Johnny Royal Talks Black Lodge With PCM's Kristyn Clarke

Black Lodge was formed by Johnny Royal in 2012. The band creates a fusion between early Dubstep, Punk, Industrial and Dark Wave. PCM’s Kristyn Clarke was able to catch up with Black Lodge’s Johnny Royal to discuss the band’s formation, direction, and upcoming plans.

“The name come from an old Native American mythology. Certain tribes believe that particular woods were enchanted and that if you were to enter into these parts of these enchanted woods at a certain time…when the planets are aligned, you have to enter with a heart full of fear or a heart full of love. If  you do, you go into this other dimension and you either can go into what is called the White Lodge, which is like Heaven, or you can go to hell, or you can come back to Earth. If you come back to Earth, you come back with a gift. It plays into the idea with, where the music is, it’s on the darker side of things. It goes pretty deep into an idea of taking a look at the way things are in the world right now and really making a statement that there are things that are wrong. A lot of it comes from within the relationship between a father and his children.”

“This record is called The Diary of Tomahawk and it’s about a girl named Tomahawk that is sexually abused and raped by her father. And no one will listen to her or help her, so she starts practicing black magic. In Native American mythology, some tribes believe the Raven was a demi-god that required sex and blood to get certain powers. It would bring prophecy and wisdom, or the ability to see things differently. She does this ritual with the Raven, and then gains the power to see demons in people. So she starts going out and basically killing everybody that she finds that has these demons. And on the outside, the world views her as a serial killer, but really she’s a dark angel. So the album takes the listener through a journey through each song, which is a chapter out of her diary from the first song which is “Bedtime” and further on to her visiting The Raven and then into another song called “Memory Of Fire” when she gains this power  .”

“The sound goes into heavy industrial punk and rock. And it has a lot of old punk elements infused into it. There’s a lot inspiration drawn from bands like The Misfits, Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly. We’re incorporating some old Dubstep beats which are overlaced with different kinds of analogs and instruments such as an Ekdahl Moisturizer and the Formatron which are really hard to find and are rare instruments.”

The whole idea behind the album and the story sounds completely fascinating. It could almost have a companion film. When I mentioned this to Johnny he said “Part of the plan is, we’re working with a company named Haus of Seven. He worked with Nine Inch Nails for a long time and he’s an amazing cinematographer. So what we talked about doing is storyboarding out each song. So we’re going to have a video for each song but the video isn’t going to just be a music video, it’s going to be more of a web series and going through the visual aspects of Tomahawk’s journey.”

When asked if the album would best be listened to as a whole, almost like a concept album he answered  “It is a concept album for sure. Part of the elements missing from music today is when you look back at all of the great things that came out, there were these musicians and artists who spent so much time thinking about the idea of what they really actually wanted to say. And they would let the music tell the story. Nowadays, a lot of bands, what they do is crank out song after song after song for their record label, or to fill a quota, or they just don’t spend time really formulating their ideas. So, when I started writing this, I laid out the whole idea about what I really wanted to say and how I wanted to tell a story. And what I wanted to say was that a lot of the general problems in the world, and especially in this country, are that they start with the father and the daughter relationship. There are a lot of really bad fathers out there, who do all kinds of terrible things to their daughters.  It’s about bringing to light that there is a major problem with…rape, and other things like that that I want to call out. And I want to call it out in a way that’s not just being an advocate against it, but it’s really bringing some shock value. A lot of times the only time the country will wake up to something is when you scare the sh**t out of them and make them think about it.”

