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!

 

 

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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!

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(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.

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~~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!~~

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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.

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

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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.

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

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(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.

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~~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!~~
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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!

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

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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.

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~~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~~

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(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.

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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.
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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
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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!

 

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(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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where there’s dark, you can find the light

This blog is going to be a little bit different, a little sidetrack from the regular.

It’s more like a journal entry that I wanted to share.  I sat down and wanted to write this.  it had to be shared.

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Safe to say it hasn’t been the greatest beginning to a year.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been friends with a wonderful lady named Karen.  I mean, for real, as long as I can remember back, they have been friends.  I can sit and think back to making food for picnics with her, even making Easter candy with the chocolate melts and the molds.   Always great times!  Always laughter and carrying on…  we knew how to have fun.

Recently Karen lost her husband Tom.

I thought, what?? NO!!!  I’ll never forget  when mom called me at work and told me of his passing, it felt like a punch to the stomach.  Tom was such a great guy, a great craftsman and a funny as all heck.  I thought, it can’t be so.  All I could think of was, please God, please give Karen the strength right now.  Strength for her and his family over his loss.  I know some think that praying isn’t worth the time but I believe deep in my heart, if you just take the time to send your message out to God, he will listen to you.  She has such an amazing support system, but I still prayed.  God is good and he will get you through.

I have to say I’m really going to miss seeing his face when I take my niece trick or treating up to their house, hearing his booming voice when the door opens and he sees us standing there and he would get that big smile on his face, Tom loved kids, especially his grandkids.  Gonna miss seeing when Tom and Karen would go for their walks when the weather would be warmer out and give them a friendly hello…..  I wish I would have had the courage to stand up at his service to say something but I am horrible at public speaking so the only thing I could do was choke back my tears.   Even though you don’t see someone on a daily basis, the impact they make on you can be felt for days and years to come.  That’s the kind of man Tom was.  And he’s really going to be missed by many.

It makes me sad that the last conversation I had with him was Halloween about this blog and what I was going to do next.  About possibly making a logo for it, maybe do new things, maybe a few new bands.  the next one is going to be in your memory Tom.

Every second we have while we are here, we need to cherish them.  God holds the key to when we hand in our punch cards, it’s not up to us.  Dance a little more, sing a little louder, and it’s ok to eat that cheeseburger every once in a while *hey i’m chubby and I embrace it*  I only hope I’m making those whom I love dearly proud.   But we need to love those around us, each day is a gift.  Some take those for granted.  This big world spins around far too fast sometimes and if we blink, it’s all over.  Love what God gives you.

Karen and Chip and family, you are all in my prayers and always in my thoughts.  I love you guys!!  this one’s for you!

Just remember, don’t lose that light.

IN MEMORY OF TOM SPADAFORA

 

 

 

 

 

Bright Lights and Big Dreams: Kevin Vonesper Made It All Happen

Music is the best thing ever.  No matter what mood you are in, it gets you through.  Good, bad, downright ugly.  It’s there for you like a warm soft blanket of comfort.  It can take you places without even leaving your room.

Kevin Vonesper is no exception.  I met him through a mutual friend after listening to one of my favorite songs and saw he had done a remix of it.  And after that day, the rest has been history.  I was so excited and completely honored when I asked him to be part of this music blog and he accepted.

From the bright lights of NYC to the cool streets of Queens, Kevin takes us through the beginning of the band Vonesper and everything in between.  It was quite fun and an honor to do this interview and learn more about a band who’s been rocking and rolling for 15 years!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

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Name/Rank/Serial number

KV–Hi! This is Kevin Vonesper, founder of Vonesper (member #1).

Vonesper is based from New York City, what’s the music scene like there? How do you fit in?

KV–Yes, we are based in Astoria, Queens/NYC. Queens brought us some great bands in the past like KISS and Ramones. Today there are a ton of bands in every scene. Vonesper doesn’t really have a scene so we don’t really fit in anywhere, but at the same time we can fit in anywhere. Our sound has range so we could adopt a set to play in any scene from pop to metal.

How did Vonesper get started?

KV–I started Vonesper in 2001 as a senior in high school. It was just a new name to put to the demos I was creating as my band at the time Project Mayhem was coming to an end. When I started college, I took those ideas into a new project called Putty Root which I created with Valerie Abbey (who went on to be in The Cruxshadows, Angelspit, and now Abbey Death). It wasn’t until about 2004 that I started actually releasing demos under the name Vonesper and finally formed the first live band for it in 2006.

