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May 2017

Wingman Wednesday

John Hennigan

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It’s time to get Booned!

John Hennigan is a familiar face to fans of professional wrestling, but with an acting career that continues to rise higher than the top turnbuckle of a squared circle, the California native is on his way to giving Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson a run for his Hollywood-making money. Hennigan’s most recent film, “Boone: The Bounty Hunter,” is a hidden gem… a fun, fast-paced film that pits two genres against each other in an epic battle that ends with “comedy” placing “action” in a figure four leg lock. It’s just that good!

We recently sat down with Hennigan to discuss how working on a character in wrestling differs from working on one in film, running the cost of a day’s shoot in your head, and how Hollywood rumors are like… well… you’ll see.

TrunkSpace: So much of professional wrestling is playing a character and you’re doing it over a prolonged period of time where no one is calling “CUT” on you. Did the transition to film take some getting used to because the process itself is different in that you’re not necessarily allowed to just keep going?
Hennigan: No, but that’s an interesting thing that you brought up. One of the things that I first used to come up with the idea for the character Boone was that same concept… that you play the same character for so long in pro wrestling that sometimes you become that character more than yourself. With Boone playing the character Boone on the reality show, which is like this flashy, narcissistic douche baggy guy… he gets into trouble when he starts being that guy more than his real human self. Over the arc of the movie he has to basically get real… be his real self… to become a real hero.

But I guess back to your question as to whether it was a problem for me getting into acting… I think that it helped because ultimately entertainment boils down to the same thing, whether you’re talking about pro wrestling, theater, film, or TV. There’s a lot of carryover and crossover and playing a character is one thing that I think helped.

TrunkSpace: On the wrestling side though, you must sort of feed off of the crowd and in turn, that bleeds into your performance. Whereas in film, even though you’re working with other people in a scene, the energy is different.
Hennigan: Definitely. That’s one of the things that I think is so cool about pro wrestling and why people love it so much. Either watching it or doing it, you have that instant feedback and the adrenaline of doing stuff in front of the crowd. For sure, when you’re doing crazy things in wrestling, you’re amped up because you’ve got an arena full of people watching and your adrenaline is through the roof and the guy that you’re wrestling, his adrenaline is through the roof. You’re in the moment 100 percent of the time. When you’re doing stunts in a movie, and especially on some of the stuff that we did with the skeleton crew… if I’m doing a twisting senton off of a roof and I’ve got to do it 10 times because we’re trying to get a perfect shot, which is not easy to capture sometimes, and there’s nobody there… it is harder. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And that must be a difficult thing to achieve… getting those aerial maneuvers fully in frame?
Hennigan: For sure. In wrestling, you do these crazy stunts and, like on “Lucha Underground,” you’re working in front of eight cameras. With WWE, you’re working in front of 15 cameras. They’re going to capture it. If you’re doing a movie, especially low budget, a lot of times a lot of the sequences we did were single camera. So, that requires doing it over and over again.

TrunkSpace: And a lot of your stunts in the film were outside, so you’re also working with elements that you can’t control as well.
Hennigan: Right. I was so motivated to do this movie though that getting motivated to do that stuff wasn’t that hard. I was visualizing the end product the whole time. It wasn’t like I was afraid of doing stuff in the moment. It was more like, I felt like this insane need to do it over and over again until we got it perfect for the camera so that, at the end of the day, we’d watch it back and everyone would be stoked.

TrunkSpace: What was great about the film is that it surprises people. You expect one thing, and you get something else.
Hennigan: I got a lot of people who saw the movie who said that the movie was way better than they expected. (Laughter) Which is kind of cool, but also it’s kind of like, “Wait a minute, did you think it would suck or something?” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: A big part of that is probably that general feeling of, if a film isn’t in the theaters, it isn’t going to be good. Which, was probably the case years ago, but the way that content is distributed nowadays… that notion is completely squashed.
Hennigan: The one big plus about doing stuff like Boone is that if you want to, and not everybody does, you can tell a story that’s different. It’s not like you have a whole corporation of people that have invested 100 or 200 million dollars into the movie. Obviously it’s not like that. (Laughter) But, when you have that, that’s why you’re seeing all of these reboots. All of these franchises that are constantly rebooted… it’s because they feel like that’s a safer bet. Sometimes those are fun to watch, but when you’re working on something that is completely your own and you don’t have that burden of working for an army of people who are micromanaging your project, you can do something original. You can take some chances and create something like Boone.

TrunkSpace: Usually professional wrestlers are acting in projects that are owned by the companies that they wrestler for, but with Boone, it’s a project that you yourself created and spearheaded. That seems really rare.
Hennigan: Definitely. And I’ve done my fair share of that too. I’ve done 15 or 16 movies that are low budget movies where I was just an actor. Part of my motivation for doing Boone was to want to do exactly that… to be the captain of the ship, so to speak. To be able to say, “No, I want this specific kind of action and if we’re not going to be able to get it on set, I want to have the option of coming back to shoot it later to get it right.” Within reason. Ultimately, that old cliché that time is money is 100 percent right for movies.

TrunkSpace: And you probably notice it a lot more when it’s your money. (Laughter)
Hennigan: Yeah. Exactly! Every day you walk on the set and in the back of your head you’re thinking two things. “Holy shit! Look at this. There’s trailers. There’s extras. There’s all of these people. There’s like 65 people on set.” And then the other part of your brain is thinking, “Goddamn it! This is a $35,000 day!” (Laughter) You’re doing math in your head and you’re like, “All of these people have to eat food. The trailers. The fire marshal. THE INSURANCE!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: So was the idea when you first put the film together that it would become your franchise or was it more of putting together one film and then being done with it?
Hennigan: Really, the main idea with Boone was that I wanted to do something good that I was proud of that could illustrate what I feel like is my best skills across the board. With acting, this kind of self-deprecating, goofy but narcissistic and over-confident reluctant hero with action design, parkour, MMA, brawler-style, stunt choreo mixed with pro wrestling… and in a movie that was uplifting and fun to watch. I’ve done the horror movies and other action movies with darker heroes and I felt like I hadn’t done anything that was the kind of movie that I would have watched over and over again when I was a kid. I really wanted this to be that. That was my primary goal. Obviously, if it turns into a franchise or I do a sequel or trilogy… if I can sell it as a spin-off TV series… that would be amazing.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned it being a film that you would have loved to watch as a kid. With that being said, to us it felt like Boone was a badass Harry Crumb from the film “Who’s Harry Crumb,” a film we watched quite a bit growing up.
Hennigan: (Laughter) Totally! That’s a good one. That’s the first time that I’ve heard that comparison. I love that movie too. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: So if somebody came along and said, “We want to make Boone into a TV show, but we want… Tom Cruise to star. Here’s 10 million dollars.” Would that be something that you’d be okay with?
Hennigan: I wouldn’t necessarily be cool with it, but ultimately I’m wanting to create content and if I got 10 million dollars, I would probably go crazy and would want to spend that 10 million on another movie probably right away. (Laughter) I would probably be stoked about the opportunity to do another movie for a lot more money.

TrunkSpace: Another film that you’re starring in that just seems really cool and really unique is “Dave Made a Maze.”
Hennigan: I’m really excite for “Dave Made a Maze.” It’s touring right now, doing festivals. The original screenplay I read, man, a really long time ago. One of the guys on my improv team, Steven Sears, wrote the script and I read it and I was like, “Dude, this thing is so weird, but also cool!” I was really excited then about the movie and he went through a similar process and ended up working with Bill Watterson and those guys got funding and got the project on its feet. I ended up staying attached and there’s only a few people who stayed attached from that original group that Steven showed the script to.

It’s just a really weird fucking movie. (Laughter) But weird and silly and it celebrates its absurdity and when you watch it you can take it in a million different ways. You can derive meaning from it however you see fit depending on the mood you’re in. That’s one of the cool things about a movie like that.

TrunkSpace: We also counted 14 other projects that you’re listed as starring in, attached to, or rumored to be a part of. By comparison, Tom Cruise… whom we already mentioned… has seven. That’s a pretty impressive workload.
Hennigan: (Laughter) Well, rumors in Hollywood are like assholes… everybody has one!

