Demons Behind Me
Live Auditions for Season 2 of the Demons Behind Me Podcast
Demons Behind Me is a message designed to inspire anyone who has or is working to overcome an obstacle in their life, and we exist to motivate them to continue to achieve their goals. The Demons Behind Me Podcast offers a chance for people to speak with the owners of Demons Behind Me, Jim Thelen, Chris Richardson, and Paul Phillips (Former Lead Guitar of Puddle of Mudd, Rev Theory, & Operator) to share their story of triumph over a hardship they have encountered. By sharing these stories, our hope is that our listeners who may be going through something similar, understand that they are not alone and the Demons Behind Me Community exists to support them. Share your story live with Demons Behind Me at Welcome to Rockville, or simply visit if you are looking for any type of support.
Meet the owners of Demons Behind Me at Welcome to Rockville and join their community. To learn more visit demonsbehindme.com and listen to Season 1 of the Demons Behind Me Podcast at the Demons Behind Me YouTube Channel.
The Crystal Method
For more than two decades, The Crystal Method has remained at the forefront of the worldwide dance music industry as pioneers of the big beat genre, innovators of the ‘90s electronica movement and current-day global ambassadors of the American electronic sound. Originally formed as a duo, alongside now-retired founding member Ken Jordan, The Crystal Method today lives and breathes as a solo act, with co-founder and originator Scott Kirkland at the helm. And with the artistic reboot comes the next chapter in The Crystal Method timeline: The Trip Home, out September 14 on the band’s own Tiny E Records.
As the sixth full-length The Crystal Method album and Kirkland’s first as a newfound solo act, The Trip Home serves as the creative rebirth of the brand. An artistic manifesto and love letter to the electronic world, The Trip Home welcomes Kirkland at the driver’s seat with full control of the reins.
The Trip Home is co-produced with veteran producer/remixer/composer Glen Nicholls, who has worked with legendary artists like The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, Sia and UNKLE, among many others, in addition to scoring several of his own feature films.
For the new album, Kirkland dove deep into the decades-spanning discography of The Crystal Method. The result is a sound that revisits the roots of the classic Crystal Method aesthetic, while pushing its possibilities into the future. Equal parts throwback and dynamic futurism, The Trip Home expands Kirkland’s unrestrained curiosity into new realms and new sounds.
To perfect this fine balance, Kirkland took a back-to-basics approach, which saw him firing up his arsenal of analog synths and reconnecting with his collection of vintage gear. The lead single “Holy Arp” captures this calculated formula perfectly: A brooding intro of darkly tinged bleeps and bloops slowly builds the song’s tension before it pours into a bed of chunky synths, distorted reverb and alien sounds. Its minimal, vocal-less melody allows space for the synths to expand and reach a high peak before disintegrating into the ether.
It was “Holy Arp” that gave Kirkland the first flashes of the cohesive sound that would shape The Trip Home.
“As soon as I got that track going, I knew I had found the direction for the new album,” Kirkland says. “It reverberates with the sound of Crystal Method classics like ‘Name of the Game’ and has some of the gnarliness of ‘Vapor Trail.’ It’s an angry, ballsy, bombastic trip down the inner workings of the vintage ARP 2600 synth.”
Elsewhere, the emotional ballad “Ghost in the City”—co-produced with electronic artist/producer Le Castle Vania—is a narrative-driven electronic dream that floats through dark clouds and shredding guitars, while singer-songwriter Amy Kirkpatrick delivers an angelic and touching vocal performance. “The Raze,” also produced alongside Le Castle Vania, is a mind trip through thick and heavy synths that unfurls with cinematic, dark drama.
“It was great to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dylan (Le Castle Vania) again on two tracks from the new album,” Kirkland says.
“There’s a Difference,” a reimagining of the track “Difference” off The Crystal Method’s 2014 self-titled album, is a full-on aalt-rockhybrid that mixes melodic electronics, pulsing bass via Tony Buchen (The Griswolds, Boyzone), punching live drums from Grammy winner Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, The Wallflowers, Fiona Apple) and riveting vocals from singer Franky Perez (Apocalyptica, Slash). “Distance” is both cinematic and theatrical as it reaches toward progressive crossover territory in its delivery of chainsaw guitars, electronic atmospherics and operatic vocals care of Delila Paz and Gavin McDevitt of Teflon Sega.
Collectively, The Trip Home pieces together the fundamentals of The Crystal Method’s storied past while adding new, unexplored elements for a cohesive, unique sonic experience that’s as diverse in sound and style as it is anthemic and driving.
“I wanted to create a concept album of sorts,” Kirkland says, “a project that speaks to what’s going on in my life right now and a vision that also brings The Crystal Method sound forward and shapes it in a new way. I’ve been enjoying the idea of making an album like our debut album Vegas, where every song is different. Every song has a different BPM, every song has different emotions, every song has different elements.”
The Trip Home a lso serves as Kirkland’s message and reaction to the grandiose excess of today’s EDM scene. Where the genre constantly offers tired and recycled noise, Kirkland answers with an album built on organic sounds, a wide emotional range and, ultimately, real music.
Forged from analog synths, recorded through vintage Moog and Electro-Harmonix pedals and mixed through Sound City’s Neve console—not the same one used on Nevermind; Dave Grohl has that one—The Trip Home is a warm embrace of organic
electronic music. The natural noise of analog gear is part of the sound. “I’m always looking for just the right amount of wrong,” Kirkland says. “I’m really proud of all the collaborations and incredibly talented artists who contributed to The Trip Home. I wanted to make a timeless album that sounded great and that conveyed an emotional narrative and a strong appreciation of the album format.”
The Trip Home will be released as The Crystal Method celebrates two massive milestones in 2018: 25 years on the music scene and the 21st anniversary of Vegas, the band’s debut studio album. Released in the pivotal year of 1997, Vegas has since become one of the essential building blocks of the American electronic music canon. As the second-ever platinum electronic album in the US, Vegas is one of the top-selling albums worldwide by an American electronic artist ever; it can be found on iTunes’ electronic music album top 20 chart to this day.
The Trip Home is the latest installment in The Crystal Method’s lauded discography, which also includes Tweekend (2001); Legion of Boom (2004) and Divided by Night (2009), both of which received Grammy nominations in the Best Electronic/Dance Album category; and The Crystal Method (2014). The Crystal Method has also released two mix albums under the Community Service banner, in 2002 and 2005, and was the first group to participate in Nike’s music series specifically designed for running and working out via their Drive: Nike + Original Run mix compilation in 2006. As The Crystal Method, Kirkland’s music and creative output also extends into film and TV, where his credits include: the theme song for hit Fox TV show Bones; the score for indie film London; and composing all of the music for the J. J.-Abrams-executive-produced Fox TV drama Almost Human. Most recently, Kirkland wrote his first-ever original film score for the 2017 documentary Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows, Into the Spotlight and wrote the theme song for 3 Below, an upcoming TV series from Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, which debuts on Netflix this fall.
With The Trip Home in tow, Kirkland is also exploring new waters as a solo-performing artist, which now sees him re-envisioning The Crystal Method live and DJ shows as a one-man band. He’s kept a busy touring schedule since 2017, which saw him clock in over 60 shows across the US, Asia and Canada, including several support slots with TOOL. In 2018, he headlined his own solo tours across North America and performed at the 20th anniversary of the globally renowned Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Last November, he also performed at the League of Legends Live concert in Beijing, China, in front of tens of thousands of die-hard attendees and millions more online via the event’s official livestream.
“The Trip Home r efers to my long journey: all these places where I’ve been able to go, the experiences that come with it, the distances I’ve traveled,” Kirkland reflects. “It’s the journey back to all the things that got me here—the touring, the music, the fans—and keep me here. But there’s always home. At the end of it, I go home to my family, I go home to my studio, and then I go back out. It’s a circle. I tried to capture all this in an album.”
Through our dedication to the craft of smoking meats, great recipes, and humble, attentive customer service, Eli’s BBQ has become an institution. Everyone can enjoy our delicious pulled pork, smoked turkey and our specialty loaded all beef smoked hot dogs.
Comfort food at its best, Cheese Louise offers gourmet grilled cheese melts and Mac n Cheese bowls. Build your own with toppings including jalapeños, fried chicken, bacon and more!
An All Natural sweet Shoppe, get your sweet tooth going with cotton candy, Ice cream, chocolates, caramels and much much more!
Master of Patties
These Gastro pub style patties are piled high with all the favorites. Try a Moink Burger with ground beef, Cheddar Cheese and Pulled Pork drenched in homemade BBQ sauce.
Hot, ready to eat Tater Tots, smothered in melted cheeses, bacon, and chili. Enough said. Build-Your-Own Tots with an array of savory and spicy toppings!
Featuring festival favorites like Philly cheese steaks, giant burgers, gourmet sausages and much more.
At Classic Home Cookin, you’ll find all of your favorite traditional festival foods. Enjoy their hand-breaded corn dogs or chicken tenders a la carte, or with a pile of fresh-cut fries. For somethin’ sweeter, try their Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake topped with powdered sugar.
Giant Burritos, Wraps, Greek Pitas – these are the best it gets when you hit the Strawberry Fields booth. With healthy salads and vegetarian options, it’s a great spot for everyone.
WE STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE IN EVERY CUP, FROM THE BEAN TO THE FINAL SIP. IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT AN EXTRAORDINARY CUP OF COFFEE, IT’S ABOUT AN EXPERIENCE. AT UBORA, OUR GOAL IS TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND CREATE LONG LASTING RELATIONSHIPS.
Wurstbusters is owned by best friends and business partners Annett and Natalie who share a love for authentic German food and the passion for hospitality.
The name Wurstbusters was born on a lazy beach day in Jacksonville in 2014 and with a play of words we came up with – Wurstbusters, because: If the hunger strikes in the neighborhood, who you wanna call…? Opening the food truck in April 2017 we started with a basic menu and items that you can find in Germany especially in the streets of Berlin were we lived most of our adult lives.
The menu evolved over the years, incorporating American ideas into our authentic German dishes.
Street food at its best. Mix it up with tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more!
Deluxe Sandwiches named after fictitious movie gangsters and “bad guys”. Try the SCARFACE (Brisket and Mac N Cheese) or the Dr. Lector (Brisket, Sausage, Grilled Chicken, Mac N Cheese) and don’t forget to ask for extra Gouda cheese sauce that seems to smother EVERYTHING!
The owners of fine dining sport Marker 32 present their menu from local restaurant North Beach Fish Camp. Enjoy a variety of ocean-inspired eats
Bringing the freshest food Festi Bowls serves customizable, whole food veggie bowls. They brig healthy, flavor packed options to fill your belly and your spirit. #FarmToTable
CRAFT BEER BAR
FEATURED BEERS BY CIGAR CITY BREWING
MEET THE BEERS:
Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt whilst the ball travels at speeds up to 188mph! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dubbed this game, with its ball traveling at racecar speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a bustling Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. Pair Jai Alai India Pale Ale with beef empanadas, deviled crabs and other spicy dishes.
The Cracker Cowboys of Florida were colonial-era settlers, often of Scots-Irish descent, who arrived in Florida when Spain traded their territory of La Florida to the English. The term Cracker in Florida usage relates to the whip these “cow hunters” used to herd cattle in Florida’s Palmetto Prairies. Called Quaqueros by the Spanish, these hardy and hard working Cracker Cowboys helped to shape the history of Florida, the nation’s oldest cattle raising state. We brew Florida Cracker White Ale with unmalted wheat, orange peel and coriander and then ferment it with a Belgian yeast strain to give it a spicy and dry finish. Perfect for a warm day on the Palmetto Prairie.
Traditional throughout Latin America, the guayabera shirt combines style, functionality, form and tradition in its four-pocketed design. We at Cigar City feel the same reverence and appreciation for the guayabera that we do for the Citra hop varietal, an ingredient that imparts notes of tangerine, lime and berries to this traditional American Pale Ale. The exclusive use of Citra hops in this beer creates a flavor that’s at once unique and recognizable, while it’s dry, crisp character and moderate alcohol make it as refreshing and functional as a crisp linen guayabera.
Skatepark of Tampa and Cigar City Brewing, two Florida originals, have collaborated on this crisp beer with notes of lime, orange and salt that can be enjoyed after a skate session or anytime you’re with friends.
Throw on your Hawaiian shirt and your lederhosen and meet Cigar City Brewing at the intersection of traditional German brewing and tropical relaxation. We’ve taken our German-style Gose, an ancient style of low alcohol beer brewed with salt, and given it the Jimmy Buffett treatment by adding orange peel and lime essence to create the perfect warm weather ale.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
The genesis of the beer you’re holding in your hand was pretty simple. We asked ourselves, “What if a beer tasted like an oatmeal raisin cookie?” The answer to our rhetorical question was to add raisins, lactose and cinnamon to Maduro, our English-style Brown Ale, a beer that showcases flavors of caramel, toffee and chocolate. The combination of the base beer and the additional ingredients resulted in a beer that tastes like it was baked in Grandma’s oven.
DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY
In 2016, when the curtains closed on Vampires Everywhere, Michael Orlando sought out other avenues for his new musical vision. “I’ve had the name DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY on the tip of my tongue for a few years,” admits Orlando,” and I’ve always been on the darker side of things in rock & roll, and the name fits the sound and overall image. Split personalities, fake friends, hangers-on, social-climbing and attention-hunting whores are all ingredients I wanted to exploit with this project. I called together Ronnie (Radke, Falling In Reverse) and our friend Elvis Baskette (Slash, Sevendust) and we started arranging songs and melodies. Living in Hollywood, there are so many fucked up things I’ve seen, the stories in my head, I could write six novels about them all. But that’s what breeds the creative juice and you will believe me once you hear DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY.”
“When Ronnie and I sat down to write ‘I’ll Find A Way,’ we were pretty adamant on stating truths. We wanted lyrics that would hit home and tell this story about conquering your inner demons. The voices in your head are pushing one way, and your heart is pushing the other – riding the line between right and wrong. I’m hoping this story, this song will give hope. The cure to happiness is inside us and we must not give up without a fight.”
DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY wasted no time and began 2017 by supporting Falling In Reverse, Motionless In White and Issues. The band quickly caught the attention of Victory Records and were signed in mere days.
“Victory Records is responsible for some of my favorite bands and I’m beyond stoked to be part of their family.” Looking into the future, Orlando adds, “There is so much excitement and positivity exploding from the staff at Victory, and I feel very lucky to have this team behind me. This union came about organically and I love that we all want to push the boundaries to make DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY a success. I’m beyond excited for the road ahead and to show the world DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY.”
Alchemy was released on June 15, 2018.
LIGHT THE TORCH
The winds of change most definitely fanned the flame for LIGHT THE TORCH. On their 2018 full-length debut »Revival« [Nuclear Blast], the Los Angeles, CA trio—Howard Jones [vocals], Francesco Artusato [guitar], and Ryan Wombacher [bass]—drew from five years together as DEVIL YOU KNOW only to forge a wholly distinct path. Amidst myriad struggles, they returned from the brink under a new banner.
“2016 was a really tough year for us as a band, both personally and professionally,” admits Howard. “While going through some lineup changes we were also battling some issues with the use of our band name. At the same time, I was trying to deal with the loss of my oldest brother which really hit me hard. During that time, we just bonded like never before. We all meshed because we faced war together. We survived. At the end, we realized we were a real band and decided to make an album representing that resilience. Honestly, we came out of the dark. The name literally signifies what we went through.”
The musicians quietly struck the match for LIGHT THE TORCH during 2017. Without so much as telling either the label or management, they wrote the 12 anthems comprising »Revival« and recorded them in Los Angeles with the help of WOVENWAR and AS I LAY DYING bassist and producer Josh Gilbert [BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, SUICIDE SILENCE] behind the board. Joined by EXTINCTION A.D. drummer Mike “Scuzz” Sciulara behind the kit, the guys put their heads down and really focused on making an album as a whole, placing more emphasis on the songs flowing cohesively from one to the next.
“It was time for a change,” the frontman continues. “It was time for us to try and stretch our wings. We were really going for songs. The structuring made more sense. I was focused on melody and harmony. I really cut loose. All in all, it was the perfect storm. We had so much fun making this, because there were really no restrictions other than creating a heavy and catchy body of work.”
The boys introduce the record with the first single and opener ‘Die Alone’. Powered by airtight riffing and a hummable lead, the verses immediately engage before the vocalist croons the anthemic refrain: “There’s nothing in the shadows, and you will be the one to die alone.”
“It was one of the first demos Fran showed me,” he recalls. “I listened to it while cruising around the UK on tour. It just worked. Lyrically, that song was like a letter to myself that I had jotted down from all of the stuff I’d been through.”
Elsewhere, ‘Calm Before The Storm’ builds from a thick guitar groove into an expansive chant. “It’s about trying to be there for those who need you,” Howard explains. “Everybody knows someone who needs a hand getting through tough times. While some may be beyond help, you never know when you can be the hand that makes a difference.”
Whether on the robust balladry of ‘The Great Divide’ or the pensive vulnerability of ‘The Safety of Disbelief’, melody takes center stage, driving one anthem after another.
“I write sappy songs,” he laughs. “There was enough that we had gone through that I had a whole wealth of emotions and stories. Some are fiction. Some are non-fiction. Some may apply to me. Some may not. If you listen closely, I promise you can hear where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
As far as “where they’ve been” goes, LIGHT THE TORCH maintains one of the most esteemed pedigrees in modern heavy music. From Howard’s decade at the helm of GRAMMY® Award-nominated and gold-selling titans KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and Francesco’s much-lauded stint in ALL SHALL PERISH and status as a shred virtuoso to Ryan’s tenure in BLEEDING THROUGH, there’s no shortage of experience. Still, »Revival« marks an important moment for all three men.
“It was a long road to get here,” reveals the singer. “We reworked everything. Once we started this, things snowballed. It was like, ‘Wow, we can breathe again.’ »Revival« felt like the appropriate name.”
Ultimately, LIGHT THE TORCH ignites the future for not only its members but metal at large.
“Everyone’s got a path,” Howard leaves off. “There will always be strange and unexpected twists and turns. More important than the struggle is how you handle it and come out of it. I don’t know what sparked it, but for us it translated into the music. This album is what we were supposed to make.”
HYRO THE HERO
In any cultural movement there are leaders and there are followers. But most importantly, there are those uniquely innovative provocateurs that take the familiar, turn it upside down, and burn it with new creative fire.
Like a b-boy mad scientist smashing the windows of the mainstream with a Molotov cocktail of passion and inspiration, Hyro The Hero takes the fusion of rap and rock and resurrects it. His combustible concoction is one part The Clash, one part Bad Brains, and several doses of reverence for hip-hop relevance. It’s the most punk rock rap and the most hip-hop punk.
Fight the Good Fight, the third studio album from Los Angeles ska-punk band The Interrupters, is available now via Hellcat Records. Fight the Good Fight was produced by longtime collaborator, Rancid frontman, and Grammy Award-winning producer Tim Armstrong with the band at Ship-Rec Recorders in Los Angeles. The album was mixed by Grammy-award winning mixer Tom Lord-Alge (Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Weezer).
The follow-up to 2015’s Say It Out Loud, Fight the Good Fight finds The Interrupters delivering their two-tone-inspired, powerfully melodic, punk-fueled sound with more vitality than ever before. With Armstrong and Alge at the helm, Aimee and the Bivona brothers channeled the raw energy of their lives shows by recording almost entirely to tape. “There’s a certain feeling you get from that process that you can’t really get digitally,” says guitarist Kevin. “There’s no overthinking anything—everyone’s got to be fully present and committed. It was definitely high-pressure, but also really fun.”
HYDE debuted as a member of L’Arc-en-Ciel in 1994 and released numerous mega hit singles. He kicked off his solo career in 2001 and presented the world of uniqueness and sereneness, much different from the group.
Together with K.A.Z on the guitar, he formed the rock unit VAMPS in 2008. VAMPS performed not only in Japan, but internationally with tour dates across Asia, North and South America and Europe. It was announced in December 2017 that VAMPS would cease all activities.
June 2018 saw HYDE resume his solo activities with the single “WHO’S GONNA SAVE US,” the first release in 12 and a half years, followed by “AFTER LIGHT” (August) and “FAKE DIVINE” (October). The releases were supported by a Japan-wide tour consisting of 33 shows.
The Dirty Nil
Sure, playing 350 shows over the past three years all over the world was pretty impressive. Opening for The Who in front of 50,000 people? Not bad for a couple of loudmouths from the quaint, quiet valley town of Dundas, Ontario. And, sure, winning the Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year made the parents proud. But of all the accomplishments that Hamilton-based power trio The Dirty Nil have ticked off their bucket list since coughing up their debut single, “Fuckin’ Up Young,” in 2011, nothing tops the honour that was bestowed upon them back on March 23, 2015.
“If you go on Reddit,” drummer Kyle Fisher begins, “a video that we had on our Instagram made the top listing of the WTF page! We were staying at a hotel in East Dallas — which we later found out was not a good place to stay. The only room available was a smoking room with that shitty plastic covering on the mattress. And it was a weird night there, with police and drug dealers out in the halls. But when we woke up in the morning, and opened the door, there was a huge, long trail of ants going from one end of the hallway to the other end!”
Like any group of true artists, The Dirty Nil channel trauma into their music… and on the band’s second album, Master Volume, the harrowing experience of seeing the inside of America’s most disgusting hotels, night in and night out, manifests itself in the song “Super 8.” “I’m halfway to hell/ It’s called Super 8 Motel,” Luke Bentham sings, stretching out the words with the palpable pain of someone who’s struggling to catch some precious between-gigs shut-eye on a mattress riddled with bed bugs and stains of dubious origin. But for The Dirty Nil, the effects of non-stop touring go way beyond translating one-star Trip Advisor reviews into song.
The Dirty Nil didn’t just spend the past few years on the road in support of their debut album, Higher Power and companion collection of early singles, Minimum R&B. They spent of much of it opening for — and, more importantly, studying — the greats: Against Me, Billy Talent, Alexisonaire. They’re bands who, like the Nil, cut their teeth for years on the punk circuit playing the dingiest of dives, but now aind themselves playing arenas and headlining festivals. With Master Volume, The Dirty Nil are ready to make the same leap — not by polishing their sound for radio, but by bulking it up to aill the stadiums and open aields of their most vivid rock ‘n’ roll fantasies.
Says Luke, “I think the experience of playing with bands like Against Me — bands that can put on a proper fucking rock show — and seeing what works in a big space deainitely crept into the way we think about songs, and how to sound powerful. A lot of the times, when you play blitzkrieg-fast, it has a way of sounding awesome in a club. But when you’re playing in a giant space with some sound guy who’s never seen you before mixing you, it can be a roll of the dice.”
Adds Kyle, “Everyone says, ‘a good song’s a good song no matter how it’s recorded.’ But a good song can’t be a good song if nobody can hear it properly!”
Produced by veteran alt-rock architect John Goodmanson, Master Volume is an album that crunches and grooves where the band once smashed and thrashed, unleashing the Nil’s undiminished raw power in more controlled waves to better target the back rows. “It’s less of a sprint and more of a strut,” Luke says, and he credits a great deal of the tempo shift to the arrival of Ross Miller, who replaced original bassist Dave Nardi in early 2017. While Ross was already a longtime friend of Luke and Kyle, his pedigree includes playing with everyone from Wanda Jackson to Single Mothers.
“I’m a big fan of the drums,” Ross says, “so my intention on the bass is to make the drums sound the best they can — Kyle always comes up with cool grooves and I don’t want to fuck that up. I want there to be lots of space so everything shines through.”
