Interview with Staynlis


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A Look into the Heart and Mind of Talya Solan of Yamma Ensemble

 Yamma Ensemble 1 with credit

 Can you tell us about your personal background and that of the band?

I am an independent musician, songwriter and producer based in Israel. I was born in Rehovot, known as the city of science, but my heart was deep in music. In my work, I'm attracted mostly to ancient times, tribal singing, sacred and secular Jewish chants, natural singing, and warm Middle Eastern sound with exotic flavors. I'm fascinated by the Hebrew language which is my mother tongue, but I have a special place in my heart to Ladino, the language of my grandmother and all the Sephardi Jews that were exiled from Spain in 1492. I established Yamma Ensemble in 2010, together with the greatest of musicians. We are all based in Israel. And Judaism is the main theme and guideline of Yamma Ensemble music work. We perform music of various Jewish diaspora - Hasidic, Babylonian, Sephardi, Yemenite alongside our own original music that we create under the influence of Jewish resources.

Was being a singer always your heart's desire? Were you particularly inspired by a song or band when you were younger?

I was passionate about being a singer since I was five years old, and dreamt and imagined being a singer every day of my life. I'm happy that I didn't know it would take so long to fulfill my dream. If I knew how demanding and long the process is, I would probably have quit my dream. Ofra Haza (an Israeli famous singer) was my model to whom I looked up to, as I loved her voice and delicate musical personality. Later on when I was a teenager, I discovered the greatest international vocalists all over the world and was influenced by other colors and styles of music.


Yamma Ensemble 7 credit redo


How did you assemble this group and what is your main objective in this band? Are you trying to give people a deeper revelation of God? of Israeli culture? Who is your primary target audience for your music?

As mentioned above, I established Yamma Ensemble six years ago with my musician friends. None of us manage a religious Jewish way of life, but of all us are connected in a way to our spiritual sources and traditions. We are fortunate to be living in a place that is rooted back in old times and carries such a tremendous history. I guess it affects us all in the spiritual aspect.

We are trying to work as a team, to create and share our huge love—to pass it on to everyone who might like it and enjoy it. We don’t direct to a specific audience, but music lovers. We try to stay true to the character of Middle East region in which we were born and raised, and we try to present our native landscape with Israeli character, and to perform mostly in Hebrew, our mother tongue.


I discovered on your website, that Yamma Ensemble likes to “explore the territory of free improvisation”. Does this approach to music require any specific schooling or training in Middle Eastern style, or is this something all the members of the band were raised up in and learned on their own?

Both. Yamma work reflects the variety and richness of cultures that exist in Israel; we mix east and west. A few members of Yamma are self-educated, and others are graduates of music schools.


What does Yamma mean?

The word Yamma has a few meanings:

Hebrew - toward the sea

Sanskrit (Hinduism) - “restraint” and "self-control", whether on the bodily or psychic level

Arabic - a fest

Yemenite - mother

And it also has meaning in Spanish (flame), Japanese (mountain) and other languages, but we didn’t choose this name knowing all that :-)


I noticed that there have been different players in Yamma Ensemble over the years. Is the core group Aviv Bahar, Ben Dagovitch, Yonnie Dror, and Avri Borochov, or do you alternate players as needed?

The core musicians are: Aviv Bahar, Yonnie Dror, and Avri Borochov. Unfortunately, sometimes musicians are not available so we have others that replace them.


What is your favorite song that you have ever written? And why?

I don't have a specific favorite song, but I do have a song running on my mind from time to time. And, it actually changes, so each period I have a different song in my head. As for the current period, “the swallows” is the one that runs through my mind. This song is from our new album that will be released in upcoming August.


Yamma Ensemble 3 me and avri3





What was your inspiration for writing "King David"? Do you typically write songs that are straight from scripture?

"King David” is a famous Israeli old song, especially well known to old people. And actually, we didn't plan to record it. We performed the song as a gesture to a very good friend named David Fraher who helped us a lot with spreading our music in America. Avri Borochov, our double bass player, rearranged it beautifully (put it in a special new rhythm of 9/8), and we recorded it as a special gift to David specifically. We even didn’t plan to upload it to YouTube. David did so, and surprisingly, it received so many views. That’s funny.


