NINE INCH NAILS
Formed in 1988 in Ohio by Trent Reznor, the creative force behind the music, Nine Inch Nails are known for all things dark, from their intense and alienated lyrics to their controversial music videos.
The band have released eight studio albums to wide critical acclaim, including the multi-platinum Pretty Hate Machine(1989), the uncompromising seminal album The Downward Spiral (1994) and With Teeth (2005), which hit Number One on the US Billboard 200.
They have won two Grammys for Best Metal Performance and sold more than 30 million records worldwide, with hit singles including ‘The Hand That Feeds’, ‘Only’, ‘Every Day Is Exactly the Same’ and ‘Survivalism’.
Nine Inch Nails bring their incendiary live experience, hailed by the New York Times as a ‘musical, visual, emotional sensory onslaught’ to Louder Than Life Festival, the weekend of September 29th-30th 2018.
Avenged Sevenfold became one of the world’s biggest rock bands by creating a sound that broke through obstacles of language, distance and culture. They raised the stakes and standards for the genre with a string of blockbuster albums, including their 2005 platinum-selling breakthrough, City Of Evil, 2007’s platinum-selling Avenged Sevenfold and two consecutive No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart: 2010’s Nightmare and 2013’s Hail To The King. They’ve achieved Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards for album sales in nearly a dozen countries, racked up over a billion video views and a billion-plus Spotify streams, have consistently been one of the most-played bands on rock radio for over a decade with multiple No. 1 singles, and have headlined arenas and the biggest rock festivals around the globe, amassing a diehard international fan base whose members number in the millions. Their most recent release, The Stage, is a work of immense scope and ambition 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 and its 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. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Hard Rock and Alternative Albums charts and drew praise from a plethora of outlets, among them Rolling Stone, NME, Q, The Guardian, Guitar World, Metal Hammer, Revolver, Loudwire, Metal Injection, Alternative Press, Drum, Total Guitar and Classic Rock, with the latter calling it “a metal masterpiece.”
In February of 1995, after being behind the drums for more than 23 years, Sully Erna decided to start a new band. It was only a matter of time before he realized he needed to take charge and step out from behind the kit to front the band himself. One year and a couple of member changes later Godsmack was born. Sully Erna, Robbie Merrill and Tony Rombola hit the studio and recorded their first CD titled All Wound Up. They did this over one weekend for a measly twenty six-hundred dollars. Over the next two years, the band played throughout the Boston scene with drummer Joe Darco and began earning a strong reputation of being a great live band. The noise they were making in the New England area created a snowball effect like no other.
Godsmack began drawing in bigger and bigger audiences to their live shows. Their CD began circulating through the streets of Boston and eventually landed in the hands of a DJ for WAAF, a Boston radio station. WAAF put “Keep Away” into heavy rotation and it quickly soared to the #1 spot at the station. Newbury Comics, a New England record store chain, agreed to sell the CD on consignment and the grind continued. Shortly after the success of “Keep Away” Godsmack went back into the studio and recorded a single titled “Whatever”, which became the new local favorite on WAAF. It took off in the blink of an eye and the race was on.
As a result of the single doing so well, Godsmack’s CD began selling hundreds of copies per week, and soon escalated to more than one thousand copies per week, becoming the second best selling CD in that chain of stores. Godsmack’s live shows began selling out throughout New England, which in return created more requests for their music on the local radio stations and more CD sales. On and on it went until the summer of 1998 when Republic/Universal stepped up and signed the band to their label.
Joe Darco was soon replaced by Tommy Stewart, All Wound Up was re-mastered and the artwork was changed. The finished self-titled debut CD Godsmack hit the shelves six weeks later.
Godsmack hit the road on their first headlining tour, The Voodoo Tour. The bands strong live performances, coupled with high record sales and growing number of fans, landed them time slots on Ozzfest 1999 and 2000, a European tour with Black Sabbath and an appearance at Woodstock 1999.
In 2000, Godsmack released their second CD, Awake. This album’s title track dominated rock radio and broke chart records throughout 2000 and 2001. The CD’s instrumental track “Vampires” earned the band its first Grammy nomination.
Godsmack toured Awake selling out arenas and outdoor venues nationwide. They gave their fans their moneys worth with a gothic stage, video and pyro; lots of pyro!
In 2002, Sully was asked to A&R the soundtrack for the motion picture The Scorpion King, the third installment in the Mummy saga. The song Godsmack wrote and performed lived up to its title: “I Stand Alone” became the #1 single at Rock Radio and the most played Active Rock song in 2002 for 14 weeks straight.
After spending over four years on the road the band decided to take a break before heading back into the studio. It was during this break that Shannon Larkin, a friend of Sully’s for 15 years, formerly of Wrathchild America, AMEN and Ugly Kid Joe, was asked to replace Tommy Stewart.
The new line up headed to Miami to write and record the bands third CD. Faceless was released in April of 2003 and became the #1 selling record in America of that week. Faceless also brought another tour that ran 23 months strong including two more Grammy nominations for “I Stand Alone” and an 11 month international arena tour with the kings of metal, Metallica!!
In March of 2004, Godsmack released their first acoustic EP, The Other Side which included new versions of previous hits like “Keep Away”, “Re-Align” and a haunting new version of the Navy’s recruit song, “Awake”! This also spawned a side tour of its own. Godsmack filled in breaks from the big stage with Metallica with intimate storytelling acoustic shows giving their fans the explanation behind the title, The Other Side.
With rich velvet curtains, stone gargoyles and strings of Christmas lights illuminating theaters around the country, fans had a whole new experience of the true talents of this unique foursome. Stripped down to nothing, Godsmack continued to deliver one of the best acoustic performances of our time.
Godsmack ended 2004, and two CD cycles, with a nostalgic New Year’s Eve performance at the Hard Rock Café, in Orlando, Fl. During this amazing three hour performance, Godsmack rolled through just about every song in their catalog as well as a few well-known cover songs.
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
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.’”
Breaking Benjamin are no strangers to the upper echelons of the rock charts. Since bursting onto the scene with 2002’s Saturate, the band has amassed an impressive string of mainstream rock radio hits, including “So Cold” and “The Diary of Jane,” and the No. 1 singles “Failure,” “Breath” and “I Will Not Bow.”
The self-produced Ember, Breaking Benjamin’s sixth album and first full-length since 2015’s Dark Before Dawn, once again contains an abundance of high-caliber, melodic hard rock. But ask Breaking Benjamin guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Ben Burnley about the significance of the album title, and his answer hints at intriguing new dimensions: “An ember can either be the end of something or the beginning of it.”
The band’s new single, “Red Cold River,” falls firmly into the latter camp. After starting with a subdued intro, the song explodes with stinging riffs, howling vocals and frenzied drumming. Later, an avalanche of churning guitars and mesmerizing harmonies cloak the ominous assertion, “I can’t feel anything at all/This life has left me cold,” before the song’s verses retreat once again into sparser territory. It’s an earworm that burrows deep, and begs repeated listens.
“Red Cold River,” which Burnley says the band recognized as “one of the most powerful songs” they had written for the album, is emblematic of Ember’s aggressive approach and dramatic dynamics. Although there are moments of levity—the somber piano intro of “Feed The Wolf,” the crooning, melodic choruses on the yearning “Torn In Two” and “Close Your Eyes”—the record skews heavy. Abrasive guitar slashes dominate both “Blood” and “Feed The Wolf,” while the chugging “Save Yourself” boasts a ferocious rhythmic backbone.
“People have always really liked the heavier side of the band,” Burnley says. “I think that’s what they sort of gravitate towards. But we also make sure to explore our melodic and softer side too. On Ember, we just tried to make it more extreme—the softer side on this album is really soft, and the heavy side is really heavy. We decided to give everybody what they want to the furthest degree.”
This commitment to sonic progress is one of Breaking Benjamin’s best qualities: Not only does it reflect Burnley’s ambition, but it also explains the band’s enduring success, and ability to weather changing musical trends and lineups. “Our records are very different from one another, as far as the actual technical aspects are concerned, such as how many tunings we use,” Burnley says. “Every Breaking Benjamin album features something new we’ve never done before.”
Ember is no exception. For example, the record features more prominent programming flourishes. The atmospheric “The Dark of You” features melancholy effects scurrying beneath jagged guitars, while electronic shirring adds rhythmic texture to the slow-burning “Tourniquet” and an eerie, haunted house vibe to the cinematic “Down.”
In typical Breaking Benjamin fashion, however, these forays into the digital realm complement the band’s rock-oriented sound. “Our programming is done in such a way that it’s not obvious or intrudes on the core of the song,” Burnley notes. “We found a way to do programming live, instead of having it on a track that just plays and then we play to it. We don’t like to do that. We can separate the drum loops and all the other sounds, so that they can be played live instead of pre-recorded.”
It helps that Breaking Benjamin’s current lineup—which, in addition to Burnley, includes guitarists Jason Rauch and Keith Wallen, bassist Aaron Bruch and drummer Shaun Foist—features gifted players who can easily recreate even the most complicated parts. In fact, Ember contains Breaking Benjamin’s most advanced and challenging music yet. Exhibit A: “Psycho,” which finds Rauch unleashing gnarled, metal-leaning riffs and technically precise (but intricate) phrasing.
“It’s difficult to play some of the songs,” Burnley says. “They’re not something somebody could just pick up and play.”
Such complexity is also a testament to Ember’s expanded, full-band songwriting approach. On previous Breaking Benjamin albums, Burnley would shoulder the bulk of the composition—something he was happy to do, but which made recording more of a labor-intensive experience. This time around, although he wrote the majority of Ember’s lyrics and vocal melodies, his bandmates made significant contributions to the music, ranging from stacked background vocals to soaring hooks. Bruch even wrote the music and vocals for the chorus of “Red Cold River.”
“They’ve really contributed a lot more than anybody else has in the past,” Burnley says of his bandmates. “And they’re more like-minded, musically, than people I’ve ever played with—and so everything that they gave me fit into songs that I already had.
“I wrote the majority of our last five albums, and so I’m good with that—you know, that’s enough for me,” he adds with a laugh. “Five albums pretty much by myself—I’m ready to pass it along. It’s more fun when you’re not doing everything by yourself.”
This musical chemistry has buoyed Breaking Benjamin as the band embarked on U.S. tours with Shinedown and Sevendust, and booked their first European dates—including appearances at Download Festival (UK), Rock am Ring and Austria’s Nova Rock, and a headlining slot on the 2016 Axes & Anchors Cruise.
“There was a lot of support, and a lot of people that knew who we were,” Burnley says of heading to Europe for the first time. “It was very much in a lot of ways exactly like what we have here in America. It was an awesome surprise, because the first time we went there, we didn’t know what to expect.”
Doing so much touring over the last few years hasn’t necessarily had a direct influence on Breaking Benjamin’s sound. However, being on the road has strengthened the relationship between the band members, which has had an organic influence on Ember’s music. As Burnley and Breaking Benjamin look to tour heavily in 2018 (and beyond), expect this positive momentum to continue gathering steam.
“Creatively, we mesh really well, and so it makes us personally mesh really well,” Burnley says. “We want to be together and tour; we’re brothers. If anything, our friendship is growing stronger. And so that’s why we tour so much, because we really enjoy that—we enjoy being there for the fans, and we enjoy playing together. Things just keep getting better for us.”
Billy Idol was an early architect of the sound, style, and fury of punk rock. His lip- curling sneer and fist-pumping persona vaulted him into the mainstream as one of MTV’s first megastars, making him one of the most recognizable faces in pop music, while selling out arenas everywhere he played. He has sold 40 million albums while scoring numerous platinum albums worldwide, nine top forty singles in the U.S. and 10 in the U.K. including “Dancing With Myself, “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell,” “Mony Mony,” “Eyes Without A Face,” “Flesh For Fantasy,” and “Cradle Of Love.”
Billy was responsible for some of punk rock’s most memorable, literate, and evocative moments and created a pioneering new sound by bringing the spirit of ’77 to the dance floor, going on to fashion an immediately identifiable musical blueprint that integrates club-land throb, rockabilly desperation, and rock’n’roll decadence.
Idol returned to the spotlight in the fall of 2014 with two high profile releases that marked the latest chapter in the long and remarkable story of a musician, an inventor, a survivor, a father, a son, a man who returned from the brink, and a rebel whose yells made the mainstream sit up and pay attention.
He released both his New York Times bestselling autobiography Dancing With Myself and his latest album, Kings & Queens Of The Underground.
Idol’s book is an electric, intelligent, brutally honest and entirely self-written account of Billy Idol’s journey to fame, from his early days as front man of the pioneering UK punk band Generation X to a long and often decadent life lived loving sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and motorcycles.
Kings & Queens of the Underground was Billy’s first album of new material in nearly a decade. The album’s palette, which includes incredible contributions from Idol’s longtime collaborator and lead guitarist Steve Stevens, will be instantly familiar to lovers of classic Billy Idol, while announcing a firm step into the future. Produced by Trevor Horn (with two tracks co-written and produced by multiple Grammy nominee Greg Kurstin), it is full of thumping, cinematic songs about sin, redemption and the love of rock’n’roll.
“Whether you’re making music or you’re making a movie, you do whatever you have to be great, and make it memorable,” says Ice Cube. “Whether it’s cassettes, wax, or digital downloads, VHS tapes, satellite TV or Netflix, people don’t care what format it’s in as long as the content is quality.”
Actor, writer, producer, director, rapper, father – reigning renaissance king could be a good term to describe the one and only Ice Cube. Coming of age in 1980s Los Angeles, Cube experienced the roiling stew of street knowledge, sports fanaticism, and social injustice in a city at the forefront of hip-hop’s expansion from local sound to global phenomenon.
Twenty-seven years after N.W.A – the group Cube co-founded with Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella – released their archetypal gangsta rap masterpiece Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless/Priority, 1989), the group’s 2016 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with an introductory speech by their spiritual heir Kendrick Lamar, is a mark of how far Cube has come.
If there’s an irony in this, it’s that the mean mug that originally made Cube so formidable as a rapper is the same face that often makes him so entertaining as an actor. “I perfected my scowl a long time ago,” says Cube. “I perfected it long before I ever thought of being in a movie. Although I admit that it does work great in the movies.”
