Friday, July 31, 2015

Interview:--> Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy)

"The second time around is never the same."
~ Eric Bell ~

Directly responsible for the rise and popularity of Thin Lizzy, not to mention coining the name for the band, guitarist Eric Bell will forever be remembered.

From his joyous barn-raising guitar crankage on "The Rocker" his definitive gentle and anthemic bar-bellowing "Whiskey In The Jar"...the "vagabond rocker" who provided the guitar fuel was loved and admired by fans and peers alike.

But after Thin Lizzy's fantastic 3rd album "Vagabonds Of The Western World" (1973)... Eric, who was struggling with personal demons I won't rehash, simply walked away.

For the longest time I had simply lost track of Eric Bell, until stumbling upon a wonderful little gem..."Lonely Nights In London" that he had recorded in 2010.  Always a big fan, I was really fortunate to catch up with Eric and talk about the music.


Casey Chambers:  Good to talk with ya, Eric.

Eric Bell:  Casey, can I call you the "Wichita Lineman?"

Casey Chambers:  Absolutely! (laughs)  Eric, I forever became a fan when I discovered your guitar work all over Thin Lizzy's..."Vagabonds...".  And it's still one of my all-time favorites.

Eric Bell:  Sure.

Casey Chambers:  One of many highlights from the album is your "modest" guitar announcement delivered on..."The Rocker."  Exciting...and still fresh meat.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, thank you.  That was a new sort of chord I learned. (laughs)  I was trying it out.  The start of "The Rocker" has that chord in it, which I don't think I'd ever used before.  It's a different voicing.  It's in A.  A Major but it's a different sorta shift.

I'm trying to do things like that at the moment.  It's like going back in time really.  Y'know, the Beatles started that song, "A Hard Day's Night" where George Harrison hits that strange G-11th chord.   'Baiiiiiiiiiiiing! It's been a hard...' (singing)

Casey Chambers:  It almost startles ya, doesn't it?

Eric Bell:  Yeah.  And then Cream did it with another song..."I Feel Free."  There's a jazz chord that Eric Clapton uses at the start of that song.  E7 with an added 9th or something. (laughs)  So it sorta seems to go on.  And then I did it with "The Rocker."  Sorta hit this pental chord.

"The Rocker" - Thin Lizzy / "Vagabonds Of The Western World" (1973)

We recorded "The Rocker" live because Philip (Lynott) asked me, 'Eric, what way do you want to do this?'  I said, 'why don't we try it like the way we play on stage?'  I think that was the second take.  And that's the one we used.

Casey Chambers:  The second about that!

Eric Bell:  Yeah...yeah sometimes the things do work, as you know.  Sorta quite easy.  And other days when it's just like wading through treacle. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  That song was recently featured on a soundtrack for the movie, "Rush" (2013).

Eric Bell:  That's right.  About the racing car driver.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I have had people tell me that "The Rocker" was used.

Casey Chambers:  Your last studio album was..."Lonely Nights In London." (2010)  It's a bluesy-rock offering which is a real gem to spin.  It rocks...but there's also moments of comfortable weariness to the sound.  I find myself reaching for it a lot on late-nighters.

Eric Bell:  Oh thank you.  Yeah, that was recorded in Bernie Torme's Irish guitar player from Dublin who used to play with Ozzy and some other pretty big names.  And he had a studio in England that was in the middle of nowhere.  I ended up recording "Lonely Nights In London" there.

And it really was out in the sticks. I had to stay out there overnight and it was like a bed and breakfast. (laughs)  Yeah, the album was pretty good.  A lot of what I recorded live, y'know, like the way I'm bound to play on stage was just done as a three piece and I just basically started playing.

Casey Chambers:  Well, it turned out great.  And I especially enjoyed the songs that speak of quiet desperation.  The title well as "Belfast Blues" both capture the rabbit.

Eric Bell:  The song "Belfast Blues" is about growing up, leaving school and joining the real world.  I had a lot of trouble trying to work the 9 to 5 job and I had a lot of 9 to 5 jobs. (laughs)  I always found it very strange and absolutely detested them.

And I got very depressed over it.  I started practicing the guitar very hard, putting a lot of work into it...but my family didn't see me having any future as a musician, y'know?

At that point in time, I didn't like living in Belfast and I left with an Irish showband and went to Glasgow, Scotland as a full time musician.  And that's what that song is all about.

"Belfast Blues" - Eric Bell / "Lonely Nights In London" (2010)

Casey Chambers:  There's a very nice YouTube of you performing that song on Eastside Sessions.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, that was real good because it was at The Strand.  Sort of a, what would you say... an old fashioned cinema. One of the old cinemas still going in Belfast.  It hasn't got 9 small screens.  It's got the one huge screen.  And a balcony and big scarlet curtains that close over the screen.  It's a really nice place.  And that's where we recorded that.

Casey Chambers:  In the mid '70s, you recorded a couple of albums with the Noel Redding Band (bassist - Jimi Hendrix Experience).  The second album..."Blowin'" (1976)...was recorded here in the States down in Texas.

"Blowin'" - The Noel Redding Band (1976)

Eric Bell:  Yeah, that's right it was.  I think it was a place called Sugar Hill Studios.  It was where The Big Bopper recorded "Chantilly Lace."  So a few well known people had recorded there.

Casey Chambers:  Well, any studio with a musical history has to be a good thing.  Was this the first time you had recorded in America?

Eric Bell:  That was the first time I was ever in the States.  I missed going there with Thin Lizzy.  And going to Japan and Australia.  So my first tour in the States was with Noel Redding.

I didn't like most of the music in The Noel Redding Band.  It didn't feel right.  It didn't feel natural.  'Cause I was so used to playing with three piece bands and Noel's band had a keyboard player which was quite heavily pushed.  A lot of keyboard playing.  And I didn't know sometimes how I'd fit.

Eric Bell, Noel Redding, Les Sampson, Dave Clarke

Casey Chambers:  One of the songs from the album was "Love And War"...a song you wrote while with the band.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, I was actually just starting to write complete songs then and I didn't really know what I was doing. (laughs)  Dave Clark, the keyboard player and songwriter...he had no more songs at that it was just the management asking me, 'Eric, do you have any songs?'  And I came up with "Love And War"'s not great but y'know, it was a start.  I was trying to write songs.

"Hold On" - Noel Redding Band / "Blowin'" (1976)

(editors note: Could not find a YouTube of "Love and War" anywhere.  Does anyone have one?)

