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Sponsored by


Publisher Highwire Daze Magazine A General Partnership Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Morton Managing Editor Danny S. Pasley Senior Photographer Jack Lue Contributors Kenneth Morton Bret Miller Joe Schaeffer Ben Cottman Cover Art by Yannick d’Assignies of Smart Works INTL. Cover Photos By Jack Lue Graphic Design Tyler Heath

HIGHWIRE DAZE 827 N. Hollywood Way PMB 419 Burbank, CA 91505-2814 e-mail: Opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express and written consent of the publisher.


Jan/Feb 2020

INTERVIEWS WITH . . . STEVE HARRIS OF IRON MAIDEN AND BRITISH LION ..................... 10 MYLES KENNEDY OF ALTER BRIDGE .................................................. 14 FOGHAT ................................................................................................... 16 HOLDING ABSENCE ............................................................................... 18 MIDGE URE ............................................................................................. 20 CARL DIXON OF CONEY HATCH .......................................................... 22 BORKNAGAR .......................................................................................... 24 THE HARD WAY ..................................................................................... 26 ELISE TROUW ......................................................................................... 30 ERIC RAGNO ........................................................................................... 32 TORA TORA ............................................................................................ 34 STEVEN BRADLEY .................................................................................. 36 IDOL X ..................................................................................................... 38 DANI MARI ............................................................................................. 40 ELISE TROUW POSTER ..................................................................................... 28 ALBUM REVIEWS ............................................................................................... 45 CONCERT REVIEWS .......................................................................................... 32 SKETCHES BY THE EDITOR ................................................................................ 6 BRET’S RAMBLINGS ............................................................................................ 8 TOP TEN ............ ................................................................................................... 50


Sketches By The Editor HIGHWIRE DAZE WILL HAVE A BOOTH AT THE NAMM SHOW Happy New Year and welcome to the 128th issue of Highwire Daze magazine! Chances are you might be planning on attending The NAMM Show at The Anaheim Convention Center this year. If so, please be sure to stop by and visit us at Hall E - Booth 1351 and say hi. Below is our Booth Signing Schedule at Press Time. Be sure to check out our website at for the latest updates to our signing schedule as well as The NAMM Show Events page. I would like to thank Thomas Sandgaard and The Sandgaard Foundation for sponsoring our booth at NAMM and for their amazing support of Highwire Daze. We will have information about The Sandgaard Foundation and their fight to end opioid addiction at our booth. Be sure to check out The Sandgaard Foundation column in this issue for A Year In Review on Page 42. And in this New Year, let us all continue to BAND TOGETHER to bring an end to the opioid epidemic! Thank you all for your support of Highwire Daze. As we approach our 30th year of existence, it is an honor and a privilege to be part of THE NAMM Show 2020! Hope to see you there!


Jan/Feb 2020


B r e t ’s R a mblings A LOOK BACK AT 2019 The year 2019 was an amazing year for new music and finding new bands. Bandcamp took much of my money and I gained so much great music on vinyl and digitally. Thanks to my trusted tastemakers on Facebook I’ve found out about bands too. Real people leading me to real music by real musicians. I buy the music from the bands, go to their shows and pick up something, usually vinyl, and proudly support musicians all over the world. Music keeps me going and I enjoy listening to the bands that are played on DKFM and a few other shows. Here are the EP’s and albums I’ve been listening to the most in the past year. You can find all releases on bandcamp.

BRET’S BEST OF 2019 In alphabetical order: All India Radio, Eternal Be Forest, Nocturne Become The Sky, Aurora EP Bethany Curve, Murder! Blankengerge, More Blushing, S/T Burning House, Anthropocene Cave In, Final Transmission Crown of Pity, Just DIIV, Deceiver Echodrone, Everything Starts to be a Reminder The Foreign Resort, Outnumbered Fragile Animals, Only Fragile//Only More Honeymoan, Body Inkrakture, We Are Not Really Here Isn’t, When The Autumn Hides The Sun Lanayah, Forever In May LO(G)M & Laraaji, The Onrush Of Eternity Murmure, Espace-Temps No Swoon, S/T Old Soul Dies Young, Yandere Outward, That’s Life Phantoms Vs. Fire, WLDLFE Pinemoon, Miracle Piroshka, Brickbat Primitive Heart, No Fear In Love 8

The Raft, Abloom Rev Rev Rev, Kykeon RUBUR, Evening Sitdown Vision Sadness, i want to be there & Circle of Veins Silver Bars, Center of the City Lights Slow Glows, Stargaze Rock’n’Roll SPC ECO, Fifteen Submotile, Ghosts Fade on Skylines Swervedriver, Future Ruins Tennis System, Lovesick Tombstones In Their Eyes, Maybe Someday Trillion, When I Wake The Twilight Sad, It Won/T Be Like This All The Time Ultramarine, Signals Into Space Various Artists, Disintegration Revisited (TBTCI Records) Violet Cold, kOsmik Vlimmer, Gonisten EP The Warm Jets, Here We Come We Melt Chocolate, S/T Weedpecker, III Whimsical, Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts Wilderness, I’m Not Here Xeresa, III

Listen to Bret’s Ramblings

at Highwire Daze Radio on Live 365 Everyday 3:00PM and 11:00PM Pacific Time New Shows Every Tuesday Jan/Feb 2020


Steve Harris

of Iron Maiden Banc Of California Stadium September 14, 2019 Photo by Jack Lue

Steve Harris of Iron Maiden Discusses The Almighty Return of British Lion

Interview by Ken Morton - British Lion photos by John McMurtrie - Steve Harris live Photo by Jack Lue To kick off a brand new decade, Steve Harris of the iconic Iron Maiden presents the return of his band British Lion! Their new album is entitled The Burning, an epic rock and roll manifesto that is absolutely explosive and inspirational. While it’s been difficult to deliver the goods on his side project due to commitments with Iron Maiden, Steve Harris and British Lion will be roaring up several live shows all over the world in support of The Burning. Highwire Daze recently had the opportunuty to interview the legendary Iron Maiden bassist to discuss British Lion and the scorching reveries found within The Burning. Read on... Let’s talk about British Lion and your new album The Burning. First of all, is there any story behind the title The Burning and what does that title mean to you? It’s not a concept album or anything like that. The Burning is just a song where the words were basically written by the singer Richie. He was an orphan so he had a lot of issues with that – and the town he was living in was also a big industry kind of town at the time – and then when the industry went out, that side of town was sort of dying – it’s just a sad story really. So with The Burning – just get out of that town and do something better and do it well. And it’s kind of about that really. With Iron Maiden on the road so much, how did you even find HIGHWIRE DAZE

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time to do a second British Lion album? That’s why it’s been 7 years between albums. (Laughter). Basically we had to put things on the back burner. We were hoping to get a live album out and that’s been put back and obviously we’re going to try and do that some point this coming year. But we decided to get a second album out. We’ve been doing a lot of gigs with British Lion as well. That’s really taken the first place between recording and playing live – to just get out play as much as we can. It’s been a bit of a struggle – if I’m honest, it is. Not for what I do with Maiden, because that’s always going to come first and it is what it is. The rest of the guys are fine with it (in British Lion) - they’ve got no choice really. It is what it is. But it does make it difficult. Even now I’ve got like six gigs at Christmas. I’m just going back a week earlier than I would because I’m going back to see my son’s band who’s headlining London and then I’m going to cram in six gigs. And next year we’ve got the Monsters Of Rock thing and I thought it would be nice to try and get some gigs for the first time in the US. Some people have sat for a long time wanting to see us play in the States, so we’re coming over and doing it – and we’ll see what happens. We’ve been around for seven years now, but we’re still a new band to most people. You don’t know what you’re going to get really. Interestingly enough, two of your members used to be in The Outfield out of all bands. How did Simon and Graham become involved with British Lion and are you a fan of The Outfield? 11

Well the weirdest thing of all this is that they were both in The Outfield – but they were both in The Outfield at different times. They didn’t even know each other – and that’s even more weird. Obviously they’ve had a little bit of experience of playing in the States before where the rest of the guys in British Lion haven’t. So it’s really going to be nice for the rest of the guys to play the US for the first time ever. But yeah, the fact that they were in the band at different times in very odd. The Outfield were obviously doing really well in America at one point, and you would hear their stuff on the radio all of the time. It’s not really totally my cup of tea, but it’s still good song writing. When Graham came to me, his stuff was really very different from that, when he came to me with a demo tape many years ago. It’s not the stuff we ended up using at all in British Lion, but the quality of his playing and writing was great. That’s how it all started off really, being involved with him and then he got with Richard Taylor and we kind of went from there. Richard Taylor is such an amazing, expressive vocalist. How do you think his vocals and performances have grown since you started mentoring British Lion and what is his overall background? He grew up in an orphanage, and the people who owned and ran it – the entire family ended up adopting him. So that’s kind of reflected in his lyrics and his fight to do well and take over the reins and do something good in the world. He’s had a tough upbringing – a lot of people have I suppose – his in particular was kind of tougher than most really. As far as the music goes, we’ve been going with British Lion since the 90’s – I vowed to him that one day we were going to do some really good stuff, because it’s too good not to see the light of day. So that’s how it came about really.

After playing these huge stadium shows with Iron Maiden, what’s it going to be like to play more intimate venues. That stadium Maiden played out here in Los Angeles was collasal! These days we have been playing in massive places – we have been for some years I suppose. And so going into clubs is a totally different thing – and that’s why I love it because it is totally different. I enjoy playing small clubs and I like being very close to the audience. Over the years we’ve played lots of clubs all around the world – lots of clubs that I never really had the chance to play with Maiden. So it’s nice to do these places with British Lion. For Iron Maiden fans who have no idea what British Lion sounds like, how would you describe the music to them? I would say it’s more rock and roll than metal. It has the same sort of influences as Maiden such as Wishbone Ash, The Who, UFO but Maiden was also influenced by more proggish-type stuff too. British Lion is more just a rock band I think. But we’re really powerful live – we give 110 percent live with really, really strong songs. It’s different from Maiden – it’s very different. But I think the essence and influences still come from the same sort of place...

What do you find with British Lion that you did not find in Iron Maiden. And at what point did you say “Yes! I want to join this band!” I wanted this band to see the light of day, and the only way to do that was to be in the band myself. Of course with that comes a whole lot of responsibility, commitment, time and everything else which I couldn’t have done in those days. But later on, with Maiden sort of touring less, I was able to weed out the opportunity to do so. But it’s not easy trying to juggle things in there. Maiden comes first and it always will. British Lion I just have to try and cram stuff as and when. It’s not an ideal situation but least I’m going to make an effort so we can record straight off of tour and play whenever we can. I just did an interview with Carl Dixon from Coney Hatch. How did the British Lion tour with Coney Hatch? It was great, because again we were putting the toes in the water in a new country that we hadn’t played before – Canada. Also South America and Japan we were doing all for the first time. And with Canada, we were just doing a few shows with Coney Hatch. I knew Coney Hatch – Andy Curran was a really great friend of mine back from the days when Coney toured with Maiden in the 80’s. So we stayed friends over the years, so it was an obvious thing to say “Do you want to do some gigs together?” And it was great and I would love to do it again! I’d love to do the same lineup in Canada because it went very, very well – it was a really good tour. 12

Jan/Feb 2020


A Walk To The Sky And Beyond

An Interview with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge Interview by Ken Morton Photo by Jack Lue Myles Kennedy is a passionate vocalist whose work is inspirational and profound. Whether fronting the almighty Alter Bridge or lending his powerhouse singing to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, this artist’s creativity has left an impact on many a music fan throughout the world. About to kickoff a tour of the States in support of Alter Bridge’s critically acclaimed Walk The Sky endeavor on Napalm Records, Myles Kennedy spoke with Highwire Daze while on the road in Europe. Read on as we discuss the songs on Walk The Sky, the Iron Maiden/Steve Harris connection, the secret of keeping the lineup together for over 15 years, the great Slash, and a whole lot more... How has your European tour with Shinedown been going and what are some of the highlights for you so far? It’s been great. It’s been a while since we toured with those guys. We go way back. I mean, over a decade since the very first time we toured with them in the States and so it’s good to reconnect. They do just a really fantastic job. They’re such a pro outfit, very seasoned and they know how to work arena-size crowds. So, they bring it every night. Describe that moment on stage the other night when you were playing Jeff Buckley’s Fender Telecaster and singing Hallelujah and how did that come about? It’s hard to articulate how that felt. I tried to comprehend what actually happened. I mean, it was a big deal for me being the fan that I am. It came about because we got to be friends with Matthieu Lucas at Matt’s Guitar Shop in Paris. They have a really fantastic area there where they have all these iconic guitars everyone from Jeff’s guitar to Jimi Hendrix’s Strat. They have just an arsenal of guitars with history and obviously, they knew I was a big Jeff Buckley fan. I visited the shop back in July and gravitated towards Jeff’s guitar. They brought up the idea of using it next time I was in Paris and playing it onstage and so I guess that where the seed was planted. I was even honored they considered asking me but with that said, that guitar carries a lot of incredible history and weight with it. Even though somebody offers you the opportunity of a lifetime like that —it was something that took some thought before finally deciding it was the right thing to do. I feel like that’s sacred ground. 14

