Tag Archives: American Rock

NEAL SMITH – Interview from the archives, 1996

This interview was done in June of 1996.  Through a friend (and associate of Neal’s – Billy James) I was able to send Neal plenty of questions, and he gladly answered them on a cassette and sent them back. (Note that this interview was done well before the death of Glenn Buxton. )

I did another interview with Neal in 2014 (which I’ll re-post here in the future). Neal has a new album coming out ‘Killsmith Goes West‘ – check out my review and news of it elsewhere at this site.

What are your memories of the earliest gigs the band ever played under the names prior to the Alice Cooper Group [i.e.:  What sort of venues?  Responses?  Set-lists?]. 

Some of the first memories I have are of The Nazz – that was when I’d joined the group in the fall of 1967. We were playing a lot of clubs, and once in a while we were on Arizona local television. It was basically the biggest clubs in the South-West that we were playing at the time, as well as Los Angeles. The responses were always positive. One of the main things we always tried to do was have people walk away with a reaction. The set list at that time included all of the songs from the Pretties For You , which we recorded on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records. There were some songs we also did which were songs that were later re-written and recorded for later Warner Brothers albums.

Who were some of your own musical influences and ‘heroes’ starting out [any favorite drummers back then]?

Some of my own musical influences at the time were from when I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s like Gene Krupa and Sandy Nelsen — a lot of the big band sound and pop together. Of course, when the British Invasion happened I was influenced to an extent by the likes of Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts because I liked what they did with what they were playing musically on records with The Beatles and Rolling Stones. From a theatrical stand-point I really liked Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell (from Jimi Hendrix’ band). I also liked Ginger Baker, but probably more from a playing stand-point. He is, I think, probably the best drummer of the rock era.

How did the whole ALICE COOPER concept evolve [i.e.: from the time you chose that name]?

The concept for Alice Cooper really came from when we all went to art school together. Alice, Glen, and myself were all art majors. We liked to employ the mixture of art and theatre into the music. That was simply the concept, just something that nobody had done before. Even before the name Alice Cooper came along, when we played we tried to have people walk away, and the one thing we wanted them to do – was never forget the band!

No matter what we had to do to make that happen!

The first 2 AC albums were so strange (in retrospect), what influenced a lot of the sounds and production ?

Yes, they were a little different for the time. Any influence that we had, again being art majors and wanting to do something completely different – that was our approach. We had a few other influences like early Syd Barrett with the original Pink Floyd.  I liked a lot of the things with sounds that they played around with at the time. Also, Stockhausen – electronic music that was coming out of Germany and Europe at that time. There was just a lot of experimentation with instruments, instruments that every group had – 2 guitars, bass, drums, and a singer.

How did the band hook up with Shep Gordon and Warners?

Shep Gordon and Joey Greenburg were partners and we signed with them. They were just out to Los Angeles from Buffalo, New York. They’d graduated from Business College at the University Of Buffalo. My sister – Cindy Dunaway, who’s married to Dennis, worked at a boutique store in LA, and at the time had a lot to do with our clothing and image.  So, Shep and Joe came into the boutique and I guess they were talking, and she asked them what they did, and they said that they manage bands. She said “my brother’s in a band, and they need a manager!” We hooked up from that point on.  Of course, Warner Brothers bought out Straight Records, which was Frank Zappa’s label and there was 10 bands – which I still think was one of the most amazing business deals ever done at the time. Warner Brothers bought out 10 bands from Straight Records for about $50 000 at that time – 1969-70.  This was already after we’d recorded Easy Action. Linda Ronstadt was with a band called “Stone Ponies” and also James Taylor was in one of the groups that Frank Zappa had at the time, so they kinda got Alice Cooper as a bonus because they’d (Warners) really wanted Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.

What influence, advice, and ideas did Bob Ezrin bring with him when you began to record with him for Love It To Death?

Well again, it was our first album for Warner Brothers, we were now with a major label, we had incredible management, we were making a presence with the underground – very strongly with Pretties For You and Easy Action and the affiliation with Frank Zappa at the time. We wanted to break-out, not really into the mainstream, but hit more people with our impact, so we needed someone who’d take our music to the level of what our show was and where we really wanted to be. Bob Ezrin, at the time, was with Nimbus 9 Studios in Toronto. He was just starting out, the same as Shep and the band; we were all starting from the same place. Bob’s influence was very substantial in really taking the songs and working with us on arrangements. Lyrically, Alice – I still think is one of the best rock lyricist that’s ever been around. So, to take those lyrics and to take the ideas of our music, which the majority of was written by Mike, although Dennis and myself also influenced the music as well. Bob really took it and put it all together, and worked quite closely with the band. He was really, in my opinion, like the 6th member of the band! One other thing – Bob not only was an incredible influence on the music, but keeping in mind the “theatre” of the band, and keeping in mind what we did on stage and implementing that in a musical expression on our records, as well as what we did live. That was a lot of the “magic” of what Bob and the band did together.

What was the songwriting process in the original AC band?

That’s an interesting question.   I think we probably utilized every possible aspect of songwriting. A song like “School’s Out” – everybody wrote together.  Some of the riffs from that song were done a long time ago in the early days before we even recorded. A better example is “Elected” which was originally on Pretties For You and was called “Reflected”; we’d re-wrote it. Anything from that period of time (Pretties For You and Easy Action), we basically wrote together.  We would come up with songs either from a group jam where everybody is together working out a concept or idea and Alice would work on lyrics.  We would also brainstorm on the lyrics. The other way was that Mike would write a song, bring it to Alice and then there was lyrical changes on it.  A great example of this is “No More Mister Nice Guy”.  Another example of co-writing was Dennis and Mike writing “Under My Wheels”, and from the standpoint of the lyrics they were very involved and then Alice came in and worked on the lyrics as well. And to this day it’s one of my favorite all-time Alice Cooper songs!  There was also songs in the band that members wrote by themselves like “Black Ju-Ju” – Dennis basically wrote that song and “Hallowed Be My Name”, from the Love It To Death album is a song I wrote in it’s entirety. It was always fun and it was always a very creative process.  One of the last songs we ever wrote together was from Billion Dollar Babies. We needed 1 more song, it was “Generation Landslide”, again one of my favorite songs.  We had needed 1 more song for the album and we were in London recording at the time, and we just had to get out of town – go rehearse and write a song.  We went down to the Canary Islands and there was a brand new hotel that was being built.  We rented the whole top of the hotel, moved in, took our equipment – just enough to set up a little studio and write a song.  I started playing the drum beat to “Generation Landslide”, Mike joined in, and in a couple of days we’d developed the song.  We wrote the song as a group and everyone participated in it’s creation.  Usually last songs can be filler, but I think that was an incredible song!

What influenced the words to some of the bands’ biggest hits, such as ‘Eighteen’ & ‘Be My Lover’?

With “Eighteen” we wanted to have a hit song as we’d never had one, and this was our third album (Love It To Death).  We wanted something that was going to be timely, and the subject of being 18 years of age at that time was a very hot subject!  We wanted something like an anthem, and I certainly think “Eighteen” succeeded.  “Be My Lover” was from the standpoint of a “cabaret” kind of thing.  Alice used “Katchina” – the snake, on stage, and even throughout the ’80s he used the snake during “Be My Lover”.   It was a fun song; I always liked playing that one.

What is the story behind the sessions for the Billion Dollar Babies album  [i.e.:  who were guest on it that is not written in the credits]?

We recorded it at our mansion in Greenwich Connecticut, in London England at Morgan Studios, and at The Record Plant in New York.  All the songs were recorded by the band.  There was a jam session in London that Keith Moon, Harry Nilson and Mark Bolan from T-TEX attended.  Flo and Eddie were there too as were a couple of other friends that had played with us on albums – Mick Mashbir, who later played some guitar on Muscle Of Love.  They were in the session, but it was nothing that was ever on the record. It was a fun jam session and a great party!!

