Tag Archives: Rock Bands

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

It’s Music Monday!NewMusicMondayLogo

 

First of all, wishing all my readers all over a world a lovely holiday Monday if, indeed, it is a holiday with you. It’s certainly a Bank Holiday in the UK and it’s Memorial Day in the US…so if you are enjoying a long weekend, I hope it’s a fab one. And if you’re not: have a rocking day anyway!

Today I’m posting a classic, timeless song that’s seen me through many a decision, albeit in a roundabout way! To me, this is the celebration of indecision and uncertainty, and it’s absolutely priceless if you are facing a personal crossroads. It gives you a great sense of not being alone with a difficult decision, PLUS you get to rock out while you ponder. On a few memorable occasions, this very song has swayed me towards the ‘go’ option (like…leaving Germany, leaving a boyfriend, leaving a terrible flat). Then again, in different circumstances, I’ve come out on the side of ‘stay’ (Stay on a course, stay with a boyfriend, stay in a flat…). Life goes in circles, but that takes me onto a different song for a different time.

Today, I’m probably going off to the seaside with the family, and as the afternoon draws to a close and the promised rain clouds brew up, the song will take on a very… practical dimension indeed. So here goes:

 

So, what about you? Have you ever faced this conundrum? And which way did you turn ~ did you stay or did you go? I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Who Will You Run To?

It’s Music Monday!

NewMusicMondayLogo

Do you ever randomly go through your CD collection (if you happen to have one, these days) and suddenly stumble across an album that you used to have on continuous play but that you haven’t listened to in absolute aeons?

Well, I did, over the weekend, and here’s what I found. I’m absolutely enchanted all over again. In fact, I had a really hard time deciding whether I wanted to bring you the album opener or another of my favourites, but this has a certain… relevance to my books (and my life, LOL, but that’s a different story), so here it is.

Now tell me: what’s your long-forgotten favourite?

Enter Sandman

It’s Music Monday!

NewMusicMondayLogo

Last week, I promised you a series of classic rock song posts to mark the countdown to the launch of Sophie’s Run on 7 Feb. You know I keep my promises! Today, I have a rocking choice for you. Talk about one of the greatest opening riffs of all times! (Well, it’s in my top 10 at least).

Dum-dumm-dum-dum-duuuummmm-dum-dumm-dum-dum-duuuuuuum…. *Plays air guitar* Oh yes, I can see Darren and Dan play something like this (of their own, of course!) live on stage with Tuscq. Rock on, and enjoy.

What’s your favourite rock song opening? Or you could share your fave book opening line ~ I’m intrigued!

THANK YOU!

Thank you very much indeed,
one and all.

Once again, words seem hardly adequate to convey what I wish to say to you all today, but a humble “Thank you” will have to do for the amazing party that was the launch of Sophie’s Turn right here on this blog yesterday.

Thank you to everyone who visited, commented, and partied along. You are amazing.

We had the launch party of all launch parties for Sophie’s Turn!

Everywhere I looked yesterday during the launch day celebrations, there were tweets flying around, comments posted on Facebooks, visitors to the first blogstops of my massive launch blogtour. You created a buzz that was tangible and audible all over the place and all the way down to my little office in this small village in Lincolnshire.

For that, I am truly grateful. This launch went on stage rocking and rolling and I personally will certainly never forget the day. All thanks to you. So stand up proud and take a bow for my roll call of honour!

AL Jackson

Ali Bacon

Amanda Egan

Amy Lichtenhan

Anneli Purchase

Beth Art from the Heart

Bonnie Trachtenberg

Carol Kinsey

Carol E Wyer

Chris Longmuir

Dana Mason

Darlene Jones

Deborah Smith

Dorothy Dreyer

Elizabeth Arroyo

Emma Calin

Evelyn Chong

Jaimie Admans

Janice Horton

Jennifer Tucker

Jessie Dalrymple

Joanna Gawn

Jojokitten

Kate Verrier

Katie Henson

Katie Mettner

Leisa Hook

Linn B. Halton

Loveahappyending.com

Lynne

Mandy Baggot

Melanie Robertson King

Miriam Wakerly

Nancy S Thompson

Nika Wegner

Richard Holmes

Sharon Goodwin

Sheryl Browne

Stephanie Keyes

Sue Fortin

Susan Livingston

The Romaniacs

Yasmin Selena Butt

An extra special thank you has to go to my special guests, the THE HUSH BAND. I was terribly excited when they announced they were coming to the party, ready to play a song. I was not prepared for the Twitter storm and Facebook fest that followed! Moreover, THE HUSH also supplied us with generous amounts of bubbly. A box of champagne to begin with,  a special edition Coppola called Sofia, and then Bellinis, too. I am completely bowled over by your support. You seriously rock!

Post-Script

My head is somewhat heavy this morning, and my brain is not functioning terribly well. If, by any terrible happenstance, I have forgotten to thank you, please don’t take the omission personally; rest assured, I didn’t mean to! And please don’t sit there quietly in a sulk and a grumble: let me know, and I’ll fix the situation post haste. Promise!

Happy Reading of Sophie’s Turn! Did you enjoy the launch party?

