• Sometimes The World Ain't Enough - THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:11

    I've said it before elsewhere and I'll say it again here. If the members of THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA were a group of fashionably dressed Brooklyn indie-rock hipsters in their twenties, the group would be one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. I have zero doubt that the band would be a main draw on the main stages of music festivals such as Coachella and The Governors Ball, with appearances on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and "Saturday Night Live" in between. But instead, since the cornerstones of the band are members of Swedish heavy metal legacy acts in their forties, we'll have to settle for THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA quietly churning out some of the purest fun rock records on the planet. For those of you that are new to THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA, the group started as a fun side project for SOILWORK vocalist Bjorn "Speed" Strid and then-touring guitarist David Andersson – soon joined by bassist Sharlee D'Angelo (ARCH ENEMY/WITCHERY) – to indulge in a love for the catchiest corners of the 1970's rock spectrum. Whereas the majority of acts looking to the '70s search for inspiration in the earlier part of the decade – GRETA VAN FLEET's mining of LED ZEPPELIN's songbook being the most prominent current example – THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA turns its ear of influence towards the second half of that decade, when bands such as KISS, CHEAP TRICK, and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA generated rock that was as catchy and sugary as the pop music of the era. The busy schedules that Strid and D'Angelo maintain with their main acts keep THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA relegated to side project status with sporadic live performances. Since its 2012 debut "Internal Affairs", the band has lurked in the shadows of the metal scene, indulging the members’ love for the rock that dominated the airwaves shortly before the 1981 launch of MTV, with love-obsessed power ballads and hard-driving odes to the greatest rock and roll cities around the world serving as band's primary lyrical focus. Now six years into its recorded output, the band's latest record, “"Sometimes The World Ain't Enough", is exactly the type of album that would have been released by a similar-sounding band that got its start in 1975 and was now adjusting to the change of the decade heading into the 1980's, with the synthesizers of keyboardist Richard Larsson taking a more prominent role as an era-appropriate record would have. The record gets off to a fast-paced start, with opening track "This Time" serving as a showcase for D'Angelo's warm bass lines, Strid's croons and Larsson's ability to replicate the orchestral keyboards popularized by Richard Tandy of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. But it's the second track, "Turn to Miami", that really shows the band's knack for replicating the changing trends of the era they pay tribute, aping the direction that GENESIS took its sound during that time as it shed the last vestiges of its more pretentious prog-rock beginnings, with a rousing chorus of backup singers to boot. This is then followed by "Paralyzed", which steps a couple years back in inspiration in its delivery of a sexy, funk-laden disco-rock jam. The rest of the record is a fun trip through the early '80s rock-radio playbook. On just about any other record that would be reviewed on this site, a track called "Moments of Thunder" would be a heavy metal assault on the senses. Here, it's a beautiful AOR power ballad with Strid earnestly crooning about lost love. I would be remiss if I also didn't praise the guitars of Andersson and Sebastian Forslund, both of whom overload every track with plenty of hooks, with their own nods to greats of the past, most notably on "Speedwagon" where they crack the code of pulling off the tone of QUEEN's Brian May. Is anything done by THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA original? Nope. But are they damn good at writing songs that would have been hit singles in the era they are paying tribute to? Yep. Do those songs still sound amazing in 2018? Most definitely. […]

  • Epica vs. Attack on Titan - EPICA
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:09

