Kevin Young of Disciple

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Disciple, one of Christian rock’s great mainstays has been on an extensive touring schedule going back to back on two major headlining tours and the summer festival circuit. Francis had a chance to talk with Kevin Young, vocalist and bassist of the group via E-mail while on the road for their most recent venture, The Southern Hospitality tour alongside Spoken, The Wedding and High Flight Society.

Francis Petruziello: I understand you guys had an extensive touring schedule this year with the long-pressed Scars Remain and the annual summer festivals and now you’re on The Southern Hospitality tour with Spoken, The Wedding and High FlightSociety, what were the similarities and differences of those treks on the road?
Kevin Young: The tours and the shows were actually very similar. The biggest difference was the bands that we were on tour with. We’ve been very fortunate to have such great and awesome bands come out on the road with us. And they all have their distinct and different personalities which have made the last tours very memorable in a positive way.

F.P.: Will you guys be performing any upcoming material prepared for a future Disciple album or will it be a continuation of Scars Remain?
K.Y.: We’ve just started working on new material. So we’re not at the point of performing any of it yet. But hopefully we will be very soon.

F.P.: How have the fans reacted toward each set?
K.Y.: As far as I know, it has been a great reaction. We have some of the best fans in the world. And that makes it a lot of fun when we are performing. I honestly sometimes just sit back and watch them. One of the greatest compliments someone could ever give any of us in Disciple is to just come to the show and sing the songs with us. It doesn’t get much better when I see a fan that is excited to be there and they are singing every lyric to every song. It’s a great feeling.

F.P.: What was it like this summer and is it different performing on a larger spectrum than what you’re doing recently on the smaller stage for this tour?
K.Y.: I know this may sound like a cliche’, but I do my best to treat every show the same whether we are in front of 20 people or 20,000. If someone pays to come and see us, then I have no intentions of ripping them off. They will get 100% out of me.

F.P.: What’s it like with Spoken, The Wedding and High Flight Society?
K.Y.: We’ve been friends with Spoken for a long time. And honestly, it truly is honor to call those guys friends. They are great in every way. I am just another fan when Spoken is on the stage. The Wedding was a blast. They are the same on and off the stage. They really are a bunch of fun guys and a great live band. It was great getting to know High Flight Society. Their singer is one of the best singers I have ever heard, and the band is just as good. You can really see Jesus in their lives, and that’s probably the greatest compliment I could give them.

F.P.: Any interesting road stories you care to share with our readers?
K.Y.: Bands are usually infamous for the last night of the tour…Prank Night. During High Flight Society’s set we put a whole bunch of flowers and greenery from the church on stage with them. There were probably 30 pots of huge shrubbery all around the stage while they played. It was pretty funny. During The Wedding’s set we got a little crazy. I can’t remember who was involved, but me and three other guys had a chicken fight in the middle of their set. I think their singer got thrown off the stage at one point, and they took the drummers drums off the stage one at a time while the band was still playing. During Spoken’s set the drummer for The Wedding had an idea. He wanted to take their whole merchandise table on stage while they were playing. So he and I took it up there. Matt Baird (singer) actually got on the merchandise table and started performing. Then in between songs they started selling their merchandise. It was hilarious! Matt dragged me on the table with him and I sang background vocals with him. I started having a good time so I just stayed up there with him for the next two or three songs. He started laughing because I wouldn’t leave. I guess he shouldn’t have dragged me up there. Then Matt had everybody in the crowd turn around and face the back wall for an entire Spoken song!! I thought for sure that someone would turn around in the middle of the song and then other people would follow. Nope! Everybody stayed facing the back wall the entire song. I laughed until I couldn’t laugh anymore. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

F.P.: What do you do to keep sane from your busy schedule during your down time from performing?
K.Y.: I really am a big nerd. I love to read. For some reason, getting to just be by myself with a book really helps even things out; especially if we are having to be around a lot of people the rest of the time.

