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Tag: Q&A (41-50 of 104)

Mumford & Sons: An EW Q&A with frontman Marcus Mumford

Mumford-and-SonsImage Credit: Rebecca MillerFierce London-based folkies Mumford & Sons have become one of 2010’s most unexpected slow-burn success stories—a band whose sound defied mainstream American radio formatting, but whose full-length debut, Sigh No More, has still managed to gain a passionate following Stateside.

We didn’t know any of that back in March of 2009, of course, when leader Marcus Mumford played uncredited backup for singer-songwriter Laura Marling at an Entertainment Weekly‘s SXSW day party. (Though our own Simon Vozick-Levinson did note: “Maybe it was just the heat addling my brain, but Marling’s multialented accompanist on accordion/drums/finger-snaps/mandolin looked eerily like a young, British version of Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights.” Truth?)

Today, Mumford took time out from a U.K. soundcheck to speak to EW about the band’s rise, his recent time in the studio with legendary Kinks frontman Ray Davies, and why his mum went to the mat for her son’s on-air profanity.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So we were just saying that when your album came out, we were like, isn’t that the same guy who played our EW party with Laura Marling in Austin last year?
Yeah! I remember that. You gave us cigarettes [ed note: Actually, those came from the event’s sponsors. Kids, don’t smoke!]. That was excellent, really. Thank you.

What I remember from that day mostly is you playing an unholy amount of instruments. How many you do really actually play?
[Laughs] The thing is, you can’t really count the ones that I don’t know what I’m doing on, so like, Laura would show me the two buttons that I press on the accordion, then I make a noise and it’s in the right key. Sometimes I would even put stickers on the buttons so I knew what to press. But really, I can only play the drums—I can fake-play the guitar and the mandolin and ukelele and the banjo, but I don’t really know what I’m doing a lot of time. READ FULL STORY

Pharrell Williams: An EW Q&A

Pharrell-Williams-Times-SquareImage Credit: Ben Hider/WireImage.comN.E.R.D. lit up Times Square today like it was New Year’s Eve, performing a free Honda-sponsored concert of three party-starting tracks—two from their new album, Nothing, currently slated for release October 19th, and one from their 2001 debut, “Lapdance.” Before the show, EW caught up with Pharrell Williams to talk about his upcoming album, plans for the future, and why he calls America’s youth the “microwave generation.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY You and collaborator Shay Haley have been best friends since high school. How has your relationship evolved over the years?
We’re best friends. Love is like shoelaces. It’s only gotten tighter. Times change, so does the dichotomy between two people, and we’ve had some obstacles. But for us, our friendship has always been number one, and our music number two. Our music wouldn’t be as good if we weren’t such close friends.

What can we expect from your new album, Nothing?
At first, the album was called Instant Gratification, and it was good, but not good enough. It was our answer to this generation, which we have nicknamed the “microwave generation”: The Microwavers. Even though the microwave is old technology, it actually happens to be the mentality of all the people on the planet right now. Especially the kids—they want it now and they want it hot. They don’t want it ten minutes from now. With Nothing, we feel like we’re reflecting society.

You guys have incorporated a lot of musical influences into your previous albums—not just hip-hop, but some ’70s funk and glam rock—how would you describe the sound of Nothing?
N.E.R.D. represents music that transcends time. If you go back and listen to the first N.E.R.D. album, you’re like “What is that? Okay, interesting.” And after the third listen you’re hooked. This album sounds like it came out of the late 60s/early 70s. It calls to mind the Doors, Crosby, Stills & Nash, America, a little bit of Neil Young, there’s a Queen moment, there’s a Moody Blues moment. It’s “baba cool,” like the French term. It’s posh, it’s Bohemian, and it’s fashion and art.

What’s it like for you guys to perform with other artists, like Nelly Furtado on your single “Hot ‘N’ Fun,” rather than just producing their tracks?
It’s the same experience, really. You’ve just got to get out there and do the work. But working with somebody like Nelly makes it easier. She’s gorgeous and talented. You get what you would get out of gorgeous and talented.

So the album is definitely coming out October 19th? Because it’s been pushed back once already…
We’ve tried to make the lead-up to this new album be like an Easter egg hunt, telling you one thing, and then like two months later it’s another date. We’re really good at that. In two seconds, there could be another release date.

