Archive for November, 2014

Words with Chadwick Salls

Posted: November 26, 2014 by Soda in Austin, Chadwick Salls, Interview, Kazi, Seed

Prepping this installment for MSG was really amazing for me…and kinda crazy at the same time. Amazing, because Chadwick Salls has been a huge influence of mine and played the major role in making one of my most favorite records of all time. Crazy, because it’s been 20 years since I discovered said album that would go on to be one of those life changers for me.

You see, Chad was in a band called Seed back in the early 90’s, they released one record in 1994 called “Ling”. I was a young kid and my palette for music was always vast. Late one night on 120 Minutes I caught their video for the first single off of that album, “Rapture”. I loved it, right away, loved it, so much to the point where that weekend I walked to every record store near my neighborhood to hunt it down. I finally came across a promo sitting on a used shelf in one of those local shops. And well, the rest is history. “Ling” influenced every aspect of my life, especially the musical one. Vocally, Guitar wise, songwriter wise…everything. I turned everyone in my life onto this record.

Time passed, my obsession with Seed only expanded and in 1995 they came to a small club on Long Island. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was losing my mind. Not only was this magical band that I worshiped playing close to my home, but…I was not old enough to get in! You had to be at least 18 and I however, was not. The night of the show came and my Mother drove me, my older Sister and a close school friend over to the venue, she waited upon dropping us off because she was quite sure we would not get in. Five minutes of vast lies and borderline begging we were let in, I was shocked; we were so obviously young kids and crazy nervous. I remember everything about that night. The guys were amazing and approachable; I had a homemade Seed shirt on that they loved, still have it to this day. It was one of the best nights of my life; I was on a high from that show for months after. That moment lives on infamously for me.

A few years would pass and Chad and I would somehow reconnect, he remembered my shirt and me from that night, and all these years later I’m honored to call him a friend. Would I have thought 20 years ago that I’d develop a cool relationship with one of my musical heroes? Nope. Would I have thought 20 years later I’d be writing about it, reliving great memories through my own music based blog? Not at all. But, here we are, and I have had the honor and esteemed pleasure to conduct an interview with him.

So, here we go, my interview with Chad Salls. Kinda sorta 20 years in the making. Hope you enjoy it like I have!

Chadwick Salls

Chadwick Salls

MSG – Hey Chad, thanks for the Interview! I know you’ve been in the music “business” for a long time now, starting at a young age. Can you give us some insight on how you’ve managed to make it a sustainable lifestyle? Lots of artists find it hard to make it a living, what pearls of wisdom can you share with us?

CS – I’ve always had a good work ethic so I just tried to be pro-active and find jobs that have to do with music. After Seed broke up I taught guitar, bass, piano and music theory at a music store but now I teach out of my house so I make all of the money (not just 30%)! I’ve also produced bands, played guitar, bass and piano on sessions in the studio, co-written with bands and I’ll pick up live gigs only if I like the band as people or if they have catchy songs. For the last 10 years, I’ve also played every Sunday at a church. They pay better than anyone else and the guitarist and drummer are probably the most talented musicians I’ve ever played with.

MSG – 20 years ago you released a very ambitious record called “Ling” with your band at the time, Seed. It’s hands down one of my most favorite records ever made. It transcends style and time. That record was incredibly mature when you released it in 1994. You were only about 21 when you wrote it mostly on your own. Can you recall what influenced you at that time? And how you put that stuff together on your own first and brought to your fellow band mates?

Seed - "ling" album cover

Seed – “ling” album cover

CS – Thanks for the love! Seed started out writing songs together and it was heavily influenced by Grunge and Gabriel had more bluesy melodies. I’m a huge fan of melody and hooks, so I started writing poppier songs and the band liked those as well. I grew up on Classic Rock, New Wave and Punk from D.C. and I think all of those bands influenced my writing. I can definitely hear The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jane’s Addiction, Japan, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Lush, Fugazi and Bad Brains in my writing with Seed. Before we got signed, we played 4-5 times a week and we’d just try out new tunes every practice. However, half the record was songs I wrote in pre-production a week or two before we recorded.

