Worth More Than Gold: Sitting down to chat with Nathanael Pulley of ARCHERS

Imagine a few months ago, scrolling through Tiktok, your FYP filled with videos of everything from paranormal themes, Halloween and music. I came across a band who made a cover of a very popular song and was instantly drawn in like a moth to flame. Sure there are tons of bands who do covers but this one really struck a chord. What do I always do when I hear at least one song? I check out of the rest of the catalog of songs and was still completely blown away. That’s what happened when I found ARCHERS! Not to mention their bassist Oscar’s personal page which is equally fun and full of entertainment. As a blogger, you have dreams of who you want to interview and who you want to include in your pieces. I put them down on my wish list. I wanted to be able to one day be able to ask them questions and include them in Stack Attacks Music. I made a few videos, asking if they would. I saw they had liked them but I wasn’t sure if that was a for sure yes so I reached out to the band. Moments later, I received a yes! THIS IS A DREAM… is this real life? The following interview is with their singer Nathanael. As usual I cover topics all over the spectrum. I hope you enjoy it! THIS WAS A TREAT! So sit back, grab a snack, get a coffee and let’s listen to just what he has to say.

Here’s just a part of the amazing band, that is ARCHERS!!

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First take a second to introduce yourselves, name, place in band, Hogwarts name, etc etc…

I’m Nathanael, I sing and do screamy bois for the band ARCHERS. 

Ok so who wants to anty up and take the credit for this one……Where did the band name come from?  

The name archers is derivative of a old band my guitarist Ben and I used to be apart of. When we cut ties with our former record label we changed the name and released our new music as ARCHERS. 

Every band has a great story of how you all came together, what’s yours?  How did the band form?  

It wasn’t a crazy story or anything. Just a bunch of guys who love making music and each other. The line up may have changed over the years but our group is more tight knit than ever before. ARCHERS is a labor of love in every regard. 

Hailing from Wisconsin, do you feel like it’s not as easy to have a big following as you would in a bigger metropolis or do you feel social media helps that a lot?  Plus Oscar’s Tiktoks do have quite the fanbase ha!  (Don’t worry Oscar I will not ask you to growl……)  

TikTok has been huge for us in the last year. The idea that being in a major city is paramount to the success of a band is an antiquated notion. These days the right moves on social media, proper fan engagement and the willingness to travel are all you need to get started. After that it’s a lot of hard work and hopefully some luck. Of course there are tons of tiny details that go into making a band but generally no, being in a more rural area is in no way a disadvantage. 

So lets get down to business, when you write a song as a band, which comes first?  Do you put together a sound piece first or are the lyrics created before that?  Kind of like, rock and roll which comes first the chicken or the egg.  Is it a group collaboration?  Talk about that process.  Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a melody or lyric?

The writing process is very fluid for us. Some times its collaborative other times it’s more one sided. But the idea isn’t that every one needs a hand in the pot, it’s about making the best song. Sometimes we have a full track before I put pen to pad other times I come up with lyrics long before music is ever made. And sometimes it’s a complete mix. I love to go back through old unused lyrics to try to find gems to bring back into new tracks. 

You have two covers which I absolutely LOVE!!  You guys have covered Close To Me by Ellie Goulding and Levitating by Dua Lipa.  Is there a particular science in picking which song(s) you want to cover as a band?  Is it a hat draw, maybe throw a dart and choose whatever it lands on?  

I wouldn’t say science but there is some method to it. Ultimately it’s just what ever song we vibe to that we think we can offer a fun, new take on. Our basic criteria is popularity and radio air time. There’s a lot of guess work involved but we’ve had great luck so far. 


Speaking of the Dua Lipa cover, it was Oscar’s first time doing core vocals on the song.  Any chances of that happening again on future releases?  

Absolutely! Oscar has already recorded parts for a single that will be dropping later in the year. I’m so proud of him and I can’t wait to have his voice become more of a mainstay in future tunes. 


Your fans are some of the most amazing people I’ve seen.  On Instagram, Tiktok, all around.  How does it make you guys feel seeing them make duets, or post videos and pictures on their stories supporting you.  Do you ever have one of those “holy shit they love us” moments?

Our fans are truly wonderful people. Some of them we’ve gotten to know quite well. Often times the three of us will sit in a group a just coo over all the love that we get. We’re just a couple of dumb Wisconsin kids. We could have only imagined the kind of love we’ve been receiving and it gives us so much fuel to keep going. 

As i’m writing this the band is preparing to debut a new take on your song Making Eyes, releasing the video on Youtube and other platforms.  What made you pick that song?  Again, it’s another banger I love it!!  

