Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with Indie Artist Shawn Colvin

Three-time Grammy Award winner, Shawn Colvin, broke into the world of mainstream music with her popular song, "Sunny Came Home." Shawn Colvin's 22 year career span has continued to thrive due to her loyal fan base and staying true to her grassroots sound of contemporary rock music, which is beautifully displayed in her new album, All Fall Down. For this album Colvin collaborated with several renowned artists such as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Jakob Dylan. The singer/songwriter talks with about her latest artistic work as both a singer and recent publisher. You have a new book, Diamond in the Rough, coming out next month (June 5th). Can you tell me what it’s all about?

Shawn Colvin: It’s a memoir. It basically covers parts of my life that I wanted to share with readers.

TCC: I have a few questions in regards to excerpts from your book. The first one is your view on alcohol abuse. You stated, ‘I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to, I was drinking because I had to.’ Could you elaborate on that?

SC: Well, I was addicted to alcohol and needed it for various reasons in order to function. I don’t know if every addict is the same in terms of how they started. But for me it was just to calm the anxiety, calm the voices, and my depression. It was like a medicine. That’s why I had to take it.

TCC: You also stated in your book that ‘You contemplated suicide daily.’ Why do you think there is a connection between suicide and being an artist?

SC: That’s a very good question. There is a level of sensitivity to artists. I don’t know why we are born this way. I think with some people it is congenital. But, in some cases, it is a misconception. Several artists that I know are not suicidal at all. The truth is I’ve been the most creative and done my best work when I wasn’t feeling depressed. So artists can be happy, well adjusted people and still be creative.

But the comment I made was a bit of a joke. I was describing my relationship with my friend, Roy Stokes. It was the despair that Roy understood and not something everyone else got. It’s not like we would actually go through with it.

TCC: So it was more of a not-too-serious, off-the-cuff statement?

SC: Yes, it was a message of how Roy and I understood the darkness we had in each other.

TCC: Another statement you made in Diamond in the Rough is that ‘I worked too hard to fulfill this dream that so caters to my ego. The attention of an audience is still paramount to my well-being.’ Do you feel fame in general equates with a person’s desire to be accepted and loved by others?

SC: The desire to be famous? Yeah, I think it does. But anybody’s profession caters to their ego if they have a stake at being good at what they do and are proud of that. Hearing an audience applauding for me does cater to my ego as a singer. But at the basis of the attention I get I desire to move people because I’ve been moved by other artists that mean the world to me.

TCC: At concerts do people still ask you to sing “Sunny Came Home”?

SC: Oh yeah! I really like that song. I think it is really cool what happened with it.

TCC: Do you think it is tough for an artist or band to break out of the mold of being labeled a one-hit-wonder after having a successful song or two?

SC: There are fans that got brought in because of the hit song and chances are if you didn’t have another hit song you kind of lost them. In my case, when I first started off as a singer I didn’t come out immediately with a hit song. I built a real loyal following over the years. So they don’t ask for “Sunny Came Home” that much. They want to hear all kinds of other stuff. I’m really lucky that way.

TCC: What’s your favorite song on your upcoming album, All Fall Down?

SC: I know that it is such a tempting question to ask. I do like the title track “All Fall Down” it’s certainly one of my favorites.

TCC: I like that one too. I also like “American Jerusalem”. There are a lot of metaphors used in it. Why was that song put on the album?

SC: It was put on the album because it’s a great song. It really describes the New York vibe that I grew up in. I’ve spent 13 to 14 years here, mostly as a struggling artist. I learned about this song back in the early 80s from a writer named Rod MacDonald. He was current among all the struggling singers and songwriters that I knew at that time. The song is a great poetic description of life in New York then and now.

TCC: Back then in the 90s indie music dominated the radio, especially female artists like Sarah McLachlan and Jewel. Nowadays we mostly hear Pop music. What do you think about Pop dominating music today?

SC: I think it is the inevitable. Change in music always happens at some point. It goes along with whatever is trending. It is what it is. My parents thought some of the stuff I listened to growing up was crap. Some of the stuff I think my daughter listens to is crap. Even though she might not think so I have to respect that.

