SYSTEM OF A DOWN
System Of A Down is comprised of vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan.
In its infancy, the band released a series of demos which caught the attention of producer Rick Rubin. Rubin ultimately signed the band to his label, American Recordings.
Their debut album, System Of A Down was released and distributed by American/ Columbia Records in 1998. SOAD’s second album, Toxicity debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Canadian Album Charts. Toxicity has reached multi-platinum certification with over 12 million copies sold worldwide.
In 2005 SOAD released both Mezmerize and Hypnotize in two installments as a dual album in a single year. Both releases received critical acclaim. Mezmerize and Hypnotize both debuted at #1 on Billboard Top 200 and at #1 on charts in several other countries. SOAD is one of three bands to achieve such status with two #1 albums in the same calendar year. “B.Y.O.B.” (Bring Your Own Bombs) was the first single released from Mezmerize and won the band a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Alice In Chains
Novelist Henry Miller once wrote, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” Since their formation in 1991, iconic multiplatinum Los Angeles rock band Incubus have consciously and continually shifted their perspective with each subsequent album, preserving the spirit that initially drove them and simultaneously challenging themselves as artists and human beings. Their eighth full-length, the aptly titled 8 [Island Records], proudly upholds that tradition for the quintet—Brandon Boyd [vocals], Mike Einziger [guitar, piano, backing vocals], José Pasillas II [drums], Chris Kilmore [turntables, keyboards], and Ben Kenney [bass].
“As a band, we’re collectively interested in challenging ourselves and hopefully finding new, innovative ways of writing music,” asserts Boyd. “That ethos has kept things interesting for us.”
It’s also kept things interesting for listeners everywhere. By 2017, the band’s sales exceeded 23 million worldwide, while landing four Top 5 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and one #1 album. They’ve graced the stages of festivals everywhere from Lollapalooza and Air + Style to Download Festival and Pinkpop in addition to touring alongside the likes of Linkin Park, OutKast, Moby, Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, and many more. After the release of 2015’s Trust Fall (Side A) EP and a packed summer amphitheater tour with Deftones, the boys once again treaded uncharted territory. They collaborated with a dynamic talent behind the board as 8 would be co-produced and mixed by Skrillex [Justin Bieber, A$AP Rocky, Lady Gaga]. In January 2016, Boyd and Einziger holed up in a Venice Beach shack, building “Much of the musical framework in a weird man cave,” laughs Boyd.
By fall, the five musicians regrouped to flesh out ideas, recording at Jim Henson Studios and at Einziger’s personal studio. As the vision came into focus during early 2017, Incubus added another level by enlisting the perspective of longtime friend Skrillex for co-production and mixing. Einziger had spent the past few years, exponentially expanding his personal musical palette. Not only did he oversee production for The Internet’s Feel Good and produce three songs for Tyler, The Creator’s chart-topping “Cherry Bomb,” but he also co-wrote Avicii’s six-times platinum smash “Wake Me Up” and served as musical director and performer for a much talked-about 2016 GRAMMY® Awards performance of “Where Are Ü Now” by Skrillex, Diplo, and Justin Bieber. After lunch one day, Einziger played Skrillex some mixes, and “a whole new world opened up” as the producer added his magic to 8.
“It evolved organically out of my friendship with Skrillex,” Einziger elaborates. “Incubus is all about friendship. We transferred the synergy of working together into what the band was doing. As we put the final touches on everything, Skrillex brought another level to the album.”
As a result, the eleven tracks comprising 8 assemble a mosaic reflective of the band’s current mindset. Unease translates to unpredictable guitar riffs that blur the lines between time signatures as cosmic rhythmic transmissions orbit around an epicenter of combustible emotion. Each lyric encodes a parable or what might be a hidden message. The first single “Nimble Bastard” leapfrogs from a rattling guitar snap into an anthemic refrain. “Loneliest” echoes with an existential rumination on solitude over an airy beat and hypnotic guitars. “Undefeated” struts along via a bombastic stomp before culminating on an uplifting chant, while the spacey “Familiar Faces” instantly enchants.
The soothing instrumental soundscape of “Make No Sound In The Digital Forest” illuminates their cinematic side with delicate chimes, simmering drums, and warbling tones. A dial-up modem signals the explosion of “Love In A Time of Surveillance” as the one-two punch of “No Fun” and “Throw Out The Map” tap into a tsunami of distortion and punk-y freedom. “Glitterbomb” represents the glorious push-and-pull of 8, teetering between heavenly harmony and a dramatic twinge.
8 arrives at a significant milestone for Incubus—releasing exactly 20 years since their major label debut S.C.I.E.N.C.E. landed back in 1997. A little older, a lot wiser, quite tighter, but equally ready to challenge themselves and rock music at large, Incubus change their perspective once more in 2017.
“All the time, I hear from fans that our music was the backdrop of their first experience with love or important in getting them through a hard time,” says Einziger. “That’s the highest compliment.”
“When we finished 8, we were flooded with this wave of gratitude,” Boyd leaves off. “The fact that so many people are willing to come on this weird ride with us is really humbling. We’re filled with this sense of awe around it. We’re very happy to share this record with everyone, and we hope they like it.” — Rick Florino, March 2017
The heart of Boston beats within its streets. Those roads set the scene for timeless Academy Award-winning stories including The Departed, The Town and The Fighter as well as for triumphant, tear-filled championship victories by The Red Sox, The Bruins, and The Celtics. Grammy Award-nominated multi-platinum hard rock titans Godsmack preserve their connection to the streets of Boston on their sixth full-length album for Republic Records,1000hp.
Outlasting tides, trends, and a torrential industry climate since forming in 1995, the quartet—Sully Erna [vocals, guitar], Tony Rombola [guitar], Robbie Merrill [bass], and Shannon Larkin [drums]—paved the way for a generation of rock bands. Their last album, 2010’s The Oracle, rounded out a streak of three consecutive #1 debuts on
the Billboard Top 200, an accomplishment only shared by Van Halen, U2, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, and Linkin Park. Now, these four musicians leap forward without forgetting where they came from.
“On this record, we wanted to return to the roots of Boston and the streets of our hometown,” affirms Sully. “It was about going back to basics. You get a certain feeling seeing the city’s skyline or walking through Southie. I thought it was time to take it back to where we began. That’s the theme of this album.”
Robbie exclaims, “It reminded me of our first two records because we wrote, rehearsed, and recorded at home. It was like going back to those days. It was so cold last winter that we had nothing else to do but stay in and write music. It felt great.”
