Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Review: Empires

Though the band’s Myspace might state that they are Americana/R&B, that’s definitely not an accurate description. Though I’m not the best at saying exactly how a band sounds, I call them more of a mellower rock. Their song Midnight Land is a more fast-paced song, while another song Don’t Let it Fool You is slower and drawing in on more of the acoustic side, building up as the song progresses.
The thing about these songs and their others though, Valmont and Keep the Mood, is that they beg you to listen to them. It isn’t very often that I find a new band where the songs are good quality and I like them all, but it happened here with the Empires.

The Empires is the new home to ex-The Academy is…member Tom Conrad. You can find their music at Go give them a listen and be ready to buy their album when it’s available!

For the Bands: Rock for Health

Rock for Health

We talked with the person in charge of Rock for Health, Kristina Grossmann, about what they do, who supports them, and what everyone else can do as well...whether you're a touring band or not. I must say though, if you're in a band, you definitely need to read this! After all, it's all about helping you!

1.What made you decide to start Rock for Health? How exactly do you help touring bands?

I have been working in the industry for quite some time, doing everything from managing, promoting, booking, working at labels, and touring. I’ve seen and experienced first hand the way an artist’s health affects their careers and performance when they don’t take the appropriate action. I started researching musicians and healthcare, and found out that there is not much out there that can help them.

ROCK FOR HEALTH seeks to educate artists on health issues, provide necessary medical information and be an advocate for musicians in regards to health insurance coverage and long-term care. A population that is better informed about its health care coverage options will be better able to access needed care.

ROCK FOR HEALTH will inform musicians on a wide variety of health issues including preventative health services, social, mental and occupational outreach. Through leadership, communication, and partnerships, ROCK FOR HEALTH is dedicated to the creation of a healthy musical environment in which artists and performers can perform at their peek physical and mental abilities.

2.Rock for Health went on tour with The Dresden Dolls during their winter 2007 tour. How did that come about? What was the reception like at the shows?

The Dresden Dolls tour at the end of 2007 was awesome! We made 200% more than what we expected. The Dolls have a very tight-knit fan base that was very interested in ROCK FOR HEALTH and what we were about. Kids donated, bought tee shirts, and hung out with us, and were genuinely excited about our company. We cannot thank Amanda and Brian enough (as well as Emily White!) for supporting us and helping make the tour the best it can be.

3.What particular bands or artists, besides The Dresden Dolls, have backed the organization with their support?

Bands that have expressed interest and have supported us are: Bayside, Chiodos, Circa Survive, Envy On The Coast, Meg & Dia, The Almost, Anberlin, The Spill Canvas, Medicated Kisses, The Homefront, Therefore I Am, The Fiery Furnaces, The Men, A Loss For Words, Playradioplay!, and Wild Zero. The list is growing quite rapidly!

4.You all will be heading out on the 2008 Warped Tour this summer. Will you be attending every date? How do you hope to promote at the shows?

We are very excited about being on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour this summer. It will be a great chance for us to reach a lot of artists and increase awareness to hundreds of thousands of people. We will have a merch tent set up in the non-profit world, selling merchandise, accepting donations, and talking to kids about the issue of healthcare in the music world.

We will also have a backstage set up, where we will be dealing with artists directly, with the support of a nutritional company and a national gym. There are a lot of exciting things we have planned for the artists. It’s going to be great!

5.If people are interested in helping out, how can they go about doing this?

Anyone can help out at any time! Adding us on myspace at, visiting our website, helping us promote by adding our banner to their sites, and joining our facebook group is one way. Buying RFH merchandise and wearing them everywhere, especially bands wearing them on-stage, is one of the best forms of promotion for RFH.

Being a government recognized 501c3 organization, all donations are tax-deductible. Donations and grants are a huge source of income for us. If anyone has any question or comments, they can email me at

Author/Screenwriter: Shawn Parker

Shawn Parker

Shawn Parker is a writer. I say writer, because he doesn't just write in one way. He's an author of the novel Night has Fallen and he's written two screenplays that are about to be made into movies. Pretty cool, right? I thought so too! Shawn was nice enough to give us an in-depth look on his work, so show your thanks by reading and leaving a comment!