How did you decide on the name for the band? Being that it’s your last name but there are many members to the group.

KV–Well, the not-so-secret is that Vonesper is a stage name, not my birth name. It was a name I had heard as far back as possibly middle school that I thought was cool and always remembered. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t a real word and thus could be re-defined as a title for a band or brand, kind of like Weezer (what the fuck does that mean?). Some Google research may uncover where it originally came from but I like the idea that it is a clean palate.

 

What kind of style of music do you feel that you fit into? Share a little info about your sound.

KV–Our sound is an amalgamation of all the things I love. It’s a huge and limitless sound. I would call us punk rock in that the ideas are original and the approach is DIY. I like to use heavy guitar sounds (like Deadsy or Coal Chamber) but also incorporate orchestral arrangements (like World/Inferno Friendship Society or The Beatles), and to top it off we have a vocalist who can actually sing her face off. Because we don’t stick to any particular genre’s formula of sound or song structure, we can fit in anywhere but nowhere in-particular. I grew up on bands that had similar ranges of style (NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Faith No More) which seems to be lost on people these days because there is a lack of these kinds of bands in the popular culture.

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Vonesper has been around for 15 years, that’s amazing these days seeing groups come and go. What gives you all the staying power you need?

KV–I think being the only consistent member helps, haha. As long as I continue using the name, Vonesper can exist. Also, having a unique perspective on what it means to be a band. I am influenced not only by the sound of bands, but also how they structure them. For example, I have been a member of Green Jelly on and off since 2008. The creator Bill Manspeaker has had that band since before I was born and has had literally hundreds of people in and out of the band over the years. Now he just has what he calls franchise bands in every area so he can travel by himself and play anywhere, anytime without the stress of traveling with a band and all the equipment. Also bands like World/Inferno who have a sort of whomever is around at the time is in the band approach. For Vonesper, the project now has 3 core members (myself, Kris Halpern and Jess-O-Lantern) but has no limit to who collaborates with us in the studio, on stage, or with artwork. So far we have had 37 people, including myself, who have been members in various capacities over the years. Some people maybe for an hour in the studio, some for years. Some of my earliest contributors still work with us today even if they do it remotely.

 

The new single Battle Plan, it’s amazing, great sound in such a short but sweet tune. What made you want to do a video for this particular track?

KV–Aww, thank you. I started over 40 demos over the Summer. We dwindled those down to a smaller batch to focus on and ended up recording live drums for 7 of them (so far) with my favorite living drummer Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, Scarlet Sails, NIN). Of those 7, Battle Plan seemed like the best song to put out first. We wanted to sort of re-launch Vonesper as a brand and thought it was the best introduction to the new era: a one-minute blast of punk rock energy that still included all the elements that define our sound (loud guitars, lush violin and horns, hard hitting drums). Plus, we launched it with a Patreon page which is our so called “Battle Plan” going forward. We like the idea of being supported by our fans while being able to put out our music for free.

(GIVE A LISTEN TO THEIR NEW SINGLE, BATTLE PLAN, YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED)

 

Being from the city that never sleeps, do you find it sometimes hard to get your name out there? Almost lost in the sauce so to speak.

KV–Haha, absolutely. Everything is over saturated here in NYC so as Frank Sinatra says “if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.” Especially as a band who puts a lot of time and energy (and MONEY) into our shows, we can’t play them as often as we want. It’s always at a loss so we try our best to make each show a unique experience. As a video professional in my career, I make sure each one is also professionally recorded so it can live online and eventually be seen by many more people than were actually in attendance. So in short, yes, it’s super hard to be noticed here.

I love that you have a female front woman of the group, I think there should be more bands like this. how do you think her voice compliments the songs?

(side note: Jess-O-Lantern really seriously kicks major ass in this band, love her!)

KV–It’s fantastic! We were lucky to have finally found a singer who fits with our sound. Jess-O-Lantern is a horror punk rocker who moved here a few years back from the Orlando, FL area. Her voice, literally and figuratively, fits the songs now because she has written her own parts for all the music we have released since her joining. Little known fact is that I was the original singer of Vonesper when I was recording demos back at the start. Nobody has really heard those, thank goodness, because I am horrible. We have had several other voices over the years who were all great for the time, but Jess is by far the best and most permanent fit.

vonesper3

Thinking back to when you started writing music and really began to compile a catalog of songs, what was the first time it clicked in your head that this is what you wanted to do? When did you realize that yes indeed, you wanted to write music and share it with the world?

