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January 2018

Sit and Spin

LPX’s Bolt in the Blue

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Artist: LPX

Album: “Bolt in the Blue”

Reason We’re Cranking It: The electro-pop progression of the EP is like a punk rock party with dancing. You’re walking a “Tightrope” at the start and then bowing down to the “Red Queen” by the end.

What The EP Tells Us About Her: The solo project of Ms Mr’s Lizzy Plapinger has legs that stretch beyond the duo’s existing fan base. The eclectic mix of tracks on “Bolt in the Blue” should appeal to listeners who have yet to find themselves already enamored by the London-born singer/songwriter. It’s artistic diversifying at its best.

Track Stuck On Repeat: “Tremble” builds into a fist-pumping anthem, delivering on a chorus that picks you up when you’re down, just as Plapinger reflects in the lyrics of the song.

Coming To A City Near You: Check back for LPX tour dates here.

And that means…

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Trunk Gaming

Game Review: Run Sausage Run!

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Game Title: Run Sausage Run!

Platforms: IOS, Android

Price: FREE

App Version: 1.4.0

On the “Run Sausage Run” app page, Crazy Labs has a perfect pun that really sums up their new game.

You never sausage a sausage! (Get it? Saw such…a sausage? Anyone?)

Truer words were never written when it comes to this game! I mean, when you have an opportunity to play as a zombie sausage, ninja sausage or even what looks to be a rather orange and presidential sausage, you can honestly say, “I never saw such a sausage!” Grab your favorite condiments and phone or tablet, because we’re getting saucy with our latest edition of Trunk Gaming.

First of all, Crazy Labs is bringing this game to you for FREE! Heck of a deal, right? (There are options for in-app purchases if you would like to support these entrepreneurs further, and get some of the funniest add-ons known to any app.) Gameplay is super simple, so you catch on right away. You just tap the screen and your sausage starts to walk forward. The more you push and hold your screen the faster the sausage runs and bends backwards from the g-force. This is important, because you’re going to want to bend backwards to duck the buzz-saws, or you may need to slow up to avoid the meat tenderizer mallet crushing you. While you’re running your casing off, you also are tasked to grab star coins along the way. You can use these to unlock fun sausage skins (or casings if you will), like our favorite, the ZOMBIE SAUSAGE! There are power-ups you can grab along the way like the snowflake that freezes all the obstacles for a short time or the green arrow that shrinks you down to help with avoiding getting sliced in two. If you’re up for more of a challenge than just surviving a barrage of deadly obstacles, they offer plenty of goals for you to achieve. If you’re a completist, like our gaming team, you’re all in for these.

Visually, “Run Sausage Run” is just as fun and comical as the idea behind the game. The animation is fluid and smooth while maintaining a solid amount of detail. The way the sausages bend backward and run is reminiscent of Stimpy (of “The Ren & Stimpy Show” fame) or a classic rubbery cartoon character. The musical score is just as catchy and fitting as the visuals of the game. It’s a whimsical, upbeat a capella sound mixed with a cartoon musical vibe. You just have to hear it, but be warned… this tune will stick in your brain like the theme to your favorite TV show.

While this game is incredibly addictive, and you will want to best your best score with each outing, it’s fun to just see what happens when your sausage meets a buzz saw or gas burner. In fact, Crazy Labs encourages you to experience torturing your sausage by having goals like, “Die 9 times at the guillotine” or “Die twice as a zombie sausage.” That kind of whimsy the game possesses makes this the sort of addictive game you laugh at and share with friends. Not like Candy Crush, where you want to crush your phone because you can’t get that last colorful game piece to line up just right in four moves.

Run Sausage Run” is a total blast to play, and it’s free, so really no excuse not to give it a try unless you hate fun… or have something against torturing sausages. There is some animated blood/cartoony violence, so they recommend this at age 12 and up. If you’re like us, though…you’re going to have a hard time sharing your phone or tablet, because YOU are going to want to play this all the time instead of the kiddos. They need to get their homework done anyway, right?

The Trunk Gamers had a blast with this app, and we can’t wait to see what crazy concoctions come next from Crazy Labs!

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Wingman Wednesday

Hiro Kanagawa

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

While we used to look forward to “tentpole” films rolling into our local cineplexes every summer, now we can see the same production quality, marque names, and multi-layered world building appearing on our televisions every night, holding up the pop culture tent with poles steeped in rich, complex storytelling. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a new, highly-anticipated series premieres every week, and for those of us addicted to the binge, it’s a great time to consume.

The new Netflix sci-fi thrillfest “Altered Carbon” is the kind of show that not only has us excited, but it could very well usher in a new dawn of big-budgeted event series. Adapting a project like this, based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, for anywhere other than a movie theater would have been completely unheard of even a decade ago. The cost alone to bring the futuristic, effects-filled story to life would have scared off every executive from network to cable, but now it seems, much like the technology that makes a show like this possible, the sky is the limit.

We recently sat down with “Altered Carbon” star and one of our favorite character actors Hiro Kanagawa to discuss how he brings his memorable characters to life, why the series could be a game changer for the industry, and the rock ‘n’ roll dream that still pecks away at him.

