Interview with Pinkerton Thugs/Ex-Unseen Vocalist/Guitarist Paul Russo By Jesse Striewski

When I think of punk rock, I think of those days of my youth so long ago when anything felt possible. I think of learning Clash songs on my first bass in my old bedroom, and getting together with a bunch of kids to make noise in some random garage. And I think of my first “real” taste of freedom, going to shows with my friends. One early show in particular that will always stand out for me was in the summer of ’99, when a group of friends and I hoped into a beat up old Buick and drove to St. Pete to catch The Casualties play along with The Unseen and Violent Society in direct support. I was both blown away and inspired as I watched these guys on stage – who weren’t really all that much older than I was at the time – doing something that seemed so relatable, so attainable to me.

It’s impossible to recall those days without thinking of the impact bands like The Unseen – lead at the time by vocalist/guitarist Paul Russo – had on me back then. Russo would ultimately leave The Unseen in 2003, eventually returning to another group he has been a part of (off and on) since his early days with his former band, The Pinkerton Thugs, who he is back playing with today (when he’s not busy being a family man). And while I have not seen him again since that show so long ago (though I have seen The Unseen several times since), I have kept up with him on social media, occasionally even corresponding with him from time to time, which is what finally lead to us sitting down and talking over the phone for an “official” interview this past Friday evening. What transpired was a candid, hour-long conversation that was both enlightening, and as natural as catching up with a long lost friend.

I wanted to start with Russo’s (slightly muddled) roots right off the bat, and asked if he’d clarify the foundations of each of his early bands. He tells me; “We grew up together as kids long before we ever started The Unseen. We all started discovering punk rock around the same time, and of course fell in love with it. When my parents got divorced, I moved away from Massachusetts to Maine, and when I got up there – this would’ve been the early to mid-’90s – there was maybe one or two other kids who gravitated towards the scene, and therefore I gravitated towards them, too. And that was Micah and James of The Pinkerton Thugs. So technically I started The Pinkerton Thugs with those guys before I joined The Unseen. Then briefly after The Pinkerton Thugs started, the guys from The Unseen called me up and asked me to join after their previous singer, Marc Carlson, ended up leaving. So for awhile there, I was kind of pulling double-duty, living in Maine playing with The Pinkerton Thugs, then on the weekends catching the Greyhound bus to go play with The Unseen down in Mass.”

He further clarifies; “Actually, I was originally asked to join The Unseen as just a guitarist, because (Unseen guitarist) Scott had just gotten sent away by his parents to some boot camp thing for the summer. Then when he got back in the fall, we decided, ‘hey, this is working out pretty good,’ and that’s how the ‘core’ lineup of myself, Mark, Tripp, and Scott really all came together. And I feel like Scott was way further along musically than the rest of us; he was like, busting out solos, and at that point I only knew a few chords! (Laughs).”

One thing I always found so unique about The Unseen was their ability to shift around on instruments so flawlessly, not only in the studio, but on stage as well. I asked Russo what lead to this, and he explained; “I got fairly decent, fairly quick at a few different instruments. Once I put myself up to task, I managed to learn guitar, bass, and drums. And I think even Mark will tell you he’s not the best drummer even when he’s not singing (Laughs). But I think that’s what was kind of a cool aspect about The Unseen, there really wan’t much ego involved back then. If the song needed me on drums, I’d hop behind the drumkit; if it needed me on guitar or even just vocals, than that’s what I’d do. We almost had two sets back then, where we’d start out with me singing and playing guitar, then I’d jump behind the drums and Mark would come out front and sing some songs. It was almost kind of like seeing two different bands, which I think made it more interesting, and I don’t think too many people were used to seeing that kind of thing in those days. I don’t know if it’s that I get bored easily, or just loving playing music, but I love playing other instruments as well.”

Aside from The Unseen and Pinkerton Thugs, Russo has lent his talents in brief stints with such other notable punk bands as Blanks 77 (on drums) and Anti-Flag (on bass). He elaborated to me just how these came about; “Having played so many shows with Blanks 77 while I was with The Unseen, they had noted that I could play drums, and asked me to fill in when they needed a drummer. And I believe it was around the same time that I played bass with Anti-Flag as well, which I did for one tour after Andy had originally left the band. I basically just did those for fun, since I hated sitting around at home, and they needed me to do it, so I was just like, “hell yeah, let’s get on the road!” (Laughs). But if you’ve ever listened to Anti-Flag, you know they’re not the easiest bass lines, and I had like two weeks to learn them before their upcoming tour that was already booked. So Justin (Sane, Anti-Flag frontman) actually recorded himself using an old camcorder playing all the bass lines, and gave me a tape of it for me to learn the songs!”

As far as why Russo would ultimately leave The Unseen, he tells me; “The truth of it is, for awhile, I had become sort of disillusioned, not only with the direction of the band, but sort of with punk rock in general. Maybe I came to the table far too idealistic, but I definitely started feeling like I didn’t know why I was doing it anymore. Even though I loved those guys and the music, I was tired, and definitely not participating in the band as much and giving it 100 percent, and it just came to a point where we all agreed, this isn’t working anymore, let’s try something else.” Russo maintains he is still friends with his former band mates in The Unseen, and informs me; “I still love those guys like brothers, and I’m SO proud what they’ve done with the band since then. I’ve even jumped on stage with them here and there over the years for a song or two, so there’s no ill will there at all.”

Russo also revealed to me how the song he struggles with the most from his days with The Unseen is the last track he ever wrote while still in the band (and only one of his to appear on their 2003 album, Explode), “Tsunami Suicide.” “That song came from a really hard time for me, and not many people know this – and actually I don’t think the other guys in the band even knew this – but I had actually written a full album’s worth of material for that record. But by that time, I wasn’t really writing from the heart anymore, or writing from a place of “anger” or “truth” anymore. The best way I can describe it, is on a certain level at that point, I kind of knew what to write and what to say to make the kids throw their hands up and chant the chorus, and just go through the motions. And even though kids might’ve enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. I felt like I was being cheap, or cheating myself even. So what I ended up doing was taking all thirteen songs or whatever, and just completely throwing them out. And in that moment, between that and some other things going on in my personal life at the time, I really just felt like killing myself. And that’s where the song “Tsunami Suicide” came from.”

