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December 2017

Musical Mondaze

Vodi

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Some artists grow on you, building on the repetitive play of their songs until you can’t help but fall in love with their music. Other artists hook you instantly, capturing you with their sound so that upon first listen, you say to yourself, “Where has this music been all of my life?”

Texas-based Vodi falls into the latter category.

Spearheaded by the beautifully calming vocals of Tom Lynch, the indie rock band’s debut album “Talk” is both a nostalgic throwback and a modern revelation. What you’re hearing streaming from your speakers isn’t just a collection of songs, but a gourmet dinner prepared with only the finest ingredients. “Talk” takes you on a 1970s-style singer/songwriter journey – a time in the history of music when song placement was just as important as the songs themselves and each track was considered for its transition into the next.

We recently sat down with Lynch to discuss Vodi’s evolution, how he worked to make his vocals a part of the instrumentation, and where he gets the most enjoyment out of being in the band.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the Vodi sound, what has that evolution looked like? The band is so unique, a sort of musical mix of both the past and present, and we’re curious how that marriage came to be?
Lynch: I’m not really sure. We basically try to write music that we like, obviously, like everybody does. We all love the old 80s, 70s sounds and I think it just comes through. I don’t know if it’s the songwriting that lends itself to the sound or the sound that lends itself to the songwriting. I think when we get in the room, it just naturally comes through.

TrunkSpace: Had we been in the room with you guys when you first started down the Vodi path, would what we hear then match what we hear now on “Talk?”
Lynch: No, man. When we first started, it was actually just the drummer and I… a then his brother was playing bass. We would go into a studio and write a song on the spot. I had done projects before and hadn’t done one in a while and I was bored. I wanted to start something new that was less Americana or rootsy, and more something I would enjoy playing live and loud and have a lot of fun doing it. We got into a room and started writing the songs and they looked completely different. As we developed a sound, the songwriting changed with it. Of course, my wife, Haley, who’s in the band too, came in.

We had some really crappy demos. (Laughter) We didn’t really know each other at the time, so I was like, “I really want to have this girl come sing on my stuff.” I thought, “Well, it’s pretty crappy but it’s worth a shot.” She came in and she ended up loving it. Honestly, that’s when the band really started, when we got me, the drummer, and Haley together and then moved on from there.

TrunkSpace: Was it one of those things where it just clicked and it all made sense?
Lynch: Totally. We had different players coming in and out of the band. When we first started, we were just kind of a hodgepodge of stuff going on. The songs sounded like I was still writing for an Americana group. It was very out of order. But then, the more we played, the better the writing got, the better the vibe got. And then people fell into place. It wasn’t like a super, well-orchestrated plan. It was more like, this is what worked best and it just kind of clicked.

TrunkSpace: As you were working to steer yourself away from an Americana sound, did you find that you had to rediscover your own singing voice?
Lynch: Yeah. Totally. Man, that was actually one of the harder transitions for me. The stuff I wrote before, I sang soft and light. I wanted to sing heavier, or at least sing in a different way than I had before. It took a little while to get used to singing in a band where I played an electric and did the lead lines, as opposed to playing an acoustic and just signing along, or signing background harmonies.

TrunkSpace: How do you view yourself as a vocalist now?
Lynch: I don’t really know how to explain it. With Americana, I always felt like I was singing a story. With this, I feel like I’m singing a feeling. Does that make sense?

TrunkSpace: Absolutely. When we first heard the album, it felt like your voice was one of the instruments.
Lynch: Man, I’m glad you said that, because one of the first things I talked about with our engineer, our producer Steve Christensen, was that I wanted to make the vocals part of the instrumentation.

TrunkSpace: Then your mission was a success. Everything is very tight and flows together.
Lynch: That has a lot to do with how good the guys around me are. Those guys are really, really good. There are a lot of times where I feel like, instrumentally, I’m the weak link in the band.

I don’t know if you’ve listened to Hayley’s stuff, but she’s got an amazing voice. She’s got her own band, Dollie Barnes. They put a record out earlier this year. They finished it up just as we were meeting. I was blown away with how good she is.

TrunkSpace: Your songwriting stretches back beyond your time with Vodi. Did you try to capture anything you wrote before the band came together and turn it into material for this album?
Lynch: We tried that, because I’ve got 15 to 20 songs sitting, that I’ve never used. I was going to do another solo record and once I started this I abandoned it. Then we went back and tried to figure out if any of them worked. Again, it was more storytelling songs as opposed to the feeling we were going for with Vodi. It just didn’t work.

We’re already writing for the next record. Some of those songs, I’m still going back to rehash. Some of them are great, but it’s really difficult to turn what I was into then into what we are now.

TrunkSpace: So from a lyrical standpoint, you must have had to take a different perspective as well to distance yourself from that storyteller’s point of view. Did that force you to change up your songwriting process at all?
Lynch: A little bit, but it was more fun. I had been songwriting for so long, it was something that I’d grown accustomed to. I think the hardest part was breaking out of the cycle of that type of songwriting, because I would usually approach it from an acoustic guitar. When I first started writing for this, I told myself I could never touch an acoustic guitar to write. I’d either use a piano, or a bass, or even sit down at the drums, or whatever. It lent itself better to me coming up with melodies, and feelings, and beats that would fit what we were doing. Sometimes, when you strum the acoustic guitar, for me at least, I can’t imagine too much else going on.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that the band is already writing material for the next album. As you look towards the future, creatively, what are your goals with Vodi?
Lynch: We want to put out music for people to hear, but for me, personally, my favorite thing to do is to get into a studio. I absolutely love getting in, getting the bones of a song down and building a song out, sifting through all of the sprinkles that you put on top of stuff. It’s probably my favorite process in the entire music thing.

Talk” is available now here.

Check out Vodi’s new Christmas single, “This Is The Best Christmas,” below.

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Opening Act

Kimié Miner

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Photo By: Brooke Dombroski

Artist/Band: Kimié Miner

Website: www.KimieMiner.com

Hometown: Kona, Hawai’i

Latest Album/Release: “Proud as the Sun”

Influences: I grew listening to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Miner: Acoustic soul & pop with a twist of island reggae.

TrunkSpace: Where did your musical journey begin? Did it start with a love for listening to music and then turn into a love for writing/performing?
Miner: I’ve always loved music! I didn’t realize how much I loved writing and performing my own music until college, although I started writing music on my ‘ukulele in middle school.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to find your voice as a singer/songwriter? Was it a long journey to discover what your musical POV was?
Miner: Singing always felt very natural for me growing up. I loved journaling, so they went together perfectly. But I’m still on a journey of discovery. Hopefully I can continue to grow until I leave this earth. My albums are like little souvenirs of a time in my life. Each one represents a different point of view for me and a different element I related to at the time. My first EP, “To the Sea,” was themed around water and my stories as a traveler. My second self-titled album was themed around land and my return home to my roots. “Proud as the Sun” is themed around air, seeing things from a new perspective, a bird’s eye view and becoming a mother.

TrunkSpace: How important was your upbringing and your surroundings during those formative years in becoming the songwriter you are today?
Miner: Oh man, it’s so important! I’m an emotional person and I feed off of my environment – it’s like I can feel every vibration coming at me. So I think growing up in paradise, as opposed to a big city, raised me to be a grateful, mellow, pretty down-to-earth person. My music reflects that sultry exotic happy island environment I felt around me.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to songwriting, what is your lyrical approach? Are you writing from experience or are you writing more as a storyteller?
Miner: I like to approach each new song as it comes. I’ve written songs while tears still dripped from my cheeks and stained the paper. But I’ve also written songs inspired by other people’s stories. I have a friend who told me her crazy life’s story of addiction, homelessness, and prostitution. I went home and wrote my song “New Day” about recovery and what that means to a broken girl. I think as long as I can relate to the song, it is therapeutic for me, whether it’s my story or not.