F.P.: Do you believe that you’re shows or albums is a form of music ministry or just your own perspective of sharing your faith with your devoted fan base?
K.Y.: I would say both. I have always looked at Disciple as a ministry. I want nothing more than for God to use our music to touch people’s lives. I also write songs about my personal experiences with my faith and other issues. Those songs are really easy for people to relate to when they are going through some of the same things.

F.P.: What are your thoughts about the rise in Christian music; especially your brand of hard rock as it’s becoming more popular?
K.Y.: Well, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. I have loved Christian Rock music for a long time. I guess you could say before it was cool. So I’m glad to see that people are being more open minded to it. But you have to give the bands a lot of credit as well. There really are some great bands out there right now. And we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to play with a lot of them.

F.P.: What are Disciple’s plans for 2008?
K.Y.: 2008 is going to be a great year. We are going on tour with Superchik March through May. We are going into the studio some time in June hopefully. We also are looking forward to playing shows with our new players. Brad (Noah) has retired from playing on the road, but he is still going to be a huge part of the writing and recording process. The new players in the band are Nathan Ehman (guitar), formerly of Kids In The Way. IsraelBeechy (bass), formerly of Staple. And Andrew Welch (guitar), formerly of After Eight. They are amazing guys and I’m really looking forward to recording the next album and playing more shows with them.

F.P.: Any plans to put out a live album?
K.Y.: Not as of right now.

F.P.: If you didn’t pursue a career as a musician, what would you be doing today?
K.Y.: Again, not to sound like a cliche’, but this answer is the same one that I give my wife. Whatever God wants me to do, I hope that’s what I’m doing.

F.P.: Do you have anything to say to someone who wishes to pursue a career as a musician?
K.Y.: Well…it’s better to do what you love or what you are called to do and be starving then to be rich and be miserable.

Kory Kent of Nocturnal Solace and Ghost of Antigone

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From his days with heavy metal acts like Lost Soul and Nocturnal Solace to his classically-influenced Ghost of Antigone project, Kory Kent has been in and around the scene for the last decade. LarryMac had the opportunity to discuss his current projects as well as his future plans.

Photos Courtesy of Kory Kent

LarryMac: The Ghost of Antigone material is certainly a departure from your work in Nocturnal Solace; how was the response? Did you get any negative feedback from NS fans?
Kory Kent: It’s been a pleasant surprise. People actually like the CD, including Nocturnal Solace fans. Because of the stylistic difference between the two, I’d never expected that. Maybe those that don’t like the album are keeping quiet, I don’t know. Although, for those who remember when Antigone was just me messing around with pianos in high school and college practice rooms back in the early ‘90s, the finished album was a long time coming for them.

LM: Did you make an effort to keep the two projects divorced from each other?
KK: I don’t think in my situation that anything can be completely “divorced”, whether I make the attempt or not. Musically, they are two different projects, with two different approaches, two different means, and two different purposes. Nocturnal Solace can punch you in the mouth while Antigone can sneak up quietly behind you. Despite that, I still think anyone can notice a few similarities between the two, regardless of the differences. It just comes with the territory when any musician plays in more than one band.

LM: And you’re already working on a follow up, right? How’s that coming?
KK: Yes. Right now, I’m just in the beginning phases, experimenting with wiring, sound, and tones. As anyone in Nocturnal Solace can tell you, I am by no means technologically inclined so it’s been trial and error all the way. I just want to get that part done and over with so I can concentrate on the music and allow the songs to come to life. I guess I’m just impatient, but you’ll have that. At the same time though, I want to do this right so I don’t have to do it over.

LM: Stylistically, is it going to be in the same vein as Sedate the Madman?
KK: No. The instrumentation will generally be the same, but the similarities are going to end there. To me, Sedate the Madman froze a time period of where my mind was at back when I wrote the material. The next album is going to do the same with a different period of time; but whereas Sedate the Madman was more of a pretty album, the next one I imagine will be a little uglier and more intense. That’s really the best way I can describe it right now.

