John Craigie [Artist]

John Craigie2I believed I was finding myself being able to wander away the world of country-folk music and into something a little more dangerous, and maybe a bit louder, but like always I was drug back to from where I came when I heard the beautiful and melodic styling of San Francisco based folk smith John Craigie.  This mellow strumming and harmonica blowing cat pieces together some of the finest folk-pop meets country rock and Cajun-fuzed blues you will ever here.  And the storytelling is nothing to scoff at either, songs mixed with any emotion you can dream of, from the happy go lucky-”we can do this” positivity, to the hopeless gloom-monging that is still absolutely beautiful.

And much like I always say about the gifted ones that I’ve showcased…John Craigie is a guy you really should see live.  I have never had the privilege of doing so, but I would love if John made his way to Spain so I could experience such a beautiful and calming spectacle.  Just listening the the live version of “Let’s This Over When We’re Sober and Not At Burning Man” really gets me grooving, and I could only imagine how wonderful it would be see this wonderful songsmith in person.  And while it may be a while before I get to experience the joy of seeing this jive country cat jam in person, my fine readers in the States are in luck.  As he often does, Craigie will be hitting the road very soon and coming to a town near you!  Check out his WEBSITE for more details, but here are a few stops he will be making:

April 18th – The Bartlett in Spokane, Washingto

April 23rd – Common Grounds in Spearfish, South Dakota

April 24th – Walnut Room in Denver, Colorado

April 26th – Harmony Music House in Boulder, Colorado

April 29th – Side Door Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska

April 30th – 331 Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota

May 1st – Uncommon Ground in Chicago, Illinois

May 3rd – The Bridge in Columbia, Missouri

May 4th – The Gramaphone in St. Louis, Missouri

May 7th – Raccoon River Brewing Company in Des Moines, Iowa

May 9th – Studio 909 in Washington, Iowa

May 10th – Racoon River House Concerts in Coon Rapids, Iowa

May 29th – Playwright Public House in Ashland, Oregon

May 30th – Marshall Grange Hall in Garden Valley, California

June 1st – Redwood Mountain Faire in Felton, California

June 4th – Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, California

June 14th – KC Turner House Concert Series in San Francisco, California

June 17th – Humboldt Machine Works in Arcata, California

 

John CraigieAll of these great gigs and the summer hasn’t even showed up yet!  You all have been fine readers, so you owe it to yourselves to join in the on the fun with John Craigie wherever he may be closest to you.  And be sure to pick up a copy of of his 2013 album The Apocalypse Is Over, as well as the rest of this dude’s immaculate and extensive collection.  Treat yourself to some wonderful tunes that will hopefully inspire you all to love, live, and brush your cares away for at least a short while whilst hearing some absolutely beautiful songs from the likes of John Craigie.

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen [Book]

Bad Monkey by Carl HiaasenAndrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.

- GOODREADS.COM

 

I stumbled upon this little book by Carl Hiaasen simply by process of elimination.  Our local library here has a very limited selection of audiobooks.  I’ve resorted to scouring the world wide web for books to listen to while I cook up so atrociously too crazy dinners for my family, and have had some success.  But, sometimes it is just easier to pop in a disc every once in a while without the worry of wifi signals being as distorted as tween romance connections.  But, as I mentioned, the library here is very limited.  In fact, basically anything I may be interested in, I have already featured in this series.  The last two Stephen King books I reviewed were part of this category.  And unless I really want to torture myself with some bullshit John Grisham law fiction, or the enter Fifty Shades series, the library is pretty much dead to me now.  (Note:  I do read REAL books, but the joy of audiobooks is a great blessing for a husband and father of three with a full time job.)

Carl HiaasenBut, no matter how I came across the work of Mr. Hiaasen, I am certainly glad I did.  I have previously mentioned that I am not one for books that primarily follow cops.  But, I am a big fan of comedic based mystery novels, which often times featured cops.  So, you take the good, you take the bad, take the rest and then you have….well, you get the point.  Bad Monkey turned out to be an absolutely amazing little story, that if not taken to seriously, is a fine read.  Hiaasen has a unique way of forming a story in a manner the likes of the which I have rarely known.  Bad Monkey is written in a (sort of) third person nature, but has a personalized feel for whichever character happens to be the main feature for the given chapter.  He is mostly writing for or about the book’s protagonist Andrew Yancy, but he switches it up at just the right time, to sort of understand what other key players are thinking at any given time, during whatever scenario may be occurring at that particular moment.  Although it is safe to say that the common reader is continuously going to be wishing nothing but the best for Inspector Yancy, and will be thoroughly upset when things don’t go his way, and rejoice when he makes a break through.

The “mystery” of Bad Monkey is discovered rather early on in the reading, which was sort of strange to say the least.  But, Hiaasen won’t let a reader off that damn easy!  There are still plenty of mysteries to be discovered and surprises to be found.  And while I had never heard of Hiaasen, I soon learned through the good people of the internet that this is a very common trait for this well loved author.  Folks have continuously praised the man as one of the finest comedic mystery writers of our day.  And if Bad Monkey is but one example of how great he truly is, I know that I will be digging in a bit more into this cat.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #14. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

10 (more) Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 (and one 90′s R&B track for good measure) [Exclusive]

girlsA few months ago I posted our first session of 10 Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 with an immense of pride in my beautiful three little daughters.  They had become immersed in some really good tunes during the time that I was away in the Land of the Morning Calm thanks to my lovely wife. But, alas, we went and “fucked it all away” as one track on the following list might state.  Where did we go wrong?  Well, a little film from the small and minute company known as “Disney” but out yet another one of their silly little animated movies.  It was called Frozen.  And it soon took over our motherfucking lives with a steel reprimand hoisted above the once high heads we were once holding so high in pride for the coolness we thought we had instilled upon our children.

