MATT DOBKIN CHATS ‘SIX SONGS OF PROTEST’ & HIS VIEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA 0 32

Music has always been an outlet for artists keen to share their views – personal, political and everything in between – and for Matt Dobkin, thanks to his new, upcoming EP Six Songs Of Protest, it’s allowed him to express himself in exactly the way he wishes to be heard. Frustrated and shocked by the outcome of the 2016 US election and all that has occurred and impacted both the States and the world since, his new collection addresses issues such as police brutality, the environment and White House corruption. Having just released the first single from the EP, “They Warned Us”, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Matt to delve a little deeper into his political views, the impact of social media on his career and how happy he is to see more of his artistic counterparts speaking out about issues that matter.

TITL: Hi Matt. Sum yourself up in a few words for me please.

Matt Dobkin: Right now? In 2019? Pissed off.

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as an artist? What makes you stand out? 

MD: My aim as an artist right now is to express my frustration, distress, and anger with the current state of the world. And I think – or at least hope! – that that’s a selling point, because I’m certainly not alone. I would like to think that my voice, lyrics, and political point of view might, to some small degree in today’s landscape, help me stand out.

TITL: Growing up, which bands and artists were you most inspired by and how do those inspirations influence the music you make now? 

MD: How much space do you have? As a very little kid, I would listen to whatever was on pop radio and sing along; whether that was Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, or Eagles. I was a total 80s pop obsessive: Prince, Michael, post-Barracuda pop Heart, Yaz, U2, and George Michael. In high school, I got the retro jazz/soul bug and I became fixated on Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. I discovered Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and I “came home” to the 60s/70s soul space that would become – and remain – my main inspiration. But, I also had a classical-music background and I’m sure that all these various influences have informed what I do now. It’s a big ol’ mash-up, as it is for most musicians.

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

MD: Greatest song ever written? Impossible to answer. Different songs evoke different feelings and mean different things to different people. Not to be a killjoy, but I’m not really into pitting one song against another. In terms of my personal inspirations, I have two different lists, the “singing” list and the “songwriting” list. As a singer, Aretha Franklin tops the list, followed closely by Al Green and Sam Cooke. As a songwriter, Prince and Joni Mitchell, which I realize sounds absurd as I’m barely fit to sweep their floors. Marvin Gaye manages to straddle both lists.

TITL: Tell me a little about your latest single “They Warned Us.” What’s the story behind it?

MD: “They Warned Us” is the first single off my forthcoming EP, Six Songs of Protest. But the song that really launched the project for me is called “Organize.” It’s inspired by Gloria Steinem and really set the tone for the whole release. Once I had committed to the idea of an all-protest-song project, I started listening to A LOT of old classic songs of resistance. Much like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”, and many more. I started to realize that all the issues I wanted to address in these songs had already been dealt with by these great artists, not to mention Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, etc. So the idea behind “They Warned Us” was very simple, all the problems we’re facing now, we also faced years ago. And all this stuff I want to address now was addressed decades ago. Marvin, Nina, and Dylan warned us years ago about the scenarios we find ourselves dealing with today. Nothing has changed.

TITL: As you mentioned, you’ve got an EP, Six Songs of Protest coming out soon. Without giving too much away in terms of its content, what can fans expect from the collection?

MD: In addition to “They Warned Us” and “Organize”, which is a very pointed critique of the American president. Featuring a circa-1972 sample from Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to throw her hat into the ring for U.S. president. There’s a song about the environment – “Earthquake and Hurricanes”-, a gay rights song – “The Ramble” -, a song criticizing the epidemic of police murders of black Americans – “Paid Administrative Leave” – and a cover of the great Phil Ochs’s “Power and the Glory.” You know, just fun, light, frothy entertainment.

TITL: Which of the songs on the EP might you say you’re most proud of/connected to and why?

MD: I’m really happy with how “Organize” turned out. The groove, the lyrics, and not to mention the background vocals of Teresa Stanley. She’s a killer female gospel/soul vocalist always adds authority to a song.

TITL: Your music is “overtly” political – not that that’s a bad thing in this day and age – but do you wish other artists would share such powerful and important messages through their work, or are you happy to be one of the few leading the charge?

