What is your musical background?
I started playing at a young age. First I dabbled with guitar but that soon changed to drums at about the age of 8 and just kind of stuck playing in my room to cassettes or records. By about the age of 13 or so I started jamming with friends and hitting the local jam nights to learn from some of the best in my area they let me sit in on tunes I thought I knew (LOL).
When and why did you start playing?
Drums at the age of 8, It was more of an outlet for me is how it started and I developed a love and interest of music soon after.
What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Man it’s so hard to say what the first tune is, I’m going to say it was one by Kiss though.
Who are your favorite musicians, groups?
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a “Retro” 80′s kinda guy Duran Duran, Michael Jackson just about all that stuff. But I’m also a huge fan of Queensryche, Tesla, Foo Fighters and lately All American Rejects. Musician wise Tommy Lee, Troy Lucketta, Scott Rockenfield and Shannon Larkin come to mind.
Who have you played with?
I guess mostly noted for my work with Bulletboys, and Cockfight. But I have also had the pleasure of performing with Bang Tango, Ron Keel, Britny Fox and even a short lived stint with Sly Fox there a few others that I’m not going to tell (LOL).
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
My Motto is “Being a good Musician is being a great Magician”. The key is to not let anyone else know, to cover your mistakes as well as your band mates (Smoke n’ Mirrors) I try to pay attention to everyone on stage at all times so I listen allot and and help out in anyway to at least lesson the effect. The key is to not let anyone else know, to cover your mistakes as well as your band mates. There is no way to prepare for stuff like that but you can stop a mistake from turning into a train wreck.
How often and for how long do you practice?
It differs for me, not nearly as much as I should probably. Right after a tour I find myself taking a few weeks off mostly to recover after that I try to play at least a few hours every other day spending the off days to concentrate on writing/arranging ideas that have came to me while on the road so I guess music is pretty much an everyday thing either drums or just the process,
Let’s talk Modern Superstar…
You are an original and founding member of Modern Superstar. How did Modern Superstar come about and how has it evolved over the years?
The idea of doing my own thing developed while in Bulletboys I guess right around the recording of ”10 Cent Billionaire”, Mostly from a creative stand point as Bulletboys had just inked a deal with Chavis Records at the time so things were headed in the right direction for us finally after starting over we were landing tours, a new deal in place and things were good. But I just kinda wanted my own thing. I spoke to Marq about it and he just wasn’t interested in me doing more than just Bulletboys and at the time we had allot on our plate.
Later on I was contacted by an old friend of mine after 10 years of no contact which turned out to be Bill Carpenter (Monk). We started kicking around the idea of maybe a tribute band. I was still very much involved with Bulletboys at the time, and put the original band idea on the back burner. We needed a singer so I contacted Jamie Fletcher who I had toured with while he was doing his stint in Britny Fox. We had a meeting and from there our tribute band started.
I had become fairly close with Chavis Records CEO Bill Chavis while on his label with Bulletboys. As it turned out I handled most of the business dealings in Bulletboys. Soon after forming the original project with Monk and Jamie, I was contacted by Chavis and was informed that Chavis Records would no longer be doing business with Bulletboys. So came the perfect time to do an original project. I had a few conversations with Bill Chavis on the possibilities of doing a record through Chavis. Chavis and I came up with Modern Superstar as an idea and built the plan pushing it forward before we even had a band.
The idea of getting “known” musicians I have either played with or was hoping to throughout my career was kicked around but eventually scrapped as this was not my purpose. Monk was the first person I approached with the idea. He quickly accepted and we then approached Jamie and there you have it Modern Superstar.
The goal for Modern Superstar has always been to put together the best band possible. It seems the band has recently made many changes. This by far is the best looking lineup to date. Musically how is this band vs any other lineup and is this lineup here to stay?
I think the answer is in the first part of this question I wanted the best band possible and I don’t think I ever had that until now. In fact, I know I didn’t and it has been confirmed by all of the recent emails and comments by many. However, people evolve and change some things for the best some not. My goal was to put together a band of guys that I wanted to hang out with on and off the road, have fun, make music and hopefully be able to eat while doing it.
Later on my goals changed a bit I saw we were really on to something by today’s standards anyway, and I want to accomplish something more and with every member change it got me closer to that goal although I believe everyone that is no longer in the band served a purpose and had a hand in getting us to this point. I miss most of them dearly!
Musically this is the most solid group of musicians that have ever been in Modern Superstar. There always seemed to be that one guy that just didn’t gel despite their musical ability. It took time to sort and figure it out. Now those obstacles are gone and this lineup rocks period.
What position do you hold in the band?
How has touring been with the band?
Touring has it’s ups and down in general. I can say I have a great time while out with the guys in Modern Superstar. We travel the world and play music every night. Get to meet some very cool people. What could be better?
How well does the band get along? It’s no secret that there have been a lot of member changes over the years.
This lineup gets along very well as I said. These are the guys I would be hanging with while off the road personally. Creativity wise, this is the lineup that has worked the best! It’s the best situation Modern Superstar has been in to date. The member changes stem from a few different reasons either it be personal or creative.
Tell us about the departure of Jamie Fletcher…
My thoughts on Jamie “leaving” Modern Superstar; It came at a time where it was best for everyone involved. I think he had some personal issues as well as some health issues he needed to take care of that were effecting him as well as the band. He wanted some time off from touring but Modern Superstar had just inked a new deal with HIGHVOLMUSIC which means even more touring, writing and recording for the new disc.
It became apparent that something needed to give before the ink on our deal had even dried. I think we all tried to overlook the issues at first hoping they would go away which they never do. Lets say Jamie had decided to leave the band and no one tried to talk him out of it. Case closed time to move we wish him luck.
