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March 2019

Musical Mondaze

Teenage Bottlerocket

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Nearly two decades of life can seriously change a person, but for members of the long-running punk band Teenage Bottlerocket, the more things have changed the more they’ve stayed the same, at least in terms of their commitment to the music and each other. With their eighth studio album “Stay Rad!” recently released via Fat Wreck Chords, the Wyoming natives are full steam ahead without any sign of creative conclusions on the horizon.

We recently sat down with guitarist and frontman Ray Carlisle to discuss gas-filled vans, the band’s international reach, and why he’s fully prepared to smash the flux capacitor.

TrunkSpace: You guys are about to hit up a pretty relentless tour schedule that will take you all over the world. Does preparing for that much time – and that many stops – on the road take a different kind of mental focus than it did when you guys were first starting out nearly 20 years ago?
Carlisle: Absolutely. Some of us are married now. Some of us have kids now. Touring means being away from our families, so we got to get ready for that. We got to make sure to french kiss our wives/girlfriends extra long before we jump in the van. Thankfully, there’s FaceTime.

TrunkSpace: Nearly two decades is a long time to spend together. Are there still “firsts” out there for you guys or have you gotten to the point where you feel like you have seen, done and experienced it all in terms of the Teenage Bottlerocket experience?
Carlisle: There are definite firsts. Every show is a different thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same venue in the same city and it doesn’t matter if we’ve played there 15 times, it’s always different. We do tend to eat at the same restaurants. When we play the Otto Bar in Baltimore in June, we will definitely go eat at Captain James, and when we play Boston, we always eat at Boston Market. Not kidding.

TrunkSpace: Has the band stayed together for as long as it has because of your collective love for music, your love for Teenage Bottlerocket itself, or a combination of both? What is the secret sauce that has kept the band rolling?
Carlisle: We love playing music together; it’s as simple as that. We’ve had a couple of months off at this point, and we are totally anxious to get out there and play. I’m pretty sure everyone hates my farts. Miguel farted in the van once and I puked. About five minutes later I farted in the van and Miguel puked. Payback!

TrunkSpace: Our personal experiences can shape our creative points of view over time. Has your creative POV changed over the years and can you hear it directly influencing the band’s musical output if you were to listen back to previous albums? Are they like yearbooks of your life?
Carlisle: I can hear the transition between records as far as growth and learning new tricks. So, yes, I’d say our creative POV has changed, and yes, I hear it influencing the band’s music. We really spent a lot of time with the bass on “Stay Rad,” and I love that I can hear that on the album. It might not sound like it to everyone else, but I feel like we are more open to ideas and adding shit.

TrunkSpace: We mentioned the tour at the start of our chat. You’ll be going to Cape Town, Berlin, and San Diego, to name a few, all over the course of the spring. Do you still have moments where you sit back and go, “I’m able to make music and travel to South Africa to play it in front of a crowd!” Can it still be surreal, especially factoring in the international fans?
Carlisle: Of course! We feel fortunate to be able to get out there and do this. I have a shit ton of people writing to me and asking me to check out their bands. I get that, you write/record a song, and you want people to hear it. People take pride in that. There are a lot of people that would like to be where we are, and it’s attainable. We are from Wyoming for fuck’s sake. Anyone can do it! Fucking get it!

TrunkSpace: When you’re playing music internationally, does it make the world feel smaller? Here’s this thing that you’ve created, and people from different cultures, backgrounds and walks of life are all enjoying it as part of this universal language that came from your head.
Carlisle: Hmmm, not particularly. I mean, when we fly 17 ½ hours to Sydney, Australia from Dallas, Texas, the world does not seem small at all. But I hear what you’re asking. It’s pretty fucking rad that we release a song and a couple weeks later people are singing along with it in Belgium. Shit’s unreal.

TrunkSpace: “Stay Rad!” is your eighth studio album. When you listen to the album and compare it against what first came out of the practice room in the early days of Teenage Bottlerocket, where do you hear the biggest differences?
Carlisle: Mainly in the drums. When we recorded “Another Way” in 2003, we refused to put two kick drum hits between the snare hits. Just totally stripped down and not showing off. Let the songs sing for themselves sorta thing. Well, now we put one, two, or sometimes even three kick drum hits between snare hits. Fucking revolutionary!

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Carlisle: The songs. The songs turned out great; I like them. They’re the best part.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Carlisle: The Lakers played the Spurs on TNT, and they played “Welcome To The Nuthouse” during the halftime highlights. Marv Albert talked about our song. That ruled!

We played with The Replacements. I don’t think many people get to say that. We’ve been super lucky. We are grateful.

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?
Carlisle: No, it’s all about the work along the way. How can you appreciate something you don’t work for? It’s tempting – get a glimpse of some songs and get stoked – but nah, that’s a terrible idea. I’ll smash that fucking flux capacitor into 1000 pieces.