Adds Luke: “It takes a lot of conaidence to play slower and have a discernible pulse, and Ross totally bounces! And Kyle plays hip-hop style drums when he’s in his natural element, so it was fun making songs around that. I would come up with some chords and lyrics and melodies, and they would be totally moulded around what the fuckin’ Funk Brothers were laying down over here.”
Now, we should be clear that The Dirty Nil have not transformed themselves into a shirtless, bass-slappin,’ Chili Peppered punk-funk unit… not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, the band were stoked to work with Goodmanson not because he’s produced Sleater-Kinney or Bikini Kill or Blonde Redhead or any number of highly respected indie-rock acts; they were more impressed by his mosh- friendly credentials. Says Luke, “We just fucking punished him the entire time for nu- metal stories. ‘Death Cab for Cutie? We don’t give a shit! Tell us about Saliva!’ I think one of the most important and liberating things about the climate in which we made this album is that we celebrate white noise and Sugar Ray and everything in between. We don’t give a shit. We like all rock music, even terrible rock music. We’ll listen to Kill Em All and My War and then we’ll just listen to Aerosmith and St. Anger.”
And they’ll also shamelessly steal song titles from The Beatles (“Please, Please Me”) and Cheap Trick (“Auf Wiedersehen”) just for shits ‘n’ giggles. (“We’re improving them,” Luke says with an unsubtle grin.) But the joy and bravado with which the Nil deliver Master Volume’s pummelling power-pop missives bely the often grim narratives embedded within. The airst two songs alone — “That’s What Heaven Feels Like” and “Bathed in Light” — aind Luke dying in two different car crashes, alying through smashed windshields and talking to his deceased grandma in heaven; “Always High” sees him eulogizing an ill-fated driver lying on the roadside with their head split open. (“What can I say, most of the rock ‘n’ roll I’ve consumed in my lifetime has something to do with fast cars, as Van Halen as that sounds,” Luke reasons. “And we’ve deainitely seen our share of roadside carnage travelling in the Southern states.) “I Don’t Want That Phone Call” is an even more brutally frank treatise on impending death, with Luke pleading to an addict friend to get help and spare him the inevitable call from the morgue. And sure, the album has two songs that could practically qualify as ballads, but the airst one (“Auf Wiedersehen”) unleashes its ache in a throat-shredding chorus of “FUCK YOU,” and the second (“Evil Side”) builds to an atomic, noise-blasted climax that, when the band perform it in concert, is liable to trigger an earthquake that swallows up the circle pit.
“I don’t ever sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write about a song about this today,'” Luke explains. “I just open my mouth and start playing… and some pretty heinous shit comes out! I deainitely enjoy morbid subject matter of all spades, but I like to try to alash a smirk in there with it, because I think it’s important to paint with different brushes. And listening to certain writers I love, like Townes Van Zandt — he has that sort of bleakness, but also with a little bit of humour with it.”
Loaded with steady-grooving songs about living fast and life-afairming anthems about dying young, Master Volume ultimately ampliaies The Dirty Nil’s most essential quality: their refusal to be deained. They’re too melodic and muscular to be purely punk, but too raucous and unhinged to pass as straight pop; too cheeky to be overtly political, but still acutely in tune with the unsettled, anxious energy of the times in which we live. Whether you aind catharsis in a crowd-surf or a street protest, Master Volume captures the ecstatic rush of getting swept up in a communal moment… and the frantic fear that it can all come crashing down at any second.
Luke concludes with a laugh “we don’t really have a label for ourselves other than just… the best band. That’s our genre!”
Grandson is a 23-year-old alternative artist hailing from Canada. Born in the small town of Englewood, New Jersey, he relocated to the cultural melting pot of Toronto at a young age, and grew up surrounded by music ranging from jazz to rock & roll to rap, dancehall and R&B.
At 17, he moved to Montreal to attend university, and began working in nightclubs cleaning tables and DJing. He started writing music at this time, incorporating the unique blend of sounds he grew up surrounded by. He started experimenting with music production and rapping in 2013, dropped out of school and headed to Los Angeles to pursue music full time.
Adopting the “grandson” moniker while living in LA, he dove deeply into rock influences such as Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, while keeping an ear on the rap/R&B music emerging out of Toronto and alternative acts such as Twenty One Pilots and Hiatus Kaiyote. He found a small community of musicians to work and perform with in LA and eventually formed his band. Reminiscent of early punk and grunge music, grandson’s live set attempts to create a frantic, mosh pit-inducing cathartic release of energy for fans.
Searching for his voice and for meaning in today’s divisive, chaotic world, grandson’s songwriting confronts the most pressing issues of his generation, such as financial inequality, governmental and environmental accountability and social justice, giving these topics a soundtrack with a genuine sense of urgency and frustration, while simultaneously touching on adolescence, relationships, and the insecurities and difficulties of growing up through your 20s. When asked about today’s music scene, he says “I genuinely believe the world needs honest rock and roll, now more than ever.”
Emerging from the gritty north of England, YUNGBLUD brings an explosion of raw energy and thought-provoking lyrics. He has created his own blend of alternative rock: poetry, guitar-hooks and break-beats with a fierce determination to make a dent in pop-culture. Dangerously sexy, startlingly bold yet emotionally grounded YUNGBLUD drops a grenade on his audience members imprinting himself in their minds.
Dorothy was built around Dorothy Martin, a singer who was born in Budapest but raised in San Diego. As a child, she started singing early and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. Rolling Stone named Dorothy one of the best 50 Best New Artists of 2014 and soon after, Dorothy was signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
The band’s first album ROCKISDEAD, received much critical acclaim, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, No. 5 on Top Hard Rock Albums, and featured two songs (“Raise Hell” and “Dark Nights”) in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.
Martin recently put together a new, high level, and powerful band including guitarist Owen Barry, guitarist Leroy Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango, and drummer Jason Ganberg. Dorothy is releasing their second full-length album 28 Days in the Valley on March 9th.
“This was a spiritual journey and very healing, and because of that it’s an unapologetically honest record,” says Martin of the new album. “Somehow Linda [Perry] knew I had more to give as a singer and writer. I used to hide behind the tough girl sound, but she taught me that there is power in my vulnerability and that’s what you get on this record.”
28 Days in the Valley still has the in-your-face bluesy, gritty rock and roll fans loved on 2016’s ROCKISDEAD, and their recent standalone single, “Down To the Bottom,” which hit No. 35 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and which Rolling Stone called the “perfect mix of blues thunder and alt-rock guitar crunch.” But, added to that thunder this time around are more layers of emotion fueled by less metal, more California desert rock vibes. The lead single “Flawless”, a fearless yet vulnerable anthem, is out January 19th.
Critics have compared Martin to some of the greatest female artists of our time, such as Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, and Grace Slick, even calling her “a revved-up Adele teetering on the brink of chaos.” The band is managed by We Are Hear and represented by Roc Nation. Dorothy is currently on tour. For more information, visit dorothytheband.com.
The Glorious Sons
The Glorious Sons’ second full-length album, Young Beauties & Fools, is all about honesty. More specifically, it’s about exploring the adventures (and frequent misadventures) of main songwriter Brett Emmons in the truest way. It’s also an album where The Glorious Sons — rounded out by Brett’s older brother Jay Emmons (guitar), Chris Koster (guitar), Adam Paquette (drums) and Chris Huot (bass) — capture all the listlessness and confusion of young adulthood in 10 doses of modern rock.
“It’s basically the story of a 24-year-old kid,” says Brett. “They’re simple songs about alcoholism and the mostly autobiographical story of my life. The whole thing is derived from the thoughts, actions and feelings of a kid who doesn’t really know himself and the consequences of those actions.”
Glorious Sons’ hardscrabble tales come naturally. A high-spirited rock band with blue collar roots, they truly found themselves when Brett quit school in 2013 to join them as lead singer. Subsequent years of hard touring and hard partying — sometimes in places so sketchy, as Brett puts it, “There was no electricity in the building” — provided fuel for the songs on Young Beauties & Fools.
“It’s me writing about the things I’ve done, the things that have happened to me and my family, and the things that I think about,” says Brett.
Whether it’s the rock ‘n’ roll bender “My Poor Heart,” the not-so-classic boy-meets-girl story of “Josie,” or the deeply embarrassing punch-up at a wedding tale “Everything Is Alright,” Brett’s songwriting deftly explores the imperfect humanity of both himself and the many characters he introduces over the course of the album.
It wasn’t easy to capture that realness. The band wanted to range further, to grow and evolve from the successes of 2014’s The Union album. That record was an immediate hit on the Canadian radio rock landscape. Glorious Sons scored seven consecutive Top 10 rock radio tracks, won two SiriusXM Indie Awards (Group of the Year and Rock Group of the Year) and received a Juno Award nomination in 2015 for Rock Album of the Year.
Eighteen months of recording fits and starts led the band to Los Angeles to work with production team Fast Friends (Frederik Thaae, Ryan Spraker, Tom Peyton). It wasn’t until they started exploring a collection of old voice memos on Brett’s phone that they had their eureka moment. The subsequent creative outburst resulted in an album written in 12 days and recorded in 14.
“It was our first time working with these guys in the studio and we were still kinda feeling each other out,” says Brett. “There were times when it almost felt like a blind date. And we had been in the studio with a couple of other producers prior to that and went home empty handed. So after a few lukewarm conversations about ideas, I said to them, ‘Boys, can I show you something?’ I took out my iPhone and played ‘Josie’ and they just went fucking nuts. They wanted us to challenge ourselves as players and songwriters and pushed me to write from personal experience. After that, the hardest part of recording was choosing which songs to keep for the album. I’m forever grateful to them for teaching me to trust myself as a writer and help find that voice.”
There should be lots of opportunities to see Glorious Sons play the songs from Young Beauties & Fools. By their count the band has driven across Canada “at least 10 times” and played upwards of 300 shows to support their last album.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get night to night from us,” says Jay. “It’s something you have to see and it’s interesting and powerful.”
“It’s also an inch from either side of falling off the tracks every single night,” adds Brett.
Which is perfectly fitting for a band living young and foolish.
F*ckin’ REIGNWOLF is invading the streets unleashing throaty soulful howls, bleeding guitars plugged into smokey half stacks, and stomping on a vintage Ludwig bass drum. Joined by the low end of brother Stitch, and drum destroyer, Texas Jo.
The Reignwolf experience is best summed up by one of his lyrics – “I gave you my soul, and I can’t give you anything more”… and onstage Reignwolf undoubtedly gives “it all”.
Architects, the Brighton-based outfit Kerrang recently awards the title of “Best British Live Band” and The Guardian said feature “gloriously crafted anthems of defiance,” return with their eighth album, Holy Hell.
Holy Hell marks the band’s first release since the untimely passing of Tom Searle, Architect’s founding guitarist, principal songwriter and twin brother to drummer Dan. “In those first months after Tom’s death, I didn’t deal with it at all and I felt so unhappy and anxious,” Dan explains. “I’d ignored it and just tried to cope. But I knew that at some point, I had to learn from it.”
“It’s at times like that you ask yourself, ‘What is left?’” adds vocalist Sam Carter. “As a group of friends, we had to find something.”
“Ultimately, there were two choices,” Dan says. “Feel sorry for yourself, and believe the world to be a horrible place and let it defeat you. Or let it inspire us to live the life that Tom would have wanted us to live. I was very worried about people taking away a despondent message from the album. I felt a level of responsibility to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for people who are going through terrible experiences.”
Finding a way forward, the band spent six months from the Fall of 2017 through the Spring of this year recording what would become the 11-song album, with Dan and guitar player Josh Middleton handling production. “For me, broadly speaking Holy Hell is about pain: the way we process it, cope with it, and live with it,” Dan offers. “There is value in pain. It’s where we learn, it’s where we grow.”
If you take for granted that music exists as an expression of the inner mortal psyche, life can turn into an infinitely captivating adventure when musical creation is placed in the hands of a singular breed of enigmatic perfectionists. When those graced with the rare gifts of astounding technical abilities and songwriting prowess are also fueled by a sacred trinity of creativity, originality, and self-belief, the results will always steer clear of any sub-genre categorization.
Formed in the college town of Umeå in northern Sweden in 1987, MESHUGGAH have spent the last twenty years and cumulative thirteen releases developing, exploring, and redefining their complex, inimitable approach on the art of expressing their collective Id. An entity that has not sounded like anyone else in over thirteen years, MESHUGGAH are one of the few purely and honestly lateral-thinking forces genuinely dedicated to pushing the boundaries of extreme music simply because doing so comes naturally to them. Unafraid to take risks and tackle new experiences, they create albums you can listen to six years later and still discover things you never noticed before. The mystical lore surrounding them pertains to their mathematical execution of odd-cycle time signatures shifting around common 4/4 time. As a result, it isn’t shocking to see some of the biggest names in metal standing in the wings at MESHUGGAH shows, shaking their heads at the band’s majestically demented, down-tuned, groove-laden, and precisely performed polyrhythms that never veer out of control. Devotees include Tool, The Deftones, Kirk Hammett & Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, James LaBrie of Dream Theater, and Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, which incorporates MESHUGGAH’s back catalogue into their curriculum, fortifying the belief that such perfectly calibrated music adds a crucial ingredient to a modern musical education. While the band’s self-assured beginnings speak plainly, they had no idea their future contributions to music would be the sonic equivalent of what Sir Isaac Newton did for the development of calculus.
In 1989, with a line-up that included Jens Kidman on vocals & guitar, Fredrik Thordendal on guitar, Peter Nordin on bass, and Niklas Lundgren on drums, MESHUGGAH’s self-titled thrashy, virgin release (which came to be known as Psykisk Testbild due to the album’s artwork) was self-released on vinyl and limited to 1,000 copies. Every copy sold. In 1991, their full-length debut album, Contradictions Collapse, heralded the arrival of drummer extraordinaire, Tomas Haake, and the band’s obvious nod to vintage Metallica was a potent indicator of the barely-contained violence fermented within. But it was in 1995 – one of Swedish metal’s most significant years in terms of influential releases – that the myth of MESHUGGAH gained momentum. Produced by a 21-year-old Daniel Bergstrand at Soundfront Studios in Uppsala, Sweden and consisting of equal parts instinct, inspiration, and natural talent, Destroy Erase Improve provided positive proof that the band had tapped a truly multi-dimensional, divergent vein. Joined by rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström in 1994 for the recording of the None EP (freeing Kidman from those duties) and marking the beginning of the band’s own identity, DEI was released to the sound of dropping jaws among their growing number of fervent followers and was a literal showcase of how far the band could push their ideas. Subsequently, it has been lauded as one of heavy metal’s most masterfully evolutionary albums and hailed as MESHUGGAH’s finest hour. Drum! Magazine praised it for its “ridiculous, driving, brutal insanity.” Ranking #12 in Revolver Magazine’s “69 Greatest Hard Rock Albums Of All Time,” it recently became the 21st album inaugurated into Decibel Magazine’s pantheon of extreme metal – The Hall of Fame: “These mad scientists have obliterated the existing paradigms of death, thrash, and prog metal, upping the ante for heavy music to a level of mathematical profundity. A mind-bending masterpiece.”
“Intelligence,” states theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, “is the ability to adapt to change.” When Peter Nordin developed an inner-ear nerve problem in 1995 that prevented him to continue with the group, MESHUGGAH recruited Gustaf Hielm to take over bass duties on 1997’s The True Human Design EP and 1998’s Chaosphere. The latter’s manic, bludgeoning rage collided head-on with blistering skill (“five technically virtuosic Scandinavian ogres using jackhammers to smash other jackhammers” cited Spin Magazine), and the result was a masterclass in aggression leading Rolling Stone to rank MESHUGGAH as one of music’s “10 Most Important Hard and Heavy Bands.” In 1999, MESHUGGAH played at the Milwaukee Metal Fest, a week of dates with Cannibal Corpse, toured supporting Slayer, and were then handpicked to play eleven shows as direct support for Tool’s U.S. arena tour in 2001. In a serendipitous, Hollywood-styled turn of events, music from Destroy Erase Improve aired during prime time television on MTV’s reality series The Osbournes (albeit for the sole purpose of tormenting their neighbors of obviously weaker musical constitution), courtesy of Jack Osbourne. While the Swedes prided themselves in not being a commercially accessible band, they were invited to be featured guests on Ozzfest 2002’s 2nd Stage. MESHUGGAH accepted, and the race was on to complete the new album.
After pushing the limits of heaviness with Chaosphere, there was only one place left to go: even heavier. Thordendal & Hagström made the leap to custom-built 8-string Nevborn guitars and thereby inherited a new musical vocabulary to work with. Abandoning the use of chords and almost exclusively utilizing single notes and slowing their pace to sub-aquatic meanderings, the subdued result was a lethal dose of self-professed “concentrated evil,” Morse-code solos courtesy of Thordendal, and a lot of low-end. Completed just two days prior to the band leaving Sweden to join Ozzfest, the darker, more sinister, and all-encompassing menacing vibe of Nothing was doused in accolades. “The magnum opus of controlled insanity,” wrote Terrorizer. “One of the most inventive metal albums to arrive in some time,” praised Guitar One. “Nothing,” boasted Tool drummer Danny Carey, “is another prime example of MESHUGGAH’s musical expertise and unique compositional style that continues to evolve and change the way people listen to music.” In light of the showers of praise, the Swedes were still not prepared when news broke of Nothing landing on the American Billboard Top 200 chart – a first for a band on Nuclear Blast’s roster and one of the most extreme albums ever to achieve that feat at the time. Following their participation on Ozzfest, MESHUGGAH once again hit the road with Tool, and ultimately sold 100,000 copies of their fourth full-length recording.
It would be three years before the next studio album surfaced, but in the interim, kudos for the band kept coming. In 2004, Alternative Press voted MESHUGGAH “The #1 Most Important Band In Metal.” “MESHUGGAH have carved out their own niche as one of the most innovative and challenging extreme acts of our generation.” That same year, Fredrik & Mårten ranked #35 in Guitar World’s list of “100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.” “Over the polyrhythmic percussive madness of drummer Tomas Haake, Hagström & Thordendal create crushing, machine-gun riffs that are convoluted rhythms in themselves, as well as fluid, sublime, Allan Holdsworth-style solos.”
Such furiously mesmerizing music obviously requires its share of discipline. Each year without a release becomes inversely proportional to the climbing expectations among MESHUGGAH fans for the band to out-do themselves. Tackling a dark musical landscape while addressing the subjects of contradiction, paradox, negation, and the inevitability of clashing opposites with all the tension that results from it, MESHUGGAH’s studio offering for 2005 was a 47 minute-long “uni-song” divided into four quasi-movements (or thirteen suites, depending on your personal interpretation). An audio exam in patience and endurance, Catch Thirty Three offered a reward only to those who were insistent on completing the journey through this warped, metaphoric dream state. Obviously mastering the 8-string guitars that were prototypes on the previous album, MESHUGGAH tapped into the hypnotic power of repetition, suggesting a lot of visual imagery and movement. Proudly cold and emotionless, this “concept album without a concept” with seemingly stream-of-consciousness vocals had the feel of a philosophical journey through life and death, not excluding the soul-gutting ponderations. Again, the praise was incessant. “Catch Thirty Three could be the soundtrack to the darkest, strangest, heaviest movie never made,” held Revolver. “Catch Thirty Three lifts MESHUGGAH’s work to unreachable levels,” commended Guitar World. “One of the most brilliant metal discs in recent years,” raved Guitar One. It went on to become Terrorizer Magazine’s Album of the Year for 2005. What’s more, while the band’s discography underwent scholarly analysis at the 34th Annual Meeting of The Music Theory Society of New York State in 2006, MESHUGGAH remixed and remastered Nothing at their own Fear And Loathing Studio in Stockholm, Sweden to finally re-offer it to fans sounding “the way we always wanted it to!” In the latter half of 2007, the article “Re-casting Metal: Rhythm and Meter in the Music of MESHUGGAH,” appeared in a volume of Music Theory Spectrum, the journal of The Society for Music Theory.
Mercifully, the wait for the sixth installment in MESHUGGAH’s quest to a) continuously experiment; b) avoid predictability; and c) offer a dose of consistency will only clock in at 1,015 days. Recorded and mixed at Fear And Loathing Studio and featuring artwork by Joachim Luetke (Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy, Kreator), 2008’s detonation of consciousness, obZen is an unapologetic statement of where the Swedes stand now as a band, and there simply aren’t enough adjectives, expletives, or theories to describe the album’s enthralling, auditory physics.
With stand-alone lyrics worthy of their own book of prose (which include the band’s latest contributions to the English language), MESHUGGAH play with the same jagged, abrupt ferocity intrinsic to their eccentric genius. Fueled by the percussive gymnastics of the drummer’s drummer Tomas Haake (whose talent can simply be described as ‘Neil Peart on peyote’), the long, enrapturing bent notes of Thordendal & Hagström’s 8-string guitars hover like predators while the ceaseless rumblings of Dick Lövgren’s commandeering bass work are fodder for Kidman’s authoritative and handsomely corroded vocals. The unmerciful pummelings of “Bleed” and “obZen” are yet another ode to the band’s rhythmic eccentricity; the howling precision & apocalyptic aggression of “Combustion,” the compounded prog-matism of “Dancers To A Discordant System,” the hypnotic soul-searching of “Pineal Gland Optics,” and asymmetrical signatures of “Pravus” & “Electric Red” all attest to why the band are massively influential among their peers, and why fans of this extremely aggressive rhythm-based genre of metal pledge their support to the ongoing evolution of a discipline that shakes the very foundations of convention.
Change breeds change. Change fosters growth. Growth is life. MESHUGGAH’s music may never be known for its instant appeal, but it will forever maintain its long-time love affair with metric insanity. obZen has widened, expanded, and improved the road MESHUGGAH have been traveling on since their inception. Dedicated to the continual exploration of the infinite structures and (di)versions of the 4/4 standard, obZen’s emotive contemplations have the ability to infiltrate the psyche after repeated listens to flip an inner-switch triggering an epiphany, lulling you into a deepening quandary of existential explorations. An expression of a duplicitous serene/violent consciousness, obZen can be used as a meditation to travel deeply within or leave your body behind as you listen to it; it can become your permission slip to deviate from the chains of mortal predictability, to change, to grow, to evolve, and show evidence of life. Like the thunderous pulsations of the heart incessantly beating to get us through this menial existence we call life, MESHUGGAH excels at revealing that all paths leading to syncopated bliss are paved with arrhythmia.
In just a few years, The Struts have found themselves massively embraced by some of the greatest icons in rock-and-roll history. Along with opening for The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Guns N’ Roses, the U.K.-bred four-piece was hand-picked by Mötley Crüe to serve as the supporting act for their last-ever performances, while Dave Grohl praised them as the best band to ever open for Foo Fighters. After making their full-length debut with 2016’s Everybody Wants, The Struts now return with YOUNG&DANGEROUS — a sophomore album that cements their status as one of the most unstoppably passionate and endlessly thrilling bands making rock music today.
On YOUNG&DANGEROUS, The Struts let loose with the sing-along-ready and riff-heavy sound they’ve brought to stadiums and arenas all around the world. Working with producers like Butch Walker (Weezer, Panic! At the Disco) and Sam Hollander (Fitz and the Tantrums, Neon Trees), the band adorns that sound with deeper grooves and more inventive textures, dreaming up a majestic glam-rock revamp that’s unabashedly fun but full of pure heart.
The lead single from YOUNG&DANGEROUS, “Body Talks” brings that dynamic to a bluesspiked track capturing what Spiller calls “that moment when you mosey on over to someone on the dancefloor, and the music’s blaring so loud you can’t even talk to each other.” In creating an alternate version of “Body Talks,” The Struts amped up the song’s seductive power by enlisting Kesha to lend her soulful growl to a fiery duet with Spiller. The Struts also infuse some social commentary into YOUNG&DANGEROUS sending up selfie culture on the falsetto-laced epic “In Love With A Camera,” taking on trolls with the swampy and smoldering “Bulletproof Baby,” and pondering identity with the sweetly melodic “Who Am I.” And for the soaring and glorious “Primadonna Like Me,” The Struts brilliantly turn the lens on themselves. “It was written about my stage character, my alter ego,’” notes Spiller. “It’s this completely deluded guy
running around his small town, all dressed to the nines—a full-on 21st century dandy going around saying, ‘Don’t you know who I think I am?’”