The distance between, say, a brutal dis track like “No Vaseline” (from 1991’s Death Certificate) and a star turn alongside Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 2014’s hit comedy 22 Jump Street might seem like a million miles. But with Cube’s range, it’s not far at all.
Music fans of a certain vintage will ride hard for Cube, perhaps placing premium preference on his unimpeachable first three solo albums, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted (1990), Death Certificate (1991), and The Predator (1992). Their children may know Cube as the loveable patriarch from such popcorn- friendly fare as Are We There Yet? (2005), and as the voice of The Candle Maker in the Golden Globe- nominated animated feature The Book of Life (2014).
“I didn’t put myself in the movie industry, it was John Singleton who discovered me at the right time,” Cube says of his film debut as Doughboy in the Singleton-directed 1991 hit Boyz n the Hood. “John brought me into this industry and got me looking towards Hollywood. Coming from making music, I understood that movies were a cool way to be creative on a whole other level.”
From that auspicious beginning, Cube has become one of the most bankable, likeable names in Hollywood as a writer, actor, and producer. His production company, Cube Vision, founded in 1995, has now passed two decades making memorable films. He has been part of films that have cumulatively grossed over $1 billion at the box office. The N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton took in box office receipts of over $200 million worldwide. In 2009, Cube received BET’s Hip-Hop Icon Award, and 2014 BET’s Honors Award For Excellence In Entertainment. Although Straight Outta Compton was snubbed by the Academy, it won NAACP Award for Outstanding Motion Picture and ABFF Film of the Year amongst numerous other accolades.
Cube’s successful film franchises include Friday, Are We There Yet?, Ride Along, and Barbershop. With Ride Along 2 and Barbershop: The Next Cut smashing the box office in the first half of 2016, these are enviable achievements in a Hollywood system increasingly geared towards sequels and franchises.
“I don’t want to give away all the herb and spices,” Cube says, “but one key to a successful sequel is to treat it like its own standalone movie, not like just a piece of a franchise. It’s about creating a whole new movie, and not relying too heavily on what made the first one great. A person might not have seen the first one or the second one, and you don’t want them to be lost. That’s what we’ve done with Friday, Ride Along, and Barbershop.”
Cube’s filmography is compelling. A scroll through IMDB reveals as much. But the 2015 film that brought together his incendiary hip-hop past and his current box office clout was something extra special.
On the song “Growin’ Up” from his 2006 album Laugh Now Cry Later (the most successful indie hip- hop release that year), Cube made peace with the late Eazy-E (“I like your son too/ He got his name from you”). As Cube explains, the rapprochement that set the stage for the movie Straight Outta Compton had already been made: “Making peace with Eazy was easy. I had done it while he was alive, so it wasn’t a revelation to put it on a record. Throughout my whole career, I’ll be thanking Eazy-E and Dr. Dre one way or another. With Straight Outta Compton the movie, a lot of things set the stage for
that to become a reality. I directed the ESPN 30 for 30 film Straight Outta L.A., and then VH1 did a Behind The Music on me, and one on Dre, then a special came out called The World’s Most Dangerous Group. N.W.A was nominated to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, while Dre was having enormous success with Beats, and all these things together put N.W.A back on the map in terms of popular consciousness. Everything happened at the right time to make people understand how interesting and special this group was, and this movie could be.”
Multiple generations of Ice Cube fans were now on the same page. Never had a history lesson felt so fresh.
“I don’t want you to have to tell your kids who I am, or how cool I used to be,” says Cube. “It’s there for them to know themselves. Straight Outta Compton helped the younger generation understand what we went through. For the older generation it gave them a better understanding of why we made that hardcore type of music. It was a love fest to go back in time and see the history preserved and properly retold.”
A significant generational twist is that the role of Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton was played by Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. Cube is understandably proud of his son’s superb performance: “He was perfect for the job. The coach’s son always gets it the hardest, so he had to step up, and he did. I’ve encouraged my kids to get involved in the entertainment industry if it’s something they want to do. I have a nice foothold in the industry, I’m respected, I can get movies made, so it’s a beautiful thing for them to build on.”
Having sold over 10 million albums as a solo artist, Cube is now back working on his next album, Everythangs Corrupt. “I promise you it will be great. It’s not about where you are in the charts, it’s about where you are in the hearts. Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye didn’t top the charts with every record they released, but every record they released was a great record. My music is always satisfying to my fans, that’s the important thing.”
As far as satisfying himself, Ice Cube has a simple formula. “If you stay positive, you can stay creative, and you can be happy,” he says. “That’s my experience, and that’s my message to the world.”
FEAT. MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS
SLASH—the iconic American rock guitarist, songwriter and film producer–has amassed album sales of over 100 million copies, garnered a GRAMMY Award and seven GRAMMY nominations and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Born Saul Hudson in England in 1965, SLASH’s father was a white British graphic artist and his mother was a black American costume designer. At age five, SLASH and his family moved to Los Angeles where he grew up in the nonstop bohemian playground of ’70s.
SLASH helped create signature sounds like the guitar riff on #1 hits for Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Welcome To The Jungle.” After leaving the band, SLASH went on to critical acclaim with SLASH’s Snakepit and global success with the supergroup Velvet Revolver before embarking on his own solo career.
Time magazine recently named SLASH #2, behind Jimi Hendrix, on its “Ten Best Electric Guitar Players of All-Time” list.
SLASH’s self-titled biography (Slash, 2008) was critically well-received, climbed the bestseller list in both the U.S. and U.K. hitting #8 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. SPIN magazine called the book “Entertaining and educational…a crash course for aspiring rock gods.”
SLASH landed on the top of the charts again with his first solo album, Slash (2010) which featured Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie, Myles Kennedy and more. Shortly after, he then formed his current band: SLASH: Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators who have now been touring the world over and making music for four years.
SLASH and his current band SLASH Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators released the critically acclaimed Apocalyptic Love (2012) which stormed the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart debuting at #4 as the top rock album. Apocalyptic Love has the added distinction of spawning SLASH’s first-ever #1 rock radio solo hits: “You’re A Lie” and “Standing In The Sun.”
SLASH released Nothing Left To Fear (2013) the first-ever motion picture he co-produced from Slasher Films, his film/TV production company specializing in the horror genre. He is currently working on a new film project.
SLASH and his band, Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators unleashed their current album WORLD ON FIRE to worldwide praise garnering SLASH some of the best critical acclaim of his career from the media. SLASH’s third straight solo album to debut in the Top Ten, WORLD ON FIRE achieved over 12 Top Ten chart debuts around the world. The album’s title track and first single “World On Fire” ascended to #1 at U.S. Rock Radio. WORLD ON FIRE is SLASH’s third solo offering and second album with his official band The Conspirators which features MYLES KENNEDY (vocals), BRENT FITZ (drums) and TODD KERNS (bass).
“It’s a story about gluttonous individuals sucking the colors out of the world,” says
Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool. “The overuse of resources by the greedy
elite, and how the meek masses can overcome them in the end by unifying. It
seemed pretty relevant these days.”
The tale Claypool is describing comes from a 1978 children’s book called The
Rainbow Goblins by the Italian author and artist Ui de Rico, and it forms the basis
for the new Primus album coming out September 29, The Desaturating Seven. In
the story—which is accompanied by stunning illustrations, done in oil paints on
wood panels—seven goblins come to the valley where rainbows are born,
intending to steal the rainbows and eat them. The valley, though, knows that the
goblins are coming, and makes a plan to thwart the wicked creatures by hiding
the rainbow. After the goblins are caught in their own nets, the flowers release
the colors of the rainbow and drown the goblins, and in gratitude, the rainbow
turns the flowers into beautiful birds who fly across the valley in freedom.
“My wife got turned onto it when she was a kid, and we started reading it to my
children when they were very young,” says Claypool. “It became a bedtime story
favorite. It always came across a bit frightening, like an old Grimm’s fairy tale—a
little dark and creepy, which seemed very much up my strasse.”
Claypool found particular inspiration in de Rico’s paintings for The Rainbow
Goblins. “The artwork is just amazing,” he says. “There’s a beauty but also a dark
eeriness for this compelling, sinister story. The paintings are incredible, vibrant,
very unique looking—it’s a good contrast between dark and light visually and also
metaphorically. And there’s always been a strong visual element to Primus.”
Indeed, taking inspiration from a wide range of sources was part of what made
Primus one of the most distinctive, innovative bands of the 1990s. The trio’s
alt/punk/avant-garde/psychedelic/country attack, along with Claypool’s surreal,
fever-dream lyrics, resulted in some of rock’s unlikeliest hits, including “Tommy the
Cat,” “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver,” and “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.” The
Desaturating Seven marks the return of the definitive Primus line-up—Claypool,
guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander—for its first
album of original music since 1995.
Starting as an underground phenomenon in San Francisco, the band’s cult grew
rapidly. Such albums as Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991), Pork Soda (1993),
and Tales from the Punch Bowl (1995) all went gold and or platinum, and Primus
toured with some of rock’s biggest names—U2, Jane’s Addiction, Public Enemy,
Rush—and headlined the third Lollapalooza festival.
Alexander left and rejoined Primus several times, and Claypool alternated between
the band and such other projects as Oysterhead (with Trey Anastasio and Stewart
Copeland) and the Claypool Lennon Delirium, alongside Sean Lennon. In 2014,
Alexander returned for the Primus & The Chocolate Factory with the Fungi
Ensemble album, on which the group covered the iconic soundtrack to the 1971
film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Staying in the fantasyland of children’s stories, Claypool decided to tackle the
adaptation of The Rainbow Goblins. “The challenge was to write music about
goblins and rainbows and not come off overly clichéd,” he says. “I didn’t want to
be overly literal either—there are very few straight-up lines from the book in the
lyrics, more like hints at metaphors.” He started off with the story’s climactic
moment, which became the nearly-eight-minute epic “The Storm.”
“I wrote that and recorded some bass and vocals, and I played it over the phone
for Larry,” says Claypool. “I worried that I was going too far down the 70’s
art/prog path, I didn’t want it to come off cheesy. But he loved it, and then so did
our manager, which inspired me to keep going.”
With that central piece down, Claypool started fleshing out the journey of the
book, creating an introduction, “The Valley,” that established some of the themes
that thread through much of the music. From there, it became a matter of working
through the story and building a cohesive structure.
“Originally it was going to be one giant piece, but some parts didn’t match up,”
says Claypool. “You get these epiphanies and then you hit a wall—I was rolling
along and then ‘The Trek’ really hung me up. ‘The Dream’ was an odd one, tough
to wrangle, but a good contrast—very dark and sparse, then there are these big
percussive hits and then at the end, away it goes, into this early Peter Gabriel-ish
Having to maintain a storyline represented a new sort of challenge for Claypool’s
writing. “When you have a narrative, it puts up parameters,” he says. “It gives you
interesting jumping-off points, but it can also make it more difficult. Those
confines can propel you forward or hold you back a little bit. But using someone
else’s art for inspiration certainly opens doors you wouldn’t on your own.”
Musically, The Desaturating Seven led Primus back to some of the sounds and
styles of their earlier days. “This record hearkens back to our prog roots—Rush,
Yes, Crimson, all those things,” says Claypool. “It’s a little heavier than the last
record, more intricate than anything we’ve done in a while.”
Which, he adds, made these songs ideal as a return to working with Tim
Alexander on original material. “This stuff is totally In his wheelhouse,” says
Claypool. “Intricate and melodic drumming is what Tim does, what naturally
comes out of him.”
From its inception, Claypool approached The Desaturating Seven music with an
eye toward presenting it on stage. “As I was laying it out, I was already thinking
about how it could be performed trunk-to-tail,” he says. Now he’s in the process
of planning a tour that will feature a complete performance of the new record—a
show with a set of Primus material and then “an entire set of Goblin Rock, with
full production and fancy eye candy.”
For Les Claypool, sailing the seas of The Rainbow Goblins represents the
completion of an idea he’s been kicking around for a long time. “Twenty years
ago, I thought it would be great to turn it into music someday, but I’m just getting
around to it now,” he says. “It was kind of a back-burner thing—but as I get older,
I have to get through those, because at some point, I’m going to open up a hot
dog stand and say goodbye.”
In the end, though, for all its specific requirements and obstacles, The
Desaturating Seven came down to finding a way to let Primus be Primus. “Every
time, it’s like building the Golden Gate Bridge out of a pile of popsicle sticks,”
says Claypool. “You have a certain amount of sticks and you have to figure out
how to make it work. But I’ve been working with these particular sticks for a long
while, so I tend to know where to put them.”
As the lead vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter behind multi-platinum rock band BUSH, Gavin Rossdale has sold close to 20 million records in the U.S. and Canada alone. Together with BUSH, he’s compiled an amazing string of 18 consecutive Top 40 hit singles on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, including 11 that hit the Top 5. Six of these became No. 1 hits: “Comedown,” “Glycerine,” “Machinehead,” “Swallowed,” “The Chemicals Between Us” and “The Sound of Winter.” As a solo artist, he hit No. 1 on iTunes with “Love Remains The Same,” which sold close to 2 million copies alone.
In between recording and touring, Rossdale has earned kudos for acting roles in both film and television, including 2013’s The Bling Ring, the acclaimed black comedy from Oscar award-winning writer and director Sofia Coppola, 2005’s The Game of Their Lives, in which he had a starring role alongside Gerard Butler, and 2005’s Constantine, opposite Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz. His television appearances have included USA Network’s “Burn Notice” and CBS dramas “Hawaii 5-0” and “Criminal Minds.”
In 2011, Bush re-entered the fray with The Sea of Memories, their first release in 10 years. That album saw them return to the top of the charts in grand style, with lead single “The Sound of Winter” making rock radio history as the first self-released song ever to hit No. 1 at Alternative Rock Radio (where it stayed for six consecutive weeks). They followed with Man on the Run and toured endlessly in support, playing to packed-house crowds around the world.
Their story continues with new album Black and White Rainbows, which People magazine called “a triumphant return.” Rossdale also recently served as one of the coaches for the hit TV series, “The Voice UK.”