TrunkSpace: Your music as a whole has an uncanny ability to make us feel! You just can’t help but participate in the individual journeys when you’re within earshot of it. Do you set out to elicit an emotional response when you’re writing new material?
Miner: I really try to create my songs for myself first. The fact that others can relate is such a bonus for me! I didn’t even realize how important music could be until I saw the impact it can have on people, myself included. We all just want to be able to relate to each other.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Proud as the Sun” was released in October. Looking at the various songs on that album, how far back do they go in terms of when they were written to when they were ultimately recorded? Did any of the tracks have a particularly long journey to get where they are in their current form?
Miner: I would say they spanned over the last three years of being written. It was amazing to see which songs fit on this album and how quickly it all came together once I realized I was hapai, pregnant. This was the quickest album I’ve put together in terms of song choice and artwork, visuals, etc., because I knew exactly what I wanted to say on it.

TrunkSpace: What do you think the album says about you in terms of who you are today? Does the collection of songs give any insight into the Kimié Miner of 2017?
Miner: I’ve grown into my own as a woman, especially on this new journey of motherhood. I feel empowered, beautiful, and full of a greater purpose. I want to share the joy I feel with others and bring their own light that they possess out of them!

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist/songwriter?
Miner: I can be a real perfectionist when it comes to my music. I can sit in the studio and record the same verse 100 times if you let me. I want the whole performance to be just right. But I realized with this last album that perfectionism is really just a fancy form of fear. Discovering the news of my pregnancy just made me realize that our time is precious and I can’t keep putting off projects because I want it to be “perfect.” I want to encourage my daughter to be her authentic self always and not let perfectionism hold her back. Being flawed is beautiful.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is the best way to break through all of the noise of the times and connect with new listeners? How do you share your music with people and build fans?
Miner: You know, I’m still figuring this all out. But I notice that when I open up to my fans and let them in on some of the things I normally wouldn’t share, that’s when they really connect and engage with me, whether it be at a show or on social media. I’m still learning to open up more and just be my true, authentic self no matter what. We are all beautiful unique beings created for a purpose. We just need to get out of our own ways and let our light shine.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Kimié Miner heading into 2018?
Miner: I’ve already started working on a few projects in different genres than my last album. I’ve been feeling so creative during this time and just allowing myself to experiment. I’m continuing to build my company Haku Hawai’i (Hakuhawaii.com) and even working on a Christmas album. But if you follow me on social media you’ll most likely see my new journey as a mama bird in 2018. I’m looking forward to it.

“Proud as the Sun” is available now.

Featured image by: Brooke Dombroski

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Minnich

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Photo By: Lesley Bryce

It appears to be more about creative fate than coincidence that Sarah Minnich can be seen starring in a string of period pieces. As a child, the California-born actress who first drew attention for her run as Brenda on “Better Call Saul,” always found herself playfully portraying characters living in the past.

I used to literally play dress up all day long in period costume type stuff because it’s just what I wanted to do,” she said in a recent phone interview.

Years later, that imaginative playtime is paying off for Minnich. She can currently be seen in the buzzy western series “Godless” for Netflix and in the ripped-from-the-headlines six part mini-series “Waco,” set to premiere January 24 on Paramount Network.

 

We recently sat down with Minnich to discuss the pull of history on her career, how she approaches playing non-fictional characters in a semi-fictionalized story, and why the future of filmmaking is looking so bright.

TrunkSpace: In addition to you working on a string of period pieces, we have also noticed that a number of your recent projects, from “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” to “Waco,” are based on true events.
Minnich: And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ll tell you something interesting… when I was in high school and middle school, I was terrible at history. I always screwed my GPA up because of history classes, but now, in the past five years or so, I’ve started listening to audiobooks, and specifically historical fiction audiobooks. For some reason, I’ve become much more attracted to and interested in learning about history and historical events. It sort of fits right in like a puzzle with my love for doing period piece type of work and trying to explore the character and mindset of folks that used to live in the past.

TrunkSpace: Does playing someone who actually existed or portraying a fictional person who existed within an actual moment of history force you to approach finding a character differently?
Minnich: Typically, my homework before I go for an audition is pretty extensive in terms of researching. Obviously the homework is fairly extensive for any piece that you go in for, but for period pieces, you want to look at the era. You want to look at personal accounts from people that lived in that era. For roles that are based on actual people, that becomes even more difficult because it sort of becomes a process of trying to actually capture that person’s essence, which is friggin’ hard! Then, you run into issues of, “Well, what if you don’t capture it right, and they don’t like that?” It’s kind of this game of guess and you do your best to base it on what you’ve learned and what you can find.

That’s another thing… you can’t always find information on the people that you’re attempting to portray, so you sort of just got to put your best foot forward and go with what the director asks from you, and rely on your instincts, but at the same time, rely on the direction you’re being given.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a project that is based on real events, does the vibe on set take on a different feel?
Minnich: When you’re portraying actual folks, it becomes more of a legal concern because they want to do their best to portray the facts, but at the same time, there’s a certain amount of liberty taken when writing about historical events because you weren’t there. I wasn’t there. I can’t say exactly what happened. So on the production that I recently worked on with “Waco,” we had to be really sort of careful in how we portrayed things because you don’t want to step on people’s toes and you don’t want to portray it incorrectly.

TrunkSpace: “Godless” is really turning heads and seems to be quickly becoming the latest water cooler Netflix series that everyone is talking about. For a lot of people, westerns are more of a brand than a genre. If they dig westerns, they are willing to give a new one a try, much in the same way that science fiction fans are. When you were doing something like “Godless,” did it feel like you were working on a series that was automatically going to have a built-in audience?
Minnich: Well, because I was working with Jeff Daniels, and because the show was a Netflix show… right there is your built-in audience. Yes, it’s a western, genre-wise, so yes there’s a mass group of people, just like you said with sci-fi, or just like maybe with romance or heavy drama or dramedy, of a built-in audience, people who are attracted to those kind of shows. What was so great about “Godless” was that it kind of flipped it. Westerns are typically male-driven. Yeah, you have Jeff Daniels as one of the main leads, so there’s a strong male figure in that production, but then you have quite a few females who are playing strong, independent, stubborn-minded type folks, and that’s sort of flipping it on its head. So some people who are normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” Some people who aren’t normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” It’s nice to walk into something that is both a norm, a norm for a genre, and at the same time flipping a genre on its head.

TrunkSpace: And you touched on this a bit, but when you’re going into a project with that caliber of talent both on screen and behind the camera, while also being a Netflix show, you’re going to get eyeballs on it right out of the gates.
Minnich: Netflix isn’t playing around. If you’ve seen some of their new projects, some of their newer stuff, they are bringing it to the table. Netflix used to be more of this sort of thing where you’d go, “Oh, you know, I’m bored, I’ll stick this on. There’s gotta be something on it.” Now, they’re competing. They’re putting out projects that are literally competing on a bigger scale that are gaining an audience. Like “Ozark?” Holy moly, that was an epic show, and who expected that to come out of Netflix?

Photo By: Lesley Bryce

TrunkSpace: People keep calling this the Golden Age of Television. For someone working within this time period, is it exciting to see television taking this dramatic, character-driven turn?
Minnich: It really is. It’s interesting and sort of surreal for me to sit back from it and be like, “Whoa, this is an era. I’m living in an era because looking back on this time period in 20 years, in 30 years, we’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, that’s when TV sort of was turned and we started to see diverse-driven projects. We started to see female-driven projects.’” And then we have the whole legal stuff that’s going on right now in the industry. This is an interesting time. Although our country is going through some major changes in terms of administration, it’s going through a different sort of renaissance in the film and television industry.