“People in Boston have thick skin,” Shannon grins. “It’s not just the weather. They’re tough motherfuckers up there!”
In order to conjure that East Coast vibe, the boys built a new Godsmack Headquarters just thirty minutes north of town. They converted an old warehouse into a fully loaded recording studio complete with a control room and live stage room to record. Commencing the writing process individually, Tony, Shannon and Robbie composed demos down in Florida, while Sully wrote in Southern New Hampshire throughout 2013. Everybody regrouped at the new HQ in January 2014 though. With a wealth of ideas, the musicians found a fresh and fiery spark of inspiration.
“We all had our own batches of songs,” remembers Tony. “It shaped into a complete vision pretty quickly. We got right back into the groove.”
“The first half of this record is a new sound,” the singer elaborates. “It’s still Godsmack. It’s tough. It’s powerful, but it’s a little different than what we’ve done in the past because there’s a punk-y influence. It’s very current and vibrant. The second half is more traditional, and it’s meant for our hardcore fans. It’s a hybrid. We wanted to broaden our horizons and open up what this band can be.”
Given the success of 2010’s gold-selling and chart-topping The Oracle, Sully once again teamed up with Dave Fortman [Slipknot, Evanescence] to co-produce. Together, they capture a booming intensity and raw energy that’s equally anthemic and arena-ready.
“Dave gets truly great sounds,” Tony goes on. “We all trust him. He’s just an awesome guy to work with. He’s like having a fifth member because he can play guitar and drums too.”
“To work with him as a producer is always a pleasure”,says Shannon. He’s an amazing person. If he wasn’t a famous producer, he could be a comedian. He’s the guy that keeps us all laughing and comfortable in the studio.”
The first single and title track charges through the gates at full speed. Derived from a thrash-y riff and a walloping chorus, “1000hp” announces Godsmack’s return with a bang.
“I literally wrote that in one hour,” smiles Sully. “All of a sudden, it just came together. The lyrical content covers the history of Godsmack. It goes back to 1995 when we were nothing. We were playing in the empty clubs, and no one gave a shit. Once we took the stage, our whole life changed. It’s our history. It’s very alive.”
Shannon continues, “It’s a fresh new sound. The energy is almost punk rock, and I love that.”
At the same time, the aptly titled “Something Different” veers down a new path for Godsmack. It boasts another monstrous hook, but musically surprises at each turn. Sully admits, “We’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a real powerhouse, but it’s not metal or punk. It’s driving rock. It’s going to hit hard.”
Robbie explains, “It’s simple, strong, and impactful. It reminds me of classic rock, but Sully’s vocals and our styles make it Godsmack. I love playing that one for people. They smile out loud!”
Still, the band also seamlessly venture into psychedelic territory in the tradition of early epics such as “Voodoo” and “Spiral”. This time around, “Turning To Stone” freezes attention with its expansive melodies, lush instrumentation, and hauntingly hypnotic words. “It’s seductive and tribal,” the frontman adds. “That’s a big element of this band. It has been since day one.”
Tony agrees, “Shannon and I had put it together, and Sully dug it. It’s a new avenue for us. It’s heavy and tribal, but there’s some melody. It’s all about creating something that’s different but still sounds like Godsmack.”
An unbreakable spirit and diehard work ethic evocative of their hometown has also remained fuel for Godsmack. They fought hard to secure a place in music history since first smashing their way on to the scene in 1995. To date, they’ve notched a staggering six number one singles at mainstream rock radio, including “I Awake”, “Straight Out of Line”, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch”, and “I Stand Alone”. Moreover, they’ve enjoyed 20 Top 10 hits at the format—the most of any act since February 1999. Selling over 20 million records worldwide, Billboard named them “Rock Band of the Year” in 2001.In addition to selling out arenas around the globe, they’ve headlined all of rock’s premier festivals from Mayhem and UPROAR to Rock on the Range and more.
However, 1000hp sees Godsmack set to cruise even further. “I hope people think this album fucking rocks,” proclaims Shannon. “We wanted to make a high energy record. The coolest feeling I’ve had in this band is making 1000hp.”
Tony says, “We’re growing as a band, and we’re still getting better beyond holding our own. We’ve been doing this a long time, but every day we still work at improving and writing songs. We want to keep it going.”
“It’s solid,” adds Robbie. “It’s got integrity. In some places, we took a left turn, but this is who we are.”
“I want fans to enjoy it like they enjoyed the first couple of records,” concludes Sully. “I think this album will make them feel more at home like the first album did. It has that vibe. There are some new sounds and interesting things for sure to show our creative side. It’s old school Godsmack with a new kind of twist to it. Hopefully, they’ll feel like this band has never let them down and we’re here to stay.”
Shinedown have built their name on rock songs both brutal in power and epic in scope. Now, with their latest album, Shinedown (Brent Smith, Barry Kerch, Eric Bass, and Zach Myers) veer away from that densely layered sonic palette and take a more direct approach. Featuring lead single “Cut the Cord” — a blistering track that shot to #1 on Active Rock radio — Threat to Survival finds the multi-platinum-selling band achieving their most powerful sound ever and offering up their most important album to date.
As Smith explains, Shinedown’s approach on Threat to Survival had much to do with the emotionally raw material at the heart of the album. “When we started the writing process we realized the changes that had taken place over the past 2 years, our experiences, the relationships that had come and gone, the album really took on a life of its own,” says Smith. “It’s like the songs were saying to us, ‘The songs were so honest, it felt necessary to present them in the most straightforward way possible.”
In forming the emotional core of the album, Shinedown delved into many of the most thorny issues facing the band members in recent years, such as Smith’s navigating his role as a father. “There’s not any song that’s directly about my son, but as we were writing I was asking myself a lot of questions about what it means to be a good father,” he says. “It forced me to look at who I am as a person and what’s really important to me at this point in my life.” In both the writing process and in the final product, that unflinching self-examination proved sometimes devastating but ultimately life-affirming. “I always say that I write songs because it’s therapy, and that very much held true on the writing of this album,” Smith notes.
