Namaste & Conversation : Interviews With Kenny G and David Benoit, Plus Downtown Struts and Sara Jackson-Holman Exclusives


A Conversation With Kenny G

Mike Ragogna: Kenny, how did your recording an album with Rahul Sharma come about?

Kenny G: Well, I was down in India doing a show at a hotel, which is always a fun thing to do on the road because you can just go from your hotel room to the venue downstairs. (laughs) After I finished the gig, I was back in my room and the phone rang. It was actually a guy that had just attended the gig. I'm still not sure how he got my room number, but I wasn't upset about it or anything. He wanted me to come and meet him because he's a Santoor player and wanted to play some things with me. I had never been in India before, so I thought I would go ahead and take the chance. I went down and met him and played with him a bit. After that, I told him he should just email me some of his music, and we'd see what happened. So he did, and I found his music very interesting so I started adding my sax. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden we had a CD.

MR: Were you surprised by how well these two instruments blended?

KG: Yeah, absolutely. His songwriting is definitely different than anything I've played on before. I mean, he comes from the other side of the world with a completely different instrument that plays tones that are not quite on my scale. So, to blend the two was challenging, but also very exciting.

MR: Did you take away anything from this experience that may influence the way that you play in the future?

KG: Well, I don't know. Maybe the biggest thing that I've learned musically is that anything is possible. Things can work when maybe they don't seem like they can. It also forced me to be open to new things. The basic concept of the album was to show that two guys from opposite ends of the world can meld their types of music together. I mean, we did this whole album via uploading and downloading material and using all of the modern technology that's out there. It opened my eyes to the fact that I could do this same thing with a guy in China and try doing some Chinese music.

MR: And you're no stranger to that part of the world either.

KG: Not to China, no. I go there at least once a year and I spend time in Asia at least twice a year. I've been doing that for over 25 years and I've done some great stuff collaborating with some Chinese singers and musicians. There are a couple of songs that I've done there that are super-famous in China that nobody would know here. When I'm there, they get very excited and beg me to play those songs. (laughs) It's really fun.

MR: Here in the States, you're known for big hits like "Silhouette," "Songbird," and "Don't Make Me Wait For Love," but abroad, don't you have almost an entirely different kind of following?

KG: Yes, mainly in Asia. There are a few countries that, for whatever reason, really enjoy listening to my music. Other than Asia, I've gone to Brazil and Mexico and they also really enjoy my music. In Europe, it would probably be Holland and Spain where I have the biggest following, and it isn't until recently that I started visiting more of the eastern European countries like Romania and Russia. That part of the world has really started to open up to me. It's quite a bit of fun. People discover your music at different times in your career.

MR: Are you ever surprised by the response?

KG: Well, I don't want to sound like I expect it, but I have been doing this a long time. I've been performing since I was in high school, so I've seen people react to my music and my playing. I'm always appreciative when people like the music, but I'm not shocked. Luckily--and I say this in the most humble way--I've played these songs and people have reacted in a positive way so if I continue playing music, I am very appreciative that people continue to react positively. But I wouldn't say I'm ever surprised by the reaction, just very appreciative of it.

MR: Now, getting to your new album Namaste, there is a remix of the title track that was done by Kid Tricky. Did you work with him directly on that?

KG: No, I didn't. That's one of those situations where I play the music and mix it the way that I envision it sounding, and then comes the business of trying to put the music out there. So, in that regard, you try to expose the music to a lot of different areas and you do remixes and such to expose the music to different arenas. I don't know much about that, it's not my area of expertise. I kind of let those who know about that and thought it was a good idea to pursue that. I don't think too much on the remixes. I don't love them, but I don't dislike them. In my mind, those are there to serve a purpose.

MR: Kenny, what is one of your favorite songs from this project?

KG: Well, I like the last track, which is called, "Transcendental Consciousness," because it's very cool. It's unexpected when a voice comes in and starts speaking. I don't know what the words translate to exactly, but I love the way it all sounds.

MR: Did you find that there was a learning curve for this project, like maybe with the Santoor?

KG: Not really, though I did learn a lot from Rahul showing me how the instrument works and hearing the sounds of it. He would usually just send me songs the way that he played them, then we'd talk about some of the songs and where I would best blend in. Basically, I just learned through working with him.

MR: Was he familiar with your material when you first met?