1. When did you figure out that writing was what you wanted to pursue in life? Did you start writing movies or books first?

Writing is always something I’ve loved doing, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that I started giving it serious consideration as a career path. When I was in the sixth grade I did write a 50 page novella about a magical Gonle named Foltar—I don’t think anyone took me seriously then, either.I started writing movies first, after a failed (through my own negligence and disinterest more than anything) attempt at running a magazine. At that time I was still playing at being a dumb jock, and there were too many distractions at school to keep me from writing. I always thought writing a book was a daunting, all-consuming task that one needed to be prepared for. Still do.

2. What are the main differences between writing a novel and writing a screenplay? Do you find one easier then the other?

I certainly find one easier than the other, but explaining why has always been difficult. I suppose it’s because I look at screenwriting as such a technical process – a screenwriter isn’t an artist, he’s an engineer. When you’re writing for the screen no one cares about your language, no matter how glorious or pompous it is. Everyone from the producer to the director to the cinematographer and lighting tech needs to be able to read and, more importantly, understand the script. It needs to be as clean and clear as possible. Forget about the fluffy language.With a novel you’re free—and expected—to write with more flair, more passion. At least when you’re writing prose. Writing a novel is a wholly creative process, where screenwriting is more like filling in the blanks. If you’ve got a great story you can be the worst writer in the world and still put together a marvellous film. The book medium is much less forgiving.

3. Your novel Night has Fallen is available now. Will you give us a brief summary on the book? Where can people pick up a copy?

This is cheap and I might be cheating, but I think the best summary of the book comes from the jacket:

Night Has Fallen is the story of four lifelong friends steered into adulthood by the impending marriage of their most reluctant member. As a grand farewell to their youth, they plot an adventure to the furthest reaches of the Canadian north—with no prior knowledge of what it means to test the natural and savage elements of the world.They descend on the wilderness with all the naivety and brazen disregard for safety that young men are disposed to. They are ill prepared, but it does not matter, for they are in search of adventure—a final voyage together, one for all time. In one horrifying moment the adventure becomes a struggle for survival.

The rugged Canadian wild and the treacherous whitewater that cuts sharp swathes across the terrain will be their final playground, if they allow it. They have nothing to defend themselves against the wilds but a pistol and a can of bear repellent that may or may not contain hairspray. But they will survive. For that, all they need is each other. Night Has Fallen is the intensely affecting tale of a journey. It is an exploration of loss, betrayal, courage and friendship and a reflection on what man is capable of when he is faced with insurmountable odds: wanton destruction, incomparable compassion and unrivaled heroism.

It’s essentially a movie about four friends during the biggest transition period of their life. Some might call it an exercise in masculine bravado, but I don’t have a problem with that. It might have fit in perfectly with the cultural landscape of the 1980s, a time when Stallone, Van Damme, Segal and Norris represented the quintessential “man.” It seems more and more like men are given less slack for being just that—masculine. I wanted to write a story about men the way that they are and the way that they’ve been classically portrayed, and I wanted to do it unapologetically.

These guys aren’t ashamed because they drink strong beer and don’t shave their chests. You might think that I’m trying to alienate women or target a specific audience with this, but it’s just the opposite—the best responses have come from my female fans.

The book will be officially launched in stores in Canada and the US on April 15th, but you can pick up copies online now directly from the publisher – and . It’ll be on by mid-February and then rolled out as the year progresses.

4. When will filming for your movie Wireless start? Are there any details you can give us about the film?

Wireless is a Dog Gone Mad production and set to go in front of the cameras on August 11th in Los Angeles. I had a chance to go over the approved budget and shooting schedule a few weeks ago, and what I can tell you is that this is going to be the best movie of the year. I’ve heard rumours of a number of Oscar nods in half a dozen categories…I’m kidding. I can’t spill a lot of details on casting until contracts are all finalized and the production company issues a press release, but I can tell you that we’re close to locking up two incredibly talented actors from what some people might consider the A-list. I also realize that’s what everyone says and I’m turning into a really boring interviewee. Let me see if I can’t kick it up a notch. WIRELESS One term removed from the Bush administration reckless US foreign policy has caught up with the most powerful nation on earth. International angst has risen to an all-time high. Terrorists have devastated the American intelligence community. The Vice President and other high-ranking officials are dead.

