upcoming releases, sentimentality, and a keen eye may make 2024 the year of keli price

upcoming releases, sentimentality, and a keen eye may make 2024 the year of keli price

You know that feeling when you sit down for a cup of coffee with an old friend. Someone it’s been absolute years since you’ve gotten to know. Part of you is nervous, but when you sit down and start chatting, the ease of the conversation dissolves all the stress and expectations around it. Before you know it, you are involved in their story again, rooting them on as you did before and invested in what is coming their way.

That’s a lot like how my chat with Keli Price, multi-talented creative (writer/actor/producer) panned out. To be fair, it had been since 2013 that I got my first batch of questions in, over a decade since we had connected with excitement over his burgeoning acting career.

In that first chat, we discussed falling into Youtube spirals and music as a really big passion of Price’s. Now, we build upon that chat, touching on his fast-paced emergence into the film production world and the attention to detail a sentimental man will pay to his work.

2024 is the year of Keli Price. If you don’t believe me, he’s currently on season 2 of Rap Sh!t, which is available on HBO Max. Plus, he has 3 film releases headed down the pike, and two east coast teams to cheer into their respective post-seasons, and that’s just the beginning. Below, words from our recent sit-down.

How have things been? It’s been a while!

Absolutely! It’s been a long time, and so many things have happened. It’s so nice to be in touch again.

You’ve gotten pretty heavily into the producing side since we last spoke, though really you have kept your toes in the acting and now producing pools as well it seems!

I was not expecting to get into the producing side the way that I did. It just kind of happened. We made this movie about my great grandfather who had this crazy sports story and people came to the screening and wanted me to produce their other movies. I did and then our company was born.

We make about 5 movies per year in the action space primarily, and we get into other genres too. It was to honor my great grandfather who lived to 100, so I got to know him pretty well.

How did you get involved with the upcoming Hellfire release?

Hellfire is coming out this year, in March or April. That movie stars Harvey Keitel, Stephen Lang, and Dolph Lundgren. It’s a really cool, sort of fun action movie. We got involved on the financing side and we’ve been taking a ride for quite a while with this movie from pre-production through post.

We’ve taken a look at the cut recently and it looks great. Saban FIlms is distributing it. I love them over at Saban, I have a lot of projects with them. They’re great. I’m excited to see what they do with it.

What was the timeline like from start to finish on this particular project? Because the adoring public might not know the ins and outs.

We’ve been involved with Hellfire for about a year and a half. Our highest profile movie Bandit, which was #1 on Apple TV and Amazon Prime and Paramount+ took about 2 years to make also. But it was because it was a period piece and a lot went into it.

The fastest movie we ever made was in 2 months. I don’t know how we did it, it was an enigma and it will probably never happen again. It was a weird scenario. It was called The Curse of Wolf Mountain. I was getting involved in another project and it kind of all fell apart. I just needed a script and I went and I wrote this movie within 2 weeks. We were on set 2 months later.

It’s crazy, but that’s how quick we can go when everything is firing. But it rarely happens that way, it usually takes years to make a movie. That’s just the way that it goes, and you put so much time into it. That’s why our company is so specific about the projects we take on. We know we’re going to be on there for what could be a few years. It could also be a few months, but movies could take time.

It’s true. This leads me to the Murder at Hollow Creek project because you told me that you’re writing, producing, and starring in it. I’ve been flummoxed by people who can do that. You come from a place where you’re kind of looking at every facet of the film. You have empathy with other people involved in the process — How does it feel different than when you are less involved in a project?

That is so true. And specifically on that set, I remember having instances where there were situations with PAs or whatever. I get very emotionally tied into people and their feelings. That’s just the way that I’m built. I’m all about forming connections with people on set, whether you’re a PA, another director, or a producer. To me, it’s supposed to be a safe place where we are literally making this piece of art.

It’s kind of like camp, we’re all together and gearing toward this goal. It’s a really special experience that you can’t explain unless you’re there and it is like summer camp. You make all these connections, you’re there for a couple of months, and then you’re just gone. And sometimes you stay in touch and sometimes you don’t but all of those memories are always there because you’re on location.

Murder at Hollow Creek was the second time that I really wore all three hats. So the cameras are rolling, I’m in a scene because I’m acting in it too. The scene ends and quickly I’m like, “Oh, shit. That light’s about to fall, can we get somebody to…” or, “Oh, God, like, we need to make sure that this actor is getting to set because their plane landed in Texas and they’re supposed to be in Mississippi and there’s a hurricane or tornado or whatever… are they on their way?” It was constantly stuff like that.

We did have an actress that got rerouted because there was literally a tornado in Mississippi. She couldn’t get to Mississippi so I was literally in a scene, I finished the scene and I walked up to the other producers. I was like, “What is going on with Penelope? Is she OK? Is she on her way? Who do I need to call?” So yeah, it’s a different experience. (laughing)

On Rap Sh!t, for instance, I was a recurring character on that show. I would just roll up to the studio and eat my Chinese food or whatever they had that day. They had EVERYTHING at the Sony lot, by the way. The best food. I’m a foodie, so when I’m acting at the Sony studio. There’s Chinese, Mexican, there’s these donuts. They’ve got a Zeppole truck. If you’re a New Yorker, you probably know what that is. (laughing) They’re the best food I’ve ever tasted in my life.