Name one person that you have encountered over the years that has impacted your life in a major way. Tell us about it.

My vocal coach, Mrs. Rachel Hochman. I feel myself privileged that Mrs. Rachel Hochman, Israel's greatest voice production teacher, accepted me and became my voice coach, as I have been working with her for more than fifteen years now. She is the best teacher, because she teaches not only voice and breathing techniques, but she coaches me on a journey—on my inner Tao. She taught me, among other things, that sincerity is the most important one in an artist’s life, and that I need to understand myself.

I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to sing, but I did not know what. I was at that time raw material. It is a false myth that one can become an instant star. And she helped me with this process. With her guidance, I realized that as a teenager, I was more screaming than singing. She taught me to be controlled, civilized, and how to build up a performance. She has had the greatest influence on my musical personality.

Thanks to her, I have experienced various music styles like pop, musicals, jazz, blues, even classic. She directed me toward this beautiful musical heritage, and also emphasized that the oud is very suitable to my voice. Oud is my favorite instrument, as its sound goes straight to the heart. It is emotional; one feels the desert, the earth—everything. The oud is considered the piano of the Middle-East, because it best reflects the musical traditions of this region.


Your voice stands out as being almost sultry but without the sensuality, clean but alluring. What kind of background do you have as a singer? And how did you get started?

 Until 10 years ago, I worked full time as a researcher for TV and media productions. The music had a smaller place in my day, as I had not performed professionally. Since then, I am mainly focusing on music, however I still work from time to time in researching, when an interesting suggestion appears.

 I studied at the Tel Aviv University, but I did not take any operatic studies there—though I studied the theory of music. In parallel, I took private classes with Mrs. Rachel Hochman.

 I am the only musician in the family. When I was a teenager I wished to become a pop singer. Now it is totally different. I am very happy with the choice I have made, as the music I am singing now is true to my real self.


 Is your music mostly a traditional sound or is there some contemporary mixed in?

Yamma music is a mix of traditional music and original contemporary music. Our new album, “basket full of stars”, mostly reflects this tendency about us. I was quite sure our second album would be our original creation, however we couldn’t miss a few great songs from Jewish traditions, because we had so many requests to include those songs in our new album. We have eight songs in total:  five are our own contemporary creation and three from Jewish traditions (Jews of Yemen, Sephardi Jews and Hasidic Jews).

I like very much to sing in Hebrew, original and traditional music. And I write poetry in Hebrew.

The ancient biblical text of the Psalms or the Song of Songs inspires me a lot. I have read the Song of Songs more than thousand times, but its metaphorical nature still does not fail to fascinate and inspire me. The reason I choose those biblical texts is the beauty of the language. I am not religious and my music is not targeted to a specific audience, but to all music lovers.


Some of your songs have subtitles (and apparently) others do not. Your song “The Secret”, sounds like it has depth to it, and comes across as being serious. May I ask what you are singing about in this song?

This song I wrote to a composition of Aviv Bahar (our strings player who composes a lot of our music). He actually brought me the composition with the first phrase of text. It’s a text from the poetry of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the Persian poet. I loved this direction and kept on with the spirit of the two first lines, and wrote my own text with the inspiration of Rumi. This song (which I find difficult to translate) is about the divine spark of living that each one of us carries. Here is the translation of the first phrase:

It is hidden in my heart and my heart is hidden in it

Is hidden in my soul, and my soul is hidden in it

I know from ancient times the greatness and the magic of it

From the beginning of life and even before, the pulse of life is inside of me.



Considering historical Judaism may be seen as a patriarchal religious system, is there any criticism of you being a female lead singer? Or are you wholly received and accepted as such?

 My lifestyle is secular, however I am attracted to tradition and Jewish resources. I’ve never performed my music in front of orthodox Jews. I don’t think it’s possible according to the strict restricted rules of Orthodox life.


