Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey Monday interview with Cassadee Pope

Hey Monday has certainly made their mark in the pop/rock genre by creating some incredibly
catchy music and hitting the road hard. The band is currently touring on Warped and are preparing for their upcoming album release Beneath It All which comes out August 17th on Columbia Records. When their first album Hold On Tight came out, their first single "Homecoming" managed to find itself on several of my mixes. I have always been a sucker for a rock group fronted by a female singer with great vocal range (just take a look at some of my previous interviews ie. Fireflight, Meg and Dia, Poema etc.). I am very excited about their future release, as it tackles more mature topics and showcases the growing musical talent of the group as a whol.This week I had the chance to get some questions answered by the very talented front woman of the band, Cassadee Pope...

How has Warped been going so far? Anything crazy happen yet?
Warped has been incredible. I've met some truly genuine people. I think the craziest thing to happen to me so far was when we played our hometown show in West Palm. The crowd was huge and so energetic. I've never seen so many crowd surfers. I'll never forget that day.
So what can listeners expect from your new album "Beneath It All" (release date of August 17th)?
Listeners can expect a true, from the heart record. Everything is pretty organic. It has a 90s feel to it, and the lyrics are much more raw this time around. I think people will be taken back by some of the things I say. I'm really excited to see the feedback.
How did the writing/recording process differ from that of your previous release "Hold On Tight"?

I had been writing for this record since we started touring two years ago. So I went into the studio with a ton of songs and just rough ideas. That made the process a lot quicker than the last time since I was more prepared. I also co-wrote with a few people, including Butch Walker, Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, Matt Scanell, and Rob and Eric from the Hooters. The rest of the band came in and recorded their parts later on. I got to travel to LA to write so that was really fun.
Any specific artists ya'll were heavily listening to during the writing process that may have influenced the record?
I was listening to a lot of Michelle Branch and old Avril. I think people will hear the influences.
You guys are know to have a great live show, who are some bands/artists whose stage presence you admire?
I've recently been a huge Pink fan. Her live show is so tasteful. She doesn't overdo anything and she has such a demanding stage presence. I've also always loved William Beckett's stage presence, too.
How important is social networking for artists?
I think if artists lose that social networking strategy, it's over. People just want to know you care about your fans. And if you forget about them, chances are they'll forget about you. We're extremely lucky to have created such a wide basis on the Internet. Fans can interact with us on so many different levels now.
With all the success Hey Monday has achieved, how do you guys stay grounded?
We all know how lucky we are. And we know each other well enough to not let one another get a big head. We're very happy people, and we're not bitter about anything. I think that helps.
Any specific advice/lessons you would be willing to share with aspiring artists?
I always say this, but not giving up is the most important thing. Living with "what ifs" for the rest of your life sounds so lame. Don't be afraid of rejection. It only makes success feel sweeter!
How fun was it being on MTV's "Silent Library"?
Silent Library was pretty hilarious. I don't know how the crew kept straight faces the whole time. Because obviously, I couldn't!
Let me paint a picture... You are driving in your car, its a perfect day and you have the windows down, what are you playing ?
I'd be playing "Surprise, Surprise" by The Starting Line or anything off of "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" by Blink182.
What is next for you guys after Warped Tour?
After warped, our record releases, we'll do a few acoustic sets in some malls, then a really awesome tour in the fall!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview with Comedian T.J. Miller

So in an effort to add some "What Not" to "Music and What Not with Mousertime", I went out and got an interview with one of the best comedians in the entire Galaxy. His name is TJ Miller, and I'm pretty sure he may be a genius. On top of being a hilarious stand up comic, T.J. has been in a number of films including Cloverfield, She's Out Of My League and Get Him to The Greek. I also highly recommend spending some time on YouTube watching clips of him as "Marmaduke" in the Television show Carpoolers. Big thanks to TJ Miller and his beautiful curly locks...

