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Interview:
Marron5, Kelly Clarkson, Shinedown and Volbeat headline mid-week package shows
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Labor Day Weekend is usually festival weekend around these parts.

But this year the week leading into the holiday is going to be pretty festive, too.

Three of the summer's biggest traveling package tours hit town, bringing hitmakers such as Maroon5, Kelly Clarkson, Shinedown and more to town to finish what's been an already busy and eventful summer.

Here's look at what's ahead...

HONDA CIVIC TOUR

Like their predecessors -- 11 others, to be specific -- Maroon5 is learning that the 12th Annual Honda Civic Tour does not put a Civic in the garages of its participants.

"Oh, I wish," guitarist James Valentine says with a laugh. The group did design a customized Civic that a lucky fan will win by drawing, but for his own purposes Valentine says that, "I've got to talk to people and find out if we get a discount or something."

It's hardly top of mind, of course. Valentine is anticipating "a great show" with Kelly Clarkson, the inaugural "American Idol" champ who he considers "one of the greatest performers of our time. Think about how long she's been around now. What a freakin' voice. It's going to be awesome to go on after her every night, 'cause that's gonna really force us to bring it.

"When there's a great performer in front of us it kinda lights a fire under our ass. I know we had that on this last (North American) run with Neon Trees; Tyler Glenn was out there doing his full Freddie Mercury, and I think it pushed Adam to reach deeper every night. I know Kelly will force that, too."

The tour also marks something of a victory lap for Maroon5, as the group puts a cap on the campaign for its platinum 2012 album "Overexposed" and its hits "Payphone," the Hot 100-topping "One More Night" and "Daylight." Frontman Adam Levine is getting ready for the fifth season of NBC's "The Voice," but Valentine says Maroon5 is also working towards its next album. The group will welcome back founding keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, who took the "Overexposed" cycle off, and Valentine says he and his bandmates are as energized as they've ever been.

"It's still sort of in its early stages, but we definitely have a couple of amazing songs that will be on the record," the guitarist says. "I think we're going to really find out where it's going in the next few months. We've got some great stuff started, and we're all really excited.

"We've been so blessed; most bands don't stick around this long. I always thought there was the chance that this group could go to the distance and become one of those groups that's around forever, but I certainly wasn't positive that would happen. So our success now just makes me all the more pleased."

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When her record company broached the idea of a "Greatest Hits" album last year, Kelly Clarkson was initially hesitant.

"At first when the label brought the idea up I was like, 'What? I'm too young! I'm only 30!' " recalls the inaugural "American Idol" champion, who's now 31. "Then they convinced me that it's awesome to be just 30 years old and have this many hits to be able to do it.

"And it'd been literally a decade since 'Idol,' so it's kind of wrapping up the first decade, which is why it's (sub-titled) 'Chapter One.' "

Clarkson certainly had the goods to support the retrospective look. Since her "Idol" victory she's sold more than 20 million records worldwide and put 24 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Eleven of those have sold a million copies or more -- including "Catch My Breath," one of "Greatest Hits' " three new songs.

Behind that she's kept a relatively low-key year, spending time with her fiance, Brandon Blackstock -- the son of her manager and Reba McEntire's stepson -- and recording a holiday album, "Wrapped In Red," which comes out Oct. 29. And with three more new songs still around that she recorded but didn't use for the "Greatest Hits" album, Clarkson already has a start on her seventh studio album.

"We haven't talked about it much," she says. "but I'm a writer, so we've always got something going on that's, 'Oh, we can use that for the next project.' We kinda never stop in my camp with stuff like that, just because it's exciting for us. They're all over the map so we really don't know what we're gonna do with the next project -- but I'm excited to find out."

The Honda Civic Tour, featuring Maroon5, Kelly Clarkson and Rozzi Crane, plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

CARNIVAL OF MADNESS


Carnival of Madness was started in 2010 as a summer headlining vehicle for Shinedown, then promoting its third album, "The Sound of Madness."

Three years later the Florida rock group is back atop the tour and feeling more carnivalesque than ever.

"We're really excited to bring it back to the forefront and do something different," says drummer Barry Kerch, who co-founded the group in 2001 with frontman Brent Smith. "The first run was a great time and was very successful, but there were other things we wanted to do and bring a little bit more of a carnival aspect.