How did you and the rest of the band deal with the fame and success?

We’d played for about 10 years, and it was almost like a non-stop party.  We had worked very, very hard to achieve what we had achieved at that time, and we were all enjoying it.  It wasn’t a situation where it was a bad thing – it never was!  We got along great together, and to this day we still get along great.

With Alice, himself, being more in the public eye than the rest of the band as a whole, create any bitterness or animosity amongst band members?

To tell you the truth when the band first was together and went on the road in the late ’60s, there was a lot of time where we could all go to the radio stations and do the interviews.  We could all do the interviews with the magazines.  It was a little hectic with 5 people, but we all had the time to do it.  As things changed there was times when Mike, Dennis and I or Alice and I would do the interviews.  If Alice couldn’t make it I did the interview – it just depended.  It was a situation that was orchestrated by the band.  As the pressure became greater later on and the band had to do sound checks at big concerts, and we’d traveled so much that by the time we got to the venue our thing was the music and Alice would go to the radio stations and do his things.  Everybody had their job.  There was never any bitterness.  It was a lot of work and everyone had their job to do at that particular time. We all shared equally in the band.  Everyone had their own weight to pull and we did it to the best of our ability in always trying to put on a great show – no matter what the bottom line was!

Why did the band decide to record Muscle of Love so soon after B$B’s, instead of taking a needed break?

I don’t know if there was a needed break.  We actually took the break after Muscle Of Love.  First of all. we recorded albums, and we played concerts – that’s what we did for many years.  After Billion Dollar Babies we wanted to get in to the studio.  We’d been playing those songs for a year now and we had a whole new group of songs that we wanted to put down; we had a new concept.  There was actually even songs for an album after that! And that’s why Muscle Of Love was recorded, and then the Greatest Hits came after that.

Why were two guest guitar-players used on that album?  Was it due to Glen’s ‘health’?  [Stories that Glen was so ill on the last few tours that in fact someone else played his parts from behind the stage  – True?]

Dick Wagner, who was a very good friend of Bob Ezrin came in and did some guest spots on some albums for a little bit different texture or flavor. Mick Mashbir, who was a long time friend of mine from high school – even before I was ever involved with the guys in the group, he played lead guitar on some of the live shows. What was happening was when we got into Billion Dollar Babies on stage the show was becoming bigger, we needed more music, more musicians.   With what we were doing on the albums – we wanted to portray that more live.  So, we needed a keyboard player, Bob Dolin, and we needed another guitar player – so Mick played for us in the back-ground on the Billion Dollar Babies Tour, as well as some lead work on Muscle Of Love.

Glen always played “School’s Out” and “18” – those were his songs.  All the hits he would do.  He contributed immensely to those songs. Those songs were never the same without him. Yes there was people who played with us live on stage, and they actually had their own section in that they were in the spotlight as well. There wasn’t anything hidden about it or anything like that.  Yes there was a period of time, unfortunately, with the Billion Dollar Babies tour, that Glen wasn’t feeling too well, but he’s a trooper.  He went on the road with us and it was one of the highest grossing tours at the time.  It wouldn’t have been the same without him, that’s for sure !

Do you feel that Muscle Of Love is an overlooked album?  It is my personal favorite ACG album.

I don’t think it’s that overlooked.  I think it was an interesting turn for us to do the Muscle Of Love album.  It’s one of my favorite albums too.  It was fun recording it.  Bob Ezrin unfortunately, didn’t help us out on the production – it was Jack Douglas.  That was one of Jack Douglas’ first albums before working with Aerosmith, and then Jack Richardson also helped. He’d originally started with us on Love It To Death.  He produced The Guess Who, some of their biggest hits.  Bob Ezrin was Jack Richardson’s protégé.  Prior to albums to that, the 2 or 3 before, we’d shipped over 1 million copies the first week. Muscle Of Love came out and it sold 800 000 copies the first month, so it was a little bit off the mark.  It wasn’t followed up with a major stage show worldwide, and I think that may have been a part of it.

During your time with AC you recorded a much publicized solo album (The Platinum God).  What is the story behind it  [i.e. :  Who played on it ?  Who wrote?  Sang?  Why has it never been released?]

I guess it got a lot of publicity (!?)  It was a concept that I’d been working on.  I wrote all the songs, and sang all the songs on the tape.  The guitar player was Mike Marconi.   He was a musician I had met while we were on the road in the Rochester area. I went to see him play live in a club one night and liked his work, so we ended up working together.  Jack Douglas produced the tapes, Dennis played bass, Mike Marconi played the lead guitar, and there was another guitar player – Stu Day.   Stu had a band out of New York called “The Mix” in the mid to late ’70s. Then there was some orchestrations where I had brass sections and string sections – which was actually the New York Philharmonic at the time on the tapes.  We had taken them (the tapes) to a lot of record companies, and I guess being the “shock-rock” band, or whatever we were at that particular time; this tape was actually pretty shocking to them in a lot of respects.   And to this day I think that’s a great aspect to these tapes. On the song “Platinum God” itself, I just had no clue as to what was going on. It’s an interesting mixture between contemporary drumming and primitive drumming, and mixed with the concept.   Who knows – maybe someday it’ll still be released , I don’t know !

Did the band intend on getting back together following the “Greatest Hits” release?

The band still might get together!  Who knows?  Of course we planned on getting together.  That’s kind of a crazy question !

What did you do in the first few years following the break-up of the band?

We took the year off.  We had worked very hard, as I mentioned previously.  It was a lot of fun but a lot of work too.  We’d travelled all around the world.  We’d gone from obscurity to fulfilling our dream of bringing what we did that was so different and exciting to the music world and bringing in theatre – an element that had never really been brought into play before that period of time.   And still to this day, I think that of all the great stage shows you see – that did not exist before we were on stage.  There’s no doubt in my mind that what we did has influenced music for the past 2 decades – especially from a live presentation standpoint.  But there comes a point in time where you have to take a break from it all.   We’d all lived together under the same roof for all that time and when we took that year off everybody got their own places, and got a chance to relax and get into who they were.  And like I said, you just can never know what’s going to happen!?

Were you ever bitter that Alice, himself, carried on without you guys making a living out of the songs and ideas that you all contributed to?

If anything, I’m proud of what Alice has done on his own.   I’m always extremely impressed with him and any of his lyrics I hear.  Some of his songs from Welcome To My Nightmare, and even to his newest album – The Last Temptation, there’s some songs that I’d have loved to have played the drums on.  When he’s out on the road he’s playing a lot of the Greatest Hits – songs that we all wrote on, played on, and made famous.  So, the word wouldn’t be “bitter”, but “proud”!  I’m extremely happy that he does so well.  We’re still good friends; he’s even helped me get bitten by the “Golf-bug” here.   He’s an incredible golfer!!  We get together and play once in a while.  At any rate, basically what I think of his albums is that they’ve been great.

In 1977 yourself, Dennis Dunaway, and Michael Bruce formed a band ‘BILLION DOLLAR BABIES’.   How did that all come about?  Bob Dolin had previously guested on Muscle Of Love,  who was he and who was Mike Marconi?

After Muscle Of Love there was a pile of songs written, this was past out solo projects.   We got together and we wanted to record an album.  We put all the music together.   We had Bob Dolin on keyboards from the Muscle Of Love album, and Mike Marconi – from my Platinum God project.

Did B$B’s record anything past the Battle Axe album?   Did you tour?  And why did it fall apart?

We recorded a demo song past that.  We did do a tour; we played around the country.  Again, it was a great concept.  It would’ve been fun if the whole band could’ve done it, but it worked on it’s own.  I guess the main thing was the 3 points in the “triple crown” for the success of the Alice Cooper Band was certainly the band – it’s creativity and writing.  The second was Shep Gordon – our management and the leadership that he had in the field. And then (third) Bob Ezrin in producing the records.  Bob worked closely with making the music and records happen, and then Shep took it and put it over with the record company and made everything else work, like the publicity and all that.  We were spoiled by that sort of a formula and the B$B’s did not have that formula.