Formed in Derby, England, in 2012, The Struts almost instantly drew a major following with their outrageous live show, and later made their debut with Have You Heard (a 2015 EP whose lead single “Could Have Been Me” hit #1 on Spotify’s viral chart). Before they’d even put out their first album, the band opened for The Rolling Stones before a crowd of 80,000 in Paris and toured the U.S. on a string of sold-out shows. Known for his lovably swaggering stage presence—the very factor that gave The Struts their name—Spiller soon inspired legendary designers like former Queen costumer Zandra Rhodes to custom-create his lavish and glittering onstage attire. As the frontman points out, that heightened element of spectacle is all a part of the band’s mission of making an unforgettable impact on the crowd. “We believe in giving our absolute all every night, because that’s what our fans deserve,” he says. “The goal is always to get everyone dancing and screaming and shouting, and to make sure they leave dripping in sweat with huge smiles on their faces.”
With the release of YOUNG&DANGEROUS, The Struts have undoubtedly met another of their main ambitions as a band. “One of the things we most want to do with our music is inspire young people to pick up a guitar again,” says Spiller. “We live in a time that’s very much dominated by hiphop and dance music, and that’s a great thing, but we want to give the world a big reminder that there’s something else going on out there. This album is our way of saying, ‘If you feel a little out of place, there’s always an electric guitar—and just look at what you can do with it.’”
Bring Me The Horizon
English rock band Bring Me the Horizon made a steady progression from their death metal-inspired grindcore debut to melodic metalcore, maturing into a pop-savvy headline act by the end of their first decade together. With each subsequent release — from 2006’s caustic Count Your Blessings to 2013 mainstream breakthrough Sempiternal — they dialed back the blood-curdling screams and injected more melody until capturing an alternative-metal balance on their 2015 international chart-topping effort, That’s the Spirit.
The group was formed in 2004 from the ashes of several Sheffield-based outfits, with the 2003 Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean serving as the inspiration for the band’s name. Singer Oliver Sykes, guitarists Lee Malia and Curtis Ward, bassist Matt Kean, and drummer Matt Nicholls initially established their own label, Thirty Days of Night, to release their debut EP, 2005’s This Is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For. Upon signing to the higher-profile label Visible Noise (whose roster also included Bullet for My Valentine and Lostprophets), they reissued the EP to a wider audience. Bring Me the Horizon’s full-length debut, Count Your Blessings, appeared in October 2006, with an American release following one year later courtesy of Epitaph Records.
With their second album, Suicide Season, Bring Me the Horizon moved in a more accessible direction and wound up cracking the U.K. album charts. Not everyone approved of the new sound, though, and Ward left the band in early 2009. His temporary replacement was Jona Weinhofen, formerly a member of I Killed the Prom Queen. Weinhofen ended up staying with the band as a permanent member, and the group returned to the studio with producer Fredrik Nordström in March 2010 to begin work on a third album. The resulting There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret was released during the latter half of 2010, several months after the band wrapped up its engagement with the Warped Tour.
A fourth album, the critically lauded Sempiternal, arrived on Epitaph in 2013, and peaked at number three on the U.K. albums chart. Released in 2015, the loosely conceptual That’s the Spirit saw the group dropping some of its metalcore tendencies in lieu of a more melodic, alt-metal approach, capturing mainstream ears with the singles “Happy Song,” “True Friends,” and “Avalanche.” The set topped charts across the globe, peaking in the Top Three in their native England and in the U.S. Backed by the Parallax Orchestra and Simon Dobson, the band set its hits to orchestral backing on 2016’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall. In the summer of 2018, Bring Me the Horizon returned with the pop-leaning single “Mantra” from their sixth full-length effort, Amo.
Novelist Henry Miller once wrote, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” Since their formation in 1991, iconic multiplatinum Los Angeles rock band Incubus have consciously and continually shifted their perspective with each subsequent album, preserving the spirit that initially drove them and simultaneously challenging themselves as artists and human beings. Their eighth full-length, the aptly titled 8 [Island Records], proudly upholds that tradition for the quintet—Brandon Boyd [vocals], Mike Einziger [guitar, piano, backing vocals], José Pasillas II [drums], Chris Kilmore [turntables, keyboards], and Ben Kenney [bass].
“As a band, we’re collectively interested in challenging ourselves and hopefully finding new, innovative ways of writing music,” asserts Boyd. “That ethos has kept things interesting for us.”
It’s also kept things interesting for listeners everywhere. By 2017, the band’s sales exceeded 23 million worldwide, while landing four Top 5 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and one #1 album. They’ve graced the stages of festivals everywhere from Lollapalooza and Air + Style to Download Festival and Pinkpop in addition to touring alongside the likes of Linkin Park, OutKast, Moby, Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, and many more. After the release of 2015’s Trust Fall (Side A) EP and a packed summer amphitheater tour with Deftones, the boys once again treaded uncharted territory. They collaborated with a dynamic talent behind the board as 8 would be co-produced and mixed by Skrillex [Justin Bieber, A$AP Rocky, Lady Gaga]. In January 2016, Boyd and Einziger holed up in a Venice Beach shack, building “Much of the musical framework in a weird man cave,” laughs Boyd.
By fall, the five musicians regrouped to flesh out ideas, recording at Jim Henson Studios and at Einziger’s personal studio. As the vision came into focus during early 2017, Incubus added another level by enlisting the perspective of longtime friend Skrillex for co-production and mixing. Einziger had spent the past few years, exponentially expanding his personal musical palette. Not only did he oversee production for The Internet’s Feel Good and produce three songs for Tyler, The Creator’s chart-topping “Cherry Bomb,” but he also co-wrote Avicii’s six-times platinum smash “Wake Me Up” and served as musical director and performer for a much talked-about 2016 GRAMMY® Awards performance of “Where Are Ü Now” by Skrillex, Diplo, and Justin Bieber. After lunch one day, Einziger played Skrillex some mixes, and “a whole new world opened up” as the producer added his magic to 8.
“It evolved organically out of my friendship with Skrillex,” Einziger elaborates. “Incubus is all about friendship. We transferred the synergy of working together into what the band was doing. As we put the final touches on everything, Skrillex brought another level to the album.”
As a result, the eleven tracks comprising 8 assemble a mosaic reflective of the band’s current mindset. Unease translates to unpredictable guitar riffs that blur the lines between time signatures as cosmic rhythmic transmissions orbit around an epicenter of combustible emotion. Each lyric encodes a parable or what might be a hidden message. The first single “Nimble Bastard” leapfrogs from a rattling guitar snap into an anthemic refrain. “Loneliest” echoes with an existential rumination on solitude over an airy beat and hypnotic guitars. “Undefeated” struts along via a bombastic stomp before culminating on an uplifting chant, while the spacey “Familiar Faces” instantly enchants.
The soothing instrumental soundscape of “Make No Sound In The Digital Forest” illuminates their cinematic side with delicate chimes, simmering drums, and warbling tones. A dial-up modem signals the explosion of “Love In A Time of Surveillance” as the one-two punch of “No Fun” and “Throw Out The Map” tap into a tsunami of distortion and punk-y freedom. “Glitterbomb” represents the glorious push-and-pull of 8, teetering between heavenly harmony and a dramatic twinge.
8 arrives at a significant milestone for Incubus—releasing exactly 20 years since their major label debut S.C.I.E.N.C.E. landed back in 1997. A little older, a lot wiser, quite tighter, but equally ready to challenge themselves and rock music at large, Incubus change their perspective once more in 2017.
“All the time, I hear from fans that our music was the backdrop of their first experience with love or important in getting them through a hard time,” says Einziger. “That’s the highest compliment.”
“When we finished 8, we were flooded with this wave of gratitude,” Boyd leaves off. “The fact that so many people are willing to come on this weird ride with us is really humbling. We’re filled with this sense of awe around it. We’re very happy to share this record with everyone, and we hope they like it.” — Rick Florino, March 2017
Pretty Vicious have a tale to tell. It involves bidding wars and nightmare migraines, the Welsh valleys and the Nashville skyline, music GCSEs and gigs with heroes (in one day), a cult fashion designer and Taylor Swift, punkish ambition, high hopes, and dreams dashed…
…and only after all that did Pretty Vicious really get started.
Not bad for a band with an average age of 20. Pretty Vicious – Brad Griffiths (vocals/guitar), Elliot Jones (drums), Jarvis Morgan (bass) and Tom McCarthy (guitar) – have lived, fast, super-fast, already. And now they’re ready to fly.
Three short years ago, Pretty Vicious were four schoolmates from small-town Wales. They played in covers bands with typically woeful names – The Hanging Monkeys of Babylon, anyone? – and a set list derived from their teenage tastes: Iggy’s I Wanna Be Your Dog, Oasis’s Fucking In The Bushes, Kings of Leon’s Molly’s Chambers, Arctic Monkeys’ Crying Lightning. And the Spongebob Squarepants theme.
But frontman Brad had songs bursting to get out of him. He played Tom, Jarvis, and Elliot a couple he’d written, It’s Always There and Cave Song – “which I’d had for years,” he shrugs. The boys were blown away. Here were tunes bigger than they were, and big enough to match their aspirations: to get the hell out of Merthyr Tydfil and make it all the way… to Cardiff, at least.
Scraping together 60 quid, they booked a session in a local studio and recorded three songs: Cave Song, Black Sheep, and Just Another Story.
Tom: “We wanted to play a bar in Cardiff or Merthyr, so we thought we should get some songs out there. So we put Cave Song up on Soundcloud.”
Jarvis: “We didn’t expect anything. We just put it up for a laugh.”
Elliot: “And we only put that one up ’cause it was the shortest. We were saving the other two songs.”
Jarvis: “Cave Song was just a waste away song for us. We didn’t care about it. But it turned out that other people did.”
Too right they did. Pretty Vicious posted their first song on 3rd November 2015. “And the next day it had had something like 30,000 listens,” remembers Brad. “It had gone viral. Within a couple of days, we had all these record companies contacting us on our Facebook page.”
This gang of unruly teenagers had to move fast. They had two so-called gigs under their belts, one at a GCSE results party and one in a paint shop – and albeit under another unfortunate name: Ambien. “We knew it was a drug, but not a sleeping pill,” says Tom ruefully.
With Huw Stephens lending early and enthusiastic support at Radio 1, it was time to step up. The fourpiece booked a show in a Merthyr pub, The Red House, on DATE? December. With a capacity of 200, Brad estimates that 150 of them were music industry figures. What could possibly go wrong? Well…
“I had just started playing bass so I couldn’t work out how to turn on my amp,” admits Jarvis.
“I used to get blinding migraines and I got one in soundcheck,” chips in Elliot. “I had to then go home and lie down for six hours. Came back, five minutes before the show, got onstage, still dying.”
Gear calamites and medical challenges aside, Pretty Vicious smashed it. An old-fashioned record company bidding war broke out. “Everyone offering us everything,” marvels Brad. “Elliot was given a bass drum pedal! I got a new guitar! And all this money… And we were used to living on pennies.”
By January 2016, two months after making public their first song, Pretty Vicious had to signed to Virgin, the deal sweetened by the offer of rare copies of the Sex Pistols original contracts.
Great gig offers came thick and fast: supporting Manic Street Preachers at Cardiff Castle, for one – which, for Elliot, then 17, involved bombing straight from his music GCSE.
“Before that, the biggest show we’d done was a club show in Koko. We’d only done about 20 shows total. And this one was 10,000 capacity. So I drove straight down to Cardiff after the exam and set up on stage. I failed that exam – I got a D.” Although, he’s keen to stress, “I did pass music overall with an A as I got 100 percent in composition.” That’s alright then. As you were.
There were more giant shows, with Stereophonics and Noel Gallagher, the latter a hook-up courtesy of Oasis/Noel manager Marcus Russell, a fellow Welshman who took the youngsters under his wing.
“He was too busy to manage us,” says Brad, “but Marcus told us that we reminded him a lot of the excitement around Oasis. That feeling of something great going to happen. We hit it off straight away. And he’d worked in a lot of the same places my family members had worked, in the steelworks.
“It was weird playing such big venues so quickly,” adds a singer with classic punk howl and roar to his voice. “Being valley boys, we’re all quite down to earth. So it didn’t hit me till after. ‘Boys – we just played a football stadium. We were playing in the pub the other week!’”
A debut single, It’s Always There, was released via Russell’s Ignition label, for Record Store Day. Three [OR FOUR?] more singles were lined up. With that momentum, and with Brad already armed with a couple of dozen bangers, it was time to make an album. What could possibly go wrong? Well…
To cut a messy story short: throughout 2016, Pretty Vicious attempted to record their debut. Still, frankly, wet behind the ears, they tried out a handful of studios and producers. A near-complete album was recorded with Owen Morris, famed for his work on Oasis’s legendary early – not to mention chaotic – recording sessions. But nothing gelled.
Brad, in particular, felt downhearted. “It obviously never went crazy big because we were still a small indie band. But I was getting nagged after that – ‘My vision’s always been, I don’t want two songs sounding the same. I want to have ten different songs. And that’s when it started getting a bit turbulent.
“We did probably overstep; we grew up too fast,” he admits, acknowledging their youth and inexperience and, perhaps, just a touch of partying excess. “But you can’t help growing up too fast.”
By mid-2017, Pretty Vicious their debut album unreleased. As Brad sees it, “Some people wanted us to be a young guitar pop band. But my love and passion is rock and punk. And I don’t want to be faking it. In the end, you’re only gonna get down and depressed. And that’s what happened – we went down to nothingness.”
What could possibly go right? Well…
Back home in Wales, back being an unsigned band, Pretty Vicious took stock. They had £40,000 left. They could count their losses, split the cash and go their separate ways. Ten grand each is a lot for valleys lads barely out of their teens.
Or, they could remember what had got them here in the first place: punkish enthusiasm, dogged determination, killer tunes and the brotherhood bond that had made them, already, a ferocious live band.
“I did go into depression, really,” admits Brad. “My family noticed it, that I’d be putting this mask on. I had this constant feeling of loneliness. And because I loved these songs so much, it was hard to feel that everyone thought these things that were my babies were crap.
“But through that depression, I did channel it and write a lot more songs. I’d take a little notepad out with me everywhere I went and put down ideas. Or be humming melodies into my phone in the pub toilet. And I rewrote songs I already had with a really focused mind. That was my escape. Every time I picked up the guitar, I’d be happy.”
“So eventually, I said to the boys, let’s give this another crack. We’re too good to be down, or to give up.”
So, under their own steam, to their own specs and schedule, Pretty Vicious threw themselves, and their 40 grand, into recording a brace of adrenalized rock songs – into the debut album they’d always wanted to make. They sought out producer Dan Austin, whose work with Twin Atlantic, You Me At Six and Pulled Apart By Horses they’d loved.
Tom: “We went to Monnow Valley and started recording with Dan, an unsigned band. We did it off our own backs. There was no one coming in to tell us what to do.”
They were armed, too, with a new manager. His brainwave: “Why don’t we go over to America and give them a story they can’t ignore in Britain?”
That initiative led to Nashville, to the offices of Big Machine. Founded by Scott Borchetta, the label – best known for being the home of Taylor Swift – had just entered into a partnership with rock’n’roll-loving fashion designer John Varvatos.
As it happened, Varvatos and Big Machine Group A&R exec Julian Raymond had seen – and loved – Pretty Vicious on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury 2016. Hearing that the band were again unsigned, and getting hold of some of the songs from the Dan Austin/Monnow Valley sessions, Big Machine/John Varvatos Records jumped quickly. The deal was inked in London this spring, the American label signing on to wholeheartedly support an album that was already done, dusted and delivered. Already it feels like a brilliant new start for the band.
Pretty Vicious – collectively, still, barely older than 20 – are here, again, but properly this time. First single Move, a millennial grunge stormer, was released this summer. It tees up an album that bristles with howls of smalltown frustration (No One Understands), an anthemic account of fighting for what you believe in (Something Worthwhile) and does-what-it-says-on-the-tin sex’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll (Lost In Lust).
For sure, Pretty Vicious have a tale to tell. But there’s going to be a whole more to talk about.
“Our story shows that the four of us got here by sticking together,” concludes Brad. “Last gang in town, innit?” he grins.
Boston Manor formed in 2013 in Blackpool UK; the band quickly began making waves in the underground punk scene & started touring nationally. In 2015 the band signed to renowned US indie label Pure Noise Record releasing their label debut, an EP entitled ‘Saudade’. The following year they released their debut album ‘Be Nothing.’ & after a string of sold-out shows in the UK began touring North America with bands like Moose Blood & Knuckle Puck as well as a full summer on the Vans Warped Tour. The band released their Sophomore effort Welcome To The Neighbourhood in 2018.
There was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs. From Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water” and Derek And The Dominoes’ “Layla” to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” it was all about that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song. The members of Crobot have united to bring that back.
Blending funk, blues, metal and good old-fashioned rock and roll into a howling vortex of Yeagley’s vocals and Bishop’s guitar, Crobot have crafted an album of endless good time rock hooks that sound as inspired today as they would have on AOR radio in 1974.
“We grew up with the same riff rock and it’s seemingly lacking in today’s music. We really seem to like the rock of old and felt that was missing,” Yeagley says.
Crobot is a band that can rock at all tempos. Whether it’s the slow-building groove of “Skull Of Geronimo,” a methodical sludge-rocker that calls to mind Soundgarden in the chorus or the more up-tempo funkified “Nowhere To Hide,” a track that sounds like the Black Crowes driving a Camaro, Crobot display stellar musicianship and lyrical depth.
For example, on “Queen Of The Light,” the powerful closing track of Something Supernatural, Yeagley sings the story of a girl yearning for a new life. “She lives the darkest life/but all she wants to be is the queen of the light,” he sings against the plaintive wailing of the slow-moving melody. It’s one of the songs destined to strike a deep chord with fans in the same way the single “Nowhere To Hide” has become a good-time anthem.
“Nowhere To Hide” is one of the songs Yeagley cites as getting his feet wiggling. And he promises that on Something Supernatural there will be plenty more grooves to get fans moving, as those who’ve experienced Crobot live have already seen.
“’Night Of The Sacrifice’ is one that’s coming out off the full length and that always gets me excited to play,” he says. “It’s usually the introduction to the funkier side of what we do in our set, it’s usually the first funky track that we play. So it’s really exciting to switch that mode from more riff based stuff towards to the classic metal sounding stuff with the heavier side of things and to flip flop and see people’s reactions when we totally hit the other end of the spectrum with the funky stuff.”
Musically, “Skull Of Geronimo” is one Yeagley sees as being undeniably representative of Crobot. “That’s a little on the heavier end of the spectrum, but it’s still got that funkiness to it,” he says. And lyrically, “Wizards” might be the Crobot statement song.
“It’s an epic tale of two wizards. One is on the side of wizardry and technology while the other is the side of natural spiritual wizardry and it’s a clash of funkiness and classic metal too in the same sense. So it’s a battle of epic proportions on all sides,” he says. “It’s just a song that fulfills all the ends of the spectrum of what Crobot is.”
Then there is the storytelling ability they show on a song like “La Mano De Lucifer,” a Biblical tale that starts off, “A failed rebellion/against the one creator/exiled to the fire.”
As another side of the band, Yeagley is a devout sci-fi buff. Asked what one film Crobot does the score for, he replies without hesitation, “2001: A Space Odyssey. That movie has its own special place amongst the sci-fi world.” And for contemporary sci-fi he picks Ender’s Game. “I’m such a huge fan of that series and to see that come to life on film was really cool. It’s got battles of epic proportions and everything you love about sci-fi, just nails it,” he says.
A modern rock band with a sense of humor, as well as their own hot sauce, CROBOT has already been making their mark among peers with their wild live performances. But for Crobot, at the end of the day, it is all about the sound.
“All I care about is that people walk away after hearing the album thinking, ‘Man, Crobot is the funkiest, heaviest band I’ve ever heard,’” Bishop says.
Music and emotion share a timeless physiological, psychological, and spiritual bond. A chord, a melody, or a lyric can lift spirits and inspire. Movements achieve that sort of reaction on their full-length debut, Feel Something [Fearless Records]. Threading together spacey guitars, evocative and introspective lyricism, ponderous spoken word, and tight songcraft, the Southern California quartet—Patrick Miranda [vocals], Ira George [guitar], Spencer York [drums], and Austin Cressey [bass]—immediately connect by opening up…
“We want our listeners to hear our music and feel something deeper than the everyday run-of-the-mill emotions,” exclaims Patrick. “We want our listeners to know that no matter what they’re going through there’s someone out there who understands. We want them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles, and no one should have to suffer alone. We don’t care if our music makes you feel sad, happy, angry, confused, or anything in between. All we care about is that it makes you Feel Something.”
That musical empathy quietly launched Movements on an upward trajectory in 2015. Formed by longtime friends, the group landed a deal with Fearless Records after just one local gig. Produced by Will Yip [Tigers Jaw, Title Fight, Turnover, Citizen], their debut EP, Outgrown Things, became a fan favorite. Acclaimed by the likes of Alternative Press and New Noise Magazine, songs like “Nineteen” and “Kept” each respectively amassed over 800K Spotify streams and counting as they have toured nonstop. Along the way, the boys started working on what would become Feel Something before returning to the studio with Yip in February 2017. In the sessions, their signature style crystallized and coalesced.
“We wanted to define what Movements is on the record,” he goes on. “There were a lot of different styles on the EP, because we were still trying to figure out who we wanted to be. For the full-length, we were all on the same page. Everything matured. We solidified our identity as a rock band. Our guitar tones are more complex. The spoken word parts are there, but there’s hardly any screaming. We wanted to write a cool fucking rock record with a song for everybody.”
Bolstered by intricate instrumentation and explosive vocal delivery, these 11 tracks signify the musicians’ evolution. On the first single “Colorblind,” hummable clean guitars volley between arena-size rhythms before snapping into a vibrant admission, “Cuz you were gold, but I’m colorblind.”
“It’s a relationship song,” says Patrick. “I’m colorblind, and I use that as an analogy for love. After going through some bad breakups, I’d meet people and fail to connect on a deeper level. I’d lose interest and walk away. Even though these girls had so much to offer me, I couldn’t see it. No matter what, I couldn’t see these relationships through, and I didn’t know why.”
“Deadly Dull” explores the effects of Alzheimer’s from a powerful firsthand perspective that’s nothing short of tear-jerking. “My girlfriend’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s,” the frontman sighs. “When his wife died, he was distraught, screaming, and crying. Twenty minutes later, he didn’t know she died. He keeps asking to see her. The family tells him that she’s gone, because he doesn’t remember. That crushes me. Every time, he gets sad, cries, goes outside, and sits on the back porch and doesn’t talk to anybody. He goes to bed, it’s all erased, and he wakes up with the same questions. I wanted to tell that story.”
Meanwhile, “Daylily” offers up a musical reminder that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. “It’s about my current girlfriend,” he reveals. “We connect so deeply because she understands what I’m going through. She’s had severe anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. Her therapist would call good days, ‘Pink cloud days.’ No matter how many bad days you have, you will have more ‘Pink cloud days.’”
Ultimately, Movements bring emotion to life in each note. “When people hear this, I want them to think it’s impactful,” Patrick leaves off. “I want them to hear the record, feel it, and continue to experience it.”