    If you're a manga and anime fan, "Attack on Titan" (along with ""One Piece" and "Assassination Classroom") is one of today's global phenoms of the genre, much as "Akira", "Bubblegum Crisis", "Battle Angel Alita" and "Ghost in the Shell" were in the past. If you want to see culture clash at its best, come to Baltimore to witness cosplay attendees of the Otakon convention vying for street space during the NFL preseason amongst pre-liquored Ravens fans. It's a guaranteed spectacle. Late last year, symphonic metal pundits EPICA released its covers EP of music from "Attack on Titan", composed by LINKED HORIZON's Revo, leader of Japanese ensemble SOUND HORIZON. SOUND HORIZON blends classical, metal, J-pop and other elements, and the music created for "Attack on Titan" was originally sung in Japanese and narrated in German. EPICA stripped down Revo's core melodies and gave them an extensive symphonic metal upgrade, donning "the EPICA jacket," as guitarist Isaac Delahaye would put it. "Epica vs. Attack on Titan" was first released only in Japan, but now Nuclear Blast is offering the EP worldwide distribution. For EPICA fans, knowledge of manga is hardly prerequisite, since the differences between a Jaw Titan and a Cart Titan can be inundating. Here, EPICA utilizes English singing and narratives along with the band’s gratuitously stuffed symphonic and choral arrangements. It's thus no surprise that the group fluidly translates "Crimson Bow and Arrow" to cinematic heights, even if Mark Jansen's customized growling and Coen Janssen's (also responsible for the scoring and choir sections) tornado-speed synths smother at times. The patriotic march coursing through "Wings of Freedom" provides the platform for a frequently fast power metal number with swarming layers to peel apart and relish. Not so much sensory overload as it is hyper-processing here, and on "Dedicate Your Heart", upon which Simone Simons drops a tour de force performance, the barraging of EPICA's pageantry is frequently exhilarating. Only the breath-catching ballad "If Inside These Walls Was a House" eases the EP's insistent momentum. If only EPICA could've recruited taiko drumming legends KODO (on "Crimson Bow and Arrow" in particular), this would've been an even greater adaptation. Nonetheless, what the group has done here is a remarkable conversion in itself. […]

  • My Midnight Things - LIZZY BORDEN
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:07

    If you've followed LIZZY BORDEN since the "Give 'Em the Axe" EP, you've learned to come prepared for the unexpected. As one of the L.A. metal scene's most ferocious acts, nobody was prepared for the lighter direction taken on 1987's "Visual Lies". The ""Master of Disguise" album two years later proved to be a wild gambit that returned cred to Lizzy, if not a wider audience embracing his need to grow as a performance artist. It's been 11 years since the bricks-heavy "Appointment With Death" album, which leaves to question where Lizzy Borden's musical mind frame is at in 2018. Well, make sure you're sitting down when dialing into "My Midnight Things", a bold and shifty glitter rock album with roots dug from seventies rock and moody goth-pop from which HIM staked its massive career upon. For longtime LIZZY BORDEN fans, an open mind will be prerequisite, but the positive news is this album is more endearing instead of off-putting. What's remarkable from the outset of this album is how sharp Lizzy sounds, and how operatic the title track rings. With a touch of QUEEN, a dash of Meat Loaf and a glossed-up revitalization of classic L.A. metal, "My Midnight Things" rolls like a champion. Its hazy synth spritzes carry into the catchier-than-hell "Obsessed with You", "The Perfect Poison" and "Run Away with Me". If it's not apparent after two songs that this album is hardly a standard LIZZY BORDEN disc, "Long May They Haunt Us" throws another unexpected curve, effortlessly mating THE BEACH BOYS and goth with a charming sugary swing. "The Scar Across My Heart" finds Lizzy and the band taking on pop punk, but it's happily more akin to REDD KROSS than FALL OUT BOY. How much shrewder does the band have to be than with "The Perfect Poison"? The song soars on Marten Andersson's lobbing bass, and a groove so delicious you'd nearly say yes to a cyanide chaser. Lizzy Borden himself stands tall with each building bar, whipping King Diamond-worthy shrieks at will. This song is major league stuff with each tick. "Our Love Is God" being the heaviest monster of the album, its proto crunch ushers Lizzy Borden's whirligig notes through its new-gen mash. And with the pop elevations of "We Belong to the Shadows" mingling a heave of SURVIVOR-based sweat rock with nervy hits of contemporary pop, it all surprisingly well suits him. With HIM snuffing out its own goth-pop torch, it's hardly likely the band’s audience (a demographic possibly unfamiliar with "Menace to Society" and "Love You to Pieces") will flock to LIZZY BORDEN. That doesn't mean Lizzy and the band didn't take some damn good notes on staying relevant. After 11 years, "My Midnight Things" rings like a Hail Mary album, but it's so stinking smart and exciting, it connects receptions more often than not. At this point in his career having sung "American Metal" and "Me Against the World" to a presumed point of inherent boredom, it's stellar that Lizzy Borden challenges himself like this with zero to lose and a bucket load of cred to gain. This still being Lizzy Borden, though, check that bucket for a gallon or two of stage blood. […]

