What Men Want

What an awesome movie!

That is not the way I usually start a review, but this movie needs it. It is just so fun an powerful, so fresh. It is a good (romantic) comedy.

It follows the same idea as the classic “What Women Want”, only gender swapped. As you can imagine from that sentence, a lot of people (“man-babies)” will be offended about it. But worry not, because the movie proves them wrong.

Taraji P. Henson, whom you might know as Cookie in Empire, is masterful as a leading lady. She is funny and witty and dramatic, powerful, and yet flawed. She truly owns the movie. While the movie is a great win for diversity, with a woman of colour as the main character, her work stands tall for herself, not needing to be representing a whole group of people.

We see her character, Ali, work in a sport talent agency, where she is repeatedly left out of the “boys’ club” and told to “stay in her [female] lane”. Yet again she was looked over for promotion because “she doesn’t get men”.

The following night, at her friend’s bachelorette party, Ali meets a very obvious sham of a psychic, who makes Ali drink some strange tea. As we later find out, it had a mix of marijuana, extasy and Haitian plants. After a minor head injury suffered that night while out at a club, Ali is now able to read the inner thoughts of men.

Her new power proves to be hilarious and scary when used on her loyal, trusting, and very amusing assistant. Once she embraced her new power, she managed to outsmart her colleagues, trying to sign the young new basketball superstar. In doing that, she had to convince his dad/manager, played by Tracy Jordan, who is exactly what you would expect from a Tracy Jordan character. In order to impress him, she pretends her one-night stand is actually her husband.

What goes on is entirely predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable. You know the structure of a romantic comedy, mixed with some work-place drama. I will not give away more of the plot, because it is really worth seeing.

Image result for what men want

All in all, the movie is funny and quirky. It allows Taraji to shine and show us all what she is got. Once again, I must say that this movie is not going to win Best Picture anytime soon. However, it is a movie we can all enjoy, a fun outing with your friends. And, if it happens, while you do that, to understand a bit more about what men or women want, then all the better.

Review brought to you by Hollywood Multiplex Bucuresti Mall

Test your fear of heights and step into virtual reality at the Museum of Senses Bucharest starting March 1st!

Forget reality as it is!

With spring’s arrival the Museum of Senses and Loop Virtual Reality have prepared a series of adventures that will totally stimulate your senses. Whether you choose to test your fear of heights, the VR simulator of the educational experiences, you are guaranteed to find something to suit you.

The well known project that will test your fear of heights from the Internatics Interactive Expo is  going to be available to the public within the museum where nothing is as it seems. Get ready for increased heart beats, a good dosage of adrenaline and take a step towards defeating the acrophobia.

Kat Walk Mini is the platform which allows you to truly walk in virtual reality! Get ready to reach a new level of immersivity and reach new universes while being totally safe. The whole system is sustained by a rotative core with a backrest which becomes useful for resting from time to time.

Loop VR at the Museum of Senses

That’s not all! Since we believe in virtual reality’s immense power to change the world, we are preparing a series of educative VR projects meant to open one’s mind. What if you were able to take a stroll in a capsule through the human body? What if you could visit Everest, study and visit other planets of draw without any limits? All this and more will soon be available only at the Museum of Senses.

Come thrill your senses and explore new universes!

This is a partnership between Loop Virtual Reality Solutions and the  Museum of Senses.  For more information you may contact us via  loop@vrsolutions.tech or info.ro@museumofsenses.com.