I would soon learn about some sort of “Let It Go” video craze, in which parents would film their kids singing this damn song from the movie (maybe, you have heard it?  You know, if you have ears and basic cable?).  It became phenomenon.  Awards were one, the creators were praised, College Humor dissed, blah, blah blah.  Hell, I certainly could have uploaded several versions of the videos myself if I were so self inclined.  The girls just would not stop singing these goddamned songs.  Yet I could not bring myself to act upon such types of douchebaggery.  Even though, as some of you know, I am all about exploiting the cuteness of my kids for a few hundred page views (this post being simple proof), but even I could not bring myself to gravitate towards such hapless and classless measures.  I began to instantly regret the trip to Vancouver we took to watch this ridiculous movie at a comfortable Cinetopia.

But, alas, we are trying to regain our daughter’s coolness.  Although, just recently Frozen was released on home video, so the efforts might be stalled.  But, alas, we are still trying.  I have recently introduced my youngest daughter to the beauty of Bob Dylan, and she seems to be taking a liking to it.  Many of the other tracks on here are one’s they have loved, have learned to love, so on and so on.  Some of them are disputably “indie”, but I am not getting into that argument over some songs that are good for kids.  Besides, it is a long slow recovery from the addiction of Demi Lovato and Disney movies.  But we are slowly helping them back towards the road to recovery.  Even if that means letting them enjoy a few Mumford and Sons songs.  So, here I present to you 10 more great indie rock songs for kids under 10.  And yeah, in the event of their recovery, and current relapse, I decided I would introduce a song that was absolutely the bee’s freaking knees when I was 9 years old.  Which is not a even a rock song at all, but a stellar 90′s stylized R&B song that I think history will someday show as a brilliant addition to the world of music.

So, I offer up these next few songs up to all of those who may be willing to take up arms against the devilishly catchy tunes that bullshit pop stars and the Disney corporation may try to infest upon the world.  And also as an apology to all of those who have managed to keep their kids successfully cool for all of these years.  Please show me the ways.  With that being said, please enjoy 10 (More) Great Indie Rock Songs For Kids Under 10 ( and one 90′s R&B track for good measure).

Note:  The tracks that are Bob Dylan covers were by chosen at random by me because I thought they sounded cool and did cool covers.  It was the original versions of the songs from Blood on the Tracks that made my daughter happy.  I just felt this might bring me some sort of salvation.  Alright, enjoy!

 

 

The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still

Tom Russell – Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan cover)

Jonathan David – If You See Her Say Hello (Bob Dylan cover)

Twin Forks – Back To You

The Weepies – Gotta Have You

The Shins – New Slang

Mumford and Sons – Broken Crown

The Lumineers – Stubborn Love

Sea Wolf – Middle Distance Runner

Of Monsters and Men – Your Bones

And for a bit of good measure, I’ve also turned my kids onto this classic gem of a track:

Soul For Real – Candy Rain

Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer [Book]

Death Machines of DeathAll machines suddenly come to life for some reason and go on a rampage to kill every human being on the planet. It’s kind of like that movieMaximum Overdrive, only ten time as fucking brutal!

Welcome to the Big Old Gaylord Opryland Resort! Do you lack the energy to get a date? Are you batshit insane and looking for a cure? Are you a pants-shitting senior who wants to stop being old? Do you hate Stephen King? Then, this weekend, there’s a seminar for you! Sure, there’s a comet flying through space bringing all machinery to life and killing everybody, but don’t worry about that! Here, have a sandwich! Visit our many attractions! See our massive convention center (of death), our beautiful atrium (of death), and our arcade (of death)! Ignore the massive senior citizen orgy. Don’t talk to the kid in the wheelchair. We guarantee the elevator will not transform you into a cyborg. Mr. Coffee isn’t trying to kill you. And there is absolutely nothing suspicious going on in the basement. (Don’t go down there though, seriously).

Take a load off, have a good time, and prepare to die!

Death Machines of Death is an apocalyptic horror comedy by Vince Kramer that just so happens to be a million times better than anything you’ve ever read before. And if you think for one minute that those boring literary classics like The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick are better than this, then you’re fucking stupid!

- VINCEKRAMER.WORDPRESS.COM

 

What the hell really needs to be said about this book?  The motherfucker is called Death Machines of Death!!!  How cool is that shit right there?  With a title likes this, there is absolutely no chance in hell that this isn’t going to be fantastic, which is most definitely is.  I don’t know if I have literally laughed out loud whilst reading a book like I did when I was reading this one.  It is hilarious, it is gruesome, it is just so much fun!  It’s like Maximum Overdrive for the rest of us, the ones who veer towards the absurdity over the thrills.  And I truly believe that if Vince Kramer had decided to veer from is incredibly unique style of bizarro narrative, it really would have been pretty boring.  But, with Vince Kramer behind the keypad, boredom is something you will never have to worry about.