What else does the future hold for N.E.R.D.?
I don’t know if we’ll ever stop making records, but we’re going to keep finding new ways to present it to the audience. I think we’ve been in a cocoon for a while, and the next step is to butterfly.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More on the Music Mix:
Pete Yorn’s new self-titled album: Stream it here
Jack Johnson and Andy Samberg beat the hell out of each other in new video for ‘At or With Me’
Watch ‘Lost’ star Jorge Garcia jam with Weezer
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Who would you nominate for induction this year?
Susan Boyle to release Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ as single

Ronnie Wood on his new solo album, the sober life, and the Rolling Stones' next move: The Music Mix Q&A

Ronnie-WoodImage Credit: Jack EnglishThe past few years have been turbulent for Ronnie Wood. Since 2008, the Rolling Stones guitarist has made headlines for a rehab stint, a divorce, and an arrest for alleged assault (the case ended with an official caution). Now a clean and sober Wood is hoping to put the drama behind him. On Sept. 28, indie label Eagle Records will release I Feel Like Playing, his first solo album since 2001. The bluesy set, which Wood began recording in December 2008, features contributions from famous friends like Slash, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Bobby Womack, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Eddie Vedder, and more.

Wood, 63, called the Music Mix yesterday from the NYC hotel where he’s staying to tell us all about the new album — and what the future holds for the Rolling Stones. Read on for our lightly edited Q&A.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the credits for this album, you give “special thanks to [Hollywood producer] Steve Bing, for starting this whole process.” How was he involved?
RONNIE WOOD: I was in Los Angeles, and he loves to hear me play. He said, “Hey, Ronnie, do you fancy taking this studio? I booked the House of Blues for you. Do you want to make some tracks?” And I said, “Wow, I wasn’t planning on it.” And he said, “Oh, I just love the way you play, man, come on, please, get out there.” I said, “Well, I’ve got a few ideas kicking around in the back of my head.” So I went up with [Stones backup singer] Bernard Fowler. Steve Bing said, “I’ve got [drummer] Jim Keltner up there, and [singer/keyboardist] Ivan Neville.” I rang up Flea, who had said, “If you make an album, I’ll be on it with you.” He was in town, and then me and Bernard went up, and we cut “Spoonful.” That was really spontaneous. It just happened in one or two takes. We took it all from there. I had these phrases in my head, like, “I don’t think so,” and I also had, “Why’d you wanna go and do a thing like this for?” I’d just left home at the time. So I started to put melody to some of these words…What we would do is sit in my hotel room and plan it in the afternoon, and go up in the studio and make ‘em in the evening. READ FULL STORY

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine: An EW Q&a

Florence-and-the-MachineImage Credit: Paul Redmond/WireImage.comSomewhere between Gaga’s meat smock and the endless iterations of Kanye-vs.-Taylor, a different kind of star emerged at last night’s VMAs.

Crimson-haired songstress Florence Welch (who is, essentially, Florence and the Machine) stunned an audience fed on frantic dance moves, endemic lip-synching, and ersatz drama—simply by singing the crap out of a genuinely great song.

EW caught up with the 24-year-old Londoner and 2009 EW Year-End Albums topper late last week, while she was still anticipating last night’s performance, and spoke to her about gearing up for the show, getting to know Lady Gaga, and who she was most likely to fan out on backstage.

EW: Hello! We’re big fans here at EW, so it’s nice to finally speak to you. Are the VMAs a thing you’re familiar with, having grown up in England?

FW: Yeah, they do run them here on MTV, for sure.

EW: So you know the show is famous for crazy incidents—Eminem fighting with the sock puppet, the guy from Rage Against the Machine falling off a statue onstage, Prince in his buttless pants

FW: Oh yes, the buttless pants! The Brits are really my only experience with awards, and the VMAs are such an iconic event. Just yesterday, I was walking around [London’s] Soho in a dress that cost me one pound and has a hole in it, and then later I was laying on the living-room floor with my sister and this advert came on for the VMAs, this huge spectacle with explosions and all these massive artists and I was like “Oh my god, I’m doing that? Are you sure?” People in south London laying on their living-room floors aren’t supposed to be the people who do that. It just seems so surreal to me that I was laying there watching an advert for a thing I’m actually scheduled to be performing at.

EW: Are you planning to match that level of spectacle?