KG: Yes, he was familiar with my material, but I wasn't familiar with any of his. But I did Google him and found out that he was a legitimate musician from a family of musicians. I believe his father played the same instrument, so it's been in his family for a while now. It sounded very cool to me to be able to play with him and to see if there was anything that we could do together that would mesh well. It had to be rooted in my sound. I mean, I didn't want to just lose myself in his music. I'm also sure that he didn't want me to overshadow what he was doing, so we had to find a very nice balance.

MR: Speaking of collaborations, you've played with artists like Andrea Bocelli, the late Whitney Houston, Aaron Neville, Toni Braxton, and Natalie Cole. I imagine that oftentimes, they've already recorded a great deal of their songs, and you come in later and weave yourself almost seamlessly into those songs. Is there a process you use when you work on projects like that?

KG: No, there's no process. I just put the song on in my studio, set up my microphone, and dissect the song. There are no rules, you know? I just listen to the song and add things where I hear my saxophone. I put the notes in that I think sound right and send it to the producer. Then they give me feedback, which is often that they love it but I need to play more. Sometimes, I've already played pretty much everywhere I think it should be played. (laughs) Every now and then, they do tell me that I've played too much, but it doesn't happen that often. It's actually even easier for me that way because all I have to do is erase a few of the parts I added. When they say play more I really have to scratch my head and figure out if there is more for me to play. But I do try. A lot of times, I send them what I think I should be playing, and I just have to sign off on what feels good to me and leave it at that. If a producer doesn't like what he hears, or decides they want more than I want to give, they may have to just find someone else.

MR: Now, rumor has it that you were once a part of Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra.

KG: I was. I booked that in high school for a few gigs. It was my first professional job, and it was a really great learning experience. It pretty much showed me that I could hang with the pros, and that was a big thing for me. Without that job, I don't know if I would have had this career because I wouldn't have known if I could have a career.

MR: Nice. I've also heard that there's a story involving you, Clive Davis and the song, "Dancing Queen." Is that true?

KG: (laughs) There's actually no story there. I've read that, and I don't know where it came from, but it's a complete fabrication. I read that in some magazine when I was in a hotel room in Malaysia, and I remember thinking, "Wait a minute. None of that's true!" (laughs) I don't know anything about that.

MR: (laughs) Okay, can you tell us who some of your musical influences were?

KG: Well, Grover Washington was my main influence and when I went to college, I started listening to more of the jazz masters like Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, and John Coltrane. You won't hear a bunch of their traditional be-bop jazz in my playing, but if you listen to some of my solos, I'm sure you'd hear some of those same influences in my improvisation. But any saxophone player will have those influences come through in their music in a very different way. I can listen to the same 10 sax players as someone else for my entire life and we'll both play completely differently. That's the beauty of being a musician. You get to have your own voice, and if you're lucky and people like it, you can have a great career. I have been very lucky.

MR: You started playing pretty young, around the age of 10, right?

KG: I did. I just started as a part of the public school music program. I took lessons at the school every Friday and was a part of the school band. I was just a normal kid taking instrumental lessons at school, nothing special.

MR: Again proving that one should pursue their dream.

KG: Absolutely. It was nice to get my start in the public school program, so if you don't have a music department in your school, I feel bad for you. I wish that there was funding enough for every school to do it because I am living proof that it works. You don't have to be born a prodigy and take private lessons your whole life to become a professional musician. Anybody can do it, it's just a matter of working hard and practicing all the time. When I was in high school, I really started practicing quite a bit, and today after this interview, I will being my three-hour practice session.

MR: Wow. Do you have any advice for new artists trying to pursue a career in music?

KG: Well, I would say that that depends on where they are in their career. If they're a new artist that wants to make an album, or a new artist that has already made one, there's very different advice. I would say if you want to make an album and are trying to get a record deal, I can tell you now that the concept of that has become really tricky these days; it's not easy. But the main thing is to practice and play the music that you enjoy. I guess that advice also applies to the group who may have already made albums. Do what you feel is true to you, don't do something because you think it's going to sell. Be your own voice, and that should take you where you're supposed to go.

MR: And that's what you did?

KG: That is what I did, I got lucky. I was lucky that my voice seemed to resonate with a lot of people, and that I was doing it at a time when getting national exposure wasn't as hard as it is right now. I also had Clive Davis in my corner getting people to play my music. But the key to it all was doing what I felt was true to me. If you're trying to do music like me and it's not true to you, I can guarantee you're probably not going to have a very good career. I mean I like traditional jazz, but if I were to make a traditional jazz album, it wouldn't sound anything like the ones that were made by Charlie Parker. I would make a jazz record that was totally different; it would have my signature vibe on it. Who knows? I may even do that someday.

