Interview with Actor/Musician Danny Cooksey By Jesse Striewski

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There’s no doubt I’ve done my fair share of interviews with various celebrities over the past ten-plus years since I first started doing music journalism; some are easier to feel a sort of personal connection to than others, as though you’ve known them your entire life after watching them virtually grow up before your eyes. Danny Cooksey is hands down one of those celebrities for me, and in a very indirect sort of way, I even have him to thank for my lifelong love of heavy metal music (but more on that later).

As a child in the ’80s, I watched a young Danny on one of my favorite sitcoms at the time, Diff’rent Strokes. Then as a teen in the ’90s, I watched as he embodied the ultimate teen-aged slacker in such unforgettable roles as Budnick on the classic Nickelodeon TV show Salute Your Shorts. Recently, I was able to speak to Danny from his home in California, where we covered not only many of the previously-mentioned roles he’s taken on over the years, but also what he’s up to these days – which may come as a surprise to many of you.

These days Danny lives a more modest, family man-type of life, taking his son to school every morning before coming home to tackle either voice-over work, or teach acting lessons (the vast majority of which he actually teaches one-on-one online). As far as teaching goes he tells me; “I believe that each person has their own sort of individual process as far as what they want to accomplish with their needs and goals with acting. One thing I try to focus a lot on is the audition process, because even if you’re the best actor in the world, that’s a whole different monster in itself.”

One of the first things I wanted to know regarding Danny’s past was how he felt when he comes across an old episode of one of the many shows he’s been in; “You know, it’s funny, there’s certain memories that are seared in your brain, while others kind of meld together. I remember when my my daughter was younger she found an old VHS tape with Diff’rent Strokes on it, and I had no recollection at all of the plot line or anything. It was sort of this odd, out-of-body experience, but it’s pretty interesting. I don’t really sit around watching myself often or anything, but every once in awhile something will come on that I’ll catch, and I just kind of have to pinch myself and say, ‘Wow, how did I ever even end up in that situation?!’ (Laughs).”

Of course I couldn’t help but ask Danny how he reacts when called Budnick (without a doubt one of his most memorable roles) these days, to which he replied; “You know, I still think it’s awesome! But I actually have more people asking me what high school I went to and trying to figure out where they know me from more than I get called Budnick (laughs).”

Music has also played a heavy role throughout Danny’s career as well. As a child, he took a try at singing country music before later switching it up to rock, briefly fronting the band Bad4Good in the early ’90s, who released one album (Refugee) in 1992 before ultimately dissolving.  I asked Danny how he felt looking back on that project now, to which he replied; “I’m still so proud of that record. We worked really hard on it, but it was a really weird time in music, and it seemed like things were just changing by the minute. I feel like if it were released a few years earlier that record might’ve been a little more successful than it was. Or maybe it would’ve been something totally different if it were released a year later (laughs)! But it was an amazing experience for sure.”

But if there’s one thing I really wanted to ask Danny about, it was the scene in the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day where he and co-star Edward Furlong were seen blasting the then-new Guns N’ Roses hit “You Could Be Mine.” Although I already knew of several hard rock/heavy metal bands and songs before that (including even ones by GN’R), it would be the first “rock” song I’d ever physically own in any way (and on cassette of course!), and I credit that as the moment I instantly fell in love with an entire genre. So I had to ask Danny whether or not he was a GN’R fan prior to the filming of that scene (as well as thank him for the role he played in my introduction to the song that quite literally changed my life), to which he said; “Oh yeah, I was definitely a big fan! I had actually seen the original lineup on tour with The Rolling Stones in like ’88, and they were just awesome!”

He goes on to elaborate on the inclusion of the song in the film; “When we were in the early stages of filming, I was given a cassette of the music that was going to be used in the scene. Originally it was going to be 2 songs, and I believe they were “Higher Ground” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones, which were, you know, both fine. But at some point I got handed another cassette, and it was an advanced copy of “You Could Be Mine,” in which case I thought I was just the coolest person on the planet since the record wasn’t even out yet! (Laughs).”