Who have you kept in touch with over the years?  Ref. to Michael, Dennis, Alice, and Glenn.

Of course with Dennis – he’s my brother-in-law, and he lives very close to where I do in Connecticut.  Michael Bruce and I talk, I’ve seen him in Arizona several times.  I’ve probably seen Alice more than Glen and Mike.  Glen, I haven’t seen in quite a long time, but I do talk to Glen a lot as well.  Yes, I get along with everybody in the band, and I always wish them all the best – all the time.

You and Dennis played on Buck Dharma’s 1981 solo album Flat Out.   How did all that come about?  Do you keep in contact with Buck?

Donald “Buck” Dharma was a very good friend of ours.  As a matter of fact the Alice Cooper Band had played some shows in the 70s where Blue Oyster Cult had opened for us.  We got along pretty well.  So, when Buck did the solo album he had asked Dennis and I to play on some of the tracks for him.  I co-wrote the song “Born To Rock”, and it became the single from the album, and the video that was on MTV. He (Buck) and his family are very good friends of ours.  Even though they don’t live in the State anymore we still keep in touch.

What sort of recording and playing did you do throughout the ’80s?  Much session work?

In 1981 I played drums on a complete album by The Plasmatics called Beyond The Valley Of 1984. That was a pretty cool project.  I enjoyed working with them.  I did co-write a song with Joe Bouchard of BOC for the Revolution By Night album.  The song was called “Shadows Of California”, that was recorded in 1983.  Then I did some solo recordings during the mid-80s.  Then I got into the profession I’m in now.

What’s the story behind ‘DEADRINGER’?

DEADRINGER was Joe Bouchard from BOC, Dennis Dunaway, and the singer was Charlie Huhn from Ted Nugent’s band, “Intensities In 10 Cities” – those days.  I think Charlie’s an incredible singer, and we were lucky to have him work together with us in 1989 for an album called “Electrocution Of The Heart”.  It was released on Grudge Records in 89.  The guitar player was a guy who I’d been working with and writing songs with in Connecticut for the last 10 years; his name was J. Jesse Johnson.  He was really the focal point of the band as far as the music goes; he’d written a lot of the songs, and helped to co-write some of the others with me that were on the record. It was a great record, and we had a lot of fun recording it.  I do wish we had had more time in the studio. It may be re-released on another label soon, because it was a great record.

How did you get involved with ANT BEE?

Billy James (ANT BEE) was a friend of Mike Bruce’s and through Mike is how I met Billy.  There was a portion of The Platinum God tape that Billy sampled and was on his new album.  It sounds really cool, and I’m pretty pleased with that.   He’s a very talented guy, and a good man !

Do you have any plans for future recording and/or session projects in the future?

You never know what this business can bring!   I have a studio in my own home.  I’ve always maintained the studio, and every year I try to make it a little bigger and better.  I’m always writing.  Over the years, with the help of Mike Bruce, I taught myself how to play guitar and piano, so I know enough that it helps me write.  And then I work with somebody that’s incredibly talented like J. Jessie Johnson or Mike Bruce!  I am always looking to write; I love to write and collaborate with people.  Do I have a dying urge to get back on the road? I’ve really already done that! I love drums, that’s my biggest thing in life, naturally! I still have almost every drum kit I’ve ever had.  I have over 100 of them at home! I noticed a new book called “The Stars’ Sets”, and it covers the 1930s to 1995.  They have a great picture of one of my first Slingerland kits in there that Slingerland gave us.  The Love It To Death and Killer albums were recorded on that set of drums.  I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now, (real estate).  I write in the studio, send Alice songs once in a while.  Mike Bruce has heard my songs; I’ve heard some of Mikes’. He still writes incredible songs.  A great songwriter!!  That’s a natural combination with Mike, Dennis and I together – we play any song, like “My Stars”, or any song that the original Alice Cooper band did and it will sound exactly like the record.

Do you ever fore-see yourself working with any of the original AC band guys again?  Is there ever a possibility of a reunion?

I’m friends with everybody, I work with everybody.  Dennis and I play a lot, Mike and I played last year when I went out to Arizona, and we did some jamming on some of his songs.  I got together with Alice, gave him some songs, and we kicked around some ideas.  I don’t have a crystal ball to know what’s going to happen in the future, but I’d be the first one to bring my drums to a session if we ever did decide to do anything!  But, it’d have to be just for fun – that would be the bottom line to ever doing anything.

What do you do outside of music?   How did you get into real estate?

I really do music as a hobby now.  Real Estate is my main profession.  It’s a very serious and professional business, but I have a lot of fun with it in the Connecticut area.  I got into it when the band was together.  We made investments in real estate, individually and as a group.  I found it fascinating, and it was another way that I could make an income. I enjoy it a lot, and love this part of the country.  People do say “from rock ‘n’ roll to real estate – what the heck is that all about?”.  But we did have the opportunity to invest and learn a lot about it in the early ’70s, so it was a natural progression – a natural step.  Is it as much fun as going on the road?  Maybe not, but, it’s not as tiring either.

Do you follow current music?  Thoughts on today’s scene as opposed to the early 70’s?

Not as much, I really just don’t have the time. I never really followed current music in the old days.  Once we’d started as a group I was so concentrated on what we were doing, and not paying too much attention to other bands. But when I hear a band like The Counting Crows – I think that’s a great band.  The Smashing Pumpkins are another good band.  The one thing that I really like about a band like Smashing Pumpkins is that that drummer who was in the band, actually plays drums, and is a significant part of their sound.  There was so much music in the ’80s where the drums were just a particular sound – they were just there!  But now, the drummers that I’ve heard sound like they’re musicians again, and actually contributing to the sound of their groups!   It just seemed like in the late 60s – early 70s that there was a lot more excitement in music.  There was a lot going on then, and I think it was socially and politically as well. With Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, there was a lot of things changing in the States. Music has always been sort of a barometer of what’s going on with social event.  That is why I still like to listen to the old music.  The country scene, of course these days, has changed immensely from what it used to be many years ago.  I like music whether it’s a Broadway play, Big Band, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Punk.  If it’s a great song – it’s a great song and it holds no matter what the style of music.

Have you ever thought of writing a book ? (As Michael Bruce recently has.) And, can you give us a favorite story from the road?

Well, if there was ever an Alice Cooper story – there’d be 5 different versions of that story! Every guy in the group would have his own version.  So if everybody wrote their own book, believe me – they would all be completely different!  They’d be parallel to a certain extent, but a lot of different stories would come about. It’s interesting every time we sit down, either with Mike or Alice, one of the guys will remember something that the other guys just totally forgot. It’d be more fun, I think, if all sat down and just started talking into tape recorders and let somebody else write the book.   A story?   When we were in Paris we played in The Pierre Cardin Theatre. I think it was the “Killer” or “School’s Out” show (I’m not quite sure!).  After the show Bianca Jagger and Natalie Delone were there and Alice and I were kind of hanging out with them for the evening.  Pierre Cardin was a big fan of ours, and in France Alice Cooper was a very very “hip” thing.  Every time we went over there we were treated incredibly well. All in all I think most French people seem to not to like Americans, but for some reason (ha) we weren’t average Americans. Anyway, in the evening after the performance they had a big area for entertaining and what have you. They didn’t have any Smirnoff Vodka there; they had some other vodkas, but that’s what I was interested in drinking that evening.  So Pierre Cardin said that he didn’t have any there, but he did at home in his apartment. So he went out, took a taxi, got the vodka and came back!! It made no sense to me, but he was more than cordial and happy to help out. Everybody in Paris was just incredible to us, and all over Europe too!  One other story is from when we were over in London. Alice and I used to like to play a lot of pool together, billiards.  As a matter of fact we had an on-going game, and I think Alice still owes me $65! We had our rehearsals in Greenwich (Connecticut). We had a very large solarium with a pool table in it. So Alice and I would play for the period of time that the band was tuning up. It was a fun game. Anyway, we went over to London on one of our first tours through Europe, and they of course – play “snooker” over there!  One evening we went out and there was Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood, and we were at one of their houses (I forget who’s).  Alice and I figured we could learn this game, you know – you had a cue stick and balls, and a velvet table.  And actually we got our butt’s kicked — a couple of times!  Later on we finally ended up beating them though.  So, we had to adapt to the European form of the pool game.  That was a cool night, we’d never played it before.  I could go on and on and talk about different stories all night,…  and most of them we probably couldn’t print anyway!!  