With no other option, the President of the United States is forced to turn to a weapon more powerful than anything the world has ever known. A weapon able to infiltrate not only every piece of technological equipment ever built, but the human mind itself.When the group responsible for the destruction of the CIA steals the weapon, the President enlists the scientist who created it to get it back. Together they race against time to uncover a conspiracy that will take the world to the brink of World War III and beyond.In addition to a cool story there’s also a plane crash, gunfights and people jumping out of apartment building windows. The three main ingredients in all high art.

5. Can you give us any information on your other movie, the comedy I Hate Dating?

I Hate Dating was basically a pet project that I never thought I’d show to anyone. It’s about me and the fun (or lack thereof) I’ve had dating since I was in high school. It’s highly fictionalized, of course, but it’s still a really personal project. I poke fun at myself for about 110 pages… I’m not sure what clinical psychologists would have to say about that.

6. You will be helping with I Hate Dating as a producer. How did that come about?

I was lucky enough to get a chance to do some production work on Wireless and it’s something I really enjoy doing. One of the provisions the production company added to the deal for I Hate Dating was that I’d stick around to produce. They must think I’m good with people or something. I’m not sure where they would have got that idea.

7. Where do you feel you get most of your ideas from?

This is probably the toughest question I get from people and I always struggle to answer it. I pull from everything that I know, or that I want to know more about. I believe in the axiom of write what you know only to a degree: if we only wrote what we knew, I think it might have been impossible for Lucas to come up with the story that became Star Wars. I don’t think he’s ever been a Jedi, but he uses what he knows to create the environment and the story while keeping it based in his own conditions.

Spielberg was probably never bitten by a shark. Fincher never owned a soap company and he didn’t fight himself in some parking lot (okay, maybe he did, but the others are true).Most really talented creative writers have this locked down. I was hired to write Wireless as a political thriller. Since I’m neither American, the President of the United States nor a scientist who works for a secret division of the government (I’m not a terrorist either, just so you know) people assume that it must have been difficult to write. It was, to an extent. But that’s what books and libraries are for.

I rooted the story in what I knew and then built up the facts around it. We’ll see if it worked. I might have to try my hand at light sabres if this all blows up in my face.I’m also a pop culture junkie. I’m a little like one of the characters from Night Has Fallen; put me in front of the television and tune to Jeopardy and I’ll drive you insane. I pull a lot of facts and tidbits of useless information from everything around me, but as for stories… it’s hard to say.

Sometimes I decide on a style of story that I want to write and then work from there. I sat down one day and said to myself, man versus nature epic. Survival. I don’t know a lot about these things, but that was how Night Has Fallen started. I had a desire to know more and to write about it. Then I added depth and character by adding what I do know; a road trip. Friendships strained by the onset of responsibilities. Then I started filling in the blanks.

8. What would be your advice for aspiring authors or screenwriters?

Don’t talk about writing. Don’t tell people that you dream of one day becoming a novelist. Don’t tell people (ESPECIALLY me) that you’ve got a great idea for a movie, but you just haven’t gotten around to writing it yet. Just write. If there’s one thing that most aspiring writers have in common it’s that they just don’t work at their craft. There are a million excuses and reasons not to write—they’re always going to be there. If you want to do it, if you want to make a living at it and make it your profession, you have to put in an honest effort.

An hour a week isn’t an honest effort. Ten pages a month isn’t an honest effort. Writing for four hours a day, shutting out all the other distractions and working at it with all you’ve got—that’s an honest effort. All the books, the seminars, the pep talks, the advice, the groups, the workshops—they’re not going to help you if you don’t write.

9. Finally, why do you personally feel people should pick up your book or go and see your movies when they've been released?

