Category Archives: Interviews

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Brett Scallions, Fuel Frontman

Exploding onto the scene in the late 90’s, Fuel became well known for their instant classic hit, Shimmer, and their riveting live show. The mega chart topping songs kept coming, with Hemorrhage, Bad Day, Innocent and Falls on Me leading the way. After some recharging time, Fuel has come roaring back as of late. They currently find themselves in the midst of the Big Night Out tour and have a brand new record that’s ready to be unleashed. I recently had a chance to board the Fuel tour bus and speak with Brett Scallions. One of the more charismatic and sincere frontmen in Rock ‘n” Roll today.

So it’s night eight of the Big Night Out tour. It seems like a really fun bill and tour to be a part of.

It absolutely is. We are having a great time together. I knew the guys in Alien Ant Farm to a certain degree and we had done a few gigs together in the past. The same thing with Hoobastank but we didn’t really know each other that well. So we’ve been having a really good time getting to know each other well on this tour, becoming friends and enjoying Rock ‘n’ Roll together.

Lit was originally on the bill too, why did they drop off?

Lit was supposed to do this with us then at the tail end they decided it wasn’t going to work for them.

Well that just means we get a few more Fuel songs each night.

That’s right, that’s right.

One thing I’ve noticed about present day Fuel is it seems the band is more straight ahead rock than ever before. Meaning, your live shows are raw, there’s a bit of a bluesy vibe on occasion and there is nothing extra sonically in the atmosphere. It’s just you four guys playing your instruments, your voice and your songs.

You’re nailing it, you’re nailing it.

There’s really no big production behind the performance. It’s just refreshing, straight ahead Rock ‘n’ Roll. Is that a fair assessment?

Yeah, I think first and foremost the music and the performance of the music is the most important thing. It’s top priority. We go out and try to play together the best that we can and really focus on having a good time and making every night just a little bit different. Just enjoying who we are and what we are doing together. We just finished a new record. I’m excited to get that out, it’s coming soon. Like you were saying earlier with the bluesy element to it, you will really understand that soon when you hear some of the new songs. We’ve totally gotten bluesy, jazzy and even hints of country at times. We really tried to make each song its own thing.

To me there is nothing better than a band being able to play their entire record live from front to back where there is nothing on the record that the band can’t physically play live. Better yet, it can even be stripped down and played acoustically. I think people get the vibe that’s the way it is with present day Fuel.

Yeah, this is just four guys on a stage. We are not going to lie and cheat on the stage and add all this stuff. We’re not going to dump all of this stuff in protools and play along to it to try and sound just like the record. We are going to play live. We are not going to fake anything, it’s 100% live. We are going to give the people what they want and this is to see Fuel live. We live in a day and age where we see a lot of bands that have the kitchen sink on with the protools rig. There’s a lot of pressure in the industry to sound amazing live and you do want to sound amazing live but at the same time I want to sound like what we truly are, four guys on a stage. We are going to give you exactly what you see.

I want to ask you about your time with Riders on the Storm. Sadly Ray Manzarek recently passed away. What was it like being with them and how did Ray influence you?

I feel so fortunate to be able to call Ray my friend. He was my friend. We had a lot of warm and awesome times on the road together. He took me to Europe many times, South America, Canada, Mexico. We rode in vans together, tour buses together, planes together, and had some wonderful conversations. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He just loved art, he loved poetry and he loved life. He loved talking to people and embracing. He was very much a hippie. He embraced life and savored every taste of it.

I’m sure his legacy will live on forever.

He did things that go in the time capsule, ya know? People 100 years from now will know exactly who Ray Manzarek was and is. He will always live through the beautiful art he created.

Did he have any fascinating or funny stories about Jim Morrison that you can share? Does anything in particular come to mind that you always chuckle about?

There wasn’t a day that passed that Ray and Robbie wouldn’t say something about Jim Morrison. It was always an incredible thing to be in the room when they would talk about Jim. Sometimes there were stories about the frustration they had with Jim. They said Jim had an alter-ego. When he drank and would turn into “Jimbo” and they’d say whenever Jimbo came around get the hell out of the way. Ray always said that he loved Jim like a brother but when Jimbo came out it was something he had a hard time dealing with at times because he just didn’t enjoy that side of Jim.

So the new Fuel record is done. When do you expect the first single to be released?

Well, we’ve got a few bugs to work out but we’ve got the label that’s ready, we’ve got the record that’s done and it’s all right there we just have a couple of things that have to be worked out. The goal right now is to have the new single out in September or October, right in that area. If everything works out exactly the way we’re planning that’s when you can hear a new Fuel song.

Do you have the single picked out and ready to go? Do you know which one it’s going to be?

Yeah pretty much, there’s a good four songs that we have in the new catalog that we are looking at that could be our first song out of the gate. Our game plan is really there and structured we just have to finish up these last little things.

People have really taken to the new songs you’ve played live over the past year or two. Is it safe to say the bulk of the new songs you’ve played live will be on the record if not all of them?

Yeah, there are a number of new tunes that we’ve played live that I can say will make the record. I can’t speak for all the songs we’ve done live. You just never know until the time has come. You’ll have fifteen songs and you have to pick ten to make the final cut. So we’ll see but yes a lot of the songs we have performed live will be on there.

The past few months you posted updates as you went through the recording process, giving fans some photos and video. Did you record the new album in your home studio? I noticed Fuel plaques on the wall.

We did all the drum tracks at place called the Steak House which is in the Studio City, West Hollywood area. Then we did all the guitar tracks at my home studio and we did all my vocals at my partner Eddie Wohl’s studio. So we were working out of three rooms.We also did some Hammond B3. We were just trying to go wherever we could to make sure the record was getting the best tones sonically.

Do you foresee any songs that you solely wrote on previous Fuel records getting injected into the setlist at anytime? Songs such as Luck or Knives?

You never know. One thing I’ve really been focused on over the past couple years is fresh and new. Writing new songs and preparing to put those into the show. Once we get that down then maybe we will get to the point where we look at some other stuff and maybe pull out some tunes that I’ve never performed before or haven’t performed in a long time and throw it in there.

A few years ago you, Scott Weiland and Duff McKagen were part owners of the rock club Snitch in New York City. I’m curious as to what your opinion is in regards to what is going on presently with Scott, Stone Temple Pilots and their new lineup?

I know Slash, Duff, Matt Sorum and the DeLeo brothers and they are all absolute sweethearts. They are just good guys, great people and they just love being musicians, love being artistic and creative and just love their bands. I think they just couldn’t take it anymore, ya know? I heard the new single that the DeLeo’s and Eric did with Chester and it sound great. It’s a pretty bad ass tune. Those guys are all pros, they know how to write a good song. I wish them all the best and I hope it works for them. Chester is an amazing singer and I think he will fit that very well.

Also going back to your New York years, let’s talk about the band you were in called The X’s. Oddly enough, the songs Blame and Suicidal Lover came on my iPod this morning.

Those are my favorite songs from that catalog. That was such a great time in my life man. I loved writing songs with those guys. We were having a lot fun just being creative together without being concerned about what our first single would be or anything like that. It was just four guys writing fun songs. That’s still is one of my favorite records that I’ve ever made.

What was it like for you at that time coming from Fuel? You were playing sold out shows, playing with Aerosmith, playing big clubs and theaters. What was it like to take a step back out of the spotlight, be the bass player and seemingly relax a little bit more?

It was exactly what I needed. When I left Fuel I was so burnt out. I was not happy and I was really contemplating whether or not I still wanted to be a musician. When I started jamming with The X’s I really started finding my passion for music again and what I love doing. Being able to step out of the lead singer role was great for me too. I was able to step out of my own element, just be a bass player, rock out and become a better musician. I was able to focus on playing and getting tight with my band while having a good time. I had never been a bass player by any means. I had only played bass when I would write songs or record demos. I’d go in and play the bass on it, play the drums on it and then guitar so I had a little bit of a knowledge on how to play bass. It was so much fun for me to break away from playing exactly what the guitars were playing and make something unique but still flow with what’s going on.

Was there ever a Brett Scallions solo record in the works at any point?

I haven’t ever planned on a solo record but never say never.

Another collaboration I’d like to ask you about are the various projects you’ve done with Mike McCready from Pearl Jam. 1,2,3 Go and the World Fire Brigade music which by the way, is one of the most unique and melodic rock records I have heard in a long time.

We didn’t know what we were getting into when we made that record. That was Sean, Eddie and I sitting in a room and saying “OK, who’s got something?” Finally we just started figuring out some riffs. The songs came together rather easy once we started rolling. It was a fun record to make and I’m very proud of that record. I think we kicked ass on it. We were just trying to make a solid heavy record that was melodic so people could sing to it yet the lyrics were saying something. We didn’t want to make a record of just mindless drool, we wanted it to really say something. We were writing a record for ourselves more then anything.

So what’s it like collaborating with Mike McCready? He seems like such a terror on guitar.

Mike is a lot of fun to play with. We did the 1,2,3 Go thing where we get together and play a lot of fun covers. Playing anything from Skynyrd, to The Clash, to Sex Pistols, to Pink Floyd to ZZ Top. Just having a really fun time. He’s such an incredible player and such a great guy. Within my relationship with him, he actually came to me and said “Brett, if you ever need me to play something for you just let me know,” and I was like “it’s funny you should say that because I have something for you!” So I sent him the song Shell of Me and he put some blistering leads on it which was exactly what the song needed.

What music do you find you draw the most inspiration from these days? What would we currently find spinning on your iPod?

I always go back to the classics. I tend to put blinders on because I want to influence myself and not have someone else influence me unless its the Beatles, Led Zepplin, Van Halen or Johnny Cash. I don’t listen much to new music out today. With this new record we were just trying to write a fun record. Everyday when I was working on a song I would think about what’s going to make people sing and dance and break out of the realities. That’s the mind-frame I was in when making this record.

Do any of the new songs make an appearance on this tour?

We’ve pulled back a bit on that right now. Tonight we’ll probably just play songs from the back catalog. Once the first single comes out then we’ll start pepper-spraying some new stuff in again.

What are Carl Bell and Jeff Abercrombie up to these days?

Carl is trying to crack the Nashville scene as a songwriter and possibly a producer I think. I don’t really know but I think he’s trying to get into the writing thing out there. Jeff, he’s got some rehearsal rooms in L.A. that he rents out to other bands.

Well Fuel fans certainly have a lot to look forward to. With a brand new record on the way, the new single coming out soon and the Big Night Out Tour goes until September 1st so there’s a lot lined up with a ton of passion and energy behind it.

Yes definitely. We’ll go until about the first of September then we’re going to start back out in some form. We’ll go out in very late September and go through October. I don’t know if it’s going to be the Big Night Out tour but it will be a fun tour of some sort nonetheless. We’ve got a few friends of ours in other bands that we are talking to about going out together so we ‘ll make a fun package out of it. You know, as for me, I love what I do. I love playing with the guys I’m playing with and being artistic. I have more passion than anyone can imagine. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Nick Hexum, 311 Frontman

Hours before 311 took the stage at the Mansfield, MA stop on this years Unity Tour, I had the pleasure of speaking with 311 frontman Nick Hexum. In addition to the tour being in full swing, this one-of-a-kind band has been quite busy setting up what will be an exciting 2014. Amongst many other things, I spoke with Nick about the tour, the new record and the recently announced and New Orleans bound, 311 Day – 2014.

You are 7 shows deep into the Unity Tour, how is it going so far?

It’s been great. The crowds are going crazy and that’s what’s important. We keep rotating the songs quite a bit to make sure its different each night. When making the setlist, we take a look at what was played in that city last year and mix it up so people get a new experience one year to the next.

One of the things that sticks out to me as an attendee, is that no matter what is going on in your life or in the world or that day, it’s impossible to not have an amazing time at a 311 show. It’s really an experience rather than just a concert.

Yeah, luckily 311 has become more than just a band. Its a philosophy and way of life. There’s a natural escape and celebration in our music that fans have really embraced. It’s become something of a movement. Its definitely an honor to be a part of.

Your diverse setlists are something 311 is well know for. Aside from 311, Pearl Jam and maybe Bruce Springsteen, I don’t know many bands that change their setlist each night. It seems so many play the same thing every show in every city whereas you will customize your set each night and it really makes such a difference. Why do so many bands chose not to go that route?

There’s a lot of different perspectives. There are a few songs that we feel people would be disappointed if we didn’t play them. But the majority of it is switched around quite a bit. I know for example, Jimmy Buffett plays a fairly similar set from one night to the next and he does quite well in touring so it’s really whatever works for that given band. We are just very into people coming back. Fans exchange information on what songs are played and its honor to keep people guessing.

You mentioned you take a look at each city you’re going to and you know their typical crowd by now. What in particular sticks out to you about Boston where you are playing tonight when drawing up your setlist?

Boston is definitely rowdy. Its a nice size open floor so there will be a bit more of moshing, dancing and jumping around maybe.A little bit more of an energetic crowd so we will customize it to that.

I want to ask you a little bit about the new record 311 is working on. I know your man Scotch Ralston is on board producing, how far along are you in the process and what is the music sounding like so far?

We have pre-produced 13 songs and I would say it sounds very full and rocking. There’s some innovative new style that I don’t believe we’ve touched on before. The energy is up and there are really strong melodies. Scotch has really come up with a lot of melody ideas and has been more involved in the songwriting than any other producer we’ve worked with. He has been with us so long that he knows how to channel our energy. He will right a melody and I will think, that’s exactly what I would have hoped to write. So I feel comfortable singing stuff that he has written. That’s not to say we didn’t write much, we just allowed a new collaborator into the mix more than we ever have. Those 13 songs are pre-produced, demos have been made of them and we will record the songs for real when we get back to LA after the summer tour. We are ready to announce, maybe here for the first time, that we are going to put the record out on 311 day next year. I think you are the first person I’ve told. We are going to put it on the big screen tonight in Boston and tweet it out a little bit before.

Wow, that’s amazing. Talk about an exciting 311 day! In regards to the new record being a bit of an innovation and Scotch contributing to the actual writing, has that created the new direction musically or is that something that naturally came about in your songwriting?

Scotch is in interesting fellow. He pulled his RV up to the Hive and was going through our hard drive and finding demos of songs that never really came to fruition and he would completely write the top line to a song we had forgotten about. Some of it I would use but it made us really take a look at stuff that fell by the wayside so there was some house cleaning involved. He lives in a RV so he can spend all his time writing ideas for us. So he was a nice motivator.

311 Day – 2014 was just announced and you’re going back to New Orleans where it all began. In addition to the big announcement that the new record will be coming out that day, what else can fans expect mixed in to the festivities?

That’s what we are working on right now, how it make it a very special show. Obviously there will be a lot of rarities. That’s where we dig deepest and play songs we haven’t played in a long time for the hardcore fans. We might drop some hits in just for fun but its almost like we don’t need to because people have come so many times and they’ve heard those songs before so its more about finding those special things that are really memorable.