MD: Thank you, but I wouldn’t say I’m “leading the charge.” I’m hardly alone in trying to get these messages across. I think we’re in a moment where a lot of artists – whether musicians, writers, visual artists, whatever – are addressing the kinds of political and social problems we’re all assaulted by every time we open the newspaper or a web browser. I’m genuinely excited by the fact that so many different creative people, across genres and disciplines, are finding ways to resist.

TITL: What is your tour/performance schedule for the months ahead looking like? Which one venue would you most like to play and why?

MD: I like small, intimate shows, where it’s easy to connect directly with your audience. So, I’m angling for Joe’s Pub here in New York City. But if Madison Square Garden or the O2 Centre came calling, I wouldn’t be averse…

TITL: It could be argued that social media is all but taking over the world – and certainly industries like the music business. How do you personally feel about society’s connection and obsession with the likes of Twitter? How has and does it impact your ability to reach an audience?

MD: I have friends who refuse to be on social media, and I really admire their ability to steer clear and not get sucked in. But, it’s impossible to get your music out and your message across without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s incredibly helpful in reaching people, so I can’t complain.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

MD: I am completely focused on Six Songs of Protest at the moment and whatever small ways I can help prevent a re-election.

TITL: Finally then, with seemingly no end in sight to the political turmoil the world finds itself dealing with, where do you see your music going in future? Are there any other causes or views you’re maybe looking to support through future releases, and with that in mind, many years from now, what one thing would you most like people to say about you/remember you for in terms of your career and artistic legacy?

MD: When I first started singing and writing songs, I had no ambition to get into this political realm, but it’s feeling like a pretty good fit. I’m sure that, even when our idiot president has been expelled from office, I’ll find some other situation to be outraged by and respond to in music. Or maybe I’ll just want to sing cheesy love songs. We’ll just have to see!

Check out “They Warned Us” below and for more information on Matt Dobkin, visit his website, follow him on Instagram or give his page a like on Facebook.

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HUGH JACKMAN TO PERFORM AT THE 2019 BRIT AWARDS 0 25

We are so excited to announce that multi award-winning actor and performer Hugh Jackman is set to open the show with a performance from the global musical sensation The Greatest Showman.

This show-stopping BRITs performance will be under the creative direction of Michael Gracey, the film’s director.

Hugh Jackman has carved a successful career both on stage in front of live crowds. From his award-winning turn on Broadway as the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to Wolverine in the blockbuster X-Men franchise, he has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time. Jackman garnered his first Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor for his performance in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables, and his standout performance as protagonist Jean Valjean also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, as well as SAG Award® nominations for both Best Ensemble and Best Male Actor in a leading role, and a BAFTA Award nomination. Most recently, he was nominated for his role as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman. His ‘The Man, The Music, The Show’ World Tour will kick off this May, which includes five nights at The O2 Arena, London.

The Greatest Showman has taken the world by storm since its theatrical release at the end of 2017, hitting the top spot in the UK by early 2018 and becoming the most purchased home entertainment release after Avengers Infinity War and Star Wars The Last Jedi.

The film’s soundtrack, composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, was the UK’s best selling album of last year, topping the charts in several countries including the US, Australia, UK and Japan and reaching No. 1 on iTunes in over 70 countries. The 5x Platinum certified soundtrack has to date sold over 5.4 million records worldwide, with 1.77 million sold in the UK, and is the second album in 30 years to spend 11 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the UK, equalling the record set by Adele for her album ‘21’, and was the longest running soundtrack at No. 1 in 50 years. ‘This is Me’, taken from the soundtrack, won a Golden Globe for ‘Best Original Song’ and was nominated for an Academy Award; the soundtrack was also up for two GRAMMY awards, and last night was announced as winner of Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.

BRITs Chairman and Chairman & CEO of Sony Music UK and Ireland Jason lley said:
“We are delighted to welcome the Golden Globe and Tony Award winning superstar Hugh Jackman to the BRITs stage this month with a performance that is set to be nothing short of spectacular. The Greatest Showman soundtrack dominated the charts in 2018 breaking records all over the world as well as here in the UK. It’s only fitting that the UK’s biggest celebration of musical successes should be kicked off with a performance from the biggest selling album in the UK of the last year.”

