LIVE: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS @ MILANO ROCKS – SEPTEMBER 8TH 2018 0 190

On the closing day of Milano Rocks 2018, after two nights of (what I read were) great performances from The National and Imagine Dragons, it was the turn of US rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars to entertain the scores of music lovers in attendance.

Before they took to the stage however, it was first up to electronica duo Sonars to warm the crowd up. They tried their best, but with all of their tracks sounding ridiculously the same, it didn’t take them long to lose the attention and interest of the thousands upon thousands present, the majority of whom occupied themselves instead by soaking up the scorching Italian sunshine, having a few drinks, or doing both.

Mike Shinoda, whose support slot announcement had gone down a storm with fans particularly on Twitter, was a hit from the moment he stepped on stage, opening his set with the Fort Minor song “Remember The Name” before following it up with “When They Come For Me” and “Roads Untraveled.” It wasn’t until the fourth song in his set that he introduced his own tracks, and he chose a great one to start off with: “Ghosts,” which had the fans before him singing along to every word.

Taking the time to look out over the mass of people that stretched back as far as he could see, Mike spoke about how he liked to meet fans before shows and about one guy in particular who had asked if he could play guitar on one song. Moments later, he called that guy on stage and sure enough, picking up the instrument, the young man did a great job of playing along with Mike and his band, receiving a huge round of applause for his efforts.

A few songs later, Mike took a few minutes to express his appreciation and gratitude to everyone who had supported himself and the band over years, and especially during the past year or so. Addressing the difficult time he and the band had gone through since Chester’s death, he thanked everyone who had come together to be there for them, and for one another. “You came out on social media, you came out in person…you honoured the band, and more importantly, you honoured Chester.” What followed was a highlight of his set as he asked if the crowd would sing Chester’s parts, and began singing “In The End” – the sound of 60,000+ people singing in powerful and heartfelt unison was enough to raise goosebumps on arms everywhere.

The rest of Mike’s set was just as good as he delivered a little something for everyone – the likes of “Numb” and “Papercut” thrilled the LP fans, while those more into his solo material were ‘rewarded’ with “About You” and “Make It Up As I Go”. As he closed out his time on stage with “Running From My Shadow”, the cheers and applause that he received echoed long after he’d disappeared from view.

After a wait of around half an hour and with the sun having set some time ago, the lights on stage went down once more and the powerful intro that is “Monolith” saw the crowd once again come alive roaring their approval and excitement at what was to come. “Up In The Air” kicked in and the venue became a mass of jumping bodies, before “Kings & Queens” saw the first – but not the last – massive sing-along of their set.

“From Yesterday” has long-since been a fan favourite and so, when the opening notes began playing, the response was instantaneous, with a huge cheer echoing around the massive space, and at Jared’s instruction, the crowd duly sang along, then took over for a part. Fan interaction has been a big part of the Monolith Tour and tonight’s show proved to be no different with Jared calling up a number of people from the pit area to join him and Shannon on stage. Within a couple of minutes, he had several new ‘friends’ gathered around him, including a couple of guys in shark and unicorn onesies and he had the group, as he got each side of the crowd to sing the “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!” that would eventually lead into “Do Or Die”, decide whether the left or the right were loudest. As the left had often been victorious at recent shows, it was a refreshing change of sorts to see the right side (AKA mine) to come out on top, and the performance itself saw Jared pick up and proudly wave an Italian flag as he moved from one end of the stage to the other.

“Hail To The Victor” soon had the place jumping again, before “Rescue Me” saw Jared call up a few more people as he asked for “the worst dancers I’ve ever seen in my entire life”, but what he actually got was a young boy who put his own flossing skills to shame. Next, Jared requested that everyone to take out their phones and hold them up, as “City Of Angels” turned the arena into a stunning sea of lights.

Ever since the Echelon had first discovered that “Remedy” was in fact sung by Shannon and since he first performed it at a US date on the tour, European fans everywhere had and have been hoping they’d see and hear it at theirs. Tonight they did, and, with Jared off stage, the elder Leto got his chance to shine, and duly took it, delivering a fantastic performance that included a long and high note in the middle that I for one had never heard him do before which duly impressed everyone present and saw him receive a huge and lengthy cheer and round of applause.