MSG – You guys did a lot to support that album, late night TV shows and even played MTV’s Spring Break. “Ling” was released on a subsidiary of Giant back then called, Mechanic, which seemed to be the home for lots of different types of Alternative bands that didn’t quite fit elsewhere. How did you partner up with that label? Was it easy for you to get interest, and were there other labels knocking on your door at the time?

CS – We were also courted by Atlantic but Howard Benson, our producer really wanted for us to go with Mechanic. Steve Sinclair, the owner of Mechanic whole-heartedly believed in our talent and we had complete control of the recording. We didn’t even sign our deal until AFTER we started recording. Oh, how times have changed!

MSG – After Seed you took some time out of the so-called spotlight and returned a few years later with another project called Color. That band seemed way more radio friendly and focused on more of a straightforward rock sound then the obvious artistic approach you took with Seed. Did you make a decision to come back with a more viable sound or did your songwriting just morph into that stylistically as you grew as an artist? Looking back on those projects could you honestly say that you preferred one over the other or does each kind of stand on its own?

CS – In Color, I wanted us to sound more anthemic like The Who, Cheap Trick and U2. I actually had a lot of weird chord changes and parts like Seed but I think I grew melodically and lyrically. The main problem with the second band is that we had a producer who over-produced the record and a singer who had no personality and was cheesy. If Gabriel had sung them, I would’ve liked the recordings just fine. However, the demos that got us signed are pretty awesome. Neal Avron produced them and the singer’s ego was in check. I still play people our demos before our record! There are things I liked and disliked about both experiences. I like both bands’ songs, I prefer Gabriel’s voice out of the 3 of us but both CDs are pretty dated sounding to me.

MSG – After Color you went on to work with other bands/artists as a songwriter and producer. Is that something that came easy to you or was it somewhat difficult to step back a bit and let someone else take the reigns as a leader of a project while you were more behind the scenes?

CS – It’s easy and fun when there is no ego (including mine). I remember a band hired me to help with melodies and lyrics and together, we made the first verse and chorus way more original and stronger lyrically. Then the singer said “you changed this and that and I want MY lyrics for the second verse”. I told him I didn’t care who wrote the verse, just as long as it was good as what we changed. Luckily, his band members agreed with me and together we bettered them. I’m the type of guy who loves coming up with parts. If you don’t want to use them because you didn’t write it, I’m happy to take what I wrote and turn it into a new song for myself! That’s happened a lot! Anyhow, for the most part the bands and I had a blast and were proud of what we did together.

MSG – I know you also give bass and guitar lessons. Your bass work has always been something that stood out within your projects. Especially on the Seed record. Lots of fretless bass on there, which was impeccably performed. It really added a layer to that album which made it even stand out more as an original piece of art. Are you a self-taught musician? Also, what made you decide to approach the fretless bass for a majority of your first release?

CS – Thanks! I am a self-taught musician but my fretless influence came from Mick Karn of Japan. They were like Duran Duran but with more of an off-kilter sound. Anyhow, it took two tries to have them sound “impeccably”! I remembered recording and thinking I nailed it but when we added piano and guitar, I realized my intonation was awful! Now I know to record other parts before I record fretless! If I remember correctly, the Seed record was pretty even between fretted and fretless. If the parts had lots of slides and I played with my fingers, I usually grabbed the fretless.

MSG – Over the past, well…almost 10 years you have been focusing on and off on a project called Kazi. I know it started as somewhat of a solo venture and you turned out a ton of demos but within the last 2 years or so it has morphed into a full-fledged band. What made you finally decide to bring those songs to the stage? Was it difficult finding people to play with based on the Sonic, uber pop sound and style you were going for?

