With Zakk Wylde
OZZY OSBOURNE is a multi-platinum recording artist, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a three-time Grammy® winning singer and songwriter, who has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide. OSBOURNE’s career has spanned more than four decades (as both a successful solo artist and as the lead singer of Black Sabbath) and his music is as relevant today as ever, still being heard daily on TV, in movies, on radio and at stadium sports events. In 2011 OZZY reunited with Black Sabbath and in June 2013, after more than three decades of waiting, the band released their critically acclaimed 13 album (Vertigo/Republic), which entered the charts at #1 in 13 countries. Produced by seven-time Grammy-Award winning producer Rick Rubin, 13 features the original BLACK SABBATH: OZZY OSBOURNE, TONY IOMMI and GEEZER BUTLER. In 2014 the group won a Grammy® Award in the Best Metal Performance category for the album’s first single “God Is Dead?” In May 2014 OSBOURNE was honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund at the 10th anniversary MusiCares MAP Fund® benefit concert. Later that year (November), OZZY was presented with the “Global Icon” award at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow. This year also marks 20 years since OSBOURNE created his name-sake hard-rock/metal touring festival, OZZFEST, which has had a hugely successful run across North America, Europe and Japan and will return to the U.S. this September. OZZY is currently on tour in Europe with Black Sabbath on their massive 2016 The End world tour, which will return to North America in August.
When talking about Avenged Sevenfold, the media always mentions the impressive stats, which include a string of best-selling albums, among them two consecutive No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart along with Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards for album sales in nearly a dozen countries and a series of No. 1 radio singles. But Avenged Sevenfold is a group whose career can’t be summed up by simple number-crunching. More than fifteen years after the release of their debut album, Avenged Sevenfold has become a band whose sound and vision has broken through obstacles of language, distance and culture. UK newspaper The Guardian recently described the group as the one metal band of their generation with genuine stadium-filling ability on both sides of the Atlantic. They’ve definitely proved themselves to be a monolithic concert draw, routinely selling out arenas worldwide, including the UK’s legendary Wembley Arena, and headlining some of the biggest and most prestigious music festivals around the globe including Download (UK), Soundwave (Australia), Summer Sonic (Japan), Graspop (Belgium) and Rock On The Range (USA).
Their newest album is THE STAGE, which Guitar World called “the most surprising and ambitious album of their career.” Clocking in at 73 electrifying minutes, THE STAGE hit No. 1 onBillboard’s Alternative, Rock and Hard Rock Album Charts and No. 1 on iTunes in 13 countries. Co-produced by the band and Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool), the critically acclaimed album is a work of immense scope and ambition, featuring 11 panoramic tracks tied together by an Artificial Intelligence theme. Inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk, the album is the band’s first thematic release.While the term “AI” conjures up images of robots and fantasy films, the band steers clear of a science fiction storyline. Instead, THE STAGE sees them taking a futurist’s look at the accelerated rate at which technology’s intelligence is expanding and what that means—good and bad—for the days ahead. Rolling Stone called it “the most aggressively bonkers music of the quintet’s career” and NME hailed the album as “their best yet.” The record’s epic 15-minute-plus closing track, “Exist,” features a guest appearance by award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson giving a spoken word performance he penned specifically for the album. All of which explains why The Guardian listened to the album and wrote, “the only reasonable response is to stand and applaud.”
Queens Of The Stone Age
The heart of Boston beats within its streets. Those roads set the scene for timeless Academy Award-winning stories including The Departed, The Town and The Fighter as well as for triumphant, tear-filled championship victories by The Red Sox, The Bruins, and The Celtics. Grammy Award-nominated multi-platinum hard rock titans Godsmack preserve their connection to the streets of Boston on their sixth full-length album for Republic Records,1000hp.
Outlasting tides, trends, and a torrential industry climate since forming in 1995, the quartet—Sully Erna [vocals, guitar], Tony Rombola [guitar], Robbie Merrill [bass], and Shannon Larkin [drums]—paved the way for a generation of rock bands. Their last album, 2010’s The Oracle, rounded out a streak of three consecutive #1 debuts on
the Billboard Top 200, an accomplishment only shared by Van Halen, U2, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, and Linkin Park. Now, these four musicians leap forward without forgetting where they came from.
“On this record, we wanted to return to the roots of Boston and the streets of our hometown,” affirms Sully. “It was about going back to basics. You get a certain feeling seeing the city’s skyline or walking through Southie. I thought it was time to take it back to where we began. That’s the theme of this album.”
Robbie exclaims, “It reminded me of our first two records because we wrote, rehearsed, and recorded at home. It was like going back to those days. It was so cold last winter that we had nothing else to do but stay in and write music. It felt great.”
“People in Boston have thick skin,” Shannon grins. “It’s not just the weather. They’re tough motherfuckers up there!”
In order to conjure that East Coast vibe, the boys built a new Godsmack Headquarters just thirty minutes north of town. They converted an old warehouse into a fully loaded recording studio complete with a control room and live stage room to record. Commencing the writing process individually, Tony, Shannon and Robbie composed demos down in Florida, while Sully wrote in Southern New Hampshire throughout 2013. Everybody regrouped at the new HQ in January 2014 though. With a wealth of ideas, the musicians found a fresh and fiery spark of inspiration.
“We all had our own batches of songs,” remembers Tony. “It shaped into a complete vision pretty quickly. We got right back into the groove.”
“The first half of this record is a new sound,” the singer elaborates. “It’s still Godsmack. It’s tough. It’s powerful, but it’s a little different than what we’ve done in the past because there’s a punk-y influence. It’s very current and vibrant. The second half is more traditional, and it’s meant for our hardcore fans. It’s a hybrid. We wanted to broaden our horizons and open up what this band can be.”
Given the success of 2010’s gold-selling and chart-topping The Oracle, Sully once again teamed up with Dave Fortman [Slipknot, Evanescence] to co-produce. Together, they capture a booming intensity and raw energy that’s equally anthemic and arena-ready.
“Dave gets truly great sounds,” Tony goes on. “We all trust him. He’s just an awesome guy to work with. He’s like having a fifth member because he can play guitar and drums too.”
“To work with him as a producer is always a pleasure”,says Shannon. He’s an amazing person. If he wasn’t a famous producer, he could be a comedian. He’s the guy that keeps us all laughing and comfortable in the studio.”
The first single and title track charges through the gates at full speed. Derived from a thrash-y riff and a walloping chorus, “1000hp” announces Godsmack’s return with a bang.
“I literally wrote that in one hour,” smiles Sully. “All of a sudden, it just came together. The lyrical content covers the history of Godsmack. It goes back to 1995 when we were nothing. We were playing in the empty clubs, and no one gave a shit. Once we took the stage, our whole life changed. It’s our history. It’s very alive.”
Shannon continues, “It’s a fresh new sound. The energy is almost punk rock, and I love that.”
At the same time, the aptly titled “Something Different” veers down a new path for Godsmack. It boasts another monstrous hook, but musically surprises at each turn. Sully admits, “We’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a real powerhouse, but it’s not metal or punk. It’s driving rock. It’s going to hit hard.”
Robbie explains, “It’s simple, strong, and impactful. It reminds me of classic rock, but Sully’s vocals and our styles make it Godsmack. I love playing that one for people. They smile out loud!”
Still, the band also seamlessly venture into psychedelic territory in the tradition of early epics such as “Voodoo” and “Spiral”. This time around, “Turning To Stone” freezes attention with its expansive melodies, lush instrumentation, and hauntingly hypnotic words. “It’s seductive and tribal,” the frontman adds. “That’s a big element of this band. It has been since day one.”
Tony agrees, “Shannon and I had put it together, and Sully dug it. It’s a new avenue for us. It’s heavy and tribal, but there’s some melody. It’s all about creating something that’s different but still sounds like Godsmack.”
An unbreakable spirit and diehard work ethic evocative of their hometown has also remained fuel for Godsmack. They fought hard to secure a place in music history since first smashing their way on to the scene in 1995. To date, they’ve notched a staggering six number one singles at mainstream rock radio, including “I Awake”, “Straight Out of Line”, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch”, and “I Stand Alone”. Moreover, they’ve enjoyed 20 Top 10 hits at the format—the most of any act since February 1999. Selling over 20 million records worldwide, Billboard named them “Rock Band of the Year” in 2001.In addition to selling out arenas around the globe, they’ve headlined all of rock’s premier festivals from Mayhem and UPROAR to Rock on the Range and more.
However, 1000hp sees Godsmack set to cruise even further. “I hope people think this album fucking rocks,” proclaims Shannon. “We wanted to make a high energy record. The coolest feeling I’ve had in this band is making 1000hp.”
Tony says, “We’re growing as a band, and we’re still getting better beyond holding our own. We’ve been doing this a long time, but every day we still work at improving and writing songs. We want to keep it going.”
“It’s solid,” adds Robbie. “It’s got integrity. In some places, we took a left turn, but this is who we are.”
“I want fans to enjoy it like they enjoyed the first couple of records,” concludes Sully. “I think this album will make them feel more at home like the first album did. It has that vibe. There are some new sounds and interesting things for sure to show our creative side. It’s old school Godsmack with a new kind of twist to it. Hopefully, they’ll feel like this band has never let them down and we’re here to stay.”
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
Stone Temple Pilots
With “INTO THE WILD LIFE” Halestorm reach deep within and conjure their most engaging and eclectic songs to date. On “INTO THE WILD LIFE” they push their musical boundaries further than we’ve seen thus far in their catalog, crafting songs that rise from a whisper to a scream and back again, proving that there’s no limit to creativity. And nothing will stop them from realizing their artistic vision.
On “Sick Individual,” which opens with a drum solo and blends into a dramatic rock anthem, Hale sings, “I’m doing this thing called ‘whatever the f— I want, want, want.’” The attitude- laden lyric encapsulates the vibe and versatility of the record. Shards of metal, passages of pop and reams of rock – both classic and contemporary — abound throughout “INTO THE WILD LIFE,” the exuberance of which is only matched by the band’s passion and confidence.
“On the last record, we hit all these crazy milestones,” Hale says. “All of a sudden the world was aware of us so we celebrated unabashedly.” Indeed, “Freak Like Me” and “Love Bites (So Do I)” both reached #1 on Active Rock charts, making Halestorm the first ever female-fronted band to top the format’s airplay ranking. In addition, the band won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for “Love Bites (So Do I).” The accomplishments didn’t stop there. Hale collaborated with “America’s Got Talent” star Lindsey Stirling on the EDM song “Shatter Me” and performed with country maverick Eric Church at the CMT Awards, demonstrating her versatile vocals mix with any genre. On top of that, Hale was honored by Gibson Guitars, which celebrated her accomplishments by creating a Lzzy Hale signature Explorer guitar.
“All of the attention was amazing and fueled our confidence,” Hale says. “So we decided to throw everything we were used to out the window and just go for it.”
Indulging every whim, Halestorm wrote songs that pulsate, pound and soar, as well as confessional, heartstring-tugging tunes and everything between. “Amen,” grooves to a chain- gang shuffle and sparse keyboards, featuring a verse reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and a chorus that has more in common with Joan Jett. Then there’s “Mayhem,” a confrontational blast of adrenaline that builds from echoey seduction to full-blown euphoria.
“To me, this album is about independence and the bravery it takes to step into the unknown,” Hale says. “It’s not like we strayed from what we are, it’s just a lot more of what we are.”
In addition to experimenting with previously unexplored styles, Halestorm took an equally bold approach to recording. Instead of tracking all the instruments separately and then tweaking them later, Halestorm recorded everything live in the studio with the help of producer Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, Eric Church).
“It was literally the four of us in a circle in this church playing everything the same way we do onstage,” Hale says. “We had to play everything over and over again until we were all riding the same wave. Without making a live record, we wanted to capture the kind of chemistry and energy we have in concert.”
After Halestorm recorded the songs, Hale went back and redid some of her vocals to maximize their emotional intensity. And Joyce applied the same rigorous standards to her final vocal takes as he did to the band’s initial recordings. “If I wanted to do something over again, I strapped on the guitar and sang all the vocals from start to finish,” Hale says. “In the beginning I said to Jay, ‘Hey, if I don’t quite hit that note we can just fix it, right?’ And he said, ‘No, that’s not what you guys said you wanted. You gotta do it all over again.’”
As frustrating as the process sometimes was, by the end of every final take Halestorm were ecstatic. “It really brought out the best in us because we had to trust ourselves and literally be ‘on,’” Hale says. “It was hard, but the results were so much more rewarding because we didn’t try to compromise, and I feel like the excitement of that shows through all over the record.”
Instead of recording in a major studio in Los Angeles or New York, Halestorm created “INTO THE WILD LIFE” in East Nashville, and when they weren’t at the studio they soaked in the musical culture of the legendary city. “I’m sure a Southern bug crawled into my ear just from hanging out there for a while,” Hale says. “There are a lot of great musicians there, for sure, as well as a lot of great classic rock. That was a big part of this album. While we were doing it, I was listening to a lot of the same stuff that first got me inspired. I went back and listened to a lot of Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper and some Zeppelin. Our attitude was, ‘Let’s immerse ourselves in the things that got us excited in the first place. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we said let’s be the wheel and be the best wheel we can be.’”
The first single from “INTO THE WILD LIFE” is “Apocalyptic,” a bluesy belter about a turbulent relationship and amazing chemistry between the sheets. While Halestorm alluded to sex and decadence in past songs like “I Get Off” and “Love Bites (So Do It),” on “Apocalyptic” and “Amen” Hale drops the metaphors and tells it like it is. “I wanted some songs were a little confrontational and sexual,” Hale says.
The more acoustic-based songs on “INTO THE WILD LIFE” are just as revealing as the rockers. In the confessional folk-pop number about love gone wrong, “What Sober Couldn’t Say,” Hale sings, “Heading for a blackout, hurting like hell/finding my way to the bottom of the bottle.” And on “Dear Daughter,” she starts with spare, delicate piano chords and builds into a poignant ballad filled with pearls of wisdom: “Dear daughter, hold your head up high/there’s a world outside that’s passing by.”
“The last album cycle we did was the first time my mother didn’t come with us; for a long time both of my parents were working for us,” Hale says. “As soon as your parents are gone, at first there’s a stage where you go, ‘Whew, nobody’s going to tell me what to do!’ And then you think, ‘You know what? If it wasn’t for my parents’ support we would have never started the band as early as we did. And we probably wouldn’t have gotten to this point.’”
With “INTO THE WILD LIFE,” Halestorm have developed as a band without compromising their identity. From the start, they’ve had the conviction and songwriting skill to appeal to fans of both Heart and Metallica. Now, they’ve stretched their musical boundaries even further to come up with an album that exhibits a sheer joy for whatever style of music they chose to embrace.
“Doing this album reminded us that being in a band is still magical. And four people that actually love each other and can rock out with each other can experience this refreshing kind of creative freedom,” Hale says. “At the end of the day, we can laugh and turn to each other and say, ‘Look, guys. We are still here! For whatever reason, we still dig each other and we still love making music together.’ And now we can go out there and do whatever the hell we want.”
Bullet For My Valentine
After the release of their album ‘Fever’, which debuted in the Top 5 album chart globally, BFMV continued their assault on the rock and metal markets, with an 18-month world tour that took in over 30 countries across 5 continents. Highlights in the UK included a landmark sold out show at the 10,000 capacity Wembley Arena. Further afield, the band toured in 2011 in Australia as part of Soundwave Festival tour, followed by two lengthy pan-US tours alongside Avenged Sevenfold, and broke new markets with their first trip across Latin America including a sold out 3,500 capacity show in Mexico City.
The band have since released their fourth studio album, ‘Temper Temper’ through Sony BMG. Throughout 2013 the band performed at numerous festivals (UK and EU) and headlined the Monster Outbreak Tour in the USA, followed by their ‘Rule Britannia’ UK arena tour.
The band has received constant support from press such as Metal Hammer, Kerrang!, Rock Sound, BBC Radio 1 as well as international press and radio.
Past achievements include albums ‘Fever’ and ‘Scream Aim Fire’ debuting Top 5 in the album charts globally and winning Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards for 3 years running; 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Black Veil Brides
When a band announces a hiatus, the news is generally met with a sigh from the fans and the sinking feeling that this is it; it’s all over. Perhaps the next time you see your favorite band will be years later during the now inevitable nostalgia tour cash-in. No new tunes, passion wrung dry. But back in 2012 when Thrice pressed pause on their collective career there was little doubt in singer Dustin Kensrue’s mind that this was the respite he needed personally, and that this would mean the band could eventually continue creatively. By this stage the quartet, who formed in Orange County, California back in 1998, were in a very different place to when they were kids in high school bonding over skateboarding and punk rock.
