Tag Archives: interviews

Jaimie Alexander, Goddess Of War (South Magazine)

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The South Magazine — If you come across actress Jaimie Alexander on the movie or TV screen, chances are good she’s winning in a fight.

The Greenville, South Carolina, native appears as the warrior-goddess Sif in the first Thor movie and sequel, Thor: The Dark World, due in November. (That would be her in the trailer battling stone-monsters alongside Chris Hemsworth and holding a sword to the throat of Tom Hiddleston’s evil, awesome demigod, Loki.) This past January she starred with former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger in the throwback action film, The Last Stand.  She appeared for two seasons on the cult ABC sci-fi series Kyle XY with cool superhuman powers.

For the first Thor movie she even got an extreme close-up teaser poster of her face, overlaid with the text “THE GODDESS OF WAR.” And sometimes she gets involved in sword accidents. “I love doing the stunts, but they can be dangerous, like when I accidentally hit someone in the face with a sword,” she says. “Luckily he had a lot of padding, so it didn’t hurt that badly.” We’ll pause here to let you think about the last time you came home from work after hitting someone in the face with a sword, just not that badly.

Read more in the new issue of South magazine.

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Dan Winters: Ingenious Iconographer (South Magazine)

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The South Magazine — To call Dan Winters a “celebrity photographer” is to miss much of the story.

It’s understandable that people default to the celebrity hook when describing Winters’ work. His style of portraiture is atmospheric, instantly recognizable and a touch other-wordly. There are shots of Tom Hanks, Tupac, Michael Jordan, Jack White, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, Christopher Walken, and a ’50s-inspired version of Laura Dern, lost in some off-camera distance, treated to a desaturated color palette and feeling more permanent and mortal than most ephemeral celebrity photographs. It doesn’t take many glances for even untrained eyes to begin instinctively identifying a Winters portrait.

But if labels make things easier, then Winters—who turns 50 in October and has kept a house on Tybee Island for 14 years—is also an aerospace photographer, an entomological photographer (with a lively interest in electron microscopes), a documenter of America, a chronicler of Texas gang life, a photographer of women in the military, a builder, illustrator and creator of collages and much more. His is a broad, stretching body of work that, he admits, is frustrating to see distilled down to that of a guy who only takes pictures of famous people.

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Find the full story in the October/November issue of South Magazine.

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Zac Efron’s full body transformation (Men’s Health)

Men’s HealthIt’s a warm southern California morning, and I’m meeting Zac Efron in Studio City at a place called Weddington Golf & Tennis. With a name that stuffy, I expect marble and money. The course turns out to be public, with a plastic-cup snack bar where a waitress, without looking up, informs the 24-year-old movie star that she doesn’t take credit cards. They’ve reserved us a private tee, which is approximately 4 feet away from the adjacent public one.

Here at the practice range, Efron—in T-shirt, oversized cap, shorts, and Vans—strolls around in disarming anonymity, though to be fair, it’s hard for even the preeminent teen pinup of the 2000s to attract notice in a crowd that includes this many codgers in lavender pants. After talking and meandering (not especially well) through a bucket of golfballs, we encounter Roger Dunn, a California golf-shop magnate who gives lessons wearing a Panama hat and smoky sunglasses. We’d heard that Dunn is just shy of his 50th year of teaching, and he’s been introduced to us as a man of considerable local repute. Mostly Dunn has something to teach, and Efron is drawn to that.

Read the full article at Men’s Health.


Interview — Mac McAnally: Buffett’s sideman has some stories he could tell

Island Packet — Mick Jagger has Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen had Clarence Clemons. Jimmy Buffett’s onstage foil/sidekick has for decades been a very large, congenial ginger named Mac McAnally.

With a massive helmet of Hagar the Horrible-thick hair, dry-rubbed Southern wit and considerable tallness, McAnally does not exactly fit into the Caribbean-escapist vibe conjured up by Buffett’s beach blanket blowouts.

But since the 1990s, the Mississippi native has served as Buffett’s onstage counterpoint, guitarist and producing and writing partner. (He also has, during performances of “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere,” served as Alan Jackson.)

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Interview: Gnarls Barkley are aware of their own oddness and uniqueness. Can you dig it?

Billboard — The title of Gnarls Barkley’s sophomore record is the first, and probably last, funny thing about it.