With over five years of unmatched determination, the culmination of five Florida musicians’ effort is ready to be unleashed. Guitarist/vocalist Cody Quistad and guitarist Seth Blake met in high school when they discovered that they shared musical interests, and started jamming soon thereafter. In 2013, the duo encountered vocalist Briton Bond and, shortly after, bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesener were incorporated into the mix. The line-up alone of Ocala, Florida’s Wage War sheds a more-than-welcome light on the importance of a solid foundation built upon evolving musicianship. Wage War marks their territory with from-the-heart lyrics and thrashing beats that transcend to a community who understands the trials and tribulations of growing up all too well.
In fact, Wage War IS that community, as Quistad explains, “A lot of the themes in our songs are about growing up to be a productive person, and dealing with the real things that can happen in life and coping with circumstances that could be problematic,” says Quistad. “The first single we’re releasing, ‘Alive,’ is an anthem to all the naysayers out there that are always talking about our generation being a bunch of losers.”
Blueprints, the band’s debut album co-produced by A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon along with Andrew Wade, resounds with all of the tension and ingenuity of its creation. The band delivers 11 tracks of uncompromising multi-dimensional metalcore, filled with high-intensity rhythms, battering drums and blazing guitars, tempered with tuneful vocal passages. Crushing breakdowns alongside a combination of roaring and melodic vocals prove powerful enough to level a small village. Yet, Wage War aren’t focused solely on destruction.
“The goal of Blueprints was to establish a foundation,” Quistad says. “It’s our first record and our first chance to show people what we’re about. So we really went all out to deliver the best songs we could possibly write and play them to the best of our ability. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised.”
ZEAL & ARDOR
By now, Zeal & Ardor’s performance at Roadburn 2017 has become the stuff of legends, the kind of thing you had to be there for (or were gutted to have missed)—but it almost didn’t happen.
The sound blew out twice during the 50 minutes Zeal & Ardor was allotted, leaving Swiss- American bandleader Manuel Gagneux and his backing musicians to troubleshoot as best they could on a silent stage facing hundreds of expectant faces. After the PA had sputtered out for the second time, Gagneux turned to the audience, his slight frame and clouds of black hair silhouetted against the blue lights and mounds of gear, an apologetic grin upon his face. Then, up from the crowd, came a ragged handful of voices, singing the chorus to the chills-inducing title track for his breakout album in unison: ”Devil is fine.” He leaned forward and answered them—”Little one better heed my warning”—in that booming, bluesy voice of his, and the audience finished the couplet for him. He sang back the next line, and back came the thunderous chorus, rising from several hundred throats.
That call-and-response only lasted a few seconds, but its impact reverberated through the rest of the festival. Word of mouth is crucial for a band like Zeal & Ardor—a bedroom project-turned-juggernaut that rose to hyped-up prominence in a matter of months and is sustained by fan interest instead of major label machinery—and those 50 minutes in that church cemented the band’s reputation as The Next Big Thing in Metal.
“Having such a potentially devastating moment turn into such a supportive one is only a testament to the crowd of that festival,” Gagneux demurs, selling himself a bit short as is his habit. Lest we forget, Gagneux possesses an incredibly powerful, versatile voice, as well as a thoroughly original sound and the chops to pull it all together seamlessly. At the main event, despite all the setbacks and pre-show jitters, Gagneux and his crew did just fine, and really, it shouldn’t have come as any big surprise.
After all, he’s got the Devil on his side.
Having such a potentially devastating moment turn into such a supportive one is only a
testament to the crowd of that festival,” Gagneux demurs,
Like nearly everything else about Zeal & Ardor, Gagneux’s discovery of his remarkable vocal style was a happy accident. His approach to songwriting now isn’t quite as unorthodox as it was in the beginning when he was idly whipping up joke songs to appease his fellow music nerds (and to mess with trolls) on online cesspool 4Chan’s music board. As a result of a racist comment, he stumbled onto a winning combination: a purposefully unholy conflagration of African-American spirituals, chain gangs songs, the blues, and Satanic black metal that drew lines between Scandinavia and the Delta, summoning both the blasphemous evils of the North and the bloodstained history of the South. Radicalis Records in Switzerland offered to release the project’s debut full-length, Devil Is Fine, in 2016 (with the Netherlands’ Reflections Records handling a limited vinyl release), and things snowballed from there.
“I think there’s a connection between the two [genres]; it’s a form of rebellion,” he said back in July 2016. “Even if slave music isn’t exactly defiant, it’s still like the triumph of the will of the people. I think there are parallels with, say, Christianity being forced upon both the Norwegians and the American slaves, and I kind of wondered what would’ve happened if slaves would’ve rebelled in a similar fashion to Burzum or Darkthrone.”
Since the release of his breakthrough album, Devil Is Fine, he has been the subject of much attention in the metal world, ranging from fawning praise to damning grumbles about trends and “fake” metal. As a biracial Swiss-American—born to a white Swiss father and black American mother—he falls so far outside the narrow profile of a stereotypical black metal musician that he’s even been accused of “appropriating” black metal, which is even funnier when one considers where all heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll came from in the first goddamn place: black musicians.
The past year has been a whirlwind for Gagneux and his band, with invitations to play massive festivals like Reading and Leeds colliding with offers to open for Prophets of Rage and Marilyn Manson. He’s assembled a crack music industry team of high-octane publicists and booking agents who coordinate with his manager and record labels MVKA in Brighton, UK and Radicalis in Basel, Switzerland, who have helped guide him through the pitfalls of unexpected stardom. Zeal & Ardor made its debut North American appearance at Psycho Las Vegas 2017, with a short run of tour dates tacked on, including a NYC date at heavy metal haven Saint Vitus. Now, he’s preparing to take Zeal & Ardor on the road.
“This year is mainly going to be us touring and me writing where I find the time to do so,” he explains. “We get to play festivals that we couldn’t afford to go to, so all in all that’s pretty goshdarn neat.We haven’t toured extensively yet, only had legs of 4 to 7 days, so we’re trying to get accustomed to the thought of the vagabond lifestyle. I, for one, am very excited.”
With everything he’s been juggling, it’s a mystery how Gagneux had time to get down to the business of writing and recording his next album—but, he pulled it off, and the result, Stranger Fruit, is a tour de force in the making.
“I try not to have an audience in my head, because I think that’s what made the first record mean something. For Stranger Fruit, the thought was to have the two elements contrast each other, but also have them homogeneous at times,” he explains of the album’s genre- hopping. “There was more leaning into the extremes of the two genres this time, so at times there is a greater discrepancy and at times they congeal in interesting ways. I wouldn’t say it was hard, it’s the most interesting part of making this music, but it did take a lot of trial and error as well as iteration to get it to a point that I liked.”
“I did the writing myself, but had producer Zebo Adam help me out with guitar sounds, micing etc. the only other musician on the record is Marco von Almen who also provides his drumming to the live band. Finally, Kurt Ballou mixed the record and unsurprisingly did a stellar job at it.”
Stranger Fruit, is a masterful blend of the darkest Delta blues, soaring gospel, and ice- storms of blackened metal. On this album, Gagneux has refined his genre-spanning sound into an utterly cohesive signature, one that transitions seamlessly between its elements and embraces even more outside influences, electronic and organic alike. Devil Is Fine was a welcome surprise, but Stranger Fruit is a full-fledged manifesto, down to the provocative title that recalls jazz icon Billie Holiday’s unforgettable, smokey tribute to the Black lives stolen on Southern soil. On Stranger Fruit, Zeal & Ardor has found its soul.
Though Gagneux says he hates the word “responsibility,” now that his work is so well- known, he’s been forced to reexamine it through a different prism, and to understand how it fits into the conversations about race and culture and metal and how they all intersect that Devil Is Fine sparked.
“It’s not a bad outcome,” he mused. “I’ll put it this way: if this had happened five years ago, I don’t think I would have had the experience to approach it the right way. [Now], if that’s what I get to do, I should do it, but I have to do it in the right way. That’s why I have to think about what I stand for. I can’t afford to fuck up—people actually listen to me now.”
“Black metal is very protective of their culture because it used to be a dear and secretive thing,” he says, a faint smile curling his lip. “Now it’s in the open to a certain degree. It used to be the most aggressive and extreme thing, [but] it isn’t anymore. It has to evolve—and I don’t know how exactly—but we should fucking try at least.”
That commitment to change is something, at least—a glimmer of light in a world that so often intentionally plunges itself into darkness.
The Damned Things
With a lineup consisting of members of Anthrax, Fall Out Boy, and Every Time I Die, the Damned Things seem like one of rock’s unlikeliest supergroups. The project began when Scott Ian and Joe Trohman met and, after hitting it off, decided to start a project to fill some of their free time. Rounding out the lineup is Anthrax’s Rob Caggiano, Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley, and Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley. While the group members cover a wide range of sounds in their day jobs, they’re able to pull together the best parts of everything as the Damned Things, utilizing the powerful riffage of Anthrax and the driving, hook-laden pop of Fall Out Boy to create an infectious thrash/classic rock hybrid.
Every lasting legacy remains rooted in an undying urge to grow. After two decades at the forefront of all things guitar, a GRAMMY® Award win, 40 million-plus units sold between Alter Bridge, Creed, and his eponymous Tremonti, and countless other accolades, Mark Tremonti once again summited an uncharted creative peak in 2018…
For the very first time, the guitarist and singer crafted an immersive concept and accompanying novel for Tremonti’s fourth full-length album and first for Napalm Records, A Dying Machine. As passionate about authors like Gene Wolfe and George R.R. Martin as he is about hard rock and heavy metal, the multitalented musician architected a big screen-worthy tale amplified by his most cohesive sonic vision to date.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” he admits. “I had the vision in mind the entire time. Some songs directly relate to the narrative, while some of them are more ambiguous. Even with the concept, it’s very personal. At it’s core, this is a human story, but with a twist.”
Since emerging in 2012, he and his bandmates—Eric Friedman [guitar, bass] and Garrett Whitlock [drums]—have built the foundation for such an ambitious statement. Their full-length debut All I Was and the follow up records Cauterize and Dust have earned the band a very strong following. The band has supported these records with extensive headlining gigs and festival appearances everywhere from Rock on the Range to Shiprocked.
In the minutes leading up to an Alter Bridge show in Hungary, the idea for this opus serendipitously arrived.
“I was warming up on guitar, and I just started writing this chord progression and singing over it,” he recalls. “The words, ‘You’re a dying machine’ came out. I thought about the subject matter throughout the night.”
That story unfolds as an emotionally charged narrative, spanning obsession, unrequited love, and destruction. The plot takes place at the turn of the next century, and the plan is to have the novel available at the same time as the record release.
Once again, he joined forces with longtime producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Slash, Alter Bridge] for recording in Orlando during late 2017. Beyond generating a pristine tone on Tremonti’s signature PRS MT-15 amp, the guys approached the sessions “more prepared than ever in the past.”
Fittingly, the band introduces this body of work with the title track “A Dying Machine.” Muscular and mechanized riffing spirals out towards an airy hook and hypnotic fingerstyle solo.
“I felt like ‘A Dying Machine’ was the perfect way to invite listeners into this world,” explains Tremonti.
The album itself kicks off fueled by the speed demon six-string death march of “Bringer of War.” A melodically massive hook underscores the apocalyptic landslide of down-picking and fiery fretwork.
“It’s about a warmonger with no pity who is just hell bent on destruction,” he elaborates.
Tremonti explores a new guitar tuning on the track, “Trust”.
“That’s a sound we’ve never embraced with the tuning and chord voicings. There’s a new mood to it.”
The crystalline blues-style tones of “The First The Last” belie a raw intensity of a different nature as the band “gets away with writing an emotionally charged song, because it’s in a fictional landscape,” laughs Tremonti. “You could liken it to somebody losing everything they ever cared about.”
The conclusion “Found” represents the biggest departure as it ends the album with an instrumental industrialized hum evocative of Massive Attack. It literally replicates the sound of A Dying Machine.
Meanwhile, the first single “Take You With Me” hinges on an airtight thrash gallop before an expansive and entrancing chorus.
He adds, “It’s basically saying, ‘Be proud of who you are. Be proud of whatever scars you have. Don’t ever forget where you came from. Stand up for yourself, and I’ll help you do it. You’re smarter and stronger than you’ll ever know. It’s someone trying to raise somebody up.’ “
With extensive headline runs on the horizon and a European tour supporting Iron Maiden, Tremonti continues to grow into an ambitious hard rock force.
“This is an emotional record,” he leaves off. “I want fans to get a lot of emotion out of it. I’m very proud of the lyrics. I hope they stand out as much as anything else on the record.”
The very day Yelawolf was born, his teenage mother strapped him into a stroller and rolled him around the mall. The first week of his life, she took him to house parties, and by the time he left high school, the family had roamed to so many towns that Yelawolf had attended 15 different schools.
“I really never ever stopped moving,” he says while driving around Nashville, his home of the past three years. “That’s my life story in a nutshell.”
With his latest release, Love Story, perhaps he can finally downshift. Since 2010’s Trunk Muzik, his career has been on the fast track. His appearance—his tattoos include a catfish swimming down his forearm and “Heart of Dixie” stamped on his stomach—and raps about Appalachian meth dealers might’ve made him a novelty act. But his rapid-fire delivery and intense live show ensured no one considered him a joke. As Pitchfork marveled, “Yelawolf is a powerful new rap voice, one that draws from all over the map without sounding much like anyone else.” Interscope Records agreed and within three months, he had a major label deal. Later that year, the tape was re-released as Trunk Muzik 0-60, and Rolling Stone praised him as “an MC whose liquid flow breathes life into genre clichés.” In January 2011, he signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, and his fan base grew even more rabid. Yet Wolf wasn’t satisfied.
“The mullet and Three 6 Mafia. How do you make that work?” he says. “What I’ve always been trying to do is figure out how to make that into a good mixture of music.”
Yelawolf was born Michael Wayne Atha in Gadsden, Alabama, where his two musical loves grew organically. His mom dated a sound engineer, and Wolf remembers being onstage at age six with Dwight Yoakam, and Run DMC coming by his house to party after their local show when he was seven. “I woke up in this trailer park and figured out what was ironic about who I was and where I was from wasn’t that what I was experiencing was new. It was just that I recognized the extreme of it,” he says.
After being homeless in Berkeley and working on a ship off the coast of Washington state, Yelawolf landed back in the South and started making mixtapes. He was purposefully rowdy, wearing head-to-toe deer hunting camouflage and gold teeth. In Atlanta, Wolf and his friend Malay (the producer who later won a Grammy for Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange) started a “futuristic country hip-hop rock band” that included both a DJ and a black fiddle player. Their self-described “arena rap” became popular in Atlanta, pulling huge crowds as well as the attention of Lil Wayne and L.A. Reid. But their idea was ahead of its time and fizzled.
Wolf was poor, and his now ex-girlfriend and their child were still living in Gadsden. Running out of options, he returned to Alabama with producer WLPWR. “We got an 8-track recorder in the back of this shitty house in this factory neighborhood worthy of any Harmony Korine film, and we wrote Trunk Muzik front to back,” he says. He hustled back to Atlanta to record it, and the tape that set his career ablaze and resulted in his working with legends like Bun B and Big Boi was completed in all of a week and a half.
“I became that shit. I saw the power in it. [And] I felt fulfilled,” he admits. “But I always knew, ‘Wait ‘till they hear the shit I did with Malay.’”
At long last, they’re listening, and the response is as positive as he always believed it would be. Recorded entirely in Nashville’s Blackbird Studios and executively produced by Eminem, his passion project—fittingly titled Love Story—is a rootsy, country-tinged rock album brimming with strong lyricism. Finally, he’s struck the right balance.
“I’m not reinventing the wheel. It’s nothing Kid Rock hasn’t done,” he says. “But what is new is my deep appreciation for lyricism in hip hop, [my desire] to be a great lyricist. And a deep appreciation for outlaw country, for raw classic rock. I started to learn how to blend concepts together.”
Indeed he did. The album’s first single, “Till It’s Gone,” is a driving barn burner of a song elevated by Wolf’s melodically sung hook. Radio friendly without sacrificing its soul, it’s an undeniable smash that’s in line with the country’s recent obsession with the culture of rural American life. In fact, “Till It’s Gone” premiered last September on the wildly popular FX drama Sons of Anarchy.
“It might be simple, but when I decided to put down sneakers and throw on some boots … it feels like I’ve come full circle … riding Harleys with my Dad … it all makes sense, ” he says. A smile enters his voice. “It’s the biggest exhale.”
Black Label Society
Black Label Society bandleader Zakk Wylde wields his guitar like a Viking weapon, bashing out thick riffage and squeezing out expressive squeals as if the glory of his Berserker brotherhood depends upon every single note, which of course, it does.
Charismatic beast and consummate showman, Wylde puts his massive heart and earnest soul on display with unbridled, unchained, animalistic passion in Black Label Society, whether it’s a crushingly heavy blues-rock barnstormer or a piano-driven ode to a fallen brother. Each Black Label Society album is another opportunity to top the one before it, but like AC/DC or The Rolling Stones, BLS isn’t here to reinvent the wheel. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a brand we can trust.
Mighty missives like “Damn the Flood,” “In This River,” “Stillborn,” “My Dying Time,” “Queen of Sorrow,” and “Blood is Thicker Than Water” have amassed millions of downloads and streams. They are the soundtracks to sweat-soaked revelry, jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings, and adrenaline-fueled sports.
Grimmest Hits, the band’s tenth full-length studio album and follow-up to Billboard Top 5 entries Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010), Black Label Society submit new anthems like radio single “Room of Nightmares,” the bluesy “Seasons of Falter,” and Southern-fried “The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away” to the BLS faithful; 12 unstoppable tracks to add to that lifestyle soundtrack.
While members of esteemed rock and metal institutions like Alice In Chains, Metallica, Type O Negative, Clutch, Danzig, and Megadeth have passed through the band’s ranks, Black Label Society has consistently been defined by Wylde’s unmistakable voice and signature guitar sound and the steady rumble of bassist John DeServio. BLS is rounded out, in the studio and onstage, by guitarist Dario Lorina (since 2013) and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb (since 2012).
This is as much a band as it is a symbol of strength, honor, commitment, and diehard “society,” as evidenced by the legions of supporters who proudly donned the Black Label Society colors years before motorcycle culture was back in fashion.
Black Label Society are vigilant keepers of the hard rock n’ roll flame, protecting its sonic characteristics and vibe while engaging in reverent study of its chief architects. Given that Wylde’s kids’ are named Hayley Rae, Jesse John Michael (named after his Godfather, John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne), Hendrix Halen, and Sabbath Page, it’s clear that he takes his study of rock n’ roll’s greats very seriously.
To many, Wylde is synonymous with pinch harmonics as much as Chuck Berry dreamt up the duck walk. Zakk’s signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. His infamous leather bellbottoms hang in the Grammy Museum. His handprints are on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame. He’s performed the National Anthem at major sporting events. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He even momentarily joined Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff in Guns N’ Roses. He is a playable character in the Guitar Hero games.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest serving guitar-shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like “No More Tears,” “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere,” and “Miracle Man.” Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and drummer Joey Castillo (ex-Queens Of The Stone Age), Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
Before he graced the cover of every meaningful guitar magazine on the planet, Zakk Wylde was a kid in New Jersey who picked up his instrument before he’d even hit high school. He was still a teenager when he got his demo tape into Ozzy’s hands. Together with the man he affectionately calls “the Boss” (and whose wife and manager, Sharon, he calls “Mom”), Wylde was part of the biggest selling album of the legendary Black Sabbath singer’s solo career, No More Tears, as well as the double-platinum Ozzmosis, and earned a Grammy for the live recording of “I Don’t Want to Change the World.”
One part invading horde and all parts traveling carnival party, Black Label Society traverses the world powered by caffeine and cacophony. BLS engages and inspires audiences everywhere they go, on every radio dial they burn, inviting all comers to join in and participate in their brotherhood and sisterhood of hard rock and vigor.
Now ten studio albums deep, with solo records, Ozzy shows, and Zakk Sabbath tours all kicking ass simultaneously, Black Label Society rides ever forward, fist held high.
Skillet lets their music speak the loudest. That’s how the quartet has cemented its place as one of the 21st century’s most successful rock bands. Selling over 11 million units worldwide, the Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitars]—have
received two GRAMMY® Award nominations and won a Billboard Music Award for the platinum-certified Awake. Their double-platinum single “Monster” is “the eighth most streamed rock song of 2015” with a total of 57 million plays (and counting) on Spotify and would earn the distinction of becoming “the best-selling digital single in the history of Christian Music.” 2013’s Rise bowed at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 upon release and received resounding and eclectic acclaim from the likes of USA Today, New York Times, Revolver Loudwire, and more. The group’s ninth full-length album, UNLEASHED [Atlantic Records/Word], sees them turn everything up louder, amplifying all aspects of their signature hypnotic sound. Channeling an intense muse, John immediately commenced writing just months after Rise hit shelves.
“By the time Rise came out, I could take a little bit of a breather and experience it,” he explains. “I remember thinking, ‘this feels important to me, but I need something a little more urgent.’ I didn’t want whatever we did next to be so emotionally heavy. I wanted to make a record that made people feel the music – an album that would connect people to the music as well as to each other. An album, like some of my favorites, that’d be like a party to listen to – where people could sing along – together.
That idea solidified as Skillet toured Europe in 2013 with Nickelback. Night after night, John watched the non-English speaking audience sing every word back to him. It left an indelible mark on his writing process. “It struck me, how music is much bigger than a language,” he affirms. “There’s a universal feeling. We wanted to get that emotion across more through the music than with the words. I aimed to write songs people could easily relate to anywhere and everywhere.”
Getting off the road in 2015, John headed to Los Angeles to begin recording what would become UNLEASHED with producer Brian Howes—who helmed the 2006 platinum selling Comatose and co-wrote the platinum No. 1 smash “Awake and Alive.” Cutting half of the album with Brian, John tapped the talents of multiple producers for the first
time in Skillet history, working with both GRAMMY Award-winning producer Seth Mosley in Nashville and Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed] in Las Vegas.
“Comatose was a very special album for a lot of reasons,” he continues. “We wanted to record with Brian again and when the chance came up we were both ready to go. I’m also a huge fan of Kevin Churko, and it was amazing to have the opportunity to write with him. When I met Seth we just clicked. The entire process with each of them was such a great experience.”
The first single “Feel Invincible” explodes to life on a swinging guitar chug transitioning to sweeping electronics and a theatrical vocal call-and-response. Everything culminates on a towering chant that’s impossible to shake just as a melodic guitar lead takes off. “It’s a fight song,” says John. “Sometimes, everything in the world makes you want to give up. This is a reminder not to. I think, ‘This is my life. This is my family. I can’t go around being scared all the time.’ I have the strength to face what’s happening.” On the other end of the spectrum, “Stars” shines with a passionate and poetic refrain, “Here I am, lifting up my heart to the one who holds the stars.” Amidst the shimmering electronics and orchestration, it carries a message that John hopes will be easy to understand.
“It goes along with wanting to speak to as many people as possible,” he continues. “On a deeper spiritual level, for those who may not believe, it’s saying that there’s something bigger out there—whether it’s your community, family, or friends. Basically that we’re not, and don’t have to be alone.”
Whether it’s the snapping crunch of “Burn it Down” or the skittering crash and burn on “Out of Hell,” the record exudes a propulsive energy that can speak to both sides of the band’s audience, whether they’re sharing a bill with Disturbed or Lecrae. “It’s been an amazing journey,” John leaves off. “The fans, the Panheads, means everything to us. They’re the reason we’re here. They make our shows what they are. We wanted to give that energy back to them in UNLEASHED.” Ultimately, this is Skillet at their most potent, pure, and powerful.
