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THE NEW NORMAL: Kane Roberts On Breathing Life Into His Incredible New Album!

THE NEW NORMAL: Kane Roberts On Breathing Life Into His Incredible New Album!

Legendary guitarist Kane Roberts’ is an unstoppable force in rock music.

Of the iconic images of the ‘80s in rock n roll, one that stood the test of time is Alice Cooper’s then-Rambo-looking guitar player shooting fires on the crowds from his M-80 shaped guitar. That guitar player was none other than Kane Roberts: an accomplished musician and singer, who went on to record four solo albums (including the “Phoenix Down” project released on the Frontiers label in the late ‘90s). Kane’s name and abilities came to prominence on Alice Cooper’s “Constrictor” album, which was followed by his self-titled debut solo album in 1987. More albums and tours with Alice followed, making Kane a well-known face in the business especially for his guitar skills, his body-builder image and iconic machine-gun guitar.

As a solo recording artist, he landed a few Top 40 hits and his varied musical background includes recording, writing and touring with artists such as Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, Desmond Child, KISS, Diane Warren, Alice in Chains, Berlin, Guns N’ Roses and Garland Jeffries. He also wrote or recorded music for films like “Light Sleeper,” “Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization,” “Friday the 13th IV Jason Lives” and “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.” In 1991, his second solo album, “Saints and Sinners” for Geffen Records included the Top 40 Billboard hit “Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore,” originally written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

Kane is back with a new album and this time he made it special by involving amazing friends including Alice Cooper guesting on lead vocals in the main video/single “Beginning of the End” together with Alissa White-Gluz (of Arch Enemy). The song also features an appearance from Babymetal powerhouse drummer Aoyama Hideki. Kane also reunited his former Alice Cooper bandmates Kip Winger, Paul Taylor and Ken Mary on the album opener “Above and Beyond.” Other guest appearances include Nita Strauss (current Alice Cooper guitarist) appearing on lead guitar on “King of the World” and Lzzy Hale (of Halestorm) co-write on “The Lion’s Share.”

Three years in the making, “The New Normal” offers a unique artist ready to get back in the spotlight. Absolutely not to be missed, Kane melts the old and new in metal in an outstanding album. Enjoy it with open mind and get ready to be blown away! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the legendary Kane Roberts to discuss his life in music, fueling his creative fire and breathing life into his epic new album, ‘The New Normal.’ 

You created a tremendous career in the music industry. How did music come into your life and begin to take hold?

For me, as a kid, I started finding music like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, anybody named Jimmy actually! [laughs] No, no, I’m kidding but it was Led Zeppelin and bands like that. I became instantly obsessed with the guitar. It was one of those things! My parents got me this big, heavy Kay guitar. People who play guitar know these things, but it weighed like 50 lbs. and I was trying to deal with it! [laughs] As time went on, it took over my life. I ended up getting into a regular college, but I ended up quitting and going to the New England Conservatory of Music. Shortly after that, I ended up moving from Boston to Manhattan and that’s where Alice Cooper and his organization heard my music. They came in and saw me play without telling me. I ended up going to their office in Manhattan and meeting Bob Ezrin, Shep Gordon and Alice. I got this real sense that I was standing in front of people that changed the culture of the world. They shocked the world with their music, imagery and the messages that they put out. I got a sense that I was standing in the presence of history-makers. To be honest, I don’t get nervous in situations like that and I was fully jazzed about it. One of the reasons that Alice and I still continue as friends today, this is true, is because during that meeting, literally within 10 to 15 minutes, he and I became best friends. We’ve talked about that before. It’s almost like we knew each other before. It’s one of the reasons why my career kept rolling along because I ended up being managed by Shep and all that stuff. That is the quick, “Reader’s Digest” version of how I got into music.

Kane Roberts is just getting warmed up!

What went into finding your creative voice as a player?

I think people are born attracted to different things. For example, I’ve always loved visuals and movies with soundtracks. I was always very aware of the music. When I heard some of these bands, I started visualizing myself playing or in the different situations the lyrics were singing about. It came to a point where it completely took over my life. One of the things that happened was that when I picked up my guitar, I started getting the gratification of, “For those 2 seconds I sounded a little bit like Jimmy Page” or whoever the guitar player was. That immediate gratification and sense of visualizing myself playing on a big stage became my food or nutrition. It was what I needed to get through the day! I was lucky. I speak to some people and I say, “What do you want to do with your life?” They say, “Jeez, I don’t really know.” I kinda knew at a very young age. I was 10 or 12 years old and I realized music felt so good to me. I became obsessed with listening to all types of music, which is something I still do today. I listen to the stuff from my past and my roots. I listen to jazz. I listen to a type of music from Japan called Enka, which is a type of traditional music. I also listen to a lot of the new metal that is out there; bands like Ghost, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil. I’m always absorbing stuff! As that happened, like I said, I went to a normal university, but I knew this wasn’t the right place for me. Ultimately, I ended up at a music school, which I think was the beginning of learning about all of the discipline it took and how you must focus your brain on stuff.

