Posts tagged with "Q&A"

LINKIN PARK

LINKIN PARK
LINKIN PARK High-energy heavy hitters finally discover the perfect mix of rock and rap Linkin Park is on a roll. After releasing albums sporadically for most of their first decade, the Los Angeles rap-rockers have picked up the pace with two more since 2010, including Living Things, their latest. “We want to put out more music, more often,” says singer Chester Bennington. “The first six years of our career we released two records that took... 

MERLE HAGGARD

MERLE HAGGARD
MERLE HAGGARD After beating lung cancer, “The Hag” still is who he is Merle Haggard’s new album is called I Am What I Am, but that title could have been affixed to almost anything he’s recorded during his nearly half-century as one of America’s most stubbornly self-possessed singers and songwriters. He has built a body of work unequaled in the country genre, one created on clear-eyed slice-of-life classics like “Okie From Muskogee,”... 

JACK JOHNSON

JACK JOHNSON
JACK JOHNSON  The master of laid-back acoustic folk-pop rides the waves of success By Russell Hall Some of Jack Johnson’s best ideas for songs come when he’s alone—on a surfboard. “I learned to play guitar to sit on the front porch and have sing-alongs,” he says. “Ultimately songs are there to share—it’s a social thing. But surfing is an escape for me, a way to have solitude and reflect on things. I do more writing in the ocean than... 

ICONA POP

ICONA POP
ICONA POP A monster hit launches a club-friendly debut album for the Swedish duo   From radio to TV ads to movies, Icona Pop’s “I Love It” has infiltrated every corner of pop culture. “I didn’t expect over 40 million views on YouTube,” says Aino Jawo. She and Caroline Hjelt formed the duo in 2009 and recently released their debut album, This Is…Icona Pop. “We went out clubbing and heard our song in every one,” says Jawo. “We... 

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant Overcoming fear leads to inspiration for the indie rockers’ latest Cage the Elephant picked an odd title for their third album, Melophobia. The name refers to a fear of music, which seems like an unfortunate condition for a group of musicians. In the case of the Kentucky quintet, though, they’re only averse to certain types of music—specifically, the kind that doesn’t feel honest. “We were trying to fight that voice of... 

EARTH, WIND & FIRE

EARTH, WIND & FIRE
EARTH, WIND & FIRE                          R&B’s legendary performers revisit their iconic sound on a new set     “It was a totally different thing, and when you have the right thing at the right time, you can’t stop it,” says Ralph Johnson, who’s been Earth, Wind & Fire’s percussionist since 1971, just two years after the group formed. Earth, Wind & Fire was a force of nature through the 1970s and ’80s,... 

KENNY ROGERS

KENNY ROGERS
KENNY ROGERS The Gambler rolls the dice on his dream of making chart history at 75    “My current audience falls into two groups,” says Kenny Rogers. “Those born after 1980 whose parents made them listen to my music as child abuse, and those born before the ’60s who can no longer remember that decade.” That’s a typical self-deprecating comment from one of this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame inductees—an honor that Rogers says... 

SAMMY HAGAR

SAMMY HAGAR
SAMMY HAGAR The Red Rocker marks a milestone with an album full of famous friends   In 1973, Sammy Hagar recorded one of the great rock screams of all time on the intro of Montrose’s “Rock Candy.” It was only the first of many howls to come from a 26-year-old kid who would go on to a singular career that included hit records as a solo artist and as frontman for bands like Van Halen and Chickenfoot. Four decades later there’s no end in sight—and... 

WILL LEE

WILL LEE
WILL LEE Late night TV’s ace of bass releases a star-studded solo project   His nightly gig on the Late Show With David Letterman makes Will Lee one of America’s most visible bassists. Since 1982, Lee has excelled in the pressure cooker of live TV, backing countless guest stars. He also tours with Israeli guitarist Oz Noy and takes the stage weekly with the Fab Faux, a group that performs stunning recreations of the Beatles catalog. Now Lee... 

GREG KURSTIN

GREG KURSTIN
GREG KURSTIN Blazing his own trail from jazz scholar to pop hit-maker By Michael Gallant He’s produced a bevy of wildly successful artists including Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Ke$ha, Tegan and Sara, James Blunt, Dido and the Shins. But Greg Kurstin came to his hit-making career through an unconventional route—as a student of jazz piano. “I loved arranging songs and finding different voicings for chords,” says Kurstin, who studied at New York’s... 

