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November 2018

Sit and Spin

Mineral’s Aurora

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Artist: Mineral

Song Title: “Aurora”

Single Sentence Singles Review: It’s been 20 years since Mineral released new material, and while expectations can build up over the course of two decades, the Austin quartet – which disbanded in 1997 – has delivered on them all with this moving single that is both nostalgic and contemporary in its crafting and production.

Beyond The Track: “Aurora” will appear on “One Day When We Are Young: Mineral At 25,” a limited edition hardcover book and collectible 10-inch that will also include the new song “Your Body Is The World.” Set to drop January 4 on House Arrest, a pre-order is available here.

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The Featured Presentation

Jake Short

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This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie, “#Roxy,” a modern romcom-reimagining of “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring Jake Short, Booboo Stewart, Sarah Fisher and Danny Trejo. The adaptation with a cyber age twist arrives on digital HD tomorrow.

First up we’re chatting with Jake Short to discuss tackling a historical great, the complexity that exists within the character’s motivation, and why he loves acting more now than he did when he first started.

TrunkSpace: “#Roxy” is a classic story with a very modern take. Lots of fantastic actors have played their own version of Cyrano de Bergerac over the years. Did you go back and look at any of them or did you want to go into the film with a completely fresh mindset?
Short: I read “Cyrano de Bergerac” and watched Steve Martin’s take in “Roxanne,” but applied my own little twist to the character of Cyrus.

TrunkSpace: Is there pressure – the kind you put on yourself – inhabiting a character that has such an incredible history in the performing arts, even if your Cyrus is only loosely based on the original?
Short: With little theater background, it’s really new to tackle a historical character, but I try not to put more pressure on myself than what already exists. Since it’s such a modern retelling of a classic story, I concerned myself with having fun and grounding the character in the new world.

TrunkSpace: In terms of becoming Cyrus for the course of the production, what was the most difficult aspect of your character discovery? What part of him required extra work or focus?
Short: The complexity behind wanting to be loved by someone through another person never crossed my mind. Trying to understand his longing to be loved without the willingness to love himself presented a new, useful challenge.

TrunkSpace: Digital communication plays a big role in the plot of the film. What is your own personal relationship with social media? You have a digital presence, but is it more a necessary evil than a passion?
Short: Social media started picking up before I was even a teenager, a part of my growing years. I enjoy social media for laughs and connecting with people, but not when it takes us out of the real world. I try as much as possible to keep my phone in my pocket when I’m out in the world or around people. It’s necessary, but not evil – certainly not a passion. However, it’s really useful to connect with fans and people who want to see you thrive. THAT is brand new and super special.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most enjoyable part of a movie is the movie itself, but for those involved in the project, we would imagine it is the experience. For you, what will you take away from the production that will stay with you?
Short: We had some unforgettable nights out with the cast and crew. Those will never escape me. Also, I spent an hour in makeup every morning. Will NEVER forget that.

TrunkSpace: You have been acting professionally since you were a young kid. Do you still love it as much today as you did the first time you set foot on a set?
Short: I think I love it even more now. There’s a new appreciation you find for things as the years run on and I know so much more about my industry now. I learn something new every time I put myself around fellow thespians. Being on set makes me fall in love all over again.

TrunkSpace: As you’ve gotten older and have lived more life, do you view the craft differently now? Does your approach to performing and discovering a character look very different than it did 10 years ago?
Short: Absolutely. You start to understand why people choose words, what makes them tick, how people react to those words. More English also helps. As time progresses you understand other people and yourself, which remains one of the most useful tools in acting.

Short with Sarah Fisher in “#Roxy”

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest highlight of your career thus far, the “pinch me” moment that still makes you pinch yourself?
Short: Probably the first movie I was cast in, “Shorts” directed by Robert Rodriguez.

TrunkSpace: It was announced back in May that Jimmy Kimmel would be playing the older version of you in the ABC series “Man Of The House,” which sounded like a really fun show with a stellar cast and incredible creative team behind it. We have since not heard anything, so we have to ask, is that still moving forward?
Short: We did not get picked up for a season order, but it was a great team of producers and a wonderful cast.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Short: No. As much as it would be nice to know what happens, as much as I would want to take the shortcut, I wouldn’t. The journey to get there, you learn so much. Would you watch the first scene of a movie and then the climax? You don’t see what the character learns, what brought them to that peak.

