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Skinnie Entertainment Magazine - December 2009

30 Seconds To Mars
Waging A New Kind of War
words by: Kristie Bertucci

It’s been a long four years for 30 Seconds to Mars fans, but their yearning for some new tunes is finally over with the release of the bands third studio album, This Is War. During their absence in the music world, the band and their surroundings changed quite a bit. “A new president, being sued for $30 million, personal challenges, an economic fallout…all that contributed a great deal to the outcome of the album,” drummer Shannon Leto explains. “It’s really all of our experiences that contributed to making of the album—good and bad. If we didn’t go though those things, we wouldn’t have the album we made today.”

The biggest tribulation the band faced throughout that time was their lawsuit with Virgin Records, in which the label filed a $30 million lawsuit, claiming the band refused to deliver three albums as required by its contract back in August 2008. “It was a pain in the ass,” Shannon describes. “My brother dealt with it much more closely, but for me personally, it was painful. It didn’t really hinder the recoding process, but I think it would be a different sounding album if we didn’t go through the experience. The lawsuit was later annulled in April of this year, which allowed the band to fully focus on their This Is War.

Working with producers like Flood (who’ve produced for the likes of U2, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch nails) and Steve Lillywhite, 30STM have really evolved with this new album, allowing fans to get a deeper understanding of who the band is. Best described by Shannon as “raw,” the album’s first single “Kings and Queens” really sets the tone for the rest of the album with its tidal wave of woah vocals, galloping strings and a chorus that will shake you to the core.  “We wanted to greatly express the raw, honest feelings we’ve had and share them with fans,” Shannon says. “We wanted to capture just the brutal truth and I think we accomplished that by encapsulating our everyday lives.” The album is so honest that the guys used literally shared the world around them in various songs. In one song, the sound of someone washing dishes can be heard, while another one features the sound of a hawk that really lived above Shannon’s house.

To get even more personal, they mobilized their fan community at the Avalon Club back in April so they’d be featured on the album. The devoted fans, which are known as The Echelon, showed up in the hundreds for an impromptu recording session dubbed “The Summit.” Fans had the chance to contribute vocals and percussion to the new record and, because the experience was so successful, the band decided to host, though not attend, eight more summits over the summer months in countries around the world, including Australia, Italy and Mexico and many more.

“The Summit was my brother’s idea,” Shannon says. “We wanted to have fans participate in the album and be a part of us since we always feel strongly about incorporating their thoughts into the our music. Their clapping, chanting and vocals were just as important as our instruments for the album. We decided to take it international after my brother got Tweets from fans around the world wanting to be involved, too. It was pretty amazing in the end.” Besides fans, the new album also features Tibetan monks chanting on one sing, as well as a single with Kanye West.

But the fans involvement doesn’t stop at merely their participation via the Summit; the band also wanted them to interpret the album’s title for themselves. “It can mean many things: being at war with yourself, being at war with people around you, being at war companies or what have you,” Shannon explains. “Really, it’s left up to our listeners’ interpretation while they’re listening to the record, and I think that when you’re going through change and trying to discard old ways of doing things, you can be at war of sorts with yourself; think people can relate to that. But in the end, it’s really important for people to interpret it themselves.” While he hopes fans love each and every song off the album, Shannon says his current favorites are “Night of the Hunter” for its sexiness” and “Alibi” since it’s “so stripped down and real,” but admits his favorites change all the time. 

Founded in 1998 by Shannon and his brother Jared, 30 STM first started as a small family project, but has now evolved into phenomenal act with massive followings. “I would have never thought our songs would be on the radio,” Shannon says about the band’s success. “I was just compelled to make music and doing it just because. When people start gravitating toward your music, it’s an amazing that that can’t really be described. It’s such a great feeling when you play in front of people and you see their faces as they sing back the songs to you and you feel their energy—there’s nothing else that really compares to that.” Focused on This Is War and its world tour next year, Shannon isn’t sure when the next 30STM album will come out, but knows that his holds a lot more opportunities of sharing his and the band’s experiences with the world and their devoted Echelon fans.


