Brian Solomon with Wrestledelphia

John Corrigan of Wrestledelphia recently sat down for an interview with Pro Wrestling FAQ author Brian Solomon!

Corrigan’s Corner: A Q&A with Pro Wrestling FAQ author Brian Solomon 

00126963Brian Solomon has “toasted champagne cocktails with Ric Flair all night in Manchester, England; hung out in ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie’s basement while wearing his house slippers; and once got stuck in a limo with Vince McMahon for three hours and lived to tell the tale.”

I was lucky enough to hear that tale while chatting with Solomon for an hour regarding his new book,PRO WRESTLING FAQ. Covering the carnie origins to modern day sports-entertainment, Solomon’s tome is the definitive guide to everything one must know about the history, athletes, and appeal of professional wrestling.

John Corrigan: With so much material covered, was there anything you had to cut from the book?

Brian Solomon: “I cut a total of about seven different chapters. I was going to do a chapter on, I’m a little biased, but the history of wrestling magazines. I was going to do a chapter on some of the more well-known wrestling arenas around the world. Also kind of a glossary of moves, something on wrestling books, wrestling movies, all that merchandise kind of stuff. And getting into all the different pay-per-views. But I had to decide what people wanted the most in there.”

JC: I’m glad with what you stuck with especially the chapters on the early days of professional wrestling. Before you began researching, how much of the early 20th century history did you know?

BS: “Well, thank you. Ever since I was a teenager, I was fascinated by the whole history of the business. And if you were following the stuff I did when I worked for WWE, you could probably tell I was one of the more historically minded writers they had. So I’m not going to sit here and say that everything in that book was off the top of my head, but I will say one of the reasons it took such a short amount of time to write is because I did have a lot of information that I already knew. So the process became just verifying that information.

Along the way I did find out things I never knew about and some of those things came from the interviews I did with just amazing people. Mike Chapman, he’s the number one authority on people like Gotch and Hackenschmidt and Joe Stecher, it was fascinating to pick his brain.”

JC: What was your favorite chapter to write?

BS: “It’s funny that you mention how much you love the Gotch/Hackenschmidt chapter because that was probably my favorite one to write. That might be why you like it so much because my passion for the subject really came through. I was so interested in portraying this rivalry between these two guys that I put so much effort into it. I even had a detail in there about how Frank Gotch on the night before his big rematch with Hackenschmidt in 1911 when he’s defending the title at Comiskey Park…well, the night before he went to Wrigley Field and caught a baseball game there. So I went through the effort of finding out who the hell played there on that night in 1911 and found out it was a double header.

In my head, I wanted this chapter, this whole book really, to read and sound as if it was a Ken Burns documentary. I loved doing that part, and I don’t want to say enjoyed because it’s morbid in a way, but I was really fascinated by the chapter I did on some of the scandals in the business. I didn’t want to make the whole book like that because I wasn’t trying to sensationalize and cash in all this negative crap, but you can’t do a book on all of the wrestling business and not touch on some of the scandals. It’s the stuff that’s urban legend in wrestling history and some fans may have never heard of it.”

Read the rest of Part I here

Read Part II here

Read Part III here

Salon.com Interview with Susan Masino

Susan Masino, author of AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Jamie Blaine!

SIMPLE IS BEST: THE SECRET OF

AC/DC’S SUCCESS — A CONVERSATION WITH BIOGRAPHER SUSAN MASINO

AC/DC biographer Susan Masino, also a longtime band friend, is perhaps the only writer to enjoy the honor of an actual shout-out in one of the band’s early tunes. (See below.) If that doesn’t give a biographer cred, nothing does.

Masino’s Let There Be Rock: The Story of AC/DC is the band’s definitive biography, but there’s always more to tell with AC/DC. Her stellar, brand new AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band is jam-packed with even more stories, behind-the-scenes hi-jinx, and tasty bits from the band’s long way to the top. We caught up with Masino to get her take on the secret of AC/DC’s forty-years-and-counting success.

The Weeklings: Dirty Deeds is my favorite AC/DC record. What’s yours?

Susan Masino: Mine is Powerage for several reasons, aside from how brilliant all the songs are. I was in constant contact with Barry Taylor (roadie for the band), while they were in the studio. I actually mailed them copies of the interview I did with them prior December (1977), when they played in Milwaukee, WI. My friend Barry kept bringing up the fact that he “helped” Bon with some of the lyrics. I thought that was nice, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized Bon used my name in the song, “Down Payment Blues.”