When The Cult were preparing to hit the stage at Coachella in 2014, few were expecting the fury that the band delivered. As the festival goers milled about, packing in the field in front of the stage, Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy were building up to a crescendo, of which, when the smoke cleared, Rolling Stone would hail as “the Messianic moment of Coachella”. Critics have hailed the band as incendiary, ground-breaking, and transcendent, but the band themselves choose to look forward… and in a lot of ways, prefer to be seen as survivors… marginalized and vulgarized, much in the same way their song subjects have been. And it was on the ride home from this performance in the desert that the roots of their tenth album Hidden City began to take root. And it was then that the Astbury realized he was ready to begin putting together the final chapter of a trilogy – one that hadn’t been not, until then, fully realized… one that, with the release of Hidden City in early 2016 would complete a circle that had been forming a long time before… one that, when complete, would encompass their acknowledgement of the global community within a metaphor for our spiritual lives, our intimate interior lives… one that spoke for those with voices who are not heard… those who live in outside of the public eye, within the “Hidden City.”
Hidden City isn’t an album as much as it’s an environment… a world of layers that, when peeled away, you begin to discover the wild spaces that The Cult inhabits. “I find today’s gurus are trying to peddle some cure, product or insight as if it’s a new phenomenon,” Astbury explains. “My place is to respond, not react, to observe, participate and share through words and music. There is no higher authority than the heart.”
It is this intense internalization of concepts and invented realms that builds Hidden City – its framework built of tightly woven stories of experience and visions with underlying themes of redemption and rebirth, and its façade – The Cult’s visceral and textured music.
More specifically, the name “Hidden City” stems from the Spanish phrase “La Ciudad Oculta” which is essentially a ghetto in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There is unfathomable poverty in the hidden city, a town the Argentine government turns a blind eye towards while highlighting the cosmopolitan and European flair of the more proper sections of the city. They “hide” the evidence of the deep social inequalities present in Argentine society. “Hidden city” became the perfect metaphor for revolt of the self and soul, and the framework for Cult’s third record of three in nine years, aptly titled Hidden City.
The closing chapter on the album trilogy the band had built with 2007’s Born Into This (“The Fall”) and 2012’s Choice of Weapon (“Dark Night of the Soul”) preceding it, 2016’s Hidden City (“Rebirth”) features Astbury’s signature baritone and blood-soaked lyrics paired with Duffy’s smouldering, textured guitar tones, creating a musical environment that is fearless and peerless. It is within this archetype that their music takes shape and learns to breathe.
Produced by Bob Rock and written by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy the team has collaborated on what has turned out to be the brutal and beautiful masterpiece Hidden City.
As you descend into their world, The Cult ask but one thing: Defend the beauty of Hidden City.
There are few heavy metal bands that have managed to scale the heights that Judas Priest have during their nearly 50-year career. Their presence and influence remains at an all-time high as evidenced by 2018’s ‘Firepower’ being the highest charting album of their career, a 2010 Grammy Award win for ‘Best Metal Performance’, plus being a 2006 VH1 Rock Honors recipient and a 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination.
Judas Priest originally formed in 1969 in Birmingham, England (an area that many feel birthed heavy metal). Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill would be the nucleus of musicians (along with several different drummers over the years) that would go on to change the face of heavy metal. After a ‘feeling out’ period of a couple of albums, 1974’s ‘Rocka Rolla’ and 1976’s ‘Sad Wings of Destiny’ this line-up truly hit their stride. The result was a quartet of albums that separated Priest from the rest of the hard rock pack – 1977’s ‘Sin After Sin’, 1978’s ‘Stained Class’ and ‘Hell Bent for Leather’, and 1979’s ‘Unleashed in the East’, which spawned such metal anthems as ‘Sinner’, ‘Diamonds and Rust’, ‘Hell Bent for Leather’, and ‘The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)’. Also, Priest were one of the first metal bands to exclusively wear leather and studs – a look that began during this era and would eventually be embraced by metalheads throughout the world.
It could be said that Priest simply owned the ’80s as they were second to none as far as pure metal goes, releasing such all-time classic albums as 1980’s ‘British Steel’, 1981’s ‘Point of Entry’, 1982’s ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, and 1984’s ‘Defenders of the Faith’. Once more, these titles spawned countless enduring metal anthems including ‘Breaking the Law’, ‘Living After Midnight’, ‘Heading Out to the Highway’, and ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’. The ’80s were also a decade where Priest became a global arena headliner, offering show-stopping sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including the first-ever Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington Park (1980) in the United Kingdom, the US Festival (1983) in the United States and Live Aid (1985) in the United States.
The remainder of the ’80s saw Priest embrace more melodic hard rock sounds on 1986’s ‘Turbo’ and 1988’s ‘Ram it Down’ (in addition to their second live set, 1987’s ‘Priest…Live!’) before releasing arguably the heaviest release of their entire career, 1990’s ‘Painkiller’ (which saw the arrival of Scott Travis on drums). Judas Priest were special guests on the 2004 Ozzfest, appearing alongside Black Sabbath, before issuing ‘Angel of Retribution’ a year later.
2008 saw the release of the double-disc concept album, ‘Nostradamus’, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200, and a year later ‘A Touch of Evil: Live’ was issued (which led to the group’s aforementioned Grammy Award win due to a killer rendition of the classic, ‘Dissident Aggressor’).
In 2009, Priest began a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the release of their classic ‘British Steel’ album, which included a tour that saw the group perform the album in its entirety, and was followed up by an expanded double-disc version of ‘British Steel’ in 2010, plus a DVD of their live show.
By 2011, Downing announced that he was exiting the band. With a still-burning desire to continue flying the flag of metal, Judas Priest decided to continue on, by enlisting newcomer Richie Faulkner on guitar. The move seemed to have reinvigorated the band, as evidenced by a show-stealing performance on the ‘American Idol’ TV program, that also served as Faulkner’s debut performance with the band (also in 2011, as was the release of a new compilation ‘The Chosen Few’, which included Priest classics selected by some of metal’s biggest names) and the ‘Epitaph’ concert DVD in 2013. Priest’s next studio effort would arrive in 2014, ‘Redeemer of Souls’, which scaled the U.S. charts to #6, and was supported by another strong tour.
In 2017, Priest received a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the following year, issuing their latest studio album, Firepower. Co-produced by Tom Allom and Andy Sneap, the 14-track album has become one of the most successful of the band’s entire career – landing in the top-5 of 17 countries (including their highest chart placement ever in the U.S., at #5), and scoring their highest charting commercial rock radio single in decades with “Lightning Strike.” After wrapping up a highly successful winter/spring tour of North America in 2018, Judas Priest then proceeded to rock across North America with some true heavy metal Firepower in the summer and fall – on tour with fellow rock legends Deep Purple. And Priest continues to go from strength to strength, including tour dates throughout the world for the remainder of 2018 and well into 2019, plus Euro dates with metal’s prince of darkness, Ozzy Osbourne.
A door opens. Footsteps lead to a chair inside of a nondescript room. A person sits down and exhales.
As the breath releases, this protagonist experiences a physical, mental, and emotional journey that stretches from life’s lowest lows to life’s highest highs. Throughout the trip, anxieties dissipate, doubts dissolve, and demons disappear. You might expect everything in between to transpire over the course of some blockbuster Netflix series. However, this story belongs to Shinedown’s sixth full-length album, ATTENTION ATTENTION [Atlantic Records]. The record-breaking multiplatinum rock band—Brent Smith [vocals], Zach Myers [guitar], Eric Bass [bass, production], and Barry Kerch [drums]—once again uproot convention and deliver a personal, poignant, and powerful body of work that evolves from ruin to reclamation to revelation.
“As we wrote the songs, they showed me that they were all related to each other during a very early stage,” Brent explains. “It’s one complete thought, because it’s a cohesive story. A lot of this is about me, but it’s also about Eric, Barry, and Zach. It was born from the last four years of our lives. I’ve always said, ‘You’ve got to fall in a hole to figure out how to get out of it.’ We start off at the bottom. This person fights to build back up, realizes he or she isn’t perfect, accepts that nothing in this world is just handed over, and unlocks the resolve to take everything on. You’ll see this shift and change as it progresses down the tracklist. Finally, the character becomes confident again. It’s meant to be listened to from beginning to end. We wanted to do something that wasn’t traditional.”
Leading the charge for 21st century rock by uncompromisingly challenging themselves and occupying the cutting edge, Shinedown engenders diehard love among millions of global fans. The band’s unmatched domination of multi-format rock radio commenced with their 2003 platinum-certified debut Leave A Whisper and its gold-selling 2005 follow-up Us and Them. 2008’s Billboard Top 10, double-platinum LP The Sound of Madness remained on the Top 200 Chart for a staggering 120 consecutive weeks and made rock history with six #1 singles including the gold “Devour,” platinum “If You Only Knew,” and the triple-platinum breakthrough “Second Chance,” igniting a mainstream crossover and soaring to #1 at Hot AC and Top 3 at Top 40.
After contributing the gold-certified “Diamond Eyes” for The Expendables film and “Her Name Is Alice” to the album Almost Alice inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the band seized #1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart and #4 on the Top 200 with 2012’s gold-certified Amaryllis, which launched three #1 Active Rock anthems —“Bully,” “Unity,” and “Enemies.” 2015’s Threat To Survival marked their third straight Top 10 debut on the Top 200, arriving at #5 while also debuting at #1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums Chart and bringing Shinedown’s total count of number one rock singles to 12 thanks to hits like “Cut the Cord” and “State of My Head.” Every one of the singles released over Shinedown’s nearly two-decade career has ascended to the Top 10 – a feat unmatched by any other rock band, now or ever before. Beyond sold out headline gigs worldwide and numerous festival headlining sets, Shinedown has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, has 11 platinum and gold singles and four platinum and gold albums, and averages more than 3.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify as one of the most-listened-to rock bands on the platform with over 600 million streams, contributing to their more than 1 billion total overall streams to date.
While on the road for Threat To Survival, Brent found himself mired in darkness. Never one to pull any punches, this period provided a bedrock of inspiration for the writing process.
“In order to make something truly and purely Shinedown, we had to talk about what we know, which is each other,” he admits. “I’ve had to battle certain situations, when it comes to substance abuse and addiction. That reared its ugly head. I basically had fallen from grace, because I’m not perfect. I had to pull myself together and build myself back up. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for these three other gentlemen. So, I wrote about it all. This is probably the most truthful thing I’ve done in the last decade. I have a tattoo on the top of my left hand that says, ‘Your pain is a gift.’ That’s how I feel. It’s what made me who I am.”
“From a lyrical standpoint, I knew what the story was,” says Eric. “Brent was so open and honest. I grew up listening to a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, and I love that cinematic element. Brent’s lyrics give you visuals, but the music can to. That was the basis for this.”
Given the deeply personal nature of the record, the musicians went in-house for production, enlisting Eric to produce and mix an entire album’s worth of material for the very first time. Working at his Ocean Industries Studios in Charleston, SC, they devoted the bulk of 2017 to recording what would become ATTENTION ATTENTION. Throughout that time, Eric expanded the sonic palette dramatically, bringing cinematic heft to the core.
“We knew that we probably wouldn’t be able to get an outsider to come in and make this the way we wanted to,” says Brent. “It had to be Eric. He did an unbelievable job.”
“I didn’t want it to feel safe,” adds Eric. “I wanted it to feel dangerous and real. My goal is always to try create something that will perk people’s ears up when they hear it and naturally draw attention to itself. We had to go digging in the dirt, searching, and finding. From the beginning, I had a scope of what this record could be. Songs can guide you and let you know how they want to sound and what they want to be. I wanted to shake things up as much as possible. I think we achieved that.”
The group introduce the record with the opener and first single “DEVIL.” A rush of unpredictable rhythms and robust, roaring, and raw guitars gives way to an ominous, yet overpowering refrain, “I was sent to warn you the devil’s in the next room.”
“It’s the beginning of the story, but it’s also a way to come back and make sure the rock ‘n’ roll community understands that we haven’t abandoned them by any stretch of the imagination,” the frontman grins. “It’s a very universal song, because of its intensity. It’s all about being terrified and afraid. You have to accept the fact you can’t pretend you’re not scared. The only way to get stronger is to respect that certain situations are terrifying. The devil might be you. You need to learn how to readjust and get out of your own way.”
On “KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE,” airy synths and the crack of a whip snap into a percussive march and snarling refrain instigated by the pitfalls of social media. Elsewhere during “GET UP,” lush piano chords underscore a lyrical ode to Eric and his struggles with depression as Brent assures, “Take it from me, you’re not the only one—who can’t see straight. If you are ever in doubt, don’t sell yourself short, you might be bulletproof. Hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed, but you gotta try.”
The track “THE HUMAN RADIO” culminates on a choir comprised of the producer’s sisters and mom. It reaches heavenly heights on the back of energized distortion tailor-made for sports stadiums.
“The world is calling to the person in the room as a reminder that there are other people outside fighting for survival, truth, and just to stay alive,” he goes on. “The human radio is your heartbeat. It’s an undivided song and a symbol of the human spirit.”
For the vocalist, it hints at a larger message and optimistic social implications. Brent elaborates, “This whole record lets the public know we have each other. We may not always agree, but we’ve got to respect each other.”
“BRILLIANT” closes out ATTENTION ATTENTION with a gallop of guitars, screeching leads, and an intense vocal crescendo. It concludes on an inspiring proclamation, “It’s my day to be brilliant!”
“That song holds a lot of weight with me,” he states. “It’s designed to hit you like a flood of emotion. In the story, the person stands up. It’s time to get moving. That means literally run for your life. It’s the moment the individual becomes fearless.”
Shinedown too remains as fearless as ever as they kick off what promises to be their biggest and boldest chapter yet. Ultimately, the band delivers an engaging, powerful and enduring statement on ATTENTION ATTENTION.
“I want this to feel like a journey,” concludes Eric. “I hope it catches listeners’ attention. Throughout the process of listening to it, the hair on their arms stands up and they become invested in this creation. That’s what I would love for people to take away.”
“I want everyone to know we will always go to the next level,” Brent leaves off. “There’s no ceiling. We’ll continue to push ourselves not only as musicians, but as songwriters and as people. I feel like this is a record the world needs right now. It’s about celebrating the will we all have inside of us. To me, this band means giving up is not an option. That’s why we never say ‘Goodbye’; we say, ‘Until next time.’”
Los Angeles’ rock collective Dirty Honey are an unstoppable force.
Their music delves into the pillars of rock & roll to deliver a refreshing modern take on a classic sound.
The band features dynamic frontman Marc Labelle, guitar slinger John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian & drummer Corey Coverstone.
Skillful, creative musicianship paired with undeniably magnetic energy set Dirty Honey apart from their contemporaries.
Catch their electrifying live show regularly in LA & follow for upcoming tour dates and music.
cleopatrick is a heavy alt-rock duo from the tiny town of Cobourg, Ontario – yup, the ‘c’ is lowercase.
Best friends since kindergarten, frontman Luke Gruntz and drummer Ian Fraser have an enviable connection that translates into a powerfully unified expression of sound. With a bastardized bass amp and split signal, Gruntz simultaneously commands the range of bass and guitar topped with provocative blues grooves and take-down breakdowns.
In early 2016, the pair recorded their first EP 14 in its entirety in a single studio session and was later dubbed one of the most promising acts for 2017 by 94.9 The Rock’s “Generation Next” program.
Now piling all of the torment and rhetoric of chasing big dreams within the limits of a small town, cleopatrick’s brand new single “hometown” gives a tasteful hint of growth and raw revelation expressed in their upcoming sophomore EP the boys (Fall 2018).
Three-piece alt/psych rock band Demob Happy formed in their hometown of Newcastle, U.K. in 2008, but it wasn’t until they moved their operation south to the creatively open city of Brighton, in 2011, that they began to flourish. Operating out of the Nowhere Man Café that they partially owned, Matt Marcantonio (bassist, lyricist, lead singer), Tom Armstrong (drummer, vocalist), and Adam Godfrey (guitar, vocals) set about gaining a reputation for their raucous live shows and freewheeling spirit.
In 2015, with a wealth of material accrued since their formation, they took a break from city life and isolated themselves in a wi-fi-free Welsh cottage. During that time they tightened up their existing material and wrote additional tracks, which formed the basis for their debut album, Dream Soda; they claimed it was a concept album based on a theme of consumerism. To release the album they partnered with label SO Recordings and ventured to Eastbourne’s Echo Zoo Studios, where friend and producer Christoph Skirl took care of the final mixes. In support of Dream Soda, they embarked on a European tour and the U.K. festival trail, which included a slot at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2015.
Amigo The Devil
If you’ve ever heard a room full of people yelling “I hope your husband dies” in a some harmoniously sloppy, drunken unison, you’ve probably stumbled into an Amigo The Devil show. Danny Kiranos, better known to the masses as his musical counterpart Amigo The Devil, has been challenging the expectations of traditional folk, country music purists, and rock/extreme metal fans alike with his morbid, yet oddly romantic, take on folk that has amassed a dedicated and cult-like fan-base. Despite being armed with only his vocals and a banjo/acoustic guitar, the live show is worlds away from what people expect of a folk show. Loaded with sing-alongs and an unsuspecting dose of humor to make otherwise grim topics accessible for fans of every genre, the songs remain deeply rooted in the tradition of story-telling that seems to be slipping away from the human condition.
For the press release, I basically just wrote down my experiences going into and my purpose for this record and same thing, use it as you please or if you want me to do something else entirely, let me know. I know Kevin wanted me to dig deep and get personal so I did.
“I got tired of seeing people overcomplicate what they feel, or worse, ignore it altogether. Amigo The Devil started as an outlet for the brutal honesty that people didn’t feel comfortable discussing. More than create, I listened. At a bar, while eating dinner, at the DMV. Call it creeping if you want but it’s a pass time nonetheless. Even in the music being released about it, people used metaphors to dance around and avoid mentioning the dark thoughts people have and that just isn’t enough to shake you from the daydream, or a fever. It had to be simple, direct and honest. At the start, it seemed logical to learn this process by taking the worst people and trying to find the humanity in them. I wrote some songs about serial killers and realized that no matter how despicable their crimes were, everything was still rooted in the human condition with the same basic need to be needed, to feel valued, to have worth. Through this learning process, I realized there was actually something so much more dangerous than the people committing heinous crimes and it was stained so deeply into the fabric of our daily lives. Doubt and the depression it leaves us stranded in. Every experience is clearly different but for me, all of a sudden, it felt like I was living in a well so deep that if I shouted up for help, it would be lost on the way and never heard. It’s terrifying when it feels like you’re alone down there and there isn’t enough light to look around to realize how many people are there alongside you. For some reason, I refused to talk to my friends and family about it. It was shameful or irrelevant or any other excuse I can come up with to avoid bringing it up and when they would notice and ask, I caught myself repeatedly answering “everything is fine” or any variation of it in that moment. So this record was born. I started listening again, realizing it wasn’t just me. I saw people around me falling into the well but as I started paying attention, I saw people climbing out of it too. These are the stories of leaving the burden behind, whatever that may be and hopefully along with it the realization that carrying them for any period of time doesn’t break us, but makes us stronger than we ever were.
This is where Ross Robinson comes in. He allowed me to become and guided me towards being the best vessel I could be to filter these stories through. We sat there and accepted what wanted to come through, what wanted to be heard. It was the first process of recording that ever made complete sense with absolutely no filter or veil to compensate for the sounds. Recording in a studio untouched since the 70’s with all the original gear, straight to tape. Everything, recording, mixing mastering, to tape! It was absolute and pure brutal honesty, what I’ve been trying to achieve since the start of this thing. Then Brad Wilk added his pulse to it and it felt like together we had given life to these stories that otherwise are sounds and lyrics filling space. Everyone involved dove head first into a pool without water for this one and I’m unbelievably grateful to be in there with them.”
WILSON – TASTY NASTY
After almost a decade long of global fuckery, Wilson has done the opposite of what every other band seems to do—they stopped taking shit so seriously! In the process of their, “personal awakening” they forged a new path for themselves and their sound by combining their brand of in-your-face rock n roll with the influence of Hip-Hop and all things 90s. Tasty Nasty is fresh, exciting, and most importantly fun! And it all started with a hit of acid.
Wilson’s vocalist, Chad Nicefield, took a trip to Asia with his friends to pursue happiness. Once he experimented with acid he had a revelation about his life and his outlook on the band’s music changed everything. “I just kind of realized who we are as people and our DNA was that of a bunch of lovable, silly dudes, that love to make music,” says Nicefield. “The world needs to know that about us. That needs to be in transparent our music.”
Now with no worries or inhibitions holding them back, the guys in Wilson embark on a journey through nostalgia and endearing nonsense on eleven brand new tracks. The opening track, “Dumptruck” is a sonic punch to the face as it kicks in with gang vocals chanting, “This shit bumps, this shit fucks, this shit dumps like a dump truck.” Followed by roaring guitar riffs and a chorus that really does “fuck”, the opener is a perfect dose to set your mind up for the next 35 some-odd-minutes. “Wrong Side of History” follows a Bizkit-ish path, leading you straight into the fever.
From that moment on you’re on their ride. With hints of the decade that shaped their musical tastes, combined with slick production and big singalong choruses, Tasty Nasty is equal parts self-deprecating and hilarious. This acid is one hell of a drug, as the fever dream truly kicks in, songs such as “Like A Baller” “My Hustle” and “Summertime Treat” are there to prove it! It’s not until track ten do you get a throwback to the old, heavier side of Wilson with, “House of Fuckery.” But that’s not what this record is about. It’s about looking ahead, not staring in the rearview mirror. And that, my friends, is Tasty Nasty.
Hands Like Houses
Riding high from their most successful two-and-a-half years together yet, Hands Like Houses return with -Anon., their most determined release to date.
-Anon. takes the unique sound Hands Like Houses have been cultivating over the past 10 years and injects it with a big dose of fresh, modern rock’n’roll. The most charismatic album of their career, their fourth record marries who Hands Like Houses are as individuals into an assured yet fun collection of songs that begs the audience to take a deeper listen.
Recorded at Steakhouse Studios in Hollywood with producer Colin Brittain (5 Seconds of Summer / All Time Low), conceptually “-Anon.” is a statement on the duality of the creative process – the idea that music can be shared or heard in passing and can still resonate with people even when the artist is unknown to the listener..
“I think our strength is in parallel values of art. There’s what we create, and there’s us,” says Frontman Trenton Woodley. “When people know who we are, it adds an extra layer of meaning and significance to the concept, but when they don’t, the song still stands up on its own.”
Like an anonymous poem with no author, it doesn’t matter who created it, as its strength lies in its relatability. -Anon. is Hands Like Houses giving a lyrical voice to other people’s stories and musically creating atmosphere and emotions within the listener to be shared for years to come.
“Separating from my sense of self to create something that could stand on its own was the thought process that planted the seed for ‘-Anon.’s title and concept explains Woodley. “I still take my role as a storyteller seriously, so each day we wrote, we sat down and talked about different people, different experiences, different ideas – then we chose one of those threads and followed it down the rabbit hole.”
“We had the most time off the road since writing our first album” adds guitarist Alex Pearson, “so we didn’t feel restricted or pressured to make the album sound a certain way. We had time to experiment and expand on what did and didn’t define us as a band and create something unique.’
The band felt a freedom of responsibility that allowed each song to have its own atmosphere and story – there’s fatalism and optimism, self-reflection, realism and fantasy, politics and personal journey. In the context of the album, each is its own anonymous piece to relate to – each is built around a shared human experience or perspective.