The Basketball  Diaries
The newest addition to the Los Angeles Lakers

Wearing the much respected and just as hated yellow and purple jersey for the first time in his illustrious career, you’re not alone if you find yourself scratching your head while at the same time thinking about last year’s playoffs and that path that brought Artest a little further west. Yes, this is the same Artest who threw down a challenge to the NBA’s crown prince, Kobe Bryant just six months ago. It’s the same Artest who was ejected not once but twice in the Rockets/Lakers Western Conference Semifinal matchup. An outsider might think that a feud had been sparked, but it just takes a simple knowledge of professional sports to know, it’s all about the color of your current jersey and the team that pays your bills. Then again, maybe it isn’t. “Sometimes you have to remember that you’re playing basketball and that jersey really has no meaning to it because when you’re playing and you take off the shirts, it’s just a bunch of men playing basketball,” says Artest.

ast spring, it was a hard elbow to the throat by Bryant which sent Artest over the edge. Literally adding insult to injury, Artest was called for the foul on the play. Instead of walking it off to cool down, it became a man-to-man issue. You don’t elbow at Artest in the throat and expect to get away without a tongue lashing. Bryant probably could’ve told you what Artest had for dinner by the proximity of his breath. Artest was sent to the showers early. The following game, Artest planted a hard foul on Laker center Pau Gasol and was again asked to watch the rest of the game from the locker room.  In each case, announcers and players involved in the game admitted that ejections were a bit much. That’s something Artest knows comes with the territory.

“It’s the history of this being a corporate world. It’s no secret that when you’re loud, you’re quicker to get in trouble, probably go to jail faster than somebody else. When you’re not how people want you to be, you’re quicker to be scrutinized by people who have an opinion on you,” said Artest, who went on to talk about his understanding of the reasons behind his ejections. “You’ve gotta look at the history. That’s how the referee’s and I think (commissioner David) Stern said it before. He took all things into consideration when I got ejected and he said they were protecting the game. You have to take all things into consideration, what I’ve been through and what type of person I am, and that’s part of the reason why he ejected me so fast. At first I thought they was kind of racist. Stern and the referee. A couple years ago, I thought Stern was a racist but after I read into the story more, I slowly kinda changed my view and I started to think maybe he’s just all business. Understanding that, I have to adjust to my environment as well as other people have adjusted to their environment. There’s an adjustment for everybody.”

Those interested in a story that never happened have said that Artest was essentially traded to the Lakers for playoff golden boy Trevor Ariza. Truth be told, they were both free agents who just happened to switch places. With that twist of fate, Artest is the only Laker on the active roster who wasn’t afforded a ring when the season started. What better situation for one of the most coveted free agents on last year’s market then to go to the defending champs. According to Artest, it hasn’t been a struggle at all thanks in large part to the hall of fame coach running the show. “It’s been pretty easy. Just kind of breaking in, coach (Phil Jackson) has been helping me out a lot. Players have been real easy to get along with. It hasn’t been hard at all,” he said. “(Jackson’s) always trying to help us understand that we’ve gotta get better. He’s not the type of person to really get down on us that much. He’s more like ‘Guys, we’ll get better. Hang in there.’ He’s a veteran’s coach.”

It’s inevitable that Artest will constantly field questions this season about his relationship with Kobe, now that they’re allies. It’s not a problem, Artest insists. “Now we’re teammates and you don’t battle against your teammate. I don’t know what team does that,” said a laughing Artest, just before he offered up a story to the contrary about a dream he had. “I had a dream one time that I was on this team and I was playing for the Lakers and I accidentally fouled (Kobe) and we were on the same team. I fouled him and he’s like ‘Ron, what are you doing?’ I’m like ‘You’re not scoring,’ and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, we’re on the same team.’ That was kind of funny.” Aside from basketball, the two ballers are allies away from the court as well. “We go out together and eat lunch and meals and talk all the time. We’re around each other all the time while we’re playing and have a chance to communicate as a team all the time.”