TrunkSpace: First thing’s first…we love us some you! Your work is always so rich in character and the choices you make with those characters are extremely memorable. What is your approach to tapping into a new character and making him your own?
Kanagawa: Thanks for the kind words. Acting is an ephemeral activity, even when captured on film, so it’s great to know that some of what I do is memorable. Creating these characters really depends on the circumstance, the style and content of the script, the people around you, the specifics of the character. When I was starting out I was coming from a bit of an arty physical theater background, so I tended to work outside-in: find the voice, find the walk, find the way this guy carries himself. But in film and TV, less is more – you really have to internalize things and work inside-out because something as small as a sideways glance or an arched eyebrow can be a big, big move. Also, everybody you’re working with is coming at things from different methods and training techniques and traditions, so I’ve found the most reliable thing to do as an actor is BE IN RELATIONSHIP with your other actors and your environment. I hope audiences appreciate my work as Captain Tanaka on “Altered Carbon.” I’m proud of it, and a lot of it comes out of being in relationship with Martha Higareda’s character, Ortega.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re set to star as Captain Tanaka in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.” By any standards it seems like an extremely ambitious project, but by television/streaming standards, it feels like it could be the kind of project that forces others to rethink the way that they’re doing things. As you were working on the series, did it have the feel of something that could be groundbreaking within the industry itself?
Kanagawa: Absolutely. And it’s more than blind ambition, there’s a desire, an aspiration to make something really good. I could tell everybody on this project from the top down were dedicated to getting things right. I go into my first wardrobe fitting and a few days later I have another one because they’ve re-thought things. And then another one. I walk on set on my first day and my first reaction is, “Wow.” Same thing the next day when I see another set. And so on. I get called in to rehearse on a Saturday and with input from all of us actors, the scene gets rewritten. There’s creative energy. Everybody’s involved and engaged. Nobody was mailing it in on this one.

TrunkSpace: At this point, millions of people have already viewed the trailer online and the buzz continues to build around the series. As an actor performing within a show that is generating that kind of pop culture interest, does it place you in a position to put expectations on how it will be received and accepted, and in a way, alter your life/career in the process?
Kanagawa: I do have expectations that it will be well-received. I’ve seen bits and pieces and everything I’ve seen excites me. I’ve read the scripts, of course, and being a writer myself, I have nothing but admiration for the writing. I am aware that my work here as Captain Tanaka will probably get a lot of eyeballs and I’m happy about that because I feel good about it. If this creates more opportunities for me in the future, I’m ready. Bring it on.

TrunkSpace: For those who have never read the Richard Morgan novel, can you tell us a bit about Captain Tanaka and what his journey is throughout the course of the series? What did he offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle in a project before?
Kanagawa: The series is in the same universe and follows the same general trajectory as the first book, but it’s a major expansion of that universe. Captain Tanaka, in fact, does not appear in the novel. What I can tell you is that Tanaka is a deeply-conflicted and compromised police captain tasked with keeping law and order in a world run by an ultra-powerful elite. He’s a good man in a bad world and he can either keep his head down and do as he’s told, or he can do the right thing. As an actor, you live for characters who are conflicted in this way.

TrunkSpace: From one talked about project to the next, you’re also working on “Snowpiercer” for TNT, a series based on Bong Joon Ho’s popular 2013 film. Both “Altered Carbon” and “Snowpiercer” come with a bit of their own built-in audiences seeing that they had established fan bases in other mediums already. Is that a gift for an actor, working on something that you know people will already be lining up to see, or does it also come with its own set of pitfalls knowing that some viewers might go in with expectations already in place?
Kanagawa: I think there are instances where the fans of a known, iconic story do not want what they know and love to be messed with. I don’t think “Altered Carbon” or “Snowpiercer” will suffer from that given both projects are re-interpreting the original for a different medium. If anything, I feel an audience expectation and excitement to see what new directions both series will go in.

TrunkSpace: You’ve performed in dozens of series and films over the course of your career. Looking back, are there any characters that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further, and if so, why?
Kanagawa: Lt. Suzuki on “iZombie”, and the Yakuza boss Okamura on “The Man in the High Castle” both met untimely ends. There was a lot more to explore with those characters.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some great runs on fan favorite shows adored by the Comic Con crowds like those two you just mentioned, and most recently, “Legends of Tomorrow.” But one thing a lot of people might not know about you is that you also played father of the first family of comics, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. What was that experience like, giving voice to such an iconic character?
Kanagawa: I don’t do a lot of animation, so it was a tremendous pleasure being in the room with artists who are the creme de la creme of that industry. And as an Asian actor, I thought it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to voice such an iconic non-Asian character. Reed, of course, is kind of the “straight man” in the family, so I didn’t have to move far from my natural speaking voice, but I had a great time with a couple of episodes where Reed switched bodies with Ben/The Thing as well as with Dr. Doom.

Kanagawa with Joel de la Fuente “The Man in the High Castle”

TrunkSpace: You also did an episode of “Supernatural,” which many in the fandom consider to be one of the most memorable in the series’ 13 year run. (“Changing Channels”) That got us to thinking… can you imagine yourself working on one character for such an extended period of time, in this case, 13 seasons, and is that something you would welcome?
Kanagawa: It really depends on the character I guess. I’ve been lucky to have a sustained career without being attached to a single character or show for longer than two seasons. But this is the golden age of the serial narrative and there is so much good writing out there in this medium that I would welcome the opportunity to explore a character over multiple seasons.

TrunkSpace: We read that you started your creative journey as a musician, composer, and writer. Are those areas that are still a big part of your life even as your acting career has continued to propel you forward in ways that you probably never thought possible?
Kanagawa: I am a playwright as well as an actor and I am very proud of the fact that I recently received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. As for music, as anyone who ever played in a high school rock band will attest, I still dream of getting the band back together, taking my shirt off, and kicking some ass!