Born and bred in Canberra, Australia, Hands Like Houses – comprising of Trenton Woodley (vocals), Alexander Pearson (guitar), Joel Tyrrell (bass), Matthew Parkitny (drums) & Matt “Coops” Cooper (guitar) – are one of Australia’s biggest rock exports. The band has sold an impressive 100k+ record sales worldwide, boasts 85 million combined worldwide streams, and embarked on 15 full US and nine UK tours on the books, and three back-to-back sold out headline tours across Australia. Their critically acclaimed third album Dissonants impressively debuted in the Top 10 Billboard Independent Albums, Hard Music Albums, Alternative Albums and Rock Albums charts and #7 on the ARIA Chart (Australia).
During their decade together, the band have spent their time thrilling epic crowds at home, playing packed arenas with Bring Me The Horizon and A Day To Remember, and as one of the headliners on UNIFY 2018. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Hands Like Houses have played to tens of thousands of people across Download Festival, Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion and Northern Invasion, alongside legendary acts The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deftones, Alice Cooper and Disturbed.
Black Pistol Fire
Black Pistol Fire is a high-octane rock duo based out of Austin, Texas by way of Toronto, Canada; composed of Kevin McKeown on guitar/lead vocals and Eric Owen on drums. Drawing inspiration from blues, R&B and rock greats such as Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Nirvana, Buddy Holly and Muddy Waters, BPF’s gritty and dynamic performances are fueled by undeniable musicianship. Dubbed the “next big thing” by Huffington Post after SXSW 2013, BPF has developed a reputation for their untamed live performances. Described as “Pure fire on stage”(Degenrefy), they are quickly becoming festival veterans, including performances at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch Music Festival, Shaky Knees and Governor’s Ball, among others. After Lollapalooza 2015, Yahoo Music described Black Pistol Fire as “a power duo that can almost match the power and intensity of the massive rock sounds of the likes of Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac… in a breakout set.”
Black Pistol Fire has shared the stage with acts like Gary Clark Jr, Weezer, Heart, Wolfmother, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Band of Skulls. Their signature sound has been featured throughout television and entertainment. Their single, “Show Pony” was featured in the Ted 2 official trailer and they performed their song “Blue Eye Commotion” in a national T-Mobile TV ad. Their music can also be heard in Madden ‘15 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 video games and in numerous TV shows including Sons of Anarchy, Castle and About a Boy. “Black Pistol Fire… were, by far, the best band that played LouFest… This was the craziest I’ve seen any of the crowds at the festival… Drummer Eric Owen, shirtless and wrists wrapped, pounded the skins like he was summoning a devil. McKeown stomps so hard during his rough and intricate dirty blues, you thought he would make a hole in the stage… A must see.” – KDHX (St Louis), Loufest 2014
Mark Lanegan Band
Mark Lanegan is an American alternative musician and singer-songwriter. Born and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Lanegan began his musical career in 1984, forming the grunge band Screaming Trees. He now has a career as a solo artist.
There’s a singer with a voice 50 fathoms deep and the consistency of vitrified teak, who has been known to go to extremes in search of a song. Across continents, over oceans, through multiple time zones. From West Hollywood to… Tunbridge Wells. A long way – but Mark Lanegan knows the directions.
Early in 2016, Mark was at home in Los Angeles, working on some ideas for what might turn into his next album. He wasn’t too thrilled by what he was coming up with. Then he got an email from a friend, an English musician named Rob Marshall, thanking Mark for contributing to a new project he was putting together, Humanist. The pair first met in 2008, when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm supported Soulsavers, who Mark was singing with at the time. Now Rob was offering to write Mark some music to return the favour.
“I was like, Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything?’” Mark recalls. “Three days later he sent me *10 things… !”
In the meantime, Mark had written Blue Blue Sea, a rippling mood piece that he thought might be a more fruitful direction for his new record, and had the idea for a song called First Day Of Winter that felt like an apt closer. “It’s almost always how my records start,” he explains. “I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it’s really the same process when I’m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are tell me what the next couple should be. I’ve always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess. Start with the raw material and let that point me in the direction I want to go. So, once I was pointed in that direction, the music that came from other sources, from Rob, I just went for the ones that helped me build this narrative that I had started already.”
Within an hour, Mark had written words and vocal lines for two of the pieces Rob had cooked up at Mount Sion Studios in Kent and pinged through the virtual clouds to California. Rob’s music fitted perfectly with the direction Mark had been pondering: in essence, a more expansive progression from the moody Krautrock-influenced electronica textures of his two previous albums, Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually, Rob Marshall would co-write six of the songs on the new Mark Lanegan Band album. “I was very thankful to become reacquainted with him,” Mark deadpans.
The remainder of the album was written, recorded and produced by Lanegan’s longtime musical amanuensis Alain Johannes at his 11 AD base in West Hollywood. Everything was done and dusted within a month, unusually fast by Lanegan’s recent standards. Both Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio unfurled at leisurely pace over several months. But this time Johannes had only a fixed window of opportunity due to his ongoing touring commitments as a member of P.J. Harvey’s band. But Mark was sufficiently happy with the material to move swiftly, a reflection of contentment with his abilities as a singer and writer, which have now produced a huge body of work spanning a period of more than 30 years: whether it be his own solo records, or collaborative recordings with others, or going back to his legendary first band, the Screaming Trees.
Yet Lanegan hasn’t always felt so comfortable in his own skin, or with his profession.
“I definitely feel like I’m a better songwriting than I was 15 years ago,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m just kidding myself or what, but it’s definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me. Whereas when I first starting making my own records, it was difficult to write them, it was difficult to record them, it was difficult to make something that was satisfying. Maybe I’m just easier on myself these days, but it’s definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I’m better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else’s perspective it’s more exciting than if I’m left to my own devices.”
By his own admission, as a young man Mark Lanegan used to drive himself crazy when it came to writing songs. Then again, the younger Lanegan lived a crazy life. He grew up in the small Washington State farm town of Ellensburg, in and out of jail for various offenses– aged 20 a doctor told him he would be dead by 30 unless he addressed his alcohol intake. Lanegan would joke that his subsequent hard drugs addiction saved his life. He saw more violence in the Screaming Trees than in any correctional institution: the band he joined in 1984 whirled around a vortex of sibling strife as its songwriting brothers punched their way through a succession of progressively more engaging albums, until 1992’s Sweet Oblivion brought the Trees a modicum of commercial success to match the respect they had earned among Seattle scene peers like Nirvana.
Parallel to the Trees’ turbulent journey, Lanegan began releasing a succession of solo albums, primarily acoustic, which revealed a stentorian voice and commanding persona at which the Trees’ florid rootsy psychedelia barely suggested. His debut, The Winding Sheet (1990), grew out of an aborted attempt by Lanegan and Kurt Cobain to record an EP of blues covers. Lanegan’s treatment of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night survived (and indeed provided Cobain with the template for Nirvana’s subsequent version), but it would be the masterful follow-up, Whiskey For The Holy Ghost (1993), that confirmed Lanegan’s credentials as a truly unique artist.
Another 10 years elapsed, however, before he made an album that pricked the Ghost’s aura. Bubblegum (2004) saw Lanegan emerge from the wreckage of the Screaming Trees and his on-off struggles with addiction to create a new template for the blues: part-acoustic, part-electro-rooted contexts mostly produced by Alain Johannes, with a floating cast of helpers, some illustrious (Josh Homme; P.J. Harvey) others not. Seven years of collaboration followed before Lanegan, now a paragon of clean living, delivered the towering Blues Funeral (2012), with its Harmonia curlicues adding new colours to his molasses thick canvas of ongoing doom.
In 2014, Phantom Radio built on the same foundations, produced again by Johannes, and with Lanegan’s voice intoning deep truths hewn from the bleakest realm. And now his latest offering, titled Gargoyle. While sharing roots with its two predecessors, there’s a significant up-shift in the swaggering powerlode of such keynote songs as Nocturne and Beehive, while the lyrics’ tonal palette is more varied. Beehive, for instance, is a thrilling replicant biker anthem, riffed up and reverberant to the hilt, but you can sense Lanegan’s eyebrow arched throughout as he intones “Honey just gets me stoned”, or the priceless couplet, “Hanging down from above/Everywhere I look it’s a bummer.” The album title comes from a lyric in Blue Blue Sea – “Gargoyle perched on gothic spire” – and was chosen for its hint of self-deprecation.
“I don’t know if ‘whimsical’ is the correct term,” laughs Mark, “but it seemed fitting. I’m most proud of the songs that are atypical to stuff that I’ve done in the past. So I really like Old Swan, because it’s an expression of positivity, which is completely anti-anything I’ve done before!” He laughs. “Y’know, I haven’t played this record for too many people yet. I played it for Greg Dulli, who played on some of it, and he was like, ‘Wow, I had to listen to it twice – it sounds like he’s having a good time…’ So for that same reason I like Beehive, and Emperor…”
Emperor is more startling still: a psychedelic music hall ditty, featuring Josh Homme on backing vocals and heavily redolent of the Kinks.
“Oh, I love the Kinks,” says Mark. “I listen to the Kinks probably every three days or so. I also love that song because Josh is singing on it, and I always love singing with him. But really, I like all three of those songs because they’re… I guess ‘light-hearted’ is not the right term, but just less dark than what I’m normally doing. And there’s nothing wrong with that either, but for some reason those three came out that way and I’m more psyched about them.”
Old Swan is Gargoyle’s perfect finale: a pulsing incantation, an epic hymn to the life that’s lived – and She who provides it. The lyric feels like Lanegan’s most personal – even spiritual.
“Clean/Through the eternal/Through dead seasons/Sail to the sun/My mother and my queen/Honest and serene.”
There’s a chuckle from the author of these words as he hears them read out loud. It’s been a long journey travelled, not always easy, but in 2017, at the age of 52, he’s got the look of permanence about him. Like that gargoyle on the gothic spire.
“Clean, through the eternal…” Mark Lanegan? With his reputation?
He chuckles again… “So far so good.”
Tom Morello is living proof of the transformative power of rock’n’roll. As the co-founder of Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and Prophets Of Rage, and through collaborations with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Johnny Cash, he has continually pushed the limits of what one man can do with six strings.
But on his latest album The Atlas Underground, he’s transformed his sound into something even he could not have anticipated, blending Marshall stack riff-rock with the digital wizardry of EDM and hip-hop to create the most ambitious artistic effort of his storied career.
The Atlas Underground includes collaborations with Marcus Mumford, Portugal. The Man, the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and GZA, Vic Mensa, K.Flay, Big Boi, Gary Clark Jr., Pretty Lights, Killer Mike and Whethan among others. “The riffs and the beats led the way, but the extraordinary talents of the collaborators set my creativity into uncharted territory,” says Morello of the project, which will be released October 12th, 2018 by Mom + Pop Music.
Assembled over the last two years in a variety of studios, The Atlas Underground is what Morello calls “a clandestine sonic conspiracy of artists working in disparate locations toward a shared goal of creating a new genre of music.” The lyrics often take the form of “social justice ghost stories,” and on tracks such as Bassnectar, Big Boi and Killer Mike’s “Rabbit Revenge” and the RZA/GZA-featuring “Lead Poisoning,” they convey the experiences of those less fortunate who were unable to speak up for themselves.
“This record also afforded me the opportunity to divest myself of my natural Type A controlling character,” admits Morello, whom Rolling Stone has recognized as one of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time. “After initial conversations with the collaborators about theme and lyrics, I made it clear that there was no ego stake in these songs and that the only goal was to make something we all loved; something that was fucking powerful with no preconceived notions other than the freedom of taking a blank sonic page and letting our freak flag fly.”
Morello knew some of his collaborators beforehand, particularly the Wu-Tang members, with whom Rage Against The Machine shared an infamous U.S. tour bill in summer 1997. In other cases, the connections were serendipitous, such as when Morello heard K.Flay on the radio and cold-called her, only to discover they were both from Illinois and “shared that suburban angst.”
Morello took great joy in sending batches of riffs and guitar noises to collaborators such as Bassnectar and Knife Party, who would send back “smashing tracks” that scrambled everything together. Just as rewarding were in-person jam sessions with artists such as Clark, where songs were built verse/chorus/lyrics from scratch. And in the case of “Find Another Way,” Mumford and Morello teamed up for early-morning Skype sessions in-between their parental duties.
“I’ve been devoted both musically and as an activist to fighting injustice at every turn,” says Morello. “Amid this heightened sense of impending doom, it’s now time to rally the troops in a last-ditch effort to save the planet, and our artistic souls. By challenging the boundaries of what music is and has sounded like before, you can open peoples’ eyes to changing the status quo in society.”
In tandem with acclaimed multi-media artist Sam Durant and director Sean Evans, who staged Roger Waters’ “The Wall,” Morello is planning an innovative live presentation of the music on The Atlas Underground, which won’t be reliant on fill-ins to replicate the guest artist’s contributions. “We’re assembling something that’s more of an art installation than a show, which is different than anything anyone has ever done,” he says. “It will be a challenging piece in non-traditional venues that will bring the ideas on the album to life — a last big event before we all go to jail.”
Modern bands often seem faced with the choice between being challenging and being accessible. These ideas tend to be presented as opposite poles, two irreconcilable objectives that cannot co-exist without one taking precedence over the other. The time where unabashedly unconventional bands could engage the masses has long since past and those heavyweights have been relegated to the shelves of “classic rock,” with high concepts and grandeur replaced by irony and painful self-awareness. But for Circa Survive there exists another option, one where huge ideas and unbridled imagination can commingle with nuance and vulnerability. In their world, this dichotomy is not only achievable, it’s essential, and it fuels the band’s dauntless sixth full-length, The Amulet.
From the release of their 2005 debut, Juturna, to their 2010 major label release, Blue Sky Noise, to today with The Amulet, Circa Survive has made a career of turning all of the things that make them difficult to categorize into their greatest strengths. The word “progressive” is often used to describe their sound, and while this term doesn’t really do justice to the band’s distinct identity, it does conjure the scope and ambition of those iconic bands from decades ago, the ones that managed to capture the attention of mainstream audiences without sacrificing their esoteric tendencies. On The Amulet, Circa Survive continues this legacy, but filtered through the unique lens of their punk and alternative roots. Drawing on the raw power of punk and post-hardcore, the
earnestness of emotional alternative, and the unrestrained experimentation of art rock, the band effortlessly creates a sound that can be compared to very few, but appeal to many. The Amulet’s mix of intricate guitars, muscular bass, and interlocking drums creates a dynamic foundation for vocalist Anthony Green’s unparalleled voice; however, the magic of Circa Survive isn’t just technical skill, it’s an ability to blend that technicality with undeniable sense of melody and hooks. It’s this focus on uncompromising yet satisfying songwriting that compels listeners, no matter their genre-of-choice.
Circa Survive’s sonic palette isn’t the only thing with which the band fearlessly experiments. The band’s use of overarching lyrical concepts from album to album has become just as pivotal to their identity. For Green, no idea is too big or too small, and everything can be explored with the same mix of wonderment, dark fascination,
harrowing honesty, and hope. The Amulet pushes this approach to a demanding new level as Green examines parallels between the world ending, our chaotic social and political climate, and the very intimate strain of personal upheavals. A loss of innocence ties these drastically different threads together: a sense that certain events can irreparably change our perspectives and make it impossible to view our world, our governments, or our personal lives through the same rose-colored glasses. Although many of the album’s themes are dark and formidable, there is a sense of hopefulness that shines through The Amulet. Death is tied to birth, unrest is tied to revolution, emotional pain is tied to personal growth, and the only way to reach catharsis is to first
lean into the storm. The Amulet is meant to be a tangible manifestation of that catharsis, the kind of relief that comes from accepting the pain of loss—personal, socio-political, and cosmic—and moving forward. These themes even apply to the band itself with Green saying, “the way the band was when it started is dead and this
record feels like a bit of a rebirth in a lot of ways. Time has just weathered us, we got through the hard times and came out the other end, and I feel like this is the pinnacle of the band personally and creatively. It’s the most clear and concise version of what we are.”
After 13 years as a band, Circa Survive are no strangers to pushing sonic and lyrical boundaries, yet The Amulet still finds the band diving even farther into the deep end, pushing themselves to create brand new sounds, and taking on ideas that stretch from the universal to the most personal. In a musical landscape that seems predisposed towards instant gratification, Circa Survive may appear to be made from a mold that no longer exists, but fitting with modern bands or icons of the past has never been their goal. Circa Survive dares to ask more of themselves and their listeners—old and new—and in return they offer a soundtrack for the bold, the sincere, and the inquisitive.
The social and political awareness that drives Flogging Molly’s music is never more prominent than in their upcoming new release LIFE IS GOOD – a strikingly powerful album and it arrives at a strikingly key time. The sixth studio album by the renowned Celtic-punk rockers now in their 20th year is mature, well crafted, equally polished and almost aggressively topical. It is filled with rousing songs that are timeless in their sentiment, but directly related to today’s most pressing concerns: Politics, the economy, unemployment, planned boomtowns gone bust, immigration policies gone awry, and much more.
For singer and lyricist Dave King, it may be the lyrical couplet contained within the surging “Reptiles (We Woke Up”) that points toward the album’s central theme. “We woke up,” sings King, “And we won’t fall back asleep.”
“The thing is, there are things changing,” says King. “That’s why I wrote that line, ‘Like reptiles, we’ll all soon be dust someday.’ It’s quite scary, especially for somebody who has children these days–bringing up family in this environment of who’s welcome and who’s not welcome. I’m talking about the cultures in America and the UK–especially American immigration.
Life Is Good thus serves as a wake-up call to those who have simply stood by while far-reaching political decisions were made that had serious impact on them. And, significantly, it also serves as notice that the time for action is now.
And people are indeed taking action, adds King, which is a crucial point.
“I think especially with things like government–I think we all tend to fall asleep a little bit when it comes to other people that are making decisions for you. I think we should be the ones influencing the government to make these decisions. It’s a great thing that we’re now taking to the streets again. And it’s a positive thing.”
Imagery abounds on Life Is Good, and one of the most memorable images might be found in “Adamstown,” the saga of a planned community west of Dublin that came to a halt in mid-construction a decade ago when the Irish economy crashed–and left little more than a ghost town in its place.
“It had a huge negative connotation to it,” King says of the eerie, unfinished settlement. “But now it’s starting to turn again, people are starting to move there, businesses are starting to open, and there is hope.”
Thematically, hope and inspiration are a major part of “The Hand of John L. Sullivan,” a rollicking track about the legendary “Boston Strong Boy” who was the first ever heavyweight champion of gloved boxing from 1882-1892. Sullivan was a hero to many, and his story has a cultural significance that fits squarely within the story Flogging Molly want to tell with Life Is Good.
“He came from an immigrant family to Boston, and they brought their family over to try to make the best possible world for them,” says King. “We live in an environment right now where that doesn’t seem to be what should be allowed to happen, you know?
Recorded in Ireland and produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli (U2, the White Stripes, Beck), Life Is Good is by any measure a formidable return from Flogging Molly, an assessment with which Dave King fully agrees.
“It’s been a tough few years for a lot of us in the band. Dennis (Casey, guitarist) lost his dad, I lost my mother, and there have been certain issues, pertaining to sentiment, in a lot of the songs. But we just try to do the best we can. We’ve always had fun getting together and coming up with the new songs, and it’s still that way.
Here we see what’s uniquely distinctive about Life is Good, as the gravity and weight of these themes never overshadow the sheer fun and exuberance felt in each song. For the message is delivered and built on the backs of boisterous and barreling live touring.
“We’re known for our live shows,” says Dave King. Writing albums has always been a vehicle for us — it’s been a means to get people onto the dance floor. And that’s kind of the way we’ve always approached it, no matter what.”
“The one thing we are is a positive band,” adds Dave King. “When people come and see our shows, it’s a celebration–of life, of the good and of the bad. And we have to take the good and the bad for it to be a life.”
“We stand undefined, can’t be drawn with a straight line/this will not be our ending, we are alive.” -“Imperfection”
For EVANESCENCE’s singer/songwriter and frontwoman AMY LEE, most of her best creative ideas are inspired by dreams, and with SYNTHESIS (BMG), the band’s long-awaited fourth studio album (and first since 2011’s self-titled release), it was a case of turning a long-held vision into reality.
Not simply a “greatest hits” album, SYNTHESIS takes a selection of EVANESCENCE’s three previous studio releases along with two new songs, and reimagines them with brand-new recordings. SYNTHESIS is an amalgamation of LEE’s masterful singing and piano playing, supported by her band, a full symphony orchestra performing arrangements by long-time collaborator David Campbell as well as an array of electronic music programming and effects engineered by co-producer Will Hunt–not to be confused with the band’s drummer, of the same name–and mixer Damian Taylor (Björk, The Killers, Arcade Fire) who also collaborated with the band on the album.
Living up to its name, SYNTHESIS is a combination of organic and synthesized sounds, classical and rock, old and new, reinterpreting the past while giving a glimpse into the future, an old-fashioned concept narrative that takes the listener on a journey from darkness into light, offering AMY LEE’s classic inkling of hope in the midst of despair.
“I tend to dream very big,” says AMY LEE about the project. “The whole idea came from thinking about how cool it would be to do new versions of songs with strings and programming, and it just evolved from there. With the skill and experience we’ve developed over the years, plus all of the great minds who came to be involved in the project, it snowballed into something very big, very quickly.”
As their evolution continues, the band will embark on the “Synthesis Live” tour, performing the record start-to-finish with a live orchestra and electronic programming in each city. “The recording is very much tied to the live experience we want to create,” says AMY. “I’m anxiously excited to play some much more involved, challenging piano for the show, and to focus on singing live more like the way I do in the studio.” Members of the band won’t just be accompanied by the orchestra, but will be embedded in the joined ensemble as a single unit, a presentation that marks the performance as a true theatrical event, again synthesizing the experience of seeing a classic orchestra in a theatre and a band.
The first track to be released from SYNTHESIS was a surprising reinvention of EVANESCENCE’s biggest hit, the Grammy-winning “Bring Me to Life,” which eliminates the original rap interlude sung by 12 Stones’ Paul McCoy, substituting an epic wide-screen full-color classical take that proves how AMY LEE’s voice has grown into a world-class instrument far removed from the tentative 20-year-old who originally sang on the demo.
“This offered a great opportunity to do the song in the way it was originally intended in some ways,” she says. With vocals recorded at co-producer Will Hunt’s Spaceway Productions studio in Fort Worth, TX, and the full orchestra at Ocean Way in Nashville, SYNTHESIS isn’t so much an abrupt stylistic departure, as it is a flowering of EVANESCENCE’s original approach as a band, which can be heard as far back as Fallen’s “My Immortal,” The Open Door’s “Lacrymosa” (based on Mozart’s “Requiem”), and, from the band’s most recent self-titled album, Evanescence, “My Heart Is Broken” and “The End of the Dream”–which all featured David Campbell’s string arrangements now supplemented with a full orchestra.
Adds LEE, “These songs all have a life beyond the initial studio recordings, so it was really satisfying to go back and sing them as a 35-year-old as opposed to a 20-year-old (some of them). To be able to incorporate some of those elements that have developed over years of playing them live, and to show ways I’ve grown as well was a beautiful opportunity. I had to not only make each these new versions better in some way, but also preserve the core of what made the initial performance so great. I really challenged myself.”
With those patented distorted grunge-era guitars and acoustic drums now replaced with a full symphony orchestra and various triggered programming effects, SYNTHESIS now spotlights AMY LEE’s incredible voice, truly one of the most distinctive in all of rock, in a way they’ve never been before.
“There’s something beautiful about the intimacy of vocals on this album,” she admits. “The arrangements now make room for those bigger emotions. I used to be afraid to put my singing too far out front, always preferred it pretty deep in the mix. I was a kid when we started, with a lot of insecurities. I never felt I was good enough, but I’ve really become comfortable with my voice. I wanted to try to see how intimate and up-in-your-ear I could get. It’s a challenge not to hide behind anything, but I welcome that. I really look forward to doing the album live.”
