I was first introduced to Russell Brand on the television when he hosted an MTV awards show (I don’t recall which one it was or the year). I took an immediate liking to this funny British man with the crazy hair. I had definitely never encountered anyone like him before.
Through the years I’d catch some of his interviews and found him to be such a prolific speaker who actually had really great ideas and insight into himself. More recently I have been watching his YouTube channel and while he is supremely entertaining, handsome, and charming, he also has such a deep humanity about him and cares about the world and the people in it.
When I heard that Brand would be in Brooklyn talking about and signing his new book, titled Recovery, I didn’t hesitate to purchase the tickets (one for my daughter as well). You always think you can have a real sense of a person by who you think they are but here was our chance to get a closer look.
The book signing was held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Although this is about two hours from where we live we thought it would be worthwhile to make the trip. It turned out to be absolutely worth it. Being the super animated person that he is, there wasn’t a dull moment even though the subject matter of his book is very serious. Brand took questions from the audience and he very thoughtfully answered each one.
As he was getting low on time they decided that he could answer some questions while he was signing books. He was there well after the scheduled time and when he spoke with some very distraught people we noticed that he told them to wait until after the event and he would spend some time talking to them. How many people would actually take the time to do that? Not only does he put in so much work for his own self development but he shares the knowledge and tools that he has gained over his lifetime to help others. If only more of us could be that selfless. I can’t wait to start reading!
Musician, actor, and best-selling author Rick Springfield has recorded his 18th studio album titled Rocket Science. His latest work delivers a familiar pop-rock feel with the addition of some country elements mixed in. Rocket Science will be released on February 19th and is available for pre-order now. During a recent visit to his native Australia, Springfield generously agreed to answer some questions about his home recording studio, creativity and inspiration, tour plans, white-shark cage diving, and more.
Kimberley Nolder: Regarding your home studio, the Black Lagoon (love that name), do you ever have a hard time being creative close to your “home” environment (household responsibilities, etc.) or is it a kind of sanctuary for you?
Rick Springfield: Since most of songs are written at home it feels very normal to continue the process in the studio at home. Plus, when I’m done late at night and can go to bed without having to drive home first, THAT is cool. The studio is also where my great dog Gomer used to go and hide on the 4th of July so he couldn’t hear all the fireworks, so yes, it is a sanctuary.
KN: Do you feel more creative when you are touring or traveling? Are you inspired by new places and experiences?
RS: Yes, definitely, but when it comes to songs I usually wait to get home before the ideas coalesce. Writing prose is easier on the road thanks to the mighty and highly addictive computer laptop thingy.
KN: Is it hard for you to take a break, or go on a vacation, without feeling like you need to write a new song or work on a book? You seem to be a very driven guy.
RS: Yes, I wrote about that in the liner notes (yes liner notes) of the new CD Rocket Science. I was away on a rare vacation in Tahiti and couldn’t really relax ’til I’d written something which I did (“Light This Party Up” is on the new CD) Its hard for me to just sit still and do nothing. That’s where wine comes in 🙂
KN: In your career, is there something more that you want to accomplish even if it is on a path other than music? Will you continue to write books?
RS: Yes I am working on other writing projects. It’s a great way to use free time like plane rides, car rides, hotel stays and vacations in Tahiti. And yes, there are paths other than music although I’ll probably never give up on songwriting. It’s a natural thing that I gravitate towards.
KN: Will the sequel to “Magnificent Vibration” be out soon?
RS: Hahaha. I don’t know. I’m into it but have hit the rewrite process, as well as doing other things, so I guess it’ll be ready when its ready. I’m always thinking about it so in a way I am always working on it. I think that’s the enjoyable thing about writing. You can do it in your head while your reading other stuff or even sleeping.
KN: Since moving to the United States and realizing so many of your dreams, hit records, best-selling books, star on the Walk of Fame, etc., did the U.S. turn out to be all you thought it would when you were younger? Were certain things much more difficult than you anticipated?