#Roxy” is available on digital HD November 6.

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Laugh It Up

Leslie Barton

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Name: Leslie Barton

Social: Twitter/Instagram

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Barton: Yes. But I drank a lot as a child.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Barton: Comedy will do with me what it sees fit. My only plan was to not sleep with any comics after I started doing it.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Barton: I wish that wasn’t such a difficult question. My voice? I don’t have one – or one that I maybe feel is as fulfilling to me personally as I would like. I keep my creative voice open to change. Right now I’m combining painting and comedy and LSD.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Barton: If I try to recreate anything from when I started, it’s the nervousness. And the looseness. And the sobriety.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Barton: Of course. Some people have writing all the time anytime, some people have writing scheduled. Those are the people I envy a little. I need more of a schedule.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Barton: I think one has to be pliable when creating. Be ready with your equipment, ie: pen, paper, phone. Maybe you’re thinking immediate thoughts with a general write up, or you save your one sentence for an open mic and see what you get with that. Or you start a writing group by gathering three to five comics that only hate each other a little and that you think are funny.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Barton: I try and figure out why I like it so much and go from there. Some jokes just fall out of pop culture, too.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Barton: It’s also possible to kill one set, drive across town and fail miserably at another mic, the same night.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Barton: A hot crowd is the best crowd, and I hate wasting it, but I still do, if I’m being honest. It’s also on the comic to raise the bar and try and read the audience and consider which jokes might work best.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Barton: Too many to count: performing a set with the Altercation Festival people at the now defunct Fire House booked by Matt Micheletti. Fucking hardly anyone was there, but I had a great set and it was such a good show.

It’s hard to say what drives me. Comedy is what I imagine surfing to be like, with its learning curve and unpredictability.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Barton: I kind of started talking over them early on and still kind of do that, unless they give me a great idea for a comeback. They are unruly children.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Barton: Who knows what people find funny, now or in the future. But as soon as everyone starts outlawing comedy, only outlaws will do comedy. Besides, I’m as optimistic as any white, middle-aged woman with no children, that owns a house. I can always live in my attic and die there. That’ll be funny to me.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Barton: People that are trying to do something beyond what I see on a daily basis. Broken people trying to act fixed. And old scary movies. And bad dreams and irony. Plus old British comedies. Mel Brooks. Richard Pryor. My mom was pretty funny. My dad. Erma Bombeck. Marquis de Sade. Bill Hicks. Jessica Kirson. These are a few of my favorite things.

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Listen Up

Axis: Sova

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When Axis: Sova first began its journey, it consisted of only founding member Brett Sova. Since that time, both the sound and internal creative mechanics of the project have gone through a musical metamorphosis with the addition of Tim Kaiser (guitar) and Jeremy Freeze (bass). Their latest album “Shampoo You,” out November 16 on God? Records, is their most collaborative to date and it shows in the trio’s superb songwriting synergy.

We recently sat down with Sova to discuss the communal atmosphere that spawned the album, creating dense jams that everyone can enjoy, and why three heads are better than one.

TrunkSpace: “Shampoo You” is due to drop November 16 on God? Records. Do you experience the same level of excitement releasing an album at this stage in your careers as you did when you were just starting out with your music?
Sova: Hell yeah – this time in particular, even. “Shampoo You” is significantly advanced beyond anything we’ve done before, it’s very collaborative and it was a blast to make. If we weren’t excited to share it we’d have kept it in the basement.

TrunkSpace: Did you actively set out to make a different kind of record than your previous offerings, particularly “Motor Earth,” which was released in 2016? Creatively, what were your goals with “Shampoo You” and did you feel like you accomplished those things when you wrapped production?
Sova: We did. We wanted to make music that was sharper, sleeker and more immediate than ever before. We wanted to push tempos and push vocals, and push ourselves. “Shampoo You” is really communal, it’s very much a band record, and we each reached beyond ourselves to places we’d never been while writing and arranging it together. There was no winging it, or Frankensteining parts into songs in the studio, as was the case with “Motor Earth.” We didn’t let any song out of the rehearsal bunker until we felt confident it would be of the highest possible impact and we were ready to record it. We wanted to make a dense batch of jams that would be visceral enough for those that wanted to feel it deep yet playful enough for the surface dwellers who just want to party.