THE BAND PERRY

THE BAND PERRY
THE BAND PERRY Guidance from a production guru yields a meticulously crafted album   After the success of the Band Perry’s 2010 debut album and multiplatinum smash “If I Die Young,” the family band was uncertain about their follow-up record, Pioneer. So the country trio trekked to Malibu, Calif., to hone their songs with the man they called the Song Doctor, producer Rick Rubin—and hone they did. “Every song we wrote, we rewrote again and... 

PAUL WILLIAMS

PAUL WILLIAMS
PAUL WILLIAMS The once-ubiquitous songwriter returns to stage, screen—and Capitol Hill Paul Williams became wildly successful for penning romantic 1970s hits including “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “An Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Evergreen.” But behind the scenes Paul Williams battled demons of addiction. “I did 48 Tonight shows,” he says. “I remember six.” Goodbye, Johnny Carson; hello, Betty Ford. Today, more than 20 years clean... 

ALICE IN CHAINS

ALICE IN CHAINS
ALICE IN CHAINS Setting the musical bar high and releasing no album before its time      In July 2011, Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell began working on the band’s new record, but the process proved too painful—not artistically but physically. The guitarist was experiencing severe shoulder pain and underwent surgery to remove bone deposits. A nightmarish scenario for any guitar player, Cantrell wrote it off as an occupational hazard.... 

STEPHEN STILLS

STEPHEN STILLS
STEPHEN STILLS His career at 60 years and counting, an icon looks back—and forward By Jeff Tamarkin Even at 82 tracks packed onto four CDs, Carry On, the new Stephen Stills retrospective boxed set, barely scratches the surface of one of rock’s most iconic careers. After all, how can one afternoon’s listening encapsulate a half-century of creativity? We first heard Stills in 1966 with Buffalo Springfield (“For What It’s Worth” remains... 

BOZ SCAGGS

BOZ SCAGGS
BOZ SCAGGS  The genre-blending genius takes on classic songs in a historic studio  By Jeff Tamarkin Play Boz Scaggs’ 44-year-old debut album, his 1976 multiplatinum megahit Silk Degrees, or his pair of standards records from the past decade, and one constant emerges from his music: He remains true to his vision, finding that sweet spot where R&B, pop, jazz, blues and rock intersect and then customizing it. Scaggs’ attention to detail, level... 

ROBYN HITCHOCK

ROBYN HITCHOCK
ROBYN HITCHCOCK   The enduring godfather of alt-rock is still full of sonic surprises  By Russell Hall  If Robyn Hitchcock never again hears the word “quirky,” that’ll be just fine with him. “I think what people mean is that, for me, an idea can come from anywhere,” he says. “They come from under the table, from behind the sofa, or from the back of a cupboard. They’re not the first places everybody looks. I suppose you could call... 

THE GAME

THE GAME
THE GAME A chart-topping rapper takes on the concept of religion  “I just feel free,” says the Game. “I’ve got good friends, I’m eating right, working out, doing my music. That’s how I feel.” That’s pretty good for the Compton, Calif., native, who was nearly shot to death when a drug deal went awry in 2001. Even after being signed by Dr. Dre in 2003, the artist born Jayceon Taylor feuded with 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Dre, leaving the... 

ERIC BURDON

ERIC BURDON
ERIC BURDON One of rock’s most distinctive voices gets personal with a new album   Ask Eric Burdon what’s on his mind and he says, “Being successful at my next gig.” After a half-century of lending his voice to hits, including “The House of the Rising Sun,” “It’s My Life,” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” for British Invasion band the Animals, and offering funk icons War their first taste of stardom in 1970 with “Spill... 

RICHARD THOMPSON

RICHARD THOMPSON
RICHARD THOMPSON The British folk-rock hero makes an Americana connection on his latest Richard Thompson is not content to stay in one musical place. Since the 1960s, when his ace guitar skills led Fairport Convention into the rarified league of groundbreaking musicians who invented British folk rock, he’s been something of a human prism, shifting and turning his talents to spotlight musical beauty—sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, as when... 

AARON NEVILLE

AARON NEVILLE
AARON NEVILLE An American treasure revisits the music that honed his otherworldly vocals   Aaron Neville has sung R&B, gospel and country, everywhere from Bourbon Street to Sesame Street, but now he’s returning to the street-corner sounds he’s loved since boyhood with his doo-wop record, My True Story. For the new album, Neville’s first on Blue Note Records, he called label president Don Was, who in turn reached out to longtime doo-wop... 