A few years ago, “famous” displaced “teacher” as the number one career choice for children. When another recent study asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” one in five kids replied, “I just want to be rich.” High on the ultimate drug, worshippers of a new pop culture religion with its own twisted clergy, a generation of vacuous celebrities chases fame as its own reward, jettisoning any pretenses about talent, sincerity, or artistry.
Thankfully, there are still dedicated, hardscrabble, no-nonsense soothsayers, organizers, musicians, and likeminded creative badasses who’ve defiantly said, “enough!” Like SEETHER, the multiplatinum rock radio anthem-making machine whose albums, songs, and live performances are armed with big riffs, bigger melodies, crunchy tones, and atmosphere.
SEETHER’s existence itself is an act of rebellion, weaponized to cut through the noise with truth telling clarity and undeniable authenticity. Even as no-talent hacks and cartoon social media living mannequins seek to dominate the discourse, SEETHER takes a stand against those who Poison the Parish.
“We want to bring back musicality, playing loud, and the importance of having something to say that you can stand behind,” declares SEETHER front man/co-founder Shaun Morgan. “It’s about honesty in your music.”
Poison the Parish, the band’s seventh studio album, arrives just in time on Morgan’s new label imprint Canine Riot Records, via Concord Music Group. Morgan also served as producer (the first time he’s produced an album in its entirety), working alongside engineer and mixer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones, Hatebreed) at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, which has played host to everyone from Taylor Swift to Jack White.
Make no mistake. Poison the Parish displays no specific agenda, political or religious. But it is personal. This time out, SEETHER restored their sound with the blood, sweat and heaviness that’s long powered their career. In this day and age, keeping it real and doing it for the right reasons is a bold statement in and of itself. At a point where most bands start to waver, SEETHER have made certain album seven is the band’s heaviest yet.
“What it really boils down to is that I am disgusted and horrified by what I see society becoming, the complete idolatry of vapid social media and reality TV ‘stars,’” Morgan explains. “It hearkens back to the days of clergy shaping a society as voices of authority; now we’ve got these people glorifying soullessness and lack of talent. They’re preaching this gospel that you can be famous, as long as you have the right face or the right body or the right connections. They aren’t saying, ‘Hey, go out there and write a book, invent something, try to cure cancer.’ It’s all about getting the angles right, to create this illusion that your life is great.”
Poison the Parish is filled with newfound ferocity and purpose, all built around Morgan’s gift for classic pop melody and structure. Album opener “Stoke the Fire,” is a focused statement of purpose and the message is clear: SEETHER is a hard rock n’ roll band, first and foremost. Lead single “Let You Down” is a dynamic, groove-oriented earworm. The moody vibe of “Emotionless” is relentless and chilling while “Against the Wall,” brooding and melodic, reverberates with honesty and self-reflection.
Descendants of Nirvana, early Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden, SEETHER continues to create modern, urgent and memorable music fifteen years into an illustrious and highly successful career.
Consider: the South African band has amassed twenty Top 5 singles, three platinum records, a fan-beloved gold-selling DVD and scores of #1 singles including “Fine Again,” “Fake It,” “Remedy,” “Broken,” “Words As Weapons,” “Country Song,” “Breakdown,” “Rise Above This,” “Same Damn Life,” “Truth,” “Gasoline,” “Driven Under” and their infamous cover of “Careless Whisper”. The band has also been recognized by the South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Music Awards, and Revolver Golden Gods Awards.
The relentlessly hard working outfit has averaged 90 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe as headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world’s biggest rock festivals. SEETHER songs are familiar to anyone who plays Madden NFL games or watch the WWE.
In addition, Morgan co-founded the annual Rise Above Fest, the largest suicide awareness event in the world. Now in its fifth year, the annual benefit concert will take place over two days in July 2017 featuring performers such as Korn, Shinedown, Stone Sour, Skillet and SEETHER.
“We felt so much freedom with this album. We really focused on putting out something completely representative of who and what we are,” says Morgan. “We like to have a good time. That thing you feel when you create and play music, if you lose that to the business side, then you sort of lose the whole reason why you’re doing it. This album is, I think, where our hearts have always been and it represents us completely as the band we are.”
Creating something of value and meaning is SEETHER’s cultural antidote, its north star. And with Poison the Parish, they’ve done it with unrestrained power and grace. “Give something to people,” Morgan says. “Make people’s lives better in some way. That’s really the point.”
Maryland rockers Clutch have been pushing the boundaries of heavy rock music since the 4 original members got together in high school. Having been tagged hard rock, blues rock, southern stoner rock and alternative metal by media and fans across the world it is safe to say one thing… “What you see is what you get” and what you get is a musical force that has been best described as the quintessential American Rock Band. Clutch quickly became known for their relentless touring schedules, playing shows from whiskey stained 2 door venues in the hills of West Virginia to the iconic Brixton Academy in the UK. Whatever the venue, and wherever rock fans congregate Clutch has played there. The band has shared stages with Lamb of God to Iron Maiden, Primus to Thin Lizzy, Mastodon to Motörhead. What has come of it is a cult-like International fan base, not to mention praise from all corners of the music world.
“Few bands exude such cool and confidence, such adept musicality, and above all else, an ability to entertain to the extent that every performance feels like an historic event.” – Alex Milas
Clutch’s “The Regulator” was the first outside, original song by a band to be featured in the AMC series “The Walking Dead” (S2/ mid season finale). Country music megastar Eric Church uses Clutch’s “Electric Worry” to open his live set.
“Psychic Warfare”, Clutch’s latest studio album, released via their own label Weathermaker Music debuted #1 on the Billboard Hard Rock chart and #1 on the Billboard Rock chart.
As we start 2018, Clutch has just wrapped up the tracking of their new album with producer Vance Powell at Sputnik Sound in Nashville TN. The new record will come out later in 2018.
“Clutch are a sound and hearty bunch of fellows that everybody should pay attention to NOW.” Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead
“I want to tour with them just so our audience, if they’ve never seen them, can see them, and so I can see them every fucking night.” Corey Taylor, Stone Sour
“Clutch make me wanna get up in the morning!!” Ricky Warwick, Black Star Riders
“Clutch is infectious…..the kind of band that gets your head moving and your feet tapping uncontrollably!” Rob Caggiano, Volbeat
“Clutch is the only true-to-form, straight-up, pure rock ‘n’ roll band around.” Gary Susalis, Sen. Mgr. of Programming/PD of All Things Rock for Music Choice
“They’re a THC-propelled collision of Bad Brains and Captain Beyond, the sound of ZZ Top colliding with Fugazi.” Scott Rowley, Editor in Chief, Classic Rock, UK
“At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, there really aren’t any rock acts better than Clutch out there right now.” Jeff Treppel, Outburn Magazine
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
Finding themselves five albums in and long established as one of the biggest British metal acts in music history, Bullet For My Valentine have been busy rewriting their own future – finding new ways to invent intelligent noise and remaining unshackled by the legacy that comes with being masters of the trade. After initially forming as Jeff Killed John in 1998, eventually securing a five-album major label deal, their 2005 debut The Poison and 2008 follow-up Scream Aim Fire would provided an injection of what heavy music was very much lacking at the time. Consecutive full-lengths Fever, Temper Temper and Venom would cement their stature as modern masters, selling millions of albums worldwide and being crowned Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards three years in a row – where they’ve also been awarded for Best Single, Best Live Band and Best British Newcomer. It’s not just the press and fans that have afforded them such faith – even the heroes that inspired them in the first place, bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, have personally selected BFMV to hit the road and share the stage with them.
Returning with new opus Gravity, the Welsh quartet have stretched their creative wings like never before, delicately balancing film-score electronica and icy synths in their trademark hellfire of hard rock. Yet, in many ways, its 11 tracks are the mark of a band at their most focused and refined – utilising an expansive whirlpool of noise to clarify their message, rather than overcomplicate it. Opener Leap Of Faith is as devilishly catchy and heavy as any of BFMV’s biggest hits to date, while the stripped-down acoustics of Breathe Underwater capture a side to them that’s never been heard before. With touring drummer Jason Bowld joining founding singer/guitarist Matt Tuck, fellow axeman Michael ‘Padge’ Paget and bassist Jamie Mathias, this is a band reborn – in more ways than one…
“Over the last 12 months, I’ve been thinking about the word contemporary a lot,” reveals Matt, in the run-up to release. “And I feel this is a contemporary record. It’s not an old school, heart-on-your-sleeve influences thing. We’ve done that so let’s move forward and make the band more interesting. We don’t want to alienate anyone… but we don’t want to write the same shit anymore. Metalheads will enjoy this, I actually feel the softer electronic parts make the heavy moments even more crushing. It’s about engaging the listener and taking them on a journey, messing with their heads a bit…”
New offerings such as Letting You Go, The Very Last Time, Under Again and Coma are among those that are guaranteed to mess with heads – marking a departure from the metalcore scene they were instrumental in popularising. It’s arguably the bravest move of their career to date, their ultimate act of defiance. And somehow, a song like Coma could also contain one of the heaviest riffs this band have ever put their name to…
“That’s a dark track with a lot of weight to it,” nods Matt. “It’s definitely one for those that like broodier, heavier songs. We tried to push the boundaries a bit further on that song with all the electronic stuff and loops. Lyrically, it’s a true representation of where I’ve been over the last two years unfortunately… but now I’ve come out of the other side.”
The three years since 2015’s Venom haven’t been easy for BFMV’s commander-in-chief. But instead of falling deeper down a tunnel of self-despair, he channelled his life experiences into art like never before. It would be one of the most introspective and revelatory processes of his life – by his own admission, a personal and creative evolution that simply needed to happen…
“This is me pouring my heart out into song,” continues Matt. “It’s all about that journey.
I picked up my guitar, even though I didn’t really want to, and it’s like I couldn’t stop it, like I couldn’t fight it… Something boldly experimental can’t be done on a whim, we had to be comfortable and eventually we got there. The album is so up and down, so positive on tracks like Not Dead Yet, which is all about seizing the day and catching the moment. Then Under Again is all about the crushing depression I had about a year ago. The whole thing captures the character of… well, me – with some help from [producer] Carl Bown. There’s so much weight to this music without being complicated. That’s exactly what this album is: very uncomplicated.”
Having a multi-instrumentalist like Jason fully on-board also played a big part in this latest chapter of their history – the sticksman having worked with Matt previously in BFMV/Cancer Bats offshoot Axewound. The insight from a musician that made his name playing in Pitchshifter, Killing Joke and Pop Will Itself was not to be ignored – bringing something very different to the classic heavy metal influences at play between the long-lasting Tuck/Paget guitar partnership. This band has never been more ready to explore the unexplored, believes their charismatic frontman…
“While I’ve always been the main songwriter, it’s always been good having Padge supporting when needed,” continues Matt. “He’d bring ideas to the table, and now with Jason involved as well, it’s been incredible – he can write, sing, play guitar, drum, program electronic stuff, he’s just lives it. After the success of the last cycle, we clawed our way back up to where we needed to be, but this time we needed to do something people felt we couldn’t do. We had to make a statement – there could be no better time for the rebirth of Bullet. There’s no point relying on old glories to take us forward – that would be unimaginative, uncreative and boring. The history will always be there, it’s in the books. That’s Bullet. But we’ve moved on.”
As for the history to be made, it’s very much the break of a new dawn for BFMV. Their founding frontman has his sights set higher than ever before. He admits he has already “won the lottery” living out the dreams he had as young teenager, honing his craft and learning to control every corner of that stage. He explains it’s “been amazing and a privilege but you can’t keep shouting about the past – lose steam and it can all be taken away.” You have to keep on winning those lotteries, he humbly explains. Now, having headlined festivals around Europe and various other parts of the world – it’s time to look closer to home…
“We are more than ready for the UK, we’re the best band we’ve ever been,” comes the reply, when asked about being one of the frontrunners in the race to becoming future headliners of Download Festival. Count the number of British bands that realistically look poised for such elevation and it soon becomes clear just how much Bullet For My Valentine’s hard work has been paying off. But no matter how much his band have achieved so far – topping charts and winning awards with platinum records – this will always be a band on-the-cusp in their frontman’s eyes. And perhaps there lies the secret to their success…
“When you get those shots, you make them count,” reasons Matt. “We can hold our own with the best of them and Gravity feels like our best opportunity to headline Download. Bring it on. Other bands might be heavier, but we have the songs – we will always win on that front. I don’t want us to be another boring band that just does okay. Until I’m headlining those festivals, I’m not satisfied. Nothing else matters.”
With a new album, a new line-up and a new sound skyrocketing what is shaping up to be the biggest year of his career to date, you’d better believe him.
A raunchy, cylinder-shaped ginger of Eastern European ancestry might not be the first dude you’d peg for rap stardom, but that’s exactly the mantle Action Bronson is on the verge of possessing. Over the last few years, the 28-year old Queens native has become one of hip-hop’s most charismatic and colorful new characters, thanks to his wicked sense of humor, a buffet of impressive releases and the rare knack for updating cherished East Coast aesthetics into indisputably modern music.
In 2011, The New York Times hailed Bronson as “one of the most promising prospects in New York hip-hop.” That formidable potential is now being realized. When Bronson gleefully tossed slabs of meat from Peter Luger’s famed steakhouse into a wild-ass crowd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, the mosh pit of skaters, knuckleheads, rap purists and young women was evidence of his ever-widening appeal.
Born Ariyan Arslani, Bronson grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, the son of an Albanian immigrant father and a Jewish mother from Brooklyn. He was an only child, but the population of the two-bedroom apartment swelled to as many as 13 inhabitants due to cousins, aunts, uncles and refuges from ethnic strife in Kosovo.
It was in the family restaurant that Bronson developed his enduring fascination with quality eating. After studying in the Art Institute of New York’s culinary program, he took jobs ranging from busboy to sous chef. Consequently, songs in his discography often read like menu items: “Roasted Bone Marrow,” “Pouches of Tuna,” “Jerk Chicken,” “Ceviche.” Rolling Stone, appreciating the theme, described Bronson’s music as “the ultimate in comfort food, with a contemporary twist.”