TrunkSpace: A lot of times our loves and creative outlets can end up feeling like “work” when those outlets become careers. Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Kanagawa: I actually love it more now than ever. I feel I’m just starting to get really interesting opportunities, and that’s coming at a time when I’m starting to do my best work. All of that is extremely exciting. I’m chomping at the bit here.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the craft differently now than you did when you first began your pursuit of it?
Kanagawa: Completely. I’m always learning about myself as I journey through life. And acting is a craft you can learn so much about from watching people you’ve never met. You can watch actors who died decades ago and learn from them. You can learn from watching people at the food court at the mall. It’s endlessly, endlessly fascinating.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Hiro, go make the kind of projects that you want to make,” what would that look like? What kind of project would you develop for yourself knowing that money was not an option?
Kanagawa: Being a writer and having a couple of screenplays and series concepts, I’d use the money to get those things made. I don’t really write roles for myself, but if I had a blank check maybe I’d be tempted to write myself something. Might be tempted to write myself a part where I cross the desert, climb the mountain, and make it to the promised land.

Altered Carbon” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Musical Mondaze

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

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In our current spoiler alert society, there aren’t very many surprises left. For guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, 2017 brought about one very big eureka moment – the mainstream success of his latest project, the progressive rock band Sons of Apollo.

Comprised of Thal, former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Mr. Big founding member Billy Sheehan, and ex-Journey vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, the supergroup released their first album, “Psychotic Symphony” on October 20 and saw it debut at #1 on Billboard’s “Heatseekers” Chart, not at all what Thal expected when he thought they would churn out an album that “musician fans and friends” would enjoy.

We recently sat down with the renowned guitar hero to discuss what keeps him in the music biz, the reason he gravitates towards collaborations, and why he refuses to go half way on any project he commits himself to.

TrunkSpace: So often we hear, especially nowadays, about the negative impact of being in the public spotlight, but we have to imagine that for a musician, hearing how you positively impact fans is a driving force to keep going forward. Is that true with you and your career?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: It’s definitely a driving force. Absolutely. Most of the time I want to stop. I want to stop being a musician, and I hate the music business, and I just want to do something else with my life. And then I’ll get a message from somebody saying that what I did helped them and meant something to them, and I realize that that’s why I do this, and it’s so easy to forget that. But that is why we do what we do.

TrunkSpace: You mention the occasional desire to leave the music business. Are you somebody who has to step away and refuel the tank between projects to then get that creative spark back?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: I think so. And I think that I need to live life for a while – experience life – have stories that I feel are new stories to tell, and then I can do it. If I was gonna sit in the studio every day, I don’t know if that would work. I don’t know if being an output machine, just pumping out music daily, maybe would be even better, but I found that for most of my life I’ve needed to just live my life and then go and make some music.

TrunkSpace: Does that also apply to diversifying who you’re playing with and finding new voices to write alongside? Do your collaborations keep things fresh?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: That definitely is a big part of it. I think collaboration is so important. And there’s only so much I can get out of myself, and I only have a finite amount of anything to offer. But when you’re working with someone else, each one of you has something the other doesn’t, and when you put the two together it’s almost like the result is bigger than the sum of both parts by themselves.

TrunkSpace: When you look at those various collaborations throughout your career, do you view them as different roads all intersecting, or are they the same road traveling along the same career path?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Good question. I guess they’re the same life path, but different things. I guess you could say they’re different movies. One is “Star Wars,” the other is “The Empire Strikes Back,” and the other one is “The Return of the Jedi.” But they’re part of the same collection in your life. And that’s the thing, everybody’s lives are connected and we’re all part of this web, so it’s not a linear thing. I think everything we do is more like we expand outward than going in one direction. I think we’re like a circle that keeps expanding.

TrunkSpace: And like anything in life, you get from those experiences what you’re willing to put in.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh sure, yeah. And, for me, I find that I need to immerse myself fully and go in deep. I have a very hard time just doing anything half way. I need to fully commit to whatever I’m doing while I’m doing it, whether it’s a band or whether it’s just producing or recording or my own albums or just doing a guest guitar solo for somebody. I need to really just fully commit.

TrunkSpace: Your latest project Sons of Apollo is filled with career musicians who have been at it for decades. Does working with that caliber of musicians provide a vibe of, everyone knows what they’re there to do and they do it. Does it make the process more efficient?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Well, definitely with Sons of Apollo, you have a bunch of people that are the same types of creatures on the same page. It works well. That’s the thing, like any relationship, it has to be a balanced one where… if one loves someone more than the other does, it doesn’t quite work out well. So, we’re all on the same level as far as things. And, for me, and I noticed for Jeff and Derek and all the guys, they’re the same way, they care 100 percent. They fully put their heart and everything into it. And I think that’s why it works. And what I’ve realized is that when you’re like that, you’re gonna do much better in a band than as a hired gun kind of guy. And I think that’s why I’ve had difficulties in the past when it was a hired gun situation – which I never was, I was never a hired gun player, I was always a band guy, always had bands, always had it either in my solo band or Art of Anarchy or now Sons of Apollo. That’s the kind of person I am, and that’s just how I operate. If it’s something where it’s just more like employment, I could maybe do it for a short time, but after a certain point I need more, and it hurts too much to not give more or to just be kept at that employee distance and not a partnership kind of thing.