Boone: The Bounty Hunter” is available now on VOD.

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Wingman Wednesday

Angela Ko

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Photo By: Marc Cartwright

Very few people with aspirations of Hollywood greatness end up booking a starring role on a major television series as their very first credit. Even fewer people do it on a series that is produced and directed by a legend in the business. Angela Ko did just that, serendipitously landing the part of Cheena Lin in John Singleton’s “Rebel” for BET.

We recently sat down with Ko to discuss how the series came into her life, how Singleton fought to cast her in the role, and why Cheena is an extension of Angela.

TrunkSpace: “Rebel” is your first major TV or film gig, which seams like a really big and bold way to jump start your career?
Ko: Absolutely! Yes it is the first thing and it’s a blessing. It’s crazy! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Have you seen it directly influence your career in other areas thus far?
Ko: Absolutely. I would say that my whole life changed. Literally last year this time, I had absolutely no idea about “Rebel.” No idea at all. I was still just praying for it, thinking about it, and from here I’ve come across being able to do things like this, interviews, going to events and just meeting different people and talking about collaborating and making my own content with other producers, writers, and directors. So yeah, absolutely… it has completely changed.

TrunkSpace: What was the experience of learning that you had landed the part like and what went through your head when you found out?
Ko: Oh my goodness! First of all, the whole journey of getting it is a completely unique story. I’ll give you the long short version. This Saturday will mark a year of me going to a Natasha Ward casting workshop in which I put up a piece and she mentioned “Rebel” to me and said to put myself on tape. They had already done the casting and callback process but something in her sparked her to say, “Put yourself on tape. You got that energy.” So I put myself on tape, sent it in by that following Monday and didn’t hear anything back. I forwarded it to my mentor for reviewing and the next day I get call from Kim Hardin and my mentor that I was going to chemistry read in front of John Singleton. And I was like, “WHAT?!?!” I had never done anything like that before. I was absolutely blown away, but I knew I was prepared. Flash forward, I did the chemistry read and it went amazing. That was a Thursday. On Saturday I get a call, including from John himself, saying I got the part and my mind was blown. Instantly, within that second, I was in tears.

TrunkSpace: So had you not taken that workshop, the show never would have found its way into your life?
Ko: Absolutely. It gets even funnier. It’s divine timing. It’s about making a choice and moving forward in that choice, even if it doesn’t seem a part of the plan. I tell you, I was moving to New York when I was coming to LA to take the workshop.

TrunkSpace: What’s so awesome is that you can hear the excitement in your voice about being involved in “Rebel.” So often it feels like people are promoting projects just because it’s a part of their contract, but you genuinely seem to love your place in it.
Ko: Yeah. I loved it! I’m blessed. We just had the season finale two days ago and it was bittersweet. We had the viewing at a theater and it literally hit me then because it happened so fast. Everything was new to me. This was my first thing ever. First time shooting a pilot. First time shooting a series. First time being out in LA by myself. It was just a lot of firsts and it happened kind of fast and you have to just kind of pick up and do it. You have to be professional and go to a super higher power version of yourself. Towards the end I started enjoying it a little bit more. During that finale, I had a friend who has been with me since the get go of when I took a turn and started pursuing this and training hard at it, and he was next to me and had been through the process and I was like, “Oh my God, my head is going to be so big on the screen!” (Laughter) I’m funny like that. And then the next sentence was, “Oh my God, this is the first time I’ve ever seen myself on the big screen.” I just started getting flashes in my head of my mom and I going to the movie theater and of just literally, a week ago, going to the movie theaters. It was like, “This is real!” I just got emotional. It’s incredible.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned going through a lot of the firsts on “Rebel,” but as you look back over your time on the series, what was the highlight for you in terms of the acting itself that, if you were putting together a new reel right now, you’d splice in there?
Ko: Oh, man! You know what’s funny, I’ve been thinking about that recently because I’m like, “I’m going to have to add this to my reel.” It’s hard to just kind of be objective.

I think Cheena had a moment with Rebel in episode four where her and Rebel kind of had a moment where she just said, “Take me seriously.” That’s kind of something, but I also see a different side of her. Cheena is really the comic relief and I definitely want to show aspects of that and I think that was shown quite well in the pilot. There was a moment with Mykelti and I, Rene and Cheena, at the table where it’s kind of that first thing and snapping back. That would be one.

See, it’s hard to choose! (Laughter)

The other one would be the scene with Cheena and TJ (Method Man) where she is kind of protecting Rebel and she’s like, “Back up!” I think it shows a different layer of her that is a little tougher. It’s like, “Whoaaa… Cheena can snap back too!”

I think those would be my top three to choose from.

TrunkSpace: Most actors are also fans of the industry itself, so we’d imagine that being directed by John Singleton, particularly as one of your first jobs, must have been pretty exciting?
Ko: Oh my goodness! It was! He is so supportive and he is all about authenticity and bringing the real voice. Initially Cheena was Chinese but he learned that I was Taiwanese and Philppina and he was like, “Well, Cheena is Taiwanese then!”

I’ve trained. I’ve been in the arts for a long time. I’ve always had a passion for it. But, as far as being on camera, God, I was on stage. Being on camera is a whole different beast. I’ve been told growing up that, “Oh, you’re funny!” and I’m, “I’m not funny. I’m not trying to be funny.” I always took it offensively. And he, kind of throughout the process, just basically told me what I don’t even know about myself. He was like, “You have an innate comedic timing. Really nurture that. You take it offensively when people are laughing, but they’re not laughing at you. You’re funny.”

And what an honor to be getting a phone call or a text from John Singleton that says to watch Woody Allen movies or to watch the Marlon Brando documentary. That process is incredible. And he let us play. We really just… we had fun. We had fun! And a lot of time times, he let us do some improv. Like the scene in the pilot, the dinner scene with Mykelti, Danielle and I… my goodness! Mykelti is just a brilliant actor. But, he (Singleton) would put the camera in front of me and he’d be like, “Just react!” To feel special as an actor… to feel comfortable and to feel like you’re able to play that… it’s the best thing ever.

And away from that, I just have to say… I will forever be grateful to him for giving me a chance because not many people in the industry right now would be willing to give somebody with no credits a chance. We just all feel so incredibly blessed that we had somebody like John Singleton willing to take a chance and not give a crap about status quo.

“Rebel” episode 109 – Angela Ko as Cheena Lin. (Photo: BET)

TrunkSpace: Well, and that’s something he has been doing his entire career, all the way back to “Boyz n the Hood.”
Ko: His whole career! And he’s confident about it. He gives people a chance and he believes in people, especially musicians and artists. At the end of the day, he believes in telling an authentic story from people who came from those kinds of backgrounds who fit the character. That’s it. It’s about telling an authentic story and I respect him for that because trust me, they definitely say, “Oh, we want a name for this!” And he’s like, “No! Danielle is Rebel. Angela Ko is Cheena.”

TrunkSpace: That must give you all of the confidence in the world to go in on your first day and own Cheena.
Ko: You know, yes and no. (Laughter) I’m still an actor and an artist and it was my first thing! So honestly, even throughout when I got the script, I read it and I was like, “Holy crap, this is me!” Your first thought is to overthink it. I thank God that I have a great support system because my friends are like, “Ko, this is so close to home for you. Just be you! Be the best you that you can be!” Do you know how hard that is? You go in to be an actor to be everybody else, so it’s actually a little more difficult, at least for myself, to give as much of me and accept all of me and bring all of MY self all to the table. So yeah, there’s a level of confidence, but there’s so much work to be done to get yourself prepared to relax and to just be you and to show the flavor and to show the sass.

