Sandoval/Araiza: Project Playlist

If I were to have to give a quote about the music Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza make, it would be this: “This is music as it should be, no preconceived formula here. These guys write and play what they “feel” and that, my friends, is the true spirit of music.”

I’ve known these two guys for a while now and it had been my great fortune to have been at the birth of most of their work. Of The Earth, Frank Hannon Band and now as Jeff and Mike.

That being said, let’s talk about their latest effort  Project Playlist. I cannot tell you how many times I received a text or an excited phone call from Mike telling me to “check out this riff” or “what do you think about this?” there was passion in those messages and that fervor and passion found its way to the record untarnished. Jeff, on the other hand, is like a Zen Master, calm, cool, and collected. His lyrics and powerful yet smooth vocals carry weight and presence that in my opinion border on legendary. Let’s get into the tracks and stroll around a bit.

Project Playlist opens with “The Good Fight” (which happens to be my go to track on this record). Have you ever heard a song that just stays with you? I mean one that you find yourself hitting repeat over and over again? One that you manage to find something new with each listen? You find yourself absent-mindedly humming or tapping the beat throughout the day? “The Good Fight” just happens to be a song like that. Even cooler is that a couple of my close friends wrote it. I tried to put that aside and came to the conclusion that the fact that they were my friends was irrelevant, this is a damn good song, period. As I continued to listen to “The Good Fight” I compared it side by side with other songs and artists I consider in the same vein. This comparison led me to the conclusion that this track by a couple of guys that live in my town and I know personally can go toe to toe with artists like SIXX A.M., Pop Evil, STP, etc., etc. This track features studio wizard Chris Collier on drums and bass as well as production.

“So Long”, featuring Will Hunt on Drums, has a fresh , yet  familiar feeling and yet stays unique. Powerful and yet not abrasive in away this is a song that one could use to set the pace of their impending day. Feeling good and energetic is what this track brings to me.

“It’s All I need” features Kurt Arft on bass and Chris Collier on drums and really packs a punch. Deep lyrics and Jeff’s powerful vocals give this song some weight. This is a heavy song but not overbearing if you get my meaning. Their craftsmanship shines through here.

“Beggars And Thieves” features Kurt Arft again on bass and Will Hunt on drums. This track is probably the “grooviest” one on the record and will have your head bobbing and foot tapping as soon as you start listening to it. There’s a couple of twin guitar parts that Mike just kills with.

Project Playlist closes out with “No Answer” which features Frank Hannon has that 70’s vibe that just goes so well with this song. I love the guitar wok in this track. Nice way to close out the record with some quality music and friends.

What do we ultimately get with Project Playlist? A Rock and Roll record that stands up in this turbulent time in the music industry. Jeff and Mike said “Damn the norm, we’re gonna make the music that we feel inside” and it works, on so many levels. Music at its purest level is what we have here folks.

I must also give shout outs to Kurt Arft, Will Hunt, and Frank Hannon for stepping up and going toe to toe with Jeff and Mike. Their performances are outstanding on this record. I didn’t forget Chris Collier, not only did he deliver some killer bass and drums, like a mad scientist he grafted it all together to deliver a superior recording. I think that in today’s DIY music industry production quality has suffered at the hands of inexperience in record production. Jeff and Mike know the value of a properly produced record and have developed a relationship with Chris that works.

So, after all of that why should you get a copy of Project Playlist? I could say because they are my friends and it would be cool to help them out, but I’m not. You should get this record because it’s great music, that’s it in a nutshell.

Now, you only have until Friday 08/12/16 to get your order in at  after that you will only be able to pick it up at live performances. Good news is new music is already being made so stay tuned.

Thanks Jeff and Mike for keeping music alive. – the Hellion

the Hellion Rocks talks to Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza about their new release Project Playlist

If any of you are like me, you constantly crave new music. Not just new music but quality music. Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza deliver, in spades, with Project Playlist. Jeff and Mike have taken many musical journeys together and have included me along the way. Check out this heartfelt discussion we had about how they got to where they are today. When you’re done watching I HIGHLY recommend you click on the picture below and order Project Playlist . There will be a detailed song by song review up this Saturday so stay tuned. Project Playlist is currently the front-runner for CD of the year on the Hellion Rocks and that’s no joke.  Order yours today!!!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK AND ROLL!!!

-the Hellion


CD Cover


Guitarist Mike Araiza and why you should be listening to him

photo credit: Jeff Serpa

photo credit: Jeff Serpa


Guitar face, we have all seen it and loved it, but do we really understand it. I have seen that face on Mike Araiza many times. Mike and I have discussed it at great length on many occasions. This is my take on it and why it pertains to Mike.

