Simple Steven [Artist]

Simple Steven3Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we are probably only slightly known for our support for the hip hop community.  While yours truly is a HUGE fan of hip hop music, especially the thought driven and lyrical bliss that can be accomplished in a simple 16 bars.  We’ve covered several hip hop acts, called out one artist as Person of the Year, and there is always a handful of hip hop albums on our end of year lists.  Still, it still feels like we don’t do enough.  That is exactly why I am so happy about this new feature.  I am so happy to (possibly) introduce one of the finest artist I have heard in so damn long, Simple Steven.

Somewhere in the vein of the Bodi, Sadistik, or Cas One….we shall find Simple Steven.  And this is not to say they have similar sounds, although they sort of do.  If anything they are similar in how different they are form everything you are used to hearing the hip hop world.  A Simple Steven song might be a bit less hook heavy when compared to his label mate Infidelix, and his lyrics a bit more complicated than fellow label mate Twitchy, and possibly not as dark in nature as the aforementioned Sadistik or Cas One.  So what does he sound like?  Exactly.  He sounds like Simple Steven.  He is man all on his own who has proven himself worthy of walking with the giants.  And walk he shall when he hits the road this summer in support of his new album Abandon All Anchors, which will be released August 5th, with the likes of DJ Abilities and Jake Spike.  And if the recently released music video for the album’s first single “Dormant” should act as a sign of how great this album and accompanying tour may be, you all are in for a real goddamned treat to say the least.

 

Simple Steven is, whether he knows it or not, a truly gifted lyricist by what almost seems like a birth right.  Should this brilliant young man decide to continue down a path guided by his ability to spit a flow that leaves your legs weak and mind fucking blown, he is almost guaranteed success and massive gratification.  There is little doubt in my mind that Abandon All Anchors will be a beautiful little building block that will piece together the beginnings of a very bright and definitely earned career for Simple Steven in the hip hop game.

 

Abandon All Anchors will be available on August 5th.  Check HERE for more details.  Also be sure to check out Simple Steven when he tours a city near you:

Simple Steven1

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Herschell Gordon Lewis [Interview]

HGLAnd off we go again here at Trainwreck’d Society with another round with the world of horror.  But this time, we have something exceptionally wonderful for you fine readers.  True admirers of the world of horror should know exactly what I mean when you catch the name of who we are honored enough to have featured in our digital pages today.

Back in 1963 a little film called Blood Feast was released that truly shook the world.  Horror films had ben existence for decades before, but not quite like this.  The pure shock value of this film would lead independent filmmaker Herschel Gordon Lewis to be deemed “The Godfather of Gore”, a nickname he truly deserves as set forth with other great films like Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red.  Whether through splatter horror films or sexplotation romps, Herschel Gordon Lewis has had a long and historical career of creating films that simply entertain.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just good old fashion sex, violence, and hilarity.  And what more do we really need, sometimes?  Mr. Lewis took a bit of a hiatus from the film world, but returned in 2002 to direct the anticipated sequel to Blood Feast, and actually has a grand new project that is beginning production this summer entitled BloodMania, an anthology consisting of four parts.  One segment was co-written by HGB, and he is slated to direct two of them.  It is so exciting to see The Godfather back in his element, and this damn project has success written all over it.  Learn more HERE!

After such a long hiatus, how did it feel in 2002 when you got back into the director’s chair to make the sequel to Blood Feast you had always wanted to do?  Did it feel natural or nerve-racking? 

I had phantom-directed just about every film I viewed during that hiatus. The mind-set was ready and natural.

What do you believe it is about the exploitation genre that continues to have a large cult following among film buffs?  What makes them different from more mainstream films from the 60’s and 70’s, and even beyond?

Exploitation films grab attention, roughly and mercilessly, to the action rather than to the actors. Viewers feel they’re in a back-alley, sharing a primitive creative experience.

What sorts of things were going through your head when you decided to release Living Venus, which was extremely risqué for its time.  Where you ever nervous about how the public was going to take it?  Where you targeting an audience at all?

I had determined that for a production whose values couldn’t compete with polish, we could compete by showing a limited number of brave theatergoers the kind of visual experience in which they could envision themselves being immersed. That formula still exists.