FW: I think it’s going to be something quite big, not something we’d be able to do at any other event.

EW: So that means you’ve been learning arial acrobatics, like Pink?

FW: Yes, absolutely. While doing jump rope upside down [laughs].

EW: tell me how this year has been for you, it seems like in America at least, it’s been a pretty slow, steady build… READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift tells EW about new album 'Speak Now': 'I've covered every emotion that I've felt in the last two years.'

Taylor-SwiftAs you’re likely very well aware, Grammy-winning star Taylor Swift has recorded another sure-to-be-massive album, Speak Now, which comes out Oct. 25.

The star, who has rocketed to fame over the past few years, recently spoke to EW about her new disc, telling us that it’s a “collection of confessions—things I wish I had said when I was in the moment.” The title track, indeed, is about “the moment in a wedding where you speak now or forever hold your peace.” That’s just a tease about the album. More details can be found in the Fall Music Preview in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.

But until you pick that up, enjoy some outtakes from our chat with Taylor.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you remember the moment when you finished the track list and how that felt?
TAYLOR SWIFT: I finished the track list about two months ago. I don’t stop writing songs when I have enough songs to make an album. For the last two years, I have just been trying to beat what I have on this list of potential songs for the record.

I would think that working on an album is stressful. But when you talk about working on Speak Now, you seem so happy. Was it a joyful process? Or was there a stressful part to making it?
There is a stressful and joyful element to making an album. For me, I’m either incredibly stressed or overjoyed, and the way  that usually goes is that if I’ve just written a song, I’m the happiest you will ever see me. But if I haven’t written a song in a week and a half, I am more stressed than you will ever, ever see me at any other point. If I haven’t written a song in more than about nine days, that’s when I start to zone out in the middle of conversations because I’m thinking about what I could be writing about next. For me, it’s just such a fun challenge to constantly be writing and constantly be trying to top what you just wrote. It’s one of my favorite games to play—trying to beat what I’ve written last. What I wrote last is something I got really excited about when I wrote it, but I know I could write something better. But it’s just a really fun thing to go through.

Would you consider all the songs on this record to be love songs? Or are there some that aren’t? READ FULL STORY

Nancy Wilson of Heart talks new album, old times, and being a rock 'n roll icon: A Music Mix Q&A

HeartIn the 1970s, Heart—featuring wild-haired Seattle sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson—filled arenas with their muscular, commanding hard-rock anthems: “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda.” In the ’80s they did it again, albeit with a lot more AquaNet.

The ’90s and ’00s have been quieter, more focused on family and side projects like the Lovemongers and Nancy’s frequent soundtrack collaborations (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire, and Vanilla Sky among them) with her husband, filmmaker Cameron Crowe.

This summer, however, Heart returns after a six-year hiatus with new album, Red Velvet Car, to be released August 31, and a tour to support it through late September. EW spoke to Nancy about coming up as one of the first (and finest) female guitarists in the testosterone world of stadium rock, working out the band’s new album, and who’s on her personal playlist.

EW: So before this interview, I was doing some research and ended up going on kind of a YouTube bender watching old Heart clips. Do you find yourself ever revisiting those, or have your kids [Wilson and Crowe are parents to ten-year-old twin boys] ferreted them out?

Nancy Wilson: You mean like a Heart marathon? My boys are ten, and they’ve seen a few things, but I don’t intentionally take them there [laughs]. It can be kind of embarrassing because of the hairdos and the kinds of fashion statements that we thought we needed to make in those various eras. I mean, was there ever enough hairspray? But the boys see a few things and they go, “Is that you?” and it’s kind of cute because it’s like “Yes, Mama has lived many lifetimes.” We started very, very young, and I was about 20 when our first album came out—that’s a lot of lives ago.

EW: When the Runaways movie was released earlier this year, so many people were dubbing it the story of the first female rock band. But even though your band was co-ed, I tend to think of Heart as one of the first true girl rock bands, because you didn’t have a Svengali-type figure like Kim Fowley…

NW: Well, there is a definite sound with all-girl bands, a good rudimentary sound, and that’s what’s cool and punk about all-girl bands, that you still find, largely—it’s really kind of primal. We’ve always been more …. weird compared to most bands, girls or no. We’re a pretty heavy rock band with an acoustic element, and I’m still trying to find one who compares, can you? [Laughs] So I guess we made our own category somehow.

