Set It Off
At this point, IN FLAMES are less of a band than they are a musical institution in the heavy music world. Since helping create Sweden’s legendary “Gothenburg Sound” three decades ago to their current status as melodic metal monoliths, the act have constantly eschewed trends in order to forge their own musical path. This is evident on their 13th full-length »I, The Mask«, which sees them reuniting with multi Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, MOTÖRHEAD), who also produced 2016’s »Battles«, in order to further redefine their sound. “I think it’s very difficult for IN FLAMES to be something we’re not and that dichotomy of melody and aggression will always be at the core of our identity,” vocalist Anders Fridén explains from a tour stop opening for DEEP PURPLE in Mexico. “We are always open to new ideas and don’t let anything limit us,” guitarist Björn Gelotte adds. “We just ask ourselves if we will love playing this stuff live… and as long as we feel that, nothing can really touch us.”
Unlike previous recordings, this time around Fridén and Gelotte holed up in Los Angeles for three weeks prior to the production of »I, The Mask« and came up with a bulk of the songs during those sessions. “For »Battles« I wrote a lot of the material at home first but for this one, Anders and I really wanted to just get in a room together and see where it would take us,” Gelotte explains, adding that Benson would frequently drop by and act as a filter for their creativity. “I think this process worked really well because a lot of the lyrics fed off the music or Anders would come up with a really powerful line and it would inspire a riff, so there was a lot of symbiosis between us in the songwriting.” From there the duo fleshed out the arrangements with guitarist Niclas Engelin, bassist Bryce Paul Newman and previous drummer Joe Rickard and then spent two months tracking the songs. (»I, The Mask« is also the last recording to feature Rickard who was subsequently replaced by Tanner Wayne who played on the track ‘(This Is Our) House.’) Finally, the album was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, who has worked with everyone from CHEAP TRICK to LINKIN PARK and mastered by Ted Jensen (PANTERA, EAGLES, GUNS N’ ROSES).
The result is a massive-sounding album that showcases why IN FLAMES are one of the biggest metal bands in the world. From the way acoustic guitars give way to to anthemic riffing on the power ballad ‘Call My Name’ to the relentless riffing on ‘Burn’ and sweetly syncopated groove of ‘I Am Above,’ »I, The Mask« sees the band stretching out musically and crafting music that’s as catchy as it is crushing. As the driving force behind the act, it was important for Fridén to challenge himself on the album and take vocal lessons three days a week in order to expand his own arsenal of abilities. “I wanted to do something new and take things to another level when it came to the vocals,” he explains. “I know what I’m capable of and I feel more confident today taking higher notes and being able to push my voice in a higher register, so that’s something I really wanted to explore as well.”
Lyrically, »I, The Mask« is in many ways a social commentary on the state of the world when it comes to isolation, loneliness and the way technology has subverted our need for genuine human connection. “Instead of being connected we divide ourselves into all of these little groups and if you scratch the surface most people’s lives are miserable,” Fridén explains. “I thought about that and how we all carry a mask around and how in our striving to become better, I think we’re actually going backwards.” However there is also a level of hopefulness that’s inherent in the sentiment of »I, The Mask«, which is showcased in songs like ‘(This Is Our) House.’ “That song is a call to arms and it’s saying, ‘We need to unite because we’re going in the wrong direction,’” he explains. “We might have ten years to stop the pollution of the planet. We aren’t going to die on the 11th year but we can’t turn it back from that and it’s a slow process of rebuilding our house, so I think it’s a strong lyrical theme and one that is unifying as well.”
Admittedly if you listen to 1996’s »The Jester Race« next to »I, The Mask«, there are marked musical differences, but through the course of IN FLAMES’ output you can trace their evolution and hear how they managed to remain relevant by never getting complacent. “The way we write music is super challenging but it’s also super rewarding,” Gelotte explains, adding that as the band have improved as musicians it’s opened up countless sonic and creative possibilities. “We’ve never been the type of band who likes to show-off but we like to have fun making music and working with Howard [Benson] was one of the first times where we actually listened to someone from the outside – and I think it was his first time working with a band like us, too,” he adds. “The instrumentation on the album is pretty straight-forward on this album, but there are so many layers in a lot of these songs that if you’re interested you can really dig into it and it will live on for a long time.”
That said, ultimately IN FLAMES are a live band and they can’t wait to get back on the road and share this new collection of songs with fans, whether they’ve supported the band for decades or are recent converts to their sound. “I love the act of creating something from nothing and then getting to travel the world and play these songs and see how they affect people,” Fridén summarizes. “It’s extremely rewarding to hear how a certain song moves someone and then you talk to someone else and learn that it affected them in a profoundly different way. The dynamic between the creator and the fans and what they bring to the table is such an amazing feeling, so that’s a big part of our drive. To make something and share it with the world, that’s what we were meant to do.”
Jared James Nichols
We’ve all heard it, read it, maybe even know someone who’s said it: Rock is dead. Argue all you want over the finer details of this sadly misguided statement, but one thing is for sure – these unfortunate souls have never laid ears or eyes on Jared James Nichols.
Armed with one guitar – his battered-and-bruised, heavily-customized Gibson Les Paul, a k a “Old Glory” – a gritty, soul-stirring voice and an unshakable spirit, Nichols has come roaring out of Waukesha, Wisconsin (the hometown, coincidentally – or perhaps not – of the actual Les Paul) to resurrect and reaffirm the power and glory of good ol’ hot-wired, high-stakes blues-drenched rock ‘n’ roll… and also whip up a few new sounds and sensations in the process.