The first time I saw Mike perform live was at a small bar with an even smaller stage. My wife and I were told about this great cover band called Surface that people were raving about. Mike happened to be one of the guitarist in the band. I was drawn to his playing style like a moth to a flame. Here was this bespectacled bald guy and he was playing like he was performing at the LA Forum, or Madison Square Garden. The raw emotion and soul went from Mike to his guitar, out of his amps and into my musical soul. I was FEELING every note that he was bleeding out. If he could impart that much into the songs of others I could only imagine what his original music would sound like.

I got the chance when Mike along with his musical partner Jeff Sandoval released the powerful Of The Earth EP. Mike continued to bring music that was jam packed with feeling and emotion and yet remained simple and enjoyable. This continued with the subsequent Frank Hannon Six String Soldiers release and the current Jeff Sandoval Mike Araiza Project tracks.

I grew up listening to the now iconic guitar players like EVH, Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix….the list goes on and on, and they all had great guitar faces. I am proud to list Mike Araiza among those icons, and even prouder to call him brother.

Mike has a rougher time now days with the music industry being a shambles as it is. It is harder for a quality player like him to be heard on a wide scale. Trust me though, you should be listening to him and his music. It takes me back to those simpler times when you picked up your friends, cranked up the radio, and drove around getting lost in the music and good times. It’s all there again in the music Mike makes.

Do yourself a favor and listen to his music and share it with a friend, they will love you for it.

     Check out the guitar face on Mike right here:


     Thank you for the music Mike, love ya my brother!

     It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Mike “Guitar Face” Araiza!!!

     -the Hellion



“It’s All I Need” – Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza



Ok, so I have had this track for a few days now and can’t get enough of it. Jeff and Mike will be releasing the lyric video to the world tonight 01/31/14 at 6pm mst right here: Jeff Sandoval & Mike Araiza on their Facebook page.

Let’s talk a bit about the track and the video. While it is an acoustic track it does not come off that way at all, in fact, it’s pretty damn heavy. Let’s talk about the bass first. Kurt Arft lays down a heavy, dirty bassline that, by itself, does not seem like it belongs in this song but it fits like a puzzle piece into it. Kurt gives it that groove that this song so rightly deserves. Chris Collier, who not played drums on this but produced it as well, put all of those puzzle pieces together into one solid track.

What can I say about Mike Araiza? The guitars on here are clean, and I mean CLEAN. Mike is so full of melody and it truly shows in his playing and style. I keep forgetting that this is an acoustic track.

Ahhh the vocal stylings of Jeff Sandoval. There are not to many vocalists out there that can still give me the chills, Jeff is one of them.  You feel ALL of the emotion that Jeff is imparting into his vocals.

The video for “It’s All I Need” is an incredible piece of work as well. While it is a “lyric”video it leaves you with the images playing over and over in your head. You will find these images replaying in your mind every time you listen to this song.

Don’t miss out on the premier on 01/31/14 at 6pm mst right here: Jeff Sandoval & Mike Araiza on their Facebook page!

A conversation with guitarist Mike Araiza


I have known Mike Araiza for several years now. In fact I remember sitting in the parking lot of the Owl Cafe with him and Jeff Sandoval listening to the freshly minted tracks from the Of The Earth project they had just completed.



They moved on in their journey and the next step was an album of songs they had written that turned out to be the frank Hannon Band ‘Six String Soldiers. Which featured appearances by legendary guitarists Dickey Betts, Dave Meniketti, Rick Derringer, and Pat Travers.




Now, I am excited to say, Mike and Jeff are taking the next step in their musical evolution. They are going to be releasing a series of new tracks as single releases over the next year. The first of which is tentatively called “All I Need” or “It’s All I Need”. This first track features mutual friend Kurt Arft on bass guitar and Chris Collier pulling double duties on drums and production duties.


bassist Kurt Arft

bassist Kurt Arft

drummer and producer Chris Collier

drummer and producer Chris Collier


Mike and I had a nice conversation about all of these events and would love to invite you to listen to it right here:


Make sure you got to Mike and Jeff’s Facebook page and give them a like and show your support:!!!


it’s loud, it’s tonerific, it’s Jeff and Mike!

the Hellion





The Musical Magic of Mike Araiza and Jeffery Sandoval: “It’s All I Need” coming soon!


I have had the great pleasure of becoming friends with Jeff and Mike over the years. I have shared in the joy of their successes in the music industry. They released one of my favorite CD’s to date, Of The Earth, and collaborated with Frank Hannon  (Tesla) on “SIX-STRING SOLDIERS”.


Now they are releasing a new single “It’s All I Need” in 2014.


