West of Eight by Tod Howarth – CD Review

West of EightIt turns out that Tod Howarth’s previous two solo releases, Silhouette and Cobalt Parlor, while both very impressive and enjoyable, were only the tip of the musical iceberg Tod had in store for us all. With his newest release, West of Eight, Tod serves up a sonic assault of an iceberg big enough to sink the Titanic!

Clocking in at slightly over an hour, the fifteen music tracks (plus a spoken “liner note” track called “Thanks,” which is exactly that) assembled here represent some of the most complete, satisfying musicianship that I’ve had the pleasure to experience in recent memory. Well written and well presented, every track has a clear theme, purpose, evolution and satisfying conclusion – no endlessly looped fade outs here.

Tod, an extremely accomplished musician, handles all lead and backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards (used sparingly and to great effect – don’t get scared!), acoustic, baritone and bass guitars. Whew! He does leave the drumming in the hands (and feet) of the very able Dave Aaron, and the lightening fingered Jamie Eden steps up to the plate for both lead and rhythm guitar work on eight of the album’s tracks.

Put all that together, simmer for two to three years to make sure all components are aged to perfection, serve LOUD, and you have the musical masterpiece otherwise known as West of Eight. I am not exaggerating when I say West of Eight has not left my cd changer since I received it. Read on for my review of some of the album highlights (I have to leave you some surprises).

West of Eight: “I’m finally home/I’ve traveled far but here I am/West of eight,” sings Tod on this kick ass album opener in which he extols the virtues of his home, San Diego. However, the song avoids being a maudlin “tribute” to home sweet home by allowing for the listener to come away with their own impression of whether or not the song is actually signing the praises of the familiar – home is where the heart is? – or referencing home as a sanctuary (retreat?) from the brutal surroundings of the “outside” world. Either way, there’s definitely a “secret” revealed. The secret? Well, “Dorothy had the secret all along/seldom should you venture from your home.” This track rocks along relentlessly, instilling a feel of urgency in the need to return “home”, with Jamie Eden weighing in with the first of several extremely impressive guitar performances, whetting your appetite for what’s to come.

Tod With Red BaritoneValley of Artifice: What an absolutely awesome showcasing of Tod’s vocal abilities! From the velvety purr of the verses to the desperate wail of the choruses Tod gives the pipes a true workout on this saga, which recounts the experience (hopefully fiction!) of being broken down in the hot desert of the “valley of artifice.” The crunching rhythm guitar chords

Voodooland by Karl Cochran – CD Review

Voodooland BandFormer Ace Frehley Band member and “Into the Void” co-writer Karl Cochran has a new band, Voodooland. If you liked ESP, which also featured Karl’s impressive musical talents, you’ll love Voodooland. The band’s self-titled seven song EP, which reflects a heavy blues-rock influenced sound, is the 70’s rock sound at its best. Along with special guests Ace Frehley (1 track only) and Eric Singer, Voodooland is comprised of Karl on guitars, bass and vocals, Bruce Terkildsen on bass and vocals, Billy Orrico and Dave Halprin on drums, and Tommy Lamb on harp. Every track on the disc rocks hard, and below is just a sample of the treat in store for those who are smart enough to grab a copy of this awesome debut CD.

Freedom: Every great album has a kick ass opener, and Voodooland is certainly no exception. The driving guitar – which screams off into a nasty solo midway that takes on a life of its own through the rest of the track – nicely mirrors the lyrics, which urge people not to be followers who need rules; you don’t need ’em…. scream Freedom! This is no bullshit, straight ahead GUITAR ROCK at its best.

Caroline: The guitar work on this track, both rhythm and lead, are what really stood out to me. This song has the catchiest rhythm guitar hook I’ve heard in a long time, and it’s complimented very nicely by a throbbing, grooving bass line. The lead guitar swirls seamlessly around the hook throughout the track, which also features really nice vocal harmonies during the chorus. “Caroline” strikes the perfect musical balance in its presentation; it’s a love song, but with a little bite.

Music Reviews: Coming Soon!

My music reviews are in the process of being transferred from their original locations. Come back soon for reviews of works by artists such as KISS, Karl Cochran, UNION and more.

Mark St. John – The KISS Asylum Interview

©Elizabeth A. White – Please do not reproduce without express written permission.

Are you ready for a treat KISS fans, because KISS ASYLUM is happy to deliver a big one for you! We were fortunate enough recently to be able to conduct an in-depth interview with the one and only elusive Mark St. John. Though Mark has been slowly venturing back out into the world of KISS fandom recently from his self-imposed seclusion by attending a couple of KISS Expos, we were aware that most fans would not get the benefit of attending those Expos to see Mark in person. Therefore, we made arrangements to conduct a phone interview with Mark so that all the online fans would be able to read what Mark has to say after his 15 long years away.