It was the biggest song from our New Normal record and the song most suited for a reimagining. The other tracks on the record are a bit more personal to us as they touch on some really heavy topics like suicide, loss and mental health. Sure I would love to hear them reimagined but honestly they were made the way they were made deliberately and with a distinct purpose. Hearing them any other way could change the impact it has on the listener as well as us. We want the to be heard the way they were intended. The music and lyrics come together in a way that inspires very specific emotional response and we wouldn’t want to cheapen that for the listener.


***Oscar wasn’t available for this interview but I’m leaving this little tidbit in here for him in he should read this***

**Speaking of Tiktok, Oscar, I’m singling you out for a second.  Between your goblin energy you have and just all around trying to post positivity in your videos, I want to say thank you, from a fellow person who at times suffers from depression and often doesn’t feel like they are putting out the best effort they can.  Thank you for being a force to reckon with.  You truly are doing good things even if you may feel at times you aren’t.  Keep being that bad ass with the high energy and often caffeinated hijinks!  you are appreciated!!!  You are like the friend someone has known all their life yet I haven’t even gotten a chance to talk to you yet.  But thank you for that. Thanks to folks like you all, I’m still be here!**

In reality it’s truly an honor to be able to interview you all as a band.  You are really making the dreams come true for this little Italian girl from Pennsylvania, who at times feels like she doesn’t fit in.  What kind of advice would you give someone like me or someone out there who might be feeling the same way while they are reading this?  

Just don’t give up. Even the tiniest step is forward motion. Progress is progress. Remember to forgive your self for your failings and never ever give up. Life equals possibility and the possibilities are endless. 

Ok let’s hit some fun topics, let’s try to settle the world’s often hated and never truly agreed on subject;  Pineapple on pizza.  Yay or Nah?  

Oh absolutely it does. I love Hawaiian pizza. People who say otherwise still each chicken nuggies w ketchup. Just kidding. You can like what ever you want. You only become a jerk when you shit on others for liking what they like. Just calm down and eat whatever pizza you want. 
Although if you think about it from a chemistry standpoint it makes sense why people love it. Salt from the pizza and sugars and citrus from the pineapple are basically creating a chemical reaction in the mouth similar to eating salt and vinegar chips. You either love it or you don’t. Just don’t be a dick.

Hopefully once this Pandemic goes away and the world goes back to whatever the normal will be, touring will begin again and you can see the country, even the world.  If you could put together your DREAM TOUR, bands/artists past and present, who would they be?

Ooof that’s a toughy. 
A Day To Remember, Dayseeker,The Band Camino And us
I’m sure I’m leaving some out though. 

Do any of you have a bucket list instrument you’d love to own one day.  Or do you already own it?  

Um not really. I like nice microphones I guess. Although custom in ear monitors are a dream of mine. 

Ok picture it, you are walking onto stage on a big stadium tour and you each get to pick a different song to walk out onto the stage like you are Rocky going into the ring.  what would you pick and why?  This can be any song at all!

That is very hard to answer. Probably something funky or disco. I love to groove. Maybe Uptown Funk or Staying Alive. 

What if you woke up tomorrow as a Disney character, which one would you want to be?  

Preferably one that doesn’t do a whole bunch. Oh I know. The “big summer blowout” guy from Frozen. 

Say you go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow, and all your knowledge about the band  thus far has escaped your minds, you don’t remember anything about composing music or writing songs together as a band.   I asked my friend Josh this and I swear I almost put him into a cardiac arrest, being a heart failure patient myself, that’s some pretty serious stuff……   what would you want to do after that?   Would you try to regain all your skills or just dust yourself off and try to find a new path?

I’m nearly 30. If ARCHERS was ever to end I would probably seek out a new venture eventually. But if all my memories, skills and training where stripped away I would probably just focus on my wife and kiddos.

Nate, Oscar and Ben, they are Archers!

Do you think the music of today would have been as much of a success if it was made before the tech age?

Today’s music couldn’t exist without today’s tech. Especially not ours. We do all of our recording digitally and while that’s what most bands have been doing for decades now, the productions style and general sound we have couldn’t have been created 50 years ago. I get so annoyed with music purists who think that being able to make an entire song on a computer without ever touching an instrument is somehow less than. Just think of all the music we have now. Maybe there’s an amazing writer who can’t play but still wants his vision heard. Who’s to say he’s less of a musician. I know tons of instrumentalists that can barely play their parts let alone write and produce a song on their own. Get your head on straight and let people make music they way they can. 

Name 4 things that you guys cannot live without

Fire, Earth, Water, Air. Long ago these nations lived in harmony. 