Many fans of the NBA know Artest from his pivitol role in the Pacers/Pistons brawl five years ago. The then defending Defensive Player of the Year recipient was involved in a dispute with Pistons center Ben Wallace on the court. What began as an argument between professionals turned into a fan throwing a beer on Artest from the stands. Artest and some teammates rushed the crowd and a historical explosion between civilians and players ensued. The melee earned Artest a bad boy reputation and cost him millions in lost salary as well as the final 73 games of the season, a record non-drug-related suspension. Artest has moved on from the attention surrounding the incident, but stands firm in his resolve that he didn’t do anything out of character. “I didn’t start it and I didn’t injure anybody. If it was in my control, it would’ve been a little more difficult handling it,” he recalled. “It was a situation that somebody else was supposed to control as far as security and other people. There was nothing I could do to control it. It was definitely a big story and it went from selling news to contributing to losing someone’s job. As far as the TV world like CNN and Fox, ESPN, they’ve all gotta sell sponsorships. That event selling sponsorship and people watching those channels, that helped me lose a job. It wasn’t even all my fault. You deal with it and you move on. You always move on with your life.”

Artest has always been generous with his cash, even going as far as to offer to forfeit his salary on numerous occasions to keep talent and coaches on rosters. This past July, he signed a five-year, $33 million deal with the Lakers. Fans have traditionally griped about the amount of money professional athletes take home and in this hostile economic environment, there’s even more whispers of an imbalance in income. Artest pointed out that the players are merely getting their share of the pie that owners compile through ticket sales and team revenue and shouldn’t have to defend their profession. “Some people gripe at the salaries and you’ve gotta look at how much money the owners are making. The owners are making a lot of money. Some owners wanna give it to the players and then you’ve got people like David Stern who does a good job of protecting all his money. If I was an NBA owner, I think I probably would like someone like David Stern who’s gonna protect the owners from themselves ‘cause they might spend too much money. That’s where Stern does a good job. If anybody gripes, they should gripe at everybody, not just the players.”

People have noticed a change in Artest this season. The word “mature” has been thrown around in more than one Lakers broadcast as if Artest has to prove himself rehabilitated with the start of each season. “I think I’m just getting older and understanding that life is bigger than basketball. Sometimes some things are not worth stressing yourself over. The only thing worth using some brain cells over is like, family-type things but everything else is just rewards. It’s a reward that God gives you so you’ve gotta enjoy the reward. That’s how I look at it.”

You have to go all the way across the country to the east coast to a project in Queens to find the origin of the sometimes rough upbringing of Ronald Artest Jr. When you see someone murdered on the playground during a game as a young man, it’s not easily forgettable. It’s also not wise to think that a kid growing up in that environment can make the jump to the bright lights and big money of the NBA without a hiccup. “Other people have had tougher stories than what I’ve had. I’ve seen a lot of things, but I’ve still lived a pretty smooth life. It was still kind of rough,” explained Artest. “People kind of don’t understand that it’s really not easy for somebody like me to play under certain circumstances and they kind of wrote people like me off immediately. Instead of understanding what’s the problem and actually understanding why a person feels the way he feels. Some people know. That’s the amazing thing and the funny thing. They know why a person feels the way he feels and they just wait for them to mess up and when they mess up they act like they were the smartest people in the world. They act like ‘I told you so,’ when actually that person was never perfect anyway.”

It’s choices in life that separate those who overcome a rough childhood with those who succumb to it, according to Artest. “As a kid, you’re only influenced by adults and that’s it. Mistakes as a kid are really innocent mistakes. When I grew up, I realized there were some things that I seen that wasn’t right,” he said. “Something was wrong. As a kid, you grow up with love in your heart, as a baby, as an infant, as a child. When you experience violence or hate, or you experience negativity, then you’re either not smart enough to understand it’s wrong or you (do) understand it’s wrong. That’s why you see people grow up how they grow up. That’s why you see people grow up as great leaders or great math teachers or doctors or some people grow up in jail.”

Artest knows that whether he likes it or not, he’s a role model to countless kids who look up to NBA players. “I created a new type of role model. I’m not the role model that’s not perfect that just don’t care and doesn’t want to be a role model. I’m the role model that’s not perfect that does wanna be a role model,” said Artest, who also doubles as a record producer and musician. “I make mistakes and I might make another mistake. I do care. Especially with the youth. That’s no bullshit. They’re the future. I’ve got kids. When we’re gone the only people that’s gonna keep the earth green is the youth. I know that sounds kind of corny but it’s definitely important that this earth is green for my kids and my grandkids rather than being brown and full of dirt.”