As if all these accomplishments were not enough, Danny is still involved in making music to this day, currently performing in a project that helps raise proceeds for abused animals called Shelter Dogs, who self-released an album, Take Me Home, in 2015 (which ironically was co-produced by acclaimed Guns N’ Roses producer Mike Clink), and are currently in the process of writing a brand new album. Be sure to look out for more material from them soon, but in the meantime you can still check out their previously released music on Spotifiy, ITunes, and of course YouTube. And those interested in his acting classes can also reach Danny at: https://www.dcacting.com/.

-J.S.

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Interview with Tommy Stinson By Jesse Striewski

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Tommy Stinson has truly had the kind of career most aspiring musicians only ever dream about (and as one of the many bassists he’s influenced over the decades, I’m speaking from experience). In the early ’80s, he was a founding member of pioneering indie rockers The Replacements, a band that remains a personal favorite of mine to this very day. After their dissolution in the early ’90s, he briefly formed the alternative bands Bash & Pop and Perfect, before joining Guns N’ Roses (another personal fav of yours truly’s) in 1998, stepping in for departed bassist Duff McKagan – a role he occupied until McKagan’s eventual return to the band in 2016.

And if all that wasn’t enough, he’s also done time with ’90s rockers Soul Asylum, and in more recent years, he’s kept busy with semi-recent reunions of both The Replacements, and Bash & Pop, as well as released the occasional solo material. Stinson also has yet another new project called Cowboys in the Campfire that he’s working on, and next month will be embarking on a solo tour with The Lemonheads. Last week, I was able to actually catch up with Stinson over the phone while at his New York home regarding the upcoming tour, where we discussed his many past, present, and future endeavors.

I immediately asked Stinson if he had played with The Lemonheads prior to said upcoming tour, to which he said; “First time playing solo shows with them, yeah, but I did some shows with them when I was playing bass with Soul Asylum for awhile, maybe 10 years ago or so.” Tommy also says fans can expect to hear a little of everything on these shows; “I’ll probably lean a little more on my solo records and Bash & Pop stuff. I might even include some of my new stuff I’m working on with Cowboys in the Campfire, so a little bit of everything.”

As far as what songs Tommy still enjoys playing live, he tells me he’s really excited to get some of these new Cowboys in the Campfire songs out there. He also says, “A lot of the Bash & Pop stuff really translates well with an acoustic. There’s always “Friday Night (Is Killing Me)” and “Nothing” from that first album, those are always fun to play, and I can usually get a rise out of people and myself with them.”

I also had to ask what it was like being a part of the long-delayed 2008 Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy, one of the most talked about (and expensive) rock records ever made, to which he said; “You know, I have a few favorite moments on that record, I suppose one of them would be “There Was a Time.” It got to the point where we were rehashing things so much, and then they kind of went to the meat grinder and they sound like they sound now. It would be cool if one day it actually came out in a more raw form without all of the bells and whistles that were kind of heaped on top of it, you know?”

We ended our conversation on what’s in store for Tommy in the near future, to which he said; “With a little luck, I’ll be finishing up this Cowboys in the Campfire record, and after that hopefully starting to work on a new Bash & Pop album, probably by the end of the summer.” I also asked if there were any hopes at all of seeing another Replacements reunion after their last run ended in 2015; “I don’t really know if there’s any need or want for it anymore after we did that last bit. I haven’t really talked to Paul (Westerburg) in awhile and I’m not sure what he’s thinking right now. Never say never, but it looks like that last run might have been the last one.”

At the time of this writing, the closest Tommy will be coming to Florida on this upcoming tour with The Lemonheads is Atlanta, but you can keep up to date on tour dates, and everything else Tommy is up to at http://www.tommystinson.com, and via social media.

-J.S.

Interview with Last in Line Bassist Phil Soussan By Jesse Striewski

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You’ve seen him onstage with such rock giants as Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol. Now, legendary bassist Phil Soussan has stepped in the shoes for the late Jimmy Bain (R.I.P.) in Last in Line – the band made up of former Dio bandmates that originally included Bain, guitarist Vivian Campbell, drummer Vinnie Appice, and newcomer Andrew Freeman on vocals.

Last week, the band dropped their second studio album (and first with Soussan on board) simply titled II. Just days before its release I was able to speak with the ever-so-gracious Soussan over the phone about the new album, as well as taking over for the previously-mentioned Bain shortly after the band’s first album, which he says; “Well, I never really considered myself ‘taking over’ for Jimmy when I came in. It just seemed like the right thing to do for him, to at least perform that album, because he worked really hard on it, and I know it meant a lot to him. Jimmy was also a friend of mine that I knew for a very long time. We were all counterparts in our respective bands, cut from the same cloth. So I felt privileged to be able to get out there and honor him by playing those songs and bringing them to the fans. That was something I could do for my friend.”

