INTERVIEW: Bam Margera

Published in The Music (WA, QLD, NSW) and on theMusic.com.au, Apr-May 2015

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BALLS TO THE WALL

“His dick was on fire for literally 30 very long seconds.” What the? Bam Margera tells Daniel Cribb what to expect from a FuckFace Unstoppable show.

It’s not surprising that Jackass star/pro skater Bam Margera is feeling a little sore after years of abusing his body for the entertainment of others. “I wound up getting these bumps on the bottom of my feet – six of them – called bone spurs, and I had major bunions. I had to get surgery on both of those,” Margera begins. “Then I ruptured a hernia going off a hundred-foot waterfall in a kayak. I was all fucked up and not looking forward to having ten surgeries, so I was in a bit of a slump for a bit.”

Unable to throw his body into harm’s way, he found another creative outlet, forming punk band FuckFace Unstoppable, featuring members of CKY and Guttermouth. The transition into a chaotic and carefree genre makes perfect sense. “Alex Flamsteed from Guttermouth was playing a show in my club in Philly, and afterwards they came and stayed in my house and I have a jam room. So we started jamming and he was like, ‘Dude, this sounds really good; we should start a band,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, how about FuckFace Unstoppable?’ We just started laughing about it, and then a few weeks later, sure enough, FuckFace Unstoppable is out and about.”

What started as a fun way to kill time, hang with friends and vent creative energies becomes a more serious project from here, with Bad Brains bassist Chuck Treece and iconic Finnish guitarist Andy McCoy of Hanoi Rocks signing on to play on the next record, the latter even touring Australia with the band.

They might be tighter, but you can still expect things to get pretty loose. “There was a show in Kentucky, and this dude wanted to come up during the encore and light his balls on fire and do a backflip to put it out. He did not put it out and his dick was on fire for literally 30 very long seconds. It was burnt to a crisp, the ambulance came, and he went to emergency room. It was gnarly, man,” he says with a slight chuckle. “It happened at a FuckFace show, so I’m proud of it.”

It’s an insane act, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as crazy as Margera when it comes to stunts, and it’s looking like we’ll see another Jackass film. “It’s not set in stone, but we’ve been talking about it, and always writing ideas.”

Margera’s latest pitch to Knoxville and co was a little too out there and got knocked back. “I was like, ‘Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a boxing match, so why don’t we have a Evander Holyfield redemption and he can bite off my fucking ear?’ And they were like, ‘Are you really willing to get your earlobe bit off for good?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah! Do you know how much street cred I’ll have?’ Like, ‘Dude, what happened to your ear?’ ‘Oh, Evander Holyfield bit it off.’”

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INTERVIEW: Silverstein

Published in The Music (WA, QLD, NSW) and on theMusic.com.au, Apr-May 2015

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BREAKING POINT

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of their second album, Silverstein drummer Paul Koehler tells Daniel Cribb its release not only changed their lives, but an entire scene.

Canadian post-punk/emo outfit Silverstein may be eight albums into their career and showing no signs of slowing down, but had it not been for the almost perfect storm surrounding the release of their second album, Discovering The Waterfront, back in 2005, the band mightn’t have made it this far. “We’d never done anything like that,” drummer Paul Koehler admits of the album.

With some of the band still teenagers at that point, Silverstein wrote the classic album in a basement, but, unlike their debut album, When Broken Is Easily Fixed, they then flew to California to record in the world class studios they lived out of at the time. “I remember wrapping the recording, immediately flying back home, jumping back in the van and on tour with Fall Out Boy. And it was just when they were starting to really take off.

“It was just a totally different experience and we were kind of in this bubble; we didn’t realise how important this was going to become. I think not realising that made it a lot less stressful. So we were just kind of young, naive kids just having fun, you know?”

You’ll often hear of bands looking back at music and lyrics from their teens and cringing at some of it, but when Silverstein went back to revisit the songs from Discovering The Waterfront for a worldwide anniversary tour, that wasn’t the case. “We love everything that we’ve done and most of the songs we wrote – we’ve recorded over a hundred of them now and most of them we love. There’s nothing we despise and that’s why we still like playing them and it’s fun to rotate the set and play different stuff every time.”

Not wanting the tour to transform them into a nostalgia act, they ensured it also tied in with the release of a new album.  “I’d say it’s a continuation of [2013’s This Is How the Wind Shifts], but it’s a lot darker; the songwriting has yet again expanded,” Koehler explains of their eighth studio album, I Am Alive In Everything I Touch.

