INTERVIEW: Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)

Published on, Apr 2017

‘I Deserve My Own Show’: ‘Breaking Bad’ Star Giancarlo Esposito Wants A Gus Fring Spin-off

Portraying one of the most compelling TV villains of all time, Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito is hoping for a Gustavo Fring spin-off series following his stint on Better Call Saul.

With Fring making his highly anticipated entrance to prequel Better Call Saul this past week, Esposito told The Music he doesn’t want to “stand on the sidelines anymore”.

“I’d like to have [a Gus spin-off] happen,” Esposito said.

“At this point, it’s a pipedream of mine…a limited edition six or 13 episode special on the rise of Gus would be enough for me.

“It would have to be rich and interesting and have a wonderful cast and great writers. I don’t want to stand on the sidelines anymore, I love the characters I portray, I love being part of the show and I think we should all enjoy the ride while I’m here.

“At this point in my life, I have a lot of talent and I want to work; I don’t want to hold back anymore and I deserve and feel like it’s time for me to have a show of my own, whatever that is.”

Esposito said the viability of that depends on how long Fring is in the Better Call Saul universe for, and then whether or not creator Vince Gilligan, Sony and AMC are interested in such a show

“I brought it up with Vince and I didn’t get much of a rise out of him in regard to that because I think he already knew it would either be Saul after Breaking Bad or it would be a show about Gus, whether it had that title or not.

“I believe he thought he knew more and was well down the road with Bob Odenkirk. He knew more about Saul – he hadn’t developed his ideas in regard to what Gus was doing before.”

Better Call Saul is now streaming via Stan.


Show Review: Blondie & Cyndi Lauper 12.04.17

Published on, Apr 2017

Cyndi Lauper, Blondie

Kings Park

Apr 12

Melbourne rising star Alex Lahey might have a little way to go until she’s accumulated the same mileage and collection of hits as the legendary names at the top of the bill, but singles from debut EP B-Grade University were pulled off with the same tight conviction you’d expect to see from a career band.

Aussie icons The Clouds delivered a medley of classic indie rock hits from “last century” as waves of nostalgia flooded the grassy banks of Kings Park. Their charming, gritty twang came in thick and fast with Say It, Renee’s Problems and Bower Of Bliss, while they introduced punters to their first new material in 20 years from the Zaffre EP.

The new tunes were refreshing but still sounded like they had been plucked directly from the ‘90s, as the dual, poppy vocals of Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young delicately danced atop music that took unexpected dark turns.

A menacing flurry of insect buzzing took over the PA and out strutted Blondie; leader Debbie Harry looking as cool as ever with two plush bees strapped to her head and a shirt screaming “Stop Fucking The Planet” in a sparkling silver text.

Immediately kicking things into 110%, the band launched into One Way Or Any Other, each member quick to prove their worth. “You don’t have any phone booths in Australia?” asked Harris. “We don’t either in New York, but we can still play the song.”

It was during Hanging On The Telephone that drummer Clem Burke’s relentless talent first took the spotlight; the music legend dressed in leather and dishing up whirlwind fills while beating the drums to death.

The Fun really kicked in when the keytar came out for an uplifting 6,000 punter singalong to Call Me, quickly followed by classic ballad In The Flesh, which pulled things back to reset the vibe for ’80s new wave hit Rapture. Harris bounced from one side of the stage to the other spitting punk melodies and dance moves to tight rolls from Burke, while guitarists Tommy Kessler and Chris Stein went to town; a fitting segue into an energy overload with Beastie Boys’ (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) topped off by Heart Of Glass and Dreaming.

A flat introduction by comparison, Funnel Of Love loosened things up for Cyndi Lauper to reset the mood. Hit She Bop was quick to illicit what its title promised, and with its infectious chorus, alongside the soaring verses of I Drove All Night, it was clear melody took precedence for the New York singer.

Country made an appearance through 2016 ballad The End Of The World and Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight, which led to the first of many longwinded, charming in-between song anecdotes.

Things picked up rapidly with Witness, and Lauper truly hit her stride on mid-paced number Rain On Me where her diverse vocal range got to shine through.

After a band introduction, Money Changes Everything finally gave each member an opportunity to truly showcase their skills, led by a thick synth line from Andy Burton and drummer Sammy Merendino, while Lauper rolled around on the floor in a mad fit.

While Lauper’s set wasn’t as full on as Blondie’s, there were more dynamics; highlighted in the emotional roller coaster that was evening’s final moments, as intimate, gut-wrenching ballads Time After Time and True Colors blended into party pop megahit Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

INTERVIEW: Chris Shiflett

Published in The Music (NSW, QLD) on, Apr 2017

Chris Shiflett Has Worked Out The Bugs For His New Album, ‘West Coast Town’

Perfecting a new songwriting style landed punk rocker-turned-country star Chris Shiflett in some hot water. The Foo Fighters guitarist tells Daniel Cribb a couple of stories about his new album.

Having just crossed the Portland state line in preparation for a headline tour, Chris Shiflett’s itching to showcase material from his third solo record, West Coast Town.

Although he released All Hats And No Cattle in 2013 – a collection of honky-tonk covers – it’s not been since his self-titled debut with backing band The Dead Peasants seven years ago that the Foo Fighters guitarist has dished up an LP of originals. “I don’t know if this matters to anyone else on earth, but it mattered to me – it was important to me that I made a record that I was really proud of,” Shiflett begins. “Listening to your own music, for me, is a little like listening to your voice on an answering machine.