The Weeklings: Whoa! You’re Suzy baby?

Susan Masino: Well, I’d like to think I was one of them. I’m sure Bon knew other Suzys, but he also liked to tease Barry about his affection toward me. If he was referring to me, that is the most awesome thing an AC/DC fan can achieve, along with making it onto the Jumbo Tron when they played Milwaukee in 2010.

The Weeklings: You go back with the band over thirty years. Give us a quick primer to your history with AC/DC.

Susan Masino: I was lucky enough to meet AC/DC on the first leg of their first U.S. It was August 16, 1977, and I was writing for a local paper here in Madison, WI. I was sent to the club to help out the promoter, and fell in love with the band. I became friends with Barry and he wrote and called me every week for the next three years. He left the band in 1980, right before Bon’s death, and I stayed in touch with the band over the past 38 years, seeing them on tour and writing two books about them.

The Weeklings: Some lumped AC/DC in as punk when they first began and you mention that Bon might have been influential to the early punk movement.

Susan Masino: I know during their first tour of the UK, the Sex Pistols were on their way up and the band claimed that once they (the Pistols) saw AC/DC, they started dressing like Bon with the cut off denim jackets. AC/DC hated being called a punk band, and didn’t care for the music themselves at all.

The Weeklings: Is there any band that AC/DC didn’t blow off the stage?

Susan Masino: Absolutely not! To be fair, when they were opening for bands like Aerosmith, UFO, and Cheap Trick, I chose to stay backstage after the band was done playing. Once you saw AC/DC live, you were good.

Read the rest of the interview here!

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Rock Cellar Magazine Interview with Lisa S. Johnson

Lisa S. Johnson, author of 108 Rock Star Guitars, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Rock Cellar Magazine. Read the rest of the interview here!

Rock Cellar Magazine: Discuss your background and what led to the 108 Rock Star Guitars project. It definitely seems like something was quite a process to put together. 

Lisa S. Johnson: Well, I started 17 years ago. It took me 15 years of shooting, because I always had a job – I worked for Eastman Kodak for ten years and owned two yoga studios – so I was always doing this project on the side. What led to it was…I was working for Eastman Kodak and I had a territory in Memphis, Tennessee. I started dating the guitar player at church, and my dad, a musician, told me I was never allowed to date musicians.

So I called him and said “Dad, I’m dating a musician – however, he IS the guitar player at church, and he owns a vintage guitar shop!”

So my dad goes “Oh, well that’s different. He’s not a touring musician…let’s get back to the ‘vintage guitar shop’ part…I’ve always wanted a Gibson mandolin. If he ever gets one in, let me know!”

So literally two weeks later he gets in a 1917, mint condition Gibson mandolin which is now worth about $3,500. I said “I want to buy it for my dad, how much?” and he said “you can’t afford it, so why don’t you photograph some guitars for me instead?”

Shortly after, Kodak transferred me to New York. I thought ” you know, I really want to keep photographing guitars!” – since it was really the first time that I’d fallen in love with my imagery.

So I bee-lined it for the Iridium Jazz Club, where Les Paul played every Monday night. I figured if I’m going to photograph guitars, I might as well photograph famous ones.

Les Paul was such a sweetheart, he let me shoot his guitar, and twelve years later he ended up writing the forward for my book because I sat with him after a show one night and said “Les, do you remember when I photographed your guitar twelve  years ago?” and he said “yep!”, so I said “Well here’s Slash’s guitar, here’s Robby Krieger’s guitar, here’s Zakk Wylde’s guitar. I need somebody to write the forward for my book. You’re their hero and you’ve been with me on this project since Day 1. Would you consider it?”

And he said “yeah, I see what you’re saying…let’s do it!” So he did, and I’ll treasure that forever and ever.

Rock Cellar Magazine: Being that close with someone like Les Paul must have been a thrill, especially with how involved he became with your project. 

Lisa S. Johnson: It was really cool because back when I photographed Les’ guitars and those guitars back in Memphis I was shooting in black and white. And then I’d take the prints and hand color them, hand-tint them. So when I photographed Les’ guitars I brought him prints and he used to say “oh, here comes that girl that does that guitar art!” before he really got to know who I was.