And while he may be just in the beginning stages of his career, Nichols has already picked up plenty of rabid acolytes along the way, whether they’ve turned on and tuned in to his electrifying riff-‘n’-roll from records like his 2015 debut, Old Glory & the Wild Revival or the 2018 follow up Black Magic, at one of his own incendiary solo gigs, or from catching him onstage with giants like Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde and the late, great Leslie West, among many others.
Now, after issuing the much-acclaimed 2020 single “Threw Me to the Wolves,” which showed him stepping outside his core sound with a tightly-coiled slow-burner, Nichols is back with his most heated and varied offering yet, the four-song Shadow Dancer EP. From the anthemic and hooky lead single, “Skin N’ Bone” to the roiling and turbulent “Saint or Fool,” the full-throttle aggro-chug of “Bad Roots” to the dark atmospherics and deep grooves of the title track, Shadow Dancer sees Nichols digging deep to conjure a set of songs infused with his characteristic passionate vocals and wild guitar pyrotechnics (throughout, Old Glory acts as a second voice, singing and screaming, moaning and wailing right alongside him) while also fearlessly pushing out on his blues-rock boundaries.
“I’m going to a lot of places I’ve never gone before,” Nichols acknowledges about the new EP. “For the first time in my life I said, ‘I’m going to write with no filter – I don’t care if it’s blues, if it’s rock, if it’s this or if it’s that. Whatever’s going to come out is going to come out.’
That was such a liberating feeling. It was so cool to spread my wings and say, ‘How far can I take this before the train goes off the rails?’ ”
The answer, as is usually the case with Nichols, is pretty far. Anyone who has experienced Jared in the flesh knows that the man – and his music – is a whirlwind of unbridled emotion and energy. And indeed, for Shadow Dancer he and his trio brought the onstage JJN experience straight into the studio, laying down the tracks, guitar solos included, live and loud (how loud? “dude, it was so loud,” he affirms), and capturing, as he puts it, lightning in a bottle.
“Before this, I don’t know if I ever felt completely comfortable in the studio,” Nichols admits. “I would say it took three years of touring, three years of totally road-dogging it and sleeping in a damn van and playing shows every night to figure out what was at the core of what I was trying to say not only onstage, but also as a songwriter and as an artist. And I think we finally captured that on this record, mostly due to the fact that we didn’t constrain ourselves to anything – we just went in and played in the most organic, natural way we could. And it had to be that way in order to capture the excitement and the energy and the overall feeling of this music.”
Essential to capturing that vibe was drummer Dennis Holm, who Nichols has played with since 2011. “We’ve toured the world together and seen a lot over the last decade,” he says, “and it’s an incredible feeling to be able to get to this point with a true rock ‘n’ roll brother. Dennis and I have a musical connection you just can’t fake. It’s the feel of a thousand shows in a thousand different venues. I feel like we finally translated that feeling and groove to record.”
Equally important to the process was producer Eddie Spear, who, Nichols says, “is a one-in-a-million, rare-breed talent who pushed me out of my comfort zone. Eddie helped me find myself musically, and on a deeper level he pushed me to commit to fully be an artist. Working with him has been my ultimate career game-changer.”
While Shadow Dancer is infused with plenty of awe-inspiring six-string shred moments (this is a Jared James Nichols album, after all), these songs also reveal new sides to the JJN experience. For “Skin N’ Bone,” on which Nichols takes a hard look at what divides us as people but also, more importantly, what should unite us, “the lyrics and the message actually came first,” he says. “It was this idea of opening our eyes and trying to come together as fellow men and women instead of breaking apart.”
An important and timely message, to be sure, “but then I express it through this energetic trio thing,” he says. “Because that’s the only way I can really say it, you know? I may not be great at sitting down and having a conversation with you about life topics, but I can play you a song like ‘Skin N’ Bone’ that shows you how I’m feeling.”
Nichols continues, “It was really cool to be able to express myself in that way, and then support it with sound and with guitar and with all the bombastic craziness that I can put on there. Something came out of that approach that I feel gives these songs a different level of depth.”
The same could be said for “Saint or Fool,” which focuses in on “that constant fight between good and evil,” Nichols explains. “We all know that there’s a dark side to life, and it’s very easy to get sucked into that. So the message is kind of haunting, and then I wrap it up in this structure that gives it a really uneasy vibe. There’s this weird chromatic walkdown riff, a really hypnotic verse, just a lot of different melodic ideas I’d never tried before. And vocally it takes you somewhere pretty intense. It isn’t the prettiest song, and it kind of stands out for that.”
“Intense” is a word that could also apply to the EP’s title track, which rides in on an evocative, watery guitar line and hushed vocal before exploding with an anguished, hard-rocking and heavy-riffing chorus. The track presents a heavier, grungier side of Nichols, but it’s all part of his musical DNA. “I love the blues, but I also grew up on ‘90s hard rock – Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots,” he says. “And so I wanted to bring in those different colors.”
