Blvck Hippie

Sad boy Indie Rock gains a fresh up and comer from Memphis TN, named Blvck Hippie. Named after a family nickname Joshua Shaw got from his mother as a child. Josh’s beginnings with music started on the piano receiving classical training. When writing and recording lo-fi music out of his college dorm, Josh began to pick up the guitar. Meeting drummer Casey Rittinger, the band’s sound elevated and evolved beyond Josh’s solo projects. Now accompanied by bass and rhythm guitar, Shaw’s overdriven lead guitar and complimenting bedroom melodies lift with the polyrhythmic backbeat and groove of the band, giving an unexpected delight to various indie fans. Drawing comparisons to The Antlers and various Julian Casablancas groups like the Voidz or The Strokes, there is an infectious quality to Shaw’s brooding lyrics and the band’s runaway sound that leaves you excited for more.

With new music to drop throughout the remainder of 2020, we are excited to welcome Blvck Hippie to the Ernie Ball family and look forward to what’s to come. Check out the video for the band’s latest single titled “BunkBed” above which was recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Tennessee. 

Music is one of the things that can make everyone feel that everything is going to be okay.

Joshua Shaw to Memphis Flyer

Make sure to keep up with Blvck Hippie on his website here and listen to his tracks below.

Blvck Hippie rocks out with Ernie Ball M-Steel Skinny Top Heavy Bottom and Power Slinky electric guitar strings and Bass 5 Cobalt Regular Slinky strings.

The Vandals

Ten full-length albums, two live albums, multiple world tours, nine Warped Tour appearances, and a whole lot more, to say The Vandals are a staple in the punk rock scene since 1980, is a pretty big understatement.

Formed in Orange County, California, The Vandals quickly built a name for themselves for their humor and skate punk speed alongside bands like Bad Religion, Descendents, the Germs, Black Flag, and more. They were the second band to sign to the now infamous Epitaph Records in 1982 where they released their EP Peace thru Vandalism. After multiple line-up changes and a quick dissolve in the late 80s, the new lineup of The Vandals released Fear of a Punk Planet just as the new wave of punk rock began in 1990.

Alongside bands like Green Day, NOFX, Rancid and Pennywise, The Vandals were now staples and veterans in the scene. In 1995, the group signed to Offspring’s Dexter Holland’s Nitro Records and released the album Live Fast, Diarrhea, which found good reception around the world, landing them on tour with No Doubt. They even got some notice on the show X-Files when a character was wearing a Vandals t-shirt. Not bad for Orange County punk.
The band has continued to make waves since the 90s and pioneer ideas including members forming the infamous Kung Fu Records and ultimately releasing music on it (alongside early efforts by blink 182, The Ataris, MXPX etc), playing in the Middle East for US troops, implementing DJ scratching and “turntables” in their live show, and drummer Josh Freese filling in for bands like Nine Inch Nails, Guns N Roses, Perfect Circle, Sting and more.

It’s one of those things where the time goes by really fast. In that 25 years, there’s been a ten-year period of full-time professional rock musicians-touring all over the record. It’s bizarre to me that it’s about 30 years with the same lineup, and it’s weird to me that it keeps going and there seems to be no end in sight other than these pandemics which, to us, you take a year or two out of our career and it won’t matter. I feel bad for younger bands that lose momentum. For us, we’ll take some time off.

Joe Escalante (bassist) to LA Weekly

Check out the extensive discography below as well as a recent tune they did for a Punk Rock Halloween compilation, “Curse of the Unripe Pumpkin.” Keep up to date with The Vandals on their official site.

The Vandals use Regular Slinky and Skinny Top Heavy Bottom electric guitar strings, and Super Slinky bass strings. Bassist and original member Joe Escalante plays a collection of Ernie Ball Music Man, Sterling basses.

John Skyes

With a resume that includes playing with Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy, there really isn’t much more you need to say to prove John Sykes is the real deal when it comes to guitar work.

Coming up in the early 80s when you had to have real chops to get a gig, John was pursued for his impressive classic rock solo chops that also never strayed too far from that blues feel. He had a short stint with Streetfighter before joining up with Tygers of Pan Tang. The band was a big player in the British heavy metal scene alongside bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and more. John ripped two records with the band before he joined up with a little band called Thin Lizzy in 1982. It’s been said that Sykes joining Thin Lizzy brought them more into the heavy metal world, playing on the album Thunder and Lightning and co-writing “Cold Sweat.”

