Monday, January 4, 2021

Un-used Hootie single becomes cornerstone pop-country cut from band’s lead guitarist, Mark Bryan. Hear “A Little More Rock N Roll” now.

Two-time Grammy® winner’s new album “Midlife Priceless” arrives April 2nd. Read Bryan’s “5 Questions” Ditty TV interview, see song’s video here.

Mark Bryan as photographed by Kirk Robert.


About | “A Little More Rock N Roll”
“It was May of 2019,” Mark Bryan remembers. “Hootie was about to embark on our first U.S. tour in over ten years, and we had just made our first full-length album in over ten years. Capitol Nashville decided a single for country radio would give us the best shot at getting played.
“I immediately thought of my ridiculously talented friend, Steven Fiore from the band Young Mister. I’m a huge fan of the tunes that he writes for his band, but he also has this stealth ability to craft a perfect pop-country song. So I told him about the situation with Hootie, and Capitol, and he sent me the demo for ‘A Little More Rock N Roll.’
“I felt an immediate, nostalgic warmth when I heard it. Capitol sent us some other songs, including a gem Chris Stapleton had written, ‘Hold On,’ and there was no denying it was a solid choice, but I couldn’t get Steven’s song out of my head.
“In March of 2020, I started tracking for Midlife Priceless.  I laid a couple of 12-string guitar tracks down for ‘A Little More Rock N Roll,’ and it was already special.
“I had my friends Tim Nielsen (Bass), and Matt Zutell (Drums) come over, and I played lead, electric guitar as we tracked along with the 12-strings. I felt like I should add lap-steel to the track, to try and mix a little twang in with the rock ’n’ roll we were creating.
“We put it through a Leslie speaker cabinet, and it just put this sweet icing on everything. It started to sound like a single!”
Mark Bryan
Midlife Priceless
April 2, 2021
(Stone Point Records)

Track Listing:
01. Gotta Get Outta Town (2:49)
02. A Little More Rock N Roll (3:33) (STREAM | VIDEO | INTERVIEW)
03. Wanna Feel Something (3:16) (STREAM | VIDEO | INTERVIEW)
04. Let Your Soul Light Shine (3:26)
05. Takin’ A Ride (feat. Wyatt Durrette) (2:46)
06. Madelynn Claire (2:51)
07. I Like Your Everything (2:43)
08. Explain That To A Heart (3:23)
09. Like Make Believe (3:14)
10. Growing Wild (3:10)
11. Open Up Lucille (2:25)
12. Wishing (Acoustic) (2:46) (STREAM)


“Out of the ether,” Mark Bryan says of “Wanna Feel Something,” the first single from his upcoming new solo album Midlife Priceless (Stone Point Records, April 2nd, 2021), “I wrote the first line of the song, ‘Tonight we ride again, just like we did back when we were best friends and it would never end.’ I wasn’t doing it intentionally but I liked the way it sang. When I read it back I thought, ‘Holy shit!’ We were getting ready to go back on tour – maybe that’s what I was writing about.”
Read the full interview with Mark Bryan now at American Songwriter and stream the “Wanna Feel Something” single and video at the link below!
Mark Bryan | About
Midlife Priceless is the title of Hootie & The Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan’s fourth solo album.
It’s also how he rolls.
Three years since the release of Bryan’s previous record, a lot has happened: His 20 million-selling, two-time Grammy®-winning band got back together for a sold-out arena tour that meant as much to Bryan as it did to the fans that came out by the tens of thousands.
“Wanna Feel Something” is the new album’s first single for a reason.
Tonight we ride again
Just like we did back when
We were best friends, and it would never end
It’s right there.
Mark Bryan is about feeling something and making you feel something. The energy in the buildings around the country that rocked again with the songs that made Hootie one of the biggest-selling acts in music history, is all here on Midlife Priceless.
When Bryan gets to the guitar solo on “Wanna Feel Something,” it’s a done deal.
The album’s title draws a deep parallel, metaphorically, with a lyric from another of the record’s standout tunes, “Takin’ A Ride,” a duet with Wyatt Durrette, writer of the #1 single “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs and author of many of the Zac Brown Band’s hits.
“Die young as late as you can”
It’s a beautiful statement. It’s a mission statement.
“That line speaks to the point I am in my life and why I’m still making music,” Bryan says.
Even before Hootie got back together to be met with love-filled venues as if it were the 1990’s again, Bryan was living this way. Through good and bad – especially bad – he was connecting with his youth, wonder, curiosity, and joy.
As defined, “priceless” is something so precious that its value cannot be determined.
A record album has to provide value though, right?
One of the reasons that Bryan chose to lead up to the release of Midlife Priceless with a long string of singles is because so many moods and styles are represented. He thought to give ‘em a chance to shine on their own, in a different way than they do as a collection.
This might not be an auspicious plan for some artists, but Bryan’s track record dictates that he knows his way around a single, and this approach is another example of how Bryan is living midlife priceless.
Midlife Priceless, the fourth solo album by Hootie & The Blowfish guitaristMark Bryan arrives on April 2, 2021.
Mark Bryan | Links
Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion | Contact