I interviewed Steve Harris from Iron Maiden and I see you have the Raven Age on your tour. What do you think of them and what report can I send to his dad about his son’s band? He should be very proud of his son’s band. They’re doing an amazing job. They are holding their own every night. The fans love them and they’re good guys as well which, it’s nice to see that. These seem to have a good work ethic and they’re doing astoundingly well, so he should be very proud. Is there any story or concept behind that title Walk the Sky? Yes, it came from one of the tracks from the album that—it Jan/Feb 2020


was actually about—they call them Skywalkers. They risk their entire existence to walk a tight rope at very, very high elevations and so the song definitely touched on the psychology behind that. It’s interesting because a lot of the songs were about where I was in my growth as a human being. Kind of what I discovered over the last years to kind of help me navigate my way through life. But taking that title out of the context of that specific song, it obviously has a nice double meaning which is the liberation one feels or a certain amount of enlightenment and understanding on how to live life, and so it felt it was a good way to sum up the record. If you could select two songs from Walk the Sky and what inspired the lyrics for you? I’m going to say Native Son which was actually inspired by an interview that I saw a long time ago. It was a series called The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell - it was Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell and it’s a fantastic series. You can actually see it on Netflix now but I remember seeing it years ago on PBS. It had a profound effect on me and so that was the genesis of that song. There were some things they were talking about in relation to what happens when myths in people’s culture is taken from them and how it has an effect on their lives - and that’s really where that song came from lyrically. Another song is In the Deep. I really like that song because it just makes me feel a certain calm. The song is about meditation - although a lot of people, I don’t think they get that out of it when they listen to that song—people think it’s like a love song or something but it’s actually about the state of mind and solace that I find when I go Into The Deep and fall under the calming effect of just powering down my brain and how useful that’s been in my life. Alter Bridge has pretty much had the same members since 2004. What’s the secret in keeping the band together that long? Respect. I think respect one another and hearing each other out. You’re not always going to agree on everything and once you figure that out and figure out how to not so much pick your battles, but focus on the things that are really important and not every tiny little detail you might not agree with, and listen to each other. I think that’s really paramount in helping stay together for this long. I think each of us are probably can say the same thing. It’s really about that relationship, that understanding. As Aretha Franklin said R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Alter Bridge is coming back to the U. S. next year. What are you looking forward to the most about this upcoming tour? We started to run the official tour months ago before the record was even out. So, it would be nice to return after having gotten that entire tour under our belt and now this tour in Europe. I feel like it’s going to be a much smoother sailing ship at this point. We kind of worked through the kinks. We got production to where we want it too. We got the set where we’re happy and so I think we’re closer to firing on all cylinders which is exciting. HIGHWIRE DAZE

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So many people see Slash as a legend and one of the greatest guitar players of all time. How do you see Slash as? Exactly as you stated. Yeah, I actually like him. He’s just got something very, very unique. As a guitar player myself, I guess it helps me to kind of understand what that is and I think he is such a character guitar player. What he does nobody else does, and maybe more so than just about anybody I can think of off the top of my head. I mean, there’s a lot of guitar players that people will try to emulate, and they’ll borrow their licks, and they’ll borrow their sound, and they’ll borrow ultimately their trip and take elements of it. He has such a signature approach to his playing that it is very hard to mimic that, and I think that is part of the allure. I think that’s part of the genius of what he does. What he does is completely him. It’s almost the way he plays, like he’s like on another planet and that’s the beauty of it. What goes through your mind when you think of the year 2020? I kind of have a goal for 2020. I want to shift gears a little bit. The last two years or so, it’s been crazy and intense when you’re on the road whether it’s touring or making records for over 300 days. So, I think 2020 for me is going to be trying to have more balance. I guess if I could sum up the year in one word it’s going to be “balance.” I have my music but I also want to be home a little bit more and balance my family life and all that type of stuff. So, I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great year in that respect and I hope that inspires me creatively as well. Reignite the passion - not that the passion is gone by any means, but it’s been pretty intense here. I’m definitely looking forward to 2020 in that respect. Do you have any messages for the fans that will be coming out to the Alter Bridge show next year? I can’t wait to see you all the shows. I think they’re going to enjoy where we’re at right now. We have six records to tour on and one thing that we’ve learned over the years is to try and mix the set up more than we have in the past. I feel like on some of the previous records we got a little comfortable and I think at one point I felt we were playing the same songs without any real switches to the set night after night. So we made a real conscious effort to mix that up and fans should enjoy it. And the fans - we have these die-hard fans - they’re like Deadheads. They come to every single show, so for them it’s good, to at least mix up a couple of songs. We got like the blueprint set, what the set is and then we have two or three (other) songs to keep it interesting. Maybe they can be called Bridgeheads or something... Bridgeheads, I like it. I like it. You may use that if you’d like. Right, I’ll do it! 15


FOGHAT LIVE REISSUES ON ROCK CANDY RECORDS Interview by Ken Morton Photo by Jack Lue Rock Candy Records recently reissued two albums from the Foghat catalog. Fool For The City from 1975 and Foghat Live from 1977, presented the classic lineup in their finest hour. Both of these recordings feature their massive hit song Slow Ride, a tune which would place Foghat on the map for the rock and roll ages ahead. Highwire Daze recently spoke with legendary drummer Roger Earl about the making of these two superbly iconic albums. Read on... First of all, when you were recording Fool For The City, did you have any idea at all that you would be making this rock and roll history? (Laughs) No, not at all. One interesting thing about the Fool For The City album, was that was the first album that we actually took time off the road to record – other than the first album which we did with Dave Edmunds. Every other album was done two or three weeks here or two or three weeks there. We were always on the road. But Fool For The City was the first one that we actually took time off. We took 2-3 months off touring, and we had this studio that Nick Jameson who had just joined us on bass and who was our producer on a couple of other albums. Nick Jameson was always a lot of fun to work with – a super bright man – a fantastic musician. One of things I hate about him is that he could just pick up an instrument that he’d never played before – and within 10 minutes he was playing it. Don’t you hate people like that? (Laughs) Us mortals have to spend hours with our hands and feet – maybe many years before we can get basically proficient. Nick Jameson picked things up and within 10 minutes he’s playing it. Nick and I are still really good friends. He’s living in Iceland now. He’s a super talented guy – he’s an actor – obviously a very proficient musician – and a comedian. He’s probably of the funniest people I’ve ever met. That’s probably one of the reasons we got on so well – one has to keep one’s sense of humor – especially when you’re on the road – otherwise it can get to you. It’s imperative to have a sense of humor. Whose idea was it to have you as the cover guy on the now iconic Fool For The City cover and what do you remember the most about that photo shoot about you fishing in the middle of a city street? 16

Actually once again it was Nick Jameson’s idea – because he knew I had a penchant for fishing. “I fish – therefore I am!” (Laughs) Anytime I had time off from recording the Fool For The City album – I had been up in Vermont and there’s terrific trout fishing up there and I would just wander off and go fishing. And Nick came up with the idea. So one early Sunday morning, we went into down in the Village and we pulled the manhole cover off. We started taking pictures, and the next thing we know, some of New York’s finest came along in their cruiser and rolled down the window and looked at us – and I said “Oh shit, here we go.” And they said, “Hey do you got a license?” And we all looked at each other and thought “Oh fuck, we gotta have a license!” And then they said “You got a fishing license?” And then they got out of the cruiser and said “What the fuck are you doing?” and so we explained the best that we could that we were a rock and roll band and we’re taking pictures for an album cover. So they actually joined in – they took some pictures handcuffing me and carting me away. I don’t know what happened to those pictures. New York’s Finest – they’re the best – they’re great cops! They worry about people who are murdering and mayhem and not rock and rollers pulling up manhole covers – that was sort of a lighter moment for them In retrospect how grateful or maddening has it been to have a song called Slow Ride defining your band and being so legendary and revered? Jan/Feb 2020


Oh are we? That’s nice, that’s very nice of you to say that. [laughter]. When Foghat went into the studio, we always gave it our best shot. We took recording very seriously and nobody would be stoned or drunk or anything when we’d go in there, it wasn’t just until after work. We took it seriously when we were recording -- we all kind of knew, if something wasn’t quite working out or the song was not gelling or -- sometimes you had to sort of wait a while before you get it to where you’re happy. But Slow Ride came together really easy, in fact, I remember Nick telling me a couple of years ago when we were finishing our Under the Influence” album -- when we were recording “Slow Ride” and half-way through it just when we get to the bass and drum breakdown, the power went out, I’m not sure how long it went out for, I can’t recall that but I think it was like a week or more, and then we had to come back again and it was just Nick and myself. And so, Nick said, “Well, just play along and we get this down.” Which we did. And Nick turned on the machine upstairs, came running down the stairs with his bass, and he and I finished the song. What do you remember the most of the recording of the song Fool for the City and what is that title Fool for the City mean to you? New York City is a fantastic city, there’s just so much to do, so much to see and it’s full of interesting characters and people to meet and see and places to go. Yes, it’s written about New York City. It was just a tribute to the city and how much we missed all the noises and the smells. Let’s move onto Foghat Live which was released in 1977 What do you think has made that particular show so iconic and why did you release a live album at that particular time of your career? Actually, as I recall it, it was down to me because, I think Rod and Dave, who were the main writers in the band, were having somewhat of a writer’s block. And by that time, we’d been HIGHWIRE DAZE

Jan/Feb 2020

together now what? Six years, I guess? And we’ve been playing every night pretty much except when we did the Fool for the City album. And the band was playing great, the recordings were terrific and Rod Price was, I think, at his peak as far as playing and Dave was always great, And at that time when we’re doing the live album everybody was playing really, really well.Also Craig MacGregor joined us for this album playing bass and Nick decided not to-- he wanted to go off and do something else. It was supposed to be a double live album but I think Warner Brothers in their infinite wisdom decided that double live albums weren’t the thing at the time. What was Craig MacGregor like to work with throughout the years in Foghat? Craig was great and yes, he was my brother., He was a fantastic bass player and also like Dave, when show time came it was never anything less than a hundred ten percent. Craig MacGregor, he was a very unusual character. He was very much his own man, a fantastic bass player, a good friend and I miss him terribly. Actually, I went to see him about five or six days before he passed. He was living out in Pennsylvania, and he hadn’t actually played in the band for over three years. We actually had four different bass players, and I said to him,“Look, when you tell me you don’t want to play anymore then I’ll get somebody; otherwise you’re the bass player until you tell me not.” And he did come out and play a couple of shows, We did a show with Deep Purple out on the West Coast in San Diego, and we only had a 45-minute set, and he said, “I want to come out and do that one show.” And I said, “Which one you want to do?” and he wanted to play in the same bill with Deep Purple. He was something special, and he had an incredible personality, his playing and the way he was on stage, like I said, he was my brother and I miss him to this day... 17

A Chat with James Joseph of

Holding Absence and James and the Cold Gun Interview by Ken Morton Photo Credits: Holding Absence (top) by Bethan Miller James and the Cold Gun (below) by Feisal Visual