What is the spiritual climate like in Israel? Is it growing closer to God? And how would you measure this?

 Israeli is relatively a young country (only 68 years old). It’s a country of immigrants. There are so many colors and lifestyles, varieties of religions and religious movements. Holy places attract not only religious people, but tourists and secular people, because of their special spirit.


Out of all the places that you have played, do you have a favorite memory of one particular location?

I enjoy all places, and each one of them has its special character. I get connected to a place much more when I have the opportunity to stay in for a week and learn the atmosphere, and the people. I had a wonderful, unforgettable week at Hill City (near Mt. Rushmore), in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I also had a fascinating week in Haapavesi, Finland. Link to photo in Hill City - my FB page


Yamma Ensemble 4 with credit


I discovered that you recently performed at the National Philharmonic in Kiev, Ukraine. This was a special concert for the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Israel. Clearly, music is a powerful medium. What do you feel that this concert did to improve relations?

It was indeed a moving experience, full of magic and fascinating moments. At Kiev concert, we were lucky to collaborate with a local orchestra named Ridni Naspivy, which is actually a folk instruments ensemble. So we were able to enjoy new musical instruments that we've never heard and seen before. The cliché that music is a bridge, was completely experienced by both sides. It was a huge pleasure and we deeply wish to repeat this pleasant experience.


I noticed that your band does workshops and interactive concerts. What has been your experience with this?

It’s always a pleasure sharing.


What type of workshops do you offer?

Typical Middle Eastern instruments & rhythms, Jewish music of Diasporas, early Hebrew national style (the birth of Israeli music style), and Jewish Sephardic music.


What are your long term goals, hopes or aspirations with this band?

To have a successful release of our new and upcoming second album “basket full of stars”, as well as to keep on performing, reaching new audiences and new places—to expand our abilities, develop each one of us as a musician and person, as well as together as a group and collaborators. To keep involved in the creation process, record new music, and spread the good vibration that music creates inside of us to others.


You've been at it awhile. Have any advice for those that are just starting out in music?

Believe that everything is possible—and be highly targeted, dedicated and consistent. Never spend a day without doing something (even tiny and little) for your dream. Sometimes we tend to be critical and hard on ourselves. It is essential to let it be free—art must be released and free. The whole path and way must be enjoyable and just as fun as the achievements.



Yamma Ensemble 5 with credit


 What is your favorite characteristic of God?

For me, the idea of God is philosophical. I don’t think God belongs to the religious only. God is inside of us, and outside of us. God for me, can be a spiritual guiding entity; it can come from inside of me—the guiding, or from the external world. God is music, God is everything. The spirit of creation, of life, of being.


If you could tell an American who reads, believes and desires to follow God's Word one thing from a Hebrew perspective what would it be?

Let’s keep on the “Tikkun Olam”. Tikkun Olam literally means "repair of the world”. It’s an old Hebrew term from old times (Mishnaic period)—medieval times.

We should be responsible not only for our own moral, spiritual, and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large.



FB page -    Be nice and give us a “Like” :-)

Website -


Next concert:

July 16 - Yamma trio - Halland Sweden

July 19 - Yamma trio - Neuberghska Sweden

July 20 - Yamma trio - Slottskogen Sweden

July 21 - Yamma trio - Unnaryd Sweden

August 17 - Yamma quartet - Edinburgh, UK

November 4 -Yamma quartet - Brugg, Switzerland

November 5 -Yamma quartet - Treibhaus, Innsbruck, Austria

November 15-Yamma quartet - Munich, Germany





UCB Contributors:  Katy Collins, Jamie Naughton, Bill Shryock, and Cory Enderby

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An Interview with Adam Cotton of Sacred

Who all makes up the band and how did it form?

Adam Cotton (me) on vocals. Hanna Cotton on guitar and harmony. Jessika Hickman on bass and her husband, John, on drums. Wayne Pinkerton on guitar.