TrunkSpace: Focusing on the songwriting itself, is there an overall theme to this album, a particular headspace that is reflected in the tone and messaging of the songs themselves?
Sova: Collectively, the songs are a swirling amalgam of today’s shit, coming through in stories about identity, relationships, vices and consumerism, among other things. “Shampoo You” has a real up-front vibe, its songs are meant to be relatable on the surface as much as they are felt down in the depths. And part of the fun of making music is knowing that once it’s out of your hands and into someone else’s, the listener gets to come up with their own version of what a song might be about, or what it means to them. I don’t wanna spoil that for anybody.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Sova: One thing for sure is the collaborative execution. “Shampoo You” could not have been made without full-blown contributions from each of us: Tim (Kaiser), Jeremy (Freeze), and Cooper (Crain), who engineered, and me. I’m also pleased with the fact that we made perhaps the finest examples of prototypical Axis: Sova songs alongside songs that step far outside the realm of what we’ve done previously. We proudly expanded our sonic territory.

TrunkSpace: “Dodger” was the first single off of the album. How do you approach choosing that first track from a new record? Was “Dodger” the obvious choice or did you have other tracks in vying for the first slot?
Sova: We chose “Dodger” because it’s a good bridge vibe-wise from the previous album (wah-wah; a lot of guitar action), and because it demonstrates the attention to detail in songwriting and vocal harmonies we emphasize on “Shampoo You.” We wanted to show off a song that has a pre-chorus, in 3/4 time. All the songs on the record were viable candidates. They’re all good.

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing within a band, and this band in particular, that you can’t access from a solo mindset? What are the benefits for you personally in having a group of people fighting the fight alongside of you?
Sova: If left to my own devices it’s easy for me to default to places where I’m comfortable and stay there. Working with Tim and Jeremy, who have strong ideas and opinions, and great melodic and harmonic intuition, enabled these songs to be better than they could’ve been coming from just one person. Three heads are better than one!

Photo By: Grant Engstorm

TrunkSpace: There are people who believe in love at first sight and true love. Is there such a thing as creatives at first sight? Can people connect over art in a way that has no real explanation and has Axis: Sova been that for you?
Sova: Absolutely.

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but we also love great lines – lyrical snippets that stick with you beyond the macro of a song or album. What is your favorite line from “Shampoo, You” and why?
Sova: I particularly like the line, “My head’s a tray for ashing, a pool of electric thrashing” from “Dodger,” because I felt wildly electric and kinda like a trash receptacle while I wrote it. Feelings aren’t always so easy to articulate.

Also, “Never be the same person twice.”

TrunkSpace: The cover art for “Shampoo You” is mesmerizing. We find ourselves staring at it, but we’ll have to be honest, we’re not exactly sure what we’re looking at. What is it and where did the idea for the image come from?
Sova: We wanted the cover to be bold and vivid, like pop art, and also tactile. It’s very analog. If it’s mesmerizing and appealing to you, then we must’ve gotten something right.

TrunkSpace: Do you enjoy the other aspects of working in the music industry that stretch beyond the music itself… choosing album art, shooting videos, booking tours, etc.?
Sova: That stuff is fun, but I prefer working on the music and playing it, in terms of pure enjoyment.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the release, what’s next for the band and its members as we finish out 2018 and look forward to the new year?
Sova: More touring, probably a pallet-cleansing noise/jam tape or something… and keeping “Shampoo You” bubbling throughout 2019, too.

Shampoo You” is available November 16 on God? Records.

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Deep Focus

Harley Wallen

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Harley Wallen, producer, director and star of the family drama “Bennett’s Song,” which is available now on DVD and VOD.

TrunkSpace: You wore so many hats in bringing “Bennett’s Song” to life, which seems to be the way you’re used to working at this stage in your career. Does it feel odd when you’re on a set and not juggling that many balls at one time?
Wallen: You know what, in the beginning, when I got an acting gig, it was really hard to not want to help, especially when you see somebody make calls that you don’t agree with. But you just have to learn that we all have our own ways. So, I’m able to turn off and compartmentalize what I do pretty well at this point. Even in production, the key to be successful, for me, is generally I’ve been writing the stories – in this case my partner Nancy Oeswein wrote and so I didn’t have to write this one – but I do much of the producing, but the minute that we start being on set, I take off my producers hat and pretty much I hand it to Nancy and I focus on just acting and directing. I just focus on creative parts and when things take negotiating or any of that stuff, I step away from that unless I absolutely have to get pulled in. That way I can maintain creative during the production and put on my business hat in pre-production.