BRAVE THE SEA to release third album – Lady Death

Ohio’s BRAVE THE SEA is a Celtic rock band who will be releasing their 3rd album at the end of April. Titled Lady Death, it features 11 tracks, all pretty upbeat, lots of fast paces, and hard-rockin. There’s nothing overly long here, with only 2 tracks exceeding 4 minutes, so it’s fast paced, catchy, fun, with tales from the sea, and probably pretty different to anything else you’re familiar with. Best cuts include – “Not The End”, “Day I Die”, and “Judgement Day”. There’s also a few lighter moments on this, with “Medusa” and “Where I Belong”. Check out the band’s clips, the press info below, and links. Also, check out the band’s youtube channel for some unique covers (and mandolin covers!) of songs from Dio and Diamond Head!

Lady Death can be pre-ordered (on CD, + t-shit!) – HERE

 BRAVE THE SEA who will release their third full-length album, Lady Death, on April 28th. If you could, please take a moment to check out the record. I’d appreciate any feedback on the music and consideration for review, interview or otherwise around its release.

If you’re unfamiliar, Brave The Sea formed in 2015 and to date they’ve released two full lengths, A Pirate’s Life (2017) and The Kraken (2019). Their music has been streamed millions of times and they’ve rocked the stages of Milwaukee Summerfest, Dublin Irish Festival and Kentucky Pirate Festival while touring throughout North America and Europe. Now the band returns post-pandemic with a boisterous record, Lady Death, that’s sure to have fans clinking beers and singing along.

Brave the Sea is a Columbus, OH Celtic rock band whose fun live performances and hook filled melodies have won over a legion of fans. Formed in the summer of 2015, the guys hoped to be covering everything from the traditional Celtic tunes to the modern renditions of bands such as Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, and Alestorm.
 Rave reception has led to millions of streams and performances at Milwaukee Summerfest, the Dublin Irish Festival and the Kentucky Pirate Festival. 2022 saw the band intensify their touring schedule, and even perform their first dates in Europe!
 Now, the band is gearing up to release a brand new LP, Lady Death for 2023. It will see the band building on their trademark elements and incorporating ideas that they have built up during the pandemic. They’ll also be going back to Europe to play a run of club shows and festivals. Join Brave the Sea’s Celtic rock party. You won’t regret it.


On My Way
Lady Death
Not the End
Bad Luck
Going Down
Where I Belong
Day I Die
Frozen Shore
Judgement Day
Unnamed Grave





ALICE COOPER – Billion Dollar Babies @ 50

Billion Dollar Babies was Alice Cooper’s peak, as a band, massively huge at the time, and still (arguably) the most important in the AC catalogue (band or solo!). Released in March of 1973, it would be a #1 album in the US, the UK, and Finland, as well as #2 in Canada, and top 10 in a few others. The band’s previous album, School’s Out had given the #1 hit and most famous AC track ever – “School’s Out”, and the album was a big seller, but there were no further singles. The band reworked the song “Reflected”, from their 1968 debut Pretties For You in time for the 1972 presidential election, even making a promotional film out of it, though that featured more of the chimp than bandmembers (aside from Alice). “Elected” would be the first of 4 hit singles from Billion Dollar Babies, released September 13 of 1972., months ahead of the album. Credited to the entire band, “Elected” gave Alice Cooper their 2nd Top 10 hit in the UK, as well as being Top 10 in a number of European countries, And reaching #26 in the US the week of the election! The song would remain in Alice’s live set, post-original band, often being used as an encore. The song also picks up radio play every election year.

Record World, Sept 23, ’72 Amidst a continually broadening sphere of activities, Alice Cooper has not neglected this election year, and has just released a new single, “Elected.” The music and lyrics of the song were written by all five members of the group. “Elect-ed” took ten days to record, with basic tracks recorded at the Cooper Estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. To add authenticity to the sound of “Elected,” Alice makes use of Will Jordan’s impersonation of Walter Winchell, as well as recorded portions of the Democratic Convention in Miami. Also, the record ends with Alice giving a campaign speech. In keeping with the laws pertaining to full disclosure of campaign funds and expenses, Alice wishes to note that the recording costs of “Elected” were $10,000, inclusive. Warner Brothers has initiated a national campaign for “Warner Bros. Elected Alice Cooper Days” September 18th and 19th, which will consist of promo men dressed as Uncle Sam along with two models in red, white, and blue outfits to present the record to program directors at each station. (Robert Feiden)

Alice S -elected
With Alice Cooper’s latest record “Elected,” racing through the country, Louis Araiza, a student at the University of Houston took the lyric seriously. It seems he found a loophole in the bylaws governing the Student Union at the university and had Alice Cooper elected homecoming “queen.” It was never specified in the bylaws as to what sex a homecoming queen has to be Araiza explained. Alice Cooper, the male, lead -singer of the rock group bearing the same name may be cancelling a portion of his upcoming European tour to fly to Houston on November 11 to accept a loving cup during the half-time, coronation festivities in Dome Stadium, the 49,000 capacity home of the University of Houston Cougars.

So, tracks for Billion Dollar Babies were recorded over a 5 month period. A second single was released prior to the album – “Hello Hooray” , in January of ’73. The song was picked for use as the album’s and the live show’s opener. “Hello Hooray” was written by Canadian Rolf Kempf (thus qualifying AC’s single as CanCon), and originally recorded by folk singer Judy Collins for her 1968 album Who Knows Where The Time Goes (featuring Stephen Stills on guitar throughout the album). The AC single would reach top 10 in the UK and the Netherlands, top 20 in other countries, and #35 in the US. Further versions of the song included American folk singer Meg Christian (1974), UK industrial/alternative act PIG (1992), and Rolf Kempf, himself, released a version of his song on his 1993 CD Woodstock Album. “Hello Hooray” was also used for years as the opener to Toronto’s Q107 Radio’s Psychedelic Sunday program.

 “That song was presented to us. I still have the reel to reel tape with the original song on it; I guess Judy Collins did a version of it just before we did, so. We didn’t normally do someone else’s material because we were such avid writers, ourselves, but for the beginning of the album, Billion Dollar Babies, and for the beginning of the Billion Dollar Babies show it seemed to be perfect!” – Neal Smith (2014)

Side one of Billion Dollar Babies could be seen more as the ‘singles’ side, while Side 2 would be more of the ghoulish side. Aside from the first 2 singles, the first side also featured the album’s 4th single, the title track. The song, “Billion Dollar Babies” was based around that classic drum intro from Neal Smith, while the song is co-credited to Alice, himself, Michael Bruce, and Rockin’ Reggie Vincent (Vinson). It is another that has remained in Alice’s live show ever since. As a single, was released in July, charting in Germany (#30) and the US (#57).