  • Tormentor - THE AGONY SCENE
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:05

    In the mid 2000s, one of the most respected bands in the metal underground was Tulsa's THE AGONY SCENE. Though it bounced from Solid State Records to Roadrunner to Century Media within a four-year span, THE AGONY SCENE was widely considered one of the top quality dark metalcore bands around. Its momentary breakup in 2008 was a crying shame for a band that had the best of aggression, force and groove going for it. The central corps of Mike Williams, Chris Emmons and Brian Hodges remains along with current bassist Jay White, with ten other members having bounced in and out of THE AGONY SCENE over the years. If that's not in-and-out drummer Brent Masters doing a session appearance on this album, then his reported replacement Ryan Folden, who played in the band previously from 2007 to 2008, is a damned good facsimile. His blazing performances foster the onslaught spurring THE AGONY SCENE's triumphantly noisome first album in 11 years, "Tormentor". "Tormentor" is far heavier and even more relentless than THE AGONY SCENE's first run. Instead of calling this band dark metalcore, this scorching stuff is closer in the vein of KEEP OF KALESSIN. This spike in brutality gives long-awaiting fans a nasty treat. The album opens with "Hand of the Divine", a ferocious song about the 2003 Rubio murders in which John Allen Rubio and his common-law wife, Angela Camacho, slaughtered their three children, believing them to be demons. Maudlin stuff to portray in song, andTHE AGONY SCENE whips up an impressive urgency, particularly on the thrash and grind modes. Mike Williams's screeching is more savage than ever while Chris Emmons and Brian Hodges's outpouring of shred are equally rambunctious. The intensity doesn't settle as "Like the Weeds in the Field" continues the assault, and the guitar patterns Emmons and Hodges wield are not merely darker, they're conjured straight out of black metal. "Serpent's Tongue" and "Mechanical Breath" inhale the wisps from some bleak, kindred forest in Scandinavia, and in the case of the latter, returns a head-crashing, violent rhythm. The only thing moving faster than the tempos, guitars and bass on this album is the album itself, which reaches the rails-teetering hell ride of final track, "The Apostate", faster than you expect. If you want sick fast, be listening for a wicked bass and guitar note chase prior to "The Apostate"'s final verse. "The Darkest Red" showed THE AGONY SCENE could swing as well as slam in 2005, while "Get Damned" dirtied up the band's brazen harmonies. On "Tormentor", THE AGONY SCENE doesn't concern itself with what to bring forward from its past, save for maybe the driving snare rhythms that gave "The Darkest Red" a monster kick. "Tormentor" is not merely the vibe of a band revived and reinvented. THE AGONY SCENE tapped into something butt ugly here and had the wherewithal to run with it. This is a tremendously heavy album from a metal band we're more than happy to have back. […]

  • The Wolf Bites Back - ORANGE GOBLIN
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:03

