Jesse Kinch won the first and only season of ABC’s singing competition “Rising Star.” The show aired in the summer of 2014 and was hosted by Josh Groban; judges included Ludacris, Kesha and Brad Paisley. Kinch was the clear favorite from the moment of his first performance and took home the top prize, which included a record deal, to no one’s surprise.
However Kinch’s journey to his debut album was far from over; matter-of-fact, it was just beginning. The Long Island native eventually parted ways with Capitol Records over creative differences and landed at Curb, where he released “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” on Friday.
The singer/songwriter stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat with me about his life post-“Rising Star” and the new album, which is available now.
David Cook stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat with me about his role on the hit Broadway musical “Kinky Boots,” his favorite spots while living in New York City and what he has planned for the rest of the summer.
In addition to a new live album that’s currently in production and slated for release later this year, Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik revealed to me that the band is also currently writing new music.
“You got to keep it going,” he told me inside Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. “You’ve got to move a lot quicker these days.”
In some sense, that’s why the Goo’s most recent body of original work was last year’s “You Should Be Happy,” an extended play rather than a full-length album.
“I had a couple new songs that I really liked, and we found some other stuff that we didn’t release and I was like, ’Well, let’s just put it out,’” he explained. “Then we went out and toured again and we had a great time.
“I’m still debating, ‘Do I do an EP? Do I do an album?’ What do you think?”
That wasn’t a rhetorical question by the way; my response somewhat echoed Rzeznik’s reasoning behind the EP, noting that amount of content and timing would ultimately be the factors. That certainly seems to have influenced the undertaking of the live album, a project that will eventually be served as a double-vinyl filled with various performances over “a couple-hundred shows.”
“It goes from places that are a thousand people up to like, 15,000 people,” he said. “It’s kind of interesting how the songs change around a little bit.”
Speaking of live performances, Rzeznik’s main reason for stopping by was to promote Friday night’s “Concert For Dreams” at Beacon Theatre, benefiting the Garden of Dreams Foundation. O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge, who received the charity’s 2018 Hero Award, personally asked him to participate.
“They’re like monsters; they’re crazy-talented musicians,” Rzeznik noted of O.A.R. “Yunno, (Goo Goo Dolls are) just a bunch of guys that learned how to play guitar in a garage.”
But hey, there’s something to be said for a couple of kids from Western New York with big dreams (ed note: I’m from Niagara Falls, New York so yes, I’m biased). And it’s pretty cool that four GRAMMY nominations and 12 million albums sold later, Rzeznik still values the importance of paying it forward.
“It’s a good thing; anything for kids is worth doing,” he said of working with Garden of Dreams, which helps kids throughout the tri-state area overcome obstacles.
Brendon Urie announced Wednesday that Panic! At The Disco will drop a new album this summer; a piece of work that he started thinking about well over a year ago.
“I’m literally trying to jump right in to the next record cycle,” is what Urie told me backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut the night he kicked off the “Death Of A Bachelor Tour” in February 2017. “I know that seems crazy, but I have a bunch of ideas that I’ve been working on for the last couple of months and I’m seriously pursuing recording them in the next month or two.”
It definitely seemed, dare I say pretty odd, that he’d already be talking about album six just as he was kicking off the tour for LP number five. But as Urie spoke more it became clear that he had a plan in place for the next twelve months.
“I want to see what else outside of music I can get in to,” he continued during our chat, which streamed live on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page. “Theater really interests me and acting really interests me. I’ve done a couple auditions a few years ago and they didn’t go so hot, so I want to try to redeem myself a little bit.”
Urie went on to do just that, starring in a run on Broadway of the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots.” On Wednesday night, the singer found himself within walking distance from Al Hirschfeld Theater. Panic! At The Disco performed its new single “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” in 30 Rock’s Studio 6B for “The Tonight Show.” As for the album, it’s called “Pray For The Wicked,” and comes out June 22. A supporting tour runs throughout North America from July 11 through mid-August.
Perhaps then we can inquire about lucky number seven.
After the release of the singer’s latest album “reputation,” AT&T decided to celebrate its partnership with Taylor Swift by creating a pop-up experience for her fans downtown. The shop included exclusive merchandise and a number of props from the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, including the phone and the throne.
The fine folks in charge of the production gave me a VIP tour of space, which was in the South Street Seaport and was open for almost a full week. Yes, even Ms. Swift herself popped by and surprised fans on its opening day.