James Joseph and his band Holding Absence have been making a name for themselves within their UK home base and beyond. Their Self-Titled debut on SharpTone Records was a massive endeavor featuring stunning post hardcore/shoegaze reveries. James also recently started a side project entitled James and the Cold Gun. Their first two singles She Moves and Two Day Wish are exhilarating post rock anthems that will absolutely stun the senses. Highwire Daze recently caught up with James Joseph to find out a whole lot more about these two amazing bands on the rise... James and the Cold Gun is actually the name of the Keith Bush song. Was there any connection there? Yes and no., I’m a big fan of Kate Bush. I got really into her after randomly watching a BBC documentary on her life. I just saw she was like super cool. I love the way that she was one of the first performers to really bring a theatrical nature to her performances and she was more than just a musician. I feel she’s almost like an enigma and then she disappeared for a large portion of her career and then came back. It’s pretty crazy. So there are two of us called James. It’s me James Joseph and him James Biss. We thought just be funny to be called James under something. So then when I was searching for different ideas. James and the Cold Gun popped up and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s perfect.” We both like Kate Bush and it’s a pretty cool sounding name. So has there been any live shows yet for James and the Cold Gun? Not yet. We’re definitely looking into trying to sort something in the New Year. We had our first practice with us and two session musicians the other day. Basically we were gonna do shows as a two-piece, but I think with some of the new songs we’re writing we actually want to perform live as a four-piece. So myself and the other James are both gonna be playing guitar and singing. We have a bassist and drummer who are good friends of ours, who are gonna be sort of sessioning for us. Holding Absence recently had an American tour that you had to cancel on. How disappointing was that and are there any plans to try and make up the States? It was a rough blow, It’s the sort of thing where you never think it’s gonna happen to you. You just think something’s gone wrong with the band, maybe they didn’t put the application in in time, but we did everything by the book. The second we got the tour, we sorted out all the forms, but apparently it’s just becoming more and more difficult, especially for smaller bands that don’t have much of an international touring history. However, the label we are on SharpTone has been super supportive. And they are committed to doing whatever they can to get us HIGHWIRE DAZE

Jan/Feb 2020

Holding Absence James and the Cold Gun

back there when we next get offered something. It seems like it took forever for the first Holding Absence album to come out. How close to you guys to writing and recording a second one? A lot closer that most people would imagine, I think. The first album, I think looking back at the time, I hated the process. We were having crazy arguments for the first time ever in our career. I think the pressure of having to decide on songs and really argue amongst ourselves about what we wanted the album to do really took its toll on the band. I mean, it might be the reason why we had so many members come and go. But then looking back, I think we learned so much about ourselves and it’s only gonna make album be a process for album two stronger. We’ve already made more progress on album two than we made in like two years of thinking about album one. Do you think Holding Absence and James and the Cold Gun would ever want to tour or do any shows together? I’d be super keen, man. Yeah. The more shows I can play live that I just love. That’s the one thing that I’ve sort of managed to be half decent at. Whenever I play a Holding Absence show, I just wish I could get back up and have another go. So yeah, I’d be down. I don’t know how the other guys would feel but I’d be down. 18

MIDGE URE: SONGS, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TOUR 2020 Interview by Ken Morton Grammy and Brit Award winning musician Midge Ure returns to the North American intimate venue circuit with his open and honest, Songs, Questions and Answers Tour 2020. Direct from the hugely successful UK leg of the tour, Midge will be playing alongside multi-instrumentalist Tony Solis, performing acoustic versions of his catalogue and taking questions, and maybe the odd song request from the audience. Highwire Daze spoke with Midge Ure about what to expect from this tour, as well as other topics of intrigue, including his time with Ultravox and Thin Lizzy. Read on... What could fans look forward to the most about the upcoming US Songs, Questions And Answers Tour? I think something that is as real and honest and impromptu as they could expect. The entire evening is driven by the audience, by their interaction, by their questions depending on what’s asked. It may lead me off into an area of music that I haven’t played for a while. It’s going to be different every single night. We have no idea what people are going to ask, we have no idea what songs we are going to play. If we get hit with something that I can’t play, they’ll see me attempting it and probably falling apart. Because I’m a human like anybody else and I forget what I’ve written. Have you had any real surprising questions that have just absolutely stumped you while taking this tour on the road in Europe? Well, none that stumped me. You tend to get a lot of the same rather than the interesting individual question. So, you’ve got a lot of questions about Ultravox, you’ve got a lot of questions about Visage, a lot of questions about Band Aid and Live Aid, understandably. And you get the serious hardcore fan questions, you know, “Mr. Ure, can you tell me what synthesizer you used on the bass sound on the B side of blah, blah, blah 1981?” You get a bit of that. But there’s nothing that particularly stands out as an outstanding question. It tends to be a similar question, wherever you happen to go, with an oddity all of the sudden thrown in Well, the US will just have to try harder then. (Laughter). So your recent Soundtrack album was obviously a massive 20

undertaking. How you do even start selecting tracks for an album that ambitious? I think you have to find your start point and a lot of people said I should have started earlier than I did from 1978 onward. Although I’d been making records since 1975, I didn’t feel I had contributed anything to the actual construction of the records or the writing of the songs. I didn’t feel like that happened until the Rich Kids in ‘78, and Marching Men was the first time I’ve written something that I felt most kind of warranted it. Once you’ve open the spectrum somewhat and you decide not to do a greatest hits, because that record labels tend to want to what Jan/Feb 2020


to do. They tend to want to glue it together - all the successful tracks you’ve had, and then maybe it will appeal to an audience and that they make money out of it. They came to me and said, “What would you like to do?” and I said, “A Retrospect, including a lot of songs that people might not know” because there were probably more interesting songs than the ones that were commerically successful. They’ve got different formats, too long, subject matters too dark - whatever it happens to be. I wanted this to be a journey through songwriting. I wanted this to be a series of movements that grow up towards what you do. You don’t go to school to learn how to write songs. You don’t go to college to learn how to write songs. You started by copying your favorite artists of the time and then you grew up from there. I wanted to show that on the Soundtracks album. So here’s the Band Aid question. What was it like working with Bob Geldof? Did you have any idea you guys would be creating this Christmas classic when you were doing it? Oh God, no. No one does. I don’t think anyone sets about trying to write their own little piece of history. We were doing our best to knock something together, because we realized that if you wanted to generate any kind of income from making a record based on the royalty that an artist would get at that time. We figured that if we wanted to raise a hundred thousand pounds, we couldn’t just cover a standard Christmas classic and record it with all of our friends, because 50% of the money generated would go to the writers. So, we have to write something. So, Bob and I came up with these very incompatible ideas with Bob’s lyrics and my melody and theme. I set about putting these oddities together in my studio. I just finished building my first home studio. I spent four days playing all the instruments and doing the arrangements while Bob bumped into all the artists and rounded them up like a shephard. “You’ve all got to be here, you’ve got to do this!” I just set about recording the track and what you hear on the radio now is all the instruments by me and Phil Collins playing drums. If you listen to the track again-- If you take all the vocals out of it, it sounds exactly like Ultravox. But no one forsaw the thing that it became. Neither Bob or I thought about anything beyond the Christmas of 1984. So 35 years later, we’re still overseeing where the funding of that money goes. How did you become involved with Thin Lizzy and what was Phil Lynott like? I was a fan of Thin Lizzy when I was a kid growing up in Glasgow. in Scotland. I saw one of their first ever gigs in Scotland. I bought the albums in the early years. Philip was a really good writer and a great singer. And then I got to meet him. When I moved to London from Glasgow to join the Rich Kids, I bumped into Phil and we used to hang out together. I was in the studio putting the finishing touches to the first Visage album. I had just joined Ultravox although nobody was interested in Ultravox - people thought they were dead gone. I got the phone call from Philip, who was in Arkansas with Thin Lizzy, who were the special guest to Journey - this was 1979. Phil said, “Gary Moore the guitarist hasn’t turned up to a couple of shows. He’s out of the band. Can you come to America tomorrow to finish the tour?” Of course, the first thing that HIGHWIRE DAZE

Jan/Feb 2020

goes through your head is, “I’m not that kind of guitar player that would be playing Thin Lizzy. I’m not good enough!” The next thing that goes through your head is, “Don’t be a dick. You get on the plane. You’ve never been to America, that would be fantastic!” So I went out and found myself in New Orelans the next day learning all the harmony guitar parts in Thin Lizzy’s set - and then getting on stage in front of 20,000 people! And it was glorious because I knew when I finished this, I would be going straight back to Ultravox, because that was my band. So yes, it was an interesting thing. I got to see and experience the tail end of that massive 70s Americana rock thing -, playing a festival in Cleveland, a baseball stadium with Aerosmith, Santana and all of those bands. Because everything was about to change and I managed to see the tail end of that. And it was just incredible. Are you prepared to play Jailbreak on your upcoming tour if someone asks you that? They can ask, and I can maybe play the opening chords or something. It’s not quite my domian really. I can lay clain to many things, but I can’t lay claim to have written Jailbreak. Do you think there would be anymore Ultravox albums or tours with you participating? I don’t know. I’m not being coy, I honestly don’t know. We are a strange bunch, I have to say, we’re very strange people. Billy and I haven’t seen each other for years, although we never fell out - no reason not to speak, we just haven’t. I’ve seen Chris the bassist a few times. And Warren the drummer, he’s retired now from work. He’s living out in California. So, I’m not sure that there is a desire to do it. Fortunately, for us, 10 years ago, there was a desire to get back together and just play those tunes one more time. And the Brillant album came out as a result of getting together a few years later. I’m very pleased that we did that, because it meant that even though we haven’t been in the same room for 25 years, we still have something to contribute something of value. So, I was very pleased it happened. We’ve been apart five times longer than we were ever together. That’s the reality of it. We’re kind of all stuck in our own ways. But for that little glitch in time when we got back together again, it all worked. Ultravox was an incredibly powerful band, and I had forgotten that. And when we got back together again, we made that noise. That noise was just magnificent. What goes through your mind when you think of the year 2020? I think the fact that when you’re a kid, and you’re 18 or whatever, and you’re looking into the future and you think, “Oh my God, the year 2000? Miles away! It’s so far in the distance!” But to go 20 years beyond that and still be allowed to do what I’m doing is just extreme. It’s what I describe many times as looking through a telescope. When you’re young and you’re looking into the future, you’re looking down the telescope the wrong way. You’re looking in the fat end and everything seems so far away. But when you’re older and you look backwards - you’re looking to the proper end, and you can almost touch it. So, my youth is still within reach, but when I was that age looking this way, I never thought I’d get this far... 21

Carl Dixon of Coney Hatch and The Sounds of The Unbroken

Interview by Ken Morton Carl Dixon of Coney Hatch has returned with an epic new solo album entitled Unbroken released via AOR Heaven. Collaborating with Robert Böbel of Frontline and Phantom 5, Unbroken by Carl Dixon is inspiring melodic rock that exhibits the true sounds of perseverance. Rebounding from a near fatal automoile accident several years ago, Carl Dixon is a survivor ready to take on the world, and it shows throughout the vibrant tapestries found within Unbroken. Here is a recent interview Highwire Daze conducted with Carl Dixon about his brilliant career in music. Read on... Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Unbroken? I suppose the main thing is my own progress through life through all kinds of obstacles – the biggest one being the car accident I went through in 2008 and was almost killed by that I took years to recover from. Then I got back to singing and playing and performing and writing in a way that I feel like I’m better than ever. And learning so much about life! I feel like that everything is still standing even though I was assailed by the biggest crushing force you can be. And I came out of it Unbroken. Select two songs from Unbroken and what inspired the lyrics. 22

All the songs were inspired by the music that my co-writer and guitar player Robert Böbel sent to me from Germany. Each of them had a feeling in the music that turned into a story in my mind – and I started writing the words that would outline that story. So Summer Nights – the music gave me that feeling of the memory of youth and the carefree days when we’re first falling in love and spending wild summers together when we’re young with somebody wonderful. And Keep The Faith – I love the story that one tells of sticking together with someone you love no matter how bad things get and just endure – because that’s what significant – you go through things together and you stay strong together. So, how did the collaboration between yourself and Robert Böbel from Frontline and Phantom 5 come about? That was completely put forward by a man named Georg Siegl, who was the founder of AOR Heaven Records in Germany. He’s worked with Robert for many years, I gather and they’re friends. And Robert was at loose ends, wanting to do some new music.. And Georg thought, “Well, who do we know?” Because we met in the past year. “Who do we know that might be a good fit work with my friend Robbie?” So, he reached out to me and said, “Would you like to do a new Carl Dixon album?” and I was very keen on the idea. So it all went from there. He already introduced us and we started sending music ideas back and forth. Jan/Feb 2020