Knowing Soussan is no stranger to songwriting himself (perhaps his best known writing credit is co-composing Ozzy’s 1986 hit “Shot in the Dark”), I inquired how the songwriting for II went, which he explained; “We wrote songs in what’s considered today to be a very unconventional way…together (Laughs). These days everybody has their own studio next to their coffee machines, but we did it collectively, as a unit. All of the songs were written equally between the four of us, which is why there’s no individual songwriting credits, and that’s how things really should be done.”

I also asked him how the new material has been going over so far live, to which he says; “Well, when you have bands together that have been established over many years (I like to call them “heritage bands”), a lot of the time you do have people that go to their shows just to hear the hits that they’ve grown to love, and the band doesn’t really get a fair crack at the whip when it comes to new material. Usually when the band says, ‘here’s a new song,’ everybody heads to the bathroom. But in our case, we’ve been very fortunate that the fans have wanted to hear new material, and we don’t take that lightly or for granted at all, and it’s probably the reason we’re still doing what we’re doing.”

He goes on to elaborate, “I’ve done a lot of records, and by the time you’re finished recording one, the last thing you wanna do is listen to it again. But every time I listen to this one, I hear something new I rediscover, and for that reason I have an element of confidence in it, and hopefully I’m right (Laughs)!”

Aside from music, Soussan, has also tried his hand at cooking over the years, having even owned his own restaurant in the past. I asked how he got involved with local Central, FL rocker Kenny Wilkerson’s upcoming cookbook “Rockin’ Recipes for Autism,” and he says; “Ken had basically contacted me asking if I would be interested in submitting something. I thought it was for a great cause, and cooking is something that is very near and dear to me, so it was something I jumped on right away.”

Unfortunately there are no Florida dates for Last in Line at the time of this writing, though those in other parts of the world will have a chance to catch the band in the very near future. Soussan informs me, “We’re very excited to have just gotten announced on the Download Festival in Britain this June. Vivian’s going to be doing double-duty that day, headlining with Def Leppard. The last time I played there was in 1986 (when it was still known as “Monsters of Rock) when Ozzy headlined, and the band opening for us at the time was Def Leppard, so it’s funny how life kinda flip things around on you sometimes!”

 

Interview with Vocalist Tony Harnell By Jesse Striewski

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Tony Harnell may not be as big of a household name as fellow rock frontmen like Ozzy Osbourne or Axl Rose, but he has no doubt earned his own rightful place among the best of them. In the mid-80’s, Tony began his on-again-off-again relationship with Norwegian headbangers TNT (with whom he recently severed ties with again in 2017).  Fans may also remember he briefly fronted New Jersey hard rockers Skid Row for some time in 2015 as well.

But Tony has also  built a large portfolio of solo work and side projects from over the years too, including Starbreaker, a project he started alongside Primal Fear guitarist Magnus Karlsson in the mid-2000’s that was recently resurrected for  a brand new album, Dysphoria. Last week, I had the pleasure to speak with Tony via telephone regarding his current, past, and even future projects.

When I spoke to Tony last Wednesday afternoon, he had just gotten back from playing some shows in Europe and was battling a cold he caught while there. Still, he describes the trip as “amazing,” having just played a rock cruise with fellows icons such as Joe Lynn Turner and Michael Monroe.

When asked how he felt the reception has been so far for Dysphoria, Tony tells me, “The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is always really great. ” I also asked if one could say there was a running theme throughout the album, for which he tells me, “Yeah, it occurred to me there was to a degree. When I write songs I just write what I’m feeling on any given day, and the emotion of that moment is what comes through in the lyrics. It definitely has a strong theme to it, and I like to kind of leave that open to interpretation. I think the record has got this beautifully sad quality to it. It’s definitely not a downer record by any means, but I think it has a theme on it that a lot of people can relate to. It does focus heavily on things that were going on for me at the time, and those things are definitely there and can’t be denied.”