"So we're doing that on this run. There's going to be all sorts of cool little tricks and treats people will see. We've definitely brought more of a carnival aspect to it, and of course our show is on 11. There's lots of fun things blowing up and whatnot."

Shinedown has, of course, been doing nothing but blowing up in the 10 years since the quarter released its first album. The group has sold more than six million albums worldwide, with "The Sound of Madness" and last year's "Amaryllis" making Top 10 debuts on the Billboard 200. More impressively, Shinedown has a streak of 17 consecutive Top 5 singles on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, including eight that hit No. 1, something that only puts an onus on each successive release.

"There's always pressure," Kerch, 37, says with a laugh. "We are so hard on ourselves, it's not even funny. We strive for perfection, and we've been very blessed and lucky at rock radio that they've played these songs and the fans connected with them.

"Picking a single is never easy, and we've just been lucky. We just try to put out the best songs we can, and it just becomes timing at that point -- what song is going to be good for this time during the (album's) cycle."

Kerch says there's still life left in the "Amaryllis" cycle, including tours of Europe and Canada as well as an acoustic run through the U.S. The group also "definitely has enough songs for another album," but he doesn't expect Shinedown to hit the studio until some time next year.

"We're so focused on the Carnival tour and what's going on right now that we're not even really looking at" the next album, Kerch says. "We're in the 'If you have a song idea write it down' kind of area now, and we're' constantly writing things.

"But we never want to put a timeline on ourselves because we don't want to be rushed. We take our time, and someitmes the fans get a little frustrated because it takes so long. But when they get the next album they can appreciate why we do it that way."

The Carnival of Madness tour, with Shinedown, Papa Roach, Skillet, In This Moment and We Came As Humans, plays at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $29.50-$75 pavilion, $20 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

MONSTER ENERGY ROCK ALLEGIANCE TOUR

Volbeat's been around for a dozen years, but the Danish hard rock group has finally arrived in the U.S.

After the strong showing of 2010's "Beyond Hell/Above Heaven" -- the band's first release on a major U.S. label -- and its hits "Heaven Nor Hell" and "A Warrior's Call," Volbeat's latest album, "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies," debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 in April. "The Hangman's Body Count" hit No. 1 on the Mainstream and Active Rock Radio charts, and the quartet's headlining slot on the Rock Allegiance Tour is its biggest headline outing on these shores yet.

"Things have been going good at radio, so of course there's a lot of expectations," says frontman Michael Poulsen, 38, who founded Volbeat group during 2000 in Copenhagen. "But without any doubt, and without sounding too cliche, I believe this is the strongest work we've ever done. Everything I wanted to accomplish and achieve on a new record is on here.

"So I can honestly say that I feel very comfortable about this. It's always nice when you do a new record and feel like we accomplished everything we wanted to for it."

Volbeat did make one significant change -- for the better, Poulsen feels -- on "Outlaw Gentlemen." The group recruited former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano to help produce the album. Arriving in Copenhagen, however, Caggiano found himself co-writing and playing guitar as well. And then he was invited to join as a full-time member.

"It happened lightning fast," Caggiano, 36, recalls with a laugh. "It kind of threw me for a loop because I'm from New York City, I'm not from Denmark. It took me a minute to digest that, but it didn't tame me too long to realize that this is the best situation for me.

"I love the music. I love the guys as people, and we have this great creative chemistry together. So we're having a blast right now, and I'm really proud of this new album."

Besides greater inroads in the U.S., "Outlaw Gentlemen..." will take Volbeat places its never been before, including Japan and Australia. But as happy as he is now, Poulsen can't help but look even further into the future for his band.

"We just wanted to get this one released so we can make a new one that's better," he says. "I'm not kidding you; that's how we think and how we view things. Each album is a step towards the next one, and the next one after that and hopefully getting better each time. That's how we stay hungry."

The Monster Energy Rock Allegiance Tour with Volbeat, HIM, All That Remains and Airbourne takes place Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $49.50 and $39.50 pavilion, $20 lawn ($25 day of show). Doors open at 5 p.m. Call 568-268-9700 or visit www.freedomhill.net.





Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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