Kazi logo

Kazi logo

CS – Kazi has been the most fun and exciting for sure because I am going about songwriting in a way I have never done before. Now, my lyrics are just as important and my melodies. I had a producer say “you are such a sarcastic asshole…why don’t you write lyrics like the way you talk”? It made me be more descriptive, original with my rhymes, and now most of my songs are short little stories. It’s a lot of work but the end result is much more gratifying. So Kazi started as a “solo” venture because I was recording everything at my studio but I always wanted another band of brothers. I got very lucky finding the members. My singer and drummer are very young but they are both so talented and optimistic. It’s great to find members that have the same vision and quality control. I’m still writing all of the songs but the singer adds his personality vocal embellishes in his delivery and my drummer can be inventive like Kyle (from Seed) but can also be a groove drummer like Van (from Color). We are going for a groove based, cleaner but raw sound like soul and rock bands from the 70’s to New Wave bands from the late 70’s to early 80’s. What I love is that we sound like a simple pop band but if you really listen we have great lyrics and crazy chords changes!

MSG – A couple of years ago we also saw a little bit of a Seed reunion back in your hometown of Austin, TX. I know it was for a radio station that was supportive to you when you were up and coming. After almost 15 years what was it like to stand side by side with Gabriel Ordonez (Singer/Guitartist of Seed) after all that time and play those songs? From the clips I saw online it seemed pretty magical and almost bittersweet at times.


CS – It was such a great experience! They wanted the full band at first and Gab wasn’t into that idea because he only stayed friends with me after the band split. I told him it would be a goof and a blast, so he and his wife came and stayed with me for the week. It was magical harmonizing with him again and the whole experience brought us even closer together.

MSG – And after all these years of playing, writing and traveling what do you see the future holding for you in the way of music? Will we ever see a Kazi record or perhaps a solo one? Anything you’d like to share?

CS – I’ve stayed happy and healthy and I still play and write every day. I’m the most proud of the songs I’m writing currently and I hope to get another deal. However, the music business is so flawed that I’m not sure what to expect. I have my old producers and my old music publisher who still believe in me and want to help, so now all I have to do is make enough money for proper demos in a real studio. We’re in the studio recording four songs right now, so once it’s done, I’d love to share! Thanks for staying in touch!



Posted: November 19, 2014 by Soda in Los Angeles, Serum

One of the main things I wanted to achieve with this blog was exposing people to different bands/artists that might not have ever been heard of, while at the same time, being able to tackle acts that, well, everyone may know. I want to romanticize newer records and older records just the same, as that’s how I often feel about music in general, just really attached to it like a love affair. For the most part since I started these musings I’ve stayed mostly current, so I’m going to take the opportunity for this installment to talk about a record from 2001 by a band called Serum.

In all honesty, I don’t know so much about this band; back in ‘01 I was given a promo of their self-titled debut. It was a one sheet promo with no information inside about the group or members, etc. The only information was on the back cover which basically addressed the production and the label they were on, Brick Red Records, which I was actually familiar with because I was into another artist from this imprint called Math & Science, which is a total opposite sounding performer in relation to Serum. And really, I’m not quite sure if this CD was ever properly released as I’ve only ever seen promos.

Anyway, I took the record home and obviously liked it enough to add it to my collection. It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I revisited it and got heavily into them and this great, lost recording. By this point, they were done, their site was defunct and well…it’s been hard to dig up much about them at all.

It’s a drag how so many awesome bands never get found out; luckily I keep my nose heavily to the underground and often make great discoveries. Not sure how big they were back in 2001 or so in Los Angeles from which they hailed from. I imagine it was hard for them to really find their niche in the Alternative/Rock world given the sound they so perfectly projected which was somewhat borderline Psychedelic Classic Rock while maintaining an Alt Rock vibe.

Serum gave us an 11 track self-titled record that almost at times sounds like a glorified demo. It’s raw and under produced, but I mean that in the fondest of ways. There is a charm and subtlety here that was captured and put down onto tape in such a gracious fashion. The whole album sounds like it was done through old combo amps and vintage everything. Singer Erwin Herceg’s voice and delivery channels both Shannon Hoon and Janis Joplin fondly as he sings “Through love I learned to fear, through fear I learned to hate, through hate I learned to love, all over…all over again,” in one of the many stand out tracks, “Bleed”. His whole vocal performance on the album is delivered in such gravelly soul that it kinda warms your heart. Erwin’s approach is both tender, and humble.