Throughout Threat to Survival, Shinedown explore matters of life and death and beauty and pain with a fierce energy and indomitable spirit. On “Cut the Cord” — a song that continues a record-setting streak in which each of the 19 singles released over Shinedown’s career has climbed to the upper regions of the radio charts — the band looks at the insidious nature of self-destruction and puts out a call for self-empowerment. “Some people might listen to ‘Cut the Cord’ and think it’s about drug addiction,” says Smith, pointing to one of the song’s most piercing lyrics (“’Cause agony breeds no reward for one more hit and one last score”). “But really it’s about anything that might wrap itself around you and keep you from becoming the person you truly want to be.” Produced by Shinedown’s own Eric Bass, “Cut the Cord” fuses Smith’s growling vocal work with thunderous drumming and lead-heavy guitar riffs, weaving in spooky, choirlike background vocals to thrilling effect.
Elsewhere on Threat to Survival, Shinedown instill their self-reflection with a brighter mood that’s often exhilarating in its intensity. On the piano-laced “How Did You Love,” for instance, Smith’s soaring vocals demand an exacting reassessment of how to go about building a more meaningful life. (“It’s not what you believe/Those prayers will make you bleed/But while you’re on your knees/How did you love?”). “That song’s about asking yourself about how you’ve dealt with difficult situations in your life, and whether you tried to give some love to the world or just allowed hate and negativity to consume you,” says Smith. “So the lyric is ‘How did you love?’, but really the question is ‘How did you live?’”
A bold statement of determination against all odds, “State of My Head” opens with an ethereal, dreamlike intro before powering forward as a groove-driven anthem (“The only way I’m leaving is dead/That’s the state of my head”). With its stomping rhythm and surging guitar work, “Outcast” is as a full-throttle celebration of unbridled confidence and daring manifesto of Shinedown’s dedication to constantly outdoing themselves as artists. And on “Black Cadillac,” Smith delivers a darkly charged but soulful epic that twists its funereal metaphor into a strikingly hopeful message. “For me ‘Black Cadillac’ is a warning to take inventory of who you are and realize that nobody owes you anything in this world,” says Smith. “It’s about looking around and noticing the things you’ve maybe taken for granted, and deciding to become something better than that before your time’s up.”
“If you’re going to make something that’s going to exist forever, sometimes you have to fight yourself to get out what you need to express,” says Smith. “You need to break down all the walls and get rid of whatever distractions that might be holding you back.”
Shinedown continually bring both staggering musicality and a powerful emotional complexity to their music. “There’s always been a certain level of positivity with Shinedown — that’s even where our name came from,” says Smith. “There’s a sense that everything that’s bad has a little bit of good to it, just like everything that’s good has a little bit of bad. The songs on this album address the reality that we’re all going to die at some point and that sometimes the willingness to survive is all you have. It’s about holding onto that sheer will to live, and getting through whatever might come your way because the legacy that you leave behind is what will carry you on to your next journey.”
311 was formed in 1990 in Omaha, Nebraska by singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut. The band now resides in Southern California.
311 mix rock, rap, reggae and funk into their own unique hybrid sound – and have developed a reputation as one of the most entertaining & dynamic live bands in the U.S.
311 recently released their 12th studio album, MOSAIC, on June 23 in advance of their 2017 Summer Tour (40 shows, June 22 – Aug 20 and Fall Tour, Oct 7 – Nov 4). The 17 song album debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, marking the band’s 10th consecutive Top 10 album.
The new album was released by BMG – and was produced by John Feldmann (Blink 182, Panic at the Disco,
The Used etc) and Scotch Ralston (who produced 311’s Transistor, Soundsystem & Stereolithic albums).
The band’s previous album, STEREOLITHIC, also debuted at #6 on the Top 200 Album Chart.
311 have released twelve studio albums, two greatest hits albums, two live albums, three DVD’s and a boxed-set – and have sold over 9 million copies in the U.S. Their last ten albums reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Sales Chart – and nine of their singles have reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Alternative Radio Chart (including three #1 singles Down, Love Song & Don’t Tread On Me – along with Amber, All Mixed Up, Come Original, Creatures For Awhile, Hey You and Sunset in July).
In celebration of 25 years as a band, 311 released the 311 ARCHIVE boxed-set in June 2015 – featuring 4 CD’s (81 tracks of B-sides, bonus tracks, pre-production recordings and demos from 1992-2014) plus a 60 page book of rare photos and memorabilia.
Summer Tour 2017 will be 311’s 18th consecutive summer headlining the US. 311’s celebratory live shows & incessant touring schedule have earned them a massive grassroots following nationwide. 311’s annual summer headlining run, Unity Tour, has become one of the most anticipated concerts of the summer. Support acts on previous 311 Unity Tours have included Sublime with Rome, The Offspring, Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid, Cypress Hill, The Roots, Matisyahu and Ziggy Marley.
311 Day & 311 Caribbean Cruise:
311 has also made a major splash with their special events – 311 Day & 311 Caribbean Cruise. Every other year, 311 play an arena show on March 11th (“311 DAY”) – that attracts 311’s biggest fans from around the world. Billed as “the ultimate 311 concert experience,” the show includes an extended setlist of hits, rarities & covers – and state-of-the-art production. 311 Day typically attracts over 10,000 fans (from all 50 U.S. States & 15+ countries) – and March 11th is now considered a holiday to 311 fans around the globe.
311 Caribbean Cruise has sailed on 5 adventures to date; Cozumel (2017), Jamaica (2015), Bahamas (2013 & 2012), Turks & Caicos (2011) – and in March 2017, 311 Caribbean Cruise heads to Cozumel. The 4 night adventure aboard a luxury Norwegian Cruise Lines ship sees some 3,000 passionate 311 fans from around the world take to the sea, with 311 playing 3 shows along the way, plus other support bands, DJs and comedians.
311 Amber Ale:
311 have partnered w/ Rock Brothers Brewing & Nebraska Brewing on their own beer – 311 Amber Ale. The beer is on draft in select markets. Cans launched March 2017 – via online ordering & at select retailers..
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).
At The Drive In
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.”
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.
Black Veil Brides
You don’t have to change everything. However, realigning can be the healthiest remedy after nearly two decades in the music business. Going into their eleventh full- length album, Kill The Flaw [7 Bros. Records/ADA Label Services], Sevendust changed a lot around them regarding the infrastructure of their organization, but they didn’t alter what matters the most—the music. Following their first significant break (two months) since forming, the Atlanta group—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—entered their new creative hub, Architekt Studios in Butler, New Jersey, completely inspired and invigorated.
“For the first time in our careers, the avenues were swept off with all of the trash we had on them before,” admits Lajon. “We didn’t have certain people’s hands in our pockets or helicoptering the situation to what they thought it should be. We took a lot of things in our own control. As a result, it’s a new chapter for us.”