Vince KramerI have not quite entirely explored the world of Bizarro fiction, but I do find it absolutely intriguing.  Of all the titles I have noticed, it seems to be an absolutely fascinating take on the world of fantasy and science fiction.  And in my own personal opinion, makes it not so god damned boring.  In Kramer’s work alone, there is no reasoning and explanations for such bizarre shit to happen such as a gaggle of masturbating senior citizens or bowie knife swindling Jesus.  It just happens!  And it is awesome!  Say what you will about this strange style of writing, but even Stephen King could never hold my attention this well.  Just have some fun with this shit people!

Loyal readers of TWS may remember Vince Kramer from a Guest Wreckers feature we posted last year about Pornographic Action Figure Erotica (Noobs- please report here, and get on our level, maggots).  And just as he can do with toys, Vince uses his words the make the obscure and deranged just a shitload of fun.  Last year I also introduced myself to his work with his debut novel Gigantic Death Worm, which I also highly recommend.  Both of Kramer’s books are short in nature, but cram packed with excitement and hilarity.  To put it simply, Vince Kramer creates some of the tastiest junk food for the brain you will ever taste.

Pick up your own copy of Death Machines of Death at AMAZON.  And while you are there, find Gigantic Death Worm.  Get them both because, once you finish one, you are definitely going to be begging for more, you truly sick son of a bitch.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #13. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

Dan Frank [Interview]

Dan FrankEach and every day I become more and more intrigued by the immense creativity and talent that exists, even in places I would never expect to find.  For example: I am searching the YouTube universe for instructions on how to make some cocktails, as I often do.  And what should I stumble upon but some promotional videos for something called Bikini Kitchen, which features adult film stars instructing the viewer on how to make delicious cocktails, smoothies, etc.  The first thing I could think of was simply, what the hell?  How did this become a thing?  And my inquisitive spirit took hold and I completely forgot about the cocktails I was looking to make.  Instead, I moved on over to IMDB and looked into the series.  What, or should say Who, I discovered was definitely not what I was expecting.

Bikini Kitchen was developed and directed by a man named Dan Frank.  And before you start to think that Mr. Frank is some sort of exploitive mastermind (which he sort of is I guess), hold that thought.  I began to look into Dan’s career a bit further and found him to be a truly fascinating filmmaker who has worked in so many different realms in the world of filmmaking.  As a music lover, I became fascinated with a project he has in development entitled Coachella Massacre (please let Arcade Fire be the headliner and first to go!!!) and an adorable and intriguing documentary entitled Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience.  And then there is yet another documentary about medical marijuana.  All of these things, and more, from a guy I thought had his world revolve around scantly clad women making him dirty martinis.  It just goes to show that you never know somebody until you really get to know them and what they are about.

So I decided I would love to get to know Dan Frank a little bit more.  And I will be a son of a bastard priest if I didn’t find out even more intriguing details about this extremely talented filmmaker when he was so kind to answer a few questions for us.  So ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the illustrious Dan Frank.

 

Your work as a director for the series Bikini Kitchen is a bit of a stray from some of your other work. How did you become involved with this series?

In the spring of 2008, my documentary Medicinal was screening at Festival de Cannes in the market. Someone hypothetically asked me what I would make for the Food Network for a young male demographic… so jokingly, I came up with Bikini Kitchen. Next thing I knew, Tom Hillery from Starlights Productions had invested enough money for us to make 26 episodes. I had already worked with Mimi Miyagi in both Devil’s Canyon and Little Bruno. I thought the idea of an adult star making drinks was very sexy, and it would attract a younger demographic. Stormy Daniels was awesome and great to work with.

You have worked hand in hand with writer Daniel Calestina on several different projects. What is it that you enjoy about working with Mr. Calestina? What makes things work for you two?



My real name is Daniel Frank Celestina. In 1996, I was DJing at raves and clubs in San Francisco under the name Dan Frank. When I decided to become a director, the name just stuck with me. After I made my first movie, It’s All In A Night’s Work, I decided to put my real name on anything that had to do with ownership, like writing and executive producing.

Dan Frank2How did you come across the stars of Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience? And what intrigued you enough to make a film about them?
Frank & Chip: the Olympic Experience is about my grandparents, who lived during The Great Depression and went on to do great things. Other than wanting to honor my grandparents for being one of the first married couples to participate in the same Olympics, I was in the middle of my own “Great Depression.” I hit rock bottom on a bad investment at the wrong time. I had to completely start over. So just as my grandparents utilized their talents during the Great Depression to achieve greater things, I needed to do the same. Something I said over and over to myself was, “Why can’t I?” 
In 1983, my sister made a scrapbook about my grandparents, so I grew up thinking about making that movie from the age of 8. This was the movie that made me truly want to become a filmmaker. I started putting Frank & Chip together in 2009, and I finished it in April of 2012.

If you could create the biopic for any famous individual in American history, who would it be?

Well, it’s funny you ask that. I just finished Speed Dragon, starring Bai Ling, which is a rock ‘n’ roll drama. I really love music, history and anything that has to do with counter-culture… and so I am currently in the very early stages of development of my next biopic. It is a rock ‘n’ roll love story. At AFM in November of 2013, I met Ashley Cordelia, an actress and writer who came to me with the idea of a love story about a famous rock and roll couple from the 1960s. Instantly, I knew it was a brilliant idea. A love story about one of the most influential counter-culture couples of all time was absolutely the next thing I wanted to tackle… and after two months, we finished the screenplay. We are just waiting for the copyright to go through before we move forward. I’ve always been into counter-culture, and I’ve always made sure to express it in everything one of my movies. Long live classic rock!