When I’m on that set, it’s so relaxing and a different experience and I just get to hang out with the other actors and not have to worry about making the day or lights falling or people caught in hurricanes. It’s just hanging out, eating Zeppole’s. Every once in a while I get a gig here and there and I’ll take it, and I’ll act, and I’ll love it. But our company, Price Productions, does take up most of my time.

Understandably so! You have so many different projects at any one moment.

I love producing. I was getting into the film business as an actor because that was the only way I knew how to do it. But if I was able to break into the business as a producer earlier on I probably would have. But I just figured I would go on auditions and I could get involved in movies that way. If I wanted to produce, I didn’t know what the first step was.

I made this movie, as I alluded to earlier, about my great grandfather where I wanted to honor him. Ended up going – in 2014 – and just started to shoot. We were at Ellis Island, getting footage there. It started to come together as a film.

Athletes were calling and saying, “We notice you’re making this movie on discrimination in sports, we would love to be a part of it and tell our story.” It ended up being something a lot bigger than I thought it would be. That’s what started our company.

But it was such a learning experience, making On Thin Ice. I packaged it, I financed it, I distributed it. I did everything on that movie – with a great team, by the way. It was really like a family project because it was a family member for all of us. My brother edited the movie. It was my mom’s grandmother, she was heavily involved in that movie. She produced the hell out of it with me. She did such a freaking great job, so it will always be special to me because of that.

How we got it done I have no idea, because we all had no idea how to make a movie. But we did. And that was our first one. And now I make about 5 per year in the action space. But everything I know came from that movie. As you go, you learn more. But that movie I had to dive in and put the talent together and put the financing together and put the distribution together in all these areas that I had no idea about, and suddenly I’m in it. That’s what gave me that education on film production in general.

Well, and also, it’s cool that you set out to kind of honor your great grandfather’s legacy and, in doing that, you kind of created a legacy of your own that you get to now build upon. That’s super dope.

Thank you! I never thought of it that way but it’s so nice of you to say. I guess there are such things as happy accidents, but they’re not really. Because, as I said, I wanted to be a producer and in film my whole life, but making this movie just to honor his legacy, it did kind of put things in place.

Out of all of the characters that you have played so far, which has been your favorite?

I like that question. That is a good question. The one I enjoyed playing… Bobby Love was so much fun to play. Just because it was the two-sider role, a guy that got to put on this facade. It was also my first role so I have to give it a shout out.

Do you have any anecdotes from filming that role that kind of sit with you?

Yeah! It was The Naked Brothers Band, if anyone needs to know. It was my first role. Bobby Love was a famous British rocker but he was really a surfer dude from San Diego. I remember we were having the balloon fight for battle of the bands. We had this scene where I was in a fight with Nat. My band was on stage, his band was on stage and we just started brawling and he was grabbing my hair, I was grabbing him. People were pulling my pants down and my shirt. (laughing) That was memorable.

Working with Richard Dreyfuss on Your Family or Mine was a highlight because I’ve always been a fan, since Jaws and Mr. Holland’s Opus. He was unbelievable in that movie. Such a powerful character and so relatable, too. That scene at the end of the movie when his daughter is on stage and he’s watching in the audience, it’s such a beautiful moment. He’s an incredible actor, so I enjoyed working with him.

It was fun working with David Walton and Dax Sheppard in About a Boy. That was a fun character. Zak on AwesomenessTV’s Side Effects with Lulu Antariksa, Meg DeLacy, Finn Roberts, and Chester See was a lot of fun. We had a few seasons of that series. Going to set with the same people all the time was fun. It’s like Rap Sh!t. When you are constantly going to the same set with the same people it becomes like a family.

Like Rap Shit, Side Effects incorporated music in the main storyline, another passion of yours. That’s great! I actually have a follow-up question to a conversation we had back in 2013. You had mentioned that you would love to work with Michael Fassbender or Robert DeNiro, which I totally agree with. But have your bucket list acting partners shifted at all?

Robert DeNiro is still the same. He will always be, probably, my #1. My grandfather and I talk about it all the time. We watch mafia movies together, we’re New Yorkers. My grandpa is from Brooklyn and he just started me on these movies early on. Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Al Pachino, Joe Pesci. I gravitate, naturally, toward Robert DeNiro. He is one of the greatest actors of our time. I grew up watching all of his movies.

I would love to work with Hillary Swank. She’s my favorite actress, she’s amazing. She’s got such vulnerability and power and she is just captivating to watch. I would add her to the list. Al Pacino, definitely, though he’s always kind of been on the list.

We can’t mention everyone!

(Laughing) Yeah, I know! Fassbender is insane. I can’t believe that was my answer. He’s unbelievable, already a legend.

Well, so seeing that list of people… when you were young, what were you guys watching at home?

Love that question. My Uncle Arthur and his husband Uncle Lenny were like a second set of parents. We were always around them. Lenny was really close with me, and Arthur too, and our entire lives, they would come over and it was always about horror like Chuckie or action movies like Die Hard. And those are primarily the movies we make now.

A Steven Seagal, a Bruce Willis, a Mel Gibson – which we have Mel in Bandit – so I grew up qatching movies like that. With my brother after school I remember Rocket Power and Hey Arnold! on Nickelodeon. Those were my go-to.

You mentioned Die Hard. We don’t have to delve into it, but is it a Christmas movie or is it now in your mind?

So funny. No. It’s not a Christmas movie in my mind. Just because movies are set during Christmas time, that doesn’t necessarily classify them as a Christmas movie. The writer definitely deliberately set it during Christmastime, but that doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. It’s an action movie.