“That’s why the record is called Kill The Flaw,” explains Clint. “It’s basically about cutting off the baggage from your life and career and trimming down the excess that holds you back. We’ve had a lot of struggles with the industry. We changed everything about our business. It’s a rebirth in a sense, as far as what we want to do, how we’re going to do it, and who we’re going to it with. We’ve learned from our mistakes.”
There were a few other significant changes as well. Instead of holding up in a hotel, Lajon, Clint, and John rented a house together. The sessions became “24-hour” as the guys cooked breakfast together, hit the gym, and then locked themselves in the studio until midnight every day for five weeks. They also penned the music alongside one another in the studio, jamming everything out in the same room.
“It made everything feel like it did when we first started,” smiles Lajon. “We went in, sat down, looked at each other, picked up the instruments, and began rocking out. Recording like an actual group gave everything more substance.”
“I wanted to embrace what Sevendust is,” declares Clint. “It’s the contrast of the melodic vocal over a very percussive, heavy musical landscape. That’s what we’ve always done. That’s one of those things our fan base really connected to. They’re our life’s blood.
There’s no question. We allow our fans to have more of a voice than other bands. We love putting out records that people can say, ‘This what they do. This is the type of band I want to support.’”
The first single and album opener “Thank You” upholds the pillars of their signature style with a buoyant guitar groove, bombastic drums, and soulfully striking refrain. “There’s always someone trying to keep you down,” sighs Lajon. “At the end of the day, that negativity makes you stronger. You’re still going. It says, ‘Thank you for putting me down. Thank you for making me work harder. Thank you for hating!’”
Meanwhile, “Death Dance” builds from an eerie clean guitar into a towering distorted verse that’s as robust as it is raw. Everything converges on an undeniable vocal chant during the chorus. “That’s the summer dance jam right there,” chuckles Lajon.
“It’s based around the social media era we’re in with all of its vanity and ego,” reveals Clint. “We all get caught up in it. People try to enhance their looks without putting any energy towards giving back. The dead are society staring at their iPhones. You’ve got to see the world. You can’t look at a screen for that.”
Then, there’s “Not Today,” which is equally stirring and soaring with its six-string beatdown and vulnerably vibrant vocals. “That’s another one about change,” continues Clint. “It’s us as a band basically making a choice to change who we work with and how we do what we do. It’s us addressing things that have stopped that from happening. You’re lashing out at someone and explaining how you’re going to be a different version of yourself.”
Thankfully, they’re still Sevendust through and through, and that’s what forged one of hard rock’s most diehard audiences. 2014’s acoustic offering Time Traveler’s & Bonfires saw an overwhelming response from that community, being quickly funded through a highly successful PledgeMusic campaign. Just a year prior, Black Out The Sun entered Billboard’s Top Hard Music Albums chart at #1 and landed at #18 on the Top 200. They kicked off their illustrious career with an untouchable string of three gold albums, beginning with their self-titled 1997 debut and continuing with Home in 1999 and Animosity in 2001. Along the way, they’ve sold out shows everywhere and given unforgettable performances at the likes of Rock On The Range, Woodstock, OZZfest, and Shiprocked! to name a few. However, the new chapter starts now.
“I hope people know we’re the real deal,” concludes Lajon. “That’s the most important thing. There’s substance here. That’s why everybody keeps coming back, and we’re beyond thankful for that.”
“I want everybody to walk away surprised,” Clint leaves off. “I hope it’s better than they imagined, and they get this reassurance that we’re all connected. We want to give people fresh, quality music. I hope they feel prideful they’ve stuck with us through all of these years.”
Once the world’s lone superpower, America has been in a state of flux for several years. The economy seems to weaken every week, while we are in the midst of several wars that have been going on for nearly a decade.
In the midst of this, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/rapper Everlast has crafted Songs Of The Ungrateful Living, a masterful 15-cut collection that serves as a soundtrack for modern America. It’s an album that pulls from several seemingly unrelated musical and thematic corners of the country to poignantly highlight not only the bleak status of our nation and its inhabitants but also the untapped potential of both.
“I just wrote a group of songs and they all started to have the theme of darkness,” Everlast says. “It’s like the ‘80s again, almost, and I’ve always liked Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and Billy Joel’s ‘Allentown.’ I feel it’s like that again, especially today. I woke up to 600-point losses in the market. I just tap into what’s around me, but I didn’t have a title for the album for a long time. One day I was just thinking that the ungrateful living is everybody. Anybody that takes a breath probably doesn’t appreciate how much that breath is worth. I see a whole lot of people taking life and the world for granted. It’s not even a slight on anyone. It’s everyone. Me too.”
To this end, the slow, brassy “Some Of Us Pray” recognizes that we can’t break everything we fix, while lead single “I Get By” documents how people try to deal with a sinking housing market, the need for employment and a lack of resources. Although the song’s protagonist barely gets by, the concept was inspired by the hyperbolic material excess celebrated in several rap songs and videos.
Then there’s the sobering “Little Miss America” chronicles a fatherless household, soldiers at war and friends being left behind. The latter, in particular, was the result of some intense soul-searching, reflection and interaction.
“That song is a direct result of my trip to Iraq,” Everlast says. “I had written most of it in anticipation of going. I knew some cats that were soldiers and because on the last album I wrote that song ‘Letters Home from the Garden of Stone,’ a lot of soldiers have reached out to me. I’ve heard their stories so I think there’s a little bit of all of that mixed in there. It’s what America has become. She loves the paparazzi.
America’s responsible for stuff like Snooki. Really? Everybody’s trying to sell their story. Say what you want to say, but when I was young, America did stuff. You could actually buy and live and eat and drive and wear everything American. It just doesn’t mean anything to anybody anymore. Now, the results of all that are starting to come in.”
The repercussions of mistakes made drive the acoustic guitar-driven “Long At All,” while the heavy “Gone For Good” examines how a patriarch battles to fight his own demons while providing for his family.
Though there is a definite somber undercurrent to much of Songs Of The Ungrateful Living, Everlast did not force himself to write songs. Instead, he let it come naturally. “My songwriting has never been something I buckled down and forced myself to do,” he says. “It comes in waves. It comes in periods and usually, it ends up forming some sort of cohesive connection between all of them, whether it’s on different levels and different topics. There’s darkness, but there’s always this tiny little sliver of hope there somewhere.”