I have come to understand that you have a project in pre-production entitled Coachella Massacre. Can you give us any details about this project?

On January 1st, 2013, we lost a major contributor to the Coachella Massacre producing team. Matt Calonica, one of my best friends and producer-mate, died suddenly of a heart attack. It was the most devastating loss of my life. I miss him everyday. Matt helped produce all my movies from 2005 and on. Things started to spiral out of control a little bit, so I decided to put everything on hold. Over the past year, I decided to not direct Coachella Massacre and rather to find the perfect director to do so. While I was at the Texas Film Awards, I met the agent of an actor who wants to direct it, and we are currently discussing and working out the details. So it will be on it’s way again very soon.

Anything else we should be on the lookout for in the near future? Anything you would like to promote?

In 2013, Speed Dragon, a rock n roll drama starring Bai Ling premiered at Festival de Cannes, and also screened at the American Film Market. This was my most favorite screening yet. It won Best Feature at the New York International Film Festival, and is now being represented by ITN Distribution.
While living in Paris in July 2013, I started making The Green Fairy, a fantasy-documentary about the history of Dan Frank3Absinthe from 1730 to 1915. The interesting part about this one is that I filmed all over the world. I started in Switzerland, then France, then England, and then finally back in the USA. I filmed in New Orleans and Los Angeles. I have a fantastic cast and I plan to premiere it before Mardi Gras 2016 with the help of many local businesses in New Orleans, since that is where Absinthe was first exported to from France. And then The Green Fairy will go to Cannes.

What was the last thing that made you smile?


Answering these questions. It’s nice sometimes to sit back and look at what you’ve accomplished. I know I am far from where I want to be, but I couldn’t be happier doing anything else, meeting and working with the people that I do. I wouldn’t have been able to have done any of this without my family and my very close friends. I love them all.

Cas One [Artist]

Cas OneA couple of months ago we announced that the Trainwreck’d Society Person of 2013 was going to be awarded to a brilliant indie hip hop artist, Alexander Hallet, also known as Bodi.  In the manner we are accustomed to, we went looking for his friends to ask a couple of questions.  One of those said friends was the very Jacob Snider, also known as Cas One.  I had listened to Cas One before, and really dug it.  But, I don’t believe I ever really LISTENED to Cas One.  I’m sure you all understand what I am getting.  But, now I think I have heard him enough to realize that I had really been missing out on a man with a message all this time.  But, hey, we all make mistakes, at least I know better now.

Not so long ago, I discovered a beautiful track released by Sadistik as a free download on a digital album simply titled “Other Songs”.  That track was called “Savior Self”.  After one listen, I realized I just heard what could be considered the super group of some sort of gathering of revolutionaries who are out on the streets doing all they can to keep hip hop relevant.  I mean, sweet shit of christ.  Along with Sadistik we had Bodi, Kristoff Kane, Eyedea (R.I.P.), and…… Cas One.  The last one being the man who stole the show in just a few bars, with some of the finest poetry I have ever heard in lyrical form.  Just look at this:

“This one’s for the vices, the advice I never took
Those stairways I mistook for pages in my notebook
Those old cold looks that grab ahold of soul and shook
Hold my head up while I hold your hand and write my book
Oh look, that crooked little window got some blinds
I never pull em down though, they see straight inside
It’s like we changed minds, still stand in the middle
Don’t know how I keep it, I used to keep it always
Touch hands with ghosts and still walk through these hallways
Keep myself sane with the music on the long days
Seasons still change, I keep a piece of em always
Faces rearrange, they just memories in a crawlspace
They wanna walk the shoes but never learned to tie the lace”

This little bit of genius was absolutely intriguing to me.  But even this pales in comparison to the rest of his work I would soon discover.  His latest album, The Monster and The Wishing Well, is one of the greatest works of hip hop I have heard since, well, Bodi’s The Fall of Atlas.  I guess the main focal loin to get across here is that great company certainly keeps great company.  And whether they are joining forces, or guiding their own path, it is imperative to note that they are absolutely brilliant at what they do.

One of Cas One’s greatest attributes as a songwriter and rapper is his ability to write truly personal and somewhat detailed songs, yet leaves them just a bit open ended enough for the listener to gently place their own personal feelings into the words between the man and his beat.  One needs to look no further than “The X”, a song I stumbled upon on YouTube, that is a perfect example of a life event that too many of us had to deal with with so much haste, all the while doing all we can to remain righteous and continue moving on.  You really need to listen to the song to understand what I am getting here.  This is the type of wonderful song somebody would throw up on their Facebook Timeline with some sort of vague statement aimed at a certain someone.  If you wanted to look even further, which I suggest you do, “The Get Down” from The Monster and The Wishing Well is an even more serious statement on a very serious matter.  In fact, listen to it now:


If you are a fan of truly great hip hop music, Cas One is an artist you should definitely give a listen to.

 

Pick up some great Cas One tunes at his WEBSITE.