“My third daughter was on the way and I was really feeling like my family needed some time away from the kind of touring we were doing,” explains Dustin. “On top of that we had been touring, writing, recording; touring, writing, recording, non-stop, for 14 years or so, and I wanted a break from that and the space and time to pursue other things.”
So after eight albums including their emotionally resonate, pulverizing breakout third record, The Artist in the Ambulance, and the 2007/8’s ambitious duo of concept LPs, The Alchemy Index: Fire and Water and Earth and Air, Dustin called curtains, but no one in Thrice felt blindsided. It was during Major/Minor that the rst suggestion of a break began to lter through, then came a heartfelt letter from the singer explaining his reasoning, and in turn the guys adhered to their unspoken pact: if one of them wasn’t in, none of them were. There would not, and could not, be any replacements.
“Thrice is the four of us, and if we’re not all into it, there’s really no point in doing it,” explains drummer Riley Breckenridge. “Even so, when we stopped doing stuff, it was tough.” Apart from focusing on fatherhood, Dustin, who at this point was living up in the Pacific Northwest, released a couple more solo records, while the rest of the band engaged in a range of pursuits, musical and otherwise. Guitarist Teppei Teranishi (who’d also relocated near Dustin) launched a successful leather and canvas goods design company, not to mention continuing to be a father to his three boys. This year Riley also became a dad, but spent the time apart writing about sports and music as a freelancer, teching for Weezer and Jimmy Eat World, and in the most random of career segues, for a year he entered the corporate world and wore a three-piece suit as a sales rep for a high-end bespoke tailor—“I’m just not cut out for that world. It was a soul-sucking experience.” Meanwhile his brother, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, played with a few bands, and got back into furniture making, helping build the interior of Woodcat in LA’s Echo Park. (Which apparently boasts a revolving cast of touring musicians serving up your daily dose of caffeine).
It wasn’t till around Thanksgiving 2014 that Dustin red off a group text that would start to bring their lives back together. Sent after he and Teppei caught a particularly inspiring Brand New concert, the wheels were slowly set in motion. Due to their disparate living locales, the quartet began to share scraps of songs and ideas online, a process that’s commonplace for many, but somewhat foreign to a group used to thrashing out the majority of a record together in one room—and of course, they eventually did. In January and February 2016 Thrice reconvened in Southern California for a period of six weeks to lay down their ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, with the help of producer Eric Palmquist, who Dustin says “gave a just the right amount of feedback on the songs as we were writing; enough to challenge you but not sti e.” He continues: “We were pretty free in the studio. We built up the songs, but we hadn’t meticulously nailed everything down, so it was a good mix of preparation and spontaneity. It was a breath of fresh air.”
Compare the straight ahead punk rhythms of Thrice’s 2000 debut Identity Crisis, to the compositional complexity of 2011’s Major/Minor, and the sonic swerve is stark, yet traceable. Elements of post-hardcore remain—the riffs, the scorched Earth howl of dissatisfaction—but there’s a warmth here too, and the satisfying inclusion of pop melodies, a knack for which they’ve always maintained, no matter how heavy the music. It’s evident from the rst few bars of album opener “Hurricane” and underscored by its titanic chorus.
For this record the singer found he was variously inspired by Stephen King’s seminal book On Writing, philosopher Seneca the Younger, and his feelings on modernity’s relentless connectivity, not to mention the relentless updates of news at home and around the globe. Dustin calls To Be Everywhere… his most vulnerable and most politically-minded album to date.
“Eric and I were talking about how rock music has lost all its nouns whereas hip-hop has become a very vital force, and he was speculating that this was because it was actually dealing with things that are happening concretely, and for some reason rock has become more amorphous in terms of the language used,” explains Dustin. “So I was endeavoring to write a very noun-ful record, very connected to physical things, using metaphors, but really trying to make sure they were visceral and connected quickly, as well as engaging with what’s actually going on in the world.”
And so we have songs like the bleak “Death from Above” written from the perspective of drone operators and featuring the desperately furious chorus, “But I am never sure who I am killing / How many innocents are in the building / I drop death out of the sky.” Dustin’s consideration of the institutionalized violence and racism, both here and abroad, also ekes into rst single “Blood on the Sand,” with a drum stick in the verse clacking on the snare’s rim like a ticking bomb.
Elsewhere the ominous “Black Honey” considers the detrimental effects of deja vu foreign policy. “We keep doing the same things and expecting to get something good out of it,” says Dustin exasperated. “We’ve built problem on problem on problem, and now we nd ourselves with ISIS and people are like—maybe we’ll do more of the same! It hasn’t worked yet: so maybe we need more of holistic approach to what we’re doing.”
But there’s a ipside on which the Thrice frontman accesses his interior, absorbing Stephen King’s advice to push yourself to write freely—without being overly critical in the rst instance—and then be open to feedback afterward. “Because of that I was able to get to a more vulnerable place and I think that makes the songs more powerful,” he says.
One of the album’s most anthemic moments, “Stay with Me,” is an homage to one of Dustin’s favorite Josh Ritter songs “The Temptation of Adam”— about a couple who fall in love after taking shelter in a missile silo fearing the end of the world. Here Dustin imagines their above ground and post-apocalyptic analogue, but in both songs, the protagonist is haunted by what would happen to their love, should they nd “the war was over.”
Finally “Salt and Shadow” brings the lean album to its climax with a sprawling six-minute closer that subject-wise echoes the album’s title, tackling the issue we all have of being spread too thin. “Now we have the world in our pocket and it’s so easy to be disconnected from the people around you,” he explains. “Or even you know very little about a lot of things, as opposed to having a better grasp on a fewer number of things.” It’s Thrice at their most muted, exing their ability to communicate impactfully without ooring it. A piano line, which mirrors the bars of opener “Hurricane,” signifies the LP’s finale.
Is this a comeback? Does Riley, the self-confessed worrier in the band feel the pressure? “We have always just kinda done whatever we wanted to do and we’ve been lucky enough to have a core group of fans who trust us,” he says. And their trust is well founded. Soon they’ll be hitting the road, reconnecting with fans, and really working at interpreting not only their new record, but Thrice’s much beloved back catalogue too.
“It’s exciting,” says Eddie. “I mean, that’s what’s cool about music, it’s a living thing.” And just like their songs morph for the stage, so the band members have forged onwards, splintering for a time, before returning to each other.
“I remember bands when I was growing up, when they hit ten years that seemed just crazy to me,” says Dustin, “and now we are starting to come up on 20! We truly enjoy making music together and there’s something really special about the fact that we’ve had the same four guys in the band this whole time—growing up on the road and trying to gure out what that means.”
Baroness’ triumphant new album contains some of the biggest, brightest and most glorious riffs and choruses the adventurous rock group has ever recorded. But its title, Purple, also reflects a dark moment in the group’s recent history: the terrifying bus crash they survived while on tour in 2012. “The band suffered a gigantic bruise,” singer-guitarist John Baizley says of the accident. “It was an injury that prevented us from operating in a normal way for quite some time. Hopefully, this record is the springboard that helps us get away from all that.”
The album, which is due out December 18 and which producer Dave Fridmann (the Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney) helmed, covers the gamut of emotions Baroness have experienced in recent years and serves as their victory cry. Purple finds a revamped lineup of the band – Baizley and Pete Adams (guitar, vocals) and new additions Nick Jost (bass, keyboards) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) – playing 10 intricately textured tunes and singing about the worry they felt immediately after the crash (“If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)”), the struggle to recover as smoothly as possible (“Chlorine & Wine”) and their ongoing quest for survival (“The Iron Bell”). From its bulldozing opener “Morningstar” to the avant-garde 17-second closer “Crossroads of Infinity,” the record is at once both their most emotionally threadbare and musically complex offering to date, with passages that allude to their classic-rock roots as much as their crushing metal past.
“We didn’t want to make a mellow, sad, dark thing,” Adams says. “We needed to be up-tempo. We needed to be melodic, and it also needed to be aggressive. In all of that, I think we were able to get out everything we felt, all of the emotion involved, everything from being angry to wanting to continue to push forward.”
Baroness formed in 2003, slugging it out in their local Savannah, Georgia scene while adhering to a DIY punk ethic, booking their own tours and silk-screening their own shirts. In 2007, they put out their critically acclaimed debut, the sludgy, guitar-banging Red Album, which heavy-metal magazine Revolver named Album of the Year. They followed it up two years later with the heavier Blue Record, extreme-metal magazine Decibel’s Album of the Year. But it was on their last release, the 2012 double-album Yellow & Green, where they really opened up, exploring a slightly lighter touch with more accessible vocals and alt-rock arrangements, leading to a Top 30 chart debut in the U.S. and Spin declaring it the “Metal Album of the Year.” Unfortunately, the group would not be fully able to enjoy Yellow & Green’s success and accolades.
In August 2012, less than a month after Yellow & Green came out, Baroness were on tour driving in England when their bus broke through a guardrail on a viaduct near Bath and plummeted nearly 30 feet to the ground below. Through some miracle, none of the nine passengers died, though Baizley broke his left arm and left leg and the group’s rhythm section at the time, bassist Matt Maggioni and Allen Blickle, both suffered fractured vertebrae.
“I was lying in my bunk when the brakes went out, and I knew immediately once we picked up speed that we were going to crash, period,” recalls Adams, an Army vet who went through the equivalent of a bus crash a day while fighting in Iraq and who earned a Purple Heart in combat. “I didn’t tense up. I didn’t brace myself. I just rolled over in my bunk and said a few peaceful words to myself and hung in there, because I was like, ‘Here we go. If it this is it, then make it quick.’ I felt like a shoe in a dryer. Next thing you know, it’s over and I’m standing there, and I was not broken. I was burned, I was cut, I was bleeding, I was dazed, but I was OK. And I collected myself and started helping people out. But I absolutely thought the band would be over.”
Baizley spent two-and-a-half weeks immobile in a hospital and then months to recover from his injuries, but when he did, he and Adams decided to keep the group going. “I spoke to James Hetfield, who has also dealt with the fallout from a bus-related accident, and he said, “Life is going to be difficult for a while; but you’ll be fine. You’ve got this,'” he says. “And once I had done some physical therapy and played guitar again, I thought, ‘Yes, I’ve got this. It’s not over.'”
Looking back on it now, Hetfield was right, and now Baroness’ members feel like they’ve gotten through the worst of it. “While we realize the accident is obviously of interest, we have gone over that particular story’s details at length over the past few years,” Baizley says. “We feel that this album not only addresses but puts a punctuation mark on that story. Baroness existed before the accident and will continue to exist, and we’d rather talk about what we’ve created with Purple than let one side-story overtake or define who we are as a band.”
Once Baizley was ready to get moving again, the first matter at hand was to find a rhythm section, since Maggioni and Blickle had both split amicably with the group. To find the right people, Baizley leaned on some famous friends for advice. Eventually, Baizley spoke to Mastodon’s Brann Dailor, who pointed him in the right direction to finding the group’s new drummer, Trans Am member Sebastian Thomson, to help build up the band again. “We didn’t try out anyone else,” Baizley says. Another friend suggested that they check out someone whom she described as being the best player she’d ever heard. That turned out to be Nick Jost, who not only played both the upright bass and bass guitar, but was also a skilled piano player with a degree in jazz composition.
With a new lineup in place, the group eventually embarked on lengthy trek that Baizley describes as a “thank you tour,” to the fans who stood by the band in its darkest hour, in the spring of 2013. Other than a handful of Australian gigs in 2014, Baroness spent the time since then getting ready for their next chapter, setting up their own indie label, Abraxan Hymns, and writing songs for Purple.
“I wanted to celebrate my misery through my creativity and face it head on,” Baizley says of the LP. “The lyrics on Purple are about the different paths that formed in the fallout of the crash, from very direct stories about difficult moments of suffering to the love I feel for people who were there for me.”
When the group finally got to work out the tunes in the studio, they did so with a producer whom Baizley has always been eager to work with: Dave Fridmann. “He’s been on the top of my list since Day One,” the singer says. “I never thought he’d work with us. I absolutely worship his recordings.” With 25 years of experience mapping out Wayne Coyne’s intricate flights of audial fancy on Flaming Lips records and making the most of bands generally known for understatement like Low and Spoon, the producer helped the group construct a sonic habitat for all of Purple’s unique sounds, including acoustic guitar, otherworldly keyboard and echoes galore. He also helped them make the most of themselves.
“We’re a very analytical band,” Adams says. “We’ll write something and overanalyze it to the point where we feel we’ve edited the songs as much as they could be, and Fridmann threw ideas at us that we’d never thought about before. We needed that outside ear.”
But Purple is perhaps most notable for serving as a vehicle for Baizley and Adams to move on, and welcome Jost and Thomson to the fold. “They are both very talented musicians,” Adams says. “They’re open to new ideas and you can rely on them.”
“They said, ‘We just want to make sure it kicks ass,'” Baizley recalls. “That’s what I needed. I was in a pretty bleak spot when we weren’t playing. And when I realized that Pete, Nick and Sebastian were excited – and I hadn’t felt that unified amount of excitement before – it pushed us into saying, ‘We’ve got this.'”
“The whole process was very smooth,” Thomson says. “The only thing that required a little bit of work was learning how to write together. That took us a month or two to figure out, but once we did we got on a roll.”
“I made a mistake and hit the wrong chord at the end of a run through of ‘If I Have to Wake Up’ and out of that mistake we wrote ‘Fugue,'” Jost says. “That shows how we grew. And then ‘If I Have to Wake Up’ shows just how far we came.”
“We had a situation where a band had to rebuild itself with half-new members and an almost entirely new crew,” Thomson says. “On paper that sounds like a possible recipe for disaster, but we all clicked almost immediately. We still have that attitude to this day.”
Adams says only recently, since the group has gotten back on the road, he thinks that Baroness has felt like a band again. And now with Purple under their belts, Baroness are ready to take on the world. “There’s a lot more playfulness now,” Adams says. “Everyone now is positive, there’s no heavy bullshit. People are laughing and smiling more now in Baroness than I’ve ever seen. That’s real, and I’m thankful for that.” The bruise is beginning to heal.
The number five holds a deep significance.
We have five senses. Five points adorn a star. Five represents man in theology. For the five members of Hollywood Undead—Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Funny Man, and Danny—the digit perfectly encapsulates their fifth full-length offering—FIVE [Dove & Grenade Media/BMG].
“We’re five brothers, and this is our fifth record,” affirms Johnny 3 Tears. “Nothing gets to the essence of the music like this number does. Numerology has a lot of power. When we said Five, it just made sense. The fact that we could all agree on one word codifies who we are. It also nods back to ‘No. 5’ from our first album, because it was our fifth song. Moreover, it hints at this secret society of fans supporting us for the past decade. The number is significant, and this is a significant moment for us.”
It’s also a moment that the Los Angeles band has been working towards since the release of their RIAA platinum-certified 2008 debut, Swan Songs. Along the way, the group’s unmistakable and inebriating distillation of rock, hip-hop, industrial, and electronic incited the rise of a bona fide cult audience comprised of millions. For the uninitiated, think Trent Reznor producing Enter The Wu-Tang Clan – 36 Chambers in 2020, and you’re halfway there…Quietly infecting the mainstream, their 2011 sophomore effort American Tragedy went gold and bowed at #4 on the Billboard Top 200, while 2013’s Notes From The Underground seized #2. In 2015, Day of the Dead spawned another smash in the form of the title track, which amassed 21.1 million Spotify streams and 17 million YouTube/VEVO views. Known for atomic live performances, the quintet regularly sells out shows around the world from Massachusetts and Miami to Moscow and Manchester. They’ve toured alongside the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, and Stone Sour in addition to notching features from Billboard, Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Revolver, and more.
2016 saw Hollywood Undead unfurl the next chapter of this saga. For the first time, the band found itself free from the major label system. They launched their very own imprint Dove & Grenade Media and forged a strategic alliance with BMG. That independence became a cornerstone of the creative process behind Five.
“This time around, we took matters into our own hands more as a band,” says J-Dog. “We did more writing and producing ourselves. We were more hands-on than ever before. We realized that nobody knows our music better than we do. When we made this record, we didn’t have to think as much. We could go with our hearts more. It’s a group effort. One or more members put their blood, sweat, tears, and soul into every song. We took the reins of our own destiny.”
“We had complete creative control,” Johnny 3 Tears continues. “BMG is a partner with us. We’re working together. They saw our vision. It wasn’t about pandering to anyone or having to write a hit single. Because everything fell on our shoulders, we really held ourselves accountable. Also, now that we’re an indie band, we might finally get some of that hipster pussy.”