I co-wrote a lot of stuff with early Thin Lizzy.  Like Philip, he would play me a song that he had written and I'd sort of change quite a bit of it...put in new chords and all sorts of riffs and little fill ins and things like that.  And I think doing that actually helped me to start writing songs.  I'm much more into the songwriting now.

Casey Chambers:  Thin Lizzy's definitive version of "Whiskey In The Jar" has grown to become a powerful and emotional anthem. And your gorgeous guitar work is all over the "Jar-o."

Eric Bell:  Oh, thank you. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Whose idea was it to record this one?

Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Phil Lynott 
Thin Lizzy

Eric Bell:  That was a complete fluke.  We were...Thin Lizzy...was rehearsing in a pub in London, which we used to do every week if we weren't out playing.  And on this particular day there was nothing happening.  We tried to work on some original songs but the mood wasn't there.

So Phil had started messing about with these...these silly songs and at one point he started singing "Whiskey In The Jar." (laughs)  Myself and Brian (Downey) started playing along with him just out of boredom more than anything else.

Our manager (Ted Carroll) came in at that point with a new amplifier for me to try out and as we were looking at the amplifier our manager asked us, 'What was that song you were playing just before I came in the door?'  Philip said, 'Ahh we were just messing about, Ted.'  And Ted said, 'Yeah, but what was it?'  Philip said, '"Whiskey In The Jar".'  And he basically talked us into recording it.

We already had a song for an A side called "Black Boys On The Corner" but we didn't have a B side.  This was for our first single with Decca Records.  Anyway, we went in and recorded "Black Boys On The Corner" and then everyone asked us what we wanted to do for the B side.

"Whiskey In The Jar"  w/Gary Moore and Eric Bell
(Tribute To Phil Lynott - 2005)

We were sort of talked into trying "Whiskey In The Jar", so we went out and did it.  And it took me forever to think of the guitar parts.  It was just unbelievably difficult.

Casey Chambers:  You worked it out and that song opened up a lot of doors for you.

Eric Bell:  It did.  Yeah, it really did.  And we weren't prepared for it in a way, y'know?  But it certainly started to pave the way for Thin Lizzy.  There's no doubt about it.

Casey Chambers:  And I saw the appearance you guys made on "Top Of The Pops" doing that song.

Eric Bell:  Yeah. (laughs)  It's very funny you should say that because one of my ambitions as a young musician was to be on "Top Of The Pops"...which I thought I would never ever do.  I mean how do you go about it?  A sort of an unknown musician from the backstreets of Belfast wanting to go on "Top Of The Pops" is like...What?!'  And it happened and it was just...I couldn't believe it.

But I was just going through a bad time in my life at that point.  So if I appeared on "Top Of The Pops" now, I would be very very excited about it.  But then, I just wasn't.  Philip was.  Philip was over the moon about it.  And so was Brian.  But I was just going through this thing in my life and it wasn't such a big deal.

Casey Chambers:  Was that the first time you had appeared on television?

Eric Bell:  No.  My first time was with a showband from Dublin. (The Dreams)  We recorded a song written for us by a pop group called The Tremeloes.  They used to be very famous in the late '60s in England.  And they wrote a song for us called, "I Will See You There."  And somehow our manager got us to appear on a TV show in...I think it was Hamburg.  Anyway, y'know it was a German television show and we were just miming to the record.  That was the first time I was ever on TV.

"I Will See You There" - The Dreams (featuring Eric Bell) (1967)

Casey Chambers:  Do you remember the first album you ever bought?

Eric Bell:  The first album I ever might have been The Shadows or Lonnie Donegan because I was completely nuts about them.  I absolutely loved'em.  I still do.

He was the first guy that I ever heard that was was just so exciting.  There was a lot of very square music being played on the radio, y'know?  'I'm a pink toothbrush, you're a white toothbrush' type of thing. (laughs)  Very strange songs but they weren't great.  And when you're 14...which I was, 14 or just don't want to listen to the same music your parents listened to.  But that's all there was.

And then one day I heard this record called, "Rock Island Line" by Lonnie Donegan and I just...y'know, my life changed once I heard it.  It was just unbelievable.  But Lonnie Donegan...he interested everybody in England.  John Lennon. Keith Richards. Eric Clapton.  All the top guys.

"Rock Island Line" - Lonnie Donegan (1955)

If you look on YouTube Casey, you'll get all of this amazing black and white footage of him playing live.

Casey Chambers:  I absolutely will.

Eric Bell:  Yeah, it's really worth seeing.

Casey Chambers:  Any chance you'll be heading into the studio again soon?

Eric Bell:  Oh, absolutely.  I did this blues sorta gig about nine months ago in Manchester for Andy Quinn.  And after the gig he asked if I'd be interested in doing another album.

So about two months ago, I went in and recorded five tracks which are basically finished...but they have to be remixed.  I was gonna finish up another five tracks later this week but I got the news his daughter had taken ill.  So I plan to finish up recording in about three or four weeks.  I'm trying to go for an atmosphere of moods in the songs.

Casey Chambers:  That's gonna be some good stuff to look forward to.  Let me know when the album wraps so I can add a link for readers to get their ears on it.

Eric Bell:  Oh yeah, sure.


Casey Chambers:  Well, I think I've taken up enough of your time, Eric.  Thank you for all the great music you've made and thanks for hanging out with me this evening.

Eric Bell:  Oh, you're welcome, man.  You're the "Wichita Lineman."

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, I'll own it. (laughs)  Keep on bringing the sounds, ok?

Eric Bell:  All right Casey.  And thank you very much.

Good stuff

Casey Chambers
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Interview:--> Byron Berline (Quintessential Bluegrass Fiddler)

"How country do you want this?"
 ~ Byron Berline ~

So you pick up an instrument and there's just no telling where it might lead.  The sound of the fiddle can quickly fill your chest with joy from a thousand endless summers...and just as quickly break your heart with tears from a thousand goodbyes.  All from a single draw on the bow.

Byron Berline is a homespun memory-sparker.  Sure, he can "Orange Blossom" the bejeezus out of your ears all day long.  That's a bluegrass given.  And if you want, he can saw off an elbow-bending solo that demands you either hang on or fall off.  He does it.  But even better are the beautiful fills Byron lends to a song...adding just the necessary shine without changing the intent.  Sounds easy...but it ain't.  From Bill Monroe to The Rolling Stones...Byron Berline has padded his resume quite nicely.  He's a solid definition of a cool fiddler breeze.  And he has led a pretty extraordinary life.