Mark was very gracious, laid back, open, and a real pleasure to talk with during the interview. He never shied away from any topic, instead seeming more than ready — almost relieved at times — to address all issues head-on. Mark seems to be genuinely enjoying getting back in touch with the fans, and had a great time during our interview relaying all kinds of stories about himself, both in and out of KISS. Don’t be surprised to see more of Mark in the coming months and years in interviews, at Expos, and musically because Mark is back and he’ll tell you so! Of course, there were so many possible areas to cover with Mark that there’s no way we were going to be able to cover them all.

However, we’re confident you’ll find Mark’s perspective on a variety of topics very interesting, including: memories of Eric Carr (“The best musician in the band. He was just always solid, he always played it right and he never really made any mistakes as I remember.”); why he says his time in KISS was actually “the worst time” of his life (“Everyday was lies and deceit, all kinds of little weird things. Everyday was like a little test or mind games.”); the interesting story of the Animalize album back cover photo (“Oh, it is a total cut and paste job!”); what he thinks the real reason is he developed arthritis (“I never had arthritis in anywhere in my family. I was playing violin concertos on the guitar before KISS, you know? I think it was just the stress of the whole thing.”); his feelings on being replaced by Bruce (“I’m thinking that Bruce is just helping, but which turned out to be that it was another plan in the big picture.”); how his KISS experience affected his music life (“Paul and Gene kind of wrecked music for me for the longest time, and it made me not like the whole thing anymore because of what I went through.”); working with Peter Criss (“We finally did the big recording and all that stuff and we sent the

Tod Howarth – The KISS Asylum Interview

Former Frehley’s Comet singer, song writer and guitarist Tod Howarth has graciously taken time out of his incredibly busy schedule to do an interview with KISS ASYLUM. In addition to discussing Frehley’s Comet (including his take on the “revolving drummer” situation and Anton’s Letterman gig), Tod also talks about his experiences with 707, Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick (including the recent 25 Year Cheap Trick Celebration).

Tod also discusses his solo career, including his first two albums Silhouette and Cobalt Parlor, as well as his forthcoming album, West of Eight. From the internet and his website, to his opinion on Gordon Gebert’s KISS ‘N Tell books, to the story of him and Ace and “Superdog,” this is certainly an interview you won’t want to miss!

KA: Why don’t you begin by telling everyone a little bit more about your website, Camp Todd, and you venturing out into the online world.

TH: Well, I had figured for a long time that I was going to be falling into the computer world a little bit late because not only are my hands, my plate as it were, completely full, I just didn’t want to take the time to learn another medium. Let’s put it this way, it was tough as it was writing and recording songs, trying to put a band together, playing in another band (Cheap Trick), I just didn’t have the desire to do the website thing. But about half a year ago I decided to get a computer so I bought one, had it custom made to my desires, and I spent probably a solid month every night going through the books, figuring out some shortcuts and exactly how to build a website. Clumsily, I did build one, and I think it came out alright.

Karl Cochran – The KISS Asylum Interview

Karl Cochran recently took some time out of his very busy schedule to do an interview for Kissasylum.com and all of his online fans. Exposed to a wide range of musical styles and influences by his D.J. father, Karl has attained a varied and accomplished career in the music business.

Whether it be his 15 years studying Jazz to touring with Nuclear Assault, over the course of his illustrious career Karl has been involved in many notable bands and projects, including, of course, Frehley’s Comet and ESP.

In this interview Karl discusses all his past influences and accomplishments, as well as what the future holds for him, including a solo album and possible Frehley’s Comet “reunion” with Ace.

KA: Thanks for taking the time for this Karl. We definitely wanted to hook up with you because you were obviously very involved in the ESP album, which is an awesome album.

KC: Oh, cool. Thanks, I appreciate it.

KA: I guess one of the first points is something that came up from Eric, he said that you have the left over track “Some Kind of Wonderful” floating around somewhere. Is that the only one that is still out there that didn’t make it on any of the other three versions?

KC: Yeah, I have that one. He’s right. We originally did that stuff in my studio before I ended up changing over the format, doing a bigger, full blown studio. I ended up getting a bigger machine, same kind of machine that we used at Curt Cuomo’s where we recorded the record. It just so happens that Curt and I have the identical machine. So, it worked out.

The Essential Eric Singer Interview

ESP CDEric recently took some time out of his very busy schedule to talk with KISS ASYLUM and complete an in depth interview for all the online fans, including answering some questions which were submitted via email by fans specifically for this interview.

