Zeb Christensen: Screaming For Silence

Written by: Frank Iacono

zeb-christensen-header

Hard-hitting rock, heavy breakdowns, and an energetic live performance that never stops entertaining the crowd appropriately describes Zeb Christensen’s Omaha Nebraska-based band named Screaming For Silence. Over the last three years, they have toured nationally and played over four hundred live shows from coast to coast. With that, his band has continually captivated audiences across the nation, gaining new fans during each show at every stop.

During Screaming For Silence’s hectic 2013 touring schedule, they were rewarded with a sponsorship opportunity promoting PRS’s new line of S2 guitars. In 2014, they spent the year touring and recording their first full-length studio album. Their new material was recorded in North Hollywood, California at Grey Area Studios with producer Erik Ron, who has also worked with Motionless In White, We Came As Romans, and New Year’s Day.

With head banging guitar riffs, intense drums, and melodic hooks containing in your face lyrics the members of Screaming For Silence have created their own unique sound. The first single off their self-titled debut is aptly named “The King Is Crowned” garnered radio play across the country and peaked at #29 on Billboard’s Indicator chart. In May of 2015, they were selected by Ernie Ball as the Battle of the Bands for Rock On The Range winners. Having the right combination of talent, work ethic, and road experience they are poised to explode onto the rock scene in 2016.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zeb Christensen, the lead vocalist of Screaming For Silence, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his band’s new album Screaming For Silence.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I have always been into music. I’ll never forget the first rock concert I went to which was an outdoor festival. The sun was out and the music was loud I loved it! After seeing all of the energy and emotion that the bands were giving I told myself I wanted to do that! I’ve been inspired by so many musicians. Corey Taylor, Johnny Cash, and Eminem. I like everything; if it catches my ear I dig it.

5-25-2016 1-13-40 AM

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Zeb Christensen or Screaming For Silence, how would you describe your musical genre?

We are a five piece Hard Rock band from Omaha, NE. We have been touring nationally for about four years playing over 400 shows in that span. We released our first full length album in 2015 that is self-titled.

The Screaming For Silence band lineup consists of:

  • Zeb Christensen – Vocals
  • Danny Irwin – Guitar/Vocals
  • Casey Newsom – Guitar/Vocals
  • Matt Tatroe – Drums
  • Mike Friese – Bass Guitar

Screaming for Silence Band

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

Our musical influences are really all over the board and I think that really helped shape us as a band. We all are kind of into different genres and that gives us a little different flavor.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your self-titled full length album entitled Screaming For Silence. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

The whole experience was amazing. Getting to work with the guys and Erik Ron on the album was such a blast. My favorite part is getting to hear all the songs come to life from nothing and then all the way to the final product. It’s something we are very proud of and put a lot work and emotion into. I would say the most challenging part of the process is picking which songs go onto the album!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Screaming For Silence is the lead track called “The King Is Crowned,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

We knew after finishing the album that this was going to be the first single. It just had all of the elements. We wanted to make a killer video for it so we thought it would be cool to get our hometown of Omaha involved and film it at the Joslyn Castle. Aaron Gum and Tyler Yager really made this video come to life! We thought it was very fitting to film in a castle. There was a huge storm that day and our crowd still showed up in full force to be a part of it. We had a great response from it and got a lot of radio behind it. It ended up peaking at #29 on the Billboard Indicator Chart and #14 on the Under The Radar Chart. We really owe it to all of our fans that helped spread the word and would call and request!


TCS: How thrilling was it to have “The King Is Crowned” selected as the winner of the 2016 NAIRMA Award for Outstanding Song?

It was the one of my favorite moments as a band. Getting to be there in LA for the whole experience was just awesome. Rubbing elbows with people in bands we look up to and the whole environment was great. When they called our name we were in a little bit of shock I think haha. It just makes you feel like you are doing something right when someone gives you recognition.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the 2012 hit single entitled “Helpless” that appeared on your debut EP Relentless?

The song is about people who just can’t do anything for themselves. They are always throwing themselves a pity party and not doing anything to help the situation. People like that are really tough to deal with.


TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

We have always had the mind set of we will play anywhere at any time. It makes for a lot of interesting shows! In the end it has also made us who we are. We are so lucky to be able to play music and perform as much as we do!

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

The only area of the country we haven’t hit is the Northwest. I can’t wait to get up there. I’d also really like to play The Machine Shop in Flint, MI. I feel like that venue has one of the best reputations in the country. I’d love to tour with Ke$ha.

TCS: Tell us about the Screaming For Silence song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Separate” which also appeared on the Relentless?

We actually worked with Justin Mccain of the band Through Fire from Omaha NE. He’s an amazing artist/songwriter and we were really young. He wanted to do a song together and I think we ended up doing the whole thing in a day. We hadn’t really done much recording at that time so it was awesome to get the experience with him and learn a lot.


TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

We have our own website Screamingforsilence.com and you can also find us on almost every social media outlet (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat etc.) Also all of our music is on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon and more!

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

I always try to plug bands that are up and coming like us. We just did a lot of touring with some bands that are killer like Guns Out At Sundown, Poynte, Sleep Signals. Also a lot of our good friends just released new music or are about to like Blameshift, 3 Pill Morning, and Another Lost Year.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Screaming For Silence?

This summer we are doing just mostly festival stuff. Rocklahoma, Rock Fest (Cadott,WI). I’m really looking forward to Locofest in Algona, IA and headlining a new festival in our hometown called The New Generation Music Festival. You can find all of those dates on our website. Then we are heading back to the studio in August to make a new album!

Song List on House of Glass (2017)

  1. House of Glass
  2. Long Way Up
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Buried Alive
  5. Worth Fighting For

Song List on Screaming For Silence (2015)

Screaming for Silence

  1. Disgrace
  2. The King Is Crowned
  3. Varsity Blues
  4. Hero to Zero
  5. Cutting Ties
  6. No Way Out
  7. Calling Your Bluff
  8. Infested
  9. Don’t Give In
  10. Fly Away

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

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Tony Trujillo: Beyond Today

Written by: Frank Iacono

Beyond-Today-Tony-Trujillo

Beyond Today, a hard rock band, started with Guy Johnston, Cory Burke, and Tony Trujillo in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley areas. Within just a couple weeks of beginning the project, Beyond Today had already written a handful of songs that were ready to be recorded. They chose Amplified Wax Recording Studio in Spokane, WA as their production destination.

Beyond Today completed recording their debut EP in just 2 days. Once they finished the process, they added their forth band member, Vaughn Knoeppel, and started playing shows in Palouse, ID, one of which gathered over 2,000 attendees.

Beyond Today made a name for themselves in their hometown of Lewiston, ID with the early release of their song “Colors” on their local rock radio station Z-Rock 96.5 FM. The song was selected to be a part of the Z-ROCK KOZE Cage Match against big name acts. They won all 5 nights in a row securing their spot in the Z-Rock Hall of Fame. Once their debut EP was released in October of 2013, they started to pick up even more ground, with requests to have them play all over the Northwest. To that extent, they won 2nd Place at The Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands Finals in Spokane, WA.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Trujillo, the bassist and backing vocalist of Beyond Today, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his new album The Artificial Heart.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Beyond Today?

Beyond Today started back in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley. Guy Johnston (our lead vocalist) and I were in a previous project together. We had, at the time, booked studio time to record a handful of tracks with that project but we switched gears to lean more towards the rock side of things, wanting to get that energetic live show aspect going rather than the lighter “indie” stuff we were working on prior. With that studio time already booked, which was only a month out, we realized we needed to get some songs done quickly.

During a two week period of that short time before recording what would ultimately become the basis of our sound and identity, we buckled down and got to writing, fleshing out previous riffs, and wound up finishing seven songs for our initial EP. When it came time to record, which we only had three ten-hour days to complete, we still hadn’t come up with a band name yet, dozens were tossed around but we settled on Beyond Today because it was something that just grabbed us. It was also a kind of mantra for us, as in always looking beyond today to what’s next and to push ourselves to the best of our ability to be able to continue to grow as people, musicians, and a band to get there.

Beyond-Today-Performing

TCS: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I’d have to say I first realized I wanted to be a musician after seeing a Saliva/Default show when I was about 10 or 11 years old in New England. Something about the atmosphere and the energy of their performances just got my total and complete attention, from their music, to the stage presence, and the lighting and effects of the show. I’ve been involved in music ever since.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Tony Trujillo or the band Beyond Today, how would you describe your musical genre?

Hi, I’m Tony Trujillo of Beyond Today, in which I play bass and do the backing vocals for the band. Guy Johnston, is our main vocalist, and plays guitar and piano. Jeremy Wilcox is one of the main guitarists along with Paul Nims, and Tim Thornton is the man on the drum throne.

Beyond Today’s genre can be classified as Rock/ Alt. Rock/ Hard Rock/ Post-Grunge. We get compared a lot, with our similarities, to; Shinedown, Seether, Theory of a Deadman, Killswitch Engage, Saint Asonia, Breaking Benjamin, and many others which I can’t quite recall off of the top of my head. Those ones we certainly hear more often than not though.

Beyond-Today-The-Band

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

I followed a lot of the 90’s and 2000’s rock, hard rock, and metal bands growing up. Some of my favorites were Metallica, Ozzy, Papa Roach, Fuel, Chevelle, Korn, Disturbed, Crossfade, Linkin Park, 3 Doors Down, AFI, Cold, Theory of a Deadman, Default, Saliva, Filter, Big Wreck, Thornley, Deftones, Soundgarden, Thousand Foot Krutch, Pantera, Anberlin, Jerry Cantrell, Alice In Chains, and Three Days Grace, just to name a few. Music is almost all about listening, and I certainly learned a lot listening to those bands. A lot with phrasing, how notes move together to create the triads and chords used in constructing songs, and how syllabic rhythm played a role in vocal lines, melody, and lyrics.


TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your new full length album entitled The Artificial Heart. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

We started the writing process on the album back at the end of 2014, and started the recording process in March of 2015. This album was a lot of fun for us as a band. We wanted to feed off of the response we received from our EP namely with our song “Colors”. We wanted to build upon what we did with that and create some more high energy in your face kind of rock in our own way. We also re-recorded some of the older tunes to match the sound we were originally going for had we not been cut short on the recording time in the beginning of the band. That made the album full length with thirteen songs. It was quite the feat for us, but was always a goal we had, to get a full length out to really showcase all of the different songs we have.

My favorite part of the album recording process was the production of it. After the “scratch tracks” were recorded we really got to dive in and add things such as effects, harmonies, strings, and other interesting sounds that made the songs really stand out and become more and more personal to us. The challenging part was finding “that” sound with guitar tones and making them really punch. Luckily we came across the amps by the name of Kemper Profiling Amplifiers. Which allowed us to get the sounds we were after, making that larger than life guitar sound that we were after.

Beyond-Today-The -Artifical-Heart

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of The Artificial Heart is the title track called “The Artificial Heart,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept

The concept behind the song “The Artificial Heart” was from the viewpoint of falling in love with someone but they didn’t feel that they were good enough for you, so you’d wait as long as you could because you knew that a relationship with them could really be something great if not wonderful, and trying your damnedest to help them see themselves in a better light as it were, but sometimes the ‘waiting’ can cause too much pain on both sides. The video that Jimmy did was kind of out of the blue, we already had some ideas for one that we would shoot, but he did one for our song “Starlight” that was pretty cool. He made the video for “The Artificial Heart” and we thought it was a pretty cool interpretation.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the hit single entitled “Stay” that also appears on The Artificial Heart?

“Stay” is another one about a snapshot in a relationship, in where you first meet the person, and just want to really stay with them and lose yourselves in each other. It’s about that moment. That first sight kind of aspect.


TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

One of the strangest places I’ve played personally was during a show at night outdoors, when a torrential rain storm struck and soaked just about every piece of gear, but the show went on, until it cut the power. It was pretty fun, except replacing the equipment afterwards.

TCS: Tell us about the Beyond Today song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sunburnt Cradle”?

That one was just a song we wrote quickly that had a really good feel to it. The lyric video I made in after effects. I actually do all of the graphics and things in that nature for the band. Saves us a lot of money not having to hire out.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

One venue that I’ve always wanted to play is the Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood, California. I’d love the opportunity to play with the likes of Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, or Stanley Clarke. They are some killer bass players.

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fan base?

We try to look as professional as we possibly can. We make attention grabbing graphics and sell interesting one of a kind merchandise items, including dog tags, shot glasses, leather wrist bands, and other knick-knacks.