Serum Album Cover

Serum Album Cover

Back to the whole psychedelic vibe, another true champion of a song, “Rocket Scientist” gives us one of the best gang vocal hooks I’ve heard in the past 15 years, “Take me to that magic place where mosquitoes sing and the ants all dance, and all the fish walk around with a smile. Where the sky is green and the grass is blue and you don’t have to take off your shoes just to sit, and talk for a while.” A fun and jangly piece which again is delivered in such an endearing fashion by the entire band, you really get the idea that they were completely content with the musical offerings on this album; it’s not showy or overly complex and therein lies the appeal.

An interesting tidbit about this LP is the secret track titled for the bands namesake, “Serum”. It’s probably the best sounding and most polished song on the whole record. Could be they finished the album and threw this on last minute, cutting it at a different studio with a different producer or engineer, who knows, it’s almost puzzling but it’s just so damn sweet and leaves you so grateful for another song, indeed craving a second album.

Although I was unable to dig up much about Serum online I did find that two of the members, Singer Erwin Herceg and instrumentalist Dino Malito had gone on to collaborate on a project called Captain Black Heart (not even sure if this partnership is still active) in which I still need to dive into and am excited to do so as more music from these guys is a joyful thought.

So, if your interest is peaked, hop onto Amazon and grab a super cheap copy of the Serum record and treat your ears.


Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Rockwood Music Hall in NYC opened its doors at 9pm this past Sunday night for what was literally to be one of the hottest shows in town. The sweltering room filled with about 50 some odd people was calm on a mellow Sunday night. I stood in good conversation for 15-20 minutes or so as we waited for the show to begin. I’m a diehard OURS fan and the bonus this evening was the opening band Nick Perri Group. I’m familiar with Nick from his short time spent with Shinedown for The Sounds of Madness album and before that Silvertide and equally short involvement with Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party as live guitarist. I was aware that he was a force to be reckoned with but I did not however get to witness the true hype until show time came.

Nick and his band peacefully walked out onto the stage in full thrift shop regalia moving into what appeared to be a laid back opener until only about 40 seconds in when the show instantly kicked into high gear with some hard and gritty bluesy rock. You become instantly aware of Nick whether you are familiar with him or not. His energy is quite contagious. The whole band is a tight and well oiled machine that not once let go of its hold on you throughout the 9 song set. Singer Joshua Bartholomew looked much like a rock and roll scarecrow with his gold locks and earthy attire belting out spine tingling vocal glory. It’s interesting how music can be tasty; Nick and his band truly make mouths water, complete with a hair raising rhythm section.

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Halfway through the set the band tore into a blazing instrumental in which Nick spent most of the 3 some odd minutes dancing with his guitar in the crowd flipping his Pantene perfect hair all over the place. AND just when you thought it couldn’t get any hotter the quartet slams us head on into a flawless cover of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, if you closed your eyes you could swear Robert Plant at his peak was howling through the microphone, a truly divine cover.

Closing the set was a tune called “Graveyard Moon” which had a bit of an old school Black Crowes vibe to it. When all was said and done they left the stage in nothing but embers which only had about 20 minutes to settle before OURS came back out to keep the fires burning. I asked Nick at the end of the night what the future held for him and his band from LA, it sounds like 2015 is going to be a busy year for them so keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be doing yourself a service.

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Turning our attention to the stage once more Jimmy Gnecco and his cult, OURS, walked out onto the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the way the show was billed, “Jimmy Gnecco & Band”. I was happy to see the OURS line-up, minus Race but with a new drummer (which has become standard for the band.)

The set started off fairly slow, and for OURS, this is strange as moments into their shows you are usually grabbed by the throat with the intensity they display, much a kin to a religious experience. After about 3 songs in we learned that Jimmy was fighting a bit of a fever, and having played the night prior in New Jersey he was a little weak. But after said third song, “I’m a Monster” he announced ‘that’s how you chase the fever away’ which lead into an absolutely blistering version of “Murder” with one of Jimmy’s students from School of Rock (Saddlebrook, NJ) as a back-up guitarist. Always generous in that aspect, we have come to see many younger guys pop up at OURS shows as openers or as guest musicians.