Russians

It’s Music Monday here on Nicky’s blog and today I’m bringing you a real classic.  I’m posting no other than the first single I ever bought! It was a proper single, for those of you who remember the shiny black vinyl 45rpm plastic disks you used to get in traditional style record shops.

The motivation: a crush
I was thirteen and I bought it the day after a party at a friend’s house, where I had been asked to dance to (yes, you guessed it) just this song by the boy on whom I had a big crush.  It was a heavenly moment, and I tried to prolong the exprience by obtaining the music the very next day.  I wasn’t really into music then; I was just awakening to it, shall we say.  So I didn’t have a clue what or who I was looking for, and I had been too embarrassed the previous night to show up my complete ignorance and ask.

Instead, I opted for making a bit of an idiot out of myself in front of a complete stranger in the record shop.  I sang bits of the song to him.  Luckily it was very high in the charts, so he recognised it despite my subpar performance.

The fascination: the story in the lyrics!
Having got it home, I put in on play non-stop for something like three weeks.  Why’s that, you ask?  Well, it wasn’t just to do with having shared a dance with my crush.  The lyrics drew me in and didn’t let me go.  This is where it all started, my obsession with lyrics!  Anyway, here it is… I hope you enjoy.  The sentiment of the song is eternal, I feel, even though the actual historical circumstances have (thankfully) changed dramatically.

The insight: rock meets classic
Last but not least, I frequently rant on about how rock music and classical music aren’t actually a million miles apart. I often cite Verdi’s Requiem as a case in point, but consider this! Russians uses the Romance theme from the Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev! Just for the love it, I attach a link for the theme as well… and you can see how amazingly skilfully Sting used this music in his own work. Rock on!

Russians by Sting

In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

PS: I feel I ought to say “thank you” to Sting here for teaching me invaluable phrases. You would not believe the surprise on my English teacher’s face when, challenged during a class discussion, I offered a nonchalant, “Well, I don’t subscribe to this point of view.” :-)

Here’s the vid:

 

And here’s the Romance theme from the Lieutenant Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Prokofiev. It’s very quiet, so listen carefully… :-)

So, hand on heart: what do you feel when you hear this song? Does it give you goosebumps?

Nicky Reviews Rock presents: THE HUSH Video Debut

Only a few short weeks ago, it was my tremendous pleasure to introduce you to THE HUSH right here on Nicky Reviews Rock.  You may recall that there was talk of an upcoming video for a new song…  Well, here it is in all its splendid glory!!  Hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think! Rock on :-) xx

 

Nicky Reviews Rock Proudly Presents: THE HUSH

Welcome to the fifth edition of Nicky Reviews Rock, bringing you interviews and album reviews from rock bands around the world… with an extra special place for new and emerging talent.  Rock On!

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome THE HUSH. If you’re looking for rock with a difference, something unique and amazing, look no further. In this feature, find an introduction to THE HUSH, kindly provided by the band itself; an album review written by yours truly (me!); and an interview. Grab a cuppa or something stronger, sit back, and enjoy. And for the really authentic experience, check out those links and have a listen while you read!


MEET THE HUSH

Original, fresh, infectious and in-charge, THE HUSH is a five piece rock band delivering pop sensibility combined with musical artistry and thought provoking lyrics filled with plenty of attitude.  Lead singer Jazmine Giovanni embodies rock & roll by commanding the stage with seductive allure while slicing the air with her astounding range and powerhouse voice.  Their music is bonafide hard rock yet doesn’t neglect dynamics.  “Our style has landed us in a unique spot,” explains Lee Landrum, lead guitarist and founder of the band. “Full of surprises, some of our songs start out with melodic innocence then, suddenly, full-blown energy takes over.”

THE HUSH was born in 2009 and immediately were off and running, throwing themselves into writing/ recording/debuting their EP, Scene of the Crime, while playing acclaimed Los Angeles venues such as The Viper Room, Troubadour, House of Blues and more.  With each show came more and more followers and buzz.

Individually the members of THE HUSH have been performing/writing/recording for years with notable artists including Gwen Stefani, KISS and Miley Cyrus.  Playing with various artists throughout the Country, they have also performed on The Tonight Show, The View, Good Morning America and at Coachella and SXSW.  While each member of THE HUSH stands on their own, together they are a force of nature.

Give it a minute. With more to come, THE HUSH tells Nicky Reviews Rock that the band is about to get louder:

***’Tip of the Tongue’, new single, now on iTunes. Link available at www.THEHUSHrockband.com

***’Hold You Down’, new single, to be released early March.

***’Hold You Down’ video release event scheduled for March 30 at Key Club in Hollywood. Details about the show available soon at www.THEHUSHrockband.com

THE HUSH ALBUM REVIEW: SCENE OF THE CRIME

When I downloaded this album, the first thing that struck me was the unusual cover.  No black background here, no ‘traditional’ rock images.  Instead, a soft-edged, white-and-grey picture of a woman’s face and hand, making the classic ‘hush’ gesture:  finger on lips.  It’s a very impactful image, universally recognised, and aptly captures the name of the band.  But what about the album title:  ‘Scene of the Crime’?  That would suggest violence, something bad that happened.  Why must we be quiet (Hush!) about it?  What kind of crime was being committed?

