SMC Spotlight No.1 | Soap Box Duo ‘Soap Box For Haiti’ Benefit Concert

By Candice Anne Marshall

I first heard of Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canadian born and based band ‘Soap Box Duo’ earlier this fall. I happened to be looking at all the bands who had graced the summer music festivals when I stumbled across an interesting post with the hashtag #soapboxforhaiti. Immediately I was intrigued and connected with the band (no, I really don’t waste any time – Reporter brain over here…). I began my research and immediately fell in love with the bands music. What struck me even more was their reasons for diving into a humanitarian effort by bringing global awareness of how people can help by working alongside impoverished people through a 20-minute film documentary created from their trip to Haiti in October 2017.

I admittedly have a soft spot for individuals who utilize their creativity, status, and talent with the purpose of helping others, and with this being my first introduction to the Soap Box Duo, I am proud to welcome them into the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Family. Tomorrow, the band will be hosting their FIRST self-produced benefit concert at the Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove, Alberta where they will air the documentary video followed by a live performance. I encourage anyone in the community to get to this show! Any remaining tickets can be purchased (here)

Aside from their humanitarian efforts, the bands’ music is a delightful blend of Alternative/Folk that hits you right away – it’s the ‘feel-good’ music that everyone should have on their playlists that are perfect for that mid-day pick-me-up we all experience throughout the work week. They also have created brilliant original works with songs like ‘Walls‘ (video below) which bring awareness to childhood sexual abuse along with their support for organizations like ‘Little Warriors‘. The band consists of Alexander and Jenesa MacMullin whose music influences include The Civil Wars, John Mayer, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Since the bands’ inception in 2015, they have been nominated for many prestigious awards, launched their first EP, and have had several television appearances. I am not surprised because this isn’t only a band with a highly contagious sound, they are path-pavers whose honest compassion for humanity set them apart from the rest. You can read the bands’ bio at the end of our interview as well as tap into their social media links. I look forward to following this dynamic duos’ journey and in supporting them going forward through our SMC Spotlight Numbered Series. Welcome to the SMC Family!

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Soap Box Duo

SMC – Hello Soap Box Duo! We are very excited to have you on our exclusive SMC Spotlight platform! Can you tell us how you heard about SMC?

SBD – We saw SMC feature some of our friends from the Edmonton music scene on Facebook.

SMC – Let’s delve into your background and roots in music – can you tell us what inspired your music careers?

Alexander- Honestly I owe my music career to Guitar Hero. I got so good at that game I thought that the next step to make it more challenging would be to learn real guitar. Then when I was 16 years old I started learning songs from artists like John Mayer, Bon Iver and Ray LaMontagne who were my biggest influences at the time. After performing my first original songs for friends and family I was shocked by their positive response. They really felt that I had a gift and I was inspired to grow as a musician so that I could pursue music as a career.

Jenesa- My parents always tell me that I sang before I could properly speak; it’s been a part of who I am since infancy. Then as early as age 7, I wrote my first song. I was put into dance, theatre and music lessons and was a huge pop music fan. I was that sappy kid who loved NSYNC and Destiny’s Child. To be honest, I still listen to Destiny’s Child. My focus on pursuing music as a career came in my teen years when I realized I could make money as a songwriter and performer and could hold a position of influence through my music.

SMC – Tell us more about yourselves for our new readers. We will get to your project later in this interview, but for now, let us know about you!

SBD – We are vintage-pop artists that go by the name Soap Box Duo. We chose that name because we want our music to be a platform for issues we want to address in the world. Our main focus is the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. In the early-mid 1900s if you wanted to rally people for a cause, you would stand on a soapbox and gather a crowd for your purpose. Now-a-days we have social media as a ‘soap box’ so we use that to connect with other passionate people.

We both met while studying music at MacEwan University. What brought us together was our shared passion for music, justice and God. We both had similar dreams of a career in music where we could support a family and live a life of purpose.

SMC – What instruments are you both proficient in?

Alexander studied guitar as his primary instrument while attending music school. He also sings, plays drums, bass, basic piano and recently started learning the cello.

Jenesa studied vocals as her primary instrument while attending music school. She also plays guitar, a little bit of piano and percussion.

SMC – You are both fairly new to the music scene as ‘Soap Box Duo’ – can you tell us what the reception/support in the local community has been like?

SBD – We have been blessed by the support of family, friends and the local community. When we started Soap Box Duo full-time in January 2015 we had no recorded music yet and needed to earn credibility in the music scene. It was so encouraging to be given a chance to prove our worth as writers and entertainers. Venue owners, radio hosts, booking agents and other musicians in the scene gave us the opportunity to share our music and our passion.

SMC – Who are your music mentors in the Edmonton community?

SBD – One key person who we have learnt a lot from is Rhea March who really helped us with our first few steps when we first started playing full-time in the city. But I would say that other musicians in the local scene have been consistent mentors to us. People like Brennan Murray, Jeff & Carol-Lynn Quinn, Joal Kamps, Jen Perry- to name a few- have taken the time to share their ideas, tricks and methodology with us.

SMC – You have some major accomplishments under your belts – your track, “Kissed the Girls” was a finalist in the Los Angeles Top Vocalist competition and the New York John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Tell us how that came about and the result of each – how exciting!

SBD – Thank you so much! Our tracks were entered into both of these contests and we were proud to have been named finalists. These things have given us more visibility, connections in the music scene in North America and encouragement to continue refining our song writing and performance.

SMC – I also read in your bio that In fall of 2016, you were nominated for the Gospel Music Associations (GMA’s) 38th Covenant Award for “New Artist of the Year”. Another huge accomplishment! Tell us about this more about this!

SBD – Thanks again. It was an exciting surprise for us to be nominated. As musicians trying to make a full-time income you enter your material to be considered for awards and contests. It’s often hard to believe in your own music. But we took some chances and submitted our songs. When we heard that we got nominated for “New Artists of the Year”, when they were considering musicians from across Canada, we were blown away. It was really humbling.

SMC – You were also nominated for your song ‘Complexion’ (see below) at the 2016 Edmonton Music Awards for the ‘Adult Alternative Recording of the Year’ category. You have made some amazing accomplishments! What was it like to be nominated for so many prestigious awards in your short career as ‘Soap Box Duo’?

SBD – We are so grateful to have been recognized for all of our hard work. There are so many incredible artists out there writing amazing songs, so to be considered among those people is a dream. We actually have a big collage of images and words on a board that hangs in our bedroom. This is a visual reminder of our goals and dreams and we have been blessed to see so many of the things on this board come to pass- this includes our first royalties payment, songwriting awards and playing live on radio- to name a few.

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Soap Box For Haiti

SMC – This interview has been a long time coming and I am very excited to learn more about the upcoming event ‘Soap Box for Haiti’ on November 30th! Tell us more about what this project is about and the event.

SBD – This project is one that is close to our hearts. We are inviting our fans to join us for a night of live music and a chance to be the first to see the documentary we recently filmed in Haiti. The venue is a theatre, which is the perfect place for this event. Our audience will be able to really hear our lyrics, feel our music and be a part of memorable moments without distractions.

SMC – Why Haiti?

Jenesa- I traveled to Haiti three other times, the most recent trip was nearly 8 years ago. I have dreamed of returning there, as I love the country and the people, and wanted to share that love with Alexander.

SBD – We were happy to partner with Nicola Topsom of Floriana Wedding Project to travel to Haiti and see what they do. We brought wedding gowns and bridesmaid dressed that were donated for the store they have set up in Port-Au-Prince. In August, as we were preparing to go, we had the idea of making a documentary while there. Nicola helped to connect us with other organizations that we could interview as well as setting us up with opportunities to film “The Real Haiti” to show people back home what the country is like.

SMC – You actually went to Haiti in October to film your documentary – what was it about?

SBD – The goal of the documentary was to show ordinary people who were doing amazing things there while giving viewers a glimpse of the beauty of Haiti. We hope to inspire our fans to partner with organizations that they might relate to.

SMC – What was the experience of actually being in Haiti like?

Jenesa- Traveling to Haiti is always a culture shock. Since they are the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they live very different from how we do here in Alberta. But aside from the discomfort and the emotion of seeing the abject poverty, I was again reminded of why I love Haiti so much. The people are incredibly inviting, generous and loving. I felt like family again so quickly, even with the new friends we made.

Alexander- Before we left for Haiti I didn’t know what to expect. I was initially shocked by everything I saw. Though I was ill and was being stretched outside of my comfort zone, I was happy. The friends I made there were so loving. Part of me went there with the mentality that I was going to “help” them but in reality they were the ones who were taking care of us.

SMC – What did you feel most profoundly while in Haiti?

SBD – We were humbled by the resilience and joy of the people we met there.

SMC – What has the local response been like for this upcoming event?

SBD – So far, many people have been very supportive of this event! Over one-third of the tickets are sold and we predict that the event will sell-out in the next 4 weeks. Some people who aren’t able to attend have even given donations!

SMC – What can one expect to see at the event?

SBD – This will be our BEST live show yet! The audience will see us perform as a duo, with a full band and will hear both fan-favorites and NEW songs. This is the first show where we will have control of lighting, media and sound. This will be the only chance to see the pre-screening of the documentary on a BIG SCREEN as well! A local realtor has donated Oil Kings tickets that will be silent auctioned during the intermission. Audience members will be able to purchase our merchandise as well as unique items from Haiti, all in support of this documentary project.

SMC – What are the proceeds from this event going to be put towards?

SBD – The cost of travel, accommodations and food in Haiti for the duo, along with the director of the documentary, was quite high. We have taken on further costs with the post-production work required to finish the film. So the proceeds of this event are going to cover the out-of-pocket costs of being able to produce this documentary that will showcase different organizations and hopefully get more people connected to investing in Haiti.

SMC – Some would ask if you are also involved in the charities in your local community – are you?

SBD – We sure are! Little Warriors is one organization that we are very closely connected with right here in Edmonton. Stay tuned for some news on how we are partnering with them in the battle to prevent childhood sexual abuse.

SMC – What is the one thing you would like to see happen as a result of this event?

SBD – It would be amazing if people would be moved to get involved with the organizations we have showcased and perhaps even travel to Haiti themselves. If only one person is moved to get involved, we will count it as a success.

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Music

SMC – Your self-titled EP ‘Soap Box Duo’ is dynamic! I have had a listen and love it! What has the radio support for your EP been like? Are there any stations you would like to shout out to?

SBD – Thank you. 105.9 Shine FM, 88.5 FM CJSR, CBC Radio 1, 106.5 Mountain FM, 90.5 CFCR FM and GRadio are a few local stations that gave our first album a chance on air! We are super grateful to these guys for their support.

SMC – Can you tell us what the album means to you both ‘thematically’?

SBD – Thematically you could say it was an introduction to us as Soap Box Duo. This album shares about the start of our relationship as well as some of the first experiences in our marriage. It also talks a little bit about some of Alexander’s struggles before meeting Jenesa and the couple’s passion to help those affected by sexual abuse.

SMC – Which song is your favorite off the EP and why?

SBD – Our favorite song would have to be “Silver Lining” because it’s very emotional for the two of us. During our first ear of marriage we both had full-time jobs, we were teaching music in the evenings and we were trying to get Soap Box Duo started writing songs, rehearsing covers and building our online presence. We barely had time to get to know each other and those moments where we could stop and be with each other was the silver lining in our busy lives.

SMC – Let’s delve into the album ‘Serenaded Through Seaweed’ which appears to be a compilation album – can you tell us more about how you went from the Alternative Folk to Electronic genre with your song ‘Adventure Island’?

SBD – We were honored to be asked by our friend, Nathaniel Sutton, to be guest vocalists on a song he wrote with his band ‘Brother Octopus’! Nathaniel was so fun to work with. We laughed a lot when recording the ‘gang vocal’ bit from the tune.

SMC – What music do you have planned coming up? Can we expect another EP or album release in the near future?

SBD – After interviewing producers from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and even Nashville, this December we will be recording with Justin ‘Dunna’ McDonough of Resonate Music Studio here in E-Town. It will be a 6-song album. We have been working on developing our “vintage-pop” sound and excited to showcase our strengths as writers, vocalists and instrumentalists. ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse has been an inspiration to us as we’ve been preparing for our next recording project.

SMC – I know that your Haiti project would have been very time-consuming but I was curious to know if you were inspired to song-write while you were there?

SBD – When we were in Haiti we didn’t have the time or energy to song-write, unfortunately. Now that we are home and working super hard at getting the concert event ready, we haven’t quite had the chance to process our experiences in Haiti. We did however write a song leading into our trip called ‘Greenback’ which is about poverty and can be found on our YouTube channel.  

SMC – Aside from your November event, are there any other shows you plan on performing at during the holiday season?

SBD – There are a number of events we will be performing at during the Christmas season. One, for example, is a corporate function at the Hotel MacDonald. These are great events that give us a chance to share our music while making money to pay the bills! Ha ha.

Much of our month will be spent on recording and preparation for an upcoming opportunity that we hope to announce soon on our social platforms.

Personal Life 

SMC – You two are a team and are always together – how do you separate career from home life?

SBD – Ha ha. This is something we haven’t quite figured out yet. We honesty don’t have much separation between our career and our personal life since we work from home and are both working all hours of the day. We really do love what we do and are happy to spend every moment together focusing on living a life of purpose.

SMC- How did you two meet and just know you were meant to have a career together?

Alexander- When we were still in school, Jenesa asked if I wanted to do a book study on ‘Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren with her. The book was so good for us because it asked questions that really reached into the core of who each of us were, what we had lived through and who we wanted to become. This was actually how I ended up sharing, for the first time in my life, about having been sexually abused as a child. There was a closeness we shared so early in our friendship that led to us collaborating, dating, dreaming about a future and eventually marrying- all with Soap Box Duo in mind.

SMC – I would like for you both to answer this one: What is the one thing you admire about the other the most in terms of personal and career?

Alexander- I can’t pick one. I admire Jenesa’s work ethic and creative ideas musically and business-wise. She has an incredible gift for lyrics and melodies. She is strong everywhere I am weak which makes us a fantastic team.

Jenesa- Wow, this is a hard one! On a personal level I would say that I most admire his honesty. Trust is such a crucial part of any healthy relationship and I am so grateful that I have someone I can really trust. As for our career I would say that his true love and magnetism to music and creativity is what I admire most. He could honestly sit and create on his guitar for hours and he’d even forget to eat! I guess that’s where I come in 😉

SMC – What has been the greatest compliment a fan has ever given you?

SBD – The greatest thing we have heard from our fans is when they have come up and explained how one of our songs really touched them. To know that something we created has positively impacted someone else’s life is extraordinary.

SMC – Which social media platform are you on the most and why?

Jenesa- We use Facebook the most because we have the largest engaged fan-base there. Plus, I’m not super “techy” and Facebook is user-friendly. Haha.

SMC – Alright – final question: What is at the top of your list places to perform in and why?

SBD – We are excited to perform in any space with engaged listeners but I think we would LOVE to do large theaters and arena shows.

SMC – Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!

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Soap Box Duo Bio

Coming onto the scene early fall of 2015, this prolific pair saturated the Edmonton and area music scene playing more than 200 live performances to date! Alexander and Jenesa MacMullin are a Canadian pop duo with a folk undertone, hinting of both rock and jazz. This powerhouse vocalist and innovative guitarist met at jazz school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Their unique sound is influenced by the music of The Civil Wars, John Mayer, Aretha Franklin and Gungor, to name a few. Their passion is to use music as their ‘soap box’ to encourage and inspire others toward justice. The couple writes and performs about topics that stir their hearts, from personal experiences to being an empathetic voice for the burdened. These two create catchy melodies and unique instrumentation as a foundation for their lyrics; lyrics that they hope will be both heard and felt by their listeners.

Since January 2016, the couple has released a music video, recorded & released their first EP, appeared on Shaw Television and were featured on multiple radio stations including CBC Radio 1. In fall the couple was nominated for the GMA’s 38th Covenant Award for “New Artist of the Year” for 2016. Their track, “Kissed the Girls” was a finalist in the Los Angeles Top Vocalist competition and the New York John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The two took to the road in March 2017 on their first Western Canadian Tour and, most recently, the duo’s song “Complexion” has been nominated for the Edmonton Music Award for the “Adult Alternative Recording of the Year” for 2016. Just last month the dynamic couple attended an intimate songwriters retreat with Judy Stakee, formerly of Warner Chappell in LA, where they ventured to further hone their craft as musical storytellers.

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Soap Box Duo Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

YouTube

iTunes

 

SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets ‘Lights All Askew’: A Bright Star in the SMC Sky

The sultry and soulful vocals of Alaska-based Singer/Songwriter Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets is unmistakable and after only one listen to his most recent album ‘Lights All Askew’, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. Since 2016, when the album was originally released, for some reason or other, Chris and I just couldn’t seem to connect. It wasn’t until this summer via twitter had our paths crossed yet again and I finally was able to secure a firm date for our exclusive SMC Spotlight interview (see below).