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON On his new album, a legendary storyteller sizes up a life well lived  At 76, Kris Kristofferson is as focused on his art as he was four decades ago. “For me, the creative part is when I write it and get it on tape,” he says. “After that, I really don’t have anything to do with the business part of it. Let the others do the hard part.” Kristofferson—whose résumé includes Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, actor,... 

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT Family love and loss provides inspiration for her new album   Music has always been a family affair for Martha Wainwright. She’s the daughter of Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle, niece of Anna McGarrigle, sister to Rufus Wainwright, and wife of bassist Brad Albetta, who plays in her band. It’s no surprise that family changes—the birth of her son, Arcangelo, followed months later by the death of her mother in early 2010—impacted... 

BRANFORD MARSALIS

BRANFORD MARSALIS
BRANFORD MARSALIS  Some call it magic but for this sax genius it’s just “playin’ tunes”  By Jeff Tamarkin  Branford Marsalis has never been one to hold back. The 52-year-old tenor and soprano saxophonist freely says and plays what he wants. So the title of his quartet’s new release Four MFs Playin’ Tunes shouldn’t shock anyone—but it does. “A writer came to the session and asked my least favorite question: ‘What’s the concept... 

JOSS STONE

JOSS STONE
JOSS STONE The neo-soul sensation wraps her vocals around a new set of classics Joss Stone was a nervous 16-year-old kid in 2003 when The Soul Sessions made her a star, thanks to its old-school grooves and the slinky hit “Fell in Love With a Boy,” a vivid reworking of a White Stripes song. Nearly a decade later, the British singer decided she’d like another crack at it. She re-teamed with Soul Sessions producer Steve Greenberg for her latest... 

THE AVETT BROTHERS

THE AVETT BROTHERS
Bob Crawford, Scott Avett, Seth Avett THE AVETT BROTHERS Creative challenges keep these Americana darlings moving forward   One would think a band with as many influences as the Avett Brothers would have an extensive list of dream collaborations or future goals. But the North Carolina-based trio prefers to live in the moment, an attitude that’s helped them deal with the fame that comes after scoring multiple Americana Music Awards and performing... 

REGINA SPEKTOR

REGINA SPEKTOR
REGINA SPEKTOR This quirky Russian-American original lets her art speak for itself     Regina Spektor’s current world tour included two stops in Russia—the homeland she hasn’t visited since her family moved to the Bronx 23 years ago. “It feels incredibly big and emotional and overwhelming,” she said prior to the trip. “I’m also excited to see who will come to my show. Are there fans in Russia?” She needn’t have wondered. After... 

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM
Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, Brian Fallon, Benny Horowitz THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM For their latest project, the folk-punk rockers go bigger and bolder   Accolades piled up fast after Gaslight Anthem’s 2010 album, American Slang, but the New Jersey band shut out as much of the hype as possible to focus on writing music for their latest, Handwritten. “Really, you just want to make great songs,” says drummer Benny Horowitz. “That’s where it... 

JOHN LYDON

JOHN LYDON
PiL: Bruce Smith, Scott Firth, John Lydon, Lu Edmonds JOHN LYDON   The former Johnny Rotten on PiL, the Pistols and the gift of life    “I can’t be linked to one thing forever and a day,” declares John Lydon. “There’s a big musical universe out there for me to float around in. I love pop music and I love experimental music.” While much of the world never stopped thinking of Lydon as “Johnny Rotten,” the snarling lead singer of... 

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO Exploring the world around him, from the streets of Mexico to the sky    Austin-based singer and songwriter Alejandro Escovedo often finds himself pigeonholed as an alt-country act. But the man who—lest we forget—was a founding member of pioneering punk band the Nuns and roots-rockers Rank and File and True Believers, is a rocker at heart. “If you look at my solo records and the bands I’ve been in, at the core of it... 

SHAWN COLVIN

SHAWN COLVIN
SHAWN COLVIN Feeling at home with some of music’s greatest singers and songwriters It’s been 15 years since Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home” catapulted the singer-songwriter into the mainstream. Since then the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has collaborated with artists from James Taylor and Béla Fleck to Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sting. For All Fall Down, Colvin adds to that list producer Buddy Miller (who recorded the album at his... 