Thank you. Alright. Time to ask you about Mad Props. It’s coming to theaters in February. I saw you worked with some big names on it. So, tell us about it.

I’m so happy that I got involved in that project, it was my second documentary. Like I said, we make a lot of feature films. But it’s been a while since I made a documentary. And I heard this guy’s story. It’s based on this banker in Oklahoma who always wanted to be involved in film, never really got a chance, and loves movies. So he started collecting movie props. Like BIG movie props, like the volleyball from Castaway. Like, Indiana Jones props. He would go around the globe finding the greatest movie props of all time.

Our movie takes us on this journey with him to find movie props. As a creative in the film business, you would get a kick out of it. It’s eye-opening to see how much these props cost, but it’s also like a history of movies too. Sometimes with a documentary subject, you’re not sure how their family will be on camera. But his family is really fun and engaging to watch!

Is there anything right now in particular that is inspiring your work?

My grandma passed in August of 2022. She is always an inspiration for me. My grandma had issues with other people, but she never had issues with me. It was all out of love, everything was out of love. I could play you voicemails where she’s like “Keli, where are you? This is my fourth call. Are you OK? I heard there was something going on in Los Angeles. Are you OK?”

And they’re so precious you never want to delete them.

Yeah, I have like 50 of them. I’m going to see if I can play you one.

**This was the piece of the interview where we paused to listen to his grandmother’s voice over his voicemail, adorable Brooklyn accent and all. We may have both shed a tear or two talking about our families. After a time, we got back on topic by speaking about Keli’s sentimentality:

I’m a very sentimental person, and I always look back at my childhood and things that I did and names of beaches and schools I went to, and I infuse them into my work life. If you look at Murder at Hollow Creek, the antagonist’s name is Bill Brooks. That’s my grandfather.

Aw. He’s an antagonist. How cute!

(Laughing) And my brother’s name in that movie is Nick. His name is Nico in real life. I’m just sentimental like that. So it’s always my family that is inspiring me.

But also, if I watch a movie or a show that can influence me. I’m really into success stories like Steve Jobs. andthat kind of stuff too. Underdogs who experience success inspire me. Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Evander Holyfield, Allisyn Felix, Amy Mullins, and more.

OK but yeah, you like sports. Do you have teams?

I love baseball. But I watch basketball and football the most. Die-hard Knicks fan, always have been. They’re my #1. In football, it’s the Jets. I have to pause because the last few years have been a nightmare. (Laughing) Thinking that we would at least have a nice run at The Big Game…

**This was the point of the interview where I identified with his struggles as the fan of a losing team, and we went off on a sports tangent entirely unrelated to this. Spoiler: Keli Price does know enough about professional basketball and football to engage you in lengthy conversation.

Though bummed about the current performance of his teams, Keli ended our chat as graciously as ever. “It was great connecting with you and seeing where you are in your life, and expanding on where I have been. I like doing interviews with people I trust to do great storytelling.”

___

Storytelling like Price does with every production he helms nowadays. If you learn nothing else today, understand that a next wave of independent entertainment moguls is surfacing. These people have touched many facets of the industry, and they want to tell stories with a sense of vulnerability and passion — and have fun and treat everyone respectfully while doing it.

If you haven’t caught up on Rap Sh!t, now is the time. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming releases of Hellfire and Murder at Hollow Creek among others over at Price Productions.

yellowcard’s ryan key talks catching the performance bug, self-awareness, and 20 years of ocean avenue

yellowcard’s ryan key talks catching the performance bug, self-awareness, and 20 years of ocean avenue

Emo children of the aughts rejoice, because one of our favorite live bands is making the rounds again, and they’re bigger than ever before. Pop-punk bad boys Yellowcard delivered a kiss of surf pop, a hint of nostalgia, and a whole lot of energy every time they took the stage. So when I had the opportunity to interview Ryan Key, Yellowcard’s lead singer, Star Wars aficionado, podcast host, and content creator extraordinaire – I snapped it up.

One of the first things I say, after promising myself not to bring it up? “I spoke to you in 2006 and it was to ask you to sign a t-shirt for my friend and I was too nervous to say anything else.” Cool. Word vomit.

“Oh, I was such a little shit in 2006 too,” Key immediately admitted, laughing. “So, it should be a way better encounter this time, I promise.”

Key’s self-awareness eased us into a conversation that ran the gamut. From our shared love of Star Wars (Though I haven’t quite expanded into podcast territory yet), being driven by bitterness through some tough times, how it feels coming off the biggest tour Yellowcard has ever experienced, and reflecting on 20 years of Ocean Avenue.

Yellowcard’s rapid-fire return fueled a “Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue” tour that took on bigger venues than they’ve ever played. The band’s welcome back was far from polite, with screaming fans more dedicated to the art form, acceptance of the music, and enjoyment during shows to fuel the energy.

From theatrical beginnings…

Admittedly, Ryan didn’t do much with music growing up. He took piano lessons for a couple of months, hated it, and quit. He wasn’t much for musicals, either. He was much more attached to the idea of the theater. An idea – it seems – that may have stemmed from his first role as Tiny Tim in none other than A Christmas Carol.

“It’s two lines,” Key admits, laughing. “But being on stage at 6 years old in front of enough people, I can only imagine shaped me, changed me forever. Having that moment happen on your impressionable little 1st-grade mind. It’s like, yeah I want more of this. You get that dopamine hit of being on stage and the adrenaline of that, you want more of that. And you don’t know why but I think as a kid, after that, I was just dead set on being on stage however I could.”