Beyond-Today-Merch

Additionally, we stay connected to our fans at shows and online media via the following:

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Definitely one band everyone should check out is a band out of Tennessee called Skytown Riot. We toured with those guys back in 2014, My favorite song by them would have to be “Runaway Princess” or “Soul or System”.


TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Beyond Today?

We’ve got some really cool shows planned for this summer. In June, we are headlining The Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA. Later this Summer/Early Fall we plan to go into the recording studio and do pre-production on the next album which will be out spring of next year. We also have some other very big things in the works that we’ll be announcing later on, as well as some music videos. You’ll just have to come check out what we got coming up.

Song List on The Artificial Heart (2016)

Beyond-Today

  1. Break Me
  2. Aftermath
  3. Where We Go
  4. Stay
  5. Colors
  6. Going Back
  7. StarlightT
  8. The Divide
  9. Silver Tongue
  10. Ghost
  11. Inside the Fire
  12. The Artificial Heart
  13. Blackbird

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Kick It Out: A Tribute To Heart

Written by: Frank Iacono

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-Band-Logo

Have you ever wished you could experience the masterful voice of Ann Wilson, the craftsmanship of guitarist Nancy Wilson, and the rest of the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group hailing from Seattle, Washington known as Heart? If so, then Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart, based in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and South New Jersey area, featuring long-time friends Sandy Hall and Susan Salmon is a must-see experience for you!

Kick It Out is a tribute band that was born out of a sincere respect, admiration, and love of Heart and their incredible and timeless music. As fans, all the members of Kick It Out have followed the Wilson sister’s careers since the early 1970’s. As musicians, the band feels passionately about performing Heart’s music with authenticity and integrity.

Kick It Out, a collection of seasoned musicians and performers experienced in both national and international music communities, is committed to providing all the power and adrenaline of a Heart concert while always staying true to the soul and magic of their unforgettable songs. For those eager “to keep the love alive”, it’s an experience guaranteed to leave audiences thrilled, emotionally engaged, and moved.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy Hall, Susan Salmon, and Joe DeLuca from Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their career as a tribute band, their set list, and their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart lineup and share with us how you decided on the band name?

Kick It Out: We were throwing around some Heart song titles as names and many of them had already been taken by other Heart tribute bands all over the country, so our guitarist Billy Salmon thought that Kick It Out would be a good band name. The song “Kick It Out” appears on the Little Queen album.

The Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart lineup features:

  • Sandy Hall — Lead Vocals
  • Susan Salmon — Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, and Background Vocals
  • Billy Salmon — Electric Guitar
  • Mark Evans — Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Background Vocals
  • Joe DeLuca — Keyboards and Background Vocals
  • Ritchie DeCarlo — Drums and Background Vocals

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-To-Heart

TCS: So how long has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart been playing together and how did you get started?

KIO: We were out performing during the Summer of 2009. I started talking to our original bass player Chris Hall and Jeff Gordon (former KIO drummer) who I have known since my teenage years and Susan Salmon (KIO guitarist) that I knew from Archbishop Ryan High School believe it or not about forming this band at the end of 2008. I believe we started talking about it after I saw Heart perform at the Susquehanna Center in Camden NJ with Journey and Cheap Trick. I thought…you know…I would LOVE to do a tribute to Heart and I know exactly who would be the perfect “Nancy”….Susan Salmon! Wow! I can’t believe it has been THAT long! I have always been and still am a BIG Heart fan. Moved and inspired by their music ever since I heard the album Dream Boat Annie. Ann and Nancy Wilson were a big inspiration and reason why I started singing professionally. It was the love of and connection to their music really. The music is challenging and vocally like a master vocal class. It takes a lot of stamina, power, and control to sing those songs for up to 2 hours.

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-To-Heart-Ann-Nancy

TCS: At what age did you become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as musicians?

Sandy Hall: I was in grade school, like maybe 3rd grade and I fell in love with music. I remember singing Karen Carpenter songs, The Beatles, Elton John, The Who, Jefferson Starship, and of course HEART. I would say that Ann and Nancy Wilson, Pat Benatar, David Bowie, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Pretenders, and Stevie Nicks all of them inspired me to purse music as a career.

Susan Salmon: I became interested in music at the age of 3. My mother was a piano teacher and she inspired me to pursue a musical career.

Joe DeLuca: For me, my love of music began when I was 10. I remember listening to my sister and brother’s 45’s of The Beatles, 3 Dog Night, The Doors, Motown, and etc.


TCS: Sandy did you think early on that you sounded like Ann Wilson or was it something that you discovered over time?

SH: Early on I actually felt and identified with Karen Carpenter’s tone and vocals in the alto/lower vocal register. Then when I started to really wail and rock out songs like Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”, Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, and Bette Midler’s version of “When A Man Loves A Woman” from the movie The Rose…well then I really started to appreciate the female rock vocal and of course I started singing Heart songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You” and I really did identify and connect to the upper range and power vocals of Ann Wilson. If you listen to those songs….you almost hear that lower warmer tone in the lower range and then the build up and jump to the full voice wailing. It was a combination of the Karen Carpenter tone and then some Robert Plant wailing in the upper range. It was challenging, yet very moving on a deep, deep low in the gut level kind of soul connection vocally. There is something really freeing when you sing in a strong full voice in that higher vocal register. Certainly there is an adrenaline high there. I like a challenge so naturally I felt that singing Ann Wilson’s songs would help me become a better vocalist.


TCS: Why do you guys think tribute bands have become so prominent in the past ten years or so? And, has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart ever been criticized for being a tribute band?

KIO: Well, some artists like Queen, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin are just not touring anymore or very infrequently and there is a desire in people to hear the music live in a nostalgic way and more frequently. You know recreate the feeling of that music that you fell in love with as a kid in a more intimate way….in a small venue instead of a large stadium in the nose bleed seats where you are looking at the artist over a big projected screen. Personally, I think people want to hear the music that they love live and in person and feel the connection to the music during a live performance. Tribute artists like Kick It Out channel the original artists during a performance in a smaller more accessible intimate level at a venue where they feel more connected to the artists and also at a more affordable cost as concert tickets are through the roof.

As for being criticized as a tribute band. No, Kick It Out has not been criticized for being a Heart tribute band. Although I know there is a school of thought out there that musicians should only perform their own music. My answer to that is that classical musicians in a way are playing covers and not their own original music and the very, very best are playing a piece as close to the original written music as humanly possible. So in a way that is what tribute artists do also. Ha!! And, I have to say that people do have a very high expectation of you when you put it out there that you are paying a tribute to what many consider the greatest female vocalist of this generation. That’s a lot of pressure actually. You can feel them checking you out and ready to put you down. I do my best to do a respectful tribute. Not an imitation. Of course, you want to recreate the experience for people so you do what you can to channel the original artists. A tribute is by definition an act of gratitude, affection, respect, and honor.


TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart sculpt its sound and its stage performance?

KIO: I think it comes very naturally for us. We all connect to the music and love it so playing it was easy even though the songs are challenging. When you love something you do your best to play it well. The stage performance is a combination of who we are and our own individual personalities with the understanding and intention of “channeling” the energy of Heart. You want to channel that energy and essence so that the audience can “feel” the songs as if they were at a Heart concert. But I do really feel that we all are infusing our own individual presence on stage in our performances. Again….it’s not an “imitation or impression” of Heart and their music …it’s a “tribute”….our tribute.

TCS: What do you guys feel is the hardest aspect of re-creating a Heart show?

KIO: For me it’s the stamina and power needed sing up to 2 hours during each show. It takes a lot of vocal control and lung power. I also feel that we would all agree that it is frustrating if you don’t have a good sound tech who knows the songs and they don’t turn up the guitars when they need to be up front and also for me it is essential to have good in ear monitor balance and mix as I depend on that to sing in pitch and not blow out my voice. If all that is in place…it’s a blast and not hard at all.

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-Band-To-Heart-Peforming

TCS: What do you feel sets Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart apart from other Heart tribute bands?

KIO: There is an aspect to my voice that has a similar timber and tone on these songs and power and energy on the high notes. Of course there is a visual resemblance that Susan and I have to Ann and Nancy. Additionally, Susan can actually play Nancy’s parts on both the guitar and mandolin whereas many Heart tribute bands don’t have that . She is a top notch musician. The band is made up of seasoned professional multi-talented musicians with excellent stage presence and high energy. Billy has that early Roger Fisher vibe going on too and is an excellent player and performer. Same goes for the other members, Mark Evans is a top notch pro all the way around, Ritchie DeCarlo, and Joe DeLuca also…pros with great attitudes.

TCS: Have you played with any other Heart tribute bands and if so what type of reaction have you received?

KIO: No. We have not.

TCS: How many gigs does Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart play annually and what and where are the venues in which you’ve performed?

KIO: We are a specialty act so we don’t play every week. On average we play about 10 to 12 good gigs a year. We don’t want to over saturate the area and Heart also is actively touring every year. We want to give people the music when they miss a Heart show or when they are not touring. All of us are also all involved in other music projects and we try and balance all of that out. We have played as far south at Virginia and north up to Boston and in between. We love outdoor music festivals, amphitheaters, casinos, and theaters like Delmarva Bike Week, Penny Pack Park, Sellersville theater, Scottish Rite Theater, Showcase Live in MA, Delaware Park Casino, Hollywood Casino, Wildwood Crest Concerts. In 2015, we played at the Burlington Amphitheater and La Costa in Sea Isle, New Jersey.

TCS: What are the most requested Heart songs at your shows?

KIO: The most requested Heart songs during our shows are:

  • ”Barracuda”
  • ”Crazy On You”
  • ”Alone”
  • ”Never”
  • ”What About Love”
  • ”Magic Man”


TCS: Has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart ever performed internationally? And, if you could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would that be and why?

KIO: No we have not performed internationally. We would though for the right situation and venue. There is a great festival in Akron, Ohio called Lock 3 that would be awesome, perhaps a cruise like Monsters of Rock (MOR) which our bass player who is also a front man/writer, Mark Evans just played MOR with his original band Heaven’s Edge. We love big stages, big crowds…anywhere where there are people who love Heart music and where the stage and sound are professionals. Why? Well it is an unbelievable high to play to a huge crowd….the energy is infectious and we would get to travel and see the world.

TCS: Of the songs that Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart plays from Heart’s extensive library which are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from Heart that you guys really love that is not included in the set currently? If yes, then why.

KIO” We love “Crazy On You” and “Rockin’ Heaven Down”. The song “Alone” is also great and very moving and powerful too. I don’t think that we picked up songs that we didn’t like. Then again, we love them all. Ha! I would love to do “Mistral Wind”. Very powerful, magical song we just have not had a chance to add it to the set yet. The great thing about this band is that we play these great songs that we love.

Kick_It_Out_A_Tribute_To_Heart

TCS: Individually, what’s your favorite Heart song of all time?

SH: For me it is “Crazy On You” from Dreamboat Annie.

SS: It is really hard to choose a favorite. It switches all the time. Right now, the song, “How Deep It Goes” from Dreamboat Annie plays in my head. Before it was “Sylvan Song” and “Dream of the Archer” both from Little Queen. I like the more obscure songs that show a lot of Heart.

JD: I really like Heart’s “Who Will You Run To” from Bad Animals

TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?

KIO: The toughest challenge is always with sound and mix. The outdoor shows can be challenging in that way as wind and weather can really affect how it all turns out. We try and go with the flow and do the best show we possibly can no matter the obstacles.

TCS: How do you market Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart songs, merchandise, and appearances?

KIO: To stay connected with our fans, we market our songs, merchandise, and appearances on:

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-Band-To-Heart-Stage

TCS: Has anyone in Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart met any of the members of Heart? And, how thrilled was the band when Heart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013?

KIO: We were thrilled of course! It’s about time they were recognized for their contribution to music as musicians and women! I (Sandy Hall) have met Ann and Nancy 3 times now. The first time was back in the 80’s when they came to Philadelphia on tour. I got to go back stage and meet them and hang for a while talking with Howard Leese. That was a really cool experience and a real spontaneous hang. I was so star stuck and shy and didn’t say very much to Ann and Nancy except “you are so great”. The last two times were recently during their organized VIP Meet and Greet thing before the show. During one of those two sessions both Susan and I met them together. They were nice.

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TCS: Besides Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart, if you could play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose and why?

SH: I would love to play/sing with Ann Wilson, Robert Plant, and John Lennon all were inspirational to me.

SS: Probably Jeff Beck. I love the feel of his playing.

JD: I would love to play to play a set with Tom Petty, Leon Russel, Joe Cocker, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden.

TCS: What’s the short and long-term future look like for Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart?