Stay Rad” is available now from Fat Wreck Chords.

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Wingman Wednesday

Joseph Gatt

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Highlighting one of his biggest roles to date, Joseph Gatt has been reveling in the build up to this Friday’s release of the live screen reimagining of “Dumbo.” Portraying Neils Skellig in the film, a South African big game hunter who works for Michael Keaton’s Vandevere, the London-born actor doesn’t only appear on screen with one of the greatest cinematic names of all time, but he does so by stealing the scenes he appears in. Not too shabby considering one of his costars is a flying elephant!

We recently sat down with Gatt to discuss his excitement for the project, the reason he thinks the film will be embraced by a multi-generational audience, and why working with Tim Burton was so empowering.

TrunkSpace: “Dumbo” is a huge film. It features a stacked cast and a director who is an icon in the industry, Tim Burton. You’ve been in the industry a long time, but is it hard not to get excited about being involved in a project of this size and scope, especially when the trailer hits and the reactions from the public start to trickle in?
Gatt: It’s impossible to not be excited for this movie. It’s one of my biggest movie roles to date and it’s in one of the most high profile movies I’ve worked on to date. It’s been in post-production for almost 15 months, so the anticipation is overflowing. I’ve seen clips when doing ADR and they all look fantastic. There’s something in this movie for everyone and I’m incredibly excited to see the joy it’s going to bring.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, does a part of you have to separate yourself emotionally from a project like this once you call wrap? In an industry where so much is out of your control, can that get magnified even more so when it’s on a film this large?
Gatt: Letting go is one of those things you learn to accept as an actor. Some find it easier than others. The best that one can do is their best job while the cameras are rolling and hope that the editor, director and producers keep it all in! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Obviously “Dumbo” is based on an iconic brand and character. Because of that, was there a sense on set that the way to handle the live action adaptation was with respect to everything that came before? How do you take a classic and give it the remake treatment without alienating those who fell in love with the original?
Gatt: Unlike many of the other Disney live action remakes, “Dumbo” is a new rendering of the original, rather than a remake. Ehren Kruger has written an incredibly clever and inclusive screenplay that maintains the basic story, character and heart of the original, but at the same time brings it totally up to date with wonderful human characters and modern philosophies, combining modern human ethics and socially conscious ideals. All of this is done while still being set in the early 1900s and all looking very beautiful and Tim Burton indeed. I personally think this version will be much better than the original. I know that some might consider that sacrilege to say, but the human elements and the fact that it’s set in a very real world, will make it much more accessible to modern audiences, especially children.

TrunkSpace: Your character has one of the best cinematic names of all time, Neils Skellig. What did you like about this guy when you first read for him that made you go, “Okay, I can see me bringing this guy to life and I’m the right person for the role?”
Gatt: Ha! Yep. Too right! As soon as I read the script I knew this was going to be a fun role. Actually, a fun challenge. I had to learn a South African accent for the role. I’ve done many different accents for roles over the years, but this was a first. Also, Skellig basically stands for everything that I am totally against. His principals and motivations are the total opposite to mine. He’s a bully and hates animals. Animals to him (and people) are simply a means to an end. Props to get something done. And when that thing is done… the “prop” is discarded… and not in the most pleasant ways. Occasionally those discarded props become other useful objects to him, like clothing. I think the last time I played someone this sociopathic or hateful was playing The Albino in “Banshee.” Like in that instance, I had to find some way to like or connect with Skellig. I connected with his passion and his military fastidiousness and addiction to doing things perfectly right. Luckily for me (but not the world as a whole) there are many people in the world as hateful as Skellig, so doing the research was a matter of some Google searching and watching YouTube videos. The other wonderful thing was that Tim wanted all of the human characters played very real and grounded. Nothing over the top or superficial. Everything was to come from a real place. I loved creating this guy.

TrunkSpace: We mentioned already that Tim Burton directed the film. What’s a note or piece of advice that he gave you during the shoot that you’ll carry with you throughout the rest of your career?
Gatt: There wasn’t a single thing he said or did. It was the overall experience. Tim is a true artist. He paints his movies. Every detail matters to him so much. He does his work with the utmost grace and respect for all of his family. By “family,” I mean the whole cast and crew. He’s like a guiding father figure. I never heard him raise his voice to anyone, even in some very stressful moments. He trusts his actors to make the right choices and then directs with suggestion rather than orders. He is always open to discussion and you leave set every day feeling like you’ve been an important and collaborative part of the creative process. If I had to use a single word to describe working with Tim, it would be “empowering.”