311 seems to have a connection with Jamaica, whether its the shows you’ve played there, the Jamaica mentions in your lyrics or the reggae vibes in your guitar work. So I’m curious about your Jamaica ties and where that comes from?

Jamaica is such a special place. Relatively and geographically it’s a small place but it has a worldly impact on music. It’s its own microcosm of culture. I can’t think of any place like it that has had such an impact on music. The combination of unique rhythms and melodies I just connected with a long time ago. I really enjoy getting down there, I had a chance to get there the Thanksgiving before last. It’s a fun place to visit. You can do the tourist thing but then you can also get in to the scene that the locals have like the dance halls in a public area. It’s a lot fun to explore there.

I completely agree. I’m a huge Bob Marley fan and I’m just fascinated by Jamaican culture in general. It relates to 311 in a musical element for me, specifically in the emotion that is drawn. Regardless of the subject matter being addressed in the song, there’s vibe in both that naturally instills a feeling of serenity and you can’t help but feel happy.

Yeah, totally.

I imagine touring is different for you now as a family man with young kids. Are you able to bring your family on the road with you at all?

We have dates where they visit. Now that I have two kids and SA has two, it’s a little harder to travel but it makes coming home that much sweeter. Luckily with technology and facetime its a bit easier to communicate. My oldest definitely understands what’s going on and my youngest is just getting now that Dad’s working and will be back in a couple weeks.

Do they have a favorite 311 song yet or sing some melodies at home?

When they get in the car its always “Daddy’s song, daddy’s song!” Oh there is one song where I say I’m going to throw my watch away and my daughter always says “Daddy I want to hear the throw my watch away song,” and she says “why would you throw your watch away?”(laughs) I explain it’s just a metaphor for losing track of time. I’m not sure she truly gets it but she loves that song.

I have to ask you about the song Sun Come Through which is one of my favorite songs. I’m really moved by that tune and the song Champagne. Lyrically they really strike a chord with me. Was Sun Come Through in contention to be on the Uplifter record or was it always destined to the B-side catalog?

Well, I don’t think you ever intend for a song to specifically be a B-side. You make the songs you can and then at the end decide which are the strongest. In retrospect sometimes you’ll find a song that should have been on the album. Chad wrote the music for Sun Come Through and I recall him thinking it was weird and wanting to put it out as a bonus track. It ended up being a prolific song and actually we played it the other night.

The other song I want to ask you about is Applied Science, specifically the infamous drum routine within it. First of all, no matter how many times you see 311 live that will never get old and it will blow you away. I’m curious as to how that came about and became a fixture within your live set?

First the song just had a 12 bar drum break in it. At our urging, we encouraged Chad to extend it into a full drum solo when we played it live. It would then stretch out to have this jazz yet arena rock drum solo. At some point I thought we should start wailing away too. Chad was into it, gave us some floor toms, worked out a part and its just gotten bigger and bigger. At first it was just floor toms and now we have a concert bass drum, a gong and cymbals. This year we’ve changed the part so it’s gotten pretty dramatic.

I recently heard you mention that you were actually the first bass player in 311. I’m not sure many people knew that. Was the bass your primary instrument when you were starting out?

I started piano at age 5 then switched to guitar at age 12. Then at age 17 I got really into the Chili Peppers and funk so I got a bass. At the time we had a band called Unity, me Chad and Tim. That was basically the birth of the 311, combing rock music with funk and hip hop style. At a certain point I wanted to focus on being just a singer. Chad knew a really good young bassist who was an amazing player. We ended up bringing Pnut on board so I could focus on singing and in the end it all worked out.

311 songs are so dynamic in their arrangements. For me as a songwriter, everything starts on an acoustic guitar. Does the same hold true for you? What’s your songwriting process?

That’s what keeps it exciting that you can change up that process. For example, we had a song that started with just a beat years ago and that ended up turning into the song Evolution off Soundsystem. Other times I start with a lyrical title and work backwards like the song Beautiful Disaster. I wrote the title first on that one. Generally though it starts with chords and rhythm and then I’ll put vocals on it. But it is very important to change that writing process to keep it fresh. Sometimes I’ll start with a loop or sample someone else’s music and use it as an inspiration, then I’ll replace everything so you don’t even hear the original sample. The more ways you can make changes the better.

So there are a few weeks left on the 2013 summer Unity Tour, you’re making your way west then its back to the Hive to record. We are all very eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead with 311 day and the new record. Do you know what the future tour plans around it will be? Perhaps take the show overseas?

Not sure about Europe but we would really like to get to the Philippines, we have a good fan base there and that’s actually on my bucket list. Other than that, we are just enjoying the process and we’re really excited to go home and record these new batch of songs.

That’s great. Well, thank you for all you guys do and for making such an effort to connect with your fans. All the best on the tour as well.

Well thank you. It’s really nice to do an interview with someone who gets us and everything. I appreciate the support and we will see you out on the road soon!

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Richard Patrick Part 3: Trent Reznor & Alice in Chains

In the third and final part of our 3 part interview with Filter frontman Richard Patrick, Richard delves even deeper into his career.  He discusses being a candidate to sing for Alice In Chains in the mid 2000’s when Jerry Cantrell revived the band, his relationship with the former members of Filter from the band’s initial 1995-2002 run, his time in Nine Inch Nails with Trent Reznor.  He also does a funny impression of Billy Corgan, which I uploaded the audio of.  Go read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview if you missed them.

I wanted to ask about Filter’s IndieGoGo campaign. When I read about that I thought it was really interesting. I’d never really seen a band do it for a tour, maybe some bands have done it but not bands that I’m a fan of. What’s the plan with the campaign, what markets do you want to hit and will the amount raised determine how many cities you get to play?

We want to try to get to all four corners. The number one cost with everything is aviation fuel, its plane tickets. To get to a place like South Africa you’ve got to spend 40,000 dollars getting down there. People don’t realize they’re like ‘oh he just got on it.’ We’re not some massive band, we need our audience more than ever. We want our audience more than ever. The reality is, if you can have special merchandise, if you can make special perks, VIP perks, and you do these things and people pay for them in advance, it helps us to get there because then it’s not coming directly out of our money. It’s coming out of the future money we’re going to make from that particular territory. So it’s just a business thing, record companies back when I was with Warner Brothers, they were like ‘hey Filter’s great we’ve got plenty of money to burn let’s spend 30,000 dollars from tour support and get them down there.’ Record companies don’t have that now. Warner Brothers had 2,500 employees in Los Angeles alone. Now they’ve got 30, 30 people work at Warner Brothers if that. People don’t get it, if you’re not paying for the music where does the money go? Well, the money is now not around.

We’ve never been like a massive band overseas. I had personal problems which would make it difficult for me to get out there, and we never did extensive touring over there because we weren’t a huge band overseas. We were predominately big in the United States and Europe. We can get out to Europe it’s just, to go from Europe to Dubai, most people go Europe-Dubai-South Africa. It’s like, we don’t have Dubai, we don’t have any of that stuff. Rihanna is all over their TV stations, Filter? They don’t even listen to fucking rock period in like Germany, nothing with a guitar is on their radio stations slash TV, nothing. I mean Rammstein is a huge underground thing, but it’s not in the public or on TV, it’s just not. Again, Filter isn’t a heavy metal band, we’re not jumping on a genre and just kind of riding the genre. Like ‘okay I’ll grow my hair long and I’ll talk about the devil and it’ll just be fucking one thing and I’ll conform to this one, I’ll find shredders I’ll get Jeff to play 32nd notes as fast as he can on the kick drum.’ We’re completely our own musical genre, we’re Filter. To me we’re the postmodern Clash, where The Clash kind of blend styles and they kind of stick to their guns. Yeah they were punk, but boy they had hip hop in there and reggae, they had all kinds of stuff going on in their sound. That’s kind of what we are, if you’re going to be an island people have to kind of appreciate you as a groundbreaking thing. We’re not just going ‘hey we’re industrial, cha-ching!’ We don’t do that.

I showed up to the first Filter shows dressed up in clothes that I liked, like my old man hat and my old Sears glasses from the Hey Man Nice Shot. I remember in Orlando especially all these kids showed up just Marilyn Mansoned out, and I did that when I was in Nine Inch Nails. I was the full on fucking crazy skinheaded Piggy, that was my nickname Piggy, this crazy lunatic. But in Filter I wanted to make sure that everyone understood it was a different thing, I wasn’t going to just latch on to the most of obvious place like ‘oh okay here it is.’ I used a drum machine to make a rock record. I was like fuck man, Big Black, this band Godhead, they were all drum machine and it was all really cool. I wanted to be a tall Big Black record, I didn’t want it to be industrial. My record company was furious, they were like ‘come on dude it’s an established top 10 fucking thing with Nine Inch Nails.’ I’m like ‘yeah but, it’s been done, I need to step out on my own.’ Then when I wrote Take a Picture they were like ‘well holy fuck it’s a beautiful song but it’s completely different from your industrial stuff.’ I said ‘hey I’m trying to make music for myself.’ It succeeded, but it also hurt the genre inclusion of the heavy fans, they were like ‘fuck you Filter, you made me feel something different other than hate. You make me feel happy.’

But there’s still anger in Take a Picture, that’s the irony.

There’s a lot of fucking anger. You know I was talking to Billy Corgan about it. He was like, [Does Billy Corgan impression] ‘Dude I love that song it’s a huge departure but you’re going to piss off the fucking heavy fans.’ He’s like ‘people don’t realize, when I wrote Today it’s about gouging your eyes out, it’s about fuckin trying to find happiness.’ That’s the thing, kids don’t realize that there’s a lot of fuckin darkness in Take a Picture.

It’s just disguised in a poppy melody basically.

Yeah.

You and Jerry Cantrell contributed to each other’s albums, at least those versions never ended up happening in the mid 2000’s. What happened to that material you recorded with Jerry?

It’s still there. I don’t know, I knew Jerry wanted to put Alice In Chains together. There was a point in time where I think he was considering me.

To sing for Alice In Chains?

There was, according to friends. He was putting it out there a little bit one time. I was just kind of coiling a little bit because I was like, I know that means that I’ll never be able to do [other things], plus the Herculean task of filling [Layne Staley’s shoes]. I’m a tenor, [Layne] was more of a baritone who sang high. So his voice broke up real early in the higher notes where as I have to fucking sing twice as high to get that scream. So just that fact alone would have been a very overwhelming thing for me, to have to sing baritone and lower, it would sound fake. It wouldn’t sound natural. The point is, there was a moment where we were kind of looking at each other like ‘are you gonna be the guy, are we gonna be the guy?’ Nothing was ever said, but he mentioned that they were considering me back in the day but they found that one guy, [William DuVall]. All of the sudden it was just a perfect fit, I’m glad. I’d love to tour with Alice In Chains, I think they’re so great.

You should have gotten on the Uproar Tour, its Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction, you probably would have fit right in on that.

There’s always the future. There’s always something coming up in the future.

Do you think you’ll ever work with past Filter members again like Brian, Geno, and Frank?

Geno is always a friend. I love him, but musically it just never put me over the top. He found an amazing situation with Dave and Device, I’m super fuckin proud of him and I really think it’s a perfect fit. Unfortunately he’s not on tour, that’s the sad thing, that’s where the fun is being out on tour and having a great concert. I guess he wants to be more of a studio guy than a live person, but he wrote all that stuff and it sounded great and I’m super proud of him. Device is taking off and I’m happy for him. Frank is just kind of—it bothers me that people think that’s the original Filter, because it wasn’t. The original Filter has always been me, a computer, a variety of friends that play with me on the record, and a producer. In Short Bus’ case it was Brian Liesegang. I always kind of felt like I was fibbing the whole time like, ‘yeah sure I’ll put your name right next to mine, because I don’t want to be a mean guy who takes all the shit.’

Look at Josh Homme, he’s the main songwriter, he’s the main person behind [Queens of the Stone Age]. There’s different people that come out with him on the road, there always has been, even different singers. But come on, it’s fuckin Josh Homme’s thing. Same with Foo Fighters, same with Nirvana. In Nirvana’s case the drums really did make a big fuckin difference, obviously with Dave. But still, Kurt was the main songwriter the main kind of engine behind that. He was the dark twisted guy that we loved, that came in and fuckin broke through the hair band barrier and saved us all. Something that Jane’s Addiction had started but once Nirvana kind of made everybody aware that alternative music was here to stay, it opened up everything. Those guys, Trent, all those guys made it very easy for us to release records. I’ll never forget them and I’m very pleased to have known some of these guys. I never met Kurt, but being in Nine Inch Nails and working with my friend Trent it really did make a huge difference. Even that, me and Trent are friends again. I e-mail him silly fuckin comments and he e-mails me right back, and its fun. I played him the record and he was like ‘dude this is so awesome’ and tweeted about it. When you get a little older you start realizing how much you love the people who you’ve grown up with. I think there might be something coming up with Robert and Dean at some point.

Yeah you guys are playing a festival together in the fall, Filter and the new STP. So maybe a little one off Army of Anyone thing.

I’m going to bump into my old buddies and we’re going to talk about the good times. You’ve got to make friends in this business. When you get up to a certain level, you’ve got to kind of look around and go ‘how did we get up here?’ And you have something to share. Trent and I lived very similar lives. I mean he got sober I got sober, I got kids he got kids. You start realizing the similarities and the thing you have in common like ‘hey your voice ever go out on you, you ever have a problem with this?’ Knowing other singers it’s important for me, like Jacoby Shaddix. I’m like ‘dude how’s your voice how’s my voice, does my shit work does your shit work?’ You tend to love each other after awhile, you love surrounding yourself with people you respect. Brett from Fuel, he’s someone that like we hang out and see a movie together, we saw Dredd. I went ‘hey what are you doing tonight?’ We’re practically neighbors at this point, we live close to each other, so we’ll go catch a flick and talk about music. You need that, you need that fraternal brotherhood.

At the end of the interview Richard joked about rambling too much and thanked me for the time.

If you missed them, go read Part 1 and Part 2.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Richard Patrick Part 2: Writing Filter Hits & New Album

In Part 1 of my interview with Filter frontman Richard Patrick, Richard discussed his old supergroup Army of Anyone, Scott Weiland, and Filter’s tour bus recently breaking down. You can read Part 1 by clicking here. In Part 2 Richard discusses writing the Filter hits Hey Man Nice Shot, Take a Picture, and Welcome to the Fold along with the process of writing Filter’s new album The Sun Comes Out Tonight. Part 3 focuses on Richard’s relationship with former Filter members, his unreleased project with Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains, and a funny Billy Corgan story.

It’s probably good that Army of Anyone lasted short term because we’ve actually ended up getting more Filter music because of it.

I put out three Filter records as soon as that ended, and each one is getting better and better and closer to what put me on the map in the first place, but still sounding completely fresh now, and that’s a huge thing. Jonny [Radtke, Filter guitarist] and I even butted heads on how traditional I wanted to go with Filter and in a good way. Jonny is forging ahead, his whole thing is he loves stuff like, if you listen to Polar Moon, he’s really into stuff that’s like Take a Picture and Surprise is his favorite song off this record. I love that stuff, but for me and Gregg Wattenberg, Gregg is the guy who signed us at Wind Up Records, he was like ‘hey dude please I want you to bring the heavy.’ I’m like, ‘I want to talk about motherfuckin Sandy Hook a guy goes into a fuckin class and blows everybody away, why is this fuckin asshole doing this kind of shit?’