MR: I also wanted to ask you about the circular breathing technique that you use. You made it into The Guinness Book Of World Records using it.

KG: I did. It's actually a technique that a lot of sax players know how to do, some don't. I guess I kind of took it to its maximum. (laughs) It is possible, though, to breathe in and continue to play. I'm not born with a third lung or anything.

MR: (laughs) Good to know. Will you be touring to promote this new album with Raul?

KG: Well, I tour all the time. I don't really tour to promote records, I've never done that. I've always kind of been on the road or at home. If I'm out playing a gig, it's not necessarily because I'm out promoting a record. It doesn't really work like that these days, at least not for artists like me. When people come to hear me play, I think it's more because they know conceptually what my music sounds like and they want to spend an evening with me and my music. So, we will be out on the road playing a few gigs in California this month, and a few on the east coast in August. Summer is nice in some regard, because I'm mostly free, but it usually picks up in the Fall again. Now, that's not to say that I might not hook up with Rahul at some point and do a few concerts of this music. It all just depends on how those logistics work out.

MR: What do you think when you look back over your career and some of your bigger hit songs?

KG: I don't do that very often. (laughs) I just think about practicing and getting better. When I do a concert, I play my songs that are most well known, different every night. If you're listening to it, it may sound the same, but I am putting new nuances in and changing and improvising in certain sections. I am just concentrating on getting better. I appreciate my career very much, but I also realize that as a musician, I need to concentrate on practicing and doing the best I can moving forward.

MR: Well, you must know that any time someone picks up a soprano saxophone, your name inevitably comes up, right?

KG: And I love that. (laughs) It's one of those things that just kind of grew with me as a musician. I mean, I didn't start on soprano saxophone. I played alto for seven years, and when I was in eleventh grade, I started playing soprano and loved it. That was around the time that I was listening to a lot of Grover Washington, and no matter what I tried, I couldn't get my soprano sax to sound like his. I wasn't happy at all. I remember the guys in my high school telling me that my soprano sound was so different, and I was so frustrated because I thought I was failing at even getting a regular soprano sax sound. Obviously, that turned out to be a good thing because my sound is now my sound. What happened was that when I was creating music, I heard the music through the sounds of a soprano sax. For whatever reason, I heard it from that instrument more than the other horns. It wasn't necessarily because I thought it was a better instrument. It became my primary instrument and I'm so proud that when people pick up a tenor sax, they think of me. That's huge.

MR: I also wanted to bring up what I think is an interesting live performance for you, which was your appearance on SNL with Foster The People.

KG: Yeah. They also have that skit on SNL called, "What Up With That?" where they have the guy in the background making fun of me. There was also an episode of South Park where they made a little cartoon version of me and completely made fun of me, I love it. (laughs) I'm super-flattered. I feel super cool to even be on the radar of these people. But, of course, above all of that, my main concern is getting into the studio and getting better at my craft. When someone from Foster The People called me in the first place, I was amazed that I was even on their radar, but he explained to me that his mom had taken him to one of my concerts when he was young and he loved it. As he was working on a song, he thought about me and thought it would be amazing if I could play the solo on the song, so of course I obliged. It was really nice to be able to get some exposure with a younger group. When those types of phone calls come, if the project is right, it's a lot of fun.

MR: And you're no stranger to the Grammys.

KG: Well, I have the one. I've been nominated 20 times and won once. So, I guess I'm the biggest loser. (laughs) I think I may be high on the list of people that have been nominated quite a bit and lost most of them. I mean when "Songbird" was nominated, it was a number one pop song and it didn't win. You would think that it would have won hands down. Then again, I guess it shows that the Grammys are not a popularity contest, it's done through votes from your peers, and I guess my peers didn't like that I was selling a lot of records. But I can tell you that if you listen to the other instrumentalists that were nominated at the time, there wasn't anything better. Anyway, I'm certainly not bitter about it. I have had a great career. That just happened to be at a very successful point in my career. I had "Silhouette" as well as "Songbird," and the records were selling in the millions. I just didn't happen to win any Grammys at that time.

MR: Then again, not many jazz musician have been a part of a big Super Bowl ad campaign, right?