Brutal Assault 2019 – Bands Update

Let’s kick off this band announcement with the well-known metal workaholics! Swedish metal eminence SOILWORK spawned in Helsingborg, anno 1995 by guitarist Peter Wichers and vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid. The band’s unique blend of melodic metal has developed at a staggering rate, most notably with the “Natural Born Chaos”, produced by Devin Townsend. Despite a few line-up shuffles, SOILWORK continues to release strong albums and conquers the fans worldwide, even after 20 years. Now, with the new highly acclaimed album Verligheten, will SOILWORK dominate over the fortress!
In the late 2016, a statement was made about a new album of the Swedish sludge/grindcorers THE ARSON PROJECT, claiming that we were about to witness 23 minutes of straight harsh audio violence. And we got it! Now, this Malmö based quartet will spread filthy tones through their outstanding music full of violence and hatred on Brutal Assault as well.
Dreamy musical landscapes painted by the most delicate nuances. Hills of endless imagination built stone by stone with a gentle talent. THE CONTORTIONIST represents fearlessness in musical expression, designed to please the artist as much as the audience. This band makes progressive metal music, anchored in the heavy sounds that drag the individual players to the stage, yet still unmoored by convention or expectations. There is a time, when you simply need to ease a little, and THE CONTORTIONIST will help to make it happen.
Outstanding, shocking, unbelievable, breathtaking and many more is the Japanese self-called “brutal orchestra” VAMPILLIA. It’s not just a band, it’s something that you have to experience in order to believe it. Each record of this ensemble represents something different, just as their shows do, which you can call an emotional roller-coaster. After their successful tour with Alcest, will Brutal Assault warmly welcome these freaks again in Czech Republic!
Detroit: MI’s WALLS OF JERICHO are not just noteworthy because they are a metalcore band with a screaming female on vocals. They are also worth remembering because they have been adeptly balancing old-school hardcore, thrash metal, and “chugga-chugga” metalcore with a ferocity and dedication unmatched by many of their contemporaries. WOJO became an iron sureness not only on the hardcore field and not just because of their music, but also due to their attitude and distinguished performance full of blasting energy of their front-woman Candace Kucsulain.
2018 marks the twenty-seventh year of PRIMORDIAL’s seminal career, and the return with their ninth full-length Exile Amongst The Ruins, they have lost none of their vitality. Once again building upon their signature sound, the follow up to 2014’s “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” is a more raw, “old school sounding” record than its predecessor. Hitting home, with what vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga describes as “a direct energy” and wielding an urgency that is undeniable, the Irish quintet once again effortlessly blends elements of Celtic folk and black metal like no one else. One thing is certain – not only the Czech fans will welcome PRIMORDIAL with a warm hug!
Picking their name from a line in Demolition Hammer’s ‘Human Dissection’, California’s SKELETAL REMAINS not only have proven their exquisite taste when finding the right moniker, but also musically by citing Death, Pestilence, early Gorguts, Morbid Angel and the afore-mentioned NY thrashers as influences. With their insanely good album Devouring Mortality, SKELETAL REMAINS are coming back to conquer what’s theirs on Brutal Assault!
Retro-rock visionaries MONSTER MAGNET spent much of the 1990s struggling against the prejudices imposed upon the image and sound by alternative rock fashion nazis. In fact, it wasn’t until that movement’s late-’90s decline that the band’s dogged persistence finally paid off and their fourth album, Powertrip, catapulted to gold sales status on the strength of its massive hard rock hit “Space Lord.” In the meantime, MONSTER MAGNET managed to become one of the most successful and influential bands associated with the so-called underground “stoner rock” scene. Nowadays, it seems a little bit off to call them underground band, since these guys are a huge deal.
All thrashers, beware! DEMOLITION HAMMER are coming to set things straight in the fortress! New York City’s one of the best thrash acts are back with a helluva record Tortured Existence, which shows the band in their best shape!
An absolute honor is to announce legends of psychedelic rock, Chicago based act full of witchery and surrounded by mystical magic – COVEN! This is the first band which brought sign of horns to metal music. The first band using occult lyrics and singing about satanism and the first satanic band which had a big song in charts. Jinx Dawson spawned COVEN in late 2016 with a new line-up to arrange more sabbaths all over the world and we are pleased to say that one of these magical sessions will happen on Brutal Assault!
Back in the day, a claim was made about the HELLHAMMER, that this band will never come back, because it’s absolutely impossible to reform a band so closely linked to a very specific and unique time period. However, here we are, standing before something that will remind us of these times – Tom Gabriel brings us TRIUMPH OF DEATH! It is a project with an open end. Apart from vague considerations to, perhaps, release an occasional live EP, Triumph Of Death will not record any new music but is solely dedicated to performing both well-know and obscure Hellhammer songs.

Amorphis/ Soilwork and Jinger- concert review

You know, December was fun, holidays and all, but did you ever go to an Amorphis show in January? One that was announced in August 2018? The hype is real, I am telling you. So, on this very cold evening of 22 January, in the year of Metallica/Slayer and others big gigs, I ice-skated my way to Arenele Romane, the Venue where the first big show of the year would take place. An interesting mix of Soilwork, Jinger and Nailed to Obscurity starring the finish classics of Amorphis.