There is that stigma that music has to sound a certain way depending on what category you fit into, pop has to sound like bubblegum happiness, metal has to be angry etc etc…  Could you do a mix of everything onto one album?  Do you think certain genres have to possess a specific sound or do you think everybody has the potential to be a crossover?

No. Music is subjective. I used to be a music snob when I was younger but the simplest thing happened one night that changed my entire perspective. 
While listening to an underground college radio station I found that there was one DJ who’s entire 2 hour segment was dedicated to different variations of White Noise tracks. If you don’t know what white noise is, it’s basically a static hum and the track would just be 3 minutes of that. And the show had actual listeners who would call in and discuss. 
To me it sounded atrocious and gratuitous but the idea that someone could find something so simple to be so valuable and appealing forced me to realized that there is always someone who will listen. 
So make whatever you want. Let’s hear some krunktry/disco/jazz mashups!

any final thoughts you’d like to add?  this is your chance, your open mic to speak what’s on your minds. the floor is yours!!!

I love what I do. It’s a privilege to be where I am even though we are far from famous and have a long way to go I would never trade this gig for anything. Or my band mates for that matter. I don’t think I could do it without them. 
We’re all just so grateful for the opportunities you’ve all given us and we promise to do everything we can not to waste it. 
Love always!
Nathanael Pulley of ARCHERS

***PHOTOS USED WITH PERMISSION FROM ARCHERS***

***ALL VIDEOS ARE FROM THEIR OFFICIAL YOUTUBE PAGE***

ARCHERS TV – YouTube

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I’ve said it once i’ll say it again, this was a dream come true!! thank you again Nathanael for taking time out of your busy schedules to answer a few questions from this little blogger. Please check out ARCHERS and their amazing music!! You can find them on just about any music streaming service, Spotify, Apple, just do it!!! You may also find them on the following social media sites below:

Follow them on social media!

Facebook: https://facebook.com/ArchersOfficial/

Instagram: @archersus

Twitter: @archersus

And if you are of the Tiktok kind, you can find the band on their official Tiktok @archersband and if you are looking for some goblin energy you can also follow Oscar @aboutanoscar

THIS…… right here is the reason I keep doing this!! Follow your dreams, never give up, and don’t let ANYBODY tell you that you can’t, but if they do……………….SHOW THEM YOU CAN!!!!!!!

Thank you for reading!

if you want to contact me about being in a future publication, contact me at stackattacksmusic@gmail.com

No Caption Needed: Jon Soda James speaks for himself

There really is no introduction that could possibly justify just how amazing this artist is. I swear, there’s nothing he cannot do! He makes amazing music, crafty as all heck, he’s an awesome dad….. He really is the whole kit and kaboodle! Hailing from New York, he brings his steady mix of rock and punk to the scene and trust me, you can’t get enough of either of those musical genres. I was lucky enough and completely honored to be able to sit down and talk to him again about his music, his life and everything in between. I swear you are in the presence of greatness when he enters the room! As a musician, he’s phenomenal, but I am privileged to call him my good friend.

Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Jon Soda James.

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First off, give a short introduction of yourself to the readers

“Short”! Ooookay! Well, I make music, in fact, I have made a bunch. I was lucky to start at a young age and have a place to experiment at home. I always  tried to and wanted to push the envelope with my creative outlets. I write too. I love it. I’ve had a couple of books published, written a few columns. I also write about music on my MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE site. I make art in a bunch of mediums. I mean, I try to create as much as I can. Life is a complicated thing, these creative outlets sure have given me much solace and helped keep me together. I imagine we will talk more about this stuff as the interview progresses. 😉 BUT, let’s not beat around the bush of course. I would love the readers to check out my main site at: WWW.OFFICIALSODA.COM

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first, the Pandemic.  it’s affected us all greatly, on all ends of the spectrum.  With me having heart failure, I had to be careful as all heck!!  The mask and sanitizer became all our best friends! Although we pray others had been using it to begin with!!!  How has the past year and a half been for you? Did it churn the creative waters?

2020, as we know, of course was a challenge for the whole world. It was interesting learning to adapt, but that is how we survive in life anyway. For me personally…I was very sick. Not Covid related. I made public my struggles so I can certainly reiterate here. In March I suffered a T.I.A. and was hospitalized. The T.I.A. was scary enough, but being dragged away in an ambulance when lockdown had started only added to my concerns. In June I was hospitalized again due to galbladder complications which started to shut down my vital organs. I was trapped in the hospital yet again and underwent two surgeries. Within all that time from March 2020 to May 2021 I was seeing Doctors every month either on video, phone or when I was able, in person. It was…a struggle. Aside from that, I did begin to write new music and have begun a new record. I also squeezed a live EP out at the beginning of 2020. Recently got a story published in an Anthology called, “Post Apocalipstick”, introduced a Free Blockbuster to Long Island. I am also forever working on a poetry book. There is much more, but…let’s not bore the readers. Point is, I may get knocked down, but I WILL always rise. I never stop.