 “Rockin Reggie was a friend of our’s, used to hang out with the band; he was from Detroit originally. We would party with him a lot, and when we moved to Connecticut he would come and hang out with us. He was a good friend of Glen’s, and he was a guitar player and a singer, with kind of a Nashville influence. And he had a song, and it eventually evolved in to the song Billion Dollar Babies. So that is why he (Reginald Vincent) has a writing credit on Billion Dollar Babies. So, we worked on it at our mansion house, in Greenwich, and I had always loved the Rolling Stones intro from Charlie Watts to the song ‘[Hey You] Get Off Of My Cloud’. I thought that was very cool, and as a drummer I always used to like to write songs for drummers, because people listen to songs and think ‘that’s cool’, but if I was a drummer listening to an Alice Cooper song – what would be cool about it? And I always tried to have something special in there that would get someone’s interest. ” – NS (2014)

“Raped And Freezin”, a tale co-written by Alice and Michael Bruce was the second track on side one, and is straight up memorable rocker, with a title/subject matter that may not fly today. An interesting twist though. This is one of my favorites here.

Side one closes out with “Unfinished Sweet”, credited to Bruce, Cooper, and Neal Smith. It tells the horror of going to the dentist for some painful gum work, complete with sounds of a drill and Alice moaning in pain.

Of the many outside players and guests on the album were guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, who’d appeared on previous AC recordings, as well as fellow Phoenix player Mick Mashbir. Mashbir would eventually go on to play live on the band’s next couple of tours. Bob Dolin would play keyboards (as well as live), and numerous other guests appeared, notably Donovan Leitch swapping vocals on the title track. That Donovan vocal was recorded during sessions at Morgan Studios in London, England, which rumored to have included numerous others via a jam session. The press did report that a Marc Bolan guitar solo made it on to “Hello Hooray”, but most involved only confirm that the Donovan vocal was the Only guest appearance used from those sessions. Billion Dollar Babies also would be the last ‘band’ album produced by Bob Ezrin.

Mick Mashbir on recording on Billion Dollar Babies – “It was actually Mike Bruce that made that happen. GB was basically on strike. He didn’t want to be in the same room as Michael or Bob Ezrin and they were rehearsing for the next record, B$B. ….
I played on every track except “Elected” “Sick Things” and “Generation Landslide”. My favourite song was “No Mister Nice Guy”. I was happy with all my parts, GB was around as little as possible. We were recording in the band’s mansion and he didn’t bother to come downstairs.

The album’s third single – “No More Mr Nice Guy” opens side 2. Credited to Cooper & Bruce. In his book No More Mr Nice Guy, Michael Bruce recalls that the song had been started back around the time of making the Killer album, and that most of the song had been written by him. But lyrically it’s been fixed up to suit Alice. The track was chosen to be rush-released as a single in time for the beginning of the band’s massive tour. It would , a top 10 hit in the UK, #1 in Holland, a top 20 in a few European countries, as well as hitting #25 in the US. The song would be covered by a number of acts, notably Megadeth and Pat Boone, as well as used in a few tv shows, such as Family Guy and The Simpsons, and in the movie Dazed & Confused. I love the production on this track, the backing harmony vocals are a classic touch. From The Best Of Alice Cooper CD notes, Alice stated – “I wrote the lyrics out of anger because of how my parents were treated by some of the press. It was particularly hard because of my dad being a minister. Fact is, my parents were the only ones who knew I was a nice guy.”

All Alice Cooper singles should be up tempo and should break fast, if they are going to break at all. Therefore, we advised their management to rush out ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy'” from the album, which they are doing. – Kal Rudman, Record World.

“Sick Things” and “I Love The Dead” were the darker side of the album, with producer Bob Ezrin getting a co-writing credit on both, Both songs being slower, darker, and spookier, would be a major feature in Alice’s live show, with “I Love The Dead” being used at the show’s climax with Alice’s execution. Both tracks feature great guitar solos, and I think “I Love The Dead” is a superb ending to the album, though I am less enthused about “Sick Things”. The album’s finale was written about necrophilia, and though credited to Cooper & Ezrin, Dick Wagner would also co-write on this, without credit – “The first song we wrote together was ‘I Love The Dead’ for the Billion Dollar Babies album, but I got no credit on that either because I was told they were going to have only Alice’s name on the album and that was it, so I sold out my share of that song to them. That’s what you do when you need money, right?” -Dick Wagner (Brave Words, 2006)

Sick Things was just such a great song for us to lead in to I Love The Dead, where of course we’d cut Alice’s head off with the guillotine. And I still have the same guillotine to this day. Sick Things was just talking about necrophilia, tearing people apart and having sex with dead people.” – NS (2014)

The latter 2 tracks were connected via the piano ballad “Mary-Ann”. I think the inclusion of “Mary-Ann” wasn’t a favorable one by the entire band, with most preferring something heavier, as well as something that would be a ‘band’ song, as “Mary-Ann” was simply Alice with piano accompaniment (from someone outside the band). It would be the lone song from the album not to be featured on the ensuring tour.

“Four of us did not want “Mary Ann” on our album.   We had some killer rock songs and the best one of them should have been where ‘Mary Ann’ was. Betraying our long proven rule was a major problem, and damaging.”Dennis Dunaway (2012 Interview)

The last song recorded for Billion Dollar Babies was “Generation Landslide”. Needing one more song for the album, the band flew to the Canary Island’s and stayed at an unfinished hotel where they worked on this song as The band. It would be credited to the entire band, and featured Glen Buxton, who’s participation elsewhere on Billion Dollar Babies was said to be minimal. Alice would re-record the song for his 1981 album Special Forces, and American metal band Lizzy Borden would record an excellent version of this song on their Deal With The Devil album in 2000.

“The Alice Cooper group wrote “Generation Landslide” together from scratch.   It proved that Alice Cooper was still at our best when we were left alone.”DD

Billion Dollar Babies came in a green snake-skin wallet looking cover, a gatefold, with an inner sleeve with lyrics and band photo, as well as tear away cards of the bandmembers, which many felt the urge to tear off as the credits were on the inner gatefold behind them! Designed by Pacific Eye & Ear ( Ernie Cefalu). The package also contained a large folded ‘Billion dollar bill’ featuring the band in the middle. It was the inner sleeve photo (other side of lyrics) which would cause controversy for the band, as would be illegal to include photos of US currency –

FEDS NIX ALICE SPREAD: The Treasury Department and -the Secret Service have told Alice Cooper that it is illegal to use pictures of currency, thereby holding up plans to use a picture of Alice amid $1 million in cash on the new album `Billion Dollar Babies.” Shep Gordon, meanwhile, winged into Washington (D.C.) with a phalanx of lawyers to appeal, vowing the picture would be used. Alice’s canceled Palace Theater show, by the way, will be going on the road shortly. It’s titled after the new album. – By JOHN GIBSON

The band would go on to the biggest rock tour at the time (see below). The tour would eventually give fans the movie Good To See You Again Alice Cooper, which made a brief theatre appearance, as well as the Billion Dollar Babies Live recording, from Houston, which was included on the 2001 2CD deluxe version, as well as the 2019 Record Store Day vinyl issue.

