"I wish there was a way to know that you're in 'The Good Old days' before you've actually left them." -- Andy Bernard, The Office
That quote from the last episode of the beloved comedy always gets me because each day I feel that way. Case in point: anytime I...
What if John Ondrasik AKA Five for Fighting agreed to do a monthly Q&A with yours truly? What would it look like? Would the questions delve into his personal and professional life in such a way it'd reveal layers of the singer/songwriter you haven't read anywhere else? Would his answers be as meaningful and heartfelt as his songs? Actually, what if this entire opening was simply a way to segue from Ondrasik's song "What If" to our next installment of 5 for Fighting with...Five for Fighting. Yep, that's it.
It's a new month, A-Sides is pleased to welcome back Mr. FFF for the latest round of irreverently irrelevant questions and answers. Follow below, and ask yourself not "what if?" but "what the?"
What's a typical Ondrasik July 4th barbecue like? What condiments do you go heavy on?
We don't BBQ any day, much less July 4th. You need to lay off Game of Thrones.
Keeping with this theme, how hard will it be to contain yourself from singing Katy Perry's "Firework"?
It's hard to resist any lyric leading with, "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag"...and the magical chorus reflection of "Make 'em go, "Aah, aah, aah...You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe"
That said, I'm more into Katy's Dad Steve. Journey songs are perfect for July 4th because "Summer Nights" appears at some point in every Journey Song - even pre-Steve Gregg Rolie Journey! I wish the whole family, Katy, Steve, Christina, and the band Perry would join together for a Perry Como cover record. It would be killer.
That's a lot of Perrys. Speaking of which only not really, the sequel to Magic Mike is about to come out, why aren't you or I in it?
You just can't see my face. It's amazing the kind of cash you can make as a lower extremity nude body double.
Speaking of movies,Terminator Genisys is sure to be a huge hit. Were you disappointed to find out that they spelled Genesis wrong on purpose and the film had nothing to do with Phil Collins?
There is a bit of Phil Collins in all things. How can you not know that? I'm 100 percent Serious.
This month also marks the All-Star Game in baseball. As a sports fanatic, do you think Major League Baseball should add the DH in the National League? On an unrelated note, how many ingredients are in a hot dog?
Hot dogs have a higher rate of diminishing returns than anything in the galaxy with the exception of ABBA Songs. Alas July is the DOG DAYS of sports: no NHL (Congrats Hawks), no NBA (Congrats Warriors). I'm up for anything that would make MLB more compelling and faster. How about we allow one roided up hitter per team? We could call him the HGHDH!
Cool News Department
We all know by now Converse is more than a sweet pair of Chuck Taylors. Taking it up a notch, Converse Inc. is holding the grand opening of Converse Rubber Tracks in Boston today. The new recording studio, which is located right by their new world headquarters on Boston's Lovejoy Wharf, will essentially be a mecca for up-and-coming acts all over the world. Specifically, they'll be able to record original music with engineers and producers at no cost. Off topic, I better get with the program and start learning how to play music. Anyway, the new 1,100 square-foot studio is the first in New England. The flagship studio is in Brooklyn with a second studio in São Paulo, Brasil.A-Sides is hopeful a collaboration of some kind is in the cards.
John Ondrasik is hilarious, and I've been told I'm moderately funny. Chris Williams, on the other hand, gets paid to be funny. Neither Ondrasik or I do. I actually don't get paid much for anything, but I digress and will call my therapist. Back to Williams. Since 2012, the British comedian has lived in New York City, and worked the stand-up circuit with a "Love Your Accent" gimmick. The idea behind it is upon moving to the Big Apple, Williams was struck by home many people told him just that.
"It was the first thing Id hear in most conversations," the comedian explained. "Over my time here, the phrase developed into something more...it is the thing that makes you unique and special. [It] looks at identity and how I rediscovered myself over my time here."
Williams performs across all of New York City including Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club and New York Comedy Club, and has hosted many of them. Aside from comedy, "that Brit guy" has also been a successful DJ for over 15 years. He has also moonlighted as an A-Sides cameraman. On July 3, he will record his first comedy album - fitting called Love Your Accent - at Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City. It'll be his first recording and his adieu to the city. He and his wife Fiona will be moving to Dublin later this summer. Anyway, I caught up with the funny guy, and asked him some stuff.