TrunkSpace: You knew the guys from Sons of Apollo for a long time. When you’re in that sort of relationship with other musicians, when do you know that a jam session is becoming more than that? Is it a bit unspoken at first, or does it just kind of happen?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: You kind of know pretty quickly – it happens immediately. As soon as you start playing together you just have this comfort and there’s this mind reading thing where you’ll end up doing the same kind of feel with the same kind of accents at the same time, like you’re anticipating the same things and reading each other’s minds and instinctively just know what the other is gonna do. And a lot of times that just happens. It happens more often than not, I’ve found.

TrunkSpace: Where does “Psychotic Symphony” sit for you in terms of your own relationship with your music? Is it an album that in 20 years you’ll look back on and see as a career highlight, both as a songwriter, and just as the experience?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: I think so. It’s funny, it’s not what I expected. Going from Art of Anarchy, which was radio rock, to Sons of Apollo, which is really like classic progressive hard rock… to me, Sons of Apollo I thought was gonna be more like something just for musicians, but it kind of blew up. Something is weird in the universe when women are coming up to you saying how much they love your progressive rock band. That’s not supposed to happen. Women are supposed to run in the opposite direction. (Laughter) And we would joke about that in the studio. We would come up with this crazy part in this weird time signature, and I would say something like, “We just lost two more female members of the audience.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Life is all about expectations. When you have them tied to something, you tend to either be surprised or disappointed. Is part of the surprise with how well Sons of Apollo has been received because you had expectations?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah. I went into it thinking we were just gonna bust out an album in 10 days, and that musician fans and friends would enjoy it, and that would be it, just for the sake of making an album, but then it took on a life. And here we are in 2018, we’re gonna be touring all year, and starting to write ideas for a second album. But that’s how it is, you never know what’s gonna happen. All you can do is just put stuff out into the universe and it takes on a life of its own, and you have to let it have that life and don’t hold it back, and support it.

Psychotic Symphony” is available now from InsideOutMusic.

For Sons of Apollo tour dates, visit here.

 

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Trunk Stubs

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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Movie: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Rated: PG-13

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Release Date: January 26, 2018

Run Time: 2h 22m

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Rosa Salazar, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter, Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito

Director: Wes Ball

Reason We’re Watching It: Unlike most sequels that can often fall short of their predecessors, it seems that the “Maze Runner” series gets better and better with each installment. This third film follows that trend and ups the ante with non-stop action that doesn’t let up. In fact, this movie is so good that even after one of our staffers broke a tooth on a stray popcorn kernel, they just kept watching the movie and tearing up, not only from the pain but from the dramatic moments and farewells to some of our favorite characters of the series. (Editor’s Note: This tooth incident actually happened. Dental appointment scheduled. Careful with those kernels, folks!)

What It’s About: “Death Cure” picks up where “The Scorch Trials” left off. Thomas (O’Brien), along with the main cast, are trying to rescue all of the Immunes from WCKD’s clutches. In particular they are trying to rescue Minho (Hong Lee) who was captured in the last movie. Thomas is forced to confront Teresa (Scodelario) after her betrayal that led to Minho being captured in the first place. There is a group of rebels in the mix as well that are out to burn WCKD to the ground along with anyone or anything around it.

Whoah! Rewind That!: Without giving anything away we will just say there is a scene that involves a bus full of people, a skyscraper-sized crane and a rescue attempt… all while in the middle of a war zone! There were so many great action sequences in the film, but this one will have you squirming in your chair.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: O’Brien was seriously injured and hospitalized while filming “Death Cure” in May 2016, which pushed the film’s release date from February 2017 to January 2018.

One more tidbit, Rosa Salazar who plays Brenda in “Death Cure” and “Scorch Trials” will be starring in the highly anticipated “Alita: Battle Angel” as the computer-generated cyborg.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Opening Act

Emily Perry

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Photo By: Bobby Quillard

Artist/Band: Emily Perry

Website: www.emilyperry.me

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Latest Album/Release: Latest Single: “Walk in Silence”

Influences: Lorde, Pink, Dua Lipa

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Perry: As an artist I would describe myself as current, relatable and hopefully inspirational. Definitely passionate as well! I think music is all about passion. My goal is to make people feel something. I want them to be able to vibe out and relate lyrically when listening to my music. I like to think I have a unique tone that translates across different genres… which is really cool because I love so many different genres! Ultimately I want my music to reach each individual listening. I want to create all different kinds of music. I want my music to grow with me.

TrunkSpace: Your new single “Walk in Silence” just dropped. As you gear up for new music to reach the masses, what kind of emotions do you go through? Is it a combination of excitement and nervousness?
Perry: Yes, my new single did just drop! I am already so grateful for the response it is getting. It definitely is a combination of both excitement and nervousness. Obviously I am very keen to start performing it but every time you release new music, you’re obviously nervous about what kind of response it will get. But at the end of the day it’s most important that you love your own music. If anything I am feeling determined. Determined for what’s ahead and eager to release more music soon.