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Opening Act

Flight of Fire

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Artist/Band: Flight of Fire

Members:
Maverick – Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Tanya Venom – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tia Mayhem – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Maddie May Scott – Drums/Backing Vocals

Website: www.flightoffire.com

Hometown: Boston, MA

Latest Album/Release: Path of the Phoenix (2016)

Influences: Highly influenced by classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Journey, Rush, Heart and The Who, as well as modern rockers like Halestorm, Paramore, The Foo Fighters and Evanescence. Flight of Fire has varied inspiration contributing to their unique sound, rooted in time-tested rock with a fresh, modern flavor.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Flight of Fire: When we’re asked what kind of music we play, we usually say that our primary sound is hard rock, and that we also experiment with elements of heavy metal and folk music. On each of our releases, along with the driving hard rock songs that are our core, we include a couple more acoustic songs and some heavier songs that are reminiscent of 80s metal with a modern writing style.

TrunkSpace: How would you respond to someone who said that “rock is dead?”
Flight of Fire: We agree that rock is struggling in many countries, and the US isn’t the easiest place to build a career on rock music, but rock will never die. It’s too much founded in the pure energy, soul and expression that goes into the best music, and although it’ll continue to look different throughout the ages, the spirit of rock is forever.

TrunkSpace: As far as the “mainstream” is concerned, the genre definitely seems like it has been on the decline, and yet, there seems to be more rock bands touring and pounding the pavement than ever before. Will rock ever have its day in the sun on a major, mass market scale again?
Flight of Fire: Agreed. Especially in America, it’s hard to garner the kind of mass interest in rock music that other genres enjoy right now. But we think that music serves the world and it usually moves in cycles. Hopefully we’ll be around for the next cycle of heavy mainstream music.

TrunkSpace: If the band blew up tomorrow and found yourselves spearheading a rock resurgence, would you be comfortable with that amount of exposure and attention?
Flight of Fire: Absolutely. We are nothing if not ambitious!

TrunkSpace: It seems like bands comprised of women, regardless of their genre, more often than not get labeled as “girl bands” as opposed to just “bands.” How does Flight of Fire want to be viewed?
Flight of Fire: You’re so right. We love being an all-female band because it’s a totally unique chemistry on stage and during the writing process, but we want to be judged for our music and our character, not for what some people might think of as a gimmick. We’re all best friends, that’s why we play together, not because we’re trying to put on a freak show. But if, along the way, we show the world that girls can shred with the best of them, that would be progress to be proud of.

TrunkSpace: Another thing we noticed about bands comprised of women is that club owners often try to book them on bills with other female fronted bands, even when the music itself doesn’t mix. Is this something that Flight of Fire has experienced?
Flight of Fire: Definitely. And that practice has been both a hindrance and a boost. Sometimes it puts us in a position to open for other prominent female fronted bands and gain more fans, and sometimes it’s just so contrived that it feels a little ridiculous.

TrunkSpace: Boston has a rich history of birthing musical greatness, but it has never had that “scene” exposure like cities like Seattle or Los Angeles or Detroit. How would you describe the Boston music scene in 2017?
Flight of Fire: The great thing about Boston is that there are so many opportunities for new bands starting out. It’s very easy to get gigs and there are so many bands to play with. On the other hand, those first few years of a band’s development are usually filled with shows playing to pretty small audiences, and it can be difficult to break into the larger shows because there aren’t as many mid size venues who are willing to book local support acts unless your following is substantial. On the other hand, although pay-to-play certainly exists here, you can avoid it much more easily than in a city like LA. The road might be longer if you start in Boston, but it seems like a more honest scene than the major music cities in the US.

TrunkSpace: Can you talk to us about your songwriting process? How do Flight of Fire songs come together?
Flight of Fire: We’re very lucky in Flight of Fire that we have three songwriters. Maverick, Tia and Tanya all write songs and have different songwriting styles. The three of us usually write individually and then, when the song is mostly complete, we bring it to the other three so that we can all add in our individual skills to flesh out the song and give it the Flight of Fire sound. Maverick may extend melodies and edit lyrics, Tanya and Tia work together on riffs, and solos and Tia might develop the song’s grooves.

TrunkSpace: Do you ever feel exposed or vulnerable releasing new music to the world, and if so, how do you prepare yourself for that in a world of instant social media feedback?
Flight of Fire: It’s always vulnerable to share new music with your listeners, but for us, that experience usually happens on stage… we tend to play songs out at shows and get a feel for the audience reaction and develop the song as much as we can before we record it, so by the time the song is available to the whole world, we usually have something we feel really confident about.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about music is that it can often affect people in a way that those who wrote it never intended. Have you been approached by a fan who shared a story about how a Flight of Fire song got them through a difficult moment or time in their life?
Fight of Fire: Those moments are by far the most rewarding memories we have. Our latest release, “Path of the Phoenix,” has a lot of themes of trauma recovery and healing from abuse, and we’ve had fans share their stories about how some of the songs on the album have helped them feel less alone and more understood. Touching people’s lives and validating those who’ve experienced rough times is a very fulfilling experience for us, and since so many of our songs have these themes, we hope that we can continue to inspire our listeners! We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the guidance and help we’d received from our own musical heroes, and the thought that we could come close to helping others as our heroes have done is quite humbling and very motivating.

TrunkSpace: Just as listening to music can be a powerful thing for people, creating it can also be therapeutic. What does writing and creating music mean to you?
Flight of Fire: For Maverick, writing music was her way to cope with an abusive childhood, so it was nothing less than life saving. But all of us at Flight of Fire feel passionately about their need to express themselves musically, in a form of honesty that they might not be able to do any other way! This is one of the many reasons why we have no plan B as a band… writing and performing our music is really the only path in life that can fulfill us and keep us sane!

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Flight of Fire in the second half of 2017 and beyond?
Flight of Fire: We are so excited for everything that’s coming up for Flight of Fire! We’re touring to promote our new album, “Path of the Phoenix,” and we’ll be putting out a lot more music videos over the coming months. We also have a couple brand new singles planned, and then, next summer, we have our hearts set on touring internationally in Europe and Japan as well as the US, before we get back into the studio to make a little sister for “Path of the Phoenix.”

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Musical Mondaze

Mr. Big

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Anyone who listened to the radio in 1991 or watched MTV in the age of actual music videos has emphatically sung along with Mr. Big’s “To Be with You,” the hit single from their platinum-selling sophomore album “Lean Into It.” Nearly three decades later, the band is continuing to write, record, and tour the world and doing so on their own terms now that the music industry has been flipped on its head. Their ninth studio album, “Defying Gravity,” is set for release July 7.

We recently sat down with bass player Billy Sheehan to discuss how their record label originally despised “Lean Into It,” the process that went into recording their new album, and how being crushed to death by those who adore you may not be the worst way to go.

TrunkSpace: When the band first got together, did you ever think you’d still be talking about Mr. Big almost 30 years later?
Sheehan: Well, I guess in the back of your mind, when you’re putting a band together you hope that it’s THE band and it’s going to stay together forever and your kids are going to hang out together, but it doesn’t always work out EXACTLY that way. But we came pretty close. We’re still here. We had a little break for a few years, but we were back together in 2009 just like we were when we started. I’m really pleased. I’m a fan of a lot of bands and a lot of music and I’m always disturbed when I hear that they don’t like each other and stay in separate hotels and have different tour buses and don’t speak to each other and they don’t sound check together. It’s like, “C’mon, if you’re up on stage having fun, that doesn’t happen off the stage?” (Laughter) Fortunately I’m not a good enough actor to make it to fake it like that, so we really do enjoy hanging. We have a good time together and performing on stage. We’re not faking it. When it looks like we’re having a good time, we actually are. So that lead to a longevity that we’re extending into 2017 and we’re still enjoying it. And in many ways, enjoying it even more.

TrunkSpace: So much has changed in the industry both in terms of how it operates and how people consume their music. Has that changed the experience for you guys?
Sheehan: Well, in some ways, some things haven’t changed much because we had an ethic early on that we were in touch with people. We’d get fan mail, we’d write back. I’d throw a couple of pics in an envelope and we’d always send it back. To this day I’ll get an email from somebody that says, “Back in 1984 you sent me a Talas bumper sticker.” (Laughter) It’s good that now that we have the Internet we can directly communicate with everybody. And generally on Facebook and via email and several different formats, I respond to everything I can. It’s an overwhelming task, but I go at it pretty heavily to make sure that I respond to people. So that part of the business has remained kind of the same for us, however of course, the record business as we know it is pretty much gone. There’s no big budgets. Fortunately for us we don’t need a big budget to make a record. We did this in six days. We can do the inexpensive version, which is almost better for us because we actually play, so going in and playing is always, for us, superior than piecing things together in different cities. That’s exemplified on this record, of course.