Nailed to Obscurity, photo by Carlos Funes

Nailed to Obscurity is a band I didn’t know. Saw them on the poster and thought I’ll give them the live chance, so I got there shortly after they started playing (on schedule). They caught my attention really fast, as I was quite confused about what I was listening to. Went there for some melodic death metal and got some really nice mellow parts and clean vocals, combined with heavy guitar riffs and heavy drums (specific to the genre). Their approach to this style is definitely unique, with many twist and turns which gets you caught in a spiderweb. Even though I fell in love with their latest album “Black Frost”, which might be the apex of their “experiments”, I am eagerly waiting for a fifth studio album. Other than that, the show was really good, from Raimund’s voice (which happens to have a wide-range in it, with smooth transitions from low growls to clean), to a very good sound, low dark lights and lots of energy and smiles. I am sure they already had many fans in the audience but everyone loved them, overall.  

Jinger was a bit “outside” the line-up but still, put a hell of a show. Under some green and yellow cold lights, Tatiana showed again her great vocals skills, singing both with clean vocals and growls, with a contrast one has never seen before. It is really impressive how easy it seems for her to go from brutal, fast, low growl and high screams, to girlie clean vocals, a thing that can be enjoyed at its best on “Pisces”. The metalcore/progressive band was the twist of the night, one that the audience loved, but of course, Jinger has a pretty big fanbase in Romania.  Still, there wasn’t a lot of movement from the band on stage except for Tatiana, who kicks and punches and engages the crowd like a Xena of metal. The band knows their craft and they absolutely shred live, from the riffs to the intricate bass to the percussions and the dive-bombing bass drops, the band was on point.

About Soilwork I can say one thing: they are better live than on record, which was clear from the start, as they got the’s crowd attention within seconds. Dave and Sylvain’s guitars wove an amazing mesh of riffs that match perfectly with Sven’s keyboards. On the other side, Bjorn’s vocals are the power behind every moshpit. As the night was getting closer to the end, the venue was already boiling and getting really crowded, so the band had plenty to work with. Soilwork is all about power and energy and they managed to give us a great collection of old and new songs from the treasure trove that is the band’s back catalogue. Also, the chemistry between those up onstage and those in the audience is very real and pretty catchy. No matter how much you’ll try to get over and focus on something else, you’ll fail. The show was a full-speed ride.  

After a short soundcheck and a session of equipment moving, Amorphis finally came on the stage. Well, not immediately, but after a short tease with the intro from „The Bee”. The tension was growing and the public became really impatient as we all were waiting for Tomi Joutsen to take over. The concert started exactly as the song goes, with a wave of power and energy. We got the chance to enjoy songs from “Queen of Time” as Wrong Direction or Message in the Amber, but also some old “trademark”Amorphis songs. Silver Bride brought a general emotional state in the audience while House of Sleep raised all of our voices (not only when Tomi passed the microphone). There are some particular things that make Amorphis really impressive in a… different way. Their music has lots of soul and feeling, so the shows are usually full rides through hell and heaven. The connection between the band and the audience is also fantastic and you always get this feeling of “intimacy”. Also, their live performance is so close to the recorded version, it hurts, no matter the venue or the location. This is a plus that makes every show more than a live experience. You resonate with the band, being on stage, you can see them, you can feel them (because the guys are very expressive and intense while they play)  but also get covered in emotions as you hear live what you’re used to hearing in your earphones, ‘cause that’s where the journey of a fan usually begins.

Regarding the organization, can’t really complain about much. The venue was properly heated, the entrance had decent traffic so people didn’t have to stay in cold too much. The bars were, as usual, always busy, with long lines, so maybe some more people on that area next time. Also, the merch stand was pretty impressive, with a wide range of possibilities (Amorphis and Jinger had some really nice t-shirt designs). Other than that, the sound and the lights were flawless. Congratulations to the engineers and everyone who made this happen. We’re off to a good year!

DEVIN TOWNSEND announces new album ‘Empath’

Canadian heavy music artist Devin Townsend has officially announced the release of his forthcoming new album ‘EMPATH’ for the 29th March 2019.