You were recently featured in a publication called Post Apocalipstick, which I cannot wait to get my hands on! Can you tell us what that’s all about?

Haha, I sure can! (Some foreshadowing above, huh?) Well, that was really a great experience. One of my best friends had arranged and curated this anthology with Noctural Sirens Publishing. I was one of about 13 authors that got a spot in the book. It came out in June for Pride Month as it is a book that highlights alternative lifestyles and people. It IS however for everyone, but it is indeed a celebration for freaks and geeks. A bit of a bible for those times when you may be feeling alone or misunderstood. My story is called, “MY Apocalypse” and I am very proud of my contribution. My piece is a bit of a coming out story for a young boy, and…there is also snotty valley girls and Aliens involved. Trust me, it makes sense! And quick side note, with this anthology it is the first time I have used a combination of both my names publicly for an artistic endeavor. -Jon Soda James- The evolution of a name I guess!

Photo used with permission from Jon Soda James

Do you feel like the music world can recover from the past handful of months?  With artists not being able to tour or really get out there for a while to promote their work, do you think it’s affected artists to the point that they cannot return to pre-pandemic levels?

I think, again, it has all been about adapting. I’m sure some artists didn’t make it, but I know too some flourished. I think many bands, artists, etc have done that, adapted. I know it has not been easy. You’ve seen all the live streams and online events and experiences that have been offered via the internet. 2020 was a test, a learning curve. I mean, it’s certainly not the same as it was but something is better than nothing and I think people have gotten into it but we are all ready for the up close and personal stuff that we love and enjoy to return. It keeps us human. The internet has kinda broken our connection to each other, which sounds weird cause a push of a button gets us connected. But look, if I come over for a cup of tea, a talk, a hug…you can’t beat that no matter how sophisticated the internet is. 

2020 was also a sad year because we not only lost Monkey, who was a member of Nox Cult, a band which I will NEVER STOP LOVING… but also lost Alex (Fox’s) father.  My heart really does go out to you guys over such rough losses.  But Nox Cult will always be something that makes me smile.  Any chance of working together again?  

We lost our drummer, Monkey in October of 2019. We were fortunate to do one last show together at a benefit for Gio (Fox’s Dad) who lost his battle to Pancreatic Cancer in 2020. As far as working with Fox again? I did try very briefly after NOX CULT, it just did not work. I’m very focused and I’m not someone who likes to waste time. You’re either with me or you’re not. So, as of now, or honestly ever…I have no interest in working with Fox creatively ever again. NOX CULT was a struggle. People will never know, as good as the band was, what we stood for and what we put forth, there was also a horrible backside to that band…a dark one, a haunted one. I realized after the first year of our two and a half tenure (minus the quick reunions) that not much more was going to come from that band. There were too many problems internally and the demons that plagued the members of that band were just too powerful. Babysitting grown men is not fun. And, there was no happy ending. I wish I could say there was… I was lucky enough to get us to put out our “Fucking Live” EP. We started a studio record but it just went nowhere, there was too much crap going on. Members either couldn’t perform to task or they were just too out of their minds to make a worthwhile contribution. I don’t look back on that with total fondness. In fact, it makes me a bit angry because the potential was absolutely gigantic. I don’t think I’ve witnessed such self sabotage ever in my life as I did with NOX CULT.

Just like with Nox Cult, music is always something that makes people feel good, it’s like a soundtrack to our lives at times.  What are some things that bring a smile to Soda’s face?  Any favorite moments you want to share as a musician or maybe some favorite Dad moments?

Well, adopting our Daughter was certainly one of my biggest accomplishments. But life and art and everything is about not giving up. Nothing worth fighting for winds up ever really being easy. Making music and art has always made me happy. Having the rare time to sit and watch movies at home makes me very happy. Thrifting and toy hunting. Good food. Family, friends…naps! Sometimes the little things are the absolute best.

I want to say you are one of the people who have really inspired me to get back at blogging and doing interviews again.  It’s really a driving force.  I really love your blog Music Survival Guide.  What are some of your favorite people you have been able to feature on your blog?  If you can even narrow it down, there are some really amazing artists on there.  Anything really exciting you are going to feature soon?