And if you’re truly looking for those different colors, look no further than “Bad Roots,” which marries a Tom Petty-esque classic-rock chord progression to a full-on heavy metal rhythmic assault, and tops it off with a hushed, semi-chanted vocal that Nichols describes as “emotionally cool.” Regarding the relentless, muscular groove that powers the track, he says, “Anyone that knows that I don’t use a guitar pick will understand that I was just gritting my teeth playing that one. Because it’s constant downstrokes with my thumb against the strings.” He laughs. “It was painful, dude!”
But you know what they say – no pain, no gain. “And I love trying to push the limits of what I think is possible with my songwriting and with this music,” Nichols says. To be sure, it’s something he’s been doing since his earliest days on the scene. “I used to be, like, a 12-bar guy,” he recalls about his early approach to the blues. But whether it be his unique, pick-less approach to guitar playing, or his desire to create his own one-of-a-kind instrument – which, in a nice full-circle moment, has since been recreated by Epiphone as the Jared James Nichols Old Glory Les Paul Custom (what’s more, Nichols was just named Gibson’s newest Global Ambassador, an honor previously bestowed on Slash) – he has ever since carved out his own singular path in the music world, and in the process has brought the blues screaming into the 21st century.
“I try and interpret this music in my own way,” Nichols says. “For me, it’s not about trying to be traditional or act as if I’m from a certain era – it’s about breathing fresh air into this music that I love.
Shadow Dancer, he continues, “feels like 2021 blues – it’s all my emotions, all my feelings, all my angst and energy bottled up in one record. It’s my version of the blues.”
Nichols concludes, “People say to me ‘rock is dead,’ ‘the guitar is dead,’ all this stuff. And all I can say back is, ‘Dude, put on this record.’ Because this record is right now. This is the way I feel in 2021. This is the way I play guitar. This is the way I write songs. This is the way I play rock ‘n’ roll. And there’s still so much left to say.”
Eva Under Fire
If you think rock n’ roll fairy tales are a thing of the past, you haven’t met Eva Under Fire. These Detroit rock upstarts got their start five years ago and instantly began cutting their teeth in the underground rock scene, building an enthusiastic fanbase the old-fashioned way. However, the band’s trajectory shifted toward the stratosphere when they sent an unsolicited demo to Better Noise Music, who recognized the band’s hybrid of rock, metal, pop and classic rock as something wholly unique. Inspired by everyone from the Deftones to Duran Duran, Love, Drugs & Misery combines soaring melodies and relentless riffing with the powerful pipes of vocalist Eva Marie, who passionately spreads the band’s inclusive message of hope during these uncertain times.
That said, it took a lot of hard work for them to get to this point. The group’s roots go back to 2015 when Eva, guitarists Chris Slapnik and Rob Lyberg, bassist Ed Joseph and drummer Corey Newsom, decided to get together and write music that represented their diverse set of influences. The chemistry clicked and after releasing a well received full-length and two EPs, the band signed to Better Noise and spent the past two years working on Love, Drugs & Misery, their most ambitious and fully realized release to date. “We really wanted to challenge ourselves with this record and focus on melodies and writing the best material that we could come up with,” Eva explains. “We really came up with the best of the best when it came to our songwriting. Some songs are fun, others are more emotional.”
For Love, Drugs & Misery, the band once again teamed up with local collaborators BJ Perry (I Prevail, Escape The Fate) and John Pregler, whose collective attention to detail helped the band fine-tune their sound. “BJ and John made sure everything was really focused and the best it could be, especially the melodies,” Eva explains. That laser focus allowed the band to create an album that is as creative as it is authentic. “My biggest influence is probably Deftones because they have such an innovative mix of sounds,” Chris explains, “and Eva’s voice is so powerful that she can sing anything. The album is basically a mix of everything we all listen to from classic rock to modern metal.” Eva, who got her start singing along to show tunes and pop music before discovering acts like Evanescence and Breaking Benjamin, agrees. “It’s really a combination of a lot of different influences from all ends of the musical spectrum.”
From the syncopated, distortion-drenched groove of the opener “Misery” to the palm-muted riffs and massive hooks of “Blow” (feat. Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills) and explosive anthemics of “Unstoppable,” Love, Drugs & Misery has plenty of moments of guitar-driven grandeur. However that aggression is balanced by gripping ballads such as “The Strong” and “Give Me A Reason,” which are as inspiring as they are impactful. Then there’s “Heroin(e),” an electronica-infused, arena-ready rocker that holds special resonance for Eva. “I wrote that song from a personal space and the music was built around the lyrics,” she explains about the song, which deals with the experience of drug addiction within her family. “I was so grateful that the story could remain intact because it was so powerful, but it was so close to me that I wasn’t sure if it should go on the record or not.” Once the label heard the song they not only embraced it but included it in the upcoming Better Noise film, Sno Babies.
That balance of style and substance lies at the core of Eva Under Fire. For that reason they weren’t scared to try new things on Love, Drugs & Misery, whether that was using Talk Box guitar effects, integrating shredding guitar solos or putting their stamp on the 1987 U2 hit, “With or Without You.” Simply put, this collection of songs couldn’t have come from anyone else. “There’s a lot of grit in the vocals on this album and that’s because the aggression, anger and sadness are real,” Eva explains. “In the studio I was able to tap into those real emotions on demand because I knew that this was important. This is our platform where you need to show how real and true it is—whether you’re having a blast in the moment or you’re on the verge of tears, that’s what you want to convey. I think our producers did a great job of making us feel at home.”