The album’s most optimistic moments come on the romantic “My House,” an inviting song where Everlast presents simple options for a perfect date night, the heartfelt “Sixty-Five Roses,” where a smile on his daughter’s face makes everything alright, and on his spirited cover of the Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
In fact, a change is going to come would be the perfect way to describe Everlast’s musical journey. He got his first break in the 1980s when gangster rap pioneer Ice T discovered him and released his early material. But it was in 1992, when as the frontman of rap group House Of Pain, that Everlast enjoyed his first career-defining moment. The group’s bone-crushing single “Jump Around” became one of the decade’s biggest songs and is still used regularly in television commercials and movies.
After a successful run with House Of Pain, Everlast shocked the musical world in 1998 with the release of his solo album Whitey Ford Sings The Blues. A blues, folk, country and rap inspired release on which Everlast sang in a gravely voice, the collection was anchored by the smash hits “What It’s Like” and “Ends” and sold more than 2 million copies.
Since then, Everlast has become one of music’s most successful, eclectic artists, collaborating with legendary rock group Santana on the Grammy-winning single “Put Your Lights On” and forming the hardcore rap group La Coka Nostra with former House Of Pain member DJ Lethal, among others.
With such a diverse, disparate musical background, Everlast cites one source for his songwriting prowess.
“I’m an MC,” Everlast says. “When I sing, I’m MCing. It’s all hip-hop to me. I wouldn’t be in it and doing any of it if it weren’t for hip-hop. I feel like some sort of human mixer that just takes these musical styles and tries to spit them out over a beat somehow.”
And with Songs Of The Ungrateful Living, Everlast again shows that he’s one of the most talented people to ever mix musical styles.
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.
Stick To Your Guns
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.
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
Unpredictability drives progression.
When art can’t be pigeonholed or pinned down, it elevates the very medium itself. Bad Wolves thrives on that sort of unpredictability, standing confidently at a crossroads between anthemic hard rock infectiousness and thought-provoking technically-charged heavy metal. Think a cross between the mind-numbing musical malevolence of Meshuggah and Sevendust’s timeless irresistibility, and you’re halfway there…The vision of ex-DevilDriver co-founder and previous driving force John Boecklin [drums, guitars] and vocalist Tommy Vext [Snot, Westfield Massacre] as well as Doc Coyle [guitar], Chris Cain [guitar], and Kyle Konkiel, the group’s full-length debut represents metallic evolution in its purest form.
The result of a musical journey he kicked off in 2014, Boecklin describes the style best.
“We sound like a heavy-slightly prog rock band that tunes low and cuts off most of the fat,” he explains. “Watching Faith No More on the reunion tour made my thought process change. I was standing there, and it hit me that I don’t want to be in a metal band with screaming all the time. We’re heavy, yet from track-to-track, things change quite a bit.”
“More was revealed, so more was required,” adds Vext. “The overall tonality and approach resonated with me as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a vocalist. I was given a platform to tap into some musical influences I hadn’t yet explored in previous bands. All in all, it was some of the most diverse, original material I’ve gotten to wrap my hands around.”
“In no rush to put together something reminiscent of [his] musical past,” Boecklin quietly wrote over the course of 2015. During summer ‘16, he entered Audio Hammer Studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis [Trivium, All That Remains] and tracked what would become the group’s debut album.
“Starting from scratch is never easy,” admits Boecklin. “Many musical roads were traveled before getting to what you hear today—it’s trial and error. I kept reminding myself not to do what I’ve done before. Eventually, we started to hear what we wanted.”
Now, the first single “Learn To Live” snaps from a chugging polyrhythmic riff into a hummable bridge before colliding with an undeniable refrain that’s impossible to shake and the final scream, “You’d better learn to fucking live.”
“The aim of the song was to basically challenge listeners to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to take personal responsibility for my own happiness?’,” says Vext. “It’s a concept I use in my day-to-day life as a sober life coach. It’s meant to address situational depression, anxiety, and the disconnect from interpersonal relationships as a byproduct of social media addiction.”
Album opener “A Toast To The Ghosts” delivers a searing gut-punch punctuated by sharp succinct fretwork, smart-bomb precise percussion, and another searing vocal performance. Everything culminates on the pensive and punishing “Blood and Bones.” Vext adds, “It’s like an open letter to an abusive relationship partner that no longer serves you or the opposing counterpart. It’s left open to interpretation.”
Defined by a push-and-pull between incalculable instrumentation and soaring melodies, Bad Wolves will keep listeners guessing and thinking on their path to hard rock and metal supremacy.
“This is something new for me,” Boecklin leaves off. “It’s the most unique drumming I’ve ever done. Tommy has never sounded so good. The songs are much more diverse than anything from our collective past. I’d love for people to take away some sort of connection emotionally. That’s what all of the bands who inspire me do. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”
The Fever 333
Standing there in her full rock regalia, messy hair, leather boots, and that glimmer of confidence in her eyes, Dorothy Martin, singer/songwriter and namesake of the Los Angeles rock band Dorothy, takes the microphone in superstar producer Linda Perry’s studio and goes into full rock star mode. She was on fire. She thought she nailed it. Not quite.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s up with you,” recalls Perry (P!nk, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani), who produced, engineered, and co-wrote several tracks on Dorothy’s second full-length album, 28 Days in the Valley, for Jay Z’s Roc Nation. “You just made this incredible band sound like fucking shit and there’s not one vocal I can keep here. Are you drunk?”
The singer was up partying until 5 a.m., so when she rolled into the studio at 11 a.m. the effects of the night were on full display. So Perry, who also manages the band, kicked Dorothy out of the studio with this firm warning: “If you feel you can’t do this, tell me now because you’re wasting my time. You are better than this. Call your sponsor, go to a meeting, get your shit together because these songs are great and we are going to make a fucking great record.”
It was a major turning point, for sure. “I hit my rock bottom that day,” admits the Budapest-born, San Diego-raised artist. I sounded like shit. I felt like shit. I looked like shit. I was making my band suck. I was erratic. I was crying. Linda sat me down and handed me my ass.”
It was the wake-up call the artist needed. It was that of a phoenix rising from the ashes moment. Martin began to look inside for the answers and found the strong, confident, empowered woman that she had been hiding. Not only did she make an evolutionary turn as an individual and artist, but the band
— which also includes guitarist Owen Barry, guitarist Leroy Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango, and drummer Jason Ganberg — made that “fucking great record” Perry had hoped for.