I’m really glad to see shows bringing on leads who are of different, sort of the non-heteronormative, non-stereotypical skinny, white female or strong, tough white male. You’re not just seeing those as the leads. You’re not just seeing these typical type of stories. You’re starting to see the perspectives of other types of folks, of the non-represented, people who haven’t been represented in the past 50 years in filmmaking. So in that sense, that’s beautiful, and it’s great in the film industry because it opens up so many doors and now we can represent those experiences and start to explore those and talk about educating the masses. What I did my master’s thesis on had to do with entertainment based education. I looked at how we could educate people using entertainment, using film and television. Look at what we’re doing now. We’re starting to pull out non-normative experiences… well, what they consider normative… non-normative or considered normative experiences and bringing them out into the light. That’s how we educate the masses in this day and age, so I think it’s great.

TrunkSpace: And while it’s exciting to see it happening now, the real impact will probably be felt in the work of the filmmakers of the future who gr0w up in this particular media age.
Minnich: Oh yeah, I can’t even fathom it. Sometimes I just have to not even imagine things because I don’t even know where that can go. We look at the generations who are younger than us, and we’re like, “Wow, dude, you’re gonna be tapping into stuff that I don’t even conceptualize at this stage.” Just like my parents or your parents who can’t really understand how to set up their Apple TV and they have to call us and have us do it for them – imagine what our kids are going to be doing?

TrunkSpace: It seems the mediums have flipped as well. Earlier generations looked towards film as the true art form, but now it seems like television is becoming that, while film becomes a mostly popcorn-driven media.
Minnich: The demand for content is so insane. The whole concept of binge watching was not around 10 years ago. That was not around 20 years ago. And so now all of a sudden there’s a demand for content, but not only that, there’s a demand for good content. So like I was saying, Netflix is rising to the occasion. That’s just going to continue to move forward. I think the whole TV concept, the episodic concept, people like that because then they have something to look forward to. They’re like, “Oh okay, I watched this episode, and now I can sort of mull this over in my mind for the next week until the next one comes out.” I think for some reason, that’s really attractive to people. They like to have stuff to sort of chew on during their work week.

TrunkSpace: When you look back at your career thus far, what was the turning point for you in terms of more doors opening and more opportunities presenting themselves?
Minnich: I think it might have been “Better Call Saul.” I don’t have a massive role on “Better Call Saul,” I have a recurring small role, but there is something to be said about having a show like that on your resume. So that got doors opened for me that would not have been opened. It’s like this trickle effect – one big thing, which really isn’t that big in terms of what you’re doing, but it’s a big name, and one big name opens a door for you, and then all of a sudden, you get to do this other thing. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. So, even doing these teeny little things on big movies or big television sets have opened doors so that finally I’m doing supporting roles, and finally I’m reading for lead roles. In the past 12 months, I’m finally auditioning for lead roles, which is like, “Hallelujah!” So, I can’t pinpoint an exact turning point for you, but I can say that one thing has led to another in a very step-by-step kind of way.

Season 1 of “Godless” is available now on Netflix.

Waco” premieres January 24 on Paramount Network.

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Wingman Wednesday

Elisa Perry

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Photo By: Marc Cartwright

For fans of the western, the new Netflix series “Godless” is the greatest gift they could have received for the holidays. Gritty and gutsy, the seven-episode season plays out like an epic film that you can’t quite look away from, which is ideal for all of those who fancy an episodic binge.

And if “Godless” is the gift you unwrap for yourself this year, series star Elisa Perry, who also recently appeared in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” is the reward waiting for you inside. As Hobbs family matriarch June, the Pennsylvania native brings a strong and memorable character to the forefront, but does so with a soft touch – a delicate walk that she delivers brilliantly.

We recently sat down with Perry to discuss why “Godless” is so innovative, the most exciting aspect of getting involved in the project, and what she’s always marathoning via TV Land.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “Godless” is generating a lot of great buzz. In this particular day and age, especially given the way that people consume content, is there any better platform to be involved with than Netflix?
Perry: Listen, pretty much most of the stuff I watch is on Netflix, so it’s great that I’ll be able to watch something that I’m in on Netflix. (Laughter) They just have such original, such creative, no holds barred programming. “Godless” is a western, but it’s quite innovative. To be perfectly honest, it’s quite innovative from the perspective of women being such kick ass, gun toting cowgirls. It’s an exciting project to be a part of.

TrunkSpace: In a lot of ways it plays more like a film than a television series.
Perry: And I have to say, the way Scott (Frank) directed it, and his writing, it felt much more like a film. I kind of think that’s what he wanted, because he’s a screenwriter, and I think that’s his wheelhouse. It felt very much like that. And it looks like that.

TrunkSpace: For those who have yet to jump on their horse and binge the series, can you tell us about your character June and what her overall journey is?
Perry: June is the matriarch of the Hobbs family. It’s a family that migrated to Santa Fe. Her brother and her husband, they were former Buffalo Soldiers. Her brother, played by the amazing Rob Morgan, he’s pretty well-known for being this kick ass soldier who has a pretty big reputation, especially for that time. That’s something huge. June, being the matriarch of the family, is the person who kind of keeps it together, and sort of keeps her husband, Elias, who can kind of get a little caught up at times… she really works hard at keeping him levelheaded.

She’s a loving mother – she loves her children. She understands her daughter, played by Jessica Sula, very well with the feelings that she has for one of the young men in the town. She’s a pretty strong woman, but a very religious woman. Pretty much everything with her comes from a place of love, but when she has to be strong and she needs to pick up a gun, she will.

TrunkSpace: What did June offer you in terms of character traits that you have yet to tackle onscreen before? Was there something in her personality that you were particularly excited to dive into?
Perry: You know what, the biggest thing for me was the fact that it was a period piece – that it was a western. I love period pieces. I had so badly been wanting to sink my teeth into something that was historical. To play someone like June… listen, I’m an actress, but probably unlike most people, I get excited when they say, “Little or no makeup” because right when they say, “Little or no makeup,” what that says to me is, “Oh my goodness, there’s a lot of places I can go with this,” and that, “I won’t feel like I’m wearing a mask.” Even in the audition they specifically said, “Look as close to the period as possible.” I immediately got excited, because I was like, “Okay, this sounds like something that I can really sink my teeth into.”

For me as an actress, I had never done anything that far, and I had definitely never done a western. I had never been to Santa Fe. So everything about it was attractive to me. I just felt it, even going into the audition, emotionally. I was immediately emotionally connected to who she was and what I needed to bring to her. What I knew for me was the foundation of who she was, was someone who definitely came from a place of love and caring, but had a very grounded sense of strength about her.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working in a period piece, do you approach performance differently? Even though it’s grounded in reality, people presented themselves differently during different periods if history. Is that something you needed to consider when you’re taking on someone like June?
Perry: Yes. One of the things I definitely had to remind myself of was, my modern day feminism. She’s the woman of the house, but at the end of the day, her husband is in charge of that house. He is in the “man in charge.” There’s a moment in one of the episodes where she just has to really back off and let him be the father that he is. As painful as it is, once again, for that time, you had to know your place, at least this type of woman. She never goes to bars. She’s a woman who makes all of their own clothes. They grow their own food.

There were moments where I had to remind myself, in the process of preparing myself to play June, that, “This is not what Elisa would do. This is not how Elisa would handle it. This is how June would handle it, based on June’s journey as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, and as a daughter.”