KIO: We just want to keep doing what we are doing which is having fun playing songs that we love with great band mates who are also family and friends. We would love to do more of the larger spring/summer venues where the people go crazy for the music!

TCS: What advice do you have for new tribute bands trying to get established?

KIO: Do it because you love and connect to the music. The money is secondary and won’t always be there. Get a good agent or person in the band that books you in the right venues. Don’t over saturate your audience locally. Be very selective about what venues you play.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Karen-Mansfield-Mesa-Promo

Singer-songwriter Karen Mansfield, long considered a mainstay of the legendary Asbury Park, New Jersey music scene, is best known for her enticing onstage presence and mesmerizing contralto vocal range.

Mansfield, who began her career as the frontperson in the 80’s all-girl punk band known as the Bleeding Knees, has been described as highly melodic and enchantingly haunting. Lyrically, she forms a strong bond with her audience by connecting through a range of deep emotions involving everyday love and relationship situations.

Over her career, Mansfield has recorded and performed with numerous national artists including, Jewel, Concrete Blonde, Whirling Dervishes, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), Erik Paparazzi (Cat Power), John Conte (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), John Eddie, Vance Gilbert, Johnny Thunders, and Willie Nile.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Mansfield and asking her a few questions about her musical inspiration and influences, her songwriting and recording process, her upcoming appearances, and her self-titled debut six song EP.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you in your journey?

I was very young when my maternal grandmother would come over and sing to us and give us each a song of our own to learn and perform for the next time she’s visit. Mine was “There is a Tavern in the Town”. I remember looking forward to singing it for her and learning new songs. Her brother had been a vaudeville performer so she taught us all the tunes she’d learned from him.

Karen-Mansfield

I remember at a family party standing on a picnic table in the backyard of my Aunt and Uncle’s home, singing a song a made up, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Tummy”. We later figured out that I must have been 3 or 4 at the time.

Then on my 7th birthday I saw the Carpenters in concert and that was a big deal. My mom was a fan, and we had all their albums and 45’s. I think having heard the music in my home and also on the radio, then experiencing it live — also feeling some kind of connection with Karen because we had the same first name, (you know little kids think like that) — the combo of it all struck me and I’ve never been the same since. Karen was wearing a beautiful gown singing her heart out, and then she ran off stage and changed into some slacks and came out, sat behind the drum set and rocked out! I was thrilled!! I knew what I wanted to do with my life since that moment. I begged Santa for a drum set every year and never stopped singing and making up songs.

I believe that my father’s Grundig stereo console from Germany was instrumental in my early musical development. I remember my parents showing me how to turn it on and use the turntable. I remember feeling the warmth and hearing the hum of the tubes, playing LP’s and singles, dancing around the living room, singing and acting out the words to every song. I loved it! Certainly my favorite pastime as a youngster.

We had a piano in our living room that I used to color on the keys with crayons. I remember trying to sound out familiar melodies. My parents didn’t play, but my dad knew enough to teach me, “Heart and Soul” and “Nickelodeon”. It was tough playing though, when everyone else wanted to watch TV.

Karen-Mansfield-Performing

Later when I was ten my dad gave me a miniature reel-to-reel recorder he hadn’t used in years. We went to Radio Shack and bought a cheap little mini microphone. He showed me how it worked and I fell in love with recording, making up characters and songs on the spot.

Another early influence that I feel steered me into music was our family parties. My mom came from a large family with 11 siblings, and when they’d all get together they’d spend a good portion of the night singing, and having a ball. The last song of the evening was always “Side By Side”. I can recall wanting to be a part of that kind of fun and comradery, and of course, all that singing.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Karen Mansfield, how would you describe your musical genre?

I don’t feel I have a genre other than rock. It’s eclectic, but if I had to I’d say Retro-Pop Rock, Roots, Adult Alternative Pop, Americana, Alternative Country, Singer Songwriter. People have said I sound like Janis Joplin, Emmylou Harris, Olivia Newton John, PJ Harvey, and Karen Carpenter. I guess one would have to listen to decide for one’s self I think. I’m not aiming at any specific genre except rock. I just want to make great music.


TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

Elvis! I remember staying up late to watch the comeback special. I was pretty young, but I do remember! I’m pretty sure he influenced “Rock ‘n’ Roll in my Tummy”.

I loved Dinah Shore, Hee Haw, Partridge Family, and the Osmond’s; honestly anything music drew me in. Since there were six of us Mansfield kids, I wondered why we weren’t in a band with a TV show!

In the late 70’s my brother ordered a bunch of records from K-Tel for $.99 each. One of the albums he received was called “British Gold”, a compilation of hits like “Bus Stop” by the Hollies, “The Letter” by the Box Tops, “World Without Love” Peter and Gordon, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, The Yardbirds, and more. I loved it. Since we didn’t have a ton of records I’d play that one and the Elvis greatest hits record and Linda Ronstadt over and over.

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We used to spend a lot of time at my Uncle Rocky and Aunt Cherie’s and he’d always be listening to the country station 1050 WHN. I started listening in my room on a little transistor radio under my pillow; so there is that country-based influence.

I was a pretty big Donny and Marie fan as a middle schooler. Then my tastes changed as I got into high school. I absolutely loved The Doors; definitely my favorite band of all-time. I was into B-52’s, Led Zeppelin, The Who, early Ozzy Osbourne, and Bruce Springsteen. I later got into Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your 2014 self-titled EP Karen Mansfield. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

My favorite part of making this record was working with the guys I chose for the project. Rob Tanico is just bursting with creative genius and loves music possibly more than anyone I’ve ever met. I knew I was in good hands with him as producer and musical director. We had a magical day at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch, NJ laying down live tracks for bass, drums, and guitar. Most tracks were done on the first or second take. I love that room and Joey DeMaeo is solid gold. I felt that having P.K. Lavengood on guitar, David Halpern on drums, and Rob on bass it was going to be a great studio experience and it certainly was. They’re all of course so familiar with each other, having worked together for so many years; P.K. and Dave playing with John Eddie and Rob and Dave with Mr. Reality and Highway Nine. The energy was great and I felt that everyone was equally excited for the project.

The only challenge I had was being patient waiting for the rough mixes. Rob put a lot into this project and played nearly everything that wasn’t laid down on that first day in the studio. I consider myself a pretty patient person but the excitement of completing this album proved to the contrary.


I had the best artists working on the photos and album artwork. I had such a great experience working with my art director Barbie, who just happens to now be my sister-in-law. I couldn’t be happier with Steve Greenwell’s job mixing it, and Turtle Tone with a fine mastering job. I enjoyed working with everyone at Disc Makers and CD Baby.

It was all very exciting and encouraging.  There was a bit of panic and juggling for me to make it all happen, but I’m very happy for the experience and can’t wait to do it again.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of that EP is the track called “I Know You Know,” so can you share with us the writing process and the meaning behind it?

Actually, this was one of those songs that writes itself and it the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. I’m not sure where the inspiration for this song came from but I remember it fell upon me while I was in the studio recording a record in the early 90’s. I guess I wanted to write about that electric intensity, that magnetic pull of attraction, and the waiting, knowing after the first kiss, etc., you might get that feeling back. Not like it was prior. So, you wait, in the excitement and the desire. You leave it up to other person to make the first move. Maybe you’re not sure they’re feeling what you are. It’s the buzz of sensory overdrive and the anticipation of that magic moment when you succumb to the inevitable.


TCS: Tell us about how rewarding it was to serve as the frontperson for the all-girl punk band Bleeding Knees and how it prepared you for your solo career?

I enjoyed my time thoroughly during the Bleeding Knees days. I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I had my fist gig booked before I even had enough songs for our set. I was shy and hid behind bangs that fell into my eyes. It was a great time of writing about whatever came to mind, what I thought was funny, or lame, and what would shock people. Honestly we were out of control. I barely knew how to tune my guitar. We were funny! People loved coming out and getting the joke! Checking out what obnoxious thing would we do next. The songs were funny, crude, silly and we had a blast. I recall someone after one of our shows at the Green Parrot in Neptune, NJ saying we reminded them of Pebbles and Bam Bam from The Flintstones but with cuss words. It was a lot of fun. The other members were still interested in coming up with more outrageous and raunchy material when I felt it was time for me to take things a bit more seriously as a songwriter.

I never wanted to perform solo and was waiting to come across players who’d want to back me up. One day my friend Alex Goetchius called asking me to open for his band, Piece of Wood, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. He encouraged me to play solo. I’d never turned down a show before and although I was petrified I did the show anyway. So, I feel fronting the Bleeding Knees taught me that I can get out there no matter what and connect with the audience whether it be with a band or by myself with an acoustic guitar. I guess I was ok at it since I ended up being nominated 9 times and winning 3 Asbury Park Music awards in the “Top Female Solo” category.

Karen-Mansfield-Bleeding-Knees

TCS: Can you share with us some details about your time performing with numerous artists such as Jewel, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), and Concrete Blonde just to name a few?

I opened for Jewel at the Saint in Asbury Park just about six months before her album went platinum and everybody knew who she was. She was not feeling well that night so she stayed in her van until her performance. Great voice, though she did a bit of yodeling, which was kinda different for Asbury Park. I was impressed.

My sister dragged me out to see Bobby Bandiera on a Wednesday night at Cheers in Long Branch circa ’89 or ’90. On his break we were introduced and immediately he asked, “ya wanna sing?”. This became a weekly occurrence, never rehearsed, always a ton of fun. He’d call me up to do “I Got You Babe”, “Love Potion #9”, “Dream Lover”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, and more. It was wild fun. Bobby is fantastic.

It was certainly the place to be on Wednesday nights. I think I stopped making the scene in ’96, around the time I had my daughter but I’ll always remember how he encouraged me and included me.

Shawn Pelton played with John Eddie and I’d known him from the local music scene and from playing with P.K.’s band Without Fear, also at Cheers. Then in ’92 or ’93 when I was making a record in Red Bank we called in Shawn to play on most of the 11 tracks. He’s the best!! The album has never been completed but one single entitled “Jessie” was released and is available still on ReverbNation. He’s such a phenomenal player and so amazing to work with!

Mikael Jorgensen and Erik Paparozzi were in a local early ’90’s band which I absolutely loved, called Lizard Music. I met them at an open mic at the Ink Well in West End and fell in love with them! I requested them on all the shows I did and we became great friends. We had a lot of laughs and we encouraged and believed in each other’s music. It was a sweet time!! Then when their bass player, Chris Guice, was in California playing bass for a kids show on Nickelodeon, “You Can’t Do That On Television”, Mikael, Erik, and I formed as “Karen’s Lizard” as per request by Brighton Bar promoter Jacko Monahan. We did a few shows mixing up the set with half my tunes and half Lizard Music tunes. The guys had such amazing harmonies and I just loved hearing my songs with their added magic.

During the early to mid-90’s I had many opportunities to open for national acts. One of the most exciting of those times was when I got the chance to open for Concrete Blonde during their Bloodletting tour. The show was at the Fast Lane is Asbury Park. The place was packed and the audience was wild, and super receptive to me and my acoustic guitar. Johnette Napolitano and the guys were awesome!!

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of your new EP entitled “Your Lies”?

The title says it all, “Your Lies”. I think it’s about the affect the lies have on the broken lover, the hopelessness of the situation when one is addicted to the lies of unhealthy love. I’ve found sometimes there’s a dream that underneath all the falsehood there might be a person of substance who could be capable of something real and good and pure. It’s a tremendously sad song.


TCS: Share with us your experience in playing at the Light of Day Festival in January of 2015?

My performance for Light of Day 2015 was at Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park. My band was Rob Tanico on bass, P.K. Lavengood on guitar, Billy Siegel on Keys and David Halpern on drums. We played for a half an hour and did mostly all the songs on the EP, plus a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Joleen”. It was one of the best shows we’ve done so far. It’s always such an honor to perform for Light of Day and to be a part of finding a cure for Parkinson’s and related diseases.

TCS: How thrilling was it for you when the Asbury Press wrote an article featuring you entitled “Jersey Shore Treasure Karen Mansfield Returns to Scene”?

Oh, it felt great! I’ve felt loved for a great many years now, having been a part of the scene for so long.

I took a long break to be with my daughter and try other career options. As my daughter grew up I felt I was being called back to my music. My return was certainly greeted with a warm welcome and I couldn’t be happier. I’m very grateful to be welcomed back to the music community with open arms. It’s like having a second family! Certainly blessed to have all the live and support I continue to receive!!

TCS: From your new EP, please describe for us the writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Just A Man”?

