*SLIPKNOT @ the Pensacola Bay Center 04/29/15. INTERVIEW w/ JIM ROOT

Reserved, insecure, rebellious I really didn’t care much for authority.” – Jim Root

aIMG_2581 Michael Smith Slipknot

Just The Facts: Unpublished answers from my Pensacola News Journal interview with Slipknot guitarist Jim Root (#4)  for a feature promoting their Pensacola Bay Center show on August 29, 2015-minus the questions.

“Pretty much thought I knew it all. I had all kinds of weird afflictions growing up.”

“I must have seen some video on MTV or something and the Fender Strat…I felt connected to it.”

“I grew up listening to music. My parents had vinyl and all that. I can honestly say from my earliest memories that’s what I always wanted to do. I begged and pleaded. Everything I could do to get my parents to get me a guitar for a birthday or a Christmas or anything. Dropping hints, leaving catalogs laying around. I didn’t get one until I was 14. I wish I could have got more of a head start on it.”

“My first guitar was a Memphis Les Paul Jr. copy. And it was a pretty brutal guitar. Not very well made, but it was a guitar and it was good enough for me to break and mistreat and not appreciate until I got my next real guitar that I really started learning on, a Takamine electric.”

“They sound relatively the same. I designed them with the same woods and the same pickups and all that, but they’re definitely not made for blues or jazz or chicken pickin’ country or slide guitar or any of that stuff. So a lot of the tele purists probably hate the guitar, but it’s an iconic body shape.

“Tele’s, Strats and Jazzmasters to me are so legendary that to be able to endorse a company like Fender and have them on my side and listen to my ideas, it’s absolutely a dream come true. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I find myself extremely lucky be able to take an idea that I’ve had and have them go, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s go ahead and do it.’ You’re talking about Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Rory Gallagher. All these iconic players. It’s amazing to be in that kind of company. You can’t hardly believe it sometimes.”

“Oh man. Jimmy Page. George Harrison. All these guys were larger than life to me. Pete Townsend, Tom Petty, guys like this that are just amazing songwriters, gifted players, gifted ears. When I was in my teens, 16, 17 years old, I was into guys like Malmsteem and Dave Mustaine, all these guys that were doing the metal that I was listening to and that’s where I honed my skills. I learned to play by ear by playing along to the records that I was listening to which was ‘Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!’ and Anthrax. All these records, Iron Maiden, Dave Murray and guys like that, Adrian Smith. Tony Iommi and even guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn. There’s just so much you can do with a guitar. Everybody approaches it a little bit differently. It’s crazy.

“It’s tough. I ain’t going to lie. There are a lot of relationships that tend to suffer when you spend so much time away and for me, over the past 16 years, for a time, I was juggling two bands. When I come home from a tour, I tend to shut off, lock myself up in my house and I don’t ever want to leave or do anything because I just saw every country in Europe. I got to eat at all these amazing places and I basically just had a vacation playing all these shows everywhere.”

“So when I get home, it’s like home is my vacation. It’s part of the reason why I moved down to Florida. I want to be able to ride motorcycles and drive my old cars without worrying about snow on the ground and all that shit. It’s tough. I have friends that I went to high school with, that I don’t really see that often, partly because they live in Iowa and I live down here and partly because they’ve all started families and careers and things like that. When I come home from a tour, if I have a month off, I can sleep as late as I want. I can stay out as late as I want. These guys, ‘Well, I got to wake up and take my kid to school before I go to work and then after I go to work, I got to do this and that,” so you don’t get a lot of hang time anymore. I had a good buddy back in Iowa and we used to go fishing every once in awhile and you can’t really do that so much anymore.”

Questions and photos by Michael L. Hulin-Smith


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Maybe the joke went too far. It was definitely too long.

I can only guess what Bradford Cox wanted.


The execution of the joke was consistent and bleeding through the entire set. Deerhunter (and especially their frontman) came to play

Seconds before the Atlanta band started their set at Vinyl Music Hall, Cox stumbled onstage, banged on the drumset, stalking in sunglasses and a winter cap while bantering in a cockney accent so bad that Benny Hill would have rolled in his grave and saluted the middle finger.

Cox’s standup routine fell short of the music, but Deerhunter played through the Cox’s jokes/performance art/interruptions. And as the last note ended, the punchline was nowhere to be found.

