Backstage Winnipeg Interviews May - June06

Interview with JD Era

By Cindy Massey

Toronto – Soul Clap Records in partnership with The Product Management will formally introduce veteran battle star JD Era to the mainstream music world

Clever lyricist JD Era plans to break down poetic borders in the hip

Hop music scene. His Mixtapes are just a taste of what's to come from the talented young artist. They include two previously released tracks "Ride Clean", a funky club track that has hit Toronto’s airwaves and sound systems in clubs across North America "The One" and "Take Me Home", which is presently heating up airwaves both in the U.S. and the U.K.

This is one artist you don't want to sleep on. With effortless

Showmanship, JD Era guarantee's a flawless performance. He has earned his respect from the grassroots, performing in underground battles for years.

BSW: How do you feel about the hip hop scene in general?

- I think the hip hop scene in Canada is looking real promising right now. I think right now we have more talent then we’ve ever had before, and people are starting to take it upon themselves to make their careers successful.

BSW: What can we expect from you, what kind of message are you trying to bring?

- With each of my mix tapes, I’ve tried to give people a little of my personality, and some content that I thought they could relate to. The album is gonna be nothing different. I just want people to have a good time when listening to the music and to get a sense of who I am, and where I’m from. I’m a take it to the next level with the album, but people can still expect the same Era.

BSW: How do you feel you will change the history on Rap?

- Right now changing the history of rap is the last thing on my mind. I’m at a point where I’d be satisfied to even be considered a significant part of rap history. Let’s get money and have fun doing it!

BSW: Where were you born?

-I was born out in Scarborough, but raised in Mississauga. So I got the best of both ends. I rep the whole city though.

BSW: What can you tell us about your musical influences?

- I’m influenced by any and every type of music. As of late it’s been stuff like old Jimmy Hendrix and Gnarles Barkley. Some real different shit. I try to let my inspiration come from non hip hop music.

BSW: When can we see you playing Winnipeg?

- When I’m finally invited to a proper event! No bullshit! Promoters feel free to get at me through the website I think its time I come and shut Winnipeg down! The live show gets ridiculous!

BSW: How do you come up with what songs you’ll use in your raps?

- Most of my tracks come from the everyday things that are happening in my life. I’m like every other male I know my age. I love money, I love women, and I love looking fly!

BSW: Describe your most memorable on stage moment to date?

- That’s a tough one… I’d have to say performing at the Nike Battlegrounds tournament last summer with a live band, or even winning the freestyle competition at Eckofest. Both were huge for my career and I got love like crazy after each. Last summer’s gonna be a hard summer to top.

BSW: If you could change one thing about the Rap scene what would it be?

- It would definitely either be the love that they show within Canada, or how people hustle in Canada.

Everyone’s waiting on a video fact handout. It’s time to make shit happen on our own.

BSW: Is there any other words that you would like to give our readers about your project?

- Vol.1 was the warm up, Vol.2 is the re-up, available now at, and the album is going to change the respect level for Canadian urban artists! It’s time for a change and I think I’m the man to do it. Buy My Shit. Black Market from the am to the pm!

BSW: Thank you for the interview, I look forward to seeing you someday.

- No, thank you.

Interview with


By Cindy Massey

Mike Rosenthal – Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals

Bret Meanie – Lead Guitar, Backup Vocals

Nick Stagnaro –Rhythm Guitar, Backup Vocals

Alan Vega –Drums, Backup Vocals

History & Propaganda:

Eight Fingers Down was started by Bret and Mike in 2001. After a few lineup changes EFD was blessed with the addition of Alan (2004) and Nick (2005). EFD is a staple in what is know as having the “Valley Sound.” What the basically means is that during its prime, the San Fernando Valley had a huge underground scene, and EFD was a big part of that. Think Seattle. A few years ago a lot of bands started to fall apart, except Eight Fingers Down. Now the scene is back on the rise, and instead of being apart of it, they are now considered the forefathers of it.

EFD’s sound is that of the early 90’s punk movement. They capture that moment-in-time, and that “So-Cal” sound that was so big. It is said they sound like Face To Face meets NOFX, but with their own unique twist. However you want to label them, after listening to the CD or seeing them live, you will usually walk away humming a song or two.