…Time certainly hasn’t softened their sense of humor, nor their edge for that matter—only sharpened both. Five bursts out of the gate with the opener and first single “California Dreaming.” Powered by neck-snapping guitars and fast and furious bars, the song cycles between guttural rapping and quick quips. Everything culminates on the choral chant “We never sleep, in California we’re dreaming.”
“It dissects both sides of California,” J-Dog reveals. “You’ve got the glitz, glamour, sun, and surf. Then, you’ve got the super fucked side of people not being able to afford rent, celebrities being assholes, and that fake façade. We wanted to do a heavy song with a Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque chorus. It’s an old school vibe explored in a new way.”
Elsewhere, “We Own The Night” struts between stadium-size guitars and a visceral volley on the verses punctuated by lines like, “If you fuckers want to die, fucking with Undead is like committing suicide.”
“It’s the quintessential Hollywood Undead song,” exclaims J-Dog. “It’s got that shit talking. There’s a fresh vibe with the organ though. We were inspired by Hans Zimmer’s use of it in Interstellar, so we added this cinematic element to the track.”
The airy and ominous “Bad Moon” explores “a fascination with the occult and fucked up things people do at night,” while “Ghost Beach” represents another breakthrough as the first “HU song with all clean vocals.”
“Your Life” closes Five with elegiac keys, jagged riffing, and an 808-boom propelled by edge-of-your-seat raps and an undeniable plea, “It’s your life. It’s do or die.”
“We were shitfaced drinking in the rain under an awning on Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood at three in the morning,” recalls J-Dog. “That’s how the chorus came about.”
“It’s true,” smiles Johnny 3 Tears. “I love when ideas come about organically. It’s personal, but it’s a statement for everyone. It might be cliché to say, but it needs to be repeated: You can’t waste your fucking time. It’s a self-affirmation. Every moment you waste worrying is a moment you could’ve been done something that might actually have consequence by the day you die.”
Threading together this collage of metallic instrumentation, street corner poetry, and industrial haze, the group tapped the mixing talents of Dan Lancaster [Bring Me The Horizon] for all 14 tracks, while reteaming with longtime collaborators Griffin Boice and Sean Gould behind the board.
A decade on, the raw anger and passion that defined Hollywood Undead since day one is more dangerous than ever before.
“A lot of guys who have been in bands a lot longer than we have say stupid shit like, ‘It’s just a paycheck at this point,’ but that is so not the case—we still eat, breathe, and live Hollywood Undead,” J-Dog leaves off. “We still write music as if it’s our first record, and we have to prove ourselves every single time. This is our whole world. We appreciate how far we’ve come. We appreciate that we’ve gotten to travel the world. We’re passionate about life, family, and shit we put our energy into. We’ll forever be Hollywood Undead. It’ll always be ingrained in us. I think that’s why people connect to us. They know it’s genuine.”
“Everything else in my life has come and gone at some point or another except for Hollywood Undead,” concludes Johnny 3 Tears. “It’s much more than just a band. We had a fellowship long before we started writing music together. I’m just so happy the people I get to write music with happen to be my best friends as well. It’s interesting because we’ve gone through so much in life together before Hollywood Undead. Going through this experience, it’s much more than the band to me. I can’t imagine life without it. Long after we stop someday, it’s going to be something I look back on and appreciate. Our fans make us feel like we’re in the biggest group in the world. How much they care about the music inspires us to never let them down. Five is for them.” – Rick Florino, July 2017
It’s fitting that the video for the first single from Parkway Drive’s highly anticipated fifth album, Ire, features band members risking their lives.
To fully realise the concept for the “Vice Grip” video, Parkway members committed themselves to jumping out of aeroplanes, and the results are totally mindblowing. In a way these demonstrations of risk-taking, of showing no fear, and of acquiring new skills could be a metaphor for the entire creation of Ire. Parkway Drive has taken a stunning creative leap, and produced what they consider to be a career- defining statement.
“This is the album for us,” says Winston. “Every single step of the way, whenever there was gamble to take, we took the biggest one we could. If this isn’t the album that can go further than anything we thought was possible with this band and this type of music, that’s fine, but we can’t go back from this as far as we’re concerned.” Parkway Drive has spent the past decade at the forefront of heavy music worldwide, finding success in areas previously thought impossible for a band with a sound so uncompromisingly ferocious and intense. And yet Ire is not the sound of a band content to rest on its laurels.
The Byron Bay powerhouse has tapped deep into its reserves of talent and creativity, and pushed themselves as musicians and songwriters to take their established sound to another level.
“We wanted to challenge our own perception of what Parkway Drive was capable of,” reveals Winston. “We wanted to change the game in every facet. We spent a long time working on the songs and learning new skills, but once we started throwing away the preconceived notions, it blew the doors off and there was no limit to what we could create.”
Ire retains all the hallmarks of classic Parkway, but it’s clearly something brave and new. It’s bigger, heavier, more melodic and has more depth to it than anything they’ve done in the past.
The lyrics have also been dialled up another notch. Whether they be about politics, social issues, the environment or the music scene, the words and Winston’s delivery of them perfectly encapsulate the discontent of these times.
“This new album is angry; really, really angry,” says Winston. “We are not a band to pretend that everything is great. There are some hard truths that need to be put out there and we are not afraid to do it.”
Parkway Drive has redefined the limits of their sound, and by doing so they will again redefine what has been thought possible for a metalcore band from Byron Bay to achieve.
“The success we’ve had continues to exceed all expectation, but realistically there had to be some kind of a limit,” concludes Winston. “But honestly, listening to what we’ve created with Ire, I don’t see a limit for what this album can do.”
Greta Van Fleet
Firing twin barrels of arena-rock muscle and moving melodies, Greta Van Fleet is a modern rock & roll band rooted in the genre’s strongest traditions: super-sized hooks, raw riffage and the sweeping vocals of a front man who was born to wail.
The four-piece formed in Frakenmuth, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, where 20 year-old twin brothers Josh and Jake Kiszka began playing shows with their 17 year-old younger brother, Sam, and 17 year-old family friend Danny Wagner. Holding their practices in the Kiszka family garage and road-testing their songs onstage throughout Michigan, the four became a band of brothers whose songs mix classic chops with the thrill of teenage angst.
From sing-along choruses to fiery guitar solos, Greta Van Fleet rounds up a highlight reel of rock & roll heroics. These guys aren’t revivalists; they’re looking ahead, breathing new life into a sound that’s blasted out of car dashboards and living room stereos for decades.
You don’t have to change everything. However, realigning can be the healthiest remedy after nearly two decades in the music business. Going into their eleventh full- length album, Kill The Flaw [7 Bros. Records/ADA Label Services], Sevendust changed a lot around them regarding the infrastructure of their organization, but they didn’t alter what matters the most—the music. Following their first significant break (two months) since forming, the Atlanta group—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—entered their new creative hub, Architekt Studios in Butler, New Jersey, completely inspired and invigorated.
“For the first time in our careers, the avenues were swept off with all of the trash we had on them before,” admits Lajon. “We didn’t have certain people’s hands in our pockets or helicoptering the situation to what they thought it should be. We took a lot of things in our own control. As a result, it’s a new chapter for us.”
“That’s why the record is called Kill The Flaw,” explains Clint. “It’s basically about cutting off the baggage from your life and career and trimming down the excess that holds you back. We’ve had a lot of struggles with the industry. We changed everything about our business. It’s a rebirth in a sense, as far as what we want to do, how we’re going to do it, and who we’re going to it with. We’ve learned from our mistakes.”
There were a few other significant changes as well. Instead of holding up in a hotel, Lajon, Clint, and John rented a house together. The sessions became “24-hour” as the guys cooked breakfast together, hit the gym, and then locked themselves in the studio until midnight every day for five weeks. They also penned the music alongside one another in the studio, jamming everything out in the same room.
“It made everything feel like it did when we first started,” smiles Lajon. “We went in, sat down, looked at each other, picked up the instruments, and began rocking out. Recording like an actual group gave everything more substance.”
“I wanted to embrace what Sevendust is,” declares Clint. “It’s the contrast of the melodic vocal over a very percussive, heavy musical landscape. That’s what we’ve always done. That’s one of those things our fan base really connected to. They’re our life’s blood.
There’s no question. We allow our fans to have more of a voice than other bands. We love putting out records that people can say, ‘This what they do. This is the type of band I want to support.’”
The first single and album opener “Thank You” upholds the pillars of their signature style with a buoyant guitar groove, bombastic drums, and soulfully striking refrain. “There’s always someone trying to keep you down,” sighs Lajon. “At the end of the day, that negativity makes you stronger. You’re still going. It says, ‘Thank you for putting me down. Thank you for making me work harder. Thank you for hating!’”
Meanwhile, “Death Dance” builds from an eerie clean guitar into a towering distorted verse that’s as robust as it is raw. Everything converges on an undeniable vocal chant during the chorus. “That’s the summer dance jam right there,” chuckles Lajon.
“It’s based around the social media era we’re in with all of its vanity and ego,” reveals Clint. “We all get caught up in it. People try to enhance their looks without putting any energy towards giving back. The dead are society staring at their iPhones. You’ve got to see the world. You can’t look at a screen for that.”
Then, there’s “Not Today,” which is equally stirring and soaring with its six-string beatdown and vulnerably vibrant vocals. “That’s another one about change,” continues Clint. “It’s us as a band basically making a choice to change who we work with and how we do what we do. It’s us addressing things that have stopped that from happening. You’re lashing out at someone and explaining how you’re going to be a different version of yourself.”
Thankfully, they’re still Sevendust through and through, and that’s what forged one of hard rock’s most diehard audiences. 2014’s acoustic offering Time Traveler’s & Bonfires saw an overwhelming response from that community, being quickly funded through a highly successful PledgeMusic campaign. Just a year prior, Black Out The Sun entered Billboard’s Top Hard Music Albums chart at #1 and landed at #18 on the Top 200. They kicked off their illustrious career with an untouchable string of three gold albums, beginning with their self-titled 1997 debut and continuing with Home in 1999 and Animosity in 2001. Along the way, they’ve sold out shows everywhere and given unforgettable performances at the likes of Rock On The Range, Woodstock, OZZfest, and Shiprocked! to name a few. However, the new chapter starts now.
“I hope people know we’re the real deal,” concludes Lajon. “That’s the most important thing. There’s substance here. That’s why everybody keeps coming back, and we’re beyond thankful for that.”
“I want everybody to walk away surprised,” Clint leaves off. “I hope it’s better than they imagined, and they get this reassurance that we’re all connected. We want to give people fresh, quality music. I hope they feel prideful they’ve stuck with us through all of these years.”
Even as the music business was dismantled and reconfigured, large chain stores shuttered, cable TV abandoned music videos as a format, radio playlists tightened, and thick-headedly bubblegum anthems celebrated, hard rock music has actually thrived, increasing in size and championed by an elite vanguard of ambitious bands.
POP EVIL smashes through the odds like a battering ram, weathering the trials and tribulations of paying dues with a steadfast resilience owing much to their blue collar and middle class backgrounds, and building a worldwide audience one fan at a time. As the moniker promises when emblazoned on a CD or radio dial, POP EVIL conjures aggressive riffs and hard charging sing-a-longs with emotional heft and melodic power in equal measure. It’s music by the people, for the people.
There’s a reason Billboard named POP EVIL the #4 Mainstream Rock Artist of 2014, and it’s not just because of those three(!) consecutive #1 Rock Radio Singles from the last album (and a fourth that cracked the Top 10), the Top 10 Independent debut and Top 40 Billboard 200 debut of ONYX, or that album’s subsequent 180,000 in domestic sales. All of which being undoubtedly rare feats to accomplish as independent artists in any genre of music.
Simply put, POP EVIL is a larger-than-life true rock n’ roll band blending the earnestness of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden with the celebratory showmanship of Motley Crue and KISS, capable of empathizing with the daily struggles of their fans while simultaneously offering the escapism a truly bombastic concert provides. It’s an attitude and a way of life POP EVIL has put proudly on display on tour with Godsmack (as part of Rockstar Uproar), Five Finger Death Punch, Three Doors Down, Papa Roach, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace, Theory Of A Deadman, Black Stone Cherry and more.
Purposefully assembled at Studio Litho and London Bridge Studios with producer Adam Kasper (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters), UP is the sound of a rock band cementing a powerful identity that’s steadily materialized over the course of three prior full-length slabs. The inspirational soon to be live staple “Footsteps,” the swaggering “Take It All” – POP EVIL prove their burgeoning success is no accident.
“There were many more highs than lows in the wake of ONYX,” summarizes band frontman LEIGH KAKATY. “The only real low was that it was hard to be gone from our families for another year. But the highs were amazing. We experienced our first #1 record with ‘Trenches,’ followed by ‘Deal with the Devil,’ and then again with ‘Torn to Pieces,’ which was a song about my father, who passed in 2011. Having that song go to #1 was a nice tribute to my pops, and closure for my personal journey.”
“Then came ‘Beautiful.’ Having four singles at radio from any album these days is a huge honor itself. We were just grateful. It humbled us,” he says. “We tasted the fruits from all of the previous years, from when we felt like nobody was listening.”
After a self-released record and EP kicked up a buzz, the first proper POP EVIL album, Lipstick on the Mirror found its way to listeners via a major label re-release, despite the business trouble that resulted in Pop Evil tearing up their major label contract on stage, in what Spin Magazine called one of the Ten Best Moments of Rock on the Range. The band’s pristine follow-up, War of Angels, brought Pop Evil to a worldwide audience, driven by the strength of radio ready tracks “Last Man Standing,” “Monster You Made,” and the Mick Mars collaboration, “Boss’s Daughter.”
Produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth), ONYX represented a bold new creative achievement, and provided several career milestones, including a triumphant return to Rock On The Range where the band played “Trenches” with Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels as 13 U.S. Marines (showcasing the Lima Company Eyes of Freedom Memorial) stood behind them.
“People ask me all the time, ‘What it’s like to hear your song on the radio?’ It never gets old!” Kakaty declares. “It’s a reminder of hard work, and of having that dream sitting in your garage, trying to write a song that someone would love one day. That dream happened for our band and it’s something that we don’t want to take lightly.
“Now it’s time to step up our game and let people know we can back it all up,” he adds. “We want to prove we aren’t a one hit wonder. We didn’t just get lucky.”
UP is a bold reintroduction and step forward, with guitarists NICK FUELLING and DAVEY GRAHS, bassist MATT DIRITO and Kakaty at the top of their game. It’s always a bit cliché, not to mention questionable, when a band says their new album is the best one yet. But in the case of POP EVIL, it’s an absolute fact.
“When I listen rock radio today, I think, ‘Where’s the fun?’” Kakaty explains. “Where’s that release that gets people away from their everyday stress? The more we toured on ONYX, we realized we wanted more of that element in our set. ‘Some songs have a lot of discipline, anger and angst to it, which is one side of the band. It’s do or die. Other songs deal with temptations, or loss. ONYX came from a dark place, so with this album, UP, we wanted to remind ourselves to have fun, too. That attitude has led to a rebirth, a growth we haven’t seen before. We’re excited about it.”
POP EVIL sees each of their records as a time capsule, a testament to who they were and where they were at in their lives when they made it. Having conquered Rock Radio with three consecutive number one singles on the last album, the question became, “Where to from here?” They’ve been careful not to repeat themselves. The band constantly pushes forward, evolves, experiments and adapts, while staying true to their core.
It’s with this attitude that POP EVIL succeeded in building a lasting bond with their fans. It’s the type of environment created by the groups who listeners treat like family, and the bands celebrate the same way in return. Fans bring bands into their lives, they make the songs a part of them. Music doesn’t belong solely to the songwriters who create it. It’s a shared experience, a community possession, the moment it’s unleashed across the airwaves and strikes a chord with someone else.
It’s why powerhouse sports teams like the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, and the band’s very own Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and Michigan Wolverines bang their anthems over the loudspeakers. POP EVIL’s music brings people together, energizing listeners with power; on the radio, on ESPN, FOX, ABC, and anywhere.
POP EVIL won’t criticize the wide variety of tools at the disposal of artists these days, finding nothing inherently wrong with programming, loops, samples, or studio enhancements. Nevertheless, POP EVIL champions the special magic found when a rock n’ roll band strips it back down to drums, bass, guitars and a microphone. “One of my greatest accomplishments in life was learning how to play that guitar,” says Kakaty. “At first, it’s intimidating. You don’t even want to touch that thing! But once you learn, anytime you walk by one, you’re like, ‘Give me that damn thing.’ It’s a gift.”