– Michael Hulin-Smith


* LOCAL SHOWCASE: Transmute, Paloma, Dinosaur Daze @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEWS W/ JOEY AMSPACHER, JON DEALE AND GIOVANNI LUGO 04/26/13

“This is bittersweet because there was a time when Pensacola had nothing. It was nothing but a ghost town. An empty street at seven o’clock, 6:30 even. And all we had was The Handlebar. All we had was Van Gogh’s, that’s it. That was our entertainment.” – Giovanni Lugo of PALOMA

Two weeks before their Local Showcase at Vinyl Music Hall, I interviewed Joey Amspacher (Transmute), Jon Deale (Dinosaur Daze) and Giovanni Lugo of (Paloma) for the weekly Music Matters column in the Pensacola News Journal. We talked about music and the state of the Pensacola music scene.



MS: I remember the first time I met you was at Dale Halstead’s house, I forgot the name of the project you guys were working on, but that leads to my first question; how did you get involved with playing music?

JD: I started when I was 16 and I’ve been playing with a lot of different musicians in the area since then. I think what actually got me into playing was my buddy handed me a tablature book for Rush’s 2112. I was like fifteen years old and I just started playing along and listening to them. That just opened up the door to music for me, I never really looked back.

MS: Is there anything else you want to add for the readers to know about you, your music your art and the show next week?

JD: I would definitely encourage people to come down next Friday. If you haven’t seen Transmute yet, those guys put on a really killer visual show along with the music. Paloma. They’re always spot on with their live performances. Really great songwriting from Gio and also with what’s going on, we’re trying to work really hard with a lot of the local artists in the community and bringing attention to the people who are really putting their heart and soul into what they’re doing.


Joey Amspacher of TRANSMUTE

MS: How did you get involved with playing music?

JA: I’ve been involved with music from a pretty young age. I’ve always loved music. I had lessons when I was really young. It’s just been something that I’ve been involved with since as long as I can remember. I got a guitar at some point when I was younger. I was in bands in middle school. Just something I’ve always done.

MS: As far as original music in this town, what advice would you give to guys who are starting out playing music in Pensacola? They’re a lot of cover bands out here.

JA: There are a lot cover bands here (laughs). It depends on what you do or what you want to do. Trust your gut. If you want to do original music, try to treat it as art and respect it as such. Don’t follow trends. I’ve always felt with any kind of art, whether it’s film or music, if you try to please yourself, first and foremost, usually everything else will take care of itself if you’re doing it with pure intentions. Everything will work itself out; it’s when you start trying to second guess things and get too technical and too scientific about a process or something or you’re too calculated in who you’re trying to reach and all that kind of thing, to me, is when it starts to get muddy. Musically, you can feel that come out in the end product. I think most successful artists in whatever mediums they chose to work in, usually stick to that and you can kind of feel it come through.


Giovanni Lugo of PALOMA

MS: You have the show next week, local showcase at Vinyl Music Hall, from the time you started playing music in Pensacola, how would you compare that scene then to today’s Pensacola music scene?

GL: I miss…I miss the old scene. I really do. There was a time, you might notice, I think it was 101 on Garden Street…

MS: Where they had house shows…

GL: House shows, they used to do house shows and art shows. There were house shows there, Van Gogh’s, it was the house on the corner by, the punk house over by Van Gogh’s. It was The Handlebar, The Handlebar was the Vinyl. You had Ten 26 and 121, you had a couple of other venues sprawled out.

What happened then was, you talked to someone, you talked to a club owner and you said, “Hey, we want to do a show.” They’d look at the calendar and say, “Cool. You’re on it.” It’s done. And that was across the board. Now, there is still some of that, I’m speaking for myself, I can’t speak for, obviously when I was, because the kids now playing, now it’s places like Vinyl, it’s awesome that they’re allowing it and I wish it would happen more, I wish…it seems like, I mean you got this overhead, you got to meet this specific number, it gets a little intimidating in the fact that we just want an opportunity to play here. It sounds great. If there were some sort of one day out of the month, just a local showcase, do that or make it a little bit easier. It does seem to be little bit more hoops and hurdles to get on to shows. It’s something that I’ve always worked with and try to work around.