While Bronson was a ravenous musical connoisseur who grew up admiring artists like Kool G. Rap, Cam’ron and Mobb Deep, he never contemplated rapping himself. But a few years back, he penned a satirical song over a Southern beat CD and the results were improbably impressive. With an oversized personality, intricate wordplay and the cagy charm of an outer-borough striver, he was a natural. And after a broken leg forced him out of the kitchen, Bronson began writing seriously. In 2007, joined with Mayhem Lauren and Jay Steele to release the Last of a Dyin’ Breed: Volume 1 mixtape under the collective name “The Outdoorsmen.”
Bronson’s insistent delivery and penchant for flamboyant phraseology initially drew some comparisons to other rappers, but he has long since matured beyond such superficialities. In 2011 alone, he released Bon Appetit….Bitch!, The Program EP, Dr. Lecter and Well Done. 2012 introduced collaborations with artists like Earl Sweatshirt, Riff Raff and SpaceGhostPurp, as well as Blue Chips, the brilliant street album produced by Party Supplies. In awarding the effort a lofty 8.1, Pitchfork called Bronson “one of the most hilarious and creative writers in rap” who savagely captured the essence of New York’s seedy soul: “It is what a Weegee photograph would look like now.”
In August of 2012, Bronson signed with Vice/Warner Bros Records. With the leading youth media company’s multi-platform power now backing him, forthcoming projects like Rare Chandeliers with Alchemist, Saab Story with Harry Fraud and Blue Chips 2 will find countless new listeners. His debut LP on Vice/Warner Bros. Music is scheduled for 2013. For Action Bronson, this accelerating rise to greatness may just persuade him to put off “laying back, eating poutine” for a little while longer.
After extensive national and international touring in 2014, Bronson released his debut studio album Mr. Wonderful in March 2015. The work received critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and more, debuting at #7 on the Billboard 200. To date, the four album singles racked up a cool 45m plays on Soundcloud alone. Mr. Wonderful boasts an all-star cast, from features by Chance The Rapper to production by greats like Mark Ronson, 40, Statik Selektah, and The Alchemist. Living up to the hype, SPIN says of the project, “It’s the rare rap album that actually rewards its mixtape following.”
In March 2016, Bronson powerfully continued his meteoric rise with the cable television premiere of F*ck, That’s Delicious. As host of the series, Bronson plays the rap game’s Anthony Bourdain, marrying his passion for food and music. Each episode is nothing short of an immersive culinary adventure documenting Bronson’s globe-trotting lifestyle and exquisite palette. F*ck, That’s Delicious debuted on Munchies, Vice’s food online food channel in May 2014. Driven by Bronson’s unparalleled wit, charisma, and authenticity, the series quickly became a fan favorite, generating tens of millions of YouTube views. The explosive popularity of F*ck, That’s Delicious was undeniable and it was ordered to series on Viceland, Vice Media’s
new cable network, as a premier flagship network program in early 2016. Since the series premier this spring, F*ck, That’s Delicious keeps on trucking – its continued popularity and draw has it renewed for a second season to air later this fall.
Since proving his chops as a host and entertainer, Bronson is set to take the reins and add a new twist to the massively popular, cult favorite TV show Ancient Aliens. With a nod to the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, the new series entitled Travelling the Stars: Ancient Aliens with Action Bronson was also adopted by Viceland. On the show, Bronson combines two of his favorite things: watching Ancient Aliens and smoking weed along with insightful and often ridiculous commentary. Bronson will host the first season along with special guest friends such as Tyler, The Creator, Schoolboy Q, Too Short, Earl Sweatshirt, and Eric Andre to name a few.
In March 2016, Bronson announced that he would be releasing his own cookbook, titled Fuck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well with Abrams Publishing, stirring excitement throughout the hip-hop and culinary worlds. The book is currently being written and is schedule for release in fall 2017.
While the name Action Bronson might be new to some, he’s been shaking up the worlds of food and music, two massively powerful New York City institutions, for years. But this is just the beginning for the Bronsoliño. Whether he’s grilling octopus with Seth Meyers, hanging out with his celebrity chef friends like Mario Batali, or performing at music festivals around the world, Bronson is determined to make his mark.
Asking Alexandria have earned a place among the most streamed, downloaded, watched, and altogether listened to bands in a generation, combining the innovation of modern active rock with the traditional attitude of the culture’s trailblazers.
They’ve shared the stage with Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Alice In Chains, and Avenged Sevenfold, and Slipknot; co-headlined with Black Veil Brides; joined Warped Tour and Rockstar Mayhem; played every major rock festival in the world; and headlined sold out theater tours.
“The Final Episode” and “Not the American Average” were both certified gold by the RIAA for single sales in excess of 500,000 each. The music videos for those two singles alone amassed over 100 million views on YouTube. Their third full length album, From Death to Destiny (2013), shot to #1 on the Rock and Metal charts in the U.K. and cracked the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 in the United States upon its release.
Made with producer Matt Good, Asking Alexandria’s self-titled fifth album is an unbridled celebration of acceptance, of the strength of diversity and the freedom of “leaning into the crazy” (as Worsnop puts it), instead of struggling for conformity.
“Into the Fire” offers a beautifully combative, contradictory, and unrelentingly powerful message to the true believers who have stood by this band through thick and thin. “I wouldn’t take back a moment / Not one miserable moment / I’ll give it all ‘till there’s nothing left,” Worsnop sings. It’s most assuredly a genuine promise.
BLACK STONE CHERRY
“I know it’s crazy for four rock n’ roll dudes to make a blues EP, but it’s us sharing with everyone the music that’s been our DNA from day one,” Black Stone Cherry vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson says. “Blues is the music we listen to when we sit around on the bus with a bottle of bourbon.”
Before their five critically acclaimed albums, the 12,000-cap arena shows, topping the UK charts, and sharing the stage with superstars like Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Alter Bridge, and of a Shinedown, the guys in the Kentucky-based active rock powerhouse were just teenagers finding their way jamming on the blues. On the heels of their well-received last album, the quartet issues the masterful 6-song EP, Black To Blues, a collection of blues classics and obscurities reimagined with the meaty moxie of classic BSC.
Black Stone Cherry came together in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky, eventually coalescing around the lineup of Chris Robertson, vocals and guitar; Ben Wells guitar and vocals; Jon Lawhon bass and vocals; and John Fred Young on drums. Young’s dad Richard, and his Uncle Fred, are two member of the iconic country-fried rock n’ roots band the Kentucky HeadHunters, and the high school-aged boys came up honing their craft in the group’s Practice House, a 1940s bungalow. After absorbing grunge, and classic rock, they discovered blues. “A defining moment for me was realizing all the rock n’ roll that I loved came from the blues,” Chris says.
As a lead vocalist, Chris honed his burly pipes studying the power of the Texas Tornado himself, Freddie King, who BSC cover on Black To Blues, and, throughout BSC’s career, the group has always sprinkled in a few blues evergreens in their live set.
“The blues is such honest music. When you hear it, it’s like ‘I’m down on my luck, and, damn, that guy gets just how I feel.’” Chris shares. “I hope by sharing this music we have the beautiful opportunity to expose a new generation to the blues.”
Black To Blues pays homage to the fertile 1960s era of electric blues where the masters pushed boundaries with experimentation and volume. The EP includes covers by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Albert King. The album was recorded in a burst of fevered inspiration this past spring at David Barrick’s Barrick Recording, the same studio where BSC recorded its recent album ‘Kentucky.’ BSC self produced, tracked the music in two days, and favored a raw, in-the-moment production aesthetic to capture the inspired sessions. Chris adds: “Our approach was to do these songs as we’ve written them, with attitude and heavy guitar.”
Black To Blues opens with the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Built For Comfort.” Here, BSC harnesses the song’s dark energy with foot-stomping burly riffage, impassioned whiskey and honey vocals, and a peaks and valleys arrangement that features virtuosic bursts of bluesy guitar brilliance, smoky quiet passages, and mountains crashing down climaxes. Throughout the EP, the BSC’s imaginative arrangements, soulful vocals, and subtle band interplay evoke the halcyon days of heavy blues acts such as Free and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. On “Champagne & Reefer” BSC mesmerize with deft slide guitar playing and powerful contrasting haunting and hefty dynamics. Other standouts include a raucous version of Muddy Waters’ “I Want To Be Loved,” complete with jaw-dropping blues-rock guitar solos, and a clever rendition of Freddie King’s “Palace Of King.” “On ‘Palace Of The King’ we moved one note to make it more dark,” Chris reveals.
The blues is always a sage teacher, and making the Black To Blues EP was a transformative experience for Black Stone Cherry. Chris says: “It was humbling and freeing at the same time. It reignited our passion for this music, and it will definitely have an effect on our next album.”
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.
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.”
When North Muskegon, Michigan native Leigh Kakaty formed Pop Evil, he chose the band’s name for a reason. He loved hard rock songs with good melodies but he also dug loud, crunchy guitars and propulsive metal rhythms. For Kakaty, it’s a natural duality that came from growing up in the Great Lakes and it eventually became the raison d’etre of his band.
“It’s just a natural part of who I am,” Kakaty says. “When I was growing up we’d roll out to the beach on the weekdays with an acoustic guitar and everyone would kick it. And on the weekends, we’d turn up the amps and, boom, everyone would try to break windows. It was all about the heaviness. And I needed both of those elements – the melodic and the metallic.”
Five albums into Pop Evil’s career, combining strong hooks with knockout punches is more important than ever. The band’s new record, simply called Pop Evil, is a surging, contemporary sounding release that incorporates metal, alternative, hard rock and even electronic music. In the wake of the band’s peppy, upbeat 2015 album Up, it’s a wake-up call, a musical rebirth that inspired the band to self-title the release, partially since they’d never done so. Their first album, Lipstick on the Mirror came out in 2008, and while it introduced listeners to the band’s core sound with well-received singles like “Hero” and “100 in a 55,” Pop Evil has grown exponentially since then.
Pop Evil captures Kakaty and his bandmates – rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs, lead guitarist Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRito and drummer Hayley Cramer – at their most inspiring. Every song on the album offers a different spin on the concept behind the band’s name and in an era when many rock bands create a few strong singles, and six or seven less memorable songs and call it an album, Pop Evil is all killer, no filler – the best 11 songs culled from 30 demos.
There’s plenty to be excited about on Pop Evil. The first single, “Waking Lions” starts with clattery electronic drums and a chugging guitar riff interjected with a squealing harmonic, then the first verse kicks in like a mob smashing down the doors the confine them. As Kakaty hits the euphoric chorus – backed by buzzing guitars and a minor-key counter melody – he sings about reaching within and overcoming obstacles “I want to stand up 100 feet tall / ‘Cause fear will never lead my way / I’m ready to run 100 miles strong / I will never be the same.”
By contrast, “Colors Bleed” – for which the band shot an insightful video — was inspired by current events and features a charged rhythm, incisive guitar licks, and confrontational vocals. “Step aside watch the colors bleed / The rise of democracy / Fight the System / Stop and listen / True colors, how can you miss ‘em? / Born with knowledge, raise the fist / Face the enemy, just resist.”
The song blends aggressive rock vocals and rapping, bringing to mind Rage of Machine (even if the bridge and solo sound more like Pink Floyd). “Rage was my favorite band growing up,” admits Kakaty. “Because he was a frontman of mixed race, Zack de la Rocha was my hero. He was the guy that I could relate to when I grew up rapping. In the beginning of my career with Pop Evil, I moved away from that vocal approach in hopes to find the right song to bring it back. It just naturally happened on this record.”
Lyrically, songs like “Colors Bleed” cover new ground for Pop Evil. Instead of being about dysfunctional relationships, self-empowerment or mortality, Kakaty digs into today’s headlines and addresses what he feels about capitalism, hypocrisy and violent confrontation.
“It was important for me to document things that we’re going through right now, such as what happened in Charlottesville, what’s going on with North Korea and where the government is at,” he says. “As a lyricist, I need to address all sorts of subjects and emotions and politics is a part of that. I felt I needed to write about the things I’m feeling as a mixed American — someone whose mom and dad came to this culture with big dreams, hopes, and aspirations because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Anyone who comes to America is a native of this country, so it’s so important that we all come together. When we join together, everyone wins.”
“With a band name like Pop Evil, we felt like the Evil has always been de-emphasized just because of the situations we were in,” Kakaty says. “It always seemed like the people around us wanted to focus more on radio play or writing more mainstream, melodic stuff. That’s definitely a part of what we like to do, but this time we made a rock album for rock fans. And, in general, rock fans are real Middle American, middle or lower-middle class people who get forgotten about. Secular music has pretty much told the world that rock and roll and metal music don’t matter anymore. Having lived that life and thrived as a rock band, it’s hard not to take offense to that, but it’s important to try to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. And we’re doing that by turning up the amps and saying, “Look, we can make heavy songs that really rock and we can also write catchy songs that someone who likes Pearl Jam or Led Zeppelin can get into.”
The struggle was a regular obstacle for Pop Evil as they prepared to record their definitive album. Before they could finish the UP album cycle, they had to find a new drummer. Joshua Marunde (AKA Chachi Riot), who had been with the band since 2011 gradually lost interest in being a touring musician and decided to open his own CrossFit gym. He stayed with the band until the end of May 2016 in support of Up and then amicably parted ways with the band, forcing them to find a replacement while on the road.
After some soul searching, their management team brought a few ideas forward, one being a female drummer and the band members decided that it could be a terrific idea to work with a female drummer in order to give the band a new perspective that wasn’t solely motivated by testosterone.
They took recommendations from industry contacts and invited a bunch of women to email them audition videos. After carefully examining a bunch of playthrough videos one stood out to Pop Evil. It was one video sent in by English drummer Hayley Cramer (ex-McQueen) who they invited for a try out in their hometown and absolutely blew the band away. The band decided to bring her out on the road while Chachi was finishing his
role and split time during the month of May 2016. She entered into the band with total confidence and a new artistic vision.