LM: You played most, if not all, of the instruments on Sedate the Madman. How goes the search for a lineup to play the material live?
KK: It’s not. I did try actively to search for band mates this past year and managed to hold a handful of practice sessions, but I’ve never been able to form a full-fledged band. So for right now, the search is on hold while I focus on the new album. I would still love to have a band, so if you’re reading this and want to play, contact me!

LM: You’re also planning on shooting some videos for some of the tracks on Sedate the Madman, right?
KK: Yes.

LM: What was the reason for deciding to shoot videos for the Sedate the Madman material so far removed from its release, especially with a follow up disc already in the works?
KK: Music videos were something I’ve always wanted to do; but it wasn’t a high priority and I didn’t know of anyone who would be willing to help. That was before Rhio, from Nightmare Pictures, and I were talking about ideas for future projects when the subject of music videos came up last month, so we’re running with it. Yeah, the timing isn’t the music industry norm; but simply put, Antigone is an independent entity that isn’t being pushed around by the recording industry, so I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want, whenever I want.

LM: As if you didn’t have enough on your plate, you’re also involved with The Rising Dead, the first effort from Nightmare Pictures. Tell us a bit about that.
KK: I was asked to act in their first movie. I’ve never done any acting before, but I’m playing the role of a front man for a metal band, so it’s not really a total stretch for me. At first, I was kind of hesitant about the whole thing, but the more I got involved with it, the more fun it became. I’m really proud of how Nightmare Pictures are doing and how they’ve picked up momentum within the last year. I can’t wait to see how the whole thing turns out. Plus, Nocturnal Solace and The Ghost of Antigone will appear on the soundtrack.

LM: Any other projects that we don’t know about or that I’ve missed?
KK: Not recently. I did play keyboards for Norselaw’s Macabre Skies recording awhile back, and temporarily filled in bass guitar for Vatic Asylum when they were playing out a few years ago in Akron and Kent, but nothing extra since then. I bought a house out by Mohican State Park halfway between Cleveland and Columbus, so I haven’t been out much anymore. I’ve kind of inadvertently developed my own cocoon, isolated from the rest of the world.

LM: With all of these projects going on, how do you unwind? How do you step back into your self-confessed cocoon?
KK: A lot of my leisure time is spent at home now. I chop firewood out in the backyard, I keep the wood burning stove fired up for the winter, I take care of the house and work on projects here and there, read, spend time with family, stuff like that. For a long time, I’ve wanted to live out in the country so I worked my ass off to get me a place out here. I’ve been finding it hard to leave and go out like I used to. I’m more relaxed now; it seems like this place calms my soul. I never have trouble sleeping. I can also play music at 2:15am on a Tuesday night without worrying about waking any neighbors.

LM: Okay, the stage is yours. Any parting words?
KK: Well, I want to thank you for your ongoing support, Larry. There are many others over the years that have pushed me to pursue Antigone, and they can take credit for helping to bring it as far as it is right now. But if this is to go any further, I can’t do it all alone. I’m looking for anyone willing to help in any way; whether it’s playing in the live band, managing the business end of things, designing logos and album covers, promoting, anything.

As for the many of you who have no idea who the hell I am, feel free to check everything out. There are sound clips and contact information on Sedate the Madman CDs are also available on the website, where you can order online by credit card or mail a check to a PO Box.

I’m not giving up, and I’m not going away. There isn’t anybody out there that’s doing what I’m doing, and I want to continue doing music the way it should be: Independently.

Elliott Ecton of Signum

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Signum has proven to Silent Majority Group that they have what it takes to take the stage with the big dogs. Just recently signed to a label that includes others such as Tantric, Candlebox, Course of Nature, and Framing Hanley; Scottydawg had the opportunity to speak with Elliott Ecton, lead guitarist of Signum.