Down the road, Artest would like to take up professional boxing, a sport his father used to participate in. He’s so serious that he’s already started training, even though there are still four and a half years left on his contract with an opt-out for the final year. “I’ve been training for the last two years. I haven’t been sparring, I’ve just been training, so depending on how I end in a couple of years or how successful I am in basketball, that will determine whether I give boxing a shot,” said Artest, adding that, if he could box any NBA player in history, he would take on Ben Wallace. “That’d be a big money maker,” he said. “The good thing about it is, I haven’t got hit a lot. That’s why I kind of like getting hit on the basketball court. I can hit my face, I can hit my ribs. I kind of enjoy those moments. When I start boxing, I’m gonna get hit a lot.”

Chalk up another reason why Kobe Bryant has to be thrilled to be playing alongside number 37 this season instead of against him.


James “Jamie” Lovett
Riding The Waves of Addiction and Reality Television.  
words by: Melissa Fouler  

Professional surfer and Cabo native James “Jamie” Lovett has a plethora of accomplishments on his resume. Being the youngest kid to go pro at only 14, Lovett has numerous wakesurfing, skim boarding and flow- riding championships under his belt. The charismatic surfer is sponsored by SRH, which he proudly rocks the spade in his clothing choices. He recently added a title of a different sort to his resume: reality star.
Lovett, along with seven others, can be seen weekly on VH1’s Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. Until he made the appearance on the show, Lovett admitted he could never talk about his addiction openly. “It was pretty crazy to be trying to talk about it even when I was on the show,” he said, adding that the discussions would sometimes make him laugh because he was embarrassed for talking about the addiction he never openly discussed before.

Even though he was airing out his dirty laundry on national television, Lovett admits that wasn’t the scariest part about being on the show. “[My biggest fear] was being locked up in a room with a whole bunch of hot chicks.” He also admitted that he got some slack from his surfing buddies as a result of being on the show. “Yeah [there was] a lot of rousting definitely for being on there, everybody kind of found out my problem.”

Lovett credits his good buddy and SRH honcho Kevin Zinger for getting him on to the show. “He actually got me the whole opportunity and saw that I was in a big whirlpool and was going around in circles,” he said. He goes on to add, “He told me ‘look, you have a big opportunity and your super talented, but it’s wasting away and you’ve got to get yourself straightened up.’” Lovett said that with Zinger he probably never would have done the show.
While some doors have opened up since becoming the quirky star of the reality show, Lovett continues to do what he does best: surf. “After I got off the show I went right to the tour and have been doing most of it the last couple of months.” After a top showing in the Florida Vilano Crossover Contest in August of this year, Lovett is excitedly getting ready for the upcoming year.

As the upcoming series of competition are ahead of him, Lovett has a new found focus and appreciation for the sport he holds so dear. “I’ve actually woke up every morning at 5:30 to 6:00 and been able to check the waves,” he said. This is a welcome change from staying up all night and missing the perfect waves, he added. This determination resonates with the way he sees life as well. “Life is an accomplishment just in itself. I think just getting through everyday is a great thing,” Lovett said. He goes on to add, “To have a house over my head and car to drive, which is something to be thankful for.”  As far as the future of the sport goes for Lovett, there is still more to accomplish. “I just can’t wait to be able to push the sport and really get out there and watch everything grow,” he said. He goes on to say, “I think the world is still so small and were just going so fast ,[in the future] who knows they could be flying on boards that fly in the air.”


Mexico City, Mexico
A Cultural Icon of North America words by: Elysia McMahan

There is no comparison when it comes to other cities in Mexico. The Distrito Federal, or Mexico City as it is called in English, is one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. A young democracy that broke free from an essentially one-party political system, today, is known as “el DF’ by proud locals. Although the impression of this capital city is as a lawless, smoggy place, it is a big soul and one of the most vibrant urban spaces around. With beautiful pedestrian-friendly, upscale districts that are dubbed the Beverly Hills of Mexico, this is a destination that is rich in Aztec, colonial and modern art and architecture. Restaurants, museums, art galleries, fashion shops, tree lined boulevards, boutiques, taco stands, and the haute and demi mondes are present in Mexico City. Past and present rest side-by-side.