Well, as far as M-S-G goes, I honestly haven’t been so laser focused on it like I was. I’ve been doing a lot of indie artist features which has been rewarding because I’m meeting and connecting with a lot of people I wouldn’t normally reach if I didn’t have the blog. What blows my mind is the amount of emails I get from artists to be involved. I don’t have the time to service everyone unfortunately. And, thank you for saying you have been inspired by anything I have done. THAT is what it’s all about, that has always been my main goal. I know what it’s like to be inspired, to be saved by music and art. All I ever wanted to do was be able to pay back those favors. And I have. If my success and achievements could ever be quantified in those terms then I feel like I would have passed that test. As far as some of my favorite M-S-G moments, geez…I’ve been so lucky to have many. I’ve interviewed some of my heroes like Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Vin Dombrowski, Dave Alvin, Spookey Ruben…these guys have allowed me to be on their level and prove myself and be treated as a peer. That is priceless.

photo used with permission from Soda

Speaking of earlier when I mentioned Dad moments…  Your little one, Piper is really growing up!  Does she understand yet just how awesome you really are??  Does she like to be creative as well?

She is very sharp and we are certainly very lucky. I think she is fortunate enough to have two Parents with really different dynamics. We just want her to be a good person and choose her own path. Maybe it will be creative and maybe it will be something totally different. There is no pressure being put on her for anything like that. 

Now, you have an extensive collection of figures and other pop culture items, some that could bring back major nostalgia to us all.  What are some of your favorite pieces?

That is hard to answer, our toy room is literally exploding. I’m a total freak for 80’s and 90’s stuff. I also like things that are kinda offbeat. I’ve actually been a bit of a kook for old stationary lately. Haha, geez, don’t even get me started on this madness!

You also recently made a “BLOCKBUSTER BOX” filled with movies and other media for those to take or share.  What inspired you do to that?  Which I think is pretty damn cool!!!

Haha, you really do pay attention! I did briefly mentioned that above. Well, first, again…it was a creative outlet. I wanted to do something cool for the community. It’s something that brings people together. It’s also totally geeky and nerdy so you can’t beat that. The idea of Free Blockbuster started with one cool cat in California and then individuals all over the US now have been taking on the task to spread this wonderful concept and introduce it into their communities. Kinda organic, which is the best. I’m also a physical media fanatic so for me, this whole thing was a no brainer. I rescued an old newspaper dispenser from the side of the road in the dead of Winter and basically transformed a piece or junk into something positive. Upcycle!

Present to you, the blockbuster box mentioned above! Photo used with permission from Soda

Besides working and making music, what are some things in your off time that you like to do? Besides making your friend Stackie very proud!

There really is no “off time” and that’s totally fine. I do try to take it easy a day or two during the week but it often doesn’t work out. Between being a Parent and staying creative with music, art and writing AND the other many responsibilities that come with being an adult (a Toys R Us kid at heart forever) It’s a juggling act really. I want to do the right thing and keep my life on track. Sometimes things go of the rails a bit but it’s all about just giving a shit and striving to be a decent person. And I make a conscious effort to do that.

I know with some of the interviews I have done in the past, there were questions I thought of AFTER the fact when I posted them and wish I could go back and ask again.  If you could pick 3 pieces of music that you have already made and go back and tweak them, change them up?  What would they be?  If any.

That is an interesting question! First, I would redo my entire A Boy Called Soda EP. As there are many great ideas there I was just so very young and inexperienced with production and fine tuning and taking the proper time to do something. I was really learning how to be a better singer there and it shows, which is fine because it’s all a part of my big picture. 

Second…I would have had a different drummer for the His Mighty Robot record we did called, “THE CONFLICT”. I love love love that record and it has had some high praise and I think it absolutely deserves it but at the same time I feel like we let some things slide and allowed a person into the project that was just not on the level that we had wanted or was passionate enough about the project like myself and H-Rocker were. I feel like we sold ourselves short a bit and I can kick myself for the rest of my life or just move on, no regrets. I enjoyed making that record. Onward and upward.

Third, and in short…as an “artist” you fight with everything you do until the bitter end. Nothing is ever really totally finished. So, there might be a little something in everything. Maybe this is a bit of a cop out answer to your question but I really do feel that way.

I really do want to say how proud I am of you and how much I cherish your friendship.  I am honored to be able to include you in my comeback to Stack Attacks Music.  

I AM THE ONE WHO IS HONORED.

Here’s to the future!!  Anything you can share with us about what’s to come? 

Yes…and no. I AM working VERY hard on a new record. It has been decided that it will remain a bit of a secret until the right time comes. I’m always writing. I mentioned a poetry book too. Art, life, etc etc. It never stops.

OPEN MIC….  this is where you can speak your mind, about ANYTHING!!!!!  Don’t feel the need to censor yourself either, the floor is yours!