    It is inevitable that any British heavy metal band with even a hint of stoner rock or doom metal leanings will have the name of BLACK SABBATH invoked in press descriptions. And yes, there are many musical parallels — both in terms of style and songcraft — that can be drawn from veteran rockers ORANGE GOBLIN to the genre’s originators. But what makes ORANGE GOBLIN stand out from the literally hundreds of bands that have aped the blueprint, is that few have mastered the craft of being an all-around complete package of a band in all member positions as much as it has. As the original BLACK SABBATH lineup was built on four equally mighty pillars of heavy metal power, so too is ORANGE GOBLIN. Now more than twenty years without a single lineup change, the chemistry between Ben Ward (vocals), Joe Hoare (guitars), Martyn Millard (bass), and Chris Turner (drums) is what keeps ORANGE GOBLIN's blend of heavy biker-rock fresh on the group’s ninth record, "The Wolf Bites Back". If the band name is familiar to you, you already know that ORANGE GOBLIN excels at meat-and-potatoes, comfort-food heavy rock. Ward's gruff vocal shouts and occasional bluesy croons propel hard-driving, heavy-rumbling, groove-laden riffs that are backed by one of the tightest rhythm sections in all of rock music. This has been the band's formula from its 1997 debut, "Frequencies From Planet Ten", but at this stage, the benefit of the years together is apparent musically from start to finish. "The Wolf Bites Back" is a tight forty minutes of anthems that would play well in the arena or in the pub. From the very start of the record, ORANGE GOBLIN locks back into the groove it has set for itself fairly easily. Opening tracks "Sons of Salem" and the title track ease the listener in with comforting — if not challenging — bangers, and for the most part does not stray from formula. When the formula is executed so well though, that is not a bad thing at all. Much as Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward did during the original BLACK SABBATH run, Hoare, Millard, and Turner carry equal weight in delivering ORANGE GOBLIN's infectious rockers. Very rarely are the band's musicians brought up in discussions and listicles of the genre's greats, but their performances on this record make a strong case to overturn the underappreciation. Hoare's guitar riffs are the perfect mix of heavy thunder and bluesy warmth that typifies the best of the genre. Millard's bass performance underpins the record with a heavy rumble, while every snare hit from Turner snaps with urgency. That's not to say there aren't moments of slight deviation from the overall sound to keep things a little interesting. The first half of "Swords of Fire" is a moodier dirge, with perhaps the best example of the power of Millard's bass work on this record. "In Bocca Al Lupo" is a psychedelic instrumental interlude that would have been a perfect close to the A-side of a heavy '70s rocker, followed up by "Suicide Division", a two-minute burst of punk/hardcore fury. But for the most part, ORANGE GOBLIN sticks to the tried-and-true. While it is exciting to see acts develop their sound throughout a career arc, the bands that find their way quickly and stick to what they do well are equally important to the heavy metal scene. When an ORANGE GOBLIN album pops up on a release calendar, you are guaranteed at least one killer record coming out that month. […]

  • Meanwhile, Back in the Garage - GRAHAM BONNET BAND
    on July 21, 2018 at 20:00

    Now in his seventh decade, Graham Bonnet has enjoyed a modest second coming of late. The famed ALCATRAZZ, RAINBOW, MSG and IMPELLITTERI vocalist has been cropping up everywhere in retrospectives and reissues, plus a career-resurrecting run with the Michael Schenker Fest. With his self-branded band, Graham Bonnet engineers an exciting rebirth of sorts, surrounding himself with a monster set of players in the form of Kurt James (guitars), Beth-Ami Heavenstone (bass), Jimmy Waldo (keys) and Mark Benquechea (drums). Lead and rhythm guitarist Joey Tafolla provides stellar session support. Depending on whether you have a devoted or casual attitude toward Graham Bonnet, the frequent heaviness of this album may be a complete surprise. The fact "Meanwhile, Back in the Garage" culls from Bonnet's past habitats should be no surprise, but it all works far more than it doesn't. There's a lot of muscle flexing here, and not just from Bonnet's wringing esophagus. The title track is an Yngwie Malmsteen-esque power number (the scheme repeated later in the album on "America...Where Have You Gone") with Joey Tafolla and Jimmy Waldo spooling notes in abundance. Waldo's organs create a buzzing backdrop for Graham Bonnet, who waits until the final third to grizzle up after flowing along smoother than expected in a number this loud. Bonnet colorfully describes the scene for the intensely performed tour narrative "The Hotel", inclusive of a "drunk guy pissing in somebody's doorway." Somewhere between "Dangerous Games" era ALCATRAZZ and Bonnet's time in RAINBOW does "Livin' in Suspicion" lie, which does have a hook, if less urgency outside of Kurt James's blistering guitar solo. Then take the same coupling for the pumping retro pop rocker "Incest Outcest U.S.A." Bonnet goes into snarling rock god mode set to the whiz-bang drives of "Long Island Tea", "Past Lives" and "Man On the Corner". Some other stout numbers are the galloping "Sea of Trees" and the ticklish LED ZEPPELIN-meets David Lee Roth ditty "Heading Toward the Light", the latter being one of Graham Bonnet's most savory performances on the album. Saved for the end, "The Crying Chair" is appropriately his most gut-wrenching. A not-bad cover of Tina Turner's Mad Max ode, "We Don't Need Another Hero" gives Bonnet the opportunity to coddle his inner popster, and he has a blast with it. "Meanwhile, Back in the Garage" comes with an accompanying DVD featuring Graham Bonnet's appearance on "Live at Daryl's House", but the bigger story is the album itself. A lot of high-octane energy and some of the most ear-pleasing tones Bonnet has pulled from himself—ridiculously impressive at age 70—makes "Meanwhile, Back in the Garage" something of a sleeper hit. Hope springs eternal, 'nuff said. […]