”Just a Man” came out of me talking to a friend about a guy I was hung up on, and her being sick of me going on and on describing all of his wonderful attributes. She finally looked and me and said, “he’s just a man!” Kinda like, get over it! Of course my response was, “yeah, but he does it to me”. Not all of them do so I thought it was worth putting into a song.

The song wrote itself. Rob came up with the early Rolling Stones feel for the recording. It’s one of my favorites to play live; and audiences connect with it too.

When someone “does it to you” it feels great, and that’s what this song is about.


TCS: After all these years of chasing your musical dreams, what do you feel keeps you motivated to continue recording and performing?

I am motivated by the desire to reach the listeners who connect with my writing and my performance. I don’t know that I’ve done that to the best of my ability yet, at least not on the scale that I believe I can. Also, I feel this is a calling and to turn around at this point would just not be acceptable. Most of all, I continue because of the love of music. I’m still that little three-year-old getting goosebumps from watching Elvis in that leather suit, teaching us all how it’s done. I’m blessed to feel what I do every time I make folks happy with my music.

Lastly, the most important reason is to teach my daughter to follow her dreams, to be true to herself no matter what anyone says. To find out what brings you joy and to do it with all her heart, soul, and strength. To dig deep inside, work hard, and never give up.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

My very first show was on ’85 or ’86, I with my friend Diana at a furniture gallery for a holiday event called “Festival of the Trees”. It was a silent auction for elaborately decorated Christmas trees. We played in front of a fancy staircase and had to move every 2 minutes when shoppers or staff wanted to come through. It was pretty awkward but we had fun.

I’ve played the 8×10 Club in Baltimore, hit my head on the ceiling trying to get on stage. Cool place though. We were there the day after Michelle Shocked.

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TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances?

I usually post my events on my Facebook Music/Band page. I also use Bandsintown, ReverbNation, and my website KarenMansfield.com. Additionally, I tweet on my Twitter account, post on Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest, and sometimes on LinkedIn.

To stay connected with Karen Mansfield, please visit the following:

Tee shirts are on their way. And, my CDs are for sale at all of my shows and are also available on the following:

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play either as a member of Bleeding Knees or as a solo performer? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

While in the Bleeding Knees I was content just gigging locally. I was still very shy and apprehensive in those days. Nowadays I’d like to travel to perform in cities like Nashville, Asheville, Austin, Philly, New York, where ever there’s a cool music scene, where ever I can meet my listeners. I’d like to perform in other countries as well. There are many venues I look forward to performing in! I can’t wait to play whatever venues the future holds for me.

As far as performing alongside other entertainers, I am open to whatever comes my way!

I’m looking forward to an upcoming trip to Mesa, AZ where I’ll be performing for the Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. It’s going to be a huge event with Matt Pinfield giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

I look forward to meeting the locals there and meeting many of the artists and industry professionals in town for the event.

Karen-Mansfield-Songwriter

TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

There isn’t a song that comes to mind that I wish I’d written. Though, there are amazing songs out there, that of course, when I hear them I wish I would write a song of equal intensity, sensitivity, depth of soul, and brilliance.

I’ve always thought that I’d love to make a record like Carol King’s Tapestry. It’s got everything and it’s wonderful from start to finish.

I guess if I had to pick one song I might go with “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)”, because I find it so inspiring.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

I love J.D. McPherson. And his tune “North Side Gal” changed my life.  I also love Lucinda Williams and all of her songs, especially her album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Karen Mansfield?

Short term is Mesa, AZ for the first ever Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. Then I am hopefully heading into the studio to start my next album. I’m hoping to play more music festivals, house concerts, and shows out of my hometown region.

Long term, I plan to keep making music, writing, recording and performing, and meeting great folks like you along the way.

Song List on Karen Mansfield (2014)

Karen-Mansfield-CD

  1. “I Know You Know”
  2. “No More Suffering”
  3. “Your Lies”
  4. “Just a Man”
  5. “Destiny”
  6. “Keep On (For the Sunny Days)”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Everything Falls: Modern Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Everything-falls-band

Everything Falls burst onto the Washington D.C. metro rock scene in early 2012, touring for their debut EP Fight From Within. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015, and Everything Falls is set to release their sophomore EP Through The Storm. The new album is a collection of songs that front man Aaron Linkous wrote while touring in 2012 and in the years after while the band was relocating from Washington D.C. to northern New Jersey.

Throughout 2011, Everything Falls was just getting things started. After bringing Mike Smith on board to play bass, the duo eventually ended up working with Producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Recording studio in Beltsville, MD. What was born there would be the band’s debut release, Fight From Within. It was released in November of 2011 and included their first mainstream hit, “Sorry To Say.” The video for “Sorry To Say” was featured on national media outlets such as Blank TV, Pure Grain Audio, The Cool TV, and Renegade Radio. In addition, Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Gold’s Gym, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line chose to promote the single. The song was also used by nationally televised and British-based professional wrestling program, UK Wrestling Experience. Other notable hits off of the album were the singles “Come On” and “Everything That You Wanted.”

In late 2012, Everything Falls continued their promotional tour for the EP, and ultimately landed an interview with The Real Radio Show in Long Island, NY. As the band gained momentum, new opportunities presented themselves, and Linkous eventually made the difficult decision to relocate the band to the New York City metro area.

In 2013, rebuilding of the band started. Kenny Sheldon, the new lead guitarist who was discovered at one of the many auditions held in the summer of 2013, quickly found his niche within Aaron’s songs. Unfortunately, it would be another two years before the band would be fully completed, with the lineup changing several times over. In early 2015, two additional band members were brought on board just before heading into the world-renowned Barber Shop Studios with Producer Brody Greif.

Comprised of Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan. Everything Falls is weathered, but not broken. “Everything Falls has accomplished a lot up to this point, but we still have so much room for growth,” said Linkous. “We’re hungry to break into the regional scene and to make our live show something that fans are lining up to see. I believe that our new EP was appropriately named. After everything that it’s taken to get back to this point, it definitely feels like we’ve been through a storm. Fortunately, that storm forged a new path for our sound and helped to solidify who we are as musicians. We’re extremely proud of our sophomore EP, and we believe the fans will agree that it was worth the wait.”

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan of Everything Falls and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their upcoming tour schedule, and their new EP Through The Storm.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Everything Falls?

Aaron Linkous: My wife, Mandy, and I share a love for hiking to waterfalls. As Mike Smith, a bassist and the first person I got to join the band with me back in 2010, and myself were toying around with many names I started to think about all of the cool waterfall names I’ve heard and seen over the years. So, I naturally just started putting different words in front of “falls” and I ended up with Everything Falls. It sounded catchy, so it stuck as our band name ever since.

Everything-Falls-Logo

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Everything Falls, how would you describe your musical genre?

AL: I would describe our sound as modern rock and maybe a bit of 90’s alternative. We’ve been compared to Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Breaking Benjamin, and a host of other bands, but we have a unique and fresh sound that sets us apart from all of those bands. The band originally started in Rockville, MD in 2010. We recorded our first EP Fight From Within throughout 2011 with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio in Beltsville, MD. We released that EP in December of 2011 and toured regionally throughout 2012.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the Everything Falls lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

AL: The Everything Falls band lineup consists of the following (shown below left to right):

  • Matt Regan – Drummer
  • Kenny Sheldon – Lead Guitarist & Backing Vocals
  • Aaron Linkous – Lead Vocalist & Rhythm Guitarist
  • Danny Rojo – Bassist & Backing Vocals (former bassist Amriel Kissner is shown in pic)

Everything-falls-theband

TCS: How long has this current lineup of Everything Falls been playing together and how did you all get started?

AL: This current lineup is fairly new. Danny just came on board about a month ago. We went into the studio with a different bassist (Amriel Kissner), but Amriel was not interested in touring. Matt came on board in January of this year. He came in as we were prepping for our newest EP Through The Storm. He is a long time friend of Kenny and we had been talking about possibly having him out to a practice to see if he would be a good fit for the position. After the first practice I was certain that he was the man for the job. And, Kenny has been with me almost two years now. I landed him in the first round of auditions that I held in July of 2013.

Initially, I thought that I was going to be able to pull things together rather quickly upon moving to New Jersey from Maryland. I’ve been in this situation a few times over my musical career with moves from Blountville to Nashville, TN; Nashville to Rockville, MD; and Rockville to Springfield, NJ, so I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to arrange everything. Unfortunately, after Kenny came on board things slowed down rather drastically. I had taken on a 3rd shift job and between it and needing sleep I just didn’t have the time necessary to run the band properly. That all changed after I decided to leave that job late last year and to make music my sole career. Since then the lineup has been finalized, we’ve recorded Through The Storm and shot a video for the lead off single “Let It Go (Enemy)”, and are now gearing up for regional touring in the very near future. It’s taken some time to pull everything back together, but I feel that we have a very solid lineup now.

Everything-falls-performing

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing, studio recording, and video production process behind the lead single “Let It Go (Enemy)” from Through The Storm?

I began writing “Let It Go (Enemy)” in mid-2012. I wanted a song with a little more power to it. Something that would truly rile a live crowd up. In the studio we stuck to that live feel. We didn’t spend time tweaking every little strum on the guitar or on the drums. It was the feeling of the song that we were after and I believe we achieved that driving beat that just calls out to all of the head bangers out there. We recorded bass and drums simultaneously together. Followed with myself cranking out the rhythm tracks. We followed it up with lead guitar and vocals. It’s polished, but not overly polished and you can still sense that original energy that I imagined the song would have from the moment I started writing it. The making of the video was much the same. We planned out an excellent storyboard, but some things we did tweak on the fly. It was a rather large shoot as I think the whole video has around 15 separate actors or musicians in it. Not enormous or anything, but a rather large undertaking for an indie band that’s trying to keep to a budget. Ultimately, it turned out extremely well and I believe the audience will enjoy it upon its release. No date has been firmly picked just yet, but we’re shooting for around three weeks after the album hits the market.

 

TCS: From a song writing, studio recording, and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the background surrounding the second single from Through The Storm entitled “Daylight Takes The Dawn”?

I wrote “Daylight Takes The Dawn” (DTTD) back in 2012. It was always meant to be that song about an artist on the road missing his family. I pictured the cold weather and the long days of being away from the people that I love the most. Hopefully, most people will say that I sold that idea.

The recording of DTTD took place at Barbershop Studios in Hopatcong, New Jersey. You can find video of us actually tracking the song on our Facebook page. Quite a funny video! We had a blast though and tried to really sink our teeth into this song. It’s definitely a stand out track from our sophomore CD Through The Storm.

The video for DTTD was filmed, directed, and edited by the TV/Film department at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. The video was filmed on location at DeSales along with home scenes shot at mine and my wife’s current Townhouse in NJ. We simply stuck to the storyline conveyed in the song and tried our best to make it as realistic as possible for the audience. The weather even helped out nicely here in NJ by dropping some snow on the ground just in time for the filming. We had a wonderful team assigned to the project and we couldn’t be any prouder of this video. Everyone should check it out if they haven’t already! Also, share it like crazy on your social platforms!!! We truly need everyone’s support.

 

TCS: Aaron at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?

AL: I always sang when I was younger. If I didn’t have the lyrics to a song, then I’d sit down with a piece of paper and listen to the song over and over until I had all the lyrics. It was a hobby of mine I guess, but it helped me later on when I started writing songs. I picked up the guitar at the age of 12. My best friend at the time played guitar. When I would go to his house he was always playing, so it became kind of boring just watching him play and I figured I should probably learn to play too. I played in a high school band. We played around my hometown at middle school dances, local festivals, we even played a wedding reception once. I was probably 18 though when I realized that music was something that I was very passionate about and that I wanted to pursue. From there I put myself through college at MTSU where I majored in the recording industry program. MTSU is one of the top recording programs in the country. I believe it was something like only 52 candidates made it into the program every semester. So, you started out with massive classes and by the time you were at the end of the program there might have been 15 people per class. I specifically put myself through that program because I wanted a career in music.


TCS: As a band what famous musicians do each of you admire and how have they influenced you both individually and collectively?

AL: I’m definitely a huge fan of 90’s music. The first rock band I really listened to was Live. From there I listened to Green Day, Bush, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Metallica and so many others that I’d be naming them all day. Once I was in high school I started listening to a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was actually nicknamed “Little Fogerty” because a lot of my fellow classmates thought I sounded just like John Fogerty. I was asked by teachers and students to sing in the middle of class and even in the middle of lunch one day. One of my football coaches was talking to another teacher about my singing and my coach said, “go ahead and sing for him.” I was a little hesitant, but did it anyways. The whole lunch room went silent and they just started listening to me sing. That was pretty cool and I think to this day that CCR and Fogerty has made my voice what it is. From there, I listened to bands like Lifehouse, Three Doors Down, Three Days Grace, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Matchbox 20, and the list goes on. Every one of these bands taught me something about songwriting or writing lyrics with great imagery. I didn’t just listen to these albums I studied them.

