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In the second episode of my new podcast “Hey, Really Excited,” I recap my trip to Las Vegas for last weekend’s “Billboard Music Awards.” Guests this week include Robin Leach, Hozier (again), Tori Kelly, Prince Royce and Ludacris.
Hey, Really Excited
“Hey, Really Excited” is a weekly-ish podcast of mine where I offer some present-day thoughts on what’s happening in music, my life and career – along with a featured artist(s).

In the inaugural edition of “Weekend Scoop,” we catch up with the four acts that played this year’s “Summer Kick-Off” at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant, N.J. and find out what they are looking forward to with the unofficial start of summer. To see more from this year’s Kick-Off, click here.
“Weekend Scoop” will feature different artists, magazines, TV stations and more every week – reporting on subjects ranging from celebrity news to events you need to know about. Catch it every Friday on “Ralphie Tonight.”

Unlike other artists looking to release their sophomore albums on a major label, the one thing singer ZZ Ward doesn’t have to worry about is if the LP will actually see the light of day. This Means War already has a street date of September 18 and is available for pre-order now, a lengthy three-and-a-half months ahead of the album release.

“If I was a fan, that’d make me feel good,” Ward told “Ralphie Tonight” of the advance. “I’d be like, ‘Yes! I have it on lock. Like I know I’m getting it as soon as it comes out.’”
The pre-sale was announced in conjunction with a headlining tour and the release of a new single.

“’Love 3X’ is kind of about the ups-and-downs and the good and the bad and all of the imperfections that make your relationship the perfect mess that it is,” described Ward of the track.

The Oregon native, who has lived in Los Angeles for the past five years pursuing her music career, wrote the song herself. That also comes as a surprise, as her manager is a GRAMMY Award winning songwriter with a number of big radio hits to his credit. Despite this, Evan Bogart only contributed one track to the artist’s debut effort. Ward says that they wrote together “a lot” this second time around, but that she enjoys the creative and collaborative freedom afforded to her by Bogart.

“(Evan) has the ability to really guide you as a writer in the sense that, he doesn’t have to be like writing on everything or be up in all the videos,” Ward explained. “He can kind of let you do your thing, and so that’s been really great working with Evan.”

Could you imagine hanging out at a Cinco de Mayo party with friends, sipping on a beverage… and then checking your phone to find out that you have an email from Adam Levine?

Rozzi Crane doesn’t have to “imagine” that because it happened to her in real life.

“I was like, ‘I gotta go!’” Crane recalled telling her friends at the party during a chat on “Ralphie Tonight.” “I didn’t tell anyone for like, six months.”
Crane waited until the paperwork was signed before informing everyone that she was in fact, the first signee to Adam Levine’s 222 Recordings, an imprint on Maroon 5’s home label of Interscope Records.

The 24 year-old attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and met a mutual friend of Levine’s in a songwriting class. They started working on music with another mutual friend who was managed by Maroon 5’s manager. That is who sent “The Voice” coach a YouTube link of Crane performing.

For all intents and purposes, Levine “turned his chair around” and signed the near-USC grad. She walked, but is a semester’s worth of credits away from a degree.

“I’ll do it at some point. I’ll finish it.”

In the mean time, Crane is promoting and touring behind her EP, Space, which features the single “Psycho.” No the song is not about an ex, but rather those who perhaps think you’re a little crazy for attempting to achieve your dreams.

And if your dream is to one day receive an email from Adam Levine, then maybe this is the song for you.

The second day of Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards was hectic, as many BBMA finalists, presenters and performers stopped by to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.” Check out some of the photos and conversations below with Hozier, Tori Kelly, Fall Out Boy and more.
Special thanks to BBMA co-host Ludacris, who also made some time for the show. We chatted with him while he waited for a car to pick him up… in the back of the MGM Grand Arena… on a curb. In Vegas, there is a first time for everything.

A few staples of the Las Vegas scene stopped by Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.”
Terry Fator won the second season of the NBC competition “America’s Got Talent.” The entertainer just marked his sixth year headlining at The Mirage on The Strip. Fator believes he’ll be there many more years to come. He also gave his thoughts on the end of “American Idol,” noting that he’ll miss it and is happy there are other shows like “AGT” and “The Voice” still on the air.

Carrot Top has been in Vegas for 30 years – he’s spent about the last 10 performing at The Luxor. The comedian is hoping to attend Sunday’s award show, and you might be surprised as to what he is looking forward to. Of course, Carrot Top also quipped about everything from “Fifty Shades Of Grey” to “Deflategate.”

And Robin Leach – a former Channel 7 reporter – needs no introduction. The former “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” host dished about his recent chats with Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey regarding their Vegas residencies.

Billy Corgan writes songs for The Smashing Pumpkins. He writes storylines for the wrestling outfit TNA Impact. And now the 48 year-old front man, with the help of friend and tour-mate Marilyn Manson, will attempt to re-write the discussion for how we look at Veterans who serve our country. The Pumpkins and Manson will kick off a tour this summer, and at each stop, there will be a campaign roll-out for “New Beginnings: Reaching America’s Vets.”

“Most people don’t know that Manson, like myself, is from a Military family,” Corgan explained to me during Live Nation’s “National Concert Day.” “And so we want to try and use this opportunity of the tour to rebrand some of the social discourse around Military vets and their families in terms of American culture.”
Corgan specifically referred to taking the conversations out of the “political sphere” and placing them back in to the “social and civic sphere.” He hopes to raise awareness to the challenges that veterans and military families face when they return home.

For the campaign, Corgan and Manson have teamed up with the Easter Seals Dixon Center. The organization is the military and veterans arm of Easter Seals, which has provided to support to vets since World War II. Its aim is to help “veterans, military families, employers and organizations that want veterans to reach their potential and participate fully in their communities.”