Friday, December 18, 2020

Fredo Viola reflects on working with director Lulu Wang on his version of “Senza Di Te,” recorded for her award-winning film “The Farewell.”

 Viola’s “My New Head,” arrives April 9th; Neil Gaiman says, “It’s what pop music would sound like if it were made by unborn psychedelic ghosts.”

Fredo Viola as photographed by Nicholas Kahn
Fredo Viola | In The Press
“A rich musical palette... A cathedral of sound.” — Le Monde (France)
“Quite unlike anything else you will hear... It really is beautiful.” — The Guardian (UK)
“Multi-layered harmonies and rococo melodies.” — UNCUT (UK)
“A rich musical palette... A cathedral of sound.” — Le Monde (France)
“Cultured and popular, difficult and immediate, adventurous and comfortable.” — Ondarock (Italy)

“It was a thrill to hear my version of "Senza Di Te" played at the Golden Globe ® Awards when Awkwafina won,” exclaims Fredo Viola, the singer, songwriter, and multi-media artist whose musical  contribution to director Lulu Wang’s award-winning film “The Farewell” drew new attention to his acclaimed catalog of work earlier this year.
“I was so excited for the opportunity to work on the song, that I recorded a version before even getting hired,” he remembers. “I was thrilled to share it with Lulu, and she thought it was beautiful, but not exactly what she needed, so she was quite exacting and directed my vocal performance as if it were an acting performance. ‘More emotion, Fredo, I want you crying!,” she told me.
“I was also tasked to set up a studio session with a bunch of her friends and mine so we could morph the song into an actual karaoke session. Two hours and two bottles of tequila later, we had the conclusion of this recording, and very much like the film, it was a sad, joyful, and amazing experience.”
About | Fredo Viola | “In My Mouth” (Live Cluster Video)
Next up for Viola is his long-awaited new album My New Head, out April 9th, 2021. The album’s first single “Pine Birds” arrives on Jan. 15th, and now Viola has offered a sneak preview into song “In My Mouth” via one of his unique “cluster videos,” which he records live, presenting some unexpected challenges and surprises.
“The piano that rises up in the climax of the song was wildly difficult to play,” he says. “The final take was the first time, after an hour of practicing, that I was able to get through it without a mistake. To be honest, if it weren’t for COVID, I would probably have had professional pianist play it, but for these experimental live videos, awkwardness can only add character.
“Ultimately, I am quite proud to be using my own, more primitive playing, and it’s is extremely fun because you only have so much control, so lots of amazing surprises happen.”

My New Head magically manages to bring listeners so close to Viola’s inner workings in its mere 35 minutes, and “In My Mouth” shows him at his most vulnerable.
Viola sings, “And now I wanna take a little bit of you in my mouth. And now I wanna make a dream come over this house. I only started to take you into my heart. Because of pride my smile is purple orange, and it’s twisted in place, with barbs and lashes at the edges,  stretching open my face.”
“These lyrics are perhaps the most vulnerable and uncomfortably honest I’ve ever written,” he says. “All of this honesty, vulnerability and nakedness is very new to me.”
Fredo Viola
My New Head
April 9th, 2021
(Revolutionary Son)

