Thursday, December 31 2015 17:12

2015 Rock Father Greatest Hits: It's All Downhill From Here...

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As we sit here on the edge of one year, and on the cusp of another, it's come time to reflect on all that 2015 has brought us, and everything that 2016 may have in-store. Our social feeds are filled with tales of triumph and sorrow, as our friends and colleagues both celebrate their victories, and mourn their losses. It's always this time of year, among the melancholy post-Christmas days when the "holiday high" wears off, that everyone either can't turn the calendar quick enough, or they wish to bask in a year of successes that they hope will never end. For our family, this was a great year - and professionally, it was likely my best year, maybe not from a financial standpoint, but one of adventure and accomplishment in all of the areas in which I'm hoping to achieve. Time for a little horn-tooting, because it's all downhill from here...

THE ROCK FATHER's 2015 Greatest Hits

I started off January with a bump in the road - a surgery that threw me off my fitness routine and caused me to gain back much of the weight I'd lost in 2014. Still struggling to get back into that same 4-day-a-week workout routine, but I'm working on it.

February brought a return to Los Angeles with the Disney press group to cover McFARLAND, USA (The Walt Disney Studios), FRESH OFF THE BOAT (ABC), BIG HERO 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios) BAD HAIR DAY (Disney Channel) and TINKERBELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST (DisneyToon Studios). Going behind-the-scenes and interviewing the key talent from those projects was fantastic, and while in Los Angeles, my friend Rob and I checked out Valora at House of Blues - a band I'd wanted to see, in a legendary venue set to close. Back in Chicago, I hit the Chicago Auto Show and checked out a Chicago Bulls Game with the crew from Kia Motors America, and then ended up quoted in Businesswire.

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

March brought the good fortune to head back to L.A. where I worked with Larry King, learned that Craig's is my new favorite restaurant, and reconvened with the band I manage - PRODUCT OF HATE - who were on tour with Allegaeon and playing in Glendale.  By April, the tour was back in Illinois, and by May I was catching my favorite band of all-time, FAITH NO MORE, here in Chicago - the first of two times I'd see them this year.

By Summer, I was at Michigan International Speedway as part of my partnership with The J.M. Smucker Company to kick-off some Hungry Jack NASCAR goodness with A.J. Allmendinger & JTG Daugherty Racing.  

Rain delay at the #QL400 today. #HungryJack #Racing #nascar #olloclip

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

The folks from Hasbro invited us to celebrate TRANSFORMERS at BotCon,  then it was out to Cleveland as part of my gig as a Brand Ambassador for The Step2 Company. We went over some new products, played with a lot of toys, and caught a Cleveland Indians game before I headed back to Illinois for four hours, then boarded another plane to Los Angeles to work with Disney again. I visited the sets of GAMER'S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING (Disney XD) and LIV & MADDIE & BUNK'D (Disney Channel), watched Disney's DESCENDANTS with director Kenny Ortega, found myself featured in an interview in Clever Girls Collective's blog, did late-night karaoke in North Hollywood, then interviewed Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll and the key creatives behind MARVEL's ANT-MAN. This would culminate with a discussion with the #Antourage, which aside from Michael Pena and David Dastmalchian (with whom I share a Wendy's past), ended in a hug from rapper T.I.

We hit the road for our second annual Great American Road Trip, heading Northwest to MALL OF AMERICA, posting countless updates along the way. The kids had a fantastic time at Nickelodeon Universe, and Finley got her first American Girl Bitty Baby. Back in Illinois, we did our long overdue first Chicago White Sox game, then I drove a Lexus GS350 F-Sport to Grand Rapids, Michigan where I would test-drive the pre-production model Scion iM and iA. There was the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con (Addie drove K.I.T.T. from KNIGHT RIDER) and Lake Count-I-Con. Then there were countless visits to Six Flags Great America, and eventually a sneak-preview of what's coming soon - the JUSTICE LEAGUE BATTLE FOR METROPOLIS 4D!

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

I made a rare appearance in the photo pit (something I haven't done in ages) for Riot Fest Chicago - shooting photos of ANTHRAX, BOOTSY COLLINS, MERLE HAGGARD, RANCID and FAITH NO MORE to kick-off the Fall.

@merlehaggardofficial at @riot_fest last night. #MerleHaggard #RiotFest #country #countrymusic #outlaw #outlawcountry

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

My wife and I caught The Brian Setzer Orchestra live on their Christmas Tour - we had our annual visit to the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, and we partnered with Chevrolet to spread holiday cheer.

We started the #RockFatherRemodel (in-progress) here at Rock Father HQ, partnered with Step2 and Mattel to create a two-of-a-kind "Rock Daughter Edition" Hot Wheels Bed, and then, after all of this - plus testing many cars, toys, and having a bunch of other adventures... I was invited to the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Having already worked with Hasbro in promotion of #ForceFriday, and then having appeared in a Target Commercial for their #ShareTheForce Campaign, it was the ultimate cherry on top of the year.

#StarWarsEvent - I just met R2-D2 and C-3PO. Threepio loves my shoes. #StarWars #TheForceAwakens

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

"Aside from the birth of our daughters, and possibly our wedding, the experience of being part of the first-ever Disney STAR WARS launch is something that will probably never be topped," so said my wife when explaining my final Los Angeles trip of the year - one in which had me meeting and interviewing the cast and crew of the new STAR WARS film... the continuation of my favorite Saga. She's probably right. I even made my first (albeit brief) visit to Disneyland.

Exclusive Coverage of the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Launch:

While in Los Angeles, I live-tweeted the premiere of THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT with Carter Oosterhouse and Amy Smart, met the filmmakers of ZOOTOPIA, had brunch with Chris Harrison of THE BACHELOR, met with Timothy Omundson and the creatives behind GALAVANT, and visited the set of MARVEL's AGENT CARTER - and that coverage will still be hitting the site between now and February.

Thing is, the rambling list of adventures that I've already typed-up aren't even close to all of it. There's so many great things that have happened, so many important moments with the family - looking back through my Instagram feed (my best way to personally keep track of where we've been), it's exhausting.

I missed the #SidewalkFashionShow post this morning, so this is it. #TheRockDaughters #ootd #parenting

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

As we end 2015, I feel certain that while this year was by far the best in my professional life, it's not all downhill from here... instead, I've simply reached a plateau, and now I'm looking upward at a never-ending mountain that continues to challenge me with its climb. A HUGE thank you to my wife and daughters, my family, my friends, to everyone that reads this website, to those who support my creative endeavors, to all the new friends and colleagues that I've met along the way, and to anyone who simply believes in what I'm doing.

So what does 2016 have in store? Back to Los Angeles in January for a secret project (Shhhhhh!); PRODUCT OF HATE's debut album, BURIED IN VIOLENCE is out on February 5 via Napalm Records (Distributed by Warner Bros - U.S./Universal Music - Europe); Chicago Auto Show 2016 in February; and I'm back behind the camera and in the Director's Chair in January!

(That's my horn)
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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