Interview >> Guitarist Billy Martin From Good Charlotte

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Good Charlotte’s guitar player, Billy Martin over the phone about the band’s upcoming album Cardiology. We talked about the recording process, how the band switched producers and record labels, and keeping up with their devoted fans.

First off, I just wanted to thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

Yeah, no problem.

How does it feel to be releasing your fifth album?

It’s amazing. Honestly, we think about that more than a lot of the other things that we get to do. Nowadays, longevity seems to be the hardest thing to maintain. I think really we just owe it to having good fans. They keep supporting us, it feels good.

Was the recording process for this album different than it had been for previous albums?

A little bit. When you’re five people, everybody has different ideas that everybody wants to do that has a different sort of end result. It’s hard finding that middle ground, and we definitely struggled a lot with that on our previous records, trying to all find a way to be happy and feel like you’ve gotten input. We’re just older now, like you said, it’s the fifth record and we’ve done it so many times that you realize that the bigger picture is more important that the pieces. We went in with no egos, no expectations, and said lets make a record that we know how to do and hope that we can make one that’s better than the previous record.

How many songs did you initially record for Cardiology before narrowing it down to what was going to be on the album?

This record was quite a roller coaster ride. There were a lot of demos. We originally started out doing this album with Howard Benson producing. He came in and picked a few demos out that he thought was strong and told us that we needed to keep working. We started tracking the record with him. We finished all the drums, all the bass. We got about halfway through the guitar and then we started doing vocals on some of the songs, and realized it just didn’t sound like we wanted it to. It was missing a lot of the heart and the soul that the demos had.

We kind of just pulled the plug and started over later with Don Gilmore, who had done our last record (Good Morning Revival) and our first record (Good Charlotte). We wanted to try something new with Howard, and it seemed like a good fit, but in the end it just wasn’t. We kept probably six or seven of those songs. We ended up throwing everything away and re-recording with Don and then a handful of new songs came out during the process.

So you worked with Don Gilmore on this album, and I noticed that some of the songs on this album sound reminiscent of your first album. Do you think this is because you worked with the same producer or was it something that just happened naturally in the recording process?

I’m not sure, because he is the same producer as our last record, which I think sounds the least like our first record. I don’t think it was totally the producer, because then our last record would have sounded more like the first two. I think consciously we had been experimenting on each album.

Our first record was really simple, simple melodies and simple hooks. The second record we started with more textures and sounds. The third record we got a little more experimental with strings and keyboards and really trying new stuff. The fourth record, we went a lot more heavy with the keyboards and brought a more dance-y kind of vibe. This record we kind of said alright, why don’t we take the best of all those records. Let’s keep it simple like the first record. Let’s have it be about the hooks, but lets make sure the songs are rich with all those textures and sounds that we like. We’re not going to ditch the keyboards, cause all of us really love electronic music and that’s something we found a way to put the music we like, but maybe just not as much as the last record.

We really tried to take the best of all our previous records and combine it to make the record that fans that love any of our records could listen to this one and be into. Not really super conscience; it just seemed like the right thing to do.

I think it worked out well for you guys. On previous albums, you have co-written tracks, I was wondering if you had any co-writes on this album as well?

No, I didn’t. My wife and I had a son a year and a half ago. I’ve been spending time really enjoying being “Dad,” and sort of being swept up in the whole family world. Part of me feels a little guilty that I didn’t come to the table with as many songs as I have in the past, but it just felt right.

There’s just not that many times in your life that your kid is born and you get to spend all that time with them. I really take advantage of not being on the road, and spend a lot of time with my family. I didn’t bring songs to the table, but now I’ve figured out how to balance my job and my family, I think for sure in the future I look forward to getting back in being more of a songwriter.

Continue reading Interview >> Guitarist Billy Martin From Good Charlotte

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Maroon 5 & One Republic Live From Berkeley, 10.10.10

I headed out to Berkeley last weekend to go see Maroon 5 with my friend Von at The Greek Theatre. The show was absolutely amazing. It was my fifth time seeing Maroon 5 live and they never disappoint.

I am not the biggest fan of One Republic, but I was shocked at how catchy some of their songs were, but it was their mashup medley of “Stand By Me/Seven Nation Army/SexyBack” that made me a fan.

I took some video during the show, I hope you enjoy!

Interview >> Casey James from ‘American Idol’

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with newly signed Sony Nashville artist, Casey James as he finished up his time on the road with the American Idol Live tour.

