Josh Willis and Andronikos: From the ashes rose this phoenix, But are we ready for what he brings?

We are jumping back into the world of Josh Willis, but this time he has a few new tricks up his sleeve.  Andronikos is a dark, ice castle king that has a lot of darkness to his tracks but it tells an amazing story.  This 5 track EP takes you on a ride you never expect if you have listened to any other songs that Josh may have wrote or taken part of in the past.  This icy cold exterior of Andronikos holds a chamber of secrets, waiting to be told.

This interview we will see what really made Josh tick creating this masterpiece, jump into how loss and stressful times helped him write some of the most amazing tracks I have ever had a chance to listen to.  I got a sneak peek before it was released and let me tell you, I could not wait for the world to hear the spectacular songs I was able to hear.

Is Andronikos the evil ruler of his ice castle like he seems or is there another side to his dark world of metal?  This album is enough to make even Elsa shake in her ice-cube stilettos.  Let’s enter the cold, deep, dark world of Andronikos with Josh Willis!

TICK TOCK TICK TOCK…… Let’s go!

 


Josh, or should I call you Andronikos, thank you for doing another interview with me. Tell me a little about this seemingly darker alter ego of yours?

Thank you for interviewing me again! I was actually on a really long drive when I had the random idea that I wanted to launch a new solo project in which I took on a different persona, wear a mask, and erase any trace of who I am in real life when it came to this new music. I thought it would be fun and interesting for metal fans to see this new one-man-band who has this horrifying and evil appearance with an elaborate fictitious backstory, while no one knows who’s actually under the mask.

josh 1 (1 of 1)-3

You recently released a 5 song EP called King-Chapter 1: Stories from the Light, in my opinion each song takes a life of its own. What inspired you to want to write these songs?

I originally wrote the entire King album to be one album rather than two EP’s. Collectively, the songs on King tell a story that mirrors a lot of things that were going on in my life while this project was transpiring and how I overcame everything that was thrown my way. I had a couple of years there that were very difficult and heavy, but also very pivotal for my life as well. Within a very short time frame, I lost my grandmother, lost both of the bands I was in, the preexisting turmoil in my broken home was heating up more than usual, and I was having trouble with student loans preventing me from continuing in college. I could go on all night, but I’ve hit the general idea here. When things aren’t going well, I think its’s a human tendency to amplify how bad things really are, and before I knew it, I was sitting there with this distorted image of what a mess my life was and the idea that it would always be like this, that I wouldn’t accomplish anything, that the world isn’t fair, and that I just have to accept the miserable circumstances I had been given. It’s a bit alarming to me how quickly I can fall into these downward spirals, but they do happen to me. That characteristic was a huge component in crafting the main character in the King album. We have this “mad king” who at the beginning of the album shows this cold hatred towards the rest of the world and sense of independence in “The Song of Winter” which is something that I admittedly do see in myself. On both Stories from the Light alone and on both parts of the King album together, you’ll see a story of this sadistic king with a sick and twisted mind slowly reveal a soft side, a positive attitude, and a will to do good. The progression of this story, and growth of the king is a large fantasy-driven set of metaphors that represent the battles that went on in my own head throughout my life.

The very first song starts with the ticking of a clock, almost saying it’s the beginning of a new era, a new formation to your music. I love how it’s all instrumental, did you arrange it all yourself?

You’re the first person to catch and understand the clock’s meaning!!!!!!!! You’re absolutely right! Like I mentioned before, I had a very pivotal couple of years in both great ways and terrible ways. A lot of doors closed and I lost a lot, but at the same time a lot of doors opened and I grew a lot. I’ve always been fascinated by the passing of time and recognizing what changes and what stays the same. You take a look in a room in your house that you’ve lived in for years, a restaurant that’s been around for years that you’ve been going to for who knows how long, roads you travel on a daily basis. It’s very surreal when those moments hit in which you still find yourself in the same locations and environments, yet so much has changed. Different people come in and out of the picture, stories change, memories fade, and new ones are saved. Life goes very quickly and it won’t wait for you. The ticking clock symbolizes what feels like a “small period of time,” and the instruments fading into this huge orchestral piece is meant to sound like the welcoming of a new chapter/stage/era of my life that has a “LET’S GO!” attitude. To answer your second question, yes, I composed and arranged this entire piece myself. The female vocalist is the voice of Uyanga Bold; she’s one of Hans Zimmer’s vocalists and you can hear her on the soundtracks of The Dark Knight, Overwatch, and League of Legends.

There are almost elements of Avenged Sevenfold, like you put them all in a blender with a Bullet for my Valentine and Asking Alexandria. Are these influences to your music, in both your work under Josh Willis and also Andronikos?

I think I subconsciously mimic Avenged Sevenfold at times because I more or less pigeonholed my music selection in my teens to exclusively that band. They’re more or less permanently fused into me at this point, which may be for better or worse. I like Bullet and Asking Alexandria, but I wouldn’t say I listen to them enough for them to have an influence on my music. As far as Andronikos, I would say my bigger influences are Avenged Sevenfold, Hans Zimmer, and Sixx:AM, which I know is a very odd combination, but I think there are a lot of qualities to find in each artist’s material.

Archaic Anthem is probably my favorite track on the album. Has a bit of a Panic at the Disco start…. I love how it goes from a smooth piano played in the beginning and slams the guitars right in your face, I think it’s one of your best songs yet! Killer vocals as well. What song are you most proud of on this album?

Thank you for the kind words, I really like that song a lot! I actually wrote this song in my head while walking the streets of Las Vegas with my girlfriend. I love hair metal and glam metal, I love everything about the eighties metal scene even though I wasn’t alive yet. I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing a funny eighties song, so Archaic Anthem is what happened when I finally went through with it. It’s meant to be funny, have that cock rock attitude, and maybe even be considered a parody hair metal song. I’m probably most proud of Archaic Anthem and Bring Me Home. I think Bring Me Home is some of the best writing I’ve done so far, and my goal was to create an even balance of catchy radio rock and modern metal heaviness. I like that song a lot because of the strong Spanish guitar themes as well, and it’s also the most musically complex since, in addition to drums, bass, guitar, singing, I also put in a full brass section, maracas, orchestral strings, Spanish classical guitar, bongos, and there’s this huge choir that sings, “Bring Me Home” repeatedly at the beginning and during the ending of the song. I think it has some of my stronger lyrics too. Admittedly, I used to not really care about lyrics and therefore didn’t put a ton of effort into writing them. It’s just a huge song both lyrically and musically, so I’m really proud of it.