“I’m really happy because this album isn’t twelve songs of the exact same style, there’s a variety where you can hear the different influences and that’s important to me,” Chris summarizes. “We wave a flag of humanity and I think this record is encouraging in the sense that whoever listens to this record will find something that will speak to them in its own way,” Eva adds. “We worked so hard to get to where we are today, but we made it. I think this album will really bring a lot of people together and that’s so needed now,” she adds. “I can’t wait to see what that will translate to when we’re finally about to get out there and tour again.”
This is Archetypes Collide. Hard-hitting vision with melodic direction. In 2014 they released their first EP, Foundations. Enlisted Hiram Hernandez (Dragged Under). The EP was preceded by their aggressive single, “Hollow Ground”.
In 2016, they released the heart-pounding single, “Fractures”. After touring in support of their EP and new single they returned to the studio to record a follow-up as well as releasing their massively successful cover of “Too Good At Goodbyes”.
In 2018 their sophomore EP was released featuring the melodic anthem, “Reminiscent Life” and the heavy-hitting jam, “Well Wasted”. Later in 2018, their second cover “Ocean” was released and Archetypes Collide were finalists in 98KUPD’s radio competition Playdio.
2019 brought new songs and more shows. After the success of “White Noise”, they released “One More Night” and the band were finalists again for 98KUPD’s Playdio.
“Forgive Me” kicked off 2020 as Archetypes Collide headed to Ohio to record with Producer Nick Ingram and Oshie Bichar of Beartooth. Despite quarantine slowing down the music industry, Archetypes Collide has continued to build in 2020. Archetypes Collide started their online shows, The Digital Sessions, and released one of their hardest-hitting songs, “Your Misery”. With more to come in 2021, Archetypes Collide shows no signs of slowing down.
“Bloodywood is a metal band from India known for pioneering a sound that seamlessly fuses Indian folk instruments with metal to devastating effect. Expect to hear the percussive power of the mighty Dhol, the melancholic flute, the single stringed Tumbi and several other uncommon, yet distinctly characteristic sounds from India. A combination of thunderous Hindi/Punjabi choruses and meaningful yet unforgiving rap verses along with the ethnic instrumentation makes Bloodywood a truly unique experience. “
With influences ranging from QOTSA, Black Sabbath, and Rush to Herbie Hancock and The Meters, The Alive is a California based rock band launched between surf & skate sessions in 2018. They’ve played Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Fest, Lollapalooza Chile, Kelly Slater’s Wave Ranch, Boardmasters England, Bowlpark Chile, Surf Music Friends Fest Spain, ISA World Surfing Games, Pipeline Hawaii, Wonderbus, and Shaky Knees Festival. They opened BottleRock 21’s Main Stage for Jimmy Eat World, Black Pumas, Cage the Elephant, and Foo Fighters. Other performance highlights include opening for Surfer Blood, Ron Artis ii, closing BottleRock’s JamPad stage (following Dave Grohl), and Sold Out support sets for Taylor Hawkins’ Chevy Metal, Jimmy Eat World and The Hives.
Featuring Bastian Evans (17) on guitar & vocals with brothers Kai & Manoa Neukermans (17 & 14) on drums and bass. The Alive have been skating, surfing and playing music together from ages 6 and 8. They were named one of Stab Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Culture Shifters of Tomorrow and the boys have been featured in Whalebone Magazine NY, Santa Cruz Waves, Riff Magazine, Surfline, Guitar Player, Soundwaves TV, Blurred Culture, and on NPR. Combining their passion for surfing and music, they’ve performed benefit shows for Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage in England, Sustainable Coastlines in Hawaii and Save the Waves. They are a BYOBottle artist committed to reducing single use plastics.
Superbloom is Brooklyn’s latest entry into the alternative rock scene. Their debut album, “Pollen” is a 12-track love-letter to heavy alternative music that spans infectiously bouncy hard rock, instantly nostalgic acoustic songs, sing-along choruses and undeniable hooks.
While the album’s feedback-laced instrumentation is hard-hitting at every turn, the band’s sonic signature is embedded in the vocal performance that fills each track with complex layering, earworm melodies and lush harmonies that deliver discoveries of nuanced detail with each listen.
“Pollen” is available on all streaming services.
Mothica is the music project of Oklahoma-born McKenzie Ellis. Like a moth, nocturnal yet drawn to the light, her lyrics balance clever wordplay doting on intimate and often dark life experiences. Mothica self-produced her first EP called Mythic in 2015. Her somber song about self-empowerment, “No One” reached No.6 on the US Viral Spotify Charts. Remaining true to her DIY ethos, she continued releasing music independently for six years, a video of her unreleased song “Vices” went viral on TikTok, gaining 17 million streams organically and thousands of new followers. She continued to engage her fan base with merch giveaways, music videos, and interactive releases based around mental health. In 2020, Mothica released her debut album “Blue Hour” which hit #1 on Apple Music’s pop albums. Shortly after came the EP, “Forever Fifteen” in March 2021- which tells the story of her suicide attempt at that age.
