On 20 July 2018 ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst welcomed the legendary electronic band Kraftwerk and 7500 visitors to the Jazz Open Festival on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz – live from the International Space Station.
During the call with space, Kraftwerk founding member Ralf Hütter and Alexander played a special duet version of the track “Spacelab”, for which Alexander had a tablet computer configured with virtual synthesizers on board.
The ‘new’ Kraftwerk live member will live and work in space until mid-December 2018. The video footage of this special event has now been shared by ESA.
Years before kicking off her career as an indie-pop songwriter, a seven year-old Alicia Witt took her first classical piano lesson. She landed her debut movie role that same year, appearing in David Lynch’s sci-fi epic Dune. Decades later, Witt has built both passions into a thriving busi-ness, balancing an acclaimed string of movie, television, and stage appearances with solo rec-ords like 2018’s 15,000 Days.
Her fourth release as an independent songwriter, 15,000 Days is a sweeping, big-hearted rec-ord, its songs rooted in modern arrangements and timeless melodies. Witt wrote the material during a busy period that found her starring in the TV series Nashville, stealing the spotlight with an appearance on The Walking Dead, and playing shows — including a performance on the Grand Ole Opry — in the wake of her previous album, Revisionary History.
She had recorded Revisionary History with producer, songwriter and fellow piano-pounder Ben Folds, resulting in a collection of vintage-inspired songs that looked to the past for inspiration. Outlets like NPR Weekend Edition and the Nashville Scene loved it, with the latter publication calling the album “piano-pop gem that sounds by turns like ‘Grey Seal’-era Elton John, an alt-universe Fiona Apple and a film-noir chanteuse notching her nights in cigarette burns on the fallboard.” Building on that, with the 15,000 Days EP she sources her influences from the con-temporary world, working with producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Tom Waits) along the way.
As its title suggests, 15,000 Days is a record about time — specifically, the number of days and life lessons that all led to Witt’s full discovery of her musical voice. During the years following her introductory piano lesson at age seven, she became a childhood prodigy, tackling the works of Baroque composers, Romantic-era pianists, and other classical bigwigs before she was old enough to drive. When she moved from her Massachusetts hometown to Los Angeles as a teenager, she supported herself with a recurring gig at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where her repertoire also included show tunes, big band numbers, and pop standards from her par-ents’ era. The experience felt like an education in the best music of the past, giving Witt a steady foundation upon which to build her own songs. Meanwhile, her acting career flourished, as well, with Witt appearing in Twin Peaks, winning an award for her appearance in the Sun-dance-approved “Fun,” playing a woodwind in the musical film “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” and en-joying a multi-year run in the TV series Cybil.
The five songs that comprise 15,000 Days are rooted in the lessons learned during a life spent onstage, behind the piano, in front of the camera, in love, out of love, and en route from one destination to another. Combined, those songs tell the story of a journey — one that’s both personal and musical, ultimately leading to a more mature perspective and fully-developed sound. With songs whose personal lyrics help shine a light on universal themes, 15,000 Days is Witt’s more poignant material to date.
“In the past, I’ve written some very angry songs and some purely devotional love songs,” says the singer, who whittled down her EP’s final tracklist from a list of 20 candidates. “When I write songs now, I’m taking stock of the amount of time I’ve spent here in the world, looking at all the transformative experiences in my life. Naming it 15,000 Days was a no-brainer, because that’s the amount of time I’ve spent in this world, figuring out what I want to say and how I want to say it. I’ve finally arrived at that place.”
Joining her in the recording studio was Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King, whose re-sume includes albums like Kings of Leon’s Only By the Night and Tom Waits’ Mule Variations. King brought an ethereal quality to Witt’s work, beefing up the songs’ arrangements with per-cussive loops, ’80s keyboards, stacked harmonies, and even a string quartet. They worked fast, spending four days at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio before wrapping up the recording ses-sions at King’s own studio. Throughout the process, they remained true to Witt’s talent as a first-rate instrumentalist and vocalist.