KG: (laughs) No, that's true. The Audi commercial was a lot of fun, and like other things, it sort of came out of nowhere. They called and asked me if they could use my music in an Audi commercial, and how much it would be. We responded that we'd love to put "Songbird" into the commercial, but asked how they'd feel about actually having me in the commercial. We were able to work out all of those details, and it turned out really well.

MR: Kenny, thank you so much for taking time out and spending it with us today.

KG: Thanks so much for having me, Mike.

1. Namaste
2. Brhama-Vishnu-Shiva
3. Dance Of The Elephant God
4. Lotus Lovers
5. Transcendental Consciousness
6. Valley Of Flowers
7. Silsila
8. Om Shanti
9. Transcendental Consciousness - Walter A. remix
10. Namaste - Soul Seekerz club mix

Transcribed by Kyle Pongan


A Conversation With David Benoit

Mike Ragogna: David, I have been a fan of yours since Freedom At Midnight, I've seen you wallop the heck out of a piano live, and you have a new album, Conversation. Can you tell us about it?

David Benoit: Well, sometimes when you start an album, that idea doesn't evolve until you get all of the materials together; you just start writing. I had a piece called, "Conversation," which was a part of a larger piece called "The Suite For Two Trios," which was a piece commissioned by the Laguna Arts Council. The concept, which I found interesting, was the contrast between the classical piano trio and a jazz piano trio competing with each other. "Conversation" was the last movement of that piece. One day, I was talking to my wife, and she thought it'd be a great idea to put that song on the record. I had already written a lot of other songs. I decided to go for it and do something a little different. The record started to evolve and it seemed like several different conversations were going on. I was working with old friends like David Pack and some new musicians I hadn't met before. More and more, the album started to feel like a series of conversations. That's really how it developed.

MR: You also worked with musicians like Jeff Golub, Tim Weisberg, and classical pianist Robert Theis.

DB: Yeah. This is the first project that I've worked on where I wasn't playing the piano the whole time. I thought it was kind of fun to have a gold-medal winning pianist on the album. The fact that he's a friend of mine made it even cooler. I'm really happy to have him on the record.

MR: One of my favorite conversations on this album is between you and Jeff in "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid." Can you tell us about that song?

DB: That was something that I haven't explored too much. I thought to myself, "It's a kid's song, and kids listen to rock 'n' roll." I demo everything in my studio, as a lot of musicians do, before I actually record it. I strapped on a guitar and laid some stuff down, but in the end, I couldn't really imagine it being me that played it. I knew I needed someone who could bring it all the way home. So I thought of Jeff, and my manager also represents him. He was having a very difficult year because of his vision going. That had little to do with the songs, so much as the fact that he was already on my mind because of that. So, he came in and did it and killed it. He did a really amazing solo.

MR: There's also another guest in that song, and I believe is very closely related to you.

DB: Oh, yes! (laughs) That's my daughter, June. She's 11 years old, and I slipped her into that one little verse because it'd be great to have her make her debut. Plus, the song seemed appropriate. She worked really hard on it. The engineer, Clark Germain, came with his ProTools and we did that in my living room.

MR: Let's talk about "Kei's Song Redux." Can you tell us what made you include a reworking of one of your classics?

DB: That song has been in my repertoire for so long that it's kind of become a standard for me. After 27 years of marriage, it was kind of our theme song. I wrote it right after we got married in 1985. I thought it was worth revisiting, and just to give it a slightly fresh approach, we added a few orchestral sections and a modulation. Subtle things. It wasn't like we put the whole thing on synthesizer and made it all electronic and weird. We pretty much just did the same thing we did before, we just put it in a slightly new place. I'm glad we were able to do that.

MR: There's also a track called "Q's Motif," which I'm guessing was a little tip of the hat to Quincy Jones.

DB: Yes. He actually wrote a piece that starts out with that same motif. That's the reason the song has its name, and I figured he wouldn't mind if I added a little bit to it. But once the song actually gets started, it's a completely different song. I wrote that to pay tribute to him because I'm a really big fan.

MR: You set the mold with contemporary or "smooth" jazz pianists, particularly with some of your early projects like Freedom At Midnight. I remember the title track, "Freedom At Midnight," got so much airplay at the time.

DB: Yeah. I remember that. (laughs)

MR: Well, can you tell us about your creative process when you're writing? How does the muse hit you, and what do you do when inspiration strikes?

