Thursday, July 24, 2014

Former Ministry, This Mortal Coil Members Join pinksideofthemoon

For Immediate Release
Contact: Joel Gausten/ gaustenbooks@gmail.com

Former Ministry, This Mortal Coil Members Join pinksideofthemoon

Legendary producer/mixer/guitarist/keyboardist John Fryer (This Mortal Coil) and former Ministry/RevCo producer/mixer/bassist Paul Barker have officially joined pinksideofthemoon, the “Electronica/Trip-hop/Space-Dub Dancefloor” project led by the Portland, OR-based husband-and-wife production/songwriting team of Lee and Jolee Popa. Now a quartet, pinksideofthemoon will focus their collective energies on new music and live performances during the final months of 2014.

One of the industry's most sought-after producers/mixers, John Fryer has worked with a stunning array of artists including Nine Inch Nails, Stabbing Westward, Cradle Of Filth, White Zombie, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Peter Murphy and HIM. As a musician, he is perhaps best known for his work with UK legends This Mortal Coil alongside 4AD Records co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell. His most recent project, DarkDriveClinic, released the album Noise in My Head in 2011. Lee and Jolee Popa (credited as pinksideofthemoon) created a remix for the DarkDriveClinic track “Find The Flaws” in 2012.

Originally with the Seattle-based Post-Punk band The Blackouts, Paul Barker was a member of Ministry alongside Al Jourgensen from 1986 to 2004, contributing songwriting and production to the band's most commercially successful period with albums like Psalm 69, The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and The Land Of Rape And Honey. His other projects have included Lead Into Gold, RevCo, Flowering Blight, Pink Anvil and U.S.S.A. Additionally, he produced two albums for the Texas-based act I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness.

A primary figure in the Industrial Rock scene since the late 1980s, Lee Popa served as live engineer for Ministry’s legendary 1989/1990 The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste tour (as documented on the 1990 live album, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up) and Killing Joke’s 1990/1991 Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions tour (as documented on the 2007 compilation Inside Extremities, Mixes, Rehearsals & Live). In addition to being an early member of the infamous Pigface, Popa’s extensive resume as a remixer/producer/sound engineer includes work with Living Colour (recording and mixing their 1994 Japan-only live album Dread), Korn, Prong, White Zombie, Danzig, KMFDM, Queen, Bad Brains, Zilch (the band featuring late Japanese music legend “hide”), Phantom Planet, Gnarls Barkley, The Phunk Junkeez and Bush, among countless others. He was also the frontman of The Slammin' Watusis, a Chicago-based act that released two albums on Epic Records in the late '80s.

Known to perform wearing sunglasses and a veil, the enigmatic Jolee Popa rarely shows her true face on the public stage, choosing instead to let her lyrics, voice and music be her connection to the world around her. The mysterious past of this one-time Timothy Leary associate is said to include stints as a “life coach” to artists as varied as Ministry, British Harlem and Macy Gray, while her musical exploits include production work with UK Progressive Metal act The Dark Sinatras and former Professionals guitarist Ray McVeigh. While some artists clamor for attention, Jolee prefers to simply let her sounds do all the talking.

In addition to performing in Brixton in recent years, pinksideofthemoon have built a strong base of fans, friends and supporters in Japan. The band's 2007 Japanese tour included stops at Club Plug and the legendary Club Goodman, while they have developed strong relationships with Japanese acts OWKMJ, Hifana, Hataken (synthesizer genius) and Akeyama Toyoaki.

The group is looking forward to performing in Japan with their new four-piece configuration.

We enjoy the culture of Japan and the interaction with the people tremendously,” Lee says. “We can't speak the language, but we make music that transcends everything.”

Launched in 2006, pinksideofthemoon released a self-titled debut CD in 2011 and the six-song darkmatter EP (featuring mixes by both Fryer and Barker, with assistance from Branden Harper and his arsenal of rare mid-century vintage drums with cutting-edge analog electronics) the following year. The EP can be streamed in its entirety at www.soundcloud.com/pinksideofthemoon. The band's official website is at www.pinksideofthemoon.info.