I rarely find myself quite so intrigued by an album cover, and with all the seeming contradictions going on, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect.  Well, what I got was strong, engaging rock with haunting melodies and tantalising beats.  Success!

The opening track, ‘So Hollywood’, instantly had me grooving.  After a powerful intro come clear, carrying vocals.  The instruments pull back a little to give me the full impact of that voice, but by the chorus, the band is rocking with strong riffs and a good beat.  The overall effect is… unexpected, distinctive and unique.  I like the way in which the vocals and guitar work together, echoing each other, continuing each other’s themes.  The next track, ‘Touch and Go’ has a gritty feel to it, and I mean that in a good way.  There are strong guitars and a powerful rhythm, and always that juxtaposition between an all-out chorus and the slightly gentler verses, where the emphasis is on the melody and the voice.  And so it continues; I am hooked!  ‘Queen of Sheba’ starts off hard and fast with instant sing-along value:  Kiss!  Kiss!  Kiss!  Half-way through, we are treated to another slower, seductive, lyrical moment with a beautiful melody.  This is my kind of music!  If you’re looking for a fantastic guitar intro, check out ‘Fire Lights the Way.’  My favourite track is possibly ‘See God Tonight’.  It has a lovely, rolling drum rhythm and a slightly bluesy undertone, but it’s particularly the lyrics that capture my attention here.

So let’s talk about lyrics.  Lyrics matter to me, greatly.  If I can’t connect to the lyrics, I can’t connect to the music.  In this regard, THE HUSH has two fabulous things going for it.  First of all, the vocals are clear and the lyrics can mostly be easily understood.  This is an instant winner for me.  And secondly, there are the lyrics themselves.  In my humble opinion, THE HUSH is tackling some slightly unusual subjects and each song tells a story.  There’s the lady of the night who has started to care about one particular man; but does he give a damn (Touch and Go)?  And there’s the unsure believer who’d like some certainty (See God Tonight).  These are lyrics that draw you in and get you thinking, and they’re married extremely well with the music that delivers and supports them.

THE HUSH, ‘Scene of the Crime’:  A distinctive, unique and engaging rock album featuring powerful vocals, great instrumentals and beautiful lyrics.  I thoroughly recommend listening!

But why not listen for yourself?  Follow these links to listen to SEE GOD TONIGHT or TOUCH AND GO.  Enjoy!

AND HERE COMES… THE BIG INTERVIEW WITH THE HUSH!!!

It is with tremendous delight that I introduce today my very special guest, THE HUSH!  Welcome to Nicky Reviews Rock!  I stumbled across you on Twitter and am delighted to meet you ‘in depth’ today.  As always, I’d love to find out about the people behind the music as well as the music itself.  You guys have very kindly offered to answer a few questions this here new fan has for you, so here goes… 

NRR:  First of all, I love the band history you sent me; that’s an impressive story!  I am wondering whether you might tell me a little bit more about how you met and how THE HUSH band was born? 

LL: I worked with Andrew, Blake and Greg on another project a few years back.  We always had a good vibe so when that project concluded (Dec. 08) we decided to continue together.   We played around with some new ideas and, after a couple months, started looking for a singer.  Blake brought in Jazmine one day and that was it.  We knew she was the perfect match.  The five of us have been running fast ever since.

NRR:  Congratulations on a fantastic album, ‘Scene of the Crime’.  Tell me a little about the dynamics behind making this album… is there a chief songwriter? 

JG: I write all the melodies and lyrics.  How I come to both of those varies from song to song.  Sometimes Lee will bring in a riff or a chord progression and the boys will mold it and arrange it into a byte that I can take home and write around.  Other times I have my ideas pretty well set and they write around them.  But the songs as a whole are really a group effort, each member contributing quite of bit creatively.

NRR:  Unusally, there is no title track as such… Yet ‘Scene of the Crime’ is picked up in ‘Fire Lights the Way’.  Would you like to tell us more about your album title, and the connection between the song and the album title (if there is one)? 

JG: You are right.  Scene of the Crime is a lyric in ‘Fire Lights the Way’, which was the first song we wrote as a band.  It was very fitting, this LP being the origin of our path together as a band, that it be named for a lyric in our first song.  Sort of “it started here.”

NRR:  Who did you all listen to (still listen to, perhaps) when you’re not making your own music?  Any particular influences or idols? 

LL:  If you asked every member is the band this question there would be a list of influences a mile long.  Music is our life, when not creating our own we listen to others, go to concerts and clubs – basically soak it in.  For me personally, any great guitar player in the zone is an inspiration.  I’ll leave it at that and let Jazmine share her specific favourites.

JG:  I grew up in a varied musical scene.  My dad was a jazz drummer and I spent 10 years in the Opera as a child so my taste and influences cover the spectrum; Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Puccini, George Michael, Freddie Mercury, Prince, Whitney, NIN, Def Leppard, Dream Theater, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye all had a significant impact.  Right now I’m listening to Mutemath, Jane’s Addiction, Bon Iver, Scissor Sisters.

NRR:  As you might know from previous editions of NRR, lyrics matter to me.  Greatly!  Your lyrics are thoughtful and thought-provoking, and deal with quite different subject matters than one might perhaps expect of hard rock.  I’m thinking “Touch and Go”, I’m thinking “Queen of Sheba”.  Who’s in charge of lyrics?  And:  what comes first, the lyrics, or the music? 