We covered a lot. No need to rant and rave. Thank YOU. Thank those who may read this. I’m grateful to anyone who takes an interest in anything I do artistically. It means everything to me. 

http://WWW.OFFICIALSODA.COM
http://WWW.MUSICSURVVALGUIDE.ORG

Thank you Soda again, for being part of my comeback to Stack Attacks Music!!!

And if you want to check out Soda’s social sites for what’s to come and just all around awesomeness, you can find him at the links above or you can also find him on Instagram @Sodasurvive as well as Twitter.

And trust me, this will not be the last you hear from this amazing man!

thank you for reading and as always, share with your friends!

ROCK ON!!!!!

*****ALL PICTURES, SOUND BITES AND OTHER MEDIA WERE GIVEN PERMISSION BY SODA FOR USE ON THIS PUBLICATION*****

Catching up with Josh Willis: Talking Shop, Pandemic Creativity and The Awesomeness That Is Mr. Willis

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October 1, 2018, that is where this whole thing left off! Between becoming ill in the summer of 2019 and just all around major creative block, Stack Attacks Music was put on hold. Every once in a while I would think about picking things back up and I just never had the fuel to feed the fire that once burned deep in my soul. I really honestly thought this was going to be put on a shelf for the rest of time as we know it. Then one day, it was like a match thrown into a field of dry grass, the flame was once again reignited! And I couldn’t think of anybody I would want to begin this journey again with, other than my friend Josh Willis. I’ve seen him do some pretty amazing feats in the couple years that I have known him. And I honestly couldn’t be more proud of him. I was delighted when he agreed to be the first interview I have done in almost 3 years. I should be ashamed of myself for letting this sit for so long but It’s never too late to get back in the saddle!

So sit back, kick your feet up, grab a snack and your favorite beverage and let me reintroduce you to the one and only, JOSH WILLIS!

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Josh let me say, feels like centuries since I’ve done this but, how have you been doing my friend?

Josh: I’ve been doing very well! Just enjoying every day and having fun!

I can honestly say you are probably one of the most talented people in my life, quite an honor to call you a friend!  You are a master at drums, vocals, guitar, what you picked up anything new?  

Josh: That’s really nice to read, thank you so much for saying that. It’s an honor to call you a friend as well. Over the past year I’ve really focused on refining and polishing my music production ability. I mean really learning how to correctly do things like mixing audio, arranging music, making music sound massive, lush, and sparkly; that’s an artform in itself too. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I certainly feel (or hope, rather) I’ve come a long way in those skillsets.

Let’s ask the question everybody’s been wondering………  How’s the pandemic been for you? Has it been good to you?

Josh: It’s been an interesting period of time for me. It’s forced me to take a pause and reevaluate what’s important in the world. I think I’ve learned a lot, grown mentally and spiritually, and have been able to recognize what matters and what I want out of life.

Speaking of being under quarantine, especially being an artist as yourself, how was this past year changed the way you either create or release anything musically? If at all?

Josh: The quarantine last year began shortly after I signed on to do a video game soundtrack and a film score. I’m not legally allowed to talk about what game soundtrack I’m working on yet, but I scored a short film called The Game, which I was fortunate enough to win an award for. Under quarantine, aside from finishing my last semester in school, I was able to just hit music hard full-time, and that was an absolute dream. I loved the idea of my workday consisting of either writing music or working on a mix or arrangement from the day before. It’s incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable.

Has being under a basic lockdown at times, has it helped you gain more ideas and/or creative knowledge?

Josh: I think when I was under a lockdown, I was able to clear all the noise and distractions from my head. It made my writing better, and enhanced my creativity and attention to detail regarding arrangements and mixes. When music is the only thing I’m working on, I’m a considerably more efficient producer.

Safe to say it’s been rough on the music world this past year, with tours being put on hold due to gatherings being put back and just all around mayhem.  Do you think the music world can recover fully from this all?  

Josh: I’d love to see the world not only make a full recovery but come back even stronger. I’m really happy to see tours and festivals beginning to be announced again. My personal prediction is that there’s going to be such a stronger sense of community and a wonderful positive environment centered around concerts. I hope that people in an audience at a show will feel comfort and joy knowing that they’re surrounded by people who, regardless of their differences, see they’re part of a huge group of people singing the same songs and enjoying the same music together while celebrating that we’re on our way out of the pandemic.

Now I have to say, from your time you spent with the Star Wars band Galactic Empire to your solo project Andronikos, it really does show your wide range of talent.  I will always say my favorite song from the Andronikos side is Archaic Anthem.  Are you working on any new material? Maybe another “new” side of Josh the world hasn’t seen yet?