“As soon as we saw her video we were like, ‘Oh my goodness. She’s the one,’” Leigh Kakaty says. “Her first tour with us was in packed arenas opening for Rob Zombie and Disturbed. It was crazy, but when things work, they work. She’s been like the big sister we never knew we wanted but we’re so glad we have. And she’s so passionate about the music. Songs that we’d been playing for years suddenly came to life in a different way and then she came in and killed it on this record. It was a rejuvenation for us. She’s nothing short of a blessing.”
With Cramer’s help, Pop Evil wrote a batch of new songs in their practice space before they started demoing. In addition to making sure the album was heavier than Up, they wanted the time to create the album they wanted to make. While they had been forced to rush through past albums in three or four months so they could return to the road (the band had averaged 200 live concerts a year over the last ten years), they dedicated a full year to completing Pop Evil.
“When you’ve got a bunch of material to work with, weeding that all out takes time,” Kakaty says. “We’d wind up going with things we didn’t know if we were completely sure was right for the album and then I’d have to put lyrics on and if I didn’t totally believe in something it was hard to put my heart and soul into the vocals. So finally, for the first time ever, the record company/management agreed to give us the time needed to make the record and we worked really hard this time to try out everything and really use the best of the best.”
In Spring 2017, Pop Evil went to Sound Emporium studio in Nashville to work with Kato Khandwala. The band worked in Nashville between June and August, then went to Los Angeles to record vocals and Sphere Studios.
“In the past, we’ve all done our parts and it was a little awkward,” Kakaty says. “This time, everyone was together. Everyone was there in the studio offering their opinions and Kato was there to make sure we didn’t veer off track and to push us to deliver our best performances.”
Looking back at Pop Evil, Kakaty is thrilled that it came out exactly how the band wanted it to. The experimental parts give the album a cutting edge sound and the melodic passages – whether they comprise the crux of the chorus, verse or both – are undeniably memorable. At the same time, the band didn’t compromise when it came to delivering powerhouse metal riffs and emotionally expressive vocal lines.
“With every album, we’ve been able to branch off a little and do more of what we wanted to do,” Kakaty says. “With this record, we really feel like we finally got all the pieces together and created this monster of an album. It’s everything we talked about and strived for and we can’t wait to go out and really show people who we are.”
In 1994, Sevendust first forged a familial tie amongst each other that translated into one of the most diehard audiences in the game. To this day, the connection between fans and the GRAMMY® Award-nominated gold-certified hard rock outfit only grows stronger. For their twelfth full-length and first release for Rise Records All I See Is War, the quintet—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—did the best thing they could possibly do to combat all of the division in the streets and on social media; they went and made a Sevendust record—just bigger, ballsier, and bolder than before.
A trifecta of now-classic gold albums—Sevendust , Home , and Animosity — ignited their journey. Known as an equally intense and unforgettable live force, they’ve consistently packed houses around the world and decimated stages everywhere from Rock on the Range and Woodstock to OZZfest and Shiprocked! 2015’s Kill The Flaw represented a high watermark. Bowing at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, it scored their highest debut on the respective chart since 2010 and marked their fifth consecutive Top 10 on the Top Rock Albums Chart and third straight Top 3 on the Hard Rock Albums Chart. Most impressively, the lead single “Thank You” garnered a nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance” at the 2016 GRAMMY® Awards, a career first. All I See Is War represents yet another new beginning.
With eight years having passed since we last heard new music from Underøath, that near decade-length absence weighed heavily upon music lovers’ hearts. When you consider all of the bands that formed using their idiosyncratic power and texture as blueprints (and then hearing those pretenders fail anyway), you can clearly see the hole Underøath left behind. Whatever real-life worries, psychic baggage or other concerns plagued Spencer Chamberlain, Aaron Gillespie, Tim McTague, Chris Dudley, Grant Brandell and James Smith at the time of their 2013 farewell tour, Underøath’s collective consciousness has been fortified by a renewed commitment to their art. And more importantly, themselves.
“We had been doing this for 13 or so years,” says Chamberlain, the band’s dynamic frontman, about the respite that got them to where they are now. “We were just done by that point. We never knew how long it was going to last. How many hardcore bands last? It’s not like we hated each other, the music or the industry. We blinked, and a decade went by of never being home. But we needed that break, otherwise now wouldn’t have been possible.”
“We got about two weeks into the Rebirth tour,” remembers drummer/vocalist Gillespie, “and thought, ‘Waaaaait a second. This is too important. It’s too important to our fans and it’s too important to us and the feelings we have playing together are too important to ignore.’ And then we slowly asked the question: What’s next? Then we did Rebirth all over the world. Then we toured with Bring Me The Horizon. Then we did festivals. All along, there was this nagging thought: Are we going to make a record? It was a weird question to impose upon ourselves.”
Never was an imposition more on point: On their Fearless Records debut Erase Me, Underøath have added another crucial chapter to their formidable legacy. When the band went in the studio in the summer of 2017 to record their sixth album with producer Matt Squire (Panic! At The Disco, 3OH!3), they knew exactly what they wanted to do as well as what they needed to do. Having already established themselves both as melodic songwriters (2004’s RIAA-Certified Gold record They’re Only Chasing Safety) and as ambitious power merchants (2006’s stentorian, gold-selling Define The Great Line and its majestic follow-up, 2008’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation), the evolution detailed on Erase Me finds them using the sonic dialects they’ve crafted to reveal where they are now.
Assisted by Squire’s sonic psychology and enhanced with a wildly vivid mix from Ken Andrews (co-founder of acclaimed LA outfit Failure), Erase Me never equates getting older with being complacent. Right out of the gate, “It Has To Start Somewhere” burns like a rail dragster achieving top speed before hurling itself straight into the sun. “Wake Me” is almost pop that overshadows whatever manufactured nine-person co-writing session is currently being marketed on streaming-service playlists. “Rapture” feels like prog rock that traverses generations near and far, while Dudley’s electronics drive “No Frame” into universes unknown. Even the first single, “On My Teeth,” seemingly sends a warning to listeners to protect their necks. Underøath may have tempered the punishing riffage of their previous releases, but they doubled-down on the urgency, via every scream out of Chamberlain’s face, guitarist McTague’s sense of the appropriate and Gillespie’s frenetic thrashing of his kit. When considering the pretenders that came to fill the void during their absence, Erase Me inarguably proves that Underøath’s only true competition is themselves.
“The only rule we had on this record was to reject the phrase we said about our previous records,” says Chamberlain. “’That’s not Underoath enough.’ We left that shit in St. Petersburg when we played that last farewell show. To say something’s ‘not Underoath enough’ robs us of growing. We didn’t say we were going to make an artsy record, a melodic record or a record our fans will like. We made a record that stokes us out that we love. And in my whole life, I’ve never said that on any record I’ve ever been on. That’s us growing up and progressing—not just as musicians but as human beings.””
Clearly, Erase Me is the apex where melodic heft, indefatigable power, spatial resonance and arcane electronic textures converge to reveal a band that’s positively fearless. But like Chamberlain says, Underøath’s creative and personal growth manifests itself in more ways than the stuff coming out of the speakers. For the singer, it meant him coming to terms with his struggles with chemical dependency and his quest to rise above it. In addition, the band who once openly–and without apology–professed their faith-based worldview onstage nightly, have since moved beyond the realm of seemingly impenetrable polemics. At various junctures, Erase Me illustrates those moments of sanctuary, anxiety, betrayal and conflict that inevitably arise when humanity grapples with belief systems. Underøath are not being provocative to create shock value, faux-hipster smugness or revisionist history toward their accomplishments. This is where their reality has taken them: That such a narrative exists in the first place is a true manifestation of their personal growth.
With all the accolades, the history, the fandom, as well as the hardships and growing pains in their psychic rearview mirror, Underøath are just as committed to their legacy as much as their friendships. Erase Me is a bold step for a band who want to preserve their integrity in a world where cashing in is a false equivalence for actively delivering mediocre art. When asked if he feels his band still has something to prove this far in, Gillespie is lucid.
“We’ve had success and we’ve come through a lot of waters,” he offers plaintively. “There’s been 11,000 things we’ve been through. So, you would think, almost rhetorically, ‘What do you need now?’ All of us are finally in that place in our lives where the only thing we care about is inclusion for everybody—for the world. For me, exclusion is the scariest thing in the world. And I think as Underøath are coming back now with a new record—which none of us thought was possible—we want people to know that this is your music and you can feel however the fuck you want about it. I just want to prove that we are doing everything in the most honest way we ever have. This is the healthiest we’ve ever been as a group of people, as musicians, and in our worldview.”
Don’t kid yourself: Even with a comeback title seemingly marinating in self-fulfilling prophecy, nobody in their right mind would dare delete Underøath’s measurable contribution to the advancement of post-hardcore and heavy rock. The only thing you need to erase is your patience with their pretenders. Accept no substitutes and your culture won’t feel destitute. It’s great to have Underøath back—especially on their terms.
# # #
UNDERØATH – With eight years having passed since we last heard new music from Underøath, that near decade-length absence weighed heavily upon music lovers’ hearts. When you consider all of the bands that formed using their idiosyncratic power and texture as blueprints (and then hearing those pretenders fail anyway), you can clearly see the hole Underøath left behind. Whatever real-life worries, psychic baggage or other concerns plagued Spencer Chamberlain, Aaron Gillespie, Tim McTague, Chris Dudley, Grant Brandell and James Smith at the time of their 2013 farewell tour, Underøath’s collective consciousness has been fortified by a renewed commitment to their art. On their Fearless Records debut Erase Me, Underøath have added another crucial chapter to their formidable legacy. When the band went in the studio in the summer of 2017 to record their sixth album with producer Matt Squire (Panic! At The Disco, 3OH!3), and Ken Andrews (co-founder of acclaimed LA outfit Failure), they knew exactly what they wanted to do as well as what they needed to do. Having already established themselves both as melodic songwriters (2004’s RIAA-Certified Gold record They’re Only Chasing Safety) and as ambitious power merchants (2006’s stentorian, gold-selling Define The Great Line and its majestic follow-up, 2008’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation), the evolution detailed on Erase Me finds them using the sonic dialects they’ve crafted to reveal where they are now. Clearly, Erase Me is the apex where melodic heft, indefatigable power, spatial resonance and arcane electronic textures converge to reveal a band that’s positively fearless. The band who once openly–and without apology–professed their faith-based worldview onstage nightly, have since moved beyond the realm of seemingly impenetrable polemics. At various junctures, Erase Me illustrates those moments of sanctuary, anxiety, betrayal and conflict that inevitably arise when humanity grapples with belief systems. Even with a comeback title seemingly marinating in self-fulfilling prophecy, nobody in their right mind would dare delete Underøath’s measurable contribution to the advancement of post-hardcore and heavy rock. The only thing you need to erase is your patience with their pretenders. Accept no substitutes and your culture won’t feel destitute. It’s great to have Underøath back—especially on their terms.
Well America, you’ve gone and done it now – you’ve awakened a sleeping giant. This isn’t your parents’ Ice-T, the mild-mannered star of television’s Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, who takes his charm to affable new heights while selling lemonade alongside precocious kids in a current Geico commercial. No, this is BODY COUNT, the gangster-metal collective that made music fearsome to mainstream America, their renegade track “Cop Killer” sending politicians, parents and law enforcement officials into a proverbial tailspin when it was released unto the world a quarter-century ago. That’s not to say Ice-T and BODY COUNT have been silent over the past 25 years, but as Ice is quick to point out, you can’t start a movement if people aren’t willing to move.
“Music happens in climates,” the BODY COUNT frontman says when asked about his expectations for the band’s new opus, the aptly titled BLOODLUST, a razor-sharp collection of social right hooks and body blows that paint a picture of an America in utter and complete shambles. “Groups like Rage Against The Machine and Korn were born when the world was in turmoil, then music went into this delusional period where hip-hop became about nothing more than poppin’ bottles. Now we have impending doom again, racism is at an all-time high and it’s our season again. This is the optimal time for a BODY COUNT record – as an artist, you can be as pissed off as you want, but if the audience is dormant and care more about their chai lattes, well…”
Ice breaks into laughter before he can finish the statement. Nothing against $6 coffee drinks that pack more sugar and syrup than dark roasted caffeine, but our man is onto something. This isn’t about the elephant in the room or the donkeys sulking in the corner, it’s about a culture turned upside down and a people too distracted by fluff and filler to care about making a difference in their world.
“The ‘60s was real music, and BODY COUNT was born into that – I’m going to tell you how I feel about shit, that’s who I am and who I will always be. Now, in 2017, let’s see if people are really as pissed off as they act like they are. We’re dealing with a generation that has never known rage. They grew up on Obama, they’re soft today.”
BODY COUNT were born of a day when hip-hop was the soundtrack of the streets, brought to life by Bloods, Cripps and gang bangers who lived and died by a code of street justice today’s reality stars and internet wannabes can’t begin to fathom. It wasn’t the sound of middle class American kids playing dress-up and feeling fashionable. And heavy metal? It wasn’t pretty and clean for mainstream America to swallow like a watered down shot with your favorite spray of sugary sweet soda as a chaser. Metal was about long hair, middle fingers and a vocal indifference to societal norms. Maybe we can blame BODY COUNT for how far we’ve fallen – after they united metal and hip-hop like napalm, politicians took note and launched careers around warning labels and lyrical witch hunts.
On BLOODLUST [Century Media], BODY COUNT deliver a colossus that will send Tipper Gore and the PMRC into flashback-driven seizures. It is stark mad and irate, a litany of lyrical missives that paint a four-dimensional picture of police brutality, racism and social inequality. Tracks like “No Lives Matter,” “Black Hoodie” and album opener, “Civil War” featuring metal icon Dave Mustaine, pulse with a relevance and slam with a sense of urgency that’s been missing for far too long.
“I may have an acting job to fall back on, but my core still looks out there and says that people are a bunch of pussies. What the fuck!?! I never had a hard time putting myself on the line, now I want people to stand up and open their eyes. People are dumb, they don’t know. The cops shoot kids and they say it’s white people – it ain’t white people, it’s the cops! Racism is real, but that’s not all that’s happening here. I’m singing to my white audience andletting them know that I see them as an ally, and I’m singing to my black audience and telling them to judge a devil by their deeds.”