RS: Everything was more difficult than I thought. But the States is everything and more than I thought. My life is here, my family, my friends, and my work. When I came I wasn’t sure how long the stay would be. Have I overstayed my welcome? Let me know.
KN: Do you look forward to the fan getaway as a true vacation or is it more work than vacation (or a little bit of both)?
RS: No it’s not a vacation but it is more fun than doing regular gigs. But I’m on and working 24/7 and although it’s very relaxed and free form there are still moments when I would love to just lie down and sleep. But that comes after the 5 days. It is pretty unique in what it is. It is a complete fan experience where I hang with everyone for the whole 5 days and nights. Different shows, surprises, guests and of course my buddy Doug Davidson who keeps everyone in hysterics!!
KN: Rocket Science hasn’t even become available yet but it already has some great fan reviews for the songs you have played on tour and were pre-released. Are you happy with the preliminary feedback so far?
RS: I am. I love that fans are still interested in new music from me. I love writing and its great to get positive feedback because I’m basically an insecure ball of negative emotions and self-doubt. SO it helps 🙂
KN: Are you planning a tour to promote Rocket Science? Will you try to tour Australia any time soon?
RS: Yes, we are hitting the road in February when it’s released. I’m actually answering these questions from Australia and am an hour away from meeting my new agent rep here in Oz. Hopefully it will go well.
KN: And finally, have you gone white-shark cage diving yet?
RS: No, but I will, I will, I will. I just haven’t found the time or a buddy who has the balls to go with me. It’s supposed to be a pretty hairy ride 🙂
The following interview originally appeared in the Examiner in June 2012.
As an actress, writer, voice-over artist, and comedian, Sykes is well known for her movie roles in Monster-in-Law, Over the Hedge, and Ice Age 4.
No stranger to television, Sykes remembers her great chemistry with the cast of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Although a writer herself, Sykes said that she did not contribute to the writing on that show but the writers were great. This show can still be seen on demand where available.
A mother to twin 3 year-olds, a boy and a girl, Sykes has a plethora of new material due to her busy household. Juggling work schedules with her wife, Sykes is able to enjoy the flexibility that her career sometimes demands and can still travel to Los Angeles when needed. Her children are already seasoned travelers. Having children at the toddler stage, Sykes says that there is nothing that is off-limits and that they are at an age where anything they can get into they consider their property. Sykes says her little girl is always chattering away and is a handful. Sykes laughs as she says they are “paying off” as they provide her with new material to work with.
Sykes attended college and graduated with a degree in Marketing. While working for the National Security Agency, she decided that it wasn’t something she could see herself doing long-term. Taking the initiative, Sykes decided to write some jokes and try stand-up one night. Once she got some laughs she knew that was the new path she wanted to take.
Going back to stand-up is like going home, Sykes says. It’s where it all started for her. When asked if she had any advice for those who want to be in entertainment or try a new career, Sykes said that as for her, she just had to try. She just wrote some material and gave it a shot, and added, not every night was great but when you stick with it you will get better and better.
For more information on Wanda and her current tour schedule go to the Wanda Sykes web site. Check out the Borgata web site for more events.
The following review originally appeared in the Examiner on May 20, 2014.
There are practically no words to describe Barry Gibb’s show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last night. Barry has taken on his first solo tour with the grace, humility, and never-ending talent that only one who is called a true legend can embody. Although his brothers Andy, Maurice, and Robin were only there in spirit, the vision they all shared came to life in the arena. With legions of fans that would follow him to the ends of the earth, Barry Gibb has remained the most humble and grateful of men.
To say the concert was amazing or incredible would not do it justice. Fans from all over the world traveled to see the man whose music has impacted their lives in some way. They truly felt like they were getting an opportunity to fulfill their dream while watching Barry live his. Choosing songs for his show from his vast catalogue must have been a daunting task. Barry’s career has spanned so many years and there are so many hits to choose from.