Photos Courtesy of Signum

Scottydawg: Thanks for the interview, Elliott. Now Signum has been around for a few years and just recently signed with Silent Majority Group. Can you give me a little background about the band and how it was formed?
Elliott Ecton: Signum has been around for about a year and a half. The singer (David Ruyle) and I started the band about a few years ago right out of high school; and we had a different drummer. Things just didn’t work out so we got rid of the drummer, started looking for a new one, and we got David Lyon, who’s a best friend. Our bass player (Billy Faulconer) actually lives right down the road from me. So that’s who we are now. We started playing gigs around April of last year.

SD: With being a band that’s only been around for a short time, how did you hook up with Silent Majority Group?
EE: We actually made a connection with Brett Hestla (frontman of Dark New Day) on Myspace, who produced our album. We were scheduled to go down to Florida to record with him. We didn’t have any plans on getting signed when we went down. We were just going to release our own album ourselves. So we went and recorded what we had with him and he handed it to Jeff (Hanson, President of SMG), who’s good friends with him because of Creed. Jeff liked what he heard. He called my cell phone, flew us down there, and now we are where we are.

SD: When you recorded, was it a full-length album or just a demo at the time?
EE: No, we did a full album by ourselves down there.

SD: Is there a single out on the air as of yet?
EE: Not yet. Last time I heard and don’t mark my words, they were thinking about doing radio right around March of next year.

SD: Rumor has it that you plan to have the album released in the spring of 2008. Any ideas of a tour to promote the album?
EE: No, everything is kinda up in the air right now. I just know that whenever we release our radio single, that’s when they’re going to send us out. I’m not sure who it’s going to be with. I just know a national tour and it’s gonna be good times.

SD: What would be some of the bands you would like to tour with?
EE: Man, there’s a bunch of bands. I’d like to go out with Dark New Day because Brett produced our album. That would be pretty cool. Man I like everything. I’d like to go out with Breaking Benjamin, Nickelback; they get some large audiences. I’d be happy with just about anybody.

SD: Of all the songs that you have recorded, what one would you choose to put out as a single?
EE: Yeah, we’ve actually been discussing that here in the last couple weeks. It’s not set in stone, but they’re talking about “Walls That Fall”; and we have a song called “Down” and a song called “Before I Break”. There are several possibilities for singles off the album.

SD: Is this something you guys have a say so in or does the label and management make the decision in regards to the radio single?
EE: It’s pretty cool. SMG is really cool about us having our say. It’s kinda different from other labels, from what I know of. They actually care about what the artists think.

SD: When you initially went to Florida to record, did you think it would go this far?
EE: I’ve always had a feeling something would happen on this album. I didn’t necessarily think it would happen this quick. So I thought we would get this album done and shop it ourselves. But Brett put the leg work out there so thank you, Brett.

SD: Now granted, Silent Majority Group has a lot of good bands under them; but with them being so new, were you hesitant about the possibility of signing?
EE: Not at all. Jeff Hanson and Brett Hestla; their names speak for themselves. Whenever I first started playing guitar, anybody that’s anybody like Creed, Sevendust, and all that; he’s had his hands in. So I didn’t have any reservations at all.

SD: I know you just became signed and this is probably premature, but what are your ultimate goals for Signum down the line?
EE: Arena tours would be the ultimate goal. Traveling overseas; people coming to our shows over there, that would be an ultimate goal. As long as we’re successful.

SD: How comfortable do you think everyone in the band is with going that far? I know there are a lot of sacrifices to be made. Is everyone ready for the plunge and being away from family for months at a time?
EE: We’re a hundred percent ready so there’s nothing holding us back.

SD: How do you guys come together to write the music?
EE: Usually the lyrics just deal with something that one of us is going through. Like “Walls That Fall” is about trying to solve your problems with things that only create more problems. As far as the music side goes, I’ve always been a fan of the heavy stuff, but more melodic; things like that.

SD: I’ve noticed that about your music. “Walls That Fall” is a little more heavier and then you have “Down”, which is a more softer metal song. Give me a little insight about “Down”.
EE: Our singer actually wrote the chorus to that song. It was a pretty tough time in his life and I think that just kinda made it to a softer song. We actually wrote that song in the studio.