Perry in Godless. Image courtesy of Netflix.

TrunkSpace: So in a way, it’s not only being true to the character, but being true to the time period as well?
Perry: Exactly. For me as an actor, those are very important. I’m one of those people who… I can get caught up. I can watch a movie and I’ll look and see where someone is supposed to be such and such a character. If they’re poor or they’re destitute, I’ll look and see, “But your eyebrows are waxed.” Not that that’s wrong, but for me, I’m just more detailed in that way. Even with my hair, as a black actress in this business – and this is a black woman period – our hair is always an issue. So, I really worked with the woman in charge of hair ahead of time, researching how my hair would be. I was like, “Just don’t give me some kinky, curly wig.” I wanted to be as true as possible because detail is very, very important. I wanted to connect as close as possible to everything that’s happening.

TrunkSpace: It’s like if you were playing someone who was deemed the “villain” of a story. You have to approach it as the villain would… what their motivation is… so that you can understand why they’re making the choices they are making?
Perry: Exactly! And why is that? Because there are moments when I’m able to merge how Elisa would handle it versus how the character would handle it, but the key is that it makes sense for me, as an actor, in that moment.

There’s a scene in “Godless” where we meet Jeff Daniels and his crew, and when you see it it’s like, “Oh God, why would that happen?” Even preparing for that I had to, once again, take myself on that journey of, “This is not an Elisa choice, this is a June choice.” Back then people could just show up at your house and you would offer them water, and you would invite them in and offer them food. Now, it’s like, listen, you don’t even let friends in who haven’t called. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) If someone knocks on the door you’re not expecting, the move is to shut off the lights and pretend you’re not home.
Perry: (Laughter) Exactly! You’re like, “Are you expecting anybody? I’m not.”

I live in a building that’s pretty secure, which makes me even more nervous if someone is knocking on the door. It’s like, “How did they get in?”

TrunkSpace: In a lot of ways westerns seem more like a brand than a genre. Those who enjoy a good western will tune in to for a new one, even if they’re unfamiliar with the story. Did it feel like you were going into “Godless” with a bit of an established audience already in place?
Perry: Oh, absolutely! Let me just tell you, I am a huge western fan. I’m the person who watches marathons of “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Big Valley” every day. Now, I might be showing my age right now, but it’s called TV Land. (Laughter) My fiance laughs at me all the time. He’s like, “Okay, here we go…” I’m like, “Listen, you leave ‘The Big Valley’ alone. You better not mess with Audra Barkley!”

Being a woman of color, even with all of these westerns, it’s not that often that you see us in that time. For me, it was really exciting to be a part of this project where it was, “Wow, there we are! We’re right there. We did exist then, and we weren’t slaves. We weren’t working someone’s field. We’re a family, the Hobbs family. We have our own home. We have land. We’re known in the community.” That in itself… I think Scott Frank just really nailed it.

Season 1 of “Godless” is available now on Netflix.

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Chilling Out

Lowell Dean

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Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re talking with Lowell Dean, the brainchild behind everyone’s favorite lycanthropic authority figure, WolfCop. The writer and director of the popular horror/comedy mashup recently premiered the latest film in the franchise, “Another WolfCop,” at select theaters and is currently preparing to launch the sequel wide on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital home entertainment in 2018.

We recently sat down with Dean to discuss why he creatively felt the need to howl at the werewolf moon, the importance in finding the right tone, and how he worked on improving upon the original film.

 

TrunkSpace: When you first set out to make the original “WolfCop,” what was the intention? Were you setting out to produce a film that would be a calling card for your career as a writer/director? Were you looking to create a film that you yourself would sit in the audience of? What was the personal aspect of your creative mission?
Dean: I created “WolfCop” because it was something I wanted to see, that was my only real agenda. It was something I didn’t feel existed in the market at that time and I knew that if audiences wanted to see it half as bad as I did, we had a shot at something good. When I first wrote it, the main werewolf presence in cinema was “Twilight,” and I really wanted to “take back” the wolf-man to the look of a man in a suit, practical effects type of film. I wanted to get away from the CGI animal on all fours look. Basically, I wanted a modern (but more drunk) version of “Teen Wolf” or the Universal “Wolf Man.”

TrunkSpace: Having a film connect with an audience can be a bit like catching lightening in a bottle. You can never tell what will resonate and what will not. With that being said, when you were making the first “WolfCop,” did it have the feeling of a film that would find an audience and ultimately, give birth to a sequel?
Dean: I had no idea. I certainly hoped it would resonate, but I was half expecting it to be ignored or hated outright because of the goofy title. I was worried people would think it was a serious film just done poorly, despite the title. That’s why I love the title and was adamant to use it – it lets audiences know right from the top what to expect and that it is okay to have fun with it.

TrunkSpace: When you’re finished with a film and releasing it to the world, what emotions do you wrestle with? Is it both exciting and terrifying at the same time?
Dean: It is like a breakup, in a way. You just have to let go. Up until that point if a film is done, you are in a battle to make it as good as possible, but once it is done and out in the world you just have to move on and try to find inspiration elsewhere. I was less worried about audience reaction with the sequel because we have a built in fanbase. I knew that fans of “WolfCop” would hopefully like it because we worked very hard to build on the experience of the first one and take things up a notch. That said, you never know for sure!

TrunkSpace: The horror/comedy mashup is a genre that can swing and miss badly when the tone is off even a little. How important was it to you to find (and strike) the balance between the two genres without going too far off in one direction?
Dean: Tone is everything. I think it is the most important part of a director’s job in the horror/comedy genre. It is a big challenge and to be honest, you just have to go with your gut most times and consider yourself the first audience member. I’ve been told often that the horror/comedy genre should be avoided but I can’t help it, I love the genre! When it is done right it is absolute bliss. I say this both as a filmmaker and an audience member.

TrunkSpace: Artists often have a damned-if-they-do/damned-if-they-don’t battle when it comes to following up a success. If you travel too far away from what made the first one so popular, you risk losing the fandom you built. If you remain too close to the original, you risk being called out for not growing and building on the original. As a filmmaker, is that something you thought about when putting together “Another WolfCop,” and if so, how did you tackle that creatively?
Dean: I had two big goals with the sequel. Number one was don’t just retell the first story, which I feel is a trap many sequels get into. I really wanted to do something new. My number 2 goal was to amp up the crazy and take the madness (practical effects, violence, comedy, action) to the next level. I honestly believe that within our parameters of budget and time, the whole team pushed really hard to make something both unique and twisted. It wasn’t easy!

Dean on set.

TrunkSpace: We read that you felt the makeup was “worlds above” the first film and that in terms of effects, the quantity greatly surpasses what you put in the original “WolfCop.” Did that place more pressure on you as a director from a technical standpoint?
Dean: I feel like every team member who carried over from the first film felt a huge desire to do better with the sequel. We saw it as an opportunity to improve upon our work. Emersen Ziffle, the makeup FX artist, was overjoyed he could redo the makeup with all he had learned in the interim. I was overjoyed to have a chance to make a crazier film with more action since, there wasn’t much in the first film. I felt a lot of pressure to make the sequel better, but most of it was self-imposed.

TrunkSpace: When you look back at both films, what are you most proud of?
Dean: If anything, “WolfCop” 1 and 2 are personal validation that there is an audience for my weird ideas. That’s my take away! “WolfCop” was my first film as a writer/director, and prior to that I wasn’t really sure audiences would connect with my sense of humor. I made a lot of short films prior, but people often told me that I was weird… or my films were weird… so I was nervous it would be hard to do something with mass appeal. Turns out there’s a lot of weird people out there!