With the music industry being in its’ current state, we were curious to how big of a challenge it was getting backing for this project. Johnny claims “Surprisingly, it [getting backing] wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be because the people that I’ve worked with over the years in the music business, know that when I start writing something or take on a project that I put everything into it. And I do it in a smart way. I’m not out trying to write hit songs or get radio play. I have something to say. And I’m doing it the way I want to do it this time. So there are a lot of really cool things that are going to happen from that vision. And I also think that Industrial music in general is going to start coming back with a force over the next couple years. It has been awhile since it has and the only other band that has managed to do that significantly over the past ten years has been Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor is definitely to be respected because he did it his way. He didn’t go out and write all these catchy songs and he’s an amazing composer and an amazing artist. He wrote what he was feeling and what he had to say and I think that says something about the general rules of the universe which is that the closer you can bring yourself to illuminating the aesthetic of what is inside of you to the rest of the world the more that you will have a strong bond with commonality from person to person. For example when someone can feel that something is honest and raw they will gravitate toward it regardless if it is being played on the radio or not, it’s just a matter of getting it in front of them. ”

I asked for his thoughts on the up rise of social media and the ease of being able to quickly share information with individuals to which he said ” That’s another thing too…I’ve done social media stuff for a long time and I think one of my strong points in doing that is understanding the psychology of people which is that a lot of brands that are out there, a lot of record companies and bands think that the general public are stupid and they’re not! People are very instinctual  beings and they know when something is real.”

We are sure that the stage show to go along with this project is going to be visually stunning and inquired about upcoming touring plans. Johnny says “We are looking at doing 60 dates next summer just to start and the goal is that once we get going..this is going to be a transitional point, not just for me, but for the rest of the guys as well. Once we get going we want to stay on the road and pretty much live on the road…the road taught me many years ago what freedom really meant. The idea that you have no limitations except for what you set for yourself  and all of us want to get back to that feeling. ”

In regards to the target release date for the album Johnny says ” We are still writing and framing up a lot of the tracks. We are looking at two incredible producers at this time and are hoping to come to a decision on that very soon and we are hoping to have the first track release in early 2013. We are taking our time with everything and once all of the tracking is done and everything is mixed and mastered then we have to produce all of the video elements. We want everything to be in a row before we put anything out there .”

He then went on to discuss with PCM one of his defining musical moments in life. “My first concert ever was The Cure and The Human League when I was about nine years old…my mother took me and it was in Pittsburgh, PA. That changed my life and then after that there were  venues in my hometown called the Jam N’ Skate and Paradise Arcade that put on punk shows every weekend. For close to five years until the place closed down I was religiously there every weekend. Real punk rock…bands like GBH and The Exploited and old New York hardcore bands like Bold and the Gorilla Biscuits and the Misfits…the first album I ever bought was a vinyl copy of “Walk Among Us” by The Misfits and that was right after The Cure show, there was a record called “Eides” in Pittsburgh and I was there all the time as well. I discovered a band called Half -Life in Pittsburgh and that band provided another defining musical moment in my life. Just seeing those guys up there making this great music…these ideas of the freedom of thought and liberty and knowing you can do whatever the f**k you want to do. I have had punk in my heart since I was a kid and then later on I discovered industrial and fell in love with that stuff too…the combination of the punk scene and then finding industrial music are probably the two biggest defining musical moments in my life.”

Johnny was also asked about some of the additional projects he has in the works and although Black Lodge is the major one for the time being he is also working on a documentary film called “The Royal Art” which is about the Freemasons. He says ” I’ve been a Freemason for going on six years now and that is something that is very important to me in my life, but that is a whole other project and it’s really cool, really ethereal and esoteric and it lets the actions and the characters kind of tell the story of what Freemasonry is and the legacy of it going back to 2500 BC.”

He is also very excited about the Black Lodge line-up and is thrilled to be working with such a talented group of individuals. The line-up is: Shawn Bann: Guitar and Bass,Ventura Banvelos: Programming, Justin Green: Drums and Programming, Christopher Rhinesmith: Vocals, Johnny Royal: Composition, Guitar and Programming and Scott Vera: Composition and Programming. “When I started putting this together I wanted to find guys that I could trust and the aesthetic and the connective tissue between all of us which I didn’t even realize starting out…all of us have had some really dark things happen to us in life that we are in a way channeling through this music and letting it out. We are not the kind of people who are depressed and angry, but we are pissed off at the way that the world is and we have something to say about it. ”

To keep up-to-date with Black Lodge be sure to visit the band’s Facebook Page and stay tuned for more details soon!  This is one project that we, here at PCM, are truly excited about and hope you will be too!