Monday marked “National Tequila Day,” another capitalism-created “holiday” that no one would be aware of if not for a hashtag and radio DJs like myself talking incessantly about it. However for Panic! At The Disco lead singer Brendon Urie, it’s a holiday that he essentially celebrates before every Panic! performance with a double-shot.
“It just kind of kills the hyperawareness, so we’re not up there reading too many signs and I’m forgetting lyrics and stuff,” the frontman told me back in March before the band kicked off its “Death Of A Bachelor Tour” inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The interview originally aired on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook Live feed. “Yeah it’s nice; it just kind of kills the tension a little bit.”
Urie recalled a time before the band’s pre-show ritual of tequila when the group instead opted for whiskey.
“We all noticed on stage… this is going to sound weird but, we were on stage and we just kind of all looked at each other and we all felt grumpy,” he said while laughing about it. “Then after we got off stage we were just like, ‘Get off me!’”
After two sets, Panic! turned to tequila.
“That worked. Then it was just a party,” he noted. “It definitely makes a difference. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or something, but yeah.”
I assured Urie that it is normal for people to react in different ways to different liquors; knowledge I was able to secure without headlining sold-out arenas. No word if Urie is continuing the tradition during his run on Broadway but if the lead in “Kinky Boots” appears a little grumpy, perhaps now you know why.
Last weekend I made the trek up to Uncasville, Connecticut where my friends at Mohegan Sun invited me to head backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena and interview the band Bastille. It was the first time the GRAMMY-nominated quartet played the venue; lead singer Dan Smith and company were fresh in to the North American leg of the “Wild, Wild World Tour” in support of the band’s sophomore effort “Wild World.”
Here are five takeaways from my chat with the group, which was initially broadcasted live on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page, with a bonus fan-submitted question answered on Twitter.
1.) If Bastille could pick one artist to collaborate with at the moment, it would be Rihanna. “We’ve been asked this for years. We keep saying Rihanna and we haven’t heard a word from her,” drummer Chris “Woody” Wood joked.
2.) Smith confirmed that just as the band released a companion remix album for “Bad Blood”, Bastille will give the same treatment to “Wild World.” “It’s just a question of finding the time,” he elaborated.
3.) Bastille is currently writing it’s third album on the road; they have a designated “Writing Room” backstage. Although last Friday, “Woody” primarily used the space more to play FIFA on Xbox than craft Bastille’s next big hit.
4.) The album art for “Wild World” was not snapped from One World Trade Center, but rather “an undisclosed building, somewhere, maybe.” Smith wouldn’t elaborate but did mention that the cover’s creation is actually a focal point in the show’s production (and I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to spoil it for someone who may be reading this in another part of the U.S. before the concert).
5.) General consensus amongst the band led the members to designate guitarist Will Farquarson as the laziest member of the group, although Smith did mention that there are different genres of lazy. We wanted him to elaborate on this too, but perhaps he didn’t feel like exerting himself?
Panic! At The Disco is on the “Death Of A Bachelor” tour, headlining sold-out arenas across the country. But for lead singer Brendon Urie, the album cycle is basically finished.
“I’m literally trying to jump right in to the next record cycle,” the front man told me backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena before the trek’s opening night show. The interview was conducted for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page. “I know that seems crazy but I’ve got a bunch of ideas I’ve been working on for the last couple months. I’m seriously pursuing recording them in the next month or two.”
The “Victorious” singer is also going to try his hand again at projects that don’t exclusively involve music.
“Theater really interests me and acting really interests me,” he continued. “I’ve done a couple of auditions, a few years ago, and they didn’t go so hot. So I want to try and redeem myself a little bit.”
The fact that Urie wants to branch out might be a testament to how gratifying and fulfilling the band’s latest LP was. “Bachelor” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with the highest first-week sales for Panic! yet. It also earned Urie a “Best Rock Album” nomination at this year’s GRAMMYs.
“That was a huge milestone,” he said of the nod. “I was filled with so much happiness. I was just like, running around… did a lot of drinking that night to celebrate.
“But it was amazing, man. It’s definitely put a nice little hat-tilt to this tour.”
Speaking of drinking, Urie joked (or maybe semi-joked?) that as far as essential tour items, beer definitely makes the list. He also revealed a Panic! pre-show ritual: shots.
“We did one night where we tried whiskey,” he explained before laughing. “This is going to sound so weird but, we were on stage and we all just kind of looked at each other and we all felt grumpy.”
The remedy? A switch to double-shots of tequila. Urie said it puts the band in party-mode in part by killing the group’s “hyper-awareness.” Judging by the rave reviews that the show is receiving so far, it seems to be working.