These songs take your listeners on an adventure, almost to another world it seems. Are these songs telling the story of Andronikos?

So when Chapter 2 comes out and you’ll be able to listen to the whole 10 song album in order, and it tells the story of this sadistic King who murders for fun, and generally hates everything. As the album progresses, he reveals a vulnerable side and a will to do good. The last song on Chapter 2, Conquering Andromeda, is my favorite track out of both chapters because this is the dramatic moment in which the King turns good, and the world sees the light at the end of the tunnel. When writing this story, in terms of “scenery” and environment, I wanted listeners to start by seeing Hell and end the album by seeing Heaven. The main message I want people to take away from this is that if it ever feels like you’re losing everything, I promise this isn’t the end, and sadness isn’t all you’ll ever be able to look forward to. Things always get better, trust me on that.

What made you want to make a record like this, these songs have so much power from what I’ve heard from you in the past?

Thank you so much, I’m really proud of these songs. I’m a firm believer that the more emotionally-charged I am, the better music I write. I think after taking life’s beatings, I wrote some of the best songs of my career because I put more feeling into them than anything I’ve done in the past, and I really had a lot I wanted to communicate to listeners this time around. Not only lyrically, but also musically I make it a huge priority to convey very specific feelings. The Song of Winter is a great example of this. This is a song that was meant to achieve character development of the king. The sound of wind, sleigh bells, and snide lyrics were intended to convey a cold, lonely, and heartless king with a hostile feeling towards the world. Bring Me Home sort of unveils the opposite of this. I wanted to write a set of songs that tell a story of a light at the end of the tunnel, and essentially pulling it together and conquering the world.

Now, I know you have done some pretty killer covers in the past, what you did with a Taylor Swift song was pretty fucking sweet! Can we expect to see anything like that again in the future?

Haha thanks!! Yeah those are always fun because it lets people get a different take on very well-known songs. I originally did the first Taylor Swift cover just to be funny, but then it ended up being really interesting to work on. I’ve got a couple crazy covers in the works right now that I’m really excited to tell people about.

When you aren’t creating these musical masterpieces, what have you been doing in the off time?

I don’t have off time, I’m always in costume getting into grand-scale crimes including jewelry store heists. Not really, I literally get the same flavor of coffee at Sheetz every morning and sit in organic chemistry class wishing I was at home asleep. Still in costume though, duh.

28424062_2126671394009984_391448357761970553_o

All these songs are so amazingly arranged, each is like a little piece of perfection. How much of the arrangements did you do on your own? Did you play all the instruments to loop over each other on each track?

100% of all of the instruments and vocals were performed myself. I did 100% of the musical writing, and I had some help from my producer, Grant McFarland, in writing vocal melodies. It was nice co-writing these vocals because we were able to make a compilation of each other’s best ideas and create one ultimate set of vocal parts. He really pushed me as a vocalist too on this record, which I’m grateful for. I’m still fairly new to singing and personally I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I think my voice grew a lot after working with him for days on this record.

Do you feel like you have grown a lot as an artist, from when you first began? What has changed for the good or worse?

I think I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the past few years in so many areas. I’ve learned so much invaluable material in the realm of professional music that I wouldn’t have gained without being involved in the bands that I was, even if I was only involved briefly. I think I’ve become motivated to be a better musician by actually practicing my instruments more. My writing has improved significantly since my last solo release, and I think everything is timed a certain way intentionally, so I don’t necessarily believe that anything has changed for the worse.

Can we expect a Chapter 2 sometime? What’s down the road for Andronikos? Where does he go in his downtime? I picture him living in a frozen castle on the cliffs in Norway…..

Chapter 1 has all of the calmer, radio-friendly, arena rock songs. Chapter 2: Stories from the Dark has all of the brutal, face-melting, soul-crushing, too-heavy-for-radio songs that will just annihilate listeners from start to finish. Anyone who enjoyed the slower and more peaceful pace of Chapter 1 is in for a rude awakening when Chapter 2 is released. Once Chapter 2 is out, I’d like to take King to the stage and make it a live show. I have a lot of wild ideas in mind for a live concert as far as implementing a really theatrical performance and production.

Any advice out there for any artists who are nervous about taking their music down different roads? Or even little bloggers like me……

No matter how different, outrageous, or ridiculous you think your new idea is, if you believe in it, then do it.

 

Great words to live by Josh, I think we could all take something from that.  I know I sure can!  No matter who wild your dream sounds, just do it!


All photos and use of youtube feature are courtesy of Josh Willis

If you would like to keep up on Josh and all his musical adventures, you can follow him on the following social media platforms;

Instagram: joshwillisofficial

Twitter: jwillisofficial

Check out his music, including this amazing new record on Apple Music, iTunes and Spotify.

And please subscribe to his Youtube channel, you can find it on the video posted in this very interview!

thank you again to Josh Willis for granting me this chance to interview him.  He’s a true hard working musician.  Keep making music that makes ears happy!!

Leave a comment, let Josh know what you think of his new EP!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Boots The Blessed: Damn Shame (Feat. Kydd Jones) .. This song is anything BUT a shame.

Some songs will stick to you like glue, others will bounce off you and end up in a lost pile on your phone.

Came across this song by chance, I tweeted another artist I consider one of the most talented rappers in the land of hip hop and rap, and that’s when I met Boots The Blessed.  Super cool and chill artist and producer from Texas.  He asked me if I wanted to listen to some new music, like perfect nature I said of course.  He told me he had a single out called “Damn Shame”, I immediately looked up the song and put the download onto my phone and gave it a listen while I was talking to him back and forth through text.  First thing I thought to myself, OH MY GOD.  Now there are times it may take a few listens for me to really get into a song, to really embrace it.  This track took me one listen and I was hooked.  It’s absolutely one of the best hip hop tracks I have heard in a long time.  Honestly, I alone could listen to just the instrumental to this song and be happy, so much melody and almost haunting sounds that play behind the vocals are a part of this killer song.  But when you add the vocals to it, it becomes such a piece of amazing musical art.  It’s one of those things where you don’t realize until 30 minutes later you have hit repeat over and over again.