That spirit, that motivation, that nearly indescribable feeling that unites people across cultural, economic, religious, and all other divides – it’s Zeppelin. It’s Sabbath. It’s Aerosmith. It’s James Brown. It’s Woodstock. It’s transcendent purity.
It’s POP EVIL.
Interiors is Quicksand’s best album yet. It sounds like nothing else you are going to hear this year.
It arrives deliberately unannounced, two decades after the pioneering post-hardcore quartet’s last album. Made completely on the band’s own terms, Interiors has a power, strength and subtlety that will likely stun you. There are no wasted notes, no flab, and no excess whatsoever. It is absolutely perfect.
“This struck a chord, where we felt this is actually something that could represent us now,” says bassist Sergio Vega. “It doesn’t sound like a third album a couple of decades later. It’s a piece of work that we really, really can back.”
That may be an understatement: Interiors is breathtaking in its surging, sculptured sonic attack, a welcome reminder that the band’s longtime status as musical innovators is not undeserved.
To make the record, the band first had to return to the beginning—to the purity of why Quicksand started making music in the first place. In the process, they made a great record that speaks to their past—but, more essentially, to their present and future.
“First we went out and made the record we wanted to make, with the person we wanted to make it with,” says drummer Alan Cage. “Then we went with a finished product and said ‘OK, who’s going to put this thing out?’ Of course we want to share it, have people listen to it, and create their own relationship with it–but at the core, it is our thing. “I think we landed in a perfect place to do that with epitaph.”
“When we first became a band, that’s what we did with making our EP. We put together $1500 and recorded the songs, because no one knew or cared about what we were doing, except for us. We took the same approach with Interiors.”
And of course, so much has changed since then.
“I’m thrilled to be listening back to a record that we made with our own money, on our own schedule and creative terms,” says Quicksand front man/guitarist Walter Schreifels. “While it was definitely important for us to speak to our longtime fans, we thought the best way to do that was to embrace who we are now, to allow our selves to be open to people that have never heard of us. Our tastes and experiences as musicians and as people have grown, and we decided to run with that. As a result, I think ‘Interiors’ has a wider spectrum on it than our past records.”
Interiors makes clear via its searing opening sequence of tracks that Quicksand’s skills as songsmiths and players have never been sharper.
From the pulse-pounding start of the opening track “Illuminant,” the band immediately draws you in with its unique combination of pounding rhythm and shifting loud/soft dynamics, heightened by Schreifels’ deliberately restrained—but powerful—vocal.
“To me, ‘Illuminant’ was the first song that set the bar for the rest of the album. We had compiled various jams and song inspirations that we’d recorded at sound checks and rehearsals, but it is a significant step to take song ideas, riffs etc. and commit to the structure that makes it a ‘song.’ Especially for us. We were searching for the abstract idea of ‘what does a new Quicksand song sound like?’ Once we put ‘Illuminant’ together, it happened pretty quickly. I felt confident we could make a great album.”
A similar standout is “Cosmonauts,” a stylistic leap forward for the band both in terms of its powerfully rhythmic, slow pacing and Schreifels’ textured and melodic vocal.
“One of the things about Quicksand back in the day that made it hard for me was that most of the vocals were close to the top of my range, it had impact but was exhausting to perform live. As a Quicksand song, ‘Cosmonauts’ has all the elements that our fans dig, but I gave myself license to sing. Over time I’ve discovered that if you have the right emotional pitch–if you understand what you’re trying to say, you don’t necessarily have to scream it to make a point.”
That point also applies to the album’s title track, among the finest the band has ever recorded. “Interiors” is majestic, glacial, powerful, throbbing—like no other song you’ve ever heard—pairing a howling, repetitive guitar figure partnered with Schreifels’ emotional, almost resigned delivery of the lyrics. It is a mind-blower from top to bottom, and its final moments feature a stunning instrumental break ranking among Quicksand’s best ever work.
There’s an astounding array of sonic diversity displayed on Interiors that will satisfy Quicksand fans both old and new. And that’s been done purposely, adds Schreifels, pointing to the significant contributions of producer Will Yip. “I worked with Will on another project some years ago–Title Fight’s Shed album,” he says. “We had a blast. And with Will’s combination of expertise and taste, I knew that he would gel with the other Quicksand guys.
No small matter was the fact that Yip has produced the records of several young, critically admired bands that cite Quicksand as an influence, he adds.
“It made sense to thread that with where music is now. While working on this record, Will really joined the band–and every move we made was in service of the song sonically, structurally and overall energy-wise. We were not afraid to diverge from formula moves, and we were also down to embrace aspects of our style that our fans have come to expect–as long as there was a twist.
“For example, ‘Under The Screw’ I really dig because I wanted something that kind of connected to the Quicksand that people remember,” he says. “But in the vocals, I took a more surrealistic approach than I would have in the past–which I think gives license for us to take more unexpected turns as the song progresses.”
There is a sense of growth and maturity on Interiors that longtime fans will hear upon first listen. A lot has happened since the early ‘90s, a lot has happened since those days of Manic Compression and the very first Warped Tour. And a lot has happened in the lives of the four members of Quicksand.
“This record just sounds like who we are,” says Schreifels. “Lyrically, I wasn’t interested in re-creating some ersatz version of the struggles I was having when I was 20 years old, I lived that already. It took me a minute to find the thread but once I had a few songs done, the language and themes of Interiors began to write themselves.”
From start to finish, there is growth, there is strength, and there is power in this music. More power than ever before, and it may surprise you.
Translation? Quicksand has made the album of a lifetime. And now the world gets to hear it.
In life, two options exist: death or growth.
On their eighth full-length offering The Sin and The Sentence [Roadrunner Records], Trivium choose the latter once again. In fact, the record represents an apotheosis of every element that at once defined the Florida group since its 1999 formation. Moments of malevolent melodicism give way to taut technical thrash, black metal expanse, punk spirit, and heavy heart tightly threaded together by the musical union of the quartet—Matt Heafy [vocals, guitar], Corey Beaulieu [guitar], Paolo Gregoletto [bass], and Alex Bent [drums]. Unsurprisingly, these eleven songs resulted from an unquenchable hunger for improvement.
“It was a do-or-die moment,” exclaims Heafy. “There were no two ways about it. We’ve always had this will to be better. I started taking inventory of everything we’ve done right or wrong, and it made me apply that thinking to the new music. What ended up coming about was, in my opinion, a combination of the best things we’ve ever done. We all agreed, ‘We have to make the best record of our career right now.’”
Given their global success, this goal proved nothing short of a tall order. 2015’s Silence in the Snow ignited something of a renaissance for the boys. Moving 17,000 copies upon debut, it bowed Top 20 on the Billboard Top 200 and claimed the #3 spot on the Top Rock Albums chart. “Until the World Goes Cold” arrived as their biggest single to date, achieving the band’s first Top 10 at Active Rock and generating a staggering 17.1 million Spotify streams and 14.9 million YouTube/VEVO views and counting. The Guardian, Classic Rock, Ultimate Guitar, and more praised Silence in the Snow as they sold out shows worldwide.
Despite the explosive nature of the previous campaign, the musicians quietly commenced work on what would transform into The Sin and the Sentence, collating ideas and assembling songs on the road. Without telling anyone outside of the inner circle, they retreated to the Southern California studio of producer Josh Wilbur [Lamb of God, Gojira] for just a month in 2017.
“By the time we got to Josh, 99% of this was written,” explains Heafy. “With Vengeance Falls and Silence in the Snow, we came into the studio with about 50% completed. When we’re as prepared as possible, we make our best music. This was more like Ember to Inferno, Ascendancy, Shogun, and In Waves where we brought a cohesive vision into the studio. Josh pushed us to refine that and make it even better. We made the kinds of songs we wanted to hear.”
An important first, Gregoletto took the reins writing lyrics. The results freed up Heafy to soar on the mic.
“Matt and I were really collaborative in the studio writing a lot of the lyrics for Silence in the Snow right before he went in to track them,” he recalls. “On The Sin and The Sentence, I pushed for lyrics and vocals to start much sooner. We devoted the same amount of time to them as we do to the riffs, drumbeats, and music. We put the lyrics through the ringer. I’ve helped Matt a lot in the past, but I wanted to learn more about the craft and technical side of writing. I was reading books and trying to glean different things. By the end of it, I was picking up more about how to use rhymes and how words bring momentum to a song.”
“This thing was like a film,” adds Heafy. “Paolo was the writer. Josh was the director. I was the actor. I feel like I was able to actually get into different headspaces singing the lyrics, because I wasn’t the one attached to all of them from creation to completion. I think Paolo did an incredible job.”
Without so much as a social media plug or formal recording announcement, Trivium broke the silence about their latest body of work and uncovered the music video for the first single and title track in the summer of 2017. It arrived to a groundswell of fan enthusiasm, racking up 1.9 million YouTube views and nearly 1 million Spotify streams in just four weeks’ time. The near six-minute lead-off charges forward at full speed on a double bass drum gallop, thrash intricacies, and hummable guitar lead as Heafy delivers one of his most powerful and ponderous vocal performances ever.
“The idea is condemnation, being ostracized, being pushed aside, and not quite understanding how to deal with those feelings,” remarks Heafy. “This is definitely reactionary to the world and things that have happened to us.”
“I read this book called So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” Gregolotto reveals. “It was all about internet shaming culture. The whole thesis of the book was the amount of punishment for something. Somebody makes a tasteless joke and loses a job. I kept thinking about that and the idea of the witch hunts blaming people for inexplicable happenings. It’s easy to pin something on others because you don’t like them. You join the mob by attacking someone over something little. The Sin is the infraction to the public. The Sentence is the pile-on and ruining someone’s life and career. Does it add up? You might be on the other end at some point, so be careful.”
Meanwhile, “The Heart From Your Hate” hinges on a gang chant, fret fireworks, and an undeniable and unshakable clean refrain, “What will it take to rip the heart from your hate?”
“The emotion of hatred is so powerful,” Gregoletto sighs. “It’s the opposite of love. When someone is deeply in love or hate, it can be very hard to change this person’s mind. That was the concept. It’s the inability to kill off emotions like that.”
“We love to have a dynamic contrast,” adds Heafy. “Ascendancy is the fastest thing we’ve done, but it’s got one our simplest songs, ‘Dying In Your Arms’. ‘The Heart from Your Hate’ shows that end of the spectrum.”
On the other end, “Betrayer” unleashes a barrage of intensity driven by black metal percussion, tremolo picking, and earth-shaking screams before yet another hypnotic hook.
“I wrote it around the same time as ‘The Sin and The Sentence’,” says Gregoletto. “They have a brother-sister connection. Matt’s speaking directly to ‘The Betrayer’ who could be a friend, significant other, or someone you thought you knew who ended up using you. It’s personal.”
Everything leads up to the crushingly epic closer “Thrown Into The Fire.” A conflagration of incendiary riffing, guttural growls, and entrancing harmonies, it’s a fiery final word.
“I wanted to build a character like a preacher or televangelist who’s leading his flock and taking and taking from the congregation,” Gregoletto continues. “He’s preaching how they should live, but living the opposite.”
Following the 2003 independent breakout of Ember to Inferno, Trivium arrived as metal’s hungriest contender on 2005’s Ascendancy. Heralded as “Album of the Year” by Kerrang!, it stands out as a 21st century genre landmark. As they went on to cumulatively sell over 2 million units, they scorched stages with idols such as Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and more in addition to regularly making pivotal appearances at Download Festival, Bloodstock, KNOTFEST, and beyond. In Waves and Vengeance Falls both soared to the Top 15 of the Billboard Top 200 as the band staunchly secured its place in the modern metal pantheon.
By growing by leaps and bounds, Heafy, Beaulieu, Gregoletto, and Bent become what they were always meant to be—Trivium.
“With this, we wanted to knock everything down and think from the ground up about how we write songs,” Gregoletto leaves off. “We enhanced everything we’ve done.”
“I want everyone to know we made this with our hearts and souls,” Heafy concludes. “It was all or nothing; we gave it our all. We’ve been through lots of ups and downs and felt like this had to capture that. It had to summarize everything that is Trivium. I feel like we did that.”
A dark, twisted circus sideshow that’s built around bombastically grooving melodic death n’ roll is swinging forward with captivating glee, mesmerizing merriment and the plundering power of lethal pirates toward those brave souls who hand over a ticket to be torn by Avatar and their Black Waltz, the fourth album and first proper American release from the Swedish masters of mayhem.
Within Avatar’s diverse songs, a steady focus on the fluid and organic power of the riff (recalling the thunderous foresight of heavy metal’s original wizards, Black Sabbath) takes flight combined with an adventurous sprit veering off into the astral planes of the psychedelic atmosphere conjured by pioneers like Pink Floyd back in the day.
Avatar has found a footing that combines the best of rock n’ roll, hard rock and heavy metal’s past, present and future into an overall artistic presentation that is thought-provoking, challenging and altogether enchantingly electric. With the grandiose showmanship of American professional wrestling, the snake oil salesmanship of early 20th century vaudevillian troubadours and the kinetically superheroic power of early Kiss, Avatar lays waste to lesser mortals with ease. Whether somebody gets their rocks off listening to Satyricon or System of a Down, they’ll find something suitably deranged here.
“We’re in this weird field, caught in a triangle between extreme metal, rock n’ roll and what can be described as Avant-garde,” confesses Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström. The all-enveloping theme park vibe of the band’s music and visual counterpart means that, naturally, “it’s turning into something bigger.”
“I have been in this band for ten years. I grew up in this band,” Eckerström explains. “We’re somewhat veterans on the one hand. But we’re the new kids in the neighborhood in America at the same time.”
Avatar came of age as “little brothers” of sorts of the famed Gothenburg scene that spawned the celebrated New Wave Of Swedish Death Metal. The band’s debut album, 2006’s Thoughts of No Tomorrow, was filled with brutal, technical melodic death metal to be sure but already, “We tried to put our own stamp on it,” the singer assures. While the following year’s Schlacht still contained flourishes of melody, the unrelenting metallic fury reached an extreme peak. “Intensity was very important,” he says, with some degree of understatement.
Where to go for album number three? “We basically rebelled against ourselves,” Eckerström says of 2009’s self-titled collection. “We figured, ‘We can play faster and make even weirder, more technical riffs,’ because Schlacht was cool. But to take that another step would have turned us into something we didn’t want to be.”
Instead Avatar rediscovered their inherent passion for traditional heavy metal and classic rock n’ roll. “We decided to remove some unnecessary ‘look at me, I can play!’ parts and added more groove. We added a whole new kind of melody. It was awesome to be this ‘rock n’ roll band’ for a while. It was refreshing and liberating.”
Black Waltz sees Avatar coming completely full circle, returning to a more aggressive form of heavy metal but incorporating the lessons they learned while jamming on big riffs with album number three. “We finally came to understand what a good groove is all about and what a great fit it was for our sound,” notes Eckerström.
Tracks like the appropriately titled “Ready for the Ride,” the rollicking “Let it Burn” (which dips into some delicious stonerifficness), the anthemic “Smells Like a Freakshow” (a modern day twist of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie) and “Torn Apart” are supercharged with a dynamic range of artistic showmanship on a near cinematic scale and it’s all stitched together by a driving bottom end.
While most European metal acts who dare attempt this level of musicianship, showmanship and attention to detail seem content to toil away in the studio and lock themselves away from the crowds, Avatar have excelled beyond their peers thanks in large part to their continued focus on road work. Careening to and fro on tour busses and airplanes around the world like a marauding troupe of circus performers, Eckerström and his mates (guitarists Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström, bassist Henrik Sandelin and drummer John Alfredsson) have forged the type of musical bond that can only be brought forth from massive amounts of time spent together on the stage, in hotel rooms, in airports and partying at the venue’s bar.
Whether on tour with bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility or Helloween, playing gigantic festivals like Storsjöyra and Sweden Rock Festival or demolishing South by Southwest, playing live is what it all comes down to for this band. “That is the final manifestation of our art,” Eckerström insists. “Of course an album is a piece of art in itself, but mainly it’s a means to reach the higher goal, which is doing these awesome shows. Touring is of the greatest importance.”
“We all just love the pirate’s life,” he admits freely. “Sailing into the city on this tour bus thingy, going to kick some ass, have that party and all the while meeting all of these people, entertaining them, encountering a culture that’s not your own. We love that.”