Josh: Thank you for saying that, Archaic Anthem was a fun song! I’m glad to hear you like it! I wasn’t planning on talking about this until next year, but I’m feeling spontaneous right now, so I guess I’ll go for it. The second Andronikos album is pretty much written and ready to record. With the King album, I wanted it to feel like 1800’s England with the visual and thematic elements of the album. This time, we’re going to ancient Egypt in some ways. It’s much heavier, there’s a predominance of that Egyptian/desert vibe, there’s a lot of floating between genres, and there’s even a disco song that I think will be everyone’s favorite. I’m really excited for it. It’s going to be a long time before I record it, however. I’m booked into next year with composing projects and another game soundtrack, and my main focus now is the new project that Cait and I are doing! We’re talking about a full album and I think we’ve both dipped our feet in starting to write some of it. She’s an amazing songwriter and incredible singer, so I’m really excited to see how it unfolds.

Let’s dip a little into what influences you, what type of music and artists do you really, should I say, look up to?  Or what helps thrive you want to make amazing music?

Josh: As a teenager, I was obsessed with Avenged Sevenfold. Everything I recorded in high school sounded (arguably too much) like them. I gradually started enjoying heavier and heavier music, and I’ve been in a big death metal phase recently. On the other end, however, I love other types of music and can learn something from and be inspired by great music from any genre. For example, Ricky Martin is like my secret guilty pleasure when it comes to music. He’s such a brilliant songwriter and incredible vocalist and I don’t think he has an album that I don’t love. I’ll go through phases where I only want to listen to movie scores or game soundtracks too. There’s something to learn from every bit of music I hear.

By the time this blog is posted, the song you and your talented gf Cait sang together will be out.  What made you both want to cover this particular song? And did you have to coax her at all to sing with you?  I myself would be nervous as all hell!

Josh: This was actually Cait’s idea and I jumped around like an excited puppy when she told me she wanted to record a song together! Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with this song until she mentioned it, and I took one listen and was sold. I wanted to put a refreshing new take on it; there’s a lot of huge orchestration similar to what I do in my own music, and her voice added this beautiful, sparkly, ethereal feel to it. She did so well recording too. I’ve always been blown away by her voice even before I knew her personally, so it was no surprise that she nailed every line so quickly. It was such an easy and really fun experience. I’m nowhere near the vocalist she is, but I think our voices together sound really nice. We both sang, I did the instrumentation and arrangement, and we both produced it, and I had such a blast. Making music with the person who’s my girlfriend was this extraordinary dream come true that I never even knew I needed in my life.

Can we expect anything in the music world from you both together again on the same track?

Josh: Hmmmmmm…my short answer is YES!

Here is the song covered by Josh and Cait. Please enjoy it as much as I did!

I wanted to really say thank you as well, as you know in 2019 I was diagnosed with heart failure.  So the passed two years I’ve been drowning myself in music to keep the ball rolling and my head above water so to speak so thank you for being such a bad ass dude, on top of being one of the most selfless and giving people in the world!  You really helped make a difference in my recovery!

Josh: I thought about that a lot when we first talked about it and I was excited to hear about your continued improvement. I’m really proud of you for fighting so hard and keeping such a positive attitude, so thank YOU for being such a badass! It’s really really inspiring.

(Side note; Josh this made me cry….. thank you though! I’ve never really thought myself to be inspiring but this really meant a lot to come from you. but YOU SIR are the badass!)

I am so honored to have you as my comeback blog, can I just tell you, the blogs i’ve done with you have been my most successful, honestly up there with the interview I had with Melissa Harding who sings backing vocals in Sixx A.M (which i’m still shitting myself over, don’t know how the hell I got that interview!)  My reading audience loves you!  What do you think of that?

Josh: Wow that’s really cool to read, thank you so much. I don’t know whether to feel flattered or terrified to be honest! Haha but Sixx A.M. is so good, I love that band, and that was such an awesome interview. Congratulations on landing a conversation with her! I think my favorite memory with Sixx A.M. was when a band I was in at the time played a show with them at Stage AE. Nikki Sixx just casually walked past our dressing room since his was down the hall, and I thought to myself, “that’s Nikki Sixx…that was just Nikki Sixx in person…what is going on…” But that was such a fun show, the crew was amazing, they were awesome, and we had an INCREDIBLY fun audience that night too.

(Still myself trying to figure out how the heck I scored the interview with Melissa, call it help from a Devine source)

Now you seem to have a very supportive family, I know you’ve said about both your mom and dad being huge supporters before, your dad even plays as well!  But how do you handle those who give out the negative comments?