TrunkSpace: How does “Walk in Silence” differ from your previous single “Boom?” Was the process of it coming together a new experience for you or did it follow a similar inception path as your previous tracks?
Perry: I think with each producer and collaboration, a shift in energy and direction takes a life of its own. “Walk in Silence” is completely different to my last single “Boom”. If anything it actually reminds me of my very first single “Sugarcoated”. For instance, “Walk in Silence” was a collaboration with producers Joe Cruz and Cindy Valentine. I wrote “Boom” with Grammy-winning producers The Jackie Boyz as well as The Further and Cindy Valentine. It was a high-energy collaboration, the room was vibin’ and it was so much fun! “Boom” reflects that energy and is upbeat with an acoustic undertone and a clean pop sound, whereas “Sugarcoated” is definitely a mellow mid tempo contemporary electronic song, much like this new single.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you have your first full-length album due out later this year. Can you give us a bit of insight into what to expect from the album and what your personal experience has been like seeing it all come together?
Perry: This will be my first full-length album release. I’ve been working on this album for a while now. With it being my first album, I’m working hard to make sure it’s the best possible representation of my music. I’ve worked with a lot of different people on this album. I believe it’s important for an album to have layers. I want each song to be different from the one before. I want you to be surprised, to not know what’s coming next. I’ve learnt a lot and grown a lot throughout the creation of this album. This process has been so fun and I can’t wait till it’s finally out there for everyone to hear!

TrunkSpace: We read that you’re always writing, jotting down ideas that ultimately become parts and pieces of songs. Are you someone who has a hard time shutting off the creative part of your brain?
Perry: I think I was 11 the first time I started using a writing journal. Now I have stacks and stacks of them. I have songs in these books from years ago and songs from yesterday. Everything I’ve ever felt or thought or seen, I’ve written down. I carry one of my songbooks with me everywhere I go. I am a bit of a creative nut – I’m always moving or listening to music or writing – it’s even what I do to relax!

TrunkSpace: From a lyrical standpoint, what approach do you like to take with your music? Are you hoping that listeners can hit play and go on the same journey with you, or do you prefer that people extract something different from your music through their own individual interpretation?
Perry: Honestly both would make me happy. If the story in my song is someone else’s story at that time, then I’m so thankful that I can help them to express what they’re feeling. But if someone pulls something different from my lyrics, something that speaks to them about an experience in their life, something that makes them feel and helps them to make sense of those feelings, then I’m just as happy.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist? Is it in the songwriting? In performance? Something else entirely?
Perry: As an artist – and a person – I think I’m always hard on myself. I work super hard to always be the best representation of myself and I want my work to reflect that. Performing is always hard for an artist as you’re laying your soul bare when you’re up on that stage. The people right in front of you have the power to lift your spirit or bruise it. It’s a lot of pressure but ultimately it’s my passion and it’s all I have ever wanted to do. But as corny as it is, no one is perfect. I don’t want people to think that I am. I make mistakes, I mess up but at the end of the day it’s real. It’s organic. It has made me and continues to make me into the artist that I am.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Australia. Do you think that your upbringing directly impacted your musical point of view, and if so, how?
Perry: Growing up in Australia is a big part of who I am, and I wouldn’t want to change that at all. Coming over here is definitely surreal and such an incredible experience but Australia is my roots and it’s nice to have two places I can call home. Australia was a beautiful place to grow up. It has a really laid-back, relaxed culture. I think the people and the experiences back home have definitely given me a different writing style.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked with some great producers/collaborators over the course of your career thus far. What do you enjoy most about seeing a creatively living and breathing thing like a song come to life in a collaborative atmosphere?
Perry: I definitely have and I am so grateful for those experiences. Working in groups is always a great way to work on a record. If you’re stuck on how to make something better, another person on the team may think of an idea that you love. To see a note… or a beat… or an idea transform into a whole is a beautiful experience and when you’re working collaboratively it becomes a celebration. It’s the joy, the gratitude, the love… and the music!

TrunkSpace: Beyond the music itself, what is your favorite part about a career in music? Is there an aspect of it that people might not know about that you pull happiness from?
Perry: To be honest, to wake up every morning and know that I will spend the day doing all the things I’m most passionate about is my very favorite part of my life. Whether it’s a dance class, spending some time on my own reflecting on lyrics, recording in studio, fittings with a stylist, being stuck on a plane for hours or rehearsals. How can it be work if I love it this much?

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Emily Perry in 2018?
Perry: I am feeling very inspired for the year ahead. I’m currently in New York preparing for my upcoming Pre-Grammy event “The Soiree”. As well as gearing up for New York Fashion Week. I will be doing a lot of traveling and performances. I’ve a lot more music that I’m excited to release along with visuals and other projects. You can keep up with everything I’m doing on all social media under @theemilyperry.

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Wingman Wednesday

Douglas Smith

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Smith with Matthew Shear in “The Alienist.” Photo by Kata Vermes

Being a fairly young television enthusiast must be a bit like being a fairly young Boston sports fan… you only know winning! In this Golden Age of TV, the amazing content being pumped into our homes is unlike anything we could have imagined 20 or 30 years ago. Even when something is not your particular cup of tea, it’s hard to argue that it’s not still quality tea.

Such is the case with TNT’s ambitious new series “The Alienist.” Based on the novel by Caleb Carr, the 10-episode crime drama set in 1896 looks and plays like a movie, further advancing the creative maturity of television as a storytelling medium.

We recently sat down with series star Douglas Smith to discuss how he views the small screen awakening, how he approached his performance in “The Alienist,” and the memorable advice Bill Paxton gave him.

TrunkSpace: “The Alienist” is such an ambitious show and certainly reflective of how far television has come in recent years. As an actor working in this Golden Age of TV, is it still exciting to see really high-end storytelling like this being developed or is it kind of expected now?
Smith: I think both. I think audiences have come to expect the best storytelling to unfold on their TVs, but it’s still exciting. I audition for every type of thing. I’m auditioning for indie movies that have no budget. Then next week, I’m auditioning for a sci-fi, CGI thing. I’ve done my fair share of both. I’ve done indies. I’ve done Blumhouse horror movies. I’ve done visual effects-heavy things that are higher budgeted. And so, when you get a chance to work on something that is both well-budgeted, so they can really realize their vision, but it’s also rooted in a gritty, detailed world, you’re able to go into a place that’s maybe not so safe. It’s fun.