I knew his standup bass player, Paul Lewinsky, and Lou Pallo, his rhythm player for 45 years, Thomas Doyle, his guitar tech, they all knew me so when I’d go to the shows they’d make sure I got back to the green room, so I’d always go back there and say hi to Les.

It was so special. I never spent time with him outside the Iridium Room, since he lived in New Jersey, but the time I did spend with him was a treasure. He was like my grandfather. As a result of his support of my work, 10% of the proceeds from sales go to the Les Paul Foundation, which helps get grants for children for music education and the hearing impaired.

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Down the Rhodes Interview

Gerald McCauley is a fantastic musician. In this great Acting on Film interview with Del Weston and Mark Giardino, he talks about his new book, Down The Rhodes: The Fender Rhodes Story, music, famous players and his fight with leukemia. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Interview. More at aoffest.com

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Huffington Post Interview with Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick

Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick, two of the authors of The Pensado Papers, had a great discussion about their book with Mike Ragogna of Huffington Post. Read the rest of the interview here!

Mike Ragogna: When did all this Pensado/Trawick bromance begin?

Herb Trawick: Oh God, about twenty-five years ago in the lobby of a studio when we were both aspiring kids from the south. Dave was from Atlanta by way of Florida, I was from Kentucky by way of Montreal. We came to L.A. to make our bones and ended up in the same studio lobby accidentally. We connected there and I had a chance about a month later when somebody called me for a referral–I had just met this white guy who worked on James Brown and I thought that was pretty cool. I hadn’t heard a note, but I referred him and he went over and did a job on a hip hop record and absolutely killed it and has been hot for thirty years and we’ve been friends for that long.

Mike Ragogna: You’ve released a book, The Pensado Papers that we’ll talk about, but first, how did the television show come about?

HT: Because of our friendship, we’ve always kept in touch. I was his first manager, but he and I have been amongst a small group of best friends for a long time. We were talking career stuff at the time, he was being managed by Roc Nation and Jay-Z, this was about five years ago. We were re-examining our careers and where we were going to go, we’d been blessed these last three years. In the middle of that, Dave had a brain incident that put him down for a little bit. He had a miraculous recovery and since we were talking careers, I tried to come up with something he could deal with from home, and deal with these prodigious, outsized talents that he has. By fate one of our friends worked at a digital network and heard about this idea I had for him to just stay at home. They sent an email and said, “We’d like to do this as a show.” They were putting out online television from this little broadcast studio. We only did it because in Dave’s case he didn’t necessarily want to spend the money to capture the contents of the idea that I had for him to stay at home, so I said, “Well, let me cut a deal, we’ll go over here, this will last maybe three months and we’ll be able to cut some content and we’ll be able to get it started and everybody will be happy and you won’t have to write a check.” Three months is now five years, two hundred episodes, a hundred and eighty seven countries, a hundred and fifty school around the globe and it’s just turned into an amazing ride, an example of digital media and a huge platform that continues to grow every day. It’s the most amazing thing that either one of us have dealt with in our career.

Dave Pensado: And let me just add, there were several things that I found interesting from an insider/outsider perspective. One was that when Herb and I started we were just trying to be entertaining, but from the very beginning Herb was like, “Man, if I’m going to be involved it’s got to be good TV.” So we patterned the show originally after Charlie Rose. Every day Herb would give me broadcaster lessons, so I’ve grown to really enjoy the process of sitting in front of cameras and disseminating and sharing information. I want to give my partner full credit for insisting from the beginning that everything be done right. The business part was perfect, the financial elements were perfect, and first and foremost it was going to be quality television. I think that kind of helped separate us a little bit from the rest of the pack. We weren’t trying to make an interesting YouTube video, we were going for NBC. I know that sounds arrogant, and I’m not saying we’ve reached that yet, but that was probably the foundation upon which the show grew. Plus the fact that my friends and Herb’s friends in the industry really helped us out. All the top names in audio, engineers and producers and artists, just saw a value in it that early on I didn’t see. It really helped us get this thing to where it is today.

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Audiofanzine Interview with Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick

Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick, two of the authors of The Pensado Papers, had a great discussion about both the book and the YouTube show “Pensado Place” with Mike Levine of Audiofanzine. Read the rest of the interview here!

Dave, what percentage of your work life is now taken up by the show?