SD: How long were you down in Florida recording?
EE: We went down there and recorded the album in two weeks. Eleven tracks. Long days, about fourteen or fifteen hour days. It wasn’t a vacation. We had fun, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t going to the beach or going to the malls. We’d go to the studio at six in the evening and leave about seven or eight in the morning; and then go to sleep and wake up to do it all over again.

SD: Once you recorded the album, how long was it before you were signed?
EE: We got back in town around the fourth of July and I got a call the end of September or early October. That’s when Jeff initially called me. We signed October 24th.

SD: And you’re a huge supporter of unsigned bands?
EE: Oh definitely. Everybody starts there.

SD: Any unsigned bands in particular that you might want to bring up with you guys possibly in the future?
EE: Definitely. Wichita has a lot of talent and unfortunately it’s looked over because it’s Wichita, Kansas. There’s not one particular band that I’m gonna mention but anybody from Wichita that has talent, I would love to help out.

SD: Are you playing any local shows in your area at this time?
EE: We are actually working on a New Year’s Eve show. That’s all we got lined up. We’re kinda taking a break and getting our stage show up to where we can play with the big dogs.

SD: Yeah I was looking at your personal Myspace; what’s up with trying to bring out Will Ferrell on tour? (laughs)
EE: (laughs) The whole band is big fans of his. We’re kinda nerds in that respect (laughs). Whenever we’re just hanging around, pretty much of all our conversations revolve around that from Anchorman to Talladega Nights. Actually the CD intro for our set is a bunch of Will Ferrell quotes from Talladega Nights. So if you’re reading this, Will Ferrell, give me a call (laughs).

SD: And lastly, do you have a name for the debut album?
EE: Yes, actually have. It’s called Sounds Like Morphine.

SD: Perfect name; music is a drug. Your Myspace is Well I’m looking forward to your progress in 2008 with a single on the radio, upcoming album, and a future tour. Keep me posted on any future news with Signum. Thanks once again, Elliott.
EE: Sounds good. Anytime.

Nixon of Framing Hanley

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While on their way to a show at Peabody’s tonight in Cleveland, Nixon, vocalist of Framing Hanley, gave Scottydawg a call to talk about their album, “The Moment”, and their recent success in the music industry. Great bunch of guys that haven’t forgotten where they came from and striving for the future.

Photos Courtesy of Framing Hanley

Scottydawg : Hey, Nixon. Thanks for the call today. You guys are on your way to Cleveland to play at Peabody’s with Evans Blue tonight. Ever been to Cleveland before?
Nixon: I have family that lives up in Cleveland but I’ve never played there before.

SD: Can you give me a little background about Framing Hanley, such as when the band was formed and the origin of the name?
Nixon: Some of us were together in a previous band, just jammin’ together for about a year or year and a half. Then we started working with Brett Hestla, who is the lead singer of Dark New Day, on a couple songs. In November of 2006, we did a few songs, “Hear Me Now” and “Wave Goodbye”, which ended up getting put into the right hands with Jeff Hanson who was starting a new label and we kinda went through a lineup change in January of 2007. With the exception of those two songs, we wrote the entire record in about three to four weeks. As far as the name, our drummer’s fiancé, Ashley Hanley, obviously she was very close to the band, she passed away in a car accident. She took pictures and stuff for the band.

SD: That’s very tragic and sorry to hear about the loss. Now you guys are fairly new as well as being so young. What’s the age range of the band?
Nixon: The oldest member of the band is one of our guitar players, Brandon, who is 23. I’m 22. Luke, our bass player, and Chris, our drummer; are both 21. And Tim, our other guitarist, is 18.