White, black, blue or red, the songs on BLOODLUST are color-blind, eviscerating any lines that might separate Ice-T’s ‘Original Gangster’ roots, guitarist Ernie C’s searing metal guitar play, a who’s-who of guests that include Megadeth’s legendary Dave Mustaine on “Civil War,” Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe on “Walk With Me,” Sepultura/Soulfly icon Max Cavalera on “All Love Is Lost,” and even a hell-raising cover of Slayer’s classic “Raining Blood.”
“I’m trying to lose that picture of the one-dimensional gangster,” Ice-T says of his expansive reach and bristling influence over popular culture. “Mother fuckers that act hard are the fakest mother fuckers in the world – us right now, this is how human beings really are. We can joke and talk shit, we can hit a political note and be adamant and angry as shit, then on the next note you can be watching cartoons and bouncing your kid on your knee. I’m not worried about people misinterpreting me anymore – the dummies misinterpret, and the real fans will assassinate them for that. The intention here was to make some great music, open some eyes, and offer people some entertainment. People should rock to this – I didn’t want to make a mix tape, I wanted to make a BODY COUNT album.”
Let the movement begin.
The Blood of Gods Mythos:
The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world… their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer an insignificant shitball floating in a dark corner of the universe; the planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all of human history. Aliens to some, gods and demons to others, our erstwhile Scumdogs fucked apes to create the human race, and this fateful unplanned pregnancy would prove to be truly disastrous!
Their new album, “The Blood of Gods” is nothing less than a sacred text chronicling the rise of humanity against their makers, and the massive battle between GWAR and the forces of all that is uptight and wrong with the world. Along the way, the band challenges the sins of their great mistake, from politics, pollution, and organized religion, to fast food, and factory farming. Humans are shown as what they are; a parasitical disease that must be eradicated before they suck the planet dry.
Of course, “The Blood of Gods” is the first GWAR album without the band’s fallen leader, Oderus Urungus. The title of the album refers to the loss of Oderus. and the struggles and triumphs that produced the new sound of the band. Born of adversity, “The Blood of Gods” is a sonic scar…a question asked and answered…Death cannot kill GWAR. Nothing can.
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]—cut out 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 put out a good rock record.”
Inspired, the boys headed to Church House Recording Studio in Austin, TX to cut High Country with Adrian Quesada of 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 robust vocal 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 riffs written 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.”
Retro-rock visionaries Monster Magnet spent much of the 1990s struggling against the prejudices imposed upon image and sound by alternative rock fashion nazis. In fact, it wasn’t until that movement’s late-’90s decline that the band’s dogged persistence finally paid off, when their fourth album, Powertrip, catapulted to gold sales status on the strength of its massive hard rock hit, “Space Lord.” In the meantime, Monster Magnet had managed to become one of the most successful and influential bands associated with the so-called underground “stoner rock” scene. And yet, their influences span much further than that scene’s foundations in ’70s hard rock and metal, delving into space rock, psychedelia, and beyond.
New Jersey native Dave Wyndorf was already a rock & roll veteran by the time he formed Monster Magnet in 1989, having cut his teeth with little-known punk band Shrapnel (also featuring future punk producer Daniel Rey on guitars) in the late ’70s before retiring from music altogether. But, after teaching himself guitar, Wyndorf began assembling Monster Magnet with a handful of fellow New Jersey natives, vocalist Tim Cronin, guitarist John McBain, bassist Joe Callandra, and drummer Jon Kleiman. Fusing their metal, punk, space rock, and psychedelic influences, the band developed a sludgy, feedback-heavy hard rock sound that helped them stand out from the era’s burgeoning retro-rock movement — also counting the Black Crowes, White Zombie, and many others. After releasing a self-titled six-song EP through Germany’s Glitterhouse Records, Wyndorf assumed all vocal responsibilities, while Cronin retreated to a behind the scenes “conceptual consultant” position — much like that of John Sinclair for the MC5.
In the meantime, Monster Magnet had signed with independent label Caroline Records in 1992, and recorded their first full-length album: the very impressive, uniquely dark psychedelic masterpiece Spine of God. The productive sessions also yielded a number of extensive space rock jams that would later be issued as the Tab album in 1993. A video for first single “Medicine” and a support tour with the fast-rising Soundgarden also helped attract powerhouse A&M Records, but even as they prepared to sign with the label, Wyndorf had a serious falling-out with guitarist McBain, who was soon replaced by Ed Mundell. Despite the last-minute change, 1993’s Superjudge proved to be a stellar major-label debut — although it did see the band sacrificing some of their rampant feedback in exchange for more clearly defined, muscular metal riffs. Unfortunately, the group’s retro-rock image had become highly unfashionable at the time, arriving at the height of the post-Nirvana alternative boom, and the album sold poorly. Under mounting pressure to deliver a more commercial follow-up, Monster Magnet delivered a decidedly sleeker — though no less space rock-drenched — effort in 1995’s Dopes to Infinity. This yielded a Top Ten rock single in “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” and was supported by extensive touring with C.O.C., among others, but the album sold only slightly better than its predecessor.
Finding himself mentally and physically exhausted in the aftermath, Wyndorf exiled himself to Las Vegas to begin composing the tracks that would shape 1998’s breakthrough release, Powertrip. By far the group’s most straightforward hard rock album, Powertrip channeled all of Sin City’s vice, greed, and sex into its hedonistic but surprisingly accessible tracks, and first single “Space Lord” went on to dominate rock radio that summer, driving the album over the gold sales plateau. With new rhythm guitarist Phil Caivano in tow, Monster Magnet then embarked on a marathon two-year world tour, both as a headliner and as support to the likes of Aerosmith, Metallica, and Megadeth. By the year 2000, the band had contributed the track “Silver Future” to the Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack and completed work on their fifth album, God Says No, released in Europe in October. But their new American record label, Interscope (which had swallowed A&M in a hostile takeover the year before) inexplicably fussed and messed with the album before finally releasing it domestically in April 2001. Precious momentum and sales were therefore lost to an influx of import copies of God Says No — according to most seasoned fans, already a “difficult,” overtly commercial album to begin with — and Monster Magnet soon found themselves rudely dropped.
Following this unforeseen setback, Wyndorf watched as various bandmembers pursued side projects. Ed Mundell recorded a number of well-received albums with his power trio the Atomic Bitchwax, while Tim Cronin and Jon Kleiman collaborated on the Ribeye Brothers and Gallery of Mites. But, Monster Magnet duly reunited for a short North American tour in early 2002 and, a year later, a new deal with the German SPV label was announced. Recorded in late 2003, the group’s sixth full-length album, 2004’s Monolithic Baby!, would be recorded with a new rhythm section, these being bassist Jim Baglino and drummer Bob Pantella. In 2005, Phil Caivano left the band amicably, and the rest of the group started recording in L.A. with producer Matt Hyde. Reissues of Tab and Spine of God were released in the meantime, along with a 20th Century Masters — Millennium Collection disc of their greatest hits. In November 2007, after a European tour, 4-Way Diablo was released. Eduardo Rivadavia, All Music Guide
RED SUN RISING
Tremonti, founded by Grammy award-winning Mark Tremonti, is an American heavy metal band. In 2012, Mark teamed up with long-time friends and fellow musicians Eric Friedman (backing vocals / guitar / bass) and Garrett Whitlock (drums) to record Mark’s debut solo album. “All I Was”, featured Mark’s trademark metal-root guitar riffs coupled with infectious melody, and most impressively – the debut of Mark Tremonti as lead vocalist.
THE FEVER 333
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.”
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] 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 track “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 – today 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 “Toast To The Ghost” delivers a searing gut – punch punctuated by
sharp succinct fretwork, smartbomb 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
“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.”
BAD WOLVES are set to release their debut LP in Spring 2018 under their new label, Eleven Seven Music.
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.
DANCE GAVIN DANCE
Dance Gavin Dance is a six-member post-hardcore/experimental band from Sacramento, California. They were formed out of the dissolution of several other bands including Farewell Unknown, Ghost Runner on Third and Atherton. Jonny Craig and Sean O’Sullivan joined in 2005 and early 2006 to complete the line-up.They self-released their first EP, “Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean,” during the summer of 2006. Shortly afterwards, they were approached and then signed by Rise Records and the EP was re-released with the Rise and Victory labels on November 14th, 2006. Their full-length CD, titled “Downtown Battle Mountain,” came out on May 15th.
Bad Omens exceed boundaries on their self-titled full-length debut for Sumerian Records. It’s something of a mission statement for the Los Angeles-based quintet—Noah Sebastian [vocals], Nicholas Ryan [guitar], Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson [guitar], Vincent Riquier [bass], and Nick Folio [drums].
“We tried to spread awareness about being open-minded when it comes to heavy music,” exclaims Noah. “We wanted to go beyond the realm of heavy and incorporate everything from industrial to soundtrack-style moments.”
It’s a goal that Noah’s possessed since first writing for what would become Bad Omens in 2013. The Richmond, VA native logged time in a prominent local band, but he wanted to focus on his own artistic vision. He wrote and recorded a handful of solo songs without mentioning a word to anybody. When it came time to recruit other players, he linked up with old friend Nicholas. He added another buddy Vincent who introduced him to “Jolly”—all the way in Sweden. Nick joined last after submitting a cover online.
“The band started as me and two of my close friends and two other guys I’d never even met outside of FaceTime or Skype,” he smiles. “This music just spoke to everyone, and we felt a bond.”
It also spoke to Sumerian Records who offered Bad Omens a deal in 2015 based off the strength of the demos and songwriting. The guys spent months rehearsing in Nick’s basement before hitting the studio with Will Putney [Upon A Burning Body, The Amity Affliction, Body Count] to record the album.
“We chose Will because he specializes in a more raw sound,” Noah goes on. “It’s not over-produced. It’s real.”
Early 2016 saw the group unveil the single “The Worst In Me.” With its jagged riffs, sweeping harmonies, and towering chorus, the track immediately set the internet ablaze, racking up over 860,000 views on YouTube in less than a month.
“For me personally, it’s about a very intense and unhealthy relationship I was in, but we wrote it in a format that’s universal to all bad habits,” he says. “More specifically, it’s something you can’t let go of even though it’s not good for you—whether it’s a relationship, a drug problem, or terrible situation. You’re addicted.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the record concludes with the sprawling epic “The Fountain.” Tempering an industrialized hum and sweeping soundscapes punctuated by flutes and booming war drums, Alternative Press debuted the cinematic music video.
“We watched The Fountain with Hugh Jackman while we were recording,” he goes on. “It’s a sci-fi thriller romance with an insane plot and 3 different universes. The romantic aspect resonated with me. It’s unique for us and metal at large, because we’re using a lot of atypical instruments.”
Over the past year, Bad Omens has amassed a diehard following, delivering live alongside everyone from Born of Osiris and After the Burial to Veil of Maya, Upon a Burning Body, and Erra. Now, they’re ready to break more ground.
“I want people to feel inspired the way I do when I listen to music, because I’m listening all day,” Noah leaves off. “I want to share that inspiration to do something different.”
You hear it again and again.
When one door closes, another one opens. However, it‟s true – especially in the case of Sick Puppies. Weathering and persevering through potentially life-changing events, the gold-selling, chart-topping Los Angeles-based and Australian-bred hard rock outfit knew one thing.
They were going to make more music as Sick Puppies.
“There was no question” affirms Emma. “We had no doubt that we wanted to continue. Mark and I got together and basically said, „first and foremost, we love music. We love this band and our fans, and we have put so much into it, and we are not done and want to take it further.‟ In order to do that, we needed to find the right member.”
Instead, the “right member” found them. With stints in several bands under his belt, Texas-born singer and guitarist Bryan Scott reached out to Emma via Facebook within days of the announcement. He sent her a video of himself performing, and she swiftly replied.
“Both Mark and I knew he was the guy right away – he was cool and he sounded great. It was a natural progression. We were totally on to something” said Emma “Something just overwhelmed me,” admits Bryan. “I had a feeling that I needed to reach out. They needed a singer and guitarist and that‟s what I am. I had always loved their music and as soon as I saw the post, I went home and immediately sent Emma a message. We clicked right off the bat. Music is in their blood – it‟s who they are. They live and breathe it every day. I‟m the same way.”
Following a first dinner together at a Los Angeles burger spot, they hit the rehearsal studio together and began jamming. After nailing numerous favorites from the Sick Puppies catalog, they started writing new material over the next several months.
2013‟s Connect saw the band embrace a more experimental side.
“On the last album, a lot of ideas came from many different places, but our core is rock and that is what we love!” Mark says on this new album, we‟re giving fans what they want, that classic Sick Puppies sound.”
“I think fans will enjoy the resurgence of the heaviness,” smiles Emma. “We love that, so we went all the way with it.”
The group teamed up with producer and songwriter Mark Holman [Three Days Grace, Red, Shinedown, Halestorm, The Struts], to start working on their fourth full-length album. Recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles during 2015, the new music reflects the group‟s, incendiary interplay between Emma, Bryan & Mark.
“We were actually supposed to work with Mark Holman before, but it never materialized for whatever reason,” Emma continues. “It was the right moment in time, and he was the perfect producer to bring out the emotion in these songs.”
Locked and loaded with a muscular riff and booming percussion, “Stick To Your Guns” the band‟s first single announces the band‟s return with a literal bang. Bryan‟s vocals careen from hypnotic to heavy as an arena-size refrain takes hold.
“You have to push regardless of what anyone tells you,” he says. “This was a big thing for us. You can pray, hope, or wish for something to happen, but at the end of the day, you have to “stick to your guns”, go out there, and believe. The song is meant to em- power.”
Then, there‟s the epic “Where Do I Begin,” which spotlights Emma and Bryan‟s impressive harmonies in the chorus. For lyrical inspiration, the musicians actually turned to the diehard collective Sick Puppies World Crew.
“We looked on their Facebook and read everything,” Emma recalls. “We saw that everyone shared a lot in common, and it was quite touching. We grabbed a few descriptive words and came across this theme. A lot of people out there feel like they‟re missing out. They hear things like, „You can do it when you‟re ready.‟ I think, „What‟s ready?‟ If someone‟s going to wait to be ready, they might wait their whole lives. It‟s about struggling with that and making a move.”