During the 90’s I was all about the now and the experience of Gonzo music writing in the same way that Hunter S. Thompson did Gonzo. I am hugely inspired by the way he would write his features and his books. He would experience it through the drugs, he would experience it through the chaos and try to report back from Gonzo. I believed in Gonzo music making, so I lived and wrote all at the same time. ‘Hey Dad what do you think of your son now’ [from Take a Picture] was a placeholder, and I was trying to think of other lyrics. They were like ‘that’s the fuckin most honest bizarre thing you could say in that song,’ and I’m like ‘yeah but am I mad at my Dad? Why do I care so much about what my Dad thinks? I mean he raised me and I’m doing fine, aren’t I?’ That pure honesty led to people coming up to me and saying, ‘My Dad left me in a hotel room when I was 3. There’s something about those lyrics that made me get over it and live my life as an adult and not succumb to the things that brought him down.’ So having those experiences was incredibly important.

As soon as I got sober, I tried to write from the perspective of now and how I feel now, but the reality is I’m fuckin happy now, I love my life. So what I wanted to do was I wanted to make sure that I remembered the chaos, and the drugs, and remembered everything, and reported back from those experiences. Because honestly, when my fans tell me to do something, I want to do it, because for me the music is always written for me. I’m trying to blow my own mind musically, that’s number one. But number two is I have to make sure that I do that for my fans, because it’s the fans that have fucking made me who I am today. It’s the fans who have allowed me to do this, and if the fans want chaos and reports from Gonzo music making. I was the first guy in the world to take the R. Budd Dwyer thing, a public suicide, other than that wimpy Pearl Jam song, you know that fuckin Jeremy thing. I brought it way more to the front and talked about how it might have been a good thing, depending on how you looked at it. Hey man nice shot, like it woke everybody the fuck up, ‘the smoke got clear, they’ve got a new kind of fear.’ At least those people right there know that they’re alive they lived, and it’s time to fuckin live life right. That’s kind of the perspective that I was trying to take. I wanted to bring the trauma of that and put it in the Top 40 and I fuckin put it in the Top 20, that song got all the way to number 14, and it’s still to this day considered a classic song. The brutal honesty of a young man’s imagination discovering that people fuckin kill themselves and it’s bizarre and why? I take that perspective and I use it for songs like “Self-Inflicted,” but I’m doing it from a position of knowing. I’ve experience that isolation, I’ve experienced that kind of frustration. So if I’m drawing from my past to remember that, I’ve earned it.

It’s a different perspective rather than being in the middle of it looking back at it, from what you’ve learned from it.

Yeah I mean you know Welcome to the Fold, I was like what the fuck-

That’s my favorite Filter song.

Yeah, and Ben Grosse is like, ‘are you going to have a point to your music?’ Even Marilyn Manson is like ‘what is your point?’ I’m like, I don’t know. I’m not writing from the perspective of I’m trying to say something. I’m writing from the perspective of here’s where I am. [Welcome to the Fold lyrics] ‘I drink to celebrate nothing, and I’m drinking myself away, but it feels A-OK.’ For me to write a song from the perspective of Drug Boy, you know ‘tonight these chemicals are god, tonight these chemicals are sunshine, golden sunshine.’ That is the drug experience, and that line spawned The Sun Comes Out Tonight. It’s all about, I grew up in Cleveland, you ain’t got shit to do. You could spend 7 bucks on hit acid and avoid going to fuckin places that are filled with people, and just kind of crawl on bridges. We used to get underneath the transportation bridge, and I know I’m beyond the statute of limitations on that [laughs]. I’d get underneath that drop edge and we would just walk underneath it and wait until the sun came out. We’d peak on whatever drugs, mushrooms whatever it was. We would just sit there and philosophize on ‘what the fuck is the point of us being on the planet if it sucks so bad for us being kids that fell through the cracks?’

I didn’t have a good time in high school, I didn’t learn anything. I learned, but it wasn’t what they were teaching me. The biggest thing I learned from high school was when my creative writing English teacher said ‘dude, dare to be different dare to dream.’ He was like ‘what do you want to do with your life?’ I’m like ‘I guess I’ll be an accountant.’ He was like ‘are you fucking kidding me? You’re not conservative you’re a romantic, you dream of so many bigger things.’ Nothing against accounting, but I’m not fascinated by numbers like accounts are. I have a friend that’s an accountant, he’s a genius, and he loves it. He’s like ‘god damn dude the equation, look at this thing blah blah the algorithm!’ He’s just all about it, and some of my biggest heroes like Neil DeGrasse Tyson he’s like ‘fuckin Math is everything and it’s awesome.’ So I appreciate accounting and stuff like, but for me it was all about standing in front of people and emoting and hopefully getting them to a level of like, ‘hey thank you for entertaining me, thank you for taking me out of my life for a second.’ That’s the thing that I learned from high school, you don’t have to fucking be normal. In fact, if you’re crazy and you dream, it just might work for you, and that’s what I got.

Now on The Sun Comes Out Tonight, getting back to that, I noticed the different kind of production sound on the album compared to the last couple of Filter albums. Now was that a conscience decision, or did it just happen? Like poppier songs like First You Break It, did that stuff call for it?

Those songs to me were, I wanted to pull from two different emotions that we’re famous for. The fans spoke and I’m working with this new young talent Jonny Radtke. I’m like, ‘Jonny now that we can do everything on a guitar, because you’re here, I want to try and do some fucking heavy riffs that fucking I can’t play. Because if you’re going to do it, and you can play guitar better than me, fuckin let’s go to the places that we need to go.’ So he gave me that, and he loves playing those riffs, those riffs are fuckin fun to him like What Do You Say, We Hate It When You Get What You Want, It’s Gotta Be Right Now, all of the stuff off of this record. The Sun Comes Out Tonight [title track] actually, [Jonny] woke up one day, we heard the Deftones record that came out. We were like ‘fuck!’ He like was just inspired and he wrote this really cool riff, but Jonny really likes music like Take a Picture and stuff like that, and Polar Moon is his band.

The production had to be very skillful, I tend to pull from The Edge. I do a lot of weird happy accident Brian Eno stuff when I do stuff on the guitar. I’m way more avant garde than anybody realizes, so we used my guitar almost as a sound design. For him, the biggest thing was we needed a big huge hook after that vocal thing ‘surprise surprise, no lies.’ You know when there were those big holes, we needed something that was like a piano. We tried all different kinds of stuff, eventually we just went to this piano sound with this cool inverse delay stuff that was going on with it. That took the talent of Mike Lorre and John Alloresto. Those were two men that were introduced to us through the label. Gregg Wattenberg had said ‘these guys are really great electronic guys let’s use them.’ So we sent them the tracks and they put some cool overdubs on top of everything. Like we wrote the melody for Surprise and said ‘can you please put some really great sounds for this?’ So we opened up our links, plus the other thing is we had Chris Lord-Alge mix Surprise. He mixed everything, he mixed all the singles. Probably the only one that might be a single is Self-Inflicted, and that was mixed by Bob [Marlette].

I’m curious what are the next singles going to be?

I really don’t know.

I think First You Break It would be a good one.

Well First You Break It means you’re going light.

But you’ve got to do at least one of those, one of the light songs as a single. Surprise works too.

Surprise seems like a slam dunk, that’s right underneath. But the thing is that people don’t realize is once you go to the light you can’t go back to the heavy.

I think you can just go wherever you want. With Filter I love the lighter sounding stuff and I love the heavier sounding stuff. I get what you mean from a public perspective though.

But even at like Active Rock [radio], as soon as those guys think that you’re going to the lighter stuff, they feel like, I don’t know what it is but there’s a science behind it. To me if we want to have the heavy rock audience longer I would say probably We Hate It When You Get What You Want or Self-Inflicted. Then when we choose to get over into alternative, and broaden beyond just the rock stations I’d say Surprise. Surprise is obviously a huge hit, we’ve just got to figure out when’s the appropriate time to release it. It might be the next one, who knows?

That reminds me of a Filter song from a few years ago that surprises me that it wasn’t a big hit, Fades Like A Photograph. Why wasn’t that released as a big single, because I still listen to that now.

It was, it was released.

It was but I don’t get why radio didn’t play it more.

No one worked it properly, it wasn’t worked properly, people didn’t care. You know fuckin Happy Together, which blew the fuck up off of The Great Gatsby trailer? All of the sudden that’s at a million and a half views on YouTube, then they tore it down, then someone reposted it and it’s at a million and a half again and almost 2 million. We sold 80,000 of those a week for like a month, people are like ‘where’s this been?’ I was like ‘it was released as a single 3 years ago, Stepfather soundtrack.’ If you don’t have that right hype or something behind it, like all of the sudden hearing it sitting next to Leonardo DiCaprio everybody realized ‘oh that’s really cool.’ But when it was heard on active rock late at night it didn’t matter for some reason. I mean Jay-Z’s taken a shit load of crap because it wasn’t on the soundtrack. There’s so many comments that are like ‘I came here to buy the Filter song, where the fuck is it?’ It’s kind of funny to read it on iTunes.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 3 OF THE INTERVIEW

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Richard Patrick Part 1: Scott Weiland & Army of Anyone

I spoke with Filter frontman Richard Patrick for nearly an hour yesterday on the phone, Patrick discussed everything in his career from his early days in Nine Inch Nails, Filter’s hey day in the 90’s and early 2000’s, his time with STP’s DeLeo brothers in the supergroup Army of Anyone, and his return to Filter. Patrick was very candid, discussing the proudest moments of his career and his struggles overcoming addiction a decade ago.  He even did an impression of Billy Corgan!

The interview is split into 3 parts, with Part 1 covering Filter’s recent tour bus problems (the band are currently on the Summerland tour with Live, Sponge, and Everclear), Army of Anyone, and Scott Weiland. Part 2 focuses on Filter’s new critically acclaimed album The Sun Comes Out Tonight, while Part 3 focuses on Trent Reznor, Richard’s relationship with former Filter members, and Richard being considered to replace Layne Staley in Alice In Chains.

How exactly did the Filter tour bus break down, and how is it doing now?

The tour bus was built in 2006, and apparently it needed a new engine. It went to 3 different mechanics and they thought they had it fixed. They blamed it on rotor belts and shit like that and then finally a mechanic just opened up the engine and said and said your fuel cast needs to be replaced, the engine’s falling apart. It’s a hugely expensive problem for us and we’re hoping that Starcoach does the right thing and does their fair share in this. It would really suck if there was a lot of bad press out there for them. It is what it is, we’re ready we’re back we’re going to play tonight. I guess we’ll rent buses that are a little bit more current.  The thing is you don’t know unless you go in there and open up the engine, [sarcastic voice] apparently now I’m supposed to be a fucking mechanic, keep an eye on all this shit. The reality is this, bands are driving their buses. We use the bus as a nerve center for when we’re on a tour, we’re not a bunch of primadonnas we don’t need a bunch of fuckin hotel rooms and bullshit operation. We love each other we’re right there with each other. If one guy doesn’t get to shower, none of us get to shower. The way we tour, we don’t have a huge extravagant light show, we don’t have any of that shit. It’s all about putting food on the table for our family, and keeping ourselves going. Until this, now I guess we have to actually even spend more money and keep the bus more current.

We’re all about delivering the rock without blowing our money on bullshit, you have an issue with the bus and you hope that it blows over. It was just the amount of driving that was happening between Dallas and all the way out there to New Orleans, and then back from La Fayette, Arizona all the way to New Orleans and all the way back the routing makes a difference. You have a lot of days in a row where you need the bus to be in optimum shape. I wasn’t about to put my guys at risk and not get this fixed. So the bus company basically rebuilt the engine, now we’re all back in business. People don’t really understand, if you want a Filter show you’re going to have to have at least the gear, you’re going to have to have at least the stuff we’ve been using and the stuff we’ve become accustomed to. That kind of stuff makes a difference, I understand our fans are pissed, if they keep their ticket stubs we’re going to offer specials on when we return. We’re obviously going to want to make these gigs up, we’re going to be on tour forever. I mean, I’m not saying forever, but we’re going to tour the shit out of this record. This record is so important to us, it represents where we’re at, where we’ve been, we want everyone to hear this.

You mentioned the bus and that’s interesting to me, you said 2006 is old but that sounds pretty recent to me. I’m pretty young and I remember 2006.

I’ve had buses that are way older than that.

Well hey at least it’s not an RV, I’ve read Scott Weiland has been touring in an RV recently.

Bless his heart, I love Stone Temple Pilots, I love Scott Weiland.

Me too, me too.

I was in a band with the DeLeo brothers.

Yeah I know, Army of Anyone.

Army of Anyone, yeah. So, that whole thing with Scott, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what he’s thinking. Listen, I’m not saying anything about his addiction or anything like that, but I suffered from drug addiction and alcoholism and I got sober 11 years ago. Actually 10 years ago, and I’m coming up on my 11th year by taking it one step at a time one day at a time. You either get sober and you turn into Trent [Reznor] and Chris Cornell, or you don’t, you know what I mean? You’re either into the game or you’re obviously out of the game. There’s another friend of mine, he just refuses to get sober, at 45 it looks really bad. It’s not cute, this one guy I know was the most feared man in America and now he’s like, just this huge big fat, gets out of breath halfway through the song like [breathes heavily]. It’s just like, it’s sad.

A lot of people say that I give Scott negative coverage right now, but that couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth, it pains me to write a lot of the stuff I’m writing about him on my site, but that’s just where it’s at.

Believe me, the proof is in the pudding. When I hear ‘I saw Scott Weiland last night and it sucked.’ Me, I was hurt when I went into rehab, and I was kind of like, man I was that fuckin bad and I don’t remember a lot of my friends, my quote unquote friends, saying anything or doing anything. Are we as an audience going to enable this guy, and just tell him that everything’s okay, and as long as he’s alive he should be in Stone Temple Pilots? To me, going on an hour and a half late is not only taking a shit all over your fucking audience, and disrespecting their time, but all these people that work in these venues that are now having to stay out until fuckin 1AM or 2AM, some of these sheds.

I saw you mention that in an interview, specifically the show at the PNC in May 2008.

Yeah, there’s Robert and Dean literally standing outside [Scott]’s bus and saying ‘please let’s go play a concert,’ and he’s not awake yet. From obviously the afternoon or whatever, and it’s heartbreaking. Do we as an audience say ‘take another shit on our face, take another shit on us!’ My audience was very strict, they went to my shows and as soon as I came out and I was fucked up I was embarrassed, they were tough on me. So I hope that we’re not just sitting back and watching this guy kill himself by going ‘oh he’s the shit and that’s what rock stars do,’ because that’s what I heard. A lot of people in my corner, as long as I was making them a ton of money, a lot of people were in my corner going ‘oh that’s just Rich, that’s what rock stars do they get drunk they destroy shit it’s funny, he’s cute because he’s 26 and that’s what they do.’ Then eventually at some point it’s got to turn around, because how many people have got to fucking die? Kurt Cobain, all these amazing young people are dead at 27. You know, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Williams from Drowning Pool. To me we can’t all sit back and enable these guys right into the fucking graveyard, and then ‘make them legends, now they’re legends.’