Track Listing:
01. Demolition
02. Pine Birds
03. Waiting For Seth
04. Clouded Mirror
05. Black Box
06. Kick The Sick
07. Stars and Rainbows
08. Sunset Road
09. In My Mouth (CLUSTER VIDEO)
10. Edwin Vargas
11. My Secret Power
Fredo Viola | About
Ugly beauty. Euphoric and fabulous.
Fredo Viola’s masterpiece My New Head (Revolutionary Son, April 9th, 2021) begins with the old head being pulled apart.
The album opens with an introduction of Pavlovian bells ringing out from a jewelry box of fine cut rocks that represent the jagged edges of Viola’s mind. Brought to this renewed having overcome a five-year bout with Lyme disease, the music is filled with his feelings of gratitude, as well as the trepidation that comes with having to re-understand existence.
“Every bit of social, artistic and cultural framework that had kept me supported for so many years had come into question and I was beginning to build again from scratch,” he explains. “You will hear power tools pulling out old screws, hammering planks out of place; you can feel the rumbling vibration of a foundation ready to fall apart.”
Only “ready.”
Viola left the framing to build upon, fashioning and refurbishing, better than before. A new psychic home or at least the setting for a renewed life to unfold.
The influence of composer Kurt Weill looms lovingly over My New Head. His 1928 music for Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” meets at a modern intersection with the theatricality of Kate Bush’s catalog, and suddenly, we are inside a series of stories, not just an album of songs.
“I was obsessed with his music for years prior to writing this album,” Viola says of Weill. “All of it. The German works, the American Theater works. I love the twists and turns, the odd kinks that his music always has. He always wrote catchy melodic material but is not afraid of the ugly. Ugly beauty. It’s euphoric and fabulous.”
Viola began on the piano as a child and the music on My New Head emerged from those hands, through the keys, with a stop to pick up bits of his long-held affection for composers and pianists, Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten.
In particular, Britten’s operatic, orchestral, and chamber pieces haunt My New Head’s darker moments, and the friendship the two composers shared isn’t lost on Viola, as a component of the theme of re-birth that runs throughout the album.
“There’s that non-frilly, bare-bones intelligence to Shostakovich’s arrangements, especially in their first forms for voice and piano. Britten did exactly the same, and I was impressed by the fact that they would mail each other their song cycle works like pen pals,” Viola says.
My New Head is so densely layered -- even in its quiet moments -- that discussing what we aren’t hearing becomes as relevant as discussing what we are.
“Arrangements by soundtrack composers such as Maurice Jaubert, Maurice Jarre, Alex North and Ennio Morricone have a very unpretentious creativity that has inspired me so much,” Viola says. “These scores are sparkling, surprising and imaginative, yet simple. I was also inspired by the 70s jazz recordings by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The nakedness of the writing, the directness and warmth of the recordings... this was a sound I was going for. It’s one of the reasons why I pared the arrangements down so drastically.”
These sparse pieces are the rich soil that Viola describes as being “tended lovingly with the aim of growing a brand new head between my two shoulders,” hoping for listeners to “identify with the dense weedy patches, the prickly overgrowth, the momentous but fleeting discovery of a rare flower, and, beneath the surface, the ever churning and eternal earth worms.”
Ugly beauty. Euphoric and fabulous.
My New Head, the latest eternal and internal work of Fredo Viola, arrives on April 9th, 2021.
Fredo Viola | Links
Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion | Contact

Friday, December 11, 2020

Passing of close friend, Adam Schlesinger, moves fellow master songwriter, Mike Viola, to craft one of 2020’s most searing, soaring albums.

“Godmuffin,” out today, captures raw artistic impulse with precision, grace; See monster movie-themed video “Ordinary Girl” at Under The Radar.

Mike Viola as photographed by Silvia Grav
Mike Viola is a Grammy®-nominated producer, musician, songwriter and singer best known for his work with Panic! At The DiscoMandy MooreJenny LewisOndaraMatt Nathanson and Fall Out Boy. His original music has been featured on soundtracks for movies such as “That Thing You Do!, ”Get Him To The Greek,” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”
Viola’s latest album Godmuffin is out now via Good Morning Monkey / Grand Phony.
Mike Viola | “Ordinary Girl”
“It’s a girl power song,” Mike Viola tells American Songwriter in its premiere coverage of his single “Ordinary Girl.” “We all have superpowers. For me, the scariest thing out there in the world is blending in, disappearing into the status quo. This is like a John Hughes version of that concept.”

An obsessive monster movie fan, Viola continues the series he started with the video (see below) for “Drug Rug” (which co-stars Mandy Moore, and her swimming pool, alongside a hilarious turn as a vampire by Viola himself) with the video for “Ordinary Girl.”