With Fryer and Barker now on board, pinksideofthemoon have arrived at their ideal lineup.

We don't need to add anybody else into the equation,” offers Lee. “These guys are our friends and family.”


(Photo by Giancarlo Tenorio/85 Photography)




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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crafting the Perfect Album: Inside Jade Starling's Captive



photo by Gretchen Johnson Photography

Very few artists are ever fortunate enough to record a perfect song, but Jade Starling did it.

In 1987, Starling and her group Pretty Poison hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Catch Me (I'm Falling),” one of the brightest moments in a decade full of incredible Pop music. The song (as well as its accompanying video) was inescapable that year, and appearances on TV and a spot on the soundtrack to the John Cryer film Hiding Out helped bring the song to #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. And as fans of Breaking Bad know, the song still has a strong place in popular culture.

Now, the voice of one of the world's most revered tracks is back with Captive (Subpoena/Universal), her amazing EDM-driven solo debut. Due out August 12 and created with longtime musical partner/Pretty Poison bandmate Whey Cooler, Captive finds Starling working with some of the world's greatest DJs and remixers, including Lee Dagger of the hugely successful English remix team Bimbo Jones (Lady Gaga/Rihanna/Kylie Minogue), Laszlo (Selena Gomez/Kelly Clarkson/Justin Bieber/Nicki Minaj) and Franck Dona (Universal France). In addition to stellar tunes, Captive features stunning cover art and other photos taken at the Eastern State Penitentiary (including the actual cell that once housed infamous mobster Al Capone) by Gretchen Johnson Photography. A true labor of love and easily the best Dance album of 2014, Captive took close to two years to complete.

Captive's first single, “Insomniak,” entered the Top 30 Billboard Dance Chart; the followup, “Think About U,” was released on July 18. As soon as the first notes of these or any other song on Captive meet your ears, it will be obvious to you that Starling is making music that is relevant today.





I think the Captive LP really runs the gamut of sounding new,” she explains. “I guess you could classify it more in the EDM genre, but there is a lot of ear candy on there; there's a lot of great hooks and great songs. Some are about love, some are about breaking up and some are about frustrations and – after so many months of making the album – just wanting to get away.”

The theme of “getting away” is especially evident on the “Place In The Sun,” which was written during one of the coldest east coast winters in history.

It just got to the point when I wrote that song, I was feeling like I needed a vacation really bad,” she shares. “I just needed to see the sun; I hadn't seen it in months.”

Starling conceptualized another Captive highlight, “Love Of A Lifetime,” after witnessing what some friends who had loved ones serving overseas were going through.

Love is such a universal thing,” she observes. “I think for anybody who has had to deal with a loved one going away for any great length of time – not necessarily [with the] military, but whatever the case will be – “Love Of A Lifetime” will really touch [you] and tug at your heartstrings. It's a very beautiful song.”

Love takes a darker turn on “Every Lil Beat,” which finds Starling channeling the painful side of romance.

'Every Lil Beat' is about loving someone so much that it's like an addiction,” she says. “As you know, addiction can be detrimental. It's like any drug; if you're craving love from this person all the time, it becomes almost like an obsession. [The song] was about just the pain that you feel when you love someone so much, but you know it's not good for you.

I think being hurt and having your heart broken are necessary in life, because it opens you up and makes you more aware,” she adds. “Some people are afraid to feel pain or any type of emotion. I think feeling pain, feeling hurt and feeling love and any kind of emotion has made me a much better songwriter. I think when you dip into the deep-rooted emotions, that's what touches people and what makes them feel what you're feeling when you're singing it.”

On a much lighter note, “Better And Better” is about pure animal attraction to another person – and the hunt that ensues.