It’s was a little heavier and I think that was something that I’d brought to the table. I was into a lot of the harder guitar players in those days and I think that was something that Thin Lizzy wanted to get back to. Phil wanted to do stuff that was a bit heavier. He was really enjoying it and I definitely enjoyed it. It gave it more of an edge I think. We started digging in hard you know.

John Skyes to Metal Express Radio

In a good/bad case scenario, Thin Lizzy ended in 1983, but John quickly was asked to join Whitesnake where he continued impressing crowds with his guitar work. Unfortunately John (with the rest of the band) was dismissed by Whitesnake singer David Coverdale in 1987. Although the album he co-wrote and played on was released after his dismissal, the album began the multi-platinum self-titled effort. Not to stay too bored, John formed the hard rock group Blue Murder where he got to flex not only his playing chops, but his vocal capabilities as well.

Lately, John has been working on his solo work as well as continuing to inspire guitarists all around the world with interviews and demos, even receiving an honorary artist series Les Paul from Gibson in 2006, modeled after his 1978 Les Paul Custom.

As his fans wait to hear John Sykes‘ next solo effort, do yourself a favor and listen to everything he’s already done. Maybe even learn a lick or two.

John Sykes uses Ernie Ball RPS Regular Slinky electric guitar strings.


It’s fairly rare to have a band only on their second official effort that sounds both refreshing and familiar, but Orlando’s Makari is one of them. Pulling in styles of atmospheric guitar tones reminiscent of Circa Survive and Closure in Moscow, impressive vocal range by singer Andy Cizek, and anthemic rhythms courtesy of the push and pull from there drummer and bassist, Makari already has a polished post-hardcore sound that sounds confident and unique.

The bands latest single, “Labyrinth,” arrived August 21 and it showcases a little more maturity in the guitar playing as they build a spacey feeling to the song while the drums and bass are off on their own, driving the piece forward, culminating in a chorus filled with both guitar and vocal hooks.

With ‘Labyrinth’ and all our new music really, we dealt with questions of identity. When things change and life becomes stale, or worse, unbearable, we think of who we are, how we got here, the path behind us, and the path still unfolding in front of us. We wanted to talk about that, and not as a guide, but as people still lost on their journey.

Kevin Beljan (drummer) to Bring the Noise

For now, the band hasn’t said if a new full-length is in the works, but in the meantime, enjoy the new single and the group’s past tunes below. Also, make sure to keep up with them on their site.

Makari uses Skinny Top Heavy Bottom and Regular Slinky electric guitar strings, Earthwood Medium Light 80/20 Bronze acoustic strings, and Power Slinky bass strings.

Gustavo Assis-Brasil

Currently from Boston, MA, originally hailing from Brazil, with so many chops and diverse skills, Gustavo Assis-Brasil is a dynamo with the fretboard. Current Director of the Jazz and Contemporary Music Ensembles, Taught at Berklee College of Music (Guitar Sessions), and Clinics at Musicians Institute of Los Angeles to name a few. Gustavo is more than just an academic with a passion for guitar but has performed/recorded with Mozik, Esperanza Spaulding, Tim Ries (Rolling Stones, Paul Simon Stevie Wonder) among many others. In 2005 Gustavo released the book “Hybrid Picking for Guitar”, the book received high praise worldwide among the guitar community, the book is currently in its 3rd edition with the follow up focusing on Single Note Permutations, which featured over 1,400 different exercises based entirely on math permutations.

Gustavo was invited to write and arrange Steely Dan’s Aja by ESC Records in Germany and later invited to join a tribute to John Mclaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra titled Mahavishnu Re-Defined. Gustavo’s latest release made the Grammy ballot titled “Chromatic Dialogue” and you can check out the promo video for the record above. 

Make sure to keep up with Gustavo on his official website here and listen to his latest tracks below.

Gustavo Assis-Brasil mesmerizes all over the fretboard with Ernie Ball Paradigm Super Slinky, Skinny Top Heavy Bottom, and Hybrid Slinky electric guitar strings. 

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