Mark McGrath is Happy to Wash the Stink Off '90s Nostalgia

Categories: interview

For a guy whose better years are admittedly behind him, Mark McGrath isn't ready to leave the '90s behind just yet. For the past three years, he's spent his summers on the road taking advantage of the thirst for nostalgia with his Under the Sun tour. Playing with his hits with his contemporaries is a far cry from what Sugar Ray was at its inception.

"We started as a cover band/party band playing Run DMC, Blondie, Motorhead and Zodiac Mindwarp," the singer says. "We maintained that spirit and that's who I am." His solo project that has been in the works, has purposely been worked on at a deliberate pace. That's partially due to his schedule, and the lack of pressure from external sources for a new record.

"No one is waiting for the new Mark McGrath record," he explains. "Which is the good news, since there's no pressure to release anything, but it's also the bad news." The EP, which McGrath optimistically prognosticates, is thinking for a tentative release during the first quarter of next year.

On Saturday at the Huntington Beach Food, Art and Music Festival (Sep. 5-7), the band will stick to its greatest hits, with maybe a few solo songs sprinkled in for good measure. We caught up with the singer who was at home in Studio City, who has taken his talents to the small screen including Sharknado 2, to talk about nostalgia, the '90s and the biggest differences between hosting and being a frontman.

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Hot Snakes Prove That a Band With Two Drummers is Twice as Good

Hot Snakes' first two records (2000's Automatic Midnight and 2002's Suicide Invoice) feature Jason Kourkounis on drums, but the band's third release, 2004's Audit in Progress, was recorded with drummer Mario Rubalcaba, who became a permanent member for the group's final two years. So, when singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, guitarist John Reis and bassist Gar Wood decided to reunite in 2011, they had a decision to make.

Luckily for fans, the threesome opted to include both Kourkounis and Rubalcaba, allowing each drummer to perform the material he recorded. Taking a quick break mid-set to change skinsmen might sound odd, but it's not. In fact, it's fucking awesome not only because audiences get to see both versions of Hot Snakes but because Kourkounis and Rubalcaba are phenomenal drummers who deserve to be heard.

Still, having two drummers isn't the norm, which is why I spoke to Rubalcaba and Kourkounis in regards to their band's upcoming show at Alex's Bar in Long Beach on Sept. 18 to find out what they plan on doing when the other guy is on stage.

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Talking 'Cholo Soul' with S.A. Martinez of 311

Categories: interview

Photo by Alexander Ferzan, courtesy of Los Stellarians management.
S.A. Martinez doesn't have time to rest. After completing another annual three-month summer stint with 311, (this year marks the band's tenth consecutive summer tour), Martinez hopes to finish three albums of his own before 311 sets sail on a fan cruise to Jamaica.

Martinez's new solo project, Los Stellarians, with Ghostwolf bandmate Ryan Siegel is an homage to Lowrider culture and overlooked Soul music from the 1970s. Cholo Soul, their debut album featuring covers of some of Martinez's favorite tunes, drops August 26.

We caught up with S.A. while he was on the road with 311 to discuss his upcoming albums, his love of James Brown, and his not-so-secret Instagram account. 311 fans may be surprised to learn which U.S. city most tugs on his heart strings.

See also: 311's Nick Hexum Reveals Even More Details About New Album 'Stereolithic'

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The Naked And Famous Keep The Pressure on Themselves

Courtesy of Republic Records
Jet-black clothing, high-fashion good looks and a hell of a light show seem to be the staples of a build-an-indie-pop-band kit in 2014. While eyes may roll at that short list, The Naked And Famous, the buzzing electro-rock band from New Zealand that now calls L.A. home, were doing it long before it was a musical requisite. After two critically acclaimed records and countless tour dates, the songwriting core of vocalist Alisa Xayalith, guitarist Thom Powers and keyboardist Aaron Short, supplemented by drummer David Beadle and drummer Jesse Wood, has sharpened both their writing and their live act to a razor's edge, all while adhering to their motif.

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The Zombies Will Never Die

The Zombies at SXSW 2013 (photo credit Lavid Photos)
The Zombies are one of the most tragically underrated bands of the 60's. Fortunately, they are still kicking! Their originality earned them a mixed blessing. Whereas a few of their songs -- most notably "Tell Her No," "Time of the Season," and "She's Not There" -- performed well on the Billboard charts, their material did not typically cater to pop trends, and the original line-up disbanded in 1967; however, 50 years after they recorded their first record, their compositions are still appealing to new audiences and inspiring other musicians and filmmakers (such as Eminem and Quentin Tarantino). Keyboardist / founding member Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone have been performing as The Zombies, consistently, since 2001 and continue to record Argent's inspired works. On the occasion of their visit to Southern California (tomorrow at House of Blues in San Diego and Thursday at Santa Monica Pier), the Weekly caught up with Argent to talk about the unique musical life of The Zombies.