“The biggest tour in the history of rock and roll with “The Alice Cooper Show” playing to an audience of over 820,000 people in 56 cities.” – Cash Box

Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies.” This brand new release has exploded in cites such as Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. because it is a fantastic album. They opened their record -breaking national tour last Thursday and Friday at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before 20,000 people each night. We introduced them from the stage, and I am now known as the Sixth Alice Cooper. This tour will gross 4.6 million dollars, and the second biggest tour in the history of show business, the last Rolling Stones tour, grossed 3.2 million dollars. Because of the unprecedented public demand, more shows and more cities are being added according to Ashley, and their manager, Shep Gordon (astute industry observers tell us that Shep Gordon now has to be rated as the best manager in the business, and he is spoken of in the same breath as the legendary Col. Tom Parker of Elvis Presley fame). As of now, they are booked into 60 sold -out shows in 56 cities and they will play before 820,000 people. Obviously, a tour of this magnitude deserves media attention of unprecedented magnitude and a train load of 60 press people came to Philadelphia from New York City to cover the events. Warner Brothers’ Ray Milanese and Joe Fiorentino rented a Delaware River showboat for an incredible party after the show . . – Kal Rudman, Record World

-New Alice Cooper album, “Billion Dollar Babies” is going to make believers of all who think the group is all gimmick and little talent. It’s their finest album to date, and it’s very solid, too. This is the one we’ve all been waiting for . . . – CashBox, March 17, 1973

BILLION DOLLAR BABIES – Alice Cooper – Warner Bros. BS 2685
Every time an Alice Cooper LP comes out, we claim in these pages that it’s the best they’ve done yet. And so must we still declare. Lyrically, the set is as strong as ever … “You tell me where to bite, you whet my appetite” being only one choice line. Musically, the package is clearly superior-both in melodic impact (yes, we said melodic) and arrangements. In addition to their current “Hello Hurray” and their recent “Elected,” the album contains a strong single in “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Worth every penny of it, baby!




ALICE COOPER – Live from the Astroturf

So, this is the 2015 reunion show of the actual Alice Cooper (the band) that penned and recorded all those hits (a number of which are here), and classic albums like Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle Of Love. The greatest American rock n’ roll band, ever! So, there was finally a reunion, minus original lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, who passed away in 1997. Filling in was Alice’s current solo band player Ryan Roxie, who does an excellent job. The sound on this release is amazing, considering it was in a shop in Dallas (Good Records), and not a theatre or something, so somewhat informal. The band was there to promote Dennis Dunaway’s book Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! and played this 8-song set. With Michael Bruce (guitarist) taking vocals on the opener “Caught In A Dream”, you can tell by the audience reaction when Alice comes out to join the band for “Be My Lover” and the rest. It’s a killer performance, being done by those that created these songs and know how they should sound. Check out Dennis’ bass on “Is It My Body”, the way it should sound. The show ends with “School’s Out” (surprise!), with harmonica added by Chuck Garric (Alice’s present bass player), but the band returned to perform “Elected” for the encore.

Live from the Astroturf is full of energy, and the bandmembers sound like they’re having a great time, with between song banter, drum rolls, and laughs; Alice tells a few humorous tales as well. Added here is the soundcheck instrumental performance of “Desperado”. This release (on Ear Music) is a worldwide reissue of the Record Store Day album from 2018, but has been repackaged nicely, with a different cover, inserts, vinyl variants, and all CD and LPs numbered (I got the ‘glow in the dark’ green vinyl!). An amazing addition to the Alice Cooper collection! Looking forward to watching the included Blu-Ray disc of the documentary of the whole event, later. There’s also been 2 videos released from this album…




Press info: By 1974, the Alice Cooper group had risen to the upper echelon of rock stardom… and then, parted ways. In October 2015, over 40 years later, record store owner and superfan Chris Penn convinced the original line-up to reunite for a very special performance at his record store Good Records in Dallas, Texas. Alice Cooper (vocals), Michael Bruce (guitar), Dennis Dunaway (bass) and Neal Smith (drums) were joined on stage by Alice’s current guitarist Ryan Roxie (standing in for the late Glen Buxton). A packed audience, believing they had come to Good Records for Dennis Dunaway’s ‘Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!’ book signing, were surprised to bear witness to a full-blown happening. The historic reunion show including all-time classics such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” is now becoming available for the very first time worldwide. Luckily the event was documented. “Live From The Astroturf, Alice Cooper” (edited and directed by Steven Gaddis) toured the world to the acclaim of music fans and rock journalists alike. The documentary won multiple awards for it’s coverage of the historic event. Now all Alice Cooper fans and rock music lovers across the globe can enjoy this movie as it’s included as a video bonus to this live album. Pop the popcorn, blow up the balloons, dim the lights, and crank it up!

CAUSTIC CASANOVA release 5th album – Glass Enclosed Nerve Center

Caustic Casanova hail from Washington, DC, and are releasing their 5th album – Glass Enclosed Nerve Center! The band is progressive, but with some post-punk / 90s alternative influences to go with their King Crimson influence. Described as “Stoned Psych Sludge”. The album features 5 varied tracks, a few which are pretty trippy and ‘out there’, with some interesting titles, starting off rockin’ with “Anusbis Rex”, followed by the single “Lodestar”, and ending in the 22+ minute “Bull Moose Against The Sky”. Colorful cover-art by Scott Partridge. (*check out press info below for more info and to order).

On their fifth album, the brain-frying “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center”, Washington, DC-based riffonauts CAUSTIC CASANOVA pull an expansive range of sounds into their tight, hyperkinetic core – and explode them outward in a kaleidoscope of progressive heavy rock exuberance.

In ferocious opposition to playing music in an established style that might give listeners a way in but can narrow down what’s allowable, CAUSTIC CASANOVA plant their flag dramatically on the side of genre-agnostic exploration. Simply put, the Americans allow each song to go wherever the hell it wants (or needs) to head towards.

Formed in 2005 as the trio consisting of drummer and vocalist Stefanie Zaekner, bass-player and singer Francis Beringer, and guitarist Andrew Yonki, CAUSTIC CASANOVA‘s chose a path to constantly refine their thrillingly unpredictable music, which careens from sardonic noise rock to proggy sludge in the vein of BARONESS, RED FANG, and TORCHE, while also taking inspiration from the gargantuan heft of MELVINS to BORIS, and fleet guitar heroics with flashes of dark-hued post-punk.

After a number of proudly DIY releases, CAUSTIC CASANOVA caught the attention of KYLESA, who released the band’s third full-length “Breaks” through their own label. Having brought their pure rock fury to the riff-thirsty masses on more than a dozen full and regional US tours, CAUSTIC CASANOVA applied their road-honed chops to bang out a heavier, more joyously swaggering set of righteous songs for 2019’s triumphant album “God How I Envy the Deaf”.

With the addition of second guitarist Jake Kimberley in 2019, the now-quartet set their sights on making the most adventurous and prog-rock CAUSTIC CASANOVA record yet. “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center” underscores all their strengths, while making the most of the expanded line-up that opened up their sound to new possibilities. Beringer’s reedy, melodic bass dances heavily alongside the two frying guitars to empower a trio of lead voices. Zaenker’s percussion is powerfully inventive across the album’s five expansive songs, sounding equally at home in swinging, Bill Ward stomp as in math-rock jitteriness.

Long-time travelers in CAUSTIC CASANOVA‘s orbit will doubtless find “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center” an exhilarating welcome back that includes the ambitiously sprawling, 22-minute epic ‘Bull Moose against the Sky’ which occupies the album’s entire B-side. Yet those who are new to the massive sound of these raging psychedelic sludge buffaloes will find outstanding songcraft and rich storytelling that is worth every second and countless repeat spins. Three, two, one… go!

1. Anubis Rex
2. Lodestar
3. A Bailar Con Cuarentena
4. Shrouded Coconut
5. Bull Moose against the Sky

Francis Beringer – vocals, bass
Stefanie Zænker – vocals, drums, percussion
Andrew Yonki – guitar
Jake Kimberley – guitar

Pre-sale link

Available formats
“Glass Enclosed Nerve Center” is available as Digi-sleeve CD, on transparent blue vinyl, and as colored vinyl LP.








ROBERT TEPPER to release new single & album

Singer/Songwriter Robert Tepper to release new single, album on July 30th

On Saturday July 30th, Robert Tepper will be releasing a new album entitled Feels Like Monday. Tepper, 72, will be sharing this release via Facebook Live, a first for the rock musician. Kendee Hughes of Kendee Hughes Productions will be overseeing the event.

“Robert will simultaneously release the music video for the single “Feels Like Monday,” and the album of the same name.” Kendee said. “It’ll be a virtual viewing party for his fans. Robert will perform live, answer some fan questions, and tell folks about what he’s got coming up.”