Since the early part of the 1990’s, Chris Watkins has been blazing a trail for the indie music scene in the north though consistent music releases and live performances and even with the massive changes to media and the introduction of social media, he has adapted seamlessly. Throughout the ‘Lights All Askew’ album, vintage folk/rock influences of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed (the Artists influences) are prevalent. This is a nice transition from his previous album ‘London Can take It’ (2015) which was a ‘comeback kid’ sound stemming from his previous work. It was actually the album title song ‘London Can Take It’ which piqued my interest in 2016 when I began my research on the band. If you are wondering what ‘new music discovery’ you’d like to add to your music collection, Chris Watkins Drunk Poets is THE music to add. With an established discography history, there will be plenty of treasures to choose from. I recommend spending a weekend immersed in the comfort of your living room, make sure your stereo has the best speakers, light some candles, and play loud. I guarantee you won’t want to go to work on Monday…it’s THAT soothing to the soul.

This is our first SMC Spotlight Numbered Series on Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets and it most certainly won’t be our last. This is an Artist we enthusiastically welcome to the SMC Music Family for his primordial and titillating sound that has now earned him a permanent place next to the already stellar talent we support. Welcome to the SMC Family Chris!

Chris Watkins
photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets

SMC – Hello Chris! This interview has been a very long time coming! I have been following your music career journey for over a year now. Let’s begin with an introduction as to who you are. Can you tell us about your career and your journey into the music scene?

Chris – Hello Candice. It is an honor to be here, thank you. I started performing and recording music at the age of 16 in South Central Alaska. Since then I have recorded 7 albums and am currently recording the 8th which will be due out sometime between now and Christmas.

SMC – Being a writer myself, and a lover of poetry…. can you tell me about your name Drunk Poets? How did you arrive at that?

Chris – A former member of the band invented it and it was inspired by Dylan Thomas.

SMC – Can you tell me about the projects you are presently working on?

Chris – It is an adaptation of a novel called ‘Derevnia’s Daughters‘, which is a historical novel about the island of Afognak, which was written by Lola Harvey and published in 1993.

SMC – That sounds amazing1 You are SO active and supportive on the Indie Music Scene via social media! Can you tell us which platform you gravitate to most for connecting with your peers?

Chris – Twitter

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC – Can you tell us which peer you have met on social media who has been influential in your career journey?

Chris – Just as important as the artists are the people who give them a place to be heard: (in no particular order) EGH Radio #UnsignedHour, #MusicHourUK, Candice Marshall at Starlight Music Chronicles, Al Yardy at KB Radio, Mark Riley, Jon Zombie, Paradisemoon Radio, Tracey at Music Talks, Ronnie at Bigtime Radio, Jeff at Eclectic Music Lover, Only Rock Radio, and the one and only Bernadette at Rock-fm.caBernie on the Air‘!

SMC – If you could name one person you would like to collaborate with in future who would that be and why?

Chris – I cannot pick just one, but to list a few (in no particular order) …Hannah Clive, The Puss Puss Band, Erica (The Erica Band), Jamie Slate, Zel Florizel, Mark Riley, Lakisha Skinner at Klef Notes, Edmond Crabtree (Lost Generation), Stan Stewart, Robert Segarra, Ghostly Beard, Kamikaze Funtime and of course the brilliant Addie.

SMC – Are there talks of any collaborations in future with other artists?

Chris – Yes, Hannah Clive and the Puss Puss Band.

SMC – Can you tell me what the radio response to your album ‘Lights All Askew’ has been like?

Chris – The response to ‘Lights All Askew’ in the digital radio community has been nothing less than extraordinary.

SMC – I am a fan of your song ‘Dark Old House’ – can you tell me about the ‘theme’ of this song lyrically?

Chris – Calvinist chic.

SMC – What instrument do you create your songs on?

Chris – The guitar.

SMC – What is the song-writing process like for you? I always like to ask this question because so many have such a different approach to this…

Chris – I spend half of the year reading and the other half writing and recording.

SMC – Which song off this last album has received the most attention from fans?

Chris – ‘Cheerleader in Love‘.

SMC – Which song overall has received the most traction with your fans and radio?

Chris – ‘They Can’t Hurt You Anymore‘.

SMC – I know that many artists create ‘themes’ for their albums…can you tell us the themes of each of your albums?

Chris –

Empty Rooms (1992) A view from the edge of the American empire.

Going Down Slow (1994) A picture of psycho sociological

Nail it Down (2001) A collection of short stories for the Nashville set

Lazy Mountain Moon (2005) Amalgamation of southern and northern myths

Winter Birds (2013) An act of sheer desperation

London Can Take It (2015) The sound of me getting back on my feet

Lights All Askew (2016) Twilight on tape

SMC – How do you think you have developed as an artist between albums?

Chris – Exponentially.

SMC – What has the media response to the ‘Lights All Askew’ album been like?

Chris – I could not ask for more.

SMC – Can you tell us where most of your fanbase is located?

Chris – Anywhere there is still a light in the window.

SMC – What do you think is the positive about social media in terms of building an artists career?

Chris – The digital platforms will be the infrastructure in the 21st century.

SMC – What do you think the negative attributes of social media are or can be?

Chris – It is naive to think that corporate control of the sphere is not inevitable in some form.

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC – What are your thoughts on Spotify being the ‘way of the future’ in terms of rapidly becoming THE place for artists to have their music showcased?

Chris – If it is not Spotify it will be another platform just like the alternate media in the Soviet Union during the cold war.

SMC – What is the music scene up there in Alaska? I was curious to find out what the music scene was like or even the support for artists up there…

Chris – I have no idea, I am too busy going to work.

SMC – When was your ‘Ah Ha’ moment in terms of knowing music was going to be the career path meant for you?

Chris – There was no one moment, I just got better at writing songs.

SMC – Can you tell us if there are any other creative projects aside from music that you are currently or will be working on?

Chris – Staying alive.

SMC – Where has been your most favorite live performance to date and why?

Chris – The band on the ‘Going Down Slow’ album played to 10 people in Girdwood Alaska in 1995, and it was the best show I have ever seen or heard.

SMC – Who would you like to give a ‘shout out’ to for being supportive of your music career?

Chris – Yes, everyone I listed above. The radio stations, the DJs, the music blogs, my fellow indie-artists, friends and followers. Many thanks to you all.

SMC – Which kind of music or musicians do you naturally gravitate to?

Chris – The dangerous ones.

SMC – If you had to describe your ‘sound’ to a new fan, how would you best describe it?

Chris – Snow on the telephone wire.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you in terms of what you aren’t willing to do for the success of your career?

Chris – Lick Napoleon’s boots.

SMC – Can you tell us five things about yourself that no one knows anything about?

Chris – yes.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of new music or live performances?

Chris – I am focusing on finishing my next album.

SMC – Okay, final question: Fill in the blank – ‘If I weren’t a Musician, I would be a __________.

Chris – Corpse.

 

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Chris Watkins ‘Lights All Askew’ Allbum
photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

Social Media Links (click to view)

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SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview | Actor: Mateus Ward is ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

By Candice Anne Marshall

How do you begin a review of an Actor who, at the age of only 18 has surpassed any milestone that the average young adult has? I mean, we’re not talking about the first car, first girlfriend, first job, and graduation kind of milestones here either…this is something on a much grander scale…..

I am referring to the kind of milestones that only Los Angeles, California-based Actor Mateus Ward has come to achieve in his short, but very accomplished acting career thus far. In fact, his very persona reminds me of a middle-aged Johnny Cash: cool, confident, and bonafide talented without ever giving an air of pretension. I have observed him in interviews since the launch of the film ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ in the Film Festival circuit, (where he plays lead Actor) and without fail, he exudes these aforementioned traits. I have also read interviews where he has been referred to as ‘an old soul’ and his responses are concise, sometimes cheeky, and brimming with mature sophistication. Ward has also mentioned his early talent for Elvis impersonations (he loves Elvis) at a musical theater debut which later earned him scores of wicked television roles (see film and television credits below his social media links) and an impressive roster of film credits under his belt as well. He has often played dark characters and delivers them with the kind of graceful, undaunted candor that, in relation to the acting realm, I can only compare to a young Marlon Brando. In fact, looking further into Wards’ background, I would never have guessed that his portrayal of Clyde Thompson in ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ was that of a man half that age. (see my interview with his Father, Director of the film, Justin Ward here)

In this true-story film of convicted murderer Clyde Thompson, Ward manages to take this role from an innocent boy, to an aggressive and hostile young man, to a redeemed middle-aged man of faith seamlessly all in a matter of an intense 105-minute thrill-ride. The accuracy to which he portrays Thompsons’ character in this film is genuine in delivery and fiery in emotional display. Because his performance was so historically accurate to the original Clyde Thompson, Ward (recently) earned himself the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the IndieFEST Film awards in Florida. This doesn’t surprise me, in fact, I predict this to be the start of a successful string of awards to come. It does take a lot for young Hollywood to impress me since the days of Molly Ringwald and the ‘Brat Pack’(and even the original ‘rat pack’ for that matter), but Ward has earned the utmost respect from me for his ability to take this role at such a young age and make it undeniably twenty-four carat authentic. If you have any opportunity to attend a Film Festival where ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ is showing, make sure you are there!

So, here’s my summation of Mateus Ward: undeniably, for me, he has earned the right to be compared to the reputable likes of Johnny Cash (even arriving to premieres all in black) and Marlon Brando (that confidence!). Yet, even with all comparisons to music and Hollywood royalty aside, there really is only one Mateus Ward, and he really is that predominantly paramount, remarkably distinguished, and naturally skilled. AND – he will always dance to the beat of his own drum.  Period.

I connected recently with Ward for an exclusive interview for our SMC SPOTLIGHT. Here is what he had to say:

 

(l-r) ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ lead Actors Mateus Ward and Alexandra Bard Photo credit and courtesy of: Joshua Shultz | Bellus Magazine

SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview | Actor: Mateus Ward ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

May 9th, 2017

SMC – Hello Mateus! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! We have been profiling some of the industry’s top Actors, Musicians, and Fashion celebrity profiles for a couple years now and are happy to add you to this roster. Let’s begin with an introduction: we discovered you via our friend and peer Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine) who also Directed the short film ‘STROBE’ which you have a starring role in. What are your thoughts on how the film will have in terms of an impact on society?

Mateus – I believe that STROBE will shock people into realizing the collateral danger of hard drugs.

SMC – Do you think that this film could be an educational tool on the effects of drugs and how they impact people’s lives?

Mateus – Absolutely! I really think it will wake people up!

SMC – What was it like working with Joshua Shultz (Director | STROBE)?

Mateus – Josh is a great friend of mine! He’s a true artist in every sense of the word. Working with him was a true pleasure and such a blast.

SMC – Okay, so let’s get into your film credentials – your film reel roster is impressive! Which films/TV shows are/were your favorite to be a part of and why?

Mateus – I have so many amazing memories from all of these sets, I’ve created amazing friendships with people. Tyrel Jackson Williams (Lab Rats, Brockmire) and I still hang out, and I’m always in touch with my onscreen sister Quinn Shephard (Hostages, Blame) I’ve kept in touch with most of the people I have worked with, but if I had to chose, the two best work environments had to be “Murder in the First” and “The Meanest Man in Texas.” The cast and crew on each of them were like a family!

SMC – What is it like for you to prepare for a role? You go from being a meth addict in ‘STROBE’ to being a hardcore criminal in ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ to a Disney XD role on Lab Rats…. this has to involve some devoted time to studying for these kinds of roles and becoming the characters you are portraying. Tell us what your process is like when preparing for a role.

Mateus – I think each actor has their own process.  I like to start with research of the world or time period, then answer all the motivation and intention questions of the character and get to know them, then find their physicality.

SMC – Let’s get into your role as Clyde Thompson in The Meanest Man in Texas – can you tell us how you landed this?

Mateus – Pure nepotism! Just kidding, my father was offered to direct the film and I set out to prove to him and the producers I could play this part.  I read the book, studied the history, learned the accent, and eventually won the part.

**Spoiler Alert**

SMC – There are some pretty intense scenes in this film that I have to give you a ‘hat’s off’ nod to. For instance, the scene where you took a ‘whupping’ from ‘Captain Colt’ (played by Actor Jamie McShane) – wow! These are things that not very many youth today know anything about. How did you prepare mentally for that kind of a situation?

Mateus – I focus on the situation, and play it as real as I can.  For that scene, I honestly don’t remember much. I was just going through it.

SMC – In terms of the emotion portrayed in your character…. scenes like when Clyde is told his father has passed away, how do you prepare yourself for that kind of emotional expression? What frame of mind do you have to be in to get the emotions right?

Mateus – For me, as an actor, it always comes down to being in the moment. I tend to stay away from “tricks” or “substitutions.” That is not to say that I don’t use them. I think an actor needs to utilize whatever is necessary to convey a moment. I have always had an intense imagination, so putting myself in someone else’s shoes was always easy for me, once I’ve put in the work to know everything I can about a character.

SMC – Some of the scenes were played so well, I had actual tears! What are your thoughts on the story line and events that happened in the life of the real Clyde Thompson?

Mateus – It’s hard to believe all of these things actually happened to him.  His story is unreal in so many ways, I felt an obligation to play it all as real as I could.

SMC – The scene where your father (played by Ben Reed) comes to you and encourages you to have faith in God…your reaction to him was pretty intense! (‘There ain’t no God! There ain’t no word!’) Can you tell us what filming scenes like that were for you? Religion is such a controversy these days….

Mateus – When playing any character, no matter who they are, you have to throw out all of your pre-conceived notions and beliefs. I believe I really learned this while playing a school shooter on “Murder in the First.” There is a certain level of separation that has to be done before you can play a character truthfully. I personally am not religious, but Clyde was. This story is about Clyde’s redemption he so happened to find through faith. Therefore, it is my job as an actor to put all my personal opinions to rest, so Clyde’s could come out to play. I always find that once I do that, I fall in love with every character I play. In that particular scene, it’s all about where Clyde is, mentally, at that point. So, I guess, in short form, I just played what Clyde was going through.

(l-r) Justin Ward, MateusWard, JamieMcShane
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

SMC – I love the ‘Got a Light?’ smart-alec comebacks woven in throughout…. you have one of those faces that can portray an angelic innocent young man and then a devilish hell-child (laughs)…. which of the two personalities can you relate to more?

Mateus – Depends on the day…

SMC- (laughs) Fair comment! Your on-screen chemistry with ‘Julia’ (played by Alexandra Bard) was also intense. Can you tell us a few words about your thoughts on her performance in this film?

Mateus – She made it easy to have that chemistry.  She is an amazing actress and we had a blast on set.

SMC – I am going to ask the inevitable: what was it like working with your father on this project? (Justin Ward: Director of The Meanest Man in Texas)

Mateus – It was incredible! We read each other’s mind the whole time! He would go “Hey MC, how about—” and I’d reply, “I was just thinking that!”

SMC – On May 6th, you earned the award for ‘Best Actor’ at the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) – That’s impressive! What are your thoughts on that?

Mateus – It is such an honor to be recognized for my work.

SMC – Can you tell us which other accomplishments in your career you are particularly proud of and why?

Mateus – Getting a chance to do what I love is the best accomplishment.

SMC – Can you tell us the most memorable fan moment you have had in your career?

Mateus – I was in New York on Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Hostages” and we took a family trip out to Mantauk.  I tweeted I was there, and on our way back that night, my sister saw a tweet from a fan, so she got her address and we paid a surprise visit.  Our families met and it was really cool.  Another great moment, was meeting young women with scoliosis in Nashville during the film festival.  These girls are so courageous and it was great to meet them and their mothers and hear their stories.

SMC – What are five unique things about you that no one else knows about? (our readers love this one)

Mateus – I am obsessed with Elvis.  I love to draw and paint.  I play piano.  I have a 1953 Chevy truck.  I am unhealthily addicted to superheroes and comic books.

SMC – I read that you have lived in Hawaii for a few years before pursuing a career in acting. Can you tell us what lead to your family’s move to LA?

Mateus – I like to believe it’s because I wanted to pursue acting, but I think it was during the recession, it was a tough time and we moved back where there was more work.

SMC – What inspired you to pursue a career in acting?

Mateus – I have always been a performer.  I was super shy, and it was a way to hide behind characters.  I didn’t even need an audience.  I just liked pretending and using my imagination.  I was a little Elvis impersonator at like 5, and I think that sparked the acting thing.

SMC – Which of your peers in the film have you created a bond with as a result of your character in the film?

Mateus – Alex and I have become close because of filming and on the festival circuit.  But the most entertaining friendship is the bizarre “Tron” inside joke between Anthony Guerino and I, who plays Barney in the film.  On set he suddenly approached me and asked, “Did someone say Tron?” It became a running joke.  Now we text each other with Tron mimes, gifs and jokes all the time.  He’s so funny!