I just think people come to expect really great things to show up on their Hulu, or their Netflix, or their Amazon Prime. It’s interesting. Hopefully it keeps going. I hear people wonder what the future will hold, and I don’t think anybody really, truly knows. I know that I definitely waste a lot of hours watching stuff on my various platforms when I should be doing other things ‘cause of how good the stuff is that’s out there. I’m sure you’re the same.

TrunkSpace: Guilty as charged! What’s interesting is that not only do we park ourselves in front of the television way more than we should, but we go into every new show with expectations. There’s a sense of everything needing to be A+ storytelling now.
Smith: Yeah. Well, there’s also this nostalgia side of TV, where you almost expect it to not be that way, and that has a place too. I think that’s why you still see procedurals of the more generic nature still on your television and still getting lots and lots of love from people. I mean, I sometimes feel that way. I sometimes wanna watch that kind of stuff, like “Law & Order” reruns. I’m a huge “Quantum Leap” fan.

TrunkSpace: Great show! Ziggy!
Smith: I discovered that a couple years ago. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll put on an episode.

TrunkSpace: Imagine what they could do with that show now?
Smith: I would love to see an update, but you have to find an actor with Bakula’s charm. Bakula, he still has the charm. He could definitely be in it, but, he’s busy on “NCIS: New Orleans,” though.

TrunkSpace: Procedurals still have those extended seasons. A 22-episode season tends to have a lot of filler. On something like “The Alienist” where you’re doing a 10-episode season, what’s great about that for the viewer is that every second counts. That must be true for the performer as well?
Smith: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. I think that you don’t have to retread, and you can really pick your valleys. At least, I did this privately and collaboratively with the different directors that I was working with on the show. We were engaging in a pretty constant conversation… ’cause my character Marcus is very confident and very matter of fact about what they’re doing – kind of cocky and doesn’t seem overly emotional about the killings of the first victims they’re dealing with, as well as the corpses of those five boys who are being analyzed years after their death. That was the way I chose to play it, and that was the way that Jakob (Verbruggen) agreed with. And then moving forward, talking to Max (Frye), one of our writers, we realized that there’s a point where it does go and hit closer to home for Marcus, and we were able to sort of pick that moment a little deeper into the show. It’s around the midpoint of the show.

I was just doing ADR for that scene, and I was really happy with the way it came about. It was like a multi-person dialogue about when does it get too close to home for someone like Marcus, ’cause he grew up in a really dangerous, disgusting neighborhood. I didn’t think it was the right choice for him to be as affected by these grisly murders as somebody like John Moore (played by Luke Evans), who came from a much more sheltered, high society, although I didn’t want to play it like he’s this depressed guy. That wasn’t the vision of the character that was set forth by Caleb Carr in the novel. He was always very strong, and moving forward, especially at the end of the book when Marcus and John go off on their own together, to sort of question people. It’s always John who’s the narrator in the book, who’s reticent and worried, and then Marcus is just like on the side of the building. He’s doing this. He’s doing that. And so, I felt like that was the right move.

When I started reading the scripts as they started coming out, they really kept that. They’d go deeper into Marcus’s home life than the book does, which was also a welcome thing as an actor. Jakob was there throughout the filming of the whole 10 episodes, even though his name is only on the first three. He was actually a shepherd for the whole thing. When I would be working on later episodes, he would still be walking around and he would be shooting something from the earlier episodes later that week, or he’d be in the editing room. We had countless conversations just passing in the hall before I walked into the stage to, let’s say, film a scene from a later episode. “Hey, what do you think about this? Is this right?” Same with Jamie Payne, who directed the last two episodes. He was there the entirety, as well. We were left alone to the point where we could come up with our own ideas, but there was a lot of support to sort of question if those ideas were wrong. There were a few times where the idea was wrong. I remember a pretty specific moment when one of the writers was like, “No, you don’t wanna do that because of this, this, this.” And I was like, “Oh, fuck. You’re right. Okay. Yeah.”

Smith with Matthew Shear in “The Alienist.” Photo by Kata Vermes

TrunkSpace: Do you approach your performance differently on something like “The Alienist” when you know it is a period piece? Just in terms of how people held themselves, presented themselves, etc.?
Smith: Yeah. That was a long ongoing conversation. The first sort of things were just meeting Matthew (Shear) and being like, “Hey, this is my idea. How did you play it in the audition?” And he’s like, “I kinda did it like this.” And I was like, “All Right. That’s kinda how I did it. We must be on the right track, ’cause we both got cast.” And then, I think the day we landed in Budapest, they had us meet with the dialect coach, Rick Lipton, and we spoke with him. That night we all met at a wine soiree thing, and that was like my first question to Max. Then, we watched some documentaries that sort of analyzed the New York sort of way of life. There was this really great little movie called “Hester Street” that’s kind of about Jews in New York around the turn of the century. It stars that woman from “Annie Hall,” Carol Kane. Then, we watched a documentary called “If These Knishes Could Talk.”

So, we had an ongoing sort of debate. I don’t know if the debate ever really fully ended. We just were like, “Okay, let’s put on the clothes. The clothes are pretty restrictive. Okay. That’ll sort of inform the performance.” But, we didn’t want to be charactery and so stiff, ’cause I really think there’s a malleability and a certain urgency that the Isaacsons bring to the scenes that they populate, and I didn’t really want us to blend in. I don’t think they blend in when I read the pages of either the book or the script. I think they really stand out like sore thumbs in most of the environments that they find themselves in. And so, I wanted to embrace that rather than fight against it.