How'd you end up in the states?
I fell in love - I met a beautiful Irish woman a few weeks before she moved to New York [for] work. We did the long distance thing, and yes it was very expensive but so worthwhile. (The concept of long distance is very different in New York; from what I understand, if you live more than 15-blocks away, it's too far and won't work out!) We dated for less than nine months, and that was it. I knew she was the one. I asked her to marry me in April 2012 and we got married three months later.
That's a lovely - almost When Harry Met Sally story. How'd you end up doing comedy?
I wanted to try something new. What is New York City famous for? Stand-up comedy! So I started with a writing course at a comedy club, where for two months, I worked on putting material together and performing (often rewriting and reworking stories, over and over again). Once I completed this, I went to some open mics to "road-test" it. Then, through some of the contacts I'd made, I was asked to do some real shows in Greenwich Village. From there, I started making more contacts and now I regularly host and perform shows all over the city.
My mum still asks where this all came from, because as a child I was very shy. I think it started back in the '90s when I started DJing. The clubs got bigger and bigger and I ended up hosting. Standing in front of 3,000-plus people is easy when you have big records to play. With stand-up, there is nowhere to hide: spotlight, microphone and your words!
How would you describe your "brand" of comedy?
Observational. As a 39-year-old married man, who is a long way from home, it's all about seeing the world and taking stock. Everything I talk about is a true story - from how Fiona and I still mess about on the sofa, the unique way I met Spike Lee, and realizing that my national anthem is just OK. I mean America has 'Star-Spangled Banner' - a rousing song from the battlefield about a flag in the ground which is still there the next day. My national anthem is 'God Save the Queen'. We ask an imaginary person to look after a little old lady.
A-Sides "Delve Into Twelve" Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its top 12 tracks of the week AKA the "Delve Into Twelve" based on the following contributing factors: songs I'm playing out that particular week (no matter when they were released -- think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, song posts and trends I've noticed on my friends' Facebook walls and, most importantly: what my toddler is currently enjoying thoroughly with an assist from my newborn.
About A-Sides With Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman's music series features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres of music performing a track and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles, just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and overmanufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists have included fun., Charli XCX, Imagine Dragons, James Bay, X-Ambassadors, Joe Perry, Gary Clark Jr., STP, American Authors and many, many more!
Last year, Meghan Trainor became a household name with her bootylicious female anthem "All About That Bass." While that song was huge, the singer/songwriter proved she was more than simply a one-hit wonder with her ginormous debut album Title. This summer, Trainor is hitting the road (not literally -- it'd...
My friend Allie has a running gag that he can't believe the website "frogpants" is taken. It stems from a conversation years ago that putting two words together was a great gimmick to name a website or band. The reason I bring this up is - I guess - give...
There were so many amazing artists - small, medium, and large - that played this year's Governors Ball on June 5-7, it'd be impossible to review all of the fest. Nearly two weeks later, I've given up. Thankfully, I have a pair of interviews filmed at the Ball...
"I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go I can't do it alone I've tried
And I don't know why..."
It's hard to believe it's been seven years since Australia's Lenka...
At its core, we want music to make us feel. Yeah, there's songs that we listen to that inspire booty shakes and sing-a-longs, but for the most part (me anyway), I'm looking for a song or album to transport me outside of my own head. Civil Twilight have made a...
For a two-member band, Flagship certainly make a lot of noise, and I don't mean that in a toddler (or STOMP) slamming pots and pans kind of way. Drake Margolnick and Michael Finster have a mysterious, sometimes subtly big sound - churning out dreamy alt-rock tracks with traces of folk...
I'm not ashamed to say it - I was a "Debhead." Back in the 1980s as my sister was hanging up "pin-ups" of Rob Lowe and Ralph Macchio, I was hanging up my Debbie Gibson Tiger Beat tearsheets on my wall. Gibson made for an eclectic wall...