KV–I have been writing and recording my own music since 4th grade and played my first show in a band when I was 11. My first demo was 4 songs recorded on a Tascam 4-track so even back then I had a catalog of songs. Safe to say I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

 

Can you remember back to the first song that really stuck with you?
what was your first musical memory?

KV–I couldn’t possibly remember my first musical memory. I always had records (yes, like actual vinyl) as a kid and lots of cassette tapes. Some of my first tapes that I can remember influencing me were Faith No More “The Real Thing” and Genesis “Invisible Touch”. The first CDs I ever bought (when those became a thing) were the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey Soundtrack (which had some great hard rock and metal on it) and Madonna’s “I’m Breathless”. I got both at the same time. Of course when Nirvana started appearing on MTV, that was a huge moment. I watched a lot of MTV in the nineteen-hundreds, when they still played music and had shows like Alternative Nation and Headbanger’s Ball.

(STACK ATTACKS MUSIC would also love for MTV to start playing music again……)

What do you think about the artists that crossover from their genre to a whole other level of music? Do you think you could ever do that?

KV–Yes and no because I am already writing without a specific genre. I mean, I guess rock is my wheelhouse because that’s what I have always naturally gravitated towards, but the songs themselves could be re-arranged into any genre. Also, as a producer, I have written and produced other genres and would like to do more of that. Last year we even produced a hip-hop track (you can hear “HPSTRS//Best Rap Ever” on Lexa Terrestrial’s debut album LeX-Files). Recently we produced a ukulele-based song for our singer Jess-O-Lantern’s first solo album.

Dream collaborations? Who would you love to write music with if given the chance?

KV–Buckethead! Call me anytime, Bucket! I’m waiting for you.

vonesper1

What do you think a world without music would be like?

KV–Unbearable. I couldn’t really imagine a world without music. As long as there is sound, music will exist.

(Thank God for that because otherwise my job would be boring…….)

What kind of advice would you give other artists and musicians out there, just getting started in the field?

KV–Please do it because it is what you are passionate about. Please have something original to put out there. Otherwise, we are already over saturated and the music industry basically doesn’t exist except for a small elite. Also, being rich would help.

Where does your passion for music lie? What makes you love what you do?

KV–This is sort of confusing question but I guess I would say that I write music because it comes to me naturally in my head. I almost never sit down with a guitar with an intent to write a song. It’s the opposite, I sit down with a guitar to play out an idea that is already in my head. I guess you could say it chose me. Why am I cursed like this?

Give us some insight into what could be seen and/or heard from Vonesper in the future.

KV–Even though everything is moving very slowly down the Vonesper pipeline, I can assure you that we are bursting at the seems with material and ideas. We are waiting for time, life, and money to catch up so we can properly create and release everything as properly as possible. The plan is to have an ongoing series of singles with accompanying art (music videos, comics, clothes, etc). Like I mentioned before, I have over 40 songs that I demoed just this past Summer. There are probably at least 100 or so songs or ideas from the past that have also never seen a proper release (to date we have only released one album and 2 singles of original material).

Final Thoughts? this is your open mic to say whatever you’d like…………………..

KV–Vonesper has always been a completely DIY project. We write and record in our own studios and even had make our own CDs as one-of-a-kind art pieces. Please consider supporting us so we can continue to create effectively. Also, Vonesper Studios, LLC is my own multi-media production company from which all our art is created. Shameless plug to hire me for your project (www.vonesperstudios.com). Check out the entire history of Vonesper at vonesper.com. Support new music!

 

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One of my favorite people in the world and one of my favorite bands.   Thank you again Kevin for doing this interview!

Check out the webpages below for more content and info

www.vonesper.com

www.patreon.com/vonesper (their fundraising page)

www.facebook.com/vonesper

www.bandcamp.com/vonesper

Plus you can follow Kevin on Instagram @mrvonesper

Thanks for reading, until nexttime……………….

Stack Attacks Music signing off!

Feel free to contact me for interviews:  stackattacksmusic@gmail.com