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Author Jeff Slate

The Flaming Lips are unique for a major label, chart-topping band. They don’t compromise on their artistic vision, and they’re not afraid to make flops, especially if they scratch the band’s collective creative itch, or lead to something greater in the future. Along the way during the group’s 30-plus year career, core members Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd have developed a collaborative process that has delivered some remarkable highs — 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from 2002 — as well as what at least casual fans would consider creative follies, like the Pink Floyd homage…

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Jeff Beck is busy. The man who boasts everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to David Gilmour, Joe Perry and Slash amongst his most ardent fans, is slinging his guitar far and wide this summer. He’s out on the road with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers and Heart’s Ann Wilson, while fitting in solo dates along the way, as well as promotion for a new documentary about his career and life, Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story. The shows are earning Beck the effusive praise typical of the kind the legend has always gotten from journalists covering his…

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“We should have gone to America, and we wanted to go to America, but we’d had a drug bust, so we couldn’t go,” the Small Faces’ drummer Kenney Jones told me in 2012 of why he thinks his former band, although Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, never broke in America. “Our manager Don Arden didn’t trust anybody to look after us in America, anyway, because he was afraid he’d lose control of us. But we all conquered America anyway – Steve with Humble Pie and us with The Faces – but I think that if we had gone…

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“Someone had the great idea that if I opened for The Who, more people could hear my new work, but we promptly fell flat on our faces,” legendary singer Robert Plant tells me with a laugh when we meet up and I remind him that we’d met before, back in the early ’00s. He’d recently reemerged as a solo artist, after a stint in the 1990s when he’d joined forces with former Led Zeppelin band mate Jimmy Page for several albums and tours. That, of course, came on the heels of more than a decade of work as a solo…

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“Well, we got it right,” Tom Petty told the L.A. Times’ Randy Lewis in the final interview with the legendary rocker, just days before his death on October 2, when Lewis congratulated him on the success of the album he’d recently produced for The Byrds’ Chris Hillman. “I would just guide them from the control room, you know, just like I do with the Heartbreakers, but I had the luxury of getting to stay in the control room, which was good. So I could just say, ‘Let’s get, come in here and listen to this.’ You know? And then you point…

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“Welcome to Jamrock — the scene and the album — is what exposed me to a broader audience, for sure,” Damian Marley says when we meet on a New York City penthouse patio – on Marley’s birthday, no less — about his breakthrough 2005 album, the moment he says felt he’d begun to move out from the enormous shadow of this father, reggae legend Bob Marley. But when I ask him what are, in his estimation, the standout tracks, he has to pull out his phone to consult the tracklist via Tidal. “It’s been a while,” he says with a…

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You might not guess it, but Steve Earle, the modern epitome of Outlaw Country, started out life inspired by English punk rock. “That scene was huge to me,” he says, and looks up at the ceiling of his New York City apartment, drifting away for a moment. “My Aim is True? That was an important record for me. I had been inspired by Dylan, and was really focused on the acoustic guitar when I was first starting out, but then I saw Springsteen and got that Elvis Costello record, and I saw real songwriting by guys with electric guitars. It…

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When I meet up with David Crosby during rehearsals for his fall tour supporting his new solo album Lighthouse, he almost can’t contain himself about the amazing reviews the album had been getting. “Have you read the Rolling Stone review?” he asks me, almost immediately after we say hello. “Woo! Uncut was a blazer, too, but Rolling Stone, man, it was a rave. It’s a great review. They loved it!” Crosby is going it alone these days, and he’s never seemed happier. After a nasty, public falling-out with longtime musical foil Graham Nash, and cutting ties with his other musical…

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“I adore her,” Chrissie Hynde says of fellow rock legend Stevie Nicks, on whose current tour Hynde’s band the Pretenders are filling the supporting slot. “Stevie’s shows are great, and she’s a darling. She’s got an incredible voice, and it’s a good audience.” While the Pretenders have been fitting in the odd headlining show while supporting Nicks on her U.S. trek, Hynde says it’s been good for her band to stretch their collective legs. “If we can go out on our own, do our own show, it’s going to be a little more crazy,” Hynde admits. “I like that, and…

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“Mudcrutch’s whole approach is like a power band,” Roger McGuinn, the founder of The Byrds, tells me when I catch up with him after seeing him in New York City with Tom Petty’s “other” band. “They’re more like Rolling Stones than Beatles. It’s a powerful, punchy band.” But McGuinn, who tours the world solo these days, says it wasn’t much of an adjustment to sit in with his old friends from the Heartbreakers. “I play with the Rock Bottom Remainders almost every year,” he says of the band of best-selling authors, including Scott Turow, Amy Tan and Stephen King, that…

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