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BONES Sees the Future of EDM. It's Called "Future House"

Ed Carrasco / OC Weekly
Bones at Splash House
BONES prides himself on staying humble in the dance music scene despite being involved for almost a decade now. He moved to LA from Denver to go to graphic design school at Loyola Marymount University and though he's a creative director at a marketing company in Beverly Hills by day, he's also a very successful DJ by night. With gigs all over from EDC Las Vegas to HARD Summer, he's playing three out of our top five recommended fests this month.

The man who can't keep a straight face in a picture is playing Pacific Fest this weekend in Newport and pushing that bass heavy house, techno and nu disco which he also profiles on his very well known blog Gotta Dance Dirty. We caught up with BONES, born Trevor Moffitt, last weekend at Splash House in Palm Springs to find out how he got to where he is today and where he's going.

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Benjamin Booker: A Look Inside His Old Soul

Image courtesy of management.
Singer and guitarist Benjamin Booker's signature 'Tent City Rivival' sound is what hipsters play to their children instead of lullabies. Booker's gravelly voice evokes a chipper Tom Waits with the timeless vocal simplicity of Bruce Springsteen (had The Boss been raised on the Bayou, not Long Branch). So you could imagine our surprise when a soft-spoken voice greeted us from New Orleans, prior to our phone interview.

Tampa, Florida-native Booker fell in love with New Orleans while working for Americorps' Hands On New Orleans program. The demo he recorded there on a shoestring budget, intended only for friends, landed in the right hands on the Internet. Now, Booker is opening for Jack White prior to even releasing a proper studio album.

Benjamin Booker will be performing on August 21 at The Echo and August 24 at FYF. His debut, self-titled album, Benjamin Booker drops August 19. We spoke with the soulful 25-year-old to discuss his red-hot career and the Plan B he'll never have to follow.

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Meet Crown, Your New Favorite SoCal Rapper

Categories: interview

Photo provided by management.
Crown's on a mission to spread positivity and gratitude with All Rise, his debut album that transforms hip-hop into something for everyone.

While his previous work focused on beats and lyrics, Crown now draws energy through a live band. He credits his new style with having "different ideas and different sounds, with a much more positive message".

Crown's vocals evoke the confident, enunciated style of Jay Z, offset by humble originality and relatable lyrical references. Instead of rapping about bottles and bitches, Crown gives thanks to U.S. troops and encourages philanthropy in his verses.

The positive messages are subtle, as to not suck the fun out of rap music. Crown exhibits a sense of loyalty, not sanctity: there's a track titled 'Fukkit', after all.

The first track, "All Hail Now," sets the tone as a larger-than-life, Big Apple anthem; "Roam," a piano-accentuated, summer song with a beachy chorus follows. The upbeat tempo and catchy hooks of tracks like "Quicksand" and "Turnaround" echo the energy of Motown through the eyes of 90s acts like Beck and Fatboy Slim. (You'll be surprised at what this 90s music aficionado admitted was on his iPod).

Here's what the artist had to say about his time serving in the military, opening for Lil' Kim, and his goal to avoid the stigma of being a "bling bling, I-rule-it-all" hip hop artist.

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Why Joe Perry of Aerosmith Never Gets Tired of Playing "Walk This Way"

Categories: interview

Ross Halfin
For the better part of the last decade, Aerosmith have stayed in the news. If not necessarily for their music, then certainly for their consistent touring and ability to stay in the news. Fortunately for Southern Californians, by the time Aerosmith hits the stage in Inglewood on Wednesday night, they should be rounding into form sonically. Though they've stuck to the same set list they ended their European tour with, Joe Perry says there's wiggle room for the band to mix things up. We caught up with the legendary guitarist during some time off in Chicago where we heard about the events that allowed for Slash to open for them, their future plans, and the story behind his upcoming autobiography.

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The Brevet Typifies the Times with Home Grown Americana

Press Photo of The Brevet
Every era generates at least one type of musician. The 50's created rock & rollers; the 60's spawned psychedelic groups; and the 70's yielded hard rockers, punks, etc. In recent years, the musical world has seen the dawn of a new model -- one that is not so much rooted in musicality as it is rooted in enterprise. With the convenience and availability of modern recording tools, and with the opportunities for self-promotion and networking that the Internet provides, all it takes for musicians to become players is the passion to compose, record, and promote their own melodies. Becoming a superstar is not the stated goal of Aric Damm of the Irvine-based group The Brevet; he pursues the noble goal of creating music meant to comfort and give strength to people suffering from life's trials. The fact that his self-produced music has caught the ears of Music Supervisors, who have seen fit to include it in various television programs, is a bonus. See him and his band play the House of Blues Anaheim this Saturday along with Lowly Spects, Yukon Gold, My Double My Brother, and Ashlee Morton.

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