Jim Towns [Interview]

headshotEver once in a great while, I tend to come across an individual in the independent film world that strikes me as absolutely amazing, and I become amazed that their talents are only now beginning to become acknowledged.  And they each seem to have one common aspect with one another:  Drive!  Regular readers may remember folks like Jacob Vaughan or Dan Dobi or Christian Grillo, etc., who we interview some time ago.  Well, now I have a really damn great filmmaker in our digital pages.  Introducing (although I shouldn’t have to), the great Jim Towns.

I recently discovered Mr. Towns when I got word that his latest film, House of Bad, had completely sold out on Amazon, and I was instantly intrigued.  I have spoken with several different folks from the indie horror world, and I knew this was quite the feet that should not be ignored.  I became instantly intrigued and decided I just had to investigate further.  And that is even before I watched House of Bad, and instantly understood the mass appeal.  It is an amazing film with the perfect blend of tension and terror.  It is a beautifully crafted indie horror masterpiece.  So, I thought it would be great to steal a few words from Jim Towns to tell us a bit more about House of Bad, his introduction to the film world, and……working on the TV show Reba.  Yep, Reba.  Enjoy!

 

When did you first realize you wanted to work in the world of film?

I came up through illustration, painting and comics, actually. That’s what I majored in in college. But growing up I’d always shot films with my friends and that cinematic style always influenced me in my artwork. It wasn’t until about 1999 when digital video and non-linear editing systems really came on that I started seeing the possibilities for taking the stories I was trying to tell on paper and making them come to life. One of the first digital films my friend Mike McKown and I created was a short called The Sleep of Reason, about a man in a turn-of-the-century insane asylum who’s in love with the nurse giving him electro shock treatment. It’s up on Youtube. I’d done it as a short black and white comic in college, but what I found was I could imbue the story with so many more subtleties in this new medium- for me, there was really no going back.

Has directing always been your number one goal when it comes to being a part of the world of film?

Pretty much. I enjoy screenwriting and have written a few films for other directors, but I enjoy taking on the challenge of taking something from the page that I wrote months or even years ago and making it come to life. Writing is a very solitary exercise, which can be nice, but I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie that happens on set when you have a gang of folks all busting their humps to get all the day’s shots done before wrap. It’s hard but when you work with good people like I do, that challenge can be a lot of fun.

How did you come up with the concept for House of Bad?  What was your “inspiration” per say?

I’d had the idea of these three women stuck in a room (originally it was a motel room) with a suitcase full of stolen drugs for a long time. From back when I was doing comics and illustration. So it was originally going to be a graphic novel. Then when I started getting into film I was doing a lot of more artistic/experimental work, and I had the idea to put it on as a black box theater play, and then film it. Ultimately the cinematic nature of the story asserted itself, and in 2011 when I was looking for a straight-up bare bones thriller to shoot, there it was waiting for me. The idea of marrying the supernatural horror of the house with the real-world terror of the girls being hunted by the drug dealer they stole from emerged around that time, and from there the story all fell into place.

jim 2012 medExactly how excited were you to learn that Amazon had completely sold of copies of House of Bad?  Were you surprised at all? 

The release was kind of exciting and frustrating and mind-blowing all at once. I’ve never had a film come out on this level, with this much press and critical acclaim and all. The ramp up was really intense- that whole month of November I was doing tons of web interviews and radio and we were promoting online like crazy, so it was all a bit of a blur, but an amazing blur. I think Amazon wasn’t quite ready for how big the demand was going to be, and we were sold out by like 4PM the day of the release. Crazy. Then they restocked and we sold out again the next week. Our awesome PR chief Clint Morris and my producers Scott and Dorota and I were constantly communicating with a lot of fans online asking for their patience until all the backordered copies finally shipped, but they did and hopefully everyone thought it was worth the wait.

It’s an incredible compliment to have that kind of demand for something you’ve created, and I’m really appreciative to my producers, our distributor Osiris, October Coast PR, and the cast and crew for all pitching in to help get us to this point.

I noticed through some research (on IMDB, so it could be wrong) that you worked as a Production Assistant on the hit television show Reba.  That is quite a different setting from the terror filled movies you create in your own time!  But tell us if you will, are there any similarities to working on a family friendly show featuring a country music sensation and working on an independent horror film?  And besides the obvious things like budgets and special effects, what is so drastically different between the two?

Reba was my first real gig when I moved out to LA in 2005 with everything I could fit in the back of my Saturn. I was lucky to get the job, and luckier still that my first experience on a studio production was with the nicest production company and crew working in TV. In my experience that kind of attitude always comes straight down from the top. I’m not a huge country fan, but I knew who Reba was of course (one of our first conversations was about one of my favorite films, Tremors). It was intimidating at first, but Reba’s an incredible blend of talent and instinct and class, mixed with humility, courtesy, an incredible work ethic and an unrelenting drive to be the absolute best she can be. I’ve since worked with more than a few people that are labeled “superstars”, but let me tell you, that woman owns the title. What I learned from Reba is, when you’re the head of whatever you’re making, be it a sitcom or a film or whatever, if you really want to inspire everyone you have to set the example as far as your work ethic goes, which is what she always did. I really hope I’ll get to work with her again in some capacity someday.