In EFD’s short history, they have accomplished a significant amount of things. They’ve released 2 full-length CD’s, 1 EP, been on a half a dozen comps, booked 7 national tours, and has been a part of the Warped Tour family for a few years. It’s easy to say that this band is a hard working group of individuals who manage to be more and more successful every year.

BSW: What can you tell us about the music scene where you are?

BM: There are a lot of bands. It’s a pretty cool scene.

AV: I think there are too many bands...The scene is watered down...It’s hard to find good bands...but they do exist.

MR: Well the scene is ever changing, when we started there were so many punk bands and as the scene changed so did the style of bands. We do however stay true to what we started.

NS: Too much tight pants and make-up on guys.

BSW: What is the best thing about your shows, what do you really get off on?

BM: The best part about playing is when the kids get into it. Whether they dance, cheer or just smile. We love it when kids come up to us telling us about the energy we put out.

AV: When I look into the crowd during the set and see "the look" on peoples faces...I can’t explain "the look" in one word...To me its joy, content, excitement, and amazement. It's like all their worries, fears, and the day to day bullshit they deal with in life is forgotten for that moment in time... That drives me to play my heart out no matter what I'm going through (sick, sad, tired or frustrated)

MR: Every show I just get on stage take a breath and blank. For me its a time when I can relax and not think about anything but rocking out, and that’s what I do rock out.

NS: Anytime, any place, anywhere it doesn't matter how many people are watching, we can bring it. The best part is when people come up and give a genuine comment about our performance whether its compliments or criticism it's all good.

BSW: What do you like about the music scene currently?

BM: Not much....

AV: I like the fact that there is room for change...

MR: The scene is very touchy kids tend to just go for one band and then leave for next I just hope that people will start to become more open minded. We are all in this together.

NS: That it is all set up for us to take it over.

BSW: Where were you all born?

BM: Los Angeles

AV: Panarama City, CA

MR: Tarzana, CA

NS: Fullerton, CA

BSW: What can you tell us about your musical influences?

BM: I was in to death metal when I was young. Nirvana came out and changed it all. They're the reason I got into punk. Face to Face and Sick Of It All are my biggest influences.

AV: My influences range from The Eagles to Blink 182. A tribe Called Quest to Alice in Chains...My parents always had the Oldies channel on when I was young. I think that also factors into my musical influences...

MR: I listen to everything from Journey to Alkaline Trio to Public Enemy. But my favorite is the 90's punk rock scene Face to Face, NUFAN, NOFX, Lagwagon.

NS: NOFX, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Dogwood, Craig's Brother, 88 Fingers Louie, Blindfold, Good as Gold, and The Dragouts just to name a few bands. I also like to listen to jazz and classical music.

BSW: When can we see you playing Winnipeg?

MR: Well we are playing all the Warped Tours so I am not sure how close that is but after this summer we are planning a Canadian tour

BSW: Describe your writing processes?

BM: Music first! A foundation is presented to the band and everyone puts in their ideas. After that, we work on melodies then lyrics.

AV: Bret usually will come with a song or a riff...I will listen to him play it, then we will jam it out...most of the time he will keep his ideas for the drums to himself until after he hears me play to it(you never know what I’m gonna come with)...Then we will collaborate on his ideas and mine...we are to the point where we don't even need to talk about it most of the time we just feel it. It's like we know what one another is thinking...I think that is a big part of how we get the sound we have...

MR: Someone brings a song to the table and we all put in our two cents...that’s what creates the

EFD sound

NS: I like to write down my thoughts in a journal.

BSW: Can each of you describe your most memorable on stage moments to date?

BM: The first time I graced a stage at Warped Tour.

MR: I think the most memorable was the aftermath signing autographs; it’s really all about the fans. If it weren't for the fans we wouldn't be where we are now.

NS: That would have to be on this "Lucky Numbers Tour" in Baltimore. The kids just totally went off there. It was such a great feeling for all of us.

BSW: What do you feel, is your band bringing to the world, what’s your message?