What lessons did you learn early on that impacted your career trajectory?

As musicians, we always think about the music industry. “Is it good? Is it as good as it used to be? Is it better?” My personal opinion is that none of that stuff matters. In many ways, the music industry is better for you today than it has ever been. Back in the day, once you got a record deal, you walked into this huge machine and you were taken out of a lot of the process. In some ways that’s good because you say, “Oh, they’re going to take care of this. They’re gonna take care of that. They’re gonna do all the promotional stuff and whatever.” Today, you have to do stuff yourself. You have to work YouTube and the social networks. The one rule I learned back in the day was that if you become great, the world will beat a path to your door. You have to believe that! You have to believe that there is some sort of a system that is in the universe that has some sort of sense, not of justice, but that if you are doing great things people will notice. Music is a very human activity and it involves other people. There was one point, when I was practicing, that I went up to this really remote location in Maine. All I did was practice. I was working at this ballroom and I just practiced all day and night, as a kid. I was 19 years old and that was all I did. When I came back and I walked back into the jet stream of my friends and everything, it was difficult for me because I had done such a solitary thing for so long. I learned that it involves other people. You always have to have the sense that if you are doing something great, that there is going to be somebody in the audience that will notice. I remember one of Motley Crue’s managers, Doug Thaler, came to see my band play. We had met very early on in my career. We had sold out a 200-seat club, which is pretty small. I said, “Jeez, I hope that someday we can sell out bigger venues.” He said, “If you can sell out a 200-seat place, you can sell out an arena. It’s just the matter of getting your music out there and getting the right opportunities.” That’s the part that’s a little difficult. How do you get face time with the people who are going to push you into the right zone? That means you just have to be obsessed and get out there and do everything you that you can. There is the 10,000-hour rule, where you hit 10,000 hours, you can pretty much do anything you want in terms of practicing.

You have an incredible work ethic and it’s served you well. Was that instilled in you or something you developed over time?

It might have been stuff that maybe my parents instilled in me; the idea that you have to work to get things. One thing that I have shared with Alice and something we have talked about is how people always talk about how bad it is to be obsessed with things. Well, I think it’s a good thing! What kind of balance are you looking for in your life? For example, you’re a writer. This is what you do for your creative push out there in the world. The times that you are obsessed with it and it’s all you can do, that’s when you get the system going of getting better, learning and evolving. I think that is what happened with me. Like I said, music became my drug so to speak. It became my recreation, my fun, my hobby, my work and my future. I was just lucky to start perceiving it that way somewhere in my teens and later teens especially. As soon as I ended up with Alice Cooper, got out on stage and was doing all that sort of stuff, that is when I began to learn about the real world. I was lucky to keep that sort of vertical curve going but I never felt like it was too much work. I never felt like, “Jeez, I need to take a break.” In another sense, I was one of those guys who never wanted the tour to end. Everybody else wanted to go home but I could’ve been out there nonstop for 10 years and it would have been great!

How have you evolved over the course of your career?

I started listening to other people and a lot of times I was copying what they were doing. I would write a song and it might be similar to a Van Halen song or whatever. You rely on your roots, whether it’s bands from the past, blues or whatever. That stuff will have its way with you but as time goes on you begin to change. One of the things that’s really critical when you’re writing, practicing or soloing, is knowing that Mr. Mediocre is sitting right next to you saying, “Just do this easy thing that you always do.” You have to push that guy away and that helps you get closer to the envelope you are trying to push. For example, when I was recording this new album, I decided not to take the easy road and not to do the expected thing. It wasn’t an effort to walk away from my roots but a matter of being really honest with stuff.

There is another thing that, I think, is a very strange phenomenon. Whatever it is you do creatively, if you say to yourself, “I’m going to stop … ” and you stop. Now, I didn’t do this, but let’s say I did. Let’s say I stopped, walked away from it and in 10 years I picked it up again. In that 10-year period, I still evolved as a musician because who you creatively absorbs the things you see during the day, the people that you meet, emotions that you feel and girls who you fall in love with or get your heart broken by. All of that stuff is absorbed along with the music that you hear. It changes you as an artist. If you start getting your chops back together, your technique and skill, you’re going to be a different musician. I think once you start pushing the creative boulder, at whatever age that is, it’s going to keep rolling to a certain degree. Maybe your skills won’t, if you walk away, but you will keep moving in some direction because it encompasses every aspect of your life. The thing is with me that I have evolved as an artist and writer.