“The riffs are more intricate, and the heavy parts are heavier and the melodic parts are more melodic, so it’s really pulled in every direction. We’re just really excited about it. I think it’s absolutely some of our best songs that we’ve ever written.”

The expansion of sound can be attributed in part to guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau, who signed up in 2012. “We knew we that wanted to have a new album recorded before [the tour] because it was all about looking forward while celebrating the past… I think we became very self-aware of what we have done. And I think it’s just good.

“As an artist you can get lost – especially if you get a couple records in – and you’re just looking ahead. It’s nice to kind of look around you and see why you’ve gotten to where you are today and what an important part of what your success is.”

Show Review: Noel Fielding 24.04.15

Published in The Music (WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015

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Pic by Juliet Duval

The chance to marvel at the mystery and style of Noel Fielding’s comedy in a live environment was an opportunity for which many Perth fans had waited what seemed like a lifetime. As a result, The Mighty Boosh star’s first WA show was met with great excitement and anxiousness.

Fielding began slow and lured punters into a false sense of security by rolling out fairly standard material and the occasional jab at an audience member, but it wasn’t long before he showed his true colours. “I haven’t worked out if this comedy or a midlife crisis,” he laughed, right after singing a sexual song about milk.

With his brother, Michael Fielding (Naboo on The Mighty Boosh), long-time collaborator Tom Meeten, a demented mannequin named after soccer player Lionel Messi, and The Moon by his side, things spiralled out of control, until Fielding sat and read a children’s book about Joey Ramone in a Scottish accent.

Dishing out observational, improvised and skit-based humour over a two-hour set, it was the moment the 41-year-old cult hero stood in front of a 3000-strong crowd with a plastic cup strapped to his chin that really defined the evening.

In a world where bizarre is increasingly becoming the norm, Noel Fielding still manages to find unexplored territory and take it in unexpected directions.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2015/04/26/noel-fielding-riverside-theatre-daniel-cribb/

INTERVIEW: Guttermouth

Published in The Music (WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Mar – Apr 2015

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STAYING TRUE

Shortly after Guttermouth’s “horrible” 2012 Australian tour, frontman Mark Adkins became a human punching bag in a Tijuana jail. Daniel Cribb finds out how he turned it all around, escaped “girlfriend-itis” and rediscovered his love of music.

The last time Californian punks Guttermouth announced an Australian tour, it came with a disclaimer. Their extensive 2012 tour was to be their last in the country, and after some disastrous performances, the band flew home with their legacy in ruins. “We were screwed up, you know,” vocalist Mark Adkins admits. “It’s funny, because they said the shows were so horrible, it actually pumped up ticket sales for later shows. People want to see a train wreck; it’s more exciting when you’re there to see the train wreck. People stop and turn their heads at car accidents for a reason. They want to see carnage and chaos. That’s what we delivered at that one show. I’m not proud of it, I’ll tell you that.”

The tour reached its lowest point at Ferntree Gully, which was a “goon bag day”. The downward spiral continued for Adkins upon his return to the states, and he eventually found himself homeless in Mexico, where he was soon thrown into a Tijuana jail. “A scary place to be is a Mexican jail, dude,” he tells. “Let’s say I was a human punching bag, pretty much. Whether it was guards or inmates, you’re best to learn how to protect yourself, quick, and believe me, fighting is not one of my specialties actually. It was as unpleasant as you can imagine.”

It was “girlfriend-itis” that led Adkins down that path, and almost saw him quit the band. “I was listening to some girl who was coercing me into stopping what I was doing, and leaving for the nine-to-five life. Resentment surfaced and I wasn’t happy with myself, or the choice I made and the direction that I knew I was going to be starting, so I had to ditch her… it’s a quick turnaround when you get back to what you love.

“Honestly, this is who I am and it’s what I do. Certain people get lucky and they have a job that they are passionate about and like and enjoy. And sometimes people make mistakes and walk away from things. Like, I almost walked away from this for a girl, thinking that that was right. I was going to change my whole life for a female. You should never try and change someone, and if someone tries to change you, you’re going to resent them fast. Believe me. That happened.”

With things on the up and up, Adkins plans to leave a better taste with this tour. “This is my eighteenth trip coming to you guys,” he tells. “It’s hard to put your finger on, but the vibe is different and it’s quite a pleasant escape. When I go [to Australia], I rarely ever come home straight away after a tour. I stay there for three weeks or something, with no itinerary; just hire a car, just drive around, no hotels, and wind up where I wind up.”