But yeah, things are different. I think that in some ways they’re actually better because the one thing that you can’t substitute is a live performance. You can fake it with a lot of digital trickery in the studio. You can pitch correct vocals. You can punch in and punch out and fix timing and fix errors easily after the fact if you need to. We don’t rely on that. Occasionally once in a while there’s a thing that we just have to change. There’s no two ways about it. That ONE note… there’s no way that can stand, so we’ve got to go in and fix it, but… it’s a microscopic amount. We rely on what we do live and because of that live performance, and because it can’t be downloaded, we’ll always have something that we can do that is alive and fresh. And being in a room of your peers and people of like mind as an audience member and seeing a band that you love, that experience… you can’t do that in virtual reality. You can’t do that as a download. You’ve got to be there and you’ve got to see it and smell it and feel it. That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always done, so in spite of everything changing around us, fortunately it has kind of come back to a situation where the thing that we do best, in my humble opinion, or the thing that we love best rather… is the thing that’s really happening today in many ways.

TrunkSpace: During that time when the labels were in control by way of being in control of the money, did that mean that they also had more of a say over the creative? In the case of Mr. Big, did they try to squeeze themselves into what you were doing in terms of songwriting and recording?
Sheehan: We did have a lot of pressure. Fortunately for Mr. Big, our manager was a guy named Herbie Herbert. He was a legend in the music business. In the Woodstock movie, he’s seen moving Carlos Santana’s amps around. He’s one of the founding fathers of many aspects of the music business that we know of today, so he had a lot of power. When we presented “Lean Into It,” the album with “To Be with You” and “Green-Tinted” and all of those songs on it, we presented it to the label and they HATED it. They despised it. They were not going to release it. They wanted us to go back in and start over again. Fortunately we had our manager Herbie who went into the offices of Atlantic Records and got into a, literally, screaming shouting match with the then president, Mr. Doug Morris. He finally got them to agree to release it, but they said, “We’ll release it, but we’re not going to do anything. We’re not going to have anything to do with it. We’re not going to promote it. We’re not going to do anything. You’re on your own. Fuck you, get out of here.” (Laughter) And that’s how we launched “Lean Into It.” Fortunately our manager was powerful enough that he knew the right people to get us the right airplay and he got us on the right tours. Eventually he found the right promotional people to get “To Be with You” to be played on the radio and then BANG, we had a hit record. All due to our manager. Completely.

So that helped us in many ways, to keep a powerful manager. It helped us to keep that influence of the label off our backs. We’d do our best to cooperate because we liked our label. We liked Atlantic Records and I don’t dislike Doug Morris. He’s a very successful music guy. But fortunately we didn’t have a lot of pressure. It got to the level to where they would strongly suggest things, but we didn’t necessarily have to do it. We would do it sometimes to keep the peace to some degree, but fortunately we were in a great situation with our management.

TrunkSpace: Did the label want “Lean Into It” to be more like something else that was released around that time?
Sheehan: I don’t even know what their idea was, but I remember we were in the middle of doing interviews… we were doing interviews for the “Lean Into It” record, talking about the songs and all that good stuff. We had just delivered the record to the label and now the publicity was starting and all of a sudden I heard, “Billy, I’ve got to talk to you for a minute. They’re not going to release the record.” (Laughter) I go, “Whaaaat?!?!” (Laughter) So all hell broke lose and Herbie flew to New York and they literally had to call security over the argument that had ensued in the office. But in the end, we got our way. Thank you, Herbie!

TrunkSpace: So with “Defying Gravity” being your ninth album, what did you guys want to bring to it that you didn’t bring on the previous eight? Was there something new that you wanted to try or perhaps a different approach?
Sheehan: Well, what’s old is new again and the fact that we brought our original producer in, Kevin Elson. He did our first four records with us. We had our greatest success with him and amazing times from the beginning of the band, right on up to our greatest success. He’s a dear friend and a wonderful guy and a legendary producer. He grew up with and did the live sound for Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was on the plane with them that crashed, survived, and Herbie hired him instantly to do all of Journey’s live mixing and production of their records. He’s quite a storied and legendary guy with amazing ears and just a wonderful sweet man. So, the problem that it brought with it, as we started reminiscing about the stories back in the old days and laughing about it, we go, “Wait, we’ve got to shut up! We’ve only got six days to do this record! We better hurry up!” (Laughter)

So that was one thing that we wanted to bring into this record. We didn’t know how it would turn out, but I think we have a record that sonically is a little bit more like our earlier records, but still has a lot of the features that are modern in 2017. A good combination of the two. You never know when you combine things. When you’re making stew or soup and you put whatever in there, you’re never sure how it’s going to come out in the end, but we got lucky and I think what we had in the end represents a lot of the band sonically from our earlier days. There’s no subwoofer, deep, low end bass that was non-existent back in those days. Sonically it’s more in tune with a regular rock record as opposed to a digital feast or cornucopia using sonic trickery. It’s a rock record and I think that’s good for us to do. I think with Mr. Big, that’s the kind of band we are and that’s the kind of record that I think works best on us.

TrunkSpace: So in terms of the songwriting itself, how much time spans the creation of the tracks on the album? How far back do they go?
Sheehan: We went back a few months. We got together… myself, Pat, and Paul… and did what we initially did. We come up with some ideas and songs and send them up to Eric and see what he can add or subtract from them and then he sends them back down to us. We did that a bunch of times. But when we went into the studio, we didn’t have 11 complete songs, by any means. We had two or three that were pretty much done, but every time we tracked a new song we kind of had to map it out all new right then and there, which again like I said earlier, it was kind of good to have that pressure on you because you can take unlimited time on any project and when you do it just seems to drag on and lose it’s spirit and lose it’s soul and it’s fire. So, we could see each other playing and I’d look up and it would look like Pat’s going into the part where the chord changes, so I better change there too and by chance I’d get it right and it would work out. We arranged a lot on the fly and I think that was a beneficial thing also.

TrunkSpace: Did part of that arranging on the fly magic also play into having Kevin back with you guys?
Sheehan: Very much. He knows when to put his hands on and when to take his hands off. When things are going smooth and fine, he sits back and just makes sure everything is sounding right. When things slow down, he’ll say, “Okay, maybe this part and maybe not that and maybe this and not that.” He’s never dictatorial and always pleasant and easy and open to suggestion. It’s a real joy to work with someone like that. I’ve worked with producers that it’s just, “It’s my way or just leave!” and that’s not really conducive to an experience that you’ll want to reproduce on the road. (Laughter)

Photo By: William Hames

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked with many other artists over the course of your career, including David Lee Roth. In working with different people and on different projects, does each become it’s own unique experience or does it all start to feel like the same process?
Sheehan: It can be very different. Some aspects of it are the same. Basically you want to get your rythm section… the drums and the bass… that arrangement down and then you start to flesh our more guitar parts and vocal things. That’s kind of a basic. There’s some things that make sense. But everybody’s fingerprint, cornea, DNA… they’re all different and that adds up to a different personality and a different dynamic. When you get in a room full of four people and change one, the whole thing is different again. It doesn’t seem like it should be that way, but it really is quite different. As a fan I know every time I saw a band change members, it always threw me. Sometimes it was okay, but not very often. I always like the original chemistry that I fell in love with. So, similarly when you’re putting a record together in the studio, there’s a dynamic that happens with every person that’s involved. Even with people who are kind of on the outside and not really involved, they still have an influence on how it goes down. So it seems to me that, to your point, that it is very different is the more accurate one.