SMC – Your whole family has such amazing talent! I did read about your sister as well – has she been involved in any of the projects you have worked on?

Mateus – It was a family production.  Our company is Ohana Films, Inc. Ohana means family in Hawaiian.

SMC – That’s lovely! What has the family support been like for your career?

Mateus – I honestly couldn’t have done what I have done without my family and their support.  My mother is the best.  She used to own a salon and stopped working to make sure I could follow my dream.

SMC – Can you tell us your thoughts on your father’s work on this film?

Mateus – He did alright… I mean for his first film.  Just kidding!  Who gets to act in a film their father directs?  It was incredible.  He was so prepared, had such a clear vision, and yet, since we didn’t have much time, he was able to improvise and shoot on the fly in order to make the days.  All the actors and crew respected him, and went the extra mile for him.  It was an amazing experience.

(l-r) Justin Ward, MateusWard
Photo Property of ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – For an Actor so young, did you feel intimidated by this role at all? You did so well!

Mateus – Thank you! It was one of those things that I was always worried about. I wasn’t necessarily worried about doing it. I knew that once I put in the work, I could get there. I was mostly worried about how people would receive it. The title of the movie has the word “Man” in it! I knew it would cause shock and a lot of doubt from the audience before hand, but the way the movie is formatted I think it works very well. I have always been told I have an old soul, and to be honest, it was more challenging to play the young version of Clyde.

SMC – Have you had any personal experiences that have shaped you personally and prepared you for the kinds of roles you have been playing as of late?

Mateus – Let’s see an evil robot who shoots lazers and is telekinetic, a smart-ass son of a drug dealer, an actual drug dealer, a school shooter and a 40-year-old man convicted of three murders?  Hmmm… can’t really say I’ve had any of those personal experiences…

SMC -Ha ha ha – fair enough…. Where can the general public see The Meanest Man in Texas?

Mateus – We are still on the festival circuit.  But check out our social media, all #TheMeanestManInTexas for updates.

SMC – Have you been approached for other roles as a result of this film?

Mateus – Not that I can discuss…

SMC – What advice can you give to new Actors pursuing a career in Hollywood?

Mateus – Work, work, work! Study film, watch as many old and new programs as you can. Challenge yourself! Make sure it is truly what you love, because it’s not easy.

SMC – Since we are also a Music website – can you tell us who the top five Artists are in your favorites playlist?

Mateus – Jason Mraz, Chance the Rapper, Elvis Presley, Childish Gambino, and Panic! at the Disco

SMC – We would like to continue profiling you via our SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series. This is a documented chronological journey of our most celebrated Artists throughout their career. Is this something that would appeal to you?

Mateus – Sounds great!

SMC – Alright, final question…finish this sentence: If I didn’t pursue a career in Acting, I would be………

Mateus – I don’t know what I’d be if I weren’t an actor… I’ve never had a back up plan!

SMC – Thank you Mateus!

____________________

Actor Mateus Ward is ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ Photo by: Deborah Kolb

Mateus Wards’ Social Media links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Actor Mateus Ward at the Red Carpet Premiere in Los Angeles May 5th, 2017
Photo property of ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

Film and Television: Wards television credits include: Murder in the First, Hostages, NCIS, Disney XD’s Lab Rats, Weeds, Parenthood, Norn MacDonald Show, Outnumbered (Pilot), Criminal Minds, Pit Boss, and The Incredible Bean (Pilot). Film credits include: Lonely Boy, House Painting, The Afterlife, The Hall Monitor, Devil’s Eyes, Love in the Time of Flannel, STROBE, and now, The Meanest Man In Texas.

DIRECTOR: JUSTIN WARD ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ | Exclusive SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Recently, we posted a SPOTLIGHT on Director Joshua Shultz for his short film ‘STROBE’ complete with an in-depth interview with he and his leading lady for the film, Chelsea Debo. In researching the background on other Actors in the film a little further, I discovered Los Angeles, California-based Actor Mateus Ward (see Mateus Wards’ in-depth SMC SPOTLIGHT interview/review here). His role as a meth addict in this film was so convincing, I decided I needed to know more about him. That’s when I stumbled across his Facebook Fan page and discovered he was cast as lead Actor in the upcoming film, ‘The Meanest Man in Texas‘(just hitting the Film Festival circuit now). This lead me down the rabbit hole and what I discovered was a kaleidoscope of magnificent talent and that talent has a name: Justin Ward.

Ward is the Director and genius behind this compelling film and it is evident in every detail that was portrayed historically and thematically. ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ is a true story account (set in the late 1920’s and onward) following the life of Clyde Thompson, who, at the age of 17 was convicted of murder (self-defense) and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Within hours of his inevitable fate, Texas Governor Ross Sterling reduced his sentence to life in prison. This began the true account story (title of the same name) written in the early 1980’s by Author Don Umphrey who compiled a detailed and documented account of what turned this young man into what the media would later label ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’.

Photo still of Actor Captain Colt played by Jamie McShane at the Prison Farm where Clyde Thompson was placed.
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

Aesthetically, this film scores high in my list of epic true-story cinematography: I have always been a fan of vintage films and the imagery, costumes, sets and final produced result of this film is exquisite. Lead Actors Mateus Ward (yes, he is Justin’s son, also, plays Clyde Thompson), and Alexandra Bard (Julia, Thompson’s love interest and savior) bring depth and emotion with conviction. I admit, I was a blubbering mess each time their on-screen relationship was tested with inevitable challenges and hurdles.

Actor Jamie McShane lends combustible energy to his role as Captain Colt. Now, I don’t want to give too many of the details away (you’ll just have to attend the Film Festival circuit to see what I mean!), but let’s just say that the friction between Wards’ and McShanes’ characters was on-the-seat-of-your-chair gripping, explosive, sometimes humorous, and compassionate. Characters throughout the film such as Ben Reed (Thompson’s grief-stricken Father), and Casey Bond (Preacher) lend depth to this already intense story. My hats’ off to Casting Director Laura Ward who, clearly, has a true penchant for recognizing strengths and weaknesses in each Actor and has suitably matched them for every role in this film – brilliant! A full list of the cast and crew for this film can be found (here).

There aren’t a lot of films anymore that motivate me to head to the theater and feel inspired by their stories and I am also not the kind of individual to watch even much television these days. For me to sit more than 10 minutes during any film, whether it be in the theater or in the comfort of my office or home, it must be compelling in its content, visuals, and supported by stellar performances. ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ is this complete package delivered by a ‘Rolls Royce’ caliber cast and crew. Having a Journalist background, I am drawn to factual-based films where accuracy portrayed in the overall details, visual, and acting is congruent to the time/era it takes place in. In my opinion, Justin Ward along with Producers Casey Bond and Brad Wilson (Higher Purpose Entertainment, in association with OHAHA FILMS, Inc.) have brought truth, humor, emotion, and enlightenment to this otherwise dark story that I am certain will inspire viewers to look beyond misfortune to know that there is always hope and the ability to achieve a positive outcome.

If you haven’t heard about this film yet or the cast and crew mentioned, I encourage you to check out the social media links after this interview and stay tapped in to find out when it will be available for public viewing and where. In the meantime, spend two minutes of your day and check out the trailer to this incredible film below.

And did I mention the films ‘Rolls Royce’ caliber?

You’re welcome.

Director Justin Ward Photo by: Joshua Shultz Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | DIRECTOR: JUSTIN WARD ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

May 9th, 2017

SMC – Hello Justin! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! We have begun expanding SMC into other areas of the arts such as the Film Industry. We are thrilled to be talking to you today about your new film ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’. Let’s begin first with some background questions…. can you tell us about your role in the making of this film?

JUSTIN: Thank you.  I am the director and co-writer of the film. 

SMC – Can you share your career background with us?

JUSTIN: I began my career working for Mick Jagger at Jagged Films, his film production company.  I went on to work as an assistant to the producers on several studio feature films, and was fortunate enough to work with and observe such producers and directors as Robert Redford, Norman Jewison, James L. Brooks, Richard Donner, Ron Shelton, Arnon Milchan, Joel Silver, and Grant Hill.  I developed a documentary sports series for extreme sports for ESPN, and produced and directed over 300 hours of programming from 1999-2005 on that network.  In 2006, I was the Showrunner on a magazine TV series called “Inside the UFC” for Spike TV. I also created and was the Showrunner of “The BJ Penn Show,” and in 2011, I created, directed and Executive Produced the documentary film series “Rock Stars” on National Geographic.  In 2015, I directed the award-winning syndicated farm-to-table series “Localicious.” I have also produced, directed and edited for The UFC, The USSA, The ParaOlympics, Nascar, Warner Bros. Marketing, CBS, NBC, FOX, The Travel Channel and the NFL.  This is my feature film directorial debut.

SMC – What lead you to this story about the life of Clyde Thompson aka: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’?

JUSTIN: Mateus Ward and I wrote an anti-bully film called REBEL in 2014, and I shot a teaser to help raise financing.  Brad Wilson, one of the producers of “The Meanest Man In Texas” read the script and saw my teaser.  He and his partner Casey Bond brought the project to me and asked me to direct it.  I worked with writer Don Umphrey on the script for a few months, then we jumped right into production.  It all happened very quickly.

SMC – Let’s get into the details of the film itself: how much of Clyde’s life story was accurate in this film? Sometimes in films, there is a true account of the biographical story and in others, it’s a ‘based on’ account….

JUSTIN: When I read the book, it was hard to believe any of this could have happened to one man!  I was blown away by this unbelievable story.  So, it wasn’t hard to stick to the truth—it was more dramatic and exciting than any fiction.  Don Umphrey had spent years talking to Clyde Thompson and others to get all the facts, and we felt it was important to stay as close as we could to his true story.  All the situations actually happened, and are true.  However, we flushed out a few characters that Clyde knew or mentioned, but didn’t give much detail about.  When I started on the script, I wanted to really explore more deeply Clyde and Julia and Clyde and Capt. Colt’s relationships. 

SMC – Can you tell us what the importance of telling this story though film was to you? How did it resonate with you personally?

JUSTIN: I was so moved by this story, I had to tell it.  There were so many themes that resonated with me in the story.  First, I think it is a powerful story about redemption.  That no matter how dark things get, there is always hope.  The other theme I wanted to explore is the idea of how a corrupt justice and penal system can change you.  Clyde went into prison a typical teenager, quite innocent in many ways, and soon gained the moniker “the Meanest Man In Texas.”  I wanted to make a film that asks the fundamental question: do circumstances define who we are, or can we become the person we want to be in life, no matter our circumstances?  Once I started re-writing the script, what really resonated with me in the true story was the unconditional love between Clyde and Julia, so I wanted to make sure we flush that element out more.  Society wants to put us in boxes, they try and label us, for example he’s “a killer” and she’s a “hunchback,” but this is a story about two people who didn’t accept those labels—in fact, they defied them—and loved each other unconditionally regardless of how society saw them.   So, for me, it became a powerful story about redemption, forgiveness and acceptance, and that was the film I wanted to make. 

(l-r) Justin Ward, Mateus Ward, Jamie McShane
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

SMC – I also see that Don Umphrey, the author who wrote ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ was involved in this project as well. Can you tell us how much of a benefit he was to have included in the making of this film?

JUSTIN: Don was a wealth of information. Having met and spoken with Clyde himself was a huge resource.  It took Don 39 years to get this story to the big screen.  I was very respectful when changing the script and ran everything by him, just to make sure it was historically correct.

SMC – Your Casting Director Laura Ward did an excellent job at assembling the Actor profiles for this film! Can you tell us a little bit about her background and what vision she had for the film also? (this could even be a question you could let her answer)

JUSTIN: Laura was amazing. Laura has a phenomenal eye and worked around the clock to find the best actors for every single role.  Every actor we cast was incredibly talented!  It was such a joy collaborating on this with my wife.  I knew we had little time for rehearsal with the actors, and most likely we would get no more than a couple of takes, so we were really looking at auditions and audition tapes where the actors were “performance ready,” with maybe a few adjustments.  

LAURA WARD:  It was really important for us to find actors that looked vintage, as if they were from that era.  We saw a lot of actors from popular shows, but it was important to find classic faces and great acting.  During the process, it was great to see how many actors came really prepared and embodied the character they were portraying.  I come from an acting background and have studied with some great teachers.  Being the mother of a young actor, and watching roles being put out on breakdown, cast and then filmed, I was able to use that experience in searching for our cast.  I was seeking actors who brought something special to each character.  I am so very proud of this cast!

SMC – In conversation with you, this past weekend you earned ‘Best Picture’ at the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) Film Festival in Florida! What an accomplishment! What are your thoughts on this?

JUSTIN: It is such an honor to win a Best Picture award. The festival also gave Mateus Ward a Best Actor in a Feature Film award.  Brad Wilson, our producer, was in Orlando for ICFF, and said it was an extremely successful screening and festival. 

SMC – Tell us about your LA premiere? Can you tell us what some of the reactions to the film were?

JUSTIN: I was thrilled we were accepted to the Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival in Beverly Hills.  It was great to show the film to our friends, family and industry peers.  The reaction was amazing, and many people stayed after the Q&A to continue to discuss the film, which was incredible.

SMC – The emotion that was expressed in this film was very intense and laced with some humor throughout (‘Got a light?’) – can you tell us if that was your personal touch to the film or if those were true accounts of the kinds of things the real Clyde would have said or done?

JUSTIN: I have to admit, the line “Got a light?” was my addition.  However, it was based on Clyde Thompson’s type of humor.  I like to think it was something he would have said.  I didn’t have much time, but I did my best to add humor and charm into the film where we could, since it was such a dark series of situations.  The casting director and I wanted to make sure that the actor Barney had a great sense of humor, and Anthony Guerino brought in a lot of awkward charm and humor to the role.

(l-r) Justin Ward, Mateus Ward
Photo Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – What are your thoughts on Mateus’s skill as an Actor in this film?

JUSTIN:  I can’t explain how extraordinary it was to work with my son on this project.  I may be biased, but I believe he is one of the most talented actors of his generation.  The fact that he’s won 3 lead actor awards for this film, backs up my belief.  I don’t know any 17-year-old that could pull off what he did in this film, let alone many actors of any age.  Not only did he lose 17 pounds for the role, research for months, reached out to the family, but he also learned a very difficult accent and certain cadence, aged himself up physically and vocally, and carried the film.  The role required so much emotional, mental and physical range, and he nailed it.  I am extremely proud of his work on this film. 

SMC – I discovered your film through an industry peer – Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine, Director: STROBE), can you tell us what your connection with Joshua is?

JUSTIN: We met Joshua through an article he was doing on Mateus back in 2013.  We have all kept in touch, and Joshua asked Mateus to be in his anti-drug film STROBE.

SMC – With the SMC SPOTLIGHT, we have begun a ‘Spotlight numbered series’ with some of our high-profile clients and would like to continue following your journey and career. Is this something that would interest you?

JUSTIN: Yes.  Of course.  We would love to be a part of the Spotlight Numbered Series. 

SMC – What do you think is the value in having the support of media platforms such as SMC?

JUSTIN: SMC is such a great publication, with incredible talent and interesting interviews, I am honored to be included.  I think there is huge value in SMC sharing indie films to their audience.  Our goal as filmmakers is to make films so people can see them, and we are able to reach new audiences through publications like SMC.

SMC – Can you tell us which industry peers have been most supportive of your film? Who would you like to give a ‘shout out’ to?

JUSTIN: The success of the film is a culmination of everyone who worked on, acted in and helped support this film.  First, the executive producers Don Umphrey and Marshall Danby, have been incredible to work with on this project.  I have to thank the Producers Brad Wilson and Casey Bond, who hired me.  My wife Laura, son Mateus, and daughter Adiana for their constant support.  Shirley Roberts and Clyde Echols are members of the family who helped fill in the gaps.   It was my first film, so I reached out to a few people in the industry for advice, like Ralph Bertelle VP of Production at Paramount, Greg Berry an incredible art director and production designer, and Clenet Verdi-Rose a director and 1st AD.  So many people were so supportive, I’m sure I have missed some, but I am humbled by so much support by people like Dennis Lavalle, Eric Swanson, Andrew Morgado, PJ Ochelan and Joshua Shultz.

(l-r) Mateus Ward, Isabella Acres
Photo Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – What are some of the projects you have coming up? Are you able to share that info with our readers?

JUSTIN: I have a couple of projects that I am trying to package right now, a feature film and a music documentary.  Mateus and I are also seeking financing on the anti-bully film we wrote together called REBEL.

SMC – Will you be including Mateus in on more future projects?

JUSTIN: This was such an incredible experience for both of us, we hope to continue to work on projects together.