If the band’s 2006 debut, “St. Elsewhere,” seemed to sail in from some neighboring planet — a pop disc that smeared itself with psychedelic weirdness, a vague sense of the creepy and a knockout Violent Femmes cover — the follow-up is a much trickier trip to the dark side. (“I’m not doing so good,” a serious-sounding Cee-Lo Green intones on the otherwise effervescent opening track, “Charity Case.”)

But where there’s darkness there’s light, Green says. And as Gnarls Barkley — Green’s musical partnership with Danger Mouse — prepares for the April 8 release of its highly anticipated sophomore set for Downtown/Atlantic, “The Odd Couple,” he’s making sure to keep focused on both.

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Click here for the print edition.

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Billy Joel hosts “Christmas in Fallujah”

billy-joel.jpgNEW YORK (Billboard) — Billy Joel has broken his self-imposed retirement from pop for the second time in a year, but he’d almost rather you didn’t know that.

The second new Joel-penned single since his last pop album, 1993’s “River of Dreams,” is called “Christmas in Fallujah” and hits iTunes December 4.

There are two major differences between it and the classics that have made him one of the best-selling artists of all time. First, there’s no piano on it, and second, there’s barely any Billy Joel on it, either. Read the Billboard story here.


Interview: Snoop Dogg rolls out the ‘Blue Carpet’

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Billboard / Reuters — “You’re about to witness the eighth wonder of the world,” Snoop Dogg intones about “Tha Blue Carpet Treatment,” his eighth record and one focused squarely on the street-level gangsterism that fueled his rise from the hoods of Long Beach, Calif., to the top of the game.

“It’s not about what I’m doing or where I want to go,” he says. “I put all that aside for this one. I just wanted to make a record that feels good for the hood.”

In prescribing his “Treatment,” which Geffen released November 21, Snoop faced an editor’s nightmare: whittling a rumored 300 recorded tracks down to 21, which he did by adhering to those gangsta criteria.

There are quite a few VIPs walking down the carpet with him: R. Kelly provides a gooey-caramel hook on “That’s That”; the Game contributes a call for gangland unity on “Gangbangin’ 101”; B-Real adds Latin flavor on the Pharrell-produced call for black/brown unity on “Vato”; and Stevie Wonder lends vocals and harp to the redemptive “Conversations,” a sort-of remake of Wonder’s “Have a Talk With God.”

But the set’s most eyebrow-raising appointments come from the family doctor: Dr. Dre, with whom Snoop had not collaborated in five years. The most potent of their three co-headlining tracks is “Imagine.” Over a vintage-Dre beat of minimalist bang and twinkling piano, the pair envisions hip-hop both in an alternate universe (“Imagine Biggie with his son/Imagine ‘Pac being called ‘Pop’ by one”), and never having been born (“Imagine Russell still struggling/no Def Jam, just another n—a hustlin”‘).

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BETTER TOGETHER
Asked what persuaded him to ask the Dr. for a house call, Snoop says simply, “Overdue. We waited long enough. My last two records were good without him. But it’s better when I work with him.”

But soliciting Dre’s involvement is a tricky proposition, because, as Snoop says, fans are looking for them to “make magic every time. When we started, wasn’t nobody expecting nothing. Now people expect some brilliant s–t from us. And 90% of what we do is magic. The rest, you’ll never hear it,” he says with a laugh.

Snoop admits to loving the work that comes with dropping an album and reclaiming his place. “I’m like an overseer,” he says. “You can say I come at the game from the perspective of a giant or a boss, but at the same time, I still play with these youngsters out there.”

How, you might ask, does he pull that off? “I do me,” he says, with a ready laugh. “When I do other stuff, the s–t doesn’t work. All I gotta do is be Snoop Dogg.”
True to form, “Blue Carpet” kicks off a Snoop-centric media blitz that will last for several months. He’s co-authored a book with David E. Talbert, “Love Don’t Live Here No More: Book One of Doggy Tales,” part one of a purported series centering on an aspiring rapper growing up in Long Beach. And next spring, he’ll star in “A Woman’s Touch,” a feature film he says will have the following effect: “Every black woman in America will love me,” he says, laughing, then breaks into a little Jennifer Holliday: “You’re gonna lo-ove me.”

“I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s something I’ve never done before,” Snoop says of his lead role. “I’m coming straight at the women with this. It’s not gangsta, not hood. It’s strictly for the ladies.”

A look, maybe, at the sensitive side of Snoop? “Nah, not sensitive,” he says with a laugh, “but an awareness that they are who they are. You know, in my songs it’s usually ‘bitches and hoes.’ But I wanted to make something specifically for them.”