As for the rest of the band–guitarists JEN MAJURA, TROY MCLAWHORN and TIM MCCORD and drummer WILL HUNT–each had to fit their own skills into the final product, with MAJURA taking up the theremin, MCLAWHORN and MCCORD experimenting with different sounds, and HUNT triggering a collection of synthesized sounds through an electronic kit.
“This wouldn’t be an Evanescence album without my amazing band,” says LEE. “They’re all extremely versatile, talented, open-minded artists. It was up to them to figure out how they melded, blended and created their home in this new world. What can your instrument do that you didn’t realize it could?”
SYNTHESIS is not just about updating the past, but offers plenty of future possibilities. The album includes three, newly created interstitial instrumentals as well as a pair of new tracks in the previously unreleased “Hi Lo”–a decade-old song that was the very first collaboration between LEE and producer WILL HUNT–and the single, “Imperfection,” an EDM-infused funk/hip-hop track that represents EVANESCENCE’s future.
“’Imperfection’ is the most important song on the album for me,” says LEE. “The song had to fit into our body of work, but at the same time, be a classic in its own right. When the lyrics started pouring out of me, I realized it was speaking to all those people we’ve been losing through depression and suicide. I sang it from the perspective of the person left behind. It’s a plea to fight for your life, and that we all need each other as humans. We’re all imperfect, and it’s precisely those imperfections that make us who we are, and we have to embrace them because there’s beauty in those differences.”
SYNTHESIS traces the common thread in EVANESCENCE’s catalog, as AMY puts it, “Even in our darkest moment, when we simply say, ‘I hurt,’ hope always exists. It’s about not accepting defeat. Never give-up, never stop fighting for your life.”
As she sings on “Imperfection,” “Don’t you dare surrender/I’m still right beside you/And I could never replace your perfect imperfection.”
With SYNTHESIS, AMY LEE and EVANESCENCE have gone Back to the Future in a way only they can.
PHAT DADDY’S CREOLE
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You can’t beat PHAT DADDY’S jambalaya. It’s taken to a completely new level when smothered in the crawfish etouffee. Get on the gator bites and the saucy spicy crawfish. Some people say Florida isn’t the South. Well it sure tastes like it when you eat at Phat Daddy’s
THE BREAD AND BOARD
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We proudly serve sandwiches and sandwich boards made with our baked-in-house bread, as well as fresh salads, made-from-scratch sides, and entrées inspired by our travels around the world. Options change seasonally to showcase ingredients at their peak flavor. For anything we can’t make in-house, we partner with purveyors who share our commitment to time-tested preparation techniques that let the ingredients do the talking.
As a rock icon and filmmaker with a unique vision, Zombie has continuously challenged audiences as he stretches the boundaries of both music and film. He has sold more than fifteen million albums worldwide, and is the only artist to experience unprecedented success in both music and film as the writer/director of seven feature films with a worldwide gross totaling more than $150 million.
Rob Zombie has achieved great success as a solo artist with several multi-platinum and gold albums including Hellbilly Deluxe, The Sinister Urge and Educated Horses. In 2013, the seven-time GRAMMY® nominee released his fifth solo album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, on his Zodiac Swan label through T-Boy Records/UMe. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two Top 10 Active Rock singles, “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Super Town” and Zombie’s spin on Grand Funk Railroad’s anthemic “We’re An American Band.”
This past winter he released his first live album in over eight years called SPOOKSHOW INTERNATIONAL LIVE. Filled with nineteen tracks recorded during his critically acclaimed US tour in 2014, the record became an instant fan favorite. Rob has also been spending more time in the studio as of late and will be releasing a new full-length album soon.
In terms of his film career, Zombie’s Halloween, released in 2007, earned the No. 1 spot at the box office in its opening weekend, and his first two films House of 1,000 corpses and The Devil’s Rejects have become cult favorites among critics and fans. Rob Zombie’s seventh feature film, the highly anticipated 31, will be making its world premiere this month at Sundance Film Festival. Last year he also released his first live album in over eight years, SPOOKSHOW INTERNATIONAL LIVE, which is filled with nineteen tracks from the highlights of Rob’s critically acclaimed US tour of 2014. Zombie’s seventh feature film, 31 made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival before its theatrical release on September 1.
Rob Zombie’s first concert film, The Zombie Horror Picture Show, was released May 19 2015 by Zodiac Swan/T-Boy/UMe. The feature-length film held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Music DVD chart for two consecutive weeks. Recorded live over two sizzling nights in Texas, The Zombie Horror Picture Show captures Zombie’s elaborate, multi-media production of mind-blowing SFX, animatronic robots, pyrotechnics, oversized LED screens and state-of-the-art light show combined with his powerhouse band featuring John 5, Piggy D and Ginger Fish.
In April 2016, Zombie released of his 6th studio album, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. Produced by Zeuss, it was recorded and mixed at Goathouse Studios. A full return to form by the rock icon, The Electric Warlock… features John 5 (Guitar), Piggy D (Bass) and Ginger Fish (Drums). This album marks Rob Zombie’s first solo studio album since 2013’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.
Since forming in 1993, the iconic hard rock band KORN have sold nearly 40 million albums, toured the world dozens of times, and set records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Originally from Bakersfield, CA, vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, and Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass ushered in the new wave of metal music in the ’90s with their self-titled debut in 1994 and 1996’s Life is Peachy, but have ridden that wave to even greater success and higher artistic water marks. The band have battled personal demons and addictions but have found their way through to the other side. And now, highlighted by the force of drummer Ray Luzier, a return to a dual-guitar dynamic and some of Davis’s most inspired moments of self-reflection and expression, the new album The Serenity of Suffering finds KORN harnessing all the anger, power, and trademark balance of darkness and light that made their name all those years ago.
Tool’s greatest breakthrough was to meld dark underground metal with the ambition of art rock. Although Metallica wrote their multi-sectioned, layered songs as if they were composers, they kept their musical attack ferociously at street level. Tool didn’t. They embraced the artsy, bohemian preoccupations of Jane’s Addiction while they simultaneously paid musical homage to the relentlessly bleak visions of grindcore, death metal, and thrash. Even with their post-punk influences, they executed their music with the aesthetic of prog rock, alternating between long, detailed instrumental interludes and lyrical rants in their songs.
Tool had a knack for conveying the strangled, oppressive angst that the alternative nation of the early ’90s claimed as its own. So, Tool were able to slip into the definition of alternative rock during the post-Nirvana era, landing a slot on the third Lollapalooza tour in 1993, which helped their first full-length debut album, Undertow, rocket to platinum status. By the time the band delivered its belated follow-up, Ænima, in 1996, alternative rock had lost its grip on the mainstream of America, and Tool’s audience had shaped up as essentially metal-oriented, which meant that the group and the record didn’t capture as big an audience as their first album, despite debuting at number two on the charts. After a co-headlining slot with Korn on Lollapalooza ’97 wrapped up, Tool remained on the road, supporting Ænima until well into the next year.
During the band’s usual extended hiatus between albums, Maynard James Keenan decided to use his downtime productively by forming a side project, dubbed A Perfect Circle. The band’s 2000 debut, Mer de Noms, was a surprise hit, while the ensuing tour was a sold-out success as well. With Tool breakup rumors swirling, the band put the speculation to rest by re-entering the recording studio and issuing the stopgap B-sides/DVD set Salival late the same year. Finally, May 2001 saw the release of Tool’s third full-length release, Lateralus, which debuted at the number one position on the Billboard album chart and became the band’s biggest hit. After the obligatory several-year sabbatical to pursue other projects, the group returned with another chart-topper, 10,000 Days, in 2006.
“Yashira’s approach is utterly unpredictable — creating a swirling maelstrom of riffs that shifts and reforms under relentless drum blasts…” – REVOLVER
“Massive and sincerely unrelenting…They have unleashed a constantly shifting, changing and challenging beast…”- CVLT NATION
“Their music is challenging at its core…a mix of sludge, death metal, post-metal and prog-isms…” – METALSUCKS
“Each song is delicately crafted; The guitar work, vocal work and rhythm section all work and transition as seamlessly as flowing water, or as matter getting sucked into a black hole…” – SCARRED SIGHT
Hailing from Boston, MA, MDFK fuses elements of thrash metal, death metal, and metalcore to push heavy music to new heights. Heavy breakdowns and fast riffing accompany politically charged lyrics. MDFK has made a name for themselves in the New England thrash community for their unpredictable and explosive live performances. MDFK is heading into the studio to record their debut EP in March.
Samuel Adams Sam ’76 Tasting
Samuel Adams Sam ’76 Sampling:
Patrons over 21, will have the opportunity to sample this refreshing craft beer at a dedicated sampling bar during designated hours.
About the beer:
Sam ’76 is a revolutionary new beer from Samuel Adams, born out of our experimental Nano Brewery in Boston. It combines the best of a lager and an ale to deliver an unmatched combination of refreshment, craft flavor, and aroma. At 4.7% ABV, Sam ’76 is a refreshing, easy-to-drink beer that’s perfect for a day at the beach, a backyard barbecue, or an all-day music festival. Be sure to make Sam ’76 a part of your Welcome to Rockville weekend!
Love Hope Strength
Love Hope Strength, the world’s leading Rock n Roll cancer charity, saves lives one concert at a time by hosting free bone marrow donor drives at concerts and festivals in an attempt to find life-saving marrow donors for cancer patients in need of transplants. A quick, simple cheek swab and single page contact form is all it takes to determine if you hold the cells necessary to save the life of a cancer, or other blood disorder, patient in need. Stop by the Love Hope Strength tent and #GETONTHELIST #LoveHopeStrength
Fxck Cancer xDyin 2 Live Dreams Program
Fxck Cancer’s mission is to fight cancer by raising awareness and education about early cancer detection and prevention, ultimately putting an end to late-stage cancer diagnosis. Through our Dyin 2 Live Dreams program, we look to enrich the lives of those fighting cancer by offering them a VIP experience that we hope will bring joy, inspiration, and courage. In doing this, we hope we can help give the cancer fighter a chance to forget, even if it’s only for a day, what they are going through. For more information please visit, www.fxckcancer.org.
Fxck Cancer and Dyin 2 Live Dreams are programs of the F C Cancer Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. #TogetherWeFight #FxckCancer
The Music Experience
The Music Experience features all the elements that are involved in making music in a professional band setting. The interactive exhibit features guitars, basses, amps, drums, keyboards and electronic gear that are used by today’s most popular bands. After laying your hands on the hottest equipment available, you will walk away feeling like a rock star and you may even see one there, too! Keep checking this page for updates, schedule and interactive artist experience day of show! Thanks to all our partners. Come and meet your favorite band members from the festival at The Music Experience Tent. You can win free amps, free guitars and get tons of other free stuff as well. Keep checking for meet and greet times here and on The Music Experience Facebook page.
SWFTCharge provides a quick, portable and convenient phone-charging service for large-scale venues. Our mission is to eliminate battery anxiety in places where it is experienced the most. Individuals purchase the service at a nearby kiosk and leave with a SWFTCharger. The small, compact device provides a quick 40-minute charge of customers’ cell phones. Once depleted, the SWFTCharger can be swapped for a new one as often as customers want while they’re at the venue. By eliminating charging pads, wires and lockers we’re providing users with a frictionless customer-centric service that is convenient and untethered.
Zippo Encore will be back in action at Welcome to Rockville with a full stock of Zippo lighters, including the limited-edition festival designs! Come by and spin their wheel for great prizes, enter their Zippo Custom art contest, and get your Zippo lighter filled for free.
Be sure to go see them early every day and ask about how you can attend Zippo Sessions!
F.Y.E. Fan Experience
FYE will be hosting the ultimate fan & artist interactive experiences throughout the festival! FYE is the only place at the festival to get all your favorite band’s music — and maybe even get to meet your favorite Welcome to Rockville performer! Check back for updates on artist meet & greet and autograph signing sessions!
Introduced in 1982, Bud Light is a premium light lager with a superior drinkability that has made it the best-selling and most popular beer in the United States. Bud Light is brewed using a blend of premium aroma hop varieties, both American-grown and imported, and a combination of barley malts and rice. The light-bodied beer features a fresh, clean and subtle hop aroma, delicate malt sweetness and a crisp finish that delivers the ultimate refreshment. For more information, visit www.BudLight.com.
Say “aloha” to any worries when you stop by Heavy Tiki. With specialty island cocktails and tropical beats playing all weekend, Heavy Tiki is sure to be the getaway you need to make your festival vacation complete.
MRKT N JOLT
What do you need most at a festival when away from the creature comforts of home?
COFFEE!! DUH! We got fresh brewed gourmet coffee – both hot and cold brew so come get your fix!
WAIT!! Don’t stop there. Sandal giving you a blister? Forgot your sunglasses? Heartburn got you down? Sunburned? Chapped lips? Headache? Need a hair tie? We got the MARKET items you need to make the your entire festival day the best it can be.
WINGIN’ IT FOOD TRUCK
Serving up jumbo chicken wings with 20 flavors to chose from ! We also offer a killer Kickin Chicken Sandwich and the IPA pulled pork sandwich.
MAMBO ON RUEDAS
Welcome to Mambo on Ruedas, authentic Cuban street food brought to you by some incredible culinary minds. Cuban sandwiches, Lechon Asado with Rice (slow roasted pork), Ropa Vieja. You won’t want to miss these delectable savory delights.
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Tica’s Offers Tacos, Burritos, Loaded Nachos, Queso Fries – All With Top Quality Ingredients. Looking For Something Different, Try The Cuban Firecracker Shrimp Or For You Veggies, The Fried Plantain.
DOS VATOS TACOS
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YOU LIKE TACOS VATO? WE GOT ‘EM! We Serve The Classics Like Carne Asada, Chicken And Carnitas But Toss In The Veggie Option With Jackfruit Tacos. All Topped With Custom Home Made Pico De Gallo.
GRUMPY’S ICE CREAM
Homemade ice cream made with real cane sugar and no artificial fillers. We only use milk and cream from cows NOT given hormones, steroids, or anti-biotics. All our flavors are proprietary and made in small batches in a certified kitchen in central Florida.
We founded Brucci’s Pizza behind the lifetime experience of a family that believes in “Down Home Simple Italian”. Our pizza is first and foremost. Dough that is made fresh daily, sauce made with the best California tomatoes, creamy Wisconsin mozzarella and a simple blend of seasoning and spices.
Hebros Bacon Restaurant
Hebro’s Kitchen joins us this year to celebrate it’s love for bacon! With a variety of dishes, the bacon fan will surely be satisfied! Try the Rosemary Bacon Mac and Cheese, a Bacon Gyro or the homemade Bacon Corn Fritters.
Cely’s Filipino Food
Traditional Filipino food at it’s best. Try the Lumpia and Pancit! Just like back home (if home is the Philipines).
Have you found your Mojo?
The MOJO experience ignited in 2003 and since then has blazed across North Florida, into eight locations. “Mojo” comes from the Blues, denoting a good luck feeling or vibe, and when it’s paired with barbecue, a divergent atmosphere erupts. Mojo offers an array of regional barbecue styles in one place and with their own personal touches
Voodoo Chicken &Waffles
Fall under our spell with perfectly golden fried chicken topped with decadent, warm Maple Syrup. Enough Said!
With 12 different types of tacos on the menu, BC Tacos has something for everyone, from your standard steak and chicken tacos (which those have a unique twist to them as well) to your more unique, buffalo Mahi and fried avocado tacos. The truck may be caveman themed, but they are bringing some of the best modern flavors, South Florida has to offer.
Chinchilla’s Eats on The Streets
Street food at its best! Mix it up with quesadillas, tacos, burritos and more!
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.
“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.
Stone Temple Pilots
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.”
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…
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
While She Sleeps
“We’ve let our hair down and we’ve got our bollocks out. I’m not fucking about. I’m not cutting corners. I’ve been writing like this will be my last album.”
Some bands play it safe when it comes to taking their next steps. But then, While She Sleeps have never been “some band”. The Sheffield quintet have made a career out of confounding expectations, be it through their dizzying blend of crushing metal, guttural hardcore and arena-worthy hooks, or the way they’ve carried themselves over an explosive, 13-year career. Their last album, 2017’s ‘You Are We,’ was a testament to the power of self-belief and determination; crowdfunded and released on the band’s own Sleeps Brothers label, it earned them award nominations from the likes of Metal Hammer and a Best Album win at the Heavy Music Awards, as well as landing them in the top ten of the UK album charts. Now, they look to build on that success with the release of fourth studio album: ‘SO WHAT?’
“You Are We got us to this special position, and it’s given us a platform,” continues guitarist Sean Long. “For us, it’s like, ‘What can we do to really stick this in people’s faces? What can we put out there that we’re buzzing off?’ I don’t want to be following everyone else; I want people to follow us.”
“You Are We was us learning how to really listen to ourselves,” adds fellow axeman Mat Welsh. “This record is us knowing how to exercise that. You Are We was basically a demo for this record.”
With the ‘You Are We’ cycle wrapped up, the band decamped to their self-built Sleeps Audio studio complex in Sheffield, where they’d spend five months recording their next chapter. Putting all their energy into making the best album they could, Sleeps decided that when it came to naming album four, typically, they weren’t going to play along with the usual music stereotypes.
“‘SO WHAT?’ is about how easily we all judge everything before we actually know anything about it,” explains Mat. “If we put a really elaborate title on a record with a really elaborate cover, that could give you the option of deciding what you think of it before you’ve listened to anything on it. The one thing we’re putting every bit of our creative juice into is the music.”
Recorded with producer Carl Bown, ‘SO WHAT?’ promises to be another defiant step forwards. “It’s going to blow your mind!” promises Mat, and if first single ‘Anti-Social’ is anything to go by, he isn’t kidding. An explosive, relentless four-minute anthem, it takes everything you know and love about While She Sleeps – clattering riffs, bruising breakdowns, snarling lyrics and big-ass singalongs – and sticks them in a blender. It’s punk, it’s heavy metal, it couldn’t be any other band but them, and yet it sounds unlike anything you’ve heard from them before. It’s the sound of While She Sleeps reborn. “It’s still very different – as much as it still sounds like While She Sleeps,” agrees Sean. “You get a taste of this new area that we’re flowing into. Even though it’s still really heavy, you get this twinge of what’s to come.”
“We felt excited about Anti-Social,” notes Mat. “It’s such a heavy tune, but it’s a different way of heavy than we’ve been before. It feels like you want to be out and drunk, throwing beer over your mates while it’s on. In a world where everyone expects you to be softening up or getting more generic, I think it’s fun to just throw out a song that’s just, like, ‘Nope! We’re not doing that!’”
Set for release on Sleeps Brothers in collaboration with metal mega-label Spinefarm, ‘SO WHAT?’ sees While She Sleeps working with a major label again for the first time since 2015’s ‘Brainwashed’, and the band are at pains to point out that this won’t mean there’ll be any compromise in their vision. “We got approached immediately by a bunch of labels, but we turned around to all of them and said, ‘The only way we’re going to do anything is if you let us release it on Sleeps Brothers, but you house that on your train, and we make the decisions behind everything,” Mat explains. “I fucking loved releasing You Are We ourselves, but at the same time, I played more on my laptop than I did on my guitar for the whole campaign. This release is a partnership between Sleeps Brothers and Spinefarm, but no one is breathing down our necks about the record we’re making or the singles we’re putting out.”
With a bigger platform to get their music into the world and a firestorm of a first single released, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of While She Sleeps. For a band that have spent over a decade redefining modern metal, it seems the best is yet to come.
Rhymes and riffs incite more change than bullets and bombs ever could.
Not long after the Vietnam War, Bad Brains rallied a Rastafarian punk spirit against the international blight of apartheid and the coked-out corporate greed synonymous with eighties America. Taking aim at endemic and institutional racism, Public Enemy spoke up against the Fear of a Black Planet only four months before Operation Desert Shield descended on the Middle East. Bringing blue brutality to the forefront of the zeitgeist, N.W.A. chanted “Fuck Tha Police,” and Body Count went primal on the whole program via “Cop Killer.” Rising from the same streets that gave the world Dr. Dre and eventually Kendrick Lamar, Fishbone tackled poverty and urged for social justice. The list of sonic rebels goes on and on…
In 2018, the United States of America feels ripe for a musical uprising. Divided more than ever in its 242-year history over systemic issues of immigration, race, class warfare, inequality, and misogyny, the time for change is now. The band is The Fever 333.
Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler [ex-letlive.], drummer Aric Improta [Night Verses], and guitarist Stephen Harrison [ex-the Chariot], the Los Angeles trio lock and load gnashing guitars, guttural beats, and brazenly bold bars and then pull the trigger on a hard-hitting hybrid of hip-hop, punk, and activism.
“The movement is much greater than the music,” exclaims Butler. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. By no means do we expect other artists to take on this task. Most of the people who made big improvements were either assassinated or just called crazy. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.”
In the midst of America’s 2017 socio-political upheaval, the singer—a self-described “bi-racial double agent who’s got a black father and a white mother”—could feel the weight “of the divisions we’ve created because of race.” After meeting Travis Barker of blink-182 by chance, he spent Super Bowl Sunday with the iconic drummer and mutual friend producer John Feldman. That day, this unholy triumvirate’s conversation inspired the songs that would eventually comprise The Fever 333’s 2018 debut.
“We started talking about black punk rock,” he recalls. “Punk rock and hip-hop are one-in-the-same. They’re always flying the flag of channeling art from discord. Travis and John supported my desire to create something a little dangerous that was subservice: musically and in ethos. We opened the floodgates together.”
Around this time, the frontman made a conscious decision to disband letlive., which he founded 15 years before. Equally inspired by the teachings of Angela Davis and the words of “hood prophets” in his native “Section 8 Inglewood,” Butler’s future agenda became etched in stone.
“I appreciate my accomplishments in letlive.,” he says. “I wanted to move forward towards a very clear-cut and specific vision. Personally, artistically, mentally, emotionally, and politically, I’m very radical, left-leaning, and unapologetic in what I believe. That’s the only way to accomplish anything, whether contemporary or long-term. letlive. had done what it was supposed to. It was time for a new era.”
Feverishly writing, each session yielded more tunes. Last summer, The Fever 333 made their live debut—quite appropriately—on July 4, 2017. They hijacked the parking lot of infamous L.A. staple Randy’s Donuts (Notably, it’s a stone’s throw from South Central where the vocalist grew up). This “Political Pool Party” preceded the storm to come.
Every element made a statement—even the lineup.
“We’ve got a black guitar player, mixed race singer, and white drummer,” he goes on. “There’s a purpose.”
On their upcoming EP, that purpose can be felt loud and clear. Fittingly, their sonic declaration of independence, “We’re Coming In,” culminates on the sharp scream, “We’re coming in, motherfucker!”
“It’s about pulling the fuck up at The White House and having a discourse with our current administration and cabinet about how what they’re doing affects us,” he sighs. “The middle class will soon be eradicated. We’re showing face in hopes to create an empathetic capsule.”
“Hunting Season” stands among a long lineage of anthems for “people of color versus the authority and that vicious cycle.” “Made In America” ignites a clarion call of buzzsaw riffing, a volley of vicious verses, and another powder keg chant.
“This country’s wealth and success were built on the backs of slaves,” he sighs. “We’re all immigrants. It’s about the fucking facts. The people in power benefit from that.”
“Walking In My Shoes” doesn’t just title another banger; it serves as the banner for The Fever 333’s activism. The Walking In My Shoes Foundation will host speakers, launch art installations, promote storytellers, and benefit partner charities such as Downtown Los Angeles-based Inner City Arts, The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and more.
