Lou and Keith discuss and debate who was the better blues rock band. In one corner we have the bombastic British Led Zeppelin, and in the other corner the American bad boys of heavy blues riffage. Who rocked harder, partied more, and had the most wild sexy times on the road? You don't want to miss this podcast! Featured Loudini Artists: Stone Machine Stitched Up Heart Winery Dogs
Dirk Blevins- Lead Guitar
Jamie Hall- Bass/Backing Vocals
Jeremy Hall- Drums
Brand new Classic rock in the vein of Free and Bad Company.
Stitched Up Heart
That something is the essence of Stitched Up Heart - a band built around the strength that comes from realizing we are the only ones that control our lives, and focused on the hope that reminds us there is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel. It's something heavy and powerful, jarring the album's epic closing track "I Can't Breathe" from a piano-paced ballad that would do Lady Gaga proud, to a metallic onslaught of drop-tuned guitars that is sure to see the band sharing a stage with the hardest of their hard rock peers. And it is something undeniable, Mixi's voice taking flight amidst anthems of self-awareness that bridge the unrelenting confidence of In This Moment's Maria Brink and the soulful transcendence of Adele.
"When I formed this band I was depressed and going through heartbreak. The name is supposed to give people strength and courage," professes the frontwoman in a warm and certain tone. "We all go through things that make us think we can't go further but, especially when times are bad, I want people to see that time will pass and it will get better. The hopeful lyrics on this record are on purpose - I've been living in the dark for too long, it's time to come into the light. You need to pick yourself up because nobody is going to do that for you. There are some sick people out there, but there is beauty in everyone - and you need to love yourself before you can stitch that heart back up."
"Finally Free" thrust the band into the national spotlight in early 2016, exorcising its demons and riding breakthrough success on SiriusXM Octane into the Top 20 at Active Rock radio. "That song is sentimental to me, it's an eye opener because it's when I realized that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that life is really beautiful," she offers. But the demon returns on "Monster," a blitzkrieg of stabbing guitars and shrill effects that opens with Mixi declaring, "Now don't you make me, make me go crazy..." We're all a little crazy, but Mixi felt a little more possessed as usual when the band penned the monster track.
"The studio where we wrote 'Monster' was a pretty creepy place," she details, "A black cat gave birth to two albino cats there, there were spell books on the shelves, it had a crazy energy and I almost felt possessed, the words coming through and speaking through me... It might have also been that I was drinking a lot of Monster Energy Drink that day, but it felt like a beast came out!"
From the bombastic, dark and seedy tribute to their Los Angeles home that is "City of Angels," into the great beyond via the cinematic super nova that is "Event Horizon" - the metaphoric closing of one door and the opening of a new chapter - the debut album oozes with a voice as powerful as the music, and music as compelling as the voice it carries. "Everyone has felt like they don't have anybody, I want to reach out to anyone feeling that way and let them know that they aren't alone," says Mixi of Never Alone.
Whether we're ducking and dodging life's often cruel barrage, embracing a moment of calm at the center of a storm, or simply looking for the strength to make it through the day, Stitched Up Heart have delivered the soundtrack for a life worth living... Turn it up, because we are never alone.
It would be easy to call The Winery Dogs a supergroup: Vocalist and guitarist Richie Kotzen made his mark with Poison and Mr. Big, bassist Billy Sheehan has been rocking for decades with Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big and others, and drummer Mike Portnoy was the co-founder of progressive metal superstars Dream Theater. But The Winery Dogs are so much more than a supergroup.
Supergroups are usually short-lived entities composed of gifted players that jam out for little while and then quickly record with the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. Moreover, they're often the sum of their collective parts. That's certainly not the case with The Winery Dogs, a cohesive, well-rounded classic-sounding trio with blazing songs that defy expectation. The group’s self-titled debut is filled with straightforward rock and roll inspired by some of their favorite bands, and their music transcends any of the styles they're best known for.
“We all have our own distinct voicings and styles, but we also have a common ground of music we grew up listening to,” explains vocalist and guitarist Richie Kotzen. “What makes the band so special is that somehow, in our collaboration, none of us lost our identity. We all sound like who we are yet we make music that is fresh and exciting and sounds like a new band. There’s a natural chemistry that came together; it’s one of those things that’s meant to be.”
“I like the fact that everybody comes from a different background, though there are similarities to them,” adds Sheehan. “We have is a real special bond that wouldn’t happen if we were all into exactly the same things. We brought disparate elements together and made them into a unified band.”
The proof is in the brew: The Winery Dogs is an eclectic, fully realized album of songs that groove and swing without sacrificing any of the grit that makes great hard rock so inspiring. “Elevate” starts with a bang, as slamming drums and a visceral riff mesh into a rhythm of sheer power. Then the gifted musicians end the stanza in a flurry of precision playing before dropping down to a bass drum thump and sustained guitar feedback over which Kotzen sings, “Lost in the dark, I feel like a shadow of myself.” Then the band kicks back into overdrive and the song repeats its tension and release until it reaches the euphoric chorus, “Elevate me, take me higher I don’t want to be wasted.”