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Vans Warped Tour Low Down

Fearless Records’ Chunk! No, Captain Chunk have recently announced that they will be joining the lineup of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. The band will be bringing their own brand of power pop punk to the lineup. You can check out their official Facebook page here and watch their Youtube videos here.

 

Dark rockers Motionless In White premiered their new video “Puppets” yesterday on WarpedTour.com. The release comes at the same time as the band’s announcement that they have joined the 2012 Warped Tour lineup. Motionless In White will be touring before the Warped Tour with Asking Alexandria and are currently in the studio with legendary producer Tim Skold (Marilyn Manson). Check out their website and tour dates here.

 

Matt Toka, a native to Ohio who has generated buzz for his punky/poppy melodic songs, has just been added to the Vans Warped Tour lineup for this summer and his self-titled EP will be released on June 12th. The six-track EP includes the studio versions of previous YouTube-only tracks “666″ and “Ode To My Family,” as well as “Say10,” which is currently available via all digital retailers. The Warner Bros. Records punk/pop artist  has also recently released a video for his song Get Money.” You can check out Matt Toka’s Youtube page here and his official website here.

 

Los Angeles’ Dead Sara will be touring with the Vans Warped Tour this summer in support of their new self-titled debut album. Known for their high-octane live performances, the band just wrapped up their tour with Chevelle and are preparing to play at the Warped Tour. You can check out the bands official website, tour dates, and new single “Weatherman” here.

 

To check out the tour dates and to buy tickets for Vans Warped Tour, click here.

 

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Dan Vickrey of Counting Crows Talks Underwater Sunshine With PCM! Atlantic City Concert Review!

Interview by: Kristyn Clarke
Photography by: Ken Schuler

Alternative rock band Counting Crows are well known on a global scale. Having gotten their start in 1991, the Counting Crows have maintained their status as one of the top alternative rock bands for two decades. With the release of their newest album Underwater Sunshine, as well as their Outlaw Roadshow Tour in full swing, the Counting Crows again are reminding audiences why they are truly a number one band.

“So far so good,” Dan Vickrey, lead guitarist of Counting Crows has said about the positive response towards their album. “And…it seems to be well received at the shows. People seem to really love the songs.”

Compiling the tracks for the album Underwater Sunshine was a difficult process for the band. “There are some we threw out from the very beginning,” Vickrey said about the band’s attempt at picking which songs would make the cut. “Some we tried, and it didn’t work. And these [the songs on the album] were the ones that added up. We didn’t have to0 many extra ones. We didn’t have a lot of time to do it, so we had to put a time constraint on ourselves…this is really what we came up with. These are a good choice of songs and they work together well.”

The band is excited to bring the new album on the road with their Outlaw Roadshow Tour. “I’m just glad to be out playing,” Vickrey confessed. “I think the concerts are really great. I think the feeling is the band is really playing better than it ever has. And frankly, Adam is singing better than he ever has. He’s just really in a great groove right now…the band is in a good groove. I think it’s a combination of us not having played for so long and then coming back with these great songs.”

The Counting Crows are a band that have made a name for themselves in the world as a band that will know success no matter what. We had the recent pleasure of attending The Counting Crows recent show in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel and Casino Event Center and fans came out in droves to rock out with The Crows who played a fantastic set that included many fan favorites side by side with new tracks off  Underwater Sunshine. Vocalist Adam Duritz led the band through a thirteen song set and the audience was up on their feet and grooving for the entire show. No matter how many years have gone by since the band’s inception The Counting Crows are a band that is not afraid to take risks and their live show is always a treat, as the band is constantly re-inventing their songs with different tempos or styles giving everything an overall fresh take.