Although their time as a group has passed, the Bee Gees were celebrated like never before with pictures and videos displayed throughout the evening. Barry’s son Stephen and Maurice’s daughter Samantha shared the stage and hooked the audience with their own talent. The band and background singers were so in tune with each other that it felt like they have been playing together all of their lives.
The Gibb family has shown the world that although life can change unexpectedly there is always an opportunity to harness the memories and love and to continue living the dream the brothers once shared.
The Barry Gibb Mythology tour is not one to be missed!
Congratulations to Graham and Russell on making beautiful music together for 40 years!
The following interview originally appeared in IMPress magazine in April 2012.
Given the unpredictability of everything that is involved for a touring rock band, such as tight schedules, crossing time zones, plane changes, and lost luggage, what are the chances of obtaining a quick interview on the rare occasion one legendary singer is at home? Well, if you are part of the machine that is Air Supply, the chances of this happening are very good. Russell Hitchcock joined me for a phone call to answer questions about international audiences, social media, and what’s on his bucket list.
Just back from a whirlwind tour of South America, Hitchcock commented that audiences varied from country to country. He said that all audiences are not created equal. He noted, “All over Latin America they are probably more emotional than anywhere else in the world. They are lot more vocal about singing along and getting into it, and kind of wearing their hearts on their sleeves a bit more.”
For musicians who are on the road for the best part of the year, it may seem inconsequential where their family is based as they are always traveling anyway. As for Hitchcock, he still makes time for his family. When asked if he still had relatives in Australia, Hitchcock replied, “I do, I have my sister and her husband live there, I have two nephews there, and my son lives there as well.” Russell had a chance to visit them for Christmas year before last when they played some shows in Australia.” He added, “I am celebrating my Birthday in June and my sister and her husband are coming to Hawaii to vacation with us for a few days.”
When asked if fans would ever hear a remixed dance version of any of their ballads, a question Hitchcock’s own daughter also posed, he stated that it just wasn’t in the current plan. Aside from touring and having just released some new singles, they are also working on putting out a DVD of their Jerusalem show.
Although the Internet can be a little invasive for entertainers who already share so much of themselves, Air Supply has over half a million fans relying on social media to keep up and interact with their British and Australian imports. Hitchcock regularly uses his iPhone to take personal photos and upload them to the band’s Facebook page.
For someone who has been all over the world, one thing still remains on Hitchcock’s bucket list, he stated “Going to and performing in Russia. I’d love to get my picture taken in Red Square.”
For a career that spans 37 years, one would wonder how an artist could maintain such a signature voice after all this time. Hitchcock says, “I try to rest my voice in between shows. I try to get as much sleep as I can. It’s really important these days, for both Graham and myself, because we have been around a long time. You just got to take care of yourself as best as you can. We try to eat as well as we can on the road. I think it is a big help that I’ve never smoked.” Hitchcock says that it is their responsibility to be the best they can be on stage as people spend good money to attend shows.
One of Air Supply’s staple venues includes casinos throughout the world. Given their heavy tour schedule, it would seem that performing at the same place where they can also sleep and eat can at least provide temporary respite from a lot of extra shuttling back and forth.
Many of the venues where their concerts are held are vacation destinations in and of themselves. Out of town fans can attend a concert while having the option to stay at the same place the concert is held. Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, which has a roaring 20’s vibe, is a shore destination on the Atlantic Ocean, where they will be returning this summer. More recently, on a summer-like day in Canada, Air Supply played the beautiful Avalon Theater at the new Fallsview Casino Resort, which overlooks Niagara Falls. For those fans in the United States, traveling to another country for a show can be as easy as grabbing your passport and hopping on a train.
On the rare occasion when Air Supply is not touring and Russell has time for a home-cooked meal, he enjoys an Italian dish that his girlfriend prepares for him, or some New Zealand white wine that he is currently into.
Visit the Air Supply web site for more information.