I’m still writing a little bit, I was playing a lot of guitar and singing a bit, but I wasn’t doing anything in the public jet stream. When I sat down and started this record, I had changed! I had been listening to so many different things and the things that I gravitated towards were different and we were noticing that! This album actually took me three years. It’s because, after six months, I would listen back to what I was doing and say, “Jeez, ya know, I’m singing a lot better now. My instinct is to do this, but this other thing has emerged. Let’s re-record that vocal!” I was lucky to be in the studio where I had a chance to do that. I also had a record company that said it’s okay to take three years, which was pretty incredible! [laughs]

Kane Roberts’ ‘The New Normal’ is available now via Frontiers Records.

Tell us more about your vision for this album, “The New Normal,” as you entered into the creative process.

I didn’t want to do anything proactive. In other words, I didn’t want to say, “I want this record to appeal to this crowd. I want to make sure that I don’t sound like this anymore … .” or “I want to sound this way or that way.” I had to sit down and do things that I like. I was really fortunate to be working with my co-producer, Alex Track. He’s also a musician, so we would create something and then just go on instinct. Our first run at the songs were all just what we like, and it was that kind of a thing. Then, we would start to structure the songs and give more of a substantive feel and make the structure a little bit more interesting. We started thinking that each song could be like a script to a movie. We thought of the whole piece in a very cinematic sense, which is calling back on that visual sense that I have. We’re actually putting together a video for one of the songs, “Beginning of The End,” which features Alice Cooper and Alissa White-Gluz. I was actually able to get Alissa and Alice in the same location to shoot the video, which was a miracle unto itself! [laughs] My point is that we decided not to do a performance video. We wanted to make it a series of visuals that had a sort of obtuse narrative to it, where people can write their own script to it visually. It’s kinda the way we felt with the whole record. The messaging on the record is a little different than the normal thing of, “I met a girl and she broke my heart.” It’s not in that realm. It’s got more of a, for lack of a better word, modern approach to the way the world is. That’s why I called the album, “The New Normal.” On the cover, you see this girl with tattoos all over her and she’s wearing this insane mask and everything. If you saw that image 30 years ago, it would’ve completely shocked you! Today, you’re looking at it and going, “Ya know, I’ve seen that before.” So, there is the new normal, ya know?! [laughs]

I’m glad you mentioned the cinematic aspect of the album because having listened to it at length, that stood out to me.

I wanted the songs to almost sound conversational in the lyrics. “Beginning of the End,” once you get Alice Cooper into it, it turns into some really bizarre, crazy, horror movie, shock sorta thing because Alice is so dominant. However, a lot of the other songs are dealing with how we feel about life and those thoughts that are in our heads and spoken in a more current way, as opposed to what was being done before in rock. I’m not the only one doing it, I’m just saying that’s the approach that I took, so I’m glad you noticed!

As you mentioned, you have tremendously talented people involved on this album. What did they bring out in you creatively?

Take a guy like Kip Winger for example. He’s someone I knew from Alice’s band and, of course, we remained friends. He’s still prolific! He’s got his solo thing and still touring and recording with Winger. He also got the Grammy nomination for classical music. He’s someone who is really on fire still, when it comes to playing. The same thing is true with Ken Mary, who is playing with Flotsam & Jetsam now. That’s not an easy ride on the drums, ya know! [laughs] He’s killing it! I wanted people whose standard was so high that I had to step up and meet the standard. I knew I would get great stuff from them. If the foundation of what I am doing is on that high of a level, it’s only going to help me! I called up Nita Strauss. She was the first person I called because I wanted to go back and forth on a guitar solo. The song is called “King of The World.” When she plays that first riff, that’s some serious ball-clanging shredding going on there! I was amazed and I thought to myself, “I’ve got to get my fuckin’ act together!” It woke me up, ya know! She’s playing so good that I have to play good as well too because she’s such an amazing artist. So, I pulled in people who were doing something different. Alissa and Nita are both knocking down walls and shattering glass ceilings all over the place! With Alissa, Arch Enemy walks out on stage and it’s these big guys playing this massive metal and suddenly Alissa walks out there and owns the audience and owns the stage! It’s just an unexpected thing but it pushes us into thinking about the world a little differently. They’re both really dedicated, serious, professional artists. I really lucked out across the board!

Kane Roberts, Alice Cooper and Alissa White-Gluz.

Where do you see this project headed in the near future?