With its gnashing chant and pummeling groove “Let Me Live” introduced the album during the first teaser video—which arrived to palpable audience fervor. Meanwhile, “Walls” sees Emma‟s vocals take center stage with gorgeously haunting delivery.
“It describes the painful feelings that come when a friend, family member, or someone you‟re very close to changes, disappoints, disappears, or drifts away,” she sighs. “It‟s just a snapshot of what I was feeling at that point in time.”
That kind of honesty has solidified a bond between the Sick Puppies and their fans since day one. To date, their breakout second full-length Tri-Polar has sold more than 500K albums, yielding 2 million single sales including the gold-certified “You‟re Going Down” as well as rock smashes “Maybe” “Riptide,” and “Odd One.”
“All The Same” the band‟s first hit single from their debut album, “Dressed Up As Life” became the soundtrack for the viral video “Free Hugs” campaign racking up tens of mil- lions of online views and saw them appear on Oprah, 60 Minutes, CNN, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show.
2013‟s Connect earned the band its highest Billboard Top 200 debut at #17 and yielded two top 10 singles at rock radio peaking at #2. Along the way, the trio played alongside the world‟s biggest bands from Muse, The Killers, Deftones, Evanescence, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Incubus to Tool.
Now, their message is more powerful than ever.
“When people hear this, I want them to take away a feeling of new life, new passion, and new excitement from this band,” Emma leaves off. “Mark and I love what we do. We were going to forge ahead no matter what. We found the perfect guy, and we‟re excited about this next chapter.”
FROM ASHES TO NEW
Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one of a hundred similar American towns; in fact, there are places just like it all over the world: post-industrial but still largely working class, and generally offering bleak prospects for the kids who grow up there. Suburban boredom, broken families, substance abuse, limited opportunity – this is an environment in which authentic, compelling creativity can thrive, if it’s accompanied by a burning desire, unstoppable drive, and complete lack of any backup plan. There have always been powerful voices that rise above the din of mediocrity and monotony. The voice of From Ashes to New founder and frontman Matt Brandyberry is one of those that is forcing itself to be heard.
Matt’s lifelong interest in music progressed along a wide-ranging path: he was ardent hip-hop fan who wrote rhymes while in junior high, then learned piano and guitar. He pursued music with a passion, ignoring warnings from naysayers around him who shook their fingers in disapproval, asserting that he was doomed to fail and would never amount to anything.
His early musical efforts were straight-up rap, and he couldn’t get anything happening with it. “People would say, ‘You aren’t a rapper. You are white. Just quit. Just get a real job.’ And I eventually thought I would be that regular 9 to 5 guy.”
To make matters worse, Matt was making bad choices. “Most of what I have done has been a failure,” he admits with an unsettling candor. “Things I fell into. Things I believed. I was pretty damn good at baseball, but I made bad choices. I ruined it. I fell into a bad crowd, getting in trouble, and partying too much. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing instead of following what could have been a career choice.”
Matt found a steady job as a cable TV installer, and had to relegate writing and performing to his off hours and weekends. Rap gave way to joining local rock bands, but his creative contributions ended up being frustratingly limited.
He was making good money doing the 9 to 5, but he didn’t have an outlet for the powerful music he was starting to hear in his head, and the voices of people who discouraged him grew louder and almost caused Matt to lose his focus.
This roadblock seemed insurmountable. Matt realized that he himself possessed the power to overcome the negativity and spitefulness he felt around him. Confidence was something that was totally under his control. An internal voice told him to press forward with his own creativity.
By pushing past the negativity with From Ashes to New, a rock band with a point of view, Matt found his voice, performing powerful songs that speak of redemption, liberation, and personal salvation.
Matt used money from a workers compensation settlement to begin the FATN journey. At the time, it seemed like yet another questionable choice. Investing his life savings into what amounted to an underground studio-only project, Matt did so in order to generate the quality recordings which eventually got the band some attention.
Negativity threatened to derail From Ashes To New’s dreams once again when several band members jumped ship after the band signed to Better Noise Records. But this became another opportunity, as the band evolved a tighter unit, most recently adding guitarist Lance Dowdle, formerly of hard rock band Emphatic, who adds his own passion and energy. “The current lineup reflects the true spirit of the band,” Matt says, “and we can’t wait to play for fans all over the world”
“Through It All,” the band’s breakthrough first single, has launched their sound onto the radio and created multiple touring opportunities. Matt recounts, “There’s always someone involved in our lives that in the end seems to change us. A friend, a family member, a significant other, sometimes we’re left to wonder if it was for better or for worse. Often times we don’t know what we have until it is gone.”
“Lost And Alone is a song about feeling lost and hopeless in today’s society. No matter how many times it feels like we have something to hold onto, that something always seems to find a way to escape us. It paints the picture of the bitter reality that we have to take matters into our own hands and not rely on the world to save us,” Matt explains.
Ultimately, From Ashes to New’s message is true to life, raw, and genuine. Their music is a testament to positive inspiration for the people of the world that they, too, can take risks and not settle into an expected life of mediocrity.
“We are only regular if we make ourselves regular. We are what we tell ourselves we are,” Matt says. “Some of our fans tell us they feel things are hopeless and I tell them, ‘You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can.’”
Checking in at six feet one inches and over 350 pounds, not to mention covered in tattoos, it’s impossible to ignore Jason “Jelly Roll” DeFord in a room. And that’s before his booming country-twanged voice enters the conversation. “I’m just a regular fat piece of white trash with some real people that relate,” he loudly explains with a wide grin, sending everyone else within earshot into riotous laughter. For the 27-year-old Jelly, a nickname he picked up from his mother and kept to honor an incarcerated friend, humor has always been a way to cope with the struggle he would go through in life. Growing up in the rougher areas of Nashville, TN, particularly the Southside city known as Antioch, Jelly got an early taste for street life and fast cash. “I’ve always joked that Antioch is the cultural melting pot the government uses to test how different ethnicities live together in a lower and middle class area,” He laughs referring to the city’s racially diverse, albeit economically bleak make up.Captivated by the gritty rhymes of local legends such as Pistol, Quanie Cash, Haystak, and Kool Daddy Fresh, it wasn’t long before the music would mirror Jelly Roll’s personal life. Catching his first case at age 14, Jelly would endure an ongoing cycle of incarceration until 2009 which would include intent to distribute cocaine charges and multiple probation violations.Continuing to soak up the sounds from southern artists such as UGK, 8ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Chamillionare and Paul Wall, it was during these particularly dark times that Jelly would turn to crafting his own rhymes as a therapeutic means to deal with his trials and tribulations: “My music is all based on emotions and stories from my life as well as people around me. I want to convey to people the power of faith and perseverance and I hope that it helps them to find a light in whatever darkness they may be going through in there life.” In the summer of 2010, Jelly Roll’s “Pop Another Pill” collaboration with Memphis luminary Lil Wyte would go on to garner over 1 million YouTube views. This viral sensation lead to the SNO group album Year-Round released on Hypnotized Minds in April 2011, a project executive-produced by Oscar winners DJ Paul and Juicy J. Jelly continued his successful 2011 campaign by releasing Gambling On A Whiteboy 4 during the summer and combining his talents with Haystak for the successful Strictly Business joint-album in November. His unique combination of introspection, melody, and punchlines has struck a chord with an ever-growing nationwide fan base and continues to impress. In between new projects, Jelly still finds time to volunteer at and provide financial backing for the local SuCO Boxing & MMA gym to help provide disadvantaged youth with a place to take part in positive activities. “My ultimate goal is to touch and reach people and have a voice of influence with the youth of today, he reveals. “I know that sounds like the opposite of what I’m aiming for by the content of some of my bigger songs, but the real purpose will shine through in the end. Helping people and life in general is a marathon, not a 40-yard-dash.” Spoken like someone who has truly been through the fire, its evident Jelly Roll is on a path to even greater acclaim- and that means a greater change for the world.
For centuries, authors, painters, poets, and filmmakers have sought out the edges of consciousness. Often equally euphoric and nightmarish, the psyche’s outer limits transform into a powerful, albeit fickle muse. While writing their second full-length album Too Far Gone [Rise Records], Cane Hill pushed those limits psychologically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, coming back from the precipice with ten unforgettable stories masquerading as hook-heavy metallic swamp grunge.
A year of insane experiences and a handful of mind-altering substances later, the Louisiana quartet—Elijah Witt [vocals], James Barnett [guitar], Ryan Henriquez [bass], and Devin Clark [drums]—emerge with a dark, disruptive, defiant, and definitive body of work.
This era would also be a breakout moment for the band. An orgy of off-time riffing, provocatively ponderous lyricism, and delightfully smutty recklessness, their full-length debut Smile quietly instigated a movement. In addition to acclaim from Metal Hammer and New Noise Magazine, Alternative Press proclaimed it among “The Best Debut Albums of 2016” and “5 New Albums from Hardcore and Metalcore Bands That Aren’t Afraid to Make a Statement.” In under a year, total Spotify streams for Smile surpassed 2 million as the band averages 70K monthly listeners on the platform.
Moreover, their versatile style enabled them to fit in comfortably on the Warped Tour and Rock On the Range as well as on the road with legends such as Superjoint Ritual. It built upon the momentum established by 2015’s self-titled EP, which earned them nods for “Best New Band” at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, “Best International Newcomer” at the KERRANG! Awards, and “Best Underground Band” at the Alternative Press Music Awards.
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.
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.”
It has been quite a journey for ISLANDER, who, in just over a year, have gone from obscurity to a band in constant radio rotation. Fueled with a combination of emotionally capturing songs and audience grabbing live shows, ISLANDER continue to lead at the forefront of their peers.
ISLANDER have stayed busy, constantly touring with artists such as Korn, Stone Sour, Papa Roach, P.O.D., Suicide Silence, Seether, Babymetal, Yelawolf, Nothing More and many others. Catch their energetic live show in a city near you!
“These guys just might be the new force in heavy rock”
– Alternative Press
“New school band with old school soul and passion. Keep your eyes and ears open for these guys!” – Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D
“Creativity gets an A+.” – H.R. of BAD BRAINS
Formed in the final weeks of 2012, Blacktop Mojo began cutting their teeth in the numerous country venues that Texas has to offer, but the guys never quite felt like they belonged. With each song they wrote, the vocals got less twangy and the sound from the amps became more gravelly and distorted until the guys had found their own unique blend of heavy southern rock. Through touring, the band has played with many national acts such as Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar, Aaron Lewis, Daryl “DMC” McDaniels, Candlebox, Drowning Pool, Puddle Of Mudd, Smile Empty Soul, Audiotopsy, and Whiskey Myers.
After running the highways for two years in support of their debut album, I Am (2014), in July of this year the band loaded their gear in the van and made a trip to Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville, as well as FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL to make their sophomore effort entitled, Burn the Ships. In addition to the producer of the band’s first record, Philip Mosley, the band brought in co-producer, Jimmy Johnson of the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound studios as well as his long-time engineer, Steve Melton (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger) to bring a seasoned sonic quality to their brand of raw, grungy rock.
The band caught the public eye in April of 2016 when they released a music video for their cover of Aerosmith’s 1973 classic hit “Dream On” which has since gone viral with over 1.4 million views on YouTube.
Burn The Ships was released on March 10th of 2017 garnering critical acclaim in both US and European press outlets including Loudwire, Revolver Magazine, Outburn Magazine, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and many more. Team Rock’s Classic Rock Magazine, is quoted as saying “Blacktop Mojo might just be America’s next big rock band.”
Other notable highlights from 2017 include winning a contest to open for Bon Jovi at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX and being invited to SXSW by Gibson Guitars to appear on Sammy Hagar’s “Rock and Roll Road Trip” TV show on AXS. The band performed the Montrose classic “Rock Candy” with Sammy Hagar and Daryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC for the show. The band’s single “Where The Wind Blows” was Top 40 on the Active Rock Charts.
It’s a genuine rock ‘n’ roll story.
The Dose—Indio Downey [vocals, guitar] and Ralph Alexander [drums,bass]—realized their destiny as a duo by accident after a gig in their native Los Angeles, CA. The boys had a gig scheduled as a trio, but through unforeseen circumstances, Indio and Ralph found themselves forced to take the stage as a two-piece. However, everything clicked. They spent the next year uncovering the ingredients of a singular style steeped in rock bombast, alternative poetry, blues rawness, and progressively metallic intricacy. It’s as if the ghost of nineties Seattle started to finally (and thankfully) possess the Spotify era…
Living together and jamming daily, the band tirelessly pushed to bring this vision into focus. Inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Tame Impala, and The Sword, The Dose unlocked a robust signature sound without adding any other members, resorting to digital playback, or employing backing tracks.
“We want to be the biggest-sounding two-piece we can be,” affirms Ralph. “I play bass synth pedals with my foot while I’m drumming. In Rush, Geddy Lee would use the same pedals when he’d switch to keyboards. We didn’t want to sacrifice an end of the spectrum.”
During the summer of 2015, Indio and Ralph traded Southern California for Atlanta, GA. In between visiting members of Indio’s family, they took an opportunity to hole up in a rehearsal space for a month, honing the delivery and writing music. Armed with a bath of ideas, they spent seven days in Nashville, TN recording what would become their 2016 self-titled debut EP.
Recorded and self-produced at Welcome To 1979 and Jack White’s Third Man Records, muscular riffs, double-fisted drumming, and entrancing vocals drive these six songs. The first single “Cold Hands” builds with airy guitar and a breathy hook that’s chillingly catchy.
“Musically, that one materialized pretty quickly,” says Indio. “The lyrics show the way my girl makes me feel. When you’re in love with someone, it’s hard to be apart from them. When you see them again, everything is better.”
Tracked live at Third Man, “Truth Lies Inside” slithers between a swaggering drum strut punctuated by a bluesy punch and howling refrain. It stands out as a cathartic piece for the frontman, examining his sobriety and the journey to find happiness within rather than through drugs or sex.
Elsewhere on the EP, The Dose swing from the six-string sidewinder wallop of “Glory” to the blissful distortion of seven-minute instrumental odyssey “Space Trader.” They tap into a raw intimacy on the acoustic hum of the lovelorn “Adore,” which happened in just one take.