JOE BONAMASSA

JOE BONAMASSA
JOE BONAMASSA A guitar master enjoys an overnight success decades in the making  Joe Bonamassa nurses a sore neck as he discusses his new album, Driving Towards the Daylight—the result of too much headbanging onstage the night before. “We added a bit of ‘Still of the Night’ by Whitesnake,” he muses. “Maybe that’s what wrenched out my neck.” Bonamassa, 35, isn’t letting a wrenched-out neck slow him down now. He’s an acknowledged... 

GARBAGE

GARBAGE
GARBAGE Pioneering alt-rockers push forward, leaving the labels and the ’90s behind   On the eve of Garbage’s first tour in more than seven years, guitarist Duke Erikson is puzzled. “I’m trying to figure out how the hell to pack all this stuff,” he says, facing an unruly pile of clothes. “I can’t remember how I did this before.” Luckily, he and his bandmates had no such trouble reminding themselves of the chemistry that propelled... 

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—now let’s dance      After spending a few years exploring esoteric pursuits like composing the opera Prima Donna and staging a Judy Garland tribute at Carnegie Hall, Rufus Wainwright was ready to aim for the mainstream. “My listeners have been very patient with my little dalliances,” he says. “So I wanted to give them the kind of record you can bring to a party and... 

JOAN OSBORNE

JOAN OSBORNE
JOAN OSBORNE  Bringing it on home to the blues and soul of her early days  From the moment she lit into Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Help Me” on her triple-platinum 1995 debut, Relish, it was clear that Kentucky-born Joan Osborne had a natural feel for gutbucket blues. She’s explored those roots regularly ever since, but never so directly as on her new album, the all-covers affair Bring It On Home. With the help from her co-producer and... 

ESPERANZA SPALDING

ESPERANZA SPALDING
ESPERANZA SPALDING  A rising jazz star talks pop, popularity and the lure of the radio  The internet was abuzz when the name of last year’s Best New Artist winner was announced at the Grammys: Oregon-born jazz singer and bass player Esperanza Spalding. She triumphed over better-known names like teen idol Justin Bieber, whose fans’ over-the-top outrage extended to online death threats. “I don’t take it personally,” says Spalding, 27.... 

LIONEL RICHIE

LIONEL RICHIE
LIONEL RICHIE A country boy from Tuskegee reconnects with his unlikely roots  By Russell Hall Lionel Richie is a giant of soul, R&B and pop music, having scored hit singles and sold albums in the multimillions since the mid-1970s—first with his group the Commodores and, since 1982, as a solo artist. But the music that first caught the ear of this Tuskegee, Ala., native was very different from either the dance-floor funk of the Commodores or... 

THE CRANBERRIES

THE CRANBERRIES
THE CRANBERRIES Dolores O’Riordan and company bring the magic back to life  the Cranberries skyrocketed to international fame with their debut, 1993’s quintuple-platinum Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? But by 2003, it was time for the Irish group to take a breather. “I just wanted to not be in the Cranberries and not be famous,” says frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan. After making two solo albums, O’Riordan recently reunited... 

DIERKS BENTLEY

DIERKS BENTLEY
DIERKS BENTLEY A country superstar crisscrosses America to find home     “The last year’s been a blur of  asphalt, recording studios and songwriting,” says Arizona native Dierks Bentley, 36. “It’s hard work, but I love what I do. Every record you make, you have to pour more of yourself into it.” His previous effort, 2009’s Up on the Ridge, found him exploring bluegrass and roots music—but the new Home is a return to the muscular... 

KATE BUSH

KATE BUSH
KATE BUSH For this pioneering songstress, inspiration literally fell from the sky   “Shimmerglisten.” “Creaky-creaky.” “Boomerangablanca.” The Eskimos don’t really have 50 words for snow, but Kate Bush does. Featuring guest turns from Elton John, Stephen Fry and Bush’s 12-year-old son Bertie, her new 50 Words for Snow album is a quietly riveting meditation on the white stuff. “I started thinking about how it feels when it snows,... 

THE FRAY

THE FRAY
THE FRAY The journey to success was tough—and they have the scars to prove it “This is the first time we got to make the record we wanted to,” declares Isaac Slade of the Fray’s third album, Scars & Stories. The group went through plenty to reach that point. Formed by singer and pianist Slade, guitarists Dave Welsh and Joe King and drummer Ben Wysocki in the early-2000s church-music scene in Denver, the Fray found its secular breakthrough... 