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Borgata Set List:
Sullivan Street
Untitled (Love Song) – The Romany Rye cover
Daylight Fading
I Wish I Was A Girl
Hospital – Coby Brown cover
Colorblind
Meet Me On The Ledge – Fairport Convention cover
Start Again – Teenage Fanclub cover
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – Bob Dylan cover
Miami
A Long December
Like Teenage Gravity – Kasey Anderson cover
Rain King
ENCORE
The Ballad Of El Goodo – Big Star cover
Come Around
Holiday In Spain

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Redlight King Perform Bullet In My Hand At Carolina Rebellion!

Redlight King recently made a stop at the Carolina Rebellion festival in Rockingham NC, performing alongside the likes of Shinedown, Korn, Evanescence, and many more. The band shared a brand new clip featuring a performance of “Bullet In My Hand” (from the band’s debut album, Something For the Pain, available now on iTunes) to a crowd of over 30.000 people.

Redlight have also just released a special remix of their track “Comeback,” which is featured on the official soundtrack for The Avengers. For more on the band, including tour dates and ticket info, visit their official site at www.redlightkingmusic.com.

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A Rocket to the Moon’s Eric Halvorsen Talks Rejects Tour, Upcoming Album and More!

Photography by: Ken Schuler
Words and Interview by: Allison Ebner

While on the hunt for a place to eat lunch, bassist Eric “Halvo” Halvorsen took some time to speak with PCM’s Allison about A Rocket to the Moon’s latest tour with the All-American Rejects, upcoming album and much more!

Like most of us, Eric is a long-time fan of the Rejects.  “I’ve been listening to them since middle school. A friend introduced me way back when ‘cause he grew up with someone who knew Tyson or something, so I’ve known about them for a long time,” he explained. “It’s pretty surreal to be on a tour like this. We’ve done a couple like this, you know, like with Hanson. It’s just kind of weird that we’re out with them, but definitely an honor and really, really cool that we get to watch them every night and hear good music.”

The tour, which only featured The Rejects and A Rocket to the Moon, certainly provided any music lover with an excellent evening of live music, but Eric knows that each crowd is its own entity.  “It’s different every night. You know, our vibes vary just as much as the crowds’ do, so I guess just whether people are really excited or just kind of sitting there, you just have to make the most of the crowd’s energy and realize that you in front of a whole new audience. I’m in a band playing music and not sitting at home working a sh!tty job, so it’s like no matter what the energy is like, it’s awesome what we’re doing. I always remind myself of that.”

Eric is right about that. Who wouldn’t love to tour the country with their best friends doing what they love to do? But even more than that, the band (including Nick Santino, Justin Richards and Andrew Cook) makes the most of their opportunities, not just playing their own music but learning from the musicians they have shared the stage with.

We’ve definitely learned so much from the bands we have toured with, especially Hanson. You know, things like doing the three-part harmony, we definitely picked up that up from them,” he explained as I recalled the three-part harmonies they employed on their cover of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’. “Never Shout [Never], as well. Yeah, we try and pick up and learn things from every band we’ve ever toured with and try to take as much as we can from each tour.”

There is also, though, always time for some good times. This tour, however, proved to be more driving than anything else. “We’ve had a lot of long drives which is a little unfortunate,” Eric laughed. “We haven’t had the opportunity to hang out with The Rejects too much. But when we have, it’s always been fun. We went out for Tyson’s birthday, which was a really good time. Everybody went to the bar and we were playing video games and whatnot.”

So how does Eric and the band make their own fun on the long drives? “It depends,” he began. “If I have a good book, I’ll read. Usually, we watch a lot of movies. We just got all of the Seinfeld episodes on my computer so we’ve been marathoning that pretty much every drive lately. But I’d say most of the time, I sleep.”

He also has developed another habit he seems to have a love-hate relationship with. “I’ve been buying a lot of records lately, I guess, that’s been a bad habit,” he revealed with a laugh. When I told him it could, in fact, be a good habit, he responded, “well, my wallet would say otherwise. Vinyl and stuff. So I’ve been into that. It’s my newfound little collection and hobby.”