It’s everything that hip hop should be, smooth and enjoyable.   Kydd Jones brings some freshness to the song, and trust me, the chorus is catchy and will stick in your head.

You can tell just by listening to this song, there is going to be nothing but greatness coming from Boots’ yet to be released album “Embers Burning….”  Video will be dropping soon as well, so keep your eyes open!  It’s beyond words amazing.

Head over to Apple or Spotify and download this masterpiece!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The History of……..

Sitting in between blogs is when my brain begins to work into overdrive.  I have one feature out and I’m waiting on it’s return and another that I am waiting on approval.  I am finding that I like to keep myself busy with this blog more and more, I’ve been thinking of ways to add different elements to it, not just interviews but I just recently started the music reviews and I’m wanting to do more.  I like to keep things rolling, last time I stopped for too long I almost gave up and that is no longer an option for me.  I will not quit……  This is something I’ve been longing to do all my life, this is NOT a hobby, this is my life.

For those who’ve asked me in the past what made me want to start a blog, I thought i’d post a little history feature about Stack Attacks Music.

For as far back as I can remember, I have always LOVED music. All kinds.  Mostly rock because it’s deeply rooted in my heart but I listened to a lot of different kinds growing up.  Some of the old country artists, Waylon, Willie, Dolly, Kenny, Oak Ridge Boys (I used to love the song Elvira, drove my babysitter crazy playing the 45 of the song).  but I loved music.  Posters all over my walls of the latest bands and singers that I thought were ultra cool as a kid.  I can vaguely remember having an obsession with Rob Lowe too when I was a kid (another day, another story, another blog lol)  but music made me happy.  It stuck with me all though my childhood, into my teens and now that I’m fo—- over 30, it has stuck with me.  My other love was always writing.  I can remember one of my favorite christmas gifts was a typewriter, I was on cloud nine when I opened up that sucker!  I couldn’t keep enough typing paper in the house to keep myself happy.  I wrote stories, poems….  always kept a journal.  It was just something that was like breathing to me, something I always did.  Writing.

Growing up, in high school, I fell in love with reading SPIN and Rolling Stone magazines, I loved how all these writers got to talk to these fascinating artists, ask them questions about their upcoming releases, it was always a dream for me.  I wanted to write for a magazine one day or maybe a paper.  To my younger readers, this was before Facebook, Twitter, online blogs….. Yeah we didn’t have snapchat when I was in 10th grade.  I know, how ever did we survive right?  When you wanted to Facetime your friends, you literally had to be looking at their faces…..in front of you….. in real time.  Shocker, i know!  After high school, I was going to go to college, study writing and journalism and I was going to make a name for myself.  Little did I know that Thyroid surgery was going throw me for a loop and everything went on hold.

Flash forward, Music has still remained such a huge influence in my life, the concerts I’ve gone to, the few bands that I have met along the way, 311, Matchbox Twenty, Escape the Fate, I Am Ghost…  It helped fuel that fire deep inside me.   But like most things in life, sometimes it just has to happen at the right time.

I remember one day sitting at work, I was talking to two of my very good friends and told them about wanting to start a blog.  It just hit me one night, now was my time.  I wanted to write a blog.  I had asked my good friend David Kelly in Unparalleled Height if he would be interested in doing a music interview, I was going to be starting a blog.  So between the conversations with some good friends, and getting started by setting up an interview with a band I have loved for a long time, Stack Attacks Music was born.  I was going to just post them on a personal blog but I wanted them to stand out on their own.  So, this is how I was brought here.  I gave them their own platform and now they shine like the truly brilliant gems that they are.  Both my friends and all the amazing interviews I have compiled along the way.  And thanks to the one who misspelled my name at one point, otherwise I wouldn’t be Stackie.  (I really gotta trademark that sucker)  I really don’t think if it wasn’t for the pushing and encouragement from them all, I don’t think Stack Attacks Music would be where it is today.  Growing and thriving each day.

I’ve been wanting to add more to it though, every artist hits a rough patch.  Interviews don’t come so easy at times but I’m ok with that.  Everything happens in it’s own time.  I reach out here and there to bands and singers, other individuals in the music field, asking for a chance to involve them in my blog.  Sometimes I hit the bulls eyes, sometimes I miss.  But it’s all part of the game.  Can’t win them all.  But I like to keep myself busy with it.  I’ve been starting to add music reviews, it’ll include both singles and full albums.  Just a little something new.  I want to make this blog the best it can be.

I want to prove to some that this is more than just something I love to do, that it’s more than a hobby.  I don’t just do this all for shits and giggles….. This is my life, it makes me happy.  It’s always been my dream and if there was one thing my Nana taught me, it’s never give up on those dreams.  she always wanted me to go to college, and I felt like I let her down because I never did.  So, I do this because i’m pursuing a dream, I am putting my heart and soul into each of these posts and it’s all she ever wanted me to do……  what makes me happy.   I hope I am making her proud.

All the support means the world to me, sharing this blog, even word of mouth, every little bit helps.  This is just the beginning…..  There is so much more to come from this little engine that could.  It’s no longer I think I can, it’s I KNOW I CAN!

thanks for all the support…… let’s keep this train rolling!

Here’s to more great things for Stack Attacks Music!

I have some really great things in the works!

 

 

Unparalleled Height: Taking Alessia Cara and Zedd’s STAY to a whole new level

The thing I love about music, it comes in so many levels.  Tons of genres, so many fantastic artists to listen to.  But what I love the most is when there are crossovers, when one genre carries over into another, especially in awesome and unique ways.  And that is exactly what the 4 bad ass guys from Pittsburgh’s own Unparalleled Height have done!

The hit song that has been all over the charts by Alessia Cara and Zedd ‘Stay’, they took this song and made it a killer cover with a bad ass metal kick to it.  From the strong vocals in the chorus and powerful verses from their lead vocalist David Kelly to the blazing guitar work of the amazing axe yielding CJ Masciantonio, this cover of Stay will make whoever listens to this track, their ears will be happy as hell!  We’ve been waiting for a while for something new from this band and I’ll be damned, they did not disappoint with this song!  In my own opinion, it ranks up there with the killer covers made in the past by iPrevail who covered Taylor Swift’s Blank Space and one of my favorite bands A War Within, who have covered Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling.  With Justin Welling like an animal on the drums and Marshall Boy growling his way through it all on bass, they really bring everything together in one fantastic package!  This blows the walls off Pop Goes Punk…  completely!!