“It was very humbling, but necessary,” says Martin. “This was a spiritual journey and very healing, and because of that it’s an unapologetically honest record. Somehow Linda knew I had more to give as a singer and writer. I used to hide behind the tough girl sound, but she taught me that there is power in my vulnerability and that’s what you get on this record.”
“Flawless,” the first single, is one of those vulnerable songs. The boot-stomping rocker kicks off the 13-track album with the heartbreaking lyrics, “You said you loved me, but you threw me out in the garbage/Now I’m starting to stink but everybody thinks I’m flawless,” but by the end of the song Martin’s pain turns to an uplifting feel-good anthem of love as she sings, “Coming out of all my darkness/Now that I’m flawless/ Can you feel it?/Can you feel it?”
“It’s about an ex who really did a number on me,” reveals Martin. “This one came fast to me. It was very subconscious… like I’m channeling them. Linda pulled the lightness out of me, both personally and musically. This record is definitely still bold, but it’s happier. It’s kind of like the butterfly coming out of the cocoon, which is why the band logo now is a butterfly.”
The bluesy rocker, “Pretty When You’re High Boy,” dives further the emotional rollercoaster of her bad romantic choices. “We’ve all dated that beautiful boy who likes the ganja too much. He looks like an angel, but was anything but. It’s kind of an ode to those surfer stoner boys and girls of the world. I worked out a lot of stuff on this record,” she laughs.
Even with more tender moments, 28 Days in the Valley still has the in-your-face bluesy, gritty rock and roll fans loved on 2016’s ROCKISDEAD, and their recent standalone single, “Down To the Bottom,” which hit No. 35 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and which Rolling Stone called the “perfect mix of blues thunder and alt-rock guitar crunch.” But, added to that thunder this time around are more layers of emotion fueled by less metal, more California desert rock vibes.
The powerful ’60s-tinged “Who Do You Love” takes you down the fast lane of psychedelic desert rock perfection, while “Ain’t Our Time To Die” harkens back to the band’s trademark dirty rock sensibilities. The record takes several uplifting turns as heard on “Mountain,” “Freedom,” and “White Butterfly” where it’s hard not to feel the spiritual journey and awakening Dorothy has embarked on.
It’s the kind of record that has a pulse and beckons to be played live from beginning to end… and there’s a good reason for that. “We recorded the old-school way like the Stones did. After writing, we did a good amount of pre-production and worked out the energy and vibe of the songs and then we went in and recorded live, usually in just a few takes. Nothing on this record is programmed. It’s raw and real and honest,” explains Martin, who led meditation sessions with her band before each session to set the right intention and loving energy.
Coming off an album with as much critical acclaim and fan love as ROCKISDEAD — which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, No. 5 on Top Hard Rock Albums, and featured two songs (“Raise Hell” and “Dark Nights”) in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart — can be intimidating for most bands going into their sophomore record. Critics compared Martin to some of the greatest female artists of our time, such as Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, and Grace Slick, even calling her “a revved up Adele teetering on the brink of chaos.”
The praise was equal for the band as Rolling Stone magazine named Dorothy one of the best 50 Best New Artists, while Billboard likened the group’s “Wicked Ones,” which was featured in Levi’s and Gatorade spots, to a blend of Black Sabbath and the White Stripes, and Vice’s Noisey dubbed “After Midnight,” which featured actress/model Suki Waterhouse in the music video, “the perfect modern rock concoction.”
Those kind of accolades are enough to make any young band shake in their boots. But, not Dorothy.
“I had no fear coming into this record,” Martin proudly states. “We were in capable hands and I finally felt empowered to be even more of a songwriter than I was before. I finally learned to trust my intuition and my heart, and to get out of my head. You know, the main message of this album is to not live in fear; it’s to transform everything in your life to be on the frequency of love, which is so powerful and all healing. That’s what this record is all about.”
Dorothy was built around Dorothy Martin, a singer who was born in Budapest but raised in San Diego. As a child, she started singing early and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. Rolling Stone named Dorothy one of the best 50 Best New Artists of 2014 and soon after, Dorothy was signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Martin recently put together a new, high level, and powerful band including guitarist Owen Barry, guitarist Leroy Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango, and drummer Jason Ganberg. Dorothy is releasing their second full-length album 28 Days in the Valley on March 9th. The lead single “Flawless” is out on January 19th. The band is managed by We Are Hear and represented by Roc Nation.
Dorothy was built around Dorothy Martin, a singer who was born in Budapest but raised in San Diego. As a child, she started singing early and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. Rolling Stone named Dorothy one of the best 50 Best New Artists of 2014 and soon after, Dorothy was signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
The band’s first album ROCKISDEAD, received much critical acclaim, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, No. 5 on Top Hard Rock Albums, and featured two songs (“Raise Hell” and “Dark Nights”) in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.
Martin recently put together a new, high level, and powerful band including guitarist Owen Barry, guitarist Leroy Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango, and drummer Jason Ganberg. Dorothy is releasing their second full-length album 28 Days in the Valley on March 9th.
“This was a spiritual journey and very healing, and because of that it’s an unapologetically honest record,” says Martin of the new album. “Somehow Linda [Perry] knew I had more to give as a singer and writer. I used to hide behind the tough girl sound, but she taught me that there is power in my vulnerability and that’s what you get on this record.”
28 Days in the Valley still has the in-your-face bluesy, gritty rock and roll fans loved on 2016’s ROCKISDEAD, and their recent standalone single, “Down To the Bottom,” which hit No. 35 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and which Rolling Stone called the “perfect mix of blues thunder and alt-rock guitar crunch.” But, added to that thunder this time around are more layers of emotion fueled by less metal, more California desert rock vibes. The lead single “Flawless”, a fearless yet vulnerable anthem, is out January 19th.
Critics have compared Martin to some of the greatest female artists of our time, such as Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, and Grace Slick, even calling her “a revved up Adele teetering on the brink of chaos.” The band is managed by We Are Hear and represented by Roc Nation. Dorothy is currently on tour. For more information, visit dorothytheband.com.
With over five years of unmatched determination, the culmination of five Florida musicians’ effort is ready to be unleashed. Guitarist/vocalist Cody Quistad and guitarist Seth Blake met in high school when they discovered that they shared musical interests, and started jamming soon thereafter. In 2013, the duo encountered vocalist Briton Bond and, shortly after, bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesener were incorporated into the mix. The line-up alone of Ocala, Florida’s Wage War sheds a more-than-welcome light on the importance of a solid foundation built upon evolving musicianship. Wage War marks their territory with from-the-heart lyrics and thrashing beats that transcend to a community who understands the trials and tribulations of growing up all too well.