The want for this type of lifestyle goes back to early childhood fascinations for the good-humored singer. Reading about superheroes, watching Hulk Hogan on TV, getting exposed to Kiss – these were the first ingredients for what Eckerström would go on to create with the guys in Avatar and what has culminated now in Black Waltz.
The frontman promises that Avatar will continue to create, to captivate and to experiment. There’s no definitive endpoint in sight. It’s always about the horizon, the journey itself. “As long as you’re hungry as an artist, there are higher and higher artistic achievements. I love AC/DC and Motorhead and what they’ve established is amazing, but we don’t want to write albums that are kind of like the album before. We want to travel to a new galaxy, so to speak, every time.”
The goal is always to conquer what came before. “That is what stays with you as a mentally healthy musician. Or maybe a mentally deranged one, I’m not sure,” the singer laughs. And part and parcel to that continued evolution will be the ever broadening expansion of the scope of Avatar’s worldwide presentation: Black Waltz and beyond.
“We have great visions of what we want to do and the things we want to give to people on a stage,” Eckerström promises. “These ideas, these visions, they require a huge audience. They require a lot of legroom to be done, so I want to get into those arenas, basically. I know we would do something really magical if we got the chance. This idea is one of those things that really, really keeps us going.”
Red Sun Rising
It all began with a feeling.
Of being alone and wanting to belong.
Of wanting to share that feeling of belonging.
And experience the euphoria of bonding with others.
The feeling became a dream.
To make the most exciting music imaginable.
Music that embraced and celebrated life in all its facets, electrifying and uniting everyone who heard it.
The dream attained reality in major chords pounded out on piano, an unrelenting four-to-the-floor beat, a set of dirty whites, a bloody nose.
And found its voice with these words:
“When it’s time to party, we will party hard.”
It’s safe to say, nobody has partied harder, longer or more fervently than the undisputed King of Partying himself, Andrew W.K.. A one-man music machine possessed of a single-minded, monomaniacal focus to spread a singular message:
That to party is to exist.
And to exist is to party.
This mission he embarked upon in 2001, with the release of his debut single and signature tune “Party Hard,” and has never swerved from since. Released the same year, his debut album I Get Wet, an instant, ageless classic, was a full-throated declaration of that hedonistic intent. Twelve songs, no ballads, delivered at breakneck speed and with maximum intensity from beginning to end. All the bluntness, passion and classicism of rock ‘n’ roll, boiled down and purified to its base elements.
Power. Movement. Melody. Emotion. Noise.
A sound simultaneously life-affirming, enervating and overwhelming.
A sound that obliterates ego and bludgeons self.
As an artist, he seemed to have emerged out of nowhere, fully-formed right out of the box, with an image, a style, and a sense of purpose that set him far apart from his peers. If that seemed to good to be true, then maybe it was. Andrew W.K., the critics opined, was either the savior of music or its biggest fraud. Either deadly serious or an elaborate prank. None of which bothered the fans who took up the mantle of the Andrew W.K. ethos, to live every moment as if it was simultaneously their first and their last. Live shows, backed by a six-piece band of hard-driving musicians, became a collective celebration of unbridled joy that often turned entire dance floors into a giant, whirling circle pit of jostling bodies, with sweat and hair flying, and ended in a mass stage invasion that tore down the boundary between artist and audience.
Two years later came The Wolf, an album that doubled as a manual for self-realization, blending the personal with the philosophical, drawing on the past to forge a path towards the future, then folding back on itself like a Möbius strip, invoking an existence with no beginning, no end, seamless. From this point on, his fans became his friends and allies in a cause undertaken purely for its own sake; an idea explored further in a 2004 MTV series, Your Friend, Andrew W.K., where he offered himself up as cheerleader and life coach, helping others to realize themselves and their dreams.
A third album in 2006, Close Calls With Brick Walls, as ambitious in scope and sound as it was oblique in theme and tone, suggested an artist who seemed to have freed himself from all the restrictions placed upon him, by himself and by others, who had peered into a looking glass and seen… his mirror image, staring back. Everything that he was and everything that he wasn’t, merged into one. A series of reflections arching backwards into infinity. Multiple images of a face with the same forced smile. As if Andrew W.K., the performer, had been replaced by a different person entirely.
The rumors that had persisted since the very beginning of his career, began to multiply and take hold, begging the question: not who is Andrew W.K., but what is Andrew W.K.? A person, a persona, a wig. An entity, a corporation or a symbol. An enigma behind a set of initials.
That question would remain unanswered as, over the next decade, Andrew W.K. adopted a dizzying array of roles that took him into virgin territory for a rock ‘n’ roll musician, establishing a unique place for himself in popular culture, as a ubiquitous celebrity presence, while at the same time calling into question the very nature of that celebrity. Advice columnist, university lecturer, and children’s game show host. Nightclub impresario, talk radio personality and talk show guest. Motivational speaker and cultural ambassador. Performance artist and magician’s assistant. Party philosopher and weatherman. He was all these things and more.
Now, as he readies the release of a brand new album of rock music, his first in over a decade, and prepares to embark on his first full-band tour in five years, Andrew W.K. has come full circle to celebrate a party still raging strong.
A party that is now and forevermore.
Because the party never dies.
“You can join us if you think you’re wild,” Ellie Rowsell sang on “Freazy.” “You can join us if you’re a feral child.”
Many like minds answered the call. Since Wolf Alice’s debut album My Love Is Cool was released back in 2015, they received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance for their Top 10 Alternative single “Moaning Lisa Smile,” were named one of Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need To Know, had several headline tours and performed at major festivals including Coachella and Lollapalooza. That is on top of all of their achievements in their home base of the UK, which include a debut at No. 2 in the UK charts, nominations for the prestigious Mercury Prize and a Brit Award, winning the NME Award for Best Live Band and a campaign that culminated in a Gold certified album. Add to that the mother of all global tours, which saw them crisscross the UK, the US, Australia, Japan and Europe, their song “Silk” appearing on the Trainspotting sequel T2, and being selected to be the musical heart of 24 Hour Party People director Michael Winterbottom’s fictionalized documentary On The Road that premiered at the 2017 SXSW film festival, and that adds up to the sort of success that many young bands must wait years to achieve.
“The past two years were such amazing highs and then really extreme lows that you’ve never encountered before,” says Ellie. “That’s this album.” It’s such disorientating details, miniature epiphanies and tiny apocalypses from an extreme ride and the lull that came after, that make up Wolf Alice’s second record, Visions Of A Life.
It’s the classic story. You slog your ass off to make your debut, you tour like a demon, you hit the heights, you get no sleep. Then, when you finally come off the road, you come home to an empty house. “There’s some extremely concentrated emotional fluctuation,” says bassist Theo Ellis.
Instead of floundering or foundering, Wolf Alice channeled their restless energy into a forward motion. “On the first record maybe we were trying to hold back certain aspects, stylistic things,” says guitarist Joff Oddie. “With this one, we thought ‘we can do what we want.'”
Regrouping in London, they spent intense weeks in the rehearsal room, working out their experiences in a wealth of new material. When it came time to pick someone to help hone it down, a coincidental name popped up. Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has played with the likes of Tori Amos, Nine Inch Nails and Beck, had also worked on Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob, M83’s Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, and Paramore’s After Laughter. Ellie, however, recognized his name from the Raveonettes Pe’Ahi, the only album she’d ever looked up to see who produced it. The rest of the band remembered seeing him play with Beck at Electric Picnic. “We all watched that show and went ‘That’s one of the best shows we’ve ever seen, and that bassist is fucking mad and cool,'” says Theo. “And then somehow we ended up making a record with him, which is a nice bit of the world working its magic.”
Visions Of A Life is packed with surprises for those who think they know what Wolf Alice’s shtick is. A gauntlet is hurled by the exhilarating rage-rush “Yuk Foo,” the first track released from the sophomore album. “You bore me, you bore me to death,” screams Ellie. “Deplore me? No I don’t give a shit.” Who is the “you” being addressed — or perhaps more appropriately, being dressed down — though?
“We wanted to make it open to interpretation, so that anyone who was frustrated at something could have it as their anthem,” says Ellie. She herself was inspired by “being sick and fed up of certain expectations… for me a lot of it is about being a young woman. Even the shit, everyday wolf-whistle thing. As I get older, I feel like ‘Why have I always put up with that?’ When I sing that kind of song, it’s everything that I want to do when that happens.”
It’s a good time, of course, for anthems of anger. “I think almost everyone feels frustrated right now, don’t they?” says Ellie. “And petrified as well,” adds Theo. “I read the news this morning and I was physically scared.”
The band themselves have been doing their bit to do something positive with that frustration and fear. Ellie and Theo set up the Bands For Refugees movement, after the horrors of Europe’s migrant crisis and the lack of compassion shown in many quarters shocked them into action. In the run up to the UK election, the band used their social media to urge young people to make their voice heard. “It’s just growing up and realizing the potential of what you can do with the platform you’ve been given,” says Joff. “I think you have to do everything you can to stay hopeful,” says Ellie. “Nothing gets better if you’re hopeless.”
Though political turmoil seeped into the emotional extremes of Visions Of A Life, it’s fundamentally a personal album, and one of great growth for Wolf Alice.
Helping them through these emotional and sonic leaps was Meldal-Johnsen. Recording at engineer Carlos De La Garza’s Music Friends studio in Eagle Rock, California, he created a safe, collaborative environment for them to grow, but also pushed them further. “He can play and hear notes you don’t even know exist,” says drummer Joel Amey. “He’s working at such a high level that you just wanna try and be on the same level.”
You can hear the results in the swaggering monster-folk-rock of “Sadboy,” offering a buck-up to miseryguts everywhere and of all genders. And their progression and maturity as songwriters is particularly obvious in the beautifully paced, sweet and slow-burning of the single “Don’t Delete The Kisses,” a dizzyingly romantic track that tells of the delicious agony of unspoken love between friends over softly twinkling guitar and a steady rhythm. It’s a sentimental love song for people who didn’t do sentimental love songs until they fell sentimentally, ridiculously in love. “How awful is that, I’m like a teenage girl!” Ellie sings. “I might as well write all over my notebook that you ‘rock my world.’
Intense emotion of a quite different kind pervades “Heavenward,” written about the death of a friend. It’s one of the biggest songs Wolf Alice have ever done, a cloudburst of shoegazey guitar and vaulting vocals (Ellie’s voice here is a much stronger, expressive thing than ever). “I’m gonna celebrate you forever,” Ellie promises. “You taught us things we all should learn.”
Listeners will be surprised, meanwhile, by “Beautifully Unconventional,” a muscularly grooved beast of a track that’s a sister in spirit, if not sound, to Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” It cements Ellie’s reputation as the foremost smasher of whatever pop’s equivalent of the Bechdel test is, following up her ode to young female friendship on “Bros.” “I wrote it about one of my friends,” she says. “My feelings towards her reminded me of the film Heathers, where everyone is a Heather and you find your other non-Heather… a ‘you can be my partner in crime,’ sorta thing.”
You might have noticed the word “friend” comes up a lot in relation to Wolf Alice. More than anything, that’s what these feral children are and what they celebrate. The intensity of success — something that breaks or at least tests many young bands — brought them only closer together.
“It’s a weird thing,” says Theo. “I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying this but we really do spend a lot of time together… we know each other so well, intricately well, more than you would have in marriage. It’s so close that it almost takes on a new state rather than like a relationship or like a friendship. Maybe it’s not very necessarily healthy…”
If it sounds this good, how can it be wrong? Here’s to Wolf Alice, a reason for downhearted feral children to keep faith with the future.
There’s an unspoken edict handed down through the ages when it comes to rock bands: there are no rules.
Nobody picks up a guitar to be constricted or oppressed. It’s all about feeling free artistically. Now, The Sword—John Cronise [vocals, guitar], Kyle Shutt [guitar], Bryan Richie [bass], and Santiago Vela III [drums]—cutout boundaries since day one. Their style never stood predicated on a trend or a template. They always create what feels right and let the results speak for themselves.
When it came time to record the group’s fifth full-length album, High Country [Razor & Tie], Cronise landed at something of a spiritual crossroads. Following the final tour for their critically acclaimed Apocryphon, he holed up in his North Carolina home and eventually began writing new songs. The material began to veer into a different space that at the time Cronise felt was somewhat outside of The Sword’s sphere.
“I didn’t even intend for the demos to be Sword songs,” he explains. “But then I realized that I had taken on a sort of limiting view of what The Sword was, and that wasn’t actually what I wanted it to be. I think the new album is more reflective of the music I listen to and where our heads are at collectively. With each of our albums, it’s become less about fury and bombast and more about trying to write good songs. We realized that our music can go wherever we want it to go. There’s no pre-determined course here now, and there never was.”
High Country became new territory for The Sword, and they began doing things differently. That approach included more attention to backing vocals and harmonies, implementing more synthesizers and percussion elements, and tuning to E-flat instead of all the way down to C. As a result, the guitars stand out as more vital and vibrant than ever.
“I felt like the low tuning had become more of a crutch than a tool,” he says. “It was all a matter of trying to keep things fresh, and not fall prey to habits or expectations. We wanted to break out of any classifications and just putout a good rock record.
”Inspired, the boys headed to Church House Recording Studio in Austin, TX to cut High Country with Adrian Quesadaof Brownout and Grupo Fantasma producing, Stuart Sykes [The White Stripes] engineering, and J. Robbins mixing.Over the course of four weeks, they hammered out the album’s 15 tracks in the old converted church. Thematically though, Cronise’s head was still in North Carolina.
“There are a lot of lyrical themes that run throughout the album,” he explains. “I live out in the mountains, so nature really inspired the whole record. That’s a large part of the lyrics.
”The title track and first single “High Country” springs from a transfixing guitar melody into a sweeping refrain,illuminating the group’s inherent dynamics. Over those rolling riffs, the singer paints a thought-provoking topography.
“That was actually the first song I wrote that ended up going on the record,” he says. “The title can have quite a few meanings. Physically, it might mean mountains and literal high country, but it can also refer to a plane of being; a place of wisdom and enlightenment.”
“Empty Temples” opens with a psychedelic buzz that quickly ramps up into towering guitars and another robustvocal display evocative of rock’s golden age.
“It’s loose and swinging, but it has these epic moments,” says Cronise. “Lyrically, it’s about letting go of the past and moving on. You just have faith if you embrace change and be unafraid, and you’ll find where you need to go.
”The gathering storm of “Early Snow” eventually gives way to a rapturous horn section, another first for the band,while “Mist and Shadow” stirs up a haze of blues that’s instantly thunderous. “That song is based around riffswritten by Bryan, which is a new thing for us. He contributed quite a bit of music to this album, and in many ways it’s our most collaborative work to date.”
Both “The Dreamthieves” and “Tears Like Diamonds” have titles inspired by the work of science fiction author Michael Moorcock, though Cronise insists the lyrics have lives of their own. “I’d prefer to let people interpret the songs how they want,” he says, “which is one reason the lyrics aren’t printed in the album sleeve this time. I think they’re pretty intelligible and accessible, and I didn’t want them to distract from the music.
”The Sword’s impact continues to expand. 2012’s Apocryphon debuted at #17 on the Billboard Top 200, marking their highest entry on the chart. Since first emerging with 2006’s Age of Winters, the group has been extolled by everyone from Rolling Stone and The Washington Post to Revolver and Decibel. Metallica personally chose them as support for a global tour, and they’ve earned high-profile syncs in movies including Jennifer’s Body and Jonas Åkerlund’s Horsemen. However, High Country is the band’s biggest, boldest, and brightest frontier.
“I want to make positive, uplifting music,” Cronise leaves off. “High Country has moments of darkness and thoughtfulness, as anything I write probably will. But at the end of the day I want to put smiles on people’s faces.”
Ever since their inception in 2005, Portland’s RED FANG have strived to write heavy, catchy music underlaid with subtle complexities. Founded by David Sullivan, Maurice Bryan Giles, Aaron Beam, and John Sherman, the band had a distinctive and fully-formed sound right from the start: a mix of compelling rock songwriting and party-hard metal euphoria that speaks to the headbanger, the hesher, and the music student alike. The band’s two-pronged vocal attack and knack for finding the sharpest hooks made sure that the music world caught on right away. Within just one year of RED FANG‘s first show, they were opening for genre stalwarts Big Business and The Melvins, and soon began appearing at festivals including FYF, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Sasquatch Fest, and more.