In 10th grade, Key was accepted to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville and his pursuit of acting and theater got really serious. He was super involved at school in the shows and the deep, specific education. “We were studying Stanslovsky and real heavy stuff for high school kids,” Key says.

…to stress-reducing hobbies.

To help blow off steam in his -very limited – free time? “I had a band on the weekends,” he explains. “I got my first guitar when I was 11 or 12 years old and I played it and I wrote really crappy songs and had some friends that I played with but that was never gonna be something that I did professionally. I never even had it in my mind. I didn’t really enjoy singing, to be honest, very much. It’s still not my favorite part of my job. I was the lead singer of the band but I think that comes from that sense of wanting to be an entertainer, wanting to be a performer.”

This fact can be hard to believe, as Key’s vocal range is impressive and wide-ranging in its pop-punk glory. And his life performance tactics? Energetic to this day, at a level most people aren’t entirely capable of even at their peak. “It was never in my mind as something I wanted to pursue as a career,” he shrugs. “I just didn’t get into college where I wanted to go.”

When one door closes…

Ryan never let his rejection to the Theater Program at Boston University – twice, unfortunately – go. “I got into school in Boston but I didn’t get into their BFA program. My parents were like, ‘We’re not going to spend all that money for you to go to a private school in Boston if you’re not in the program that you want to be in.'”

While reasonable, it can be difficult to recover from something like that so early on in one’s career. From that bitterness was born a focus. Admittedly – and fairly – Ryan was spiteful about what had happened and chose not to complete the BFA program he started in Florida. He dropped out of school, leaned hard into music, and eventually began singing in Yellowcard.

To hear an artist admit to leaning into something in that anger is very refreshing. You often hear about heartache and heartbreak in everyone’s work, but it can be difficult to address the times of anger and instances when you feel things didn’t go the way they perhaps should have. Having a creative outlet to pour himself into was clearly the way to go, and is something so many of us should embrace as a healing mechanism in times of trouble.

Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue

Ryan says the band really appreciates the fact that the fans have weathered the storms alongside them. He credits this grand musical journey to the fact that fans have been patient and forgiving.

I have, personally, been a fan of Yellowcard’s since I was an adolescent, so getting a peek into their tour dynamic was ideal. When asked about the “Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue” tour, Key was almost gushing. “I feel like my favorite part of the tour was the energy between the band itself. I don’t think we’ve ever gone on a tour that was so lacking in negativity as this one. This tour was so full of happiness and positivity that it felt like an alien world, almost, compared to the Yellowcard that I’ve known for the past 20+ years.” 

What Key refers to – this feeling of a more in-sync crew and better touring environment and experience – has been echoed by artists the world over since the pandemic triggered larger conversations around mental health and balance in the music industry. Tours are being approached in a more holistic manner, and it’s been a reinvigorating time in the music industry. He went on:

I think we all felt that way. Which compounded each other aspect of the tour. The shows and interaction with fans, on-stage and off, and the support I think that we had from our crew every day felt stronger and better. I think that’s because there was a sense of peace and calm on the road.

We’ve never had that. Yellowcard has historically been a bit of a chaotic and tumultuous bag of personalities that have not created the best environment to work in. So this was, you know, jarring in the best possible way, to get out there and get a couple weeks in and realize, Oh, everything is just OK. And we can just let that be.

Pausing to reflect

It was almost spiritual, the way that he described it. Key’s acute awareness of the dynamic of the band made me wonder, aloud, how long it took in his career to come to this acceptance of who he is and his identity in the band.

I think it started, for me personally, during the final chapter of it all, at the end. You know, in 2016, 2017. Realizing that I was going to lose it forever because, at the time, it truly felt like that was going to be the case. It started with, I think, just a simple idea of really wanting to enjoy that tour in 2016 and 2017 and the international stuff we did.

That whole experience, as much as I tried, was sort of tinged with the reasons we were stepping away from it. The metrics that you use to quantify success, right, started to say “This is on the way down. We’re on the backslide.” Let’s end this before it goes too far so we can end it on our own terms and make it something special for fans and for ourselves. 

It went a lot deeper than that because it did go into the personalities and the inner workings of the band and things that we keep pretty close to the chest. So, as much as I tried to really enjoy it all, there was still an air of sadness and kind of negativity that had carried into that from all of the reasons we decided to step away in the first place. 

It wasn’t until I got home and started to have to figure out how to make my own way [that the self-awareness set in.] And the pandemic, really, was huge. A good friend of mine from high school was stopping through to stay with me. I had moved back to Los Angeles – which didn’t work out because the pandemic hit and we couldn’t tour or work so I was only there for about 6 or 8 months and then I left to come back east – but I had gone out there to kind of re-establish myself there and start working on film and tv music and things I want to do, too, as I get older.

My friend stopped through and it was only going to be for a week but it was the week that the lockdown happened in California. So he ended up staying with me for an entire month. During that time, he sort of opened my mind to meditating and starting to truly figure out what was going on with myself and work on the reasons why I had ended up where I was. I had never taken a minute to look that far inward, I don’t think. So it really wasn’t until 2020 that I started to kind of forge the path that has led me back here, now, where I am. 

As if to echo this spiritual, self-reflective sentiment, he notably wrapped the tour wielding a lightsaber, a symbol that the force is strong. While he claims that he brought the saber to make his nephew happy, we know there were probably additional motives here. (Because, really, who doesn’t want to have a lightsaber on tour with them?) For those of you wondering, yes, he does have a lightsaber lying around. In fact, he has multiple.