I placed an ad on Craigslist looking for people who wanted to play some music I had written. Jessika replied and was on board immediately. Upon hearing the music his wife was involved with, John joined the band. Who better to trust with the task of rhythm guitar and harmonies than someone I had been playing music with for a long time, my sister. We replaced another guitarist with Wayne, a musician from John and Jessika’s church.



Is there any special meaning behind the name of the band and the album?

Part of the definition of the word “Sacred” is “set apart.” We felt like we were set apart from most of the music being put out today. We also wanted a name that wouldn’t confuse people with what we sound like. A lot of time we hear band names and immediately picture a sound, we know people aren’t going to hear our name and picture music similar to ours, but they won’t picture country or pop either.

The album title actually came about while trying to come up with the band name. It fit perfectly with what the album means and is trying to accomplish. Starting with the first song “Ashes”, it goes through adversities, struggles, and changes in life until it ends with the “Antidote” (Ascension).



So I’ve been jamming Ashes to Ascension like crazy. At this point, it has by vote for Alternative Metal album of the year. How long did it take you guys to write it?

Thank you so much! I am very happy to hear that you enjoy it. It would be amazing just to be nominated (laughs).

I spent about 4 years total writing it. However, it was 7 years from the first rift to the physical album.



Does one person do most of the writing or is it mostly collaboration between all artists?

For Ashes to Ascension, I wrote all of the lyrics and music. However, for the next album, there will definitely be some collaboration.


Adam Cotton

Adam Cotton (pictured above)


It seems like sometimes bands put out a debut album but then on the next one their sound changes. Do you see your sound evolving into something different on the next album?

A lot of bands’ second album actually defines their sound. I’m hoping our first album defines our sound and we have to try and top it with the second. I spent so long honing a style and sound that we should be able to stay within that for the foreseeable future. We actually began working on the next album this year.



Weakness is an amazing song. Can you explain what inspired you to write that song?

I witnessed some friends of mine going through struggles in life that could have been remedied quickly, and they chose the easy way and ended up suffering longer for it. To me it seemed like a decision made out of “weakness.”



The guitars and bass are a really dominant feature in your music. What sort of effects do you use to make your guitars sound that way?

I could sound all tech-savvy and talk about the pick-ups I used and throw out some brand names, but that’s boring! I love a little flanger; and some chorus and delay go a long way. I used a grungier Marshall type sound for one guitar, and a much heavier, deeper metal sound for the other. For the bass, I scooped mids and added some overdrive. I used pretty much the same effects for all three guitars. We don’t really have a lead guitar; the lead position actually switches between all three guitars, that’s what gives it that full sound. Since recording, we have accumulated more gear, and refined our sound more. I think our live mix is now better than the recording. I am so happy with it!



Another song that’s really intriguing is Ibogaine. What’s that one about?

Cory, we’ll have to save that question for another interview.



I saw that your band played at Potential Church in Florida. Is that your home church?

Yes! I love it there, check us out at



It seems like Florida is putting out a lot of great bands. What is your local scene like?

Not trying to step on any toes, but it is very hard trying to be a Christian rock band in Pensacola. It’s hard to find balance with other bands, considering what’s trending here is Screamo and Country.




Are you planning on doing any touring in the near future?

We are trying to plan a tour, but we are having trouble finding shows. We are not currently in touch with any bands that we can tour with.



How have you seen your music impact people so far?

Oddly enough, I haven’t. My bandmates and friends have seen our music have a positive effect on people though. For instance, after listening to our album a woman felt compelled to work on her relationship with God.



Sacred has been compared to bands such as Chevelle and Tool. What would you say makes you different than those bands?

Chevelle and Tool have vastly different styles, and sounds, and we feel we are a mesh of the two. This makes us sound somewhat like both but completely like neither. Besides the musical difference, our lyrics are what really set us apart.



What do you want to accomplish as a band?

We want to help bring a positive change in mainstream music and bring people closer to God.


Sacred Ashes to Ascension


Any plans for a music video in the future?

We all really want to make a video but we are waiting on the right equipment and opportunity to do so.



How important is faith in Jesus to your band?