It seems any time a female artist sings about the opposite sex in a way many male artists do all the time, they're labeled a "bad girl" or filled with angst. Alanis Morrisette got that when she broke out 20 years ago. So did PJ Harvey. Fiona Apple. The list...
Kodaline images above and videos below courtesy of shootmepeter.com.
So many of the friends I had as a kid have come and gone. Sure, some of them are "friends" on Facebook but it's not the same. It's not like I'm...
Note to self: when interviewing WWE Superstars about how they spend their time during road trips don't refer to it as "down time." Why? Because these men in tights have little to no downtime -- working almost everyday all year round, they're the true road warriors in the...
Photo and video interview by shootmepeter.com
Some bands lose or cut ties with lead singers and simply call it quits or find a similar-sounding singer to front the band and coast on a novelty tour each year. Not Stone Temple...
The first day back after a long weekend can come at you like a hurricane. It can chew out the vacay, spit it out, and leave nothing but disaster in its path. That's why A-Sides is highlighting three heavyweight acts to come out swinging and prevent your work week from...
Simeon Goodson should be a household name in comedy. He's been performing in various New York City clubs, bars, and anywhere really since 2004, and his effortless delivery matched with his unique laid-back observational humor are on point. It'll come. If not New York or Los Angeles, then certainly in...
For me, the early-to-mid 1990s were a golden age in rock and roll. Sure, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and the Seattle scene bear most of the kudos (and rightfully so), but it's important not to forget other bands that dominated in the "grunge" and alt-heavy era. I'm talking to you...
Decades after its release, people still question if Alanis Morrisette misused the word "Ironic" in her hit song. I still don't care. Speaking of irony, fellow Canadians Stars dropped an album last fall, their seventh, called No One is Lost, which wreaks of irony. Like their previous efforts, the latest...
There's something so very retro about Lauriana Mae, yet something so contemporary. She's sort of like Amy Winehouse blended with some added R&B undertones... Okay, never mind, forget it. Comparisons are subjective, so I'll stop right...
Zoë Kravitz has been fortunate to be in many film franchises from X-Men to Divergent and the upcoming Mad Max reboot. But it just turned out that way. It's not like she's seeking out these behemoth movies though something tells me if JJ...
As they say The Song Remains the Same, and in this case, it's true even 15 years between albums for Full Devil Jacket. Valley of Bones, the long-delayed, very-much-appreciated follow-up to the band's 2000 acclaimed debut album, picks up where the first one left off but perhaps a little tighter with some more weight and less grunge.
Full Devil Jacket was rising faster than a helium balloon attached to a feather before front man Josh Brown's drug addiction got the best of him. After hits -- most notably "Where Did You Go?" -- and playing Woodstock '99, the band disappeared and Brown nearly faded away period, nearly dying from a heroin overdose. You can read all about this on the Interwebs so I'll stop there and talk more about his recovery. Following the near death experience, Brown formed the Christian band Day of Fire, which successfully toured for five-plus years. He also wrote and toured with Daughtry.
In an exclusive interview with A-Sides, Brown said he never thought a Full Devil Jacket reunion would ever happen. But, from tragedy came triumph. After the 2010 death of guitarist Michael Reaves from prostate cancer, the band reunited for a fundraiser, which led to the band's resurrection, resurgence, and Valley of Bones. Rather than expand on it, I'll let Brown speak for himself. Read on.
Welcome back, man. Your career -- past and present -- has been a seesaw of joy, pain, sorrow, regret, and forgiveness. This album, however, seems to teeter more toward reflection and hope. Would you agree, and can you explain the process of finally getting this album made and the obvious weight it carries with it?
I think I've always been going toward hope on all my records. This record right here, dealt with years of hardcore reflection: the bad choices, and getting through that. But, there is hope, man. I learned much of my life is in control and many aspects are uncontrollable. I can definitely control my decisions.
Look, I've got to feel it to make it real. Basically, I just wrote my life experience for the album. I live on the edge. I also have a very addictive personality in whatever aspect. It can take you in some good places and can take you to some crazy places. Over the last three or four years, I've just been collecting songs. It's been traumatic, but cathartic. It's total therapy. Because of the life I've lived, and the experiences I've had, I can always go back to those places. I've got a lot of experience in life -good or bad decisions I can always fall back on. When I write, it's got to be place of experience. You can't write about something that's catchy just because it's fun. Others do it, and that's fine but I can't. I'm writing things that move me.