Backstage at the Sacramento, CA tour stop, we talked about what kind of sound to expect on his upcoming album, if he was shocked about Ellen leaving, and what advice he has for future contestants.

You just got signed.

Yeah.

How does that feel?

It feels amazing. It feels like a dream, you know? I’ve worked really hard for a lot of years to get to this point. I’m just thankful and I feel really blessed. I feel like everything is kind of clicking right now. It’s hard to believe.

Very cool. You’re signed with Sony Nashville, so are you going to be leaning towards more of a country feel or stay along the lines of more of a rock feel?

I think it kind of came across on the show is that I’m a country, rock, and blues guy, and that’s what the album is going to be. It’ll have a lot of guitar in it. It’s hard to describe it, cause I’m not really right down the middle.

Do you have any ideas about who you’d like to collaborate with as far as writing goes?

That’s all being talked about right now. Sorry!

It’s all good. How’s the tour going? I was actually at the Mountain View show.

Ahhh, that’s one of my faves!

You kicked off that second half of the show, it was so much fun.

Thank you so much, that was like one of my favorites. The crowd there was just amazing. And what I really loved about that show, was that all the crowd was right there on the stage, everything was so intimate. It was a great show.

The tour’s going great. I know personally for me, it’s a honor to get to play for everybody who put us here, put me here specifically especially, and to get to meet the people. And to play these huge venues is unbelievable. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to be playing a place like this even for just four songs, I would have laughed at ‘cha. It’s awesome.

Continue reading Interview >> Casey James from ‘American Idol’

Interview >> Didi Benami from ‘American Idol’

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Didi Benami from the ninth season of American Idol back stage at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA.

She and I talked about the comparisons to Idol season seven’s Brooke White, her thoughts on why a positive voice is needed on the judges panel and what’s next for her after the American Idol Live tour.

How’s the tour been?

It’s been really amazing, this is a dream come true, and I don’t want it to end, but you know it could be a really good thing. We’re all going to go our own ways and do our own thing. It’s exciting, but it’s kind of sad.

What are you going to take from this and remember the most about the
tour?

Wow, what am I not going to take from this? I’ve gained so much experience just through the show and through touring and confidence and strength and courage. Everything.

How to stay sane on the road. I’ve learned how to do hair and make-up. I’ve learned so much, it’s hard to even sum it up into one thing, I feel like I’ve totally, well not totally, but I’ve transformed a lot as a human being, as we do everyday in life, but through this whirlwind, it’s been even faster. I’ve just developed so much more over the past seven months or however long it’s been since this all started.

You were compared a little to Brooke White while you were on the show.

A little?

Okay, a lot, but how did that make you feel? Did it help you feel more confident, because Brooke had a pretty good fan following while she was on the show.

It did, I met Brooke at the finale and I think that she’s a total sweetheart and I love her to pieces. She’s adorable and I would love to work with her in the future. It’s hard being an artist though, and being compared to somebody else in general. I get compared a lot to Taylor Swift, too. It’s like I’m my own person, and I love both of those people and I respect them very much as artists, don’t get me wrong, but I’m Didi Benami. I’m not Brooke White, I’m not Taylor Swift.

Continue reading Interview >> Didi Benami from ‘American Idol’

Interview >> Tim Urban from ‘American Idol’

I had the opportunity to sit down with several of this past season’s American Idol contestants during their recent tour stop in Sacramento, CA.

Tim Urban and I discuss the tour, life after Idol, and what he thinks about Ellen’s decision to leave the judges panel after one season.

How’s the tour been?

It’s been pretty great. I feel like we’re all kind of used to it at this point, cause we’re close to being done, we have only 10 more shows, so at this point we’re all kind of in the groove. It’s really a pretty incredible tour.

I was actually at the Mountain View show. It was a great show, I really
enjoyed it.

I appreciate that. That was a really good show. The crowd was nuts that night.

You were originally eliminated during Hollywood week, you were brought back to the show and now you’re on tour. How does that feel?

You know, it’s added on top of everything else as a reminder of how blessed I have been and how blessed I am to be sitting here talking with you. Thinking back on my American Idol journey, just the whole process, I’ve realized that it really is just one huge blessing. I had no idea what was happening the whole time, but it all worked out.

So, what are you going to remember the most from tour, since you did say that you have 10 shows left, what are you going to take from it?