Casey Chambers:  Byron, you received an invite to play on The Rolling Stones' song..."Country Honk" off their classic album "Let It Bleed."  Would you tell us a little bit about how this rock coup went down?

Byron Berline:  Well, I had just gotten out of the army.  I had been playing with Bill Monroe.  I was down in Louisiana and was lucky enough to get into special services, so I was able to keep playing the fiddle.

The day before I got out of the army, Doug Dillard called me and wanted me to come out to California and record with Dillard & Clark on their second album.  And so I did.

"Polly" - Dillard & Clark / "Through The Morning, Through The Night"  (1969)

While I was there, I ended up doing a few other sessions and things and they asked me to move out there and join their band.  I thought, 'Well, better than going to Nashville and back to whenever I played with Bill Monroe.'  Which I thought I was gonna do.  Just go back to Nashville.  So I said, 'Okay, I'll move.'  My wife, we were married at the time, we moved to California.

It was there I met Gram Parsons.  He was playing with The Flying Burrito Brothers at the time.  And little did I know, he was hanging around with The Rolling Stones.  Especially Keith Richards.

He was trying to get them to record more country sounding stuff, y'know?  So when the Stones decided to recut "Honky Tonk Women"...they thought about putting a fiddle on it.  So Gram recommended me to do it.

And I'll never forget.  I had gone back home to get my furniture and stuff for us to move out to California and I got a call at my farm in northern Oklahoma.  They called and asked me to come out there.  I said, 'Well, I'll be out there in about six days.  Will that work?'  And they said, 'No, you have to be out here tomorrow.'

So, they flew me out from Oklahoma City.  Phil Kaufman, who was their roadie at the time, picked me up at the airport.
We went up to this house on Doheny Drive in Hollywood and they were all hanging out up there.

We went down to Elektra Studios on La Cienega Boulevard that afternoon and I listened to the track.  They said give it a try and see what I could do with it.  After I went over it a couple times in the studio, they said, 'Come on in, 'Line'.  I thought...oh, they don't like it.  They're gonna send me home. (laughs)

So, Glyn Johns and Mick Jagger said, 'We think it'd be good if you went out on the sidewalk and recorded  your part.'  They put a microphone and a speaker outside where I could hear the track.  By this time, all the members of The Doors had shown up.  Bonnie Bramlett was there.  Leon Russell was there...which I didn't know who he was.  They were all just standing around, while I'm playing this track out on the sidewalk in front of the studio.

"Country Honk" - The Rolling Stones / "Let It Bleed" (1969)

I went through it about five or six times.  And the last time I went through was getting about dark bow slipped a little bit.  And they said, 'That's the one we like.'  I said, 'Did you hear the bow slip?'  They said, 'That's alright. We liked that.' (laughs)  And that was that.

I went back in the studio and Keith and Mick were there doing some vocal overdubs.  I got a little bored with that, I guess, and asked if I could borrow a car.  I wanted to go see Doug and Rodney Dillard.  I knew where they were and they weren't too far away.  So they gave me the keys to a limousine and I took off and picked those guys up.  We went down to The Troubadour Club like we were somebody. (laughs)  I remember Rodney saying 'Let me drive.'  We're all smoking cigars and looking important, yknow? (laughs)  It was funny.

There was a guy taking pictures of that whole session but none of them have surfaced.  Not one picture except for one of Bonnie Bramlett looking out the window at me during the recording.  You can see that on Facebook.  But that's how that all came about.  That was one of the first sessions I did when I was out there and it really helped me a lot.

Casey Chambers:  I'd say that was about as good a start as one could ask.  You also became associated with another iconic entity when you got a little face time on an early "Star Trek: TNG" episode. (for those keeping score, it was...S1-E5 "Where No One Has Gone Before" ) How did you make it onto the Enterprise?

Byron Berline daring Riker to get his trombone.

Byron Berline:  Well, they were looking for a violinist or fiddle player.  Anybody who could hold a fiddle and look like they knew what they were doing with it.  I got a call from an agent who asked if I could head down to Paramount Studios and audition for a "Star Trek" scene.

I went down there and the first thing they want to do is look at you and see how you would look in one of their uniforms as a crewmember.  They didn't even ask to hear me play or anything.  They just wanted to see what I looked like.  So I went home and later that evening they called and said, 'Be here early in the morning for makeup.  You got the part.'  And the guy that played Riker...

Casey Chambers:  Number One...Jonathan Frakes.

Byron Berline:  Yeah...he recognized me and said he'd seen me play with The Flying Burrito Brothers in New York City one time.  And he was telling everybody on the set. (laughs)  I thought it was pretty cool that he was into that kind of music.

It took all day long to do that scene and they had an amazing set on that show.  You could get lost on the set.  It was so huge.  It was exciting.  It sure was.  A lot of people saw it when it first aired and said, 'Is that you?'  I said, 'Yeah, it was.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  And that wasn't the first time you had been in front of a camera.  You made an appearance in the very successful film..."The Rose." (1979)

Byron Berline:  Oh yeah.  Bette Midler's movie.  Harry Dean Stanton had a part in it, too.  The director (Mark Rydell) actually had directed an earlier movie that Dillard & Clark kinda got kicked out of.  It was a movie called "The Reivers" (1969)  He dropped all the music and we dropped out of it, too.  So when he did this one, he wanted to make up for it and hired us.  It was a scene with Harry Dean Stanton, Bette Midler, Rodney and Doug Dillard and myself.

Casey Chambers:  You released a wonderful album ..."Fiddle And A Song" (1995)...that was filled with skills and a whole lot of bluegrass fun.  Plus it was nominated for two Grammys.

Byron Berline:  It was.  I had a lot of different people playing on the album with me.  I got Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs to record "Sally Goodin'" with me.  That was the first time those two had been in a studio together since the '40s!  So that was a big event for them...and myself.  There was Mason Williams.  Vince Gill.  Jan Brown.  A bunch of different people, y'know?  Everyone got along great.  Thought it was a good idea to have'em all on "Fiddle And A Song" (laughs)

"Sally Goodin'" - Byron Berline / "Fiddle And A Song" (1995)

Casey Chambers:  Another standout track from that album was "Sweet Memory Waltz."  Tell me about that one.