As far as being different- I mean really, whatever format you’re doing- a 30 minute TV comedy or a 90 minute horror film- it’s really just all about actors saying lines and recording them on some form of media until you can put it together to make a complete story. At its most basic level that’s all we do… so the difference is maybe less than some people might think. Of course a studio-budgeted sitcom works on a much bigger scale than a small indie horror film. There are a lot more assets and luxuries- which are nice of course- but along with all those come a lot more people to please: producers to listen to, stars to manage, network executives to deal with. It’s not exactly a streamlined process. At the moment I’m pitching a ½ hour zombie sitcom around, so I very well may find myself in a similar position someday soon, but for right now I enjoy the fluidity of working small and fast, lean and mean.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming project 13 Girls?

 13 Girls is on track to hopefully film this summer. It’s about a troubled female detective who is assigned to investigate the group suicide of a graduating class at an all-girls Catholic high school. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she discovers a demonic force at work behind the scenes, and is forced to face her own dark past in order to confront the evil and protect her world. The film stars Sadie Katz from House of Bad, who’s fantastic of course, on and off set, as well as some cool genre actors folks may know, like Daniel Roebuck and P.J. Soles. It’s a real step up in scale from House of Bad, and I think people are gonna dig it.

What else does the future hold for Jim Towns?  Any other projects you are working on that you can tell us about?

We’re in the early stages on a film I wrote which was originally called A Man with a Gun, but is now titled 2 Hell and Back. It’s set in the American Dustbowl era, and is about a retired gunman who makes a deal with the devil after his wife and son are killed. It’s got tons of action and horror and martial arts, so it should be a real cool film. So far we’ve attached Tony Todd and Dani Lennon to star in it, and right now we’re looking at locations to shoot as diverse as New Mexico, Spain, Canada and Australia.

If you could tell (or re-tell) the story of any famous serial killer, psychopath, murderer, etc. in history what would it be?  Why?

Hmm… that’s tough. I’m actually not that huge into the whole serial killer/true crime thing. It’s pretty done. I really liked Caleb Carr’s books The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, which both have a loose base in historical fact. Those would be fun to try to adapt into films, I think. I’ve also worked up what I think is a pretty unique take on Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, which might make it a little more cinematically dynamic than what’s been done to date. Hopefully that may happen someday.

jim san pedro 1 medWhat was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife and I recently adopted an alley cat who used to hang out around our place, and now he’s pretty comfortable around us. Sometimes I leave my door open when I write, and he’ll wander in and hang out. He’s pretty good at letting me bounce ideas off him. Every writer should have a trusty assistant like that.

 

Pick up your own copy of House of Bad, which is once again available at Amazon.com

Jade Sylvan [Artist]

Jade Sylvan2I want to be frank right from the start with this post.  This is indeed a feature on the amazingly talented author/actress/all sorts of cool things Jade Sylvan and her upcoming tour of the Great Northwest.  I will definitely get to that as I really want all of you to know about it, and everyone I know in the area to attend and/or listen to the events she will be attending.  But, there is another story that I really want to tell.  It is the tale of how I have come to “know” Jade, which is really a tale of how wonderful the internet can be, despite it’s sometimes well deserved ill reputation, and how the marketing and networking effects of this modern technology can lead to discovering some brilliant works and developing grand friendships.

I have been trying to mentally sketch exactly just how far back I should go in this tale, and it I believe I have found the majestic culprit.  That being said, I really don’t know how exactly I came in contact with the first person, but it is a good enough place to start I believe.  In fact the original culprit may very well be a little social media enterprise that once ruled the kingdom of the inter webs known as MySpace.  But, in an effort to make this a more human interaction amongst the galaxies of satellites and laser beams that consist of a millennia’s worth of information, I will name some names.  Not to sound to cliché, but “it all started with…..” current Y La Bamba bassist and vocalist Ben Meyercord.  I discovered Ben way back in 2008 when I started to realize that it was quite possible to continue to hear music from my homeland, the Northwest, even though I was stranded out in the prairie of South Dakota.  Listening to his then solo project simply titled Meyercord, I then discovered that Ben had been doing some writing for a little Seattle-based blog entitled Fensepost, ran by indie music know it all Andrew Fenstermaker.  I began to check the twice daily posts Andy or Ben put up and loving each one more than the next.  And that is when I thought, I wonder if I could do this?  And sure enough, there was an advertisement in the About Fensepost section stating that Andy was looking for some help in the writing department.  I have harbored dreams of writing for a living, or at least in a public setting of some sort, since I was a small child.  And I loved independent music.  So why not give a shot at writing about it?  And the rest, as they say, is the history of how I became a blogger.

For 4 years or so I had the joy and honor of writing for Fensepost.  And in this time I would bear witness to some pretty amazing music.  And it was through Fensepost that I was introduced to the delightful Janelle Rogers.  Janelle is the leading lady behind one of my favorite publicity companies, Green Light Go!  I had written on a few occasions about one of her clients, Shawn Fogel a.k.a. Golden Bloom (now a full band!) who I absolutely adored.  And when I learned that Shawn had started a ukelele based tribute band to Neutral Milk Hotel, cleverly titled Neutral Uke Hotel, I was obviously intrigued!  Whilst covering their uke version of “King of Carrot Flowers”, I then became intrigued by the man in the background with the delightful mustache.  A bit of research lead me to discover that this man was also a client of Janelle Rogers.  This man was none other than Michael J. Epstein.  I then began listening intently to a little band from Massachusetts known as The Michael J. Epstein Library and was hooked.  MJE Library would then lead me to one of his other (he has many) projects with the great Sophia Cacciola, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, and I instantly became a huge fanboy for everything Mike and Sophia were involved with, which stands to this very day!

from the film TEN.

from the film TEN.