Of course we here at Rewind It Magazine have never been known for in-depth political pieces by any means (we try to stick with what we know and keep things entertainment related as much as possible). But I had to at least touch upon how Russo views the punk rock scene back then, vs. what it has become today, which, some might argue does not leave much room for open-mindedness, and has in many ways even become a symbol for the very conformity it once stood against so adamantly. He explained his thoughts on this to me; “I think objectively, the punk scene is definitely different. And to be fair, I think someone who was around in ’77 might have said the same thing about the scene in ’97. Things change, people come in, and people go out, that’s sort of the natural order of it. I would never sit here and say ‘punk’s dead’ just because it’s not the same scene that I used to know…that’s bullshit. Right now there’s a kid in a basement somewhere putting on his first punk record getting his mind blown and ready to create something new, and thank the universe for that.”

He continues; “But…that being said, I will also say I think it has definitely gotten a lot more close-minded in the scene. I just think that when people stop preaching and putting each other in these little boxes with labels on them and start listening to each other, it’s always better. The more open-minded people are to things, makes for a better scene. And it’s hard, because people can misconstrue things so easily today, not only in just the scene, but in everyday life now, too. No matter what it is, if you criticize one side of something, people automatically assume you’re on the other side. And that is something that definitely didn’t happen twenty years ago; if we’re talking politically, anyone was free to criticize the Republicans AND the Democrats, and anyone else in between equally. And I think that’s where a lot of that disillusionment I mentioned earlier came from; after a while of just fighting with each other, and getting falling down drunk and puking all the time, it was like, ‘where are all of the ideas?’ We could’ve just been jocks at a frat house doing the same thing at that point, you know?”

Wanting to end our conversation on a bit of a higher note, I informed Russo how my own former band, Random Tragedies, once covered the anthemic Unseen track “Are We Dead Yet,” which I had always viewed as the punk rock equivalent to “Eye of the Tiger.” I asked Russo how he felt of this comparison, and his immediate response was, “I like that! You know, I think you could probably take that metaphor and stretch it out over most songs I’ve ever written (Laughs). Even when I’ve written songs that might have some negative aspects to them, I’ve always wanted people to get some sort of hope or empowerment from them like I did with the music I listened to growing up. I remember some kid coming up to me after a show we had did very early on in Cleveland, and telling me how a song I wrote really inspired him and changed his life, and after that, I was just hooked. I really feel that punk is one of the strongest sub-genres of rock and roll ever, and always will be.”

And as far as new music? Russo assures me; “The only thing that’s really holding The Pinkerton Thugs back and keeping us from putting out a new record is the stupid pandemic. That being said, the second we’re able to, we’re going to get together and release another record. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.” Russo says the best way to keep up with what he’s doing these days is to simply follow The Pinkerton Thugs’ Facebook page, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/thepinkertonthugs

Interview with Actress Linnea Quigley By Jesse Striewski

Scream queens are hardly anything new for us here at Rewind It Magazine; as some of you may recall, we recently spoke with the likes of Dee Wallace and Deborah Voorhees. Linnea Quigley was not only a force to be reckoned with back in her ’80s heyday, she’s still at the top of the line in the B-movie world to this very day. She’s currently working on a documentary about film extras (which we’ll get into shortly), and she’s still a big advocate for animals, which was evidenced in our recent phone conversation last week, which was just slightly delayed in part to one of her many dogs running off outside of her California home (something I could hardly get upset over, being a pet parent myself!).

Being that our conversation took place so close to Christmas, one of the first things we spoke about was her appearance in the 1984 holiday slasher, Silent Night Deadly Night. Looking back on it, she reflected to me; “I thought it was great! I loved how everyone was so up in arms over it, and Siskel & Ebert were plugging it even though they thought it was horrible! Everyone was saying how terrible it was, which of course made people only want to see it more (Laughs)!” I also inquired if she was a fan of the horror genre prior to such early roles, to which she said;”I grew up on horror! I think I was drawn to it, and it was drawn to me, so it was like, a match made in hell, right?!”

One specific thing I had always wondered about her scene in Silent Night…, was whether or not she was actually exposed directly to the frigid elements of the Utah winter it was filmed in (when she answers the door wearing, well…next to nothing). She tells me; “Oh yeah, I was completely exposed, and it was really, really cold! I was from the valley, which is not very cold at all, so I was like…freezing (laughs)! And then (in the next scene) where they put me up on the antlers, the door had been broken open, so I was still exposed! It wasn’t like, contained or anything where they actually have heaters or something, like they would probably have now. Nobody’s asked that before though, so that’s a good question!”

Silent Night… was merely the first of several films Quigley appeared in that would later go on to spawn franchises (no doubt due to her being a good luck charm, an observation she more than approved of), including her follow up film, the now-cult classic 1985 horror/comedy, The Return of the Living Dead. With the zombie market just a tad oversaturated these days, I asked Quigley how she felt it holds up in comparison today. She replied; “I think it holds up really well! I’m always surprised, I get new people at conventions and shows all the time that love that movie, like it’s a brand new movie! But it doesn’t age, which I think is really cool. We should’ve known then (late director) Dan O’Bannon was a man to be reckoned with!”

With films like Return… and Night of the Demons largely sporting metal and punk soundtracks, I wondered how much of a fan of that music Quigley was herself. She states; “Oh yeah, I loved all the punk bands and rock n’ roll stuff at the time. I was a big fan of music, I think that’s why I got into it. But I didn’t want to be a groupie, I wanted to be IN the band! (laughs).” And indeed Quigley would, putting together an all girl-group, The Skirts, back in the day. With very little information available on the band, I asked her to tell me a little about them. She says; “The Skirts were a band of girls I formed; I played guitar, sang, and wrote songs in it. We played a lot of venues, and we even recorded some. A lot of my music was actually used in the movies I did, or movies other people did.”