On a lighter note, related to the STP guys, you mentioned Army of Anyone real quick, and that was actually the most popular topic when I asked fans when it came to what to ask you about. I remember when Army of Anyone came out there were a lot of expectations, Velvet Revolver and Audioslave were out at the time. Why do you think Army of Anyone didn’t end up lasting long term, because I remember you guys splitting up about 6 or 7 months after the album came out.

For me, as a songwriter, I was trying to avoid anything that was too catchy. I was trying to avoid things that were too obvious to Stone Temple Pilots. I specifically went out of my way to make sure I put a different spin on it, I sang really long screams over stuff. I didn’t want to do anything that was melodically similar to Scott, I sang in a register that was pretty high, I made sure everything I did was super high. I also think, we weren’t out to be catchy, we weren’t out to be the hits.

It was a pretty retro sounding album, it didn’t sound like it was trying to sound like the mid 2000’s time period. It just sounded like it was what you guys wanted to do.

Yeah, and the audience is a fickle bitch sometimes. If rock was big, you had Buckcherry then the next thing you know you got all these huge superstars out there being exactly rock. Even Scott, Scott was from our world, the alternative different sounding thing from Guns N’ Roses. Then the next thing you know he’s wearing a Nazi hat and he looks just like the kids pulled straight off Sunset Boulevard right now, the guy that has the super long hair and is ‘rock star’ and the whole thing. We were just kind of following our hearts musically. Having said, the record took a long time to make. It was years in the making, we were on one label and then that ended, then we were on The Firm and that was a brand new label idea and a total brand new model. We went out and we had a hit with the song “Goodbye” but it was, then we went out on tour, we should have probably gone out on some other support tours and found something like that. The reality is for whatever reason, it was apparent to me to form it to kind of do like a side project thing because I was always going to be doing Filter. But I was kind of like fuck it, I’m going to do this whole thing.

Listen, I don’t think anyone realized even in 2005 or 2004 that having to break a brand new band name, nobody realized that’s as hard as it is now. One of the reasons why Filter can get signed and do stuff is because I branded that name all through the 90’s. It’s always there, it’s always something that people identify with. Filter, Hey Man Nice Shot, Take a Picture, cool live show I’m going to go see them. When you’re branding Army of Anyone and no one knows who that is and they have to look deeper into the article and it says Robert and Dean and Richard and Ray Luzier, then they go oh I totally have to give this a whole new shot you know what I mean. Stone Temple Pilots, they’re working on stuff that sounds exactly like Army of Anyone, Chester comes out and he’s Chester he’s a very famous man it’s easy, ‘oh Stone Temple Pilots with Chester, got it.’ But for us, branding the name Army of Anyone that was a difficult thing back then. It’s hard for bands to just come out of nowhere, even The Black Keys were [establishing themselves] back in 2002.

I think the reason why Army of Anyone didn’t really succeed long term was they didn’t really support any singles after Goodbye, and I didn’t really see you guys play any festivals.

It was really frustrating, with the DeLeo brothers [in STP] their 2nd single put them in arenas. They were already in arenas by themselves, and they started this whole new thing and it felt like they were experiencing Talk Show all over again and it really kind of sucked. It was just one of those things where we wanted it to do great things immediately and the reality was like anything else these days you’ve got to work really hard and stick it out there. We kind of did that one tour and it was just kind like, man, fuck it we’ve got to kind of stick to what we’re famous for. Even I released a record [the 2008 Filter album Anthems For The Damned] that was a tribute to this friend of mine who was killed in Iraq. That was too far of a stretch for my audience, my audience was like ‘fuck you give me the heavy fucking crazy kid that I met back in 1996, where’s that guy, you’re subject matter is about how healthy you are and how sucky the war is.’ They want that guy that’s talking about R. Budd Dwyer and fucking tripping on acid underneath the bridge.

You’ve got to write about what inspires you at the time.

Well of course, and I did that. The audience went that’s a really beautiful song, I want old school fucking Filter. For me, it’s like I want the old school fucking Filter too.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2 OF THE INTERVIEW

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Alain Johannes Part 2: Mark Lanegan & Queens of the Stone Age

Here is Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Alain Johannes. In this part of the interview Alain discusses Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Mark Lanegan, Spinnerette, Desert Sessions, and much more. To read Part 1 which focuses on Sound City Players, Chris Cornell, and Alain’s solo career click here.

You worked with Mark Lanegan on last year’s Blues Funeral, you also worked a bit with him on Bubblegum back in 2004. You’ve talked about the process of working with Chris, how’s it different working with Mark? I’ve read some interviews with him talking about Blues Funeral, he said he brings in demos, he even mentioned losing a bunch of demos for that album before coming in for it. But I looked at the credits and you’re basically playing all of the instruments, so how does that work, working out the demos and the songwriting process with Mark?

Well with Mark it’s quite easy. First of all I don’t think we’ve spent more than 4 to 5 hours from beginning to end on any song except for waiting for some guests to come and add like Aldo, Goss, Catching, and Dave Rosser you know. Basically Mark arrives, he’s got the song he plays it for me, we-acoustically and voice, we lay down a quick sketch of it. We discuss what the possible tonalities would be, some things are open some things he requests and then we just go and start layering stuff and adding stuff. He would sing it a couple of times and comp the vocal and it’s done [chuckles]. Then it’s really even close to the mix in the end, it was really crazy. He’d come down, and then we’d get 1 done or post it done, and then 2 days later another one and maybe the week after he’d go away for a week, it was like that. After like, I think a couple of months or whatever it was it was done. There’s just something, he has a presence that makes you kind of into it, what he’s hearing in his head. I’m just there to facilitate and be a vehicle for that. He definitely knows exactly what he wants to hear, if you play something kind of not right he’ll be kind of ‘nah nah nah no’ [laughs] I’ll be like okay how about this? He’s like ‘yeah yeah that’s good.’

As a multi instrumentalist, is there one instrument you spend the most time practicing and improving on?

I try to kind of bring them all up a little bit. Some things there’s just not enough time in the day and the things that require a constant physical attention to be able to achieve a tone or dexterity, dexterity aren’t usually a problem for me. Whenever I pick up an instrument, if I can’t see somebody play it beforehand it takes me an extra-long time to get it. But if I see footage, there’s something about looking at somebody play, like a Duduk or something, the Armenian reed wooden instrument, it always has this kind of cello-y vocal kind of mournful melancholy sound. In The Last Temptation of Christ I think it was called, the Peter Gabriel soundtrack was one of the first time it appears [hums tune]. That one, it basically sounded like I should go duck hunting and attract a bunch of ducks until I saw somebody play it on YouTube, and I was like ‘ah okay I get it now.’ The one that’s the hardest for me would the strings that are intonation and technique, like violin is mark harder for me than cello, because there’s a little more room to move on a cello. Then trumpet, it’s all good up until the higher register which requires your lip to be very strong, and those particular muscles which you would only use if you play trumpet. You would need to play an hour or two a day and sometimes there’s just not enough time. But in general what I do is if I hear a texture I just think of the part and I just practice that part until its close enough to record, and then I just record it. That’s basically how that goes, I wish there were 48 hours in a day but there isn’t.

Is there any unreleased Spinnerette material, and also will another album happen? Because there was a tweet last year that there was some recording going on.

It’s not going to be Spinnerette I think, I don’t think it’s been announced or final but it’s more going to be like a solo record and that is basically done, we’re just doing final touches. I don’t know if this is too early for anyone to hear about this, I could check with Megan her manager but the idea is, because Brody played a lot of guitar and bass and stuff, so that one’s almost finished and it’s very different from Spinnerette it’s hard to describe how, but it is. It’s pretty much done, just waiting to start it up for release. I’m not sure if it’s going to be released as Brody Dalle or what.

Another project where you were a touring guitarist for, this was the first time I saw you live, Them Crooked Vultures, has there been any talk of that coming back at some point?

I mean yeah there’s been talk, I would be so excited, but one would have to imagine that the Queens cycle is going to have to wind down, and I don’t know what Dave is up to now. Hopefully a couple of years from now, or a year and a half we could see that coming back because it would be such a shame if it was just the one, because we got such a great roll, I don’t know- we found our legs in terms of live. It was incredibly joyous, and the feeling of getting so damn good live it was insane. It was like the kind of joy onstage you would get when you’re a kid and you have your first band and you play your first show and you’re like ‘oh my god I’m playing music this is awesome.’ It was like that, it was contagious, John Paul Jones is incredible. I really hope that comes back, but obviously I’m the least in control of that happening [laughs].

Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later because John’s getting up there in the years.

Yeah he is, but he’s so energetic and timeless and looks so good and is in such good shape that he really doesn’t fall into the category of people that look their age, or getting his years or anything. It’s remarkable to me, he’s tireless.

When I saw you guys live, he was one of the most energetic and charismatic bassists I’ve seen live, and it didn’t matter what his age was. Hopefully if Them Crooked Vultures doesn’t happen we get a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, but I’m not holding my breath.

Yeah I mean I’d love to see that too. I don’t know why they can’t get that together, I don’t know what the particulars are but that would be a really amazing thing.

Another project of yours, The Arthur Channel, I read earlier in January that you guys signed a record deal and were supposed to have an album out in September. So what’s the latest on that?

I mean yeah the album’s coming out, my involvement was kind of after it was kind of Greg, John, and Jack’s baby. I ended up mixing the record and playing guitar on one song and enjoying them live. But there’s another guitar player that played on the record, we’ll see how that goes, whether I have time to be a part of it. It wasn’t something that I was involved in writing wise or anything like that, it was just me really enjoying their music and being a fan and then wanting to play with Jack again and stuff like that. We’ll see where that goes, but the album’s coming out in September, hopefully I’ll get to play some shows with them and stuff.

Now any plans for a new Desert Sessions release? I’ve seen interviews with Josh over the years and he’s saying ‘oh it’s going to happen next year it’s going to happen next year’ but is it ever actually going to happen again now?

[Laughs] I really hope it is, and I’m sure he does too. The thing is as you can see, he’s a busy a man. A Queens album, and then an Eagles record, Them Crooked Vultures, and then another Queens. To find the time is the tough part, with family and everything too. I hope so, I’ve got a feeling it will, I’ve got a feeling next year it will. That would be rad, because since 9 and 10 it’s been 10 years.

Do you think it’d be a bit different now with everybody being a bit older, after 10 years or do you think it’d just be like it used to be?

There was always new faces in each one. I mean Natasha didn’t get involved until 7 and 8 and there were 3 others before that right. Then Polly [PJ Harvey] came in on 9 and 10, and Goss. I think it will always be fresh, because it’s not contextually dependent on people’s age or where they are at in their career, it’s kind of a way of making a record. Like the idea being that you throw a bunch of people together 3 or 4 days nobody sleeps you write everything from scratch, interesting combinations happen there’s people working simultaneously on music in different parts of the rancho. And then after 3 or 4 days you have a record, no one really comes with any material. “Hangin’ Tree” and “Making a Cross” I wrote like in one morning while having coffee and breakfast, it just happens.

I’d imagine Desert Sessions would be easier to do again rather than Them Crooked Vultures, because with Desert Sessions a lot of those songs can end up on other records, like Hangin’ Tree. You’re kind killing two birds with one stone by doing that basically.

And “I Wanna Make It wit Chu” and “In My Head”, there’s always songs that end up finding a second interpretation on Queens records. But we’ll see, right now Josh made this incredible record and is out there enjoying touring, we’ll see what happens.

Do you think you would ever work significantly on a Queens of the Stone Age album again?

I mean anything is possible. I was involved a little bit in the very beginning in, I would almost call it the demoing stages and stuff. But I need to go out, I wanted to work with a bunch of different bands and kind of explore that, more like full immersion into the production world. People coming like Jimmy Eat World, Rolling Data, Anis Shimada, a bunch of stuff that has just come out or is coming out. A great band called The Mighty Stef from Ireland, Jack Irons’ son Zach’s band Iron Tom they’re really amazing. It’s been very satisfying to be involved in so many kinds of vibes. Sometimes I’m more hands on because that’s what’s required. Sometimes I just treat the atmosphere like, make sure it’s captured properly, making everyone feel good. I really like that, but now after almost 3 years of that with only a handful of days of, I’m definitely decompressing a little bit at the moment and ready to make some music of my own.

Now speaking of collaborating with other people, you’ve worked with John Paul Jones, Josh, Dave, a lot of talented people. Is there anybody you’ve never collaborated with that you’d like to collaborate with?

Definitely, I’d say Polly. We collaborated like that but I’d love to be involved with her again. I really love St. Vincent, but I’m sure she doesn’t really need to collaborate too much [laughs], she did that David Byrne thing that was really cool. Thom Yorke I would think. Who knows, it would be interesting to explore some of the acoustic stuff too, like bluegrass or kind of alternative country stuff and things like that. I’m pretty much open to anything that moves furious for me, I really thrive on that. Something where you get taken out of your comfort zone and you have to reinvent an aspect of yourself or bring something forward that’s been dormant to help the music come alive. Also, that happens usually by focusing on the universal aspect of music, not the particular thing, there’s no one way to get there. That’s why when I work on records I love to, say if I come up with what I think is a really amazing micing technique or tones or whatever, I never write it down and go okay that’s an incredible sound I’ll go back and I’ll remember that. I always want to start from scratch in a way so I can find something new, something new for me anyways.

Now are there any upcoming projects that you’re working on that fans don’t know about yet, maybe a tour or producing somebody. I know you’re playing live [tomorrow] in LA, by the time this goes up though that might have already happened because this is going to take forever to transcribe [Brett and Alain laugh] but any upcoming projects?

Well let’s see, besides doing this, I’ve got a secret project coming up in August, and another I will be doing in whatever days in between that. I’m looking at collaborating with some people, part of the musical family, near and extended. There’s a few things that I’ve done that, very often the record gets made and the bands go and find the licensing or distribution for it or get it signed after, it’s happening more and more. So there’s some very exciting records I’ve been a part of that hopefully will come out soon. There’s this English band called Firekind, The Mighty Stef from Ireland. Anis Shimada is a Japanese/ Moroccan artist, his previous band was Monoral. Joey Castillo and I played the instruments, and his wife Rie sang some backgrounds and I just did that it’s called None of Ones, it’s still to be determined when and who is putting it out. So yeah, a lot of things are going to drop this year [laughs], I just don’t know when.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Alain Johannes Part 1: Chris Cornell & Sound City Players

Even if you don’t know Alain Johannes’ name, odds are you have heard his music.  Alain has worked with Chris Cornell, Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan, Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, and Flea among others in his three decades in the music industry.  When Alain is involved in a project, everything tends to be elevated musically.  Beyond being a member of Queens of the Stone Age, Sound City Players, The Chris Cornell Band, and Them Crooked Vultures, Alain and his late wife Natasha Shneider co-found the band Eleven, one of the most underrated rock bands of the 90’s.