JG:  I’m glad you are enjoying them.  It’s interesting—when I write alone, the music and lyrics seem to present themselves together, as though already married.  With the boys, they give me something musically to work with and I write to the vibe; what the chords are suggesting and what it seems to want to say.

NRR:  Why ‘The HUSH’?  Your music is anything but… is it that juxtaposition that intrigued you?  What’s the story here? 

JG:  I love the story of our name and I find that because it’s a total juxtaposition, I love it even more.  I come from a theatrical background.  Every show has a life of its own and a different personality.  But there is always a commonality to each performance.  As the house lights dim and the audience begins to settle in right before the start of the show, there is a moment of hush.  It’s a quiet shared by the audience and the players on stage that only lasts a second, but that is THE HUSH.  We thought it was apropos.

NRR: I daresay that ‘HUSH’ of anticipation is present even in a rock concert when the house lights go down… blink and you’ll miss it, but it is there, before the cheers erupt. Thanks for sharing, this is fascinating!

NRR:  What’s the most musically complex song you’ve ever made?  Do you all have a favourite song—and if so, which one and why?

LL:  ‘When the Night Comes’ is probably most complex.  The chords in the verse are a combination of both guitars and the bass—meaning, the three of us playing different lines to make up one chord progression.  My personal favourite is ‘See God’ because it reminds me of the experience of night surfing alone.  Right before paddling out, everything in the water and the air has a mysterious feel, just like the verse.  When catching the wave there is a powerful burst of energy, like the chorus.  The haunting drum beat is much like the adrenaline pumping through my heart.  That song is in my head almost every time I paddle out in the dark.

NRR:  Where do you see yourself going next?  Do you have plans for more albums?  Any plans for going global?

LL:  We really want to get out on the road.  Global, absolutely.  Since coming together we’ve been writing, recording and, with Hollywood in our backyard, playing local shows at the same time.  We are so lucky that ‘local’ includes great clubs like The Viper Room, House of Blues, The Troubadour, The Roxy—some of the greatest places to play on Earth.  We will always continue to write so, yes, more albums on the way.  We just released a single, ‘Tip of the Tongue;, and have two more coming in the next couple months—‘Hold You Down’ in March and ‘Hanging by a Thread’ in April.  We are putting the finishing touches on the video for ‘Hold You Down; and are going to debut that March 30 at Key Club in Hollywood.  This is our first video, big milestone to celebrate so we are really looking forward to this show.

NRR:  And finally!  In my rock star romance, Sophie’s Turn, rock singer Dan reassures Sophie that ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour.’  Would you mind sharing the weirdest, funniest, scariest or most bizarre thing that ever happened to THE HUSH on tour or during a show? 

JG:  I think Dan has it right.  Why break the code?

LL:  Agree, what happens on tour stays on tour.

NRR:  I guess I asked for that… :-) But now I really wonder what you guys get up to! XX

Thanks so much to Jazmine and Lee for your time and for sharing such fascinating insights.  I love the whole idea of ‘The Hush’ and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be listening out for it—and the band—and pointing it—and the band—out to anyone who cares to listen.  I wish you every success with your song launches, video launch party (how I wish I could be there) and future album.  And when you go global, I look forward to seeing you in the UK!! “Rock on…”

Visit THE HUSH on their website, follow THE HUSH on Twitter or on Facebook. Find sample tracks and more information about THE HUSH on Reverbnation.  And last but not least, you can get your copy of “Scene of the Crime” and all the new tracks on iTunes and CD baby.

A spot of housekeeping:  all information, photos and links used with artist’s permission.

Nicky Reviews Rock proudly presents the mighty ULTRADRIVE!

Welcome to a new edition of Nicky Reviews Rock, and the very first one for 2012!!! 

I stumbled across this band on Twitter… I listened to sample tracks on the Internet…  I checked out their rockin’ website… and I was well and truly hooked.  What a powerhouse of a band this is!  Therefore it is with tremendous pleasure that I bring you the mighty … [drumroll please]…..  UltraDrive!

Find below the band profile, my review of their album, Believe, a soundbite  (or three!) and, of course… the big interview!

Who is UltraDrive?
UltraDrive is Jay Henderson (lead vocals), Tommy Thompson (guitar and vocals), Derrick Dickey (drums and percussion) and Anthony Holcombe (Bass/Keys/Vocals).

Potted History
Sporting their signature “arena sound”, UltraDrive is a melodic active-rock band that stirred up quite an immediate buzz as a regional super-group from the time they began to play shows in late 2006. In only their 3rd show ever, UltraDrive opened for Army of Anyone, and the band has continued rocking ever since.   UltraDrive has performed with Chevelle, Adelita’s Way, the Raconteurs, Queensryche, and Saving Abel (in the Pontiac Garage), as well as headlining top venues in Atlanta and the region.

UltraDrive was formed in Atlanta, GA, by guitarist and songwriter Tommy Thompson and manager/producer Gary Carrico.  UltraDrive likes to describe itself as a ‘melodic active-rock band.’  Influences ranging from STP and Alice in Chains all the way to Hendrix and The Beatles have shaped the band’s huge sound.  In 2008, UltraDrive composed and performed the theme song for Project 9-6-1 radio’s “Giant Show”. UltraDrive’s first album, Believe, was released in 2010.