HGB2What do you think it is that keeps your hit film Blood Feast a relevant work of horror art that his hailed and praised to this very day?

Blood Feast has been criticized for every facet of production from lack of acting talent to shoddy camera work. But no other film can match its place in motion picture history: it was the first of its kind. Those who see it today sometimes say what they don’t say after viewing a hundred-million-dollar product: they got their money’s worth.

If you were given $5 million dollars in 60’s to make a film, do you think you would have gone a different route with your work?  

You bet I would. But I wouldn’t be regarded as a pioneer.

In your personal opinion, what is an “independent film”?  And do you think there is any hope in revitalizing a fearfully dead way of making films?

An independent film is produced outside the sacred gates guarded by Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild and controlled distribution. Regrettably, since fewer and fewer theatres will book this type of product, the independent has to compete in the semi-closed world of DVDs. That means aping what the major companies do.

If you were to attempt to modernize any of your films from the past, which would you like to see done?  Furthermore would you even really want to do so?

I’d rather move forward. I have scripts that haven’t been produced yet, so why should I remake movies whose history is firm enough to resist re-making?

HGB1After several decades in the horror business, how do you feel about the obvious changes that have occurred in the world of film?  Are things better?  Worse?

Production is light-years easier. Distribution is light-years more difficult.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Opening a package of Gummi-Bears.

 

Be sure to stay up to date with Bloodmania at the film’s WEBSITE.  You can also film’s page on Facebook.

Rocket 3: Burn [Album]

Rocket 3 - BurnWhat do you get when you combine saucy lyrical goodness that is thicker than Taco Bell hot sauce with a delightful jingly jangly pop/rock sound that can induce bouts of joy at any given moment?  Well, I would say you would easily have the Rocket 3’s debut album Burn in all its greatness.  I’ve covered a whole bunch of great pop rock groups from across the pond that I adore and admire, but this time I am able to display a beautiful new group right from my old stomping grounds of Portland, Oregon.  Their sound is as delightful as old Hot Hot Heat song, just a bit milder, and all the better I might add.

Burn might be a very perfect and fitting title for the speed and pleasantry this album can bring you.  The songs are quick, anthemic, and just a whole lot of fun to listen to.  By the time I made it to “Good Enough”, I knew I was going to be hooked on this wonderful threesome just as much as I have been on the Pastime Records crew over in Exeter.  The sounds are very similar, but definitely quite different.  Rocket 3 is a band that hits hard with sometimes bass heavy riffs that bring to mind some of the sort of pop punk that established itself as a mainstay in the mid 90’s.  With all of these different types of sounds being mixed together like a wonderful seafood gumbo, it seems as though it might be something very easy to screw up.  But, Rocket 3 did far from that.  With their wonderful ingenuity and obvious talent, this is a band that seems to know all the right cards to play, and have laid down a wonderful hand with their debut album Burn.

From what I have gathered, Rocket 3’s front woman, Ramune, is relatively new to the music game.  But, you would never be able to tell with the way she slams the electric guitar down with the greatest of ease, and provides a beautiful line of vocals that are just oh so damn appealing.  Rocket 3 is definitely not a band to sleep on, and I am certain the future will prove this to be a solid truth when the world gets ahold of Burn, and is sure to fall in love after just one listen.

Burn will be available for purchase November 4th.  Stay in touch with the band on their Facebook Page.  Be sure to discover where they are performing one of their magnificent live shows near you! 

Diane Franklin [Interview]

DF_070The 80’s were obviously a sort of silly time in history when it comes to the world of film and pop culture.  Of course, in retrospect doesn’t every decade have some hilarious little quips that we make fun of once time has passed?  Each decade has that band or that film or what-have-you that probably wouldn’t work in any other decade.  One great thing that the 80’s had, was some pretty stellar babes in the acting world!  And I like to think that a beautiful and talented actress is timeless!