Is there any chance you will be touring with this album and at this point of your life do you even miss touring at all? Well, you know, I play somewhere every week still with different musical presentations. I do sometimes my solo shows, and sometimes with Coney Hatch. We just did a gig two weeks ago. Sometimes I play with my other show called Carl Dixon Sings the Guess Who and then I have my trio with different friends that goes by various names, depending on what time it is. So, I play lots. What I would enjoy doing is perhaps an organized tour to focus on one of my musical paths. I’m not sure if that can happen anymore with the way the music business is so fragmented - because a new album like this would have to make a big impact for people to risk their money on booking a show. And so they have to have heard of you and believe that people know the music and will come. So I’m afraid there’s a few steps between me and being able to do a tour for this album. Looking back on the Coney Hatch comeback album Four, what you think of it now and that particular time of your life when you were recording it? It was a great time for Coney Hatch in terms of our relationships and working together particularly my longtime partner Andy Curran and I, we wrote lots of songs together. We had a really great relationship in the studio. I asked Andy to produce the album because I thought that was just the best thing for the band rather than being in a competition. It’s better if there’s one leader and everybody can have their say but really, you’ve got to have that - that guide that person that everybody respects in that position. And so it was very gratifying. I felt we made some of our best-recorded performances ever for that record. There’s lots of good songs, lots of good playing and singing. And, you know, if it came out in the 80s, it probably would have had some sales but the business has changed so much. But that’s life. You have to take the positives from it - and so the positives I take are that we’re back playing shows together and our relationships are better than ever.

performing with the legendary April Wine? So much fun. I was lucky enough to be in the lineup with four of the original guys Jerry Mercer and Jim Clench and Brian Greenway and, of course, Myles Goodwyn. And in that situation, I was the sort of utility guy. I played guitar, keyboards, percussion, sang all the high backing vocals and sort of add whatever I could to every song that the four other guys could not cover. There were layers on the records that just get lost when there’s only four guys available to play the parts. So, I made it my mission to try and bring the songs up to what the record sounded like as much as I could. And do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this right now either online or in print? I’m always grateful and pleased and surprised by the loyalty and caring of the fans of the music - that they continue to take an interest in and seek out what I do and what my bands have done. And so, thank you, everybody. I learned a long time ago without my fans, I would have nothing.

It looks like we’re going to be doing an interview with Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and British Lion next week. So, I was wondering what was it like to tour with Steve Harris and British Lion and do you still keep in touch with him? Well, I keep in touch occasionally with Steve Harris. Andy was the guy that really became close friends with him. But t was like we’d never been away when we did the British Lion tour. He’s just a great guy with a big heart and he’s just got enough energy to power a city by himself. He’s just go, go, go - that guy and a great pusher for his ideas and for the people around him. And he gathered quite a talented band for his British Lion group. They’re all good guys. They play great. They sing great. It’s like the music that they’re putting up for their new record. If they capture it right, it’ll be like Iron Maiden but a tad more commercially acceptable. But yeah, it was really nice being around him again every day just like the old days. The Guess Who released a solid comeback album last year. What was it like working with Garry Peterson and The Guess Who and have you heard the new album? Well, it was a great thing for me in my career path to work with Garry Peterson and Jim Kale was in the band also at the time I was with them. The Guess Who gave me a leg up back into the serious level of performing and touring. The new album, it’s not my cup of tea let’s put it that way. April Wine you were also involved with them. What was it like HIGHWIRE DAZE

Jan/Feb 2020


Borknagar: Approaching True North

Interview by Ken Morton

Borknagar has just unleashed the almighty True North - their 11th studio masterwork of dark progressive metal. At press time, an announcement was made that Borknagar would be playing in the States again at long last, in direct support of Rotting Christ on the Devastation On The Nation tour! Highwire Daze recently interviewed Borknagar founder and guitarist Øystein G. Brun to find out more about True North and other topics of intrigue... True North is your 11th studio album. Did you ever think that Borknagar would wind up doing 11 studio album and last for 25 years and counting? No I didn’t - never. You know, back in the day when I started out the whole thing. I had always been a fan of atmospheric music. My father had a huge collection of imported LP’s from the UK, everything from Black Sabbath to Uriah Heep. Old school prog rock kind of music. I was brought up on this music in that sense. I’ve always had a love for melodic atmospheric music. The first step in my career was a quite brutal death metal band called Molested. We were young kids playing and we basically couldn’t play at all (laughs). We did have quite a fan base for 3-4 years. And then I got kind of fed up – I had to do something more musically speaking from where I come from. I had just started playing around with ideas of making my own music ideas or persona. I had no ideas of earning money on this or making it a career – there was just a sheer interest in making music. And well, it became a little more than what I expected, but it has been an awesome ride in many ways. And that’s the beauty of life – the smallest idea might be a huge thing at the end of the day. Is there any overall story or concept behind the title True North? There is no real concept I would say, but if there is any – True North is a term coming from navigation. True North is if everything fails when you get lost at sea, and you don’t have a map - in the old days with the Vikings, when travelling they navigated with the polar star North – not really True North though. In navigation, True North is the constant all of directions in a sense. True North is kind of cherishing the constant in life – the rock in your life – the mountain in your life. Everything is moving these days – everything goes so fast. I have kids myself – and kids nowadays live in a completely different world than I lived in when I was a kid. There are all sorts of troubles, problems, conflicts, challenges, and ever drifting things. And in all this, it’s nice to have something that’s constant that will always be there no matter 24

what happens. And that why we found this True North title interesting. Why is Vintersorg not involved with the album this time around? To be honest, we saw that coming for quite a long time. He had been a band member for many years now and had done a lot of albums with us. I still regard him as one of my very best friends in this world. I would say, my kind of musical brother in a sense. He had a quite bad accident back when we did the Winter Thrice album. We had to delay the whole production for half a year. He had a really bad fracture through his skull that had some hemorrhage in the brain. He lost quite some hearing on one of his ears and that kind of made the whole thing of being a musician a little bit more not that attractive. And other things, like he has a quite high-end job these days, which is kind of very involved in traveling and being locked in Sweden. We came to a point where we had basically me, Simon and Lars - we wanted to take a step up, both in terms of doing the album and live shows. So we basically openly had a discussion about this. We have to move on. I had an option to move on with the album, finish the album, do all the things we wanted to do - or I could just sit down and wait. And that was really not my option. It was a clean nice cut, no bad feelings, no bad blood or anything. You know, I think (Vintersorg) was relieved a little bit too. What do you think has kept you so passionate about Borknagar for 25 years and counting? Yeah, good question. I’m asking myself almost every day. I love doing music, but I don’t necessarily love doing all the paperwork that comes with it - and all the stress with it. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I think also because it’s a part of my life, my lifestyle. My wife always tells me I’m a bit grumpy. “Hey, get your ass out to the studio, make some music” and I then I come back kind of sane. So for me, it’s not like eating and drinking of course. I mean that’s essential to live, but it’s my way of bringing life in a sense. I think the whole thing derives in the fact I just love making music. It gives me a feeling of maybe like religious people when they go into their churches. I just feel when I hear a good riff or good song, it gives me a rush like nothing else can give me. Maybe I’m a music addict in a sense. I mean, I’m not a drug addict, but maybe it is the same thing with making music. I just need to get my shot... Jan/Feb 2020


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Meet Andres Yepez of The Hard Way

Interview by Ken Morton Photo by Joe Schaeffer

Meet Andres Yepez, guitarist for L.A.’s own The Hard Way. Ready to rock your world when performing with the band at the iconic Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, Andres Yepez and The Hard Way has opened for the likes of Angel, KIX, and Last In Line. In this interview, we find out a whole lot more about Andres and his amazing guitar artistry. Read on... Introduce yourself and tell me how long you have been playing guitar overall. My name is Andres Yepez, from Quito, Ecuador (living in L.A. since 2011) and I’ve been playing guitar for 23 years (19 professionally). How did you wind up meeting Eric Jeffreys and joining the ranks of The Hard Way? I was introduced to Eric Jeffreys and The Hard Way through their other guitar player Mr. John Huldt, since we’ve been playing on one of his side projects called MetalABBA since 2017. He felt I’ll be a good fit for the band when they needed someone to fill in the other guitar spot and luckily it worked out great. Prior to The Hard Way, what bands or projects were you involved with? I’ve played in many projects in my past, but most prominent with Martin Tillman - Superhuman, Anima Inside (Ecuador), The Velvet Teaparty, MetalABBA, Radio Viejo (Guatemala) and many solo artists in the L.A. area. What is your favorite The Hard Way song to perform live and why? I really like most of the songs but definitely one of the standouts is I Can’t Go Home. (Even though that’s one of the few I don’t have a solo) because of it’s fast shuffle feel, great guitar riffs and Hollywood night-life inspired lyrics. Extremely fun to play and hopefully to watch. What could one expect from a live The Hard Way show? I think what defines The Hard Way is “ENERGY” which is driven from the songs. On top of that, it’s over every band member to add the level of musical proficiency that a high class rock show requires and we work extremely hard to bring it every single time. You recent show featured legendary drummer Matt Starr in the band. What was it like working with him? Matt is an amazing, world class drummer, no doubt about it, but the thing that always stands out for me from working with him or any musician of his level is how much they love to play music and they always work as team players with the show as number one priority. (On the top of that for that show we had the amazing Philip Bynoe from the Steve Vai Band, you cannot ask for a rhythm section more legendary than that one!) 26

The Hard Way has opened for some pretty iconic bands. What has been your favorite band you have opened for and have you been able to meet any of them? I have great memories of every one of these opportunities but on a personal level Last in Line is the one that hit a soft spot for me. When I was 15 years old I saw Def Leppard at a sold out concert in Ecuador and I can vividly recall watching Vivian Campbell shredding his guitar with lots of class and passion. Who would have thought that a few years later I was gonna be able to shake hands with him and just say Thanks! at the green room alley of the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood right before an amazing show. What is your guitar of choice to play at a live show and why? Hardest question of them all... Hahaha I love them all. As of right now I have five electric guitars and they do sound really different from each other, but I recently bought an Ibanez Jem 7BSB that seems to have the right amount of mojo in it to bring every single note to life. Who are guitar players that you find the most influential? I started playing because of Brian May from Queen, then discovered the mastery of Eddie Van Halen and then really got into the shredders like Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Andy Timmons, Paul Gilbert and many more, never forgetting David Gilmour, Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page and George Harrison. What would you like someone to remember after seeing The Hard Way for the very first time. Just one thing. How much fun they had with us. What’s up in the New Year for you and The Hard Way? Personally I would be releasing my first solo Instrumental Rock guitar album called Season Of Chaos which is currently in post production, and I know that the band already has a bunch of shows booked, so we really hope for 2020 to be a year filled with great music that stays in people’s memories and hopefully a new The Hard Way record too. Any final words of wisdom? Music in general is in a weird spot right now since the rise of social media. It seems like vanity and “being trendy” is what fills most peoples desires, sometimes faking stuff up just to beat the amounts of likes of the next guy. With that in mind I really hope that people cherish more and more the essence of a live show. We don’t know how lucky we are that we still get to enjoy a kick-ass live rock show! In the near future they might become an endangered species. Jan/Feb 2020




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Elise Trouw at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood

Interview by Ken Morton - Photo by Jack Lue

The multi-talented Elise Trouw made her way to The Hotel Cafe in the heart of Hollywood for a standing room only show. Performing all of the instruments and vocals on her recordings and in her live set, Elise absolutely captivated the audience with her vibrant vocals, magnetic drummer, and imaginative live looping. Prior to the show, Highwire Daze caught with Elise for an interview. Read on... What are you looking forward to the most about your show here at The Hotel Café tonight? I’m really excited because it’s my first headlining show I’ve played in about a year. I’ve spent a lot of time writing and recording this past year and just got back from opening on tour with Incubus. I haven’t played my own headlining show in a little bit, and I’m really excited to be doing it here in L.A. – close to my hometown – and a lot of my friends are going to be here tonight. I’m just excited to be here with everyone. How did the recent tour with Incubus go and what were some of the highlights for you? The tour went fantastic. Everybody was just super great and professional. I would say the highlight for me was playing The Greek – that was the only open air theater that we played. Just that experience was really fun and something new for me. When people ask you what your genre of music is, what do you say to them? People ask what my genre is, and I usually stutter and say “Uh, alternative pop indie rock something like that.” So I normally just stick with alternative and that kind of covers it I’d say. Or alternative pop. What was your experience like on Jimmy Kimmel? I was very nervous first of all playing Jimmy Kimmel. That was my second live looping performance that I had done – my first being at NAMM that year. I was just very nervous but I had a really great time. The crew – everything went super smoothly. It was the first time they were doing a performance in the round – like a circular stage with the crowd all around me – so it was just a really special night and a cool experience. I met him for like half a second. I saw him from afar and he seemed really cool. What does your latest song Make Believe and the lyrics mean to you? I think that song is just about missing somebody or kind of longing for a past relationship or friendship and just being in that moment feeling lonely. What is your favorite memory of The NAMM Show? I would say my favorite memory of NAMM was playing at the Taylor Booth in 2018. I played my first live looping show there and the whole room was just packed with people – and that was 30

one of my first performances where there was really a crowd. Most of my performances had been in local bars in front of my friends and family and some people coming out to see me. But that was my first my first intense performance like that. Live looping. What could possibly go wrong? So many things. (Laughs) At almost every show, there’s something that goes wrong. Whenever I’m setting up, I’m like “Wow, everything’s working” during sound check. That’s like my main concern. But everyone in the audience is always very supportive and understanding when there’s technical difficulties, so I try to not take it so seriously. What’s up next for you in the New Year? I’ll be releasing new music. I have a new video and song coming out in January and we’ll be getting on a new tour next year – hopefully in early summer – possibly spring in the US. And I have a couple more songs lined up to release after that one as well. Jan/Feb 2020


Keyboardist Eric Ragno: Wheel In The Sky and Beyond

Interview by Ken Morton Photo by Cara Giudice Eric Ragno is a keyboardist in demand, weaving his auditory artistry for a wide array of musicians and bands. He has performed with the likes of The Babys and Joe Lynn Turner, and his collaborative work with the late Tony Mills (Shy/China Blue) is nothing short of legendary. In this interview, we look to the present, discussing Mr. Ragno’s current projects, including credits with Khymera, Fiction Syxx, Martie Peters Group, and 3 Headed Snake (featuring members of the iconic Ministry). In addition, Eric Ragno appears in Wheel In The Sky - A Tribute To Journey - providing inspriational keyboard tapestries in the grand and glorious tradition of Jonathan Cain! Read on as we discuss the current happenings of the massively talented Eric Ragno and his musical journey for 2020 and beyond... What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming NAMM Show? I enjoy meeting with the folks who make my amazing gear! Seriously, these guys rock. I’ve got some great relationships with On-Stage Stands, Alesis, LM Products, TKL Cases, Lounsberry Pedals, Alien Ears and of course Hammond Organ USA! Without them I’d be carrying around toy keyboards in a garbage bag, set up on a coffee table! NAMM is also the time to see old friends, and make new ones. It’s like a class reunion where we catch up & celebrate our victories, and make plans for the New Year. I can’t wait. How did you become involved with Wheel In The Sky and have any of the Journey members heard or commented on the Tribute? I’ve always been a MASSIVE Journey fan. I’ve studied Jonathan Cain for decades, and I’m frequently compared to him in album reviews. This lead to me touring with THE BABYS - the band Jon was in before joining Journey. When there was trouble in the Journey camp, some folks suggested that I reach out. I made some calls, and worked for the next year to “be ready”. I 32

sampled all the original album sounds, and studied every bootleg. I wanted to practice these songs with a live band, so I joined the biggest Journey tribute band on the West Coast. This brought me together with Shane Tassart, an amazing singer and the only other real Journey fan in that outfit. Shane and I wanted to present the kind of Journey “concert experience” that we grew up with, and went on to form WHEEL IN THE SKY. The Journey situation finally stabilized, and as a fan I couldn’t be happier! And I’ve come to enjoy playing the catalog to big crowds, which has earned us some rave reviews. We’re also working on original music in that same vein. The band is made up of stage veterans – Shane Tassart (Lies Deceit & Treachery - the ex-Bulletboys) on vocals, Frankie Lindia (David Lee Roth) on guitar, Gary Holland (Great White, Dokken) on drums, our secret weapon Jeffrey Bretz on bass and myself (The Babys, Joe Lynn Turner) on keyboards. Tell me about Fiction Syxx and how you became involved with that band? Mark Allen Lanoue is a great singer and guitarist from my home state of New Jersey, but we never met. He put together some amazing hard rock songs, with elements of prog. The man has vision. The band featured Mark, JK Northrup (Paul Shortino, King Kobra) on guitars, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) on bass and Rory Faciane on drums. Larry Hart (Montrose) eventually replaced Tony, who has been super busy. Mark let me have my way with his songs, so there’s a lot of lush synths and blazing keyboard solos! We released our second album Tall Dark Secrets last year, which has a great cover of Jan/Feb 2020


Styx’s Suite Madame Blue. The record made a lot of “Best of 2019” lists, and I’m proud of that. Another release you participated on in 2019 was Unfinished Business by the Martie Peters Group. How did you become involved with that project? I played with Martie at the first Melodic Rock Fest in Chicago. What a great guy and awesome singer. He brought the band over from Copenhagen, and needed a keyboardist for the show. We met a day before the performance, ran through the songs in my hotel room and just went for it. It was a blast, these guys are so awesome! Martie reached out when he started recording new music, and let me put my stamp on his songs. Again, if you let me run free you will see me at my best! I love the way that album came out, and hopefully we’ll do another soon. 3 Headed Snake features two members from Ministry. How did you become involved with that band and what were they like to work with? That was very random. Sin Quirin (guitarist for Ministry and 3 Headed Snake) needed a keyboard player for their upcoming album, and did what a lot of folks do now – he posted an open call on Facebook, and our fans and friends responded that he should contact me. I get a surprising amount of work that way, and it’s great when “the people” push you to make new musical friends. For 3 Headed Snake I recorded keys for a cover of Lights Out by UFO. These guys sound MASSIVE, and I hope we do more together in the future. Very cool band! What has it been like working with Khymera and what could we expect from the new album in 2020? I LOVE this band! Khymera is a project that showcases the talents and voice of Dennis Ward (Gus G), a great producer for the label (Frontiers Records). Dennis and I have done some great albums in the past with Fergie Frederiksen (Toto) and Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), and we’ve developed a good rapport. Khymera has a very keyboard-heavy sound, and Dennis encouraged me to embrace that. He reinforces everyone’s strengths, and is so easy to work with! The new album Master Of Illusions arrives in March, and builds on the work we did with our last record The Grand Design. Once again it features Dennis Ward on vocals and bass, Michael Klein (Wicked Sensation) on guitars and myself on keys. What was it like working with Josh Ramos of Hardline and The Storm and what is in the works with Josh Ramos in 2020? Josh is a singular talent. He’s often compared to Neal Schon. Josh spent so much time in those Journey circles, it’s inevitable – but he also has other sides to him that you’ll hear on his new album this year. We did two fantastic records together over the years (Ramos/Hugo The Dream and China Blue Twilight of Destiny). We got back in touch after our friend Tony Mills died last year – it was very sad. Josh recorded one of my songs for his upcoming album with producer Fabrizio Grossi, with Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) on vocals. Josh also asked me to write an instrumental showcase for him, where he just lets loose. It’s all in the can and coming in 2020. HIGHWIRE DAZE

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Would you ever want to do a China Blue reunion perhaps in honor of Tony Mills? I’ve thought about it a lot. I loved Tony so much, man. I worked with him on multiple albums after China Blue, but it wasn’t the same. I’m often asked about putting another Journey-sounding album with Josh Ramos – we frequently get the Neal Schon/ Jonathan Cain comparisons, so it’s a natural fit. We talked about it recently - Josh and I are in a great place right now. If the right opportunity presented itself, I think we could put together something that fans would enjoy. Last year you worked with The Gary Moon Band and London. What’s going on with those two projects? Both are on hiatus. Gary has been working with Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) on his new solo album. We’ll see where Gary’s at once it’s wrapped up. London is also in a holding pattern. I have such a blast with that band! We released Call That Girl, the band’s first full-length album in 28 years. We celebrated the release at the Rainbow’s 47th Anniversary bash last year. Founding member Lizzie Grey was set to make a surprise appearance with us, but sadly was too sick to make the journey. Lizzie passed away the following August, which was heartbreaking. London was featured prominently in Motley’s Crue’s movie biopic The Dirt, which did well enough to pull Motley out of retirement. Will it bring London back on the road in 2020? We shall see. I miss those guys. Anything else going on in 2020? I worked on the upcoming Fierce Heart album with Rex Caroll (Whitecross, St. James), the follow-up to the band’s 1985 debut. Rex keeps super-busy, and expects the album to be out in 2020. I also appear on the Mood Groove album by JK Northrup, which arrives in February. JK is a great producer – we get on really well. He also put me together with West Lake Boulevard, featuring singer/songwriter Rich. It’s great classic rock, and we’re shooting videos this week. In closing, what does the song Don’t Stop Believing by Journey mean to you personally, especially since you must cover it every night you do a Wheel In The Sky show. And it’s on the radio constantly! That song follows me everywhere. I bought the album when it was new, and I remember the feeling of hearing those opening piano notes. We close with this song every night, and it gets the biggest response! You can see from the stage how this song has introduced a whole new generation to the music of Journey. Don’t get me wrong - I still enjoy working with original artists to get their music out to the masses. But it’s such a privilege to play these songs in front of crowds. At this stage of my career, that song has become like a dear old friend that I take everywhere with me.

Visit Eric online at, and on social media at rockkeyboards. 33

Tora Tora: Return To The Sunset Strip

Interview by Ken Morton Photo by Joe Schaeffer

Tora Tora has returned, bringing their Memphis-style hard rock to the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Performing songs from a vast and epic career, including selections from the recently issued Bastards Of Beale on Frontiers Music Srl, Tora Tora absolutely thrilled their fans with a rock solid performance. Prior to their kickass show, Highwire Daze caught up with vocalist Anthony Corder for an all encompassing interview right outside of the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Read on... What are you looking forward to the most about your show at the world famous Whisky? Man, it just brings back a ton of memories. Being out here and seeing everything – it’s been about 25 years since we’ve played in California, so we’re totally freaking out. We’ve played The Whisky and The Roxy. The Whisky is special to us man. I remember the first time we played - I looked out and Eric Carr was in the audience. I thought it was cool! So it brings back a lot of memories, just being out here. Our record label A&M was based out of here, so we spent a lot of time out here. We drove through the area and it was like a time warp. We’re looking forward to seeing everybody tonight. How did you wind up signing to Frontiers Music Srl for your brand new record? They reached out to us through social media. We thought it was a joke at first. But our guitar player talked to them first and I met their rep in Nashville. I live in Nashville now and the band’s based in Memphis. Their only US rep had just moved to Nashville, and I got a call and talked to him. He said, “Man I just moved here and I don’t know anybody.” And I said, “Where are you? I’ll come meet you.” He was one exit from my house. And so I went and met him at a coffee shop – we talked about Frontiers – and I was talking to some of our friends earlier. We knew about the company. Jimi Jamison who was in Survivor – he had worked with us on our early records singing backups – and later in his career he had worked with Frontiers and he done some solo stuff. We knew the name. They gave us a platform and a voice to get back to the audience – and that was a big thing for us just to get our profile out. So we’re indebted to them for that. And now we’ve been out playing and touring and promoting the new record. We love it! We’re having fun man! Memphis is a legendary, magical city for music. How has 34