Mike and Jeff have some pretty heavy hitters add their touch to this project as well. They have recruited bassist Kurt Arft (Die Hard Til Death, Mind Merchant) to law down the bottom end, Kurt is an amazing player and an awesome person to boot. Studio wizard Chris Collier (Music Producer, Pro Tools Engineer, Mixer, Session Drummer) will be producing and drumming on the track. With all of these factors in the equation it adds up to one hell of a project. Stay tuned to Jeff and Mike’s Facebook page: and the Hellion Rocks for updates.


it’s melodic, it’s beautiful, it’s Mike Araiza and Jeffery Sandoval

the Hellion

An interview with John Corabi





John Corabi has been one of my favorite vocalists for quite a while now. I got to have a candid conversation with him about his career past and present. Sit back and enjoy this lengthy interview:

     Here is a cool video of John performing “Seasons Of Wither” with Frank Hannon. We discussed his love of this song in the interview:


     thanks Jen Kowalski from Rat Pak Records!

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!

    -the Hellion



I was “Teslafied” on 03/25/1987 in Albuquerque, NM. My friend Steve and I had bought tickets for the Alice Cooper “Raise Your Fist And Yell” tour. At that point we had never heard of Tesla. When Tesla took the stage and vocalist Jeff Keith announced that we were about to be “Teslafied” we looked at each other in amusement, for about 30 seconds. This band ROCKED! I became an instant fan and have been ever since. I eagerly purchased each new release and caught them several times when they rolled through my town. Years later a very good friend of mine, Mike Araiza, won a chance to play a song on stage with Tesla. That one song turned into several and a long-lasting friendship with the band. A couple of years later that relationship led to a collaboration with Mike’s musical partner, vocalist Jeff Sandoval, and Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon.


04/20/2013 – My wife and I purchased VIP seats to once again see one of our favorite bands. It was a mellow evening as we waited for the show, there was no opener so the stage was set for just Tesla.


After a brief intro the band came on strong with “I Wanna Live” and took hold of the sold out crowd and never let go. Despite a few technical glitches the show went off amazingly. Jeff Keith’s vocals were spot on and powerful as ever. Smiling, and at ease, the perfect host for an evening of Rock N’ Roll. Jeff has a personality that makes you feel like you’re at a backyard party watching your friends band.


 The rhythm section of Troy Luccketta and Brian Wheat anchored the band solidly. Brian is a joy to watch as a bass player. He doesn’t stand in one spot, as some other do, he plays to the crowd from all over the stage. His playing style is solid and rock steady providing the beautiful low-end to the Tesla songs we all know and love. Troy provides the beat with a no B.S. approach. Perfect timing and giving the band the foundation to rock your ass off.


     Which leaves me with the Dynamic Duo of guitars, Frank Hannon and Dave Rude. These guys are here to amaze. From heartfelt acoustic, to in your face shred these two have got you covered. Frank and Dave compliment each other so well. The classic Tesla song were played live as if they were in super HD, brilliant, and flawless. Flying across the stage, engaging the crowd, drawing you in to the show. This guitar tag team remains one of my favorites. They have gotten the Rock N’ Roll equation right.


      During the show we noticed that Mike Araiza and Jeff Sandoval (previously mentioned as members of the Frank Hannon band, and close personal friends) had arrived and were enjoying the show as well. We all said hello and hugs were given all around and went back to watching the show.

Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza from the Frank Hannon Band.

Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza from the Frank Hannon Band.

     The evening’s  set list consisted of songs from the vast library of Tesla greats. Tesla gave the crowd their money’s worth and then some. Including: “I Wanna Live”, “Hang Tough”, “Breakin’ Free”, “Heaven’s Trail”, “Mama’s Fool”, “Getting Better”, “The Way It Is”, “Signs”, “What You Give”, “Love Song”, “Edison’s Medicine”, “”Lazy Days”, “Modern Day Cowboy”, and “Little Suzi” as their encore.   When their set was finished the band took pictures of the crowd and thanked and shook hands with as many as they could from the stage. 


     The show was over but the evening had just begun to get interesting. We hung around and caught up with Jeff  and Sharon Sandoval and Mike and Marta Araiza. During our catching up a magic “King” and  “Queen” (they’ll know who they are when they read this) managed to slip us a couple of guest passes to meet the band. All of these years of listening to Tesla and now we were getting the chance to meet them.


     We got meet and talk with Frank Hannon, Troy Luccketta, Brian Wheat, and Dave Rude (Jeff Keith had already retired to the tour bus). We hung around for about an hour and half just talking about projects, music etc. Jeff Sandoval was in full on pimp mode telling the band members about this blog site. He sure made me feel good about what I am doing here on this blog. The guys took a definite interest in it and we shared information for future writings and interviews. Thank you Jeff, Mike, and Marta for the chance to meet this great bunch of guys.