Embracing creative outlets

Besides his lifetime love of the franchise, Key has had the opportunity to connect with the franchise on a different level since the pandemic. “I’ve been really lucky the last 3 or 4 years to intensify my connection with Star Wars through hosting the Thank The Maker podcast with my friends,” he almost gushes. “I think Star Wars reminds you, at 43 years old, if you just give in and let yourself love it the way that I do, it reminds you how to play. That’s something that adults just don’t do.”

At this point, Key doesn’t realize he has hit a home run and we dive into a conversation about what being a “Disney adult” means in certain circles and some of the symbolism involved in Star Wars. We agreed that a certain level of play is encouraged to truly live a full life, especially as we age. “I’m a big fan of my wife for allowing me to just embrace that side, that childhood side of me, and letting me dress up in costumes with my friends and swing lightsabers around, you know?” he says, almost in amazement. “It’s really been a beneficial thing.”

Embracing change

As for if anything has changed for the band over the years – aside from the deep, self-realizations and occasional weaponry – Ryan says writing with everyone has become much more simplified. Explaining that the technology just wasn’t there to support quick changes to tracks and production fixes when they recorded their first albums, Key said the process now is just so much more accessible. “We can get right into ProTools, create the demo, program the drums so that we can change those around – we can try all the different options.”

The great part about having home studios is being able to control the sound as you build it. This way, you have more of an actualized recording that more than likely will sound much more similar to the final product. “It’s way more inspiring to have a good-sounding, ripping demo to steer the direction of the melody and the lyric that I’m going to put over the music.”

But the way Yellowcard writes? Pretty much the same. And super focused on the instrumentals. “It’ll start with usually a guitar riff. Shawn also has brought plenty of ideas on the violin or ideas for the structure of a whole song. He’ll have like a motif or a chord progression he will bring in that we will then build riffs and things around that.”

But you have to remember, Ryan is one with The Force. “I get middle-of-the-night ideas sometimes. I’ll wake up or I’ll not be able to sleep, one or the other. And it’ll just happen and I’ll take out my notes app on my phone and start plugging stuff in.

The title track from their latest release, “Childhood Eyes,” actually came to be that way. “I woke up with that chorus melody in my head and I started to put words to it. I could hear it happening in my head. And when I got to Austin for pre-production, I had an idea for the verse and the chorus in my notepad but I had never picked up a guitar to put music to it. So I just said, ‘Hey I have these lyrics and I have sort of a cadence and a rhythm for them.’ And we wrote the whole song in 15 minutes.” 

Looking forward…

In the coming weeks, Key will be working from his new home studio. When asked about his plans for the space, he perks up immediately. “I’m doing the whole room black,” he says. “Ceiling, walls, floor. A lot of wood grain and a lot of green pops in the room. The vibe is super Scandinavian, and I love that. I’m a big fan of Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. I love that part of the world so much. So we have a lot of this [look] in our house.”

Even more than the initial planning and execution of the project, this room will hold so much more meaning for Ryan as an artist, as he explores new podcast-related projects, and films content, pursues long-term goals (like music supervision and composition), and writes new Yellowcard songs for us to enjoy. It will also hold space for Ryan as a new father, viewing movies and creating art in this space with his family.

You mentioned we met in 2006. I wouldn’t want to meet me in 2006, you know? It’s just not even comparable, the headspace I’m in now and the tools that I have now to kind of prove my reactivity and try to stay positive. Things I was just incapable of doing for the better part of my career in Yellowcard until now. So, in the end, stepping away from the band and having that time was probably the best possible thing that could happen to me, personally. Because the perspective that I’ve come back to the band with is just so wildly different than it’s ever been before.

Yellowcard has, once again, taken a front seat in Ryan’s life. Check out an upcoming performance near you throughout 2024.

candlebox brings natural ease and sense of appreciation to a beautiful summer evening show in kcmo

candlebox brings natural ease and sense of appreciation to a beautiful summer evening show in kcmo

Since 1990 – give or take a few years here and there – Candlebox (updated lineup: Kevin Martin, Adam Kury, Brian Quinn, Island Styles, BJ Kerwin) has been lighting the stage with its endearing (and enduring) brand of Pacific Northwest grunge rock. Consistently, they’ve brought heavy-hitting sets to dedicated crowds with hints of glam metal and blues in tow.

What the band has not always conveyed in their performance, is a sense of nostalgia or wide-spanning appreciation. Citing the pandemic – and other circumstances over the years – lead singer Kevin Martin took things a little slower, leaving space for reflection during their set at Starlight Theater in Kansas City, MO on Wednesday, September 6.

Martin told us about his flawed and wonderful immigrant grandmother and his incredible parents – including a wonderful anecdote about a cradle-robbing father. He later took time to appreciate the people he – and we all – have lost too soon. Grief is a tricky bitch, and we have all been touched by it over the years. A sense of true empathy fell like a blanket over the Theater, on what was – admittedly – one of the most temperate and enjoyable evenings of the summer. (Despite the additional quilt of smog over us, brought down from the fires in Canada. Oops.)