TrunkSpace: As you’re leading up to that point where you can split your business brain and creative brain, do the two sides ever butt heads in terms of what one wants and what the other one knows is possible?
Wallen: Yes, absolutely. I think right now we’re at a really interesting place. We’re really ready for a little bigger of a budget to take things a little bit further and to just demand a little bit more excellence, and that’s not the easiest step to take because you essentially have to earn your spot where you are fully first before somebody’s going to essentially grant you the next step. All of our films are privately financed so that makes it a little bit trickier as well because we have to go back to them and essentially hand them their money back and then start the next project. So, yeah, it’s tricky, but I really feel right now we’re sitting on this cusp of taking a fairly big step with some of our next films.

TrunkSpace: Strictly speaking from creative – from Director Harley – did you accomplish everything you set out to do with “Bennett’s Song?”
Wallen: No. Always, when I visualize, after I read the script, I have 100 percent of my vision and then that location didn’t quite measure up, or we have a performance that’s an eight instead of a nine, or a seven instead of a nine, or whatever it may be. So, you’re always chipping away at what it could be. Also, it was the first family film I’ve done so I felt that it was a little bit tricky because I didn’t want to make a traditional light, straight up goofy type of film. I wanted it to hold its own as a drama, I wanted it to hold its own as a romance, and also be a great family film. I think we succeeded to a degree with that, but I think we can do better and I really think the sequel is going to show that we definitely can do better.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned you’re always chipping away at what a film could be. As a filmmaker, is it hard to put that final stamp on a film and step away from it?
Wallen: Yes, I think a deadline is what keeps you sane as a filmmaker because you really could keep going and play around with it forever if nobody told you to stop. I always talk to my distributors and I like having firm deadlines that are realistic. That forces me to really not sit around and have that… what is it called… paralysis by analysis. I could see that happening. And it’s the same thing with having a good AD for me on set.

I remember reading about “Heat” and I know it’s not a family film, but they took, I believe, 17 takes… or 21 takes… of that diner scene between De Niro and Pacino and they ran dual cameras, which I know that he was not a fan of doing, but he did it for a specific purpose. They would really mirror each other. We don’t have that luxury all the time in these films and without a strong AD, I have a tendency to want another take and I have to learn to know what’s realistic and to keep a good schedule so as not to hurt yourself later. I would think through things if you let me.

TrunkSpace: At the same time, not having the big budgets to do something 21 times… it can lead to gems. It forces you to think outside of the box.
Wallen: Absolutely, and I think, even to take that a step further, the fact that I can’t hire all well-known cast members and have all these people with great expectations, you find amazing gems and people that step up and deliver a performance and give this character life that you just go, “Wow, I didn’t even see that. That was so much better than I even imagined because this took a life of its own.” So, yeah, I don’t dislike where I am at all. I think it has all its own charms just to be here, and I’m enjoying what we’re doing, but, like I said, I still feel we’re at the cusp where there’s a pretty big step in the works. I love what we did with “Bennett’s Song,” but I have a new cinematographer for the sequel, and some other things that I think will probably take us up a notch. This is going to be really exciting to see.

Wallen in “Bennett’s Song”

 

TrunkSpace: You sort of touched on this a minute ago, but the idea that it was kind of daunting to take on a family drama. We know you come from the thriller and action space, so what was it that made working in the family genre give you pause?
Wallen: I think the fact that I just haven’t considered this genre at all and when Nancy wrote it, I know she wrote it from the heart. Nancy has adopted kids and so it was just something that hits really close to home. We have a couple of filmmakers in town that do family film, and my first instinct was, “You should probably talk to them.” I had to calm myself down. When I read it, I read a really good romance, I read a really good drama, and then the comedy side of it as well, and I just didn’t want it to be anything less than that.

TrunkSpace: On the business side of what you do, with so much content and so many distribution platforms out in the world today, do you think that makes it easier for people to find a project like “Bennett’s Song” because they’re more open to films that aren’t hitting the big theaters or do you think it makes it more difficult because there’s more competition?
Wallen: I think it does a little bit of both. I think it comes down to, essentially if you get lucky or if you’re fortunate enough to find a good distributor. I remember when I made my first couple of films, I didn’t have any connections and I started reaching out to the distributors that I could find online and a lot of them get so much nonsense that they barely even go through it all because there’s so much garbage, in all honesty. Unless there’s somebody that can connect with a good distributor, half of the time you’re overlooked and bypassed and for me, finding Vision Films has been a really, really good opportunity. Our first batch of DVDs sold out in a flash. It was amazing. I ordered my own when it was in pre-sales and it was out of the warehouse and in back order before it was even out. I was like, “How does this even happen?”

