system that we were using. Our sound guy from Showco said, ‘My buddies are mixing Paul, if you want to go I’ll set you up. You can come down to the show.’ So we went in early and they were just finishing up the sound check. Actually, I didn’t hear them play anything because they had just got finished and they were going to have dinner. He was going to the elevator and I could see him walk across the hall from where I was standing. So, that was my brush with greatness [laughs].
I also saw George Harrison in the front row at Boston Garden. It was his only US tour that he did in 1974. I had waited in line for eight hours or more for tickets. I was sitting in the first row, off to the right. In those days you could take pictures. I actually used to develop black and white pictures, nothing really fancy. But I took pictures of that show and I still have those pictures I took of George. So, that was pretty exciting.
But yeah, the whole thing about Beatlejuice is it started as a hobby. Steve Baker, our keyboard player, is the same way. They were the band when we were growing up and that was it for us. That’s why he has spent so much time trying to get “Strawberry Fields” or “I Am the Walrus” and all those songs exactly right. If they’re not right, we won’t do it. We really try to get it as best we can.
LM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us.
Brad: You’re welcome. It was no problem at all.
LM: We’ll see you on your tour with BOSTON this summer.
If you’ve attended a show by JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine, there is a good chance that Brad Stevens was in the audience. In fact, Stevens has attended over 3,000 concerts in his lifetime and continues to be an avid concert goer.
Stevens said that his favorite thing about going to concerts is seeing the bands perform live. He loves the energy and being part of the excitement.
“I just like live music,” Stevens said. “I like the crowd and seeing the bands perform the songs live.”
The first concert Stevens ever attended was Van Halen and Black Sabbath at the Cape Cod Coliseum in 1978. Black Sabbath has continued to be Stevens favorite band to see in concert, seeing them 33 times and he has never been disappointed
While Black Sabbath will always be Stevens first love and favorite band to see in concert, he mentioned some of his other favorites.
“The Who, Deep Purple, UFO and Saxon,” Stevens said.
Stevens has many crazy concert stories and chose to share one with us.
“I went to see Black Label Society in Hartford, Connecticut,” he began. “I stayed with my brother-in-law who lives in a housing development in Hartford. To park on one side of the parking lot you needed a permit and the other side was for guests. So, we got back from the concert and all the guest spots were taken and the permits were open so he said ‘park in the permit’. Then, I’m laying in bed at like four in the morning and I wake up and I can see a bright light shining through his window and I look out and the guy’s towing my car. I throw my clothes on real quick and ran out there. It had just rained and I fell in a big mud puddle. I was covered from head to toe. He didn’t tow my car. I ran over and told him my story.”
Although Stevens has attended many concerts, he wishes he’d seen Led Zeppelin.
“I haven’t seen Led Zeppelin,” he said. “I wanna cry.”
Stevens also wished he’d seen several deceased musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, John Bonham, and Jim Morrison.
Stevens said that his favorite venue is the Narrows Center for the Arts, located in Fall River, Mass.
“The Narrows is great,” he said. “It’s small and intimate with friendly people and staff. You’re close to the stage and the sound is excellent.”
Stevens has seen many concerts at the Narrows Center. One of his favorites was Y&T which was booked by JKB Entertainment Group. He also enjoyed The Yardbirds, which was also booked by JKB, and Ian Hunter.
Stevens talked about the worst venue he’s ever been to located in Worcester, Mass.
“The worst venue is The Palladium,” he said. “The sound is horrible. The security is like Nazi’s. It’s horrible. It’s cold, like a dungeon, and dirty.”
Stevens does admit though that he sometimes goes to The Palladium as a last resort because they book a very specific type of music that that he enjoys called European Power Metal.
Stevens also talked about the tickets he already has for shows this year.
“UFO and Saxon (at Brighton Music Hall), Blue Oyster Cult (at Stadium Theatre), just got them today,” he said. “Also, Mack Sabbath, they sound good, they sound like Black Sabbath.”
He’s also purchased tickets to several events booked at the Narrows Center booked by JKB Entertainment Group, including Candlebox Acoustic (on March 25th), Vanilla Fudge with Paul Bielatowicz (on April 5th), Y&T (on May 2) and Stryper’s Michael Sweet (on June 2). He planned to purchased tickets to Black ‘N Blue on July 20th but had already bought tickets to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that night in Boston.
Stevens said that there haven’t been many musicians that he saw that he was greatly disappointed with although he doesn’t like when bands get political.
“Bands like Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters, they get political and I don’t like that,” he said. “Back in the 80’s, U2 had a political cause for what was going on in Ireland. Now it’s either the Trump of Hilary thing. I don’t care about your political cause or what your politics are. You like who you like, we all like who we like. Everybody’s different. I don’t know, I don’t like your influence. Just play your music.”
Stevens also has another concert pet peeve: when musicians don’t play for very long.
“I went to see ZZ Top. I paid $115 for the ticket and they played 65 minutes,” he said. “You know, you expect someone to play at least 100 minutes. That was disappointing. I would never go see them again.”
Stevens enjoys seeing bands like Rush who play for nearly three hours.
“Rush is fantastic,” he said. “I paid $170 for them and that’s worth the money.”
While Stevens believes that some bands are worth the money, he is outraged at how much concerts cost nowadays.
“That’s another disappointment: the price of these concerts now,” he said. “How can an average fan really afford that? The first time I saw Rush in 1980 I paid $8. Same thing with Black Sabbath, $7.50. Now it’s $200.”
Stevens said his favorite new album is Preludes & Etudes by Paul Bielatowicz. He has also seen him perform solo (with Simon Fitzpatrick) three years in a row at the Narrows Center.
“I like that instrumental type of music,” Stevens said.
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