Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epic Concert Stories

Epic concert stories. Everyone has at least one, that one concert experience that stands out above the others. They are stories you write about, and that is what I’m here to share with you. For some time now, MAG has been in contact with Chad Szeliga, drummer for Breaking Benjamin and OurAfter. They’ve exchanged phone calls and emails and have become long distance friends. Chad was to substitute for the drummer of Hourcast for their concert in Irving Plaza, NYC. MAG would have the opportunity to hang out backstage during the show featuring: HourCast, Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, Anchored, and Rev Theory. Any rock fans dream come true.

Two days before the show, MAG gets a call from Chad asking if it was possible to get a custom pair of Chucks for Black Label Society’s guitarist, Nick “Evil Twin” Catanese. Even though two days seemed like a daunting task, MAG didn’t want to let Chad down. He had the pair done and painted in time for the show. Because this wouldn’t be a complete story without someone getting an awesome pair of custom made sneakers.

On the day of the show, MAG met up with Chad in Jersey to hang out with the band for the day. That’s when he actually met Chad Szeliga for the first time and he described it as “like they were the oldest of friends.” How cool is that? A rock star, famous rock star, coming up to you and giving you a hug like you’ve known each other for years. It’s rare to find people of fame that are still so down to earth, and from what I heard, that was the general attitude of the rest of the band members. Not what you would expect and extremely cool.

When it was time to get to the show, they realized they couldn’t get the buses through city traffic. But it’s okay. Everything was fine. Tour manager Becky Hunt had a “connection” that would be able to take them to the show. The contact, and this is extremely weird and coincidental, turns out to be PJ Gasperini, the drummer for Sugar Red Drive. There was a moment of “Wait, who now?” Because MAG also keeps in contact with the band Sugar Red Drive, most notably, their drummer, PJ. So we hear a chorus of “It’s a Small World,” and they spend the rest of the time before the show killing time. Talking Chucks, music, nerf guns…

Laughing all the way to the show, they arrive in the late afternoon and wait for the techs to finish setting up. While waiting MAG got to meet, John DeServio, bassist for Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society and drummer Mike Froedge, and finally Zakk Wylde himself. Former lead guitarist for Ozzy Osborne. Yeah, it was that kind of ‘WOW.’ Zakk asked about the shoes and when Chad told him they were for Nick. Zakk threw them on the ground. Chad explained that it was all a joke and not to take it personally, but MAG was too star struck. “Dude, Zakk Wylde just threw my shoes on the ground. AWESOME!”

Finally, Nick arrives and he is presented the shoes, which he loved. He put them on immediately and posed for pictures. The concert opened with Anchored, who I was told were incredible. They were followed by HourCast who were also outstanding. And Chad was exceptional. MAG made it a point when relaying this story to me that he had never seen a drummer play like him before. Like a machine, with a dozen twirls and flourishes without missing a beat. Next was Rev Theory, another good show.

Black Label Society was up next, but MAG only got to hear two of their songs before he had to leave with Chad who hitched a ride on Anchored’s tour bus. For the song, “Crazy Horse,” Zakk came out in an old fashioned Indian headdress looking like a Native American Viking. It was an awesome performance and MAG really wished he could have seen more. He is going to check them out the next time they’re in town so he can see their full show.

On the tour bus with Anchored, Hourcast, Chad, drum and guitar techs, they headed back to Jersey to chill and bust out the XBOX 360 for some innocent Fight Night Boxing and football…except they forgot the lead singer of Hourcast …he made it back on his own. Nice.

We come to the end of this adventure and all I can say is that I often heard the phrase, “You should have been there.” One of those rare moments were you get to hang out with generally cool rock stars. It was described as one of the coolest meetings MAG had ever encountered. Good show with good people. And there were even kinder words about the one responsible for everything, Chad Szeliga. According to MAG, he is one of the nicest people he’s ever met. After the show a kid, teenager, came up to Chad with a pair of drum sticks and asked if he could show him how to do a special trick with them. Chad stops right there and doesn’t even hesitate to give the kid a run through of exactly how to do the motions. You could tell he wasn’t just talk, but a genuinely outstanding guy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Fateful Rainy Day

It all began one dark and stormy night. Amidst a torrential downpour, MAG finds himself traversing the dark streets of New York City. Despite the blinding water obscuring his view, MAG observes a man in a red beret. Closer inspection reveals that this is none other than Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and radio host of AM970/The Apple. I know, right?

And so, naturally, MAG introduces himself. But, alas, Curtis at that very moment, receives a phone call. Technology, psh. Now, this might seem like the end, but no. Curtis tells him to hold on a minute, and MAG waits. Phone call ends. Cue pleasantries, maybe just a tiny bit of brown nosing, and the pitch. Curtis says it all seems cool and that he’ll give him a call.

Next day.

Director of Promotions, Eric Krauss, contacts MAG and they set up a meeting at none other than the radio station for AM970/The Apple located in the Empire State Building. Everything is going so perfectly, wouldn’t you say? With the shoes finished and no doubt a certain spring in his step, MAG gets ready for the meeting. But wait. Another setback. Curtis has been called away and they have to reschedule. A new date was set for April 1st. To make an already long story not quite as long, MAG gets to the studio and runs into to a rather familiar foe. He can see the looks and the uncertainty that follows, so he decides to start off with the shoes. Once in Curtis’s hands it is apparent that this is not just some weirdo off the street. This is an artist, with talent and, in hindsight, a very normal off-beat style. Talent can come in any shape.