BM: We hope that people will get motivated to do what they want. A lot of our lyrics are about motivating yourself to change what you don’t like.

AV: Be real...Be who you wanna be...FUCK fake people...

MR: We are a band that will always stick to our guns. We started with a foundation of punk rock and for the past 5 years we believe that we kept it. We aren't a band that will "chase the scene" or do something because it’s hip. We do what we love and have fun doing. If we have any message, it’s that you are your own individual, so be yourself, get out there and live your dream.

NS: Were definitely bringing a lot of energy and a message that punk is not dead.

BSW: Is there any other words that you would like to give our readers about your project?

BM: Listen to our music and feel good. Watch us play and be satisfied.


NS: Life is way too short so make sure you are doing what YOU want with it.

MR: I will agree with Live Life to the Full St.

BSW: Thank you for the interview, I look forward to seeing you someday.

Interview with DEVILS FOOD

By Cindy Massey

Devil’s Food is: Rick Danks – vocals, John Massey – bass/backing vocals, Dan Reed – drums/fog machine, Hodgy – guitars/guitar synth/keys/backing vocals, Spot – guitars/backing vocals.

Something that sets this Cooper tribute apart from most is that instead of the band originating from a singer who had a likeness to Alice Cooper and wanted to create a tribute around himself the band was actually formed by the musicians and the singer was brought in last. Each member of DEVIL’S FOOD is an accomplished Seattle musician and the music is carefully dissected and recreated to be as accurate as possible utilizing current technology. The concept was not to be an exact replication of the original late 60’s/early 70’s band but to model their show after the current Cooper tours which do play all of the earlier hits but do so with modern amplification and a bit more energy. The namesake is played by Rick Danks who has taken the task of learning Alice’s mannerisms to a very personal level. Between the theatrics, accuracy of the music and high energy you could close your eyes and be lost in the possibility that you were actually at an Alice Cooper concert.

DEVIL’S FOOD has been steadily picking up momentum in the Washington state and is now setting their sights on tapping Oregon and California. Hit their website for more details and show dates.

BSW: Where were you all born?

(Dan) San Francisco Bay Area

(Spot) East Coast some place

(Johnny) Coca beach Florida

BSW: So why an Alice Cooper tribute?

(Johnny) “We love him - yes we love him” a little Devil’s Food humor…. shutting up.

(Spot) We just decided it would be fun to play nothing but Alice Cooper songs for our own selfish reasons. Our motto is fuck everybody but us. We don’t think about what will go over well live or what the audience wants to hear when we pick songs to start learning. We choose the ones we like and treat it more like the people watching us play are there for our amusement as well. We entertain them – they give us feedback – we ignore their feedback and continue to do whatever we feel like. Works great. Also, an Alice Cooper tribute is way more fun than most other tributes. I mean we have blow-up dolls, swords, make-up, costumes, confetti balloons, body parts strung out all across the stage, straight jackets, etc. You don’t get to play with all of those cool things doing a Simon and Garfunkel tribute. When was the last time you saw Paul Simon running across the stage with a bloody severed head? Exactly. Alice Cooper himself is a highly intelligent, well-rounded guy who writes clever lyrics (and he can hit the shit right out of a golf ball). He continues to surround himself with top-shelf musicians who write great songs and has one of the most visual stage shows in rock history.

BSW: What is the best thing about your shows, what do you really get off on?

(Dan) The reaction we get from playing some of the more obscure tunes people haven’t heard for years.

(Johnny) What Dan just said.

(Spot) I dig the cockiness and pretentiousness of the songs in general. It’s a fun to be up there pounding out tunes about hot nurses, giant spiders taking over the world, being cloned….. it transcends cheesiness, it’s just complete absurdity all the way around.

BSW: How does your show differ from an actual Alice Cooper concert?

(Spot) He obviously has more room the places he plays and has much cooler toys than we do. (Dan) Well, I haven’t seen him in 26 years, so unless we “Flush the Fashion”, we’re doing it the same.

(Johnny) …and the bass player is much sexier.

BSW: What is the weirdest question; each of you has been asked?

(Dan)”Why an Alice Cooper tribute?”