Aside from horror, Quigley has done the occasional comedy, including the 1981 Cheech & Chong stoner romp, Nice Dreams. Of course I had to know how this transpired. She informed me; “My agent at the time sent me to go in for an audition for a Cheech & Chong film. So I went in, and Cheech was actually in there! I was making him laugh, playing guitar, and he said to play him something. So I played like two notes and said it was the Charlie’s Angels theme, and he hired the whole band right then and there. We were so excited!”

I also wanted to know how her (brief) appearance in 1988’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, came about. She explains; “My then-fiance was the special effects guy on the film, and he brought it up to them to have me in that scene in Freddy’s chest for that short little, basically “cameo” scene. That same day he actually brought the ring out and proposed to me after I came out of Freddy’s chest!”

Quigley assured me she has plenty in the works for 2021, stating; “I’m working on a lot of stuff on my YouTube channel, like a reality show. And I’m doing a documentary right now called Extras…which will be all about, well, movie extras! Hopefully that will be out by February; I’ve been lucky to have been staying so busy all year, even with Covid.”

Interview with Actor Michael C. Maronna By Jesse Striewski

Chances are if you grew up in the ’90s, you’ll remember Michael C. Maronna as “Big Pete” on Nickelodeon’s oddball hit, The Adventures of Pete & Pete. He also played Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) older brother Jeff in the first two Home Alone films. After appearing in a few more films (including 2002’s Slackers – which we’ll get back to shortly), Maronna moved to a more behind-the-scenes role as electrician, where he has worked on such films as Be Kind Rewind (2008), and Men in Black 3 (2012), as well as a host of TV shows. He also currently hosts a podcast, The Adventures of Danny and Mike, with former Pete & Pete co-star Danny Tamberelli (which can be found at dannyandmike.com, as well as on various podcast apps).

Recently, Maronna allowed me to graciously pick his brain (just a bit). One of the first things I wanted to ask him was if he actually knew at the time what a unique pop culture phenomenon he was involved with during Pete & Pete’s original run. He tells me; “I’m not sure I realized I was involved with such a thing at the time, I was just busy soaking up new music, books, films, photography, etc. I didn’t have cable TV growing up – we only got it after Pete & Pete went into series production. So we used to go down the block on Sunday nights to my sister’s friend’s house to watch the first 60-second episodes air in between a couple of other Nickelodeon shows.”

I of course wanted to know what it was like filming the original Home Alone, too. He explains; “I remember Chicago and the vast amounts of snow in the winter, eating lots of deep-dish pizza, mostly hanging out with Angela Goethals (who played Linnie), and playing video games a bunch. I took a library book out of the Chicago Public Library about the American Civil War and I still have it somewhere!”

As far as how he views the film today, Maronna says; “I haven’t watched Home Alone in a very long time. My son is 4 years old, so he’s just a little too young for it still. Probably the next time I watch it will be with him, though. It was a confluence of good factors (script, direction, actors, style) that added up to a good (if violent) family Christmas film.”

I was also curious how he felt about it’s 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, as well as it’s subsequent sequels, to which he says; “Lost in New York is a different movie, about the city being a character in the film. It’s more of an homage to ’80s NYC movies like After Hours or Big, with the Home Alone structure overlaid onto that. I haven’t seen any of the other sequels.”

If you’ve ever seen the film Slackers, you know Maronna has one, er… ‘standout’ scene to say the least (I won’t go any further into detail, just watch the film if you haven’t already!) that I had to ask him about. He informs me; “Dewey Nicks directed Slackers, and the sock scene was his idea. Basically I think he was trying to come up with something outrageous, and I said ‘yes’ to it. A guy approached me at the wrap party saying, “A lot of people have mistaken me for you,” and identified himself as the penis puppeteer, a.k.a. the ‘stunt’ performer!”

And of course I had to ask just how he made the transition to electrician. He explains; “I was always interested in the technical aspects of film production and spent my whole life on sets, whether film, TV show, or commercials. I have worked in the theater as well and have family in the stage business but it didn’t hold the same allure for me. On Pete & Pete, production was on location and shot on 16mm film, as opposed to a television show shot on videotape in a studio. This afforded me a lot of opportunities to get to know the process and the equipment and to ask the crew a lot of questions. After the first season of half-hour episodes, the grips gave me a tool belt with some tools as a wrap gift. It was very sweet. A couple of seasons later, I just kept asking questions of the gaffer and eventually he offered me a job after the show ended. My first proper electric job was on a film called Six Ways To Sunday. I auditioned for the lead role and ended up driving the electric truck for it. A lot of crew from Pete & Pete worked on the job so it was a nice transition. The pandemic shutdown put a lot of shows on hold for a few months but I’ve been back to work for a while. Currently I’m working on Dickinson season 3, starring Toby Huss (Artie the Strongest Man in the World of Pete & Pete fame and many other great roles).”

You can follow Maronna on various social media platforms, and don’t forget to check out his podcast with former Pete & Pete co-star Danny Tamberelli!

Interview with Musician/Songwriter Diana Rein By Jesse Striewski

Diana Rein is truly one of those rare, multi-talented threats worth taking note of; not only is she an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist, she’s also a former child actress who you might just remember as Kevin McCallister’s older cousin, Sondra, in 1990’s Home Alone, and it’s 1992 follow up, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

But more on that later. Rein’s main focus these days is without a doubt her music (her last professional acting credit was actually in 2011), and when I spoke to her via phone this past week, it was apparent that’s where her passion truly lies.

Of course being a musician in 2020 is no easy feat, so one of the first things I wanted to know was how she’s handled being a musician throughout the pandemic. Rein tells me; “I think I was actually in Virginia when I decided to cancel the rest of my first tour when things started getting really bad earlier this year. Before I went on the tour, my life was at home with my 8-year-old, doing music, social media, and recording from home. So I’m kind of back to doing that again, and that’s okay for me. I can still feel like I can create a reach where not being on tour isn’t like a total detriment though, so that’s nice.”

Rein’s third solo album, Queen of my Castle, has been out since last year. I inquired how she felt it held up compared to her previous work, to which she replied; “It was my first album with the label Gulf Coast Records, who were just starting out, so that kind of gave it a nice little push. A lot of people seem to still love it, but I’m also in a different mind space now because of all that’s happened since then, and I’m writing new music right now, too. It was going so well on my first tour, getting such a good response, so it’s just such an absolute shame that I got cut short of that experience.”