This is bittersweet because there was a time when Pensacola had nothing. It was just nothing but a ghost town. An empty street at seven o’clock. 6:30 even. And all we had was The Handlebar. All we had was Van Gogh’s, that’s it. That was our entertainment.

It was that or either drive around and hang out at Wal-Mart at three o’clock in the morning. There just wasn’t really anything to do. The occasional house show. Now, at the same time, you really have to think about a schedule or a calendar. It was just, you go downtown and you find it and you’re there. You give them your five dollars or three dollars, maybe there’s an open mic night, you just knew that at one of these two or three places, somebody was making something. You’d go just to listen, hear and see what was happening. Now it’s very organized and that’s good.

Downtown has exploded into a scene all its own. It’s awesome to see. It’s amazing to know that I can bike down at one o’clock in the morning tonight and there’ll be people in the streets and that’s great. But in terms of original music, it’s kind of hard sometimes. You really have to look through the calendar to find that. You have Sluggo’s, they do their shows from time to time and The Handlebar too. It’s like a different time. Everybody’s trying to catch up and compete with the monsters that downtown has become. It’s a good thing, it’s also…you kind of harken back to those days when it was, It’s almost circular.

MS: Just you saying that, I remember, I was in this band and I asked Cookie (Marc Cook/club owner The Basement) if we could play and he said, “Yeah. Give us a demo tape, I’ll listen to it and let you know.” He listened to it and he let us play. We booked a show and maybe five people came out and some of our friends, but we played.

GL:  Yeah, you’d have to bring a CD, bring a demo maybe or just meet somebody there and they’ll try you out. I remember having to bring a CD or a demo to Sue, to Paula over at Van Gogh’s or something like that and try your luck out and see what happened. You had to work for it a little. You had to put up fliers. You’d have fliers everywhere and trying to figure out how I’m going to catch people’s attention. You’d walk into those venues because they’d be packed out with kids just randomly doing something and sweaty and rank, just full of salt. It was cool, it was a different vibe. At the same time it was also a transition period, you know how things ran in the 80’s and 90’s historic Sluggo’s. We’re definitely going into a transition period.

-Michael L. Hulin-Smith



* Surfer Blood, PIONEERS! O PIONEERS (Final Show) , Imaginary Air Show @ Vinyl Music Hall 04/29/13


“On Oct. 27, 2013 Todd Vilardi shared the influence of Lou Reed on his Facebook page. Following Reed’s death that day, Vilardi posted a photo of the Velvet Underground, Reed’s high school picture, and a paragraph about his legacy.

‘sometimes it is blue, and sometimes it is green’ was Vilardi’s last post that day. The words were a quote from the audio artwork/radio broadcast of Delia Derbyshire & Barry Bermange’s “Colours” which accompanied the post.

The last time I saw Vilardi, he was enjoying an evening with his wife Shannon. We talked a bit and laughed a lot. Then he smiled. It was beautiful watching Vilardi play and even more powerful seeing him smile. It was the gift he gave whenever he listened to, talked about and played music.

Vilardi was music. No matter how many times I saw him, no matter where he was, or however long that moment lasted, I was always moved.

Todd Arturo Vilardi died on Oct. 28, 2013″  – Excerpt from my November 8, 2013 Pensacola News Journal Music Matters column.

One of the last times I saw Todd play was with his band Imaginary Air Show at Vinyl Music Hall. West Palm Beach, Florida rock band Surfer Blood were headliners of the show that included Imaginary Air Show and the final performance of O Pioneers! O Pioneers!

– Michael L. Smith



MICHAEL SMITH: This is my crazy question, I always have to ask you a crazy question; you can only pick one…would you want people to make love, get married or fight to the music of Ballyhoo!?

HOWI SPANGLER: Make love, man. Make love. Yeah, we were in California playing and this girl came up, and basically, her boyfriend told us that they have sex to our music, so that’s pretty rad.


(taken from my interview with the Ballyhoo! frontman for the Pensacola News Journal’s Music Matters column ahead of their show at Vinyl Music Hall).

Michael Hulin-Smith


* dada 20th anniversary tour: dada, 7Horse, Jerad Finck, Elyse Therose. 02/25/2013

Martin Scorsese knows music. The Hollywood director, whose track record of iconic films includes Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, is known for assembling songs to capture the mood of his movies.