TrunkSpace: A lot of times people are not always comfortable with the mass exposure they receive when something like “Lean Into It” hits on such a massive, global scale. How did you view all of the attention at the time?
Sheehan: Well, we rolled around in it. We put our heads under the water and it was incredible. It was an amazing experience. And it happened all over the world too. We were number one in 14 countries. There were about four or five times where we were actually in danger… legitimate physical danger from crowds. We showed up in Singapore one time and they announced what flight we were coming in on and there were about 4,000 to 5,000 people at the airport and no one to get us. We were supposed to take cabs to our hotel, so we had to stay behind customs and then the police showed up and they tried to get us into cars. Kids were pushing and the police had billy clubs and pistols hit the floor as we ran. We managed to get there and there were kids camping out in the lobby. And this happened a bunch of times. We didn’t want to see anyone get hurt, so that was a concern of ours, but I guess if you’re going to die, dying being crushed by people who love you would not be the worst way to go. (Laughter)

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Musical Mondaze

Fotocrime

Fotocrime_MusicalMondaze

After amassing thousands of fans worldwide and releasing five studio albums, Louisville’s Coliseum decided to call it quits in 2015. Singer and guitarist Ryan Patterson stepped away from the band but not music itself, quickly beginning to write material that would become the foundation for his new solo project, Fotocrime. Patterson was hoping that his latest endeavor in music would be a complete departure from the experiences of his previous band, and so he went to work, eventually entering the studio to record “Always Hell,” his debut EP.

We recently sat down with Patterson to discuss how Fotocrime is the best representation of him as a songwriting in the moment, why he wanted to change the way he was used to singing, and how going solo can sometimes be a lonely undertaking.

TrunkSpace: Having spent so much time in a band atmosphere and having an established fanbase by way of that band, was it a daunting task to, in a way, be starting over with your latest project Fotocrime?
Patterson: Certainly. It was a big challenge that I was, wanting to accomplish myself, creating a record entirely on my own and doing something without that safety net of a band and with band members. Of course now I have people who are playing with me live, but yeah, it’s exciting and scary. It’s a big leap of faith and it’s nerve racking, but it’s cool because there’s a lot of hopefulness and a lot of that feeling of that you don’t know what’s coming next and it could be really great or it could all fall apart. But, it was time for me to do that. Writing wasn’t exactly entirely different from how I’ve written in my previous band, but I wanted to just challenge myself and see what I could accomplish, which is something I always want to do with music. And so for this, to try to make this new leap and just see what happened, it was exciting for sure.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how the songwriting process was not much different from the way you were used to working, but is the result the best representation of you as a songwriter to date?
Patterson: I think it’s the best representation of the moment, and I think that’s the goal with anything that you do. I think anything that I’ve ever done, especially within the last seven years or so, is accurately representing me at the moment. Coliseum did that certainly and other side projects I do, if it’s something I’ve written or if it’s my playing… I think it always represents me. Even years ago in early Coliseum days or when I was doing bands when I was younger, it was certainly a snapshot of the moment and that’s what you want with recording and writing. I think with Coliseum, starting with our third album “House with a Curse” and onward, I think that was when it really represented me more fully than anything I had done because I would try to take leaps forward in terms of songwriting and how I approached it and how it represented me. I tried to look more in the big picture and long term and how things were being represented. So with Fotocrime, certainly it’s the purest distillation of self of anything that I’ve done because no one else other than J. Robbins who produced it was involved or even heard it or… anything. It’s very unique in that way and I’ll probably keep using the word exciting, but… it’s exciting and scary in that way.

I also don’t think that it casts a shadow negatively on anything else I’ve done in the past. It’s just a separate thing and of this moment just as that was of that moment.

TrunkSpace: Oftentimes a fanbase does not want to see or hear their favorite artist grow beyond a particular sound. Is the hope that Coliseum fans will follow you to Fotocrime or do you expect to start a new fanbase?
Patterson: Some of both I hope. I hope that people who have followed my music will continue to follow it, but of course I hope to reach new people. With Coliseum I think it was hard for us to be pinned down. We changed a lot over the course of 12 years… a lot of evolution and a lot of different things. People that might have been fans of our early work, weren’t fans of our later work, or, some knew our later records but didn’t know our early stuff at all. One thing I was happy to do, as hard as it was to say goodbye to something I worked on for so long and had represented me for so long, is that I was happy to let the history and some of the baggage of being in a long term band go. I was really happy to start fresh. I’m happy to say that that is everything that I have done, but this, Fotocrime, is brand new. It can go wherever it wants to go and it doesn’t have all of this history that can be a great asset and also a great hindrance.

TrunkSpace: Is part of that the fact that there are less creative constraints when you don’t need to use the rest of a band as a springboard for every idea that comes to you? And, on top of that, you aren’t having to work on a schedule that works for everybody and you can just write when you feel inspired?
Patterson: Yeah. That’s definitely a big bonus with working on your own, but it’s also difficult. Sometimes when there isn’t a rigid schedule, it’s hard to maybe get yourself into that mindset if there’s not a practice planned. I had a lot of false starts with trying to get this going, but once I did, it went really well.

It’s interesting. I don’t want it to be lonely, you know? (Laughter) I’m trying to figure out how to make that work. I did all of this on my own and there’s a lot of material that’s unreleased that will be released at some point… that was recorded at the same time as this EP. Now I have people playing with me for the live shows, so I’m unsure how things will develop and if I’ll continue to do everything on my own when recording or if we’ll write and record together. That kind of remains to be seen, but… I don’t want it to be an entirely solitary endeavor.

I knew I would never play it alone. I just didn’t think that would be visually appealing enough for this kind of music, but… I don’t know. We’ll just see how it goes. When I went to record the record, it wasn’t me alone. I was working with J. Robbins who was a producing/collaborator for many, many years. He’s someone I feel extremely comfortable with and someone who makes me feel safe and confident when recording. He has a great assistant named Matt who worked on the record with us. I was staying at J.’s house with his family so, I felt like I was kind of going into a family environment to make the record itself and now that there are people playing with me… one is Nick from the band Young Widows that I’ve been really close with for many, many years and a woman named Shelly who I’ve known for a long time… so it’s nice to feel comfortable in these situations but still have that ability to be standing on your own in the way that you want to, but be surrounded by great people that are helping you out and apart of it at the same time. Hopefully it’s going to have all of the benefits of being in a band, but none of the drawbacks. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Was there anything within the recording process that you wanted to try that you hadn’t attempted in the past in any of your previous projects?
Patterson: So much of Fotocrime is new. All drum machine and program drums, which I’ve only done with demos before. I’ve been writing demos for quite a long time using that, but I’ve never released anything with those type of drums. I knew a lot of things that I listened to, a lot of the classic bands who are really important to me, used a lot of programming and early drum machines. So I knew I could do it and it was appealing. There’s a lot of synthesizer… analog synth and digital synth. A lot of arpeggiating and step sequences and sequenced synth stuff, which I had done a tiny bit of in Coliseum, but not to this extent. So pretty much everything.

The way I’m singing… trying to sing in a different register and find a different voice than Coliseum so it doesn’t sound like the same thing. I was really hoping for everything to be different. I think “Always Hell,” which is the first song we’ve released, is probably the most similar to Coliseum of anything that I’ve done so far with Fotocrime. That was by design so that we would have something to kind of bridge the gap, but other than that, it’s really outside of my… I wouldn’t say comfort zone, but outside of what I’ve done before.

TrunkSpace: How did you go about retraining yourself to sing in a new register?
Patterson: In terms of the melody I wanted to hear. The guitar tuning isn’t as low as it was with Coliseum. I think there was a level of aggression with the stuff I was doing before that even at our most melodic, and we got pretty melodic, there was still kind of a pummeling aspect to the music that was just kind of inherent in that band. So I am trying to find a place where I don’t have to push as hard and I can relax. And certainly some of it is just finding the songs that work. I wrote a lot of material when I first started writing for this that just wasn’t working. My voice wasn’t happening the way that I wanted it to. I wrote a lot of complete songs that as I started to get to the vocal point, it just wasn’t what I wanted, so I threw them out.