Right now, I’m into a video mindset, as opposed to touring. The touring thing requires an amount of response to the record, it’s that sort of a thing. It requires a certain way to view how many people I can reach. Right now, I want to do a series of three to five videos. That’s my first thing to make this thing a visual and audio project for people. We purposely recorded this stuff, so it had moments of cinematic atmosphere, like I said. I’m really going to concentrate on that to start and if it seems to be a viable enterprise or something I ought to do, I will go through the hard work of putting together a killer band and do some live shows as well.

Bringing “The New Normal” to life has been a big part of your life for the past three years. What was the biggest challenge along the way?

The biggest challenge was the unknown. I always relish that! There is a song called “Leave Me In The Dark” on this album and it’s about the things that we don’t know. I didn’t know what to expect in a lot of ways, but I was very hungry for it because from what we don’t know, from the dark, that’s where faith emerges. In other words, if it’s completely dark and you take a step, you’re thinking, “There’s gotta be floor there or something!” At least that’s your hope! So, you take the step! I’m not talking about this in a religious sense, although that works for some people. I’m talking about real self-discovery as you move forward in this world. At the end of the day, when I finished the record, I was really pleased with the whole process! You think about it and five days a week, five nights a week for three years and I put together this video with Alice and Alissa — I really got into it! It’s one of those things where I was spitting blood to get this stuff out there! [laughs] I hope everyone appreciates it but putting this stuff out into the public jet stream, like I said, there are going to be haters and lovers and everything in between but I look at it as being all good!

You invested a lot of time on this over the past three years. What is your focus now that you have those days and nights open! [laughs]

Ya know, I don’t know if I’m going to do another project. What I think is that if I can fill my days and nights with developing these videos and watching the response, that might influence what the creative process might be moving forward. I’m already mapping out the second video while we’re producing this one. I think that’s how this project will fill my days and nights over the next year or so!

Kane Roberts in the wild.

That’s awesome! We are just scratching the surface of your life in music. What is the biggest lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?

I think it goes back a little bit to what I said before. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do,” then you’ve got to check yourself. You have to think to yourself, “What is my real job in life?” I think the real job is to wake up happy every day. People would say to me, when I was a kid, “There are millions of guitar players out there. Why do you think you’re going to make any noise?” My answer was unclear. I would say, “I’m gonna do it. I’m not going to stop. No matter what I’m going to keep going.” I just knew I was going to do that. However, the real reason was that I wanted to be happy every day and that’s what made me happy! I was lucky enough to get that stuff on my fingers and in my hands, from listening and singing when I was very young. I said, “This is what I want to do.” As you know, Ernest Hemingway is this amazing author. Somebody said to him, “Why did you become a writer.” This was in the 1950s or something like that. He said, “So I could wake up at 4 p.m. every day.” In other words, “I wanted to do what I wanted to do!” That was it! I think that is something we have to take care of. I talk about obsession and balance. Part of that balance is having to walk out, make money, live and do all that stuff but if you have that one time during your day where you walk into your room and you’re doing the shit that makes you happy, then I think life is going to be good! Like I said, if it becomes something your obsessed with in that light, I think the world will beat a path to your door. I think that’s the sort of unknown, faith and dark that I operate in.

It’s cool to hear the excitement in your voice about this project and the creativity it will usher in. Just chatting with you briefly, it’s hard not to be inspired. Any chance you might do a book at some point to spread this energy further?

I think at some point I might write something. If I did, it would be a smaller book with illustrations. It would be more of an experience kind of book, as opposed to a straight read. There would be a lot of content, but the point would be, rather than expounding upon stuff for 300 pages, I would keep it really tight and make it about lessons in life. One of the things I’ve learned is to break up the pattern. That comes from lifting weights, where you don’t always do the same routine. If you go to work every day, take a different route one of those days. Do something different. All that stuff shakes us up and tips over the apple cart. I think it makes us something more as people!

That’s a great outlook! Thanks so much for your time today!

Thank you so much, Jason! I really appreciate the opportunity. I look forward to talking with you again soon. Have a great day!

Follow the continuing adventures of Kane Roberts through social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. ‘The New Normal’ is available through all music retailers now via Frontiers Records!

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Legendary Shock Jock Tom Leykis Discusses His Long Awaited Return!

Legendary Shock Jock Tom Leykis Discusses His Long Awaited Return!