Sources:  last.fm; reverbnation

Also don’t forget to visit UltraDrive on their website!  Plus, of course, you can find the band on Facebook and Twitter.

REVIEW:  UltraDrive’s Believe
After an agonising wait for my new UltraDrive CD to arrive from a record shop in Germany, the postman finally delivered, and there it was: Believe!  As you all know, I like to start by considering an album’s cover; after all, the band created it for a reason, trying to convey a certain message.

The cover for Believe is simply stylish.  All black, with two silver-white elements.  The first of these is the band’s logo, UltraDriveThe logo brings to mind the emblem of a racing car (and the ‘drive’ association in UltraDrive serves to reinforce the notion) and every attribute that goes with it:  fast, slick, well-oiled, highly tuned.  The album title, on the other hand, is presented in a font that evokes a sci-fi feeling; just ever so slightly out-of-this-world, unusual, eternal and big.  These, then, were my expectations for the album:  music that would be hard and fast, accomplished, edgy and grand.  And my, does UltraDrive deliver!

The opening track, Crush, is a fantastic hard-rock piece with anthem potential.  A powerful opening riff blows your mind, and the deep, dark vocals accompanied by a series of power-chords set the mood perfectly.  Crush is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this album; and possibly a candidate for my all-time greats!  The title track, Believe, opens with a tantalising guitar intro followed by rolling riffs and a rousing beat.  It has instant sing-along value and I adore the powerful contrast between the muted mike and the clear, loud chorus.  The final call of “I still believe” sounds almost outer-worldly and haunts you long after the track is finished.  A little quieter throughout, Shame brings you a fabulous drum intro, quiet but pacey, followed by a guitar theme that lodges right in your mind and refuses to leave!  Shame also features amazing two-part harmonies, and a great air-guitar moment for those of us (like me) who love to pretend.  Crazy, another one of my favourite songs, is more mellow in sound, almost ballad-like, and very lyrical.

And the list of praise goes on.  I always listen out for great lyrics with goose-bump potential, and I am not disappointed here.  Consider From the Outside:  “Come on in from the outside…your life is waiting for you/just make your move and turn the page…”  or Drive:  “If you want to stay alive you’d better/drive!/only the hungry will survive…”  I love that about hard-rock in general, and these songs in particular; the positive message, the affirmative outlook:  get up and go, it’s all up to you.  On the other hand, there is Them Bones which has an entirely different feeling, a dark feeling evoking anger and, perhaps despair.  The drawn-out vocals and shouted, repeated “I” make the hair on the nape of my neck stand up.

So to me, Believe is a strong, accomplished, hard-hitting album with great, dark harmonies, powerful vocals and strong feelings.  I haven’t (yet) had the pleasure of seeing UltraDrive live on stage, but I am confident that they would fill, and thrill, a stadium!  This is fantastic arena rock and I highly recommend getting a copy if you like to rock out.

But why rely on my opinion?  UltraDrive has very kindly made available not one but three sample tracks for you to listen to, right here, right now!  Find two straightaway… and the last one is waiting for you at the end of the interview.

“From the Outside”

“Beyond the Pain”

And if these tracks have whetted your appetite, you can buy the album on cdbaby or iTunes.  

And finally, here comes… the BIG INTERVIEW with UltraDrive!!!

It is with tremendous delight that I introduce today my very special guest, UltraDrive…. Welcome to Nicky Reviews Rock!  I stumbled across you on Twitter and instantly connected with your sound and your music.  As always, I’d love to find out about the people behind the music as well as the music itself.  You guys have very kindly offered to answer a few questions this here new fan has for you, so here goes… 

NRR:  Congratulations on a fantastic album, Believe.  Tell me a little about the dynamics behind making this album… is there a chief songwriter?  Who’s in charge of lyrics?
Wow, where do we start? The making of the album was, shall we say, an adventure! This is largely because UltraDrive started out as sort of a “super-group” concept, with a rotating cast of characters who came in to make great music. The project was founded by lead guitarist Tommy Thompson and manager/producer Gary Carrico, who had worked together in a previous band. Tommy brought over a few songs he had written from that band along with the new material that he and Gary collaborated on. From there, new guys who came in have often contributed to the writing process as well.

The first incarnation to play live went out in late 2006, and ironically the 3rd show ever was opening for Army of Anyone (a super-group with members of Filter and Stone Temple Pilots). During this time we demo-ed out several songs, but during that early recording process some of the guys were moving to different priorities and directions, and honestly, it also became clear that this line-up wasn’t completely capturing the sound that Tommy and Gary had in their heads for UltraDrive.

The core line-up of UltraDrive that played on the album began to form then in summer 2007 when drummer Derrick Dickey (formerly of Subject2Change) came aboard and we found lead singer Jay Henderson (believe it or not) in a local cover band. We put it together quickly, opened for Queensryche and started touring regionally and things started blowing up from there, including the shows with Chevelle, Adelita’s Way, Raconteurs, LinkinPark, et al.

