Matt Toka: Hardships, Illustrations and Juggalos

matt-toka-interview-2012Thanksgiving came and went and the only highlight was oogling one hot guy at the dinner table (no worries, we’re not related and I don’t have the balls to even approach). Once the turkey was done I headed to five straight days of New Found Glory from San Francisco to LA to Vegas, and everything in between (last time I’ll mention it, I swear). My mind had yet to adjust back into my blogging mode and traffic was iffy so I didn’t expect to make it back to my hermit reality this week. I was also unsure if I’d make it back in time to talk with Matt Toka, so we settled on an email interview…Well at least half of us did. I ended up getting a call and was not prepared, but thankfully he was cool and we chatted a bit about meth and Insane Clown Posse, which are one in the same though, right?

One glance at Matt Toka and you’d just assume he was some punk kid with not much to say but a story of how Green Day was his muse. Well he does love Green Day, but that’s beside the point. Matt also loves Miles Davis, traded in drawing for a guitar and due to his time playing on Hollywood Blvd amongst the sea of mediocre characters, he’ll forever wonder if the money he’s handling has been near “Superman’s” junk. Matt also doesn’t understand the whole “sell out,” thing and is proud of his achievements, which he should be. He did Warped Tour this past summer, opened up for The All-American Rejects and even switches it up opening for I See Stars and Alternative Press’ “Artist of the Year,” Falling In Reverse in Pomona, CA at the Fox Theater on December 1st. So keep reading on to learn more about Matt Toka and his past, present and future.

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Shotgun Honeymoon: The Culmination

shotgun-honeymoon-the-culmination-reviewIt’s a winter day in LA which only means that it’s raining and everyone in the city is filling their Facebook and Twitter with either “OMG, people in LA suck at driving in the rain” or the ever so deep, “I love the rain, it gets me.” As for me, I’m just sitting, listening to Shotgun Honeymoon’s The Culmination, trying to avoid having to step outside for anything. I spent the week with mostly rock artists that varied from tame to hardcore, but am ending the week with a folk pop record that’s for the easy listening lovers out there.

The pop in The Culmination comes not only from the Vh1 appeal, but the repetitiveness throughout a lot of the songs, not the annoying kind, but the kind that you’d hear in Jason Mraz. Most of the EP was riddled with parts that would stick with you, no matter how hard you wanted something else in your head. Which is a good thing if you’re the artist, that means you’ve made a song that sticks.

With the rain hitting the window panes, “Wishing” was a perfect match for what lies outside from me. The lyrics contained imagery of a winter scene, however much more beautiful than the backed up 405 and the screeching of tires I’ve heard all morning. “Wishing” along with the love song “Show Me” and “1000 Years Ago” all have arrangements that go well together and remind me of that white guy with the guitar who won American Idol…wait, that’s been the last four or five, right? Let’s see…Phillip Phillips, that’s the one.

As I just said, those three go so well together, but it’s “Up To Something” that can’t really be compared to the others. It’s a little offbeat when it comes to the pace and that’s why it remained my favorite every run through the record. Only four songs on The Culmination? Nope, I just didn’t feel “How To Fail.” It wasn’t up to speed with the rest and therefor isn’t one I’d go to again and again.

Shotgun Honeymoon is probably somewhere in LA right now listening to the rain with his model good looks, thinking about love and life and writing more songs, but who knows? All I know is that if you’re a fan of Matt Hires and Daylight Tremor will be into Shotgun Honeymoon’s The Culmination, out now on Rock ‘N Renew Records.

Chevonne: The Voice, The Awkward and The New Album

In 2008 I was beyond obsessed with American Idol. So much so I went to every taping but one, stupid school assignment…But after that season I couldn’t really find it in me to give my heart to another season, let alone any one of the other Idol-like shows that popped up. Then walked in The Voice. Since quitting Idol, The Voice is the only show I do watch. I might miss an episode here and there because I can’t deny my sitcoms for reality TV, but I like most couch potatoes love the auditions. That’s where I came to know Chevonne. She was the “Gaga singer” with the big hair. She had a great story, look and could sing. But of course the judges are oblivious to her marketable appeal; they only went by her voice. So I was sitting there stressing over nothing because she was soon swooped up by Cee Lo.

Now I didn’t realize Chevonne was out of the competition until I had the chance to interview her. So I of course jumped at the opportunity to sit down with someone who had been in the presence of the love of my life, Rob Thomas and who was on the only singing show I respected still. Plus, she was on my favorite team this season, Cee Lo’s “Team of Misfits.”

In person interviews are always worrisome for me because I am awkward, but thankfully sitting in the 101 Café with Chevonne was like having lunch with an old friend, well your more stylish and talented friend. Before diving into her time on The Voice and admitting that the whole save thing “saved her life” and how she’d never really seen what was beyond New Jersey until landing a gig singing backup for Lady Gaga, we talked like 14 year old girls. Being around the same age we shared an appreciation of 90’s pop culture, Degrassi and Taylor Hanson. She for a different reason than me, but love is love and Taylor is hot no matter what gender you thought he was back in those “MMMBop” days.

One time I met someone who was on Idol a week before they were voted off and he told me he hated it. Chevonne is the complete opposite…She had nothing but nice things to say about not only The Voice but the crew. Seriously, one of my favorite interview experiences, so read on to experience my afternoon chat with Chevonne from The Voice about her past, present and future which hopefully includes a record with the help of Kickstarter.

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