Crooked Teeth is the rock n roll brainchild of Northern California native Tyson Evans. Operating under the illusive moniker taken from a Death Cab for Cutie deep cut, Evans has perfectly incapsulated all elements of his influences under one name by bringing to the table huge pop punk riffs that sound like they belong in an early 2000’s teen movie soundtrack, lyrics that cut deep to the chest like Warped Tour faves Taking Back Sunday or Dashboard Confessional and pop melodies that could sit in top 40 radio alongside contemporaries Blackbear and Machine Gun Kelly.
Before the pandemic, Crooked Teeth spent time on the road supporting scene darlings such as Trophy Eyes and This Wild Life as well as appearances at Emo Nite, local chart topping on The World Famous KROQ and recently shared the main stage at Unsilent Night with Sleeping With Sirens, nothing, nowhere., Grandson and Nessa Barrett to name a few.
In 2022, Crooked Teeth will be releasing singles leading into his debut LP by kicking off the year with the ferocious and anthemic “I Want Out” which also features Tik Tok pop-punk faves Glimmers and Matt Copley. Following the release, Crooked Teeth will spend a month on the road on both coasts headlining shows and returning to Oakland on March 17th for a sold out show supporting Arista Records’ KennyHoopla.
NEMOPHILA’s music can be described as a mixture of various styles ranging from loud rock to grunge. The band displays a sound heavier than hell, while presenting a soft and gentle-cute character at the same time. The band aims to exhibit an unpredictable mixture in their appearance and fashion along with a positive heavy metal sound bringing a smile to everyone around the world!
SOLENCE is the musical antidote to what ails the brokenhearted and downtrodden. As they summon a soaring celebration of life-affirming positivity, the Swedish foursome’s diverse songs demonstrate the strength found in a community defined by shared passions and goals. Multi-instrumentalist melody makers bonded together at a young age in pursuit of artistic inspiration and connection, SOLENCE quickly amassed 100 million streams across all platforms. Deafening, the band’s eclectic and invigorating sophomore album, is a watershed work of possibility, perseverance, and positivity.
“In a hard rock world that can be pretty dark and depressing, we try to make things a little brighter and encourage our fans to believe in themselves,” explains frontman Markus Videsäter. To “follow your heart’s compass” is the SOLENCE mission statement, a strong sentiment shared between guitarist David Strääf, keyboardist Johan Swärd, drummer David Vikingsson, and singer Videsäter.
Is SOLENCE a hard rock band with electronic elements or an electronic band with a rock infusion? It depends on the song. Already drawing favorable comparisons to I Prevail, Palaye Royale, and Bring Me The Horizon. They developed their sizeable worldwide audience from a shared living space in Stockholm, first emerging with heavy renditions of well-known pop hits. But none of those videos were as popular as the band’s own music. In 2020, they broke into the Active Rock Radio Top 50, as “Animal in Me” (6 million views on YouTube) became the most played track on SiriusXM’s Octane.
Like 2019’s Brothers, Deafening is a massive leap forward. Imagine the aggressive but catchy wallop of In Flames masterpiece A Sense of Purpose colliding with the melody of The 1975, the pop sensibility of hitmaking maestro Max Martin, electro pulse, and a bit of Avenged Sevenfold shred. “We are still carving out our musical identity,” Markus says with excitement. There’s no singular moment for this band or, by extension, their audience. It’s all about the journey. Get ready and Enjoy the SOLENCE.
When it comes to pivotal life moments, having the mighty Nick Cave snatch a balloon out of your hands when you’re seven years old before smirkingly stomping on it is going to make you do one of two things. 1) Run off crying and forever commit to a quiet life or 2) Decide to be just like the big tall man who gets a kick out of scaring little kids. When it happened to Lia Metcalfe, she wisely decided to do the latter.
Still only 20 years old, the Mysterines’ imposing frontwoman melds together more than her lifetime’s worth of experiences with the kind of deep, impassioned vocal you won’t forget in a hurry. In her songs and stagecraft you’ll see and hear everything from PJ Harvey’s raw and ragged stomp to the crazed carnival energy of Tom Waits and eviscerating poetics of Patti Smith. The first great British rock band of the post-pandemic era, the Mysterines let us in on Lia’s unfiltered look at life, the universe and everything, complete with serious riffs and an unflinching honesty.
Though currently based in Manchester, Lia was raised in Liverpool, born to parents only just out of their teens who raised her on the road and in and out of festival VIP areas – hence that unforgettable run-in with Nick Cave. Both were – and still are – music obsessives, bringing her up to the sounds of Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, Motown classics and Bob Dylan, who remains her songwriting icon.
Lia never remembers not singing. “I didn’t really know any different,” she explains. “Growing up around someone who was always making music and always writing, it just seemed like the natural thing.” Since the start her voice was a cut above, a bassy, deep thing even when she was just a kid. But what really hooked her into making music was lyrics. “I still don’t really see myself as a singer,” she explains. “First and foremost I’m a writer, that’s my main passion.” By her early teens she was already gigging locally. At 16 she decided to throw herself fully into music. “I went to college for a month, but I got kicked out for smoking in the non-smoking area,” she shrugs. A couple of months later she was off on tour anyway with her band the Mysterines. “I never wanted to be solo,” she says. “I knew my songs weren’t gonna be acoustic, they needed to have a big and full sound behind them.” The idea of a band also fitted into a classic set-up that Lia loved. “I wanted to have a gang-like atmosphere,” she says. “I thought it was cool when Blondie and the Pretenders did that – having a woman in charge.”