However, Rein does inform me she has been working on new material since then; “I came back and was learning more of the technical stuff of creating music from home for a couple of months. Then I took out my acoustic guitar and starting writing for about two weeks before I took about another week and wrote lyrics to all them (around twenty total). Then I went into the process of recording, mixing, and mastering all of them from beginning to end. So we’ll see what happens with them, maybe they’ll be released as singles, or another album next year.”

I was also curious what some of Rein’s favorite go-to songs were while playing live, and her response was; “Well, there’s two that really come to mind; “Heat” from Queen of my Castle has got a really amazing riff that I love playing, and when the solo comes around its super fun. And my song “Midnight Line” has a really awesome beat, and whenever I see that coming up on my set list I get so excited! A couple of songs that aren’t my own though both happen to be Hendrix songs; “Little Wing,” which I completely get lost in more than any other song. And then “All Along the Watchtower” I usually end my shows with. Something about Hendrix, just the way he wrote, out of all of them, those two just take me to a different place. And he was probably writing from a different realm, too (laughs)!”

As far as when you might be able to catch her live for yourself, Rein explains; “There were actually some shows from this year that got phased into 2021. I think there’s some dates right now for California, Arizona, and Colorado, so there should definitely be a few if things start looking up. I don’t think it’s going to be that busy of a year for me live, but you never know! But I do think I’m going to try to stay more regional next year since things are still not yet certain.”

Of course, I had to ask Diana about her involvement in one of the biggest holiday films of all time, the previously mentioned Home Alone (and it’s first sequel). She tells me; “I cannot believe it’s been thirty years, but it just feels like it’s stood the test of time! I’m on TikTok now, and just did a recent video on there that talked about it being thirty, and showed my scene in the beginning of the first film where I say my lines to Joe Peschi (which are, “Hi,” “Yeah,” and “No!”). The response I’ve been getting has been overwhelming! There’s so many people who watch it multiple times, every year! It’s like their holiday tradition, and that makes me feel SO good that it’s still around like it is! And I didn’t know when I was eleven that it was going to be this, kind of cult-following type of film someday! John Hughes was such an amazing writer and producer (Hughes gave directorial duties at the time to newcomer, Chris Columbus), and I’m just SO grateful to have had a small part in his history.”

And with Christmas being just next week, I wondered what some of Rein’s own traditions might be. She tells me; “Well, I was never one for traditions, but I’m starting a new one this year. My dog Roxy just passed away on November 30, and I’m getting little personalized oranaments made for him, our other dog and cat, and ones for my husband and son. So I’m just going to do new ones that we can add to our tree every year from now on.”

You can keep up with all of Rein’s endeavors at dianarein.com, as well as follow her on all the major social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming, thirty-year anniversary piece on Home Alone; expect it to drop early this week!

Interview with L.A. Guns Drummer Steve Riley By Jesse Striewski

Earlier this year, I spoke with L.A. Guns bassist Kelly Nickels, where we discussed the band’s then-upcoming new studio album, Renegades, and why this version of the band – lead by long-time drummer Steve Riley – deserves to still use the name as much as the Tracii Guns/Philip Lewis incarnation (Riley, who still owns fifty percent of the L.A. Guns name, maintains he never left the band, but rather Lewis had instead to join up with Guns, the two of them deciding to use the name shortly after).

So rather than cover the same topics Nickels and I previously had, I decided to focus my conversation with Riley on two specific subjects; said new album, and Riley’s storied career as a rock drummer that expands as far back as the 1970’s. With Renegades having just been released on November 13, one of the first things I wanted to ask Riley when I spoke to him from his California home was just how the album’s been received so far. He tells me; “We feel great! We were originally set to release the album and start touring in March (before everything started happening), but when we found out everything was going to be postponed until at least next year, we had to go into another mode, so we had to just release a single every couple of months or so. But now that the entire album’s out we feel so good…we just couldn’t wait for everyone to hear the entire thing!”

I was also curious if Riley had a favorite track on the new album. He explains; “You know, I’m SO in to the whole thing! We picked ten songs out of forty that we had, so I really love a lot of the tracks on it. Some of my favorites though are “Well Oiled Machine,” “Crawl,” “Lost Boys,” and I like the way “You Can’t Walk Away” turned out. Our singer Kurt brought in the song “Would,” and it’s a great acoustic track. I’m really digging the way the whole thing turned out. We really made a conscientious decision to make this album true to the L.A. Guns sound, and didn’t want to stray too far from what we really are.”

As I had mentioned earlier, Riley’s career began long before he joined L.A. Guns in 1987. In the ’70s he recorded with a number of acts that didn’t quite take off before joining a revived version of Steppenwolf by the end of the decade. He explains; “I was in a bunch of one-off bands in the mid-late ’70s where we would record an album, and then the band wouldn’t be able to continue for one reason or another. Then around ’78, a couple of the original guys from Steppenwolf called and asked me if I wanted to go out on tour with them, and I did that until ’79. I was a big fan, so it was a blast going out there and playing those old Steppenwolf songs!”

A little later down the line, Riley was with the band Keel long enough to record on their 1985 effort The Right to Rock (produced by Gene Simmons) before joining up with one of my personal favorite metal bands, W.A.S.P.. I wanted to know why his time with Keel was so brief, and how he went right from them to W.A.S.P. so quickly. He explains; “I had been doing session work in the early ’80s after doing a bunch of one-offs even after Steppenwolf. One of the guys I was doing sessions work with told me to go down and audition for this band Keel. I went down, got the gig, and recorded all my tracks for the album, even doing background vocals for it with Gene! But while I was in the studio, I got a call from (W.A.S.P. frontman) Blackie Lawless, and he asked me to come by and listen to what they were doing at the time.”

He continues; I was already familar with W.A.S.P. – they were all over the magazines and getting all this press – and I had even gone to see them live here in L.A. And Blackie asked me if I wanted to join up, and told me that they were about to leave for Europe in a few weeks. I was in such a weird (but good!) predicament with the situation with Keel. So I had to make a decision, and I think I made the right call because I ended up joining W.A.S.P. and doing the world tour with them for the first album, and then recording three more albums with them. It was a hard decision because the guys in Keel are great, it was a really good set up, and I really enjoyed working with Gene (Simmons). But even the guys in Keel (I’m still great friends with them today) knew I made the right call at the time.”