Mike Araiza, Frank Hannon, the Hellion, Mrs. Hellion, and Jeff Sandoval

Mike Araiza, Frank Hannon, the Hellion, Mrs. Hellion, and Jeff Sandoval

Dave Rude and the Hellion

Dave Rude and the Hellion

Troy Luccketta and the Hellion

Troy Luccketta and the Hellion

Brian Wheat and the Hellion

Brian Wheat and the Hellion

     A very special thanks to Jeff, Frank, Brian, Troy, and Dave from Tesla, you guys continue to amaze.

     A super special thank you to Frank Hannon for making the evening EXTRA special!

     “Lazy Days and Crazy Nights” for sure!

     It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!

     the Hellion



gypsyhawkCD COVER

1. Overloaded
2. The Fields
3. Hedgeking
4. Frostwyrm
5. Galaxy Rise
6. 1345
7. Night Songs from the Desert
8. The Red Wedding
9. Silver Queen
10. State Lines
11. Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo


I had the great fortune of getting to know guitarist Erik while he was on tour helping my good friends in Scattered Hamlet. I was excited for this release and was not disappointed when it dropped. You need to check this one out!



1. Psycho, California (Explicit)
2. What You Do To Me (alt)
3. What You Do To Me
4. Trigger
5. All These Years
6. Wicked Lines
7. Bury You
8. Bury You (alt)
9. Taken
10. Wonderwall
11. Set It Off (Explicit)


     Alex Grossi gave me a great interview and Hotel Diablo delivered a fantastic release! Awesome CD guys thanks!



1. Deep Creek
2. When The Sky Falls
3. Suicide Woods
4. The Weak and Wounded (Prelude to Flames)
5. After The Great Fire
6. Bloodguilt
7. The Art Of Mourning
8. I Am Wendigod
9. Axe Murder Hollow
10. Ruby Ridge (Every Knee Shall Bow)
11. Judas Cradle


A great bunch of guys and a kick ass band. I have gotten to know guitarist Craw, and interviewed  him and singer Connor. Can’t wait to hear more from these guys!



1. I’m Alive (feat. Pat Travers)
2. Set Me Free
3. Six String Soldiers
4. Lipstick, Smoke and Gasoline (feat. Dave Meniketti)
5. Invincible
6. Cross Your Mind
7. Touch The Ground (feat. Dickey Betts)
8. I’m Just Sayin’
9. Love, Life and Beauty
10. To The Light (feat. Rick Derringer)
11. Redemption
12. 12.21


I happen to be good friends with guitarist Mike Araiza and vocalist Jeff Sandoval so this release has special meaning to me. I am so happy that their dream is coming true for them, and I wish them continued success.


ADLER - Back From The Dead

1. Back From The Dead
2. Own Worst Enemy
3. Another Version Of The Truth
4. The One That You Hated
5. Good To Be Bad (feat. John 5)
6. Just Don’t Ask (feat. Slash)
7. Blown Away
8. Waterfall
9. Habit
10. Your Diamonds
11. Dead Wrong


I am glad to see Mr. Adler back in good form. Solid band, solid songs, solid CD!



1. Hollywood Forever
2. You Better Not Love Me
3. Eel Pie
4. Sweet Mystery
5. Burn
6. Vine Street Shimmy
7. Dirty Black Night
8. Underneath The Sun
9. Queenie
10. Crazy Tango
11. Venus Bomb
12. I Won’t Play
13. Requiem (Hollywood Forever)
14. Araña Negra


L. A. Guns has been one of my favorite bands for many many years. Even though there has been lineup changes and controversy this lineup carries on the sleaze.



1. Red Ferrari
2. Something’s Gotta Give
3. Red Leather
4. Save Me From LA
5. Stir Crazy
6. Mama Said


My good friends from Australia, Sunset Riot. I am lucky to have become a member of the Sunset Riot family. These guys know feel good Rock N’ Roll and continue to delight fans around the world! So Check them out!



1. Top Notch Lady
2. Capone (Explicit)
3. 1-2-3
4. Amends
5. Façade


Great new band with a great sound!



1. Witch Of Endor
2. Fear No Evil
3. The Last Legion Of Sorrow
4. Say Goodbye To The Sun
5. The Witching Hour
6. Black Magic
7. Trisect
8. Beyond The Door
9. Souls On Fire
10. Don’t Breathe A Word


Mysterious band with a dark gloomy sound. This CD grabs hold and never lets go.



1. Levitation
2. Witchtripper
3. Open Coffins (Explicit)
4. The Curse
5. This Work Is Timeless
6. Misfortune Teller


It’s Down is any other explanation needed?




1. It Only Hurts


Scattered Hamlet of all the bands listed are more than family to me. I have been friends with them for a while now. I actually head up their fan-base “The Hellriders”. They released a single this year and have a full release Skeleton Dixie coming in 2013. DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS BAND!

A great 2012 for music!

the Hellion