EW: Did you feel like you had to fight a lot of sexism coming up, as women in hard rock, or did you feel that they welcomed you?

It was definitely about skill. Starting out, we were quite little and we had no perception of what boys and girls were supposed to do, so we were basically aimed like pistols, without a sexual reference to go to. Unlike other rock people who had every battle to win, we had parents who said “You’re good at this, you could probably do this.” I think in some ways that was because of Ann’s naturally incredible voice—she was just way off the scale talent-wise, which our parents recognized as a gift. [Later though] it was like The Wizard of Oz: “I’d turn back if I were you! Tigers and bears, oh my…” because it is not a path I would advise most people to go. READ FULL STORY

Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ on the band's 'Nightmare': A Music Mix Q&A

Avenged-SevenfoldAvenged Sevenfold topped the album charts this week with Nightmare, a success that comes after months of emotional toll: In late December of last year, the metal band’s drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, was found dead of an overdose on prescription medication and alcohol. He was 28. After his passing, the band made the tough decision to carry on with their fifth album, which was all but written. They enlisted Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy — one of Sullivan’s heroes — to sit in behind the kit, and recorded what became a eulogy for their lost member and longtime friend. We asked bassist Johnny Christ to talk us through Nightmare‘s creation and Sullivan’s legacy.

Entertainment Weekly: It has probably been a very exciting week with the album going to No. 1, but probably the most bittersweet version of exciting.
Johnny Christ: You nailed it right there. Absolutely.

Is it possible to describe your emotional state?
It’s been hard. It’s been back and forth. I’m very excited, and very blessed, and very thankful, and at the same time, I wish that my brother was still here to share this moment with me. But in all honesty, he left us a gift, and that was us being able to do this. We went through a lot of hard times just to create this record, so it’s pretty awesome, and it’s a good feeling. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can.

I’ve read a bunch of news reports and interviews with you guys about what happened, but I’m wondering if you can put into your own words the story of this album.
This album was very much a record that we wrote 100 percent with Jimmy. He was there for every single song, and had his hand in every single piece of music that was written for this record. We wrote for like nine months. We wanted to make a heavier, more concentrated album. It was going to be a concept album originally, and the music was 100 percent written. About a week or two before we were going to hit the studio, Jimmy passed, and everything changed. The lyrics became a tribute to Jimmy and how we were feeling at the time, and as that happened, it became a much darker record than we’ve ever written before. It’s very emotionally charged, I think. We went into the studio like any other time, just ready to write and get excited about a new record, and Jimmy was super excited. He was really proud of the work that he had done. So after he passed, we knew that we had to continue this record and get it out there, because he would have wanted us to do that. We went into the studio, and it was so therapeutic. It was a blessing that we didn’t know that was going to happen. When you’re concentrating on just the music, you’re not thinking about anything else. READ FULL STORY

Lollapalooza gets a food upgrade from 'MasterChef' Graham Elliot: A Music Mix Q&A

Lollapalooza takes over Chicago’s Grant Park this weekend for three days of rock n’ roll, but to make it all the way to the headlining sets from acts like Lady Gaga, Soundgarden, Green Day and the Strokes, you gotta eat. Celebrity chef (and Chicago resident) Graham Elliot — who’s currently starring on Fox’s MasterChef alongside Gordon Ramsay — was enlisted to bump up the food choices for those in attendance, pulling together 30 local restaurants to offer something to the concertgoers that goes beyond the usual pizza and corn dogs. For example: lobster corn dogs. And you thought Gaga’s outfits made you drool.

Entertainment Weekly: You’re in charge of Chow Town at Lollapalooza this summer. I came to Lolla a few years ago, but I don’t know what that is.
Graham Elliot: Chow Town is the food court area, all the different little booths. And what we did this year, instead of having slices of pizza, things like that, we decided to bump it up a little and ask a bunch of our restaurant friends who we thought had the same artistic approach as the music scene, and have them come and contribute three dishes each to the Lolla food experience. So what you have is 30 restaurants total, that are all independent and food driven, doing dishes to raise the level of dining at the festival.