Making the media rounds with Corgan was Colonel David W. Sutherland, U.S. Army (Ret.) and Chairman of Easter Seals Dixon Center Military and Veterans Services.

“It’s connecting with (veterans) in a meaningful way,” Col. Sutherland said of the partnership’s mission. “Billy’s going out on tour with Manson and they’re going to have the conversations in the local communities, and then we have the opportunity to follow up to really deliver to services or the delivery of services.

“But we can never allow,” he continued, “as we forget about the wars, we can’t forget about those touched by military service.”

Corgan and Manson will make sure of it.

“I feel very, very confident that if this issues is put out the right way, and done with some humanity and some tenderness, especially coming from me and Manson, where you wouldn’t expect it!”

“The End Times” tour kicks off July 7 in Concord, Calif.

Had things gone as scheduled, the North American leg of Iggy Azalea’s “The Great Escape” tour would be in full swing. Sadly for fans of Azalea and supporting acts Nick Jonas and Tinashe, that was not to be the case. Citing “production delays,” the “Fancy” rapper postponed her trek until September. In the midst of the change, three shows were subtracted from the itinerary, presumably due to scheduling conflicts.
And Sacramento, Las Vegas and Baltimore were not the only losses in the mishap. On top of undertaking the creative direction for her arena tour, Azalea was also faced with the task of finding new opening performers. Jonas, as he has talked about a couple of times on “Ralphie Tonight,” has a jam-packed 2015 between music and acting commitments. And Tinashe, who scored a breakout hit last year with “2 On,” will now support Nicki Minaj’s “The Pinkprint Tour” alongside Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd and Dej Loaf.

Making the media rounds during Live Nation’s “National Concert Day,” Tinashe explained to “Ralphie Tonight” how she found out that her 2015 calendar would be changing.

“My manager (Mike Nazarro) had found out,” the singer responded, before elaborating. “We were starting to just get the signs and we kind of knew that something was happening, so when it finally went down I was like, ‘Darn! That’s really disappointing.’”

Without even taking a breath, Tinashe adds that she is excited to tour this summer with Minaj.

“It definitely worked out,” she continued. “I think it’s going to be a really exciting show; a lot of energy (and) a great lineup.”

The trek kicks off July 17 in Dallas.

I’ll never forget the spectacle that was Nickelback on stage. The year was 2004; I was a Street Team Leader at the Top 40 radio station I grew up listening to, Kiss 98.5 in Buffalo. I and two colleagues drove to Darien Lake in scenic Corfu, N.Y. and headed backstage, where two musicians in 3 Doors Down not named Brad Arnold recorded liners for the station (Arnold, the lead singer, was on vocal rest). We then made our way to the front of the amphitheater to catch the end of 12 Stones’ set (“Broken” was my jam). Next up, 3 Doors Down, and the band sounded so true to its studio recordings it was ridiculous. Arnold and company ran through a tight set of hits from The Better Life and Away From The Sun. No theatrics, no crowd hype; just straight melting your face off.

We almost hit the road after that to beat traffic (pretty sure we had another appearance that evening back in downtown Buffalo) but we decided to hang around a bit to see what the Canadian rockers had in store for the crowd. I won’t say they were better or worse than 3DD… but Nickelback was certainly different. The best way I can sum up the contrast between the two acts is by telling you the most memorable portion of Nickelback’s set, in part because I had never seen anyone do this on stage before.

“Who wants free beer?!” growled Kroeger to the sold-out crowd. The audience roared and so at their behest, a road case-turned-tabletop was wheeled out. On top of the case were dozens of plastic cups filled with beer. Nickelback then began to grab the cups and toss them one-by-one out to the crowd.

A quick YouTube search actually yielded a few videos, including one from the band’s official account, of this act. Apparently Nickelback has done this as recently as 2012 and it is referred to as the “Beer Toss.” Hey, the more you know.

Anyways, fast forward 11 years from when I witnessed it: Nickelback will tour with Lifehouse later this year, and I demanded that Jason Wade and Bryce Soderberg tell me what they would give to the masses this summer.
“Well I guess we can’t give them free beer anymore,” joked Wade. “Free tequila maybe?”

You can’t blame the lead singer for his line of thinking. After all, we were speaking at Live Nation’s National Concert Day event, which conveniently fell on Cinco de Mayo.

“Alcoholic beverages always work on any level,” added Soderberg. “So we’re going to have to dig in to our rider and see what we can cough up.”

The mention of beer actually jogged Wade’s memory to the last time he saw the guys – about 15 years ago.

“We played 10 shows with the guys in 2000, 2001,” the lead singer recalled. “We’d both play our sets and then have some beer after the shows. They’re the most down-to-earth, nicest guys.”

Between the two bands there will be plenty of big hits to be played, and maybe a beer or two to be shared throughout the summer. Lifehouse’s seventh studio album, Out Of The Wasteland, hits stores May 26.

Marc Scibilia stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” to talk about his forthcoming, Butch Walker-produced album Out Of Style, his tour with James Bay and much more. The Nashville-native grew up, like me, in Western New York. So of course, there was a bit of reminiscing and catching-up to do (Marc and I have known each other for a while).
It is shaping up to be a big 2015 for the singer/songwriter. Earlier this year, his cover of the classic “This Land Is Your Land,” ended up on Jeep’s Super Bowl commercial. Outside of the Halftime Show, it was the most “Shazaamed” moment of the night. Scibilia’s debut LP drops this summer. Check out our chat and a video of Marc performing the first single, “How Bad We Need Each Other” below.