My band feels the same way I do, faith is the only reason I started this and have continued to pursue it. Faith would also be the only reason to leave it all behind if I felt the nudge from God to do so.



Closing thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I am inspired and moved by the work you are doing in the Christian community.


Interview Date:  November 2013

Interviewers:  Cory Enderby/ Milo Miller


Sacred Facebook Page

Sacred Twitter




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An Interview with Jared Shotwell of Loud Bird

Jared Shotwell

by Cory Enderby



Every now and then (rarely), I discover a band that sends shockwaves through the Christian musical spectrum by being different and going totally against the flow. Jared Shotwell of Loud Bird has done just that. His musical genius can be heard on his debut EP titled Tree. I was able to get an interview with him to get a better picture of the man behind the music. Check it out.


What made you decide to get into music?

I can't really remember a time when I didn't love music, which I guess isn't that unique. But when I was younger I tried a lot of different things like sports, skateboarding, drawing cartoons, acting etc... Music was the one that came the most naturally and the only thing I've ever been consistently into.

I found your record on Noisetrade and it's so different. I'm really enjoying it. How has the buzz been about this album?

Thank you for checking it out! To be honest, there really isn't any buzz at all. Haha! Which i guess isn't very cool, but I'm happy to say that it doesn't really bother me.

Are you the sole writer in Loud Bird or do you collaborate with other artists?

I'm actually kind of the only member. I wrote the songs and then had some friends come in a play bass and guitar.

Your music sounds a lot like the 80's/90's period in music, and is easily as good as some of the best of that time. How influential are those years to you as an artist, or are they even at all?

I'm so glad someone has noticed this, and I appreciate the compliment! It gets old having to explain to people that the vocals are not supposed to be clear or up front in the mix. I love a lot of different kinds of music, but probably listen mostly to underground artists from that era or that sound. Sonic youth, My Bloody Valentine, yo la tengo, blonde redhead, etc...

It seems like your music has several layers of instrumentation, which gives it a rich and interesting texture. When you write music, do you usually start with lyrics or composing the music parts first?

I start with the music first. The only instrument I play is drums and percussion. So my process is kind of backwards. A lot of times I just start with a drum part and then layer everything else on top of that.

It's hard because every one is really good, but I’m thinking my favorite song on Tree is Tired. Tell us about how that one came to be and what it's about.

When I wrote tired, i was feeling very pressured to perform a certain way in order to feel loved by God. Then I was reminded that God already loves me and has chosen me. Christ already paid for my sin. My works are to be out of gratitude and love. Not fear.


On this record, was there any track that you personally felt strongest about creating?

Hmm... Probably people. It's just a very honest statement about how so many people go through life dead, and they don't even know it. After being shaken awake by God's love, I couldn't imagine going back to that life of slavery.


Have you learned anything from making this record that you could share with aspiring artists to help them make better music?

I think in a lot of situations an artist has to worry about what listeners want in a song. When I do Loud Bird,  I think about what I want to hear in my songs. I don't worry about other people thinking it doesn't sound "professional." I just go for it. None of the bands I love have good singers, and I think that's awesome. I intentionally left imperfections because when I listen to my favorite bands, the wrong notes or other flaws become a part of the art. A piece of history, captured in time. I'm not sure where the perfectionism came into art. I don't think art should be perfect. Unless the artist is God himself. But even his perfect word doesn't leave out human imperfection. Now, I'm not saying don't strive for excellence... Just don't beat yourself up when it turns out you're still human. And don't be afraid to do something crazy.

What would you say is the best and worst part of being an independent band?

The best part is that I can literally do whatever I want. The worst part is just kind of feeling like I'm on my own sometimes. A little too independent. Ha.


What do you enjoy doing outside of music?

Running, watching movies and tv with my wife, being around friends and family. Taking naps.

What can we expect to see or hear from Loud Bird in the future? A new record or possibly a music video?

Definitely a lot of music. I'm just going to keep crankin em out as my time allows.

How important is faith in Jesus Christ to you?