Part 1 of our exclusive interview with Alain focuses on his solo work, recording Chris Cornell’s Euphoria Morning, Sound City Players, and his run ins with Scott Weiland.  Click here to read Part 2 which includes discussion of Alain’s work with Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Desert Sessions, and Spinnerette.

First off before I get to the questions, about a year and a half ago I went to this Scott Weiland [Christmas tour] show and I thought I saw you there, were you at that show?

No I wasn’t at that show but I remember Scott from, dare I say the late 80’s, from hanging out on Melrose [laughs]. Then we ran into him a few times throughout the years.

So how did you know Scott back then, this was like the early days of Eleven and of Scott in STP as Mighty Joe Young?

Yeah this actually would have been a little bit earlier, like late 80’s. He used to work on Melrose and he was a fan of, maybe it was Eleven already but it might have been even Natasha and I’s previous duo called Walk the Moon, like the Walk the Moon that’s out now [laughs], oops. So then the next time we ran into him actually was really funny. We were opening up for Soundgarden at the Armory in New York and we couldn’t afford a tour bus so we went with the second alternative, that was the really chill thing to do, to rent the motorhome, you were supposed to put a U-Haul in the motorhome so you could cook and stuff. So we parked at the side of the Armory, then we were watching, this was when O.J. was on the freeway chase [on June 17, 1994], and Scott Weiland suddenly shows up and and he goes ‘hey you guys are here’ and we all watched it together, and proceeded to have a really crazy weird show. That was probably the last time we physically saw him, maybe one other time.

The most high profile thing that you’ve done so far this year is “A Trick With No Sleeve” from the Sound City soundtrack. That song is probably my favorite rock song to come out this year along with “I Appear Missing” by Queens of the Stone Age. What was the songwriting process for that song, working with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme?

Basically the initial thing, Dave sent me the demo. He had a bunch of music written to begin the collaborations on the record. He always wanted that acoustic piece of music to be there in the intro to the movie, that was always his idea [hums tune] you know. It was pretty much there in terms of the instrumentation, I wrote the melody and lyrics and then I tweaked the bridge a little bit and the chorus we kind of arranged together when we performed it. Then Josh came in and just slayed on the bass, actually quite a bit of Entwistle in the best way possible. In the in betweens you know he does some crazy stuff, it was pretty cool. So it was that kind of thing, [Dave] already had basically the thing sketched out except no melody and no lyrics and the throw of it. So the E-bows and all that stuff was kind of my contribution, and some of the throws and things like that.

You also performed live with the Sound City Players, I was at the show in LA in February, it was amazing, it went like three and a half hours until 1AM. So that was quite a trip, and the show started really late too because the premiere had just happened. So what was the vibe like backstage with so many legends and big stars like Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, and the surviving members of Nirvana. Just explain the whole process of the Sound City Players live.

Well we started rehearsals, we’d do blocks of the sets you know. Then little by little everyone got to meet each other, if they hadn’t already met obviously. I know [Chris] Goss from years ago and the other guys in Foos and Dave. Lee Ving I used to go see when I was a kid, I met him a few times. As a matter of fact, my first band What Is This, Flea left our band to join Fear for a little bit. Then after that is when the Peppers were formed, so Flea played bass with Lee, back in I want to say 1981 or something. I’d never met Stevie Nicks before, she’s incredible to just be on stage with or to watch her do her thing is so magical and natural, she’s super sweet. Rick Springfield is amazing, everybody was super cool. I’d met Brad [Wilk] before of course, you know running around and stuff. It was just this strange feeling of like a road trip with a bunch of your best friends and then their really good friends and you get to meet them and really get along well. It was quite something, I’d never experienced that kind of like, egolessness, I think that’s a word right? Lack of ego. Super chill and really great, like everyone watching each other’s sets and being supportive, unfortunately it was only like 5 shows in the end. I wish it would have been more, but logistically you can imagine to try to organize everybody for something like that.

The show was a trip, Dave started out on bass and you were out there for the beginning of the show. Dave ended up obviously on guitar, you ended up switching up. Dave was eventually on drums, you had Krist and Pat up there with him. Then Stevie at the end, that was one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever been to.

For me too, just to be a part of it. I got to play on like 18 songs, but that was nothing compared to Dave. Dave was up there the entire time. I remember at the Palladium we really slayed “Gold Rush Woman” that’s an extended thing. The last night was so beautiful, so rad. Getting to play bass with Goss and Masters and Lee Ving Fear stuff was so amazing for me. What I loved about it is there were so many different kinds of pros, it’s just a testament to the level of sensitivity and musicianship of everybody involved that they could support the music so well and so tastefully. No matter what the mini set was like, whatever it was, where it had to be just super in your face or super-fast and punky or groovy or slow or dirgy or psychedelic or sensitive, it was great.

Now you mentioned only 5 shows, Dave had talked about wanting to take it around the world, even though maybe he just meant select shows around the world. But is that it for the Sound City Players to your knowledge?

I don’t think, there was no such thing said like ‘that was it.’ It was just like taking a break from it right now. We did Sundance, LA, New York, London, and South By Southwest. I figured we might have hit like Berlin or Toronto or some of the film festival places. But they’re so kind of far spread apart in terms of time. There was like a block from February to South By Southwest. We started rehearsals in early January or mid-January or something and then went out and did it. But sometimes like Brad couldn’t come out so Taylor took over drums on Masters and then when Corey couldn’t come he snagged the Cheap Trick stuff, Taylor did. It was really cool, we just kept switching it around. We got to play a couple more Eleven songs later and then “Making a Cross” electric version in London.

Also this year, you recently released “Not On This Earth” on iTunes and you’ve been releasing some solo singles on iTunes in the last year. I actually saw you perform solo in May at the Queens of the Stone Age show in LA, I didn’t know you’d be performing so that was a cool surprise. When will you release another solo album or EP to follow up Spark?

I’ve been so crazy just producing for like 3 years pretty much, except for running around here and there. Like when I joined Chris Cornell in South America, and then did a bit of touring in Europe. I’ve just been producing a lot, I had like a Saturday off and I recorded 4 songs all in like 8 hours. That was “Eyes to the Sky,” which was released first. Then “I Do,” was also the same day, that came out on Record Store Day on Schnitzel. And then “Not On This Earth” we just put out ourselves, me and Frank my producing manager. Then there’s one more that is left over, that was supposed to be like a 4 song quick EP. It ended up being like rolled out 1 at a time, and now it makes no sense. I’m actually starting my new record hopefully this weekend, I’m just trying to finish up some mixing with some records I’ve done. It’s definitely going to be more electric.

I saw you tweet about that a couple of days ago, so are you going to ditch the cigar box guitar on this one?

I don’t think I’m going to ditch it, I’m going to ween off of it. There’s some integral textures on some of the tunes that still need it, but it’s not going to be the main protagonist. I want to just extend outward texturally with a few more instruments this time. Obviously drums, electric bass, and then horns and whatever. I still haven’t concocted it in my mind. With Spark there was no real conscience decision I just walked around the house and grabbed a few instruments and that’s what I used for the whole record. This is I think the same kind of idea, I’m just hearing fragments in my head. The way that I work, I usually have just a little inkling of what it’s supposed to sound like and then I just go and do it until it’s done. Thankfully I’m connected like that to it, kind of my inspiration is- especially because I get to do so little of it because I’m helping other people so much. I’m super excited, I got a new instrument that this really amazing guitar builder made which is really inspiring, and of my old stand byes, I can’t wait to get started. I literally am about to fall asleep and I hear it in its entirety and I know it’s pointless and just try to retain what it feels like to listen to it, as opposed to having to get up and do it at 3 in the morning, which would make my neighbors very upset, they’re cool enough as it is because I can go from like 9 in the morning to 11 at night full bore here in the house you know, with a 5 piece band playing.

Since this album is going to be more electric are you thinking about bringing some more people in to work with, maybe Jack Irons on drums?

I might, but there’s some things brewing in terms of side projects, and band stuff. Trios and stuff, nothing I can talk about just yet, still brewing, with several different friends and I might just have a go it depends, it all depends. If I hope to go ahead and do it, then I’ll manage somehow, and then get Jack to come in and Joey and all my friends when they’re around. Some of them are on tour, some of them are here. It all depends on the song, I have no clear idea about that yet. Obviously drums is the one instrument where I can- drums and percussion I would kind of do it as a thing together and I have this particular fill, but I’m certainly no bad ass like my friends are. So if it needs that then I’m thinking yeah, only because I want to differentiate the solo records from what hopefully is coming, which is some band records.

Now going back to the late 90’s, you and Natasha collaborated with Chris Cornell on his debut solo record Euphoria Morning, which to me is one of the most underrated records of the 90’s. What was the process like working with Chris back then and how it was writing with him, because there’s some songs on the record that Chris wrote alone and some songs where you and Natasha collaborated with him.

He had a bunch of songs, originally we just helped him flesh them out in demo form or arrangement wise, tweaked them a little bit here and there. Then we wrote some, the first initial stages of them, like “Pillow of Your Bones” Natasha started, I started “Mission” and “Follow My Way.” That became more of a collaboration, those kinds of songs because it was coming up from the other direction. He would write melodies and lyrics and tweak stuff from the other side, so that was much more like a full collaboration. Some of the other stuff he already had fleshed out was just basic, as a unit working through the possibilities of textures and arrangements and sounds, all those kinds of choices, which is quite collaborative too but less of a full co-writing thing. It was just really magical, we just did it here at the house no pressure. Nobody knew it was going down, it was like 7 months, which were not 100% 7 months active, it was like 2 weeks off here and there, he’d go back to Seattle he’d come back down we’d do another 2 weeks. It was like that, it was pretty chill. Then when it was done with, we just kind of went ‘ta-da’ [laughs]. People were like ‘what, when did you do it, how?’ It was an amazing time, Mike Cameron came down, Josh Freese, Greg Upchurch, Bill Rieflin, our friend Ric toured in the band and played bass, and Jason Falkner came in and played bass. I played a lot of bass and guitar, and so did Chris. We’d sit around, we’d just set up a bunch of different amps and find the most perfect tone for the part. Which was great, it was like a home studio but a pretty advanced home studio, even more stuff then you would have in a commercial studio because all of the hundreds of instruments. It was just a really cool chill process, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something like that. Because usually 7 months seems like it’s an overly thought about or labored thing, but it wasn’t at all, it was just flow flow flow, then turn them off and kick back a little, then keep going, and then it was done.

You worked with Chris again on “The Keeper” a couple of years ago, how was it kind of reuniting with Chris doing that and to add on to that, do you think you could end up producing his next solo record? I’d like to see that happen.

Yeah, I’d love to. We had some talks about working together again, but you never know, he’s so amazingly capable and brilliant at doing it on his own too. But I’d love to be a part of it, but it’s just not clear if that’s a reality. But in terms of working together on The Keeper, you know like when you run into a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, maybe a high school buddy, even though you’ve both lived through all kinds of other things, you kind of pick up where you left off. There’s a natural connection from the familiarity so when we started working on The Keeper, I still got the same feeling. It goes way back to when we met Soundgarden, we were at a truck stop and they were pulled up, their bus was there our bus was there. We were listening to Badmotorfinger and they were listening to Eleven’s first record [laughs]. Somebody came and walked up and opened the bus, and they were like ‘hey oh my god.’ So they invited us to open up some shows on a California run, then went up to hang out and Natasha played clarinet on Fresh Tendrils. Then they invited us to tour with them all the way down right before they stopped the first time. There was this natural friendship and connection there which is really awesome.

AlternatiuveNation.net Interview With Perry Farrell, Jane’s Addiction Frontman

I met up with Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell backstage at Terminal 5 for the band’s December 29, 2012 stop in New York City. We had a sit-down interview in which we discussed Perry’s next big vision, his plans for Lollapalooza, band tensions, what it was like to record with Trent Reznor, and more.  Dobel Tequila helped us secure the interview, you can check out our contest for a signed bottle of Dobel Tequila and a photo book from Perry Farrell by clicking here.

You recently said that there have been 60 songs written for the next Jane’s Addiction album. How developed are those songs?

There’s over 60 lyrically written and then there’s probably 38 recorded, but they were not Jane’s Addiction, they were mine, for the next project. The next project’s going to be a really interesting affair, never before done in history. It’s going to be immersive theater, like a musical or a play. I’m going to have Jane’s writing one record and then I’ve written another one that’s electronic. It’s theater, and in some cases, the scene takes place out in a place like Phuket or a region like that in a bar or a club, so you’d be listening to dance music. I’ve written that part of the show, which is the first half of it. In the second half of it, lyrically, I have many song melodies, but they haven’t been recorded or worked with Jane’s Addiction yet.

On the last album The Great Escape Artist you collaborated with Dave Sitek. Do you plan on working with someone like him again in the future or would you rather just work with the band?

You know, I would love to work with Dave again. He was really fun to work with number one, I thought he did great work number two. I’m working with electronic music in part and then I’m going to move into more alternative sounds. I’d even want to get into some symphony, so I’m not sure who I’d work with yet, although Dave and I have talked a lot about working together.

Would you want to release your next album through a major label?

No. Absolutely not.

What would you want to do?

Since this is going to be a play, I would find private backing and private investors. Those private investors would pay Jane’s Addiction to record a record, and then they’d buy the rights to that, and we would set our own publishing deal with somebody and have it that way. Because with the last record that we did, we did it with Capitol Records. We had this beautiful record, and Capitol Records when our record came out, fired our A&R person and sold the entire company to Universal. I’m not interested in dealing with them, there’s no good reason to work with them. If you can get money from another direction, another area, to make your record, and you keep your publishing. I don’t know what good it is to even try to go on selling records or songs. I’ve been out of that whole thing for years now. Jane’s was never a big record seller. All I would care about, to be honest with you, is that people have our songs on their iPod and they can hear our songs on Spotify or Pandora. I’m good with that. I don’t need to make money that way. The way I’d like to make money is that if someone wanted to use a song for something, in this case a play, or someone wanted to use a song for a movie, if there was a great movie idea. Then of course, the live performances. Building a live environment to perform inside, a beautiful new and exciting venue–that would be the immersive theater–rather than going to a stage, because I think people are burnt out on it.

Switching gears a bit, you worked with Trent Reznor back in 2009 on the track “Embrace the Darkness”. Will that song ever come out?

I think it should come out, but it’s one of those immature fighting things where…basically me and the bass player [Eric Avery] got into it and he didn’t want to release it. I think it should come out. Why not? I think people would really care to hear the song.

What was it like working with Trent?

It was alright. Decent. I can’t say it was my fondest experience in recording, because to be honest with you, the bass player and I were having it out and he [Trent] had to be in the middle of it because he had to get work out of both of us, and he had to be kind of impartial, and that kind of made him a bit wishy-washy.

Would you ever consider a Porno for Pyros reunion?