Setlist
Don’t You
Change
Blossom
No Sense
Elegante
Arrow
Mothers Dream
He Calls Home
Cover Me
Far Behind
You

With COVID cases on the rise (despite what your local news might omit from its reports), photographers were not allowed a wide variety of angles to shoot from. However, the energy and the wild abandon are palpable through our Candlebox highlights, below.

jean ryden’s new video for “parallel universe” is heartbreaking and impactful

jean ryden’s new video for “parallel universe” is heartbreaking and impactful

In Jean Ryden’s music video for her song “Parallel Universe”, Jean desperately wants the trauma of losing her parents to have never occurred. In the beginning of the song, she replays images of her parents in her mind in black and white, because her past is like an old movie; the happy moments with her parents are covered with feelings of dread. All the color has been depleted from her memories because new movies are symbolic of new, happy memories with her parents being formed. In comparison, the old movies symbolize her happy memories as only in the past

Jean lays in her bed and leans her head to the side, which reflects when she would lean on her parents for support. She is alone in the bed because after her parents passed away, she felt alone and like she had nobody to lean on for support. The camera zooms in on a close-up image of her eyes while she lays in her bed because her eyes are her pathway to all of the loneliness she feels inside. 

Color film of a garden with beautiful roses of different shades and a white bird flying above it is representative of her healing from her grief and finding peace. To elaborate, the bird symbolizes her flying because she is freeing herself from the black and white space of her grief. 

Images lasting for a few seconds, all of her memories can never be remembered in complete detail, but the most important details remain engraved. The colored images represent her purely happy memories, the black and white images are symbolic of her memories remembered in sadness or trigger her grief, and the partially colored images are memories she is remembering to heal from her grief and sadness.

The same image of her alone, opening and closing her eyes, leaning her head against a wall, in a vacant room, occurring for a few seconds, repeatedly, shows her constant despair. She shuts off all of her memories with or of her parents because she goes into a state of depression, which she is constantly battling to escape from. 

The video ends with her sitting in a dark room with candles and a black sky lit with bright stars. Images are played in quick seconds against Jean’s soft, melodic voice, which has a deeply sad tone on its edges along with hints of desperation. Her voice also has another tone, that feels like she is going through feelings of clarity. 

Once she repeats her memories filled with many different emotions, she must admit that the reality is her parents are in heaven. Therefore, her memories are a “parallel universe.”

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

“You People” Wasn’t Received Well – But its Message is Critical

You People has been the talk of the town, as the cast has been on a larger-than-life press tour. Most late-night talk show hosts have been clinging to the idea of an Eddie Murphy revival. The stacked cast stands on its own even without the comedic talents of one of the most storied celebrities of our time. Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are the parents of Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill), who has recently met and fallen in love with Amira (Lauren London), the daughter of Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). The supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Rhea Pearlman, Taco, and Sam Jay, among others. 

The Humor in You People is Often Clunky and Uncomfortable

The plotline centers on the way people of different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds look at each other. Everyone has preconceived notions of the way the world is and how it should be. While none of the characters are outright racist, microaggressions that they may never have intended can rear their ugly heads. And this movie created plenty of opportunities to observe this behavior.

Ezra finds himself experiencing a series of unfortunate events stirred on by inherent racism, as does his betrothed. Akbar always imagined his daughter marrying a black man, and his disapproval of Ezra is palpable from the moment they meet at Roscoe’s to discuss the idea of marriage. 

The filmmakers chose to have Ezra want to impress them so badly that he missteps and comes off as insensitive as well. This begins with his choice of eatery and the fact that he is proposing the idea of marriage during his first meeting with the family.

While Ezra struggles to level with Akbar throughout the movie, Amira has similar issues with the Cohen family. Ezra’s sister takes a romantic liking to her and his father – who has an affinity for Xzibit and wants the world to know about it – chooses to serenade her with John Legend’s “Ordinary People” in an awkward first meeting moment. His mother? Well, she is on a whole other level, leaning into the “diversity” the family is engaging in a little too much. 

Admittedly, the Plotline isn’t Entirely Believable

The plotline goes a little bit too far when Shelley and Akbar take it upon themselves to attend the bachelor and bachelorette parties for their in-laws. These scenes actually make the viewer think, “Why didn’t their significant others or children put a stop to this?” This is the piece of the movie that came off as too wild, too unhinged. The discomfort felt during these scenes could have easily been portrayed in other, more believable ways. Plenty of moms have made themselves seem off-the-rocker on the hunt for a bridal gown or at a bridal shower, for example.

But that might be the exact point the writers are trying to make. These ideals are antiquated. The atmosphere they create is uncomfortable. And sometimes you have to sit through the discomfort to truly understand the message of a movie. Race struggles are still at the forefront of the conversation in America, still. It can be difficult to find humor in it, and it is something we should all be working to fix. This commentary and this perspective are necessary because change doesn’t come unless we get uncomfortable.

Have you gotten a chance to check out You People yet? Maybe you can help me find a new discourse for it… and get it out of its lower-rated category on Rotten Tomatoes.

5 Reasons Why Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” is Worth the Binge

5 Reasons Why Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” is Worth the Binge

In case you have been living under a rock or in a hollow tree, Tim Burton’s latest addition to the Disney universe – the series reimagination of The Addams Family, aptly titled Wednesday – has been making waves since its Netflix release on November 23rd. While purists might not be immediately ready to dive in, I binged the series (3 times) and heavily encourage you to do so as well. Here’s why.

“Wednesday” Is A Welcome Departure From Reality

Reality has been dark. But Wednesday? She’s darker. A teen nightmare who is obsessed with all things evil is absolutely entertaining. The closest we can get to having friends like Wednesday is if we unironically hang out with gothic peers or take a time machine back to the aughts emo scene. Existing in the orbit of someone this maniacal isn’t usually a pleasure we all have.