Kenny Sheldon: When I first started playing guitar, I was heavily influenced by Live, and Metallica. Over the years my musical tastes have evolved, and I have Frank Zappa to thank (indirectly) for two of my essential developmental influences on guitar: Trey Anastasio (Phish), and John Petrucci (Dream Theater)…both of whom regard Zappa as a major influence of theirs.

Danny Rojo: Jaco Pastorius as he inspired me to play bass. I was playing guitar and clarinet, and the first moment I heard Pastorius playing bass, I decided the bass would be my signature instrument for the rest of my life, because of his sound, energy, and performance. Equally, I would say Eddie Van Halen because as a musician, I always admired innovation. I believe he’s the most innovative rock musician. He discovered sounds on the guitar that no one ever knew how to make before.

Matt Regan: For me, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), David Silveria (Korn), Chad Sexton (311), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden), Jeremy Taggart (Our Lady Peace), and Jose Pasillas (Incubus). I grew up playing along to all of these drummers and they’ve helped influence much of what I play today. Portnoy introduced me to drumming with a double bass drum pedal.

TCS: Can you describe for us the Everything Falls song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sorry to Say” which appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

AL: I wrote the song “Sorry To Say” when I was 18. It’s a song that I’ve played and recorded with my band Linkous in Nashville and with Everything Falls. So, this song has been a standard song for me for almost 14 years now. I recorded the song with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio. On the track I played rhythm guitar, bass, and sang lead vocals and harmonies.

The video production was done by Taylor Morden and Joe Mach. They also did all of the set design. The storyline was created by my wife Mandy Linkous. We hired 3 individuals to be a part of the video. Nic Detorie played the lead actor along with our female lead Brittany Martz. Tara Brown was our second female actress. We shot the video over two days at a warehouse in Falls Church, VA. It was actually where Mike Smith and I worked. Our boss suggested and allowed us to use the space, which was a tremendous help. Taylor and Joe did an outstanding job with the production and I’ve been very proud to show that video to anybody and everybody that I can.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Everything Falls use?

AL: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier through a Marshall 2 x12 cabinet. I have three guitars: White-Gibson SG, Black-Gibson Les Paul Studio, and a Red-PRS SE Singlecut.

KS: Guitars: PRS Custom 22 Artist Series, Jackson RR3 Rhoads V (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Epiphone Les Paul Standard (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Ibanez AF75 hollowbody. Amps: Hughes & Kettner (head), Marshall (head), Crate (cab), Orange (cab). Effects: MXR, BOSS, Ibanez, and BBE pedals.

DR: Custom-made Warwick Streamer Deluxe 5-string, a Fender Jazz vintage 1978 bass and a fretless Fender Precision 1976 bass. I use a Mark Bass head and cabinets (endorsed), EBS pedals (endorsed) and Audix microphones (endorsed).

MR: 5 piece Pearl Export Pro series with a Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive double bass pedal and Pearl Eliminator high hat. Cymbals are a mix of Sabian AAX Omni ride, O-Zone splash, and Omni crash. Sabian HHX china, crash, Paiste splash. Sabian high hats and a Sabian Portnoy Mini Max Stax splash and China kang.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs originally off of the EP Fight From Within is the track called “Everything That You Wanted,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

AL: I wrote the song “Everything That You Wanted” around 2006 while living in Nashville. I was in college at the time and had been married for a little over a year to my wife. I think at that time I just felt like there was nothing that could stop me from accomplishing what I wanted in this world. So many times people had told me that it’s just a dream and that you’ll never be able to amount to anything in the industry. Or, that you’re crazy for even trying to do this. To be told that you’re not good enough or the many discouraging things people say. Even my own thoughts were sometimes the enemy because I would start to listen to what people had said. This was my answer back to all that negativity and I think it resonates with a lot of people.


TCS: What do you think separates Everything Falls from similar bands and keeps you guys motivated to continue as a group?

AL: From what most of our fans have said, it’s our songwriting. They have told us that they instantly realized this wasn’t just another garage band. The last EP sonically sounded amazing as well thanks to Scott Robinson. That has definitely catapulted us out there.

I’ve approached this band kind of like a solo artist and I’ve built this band around my songs and my voice. It was necessary for me to set things up that way because I have had to move several times and may still have to in the future due to my wife’s job. It’s been a blessing in disguise though because this design has allowed me to grow my sound and given me flexibility to maneuver the many pitfalls that you run into in this industry.

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing and recording background with the song “Come On” which also appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

I wrote “Come On” in 2008 I believe. I wanted to get a bit of a party song going, so I started out with the riff you hear in the beginning of the song. I started mumbling some words and “Come On” just naturally fell into place. Once I had the chorus I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the verses, so I imagined a bit of a bar scene. When I finished it was basically a story about a woman every guy was trying to hit on, but she only had eyes for me. Producer Scott Robinson also recorded “Come On” at Sonic Sweets. It featured Mike Smith on bass, Evan Louis on lead guitar, and Jeff Miklaszewski on drums.


TCS: In what ways does Everything Falls market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

Our email newsletters are our number one way to keep up with our fans. You can sign up by going to our ReverbNation page or through the widget on the home page of our website. There are monthly giveaways and sales that you will not hear about elsewhere. Additionally, we have an online store our fans can access through our website http://www.everythingfallsband.com.

To stay connected with Everything Falls, please visit the following:

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your sophomore EP entitled Through The Storm. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

AL: The tracking for the album was done in February of this year at the beautiful Barber Shop Studios in Hopatcong, NJ (Breaking Benjamin, Chad Smith, Warren Hayes, The Pretty Reckless, and a host of other greats have all recorded there). We spent three days there with producer Brody Greif. The studio was right on lake Hopatcong and at the time the lake was completely frozen over with snow all around it and it was a gorgeous view to take in every morning before we started tracking.

Honestly, I think everyone in the band has a different idea of what was the best part of production. Personally, my favorite is always tracking vocals. It’s that point when I get to hear everything finally coming together. One of the most challenging aspects that we had to deal with was maneuvering around the weather. I believe it snowed two out of three days that we were there. I think the second morning we showed up and the temperature was just above single digits. Not the best weather to load in a bunch of gear. Once we were at the studio we were working for 12-13 hours solid. In the end, everything turned out very well though and I strongly believe the fans are going to be thrilled with the new EP. The staff and interns were all very helpful and did an amazing job at Barber Shop. The studio manager Ryan Barber was a pleasure to work with as well.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that Everything Falls has always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

AL: Madison Square Garden in New York, but I’d also love to play at The Ryman Theatre and Riverfront Park in Nashville, TN. I would love to play alongside bands like Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Metallica, Three Doors Down, and Shinedown.

KS: In New York, I would love to perform at Radio City Music Hall or the Beacon Theatre. In Boston, I would love to play at the Orpheum Theatre or the House of Blues. However, the venue I would most like to play, which I consider to be the Holy Grail for all musicians who live, or have lived in Boston is Fenway Park. I’ve seen Paul McCartney, Phish, and Dave Matthews Band there. Every show there had an amazing vibe, and because I played baseball from T-Ball to high school, it had another intangible layer of sentimentality for me. So, I would most like to play a show at Fenway Park, opening (if not co-headlining) for The Dropkick Murphys. The energy in that place, for that band, in Boston…it must be absolutely bonkers! Out of control insanity that I would love for us to be a part of!

DR: For me, it would have to be either Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. And, I would love to be up on that stage with Dave Grohl, Lzzy Hale, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder.

MR: Alongside Rage Against The Machine at Woodstock.


TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

AL: That’s a tough question! I can think of a ton of great songs that I wish I had penned and performed. I would have to say “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. That’s hands down one of the most beautiful songs ever written in my opinion.

KS: I find myself saying “Bohemian Rhapsody” whenever I’m asked this particular question. I mean, how can you not wish you wrote the greatest song in rock and roll history? As for performing it, even though Queen didn’t play the middle section, I’ve always wanted to perform the song in its entirety!

DR: Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil”.

MR: Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Everything Falls?

AL: Short-term: We release our new EP. The leadoff single for the EP will be “Let It Go (Enemy)” and the video will be out shortly after the release of the album. We’re also in rehearsals right now to gear up for touring (no dates announced yet).

Long-Term: We hope to put out at least four singles from this EP all with their own video. We also intend to be back in the studio around the first of next year to start working on another EP.

Booking Everything Falls

For booking information, please contact Aaron Linkous via email at everythingfallsband@gmail.com.

Song List on Through the Storm (2015)

Everything-Falls-Through-The-Storm

  1. “Let It Go (Enemy)”
  2. “This Time”
  3. “Burn”
  4. “Breaking Free”
  5. “Daylight Takes the Dawn”

Song List on Fight From Within (2011)

Everything-Falls-Fight-From Within

  1. “Sorry To Say”
  2. “Come On”
  3. “Everything That You Wanted”
  4. “Understand”
  5. “Dying Day”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Ages Apart: Alternative Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ages-Apart

In 2006, Ages Apart came together to write and produce music that they felt people needed to hear. They wanted to impact and change a culture held captive by stagnant radio recycled pop sounds and bring to the world music with substance and depth, where not all band’s sound and look the same.

With that, Ages Apart balanced beauty and aggression on their critically acclaimed 2009 debut release Can You Hear Me. The album is packed full of singles that scream the whispered fears and guilty secrets of a disenfranchised generation. Guided by veteran producer Travis Wyrick, who has worked with P.O.D, 10 Years, and Pillar, the band achieved a sound both daring and familiar, at times introspective and at others furiously emotional.

Over the years Ages Apart has been together, they have toured through over 20 states and gained the attention of the industry. Black and White magazine calls them “Timeless”. Timothy Toutges of Ed Jones Productions in Nashville raves “Ages Apart is a world class band that will go all the way! This is what Rock & Roll dreams are made of”.

Now, Ages Apart returns in 2015 with their widely anticipated sophomore release S.T.A.T.I.C. — an intense and multidimensional narrative of a broken society. With words of truth, meaning, and inspiration in times of need for a disenchanted world, S.T.A.T.I.C. asks you to See Through All The Intelligent Chaos.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Webb, Will Bradley, and Chris Srygley of Ages Apart and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their summer tour with Hinder, and their new CD S.T.A.T.I.C.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Ages Apart lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

Ages Apart: The Ages Apart lineup consists of the following:

  • Cody Webb – Lead Singer & Guitarist
  • Will Bradley – Bassist
  • Chris Srygley – Drummer

Ages-Apart-Band

TCS: How did you come up with the band name Ages Apart and is there any specific meaning behind it?

Chris Srygley: The name Ages Apart came about because the original lineup varied in age, and came from different backgrounds musically and personally.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Ages Apart, how would you describe your musical genre?

Will Bradley: Ages Apart is an Alternative Rock band. Fans mostly compare us to bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown.


TCS: How long has this current lineup of Ages Apart been playing together and how did you all get started?

Cody Webb: The current lineup has been together since 2011. I started the concept back in 2006 and Chris and I formed Ages Apart shortly thereafter in 2007. After an exhaustive search for a bassist, Marcus Chapman came in and filled the position. Marcus had to step down from his position in 2009 because of health issues. From 2009-2010 we had fill-ins tour with us until Will came on-board at the beginning of 2011. Will had been a fan of the band for years and was familiar with the material. He quickly became a permanent member of Ages Apart.

TCS: Cody, at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician? And, what famous musicians do you admire and how have they influenced you?

CW: I knew from the earliest that I can remember that I was going to be a part of the music world. I started beating on guitars before I could crawl and started writing songs around 7 years old. I have many influences in music but no one person, artist, or band really. My biggest influence is life.


TCS: Can you describe for us the Ages Apart song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Last Time” which appeared on the debut album Can You Hear Me?

CW: “Last Time” was written like most of our songs. I’ll come up with lyrics and vocal melodies and cut demos and start pre-production. After I have the arrangements set, we start studio production where everyone tracks their parts individually until we get the sound exactly how we want it.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Ages Apart use?

CW: I use Gibson and Taylor guitars, Marshall amps, TC Electronic effects, Lucid Audio Project and Spectraflex cables, SIT strings, Shure, and Line 6 mics. Will uses Fender basses, Acoustic brand amps, Lucid Audio Project cables, SansAmp effects/driver/DI, and Line 6 wireless systems. Chris uses Mapex drums, Vater sticks, Shure, Audix, and Sennheiser mics, Lucid Audio Project cables, and Zildjian cymbals.