And few actress embody this spirit as the wonderful actress Diane Franklin!  As the star of such classic 80’s films as The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, she is on par with the likes of other 80’s babes like Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Jason Lee, etc.  And even more so to me personally, as I absolutely loved this woman (well, in the 90’s, while I was watching 80’s movies) more than all the rest after I saw her in Better Off Dead.  Now that was timeless smoking hotness!!  And I am pleased to see that Diane has continued to work in one way or another, even with a bit of down time in between gigs. I was very interested in seeing what exactly she had going on these days, so I am so pleased to announce that this brilliant actress agreed to have some fun with us and answer a few questions.  So Ladies and Gentlemen….Diane Franklin!

 

I have come to understand that besides acting, you have also studied biochemistry, which is definitely a very cool and different thing to hear of an actress doing.  Tell us, what draws you to the world of biochemistry?  Do you find any similarities to the world of acting?

If you had asked me in college if there were similarities between my interest in science and acting, I probably would have said none except for the fact that one day I may play the role of a doctor. But, today? Yes! I see so many connections that, as you know at Trainwrecked, it has taken me a while to get back to you. In essence, my approach to acting has always been somewhat scientific.
When I started acting at the age of ten, industry professionals frowned upon drama training. It was thought to make kids stiff and unnatural. I still, however, had to figure out a way to memorize lines and connect. So, the first thing I needed to do was find a method (or process). Adult actors were trained at the time to work from the “inside-out.” I, of course, didn’t know this. I had to figure out something on my own. Something that made sense to me, and that I could connect with. My own method. I worked from the “outside-in”. I would look for a real person who I thought represented the role.
Which brings me to my next scientific/acting love: analysis. I have always enjoyed breaking characters. What makes this character the way she is? What does the she do? What doesn’t she do? The funny thing is, I remember thinking like this since I was little. Maybe 5. It found it fun! I would watch TV without the sound and think, ”Is this person believable? Why? Or why not?”
Then comes the actual practice or experimentation, which involves hard work, creativity and spontaneity, all of which, I really enjoy. I just love the feeling of when I am in the moment so much, that I don’t remember acting at all. That’s when I know it’s right. And of course, with every experiment, (or scene) there is the potential of a discovery. It’s so cool to bring written words to life, and then push further to perhaps create a role that goes beyond words.
Yet, with all these scientific tools, I still am drawn to human nature. My personal passion is to express human emotion, heart, energy, instincts, and share it with others. So, I guess looking back I didn’t changed my scientific interest or give up on my acting dreams. I just found a way to make them work together.

In your own recollections and opinions, what do you believe it is about pop culture in the 80’s that has kept it a relevant metaphorical being to this day and age?

Every generation gets its time to be the role model for a younger generation. Today, the 80s generation is middle-aged and now in the limelight. What does this mean?! 80s music is back! 80s celebrities are being celebrated! 80s fashion is back in style! But perhaps, the most interesting callback is the VALUE of 80s culture!! Yes, TOTALLY!! The 80s was a time of freedom, self-expression and well…fun! There was an excitement to growing up. Not panic. There were work opportunities, so you could move out of the house at 18 and support yourself. Being different was in, and holding your own was important. Assertively sexy women were admired. (OK, maybe not when they were wearing power suits and sneakers) And there was an open, (and yes tolerant attitude) towards drugs, sex and abortion, (which ironically were areas one had to be a real adult to navigate.) Today, to my surprise, things are not the same. I think economics have a lot to do with it. The 80s adult generation looks back and thinks, “What happened? Where did all the freedom go?” Well luckily, we at least have totally excellent 80s films to remind us to keep having fun;)

LAV 25What do believe it is that keeps so many of the films (i.e. The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, etc.)  you did during that time so relevant to this very day, as they have proven to be?