In February of 2009, after 21 years of outraging Southern California drive time radio listeners, as well as a nationally syndicated audience, longtime LA radio shock jock Tom Leykis left the air . As so often happens in the radio business, listeners were left wondering why he was gone and where he went. One thing was for sure, his departure left a massive hole in the world of his listeners, as well as the radio landscape. Those who have listened to Tom Leykis at length know that he is not the type of man that would fade quietly into the night. He spent his time off-air hatching a plan that would bring him back to the forefront of audio entertainment — a plan that just  might serve as one of the final nails in the coffin of the arcane radio industry. On April 2nd, Leykis triumphantly returned to his masses of adoring fans with a new daily show and proved he hadn’t lost a step after an amazing 37 months off the air! As he will be quick to tell you, radio is not the industry it once was and this time, so he’s taking no chances of being made invisible again by the brick-and-mortar terrestrial radio industry. How does he plan on doing it you ask?  Easily! This time “The Tom Leykis Show” will be delivered to the people unfiltered via the internet where it can be heard live and on 24/7 streamed replays at www.blowmeuptom.com as well as through media players such as the TuneIn application for Android phones and iPhones — anywhere but on terrestrial radio! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tom Leykis to discuss his humble beginnings, his abrupt departure from the airwaves, blazing the trail of an exciting new medium and much more! Without further ado, “Helllllllooooooo, Tom!”

Tom, we are excited to talk to you. First off, we wanted to welcome you back and congratulate you on the return of The Tom Leykis Show!

Thank you very much!

We always like to give our readers a little background on who we are talking to. You made a tremendous career for yourself. How did you initially get involved with broadcasting?

Tom Leykis Is Back!

It all started when I won a contest when I was 14 years old! A radio station had offered an hour of time to a high school student who wrote the best letter. I wrote a letter and they called me to come down to the radio station. That was in Babylon, Long Island — New York. That was where I was at the time.

What was it about that medium that made you pursue it as a career?

Well, I saw you could make money at it and I liked the idea of making money!

[laughs] There is nothing wrong with that idea!

No, not at all! [laughs]

Looking back on the early days of your career, did you think you would be still going strong all these years later?

I would never have believed I got as far as I have gotten, quite frankly. I grew up in a dirt poor working class family in the Bronx. We lived in the South Bronx in an $80 a month, one bedroom apartment with four kids. I had no right to believe that I would ever reach the heights that I have been able to reach or make the money I have been able to make by doing what I love. A lot of people I grew up with were not as lucky.

To what do you attribute your longevity?

I read a lot, I pay attention to what is going on and I always give the listener what they want and I never worry about criticism from people who say my content is edgy or tasteless. I never listen to criticism. I never worry about what people think except for the people in my audience. Those are the only people whose thoughts matter to me and I give them exactly what they ask for no matter what others think.

And we appreciate that, sir!

Thank you!

Can you tell us a little bit about your departure from terrestrial radio a few years back?

The business of radio, the actual business of it, is imploding as we speak. People love radio content. They love audio content. I mean, you can’t drive around and watch television! You can’t look at a screen. Many times when you are on a plane you may just want to close your eyes and listen to something. People want audio content but the radio is an outdated, outmoded appliance. Many people confuse the content of what is on radio with the appliance. In other words, they say, “Oh, this is radio.” In reality, our audio content isn’t treated that way. The example I like to use is of the Rolling Stones. When Americans first heard the Rolling Stones they were being played on vinyl, on 45s. When the 8 track tape came out, no one said, “The Rolling Stones, that is a vinyl act! That will never work on tape!” [laughs] No, it was audio content and it went to another medium. Then cassettes came out and the Rolling Stones went to cassette and then they went on to CDs. There was never any question that the audio content would transcend the appliance. In the radio business, because radio has been around so long and people have so many romantic notions about it. Example — the iconic scene in the film “American Graffiti” in which Richard Dreyfuss is spying on Wolfman Jack in his studio. He is watching from a distance and he gets to meet his idol. We have such a romance, such a passion about the history of radio, we don’t imagine decoupling the content from the appliance. But the reality is that people want the content but the radio business is in such trouble right now, we have to find other ways to get it to people. People want to have their content on any kind of gadget, be it iPhone, Android, iPads and even Blackberries for heaven’s sake, and they want their content when they want it! They want it now! Radio has not responded to the demands of the public. They make it very complicated to find radio content online and have been dragging their feet about providing podcasts in a usable form and a customer friendly form. They still have this idea that radio is complacent listening and that people are going to tune in at a particular time. The reality is that Steve Jobs or any number of other people in the technology field have said, “People want their content wherever, whenever, however and on any device.” Radio has not provided that to the public, so we took what was a radio show and we are giving the people what they want in every possible way. You can listen to us on any device except a radio! Anywhere, any time. Our stream is on 24/7! If you can’t listen to us live from 3 to 6 or 3 to 7 p.m. PST, we run different lengths every day, it continues to repeat 24 hours a day! It is always on. We have hundreds and hundreds of listeners at 3 a.m. People listen from around the world!

