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Tag: Q&A (21-30 of 107)

Blondie's Debbie Harry tells the stories behind hits old and new -- an EW exclusive

Blondie came up in the New York punk scene, made the transition to New Wave, brought hip-hop to the pop masses, and even danced with disco for a while.

That constant push for innovation, along with their irrepressible melodies and singer Debbie Harry’s chesty croon, has kept the band cool for over 30 years.

Still foxy at 66, Harry talked to EW about the stories behind some of her band’s most iconic hits, as well as the one behind the current single from the just-released Panic of Girls.

“Rip Her to Shreds” (1976)
“Chris [Stein] and I were big fans of the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, and that has a very threatening, kind of down and dirty beat to it. ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ is what we all do when we’re getting catty. New York can be a very tough place but with all that toughness there’s also a great deal of affection among the people. It’s like being roasted.”

“Heart of Glass” (1979)
“That was an exciting period because all this new technology was available, and we became more sophisticated about what a song on the radio should be. When we first started recording, we worked with Richard Gottehrer, who was a real purist. He took us as we were and we were very raw, and very inexperienced and very minimal, as far as instrumentation was concerned.  Then we got hooked up with Mike Chapman, this hit-meister from Europe who had had hundreds of pop songs and worked with different pop artists.  He had a more sophisticated idea of what a song on radio should be and made us sort of understand that. It was like going to school again. It really was an exciting period in that respect, that these sounds became available. It was the overlap between analog and digital. People were upset because it was a disco song, but they were even more upset that I said ‘ass’! We got banned a few places because of it.” READ FULL STORY

Anthrax's Scott Ian on playing Yankee Stadium, getting inspiration from 'Lost,' and facial hair

As any devil-horn devotee will tell you, metal is forever.

There will always be a cadre of kids looking to bang their heads, which is why hard and loud music has endured the ups and downs of the musical marketplace in the 21st century.

Case in point: The biggest concert event of the fall concerns a quartet of bands who were all founded in or before 1983. After a well-received weekend in Indio, California, earlier this year, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax have come east and will take the stage at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, September 14. It will be a huge, loud spectacle, the kind that only metal veterans can deliver.

It’s an extra-busy week for Anthrax, who not only have the hometown show to look forward to (the founding members of the band are all from New York) but also their tenth album to promote (it’s called Worship Music, hits stores today and features the first recordings with singer Joey Belladonna in two decades).

EW caught up with guitarist Scott Ian to talk about the new album, the Big Four, and why he no longer buys Rolling Stone.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: With the Yankee Stadium show and the new album out, is this the busiest week in Anthrax history?
SCOTT IAN:
It very well could be. It started last Tuesday, and now it’s really ramping up.

How did Worship Music come together?
We spent most of the time working on this record last fall. Joey rejoined the band in the beginning of 2010 and we spent most of the year on the road doing Big Four shows and then another tour with Slayer and Megadeth, which we called the Almost Big Four. We spent pretty much every day in the dressing room working on that record. We had something like 14 tracks, and it was just a case of listening to them and nitpicking the hell out of them. Once we finished that tour, we were ready to go back in and re-record stuff and let Joey go in and sing everything.

The song that really stands out to me is “The Constant.” Can you tell me where that came from?
That was one of the first songs that came together, at least musically. It went through a couple of different rewrites. The idea initially came from an episode of Lost called “The Constant.” READ FULL STORY

Kelly Clarkson on the soundtrack of her life: Read her exclusive EW interview here

With a new album, Stronger, due Oct. 24, and its first single “Mr. Know It All” freshly released just yesterday, Kelly Clarkson is officially ready for her 2011 closeup.

That wasn’t quite the case earlier this summer, when a number of songs—many of them old, written for other artists, and not at all intended for the final tracklist of Stronger—leaked online without her knowledge or permission.

Clarkson recently described the feeling to EW, saying, ““Oh my God, have you ever been robbed? I have. I’ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse.”