As the set began to draw to a close, and with Shannon back at his kit, Jared walked back on stage having changed his pants into a pair that were slightly looser, and the pair, after a slight technical issue which saw them re-start the song, launched into “The Kill.” Given the fact that the song is largely responsible for a lot of their success, it wasn’t at all surprising to see and hear the thousands present sing along at the top of their voices to every word and harmonise surprisingly well during the “oh-oh-oh-oh” parts. What many people perhaps didn’t expect however was Jared leaving the stage and making his way to the barrier, standing and leaning over the crowd as he sang the closing chorus.

Once back on stage, he asked the all too familiar question: “Anyone want to come on stage with 30 Seconds To Mars?” Said stage was soon filled – as usual – with VIP’ers and scores of lucky people picked by Jared from down the front area including one guy who, perched on someone’s shoulders, was spotted with a moustache and wearing a bra; not exactly something you see every day. With easily close to 80, if not more, people now standing behind him, and around Shannon, “Closer To The Edge” saw the venue once again come together to sing the “No! No No! No!” parts, with thousands upon thousands of people losing themselves in the music, and the moment. The performance rounded off a set that had entertained the crowds from the start and hopefully meant that the band wouldn’t be gone too long before coming back to Italy.

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CRYSTAL CLAYTON CHATS NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INFLUENCES 0 48

Following the release of her latest single “Is It Me?” and EP 3AM earlier this month and with her hit song “Blinding Lights” having already been streamed more than 50,000 times on Spotify, there’s no doubt that Crystal Clayton is certainly well on the way to making quite a name for herself. As she looks to a bright future, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to chat artistic inspirations, the power of social media and what, many years from now, she’d most like to be remembered for.

TITL: Please introduce yourself in a few words.

Crystal Clayton: My name is Crystal Clayton and I am an independent pop music recording artist/ songwriter

TITL: Has music always been the career goal for you or did you have other ambitions before embarking on this journey?

CC: I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was a kid. When I was young, I was constantly dancing and singing around the house. I wanted to have a voice like Celine Dion.  As I grew up, I started taking voice lessons and performing in theaters and shows. I began writing songs when I was a teenager and I was hooked. There has never been a plan B. I’ve always wanted a career in music.

TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?

CC: I try to be unique and true to myself, but there are several artists I’m very much influenced by.  Growing up, like I said, I was obsessed with Celine Dion and also Mariah Carey. I just loved powerful voices and I tried to emulate that. Over recent years I have been heavily influenced by Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Right now I’m listening to a lot of SZA and Banks! I think I take bits and pieces of what I listen to and create my own version of the music I love.

TITL: Is there one particular artist you might say you’re in any way similar to?

CC: I had a gentlemen with Music Is My Radar review my new project and he said the most relatable artist he could think of would be Rihanna. But I think this project is definitely more R&B/pop than some of my previous material that has been much more strait forward pop. I really can’t pin-point one specific artist that I’m like.

TITL: If you had to give one reason as to why you stand out among your artistic counterparts, what would you say?

CC: What I love about the music I create is that it is catchy and it is pop music, but I give the lyrics life and authenticity. My lyrics are emotionally driven because I am a very emotional person. I like to infuse my love of R&B with my love of pop music.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written? 

CC: Growing up my parents had me listening to a lot of classic rock. I loved Boston, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Eagles… I believe hands down that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the best song ever written. The range of emotions in intonation, vocally and instrumentally is one of a kind.  There is a lot of current music that I often think to myself “I wish I had written that song”.  Rihanna’s 2016 album, ‘Anti’ is a masterpiece.  I also really love Kehlani’s new album ‘While We Wait’ as well as ‘CTRL’ by SZA. I like to think that my musical taste is well rounded…I just love music. I’m influenced by oldies and also current music. 

I’m also very much influenced by my own life experiences. I can easily look back on situations from my past and draw from those experiences. Even if it’s been a while since the relationship or event took place, my empathy and ability to feed on those emotions helps me write.

TITL: What made you choose “Is It Me?” to be your lead single? Is there a particular story behind the song?

CC: “Is It Me?” was actually a very easy song for me to write. It’s about that excited feeling you get when you believe in what you’re doing and you know that good things are in the future. It’s just a feel good song with feel good vibes. I was able to share that excitement with my producer and team and we just made a happy song. 

I think I chose “Is It Me?” because it resonated well with a lot of friends I shared it with. They liked the energy of the song and it’s also a bit more pop than some of the other songs on this project.

TITL: This is also your first release since moving from Kansas City to LA. Why did you decide that now was the right time to do so and how have you found the transition?

CC: I was actually hoping to put the project out before I left Kansas City, but things were not coming together quickly enough, and I wanted to wait until after the holidays. I just figured, this is a new beginning for me, so why not release a new project that somewhat re-brands what I’ve done so far.