I love all the guys in Porno and I’ll always want to do it, but I’ve gotten so hot with this new project, now that it’s in the works and moving forward, that…something really great came up. It’s sort of like you were with a girl or with a guy, and then you guys broke apart, and you started getting in contact with each other, like ‘yeah, we should see each other again sometime’, and then all of a sudden this amazing person comes into your life. You know what I mean? And as much as you’d like to still see them…I’d like to still record with them [Porno for Pyros] in my lifetime. But this new project, this immersive theater, is so challenging and so exciting to me, because what I am trying to do is create a new environment for people to go out and enjoy themselves. It’s not easy to do. Back in the day you’d go out to a club, and you could see a band that’s not even signed, and go out there and really enjoy yourself. Then dance music came in, and people moved on to ‘well I’m going to sit at a table and go listen to a DJ, and I’m not going to see some group struggling to get signed because the record release sucks’. And that’s getting boring. That’s boring, right? Something has to come next, and I’m trying to create what’s next.

Are there any plans to expand Lollapalooza? Would you want to have more destination shows or would you want to go back to doing a tour?

No, I wouldn’t want to go back to doing a tour because the world, the country is not the same as it was back in those days. There could be 28 or 35 locations where you could show up and there’d be enough people to warrant going to your city. Now they have main markets and tertiary markets. In your main markets, there could be 6 to 8 main markets, if that, and your tertiary markets drop off real quick. Now, this year, Jane’s Addiction for example, we went back to all the places that we played twenty some odd years ago, and some of these cities are in bad shape. I feel bad, but I was glad I went. I love this country and I love the people too. They’re amazing. The young people are really cool. Everyone’s really mellowed out. As far as Lollapalooza, we have to be really careful where we go, because we’re talking about potentially losing millions of dollars, and you can’t do that a lot of times.

You were involved in a reality show with your wife, Etty. Is there anything similar on the horizon?

My wife was briefly on a show called “Married to Rock” with Duff McKagan of Guns ‘n Roses and Billy Duffy from the Cult, and Steve Stevens from Billy Idol’s group. She didn’t enjoy it that much. But on the horizon, we want to do television. I want to do something that is much more music-centric, with the real lives of young musicians that are making music, and not make a mockery of their life and celebrate their life and actually have them perform.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Nicole Fiorentino, Smashing Pumpkins Bassist

Last week AlternativeNation.net had an exclusive interview with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, and now to close out November we have an interview with Smashing Pumpkins bassist Nicole Fiorentino. November has definitely been the month of the bassists on GrungeReport.net.

Nicole Fiorentino joined the re-tooled Smashing Pumpkins in 2010, replacing Ginger Pooley on bass. She has gone on to become the most popular Smashing Pumpkins bassist among fans since D’arcy Wretzsky, with her playing and backing vocals on Oceania and the subsequent 2012 tour gaining widespread praise. The Smashing Pumpkins resume their North American tour next week, following the postponement of tour dates due to Hurricane Sandy.  In this Q&A, Fiorentino discusses the Pumpkins’ planned followup to Oceania, setlists, the status of the Teargarden By Kaleidoscope project, and much more.

Billy Corgan is known to be one of the hardest working musicians out there, with the Smashing Pumpkins doing a lot of rehearsing. Was this hard to adjust to at first when joining the band and was it intimidating to work with a musician with Billy’s work ethic? Do you recall how many songs you went through during this ‘initiation’ time period?

I think one of the reasons Billy and I work so well together is because of our similar work ethics. I’m a very determined person and I work best when challenged and under pressure. I’ve also struggled a long time to get to where I am now, and I wasn’t under any illusion that it was suddenly going to be all sunshine and butterflies when I joined a band at this level. If anything I was expecting to work harder than I ever have before. I can’t really recall how many songs I learned initially, so I guess that answers the question!

How have the reactions been so far from fans hearing Oceania from front to back live this year? Does it seem to be connecting more with the audience from show to show, or vary from city to city? I’ve read some reviews and there have been many fans excited to hear it, but then also some of the more casual fans shouting for the hits. I think it’s great that you guys are playing it live, there are some veteran bands that I cover on GrungeReport.net that I wish would be as confident as you guys are regarding playing new material and moving forward.

The reactions to playing Oceania live have been incredible. The most positive feedback the band has had in many years. At first it was intimidating, getting up there and not knowing how people were going to respond to an hour of new music, but that’s the risk we decided to take. This band has always been fond of risk-taking, so why stop now? For me it was nerve-wracking because I contributed to this album, so I have more at stake now than I did just playing the old stuff. If they don’t like it, I played a huge role in that, you know? Of course some audiences have been more lively than others, but in general we seem to be captivating them, and that’s not an easy feat with new material. You can tell pretty early on if it’s working or not, but I think overall people are leaving happy. There’s always gonna be the audience that just wants the hits, but the proof is in the pudding. Tweets come pouring in after the shows. I consistently hear things like “best Pumpkins show I’ve ever seen”, “best concert I”ve ever been to”, “mind-blowing” etc. So we’re doing something right.

Has there been more pressure with this North American tour, playing larger venues? Especially playing a new album and the band not having done a headlining tour in arenas during the last few years.

Yeah it’s tough times everywhere right now, so playing the larger venues can be challenging. But again, we’re a band that’s known for taking risks, and if it doesn’t work then you move on to the next. But regardless of who’s there, we’re gonna play the same show with the same energy. The people on the floor aren’t looking up into the seats to see if the show is sold out, they just want to see a great rock show. so we have to think about that when we’re up there. either way, the people that are there are having fun, and they’re each gonna share that with 3 friends, so on and so forth. I feel confident that we are putting on a quality show that speaks for itself. when the quality is there it’s undeniable, whether you are playing old or new material or a combination of both.

What is the dynamic like with the band traveling, and before and after shows? Do you spend a lot of time hanging out with Billy, Jeff, and Mike or are you guys off doing your own thing?

We have a very healthy dynamic. We are friends and we do hang out, but we also know to respect each others’ privacy. It’s difficult on the road because you don’t have anything to ground you. you’re not in your own house, you don’t have your things, usually your significant other isn’t there. so it’s hard to maintain any semblance of a normal life. you have to be supportive of everyone’s needs. for me, I have to do yoga, read, go for walks alone. but I also like to get a healthy amount of social time too. it’s all about balance and knowing each others’ boundaries. but overall we really do like each other and getting along really well.

How do the band put together the setlists?  Are there any songs you are hoping to play in the future with the Pumpkins?

We are very particular about the set lists. A lot more goes into it than just throwing songs onto a piece of paper and shuffling them around. SP has such a huge catalog so we have to attempt to not play too many songs from certain records and neglect others. We usually go into rehearsals with a general idea of what we want to play but then if something is going against the flow of the set we try to think of a song that has the right vibe. It’s not like we are trying to meet a quota or have a certain number of hits, we’re also not avoiding the hits. we really just look for what is going to create a shift in the set, a new moment. the last thing we want is for the set to feel linear, it needs to have movement. so if we play something like Bullet with Butterfly Wings in the middle of the set, we’re not gonna follow it with Zero and Cherub Rock. we’d go with a song that’s going to shift the mood, something epic or mellow. we like to take people on a journey.

I know you played a new song called “Black Sunshine” live a few times on the North American Oceania tour, has Billy brought any other new song ideas to the band yet? Where do you sense the vibe of new material going?

Yeah Black Sunshine was an idea we had when writing for Oceania. It didn’t make the cut at that time, but it has evolved a lot since then. It’s hard to tell what the vibe of the next record will be. It’s interesting because I’ve been listening back to the original demos from Oceania and it’s crazy how far the songs have come since then. We probably had 15 different versions of Pinwheels at one point. I mean like completely different versions: the rock version, the synth version, the psychedelic version. But the one that stuck was the one that fit in with the story line. Like our live shows, we wanted the record to take people on a journey. So it’s really too soon to tell what the vibe is going to be according to the ideas we are working on now. Either way, I think this new record is going to take it to the next level for this incarnation of the band because now that we’ve been through the process once together, we can dig a lot deeper this time. for me I feel more confident and I feel a sense of ownership to the music now, so whatever direction the new record take I am going to give it everything.

You mentioned on Facebook recently that you are considering doing a solo project. Personally I’d love to hear it, especially after hearing your vocals on Oceania (particularly on Pinwheels) and in The Cold and Lovely. When might the solo project happen, and do you have anybody in mind who you might want to contribute to it?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a little while now. Obviously my priority is focusing on my work with SP, but I definitely think it would be good for my soul to put out something on my own. It would be a different kind of challenge, something I’ve never done before, so that’s exciting to me. I’ll work on it gradually during my down time, and I am in no rush to release it. I mainly just want to do it for me, and then if people want to listen to it great. if they like it, even better! I am not looking to have some solo career. I like being a bassist in a band. it’s what feels right. as far as contributors, I’m not sure. I have so many talented people in my life so there is a surplus there. Most likely Meghan Toohey, probably my friends Barbara Gruska (The Belle Brigade) and Brian Aubert (Silversun Pickups), and maybe I could get one of my fellow Pumpkins to make an appearance!

What bands out there today are you excited about, both young and old? Any albums that you’d like to recommend or that you’re excited about?

St. Vincent, Silversun Pickups, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Explosions in the Sky, Wild Flag, Rachael Yamagata, Neko Case, The Gossip. I would recommend any and all albums from these bands. I listen to the Cure, PJ Harvey and Bessie Smith 24/7, but I think I mention that in every interview. I’m also very excited about my new Tibetan chakra meditation album. Nothing like a crystal singing bowl to start my day off right!

Is the Teargarden By Kaleidoscope project done? Or will the next album be part of it?

Teargarden is an ongoing project that Billy has committed to completing with 44 songs. So as far as I know anything we release before those 44 songs are complete will be included under the Teargarden umbrella. Oceania is considered part of the Teargarden project, so presumably the next record will be too.

What are the band’s plans for 2013 touring wise? Do you think the Pumpkins can have another album out by December 2013/early 2014 like Billy Corgan hopes to?

It’s hard to say what the touring situation will look like in 2013. I think we will do some festivals and hit the markets that we didn’t hit this year on Oceania, but I think the main focus is going to be working on new music. I think we have proven that our strong suit is creating new music together, so we really want to keep the ball rolling. I think if we start working on the record in January it could feasibly be out by early 2014. That will be the goal and then we will do our best to get it out as close to then as possible.

There have been many Smashing Pumpkins lineups and break ups over the years including the original lineup, the Adore lineup, the MACHINA lineup, and the Zeitgeist touring lineup which had Jimmy Chamberlin and current Pumpkin Jeff Schroeder. The current lineup though seems to be clicking musically and personally. How long do you envision this current incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins going, and what do you want to accomplish?

As far as I am concerned, this is where I belong. I think we have a lot more to offer the world musically, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I would love to continue to release as many records as possible with this band. Ultimately the decision is up to Billy, how long he wants to keep it going. But so far it feels good, it’s working, we put out a record together that got a great response and are gearing up to do it again. I can’t predict the future, but my intention is that I am in this for the long haul.

Billy has made it clear in interviews that the current lineup is a real band, not a collection of hired guns. While Billy is obviously the frontman and dominant creative force in the band, do you envision you or Jeff maybe co-writing some Pumpkins songs in the future, like James Iha did from time to time in the past?

I mean I wouldn’t rule it out. We work very well together so it’s a possibility. Either way, from the start I have been willing to contribute as much as Billy is open to. And the fact that I am the only bass player to have created and played all of my own parts on an SP record says a lot. We have a really intense musical chemistry and I’m so excited to see where it goes from here!

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam Bassist

I attended RNDM’s in store performance at Fingerprints last night in Long Beach, California.  RNDM features Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament on bass/vocals, Joseph Arthur on lead vocals/guitar, and Richard Stuverud on drums.  I interviewed Ament following the performance.

What are your plans over the next few months, some more RNDM or maybe some solo shows for your solo record?

No solo shows but I think we’re going to do some more RNDM touring probably within the first couple of months of next year.

Soundgarden are touring through February, are you guys going to finish the new Pearl Jam album in March?  I heard Matt mention that as a possibility.

I don’t know, we’re going to talk in March about that, I have no idea what’s going to happen.

You guys have recorded some songs, how many songs are recorded, are they in demo form? Do you know the rough amount?

There’s complete songs that are finished.

Is “Ole” one of them [from the new album sessions]?

Yeah.  I actually haven’t listened to those songs in a year, so I have no opinion on if those songs are going to be on the record or not.

So they all were from 2011, around PJ20 when you recorded them?

Yeah.

So do you think they might be bonus tracks if they don’t make the album?

I don’t know.  I mean I remember when we were recording them it felt like there was a handful of really good songs, but like I said I haven’t listen to them in a year so I don’t know.

When is Pearl Jam going to tour the south?

Well Ed’s down there right now taking care of business.

What about Pearl Jam, the full deal?

I don’t know, we have no plans.  I mean I would love to do a proper tour of the whole country at some point.

Thanks Jeff.

Cheers man.

I was a few feet away from Jeff during RNDM’s performance, it was a great experience to watch him play bass up close, it really gave me a better sense of his playing style.  It was harder to focus on Jeff’s playing at the Pearl Jam shows I attended in 2006 and 2009, especially sitting in the middle of an arena.  The performance lasted around 25-30 minutes, they sounded solid especially for playing a record store.  You could tell they were genuinely having fun up there.  They didn’t waste any time in starting the show either, they walked in and started playing “Modern Times” as the crowd was entering.  Below are some of my photos.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With The Melvins

Almost halfway through their record breaking tour (yes, there is at least one other band claiming to have done this) the Melvins had made their way into New England. The weather was probably something reminiscent to a typical day in Seattle where almost 30 years ago they had spent the beginning of their careers playing alongside Kurt Cobain as Fecal Matter before Nirvana had formed in 1987.

Once I heard about this insane and “stupid” tour I knew I had to make it to at least one of the shows. While the Melvins were part of the Seattle grunge scene, and were even colleagues with Nirvana, they never gained the notoriety that a lot of the other bands achieved. Call it a blessing or a curse, but they were never tainted by the fame and fortune like some of other bands were. I used this to my advantage and a couple months before the show got in contact with Melvins’ PR rep to ask about shooting the concert. I got my permission and on Friday night I went in to “work,” for GrungeReport.net. I did some test shots with the opening band, trying to find the best vantage points. I found a nice little balcony left of the stage, bullshitted my way past security, and went upstairs.

That’s where things got interesting. I made my way down a dark, empty corridor and realized I was right outside the Melvins’ dressing room. After wiping the perspiration from my palms, I opened the door and walked in. Seated to my left was bassist, Trevor Dunn, and straight ahead, Dale Crover was standing, beating the hell out of a big black gig case, labeled MELVINS with his over-sized drum sticks which seemed to be half mallet, half drumstick. I introduced myself and walked through to the balcony, trying to make sense out of what just happened. Not a minute later another door opened, and Buzz sauntered out to where I was for a moment. He walked to the balcony’s edge, peering down at the stage for a moment like the wise old owl of the forest then went back to the dressing room. I decided that it was time to assume the role, so I went back into the dressing room and asked Dale and Buzz if I could get a couple shots before they went on. They were both really accommodating to it, and just really nice guys– average Joes, if you will. Dale just kept drumming on his case, while Buzz says, “Sure, what do you want me to do?” Instantly I thought, what do I want you to do?? This is fucking King Buzzo, the Godfather of Grunge!