Gatt in Dumbo with Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Douglas Reith, Eva Green, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins

TrunkSpace: We’re nearing the premiere date for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” As someone who has made a stop on that series, is it special for you to have been even a small part of that world given the impact it has had on people and pop culture? Where does it rank among your career highlights?
Gatt: I have been a fan of GoT since it began and was so excited when Dan (Weiss) & Dave (Benioff) invited me to be on the show. It didn’t quite work out exactly as planned, since the role was changed drastically last minute due to major script revisions, but it was still a tremendous experience. It was an amazing cast and crew and we had a lot of fun in Iceland and Northern Ireland.

TrunkSpace: You also starred as The Man on the series “Z Nation,” which is a show with a very loyal fan base. As an actor, what is it like getting to work on a series that stretches beyond casual viewership and has a group of people invested in where the story and characters are going?
Gatt: I’ve had this experience before with “Banshee” and “Teen Wolf.” It’s pretty amazing when the fans are so invested in the show and characters. It’s almost like doing theater, where the connection is so immediate and visceral, and you know exactly how they feel about you right away. Nothing withheld. It’s also incredibly fun and the fans are very interactive. They partake in the live tweeting the cast does for each episode and almost guide the writers to make certain choices regarding characters. The Man was a tough push with the fans because I was going up against their favorite and beloved characters. After a while they started to love The Man. I think it was because I worked really hard to give them a fully rendered three-dimensional character with real motives and feelings instead of a simple bad guy. It had the audiences torn between loving and hating The Man! In fact, the audiences liked the character so much by the end of the season that there was a bit of a social media outcry when he didn’t return for the following season.

TrunkSpace: That is also a show where it seems ANYTHING is possible. What is the craziest on-camera moment that you found The Man in where you couldn’t help but say to yourself, “Well, I never envisioned this for my career…”?
Gatt: I’ve done some pretty crazy stuff on camera during my career, but eating brains probably tops the strangest! Yep, never thought I’d being doing that one, but I guess it was inevitable. Especially since I escaped being turned into a zombie! The funniest part was having the director demonstrate the correct way to eat brains. There is photographic evidence of this hilarious moment. I can tell you it was not pleasant. The “brains” were made from a gelatin substance covered very liberally is red corn syrup. I was directed to take a very large bite, which had me almost gagging as we shot the scene. It’s not something I’m excited to do again, but it made for some very entertaining viewing.

Gatt as The Man in Z Nation. Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer

TrunkSpace: You also do a ton of voice acting, particularly for video games. Do you take a different approach to voice acting than you do with on-camera work? Where do the two differ most for you?
Gatt: I love voice acting. The beauty of voice acting is you can get to play multiple roles on one title. I think I’ve done about 15 roles on The Elder Scrolls Online, all varied voices and accents. It’s also given me a chance to play a Sith Lord. Not just a regular Sith Lord, a romanceable Sith Lord. Lord Scourge (from “Star Wars: The Old Republic”) was such a hit with the players that they wanted to make him a romanceable character, so I had to go into the studio and do a session with Scourge making out with people and saying romantic lines of dialogue.

My approach to voice acting is very similar to my on camera work. I move around a lot and encompass the physicality of the role as much as possible. The only difference is that I can roll into the studio in my PJs or gym sweats and don’t have to do my hair. (Laughter)

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?
Gatt: Nope. No good can come of it. Because either you’re going to see a wonderful life and then spend your whole life trying to make the right decisions to reach that point, or it’ll be horrible, and you’ll spend your whole life trying to avoid it. Either way, you’ll be missing the best part. The journey. That’s where the gold is. And there’s no point if you keep looking for the end of the tunnel and miss all of the adventure on route!

Dumbo” flies into theaters this Friday.

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Sit and Spin

Jaret & Kelly’s Sittin’ In A Tree

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Artist: Jaret & Kelly

Album: “Sittin’ In A Tree”

Label: Whiskey Joe Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: The musical marriage of Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick and The Dollyrots’ Kelly Ogden is a fist pumping, foot tapping union that builds on their real-world friendship with indelible hooks and perfectly-synced singalong melodies. You could try playing “Sittin’ In A Tree” quietly, streaming it as background music, but you’d fail. This is an album that was built to be enjoyed at maximum volume!

What The Album Tells Us About Them: With their musical roots set firmly in the soil of pop punk, the dynamic duo still manages to branch out, mixing genres and influences seamlessly, whether its the alt-country flare of “Daddy’s Girl” or the ‘80s inspired “That Night.” You can hear that both the past and present has impacted their music, but more importantly, you can feel it.

Track Stuck On Repeat: “Neither one of us is perfect, but we’re both pretty fucking awesome.” That’s a line from “Something I’m Not,” a song that rocks on multiple layers and has you revisiting it many times over as part of your musical dissection. Like the line referenced above, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty fucking awesome.

And that means…

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Wingman Wednesday

Dallas Liu

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

An accomplished martial arts competitor in the discipline of Japanese Shotokan, Dallas Liu is an athlete-turned-actor who is familiar with having all eyes on him. Born and raised in Los Angeles, a city steeped in the entertainment business, the teenager hopes that his recurring role in the new Hulu series “PEN15,” which is executive produced by Andy Samberg, is just the beginning in a long and illustrious career. Given his memorable turn as protective older brother Shuji Ishii-Peters in the comedy, we’re not betting against the thespian who is used to outperforming the competition.