The Last American Virgin was made in the early 80s. It is the perfect example 80’s fashion, 80’s fun and 80’s realism. If you watch the film and it makes you feel uncomfortable, it should. It was not made for entertainment. It was made to speak to speak the truth of teen heartbreak. That truth is the cake of 80’s films and is what grips us today. The upbeat, colorful, fun style of 80s films is the icing. Put a candle on it and you’ll see the passion and fire that went into the filmmaking;) Better Off Dead was mid 80s, breaking the sexist mold and suddenly giving the audience an option to watch a teen film without sex in it. This word of mouth iconic hit eventually brought it’s style to television, with Danny and Savage at Nickelodeon, producing The Amanda Show, iCarly, Drake and Josh and Zoey 101. Entertainment could now make live action staged as cartoons, using double entandres that were used in all the classic cartoons. Finally, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Now in 1989, here is a film that not only homage’s the 80s, while being made in the 80’s! Bill and Ted bring the Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High back. Teen films in the 80’s were about friends and Bill and Ted where friends you wanted to hang with. I totally get that!

You released an autobiography in 2012 entitled The Excellent Adventures of The Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80’s.  What compelled you to write this book?  Can you give us a bit of a preview if you would?

I decided to write this book off several realizations. One, Paul Newman. Famous actor or salad dressing? It all depends on the generation you grow up in. I know him as both. I realized that fame is relative to the people that know you, so I thought I better put this book out fast! Second, I originally was going to save all my memorabilla for my kids, but then I realized I will always be mom to them (as I should be!), so then I thought “OK, I better write all this down before I forget!”. Third, I wanted to make a book I could be proud of, that told the truth about my life and my experiences. I wanted it to be the kind of book a college student could use as a primary source on the 80s, and it didn’t have to be boring. And I wanted to make sure it was written in my cadence, like I was taking to you at a coffee house after having an espresso, AND that the book expressed my upbeat personality and point of view.

Another interesting venture you have gotten into is broadcasting.  Can you tell us a bit about your show Babes of the 80’s?  How did the idea for this show come around (besides being a total babe from the 80’s)?

One day I was contacted by Cult Radio A Go-Go to do an interview, and it went so well they asked me if I ever thought of hosting a show. I think they probably thought that I would only want to do one, but I had this really cool idea and I think they were kind of surprised. In the 80’s there were so many beautiful and talented teen actresses. I would generally see the same girls at each audition, but never get to know them because we would be competing for the same role. Yet, I have always had such respect for my peers because in order to be a teen actress you had to be a combination of smart, vulnerable, dedicated and hard working. There is not one actress from the 80s that did not work really hard to stay in it, and these young actresses each made very cool contributions to film and television. So I pitched them Diane Franklin: Babes of the 80s, wrote a sample script and they totally got it! I wound up doing 4 shows including such 80’s babes as Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, E.G. Daily, Betsy Russel, Claudia Wells, Jennifer Runyon, Laura Leigh Hughes and Mary Wornov and Kimmy Robertson. I even did a dude special with Curtis Armstrong, Christopher Atkins and Rex Smith. My next vision is to bring from radio to live action, but for now the shows can be heard on Sound Cloud under CRAGG.

BOD 11When you look at back on your career as an actress, what do you believe to be your overall greatest accomplishment?

There are moments as an actress, when you do something that is beyond what you think you can do. Some of the greatest acting I ever did was in screen test. I think this is because a lot was on the line and I really had to give my all. There is no better feeling as an actress to memorize your lines, know your character inside and out, and then just be in the moment. When I don’t even remember performing, because I was just being, that is the best. Reading for network executives and producers for SummerGirl was like that. I came out of the audition feeling like I knew my character so much more than anyone else in the room. It was cathartic. That feeling also happened with getting the role of Monique Junet in Better Off Dead. I knew the character of Monique so well; I could improvise being her in any situation. Of course, that still does not get you the role. You get the role when the director, producers, financiers all agree that you are what they want. So that said, I would have to say my accomplishment was GETTING the role of Monique, because convincing that many people that the role I want is what they should want is an accomplishment!

Your daughter has begun making her own way in the film world, in front of and behind the camera.  What is some advice you have given her to help guide her in her own direction?

The one thing I have always told my daughter is “trust your gut.” You know when something is right and when it is not. This goes for career, relationships, school, and friends.

What is one portrayal you have yet to do, but would absolutely love to?

For drama, I’d love to play a leader. This could be in the form of a doctor, teacher, investigator, commander, or even mom. Someone faces their fears and deals with problems using bravery and insight. I know I would bring great depth to this kind of role on the comedic side; I’d also love to play a “Mrs. Robinson” type character. Someone who brings sexuality and fun into being an older woman! AND if possible, as a celebrity, I would LOVE to host Saturday Night Live!

