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Rising Stars


Another great melodic rock band, whose debut CD is out in Jan 2003. top tunes - check out the website. Over to drummer Richie Rivera...

1. What are you currently up to?

You caught us knee-deep in the recording process of our debut album, "Famous Last Words," which is projected to be released in January 2003. We're also playing a few shows here and there in the Southern California area to let of the steam that accumulates in the studio, but we're trying to focus on finishing the record. So far it sounds AMAZING and we can't wait for people to hear it. Whether you're fan of Journey or Alice In Chains, you can definitely find something on the album to latch on to.

2. Who were your influences?

Hands down, the biggest influence on my career has been Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. Half the stuff I do, both visually and sonically, I readily admit to stealing from him (okay, maybe 75%...the other 25% comes from Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater). I must have been only 11 or 12 when I saw Tommy playing drums while spinning upside in cage in the video for "Wild Side." From there I was hooked! Incidentally, I met Tommy back in '97 during Motley's "Generation Swine" tour, and, contrary to public perception, he was a class act all the way. We must have talked backstage for 15 minutes and he couldn't have been nicer. He was still married to Pamela Anderson back then and she came up to us in the middle of our conversation. He introduced me to her and I was so enamored with meeting Tommy that I barely even acknowledged her. Now if that's not idol-worship, I don't know what is!

3. Brief history of the band plus the style of music you play.

I'll try to keep this short: I started playing drums when I was 11 years old (not long after the "Wild Side" video¦go figure) and by the time was I freshman in High School, I was doing session work for some mostly forgettable TV shows. I formed my first band when I was 16. We were called BLURRED VISION and we were actually pretty good (for a high school band). Our first show was at The Troubadour the night of the L.A. Riots of '92 (and we still set an attendance record for the night). In college, I formed the band NINE MILES, which eventually morphed into RAIN CHEQUE. RAIN CHEQUE released one album called "Beauty Before Change," which came across as a mix between Dream Theater and The Cranberries (yes, we had a female lead singer). After college I migrated to Boston because I had been woefully misinformed that there was a decent music scene there (unless you were a ska band or a hardcore band, you were screwed). So in the summer of '99, I moved back to my native Los Angeles and formed the basis of what would become MADISON PAIGE with guitarist Damon Valley.

4. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoint(s) of your career to date?

The highlight will be the release of "Famous Last Words." The low point would have to be the two years that Damon and I spent looking for other band members, during which time we were subjected to the most abysmal level of so-called "talent" ever to walk the earth. It still amazes me to this day that there is a waiting period to purchase a gun, but that anybody can walk out of Guitar Center with a microphone. Sometimes the whole process was very funny and other times it was very sad. I do have to say though that I gained a tremendous amount of respect for Damon during that time. He moved out here from Wisconsin, not knowing a thing about L.A. or life away from home in general, with the specific intention of starting a band with me. He could have easily just packed it all in and headed home, but he stuck out. To me that shows an incredible level of dedication as well as a true belief in what it was that I wanted to accomplish.

5. How easy is it to gets gigs? What is the live music scene like?

Well, we're in a very unique position out here in which we have club owners/booking agents pursuing us. We usually turn down more gigs than we accept. I think word has gotten out that we're a very good live band, we bust our collective butts to promote our shows to bring people through the door, and that we conduct our business in a professional manner. Any one of those things will get you noticed, but we have all three going in our favor.

As far as the scene in general is concerned, it's very confused out here. On the one hand, most venues in town will book original bands and there are plenty of original bands willing to be booked (but out of the 10,000 bands out here, only a handful are any good). On the other hand, the best places to play in town are usually pay-to-play (or what the clubs affectionately call "pre-selling tickets"). While I understand the club owners' position on the subject, I don't agree with it (if you want a guarantee in life, perhaps owning a rock club isn't the best way to go). We've done the pay-to-play thing sparingly in the past, and probably will continue to do so in the future. But we'll only do it for a support slot for a national act.