As you will see, Eric really covered the bases in this one on such varied topics as: the meaning of his tattoos; thoughts on hip-hop and “sampling;” his upcoming tour with Alice Cooper; his infamous watch collection; Gene as business man; drumming gear and technique tips; Russian women; his brutally honest “tell it like it is” walk through the nuts and bolts of how the music business really works; and, of course, ESP and his other musical endeavors. Read on for the “Essential Eric Singer Interview.”

KA: Everybody knows the work you’ve done with artists like Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and KISS, but how were things when you first started and were trying to make a name for yourself. Particularly why did you play with the bands Drive and Stream?

ES: Well, the band Drive was like a heavy metal band, kind of influenced similar to like an Iron Maiden-ish, Queen type band. I was just hired as a studio drummer. I mean, even now, I still do studio work. It’s the same type of thing with a band called Stream I played for recently. When you do studio work that means you play virtually almost any type of style of music and you have to be not only capable of being a chameleon and adapting to the situation, but you have to realize that a lot of times you may do things that maybe aren’t of your personal musical taste. For example, that band Drive. Those guys were really good at what they did, but that’s not particularly the kind of band that I personally would want to play in. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still go in and do a good job and enjoy myself and have a good time. The bottom line is that I’m a drummer for a living. I am a musician for a living. I play drums and I look at myself as a professional drummer; I make a living by playing music.

Bill Aucoin – The KISS Asylum Interview

Bill AucoinBill Aucoin, former manager of KISS, has released a spoken word album called “Bill Aucoin: 13 Classic KISS Stories” (Lochness Monster Productions).

In conjunction with the CD’s release, KISS Asylum was fortunate to have an opportunity to ask Bill some questions, many of which KISS fans have been wondering about for years.

KA: Is it true that you have the famous rehearsals from ’73 that were shot with one camera in black and white? And if you do, will you ever release them one day?

Bill Aucoin: Yes, I do have it and… we’ll see.

James Hunting – The UNION Asylum Interview

©Elizabeth Sneed/Elizabeth A. White – Please do not reprint/reproduce without express written permission.

UNION bass player James Hunting was kind enough to take several hours out of his schedule recently to do a phone interview with The UNION Asylum and you will not be disappointed with the results. Ever hear of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? The one whose premise is that you can link any actor to a Kevin Bacon film in six steps or less? Well after talking with James, I think we’ve found the perfect person to use for the musical version of this game.

David Lee Roth. Eddie Money. John Butcher. James has had the pleasure of working with some of the best names in music and he shares stories about what it’s like to work with many of them in this interview! And yet, as has become the standard with the members of UNION, despite his globe trotting adventures in the music business James was incredibly down to Earth and easy to talk with. So read on to find out more about the man who once studied Fire Science and was a left-handed fastball pitcher before committing himself full time to his true passion, music and the bass.

UA: James, thanks for calling and taking the time to do this interview. How’s it going?

It’s going fine thanks, a little wet but everyone needs a washing once in awhile.

UA: We’re really glad you wanted to do this because we’ve been getting some fantastic feedback from people about the interviews we’ve put up so far. Everyone’s saying that not only do they like what they’re learning about the music and the album, but the fact that they’re getting to know you guys as people. They really like how down to earth you all seem.

Then maybe I should take the part of the deviate! (Laughs) Make it nice and round, be a little scheming like, “Bruce and Brent did this and that!” (Laughs)

UA: Well, I guess as a jumping off point maybe you could start with some basic stuff. For example, were you always interested in music or did you want to be something like a fireman when you were little?

Well you mentioned two points. I did take Fire Science my first year of college actually.

UA: Really?

Yeah, I went to Pasadena City College. But I’ve also wanted to be a musician ever since I can remember, particularly the bass. I began playing guitar at a very young age, 9 maybe. Going to church when I was young, that was when guys were switching over from their uprights to electrics and I really loved the sound. So I was very attracted to bass at a very early age. I think I got my first electric in 1974,

Brent Fitz – The UNION Asylum Interview

©Elizabeth Sneed/Elizabeth A. White – Please do not reprint/reproduce without express written permission.

Brent Fitz, the “Mystery Drummer” behind UNION’s heavy kick, was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule recently to do a phone interview with The UNION Asylum so that UNION fans could start to get to know him a little better… and you’re gonna love this guy! Brent was very excited to get a chance to share his thoughts, and was a real pleasure to talk with.

Being the “young gun” of the band, Brent brings a really cool perspective to UNION, and he had a ton of great information to share about the band and himself including: his musical background (guess who has a degree from the Royal Conservatory of Music), how the guys all met, the saga of borrowed drum gear, very cool details about the recording of many of the songs, and, being Canadian, hockey!

UNION Asylum (UA): Brent, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

No problem. Is it too late for you? I know it’s like already 11:00 p.m. there.