I asked Tony if Starbreaker would become his main focus now that he’s no longer with TNT, to which he responded;”Outside of the fact that I still want to put out solo stuff and tour for that, I’d have to say “yes.” At this point Starbreaker’s what I’d call an important project to me for sure though. I would love it to become a full-on band, because I do think the demand is there for us to play shows, and I can see us performing maybe twenty, thirty shows a year, so we’ll have to see. But this record was really important to me because I haven’t released any new material in over 6 years (which is the longest I’ve gone without releasing new music), since I put out the acoustic EP I did with Bumblefoot from Guns N’ Roses called Tony Harnell and the Wildflowers. I guess in some ways you can say Dysphoria’s – and I hate to use this word – a comeback album, at least recording-wise, since I’ve still been touring a lot.”

I also wanted to known how he felt regarding his tenure with Skid Row in hindsight; “I think I would take my time more to just absorb what it was first, and I think I’m in very different, much healthier place in my life now than when I went into the Skid Row situation. So I think I would make better decisions from beginning to end if that type of situation were to present itself again.”

Aside from the new Starbreaker album, Tony tells me there’s a few more things to come in the near future; “TNT has a new DVD coming out in March which will be the last thing with me on it, which was filmed in Italy in 2017. But more than anything I’m focused on making new music right now, and getting out and playing shows.” Be sure to follow Tony on social media to find when and where he may be coming to a city near you (you do NOT want to miss the chance to catch him live!).

-J.S.

Interview with Stabbing Westward Keyboardist Walter Flakus Words By Jesse Striewski/Photo By Brooke Striewski

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It’s been over a decade since the last time the guys in Stabbing Westward passed through Central, FL. But next month, the band will be hitting the stage at the House of Blues in Orlando on February 17 for the first time since disbanding in 2002.

I had a chance to chat with keyboardist and founding member Walter Flakus recently, who elaborated with me regarding the long gap; “Now that I think about it, we haven’t played a show in Florida since 2001! The closest would’ve been when (Stabbing Westward side project) The Dreaming played Sanford in 2015.”

Flakus went on to tell me more about Stabbing Westward’s recent reformation; “It really goes back to when (lead vocalist) Christopher (Hall) and I rekindled our friendship in 2014 when his father passed away. We started trading musical ideas, which led to me joining The Dreaming and contributing to the Rise Again album. While touring on that record, Marcus came out to play some SW songs at the Chicago (the band’s hometown) show. It really felt great being on the stage together again. In 2016, Jason and Kelly Novak floated the idea of SW playing the pre-party for the Coldwaves festival in Chicago, and we thought, ‘Let’s see if anyone still cares.’ The show sold out in 3 minutes, and it just kept building from there.”

I also asked why former bassist Jim Sellers has been noticeably absent for the entirety of the reunion, for which he tells me; Christopher and I talked to Jim about playing some SW shows before the Coldwaves show was proposed. I think he has a lot of projects that he’s working on, and playing shows didn’t really fit. So we turned to Carlton (Bost), who plays guitar in The Dreaming, as well as Orgy. He’s been a great fit.”

Flakus also assures me fans can expect to hear a wide range of songs these days in their set lists; “Of course there’s certain songs which have to be included because they were singles or fan favorites. Recently we’ve been playing most of Darkest Days in order, which has been really great. We’re constantly working up new things to add to the set. This year is the 25th anniversary of Ungod, so we may spend some time focusing on that later this year.” He also tells me new material is not too far off; “We have a bunch of songs we’re currently working on. Hopefully we’ll get something out later this year.”

Be sure not to miss the chance to catch Stabbing Westward at their Orlando show next month…it’s sure to be worth the wait!

Interview with Raven Frontman John Gallagher By Jesse Striewski

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Where does one even begin when trying to explain a band with as much history as Raven? Formed in Newcastle, England by brothers John (vocals/bass) and Mark Gallagher (guitar) all the way back in 1974, the two have kept the band going since the formative years of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene (or NWOBHM) along with a succession of drummers. So it was truly a thrill to get a chance to pick the the brain of long time front man John Gallagher regarding the band’s upcoming live release, Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live From Aalborg. 

When asked how said new recording came about, John tells me; “Well…it was an accident! We had no idea we were being recorded! Back “in the day” as they say, a live recording was a tedious affair with many extra microphones and much checking & testing…nowadays a digital multitrack recording can be made direct off the stage! We came off stage from our show in Aalborg Denmark & the soundman gave Mike a memory stick & said ” here you go!” We never even got to check it until after the tour & we were blown away..this recording really captured the energy of our live show!”