These gentlemen should really pat themselves on the back, this track really sends this song out to a whole new genre, a higher level.  It honestly exceeded all expectations….  they truly have a great road ahead of them with their musical careers.  They give the song it’s kudos and makes me love it more than the original, which is honestly pretty damn amazing.

I cannot wait to see what’s next for them.  Guaranteed it’s going to be something you won’t want to miss!

Check it out for yourself, here’s the cover of Stay by Unparalleled Height, you can find it below or check it out on Ghost Killer Entertainment on Youtube. Or you can download it on Spotify and Apple Music and iTunes!

 

 

You can find out all you need to know about what’s happening in Unparalleled Height’s world, find them on Twitter @UPH_Official or Instagram @UnparalleledHeight  or you can find them on Facebook, just search Unparalleled Height.

BRAVO FELLAS!!

 

SODA: The Very Inspiring and Soulful Heart of a True Artist

The saying is, “Who says you can’t go home?”  Back in May 2016, I had the chance to interview a great band who I still hold dear to my heart, Noxcult.  Members Soda and Fox were gracious enough to answer a few questions for me and it became one of my favorite interviews I’ve done so far!  They have become more like my family, I adore these guys.  Although Noxcult is no longer an active group, I have stayed in touch with them.

I took a break from this music blog to focus on bettering myself and I decided it was time to make a comeback, and I wanted nobody else but my dear friend Soda to be the one to do another interview with!  There’s more to this man that meets the eye, he’s like a wonderful vibrant book of ideas, every page is a new adventure.  As you will see with the interview you are about to read.  We dabble into everything from a love of crafting to what makes his musical heart tick.  Such a giving heart this man has, let’s jump back into the world of Soda, my dear friend and part of my family.  Sitting down with him really was like going home.

I present to you, my interview with Soda.

enjoy!

IMG952018

(photos all courtesy of Soda)

How did the Therapy Sessions come about?

SODA–My new recording, “Therapy Sessions:An Experiment In Sound and Word” came about mainly because I wasn’t really playing in a band at the time and felt it was important for me to put something else into the universe, a solo recording especially. I had been uninspired for a short while before it started to take shape. I know that my roots as an artist have shaped mostly my whole life. I started to just record “ideas” until it became interesting enough. I would only work on it when I wanted to, there was no pressure. I wasn’t spending hours and scrutinizing any parts of it. If I started to get into more than 3-4 takes, it just wasn’t working. I wanted to create something under produced and make up for that experimentally and artistically. I absolutely love the finished product. I feel like the whole thing some what brings me back to the beginning.

You’ve said to me before that they are different from what you’ve released before, what made you create such amazing collage of tracks?

SODA–Well, thank you…the whole thing is really just a stream of consciousness experiment. There are really only 2 proper songs on it from the 9 tracks that make it up. My many releases are mostly different from the last but all very much in the SODA realm. I appreciate that you refer to it as a collage.

______________________________________________

~~I refer to them as a collage, just because I feel like saying it’s an EP or what they call “mix tapes” gives it the justice it’s so deserving of!  It’s a brilliant mix of different sounds and tones, totally diverse collection.  I really love it!~~

______________________________________________

I have to say Deep Sleep and I Am a Haunted House have to be probably my two favorite tracks, what is the concept behind each?

SODA–“Deep Sleep” is a song about the passing of my Mother. I was by her bedside when she took her last breath. “IAAHH” is inspired by the fact of how I can somewhat sometimes feel like an empty vessel. A cold hallway full of loss and memories but buried beneath it all is a light. “I am so dead…I live”.

Your music has always been so true and personal, which track on this new collection do you feel really shows your listeners more of you?

SODA–Thank you again. Most of what I have done for the past many years has been an open love letter to the broken-hearted…the freaks, the geeks. This whole thing is very personal. There are pieces of me in each component. It’s hard for me to pick one.

So aside from making music, you love to talk about music, you created your own podcast. You also have a really amazing blog which I love reading. How did your podcast come about? Tell us about Music-Survival-Guide.. your podcast and your blog named the same.

SODA–I do love to talk about it. It excites me when other people get excited about the same stuff. I will always say, that first and foremost, I’m a “fanboy”. Although I HATE the word/term “fan” but it is true. My love for this stuff is what inspired me to follow along in the fist place. My knack for writing and love and knowledge of music seemed just like a match made in heaven and something that obviously needed to be paired up. It started slowly and just turned into something really neat that people have shown appreciation for. Turning it all into a podcast seemed to be the next logical move. And, I have been loving it.

*Check out his amazing podcast with the members of one of his past projects, NOXCULT*

You are always pretty talented with your art and making some pretty awesome crafts, Soda’s Crafty Chaos. where do these ideas come from? You seem to have an never-ending plethora of talent. the candles you make are pretty kick ass!

SODA–Thank you yet again! It all comes down to the fact that I like to keep busy. I’m wound pretty tight, more than the average human. All that energy needs to go somewhere so I turn it into something positive and i just love doing it. When I’m not in the mood for something I’ll work on something else. My trials and tribulations have all been spun into what I do. THAT is why you get such honesty in my efforts. I will never candy coat anything.

_______________________________________________

~~Honesty is the best policy, it’s a part of what I live by~~

_______________________________________________

You live in one of the most amazing cities in the world, that has to feel like a continual fuel to your fire of art and the music world. It has to be such a powerful feeling, right?

SODA–At one point, yes. I do love NY and am a New Yorker to the fullest and will probably be here forever. But other places I have seen and traveled to have also been a tremendous inspiration. Toronto especially. Many years ago Hawksley Workman told me to move there and that within 6 months I would be famous. I never did, but I’ve never forgotten that. Should I have taken that chance? Maybe…but we can’t dwell on the past.

____________________________________________

~~Like I always say Soda, those who dwell in the past are doomed to repeat it.  Live in today, don’t worry about tomorrow~~

_____________________________________________

FB95IMG95

(photo provided by Soda)

Think back to your first musical memory, what can you remember made you look at music and think “yes… this is a path I want to take”?