The push-pull dynamic illustrates how The Winery Dogs toy with established styles and turn them into something special, complete with Sheehan’s acrobatic bass fills and Kotzen’s rapidfire solos, which help The Winery Dogs blend in a way that’s both instantly recognizable and utterly individual.
“Desire” is slinkier and more sensual, starting with a lone staccato guitar, but rapidly morphing into a something more infectious than teenage mono, wah-wah guitars pumping along with throbbing bass rhythms and a sturdy backbeat. Before the song is over, The Winery Dogs have engaged in a full-scale workout of funk-inflected and blues-embellished hard rock, capped with the vocal “I don’t think that I can let go.”
“When we were writing, we’d get together and play and everything was really natural and automatic and fell together in a really cool way,” Sheehan says. “Some of the jams we did on the record are pretty spontaneous. We’d launch into them and let nature its course. Honestly, the hardest thing was deciding which songs were our favorites. We’d finish something and be totally happy with it. And then we’d do the next song and go, ‘No, man, that’s our new favorite!’ It was a rare and beautiful thing. Sometimes birth is hard labor, but these songs just popped out.”
Maybe The Winery Dogs sounds so great because, more than anything, the album is a labor of love written from the heart and revealing unexpected shades of melodic eclecticism and lyrical vulnerability. Kotzen's vocals have never sounded better and his guitar playing is extraordinary. Anchored by Sheehan's expert bass lines, which root the songs and provide a lock-and-step foundation for Portnoy to play around, the band creates music that see-saws between primal simplicity and time-honored virtuosity.
“It’s very exciting for me to be in a solid rock trio,” Portnoy says. “Stylistically, the bulk of my career has been spent playing progressive music, so this was an opportunity for me to do something that wasn’t prog or metal. It’s more classic rock and, at the end of the day that’s what I grew up with and that’s the biggest influence in my life. I’m just at home playing on a small four piece kit doing a simple John Bonham groove as I am playing complex tempos on a giant kit. And that’s been a great breath of fresh air for me.”
The seeds of The Winery Dogs were planted in 2011 when Sheehan and Portnoy were working on music together with a different guitarist and songwriter. When that didn’t gel, a mutual friend, “That Metal Show” host and consummate music fan, Eddie Trunk, suggested they contact Kotzen and see if he was interested in forming a band. “We all thought that was a brilliant idea,” Portnoy says. “We were looking for that super gifted guitar player, singer and songwriter -- and that’s Richie.”
The musicians got together in Kotzen’s rehearsal studio in January 2012 and the first day they jammed, they wrote three songs, including the album tracks “One More Time,” and “Six Feet Deeper.” A month later, they reconvened and wrote five more tunes. From there, it was just a matter of fulfilling other musical obligations before they could get together and start recording the album. “At that point we were all gung-ho into it,” Portnoy says. “That summer we got together and we began recording in August 2012. That’s when the bulk of the recording was done as well as the writing of the remaining six tracks. We reconvened in December to finish the vocals and the last touches of overdubbing and mixed it in January 2013.”
While many of the tracks on The Winery Dogs were written from beginning to end in the studio, others came out of song skeletons Kotzen had already written. “I had some material lurking on a hard drive, and I played that for the guys and they connected with those and helped me develop them into complete songs. Then there was one, ‘You Saved Me,’ that Mike had some lyrical and melodic ideas for and he ended up writing that. So the process was totally collaborative, no matter who made the first step. There were no egos involved.”
The Winery Dogs is fueled by passion and talent, and also abounds with diversity. “Damaged” rings with jazzy guitar chords and yearning vocals, retaining intensity without being ultra-heavy; “I’m No Angel” is a mid-tempo burner propelled by a bluesy riff that’s part Hendrix, part Zeppelin, while “Regret” is a heartfelt ballad replete with layered organ and piano that weave through soulful vocals, emotive guitars and a shuffling beat born of The Stones by way of Philly soul. “Growing up outside Philadelphia, I listened to a lot of soul music and as a singer that really influenced my delivery,” Kotzen says. “I think it fits the kind of music we do. They’re not typical hard rock vocals, but they’re still powerful.”
In September, The Winery Dogs will travel to Europe for a warm-up tour, then they’ll return to the U.S. to embrace crowds with their passion, energy, enthusiasm and undeniable talent. For Portnoy, much of the excitement lies in the uniquely chemical bond the three musicians have created. “This is a band in the true sense of the word,” he emphasizes. “It’s all about collaborating on every level, from the writing to the production, and that’s what makes it more than a ‘project.’ We were in the same room making music together. It wasn’t one of those ‘done by email’ kind of albums.”
From the uptempo blues-punk rhythms and flailing lead guitars of “The Other Side” to the space-warped doom of “Time Machine,” to the boogie blues riffage of “One More Time,” The Winery Dogs conjure the best aspects of sixties and seventies rock with a modern flair. Equally experimental and infectious, their album is a milestone in a hard rock genre saturated with cookie-cutter bands afraid to stray beyond their proven formula.