Robert will be supporting his new album Feels Like Monday with singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Cameron and a small semi-acoustic ensemble. He is performing his hits along with new music in concerts and listening rooms across the US in 2022.

For more information visit roberttepper.net

About Robert Tepper:

Robert Tepper is a singer/songwriter who lives in Los Angeles, CA. He is best known for the 1986 hit song “No Easy Way Out” as heard on the Rocky IV soundtrack, as well as the 1980 hit “Into the Night” that he penned with singer Benny Mardones. He also wrote and performed “Angel of the City” for Stallone‘s 1986 action film, Cobra, and wrote the Pat Benatar hit “Le Bel Age”, from 1986. His latest album is 2019’s Better Than The Rest.


DIRTY HONEY – California Dreamin’ Tour dates

Dorothy and Mac Saturn will be Special Guests.

Having recently wrapped up the massively successful Young Guns tour that Bass Magazine called “a co-headline tour of two of the greatest modern-day rock bands,” today DIRTY HONEY announces “The California Dreamin’ Tour.  ” The 28-date, North American headline trek will also see the band play a handful of major festivals and radio shows and include their first tour of Canada.  “The California Dreamin’ Tour” will launch on Thursday, August 25,  at Waterfest in Oshkosh, WI, and wrap at the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, CA, on October 9.  Fellow Los Angeles rock band Dorothy will join the tour in Portland, OR on September 7 as direct support, and Detroit rockers Mac Saturn will open the shows on all dates. Go HERE for all ticket purchasing information.

“This tour is a statement tour, and the statement is that ‘Rock is alive and well,’ and three bands are heading out to prove that – Dirty Honey, Dorothy, and newcomers Mac Saturn,” said guitarist John Notto.  “Get your ticket and get your ass out here.”  

“While this will be our first tour of Canada,” vocalist Marc LaBelle added, “we’ve played a handful of shows there and were floored by the reception.   Canada definitely has a very strong appetite for rock’n’roll, and we’re coming to feed the fire.” 

Although this is their first proper Canadian tour, Dirty Honey is no stranger to the Great White North.  Dirty Honey’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” hit #7 Active Rock in Canada, and their second single, “Rollin’ 7s,” peaked at #5 on the same chart.  And this past March, Dirty Honey co-headlined a show with Mammoth WVH in Toronto and has previously played in Canada with Slash and Miles Kennedy/Alter Bridge and at Heavy MTL in 2019.

Just before the “California Dreamin’ Tour” kick-off, Dirty Honey will make it’s UK/European debut with a 29-city run.  The itinerary will include a handful of headline club dates, slots on major summer festivals, including the UK’s Download Festival, Switzerland’s Rock The Ring, Hellfest in France, and Belgium’s Graspop, playing stadiums with Guns N’ Roses and KISS, and theaters with Rival Sons. 

The dates for Dirty Honey’s “California Dreamin’ Tour” are as follows:
25  Waterfest, Leach Amphitheater, Oshkosh, WI*
26  Fine Line, Minneapolis, MN*
27  Fargo Brewing Co., Fargo, ND*
29  The Park Theatre, Winnipeg, MB*
31  Louis’, Saskatoon, SK*

2  Starlite Room Edmonton, AB*
3  Commonwealth, Calgary, AB*

5  Rickshaw, Vancouver, BC*
7  Revolution Hall, Portland, OR^
8  The Neptune, Seattle, WA^
9  Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA^
11  The Pub Station, Billings, MT^
13  Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE^
14  Val Air Ballroom, Des Moines, IA^
16  House of Blues, Cleveland, OH^
17  Del Lago Casino, Waterloo, NY@
19  Club Soda, Montreal, QC*
21  HMAC, Harrisburg, PA^
24  Pine Knob, WRIF Radio Show, Detroit, MI+
25  Louder Than Life, Louisville, KY+
27  The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI^
28  The Forge, Joliet, IL^
30  Apollo Theatre AC, Belvidere  , IL^

1  Red Flag, St. Louis, MO^
2  TempleLive, Fort Smith, AR^
5  Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ^
7  The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA^
9  Aftershock Festival, Sacramento, CA+
* Mac Saturn will support
@ Dorothy will support
^ Mac Saturn and Dorothy will support
+ Festival date

Band bio / press, 2021:
Some musicians take a while to build an audience and connect with fans. For the Los Angeles-based quartet Dirty Honey, success came right out of the gate.  Released in March 2019, the band’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” became the first song by an unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart. Their second single, “Rolling 7s,” went into the Top 5 and was still headed up when COVID changed everything.  That same year, Dirty Honey opened for The Who, Guns ’N Roses, Slash, and Alter Bridge and was the “do-not-miss-band” at major rock festivals such as Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, Heavy MTL, and Epicenter.  On its first U.S. headline tour in January and February 2020, the band sold out every date. When it came time to record its self-titled full-length debut album, the band—vocalist Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone—wasn’t about to mess with what was already working. Teaming up with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), who also produced the band’s 2019 self-titled EP, Dirty Honey again captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound. “As a guitarist, I’m always inspired by the everlasting pursuit of the perfect riff,” says Notto. “I also wanted to extend the artistic statement that we had already made. We weren’t looking to sound different, or prove our growth, necessarily. It was more about, ‘Oh, you thought that was good? Hold my beer.'” “Because of the pandemic,” added drummer Coverstone, “we had a lot more time to write and prepare, which was great.  It meant that we were able to workshop the songs a lot more, and I think it really made a difference.” Dirty Honey’s album indeed builds on the band’s output to date, with airtight songwriting that plays up their strengths:  sexy, bluesy, nasty rock’n’roll, melodic hard rock, and soulful 70s blues-rock.  On “The Wire,” LaBelle reaffirms his status as one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists, while “Another Last Time” is a raunchy, timeless ballad about a toxic relationship that you just can’t stop saying goodbye to.  “Tied Up” and the album’s lead single “California Dreamin,’’ both feature smoking guitar solos bookended by massive riffs and hooks.  “‘California Dreaming’ was the last song we wrote,” said bassist Justin Smolian.  “We finished it about two weeks before we recorded it, so the song was still so new, and we were trying out different things, so every take was a little different.  But there was that one where we just captured it, and it was magic.” Although each band member started playing music as kids—at the age of eight, Notto’s parents even bought him a red-and-white Stratocaster—each one brings eclectic influences to Dirty Honey’s sound.  For example, drummer Coverstone has studied with jazz and L.A. session drummers but loves heavy metal; Notto grew up listening to ’70s funk and R&B as well as rock ‘n’ roll, and bassist Smolian has a bachelor of music in classical guitar and loves Tom Petty and The Beach Boys.  LaBelle meanwhile, takes cues from his songwriting idols (to name a few, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and the late Chris Cornell) when coming up with lyrics. As a result, the songs on the Dirty Honey album hint at life’s ebbs and flows—shattering heartbreak, romantic connection, intense soul-searching—while giving listeners space to draw their own conclusions.   “Sometimes, if you just let lyrics pass behind your ears, they sound like cool shit is being said,” LaBelle says. “And then once you dive in, you realize, ‘Oh, that’s really thoughtful.’ But it still doesn’t have a meaning that’s easy to pinpoint. There’s an overarching idea that is really cool, but it’s not necessarily on-the-nose.” Although the Dirty Honey album may sound effortless, its genesis had a bumpy start. The day before the band members were due to fly to Australia to track the album, Los Angeles entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling was off the table. However, Dirty Honey was still eager to work with DiDia, so they devised a Plan B: recording the full-length in a Los Angeles studio with one of DiDia’s long-time engineers, and the producer beamed into the proceedings via the magic of modern technology. “He was able to listen to what we were laying down in real-time, through this app,” says LaBelle. It was like he was in the room with us. It was surprisingly seamless the way it all went down.” Having to switch gears delayed the start of recording slightly, although this extra time ended up being a boon. Dirty Honey rented a rehearsal space and demoed the album’s songs in advance, meaning the tracks were in good shape when DiDia came onboard. Notto mixed and recorded these workshopped tracks himself, which helped him rediscover one of Dirty Honey’s biggest strengths: being well-rehearsed while not over polishing their work. “I’ve learned just a little bit more about what people might mean when they say, magic—you know, ‘This one has the magic,'” he says. “We would do two and three different demos of a song, so there would be a few versions. On a few occasions, the version that people kept going back to was the sloppiest, if you look at it from a performance standpoint.” LaBelle agrees. “It’s just about getting the performance right and not thinking about it too much. I never like to be perfect in the studio. None of the stuff that I really liked as a kid was. I don’t really see myself getting away from that too much in the future just because I think you lose the soul if you do it too many times, if it’s too perfect.” Notto also admits that the creative process isn’t necessarily always all fun and games. But for him and the rest of Dirty Honey, pushing through those tough times and coming out stronger on the other side is worth it. “When you finally come through on those moments, that’s where the real magic comes in,” he says. “What makes all of our songs fun to play and listen to is we don’t allow ourselves to stop short of getting the best possible results out of each one of them.”
Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album was released on April 23, 2021, debuted at #2 on the Hard Rock Albums Chart, and the album’s first single, “California Dreamin’,” sailed into the Top 15.  As a nod to the many people who come to California chasing a dream, the song’s music video, directed by APLUSFILMZ’ Scott Fleishman, took the viewer on several trips through a magical doorway, not to the glitz and glamour, but to the darker sides of the Golden State.  That summer, the band went out on a nine-week tour as Main Support for The Black Crowes’ “Shake Your Money Maker” U.S tour, receiving glowing reviews and standing ovations at the majority of the tour’s shows – not bad for a still-breaking opening act.  Dirty Honey began 2022 with a special performance of the Prince classic, “Let’s Go Crazy,” shot on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 frozen lakes, that kicked off TNT’s New Year’s Day broadcast of the National Hockey Winter Classic.  On February 20, the band headed out on the Young Guns tour, a 34-city, co-headline tour with Mammoth WVH, with both bands firmly intent on proving that rock’n’roll is very much alive and well.  Dirty Honey’s new single, “Another Last Time,” was released on February 25, accompanied by a captivating, real-time, “one-take” music video, that plays out as an unbroken ribbon of storytelling.