TrunkSpace: That must be such a high to carry you into the sequel – to know that there’s an audience there?
Wallen: Absolutely, and you know, I gotta give Nancy a lot of credit. I wanted a more defined villain. I felt that we went villain-light with Tara (Reid) in the first one. Even though she did a good job, the character was only in six scenes or something like that, and even though she left her mark on it, I would like to see the villain have a little bit more balance and a little bit more power. She was almost not even introduced until the second act, so I feel that’s something that’s going to be a lot better next time.

Also, this is Dennis Haskins genre. This is where he’s golden and he’s going to have a much, much bigger character arc in this next one. I’m really excited to see that because I think that we’re going to see a little bit more of a balanced film the next time around. I love the script, so I hope that I can do this justice and put this on the screen, that’s for sure.

Bennett’s Song” is available now on DVD and VOD. The sequel is currently in development.

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The Featured Presentation

Barry Nerling

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There have been a sundry slew of fan-favorite characters to claw and scratch their way into the hearts of “Supernatural” fans throughout the course of its 14 seasons. Last night’s episode, “Mint Condition,” introduced us to a new dead darling that our slasher-loving lips can’t stop quoting, Hatchet Man.

We all do bad things sometimes!”

We recently sat down with the actor who brought the memorable boogieman to life, Barry Nerling, to discuss hatching Hatchet Man, fortuitous barbecues, and “farting” in front of Steven Spielberg.

TrunkSpace: We are suckers here for “Supernatural,” particularly with the quirky, monster-of-the-week episodes. One of our new favorites is “Mint Condition,” which aired last night. In it you played Hatchet Man. What does it feel like to be a part of such a memorable episode of this long-running series?
Nerling: It feels pretty dam cool to be honest. I started on the show back on Season 1/Episode 3 and they have had a lot of memorable characters along the way. “Supernatural” has always been about hunting monsters and telling cool stories. Their so called “standalone episodes” are always so much fun, like “ScoobyNatural” – one of my favorites. I just hope the fans like this character so he to can join the ranks of all these great character creations spawned by “Supernatural.”

TrunkSpace: Hatchet Man is a great agglomeration of celluloid slashers, particularly those from the ‘80s we grew up with. How would he fare against some of cinemas deadliest like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger?
Nerling: Honestly, I think all of those guys are great. I think we would all look at each other and just nod. You know, like, “I feel you brother, respect.” Although, Krueger likes to try to get into your head, so I think Hatchet Man would have to be careful of that.

TrunkSpace: In the episode, action figures come to life and all hell breaks lose. Did you get to keep any versions of your own mint condition Hatchet Man self as a keepsake? What would you think if actual Hatchet Man figures ever found their way into the collector’s market?
Nerling: Well, sadly the only copy was the life-size version in the comic shop, so no, I did not get a mini version to put with the rest of my collectibles. I for one would love to see the Hatchet Man action figures. If they need me to pose, I am available.

TrunkSpace: Did wardrobe and makeup sort of dictate your performance? Did you just BECOME Hatchet Man when you slipped into his physical skin, so to speak?
Nerling: Playing these types of characters, you always draw from or lean on the makeup and wardrobe, for sure. It is the starting point. Of course, you can not help but draw from the icons of horror as well. I was fortunate to have Special Makeup Effects Artist Mike Fields at the helm for this character and his work is like being in your own skin, so you can really work the character. He designed both the mask and the actual prosthetic makeup I wore.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on the series in the past as a stunt performer. Was this a special experience given how featured the character is and how much potential the episode has to remain memorable within the fandom?
Nerling: Yes, this one for sure stands out for me. I have had so much fun doing everything I have been able to do on the show, but yes, this character is very special, for sure. It was also the first time I actually get to fight Jensen (Ackles). I always seem to end up fighting – or should I say, dying at the hands of – Jared (Padalecki), so it was a nice change.