But every now and then you have artists come out that are ridiculously talented, like Adele. She has transcended music that fits with the current trend of Pop. I do like some of that type of music, but certainly not all of it.

TCC: Besides Adele are there any other new artists you currently like?

SC: I could only speak for some of the singles I’ve listened to, like Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Gotye with “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Those are just a couple of examples.

Shawn Colvin’s eighth studio album, All Fall Down, will be released the same day as her published memoir, Diamond in Rough, on June 5. Be sure to go to her website, , for her upcoming concert dates as well as her scheduled book and CD signings.

Written by: Bridget Campos


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview with Katlin Mastandrea from 'The Middle' and 'Anger Management'

Katlin Mastandrea is a young actress that's relatively new to the world of television. Katlin tells about her background as a struggling young actress in Hollywood, including what it was like working with her co-stars on Anger Management and also her recurring role as Weird Ashley in an upcoming episode on The Middle. What made you want to be an actress?

Katlin Mastandrea: I’ve always liked to entertain people and make them laugh. Like my little brother, whenever he’s down I would contort my face in various funny positions just to make him laugh. But I really started thinking about acting when I was 10. I sat down with my mom and told her that I did research on acting and I would very much like to do this. After she talked with my dad about it my family was in full support of my career. After getting the feel of acting and going through trial and error, we permanently moved to L.A. in 2009 to hopefully find some work.

TCC: Pursuing a career in acting can be difficult. Who has inspired you to keep going despite any obstacles you went through?

KM: My family - like my mom and brother. Of course my dog! (Laughs) He’s always sitting there looking at me. Their support helped me keep going. Sometimes I would feel down but then I would be like ‘I cannot let this get to me.’ I still have this fighting flame that’s never gone out. That’s always nice to have.

TCC: Are there any stars in particular you would like to work with?

KM: I would have to say Jim Carrey, Helen Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp. They do such good work when it comes to playing a wide range of characters that are wonderfully expressive and not really ordinary.

TCC: Since you would also like to star in movies, is there any particular genre you feel would showcase your acting skills?

KM: I suppose comedy and drama. But I would like to try any genre just to see how far I can challenge myself. Maybe I would be able to pull off some pretty good work.

TCC: What’s another career you would have liked to do other than acting?

KM: Marine biology. One of the reasons why I like L.A. is the ocean, especially the deep sea. You get to see the sea creatures with several tentacles and kooky, multiple eyes. I just love all that stuff. I also love coral reefs. It is so beautiful. I’ve always wanted to save our ocean because it’s in trouble. Maybe one day make a movie or documentary about that. Helping the marine life is what I’m passionate about. Oh, and acting of course!

TCC: Tell me a little about you role in Anger Management.

KM: I can’t say too much about my character. Only that her name is Olivia and her best friend is Sam, whom is Charlie [Sheen]’s daughter on the show. Sam started a college prep club, which Olivia and some other friends are a part of. That is all I can give about the show until it airs.

But the show is really funny. Even participating at the reading table has been very funny. The whole cast has a great sense of humor, especially Charlie [Sheen]. I did get to work with him a little bit. He has so many ideas in his head. When he gets on set he knows what to do and bounces ideas off the director and everyone else. The set has been a very nice and relaxed environment.

TCC: So you never experienced any of Charlie Sheen’s crazy antics that were widely publicized in the news last year? Does he ever say his famous catchphrases like ‘Tiger Blood’ or ‘Winning’?

KM: From what I’ve seen on the set he’s been very professional. In fact, whenever some of the other young girls and myself were around the set he would try to watch his language.

TCC: You play a recurring role on the series, The Middle. What’s the one thing you like about playing the character, Weird Ashley?

KM: I like that she is not your average high schooler. It’s cool to play someone that is not normal because you can do stuff that’s odd and make it look funny.

TCC: In real life did you ever experience awkward moments in school when you felt like Weird Ashley?

KM: Yeah, when I was in school I would try to blend in but ended up being a wallflower type because I was skeptical about people getting too close to me. But there was a part of me that wanted to be funny and tell jokes. Yet, my awkward side would come out when people would say to me ‘How is that funny?’ So I did experience awkward moments like that.

TCC: What do Middle fans have to look forward to for the prom episode on May 9th?