In the lead up to the album’s release, Devin will walk fans through how ‘EMPATH’ came together with a series of documentary episodes recorded as phone conversations during the course of the albums recording. Watch him explain more in this video: https://youtu.be/lZBcGuM_UpE

Devin comments: “Hello everybody, this is Devin Townsend and I would like to formally announce that after almost a year and a half of working, I have finished ‘EMPATH’. Now this record has taken me down a lot of very interesting psychological and technical avenues and the process was documented from the very get-go by a series of documentary videos that I have done, that outline everything from the gestation of the idea to the actualisation of it, through all the existential ups and downs that went on. As such this record is different to any record that I have released thus far, and trying to get people on board for what it is versus what it isn’t, I think needs to be dealt with in a different way.
Stay tuned for the making of ‘EMPATH’ – the video series.

Over the past few years, the success that Devin has slowly worked for has fortunately come with the power to control his own creative destiny. The recent successes with the DVD from a sold-out Royal Albert hall, or his 2012 ‘Retinal Circus’, or last year’s ‘Ocean Machine’ live DVD with the Orchestra and Choir of State Opera Plovdiv has put him in a position where with the new album ‘EMPATH’, he will once and for all define himself as a musical force outside of any particular genre classification.

On this album Devin has decided to see what would happen if all the styles that make up his current interests were finally represented in one place. To finally shake the fear of expectation, and just do what it is he was meant to do creatively, ‘EMPATH’, true to the name, is about allowing the audience a feeling for a variety of musical emotions. The musical dynamics represented on this single album are broad, challenging, and immense. To approach this sort of work with a long history of what makes heavy music ‘heavy’, allows this to be done with a type of power rarely heard.

Joining Devin on this album is Frank Zappa alumni Mike Keneally as music director, as well as Morgan Ågren (Mats And Morgan, Frank Zappa, Fredrik Thordendal), Anup Sastry (Monuments, Periphery), Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Williams), Nathan NavarroElliot DesagnesSteve VaiChad KroegerAnneke Van GiersbergenChé Aimee DorvalRyan Dhale and the Elektra Women’s Choir.

A bold statement with massive production values and dynamic, uncompromised musicality. This is a statement about not only pursuing creative freedom in a conservative scene, but also trying to show that heavy music is truly a valid musical tool.

‘EMPATH’ will be released on Limited 2 CD Digipak (including an entire disc of bonus material), Standard CD Jewelcase, Gatefold 180G 2LP Vinyl + CD + LP-booklet & as digital album. The full track-listing is as follows:
 1. Castaway
2. Genesis
3. Spirits Will Collide
4. Evermore
5. Sprite
6. Hear Me
7. Why
8. Borderlands
9. Requiem
10. Singularity Part 1 – Adrift
11. Singularity Part 2 – I Am I
12. Singularity Part 3 – There Be Monsters
13. Singularity Part 4 – Curious Gods
14. Singularity Part 5 – Silicon Scientists
15. Singularity Part 6 – Here Comes The Sun
Last year Devin announced a special ‘An Evening With’ tour that would see him performing acoustically, as well as taking part in a fan Q&A at each show.

The full list of dates are as follows, many of which are already sold out:

7th March – The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi, India SOLD OUT
8th March – Levi’s Lounge, Mumbai, India SOLD OUT
29th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
30th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
31st March – Sodra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden SOLD OUT
1st April – Edderkoppen, Oslo, Norway SOLD OUT
2nd April – Bremen Theater, Copenhagen, Denmark
4th April – PassionKirchhe, Berlin, Germany
5th April – Stodola, Warsaw, Poland
6th April – La Fabrica, Prague, Czech Republic SOLD OUT
7th April – Freiheiz, Munich, Germany SOLD OUT
9th April – Kulturkirche, Cologne, Germany SOLD OUT
10th April – Grunspan, Hamburg, Germany
11th April – Bravo Kerk, Haarlem, Netherlands SOLD OUT
13th April – Reading 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
24th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
25th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
26th April – St George’s, Bristol, UK SOLD OUT
27th April – City Varieties, Leeds, UK SOLD OUT
29th April – Jam House, Edinburgh, UK SOLD OUT
30th April – Glee Club, Birmingham, UK SOLD OUT