The band is sponsored by and proudly uses Venue Magic for stage production and sound effects, Lucid Audio Project cables, Effect Audio IEM cables, CLS Road Cases, and Fishman pickups in our acoustic guitars.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Can You Hear Me is the track called “I Believed,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

CW: Everyone has their own interpretation and meaning of “I Believed” so I don’t want to take away from anyone’s personal experience of the song. To answer your question though, it’s essentially about putting your entire trust in someone, giving your all to them, to later find out that the person and relationship isn’t what you thought it was at all.


TCS: What do you think separates Ages Apart from similar bands and keeps you guys motivated to continue as a group?

CW: Our live show for one. We work hard to give the fans a killer show experience leaving them with something to remember for the rest of their lives. We aim to not just deliver the music, but to make a connection with everyone that we can. Another thing that I think makes Ages Apart unique is that the sounds you hear on our records are real. We don’t use fake/replaced drums, auto-tune, or anything like that. What you hear is what was played.

TCS: Can you describe for us the background behind the song “How Long” which appears on your widely anticipated sophomore release entitled S.T.A.T.I.C.?

CW: “How Long” is about the loss of self-respect which results in a loss of respect for others and other things. It’s about the amount of attention we put towards things of little to no value instead of focusing on helping each other and working together to make the world a better place. It’s about the lack of appreciation and respect for those here before us that worked extremely hard and died so we can enjoy everything we take for granted today.


TCS: So, what does S.T.A.T.I.C. stand for and how did you decide on it for the album name?

CW: S.T.A.T.I.C. stands for See Through All The Intelligent Chaos. I came up with the title while working on final lyrics for the record. The message of the record is ultimately about less division and coming together as a human race.

TCS: From an artistic perspective, what was your favorite part in the making of S.T.A.T.I.C. and what is your favorite song off of the album?

CW: Our favorite part of making S.T.A.T.I.C. is that we got to record it exactly how we wanted. This time around, we had no outside influence. It’s really hard for me to nail down a favorite song. I love all of them and they all have different personalities.

TCS: In what ways does Ages Apart market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

CW: Although social media is a huge part of our outreach, we like to personally meet our fans. Our website is the hub of information and communication for us. We run our social media page so that’s where people can chat with us directly. Our merchandise is distributed through many stores throughout the world and that continues to grow daily.

To stay connected with Ages Apart, please visit the following:

Ages-Apart-The-Band

TCS: Share with us how excited you guys are to be touring with Hinder this summer and tell us how you landed the gig?

CW: We were very excited to have been on the road with Hinder this summer. It was a blast and those guys are good people. We’ve made a lot of new friends on this tour and are very thankful and proud to have been invited.

TCS: Is there a particular venue or festival that Ages Apart has always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

CW: We’d like to play Red Rocks in Colorado and would love to share the stage with Foo Fighters.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Ages Apart?

CW: We’ll continue touring in support of our new album S.T.A.T.I.C. and are constantly writing new material for the next record. Everyone checking out this interview, I invite you to grab a copy of our new album from your favorite retailer and come see a show.

Song List on S.T.A.T.I.C. (2015)

Ages-Apart-STATIC

  1. Civil War
  2. Wake Up
  3. How Long
  4. Victim
  5. Could It Be
  6. I’m Right Here
  7. Broken Home
  8. Where Do We Go
  9. This Is Goodbye
  10. Fight

Song List on Can Your Hear Me (2009)

Ages Apart - Can You Hear Me

  1. Intro
  2. Last Time
  3. Taking Me Down
  4. I Believed
  5. Letting Go
  6. My Own Disaster
  7. Torn
  8. Lost
  9. Burden
  10. Let Someone In

Booking Ages Apart

For booking information, please contact David Adkins at 503-983-3949 or via email at dadkins@integritymusicmanagement.com.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Derek Crider: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Derek Crider

Derek Crider was born and raised in what he describes as the “backwoods” of southern New Jersey. While growing up Derek was introduced to a variety of musical genres. His mother listened to Elvis, Motown, and the oldies. His father exposed him to a wider range of artists including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ronnie Milsap, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard.

In high school Derek listened primarily to 80s rock along with Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses, and country legend Garth Brooks. However, his biggest influence in country music is Toby Keith. Crider loves that Keith records great music, lots of tongue-in-cheek stuff, and doesn’t worry about what people think about him. Like Keith, Crider wants to bring something different to country music. He simply wants to hit the stage, play his music, and share his story with his fans.

With his new EP Lost & Found, Derek combines his childhood influences in southern rock with country. Derek speeds it up on tracks like “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” “Whiskey Burns,” and “Heart Hits the Ground,” he slows it down on “Sweet Emma” and “Something’s Lost,” and he makes it all right to love his brand and style of country music. If he isn’t already, Derek should be on your list as one of the top upcoming artists to watch in 2015 and 2016.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Crider and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his love of songwriting and performing, his life as a career musician, his recent performance with Bret Michaels, and his latest EP Lost & Found.

Q&A Session

TCS: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

I was around the age of 12 or 13, when I became serious about playing music. My parents listened to a lot of different types of music ranging from Motown to Country when I was growing up, however, I was always a fan of the song more than a particular artist. Some of my early musical influences include Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Derek Crider, how would you describe your musical genre?

I guess I would classify my music as Modern Country Rock. It combines elements of country, rock, and soul. I grew up in the backwoods of Southern New Jersey, and I would spend my summers in Virginia with my grandparents. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to visit with them. The more I experienced, the more I had to write about.

Derek-Crider-Singer-Songwriter

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?

As mentioned before, some of my early musical influences include artists like Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard. All of these artists and bands created great timeless songs and exhibited tremendous showmanship! I am constantly learning new things and being influenced by the places I go and the music I hear.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your EP entitled Lost & Found. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

I’ve always been a huge fan of the song and songwriting process. In my songs, I like telling a story. That’s why I’m a big fan of Country music. It really allows you to sing about anything and doesn’t put a limit on your lyrical content like other genres of music do. For this EP, I wrote close to 50 songs, we recorded about 13, and I hand-picked the six that appear on Lost & Found. I really had a blast creating the record.

 

TCS: Can you share with us some details about your Lost & Found CD release party held at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA?

It was a short performance for friends and family only, we did it on a Tuesday night due to everyone’s schedule, Parx Casino was gracious enough to open up the 360 club for us on a night when it usually isn’t open. I hand-picked all the musicians for the gig, and the songs went over great live. We played the entire Lost & Found record along with a few unreleased songs and some covers too. It was a great night!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Lost & Found is the track called “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

It’s really about having your first crush on a girl, hooking up, and hanging out as Toby Keith would say. LOL. The video script and concept was written and directed by Mike Greenberg. We actually met in Nashville, TN while standing in line to get BBQ at about 1 in the morning down on Broadway.

 

TCS: Is there a specific message you want your songs to convey to your fans?

The message is simple. Life is short live for today, because you never know what tomorrow might bring. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Don’t be worried about posting it to Facebook.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of the EP entitled “Whiskey Burns”?

“Whiskey Burns” was written in about 5 minutes up at our studio in Germantown, Pennsylvania. I first performed the song live in Nashville in October of 2014. The song deals with heartache and the realization that the relationship is truly over, but you’re not exactly sure how to get out of the situation.

 

TCS: How thrilling was it for you to have recently performed with Bret Michaels, the lead singer from Poison, at the Levoy Theatre?

I first met Bret back in 1999 while he was on tour with Poison through a friend. We went to a lot of his gigs, and I got to get to know him a bit. I even got to sing the KISS classic “Rock N Roll All Night” on stage with them back in 2000 down in Delaware. Bret is a very personable person and really takes the time out to talk to people and meet them. I opened for Country singer Tracy Lawrence at the Levoy Theatre back in June, and they asked me to come back to open for Bret. All local openers must be approved by the headliner, and Bret gave me the green light to open. It was funny cause as soon as he walked in the theatre for sound check he started bringing up stuff that I had forgotten about. He mentioned some of the past shows I had been to, pretty amazing stuff considering how many people he meets and shows he does every year.

During his performance that night, he even asked me to come on stage and do a song with him. I suggested “Sweet Home Alabama” which he covers during his set, then he was like why don’t you close the show with me and do “Nothing But A Good Time.” There’s not too many headliners that would ask you to come up on stage and close the show with them. I thought that was very cool of him. The show was great, everyone had a blast. Bret is an amazing human being, and one of the coolest cats I’ve ever got to hang with. I am looking forward to playing at the Levoy Theatre in Millville NJ again soon. It’s an amazing venue!

TCS: Describe for us the song writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Heart Hits The Ground”?

“Heart Hits The Ground” was a song that I had floating around for a while, I cut it a few years back with another producer and was very unhappy with the final mix, so I shelved it. When I started doing this record, I knew I had to re-cut the track my way. I think my producer Andrew Owens was very skeptical about the song initially, but he did an amazing job putting the song together. I think it’s one of the best songs on the EP.

 

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

Back in the day, we played a couple of strip clubs. Needless to say, those gigs were always very interesting.

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

Truly, the best way to find out information about Derek Crider, upcoming appearances, and merchandise is by visiting my website at derekcrider.com.

Additionally, if you want to stay connected on social platforms, please visit the following:

Derek Crider Facebook
Derek Crider Google +
Derek Crider Instagram
Derek Crider Twitter
Derek Crider YouTube

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

I don’t really have any particular venues in mind, I would just like to get on the road and play in as many venues as I can. As far as performers go, there’s so many. I would love to jam with The Rolling Stones, Brian May of Queen, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Bruce Spingsteen, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, gosh there are literally so many.

 

TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Edwin McCain, an amazing songwriter and very under the radar, has so many great songs. One of my favorites from him is a track called “Gramercy Park Hotel.” Another artist that I really love is Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song is a great album by him.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Derek Crider?

I have a ton of gigs booked now through the end of the year. We’re also planning another EP release in the Fall/Winter. Additionally, we want to cut a few more music videos, possibly for “Whiskey Burns” and “Friday Night Lights.” I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing some cool original music for the people that want to hear it!

Song List on Lost & Found (2015)

derek-crider-lost-and-found

  1. Girl Walks a Country Mile
  2. Friday Night Lights
  3. Whiskey Burns
  4. Sweet Emma
  5. Heart Hits the Ground
  6. Something’s Lost

Book Derek Crider

If you are interested in booking Derek Crider, please visit his website or email him at derekcridermusic@gmail.com.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Dawn Botti: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Dawn-Botti-New_Day_Dawn

New Day Dawn is an American rock band whose music is “anthemic…with big, bold choruses.” This is due, in part, to the band’s recent work with platinum-selling songwriter & guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down), and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on their EP release entitled Rise Above This. But this is mostly due to front lady, Dawn Botti’s belief of doing “whatever it takes” to follow one’s dreams.

Over the years, Dawn has successfully juggled a career in law with her musical passion; however, sometimes certain people haven’t been entirely supportive of her jourmey. Dawn recalls one particular boss who asked her to quit music. “My boss thought I’d never be taken seriously as a corporate executive if I was also in a band, but I just don’t believe that people are that closed minded. I have many passions and talents. Law is one of them and so is music! And in fact, I believe that I’m a better executive because of my creative side, and a better musician because of my business side!”

New Day Dawn isn’t Dawn’s first attempt at rock success either. Her previous band, Slushpuppy, received early airplay from Matt Pinfield on WXRK 92.3FM, NYC’s K-Rock, but broke up in 2003. Determined to never quit, Dawn started New Day Dawn which released their first full length album entitled The Company We Keep in 2008.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Botti and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her time in the band Slushpuppy, her life as a career musician, her work with Chris Henderson and John Moyer, and her latest EP Rise Above This.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Dawn Botti: Being a musician isn’t something that I “aspired” to be when I grew up, it was just something that I was, something that I am… just like being a woman. But I guess it was about at age 12 or 13 that I thought about wanting to make a living as a musician and specifically in the genre of rock. I think music itself inspired me… I loved to sing and play the piano… I loved the idea that I could create my own music and write my own songs… I discovered that when I was about 10 years old and that opened a whole new world up to me.

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TCS: For readers of The Creative Spotlight, who have never heard of your band New Dawn Day, can you please introduce us to the lineup and describe for us your musical genre?

DB: New Dawn Day is a quartet featuring two guitars, bass, and drums. We play guitar-driven rock. We are melodic alternative hard rock along the lines of bands such as Shinedown, Otherwise, and 3 Doors Down, but with a female lead voice. Because of the female voice we are more often compared to other female fronted rock bands like Halestorm or The Pretty Reckless.