Josh: When it comes to negative comments, you can either let them get to you or block them out. Make it incredibly clear and unwavering in your mind what makes you happy, what you enjoy, and what you want, and don’t let anything that disputes that stay in your head. I really think music saved my life more than once. As a kid growing up, I had a pretty bad home environment. I was scared to be at home, never knew what I would have to deal with on any given day, and I had every last drop of self-worth wrung out me. Often times, the only thing that gave me a sense of peace and safety was hiding in my room and writing and playing music. Even as I got older, there was a lot of mental and emotional weight that I had to get off my chest and a lot I needed to release and let go, and the way I did that was through writing and putting out music. Now, when I’m working on a project, I just sink into a trance and feel total peace and joy. So when I think about anyone who’s discouraging of that, it really fires me up because they have no idea what they would’ve taken from me if I just listened and quit. The main idea I want to convey here is that if you know what makes you happy, you know the magnitude of the impact that it has on you, and you know the role something plays in your life, then that’s fantastic and you don’t owe a single person a change in behavior or even an explanation.

And can you settle the world’s most sought after debate………… Does pineapple go on pizza?

Josh: Absolutely not! I would rather eat eggs and sun-baked roadkill on a moldy English muffin.

Egg before the chicken or chicken before the egg?

Josh: I think eggs in general came before chickens if they don’t have to be chicken eggs. I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to natural history, but I’m assuming that dinosaurs lived well before chickens, and I’m pretty sure they laid eggs. I’ll stop there before I make myself sound like an even bigger moron than I probably just did!

If you woke up tomorrow, and for some catastrophic reason you were unable to make music, what do you think would be your next step in life?  (DEAR GOD NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN!!!!)

Josh: That actually made my stomach drop to read that and even picture being in that scenario! The next step in life would be that I would feel really, and I mean REALLY sad!

What song would you say is currently the theme song to your life?  

Josh: Definitely the Pokemon Theme Song, because it’s my life mission to search far and wide to teach Pokemon to understand the power that’s inside. 

Now unlike some of us who did nothing much but gain 20 pounds during the past year while going from work to home and home to work, you on the other hand released a music video for your song BURNING THE HEAVENS, how much fun was making that?  How long was the process?  

Josh: Oh trust me I gained some bad weight too and it didn’t become apparent to me until I saw the shots of me in Burning the Heavens where I’m shirtless and suffering a demonic possession! I looked more like a screaming pile of pudding! That process and experience were amazing. I filmed that over the course of three days in Chicago with my producer and good friend, Jack Pochop, who’s just a mastermind wizard at everything he does. We did about 8-10 hour days for two of the days, and I think a half day on the first day while we set everything up. The worst scene to shoot was when I was possessed with all of the candles and that black sludge foaming out of my mouth. It was a cold November night in Chicago and that part was outside. The white contacts I had in gave me 10% visibility, and we did that at night after a full day of shooting. So I was tired, freezing, couldn’t see, super hungry, and had to keep refilling my mouth with this charcoal toothpaste and spitting it everywhere. There’s a scene where I’m crawling around across the ceiling of this cage and trying to break out. We filmed that in an old elevator shaft. I don’t know what happened, but being locked in that elevator and not being able to see with the white contacts made me really claustrophobic and panicky for a bit. Which in retrospect it’s cool because that scene shows a genuine misery and panic in the performance, so it was all worth it for the shot!

The official Burning The Heavens video, enjoy!

So let’s end this on a good note, shall we?  What can we expect from you for the remaining of 2021?  New music? Maybe a tutorial on being the first metal square dancer? Maybe opening up a falafel cart on Carson Street?

Josh: All of the above, of course! Especially the falafel cart! I’m not allowed to talk about specifics of new music yet, but there’s a lot coming up for the rest of this year and I’m really excited to get it to everyone.

FINAL WORDS…..  Here’s your open mic Josh.  Anything you’d like to tell the readers?  NO HOLDS BARRED….. GO!

Josh: The recent times have been tricky for so many people I know in so many ways, and even more challenging for people who I don’t know and will never meet. Remember that anything unpleasant, difficult, stressful, emotional, any challenge or set of circumstances that seems insurmountable, it’s temporary; don’t give up. Follow your dreams, dream extremely big, enjoy the beautiful little things in life that we’re surrounded by and enjoy every day. Enjoy and savor every good and bad day, chase your dream career, start that business, make decisions for your own happiness, not for other people’s happiness, and live every single day like it’s your last. Life is too short to not enjoy it. 

___________________________________

IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE BACK!!!!

if you want to check out josh’s music, you can follow him on Instagram @ iamjoshwillis

And Check out his Andronikos project on youtube @ Andronikos Official and follow his page with the lovely Cait @ Caity Joy and Josh.

If you have any questions about Stack Attacks Music or know someone who would love to be part of the blog, please email me @ stackattacksmusic@gmail.com

thanks for reading and thanks for believing!!!!!!

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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

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.

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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.

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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