It is the absolute number one most important thing ever. Of all time. But seriously, without faith in Jesus, I'm completely hopeless. And so is anyone else, whether they know it or not.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. My readers and I appreciate it! Any closing thoughts?

If anyone likes my music, send me an email or something! You can find my info at


Interview Date:  November 2013




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Laws of Average Interview

Laws Of Average Collage

Not only do Laws of Average rock, but they also a really nice group of guys that have their hearts really set on trying to impact this world with their music. They have a pretty intense story about how they came together and once you get a bead on who they are, you just can't help but support them. I recently had the chance to interview this up and coming band and I strongly encourage everyone to get behind them. They released one album already called Sickness I Have and are in the studio putting the next one together. Here is the interview below:



How long has LOA been together and how did you guys form?


Brett Gerringer (Guitarist) and I (Johnson Bissell, Vocalist) met while attending high school (1999) in South Carolina. We mostly played in other groups off and on, but came together in 2002 to form the band “From Ink to Blood”. In 2005 Brett got a job in Washington, DC and had to leave the band soon after the band broke up. It just so happens that in 2010 I moved up to the same area that Brett was living in at which point we started writing and preforming together again. The bass and drum position was kind of a revolving door for us, nothing really finding just the right fit. But, earlier this year we picked up Tim Caracciolo on the Bass and Matt McNeely on the Drums. The first time all four of us jammed together, we wrote three new songs… It just kind of clicked!


Is there a principal songwriter in the band or do all members contribute?


Well, with the last album “Sickness I Have” EP and up to now, the music has been written by Brett and I. though currently, we are writing some new songs which the writing process kind of unfolds differently depending on whose in the room.


So are you guys pretty stoked to open up for Taproot on this upcoming tour?


We are riddled with glee to get to be on the bill with them. It’s one of those groups you grew up listening to. These guys are out there rocking crowds still every night bringing down the house and we get to share the stage with them.


How did you get connected with them?


We got connected through our new booking agent (James Coffey) over at Scream City Productions.


What it’s like to work with Scream City Productions?


It’s been quite the blessing. We are new to the company and to having someone doing the booking for us is awesome. It’s kind of weird though letting go of the reins, because we are so use to doing everything ourselves. But, at some point you need that heavy hitter to get you on those festivals and venues that never return your calls unless you have representation.


I've been following you for a while now on Reverbnation. I've noticed that lately it seems like things are really starting to pick up speed for you as a band. Do you guys feel the same way?


Time will tell… We hope so! But, our main focus right now is putting on the best shows we possibly can and give the people something special when they come out to see us. We hope with these next few shows and with the other great things coming this year, we continue to just grow our audience, because in a nutshell that is what matters. We love the live experience and to interact with our new fans. 2014 should be quite the epic year if lord willing our hard work continues to lead us down the path we seem to currently be on.


What would you say is the band's main goal to accomplish in the music industry?




I understand that you have one record done called Sickness I Have. Any plans on another album in the near future?


Yes. We are currently rumbling secretly in the lab right now writing new stuff. Right now though, we are just touring and promoting the “Sickness I have” EP. We feel it’s an honest record and deserves it’s time to shine. Now, if you come to our live shows, you'll hear some new stuff we are working on. So really, it comes back to you just got to come see us live. Haha….. Seriously, come see us live!


One of your songs that really intrigues me is Lonely. Can you tell me a little about what that song means?


It’s about a girl (like most songs), heartbreak, and all things surrounding me at that time. When you hear the lyrics like “now I live inside my car”, that’s just it, I was living in my car! When you hear things like “she is still dying to be cut”, this person I love was fighting sickness which told her hurting herself relieves pain. The actual original name of the song was “CUTTER”, but the record label wasn’t too happy about it, so we changed it. That song has a special meaning with me, as it is basically a timeline of my life back in 2011.


What song that you've written do you think has the most impact on people?