TrunkSpace: It seems that anything horror related tends to have a longer shelf life than most other films. It also seems like most fans of horror as a genre are more willing to try something new than perhaps a general mass market moviegoer. As someone who has worked within the genre, do you find that to be the case?
Dean: All I know is genre fans, horror fans specifically, are rabid and inclusive. They are a wonderful bunch. At every convention or screening I attend, horror movie fans are some of the sweetest, most passionate people you could hope to meet. It is part of the reason I wanted to get into genre filmmaking in the first place. I mean, tell me the last time you went to a romantic comedy convention!

TrunkSpace: The “WolfCop” franchise has such a specific tone and artistic point of view. Tonally, is this a sandbox that you see yourself continuing to play in as a filmmaker, or do you envision a creative departure in the future?
Dean: I love the sandbox of horror/comedy and the tone we strike in the “WolfCop” films. That said, I don’t want to only make “WolfCop” films. I want to try a bit of everything. That is the joy of being a writer and director, you get to try new things. I want to make dramas, action films, comedies, thrillers… I want to do it all!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of future, what’s next for you? What can fans of your work look for in 2018 and beyond?
Dean: I’m currently in post production on “SuperGrid,” a post apocalypse action film about two brothers on a dangerous cargo run. Hopefully it will be out by next summer. Beyond that, I’m just writing new scripts and looking for new directing jobs!

Another WolfCop” roars onto Blu-ray, DVD, and digital home entertainment in 2018.

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Next Up

Grayson Hodgkiss

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Name: Grayson Hodgkiss

Hometown: Downers Grove, IL/Atlanta, GA

Current Location: San Diego, CA/Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Hodgkiss: I started to become interested in pursuing acting as a career my junior year in high school. I realized my love for performing and being in front of large crowds through dance competitions, musicals, plays, choir concerts, and through public appearances as Miss Illinois Teen USA. Yes, I was momentarily a pageant queen. I decided to sign with a local agency in Chicago, Hinsdale Talent Boutique, and they helped open the doors to new auditions and opportunities in downtown Chicago. This interest in acting has stayed with me throughout college though I was studying Broadcast Journalism when I started my degree at San Diego State University.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Hodgkiss: I am a hopeless romantic so naturally I am drawn to love stories. One play that stuck with me through the years is “Phantom of the Opera.” I love stories including the classic love triangle and/or star-crossed lovers. I also really enjoy singing and still know every word to every song in that musical. As far as film, I do have a special place in my heart for “The Notebook.”

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Hodgkiss: Thankfully I had a lot of help when it comes to approaching my career as an actor. My mom was acting as my “mom-ager” for a while until I was introduced to my wonderful manager. My manager, Chip Altholz, was the first person to introduce me to the basics of this industry. One of the most helpful things we did towards the beginning was to create a five-year plan so we had specific goals we had to reach by the end of each year. The goals helped to keep me focused while I was still pursuing my degree at school. My mom, Chip, and two brothers also flew out to Los Angeles with me to go visit different agencies and eventually find the one that was right for me. I am currently signed with Metropolitan Talent Agency in Los Angeles.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Hodgkiss: The first time I moved away from home was when I was 17 years old and beginning my freshman year at SDSU. I decided to move 2,000 miles away from home and start a new life out in California. I figured if this truly was the industry I wanted to be a part of, then I needed to be where all the action was happening. My junior year in college I decided to take some time off from school and move to LA to see if this was something that was even possible. I guess you could say I jumped right into the frying pan, but I was never going to know if I could do it until I tried for myself. I am very thankful to have such a great support system from my family and friends. They have always persuaded me to chase my dreams, no matter how extreme they may be.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Hodgkiss: The initial transition to move away from my family was difficult to say the least. I knew absolutely no one when I moved to California, and was forced out of my comfort zone from the very beginning. It took a few months before I started to feel at ease and then by the end of my first year I started making San Diego my home. As far as the move to LA, it was very lonely in the beginning too. I found myself reaching out to friends and family for comfort constantly. I got hired at a new restaurant called Delilah in West Hollywood after a month, and quickly assimilated into the LA lifestyle. I was taking two different acting classes while there and felt myself maturing and improving my acting abilities within a short amount of time. Los Angeles is no joke. You can feel the competition radiating off of the people around you at auditions. I knew if I wanted to have any success in this industry I was going to have to rise to the occasion and meet my competitors with just as much motivation and ability. It was exhilarating.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Hodgkiss: I think the biggest role that I have landed so far has been an independent film that had a destination shoot. I had a friend, whom I worked on another project with, reach out to me and ask me to audition for a role that I ended up landing. The film was set in Slab City, CA, which is in the middle of the desert out by Coachella Valley. I had never done something like this before and it is a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. I do still feel like I am waiting for my big break and am excited to see what is in store.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Hodgkiss: I would really like to take on either the romantic lead in a film or television show, or a lead role in a comedy because I have become very comfortable with these types of characters. I think I feel very at home when it comes to comedy because I am a very optimistic and light-hearted person. For a more challenging role, I would love to take on an intense dramatic role that involves some sort of transformation from me.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Hodgkiss: I think one of the best strengths an actor can have is perseverance and a hunger to learn. I find that I am constantly watching the people and world around me to try and soak up as much information as I can. This becomes so useful when you are asked to draw upon past experiences or try and inhabit a certain behavior. Even if you have never experienced it yourself, you have seen someone else do it and can apply that knowledge. This business is a numbers game and you have to be willing to keep auditioning, no matter how many “no’s” you have received in the past.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Hodgkiss: My ultimate dream would be to star in at least a handful of successful movies and television shows, and I would like those projects to have an exotic set location. The travel bug has definitely bitten me, and if I were able to combine my love for traveling with my love for acting, I would be immensely happy. I want to be proud of the work I have helped produce and have no issues showing my loved ones the projects I have been involved in. If I end up winning an award for my work in the future that would also be wonderful. I want to lead somewhat of a normal life as well. I plan on then using my voice in society to elicit positive change in the world. I have always had a big heart for those in need and would love to use my influence for good.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Hodgkiss: I feel like the best piece of advice I can give to young actors is to maintain a positive attitude and keep auditioning. I have been told time and time again that this is a numbers game above all else, and I cannot stress to you how right these people are. It is insanely frustrating at times, but you have to find a way to love the entire experience. You have to love the adrenaline rush before and during auditions, enjoy memorizing lines and taking on new personas, and dedicate countless hours to prepare yourself for a role.

Another very important piece of advice that I could give is to learn exactly who you are and what makes you unique. You need to understand exactly what motivates you, what angers you, what things you love, and what things you hate. Only then are you truly able to shed yourself and inhabit the shell of another character. I also think it is vital to surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and never stop believing in you. It can be so easy to get down on yourself after a rough audition or performance, but the key is to brush it off and move on. It is so much easier said than done, but you will lose your sanity any other way.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Hodgkiss: People can learn more about me by logging on to my website, IMDb, and/or following me on different social media platforms!
IMDb
Website
Instagram
Facebook

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Wingman Wednesday

Robert Craighead

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We’re living in the present while embracing the future… “Future Man” that is.

Our favorite new janitor-turned-action-hero sci-fi laugh fest is continuing to draw viewers in with its unique POV since first premiering on Hulu in November. Robert Craighead plays Detective Vincent Skarsgaard in the streamable series, and in doing so, delivers a charismatic performance that helps to round out the distinctive comedic world that “Future Man” resides in.

We recently sat down with Craighead to discuss the most exciting aspect of the character, how he felt he was the perfect fit to play Skarsgaard, and the reason why he tends to be cast in authoritative roles.