That's a sexy song,” Starling says. “If you go to a club or a concert or whatever, you see somebody and just put your sights on them and want them so bad.”

Although Starling and Cooler already had a proven track record under the Pretty Poison moniker, they decided to release Captive as a Jade Starling solo album.

[Cooler] felt strongly about putting this record out as my solo record,” she recalls. “He is as equally a part of it as any Pretty Poison record – he's a co-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist on this record – but in order to get this out to a newer audience and have it be successful internationally, he felt it was best to put it out under my name. Since we're working with outside international DJs, remixes and producers, it has a much more international sound to it. I don't think the hardcore Pretty Poison fans will be disappointed at all, but I believe there is a new audience out there too that is totally ready for this record.”

It would be a mistake to refer to Captive as Starling's “comeback,” as she never really went away. For the past several years, she has performed (often as “Pretty Poison” or “Pretty Poison Featuring Jade Starling”) as part of the Freestyle Explosion Tour, an ongoing arena package that also boasts regular appearances by the likes of Lisa Lisa, Expose and Stevie B. The events draw crowds in the thousands.

There's a hardcore following for Freestyle music; there always has been,” offers Starling, who is currently the only artist on the tour to have new music available. “Now, those kids who followed us in the late '80s through the '90s until now are bringing their kids to the show. There's another generation that's into it. It's so phenomenal to see these people just screaming and dancing, and they know all the words. It's an amazing feeling [to] play on a stage for a crowd that large.”

photo by Gretchen Johnson Photography

Captive is the latest chapter in an intriguing career that has seen Starling and Cooler explore a variety of genres. Much closer to Siouxsie And The Banshees than to Stacey Q, the earliest incarnation of Pretty Poison was a Goth-tinged New Wave act that offered arresting originals (“Kill You”) in addition to an amazing cover of “No Tears” by San Francisco/European cult act Tuxedomoon.

I just liked the darkness of that song,” says Starling of the track. “It was dark, hypnotic and had a really good dance beat to it, too. Our music's always been danceable, but in those days, it was definitely darker and more mysterious and underground. We just thought we were too cool for school back then. (laughs)”

By 1987, the band evolved into the unbeatable Dance Pop act that spawned one of the '80s greatest tunes. In hindsight, “Catch Me (I'm Falling)” had a far greater impact on American culture than simply being undeniably catchy.

We were one of a handful of white artists to perform on Soul Train with Don Cornelius,” remembers Starling. “'Catch Me (I'm Falling)' really did break down the color barriers because it was #13 on the R&B chart, and that was unheard of for a white group. From there, we did The Arsenio Hall Show twice. We were very accepted in R&B and Pop. There weren't that many groups back then that could honestly say they were accepted in so many genes.”

Those were heady times for Starling and the rest of the group, with highlights including sharing a limo with Paula Abdul (who choreographed Pretty Poison's “Nighttime” video) to the Soul Train Awards and working with video director Bob Giraldi (Michael Jackson's “Beat It”) on the “Catch Me (I'm Falling)” clip.

It's pretty amazing to look back at the body of work that we've done, and the accomplishments,” she says. “I feel very blessed to actually still be able to do what I do, and that people still like it. When I hear 'Catch Me (I'm Falling)' on the radio, I still get a thrill. It's still exciting to me.”

Before making a live return to Pretty Poison in the late '90s, Starling pursued a decidedly different musical direction with Sex In Violets (S.I.V.), her Alternative Rock-fueled project with Cooler. Sex In Violets issued a CD circa 1994 called Deflowered that soon caught the attention of the Skater Kid contingent. It was Starling's chance to experience playing music to a completely different audience.

A lot of people weren't putting the two [groups] together, and I wasn't bringing it to their attention,” she recalls. “I was just trying to gauge it just by their reaction, and they were really loving it. But what happened was, in '97, we got called to do a tour with Pretty Poison.”