SMC – Pardon my ignorance, but I have never asked this question before: what is the process of getting a film completed? Can you give us a play by play from first concept to final output?

JUSTIN: Basically, it’s like bearing a child.  For this film, we had a short window of pre-production which included budgeting, scheduling, re-writes, finding locations, casting and wardrobe.  Production was 11 days.  Post production included 4 weeks of editing, color, mixing and final output. 

SMC – You had mentioned to me that this film took only 11days to complete – wow! That’s some intense shooting! Can you tell us what a typical day would be like on set from start to finish?

JUSTIN: Having only 11 days meant everyone had to be extremely prepared.  I had every shot, every angle, every beat planed out.  Then, when we got pressed for time, I had to throw away the game plan, and in the moment, create a way to get the scene shot in just one shot, with no coverage.  This happened several times a day.  The cast and crew all had to adapt and be fluid, because I refused to throw out scenes, I threw out set ups and coverage instead.  We made every day.  I couldn’t have done it without my first Assistant Director and the Cinematographer Will Barratt, or with a different cast and crew.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next several weeks and months look like in terms of Film Festivals and promotion of this film?

JUSTIN: As of now, we are waiting on a couple more film festivals, and just trying to create some buzz and get people excited about the film.

SMC – I have to say that I was pretty impressed by the portrayal Alexandra Bard gave of Julia in this film. Can you tell us what working with Alexandra was like?

JUSTIN: Alex walked into the audition and had morphed herself into Julia.  I remember after she left, I asked the casting director for her headshot, thinking I found my Julia.  When she handed me Alexandra’s headshot, it was a glamor shot of this gorgeous woman, I said, “No, the one who JUST auditioned.”  Alex is one of the actresses every director dreams to cast.  She was 100% committed to the role, did her homework, transformed herself for the role, never complained, took direction, and gave a stellar performance that has left audiences in tears.  We lucked out that she walked through the door that day.  I knew from her first audition she was our Julia.

Alexandra Bard (Julia)
Photo by: Deborah Kolb

SMC – Some of the other Actors in the film had some pretty stellar skills presented in the film also. Ben Reed, who played Clyde’s Father was compelling! Jamie McShane as Captain Colt – that was also intense! How do you feel about the skills that these two gentlemen portrayed?

JUSTIN: I am proud of every actor in this film.  We assembled some amazingly talented actors, and they all stepped up and delivered strong performances.  I cannot say enough about Jamie McShane.  In New York, he won Best Supporting Actor at the Film Festival, and deserves many more awards for his performance.  Jamie was a pleasure to work with and he stepped in and accepted this part late in the game.  He didn’t have much time to prepare.   He was so respectful of the script and my vision, yet brought so much to the role. We had some incredible discussions about Capt. Colt and his journey. Besides being a great actor, he is an extraordinary human being.  Great example of the kind of actor / person he is, Jamie arrived on day 1, and it was over 100 degrees outside.  Hotter inside the Morgue.  Jamie shows up with 2 huge cases of water on his shoulders, and passes them out to the crew.  Then stepped in, and delivered that performance that left us all mesmerized. 

SMC – At the end of shooting, and it’s time to attend Film Festivals, do you feel like the cast has become a family? I mean, this is a story about a young man whose life was changed forever but there were key people along the way that helped to bring him to this epiphany in life…. surely this is the kind of thing that would connect people.

JUSTIN: Yes.  Well, some of the cast and crew are actually family.  Seriously, there is a certain connection with people when you make a film.  This team was especially special.  We were fortunate that the entire cast and crew were all really great people, besides being so talented.  It made an impossible task fun, and everyone has been so supportive during the festival circuit.  We have all gotten very close. 

Still from ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ with Cast
Photo property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – Can you tell us all the film Festivals that ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ has been a part of and which are coming up?

JUSTIN:  We have been accepted to 7 film festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival, The New York City International Film Festival, The Beverly Hills Film Festival, IndieFEST, The International Christian Film Festival, The Los Angeles Cinefest of Hollywood, and The Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival.

SMC – What accomplishments overall can you list for us that the film has earned so far?

JUSTIN: It has been accepted to 7 festivals, with over 20 nominations and 10 wins, including a Best Picture. 

SMC – Where will the general public be able to see this film?

JUSTIN: We are still on the film festival circuit, but check our social media for any updates on distribution.

SMC – How can one of our readers reach out to find out where they can see this film?

JUSTIN: Follow us on social media for more information and updates:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

SMC – Finish this sentence: If I was not pursuing my career in Film, I would have been a……

JUSTIN: Theater Director… or a scuba or kayak instructor.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us what your thoughts are on the future of film and the role independent films play?

JUSTIN: I think studio films play a great role as pure entertainment, but it is the indie films that filmmakers have a voice.  Films such as “Mean Streets,” “Momento,” “Resevoir Dogs,” “Precious,” and “Moonlight,”  are all independent films and have very unique cinematic voices.   I think Indie films are essential to the industry, it is where stories like this can be told.

SMMC – We couldn’t agree more Justin! Fabulous work!

_____________________

Film poster for: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ Photo provided by: Justin Ward Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’

The Meanest Man In Texas Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

FKB | SPOTLIGHT interview Series No.1 ‘Bright Lights’

By Candice Anne Marshall

Have you ever had that one song that just plays on repeat and you just can’t seem to get it out of your head? When I am talking about Alberta’s own FKB, and their new single ‘Bright Lights’, I am not referring to the kind of song you want to get out of your head. I am talking about a song you spontaneously hear on a gloomy Monday afternoon whilst crunching numbers (mindlessly) that, upon first listen, it gets your toe tapping and you grinning like an idiot to your coworkers for the remainder of the day. Yes indeed, you have just heard the greatest song to come across your ears and that, dear readers, is unforgettable.

‘Bright Lights’ is a single written by FKB and produced by Grammy Award Winning Producer and Musician Clayton Bellamy (The Road Hammers, Clayton Bellamy Band). The band has worked with Bellamy on their previous album ‘123 FKB’, known for their song ‘Crystal Ball’ which was well received across the Canadian radio circuit. It’s no wonder that they would come out of the barn gates kicking it up a notch once again with ‘Bright Lights’, a catchy tune produced in true Bellamy style: unforgettable. The vocals on this single come across with meaningful intention and the instrumentation is fun, vibrant, and on point. It has been a while since I have heard a song like this (for me, Dan Davidson’s ‘Found’ is another favorite, also co-written by Bellamy) and I am certain that this is the ground work for a very successful album coming in the near future.

There’s no doubt about it, this is a band whose long tenure on the music scene and perseverance has caught the attention of our SMC SPOTLIGHT team. We will begin running a Spotlight Numbered Series on this band as we follow them on their career journey and will be anticipating more in the near future! So what are you all doing still reading this? Get this song on your iPod now! Hurry!

Just remember, you heard ‘Bright Lights’ here first.

You’re welcome.

FKB *EXCLUSIVE* Interview | SPOTLIGHT Series No. 1 ‘Bright Lights’ May 5th, 2017

SMC – Hello Gentlemen! We are so thrilled to have connected with you via our industry peer Mr. Bill Miller (Sharp 9 Music). We have worked on several SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series with Mr. Dan Davidson over the last couple years since launching himself into a solo Country music career and it seems everyone associated with Bill and Dan are super talented! Can you tell us how your connection came about in the music industry? (aside from your passion for creating it of course!)

FKB – Hello Candice! Thank you we are extremely excited that you gave us the opportunity to be in the SMC Spotlight! Our connections in the music industry largely come from Clayton Bellamy. We met him many years ago when we were playing at a car show in Bonnyville, Alberta and we began to work with him regularly. We met Dan through a songwriter’s event in Edmonton this summer and we had Clayton as a mutual friend. We met Bill this spring through both Clayton and Dan who both recommended working with him.

SMC – That’s fantastic! I was able to connect with Clayton and The Road Hammers in 2007 when they performed at Grizfest Music Festival in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. To what extent is Clayton’s involvement in your projects?

FKB – Clayton has been the producer of all our work so far. He co-wrote and produced our first EP 123 FKB and produced our new single “Bright Lights” as well as a few other songs that are yet to be released. He’s been a tremendous help in getting the sound and vibe we want and making sure everything we do sounds as good as it possibly can.

SMC – Who can all the songwriting be attributed to for the ‘123 FKB’ album (released March 28, 2014)?

FKB – All the songs on that EP were written by Drew Shalka, Derek Chalut, Zach Fontaine, Zack Moon, and Clayton Bellamy.

SMC – Can you tell us how you gentlemen came together? I am more curious about the back story on how your interests collaborated in the early days of FKB…

FKB – We initially came together in high school back in 2009 because of a desire to play Beatles and Beach Boys music. We essentially found everyone we could who was interested in playing that kind of music who was our age and began to book shows all over the local area. We would also often listen to old 30s and 40s music like Fats Waller on our way to shows so it was a slightly unusual high school rock band.

SMC – I read on your website that the band has been together for eight years now. I find that most of the bands that stay together are the ones that go through everything that is possible to break them up and yet, they get past that eight-year mark and that’s when the real magic begins. My friends The Standstills are a perfect example of this…. what are your thoughts on the ups and downs of the band?

FKB – There were definitely some serious ups and downs over the years. I have found things were the easiest in the early days before there’s any sort of actual business in place. Once things started getting serious and we began to start writing and releasing our own music as well as doing more shows, which was around the three-year mark, we began to have some issues that nearly broke up the band but we managed to work through and come out stronger than ever. We have even had a few instances where we’ve had members leave and sometimes it seems like that could be the end but each time we have managed to find the exact right people to take their place and move forward as a unit. I would say after getting through everything though it takes a lot more to shake us up than ever before.

SMC – You can certainly hear a different vibe with your newest single ‘Bright Lights’ in comparison to your earlier work. Can you tell us how you have evolved as musicians in terms of your actual sound and image?

FKB – A lot of the new vibe comes from different music we’re listening to at the time of writing and recording the songs. With the previous EP, we were listening to a lot of Kings of Leon and Green Day and had planned to make a kind of retro record with the backing tracks recorded mostly live off the floor. To accompany that we also had a bit of a more 70s rocker kind of look. Over the years, we have been listening to different styles of music and our songwriting began to take on more of a pop/rock style. After recording the last EP, we began listening to a lot of the music that was coming out and we loved how diverse and exciting it was. These were albums like Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox and Down With Webster’s Time to Win Volumes I and II. The big things we took away from those albums were the diverse sounds on Unorthodox Jukebox and the fun party atmosphere on the Down With Webster albums. We began incorporating these into our live shows first and then when it came time to make the new songs we began using more synth and keyboards and playing with the sounds on Logic and Cubase to really change things up. The image progressed to reflect the changes in the music.

SMC – What do you think are some of the biggest challenges in the music industry today?

FKB – The biggest challenge at this point would have to be breaking through to audiences. With the number of bands and artists these days it is often easy to get lost in the crowd especially online. Another big challenge is finding places to play live music and get through to audiences in person especially with the number of artists all needing to use the same venues in a lot of places.

SMC – A lot of bands choose to remain ‘indie’ – can you tell us if your ultimate goal is to become signed to a label or to remain indie?

FKB – That is a difficult question. Our ultimate goal is largely independent of whether or not we are signed a label. Our main goal is to reach as many people as possible and if there was a situation where a label could help us achieve that and we felt they could provide us with a benefit, then we would likely sign to them. However, if we can continue to build and reach more and more people on our own then that would be fine with us as well.

SMC – I saw that you are touring this summer too! Can you tell us where those locations are and with whom?

FKB – The current announced dates are:

5/18 – Edmonton, AB @ The Sewing Machine Factory

5/19 – Fernie, BC @ Northern Bar and Stage

5/20 – Trail, BC @ Arlington Bar and Grill

5/21 – Winlaw, BC @ Mama Sita’s

5/27 – Vancouver, BC @ The Roxy

6/2 – Creston, BC @ Jimmy’s Pub

6/3 – Nelson, BC @ The Royal

6/8 – Beaumont, AB @ Live City

7/6 – Waterton, AB @ Thirsty Bear Social House

7/7 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

7/8 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

7/14 – Revelstoke, BC @ The Last Drop Pub

8/2 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/3 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/4 – Lloydminster, SK @ The Root

8/10 – Thunder Bay, ON @ The Foundry

8/11 – Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Loplop’s

8/17 – New York, NY @ Silvana

8/18 – Buffalo, NY @ Nietzche’s

8/22 – Cleveland, OH @ Wilbert’s

8/24 – Chicago, IL @ Moe’s Tavern

We’re mostly touring independently but at some select shows we are playing with: For Tonight, Guests, Naeem Gabriel, The Sophisticrats, West Hammock, and Poor Little Tin Man. There’s also a few unannounced that should be quite exciting as well!

SMC – Can you tell us what is one cool fact about each of you that no one else knows? (fans love this one)

FKB –

Drew: Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Alberta.

Travis: Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Alberta.

Derek: Has been playing drums since he was four.

Alex: Once hosted a hit Ukrainian Christmas special on a radio station in Vegreville, Alberta.

SMC – What are your thoughts on the support in the music industry in Canada as opposed to other countries in the world like the USA or the UK?

FKB – We’re not too familiar with the support in a lot of other countries but Canada seems to come together around Canadian performers and really try and help everyone grow together. There’s so many great organizations like FACTOR, AFFTA, Alberta Music, Sask Music, CBC Music, Canadian Music Week and so many others that help Canadian artists develop their careers and bring their music to the world stage. This summer will our be first international tour and a lot of it is possible with the help of other Canadian musicians and publications like SMC!

SMC – How do you feel Canadian Songwriters have a better advantage over, say, our American peers?

FKB – Not that familiar with what is available in the US but there is so much support in Canada for Canadian music and lyrics that helps songwriters reach people. Again, there is so many organizations that help songwriters network and create music like the Songwriter’s Association of Canada, FACTOR, and SOCAN that help songwriters work and get paid for their work. There is also a tighter network of performers and songwriters as well than is initially apparent in Canada.

SMC – You have been voted as one of the top 100 ‘Campus Bands’ by CBC. Can you tell us what exactly that means and what it means to you?

FKB – That was very special to us because at that time especially our fan base was a lot smaller than it is today so for that to have happened it took a lot of support from people who liked our music and they rallied around us to get us to that point. That was for a CBC Music competition where fans could vote for their bands who have members at university campuses across Canada. There were thousands of bands that entered and our fans helped bring us to the top 100 which meant a lot to us.

SMC – What is the biggest compliment you have received as a band or individually?

FKB – There have been a few examples that stick out in our minds. A sound man at The Roxy in Vancouver told us our show “was epic” after our performance and that was cool because they have so many awesome bands come through there. Another more recent one was a band who booked us as a feature act at a jam night told us we were no longer a band and that we have become “an act” meaning our show had become more than just music. That was a big compliment because they had booked us before and had seen us a few months earlier. Clayton Bellamy also wrote about us on his Facebook saying that he has loved watching us grow as a band and called us as hard working as anybody in the business. That was big because we have worked with him for such a long time and he is an extremely hard working person himself.

SMC – Which kinds of genre peers do you each connect to in terms of building and networking?

FKB – We actually have close ties to a lot of musicians in genres outside of our own so they’re not really genre specific. We have a lot of connections with country artists like Dan and Clayton. We also talk a lot with some pop artists as well. Closer to our genre we have connections with some other bands within Edmonton and a few from Saskatoon, Lloydminster, and Vancouver as well. The styles of those bands even range a lot from Metal to Alternative and Indie. We also have some connections to a lot of people involved with the industry in other ways like producers, and other writers.

SMC – What has become the most vital thing for you as a band to portray via social media?

FKB – Consistency would be the most vital thing at this point. Making sure that we are putting across the same image on all the platforms and putting out content as regularly as necessary to let people know what we are up to. At this point we want people to get a sense of who we are and portray a positive and fun image through our social media. Because it is an important way for fans to keep in touch with us and up to date on where we are playing and when we are releasing new music we want to keep people engaged and with an accurate expectation of what we are doing.

SMC – What has been the best advice you have received over the years in terms of building your success as a band?

FKB – Just keep working hard and get out in front of people. That combined with putting egos at the door and working together towards whatever goal we’re trying to accomplish. Combined that advice has been a huge help to us over the years especially with remaining as objective as possible towards making decisions.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us which media platforms (radio aside) that have been most supportive of your music?

FKB – There has been a lot of support over the years in print media especially in the early years when we were starting out the newspapers were always helpful in doing profiles on the band and writing about us at events we were playing. Another big one from the start has always been social media. Facebook is still where most of our fans interact with us and has been our home base from the very beginning. YouTube has also been supportive especially recently we made a few cover videos of some songs we were into and some of them actually did quite well and turned out to gain thousands of views.

SMC – That’s wonderful! Well, thank you gentlemen and we look forward to hosting you on the SMC SPOTLIGHT! in years to come!