Did I mention how much I love both of those guys? They really are awesome.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of the fandom, there are very few shows out there that have the kind of loyal audience that “Supernatural” has. You’ve seen how the well-oiled machine works both behind the scenes and on camera. What do you think keeps the “Supernatural” train chugging along, currently in its 14th season?
Nerling: First and foremost, the fans are what keep it going. As long as they want to keep watching, the crew will keep making it. Those guys have a lot of fun on that set. They really like each other and it helps that the boys have not changed since day one.

© 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in Vancouver. How important are shows like “Supernatural” and “Arrow,” which you have worked extensively on, to the city and the industry there?
Nerling: These shows are so important to our local industry. They employ a lot of people behind and in front of the camera. They give all of us a chance to show off Vancouver’s talent pool and believe me, we have so much here.

TrunkSpace: You started your career in film and television much later than most. What was it that prompted you to take that leap, because for many people, it’s easier to shelf the dream than it is to pursue it?
Nerling: For me, it was a chance meeting at a barbecue in Vernon that got me here. An agent was there from Vancouver and he liked my look. I took a chance and started doing extra work to get the feel for it and realized I had a performer living in me. So I moved down and started to pursue it more seriously taking classes, getting a principal agent and learning from others around me. Never too late to go for it – whatever you want to do.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re also a stunt performer. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done on-camera – the thing that made you go, “Am I really doing this?!?!”
Nerling: I did a gag on “The BFG” where the character I was doubling takes a drink and my pants get blown off from a fart and then I get shot up into the air and crash back down on the table. Looking down and seeing Steven Spielberg giving me direction was definitely one of those moments.

TrunkSpace: One of the things about movie slashers is that they always come back for a sequel! If Hatchet Man came back in the future, would you be willing to pick up the hatchet once more?
Nerling: Absolutely! Anytime they want me to swing the hatchets, I will be ready to slice and dice!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

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Chef Life

Vegan Black Metal Chef

VeganBlackMetal_ChefLife_Savory

Vegan Black Metal Chef
www.veganblackmetalchef.com

TrunkSpace: Which came first, your love of metal or your love of vegan cuisine?
Chef: Well, I have been into metal from about first grade-ish, and started being vegan toward the end of my first year of college, around 2000… so metal came first, I suppose.

TrunkSpace: For those metal/vegan-heads out that there that may not be familiar with your work, how would you describe your fusion of metal meets vegan?
Chef : It is a musical cooking show where I write the soundtrack to each episode and the lyrics to the songs are recipes and what is going on. It takes place in a dungeon-like kitchen.

TrunkSpace: What style of cuisine do you enjoy creating the most and why? And what would you consider your signature dish?
Chef: There is no one cuisine I enjoy most. Anything done to a really high taste level is my favorite at the time. I would not say I have a signature dish. I make a lot of veganized basics from many cultures.

TrunkSpace: It’s been said that food is the gateway into a culture, that it identifies a history, family and a region. In your case you have combined the culinary arts with the musical arts. What do you feel your food says about your culture and history?
Chef: I think those things may have been true in the past with only certain ingredients and spices available in a region. But with pretty much most ingredients and spices available to most people in most even medium size cities, those notions might be outdated. I personally do not feel affiliated with any history/ancestry. I guess I am some mixture of Polish and Russian, but any traditions were lost long ago in my family. My food says more about the future of a vegan world than a history. I guess Tampa, where I grew up, has a history of metal. I think it is because the place itself is so mediocre. Everyone is a little bit pissed there.

TrunkSpace: Some folks hear “vegan” and think it’s all flax seed and nutritional yeast. While those have their place, what would you tell the skeptic, non-vegan believers out there to help them understand what eating plant-based really means? How do you get flavor and variety into your cuisine?
Chef: Really the best way is to watch a few videos and see what inspires you. I get the flavor in there the same way lots of dishes get their flavor in there – a mixture of spices, proteins, fats, carbs, fiber, sweets and vegetables. I get the variety in there by making a little bit from many cultures. There are many ancient and modern vegan meats one can make or buy for very familiar flavors.

TrunkSpace: It can be particularly difficult to find vegan options when traveling or on tour in your case. What are your tips of helping forage decent vegan eats while on the road?
Chef: (Laughter) Just open your eyes (and maybe your phone). They are there all around you, even if it takes one ounce of thought instead of none. Fairly easy to find vegan options each and everywhere I have been.