For loyal TWS readers, most of these names should be new.  I have continuously covered the for mentioned artists on several occasions, and they have even been kind enough to contribute so some of our year-end lists, and as Guest Wreckers.  And one of the projects we have covered quite extensively is the film TEN, an amazing little horror film directed by Epstein and Cacciola, and features so many amazing talents such another TWS regular Catherine Capozzi, and, finally………….Jade Sylvan!

Phew!  So there you have it.  A 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon explanation that could have been summed up better, I know.  But, here we are!  Jade Sylvan not only starred in TEN, but was responsible for the wonderful novelization of the film.  This was when I came to find that Jade Sylvan was not only a talented actress and former model, she is a brilliant writer as well.  She recently released her autobiographical novel Kissing Oscar Wilde as well, which is really why I wanted to tell you fine folks a bit about her.  I have yet to check out KOW, but it has been on my reading list since I learned of its inception.  But, I have completed the novelization of the film TEN, and it is unlike any novelization I have ever read.  Sylvan’s smooth prose and narrative is as beautiful and natural as a kitten with an uncoiled ball of yarn, even when she is described dramatic scenes of death and turmoil as she does in TEN.  Being ever so lucky enough to get a glimpse at TEN before its official release this weekend at both the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival and Boston Underground Film Festival, I was pleased to find that I was still fascinated with TEN as though it were an all new story.  Sylvan has a style that is either truly unique, or on par with some of the finest writers in recent history, that should be left to the reader to decide I imagine.

So when I completed TEN, I set out to do a book review, but then came to realize that something else wonderful was going to happen.  Jade Sylvan has plans to do a reading tour in support of Kissing Oscar Wilde.  And even better than that, it’s in the Great Northwest!!!  This will probably be the only time I will say this, but:  “I wish was in Spokane, Washington instead of southern Spain right now!”.  That being said, the cherry on top of it all is that Jade has actually made plans to perform not only in Spokane (nobody does that anymore, it seems!) but the awesome Broken Mic show at my favorite spot in my former city, Baby Bar (or Neato Burrito, if you want to be technical for the Spokanites).  So when she threw out that she could use some help paying for this tour, I practically lunged myself into the internet to support her Indiegogo campaign, essentially just pre-order the copy of Kissing Oscar Wilde I already had every intention of being, but now I get a personalized filthy drawing as well!  I also felt it would be great if my old pal Bob Rice might have her on his amazing weekly show on 88.1 KYRS Thin Air Community Radio known as Crossroads.  And she shall!  Check HERE for details, make plans to listen on line, and come right back here.  Beyond Spokane, Jade can also be spotted in cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and more.  For a full list of appearances, check out her website, but again come right back for I am not done with you yet.

Kissing Oscar Wilde by Jade Sylvan

Kissing Oscar Wilde by Jade Sylvan

If I haven’t made myself clear, which I am often prone to do so, my discovery of Jade Sylvan is owed to a long line of coincidences and chance (digital) encounters.  I have never met Janelle Rogers, Michael J. Epstein, Sophia Cacciola, or Jade Sylvan in person.  And I have had only brief, although enjoyable, encounters with Andrew Fenstermaker and Ben Meyercord.  Yet, these are the people who have shown me so much love, support, and more importantly, their talents to not just me, but to the world.  And this my friends, is how the internet can be so much more than a den of identity theft and malicious code.  Or even more than hateful comment threads and cat videos.  If the fine people spinning around on the world wide web would simply stop and realize exactly what is at their disposal and just how great it can be to discover wonderful independent artists like Jade Sylvan, just imagine how much better the world could be?  Imagine using the most powerful tool in human history to build a solid foundation of love and support for one another, all the while discovering such beautiful art?  I know it sounds ridiculous, because sadly human nature doesn’t work that way.  Sometimes we all just seem to be nothing more than a series metaphors and practical jokes.  Day in and day out, we are little girls in hiding in attics with the belief that “people are actually good inside”, only be captured, beaten, and burned.

Wow, that seems like kind of a bummer way to finish, but so be it.  Just make sure you find your way to see Jade Sylvan spit some wonderful poetry and prose in my favorite regions of the world!  Let’s show this east coast lady that we have so much more to offer than Starbucks and rain and weird Gus Van Sant movies (and by weird I mean great!).  Please show some love and support for Jade as she ventures her way to my homeland, because I want to make sure she will ever want to come back when I might be around!

 

Jade Sylvan4Note:  As of this being published, there are approximately 20 hours left for Jade’s Indiegogo campaign.  So, if you want to pick up some really cool swag while helping Jade pay for this venture, you still have time!  If you are reading this after March 28th, well, go to her website and buy some stuff, including her book Kissing Oscar Wilde.  Cheers!

Joyland by Stephen King [Book]

Joyland by Stephen KingAfter realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”

- STEPHENKING.COM

 

 

I just need to say first off, that Joyland shouldn’t really be classified as a “thriller” or “suspense” novel.  This is simply because there was absolutely nothing thrilling or suspenseful about it.  The books acts mainly as a sort of How To guide to working at a third rate amusement park during the 1970′s.  I also have to say that this is probably the worst book by Stephen King I have ever read.  But, as I have said before about the likes of Palahniuk, it was still pretty good (remember the sex pizza reference?  yeah, it’s like that).  It’s not that book is bad, just a sort of jumbled mindfuck that seems to take the easy way out at so many moments.