SD: Framing Hanley is signed with Silent Majority Group. How did you guys come to sign with the label?
Nixon: Brett Hestla, the guy we worked with as far as producing those two songs and then eventually the entire record, was close friends with Jeff Hanson, who was the touring bass player for Creed. Jeff, like I said, was starting a new label called Silent Majority Group and him and Brett were talking one day. Brett said “I want you to check these guys out” and played “Hear Me Now” and a couple hours later I got a phone call. Jeff was up at our show that night in Nashville, Tennessee seeing us play. It’s a trip. It’s all been gravy.

SD: I’m extremely impressed with you all being so young and being so new. What do you think has attributed to your fast growing success?
Nixon: It really took awhile for us to find our sound. That’s really the case with a lot of bands, I think. Like if you listen to a lot of demos from bands before they were signed, there’s always something pretty much different about it. But working with Brett, he really opened our eyes as far as what we could do musically. That just really helped us as far as songwriting. We then realized what we could do and we didn’t want to sell ourselves short so we just started writing and writing and writing. We were in a band before this for a year and a half and had maybe written six or seven songs in that whole time. Now we wrote nine songs in three to four weeks. It took that one last element to see what we could do as far as songwriters and it was definitely the link we needed in the band.

SD: Your single, “Hear Me Now” – where did the lyrics come from?
Nixon: The song itself is about growing up and you’re kinda told all these things; you’re told what to see, what is right, what isn’t right; that song is really about looking for those answers yourself.

SD: As you were being signed, did you experience any problems with the label or people telling you that you needed to change certain things with your music?
Nixon: No, that’s something definitely that made us finally decide on Silent Majority Group and we thought it would be the right step up. It’s kinda like they were taking a chance on a new band and we were taking a chance on a new label. I think I speak for both parties involved that it was definitely for the best because they gave us one hundred percent creative control and they believed in us; I mean they only heard a couple songs from us and put that faith in us. That’s definitely something that’s important to us in our career is not being told what we have to do. So Silent Majority Group does not do that and that’s definitely one of the selling points of that label. We’re very happy on that label because of that.

SD: You’re on a good label with Candlebox and Course of Nature.
Nixon: Yeah, and Tantric also. It’s weird, like I said, because when we first signed with them it was a brand new label so now it’s kinda like we’re watching all these bands that we were listening to years ago that we grew up with; getting signed to the same label. It’s not only weird, but flattering.

SD: Thinking back when you first started, did you ever think the success would come this quickly?
Nixon: Everything happened so fast for us but at the same time we paid our dues. Like I said, we had been in bands for a few years and I know there are plenty of musicians out there that are more gifted and talented that will never be given an opportunity like we’ve been given. So I’m definitely grateful for that. I also feel like we busted our ass to get where we are. I mean everything did happen so fast; we had a single on the radio on the top 40 before we had three songs written in the band. So now it’s at the point where it’s the end of the year and we’re looking back at the past year; we’re kinda in awe about all the things, like what’s next?

SD: Congratulations on your first album, The Moment, that was just released this year. With that being your first record, have you learned anything from it that you might want to change or incorporate into your next album?
Nixon: Well every song on The Moment is a song that means something to us; whether it be as a band as a whole or individually. There’s not any filler songs, every song has a special meaning; so as far as the next CD, I would be lying if I said that I wanted to go into the studio very soon to record because if we do that, it’s not a good sign for our first CD. But at the same time, I’m very excited right now. We’re going home actually at the end of this tour. We’re going in and laying down some rough tracks in our little home studio that we have, just because we’ve been writing so much more.

SD: So after this tour with Evans Blue, you guys are going back home; what’s the next step after the break?
Nixon: Umm, really we’re just going home, man. Probably going to spend time with the family and everything because we’ve been out pretty much nonstop since July, but then actually going into our home studio and laying down some tracks to keep ‘em fresh. We probably got four or five new songs that we’ve written while on the road that we’re really excited about. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go into the studio anytime soon to record our next album because of how good this album is doing, but I mean we’re really excited about the new material we’re writing. I think it’s gonna be a step up from our first record. Hopefully that’ll be at least another year away though.