Byron Berline:  Oh yeah.  Well I came up with that melody when I was backstage in Vegas.  I was there at the Fremont or someplace.  I just started playing it and thought I'll have to remember that.

Later, Jack Skinner, who was a bass player in my band...Sundance...he liked the melody and wrote some words to it. Took him about ten minutes to come up with the words. And he recorded it on his album.  Then I redid it on mine and we had Vince (Gill) sing it.  And people do like that song.  A lot of people who play in fiddle contests do it.'s kind of nice to have your songs played by other people.

"Sweet Memory Waltz" - Byron Berline / "Fiddle And A Song" (1995) 

Casey Chambers:  Byron, you have played with beaucoup artists from Dylan to the I'm just gonna pick one to throw at ya...if you don't mind...and see what you remember.  There's a lost gem on Elton John's..."21 At 33" (1980)...called "Take Me Back".  You put a beautiful stamp on this song.

Byron Berline:  Yeah, they called and wanted to know if I'd play on it.  I remember the session well.  When I went to the studio, Elton was there, of course.  And he was really nice.  I listened to the track and I asked him, 'How country do you want this?  Do you wanna be able to smell the manure on your shoes?'  And he said, 'That's what I want!' (laughs)

So I tried to play it as country as I could for him.  And it got a nice review in People magazine, if I remember right... my solo on that.  It was a long time ago.  And Bernie Taupin, who wrote a lot of stuff for him, asked me to record an album with him shortly after that.

"Take Me Back" - Elton John / "21 At 33" (1980)

Casey Chambers:  I'll have to track that one down.  You got a "special thanks" nod in "Back To The Future III" (1990).  How did you become associated with that movie?

Byron Berline:  Well, it was right at the end.  And it was an afterthought.  They were in the studio winding down the whole thing.  All the score for the whole movie.  They had seen this ZZ Top song and thought, 'Boy, we could sure use some twin fiddles on this.  Some banjo.  Something to make it more bluegrassy or whatever.'  So they called me and we got together.  So I got Dennis Fetchet and myself.  Can't remember the banjo player's name right now.  Anyhow, we went in and did it real quick.  And just like I say, they were already wrapping up the whole deal and thought they needed to get that on there.  We did.  It worked out.

Casey Chambers:  Very cool.  Speaking of bluegrass, every year you host the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  That sounds like a lot of fun.  How did that come about?

Byron Berline:  It is.  I had the idea.  I knew I was gonna move back to Oklahoma in the early '90s or so.  And I had told Joe Hutchinson, who eventually became our state representative at the capital here in Oklahoma about the idea...and he thought it would be great to have an international event.  Invite groups from all over the world to play bluegrass and, of course, have our own bluegrass artists from the United States play as Bill Monroe and whoever and just make it a fun event.

Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival

When I did move back in '95, we got together and he never forgot me and we ended up doing it.  Our first year was in 1997.  Coming up this year will be our 19th festival.  So that idea worked out really well.

Casey Chambers:  Something to put on my bucket-list, for sure.  You were also inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame.

Byron Berline:  Yeah, in 1999.  Vince Gill and I and...yeah, that was kind of a big deal.  Oklahoma's been really nice to me since I moved back.  I've really enjoyed myself.  I couldn't be happier living here.

Vince Gill & Byron Berline 
Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame

Casey Chambers:  Now you were born in Kansas...

Byron Berline:  Right. Caldwell.

Casey Chambers:  Were you raised there, as well?

Byron Berline:  No, I was raised on a farm in Oklahoma.  My dad's dad did labor on a Cherokee Strip in 1893.  And my dad was born out there on that farm.  But Caldwell was our closest hospital...our closest schoolhouse.  It's where we got our mail. We were right on the Kansas-Oklahoma line.  The old saying goes...'Oklahoma claims he's from Kansas; Kansas claims he's from Oklahoma! (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  What are some of your favorite albums?

Byron Berline:  One that I'm listening to right now is a Suzy Bogguss album that she did of old folk songs.  I just love that one.  It was a great idea she had to record it.  She's gonna headline our festival this year.  It's a wonderful album.  It's well done and I just really enjoy listening to it.

The most fun album I ever did...I had all these musicians together y' Dan Crary. John Hickman.  Skip Conover on dobro. Then I had Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and James Burton play on it.  JayDee Mannes on steel.  John Hobbs on piano.  We just mixed it all together.

Casey Chambers:  That would've been fun to sit in on!

Byron Berline:  Oh, and Lee Sklar on bass was most important.  He was really amazing on that.  And we just sat around and put down a bunch of instrumentals I had written.  It was just...I really enjoyed that a lot.  Bill Monroe didn't like it much 'cause it had steel in it. (laughs)  Anyway, it was a fun album.  It's called "Outrageous" (1980).

"...a delightful session that easily stands up to repeat hearings." ~AMG

Casey Chambers:  Old habits can be hard to change! (laughs)  I've really enjoyed talking with you this morning.  Is there anything you'd like to add?

Byron Berline:  We have The Double Stop Fiddle Shop and Music Hall here in Guthrie and we still perform every other weekend.  People from all over come in all the time.  We always have brand new people come in every time we play.  We have a lot of fun.  And we have a really good band.

Casey Chambers:  I can see a road trip in my future.

Byron Berline:  There you go.  And a lot of people from Wichita do drop by.  It's only two hours away.

Casey Chambers:  Thank you very much for taking the time.

Byron Berline:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

The Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival

The Double Stop Fiddle Shop

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow me on FACEBOOK  &  TWITTER

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Interview:--> Eric Moore (The Godz)

"I'm gonna burn
right up like a 
two dollar pistol
rocket shot through the sun."
~ The Godz ~

The Godz rock n roll was never about "pomp & circumstance".  It was never meant to be poured from a Zeppelin chalice or waved like a U2 flag.  It was simply rock n roll with a biker bar attitude.

Grease under the fingernails.  Drinks from a dixie cup.  A bit of chauvinistic swag, but nothing to get hung about.  This ain't one of those "you break it, you bought it" kinda snob shops here.  Nobody's taking names and the hall monitor's havin' a smoke.  Take your "serious" somewhere else.  Or maybe you could hang around awhile, crank it up and be a rock n roll machine.


Casey Chambers:  Your epic rock anthem..."Gotta Keep A Runnin'"...came out on The Godz debut album in 1978...and I recently heard it again on an all-request show and was reminded how much I enjoy it.

Eric Moore:  Oh, cool!

Casey Chambers:  How did that song come together?