KEITH JARRETT

KEITH JARRETT
KEITH JARRETT After four decades, a piano giant still plucks inspiration from thin air By Jeff Tamarkin Jazz is in part the art of improvisation—and legendary pianist Keith Jarrett takes the concept to its extreme. Up until the moment he presses down the keys, he hasn’t a clue as to how he will begin or what will follow. “There’s this nanosecond, or maybe it’s an eternity, between sitting at the piano ready to play something and actually... 

SEAN GARRETT

SEAN GARRETT
SEAN GARRETT    Does this R&B hitmaker want to change the world through music? Yeah!             By Michael Gallant Atlanta native Sean Garrett grew up the son of an Army man, moving along with his family to wherever his father might be stationed. Everywhere he found himself, including a variety of military bases across England and Germany, young Garrett had his ears wide open. “Living abroad and listening to so many variations of music... 

ANI DiFRANCO

ANI DiFRANCO
ANI DiFRANCO  A hard-driving, hard-rocking modern folk pioneer learns to take her time  For a decade and a half, Ani DiFranco was among the most prolific acts you could name. Between 1990 and 2007, the Buffalo, N.Y., native released 16 studio albums of new material, not to mention a handful of live collections, compilations and EPs. But the latest, ¿Which Side Are You On?, is her first new offering in almost four years—and the primary reason... 

THE LITTLE WILLIES

THE LITTLE WILLIES
THE LITTLE WILLIES Norah Jones, Richard Julian and company take a side trip into the country    “It’s like eating a big bowl of my grandma’s macaroni and cheese,” jazz-pop superstar Norah Jones says of her childhood love for country music. “It feels nostalgic.” Today she expresses that fondness in part with the Little Willies, the group she first helped form in 2003 with singer and guitarist Richard Julian, guitarist Jim Campilongo,... 

JUDY COLLINS

JUDY COLLINS
JUDY COLLINS Looking back honestly on the bitter and sweet, in song and otherwise  Not many lives would include enough excitement for three memoirs, but Judy Collins’ is the exception. She has been a troubadour of the ’60s folk boom; accomplished composer; interpreter for the likes of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell; founder of her own Wildflower Records label and relentless social advocate. She was famously the inspiration for the... 

CHRIS THILE AND YO-YO MA

CHRIS THILE AND YO-YO MA
CHRIS THILE AND YO-YO MA Two master musicians (plus two more) throw a genre-busting rodeo The rhythmic cascade of Chris Thile’s mandolin kicks off “Attaboy,” the first track of a new album with the unlikely title The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Thile is known for virtuosity and whimsy, so neither the bluegrass chops nor the album title is a surprise. But 32 seconds into “Attaboy,” a deeper-toned, bowed instrument unexpectedly takes the melody.... 

STANLEY JORDAN

STANLEY JORDAN
STANLEY JORDAN Still reinventing the sound of jazz, with the aid of some talented friends  By Jeff Tamarkin “To me, I’m just playing guitar,” says Stanley Jordan. “Then somebody points out the technique and I remember, ‘Yeah, it’s weird.’” Most musicians would be loath to describe their own performance method as “weird.” But Jordan, who first astonished the jazz world more than a quarter-century ago, is well aware that his trademark... 

JIMMY JAM AND TERRY LEWIS

JIMMY JAM AND TERRY LEWIS
JIMMY JAM AND TERRY LEWIS    The time is always right for this iconic R&B production partnership            By Michael Gallant “Production is about getting it done and getting it to be the best it can possibly be,” says James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III. Over the last several decades he and partner Terry Lewis have racked up a stunning roster of production credits for names including Michael Jackson, Usher, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion,... 

RAY MANZAREK

RAY MANZAREK
RAY MANZAREK From the Doors to the blues, a keyboard legend finds poetry in music   By Russell Hall  “I’ve been lucky to have lots of poet friends,” says Ray Manzarek. “Poets are great to work with.” For example, the legendary keyboardist’s new album with slide guitar great Roy Rogers, Translucent Blues, features lyrics from some of rock’s finest wordsmiths, including Michael McClure, Jim Carroll and Warren Zevon. That string of luck... 

PETER GABRIEL

PETER GABRIEL
PETER GABRIEL  Injecting new blood into familiar songs with his biggest band ever Peter Gabriel has been exploring rhythm for practically his entire life. He played drums in rock bands as a teen, before his legendary stint as lead singer for English progressive-rock band Genesis. Since his departure from that group, he has relentlessly incorporated rhythms from around the world and from the cutting edge of technology into his solo music—be it... 
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