The rest of the Mysterines naturally coalesced around Lia. George the bass player she met when she was 14, standing outside a branch of Home Bargains. “I thought he looked like a bass player, and he was. So he’s been with me ever since,” she explains. Lead guitarist Callum and drummer Paul she met a few years later at a Psychedelic Porn Crumpets gig in Liverpool. She’d forgotten her ID and the bar refused to serve her, despite the fact that she’d just turned 18. Callum helped her out by offering Lia a warm can of beer from out of his backpack. The rest, of course, is history.
Spending lockdown covering everything from the Waterboys to Radiohead on social media for the Mysterines’ growing fanbase, Lia showed off not just her own incredible vocal range, but also her wildly varied influences, which run the gamut from Captain Beefheart and Dua Lipa to Smokey Robinson and director Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s the darker side of things though which has always fascinated her. Her nan was the first person to give her a Tom Waits record, sensing that the young Lia would find a kindred spirit in his particular form of sonic voodoo. It almost worked. “I put it on and it scared me to death,” she laughs. “Then I tried again a few years later, and heard ‘Clap Hands’ and fell in love with it. He’s definitely had an impact on the way I execute certain things.” That moody bleakness is deep in the bones of all the writers Lia loves, from Captain Beefheart to beat poet Allen Ginsberg. “I like controversial, almost explicit stuff. People who are always trying to push boundaries and themselves,” she states. “I’m still trying to find the balance, but it’s fun to explore what I can say, stuff that’ll make people think ‘that’s hilarious but also really scary.’”
The Mysterines debut ‘Reeling’ – set for release in early 2022 – was made under the watchful eye of acclaimed producer Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, The Big Moon, PJ Harvey). Going back and forth from her west London studio, Assault and Battery, over three weeks in between lockdowns, it was recorded live to capture the intensity of the songs. “It’s a pretty ambiguous title for most people, but for me ‘Reeling’ sums up every emotion of the album in just one word,” says Lia. It also reflects the emotionally draining process of making a 13 track record, Lia’s biggest challenge to date. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she explains. “But Catherine was fucking great. She turned into one of my best friends and really just believed in me and what I wanted to execute. She was super calm throughout the whole thing. Well, until you piss her off…”
When it comes to lyrics, Lia calls her style of writing “creative divination”. She explains that her meticulously crafted songs are “either predicting something that’s going to happen or about something that already has, but in the way that Tarantino reinvents history in his own films, I’m reinventing what I would have wanted to happen.” Written just two weeks before they went into the studio, the album’s ferocious first single, ‘In My Head’ is a perfect example. “Superficially it’s a love song but really it’s a reflection of me looking at myself like Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche’ – you think he’s talking about someone who he was with and fell out of love with, but really it’s about himself.”
Grief, self-destruction and heartache run heavy through the record, but all are brought together by the blackest of humour. The dirty desert blues of ‘Life’s A Bitch’ was actually meant to be the first single, “but it turns out I say ‘bitch’ too much on it,” chuckles Lia. Other tracks run the gamut from the grunged-up country of ‘Old Friends, Die Hard’ to the giddy, free-falling ‘On The Run’, Lia’s unique take on the tale of the teenage runaways in Terrence Mallick’s iconic Badlands. Then there’s the creepy, cultish ‘Under Your Skin’, which is The Doors by way of The Manson Family and the Stooges-esque ‘The Bad Thing’, of which Lia says: “It’s the most fun to play, and the words I find really funny as well – I’m digging someone up from the grave that I used to love.”
Somewhat prophetically, Lia has already had a Number 1 album of sorts. When supporting Miles Kane in Brighton, his mate Paul Weller came down to a show. Lia and Paul bonded over the fact he had a daughter called Lia and after fish and chips on the front, he invited The Mysterines to his studio to write. Over lockdown he WhatsApped her and asked for some lyrics. The track, ‘True’, features on ‘Fat Pop’, Weller’s sixth chart-topping album. “I can’t really say it’s my Number 1 album,” offers Lia. “I’ve only got one tune on it, it’s definitely not down to me.” If you ask us, it’s more than a good start.
Ego Kill Talent
“We all develop a self-image that we want to show to the world. We make decisions and actions that feed that image and in the attempt of making it real we end up believing that is what we are. (EGO) Little by little, our frantic and desperate effort to keep this illusion gradually blinds us to what we truly are. (KILL) Our true self is a silent witness of our essence, completely independent of the character, and with full potential for anything. (TALENT)”
Google identified Ego Kill Talent’s vibrant debut album as one of the twenty (20) most relevant artists of 2017. It became a Top 50 Viral Spotify release in the UK, France, Portugal and Brazil. It also attained Spotify “Playlisting” in the U.S., Canada, France, Mexico, UK, Portugal and Spain, racking up over 20 million plays on streaming platforms.
Formed by, Jonathan Correa (vocals), Jean Dolabella (drums and guitars), Raphael Miranda (drums, bass), Niper Boaventura (guitar, bass), and Theo Van Der Loo (bass, guitars), Ego Kill Talent (an abbreviation of the saying “too much ego will kill your talent”) toured Europe for the first time in 2017, playing Download Festival Paris, the legendary Arènes de Nîmes supporting System of a Down and the iconic Melkweg in Amsterdam. In addition, performed at premiere festivals in South America, including Rock In Rio, Planeta Altantida and Santiago Gets Louder (Chile).