Interview: Grace Potter’s magic

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Florida Times-Union — If the name Grace Potter and the Nocturnals sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you caught the band opening for Robert Cray on Thursday night at the Florida Theatre. Or opening for Soulive a few weeks back at Freebird. Or opening for Cray last year. Or on the bill for this year’s Springing the Blues festival.

They call what the New England-based performer is doing “market saturation.” They also call it still a really good way to get people to remember your name.

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All of 22 with an infectious giggle, Grace is out to make herself the world’s most famous Potter since that magician kid, gig by gig.

Reached en route to a New Orleans show on what sounds like a beast of a van ride (“We’re not a tour bus band yet,” she says with a laugh), Potter lets on that it’s a big night. She even bought herself a present for the occasion: a 1957 Gibson she picked up in Austin, Texas, a day prior.

“I only pay money in towns that I like,” she said. “I’m a Gibson girl, so I went in for a vintage one. I love it. It’s a really sexy little thing.”

Potter played guitar when she started about a year ago, but she spends most of her time these days behind the Hammond organ, which, not counting a crazy good a cappella performance of Nothing But the Water, is the main thing you take away from one of the band’s shows.

“According to the guys in the band,” she laughs, “there are no chicks in the country that knew how to play it. They said, ‘Come on, it’ll set you apart from all the sad girls with pianos.’ So it’s sort of become the centerpiece of the band.”

Potter gets compared to Norah Jones, but where Jones’ supple voice tends to quietly kiss her notes, Potter goes full steam ahead with her funky blues/rock, hence slots opening for Dave Matthews, Trey Anastasio and Derek Trucks. The production speaks to that, as well – she and the guys (guitarist Scott Tournet, drummer Matthew Burr and bassist Bryan Dondero) recorded their most recent, Nothing But the Water, in a New England barn. The work is a mix of gospel and funk and rock and plenty of the blues that helped secure her place in the Springing the Blues festival this weekend.

Jacksonville enjoys a special place in Potter’s heart. It was here that her band first opened for the relentlessly touring Cray last year, a performance that, by most accounts, brought down the house.

“[The 2005 Cray concert] was one of the most big-deal shows we ever had,” she says. “We were such a baby little band, and he called us up and said, ‘Hey, here’s a random opportunity to play in front of 2,000 people.’ ”

Until that show, Potter says, the band stuck mainly around its northeastern base. They formed at St. Lawrence University in New York, when they all met regularly to do what music people do when it’s too cold: plunder whatever vinyl shops they can find and sit around and play records.

Potter was into Joni Mitchell and Patty Griffin (“Total chick music” she says), but she already knew that wasn’t her direction. When she met “the boys,” she found her heart was in something a little more rocking.

“We all got into the same sounds, late ’60s and early ’70s rock that nobody, for whatever reason, was paying attention to anymore,” Potter said.

And once the band started picking up, she quickly pulled the plug on school – “I’d always planned on not going for the full four years,” she jokes – and the band relocated to its native Vermont, where it still makes its base.

“If we’re not touring, we all kind of sit around there. And if there’s no money to buy groceries, we have my mom make us up some catfish soup.”

There’s a little more money now. The band recently signed to Hollywood Records, which will re-release a spiffed-up version of Water on May 2.

“It’s not really a big-shot deal, but it’s a great opportunity for us to open up creatively and brush off this record that was recorded two years ago to see if there’s something about it that’s worth putting out again.”

Plus, it’s a pretty great prologue to a summer that’ll include a stop on Bonnaroo and more touring. World domination is still a ways away for the muggle Potter. But at least maybe her mom can take a break from whipping up the catfish soup.


Interview: Roger Taylor and Queen, plus and minus

“We’re not gonna look too much like old men [on stage],” says Queen drummer Roger Taylor, of the band’s first tour with Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers and without, notably, Freddie Mercury. “Thankfully we still have our hair and are not enormously overweight.” (It is important to note that talking about bands who still have their hair carries extra weight when said band includes Brian May.) Taylor on why Queen wants to continue to rock you.


Little Steven Van Zandt: Just a prisoner of rock n’ roll

Florida Times-Union — He’s not the only one, nor the oldest, nor the richest. But Little Steven Van Zandt might be the most charismatic, dedicated and visible crusader around these days scrapping to preserve the dirty purity of what they used to call rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s a thread that runs through the activities in what appears to be a fairly insane (and probably paisley-colored) day planner. Van Zandt, 54, splits his time these days as lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, shooting the sixth (and reportedly final) season of The Sopranos and hosting a radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage, which airs locally from 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays on WFYV (104.5 FM).