I think for me, I’m going to remember meeting the different fans and just kind of that whole thing. You know, I’ll always remember what it feels like to walk out on that stage. It’s a very unique experience. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t think I’ll duplicate it. Walking out on that stage is something I’ll always remember.

After tour, what’s next?

What’s next? Well, I’m working on an album. I’m actually working on that right now. I’m working on getting all of the songs picked out for it, and I’ve got some guys back home who I’m working with back in Texas. So, I’m going to get that out, and actually I’m going back to LA and try to do some acting.

Continue reading Interview >> Tim Urban from ‘American Idol’

Interview >> Aaron Kelly from ‘American Idol’

After spending the past season writing about the American Idol contestants, I had a chance to sit down with several of them at their tour stop in Sacramento, CA.

Aaron Kelly and I discussed his stage presence, how he chose his tour set list and what’s next for him after the tour ends.

How’s the tour going?

The tour is going fantastic for me. I’m having a lot of fun right now and getting to tour different cities and going all over the U.S. right now, so I’m having having a great time with it.

I was actually at the Mountain View show.

Were you?

I was.

Did you have a good time?

Yes, I did. You were the first of the night to get the audience up without having to really say anything, how does that make you feel? They were immediately up on their feet when your set kicked off.

That makes me feel good. You know, when I went in to pick my songs, I wanted my set to be very energetic and something that the audience was going to have a good time with. I mean, the problem is you know, us going out there as entertainers, we don’t just want to entertain, we also want to have a good vocal performance. And for us, we want to make sure that it’s not boring and make sure that the audience is having a good time. Because they don’t want to come to a show and sit and watch, they want to be up and having a good time.

That’s pretty much why you go to a concert, to have fun, and so when I picked my songs, I picked things that are some of my favorite songs and some that I get going to. That way the audience can tell that I’m having a good time up there and that I’m really feeling what I’m singing.

I thought you kicked your stage presence up big time since you’ve been on the show, is it easier to perform now, since you’re not being judged like five seconds later?

Absolutely. And like I said, I picked songs that I am comfortable with, and these are songs I know, and for me, I think it’s important to know what you’re singing about. The judges were saying that every week. And because we had like three days to pick a song, cut it down and learn it. I wasn’t getting to know the songs that well. I mean, of course you know the words, but there’s so much more to learning the song, than just knowing the words.

Continue reading Interview >> Aaron Kelly from ‘American Idol’

Interview >> Crystal Bowersox from ‘American Idol’

After writing about the contestants of American Idol season nine this year, I had an opportunity to sit down with several of the contestants during their tour stop in Sacramento, CA.

Runner-up Crystal Bowersox and I talk water balloon fights, Ellen’s decision to leave Idol and how she stays in contact with her son while on tour.

How’s tour going?

It’s good!

Good! Do you have any fun bus stories that you can share?

Ummm, not really. Today, however, is a special occasion, I ‘spose. I caught wind on Twitter that some fans were going to be waiting outside with water balloons.

Oh, I’ve seen them! They’re out there. They’ve got a ton.

Well, so how much is a ton?

There’s a small cooler and it’s filled.

Okay, we’ve got a big cooler and we’re filling it up right now.

I’m going outside to watch.

It’ll be fun.

You’re signed?

Yes.

Have you been working on your album, yet?

Nope, I’m on tour.

Okay, so you’re not doing what Lee’s doing going back and forth?

Well, I mean, you know writing stuff and just kind of figuring all that out, but I don’t want to rush it. I want to be bright. I want to do one thing at a time. Right now my attention is devoted to putting on a good show every night for the tour, and after that I’ll focus on the album.

Do you have anyone in mind that you might want to work with or write with for your album?

I’ve said a couple names already, I don’t want to make too many promises, because I don’t know what’s going to be set in stone yet.

I know that you’ve been doing work with diabetes awareness, I was wondering if you could explain who you’re working with and what your purpose is with that?

Okay, personally I’ve been type 1 diabetic since I was about six, and I’ve been working with the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), I went to Washington D.C. while we were there to talk to the advisors of the President about something called, “The Special Diabetes Program.” That’s the government funding for the JDRF. It constitutes one-third of their funding, so it’s definitely important that that’s always renewed. If it’s not, that’s a huge chunk of JDRF funding, and we’re looking for a cure.

Continue reading Interview >> Crystal Bowersox from ‘American Idol’