But buying records isn’t the only thing that’s been keeping Eric busy. He and the band have also been busy making a new A Rocket to the Moon album – the first in over two and a half years. With so much time passed, it’s natural that their music would reflect the progression.

Well, it’ll be three years in October that On Your Side has been out so we’ve been touring that whole time and growing as musicians and listening to other styles of music. I guess it’s kind of cliché to say we’re maturing and that stuff, but it’s really just the way to put it,” Eric said. “We’ve kind of evolved through time as musicians and that will definitely show through the songs on the new record.”

One aspect we may notice more so with this record is the country influence. “We worked with a country producer named Mark Bright, so not only did he have a country influence on it, but [recording in] Nashville itself. I guess just the people we were around and the environment was what influenced it the most.”

Eric acknowledges this new taste of country may surprise some fans, but it’s nothing all that drastically new. “There’s definitely probably a couple that kids are going to be a little surprised about. There’s a few that are pretty raw and there’s a couple that are pretty country and stuff, so I’m sure people will be surprised. But it’s not too different for us.”

This is perhaps best exemplified by the new song they played on the Rejects tour called “Going Out.” As Eric explains it, the song epitomizes what has “always been the message of our band: to have a good time with your friends and music and whatnot,” but seamlessly mixes the hint of country that Nashville and its people brought to the album and gets everyone excited to hear more.

“It’s been great,” he continued. “Everyone seems to really enjoy it and have a good time during it. Whether they’ve heard it before or not, everyone seems to dance and clap along.”

While their summer plans remain mum, Eric did confirm that they are planning on releasing the album sometime in the summer, though touring plans are still up in the air at this point. They are in the early stages of piecing together the plan of putting out the album, so stay tuned for release dates, tour dates and more! It’s going to be a good year for A Rocket to the Moon – you’ll definitely want to check them out!

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Hunting On The Range with Bill Kelliher of Mastodon

Words by: Matt Bishop
Photography by: Ken Schuler
Produced by: Kristyn Clarke

Mastodon have become a metal force to be reckoned with, and Sunday at Rock On The Range 2012 was no different. Shortly before there set, guitarist Bill Kelliher stopped by to talk to me for a few minutes. Mastodon had just come off the Heritage Hunter Tour with co-headliners Opeth. Bill told me that the tour went great. He said that all the bands on the tour were very different from each other, which made for a great mix. Bill and I also talked about Mastodon’s latest album, The Hunter. He told me that the band made a conscious effort to simplify things this time around. “We didn’t over-think it. We used to spend months and months in the studio taking each riff and making it harder than it had to be. We captured our spontaneity this time.”

Musically, Mastodon are one of the greatest bands of their generation. They have been nominated for two Grammy Awards, their last three albums have all charted in the Top 50 on the Billboard Top 200. The band has rocked out on some of the world’s biggest stages including Download, Coachella, Sonisphere, Bonnaroo, and, of course, Rock On The Range. In 2007, Bill and fellow guitarist Brent Hinds won the Metal Hammer Golden God Award for “Best Shredders.” Just this year, drummer Brann Dailor was nominated for the Revolver Golden God Award for “Best Drummer.” After ROTR, Mastodon are catching a plane and heading to Europe, hitting festivals all summer long. Hunt down some tickets and get ready to CRANK IT UP!

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Anthrax Comes to Worship at Rock On The Range 2012

Words by: Matt Bishop
Photography by: Ken Schuler
Produced by: Kristyn Clarke

Anthrax brought more than a fistful of metal to Rock On The Range 2012. Armed and dangerous with an awesome new album, Worship Music, the band proceeded to go metal thrashing mad! Anthrax mixed old school with new school, and give the fans a large dose of their legendary catalog. Shortly before their blistering set, I got to sit down with guitarist Rob Caggiano to talk about the album and the band’s upcoming tour plans.