From the beginning the band has connected with the preeminent and iconic artists of Rock and Roll. 2018 included stadium tours with the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age in Brazil, followed by a European tour with Shinedown and another supporting the Dutch band Within Temptation.
Ego Kill Talent received great reviews from European press on each tour including a 5 “K” rating from Kerrang! UK magazine for the Download Paris performance. The Dutch press (Aardschok, 3FM and Smash Press) compared the band’s sound and performance to Foo Fighters, Stone Sour and Royal Blood.
As we roll towards 2020, the band recently wrapped their second album at the famed 606 Studios, owned by The Foo Fighters which will feature 12 tracks with special guests John Dolmayan (System of a Down), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and skateboarder Bob Burnquist (13 times X Games Champion).
EKT are also in the final stages of completing a global recording deal that will be announced shortly. The first single is slated to be released in April and full album, mid-June, 2020. Again, EKT will have the fortune of touring Brazilian stadiums with Metallica and Greta Van Fleet in April. Then, make their U.S. debut in May before heading back to Europe in June for Festival Season. Other significant happenings include joining C3 Artist Management and William Morris Endeavor for global booking.
“When Rock music is made with emotion and truth, it really touches us. I believe we have captured something that encompasses all of these feelings”, says Theo Van Der Loo regarding the messages featured within the album. “All the lyrics and musical creation are part of a questioning process. The intention is to use these questions as paths to free ourselves from anything that causes us pain”, he adds.
‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ is a snarling, swaggering arena rock album that sees St. Albans mob Trash Boat explode from the underground world of anthemic post-hardcore. “We’ve got everything to win and nothing to lose,” starts vocalist Tobi Duncan. “That’s the energy of this music.”
“I want to make everyone feel the way this album makes me feel, which is amazing” he continues. The record’s 13 thundering tracks might deal with pain, addiction, sexuality, politics and absolute fury but there’s a scrappy sense of hope to the whole thing. “It’s about bringing all these topics into the realm of the normal,” he offers, wanting to change things for the better.
Despite the attention-grabbing nature of Trash Boat’s third album, they’re not interested in just making headlines. “I want conversations,” Tobi explains and ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ is the starting point.
Formed in 2014, Trash Boat’s debut album ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through’ saw the band wanting to play as fast as possible while 2018’s ‘Crown Shyness’ expanded that world of pop-punk inspired post-hardcore. “I just love that feeling of standing in front of 1000s of people who are all there for the same reason,” says Tobi and for years, Trash Boat provided the perfect soundtrack to chaotic shows that existed “as close to violence as humanly possible while knowing that everyone is there to take care of each other”.
With countless sold-out headline tours and festival slots, “we achieved what most couldn’t,” starts Tobi. “We were very much a successful band but I think we got as far as we could go with that sort of music. And it wasn’t enough.”
Rather than a continuation, ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ is a “clean slate. We didn’t want to deviate away from what came before because we’re embarrassed. This stuff is just objectively better.” It’s not directly inspired by anything in particular but there are flashes of the music Tobi’s older brother used to play while he was driving him to school in his beat up Volkswagen Golf – Muse, System of a Down, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails. “We wanted to explore different vibes, we went with our gut and we ended up with tracks that make us feel more than anything we’ve done before.” Take the title track, a hefty, hedonistic unapologetic disco-rock song, “it’s just so groovy, thick and sexy. Every time I listen to it, I can’t believe we wrote it.”
Work started on ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ two years ago and a bulk of it was recorded during an intense two-week stint in the studio but the band were still putting the finishing touches to it when ‘Silence is Golden’ was released in April 2021.
“The whole point of this album is to be bold,” explains Tobi. They didn’t want to regress, rather forge ahead wherever the urge took them which resulted in tracks like the firestarting, nu metal stomp of ‘Alpha Omega’.
Lyrically as well, Tobi was craving a more direct path to his audience. Instead of filling the songs with cryptic metaphors and references to literature like Trash Boat’s first two records, ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing’ sees him deliberately honest, succinct and bold in three words or less.
There’s the furious ‘Alpha Omega’ featuring an appearance from rapper Kamiyada+. The track was written about an injury Tobi sustained as a 15-year-old kid that ended his dreams of being a professional athlete and left him with open nerves rubbing on bone (unfortunately as painful as it sounds). A crippling addiction to Oxytocin followed once he found out how severe and permanent the damage was. In the future, he’ll probably lose his leg and because of it, every aspect of being in this band causes him physical pain. “That song was just frustration. I want people to be able to vent in ways that they know they can’t in real life,” he explains.
With a similar explosion of pent-up rage, ‘Science Is Golden’ is an emotional reaction to overwhelming political turmoil. He doesn’t want Trash Boat to be Rage Against The Machine but “I see such blatant and disgusting infringements on human rights,” that he couldn’t stay silent. A toe in the water, “it’s an attempt to give the political element of our daily lives a bit more of a voice.”
‘He’s So Good’ on the other hand, is a “fucking cool punk rock song that just happens to be written by a bisexual man, that is unapologetically bisexual.” In interviews, Tobi will often get asked leading questions about being the victim of homophobia but, as he points out, “I’m at 6ft, 170-pound confident, white Southern English guy,” so of course he hasn’t. “I’ve walked through my life with the utmost confidence in my sexual expression. What difference does it make to anyone else on the planet how people present or who they love?”