The show, like all his projects, is powered by one core rule, Van Zandt said.

“The old and the new can live side by side, and in fact strengthen each other,” he said by phone last week. “The old stuff gives the new stuff depth. The new stuff gives the old stuff relevance. My philosophy is: Cool is timeless. And that’s how people respond. We get e-mails from 12-year-olds and 62-year- olds.”

That workmanlike investment in the sprawling history of rock is driving Van Zandt to spend most of August on a last-ditch crusade to save CBGB, the grimy, venerated New York club that became the nucleus of punk in the ’70s by first spotlighting acts such as Television, the Ramones and Blondie. The club’s 12-year lease is up on Wednesday, Aug. 31. And its owner, Hilly Kristal, and its landlord, the Bowery Residents’ Committee, a non-profit organization that benefits the homeless, have been embroiled in a tangled and long-running legal logjam over disputed rent payments for months.

“We’re making progress,” Van Zandt. “The clock is ticking, though.”

The club scored a legal victory late last week when a Manhattan civil court judge ruled that CBGB didn’t have to pay long-disputed back rent to the BRC — and that it couldn’t be evicted on that basis.

But its future is still cloudy. When CBGB’s lease expires in two weeks, its rent will be doubled to more than $40,000 a month. Yet Van Zandt remains optimistic that the club will still be standing when the legal smoke clears.

Van Zandt took the role as mediator for the club — the only one he’s heard of that regularly pops up in travel books — out of something close to duty. “I couldn’t say no, you know what I mean?” he said.

“Part of our fight in this revolution to support this rebirth of rock ‘n’ roll, this huge contemporary garage-rock scene, is creating a new infrastructure, because most of the old infrastructure is gone. To lose yet one more club . . .” he trails off. “This is the last club left! Leave us at least one!” he added, laughing.

If the club infrastructure is crumbling now, the radio infrastructure has been exploded for years. Which is why the Underground Garage is such a critically acclaimed novelty — here’s a show that spins Ramones, Carl Perkins and Amboy Dukes nuggets next to stuff by the White Stripes, the Caesars and the Kaiser Chiefs. It’s not a cliche to say that it’s the kind of thing that just ain’t done anymore.

“We’re the only format in the world that plays new rock ‘n’ roll,” Van Zandt said. “You can hear hard rock, you can hear hip-hop, you can hear pop, but you can’t hear new rock ‘n’ roll anywhere.”

The show’s a certified winner — three years in, it airs on Sirius satellite radio and 130 FM stations in 190 markets nationwide. David Moore, program director for WFYV (104.5 FM), said the show is No. 1 in the male 25-to-54 demographic for its time slot, and No. 2 among non-talk stations — all for a Sunday night slot that’s “not a day or time usually associated with high levels of rock radio listening.”

But for all its critical noise, Van Zandt seems surprised, even perplexed, that it hasn’t been ripped off more.

“We have seen some influence in odd ways,” he allowed. “Steve Jones [of the Sex Pistols] as a DJ in L.A. This Jack format, oddly enough, is kind of a result of our success — even though they’re not including new music, unfortunately. But I must be honest, I am a little disappointed we have not been able to convince people to play more new music. I don’t really think audiences are gonna run for the hills if you play something new once in a while.”

To that end, Van Zandt is working on a TV version of the Underground Garage, one of seven music-oriented pilots he has in various stages of development and more avenues by which he can get new music in front of a nuttily crowded marketplace.

“I wanna make that relationship between playing new bands on the radio and seeing new bands on TV, it makes a big difference,” he said. “We’ve now played over 100 new bands in the past three years, and we wanna put the faces to the sounds.” He said he hopes to have something on by the first of the year.

He also remains fully active on E Street as well, and has contributed to a release commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Springsteen classic Born to Run. He predicts there’ll be another record and tour with the band. “There is a very cool thing that’s gonna come out about that,” he said.

And after a 21-month hiatus, Van Zandt will reprise his role of mobster Silvio Dante when the sixth season of the Sopranos starts on HBO in March. The cable channel last week announced an extra eight “bonus episodes” in addition to the previously announced 12-show run.

But for the next two weeks anyway, Van Zandt’s energies are centered on the club. “We’re staying very optimistic about this,” he said. “It’s quite a fight, though.”


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