The momentum did not stop after “Murder”. Nick Perri and his drummer John then also came back onto the stage as Jimmy was telling us a bit about how he actually viewed OURS as a soul band. Such a statement would ring true with the now 7 piece band smoothly jamming out a version of “Been Down” off of their latest offering, Ballet the Boxer. Soulful indeed, the song was delivered with true passion and a hair raising triple guitar assault as Nick, Static and Jimmy pinched and bent notes up and down their fret boards.

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Being in such a small venue at a show of this caliber is extremely rewarding. Jimmy & friends gave us a 2 hour plus performance with countless gems off of Distorted Lullabies, Mercy, Ballet The Boxer and his solo offering, The Heart. Complete with stories of leaving the record business behind and heartwarming new songs about his Mother, “Fallen Flower”. Even mid set, fashion designer Christian Benner joined the band onstage in which he surprised Jimmy with the fact that he and a few fans had put the money together to have him a custom made leather jacket created, “Another reason for PETA to be upset with me…” (Jimmy once being vegan.)

So much can be written about a top quality rock show like this, 3 plus hours of music, songs from OURS that haven’t been played in ages, surprises and more…fear not, there is still hope for quality in a crumbling music market my friends, you just have to look for it…dig for music, you will find gold and it will be well worth it.

This show makes one final stop in Philly tonight the 12th at Milkboy. If you are nearby, treat yourself to a stellar night of music!


8 Royal Minutes

Posted: November 5, 2014 by Soda in 3RDEYEGIRL, Minneapolis, Prince, Television

This past Saturday night, the Purple One descended on New Yorks NBC Studios for Saturday Night Live. News was broken through Facebook via the 3RDEYEGIRL Facebook page just about a week or so before. Seems Prince has embraced the Internet a bit more recently after proclaiming, “The Internet’s completely over” a few years back. Gotta love the man…

The night after Halloween, Prince and his 3RDEYEGIRL’s did indeed bring their electricity to the SNL stage, making history with an 8-minute plus medley. Who would have really said, “No, we can’t accommodate that” anyways, right?

Hosting the night was the ever-annoying Chris Rock who proclaimed how lucky we all were as he introduced Prince to the stage to a steadfast and anxious crowd who responded with bluster.

At first only getting a glimpse of puffy white clouds from a stage screen filled with the bluest of skies as the band started their jam. “Y’all ready?” Prince was behind the keyboard sporting his 3-lensed sunglasses as they opened with “Clouds” off of his new album ARTOFFICIALAGE with singer Lianne La Havas front and center on most of the lead vocal. Then melting seamlessly into some hot riffage from instrumental PLECTRUMELECTRUM from the 3RDEYEGIRL debut of the same name in which Prince then magically appeared where Ms. La Havas seconds before stood embracing his guitar and hitting us with sickening and fuzzy dual 6 string action alongside soon to be guitar hero Donna Grantis who looked like she just stepped out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, fierce indeed. Then came the fast and fun track MARZ which is just over 2 minutes long and is absolute rock splendor. A quick second pause into the conclusion of the medley with ANOTHERLOVE which is just such a phenomenal piece of music full of even more regal guitar work, one of his finest, reminding us that Prince can write any kind of song at any point in his career as a pioneer of music, endlessly breaking down walls.

Also on stage with the core band was a back-up singer seeming to do some minor percussion, Joshua Welton who worked a bit on both of the new records and another session player on the keyboard Prince had left behind early in the set.

Proving once again that he is untouchable and backed by a fresh band full of strong and brilliant women he left us with a gracious bow and a sweet smirk. Prince and his 3RDEYEGIRL are a force to be reckoned with for sure, fresh and edgy; some of his greatest work in years if you ask me.

At the end of the night when the cast and guests lined up to wish viewers a goodnight all were there except for the little Prince. Was he whisked off to an after party in which he was prepping to play ‘til the sun rose? Was he beamed back to the mother ship, or simply making a trip to the bathroom? Ah, the endless awe of Prince.

Both new records are out now.

Prince/3RDEYEGIRL/SNL 2014

Prince/3RDEYEGIRL/SNL 2014