What does it mean for a restaurant to share the same artistic approach as the musicians?
People who look at cooking and food as a creative outlet, as opposed to just a craft or a way to make a paycheck. There’s a lot of similarities between music and food, and I think what you have are more free-spirited chefs, who put out food that’s provocative, and really creative and delicious, and who really love music. They play it in the kitchens, they play it in the dining room, they make their own playlists. It’s not just the smooth jazz that your dad listens to. It makes sense to put them together. READ FULL STORY

'A Very Potter Musical' star Darren Criss talks about his new EP and the future for Team StarKid

Darren-CrissIf you’ve never had the pleasure of watching the raucously funny spoof show A Very Potter Musical you may not have heard of Darren Criss, but take our word for it, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter has had a pretty wild year. Part of a theater company from the University of Michigan that call themselves Team StarKid, he became a web celeb last year when a recording of A Very Potter Musical (in which he plays Harry Potter) went viral. Since then, Criss has appeared on ABC’s Eastwick and written the music for another hugely successful StarKid show (Me And My Dick), and just last week he made his return as the boy who lived in A Very Potter Sequel, which has already garnered millions of views on YouTube. Now Criss, who composed all the music and lyrics for Sequel, has a new independently produced five-song EP out called Human, which debuted at No. 30 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers chart last week. (Also impressive is Team Starkid’s A Very StarKid Album, which debuted at No. 19 on the Top Compilations chart.) I met up with the multi-talented singer this week in New York City to talk about his new EP, his plans for StarKid, YouTube musicians, and (of course) Disney covers.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you describe the sound of your music?
DARREN CRISS: Oh man, that’s tough. I have no idea–in fact, that’s been a problem for me, because I am kind of all over the place. If you know my musicals or anything, I’m a lover of genre…

And a lover of love songs.
And a lover of long songs, and a lover of many things. So because of that, I really don’t know. I’m still working on defining that, and that’s been a problem for me when I’m getting any kind of attention from labels. They’re like, “What’s your deal?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I like anything.” I like to say that we are of the iPod generation. We are the first generation that has so much accessibility and exposure to so many different things, and it isn’t so weird anymore to have on a playlist Beethoven, Tupac, Miley Cyrus, and Barbra Streisand. That’s not weird. Well, maybe a little weird.

Yeah, maybe a little weird. READ FULL STORY

Jaron of country breakouts Jaron and the Long Road to Love talks Toby Keith, Oprah, and his own pop past: A Music Mix Q&A

Jaron-LowensteinImage Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesOnce upon a time (let’s say, oh, the year 2000), Beyonce was but one of Destiny’s Children, Bill Clinton still parked his cigars in the Oval Office, and identical twin duo Evan and Jaron had a top-twenty hit with the Dawson’s Creek standby “Crazy for This Girl.”

A decade later, Jaron is on his own and—surprise!—the Georgia-born former pop star has found his inner cowboy, successfully: His single “Pray for You,” as Jaron and the Long Road to Love, has become a top-twenty Billboard Country hit, and helped land him a spot on Toby Keith’s American Ride tour this summer. He’s no longer performing with brother Evan, and he doesn’t consider himself a fit for mainstream radio today. He still, however, has excellent, shiny teeth.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Jaron, I was looking through our archives and I found this interview from 2001, with you and your brother…
It was really smart-assy, right? I’m 36 now, but it’s sort of funny–if you read the answers when I was 26, there’s no exuse, I was still acting 14. There’s no defense.

We’ve seen a lot of pop stars successfully–and not so successfully–cross over to country music: Hootie, who of course now is just known as Darius Rucker, Jewel, Jessica Simpson…
Bon Jovi and Kid Rock have done really well too, and even Uncle Kracker’s got a top ten country song. It’s not what you think. I think people are still confused by what’s happening, but the reality is that if you ask Kid Rock or Darius Rucker, you ask any of these guys, they’ll tell you the same thing: country went pop, we didn’t go country. I don’t think Jewel wakes up in the morning and just goes “I want to make a country record.” We set out to make music and find an audience, we just need an audience that appreciates us and connects with us. All those Vertical Horizons, Lisa Loebs and Semisonics, when pop radio became rhythmic and hip-hop they had nowhere to go, and country was the closest thing. If you listen to a Keith Urban or Lady Antebellum song, those are straight-up pop songs. There’s that whole wink-wink “I’ll throw a banjo or a mandolin in” thing, but it’s pop. READ FULL STORY

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