After the release of their self-titled debut (Sargent House, 2009), RED FANG signed to independent label Relapse Records for the release of their 2011 full-length Murder the Mountains, which hit #25 on the US Top Heatseekers chart and received widespread critical acclaim. RED FANG followed that record up with a slew of dates worldwide, and two years later, released Whales and Leeches, which put the band on the US Billboard charts (at #66) for the first time and garnered praise from outlets ranging from Spin and Metal Injection to Stereogum and Alternative Press. The success of Whales and Leeches even led to a live appearance on Late Show with David Letterman in January 2014.
Additionally, RED FANG have gained renown for their inventive comedic music videos directed by Whitey MConnaughy, several of which have become viral hits. The band’s videos have received more than 10,000,000 views in total. RED FANG have more than made a name for themselves on the live circuit as well. Over the years, they’ve toured with prominent artists such as In Flames, Opeth, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Helmet, and Crowbar, and have appeared at major festivals including Hellfest, Rockstar Mayhem Fest, Wacken, Roadburn, and many others. In their travels, RED FANG have performed across the globe, from North America and South America to Europe, Russia, and Australia.
Now, after three years of vigorously touring the world, the band are ready to return to the stage with their latest and greatest full-length album, Only Ghosts. Produced by the legendary Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, The Cure, Slipknot, and many more) and mixed by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Melvins), Only Ghosts consists of 10 new tracks of the band’s signature, high-impact, hook-filled, hard rock. RED FANG prove once again they are top-notch songwriters who have mastered the heavy anthem without taking themselves too seriously. Only Ghosts is a rock album of incredible magnitude that demands to be played at maximum volume!
Power Trip executes music with raw energy. They’ve trimmed the fat on every reference they pull from – whether that’s Hardcore, Metal or Punk – to make music that actually cuts in 2017. Hailing from Dallas, the band have toured the world relentlessly for years. Their musical proficiency, perfect song structure, rich tones, fierce riffs, delivery and collective attitude has seeded them as one of today’s most prolific acts in any astute or heavy genre. Power Trip boldly surprise their broad fan base by performing alongside less obvious artists – closing the gap that in 2017’s social climate desperately needs to be filled. One month you can catch them playing with Title Fight, Merchandise or Big Freedia, the next you can catch them on a long tour with Napalm Death or Anthrax. They’re a powerful storm of aggression, gaining more and more momentum with true, honest spirit.
Nightmare Logic has taken Power Trip’s classic Exodus-meets-Cro-Mags sound to new places. With hooks and tightness rivaling greats like Pantera or Pentagram and production by the esteemed Arthur Rizk, Nightmare Logic punishes fans not only sonically but with pure songwriting skill. The sophomore release and second on Southern Lord Records, raises the bar and pushes Power Trip to new extremes. Since 2013’s Manifest Decimation, the band admits they’ve not only gotten better at their instruments, but have also reinvented their songwriting process into a more nuanced and clever system. The shift shows on this record and does so without losing any of the aggression so essential to the band.
Gale’s lyrics reflect that aggression by honing in on the devaluation of human life by those who’ve gained power through money and politics. By creating a broad dissection of human suffering above reproach from personal agendas, the lyrics attempt to unify and inspire listeners. Coming from the hardcore world, where every band vaguely fights “the man”, wants to live free and break down the walls, Power Trip noticeably stands out. Instead of skirting around the fetishization of fighting back, Nightmare Logic focuses in on real oppression felt by many all over the world, whether that’s fighting addiction and the pharmaceutical industry (Waiting Around to Die) or right-wing religious conservatives (Crucifixation). Taking cues from Discharge and Crass in Margaret Thatcher’s UK, Nightmare Logic delivers poignant social information directly into those homes engulfed in the sour turn of global politics towards right-wing agendas. Touring the world on Nightmare Logic, Power Trip will play to scenes much further outside the bubble of contemporary underground punk music than any other current band, all while pushing the envelope of the modern punk ethos.
Nightmare Logic hits stores February 24th on Southern Lord Records.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, chances are you’ve heard the phrases ‘man up,’ ‘be a man’ or ‘take it like a man’ at one time or another. We all have. Butcher Babies took that old school goading and transformed it into the inspiration at the core of their second full-length album, Take It Like a Man [Century Media Records].
“We all come from different places and backgrounds, but every member of this band had to fight to be the person he or she is today,” affirms co-vocalist Carla Harvey. “That’s the whole basis for the record. It’s not a gender thing. It’s the inner strength you have to find in order to pull your boots up and keep moving forward, whatever the situation may be.”
The group—Harvey, Heidi Shepherd [co-vocals], Jason Klein [bass], Henry Flury [guitar], and Chris Warner [drums]—literally never stop. For the unfamiliar, Butcher Babies rose up out of the Los Angeles scene by throwing down a blood-soaked live show rife with the fierce theatricality heavy metal had been missing for quite some time.
Their 2013 debut, Goliath, landed at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, while the quintet charged across North America. Night after night, they delivered aggressively unforgettable performances alongside the likes of Marilyn Manson, Danzig, and In This Moment and on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie and Five Finger Death Punch.
Following up this whirlwind of touring, they hunkered down at a Hollywood Hills studio with producer Logan Mader [Gojira, Fear Factory] to cut what would become Take It Like a Man in November 2014. The structured 10am-6pm daily sessions allowed the group to amplify their attack exponentially.
“Goliath was written over a lifetime,” says Shepherd. “We went out to prove something. However, it wasn’t as heavy and thrash-y as we knew we could be. We wanted to embrace that side. We’d been touring for almost four years straight, and we saw what the fans liked. This is more us.”
While penning lyrics, Shepherd and Harvey also opened up like never before. Blatant, brutal, and (sometimes) belligerent honesty was the only rule.“You have to dig to get that emotion out,” sighs Harvey. “Metal heads can sense authenticity. They know when you’re real. Everything we write comes straight from the heart and our own experiences. It’s not cookie cutter bullshit.”
“Many times, Carla and I would be going over ideas together and be on the verge of screaming or crying as we literally extracted feelings we’d suppressed from childhood,” admits Shepherd. “There were a couple of songs that came from really dark places in our respective pasts. We turned those negatives into positives.”
As a result of that cathartic process, the first single “Never Go Back” pairs a bruising riff with the girls’ haunting and hypnotic harmonies as a darkly catchy refrain takes flight. “It’s written for anybody who has had that moment in their lives where they feel like, ‘I’ve been stuck in this place, and I’m finally free of it. I’m never going back!’” declares Shepherd. “You could base it on a relationship, but it could be any bad situation in life you’re finally free of.”
“Gravemaker” begins with an ominous hum before slipping into polyrhythmic assault and battery fueled by the girls’ growls. “That’s an important one,” explains Shepherd. “You go on tour and kids will look up to you like you’re a god. On the inside, you think, ‘We aren’t those people. We have flaws. We have things that will ruin others.’ It reminds everyone we’re normal.”
Elsewhere a delicate clean guitar opens up “Thrown Away,” simultaneously showing Butcher Babies at their most vulnerable and vibrant. “It’s beautiful,” Harvey goes on. “In this lifestyle, you go from city to city like a ghost. You walk through these towns, play shows, make people happy for a small period of time, and you leave like a ghost again. Your whole family is at home, and you’re out on the road. There are moments at night when you feel completely disenchanted and lost.”
At the same time, they find empowerment in the music, literally confronting abandonment and abuse on the searing “Dead Man Walking.” It also ignites the titular line—Take It Like a Man—like an atom bomb. “The lyrical content is so personal for us in different ways, but it’s similar,” says Shepherd. “Carla’s dealt with abandonment from her father, and I dealt with abuse from mine. It’s about how that changed the course of both of our lives. It’s extremely emotional to put ourselves back into those suppressed memories.”
That openness has already turned countless fans into believers. Take It Like a Man espouses an inspiring final word. “We want to coerce feeling,” Shepherd leaves off. “If you’re a musician who does that, you’ve succeeded. We just want to inspire anyone who listens to us—and melt their faces off.”
Texas Hippie Coalition
Rock ‘n’ roll is all about cutting loose. It’s about throwing back a few drinks, raising your hands, banging your head, and living out loud. Texas Hippie Coalition cook up the soundtrack to your “good time” with their fourth full-length album, Ride On [Carved Records]. Their countrified blues riffs simmer with metallic edge, while each chorus ignites a sing-a-long. The Texas quartet—Big Dad Ritch [vocals], John Exall [bass], Cord Pool [guitar], and Timmy Braun [drums]—have formally landed, and they brought the party with them, in more ways than one.
Nobody describes Texas Hippie Coalition better than Big Dad Ritch does. He grins, “It’s like Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top had a child, and Pantera ended up raising it. We’re Red Dirt Metal. That’s a flag we wave high. There wasn’t a line formed for us, so I created a line and jumped to the front of that bad boy. Ride On is the best example of what we do.”
In order to cut this big, bombastic, and ballsy ten-song collection, the boys retreated from their native Denison, TX to Nashville, TN. Hitting the iconic Sound Kitchen Studios, they teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Skidd Mills [Skillet, Saving Abel] for the first time. Cord had only entered the fold in 2013, but he immediately became an integral part of the writing and recording process.
“When we got to Nashville, Cord, Skidd, and I were writing two or three songs a day,” Big Dad Ritch goes on. “We wrote the whole album pretty fast. Skidd’s a great guy, and he’s very easy to work with. My brain fires like lightning. Once an idea hits my head, I’m off and running. Skidd kept up with us. It was one of the fastest albums I’ve ever put together.”
That urgency carries over to the album opener “El Diablo Rojo”. The riff cocks like a shotgun before breaking into a devilishly catchy verse. Big Dad Ritch explains, “When we go down to El Paso, which we like to call ‘Hell Paso’, everybody calls me ‘El Diablo Rojo’. It means ‘Red Devil’. I always loved that, and I knew it needed to be on the album.”
Then, there’s “Rock Ain’t Dead” which begins with a stadium-size stomp refuting Marilyn Manson’s old claim “Rock is Dead”. Big Dad Ritch hilariously contends, “We wanted to make sure people know the state of rock music is not nearly as bad as radio projects it to be. We needed to let y’all know rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead. It’s just been in rehab. There’s no need to recover. Let’s all just stay strung out.”
Crashing between a chunky guitar wallop and big bass thud, “Fire In The Hole” immediately explodes on impact. “With this album, I wanted to make the world know that not only do we exist, but we’re here to take over,” declares the vocalist. “This is me warning you that we’re coming out you like an air raid. We’re here. We’re in your face. We’re going to bomb everybody with some THC. That’s the theme.”
Elsewhere on the record, Texas Hippie Coalition teamed up with longtime collaborator the iconic Bob Marlette [Pink Floyd, Rob Zombie] to co-write “Bottom of a Bottle”, “I Am The End”, “Ride On”, and “Go Pro”. The latter begins with a clean southern verse before breaking into a triumphant bruiser of a refrain. The singer adds, “It’s a big middle-finger-in-the-air song. It lets people know Texas Hippie Coalition isn’t going anywhere. You’ve got your champions, but you’re about to get one more—this band of outlaws.”
At the same time, Big Dad Ritch lyrically opens up on the pensive and powerful title track, which rounds out this roller coaster ride. Beginning with another guitar groundswell, it burns into one final message from the band. “My dad used to always say ‘Ride On’,” he continues. “It’s something special to me. I live by it. If the Lord gives me a bad road, I get on my bike and ride it out. No matter how bad it is, you can always ride on.”
Texas Hippie Coalition continue riding high after three critically acclaimed albums—Pride of Texas , Rollin , and Peacemaker , which debuted in the Top 20 of Billboard’s Top Hard Rock Albums Chart. They’ve left crowds drunk, disorderly, and begging for more everywhere from Rock on the Range and Rocklahoma to the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. Now, they’re coming for you.
“We’re about swigging the whisky, smoking the weed, and letting the women chase us,” Big Dad Ritch leaves off. “When I first started this band, I thought, ‘There’s an appetite for this sort of music. Once I got in front of people, I saw it wasn’t just an appetite. It was a hunger. The masses are starving to death for this kind of music. Who’s eating with me? I’m serving up some good old Texas Barbecue known as THC.”
From the release of their 2010 demo to their 2011 Pressure to Succeed EP, Turnstile have walked a path all their own. A path that has quickly brought them a rabid following based off of their groove driven melodic energies and insane live shows. Having shared the stage with bands like Bane, Trapped Under Ice, Title Fight, Backtrack, and many more, Turnstile have continued to travel and grow. As many attendees to these events can attest, Turnstile is a group that when they play live, no one can sit still. The spirit of Turnstile’s music is constantly creating converts by their vital and overpowering live shows.
The Reaper Records release of the Step 2 Rhythm EP in early 2013 drew from NYHC influences such as Madball and Breakdown, but also delivered a new alternative sound that only added more fuel to this growing fire – now, they’re ready to pour on the gasoline. The release of Turnstile’s first full-length record Nonstop Feeling is going to give fans so much more than they’re anticipating and draw in a whole new wave of maniacs to the Turnstile tribe.
The record was recorded in Baltimore with Brian McTernan (Circa Survive, Hot Water Music, Thrice) at Salad Days studio. Having a personal and musical history with McTernan, they came together to make a record that sounded bigger and louder than anything previous. The bright color scheme represents the idea of raw, unbridled expression, positive or negative, that is delivered in each of the twelve tracks. From the signature artwork to the energy infused tunes, this record creates a vibrant slam of emotion that defines Turnstile more than ever as a band leading their own way.
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown
Stick To Your Guns
From the beginning, the hard rockin’ and hard partyin’ crew have aggressively steered clear of pretentiousness, trends and all manner of poseurdom, throwing down analog-soaked, bottom-heavy tunes and tipping a hat toward the best of the past without sounding like a mere retread or novelty.
Famously described as Sabbath partying with Priest and Grand Funk Railroad, there’s no nonsense in the Fireball camp. The Reverend James A. Rota II (guitar, vocals), Emily J. Burton (guitar), John G. Oreshnick (drums) and recent addition, legendary bassist Scott Reeder (The Obsessed, Kyuss), call ‘em as they see ‘em, refuse to kiss ass and have flown the flag for authenticity for a dozen years.
A clandestine and subversive cadre of true-believers from all walks of life have spread the good word about Fireball Ministry since they relocated from New York City to Hollywood, where the band has mooched a brew or three from the rich and famous without losing themselves or their sound. The list of legendary icons who have invited Fireball Ministry to share their stages reads like a crucial discography of desert island riffs: Dio. Judas Priest. Alice Cooper. Blue Oyster Cult. Uriah Heap. Motorhead. Slayer. Danzig. And the list goes on…
Fireball asked an important question with their debut in 1999: Ou Est La Rock? In 2001 they released an EP on Small Stone, FMEP, enlisting the bass rumblings of Brad Davis (Fu Manchu). Four years later, the rumble rang louder from the underground, with MTV News taking notice of The Second Great Awakening (Nuclear Blast).
Their third album, 2005’s Their Rock Is Not Our Rock (Century Media), was recorded at Dave Grohl’s 606 West studio, and like their previous album, produced by genre legend Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains). The album won the band an appearance on “Last Call with Carson Daly” as well as support slots with CKY, Opeth, Clutch and Bam Margera’s Viva La Bands tour. In 2010 Fireball Minsitry released their self-titled fourth studio album Fireball Ministry, produced by Andrew Alekel (Fu Manchu, Kyng).
As with each stage of their career, Fireball Ministry is determined to define success on their own terms and to forge ahead with lives as free from compromise as possible.
“I don’t want to ever have to make excuses for our band or what we’ve done, ever,” says Rota, without spite or malice in his voice. “If that means that I don’t own four summer homes somewhere and a fleet of classic cars, well then, so be it. I couldn’t live with myself if I ever had to say, ‘There was a point where I totally lost it [creatively], but I sure made a bunch of money doing it.’
“It’s not for us,” he concludes simply. “It never has been. And it never will be.”
The Fever 333
While She Sleeps
While She Sleeps have chosen a fitting way to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band – by becoming totally independent. It’s a bold, impressive and powerful move that both reflects the decade gone by and hints at what the future has to offer. More than that, it demonstrates that age-old cliché is still true today – if you want something done right, do it yourself. Not only did they self fund their new album ‘You Are We’ with the help of their fans through a PledgeMusic campaign, but the band converted an empty warehouse in the heart of their native Sheffield into their own multi-purpose studio. It’s not the first time the band have had their own space – 2010’s debut EP ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ was recorded at a home studio called The Barn – but with this new space, which was built with the band’s own money, they’ve taken things to the next level.