Hmmm… It’s tough to say. Different folks relate to different songs on the record. Some people gravitate to the song “Inside” being their favorite. Some people relate more in their own lives to songs like “Nailz” or “Ya Lie”, just like you have expressed interest in “Lonely” aka “Cutter”. This is one of the coolest things about the record. Lots of people float towards different songs depending. I look at the whole “Sickness I Have” EP just as a report of a human being.


What song does LOA enjoy playing most live?


Probably “Ya Lie”, because it is the one that the crowd is usually singing back to us, plus it features a long guitar solo that our guitarist Brett always looks forward to playing. In addition, we got some new ones which we really like playing as well. That is why it’s so important for everyone to check out our website frequently to see what is new or find out when we are close to you to come see us live. We will give you every ounce of energy we got to make sure when we are done, u feel like you have seen something special.


What is the music scene like locally where you live?


Well, we are from different spots. Originally Brett and I are from Charleston, SC which has a very rich history of music of all types delivering straight hard rock to backyard country. Locally it’s kind of dead unless you want to hear many different covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Here in the Washington, DC and Baltimore region it’s kind of leading in the new wave rock that is current that week. Locally, all styles, national acts, and cut throat musicians arriving and departing daily.


What does the band enjoy doing outside of the music?


Work our normal jobs and do just normal guy stuff, really i.e. Sports Cars, Football, Hockey, and just hanging out with friends & family.


How important is faith in Jesus Christ to LOA?


This is where I was coming from with this whole sickness I have record, the record itself deals with trusting God and Jesus despite the traps the enemy sets for us. This group in its inception was based upon this faith, we've lost people who we love while making this music....sometimes we suffered setbacks which would brake lots and lots of groups but thru the faith in our lord Jesus, in knowing his love and knowing that we hurt down here because it’s our job to get past that hurt and show how great he is. It’s about trusting the ever living God and understanding how spiritual warfare works. Thanking God is the best way to begin. We take so many things for granted around us and our lord loves when you notice the wonder of his creation. There is so much good to love and fight for in this world, and of course you got the other side which is the enemy of the true light, we don't fear the enemy over here......we are not scared of anything but our of father above us. It’s thru him we breath every’s thru him our gifts lift us up to continue to glorify his greater purpose and to be committed to being a piece of this purpose is the ultimate bliss.


Do you have any final words you would like to share with your readers?


Please check us out at   where we can update you on the goings on with the groups as they go down. Hit us up with likes check out our twitter and youtube channels. Look out for us on youtube here soon we are going to really be putting on some entertaining things only like we could up there real soon. It’s going to be bonkers. If you are interested in purchasing the record you could get it at


We love our fans.....keep your eyes open for us.....and keep your eyes open in general folks christian underground we got to stick together in these times especially. We need to drop the divisions as christians which divided us in the past and come together under one universal truth of love for one another, showing this unwavering love which Christ taught us will wake more folks up to the greatness of the good news of Christ. It begins with love. Come see us live and become part of the laws of average family which grows by the hour. Thanks to all who are supporting us we love you.


Interviewer:  Cory Enderby (2013)








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My Cat Puddinhead - Interview

My Cat Puddinhead Interview w/ Derek Close


An interview with Derek Close, bassist for My Cat Puddinhead


 Derek Close (Pictured Above)


So what years were you officially active as a band and how did you guys form?

  • I think the total run was '93 to '96. Maybe '97? The two Mikes and Tony started the project and I'm not sure how they all got together. They had a bass player but things didn't work out. I had done some casual jamming with Mike Young a year or so before and he called me up and asked if I could fill in for an upcoming gig. During this time, the band I was playing with fell apart so I joined on as Puddinhead's bassist. I came in late '93 and was with them until June '94.

Who all was in the band?

  • Mike Blake: Vocals, Lead/Rhythm Guitar

  • Mike Young: Drums

  • Tony Benedetti: Lead/Rhythm Guitar

  • Derek Close: Bass (until June '94)

  • Jeremy Christopherson: Bass (June/July '94 on)

Do you still keep in touch? And if so, what is everyone doing now?