INTERVIEW: Manu Bennett

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015

Unthinkable

SHOTS FIRED

Manu Bennett has made a somewhat abrupt exit from hit series Arrow. Daniel Cribb finds out why he won’t be returning and what he’s working on now.

His portrayal of Slade Wilson/super villain Deathstroke in TV hit Arrow made him a fan favourite in seasons one and two, but Manu Bennett’s departure from the show has the star a little uneasy. Cast to play an almost unstoppable force, the end of the second season saw him defeated by the Arrow, and a recent appearance in the third season saw the Arrow’s sister, Thea Queen, also take him down. “I think Deathstroke had a lot of possibilities with Arrow but, I think they took it in the wrong direction,” Bennett comments. “I think they should have honoured the Marv Wolfman character, who was literally unstoppable. I read the DC comic books and thought Deathstroke was so bad-arse because they make it that nobody can stop him. He’s not even super-powered, he is just a mercenary.

“It took the Justice League to defeat him; it took an army to take him on. In Arrow, it took a while for Oliver [Queen/Arrow] to prove his point, but [season three] was just a beating of Slade, adding insult to injury.”

Bennett has now thrust himself into a new show, which is filming in his birthplace. “There was an audition in Hollywood and just by chance I landed a series that they were shooting back here in New Zealand called Shannara. It’s a book series created by Terry Brooks and is the second largest-selling series.

“I’m playing Allanon, and he’s like Gandalf meets Deathstroke – kick-arse dude. What I think is that The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit audiences have sort of been left with nothing now that Peter Jackson’s two trilogies have come to an end. I think that Shannara will fill that void.”

No stranger to the works of Peter Jackson, Bennett spent considerable time on the big screen as orc Azog in The Hobbit, giving him the advantage of being able to compare the format to TV. “The upside of a television series is you get to take a story and make it very detailed for a longer period of time. A film only allows you 90 minutes to take in a story and try to understand it.

“I guess I’ve made a career thus far out of creating these more fleshed-out characters that the audience learns to love or to hate and sort of has a bit of a rollercoaster ride with these characters, you know? And they are interesting like that, because playing those characters in film would usually restrict you to only having several lines, because the protagonists are the only people talking.”

Bennett has become a frequent guest at fan conventions like Supanova. “I once wrote on my Twitter, ‘Imagine how many people on this planet you’ll never meet. I wish I knew the world better.’ And the answer to that has started to happen since I wrote that. I have actually started to meet people by the thousands through these conventions. It’s quite fulfilling to look into so many sets of eyes and exchange energy. If only everyone could do it; it’s an eye-opener.”

INTERVIEW: Charisma Carpenter

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015

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CHANGE OF PACE

Having made a name for herself in genre TV, former Buffy/Angel star Charisma Carpenter tells Daniel Cribb her debut into the erotic romance genre was a “horrifying” and regrettable experience.

You’ll often hear of actors having similar personalities to their on-screen characters, and for Charisma Carpenter, her easy-going, fun attitude bears a striking resemblance to her defining role as Cordelia Chase on Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Angel. “I’m staring at my son right now, staring at me with my dog on my lap. He’s doing homework on a skateboard, staring at me, wondering what I’m doing on the phone in his room, ” Carpenter begins.

She’ll be returning to Australia for Supanova, but is quick to point out she’s no stranger to Australia. “Heck yeah! I love Australia. I love Melbourne, I’m so excited to go to the Gold Coast – I’ve never been. My partner used to be Australian so he and I took my son down there a few times. He had family on the Great Dividing Range. We did all the good stuff, all that touristy stuff.”

Supanova will see another reunion with former Buffy and Angel co-star James Marsters. “We hadn’t really spent much time together on Buffy or Angel because on Angel, when he came on I was gone. I didn’t really have scenes with him that much, so I didn’t know him that well, even though we had basically done like ten years of television together. We never really spent much time together until we worked as scene partners and husband and wife on Supernatural.”

Since the shows wrapped up, Carpenter has also worked on Veronica Mars, Charmed, Burn Notice and the film, The Expendables, among others and this year the erotic romance film, Bound. But as she explains, it isn’t something she’s likely to revisit. “It’s very difficult to be that vulnerable… I had a great conversation with the director, and I thought we were on the same page, but time dictated a lot that took away from exploring aspects of the character that I would’ve liked. And I had a difficult time communicating with producers over at Asylum, which I didn’t appreciate, and it was not my joy. So that was not a great experience or an experience I wish to recreate in the future in any way.”