In fact, Wage War IS that community, as Quistad explains, “A lot of the themes in our songs are about growing up to be a productive person, and dealing with the real things that can happen in life and coping with circumstances that could be problematic,” says Quistad. “The first single we’re releasing, ‘Alive,’ is an anthem to all the naysayers out there that are always talking about our generation being a bunch of losers.”
Blueprints, the band’s debut album co-produced by A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon along with Andrew Wade, resounds with all of the tension and ingenuity of its creation. The band delivers 11 tracks of uncompromising multi-dimensional metalcore, filled with high-intensity rhythms, battering drums and blazing guitars, tempered with tuneful vocal passages. Crushing breakdowns alongside a combination of roaring and melodic vocals prove powerful enough to level a small village. Yet, Wage War aren’t focused solely on destruction.
“The goal of Blueprints was to establish a foundation,” Quistad says. “It’s our first record and our first chance to show people what we’re about. So we really went all out to deliver the best songs we could possibly write and play them to the best of our ability. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised.”
Time as a band breeds experience, yielding commitment to a cause and cementing a career path. This is something Plague Vendor has learned. The foursome, who emerged from a practice space in Whittier, CA in 2009, started by playing endless live shows around Southern California, filling everywhere from backyard parties to clubs to festivals with their raucous, formidable music. At the heart of every show, no matter the venue, was sincere energy and spirit, always resulting in a snarling, frenetic performance. The shows stacked up, accumulating every year, and eventually birthed Plague Vendor’s 2014 debut album Free To Eat, a dark, thrashing collection that clocked in at less than twenty minutes.
But the album, brash and aptly terse, was just an appetizer to the main course. The band’s sophomore effort, Bloodsweat, vastly expands on the sonic territory explored in their debut. Recorded over the course of two weeks in April of 2015 with producer and engineer Stuart Sikes (The Walkmen, Cat Power, Modest Mouse), the album takes a natural approach to Plague Vendor’s music. The musicians aimed to capture each track in as few takes as possible, avoiding many overdubs and embracing the same minimal production they bring to their live performances. Nearly all of the eleven songs on Bloodsweat were heavily road-tested, imagined and re-imagined live before ever making it into the studio.
From opening number “Anchor To Ankles” to closer “Got It Bad,” Bloodsweat reveals a purposeful narrative arc, taking the listener through songs that veer rapidly from aggressive thrash to melodic introspection. Together, the songs recount the last few years of the musicians’ lives, revealing the sacrifices they’ve made and the dedication they’ve embraced to become the band they’ve become. “Jezebel,” the disc’s flagship single, exemplifies the style Plague Vendor has dubbed “voodoo punk” a dance-fueled rock aesthetic tinged with shadowy darkness. The band’s influences, which range from At the Drive-In to Liars to The Cramps, are apparent but not overly obvious throughout.
Plague Vendor’s live show has shifted as they’ve developed these new songs, too. They’ve swapped out shock value for raw vulnerability onstage and the four musicians aim to create the most sound and the most intensity with the least possible utility and equipment. Palpable tension comes from the sense that anything could happen, but mostly Plague Vendor is interested in simplicity and the sort of expressive nakedness that can come from stripping everything away. It’s clear the band has sacrificed their formative don’t-give-a-fuck punk attitude for sincerity and gratitude, acknowledging the fans who’ve helped them arrive here now.
Bloodsweat invokes its own name as it unfurls, its songs edged with a sense of danger and vulnerability. It’s the product of a band who have traveled far and whose travels have committed them even further to themselves. As you hear it, as its songs surge outward, it announces: This is who Plague Vendor is now.
Hyro The Hero
Amigo the Devil
All Them Witches
“Sleeping through the war — this is what we’re doing. There are so many terrible things going on in the world and we’re just staring at our phones, and we don’t see it so we don’t care.” Having just come in from practicing in the desert, Charles Michael Parks, singer/bassist for All Them Witches, elaborates on the very heavy times in which we all live. Parks and his bandmates — Ben McLeod, Allan Van Cleave and Robby Staebler — are enjoying a brief respite from the endless tour that saw them visit Europe three times in 2016. We’ve been talking for nearly ten minutes about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, among other things, before we cut through the cosmic fog that surrounds their new album Sleeping Through The War.
“It’s tough to get past all the cat videos.”
From their earliest days, there has a been a current in All Them Witches’ music that has come from outside the continuum of our collective perceptions. On 2013’s Lightning at the Door they drew a bigger chalk circle in the center of the crossroads and conjured a haunting occult- blues. On 2015’s New West Records debut Dying Surfer Meets His Maker they dove the depths of oceanic canyons and surfaced with a shining psychedelia. Sleeping Through The War is the next step in that progression.
“We write in every way possible,” says Parks. “There’s no limitations on it, no I’m going to come to it with this song and this is how it’s going to go. It’s more like stretching your arms out and seeing who can grab what and seeing what fits together from there.
“This is the most I’ve ever sang on a record, so my writing process was a little bit different than on the other ones. We weren’t relying on long, drawn out jam sections we were putting more of a storyline into the songs.
“The songs are catchier, they’re faster and there’s more singing. Or talking. Or whatever I’m doing.”
The result is evidence of the adventure, beauty, and excitement that lies on the other side of the galaxy. The fundamental laws that govern Sleeping Through The War are the same fundamentals that have made ATW a cult favorite — big fuzz, deep grooves, cosmic vision — but the journey through the wormhole has brought something else.
“It’s more brain than body,” says Parks. “Everybody kind of knows where they are going even if nobody knows where the song is going. We’re good at juggling the torch around, making sure everyone gets to play…
“Allan has this really unique approach to playing Rhodes. Robby’s drums sound weird in soundcheck he has all of these weird tones but he knows where he’s putting them in the mix himself. I have a weird bass tone, but somehow it clicks. We didn’t come into it trying to blend our sounds together. That comes from relying on something you already have, relying on something that has its own unique personality.”