The other limitation in the radio business is the arcane syndication system of radio, where syndicated shows are heard in some cities but not others. Our show was wildly popular in New York, Seattle, Phoenix and Dallas but it couldn’t even get on the air in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and most of the time, New York City! But now, because we are distributed by Internet, we can be heard anywhere on Earth with an Internet connection and no people are going to act as funnels. There was a guy in New York that I like to talk about. He is the program director of WFAN radio named Mark Chernoff. He was once the program director of an FM talk station in New York called WNEW FM. We were talking to him about the show being on the station on a regular basis. He said, “This show will never work in New York.” Now, that may be true or it may not be true but how do you know until the people have had a chance to listen to it? You know, the way TV works is, let’s say ABC put a new show on Sunday nights. They put it on and it is on in every city where ABC broadcasts. They don’t say it is on in LA and Seattle but it is not on in Chicago! [laughs] It’s just not done that way! With the Internet, it is the great equalizing force! Anyone, anywhere can listen to my show and decide whether or not it is for them. No curator or as we call them, human funnels, the people who funnel content so only certain content gets to your ears and other content does not. Now, we don’t have to deal with the opinions of individuals.

Was it difficult for you to be away from the scene for so long and how excited are you to be back up and running at full steam?

Tom Leykis

To be honest with you, the 37 months that I had off, a little over three years, was the best thing that have ever happened to me. The last six months that I had been working in radio, we had been coming in to work everyday knowing that the format might change. It was not a very happy time. I spent that first year just chilling out because I hadn’t had time off since 1994, except for normal vacations and weekends. I really hadn’t had any substantial time to myself. At the end of that first year, that is when I had the idea to create my own company and create my own safe place to create content that people really want instead of using the radio model of trying to monopolize as many radio stations as possible and then shove stuff down your throat. That is the way it works now. I have a ranch up in northern Santa Barbara County and you turn on the radio at 12 noon, AM radio, and it is Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity! Every station is playing the same thing. We wanted to create a place where people could find all new stuff, all new content and not niche content — mass appeal content that doesn’t necessarily spend the entire day discussing Obamacare all day long!

Tell us more about the new format and content you are offering up when listeners hit www.blowmeuptom.com and the options they have there.

First of all, you get all of the options to listen to the show. There is complete information about every media player and how to listen to us on WinAmp, SHOUTcast, TuneIn and all of the devices. You also get access to our other content. We have three 24/7 music formats. There is an active rock format, a Top 40 format and an Indie Music format. We also have a number of podcasts which we produce, including a wine tasting show that I have been doing for years that is also a syndicated radio show. We have two other personalities who do shows related to alcohol, in one way or another. That is done by a fellow named Dan Dunn who was the wine and spirits editor at Playboy magazine, the so-called “The Imbiber.” There is Natalie Bovis, who is a blogger who calls himself “The Liquid Muse.” He has a podcast called “One of The Road.” Finally, we have “The Gary and Dino Show” which was our first original program developed specifically for the Internet. Gary Zabransky is the producer of “The Tom Leykis Show” and Dean DeMilio was the screener. We gave them a place where they could develop their own act and their own show which they have been doing for a couple of years now and it is just hysterically funny. Even though we have continued producing “The Tom Leykis Show,” the “Gary and Dino Show” continues as well!

You told us about the evolution of radio and how it affected the show and made content key. How do you feel you evolved in the process? Is that something you pay attention to?

Well, I pay attention to what people are talking about. When you do what I do, and no one ever thinks about it this way, and thank God because I have very little competition … [laughs] and I do what I do as a result, is pay attention to what people care about and talk about that! Where people go astray in my business is they forget why they are there! I am there to A) draw as many listeners as possible, B) take those numbers and sell them to ad agencies and C) monetize all of that content. That is my job. My job is not to get presidents elected or voted out of office. My job is not to help a particular political party. I am not here to run for any political office myself.

I am not here to change the world. I am here to entertain people who have a little time to kill! Then, we sell a little advertising and hopefully they listen to the ads in between. I am amazed at the number of people who take themselves so seriously, just look at all of the conservative talk shows on talk radio! These guys all take themselves very seriously and they think they are somehow making a difference in politics but last time I looked, the president is Barack Obama! In California, both of the senators are both Democrats, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The governor of California, who couldn’t be more of a liberal, is Jerry Brown. The mayor of Los Angeles is Antonio Villaraigosa! So, from where I am sitting, you have conservative talk radio and all of these people acting like they are so important but they can’t get anybody elected. They can’t! And Obama is going to win again despite conservative talk radio! These guys, it’s all an act. Look, I worked in talk radio and I know how it works. It is all an act by all of these guys but to anyone who believes they have any power, look at the results!