From what I have heard you have a well rounded comedic background (stand up, improv, sketch, films, TV). Do you have any advice for struggling comedians?
Struggle. Work harder than anyone around you, and diversify. Take acting classes, focus on writing, try different writing exercises and styles, and success will follow. The only thing you have control over is your work ethic--you can't affect your looks, your innate sense of humor, your charisma--but you can affect your work ethic, and the hardest workers usually succeed. That's what I've found.
Who were some of your comedic influences growing up? Now?
Steve Martin was the biggest. By far. But I also loved the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields. I was very fortunate in that my father was a film comedy connoisseur, and really just a comedy connoisseur in general. So I watched a lot of Peter Sellers, and a variety of other comedy stars from times when I wasn't alive. I find a lot of guys my age now consider Adam Sandler and those people to be their influences. But I was always a student of comedy and especially early film comedy, including silent comedy. Harry Langdon was my favorite of that school, and later on I loved Woody Allen and Gene Wilder. So I really run the gambit or gamete, or whatever it is. I think it's gamut.
What would you say is the craziest thing that has happened while on stage performing?
I mean, one time this guy shot me with a paintball gun but instead of paint balls it was smaller paint ball guns. So I guess it was a paint ball gun gun.
What can you tell us about your upcoming role as "Ranger Jones" in Yogi Bear? Is it just for kids? Are there some adult references thrown in?
It is for Kids and Adults, and there is supposed to be a comedy film in there that also happens to be a family movie. I play the younger ambitious ranger, with a fanny pack full of merit badges and ambition, and I struggle throughout the film over my ambition and ethics. It's a really challenging role, and I found that I had to really delve into what this young man was looking for, who he could trust, and what lengths he was willing to go to become head ranger. I'm hoping for a nomination to be nominated for an MTV popcorn award.
So what gave you the idea to do an audition tape with a real bear? (Hilarious by the way).
Thank you, I did it as a joke. The entire thing is really a joke, from that decision to audition to actually executing the film. I had auditioned because I thought it would be funny and I liked the script and the casting director, but I wasn't pining to do Yogi Bear, although it ended up being a good decision. But in between the first audition and the callback, I decided to film an audition with a real bear. That was a great moment in my life as a comedian when I told my agents "FIND ME A BEAR" and they did it. It cost 1,000 dollars, but it was a good investment and don't think I won't spend a grand on a good joke. So we filmed it, it was wonderful and we sent it to Warner Brothers as if it was a real piece of audition material, as in "T.J. has some additional audition materials he's like to submit and he hope you'll see them in making your casting consideration. He really feels like this will help you see how he would approach the role." It was amazing. The offer came in soon after, but I was first choice before I sent it, so it's amazing that the internet believed that I was desperate for a role and did this as a last ditch effort because the auditions didn't go well. I would have gotten it either way, I did this because I think it's fun to play tricks on major motion picture studios. Then when I received the offer there was a battle over the deal because it included so many sequels, but we got to where we wanted to be (my agents and managers are lovely) and I decided the funniest possible ending to the story and the overall joke itself was to ACTUALLY BE IN THE MOVIE. So I did. It almost killed me, I had brain surgery right after, but I did it and I think it's hilarious that I am in Yogi Bear, hilarious that they got the audition tape with the real bear, and hilarious that I had to wear a fanny pack the whole movie.
How did it feel to be "pre-nominated" for an MTV movie award for your role as "Stainer" in "She's Out of My League"?
I can't even tell you what an honor is is to be nominated to for a nomination and then have the MTV viewers not nominate me after being nominated...So rarely as a comedian do we feel that we are nominated to be nominated for the work we've done, because often we aren't, because it's real weird to have nominations to be nominated. Dominated.
Do you consider yourself a "hard ten"... I think you are..
I don't. I think I'm in the 5 to 6 category because I eat standing up so much. Often and great volumes of food.
How did you prepare for your hilarious role as "Brian" in "Get Him to The Greek?"
I helped people find local restaurants and bathrooms and then dealt some crack cocaine and then checked into the hospital. I did it all in 5 minutes to prepare for the role.
Have you ever played a role where the character has a normal name?
This Christmas I play "Dan" in Gulliver's Travels. I was up for the role of "Travels" but I wasn't a conceptual verb but a person. So I went with Dan. But that's it so far. I've got some real weird names. Marmaduke, Rory, Tuffnut, Brian the Concierge, Gileece in Unstoppable in November, etc. Bizarre.
You have done so much in the few years, what is the next big goal for T.J. Miller?
I want to build my stand up and have more people know me as a live comedian and come to see my shows. I'm doing an hour for comedy central, so I think that will help immensely. I tour nationally whenever I can, so I hope that more people will come see me and see how much material I have and how much of the show is riffing and improvisation, making every show different. I also want to get fired off of a cooking show and do this movie with Jason Schwartzman that I love called Stone King. Hopefully it will work.
What is a question you wish interviewers would ask you?
You just asked it! I always want that one but no one ever does it so I never get to give this answer!
Any upcoming projects that you are working on? Playing any clubs soon?
I am playing clubs in D.C., Edmonton Canada, New York City, and many other places all over. Check my website for dates: and my twitter which is @nottjmiller. I have three movies coming out, Unstoppable in November with Denzel Warshin'ton, Gulliver's Travels in December, and Yogi Bear in December as well. Fun. So please keep telling your friends that I'm "doing well" and "a nice guy for what it's worth." Thank you!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Closure In Moscow Interview with frontman Chris DeCinque

