Interviews

Mollie Marriott Interview

Mollie Marriott is a renaissance woman. Her excellence in music is a given to anyone who has ever heard her single “Control”, but the many aspects of her life that don’t take center stage make her the artist that she is. After years of singing backup, she is finally taking center stage in her new album Truth Is A Wolf, set to be released on November 3rd, 2017. Blues Rock Review caught up with her to chat about the album, live shows, the songs, and her colorful life that inspires it all.

You’re a rockstar. That’s the dream. Was there ever another dream?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a storm chaser. After watching Twister. Remember that movie? I was absolutely obsessed with that movie, and funny enough, I showed my daughter that movie last week, and now she is obsessed with it. That was my dream, until about 15, 16, and then it was kind of a given what I was going to do. I’ve tried everything. I had a hiatus from the music industry for a couple of years. I did everything like makeup courses, hair courses, I was a dental nurse for a while, all of these different things, and I was ok at them all, but I was nowhere near as passionate about any of it as I was about music.

What’s your escape?

My escape is two things. It’s walking, I will hike for miles happily and just disappear for the day. It’s quite a Marriott thing though, my brother and sister are the same, or ice skating. I absolutely love it, and I completely disappear in my thoughts. It’s wonderful.

What’s your songwriting process like?

For me it’s always melody first, always, and I will let the melody build and build and build in my head, and if I’ve still got it weeks later, I’ll pay attention to it. I’m a believer that if it’s not an earworm for me, it’s not going to be for anybody else. I’m not somebody who can write a song a day, I just can’t do that. It can take me months sometimes to finish a song. I love collaborating with other people. I really do, especially because I don’t have much confidence in myself, so people like Sam or Judie Tzuke, Judie is very telepathic with me, she knows what I’m trying to say, she’ll bring it out of me and be like, you know what, if that’s what you want to say, say it. I like having that collaboration. It’s a really cool thing. There are some songs, especially on the deluxe version, that I felt I had to write on my own. There’s one called “Gravity” on the deluxe album, where I remember sending it to Judie Tzuke, and she was like I think this is for you, because I can’t latch onto it, you’ve got to write it. And it took me three months. There’s so much noise, and I remember when I finished the album, I had no noise in my head for months, and I’ve got to be honest, it was so nice. It was the most peaceful head. It was really lovely. And then about 5 months ago, the noise started building again and I was like oh no! Here we go! It’s that time again. I’ve been writing again for the next album. It’s quite exciting.

What can we expect for the next album?

I think it’s going to be a bit rockier. I think Truth Is A Wolf is more an album of interreflection, and I think the next one will be a bit more aggressive, in the sense of, what I have realized in my interreflection, which is all of the problems that I went through with Truth Is A Wolf, weren’t entirely my fault. So it will probably be an album of fuck you. That’s the truth! I don’t want to put myself in a box. I want to write and see what happens, and hopefully, it will just naturally flow into something.

How do you like the tour life?

I love it, but my band makes me laugh so much, and I had such a sore throat throughout the tour, and it wasn’t even from the singing, it was from laughing. You know that belly laugh that you pray that no guy that you’re dating ever hears? It’s like the most horrific dirty laugh, and that’s what they make me do.

And the travel?

I love it! It’s true what northerners say, “oh Londoners think there’s nothing outside of London”, and you do get lost in that bubble, so when you’re traveling up and down the country it’s so cool to see how northerners are always way more rowdy in the crowd. Really rowdy. Especially Scotland. They’re so up for it, whereas south England is quite reserved. You’re on stage wondering are they liking this? Are they enjoying this? I don’t know. And by the end when you finish your set, they’re noisy. It’s really weird, but it’s a really cool thing. I love England so much, I love driving through and seeing the landmarks and the countryside. I do love it.

Can you talk about the musical you are working on, All Or Nothing?

The musical is based on the Small Faces, which my dad was in, and it’s about his time in the band, their rise, and their demise. They were so huge over here. So I’ve been the vocal coach for this show. It’s been fantastic, it’s on it’s third tour now, which is wonderful, and hopefully we’ll be in the West End next year.

You’ve been working on the album for 3 years. By some standards that’s no time at all, by others, that’s a lifetime. How was this process for you?