His most recent film, 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is faithful to Scorsese’s formula of flowing rock n’ roll throughout a film’s journey. One of the most popular songs from the film is is “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker” by 7Horse. The song was originally released in 2011 on their album “Let the 7Horse Run”. The California duo is made of Phil Leavitt (drums/lead vocals) and Joie Calio (guitars and vocals) who also play with Michael Gurley in 90’s rock band dada.




20 years after the release of dada’s debut album “Puzzle”, the group celebrated by hitting the road for an anniversary tour, but on a night that included Elyse Therose, Jerad Finck and dada playing their biggest hit “Dizz Knee Land”, 7Horse also performed.

Exactly 10 months before  “The Wolf of Wall Street”  Christmas day release date,  7Horse played “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker” at Vinyl Music Hall.

– Michael L. Smith




* Dark Star Orchestra @ Vinyl Music Hall 02/19/2013 + INTERVIEW W/ ROB KORITZ 02/19/13

Donna Jean Godchaux started her career singing vocals on legendary recordings of artists like Elvis Presley and Percy Sledge. On February 19, 2013, the Grateful Dead vocalist performed with the Dark Star Orchestra at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida.


The woman whose voice is found on “Suspicious Minds”, “When a Man Loves a Woman” and other recordings from her days as a session singer at legendary Muscle Shoals Sound and Fame studios is still making her voice heard.

Deadheads were treated to a special concert as the wife of late Grateful Dead keyboardist Keith Godchaux played with one of the world’s greatest Grateful Dead tribute bands.

One week before the concert, I interviewed Dark Star Orchestra drummer Rob Koritz for the Pensacola News Journal Music Matters column.

– Michael Hulin-Smith


Rob Koritz Full Interview

MS: How did a classical and jazz drummer end up in the greatest Grateful Dead tribute band in the world?

RK: (laughs) That’s a great question. Even though I was studying classical and then studying jazz, I was still a Deadhead all the time. That was really when I was getting into the Dead and listening to jazz and even classical and other styles. I could hear where the Grateful Dead’s influences were coming from. Jazz is all over what they’re doing. I just became a really big Deadhead and then, while I was here in St. Louis playing legitimate gigs, for lack of a better term, jazz gigs, original bands and all that, I started playing in a Grateful Dead coverband with the other drummer and that’s pretty much how it happened. And I did that for a lot of years and left that to pursue some other things and a couple of years later, found out about Dark Star and they brought me in and that’s pretty much how it started almost 14 years ago.

MS: What’s the coolest about this entire Dark Star Orchestra experience for you?

RK: Probably, the very coolest thing about it has been the opportunity to play with so many of my heroes. I got to play with pretty much every member of the Grateful Dead, a bunch of other bands who’ve had a huge influence on me growing up. It’s actually kind of neat to have them sit in with us and gotten to play with them. That’s something I never could have imagined when I started playing with this group. That a pretty cool thing.

Is there one highlight, one particular moment where it just blew your mind that you were playing with this person?

RK: If I had to pick one time that really got me, it was probably one of the earlier ones. It was in 2002, the first time Bob Weir came and played with us at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. At that point, we hadn’t really played with anybody. I think we might have played with Donna at that point. We hadn’t played with a whole lot of Grateful Dead guys and I was just like, “Wow. This is amazing. I can’t believe he wants to play with us. He’s enjoying himself.” He’s very talented.

MS: I know the thing is, with fans especially, with the new deadheads growing up, who didn’t get to see the Dead, what’s been the response from the next generation of deadheads for you?

RK: That’s actually one of the coolest things about this gig. Is getting to play this music for so many people who didn’t get to see it when it was performed by the Grateful Dead. First of all, I think it’s just so amazing, it’s really a testament to the music that there’s still new fans coming on almost 20 years after the band stopped performing. It shows how important this music is in the American music vernacular. I think it’s great that they want to come out. Hopefully, we’re doing it justice and turning them on and giving them a little, very little taste of what the Dead might have been like back in the day.

MS: Aside from the Grateful Dead, what kind of music did you listen to growing up?

RK: I grew up listening to country, the oldies, reggae, early rap and hip hop, classical, rock n’ roll, jazz. You know, pretty much almost everything, even show tunes, playing show orchestras. I literally listened to everything. I still do. The only stuff that I don’t listen to is really heavy metal and speed metal and stuff like that. And not a real big fan of new country either. When I listen to country music I like to listen to the old guys.

