The Smithereens: “Finding What We Lost”
They have been called everything from “America’s Rock Band” to “New Jersey’s Second Favorite Musical Export.” They are The Smithereens! Dennis Diken on drums. Mike Mesaros on Bass. Jim Babjak on lead guitar. And the late great Pat DiNizio on vocals. Their signature sixties retro fused sound ruled the airwaves in the time of 1980s “Alternative Rock.” I dare you to sit still while listening to “Blood & Roses,” “Top Of The Pops,” “House We Used To Live In” or “Behind The Wall Of Sleep.” You can’t do it. The band, now in it’s 42 year continues to tour the world. Not an easy task, considering their lead singer died in 2017. Learn more about the band’s path forward in this exclusive interview with Keith Valcourt.
Duran Duran Appreciation Day: The Many Lives of the Greatest New Wave Band
August 10 is Duran Duran Appreciation Day, a chance for us to celebrate one of the greatest bands of the 1980’s New Wave era. The cynical may say, “Why does a pop band like Duran Duran deserve an appreciation day?” One word: survival. In a time of one-hit wonders, Duran Duran has managed to endure for more than 45 years, building a catalog of songs of our lives and creating legions of lifelong fans. Join contributing writer Keith Valcourt as he chronicles his journey at Capitol Records alongside Duran Duran from their starts to their upcoming induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Information Society’s Paul Robb: ‘What’s On Your Mind Now?’
“Pure Energy.” “Pure Energy.” If you hear those words spoken by the late Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy as his character Mr. Spock over a 1980s new wave dance pop beat and you get excited, then you already know Information Society. Join contributing writer Keith Valcourt as he chats with Information Society keyboardist and percussionist Paul Robb to discuss the band’s latest album, “ODDfellows,” the burdens and blessings of having a massive hit, why roller skating and rock shows are a bad combination, and more.
Geoff Downes: “The Drama Of Yes & The Heat Of The Moment”
Very few musicians have a CV as long and impressive as keyboardist Geoff Downes. Contributing writer Keith Valcourt catches up with Downes from his rain-soaked home in Wales to discuss his musical journey in legendary rock bands ASIA and YES and his favorite gear for this exclusive Alchemical Records interview.
SAGA’s Jim Crichton: “Wound Up, Worlds Apart in Perfect Symmetry”
Since 1978, Canada’s second favorite prog rock sons SAGA have been rocking nonstop. Over their four decades in existence, they have sold over 10 million albums around the globe. In America, they are best known for their hits “On The Loose” and “Wind Him Up” from the 1981 album “Worlds Apart.” To celebrate the release of their compilation album, Keith Valcourt caught up with SAGA’s founding member (and longest running player) Jim Crichton from his home in the great white north to discuss SAGA’s long career, the effects of having a hit record, and why their U.S. label wanted a “Hot Chick” on the cover and not “an old guy with a map.”
Data Recovery Project: “Shake It When You Hear It”
Like New Order? Depeche Mode or their less popular cousin band
Camouflage? How about early Nine Inch Nails without all the screaming?
Of course you do. That is why you need to know about the Washington, DC based musical collective known as Data Recovery Project or DRP for short. Led by synth head C.P. Kush (Keyboards and Vocals) and featuring Daniel
Hill (of Yellow Tie Guy fame) on additional vocals, keys and guitar, the duo play danceable retro pop through a series of programmed beats and keyboard riffs. Lyrically they are affected and reflective about the world around them. Providing a dark danceable soundtrack for these dystopian times. I caught up with CP at home in D.C. to input some data into the machine and discuss influences, vibing and a made-up character called “Safety Bear.”
Juliana Hatfield: “Boston (Cambridge Actually) In Her Blood”
It’s funny how an artist can often be linked to a city or regional area. For Juliana Hatfield that area is Boston, Massachusetts or more specifically the neighboring Cambridge, Mass. It seems appropriate that the woman who started her career in the “College Rock” band The Blake Babies would be identified with a town known for two of the world’s most well-known institutes of higher learning Harvard and M.I.T. After going solo Juliana released a slew of cool records. She also spent time as a part time member of Boston’s favorite sons: The Lemonheads playing bass and singing backup on their breakthrough album, “It’s a Shame About Ray.”
Yellow Tie Guy: “Finding Joy in Misery”
Discovering new things is one of life’s greatest gifts. Whether it is food or love or music, the thrill of being exposed to something you were otherwise unaware of and now have become fascinated with is a feeling that can’t be manufactured. As a music editor I have the pleasure of not only discovering new music but also exposing it and sharing it with the public. Case in point? The unsigned indie band Yellow Tie Guy. Catchy hooks and uplifting lyric themes are only part of the picture. I caught up with the band’s leader Daniel Hill to discuss the band’s growth, the origins of the name and their latest single, “Jailbreak.”
Cutting Crew’s Nick Van Eede: “The Dreamer That I Am”
Most songwriters spend their entire career in search of it. The elusive perfect hit song that defines a career and connects with a mass audience of millions of fans around the globe. For Nick Van Eede of the band Cutting Crew that moment came in 1986 when his song “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” became a worldwide hit, topping the U.S. charts at #1. Over time that ballad served as everything from your mom’s prom theme to pivotal soundtrack moments in “Stranger Things” and “Batman Lego Movie.” Nick and the band followed that with other unforgettable tunes including: “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird.” When the band’s co-founder Kevin MacMichael died in 1992 Cutting Crew called it a day. Van Eede went on to do everything from producing Cher’s demo for “Believe” to co-writing songs with Marillion’s Steve Hogarth to auditioning to replace Phil Collins in Genesis. A gig he lost to Ray Wilson.
Matthew Sweet: “Solitary Man”
For decades now Mathew Sweet has been delivering consistent albums full of power pop-tinged rock and roll. His 1990s albums “Girlfriend,” “Altered Beast” and “100% Pure Fun” are now considered modern classics on par with The Beatles. Yeah, he is that good. For his 15th ever studio album “Catspaw” Mathew Sweet found himself completely alone. Every note on the 12 track near masterpiece was written, recorded, performed and mixed by Sweet himself. Yes, even the lead guitar parts. But this is not a lock down quarantine record where he had to do it all alone. This is an album he made solo by choice. The only thing he did not tackle on the release were the drums (Ric Menck handled that) and the mastering which was done by Bob Ludwig.