Memphis and the magic of the city affected the music of Tora Tora – especially today and with your new Bastards Of Beale album. It had a huge impact on us! Everything from the blues to Beale Street – it’s touristy but you’re still getting that flavor of the blues. And not only the blues and Elvis, but also Stax Records – they were one of the biggest record labels in the South. They were battling it out with Motown – both of them were doing soul music. That music – I think the osmosis of being from that geographical area – that blues kind of thing – kind of filters into your sound. We love it! The heritage of the city is amazing. The musicians there are top notch! You walk into some hole in the wall and there’s some guy there who will just blow your mind – you’ll be like “Oh my god, why does everyone in the world not know who this person is?” I’m super biased because it’s my hometown, but they’re super talented. We have a lot on the history of the city, but there’s a lot of young rock bands that are coming out as well. So we’re excited by that. We played with a band called The Dirty Streets last New Year’s Eve, and they’re doing great! It’s a three piece band and they’re awesome! You guys should check them out – they’re great! When you look back on the first two Tora Tora albums, what do you think of them now in retrospect? Man, we’re super proud of them. The producers who worked with us were so great at their jobs! Paul Ebersold and Joe Hardy did the first record and we spent a year working on that. And Wild America we worked with John Hampton and Sir Arthur Payson who had done some work with Ratt and Mitch Malloy. And that record we worked on for two years – we were touring and writing the record at the same time. We were blossoming as Jan/Feb 2020


musicians and players and performers – because we had never traveled until the first record. We brought our experiences in that and we were a little bit more confident in our writing – and Wild America – I kind of lean on that more because we worked on that one for so long – and John Hampton was amazing! He was a great producer. He was a drummer and he came in and he kind of looked at our music in a different way. It was fun man. Both of those records we’re still super proud of. Which bring us to Revolution Day which was finally released on FnA Records. How frustrating was it for this fully realized album to see the light of day? It was pretty wild. This is not being weird or dark or anything, but that was a hard time in our life. We had been really busy for about six years and we had worked on that record for about a year and a half – and then we found out that it was going to get shelved. The label was reconstructing – the A&R guy who had signed us was moving to a new company. We didn’t realize at the time how important it was to have a voice in the corporate wheel – we didn’t know the back office meetings and all those things that were going on. We were just in survival mode out on the road. To get the chance for it to come out was amazing! There were some versions of it that I think somebody may have got off a cassette tape or something that the tempos were funky. And we were thinking about it and we thought if it’s going to be out, let’s just try to do it. We couldn’t get access to the masters, but we did get permission to go and get some of the demos that we cut for it. We were signed to a production deal through Ardent Studios, so they gave us access to some of the material. And just to hear it where it was out and it was in the right tempo. We just felt like we owed a good version of it to the fans.


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It’s been quite a while between albums for you guys. Will we have to wait another decade or two for the next Tora Tora album? Well, we did a letter of intent with Frontiers and we’re working on a new record right now. It will hopefully be delivered in late spring or early summer and it will be out hopefully next year – hopefully in the fall depending on schedules. But we’ll continue promoting Bastards Of Beale through the summer next year and hopefully the new record will be out end of 2020/early 2021. But we’re real excited – we already have music together – Keith came to Nashville and spent a Saturday with me on the couch just going through music and songs and playing. I think we’ve got a couple of great ones already that everybody’s going to like, so we’re happy about that. And Tora Tora is back! We’re back and we’re hanging and we’re hopefully going to do a bunch more shows. We’re getting some new dates on the books. We have a manager and we got a booking agent this past summer, and that kind of moved us along. We had normally been doing a few shows a year – one or two one-offs. But I think it really moved in a different direction this year because of Frontiers – and just going out and seeing the fans man! We’re crazy about going out and playing live. We missed that a lot and we want to stay busy. Tora Tora is Anthony Corderon vocals, Keith Douglas on guitar, Patrick Francis on bass, and John Patterson on drums.


Steven Bradley: The Porterhouse Records Mastermind Goes Solo

Interview by Ken Morton

Best known as the mastermind behind Porterhouse Records as well as the Mixing Engineer on the very first Blink-182 album Cheshire Cat, Steven Bradley has issued his very own solo material at last! Summer Bliss and Autumn Tears is Steven Bradley’s dynamic debut recording, jammed packed with pop rocking goodness listeners will want to revisit time and again. Here are excerpts from an interview I conducted with the one and only Steven Bradley at The Coffee Bean on the Sunset Strip. What made you decide that the time was now to do a record, after all these years? The thing is, the record has sort of been in the wings for a good many years, but it wasn’t until a fuse was lit that everything all of the sudden started rolling together and turned into something. And so, 2019, I’m putting out my own record. The one thing I will say about that is that it was good to take some time. When you work in rock every day - when you’re working on other people’s records every day, you can almost kind of get caught up in a place where you start thinking that other people’s reality is your reality - and it’s not. When you’re making a record for somebody else, you’re there to do a job, and you’ve got to knock it out of the park and do the best you can. I think when I finally said, “Okay, this is it. I’m drawing the line and we’re starting to write now. The record is going to happen now.” So, yes, 2019 was the year. It’s done, it’s in the can. Here we are! Summer Bliss and Autumn Tears, where did you get that title from? A lot of the songs on this record touch on the seasons and touch on time. I think that everybody sort of has a favorite season. I moved out of the basin, and I moved up to the county. I’ve been living in the country for a couple of years when I really started writing and up there at elevation, the seasons happen and you get snow and rain. It’s not like living in the basin. So, all of the sudden, much of anything, they were just kids getting off the ground and I was sort of seasonally surrounded, and then I started realizing that record changed everything for them. that a few of the parallels within the songs I was working on were talking about changing time or changing seasons or moveYou’re currently working with Slick Shoes on a brand new alment. And so, it kind of came into a focal point and the title track bum. Compare the band then and now. Summer Bliss and Autumn Tears is one of the ones that got written When I met Slick Shoes, Ryan Kepke was 14-year-old. He’s now early on in the process. I figured it was maybe going to be sort a grown man with his own family. It’s been a long time, but boy of an anchor for the record. The more I worked on it, the more I does it ever feel like home, and I’m so grateful that they’ve chosen realized it was a cornerstone and at that point, it just sort of became to work with me on this new record for Tooth & Nail. I feel like natural that it ended up being the title track. I would say that it’s we’re going back to that Rusty era, to that Burn Out era. But I come out of this place of time, movement, seasons, changing our also feel like we’ve both learned so much on either side. Jackson lives, the changing in our personal relationships, the change in our Mould was always a great guitarist as a young man; he’s 10 times work relationships, the constant cycle that we’re in at all times in that guitarist now. Joe Nixon was an incredible drummer as a our worlds. I think a lot of us fear change. I think I’m one of those young man with energy, and he’s got all those chops and more style people. But change is inevitable and change is necessary. Change now. We haven’t gotten to vocals yet but I know Ryan’s going to is normal. Change is reality. Go with it! deliver as well. It’s been pretty interesting in the sense that in a lot of cases, you work with bands and then they go on to work with Blink-182, Cheshire Cat. What was that experience like? other producers, and you don’t necessarily have the chance to work That was a train wreck of a record to make. They basically showed with them again. So, I’m actually coming back after 23 years. I up in San Diego with no money, no budget and 17 songs that they couldn’t be more stoked! Stoked for them that Tooth & Nail came had to record. I’m telling you right now, 15 out of the 17 were fanback after all these years and did a three-record deal. They have a tastic, even as kids they were THAT good at writing songs. Unforlive record and a couple of studio records attached to that deal and tunately, we were just curtailed by budget and it kind of went by so, they seem to be getting the support. so quickly. But you know what the funny story about that record - I was driving down Melrose one day and somebody was blasting it Coming up for Steven Bradley: Art Bergmann recordings (reisout of their car. And I was like, “I recognize those songs, I worked sues and a new one!!!) on Porterhouse! on those songs. Who is that band? Oh, I think, that is Blink!” The Info: record opened a lot of doors. They had been a band that hadn’t sold 36 Jan/Feb 2020 HIGHWIRE DAZE

IDOL X - The Billy Idol Live Experience

An Interview with Matthew Eberhart and Robert Sarzo

Interview by Ken Morton Photos by Ben Cottman

Idol X - The Billy Idol Live Experience is a dynamic tribute band from Los Angeles featuring Matthew Eberhart of Motor Betty on vocals and Robert Sarzo of Hurricane and Diane & The Deductibles on guitar. The tribute act has toured all across the country, thrilling audiences with the classic songs of the one and only Billy Idol. Prior to an Ultimate Jam Night appearance, we caught up with Matthew Eberhart and Robert Sarzo to discuss the creation of Idol X... How did the project of Idol X come about and how long has it been going? Matthew: I had a punk band in New York City that was very successful. When I came out here after 9/11, I started to try to revamp it as a three-piece punk band and hired a drummer and a guitarist. And it was very costly to do original music. The drummer I hired was in a tribute band and he suggested I try to do a tribute. I used to have my hair bleached blond and punked out when I did my punk band, so I went back to that look. And I thought I could probably do Billy Idol. I actually had a vision of playing White Wedding in the punk band as a cover song. I had put on a CD and I was going to add it as a cover but make it like a punk rock song. And I don’t know – I just happened naturally. And Robert, how did you become involved with Idol X? Robert: I had been playing with Stephen McGrath that played with Billy Idol for 20-something years. We were doing a show as 80 Proof Vudu – a three-piece band – in San Pedro. And Matthew – I guess he knew Stephen McGrath – and he showed up at the gig and he came up and sang with us. And I thought “That’s cool” because I had been playing some of the Idol songs with Steven – and obviously he knew the songs. And I liked the catalog. After that we stayed in touch, and Matthew asked me to do a show with him at The House Of Blues in Orange County. I said yes and I did the show and really enjoyed it. I found it really interesting that the place was packed and that people enjoyed a tribute band besides national acts – which I was used to doing. Music is music – and it’s just a lot of fun to do. It’s a good catalog! Matthew: I had met Stephen McGrath at Hananos down at Venice Beach on Father’s Day Weekend. And I tried to dress the least amount like Billy that I could look like. And as soon I walked in, they said “Oh, look! Billy just walked in.” So we got talking after the show, and he said “Why don’t you come in next weekend and sing a few songs?” So I sang a few songs with them, and he said, “Man, I want you to come back every time we HIGHWIRE DAZE

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play and sing with the Dog Town Posse.” So I started jamming with them. And then he called me up one day and said “Hey, you want to come up and play with Robert Sarzo.” And Jerry Angel was on drums – he’s the original drummer for The Dickies, Carole King, Dwight Yokum – and now he’s a great friend of mine. And then when that House Of Blues show came about that Robert was talking about, the guitarist I had in the band wasn’t available. It was actually my girlfriend who suggested I call Robert Sarzo to do it. And I was a little hesitant at first, thinking “Man, asking him to do a tribute band?” And she said, “What’s the worst he could say is no.” So I called him up and he said he would love to do it. Everything fell into place after that – and it’s been the perfect pairing of Billy Idol and Steve Stevens for him and I. Tell me about your previous band Motor Betty and what was it like playing the Vans Warped Tour two years in a row? Matthew: Motor Betty – we release out first album in 1997. We were produced by Hillary Johnson who did a lot of hardcore New York City bands. She did our first album. Our second album was done by Don Fury, whose also a big hardcore New Your City producer. We were a very punk rock, three piece band. We did Warped Tour – we used to headline at CBGB’s all the time. I loved doing that music – it was a blast. But unfortunately a lot of those great venues in New York City have closed up and there’s not really a great original music scene in New York City – especially for punk rock anymore. But after 9/11 happened, everything just kind of imploded in itself. The world changed. So I came to LA. What will you guys be doing at NAMM this year? Robert: As Idol X, we’ll be there for Chromacast. We’re performing at 5:30 on Friday in Hall C Booth 6752. And in the New Year we have a lot of shows coming up… Matthew: We have a bunch of shows coming up for 2020. We’re actively working on shows and looking for more and more shows as we can. And people can find us on social media with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook as Idol X Tribute. And our website is 38

Going Her Own Way:

An Interview with Dani Mari Interview by Bret Miller Photo by Fuel Heart Productions Singer and musician Dani Mari popped up on my radar on Reality off of Xeresa’s debut album in 2017 and her name kept appearing in collaboration with Omega Vague on covers for Lush, My Bloody Valentine, Moose and Slowdive, all on TBTCI Records and as Violentene and Primitive Heart, whose latest album is out on Shore Dive Records. I subscribed to her Bandcamp page and quickly learned that Dani has been releasing music since 2010, she’s had many collaborations and has delved into various styles including folk, country, dance, shoegaze and dream pop. She works on several other projects too, supporting musicians and releasing other artists’ works through GrindEthos Records. As the year came to an end I spoke to Dani Mari about her musical endeavors. What is one of your favorite memories associated with music? One of my favorite memories was performing with my dad. He played guitar with my band for one of my shows. He is a great guitar player and also makes acoustic guitars. What instruments do you play? I sing, play guitar, piano and clarinet. What is your training? I was classically trained on piano and was active in choir and band throughout college. I was also classically trained in voice. What bands and collaborators taught you important lessons about yourself and how to sing/perform/book shows/etc.? I opened for Sylvan Esso and was inspired by Amelia’s vocal inflections, style, and stage presence. Her freedom and ability to sing naturally with electronic music inspired me to have the confidence to perform solo without an instrument in front of me. Prior to that, I was performing solo with guitar. Performing by yourself with only a microphone can be daunting and intimidating without the shield of an instrument between you and the audience. Where have you played and where are some of the best audiences? I have performed in many places throughout the US and Europe and recently performed at the Borderland Noise Festival in Tijuana, Mexico. I’m looking forward to performing at Part Time Punks at The Echo in Los Angeles January 12th with Shore Dive Record labelmates Purple Dynamine. Milliken Chamber and Silent Em will also be performing. What might we find you doing between being a musician? 40

Hobbies? Day Jobs? Other talents? I’m the founder of Female Frequency, a community dedicated to empowering female, transgender & non-binary artists through the creation of music that is entirely female generated. I am also the Vice President of GrindEthos, a record label based out of Brooklyn, NY. I enjoy collaborating and have released music and am currently working on new music with Roland Markwort for our project Violentene, Omega Vague and Johnny Butler for our project Cruel Beauty Productions. Johnny and I compose music and create short films based on horror films that inspired us. We have created two trilogies, one inspired by Dario Argento and the other by Wes Craven. Jan/Feb 2020


Where are you from, where do you live now? What are some of the places to perform, see other artists, or network? I’m originally from the Jersey shore and spent many years in Philadelphia. I currently live in Brooklyn. Some of my favorite venues to perform and see a show are Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia and C’mon Everybody and St Vitus in Brooklyn. As an independent musician what are some challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them? It can be challenging balancing personal life with work life. I try to make sure I set boundaries in my work life so I can prioritize spending time with friends and family and make time for myself. Who do you admire from the past? From the present? Why? I admire the owner of Sargent House, Cathy Pelow for the work that she has done to support Chelsea Wolfe, Miserable, DIIV and many other artists that inspire me. You released your new Primitive Heart album No Fear In Love on Shore Dive Records. How did that come about? My album No Fear In Love was released on Vinyl, CD and digitally through Shore Dive Records and GrindEthos on October 25th. Nico (Wardell, label owner) and I collaborated on a few songs and remixes for his projects Beatastic and Xeresa. I reached out to him after he announced the start of Shore Dive Records to see if he wanted to work with me to release No Fear In Love. I’m very grateful for his support. You also went to Brighton and hung out with Nico. Did you


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take the trip to meet Nico? Did you play some shows or see the sights? What was your impression of Mr. Beatastic? Do you think you’ll continue working with him? How was his beard while you visited? I went to England to visit family, check out London and meet Nico in Brighton. We will be working together to release a remix album for No Fear In Love on January 10th and a new EP later in the year. We will also be working together for future releases with Violentene. We have been working together for a few years online. It was great meeting Nico in person. I’m looking forward to working with him on future releases and collaborations. He is a genuine supporter of music and works hard to promote it. Nico also has a great beard. No Fear in Love by Primitive Heart is out now on Shore Dive Records: LINKS:


The Sandgaard Foundation News: 7 Moments that Rocked Us in 2019 “In 2019, what had been small group discussions and my personal sense that there was a new approach that might make a difference in America’s opioid crisis formalized. In March, we formally launched The Sandgaard Foundation to End the Opioid Epidemic. Over the past year, together we have learned so much and have been grateful to be invited to the tables where real change is happening—and have hosted some bold conversations about breaking down barriers to collaboration and lifting the shame surrounding chronic pain, substance use disorder and recovery. Let’s #BandTogether in 2020! Next year, we have even bigger plans to rock the opioid crisis and to crank up the volume on solutions, but before we move forward, we want to take a quick look back to honor the moments and minds that defined 2019.” Humbly, Thomas Sandgaard, Founder

1. USA Today From day one, we knew The Sandgaard Foundation wanted to go big and that would mean a national mission with a momentous launch. We did an interview that ran in USA Today that broadcast our intent across the country. An excerpt: “There’s an increasing sense that a new, louder approach is necessary. Luckily, ‘loud’ is something Thomas Sandgaard, founder of The Sandgaard Foundation to End the Opioid Epidemic, knows well.” “The Foundation is exploring new ways to raise the volume on the crisis. There’s a plan to leverage their social media platforms with provocative content, and will be promoting the #BandTogether discussion during National Public Health Week They also plan to roll out a 360-degree survey to kickstart a conversation about what’s being missed in response to the crisis.”

2. Meeting with Macklemore In May we attended a Recovery Fest fundraiser event organized by national recovery advocate, author and founder of The Voices Project Ryan Hampton where we had the honor of meeting with Benjamin Hammond Haggerty aka Macklemore, an American rapper and songwriter from Seattle, that has released three EPs, and four albums including number one song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The event was a meeting of stakeholders following the inaugural staging of Recovery Fest — a drug and alcohol-free concert and support charities that worked with combating opioid addiction— in September of 2018, that Macklemore headlined. We started a conversation there that’s ongoing. But more on that soon...


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3. Releasing our findings, stating our intentions Then in July, after months of research and bold conversations with leading experts in fundraising and the various aspects of the opioids issue, we released a comprehensive report titled “Funding Solutions to the Opioid Crisis: An Assessment of Needs and Opportunities” identifying national blind spots in funding and key areas that align with its mission to combat the crisis: 1) reducing harm and saving lives; 2) removing the stigma of addiction; and 3) supporting long-term recovery and recovery awareness. The research included interviews with nine grant-maker groups across 13 states, 14 issue experts and nonprofits, in addition to reviews of more than 50 opioid and recovery related websites, articles and reports from various entities.

4. Extra, extra read all about it! “Tighter focus, additional funding crucial to combat opioid crisis, group says” read the headline in over 400 newspapers in communities across the country. “The Denver-based Sandgaard Foundation says the issues related to pain pills can’t be fixed overnight but, with a tighter focus and additional funding, real progress can be made.” “Thomas Sandgaard, founder of the Sandgaard Foundation, told GateHouse Media that plenty of people are engaged in finding a solution, such as pain-management alternatives that don’t involve prescription medication, but there’s still a long way to go.”

5. Initial Grants Once we had done the learning and identified the gaps along with our key areas of focus, we started the process of experimental granting to see what outcomes we could build upon. Our first grantee was the aforementioned Voices Project, for Ryan Hampton’s #MobilizeRecovery event. There we had the honor with connecting with so many on the front lines of the recovery movement and it is not an exaggeration to say that it changed us. Our next grant was to the Opioid Crisis Response Fund, which has a mission that is simple and powerful: to save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible, from opiate-related overdose. In their first year (which ended Sept 2019), OCRF funding prevented 1,295 overdose fatalities (3-4 per day) at an average cost of $110.84 per life saved. That rocks!

6. Thomas took the pledge In September, Thomas in his role as CEO of Zynex Medical and founder of The Sandgaard Foundation, made the decision to be the first CEO of a health and medical company in Colorado to take the Leidos CEO pledge to end opioid addiction. The pledge, which has been signed by dozens of leaders from major U.S. companies, starts: “The opioid epidemic is my problem to help solve. By completing the following form, I pledge that my organization will do what it can to take action.”

7. A jam session like no other On October 1, in an event space just outside of Denver, we hosted a pilot conversation we called a “Jam Session: Inside the Opioid Crisis”. It was a startlingly frank discussion of opioids in policy and in practice from those that have lived it. Thomas spoke as did Ryan Hampton—who is in recovery from opioids—and emergency room doctor Dr. Don Stader. Other notable industry leaders included Christy Hartsell, vice president of the Truth Initiative, Andrew Burki, chief public policy officer of The Hanley Foundation, Carrie Radant, office of advancement for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Jose Esquibel, associate director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and Justin Riley, executive director of Young People in Recovery. BONUS TRACK: When we say #BandTogether, part of what we mean is to harness the volume, directness and healing power of music to tell stories that illuminate the experiences of the opioid crisis. During National Recovery Month and Pain Awareness Month in September, we kicked off a series with Highwire Daze magazine to showcase artists helping to tell the painful stories of addiction and recovery through song. We started by amplifying Melia Maccarone and her song “Sleeping Beauty” that she wrote about the dangers of opioid use. LISTEN and then tune in January 2020 as we bring you more powerful songs about pain and healing.


Jan/Feb 2020


Album Reviews The Guitar & Whiskey Club The Guitar & Whiskey Club Self-Released

by Ken Morton Based out of the beach town of Ventura, California, The Guitar & Whiskey Club is a dynamic collective that any rock and roll fan will want to join up with. Fronted by the charismatic Jennifer Wylde, The Guitar & Whiskey Club recently issued a trio of songs that are destined to garner the band a good deal of respect and admiration above and beyond the confines of Ventura County. Flies Like Whiskey opens like a classic Bobbie Gentry song before exploding into a fully loaded, hard rocking anthem of rage and rebellion. Lone Cowboy presents the members of The Guitar & Whiskey Club exploring power ballad territory with absolutely gripping results. And then We Don’t Care will seriously rock your world with its ripping guitar solos and wildly infectious chorus that will remain spinning in your head long after the song concludes. Founded by guitarist Jeff Donovan and now featuring the pulsating bass work of Andy Hewett from Evolution Eden, The Guitar and Whiskey Club is sure to capture the attention of music fans in 2020 and beyond. They recently opened for Jack Russell’s Great White at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, and will be playing the Silver Lake Lounge on January 25th! Definitely a band well worth seeking out!


Damon’s Rage Jesse Damon AOR Heaven

by Ken Morton In the beginnings of what would be the vast and varied career of Jesse Damon, his band Silent Rage worked with the one and only Gene Simmons of KISS and would find themselves on a North American Tour supporting the likes of Black Sabbath! With an equally impressive solo output, Jesse Damon has amassed a rather impressive collection of material. Damon’s Rage is the latest and greatest from Jesse Damon, as well as his first endeavor on the AOR Heaven imprint. Also featuring the participation of highly acclaimed AOR artist Paul Sabu, Damon’s Rage is a massively fully realized effort that will dazzle the senses of melodic rock fanatics! From the opening refrains of Play To Win, Damon’s Rage unHIGHWIRE DAZE

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leashes instantly memorable songs that soar into the stratosphere. Sweeping hooks and vibrant choruses abound, with selections such as Love Gone Wild, Electric Passion, Tell Me Lili, and Here Comes Trouble enrapturing the listener. Each and every track on this album could be a staple on worldwide radio airwaves – if only songs this dynamic were still played on these stations! Damon’s Rage is a treasure trove of rocking goodness that music fans will want to revisit time and again. We are only a few weeks into the New Year, but Jesse Damon is certainly kick starting it all off with an album destined to be on more than a few Top Ten Lists when 2020 spins to its breakneck conclusion. Here’s hoping we hear a lot more from the inspired collaboration of Damon and Sabu in future days!


Gathering Darkness The Militants Aggressive Records

by Ken Morton The Militants is the heavy metal creation of Charlie Zeigler, whose passion and conviction for the genre permeates throughout his collective work. Gathering Darkness is the name of The Militants latest sonic manifesto – eight kickass selections of supreme intensity that will rip through your soul and set your imagination in flight. Inspired by all types of extreme death metal, old school black metal, and punk rock, Charlie Zeigler, co-conspirator Stone Clement and The Militants unleash an auditory fury that is subversively imaginative. The wild ride into the Gathering Darkness commences with Fire Never Dies, letting the listener know at once the rapturous intrigue The Militants has in store for your ears. Killer cuts found within include Chess Of Death, Blackened Sunrise, and Fourth Dimension. The standout title cut Gathering Darkness is a metal classic in the making, with Zeigler at his most profound, combining searing death metal with superbly endearing spaghetti western style guitar interludes. Be sure to stay through to the end and experience the mind blowing devastation as you Spin The Devil’s Wheel. Gathering Darkness is the next great chapter for The Militants, and it’s a warzone of sound that’s not to be missed. Charlie Zeigler storms the gates of the genre, and the results are sure to inspire all who give a listen to its exhilarating reveries. Be sure to check into Gathering Darkness by The Militants and support Charlie Zeigler, a truly exciting DIY artist on our local metal scene!