It was very frustrating. When I was signed four years ago, I had one or two songs. I was transitioning from a backing vocalist to a lead singer, and they were like we’re signing you on your voice, and I said I will accept that deal, as long as I can write my own songs. They let me have free range with it, but when it came to the recording the producer I had at the time and I weren’t really on the same page, and it wasn’t his fault, it was because I was still discovering who I was as an artist, so he did the best with what he thought, and I at the time didn’t want to be a diva or seem ungrateful and tell him, no that’s not what I want. When it came to the release of the album, I suddenly went, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to release this. I said I’ve got a friend of mine that I’ve known for fifteen years, his name is Stan Kybert and he has produced all of Paul Weller’s for the last 10 years, and did Oasis, and I said I want to work with him and I want to redo this album, so they let me do it. It was frustrating, but now when I listen to it, it’s exactly how I heard it in my head. When I write, I can hear the whole production in my head, and it’s really frustrating because I can’t get it out, I’m not good on the production side, if I were to make a demo by myself. I’ve been really lucky with Stan and my best friend Sam Tanner, who I’ve written most of the songs with. We have this incredible connection where they can hear what I’m hearing, without me even having to tell them, and 9 times out of 10 they get it right. It’s the most amazing formula to work with them, it just works. I am very proud of this album, there are still bits in it where I listen and go oh maybe I shouldn’t have done that, or I could’ve done that a bit better, but you’re always going to be like that. So I just said let it go! Get it out! Move onto the next one!

What do you want people to take away from Truth Is A Wolf?

Don’t judge anyone until you know what they’ve really gone through, and just be kind, and supportive.

Interview by Alexandra Veltri

Source: Blues Rock Review

Supersonic Blues Machine Fabrizio Grossi Interview

Ahead of the release of Supersonic Blues Machine’s sophomore album, Californisoul, due out October 20th, Rory Auskerry chats with the band’s bass player, songwriter, producer, and founding member Fabrizio Grossi.

The album features guest appearances from Billy F Gibbons of ZZ Top, Steve Lukather of Toto, Walter Trout, Eric Gales and Robben Ford.

Source: Blues Rock Review

Stone Foxes An Interview with Shannon Koehler

Take A Trip To Visalia With The Stone Foxes

Fresh off the release of their newest EP Visalia, the Stone Foxes are roaring with energy and ambition.

Space robots, front porch sing-alongs, tiki bar hangouts–what do these things have in common? The Stone Foxes, of course–because these rockers just want to have fun.

But let’s scratch the 80s reference, because the Stone Foxes sound nothing like the song it implies. Instead of bubbles, picture bricks. At once heavy and punchy, the Stone Foxes’ music has that indescribable special something quality that makes it both unique and familiar, and always memorable. Maybe it’s the sextet’s strong rhythm foundation; maybe it’s their gritty city base; maybe it’s just the joy they get from making music. “Music is fun,” lead singer and drummer Shannon Koehler said simply the day of the band’s new EP Visalia release in mid-September. We’re inclined to take his word on that, especially after listening to the risk-taking, gin-passing and “heart on my sleeve” lifestyle described in the EP opener “If I Die.”

Watch the band’s creative music videos, check out pictures from their recent speakeasy tiki bar photoshoot on Facebook, or hell–go see them live. The band–featuring Koehler and his brother Spence, Elliott Peltzman, Vince Dewald, Ben Andrews and Brian Bakalian–have fun with what they do, and it’s that fun that makes their music so energizing. While some bands aren’t able to translate that energy from the stage into studio projects, the Stone Foxes do. Though they’ve demonstrated this on four full-length (and all self-released) albums since founding in 2008, this energy is perhaps best felt on Visalia. Recorded over the course of two long weekends at a friend’s house in Visalia, Calif., not far from the band’s San Francisco base, this five-track EP was made in the style of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., “except we weren’t in France,” Koehler laughed. “But that’s how it felt. We were all in our tents, there was a huge chicken coop behind the house, and there was another main house. It was just this whole family of people, and that infused a lot of the camaraderie within us and made us stronger as a unit to write better together.”

The farmland backdrop of Visalia’s creation is far from what the Stone Foxes have experienced before. But it was the evening visits from friends of their host (who just happened to be Cody Tarbell of Slow Season) that gave the experience an extra spark. ”We camped by the side of this cornfield, and every night we’d start recording and playing, just working on these songs. Then, all of a sudden, Cody’s friends would come over. We were like, ‘Whoa, this is an experience to be in this place.’” The constant stream of visitors and sharing of ideas inspired the Stone Foxes to test their first song before their happenstance audience, who were more than happy to chime in on the backing vocals. While four of the EP’s tracks were recorded in the studio and all were remixed by producer Jay Pellicci, “If I Die” comes directly from Cody’s porch.

The Stone Foxes released Visalia on September 15th.