Ironically, it was our success as a live band that kept interfering with recording! We’d go in and lay down tracks when we found the time, but it was sporadic. And to complicate matters we went through a veritable parade of bass players over a 2 year period until Anton Holcombe came aboard in 2009. That’s when we set out to finally complete the debut album, but there was as much studio time spent on reverse engineering as recording to get this line-up on the entire CD! So yes, it was an adventure.

One final note: Our real wake-up call to get serious with finishing the album came when we played with Saving Abel at The Tabernacle for Atlanta radio station Project 9-6-1, and the guys at the station were raving on air about how we had upstaged the headliner (unintentionally, of course). They brought us in the studio for an interview and feature, and asked UltraDrive to write and record an outro song for their Morning Drive show. Normally bands record an album and then go on radio… but hey, we’ve never been accused of being normal!

UltraDrive playing the Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe (photo courtesy of UltraDrive)

 NRR:  Who or what inspired the writing of the title track, Believe?
Actually, that song grew out of something that our former singer James Fulford had brought in. The words he had were expressions of his angst and confusion from a tragic childhood loss.  Tommy created a new riff and chord structure and Gary added more words and glued them together with a bridge and then created the trapped-inside-4-walls feeling in production. What we were going for in the final song was a combination of anxiety, anger and hope all at once, if that makes any sense. :-)

 NRR:  Why ‘UltraDrive’?  It’s such a fantastic name, it conveys an image of power and something larger than life.  How did you come up with the name?
Thanks! That’s exactly what we were going for, both with the band itself and the name. Tommy had founded a previous band called Transmission that was very successful, but broke up on the eve of signing a major label deal. So when he and Gary decided to hand-pick a new project, the first rule was that everything about it had to be even bigger and better than Transmission. Sure enough, Tommy called one day and said “UltraDrive”… that was “it”!… and within an hour Gary had the logo sketched. The name, the image spoke for itself. It was dead solid perfect.

NRR:  What’s the most musically complex song you’ve ever made?  Do you all have a favourite song—and if so, which one and why?
Actually, probably the most complex piece on its face is an instrumental we’ve done live but never recorded that’s like a combination of a Joe Satriani guitar epic – meets – a sports highlight film soundtrack. We haven’t even settled on a name yet, although one suggestion is BANG! (which is our unofficial band catch-phrase that came from a fan describing our stage sound at our first show).

From the album though, listen closely to From the Outside. The composition we think is pretty neat (and very challenging to play correctly). It’s a state of constant motion and totally polyphonic, even during the verses, with counter syncopations among the guitar, bass and drums in contrast to a very melodic vocal line. If one day we’re fortunate enough for other bands to want to cover that song, I’m sure they’ll be cussing us in rehearsal!

NRR:  Where do you see yourself going next?  Do you have plans for more albums? You have been touring in your region at the moment… any plans for going global?
We’ve recently been contacted by a multi-platinum producer about re-mixing a couple of songs to push for radio, and we have new material we’re getting ready to demo. Right now we’re focused on getting songs heard and perhaps placed in radio, TV and films. And yes, we would love to go global! Hopefully interviews like this will help the cause. :-) NRR:  I sure hope so!!

NRR:  You make powerful music which I believe has been described as stadium-rock, and I believe you’ve played quite a few huge arenas already.  What does it feel like to perform live to thousands of people?
Wow, there aren’t words to describe it!… but on the other hand it’s something we came out of the box ready to do. UltraDrive was predicated on the “arena sound” that people say we create, even if you hear us in a club. So, whether it’s in front of 150,000 people at last year’s “Peach Drop” (Atlanta’s New Years Eve Extravaganza), or 50 folks at a club in rural Alabama, this is what we do. And even though there are plenty of “bells and whistles” on the record, we pride ourselves on pulling off that sound live with only our basic stage line-up of a 3-piece power trio (guitar, bass, drums) and a frontman… without any backing tracks or other common production shenanigans.  Probably the most rewarding compliment we get is when someone at a large-venue show or festival comes up and says that we sounded as big or bigger than the national headliner, albeit using maybe a fourth of the amount of gear.

NRR:  I really hope to see you live some day!  But while I wait, one last question….  In my rock star romance, Sophie’s Turn, rock singer Dan reassures Sophie that ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour.’  Now I don’t want to ask you to kiss-and-tell (well, I do really, but we’ll skip that part…) but… would you mind sharing the weirdest, funniest, scariest or most bizarre thing that ever happened to UltraDrive on tour or during a show?
Well….. yeah, there are some we can’t share… but, here are a couple of stories, one that was scary and one that’s, well, bizarre:

1. Scary: As we said earlier, the band started out as a super-group concept, and the second touring incarnation (that evolved into the band that played on the album) of UltraDrive came together literally 2-1/2 weeks prior to a scheduled show with Queensryche. We went through boot camp rehearsals and booked a shakedown show at a sketchy pub in the middle-of-nowhere Georgia, and suffice to say it wasn’t pretty. So now 3 days later here we are on stage at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre opening for these rock legends!… with a fill-in bass player, no less (who was scared out of his mind). Somehow though, when the curtain opened, it clicked and BANG!, as we like to say, there was that sound. And by half way through our first song, that room full of VERY skeptical Queensryche fans were pushing up to the front of the stage and by the end of our set were singing along with our songs that they’d never heard before in their lives! After the show, the guys in Queensryche were sufficiently impressed that they invited us to take part in their meet-and-greet. That night was when we knew we really had something.
NRR:  Awesome!  I wish I had been there.  You must have been totally over the moon… :-)