SODA–The first time I laid eyes on Nuno and Gary from Extreme in the “Kid Ego” video, that solidified the moves I wanted to make. Before that there was many other artists like Bon Jovi, Boy George…but Nuno and Gary just flipped the switch.

___________________________________________

~~Now this gets me where I live….  Extreme, Hole Hearted, I will not lie, I still rock out to this jam every so often.  I swear it never gets old!~~
___________________________________________________

Sometimes in this day and age, through all the tragedy and painful events, do you ever find yourself lost in all the pain and suffering, like losing sight of reality? does it ever effect how you create your music? Have you ever found yourself lost in a rabbit hole from the current events and hit a road block creatively?

SODA–I never lose sight of reality, I accept it and use it. Life has always influenced me. Most of my work does stem from personal experience, but, actually later, with my last band, NOX CULT I felt I had touched on certain subjects in such a way I never had. Bullying, Animal Abuse, Ego Maniacs…it’s all there.

Is there anything musically that you haven’t created yet that you are dying to do? Any genre you’d ever want to dabble in just once?

SODA–I’d love to make a total Pop record, but thats always been kinda hard for me. I’m really good at making more experimental and alternative music. I also really want to make an electronic type record…like Erasure, Blaqk Audio, Darren Hayes…stuff like that.

I have to say, you have a pretty impressive collection of old school things, little figures, lunch boxes, what are some of your prized things you have found?

SODA–That is VERY hard for me to answer. I mean, as much as I love STUFF and am such an uber geek sometimes. My prized possessions are really anything Family or Friend related. BUT, anytime you want to come over we can totally freak out over some plastic!

______________________________________________

~~You have a deal my friend!  We can both uber geek over collectables and music over a cup of coffee, lunch is on me!~~

______________________________________________

Ok… I need to ask this. Noxcult, will there ever be a comeback? or is it a just wait and see thing? Inquiring minds want to know…. you guys made some pretty kick ass music!

SODA–Well, just a few weeks ago the 3 of us were in the same room together for the first time in about 2 years. We “reunited” actually for an episode of the MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE Podcast. But, right now that is all I can see for NOX CULT. I just don’t want to do it. That for me was a really nice way to put a sweet bow onto a really great and powerful package after all that time.

______________________________________________

~~Agreed, you guys are a great group of musicians and artists, and what you put together was some amazing music.  Love having you all in my musical family~~

_______________________________________________

FB95IMG95 (1)

(PHOTO PROVIDED BY Soda)

So music is like your superman side, your musical persona… what is your Clark Kent side that others often don’t see? What do you do behind the scenes that most might not know?

SODA–I work with kids during the day in educational enrichment. They call me Professor Soda-Pop. The Soda world is vast baby doll. I build it daily. I’m actually a pretty reserved guy. I’m a straightedge vegetarian. I also like to disappear more nowadays than I ever have actually…

What can we expect from you next? any hints at to what’s on the horizon for Soda?

SODA–I may release some more older or unreleased music. Soda’s Crafty Chaos will continue to do geeky shows and we will just continue to grow MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE. I’m also very focused on a few personal goals.

I want to say just listening to your Inspire. Inspired. Inspirational. track off of “Therapy Sessions”, it really helped me kickstart myself back into gear. I had taken a break from blogging and almost shelved it all but after hearing that track, I really honestly bounced back and forth the idea of just putting it all on hold indefinately but something within your spoken track, lit the fire inside my soul again and I really felt energized. Thank you! it was like a breath of fresh air!

SODA–Thank you, for the fourth time? THAT right there is why I do these things. Hearing that is more than any amount of money or fame could ever grant me.

__________________________________________________________________________

Well, that was one heck of a way to jump back into the world of Stack Attacks Music!  What an amazing interview, I am so happy with this!  Thank you again Soda for allowing me to peek into your world again.  You truly inspire me each and every single day,  and you have instilled so much wisdom into my heart. Thank you for allowing me to go home again!

If you would like to check out what Soda is up to in the music world or just get to know a fantastic man, here are the platforms in which you can do so:

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/officialsoda

Twitter- @SodaSurvive

Instagram- @SodaSurvive

Website: http://www.officialsoda.com

Bandcamp: officialsoda.bandcamp.com

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/officialsoda/an-ending (if you would like to hear the amazing collection that drove me to want to do this interview)

You can also check out his fantastic blog he has right here on WordPress!  Go to https://musicsurvivalguide.wordpress.com/

THANK YOU FOR READING!!!  if you would like to contact me for possible interview opportunities, you can reach me at stackattacksmusic@gmail.com

check out my instagram: @lifeofstackie

and my twitter account: @lifeofstackie

Feel free to leave comments and let us know what you think!

Seeing the music world from another perspective: Justin Dixon of Prevailer Entertainment