It takes a lot to pick yourself up, and it's usually more than one person or one event that helps get you up and running again. Who do you credit most with not just getting clean but getting refocused?
Moving back to Jacksonville from Texas, my hometown, there was just friends and family everywhere. People just wanted to see me [healthy]. The realization of understanding how much people in the city cared about me, I credit it to that. There's also Keith Foster, my drummer, and he's the one who pushed me to do another Full Devil record. Mike Reaves passing away really woke me up to the fact that these friendships don't last forever.
Looking at it now, it's been an amazing journey from this record to the last.
It's hard for me to believe the record's done even now. It was a two-year process of just taking ideas and turning them into band songs then recording it. With my life and the kind of life crisis I had and coming back and beginning again, it's an amazing journey. It's a rebirth.
The album title Valley Of Bones takes on various meanings. Can you tell me how you ended up with this title and if another one was in play beforehand? On a related note, you guys really haven't missed a beat. It sounds like the follow-up record except it's taken over a decade to get out.
It plays the same way. It's kind of like the next day but it took 15 years. "Valley of Bones" -- the song was one of the last songs to come out -- and it was just magical how it came out. Everything about that song, the way it was written, the drum track we laid down, it just felt right. We didn't even think about it. It was a song about ending a long relationship and the beginning of a new life after that. It's a story out of the scripture. I wasn't thinking it at time, but it's really about rebirth. It's just so natural.
Kickstarter literally kickstarted the project -- it must've been pretty amazing to engage your fanbase on a level you couldn't back in the early days of FDJ, right? There was no social media back then unless you count AOL Instant Messenger, which no one should.
Pride and frickin' arrogance make you less of a human being in my book. Social media is just another extension of the stage. It's just a gathering place for similar people with similar ideas. Music brings people together. I think it's great. For a short time in my life, I thought playing music was about getting a record deal. I thought I was Axl Rose for 15 minutes. A record deal doesn't make you a better person. You evolve. It was a shot of adrenaline to learn people cared about my music and helped me raise money for it.
The album meshes all the best of 1990s alt-rock and alt-metal along with a few new tricks. Please tell me we won't have to wait another 15 years for the next album.
Ha ha. I think there's a leap year coming up so you'll have to wait 30 years. No, the goal is just to continuously put out music. I've finally learned the music business doesn't define who you are as artist. It's art and concept.
See FULL DEVIL JACKET on tour this summer w/ HINDER
June 7 - Lubbock, TX (Jake's Backroom)
June 9 - Houston, TX (Scout Bar)
June 10 - Baton Rouge, LA (Varsity Theatre)
June 12 - Kansas City, MO (KC Live! / Power and Light District Outdoor Stage)
June 13 - Sauget, IL (Pops)
June 16 - Detroit, MI (St. Andrews Hall)
June 17 - Columbus, OH (Newport Music Hall)
June 19 - Cincinnati, OH (Bogarts)
June 20 - Marietta OH (The Adelphia Music Hall)
June 21 - Indianapolis, IN (The Vogue)
June 23 - Nashville, TN (Exit In)
June 24 - Macomb, IL (The Outskirts)
June 26 - Amarillo, TX (Midnight Rodeo)
July 4 - Jackson, TN (Fairgrounds)
July 7 - Columbia, SC (Music Farm)
July 9 - Lancaster, PA (Chameleon Club)
July 10 - Patchogue, NY (The Emporium)
July 11 - Pittsburgh, PA (Altar Bar)
July 13 - Cleveland, OH (Agora Ballroom)
July 14 - Battle Creek, MI (The Music Factory)
July 16 - Rockford, IL (District)
July 17 - Chicago, IL (Concord Music Hall)
About A-Sides With Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman's music series features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres of music performing a track and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles, just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and overmanufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists have included fun., Charli XCX, Imagine Dragons, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Gary Clark Jr., American Authors, Echosmith,and many, many more!