You tend to put it all out there on a daily basis but what do you think the biggest misconception is about yourself at this point in time?

Tom Leykis

Many people confuse what I do on the air with what kind of person I am. They somehow think I am manifestly irresponsible, dangerous or that I just do any old thing. What they don’t know about me is that I am a businessman and that every move I make is calculated to make a living and to make money. I may sound irresponsible but I am a self-made multi-millionaire who has made a living for years being on the radio and now I aim to do it on the Internet! It is done by treating it in a business way and by never treating it in such a way that it is an ego trip or that it is anything but a show to be an advertising vehicle.

Do you think there will ever be a point where we get an autobiography out of you to learn more about the man behind the mic and all of your endeavors? I imagine that would be quite a read!

I don’t think it is impossible! I haven’t even thought about it at this point because I am so busy living my life, I haven’t had a lot of time to be introspective about it at this point. To me, I feel that I am in the most dynamic period of my life where I am not only doing a show but I also own and am running a business. I invested a million dollars to start this business. I took on no partners, no bank loans, nothing, to start this business on my own. For me, it is a big crap shoot and I am working very hard to make it pay off! It would be a luxury to sit there, take notes and write down everything that has happened to me over the years because it is still happening.

Despite the current state of the radio industry, I am sure there are many out there still pursuing it as a potential career. What advice do you have for them?

Don’t go to radio. Radio is dying and I don’t say that happily. Radio was my best friend. I think of radio today as if I have a friend for many, many years who is now very, very sick. We can’t plan to take vacations together or go to the beach anymore or party anymore. All I can do is visit him in the hospital every once so often and make sure he is comfortable. That is how I see radio today. I am not happy that radio is dying but it is finally meeting the same ignominious end that the Pony Express, the icebox and the local corner grocery store had to deal with. The business has been Gordon Gecko’d, it has been squeezed like an orange and the result is that working in radio is like working on the first floor of the World Trade Center on September 11th and wondering what is going on. I am sad to see that and frankly, I would have much rather gone to a radio station and continued doing what we were doing that way but unfortunately the government has allowed people to own, essentially, an unlimited number of radio stations. The result is that people have done in this business what they have done in so many others, they borrowed billions of dollars and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in debt services to finance these purchases and when the economy fell off a cliff in 2008, these companies couldn’t make the money back. They were like the underwater homeowners that you find in various American suburbs. It is like the people living here in southern California in Corona or Palmdale who bought houses that sell for $100,000 and they bought them for half a million and now they are underwater. Radio is exactly like that right now. These companies on 800 or 1,000 radio stations and they are underwater. They can’t pay! What do they do in return? They fire hundreds upon thousands of people and replace them with these syndicated programs and play it everywhere — all with the same content and format. It is sad.

I will give you an example. I was at Yosemite National Park not too long ago and I was on my way home. It was about two hours from the hotel inside the park, The Ahwahnee, before you reach the exit to the park. A half an hour later, I am passing through Fresno. Clear Channel still has a number of radio stations in Fresno and we were listening to one of them. At the end of the song, a voice came on the radio and said “That was Taylor Swift. I’m Ryan Seacrest and we have more coming up!” It didn’t tell us what city it was, the name of the station or what frequency it was at. It was the disembodied voice of Ryan Seacrest coming out of a machine! That is not what people listen to the radio for! People want to get information and be kept company. They want to feel like they know the people on the radio. They don’t want to listen to a tape of Ryan Seacrest! [laughs] The radio business is going to find this out as time goes on.

I still believe in the magic of radio. It is very much like “The Wizard of Oz” and going behind that curtain and finding out it is just a guy with a big microphone! [laughs] It is very much like that! There is magic in radio if it is done right! But if you turn it into nothing more than a jukebox with a bunch of disembodied voices, eventually the people will begin to drift away and it is already happening. It is sad and I am not happy to say it but it is true.

It seems you are in a great place creatively these days. What do you feel the future holds for you? No plans on packing it anytime soon, I hope!