The tale of its past is accompanied by overwhelming amounts of physical remains, which are as dramatic and complex as it gets. It’s true that Mexico City can be a tourist’s pleasure. If one can concentrate on more than just the historical and archaeological aspects of this place, it is a study in opposites. This is where people have been living with drug cartels and organized crime for many years. Where aggression meets calm, high prices are bargained down, and Maserati’s roar past beggars on the street. People here are always on the hustle, struggling to survive. “Few countries on earth have greater cause to be xenophobic.”

¿Puedo tomar una foto?
Many oddities exist in Mexico City, eliciting the response of “What’s that!?” But beneath Mexico City´s flesh lies the ancient Indian culture that once ruled over a vast territory of Mesoamerica. Infamous for more than just merely its air pollution and more recently its H1N1 outbreaks, it remains one of the world’s most exciting and exhilarating metropolitan hubs. The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence, found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma. The Zócalo is the center of cultural activity, with live music and theatre taking place regularly. The Festival del Centro Histórico, held in March, is a celebration of popular and classical dance, music, exhibitions, and other cultural events that attract performers from all over Mexico. This place is also home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, Latin America’s largest Catholic Church; which isn’t surprising, considering that Catholicism takes the upper hand in these parts. In the northern suburbs, the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, often referred to as La Villa de Guadalupe, is the holiest shrine in the country. It was built on the site where, in 1531, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared three times; disguised as an Indian princess to Juan Diego, leaving her image miraculously imprinted on his cloak. The cloak has been preserved and remains hanging behind the main alter within the church.

One of the best pre-Columbian cities in Mexico is Teotihuacan. It sits only 30 miles outside the city and can easily be toured in less than a day. It covers about five miles and features countless structures, including the chief among them, the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The Xochimilco Gardens are what remain of the old lake city of Tenochtitlan. Here you can rent boats, drink and dine while a boatman poles you along waterways, not unlike the gondoliers in Venice, Italy. Cuernavaca and Taxco are among the most popular excursions immediately surrounding the capital. Cuernavaca is a posh escape for Mexico’s elite and is known for its cool weather, clean air, walled streets, and picturesque aqueducts. As for Taxco, the entire town is a national monument. For an offbeat travel experience in the Mexico City area, consider a visit to the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan, which is hidden behind high cobalt blue walls on the corner of Londres and Allende. Mexico City’s largest park, Chapultepec Park, is the site of numerous cultural and historical attractions. Among them is the Chapultepec Castle. This is the former residence of Porfirio Diaz and Emperor Maximillion, as well as where the U.S. Army attempted a stage invasion in 1947.

More Than Just Being Serenaded By Mariachis
The nightlife in Mexico City is arguably the best in the whole country. If you’re looking to avoid the streets of La Condensa, where sex-workers (born out of desperation) cruise for johns on their wit, you may want to take the path less traveled. Sure, nightlife is a matter of taste. Some people like theatre while others prefer a dive bar in a shady neighborhood. You can have it all. You can catch a show at Bellas Artes, experience fine dining in Polanco, or take a seat at relaxed bars and cafes in Coyoacan. But you don’t need to read this to know that your party needs will be met when visiting this place.

There is an outdoor swap meet, Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, that is held every Saturday which attracts thousands of people and has been around for more than 25 years. It is a flea market for everything music that mostly consists of metal and punk but also caters to all types of youthful music genres. It also carries with it the usual array of interesting items any of our typical swap meets here in California have to offer.

The concert venue, Circo Volador, showcases mostly to Metal bands from around the world that come to Mexico City and Foro Sol is a bigger arena that has hosted more trendy artists (Britney Spears, KISS, etc). After a long night of drinking turned into an early morning, the popular eating spot is a Mexican restaurant called Cafe Tabuba. This location became even more famous after having a Mexican rock band named after it.

The Seedy Side
Due to the crime and poverty that exists in Mexico City it is even a dangerous place for locals. The war on the drug trade hasn’t picked up any speed considering the fact that many of the top agents are involved in associating with cocaine cartels.