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FKB Social Media Links (click to view)

Website
Facebook
Soundcloud
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

BIOGRAPHY

FKB formed in 2009 out of a mutual love of fun music and the classic artists of the 50s and 60s. They’ve toured Canada and shared the stage with The Trews, The Road Hammers, and Dan Davidson. Their dedication to creating a fast and exciting rock show attracted the attention of Clayton Bellamy (The Road Hammers) who produced their debut EP, 123 FKB and their newest single “Bright Lights”.

For interviews or promotional materials contact Drew at info@fkbmusic.ca or by phone at 780-573-3329

Radio Promo: Bill Miller – bill@sharp9music.com

For all press materials visit http://fkbmusic.ca/press

Wall Of Orange | SPOTLIGHT Series No.2 ‘Small Hour Crimes’ World Premiere!

By Candice Anne Marshall

Two nights ago, I told Gary Parks, Frontman for Texas-based band Wall Of Orange (WoO) these words, ‘I’m going to be honest with you Gary, I see you guys going through the roof with your music. It’s exceptional, and when I say exceptional, I am talking Grammy Award winning music. I really mean that. It’s been a very long time since I’ve listened to music comparative to Pink Floyd (I am a David Gilmour fan), or even Peter Gabriel, that affects me deeply and makes me excited about music again. Your music makes me excited about music again. You have our (SMC’s) support with anything. Don’t stop. Just keep going, keep creating. I know you are going to get to that status and you know what I mean when I say that. It’s not even really about that though – it’s that you are going to keep bringing something lovely to this world, and this world needs that. We have lost so many important musicians recently. Hearing your music is like that tiny seed that begins sprouting up out of fresh soil and you see that burst of bright green. It’s like that, and it’s so refreshing. I know where Wall Of Orange is going, and I’ve never been wrong…’

My summation above merely scratches the surface of what this band deserves to hear and after viewing the new music video for ‘Small Hour Crimes’, I am satisfied in my declaration. Take a Jimmy Hendrix, Tame Impala, Pink Floyd, Woodstock-themed acid trip and maybe throw in a tambourine for good measure and that pretty much describes this video. Lux, brilliant colored kaleidoscope visuals, blended with shots of the band performing is what you see throughout – It’s exquisite visual in relation to the ecstasy audio. Th song itself SHINES in terms of showcasing the deep bass sound and wicked shredding throughout (those guitar skills – WOW!) in combination with Parks gentle, soothing vocals. Add video to this scenario and you have yourself a truly magical psychedelic adventure.

I hope you all have great speakers – you’ll want to play this LOUD!

Watch the video here in this post (see below) or as it is showcased on the front page of Starlight Music Chronicles.

*Exclusive Interview* with WoO frontman Gary Parks, February 22 2017

SMC – Hello Gentlemen! This is probably the quickest back-to-back Numbered Series Spotlight feature we have had! There has been some exciting new developments on the Wall of Orange front including your World Premiere of ‘Small Hour Crimes’ on the front page of the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) website today! We are thrilled that you chose us to launch your new video. Can you tell us why you chose SMC as the platform?

WoO – SMC has been wonderfully supportive of Wall of Orange from the very beginning. We definitely feel like part of their amazing family of artists. What you do for emerging talent really does make a huge difference. Music can be a nasty business, so I really value the close and trusting relationships I’ve made in the months since the album was released. We’ve gotten some great traction and response to the Series No. 1 review and interview SMC did on us, so I wanted to offer SMC the chance to premiere the video exclusively.

SMC – The video is simply gorgeous. I fell in love with the ‘Sweetest Blue’ video after my friend David Somerville sent me the link and this one is a continuation of awesome! Can you tell us about the creative team behind the creation of this video?

WoO – I approached a good friend and former Tomorrowpeople bandmate of mine, Erich Scholz, about directing because I knew I wanted to do something psychedelic and he has a knack for that kind of stuff. He’s a walking encyclopedia of film. I showed him some old experimental film from the early 70s and we discussed some basic concepts, but really didn’t storyboard anything. It was all done pretty much improv. We shot some stuff of us playing in the studio, then of me walking around Dallas at night. In keeping with the retro psychedelic feel, I asked Sallie Mood, who sang on the song “Lost by the Sea” on the album, if she would do some interpretive dancing. I wanted it to look like Woodstock meets a Ralph Bakshi cartoon or something. She has a background in musical theater, so of course was amazing. I kept telling Erich: trippier, more layers, more grit. This song isn’t as emotionally deep as “Sweetest Blue”, so I wanted a more easy going vibe; just a barrage of evocative images and lots of pretty layers.

SMC – We noticed that Sallie Mood shared our World Premiere video clip from the SMC page onto her Artist page and she mentions in the share that she is the girl dancing in your video – she’s an Artist as well! What is your affiliation? After hearing some of her music I was very smitten!

WoO – She’s amazing. She’s got one of the most heavenly, unique voices I’ve ever heard. She’s also an amazing actor. I invited her to come be in the video because I had seen her own videos and loved her on-camera character. She’s just cool. Erich would say stuff like, “Uhhh… here, play with this plastic tommy gun.” and she just turned it on. She really brings it in everything she does. She was recommended by a mutual friend for a commercial music project and when I heard her sing I was blown away. Her voice has a very rich, timeless quality. She’s on the very top of my list for session vocalists. I see more Wall of Orange and Sallie Mood musical collaboration in the future for sure.

SMC – I know that your videos are always something exquisite in terms of art creation – can we expect all your videos in future to be just as creative? I really look forward to watching them as they are so in sync with the theme of the song: brilliant!

WoO – I’m very calculated with the imagery that surrounds Wall of Orange. Maybe because I have a graphic design degree. It really is critical. It all works together to create your brand. Even though the “Sweetest Blue” and “Small Hour Crimes” videos (and songs) are dramatically different as far as the emotion, I think what ties them together visually is the explosive use of color. I’m really into that. And I think that will be very evident at our live shows as well!

SMC – We will always have your music on our hit list and have recently begin adding SPOTLIGHT Artists to our Spotify playlist. What are your thoughts on being on this playlist – we have some pretty stellar talent on it!

WoO – Thrilled! Since people seem to stream music as their primary source for listening these days, play listing is huge and can really help build an audience. Of course we are honored!

SMC – You had mentioned to me recently, Gary, that there was some pretty exciting stuff coming up. Of course, for the purpose of our readers they should know that I am asking this question only one day before your press release hits The Chronicles and by the time this interview is published, they will have an idea of what’s to come, but can you tell us here what fans can expect coming up?

WoO – After a couple minor hiccups, we are ready to hit the stage. Our debut show will be at The Kessler Theater in Dallas on April 29th with more shows being announced soon. To debut at such a respected venue is huge, and we are thrilled. The Kessler is an amazing place and the team there is very supportive. We’ve been working very hard to deliver the goods live. Fans can expect the band to sound like the album, with a few little extras here and there. Plus, we’re working on some exciting visuals for the show. My vision from day one included a dramatic visual experience. Along with Wall of Orange live making its debut, I can say that exciting things are happening behind the scenes as well! I’m almost in disbelief at what’s going on and hope to be able to go public with some exciting news very soon.

SMC – You recently released vinyl! I am very excited to receive mine! Can you tell us about these and what one can expect when they receive your self-titled album?

WoO – 180-gram vinyl, gorgeous cover art, exquisite sound. It’s thrilling. To have this music committed to actual vinyl is surreal. You can hear all the glorious detail that I worked my ass off on in the mix. It really does sound amazingly better than MP3. It’s a crime that so many people listen to music on their phones. I’m guilty too, though. I’m so glad vinyl has made a comeback. Erich Scholz, who directed the video for “Small Hour Crimes”, has a killer setup at his place and when I heard the test pressing there I just about cried. To be able to sit back and hear the vinyl, and hold the cover art in your hand and examine it… that’s how it’s supposed to be. That brings value back to the experience of music.

SMC – What kind of reception have you received from your fans since our last Spotlight feature?

WoO – It’s been great. So much has happened, actually it’s kind of staggering. We got a lot of shares of the spotlight article. I still get messages every day. What’s most meaningful to me is when people tell me how they can relate to where my head was in writing the songs and how they connected with them.

SMC – I saw towards the end of last year that several Entertainment platforms put Wall of Orange in some top ten lists and gave some nice credo to your album! Are there any you would like to give a shout out to?

WoO – Rotation 11! They named our album #5 in their top 11 of 2016 and the amazing thing is it came right out of the blue (no pun intended). David Natan and the gang over at Rotation11 are very passionate about music, and it shows. Thanks again, Rotation11! If you aren’t following those guys, you’re missing out. We also made KXT 91.7’s Best of 2016 list, about halfway up their list of 91. To have shared the list with the likes of David Bowie and Radiohead was incredible.

SMC – Have you received radio play yet? I think that’s what is happening with this press release correct? There’s a radio campaign? Are there any stations you would like to give a shout out to?

WoO – Of course KXT 91.7, who has kept us in rotation for a good while. We’ve also been invited to do a live session on KXT, details coming soon. Also, big thanks to DJ Debbie Sexxton at The Eagle 97.1, Mark on the Radio at 1310/96.7 FM The Ticket, DJ Ian Hales at Acacia Radio in the UK and DJ Brody Ramone.

SMC – I watched a time-lapse of the album art being created and I have to say again: WOW Danny Rix has some serious skills! (time lapse video included in this feature – see below) Has Danny been a part of the video creation with The Sweetest Blue video? Will he be creating anything in terms of video for the band in the near future?

WoO – Yeah, the dude is a badass. I thought the time lapse video was pretty spectacular myself. Danny creates most of the design for Wall of Orange, including our logotype, and has always been an important voice when it comes to our visual style. His Illustrations are truly incredible. I’d also like to mention that there’s all kinds of Wall of Orange swag available at redbubble.com You can get album art throw pillows.

SMC – Since we’ve last interviewed you, what country has been your biggest supporters in terms of fans?

WoO – We still get a lot of love from the UK. I am dead set on a European tour at some point. “Lost by the Sea” was written about a trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, as a matter of fact. It’s a true story. I felt deeply connected there as well as, well… lost. Like seriously lost. A wonderful English family there on Holiday had to rescue us with hot tea. I think the love at home has grown quite a bit, though. I do love Texas. It’s weird, you know Jimmy Hendrix had to go to England to become a star because nobody here really cared. Funny how that works.

SMC – What has been the biggest compliment you’ve received so far for your art?

WoO – I’ve gotten several that have totally blown me away. One guy said we were his favorite band of all time. I mean… wow. Just reading the comments sometimes, and knowing that people are really, truly listening to what you are saying – that is everything to me.

SMC – If there was one word or phrase to describe your music, what would that be. I saw on your Facebook page that you pinned ‘The Sweetest Blue’ video with the phrase: New Atmospheric Rock’, which is really fitting! I could almost say that you boys are in a genre of your own the music is that original!

WoO – Space Rock, Neo Psychedelic, Shoegaze, Acid Folk, all those terms have been thrown around. How about “Honest”.

SMC – TOURS! What’s coming down the pipe and when? Coming to Canada ever? (laughs)

WoO – As mentioned, our big debut show is in Dallas at The Kessler Theater on April 29 with The Angelus and Sudie supporting us. We will be in Forth Worth at Lola’s Trailer Park on May 19, with more dates being announced soon to include Austin, Houston, possibly Tulsa, Ok City, etc. Then we’ll begin to venture out! Canada? Sure. I hear Edmonton is nice. If only we knew someone to tell us where the good restaurants are…

SMC – The Starlite Room Gary – The Starlite Room! Come on up! (laughs) We are so excited for the next part of your journey! Have you already been working on some new music?

WoO – Funny you should ask. Coming soon is a new song, “What Day Is It”, to be made available to everyone who gives us a Facebook share or joins the email list. I think it would have fit onto the album nicely, and who knows maybe it will end up on a deluxe edition release with a live track or two. I write daily. I have volumes of half-written songs in various states. The next album is already taking shape.

SMC – You’ve recently connected with legendary Producer Stuart Epps – what did he have to say for your album? When I spoke to him, he sounded very impressed with everything!

WoO – Stuart is indeed a legend. It was thrilling to talk with him and get his thoughts on the album. We had a very nice email exchange, and he seemed very impressed. He thought the drums were a little dirty, and I assured him it was intentional. I even added tape hiss to the album because I wanted to smear it all together a bit. Digital cleanliness is sterile and boring. I found myself really “roughing things up” in the mix because I thought it sounded more exciting. I’m honored someone like him even gave it a listen.

SMC – I never did get to ask you this in our last interview and I do like to ask this question because it’s kind of telling of the kind of music you are digging – what are your favorite songs on your most recently played playlist?

WoO – I really love Temples and the new Flaming Lips. I tend to go back and revisit old music as much as I do seek out new stuff.

SMC – I do know that in our last interview you had mentioned that you are a Music Producer and have your own recording studio. You also mentioned that your band was assembled after the album was recorded. It looks as though you have your band together now with yourself Gary, Matt Hunt, Danny Rix, Jay Spence, and Aaron Long. Are you all ready to hit the road for touring?

WoO – The band has graduated from “learning phase” to “polish phase”, so, yes we are!

SMC – In our last interview, you mentioned that you are a dreamer and that it comes out in your lyrics – can we always expect euphoria with upcoming new music?

WoO – Making the debut album was kind of a purge of emotions for me, some of them not so great, but what felt like a huge triumph personally. I do feel like I’m in a different place now. My most successful songs tend to be about memories of experiences instead of speculation or making a statement of some kind, political or otherwise. I have no desire to get overtly political in my writing right now, but I guess that could change. I’ve just never really connected with those kinds of songs emotionally. I really just don’t give a shit. Let your vote do the talking and shut up already. We have that luxury. It’s all identity-based, weaponized bullshit nowadays it seems. At the end of the day we all want the same thing – to not feel alone. That’s what I want my songs to do for people. I like to write about deeper human emotions and experiences, things I think every person can relate to on some level.

SMC – Alrgiht, last question: What does success mean to you all individually and as a band?

WoO – Being able to do what you love and afford to eat. Screw the rest.

SMC – Ha ha ha! Love it! Thank-you guys!

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To see the brand new ‘Small Hour Crimes’ music video that has launched today, see below or head on over to the front page of our website where the video will be posted for one week! Simply go to: www.starlightmusicchronilces.com

Wall Of Orange has also been added to our Spotlight Artists Spotify playlist – click here!

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Wall Of Orange’s Social Media (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

Spotify

iTunes 

**PRESS RELEASE FEBRUARY 21, 2017**

WALL OF ORANGE WELCOMES YOU INTO THE FUTURE WITH NEW SHOWS, SONGS AND SOUND

Experience the neo-psychedelic band’s self-titled debut onstage at The Kessler Theater on April 29

(DALLAS, TEXAS – February 2017; source: CultureHype) – A former member of Dallas space rock legends The Tomorrowpeople, prolific musician Gary Parks is trying something new – in the form of a brand new neo-psychedelic band called Wall of Orange. With a newly released album, the now full-time music composer is turning heads with brilliant lyrics, stunning instrumentals and crisp production on this self-titled debut. The band will make their debut on Saturday, April 29 at The Kessler Theater. Two Dallas-based musicians are joining Wall of Orange onstage: experimental group The Angelus and female vocalist Sudie. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here online. The Kessler Theater is located at 1230 W. Davis St., Dallas, Texas 75208.

Parks, a commercial music/indie film composer by day, had an HBO Sundance Award-winning movie under his belt before venturing out to start Wall of Orange. While Wall of Orange is a psychedelic pop group, their sound extends into new worlds. Heavily influenced by Shoegaze and Neo-Psychedelic giants like The Verve, Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, MGMT and Tame Impala, Parks is striving to capture a sound that encompasses both his love for layered, dreamy soundscapes and the pop sensibilities he honed during his years in the TV and film industry. To capture this, he needed bandmates as innovative as him—and he got them in the form of longtime friend and bass player Danny Rix and drummer Matt Hunt.

After an extensive demo process, recording for eight songs that would become the debut album began in the spring of 2016 at Pure Evil studios and continued into the summer. The album dropped in August, after which guitarist Jay Spence and keyboardist Aaron Long joined the band—the Wall was complete. Now, the group is prepared to hit the stage and bring avant-garde, sci-fi-infused psychedelia back to the major venues of Dallas.

Parks’ former band was known for its innovative use of 16mm film, projections and electronics. Wall of Orange continues that tradition with a full multimedia experience, to include projections and dramatic lighting onstage. At their debut, the band will headline The Kessler Theater on Saturday, April 29. But if that’s too long to wait, fans can sample their style with the stunning video for their new single.