Pretty Poison's return the spotlight saw the classic track “Let Freedom Ring” become a smash Dance hit and a powerful anthem within the LGTB community. This left little room for S.I.V. to continue.

We kind of did an about face with the Rock thing,” Starling says. “We had written over 100 Rock songs, and I had to abandon the group because people were calling for Pretty Poison. That was our first big introduction to the industry – no way were we going to turn our back on that opportunity.”

With a powerful new album and legions of fans around the world, Jade Starling is ready to embrace the future. Naturally, that includes more work with Whey Cooler, who completes a truly special musical duo that has endured for decades.

Creatively speaking, he is the Lennon to my McCartney,” she says. “Sometimes, he can say 'black' and I can say 'white,' and then we put it together and it's gray and fantastic. I think great minds think alike, and we compliment each other. We have always just had a real talent to be able to make music and be creative together. I'm so happy that the relationship has lasted this long. Don't get me wrong; we do have our differences and we do fight and argue about stuff. I will argue a point 'til I'm blue in the face, but I respect him as a producer and songwriter. If he tells me I've got to sing it again or makes a suggestion, I will always give him the benefit of the doubt and try it. Sometimes, I end up liking [his idea] better. Sometimes, you really need somebody who's not going to 'yes' you, and I have to be thankful that he has been constructive in his criticisms. When I do something really good, [and] he praises it and says how great it is, I know that he really means it.”

Jade Starling will perform live August 9 at the 2014 EDM Showcase at the Cutting Room in New York and August 11 at DJ Expo 2014 in Atlantic City. Following a wildly successful appearance before 15,000 people on the Los Angeles stop in June, two more dates have been added for her on Live Nation’s Super Freestyle Explosion Tour in Orlando (Sept. 12) and Tampa (Sept. 13).

Jade Starling on the Web:

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Strange Dreams at the Speed of Life: Introducing Helio Parallax





As previously discussed on this website, legendary producer/musician Bill Laswell has an active hand in some of the world's most intriguing sounds. Naturally, it makes sense that the music released on his own M.O.D. Technologies label celebrates the kind of intriguing eclecticism that has become the man's trademark. A perfect example of the label's extensive aural palette comes in the form of the recently released self-titled debut collection by Helio Parallax.

Helio Parallax is the brainchild of bassist Josh Werner, whose extensive talents have been utilized by the likes of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Wu-Tang Clan and CocoRosie. Creating a musical core alongside Quincy Jones/Arto Lindsay collaborator Takuya Nakamura (bass/double bass, guitar, piano, programming, keys, trumpet, horn arrangements and vocals) and Dub Nomads/Chimp Beams/Shing02 beat maker Marihito Ayabe (dubbing, mixing/programming), Werner welcomes a slew of special guests to make Helio Parallax an instantly enjoyable collection of tunes from the Orb/Massive Attack school of groove.

Considering the sonic scenery the above description might invoke in one's mind, it might come as a surprise that the true stars of Helio Parallax are the horn players. Saxophonist Troy Simms brings the right amount of melancholia to the sedate “Nocturne of Secret Planets, while Doug Wieselman (Lounge Lizards/Antony and the Johnsons) adds a fantastic film noir vibe to “Frank's Lament.”

Other highlights include Yoshio Kobayashi's driving beat on “Kilgore Trout Dub,” the mellow presence of singer/songwriter Dustan Louque on “Strange Dream” and the smooth voice of impossible-to-dislike Reggae/Dancehall/Hip Hop/Dubstep artist Jahdan Blakkamoore on “Speed of Life.” And of course, Werner's extraordinary bass playing is all over this thing (especially on the exceptional Another Broken Human.”)

Helio Parallax shows the world what is possible when a group of players of the highest-possible caliber come together to create the ultimate chill-out soundtrack. Go HERE to order.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Words for Tommy Ramone


I was still in grade school when my drum teacher – a high school kid from the neighborhood – gave me a mix tape labelled “Punk” and encouraged me to check it out. Riding home on my bike, I had no idea what “Punk” was, let alone what it would sound like. Sitting on my bed later that day, I put on my headphones and hit “Play” on my Walkman.