“There’s always been a very DIY aspect to this band,” explains vocalist Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor, “so going it alone a bit more now just reiterates that to everyone. The Barn was a very important place for us – it’s where we grew as friends and it was where we hung out and could be creative – so the idea with this new space is that it gives us a lot more creative space. There’s a studio and live room, and we have space now to achieve what we want to achieve as a band. This place is going to house us for a good few years.” “We’ve all been skint for a while because of this place,” chuckles guitarist Sean Long, “but we’re hoping that it comes into its own. It’s already becoming a space for other bands, too. They can use it as a pre-production space or store their gear here, and it’s constantly busy with people coming here and working. It’s a nice positive space where we can all get creative and be the band we want to be.”
It’s also a place where the band – completed by guitarist/vocalist Mat Welsh, bassist Aaran McKenzie and drummer Adam Savage – aim to break down the barrier even more between themselves and their fan base. As part of the new record’s PledgeMusic campaign, fans were able to head to the studio and take part in the music video for ‘Hurricane’. “That was absolutely crazy,” beams Taylor. “I’m still aching from that! But the special thing is that every kid who came down for the video shoot actually helped make the album happen. And to that extent they made this warehouse capable of living.” “Now more than ever,” adds Long, “our fans know that it’s them making all of this possible for us. The divide between artist and fan is ridiculous, because there are no fans without the artist and there’s no artist without the fans. They go hand in hand together as one absolute thing, and I really like that we can see that in play with what we’ve been doing. It’s very reassuring to see that support right in front of us.”
That’s all the more crucial because of the experiences While She Sleeps have had with the music industry in their decade of existence, not least with previously being on a major label. They’re quick to point out that it’s not been all bad, but that it’s not been all good either, and that it’s their fans who have propelled them through both the good times and the bad. The same is true for their own personal struggles, especially when Taylor had to have surgery on his voice midway through making ‘Brainwashed’. Lesser bands might have given up the fight, but While She Sleeps pushed on through, encouraged by the loyalty, love and devotion of their fans. As much as that’s been made visible thanks to the new warehouse space, it’s also audible on the band’s new record. Made with Carl Bown, who also produced ‘Brainwashed’, its songs are full of as much force, focus and determination as ever. The likes of ‘Hurricane’ and first single ‘Civil Isolation’ continue the band’s trajectory as one of the most inspiring, riotous and important voices in British music today, demonstrating both their continued musical evolution and their incisive social conscience. Yet while these are brutal anthems that paint a vivid picture of a post-Brexit Britain, they stand as both the most universal and most personal songs of the band’s career.
“I feel like these are some of the most powerful and relatable songs that we’ve ever written,” says Taylor. “These songs look at the world as a whole, but it’s also very much about us. We’ve all been through a few ups and downs over the past few years, and I think it’s important for us to express that, because our music is our healing and our therapy. There’s a lot of heartfelt stuff in there from our own personal experiences, but there’s also much more of a global view, too.” “We’re never not going to be singing about worldly issues and politics,” says Long, “because that’s what we do without even trying. But, as Loz says, on this album it’s all housed within very personal ways of dealing with those things. We’re not just screaming about all the problems in the world, we’re screaming about how we feel about those things. I’ve never been more connected to moments in the studio when I’m writing music than I have with this record.”
This album does more than bridge the divide between past and present. It establishes who While She Sleeps really are in unfiltered, grotesque and beautiful glory. It sets them up as their own driving force, as a band who operate on their own terms and conditions and write music the exact same way. It’s a record not just made in spite of the problems and pressures they’ve faced in the past, but one created out of them and brimming with the passion that has always propelled the band and clearly continues to do so a decade on.
“The main thing with While She Sleeps,” says Taylor, “is that we’re digging our own path and the longer we keep working at it, the more people will realise we’re not going anywhere. We’re just going to keep on doing our own thing. And if we can explore new sounds and styles and still sound like us; if we can progress but still hold onto the While She Sleeps sound, then that’s great.” “My mum even likes it,” says Long, laughing, “so I’m very happy.”
In Humor and Sadness, the debut album from ’68, demonstrates the loud beauty of alarming simplicity. A guy bashing his drums, another dude wielding a guitar like a percussive, blunt weapon while howling into a mic somehow manages to sound bigger and brasher than the computerized bombast of every six-piece metal band. A splash of roots, a soulful yearning for mid century Americana and the fiery passion of post punk ferocity rampages over a record of earnestly forceful tracks like a runaway locomotive.
Josh Scogin wasn’t out of elementary school when the Flat Duo Jets laid their first album down on two tracks in a garage. But the scrappy band’s spirit of raw power, punchy delivery, tried-and-true rhythms and urgent sense of immediacy is alive and well in ’68.
Heralded by Alternative Press as one of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums, In Humor and Sadness is a snapshot of a fiery new beginning for one of modern Metalcore’s most celebrated frontmen. Produced by longtime Scogin collaborator Matt Goldman (Underoath, Anberlin, The Devil Wears Prada), the first full offering from ’68 is a broad reaching slab of ambitious showmanship delivered with few tools and fewer pretensions. The scratchy disharmonic pop of Nirvana’s Bleach is in there, for sure. And while many associate the setup with The Black Keys, ’68 is more like Black Keys on crack.
“I wanted it to be as loud and obnoxious as it can be,” Scogin explains. “I want it to be in-your-face. I want people who hear us live to just be like, ‘There’s no way this is just two dudes!’ That became sort of the subplot to our entire existence. ‘How much noise can two guys make?’ It’s obviously very minimalistic, but in other ways, it’s very big. I have as many amps onstage as a five piece band. Michael only has one cymbal and one tom on his kit, but he plays it like it’s some kind of big ‘80s metal drum setup. It’s minimalistic, but it’s also overkill. We get as much as we can from as little as we can.”
Like many pioneers, North Carolina’s the Flat Duo Jet’s blazed a trail for more commercially successful people. They played rootsy rockabilly but with a punk edge. Band leader Dexter Romweber’s solo work was a fist-pounding celebration of audacity and disruption, which influenced the likes of The White Stripes, among other bands.
“I got excited when I thought about the distress, the chaos that this two-piece arrangement would create – one guy having to provide all of these sounds, with a bunch of pedals, with certain chords wigging out and missing notes here and there,” he says with excitement. “That alone makes up for the chaos of having five people up there.”
That idea of less is more, of building something big from something small, persists today at the top of the charts with The Black Keys, just as it’s lived and breathed in the bass-player-less eclectic trio Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the rule-breaking early ‘90s destruction of Washington D.C.’s Nation of Ulysses, and in the two man attack of ’68.
“Jon Spencer’s records always sound like he’s kind of winging it and I love that,” declares Scogin, letting out an affectionate laugh. “In my last band, that’s how we tried to make our last record feel. The excitement and imperfection is something I love to draw from.”
Before paring (and pairing) things down with friend and drummer Michael McClellan, Josh Scogin was the voice, founder and agitprop-style provocateur in The Chariot, who laid waste to convention across a brilliantly unhinged and defiantly unpolished catalog of Noisecore triumphs and dissonant art rock rage. Recorded live in the studio, overdub free, The Chariot’s first album set the tone for a decade to come, owing more to a band like Unsane than whatever passes for “scene.”
Scogin was the original singer for Norma Jean and left an influential imprint on the burgeoning Metalcore of the late 90s that persists today, despite having fronted the band for just one of six albums. Whether it’s the genre-defining heft of Norma Jean’s first album or the five records and stage destroying shows of The Chariot, there’s a single constant at the heart of Josh Scogin’s career: a familiarity with the unfamiliar.
A new Metalcore band would be a safe third act for the subculture lifer, but Scogin isn’t comfortable unless he’s making himself (and his audience) uncomfortable. “I definitely wanted to flip the script a bit,” he freely confesses. “I’ve always wanted to play guitar and sing in a band, ever since I left Norma Jean. I needed the freedom of not having a guitar onstage, but now having done that for several years, I wanted the challenge.”
Creative problem solving has long been the name of the game for Scogin, whether he was hand stamping ALL 30,000 CDs for The Chariot’s Wars and Rumors of Wars album or figuring out how to pull off his ’68 song title concept in the digital age of iTunes. Each song on In Humor and Sadness was to be titled with simply a single letter, which when put together vertically on the back of a vinyl LP or compact disc, would spell out a word. However, it’s problematic to name more than one song with the same letter, which would have been necessary to spell out what he intended.
’68 is the forward thinking progress of an artist who finds satisfaction in the expression of dissatisfaction. There’s progression in this regression. Tear apart all of the elements that have enveloped a singer’s performance, strap a guitar on the guy and set him loose with nothing but a beat behind him? It’s a recipe for inventive, fanciful mayhem.
After a raucous debut at South By Southwest, a full US tour supporting Chiodos and many more road gigs on the horizon, Scogin and McClellan are propelled by the excitement that comes along with the knowledge that ‘68 is truly just getting started.
“We’ve just broken the tip of the iceberg. We’re really just exploring all the different things we can do,” Scogin promises. “I’ll get more pedals, we’re try different auxiliary instruments, whatever – the goal is to challenge ourselves and challenge an audience.”
When nothing is off limits, you can reach your full potential. Toothgrinder realized this fact while making their 2017 full-length, Phantom Amour [Spinefarm Records]. While retaining the slippery schizophrenic spirit that turned them into a critical favorite on 2016’s ‘Nocturnal Masquerade’, the New Jersey quintet – Justin Matthews [vocals], Jason Goss [guitar], Matt Arensdorf [bass], Wills Weller [drums], & Johnuel Hasney [guitar] dramatically augmented their unpredictable creative palette through expanding the grasp on melody, incorporating cinematic electronic flourishes, and even going acoustic, to name a few evolutions. As hypnotic as they are heavy, these thirteen tracks signify “progress” through and through.
“Everybody calls us ‘a progressive metal band,’ but I think the most progressive thing you can do is surprise your audience and keep yourself happy,” says Wills. “I feel like that’s exactly what we’re doing here. From jazz and classic rock to metal and experimental, everybody brings different flavors to the table. Then, we pour them into the same pot. That’s Toothgrinder in a nutshell.”
It’s also why the band quietly made a palpable impact with Nocturnal Masquerade. As Revolver dubbed them “A Band to Watch,” it earned acclaim from AXS, Metalsucks, New Noise, Metal Hammer, The Aquarian and more as the single “Diamonds for Gold” [feat. Spencer Sotelo of Periphery] generated over 300K YouTube/VEVO views and “Blue” cracked 384K Spotify streams.
Unpredictability drives progression.
When art can’t be pigeonholed or pinned down, it elevates the very medium itself. Bad Wolves thrives on that sort of unpredictability, standing confidently at a crossroads between anthemic hard rock infectiousness and thought-provoking technically-charged heavy metal. Think a cross between the mind-numbing musical malevolence of Meshuggah and Sevendust’s timeless irresistibility, and you’re halfway there…The vision of ex-DevilDriver co-founder and previous driving force John Boecklin [drums, guitars] and vocalist Tommy Vext [Snot, Westfield Massacre] as well as Doc Coyle [guitar], Chris Cain [guitar], and Kyle Konkiel, the group’s full-length debut represents metallic evolution in its purest form.
The result of a musical journey he kicked off in 2014, Boecklin describes the style best.
“We sound like a heavy-slightly prog rock band that tunes low and cuts off most of the fat,” he explains. “Watching Faith No More on the reunion tour made my thought process change. I was standing there, and it hit me that I don’t want to be in a metal band with screaming all the time. We’re heavy, yet from track-to-track, things change quite a bit.”
“More was revealed, so more was required,” adds Vext. “The overall tonality and approach resonated with me as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a vocalist. I was given a platform to tap into some musical influences I hadn’t yet explored in previous bands. All in all, it was some of the most diverse, original material I’ve gotten to wrap my hands around.”
“In no rush to put together something reminiscent of [his] musical past,” Boecklin quietly wrote over the course of 2015. During summer ‘16, he entered Audio Hammer Studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis [Trivium, All That Remains] and tracked what would become the group’s debut album.
“Starting from scratch is never easy,” admits Boecklin. “Many musical roads were traveled before getting to what you hear today—it’s trial and error. I kept reminding myself not to do what I’ve done before. Eventually, we started to hear what we wanted.”
Now, the first single “Learn To Live” snaps from a chugging polyrhythmic riff into a hummable bridge before colliding with an undeniable refrain that’s impossible to shake and the final scream, “You’d better learn to fucking live.”
“The aim of the song was to basically challenge listeners to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to take personal responsibility for my own happiness?’,” says Vext. “It’s a concept I use in my day-to-day life as a sober life coach. It’s meant to address situational depression, anxiety, and the disconnect from interpersonal relationships as a byproduct of social media addiction.”
Album opener “A Toast To The Ghosts” delivers a searing gut-punch punctuated by sharp succinct fretwork, smart-bomb precise percussion, and another searing vocal performance. Everything culminates on the pensive and punishing “Blood and Bones.” Vext adds, “It’s like an open letter to an abusive relationship partner that no longer serves you or the opposing counterpart. It’s left open to interpretation.”
Defined by a push-and-pull between incalculable instrumentation and soaring melodies, Bad Wolves will keep listeners guessing and thinking on their path to hard rock and metal supremacy.
“This is something new for me,” Boecklin leaves off. “It’s the most unique drumming I’ve ever done. Tommy has never sounded so good. The songs are much more diverse than anything from our collective past. I’d love for people to take away some sort of connection emotionally. That’s what all of the bands who inspire me do. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”
It started with a homemade computer. Filled with dust and dirty beats, the machine hadn’t connected to the Internet since Silicon Valley was a private practice in Beverly Hills. Yet from it emerged Spirit Animal: a chaotic combination of rock and pop, fueled by the unruly aesthetics of psych and funk.
Explosive singer Steve Cooper, drummer Ronen Evron, bassist Paul Michel, and guitarist Cal Stamp created a stir with their debut EP, ‘This Is A Test,’ and a pair of tracks — “The Black Jack White” (which surpassed 1 million spins on Spotify) and “BST FRNDS” — that appeared on mtvU. While hype rolls in from Interview, Entertainment Weekly, Earmilk, and Consequence of Sound, the band returns with ‘World War IV’ via Wind-up Records, set for 2016 release.
“It’s like…much bigger,” Cooper says of the forthcoming release. Spirit Animal has re-imagined its sound with body-rocking riffs and contagious choruses that burst at the seams. “Everything that was wild is more wild. Everything that was heavy is heavier.” The ultimate message, however, still serves the same purpose: to bring the party to the people. “It’s always supposed to feel good,” Cooper adds. “It’s always moving towards euphoria.”
Drawing on a range of early rap and trip-hop influences — think Tricky, Outkast, El-P — and the songwriting of greats like the Talking Heads and Tom Petty, Spirit Animal tears apart what you know and love about your favorite style and rearranges the pieces. Their new track, “Regular World,” kicks off with soaring “ooh’s” and a poignant funk verse before crashing into a climactic chorus that celebrates our insatiable thirst for the not-so-regular. “It’s the plotting and scheming for the next thing — and doing everything in your power to get it — that inspires us,” says Cooper.
Spirit Animal is a dish best served live, with the boys flashing moves like Jagger that demand audience participation. The arena-ready antics of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the personality of James Brown, and the modern pop charm of The 1975 combine to make your inhibitions disappear quicker than ten tequilas.
“Big Bad Road Dog,” another ‘World War IV’ standout, sums up Spirit Animal to a tee, painting the picture of a nebulous force that leaves a fun-fest of destruction in its wake. You don’t know whether to run for your life or try to hitch a ride. We suggest you do the latter.
A gritty howl opens Joyous Wolf’s upcoming debut LP, Enigma, and it’s the perfect introduction since the band plays rock & roll at its most primal and passionate. Guitarist Blake Allard’s bluesy riffs harken back to the classic hard rock of AC/DC, Cream and Deep Purple while still packing a thoroughly modern wallop, while front man Nick Reese’s voice seems to come from deep in his gut as he sings about everything from warring kingdoms to a tribute to a fallen friend. Together, with bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro, Joyous Wolf’s members work together to create some of the most exciting, promising and unwieldy back-to-basics rock to come out of Southern California in recent years.
. Whether nimbly navigating the swaggering, powerful groove of their go-to concert opener, “Mountain Man,” or digging into their instruments for a jammy, funky guitar solo “Major Headthrob,” the group has an unpredictable quality – a sort of unique freedom within rock & roll – that makes Enigma compelling. Part of the credit for this goes to producer Val Garay (Santana, Neil Diamond, Reel Big Fish) who came aboard at the last minute to help them achieve the record’s raw sound, whi
aptures how Joyous Wolf sound live. But mostly, the electric feeling that defines Enigma is just something in the band’s DNA.