  • I've lost touch with the guys over the years. I haven't heard what Mike Young and Tony are up to these days. Mike Blake went on to play with Grammatrain for a bit then he and Paul Roraback joined forces and formed Gideon's Press which then became The Illustrated Band. I'm not sure what he's doing now but I'd be willing to bet it involves music.

So did you guys put out one album or do you have other recordings?

  • There are 2 Puddinhead recordings. The Self-Titled cassette and the CD that I've heard referred to as For Sale by Owner.

Where did you record it?

  • The first album was recorded at Creation Studios in Everett, WA. I was no longer in the band for the 2nd release but I do have a copy of it. It was recorded at Audio Genesis Studios.

You guys have a really interesting sound. Kind of hard to pin down. It seems like it combines elements of many of the grunge sounds of the 90's. Did one person do the writing or was it more collaborative?

  • Mike Blake was the principal writer. He'd come in with a song, or idea and we'd jam on it until it was complete. Each member would play along constructing our parts, throw in ideas for nuance or punch or the like. It worked for us and usually went really smooth.

My personal favorite is Finger. Did you guys have a song off the album that you liked to play most?

  • Wow. That's a tough question. I don't know about the other guys, but I really enjoyed most of the songs we played. I think it would be safe to say that we enjoyed the music we played and we enjoyed playing together.

What did most people seem to enjoy hearing live?

  • Another tough question. I don't recall any specific song that people seemed to like most live or were drawn to. The feedback we did get was positive. At this time we were a young, unheard of band swimming in a sea of unknowns. So most shows we played were for people hearing us for the first time.

What was your favorite?

  • If I had to pick one it would either be Sick or Kinda-Bent.

Describe a My Cat Puddinhead show for us who never got to see you play live?
  • We played a lot of small clubs in Seattle so most shows where just us playing under whatever houselights the venue had. It would be pretty typical, four guys rocking with some fog or smoke with a little banter between songs. We didn't have any signature moves or choreographed “dance” steps or the like. We got up, played our songs then usually watched the next band or two.




I know Sub Pop was one of the big labels around that time. Were you ever approached by any labels?

  • None that I know of. Again, we were just getting our feet wet and starting to build a fan base. I didn't hear of any labels approaching them after I had departed.

Did you ever share the stage with some of the grunge icons of the past?

  • Unfortunately not. We did do a couple of shows with Soulfood '76. They were really good and lasted longer than Puddinhead did.

What bands did you guys play with?

  • I can't remember the names as most of them were unknowns also. Plus it's only been about 20 years. Besides Soulfood '76, there was Bucket, one called Mama, and another called Clutch or some kind of car part. I remember Chump, too.

What was it like being a part of that scene back in the day? I mean you were so close to where it all happened.

  • The music scene was pretty nuts in Seattle. You had Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana who were hometown heroes and all eyes were on Seattle. Everybody was hoping to be discovered so vying for attention was pretty difficult. It was hard to even get a good slot to play in. We did a lot of late night shows that were on the mid-week schedule. And a lot of those were in between 3 or 4 other bands that were scheduled for that night.


My Cat Puddinhead


Do you ever think that if you stuck it out for another album or two you might have been a part of that success?

  • I've always thought that Puddinhead had a real shot of being able to break through. Even after I left the band I expected them to go further than they did. As I mentioned before, they did release a 2nd album that got fair reviews and a good reception from the established fan base. I picked up a copy, too. I think if they gave it more time they could have gone further.

How important was faith in Jesus to My Cat Puddinhead?

  • Extremely! We were all believers, attended the same church and played on the Worship Team. As any believer knows, our walk with Christ is an every day, every moment thing. He is a part of you and not something you can pick up or set down at leisure. God is nn my mind the majority of the time.

Do you have any final words you would like to say to your readers?

  • Thanks for your interest in My Cat Puddinhead. Finding out that people are still listening to and/or just discovering something you had a hand in is pretty cool. It was fun taking a walk down Memory Lane!


Music Page



Interviewer:  Cory Enderby

Interview date:  July 30, 2013 





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