TrunkSpace: We’re whacky about Halloween here at TrunkSpace, we’re guessing you are as well. What does a vegan metal chef hand out to trick or treaters?
Chef: I typically don’t live where many children are. Let’s be stereotypical though – I give them a raw Brussels sprout.

TrunkSpace: With the advancement of technology, a lot has changed in the food industry. Growing up, we don’t remember ever seeing vegan cheeses, hot dogs or even some of the produce that is available now in grocery stores currently. How do you think this has changed over time and what do you think is next in the future of plant-based diets?
Chef: It has changed in a huge way over time. Only in one direction though. The direction is always that the plant-based movement is always growing. Never shrinking. What is next in the future, is more. More of everything.

TrunkSpace: What do you find the biggest reward is for maintaining a vegan lifestyle?
Chef: The fact that hopefully the world sucks a little less and some animals were left alone that day.

TrunkSpace: What do you feel like the biggest challenge in eating a balanced vegan diet?
Chef: The biggest challenge is not finding amazing foods is the social conditioning of your friends, family and people around you. No one does complex math when they wake up to “figure out” how to get a balanced diet. You just eat. Also, don’t disguise an eating disorder as being vegan by only eating a small amount of salad in a day. You still must get enough calories.

TrunkSpace: For those home cooks out there or perhaps the aspiring chefs, if you could give them one tip, what would it be?
Chef: Experiment.

TrunkSpace: If the Monopoly guy showed up with a blank check one day and asked you to create your own Vegan restaurant, what would that look like?
Chef: It would be called “All the Things,” because that is what vegans always want to try. It would have a variety of different dishes, and you would get a bit of all or several of them.

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Sit and Spin

Stars’ Are You With Me?

StarsFeatured

Artist: Stars

Song Title: “Are You With Me?” (Get it  here tomorrow!)

Single Sentence Singles Review: An affecting six minutes from start to finish, future generations of graduates should cling to the deeply-felt emotion of it, name it their prom song, and let it serve as the soundtrack to their “Remember when…” memories for the rest of their adult lives.

Beyond The Track: The band is hitting the road throughout the fall. Check out the list of cities/dates here.

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Listen Up

Rich Jones

RichJonesFeatured
Photo By: Katie Levine

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Rich Jones, a prolific creative figure in the Chicago hip-hop scene, turned a series of personal hardships into the artistic fuel he needed to get his music career back on track. Setting a plan in motion, Jones left no stoned unturned, reconnecting with producer Ryan Lofty and exploring a more pop-infused aspect of his music. That eventually lead him on the path towards his latest album, “The Shoulder You Lean On,” which he is self-releasing tomorrow.

We recently sat down with Jones to discuss silver linings, creative rediscoveries snatched from the jaws of defeat, and how he has learned to trust in his abilities and not give into his fears.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in Chicago, which is a city rich in musical history. Does a city – a musical scene – directly influence an artist and how has Chicago influenced you?
Jones: From my experience, very much so. From the age of 14 on, I was very gung-ho about supporting what was happening locally, particularly in Chicago’s underground hip-hop community. I was enamored by not just the music but also the idea that the talent from my city merited the attention and accolades that a larger audience could provide even if the spotlight seemed to more often then not fall just short of us. The silver lining that comes from an environment like this is it puts the onus on rolling up your sleeves and doing things for yourself. I feel like pre-internet it manifested itself in a more dog eat dog sort of way, but I’m thrilled to say that this has changed immensely in recent years. People have begun to see the strength in collaborating and supporting one another, so it’s a very exciting time for us.

TrunkSpace: When you first set out to give life to “The Shoulder You Lean On,” what were your overall goals, and when you called wrap on the production, did you achieve those things you set out to do?
Jones: Initially, whether I was in LA with J. Kelr or was receiving production via email from him, I was mainly focused on creating a reservoir of records. Eventually, I realized that we actually had a project on our hands! From a creative/writing perspective, I wanted to earnestly address some of the changes that have happened the last few years – I’m older, slightly “wiser”, I’m a bit more settled then I was even a year ago, and most importantly, I’ve made great strides as a lyricist. I would say I achieved that with this album.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Jones: I’m proud of the fact that I feel like we crafted something that’s eclectic and truly reflective of where we are not only as artists but also as fans of music. Both of us have catalogs that initially were primarily rooted in hip-hop but we’ve branched out considerably over the years. This project tips its cap to our previous work while also acknowledging who we are now!