Watching someone use piranhas for their high school revenge schemes is laughable and unrealistic (for the most part), but so out of left field that it’s funny to watch. Having a detached hand named Thing scurrying around and supporting your educational efforts isn’t something you see every day. 

Wednesday Is More Relatable This Time Around

Wednesday – now depicted by the indelible Jenna Ortega – seems even more relatable post-pandemic. The disdain for other humans? Check. The quirky ways she moves through life, particularly on the dancefloor? Check. The constant desire to be alone? Check, check, check.  

Wednesday’s Humor Is Elevated

Sure, all former portrayals of the character of Wednesday include some heavy dry humor and sarcasm. But the bits in this revival – and Ortega’s delivery of said bits – are absolute gold. Some of our favorite quotable Wednesday moments?

  1. “I don’t bury hatchets. I sharpen them.”
  2. “But drip [coffee] is for people who hate themselves and know their lives have no real purpose or meaning.”
  3. “I don’t need your help or your pity. I already have a mother and a therapist. That’s enough torture, even for me.”
  4. “It’s not my fault I can’t interpret your emotional Morse code.”
  5. “I find social media to be a soul-sucking void of meaningless affirmation.”

The Easter Eggs Are Amazing

What does everyone want out of a follow-up, sequel, or remake? They want callbacks. Give me all the new material you want, but if you can slide props, quotes, cameos, or similar storylines in for nostalgia, you’ve captured my attention. For example, there is a secret society housed in the walls at Wednesday’s outcast school – where her parents met and fell in love – Nevermore. The “passcode” to enter is a quick two-finger snaps. Where have we heard that before? 

How about the archery scenes at Nevermore that harken to scenes of Pugsley and Wednesday practicing archery in Addams Family Values? Plus, Wednesday hates pilgrims… if ever there were a nod to Christina Ricci’s portrayal of the character, this is it. You’ll notice this – plus many more references to previous storylines and even Tim Burton’s work – sprinkled throughout.

Wednesday’s Rendition Of “Paint it Black”

I had never heard anything so painfully beautiful until the first episode of this series when Wednesday plays the cello. Her own siren song, it seems, “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones was performed by Ortega herself, who learned to play cello for the role. If you tune in for nothing else, this moment will change you.

Why “People We Hate At The Wedding” Just Might Be Your Next Favorite Rom-Com Misadventure

Why “People We Hate At The Wedding” Just Might Be Your Next Favorite Rom-Com Misadventure

Holiday-themed romantic comedies are a dime a dozen these days. So when Amazon Prime posted “The People We Hate At The Wedding” to their app during this timeframe, the cynic inside of me jumped for absolute joy. As a single person, I was over the sticky-sweet, predictable cuteness of the regular winter release. As someone who works pretty heavily in the wedding industry? I was ready to see the jaded side of celebration season.

Based on the book by Grant Ginder and directed by Claire Scanlon, the movie follows a brother and sister as their half-sister gets married in an extravagant ceremony overseas. The three siblings, played by Kristen Bell (Alice), Ben Platt (Paul), and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Eloise) have a strained relationship, with Eloise being particularly estranged from the other two. The trio has a special type of chemistry in the way they choose to fight and play nice throughout the film.

The incomparable Allison Janney plays their mother Donna effortlessly, echoing the “can’t you all just get along?” sentiments that generations of parents have screamed into the abyss.

1. It Humanizes Parents

So many romantic comedies keep the plotline basic and don’t spend time on characters that have, in theory, shaped the protagonists. I can’t speak to the book, but the movie spends considerable time elaborating on Donna’s story. Yes, she is portrayed as a bit of a tightwad and incredibly frustrating for the kids in the beginning. But for once, you get a glimpse into the matriarch’s past, present, and future. You can see her heartache, notice how she supports and protects her children, and view her as an entirely independent character from the three true protagonists.

2. It Is Inclusive

“The People We Hate At The Wedding” focuses on blended families and the pain of comparison in a way that we are not familiar with in modern cinema. It isn’t afraid to vocalize both the beauties and the difficulties of a layered family.

The movie is inclusive of same-sex relationships – like that between Paul and his boyfriend – and engages in the discussion of what emotions come up when trying something like an open relationship.

3. It Examines Self-Worth Through Many Lenses

“The People We Hate At The Wedding” emphasizes a discussion around self-worth as it stands for each character. While Donna explores what makes her truly happy – and begins to find it in an old flame – Paul also has self-reflection time to explore what he wants in a romantic partner. His confidence in both himself and his familial relationships becomes clearer by the end of the movie.

Noticing true character progression in such palpable ways leaves the viewer inspired and excited for self-discovery in their own lives.

4. British Accents Abound

Love a good British accent? This film is largely based in the UK, so you’ll get your fix every so often. Does anyone really need another reason to melt into a new flick?

5. The Misadventures Will Make You Feel Good About Yourself

While the 3-star rating on IMDB might not exactly indicate it, there are moments of pure hilarity in this film that make it truly enjoyable. Like when Eloise absolutely burns Paul’s ex-boyfriend out of absolutely nowhere. Or when drunk Paul can’t stop talking about his breakup at the rehearsal dinner.

Plus, 3 family members end up in jail the week of the wedding. Can you guess who they might be? You’ve got to watch to find out!

after postponement, the goo goo dolls reinvigorate their kansas city fans

after postponement, the goo goo dolls reinvigorate their kansas city fans

On a mid-summer night at the beginning August of 2022, The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage to an (almost) sold-out crowd at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. A show that had been postponed from a previously scheduled date, there was heightened energy around the event.