The forthcoming video for the song “Small Hour Crimes” was directed by former Tomorrowpeople collaborator Erich Scholz and contains a cameo from local artist Sallie Mood, who also sings backup vocals on the new album. Parks and Scholz were inspired by old Ralph Bakshi cartoons and some experimental films from the early 1970s for the look and vibe of the video. It’s all in a day’s work for Wall of Orange, as the band typically draws inspiration from a myriad of artists when they set out to write a new song. The most important source of inspiration is you: The audience.

The single “Small Hour Crimes” is already in rotation locally on KXT 91.7, and made the local NPR station’s “Best of 2016” list. The song and others from the debut album have also gotten rotation on The Eagle 97.1 and The Ticket as well as UK radio airplay.

“My influences are all over the place, but the vision from the beginning was big, dreamy and lush with a focus on lyrics people could relate to and want to sing along with,” Parks says. He’s weathered personal storms to bring his unique art back to the Dallas music scene, and now his mission is to lift up the audience—and take them into the future once again.

To purchase Wall of Orange’s self-titled debut EP, visit iTunes or the artist’s website. For more information, please visit www.walloforange.band.

What people are saying about Wall of Orange:

“Wall of Orange can best be described in one word and one word only: EUPHORIA. The album is consistent across the board in its execution through brilliantly written lyrics, soothing vocals that are very easy on the ears, meticulous production, and otherworldly instrumentation.” – Starlight Music Chronicles

“Wall of Orange has created a barrage of a magnificent sound, taking the best of Shoegaze, Synth-Pop, distorted guitar, and Alternative Rock, marking a truly unique new standard to be admired. In a word, this album is dazzling.” – Hunter McLeod, Brody Ramone’s Dirty Glitter

“Your music collection needs this album. Wall of Orange possess a freshness often lacking in today’s rock music.” – Rotation11.com

“‘Sweetest Blue’ is an intriguing song. Some might say it’s unusually dark for pop music, and it could equally be argued that the band is unusually pop centered for such dark moody music. Either way, score one for both the colors orange and blue.” – Ghost of Blind Lemon

“Wall Of Orange ‘Sweetest Blue’ reminds me very much of Nothing’s ‘Guilty of Everything’ album in regards to its shoegaze tendencies and overall warming feel, which basically means it’s absolutely stunning.” –1forthepeople.com

“Wall of Orange has an anthemic shoegaze rumble. Lovely.” – glofimustdie.com

 

Track Listing:

  1. “Sweetest Blue” (4:54)
  2. “Small Hour Crimes” (4:17)
  3. “View from a Broken Couch” (4:17)
  4. “Monster” (4:17)
  5. “Lost by the Sea” (3:58)
  6. “Little Destroyer” (4:21)
  7. “New Medicine” (6:26)
  8. “Hellogoodbye” (5:13)

Press Contacts:

Amber LaFrance

Cell: (469) 877-1533; amber@culture-hype.com

Kali Ah Yuen

Cell: (808) 321-3754; kali@culture-hype.com

 

 

Scott Patterson | SMITHRADIO SMC February 2017 Artist of the Month!

By Candice Anne Marshall

images provided by Scott Patterson | SMITHRADIO

If any of the Starlight Music Chronicles followers on Twitter were paying attention from January 15th to 22nd, they would have noticed a flurry of activity. This was the seven-day period that will go down in our history books as the Artist of the Month fan voted competition that broke some serious records in terms of ‘fan votes’. It was the first time ever that a band (fan nominated) would achieve the highest ever votes for the social media poll posted. In fact, SMITHRADIO fans were relentless in their pursuit of making music history by elevating their favorite Musician, Scott Patterson and his band, to this level of success with a whopping 1112 fan votes tallied as of January 22nd, 11:50 pm MST. (previously, the highest votes ever recorded was held by The Roxy Suicide in December 2015)

Recently. I connected with Scott to talk about the February 2017 Artist of the Month win, his fans (who have now labelled themselves the SMITHRADIO Army), and what that means for the upcoming Artist of the Year competition in June 2017. Here’s what he had to say

INTERVIEW | Scott Patterson SMITHRADIO January 30 2017

SMC – So tell me, what are your thoughts on winning SMC’s February 2017 Artist of the Month (AOM) competition?

SP – Well, it’s a terrific honor to get this kind of validation so early in the game. I didn’t expect to get a nomination, was surprised when we got it and was even more surprised we won. Kinda pinching myself on this one, truth be told.

SMC – Yes, they sure did! It’s so exciting Scott because a lot of Artists who come out with a first single don’t have this kind of support right away and I believe it’s what SMITHRADIO has produced so far that really has enraptured the fans. What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated by a fan?

SP – My fans have always been there for me. There have been times when I’ve been so exhausted, too exhausted to continue on a given day and just seeing a few nice comments got me to the finish line. I’m doing this all myself – my own label (Blind Horse Records), my own small but dedicated staff and fan support that is unprecedented for me.

SMC – That’s true! You’re right!

SP – My assistant called to tell me that we were beginning to pull ahead in the voting and I was quite moved by the whole thing. It meant the fans were supporting it and wanting to represent. That was very meaningful for me and the guys (band). I never thought we would win.

SMC – what was your reaction to the win?

SP – I didn’t know right away. My assistant contacted me and said, ‘They’ve made a decision and we won!’, and I thought, ‘Good Lord, how did that happen?’ I was excited. I was in the middle of writing a song when I got the news. So, I allowed myself to have that moment, and then the work ethic in me demanded that I stop celebrating and get back to writing the song. After my writing session was done, I got on the phone and was talking to everyone (band) and we had a good time (celebrating). We are really excited about it.

SMC – Yeah, that’s great. The fans went crazy. I think they’re still celebrating.

SP – Yeah, Isn’t that amazing?

SMC – Absolutely. I’ve seen this happen with another young (new) band once before and I know that this is possible. Aside from the win, how did the name SMITHRADIO Army come about? That’s pretty cool.

SP – That was a term I was kicking around with my assistant at the beginning and then some fans picked up on it and ran with it so it stuck. I have some very loyal fans that are spreading the word about “HAHA SONG” and SMITHRADIO just like any other band but these particular fans are going the extra mile. Can’t wait to meet them, comp them when we tour and thank them personally.

SMC – That’s exciting. So, which Social Media platform did you find the fans most active on for this competition?

SP – I spent more time on twitter and I jumped on the Instagram and Facebook band pages to engage as well. I just tried to be active on as much as I could.

SMC- What are your thoughts on the other Artists you competed against in terms of the camaraderie while there was active fan voting?

SP – I think they were a very classy group of people. They congratulated us and were very kind. I was really moved by all that and I wish them all the best. I don’t know their music but I can’t wait to hear it. When we go to the U.K. I can’t wait to see The Black Jackals.

SMC – Hey that’s awesome.

SP – Yeah, they just kick ass! Also, Neil and Adam – such nice guys! I haven’t listened to their stuff but I am going to. They all reached out to me – classy guys. That’s what I love about music – these Musicians are so giving and generous. It’s not really a competition really, it’s a chance for people to get to know one another and share music.

SMC – Absolutely. That’s really the point of our fan nominated competitions – is to engage and cross promote the Artists. When we’re talking indie music, we are talking about bands who may not know a lot of the other Artists that are in other countries. Because SMC promotes bands on a global scale, this is a way of introducing one another via the fans. For this new season, we have three European bands who have won AOM (Hannah Clive, DaveIt Ferris, and Tamsyn) in the latter part of 2016 and now one North American band to kick off 2017 (SMITHRADIO). We have a few more months left before we head to the Artist of the Year competition in June 2017 so there may be more, but SMITHRADIO is the first North American band to win AOM this season. Last season, our Artist of the Year (IAMWARFACE) is from the U.K. and they won with 22,000+ votes. What are your thoughts on all of this?

SP – Oh wow. Well, the EP will be out and we will hopefully be touring by then so maybe we’ve got a chance. Wow.

SMC- I think you do!

SP – Okay, well, we’ll knuckle down. We’ll see what happens. Does this mean we are enrolled into the Artist of the Year event?

SMC – Yes. All our Artists of the Month are automatically enrolled into the June 2017 Artist of the Year (AOY) event.

SP – Wow. Okay!

SMC – It was your fans who nominated you and brought you to this place.

SP – They are the very best in the world which is why I am being so meticulous with these tracks. Want them to be as good as they can be for the fans. They deserve that.

SMC – Part of the Artist of the Year win means you get a scholarship for ArtistMax. This program is in Los Angeles with Producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac) and his daughter Colbie (Caillat – Grammy award winner), who is one of the program mentors. Our AOY winner will also receive VIP invitations by ArtistMax to VIP events as part of their scholarship program as well. It’s kind of a big deal. So, what are your thoughts about going to that next level in addition to what you’ve already accomplished?

SP – Wow that’s great. Well, we need to just keep doing what we are doing. The 5 songs (for the new EP) are almost mastered. We are going to release the EP and then a single after that. There is a single that I wrote that has a different feel than the rest of the songs (on the EP). It’s a more serious song which hooks into something we’re involved in. We want to roll this out the best way and that’s really the step to take us to the next level. We’re going to be playing the SXSW (South by Southwest) 2017 Music Festival this year as well. I was on the Rachael Ray show back in November and played a couple of bars of “HAHA DONG” and right there, she said, “I want you to come and play at SXSW. We have three stages down there and you get one of them for a 30-minute set”. That’ll be fun. Rachael really hooked me up. You know, we had that instant chemistry when we met and we had a great chat. Spectacular woman. She and her team are comped for life any show we do. I mean, how do you pay someone back for being so generous and having your back like that? Anyway, could go on about her forever. Love her.  There’s also a Sirius XM radio concert in New York as well as an AOL Build appearance which will hit Facebook as well. We are rehearsing for that. In the meantime, writing a lot of new material and eager to get back in the studio to record. Don’t like songs to sit very long after they are born.

SMC – I heard an interview earlier today that you had with Pulse 98.4’s Big Drive Home with Peter Greenwood. You talked about your influences. Who are your main ones?

SP – When I was five I use to stand on top of my parent stereo console (like a coffee table) with a hairbrush mic and sing along to Beatles songs. Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul. I’d put on shows for my parents when my dad got home from work. Then there was The Rolling Stones and ‘Satisfaction’. The sound of that guitar bore into me and from that moment I wanted to play guitar as well as sing. We had an old Spanish guitar laying around the place and I started plucking away. Growing up it was Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Zepplin, Bowie, James Gang, Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, The Who, the usual suspects. I liked bands and songwriters. I liked guitar heroes. I liked guitar solos and drum solos. I like bathing myself in the giant cloud of marijuana that hovered above the ice rink at The Spectrum in Philly where I saw all those great bands. There was joy, anticipation, beautiful girls and a big train of rock music coming our way as soon as the lights went down. Joni Mitchell fascinated me. The tone of her voice is really special. Neil Young, too.  Love that big arena sound – The Who, Zepplin. When Patti Smith came along that just blew apart everything for me because what she was doing was her poetry and putting music to it. People were doing that a lot in the Village in NYC in the early 70’s but not like that. Blew me away. There are so many different types of performers – flashy showmen/women, introverted songwriters, etc. and I love them all. Anybody with the guts to get out there and just play their songs, well, I’m gonna listen. Over the past twenty five years or so there have been some great bands and songwriters but the one guy that always stood out for me was Noel Gallagher. No bullshit. Just gets right to it. With him it’s about the song and nothing else. It’s about a melody, a dynamic and a structure over an entire set. Very powerful. His ‘High Flying Birds’ will be my next concert to attend.

SP –SMC – So when we talk about your five song EP, we are going to be listening to songs that are your truths, correct?

SP – Yes. The songs are all about a girl: they are either break-up songs, love songs, or they’re ‘can’t-wait-to-get-away-from-you’ songs. The one song that will release as a single after the EP is launched is not me, it’s someone else’s point of view. I put myself in someone’s shoes and felt a need to tell the story of their life through that song. I imagined what it must be like for this individual to go through this particular experience. Deals with PTSD.

SMC – I do know that Patti Smith’s daughter had reached out to you and that you are looking at doing a benefit concert with Patti. Does this song tie into that?

SP – It may…. it’s about one specific type of a person but it could cross over into everyone who is experiencing these types of feelings. It’s not specific to any one category of person but that’s who I am telling to story of the song through. Kristina – pieces of it has been online, and that’s a song that might be appropriate for a benefit concert. That’s about a young girl being sexually abused and becoming a teenager who escapes her circumstances.

SMC- So many people look to that to tell that kind of a story. In terms of your EP and the kind of variety in genres (blues, punk rock, rock), what can we expect?

SP – You’re going to get rock and roll, Americana, some Glam, a dash of punk. In the same family as “HAHA SONG”.

SMC – Yeah, I love it.

SP – Yeah, I love it. Some good, classic party songs on the album and I attribute that to coming out of long period of writing very serious material and, quite frankly, getting sick of writing serious material. I simplified everything and started writing the kind of songs that come out of jam sessions with friends just horsing around at a party with maybe a beer or two in you. Just let it fly, appreciate the major chords and play what’s fun to play for YOU. What feels right and good in the moment. Might be the simplest progression but doesn’t matter if it rocks. It’s RockNRoll, man. It’s not complicated. Write what you feel and scream it out.

SMC – Oh excellent! You’re songwriting style is very strong.

SP – Like I said…..it’s rock. Rock is a specific discipline that too many people clutter with bullshit. Rock is supposed to hit you in those places we can’t talk about at family dinners. Rock is momentum. It’s a locomotive, it’s inevitable. But it’s personal to each songwriter. I write all the time which mean I’m strumming the guitar all the time. A lot of time bullshit comes out but when a real song comes out of your soul, for me it comes fast. Five minutes. Like a window opened and some power handing you something good. That’s exciting.  So, there’s stuff in the hopper ready to record. These are the songs I’m sharing with the world.

SMC – That’s exciting! In terms of touring, are you possibly looking at Australia?

SP – We’re looking at everything. Candice, we’re looking at touring all over for a number of years. We want to play everywhere and we don’t want to stop. That’s just something I want to do until I drop. So yes, we are looking at all possibilities to go everywhere. We are in discussions about this right now and we need to choose wisely. We thought we were going to start in the USA to do a six-week tour of the south west, now a lot of other countries are stepping up: Brazil, Scotland, U.K., Japan, and it’s a nice problem to have but we don’t want to alienate anyone. We want to do it right, so we’re being very careful and methodical about it. There will be something to announce soon enough. I understand the fans are getting anxious but I promise we will announce the EP and some solid dates real soon.

SMC – I know that the pressure is on but I do know the process of producing something that is quality and that takes time….

SP – It does. I spent the holidays laying down guitar tracks for a couple of the songs for the EP. I am very meticulous about this. I am working with people that are equally meticulous. We don’t want to have to go back and redo anything, we want to get it right the first time. Recording a song properly is complex. The listening public is very sophisticated now and they’re used to a very high quality recording because there’s lots of great Producers and bands and they’re hearing great stuff all the time. It’s important to step up and compete and we’re going for a knockout punch and “HAHA SONG” set the bar real high.

SMC – I know it’s going to be a great follow-up: you’re working with Michael Nomad Ripoll (Producer and Guitarist for SMITHRADIO)

SP –  Yeah, Nomad and I work well together in the studio and we are producing a great album. Hell of a guitar player, too. The band is together and we will be introducing members soon.

SMC – Are they the same musicians that will be touring with you that were also in the studio recording?

SP – Couple of the same and a couple different.

SMC – Going back to Patti Smith, what was your reaction when her daughter reached out to you?

SP – Total shock. Read that email ten times before it hit me. Full circle kind of thing. Nice when that happens.

SMC – Absolutely. So, what is the greater feeling of gratification for you: finishing the recording of a new song, or performing in front of an audience?

SP – Either or. They are both great feelings that stay with you. I’m addicted to both. Can’t imagine not recording or performing.

SMC – I agree. It’s funny because I had a fan private message me and say that they felt that this career path you’ve taken really speaks about you as an individual the most. Do you feel the same?

SP – That is an accurate statement, yes. I’m ready. I have tried to pursue a music career several different times in my life: out of high school, again when I was out here in LA initially, then back in New York, and a couple of different times out here. What remains the same is that I continued to write music. When I was growing up I began writing my own stuff.  Now, it’s about getting my music out of my own body and soul. That’s what interests me. So, to answer the question, yes, I feel this is the right path for me. Things are happening and people are responding in a positive way. I’m steering the ship, it’s my record label, it’s all coming out of me. That’s where I am happiest.

SMC – It really shows too. You’ve been on a few talk shows already, Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and Rachel Ray to name a few since “HAHA SONG” released and you could really see that you were excited when they began to talk about the single and your music career. What were those experiences like?

SP – It was completely surreal. When I went out there and sat down on the couch next to Jimmy (Fallon), and we started talking and he held up a placard with the “HAHA SONG” on it, a photograph that I took, it was just a surreal moment. Here’s the biggest talk show guy in the world holding up my song and talking about it. I thought, ‘Good God, it doesn’t get any better than this!’ It was a real moment. That was the moment, to reference the previous question, that I knew I made a good decision in choosing this career path. I have made a lot of bad ones in my life, but I made a good one here.  