I’m not a person who knows exactly what key works best for me or what my exact vocal range is, but I was just trying to find something that feels more natural and that I’m not reaching for something, which is probably something I feel like I’ve always done as long as I’ve been singing… even from when I was a kid and singing in my band’s in high school. I’ve always kind of been reaching for something. Not necessarily in terms of pitch, but in terms of what I wanted my voice to do and was never able to pull it off. I absolutely feel the most comfortable I ever have with where my voice is with the Fotocrime material.

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Wingman Wednesday

Oliver Trevena

OliverTrevena_Wingman_wednesday
Photo By: Eric Blackmon

As the world of entertainment continues to evolve and take new and unexpected shapes, many entertainers are turning to the digital space as an outlet for their creativity, and in doing so, a new era of the Hollywood star is being thrust into the spotlight.

Enter Oliver Trevena. The TV host and actor from East Sussex, England ventured to the United States when he was 20 years old and quickly established himself as a dual-threat entertainer, working both in the music industry and as a brand ambassador/model before eventually returning to his acting roots. Trevena hosted the Esquire Network’s “Joyride” series alongside co-hosts Mischa Barton and T-Pain last year and it was recently announced that he would be hosting and developing numerous shows for Endemol Shine Beyond, one of the leaders of original content in the digital space.

We sat down with Trevena to talk about his upcoming projects, how American content consumption differs from that of the British, and what he would do with a blank check.

TrunkSpace: Your deal with Endemol Shine Beyond was announced about a month ago. Are you entrenched in all things development and production at this point?
Trevena: It’s pretty full steam ahead. I’m hosting a couple of shows for them, which is great. So we’re doing the creative side of that and then I’m producing a few, which is kind of a new thing for me. I’ve obviously seen a lot being on set, but never really been hands-on and getting involved in the grit and the budget and all that “not so much fun” stuff. But it’s fun in the end.

TrunkSpace: A lot of times it’s those “not so much fun” aspects… the problem solving side of things… that become just as addictive as the creative.
Trevena: Yeah. Exactly. And it’s nice because obviously anything I’m creating is going to be something I’m passionate about, so I’m finding that most of the shows that we’re doing together at the moment are quite heavily based on… there’s a few music shows in there, a music documentary that I’m really excited about… so it’s nice to be able to hone in on stuff that I’m really passionate about and dive into that world.

TrunkSpace: You’re also working on a scripted project under that new deal as well, correct?
Trevena: Yeah. We have a comedy that, and I’m not being biased, is hilarious. It’s called “Porn Moms.” The title itself obviously makes people think it’s more graphic than it is, but it’s a comedy about basically a mom who goes and writes porn on the side to pay her bills and put her kids through school. It’s kind of “Breaking Bad” meets “Modern Family.” It’s great. It’s an amazing script.

TrunkSpace: In the digital space there are so many question marks as far as what works, what doesn’t work, and in the end, how do you monetize it all. With something like “Porn Moms,” how will the show be structured?
Trevena: The episodes themselves are going to be around 23 minutes, which makes them a standard TV episode when you add the commercials. So with the scripted stuff, we’re approaching it as we would with a network. It’s really not a lot different. Digital now ranges anywhere from Amazon to Hulu and Netflix to YouTube. There’s so many digital platforms and they’re not necessarily looking for three minute sketches. They’re looking for actual shows themselves, so it’s an exciting place because I think people are learning and I’m definitely learning. I still think no one has the magical answers of what everyone wants, but I feel like if the content is strong enough, it sells itself, whether it’s 30 minutes of three minutes.

TrunkSpace: Do you think that the space allows for creative people to be the most creative that they can be because there are less rules?
Trevena: 100 percent. It was kind of a dream on the creative side when the whole digital world opened up. You’re having to think outside the box more than ever. You’re having to push that bar. And yeah, there are less rules and that’s great. It opens up a whole new world. In my opinion, obviously, it’s been a great platform for me to sign this deal with Endemol, but also I think with most people… I keep mentioning Netflix, but it’s because people forget that Netflix is digital. That’s what it was. That’s where it started and now it’s become this phenomenon.

TrunkSpace: And what’s so great about that is, once you create a platform where creative people can be creative, then all of the BEST creative people in the industry want to work within that space.
Trevena: Exactly. It’s great. Once again, the more the bar raises, the more people have to raise their game. I obviously don’t want to be negative in any way towards network and stuff like that, but I think it became very, I guess… kind of the same. People were scared to take that risk. And I don’t think that’s because people themselves were scared, but people just didn’t want to. It became very comfortable and I think that’s where the world of digital has forced people to get out of their comfort zone in the way of creating. You have to step it up. You have to think outside the box. You can’t just make another crime drama and sell it because now there’s so much more and the world wants so much more. And the world gets so much more. As much as that’s amazing, it’s also a problem because people are making amazing shows right now and people do have so many choices. So unless you come out with something great, it’s harder to get the eyeballs on it now because it’s so diverse in the way people can watch their content.

TrunkSpace: So with that in mind, is it kind of daunting or intimidating to be working on new content that isn’t established in the current zeitgeist already and hoping that it finds an audience?
Trevena: For me going into this it’s a little bit like learning new things. It’s really more exciting than anything. I’m definitely excited to be working with Endemol because they are in that space and they do know what they’re doing. They’ve had amazing success. And we do crossover. We have the digital side, but I’m also meeting regularly with the TV side. It’s one big home and learning from them and getting their advice on how this works, it’s great. Thankfully I’m in good hands.

One thing that I will say is that it’s definitely not as easy as I thought. (Laughter) I was like, “I’ve got a great idea! Let’s go on set next week and make it!” It doesn’t quite work that way. I wish it did. (Laughter) The good thing is, when they say, “Okay, that is a great idea!” then you know that you’re onto something. It’s connecting the dots and making the show and when it goes it goes. There’s definitely a lot of new adventures ahead.

Photo By: Eric Blackmon

TrunkSpace: I know you live in LA now, but you still spend time in the UK. Is the way that people consume content the same there as it is here in the States?
Trevena: The UK was definitely behind in the way of… even with Nextflix. It would be like six months after and my brothers and mom and dad would be like, “Oh my God, we’re watching this show called ‘Peaky Blinders’ on Netflix.” They were a bit late to the party, but they’re definitely catching up. I still think they’re a little bit late to the party because if I throw out Amazon or Hulu or stuff like that, most of my friends aren’t as familiar. I shouldn’t say it because I’m British, but I think the Brits are a little bit behind right now.

TrunkSpace: This is a favorite question of ours here lately. If someone gave you a blank check to develop any kind of show, what would you develop and why?
Trevena: Oooh. That’s a tough one. You should have sent that one ahead of time! (Laughter) Just the idea of a blank check excites me! I’d probably go to Vegas, to be honest. I’d skip the show. (Laughter)

I am the guy who will watch every episode and obsess over “The Walking Dead,” and then I’ll watch every episode of “Homeland.” The shows I watch are so diverse. I’ve got a background in comedy and improv and stuff like that, so I would love to be in a comedy, but I also love action. I love being entertained. That’s probably more likely what I’d steer towards.

Okay, here we go. It just popped into my head so I’ll roll with it. I would love to make a period piece kind of like the Krays. That era of London and hone in on that and make a series about that. Kind of like, I guess, “Peaky Blinders” but a lot more modern and set in London. Kind of “Peaky Blinders” meets “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

That’s an idea right there! I’m on my way to the Endemol office now so I’m going to pitch that! (Laughter)

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Opening Act

PLRLS

PLRLS_OpeningAct

Artist/Band: PLRLS

Members: George Michael Bowen, Elena Fox, James Glass, Sean Pumphrey & Kathleen Wilson.

Website: PLRLS.com

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Latest Album/Release: Have You Seen My Fancy Pony


Influences
: Everything + Pixies, Wire, Gang of Four, X, The Fall, Diet Penis, B-52’s
Waaaay too many to list. So much is amazing.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
PLRLS: We are like the slightly warped record that you find in the used LP bin and decided to give it a go because it sounded kinda new wavey and post-punk. It was only a dollar after all.