“Just be Buzzo, man.”

“OK, I’ll do my best,” he laughed.

I took 2 shots, the first of which was slightly out of focus, as I anxiously fumbled with the focus ring.

At this point I figured I’m in a 10×10 room with the Melvins and no one was asking me to leave, so I just started talking. Keep in mind, I had no idea that the course of events that night would lead me to hanging out with the Melvins behind closed doors, and I had nothing prepared to talk about. With the new Soundgarden single still in my head from listening to it all day, I figured I’d talk about that.

AlternativeNation.net: What do you think about Soundgarden getting back together and putting out a record after 16 years?

King Buzzo: I don’t really care about it [laughs].  I didn’t like their last record. Badmotorfinger was good, but it was overproduced. I haven’t really liked them since Chris was playing drums.

AlternativeNation.net: Wow, that’s going way back.

King Buzzo: Yeah. He’s better than the guy that replaced him on drums.

AlternativeNation.net: Matt Cameron? I’m sorry, I’ve never heard that before. Matt’s always been one of my favorite drummers. He’s a beast.

King Buzzo: [shakes head] Chris Cornell is a better drummer than him.

AlternativeNation.net: That’s insane. I’ve never heard that before.

King Buzzo: [still shaking his head] Chris Cornell is as good as a drummer as he is as a bad guitar player.

AlternativeNation.net: Oh my god. I love it.

King Buzzo: He was a good drummer. I think he was a good drummer, didn’t you?

Dale Crover: He was fucking good.

AlternativeNation.net: I thought he was OK with his rhythm [guitar].

King Buzzo: No, Chris. Did you ever hear him play drums?

AlternativeNation.net: No, I never heard him play drums, but you’re talking about his guitar.

King Buzzo: No, no, no, no, no. It’s like a typical, music-typical drummer who wants to play guitar. [Smiles, laughing] Not very good.

Dale Crover: Then you’ve got Dave Grohl, it’s like great drummer…

King Buzzo: Dave Grohl’s not going to be a better guitar player than a drummer.

Dale Crover: No way. He’s not saying he can’t play guitar, but…

King Buzzo: He’s not exceptional at all.

AlternativeNation.net: The drumming he did on the Queens Of The Stone Age record was ridiculous.

King Buzzo: Yeah.

AlternativeNation.net: He was almost as heavy as Dale.

Dale Crover: And that Killing Joke record he played on.

King Buzzo: That Killing Joke record was the best thing he’s ever played drums on– by far. I mean, he’s a good drummer, and a very, very mediocre guitar player.

AlternativeNation.net: What about the singing though?

King Buzzo: I don’t like it.

AlternativeNation.net: Aww..

Dale Crover: Who? Dave or Chris?

AlternativeNation.net: Chris.

King Buzzo: It’s ookay.

AlternativeNation.net: He’s lost a bit of it over the years, but still sounds pretty good.

King Buzzo: His scratchy vocals might be better now [Dale laughs].

AlternativeNation.net: Really?

King Buzzo: Maybe [laughs]. Might be. (Exit King Buzzo)

AlternativeNation.net: It’s too bad you guys didn’t do Philly this tour.

Dale Crover: Yeah, we did PA last night. We were in Allentown. The drive was a little easier from there. Otherwise, the Philly crowd is great. I like the TLA.

AlternativeNation.net: Thanks for the interview, Dale. Have a great show, man.

Dale Crover: Thanks.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Melissa Auf Der Maur, Former Hole And Smashing Pumpkins Bassist

Interview from May 10, 2010, reposting it since we moved to a new host and lost everything.

Melissa auf der Maur recently released her second solo album, Out of Our Minds, you can check out xmadmx.com for more information on the unique ways you can buy it.  auf der Maur is most well known for being the former bassist for Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins.  She was the longest reigning bassist for Hole, playing with the band from 1994 to 1999.  After quitting Hole she joined the Smashing Pumpkins from 1999 to 2000 and was part of the Pumpkins during their first farewell tour.  In this very revealing interview auf der Maur talks about why she turned down taking part in Hole’s 2010 resurrection, whether she was asked or not to participate in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2007 reunion, and the truth behind the making of Hole’s Celebrity Skin.

In the mid 2000’s you transitioned from being a bassist in bands like Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins to a solo career.  Many instrumentalists like Dave Navarro who have toured solo have said they didn’t really like becoming frontmen.  Do you prefer being part of a band or being a frontwoman in the live setting?

In a live setting good question.  For me going solo meant freedom to collaborate and do whatever I feel I’m good at doing.  For me it was really not ever expanding as an artist, developing everything from my songwriting to my singing to my mission statement to my vision.  I’ve been so inspired by all the creative freedom that it brings that I have no complaints.  To me to be a solo artist means I can do so many new and exciting things and I feel very strongly that one must evolve and grow.  I love being a bass player and I feel really good that I was able to spend a focused chapter defining that role, but I’m not someone that likes being in the same role forever.  With that being said in the live capacity, I guess because I was so motivated to grow and expand that’s why I loved it, but were there challenges?  Absolutely.  Luckily for my first record I toured 180 shows worldwide, so I think I think I learned everything I needed to learn in those 180 shows.  In the case of someone like Dave Navarro, I don’t think that he toured for a solid year being a solo person, so I think that ultimately I put myself out there and I learned my weaknesses and my strengths in that year of touring.  So by the time I dove in to my second record I really feel like I had crossed that uncomfortable line you have to cross to become a frontperson.

Your new solo album Out of Our Minds took you years to make, do you think your experiences with it will make your next record easier and quicker to make?

Yes, absolutely holy moley.  I just want to mention though of course that all of the years that I was making Out of Our Minds was certainly wasn’t laboring over music.  There was a year or two where I didn’t even touch the music; it was about the whole concept.  It was like a year of the fantasy film, a year of developing this sort of artist production how it’s labeled concept where I decided I wanted to be an independent distributor of my music.  So believe me it wasn’t laboring over music for years, it was being patient putting the music on hold to develop these other elements that I wanted to bring around the music.

Basically it wasn’t Chinese Democracy.

Definitely not oh my god, I looked forward to sharing those [songs] with people over the cycle of the project.  It was really a great lesson in patience, but what happened with the music that was cool is I would put it aside like in one case it was because everyone in Capital Records was fired in one day.  Then there was this amazing detangling of a record contract, so for 6 months I didn’t know if I’d even be able to play the songs I had been writing and recording.  So that’s one example of it being put on hold.  The other one was diving into the fantasy film which took a whole year to produce, shoot, edit, and all the other elements.  What’s great is that those breaks meant when I went back to the record, I had a really refreshed outlook and a new take on the record.  I don’t recommend it, because believe me now my fantasy is just to go into a studio and record a record in a month and move on.  It would be great, but it definitely made for a more layered experience and record.  It was worth the creative experiment.

With Out of Our Minds you adapted to the new musical climate with your innovative concept of releasing an album, film, and comic book revolving around the project.  With the record business further deteriorating and many of your musical peers like Billy Corgan and Trent Reznor releasing all of their music for free online, where do you see yourself going with your next release when it comes to marketing strategies and selling the album?

I think that this is definitely the way I am doing it right now which is basically like, the majority of it is artist direction and it’s so liberating and so exciting and obviously Trent was the total pioneer and visionary behind this new forum because I think it makes total sense.  Really affordable or free digital version, and then if you really want to have and hold something in your hand, I think myself as a music lover I really like something with depth so I still don’t buy on iTunes per say, but I will go to the store to buy the CD or if a book came out with the album I would be excited about actual items, which is why with this project that’s what I’m offering which is more of a tactile world, I think that’s definitely the way of the future for people like me and the types of artists that I like and therefore probably the types of people that follow my work is people who will actually want something special or just the cheap free version.  I think that’s the ultimate business model in that it reflects what people want.

This is kind of a two part question.  I’ve read you mention that you wouldn’t have taken part in the Hole resurrection because of your commitment to your Out of Our Minds solo project, but did Courtney ever outright ask you to be part of the new Hole lineup?  Also what are your thoughts on all of the new Hole members being men?

Well I mean there were a few reasons as to why I was not ready to do anything Hole this year, it was definitely my creative pursuit with my project but it wasn’t only that it was also the way that Courtney was making it basically a new project versus a real reunion or retrospective of the work that didn’t make sense for me to step in.  And to answer your question, she did call me last year and was very honest with me about her plans of releasing a new record, which originally started as a solo record and then towards the end she decided to release it as a Hole record.  That didn’t make much sense as far as a reunion to me, I basically told her that if she was interested in doing a revision and a best of and review all of this incredible material that mainly Eric is sitting on top of, Eric is the co-owner of the band.  He has access to these incredible archives that are phenomenal, we recorded and filmed a lot of our tours we have an incredible amount of outtakes.  Basically I just said that if her and Eric were ever ready to do a real revision, I would be there in a heartbeat to support the legacy and putting out the, you know a reflection of the amazing creative journey that Hole was in for 3 albums.  Even as a fan I find that really exciting.  But she was looking more to the future, she was more about this new record of hers and that just didn’t make sense to me, which is also why I guess I didn’t end up participating on the new record.  She invited me, she was also working with Michael Beinhorn, who was the producer of Celebrity Skin who I had a very particular good creative relationship with during the making of Celebrity Skin.  So I was really excited about working with him again but that’s when I thought it was a solo record.  It’s obviously complicated but she’s going to do what she wants to do, I think it’s very important for her to be releasing records and playing shows, she’s such a force.  But she just decided to do it this way which didn’t make sense to me as far as me participating.  As far as her lineup of backing musicians, no offense to them but I don’t consider them members of Hole.  I just consider them really great players that are supporting her and what she calls her band but I don’t know I mean she doesn’t have to get girls to play with her.  But the thing is about Hole which is confusing of course, is the legacy of Hole is a female dominated band in rock music, which is also why I thought it might be confusing if she were to start Hole without the original lineup.  She’s going to do what she’s going to do, no one can tell that woman and that’s part of also what I learned from her from being in her band.  She plows forward with what she believes in and you’ve got to let her do it.

How was the process of recording Celebrity Skin?  I know Billy Corgan helped out on the album.  I interviewed Eric Erlandson last month and he said that Billy only helped out on the album for a few weeks.  How was the process of making Celebrity Skin with all of those powerful personalities like Eric, Billy, and Courtney?

Billy really was only there for 2 weeks, but Billy can take some credit in co-writing.  He did co-write a couple of the big hits and amazing songs on that record but he was not there for the 2 year process which me, Eric, Courtney, and Patty were the only ones there laboring and writing and spending months and months at a time writing.  I was there for the creation of every song and I contributed, I feel, a lot.  In fact, what’s interesting about Billy is he came in basically to sort of fix up some songs and help Courtney with some final sort of visions of a few songs and he was a great great help, but Michael Beinhorn was ultimately more part of the big packaging and finishing of the songs and the vision of the sonic direction.  It was a laborious few years that is for sure, but it was great.  Once Michael Beinhorn stepped in that to me is when all the vision came together.  Prior to that, including even when Billy was there, it was just a bunch of demos, rough rough sketches, of songs.  Once Michael came in that’s when we really got down to what I really think makes that record so great.

Courtney has hinted a couple of times on Facebook and Twitter about possibly doing a summer tour with you as the opening act, were there ever any talks of this?

We definitely did have conversations, not so much about us touring together.  At the time when we were talking I don’t think it was Hole it was her solo thing.  She had a cool idea which who knows if it will ever happen; she is right in that we did talk about this idea of maybe curating a festival together.  So we’ll see what happens with that, but we did have an interesting talk about how fun it would be to create a touring rock circus all together who knows.

Were there any talks in 2007 about you touring with the Smashing Pumpkins on bass?  I remember you mentioning that you’d be happy to play some songs on stage with them, but nothing ever happened.

At that time I did go to Chicago to record a song with Billy for my record that ended up being musically not fitting for this record but I do have a really beautiful outtake of a song that we wrote and recorded together.  It was right at that time that he was playing with the idea of bringing it back together, we did have a brief conversation in Chicago about him maybe reaching out to James [Iha] and would I be interested and having a very light conversation about it where I said I’d consider it of course.  Then I guess he sort of went to a more of a focused him and Jimmy [Chamberlin] direction, which was his decision.  But there was a very brief moment while I was in the studio recording my song with him where we did discuss it, but we never talked about it again.

What do you think about Billy firing Jimmy last year and now continuing to use the Pumpkins name without any former members?

Again, similar to Courtney, I mean there’s a reason why people are fascinated by me having worked with these two very dominant personalities.  If there were ever bands with real dominant frontpeople, it’s those two people right, there’s no question.  A band like Led Zeppelin or even Nirvana for that matter, there’s some bands that are just more bands and then there’s other bands where the frontpeople are so strong and so massive in personality, obviously I guess they seem to have the final say.  So in some ways I’m not surprised that Courtney and Billy would go in this direction.  I have always been essentially, even though my identity and my love and my journey in music is entirely wrapped around the legacy of Hole and the Pumpkins, but in many ways remember I was an outsider that came in to replace two very said departures.  When Kristen died and when D’arcy left, those were very very sad moments for those bands and I came in in such an extreme replacement position that in some ways I think my participation was very emotional because of what it represented.  In other ways it was so intense that quite often I felt as if I was an outsider.  So in many ways, I feel like I can’t voice an opinion in terms of as a member of the band.  I mean I’ve obviously been a sort of honorary visiting member in those bands, so I’m very careful about making vague statements about the bandleader’s decisions.  For example with Hole I am the longest standing band member of Hole other than Eric and Courtney, so in that case I do feel a little more involved in its history, but on a legal level Courtney and Eric are the co-founders.  In the case of the Pumpkins I was basically a Pumpkins fan that got to live my dream for a moment so I have no right to make any judgment.  I will point out though that I think from what I remember legally Billy was the owner of the name.  I hope I’m not saying the wrong thing but I think it’s true, so if you’re just looking on a legal standpoint, not that music should be anything about law, believe me I’m not saying that should be the reason, but I believe that Billy is the founder, and ultimately that’s probably why he made his own decisions.  I don’t know the details about Jimmy leaving last year, I mean I was curious because Jimmy and Billy are such an intertwined musical force and it did surprise me.  I don’t know the details so I don’t know what happened and whether it was a bad thing good thing, I have no idea.  But I’m not surprised that Billy would continue with the vision.

What kind of pedals did you use during the recording sessions for Out Of Our Minds? Are those the same you use when you play live shows?