I also had to ask how the band decides on what songs to play live these days, for which he had to say; “That’s a tough one. You always want some continuity and there will be a few songs you will always want to play…and are expected to play! Since Mike has come on board we are changing things up, and did so pretty much immediately by adding some older songs we had not done in ages, such as “Hell Patrol” and ” Hung Drawn & Quartered.” And we have been playing  a brand new, unreleased song as well, ” Top of the Mountain,” so it’s a bit of a balancing act!”

In 2017, longtime drummer Joe Hasselvander unfortunately suffered from a career-ending heart attack. I asked John if he knew the status of his former bandmate, for which he said; “I’m assuming he’s doing well, we have not been in touch for some time. He is where he needs to be, and where he wants to be, which is at home with his family. The split was an upcoming thing as he really was done with touring and the heart attack was a wake up call for him to change things…we of course wish him nothing but the best.”

After several fill-in’s, the band finally settled on Fear Factory drummer Mike Heller to take the place behind the drum kit. John informs me,”Mike’s quite a force of nature and has been a real shot in the arm…he brings astounding technical prowess & bags of enthusiasm. He is a lot younger than us old dogs (lol), and although we have some common ground, he has a different set of influences and is bringing a lot of cool ideas to the table!”

And finally, I asked John if the band had plans to get back in to the recording studio in the near future; “Yes! We basically have the new album in the can after a lot of stop/start nonsense over last year. We do need to tweak a few small parts such as an intro here & there and then mix the album. The live album is a great bridge between the last album and the upcoming new one. We really have lifted the bar yet again on this new one in regards to pretty much everything, the songs, the playing, the energy…we are excited!!!! Hopefully this will be out late 2019.”

-J.S.

Interview with Skull Fist Frontman Zach Slaughter By Jesse Striewski (Photo By Stefanie Myer)

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In the ’80s, Canada produced a number of notable metal acts (Exciter, Annihilator, Anvil, etc…), each admirable in their own right. Now a new breed of bands have slowly taken over as the kings of the Great White North, including Striker, Cauldron, and Skull Fist (among others). I was recently able to speak with Skull Fist singer/guitarist Zach Slaughter, who was more than just a little stoked about the band’s upcoming 3rd album, Way of the Road about to be released later this month after nearly a 4 year gap in between albums; “Dude. seriously right?! It’s almost weird to have this album coming out now, although the songs were written some time ago, I am already bored of them and have gotten the 4th album written.. so…forget this one everyone? (Laughs). We spent a lot of time just waiting to see if my voice would heal (almost 3 years), so in the meantime I was always writing a lot more music.”

When asked where Way of the Road was recorded and if the songwriting was a group effort, Zach says, “Well a lot of the songs I had already written a while back. The album was supposed to be released almost 3 years ago but because of all the voice surgery issues I had, I was forced to keep waiting. We recorded it at the same place we did the 2nd album, with Eric Ratz at Vespa Studio in Toronto. He’s real good at this stuff man, any sound you’re looking for he can nail it. I’m really happy with how he got this stuff going. I usually write the tunes but the boys are always around to give some input. “Witch Hunt” was actually a riff from Jonny, and it was JJ’s idea to write a swing song on this record. You can thank Casey for the title of the album as well.”

The band is also about to take Way of the Road on the road.  Regarding it, Zach informs me, “Yeah man, going to do that whole worldwide crap again. That sounds lame when I say it like that (laughs), but basically we will go out to all the places we have gone in the past. Right now we will do the Euro thing with Striker from Canada as well. That’ll be in November, the dates should be out by the time people read this. After that we’ll get a South American tour going, after that North America, then after that, I’ll probably break another bone skateboarding? (Laughs).

When it comes to playing the new songs live, Zach says the tracks he is most looking forward to playing include “No More Running,” Stay True,” and “Way of the Road.” “I think those ones are a bit more enjoyable for me playing live, but its hard to say what songs will wind up as live staple tracks, you know? Just gotta play ’em out for a while and see what happens. I’m still stoked on a few of the old tracks as well, “Ride On” always feels right when I’m playing it live. I never know which songs people will like the most though, my predictions for the 1st and 2nd album were wayyyyy off (Laughs)!