UA: No, I’m a night owl. This is cool. I’m glad you wanted to do this so people can get to know you a little better. The ground rules are really whatever you want.

That’s totally cool, Beth. I read John’s interview a couple days ago and I thought it was cool because he was just so open and said what was on his mind.

UA: Yeah, and I knew Bruce was the kind of person who would not be involved with people who were jerks so I was expecting John to be cool, but he was even cooler than I was expecting.

Yeah, definitely. The first time I met Bruce that was my first impression from him, and then I was kind of on guard, probably like yourself, with John just a little bit because of the Mötley reputation kind of thing, like he’s a “bad boy” or he’s gonna have maybe some sort of ego or whatever. And he did not, from the first time we met he didn’t.

John Corabi – The UNION Asylum Interview

©Elizabeth Sneed/Elizabeth A. White – Please do not reprint/reproduce without express written permission.

Ever wondered what UNION’s John Corabi would talk about for three hours on the phone during a power outage? Everything! Yes, John was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule recently to do a phone interview with The UNION Asylum, and we covered virtually everything you could possibly want to know about… and then some.

John was incredibly open and down-to-earth during our conversation and shared his thoughts and opinions on topics as varied as: Mötley Crüe and the pending lawsuit, videos and MTV, relationships and fatherhood, karma, and of course all things UNION.

UNION Asylum (UA): John, thanks for calling. Before we get rolling with any questions I just wanna let you know that we appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. I’m sure the fans are gonna love hearing what you have to say.

Cool. Not a problem.

UA: Great. UNION is in somewhat of a unique situation in that you and Bruce are both bringing an established fan base into what would otherwise be a “new” band. For the fans who might be coming from the KISS point of view and who aren’t as familiar with you, would you mind going over some basic background information?

Well, I’m originally from Philadelphia, PA. I moved out to LA and I’ve probably been here about eleven or twelve years now. I did the whole cover band thing back in Philadelphia and started to do some originals but there wasn’t really a market for it back there, so I came out here with my wife actually. I was married at the time, and I came out here on just kind of an anniversary trip and I just fell in love with it. I thought it was great. That was back when like Guns n Roses were just playing in clubs and Poison was like the biggest thing. None of these bands had really gotten a record deal yet, but I was just looking around in what they call the Sunset Strip now, just looking at all these people with like big hair and crazy clothes, and it just wasn’t happening like that Philadelphia so I came out here and said, “I need to be here.” I guess that was in May 1986 or something, we moved out here in October, so I’ve been here ever since. And basically the band that I was in in Philadelphia we kind of came out one by one, and we reformed out here.

Bruce Kulick – The KISS Asylum Interview

©Elizabeth Sneed/Elizabeth A. White – Please do not reprint/reproduce without express written permission.

KA: Bruce, you must be very relieved that “Carnival of Souls” is finally being released after well over a year of being in limbo. Perhaps you could run down the tracks on the album and give fans your thoughts on each song.

“Hate” – A very aggressive track form Gene that is very heavy and mean, classic Gene in the “Unholy” vibe.

“Rain” – A dark and slippery track that Paul wails on in the chorus. Nasty guitar work that I love. Trippy time signature too.

“Master & Slave” – A great, catchy riff from Paul that was a tough one to arrange, but it really shines with a dark bridge and great ending.

“Childhood’s End” – Gene’s opus to a friend, not sure if the friend is real. Great classic hooks and lots of production, kids and all, in an Ezrin fashion. Recording debut of my signature ESP in the solo, with double harmony guitar there.

“I Will Be There” – Great acoustic stuff here with Paul on 12 string and me on a 6 string acoustic with a classical guitar solo on nylon strings, which was a KISS first. Written for Evan, Paul’s kid.

“Jungle” – A nasty bass line with a wild, repeating guitar riff that sets up a jungle rhythm. Very much fun to play and reminds me of one of my favorite bands, CREAM.

“In My Head” – Dark, ugly and relentless guitars and vocals from Gene. Love the solo.

“It Never Goes Away” – Very moody song from Paul that has a 12 string Rickenbacker solo. Gene got me the Rickenbacker for my B-day!

“I Confess” – Very moody again from Gene. We used a string section on this that I played along with on my signature ESP. Cool, trippy Les Paul solo in the middle and at the end…. sounds like I was drunk!

“Seduction of the Innocent” – Gene’s trip to the middle east with tablas and all. Cool slide guitar from me with lots of delay for the dreamy effect.

“In the Mirror” – Some Hendrixy stuff from me there.

“I Walk Alone” – My epic song that was very hard, but that I am very proud of. It was fun to sing, but to recreate the demo with all the backward stuff was a challenge. I am very proud of how it came out and it was a prophetic title for me.

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