DB: Now, it's very disciplined. It didn't used to be that way. There's so much going on between the symphony and my radio show and my family. I really have to be very disciplined now about when I'm going to write. Typically, I enjoy starting to write in the morning around 9:00 or 10:00. I just earmark some time and either sit down at the Steinway and carve something out acoustically, or I'll sit in my home studio and start playing with grooves and ideas. Usually after an hour or two, I have something, even if it's very rough. That's usually how I do it. It's also usually for a project. I very rarely write randomly anymore. So basically, when they said they wanted to do an album this time around, I knew it was time to get up and go. (laughs)

MR: It's great that you're able to do that because so many artists don't have the ability to write in a disciplined way.

DB: I've found that you really just have to be disciplined about when you write. Ironically, I feel like the creative process really does kick in when you have a deadline. Cole Porter once said that his best inspiration was a call from a producer. (laughs) It's really true. I love pressure. I need it. If I don't have pressure, I'd probably just sit around watching Judge Judy all day long. (laughs)

MR: (laughs) Now, you've also film scored for The Stars Fell On Henrietta, the Clint Eastwood film. What was it like working with both Clint and the film's star, Robert Duvall?

DB: I met Robert, but I didn't really get to know him. But I did get to know Clint. What an amazing man. Everything you could imagine about Clint Eastwood is absolutely true. I will say this--he doesn't come off as a tough and scary dude, he comes off as a real gentleman. He's very soft spoken, but he's also very...Clint Eastwood, for lack of a better term. When he walks in the room, he has such a presence, and he looks fabulous. He doesn't have an ounce of fat on him. Some stars, I suppose they're retouched in images when you see them, but Clint is Clint. He called me last year and asked me if I could do the music for a documentary about David Brubeck, and I said yes. So, I went down to his studio on the Warner Brothers lot and met all the crew on The Stars Fell On Henrietta. It's quite a shame that that movie didn't do too well; my career in film scoring didn't go quite the way I'd hoped. But his long time editor Joel Cox, and many of the other crewmembers, remembered me. It was a lot of fun. Clint is as nice as he could be. It was really a great experience.

MR: You also provided the score for the Sally Fields film, The Christmas Tree, which received Best Film Score of 1996 by Film Score Magazine.

DB: Yes. That was really quite a surprise, especially when you think about all the veterans who had been doing this for so long. It was such an honor. That's one of my favorite scores; I love it. And Sally was a dream to work with. I just did a score recently for a documentary that won The Royal Canadian Documentary Film Award, and I was really excited about that. The director for that project was just a gem. I've worked with some directors that were really tough, but Sally was just great.

MR: You mentioned that you are also a part of this new David Brubeck documentary.

DB: I was, yes. And there are some really nice scenes in the film. They interview me extensively. One of my favorite parts is when he starts "Strange Meadow Lark," then they cut away to me playing it at the moment he stops. I was blown away. It's nice to be thought of in the company of Dave, even though I've known him quite a long time and been to his home in Connecticut. He's a great man.

MR: To me, your style seems one step removed from two of my favorite pianists, Dave Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi.

DB: (laughs) You know, it's funny you should mention that because I've been in a couple of Vince Guaraldi documentaries as well. There's actually a new book coming out about his life and I'm in that. They are even doing a book signing at the Charles Schultz Museum in November, and I'll be there giving a special performance of Vince's music. So, I'm very connected with him even though I never got the chance to meet him.

MR: Though you seem to be his heir.

DB: Yeah, kind of. I mean, there are some other really great players that play and are close to Vince's music. One of the ones who comes to mind is George Winston who made an album of Vince's songs.

MR: Right, although you did too, sir. Dave, as I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of yours, and caught a performance a few years back you were literally banging that piano. The performance had a lot of passion, and I thought to myself, "David's got to be the best piano player that I've ever seen live."

DB: Well, thank you very much. That reminds me of a story actually. I get really wound up and emotional when I play the piano, especially in a really great format; I almost can't control myself. I remember being at the retirement party for the president of Steinway, and someone told a story about the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Someone told him that he really bangs on the piano, and that they thought that the Steinway he was playing was going to fall apart. He turned to them and said, "Look, we don't make cream puffs around here." (laughs) So with a Steinway, my feeling is that they were made for all of that - they want to be played that way. What I miss with a lot of young players is that they have the technique, but they're not making love to the instrument. They're not making that emotional connection with their instrument, and that's what I love to establish. So, that's a very nice compliment, I appreciate that.