Rob said that the band was very happy to be playing Rock On The Range, and to be apart of such an epic lineup. When talking about the band’s latest album, Rob said the fan’s reception has been amazing. When I asked him what his favorite song was, he said, “Oh man, there’s so many..but I really like ‘Devil You Know’ ’cause the solo is really challenging, and it’s great to play it live.” Speaking of playing live, Rob told me that this summer, and later for their ROTR set, they would be playing a non-stop, rapid-fire, Ramones-style set, so they can get in as many songs as they can!

Anthrax have long been titans of thrash metal. Deemed one of the “Big 4″ of thrash metal (along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer), They band has been in the business for nearly 30 years. In the last two years, the Anthrax has played some of the world’s biggest festivals and stages, and released one of their best albums ever. 2011′s Worship Music is the band’s first new album in 8 years, and marks the return on long-time vocalist Joey Belladona. The album debuted at #12 on the Billboard Top 200. This summer, the band will be touring on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival along with Slipknot, Slayer, Motörhead, The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria, and more. Mayhem is coming…CRANK IT UP!


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Rock On The Range 2012 Proves Rock Is Alive And Well In Columbus, OH!

Words by: Kristyn Clarke
Photography by : Ken Schuler

Fans and bands came together in the true spirit of rock n’ roll at this past weekend’s Rock On The Range festival at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. The scorching temperatures, endless mosh pits, and crowd surfing did nothing to dampen the spirits of those in attendance , if anything it just heightened the frenzy creating an electric environment making this  year’s Rock on The Range one of the best yet.

This year’s headliners were Incubus, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, and Marilyn Manson who all brought out their A-game performances delighting this year’s crop of “Rangers” and creating a truly unforgettable concert experience. All band’s stressed the importance of keeping rock music alive however the best quote came from Shinedown lead singer Brent Smith who said “Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t a genre of music, it’s a way of life.” “So tonight as you leave the venue, promise all the bands that you will keep your fist in the air and you will never let rock ‘n’ roll die.”

The line-up of 44  bands including Black Stone Cherry, Attack Attack!, Trivium, Megadeth, Anthrax, Five Finger Death Punch, Escape The Fate, Slash, and more played their hearts out to the massive crowd and this year’s festival had some of the largest mosh pits I have ever seen with the crowd-surfing just out of control. It is hard to even say which bands had the biggest pits however Five Finger Death Punch, Down, and Rob Zombie are definitely the front-runners. No music festival would be complete without a little drama thrown into the mix and such was the case between Falling in Reverse and Escape The Fate when during Falling In Reverse’s Saturday afternoon performance front-man Ronnie Radke, who was the past vocalist for Escape The Fate, trashed his former Escape The Fate band mates claiming the “real fans” showed up Saturday rather than for Escape The Fate’s performance on  Sunday. There were also some touching moments on stage such as the marriage proposal  during In This Moment’s set and the crowd surfing wheelchair during Five Finger Death Punch.

We had the chance to sit down with many of the band’s playing this year’s Rock On The Range so be sure to stay tuned to PCM for interviews with Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Anthrax, Trivium, Falling In Reverse, Cypress Hill, Down, Escape The Fate and more!

We are proud to be veteran “Rangers” and can’t wait to hear that will be in store for Rock On The Range 2013!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images of Rock On The Range 2012 Headline Performers:

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Making Waves on The Range with Matt Heafy of Trivium

Words by: Matt Bishop
Photography by: Ken Schuler
Produced by: Kristyn Clarke

Trivium began making Waves early on Sunday morning at Rock On The Range 2012. Head-banging out the hangovers, Trivium unleashed an assault of pure thrash and death metal on all Rangers present. Later on that day, I sat down with a fellow Matt, lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, to talk about the band’s set and their future plans. Matt said the set was awesome, and that they were really psyched that there were so many new fans in the audience. In regards to the state of rock, “Today showed us that there’s a thirst for metal,” Heafy said. “People are ready for metal.”

Matt and I also talked about the bands plans for an upcoming album. Matt told me the band has laid down a bunch of demos, and he himself has begun work on concepts and lyrics for the record. It’s bound to be epic! Meanwhile, the band will be touring hard throughout the summer.