We recently sat down with Liu to discuss identifying with his role as an older brother, basking in the on-set creativity of the series,  and what he sometimes finds himself doing at all hours of the night.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “PEN15” is executive produced by Andy Samberg, who seems to strike comedy gold with every project that he has a creative hand in these days. Do you feel like your involvement in this new series is a bit of a career game changer given how high profile it is?
Liu: Absolutely. I hope that this project will open up many more opportunities for myself because I really do enjoy acting and I would like to continue working on amazing projects like “PEN15.”

TrunkSpace: If “PEN15” became a smash hit – the show that everyone was talking about – and suddenly you were thrust into the public spotlight, would you be comfortable with that sort of overnight change of pace? Is that something you can even prepare for as a human being, never mind as an actor?
Liu: I actually think I would be comfortable in a situation like that. My family and friends have always been my support system, so as long as I have them, I think I’ll be okay. Preparing for that wouldn’t be too much of a struggle for me personally because I’ve had experience before where all eyes are on you, but as far as preparing for it as an actor, I think it would be a lot tougher to handle because the pressure would be so intense. I want to be a very successful actor, so the fact that everyone is watching your every move, whether be in a film or in your personal life and how it could affect your career immensely, is what would make me nervous.

TrunkSpace: As someone who has been directly involved in series, what do you think are its strengths – those things that will engage an audience and keep them bingeing through the first season?
Liu: I think a strength would be how well the series can execute the relationships between the characters. Anna and Maya’s friendship is a great thing to watch because the audience sees the ups and downs of their relationship. This can also be seen with Shuji and Maya when he is constantly teasing her but also shows his support for her when she needs it.

TrunkSpace: What kept you personally engaged in the character Shuji? What was it about him that sparked you creatively and made you excited to go to work every day?
Liu: I was engaged with playing Shuji because I could relate to the character so well. My personal experiences being an older brother and protecting my younger brother were very similar to Shuji’s. Shuji’s overall mindset of being a tough guy while being a protective sibling was the main part that made me enjoy playing this role.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the final product is always what’s memorable when it comes to a film or series, but for those working on the project, we have to imagine that it is the experience that stays with you. For you, what was the most memorable aspect of getting to work on “PEN15” thus far?
Liu: The most memorable part of working on this show for me was seeing how creative the directors, writers and actors were on set. They did so many different takes of the ideas they had and added multiple improv takes just for one scene. It was amazing to see them in person come up with all these ideas on the spot that it definitely makes me want to work on the comedy aspect of my acting.

TrunkSpace: The entire first season dropped on Hulu all at once. As an actor, is that exciting to have all of your work in any given season available to an audience at one time? Does the binge model appeal to you as someone who is directly involved in a bingeing project?
Liu: Yes, as an actor I think it’s awesome that Hulu dropped the whole season. The binge model does appeal to me because I am someone that stays up all night binge watching TV shows.

Photo By: The Riker Brothers

TrunkSpace: With so many networks and streaming platforms, has more work become available to actors within the last few years? Are you finding yourself going out on more auditions than ever before due to the amount of content being created across all distribution outlets?
Liu: There have been a lot more opportunities for actors now because of the streaming platforms and I have been finding myself going on auditions for many more different networks and platforms than before.

TrunkSpace: You’re still very early in your career but what has been a highlight thus far that you’ll carry with you moving forward?
Liu: A highlight that I’ll be carrying with me moving forward is just getting to film with Maya (Erskine) and Anna (Konkle) for “PEN15.” They’re such amazing actors and watching them in person and seeing their creativity was truly an experience that I won’t forget.

TrunkSpace: You recently wrote a “Career Dispatch” column for Backstage. In it you said that one piece of advice you would give to your younger self would be to not get wrapped up in what other actors are doing. With that said, is it difficult to not compare your career to others given that so much self-promoting goes on in the social media age? Is it easy to get hung up on the successes of your peers, and in doing so, maybe not give as much credit to your own successes?
Liu: I think that social media has a huge part in why actors get hung up on the successes of their peers. I feel like in this day and age, it’s easy to ignore what you’ve accomplished because everyone else is boasting about their successes online.

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?
Liu: I would definitely take that road because I really do enjoy acting. This is something that I want to continue doing for as long as possible.

The first season of “PEN15” is available now on Hulu.