“The fact that Jacquire had worked on Mule Variations made my jaw fall open,” Witt says of her producer, who spent hours with the songwriter long before the recording sessions began, lis-tening to Witt as she performed solo renditions of her new songs on the piano. The songs that truly resonated with the producer made the final cut. “That fact that he’d co-produced Only By the Night was really significant to me too,” she adds. “I loved the way it sounded. It was great, anthemic pop music — music that makes you want to dance, or makes you want to listen while you’re working out — but those songs are all about something so deeply rooted in a small experience.”
No wonder Witt was drawn to King’s work. Her songs, too, toed a similar line between person-al experience and common themes, allowing the audience to see their own life reflected back at them through Witt’s writing. King helped expand her music’s reach, adding loops that broadened her sound without lessening her music’s impact.
“He’s good not only at knowing how to present an artist’s sound, so others can relate to it and get inside it, but he’s also very good at knowing what fits into the palette of popular music at any given time,” she adds. “Those loops and sounds that he added wouldn’t have been some-thing I’d ever think would’ve had a place in my music, but I really love them. They fit. There’s a bit of an otherworldly sound that he brought in, too, which still sounds like pop to me, and it doesn’t take away the singer/songwriter vibe of it all. There’s an etherealness and a grooviness that feels more indie-pop to me than other stuff I’ve done before.”
On “Younger” — the EP’s kickoff single, whose atmospheric verses build their way toward a supersized pop chorus — Witt sings about reclaiming the surety and freedom of youth. “If we can take all the wisdom we’ve accumulated during our lives, yet still keep that identity we used to have when we were spontaneous kids, that’s a beautiful place to be,” she explains. Later, she wades her way through the waters of an uncertain relationship with the percussive, piano-propelled “Earful,” struggles against an absent-minded lover’s gravitational pull on “Satellite,” then strengthens her resolve with “Blinkers,” a seize-the-day power ballad featuring sweeping strings and swooning vocals.
“People always say it’s good to go into situations with your eyes open, so you’re aware of your surroundings,” she says of the inspiration behind “Blinkers,” which closes the record. “I wrote that song by myself, about a situation where I need to keep the blinkers on. I need to keep the laser focus. I can see all the warning signs that say, ‘This opportunity might not be everything you think it is,’ but this is a moment where I need to stop worrying about that, because the possible payoff is worth it. ‘Blinkers’ is about taking that chance.”
It took years — and thousands of days — for Alicia Witt to find her true voice as a musician. She unveils that voice with 15,000 Days, a record that’s honest, heartfelt, and every bit as compelling as her work onscreen. A lifelong musician and actress, Alicia Witt turns a page with her new release, kicking off another chapter in a story that’s still unfolding.
Nuclear Blast Records has announced the signing of rock and heavy metal icon and unique filmmaker Rob Zombie to a worldwide deal. The follow-up to his 2016 studio album, “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser”, and 2018’s “Astro-Creep: 2000 Live” is due in 2019.
Comments Rob Zombie: “I am very excited to work with the fine folks at Nuclear Blast. The combination of the label’s grassroots urge to get the hustle done mixed with the detonation of our most combustable melodic masterpiece yet should prove to be a winning hybrid of hellacious hullabaloo.”
Adds a representative from Nuclear Blast: “As fans ourselves at Nuclear Blast, we have long admired the artistry of Rob Zombie throughout his extensive and successful career in both music and film. It is a very exciting opportunity to unite Rob’s visionary talent with Nuclear Blast ingenuity.
“Nuclear Blast has a long history of thinking outside of the box and creating personal and collectible experiences for the fans. We look forward to delivering unforgettable experiences to fans around the world for years to come with the legendary Rob Zombie.”
Last summer, Rob and his bandmates commenced work on the follow-up to “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser”, which was the second consecutive effort to feature Zombie and guitarist John 5 alongside bassist Piggy D. and drummer Ginger Fish.
This past February, John 5 compared the shock rocker’s upcoming album to THE BEATLES’ groundbreaking LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, saying that it is “by far the best Zombie record that he’s ever done.” He added: “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, it’s just our greatest record,’ and I don’t say that. Whatever I say is so honest when I’m doing interviews. So I think it’s our best record.”