Who is the new vocalist?
Good question Mike Hatfield has been doing the vocal duties since Jamie’s departure although we are still in the process of filling the spot permanently. We are taking our time and searching for the perfect fit I feel fortunate to have Mike on board and he will remain in the band in some capacity even after a permanent singer is found.
Modern Superstar recently changed vocalists. Tell us about the transition from Jamie Fletcher to Mike Hatfield to Tommy Milan and how it all went down.
Mike H came in right after the departure with Jamie. We had a pending gig that just could not be moved, and Jamie was not willing to fulfill the remaining commitments Modern Superstar had. I contacted Mike H only days prior to the show. Everyone came in to a 3 day rehearsal and off to the show we went.
After the show we saw that Mike H had the determination, drive and willingness. He was that missing link so to speak. We also found out what a great guitarist/writer he was despite the fact he is a great vocalist he just wasn’t the right one for Modern Superstar and I think he will agree. But still we could not deny the fact of how well he fit in.
So now enter Tommy Milan. I guess the question should be how was the transition from Jamie to Tommy!?! They have 2 different approaches and styles and the old songs were written with Jamie in mind however we welcomed and wanted a change. Not so much musically but the overall vibe just wasn’t there anymore and that puts a creative lock on all involved. Let’s just say we are happy and no longer in a funk about where we are going or worried about what’s going to happen next. Things really were getting very destructive one thing after another musically, financially, mentally and decisions were being made based on other agendas and people not even in the band.
Why the recent change with Bill Carpenter?
The change with Bill was a very tough choice and still sucks to this day. He was here from the start and played a roll in the early Modern Superstar sound. That being said we had a brand new leash on things with the new members and we found ourselves changing drastically. Our look, the sound, the overall vibe of the band and the label had also taken notice. However some hard decisions needed to be made. We attempted a 6 piece thing and that just did not work well at all especially with the direction the label was wanting us to go. The decision wasn’t purely based on just these things, there were some other factors but it’s not for me to go into.
Will it change and impact the dynamics of the band? How?
Of course it will anytime you have a member leave it’s going to effect or change things a bit, It’s not always in a bad or negative way. Some things have been weighing on this band as of late and everyone is excited about the new possibilities and new beginning we now have. A little change in direction is coming lets just say.
Tell us how different it is this time around in the studio recording with this band vs. the band that recorded the debut release?
It’s totally different vibe wise although the songs for ‘Under My Skin’ were written and played for a year or so by the band before recording with the exception of a few songs that were written on the spot, so creative wise we really didn’t write or try new parts or different things it was mostly these are how we play them so hear you go. We were also in a time crunch with ‘Under My Skin’. We had a week before we were back on the road and that record was finished in less than 30 hours.
With the new band and this new record it’s been very much a process creatively wise. Each one of us slings ideas and we try them, some we use, some we don’t. But we have more hours into our single ‘Dirty Girl’ than we did on our entire last record.
This new band just clicks. The chemistry is amazing. We had a few people come down to the studio to witness rehearsals. WOW! is all we kept hearing. The best thing about this band is we’re all very like minded. We are also lucky enough to have John Hyatt on board as our engineer along with Stet Howland (WASP – Where Angels Suffer – Lita Ford) for the new projects. Stet takes on more of a producer roll with me and it’s great to have that kind of input and support. Our focus is to make a great record period.
The buzz on Modern Superstar over the past 6 months seems to have increased and has been very positive. What can this be attributed to?
Honestly I think Zo, Mike Mackey, and Mike Hatfield were the missing links we needed in this band musically and personally. We are just firing on all cylinders giving our best performances, doing better business. And since both they the band I think the four of us just grew into something different. I know they helped renew and revise the vision that I always had.
We just kept evolving and wanted to accomplish more and more but for whatever reasons be it health, personal, financial whatever we had one member that just didn’t want to continue and when the band was approached about him departing there were no arguments. We wish both of the guys much success we just don’t have the same goals!
It seems that this new band has some things happening for it. The promotional aspects have stepped up and your new label seems very much on board with Modern Superstar. Why now?
I guess you would have to ask our label that, LOL! Although I tend to think it’s from the band being very like minded and as I said earlier, we want to accomplish the same goals and although I take the lead for the most part, the current members as individuals would pretty much handle do or say the exact same thing. There is NO self agendas in this band at all and we act very much as a unit or team. I also have to contribute our recent success to our label HIGHVOLMUSIC they set forth a plan for Modern Superstar and we have executed it and so we all strongly believe it was the right thing for us in replacing members and changing direction. This band now is what Chavis and I wanted from the start. It just took a while for all the right pieces and personnel to fall in line. And to be honest I was asked to make some changes long ago and I refused for whatever reasons. HIGHVOLMUSIC ask us to make some changes so we did and its working. We have a new marketing firm ‘New Ocean Media’ that is a dream to even be able to work with.
Share a good road story with us…
Lets just say in my book if it’s good it can’t be shared in a public forum
What are your expectations for Modern Superstar?
Success! We will not settle for anything less.
What are the current plans for Modern Superstar?
Finish the new disc, and continue to tour to support it
Would you care to comment on the recent personal attacks that have taken place?
No, it’s not worth the time to even give this person acknowledgment. Just remember there are 2 sides to every story and you shouldn’t be so quick to judge and always consider the source!
What does 2013 hold for the band?
A brand new release first and foremost and then go out and support it. We already have a plan that has been set by the powers that be so we are going to stay on that path. Modern Superstar is very much a live band so some surprises are coming I assure you.