Eric Moore:  I had been with this girl from the time I was 19.  I had just turned 21...22 and was sure that I was in love.  And, of course, she fucking broke my heart and messed my mind.

I thought it was love.  I wanted to have kids, the whole nine yards and shit.  But when she started hitting me with this, 'well, maybe you can be in a band on the weekends, but you can't make your life being in a rock and roll band' crap...

I thought about it for a couple of months.  Got a straight job and was just playing on the weekends.  But the band was pretty good and had a real chance at getting a record deal and shit, and she kept going on about...'oh you don't want to do all that crap.'   I mean, that got old.  Finally, I said, 'fuck it.'

So, during the week that I was packing up my shit and looking for a place to stay...that's where the song was coming from.  I hadn't written a whole lot of songs before that, y'know?  Eight or ten songs. Learning how to be a songwriter.  Well, the last couple of nights that I stayed with her, I still had my acoustic guitar and I just sat down and wrote that song.  When I was alone, I'd just sing it real loud.  And that was it.  'Fuck you, I'm gone.'  That's where that song came from.

"Gotta Keep A Runnin'"  -  The Godz / The Godz (1978)

Casey Chambers:  The spoken rap you throw in during the middle of the song is krazy kat.  Was that on the fly?

Eric Moore:  Well, The Godz played as a bar band for a long time.  And what we'd do is, when I'd make up the songlist, I'd take one of our originals and put it in-between a couple of cover songs I knew the audiences liked.  A Rolling Stones song or a ZZ Top song.  Or an Aerosmith one.  Whatever.

And that song kind of carried it's own.  We could do a Rolling Stones song, and then do "Gotta Keep A Runnin'" and then we'd do an Aerosmith song or something.  And if everybody stayed on the floor...then we knew we had a good song.  And with that one, the audience was just out there...they're  groovin' and diggin' it.

So, I started talking in the middle, just making stuff up, trying to keep'em on the floor.  Happy and partying and shit.  And every night I'd tell a different story and the crowds started liking that.  People started asking me if The Godz are "rock and roll machines". (laughs)  All that kind of stuff.  Hell, I was just winging it.

But when I first recorded the song, I recorded it straight.   I thought I was done with the album and went back home to Columbus (Ohio).  But then the record company called me up and said, 'Hey man, everything's okay but you gotta go back and do all that talking you do in the middle of..."Gotta Keep A Runnin'."

So I had to drive all the way back to the studio. (The Swamp in Flint Michigan)  We were there for two days trying to get that talking part.  I tried to remember all the things I'd said before, but I've never done the same rap twice in the same way.  I wasn't sure what to say and it just came out.

Casey Chambers:  Well, that makes it all the better.

Eric Moore:  Even when I do it now, it's something different every time.  'Cause I just don't like doing a canned rap.  Sometimes ya talk about guns, outlaws, motorcycles, getting high...whatever's on my mind, that's what I talk about.

Casey Chambers:  Your first two albums... "The Godz" (1978)  and "Nothing Is Sacred" (1979) were both released on Casablanca.  How did the Godz get signed to that label?

 "The Godz" (1978)

Eric Moore:  Well, we had a bunch of record companies checking us out, because all of our opening acts back then were already signed.  We're headlining the shows and we don't have a record deal.  So, there was a bunch of different record companies coming to see us all the time.

The Godz
 (Eric Moore - center left)

And Jimmy Ienner from Millennium, which was one of the Casablanca labels came to Columbus (Ohio) to see us.  We had lines in both directions around the block to get in the place.  It'd take 40 minutes to get inside the club.  And when we came on stage, Jimmy told me later, 'Man, 30 seconds into your show, I decided you guys had to be on the record label.'

When we learned someone from the Casablanca family was paying attention to us, we were kind of hip about that.  They made us a real good financial deal.  I mean, any record label that would have Kiss has got to be able to put up with our shit.  So yeah, we went for it.  It was cool.

Casey Chambers:  Rock legend Don Brewer (Grand Funk) produced your first album.  How did it go working with him?

Eric Moore:  Real good.  Don Brewer was great.  An incredible talent.  Grand Funk was a serious fucking rock and roll band and had worked with some really great producers including Frank Zappa (and Todd Rundgren).  Don had plenty of experience in the world of being a major label recording artist.  And when you got something from Don, it wasn't just hammer blowing off steam.  It came from real experience.

He told us...'Don't fuck your manager.  Don't fuck your record label.  When you're in the studio, act like you give a damn.  I mean, it's everything.  This is going to live longer than you do.  This album's gonna be here a hundred years after you're in the ground.'  He just gave good advice.  The sound of that first, that sounded like The Godz.  The guy really knew what he was doing.

Don was gonna do the second album too, but he had a deal going on up in Michigan and had to go I kinda got roped into doing it.  When I produced "Nothing Is Sacred", I had my head up my ass.  When you're a producer, you're supposed to make the band sound their best.  Make them sound unique.  That's what we got from Don Brewer on that first album and I can't thank him enough.  He did some pretty wonderful things for my career.

"Under The Table"  -  The Godz / The Godz (1978)

Casey Chambers:  Who came up with the golden chariot idea for The Godz debut album?

Eric Moore:  Casablanca had a lot of people in their art department.  And we'd talk to them and they'd send us back pictures and sketches with little paragraphs here and there with their ideas.  And in the beginning, we were getting a whole bunch of ideas that we didn't like.

After we'd finished the last mixes on the album, we were still unsure how the cover was gonna turn out.  I went up to New York City and walked into the art department and they had this whole theme going based on Erich von Daniken's "The Chariots of the Gods" book.

All of us had read "Chariots of the Gods" and we used to talk about it.  When we were on the road back then and living in hotels together, we'd talk about all kinds of things.  Pyramid power....ya'know...all different kinds of stuff.

The Godz
(Eric Moore - center)

It was just the kind of subject that would make for good conversation.  Late night stoned conversation in a motel room. (laughs)  So it was interesting and different enough that we didn't not like it.  Anyway, there were a couple of people at the record company who could go off in that same vein...and when I saw what they were doing, I told'em...'Hell, this is cool.  Let's run with it.'  So they did and it came out okay.

Casey Chambers:  You guys made an early music video for the song "He's A Fool" off your second album "Nothing Is Sacred".

Eric Moore:  Oh yeah!  We made that video at a bar in Jersey.  It was shot with the 60 Minutes crew.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, really?