Out came “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

In that instant, I learned that music wasn't just about entertainment – music could also be an indescribable, powerful force that could dramatically affect and influence the course of a person's life. My existence changed forever because of that one song.

Every band I've played in, every book and article I've written, every project I've ever undertaken has been the direct result of those 132 seconds.

The Ramones not only changed lives; they also saved them. Many of us know this to be true. There is no need for me to elaborate.

If you're a true Ramones fan, I know how it's been for you today. We've lost more than just the last original Ramone; we've lost something within ourselves.

All Ramones album are amazing, but Leave Home will forever be my favorite. The band's Pop sensibilities were never sharper; there was a bounce to the music on Leave Home that was never fully duplicated on future releases. There isn't a single note on that album that isn't utterly perfect. The greatest Punk album ever made. Nearly three decades (and thousands of records added to my collection) since I first heard it, Leave Home remains the album I've listened to the most in life. The album's co-producer? Tommy Ramone.

Fast-forward to my high school years, and Leave Home was joined by another irreplaceable album in my life, The Replacements' Tim. That band was never better. The album's producer? Tommy Ramone.

The evening before Tommy's passing, and with no prior knowledge of his illness and impending exit, I sat my 12-year-old stepson down and played him The Ramones for the first time. After all, it's my duty as a parent to steer him in the right direction in life. I explained to him how important this band was, and how they were responsible for so much of the music and culture around today. I told him that when he finds himself feeling down during life's many trials, The Ramones will save his ass every time.

I also gave him the best advice I'll ever offer as his stepfather: “Never trust anyone who doesn't like The Ramones.”

Tommy is gone, but now the next generation of my family knows his work. I was finally able to pay Tommy – and Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny – back.

Goodbye, Tommy. Thank you for giving us a better world.  

- Joel Gausten
July 12, 2014

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One Year Later

Today marks the first anniversary of this website. Thanks to everyone who has supported it by reading my work over the last 12 months. Extra thanks to the many news sites that brought www.JoelGausten.com to the global masses. And of course, thanks to the many artists, publicists and industry folks - and my wife Shannon, who had the original idea for the site - for their invaluable assistance along the way. Here are the Top 10 posts on the site from the first year, based on the number of hits received:

  1. Hated In New Hampshire (July 14, 2013)
  2. The Best of 2013 (December 29, 2013)  
The best is yet to come!

- Joel Gausten
June 18, 2014 


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Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Make ANOTHER Monster: The Son of Electric Frankenstein!





All great bands understand the value of making a visual statement to go along with their music. For New Jersey Punk Rock & Roll” veterans Electric Frankenstein (EF), this has meant nearly 25 years of awesome low-brow poster and album cover art. In 2004, guitarist Sal Canzonieri compiled Electric Frankenstein-related imagery from nearly 200 artists around the world for Electric Frankenstein! High-Energy Rock & Roll Poster Art, a stunning 160-page collection published by Dark Horse Books. Showcasing some of the greatest horror-themed art ever committed to print (including work by big leaguers like Coop, Frank Kozik and Mad Marc Rude), the book introduced the band to a greater audience and even found its way into the archives at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. Now, Canzonieri has assembled a second volume of band-related art for Son of Electric Frankenstein! More High-Energy Punk Rock & Roll Poster & Record Cover Art (BGT ENT), a collection of images from June 2003 to December 2013.