Tom Leykis

Oh, no! No, I am definitely not packing it in any time soon. I am having the most fun I have had in 20 years — not just doing the show but the whole package, from the technical end of getting it up and running and how hard we had to work to get an Internet show to sound like a radio show. I mean, we could have been a podcast and I could have sat at my kitchen table with a can and a string and recorded a show and dumped it out for the public to listen to but we decided to have a real studio and do it live! We have live interaction and live phone calls. Very few people are doing that specifically for the Internet and I would say even fewer even have any background in the radio business and know how to do it that way. As we are looking back from the day we are recording this, (April 10th, 2012) SHOUTcast has us as the number three stream in the world! At that point, it was only our seventh show! I think we are in a very good position here and I think we are the number one or two talk show on an Internet stream. Keep in mind that SHOUTcast has over 53,000 streams at any given time!

That is awesome! Is there anything you would like to add before you are on your way to the studio?

I just want to tell people that they can hear our content 24/7 on www.blowmeuptom.com. We really encourage people to come and check out what we are building here. If someone has a great idea for a show and they are willing to roll the dice and put the content up, we would help them and have them share the revenue with us. We are more than happy to talk to folks about that! All I want to say is that we love being on the Internet, I miss radio and I feel bad that it is in such terrible shape right now. Most of all, I am very optimistic about the future!

Tom, it has been a pleasure getting a glimpse into your world. The show sounds fantastic and we are proud to help spread the word on it. Thank you for your time today, sir!

Thank you! I have enjoyed it very much! Any time!

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Legendary Shock Jock Tom Leykis Returns Uncut And Uncensored After Three Year Absence!

Legendary Shock Jock Tom Leykis Returns Uncut And Uncensored After Three Year Absence!

Longtime LA radio shock jock Tom Leykis returns Monday, April 2nd at 3 PM Pacific time, uncut and uncensored, with a daily show produced specifically for internet distribution at http://www.blowmeuptom.com.

After 21 years of outraging Southern California drive time radio listeners, Tom Leykis left the air in February of 2009. And, as so often happens in the radio business, listeners were left wondering why he was gone and where he went.

The answers will be found when Leykis returns for a new daily show after an amazing 37 months off the air when The Tom Leykis Show on April 2nd at 3 PM Pacific time.

And this time, he’s taking no chances of being made invisible again by the brick-and-mortar terrestrial radio industry because the show will be heard live and on 24/7 streamed replays at http://www.blowmeuptom.com as well as through media players such as the TuneIn application for Android phones and iPhones, but not on radio.

Leykis, who for 12 years was one of LA’s top-rated afternoon radio personalities on LA’s former KLSX 97.1 FM (and who for eight years was the afternoon counterpart to Howard Stern’s legendary morning show), suddenly left the air when the station’s owner, CBS Radio, decided for economic reasons to change the station’s format to top-40.

So why didn’t Leykis, who had never in his career been out of work for more than a few months, simply go to another radio station and pick up where he left off? It was because he had signed a five-year guaranteed contract to provide his daily show and any potential streams or podcasts exclusively to CBS. The result was that, when KLSX changed format, Leykis was paid his full salary to do absolutely nothing from 2009 until March 31st 2012, which is one week from Saturday.

“After taking a few months off, I took a good hard look at the radio business that I’ve loved since I was a kid and realized that it’s now in a world of hurt. Deregulation of the broadcasting business allowed companies that once owned a dozen radio stations to, within about a decade, own hundreds of stations,” Leykis says.

“And they didn’t buy those stations with money stashed in a mattress. The companies borrowed money and, in many cases, are in economic situations that mirror those of the underwater homeowners we read so much about.”

So Leykis, as he has so many times in his career, decided to reinvent himself as an entrepreneur, creating his internet audio content company The New Normal (http://www.newnormalnetwork.com) in 2010.

Leykis says that, rather than feeling like punishment, having three years off with full pay has been “liberating.”

“Imagine having three years to learn as much as you can about new ways of doing things, about what is possible, as well as having time to relax and refresh,” he says.

“What I found,” says Leykis, “was that, unlike radio, we start with a clean balance sheet and that we can produce the same or better content without real estate, without big, expensive and outdated equipment such as transmitters and satellite dishes, and without government regulation. We can be heard anywhere in the world rather than in select radio markets. We can produce technically better-sounding audio content more cheaply and we don’t have limitations as to content or what kinds or advertising we can accept. And we don’t have to answer to the FCC.”

And what about the recent controversies involving Rush Limbaugh or KFI Radio’s John & Ken Show? “Those are good examples of the influence of large conglomerate ownership of the broadcasting industry,” says Leykis. “Whether you agree with what those hosts said or not, what made talk radio great for all those years was the ability to be outrageous and to not have to apologize for it. That’s another great reason for moving my business to the internet.”

Is he excited to be returning to doing a daily call-in show? “Absolutely,” he says, “but this time it’s as much about taking pride of ownership as it is about doing an outrageous show.”

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