From the other posts in this blog, I have taken you down many different roads in the music world.  Rock, metal, all different spectrums of the wonderful rainbow of music that this world has to offer.  But today I give you a different side to take a look at.
I got a chance to interview a local promoter, Justin Dixon, who books bands are venues for various shows and other features to get their music out there and heard.  When you think about it, if it wasn’t for the promotion of music, their voices wouldn’t get heard, their music wouldn’t get played and records wouldn’t get bought.  So Justin has a pretty important job, which he loves doing.
Here’s a little sneak peek into the life of Justin Dixon, owner of Prevailer Entertainment.
______________________________________________________________________________________
Let’s begin by telling the readers who you are and what your position at Prevailer Entertainment is, you know, the whole name, rank and serial number?
JD–hahah Justin Dixon, My rank is owner, Promoter, Talent buyer
Where is your promotion company based out of?
JD–Prevailer is based out of Falls Creek, PA but I usually do shows in Dubois and Reynoldsville and some house shows at my place.
Sometimes people tend to stick to one level of sound when it comes to a band and they don’t stray from the pack and stick with that one genre of music.  Explain to everybody the types of bands/artists you look for when you do promotions/shows?
JD–The type of bands. Back when I first started doing this it was Death Metal and hardcore but I’ve broadened my horizon over the years and have work with bands of a lot of genres such as Rock, Metal, Death Metal, Hardcore, Post hardcore, Pop Punk.
What type of workload do you usually deal with when you are doing shows?  How many do you handle at a time?
JD–I pretty much handle everything while promoting a show its all about networking so I’m always out there handing out flyers and talking to people about shows and sometimes I have two or three that I’m working on while getting everything together for the one that’s happening.
What are some of the benefits and drawbacks you have seen in the field when you handle promoting for bands?
JD–The benefits are getting to work with so many talented bands and meeting new people who are out there trying to make a name for themselves sometimes you make a new friend out of it as well. The drawback is sometimes you work with bands that think they are better than everyone and have shitty attitudes that’s when I kill them with kindness and when they try to come back I basically tell them no or don’t even answer them those type of bands don’t last long.
Do you feel as though Social Media helps alot more now than it would before the technical age?  do you think back before the facebook age, what you do now would be handled in the same manner?
JD– As I said earlier its all about marketing and how you put yourself out there. Sure social media and Facebook help but you also have to be out there hanging up flyers and going out and meeting people the whole social media thing could end anytime but word of mouth lasts a long time.
Do you see a larger spectrum in the future for Prevailer Entertainment?  Or do you rather handle things on a more local scale?
JD–Honestly you never know what could happen I take everything as it comes. If I was presented an opportunity to do a huge national show with bands that have a lot of draw then sure I will. with that said I love the local scene have for 20 years.
It’s not always easy to get this or that band for a show, how do you get access to a particular band you want for a show? or do they contact you mostly?
JD–When I first started this I mainly just kept it local because I didn’t have experience with a lot of this but I have some pretty awesome friends that taught me a lot and I’ve also learned a lot on my own. I normally get offers from agencies or bands that I know on tour.
Nowadays you can lookup bands music, photos, tour dates, just about everything on the internet…..do you think bands these days would gain as much notoriety without Facebook/Twitter and other social media platforms?
JD–I think it would be a lot harder to get the music out there without touring and word of mouth.
10. 10 years from now, looking down the road, where do you see music as a whole? where would you like to be on a promotional level?
JD–10 years from now hmm I honestly don’t know it has changed so much over the years. As far as where I would like to be. Id love to do both National and local id love to have packed shows where there is no room to walk its getting there.
There are so many sides of the music business, how do you think other bands can survive out there with so much competition against each other?
JD– Its all in how you present yourself be friendly and don’t have a shitty attitude.
Tell us the future of Prevailer entertainment, what is ahead for you Justin.
JD– I wish I had a crystal ball to answer this you never know the future or whats ahead I take this day by day
__________________________________________________________________________________
If you’d like to check out Justin’s promoting page for Prevailer Entertainment, it can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PrevailerEntertainment/
Thanks for reading!
Check back soon, more great things from Stack Attacks Music are coming very SOON!!!!!!

Melissa Harding: My Conversation with a Strutter Extraordinare

Music has always been my go-to for everything, to heal, to move, it’s been my everything. Recently, due to a roller coaster of events, this has held a true tone, especially after losing a dear friend.  And it also brought me an incredible blessing, which is this amazing interview I am about to bring you.  I decided to start doing my interviews again and I thought, Ok ill reach out again, see who would like to do an interview with me.

Never in my wildest dreams, would I imagine I would get a response from one of the ladies who sings with my absolute favorite band, SIXX: A.M.  If anybody knows me, they know how much it means to me and when Melissa Harding agreed to an interview, I was Flabbergasted.  Stunned.  Shocked.  Humbled.

I was more than happy to be able to sit down and ask her some questions and find out some things that she likes when she’s off the road with one of the greatest bands in history, learns she LOVES herself an adorable puppy (who doesn’t, puppies are GREAT! I love our dog Spike!)  and just really get to know Melissa, like she was an old friend I’ve known for years.  And I hope you get that from this interview, like I have.

I would like to dedicate this interview to Tom Spadafora…  You sir, you were a rockstar in your own right and you are truly missed.  This one’s for you Tom!  I only wish you were here to read it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you….. Melissa Harding!

 

_________________________________________________________________

melissa3

(header and above photo, credit to Monika Greenaway Photography)

 

Have you always wanted to perform? Was music your first love in the performing arts?

MH–I think I always knew I wanted to perform. My mom put me into voice lessons when I was 9 because I wouldn’t stop singing! When I was 10 years old, I joined “Belasco Theatre Company” which was a children’s theater company in the Bay Area run by the amazing Eddie Belasco – that company changed my life. Musical Theatre became by home – I did show after show after show, never growing tired of being up on stage, learning the script, the blocking, the choreography, the vocal parts. I loved creating characters. I really love live theater. Belasco gave me a safe place to explore my love of performing, and it gave me a place to develop my voice.

I love to sing, but I also have a deep love of acting that developed during that time. Acting has always been incredibly important to me, and it plays a huge part in my understanding of songwriting and interpretation of music – understanding the words and the story, how we talk to each other, how we express emotion and connect to another person through song. The process of discovering those connections is very moving to me, and its something I am always looking to learn more about. I have a successful voice teaching business in LA, and it’s amazing how much time I spend in those lessons talking about acting. I believe they are connected in the most wonderful way.

Looking back as far as you can, what is one of your most treasured memories of music?

MH–The first concert I ever went to was Neil Diamond. My mom and dad were both fans, and I grew up listening to his “Hot August Nights” concert over and over again on vinyl. I think I was about 7, and I remember that night: I remember his sequins, his big band so full of energy, the audience responding to “Sweet Caroline,” full of passion singing back to him. Neil writes really wonderful lyrics. I have always loved the stories he created in his songs. “Solitary Man” will always be one of my favorite songs about heartache, so simple and so honest. He was one of the first artists that made me fall in love with songwriting. I never thought he was a brilliant singer per-say, but it doesn’t matter. His voice has character, and he uses it to tell his stories. I say that to my students a lot – no one cares if your voice is perfect or if you’re the “prettiest” singer, they care if you have something to say.  

 

Growing up, did you have any big influences in your life personal and musically to fuel your passion to sing and create music? How did they help you grow as an artist?

MH–I was always inspired by James, ever since I was a kid. We met when I was 10 years old, and I grew up knowing his music (this was well before the Sixx:A.M. years). He was the first person I knew that was an active musician, writing and creating his own albums. That was incredibly inspiring for a kid to watch. I was so fascinated by the fact that he had a studio in his house, and he had made that music in that room. He was on the radio. It really blew my mind.