Pensado: Well, I don’t look at it that way. It’s all so interwoven. When I’m in the studio, everything I do contributes to the show. When I’m doing the show, everything about the show contributes to my studio life…I would say probably 80% of the time, I’m physically in the studio, and 20% of the time I’m devoting towards the show…Herb does all the major work. Herb puts more time in for the show than I do for mixing. He’s the person that makes it look good, the person that makes it popular. All his ideas come from a point of giving the viewer value and education is very important to both of us…Herb has a team of people that execute. Herb is always trying to figure out a way to keep the show free. That’s important to us, and it’s getting more and more difficult.

Trawick: That’s for sure.

How many views do you get on a typical episode of Pensado’s Place?

Trawick: It changes, but our specific audience monthly is between 500,000 and 600,000 people. If we add in our affiliated sponsors and their audience reach — it starts to approach about a million.

The book chronicles many things including how the show has developed into the force it is now. What was your motivation for writing it?

Pensado: We did the book to kind of solidify and quantify and organize our own thoughts: “What the heck just happened?”…The book is not necessarily about the show, it’s about two different lives from two different places in the world and how our experiences and our past triumphs and our past failures led us to the point where we were able to create something that people seemed interested in.

Trawick: The book has tips and tricks that are technical, from our guests and from Dave. It’s a story of redemption. It’s career advice. It’s a comeback story, it’s a story about partnership. It’s a story about digital new media and how to take it on and go from two guys who don’t do this at all to two guys who have built something. We start our fifth year in January and the extent of things that have happened because we decided to take this on and be forward facing and forward leaning, is stunning, in terms of its scale and size.

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Audiofanzine Interview with Mixerman

Mixerman, author of Zen and the Art of RecordingZen and the Art of Mixing, and Zen and the Art of Producing, had a great discussion with Mike Levine of Audiofanzine. Read the rest of the interview here!

Audiofanzine: You talked a lot about recording drums in the book, including the concept of “top down” drum recording. Can you explain what you mean by that?

00333246Well, for a lot of people, the first thing they’ll go for is the kick drum and then the snare drum, and they’ll make those sound fantastic on their own, without any thought about how the entire thing works. Even I used to do that. And then I realized, “Why do I do that when 90% of the information is on the overheads and the rooms [room mics]. I probably accidentally had my overheads in some fabulous spot when I had that “ah ha” moment. I then I realized that. The top down method keeps you from getting in trouble, because your close mics work in relation to the overheads.

Audiofanzine: So when you’re tracking drums, you start by listening through the overheads and getting a good blend without listening to the other mics at first?

It’s the difference between getting all your drum tones and then miking your cymbals, rather than trying to mic00127033 the entire kit. Sometimes you do want to just mic the cymbals, like if you want a very, “in your face” kind of sound. Let’s say it’s a metal album, I know I’ll have an “in your face” kick and snare and the cymbals. I don’t necessarily want the whole aggregate of the kit, rather I’m just going to mic the cymbals. Which means I’ll have the mics lower to the cymbals, and try to put the kit together that way. With the aggregate method, however, I’m capturing the image of the kit, and then I’m filling in the missing information. I’m going to actually spend time getting those overheads so that my aggregate balance is the best it can be. If I have the mics up here, and I’m getting a ton of room information and I’m really not getting a good balance, I’m going to bring the mics down a little bit so that everything comes into focus to the point where if I had to live with just those two mics, I could do it.

Audiofanzine: So you just spend a lot of time trying to get the overhead sounding great, and then the other mics are icing on the cake.

Or the room mics — depending on the room. Sometimes the rooms give you the aggregate picture.

Audiofanzine: For people who have a limited amount of gear. What would you say is a good minimal kind of setup? I’ve had some luck with 4-mic setups, two overheads, kick and snare.

I would never use 3 or 4 mics on anyone but a great drummer. That only works if the drummer really has great balance. The greater the balance of the drummer, the less mics you need.

Audiofanzine: Because the drummer has good dynamics?

00123881Yeah. Because their dynamics are good, but more importantly because they play the instrument in balance. If I put two microphones over JR [studio drummer John Robinson] or over Matt Chamberlain — they’re perfectly in balance – you listen to them and you go, “Wow, that sounds really good like that.” You put it over a band drummer and you go, “I’ve got a big problem on the kick drum,” or “I’ve got a big problem on the snare drum.” And you start adding microphones and compressors and you’ve got to create a balance that he’s not capable of creating on his own at this point in his career.