Thankfully, she’s now got happier things on her mind. Among them? Talking to EW about some of the songs that shaped her as a woman and as an artist.

You can find some of her favorite picks in the issue of EW on stands until this Friday, and read on below to learn even more about the soundtrack of Kelly Clarkson’s life: READ FULL STORY

'120 Minutes': In honor of MTV2's re-launch tonight, host Matt Pinfield reminisces about his favorite 'Minutes' moments

An MTV classic is at last being let out of the vault. 120 Minutes, the long-running alternative-music series that spotlighted indie artists and bands not typically featured on the MTV lineup, is set to re-launch Sunday on MTV2 at 1:00am ET, with that chrome-domed font of encyclopedic musical knowledge, Matt Pinfield, back as host.

Fans who’ve never forgiven MTV for abandoning music in favor of reality shows about the attention-seeking, fame-whoring, and alcohol-guzzling, were particular dismayed when Minutes was cancelled in 2003 after a 17-year run. But they can now take heart: the premiere lineup tonight includes Sleigh Bells, the Black Angels, and Das Racist. And future guests set to join Pinfield on the 120 Minutes set at the Lower East Side’s Arlene’s Grocery include Dave Grohl, Lupe Fiasco, Kings of Leon, and PJ Harvey.

To commemorate the launch of the new show, we asked Matt Pinfield to take a ‘90s nostalgia trip and give us his favorite moments from the old 120 Minutes, a list that includes early signs of friction in Oasis, a lyrical tribute from Perry Farrell, and, of course, a drunken Jon Spencer meltdown. Take a look at Pinfield’s favorite memories after the break: READ FULL STORY

Danny Elfman on Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, and why it's so hard to sing in Russian: An EW Q&A

Ever since he first laid down tracks for Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure 25 years ago, composer (and erstwhile ’80s rock star) Danny Elfman has crafted scores for dozens of iconic films and television shows.

You can scarcely swing a cat without bumping up against an Elfman creation, be it the opening songs from The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives to now-legendary themes for flicks like Batman and Spider-Man.

You’ll get to hear him again in some of the biggest movies on the horizon, including Real Steel, Men In Black III and The Hunger Games, and if you’re interested in his past work, he recently released a 16 disc retrospective box set of his collaborations with Tim Burton. This week, he also just opened Cirque Du Soleil: Iris in Los Angeles. EW caught up with him recently, and he told us his memories from some of his favorite projects.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
“If I were to list my favorite collaborations with Tim [Burton], I would say number one would be The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was the purest, simplest process I had in all the years with Tim. There was less pressure, and the results came from the ability to kind of wander. We didn’t know how to start doing a musical; there was an animation crew ready to go and there was no script. So we started with the songs. And literally, he’d come over and start telling me the story.

I said, ‘Just tell me the story like you’re reading a book to a kid.’ So he’d take out some pictures and tell a little bit of the story, and as he was telling the story, I’d start to hear an idea for a song. Usually about three days later, I’d play him the song, and then he would tell me more of the story. Ten times we got together, he told me a story and I wrote the songs. When I was writing lyrics for [Oingo Boingo], I would write about abstract things or things that annoyed me. I could be bitter or facetious about something. I had never written anything where I told a story and wasn’t sarcastic in the process. It was a new experience writing lyrics for songs that were doing a complete narrative.” READ FULL STORY

Rob Zombie Q&A: Rocker and filmmaker talks Slayer tour, new movie, and the legend of Mick Jagger

Two nights ago, Rob Zombie turned the summertime volume up to 11 by kicking off his co-headlining tour with shred legends Slayer in Reading, Pennsylvania.

But the multi-talented Zombie has quite a few tentacles in a number of different pies at the moment, so when we caught up with him a few weeks ago, he ran down the seemingly ever-growing list of projects he’s currently advancing.