In the end, the revolution truly starts with The Fever 333.
“‘The Fever’ involves self-possessed autonomous human beings spreading an idea of understanding and empathy from one mind to another,” he leaves off. “It’s infectious. Three is the magic number. The strongest shape in geometry is the triangle with its three points. ‘C’ is the third letter in the alphabet. The ‘Three C’s’ are ‘Community, Charity, and Change.’ The people who want to invest in this are as fucking important as we are. By invest, I don’t mean sales or awards; I mean success towards making this revolution a reality. Our generation has so much power. We have these systems in place that are completely fucked, but we’re up next. If we can rally together and cultivate this strength and solidarity, I believe we can be the change.”
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.”
Stick To Your Guns
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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!
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.”
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.
Red Sun Rising
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.”
No matter the climate, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE makes trend-resistant, timeless heavy music that feeds the soul, touches the heart, and strengthens the mind. Their anthems and live staples like “My Last Serenade,” “My Curse,” and “In Due Time,” have the staying power that appeals to all generations of rock and metal fans worldwide, along with a message that serves to unite, enlighten, and entertain. Having shared the stage with acts ranging from Rise Against to Slayer, the diversity and versatility of their touring is unparalleled and a true testament to their reach.
The band’s seventh studio album, INCARNATE, possesses a stack of new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems certain to set the heavy music world ablaze once more. As cofounders of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, guitarist/backing vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, rhythm guitarist Joel Stroetzel, bassist Mike D’Antonio, and Leach (who returned four years ago after a decade-long absence) together with longtime drummer Justin Foley employ unrelenting determination to continually release powerfully potent work.
Leach wears his heart on his sleeve like never before, coming out of the experience of making INCARNATE a brand new person. It’s an album of reclamation and redefinition, from a band that still rules the scene.
The reckless abandon of creative passion, the search for higher truths and personal justice, and the authentic reality of the duality within all people – the light, the dark, the playful, the deadly – these are the components that comprise KILLSWITCH. They are the elements of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, INCARNATE.
Black Veil Brides
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.
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.”
Queens Of The Stone Age
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.”
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
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.”
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.
Ben’s Burrito Bowl
Build a bowl! Your choices of Drunken Lime Chicken, Spicy Beef, Chorizo, or Vegan Nopalitos and Roasted Pepper. You can have it served over quinoa and brown rice, black beans and rice or superfood salad. Everything can be made Vegan and Gluten free!
Mount Olympus Greek
Transport yourself to Ancient Greece and Taste the Greek with a variety of Mediterranean delights from gyros to falafel, chicken and beef. Items are served in pita bread, burrito or on a bed of mixed greens with unlimited options salad bar of salsa, feta cheese, hummus, guacamole, Kalamata olive and sundried tomato.
Angry Bird Grill
Stop by Angry Bird Grill and check out the medieval hand-forged iron grill. Grab a jumbo sized turkey leg hand or try some Cajun grilled chicken on a skewer. Pick the gourmet sauce of your choice: ginger Siracha, bourbon BBQ or a homemade remoulade sauce.
VG - GF
Say ‘aloha’ to your hunger with freshly-made Yaki-Soba noodles from Island Noodles! Made with buckwheat and traditionally served in Hawaii, these noodles are stir-fried with fresh garlic, ginger and a mix of vegetables, and simmered in a secret, light island sauce to offer a unique noodle dish with a high flavor profile.
PIE BABY WOOD FIRED PIZZA
Gourmet Thin Crust pizza, prepared in front of you and cooked in our 900-degree wood fired oven. Try an array of toppings, combinations, and fresh salads.
Mama’s Food Truck
Mama knows best! Try a Steak Quesadilla, Empanada with beef / chicken, or a Rice Bowl with your choice of Chicken or Steak. Top off the meal with a side of black beans or seasoned fries.
Feeling Cheesy? Come down to Mac Attack and satisfy your craving for some good old comfort food. Try a variety of Mac n Cheese variations including Lobster Mac, Bacon-Jalapeno Mac, Teriyaki Chicken Mac, and Buffalo Chicken Mac.
Funnel Cake Factory
Try an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch funnel cake fresh and hot, ready to eat!
Girls Gone Green Nacho Bar
VE - VG - GF
We know the best way to change minds is through the stomach so we present to you our traveling #NachoBar!! Filled with healthy, organic, delicious chips and toppings it pleases the palate of the pickiest eaters. People always come back for seconds…even those unsuspecting meat-eaters who just love the quality and taste of our nachos and homemade queso.
Nomi’s Island Girl
The name says it all. Serving delicious “island” fare like grilled shrimp and fried fish, a twist on chicken tenders and fries are also on the menu.
Guanabana Ice Pops
VG - GF
Handcrafted locally in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. Only use the best ingredients are used including exotic and delicious fruits, as well as local ingredients whenever possible. They never use artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. These artisanal pops are delicious, gluten free, and most are also dairy-free.ee.
These flavorful favorites are sure to pack a punch on your taste buds! Crispy Chicken sandwiches, Burgers with the works and Steak tips seasoned to perfection.
Pele’s Wood Fired is always focused on providing the best pizza possible by using quality ingredients and hand made dough from scratch.
What’s The catch
Jacksonville’s taking the bait with What’s the Catch’s finest, and freshest fish tacos. Try an Ahi Tuna Taco on a bed of lettuce with pineapple mango salsa, soy sauce and sesame seeds.
Take Me Home
Take Me Home is a not for profit, volunteer-based foundation that has been saving the lives of homeless animals since 2001. Many families living in low-income areas cannot afford medical care, basic vaccinations, or spay/neuter surgeries for their companion animals. The donations raised help us to fund mobile veterinary hospitals to travel into these under-served areas to provide free spay and neuter, vaccinations, microchipping and administer medical care for animals in desperate need. Take Me Home also supports local animal charities. Come by the booth to help out our furry friends by buying a shirt, signed merchandise, and entering a raffle. Danny Wimmer, Founder, DWP, said, “DWP is proud to support various charities, giving them a national platform to promote their messages. We are particularly fond of Take Me Home, which advocates for animal adoption. I hope everyone stops by their booth and supports their fundraising efforts to help animals in need.”
For more information, please visit: www.takemehome.tv.
Monster Energy Experience
Monster Energy will be keeping all fans fueled up and ready to rock by offering free sampling on their Monster Energy viewing deck. Enjoy Monster Energy drinks from one of the best seats in the house. Make sure to check back throughout the festival for a schedule of Monster Energy’s interactive artist experiences.
Caduceus Wine Garden
This wine garden will highlight Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, owned by Arizona resident Maynard James Keenan, co-founder of international recording acts TOOL, A Perfect Circle, and PUSCIFER. Having already dove headfirst into this venture, Maynard found out from a distant relative that wine making is in his blood. His Great Grandfather, “Spirito” Marzo, had vineyards and made wine in Venaus, Italy, just North of Turino in Piemonte.
Eat. Rock. Repeat.
Of Mice & Men
Of Mice & Men
Take Me Home
Caduceus Cellars Garden
Jaguars Rock And Jock
Zippo Encore Experience
We’ve partnered with Curadora to help you browse the coolest hotel accommodations that Jacksonville has to offer and to make joining us at Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville a total breeze. With Curadora, you can search all local hotels based on price, proximity to Metropolitan Park, or whatever amenity is most important to you. To find the perfect place to stay in April, click the link below:
**Note: Curadora rooms do not include festival tickets. Festival tickets must be purchased separately.**
Jack Daniels Experience
The Music Experience
The Music Experience features all the elements that are involved in making music in a professional band setting. The interactive exhibit features guitars, basses, amps, drums, keyboards, and electronic gear that are used by today’s most popular bands. After laying your hands on the hottest equipment available, you will walk away feeling like a rockstar and you may even see one there, too! Come and meet your favorite band members form the festival at the Music Experience Tent. With contests and interactive exhibits all day, you may have the opportunity to win free amps, free guitars and get tons of other free stuff.
This year’s brands include to be announced
FYE Fan Experience
Fire From The Gods
Fire From The Gods
The Charm The Fury
The Charm The Fury
Every Time I Die
Something happens when Badflower singer and guitarist Josh Katz steps up to the microphone. His primal, powerful, and passionate transformation is the most unmitigated kind of catharsis fueled by emotion and unfiltered intensity…
“The superhero version of myself comes out in the songs,” he affirms. “When I’m writing or performing, I go to this place that reflects the most emotional point I’ve hit at the moment. A lot of what’s being written is anger, lust, heartbreak, and all of that. Becoming an artist, I flip into this character I can’t shake or get rid of. I embrace it and keep writing in that direction.”
This approach stands out as Badflower’s calling card. It’s also a big reason why the group quietly became one of L.A.’s most buzzed-about rock ‘n’ roll bands. Since their emergence in 2014, the band—Josh, Joe Morrow [lead guitar, backing vocals], Alex Espiritu [bass], and Anthony Sonetti [drums]—has shared stages with the likes of KONGOS and The Veronicas, earned acclaim from OC Weekly, Loudwire, and more, and achieved a two-week run at #1 on KROQ’s Locals Only Show with “Heroin.” During 2016, fashion icon John Varvatos personally signed the band to John Varvatos Records. Little did he know, they had a big surprise up their sleeves.
“We actually had already started making a record without telling anybody,” smiles Josh. “After the deal was done, we were like, ‘How about this?’”
The boys cut the 2016 Temper EP [John Varvatos Records/Republic Records] in the garage of the Thousand Oaks, CA home which they share. Recorded during a blazing hot California summer, the sessions got so intense that their MacBook Pro often needed to cool down in the freezer. Wielding that energy, the music taps into a gritty and grunge-y gutter rock spirit complemented by jarring theatrical delivery and unshakable riffing, equally informed by Led Zeppelin and nineties Seattle as it is by film composers such as James Horner.
The first single “Animal” struts along on a distorted guitar shuffle before pouncing claws out on a refrain deifying a voracious femme fatale.
“It’s about an abusive relationship,” he explains. “I’m describing this girl as a predator type of animal and myself as the victim. Most people play that victim role. They don’t like to be accountable for the terrible things happening in their lives. It’s about being stuck in that place. You have the power to get out of it, but you are content there.”
Following the EP’s theme of unmitigated anger unleashed, “Drop Dead” hones in on the dynamic of a toxic relationship, while “Heroin” succumbs to its spell admitting, “She burns like heroin.”
In the end, Badflower’s ride remains raucous, raw, and real. “Music is all about emotions,” he leaves off. “This EP is very dark and temperamental. That’s what I put across. So that’s what I want people to feel.”
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Pierce The Veil
Coheed & Cambria
Dillinger Escape Plan
Cover Your Tracks
Beartooth began as an emotional exorcism. Conceived, constructed, and unleashed by one man in a basement studio. Now, even as the band has grown to become a headlining festival act; cracked Billboard’s Top 25; lit up SiriusXM radio; and were crowned Breakthrough Band at both the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards and Loudwire Music Awards, Beartooth’s music and message remain intensely personal.
The fierce dedication to honesty, authenticity, and raw fury demonstrated by Caleb Shomo is at the center of everything Beartooth represents. The music he’s crafted in his darkest hours transcends, connecting with the broken hearted and isolated around the globe. Songs like “In Between,” “Hated,” “The Lines,” and “Sick of Me” have been streamed hundreds of millions of times. These are anthems for the downtrodden and disconnected, celebrated with sing-alongs on international tours; supporting Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, or Pierce The Veil; on the Kerrang! Tour with Don Broco in the UK; at major festivals like Download and Rock on the Range.
What began as artistic self-medication for a single multi-instrumentalist and producer, with no career aspirations or grand plans, quickly caught fire. The Sick EP (2013), Disgusting (2014), and the sophomore-slump shattering Aggressive (2016) comprise a blunt audio journal, chronicling Shomo’s battles with his own demons.
As Beartooth became a fully functioning band, bringing these intimate musings to the masses, that purity remained, via a consistently isolated creative methodology.
The stark look inward further intensified with September 28, 2018’s Disease.
The third full-length album from Beartooth is a painstaking, riff-driven examination of the unshakeable throes of depression. While there are moments of positivity, this isn’t the sound of triumph. This is music about survival.
“The album is a whirlwind of emotion,” Shomo explains. “Crazy highs, crazy lows, and lots of intensity. This record isn’t about winning anything. It’s about trying to even begin to learn how to deal with things. It’s hard to process just how dark you can get, what you can really put yourself through with expectations. It’s like starting from the beginning all over again. At the end of the day, it is a very dark album.”
Even as Shomo and his bandmates played to sold-out crowds across Europe, the battle against mental illness and childhood issues returned, and the seed for Disease was planted. The title track was the first song written for it, setting the overall tone.
As always, Shomo recorded vocals, guitars, bass, and drums, and mixed the album himself with assistance from an engineer, now with executive producer (and Grammy winner) Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with Foo Fighters and Rush. To further enhance the emotional realism Beartooth champions, the third full-length album was tracked in a brand new environment, with an old-school urgency. After crafting the songs in his usual basement domain, Shomo made the trip from the familiar comfort of his equipment and isolation in Ohio to Blackbird in Nashville.
“When I make a record at home, I feel really safe there,” Shomo confesses. “Going into Blackbird, there was a lot of fear. Thankfully, going into that environment just brought out the best. It made the songs feel even more real. It was all worth it.”
The famous recording studio was the birthplace of pivotal work from a massive list of legends, tastemakers, and up-and-comers; like Alice In Chains, Taylor Swift, and Greta Van Fleet. Determined to challenge himself in new ways, Shomo kicked aside his drum samples and digital guitar tones in favor of rich analog vibes, banging out take after take, to capture the feel of classic favorites like AC/DC and Motörhead.
Ten to twelve hour days, six days per week, sweating and screaming through performances, resulted in gargantuan surefire Beartooth bangers like “Used and Abused,” “Manipulation,” and “Enemy,” easily among the strongest songs in the catalog. “You Never Know” was written in collaboration with producer and songwriter Drew Fulk (Fit For A King, As I Lay Dying), after several hours of conversation in a coffee shop. The album closer, “Clever,” was written in an afternoon at the studio, a fittingly sorrowful bookend to Beartooth’s darkest album.
“Depression is something that’s just ‘in your head,’ there’s no reason for it, so it ‘should’ be easy enough to just get over, but I can never do it. It’s something unshakeable. I can’t make it work,” Shomo says. “I wanted to write an album about that. Disease really encompasses everything emotionally that I wanted to convey.”
Shomo’s commitment to raw and personal truth will always define Beartooth. “It’s very important that I stay honest with every song that I write. I didn’t even mean to start this band. I wrote a couple songs and I felt way better afterward. Especially with this record, there are no compromises. It is exactly what I wanted to make.”
With Beartooth, what begins each time as the personal expression of one man is shared with his bandmates, then through the power of musical inspiration and connection, is given to the world then returns to its creator, to begin the cycle anew.
All That Remains
Motionless In White
In This Moment
Throughout history, art rejoices and revels in the wisdom of women. Within a deck of tarot cards, the High Priestess serves as the guardian of the unconscious. In Greek mythology, the old oracles celebrate the Mother Goddess. William Shakespeare posited portentous prescience in the form of MacBeth’s “Three Witches.” On their sixth full-length album Ritual, In This Moment—Maria Brink [vocals, piano], Chris Howorth [lead guitar], Travis Johnson [bass], Randy Weitzel [rhythm guitar], and Kent Diimel [drums]—unearth a furious and focused feminine fire from a cauldron of jagged heavy metal, hypnotic alternative, and smoky voodoo blues.
It’s an evolution. It’s a statement. It’s In This Moment 2017…
“It’s like we’re going into the next realm,” asserts Maria. “I had a conviction of feeling empowered in my life and with myself. I always write from a personal place, and I needed to share that sense of strength. I’ve never been afraid to hold back. Sometimes, I can be very suggestive. However, I wanted to show our fans that this is the most powerful side of myself and it’s without overt sexuality. It’s that deeper serious fire inside of my heart.” “What Maria is saying comes from deep inside,” Chris affirms. “This time, we had a bunch of ideas started before we hit the studio. There was a really clear direction. It’s different.” The group spent two years supporting their biggest album yet 2014’s Black Widow. Upon release, it seized their highest position to date on the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #8. Simultaneously, it clinched #3 on the Hard Rock Albums chart and spawned a series of hits such as “Sick Like Me,” “Big Bad Wolf,” and “Sex Metal Barbie”—all cracking 8 million Spotify streams each and topping Rock Radio. Meanwhile, the band’s signature smash “Whore” crossed the 20-million mark.
Furthermore, the title track off In This Moment’s 2012 album, Blood, has been certified gold by the RIAA. A remarkable accomplishment, the companion music video for “Blood” has been viewed over 27 million times.
Between headline tours, they incinerated stages everywhere from Rock On The Range to Download Festival. In March 2016, Maria and Chris commenced writing for what would become the new record with longtime collaborator and multiple GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne] at his Las Vegas compound. Following a high-profile summer 2016 tour with Korn and Rob Zombie, the duo began writing. Then, Maria visited Salem, MA for the very first time with all of the women in her family quite appropriately during Halloween.
“We were really tapping the energy there,” she says. “We were honoring each other. I was seeking inspiration and experience to inspire me in this album. I was trying to find a lot of truth in myself. I loved Salem. I was blown away by how visually beautiful it is. The history of the witch burnings is fascinating. It was a special ceremonial journey.”
Galvanized and inspired, Maria and Chris returned to Kevin’s stronghold to complete recording. In an atmosphere of candles, crystals, incense, and a cackling fireplace, they expanded their aural palette once again, welcoming a doom blues bombast into the sonic fold. “We love Black Widow, but it was very electronic,” Chris explains. “This is a little more organic, emphasizing guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. We slowed down the groove a little bit. I got to play some slide guitar, and I’ve never done that. There’s a bluesy side, which we’ve also never had.”
“We always want to grow and evolve,” Maria adds. “It was a chance to get a little more serious.” That progression shines through the first single “Oh Lord.” A minimal drum and handclap echoes as Maria’s wild incantation takes hold. Guitars shiver and shake as the frontwoman delivers an undeniable refrain.
“The meaning of ‘Oh Lord’ is central to the album,” she reveals. “I should be able to have a relationship with what I perceive God to be. For me, it’s this strength and light. When I was younger, I felt guilty for thinking of these things. I’m not supposed to touch an oracle card, a tarot card, or these beautiful things, because they’re ‘bad.’ I had these fears in me for a long time like, ‘Is this wrong?’ I realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore. There’s a lot of learning and an awakening in that one.”
Inverting everyone’s favorite Billy Idol nuptial anthem, “Black Wedding” sees Maria walk down the aisle of musical madness with none other than Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Cowritten with Stevens, it’s an explosive and enchanting duet.
“I can’t believe that happened,” beams Chris. “Maria hit up Rob and asked if he was interested. He jumped right on it. I can’t believe we got him.”
“Who doesn’t love ‘White Wedding?’,” laughs Maria. “We wanted to do a spin-off that’s creative. It’s a question-and-answer between me and another voice. The chorus essentially says this isn’t going to be the opposite of a happy ending! You’re becoming empowered by heartbreak.” Chris breaks out the slide on the raging “River of Fire,” while “Witching Hour” dances around the flames to a new wave-inspired groove and midnight lore as Maria recants, “This idea of me being burned as a witch in a past life for teaching people to be free.” Elsewhere, “Roots” practically opens up the earth with its sheer seismic force.
“Sometimes, I have to go through pain in order to forgive and let go,” she adds. “I love to thank the hate in people. It’s that sort of energy. I’ll be okay, hold my headstrong, push forward, do what I’ve got to do, and prevail.”
Simultaneously, In This Moment breathe a dark new life into the Phil Collins’ classic “In The Air Tonight.”
“We can’t reproduce what he did in a million years,” she says. “It’s one of the best songs ever. We did our own interpretation and made it a little more sinister like our ritual.” The ritual has begun, and In This Moment ignite a brighter fire than ever before here. “When fans hear this, I want them to feel the music, whether they take away sadness, anger, or happiness,” concludes Chris. “As a kid, I remember listening to records and putting them on repeat over and over again. I’d love for the world to listen and absorb this as a piece of work.” Maria leaves off, “I want everybody to be unafraid of who they are and not worry about what the rest of society says. Be strong. Be loud. We love our fans deeply. I hope everybody feels that love and powerful in who they are.”
Eagles of Death Metal
The Pretty Reckless
Three Days Grace
Over the past two decades Papa Roach have established themselves as true trendsetters in rock music: They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, toured the globe with everyone from Eminem to Marilyn Manson and crafted the nü metal anthem “Last Resort,” which is still in heavy rotation on rock radio seventeen years after its release. However, the group’s ninth full-length Crooked Teeth sees the band returning to their humble—and hungry—roots. The album was recorded in a cramped North Hollywood studio with up-and-coming producers Nicholas “RAS” Furlong and Colin Brittain, who grew up listening to Papa Roach and inspired them to revisit some of the traits that personally endeared the band to them, most notably frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s remarkable rapping technique. From the instantly infectious nature of the title track to the atmospheric sheen of the ballad “Periscope” (which features Skylar Grey) and the hip-hop rock mashup “Sunrise Trailer Park” (which features an impassioned verse from Machine Gun Kelly), Crooked Teeth displays the various sides of Papa Roach and illustrates why they’ve managed to remain relevant while musical trends ebb and flow. Crooked Teeth also sees Shaddix pulling no punches lyrically, as evidenced on intensely personal tracks like “Born For Greatness,” produced by Jason Evigan (Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Kehlani, Madonna), which sees Shaddix getting sentimental about his three children, or “American Dreams” where the lifelong pacifist begs the listener to ask, “have you ever thought war was a sickness? The album’s acclaimed track “Help” debuted as the #1 Most Added at Active Rock and quickly became the #1 rock song in the country. Crooked Teeth is out May 19 via Eleven Seven Music.
CHEVELLE is the understated musical powerhouse who have continually delivered rock anthems for the past 24 years. 7 number one hits, 17 songs reaching the top 10 charts, over 4 million records sold in the USA and many more world wide. Platinum and gold albums across their 8 studio records and successful live CD and two live DVD releases completes their extensive body of work to date. Its all credit to their continuing dedication to be true to their craft, the genre and their fans. Chevelle’s last two Album releases, La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts and #3 and #8 respectively, on the Billboard top 200 charts. With no signs of this Chicago alternative rock trio slowing down any time soon, their numerous chart topping releases have certainly earned this band a place in American rock music history.
After more than two decades together, numerous releases, and countless world wide tours, the
outfit consisting of brothers Pete Loeffler [guitars, vocals], Sam Loeffler [drums], and brother in-law, Dean Bernardini [bass, vocals] have confidently sailed through decades of uncharted waters and have emerge with a collection that’s equally intricate and intimate.
Certainly it builds upon the group’s impressive foundation, including the 2002 platinum-selling genre staple Wonder What’s Next and the 2004 gold-selling follow-up This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In which debuted #8 on the Billboard Top 200. The releases that followed held their own against the ever changing faces of popular music for the time. 2007’s Vena Sera reached #2 for Rock album on the Billboard charts. 2009’s release Sci-Fi Crimes reached #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the alternative charts. 2011’s Hats Off to The Bull reached #5 on the Billboard Top 200, 2014’s La Gargola debuted #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Most recently, 2016’s The North Corridor album debuted #8 and soon reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200. La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts with The North Corridor vinyl release reaching #7 on the Billboard top 25 Vinyl charts.
“You don’t want to repeat yourself,” affirms Sam. “We want to seize something different with each song.
Every record has to take on its own identity. As an artist, you have to progress and evolve.” As they continue to master their craft, Chevelle take on the critics and prove time and time again that they a force to be reckoned with.