-J.S.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Nova Rex Bassist Kenny Wilkerson By Jesse Striewski

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Since 1985, Kenny Wilkerson has been keeping the flames lit for Florida-based hard rockers Nova Rex. And for the first time since 1992, original vocalist Kevin Tetz will be joining the band onstage later this month, right here in good old Daytona Beach at the Hard Rock Hotel on Friday, Sept. 28.

I recently spoke with Wilkerson about all of the current endeavors he has going on both in, and out of Nova Rex. Regarding Tetzs’ return, he says, “I just told him, why don’t you just come on down, split the time with (current Nova Rex singer) Adrian [Adonis], and see how it goes?! And sure enough, he was cool with it.” Current Nova Rex guitarist Greg Polcari, and newcomer Shawn “Sawbladehead” Lowery (drums) will be on board for the party as well.

Many of you may actually recognize Tetz from his work on such shows as Spike TV’s Trucks. And while it’s doubtful he will be sporting the same spandex pants he did for the band’s 1987 video “Turn It Up Loud,” you can be sure to hear such songs as that, as well as many other well-known numbers from the band’s early catalog like “Bring the House Down” and “Think of Me.”

Fellow ‘80s rockers Pretty Boy Floyd – perhaps best remembered for their hits “I Wanna Be With You” and “Rock and Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night on Fire)” (both off their 1989 debut Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz) – will be kicking off the sure to be wild evening.

Directly following the Hard Rock Hotel show, Nova Rex will be playing the 6th Annual ‘80s in the Park show the following day at the Space Coast Harley-Davidson in Palm Bay. The band will go on at approximately 5pm on Sat., the 29th, and as Kenny explains, “It’s sure to be a long weekend for us!”

As if that wasn’t enough, Wilkerson also wrote a soon-to-be-released cookbook. He explains; “It’s called Rockin’ Recipes for Autism, Vol. 1, and I have over seventy rockers lending their own recipes for it, including Rikki Rockett from Poison, and Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot (just to name a few). I’ve been working on it for about 3 years off and on, and the money from the book is going to go to a charity called We Rock For Autism. I’m sure as soon as the book comes out I’ll end up somewhere on the Food Channel (Laughs)!”

Be sure to catch Kenny and the guys from Nova Rex at one (or both) of the previously mentioned shows, as well as check out his upcoming cookbook…all of which are sure to have you banging your head, one way or another!

 

Interview with Richie Ramone By Jesse Striewski

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There’s only a handful of men still walking this Earth that can still call themselves a true “Ramone,” and while the original members may have all left us far too soon, the torch is still carried by those who remain; Marky, C.J., and of course, Richie Ramone (and if you want to include the short-lived Elvis Ramone as well).

For those who know their Ramones history (and why wouldn’t you?!), Richie joined up with the legendary NYC punks in 1983, replacing previous drummer Marky shortly after the Subterranean Jungle album. Over the course of his time with the band, Richie recorded on the albums Too Tough to Die (1984), Animal Boy (1986), and Halfway to Sanity (1987). Late vocalist Joey Ramone (R.I.P.) had been quoted as saying, “Richie saved the band as far as I’m concerned. He’s the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones. He put the spirit back in the band” (1).

But not everyone has always been so appreciative of Richie. The very man he replaced (and who would in turn replace him when he re-joined the band in 1987), Marky Ramone, has barely acknowledged Richie’s very existence. In a recent interview from his home in LA, Richie tells Rewind It Magazine, “In my entire career we’ve only crossed paths one time after I had first joined the band, and all we said was “hey” to each other in passing. That’s it” Richie goes on to say, “C.J.’s different though. Him and I do talk, and we actually just played together at the [Joey Ramone] Birthday Bash recently.”

But despite whatever gripes Marky and Richie may have, it hasn’t slowed Richie down one bit. He recently released his second solo effort, an EP by the name of Cellophane, and at the time of our conversation, he and his band had just gotten back from touring South America. “That’s where the Ramones are like The Beatles. It’s really insane, nowhere else in the world is it like that,” he tells me. Richie will be hitting Europe next, with dates already set for Scandinavia and Germany starting later this month. He says he also plans to do a mid-west run as well once he returns to the U.S.