(Johnny)” Is that one of those no wire thingies?” in reference to my using a wireless system with my rig.

(Spot) A drunk dude at a show we played in Olympia cornered me after our set and among other things asked if we planned on learning Calling Dr. Love.

BSW: What do you think of the people/musicians that don’t take tribute bands as seriously?

(Johnny) There's a quote; opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. I can understand it, some would think that we can't write our own music so we just pick a popular band/Artist and just play their stuff, so we can party and get girls or just to think we are cool. Since we all have been in/or still are in bands that have had different levels of success it not about the girls or being cool, its all for the fun and personal enjoyment of playing the music of one of the all time greats.

(Spot) Currently tributes acts are right in the middle of the band food chain. Just below original acts and just above cover bands. Being in a tribute is harder in some ways than creating your own music and image because the benchmark has already been established for you. And face it, if a die-hard Cooper fan comes to see us then we better pull it off or they are going to let us know just how much we derogated their idol. We do take that part very seriously and try and deliver a very accurate show both theatrically and musically.

(Dan) Bah, it’s all rock n roll.

BSW: Can each share your most memorable stage moment? (Good or bad your choice)

(Dan) Good: Looking out from the backstage at 10,000 people, before going on stage (in my previous band – Opening for the Ramones)

(Spot) Good: Our first show, just finally getting to play live with these guys and finding out we had total chemistry was pretty cool. Bad: A motel room story with my previous band in Hollywood that I don’t have time to go in to right now.

BSW: What’s the music scene like where you are from?

(Dan) All over the board. Lots of Punk, Death Metal, Rap.

(Spot) Seattle has always been a hotbed for talent. The backlash from the early ‘90’s “grunge” signing heyday is still keeping the attention off the Pacific Northwest but that’s never slowed down the creativity of the locals. Right now it’s in transition. Rock is going back underground like it does every 5 years or so, metal bands are a dime-a-dozen, there’s a decent rap/hip-hop culture and for whatever reason there seems to be in influx in tributes cropping up all over the place. In Eastern Washington alone there are tributes to Skynard, Black Sabbath, Rush, Iron Maiden, Joan Jett, Rage Against the Machine, Alice in Chains, Bad Company, The Who, Hendrix, Cheap Trick, Kiss, New York Dolls, Ramones, Zepplin, AC/DC, Slayer, The Doors, Heart, Aerosmith ….. seems like a new one pops up weekly. Just directly to the south in Portland there’s a whole other family of tributes for Van Halen, Metallica, Ozzy, Guns and Roses, etc and those guys are starting to network with the Seattle bands creating a web of tribute acts from the Canadian border well into Oregon.

BSW: What do you guys do in your off time?

(Dan) Work for the man.

(Spot) SCUBA diving, camping, being a family guy. I read a lot of American literature, dig 4x4’s, (Johnny) Going to party's, having party' time is filled with practicing the bass, or failing at being domestic around the house, yard work and house work.. I fail.

BSW: Who’s available and who’s not? Enquiring minds want to know.

(Johnny) Sad but true, Johnny is happily single.

(Spot) Happily married.

(Dan) What Spot said.

BSW: Do any of you still get the before show jitters?

(Johnny) Yup...every time, just adds to the energy when you hit that fist note.

(Spot) Every time without fail.

(Dan) Only if I’m not drunk enough.

BSW: How does each of you prepare yourselves for a show?

(Johnny) Tuning the basses, nothing special just making sure the bass rig is good to go.

(Spot) Three beers and a tequila shot.

(Dan) See the above question.

BSW: Any rituals that the band does before going on the road?

(Dan) Sacrifice a live case of PBR under the full moon.

(Spot) It usually involves drinking.

(Johnny) packing, loading gear, Johnny annoying everyone else.

BSW: Is there any other words of wisdom each of you would like to give our readers?

(Johnny) remember Johnny is always right, never question the Johnny...

(Dan) Rock and Roll all night & Party every day.

(Spot) Using Kiss song clichés to answer questions makes you look ignorant.

Interview with WAX MANNEQUIN

By Cindy Massey

BSW: Where were you all born?