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Trunk Stubs

The Dirt

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Title: The Dirt

Rated: R

Genre: Biopic/Drama

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Directed By: Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Machine Gun Kelly, Douglas Booth, Daniel Webber, Iwan Rheon, Levan Rambin, Pete Davidson, Tony Cavalero, David Costabile, Rebekah Graf

Reason We’re Watching It: This one’s easy. We grew up in the ‘80s. Mötley Crüe is part of the soundtrack to our impressionable pop culture-inspired lives, so naturally we’d be interested in learning more about how that soundtrack came to fruition.

What It’s All About: From humble (and dysfunctional) beginnings to superstardom, this Netflix biopic is the feature film adaptation of the best-selling Mötley Crüe biography of the same name. While it shows the ups of rock ‘n’ roll fame, mostly it focuses on the downs, which plagued the band member’s personal lives. From addiction to loss, no one inside the band was immune, and while they have since retired from the stage, the four musical misfits found a family among themselves and will forever be a part of the mainstream musical tapestry.

One big area where the filmmakers missed an opportunity was including more of the band’s iconic songs throughout the course of the film. Unlike “Bohemian Rhapsody” which made the tunes a marquee-sharing costar, many of the Crüe’s hits were left on the editing room floor. You can’t get pumped when there’s no track to pump your first to.

Whoah! Rewind That!: The urban legends surrounding Ozzy Osbourne seem limitless, but seeing him onscreen – or at least Tony Cavelero portraying him – sniffing live ants off of concrete is worth a second “Oh no he didn’t” viewing.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: “Game of Thrones” fans will recognize the actor who plays Mick Mars as Iwan Rheon, otherwise known as the most evil onscreen SOB ever to be eaten by a pack of hungry dogs, Ramsay Bolton.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Musical Mondaze

The Church

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With a tour to mark the 30th anniversary of the “Starfish” album already underway, Australian alt-rockers The Church are returning to the States this spring to play the record live in its entirety, along with a selection of tracks spanning their 26-album musical journey to date.

We recently sat down with frontman Steve Kilbey to discuss the lasting effects of “Starfish” on the fan base, why the band has flourished creatively for over three decades, and the area that they are better at than ever before.

TrunkSpace: You guys are currently touring the highways and byways for the Starfish 30th Anniversary Tour. In your wildest dreams could you have ever imagined that the album would still be leaving an impact on people three decades after its release?
Kilbey: No, I thought it would just be an ephemeral thing. People would have laughed at the time if I said that this album would still be being listened to in 2019, but it’s a wonderful surprise that it indeed is!

TrunkSpace: Based on where the band was creatively in those days… would those guys be surprised by what The Church future looked like? Would anything you’ve done musically feel like a departure to the band 1988?
Kilbey: No, I think we’ve pretty much go on doing what we were good at doing, i.e. being The Church – except that we are a much better live band nowadays.

TrunkSpace: The Church has been together since 1980. With so much writing, recording and touring under your belts, are there still firsts for you? Do you still experience new things collectively as a band?
Kilbey: There are always still “firsts” – good firsts and bad firsts. We don’t do much collective experiencing however. We’ve never really been that kind of band.

TrunkSpace: Are there things that you enjoyed 30 years ago with the band that you don’t necessarily have the same love for today? For example, is touring a different experience now? Does life alter your in-band POV?
Kilbey: I love touring much more now than ever before. It’s more rewarding because we’re just so much more accomplished.

Yes, life does alter things. It all goes in the mix.

TrunkSpace: What do you get working in a band atmosphere that you wouldn’t be able to achieve as a solo artist? Does effort inspire effort in the process, and by that we mean, does one person’s eureka moment inspire the others?
Kilbey: Being a musician is always about playing with others and always will be IMHFO. Yes, we are all turned on and off by what each other is playing – that’s what it is. We are an ensemble.

TrunkSpace: By our count, you’ve released 26 albums. For most bands, six albums is a feat. What has been the key to your creative success? Where do you look for inspiration after almost 40 years together?
Kilbey: We just got lucky with the longevity thing. We still like playing together. Inspiration is everywhere for me. Everywhere I look I see it. I hear words, sounds and I apprehend feelings – all grist for the song mill.

TrunkSpace: For you personally, what’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Kilbey: Opera House, 2011, with a 70 piece orchestra.

TrunkSpace: What do you get as a creator of music that you can’t achieve as a listener alone? What keeps you active in music beyond a spectator?
Kilbey: It’s just what I do. I have to keep playing. It’s my vocation.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Kilbey: Nah. I like the future to be a mystery. I like the way it all unfolds.

The Starfish 30th Anniversary USA Tour kicks off April 11 at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, MI. For a full list of dates, click here.

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Opening Act

Bella Dose

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Artist: Bella Dose

Socials: Instagram/Twitter/Facebook

Hometown: Miami, FL

TrunkSpace: When Bella Dose first came together to create music, what was the initial goal and has that goal morphed and grown since those earliest days of the group?
Bella Dose: The initial goal was to first find our sound and figure out who we are in terms of music. Through trial and error, we were able to discover and craft a unique

global sound that caters to a universal audience.