SMC – When I saw you walk out, I jumped up in my seat and shouted ‘YES! He did it!’

SP – It was surreal. It’s The Tonight Show. Grew up watching it. Was a head trip.

SMC – I know, I was so excited for you.

SP – They give you seven minutes but it feels like seven seconds. It’s over before you know it.

SMC – You know I really don’t think that will be the last time he will have you there. He always has a music component on his show and I’d love to see you two do that sing-off or guitar playoff – whatever it may be. Is that something you’d like to see happen?

SP – We went out for dinner after and I pitched the idea of the ‘three lost Dylan brothers’ to the Producer (Bob hasn’t anything to do with this and nobody knows about them) but they do Bob Dylan covers. Let’s see if the phone rings.

SMC – Oh, that’d be great.

SP – Then the Producer sent me a clip of Jimmy actually doing Dylan which was really funny. Jimmy is talented – really talented.

SMC – That would be amazing. One of the fans had asked if you would be looking at writing a SMITHRADIO Army song?

SP – I think I already have…. I wrote a song about taking over the world (laughs).

SMC – Pretty much!

SP – It’s something that I’ve been tossing around as a way to say thank you to the SMITHRADIO Army. It’s got to be rock with a little bit of humor. I am trying to get the right tone and balance for that song so yeah, I’ve been thinking about that song. Absolutely.

SMC – When we are talking about this all coming together, and the fans being there for you, years down the road, when you are really in the groove, you’ve gotta look back at the beginnings and the people who were there at the very beginning, how would you pay homage to them?

SP – The people that I started out with are still with me. They are either with me in spirit, or they’re employed by me. The team is very solid. They’re very dedicated, and loyal and that’s the great part about it. It is a family, it’s an extended family. The vision is: maybe a year from now, there is a SMITHRADIO convention, or a picnic, or a weekend retreat, something like that. These people get along very well. They are connecting and making friends and that warms my heart.

SMC – In terms of looking back at the first couple of interviews that you and I have had – One of the fans asked why I hadn’t changed the original GORDON name on the title of those articles to SMITHRADIO. I told them that the purpose of SMC was to actually chronicle the journey for the Artists we support. Therefore, you will see a numbered series on the Spotlight portion of our website. We feel it’s important to keep the chronicle as it was written with no updates so that we can keep a well-documented history of the Artist’s career and milestones. Later, when the band has become big, it’s always nice to uncover the beginnings and find those treasures for fans. What are your thoughts on this kind of authenticity?

SP – Hey, you’re the boss of that situation. (laughs) Well, hey, that’s what I was then and I think it should stay. I agree.

SMC – What’s behind the name change and the name itself?

SP – I thought of what my biggest influence was and what made me want to do this (music career) – what changed my life as a young person most radically, and that was Patti Smith. Through Patti, I discovered that Artistic courage and staying true to your art really was. Through her, I discovered so much literature – Arthur Rimbaud (French Poet) who, I ended up having a bigger obsession with than Patti.

SMC- I remember you referencing that in one of our earlier interviews.

SP – Yeah, and there were a lot of other literary influences that I went through in my youth because of Patti Smith. I discovered – to borrow her term – “the country of the mind” as it related to music and poetry. There’s a deep spirituality that isn’t often recognized through her work. A kind of faith, deep-seated. I would listen to Patti Smith live concerts from The Bottom Line (venue in New York City) via WMMR (radio station in Philadelphia) when it was past my bedtime. It would be late when she would come on and I would listen to these Sunday night live concerts….We had to change the band name because I was doing this this radio interview last summer and the DJ said, “Wow, that’s quite an EP you’ve got there. It’s a really punk sound”, and I said, “What are you talking about, we don’t have an EP yet”. That’s when we found out there was another band with the same name. So, we had to change the name. I didn’t want to come up with just any name – had to be very meaningful to me. I just kept thinking about Patti and those Sunday nights listening to the radio with the sheets over me, in the dark on a rainy evening in South Jersey and Patti Smith turned low so no one could hear. Those were the moments that make you really dream, so I just thought Patti Smith on the radio…. Smith Radio….SMITHRADIO. I thought, you know, I’m a wavelength on SMITHRADIO. Artistically, I was invented by Patti Smith. She is the Muse.

SMC – That’s an amazing story. I love that! Wow……wow.

SP – I grew up with a very artistic mother who demanded artistic integrity, honesty, vulnerability and, above all, spirituality, in every piece of art, music, book, film she exposed me to.  So, that’s what I aspire to. We’re starting this EP off with songs about love gone right and gone bad, longing with a kind of wistful resignation.

SMC – So there was that deep connection with her. I think you and I…. if I had read correctly…. both had mothers who passed away in 2008.

SP – Yes, my mother and I had always had a very deep connection…to the point where we were telepathic. I knew what she was thinking all the time, and vice versa. We didn’t have to speak, we just knew with a look. She never had to tell me to do anything, I always knew what she wanted me to do or what was expected of me.

SMC – My relationship with my mother was very similar, so I can concur.

SP – Yeah and it really contrasts with my relationship with my father because I had zero connection with him. We didn’t understand one another. He wasn’t around very much and when he was, it wasn’t very pleasant. When he left, I was really kind of relieved.

SMC – Now when I look at you having this success in your career along with also having a (young) son, and he starting to play with his guitar…with you not having that relationship with your own father, what would you like to bestow upon your son that you may not have gotten from a fatherly figure?

SP – My job is to prepare him to leave home eventually and thrive in the real world and that’s what I am doing. He’s very bright, willful. Absorbs everything I’m doing or saying so gotta be careful. The thing that really struck me is how much joy he brings every day, how funny he is. I literally laugh all day with him. Smart, quick, mischievous. Ton of fun. Then there’s the scary side, the worry but all worth it. He’s watching me build my music into something and I am very proud of that. I already have a nice, fat scrapbook about SMITHRADIO to go through with him when he’s ready. If I can inspire my boy to strive for great things and fight for his dreams I’ll have done my job.

SMC – In combining those two questions together, would you say that your mother, being the primary caregiver – obviously, she had to wear two hats – would you say that the skills she bestowed upon you is something that you are passing down to your son?

SP – I think that the greatest gift that my mother gave me was…. you know, she was toughest person that I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone with a backbone like that. She was 5ft 2” and the sweetest person you would ever want to meet but man, when people crossed her……uh oh! She wouldn’t yell. She would get really quiet and say, “Let me tell you about the facts of life here”, and we would go ‘Uh oh!’ She was amazing. But just tough as nails. Her famous line to me is the line I always say now and that’s: ‘Give ‘em hell’, that’s all I heard when I would walk out the door of the apartment was ‘Give ‘em hell’, and I did. In every aspect of my life, I gave ‘em hell. She wanted us to be competitive in all areas, and we were (he and his sisters). I still am – I don’t know any other way. I compete, therefore I am and that’s just what she wanted for us. She instilled the work ethic by example. I wish there were 30 hours in the day because I love putting in the work for my music. There’s just not enough time in the day.

SMC – I know, I can relate.

SP – I’m just at it all the time. People think I’m a mad man but I’m always saying, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go write.’  Songs hit me in odd place at odd times but the bottom line is they don’t hang around forever so you gotta split and get it down. When the Muse calls you answer.

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SCOTT PATTERSON | SMITHRADIO (FORMERLY GORDON) SPOTLIGHT SERIES NO.1

A force to be reckoned with SMITHRADIO debuts LIVE in West Virginia for Flood Relief

by CA Marshall

*Some content updated May 2017 with reference to previous band name GORDON

There’s a golden nugget waiting to be discovered in our Music Industry and it comes by the name of SMITHRADIO (formerly GORDON). I speak strongly here when I make this claim so let me back up the bus a little and catch you all up to speed on what’s about to literally explode onto the music scene

Since early June 2016, when Los Angeles, California-based world renowned actor Scott Patterson tweeted out ‘The band prepping first two gigs! More info to come! #rockandroll #LAdebut #lovethemusic #RideTheBull’. As Editor of an established Music and Entertainment Website and online Magazine (Starlight Music Chronicles), my antennae immediately went up – this needed to be researched more…

We are always on the lookout for new music and are happy to promote Indie Artists so this definitely had me subscribing to his Twitter account and following his tweets. I wanted to know more, see more, hear more. Here and there and up until this very moment while I am typing this feature, I would see snippets of what was to come. ‘In the Studio Recording’ was one. Then there were some video clips of the band at rehearsals followed by the Band Logo revealed on July 9th which read simply “SMITHRADIO (With a backwards `R`) and the initials ‘R B S P T I D’” attached to the message: “July 29 Tractor Bar, Mt. Nebo, WV! 9-11pm. Flood Benefit. Let’s Rock!’ On July 12th, Patterson posted “VIP/Meet-Greet/photos/autographs at Tractor Bar Mt Nebo WV 7/29/16, 2-6pm SMITHRADIO onstage @9PM!!” All of this followed by a clip of the song ‘Beautiful’, a deep bluesy soulful taste of what really is to come.

I put in the request to speak to Patterson immediately so that we could feature SMITHRADIO on Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC). After hearing the ‘Beautiful’ clip, I knew instinctively this was something the world is going to appreciate very quickly being that the music is what avid music junkies are seeking right now: a blues-based sound with a rock and roll twist topped with a little bit of Punk Rock perfected with powerful vocals (Patterson’s) that will blow your mind!

The debut for SMITHRADIO is not just going to be your average live show; it’s also a benefit concert for the families in small communities of West Virginia who have been affected by recent flooding. This is not only a bold move for a debut live show (most Artists will usually only debut for an album release), but every twitter sneak peek leading up to this event proves that it’s also going to be a ‘knock their socks off’ performance. After interviewing Patterson, it is clear that SMITHRADIO is a force to be reckoned with, bringing to the table a history rich with Rock and Roll roots and nothing short of magic to the ears.

Here is our exclusive debut interview with Patterson on all the info you will want to know on SMITHRADIO:

INTERVIEW, July 22, 2016 | Editor CA Marshall with Scott Patterson-

SMC – Hi Scott, thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Obviously, this is your debut (for SMITHRADIO), and you have chosen a Benefit concert to be a part of that debut. I am curious to know a little about that but first, can you give us a little bit of a synopsis of the band and how it came to be?

SGP – Well, I’ve been in bands since I was in third grade and all the way through high school and then when I came out to LA to pursue acting I was doing music as well. I was probably pursuing music as hard as I was pursuing Acting. Things weren’t happening on the acting side in any consistent way so I had a lot of time to write music (he’s written 500 songs!), and to play out in LA at the Kibitz room every Monday, which is a pretty famous venue. They’d have an open jam for people and you’d come in and get up on stage and play a set if you wanted to. I was in with the regulars there for about five years doing this. Right when I was starting to book real gigs in 2000, obstacles were placed in my way, good obstacles, but the music was put on hold. Since 2000, it’s been hectic, busy, and great. Then there was a little bit of a lull, but then in June of this year, I was talking to a friend of mine from back in New Jersey (Patterson was Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Haddonfield, New Jersey) and we were talking about putting the old band back together. He’s a drummer and I grew up with him on the same street. He’s still a drum teacher back there in Southern New Jersey. So, we are talking about the possibility of us joining forces and then he referred me to somebody in the town next over, and they knew somebody, so it kind of started like that then there were people out here (LA) that they knew so I got in touch with those people and I had been auditioning people for a couple of years trying to find the right guys, the right egos, the right players to fit together. There are a lot of great musicians out here but I couldn’t quite find the right mix of people. It would get started and then it would fizzle quickly for whatever reason. It`s not easy putting a band together. So anyway, I found some guys who were not only virtuoso players on their instruments, absolute monsters on their instruments, they’re really good guys. They are really excited to play together for this opportunity to get gigs. Nobody’s getting gigs! It’s hard to play out live and get paid even a little bit of money.  It’s a hard business, a hard business.

I write all the material and the litmus test was (for band member enrollment) was going to be: are they going to hang around for my songs? Are they going to see the potential in the songs and they did. We’ve now been rehearsing for about six weeks now and we’re really beginning to come together as a band. The songs are sounding great and I’m very excited. Everybody is pretty excited. It’s going to be a big powerful sound. So, I’m eager to start playing out and having fun!

SMC – I have listened to some of the clips you have tweeted out and I am blown away: the sound is very reminiscent yet it’s fresh and I think it’s something the world needs right now. How do you feel the music that is being generated and produced by other musicians is at this point? We’re missing a lot of really good Rock and Roll music as in times gone by!

SGP – Well, right, but look, every generation has their music, every generation has Sinatra, and everybody has their particular flavor what they produce and what they like. What’s out now is just really a reflection of who these kids are today and what they like. I’m not going to judge it. It’s just my experience and our experience was different. I grew up listening to the big classic rock bands of the 70’s: The Who, Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, you name it; I’ve seen all these bands when I was growing up. I made sure that when anybody was coming to town I was there at the area. Those were the most fun times of my youth were going to those concerts and getting lost in the music. A lot of what I hear today, yes, it’s a lot different. In the past 20 or 30 years there has been some music that hasn’t, shall we say, been honest? It’s kind of manufactured purely for the purposes of making money and I don’t see really, the Artists themselves writing the music, it’s been written for them but look, at the end of the day, it’s a business. I write my own songs, I’ve written 500 songs. I have all kinds of songs: I have some that are attempting to be complex, and then I went into this phase where I thought the biggest challenge in popular music is to find a hook and something simple that people can really groove to and enjoy. So that’s been the challenge of the last several years is trying to come up with a set list of 15 or 16 songs that people will remember and enjoy but still pay homage to the era that I come from with the music that I grew up loving and the music that is in my bones. I think that the kids of today are very well versed in classic rock. When I sit down with a guitar, I’m not listening to songs of today and trying to emulate that kind of writing, it’s not what I do. What I do is blues based because that’s what I love. I am really trying to have fun with the music and I want the audience to have fun with the music as well. I think people get together at a venue and they want to have fun; they want to dance and enjoy the music and they want to feel happy and forget their troubles especially in this age we live in you know? So, there you go, that’s it in a nutshell.

SMC – I was going to ask you about whether you write your own songs and what is the inspiration behind it. Specifically, the song ‘Beautiful’ which you had up on twitter…

SGP – That’s the song that came out of. (He pauses reflecting) well, I had a son, a baby boy, and I started looking at the world differently and was looking at my own life differently and everybody else differently. That event changed me in profound ways as it always does for everybody who has a child. I wanted to share this new-found ability to love, I guess, for lack of a better phrase, with the world! I was really thrilled that I was no longer bashful about it, I could take the armor off, and I could stop fighting in a sense…look, it doesn’t matter who you are when you’re behind a microphone, that’s powerful and you’re spreading a message and for this 3-5 minutes of the song, I thought ‘What is this message going to be to these people for a good five minutes why can’t I tell the people in the audience that they’re beautiful?’ It’s like what George Harrison did in his career is try to be a better person and try to convey a better message of love and peace. I just figured the world could use a good five minutes of that from my band.

SMC – We support an organization called Morgan’s Mission which stands for anti-bullying. By you saying the world has become hardened, it’s so true so it’s nice to know you have a song that stands for that.

SGP – Yes, well you know look, there’s a lot of people out there that aren’t doing too well, they don’t feel too good about themselves, and if they’re not what ‘corporate America’ wants them to look like, they’re depressed, bullied, and told that they don’t look right and they’re shamed in all kinds of ways, a very small percentage of those people are going to take their own lives and they’re 14 years old and 12 years old, it’s just the most tragic thing.

It goes back to how I write music. How I write a song – I will play around with my guitar and if I hit a chord or a certain chord progression the right way an entire story comes at me fully formed and I have to write it down pretty quickly. There are wormholes for songwriters and if you fall into one, and get into the right progression, there are some nice lyrics and songs out there. I don’t write songs first and then match the instrument to the song, that’s not how I write music.  I’ve been messing around with a lot of different tunings lately and you can hit some crazy chords! One chord I hit. I just love the song that came out of it. Again, its rock, its blues, and again, I don’t want to become too complicated with the songs. It’s just the feeling behind them and the player’s ability to play the songs. Less is more for me. If I hit a chord, there’s a story that draws it out of me.

SMC – How much are you able to say about the band’s former name (GORDON)? It’s your middle name, correct?

SGP – Yes, it’s my Mother’s maiden name and my middle name.

SMC – So tell us a little about the Flood Relief concert, that’s the event you have chosen to debut and I am curious, there could be anywhere in the world that you could debut, why West Virginia? I see you are big into the humanitarian side, so we would like to know a little bit about that.