He was the first person to ever put me behind a mic in the studio in fact, the first person ever to record my voice in a professional setting. We stayed connected through the years, and he always encouraged me, told me to keep writing and exploring who I could be as an artist. He believed in me enough to give me my first professional touring job singing with Sixx:A.M. and being his on the road vocal coach. He has changed my life and believed in me since the beginning. I could never thank him enough for all he’s done for me, for every opportunity he’s given me, and for every piece of advice when the road got rocky or I lost my way. I wouldn’t be the musician I am today without his influence and his friendship.

 

You have such a powerhouse voice, you are part of the tag team crew that sing backing vocals for the kick ass band Sixx: A.M. along side Amber Van B. (who by the way also kicks a ton of ass). What is it like stepping out on the stage and singing with some of the most talented musicians this world has ever seen?

MH–It has been a dream come true singing with Sixx:A.M. I love rock music of all kinds, but given that my background was in classical voice and musical theater, I never thought I’d be given the opportunity to sing with a band like this. I have a lot of friends that say, “Melissa… I never thought I’d see you touring with metal bands!” and it’s amazing that it’s true – it’s been an incredibly unique experience. I’m not sure there are many other female backup singers in the heavy rock world, but Sixx:A.M. is a uniquely theatrical band, we do all kinds of singing, and we are having a blast!

I love the moments before we walk out onstage. We have our individual warm up routines, and we have our own moments together between band members, pumping each other up. Walking out and seeing the audience for the first time is always a rush, seeing the whole room, finding the different personalities in the crowd, seeing which fans are new, which ones we’ve seen before. We have a job to do when we get up there – we have to give as much energy as possible to reach each and every one of those people, and we have to work together to do that. That relationship with my band mates on stage is really incredible. I am inspired by their musicianship every day, and we really do have fun performing as a team.

melissa5

Melissa with her bandmates of SIXX: A.M Amber Van B, Dustin Steinke, Nikki Sixx, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Melissa Harding

(photo credit given to Jennifer, Instagram nyr1023)

 

Do you have any Pre-show warmups that get you ready before each show to get your voice into top notch shape? What do you know you CANNOT do if you know you’ll be singing a hefty set?

MH–I LOVE this question! One of my main jobs on the road is being James’s voice coach, so his voice being in tip top shape is always priority #1. So we always check in during the day pre-show to see where his voice is at. If sickness is going around, we work to deal with that as best we can too! It’s hard when you’re living on the bus!

Generally, our pre-show warm up consists of a few exercises, but we don’t spend too much time warming up. You always want to warm up in relation to how much work you have ahead. You warm up a little naturally by talking during the day – you just don’t want to overuse it. Our 45 minute set on the last few tours was intense – lots of intense singing back to back. For that set (which moved pretty quickly), no huge warm up required – just enough to make sure the muscles are ready for that!

Post show, we have a warm down routine that is even more important! That is a technique I learned from my brilliant voice coach, Mary Jo Duprey in Los Angeles. We always make sure to do the warm down. It’s important after singing a heavy set to give the vocal chords some TLC, and calm them back down before you go to bed. It is such a valuable part of maintaining your voice!

 

Traveling the world, you all get to see some amazing cities, and beautiful countries. Where have you been that has been some of your favorite places to be?

 

MH–I traveled a lot as a kid, so being on long plane rides is nothing new to me – but touring with Sixx:A.M. gave me the opportunity to go to so many places I might never have had the chance to go. My favorite place I have been on tour with Sixx:A.M. is Japan. Maybe Japan holds a special place in my heart because it was the first big show I played with the band, the first show we ever traveled to play – but it is a magical country that really had an affect on me. The people are so wonderfully kind and gracious, and the culture is so respectful and welcoming. I really love it there. I can’t wait to go back for a real vacation!

I also loved our time in Europe and Canada. I have done a lot more traveling in Europe, and our tours took us to so many new, amazing cities. I have specific memories I will never let go of… Falling in love with Sweden, discovering Quebec City (AMAZING!), eating sushi in Frankfurt on a super rainy day, and watching Rammstein in Italy in a crowd of 30,000, feeling so inspired by their creativity. We have had some amazing opportunities, discovering new cultures and listening to all kinds of music in some of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

 

When you aren’t traveling with the band, you have an online social media segment you do called “Strutter Song Saturdays” where you do a cover of some of your fan requested favorite songs, what made you want to start this? (Which by the way is one of my favorite things)

MH–I’m so glad you enjoy it! I love doing Strutter Song Saturdays! I wanted to do it because I wanted to sing something new every week for fun – I love to work my singing brain, and I love to challenge myself to try new things. I thought that would be a really unique way to do that, asking anyone out there to send me a request, lets see what I can make happen with the songs you choose!

Strutter Song Saturdays is an opportunity for me to show the world that I am a singer who will sing live anytime, any sort of song, any sort of style. Throw it at me, lets see what I can do! I have over 50 song requests written down, so I work through the list and pick at random every week based on how I’m feeling! Thanks to everyone out there who has sent in a request – it’s so much fun!

 

Not sure if you agree, but the state of the country right now can be kind of scary at times. I find my way to escape the “crazy” of it at times is through music and writing. Do you think music can be a healing device when times get tough?

MH–Absolutely. Music heals – it truly does. ART heals. Through all sorts of art, we find ways to relate to each other on a human level. The world is a heated place right now, there is conflict and sadness all around us – but through music we find common ground. We can reach out with our words and melodies and touch people, relate to someone else without judgment. Music can provide a place of understanding, and it can open our hearts to emotion – it can break through tough exteriors and present another way of experiencing love, anger, grief, acceptance, etc. Through a song, we can be transported, and that is a truly beautiful gift. When an artist touches us, it can be life changing.

 

Who are some of your go to artists when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and just slide into a new groove?

MH–I listen to all kinds of music. I’ve been using my record player a lot – been listening to some Elvis, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Steely Dan, Billie Holiday, The Rolling Stones, Tony Bennett, Neil Diamond, Glenn Miller, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Simon and Garfunkle… I love all of those musicians so much! I have my favorites that I listen to over and over for sure.

I am a fan of so much music, but since we’ve been home, I have been on a real jazz kick lately! I have been listening to Melody Gardot – love the vibe of her music, what a voice! I’ve also been listening to Leslie Odom Jr’s album (Leslie is a friend, and watching his work has inspired me greatly – he is a TRUE talent). I also occasionally throw on a Dixieland playlist! Last year, Dixieland Christmas was my JAM… I love instrumental stuff, just good musicians doing there thang!