2. Bizarre: Sometimes when we tour the region we’ll do shows where we mix in 90s Alternative covers with our stuff, and play the whole night. During one of these shows (which we call “UltraDrive’s Alternative Nation”) at this big rowdy club in Mississippi, a bachelorette party was in the house so we brought the bride-to-be up on stage to dance with the band during a cover song. Normal stuff, right? Well, during the break the girl’s mother boasted that she could do better than that! So, always accommodating, we got momma up on stage in the next set, and she proceeded to perform an R-rated stripper act, and gave Jay an affectionate nip on the neck hard enough to leave teeth marks. This incident inspired one of our band mottos: “It’s all fun and games until the mother-of-the-bride bites your lead singer!”
NRR:  Wow! I bet that wasn’t in the job description!

Well, this is the end of the big UltraDrive interview.  Thank you so much, guys, for visiting Nicky Reviews Rock, for sharing a bit more about your history, and for these amazing anecdotes.  I am totally intrigued.  Please do let me know if you ever come UK way……. I am waiting! X

“Crush”

Nicky Wells introduces “Sophie’s Turn” live on BBC Radio Bristol

Today was another monumental occasion for this here author, Nicky Wells, and my rock star romance, Sophie’s Turn!

I was invited to talk about Sophie’s Turn on BBC Radio Bristol.  The wonderful Elise Rayner hosted me on The Afternoon Show and asked me fantastic questions about the book, and Sophie, and Dan.

It was a truly amazing experience to visit the studio and to answer so many direct and thought-provoking questions about my work.  Unlike my radio debut, which had to happen by telephone on account of the tremendous geographic distance between me and the Dresser After Dark show, this interview was person-to-person.  And yes, there was a big fat red microphone pointing towards my face, and all sorts of technical equipment all around us, but mostly, it was like having a ‘real’ conversation with a lovely person.  In fact, I forgot about being live on air altogether… let’s hope I didn’t get too carried away!.

Here’s the audio — see what you think! :-)

A huge big Thank You to Elise Rayner for hosting me on her show and asking such fantastic questions.  Rarely have been able to showcase my work quite so extensively!  And another big Thank You to Alex Lewis, producer at BBC Radio Bristol, for making this interview happen.  When the sequel is out…. I’ll just come back for more!

Nicky Reviews Rock Christmas Special: Martin Morris and “The Best Christmas”

WELCOME TO …
Nicky Reviews Rock’s Christmas Special!!
Everyone is increasingly feeling infected by the festive spirit, and I am no exception.  Imagine my delight at discovering a unique opportunity to feature someone who’s a bit of a local legend in my part of the world… Somebody who’s just gone out and recorded a serious contender for this year’s Christmas No. 1 … Somebody who has faith, and drive, and conviction, not to mention a fabulous tune and a great voice.

I’m talking about none other than Martin Morris and his amazing Christmas single, “The Best Christmas”!  In this feature, find an audio of the song, a profile of the singer, and an interview as well.  Woohoo!

HAVE A LISTEN TO “THE BEST CHRISTMAS” AND LET YOURSELF BE BLOWN AWAY…

First things first. You might not have heard about the phenomenon that is Martin Morris and his Christmas single, so let me introduce you to it.  Here, have a listen:

Like what you hear?  You can download this single from iTunes or Amazon and help it on its way to becoming a Christmas No. 1!  Go and do it now… and you will help shape Christmas No. 1 history.

INTRODUCING THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC:
MEET MARTIN MORRIS!

Martin told Nicky Reviews Rock that he is the third out of five children brought up in a council house in Southmead, Bristol. He was introduced to live music before he can even remember. His elder brother Bob is a drummer and was something of a celebrity on the estate when Martin was young.  Bob went on to record nine albums and do two European tours with his band, The Brilliant Corners.  Martin says that this was probably what influenced him most, as he was often kidnapped by the band and taken away for weeks at a time to sell their T-shirts (even though he was only 15!) .

When Martin was 17, he formed his first band, The Comfortable Field. The line-up included his little brother Mike, who has gone on to be a very well-respected guitarist in his own right, and Mark Stokes (drummer) who is now Martin’s brother-in-law. In 1994, The Comfortable Field changed its name to Aerola and went on to tour England, even appearing on some TV music shows. The band finally split in 1999, after which Martin formed Tenderhook with his brothers Bob and Mike, and, though short-lived, Tenderhook performed what is still one of Martin’s favourite gigs to date at the Bristol Thekla.

Since Tenderhook, Martin has been playing in  cover band Hooper with Bob, Mike, and friend Boo. They have gained an excellent reputation and a huge following. Throughout his time in the various bands, Martin was always the writer, and for every song he submitted there were five he kept back! So Martin has enough songs in the bank for a lot of albums.  He’s still writing today!

What an amazing bio!  You discover someone like Martin, with drive and determination, and then you realise he’s got a lifetime of experience and practice behind him.  It’s no miracle, then, that “The Best Christmas” should be such a catchy, well-performed and professional piece.  Wow!  You can join Martin on his Facebook group to keep in touch with developments and news.