Eric Moore:  Yeah!  They had their trucks and a bus.  They had lights.  They had every fucking thing.  I remember their show was on channel 10...CBS...every Sunday.  Those fucks knew what they were doing.

In the video, it may look like we're really drunk and the reason being...we were all really drunk!  When we got there, we're thinking they'll shoot the video like you'd shoot a show.

But they had us run through the song 10 or 12 times and every time someone is taking a drink out of a whiskey bottle...well...they were really taking a drink out of a whiskey bottle.  There wasn't no iced tea in there. (laughs)

So we ended up having a good time.  I wish it would have been a bit more of a professional production...but was a lot of fun to do.  And those girls in it weren't professional models or anything.  I think, they were just some girls we knew or something.  I don't know.  We had a good afternoon doing that. (laughs)

"He's A Fool"  -  "Nothing Is Sacred" (1979)

Casey Chambers:  That sounds like a good memory carried.

Eric Moore:  It was.

Casey Chambers:  Who were some of your influences growing up?

Eric Moore:  Oh God, I was...I came up in church.  My first instrument was the mandolin.  So I grew up listening to gospel and bluegrass people.  I thought Bill Monroe was God.  That was the world I came up in.  When The Beatles happened, I was the only kid in school who actually knew how to tune a guitar and play chords on it.  That changed me a lot.  It changed my life.

Eric Moore

It's easy to look back now and put everything into categories.  In the course of a couple of summers, when I was going through puberty, ya had The Beatles!  The Stones!  The Yardbirds!  The Beach Boys!  All that stuff happening.  And I had those records.

I grew up with a radio stuck in my ear and all that wonderful music pulling at me.  Everything from bluegrass to surfer music to The Rolling Stones turning me on to Muddy Waters.  I'd be bebopping down the street listening to The Temptations or some other Motown stuff on the radio...and then next you'd have The Beach Boys doing "Little Deuce Coup".  It was a wonderful time.

"Luv Kage"  -  The Godz / Nothing Is Sacred (1979)

I've got sons of my own and I watched them grow up and go through their teenage years...and it was so different when I was a kid.  When I was a kid, you'd get a stack of 45s and go over to your girlfriend's house and you would dance.  You'd listen to all that music and you would dance and it was wonderful.

My first really big rock and roll concert was The Beach Boys.  But my first rock and roll show that I ever saw was at a southside YMCA.  It was a rock and roll band that had an upright bass and a piano in it.  They weren't that loud, but I can remember standing there by myself and when that music hit, I started dancing.  The stuff that turned me on was the stuff that made ya move.  So when I started playing in bands, it was all about the dancing.

Casey Chambers:  Did The Godz ever have the opportunity to perform on any music shows or talk shows?

Eric Moore:  Oh, we did a shitload of live radio.  Simulcasts.  You couldn't say 'fuck' or 'suck my dick' or none of the other words.  But at the same time that we were playing for an audience, the local radio station would broadcast it.  Here in Columbus, it was always WCOL.  And that was pretty cool.

When you're playing live someplace like The Agora here in can be in front of two or three thousand people.  But if it was also being live broadcast, then it was like playing for 50 or 60,000 people.  And back then, that was a big deal.

It gave us a chance to be in people's living rooms before we were doing a whole lot of recording.  We made a lot of good fans that way and I liked doing it.  We did some stuff later on that ended up being used for a TV show or a movie or something like that.  Something that was already recorded that they inserted into their show.  And that was cool.  I don't mind getting royalty checks.  Those are great.  But a live simulcast was way cool.  I really dug doing that.

Casey Chambers:  Okay, I gotta know.  What show was it?

(A friend reminds Eric it was "Police Story"...a 2-part episode called "A Chance To Live"...with David Cassidy. They used "Gotta Keep A Runnin'".)

Eric Moore:  David Cassidy?  I thought he was a dork. (laughs)  Anyway, David Cassidy was in it.  "Police Story".  I don't keep track of a whole lot of that stuff.  People come up and tell me, 'hey, I was watching TV and I heard one of your songs on it.'  That's really cool.  I dig that.

Casey Chambers:  Ha!  That makes me want to go watch the episode even more now.

Eric Moore:  Yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing it myself. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Many might be surprised to learn The Godz released a 9 song ball-blitz in  2012 called..."Last Of The Outlaws".  How did I miss that?

Eric Moore:  The songs on "Last Of The Outlaws" are songs I like to call my motel room show.  Y'know...when ya get back to the motel room after a show and you're half-loaded and there's a bunch of people there for a party.

Sometimes you write a song and you know it's for the band. And we'd record it.  But these songs were personal.  We had the chance to do another CD and I decided we'd do the stuff that I always wanted to do.  And that's where those songs came from.

Casey Chambers:  I just gave a listen and it sounded like you've been sandbagging some good stuff.  Enjoyed it.

Eric Moore:  Oh, thank you.  I'm glad you liked them.  Two or three of those songs had never been introduced to the band.  And they turned out okay so I'm glad we did'em.

Casey Chambers:  Is there anything you'd like to add, Eric, before we wrap up?

Eric Moore:  Well, I appreciate doing this with you.  I think it's way cool.  I like to try and get some of the truth out now and then.  You wouldn't believe the stuff that we hear.

There's gonna be a show here in Columbus on Saturday May 30, 2015. It's called A Celebration of The Godz.  I'm gonna be there.  And there's gonna be bands from all over.  Mike Paradine Group is coming from New Jersey.  And great bands from around here.  Tom Hagley is gonna be there.

It's gonna be nice seeing some of my old friends I'll get the chance to hit the stage for some good songs.  And also, I want to give a special thanks to...Jeff Westlake, The Godz guitar player...for all his hard work in remastering and reissuing our material.

Casey Chambers:  Sounds like a really special show.

Eric Moore:  Yeah, if you wanna meet the neighborhood,  you're more than welcome to come along.

Casey Chambers:  Hell yeah!  Eric, this has been a real pleasure talking with you.  Thank you very much.

Eric Moore:  Well, I appreciate it too, sir.  We'll do it again.