B&THjpegSo what does the future hold for you?  Any new projects in the work you would like to talk about?

I presently completed a role in my daughter’s newest film project, Devon Bright and the Sensitive Boys. It is a boy band parody and I play a crazy stage mom! VERY fun and she wrote a hilarious script. Olivia (DeLaurentis) writes, directs, acts and edits her films. She just turned 18 and the one to look out for! She is just…amazing. We will be submitting this film to film festivals, but in the meantime you can catch some comedy sketches she is doing with a friend on Funny or Die under Barely Legal Comedy. Other shorts and trailers she has done (and some of which I am in also) are on You Tube: Agouraphobia, My Better Half, Humanized, Lovechild, Recruiting Violations Olivia, Royal Effups, and Dad (llama), which has a baby llama in it;)

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Squished in bed with my family, cat and dog, watching Ghost Adventures. 😉

Pawns or Kings: Pomme de Terre [Album]

Pawns and Kings - Pomme de TerreAh, yes.  Americana.  A genre of music that is no stranger to us here at Trainwreck’d Society.  I mean, we are a site that is centered around a train, right?  What is more symbolic of Americana life than a train headed out to nowhere?  Well, I will tell you – the damn Ozark mountains!  Just as there may have never been real “blues” without the days down in the Delta, there may have never been true Americana/Folk music without those truly talented folks hiding out in the Ozarks and the Appalachians.  And I believe I may have just discovered one of the finest acts to pour out of those majestic midwest mountains.  Allow me to introduce the immaculately talented group Pawns or Kings, and their brilliant new album Pomme de Terre!

Pomme de Terre is an album that has been long overdue.  A series of tragedies and misfortunes kept these sweet tunes out of our grasp for quite some time, but the diligence and determination of Pawns or Kings proved to be much stronger than any sort of damnation could be.  Now we are fortunate enough to have tracks like “Names and Maps”, “Shadow of a Man”, “Late Have I Loved”, and so many more, right at our disposal when in need of some seriously amazing new age folk goodness.  Somewhere between the new age obsession with simple folk music and the glory days of simpler times on a front porch somewhere out in the Ozarks is exactly where you will find a band like Pawns and Kings.  Each song is a beautiful story.  Each song is a treasure!

With so many things obviously wrong with the land in which I came, it is so great to hear a truly gifted Americana act.  To have this brand of music associated with Americanisms is a true gift.  Especially when a band like Pawns and Kings is out there to perfect it so brilliantly.  And with Pomme de Terre, these geniuses from the back country have not only created one of the finest Americana albums of 2014, but one of the finest albums in general.

Pomme de Terre will be officially released on July 25th, but head on over to the band’s Facebook page to find out how you can listen to it right now!

Brian Vander Ark [Interview]

brianvanderarkAs a kid growing up in the 90’s, there were some very important folks in the world of music that entirely embodied what it meant to be a rockstar and an artist all at the same time.  I’m sure every generation has this feeling, but this one is mine dammit, and it is all I know.  I have actually grown into adulthood during a strange time when I still clearly remember the joy of rushing off the mall each Tuesday for New Release day, but have grown into the digital age where “streaming” and “downloading” is real and undeniably convenient. It has been a rather strange and savage ride to this point, but there are some obvious perks.  One of them being that I still get to hear wonderful groups from my childhood days rocking out, and being thoroughly loved by the next generation.  And one group that completely embodies this wonderful spirit is definitely The Verve Pipe, including the diligently hard working frontman Brian Vander Ark.

Brian Vander Ark may very well be one of the last great lead singers of our time.  If you have ever had the chance to see him and his equally talented and entertaining crew perform, you should know what I am talking about.  When you see The Verve Pipe, you are seeing a SHOW!  Watching Brian and crew perform is as far from simply watching a few dudes play songs you heard on the radio as it can possible get.  It is electrifying, to throw out some good old fashion cliques, and a phenomenal experience.  If you haven’t had the chance to catch a viewing, you are definitely in luck!  The Verve Pipe recently released their first adult-oriented album in 13 years, and will definitely be touring the hell out of this album!  That is not to say that they haven’t already been performing all over the world for so many years past.  But now we have even more tunes to love and enjoy!