After the initial shock, Curtis confessed to his preconceived opinions. “A lot of people contact us, and I thought you were just some schlog off the street, I didn’t realize how awesome the artwork and shoes were.” What followed were pictures and a ten minute interview. The interview information will follow in the next post, right now they are still editing and all that fun techno stuff. And more importantly, he loved the shoes.

For those who don’t know, this is really big. Sliwa’s fan base is huge, and it is just an added pleasure that he turned out to be such a nice guy. I was told that the entire experience was very cool and exciting. Which I can believe, but I would also add well deserved. More to come on this story, we will be adding links and all that to the video later. Looking forward to more exciting things to come. Until then.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shoots and Scores (Haha, get it?)

Okay, so the concept of professional sports has always eluded me, but I will give this a try. With that being said, and hopefully your understanding, had the awesome opportunity to paint for Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets.

A special bonus was that Andersen hooked MAG up with tickets to a game in Madison Square Garden. Nuggets vs. New York Knicks on March 23, 2010. At the game, which I assume was a blast but I wasn’t there, MAG got to hand Andersen the sneakers personally, and they even posed for a few pictures. Also available for pictures were Punkass and Skyskrape from TapouT, the world’s leading mixed-martial arts apparel, gear, and lifestyle brand on the market.

So, basically awesome! And that’s it for this entry. More to come, always more…

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twilight Cover Comes to LIfe: Kimbra Hickey

So, we’re still catching up on old, but no less awesome, news. has had the great privilege to paint custom pumps for Kimbra Hickey, the hands of Twilight. The picture to the left, taken by Steve DeCanio, is Kimbra and her shoes.

It’s an iconic book cover, which I’m sure even those who are not fans, would recognize. The two hands extending an apple toward the reader, the apple representing forbidden fruit and, as the author Stephenie Meyer claims, to her it speaks, among its many implications, choice. But what most readers, myself included, rarely consider is what lies beyond the image. What went into making that cover instantly recognizable as Twilight. Thanks to Heidi Bennett, who runs the largest official Twilight facebook fan site, came into contact with Kimbra Hickey, a hand, leg, and arm model who posed with the apple for the cover of Twilight.

Kimbra, who has done a number of things since and before Twilight, even brought MAG in for a photo shoot with her and the apple. Well, probably not the same apple I assume that one is well past its sell by date. Needless to say, you bring an NYC bred graffiti artist/painter and put them in front of a camera, a few high jinks are bound to ensue.

This awesome picture was taken by Bill Diodato, and despite MAG’s consumption of the apple needed for the shoot, they were able to continue. The rest of the pics are on MAG’s facebook page for those who want to check it out. How cool is that, though? Well, opinions are always varied, but to me that screams way cool.

You can check out the shoes painted for Kimbra at and a visit to her website is highly advised. You’ve probably seen Kimbra a hundred times before on a billboard or in a magazine, although it might have only been her hand or foot. With the growing popularity from her work with Twilight, which she had no idea was going to blow up so huge at the time, Kimbra has went on to create her own product designs and they’re totally worth checking out. Big things can come from the smallest opportunity. I think that’s why they tell you to open the door when it comes knocking.

We’re bringing this new post to a close and MAG, as far as I know, is still in contact with Kimbra so this might not be the last we hear of her at It certainly won’t be the last we hear of her in the Twilight community and beyond. More to come, oh so much more…a blogger’s work is never done, I guess.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Taking Over: First up- Samuel L. Jackson

Wow, it’s been a long time. Does reliability mean nothing anymore? It’s about standards. Now, let’s see if we can jump start things into a new kind of trend. I have A LOT of catching up to do and I have recently started correspondence with the artist behind, MAG. I’ll be asking him questions about what’s going on with the shoes and keeping up with new stories and the latest buyers.

For now, let me inform you of a contact by Amanda Tracey, she runs Samuel L. Jackson ’s production company UPPITV, about shoes for Jackson. Yeah, you read that right. Samuel L. Jackson was given a pair of Air Force Ones with his production company’s logo on them. Jackson has starred in films from Pulp Fiction and Jurassic Park to Ironman 2. I guess he’s just one of those names that you know. And he is totally sporting a pair of custom Punk Your Chucks Nike’s. Tracey also ordered a pair of custom Chucks for her colleague Eli.

The shoes took about two days to complete and according to MAG, “Nike's are harder to paint than Converse. I enjoy painting anything new, different is cool, the same is monotonous.” I’ve taken a crack at drawing back in the day, and I can tell you…to paint the same thing over and over, well, I don’t know that I could do it. That takes a special kind of talent and patience that eludes even more devoted artists. It’s a skill in itself. So go check them out at Now. Just kidding, at your own leisure or whenever. But seriously. Check it out.

So much more to come, how many months worth? Yeah, enough said. Look for updates soon.