Remaining tickets can be found here: https://bnds.us/hotp9q

Devin’s varied back catalogue is also being celebrated with lavish vinyl box-sets under the name of ERAS. Having already released parts 1 and 2 earlier in early 2018, the end of the year saw the release of part 3, which features some of his most recent work with Devin Townsend Project, including the albums ‘Accelerated Evolution’, ‘Epicloud’, ‘Sky Blue’, ‘Transcendence’ & the first ever vinyl release of the second part of the DTP’s now legendary Royal Albert Hall show. Order your copy of this deluxe 10 LP box-set here: https://devintownsendproject.lnk.to/ErasIII


DEVIN TOWNSEND explains more about his upcoming album “EMPATH”

Nightwish and Beast in Black take over Milan

After a couple of years of waiting, Nightwish eventually came back to Italy with their ‘Decades World Tour’, a show which the Italian fans awaited for longer than a year and that would not leave the public disappointed.

Perfectly in time with the announced schedule, Nightwish’s guest of honour for the night, Beast in Black, walked on stage. The power metal band didn’t hold anything back and managed to have the first rows dance and jump from the very first songs. Their setlist included classics such as “Eternal Fire” and heart-wrecking ballads (“Ghost in the Rain”), which was followed by a surprising, extremely fun and aesthetically innovative performance of the “craziest song [they] have ever written”, “Crazy, Mad Insane”: an unexpected chorepgraphy and led-sun glasses amused the audience. The band also performed the single “Blind and Forzen”, after which the lead singer invited everyone present to watch the new music video; he also announced the upcoming leading-tour which will kick off from Europe in the near future.

Once the opening act walked off stage among the crowd’s cheers, it soon was time for Nightwish. The screen showed a polite request not to use phones, in order to better enjoy the band’s road trip through memories. Troy was the first to appear and soon the rest of the members were visible as well. They wasted no time and started off in big style with fire, smoke and the exciting triplet “Dark Chest of Wonders”, “Wish I had an Angel” and a gem, “10th Man Down”: the public received the delivery so well that Floor had to note that it was the greatest start so far. The show continued with songs from the last album mixed with more or less played tracks from earlier records, including a mgistral cover of “Elvenjig”, fittingly followed by “Elvenpath”. Each performance was accompained by amazing and breathtaking artworks that included wolves and winterscapes, fireworks and smoke, which made the atmosphere (quite literally) hot and impossible to predict. Unexpectedly, “The Carpenter” and “The Devil and the Dark Deep Ocean” were played too, the latter one introduced as a twisted “love story”. In the meantime, in the background the audience could occasionally see Tuomas and Floor gleefully sipping wine. The ever-present “Nemo” didn’t miss its opportunity to have everyone dance and scream, and in general the fans were having a visibly great time, there was obviously a lot of jumping and moving, so much that at some point during the show a member of the audience felt sick and needed to be carried out by paramedics. Floor was clearly distressed but still managed to hold the stage with class and natural talent: she took the chance to thank the Italian fanclub (Nightwishers Italian Official Fanclub) for the gift received during the meet and greet: a very peculiar one indeed, considering that the band was given a star named after them. The members expressed their gratitude and once the singer made sure that the sick person was doing better, the gig took off from where it left. During the whole performance no fire, head nor fumes were spared, and during “Ghost Love Score” a moving sea of orange and reddish confetti was added, leaving everyone in awe, a final parting goodbye that left everyone present quite emotional.


            After the show Floor and Troy stopped by to say thank you and greet some fans, confirming that the band too had a great time during the evening. Needless to say, Italy seems to be ready to welcome them again anytime soon, to say once again “we were here”.

Review by Michela Sereni


Interview: Max Ater

Born and raised on the coast of Southern Maine, 25 year-old pop/country phenomenon Max Ater has quickly taken New England by storm with his powerful voice and lyrics. No stranger to the stage, Max spent his teenage years honing his skills at open mics, community theatre, and at fairs and festivals throughout the state. In 2012, he gained state-wide attention for his performance at “Maine’s Got Talent!” scoring first place with an original song. With the support of friends and family, Max took his original music throughout New England and quickly built a loyal fanbase. In 2013, he released a self-produced EP Up ‘Till Now, debuting his talents not only as a songwriter but for production as well. A few years later, Max was grand champion of Maine’s Soundoff 2016 competition.