KM: Axl has by accident asked Weird Ashley out to the prom - again. This year we do get to see the prom, which is nice because last time it was only implied. There is a twist to the story but you just have to tune in and see the fate of our dear Weird Ashley.

Watch the third season of ABC’s The Middle every Wednesday at 8 p.m. (PST)

On June 28 Charlie Sheen’s new series Anger Management will premier on FX.

Photo courtesy of Deidhra Fahey

Written by: Bridget Campos

This article was originally posted on May 8, 2012

Interview with Actor John Ratzenberger

When the name John Ratzenberger comes to mind people are immediately reminded of the character, Cliff Clavin, the know-it-all mail carrier from the most watched comedy series, Cheers. had a chance to talk with Mr. Ratzenberger about his upcoming projects and the role he plays as a spokesperson for blue-collar workers.       Tell me about your role in Pixar’s new animated film, Brave.

John Ratzenberger: Well, I play one of the castle guards in the movie.

TCC: Do you feel voice-over work is easier than actual acting in a film or TV show?

JR: It’s the same skill set but you’re just using it in a different way. On a TV show or film you have other people you’re talking to. You have real furniture you’re sitting in or a real car that you’re driving. In an animation you have to imagine all of that.

TCC: Do people ever recognize your voice as any of the animated characters you’ve done before?

JR: No, not recently. Sometimes my characters voices are slightly different from how I normally talk, because you know ‘Hamm talks like this!’ (Hamm’s voice) and I don’t talk like that.

TCC: Since you have been in every Pixar film, has it come to a point where you don’t even have to audition, but rather you’re just given a character role?

JR: I’ve never been asked to audition.

TCC: Really? Never?

JR: Correct.

TCC: Ok then, well, almost all the Pixar movies you’ve been in have done exceptionally well in the box office, what do you think about some calling you ‘Pixar’s Good Luck Charm’?

JR: The reason why the films have done so well in the box office is because Pixar takes a lot of time and care in writing and crafting the story. It’s nice to be considered a ‘good luck charm’, but the real luck comes from Pixar’s hard work.

TCC: Any favorite Pixar film you enjoyed working on?

JR: Yeah, it would have to be Toy Story. But working on all the Pixar films have been fun.

TCC: Do you ever get tired of people asking if there will ever be a Cheers reunion?

JR: No. As for myself and, I'm sure, the rest of the cast would love to have a reunion. But the actors don’t make that decision it’s the people who own Cheers.

TCC: Would you ever be in support of a remaking of Cheers with an entire new cast?

JR: Sure. I don’t think it would make a difference if whether or not I supported it. It’s not like I would stop it or anything (laughs). But if it happens, the show’s success really depends on how it’s written. It’s all in the writing. Cheers was written by people that grew up reading books. They didn’t grow up watching television. That’s why Cheers was a success because of good writers. Usually good writers read a lot of books and the bad writers watch a lot of television.

TCC: Now I know you are an advocate for more skilled workers in America. Do you think learning a trade is more practical than getting a college degree?

JR: Everything we do depends on an infrastructure. This is what makes the roads drivable, prevents the bridges from collapsing, makes water come out of facets, and in a flip of a switch causes lights to come on because of the electricity that’s there. All of those things we take for granted everyday were designed, build, maintained and repaired by people who know how to use tools. If we run out of people that don’t know how to repair those things, including the turbines that generate electricity, then that would be a problem for everyone that relies on such power for the electronics we use every single day. That’s the importance.

Now if you want to get a college degree then you should do that. If you want to be an electrician then you can do that too. You can do both. One doesn’t necessarily innate the other.

TCC: You also make a guest appearance on Lifetime’s drama series, Drop Dead Diva. Can you explain a little about that?

JR: Yes, my character seeks legal advice from his estranged daughter, Kim Kaswell, after getting into trouble for retaliating against his boss because he was fired and didn’t receive his pension that he feels the company owes him.

Check out John Ratzenberger’s appearance on Drop Dead Diva on June 10th

Disney/Pixar’s 3D animated film, Brave, will be in theaters June 22nd and stars Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, and Craig Ferguson.

Written by: Bridget Campos