Entertainment Weekly: The last time we talked, you were also working on a tour and getting movie stuff together at the same time. Can we safely call you a workaholic?
Rob Zombie: I like to have a lot of projects going at once because I work in a very kind of schizophrenic manner. So if I ever get stuck on something, I can just to the next thing and the next thing. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse because at the same time, I hate working that way. I’m like “Boy, if I could just focus on one thing…” but then I’m always afraid if you’re only focusing on one thing and if the one thing falls apart, you’re like “Now what?” It’s sort of a paranoia.

You’ve played with Slayer before in the past, going back to the White Zombie days. Were you a fan before you worked with them?
I was a fan before we opened but not for long time. I was never a crazy metal fan. I saw them at the Felt Forum in New York on one of the early shows on the South of Heaven tour. That’s when I really was blown away by the show and the insane intensity of the whole thing.

Is it inspiring to you that they can still put out that kind of energy all these years later?
It’s not really inspiring to me because we’re all the same age. So I’m not inspired by that. I’m inspired if I watch the Rolling Stones. I think, “Holy f—, Mick Jagger is almost 70 and look at the energy that guy’s got.”

Is that going to be you? Will we be able to see you live at 70?
Who knows? I mean, there’s very few people that have that. Probably not, because when I’m together with all the guys from Slayer, everybody’s  just sitting around talking about how much their necks hurt. Mick Jagger is just possessed. People take for granted that they don’t even understand how great it is sometimes. Like when the Stones played the Super Bowl and everyone complained about it. Give me a f—ing break! You work that f—ing stage the size of a football field when you’re 66 years old, and we’ll see if you come out alive. It’s a phenomenon. READ FULL STORY

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon talks about his new album, Kanye, and why home is where the heart is: An EW Q&A

Bon-Iver

This week, Wisconsin native Justin Vernon released one of the best-reviewed and most anticipated indie albums of the year in Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore effort.

Bon Iver takes the promise of Vernon’s quiet, insular debut For Emma, Forever Ago and adds a number of new elements to the mix: The sound is more expansive without sounding bigger than itself, and Vernon has layered each track with new rhythmic tricks, production twists, and even a guitar solo or two.His delicate, dynamic voice carries it all, and his surreal lyrics paint narratives about the importance of home.

EW caught up with Vernon while he was in town promoting Bon Iver, and he had quite a bit to say about the approach on his new album, his attachment to Wisconsin, and what he learned from Kanye West.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is it true Bon Iver was recorded in a converted animal hospital?
JUSTIN VERNON:
Yeah. It was a residence house. The family lived there and the guy worked out of the clinic that he built. It’s huge, this bi-level ranch house that just goes on forever. So we moved in and we’ve been changing everything around. There’s an indoor pool that we made into a recording room and stuff. It’s become a pretty fun place.

Do you live there too?
My cats live there. I have a little apartment in town that I sort of get to when I can.

Bon Iver is a very cohesive-sounding album, like it came out of one marathon writing session.
It’s interesting you say that. It was written in three years, but it’s all part of the same session. It was like one continuous movement of brain. Like, I had all this s— going on, but this record was always the thing I would return to. I would bring the stuff with me to listen to, and work on lyrics. Just like, “What is this?” We figured it out that way, I think, and it had this flow to it that was mysterious even to me. But it worked somehow. READ FULL STORY

'Weird Al' Yankovic talks Lady Gaga, 'Alpocalypse,' and why he's funnier than Madonna

weird_al

Today, “Weird Al” Yankovic celebrates the release of Alpocalypse, his 13th proper album and his best, most consistent release in years. (And thanks to a day-long Internet dust-up with Lady Gaga over his “Born This Way” parody “Perform This Way,” also his best publicized.)

Always the underdog and, by his own admission, a trafficker in extra-disposable culture, Yankovic has made a career of not only making fun of specific songs and artists but also of topical trends and musical styles.