Hosting Surviving Evil is keeping her busy enough as it is. “It talks about people that have been through these terrible, tragic experiences where they were kidnapped, or picked up, kidnapped and held hostage by a serial killer, or domestic violence – these terrible, terrible things that have happened and then they’ve survived.

“And it just tells these stories about these horrible events and then how amazing and well-off that experience… It’s just really honest storytelling, not sensationalised in any way or exploited. It’s something I’m very proud to be associated with.”

Last year, she featured in a special detailing her own sexual assault in her early 20s. “There’s been a lot of distance between doing the show and the events that transpired that night. So, a lot of healing, and a lot of therapy, and everything. So there was no trauma around retelling the story – it was actually very healing.”

INTERVIEW: Willa Holland

Published in The Music (VIC, NSW, QLD, WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015

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TAKING AIM

Arrow star Willa Holland is done playing the “melodramatic girl”. She discusses her new focus and the show’s craziest season yet with Daniel Cribb.

After making a name for herself in The OC as Marissa Cooper’s little sister, Kaitlin, Willa Holland darted between several film and TV appearances before landing a spot on Arrow, where she found herself playing another sibling, this time the younger sister of main character Oliver Queen. The role of Thea Queen saw Holland once again in the role of a tormented teen full of angst, and for two seasons, she played it well. That all changed in the show’s third season – a collection of episodes that transformed Thea Queen into a completely different character and has given Holland an opportunity to smash any preconceived ideas about her acting skillset. “I’m just sittin’ around set in between takes,” Holland begins from the set of Arrow, where the final episodes of the season are being filmed. With an intensive filming schedule, it’s no surprise to find her hard at work. “At the current moment, Arrow is taking up most of my time. We shoot about ten months of the year… It’s pretty rare how much we work. And the schedules for each episode are pretty jam-packed. We’re famous for having very, very long hours, but we all love each other – otherwise it would be a pain in the arse,” she jokes.

The show sits on The CW Network in the US, which is also home to long-running hit Supernatural and fellow DC Comics show The Flash. “We all watch each other’s shows. I mean, I actually don’t really watch [Arrow] half as much as I watch The Flash now, which is kind of weird, and I watch Gotham. I kind of stay true to the DC universe and I do not watch Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. – I would never,” she laughs.

Thea Queen’s transformation has given Holland an opportunity to take part in the action scenes. “It’s been great being able to do it and being able to show the fans that Thea is not just the kind of melodramatic girl she was through season one and season two, and that she actually has some strength and some grit inside of her.

“I was kind of sitting, waiting and ready to do the transition from day one, but since it’s been happening it’s been amazing; being able to go to the gym every single day and then work out and learn all these amazing techniques. I mean, picking up bows and swords and all that and actually learning how to use them.”

And it sounds like fans have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the intensity season three will deliver. “It’s kind of one of the craziest seasons yet,” she agrees. “I can’t really say much without giving it away. It’s just all crazy, and all awesome. Every single episode is like a finale. I don’t understand how they keep on topping each episode. Every time I read them I get really scared and nervous.”

While Holland is loving the direction her character has taken, there may come a time when it takes a turn she might not agree with – as was the case for Arrow’s Manu Bennett, who wasn’t happy with the writers’ take on his character, Deathstroke. “We all have to understand that as much as we do find a connection to our characters, and the shows that we’re working on, it is a job and our duty to do justice to the stories. I mean, as far as the characters go and as the storyline goes, we’re not telling an original story, we’re telling something that’s already somewhat set in stone via the comic books, so it’s not like everything is up to us at this point… I understand [Bennett’s] tribulation with it, but personally, if my feet were put into that shoe I don’t think I would feel the exact same way. I think I would understand why things were going the way that they were.”

That said, the new-look Thea Queen has allowed Holland a little more wiggle room. “I kind of relate to Thea in certain ways. And I think now that she has her grit side sticking out I can now throw in a bit of my own kind of personality and sway into her, which is great. Beforehand, like I said, I treated my job as, in theory, as a nine-to-five, and it is my duty to serve the people above me – who are my writers and my producers – and then to do exactly as they wish without really putting too much of a fight up about it – because in the end it is them who are trying to create the story, and I’m trying to tell it.”