“You always have these little things that bug you. And this one, I just really wanted to make a record that I didn’t feel like that about any of it. And I think I came a lot closer than I have in the past.”

Having grown up with punk music and getting his start in that scene before joining Foo Fighters and eventually developing a love for country (he now hosts country podcast Walking The Floor), Shiflett’s able to draw on a diverse range of songwriting techniques, but there was always one aspect of the craft that had escaped him until West Coast Town.

“Country tends to be specific and tells stories, and I had never really been comfortable writing like that,” he admits. “It took me a few years to get in a space where I felt comfortable doing that – this batch of songs, it was important to me that they were less vague rock’n’roll lyrics and more specific storytelling.”

It was a successful creative exercise that also got him in a little bit of hot water. “Right before I left home for this trip, I finally got the actual CDs. I took one out and unwrapped it and was looking at the artwork… I left it on my desk at home,” Shiflett explains.

“I get a text from my wife today and she says, ‘Yeah, I was just reading the lyric book, couldn’t help but notice these songs are all about us getting in fights and then a bunch of songs that clearly aren’t about me.’” he laughs. “And then she says, ‘Room 102?’ So that is the trouble you get in writing songs that deal with specific stories.”

It’s the art of framing a situation in a certain light so it can be interpreted in a number different way – a friendship that blew up 20 years ago can become a break-up song. The album’s title track, West Coast Town, has a wide range of possible influences; if you’re familiar with Shiflett’s work with SoCal punks No Use For A Name and Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, that’d be your first port of call for interpreting the song’s lyrics. “Of course I love punk rock and I love rock’n’roll, but I’m also a 45-year-old man and think a little bit different; I’m a dad now, I have a 13-year-old son… your outlook changes. I love the music, but I have no desire to live the lifestyle I lived when I was 25 now,” he tells.

That’s not to say you won’t see Shiflett playing in punk bands again – he even jammed with Rise Against during Foo Fighters’ 2015 Aussie tour. Gushing over time off in Byron Bay and Perth during the same trip, Shiflett says he’d love to tour West Coast Town around Australia in the near future – not as soon as some might have hoped, though, with the guitarist shutting down Foos tour rumours that had been circulating online. “I actually got asked by a journalist down in Australia a couple of weeks ago what our plans were, if we have any plans to tour Australia,” he says. “What I said was, ‘I don’t know anything, you’ll probably know before me.’ And what they printed was, ‘Foo Fighters Guitar Player Confirms Australian Tour.’ It was crazy – they literally printed the exact opposite of what I said, which was pretty funny.”

Show Review: Santana + The Doobie Brothers 07.04.17

Published on, Apr 2017

Santana, The Doobie Brothers

Perth Arena

Apr 7

Nostalgia and anticipation collided as a medley of classics rolled out over the PA through darkness like they were blasting out of an old radio.

A tight spotlight pierced the atmosphere to reveal The Doobie Brothers drummer Ed Toth, welcoming the night with the beat of Jesus Is Just Alright.

Four-part harmonies immediately transformed the hit into a religious experience with original member Patrick Simmons taking an early lead with an epic solo backed by Bill Payne’s erratic, rockin’ organ.

Fellow founding guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston took control as the band went Rockin’ Down The Highway, but it wasn’t long before the others had their moment in the sun, bassist John Cowan unleashing soaring vocals while sax player Marc Russo dished up rousing melodies during Take Me In Your Arms. A journey through rock, R&B, psychedelia and more culminated in fitting encore tune Listen To The Music.

American Latin rock god Carlos Santana casually stood side of stage as his band created an entrance of theatrical intensity through a percussive onslaught. The man of the hour strolled into a wave of applause while vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas’ infectious charm kicked in. Love Makes The World Go Round was an early indication of what vibe to expect from the show, as Santana found a perfect balance between showcasing his insane skills and letting his band take lead. The band was tight and bounced through numerous stop-start fills with ease while Santana filled the gaps with bursts of magic.

Although someone like Santana could quite easily let his guitar work do all the talking, he frequently made a connection with the audience between songs, recalling the first time he ever touched down in Perth back in 1973 on his birthday – the same day Bruce Lee passed away. “Here we are a couple of years later in Perth,” he joked. “We want to elevate, uplift the energy to a place above fear and illusion.”

A yellow spotlight illuminated the nosebleed section to reveal two punters dancing like there was no tomorrow to Maria Maria. Santana did his own mind-boggling dance and switched between two guitars throughout the song, adding a rich Spanish edge.

An epic salsa medley was cut short: “What the heck,” he said. “How come you’re all sitting down?” The setlist tightened as songs flowed effortlessly into one another; a change of pace that had everyone dancing to the soaring choruses of Enya’s Orinoco Flow (Sail Away), Evil Way and The Doors Light My Fire.

Taking punters on a trip through numerous cultures, Santana and his nine-piece band created a unique atmosphere in the arena that felt intimate and special. It was likely to do with the fact that the members on the massive stage were so close together they were practically rubbing shoulders the entire night, and Santana made every single punter feel like an integral part of that family. If only he could bring his new extended family to Bluesfest.