MR: Of course. Do you think you'll do any more projects with Mr. Russ Freeman?

DB: I don't know. I keep thinking to myself that I've got to call Russ. I haven't spoken to him in so long, and I think of him a lot. We always have a great time together, and we think the same as well. People ask me that a lot, and every ten years, we do a record together, so in a few years, we're probably about due.

MR: Dave, what advice do you have for new artists?

DB: Get out of the business; be a doctor. (laughs) I think the best advice I could give is to make sure that your definition of success involves opportunity meeting preparation. Just make sure that you're prepared for if and when you do get that call. Preparation means practicing, of course, and looking for every opportunity to play. You have to live it and breathe it because it's too hard, and there are far too many people who want to get into the business. In my case, it was playing the piano incessantly when I first started. It wasn't practicing, necessarily, but I played all the time. (laughs) So, I think the best advice is just to play as much as you can, be prepared, and don't have a safety net. If this is what you're going to do, do it. I saw some religious show, and I'm not religious at all, but sometimes, I watch some of these televangelists because they are pretty dynamic. I think it was Joel Osteen that was talking about knocking on doors when people keep telling you no, but you have to keep knocking until someone says yes. I thought that was pretty cool. Hang in there!

MR: Before we wrap up, I also wanted to chat briefly about another one of my favorite albums of yours, the Orchestral Stories album.

DB: Wow, I didn't think a soul in the world had that album. (laughs)

MR: (laughs) I love that album. One of my favorite songs included on that album was "9-11." That was a beautiful tribute.

DB: Thank you. That's actually an interesting story. After Larry Rosen and Dave Grusin left GRP, everything changed. They had a gentleman named Ron Goldstein take over. That song was originally on the Right Here, Right Now album because that was right around when it happened. I was heartbroken. Then, when we came up with the idea for Orchestral Stories, we decided to just put it on that album because we had already recorded it. It fit there much better, truthfully, and to Andi Howard's credit, she was very open to letting us do that album, because it's very rare that you have a chance to do something that different. So, I give her some credit for that.

MR: Great orchestrations as well.

DB: And now, the gentleman that orchestrated it, Jean-Pascal Beintus, is a very famous orchestrator for a well-known French film composer.

MR: Any parting words of wisdom?

DB: I'm just thrilled to have a long career in jazz. It's one thing to get to the top, but it's another thing entirely to stay there. Not that I think I've ever really been at the top, but I've had a nice steady career and I've been able to reinvent myself and try new things. I think that I feel most fortunate that I keep getting to do what I love.

MR: Do you have any tours coming up?

DB: Well, as you many already know, I have joined the Dave Koz Christmas tour. I do that every few years, so I decided it was time to jump on that bandwagon again.

MR: Dave, thank you so much for spending time with us. This was really a pleasure.

DB: Thanks so much for having me, Mike.

1. Napa Crossroads Overture
2. Feelin' It
3. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid
4. Kei's Song Redux
5. Sunrise On Mansion Row
6. You're Amazing
7. Q's Motif
8. Let's Get Ready
9. Conversation

Transcribed by Kyle Pongan



Chicago's Downtown Struts are world-premiering their video for "Rocca Ave" here with HuffPost. The song appears on the bands full-length debut Victoria! that was recently released on Pirates Press Records (The Bouncing Souls, Off With Their Heads, Rancid). The rustic audio postcard feel of the album is reflected in the accompanying video, which was compiled from old Super-8 footage taken on the bands' first few U.S. tours.

Speaking about the song, Dan Cooper shared, "'Rocca Ave' was written about my hometown in South San Francisco. Being based out of Chicago and spending most of our time on the road, the song is about the distance and separation created by being away from your home for long periods of time."

The band will continue to be away from home for a while, touring Europe in August with dates with The Bouncing Souls, followed by a North American jaunt with Street Dogs. All upcoming dates and record info at:



"'For Albert' is a tribute to my musical heritage, both to my classical upbringing and to my grandfather, who was always extremely supportive of my musical education," says Sara Jackson-Holman about a track from her new album, Cardiology. "It is named for my grandfather, who passed away this past January. The song is very specific to a couple things I was going through when I wrote it, and using my grandfather's wisdom, his favorite quote, 'Get over it,' as inspiration."

And here is Sara Jackson-Holman's audio exclusive for HuffPost, "For Albert."