Teen Art Out: Before anything else, we would like to know how it all began for you.  What turned you to music in the first place?

Max Ater: I turned toward music in high school after finding a knack for producing music on my computer. I’d always loved writing so when I found my voice, I put the two together and quickly found a real passion for the craft. A couple years later, I started to perform my music at open mics around Maine and then fairs and festivals. I realized fast that performing live was a rush I really wanted to chase.

Teen Art Out: Does your new EP Small Town have a recurring theme? Is there a planned connection between the songs?

Max Ater: There wasn’t any planned connection between the songs but throughout the process of writing this record, I definitely started to hear a story emerge. Each track draws from elements of my life here in Maine and I think that naturally ties this record together.


Teen Art Out: Is there any artist with whose lyrics/music you can relate and who also inspired you?

Max Ater: Working on this new record turned me towards some really great artists that not only inspired this latest EP but I know will to continue to impact me. Artists like Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban, both of whom write and record a really unique mix of Pop and Country. I spent a lot of time over the past two years studying their style and choices. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with the writing style of John Mayer and his ability to take really big ideas and break them down into incredible tunes. That’s a challenge! Very recently, I’ve been deeply moved by the music of David Gray.

Teen Art Out: You are creating a really nice combination of pop and country music. What builds the country part? Is it your own instrumental composition?

Max Ater: I spent a lot of time with Karl Anderson, the producer of this record, simply talking about how we wanted to approach the production of these tracks. The initial demos lacked any solid country vibe and that was on purpose because we wanted to build around a foundation of pop. My focus was on discovering the melodies, usually early on behind the piano. The country vibe is due in large part to the live drums that session drummer Jason Hartless tracked. He brought liveliness into the production that balanced the heavier elements of pop.

Teen Art Out: In what way did your hometown inspire you? It seems to be one of the “main character” of your current music and upcoming EP.

Max Ater: Imagery is essential to me as a songwriter. Every song I write has a setting, however disconnected from the final lyrics, that I always come back to for inspiration. To be honest, I don’t fully understand why my mind chooses the setting it does sometimes but it ends up being a powerful lyrical palette. My hometown of Bath, Maine is perfect for this. It spans the spectrum of rural and urban living and of course, the people are a beautiful inspiration as well! At the same time, I’ve never thought of being inspired by Bath as a choice for me. I was born and raised here.

S02 5x5.125 Sleeve

Teen Art Out: What do you have in mind when writing the lyrics for your songs? What is the main purpose you want to achieve?

Max Ater: My goal has always been to find that balance between lyrics I truly connect with and lyrics that connect with others. Taking big ideas and sifting out their most relatable form is what songwriting is all about for me. There’s no other feeling in the world quite like finding the right words and being able to share them through music.

Teen Art Out: On another note, would you ever consider writing for someone else?

Max Ater: I’ve considered it, but have yet to have the opportunity to do so. If the chance arose, I’d be more than happy to give it a try.

Teen Art Out: Which do you think would be the challenges that this would imply?

Max Ater: I think it’d be a matter of confidence. Writing lyrics is a deeply personal experience for me and learning how to open up like that for another artist would be a challenge but I suspect a very fulfilling one.

Teen Art Out: Is there any song that you wrote just to let your emotions out and which is so personal that it won’t see the public light?

Max Ater: Of course! I have tunes that would seem absolutely strange to others but they helped me process and recover from tough times along the way.

Teen Art Out: If you could use only one instrument for a song without changing your musical style, which one would it be?

Max Ater: It would have to be piano! I’ve written a majority of my tunes behind the keys. I think it offers the widest array of possibilities for me when it comes to capturing my style of music.

Teen Art Out: Should you describe music in three emotions, which would those be?