  • Viktoria - MARDUK
    on July 21, 2018 at 19:57

    If you look at a recent shot of MARDUK, that's no peace sign being waved in your face, but the sign of victory. Like Spy vs. Spy or in old time war. The black metal legends have always had a fascination with war, in particular German combat. Hence, you can be your own judge if its glorification or historical account on the band's grueling 14th album, "Viktoria". Per guitarist Morgan "Evil" Håkansson in a Loudwire interview, "Overall, I would say we have a fascination with the whole war machine”. In MARDUK's case, World War II era German machinery is a big lure, hence the band’s 1999 album, "Panzer Division Marduk". The band's obsession with this has drawn controversy, even accusations of buying propaganda from the Swedish-based Neo-Nazi organization, the Nordic Resistance Movement. Said claims were officially refuted by the band. That being said, "Viktoria" (presumably citing the old SS song "Sieg Heil Viktoria") is swollen by Håkansson and Magnus "Devo" Andersson's demonic guitars along with Mortuus's scraggly squelches. Fredrik Widigs lashes some of the fastest drumming passages you'll hear this year. Repetitious chord patterns are sent at full intensity through the opening track, "Werwolf", which is based on Heinrich Himmler's resistance operatives assigned to infiltrate Allied lines—code named "Operation Werwolf”. The fret plunging moans of the guitars on "Equestrian Bloodlust" are equally ferocious, while the blasting rage of "June 44" (i.e. the Battle of Normandy) are cataclysmic enough to give full voice to the din of warfare. If you're a MARDUK vet, this is all nothing new. "Narva" (referring to the historic battles between Sweden and Russia at the dawn of the 1700s) and "Tiger I" (as in Wehrmacht heavy tanks used in European and African campaigns) will summon blood to the ears while wringing more through freshly blasted cavities. No MARDUK album leaves you unscathed. Issuing its mission statement to become "the most blasphemous band in the world" nearly 30-years ago, MARDUK staged warfare against Christianity, but that pales in comparison to their fixation upon World War II. Air raid sirens and spelunking bombs scattered into MARDUK's customary claustrophobia sends "Viktoria" on a violent spiral through the band's fiendish portals. […]