So, we are extremely proud to announce that Brian Vander Ark agreed to chat with us a bit about his experiences as a musician, the upcoming album, and why he REALLY needs some damn sleep!  Check it out!

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician? 

3rd grade – I got my first guitar and learned “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” by Glenn Campbell.

What were some inspirations that led you to this world?

My older brother played guitar, which was very inspirational.

With you being a long time musician, and an obvious professional, I have to ask – How do you feel the music industry has changed since entering the digital world?  Is it better or worse, would you say?

Much better in most ways.  I enjoy the immediacy of the digital delivery.  I also think that file sharing has helped spread the word on my music for years.  It’s helped me grow my fan base immensely.  Although I do still buy and enjoy vinyl.

The Verve Pipe’s live performances are absolutely stellar, some of the most fun I have personally watched happen.  Tell us, what makes a great show for you?  

The audience is usually the key to a great show, but some times the crowd is light.  And when that happens we always try to rise above it.  Those people took time out, paid a babysitter, and chose to spend the evening with us.  I take that very seriously.  As long as everyone in the band keeps that in focus, and stresses that we are there to ‘entertain’, we will rock.  What sort of ingredients goes in the mix of a successful gig?    Honestly?  A couple of drinks loosens things up.  People play a little more relaxed, in the pocket of the beat.  There’s less urgency to it, and that can be a good thing.  Having a great setlist helps as well.  And not eating at least 3 hours prior to the gig.

TVP_2014_BandPhoto_HRZ_1920pxWhat was it like having a track like “Freshman” hit number one?  Where you surprise by how insanely popular it became?

I don’t remember being all that ‘surprised’, though it was a good feeling.  Actually it only felt good for about a minute or two.  I immediately started worrying about the follow-up.

How did you manage to get involved with the 2001 film Rock Star?  What made you want to get into the world of acting on top of being a prized musician? 

I was asked to write something ‘Seattle-esque”.  I read the script and wrote 2 songs.  One was supposed to have a lot of gay innuendo, since the lead singer was coming out in the movie.  That song was called “Mother Load”.  It was really awful, and it was clear that EMI was not into it at all.  But Colorful followed that one on the demo tape, and they were very excited about it.  As far as acting, it seemed like it would be fun.  I spent so much time in my trailer, however, that it was very boring.  Although I did write most of the songs from Underneath during that down time.

It has been 13 years since The Verve Pipe’s last adult oriented release.  But, How did it feel to get back in the studio in such a manner?  And what can fans expect to hear on the new release?  

It felt really good to be working with the band again.  I was interested in producing this time out, and having that control was odd at first, but very liberating as well.  Once everyone was on board with it, things started to flow nicely.  Fans seem to really love the record, which surprised me a bit, because I was under the impression that everyone wanted Villains 2.

How did you manage to hook up with actor Jeff Daniels to work on the title track for Overboard?  

Jeff and I met a few years ago.  We share an admiration for each other’s work.  He’s another Michigan guy.  Very accessible, helluva work ethic, like me.  He’s a tremendous story teller, or at least knows a good one.  I imagine that’s how he chooses the work he gets involved in.  So when I sent him the idea, I was looking for his opinion of the story, which he seemed to really like.  He had a lot of great suggestions and wrote come terrific lyrics for it.  Most of all, he helped me with the ending.  It just didn’t make sense the way that I had it.  It was unfocused, unfinished and he helped finish it.

The Verve Pipe - OverboardWe always have to ask this one:  Where do you keep your platinum record?  

Our piano/bar/music room.  Very manly in there, with books and cigars and bourbon.  My favorite room in the house – I love it.

So what else does the future hold for you personally, as well as The Verve Pipe?

I’m hoping sleep!  Trying to get on the road with the band as much as possible.

What was the last thing that made you smile?    

Thinking about that answer I just gave you about getting some sleep.