TrunkSpace: How often do you have to correct people because they’re pronouncing the name wrong?
PLRLS: The problem we encounter most often is spelling. We started as PLuRaLS but dropped the vowels to save time. Apparently some folks have extra time to spare and still include the vowels. There is a concern that our band name may cause low level anxiety.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Have You Seen My Fancy Pony” is available on vinyl. Be honest… is a vinyl version of your own music the ultimate achievement in a musical keepsake? It must be such a great feeling to physically hold it and go, “I made this!”
PLRLS: Yes! Vinyl is just so pretty in sound and aesthetics. It takes a real commitment to have it produced and for some, to own it. It requires more attention than other formats (reel tape excluded). Also, our new record is still at the pressing plant and will be available soon. Cassette, CD and digital were released first.

TrunkSpace: “Have You Seen My Fancy Pony” is one of our favorite album titles of all time. Given it’s greatness, we’d have to imagine that there were some equally as great alternative titles in the running. Can you share them with us?
PLRLS: Thank you! I think we picked the best one. In the running were several: Brenda’s Silence; The Gaydar Incident; Dabblers in the Mist; Punching the Infirmed; Pallbearers Night Out, Stuffed Crust Mafia. You get the idea.

TrunkSpace: Your music feels like a disco dance party at a punk rock club. Did you set out to create a unique hybrid sound or did it just happen naturally as a blend of your various tastes?
PLRLS: That sounds about right. It’s mostly by accident rather than a strict design however. We all have pretty eclectic tastes, but there’s a lot of random crosstalk between the five of us and that’s how we end up sounding like we do.

TrunkSpace: What is the PLRLS songwriting process like? How do the songs come together?
PLRLS: It’s mostly collaborative. Usually one of us has a little piece of a melody or an entire part and a sort of musical pile-on occurs. Oftentimes wigs are involved as well.

TrunkSpace: What is the average amount of time that it takes for a PLRLS song to go from conception to completion?
PLRLS: Usually three to four rehearsals. If we are sitting on a song idea for too long, it gets euthanized since it seems like it’s not really getting on its feet.

TrunkSpace: It’s often said that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. That being said, what do you hope the destination is for the band? Where would you like to see the journey take you?
PLRLS: To the center of the earth or the toppermost of the poppermost… whichever is easiest.

TrunkSpace: The internet has made it easier to find fans, but, is it easier to make fans? With every band on the web in some form, how do you attract people and bring them over to the PLRLS team?
PLRLS: Admittedly, we are not the most web savvy band out there, but we do the Facebook/social media thing where appropriate and employ green screen propagandist tactics.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way and would share with young bands starting out today?
PLRLS: Don’t waste time and tour as much as possible. Also, figure out how many drinks you can have and still play a good set. Or don’t drink at all!

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on mainstream music in 2017 and do you think rock as a genre will have its day in the sun again?
PLRLS: Rock hasn’t really gone anywhere, it’s just fragmented into a million little sub-genres, a lot of which have enormous scenes and just take some slight digging to find (further than what’s being presented by the mainstream).

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from PLRLS in the second half of 2017 and beyond?
PLRLS: Fancy Pony vinyl is due in the summer so we will have a 2nd release show for that featuring, if all goes as planned, water acrobatics! We hope to visit our southern neighbors as well and to generally get out there a bit more to hawk/hock our wares.

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Wingman Wednesday

Amin Joseph

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Photo By: Bobby Quillard

Amin Joseph is about to have himself one crazy summer. Not only is he hitting the beach to kick some butt in the big screen adaptation of “Baywatch,” but the NYC native is set to star in the gritty FX series “Snowfall,” which premieres in July.

We recently sat down with Joseph to discuss dipping back into the past by way of period pieces, why swimming trunks are not for him, and how “Snowfall” will do for crack cocaine in the same way that “Breaking Bad” did for meth.

TrunkSpace: Things seems to be in full sprint mode for you in terms of projects releasing over the course of the next few months.
Joseph: Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to a good summer.

TrunkSpace: The “Snowfall” trailer paints the picture of a very intense show.
Joseph: I’m really ecstatic about the trailer that just dropped. Damson, the lead of the show, he showed it to like 20 people all at basically the same time. (Laughter) He’s been going through it because he’s been with this project, probably about three years from when he initially booked it. It was fun to see him get all ecstatic. He was feeling it.

It looks really good. I liked the trailer. And the stuff that we did on the show, it really has some heart. I really like the way that FX put it together. Sometimes you can kind of see the vision from the pilot or whatever, but it was a very compartmentalized shoot and most of the cast… I would only interact with them during the table reads. It was so compartmentalized and it only spans about three weeks in the summer of ‘83 for that entire first season. Everyone is kind of in their own world and we start seeing it intersect towards the end of the season. It was a fun ride.

TrunkSpace: Is “Snowfall” the first period piece you’ve worked on from that particular era?
Joseph: Yeah. This is the first period piece that I’ve done where I remember it. I slightly remember some of the 80s, so it’s kind of cool to actually have lived in a period. I just did another period piece called “LAbrynth” that is in the 90s and I really know the 90s. The 90s is part of my time.

TrunkSpace: And not only that, but that project is based on such a well-known story, so in a lot of ways, you probably absorbed so much of that by way of TV and news during that period.
Joseph: Exactly. And that’s funny because you’re right. A lot times you think, “Oh, I lived that.” And it’s like, “Well, no, you lived through the headlines of that. You didn’t know Biggie and Pac!” (Laughter) But, it felt like you did because the music and everything consumed the entire zeitgeist.

With the 80s though it was a little different. Performance wise, I’m pulling just as much from imagination as I am from things that I remember and people of that time. It’s always fun to… there’s something about putting on prosthetics and there’s something about putting on wigs and period clothing that puts you in a time machine in a sense.

TrunkSpace: And it just must make the work so much more fun because you can step outside of yourself even in a physical sense and just inhabit the character entirely?
Joseph: Yeah. It’s the closest thing to having a theater production… a classical theater production. It’s the second best thing to that. Like you said, it’s not just an emotional trip, but it’s about what you’re wearing and that brings out so much of the behavior.

TrunkSpace: “LAbrynth” is based on real life people. “Snowfall” is based on real life events, but are the characters in the piece based on those who actually took part in the events of the time?
Joseph: I think that it’s just loosely based around the events that happened during that time. I don’t think they got too close with it to tell anyone’s life story, but there’s enough comparisons to be made with figures that we know from that time.

It’s an original story and it covers so many different sides of ‘83. Financing, selling cocaine, the CIA, the Latin community, the African American community, mobsters… it’s so many different slices of life that it puts together.

TrunkSpace: And even though it’s a period piece, it still manages to feel timely to what’s going on in our world today.
Joseph: Yeah. It seems like that with any period piece you do, you realize that the more things change the more they stay the same in some sense.

It’s kind of like how AMC did for meth. This is what FX is going to do with crack cocaine. There’s a lot of humanity there. I feel like Dave Andron and Tommy Schlamme and Jon Singleton… they wanted to make sure that there were multi-layered characters and it’s not what you think on the surface with most of the cast. It goes a little deeper than just, “Okay, he’s a tough guy drug dealer.”

TrunkSpace: People go down paths for certain reasons. That person is more than just a tough guy drug dealer and it’s his path that brought him to that spot and made him who he is. There is a human being there.
Joseph: And it’s so many greys. A lot of times these hoodlums or mobsters or drug dealers, they’re also giving out all of the turkeys during Thanksgiving. Or they’re making sure that single mothers don’t get evicted or that the man of the house can continue being the man of the house because they’re giving them a job. So there are so many greys and it’s good to be in a world where you see some of that and you also tell a good story that people may know, but don’t know everything about. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the audience responds.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite end of the spectrum, your new film “Baywatch” is set to premiere this Friday, which seems as far removed from “Snowfall” as you can get.
Joseph: (Laughter) Big time. It’s a totally different mood. It’s a different type of fun.

TrunkSpace: Where does your character Frankie fall into things?
Joseph: Well, “Baywatch” has a woman villain. Priyanka Chopra is THE villain of the film and I’m basically a henchman, but because it’s an action/comedy, you have some really big gags and then you also have some kick butt action going on. I tussle with some of the main guys and I don’t want to give too much away, but we definitely bring the bad to the beach.