SGP – This Gentleman in Richwood, West Virginia reached out to me via twitter. They were hit historically hard with flooding. Approx. 24 people died in White Sulphur Springs, Richwood, and Rainelle, West Virginia and other areas. He had tweeted out to a bunch of big country music stars and other music stars and somehow, he included me in his tweets. I just was so taken by that. I read about what happened and I’ve been keeping abreast of the situation. His phone number was on the tweet so I called him and asked how I can help.

SMC – I bet he was surprised! (laughs)

SGP – He was really happy because I called him within 10 minutes of getting the tweet and I don’t think he heard from anybody else at that point.

SMC – That’s awesome! Good for you!

SGP – There are many, many chapters to this story, but it ended up being two benefit concerts. The first one is Friday night, July 29th at The Tractor Barn in Mt. Nebo, WV. Then July 30th, there will be a free concert in Summersville, WV which is right up the road, I believe, from Mt. Nebo, its outdoors at the pavilion downtown. They’re going to shut down the streets and rope off an area close to the stage and charge $25 per person for VIP access and everybody else is free. I’m going to do a ‘Meet and Greet’ for fans Friday from 2-6 pm at the Tractor Bar and then Saturday 2-6 pm at Maloney’s Sports Pub in downtown Summersville. The Tractor Bar show starts at 9pm for SMITHRADIO and the opening act is called the Carpenter Ants and they’re good players and I believe they are WV boys too so it’s going to be a fun time. They go on at 7pm Friday at The Tractor Barn and 6pm Saturday in Summersville followed by us at 8pm. So that’s how it happened. The Mayor of Summersville has gotten involved and he’s been doing a lot of heavy lifting getting this all together. It’s been a lot of work, yeah sure, I’m pretty tired at this point but these things are worth doing and there are people who are really hurting. Life’s been good to me and I’ve been very fortunate and now it’s time to try and help some folks out. I just thought it was the perfect way to debut the band, and these are really good guys in the band and when I told them about it (flood relief concert) they all wanted to do it. That’s why I chose these guys, because they are just good-hearted guys on top of being fantastic players, they’re just good people. Why not make a couple of concerts and try to help people take their minds of their troubles for a couple hours a day?

SMC – I know you say you’ve been involved in music at such a young age, yet I feel your band is going to go in a very strong direction very quickly.

SGP – Why do you feel that way? I share your optimism because the songs are solid and the band is just fantastic. But why do you feel that way?

SMC – Well, there’s a couple reasons: Number one – My impression from your twitter newsfeed about SMITHRADIO is that you’re very happy and excited about what you’re doing. It’s an excitement behind it, it’s not an ‘okay, well, we’re going through the process…following protocol, we’re going to release on such and such a date, etc.’, it’s more like ‘Hey everybody! Come out and join the party!’ and it’s rather refreshing. Secondly, I think that, with the music I have heard, this is what the world is wanting right now. I think that it is very fresh and enjoyable. It’s exactly what I imagined and you confirmed it just by talking about it.

SGP – Well listen, I have not been this passionate about anything in my entire life. I have never felt so great and so determined in my entire life. I have done some things where I have tried to build careers in different areas and I kind of know what it takes: It takes talent, hard work, patience, and you need to be on an even keel because there are highs and lows. I have been through that through a couple different careers now. The one thing that excites me about this and the one thing that was obvious to do was to do a live experience where I could connect with other people. I just started craving it. I could not be myself continuing solely in a profession where I had no contact while doing my job with an audience, you know what I mean? So, the options were: Live Theatre or this. Music has always been, for me, the number one choice had I been able to choose a career. I thought to myself, well when the heck am I going to do it? I have to do it now (he laughs), I’m not 20 anymore.

Another reason I am so passionate about it is.my son is just two years old and he hasn’t seen me build anything yet. I’ve built a couple of different careers and one I was very successful but didn’t reach the ultimate goal and the other career I almost got all the way to the top of the mountain and ended up making a really great living but he hasn’t seen me do it. I want him to see me build something; I want him to see me enjoying it and see me successful at it so that’s what’s driving me. He sings songs with me and plays the guitar with me.

SMC – Are you kidding?! That’s so cute!

SGP – Yeah, he comes into my media room where I write and I’ll give him a guitar pick and he’ll hit the strings and he’ll sing along. I want my son to see me pursuing my passion because that’s what I want him to do. So, there’s a lot of energy behind it.  I have a friend of 30 years come by and she didn’t have any idea (and she is in the music business) I was so heavily involved, and she said, ‘You have a band?’ (laughs) So I said, “Come by to the rehearsal studio!” She did and we had the best time. We played the whole set for her.

SMC – That’s great!

SGP- Those clips you heard were done a couple of weeks ago when we were just starting out. Since, we have recorded a couple of songs in one take, with no over dubs at all. I am talking to some people now about recording and working on our first album. I want to have something for people to hear obviously instead of these little clips here and there but we are just six weeks old and our band is just a little baby at this point.

SMC – Well thank you for considering us for the interview! We really appreciate getting to know the band while it’s still young!

SGP – Absolutely!

SMC – Do you want to remain ‘Indie’ or are you wanting to be signed by a label?

SGP – You know what I want to do? This is what I want to do: I want to play a lot of live shows for a lot of people. That’s what I want to do. That’s all I want to do.  I want to tour, be on the road, and bring my family with me all over the world. If at some point, someone wants to sign us, great! I just want to play live! I want the world to hear this band and there are times in rehearsal when I just stand there and I am amazed at what is hitting me in the back. It feels so good and I’m just so happy to be there. Look, it’s an intense band. These are intense songs.

SMC – Even better!

SGP – We’re looking to blow some doors off some rooms. That’s what excites me is the level of intensity of this band and how we can take a song I wrote 20 years ago and take it out of this moody, little quiet thing and rock it up and make it a powerful song and we do it. We have just finalized the set list that is most impactful to debut these songs. I don’t want to be a guy up there giving speeches and talking too much, I just want to keep people grooving for a couple hours at a time because I think that’s also a lost art and to share that with an audience would be monumental. Its contact with people and the world and I just feel a very powerful need and inspiration with my band and I am going to do it and nothing is going to stop me.

SMC – Would you ever consider coming to Canada?

SGP – Absolutely! We’d love to come to Canada. This WV concert is a lot of work but we are getting a lot of support from the Mayor and others. It’s really not a simple thing to put together and so many decisions that have to be made to make this come off right. We are looking at playing some benefit concerts on the Jersey Shore in mid-August. We are planning some bigger shows actually; maybe you can come down for those! Is there really anything better than going to a live concert? I don’t think so.

SMC – Do you have any co-writes in the future?

SGP – At the moment, I write all the songs.

SMC – Have there been any interesting fan moments that you would like to share with the inception of SMITHRADIO?

SGP Word is beginning to trickle out a little bit and everything that we have heard so far as feedback has been positive, just completely positive. People want to know more and are finding out where we are rehearsing and they are ‘stopping by’ saying ‘I was in the area’ and I say to them ‘Really? You’re just sort of stopping by here…. Really?’

SMC – So essentially, this is the ‘Golden Nugget’ in your career?

SGP – How can I say this. I am at a point in my life where…there’s something far more interesting and deeper that is buried underneath your rage. There is something far more productive and artistic, you know, it is the heart and soul of art. I think I’ve finally gotten to that point in my life where I can wipe away bad memories and access some really golden stuff and enjoy it and share it with the world. That had a lot to do with the birth of my son and I am expressing it through the music. I should have probably named the band after my son because really, it’s me wanting to share the joy of my son with the world! (laughs). Now if everybody would do that, there would be a lot more music and a lot more peace, right?

SMC – No Kidding! (laughs) Do you plan on having more children?

SGP – Oh yes! I like how this first one came out and I think I’ll do it again yeah.

SMC – Awe, nice! That’s great to hear!

SGP – Yeah, they’re wonderful. He’s wonderful.

SMC – Hoping for a daughter next time?

SGP – Maybe two boys and then a girl…we’ll see, we’ll see.

SMC – Is it going to be far off into the future as far as recordings that will be available to the public?

SGP – I am talking to some people now and I want to be very careful about this because it is important how the public hears this music for the first time. First impressions are everything. I want to do it right and I want to make sure that it`s the best quality tracks that we could possibly do at that moment before I share full songs with the world. I want to be really, proud of it. I need to be impressed by it and I`m very demanding of myself and detail oriented. It just has to be great. I won`t share it unless it`s great. We have recorded five songs but I thought the power of the band wasn`t captured in those recordings so I will share little bits here and there but I think it`s important to come out guns blazing with some great tracks. You don`t get a second chance. I`d rather have people get a little frustrated with me than put out a product that I`m not proud of.

SMC – Understandable

SGP – Let`s just get some gigs under our belts because there’s a lot of mistakes and adjustments we need to make yet and we’ll learn as we go. Right now, it’s finding the right Producer who can structure and produce the songs with the sound we are creating and capable of.

SMC – Your logo, why does it have the numbers 1:11 on it?

SGP – That’s a tattoo I have on my left shoulder and the other one, in the middle of the logo, is another one I have on my right bicep. There’s meaning with them, all that kind of stuff, deep meaning. I just wanted to make the logo as personal as I possibly could.

SMC – It’s great! It’s very reflective of the band. With regards to your live performance, does the band feel like they can do a two-hour show and walk off the stage feeling fine?

SGP – Let me put it to you this way: A three-hour rehearsal for us is a short rehearsal and we go through the set list one and a half to two times in three hours with about a 15-minute break in between. After that, we are spent(laughs)

SMC – You boys are machines!

SGP – Thank God I am in good shape but I’m a pretty emotional guy as it turns out (laughs). That’s how I sing and that’s how I write.

SMC – How do you feel about how it’s all coming together?

SGP – I think we’re ready to play live. We were ready a month ago. They say playing one live gig is worth one week of rehearsal so I think we’re ready to get out there and learn what we need to do. We’ll put on a good show. People will enjoy it but we’re going to learn a lot. We’ll make some mistakes but we’ll learn a lot. I’ll forget some lyrics and they’ll forget some transitions, you know, it’s part of it. Nothings perfect, it’s not going to be a seamless performance but we’re ready!

SMC – But the beauty in that is the audience hasn’t heard the full songs yet so they won’t know, and that’s the beauty in all of this. That’s what I am excited to hear about: is the audience’s reaction.

SGP – Well yeah, I write a variety of different styles too

SMC – Well I recall that we had talked about (in the beginning of the interview) different kinds of music that were your influences. Are there any Punk Rock influences you liked?

SGP – Patti Smith. I auditioned for her band when I was 15.

SMC – You’re kidding?

SGP – Oh yeah. You know she’s a South Jersey girl. She grew up where I grew up. When I was in high school, beginning my freshman year, I would go up to New York City to see her band every chance I would get. I would stay with my sister and I would see her perform at The Bottom Line (venue), speak at Amnesty International events, and I was in CBGB’s (venue) one night as a 15-year-old with two of my sisters and she was standing there talking to some guy. He looked like he was a record Producer. She was wearing these Ray Ban’s with these blinders on the side

SMC – I remember those!

SGP – Remember those tan leather blinders on the side?

SMC – Yep!

SGP – I went up to her…I am pretty bold and not terribly shy when I want something, and I just walked right up to her and interrupted their conversation and I said, “I’m from South Jersey too and I’m a big fan and I was wondering if you are looking for a keyboard player.” Then she pulled down her glasses a little bit toward the end of her nose and looked at me and said, “How old are you?’ (he laughs)

SMC – (Laughing) that’s awesome!

SGP With Patti, she really started out the other way around. She started a band around her to match the words to some songs, I thought, with some terrific results. It was very unusual music very exciting music based on her inspirations and her love of great literature and French symbolist poetry and the alchemy of the work. She was trying to do what Rimbaud (French Poet) tried to do and achieve this kind of alchemy with her music. In my humble opinion she achieved that.

I also remember at that time I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who, and who everybody else was listening to. Then she came along and I started listening to her on WMMR in Philadelphia was the big FM Radio station and they would do live broadcasts every Sunday night wherever she was playing. Those shows had just had incredible energy coming out of the radio and I just think: wouldn’t that be great to do that at The Tractor Bar on July 29th is have a live broadcast. because for me that was just so exciting as a young boy: the anticipation, waiting for that concert to be on the radio and having to hide the radio under the sheets because it was past my bedtime you know.

SMC – That’s awesome!

SGP – Yes, and actually, after I had auditioned, I hadn’t heard anything.  A month later I saw her at an Amnesty International speech and we ended up backstage. Patti came up behind me and my sisters’ eyes went really wide and she said ‘Scott, turn around’ and, it was her. She said, ‘I remember you. How are you doing?’ I was totally star-struck again. I was gaga for the woman. We ended up having a nice conversation and afterwards, when we were walking out the door and taking a left down the Bowery and we weren’t 20 feet down the street when I heard this voice shout out ‘Hey!’ and its Patti Smith again standing there with some people. So, I turned around and she shouts “Hey man! Good luck!’ For me, that was the biggest moment of my life. I kind of feel like I’ve been, how can I say – blessed by the Goddess right? You could say I was ‘Blessed by the Goddess poet Patti Smith’. It was a really nice moment which meant everything to me. She represented to me that somebody from south Jersey could get out of south Jersey and do big things you know what I mean? It was just a huge inspiration for me. It was a moment where someone I looked up to so much was so kind and beautiful to me. I will always love her for that. Those memories of seeing her in New York, those memories are deeply ingrained in me. To me, she represented artistic freedom, freedom of expression, living outside of society and not feeling like you have to fit in somewhere. She could be her own person and be proud of it and not really care what other people thought except what she thought. To me, she was self actualized and really loved herself and still does. Horses was such a deeply impactful and artistic album for me. You just can’t make that kind of album today, but I’m going to try!

SMC – I hope you do! Keep up the good work! For me it Bowie.

SGP – You know what? When Bowie died, it hit me harder than I expected it to. It was just because of his individuality and how unique he was and how bold and brilliant the music was. The song writing was so impactful. When I found out that he passed away, I was stunned. I just couldn’t move. Bowie was just (sighs). Bowie was Bowie…I sat in my media room and I wept. I was really in mourning. I knew Iman back in the late 80’s, we were friends before they got together. I wanted to reach out but, you know, it had been so long. I was just completely stunned and blown away. He wrote some beautiful songs. What an unbelievable loss to the music industry!

SMC – Yes, I totally agree. You know, I’m going to have to see you live!

SGP – Absolutely!

SMC – So, there are a lot of Artists that go live and they sound nothing like they do in their recordings

SGP – Yeah, well, we’re not going to have that. There’s a device now that you can put into your microphone so that live performances can get auto tuned through your mic. I’m not going to do that to my fans. If I go off-key then it’s on me. You know? We’ve got to keep it real for the fans. That’s how we record too. We record live and we just try to rock it as best we can. We want a real raw sound because our live sound is just so explosive we’re looking for a Producer who can capture that real like raw explosiveness.

SMC – NICE!  Someone needs to film this. I want to see the reaction! I have a feeling SMITHRADIO will appeal to a lot of different age groups really, because the younger crowd is looking for something new.

SGP – If the younger crowd is craving an iconic throwback 70’s rock band sound, that’s what we have. That’s what they’re going to get. We have searing lead guitar solos that will blow your mind, one of the guys’ plays a slide guitar that is absolutely wicked beyond wicked, the drummer is thunderous and he’s gifted. It’s just such a great sound. A lot of the songs are about life experiences.

SMC – Okay, can you name one of the songs you’ve written which still really affect you even to this day.

SGP – I think one of the most deeply emotional songs in the entire set is a song called ‘Christina’. I wrote it about a girl I knew a long time ago, but really, it could relate to anyone that wants to escape their circumstances as teenagers. Ones that are growing up in horrible circumstances and maybe some abusive circumstances and they long to leave and run away because they know that if they don’t leave, something bad could happen. It’s autobiographical and I realize why I liked the song so much is that I wrote it from experience: I was struggling to get out of my circumstances at the time as well. Those are always some of my favorite songs growing up are songs like that: songs about the need to escape, the need to get out, the need to know more about life. I think a lot of popular music comes from the need to pour one’s heart out into an instrument.  Let me sum it up for you: instead of therapy, you’re screaming into a microphone for three hours at a time. It’s wonderful. Even if you don’t have a band, you should buy yourself a microphone, get into a sound proof room and scream for a couple of hours. You’ll walk out feeling great! I’ve been screaming now for six weeks and it feels so right and good.

SMC – What do you want people to remember from this debut concert?

SGP – Our intention is to have people leave that theater exhausted and exhilarated and smiling and sweaty and hoarse you know? And their right or their left shoulders hurting from pumping their fists so much and their palms hurting from clapping so much. We’re not asking for much are we really?

Not at all Scott, not at all

World, are you ready for the SMITHRADIO Storm?

Stay tuned!

______________________

*UPDATED May 2017*

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