SD: What did you first think when you heard your song being playing on the radio?
Nixon: Aw, dude, it was crazy. First off, Chris, our drummer, called me one night and was like “they just played our ‘Hear Me Now’ song on the radio” and I was like “no they didn’t”. So that night was a crazy night because we were still in contract negotiations with Silent Majority Group. Well I didn’t hear our song on the radio until we were down in Orlando recording the rest of the record and that was even crazier. It’s one thing to hear it in our own town but to hear it hundreds and hundreds of miles away from your home and you’re down in Orlando recording your record, it’s pretty crazy.

SD: I’m a huge fan of Octane, which is where I first heard your music.
Nixon: Sirius has been a freakin’ huge, huge support for us. Actually for the year I think we ended up being top three monthly artist on Octane. It’s been crazy. We love those guys and girl (laughs).

SD: Now Framing Hanley is still new and fresh out the box. You guys are young and have a lot going for ya. Where do you see the band at in the future?
Nixon: It’s so weird because where we’re at now in comparison to where we were at then, we’re like hundreds and hundreds of steps forward in progress where we were a year ago. But at the same time, it’s still weird knowing that there are people that haven’t even heard of us yet. Like every night on tour we have people coming up to us like you guys were great and this was the first time I ever heard you guys. That’s always like a great feeling knowing that we’re still making new fans. That really gives you confidence. All I can say, man, is what we’ve accomplished so far I’m very happy with. We’re five dudes that love music and got lucky pretty much, that’s what I tell everybody. I mean that’s exactly what it is to get us where we’re at right now: the right person heard our music. I’m very happy with the music that we write and I take pride in the music that we write. I can only hope things get better. I just hope the fans know that we’re thankful for everyone of them.

SD: What would be some of the advice you would give to local bands that are just starting out?
Nixon: There are bands in Nashville, man, that are just as good as some national bands that I hear everyday on the radio. That’s not taking away from any band on the radio but it just speaks of the volume of the many bands that are talented that just aren’t heard on the radio right now. A band in particular, Return to Self, they’re good friends of ours out of Nashville; we looked up to those guys. They were always the band in Nashville that inspired us to bring ourselves up to that level. They are one of the many bands in Nashville that we are trying to bring with us. There is just so much unknown talent out there, especially in Nashville and every other city.

SD: Well, Nixon, thanks for taking the time out to give me a call today. Once again, your album, The Moment, is in stores. Your website is And kick some ass tonight at Peabody’s.
Nixon: Thank you. You have a good one.

Jessica Vale

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Domain Cleveland’s Francis Petruziello had a chance to talk with Jessica Vale via E-mail as she was on her most recent U.S. tour. It was an interesting conversation about her latest album, ‘Brand New Disease’ and her new tour.

Jessica Vale
Photos Courtesy of Big Machine Media

Francis Petruziello: How is your latest album, Brand New Disease, different from your debut effort, The Sex Album?
Jessica Vale: The biggest difference is that we used real instruments to record it. The Sex Album was entirely processed and manipulated in a computer. That worked well for that album but it created issues for live shows. I never wanted to be an act that gets up on stage and essentially does karaoke over a laptop. We started re-interpreting The Sex Album material with the live band and fell back in love with the energy a band creates. Brand New Disease has electronic elements but it’s only a small percentage of the sound.

F.P.: What was your inspiration for writing the songs for this disc?
J.V.: Each song is different. Some of the more literal ones are…”Exit 12″ is loosely inspired from an exit off the Penn. turnpike near Pittsburgh. I don’t think it’s actually #12 though. I love road trips, truck stops and Americana. Who needs the beach when you can have drive thru strip clubs? The video was shot out there as well. “Night in Sarajevo” was inspired by Sarajevo, of course, but the post-war Sarajevo of years ago. Today it’s an incredible city.