I don’t use many pedals with bass, I actually do not believe in pedals.  Basically the number one priority for bass is to sonically hold down the low end, and most pedals filter the low end and even if you just lose a couple of shades of the low end you lose out.  I don’t use any pedals live, there’s one Tech 21 flanger chorus pedal that I occasionally use for more instrumental or outro or more isolated parts when there isn’t a full band playing and there is a really great sansamp bass distortion pedal which if I have to use distortion on a moment of a song I would use that.  I basically rely on my ampeg bass gain knob to create all of the texture that I need, so ampeg is really what my sound is made of other than my Fender precision.  So on the record I used a bunch of pedals for my guitar parts because I do write a lot of the songs on guitar and I do most of the rhythm guitars on the whole record.  That’s a lot of chorus flangers and obviously distortion, pretty straightforward, but then it’s always the additional sort of keyboards and additional guitars where we really start tweaking out on pedals.

You’ve mentioned how thrilled you were to collaborate with Danzig, any other dream collaborations?

I mean it’s pretty insane at this point, since I fell in love with music and started my own band in the early 90’s I really have played with all of my heroes with the exception of Morrissey of the Smiths, but that’s the only sort of last standing dream but that one seems so out of this world, and so hard to reach that I might let that one just stay in the in theroial dream escape, but II mean having Danzig on my record really did sort of represent the final frontier of someone that made a lot of impact in my youth that I hoped to collaborate with.  I don’t know I’m actually looking to the future now, what I’m really looking for now in collaborations is new people that I’m not as familiar with and that are contemporaries of mine right now, so I’m looking for new blood.

The interview was conducted by AlternativeNation.net owner Brett Buchanan, who can be reached at grungereport @yahoo.com.  After the interview Melissa said she had seen part of my interview with Eric Erlandson and thanked me for giving him a place to give his perspective on Hole.

You can read AlternativeNation.net’s exclusive interviews with former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson, Scott Weiland’s ex-wife Mary Weiland, former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing, and more in the Interviews section. Also make sure to go to xmadmx.com.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Eric Erlandson, Former Hole Guitarist

Interview from April 14, 2010, reposting it since we moved to a new host and lost everything.

With Courtney Love’s resurrection of the Hole name and the upcoming release of Nobody’s Daughter, many fans have criticized Courtney’s use of the Hole name without founding member and former lead guitarist Eric Erlandson.  Erlandson was an integral member of Hole, he wrote the majority of the music on Hole’s albums in the 90’s.  In this interview Erlandson gives his in-depth thoughts on Courtney Love’s new Hole for the very first time.  Enjoy this interview with one of the most underrated guitarists of the 90’s!

What led to Hole’s 2002 break up? It seemed like with only three records there was so much more to accomplish.

Eric Erlandson:
Top Ten Reasons Why Bands Break Up:
1. Lead Singer Disease
2. Drugs
3. Lawsuits with the Record Company, and the band’s Fans
4. Unreasonable Foot-shooting
5. Boyfriend/Girlfriend Enablers
6. Bass player quits and joins the Smashing Pumpkins
7. Good ol’ fashioned Greed
8. Guitar Player wakes up, then falls back to sleep
9. Karpman Drama Triangle/victim abuser savior roles
10. Music industry bottom-feeders, Howard Stern, all of the above. Oh, and did I mention drugs?

No, but seriously…Courtney, with her boyfriend at the time, (who happened to be our A&R rep), decided to take on the evils of the corporate record industry and sued Geffen/Interscope. Geffen counter-sued for reneging on our contract. This all began in 1999 when Courtney called it quits in the middle of our Celebrity Skin tour, just when we began to have some success at radio and were finding our stride as a headlining live act. My name was on the Geffen contract, so I was drawn into the case. I helped negotiate a settlement in 2002. About the same time Courtney and I signed an agreement putting Hole to rest. In the agreement, she agreed that she would not use the name Hole commercially without my approval. She was intent on using her name at that point, figuring it had more value than the name Hole. To be fair, we had grown apart and chosen different paths. I had put so much energy into the band for over 10 years and I needed to spend time on myself. When Melissa left, I couldn’t put humpty dumpty back together again, no matter how hard I tried. All signs were pointing toward a split. It’s fitting now that the last song we released was a cover of “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” I wish we could’ve done more together. But I’m happy we went out on a high.

How difficult was it to go on with Hole in 1994 after Kristen Pfaff and Kurt Cobain’s tragic deaths? Did you ever consider calling it quits?

Eric: Everything felt gray. There was a moment when I entered that tunnel of despair and barely got out myself. Continuing with Hole was the last thing on my mind after so much tragedy. But “Live Through This”, which had just been released, had a life of its own, and propelled me onward. A subconscious mantra and presence. It really lived up to its name. And my relationship with Drew put much needed brightness back in my life.

How was it working with Billy Corgan on Celebrity Skin?  How much credit do you think he deserves for it?

Eric: I’ve never heard him say anything about it. I appreciate all his help and learned a lot from working those few days with him. His involvement was about 12 days total and the record took about a year and a half to complete. He didn’t produce it or executive produce it. He played bass on one song and helped write a few others. The amazing part was the fact that he, Courtney and I were able to work together at all. Courtney and I were in a personal relationship up until mid 1991. She immediately began dating Billy during the breakup. And then she jumped to Kurt a few months later. Somehow we were able to let go of the drama of the past and sit in a room together and create. A miracle.

What was your reaction to Courtney deciding to resurrect the Hole name? Also thoughts on her saying, “Hole is my band” and her rants about you on Twitter.

Eric: John Cage once said, “Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.” Well, what happened is that I was a co-founder and principal of the band Hole, end of story. I was disappointed when I first heard about her decision to use the name. But her management convinced me that it was all hot air and that she would never be able to finish her album. Now I’m left in an uncomfortable position. Bands have become nothing more than brands and the music suffers. Enjoy your Cheese Whiz kids. As for social networking rants: I really don’t take anything on Twitter or Facebook seriously. I’m so grateful to Courtney for all her slander. I’ve expiated boatloads of negative karma due to her loving influence in my life. But I’ll tellya, I must’ve been a bad, bad boy in previous existences.

How did you end up settling the issue over the name? Courtney mentioned there was a financial settlement of some sort.

Eric: We haven’t settled the issue. There’s been no financial settlement. I’m sure what she meant to say is that she hoped for a settlement in the future. But nothing’s happened yet. Courtney and her management continue to roll along with their plans to, in my opinion, ruin the Hole legacy, just for some cheap thrills. I wish they would learn from Billy and Axl and Aerosmith and the hundreds of other bands who’ve made the same mistake. But a paycheck is a paycheck. I know this will all pass.

How is your personal relationship with Courtney today?

Eric: I have no idea what it’s like to live a single day in her shoes. I try to focus on the beautiful, strong, courageous soul inside her and not get caught up in the debris of the outer shell. I hope someday she’ll be in a good place and be able to see our time together in a new light.

Have you seen any video footage of Courtney’s new Hole lineup? Do you think that they are doing the name justice? Also have you heard the new single Skinny Little Bitch?

Eric: I’m really disappointed with the musical direction she’s chosen since Celebrity Skin. If I was involved in her first solo project I would’ve had her doing a raw garage-rock rave up type album. To me, her new solo album sounds like a Celebrity Skin knockoff with the same style production, 10 years after the fact. What’s with so-called rock music these days? I’m sorry, but if your parents can stand it, it’s not rock. How many stale rock riffs played by ambiguous hacks can there be? Any magic that was a part of the Hole sound is gone. True, a lot of younger fans won’t be able to tell the difference. Compared to Disney rock this fake Hole stuff looks like the real deal. I had a fan telling me that it’s way better than Celebrity Skin. I beg to differ. Don’t be fooled by the high fructose corn syrup! And about those lyrics. I know Courtney can write good lyrics. It’s one of her strong points. But it’s 2010. Do we really need to hear a 45 year old woman screaming “Skinny Little Bitch?” Is that where we’re at now? I’m sad that after all her feminist posturing she’s reduced herself to a cartoon fronting an all male sycophant leather-clad backing band with top hats and Les Pauls. This is not what the real Hole was about. She’s turning more and more into an Axl like character. You become what you rebel against, I suppose. Or maybe it was always there and I was too blind to see it.

Do you see a real Hole reunion with you, Courtney, and Melissa ever happening after Courtney’s recent actions?

Eric: Courtney’s adamant about never doing a reunion. It won’t happen until she changes her mind and a few other things. Now that her album is being released as Hole, in my opinion, the legacy is ruined. I’m moving on.

What is your favorite Hole song?

Eric: I still enjoy playing Violet after all these years. 20 years in the Dakota brings back memories. I’m still a fan of our Pretty on the Inside album.

Any new bands you are currently digging, what have you been listening to a lot lately?

Eric: I like the energy of some new underground bands like Death Sentence Panda, Lucky Dragons, Abe Vigoda. Not listening to any one thing these days. A little new, a little old. Seeking out the gems that transcend this age of mediocrity.

A few years ago you were in a band called RRIICCEE with controversial writer/director Vincent Gallo, what led to your split with him and how did you enjoy being in RRIICCEE? Also, what’s with the name?

Eric: Rich Radical Illuminati Infidels Cryptically Controlling Eric Erlandson
I had a good time playing with Vincent. It was improvised music, no genre, no jamming, no old riffs, like composing live in front of an audience naked or wearing a dress. We fell apart at times, but when it all came together it was beautiful. I had to move on and learn to be my own leader, so to speak.

Any thoughts on Melissa auf der Maur’s new solo record? Would you consider playing a few shows with her?

Eric: I love Melissa’s new album and film. She’s a rare bird. And she has a top notch backing band live.

Are you working on any musical projects? I noticed recently that you were working on EricErlandson.com. I’d love to hear you do a solo album.

Eric: Yes, new musical projects in the works. My main focus now is a book I’ve written that will be released this year.

AlternativeNation.net Interview With Chad Channing, Former Nirvana Drummer

Interview from August 19, 2009, reposting it since we moved to a new host and lost everything.

GrungeReport.net’s second exclusive interview is here, and it is with former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing! Chad played with Nirvana from 1988 to 1990 and drummed on their legendary debut album Bleach in 1989 (which will be re-released soon), he also played the cymbal crash on “Polly” on Nevermind and his drumming was also heard on Incesticide.  He then left the band due to creative differences in 1990 and since then has played in several bands including Fire Ants (which included Mother Love Bone singer Andy Wood’s brothers Brian and Kevin), The Methodists, and most recently Before Cars, in which he is the main songwriter.  Before Cars debut album Walk Back is available for purchase on FloatationRecords.com.  You can check out some songs for free on the Before Cars MySpace page. Here is the interview, questions from me (Brett) are in bold, and the answers from Chad are regular.

Talk about Before Cars , your new band which originally started as a solo project before you brought in the other members to the band. Did you ever see yourself becoming a songwriter in the early days of your career with Nirvana? Who are some of your songwriting influences?

Chad Channing: Well I’ve always been a song writer. And I wrote songs for every band I’ve ever played in with exception of Nirvana. I always wanted to write with Nirvana and see if it might have worked or not. Just never got the opportunity. I spent a lot of time in other bands.  But things never seemed to work out.  I guess that’s what finally lead me to start my own project.

One day I took a bunch of songs to my friends Andy Miller and Paul Burback and we 4-tracked 11-12 songs than chose 5 of them to make a demo. We hit the studio along with Paul’s wife Justine Jeanotte who plays violin and recorded the demo. During that time I came up with the name “Before Cars”. A lot of my influences are early 70’s-80’s stuff like David Bowie & Elvis Costello, just to name a few.

I was listening to some tracks off of Walk Back and I love how it really sounds like it could come out of any decade, the production and music has the type of sound that most overproduced bands today lack, it has a classic sound to it. “That’s My Guess” and “Juniper” both have a very alternative vibe to them, they would have definitely fit in the Nirvana catalog if you had a chance to write to write with Nirvana. “Bunnies” has a classic 70s rock vibe to it, while “Doll in Time” has a timeless ballad feel. The vocals add a pop sensibility to the songs. Do you see yourself continuing with writing songs like this on your next record or do you want to experiment with some different genres?

Chad: This record has allot of pop/rock stuff going on with some exceptions like “Doll In Time” and “Old Chair”. These for-mentioned songs are more in line to where Before Cars is headed far as the next record goes. It will have allot more acoustic stuff going on. And probably some experimentation with some keyboard stuff as well as more stuff for the violin. I may even mess around with some electronic beats and stuff. Not really sure at this point. And who knows what a 3rd record might end up like at this point, heheh.

If a major band asked you to become their new drummer, would you join? I’m talking good bands here, not Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance.

Chad: If I had nothing going on at all I might consider it. But since I’ve got Before Cars. I wouldn’t drop it for anything 🙂

As everybody knows Nirvana’s first album Bleach, featuring you as the drummer, is being re-released. What are your thoughts on the rerelease and the popularity Bleach has gained in recent years?

Chad: I must admit it’s kinda cool that record still holds interest to some people. Back in 89, I wouldn’t have guessed that record would still be selling today. And I’m actually very curious about the re-release. I’m guessing there will be extra tracks. Not sure what they might be though.

When you were making Bleach did you ever think Nirvana would become the huge band it became?

Chad: I thought that we would garner some decent underground attention or whatever with that record. And I always knew Nirvana had the potential.  But didn’t expect things to get as big as they did.

What is your favorite song on Bleach?

Chad: For me “Swap Meet” has always been one of my favorites of that record.

Who are some of your favorite modern bands out there today?

Chad: Favorite bands today are Portishead, GO!GO!7188, Amon Amarth & M.I.A…just to name a few 🙂

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I love to golf!  Though I’m not very good.  Never shot better than a 99.  And have no idea what my handicap is, heh.  Big fan of anime as well.  Though it’s been a slow process converting my favorites from VHS to DVD 🙂

Do you keep in touch with Krist Novoselic?

Chad: Not on a regular basis but we do see each other once in awhile.  Mostly when he’s in town playing.

You played in a couple of bands with Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd in the 80s, how was it playing with Ben?

Chad: Playing with Ben was cool.  Always a crazy time 🙂 Our first band was Mind Circus.  Pretty heavy stuff.  Then he later sang for The Magnet Men which then became know as Tic-Dolly-Row when he joined.

What are some of your goals to accomplish in the music industry before you retire?

Chad: I will always be a song writer.  And I’d like to see how far Before Cars can go. Know idea what will happen, but it’s sure fun to try!  It would also be nice to eventually just be a song writer and see other groups playing stuff I wrote.  I think I’d get a kick outta that!

When Nirvana get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday would you consider going up on stage and playing one of the songs from Bleach with Krist and somebody else, or do you think that it would be disrespectful to Kurt?

Chad: I don’t think we could do a Nirvana song with out Kurt.  Just wouldn’t feel the same.  Not all that sure they’d invite me for the stage presentation anyways, lol.

Thank you to Chad Channing for taking part in this exclusive interview with GrungeReport.net!  Check out Chad’s band Before Cars’ debut album today and watch them perform at the Kurt Cobain Memorial Show in Aberdeen, Washington on October 17th with Candlebox!