The band is comprised of:

  • Dawn Botti (Lead Vocal / Guitar)
  • Gary Szczecina (Drummer / Backing Vocals)
  • PJ Angeloni (Lead Guitar)
  • Elo Hernandez (Bass Guitar)

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands are among your early influences and how do you think they shaped your music style and song writing?

DB: I grew up in New Jersey and while I wasn’t more than 60 miles from Manhattan, I lived in a pretty rural community – as such I had no idea about local clubs or independent music – I only listened to whatever was on Top 40 radio or what my parents listened to and they were huge fans of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, the Moody Blues, and bands like Supertramp! Luckily Top 40 radio was filled with great rock back then like The Police, Led Zeppelin and female trail blazers like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Heart, and even Madonna. I think they helped shape my music because I was always a “melody” junkie. I am a sucker for a great catchy “hook”. I strive to have that in my songs and also to have big soaring choruses.

Dawn-Botti-New_Day_Dawn

TCS: In what ways did your first attempt at rock success with the band Slushpuppy help prepare you for New Dawn Day from a singer/songwriter and musical perspective?

DB: In a lot of ways New Day Dawn just took over where Slushpuppy left off. In both bands I was a major part of the song writing. In Slushpuppy, I co-wrote with our guitar player and I sometimes miss those collaborations – but I learned a lot from him and he had an entirely different style of influences (bands like RadioHead, Catherine Wheel, and Portishead) which helped expand my own style. Also with Slushpuppy we often played with bands that were “heavier” than us in terms of musical style – that was intimidating – especially because I was also a woman who felt like she was being sized up against all these bands made up only of guys. We always strived to be “heavier” to help bridge that gap. I think with New Day Dawn, I am now older and wiser and with that has come more confidence, and now I just play the type of music I like. Sometimes the songs comes out heavy….but sometimes they are more “pop” in their melody or style and I no longer feel the need to apologize for that!


TCS: How thrilling was it for New Dawn Day to have performed at a number of major music festivals including South By Southwest and the Millennium Music Conference?

DB: The festivals are always fun. First, you get to go expose your music to an entirely new audience in a new area like Texas! But secondly because you get an opportunity to hang out and listen all these other amazing bands. I am CONSTANTLY amazed at the number of really really talented musicians out there. Seriously, the world has a bunch of jokes about how there are two many lawyers in the world – in reality I think there are too many talented musicians in the world and not enough “ears” to go around to hear all of them. I guess that is why I am always so so so thankful when we make new fans. I recognize that every person has an almost infinite amount of choices out there in terms of music so I am always so honored and thankful when someone choses to spend their time and hard earned money on mine!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite New Dawn Day songs off of your 2013 EP release entitled Rise Above This is the track called “You Are My Everything” so can you share with us the meaning behind it as well as the music video?

DB: I wrote “You Are My Everything” for my husband (and drummer), Gary. We have been married for over 20 years (yes, you read that right!). We started dating when I was 15 years old, and were high school sweethearts. Gary has always been my biggest supporter. It’s truly one of those “wind beneath my wings” type of stories. I always gravitate to the spotlight and Gary has been content to stay in the shadows to a certain degree…..poor guy even sits physically behind me during our shows (since he is on the drums) and often times I end up “blocking” him in photos when people take pictures of the band on stage. Anyway, he so deserved this song. He truly is my everything and I don’t think I ever tell him enough.


As for the music video – I wanted a video that told the “age old” story of “boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get married, have kids, etc…” but I didn’t want it told in a way that seemed obvious or trite. We decided to tell the story using only feet (and no faces) to represent the fact that this is a universal story of many couples and it doesn’t matter what “face” you put on the couple – doesn’t matter race, gender, etc. This could be ANY couple. Second, we wanted to convey that mature love is so much more than just romance and sex. True love has to endure the doldrums of the everyday chores, and the stress of just living life. There will be fights – over money, over taking care of children, maybe more horrendous things like addiction, infidelity, life-threatening illnesses, taking care of elderly or dying parents. This is what real life is about and this is what true love can endure, but it’s not easy and certainly not all unicorns and rainbows.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that New Dawn Day has played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

DB: I can’t really think of an “unusual” place … but certainly the circumstances around a performance will effect the performance. We once played in Maryland where we got to play a song that I wrote for a dear friend / fan of ours. She is struggling with cancer and the song is called “Rise”. The lyrics are very personal and taken from all of her facebook posts from the past year. So to be able to perform it for her in person and see the look on her face was quite an honor and definitely puts you in a special mind set where you feel like the music has taken on a life of its own and is truly transcending.

TCS: Describe for us what it was like working with platinum-selling songwriter/guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down) on “Lay Your Head” and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on Rise Above This.

DB: It was truly amazing and eye opening to work with both Chris and John. They have each achieved so much success in the music industry and so I had great respect for both of them just going into the project. And having each of them interested and excited to work with me on my songs and with the band was also a great honor and in many ways made me feel like I had achieved something really special because musicians / songwriters that I had always looked up to now wanted to work with me. But the best part was once I got over my initial nerves and started to get to know each of them better…the celebrity part fell away and then it was just “chris and dawn” or “john and dawn” as friends and fellow musicians working on some music together and that is when the magic started to really happen with each of them. Chris and John have very different styles and different strengths as producers, but what they both share is an extremely strong work ethic and a total immersive passion for creating music.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does New Dawn Day use?

DB: My go-to guitar is my Schechter Temptest. It’s very reliable and sounds and looks great. I have other more expensive guitars but prefer my Schechter. Gary plays a DW drum set. Elo loves his B.C. Rich bass. PJ plays a bunch of different guitars, but mostly his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster through his VOX. We don’t use samples or computer tracks, nothing fancy

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite track off of Rise Above This called “Whatever It Takes”?

DB: “Whatever It Takes” is really a song about “searching for the deeper meaning of life” – It’s about recognizing that we are each here for a purpose and in truly believing that we are so much more than our lives here on earth and that we need to be willing to do “Whatever It Takes” to live a life with purpose….and when you reach that point that you realize that you are living your life for a greater purpose than the day-to-day it is both scary and exciting… that is what the line “Can you feel my heart pounding in my chest, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes…”


TCS: Share with us what happened in June of 2012, which caused you to stop leading a double life as a senior corporate executive by day and a rock musician by night?

DB: I think here in the U.S. we really suffer from a culture limitation of believing that a person can only truly be “exceptional” at one thing. We believe that you can be relatively good at a bunch of things…but if you are truly exception and talented at one thing chances are that is your “gift” and the other things you do probably you’ll only perform somewhat good at. I am a person that not only does NOT believe that , but I defy it everyday. Yes, I am a lawyer and a damn good one. I graduated the top of my class from one of the top 3 law schools in the country…I trained at one of the best law firms in the world and for many years I was very very successful and very good as an in-house entertainment attorney at a very large media company. Out of fear I kept my music life under wraps. I didn’t want my employer to think that I was not committed to my career. On the flip side, I never told my music friends/ fans what I did during the day — inevitably if someone heard I was lawyer before hearing / seeing me perform that would instantly write me off as probably not being that good. How could I be an exceptional musician when I was already a successful attorney – surely I couldn’t be great at two things? Fortunately or unfortunately social media blew the “cover” off my “double life” – On Facebook and MySpace, I looked like a dedicated, full-time musical artist which didn’t make my employer very comfortable (notwithstanding the fact that my work continued to be stellar and in reality nothing at all had changed from the way I had been living my life for over a decade…….but what changed was the PERCEPTION…and as they say perception is 99% of reality. To this day, I continue to be both a dedicated and exceptional attorney as well as a musician. I think each facet helps make me better at the other…I am more creative in my approach to law than most…and I am more business minded than many other musicians…. I truly believe that we only “go around” this earth once, we have one life to live – so why should we limit ourselves in only trying to be excellent in one thing? If you have the dedication and drive and desire to try something else….TRY IT! DO IT!! And don’t let anyone stop you.

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TCS: How do you market New Dawn Day songs, merchandise, and appearances?

DB: I market New Dawn Day however and whenever I can. I have tried to really make my focus about a personal connection with my fans…they are more like my friends than fans. Most of what I have done has been completely organically. I have not yet really tried any professional marketing.

Stay connected with New Dawn Day at the following:

TCS: Was “Misunderstood” from your full-length release entitled The Company We Keep written after a real-life experience?

DB: “Misunderstood” is another favorite and yes – it is auto-biographical… This song was written about one of my former band mates. He was the bass player for SLUSHPUPPY and we used to fight like cats and dogs. It was actually quite exhausting and I always felt like there was a fundamental gap in our communication – almost like we were literally speaking two different languages. We would always both start off with the best of intentions and we truly loved each other as friends and I believe we both WANTED to get along….but sometimes even the simplest conversations…like talking about the weather forecast would turn into the biggest fights. Much of the reason why SLUSHPUPPY broke up was because of the miscommunications and fights between us and so this song was written in reflection after that time.


TCS: Any upcoming shows for New Dawn Day that we should know about and why we should be there?

DB: You should ALWAYS be at an NDD show! Ha ha… no really, since we are not a full time touring band, it takes a lot for us to get out of New Jersey…… so if we are in your area, wherever that may be please try to come see us since we don’t really know when we may be back to that market. We have a show June 5th in Hagerstown, MD with our friends in Saving Abel…then on June 11th we travel to Rhode Island to play with Art of Dying and Another Lost Year. We really try to play shows with other bands that we like both as people and in terms of their music… our hope is that if we like them then hopefully our fans will like them too which means that you won’t just enjoy the 1hr you get to see NDD on stage, but the entire lineup and night of music.

TCS: Now as a career musician, can you describe for us a day in the life of Dawn Botti?

DB: I think more and more you’ll find that the smart “career” musicians are the ones that understand that you need to diversify and have multiple skills. Unfortunately for most of us, gone are the days when you can really make a decent living by simply touring and selling your music (especially as so few people are actually purchasing music these days.) We all see the articles on music streaming services like Spotify, they are paying musicians and songwriters a mere fraction what they were otherwise making off of traditional album sales. I speak with musicians every day that tour 200+ shows a year and still can’t afford to pay their mortgage or provide for their families – so unless you are in your 20’s and have no other financial commitments and are content living hand to mouth and sleeping mostly in a van….then you’ll need to figure out how to supplement your musicians’ salary. Luckily for me I still practice law. I have been able to assist fellow musicians and record labels with legal services, as well as small independent film companies. I also very much believe that I can easily handle a full-time corporate job if it was the right company that understood the importance of work/life balance…and the value of taking on non-traditional type of lawyers that are creative, not risk-adverse and who understand how to build and manage a brand and social media marketing (since I do it for the band!) I also have some television projects in the works and have been exploring some projects with other more famous “rock” celebrities. On the music side of things, I try to spend a part of each day doing something creative – writing new melodies or lyrics…. Working on a new t-shirt design or something else. I also spend a good part of the day talking to fans on social media or writing back to fans…and of course I’m always looking for new gigging opportunities and other opportunities to get my music out there whether that be via radio, internet radio, or interviews like this one. Yes, it is exhausting and A LOT of work — but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Dawn-Botti-New_Day_Dawn-Singer

TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?

DB: I think our toughest challenge was driving across country to Oklahoma in a span of 3 days to perform as part of the ROCKLAHOMA rock festival. Silly me thought we could drive for 10 hours and then perform each night in the city we landed. Having never really driven such long distances, I hadn’t accounted for things like traffic and bathroom breaks…so our 10 hours drives usually turned into 14-15 hour drives… We have to hit the road by 6am…. Drive 14 hrs … to land in say “St. Louis” by 8pm ….rush to unload gear and perform by 10pm….then hang out with fans, pack up and get back on the road by 1am… to just do it all over again the next day…. We did that for 3 days and THEN played ROCKLAHOMA.

TCS: If New Dawn Day could open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be and why?

DB: We have actually been picking the bands that we would “love” to open for and going after those shows…. We have already accomplished many goals like opening for Saving Abel, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, Otherwise and Art Of Dying. My goal is to always pair with other hard rock bands that have a strong focus on melody and all these bands fit the bill. It’s great to perform a set and then get to hang out in the audience as a “fan” and watch the headliners! Three bands that I would KILL to open for are Shinedown, Foo Fighters, and U2…. Maybe even Bon Jovi! These are all bands who are much more established and play big arenas as opposed to the level we are on now. They have all influenced my music and I am a genuine fan of their music, so I would hope that their fans would enjoy us.