All of that (plus a massive mash-up of polka versions of pop songs) are on Alpocalypse, highlighted by the surprisingly dark “Skipper Dan,” a narrative about an out-of-work actor serving as the host of a jungle cruise ride at an amusement park. Yankovic discussed his new album, his long career and the secrets to a great parody when EW caught up with him recently.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What are the secrets to a great parody?
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC:
Timeliness, sustainability and independence. That third one is really important. It needs to be funny even if you’ve never heard the original song that’s being parodied. It needs to work just as a funny song without having any reference to the source material.

And I think the best example of this personally was when I did “American Pie” as “The Saga Begins.” It was about the Star Wars prequels, and it was a huge hit on Radio Disney. And the people that listened to Radio Disney, I would guess, were not intimately familiar with a Don McLean song from 1971. But they enjoyed the song even without really knowing it was a parody.

And what made that even funnier was that the year after I did my parody, Madonna did her techno-pop cover version of “American Pie,” and all these kids were going, “How come Madonna’s doing an unfunny version of a Weird Al song?” So that was odd.

READ FULL STORY

Duff McKagan gives us the lowdown on reuniting with Axl Rose, his band's new CD, and how to invest your poker winnings

Duff McKagan is best known for playing bass for Guns N’ Roses in their Appetite for Destruction heyday—a period during which McKagan abused his body so badly that his pancreas ultimately exploded.

These days, McKagan’s extracurricular activities are of a more sober stripe: He has written about finance for Playboy; regularly contributes columns to both ESPN.com and Seattle Weekly; and is even now available for hire as a public speaker.

“I spoke to a bunch of businessmen in Seattle,” says McKagan. “Titans of industry. The thing is that business and success, and how hard it is, doesn’t look any different whether you’re playing a gig at eleven o’clock at night or you’re going to work at nine in the morning at a law firm. So I talk about that. But ultimately all those guys want to know about is how many chicks I’ve f—ed!”

The man is also still rocking hard as the frontman for his band, Duff McKagan’s Loaded, whose latest CD, The Taking, is out tomorrow. After the jump, McKagan talks about his new release, his forthcoming memoir, his recent reunion with Axl Rose, and why he is very much not “the Bernie Madoff of metal.”

READ FULL STORY

Jack White Q&A: He talks to EW about life after the White Stripes, becoming a mogul (or not), and more

With the White Stripes officially retired, Jack White could spend his days having cocktails on his tropical lanai if he wanted to. But he is, famously, not that kind of guy.

Instead, he’s running a musical empire in his adopted hometown of Nashville, keeping his hands in two well-established bands (Raconteurs and the Dead Weather), and taking his Rolling Record Store, which he debuted at this year’s SXSW, on the road — while also raising a family and proselytizing for vinyl nearly full-time. EW catches up with him below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that the White Stripes are done, you actually seem more busy than before.
JACK WHITE:
Younger musicians might look at someone who’s quote-unquote “made it,” and think well, that’s it, they won the lottery now they can do whatever they want, and that means go to the Bahamas and just party all the time. But my opinion has always been if you call yourself an artist, you have a responsibility to that liberty that you’ve given yourself.  You don’t have a day job where you work 9 to 5 at a factory because you’re an artist? Well, okay, well then you better make some art. That doesn’t mean you can sit around all day and do nothing. That’s the way I treat myself, and those are the artists I respect who do that. And it doesn’t have anything to do with being a workaholic or anything like that; it’s about creating all the time, because that’s what you can’t help but do.

You have built up sort of a sovereign Third Man nation down in Nashville…
We have a live venue, which is the only live venue in the world where you can record on analog tape in front of an audience and it comes out on vinyl four weeks later. There’s gonna be a lot of special shows on Record Store Day I can’t tell you about yet — I did one with [rockabilly legend] Wanda Jackson. Everyone’s playing there, it’s great for up-and-coming punk bands and all that.

If you’re a producer and a label-runner, does that mean there will there be less music-making for you? READ FULL STORY

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