“When I’m playing rock & roll, it’s the only time where I feel indestructible,” Reese says. “When I heard Elvis sing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ for the first time, I knew exactly what my heart wanted and what I wanted.”
“I think people are starting to realize the overproduction and fakeness of pop music, which is why rock is coming back,” Allard says. “We love being a rock band.” Joyous Wolf formed in November 2014, but their roots stretch back to sixth grade when Reese first crossed paths with Sodaro by fate – they had to assemble next to each other because their names were alphabetically side-by-side. Reese recalls a middle-school battle of the bands where neither he nor Sodaro were playing, but Reese declared that one day he was going to be “the best singer ever” and that Sodaro would play drums. It would take a few years, but after stints where both musicians duked it out playing in punk and alternative bands (“all of that crap,” Reese adds) they fulfilled Reese’s prophecy. The singer drafted Allard, whom he’d met randomly in the acoustic room at a Guitar Center when the two jammed on CCR’s “Born on the Bayou,” and Sodaro brought in his high-school friend Braccio to play bass.
Before long, the quartet was jamming in Sodaro’s folks’ garage, annoying the neighbors and entertaining the local authorities. “Once on Halloween, we were rehearsing at 11 p.m. writing songs, and we faced Nick’s monitors out the window toward a canyon full of houses,” Allard recalls. “Then we saw this car at the front gate, and it’s the sheriff. He comes into the practice room and goes, ‘Hey guys, I hate to shut you down because it sounds really good, but we got a complaint from across the canyon that it was too loud.’ We still practice but not like that anymore.”
One of the first songs they played together was “Sleep Weep Stomp,” Enigma’s slow-burning, sludgy blues burner. It’s the style of music that Reese feels closest to. “I’m a blues singer, 100 percent,” he says. “That’s my everything.” The singer grew up on blues, jazz and Fifties rock & roll. “When my dad showed me Elvis, that was the end of it,” he says. “I needed to hear every artist that inspired Elvis and then the people who inspired them. Suddenly I had a record collection. It all felt natural: B.B. King made me want to scream my pains away. You hear all these people and you want to express all the things you love. I don’t care if people think it’s old or not current. It doesn’t matter to me.” By his own estimation, he didn’t hear anything “current” until he was 13 and borrowed his sister’s Discman only to hear the Strokes’ “Is This It”. Similarly, Allard was raised on classic rock. “My dad taught me my first song ever, ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ by Cream,” he says. “I always went back to that kind of old blues-rock music. Even if I was into metal or hard rock, I always went back to the classics like B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.”
These influences shine through on Enigma. “Killing the Messenger” begins with some crushing classic heavy-metal riffs before giving way to a boogieing verse riff where Sodaro and Braccio can bash out their rhythms freely while Reese yowls a tale about two warring kingdoms, and how an evil monarch tricks one of his most popular subjects into delivering a nasty message to the other kingdom only so he would be executed. Reese says the moral Is “life isn’t fair and it isn’t always a happy ending.” The beat-heavy “Mountain Man,” whose lyrics lambaste one of Reese’s former less-than-refined coworkers at a coffee shop, whom the singer says claimed he could “carve a knife out of the tree,” began with a guitar riff that was so forceful that the band couldn’t deny its power. “He had this little riff and we were laughing because it was so stupid-simple,” Reese says. “And it is. It’s our quote-unquote ‘dumbest song,’ but when we used it to open at the Viper Room, the audience response became one of our staple songs.”
The band is also able to channel more somber tones. The acoustic “Remember By” showcases thoughtful performances by both Allard and Reese, who wrote the song in tribute to a friend of his who had taken his own life. It came from a moment of pure inspiration. “I recorded us when we were fooling around, and it was perfect,” Reese says. “I pushed for us to record that song so hard. I said, ‘Please do it exactly like you did it. Please.’ That was me saying goodbye.”After they put out their Daisy EP in late 2015, it took the band about two years total to fine-tune and perfect Enigma. And while songwriting was a big chunk of that (the ominous riff for “Turning Blue” took them six months to perfect), they went through several passes of mixing and mastering it to get it to sound like it does. When Garay finally came aboard, they were able to establish the right mixture of nuance and directness. “It’s so much more animal,” Reese says, using the perfect adjective, to describe the way Enigma turned out. That “animal” sound has earned Joyous Wolf some notable gigs, including performances at L.A.’s famed Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room and the Regent Theater, where they recently opened for Eagles of Death Metal. Now they’re ready to move on to even bigger stages. “When we play a show, we go out and we kick ass,” Reese says, sounding confident. “We’re headhunters”. Head hunting on the road will now be even easier, with their upcoming record Enigma, an album that demonstrates what Reese calls Joyous Wolf’s “mojo.”
He Is Legend
Belief can be a powerful thing. When shared even among a small group, possibilities remain endless.
That brings us to He Is Legend’s fifth full-length offering, few [Spinefarm Records]. The communal faith belonging to a cadre of musicians, artists, and fans brought the collection to life. That’s why the title, a nod to Madame Helena Blavatsky’s occult treasure The Voice of the Silence, feels so cosmically apropos for the Wilmington, NC quartet—Schuylar Croom [vocals], Adam Tanbouz [lead guitar], Matty Williams [bass], and Denis Desloge [guitar].
“This is dedicated to the people who supported us through everything,” declares Croom. “I was inspired by the words of Helena Blavatsky. She’s basically the godmother of the occult, and she dedicated one of her books to the few. Basically, that means the few that follow the way. I thought it was very fitting for what we do. It took just a few artists and a few thousand of our fans to come through and say, ‘Fuck yeah, we want you to do another record.’ We left it up to them.”
In 2015, He Is Legend wrapped up a marathon tour cycle for 2014’s triumphant Heavy Fruit with the likes of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and Wilson. As songs like “This Will Never Work” cracked 370K Spotify streams, Heavy Fruit elevated the group to a new plateau with acclaim from Alternative Press, Revolver Magazine, L.A. Music Blog, New Noise, Ultimate Guitar, and many more.
Returning home, the boys allowed their audience to make a decision on what would become album number five…
“We started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo,” Croom goes on. “If we met the goal, we’d do it. If not, we wouldn’t. It was all or nothing. The response was pretty overwhelming. We found new life, energy, and creativity in this as a result.”
With unique incentives like smoking jackets, amulets, and action figures, He Is Legend impressively raised 124% of their goal. During December 2015, the band retreated to a remote cabin in Carrboro, NC just 20 minutes from Warrior Sound: the studio where they cut both Heavy Fruit and It Hates You. The snowy setting and isolation instigated inspiration within Croom.
“The cabin was really pivotal for us,” he says. “There was no cell phone service. The couple that owned it had dogs and cats roaming free. It’s this nice place literally in the middle of nowhere. Rather than turning on the TV at night, we’d be sitting around a fire to stay warm drinking wine. It brought an element of darkness out of me. I was in a strange place, dealing with some personal and family issues. I channeled that as I was stuck in the snow lonely.
There was this longing for summer. In my eyes, the cabin had more to do with this music than we would readily admit.”
This time around, the guys produced few with Warrior Sound owner Al Jacobs. They amplified every element of their signature style. Summoning ghosts of White Zombie, Soundgarden, and Nirvana, the riffs hit harder, the lyrics cut deeper, and the rhythms stick longer.
“We tried to go for a minimalist approach,” he goes on. “We wanted to focus on all of the aspects we’ve ever brought to the table. There was a lot of anger and hostility in the music. That mainly came out of us redefining what we used to do really well. Our sound has changed a lot over the years, but that’s important for us to grow. Our fans expect us to morph a little. There’s a little bit of all our previous records in this.”
few takes flight on the hypnotic guitars and haunting harmonies of opener “Air Raid.” It quickly blasts off into a gut-punching slam and powerful chant, “I don’t know why she’s out of breath at the door of death.”
“‘Air Raid’ hits you like the fucking end of the world,” he exclaims. “It’s pretty self-explanatory as far as the lyrics go. It’s about how the earth wants humans to be gone. We’re a fucking cancer. It could shake us off like a dog shakes off flees. It’s as political as I’ve ever gotten.”
“Sand” snaps into a barrage of distortion and percussion before slipping into one of the set’s most unforgettable choruses. “It’s the shortest song,” he continues. “It’s a banger that gets in and gets out. Lyrically, it’s about personal issues in my life I’ve been facing for a while.”
Elsewhere, the psychedelic elegance of “Gold Dust” unlocks another facet of the fours-piece. “That might be my favorite song,” he admits. “There’s always one song that pushes where we are and shows where we could go next—or might not ever go again. I used a lot of imagery from a story that a friend told me. He ate mushrooms and had a spiritual awakening. I wrote from his experience and weaved some of my own into it. It’s about trying to see again what you’ve seen when you’re under the influence.”
Completing the album, He Is Legend found the right partner for release in Spinefarm Records. Now, few are about to become many in 2017.
“I want fans to feel like this album is theirs since they were ultimately responsible for it,” Croom leaves off. “We had to make it perfect for them. It’s important for us to hug them and say thank you as much as possible. We accomplished something great through having a cult following that wanted us to continue. I think it’s important for people to know that and see this came to life because of them.”
PALAYE ROYALE is a FASHION ART ROCK BAND. Toronto, Canadian born Palaye Royale members are Remington Leith (lead singer), Sebas?an Danzig (guitar-organist) and Emerson BarreB (drums) whom are brothers from Las Vegas they are set apart by their arNstry & integrity. They are “indie” in every sense of the word; completely “hands–on” from their words & musical arrangements as well as direcNng & producing their own music videos, to handling their own social media. The band’s look, feel and authenNc style makes them stand out while they remain true and pure to their music. Palaye Royale’s musical output is primarily based around the rock genre, with some classical influences and bring their theatrically charged fashion-forward art rock to life in vivid and vibrant Technicolor.
Palaye Royale made history being the first unsigned band ever to win a fan voted MTV Award. Their fans “Soldiers Of The Royal Council” voted around the clock beaNng out bands like Coldplay, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars and Tokio Hotel. The bands first radio single is on the American Music Charts “Get Higher” is this week at #43 … no wonder the song is climbing the radio charts as it was the song that launched Samsung’s global commercial Campaign. Palaye Royale received their first AlternaNve Press APMA nominaNon of being the “Best Underground Band”.
Palaye Royale enNre Boom Boom Room , Side A record is in the Iconic Rock n Roll movie “American Satan” coming out in October on Friday the 13th, 2017. Remington Leith’s one of a kind rock vocals are featured in all songs that Andy Black’s (from Black Veil Brides) character lip syncs to throughout the movie..
The band is currently on the road touring naNonally to support their debut record “Boom Boom Room , Side A” Palaye Royale has played over 330 shows , while successfully doing sold out VIP acousNc experiences for fans prior to their show daily.
Shooting guns, setting fires and shaking shacks with halfstacks make for the type of nights that separate the men from the boys and THE WILD! from the other 99% of what some people are calling rock’n’roll these days. Anybody who’s ever been told to turn it down, clean it up or to go home lives inside of what the God Damn Wild Boys are all about. Driven by long, hard nights, the love of playing music, rural roots, and a nobullshit mentality, THE WILD! play the soundtrack for freedom seeking renegades & real deal rock’n’rollers alike.
Meet THE WILD!
On vocals/lead guitar, DYLAN VILLAIN embodies all of the reckless abandon and goodnatured devilish charm that could only be born in a very small backwoods community. Counterbalancing VILLAIN’s snakebite rasp is bassist/vocalist BOOZUS. Beer drinkin’, beard havin’ & flyfishin’ are his favourite past times.
Kickin’ ass & keeping time is drummer REESE LIGHTNING. A beast with beats & everyone’s favourite asshole. You’ll love him! Rounding out THE WILD!’s lineup is “The Kid” on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Young blood. A goddamn firecracker. What The Kid lacks in age, he makes up in heart.
“I feel like for every thousand bands that are out there right now you’ll get maybe ten that believe the things they’re singing about, which is the most important thing to me in any genre,” says VILLAIN. “I don’t give a shit what kind of music you play. If you care about it then really give yourself to that moment. Our fans aren’t stupid and I think they want something they can feel is real.”
In 2014, the band’s music video for their first single “Road House” went viral on Youtube which led to notable airplay at rock radio in Canada. The song made a big dent at radio for a completely independant band, landing in the TOP 30 rock chart. Later that summer, THE WILD! hit the road playing alongside of bands like Korn, Rise Against, Monster Truck, The Glorious Sons and One Bad Son.
All of this momentum lead to the band signing a deal with eOne Music Canada. The label was so excited about The Wild! that contracts were signed before they’d even had a chance to see the band live. The band’s reputation for being one the best up and coming live acts in Canada had preceded them.
So…What do they sound like?
Take the gritty authenticity of the Delta Blues and speed it up with reckless punk rock attitude. Now roll that into a southern rock cigarette. You feelin’ that yet? Throw that shit into 5th and tighten your grip around the neck of your electric guitar. That’s rock’n’roll. That’s THE WILD!
That’s exactly what THE WILD! gets up to on their debut release, ‘GxDxWxB’’, which stands for ‘God Damn Wild Boys’. Produced by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Jimmy Page, Van Halen) at a pair of legendary studios (Warehouse/Armoury) in Vancouver, ‘GxDxWxB’ summons all the unbridled howls, raw melodicism, streetwise attitude & aggression from all the influences and vices that make THE WILD! who they are.
“Even underneath the loud guitars you can hear the love for the blues in our songs,” declares vocalist/lead guitarist DYLAN VILLAIN.
‘GxDxWxB’ came out swinging, with the first single “Party ‘Til You’re Dead” released in support of a massive Canadian Tour supporting Buckcherry..
In April of 2015, the band released their second single “Slow Burn”. Canada’s Rock Programmers proudly put the song into heavy rotation sending it all the way up to #5 on the active rock chart. “Slow Burn” and THE WILD! remained in the Top 10 for ten weeks resulting in a nomination for “Best New Rock Band” at The 2015 Canadian Radio Music Awards.
In the Fall of 2015, The Wild! were on the road supporting their EP ‘GxDxWxB’ with bands such as Godsmack and Buckcherry. At this point the band had just signed a deal with eOne Music US making them the first Canadian band to sign globally with eOne via the label’s New York office.
“We’ve generated a lot of interest in rock’n’roll here in Canada,” says DYLAN VILLAIN. “And now we’re looking forward to sharing our sound with the rest of the world. We’re doing exactly what we wanted to do with this band. There’s a lot of bands out there that try to do this or that, but we don’t try anything. We do things.”
In February of 2017, The Wild! released their first fulllength, Wild At Heart, via Entertainment One. Teaming up once again with longtime friend and producer, Mike Fraser (this time coproducing with Dylan Villain), the album was met by rave reviews from press all over the world (Revolver, Alternative Press and Classic Rock Magazine included). Upon release, it knocked Metallica out of the No. 2 spot on the iTunes Rock Charts, and the first single “Ready To Roll” shot up to No. 5 on the Active Rock Charts in Canada. This success led the band to two backtoback North American tours, first supporting Airbourne and then Sebastian Bach/Buckcherry. The Wild! has since partnered with the European label SPV(Germany) and in November 2017, the band makes their way overseas for their first UK Tour, again supporting Airbourne. In 2018, they will continue to tour internationally, bringing their highenergy rock’n’roll show to fans all over the world. Catch them in a city near you!
THEM EVILS are a late-night joyride through rock and roll’s seedy underbelly. Born in the shadows of neon vice and nocturnal living in Las Vegas, nurtured by the proximity of Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip, and cradled in the same Orange County, CA home that has become synonymous to punk attitude and hard-driving rock history, the leather-and-black clad trio pen unapologetic songs that bristle with a nasty energy befitting their name.
Inspired by equal parts of rock giants like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Queens Of The Stone Age, among others, guitarist/vocalist Jordan Griffin, bassist Jake Massanari and drummer David Delaney pay tribute to their roots with every crushing note on their latest self titled EP, a 4-song homage to the unholy goodness that is THEM EVILS.
“We pretty much made our own scene,” Griffin says. “We started out doing straight up rock and roll, and that’s what we’re still doing… that said, we’re always evolving.”
Griffin and Massanari moved to Orange County, CA from Las Vegas in 2013, with nothing else to fall back on. It was there they met Delaney – the final piece of the THEM EVILS puzzle they’d been trying to complete for years. Two EPs later (their self-titled release and the lineup’s Cold Black Love debut) they are set to embark on their longest tour to date, which includes a fall headlining jaunt set to run directly into a full tour in support of The Pretty Reckless.
Buckle up, this is gonna be one hell of a ride…