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Product Review by James Grover CLING ON PICK UP and TUNER Cling On Pick Up I have had the privilege to try out the CLING ON Musical Instrument Magnetic Pick Up and Magnetic Headstock tuner. The Pick Up is very simple to use as it clings on with an internal magnet that is placed inside the instrument. After using the product on my Acoustic guitar I was impressed. It has an on board volume potentiometer to control the signal to the amp. I noticed by keeping the volume on the unit relatively low and I used the amplifier to push the sound which sounded amazing for an “on body” guitar pick up. If you want to go stereo you can install 2 external pick-ups on the instrument and use two amplifiers for a full body sound. Overall I do recommend this product for live performances for guitars, violins, ukuleles, cellos and any instrument in value that you don’t want to drill into and reduce the value of the instrument. The cling on does not harm the finish and it does not require any modification to the instrument you decide to use it on.

Cling On Tuner The Cling on Tuner is very easy to use chromatic tuner that installs with a magnet, it does not have a clamp so it hides along the back of the headstock so it’s not visible to the audience. After using the tuner I noticed it has a very decent large screen and visible on stage and off, its sensitive and very accurate. I do recommend this product for any string instrument. This tuner does not require any modifications to install. Now for what I think about the products in this review is that it’s a great solution to fast amplification for an instrument that does not have internal electronics for amplification. I give two thumbs up on both these products. Job well done by Cling On... Information: Reach James Grover at: HIGHWIRE DAZE

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EDITOR KEN’S TOP 10 OF 2019 What a terrific year for music 2019 has been! It’s been absolutely difficult to hear everything that’s arrived through the email of Highwire Daze magazine, but what an exhilarating challenge it has been overall. Older bands such as Black Star Riders, Borknagar and Spread Eagle presented career defining albums. Newer collectives such as Diane & The Deductibles, Holding Absence and The Stolen have presented powerhouse albums that should garner them a good deal of admiration and respect. Here is Editor Ken’s listing of the Top 10 Albums and EP’s of 2019 – in alphabetical order – showing yet again his very diverse and unpredictable taste in music. Read on…

EDITOR KEN’S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2019 ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE BY BLACK STAR RIDERS (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS) Another State Of Grace is the fourth magnum opus for Black Star Riders, jammed packed with rock and roll anthems that will absolutely exhilarate the senses. A recent tour supporting Judas Priest has placed Black Star Riders on the worldwide map – not to mention their rocking linage, as the band features Ricky Warwick of The Almighty and legendary guitarist Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy within their ranks. Unveiling a solid collection of songs that will stand the test of time, Another State Of Grace presents a band at the very height of the career – not only extending the legacy of the iconic Thin Lizzy, but further pursuing a new entity whose current sonic output has been thoroughly impressive. 50

TRUE NORTH BY BORKNAGAR (CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS) Øystein G. Brun and his comrades in the almighty Borknagar have journeyed to True North, unleashing a masterwork of staggering proportions. The avant-garde Black Metal pioneers and innovators from Norway are at the pinnacle of their artistry with True North, their 11th studio magnum opus album. All this and Borknagar will be touring the States in 2020 on the Devastation On The Nation tour – their 1st since traversing the continent supporting the infamous Emperor on the Kings Of Terror Tour in 1999. True North is jammed packed with imagination and depth, and is well worth travelling the corners of the world to seek out. UNBROKEN BY CARL DIXON (AOR HEAVEN) Carl Dixon of the epically underrated Canadian hard rock band Coney Hatch has unveiled a new solo endeavor entitled Unbroken – and the 11 songs contained within are nothing short of a triumph for this inspirational artist. Unbroken is a collaboration between Carl Dixon and Robert Boebel, whose own impressive credits within the German music scene include Frontline and Phantom V. One of the most fully realized AOR melodic rock albums of the year, highlights include memorable selections such as Can’t Love A Memory, Bowl Me Over, and Nothing Lasts Forever. TWO BY DIANE & THE DEDUCTIBLES (DRAIA PRODUCTIONS) A classic rock band with a thoroughly original modern day approach, Diane & The Deductibles present TWO upon Jan/Feb 2020


the world at large. Featuring members of Air Supply, Geoff Tate’s Queensryche, and Hurricane, the songs found within are empowering and inspired. Fronted by a powerhouse vocal performance from Diane Adams and featuring the mesmerizing guitar tapestries of Robert Sarzo and Keith Lynch – as well as the jamming rhythm section of bassist Cliff Rehrig and drummer Ronnie Ciago – Diane & The Deductibles will absolutely enrapture fans of acts such as Heart and Bonnie Riatt. HOLDING ABSENCE BY HOLDING ABSENCE (SHARPTONE RECORDS) Containing a stunning amalgamation of post hardcore and shoegaze reveries, the Self-Titled debut album from Holding Absence is nothing short of mesmerizing. From the staggering implementations of Perish to the haunting grand finale of Wilt, the passion and dynamic sense of urgency found within the Holding Absence experience certainly renders these tapestries as one of the very best debuts of 2019. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for Holding Absence and their music that moves the soul and the sets the imagination in flight. 48 SECONDS BY PHIL LANZON (PHIL LANZON DITTIES) Phil Lanzon has experienced an absolutely epic last few years with his main band Uriah Heep, weaving his keyboard magic upon the proceedings. The thrilling reveries continue with 48 Seconds, Lanzon’s second solo album that vibrantly tantalizes the senses. Jammed packed with dazzling rock and pop tapestries with highlights such as Forty Line, Rock N’ Roll Children, and You Can Make A Living, 48 Hours presents an artist at the very height of his creative energies. And be sure to stay until the end and experience the seismic title track about the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. SUBWAY TO THE STARS BY SPREAD EAGLE (FRONTIERS MUSIC SRL) Even hardcore fans of Spread Eagle could color themselves absolutely amazed by this astounding comeback entreaty. Subway To The Stars goes well beyond Spread Eagle’s sleaze/ hair metal roots – it’s a thoroughly ambition album that reaches stratospheric heights! Featuring the participation of original members Rob De Luca (also in UFO) and Ray West (also in Weapons Of Anew), Spread Eagle is ready to bring their NYC Street Metal to a whole new generation of fans. Spread Eagle plan to tour in 2020, so expect a galactic thrill ride of live performance featuring selections from all three of their albums! THE STOLEN BY THE STOLEN (REVIVAL RECORDINGS) The Stolen is a remarkable indie pop rocking outfit from New Jersey whose inaugural full length is jammed packed with absolutely timeless songs. Featuring jangly guitars, sweeping melodies and resourceful musicianship, The Stolen is destined to capture the hearts of music fans worldwide with this auditory gem of a recording. From the gorgeously spiraling sounds of Overboard, the sheer perceptive brilliance of Millennial, the vibrantly hypnotic Only In The Night and beyond, The Stolen HIGHWIRE DAZE

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unveil ultra-vivid reveries of pure pop perfection. It will be exciting to see where the New Year has in store for this outstanding collective. BIG BLUE WORLD BY UNRULY CHILD (FRONTIERS MUSIC SRL) Unruly Child has always possessed a wistful, wide-eyed wonder to their progressive rock compositions. Featuring members who have been in acts such as World Trade, King Kobra, and even the Doobie Brothers, Unruly Child unveils a lineup that is more than capable of imagination and innovation. Big Blue World is the name of their latest magnum opus, and it’s an auditory journey that will impact the senses with its exhilarating soundscapes and passionate vocals. Always in a state of challenge and evolution, here’s hoping Unruly Child make their way to the States for some live shows – in the meantime, travel into the auditory empire of Big Blue World and prepare for an electrifying ride of a lifetime. Top selections include Dirty Little Girl, Down and Dirty, and All Over The World. VOLUME ONE BY WEST BOUND (FRONTIERS MUSIC SRL) Chas West has made quite a name for himself lending his remarkable vocals to The Jason Bonham Band and Resurrection Kings. Volume One is the debut for his new project West Bound, and what an exhilarating album this is! From the inspiring opening refrains of Never Surrender to the reflective Dance Of Life and beyond, West Bound channel such greats of Led Zeppelin and Ronnie James Dio, while weaving their own imaginative take onto the proceedings. West is a powerhouse of a vocalist, and along with amazing performances from Jimmy Burkard, Roy Z, Dave “Chili” Moreno, and Jason Cornwell, West Bound exudes a passion for hard rock that is epic in scope!


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Missing Persons, Josie Cotton Diane & The Deductibles

The Canyon Montclair, December 13, 2019

Review by Ken Morton - Photos by Ben Cottman

New wave 80’s icons Missing Persons and Josie Cotton were joined by rockers Diane & The Deductibles at The Canyon Montclair – and what a vibrant amalgamation of female fronted talent the audience would be presented with! Diane & The Deductibles started the evening off with their absolutely inspired modern day vision of classic rock. Fronted by the passionate vocals of Diane Adams, Diane & The Deductibles opened with the dazzling refrains of Frontline, an instantly memorable selection from their TWO album that certainly captured the audience’s attention early on. The poignant reveries of Never Say Goodbye and Darkness left an indelible impression followed by the shouldbe hit single Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say. And then closing out the set was an inspiring new anthem entitled You’re A Winner. In addition to the dynamic performance of Diane Adams on lead vocals and guitar, Diane & The Deductibles possess a powerhouse lineup, including Robert Sarzo (Geoff Tate’s Queensryche, Hurricane, Idol X) on guitar, Keith Lynch (Bill Ward band) on guitar, Cliff Rehrig (Air Supply) on bass, and Ronnie Ciago (River Dogs, Brand X) on drums. Watch for the unveiling of their new album THREE sometime in 2020! Josie Cotton and her band were up next, performing their own super infectious brand of new wave. Kicking off the set with the hit single He Could Be The One from the first album Convertible Music, Josie Cotton had the audience on their feet and singing along at the very start of the set. Josie looked absolutely fabulous, and the playful songs that followed were imaginative and stylish. There were even go-go dancers brought onstage at one point, adding to the fun atmosphere of the evening. Highlights of the set included Josie’s new single Ukrainian Cowboy, which added an ironic timely spin to the proceedings. Boulevard from Josie’s recently issued lost album Everything Is Oh Yeah was lush and romantic while License To Dance once again demonstrated why this song should have been an all-out massive hit single. After a rousing rendition of Let’s Do The Blackout, Josie and her band exploded into a vibrant rendition of the classic Johnny Are You Queer? – a song that has given Josie Cotton fame, admiration, and at times infamy. And just a side note, Josie Cotton bassist Cherish Alexander is an impressive artist who has a wonderful new album called Meet Me Where You Are that is well worth seeking out. Missing Persons took to the stage for their headlining set, opening the show with a spiraling performance of Mental Hopscotch, still wickedly effective and impactful after all of these years. One notices right away the warm and gracious stage presence of the legendary Dale Bozzio, whose trademark vocals send the classic songs soaring into the stratosphere. Also joining within the current ranks of Missing Persons is Prescott Niles of The Knack, whose superb bass work gives the songs such a tremendous low end. Among the crowd favorites performed were Words, Destination Unknown, and Walking In L.A. Just watching Dale and her band rock out together was pure inspiration, demonstrating the intriguing timelessness of Missing Persons and how massively talented this current lineup is! Be sure to catch Missing Persons and Diane & The Deductibles at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on February 1st! Discount tickets available at 52

Jan/Feb 2020


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Highwire Daze Magazine Issue #128  

Highwire Daze Magazine Issue #128 featuring Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and British Lion, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Roger Earl of Fogha...

Highwire Daze Magazine Issue #128  

Highwire Daze Magazine Issue #128 featuring Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and British Lion, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Roger Earl of Fogha...