Like with L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P. has had a revolving door lineup over the years, with frontman Blackie Lawless being the only constant member. So I was curious if Riley still kept in touch with Blackie (who just happens to also be the first major interviewee I ever did back in 2010). He tells me; “I hadn’t seen him for a long time after I had left W.A.S.P. since we were both so busy with our own bands. Then maybe eight or nine years after I was out of W.A.S.P., L.A. Guns did a few shows with them, and it was really great seeing him (and all those guys) again.”

And finally, considering it’s not everyday I get the chance to speak with someone who was actually involved with a Ghoulies movie, I had to ask Riley what his thoughts were looking back on recording the track “Scream Until You Like It” with W.A.S.P. for the 1987 horror/comedy film, Ghoulies II. He says; “It’s funny, I’ve been on a lot of songs that have been in movies before, but that was just a campy flick (and kind of a campy song, too!), and just a lot of fun!”

Interview with Actress/Filmmaker Deborah Voorhees By Jesse Striewski

I remember it clearly; it was around Halloween time, and I was no older than ten at best. I sneaked out of the living room into my older brother’s room, where he and a friend were watching a “Jason” flick (something I had only heard of, but had not yet seen). The exact entry they were watching, and my introduction to the series and Jason Voorhees (although technically he does not really appear in it) was Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.

I couldn’t believe what my young eyes were witnessing…the amount of graphic gore and female flesh (I’m almost positive I had seen nudity before, but not that much at once!) was almost overwhelming my senses. One such scene (and young lady) that really stood out and made a huge impression on me was the very naked/grisly demise of Tina, played by the lovely Deborah Voorhees.

After a few more roles in films such as 1985’s Appointment with Fear, and a recurring stint on the widely popular prime time TV drama Dallas, Voorhees stepped away from the spotlight to pursue work in the journalism field, and even took on some teaching jobs before her previous acting career came to light and cancel culture reared it’s ugly head over her involvement in the Friday the 13th series. But Voorhees has since re-emerged victoriously, first appearing in her own 2014 directorial debut, Billy Shakespeare, and now nearing completion of the ultimate meta Jason flick, 13 Fanboy, which she also directed and co-wrote along with Joel Paul Reisig.

One of the first things I wanted to know when I recently caught up with Voorhees from her New Mexico home, was just what it was like working with so much Friday… alumni on 13 Fanboy. She tells me; “It’s an intense thriller/slasher/classic ‘whodunit’ type film, and we have an amazing, talented cast from the series and the horror genre as a whole, including Corey Feldman, C.J. Graham, Kane Hodder, Tracie Savage, and (previous Rewind It Magazine interviewee), Dee Wallace.” She continues; “I directed, co-wrote, produced, and really was involved with every aspect of it, from appearing in it, down to the editing process.”

But even exceptional talent is not immune to the effects of 2020. When asked about a potential release date, Voorhees informs me; “Production has definitely slowed down due to Covid, and with a lot of theaters and things not being open right now, it’s been very problematic. But we’re hoping to have it out by August, which is when the next doable Friday the 13th lands. I think we’ve got a really good shot at that, so that’s what we’re aiming for right now. I feel pretty good about it though, and think everything should be wrapped up by then.”

I was also curious if Voorhees was a fan of the series prior to filming A New Beginning, and how she felt looking back on her appearance in the series today. She explains; “Beforehand I had only seen the first one, so it wasn’t until later on that I saw the other parts in the series. I think I’m most impressed with the fan base. Horror fans in general are just really terrific people, and the fans that love slasher films and Friday the 13th have been really good to me over the years, and I’m very grateful for that.” And although Part V contains a brief cameo by ’80s superstar Corey Feldman, it wasn’t until much later the two would actually meet. She tells me; “I met him before at a horror convention, but this was the first time I actually got to spend time with him during the production of 13 Fanboy.”

And I also wanted to know if there were any actors approached for 13 Fanboy who declined. She says; “Adrienne King was initially excited and wanted to do it, but after reading the script, decided it was too close to her given situation having had a stalker in the past, and just wasn’t comfortable doing it. Lar Park Lincoln (who also appears in 13 Fanboy) had one too, but everybody handles that sort of thing differently.”

Lastly, I asked Voorhees just how her path lead her back to filmmaking, and she says; “After I had finished with journalism (at the time), I had decided I wanted to ‘give back’ a little by teaching. While I enjoyed it very much, I ended up being thrown out of two high schools because a lot of people just had a problem with my past (and especially the nudity I had done), so I just decided I was going to go on my own, and that took me back to flimmaking in general. I did love teaching, but I’m happier doing what I’m doing now. It was a good experience for me, but it feels good to get back to where I belong, which was writing/telling stories, and making movies.”

Interview with Actress Dee Wallace By Jesse Striewski

By all accounts, actress Dee Wallace should need little to no introduction. In the world of horror films, she’s regarded as one of all-time top scream queens, appearing in such classics as The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983), and Critters (1986). But of her nearly two-hundred acting credits, she will perhaps forever best be known for her role in the 1982 Steven Speilberg blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Last week, I had the chance to speak with Dee over the phone from her California home, where I was honored to ask her about many of said previous films, as well as her more recent, inspiring work in the self-help field.

And I was lucky enough to catch her just at the right time; at the very start of our conversation, Wallace informs me with glee; “I’m heading out to do a film, so you’re my very last, good little thing I get to do before I hop on a plane!” I also wanted Dee to know how much I had learned about her prior to our interview while doing background research, to which she delightfully chuckled before proclaiming, “That’s funny, everybody says that! Well thank you for doing your research!”