TCS: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received about New Dawn Day’s music? And, what makes it stand out so much?

DB: The best compliment is when I hear that one of my songs has a deep personal connection and meaning to a fan…. Especially if it has helped that person through something…. This is better than any pay check in the world…. When you know you have created something that was personal to you and it has now taken on a life of its own and is personal and meaningful to someone else. That is really what life is all about and what keeps me going in this business.

TCS: What does the short-term and long-term future hold for Dawn Botti and New Dawn Day?

DB: I truly do not know. I will keep playing, writing, and performing music until it is no longer “fun” and feels too much like drudgery or work. For now it is definitely a lot of hard work and a real commitment but I love every minute of it so it doesn’t feel like an obligation but a blessing. I try to pray and listen to what God wants me to do. I believe my musical talents are a gift from “him” and that he has a plan for how he wants me to use them to help and touch other people…. So for now, I keep going and I keep praying that he shows me the way. Now I don’t want everyone to turn around and say “New Day Dawn” is a Christian rock band…. We aren’t …. But Dawn Botti is a spiritually guided person and I try to incorporate God into every aspect of whatever I taken on.

TCS: What do you think the world would be like if music was never invented? And, what do you think you would you be doing instead?

DB: So long as humans have hearts and ears there will be music…. I can’t imagine a world without music, because music is in the chirping of the birds, it is in the water flowing through a stream, it is in the sound of your heart beating or a baby crying. If I had no musical talent? Maybe I would be a painter…..oh, and a lawyer 

Song List on Rise Above This (2013)

51AzdWzZVKL__SS280

  1. You Are My Everything
  2. Lay Your Head
  3. Life Impossible
  4. Whatever It Takes
  5. Runaway

Song List on The Company We Keep (2009)

51rtP5JBj-L__SS280

  1. Misunderstood
  2. Nowhere Fast
  3. Follow
  4. Daddy’s Song
  5. See Me Fall
  6. Prelude to Crazy
  7. Over You
  8. We Are
  9. Paralyzed
  10. Misunderstood (’91 Time Machine Remix)

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Chris LeGrand: Rolling Stones Tribute Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Chris-LeGrand-header

Chris LeGrand is the executive producer and cast member in the role of Mick Jagger for Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show, a touring tribute to the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band. Chris founded this Billboard & Pollstar listed show in 2001 with the goal of producing the first touring tribute show in honor of the legendary Rolling Stones.

This highly acclaimed production showcases the most authentic cast and costuming of its kind. The likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and supporting cast bring a colorful performance to over 45 years of classic hits. Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show has been featured in Rolling Stone, Showbiz Magazine, Las Vegas Today, CBS Sunday Morning news and hundreds of national newspapers, magazines, television, and radio as the world’s greatest show honoring the Rolling Stones and their legacy.

With over 35 years of experience in the music industry and a bachelor’s degree in business, Chris has grown the Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show into a 150 date annual touring entity along with developing two additional shows: “A Symphony For The Devil” and “Gimme Abbey”.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris LeGrand from Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his career in a tribute band, their set list, and their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show lineup and tell us how you decided on the band name?

Chris LeGrand: The Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show cast includes:

  • Chris LeGrand as Mick Jagger
  • Jim Riddick as Keith Richards
  • Kevin Smith as Ron Wood
  • John Wade as Bill Wyman
  • Ron Nelson as Charlie Watts

Satisfaction-Rolling-Stones-Tribute-Band-Banner

The name Satisfaction itself was my choice from the beginning as I always felt that was not only their greatest song but also one of the greatest rock & roll songs of all time. In the beginning years, it was “Satisfaction-A Rolling Stones Experience” and then around 2005 I changed it to “Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show” just to give more of a global appeal.

TCS: So how long has Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show been playing together and how did you get started?

CL: This is our 15th year on tour. I conceived the show in 2000 and began recruiting musicians who I knew in my local area near Shreveport, LA where I was living at the time. After many years of trying to write my own songs and going thru the frustration of playing the same cover songs in bar bands I decided it was time to step up to something on a grander scale. I kept seeing these Beatles shows touring the country and surprisingly there were no touring Rolling Stones shows. So I knew there was an opportunity.

Satisfaction-Rolling-Stones-Tribute-Band

TCS: At what age did you guys individually become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as musicians?

CL: I’d say that answer would be different for every cast member. We all were hearing music at an early age from our parents or older siblings. Most kids though really discover music as an adolescent. That’s when it hit me hard somewhere around 12 or 13 years old. The inspiration comes from your heroes you typically discover as a teenager. You dream big and you want to pursue it. That’s doesn’t mean it will happen or you’re guaranteed a career but that’s when you begin chasing the vision.

TCS: Chris did you think early on that you sounded or moved like the legendary Mick Jagger or was it something that you discovered over time?

CL: Well at 13 or 14 I had grown my hair out and I had these naturally larger lips so the comparisons started then. I of course thought that was ridiculous because as a teenager I was gonna do my own thing! I had no idea a few decades later it would become a career. When I started this show I had the vocal talent and I certainly wasn’t shy but I had no idea what I was challenging myself with until I started studying. It took me 6 months before we did our first show where I was comfortable to go out in front of people. Still then I had along way to go. I would say it’s not a natural thing to portray someone else. Your default button is to be yourself so it takes a lot of time and dedication.

TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show sculpt its sound and its stage performance?

CL: The key word in everything we do is authentic. So with the music it starts with the original recordings for authenticity. We then shape and augment a few things for live performance. We may extend a song here or there or include an extra guitar solo. etc. In the end though we always refer back to the original recordings. Those are the sounds that are etched in everyone’s ears.

Chris-LeGrand-Tribute-Satisfaction-Rolling-Stones

TCS: What do you guys feel is the hardest aspect of re-creating a Rolling Stones show?

CL: Trying to play all of the songs everyone wants to hear! It’s just impossible to play every hit and every fan favorite from that catalog in a 2 hour show. There are 14 or 15 songs we definitely have to play every night. The obvious huge hits. And then from there we have to pick and choose another 12 or so we feel may appeal to the particular market or audience. We know about 75 songs so that can be a challenge.

TCS: What do you feel sets Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show apart from other Rolling Stones tribute bands?

CL: To this day, we still have the only full-time touring show of it’s kind in the world. We are somewhere just over 2,500 shows in our 15 year history so we maintain a high level of performance by working so much. Honestly we do more shows in a year than all of our close competitors combined.


TCS: How many gigs does Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show play annually and what and where are some of the venues in which you’ve performed?

CL: The average is around 125-130 shows a year but it has gone as high as 150. We have performed in every major US city several times and hundreds of small towns and communities across the country. We’ve spent time on the Las Vegas Strip and at Walt Disney World and everything in between. That gives you our broad spectrum of clients! Just too many cities and venues to start naming them!

TCS: If Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would that be and why?

CL: We have never performed in London so that would be our dream show. Let’s dream big and say Wembley Stadium!

TCS: What are the most requested Rolling Stones songs at your shows?

CL: It’s a long list consisting of the following:

  • “Honly Tonk Women:
  • “Paint it Black”
  • “Shelter”
  • “Jumping Jack Flash”
  • “Start Me Up”
  • “Miss You”


TCS: Of the songs that Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show plays from The Rolling Stones’ extensive library which ones are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from The Rolling Stones that you guys really love that is not currently included in your set list? If yes, then why.

CL: We certainly don’t have any least favorites. Some of our personal favorites include “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Midnight Rambler”. They are sort of longer pieces with extended passages so it’s fun to stretch out a bit on those. We love “2000 Light Years From Home”, “Dandelion”, “She’s a Rainbow” and some of the more psychedelic material that we have not performed yet but we have plans to with our symphony show. Without the orchestration they just wouldn’t work.

TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show use to create a unique The Rolling Stones sound?

CL: Fender amps guitars, basses, and Gretsch drums are the basics.

TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?

CL: Two failed managers! I decided to manage myself after they nearly broke and ran the band in the ground. That was during the first 5 years though. Since 2005, I’ve been in complete control and the band has had it’s greatest success. Sometimes you just have to take the reins and do it yourself. No one will pay attention to details like you will.


TCS: Tell us about how proud you were in 2005 as your production became the first ever Rolling Stones show to debut on the Las Vegas strip as part of Legends In Concert Show?

CL: That was a huge turning point. I’d had been calling and emailing the good people at Legends since 2001 with no success. I just never gave up and then one day they called ME. We were in the midst of firing our second manager and they asked us to come to Florida for sort of an audition concert they were doing these on a temporary basis. We did the show and they loved us and offered us a 6 month deal in Las Vegas. Since then we’ve been part of their family and we still do stints with them on occasion.

TCS: Tell us about the background behind two other Rolling Stones–based shows that you’ve developed called “A Symphony For The Devil” and “Gimme Abbey/The 1969 Concert”!

CL: Both are huge endeavors that are really taking off. For “A Symphony For The Devil”, I was aware that rock symphony pops shows were becoming popular and I again did not see anyone performing the music of The Rolling Stones with a symphony. We hired an arranger and he and I put together some interesting arrangements to enhance these classic songs. It’s basically our same cast combined with a local town symphony. We send them the charts and we typically rehearse once with the orchestra and we’re off to the show. It’s been very well received with over 30 performances so far. Clever title too.

For “Gimme Abbey”, we’ve done hundreds of shows with Beatles groups over the years. The problem was they never had a theme. Considering The Beatles broke up in 1969 and The Rolling Stones are still around the shows didn’t really have a timeline that made sense. I decided to create a concept show based in the year 1969 and to tell the story of the year in history and center it around a concert from that time period. I partnered with a great Beatles show called “The Return” and we are just getting this off the ground. It’s a full multimedia show with a big surprise ending!


TCS: How do you market Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show songs, merchandise, and appearances?

CL: We primarily stick to the band website, Facebook, and ReverbNation which ties into everything. We also do some Google and Bing ads. I’m not too sure why anyone would want to follow a tribute band on Twitter. The 2 hours onstage is exciting. The other 22 aren’t!

TCS: Has anyone in Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show met any of the members of The Rolling Stones?

CL: We’ve run into Keith and Ronnie along with some of their family members in our travels. They’ve never watched our show or hung out. Mostly just a quick passing hello.

TCS: Have you played with any other The Rolling Stones tribute bands and if so what type of reaction have you received?

CL: We’ve hired some former members of our competitors for part-time and full-time work. I don’t think we’re going to see all us of performing together though.

TCS: Besides Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show, if you could individually play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose and why?

CL: As a teenager Aerosmith was one of my favorite bands. They were like the American Stones to me. It would be a blast to hang with Steven and the boys!

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show?

CL: We are getting to the point where we almost have more work than we can handle with one cast. We have a Broadway producer who is looking at “Gimme Abbey” for New York and possibly London. Honestly I envision we will have to expand to at least 1 more cast in the next 12 months and maybe 3 full-time casts within 3 years. Business is great!

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

The Creative Spotlight: 2014 Review

Written by: Frank Iacono

the-creative-spotlight-recap-2014

In an article entitled “There’s Just No Explaining 2014,”by Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author Dave Barry, he described 2014 as a year of mysteries. To illustrate, Barry cited some of the more baffling occurrences including the invasion of the nation by the polar vortex, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the beheadings by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the viral acceptance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the security breech at the White House, the violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the arrival of the Ebola virus, and the monster snowstorm that dumped more than four feet of snow on Buffalo, New York.

Now when it comes to The Creative Spotlight there is no mystery. The goal of The Creative Spotlight is to introduce readers to local musicians, artists, business owners, motivational speakers, photographers, and other published authors. Consider The Creative Spotlight as the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered talent, reading exciting interviews, learning helpful tips and tricks, and news that you can use…plus lots of great ideas for enriching your life and enjoying yourself. As we welcome 2015, we want to make sure that you did not miss any of the 13 articles from 2014. This blog includes a complete, categorized list of The Creative Spotlight posts that were published in 2014.

January2014

Emma Stevens: Singer and Songwriter

March 2014

Dayna Steele: Find Your Inner Rock Star

Nigel Bennett: Lead Rock Guitarist

April 2014

Dwayne Wimmer: Personal Trainer

May 2014

Almshouse: Original Rock-n-Roll

Scarletta: Top Nashville Trio

June 2014

Harry Francis Giovan: Singer and Songwriter

Tom’s Attic: Rock Cover Band

September 2014

Victoria Watts: Singer and Songwriter

October 2014

Chillin’ with Charlie: Rock Cover Band

Peter Beckett: Singer and Songwriter

November 2014

Robert C. Jackson: Contemporary Realist

kRUSH: A Tribute To Rush

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.