 

How does the onstage Melissa differ from the offstage Melissa?

MH–I gotta tell ya, offstage Melissa is a real homebody! I love my room, I love my space, and I love spending time alone in sweat pants binge watching Netflix. As I’ve gotten older, a few things have happened: I am not a party animal anymore (I rarely have more than 2 glasses of wine, and those are few and far between as well), and I really value my space and my solitude! Offstage, I am known to crack lots of jokes… I may or may not talk in funny voices to make my friends laugh, and I lose my mind around puppies. I am a loyal friend, I LOVE good conversation over good food, and I love being busy and having lots of projects going on at once.

(first photo credit Monika Greenaway Photography, second photo sixxammusic.com)

When I first started this blog, it started as a dream. I wanted to be a writer and I love music and I wanted to mesh them all together and one day I want to do it for a living but at times I have doubters and people who shun me out. What do you say to those types of people when they spill negativity over someone’s creativity?

 

MH–I always try to respond to that sort of stuff with humor… I guess thats just my personality: I’m not good at keeping my mouth shut sometimes. So I go to my humor, I find other ways to respond. I don’t take myself that seriously… so why are they responding so seriously? I’ve had people leave me rude comments on youtube videos or over twitter… I always think to myself, “Man, they must have a lot of time on their hands.” It always seems a bit silly to me… What’s the point? Why does slamming others make people feel good? So my response is usually something like “I always appreciate constructive criticism – I will keep your thoughts in mind as I’m always looking to get better!” – I figure a little sarcasm never hurt no one.

I think engaging in negativity just creates more negativity. I think learning to laugh at yourself is super important, especially if you’re in entertainment or in some way, putting your creativity into the world. I know there are people out there that are going to try to hate on me, make me feel bad about myself, unimportant, stupid and untalented… But they don’t know me. They don’t know my story, how hard I’ve worked, the way I was raised, who I truly am as a person. Thats just one opinion that I can live without. I have no reason to take on their sadness, anger, or judgement!

 

Do you have any comforts of home you bring with you when you go out on tour? Besides your awesome Converse.. (i have 5 pair so welcome to the club)

MH–It’s strange that I’m so new to converse… Just got my first pair last year. And now I have 5. I LOVE THEM! I don’t know why I’m so late to the party!

I always bring DVD’s on the road – Some of my feel good favorites, guilty pleasures… And I also always have candy in my bunk. I have a bedside table at home that always has sweets in it, little treats that I have before bed. So I keep that routine going on the road. I always get a little candy crazy. I also started bringing travel candles this last tour – I find that having that for my hotel room always makes me feel more cozy away from home. We always have candles on the bus as well!

 

Music business can be scary at times, I have seen some of my friends hit highs and lows and I’ve seen them go through some really rough times. What kind of advice do you have for someone who’s trying to get a start in a segment of the music business?

 

MH–I love this question, and the advice I would give (that I have heard from other trusted friends before) is this: work with people you LIKE. Work with GOOD PEOPLE. Keep close the people that you feel you really connect with and can trust. If you want to continue feeling inspired and driven, you need to find like minded people. There are so many personalities in the entertainment business, and people are in it for different reasons. Don’t forget who your friends are: there are people all around who will want a piece of what you have, who will try to manipulate you because of their own motives. Trust your gut and surround yourself with people that don’t make you question your talent or your work. Work with people who see your visions and help you carry them farther – who support your creativity and encourage you constructively.

melissa4

Melissa during one of SIXX: A.M. stellar performances!

(photo credit given to NYR1023, Jennifer)

 

When you aren’t performing or traveling, what do you like to do in your downtime?

MH–My days in LA are pretty busy! When I’m not on tour, I do some sort of work 7 days a week. I’m always running around doing something productive (I love to-do lists way too much!) I try to make time for exercise every day – I attempt to work out 6 days a week, even if its just a quick 10 minutes of cardio. I love to go to dance classes and yoga classes. I also have a spin bike in my room, and I love hiking. (I will be doing a lot more hiking when my puppy comes home March 13th! Buckley is gonna come with Mama and get a workout!) I haven’t quite figured out how to be that active on the road!

I am usually in the middle of a book, and I’m an avid cook! I really value my health, and I love being in the kitchen cooking fresh meals at home. When I’m not working, I love to keep up with various TV shows, and I always follow movies and go out of my way to watch the most raved about acting performances of the year! I’m a member of SAG – Aftra, and although I’m not auditioning for acting work regularly right now, I love being a part of the community. I hope to have time for more acting at some point!

 

What would be your absolute dream collaboration?

 

MH–Singing with Tony Bennett has always been a dream. When I saw that Lady Gaga was doing a tour with him, I thought to myself, “Damn… Gaga… you so LUCKY!” Haha! I just LOVE him! He is a real singer, a true vocal artist. I used to listen to the Tony Unplugged album over and over again when I was young – I would study the way he used his voice to tell a story. His phrasing is effortless, and his voice has aged so beautifully. Every time I see him sing live, I am reminded of what it means to really value your voice and what a gift it is to sing and connect to people. He always does great collaborations with amazing singers, and I hope he continues to sing another hundred years so I will have a chance to share a stage with him and live out that fantasy. And if it stays a fantasy forever, thats okay too. He’s taught me so much!

melissa7

(photo credit to Monika Greenaway Photography, from Melissa’s official Instagram)

_________________________________________________________________

There you have it!  Thank you so much again Melissa for allowing me a moment into your busy life, it was a true honor and blessing to be allowed to include you along side the other amazing artists in my blog.  You keep kicking some serious ass girl, I cannot wait to see Buckley posts when you finally get him!

If you would like to find out more about Melissa and all her adventures, you can find her at the following social media platforms:

Instagram: @MelissaKHarding

Twitter: @MelissaKHarding

Facebook  www.facebook.com/melissahardingmusic

Youtube you can search for her under Melissa Harding and check out her awesome videos for Strutter Song Saturdays!

I am Stacie, this is Stack Attacks Music!

If you’d like to leave a comment, please do.  Let me know what you think, let Melissa know as well.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to contact me, shoot me an email stackattacksmusic@gmail.com

or you can reach me on Instagram or Twitter, both LifeOfStackie

ROCK ON!