One of the first things I wanted to know was what made Wallace decide to step into the world of motivational speaking. She tells me; “Well, when you’re called, you have to answer that call! That’s the best way I can put it. Really when I look back on my entire life, it’s all lead up to this. I used to get messages when I was a little girl – which a lot of kids do. Then later in life when I met Christopher (Stone, Dee’s late husband), he and I got involved in a philosophy called conceptology, and we studied that for a couple of years. Cut to later in life; when he died, I basically dropped to my knees and said, ‘I don’t want to be a victim or angry.’ And the first message I got literally within seconds was to ‘use the light within you to heal yourself.'”

She continues; “So I’ve kind of been expanding on that ever since. I had the largest acting studio in LA at the time, and I would start getting downloads about stuff, and they were always right-on. So then families began wanting to work with me once they saw my students lives’ were changing, and now here I am 30 years later with clients all over the world. I’m quite an oxymoron, actually; half my life I do horror films, the other half I try to teach people how to deal with fear (laughs)! But it’s pretty empowering work, I can tell you that. It’s definitely changed my life!” Dee also hosts a worldwide radio call-in show discussing many of these subjects, which airs online every Sunday at 9am PST.

By now I felt like it was as good a time as any to finally segue into her film career, and I wanted to know if the horror genre was something Wallace had pursued personally, or if it had more or less ‘found’ her. She tells me; “It definitely found me! That genre is one of the easier ones to get started in when you’re beginning your acting career. Ironically, the first film I ever did was a religious one called All the King’s Men – and then I booked The Hills Have Eyes – which again, it sort of explains the dichotomy of Dee, here! (laughs). But I love doing emotional work, and the horror genre gives you the opportunity to do that better than many others. It found me, and then I found out that I loved it!”

I was curious what it was like stepping back into the Critters film series last year when Dee appeared in the fifth entry, Critters Attack! (her first time returning since the 1986 original). She informs me; “It was a lot of fun. My first question for them was ‘are you doing the Critters CGI?,’ because if they were I wouldn’t have done it, and I think the fans would have been disappointed. But I read the script and met with the director, and I got to go to Cape Town, South Africa, so how bad could it be?!” (Laughs). I was also curious if Dee had kept up much with the various other sequels in the series, as well as the other long-standing horror franchise she had kicked off the original with (The Howling). She says; “Yeah, I was kind of like, been there, done that (laughs). Especially with The Howling series, they just had a different quality that didn’t really fit with who I am.”

I also wondered if it was odd for her at all to step into the role of a villain for the 1996 film The Frighteners. She says; “Oh God, I had so much fun doing that! I love to explore all of the different sides of me, and the psyche, and I just loved that arc of going from the little victim, to becoming the killer towards the end!”

Dee has also done a number of films with director Rob Zombie (who, coincidentally, I had also interviewed when I first got into journalism), and I always wondered how that relationship had originally developed. She explains; Well, “Rob loves to work with older, established, actors. He came after me for Halloween, and then he wrote the part of Sonny for me in Lords of Salem. And more recently he wanted to know if I would do this tough gal-type for 3 From Hell. He just always brings me interesting things, and doesn’t lock me into the same cubby holes a lot of people want to put me in.”

Knowing by now Wallace has probably been asked every question under the sun about her legendary role in E.T., I wanted to ask her something that perhaps she hadn’t heard before. So, I simply inquired what it was like to re-visit such a classic film all these years later. She tells me honestly; “I still cry, I still laugh. As we all know it’s just a magical movie, and has become a part of our consciousness. I never get tired of it, or talking about it – and I can’t say that about all of my movies (laughs). It opens hearts and reminds people of what’s really important, and we just need a lot more of that these days.”

And lastly, with Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to know if Dee considered E.T. a ‘Halloween’ movie. She replied; “It’s an everyday movie! It crosses all of the years, and all of the holidays, no matter what time of year it is!” Oh, and as far as that movie Dee was setting off to film? She leaves us with a cliffhanger; “I wish I could tell you what it is, but I can say it’s part of a franchise that hasn’t been visited in awhile, and I think fans are going to be very excited!” I can however say to check out the short film Stay Home, which Dee produced during the quarantine (check it out on Bloody Disgustings website today!).

Interview with Skid Row Bassist Rachel Bolan By Jesse Striewski (Photo By Gary Wolstenholme)

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It’s not unheard of for musicians to occasionally branch out into other, often similar or related fields. Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan is already known to broaden his horizons with extracurricular activities; since co-founding the band in New Jersey in 1986, Bolan has kept himself busy with hobbies both in and out of music, being involved in everything from side projects, to competing in high performance car races. Bolan’s most recent venture in the soap business (appropriately titled Dirty Rocker Soap) might not be the most obvious of choices to some, but makes sense when considering the amount of miles musicians like Bolan average a year in travel time. I was recently able to catch up with Bolan regarding said foray into the world of hygienics, as well as take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the many highlights of his tenure with Skid Row.

Before we got in to any serious talk regarding music or soap, and knowing Bolan originally hails from the same state as yours truly (New Jersey), I was curious what ties he still had to the Garden State, if any. He informs me; “I moved out of New Jersey in 2000, then lived to Atlanta for maybe 14 years before coming to Nashville a little over 5 years ago. All my friends were moving out here, and there’s really no music scene in Atlanta so to speak, so I came here.” I was also wondering if his parent’s house in Tom’s River, NJ, where the band spent their earliest days rehearsing, was still standing. He tells me; “That house is still there! The road’s a lot wider, so the front yard’s a lot more narrow and closer to the street than it was when I was a kid, but it’s still there.” He also notes that he does still have plenty of friends and family residing in the NJ/PA areas to this day as well.

Regarding just how he got things going with Dirty Rocker, he says; “It was about a year and a half ago now that I basically came up with the concept. Every band seems to be putting out their own hot sauce or coffee these days, so it was an idea that kind of culminated with another necessity. With traveling so much, you come across a lot of hotels that just have mass-produced soap that just doesn’t feel good, and already being prone to skin irritations, I thought, ‘let me try making my own soap.’ No one in rock music has ever put out a soap before to my knowledge, so I just took it from there. I have a friend who actually makes soap, and she gave me the lessons on what to do and what not to do. With her help, I was able to start selling soap, and it’s the craziest thing because it just kind of took off! (laughs). The response has been overwhelming though, and it still is.”