The novel’s main focus is advertised as being about a ghost of girl that was murdered and now haunts a (Surprise!) haunted house ride at this busted ass amusement park these days.  Yet, the damn ghost was hardly explained in the first act of the book, mentioned even less in the second, and had it’s story concluded in a bullshit manner in the third.  Oh, okay, so the boy can read minds, so that obviously means he can be the one to set the ghost free?  Sure, whatever, let’s get back to the kid losing his virginity.  That is my only real gripe is that this was suppose to be a suspense novel.  Which I really shouldn’t mind because I generally don’t like suspense or thriller or horror as genres for reading, although I seem to have dug into more of them lately.  I also feel the same for books centered around cops, with the exception of the Fletch series and Bukowski’s last novel Pulp.  But, Stephen King is, well, the Stephen King of horror and suspense.  Although he is also the genius behind such wonderful stories that are only mentally horrifying like The Green Mile and Rita Haworth and the Shawshank Redemption (these are prison based books, prison guards don’t count as cops), and he seemed to have sort of mashed together these two styles of writing.  Which is shame because it is suppose to be a book about a goddamn ghost!

Stephen KingBut, although the book is only 15% ghosts and 85% coming of age in the 70′s, the best parts where the unnecessary ones.  And much like all of Stephen King’s work, it is so damn easy to become mentally invested in the well being of the characters.  I found myself wishing nothing but the best for the main character, and absolutely horrified when I discovered that is own hero was actually the legendary woman slayer who killed the girl 4 years earlier inside the Haunted House ride.  I was actually furious at this fact.  The dude I thought could have only been played by Matthew McConaughey if a film adaptation where to be made (the lead would go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in case you were wondering, but in the era of Brick, not that piece of shit Looper), was the bad guy?  Leave it to King to perfectly ruin our interpretations of heroes and assholes.  So in this respect, King did alright.  King can write the shit out of a character, this is just a fact.  Hell, it is a widely know fact that he wrote some many books under the influence of drugs and alcohol that he doesn’t even remember writing them.  Yet is is still impeccable at character development, and in the case of those few novels, able to scare the shit out of you.  Now that’s punk rock, if you ask me.

Go ahead and read this book.  I definitely recommend the audiobook.  Michael Kelly does a bang up job on this one.  Just take heed that you shouldn’t really be looking to get yourself scared, it’s not going to happen.  And understand that this may very well be the most forgettable works by the legendary Stephen King you will ever read.  And that even at King’s worst, he’s still probably a better writer than you.  Enjoy!

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #12.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Tacocat: NVM [Album]

Tacocat NVM LargeI’m not much for loudness.  I have to admit this right off before even beginning to speak of Tacocat’s last album, NVM.  I am more prone to listen to calming indie folk over loud pop-punk clatter.  But, there are always exceptions.  Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children Macnuggits are one of them.  And yet an even further stretch from my regular listening is the female fronted (and 3/4 total having vaginas) and absolutely brilliant Tacocat.  In the vain of Hot Pants Romance and so many other brilliant pop punkster, this is band that anybody can love, no matter how scared we are of the powers of the loud.

NVM takes all of one large cup of coffee to listen too.  Each track is fast paced and packed with excitement.  And underneath the happy go lucky attitudes, there is a plethora of great stories to be told.  Dancing with rainbows, surfing, snow days.  Just as Tacocat is in sound, these songs are all about fun!  Even when the subject matter may be horrifying, it still makes me smile!  How can you not smile whilst hearing what sounds like The Go Go’s dropped acid and drank 14 Red Bulls with no regard for their never going to die existence.

And as I mentioned in last year’s 12 For ’12, Tacocat is one of the funnest acts to see live.  I would give my favorite child’s soul to catch them playing these new songs live.  They’ve been around the country lately, including some stints at SXSW.  And they are soon to be making their way back to their homeland of Seattle, Washington soon.  But, not just yet!  I recommend you put on your finest dancing shoes and see these cats (all pun intended) live and in person!  You’d be a real schmuck if you were to miss seeing Tacocat live!

Remaining Tour Dates:

03.25.14 – Washington, DC – Velvet Lounge
03.26.14 – Baltimore, MD – The Metro Gallery
03.27.14 – New Brunswick, NJ – House Party
03.28.14 – Philadelphia, PA – Golden Tea House
03.29.14 – Brooklyn, NY – Death By Audio
03.30.14 – Boston, MA – House Party
03.31.14 – New York, NY – Hunter College
04.01.14 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Roboto Project
04.02.14 – Columbus, OH – Carabar
04.03.14 – Detroit, MI – Elijah’s
04.04.14 – Milwaukee, WI – Center St. Free Space
04.05.14 – Madison, WI – Rathskellar, University of Wisconsin Madison campus
04.06.14 – Chicago, IL – The Township
04.07.14 – Omaha, NE – Middle Haus
04.09.14 – Denver, CO – Rhinoceropolis
04.10.14 – Salt Lake, UT – Diabolical Records
04.11.14 – Boise, ID – The Crux
04.12.14 – Seattle, WA – ‘Mo-Wave

 

Find out more about this amazing band at their website.  You can also check out a band feature we did here at Trainwreck’d Society back in 2011.

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