TrunkSpace: The series plays out like event television in the sense that, you don’t want to wait until it’s all available to stream. You want to show up each week and see what’s going to happen next. Did it have that sense when you first read it?
Smith: I knew it was a week-to-week airing experience, which I know a lot of people like to do. “Stranger Things” came out and most of my friends finished it in a weekend. I’m a little more traditional. I like to spread things out when I like them. I didn’t really think about that though, to be perfectly honest. I kind of knew we were doing a show that was going to be on a network that aired it week after week, and didn’t dump all the episodes at once, but that’s really not a thought that comes into your mindset. I’m there just kinda spending more time talking about what you were talking about, like, “Okay, how do they walk? How do they feel? Like, how many suits do they own?” We sort of decided that the suit you see them in is pretty much the only suit they have. I think we changed outfits once, halfway through, and we’re like, “This is their summer suit.” But they really only own two suits. Even that felt like, “Would they even have two suits?” Maybe. Probably one, maybe two. We were thinking about these kinds of things. And then, thinking about, “How many times have you seen a dead body? How many times have you had sex with a girl? Marcus is not a virgin.” Things like that. “Has Lucius ever had an experience with the opposite sex?” It’s these sort things that you try to focus on, because that’s what’s gonna affect how you do the scene.

I knew we were doing the whole book, which I was happy about. I didn’t think it was the right decision to stretch out the book in more than one season of television. I think that’ll make for a really satisfying experience for people. So, I was happy about that. That’s one thing I didn’t know when I got the job, because I only got the first two scripts when I got the job.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on so many projects, and obviously a lot of great television going all the way back to “Big Love.” As an actor, what projects taught you the most about the craft, even though you’re probably still learning on your journey?
Smith: Very much still learning. I learn something on every job. I learn stuff on good and bad jobs. The most valuable thing I ever learned was Bill Paxton telling me not to eat too much before my closeup when they break for lunch in the middle of your scene. It may sound weird, but true. You could spend all day doing your character bio or doing sense memory or something, but we’re sort of practical workmen. Basically he saw me… we were doing a scene, a pretty deep father/son scene. They had to break for lunch after we’d done the master and Bill had done his closeup, but they were saving my closeup. They had to cut for lunch and he saw me piling a huge amount of apple crumble onto my plate. He was like, “Ah, bud…” He sort of did like a little cut gesture. He used to do this kind of cut with his hand across his neck. “I’d cut that out, man. You’re way out of the scene. You know what I’m talking about, brother?”

Smith with Paxton in “Big Love.”

I really always remember that on any job I’ve ever gone on. You do a lot of doing nothing on a set, but you have to be very careful with how you do nothing. You have to be very careful about how you hit the craft service. You have to be very mindful in the way you occupy this body of yours that needs to be ready to perform and access any emotion at any time.

The Alienist” airs Mondays on TNT.

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Sit and Spin

Slow Bloom’s Hex Hex Hex

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Artist: Slow Bloom

Album: “Hex Hex Hex”

Label: No Sleep Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: Because playing it quietly would be a fruitless endeavor. Johnny Andrew’s vocals, a hurricane of Gale-force howling, feel ripped from the CBGB’s stage circa 1975. This is music meant to be played loudly and proudly.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Other than a rider filled with honey and lozenges for Andrew’s vocal chords? Well, it tells us that this is a band that could be a game changer for the post punk scene, which has seemed to be stuck on idle in recent years. If they play their cards right, they could be holding the entire deck when all is said and done.

Track Stuck On Repeat: “Neon Sequitor,” the opening track, is the best way Slow Bloom could have said hello with the EP. Aggressively catchy and instantly memorable, it would be a radio hit if radio actually played new music anymore.

Coming To A City Near You: Slow Bloom tour dates can be found here.

And that means…

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Trunk Bubbles

Marcus To

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Name: Marcus To

Website: marcusto.tumblr.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Cyclops

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Tim Drake

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Guardians of the Galaxy”/Marvel Comics/2017

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
To: A mix between manga and 90s Image.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
To: I was drawing since I could hold a pencil. My mom taught me as a baby to keep me sitting still. I first learned how to draw “Sesame Street” characters, actually. Comics came into play around the time of the 90s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon – the cartoons in the 90s really brought me into the world and that’s when I started to want more and sought out to find stories with my favorite characters in them.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
To: When I first started to find out about comic stores I was watching the 90s “X-Men” cartoon. I was on the lookout for any book with an X on it. And from that I became a fan of Jim Lee. He was the first artist who made me stop and take notice of the creators and began a love for comic art as a whole.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
To: Growing up in small town in Canada, I didn’t really know what was possible really. When I first thought about trying to draw comics I started also buying Wizard magazine. I read any interview I could about the creators, their lives, techniques and how they got into the biz. The most common story was to attend San Diego Comic Con with a portfolio and get your work looked at by professionals, so that’s what I did. I spent the better part of two years working on a bunch of samples for a portfolio and read up on guidelines of how to submit. From there I took my portfolio with giveaway samples to SDCC and was lucky enough to use the contacts I met there to launch my career in comics.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
To: I can honestly say I have had two big breaks in my career. First was “Cannon Hawke” with Aspen Comics. This was my first comic series and the guys at Aspen gave me the best chance to succeed by publishing my first professional work.