Pimping is against the law in most parts, but prostitution for adults is legal in Mexico, except in brothels, bars, nightclubs or cabarets, thus forcing it onto the streets. There are enacted tolerance zones which allow regulated prostitution that function as red light districts. It is undetermined how many prostitutes work in Mexico City but authorities estimate that there are 3,000 just in La Merced alone. So, if during your travels you decide to indulge in getting a bit of ass, just be sure it’s not a woman in disguise. There are many male prostitutes and transvestites that could lure you into a dark alleyway before you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.

As far as strip clubs go, they’re everywhere! Just be careful not to fall in love with one of the dancers, as you may be seduced by their exotic charm. And although you may leave with one of them, this of course requires some negotiation.

“Beware of the green taxis,” some have warned. Catching cabs in the street can be dangerous. Taxi robberies (express kidnappings) have occurred and victims have been robbed and taken to various ATMs, only to have their credit cards maxed out.

Either Way, Mexicans Don’t Even Like Coronas.

Mexico has demonstrated an impressive capacity to overcome crises despite it being thought of as a “failed state.” When you think of Mexico I’m pretty sure you think of the dark, underbelly of society; one of the piracy capitals of the world as far as burned CD’s and DVD movies go. A tourist trap for unsuspecting college kids, marines on leave and your every day schmuck-alike. But from the moment you cross the border, you enter into a world of the unknown. So, whether you’re out here looking to find that Dumbo piggy bank, mass amounts of chiclet, the drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman (up in those mountains) or to indulge in the rise of its edgy fashion, to understand this place you would have to mix corruption, ancient cults, love, percussion music, “left” revolutionary consciousness, romance, and preachers and dealers of all sorts into one. If you’re willing to throw your inhibitions out the window, let loose, and risk having your organs harvested, then throw on that big ass sombrero and fake mustache. Just be sure to have a valid passport with you and don’t put too much Tapatio on those dollar street tacos. And if you’re emo, beware of the Darketos! Mexico. You either love it or hate it. That place you’re avoiding because of last decade’s news just might become your favorite spot on Earth.

“Viva Mexico, Cabrones!”


Ready For Round 2
words by: Lacy Ottenson

It’s probably hard for most of us to imagine what it must be like to walk in the shoes of someone like Andrew Stockdale- lead guitarist/frontman of Wolfmother-one of the biggest bands to have exploded onto the scene in years. That’s because everything that Andrew Stockdale has been through in the last few years-starting with his band’s rapid rise from obscurity that quickly transformed Wolfmother into a chart-topping, world touring, award winning household name; to the sudden and unexpected exit of two of the band’s founding members; to what ultimately led Stockdale to deliver his band’s triumphant return-is really nothing short of unimaginable. 

The story got its start back in 2000 when Stockdale first formed Wolfmother in a small town in Sydney, Australia along with keyboardist/bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett .  The band spent the first four years in relative quiet anonymity as they thoughtfully crafted and developed the sound which would eventually catapult them into mainstream stardom.

When their self-titled debut was released in October 2005, no one saw them coming. The band soon found themselves swept up in a tidal wave of publicity tours  and growing fame which garnered the band critical acclaim from just about everyone  with an opinion and a pen. Soon publications began splashing their faces across the covers of magazines, while their songs benefited from heavy airplay on MTV and constant rotation at rock in roll stations.

But even as the band burned through the charts accruing milestones and collecting awards along the way, they were already deeply inundated with the task of satisfying the rabid hunger the world had for their unique blend of vintage modern rock, with a tour schedule that would eventually end with over 300 grueling dates logged on the road.

 What most didn’t realize at the time was just how road-weary the band had become and how tensions within the group were beginning to take their toll.  And although the endless touring was instrumental in building the fan base which they still have today, it also proved to further extend the growing rift between its members and in 2008, citing “longstanding frictions,” Wolfmother announced that two of its founding members, keyboardist/bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett, had quit the band.

Wolfmother’s self-titled debut had sold over 500,000 copies in the US alone, they’d won a Grammy in 2007 for Best Hard Rock Performance, their singles were topping the charts, they were requested to perform at concerts and festivals the world over, and then as suddenly as it all came, it ended.

The main creative force behind Wolfmother was now facing a pivotal choice-he could lay down the dream and move on, or he could pick up the pieces and try to start over. Stockdale chose the latter. After a two year hiatus, a newly reenergized Stockdale went back to work recruiting new band members and wasted little time in jumping back into the studio with his new and improved band.