Years of jamming their way across the country have elevated their performance. Years of interacting with audiences has made their songcraft more responsive. Years of psychic interactions between band members has lead them into a sonic-space headier, more dynamic than any equation could have predicted. In the five years since their formation, over hundreds of performances and thousands of miles travelled, All Them Witches have expanded their corporeality, absorbing ideas both audible and philosophical that push at the thin veil of existence. With three albums that each gained more heft than the one before, All Them Witches has accrued such an immense heaviness that when producer Dave Cobb entered their orbit the very nature of their reality was warped beyond recognition.
“We wrote it in about six days,” says guitarist Ben McLeod. “Wherein the past we would have just gone ahead and recorded and written in the studio, we were like nah we’re going to do it with Dave, let’s be prepared.”
“And Eddie Spear, the engineer, he loves doing 8 track records. We obviously didn’t make an 8 track record [laughs] but in the back of our minds we were like this guy is gonna think we’re a joke if we’re doing all of this overdubbing shit. We wanted a record that you could crank. And we wanted girl backup singers.”
It might seem like an odd detail — Erin Rae, Caitlin Rose and Tristen add a classic rock flourish, at odds with their earlier catalogs — but it makes sense within the context of the songs and within the context of their career. All Them Witches are at their Ummagumma moment, their Tres Hombres, their Bare Trees. They brought in a mellotron. Their sense of sonic experimentation is so finely honed that even the oddest, toughest moments are warm and relatable.
“We’re trying to get to something better — not necessarily just as musicians — but as people,” Parks explains. “I’ve always said that as we change as people, our music changes, that’s why we can never make the same records. I can’t be in one of those bands. I hope you’ll never hear about ‘another predictable album from All Them Witches.’ There’s no art in that.”
Their sound has become so expansive you can her echoes of Dr. John’s Gris-Gris and the glacial expanses of Sigur Ros, the fire and brimstone of Appalachian snake charmers and the meditative om of the East. It’s the same balance of preparation and improvisation that helped drummer Robby Staebler conjure Sleeping Through The War’s vibrant and foreboding cover.
“I’m really into weird, film cameras and that was the original direction of the cover,” says Staebler. “Then Ben told me — after working on this for weeks straight, doing all of these layouts, scanning things, looking for old negatives digging things up — he told me ‘Eh, this is kinda boring, dude’. And for 30 seconds I was really fucking pissed.
“But I knew he was right. I knew it wasn’t what the record needed and so I just channeled some crazy Chi and the record cover came out. I just stopped thinking about stuff and got out film-negative dyes — for retouching films, it works really great on watercolor paper too — and the rest of it just came together. I found the channel.”
Their musicianship is so dialed in, so fluid and adaptable that the most technically complex and sonically detailed passages are fun and fulfilling. All Them Witches are progressing but they have no intention of leaving anyone behind. In a world where so many are distracted and disengaged All Them Witches are seeking to connect on a more visceral, more human level.
“The hardest part was the song “Bruce Lee” — originally the song had this long introduction and not a lot of singing, just a long instrumental,” McLeod explains. “And Dave stopped us, had us come into the control room and said, ‘Guys, this is the kind of song that when people hear this they are going to want to listen to the rest of the record. You want people to hear the record and this song is your opportunity.’
“It was weird at first, we were like, but but this is how the song goes with the long intro and stuff. We played with some splices and it ended up being what it is now and I think it is groo-oovy.”
Lead single “Bruce Lee” is a perfect distillation of the All Them Witches aesthetic — whirlwind guitars, way out vocals and propulsive rhythms that recall Springsteen’s late-night power drives as much as they do Kyuss riding into the blood-red sunset.
“Don’t Bring Me Coffee” is an aggro blast of anthemic, 120 Minutes-grade powerfuzz, that toys with the power dynamic between the beautiful and the ugly.
“Alabaster” feels like William S. Burroughs intoning to South Bronx breakdancers while the album closer “Internet” sees the band slip so far behind the beat it feels like they’ve slipped from the grasp of space-time itself. These tracks make the case that the gravity of All Them Witches is warping the space-time in which we all exist and that Sleeping Through The War is the sort of heaviness these weird times demand.
“If everybody would look out for everybody we wouldn’t have any problems,” says Parks. “If everybody had enough space to breath we wouldn’t have any problems…the hardest part is that everybody wants to be happy but nobody knows how to get there.”
VI·ZA is excited to announce the release of the group’s new EP recording, “The Unorthodox Revival”, which will consist of two volumes. The two installments will feature a series of digital streaming recordings (Spotify, iTunes, etc.) of the band’s upcoming new songs, which have been released exclusively on VI·ZA’s dedicated Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/user/ExperienceViza and will be released in hard copy format in two volumes of “The Unorthodox Revival”.
The new EPs contain the band’s newest material, which has been written and recorded entirely in 2017-2018, giving fans a feel of the group’s continued growth and exploration of various musical styles and colors. Notably, “The Unorthodox Revival”’s two volumes are all interconnected and represent different but segmented components of VI·ZA’s new music.
After returning to the stage in early 2017 the band has been writing and recording actively the past several months, concentrating on composing new material as the band enters a new chapter of its growth. The band is continuing to write and record tracks, with each set to be released via digital format on the first of every month for the remainder of 2018. The band continues to record with talented recording engineer Yury Anisonyan out of Live Wire Studios in Los Angeles. Anisonyan brings his expertise and unique mixing philosophy to VI·ZA’s sound, creating a unique tapestry of soundscapes.
VI·ZA’s new material is an exploration of sounds both old and new, and is sure to pique the interest of both die hard fans and new listeners. With vocals and a diverse array of instruments like the oud and duduk to combine with guitar, bass and drums, there are some exciting possibilities when it comes to both the core and potential artistic horizon of the band’s sound. Song titles include “Cash Karma”, “Viktorious”, “A World of Broken Mirrors”, “Aphrodite”, “Velvet Shade” and “Vicious Game”, representing diverse but resonant themes ranging from satire, continuity and social commentary to raw human emotions like love, loss and passion. Whether it’s VI·ZA’s bread and butter energetic style of pulsing percussion with exotic melodies or experimental ideas exploring the spiritual side of their art, the guys promise to keep things interesting with fans coming back for more, especially when it comes to documenting their work in the studio.
After releasing several albums, performing at major festivals worldwide, joining System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian for two worldwide tours and supporting Gogol Bordello and Skindred, VI·ZA is looking to explore a new dimension of sound. As a fixture of the Sunset club scene known for energetic and captivating live performances, VI·ZA is sure to deliver excitement in the form of shows and new songs in 2018.
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).