Trivium’s latest album, In Waves, is out now on Roadrunner Records, and debuted at #1 on The Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the Billboard Hard Rock Chart. In Waves is the evolution of heavy. It’s a balanced record on which the band showcases all their strong points; mixing heavy, shredding riffs and beautiful melodies. The band just released their latest single off the album, entitled “Black.”

Heafy, along with Corey Beaulieu, are were nominated for “Best Guitarists” at the 2012 Revolver Golden God Awards. After ROTR, the band is hitting two more major festivals: Rocklahoma 2012, and England’s epic Download Festival. In addition, the band also recently made the epic announcement that they will be co-headlining the Trespass America Festival with Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage! That tour is gonna be absolute chaos! Be sure to grab your tickets and get ready for a summer that’s gonna CRANK IT UP and melt your face off!

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Rocker Bret Michaels Speaks at Diversity Alliance for Science Conference! Exclusive Interview With PCM's Kristyn!

Diversity Alliance for Science, Inc., a non-profit organization created to support, mentor, and develop minority-, woman-, veteran/service-disabled-, HUBZone-, and LGBT-owned, life sciences businesses recently held its fifth annual networking conference and EXPO event.  The two-day event held at the Renaissance Newark Liberty Airport Hotel in Newark, N.J. included specialized workshops for participants aimed at fostering mutually beneficial relationships between  diverse suppliers and pharmaceutical firms, biotech companies, government agencies and academic medical centers in the life sciences.

Diversity has been shown to be a key factor in leading to health care innovation, thereby driving leading-edge competitiveness, economic development and growth in communities.

You can follow Diversity Alliance for Science on Facebook at www.facebook.com/diversityallianceforscience.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/diversitya4s.

Award-winning multi-platinum musician and long-time health advocate Bret Michaels was chosen to deliver the opening address at the conference and lead the way for the charity auction that included some amazing items such as custom Dean guitars, autographed t-shirts, and amazing ticket packages to catch Poison on the road.  Bret was also honored with the  Magic Johnson Business and Healthcare Award at the event. As in past years, proceeds from the silent auction will provide access and education in the life sciences area to low poverty, deserving high-school students. Scholarships will be presented to local students by the Office of the Mayor of Newark.

PCM’s Kristyn Clarke was able to catch up with Bret Michaels after his opening address to the conference and his jaunt at playing auctioneer. Check out the interview below!

Q: How are you doing today?

Bret Michaels: I’m feeling actually really good!

Q: Today’s auction and speech for the Diversity Alliance for Science was fantastic?

Bret Michaels: It was such a great experience for me and everyone down there was just so amazing. The vibe in here it really makes a difference because I do quite a few of these conferences and we talk about health and how it affects people and when you go in there and the vibe is so fun it makes all the difference. People in there were having fun so when you combine both a great thing that you are doing for science and a lot of money you are raising with the element of the human touch it truly makes a huge difference. I do a lot of these seminars where after everything I have been through besides the diabetes, with the hemorrhage and the heart surgery, that’s what happened with the subarachnoid hemorrhage it times your brain. In other words, I had the bleed, they diagnosed it, and I reacted quickly. I knew I was in trouble and I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t some kind of fluke or something like that, I knew I was dying and I said ‘I’m in trouble’ and honestly right before I went out and then I went unconscious before I got in the room, the pressure is like an elephant kicking to get out of your skull and when I woke up about three days later, just to be there was such an amazing feeling. Then to realize how many people had it and never know, in fact Don Trump Jr.’s best friend died that same week with the exact same subarachnoid hemorrhage the week I had it, it was crazy, it shouldn’t have been that crazy but it made it crazy.

Q: Wow that is incredibly coincidental!

Bret Michaels: Yes, very coincidental.

Q: How did you become involved with Diversity Alliance for Science?