With his freshly enlisted help which now included drummer Dave Atkins, bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres, and guitarist Aidan Nemeth, Stockdale along with producer Alan Moulder (of Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails fame), headed down into a studio in Byron Bay, Australia and began the long-winded recording process once more.

The change of scenery and fresh perspective proved to be just the right recipe for creating a more than worthy follow up to the mind-blowing debut of 2005, and if there was any added pressure to create such a worthy successor weighing heavily over him, Stockdale wasn’t letting it show, “Yeah the two band members leaving was a challenge but I had been under pressure before.”

Referring to the anxiety and pressure he had experienced with recording the Wolfmother debut, Stockdale explains, “I had already been through the pressure of not having a record label to being watched by everyone. Essentially I went through a lot of anxiety with the first record when we were told we needed to write 5 or 6 extra songs for it. I was a little overwhelmed at first but we ended up coming up with some really good songs that way.”

And judging from the all-out assault of melodic grooves and thick, hard rock punchiness of its opener “California Queen” or with the album’s first single “New Moon Rising,” it’s apparent that the creative and psychedelic-infused imagery which was so prevalent in the songs from their debut, was not lost on Stockdale with this newest installment. If fact, Cosmic Egg unabashedly delivers a second helping of the Wolfmother everyone was hoping for. “I’m really very happy with it; there’s a simplicity to it that I think really connects with people,” adds Stockdale, “It’s not too over thought or complex.”

Although generally thrilled with how the Cosmic Egg turned out, Stockdale still admits there are some things he’d do differently, “On the next record I’m not going to do things over and over again. By the time we got to mixing it I was tired of hearing it. Some of the songs that I wrote toward the end like “Cosmic Egg” and “California Queen,” were totally spontaneous songs I came up with and didn’t over think, so there’s definitely something to be said for keeping it simple.”                 

Armed with an amazing new rock album (which dropped on Oct 27) in his arsenal, Stockdale will once again return to the road this winter with Wolfmother on their first headlining North American tour in over two years, as a stronger, more united front.  With the past’s lessons learned and an already well-established fan base, Stockdale by all accounts appears to be a man who knows exactly what he wants, “I’d like to continue to make more music but not go around the world again and play at one level and then go around again and play the next level, and then once again playing at the next level; I mean yeah, it would be nice just to do it once and then maybe play the festivals and then write a new record.” He pauses on the thought and after a brief moment of contemplation, Stockdale seems happy to repeat it, “Yeah that’d be nice.”<


No Rest For The Undead
words by: Eric Bonholtzer

Fresh off the success of directing the hit sequel Halloween II, Rob Zombie is already gearing up for the release of his next album and subsequent tour.  While to most people, so many projects with no breaks would make them feel like they were working like zombies, for Rob Zombie it’s not just refreshing, it’s a manifestation of his biggest hidden fear.  “Truthfully my greatest fear, and it makes people around me insane, is not knowing what I’m doing next,” he reveals. “I try to plan things out years in advance,” he explains, “Most people finish a movie and go, ‘I need a vacation,’ but I finish a movie and the next day I’m like, ‘what are we doing next?’”  Zombie’s strong work ethic is admirable, though it’s well-founded, as he stays continually successful in an industry where it’s difficult to stay relevant.  “It’s such a weird business,” Zombie says about the entertainment field, acknowledging that no matter how successful you get it’s always easy to fall from the top of the heap.  “You see it with a lot of actors, too, because you never know what’s next,” he confides.  “You’re always afraid that no matter what you do, you could have the biggest record or movie of your life and the next day you’re paranoid that nobody cares you’re alive anymore.”  The fleetingness of fame is one thing that Zombie hopes to avoid and that’s why he constantly keeps busy, even making forays into other markets such as the comic book world and even animated films.  “I’m doing comics because I had five minutes off after Halloween II and I was like ‘I have to do something,’ so I started doing comics again.”  All of it, though, is a part of Zombie’s master plan, which has been working to perfection, as he continues to be a major force in the industry.  “I’m always having to have something, so I’m like, ‘I got this comic coming out, then this animated movie, then another record, then another movie, then another record because I can never not have something in the works.’”  