You’re not supposed to bring the sand to the beach, but you’ve got to put the disclaimer in there that you don’t bring bad guys to the beach either. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You don’t bring sand to the beach, but when you’re shooting at one, you probably bring sand home with you.
Joseph: (Laughter) Exactly.

We should just give the bad guys swimming trunks and perhaps they’d become good guys.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s tough to look badass in swimming trunks.
Joseph: (Laughter) You’re right. If they would have JUST given them some trunks… a little red bathing suit… then how bad could they be?

TrunkSpace: Shorts are kind of a young man’s game.
Joseph: (Laughter) Yeah. Especially trunks. Anything that has cheekage… anything with cheeks… doesn’t really work for me.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s got to be pretty cool going into a project like “Baywatch” because with the people involved, there’s a good chance it’s going to have a nice opening weekend?
Joseph: Yeah. You have DJ (Dwayne Johnson) and you have Zac and that’s great. It’s always awesome for the actors because we get to just play, but I don’t know if the producers feel the same way. (Laughter) They’re probably looking at everything and hoping that something that seems like a sure hit, indeed it is that.

I think what it definitely has going for it is that we have recognized that there is kind of a new formula with that summer blockbuster film and that is one that combines comedy, action, and you bring some sexy in there. I think it’s a good recipe. I’ve done the action films where it’s serious and there just isn’t as broad of an audience for that these days. It kind of becomes more genre whereas this, it’s blending. You take “Baywatch” and you make it a little bit more tongue in cheek where you’re laughing. There’s a crude side to this film. There’re some big gags. There’s some really funny stuff going on, so it gives you that sort of “21 Jump Street” or “Ted” type of humor. At the end of the day, it’s more of a buddy flick than it is about girls on the beach.

And then you bring me on the beach and let me crack some heads! (Laughter)

Photo By: Bobby Quillard

TrunkSpace: Let’s say someone gave you a blank check to retool and revamp any old property and make it new again in the same way that is being done with “Baywatch.” What would it be and why?
Joseph: Wow. I would love to see a “48 Hours.” It was gritty. It was tough. It had racial tension, but it had some good guys trying to get the bad guys. I would love to see that in our political atmosphere and seeing these working class guys. You don’t get to see blue collar guys as much on the big screen because a lot of stuff these days is either you’re taking over the world or not. (Laughter) So yeah, something like that I’d like to see revamped.

I also love “Coming to America.” That’s one of my favorite films.

TrunkSpace: And imagine that one retooled in our current political climate!
Joseph: Yeah. Totally different. We wouldn’t have a movie because they would have been stopped at the border.

I also like love films. There’s a film that starred Billy Dee Williams and Dianna Ross called “Mahogany.” I would love to do something like that with like a Rihanna or Beyoncè. That would be amazing!

Baywatch” arrives in theaters this Friday.

Snowfall” premieres July 5 on FX.

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Between The Sheets

Ezekiel Boone

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In our new feature, Between the Sheets, TrunkSpace picks the imaginative brains of authors to break down what it takes to create the various worlds and characters they breathe life into via the tools of their trade… sheets of paper. While technology continues to advance and change the pop culture landscape, the written word has remained one of the most consistent and imaginative art forms.

This time out we’re chatting with “Skitter” author Ezekiel Boone to discuss the spider scare, juggling two voices, and living a nightmare after watching Elm Street.

TrunkSpace: Are your books “Skitter” and “The Hatching” meant to inspire your readers to check beneath their sheets before bed or shake out their shoes before putting them on? The fear associated with creepy crawlies is the kind that sort of festers and intensifies the more you think about it.
Boone: Mostly I just wanted to write a series of fun, fast thrillers, but yeah, some of the premise came because I had the idea of a spider that burrowed under your skin to lay eggs, and once I had that idea, it was hard to shake. The problem is, like you say, it intensifies the more you think about it, and once you think about spiders on and in your body, it’s basically impossible not to think about. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that there’s something crawling on you. Just ask yourself, does anything on my body feel itchy? Might there be a spider crawling on me right now? Is there one on the back of my neck?

TrunkSpace: Even those who don’t fear spiders still don’t necessarily like spiders. What is it about them that causes people to feel so weak and small?
Boone: Some of it is just the way they move. They skitter. Something about them triggers the caveman brain inside of most people. The other issue with spiders is that they show up when you aren’t expecting them, quiet and terrifying.

TrunkSpace: There are so many different types of scares. Again, your books tap into the kind that lingers and intensifies. What is a scare that has stayed with you throughout your life by way of something you read or watched when you were younger?
Boone: When I was about 14, I watched “Nightmare on Elm Street” at a girl’s house who lived down the block from me. She was fifteen and had a few girlfriends over, so I tried to be chill about it. But then I had to walk home. It was near midnight, on a quiet street across from a park with a small lake, and of course, there was a nice, thick layer of fog rolling in. I got about halfway home when the streetlight above made a zzzzt sound and went out. I screamed and ran home the rest of the way.

TrunkSpace: Zombies continue to be one of the more popular scare devices across all forms of media these days. How would spiders fare against the undead in a world where it was SPIDERS VS. ZOMBIES!?!?
Boone: Spiders would rule. The spiders could put their eggs inside the zombies and the zombies would still amble about, spreading the arachnoid menace. Spiders ain’t afraid of no zombies.

TrunkSpace: Are there any thriller/horror staples (AKA cliches) you try to avoid in your writing and why?
Boone: Not really. I don’t have any of those “but it was all a dream!” moments, but I’d argue you can break almost any writing rule if you understand the rule and know what you’re doing.

TrunkSpace: The rumor is that Ezekiel Boone is your pseudonym and that you write literary fiction under your actual name. Can Ezekiel and, well, you, exist within the same workspace? Can you juggle a Boone book and one of your other books simultaneously?
Boone: I’m doing it right now. It’s actually a lot of fun, because when I need a break from one, I can go to the other. It’s refreshing.

TrunkSpace: It takes some writers years/decades to discover their voice. Do you think your writer’s voice is apparent in both areas of your work? Is there a literary signature that is visible for someone who reads both?
Boone: Maybe? I think voice drives a lot of good writing, and that usually ends up coming through. I’ve had a number of readers who’ve loved the Ezekiel Boone books go and read an Alexi Zentner book, and they’ve usually loved them as well. I don’t really know what my literary signature is, but I feel like I’ve found my voice.

TrunkSpace: Regarding the process, is writing a labor of love for you or does it feel more like labor? Do you enjoy the process?
Boone: Labor of love. There are some days when it can feel like a grind, and even though revision is incredibly important, that usually leaves me feeling drained. You have to treat it like a job if you want to be successful, but writing is a great gig.

TrunkSpace: And what does that process look like? What are the ideal conditions for putting in a good day of writing?
Boone: I’ve got kids, so I work when they are at school. I’m pretty happy in my office, but give me a decent pair of headphones and a computer and I can work anywhere. But the ideal conditions are when writing is the only thing I have to worry about. The deeper you can fall into your world the better. When I’m writing, I want to focus entirely on that.

TrunkSpace: Do you self-edit as you write?
Boone: Absolutely. It’s not the right way for everybody – I often tell younger writers to just crank out a draft – but it’s the way I work. Because of that, my first draft is usually more like a seventh or eighth. But then I do a lot more revision after that.

TrunkSpace: Where are you the hardest on yourself as a writer?
Boone: I always think I could be working harder.

TrunkSpace: What are you working on now and what will people be able to read next?
Boone: The third and final book in “The Hatching” series, “Zero Day,” is done and in with my publisher and will be out early next year. That’s going to be followed by a novel called “The Mansion,” which will also be out in 2018. Past that, I’m trying to finish a straight up action thriller, which is as of yet untitled.

Skitter” and “The Hatching” are available now.

Featured Photo By: Laurie Willick

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Longmire

Longmire

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TrunkSpace is looking to rock the socks of fans of “Longmire.” We’ve made it our mission to feature every actor and actress who has appeared on the series, and in doing so, has left a mark on the Longmire Posse.

And now to the interviews…

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