Max Ater: Hopeful, Powerful, Heartfelt

Leprous, Agent Fresco, and 22 in Bucharest – Review

We all know why we gathered on 6th September in the lovely Quantic Pub, on a warm autumn evening. To witness the expression of art in its best progressive form. To forget about everything that upsets us and enjoy the beauty of three amazing bands. To remember that even if the summer is gone, we still have places to be and people to see. As some would say, just a regular night with Leprous, Agent Fresco and 22.  The show started according to schedule, with a modest audience. I knew nothing about 22 before the show. I actually found out they are going to play one day before. A prog-rock band from Norway which turned out to be a big influence in both Leprous and Agent Fresco’s careers. They define their own music style as an eclectic, energetic and stadium-appealing progressive rock outfit, which I can’t really speak against. Unfortunately, they only played for half an hour or so, but they killed it! So much energy, so many positive vibes and such a good and clean sound. It’s easy to tell the similarities between these three bands, as 22 made a perfect introduction to what was there to come.  As a personal opinion, I think they got less audience than they deserved. I did come with some expectations regarding Agent Fresco. I discovered this band by accident while listening to some Leprous and immediately fell in love with them. Their music is both complex, being a mix of many genres, and cinematic with a hint of soul and many „math moments”. On stage, everything sounded even better. Arnor’s voice is just impressive and clean.  The atmosphere was surreal, as their music is straight genius. We all got to enjoy both famous songs as Dark Waters and Pyre and other less know, like See Hell and The Eyes of a Cloud Catcher. As the songs kept coming, the volume of the people inside the venue increased. There is something about Agent Fresco, almost magical, that sends good vibes and makes you feel confident, but not like moving a mountain confident,  just „life is short, enjoy it” confident.  It is definitely a band I am eager to see again and if you don’t know about them, listen to them and buy their work cause its worth it. Leprous is a band that doesn’t need any introduction anymore. A band that grew in a few years more than others did in decades, and became, easily, one of the most influential progressive metal bands. Their approach of the genre is one of a kind, psychedelic, with heavy drums, both distortion and clean sounds on guitars, melodic piano parts, and Einar’s incredible voice.  On 6th September, they came, they saw and they conquered our hearts. As I said many times before, one just can’t have enough of this band or their music. Every show is a journey, every song is a rollercoaster of emotions, states of mind, thoughts, and feelings. This journey started with a beautiful cello intro, followed by „Bonneville”, the first track from „Malina”. It’s a bit funny but still impressive to see how the audience reacts to Leprous concerts. It the beginning, everyone has a „hit me with your best show” face and they slowly grow to be speechless, gazing with big eyes, singing every word, pouring love and respect, as the band goes through many stages and songs. On stage, things stay the same, as the guys are chill and quiet in the first moments, then they lose their minds and everything turns into a live piece of art. One hour and a half passed like five minutes for me. The transitions from the older songs like „The Flood” to “From the Flame”  shows us the band’s ability to pass from heavier metal sound to a song with more of a sensitive note, making the whole show flow like a wave. You know it’s gonna disappear but you always hope it will come back. I think the best you can achieve, as a band, is when your music goes deeper than the hearing. When you feel it in your bones when Einar’s voice is sending chills down your spine when Simen’s bass rhythm vibrates through your whole body and Baard’s drums follow the heart beats. You can clearly see how every member of the band gives 101% up there, enjoying and working at the same time.   Because we were such a good audience and the first SOLD OUT show from the tour, the band spoiled us with “Angel”,  a Massive Attack song.  As everything comes to an end, so does their journey, when the sound gets more serein but still imposing and everyone gets sad because they know it’s coming. Besides the great music, we got to see some very cool video projections and a nice „light-show” that completed the concert, along the way.   The guys played both songs from their latest material and some old songs, for the old Leprous fans. It was a show to remember and definitely one to repeat. For everyone out there that is a Leprous fan and did not get the chance to see them, wait no minute longer! It’s a must! As a gift for us, after the show, all the bands came for a small talk, some pictures, some autographs, and many smiles. Big congrats to the sound team, because they did a great job, as always. Another thing that made me happy was the merchandise area which had various goodies and many clients. I really enjoyed the organizing part, as the concert had a very friendly vibe with no golden circle pits, no excessive rules and so on.      

Interview: Jason Hartless

You have started playing and touring at a very early age. How do you now look back to that time?

I was very lucky to have parents that were very supportive and a father that understood the business and guided me into the direction to get me where I am today. It’s really crazy to look back and to think I was only 14 years old when I toured for 3 months opening for Motley Crue; but I got my feet wet with touring very early that it has allowed me to walk into many gig and touring situations without having to audition.

You have attended music classes at Berklee College of Music. How do you see the need for formal education in the music industry?