Because I write with my audience in mind. My goal is to entertain. If I write a comedy, I want people to laugh. If I write a thriller, I want people to cling to the edge of their seats. If I write a book, I want to win the Man Book Prize (we all have to have dreams, right?)

I like to think that I have a fresh, distinct voice and that I’m brining something new to everyone gracious enough to take a look at my work. You’re going to have fun, and you’re going to react. What more could you want from a movie or a book? Plus, you’ll get to say you knew me before I wrote a summer blockbuster or a New York Times Bestseller. Hurry, there’s not much time!

Check US out here:

Can I Do That?

Can I Do That?

We talked to Emily Marguerite about her involvement in the National FFA Organization in this latest column Can I Do That? where we talk to people involved with some cool stuff! Read on to see what the FFA is all about and see if YOU want to get involved!

1. For those who don't know, can you explain what the National FFA Organization is all about?

The FFA use to be called the Future Farmers of America, and many people still know us as that. But in reality, we do much more than 'farm' activities, like the Parliamentary Procedure team I am on. FFA is all about leadership opportunities, they strive to make become much more than we are. And we need more true leaders in this world. We do everything from volunteer work, to presentations, to competitions. But it’s not all work-we have plenty of fun too!

2. How did you become involved?

I began eating in the 'ag room' two years ago. I was having problems with my soon to be ex-best friend. I found a room of an amazing people, and began to break out of my shell. Then a really close friend of mine, Addie, came to me freaking out about life in generally. She was overwhelmed with life-she just couldn't juggle sports, school, and FFA competitions. She begged me to take her place in Parly-Pro (Parliamentary Procedure), and I agreed. I actually joined a team before I joined the organization!

3. What are some accomplishments you've received being involved with FFA?

There are so many! I placed first in Agricultural Communication individually at the state level, my team placed second. That itself was an amazing achievement for a girl who only a year before could not public speak at all. At the New York State Fair, my team placed second in Nursery & Landscape, a competition that we had decided to enter in the night before! We were so excited, and we got to move onto the Big E (Also known as the Eastern conference, it is a fair for many eastern states)! We got 4th place at Big E, which was amazing, since we were competing against the best. I also received the Communication Award from my chapter. Recently, my chapter received the convention bid, meaning that we will hold the state convention at my school. It's such a big honor, and I was committee chairperson!

But really what I am proud of is how I've changed. I was literally the quietest person in my grade, and a one-person friend, until I joined. In only a couple of months I became a totally different person! I talk a lot more now, and I have the confidence I needed to do well in life. It’s all thanks to this amazing organization!

4. You visited Ireland last year with the FFA. How was that experience? What are some things you got to do and/or see?

Ireland was the most amazing thing in my entire life. I got back, and I just could not believe what I had done. We went to Blarney Castle (I got to kiss the stone!), several other castles, the Cliffs of Moor! The real thing for me though was how much I learned about the other people in the chapter, and the relationships that I built with them. And to see a culture so different from mine really opened my eyes. I realized that the United States isn't perfect- a huge step from the extremely nationalistic girl I use to be.

5. Why do you think this is something people should get involved with?

This organization is everything to me! It awoken in me the fact that I could be so much more, and I am amazed every day with what I can do and actually accomplish. I honestly think that everybody needs to get involved in something-whether it be FFA, FBLC, FCCLA or just a local organization like Art Club, Theater Club, or Magna Club. Life is about meeting people, and that’s impossible if you aren’t doing anything!

If you think you're involved with something cool, message us on myspace with the subject line: Can I Do That? and we'll get back to you if we're interested.

No Myspace? No worries!
Email here with the same subject:

To Write Love on Her Arms

To Write Love on Her Arms

I wrote To Write Love on Her Arms awhile ago for something else I had been involved in. By the time they got back to me, I was no longer working on the other project, but I had this instead. So here you are, some information about TWLOHA, a great organization, straight from them! Who supports them? If you don't know them, I honestly think you should give them a check very soon.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement that aims to present hope and find help for young people struggling with issues such as depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We exist to encourage, inform, and inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

Feel free to join a street team! info@twloha.comThe TWLOHA street team will be for those folks most interested in getting involved, people that want to help promote TWLOHA, and more importantly, want to be part of the solutions and conversations happening in their area and beyond.