TrunkSpace:Future Man” is a unique cup of content tea. There’s certainly nothing else like it out there right now. When you’re starring in something that has such a specific tone, does it allow you to take a different approach towards your performance, either in finding the character at the outset or through the work itself?
Craighead: Fist of all I am a huge fan of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as well as the writing team of Ariel Shaffir and Kyle Hunter. I loved “Sausage Party” and “This Is The End” I have seen a hundred times, not to mention all their other films! So, I already had a feel for the style of humor that was called for in this production. When I read the first script for my character it seemed like it was such a perfect fit for me that I fell in love with Skarsgaard immediately and relished bringing him to life.

TrunkSpace: How did the project first come into your life and could you see the vision for what it would end up becoming it those early days? Was that reflective in the scripts and rehearsals?
Craighead: When I first met with the team of Dorian Frankel and Sibby Kirhgessner Casting, we had so much fun playing with the character and putting it on tape for the producers and the network that I felt I had pretty much captured the essence they wanted for Skarsgaard. I was originally slated for two episodes but as we were filming and having fun developing him, Ariel and Kyle just kept coming up with more and more ideas and storylines for Skarsgaard. I was thrilled to be extended to six episodes and they were open to my suggestions as well as my off-the-wall humor. (I guess we were just in sync.)

TrunkSpace: For those who have yet to binge their way through Season 1, can you tell us about Detective Skarsgaard and what his journey is? In addition to that, what was it about the character that you were most excited to sink your teeth into?
Craighead: The way I see it, Detective Skarsgaard is a cross between Nick Nolte’s Detective Cates in “48 Hrs.” and Stacy Keach’s Sergeant Stedenko in “Up In Smoke.” A hard nose cop who is like a dog with a bone, he is set on getting his man and will go through hell or high water to get him. I think for me the most exciting aspect of the character’s journey was his loyalty to his partner and the guilt he carried over his death. Finding the humor in that and consistently driving that point and keeping it funny was a challenge in itself, but I was given such great catchphrases by the writers it helped in keeping Skarsgaard fresh and original, albeit somewhat clichè.

TrunkSpace: You started acting professionally long before streaming platforms became a viable distribution option. Has the way in which people consume content via these options, such as the case with “Future Man,” changed the experience for you as an actor? Does acting feel different in 2017 than it did in 1997?
Craighead: Yes, I have been around awhile, I guess. (Laughter) When I first started, there were only three networks and movies were only shot on film. However, I love all of the opportunities that are available for everyone in the film and television business today. There are so many more platforms for young actors and filmmakers to be able to hone their craft and develop an audience without relying on the big studio projects to get them there. As far as this changing my experience as an actor, does it feel different? No, not at all. The process is still the same and I am grateful there are so many more options available today for me as an actor.

TrunkSpace: In “New Girl” you played Sergeant Clarke. In “Too Close to Home” it was Sheriff Mobley. And now in “Future Man” it’s Detective Vincent Skarsgaard. Why do you think you have been cast as so many authoritative figures? Do you think it is at all reflective of who you are or how people view you?
Craighead: Well, I guess I have to attribute that to the way people view me on first impression. I have a very distinguishable voice and my body language seems to exude confidence and authority. However, I also play a lot of abusive assholes and despicable characters as well – for example, in the soon to be released western feature film “Painted Woman” I play kind of a Harvey Weinstein of the 1890’s.

Craighead with Derek Wilson on the set of “Future Man”

TrunkSpace: Another throughline we noticed in looking at your overall body of work is that you have appeared in a number of horror films, dating all the way back to the early days of your career with “Cujo” and “Return of the Living Dead.” Is horror a genre that you feel comfortable performing in and do you feel like it is a genre that comes with a built-in audience? From an outside perspective it feels like horror fans are willing to try out new material more willingly than general movie-going audiences.
Craighead: Yes, I have done a few films of the horror genre, but usually ones with a comedic tone or tongue in cheek. Horror fans are amazing – they are extremely loyal and remember every detail of every character including dialogue if they really like a movie. Also, even if you haven’t done a horror film for years, they will still be thrilled to see you again and welcome you with open arms.

TrunkSpace: You’ve played dozens upon dozens of characters over the years, both on camera and on the stage. Is there a particular character who has stuck with you throughout your career that you wish you had more time to explore?
Craighead: Recently I completed two seasons as a series regular on Tyler Perry’s “Too Close To Home” as Sheriff Mobley, kind of an incompetent law enforcement of a small town in Alabama. We were just starting to get into some different levels of the character that made me excited to imagine where we might go with him. He was kind of a know-it-all but also a town flirt with the ladies and brought in some comic relief for the show, but I could also see the possibilities of some dirty dealings going on for him with some bad guys coming up. So I was very disappointed when the show was not picked up for a third season. It left some stories untold.

TrunkSpace: You’ve also been pursuing country music, recording and releasing a number of songs and recently performing live to a sold out crowd. Is your singer/songwriter focus one that you see as a second career path or is music a hobby that you just can’t stay away from?
Craighead: I started performing country music about four years ago because I was doing a world premiere musical on stage with a live band and people encouraged me to give it a shot. It’s always been a love of mine and I have always sang for fun with family and friends, but this show really hooked me. It was about country music and songwriters and featured 17 of country music legend Paul Overstreet’s hit songs. Paul and I became good friends and one day he said, “Let’s record some songs.” So I went to Nashville, we went into a recording studio, and we did! Although, acting is and always will be my greatest passion, I gotta admit, I sure do enjoy playing “country star” every now and then. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Has the love for music always been a part of who you are? When did you pick up your first instrument and did someone in your life serve as a catalyst for inspiring that level of interest in you?
Craighead: I have always been a fan of music in any form , rock ‘n’ roll, classical, jazz, but country music, possibly because of my Texas upbringing, has always held my heart.

TrunkSpace: In addition to acting and music, you have also written a feature film called “Catch a Fallen Star,” which is currently in pre-production. Can you tell us about the project and what the journey has been like to bring it to life?
Craighead: This is a story I have had running through my head for about 15 to 20 years and finally sat down and put it to paper last year. I was inspired to get it done while working with Paul Overstreet, because it is about a country music singer songwriter. It’s a story about a man who has the world by the tail and then loses everything including his family, and after 25 years in prison, struggles to rebuild a relationship with a son whom he has never known. Paul has agreed to write the songs for the movie and we’ve already laid the tracks for a couple of them.

TrunkSpace: You seem to continue to pump diversity into your career, both in the characters you take on and in the overall work you do. How important to you is it to continue to diversify your creative output moving forward?
Craighead: I think that may just happen naturally – it’s not something I deliberately set out to do but subconsciously I think we all look to find diversity in our lives. I would like to continue to find interesting characters to play and also move more into producing and writing my own projects as well. So in that aspect, yes, I guess it is important to me.

TrunkSpace: You’ve accomplished and taken on so much in your career so far, but is there anything that you’d still like to tackle? What are some of your bucket list items that you’d like to check off?
Craighead: Ooooh, my bucket list is long! A few of the things I would like to accomplish though are at some point soon being able to have my production company move into producing and creating our own movies and television shows as well as writing and recording more country music.

Season 1 of “Future Man” is available now on Hulu.

Check our our exclusive interview with Derek Wilson of “Future Man” here.

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Musical Mondaze

Safeguard

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With their latest EP “I’m a Stranger to Myself” just released to the masses, UK-based Safeguard, a pop-punk quintet who played their first show only a little more than a year go, is quickly creating buzz amongst fans of their catchy, angst-ridden sound. While their single “November” is continuing to build steam, the band is looking to the future, hoping recent successes are just a precursor to a new year filled with new opportunities.