MS: The original guys like Haggard and Cash.

RK: Yeah, Willie and Waylon. Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, there’s a ton of great old country. I don’t really listen to the new stuff, contemporary country.

MS: How did you make the transition from listening to actually playing music?

RK: I started playing, I got a snare drum and six months of drum lessons on my 7th birthday. It was “Six months and see how it goes.” And that’s what the present was. I started playing when I was seven and started taking lessons and took lessons from seven years old all the way through graduating from college.

MS: You went to the University of Arizona.

RK: I did my classical stuff at the University of Arizona, yeah.

MS: What is the most challenging part of the music you’re playing now?

RK: The most challenging part of this music these days is, part of it is you have to be challenged to listen. You can’t play this music, especially with two drummers, without being totally aware of what every other person onstage is doing. That’s the only way improvisation works. So, the biggest challenge is keeping your ears open all the time. Second challenge is trying to get the eras right that we play. Making sure that stylistically I’m playing in the 1970’s or 1980’s and doing that justice while at the same time, I get to express myself creatively and still be me. That’s the only real big challenge.

MS: We all know there’s rabid, diehard Grateful Dead fans, so I can imagine the concerts; what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your concerts?

RK: Oh man, I don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff. I couldn’t give you an answer on that. I’d have to think about what’s the absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen at a concert. I don’t know. There’s lot of different things. Definitely, just when you think you’ve seen it all, something else happens.

MS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

RK: As in music?

MS: Yes.

RK: That’s a great question. Sorry, this is my last day at home before I start this tour. Great question, no one’s ever even asked me that question in all the interviews I’ve done.

MS: Thank you.

RK: Play for the song. Don’t worry about playing for yourself and trying to fit in everything you know how to play. Play for the song. Play to do the right kind of accompaniment. Play for the singer. Play, if it even means playing simple, you play completely simple; you just play what’s right for that song.

MS: That’s excellent advice. A lot of guys don’t do that. They try to put everything in one song.

RK: Yeah, like, “Hey, look at me.” And that’s not what it’s about. It should be “Hey, listen to us.”

MS: who shared that with you?

RK: Gosh, you know. I’ve heard it from a couple of different people, but I remember hearing it from my band leaders and when I got into college studying jazz and then you can pretty much, I grew up reading-I still read it-all the Modern Drummer magazines and I don’t think you can go through an issue without seeing an article where somebody said that because it’s just the most important thing.

MS: what would Rob of today, tell a younger Rob just starting out?

RK: Practice more. That’s an easy one. (laughs) Practice more, be more dedicated.

MS: Are you pretty tough on yourself? Are you pretty critical of your work?

RK: Yeah, I’m probably my worst critic, for sure. I’ve gotten better at it over the years. I’ve learned how to let go of things because they happen so fast. I’d be mad at myself for something I did, but it happens so fast, the audience doesn’t even notice it. It’s all in your head. So I’ve learned to let go a lot.

MS: As far as being a family man and an artist, how do you juggle it all with the tour, and everything?

RK: It’s really hard; today’s the hardest day of the year for me. I’m about to leave, it’s only January. I’m about to leave tonight for the longest tour of the year, what will be our longest tour in 2013. I’m leaving tonight. I’m going to kiss my wife and my 19 month old son goodbye. It will be over a month before I see them again. That’s the tough part, but we all chose to do it. I think that’s every artist’s dilemma. You don’t want to choose between your family and what you love to do, so you have to find a way to do them both, but it’s definitely very hard when it comes time to leave to go on the road.

MS: This is my crazy food question; do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

RK: Do I what?

MS: Do you prefer crunch or creamy peanut butter?

RK: (Laughs) That’s funny. I had a peanut butter and jelly last night and it was crunchy. It was crunchy. It was honey roast crunchy.

MS: Is there anything else you want the fans to know?

RK: I want them to know that they are what we’re doing, we do it because we love this music and it’s that important to us. I want them to bring a friend. And anybody that might be skeptical because we’re a cover band or tribute band, or whatever you want to call it, Deadheads can be pretty particular fans, give it a chance because, most times, you come out and give it a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.

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