About six months ago I was catching up with my friend Dalton and he suggested that I check out one of his favorite groups, Closure in Moscow. At the time I had only heard the band named mentioned in AP magazine, but had not yet checked them out. I apparently was missing out a great deal. Closure in Moscow's debut full length on Equal Vision,"First Temple", ranks very high on my list of albums that are consistently solid from beginning to end. These Australian natives have been working hard over the past several years, by hitting the road hard and putting on unforgettable shows. CIM's strong sound is a perfect combination of post-hardcore and progressive alt-rock styles, which in turn has allowed them to gain success internationally. Front man Chris De Cinque's tremendous vocal range allows him to deliver a sound that is both haunting and powerful. Right now you can see Closure in Moscow on Warped Tour 2010 in a city near you, so go check them out! Now here is my interview with vocalist Chris De Cinque...
So how has Warped Tour been going so far? What has been the highlight?
Its been a pretty crazy adventure so far... the highlight for me personally has been the ridiculous catering. As a vegan its usually pretty hard to eat well on the road but this tour has me covered prettaaay prettaaaay prettaaaaay pretty good.
You guys seem to have such an explosive show, who were some bands that you looked up to as far as live shows go?
Freddie Mercury and Queen, David Bowie, Bjork...anyone who utilizes theatrical elements in their performance. Secrets in Scale are also a big live inspiration. Opening a set with monkey impersonations is always a winner in my book.
Are there plans for a follow-up to "First Temple" currently in the works? If so can you give a brief summary of how it will be different?
Some ideas are coming together. I'm not really sure how to describe how it will be different but I think it will reflect the personal growth we've experienced.
How does Closure in Moscow normally write a song?
We don't write any songs ourselves so to speak. They are beamed to our conscious minds from the higher dimensional realms of our subconscious. Like a text message from god: "hey guyz, thought u might lyk this song idea. Luv God lol x". When I try to wrote lyrics it doesn't work... But the ones that come out like a bolt from the blue, autonomously, that's the good stuff.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Vince Noir and Howard Moon, Rich Fulcher, Al Swearengen, Cthulhu, Terence Mckenna, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Jacque Fresco and the double kicks from Metallica's "One".
How important is it for artists to listen to a variety of music?
Extremely. There is no such thing as true originality, everyone that creates something is borrowing from what they've been exposed to in their environment. I feel that the meaning of being creative is drawing from your influences and putting together elements in a new context. Therefore, if you listen to a wide array of music you have more to draw from and can hopefully put together elements in a really interesting way.
What kind of advice do you have for artists who want to expand internationally like you have?
Don't focus on things like expanding internationally, focus on making good music and the rest will follow, whether that be going overseas or not. Besides writing and performing, everything else is bells and whistles.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pat Brown of Sing It Loud Interview

How is the "Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour" going so far? It's crazy. That is the best way to describe this tour. We have toured with Every Avenue and There For Tomorrow before and have always had a blast with them. This is our first tour with The Secret Handshake and it's always really awesome to tour with a band you've never met or played with before and become good friends with them. The shows so far have been incredible. I'm a huge fan of smaller venue shows because not only is the energy of a small crowded sweaty loud room irreplaceable but I also think that it gives the supporters that are coming to the shows a huge opportunity to meet and have a conversation with the bands they are coming out to see.
Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your new album "Everything Collide"?For the last year and a half since the release of our debut, "Come Around," we've gotten to go through so many different experiences as friends and as individuals as well. Break ups, meeting new people, deaths, parties, new friends, lost friends and all different kinds of things good and bad. The whole theory behind the album is that life is insane, it's a blast, it can be sad, it's like a thunderstorm, it's just crazy. Sometimes the only way to make it through is to let everything collide and find out what is truly meaningful to you and see what is really worth fighting for.
What do you guys think you did different on this album than past releases like "Come Around"? I think the biggest noticeable difference between the albums lies in the lyrics. While being on the road and going through all these different things that everyone goes through in life, we have to figure them out as a group but yet still alone and away from home. When we recorded "Come Around" we didn't really have much to write about. We wrote songs to write songs because we love it. On this album there was so much we had to say about our lives and about our feelings that we couldn't even fit all of it into an album. We sorted through 25 songs to pick these 11 that made the record. This album is us inside and out and you will be able to understand what I mean when you hear it.
What is the song you are most impressed with on "Everything Collide"? "Letting Go." It's track 9 on the album. This song was the hardest for me to sing vocally. It's the lowest and the highest I've ever sang in my life. Jordan Schmidt who produced and engineered the album really pushed me vocally on this album and for me, this song is a personal win.
How do you guys normally approach the writing process? Kieren wrote a lot of the songs on this album. However everyone throws in their ideas. There are some songs on the album that wouldn't exist if it weren't for Ben and Chris (Addicted To When You're Gone and Wonder Why.) How it works is one person will come with a basic idea. A riff, a verse, a chorus, a chord progression, anything really. After this idea is thrown on the table everyone puts their hands in and creates the rest.
How important is it for artists to listen to a variety of music? It's one of the most important things an artist should do in my opinion. When you're in a band, you have a big group of supporters who listen to and buy your music, come to your shows and watch your videos on YouTube. With every record you release you need to grow as a band. If you don't do that then your group of supporters will grow up without you. Nobody wants to hear the same album released 5 times. If you don't listen to a variety of music, how will you ever grow as a band musically?
What's next, after the tour? You can expect us to be in a city near you in the fall AND we're about to drop our music video for our next single, "Here With You." So definitely keep your eyes peeled for that!
How pumped are you now that the original lineup for Taking Back Sunday is back together? DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED!!!! TBS has been one of my favorite bands since before "Tell All Your Friends" was even released. I would kill to see one of their reunion shows but I can't because we're on tour. BUT I have been watching videos of the shows nightly on YouTube. I can confidently say that it's the most exciting thing that has happened for me in the music world in the last year.