When asked how he feels the reception of his latest release has gone over so far, Richie says,  “The records are more for selling at shows these days. But you know, I can’t see playing for years and years without making new music. I could go out there and just play Ramones songs and fans would like it just the same, but I’m not Marky, I can’t just do that. But I like what I do, and as long as I’m healthy, I’m gonna keep doing it.”

I also couldn’t resist asking if the latest single from Cellophane, “I Fix This,” alluded to Richie’s breathing new life into the Ramones after initially joining them. “That’s a new one right there, I haven’t heard that before [laughs]! But that’s what good about music, people can always interrupt things in many different ways.” As far as the song’s actual meaning, Richie tells me it’s simply a term he heard repeatedly used while in Sweden that he found interesting enough to write a song about. Richie also released a flexi disc single for the song “The Last Time” through New Noise Magazine, a track he wrote shortly after the recent passing of his father. Almost anyone who’s ever lost someone dear to them can relate to it (including even a dog, which, during our interview, Richie and I both discovered we had recently lost as well).

When asked how he feels about several metal bands covering songs he’s penned over the years, Richie simply says, “It seems like the metal bands love my shit [laughs]! I tend to write a little on the harder side I guess, and everything that comes out is just darker.” Richie also tells me his favorite album while with the Ramones would have to be Too Tough to Die; “I think they lost their way a little bit before that, so it was kind of a turnaround for the Ramones. Just a back-to-their-roots, raw, simple album.”

Richie will soon be joining the ranks of author as well, when his autobiography, I Know Better Know, hits shelves later this year. Richie says, “Touring and writing a book for the past year has been pretty tough, and I’m so glad that’s finally done [laughs]! But it’ll be out in the fall through Backbeat Books, and I’m pretty excited about it.”

1. “Ramones Get Back the Spirit,” Bignoisenow.com.

 

Interview with Anthrax Bassist Frank Bello Words and Photos By Jesse Striewski

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In 2010, I was fortunate enough to photograph thrash metal legends Anthrax live (along with two other fellow heavyweights in the field, Slayer and Megadeth). The end result produced some of the best live shots I have ever personally captured, largely attributed to the charismatic stage presence of Anthrax bassist Frank Bello (see above photo). So it was my pleasure when Bello recently took the time to speak to Rewind It Magazine while in Canada on their current tour supporting Slayer on their historic final outing.

Frank describes said current tour as the go-to event of the summer for metal fans. The tour also feature such metal giants as Testament, Behemoth,  and Lamb of God, which Bello says, “Is a great package, and for us, very family-like. We’ve literally grown up with a lot of these guys.”

The band also just released their latest live album/DVD, Kings Among Scotland. The concert itself was filmed at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, which Bello praises; “We always have great shows there, and such great fans. But the footage really makes you feel like you’re there, and that’s what I really love about the DVD.”

Although the band performs the Among the Living album in its entirety on Kings (along with several other staple tracks), they don’t have as much luxury to do so on their current tour, sharing the stage with four other bands.  Bello explains, “We have forty minutes on the stage every night, so it’s really just hit ’em hard and leave. It’s been a really great experience though, most of these shows have been packed, if not sold out!”

I also couldn’t resist asking Bello if he and the band ever felt the urge to resurrect more obscure, almost forgotten numbers such as the Beastie Boys-inspired “I’m the Man” (or anything off of the band’s 1984 debut album Fistful of Metal, for that matter). Frank tells me, “The hardest part at this point is picking the songs and set lists. Everybody has their favorites, and that’s great, but it’s definitely hard to make everyone happy at the same time – but we try! You never know though, we like to mix it up and surprise people.”

Aside from Anthrax, Frank has also done some acting over the years, and he currently has a side project with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson dubbed Altitudes and Attitudes. Frank explains, “It’s a different side of Dave and I that a lot of people seem to really dig, and I’m really proud of it.” Expect a full length album from them by early next year.

With Frank’s own band mate Scott (Ian, Anthrax guitarist) having recently penned his own autobiography, I had to ask if he foresaw writing one himself someday. “Eventually one day I’m sure I will. There’s a lot of in-depth stories that I have, not only about the band, but my life in general.”

Keep up to date with the band on social media or Anthrax.com for show dates near you. Central, FL fans can catch Frank and Anthrax here next month at the Orlando Amphitheater on June 15.