“It’s the first song I wrote after getting clean,” Indio goes on. “It’s accompanied me through my relationship with my girlfriend and the band’s journey. It’s a special one.”
Just like the music, the name encompasses multiple dimensions.
“It’s a play on words,” explains Ralph. “In Spanish, ‘Dos’ means two. At the same time, you’re getting a dose of our brand of rock ‘n’ roll.”
“We want people to get excited about this kind of music again,” concludes Indio.
The Dose could be the remedy rock ‘n’ roll needs.
AWAKE AT LAST
With anger, fear and hatred running riot through news media and the obsession with status in danger of drowning out the meaningfulness in everyday life, Awake At Last are taking a stand for positivity and hope. “I think that we tell a very unique story and our positive spiritual theme can bring a lot of value to the lives of those who listen to us,” states vocalist Vincent Torres. “There is a lot of garbage in the music industry right now as far as the kinds of themes that are pretty heavily pushed – a lot of ‘party here’, ‘hook up there’, ‘buy this because it’s status’ – but we want to elevate and inspire the people who believe in us. We want to be living proof that if you believe in something enough, and work towards it through all the obstacles, you can achieve anything.” With their six-track mini album, Life/Death/Rebirth, the unsigned quintet have come into their own, and pushed things to the next level. Revolving around Torres’ thoughtful and relatable lyrics, it has been described by Alternative Press’ Taylor Markarian as “dark pop, hard rock, and post-hardcore com[ing] together for a powerful and entirely unique sound”, and it is unquestionably the work of a dynamic and engaging young band who want to make a difference.
Awake At Last were not born of any scene, in part because their native Dover, Delaware lacks anything cohesive. Still, the individual members – Torres, guitarists Imran Xhelili and Eric Blackway, bassist/vocalist Tyler Greene and drummer Jon Finney – cut their teeth in the few local acts in the area before forming the band in 2014. “Being eager to get out onto the road, we were able to start building up a dedicated following with our hard work ethic from the beginning, as we continued to develop the music and the brand,” says Xhelili. From their inception, they knew that if they were really going to connect with people and encourage them to follow the band they needed to offer something more: inspiration, hope, and purpose. “The name Awake At Last represents the spiritual awakening we felt as individuals when we realized that music could be both a catharsis, and a way of life,” Torres explains. “When we decided this is what we wanted to do, no matter what, it was reminiscent of ‘waking up’ and finally realizing what kind of project our art was going to be.”
2014’s King Of The World EP was the first introduction to many who have since become ardent followers. A concept record that pushed the themes of “overcoming the obstacles and fears that tend to hold us back”, it struck a chord with those who found their way to their shows or their social media, and the band toured off the back of this for several years. Word of mouth soon spread about their high energy live show with a theatrical flair – the quintet giving 100% of themselves whether playing to a sold out room or half a dozen people, always taking the time to be available to those who showed up afterward. “We pride ourselves on being able to connect with fans every night and hear their stories,” says Xhelili. “That’s always been a mantra of the band: to meet fans one by one, and maintain those relationships and have it be known that the fans always come first.” Still, like any band without the backing of a label, touring independently can be tough, but regardless of the low points faced at times Torres acknowledges that nothing worth having comes easy, and they “always try and use that to power our music and get through these periods.”
In 2017, everything stepped up a gear for Awake At Last. Named as one of Twelve Bands You Need To Know in Alternative Press, playing the main stage of Warped Tour when it hit Columbia, Maryland, a string of dates with Hawthorne Heights and shows with the likes of Marina City, A Killer’s Confession, The Funeral Portrait and Leav/e/arth, the band started to make serious waves, and in July they dropped Life/Death/Rebirth. Demonstrating a profound evolution from the sound showcased on King Of The World, it draws from a much wider range of influences and is a much heavier and intense collection, without compromising the more uplifting qualities of their music. The central concept of the record is embodied by the title, Torres stating that with this core theme in place the record took on a life of its own. “I knew I wanted to tell a story about the afterlife. Each of the songs is a representation of myself, which became these experiences that shaped the fictional afterlife of the character in the story of Life/Death/Rebirth. They touch on everything from crippling anxiety and fear, to loving and losing, and to finally seeing the bigger picture and learning some of the most important lessons I may ever learn in my life: that it’s not about me. It’s about the tapestry our band is a part of, and the lives of the people we get to experience this with.”
With the help of Andrew Baylis, who has handled production for bands including Sylar and Forget Tomorrow, the songs were brought vividly to life in the studio. “Andrew has a great feel for both rhythm and melody, giving more of an edge to our rock sound and allowing us to be more creative and open to where the music was going,” enthuses Xhelili. Dropped thirteen months after it was tracked, there was a great sense of release when it debuted in July 2017, landing on the Billboard’s New Artist and Current Hard Music charts. The addition of standout track “Purgatorium” to Spotify’s Official Hard Rock playlist has seen it rack up substantial plays, and the their following is continuing to grow. The band also finished the year on a high, topping Sirius XM’s Octane TestDrive Poll against stiff opposition after garnering almost 3000 votes, further demonstrating the passionate support they receive from their fans. This has only served to make Awake At Last even more determined to reach more and more people while embracing their growth, both personally and as musicians.“We want to see all the beautiful, amazing people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and be a symbol they can all be proud of and stand behind,” Torres adds. “We want to bring everyone together, and we can’t wait to bring more music to them and connect with them even more.”
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.
There’s an unwavering conviction running through Stone Broken’s Spinefarm Records debut, Ain’t Always Easy; the notion of taking a leap of faith in order to grab control of one’s own destiny, seizing precious moments and living your very best life, with no apologies or regrets. It’s a philosophy close to the heart of Stone Broken frontman Rich Moss, and a credo which fuels the band’s desire to take on the world with their music.
At the beginning of the decade, Moss had abandoned his life-long dream of becoming a professional musician, following the tragic death of a former bandmate who suffered from alcohol addiction. Years spent poring over guitar magazines, practising in his bedroom and playing gigs around the Black Country and the West Midlands were filed away as memories, as Wolverhampton-born Moss built a successful career as an analyst.
Yet the idea that there must be more to life persisted. In 2013, after four years away from music, he formed Stone Broken with guitarist Chris Davis, bassist Kieron Conroy and long-time musical soulmate Robyn Haycock on drums – the four of them determined and willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of their dreams.
“The very first song I wrote for this band is called ‘This Life’ and it’s about taking what you’re good at and using it as a vehicle to move forward, because you only have one shot at life,” says Moss. “We all came into this band a lot more mature and with a greater understanding of the industry, and we agreed between us there should be no half-measures.”
The group’s first declaration of intent came with 2014’s self-financed, self-released EP, The Crow Flies, a calling card largely intended to secure local gigs. But it was the release, in January 2016, of debut album All In Time which truly amplified the word-of-mouth buzz around the band from a whisper to a scream. With Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock picking up on storming opening track ‘Not Your Enemy’, the anthemic ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Stay All Night’, plus the bruised and beautiful ‘Wait For You’, an ever-expanding audience was alerted to the fact that here was an emerging British outfit with the riffs, the choruses and songwriting smarts to make its mark on the global stage.
“We never conceived anything to fit into a scene,” continues Rich, “we just wrote the kind of music we listen to. We saw bands such as Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm and Alter Bridge as our peers. People understand that we’re here because we love what we do.”
In early 2017, following a lengthy European tour, the musicians entered Long Wave Recording Studios in Cardiff to work once again with All In Time producer Romesh Dodangoda (Motörhead, Bring Me The Horizon,Twin Atlantic) on their second album. The result, the 11 track Ain’t Always Easy, is compelling proof that the Walsall quartet are ready to stand toe-to-toe with the biggest names on the contemporary hard rock scene.
Loaded with state-of-the-art arena-friendly anthems, Ain’t Always Easy is one of the most assured British rock albums of recent times. From stirring opener and first single ‘Worth Fighting For’ through to the blissful ‘The Only Thing I Need’, this is an absorbing, deeply heartfelt collection which marries important issues, both personal and pressing, to instantly accessible, granite-hard hard rock.
One might trace a path from ‘Other Side Of Me’ through ‘Doesn’t Matter’ and on to ‘I Believe’ to see an unfolding triptych tracing Moss’ journey from bedroom dreamer through to rock-star-in-waiting, the frustrations of working nine to five poured into punchy, inspirational lyrics yearning for a shot at the big stages.
“Honestly, you can be anything you wanna be,” sings Moss on ‘I Believe’. “I’ve got a feeling you’re gonna have the time of your life.”
“‘I Believe’ isn’t a note to self as such,” Moss reflects, “but it’s related to my relationship with music over the years. As a teenager, I’d flick through guitar magazines and see these rock stars and think, ‘I want to do that’, and at this point in my life it’s me telling myself and the band that we need that same self-belief to move to bigger stages.”
Elsewhere, the album deals with the pain of addiction (‘Let Me See It All’, ‘Just A Memory’), loss (‘Anyone’), homesickness (the beautifully affecting ‘Home’) and, in the most striking, stark terms – with lyrics such as “I hear her screaming from the bedroom, it’s the same thing I heard last night…” – domestic abuse (‘Heartbeat Away’), a subject Moss admits is painfully close to home.
“It comes from experiences that I’ve seen personally, so it’s a heartfelt song, about the impact on the person and those around them,” he states. “With ‘This Life’, we’d get a lot of people telling us that it got them through a rough patch, and I’m hoping that ‘Heartbeat Away’ might offer some strength and support to anyone similarly affected.”
Set for release via Spinefarm Records on March 2nd 2018, Ain’t Always Easy promises to place Stone Broken at the forefront of an emboldened, increasingly fertile British rock scene… and beyond.
“Who doesn’t like big, driving riffs and massive choruses?” asks Spinefarm’s Head Of A&R Dante Bonutto rhetorically. ”At last, a UK band with the sound and the attitude to make it possible for them to compete with rock’s elite.”
“The success of the first album took us by surprise, but we always wanted the follow-up to break down more barriers and get us to the next level where we can step up on a global scale,” says Moss. “We’ve already got fans in the US, and they tell us they can easily imagine us on the radio there. Every rock band dreams of success in America, but we feel we’re ready.”
“Among our fans – The Broken Army – there’s a massive buzz around everything we’re doing at the moment,” the vocalist/guitarist adds. “This is a really good time to be in this band, and now we just want everyone to hear exactly why.”
“Anticipation for the new album is high,” acknowledges Robyn Haycock, “especially given how high we set the bar with All The Time. But, as a band, I think we’ve pushed ourselves even harder this time. We’re so proud of this record, and so excited for what lies ahead.”
One life. One band. One vision. For Stone Broken, the time is now.
Formed in Nashville, TN by guitarist Tim Venerosa and drummer Matt Carter, True Villains is a no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll band with an electrifying stage presence. Together with lead vocalist Beau Lastavich and bassist Barry Conaway, Tim and Matt have turned True Villains into a fixture of Nashville’s rock scene, with performances at The Basement, The East Room, Mercy Lounge, and Dawhouse Saloon, among others. The band also has brought their signature rock to venues across the country, with stops in Indianapolis, IN, Saint Cloud, MN, Hunstville, AL, and Bowling Green, KY.
In October 2017, True villains released a debut EP, Cut Me Loose, which they recorded at Nashville’s own Welcome to 1979 recording studio. The band also opened for rising rock acts including Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown and The Fell, and were featured at several prominent Nashville events including the Music City Motorcycle Rally, Nashville Unsigned Series, the Nashville Masquerade “Certified,” and Whiskey Jam.
The Villains continue to bring their brand of energetic rock to audiences across the country, and are in the early stages of planning their debut album.
The Jacks stand by their claim, “We are not a rock band, we are a rock n’ roll band.” With a heavy influence from the British Invasion of the 1960s and 70s, The Jacks have developed a rare sound that is unruly, bold, and hard to be ignored – they won’t settle with blending into the scene. While not trying to fix what isn’t broken and pushing the boundaries for tomorrow, The Jacks consistently deliver fresh but timeless music.
From their live shows to their recording techniques, they keep integrity to who they are and how they believe their music should sound. The 4-piece doesn’t hide behind backing tracks or auto-tune, what you hear is what you get.
With their new single “Hello My Friend” and an EP release slated for March 2018, The Jacks are “holstering loads of promise, so it’s time you gave them a listen, have the advantage of being able to shout ‘I heard ’em before they got famous’ when they crack the big time, and indulge in some great music.” (One Stop Record Shop).
THE BRETON SOUND
The Breton Sound is what you get when you aggressively smash together musicians from opposite ends of the rock spectrum. Classic rock, ‘90s alt pop, metal, prog rock, punk, ska, and indie backgrounds emerge from the established musicianship of Jonathan Pretus (vocals/guitar), Stephen Turner (lead guitar), John Bourgeois (drums), and Joe Bourgeois (bass). Stephen met Jonathan at LSU, where he frequently mocked Jonathan’s Weezer cover band. A bromance began to blossom, and later fully forged with the addition of the Bourgeois twins in 2014.
Since then, with the help of their sets at New Orleans’ Jazz & Hertiage and Voodoo Music Festivals, The Breton Sound has garnered a stunning reputation for their live shows. Filled with sing-alongs, climbing up speaker stacks, jumping into the crowd, and universal irreverence, their explosive energy has always been the core of The Breton Sound. Their relentless live shows around the South led the NOLA boys to winning the Louisiana Music Prize last year.
Now The Breton Sound are working on an EP to follow their new single “Why Are You Still Here?” recorded in 1920’s church-turned-recording facility, Esplanade Studios (Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, The Roots). Focusing in on lingering exes, the track is a classic break up song. Romances come and go, but some relationships are just inescapable. As Pretus describes it, “there’s always some kind of trigger reminding you of that person; a song, a movie, a place…some kind of memory. ‘Why Are You Still Here?’ is about the frustration you’re met with when desperately trying to shake off that ghost.”
After The Breton Sound finish their EP, their sights are set on being the biggest band in the world. Until then, the bromance and energetic live shows will continue. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Stephen has mildly warmed to Weezer.