I found myself very stagnant in the Kansas City music scene. I was born in LA and brought to the Midwest when I was very young, and I had always dreamed of moving back out here. I got to the point where it was like, ‘just take that risk! Just follow that dream, what do you have to lose?’ The transition has been an adventure! I still haven’t fully immersed myself into the LA music scene, but it’s coming along. I’m still the new kid trying to get the hang of things around here.

TITL: “Is It Me?” features on your new EP 3AM which came out earlier this month. For those who haven’t heard it yet, how would you sum it up?

CC: 3:AM has many different layers to it. I think it’s an extension of myself, as a young woman, coming into her own. There is a common element in a lot of my music that has this sense of reaching towards aspirations, and big dreams that you can’t seem to let go of. I think that some elements of 3:AM also have that. There’s the confidence of ‘Is It Me?’, the sexiness of “Mine” and “Falter”, the heartbreak of “3:AM”, and then there is “Pieces” that show’s my vulnerability. In that song I’m really just saying, sometimes I’m not okay and really I’m just barely keeping this all together, but I HAVE to keep going. I think that a lot of people can relate to this project and that’s what I strive for. 

TITL: Do you have a favourite track on the collection and if so, which is it and why?

CC: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because each one is special to me in its own way. Each song captures a different moment and experience. I think, for me, “3:AM” is one that really resonates well. I think that song is my best work lyrically, and that a lot of people can relate to it. We’ve all been in relationships that we know in the back of our minds will not last, but we continue on because we’re in love.

TITL: Will you be/are you touring/performing in support of the EP and if so, where can people come and see you?

CC: I haven’t started planning a tour yet. I have been focusing on promotion of the project and performing around my new city, LA. You can keep updated with performances and music by following me on social media and my website; @criddleclayton and www.crystalclayton.com.

TITL: Given that your hit song “Blinding Lights” has so far been streamed more than 60,000 times and your audience online is growing considerably, how do you feel about social media? Do you think society and the music industry is perhaps too reliant on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or do you believe such platforms are now vital tools, given the technology-obsessed world we live in?

I’m really proud of how well “Blinding Lights” has done. I think that social media and streaming helped ‘Blinding Lights’ get the attention that it has. I do believe as a society we spend too much time on our phones and on social media. The internet completely lost it when Instagram went down for a day a couple weeks ago. But, it is the way of the future and it’s not going anywhere. I think as a business person – and music is a business – it’s smart to find ways to use these tools to your advantage and engage with people through social media. It’s such a huge market and you can reach people you probably never could have before. It’s vital to a music career in 2019.

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

CC: The rest of this year I’m hoping to release some music videos, perform at some awesome shows here in LA, release some more new music later this year, and hopefully do a small tour run! 

TITL: Finally then, as you continue to make your mark on the industry, looking many years down the line, what’s the one thing you’d like people to remember or recall when they think about you and your music? What message or legacy do you want to leave for the current and future generations?

CC: I just hope that people will remember authenticity from me. My music is vulnerable and real. I write music for myself, and what I like; and I hope that people can relate and resonate with it. 

ROBIN CAUSE PRESENTS HIS NEW ALBUM ‘NOT AS THE CROW FLIES’ 0 82

Having first picked up a guitar at the age of 12, Robin Cause has long since had a passion for music and the connection both he and millions of others have with it. Wanting to see just how far he could take the connection and love for music and guitar playing he had, he hit the road at the age of 19 and since then, he hasn’t looked back.

The journey he embarked upon led him to meet Darrel Dier and together, the two formed a strong song-writing partnership, the results of which can be seen and heard on Cause’s new album Not As The Crow Flies, which ThisIsTheLatest are delighted to premiere.

Asked about the creative process behind the album and the record as a whole, Robin says: “Not as the Crow Flies defines my friendship with Darrel Dier. We started the first road trip with an open mind and ended the second trip with the rough cut of an album. From camping in the desert of Nevada, writing in hotel rooms of southern New Mexico, discovering an all you can eat jambalaya cook off in the Atchafalayan swamp, and recording at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, we set our eyes on traveling the world and writing every step of the way. I believe we tapped into something that’s genuine, something rarely seen or experienced, and we would love to keep creating. I just hope you love the sound, it’s really fun to make.”

Not As The Crow Flies is out tomorrow and you can listen to the entire album below. For more information on Robin Cause, follow him on Twitter or give his page a like on Facebook. Header photo image credit: Pjotr van Kleef.