My second big break was when I was lucky enough to land the penciling duties for “Red Robin.” I had known the editor at the time, Mike Marts, for years and when I was looking for work I emailed him about any possible work for hire. He then gave me a short story to practice on and after that, offered “Red Robin” to me, which to this day is the book and character most people know my work from.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
To: I was really lucky to break in with Aspen Comics quite early. I was 20 when “Cannon Hawke” was published. I would say that staying in comics is much harder – it’s a very small industry and not everything will go your way in your time in the industry. To stay a viable option for editors and maintain quality work and a happy life outside of the work day is the hardest thing to do. But I believe that it’s worth it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else with my life.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
To: The character I draw the most is Tim Drake, mostly at conventions though. For personal sketching, it’s always changing. It’s usually what I want to improve upon that dictates what I draw. If I need to work on lighting and negative space, Batman is always a good one. If it’s figure work, it might be Supergirl. Likenesses? Maybe I’ll draw Leonard Nimoy as Spock. That kinda thing.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
To: I have this dream of working on the “Fantastic Four.” I love the dimension traveling adventure family. It would be really fun to draw.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
To: I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about this exact question. I’m still looking for the answer. But I can say that what most creators want is choice – choice of project, character, deadline. The more I can choose what to do and when to do it the better.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
To: I’d like to think that my strength is in my structure, making characters and environments feel fully believable.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
To: Since last year I have been working fully digital. I have a Wacom Cintiq, and use Clip Studio for all my work. There’s so little time to draw a monthly book and these tools help you get to the finished product in a more timely and consistent manner than traditional.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
To: A career in comics is a marathon. There’s gonna be a lot of ups and downs. Love the craft and love creating – if you love doing the work, then the rest will work out.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
To: I love conventions, it’s the best when you see creators and friends you don’t see often and you get the opportunity to meet people you look up to. I’ve also been really lucky to have such great fans who always treat me well. Though it can be quite tiring to be around so many people. It’s a balance, which is why I try not to go to more than four cons a year.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
To: There are a bunch of things in the pipeline. I’m a part of a studio of artists in Toronto called RAID studio. We put out our first self-published book, and anthology called “RAID,” one with contributions from top creators like Francis Manapul and Ramon Perez. We are going to follow that up with two more books before the end of the year, all through RAID studio. On top of that you can find my work on “Star Trek: Boldly Go” #17, “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Through the Mirror” #1, and the “Amazing Spider-Man Annual,” as well as other to-be-named projects with both DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

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Next Up

Marlon Correa

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Name: Marlon Correa

Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Correa: Yeah, I remember a few instances but one that sticks out was a talent show for a class project I had in middle school in Garland, TX. My group choose to lip sync to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” and I remember wanting to be really good, not only for a grade but to step out of my shell a bit and try something I had never done before. And sure enough it was a hit and the class loved it and I remember this awesome feeling, I had just performed in front of people and it felt amazing and real! It was a great experience and I believe the bug bit me because after that day that’s all I could think about, well when I wasn’t playing baseball. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Correa: Hmm. There weren’t specific actors or performances but I think it was after watching films like “The Outsiders,” “The Goonies” and “Top Gun” that I started dreaming about the adventures you can take with a character as an actor. Though Matt Dillon’s performance in “The Outsiders” was very inspiring.

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?
Correa: I knew I wanted to go to a conservatory type setting and get my education that way. After college I stayed in New York City and it was basically a simple plan – to work as hard as I could to build a team and audition, audition, audition for Off and Off-Off Broadway productions. I knew it was a numbers game and exposure was the only way to get noticed. The plan was just to get out there and be seen. As they say, “…to build my resume.” But definitely, theater was the plan – theater led to film and television in New York.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Correa: Well, I left home at the age of 19 to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC so that was leaving home, but I guess when I moved to Los Angeles it felt more like “leaving home” to pursue the career, and that was at age 25.

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?
Correa: I was lucky in the sense that I moved out to Los Angeles with a girlfriend and coincidentally my roommate from college in NYC had a spare room in his North Hollywood apartment with other people that I knew so I had the support group immediately. It was nice. But the transition wasn’t always smooth. Los Angeles is very different than New York city. Very different! I hated it. I started to miss NY and home, I ended up leaving town and headed back east. After a couple of years I returned, but I was better prepared and ready for the grind of the town.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Correa: I’m still working for that break but I guess booking my first network costars on “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Ray Donovan” opened up more opportunities with casting directors. I was recently on the new CBS show “S.W.A.T” and it was the first time in a while that I did not play a uniformed cop or a firefighter, so that was awesome. I love playing different characters.

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?
Correa: I love drama. That’s the one genre I have always felt the most comfortable with, but just recently comedy has been popping up at auditions and I really like that. It’s a bit more challenging when it comes to comedy, the rhythm has to be right, so when you’re on, it’s great!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Correa: I think the actor should be life experienced, as much as they can be. It will make your work that much more interesting. The better we are prepared, the easier that particular journey will be. Also, having an open mind. Flexibility.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Correa: I would love to work on films during the spring and fall and then Broadway stages summer and winter. That would be the ultimate dream acting career for me. Ahhh… that would be amazing.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Correa: Get your education and finances in order, live life, get hurt, and get happy. Then take the plunge. Figure out what you have and what you need, then go get it. Spend time with family and friends, you will miss them. But most important of all focus, focus, focus and never, ever take yourself too serious.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Correa: IMDb has the most up to date info on projects as well as contact information.

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