6. What do you think of the state of rock music at the moment? Do you listen to radio much at all? Has the Internet helped music grow or hindered it?

Rock music as a whole is healthier now than it has been in years. The notion of having a memorable melody and a guitar solo or two is slowly creeping back into the public consciousness. There will always be the rock bands that whine and complain about how nobody understands them over a low-tuned guitar riff; but hopefully they, and their audiences, will grow up and learn how to smile soon.

Rock Radio, on the other hand, is pretty much a dead format as we know it. No matter where you go in this country, you'll hear the same 15 songs over and over again in a given month due to the consolidation of the radio conglomerates. That's why XM Radio has such an appeal (but only to those that can afford it). It makes matters worse when those same radio stations are tied into concert ticket agencies, which creates an undoubtedly profitable, but highly incestuous relationship.

That's why the internet has become such an important tool. When I was a kid, watching MTV and listening to the radio were the only ways to find out about a new band. Now, as a fan, if I hear something about a band through the internet, I can hit up one of the file- swapping services and download their stuff (along with a Metallica song or two for good measure). If I like it, I buy it. If I don't, I delete it.

From day one, MADISON PAIGE has been offering full length mp3s of the same demos we've been passing out to audiences at our shows because we acknowledge how great of tool the internet can be. With home recording technology being what it is today, you can now record, manufacture, and, with the help of the internet, promote and distribute a high quality product without the need for a label. Of course you won't be selling 10 million copies either. The labels have everyone beat when it comes to promotion and distribution. So if you want to carve out a modest living for yourself, you don't need a label. If you want to be a superstar, you do.

7. What do you enjoy getting up to in your spare time (eg hobbies, etc)?

Spare time? I've heard rumors that it exists, although I have yet to see it in the flesh. Between rehearsing, recording, and taking care of band matters, I don't have much time for hobbies¦unless you count downloading pictures of Alyssa Milano and Jennifer Love Hewitt off the internet: there's always time for that.

8. If you could create a fantasy band - what would be the line-up and why?

Wow, tough call. Depends on which day you catch me. Today I'll go with:

Jani Lane - Vocals (nobody does it better)

Guitar 1 - Eddie Van Halen (need I say more?)

Guitar 2 - Richie Sambora (great bluesy feel, dynamite set of pipes)

Bass - Billy Sheehan (is there anything he can't play?)

Drums - Tommy Lee (as if you couldn't have guessed by now).

9. Any bands/artists you would like to work with and/or tour with in the future?

As far as songwriting goes, I'd give any part of my body (well, almost any part) to write a song with Jani Lane of Warrant. He's my John Lennon and I like to think his writing has rubbed off on my style a bit. He's such an unbelievable talent. Most people only know him as the "Cherry Pie" guy, which is a great disservice to his abilities (although I think "Cherry Pie" is actually a pretty clever song, for what it is). I hope that neither one of us leaves this planet before we get to sit down in a room with two acoustic guitars, a pad of paper, and let it rip! I'd also like to write with Harry Hess of Harem Scarem, who ranks right up there with Lane for me. Rounding it out, I'd also like to work with Desmond Child, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, and a guy named Cary Pierce, who was part of the band Jackopierce and is now a solo artist.

As for touring, everybody pretty much agrees that the best match up for us would be Bon Jovi. I think their audience could find a lot to like in us. I also would love to tour with veteran acts like Poison, Journey, and Def Leppard, as well as newer bands like Stone Temple Pilots, The Goo Goo Dolls, Creed, Foo Fighters, Matchbox 20, etc. There's a cool new band I recently discovered called Color that I think would be highly compatible as well.

10. Message to your fans?

Words can't even begin to express how much it means to us that people have been so supportive of us so far. Every time we think we've got our fans figured out, they surprise us by going that extra mile. We really hope that you enjoy the album. It's going to surprise a lot of people and hopefully give fans of melodic hard rock around the world something to crank in their cars, at school, or at work. You can keep tabs on us at See ya in a few!

Interview © 2002 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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