  • Desolation - KHEMMIS
    on July 21, 2018 at 19:54

    The genre of doom metal is overridden with dozens of pretenders cribbing from the playbooks of SLEEP and BLACK SABBATH, and all but a chosen few end up sliding almost immediately in one ear and out the other, not bringing much excitement to the table other than competently executed rehash. That said, there has been another exciting wave within the doom metal genre burgeoning within the last few years, exploring the more melancholic and melodic side of the genre tag. Hovering at the top of that wave is Denver quartet KHEMMIS. The group's 2015 debut full-length "Absolution" was a fully formed vision from the start, the band showing a flair for composition well beyond its years. The following year's "Hunted" cemented the band as purveyors of a compelling mix of beauty and heaviness. The strain of doom on that record was reminiscent of faster-paced cuts from the glory days of TROUBLE and CANDLEMASS. The newest single-word titled record from KHEMMIS, "Desolation", sees the band slightly slowing down its din this time. Thankfully though, the slowdown is more in tune with the gorgeous Euro-doom of modern-day KATATONIA than the molasses-like sludge retreads permeating the modern doom metal scene. Opening track "Bloodletting" sets the stage from the start, highlighting the guitar interplay between the duo of Ben Hutcherson and Phil Pendergast from the very start. The guitar tones that are traded off quickly become one of the band's trademarks from the starting gate, with "Desolation" once again proving a showcase for the warm guitar tones and deep hooks that are generated by Hutcherson and Pendergast. The duo has also shown great chemistry trading off on vocal duties from day one, though Hutcherson's snarling growls are more understated this time around. The record is mostly spearheaded by the ever-soaring clean croons of Pendergast, his vocals serving as pilot on each song, with Hutcherson jumping in to steer most of the tracks through turbulence to a safe landing. The melodic gloom reigns supreme on most of the tracks, with other songs such as "Flesh to Nothing" and "The Seer" following the lead of the opening track, serving more as steady mid-tempo stompers. That's not to say that there aren't moments of faster-paced metallic triumph scattered throughout the record. After "Bloodletting" comes to its roaring conclusion, "Isolation" roars with a mighty gallop; its jaunting rhythm is more in line with modern traditional-metal acts like SUMERLANDS and ETERNAL CHAMPION. It is on the speedier tracks where the rhythm section of bassist Daniel Beiers and drummer Zach Coleman shine brightest, their chemistry confidently propelling heavy metal thunder. The opening seconds of "Maw of Time" are arguably the heaviest segment of the record, starting off as a heavy ARCH ENEMY-esque cruncher before settling back into the mid-tempo groove that populates the majority of this record. The third record is often the most important in a band's development. The heavy metal history books are littered with bands that broke through the creative and popularity ceiling with their third record, and even more that ground to a halt after running in place. KHEMMIS sticks the landing with its third record, slightly tweaking its formula just enough to keep the discerning metal listener interested in what's coming next. […]

    on July 21, 2018 at 19:49

    From the ashes of VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE! Michael "Vampire" Orlando initiated DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY. The latter is a goth-punk-emo-rock act, started with Ronnie Radke of FALLING IN REVERSE. Tyler Smyth and everywhere man producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette were summoned to help arrange and write DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY's debut album, "Alchemy". Following a bus accident on tour a few years ago, Orlando was reported to have died briefly and was resuscitated. Through reconstructive surgery and rehab, he slowly worked his way back to the Sunset Strip region he reflects upon in his music. Orlando will tell you about toxic relationships, one ending in his being dumped on Valentine's Day with nothing left but a chair inside of an empty apartment. Suffice it to say, that's a lot of adversity from which to draw in song, suggesting that "Alchemy" has anger and pain on its side. Yes, those are part and parcel to these songs which throw accusatory beacons upon debauched Los Angeles along with fakes, posers and backstabbers. The problem is, this album putters and recycles more than it generates heat. While Michael Orlando remains a confident, broad-ranged vocalist, the guitar solos are the best thing going for "Alchemy". The straight-driving "Medicine" is crammed full of layered vocal dubs set to tinny choruses and an all-too-familiar three chord harmony. "Forever" flags psychosexual deviance with the disconcerting lyric "...put your hands around my throat, because right now I wanna feel this pain forever.” These songs have beats and they have angst, but no real steam. The lagging pace of "I Can't Feel a Thing" at least gives Michael Orlando the proper vehicle to drag out his trials; with what he went through, we'll grant him the time he needs here to make his point. "Everything" attempts to stiffen up with its cock strutting verses, but, by this time, the prevalent three chord stuck mojo grows stale. Finally, a good thump to brag about with "Too Late", a standard rocker lifted by its whirring synths. Unfortunately, once "I'll Find a Way" arrives, the few tricks employed by DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY have grown old hat, inclusive of isolated drum leads and banal arrangements. We want to give Michael Orlando a rousing man-up award for fighting his way back to health and, more importantly, to the life he'd nearly been forced to leave behind. Unfortunately, "Alchemy" takes too long to generate a spark, and by the time it does, the songs are so wound through the same spin cycles that it's hard to appreciate beyond extending the guy well-deserved congratulations. […]

  • BILLY SHEEHAN On THE WINERY DOGS' Hiatus: 'We Wanted To Give It A Break For A While So It Didn't Get Stale'
    on July 21, 2018 at 15:40