The Godz Official Page
The Godz Facebook

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Interview:--> Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) -- Part Two

"I remember well
the oath I made that fall..."
~ Manilla Road ~

"Manilla Road is one of America's -- make that the world's -- great cult heavy metal bands. Geographically isolated, fiercely independent, and highly original."
- All Music Guide

"Manilla Road has never been mainstream.  Never been a GPS point of interest on the corporate music map.  Yet fans are very much wise to the game and find them anyway."
- The College Crowd Digs Me

(click here for part one)

Casey Chambers:  During the 80s, Manilla Road were knocking down pins.  You ran the table for the rest of the decade with..."Open The Gates", "The Deluge", "Mystification" (my fav), "Out Of The Abyss" and opened the 90s with..."The Courts Of Chaos" (1990).  And then suddenly, Manilla Road just sorta fell off the face of the earth...

Mark Shelton:  That was when we thought we were dead.  Or I thought I was dead. (laughs)  Because no label wanted to touch us for quite awhile in the '90s.

Casey Chambers:  So what went south after your wall-crumbling "...Courts Of Chaos"?

Mark Shelton:  I had disbanded Manilla Road after that and formed another band called Circus Maximus with Andy Coss  and Aaron Brown.  We made a really fantastic album.  But our Black Dragon label decided that it should be a Manilla Road album because it would sell better.  They didn't want to have to go through the pangs of launching a new band.

And, so sure enough, the album came out and it was marketed as a Manilla Road album.  But it didn't sound anything like Manilla Road.  Maybe one song or two had some similarities, but for the most part..."Circus Maximus" (1992)...was a progressive rock album.  So after that, there just wasn't any support from any labels.

"Circus Maximus" - Manilla Road (1992)

There was just nothing happening.  It seemed like the metal market was dying at that point.  I kept playing, but I sorta resigned myself to being a dad, raising my family and being a husband.  Worked a regular job at a golf course.  And I played a lot of golf. (laughs)

I remember playing golf with Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick and he knew I was miserable because we hadn't been playing.  Bryan wasn't in the band at that point.  He'd been on the road crew and road manager for us.  He said, 'Man, you gotta get outta this funk.'  And I told him, 'Hey, it's not like that.  I got great kids.  I'm not really unhappy, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels in life.  I'm just not doing what I want to be doing.'  So he said, 'Well, quit fucking not doing it and let's start working on a project.'

"Dig Me No Grave" - Manilla Road / "The Courts Of Chaos" (1990)

So I went and bought myself a digital recording unit and we started working on putting some songs together.  It was just ourselves and a drum machine just to see how it would turn out.  We didn't really have the band together yet.  We made it through about six or seven songs when we got a call from the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany.

They asked us...Manilla come and play.  Well, I'd been working with another bass player, Mark Anderson, and he was all game for it.  Then I called Randy (Foxe) 'cause I didn't know any other drummers who I thought could play the parts.  

But a couple of  days later, after I had already told the promoters we were gonna do it, Randy ended up in a situation where he couldn't do it without jeopardizing his job.  I didn't want to back out of the show, because the organizers were already making the arrangements.  Airplane tickets.  Hotel arrangements.  Blah, blah, blah.

I quickly found Troy Olson, and he learned the drum parts as best he could in a very short period of time and we went and did the show.

Casey Chambers:  Excellent!  This is good stuff.  Manilla Road...wailing the stage again.

Mark Shelton:  It was an eyeopener for me when I got over there.  Just as this was happening, Iron Glory Records in Germany had made an offer to reissue "Crystal Logic."

So it was just coming out when we did Bang Your Head.  Perfect timing.  And Iron Glory had pressed up like a thousand of the red Smiling Jack T-shirts.  Y'know, the skull with the viking helmet on it?

And on Friday, the first day of the festival, they had sold out of those t-shirts in about two hours.  So when we actually played on Saturday, there was a sea of Manilla Road shirts in front of us.  And it was a huge festival.  There was like 40,000 people there.  The largest audience I had ever played for.

There were people from all over Europe.  A contingent from Greece, Italy, France...people had come from all over.  And this was the first time we had ever played in Europe.

I found out right away even though I didn't have any of the other original members, everybody was cool with it.  They figured, if I was still the one singing and playing guitar and writing the music, it was still Manilla Road.  That's when we started getting offers again, and we took the best deal with Iron Glory.

Casey Chambers:  Ten years is a long lay-off.  It must have been exciting, if not just a bit unnerving, hitting the studio again.  But you guys brought it...with "Atlantis Rising" (2001)...quickly followed by "Spiral Castle" (2002).  Both powder kegs.  It must have been very gratifying seeing your fans hadn't deserted you.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, it was very exciting.  I've been continuing to stretch the boundaries of our music.  Fusing genres.  Trying to educate.  I don't think we should be so specific in our likes and dislikes.

Metal didn't just spring out of itself.  It came from all sorts of other styles of music.  Doom metal is like the old heavy psychedelic rock that I grew up with.  We have doom metal fans that love us.  We have death metal fans that love us.  We  have thrash and prog-metal...all these fans of different genres that like Manilla Road.  So it's cool that we've split genres and crossed over into so many.

Casey Chambers:  Right.  Expanding our appreciation of differences rather than closing the windows.

Mark Shelton:  Exactly.  There's a band called Darkthrone down in Scandinavia headed up by a guy named Fenriz.  Really progressive death metal, black metal type group.  And he's a huge Manilla Road fan.  And because somebody of his standing has said this, fans into that genre are taking the time to at least go to Youtube and check out some Manilla Road.

Casey Chambers:  Didn't they mention Manilla Road in one of their songs?

Mark Shelton:  Yeah.  Yeah, they did  He was real cool about that.  "Raised On Rock" was the name of the song.  "We sold our souls for Manilla Road" is the line.

Casey Chambers:  There's probably a tattoo walking around somewhere...

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, that'd be great.

Casey Chambers:  I recently heard "Necropolis" covered by the band Visigoth.  Have you heard that yet?

Mark Shelton:  I have!  I thought they did a real good job.  There's also another band...Cauldron...young guys that did a version of "Necropolis".  It's like a new age punk version of it. It sounds really good, too.

I was really impressed because "Necropolis" was almost a punk song to me anyway.  Strangely enough, and I'm probably setting myself up for the slaughterhouse here...but I'm actually an old Sex Pistols fan.  Dead Kennedys.  Stuff like that.  I used to listen to a lot of punk.  That's why Motorhead was so cool, because I thought they were like the perfect in-between of punk and metal.

Casey Chambers:  What was the very first concert you went to?

Mark Shelton:  The first rock event I ever went to...hmm.   When I was a little kid, I used to go and listen to Rick Hodges' band Crank practice in the basement of a neighbors house near my grandparents.  This was up in College Hill.  Well, they were doing a free gig in a basement/auditorium thing at this church.  And that's probably the first actual rock and roll show I ever went to.