When asked what makes the new Rob Zombie album so special compared to his previous records, John 5 said: “First of all, Rob did incredible with the lyrics and the melody — unbelievable!
“What he did this time around… We did it… I don’t even know if he wants me to talk about this, but how we went about it is… We would usually, me and Rob would come up with some music,” he said. “He’d be, like, ‘I like that music, and let’s write to that music. I’m going to write my lyrics and melody to that music that we just created.’ So what happened this time is he wrote lyrics and melody to, like, drum beats and sounds, and he came up with, in my opinion, the hookiest, most memorable lyrics and melody that he has ever. And what he did is brought me in and then we worked on the music, and it was un-fucking-believable; it just worked so well.”
Zombie recently told Loudwire about his upcoming album: “I think it’s the best record we’ve made. Parts of it are the heaviest, parts are the weirdest, it’s the most complex record we’ve ever made, but at the same time, it’s always very catchy and listenable, but it’s the most intricately structured record.”
He added: “There are those songs that go in a direction we’ve never even gone near before. Personally, I like records that are very varied in sound. Not just like, ‘Oh, here’s 12 super heavy tracks,’ and they’re all the same tempo. I like records that are all over the place. That’s why I think my favourite BEATLES record was always The White Album.”
Rob Zombie has continuously challenged audiences as he stretches the boundaries of both music and film. He has sold more than 23 million albums worldwide, and is the only artist to experience unprecedented success in both music and film as the writer/director of seven feature films with a worldwide gross totaling more than $150 million.
Last week Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment officially announced last week that their Joker origin movie had gotten the green light. Now, the studio has confirmed that the upcoming film starring Joaquin Phoenix will debut in theaters on October 4, 2019 and will simply be titled Joker. On that release date the film will go up against Paramount’s Gemini Man from director Ang Lee and Fox’s thriller The Woman in the Window starring Amy Adams.
Under the direction of Todd Phillips (The Hangover franchise), the new film centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of a man disregarded by society is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
Phillips will direct from a screenplay he co-wrote with writer Scott Silver (The Fighter). The film will be produced by Emma Tillinger Koskoff and executive produced by Richard Baratta and begins production later this year. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Warner Bros. is also reportedly in development on a separate Joker feature film which would star Jared Leto as the villain, reprising his role from Suicide Squad.
The full lineup for DANZIG’s 30th-anniversary “Halloween Hell-Bash” at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, California on Saturday, November 3 has been announced. This will be the only California DANZIG live date for 2018. Joining DANZIG on the bill are special guests THE DAMNED, VENOM INC., THE METEORS, POWER TRIP and MUTOID MAN. Tickets will go on sale Friday July 27.
DANZIG Halloween 2018 tour dates:
Oct. 24 – Portland, OR – Roseland Oct. 25 – Seattle, WA – Sodo Oct. 27 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex Oct. 28 – [to be announced on July 25] Oct. 31 – Denver, CO – Fillmore Nov. 01 – Albuquerqe, NM – El Rey Theatre Nov. 03 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre
These will be the last DANZIG live dates for awhile as Glenn Danzig will be concentrating on other projects which will be announced at a later date.
As previously reported, Glenn Danzig and his band will perform DANZIG’s 1992 album, “Danzig III: How The Gods Kill”, live in its entirety exclusively at this year’s Psycho Las Vegas festival, set to take place August 17-19 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will mark the only time “Danzig III” will be played in full in the U.S. this year.
Glenn previously played “How The Gods Kill” live at Riot Fest and his own Blackest Of The Black festival last year.
Glenn will also celebrate DANZIG’s 30th anniversary this year by playing a limited number of special shows in Europe in August.
The run begins August 2 at Wacken Open Air, where DANZIG will headline one of the main stages, and includes stops in the U.K., Germany, Luxembourg and Czech Republic. DANZIG will complete the tour with a headlining performance at Brutal Assault festival on August 11 in Jaromer, Czech Republic.