TrunkSpace: The album talks about the various paths that life can take, often heading in directions that we’ve never expected. Where has your life and career zigged when you intended it to zag?
Jones: I was seriously considering moving from Chicago four years ago to see how I might be received elsewhere. I’d spent some time in New York and was also looking into what living overseas might look like. That all ended when some unexpected financial hardships befell me out of the blue. I was pretty devastated. I’d been feeling a little stuck but now I felt I’d hit a very serious wall. After living in a daze for what felt like an eternity, it was time to make a plan and get things back on track. I did the only thing I knew how to do and threw myself into making records, calling in favors as I went. I also made a call to my friend Ryan Lofty, a producer who has had great success in sync/licensing, to see if he was open to bringing me in to work on music that we could pitch for placement. He enthusiastically said yes, thus beginning what would be the first of several sessions that would see us explore a more pop-oriented side to my music. This would eventually become the “VEGAS” EP, a project that would in many ways set me up for where I’m at today. From the jaws of defeat, I truly snagged the W.

TrunkSpace: When discussing topics through music, particularly those heavy life subjects, does that become a way for you yourself to process the many questions we (as humans) have on a day to day basis?
Jones: 100 percent. I’m very lucky that I’ve found a meaningful way to at the very least try to work through my shit so I don’t just feel totally lost all the time. And catharsis doesn’t just come from the act of making the song; it can also be from the dialogue the music generates, whether it challenges or supports the message at the heart of it all.

TrunkSpace: What aspect of songwriting do you enjoy the most and what do you struggle with? Where are you hardest on yourself in a creative capacity?
Jones: I love the moments where I know I’ve finally articulated something integral to my experience as a human and get even more excited by the prospect of other people being moved similarly. On a more light-hearted tip, I heavily appreciate people having fun with words. (A big reason I was so attracted to hip-hop in the 1st place.) My biggest struggle and the thing I’m hardest on myself is trying to find words that are unique without being overly complicated. I hate the idea of dumbing something I’m writing down too much, but I also don’t want to confuse people if I can avoid it.

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but we also love great lines – lyrical snippets that stick with you beyond the macro of a song or album. What is your favorite line from “The Shoulder You Lean On” and why?
Jones: Off of “Drone Kids,” I say, “I’m fighting hard to not feel paralyzed by the weight that I put in my stride/You see I’m fighting hard, for a piece of paradise and bad news don’t go down nice.” I’ve worked very hard over the years to earn my place in a highly competitive environment. Part of that was learning how to trust in my abilities as an artist and as a person and not play scared or give into my fears even in the face of adversity.

TrunkSpace: We started our chat by talking about Chicago and local music scenes. As a career progresses and a fan base grows, does it become difficult for a single city to support the music? Does it become a juggling act to nurture a career within a scene but not to over saturate?
Jones: It depends on where you are and what your goals are. I feel like in Chicago, there’s a higher level of diversity in our artistic communities then a lot of places. This means there are more groups of people to do your thing for and lessens the chance of over saturation since you have options! Where over saturation occurs is when you’re trying to appeal to the exact same group of people every time. Sure you might develop a die hard following, but unless you’re really mixing it up, enthusiasm can wain. For me, I’ve always felt inclined to explore what’s out there and to do my best to put myself in new spaces whenever possible. Even so, I have felt more pressure to be selective with the events I agree to perform at. If I’m on a bill, I want to be respectful of the opportunity and make sure I carry my weight on the promotional end.

TrunkSpace: You are very involved in the community and politics. Given how divided we are right now as a country, is one of the benefits of this period of social uncertainty that it is inspiring musicians and artists to say more? Are there more voices speaking up today than there were even five years ago?
Jones: Artists have been vocal about the issues plaguing this country long before what faces us now. If them speaking on the causes they’re passionate about inspires more people to challenge the status quo and push for a real transformation of this country and world, I’m all for it. It may be that more people are indeed sharing their opinions, but I do know that the platforms available to artists now allow for their opinions to be far more widely disseminated then five years ago.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the release, what’s next for you as we finish out 2018 and look forward to the new year?
Jones: I’m looking forward to hitting the road a little bit and getting back in the studio to make some more records/finish up some things I’ve put on hold while I’ve been getting “The Shoulder You Lean On” ready.

The Shoulder You Lean On” is available tomorrow.

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