But as far as big concerts go, right after that, Black Sabbath was coming into town.  They had just released "Paranoid".  I had no clue who these guys were.  I got talked into going with some friends.  Stood right in front of Tony Iommi all night and was like, 'that's what I want to do.  I want to do that.'  I was a drummer at the time.  I wasn't even a guitar player yet at that point.

Casey Chambers:  Some early Sab!

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, and it was just as loud as could be.  I'd never heard anything like it.  Those thunderous, interval bar chords, they became so famous for...that nobody was doing until he came along.  Tony Iommi set the pace for what turned out to be the "metal riff".  I know they never called themselves metal back then and they may still not...but the truth is...if it wasn't for those interval bar chords he made famous in songs like "Iron Man" and "War Pigs", we wouldn't have metal sounding the way it does.  And I was just amazed.  And I kept on watching him all night going, 'I think I can do that.'  (laughs)

"Brethren Of The Hammer" - Manilla Road / "Playground of the Damned" (2011)

Casey Chambers:  What was the first album you picked up and a few of your influences?

Mark Shelton:  "Meet The Beatles".  The second one was The Monkees' first album.  After that, I'm not sure.  I was buying lots of Beatles albums.  I remember I wore out my Beatles' "White Album".  I wore out all four sides so bad, I had to go buy another copy.  At that point, once I started really getting interested in music, I started going to record stores.

And basically, my eyes led my direction.  If the song titles sounded cool and the cover art was really neat, I would buy it just to see what it sounded like.  I've got a huge collection of vinyl and some of it's stuff I've only played once.  If I didn't really like it, it stayed on the shelf.  Then I started getting into Pink Floyd.  The Who.  Led Zeppelin.  Deep Purple.  Deep Purple, especially.  Black Sabbath, of course.

But I was also into my environment.  Most of my family were farmers and ranchers.  Not my immediate family, but whenever we'd go to a family function, it was usually on a farm or at a ranch.  I rode horses.  I worked for a cattle company for awhile.  I'm very much a cowboy at heart.  So it was pretty normal for me, I think, to like bands like Johnny Winter, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead.  I definitely drifted toward the homestyle sound.

My grandfather used to be a cattle drover and he listened to country and western music.  Hank Williams.  My mom was into easy listening jazz and classical.  My stepfather was into big band and combo jazz.  I had stepbrothers who were into rock and roll.  One of them was into bluegrass.  So I had music from all genres coming at me all the time.

And bands like UFO, Scorpions, early Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden.  Stuff like that.  They all made impressions on me throughout the years of my life.

When I finally got around to learning guitar, I taught myself.   I learned to play differently than most.  It's not your standard using all your fingers all the time.  I tend to noodle around on my guitar.  I spin and stretch and do all these weird tricks that I learned by watching videos of other guys.  My chord placings are not necessarily fingered the way you'd finger them out of a book.  It turns out I've even  invented a couple of chord voicings over the years, because there's some we can't find in books. (laughs)

I've always had this idea that if it's theoretically wrong, but it sounds cool, it's cool.  No matter what.  It's like...people always ask me why I write about vikings so much.  'Because vikings are fucking cool.' (laughs)  My style is based off a hundred other guitar players...and I just take pieces of what they do and incorporate it into what I do.

"Tree Of Life" - Manilla Road / "Voyager" (2008)

Casey Chambers:  It has to make you feel pretty good.  Your musical sweat appreciated.

Mark Shelton:  I've been around doing this for a long time.  I've worked really hard for the last 38 years to make Manilla Road what it is.  And I'm not afraid to tell anybody that...yeah, I've got an ego.  So, it's just a fantastic dream come true that I'm actually sitting here talking about these things.

My goal has been, for all these years, to have reassurance and acknowledgement that I'm a professional musician.  This is what I do.  This is my livelihood.  I don't have to have another job.  I'm actually making a living being a musician and that's a really big thing for me.

Casey Chambers:  So far, the new century has seen Manilla Road continue to dispatch albums like..."Gates of Fire""Voyager" and "Playground of the Damned" with a maleficent seduction.  They keep sounding fresh without losing the "Manilla Road" passion.

Mark Shelton:  I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and new directions.  That's what really keeps me going.  I'm always investigating new ways to entwine other music styles into metal.  I have the attitude that there's gotta be something different over the next horizon.  Something around the next corner that I haven't found yet.

Casey Chambers:  Finally, I saw where your latest album..."The Blessed Curse" just dropped.  When's it hitting Spektrum or the other record stores?

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, "The Blessed Curse" just came out.   The vinyl won't hit until later this month.  But the CD's out.  And the digital.  It's cool to see the LP coming back.   And yeah, Spektrum.  Phil and Adam.  Love those guys.  It's great seeing them doing what they're doing.

"The Blessed Curse" (2015)

Casey Chambers:  So tell me a little bit about..."The Blessed Curse".  I've been reading good things about it.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, we're having good luck with the new album.  It's being accepted as classic Manilla Road right off the bat.

"The Blessed Curse" is a double-album for one thing.  And it's got a huge variety of what the band does and has done throughout its career and what we're still attempting to do as far as new evolution of our style.

There is a huge variety of heavy, fast, thrash, and also acoustic music on it.  Nice, spacey atmospheric things.  It's the album, I think, would give people the best idea of how wide spanning the berth of the band really is.

"The Blessed Curse" - Manilla Road / "The Blessed Curse" (2015)

It's definitely the best produced album we've ever put out.  The performances on it are as perfect as I can get.  The other guys played really great on it.

I'm really proud of this one.  This is like a milestone for me.  I'm really excited to see "The Blessed Curse" being embraced by our hardcore fan base as well as the media.

Casey Chambers:  Well, I really want to thank you for hangin' out with me.  I enjoyed talking with you.

Mark Shelton:  Before we sign off,  I just want to say thanks to all the home base fans here.  And just all of our fans.  No matter how narcissistic or egotistical I am, the truth is, I know full well the only reason I'm able to do what I do is because I've got people out there supporting me and loving the music.  And without them, I wouldn't get to do what I want to do with my life.  I totally appreciate everyone who supports Manilla Road.  And's been my pleasure. Thank you.

The Official Manilla Road Website

Look for Mark Shelton's new acoustical solo album..."Obsidian Dreams"...later this year.

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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