With a team comprised of all women creators, including sisters and co-directors Kelsey and Rémy Bennett, alongside acclaimed 26-year-old photographer turned cinematographer, Silvia Grav, “Ordinary Girl” redefines power as we know it through the perspective of a horror obsessed suburban girl.
The video, shot like a short film, bears witness to the main character as she harnesses her transgressive creative gifts in a manifestation of self-reflection, exploration, and an otherworldly growth of inner strength that will break your heart just to see what it’s made of.
The lyric video for the song finds Viola in a real moment with his “monster thumb,” following his young daughter around the sidewalks of Los Angeles as he teaches her to roller skate.
Stereo Embers says, “While Springsteen’s songbook is filled with tracks told from the perspective of a guy who wants to get out of town, ‘Ordinary Girl’ might very well be the first song written from the point of view of a parent wishing the same for his children.”
Mike Viola
Out Now
(Good Morning Monkey / Grand Phony)
Streaming Link:

Track Listing:
01. USA Up All Night
02. Creeper (STREAM)
04. We May Never Be This Young Again (LYRIC VIDEO)
05. All You Can Eat
06. The Littles
07. Superkid 2, Trying To Do The Thing I Was Born To Do
08. Honorable Mention With Jam Show
09. People Pleaser, You’re The Man Of The House Now
10. Ordinary Girl (STREAM | VIDEO | LYRIC VIDEO)
11. That Seems Impossible Now

“Legend has it that vampires can’t expose themselves to sunlight, but Mike Viola begs to differ,” explains Rolling Stone in its coverage of Viola’s horror short for his latest single. “He’s a pool-lazing vampire in the new video for ‘Drug Rug,’ a track off his upcoming LP Godmuffin. Directed by Caitlin Gerard, the video opens with Viola lying on a float in Mandy Moore’s pool.
Viola channels his preternatural gift for directness and warmth into a celebration of youth,” BuzzBands.LA says it its premiere post of the song. Viola explains that the tune is “a look back at my icy days in NYC. This is an ode to my beloved classic rock, as well.”
Mike Viola | About

Music lives in Mike Viola. Shit, it’s his last name, right?
Godmuffin (Good Morning Monkey / Grand Phony, Dec. 11th) even opens with strings and man, do they tug.
“Don’t be afraid, no don’t be afraid / We still have time, we still have time / There’s so much I wanna do”
“I wrote ‘Creeper’ the morning I got the news my close friend died,” Viola says. “He was my age. Now he can’t make music. I still can. I can still spend my time looking for the secret cause, the next new song, even when it feels too late, ‘cause I still have time.”
Viola’s friend is the artistically immortal, Adam Schlesinger, to whom Viola will forever be publicly tied as the voice of his friend’s perfect, Oscar®-nominated pop song “That Thing You Do!”
At any other time, this association would be a fun fact. A bullet point in a career full of them. But right now it’s painful to listen to with Viola’s real-life tragedy in mind. Somehow, he makes it sound beautiful.
Godmuffin follows-up Viola’s 2018 album The American Egypt, and is his first return in over a decade to the more conventional rock and pop sound that he first broke through with as front man of Candy Butchers during that band’s string of major label records in the late-90s to mid-2000s.
Godmuffin was written and recorded alone in Viola’s home studio. He describes it as “11 songs about transformation” and Viola isn’t afraid to let you see.
“It’s youthful in the chances it takes,” he says. “It doesn’t give a fuck.”
In the face of fine-tuning everything into oblivion, Godmuffin is the least experimental-sounding experimental record you’ll hear this year. Viola records on half-inch tape and mixes on a vintage Auditronics console without the advantage of digital editing.
“The recording is linear, 'cause I can’t punch and fix things very easily, especially when I’m playing drums.  On the computer, you can repair all of your mistakes ‘til you sound perfect. Or even worse, tune or beat detective the life out of it. I prefer rock music that’s beautifully flawed.”
“It’s human,” he says.
“Only the dead get to heaven / Here on earth we just get lost”
Human it is.
Viola sings the chorus of the album’s first single “Drug Rug,” and it’s as if you’re listening to recently re-discovered dedications from a high school yearbook.
It’s not nostalgia, it’s time traveling written from the point of view of the graduated Viola, “who’s spent a lifetime doing windmills on Big Star guitars, slick with Todd Rundgren syrup hand-drawn from the tree.”
Elsewhere on Godmuffin, Viola sings about being a teenager (“USA Up All Night”), about being the father of teenagers (“The Littles,” “Ordinary Girl”), and even offers up a sequel (“Superkid 2, Trying To Do The Thing I Was Born To Do”) to a previously released song (“Superkid”) about being a teenager.
Youthful. Not giving a fuck.
Is there a time in our lives when we feel more invincible? Godmuffin is the sound of fearlessness.
Mike Viola | Links
Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion | Contact