Well, there is just one of me for this tour. Sometimes there are more than one.

I was born in Burlington, Ontario. I don't know anything else about my birth. My mom can't remember what time of day it was, or what the weather was like. I wasn't supposed to be born. At least that's what I was told. It might not seem like a thing to say to a kid, but you don't know my family. It's funny and loving in context.

BSW: What is the best thing about your shows, what do you really get off on?

I really like connecting with the crowd and throwing roses at them when they deserve it. I like losing myself in the the music and the performance. I like when we all believe in what's happening and our belief builds something serious. It's best when I feel like the words are coming across. My words to the audience, and theirs to me.

BSW: What do you think the music world will be like in 5 years?

I think everyone will invent their own kind of instrument. It'll be Totally different for everyone. We'll get paid less in beer, and more in kindness. We'll find safer places for sleep.

BSW: What can you tell us about the music scene where you are?

I'm from Hamilton. It's dirty and unapologetic. There are hurts and medicine. We're strong because we have to fight our way out. We are close enough to the trends to appreciate them, but far enough that we don't worry. There are a lot of neat things happening in Hamilton. Awful things too. The creative people are getting pretty organized. Apparently they just cured Alzheimer's at McMaster University. No joke. You'll hear about that more soon if you haven't already.

BSW: What can you tell us about your musical influences?

I like anything with a good melody that draws me in lyrically. Tom Waits, Arthur Lee and Love, Leonard Cohen. Early on I listened to a lot of Frank Zappa, as one does. Also folky Canadiana ? Bruce Cockburn, Don Ross, Stan Rogers, Gordon Lightfoot. Some more aggressive music too.

BSW: Can each share your most memorable stage moment? (Good or bad your choice)

Well I dealt with a heckler once in a way that I liked. He was calling out my mother's name again and again ? kept interrupting my show. I wrapped craft foil around his head and gave him the microphone. He froze up. People

Heckle when they want the attention. But if you give it to them, they don't know what to do with it. It's the same with most kinds of power.

BSW: We get to see you play 2 times this year in Winnipeg. You have quite an extensive tour as well. What can I expect to experience when I?m at your show?

It'll be partly solo, and partly with other musicians. I'll find ways of getting comfortable and then, with any luck, we'll build the show together. Some serious rock things and some quieter things. My show might seem a bit strange if you haven't been to it before. But it's actually not that different from other, more normal-seeming things.

BSW: Please describe your writing process?

The songs used to come out of scrambled bits of melody and words? I'd craft them till I got something I liked. The meaning would happen as the song pieced itself together ? kind of like dreams or memories. These days I usually have more specific goals with my songs? Things that I'm trying to achieve or 'say' to the listener. The songs often take a long time to finish, evolving

slowly over months, Even years. Usually things start from melodies and words repeating in my mind.

BSW: Who’s available and who’s not? Enquiring minds want to know.

Just me, Wax Mannequin. I have other musicians that I record and tour with. These days, my backing band changes from place to place, and I do a lot of solo shows, backed by electronics. In Winnipeg I think I'll be supported by my friend Pat Keenan along with others.

BSW: When you’re on a tour as extensive as this one, how does it make you feel?

Pretty incredible, exhausted by the end. The traveling becomes kinda blissful or meditative. I like getting out of Ontario. There is a lot of beauty in this country. Traveling in it is pretty addicting.

BSW: How does each of you prepare yourselves for touring?

Poorly, I'm usually a bit rushed leaving my home town. I try to get lots of sleep before I go out on the road. A good night's sleep is sometimes hard to come by when I'm traveling. I take a long hot shower, and I count my odds and ends twice.

BSW: Any rituals that the band does before leaving town?

Just the counting of the odds and ends... twice.

BSW: Is there any other words of wisdom each of you would like to give our readers?

Only the quiet, scary words that they already hear on the inside.

BSW: Thank you for the interview, I look forward to seeing you someday






Wanna be interviewed for an upcoming issue if our zine? Drop us a line! We're always looking for "hidden talent" to feature!

Columnists to contact for interviews

Kristie Allen

Cindy Massey

Crystal McKay

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