The biggest misconception is that we sponsor the bands that wear our shirts. We do not sponsor them. Bands that wear our shirts believe in what we are doing and they have been a huge reason for our rapid growth and expansion.

If you are interested in wearing your shirts on stage or putting flyers out at your merch table then you can find them at our online store: You can post a banner on your MySpace, put TWLOHA in your Top Friends, post bulletins and blogs.

Most of all, take care of the people around you. Your friends and fans are family.


Interview: Oh, Hush!

Oh, Hush!

Oh, Hush! is a newer pop-rock band hailing from...well, we don't know actually...and the members consist of...okay, we don't know that either...however, we do know that the music is catchy and fun and a lot of people are digging it, including us! So go and check them the music...and wait until the band decides to tell you who they are!

1. Do you feel that this band is a way for you all too really connect with the fans about just the music?

From the very beginning we've made it one of our top priorities to connect with our fans. We try our best to answer every single message and comment we receive on myspace. Whenever we have any kind of major decision to make, we turn it over to our fans and ask them to help us decide! When we need art, we ask our fans to design it and vote for their faves! We've given many of our songs away for free to our fans! I know we say that Oh, Hush! is "all about the music" but I think we're every bit "all about the fans" as well!

2. Are there any plans to release an E.P. or an album in the near future?

LP all the way!! We are working on finishing up the album right now! We had initially hoped to release it in February but we really want to make sure we've got all killer and no filler on this album and want to do it right! I won't give an exact release date yet, but we're working hard on it!

3. If so, do you plan on releasing the music before or after you reveal your identities?

I can't say for sure. But if I had to guess, I would imagine we'd release the record and worry about revealing the band later. We haven't really developed any kind of major plan to reveal the band. I do know that we'd like to do it by playing the opening number at the VMAs in 2008 so we'll see if we can make that happen :-)

4. When did you start generating a lot of excitement on your Myspace page? Is there a particular reason why you believe this happened?

We put up a song at the end of July 2007 and almost immediately we started generating excitement on myspace. I think the reasons for the excitement are pretty simple. First and foremost, I think the songs are strong. If the music sucked, no one would care about anything else. So ultimately, it's about the music. I think the fact that we are very interactive with our fans and involve them in many of our activities as a band also has been a fundamental part of what's going on.

5. On your Myspace, the location is stated to be Atlanta, Georgia. Is this just a random place you picked to be your location or does member actually live there?

We like to move around the country a whole lot! We're currently in Cleveland, Ohio! There is some rhyme and reason to the locations we move around to.. but I can't tell you what that is. Cuz that would take all of the fun out of it!

6. Out of all the songs you've released so far, which one do you find to be your favorite? Which one do most of the fans seem to enjoy the most?

My personal fave songs are "My Neighbor Thinks I'm Famous" and "Shh.. I've Got A Secret." "Neighbor" is just a lot of fun! It's based on some semi-true stories and I had the song title about a year ago and knew that it would eventually make its way into a really fun song!! "Secret" is great because I'm able to sing along with one of the most talented singers I know!! The female vocal part in that song is really amazing!! I've never really done a true duet before so that was a lot of fun! The fans seem to be into "Going Down In Style" the most, which of course I really like as well. :-) I think that song really captures the vibe of Oh, Hush! and it kind of sums up the whole band in one song.>

7. You seem to do a great job on handling your Myspace page and replying back to people. Is the Myspace handled by one member or various members?

Most of the work is done by one person (and it's becoming almost a full-time job?!?!). But we do have other people involved in the project help out with various myspace activities. It's a lot of work but we think it's one of the most important parts of this band and is worth the time and effort!

8. Are there any plans to play a live show in 2008?

We're shooting for the VMAs in 2008!!

9. If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for?

Well since "world peace" is already taken, I think I'd just wish for a year of health and happiness for my family, my friends, my bandmates and myself! Success and money are overrated anyway!

By: Lauren and Keaton