I am a Music Business major and I feel that it is extremely to have the proper education in an industry that is as fast paced as the music industry. In the age of DIY musicians try to compete with each other, the artists that are making money are artists that have industry professionals behind their career knowing the ins and outs of the whole machine that is the music industry. So learning the real tricks of the trade helps me build my career in other aspects of the industry.

How scary a moment was to decide to become a full-time musician? Were there people around you discouraging you?

I started messing around on my dad’s drums when I was about 6 months old; once I was about 3 years old, I really began to play the full kit and jamming with musician friends of my dad’s. By the time I was 5 years old, I began to play professionally around Detroit doing cover gigs and really found a love for the instrument. I really began touring North America around the age of 12, its funny because I have been playing music my whole life, so I never really even thought about it as a job; I really didn’t even realize that this was my career until I had been doing it professionally for a long time hahahaha.

What are some of the best drum songs out there?

Hmmmm That’s a hard one, each song created has such a different vibe and groove that it is very hard to pick the best parts.

Being a session musician, you have been involved in a lot of diverse projects. Is there still some style you would love to experiment with but haven’t had the chance?

I am always listening and working on different styles that what happens is I get really into a certain style for a while and try to learn as much about that style as possible, and then move on to something different. After a while I end up revisiting a style and work on that more. So its always about getting better and learning new stuff.

You are also a managing partner of Prudential Music Group. Can music and business coexist, or do they take parts from each other?

Prudential Music Group is a music conglomerate that houses 2 record labels and a publishing company. We are very happy to be distributed through Sony RED/Orchard for many years. As a musician and as a business executive, it really helps allow me to look at the industry from both sides and really allows me to be as ethical as possible when working out deals between my company and artists because I understand the value of artists work. I have always been a fan of the commercial aspect of the industry and figuring out what music and product would appeal to the consumer because if there is no consumer appeal, there is no business.

With Rouge Records, you are re-releasing vinyls. In an industry many claim to be dying, why go into record and vinyl sales?

Well the vinyl industry has been growing each year; vinyl sales were up 19% the first and second quarter in 2018, so the consumer want is increasing. Vinyl is really the only physical format that is really selling these days and I believe it is a combo of people from 40-60 years old that want to relive the joys of rebuilding their vinyl collection, plus the millennial generation wanting have a more kinesthetic experience listening to music. Plus, in the age of streaming, we are able to generate revenue quite easily due to the prices that vinyl is at these days, however the downside is manufacturing costs are very high. The big plus doing in the vinyl industry, we are headquartered in Detroit, MI, which Jack White just opened Third Man Pressing in the heart of downtown, so we partnered with them to press all of our vinyl.

If we look at big rock festivals, particularly in Europe, the headliners are the same as 10 or 20 years ago. It would seem that there are not that many younger bands able to “rival” the greats. What do you personally make of that? 

The biggest issue that I see these days is the oversaturation of the number of bands; plus, the amount of DIY bands that think that they are “make it” by putting their music on iTunes. It is very strange because I have been having this same discussion with a lot of colleagues lately. As you pointed out, when you take a look at the bands headlining festivals, arenas, theatres, stadiums and amphitheatres, most of those bands were headlining in the 70s and 80s; other than a few newer country and pop artists. Looking ahead 10-15 years, most of those 70s and 80s bands will be retired, so the real interesting questions are, “who will be filling 2,500+ cap rooms in 2030?” “Will there be enough artists that can keep some of these venues open?”. It will be a very interesting topic that will become more relevant as soon as more artists retire.

You have also been involved in educational videos and school programs. What would you say makes a good teacher, particularly a good music teacher?

A great music teacher exposes students to different musicians, different styles and different music. I approach my teaching to really teach the student work ethic; I don’t hold hands and will call a student out as soon as they play something wrong. It might sound harsh, but really a job as a teacher is to give them the info, let them give the info a try, and then tell them when the info is wrong. This very much how my teacher of many years, George Dunn, taught me. It teaches musicians to think on their own, and when you hold hands in a lesson, the student doesn’t get to fail and learn from their mistakes.

When you step outside the studio or concert hall, what are your favourite things to do?

I am a huge hockey nut. So, I am always at Detroit Red Wings’ games when I am home from the road.