Zombie definitely has something in the works, as his new album, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 now on Roadrunner Records. The album was recorded just after Zombie’s last tour, though he kept it under wraps and continued to work on it while directing Halloween II, which fits with his penchant for planning. “We came off tour, we finished this record, and put it in the vault and then I went and did Halloween II.”  But the album was never far from Zombie’s mind, “I was gone for nine months finishing the movie, but I knew as soon as I was done we would fire up the band.”  In typical Zombie fashion, it was all part of master planning.  “The record was done and I know when this tour is done, I have the next directing thing I’m going to do then my next tour.”  Zombie is adaptable, though, as he states, “I didn’t want to put the record out and then go make a movie,” he says, “I was like, ‘well, let’s hold it and when the movie’s done we’ll put it out and go on tour which was a great luxury.’”  This kind of thing is not common in the music industry and Zombie explains that the process was a huge boon for the album.  “Usually you finish a record and you immediately put it out, but to let it sit there for nine months or so, we could really live with it and listen to it and tweak little things that might not have been wrong, but we might not have done normally.”

While comparisons to Educated Horses, Zombie’s last release which was generally heralded as more experimental and alternative, are inevitable, the musician/director explains that his new album isn’t so much getting back to his roots, as helping fans realize that he never left them.  “What happened with Educated Horses is something that I feel that musically was not that different, but visually it was, so people heard it differently.”  He says that it was more of the overall look of the album, as opposed to the tracks that made fans receive it differently.    He explains that the stripped-down look of the Educated Horses is the reason the fans perceive the record differently and there was a good reason for the change since the composition of the band changed from his first releases.  “The reason we stripped it down is that at that point I was just putting the band back together because the band that was the Hellbilly Deluxe album, The Sinister Urge album, monster band was gone and I didn’t want to do the same thing again because it would just be really phony.”  He goes on to say, “I wanted to break it all down again and just be a band and rebuild the vibe and I felt that if we came out in monster suits and all it would just seem really contrived.”  Zombie relates that now, though, he was ready to bring his trademark horror image to his music, which is why he decided to title his latest release as a sequel to Hellbilly Deluxe, Zombie’s first solo album. “We just needed to play as people first,” he says, “But now we’ve been working together for five years and this is the best band I’ve ever had so we just had to rebuild it into what it was before so now that’s the reason it’s evolved into Hellbilly Deluxe 2.”  He explains that, in the end, “it just felt like what was happening when I made the first record,” and that was why he felt the album deserved a sequel title.  “I had the idea for a while but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it,” he says. “I felt that this was either the greatest idea I’ve ever had or the worst idea I ever had,” Zombie jokes.  “But then we started doing the pictures and it felt natural.”

Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is a natural progression in terms of sound as well, and while it’s easy for an iconic musician to stick to a formulaic sound, but much like his film exploits, Zombie is all about treading new ground.  “‘Sick Bubblegum’ is probably the song on the record where you’d go, ‘that’s the signature sound, that’s the typical Rob Zombie sound’” he says, but explains that, “other songs are very different.”  Zombie’s penchant for exploring new musical grounds is part of the reason he’s been able to stay so popular in the music industry. “I think it’s essential to always be doing different things,” he explains.  “I never wanted to become a product or a Las Vegas act.”  He goes on to say that, “It’s very easy to give people exactly what they’re asking for because they’re only asking you for something based on what you’ve done before.”  He explains, though, that this kind of mentality only stifles artistic creativity.  “When people don’t know what you’re going to do next and then you do it they’re like, ‘I like that, too, I wouldn’t have thought of that.’”  Zombie stresses that this realization is key to his success as an artist.  “In the end, we just go in there and do songs that we like, because that’s really all you can do, since with every record, even the White Zombie records, you write a song and you’re like, ‘everyone’s going to like it and no one cares and then everyone’s favorite song is a song that you thought was a throwaway track that you almost didn’t put on the record.”

Zombie, though, seems to have the magic touch, and fans can be certain that Hellbilly Deluxe 2 will be filled with favorite tracks for all listeners.  With such a strong work ethic, fans can rest assured that Zombie’s career will be alive and kicking for a long time to come, and that his musical and directorial legacy will never be laid to rest

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