We recently sat down with bass player Zak Lonsdale to discuss the band’s growth, their plan of attack, and why he’d like to hear lots of shouting on the next record.

TrunkSpace: The band’s new EP “I’m a Stranger to Myself” landed a few days ago through Wilhelm Records. Your previous EP was self released, did having a label change the process or experience at all for you guys?
Lonsdale: I think to an extent it did, yeah. Obviously with the first EP, as soon as we recorded we were like, “Right, that’s ready to go, let’s put everything out there.” All the buildups were done by ourselves. Then with this one, we were able to take a step back and just be more concise with things, and think about how we advertise and how we release things.

I think Dylan (Frederick) has definitely helped to realize our potential and has helped us with decisions that we probably might not have made, had we not had him.

TrunkSpace: Does a part of that just mean that you’re able to focus on the creative and not have to worry about all of the stuff that stretches beyond that?
Lonsdale: Definitely, yeah. It was just us five recording the first EP, then when it came to releasing, our guitarist stepped out because he was going to do personal things in his life. We had to worry about finding a new guitarist, teaching him everything, and then doing all the promotion and booking shows, and all that. Now Dylan’s able to come in and just book stuff for us and get in touch with people. I personally feel a lot more relaxed and I can just sit back sometimes and watch it all unfold in front of me.

TrunkSpace: The band is from the UK. The label is here in the States. How did the connection originally come about?
Lonsdale: When we recorded this EP, we wanted to make something of ourselves, and we definitely thought the best way to do that would be to sign to a label. We started doing a lot of research, spent a lot of time looking at different record labels, from the huge ones like Hopeless Records and Fearless Records, to the newly established ones. Then when we came across Wilhelm, we realized that although they’ve had a massive impact on the music scene since they’ve been established, we also noticed that they haven’t signed every band they possibly could, and that they only signed the bands that they think have potential. We were like, “That’s the kind of label we want, one that will push us to be our absolute best all the time.”

Dylan is absolutely amazing. He’s just done so much for us already, and the past two months have been an absolute whirlwind. It feels like it’s absolutely flown by. I just know that it’s gonna get so much better for us the next year also.

TrunkSpace: There was a time when every band or musician wanted to break out here in the United States. With the way that the consumption of music has changed, is it still important for artists outside of the States to find their footing here?
Lonsdale: I think as much as we like to think we’ve broken the UK, in a sense, we’re definitely steps away from selling out every show we play, and being able to go wherever we want and having fans. But now that we’ve got those connections in America, and we’re able to put our music out to the people over there, it’s definitely a bigger chance for us to say, “Hey, the music’s out over there if you like it,” and then if people are interested in us going over there, then it’s something we consider doing. I know a lot of us have always wanted to go to America and play shows, and it seems like the genre of music that we play, it’s a lot more prominent in the US – people care about it a lot more. In the UK it’s quite the opposite, so it’s very hard to break out over here.

TrunkSpace: As a band who writes and performs music that would fall into the Warped Tour stable of artists, how did you guys take the news of its retiring?
Lonsdale: It was absolutely devastating. When we read about that… it was something that we had on our bucket list that we thought was very realistic, and to read something like that, it was really sad. Obviously the bucket list that we already have, we’ve ticked off so many in the past two months, and to know that there’s one that we might not be able to tick off, it’s quite sad. It’s depressing.

TrunkSpace: You played your first show in October of 2016. Has it felt like a whirlwind since that show?
Lonsdale: Definitely! That first show in October 2016, I can only speak for myself, but I was absolutely dreadful. (Laughter) I’m a self taught musician, so my bass skills aren’t exactly like Geddy Lee – more like Mark Hoppus, the early days. I do backing vocals for the band as well when I can, and my singing has taken a big step up. And yeah, we just seem to be a much tighter unit while writing more complex songs. We’re not finishing a product and going, “Yeah, that’s absolutely perfect, let’s just put it out,” we’re taking a step back and saying, “What can we improve here?”

And we’re trying to write songs that wouldn’t seem out of place on a band like Neck Deep’s discography. We’re trying to write music that you could listen to it and say, “Oh, this could be Safeguard, but it also sounds like State Champs might put it out,” or something like that.

TrunkSpace: When you listen to something like “Harbour” off of the latest EP, it sounds very polished and tight… as if you guys have been performing together for 10 years.
Lonsdale: The first EP, we recorded with our friend in his living room, and it was not professionally mastered. It was mastered by him and it was mixed by him. When we got that, we were like, “Yeah, we’re happy with that, let’s just put it out.” For what we paid for it and how much time we spent doing it, we were more than happy with the result. Then for this EP, we went to Steel City Studio and worked with Drew Lawson, who mixed and recorded Backbone by ROAM – and the quality difference, it’s absolutely amazing. It sounds like we’ve been around a lot longer than we have. I listen back to the EP every single day, just to get my head around it still and make sure I know all the lyrics for shows. (Laughter) Yeah, it’s just mental.

TrunkSpace: Have you guys creatively already moved on from “I’m a Stranger to Myself?” Are you working on material for a new EP or album?
Lonsdale: I think the next step for us might be an album, depending on how well this EP goes down, which in itself is a massive leap. Personally we all don’t really listen to pop-punk that much. I know Declan (Gough) does, who sings – he very much likes pop-punk and that’s his go-to genre. I listen to a lot of hardcore music, like Knocked Loose and Higher Power, the heavier side, and Connor (Dale) and Denholm (Horn), who play drums and guitar, listen to a lot of prog-rock and metal, and stuff like that. I think there’s gonna be an evolution in our sound for sure, but obviously I can’t put a finger on where it’s gonna go.

I’d like to have a record that’s full of shouting and breakdowns, but I just don’t see that happening, to the extent that some bands can. (Laughter)

I’m a Stranger to Myself” is available now on Wilhelm Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Angel Parker

AngelParker_Wingwoman_wednesday
Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

There is an entire generation of pop culture fans who have grown up on Marvel characters being mainstream relevant. Big brand anchors like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor have dominated theaters, owned the toy shelves, and conquered the world of licensed apparel, but a fascinating shift is occurring. Many of the lesser known characters and titles within the Marvel Universe are receiving their own time in the spotlight, from upcoming films based on Black Panther and Captain Marvel, to a television series based on the New Warriors set for a 2018 release. One of the more highly anticipated live action takes on a lesser known group of characters was “Runaways,” which made its debut on the streaming platform Hulu just days before Thanksgiving.

 

 

We recently sat down with series star Angel Parker, who plays Wilder family matriarch Catherine, to discuss the multigenerational appeal of “Runaways,” the big themes tackled throughout Season 1, and how a non-mutant can compete in a mutant-filled world.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “Runaways” made its debut a little over a week ago. As an actor, is there any better universe or ongoing franchise to be involved with right now than with what Marvel is doing on both the big and small screens?
Parker: Yeah, it’s definitely where you want to be right now. Now they have something on almost every platform – film, TV, streaming – it’s incredible the amount of work that’s available that’s challenging and fun and cool and badass.

TrunkSpace: And for the most part, their characters and stories are emotionally grounded in reality, but still have a sense of that heightened reality that allows viewers to escape as well. That must allow you to be able to do things performance-wise that you can’t do in other projects?
Parker: Exactly. You don’t get to deal with a dinosaur in your day to day life or in most shows. (Laughter)

You also don’t get to work with such a huge cast and have so many storylines and to be able to connect to other worlds and other characters. It really is kind of cool that we get to tell this story. I love the fact that it’s on Hulu, basically television, because you get to tell the story and you get to really dive into it. It doesn’t have to fit into a two and a half hour movie. We’ve got 10 hours to play with this first season, so it really is an opportunity for you to learn about all of these families and dive into their world.