THE INTERVIEW:  OF COURSE, NICKY REVIEWS ROCK HAD SOME QUESTIONS FOR MARTIN, WHICH HE ANSWERED VERY PATIENTLY INDEED.  YOU ROCK, MARTIN….

NRR:  Tell us the story behind “The Best Christmas?”  What inspired you?  Did you write the song alone?  Tell us more about the band playing with you?
I wrote “The Best Christmas” about three years ago, on my own, in about ten minutes. It was one of those songs that just flowed out of me (doesn’t happen very often)  and was really an experiment. I was thinking that nobody had released a great Christmas song for years and years (I think the last great Christmas tune was The Pogue’s “Fairytale of New York”) and thought I’d have a go. I realised straight away that I had something special. So I recorded a demo that sat on the shelf until this year, when I decided that the country deserved better than the  guaranteed No.1 tripe that the X-factor rams down our throats. (NRR:  Hear, hear!)
I recorded the released version with the help of former
Aerola drummer and brother-in-law, Mark Stokes, my brother Mike, and Hooper bass player Boo. I asked a friend who had a decent video camera to help make a video and he turned up with professional film maker Jenny Haggerty (she had faith in the song so wanted to help). It was filmed on a beautiful summer’s evening with friends and family in our local pub!

NRR:  What bands or musicians influence or inspire you?
I’ve never been a loyal fan to anyone, but I do have favourite albums by certain people, for example “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie, The Stone Roses’ first album, Lou Reed’s “Transformer”, The House Martins’  “The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death” and The Brilliant Corners, “Hooked.”

NRR:  How does it feel to be a budding music legend?  You’ve done radio interviews galore–did you enjoy the experience?
I must say the thought of having a hit single excites me a lot. It’s not just what happens now, but what could happen after, and I love the attention, so radio interviews are great. I feel very at home talking to people about music, so talking about my music is a bonus.

NRR:  What are your plans going forward?
For now I have to see how the single goes. It could change my life and take me in a whole new direction, or it could fizzle out, in which case I have a great life anyway so I’ve nothing to lose.  (NRR:  You’ve just got to love this man!)

NRR:  Can we see you (and your band) play live somewhere, some time soon?
As this is a solo effort I can’t see us playing live, but I will continue with Hooper and should the single take off, I do have something up my sleeve that would involve all the people I have already mentioned.

NRR:  How do you typically celebrate Christmas?
Typically, I like to go away with my wife and three kids. No visiting and no visitors. I don’t often relax but at Christmas I do (although it’s still complete mayhem). We’re a lively lot!!

NRR:  Apart from “The Best Christmas”, of course, which is your favourite Christmas rock/pop song in the world… ever?
My favourite Christmas pop song is Slade, “Merry Christmas Everybody” but I do love a choir singing “Silent Night”!

NRR:  In my rock star romance, “Sophie’s Turn“, lead singer Dan assures Sophie that ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour.’  Now I won’t ask you to kiss and tell (although I’d love to, really, hee-hee) but could you tell us about the funniest, weirdest or most bizarre thing that ever happened to you while on stage or on tour?
We were playing a gig in The Manchester Broadwalk, and there was a girl there who had (in the past) been quite friendly with each of  the band, but was now becoming a pain in the ass. She was at the front of the stage all night trying to get my attention but then disappeared. I knew something was up!  Suddenly she came running towards me from the side of the stage. I remember thinking, “this is gonna be bloody embarrassing if she gets hold of me!”  But the stage was soaked with beer, so she went skidding past me, her legs went up in the air and her head came smashing down onto the stage knocking herself clean out!! I now feel a little mean that I carried on as if nothing had happened apart from laughing myself through the rest of the song!  As she was being carried away, I did call out to her saying “Its ok, I don’t think anyone noticed!!”  We never saw her again.

NRR:  Wow, that’s quite a story, thanks for sharing!  And finally… just before I let you go, would you give your immediate reaction to the following conundrums:

Turkey or Beef for Christmas lunch?  Turkey.
Sprouts–love them or hate them? Hate sprouts!
Gaudy or stylish for the Christmas tree?  I like stylish, but get bored quickly so the front looks good!
Chocolate orange or after-dinner-mints? Neither, alcohol!
Brandy butter or brandy sauce with your Christmas pud?  Don’t like Xmas pud. Don’t really like pud!
Presents before or after breakfast? Bit of both.
Aldi or Harrods for your Christmas crackers? Aldi, so you can have loads!
Angel or star to top the Christmas tree? Angel, it looks rude!
Home or away? Away in a manger… or a nice lodge!!

Amazing responses, Martin!  I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Christmas pud!  Thanks so much, for stopping by here today, it is an honour and a privilege.  Nicky Reviews Rock wishes you every success with STORMING THOSE CHARTS…

MARTIN MORRIS FOR CHRISTMAS NO. 1, IS WHAT I SAY!  WISHING YOU EVERY SUCCESS AND, OF COURSE, A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Here are those links again:  You can download “The Best Christmas” from iTunes or Amazon and help it on its way to becoming a Christmas No. 1!

All photos courtesy of Martin Morris, and used with Martin Morris’ permission.