As far as how his new venture has been effected so far by the pandemic, Bolan informs me; “The timing has been completely coincidental – no one could have seen everything coming that has so far this year. But now I have time to dedicate to it, along with writing and all that stuff. But it just happened very organically, and now here we are talking about it.”  Bolan also shares his personal preferences with me; “I’m a big fan of the Lemongrass Green, Mother Earth, and Lavendorwood. I like all the other ones too, but those are my top three, and they seem to be the ones I go through quickest online.” I also wanted to know if the other guys in Skid Row had tried Dirty Rocker yet, to which he tells me; “It’s funny that you mention that, because just yesterday I was thinking, ‘man, I got to send some out to these guys!’ (laughs) I haven’t seen them in awhile, but yeah, I’ll send them some soon for sure.”

The current Skid Row lineup with former DragonForce vocalist ZP Theart has been intact for just over four years now.  I asked Bolan what it’s been like since having Theart enter the fold, and he states; “ZP’s band I Am I came out on the road with Skid Row at one point, and our friendship just grew stronger from that. Then when it was time for us to find a new singer, we called him. He came in, and it was just effortless for him. He had been listening to us since he was a kid; when we put out the first record, he was just 12 or 13! But he came in and just knocked it out of the park, and here we are nearly five years later. He’s a great frontman, great singer, and overall just a really great dude.”

Having been continually (and meticulously) working on a biography of Skid Row for the past two-plus years, I was already well versed on the band’s history prior to our interview (and judging by his reactions, Bolan was even impressed by my knowledge a time or two throughout). Still, there were some fuzzy details about the band’s formation, including the original lineup (which often incorrectly lists a former school mate of Bolan’s as the original drummer) that I wanted to clarify. I started by revisiting how Bolan and co-founder/guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo had met while the latter was working at the Garden State Music Center in the mid-80s. He explains; “Scotti (Hill, Skid Row guitarist) and I had a band before Skid Row that we were thinking of disbanding. At the same time I had just met Snake – and there was a point where all three of us worked at that store (Garden State Music Center) at the same time, which was just freaking chaos all the time! (laughs). I realized I had actually met Snake years before when he mentioned he lived in Sayerville and was previously in a band called Steel Fortune. We got to talking, and he told me he needed a bass player for this new band he had. He already had Matt (Fallon, also ex-Steel Fortune, as well as Anthrax) on vocals, Jim (Yuhas) on guitar, and Charlie (Mills) on drums – those were all Snake’s ‘crew.’ And then once Scotti came in and we shifted some people around (eventually adding drummer Rob Affuso and vocalist Sebastian Bach to complete the band’s ‘classic’ lineup), it started taking on a new life and ended up working out really well, obviously” (laughs). As soon as Snake and I started writing songs together, it just turned in to dropping everything, and focusing on Skid Row.”

I also inquired if he remembered just what that first song the band ever composed together was. He points out; “It was a song called ‘Telephone.” I remember the riff and chorus, and I know there’s a demo of it on cassette around in a box somewhere that I’ve got to find!” Skid Row have obviously produced many great songs since those early days, and hits like “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild” will always remain staples in their set lists. But I wanted to know if there were any possible obscure tracks Bolan would ever consider resurrecting, such as the forgotten “Walk Like A Stranger” off of their original 1986 demo. His reaction; “I haven’t even heard or thought about that song in years! (laughs) Our buddy’s in Trixter actually did a really good cover of it a few years back. We have brought back “Forever” from that first demo a couple of times recently though, and it seems to have gone over well.”

And as far as how the band is holding up with all of the uncertainties of today’s world, Bolan proclaims; “Everyone’s keeping it together. We’re still making music, or at least sending each other ideas. It’s a new way of doing things that we’re totally not used to, but I think everyone’s kind of going through that no matter what line of work they’re in. But whenever everything ‘rights’ itself and we all go back to ‘normal life,’ I think everyone’s going to be a lot stronger for it.” While on the subject, I saw this as a good chance to ask if there might be some new music materializing soon. He replied; “I’m hoping so. If we don’t get the songs out all at once, maybe we’ll release just a song or two or something. But yeah, we’re hoping to have something out (if not the whole thing) in the not-too-distant future…and I can confidently say it shouldn’t be too much longer.”

Interview with Actor/Musician Ari Lehman By Jesse Striewski

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It’s been forty years now since the world was first introduced to the infamous Jason Voorhees via the original Friday The 13th, when it was originally released in May of 1980. Since then, the series has influenced a plethora of related pop culture across various media platforms, one of the latest being the Chicago-based First Jason, lead by none other than the original Jason himself, Ari Lehman, who was the first in a long line of actors to play the notorious killer Jason himself (hence the band name). Lehman was gracious enough to recently answer a few questions about First Jason, as well as his time portraying him on the big screen before anyone else.

In addition to Lehman fronting the band on vocals and heavy metal keytar, First Jason also consists of guitarist Eddie Machete, drummer Prince Fabian Arroyo, and bassist Johnny Danger. The band released their first album, Jason is Watching!, on February 13, 2009 – the same day the F13 remake was actually released. Ari described their sound to me as “A heavy metal band with an eclectic range of styles from upbeat hardcore to thrash-y metal; there are influences of punk, metal, funk, and reggae on every album.”

Lehman explained the band’s sound even further; “Since my main instrument is keytar, it has a profound effect on the writing, giving me the capability to draw upon a wide range of rock motifs. The focus is on a high-energy performance with Jason-themed lyrics that also speak to a wide range of emotions and viewpoints. To paraphrase my musical hero Duke Ellington, ‘limitations enhance creativity.’ Drawing on the dark sources of horror and metal, the possibilities are endless…”

Of course I had to ask Lehman what it’s like looking back now on playing the one and only Jason Voorhees four decades later. He tells me; “I will never take it for granted that I was lucky enough to get cast in a role that fans love so much that they continue to demand more and more Jason and Friday The 13th each and every day worldwide. It is the imagination of the fans that has kept Jason alive these 40 years, and there will be many more decades to come.” He continues; “Not the same as horror films today, but I think it holds up well because of (F13 Director) Sean S. Cunnigham’s attention to not allowing the actors to overdo their roles in an effort to make it as real as possible. Also, Tom Savini’s use of practical effects and the often overlooked camera work of Director of Photography Barry Abrams created an environment that lured the viewer into a sense of safety – and then SHATTERED that completely. Together they transformed a usually bucolic setting – a summer camp – into a place of sheer terror, much like Jaws did the same way for sunny beaches in the summertime. And the fans never forgot!”