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise on this musical journey thus far for each of you? What is something that has occurred as a result of your music that you could have never planned for?
Bella Dose: The biggest surprise on this musical journey thus far for each of us has been our strong sisterhood and bond that we’ve developed. We’ve become one with ourselves and our music. Also, the amount of love and support we’ve received in such a short amount of time as a result of our music is definitely something we could’ve never planned for.

TrunkSpace: Is there something artistically inspiring about working together as a group that you couldn’t achieve as a solo artist? Does creativity inspire creativity… and by that we mean, do you feed off of each other in the quest to create and entertain?
Bella Dose: There is definitely something artistically inspiring about working together as a group because we are able to share our own individual ideas that have the ability to come together and fit like puzzle pieces. We always feed off of each other’s energy, which we feel is a very important part of being in a group. We are always open to listening to each other and work as a team, which is what we hope to portray through our music.

TrunkSpace: Often times pop groups get labeled as “manufactured” artists and aren’t known for writing their own music, but you four do exactly that. Can you walk us through what your writing process looks like and how a track goes from inception to completion?
Bella Dose: Our writing process starts off by creating a concept that we’ve all been through so that others can relate. We inform the producer of our concept and the beat is created around what we’re feeling. We then brainstorm melodies and add on lyrics to finish off the song.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the music itself, what do you enjoy most about being a part of Bella Dose? Is it shooting the videos? Is it performing live? Something else entirely?
Bella Dose: What we enjoy most about being a part of Bella Dose is honestly every aspect of it. From shooting videos to live performances to meet and greets to traveling the world, everything we do plays a role in this journey and how far we’ve come!

TrunkSpace: Having a visual brand is such a big part of music these days. How would you describe the Bella Dose visual brand in just a few words?
Bella Dose: We would describe the Bella Dose visual brand as fun, trendy, cultural and chic!

Courtesy of International Hub Records

TrunkSpace: You’re all from Florida. Does a location impact a band or the music they produce, and if so, how have the towns and neighborhoods you grew up in directly impacted your creative POV?
Bella Dose: Being from South Florida, the towns and neighborhoods we grew up in have definitely impacted our creative point of view because we are surrounded by our Latin culture. We always want to incorporate our culture within our music and we have a lot of pride in our Hispanic roots and being where we’re from.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Bella Dose: Never! Music is always something we include in our day-to-day activities. Even if we weren’t artists we would make sure to be a part of the music industry somehow.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as artists?
Bella Dose: We are hardest on ourselves when it comes to vocal arrangements. When we sing live we want to make sure every harmony blends with one another and deliver the song to the best of our abilities. When it comes to videotaping a cappellas, we will not stop until we feel we’ve delivered perfectly. Which means we will do 30,000 takes if we have to in order to get the best one! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Finally, if we were to sit down with you again one year from now, what do you hope we’d be talking about? In other words, what would you like Bella Dose to accomplish in the next 365 days?
Bella Dose: A year from now, we hope to have at least one song appear on the Billboard Top 100 Chart! We hope to go on our own tour, and have performed at major events!

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Musical Mondaze

Driftwood

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With their new album “Tree Of Shade” set to be released on April 5, we’re catching up with TrunkSpace alumni Driftwood to discuss the various changes that have taken place within the band since we first chatted back in 2017.

Their latest single, “Lay Like You Do” is available now.

We recently sat down with Joe Kollar (banjo/guitar) to discuss marching to the beat of a different drummer, finding creative freedom in expanding their team, and what recording “Tree Of Shade” taught him about tinkering.

TrunkSpace: We first profiled the band back in 2017. Where do you think Driftwood has changed the most since then?
Kollar: Well, leaps and bounds. Sonically there’s been a big shift. I think having a management team now has sort of shifted things. I think the writing has developed. I think the performance… me not being the primary drummer, now we have a drummer… that alone is a big change. But, beyond that, because we have a drummer it allows other songs to be available to us that we used to sort of shy away from in the live scenario. I’m able to play instruments that I actually play, like not the drums. (Laughter) I actually play guitars and stuff, which is what I grew up playing. I could get by on the drums, but I certainly don’t call myself a drummer.

But, overall? Everything.

TrunkSpace: Bringing in a drummer and allowing you to focus on those other instruments, does that impact the songwriting directly as well?
Kollar: Yeah, it has. I don’t know that it showed up on this last record, because I did all the drum work on there, and we wrote songs with the band in mind. But, now there’s a handful of new tunes that are coming out, that we’re playing on the stage, that’s definitely… it’s crazy. It’s wild how much it changes and shifts what I do. I don’t even have to play, really, which is just wild. It used to be me standing on one leg beating this kick, singing and playing banjo, and being this rhythmic component – this heartbeat element. But now, sometimes I just stand there and dance. I don’t do anything. And I’m like, “This is crazy.” But, it’s entered my mind now, and I’ve been writing a little differently, and playing parts that are more conducive to having somebody else sort of driving the bus where I’m free to decorate, or paint in a different way sonically.