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/dirtyhoneyb… Twitter – https://twitter.com/DirtyHoneyBand Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DirtyHoneyMu… Website – https://www.dirtyhoney.com/

JOE BOUCHARD to release American Rocker

Joe Bouchard’s new album will be ready June 3.

From http://www.joebouchard.com : This is the strongest album yet, you won’t be disappointed! Coming soon on RockHeart Records dist. by Deko Entertainment.  The first single will be the hard rockin’ MY WAY IS THE HIGHWAY that will be out on April 29, 2022.


Blue Coupe – (Joe & Albert Bouchard and Dennis Dunaway) have announced shows in July, including one at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo July 21. Check out the band’s facebook page for announcements – https://www.facebook.com/blue.coupe.rocks


PHIL NARO – 2 Bands, 2 New singles debut in past week

Rochester born singer Phil Naro had a very busy and successful career fronting a number of bands, notably Talas. Sadly Phil passed last May after battling cancer. Phil also was a part of a number of tribute acts, such as Ozone Baby (Led Zeppelin), as well as worked with Classic Albums Live and the Platinum Rock All-Stars. In 2009 Phil won a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance of the theme song to the animated TV show “6Teen”. Phil kept busy right til the end, finishing 2 albums. Phil was a great talent and a classy guy, who was always friendly and just seemed happy performing. Billy Sheehan once described Phil as “the best attitude singer” he knew.

Sheehan would reform Talas with Phil 5 years ago, and play a number of shows. They would also sign a record deal with Metal Blade Records and record a new Talas studio album just prior to Phil’s passing. It is the first Talas studio album since 1982. Phil joined Talas after that, singing on the band’s 1984 Live Speed On Ice, before eventually moving on to numerous short lived gigs like Coney Hatch, Naro, Blood Red Flower, 24K,…. The first single from the forthcoming Talas album is “Inner Mounting Flame”; a thundering hard rocker in classic Talas form which Sheehan describes as – “a bombastic, high-speed chaos of adrenaline that we would often use as our opening song at the live TALAS shows in 1985. We stayed close to the original arrangement – this was such a blast to record, and Phil sang his ass off on it. The song title came from a very famous fusion bands album title (The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Inner Mounting Flame), and was our take on what that flame might be about.” The song is produced by Billy Sheehan, Russ Mackay, Scott Bush and Talas – which also consists of drummer Mark Miller, and new addition Kire Najdovski on guitar. As a fan of Talas, this track simply an amazing surprise – not just getting to finally hear it, but the fact that it is so energetic, and so well performed and produced. Phil sounds better than ever on it, so I am really looking forward to the rest of the album. There should be more news soon. Check out the Talas V2 Facebook group for updates – https://www.facebook.com/talasv2

Within days of watching the new Talas clip repeatedly there came a press release and Another video release featuring Phil Naro for the first single from the forthcoming LIPS TURN BLUE album. Lips Turn Blue is the band formerly known as DDRIVE, along with former Black Sheep / Lou Gramm guitarist Don Mancuso, as well as keyboardist Eric Bieber, bassist Mike Mullane, and drummer Roy Stein. DDrive had released 2 full albums plus a mini-album over the years but changed the name for this newest recording (see Japanese metal band D_Drive).

The first single is “Just Push”, an easily likeable aor rock track, with a great chorus, a bit of funky guitar, and well placed keys. Phil sounds excellent on this one too. It’s a fun upbeat tune, and is the first of a few singles from LTB’s album, The band signed to MIG Records (Europe), who will release the album in May, a year after Phil Naro’s passing. as well as LTB’s next one that has already been started, and will feature new singer Iggy Marino.  https://m.facebook.com/Lips-Turn-Blue

More on Lips Turn Blue in a future post…. But check out Mitch Lafon’s interview with Don Mancuso [below] for some insight and news.  www.Lipsturnblue.com

Phil can also be heard on Cactus’ Tightrope album from 2021, as he co-wrote and sang on the track “Wear It Out”. One can spend hours going through Youtube checking out all the albums and projects Phil was a part of, some great stuff to be discovered there.


Story Behind The Album Cover : Grand Funk’s Shinin’ On

Released in March of 1974 – Shinin’ On is one of my favorite Grand Funk albums! Shinin’ On is known for including the band’s #1 hit single – “The Loco-Motion”, the classic title track [love that organ solo], And for the unique 3D cover! Anyone who has seen this cover in it’s original LP form, knows it came with a 3D cover & tear away 3D glasses, a poster, even upcoming tour dates on the inner sleeve … an amazing package. The cover / package concept & design was credited to Lynn Goldsmith and Andrew Cavaliere. Lynn worked not only as the band’s photographer, but also directed the 1973 promotional film for We’re An American Band, and created a number of other Grand Funk & Mark Farner [solo] covers,. She would also be credited on hundreds of album covers for art directing, creating, and photography by the likes of Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Ted Nugent, Patti Smith Group, Ian Hunter, and loads more in various genres.

You can find out more about Lynn’s career and her massive list of credits, and classic albums she was a part of at :

Earlier this year I had written Lynn with questions about Shinin’ On, and a few weeks back she was kind enough to reply via a video on her Facebook page. It’s a very interesting clip, detailing the album cover, and and a good bit of insight into her time with Grand Funk. Any Grand Funk fan will want to check it out. Thanks to Lynn Goldsmith for this video. [below, enjoy!]


KJ, 08/’21