Bret Michaels: It was really simple. What happened was they had seen everything I have done, and I am no Magic Johnson, I wasn’t making up the story I shared about golfing and the ball flying backwards. No one in the history of golf has hit the ball the wrong direction (laughs). I was so nervous and I was up there with all these people and sports guys are watching, but anyway it’s really because I do so much in the field of talking about science and medicine and being diabetic. I do a lot of fundraisers and what happens is they bring you in and at first they kind of want to bring certain people in just to make money and I said ‘Well, listen…there is a lot more going on here than just trying to raise money, there has to be a reason’. People are like ‘Well, I can just go get that guitar online or I can buy a ticket’ so there has to be a reason element behind it and that is why we paired up because they brought us in knowing that because of the Rockstars of Science, after the brain surgery they did on me and all this different stuff, all those things created a huge campaign.

Q: For those people that may not know a whole lot about Diversity Alliance for Science what can you share with us about the organization? And what are some ways we become involved and help out?

Bret Michaels: It’s really simple. I think too, if you go to the website, you can just search ways to become involved and be part of what is going on. If you really think about what they are doing and what we’re doing is raising awareness of the matching human element and diversity of different sciences. If you look at the pharmaceutical companies and everything that is going on, and where I play a big part of it and where people that want to get involved play a big part of it, is where they can show the combination of the human element and how science and medicine allow a lot of us to survive that may not have made it.

Q: Absolutely. Being a true renaissance man, how do you balance so many ongoing projects?

Bret Michaels: I have to be honest with you and say I take my key element in life, there’s a thing I write every month on my web site (BretMichaels.com) which was about passion and last month was crossroads in your life, and I said passion for me is what drives me. It’s that extra kick that keeps me going and like I said I work, my Life Rocks foundation works with a lot of kids that are really, really sick and have a very limited chance of survival and I said that is what makes me be able to do it and we’ll drive, we drove, all the way here on the bus, because we are on tour, to come here and now after this we head to the southeast in one more day. I think what it is and again I go back to it, is that passion that gives you that extra kick. It’s the same thing that helped me win Celebrity Apprentice at the end. There are a lot of great people that have a lot of great business skills on there but, it’s that extra kick, that extra bit of will that fights and wins in the end.

Q: What type of advice would you share with an individual looking to pursue a career similar to yours?

Bret Michaels: You know what, if anyone wants to get into the music business I say this honestly first of all love, forget about the instrument you are playing, whether you want to sing or play guitar, drums, whatever surround yourself with…first of all if you are going to be in a band, you’re going to be a band and not do American Idol because you know the great thing about Idol and all these shows are that if you are an individual and you’re from a small town how do you get your voice recognized if you don’t know the right people? If you can surround yourself with the right people number one and number two is self-motivation. It’s really simple, self-motivation and self-belief and I will leave everyone with this: It’s easy nowadays to have a record deal for this reason, everyone can be a label. You can go out there and put your song out and you can go on YouTube however the toughest part is being able to stay in the game, it’s tough to get into the game, but the toughest part for me is 26 years of staying on top of it and it just comes from hard work and wanting to be there. Maybe back in the day when there was no internet they could tell you what to believe now people go to your shows and everything is instant so use the new technology to your advantage. It makes you exposed but what you have to be careful of is don’t be easily disposed either. I think that is what has been part of my blessing for 26 years is you’ve got to stay relevant in the game and always stay on top.

Q: Have you ever been surprised that you have become such a household name over the years?  Looking back on your career, did you ever think that you would get this far?

Bret Michaels: Let me put it this way, I always dreamed that this is what I would do. I mean, I never went into it thinking ‘Oh, my god I only want to do this for a year’ but I can say that it really feels amazing that the combination of hard work and great fans and now three generations, not even just multi-platinum but multi-generational to even think about that diversity and I think that part of my thing is that, and I’ve said this to everybody, I am one of those guys I never and I know a lot of bands have made this mistake, they try to choose their audience saying ‘Oh, I want to be the hippest band’ or ‘I want to be just this or only this’ and for me, I just go out and play my music and people can like what I do, the same with reality TV, some people liked it, some people didn’t but I went in there doing what I like to do and just stayed true to who I was the whole time. Continue reading

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