“It was a cool feeling that we were writing about a lot of really personal things, getting to the root of who we are,” Koehler said. “You can hear a lot of that in ‘If I Die,’ that’s very personal for me. And ‘Shake Like Buddy Holly’ [is personal] for Vince, getting to the root of where that rock ’n roll comes from.”

The Stone Foxes are solidly rooted in rock and blues. The bio on their website grandiosely claims, “They bear the torch of their predecessors with the knowledge that rock ’n roll can move a new generation,” though Koehler sees their mission less as a responsibility to the genre and more as an independent ambition. “Every person has their own path as a musician,” he said. “But I do feel like we have an opportunity that not a lot of people have: to be up in front of people and to be able to say something. Whether that’s about love, who we are, who our generation is or what’s going on in the world, I think it’s important to offer what we have to say.”

Figuring out what they want to say as a group has taken some time. The Stone Foxes have spent years innovating their writing process to make sure their messages are clear and agreed-upon. “With a lot of guys, it can get kind of complicated, because there’s lots of voices,” Koehler said. Over the years, they’ve refined that process to ensure that each band member’s ideas are heard and everyone contributes. After one or two members initiates a song idea, the rest of the group weighs in. “The whole group puts their stamp on it. We feel strongly about that, that everybody is very involved.”

While “If I Die” and “Shake Like Buddy Holly” have closer personal ties to the band, “Hypno,” “Fight” and “Arrogant” take inspiration from the battleground of modern America, with strong political undertones popping up in “Hypno” in particular. “It’s pretty hard to escape what’s going on out there, “Koehler said. “It’s the idea that you kind of become hypnotized by your TV, being lulled into this feeling, like, ‘Yeah, well, it’s whatever.’ But it’s not okay. The truth matters.”

Just as each song transformed during the writing process in Visalia, so too did they transform once the band returned to the studio. “Hypno,” a track driven by guttural fills and punishing guitar work, didn’t translate well once the click tracks were brought into the mix and took some extra tweaking to get just right. “I love [Brian’s] drums on that,” Koehler said. “He does some really cool fills.”

The Stone Foxes’ creative rhythm section is part of that “special something” that makes them unique. With two drummers in the band, it’s not surprising that this is one of their more creative and dominant elements. Having one of those drummers also on lead vocals doesn’t hurt: holding a presence at both the back and front ends of the stage keeps both areas in Koehler’s mind, paving a path for the rhythm section to remain prominent at moments when it might be buried in other bands. “As a drummer, I find myself writing lyrics very much in tune with what I’m drumming,” he explained. “If I’m writing a song and I’m drumming, I lock lyrics with different hits.” Yet, as a vocalist, he understands the importance of latching onto a groove that the audience can fall into. “There are certain spots where we hit hard, but it’s really about that rhythm. ‘Buddy Holly’ is a great example of that–really groove-driven.”

The music makes enjoyable listening, but it’s also fun to watch performed. At a recent midday performance at the San Diego, Calif. festival KAABOO, the Stone Foxes were clearly excited to roll out their new songs, which they’d released just one day earlier. Onstage, they look like a band of professional rockers, but they act like a group of friends, exchanging grins as they swap riffs and delving deep into the grooves they present to their listeners. It’s easy to see where the inspiration for “If I Die” came from: all that’s missing is Cody and his buddies. The Stone Foxes didn’t seem relieved to be finished with the EP, or anxious about hitting the road for the start of their fall U.S. “Gigantour”–they were just excited to be onstage, sharing their material with a new captive audience.

“Gigantour” is large in size, but it’ll also be large in heart. Three years ago, the Stone Foxes launched the Goodnight Moon Project, an effort inspired by the homeless population within the band’s hometown that galvanizes fans to donate food to local shelters. At every one of the band’s live performances, concert attendees are encouraged to bring cans of food, for which they can receive tokens of appreciation from the band (like a signed setlist or a free record). “We’re just trying to cultivate a really giving atmosphere,” Koehler said. “That’s what’s so cool about music: it opens people up to that possibility. We’re not talking about one of our songs solving a huge world problem, but I do think if we can plant the seed in somebody to be a little more peaceful, to be a little more community-driven, to just be a little more loving, I think that’s worth it.”

Visalia may not be credited with solving a global conflict, but it’s giving back to listeners in more personal ways. At the very least, it shows that the Stone Foxes retain huge fires in their bellies and are eager to continue making music for their own enjoyment and that of others. Their next full-length album hasn’t yet been announced, but we’re not worried: the band’s collective state of mind is made pretty clear in the lyrics of “If I Die.” “And if you asked me now, ‘Kid, how’d you do?’ I’d say, ‘I’d do it all again.’”

Interview by Meghan Roos.

Source: Blues Rock Review