The Goo Goo Dolls riveted the audience with a 23-song setlist. They brought the heat starting with the first lines of opener “Yeah, I Like You,” an effervescent track from this year’s self-reflective Chaos in Bloom. Along with their new work, they played the audience through a multitude of hits and favorites. “Slide,” “Here Is Gone,” “Black Balloon,” and “Lucky Star” were all performed within the first ten songs. And there was no room for slowing down there.

Bassist/vocalist Robby Takac brought his quintessential “ball of fun” energy to the stage all night long–this time around, notably wearing shoes, which isn’t necessarily his MO–dazzling the crowd with some deep-cut tracks in moments you can only classify as magic. As many post-pandemic shows have gone along to prove, The Goo Goo Dolls’ influence spans generations, as people of all ages and demographics came out to enjoy the show despite the blistering midwest heat. (I wore a neck fan I borrowed from my parents, and have no shame around that fact.)

As someone who has had the honor of seeing this storied band perform live multiple times during their time in the limelight, I can firmly say that their performance felt different this time around. Though there were kaleidoscope lighting features and the same level of excitement coming from the band members as in previous shows, there was an extra layer of sheer joy emanating from the stage. You could sense Johnny Rzeznik’s (guitarist, vocalist) weightlessness as he beamed at the audience, appreciating the moment much more, perhaps, than anyone could have pre-pandemic.

If you stayed through to the end, you had the benefit of singing along to “Name,” “Broadway,” “Iris,” and more, and may have even had the privilege of singing along to a beautiful, showstopping cover of Petty‘s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” It felt like glitter was falling over the crowd if you took the chance to gaze up at the starry night sky at that moment.

Until you remembered that, with the end of the show comes the end of the beautiful distraction. And you’re actually outside. Sweating from every pore. And the band is gone.

But–if you’re one of the lucky few–the black balloons that were passed around the audience might not be gone. (And we treasure a show souvenir.)

**words + photos by meredith schneider

4 Things I Learned While Binging Hulu’s MAGGIE (RIP)

4 Things I Learned While Binging Hulu’s MAGGIE (RIP)

When you hear me say I’m about to talk about the television show “Maggie,” there is a chance some of you might have flashbacks to reruns of the 1998 single-season series starring Ann Cusack, John Getz, and John Slattery. In that, a middle-aged Maggie returns to veterinarian school and approaches life from a different perspective.

But HULU just released the first season of “MAGGIE” — a sitcom about a young woman with psychic abilities (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and the obstacles that crop up after she thinks she has seen a vision into her own future. She grapples with her idea of what ethics a psychic needs to live by and how she thinks society views psychics. She also wonders what leverage she has over the ability to adjust her visions, and struggles with curiosity over that impact.

Everything is all the more complicated as a one-time hookup – and a man from that vision – moves into the lower level of a property her parents own with his long-term girlfriend while she occupies the upstairs apartment.

Sound silly and weird? Surprisingly, it has more depth to it than you might think. Here are four things we can all learn from watching a show like MAGGIE, below.

*SMALL SPOILER ALERT*

What Watching Maggie Can Teach Us

1. To Recognize and Appreciate All Of Yourself

The first half of the season focuses on how Maggie sees the world as a psychic and intuitive. It throws acute observance onto the fact that she is hesitant to fully embrace who she is. The second half of the season sees Maggie unable to cope when her intuition falters and she is no longer able to see visions. Her sense of self was more wrapped in her abilities, than in herself.

Just like Maggie, we all need to see that just because other people may not see all of our unique, wonderful sides doesn’t mean they are not valuable. We need to put time and attention into all of the things that we love, all of the people we adore and all of the hobbies we have. This will allow you to have other interests and fallbacks if something doesn’t work out, or if one interest burn outs.

2. To Be Honest When Establishing Relationships

The entire first season, Maggie is grappling with the guilt of sleeping with a man who is now her neighbor. For reasons we won’t spoil, Maggie finds herself feeling bad, as an empath often can. And that feeling discourages her from being open with her new friend Jessie about her dating history.

One big thought I had while watching this entire season was that Maggie could have avoided a lot of her strife with an open and honest conversation. If anyone wants to establish a lasting relationship, it should start with an open and honest dialogue that sets you up right.

3. To Know That You Create Your Own Destiny

After Maggie sees herself in someone else’s future, she begins to heavily rely on her psychic abilities to inform her decision-making.

When Maggie’s powers to see into the future abandon her mid-season, she is thrown into an identity crisis, though. First of all, who is she without this insane and unique ability to tap into the future? Does she have other talents and hobbies that can lead her into another career or pastime? The second part of her crisis is that she feels like she has no control over how she maneuvers her new relationship.

Like Maggie, we can all benefit from learning that we do have the power to create our own destinies, even if it’s not how we imagined it to unfold. And that’s okay.

4. To Stop Stressing About The Future

All of this brings me to my last point. As a habitual worry-wort, I have never had the luxury of a stress-free life. But, examining everything from the perspective of having the ability to see into the future seems heavy and stressful as well.

Worrying about how you are influencing an outcome or your own future is a fair thought to have, but focusing on it can be so detrimental. Not only does it take you out of the here and now, but it blocks you from appreciating what you do have at this moment. It distracts you from enjoying your surroundings, accomplishments, and community.

We can all truly benefit from stopping how much we put our energy into stressing about the future.