I also wanted to know just how much interaction Lehman had with the other actors on the set. He explains; “I did get to meet Adrienne King of course as well as most of the actors on the set including Kevin Bacon and Harry Crosby. It was ironically the actress who played my mom, Betsy Palmer, that I did not get to meet until years later, when we bonded as friends and she took me under her wing as a confidant and advisor. Betsy and my real mom shared the same birth date, November 1st, the day after Halloween! If I could have gotten her into a music video WOW!!! What I did do and you can see it in the “Voorhees is the Name” video is to commemorate what she would say to me when she knew that I had a rock show with First Jason – ‘mama said Knock ’em DEAD, and leave ’em writhing in the aisles!!!’ I love her forever…” Having actually met Palmer myself (at the same convention along with Tom Savini and Kane Hodder as well, albeit briefly) back in 2007, I can attest to Lehman’s sentiments of her kindness firsthand (though regrettably I did not get a photo to mark the occasion).

Lehman also shared with me what he took from working on the film so long ago; “Working with Tom Savini and Taso Stavrakis for four months and creating the FX for the film gave me a sense of camaraderie, and taught me that hard work can be fun and rewarding. Also I learned from being on the set how to make the most out of the resources that are at hand – this has served me well as a leader of a touring band, and when doing independent films like The Barn & Clown Motel.”

I was also curious what Lehman’s thoughts were on the later films of the F13 series. He states; “Honestly, I feel that each Jason actor and every production team brought a new perspective to the mythology. One of my favorites is Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), which was directed by John Buechler and starred Kane Hodder as Jason (for the first time). I feel that this episode does the most to recollect all of the sagas and bring it all together. Plus I enjoy that Jason is opposed by Tina (played by Lar Park Lincoln), a young psychic girl; that provides for great moments, like when she tears his mask off and sets the roof on fire!!!”

“The First Jason INTERSLASHIONAL album is the top priority now. Clown Motel 2 is shooting soon and I will return to play Psycan the deranged clown. The Barn 2 is completing now and my role as Dr. Dock was greatly expanded from the original. I am particularly proud of the work I did in this film and the team that created it for director Justin Seaman. And my weapon of choice to kill zombies in that film is even a KEYTAR!!!”

You can keep track of what’s going on with Lehman and First Jason on YouTube and Spotify, as well as Facebook (at the time of this writing, the band still has some tour dates set, with the first starting next month in Kenosha, WI on Sat., Aug 1).

Interview with Survivor Guitarist Frankie Sullivan By Jesse Striewski

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Last month, Rocky III, and it’s mega-hit theme song “Eye of the Tiger” by the band Survivor, both turned 38 years old. Originally released in late May of 1982, they’ve each endured the test of time in their own respective rights, with the latter remaining one of the biggest arena anthems and classic radio staples of all time to this day.  Recently, I was able to speak with Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan (who was taking a stroll around his neighborhood at the time) via phone about just what the song’s legacy means to him, as well as what’s in store for the band in the near future.

Sullivan co-wrote said track “Eye of the Tiger” along with former Survivor member Jim Peterik (the duo co-penned the majority of the band’s material together), and is literally the lone ‘survivor’ of the band’s original lineup. One of the first things I asked Sullivan was whether or not he felt the song would go down as the one he’s most remembered for. He says; “Well, I don’t really think any one song can define character. It defines a moment in somebody’s life, maybe, but not the person themselves. But some really great relationships came out of that whole thing, though.”

I wanted to know if Sullivan still felt the same he did when performing live not only songs like “Tiger…,” but many of the band’s other classics such as “The Search is Over” or “I Can’t Hold Back” as he once did when those songs were all still brand new. He tells me; “The first couple notes, that’s when the magic happens, and you can really see it in people! It’s all awesome!”

I also asked what Sullivan’s been keeping himself busy doing with all of his recent down time, and he tells me,”Interviews! I don’t normally do a lot of them, but I said ‘I’m gonna do this,’ and it turned out to be a lot of great fun. Usually we’d be out on the road working right now, but I think people are paying more attention to what’s going on in the country right now than what bands are doing.”

With the passing of former lead singer Jimi Jamison in 2014, and, more recently former bassist Stephan Ellis in 2019, I asked what he wanted people to remember them for; “I think they remember exactly what they saw of them. Sometimes it was energy, sometimes presence. I think the world already knows that. If they don’t, then they’re not thinking about them enough, anyway. That’s why I don’t always comment much on the guys who have passed.”

I was also curious if Frankie kept in touch with any other former members, such as original lead singer Dave Bickler, and former drummer Marc Droubay. He tells me; “Well, I don’t keep in touch with Dave, but that’s not unusual. We’ve never really kept in touch from day one. I’ve known Marc since around ’75 though, and he’s a great drummer, man. Marc always followed the guitar riffs and ignored the bass, but that’s a whole other thing. It was kind of like how Jimmy Page felt about John Bonham.” And as far as having his own son (current Survivor drummer Ryan Sullivan) in the band with him now, Frankie says, “As long as he’s a good drummer, it’s great! He was Marc’s tech before he was in the band, too, so he always called him Uncle Marc.”

And when asked if Survivor has any plans for new music in the works, Sullivan simply states; “If it happens, it happens. but Survivor has such a rich catalogue of original material and stuff people haven’t even heard yet. We have demos from sessions that I don’t think some of the guys who have been in the band have ever even heard. But at this time with what’s going on in the world and country right now, I haven’t even considered going and recording new music.”

Sullivan left with this sentiment; “I was young when I started, and was recording during the best years of music history; analog tape recording. After that it was all digital, and before that it wasn’t ready for prime time. These days kids can make records in their bedrooms, and God bless them for it. But I came from a different school, and like the stuff that came before all that. I lived through the greatest years in recording history…and it’s still the best!”