F.P.: Did you pull influences from past gothic artists such as Bauhaus or Siouxsie and the Banshees and the like to create your sound or do you find what you do as something more original than the forefathers of the goth scene?
J.V.: We weren’t really influenced much at all by the goth scene. It’s funny, because I do get compared to Siouxsie all the time, yet I don’t own a single album. What’s she’s done is incredible though, don’t get me wrong. Nothing but respect for her. There are very few women in music who make raw dark pop. We are a rare breed, I guess.
Ivan Evangelista co-produces everything with me and also plays guitar. We both come from rock and even hardcore backgrounds. I also take a lot of influence from film. David Lynch has had a huge impact on my music. I also have a film background so I think many of my songs are written to be soundtracks to a film I haven’t made yet.

F.P.: Do you consider it a compliment or more of a detraction when writers and others in the music business compare you to the previous groups mentioned?
J.V.: It’s a compliment because what Siouxsie has done in the music industry is incredible. It’s just tough because I was never that familiar with her music in the first place. When you are a woman doing darker music, there are few artists to compare; Concrete Blonde, PJ Harvey, Curve. Let’s not forget about them.
Vocally I feel way more influenced by Lou Reed and Nico, as surprising as that may be.

F.P.: I understand you’re recently on tour and how is that going for you?
J.V.: It’s great. I am having a blast. We just added some West Coast dates for January. This has been more of a mini-tour. I hope to do a full one in the spring/summer. Playing in Europe is also on the horizon.

F.P.: Any interesting road stories you care to share with our readers?
J.V.: The weirdest gig so far was the Darkstar Festival in Stamford CT: 3 nights of what I like to call Karaoke DJs. Singers who get up on a huge stage with a guy behind them who presses play on a laptop, or close to it. Now I love this music when it’s spun in a club or when it’s on a record. But to claim it’s a “live performance…?” Then there was me and my band; my band with a full drum kit, bass, guitar and all the amps. And we are really, really loud. Ivan likes to lay into his guitar with so much distortion and feedback, the P.A. couldn’t even handle it. When we first got on stage some people in the crowd were looking at me like we were from Mars. I got a lot of compliments from people who were happy to see someone play with a real band, and that was nice.

F.P.: Who influenced you when it pertains to the musical spectrum?
J.V.: I think I’ve already said a bunch about this, but it would be Lou Reed and Nico. And Bowie for sure.

F.P.: Have you had a chance to tour with those whom had influenced your musical creativity or are there any artist’s you would love to go out on tour with or collaborate on an album?
J.V.: My dream would be to open for David Bowie or collaborate with him. That man is a genius.

F.P.: What do you think about the gothic scene in the 21st century as opposed to when it all started more than 30 years ago?
J.V.: Well, I haven’t seen much of it. I hear stories about the Golden Age of goth in London and New York, when there were actually bands. Now it’s all Karaoke DJ hour. And it all sounds the same because they all use the same 5 notes with the same 5 plug ins. My fan base crosses a lot of different scenes. I hope that if the Goths like my music maybe it will shoot some life into a very bland scene. When you perform your songs to a computer you get the same sound every time. That’s boring and it’s contributing the goth scene dying. Who needs to leave their house for that?

F.P.: Do you feel there is a role for women in the genre of music you’ve chosen to compose and sing?
J.V.: Absolutely. There’s a role for women in everything. You need strong women these days in music. Not rehab-bound whiney ones. It seems like the only choices are either fabricated pop stars who get reality T.V. shows or drug addicted messes who tell the whole world about it. It’s a pretty sad state, and really boring.

F.P.: What do we expect from Jessica Vale in 2008?
J.V.: Well, I am starting off the year on an aide mission to Africa. I will be filming it for the organization doing it. After that, a bigger and longer tour. Some new music videos and maybe even a special release jazz-noir EP I’ve been sitting on. It will all be listed on my Web site –

F.P.: Do you feel that there is a need for your brand of music in the world of rock or just something to add to the mix?
J.V.: I think the music world could use a strong female with attitude, absolutely. There’s very little edge in music anymore.

F.P.: What would you like to say to any of your fans who are reading this interview?
J.V.:Of course that I love them dearly and they better be at my next show!

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