If you loved the first EF book, or are simply a fan of this art genre, Son of Electric Frankenstein is a can't-miss addition to your library. My personal favorites in the collection include Mike Hoffman's cover for the 2009 Electric Frankenstein comic book, the great Basil Gogos' cover for the 2005 EF album Burn Bright, Burn Fast! and Stainboy's extraordinary Frankensteinized take on Funkadelic's Maggot Brain:


Prints of this art are available for purchase at http://www.stainboyreinel.com/www/EF2.html


Of course, I'm also thrilled to see that Son Of Electric Frankenstein includes a variety of eye candy from the 2008 Canadian tour that EF did with me behind the drum kit – including the great Kustom Kulture carnage of Johnny Ace and Kali Verra:





Son of Electric Frankenstein also devotes space to artwork created for The Kung Fu Killers (KFK), a “secret” supergroup that may or may not have included past/present members of EF, Pigface, Christian Death and Shadow Project and may or may not have had yours truly on drums for a spell. To my eyes, Brett Parson's work below is the hands-down highlight of the featured KFK material:







On a personal note, I commend Sal for putting together yet another amazing project under the “Electric Frankenstein” banner. Even in his 50s, he still approaches every song, every show and every piece of art with inspiring energy and enthusiasm. I consider him – along with other hardworking people like Jerry Only and Martin Atkins – one of the true creative role models I've had to pleasure of watching up close and personal over the years. I want to be just like him when I grow up!


Order Son of Electric Frankenstein (and view more samples from the book)

Electric Frankenstein Facebook

Official Electric Frankenstein Website


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Monday, May 26, 2014

REVIEW - Arch Enemy: War Eternal (Century Media)




Major lineup changes are rarely accepted in the world of Hard Rock/Metal. It's been 10 years since Peter Criss last performed with KISS, but more than a few hardcore fans remain unwilling to accept Eric Singer – a guy who has actually held the drummer role longer than Criss and the late Eric Carr – in the Catman position. Although the “original” lineup of Black Sabbath continues to sell out venues around the world, there are several longtime supporters who simply can't stomach the idea of Tommy Clufetos keeping the beat. Of course, this reluctance to embrace a new member often stems from inner-band turmoil that spills into the press, leading many fans to feel the need to choose sides and loyally defend their chosen member(s). On the other end of the spectrum, Metal veterans Arch Enemy handled the departure of much beloved singer Angela Gossow and the arrival of former Agonist vocalist Alissa White-Gluz in an utterly refreshing way. For example, Gossow has offered public support of White-Gluz, while the cover of the June 2014 issue of Terrorizer  shows her literally passing the torch to her replacement. Naturally, such actions make it kind of tough for Arch Enemy fans to get into Internet battles over which singer is more deserving of the job or debate over band politics. Unlike countless bands that fall victim to mudslinging (their own as much as their fans'), Arch Enemy addressed this situation with class and grace and set an example of how other bands could treat similar matters in the future.

And with that, let's dive into Arch Enemy’s 10th and arguably best album.

Showcasing Arch Enemy's typical ability to balance aggression and melody, the extremely well-produced War Eternal showcases an absolutely bulletproof band. Any doubts over White-Gluz's ability to deliver vocals worthy of the name Arch Enemy are instantly blown away by her intense growls on “Never Forgive, Never Forget,” a blastbeast-heavy stunner that offers some downright extraordinary musicianship at the 2:16 mark.

Beyond White-Gluz's impressive presence, War Eternal boasts plenty of stellar guitar playing (especially at the 2:19 mark in “On And On,” during the first half-minute of “No More Regrets” and basically in all 323 seconds of “Time Is Black”). Three cheers to founding member Michael Amott and new six-stringer Nick Cordle for delivering performances that offer plenty of dramatics without once hinting at pretentiousness. Best of all, the songs on War Eternal (especially the hook-heavy “As The Pages Burn” and the epic “You Will Know My Name”) instantly get in your head and stay there for days.

And Daniel Erlandsson is an absolute monster behind the drums, as always.

Nearly 20 years after their formation, Arch Enemy have once again raised the bar for groups creating melodic, song-oriented Metal that still retains plenty of power. There's not a single note on War Eternal that doesn't shine. This is easily a contender for the Metal album of the year.




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