    Bassist Billy Sheehan (SONS OF APOLLO, THE WINERY DOGS, MR. BIG) was recently interviewed by Steve Harrison of "The Unchained Rock Show". The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): On his recent hectic schedule: Billy: "I went out with MR. BIG. We did Australia, China, Southeast Asia. I flew from Hong Kong to France to start with SONS OF APOLLO. We've been doing [shows] all over Europe and the U.K. I fly home for a short break; then I do more MR. BIG and more SONS OF APOLLO, then more MR. BIG and SONS OF APOLLO, and then it's Christmas... It's been a grueling schedule, but I can put up with anything, especially if the venues are decent. [With] decent dressing rooms, I could go for years. A good bus, decent venues, I could sail permanently. If conditions are right, I can do anything for as long as necessary, and I love to play live. I live to play live. My whole youth, all I did was play, from about 17 or 18 years old. My original band, TALAS, our record was 21 nights in a row. We did three full shows in one day one time — morning, downtown Buffalo, a special show for some bank opening. Then we went in the afternoon after a Buffalo Bills practice session, we played for the crowd, and that night, we played in Niagara Falls. We did three full shows of setup, play, tear down. That's the work ethic that I'm used to from the early days. I love to play live. [The] studio is cool; writing songs is fun, I guess; but being on deck — being on stage — that's where it's at." On continuing to grow and evolve as a musician: Billy: "Musically, the adventure thankfully never stops. I'm always coming up with some new challenge, new thing. I take my iPhone here and prop it up against the arm of the couch and put it on selfie video and explain to my phone while it's watching me and my hands on the neck, 'Okay, the chorus is like [this], but when it gets to the bridge, it switches to [that].' I've got hundreds of little snippets like that. Every day, I learn some new thing. When I do my bass clinics once in a while, I often say, 'Every single day, I come up with a new thing.' When I speak those words, I think, 'Do I really?' Sure enough, I look at my folder of videos — yeah, I do, as crazy as it seems. As soon as you get to the top of one mountain, you see the next one to climb. It's fantastic. I love learning new stuff. Seeing a great musician on their instrument — even [if] it's not a bass, or it's not rock — is inspiring to me, and I want to take from it, borrow from it, learn from it. It's a fantastic thing." On being a member of multiple groups: Billy: "It's kind of the way it is these days. I remember back in the mid-'80s, I forget what band it was, but I had heard that one of the guys in the had a side project. I said, 'Side project? What's that?' Usually, when you'd get in a band, that would be your band forever. That'd be it. Maybe you'd do a jam with somebody here and there. It's not like that as much anymore. There's a lot of things you can do. MR. BIG is kind of my heart and soul; that's the band I had the most success with ever, but we're not a full-time band. You just can't go out and tour nonstop. We're older now; we just don't do that. So I've got all this time, and like I said before, I've got to play live. In the meantime, [I did] THE WINERY DOGS, my favorite band. I love THE WINERY DOGS. Richie [Kotzen] wanted to do some things, and we wanted to give it a break for a while so it didn't get stale, and it would be new to us all the time. We will do more WINERY DOGS for sure. We all love the band. In the meantime, Mike [Portnoy] started this thing... so why not continue them all? The music industry has changed, of course. I like it because it's relying now more on live than anything else. That's great for me, because I do love performing and playing no matter what. But we all get along very well; we all enjoy it; it's an exciting night of hot, sweaty, challenging playing, but entertaining. We're not shoe-gazing and we're not so wrapped up in what's going on on our instruments to not notice there's people standing there." SONS OF APOLLO continues to tour in support of its debut album, "Psychotic Symphony", which was released last October via InsideOut Music. MR. BIG will soon embark on a three-week European tour that includes stops at such major festivals as Wacken Open Air (Germany), Alcatraz (Belgium) and Bloodstock Open Air (United Kingdom). THE WINERY DOGS are currently on hiatus, but during an appearance on the "Trunk Nation" satellite radio program earlier this year, Kotzen implied that the group's break will be short lived. "I think we all know at some point that we're all gonna do something together again," he said. […]

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