So, yeah, it’s started. We’re just now embracing the drums as the heartbeat, and writing around that. At least in my mind… I can’t speak for everyone. But, yeah, there’s a handful of new tunes that I’m really proud of, that I think are really fun. We probably should be playing stuff off of “Tree Of Shade,” but we’re already beyond that. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: That must be tough creatively, as songwriters, because you never stop writing, and yet, here you are having to nurture a particular batch of songs that, while are the listeners present, are actually a part of your past.
Kollar: Definitely. That’s the hardest thing for me on anything. They’re old to me. They’re new to everybody else, but I’m past it. Everyone in the band is always like, “Come on, Joe. We’ve got to do this song.” It’s like, “Oh, man. That was so last year, man.” (Laughter) But it’s okay. It’s good. It’s a healthy balance.

Photo By: Jacklyn Dyer

TrunkSpace: When you finish a song, can it sometimes be difficult to let go and relinquish control over it by way of releasing it out into the world?
Kollar: It is in the business sense of the idea. I’m sort of shifting in my own mentality to where there is all the ducks in a row – you have to get the publicist on board, and you have to get the artwork – there’s all these steps to putting out a record. You have to build buzz, and you get all this stuff happening on your socials, and blah, blah, blah. And I’m just sort of distancing myself from that, which is kind of nice because we have the management team, and we have some people in place that are sort of taking that role. It’s nice, because I’m caring less and less about it, basically. In other words, I just want to write, and put music out, and the faster that can happen – the more efficiently that can happen – I think the deeper the music is, and the better it is, really.

We haven’t gotten there yet. This one’s been taking a long time, but there’s a lot of new things to this record. It was the first time with a producer. It was the first time that we demoed songs. We’ve never done that. It’s always been just, “Bring the song to the table, let’s record it and that’s going on the record.” This time it was like, “Let’s each of us demo 15 songs and then we’ll have somebody else pick the best, or whatever they think fits together.” So, that whole process has changed for sure, and I think we’re still adjusting to management, and adjusting to the hoops and things you have to do to put music out. But, I’m trying to come to terms more and more with just having something that’s really close to me, recording it, and just putting it out without really too much. You know, I think it’s so acceptable now, and it’s so easy to do, that it’s kind of like, “Why make it more difficult?” But, I understand. I get that you’ve got to build the buzz, and momentum, and get people talking about you… try to make the biggest impact you can. I understand all that, but it’s not as conducive for creativity in my mind. And this is where I’m living.

TrunkSpace: There does seem to be a turn in the industry where it’s almost starting to feel like the 1950s in that artists are more likely to release singles now rather than full records.
Kollar: Right. Yeah, I love that. I think that’s so advantageous to the creative world. The more you spend time doing that in that space, the more proficient, and the better it gets. I’m all about that. We haven’t gotten there yet, though. This album, I mean, it’s been recorded for a year. It’s just now happening, but for good reason.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Tree Of Shade” now that it’s finally making its way out into the world?
Kollar: Well, primarily just the course of recording it. Like I said, we demoed things out, so that was a first. And that was a fun process, and a really useful one for me. I just really got into recording, and some of my demos ended up being on the record, and we just sort of fleshed them out. Actually a handful of them. And then the efficiency in which we did it. We recorded the whole thing in 10 days, sort of the bones and the guts of the thing, and then just added a couple little things here and there. So, I’d say, it’s about a 12 day record, and that is unheard of. In Driftwood world it’s usually like a year process. That’s just how long it seems to take. We have a really rigorous tour schedule, so it’s not like we’re on and off, and when we’re home, we’re sort of nested and in the studio for a certain amount of time. So, I’m really proud that it only took that long for us to do. And with the help of the producer and engineer, I mean, that was certainly a big part of that, I think. That’s really been the biggest difference for this record.

TrunkSpace: Was it creatively inspiring to block those 10 days away and just say, “Let’s focus on the album and nothing else?”
Kollar: Definitely. It was kind of scary, honestly, just because of our track record. I was like, “There’s no way!” It usually takes us a year, and we’re condensing it into 10 days. It was more nerve wracking than anything. But there’s something that comes out of that, too – being a little nervous. And then, about half way through I think we found our rhythm, and sort of got an idea with how… because there was a lot of new things being introduced with the producer and stuff. It was kind of scary. It’s a really intimate thing to lay out in front of someone like that, and put these songs out, and try to sing and play with other people’s ears in the room. It’s just a different experience altogether. But, creatively it was amazing. And I’ve learned so much from that ever since. I’ve been a lot more fruitful in my writing, and my making of music, just because I’m realizing the closer you can get to that original inspiration the faster you can get it out, the more connected it is with that original seed of an idea. And for me, as an artist, that seems to be the most potent version of things.