The Greatest Showman is the latest performance to be revealed for The BRITs, following the announcements of P!nk, Calvin Harris with Dua Lipa, Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man, Jess Glynne with H.E.R., The 1975, George Ezra, Little Mix with Ms Banks and Jorja Smith for the UK’s biggest night in music.

The BRIT Awards 2019 with Mastercard take place Wednesday 20th February at The O2 Arena, London, broadcast exclusively on ITV and hosted by Jack Whitehall. Clara Amfo and Alice Levine will be back to host this year’s Red Carpet show on ITV2 on the night of the awards for the third year running.

BLUE OYSTER CULT TALK THEIR UPCOMING UK TOUR & 50 YEAR CAREER 0 23

With a career that spans 50 years behind them already, Blue Oyster Cult have firmly established themselves as one of the music industry’s most illustrious bands, respected by music fans and critics on both sides of the Atlantic. As the band prepare to make a long overdue return to the UK, guitarist and song-writer Buck Dharma teased what fans can expect from their upcoming shows and reflected on the bands’ career and success so far.

Q: Are you looking forward to coming back to the UK? What do you most enjoy and how does playing here compare to back home in the States?

Buck Dharma: Yes I am. I have enjoyed the UK since first coming in 1975. I like the difference in culture and customs compared to the US, and revisiting friends and fans I’ve gotten to know over the years.

Q: What are some of your favourite memories of playing in the UK? Any previous shows that have always stuck with you?

BD: I’m looking forward to playing what used to be called Hammersmith Odeon in London again. We had great shows there in the heyday of Blue Oyster Cult and look forward to returning. Otherwise I like to get out into the countryside and visit the other cities and towns in the country.

Q: If at all, how have you adapted and developed your live production and your approach to playing your music live over the decades?

BD: We are currently touring with less special effects and props, focusing primarily on the music and the musical performance. It’s essentially what it’s all about, and I enjoy concentrating on that aspect of our musical catalogue.

Q: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is such a great track that has really stood the test of time. How does it feel to have a song that is so universally recognised and loved, even in 2019? Has the song’s success continued to surpass your initial expectations for the track?

BD: It’s great that “Reaper” has held up so well over time. It’s endurance continues to surprise and gratify me, and yes, I had no idea when we recorded it that it would have had the impact it has.

Q: A lot has changed within the Rock community since you first started, but are there any current rock artists that have impressed you over the last few years? Any albums you’re particularly enjoying at the moment?

BD: I like The Rival Sons and the new youngsters Greta Van Fleet. I also discovered last year a 2015 album by Chris Cornell called “Higher Truth.”

Q: Your last studio album, Curse of the Hidden Mirrors was released 18 years ago – any current plans to make another record?

BD: As matter of fact, yes. BOC is recording another LP this year, 2019, the first in many years. Should be out by fall.

Q: You have worked and toured with the likes of Patti Smith, Randy Jackson and Alice Cooper over the course of your career – any highlights or people you still have on the wish list?

BD: All our collaborations and touring have been rewarding. I’m open to collaborating with anybody, perhaps some of the younger artists, although I don’t actively pursue such cooperation.

Q: You have been doing this for over 50 years now which is incredible. Having reached such a large milestone in your career, what inspires you to keep going and keeps you motivated?

BD: I enjoy playing and singing as much today as I ever did. I don’t have to work, but I do it because it’s rewarding personally. I could live if I couldn’t do it anymore, but I truly enjoy it, and will do it for another couple years at least.

Q: If you could turn back time, is there anything you would change or do differently?

BD: I have no regrets. It might be nice to have known more about the business side of the Music industry, but I’m not complaining about the way it’s gone. I’m lucky to have worked at a job I like all my life.

Q: Finally, knowing all that you know now, what advice would you give your former self when first starting out, and what advice would you give to anyone wanting to be in a band now?

BD: Only that I should prepare for a long career. I never anticipated I’d be still doing what I did in my 20’s fifty years later. I don’t know what to advise young people today. I’m not really involved in the current state of music business, it’s changing rapidly, of course, like everything else in life.

Tickets for Blue Oyster Cult’s UK tour, which kicks off on February 21st, are on sale now. For more information on the band, visit their website or give their page a like on Facebook.