There’s six runaways and five families in the pride, plus the leaders of it, so it really is a lot of story that can be told. There are so many different ways that we can go about it. We really dive into it and the history of it in Season 1.

TrunkSpace: Hulu released three episodes out of the gates and then took a more traditional roll out approach with the remaining episodes, debuting one every week thereafter. That seems like a smart plant to hook people and build anticipation for what’s to come.
Parker: It’s very exciting. By Episode 5 (debuting December 5), which is one of our hugest episodes besides the season finale, people are going to be hooked. I think you’ve just got to find the show. If the show is good enough, you’ll find it. That’s kind of the new world of television is, it’s not what network and what time, it’s what show. I’ll find that show wherever it’s at.

TrunkSpace: And with something like “Runaways,” it comes with a built in audience with eyeballs that would find it no matter where it was.
Parker: Yeah, there’s the die hard fans of “Runaways” that are going to be so excited for all the things that we made sure are in our show. There’s going to be a lot of new things that just fans of Marvel in general are going to be excited about, with the special effects and with the action elements and with the diving into the stories and the villains and the good guys versus bad guys. “Are they really good? Are they really bad?” All those elements that are in every Marvel production are in our show. Then there’s just the young audience that is going to dive into young teenage drama and the fighting against their parents that everyone can relate to.

I have an 11-year-old boy and he’s read the comic. He can’t be more excited. All of his friends are excited. He’s in the 7th grade. It’s hard to find a show to watch with your teenagers that you don’t want to shoot your brains out. (Laughter) There’s going to be a lot of parents that are sitting watching this show and going, “This is good.” You see the story of the parents and the Pride and the sacrifices or the compromises that they’ve made that got them into this situation where they are sacrificing humans and are pitted against their own children and having to make decisions on who lives and who dies. Those are big, big themes. Then, just because Marvel’s got its paintbrush on it, we’re going to look cool the whole time and say cool things at the right time. (Laughter)

They’ve got some fantastic actors. The adults, the parents, we’ve all been doing this for almost 20 years. We’re all ready for this moment. Really, every actor, you look across the room, especially in big circle scenes of the sacrifice, every character is fully, fully realized and has all their thoughts and their opinions about why they’re here in this moment. It’s very fun to play.

The teenagers are just as great. These are not kid actors, these are actors – young actors. They really bring it. It’s not only well acted and well produced, but it’s a show that people are going to want to watch just because you’re going to want to understand the twists and turns and dive into the universe. “Where does it connect? How does it connect?”

Then there’s tons of little Easter eggs for the die hard fans just to make you jump up and squeal.

Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

TrunkSpace: So much of what we see from Marvel in film and TV in terms of their characters have been around for decades, but what’s nice about “Runaways” is that many of the characters are relatively new in the grand scheme of the universe itself. That in and of itself should make the show more accessible to viewers who may find the history of Marvel kind of creatively daunting?
Parker: I think one of the reasons that the “Runaways” comic was written was for that age gap of a younger audience that was looking for something, but didn’t want it to be over their head or want it to be about things, issues, that relate to their life. You want to see yourself as a protagonist in a lot of things that you read. Kids are going to find that fascinating.

And when I say kids… there are some big themes. There’s a gay character. There’s death. There’s possible suicide. There’s all of these different big themes that are in our show that teenagers are dealing with. It doesn’t talk down to them. That’s the one things that I know about having an almost teenager is, talking down to them is the first way for them to shut down. Kids are smart. Kids figure things out.

To dive into that world and have a hero or maybe not a hero that you’re rooting for, it’s the best part of television. The best part of going into a fantasy world is a world that you could possibly see yourself in or hope to be in or dream and imagine to be in. It’s very cool.

TrunkSpace: In the original comic series, the kids were all offspring of villains. Is your version of Catherine Wilder on a similar villainous path?
Parker: Season 1 is all very much connected to the original source material of “Runaways.” Yes, a lot of them are descendents, but they don’t know. The kids don’t know in the beginning what powers they have or what control they have over outside elements. As an audience, we get to see them discover these elements.

Now, the Wilders don’t have powers. That will have stayed the same. The Wilders lead the group and Alex, who is our lead played by Rhenzy Feliz, he does not have any powers. I think that that makes a great protagonist because you’re like, “What are you going to do in this world when someone next to you is glowing? And another person next to you has a dinosaur. And another person next to you has this special weapon that they can do all these things with.” It’s like, “Okay, what can I do? What do I have?” What they have is their brain and their leadership skills and the qualities of survival. That is also very cool.

To be a non-mutant, if you want to use that word, in a world where people do have powers or special abilities or special strengths, you have to find your own strength and your way to navigate through that world. That’s the exciting thing about following Alex Wilder in this story is, how is he going to fight back? Even when we get to our season finale, it’s like, “What do you bring to the table?” He goes, “I bring this…” Those skills are just what an average human being has, which is their power of negotiation and their power of street smarts, if you could call it that. The Wilders, Geoffrey and Catherine, we have to navigate that world as well and lead it and lead it with other people following us or not following us and being able to come out on top, which is what the Wilders do best.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what was your favorite thing about Catherine and getting to bring her to life?
Parker: She’s very savvy. She’s very sexy. She’s smart. She is a lawyer, which I have played before, but she gets to do it in such a big way. She makes some major decisions that affects people’s lives and has to reconcile that and still go through with it. That was the element of playing a “villain” that was really, really exciting to me. But then down to small elements like the length of her ponytail, which was something that was in the comics and was drawn so beautifully. The tiniest details are added into Catherine Wilder. And then something as large as, she’s leading the Pride and the sacrifices she’s making for her son and risking her life in many ways, those are the dark elements that are directly in line with the comic as well.

It’s also a multifaceted character I get to play. I get to play mom, wife, lawyer, villain, and doing those at the highest level because she’s an excellent wife. She’s an excellent lawyer. She excels at everything that she does. When things start to go wrong in our world, that’s something that Catherine does not do well with. Everything that Catherine touches succeeds. When things start to rapidly go wrong and her son’s life is in danger, you get to see this woman who’s always had her life put together and has been able to handle anything that’s thrown at her all of the sudden is at a loss.

It’s very exciting, the journey that Catherine gets to take from beginning to end.

Parker and Ryan Sands in Runaways. Photo by Paul Sarkis – © 2017 Hulu

TrunkSpace: You starred in “American Crime Story” The People v. O.J. Simpson” last year. When you were shooting that, did you have any idea that it would become the water cooler show that it ultimately became?
Parker: We knew we were making something great. We took a lot of time and care with each of those things. Everyone was very well researched. We’d all watched the trial. We would watch the scene before we shot it. We had read every book written about our character, every book written about the show, and then had experts there at all times. We knew we were making something special. We did not know that the audience would love it so much. We did not know that it would be that water cooler, “I can’t wait for Tuesday night” kind of show or that we would win the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series or that all of those actors would be able to take home the Emmys as well. We did know it was good. We did know we were honoring the story, but we didn’t know the success that it would have.

Also, we didn’t know if people were ready to hear this story again. A lot of people said, “I lived through it. I don’t want to watch it again. Why would I want to watch that story? How are you going to tell that? What’s the truth? Is it just going to be some popcorn story about ultimately these two people losing their lives?” It was about the trial. It was about that shift in culture in Los Angeles and America. Our show started with scenes from the Rodney King beating. I’m glad that that set the tone for where we were as a society for this trial to even take place and for the outcome to be what it was. That surprised us that people were ready for it.

New episodes of “Runaways” arrive each Tuesday at Hulu.

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