I used to like to tinker with things, but the issue with that is I have songs that are 10 years old that nobody’s ever heard, that I’m still tinkering with. And it’s not really conducive to producing music. So, that’s what this experience has definitely taught me is just kind of to get in that zone – a couple of takes of something, and that’s it. And that’s hugely changed my course.

Tree Of Shade” drops April 5.

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Wingman Wednesday

Tammy Gillis

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Photo By: Kyrani Kanavanos

As a star of the popular Freeform series “Siren,” Tammy Gillis was ecstatic to discover that the fantastical mermaid drama was greenlit for a second season. Not only was she eager to explore where the narrative would take her character Deputy Marissa Staub, but she was also excited to return to her on-set family, which includes Eline Powell, Alex Roe, Ian Verdun and many others. With Season 2 currently airing every Thursday, we recently sat down with Gillis to discuss finding her footing heading into the latest story arc, engaging with fans on a weekly basis, and embracing the creativity of the show.

TrunkSpace: Like many series today, “Siren” was shrouded in secrecy heading into Season 2 and an alert would be sounded should any accidental spoilers take place. Does that make this part of your job difficult… promoting a show where the who, what, where and whys need to stay a bit vague? Because honestly, if it was us, we’d be living in fear of saying the wrong thing!
Gillis: It definitely makes it challenging. I always stop and think about it for a second. I don’t want to give any spoilers!

TrunkSpace: With all that said… what can you tell us about what excited YOU the most when you learned “Siren” would be getting a second season and you’d be returning to set?
Gillis: So many things! To see where the story goes. To see where Marissa’s story goes. Does Marissa get a love interest? (Laughter) And most definitely, to work with everyone again! I keep saying it but we are really lucky to have such an amazing cast and crew that have become like family.

TrunkSpace: We read that you went back and watched Season 1 before diving back into your character Marissa. From a character’s arc standpoint, how important was that to you in order to find your Marissa sea legs and where she begins her Season 2 journey?
Gillis: It was so important because I needed to be very clear on what I knew and what Marissa knew. I also created more of a backstory for her so I could add in a bit more of a personal story with her and the other characters.

TrunkSpace: What have you enjoyed the most about getting to explore a character like Marissa over an extended period of time? Does it keep things interesting to learn new things about her as the writer’s explore her relationship within the universe more?
Gillis: I love when the writers add in more information for Marissa. It lets me explore more of my creativity and see how I can weave the new information in with the choices I’ve made.

TrunkSpace: We’re curious, from the first moment you read for Marissa to where we see her today on screen in Season 2, did she change within that span, either because of creative choices behind the scenes or as a character who is simply growing within the story itself?
Gillis: I definitely think she is changing based on the story itself as well as some choices I’ve made. This season she is being forced to step up to a new responsibility – a new authority so that changes my interactions with the other characters. By creating more of a backstory to each of the relationships with them, it gives some conflict with having to carry that new authority.

TrunkSpace: “Siren” is becoming a rarity in that, it’s a series that airs a new episode every week. As a performer, does that prolong the experience for you on the back end of shooting something, as opposed to having it all released at once for the binge-hungry masses?
Gillis: It makes it more fun to engage with the fans. Being able to Live Tweet with them when the episodes are airing is so fun. We love seeing/hearing their reactions. If it was released all at once, we would miss out on that. I’ve been on other series where it was released all at once and you really had no idea if people were watching it or not.

TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of empowering… even subconsciously so… about getting to don a deputy uniform? We’d imagine it’s pretty difficult not to walk the walk or talk the talk from time to time, especially when you catch a glimpse of yourself in all of your authority-figure glory!
Gillis: There absolutely is. Even though it’s just a costume, it feels different and people do treat you differently. When I have the gun belt on, it forces me to carry myself in a different way. I love that costumes can do that for you.

Gillis in “Siren”

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the end product is always what’s memorable, but for you, we would think the experience of shooting “Siren” would be more important than the final cut. With that being said, what’s been the most memorable aspect of your journey on the series thus far?
Gillis: I love working on set. It is such a collaborative, creative experience and I find that I learn so much from show to show, episode to episode. “Siren” is such a creative show and every episode I love seeing how they are going to tell the story and what the other actors are going to do. There are so many memorable moments but one thing I am very grateful for is Gil Birmingham, who plays Sheriff Dale. He is such a powerhouse of an actor and such a generous, kind man.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in a town of 800 people. When you dreamed of a career in the arts, did it seem attainable in those early days, especially coming from such a small town?
Gillis: Definitely not. I’d never met an actor or even dreamt of the possibility of becoming one because I just hadn’t experienced it.

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?
Gillis: No. I like not knowing where the road will lead. There is more possibility in it.

Siren” airs Thursdays on Freeform.

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