Still, he understands that there’s not many queer frontman in rock so is happy to take on the mantel of “an LGBTQ+ punk icon, if people want to follow my energy. I’m confident that no one can tell me who to find attractive, so I’ll wave the stop giving a fuck/do whatever you want flag. I feel that’s the right way to be.”
He hopes that blistering track makes people “feel included, heard and confident in their gender expression or sexuality.” Its message of “just express yourself and do whatever you want,” is echoed across the album. As Tobi explains, “there are no rules to this game”.
‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ is a very different Trash Boat album but as with everything the band have done, it sees the band being as honest as possible. As Tobi explains, “people put on performances all the time because they know it will give them clout and money, but it’s all an act. This album is just who we are. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s vulnerable, it’s bold and it’s sexy.”
Trash Boat started in the aftermath of sweaty hardcore shows at London’s The Underworld. Tobi “saw the chaos and I was hooked.” He wanted some of the action for himself.
And while the ambition has grown, that initial spark is still the driving force behind Trash Boat. “I just want to be part of something bigger than myself, that makes it not about me,” Tobi says. “We just want to play the sweatiest, most energetic shows possible. We want to reach the biggest audience possible and we want that audience to feel something real.”
“I want ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?” to be the biggest album ever,” he continues with a grin. “I want to pack out stadiums. I want to be a big fucking rockstar… but I’m not going to change myself just to do that.”
Band-Maid are an impossibly hard rocking, 5 piece, all-female Japanese rock band formed in 2013. Don’t let their aesthetics fool you, these five “maids” are highly skilled musicians and songwriters, and their hard hitting sound, shredding guitars, pounding drums and catchy hooks have been praised by fans and media around the world. A burgeoning fan base both domestic and international has seen Band-Maid sell out multiple dates in the US, UK and Europe, and surpass 130 million total views on Youtube, including over 30 million views of YouTube reaction videos from fans around the world, blown away by the group’s level of virtuosity and musical chops. 2020 saw the release of full-length album “Unseen World, and the group made their Hollywood debut in Netflix film “Kate”, and the band continues to make strides on a global scale in 2021. The group will go on US tour in fall 2022.
Against The Current
The moment you find your voice, you step into yourself and actualize your potential. At this point, expectations no longer matter, fear disappears, and everything changes.
Against The Current not only embrace their voice, but project it louder than ever in 2020. After hundreds of millions of streams, major collaborations with the likes of Riot Games, and countless packed shows, the trio—Chrissy Costanza [vocals], Dan Gow [guitar], and Will Ferri [drums]—lift themselves up to this moment with new single “That Won’t Save Us.” Powered by a hard-hitting guitar riff, hyper-confident vocals, and an entrancing bridge, the track swings like a wrecking ball between fits of fierce vulnerability and frenetic vitality.
5 musicians from Des Moines Iowa looking for world domination. Doing the unachievable, using their new creative sound and style.
VENDED was established in February of 2018 and consists of Cole Espeland (Lead Guitar), Griffin Taylor (Vocals), Simon Crahan (Drums), Jeremiah Pugh (Bass), Connor Grodzicki (Rhythm Guitar) – With a rhythm section that uses the trifecta of speed, power and precision. Ferocious and driving guitars with soul crushing solos. Relatable vocals that portray hardships and the reality of life. VENDED has a unique sound that is the start of a new era and generation.
WELCOME TO VENDED
carolesdaughter aka Thea Taylor has already struck a chord. After buzzing with previous releases, “cold bathroom floor” and “my mother wants me dead,” carolesdaughter wrote viral success “violent” over a somber beat laden with 808s and creaky acoustic guitar. She uploaded it to Soundcloud, and it quickly racked up two million streams. Now, the track has over 230 million streams across all platforms.
carolesdaughter transmutes turbulence into strangely soothing alternative pop anthems awash in lo-fi glitch, bedroom acoustics, and gutter goth elegance. Like a fairy tale heroine with facial piercings and D.I.Y. spikes affixed to her shoes, the 18-year-old Southern California singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist born Thea Taylor immediately captivates without fear or filter. An outsider since birth, she grew up as one of 10 kids in a strict Mormon household. After seeing a tattoo of the iconic logo, she researched Black Flag online and unlocked the worlds of punk, hardcore, and goth.
Bouncing between five different high schools, she started doing drugs, falling down a rabbit hole and taking multiple trips to rehab. On the last trip, she made a promise to pursue music upon returning home and ended up making major waves with the single “violent.” Amassing millions of streams independently and landing a deal with Arista Records, carolesdaughter makes an immediate connection on a series of singles and her forthcoming 2021 debut.
Combining elements of legendary nu-metal/ hard rock groups such as Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Limp Bizkit & Korn with modern trap/ electronic elements, American rapper & producer, Mike’s Dead, has paved his own lane as a multifaceted artist. Launching his brand in June of 2018, he quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of followers across social platforms leading him to now over 1.5 million followers across platforms and 20 million independent streams.
In 2021 he joined the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Seether, A Perfect Circle, and many other legendary acts at Shelter Music Group. Shortly after, he joined the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Motionless In White, Black Veil Brides and more at Sound Talent Group – creating a promising touring year to come. With successful headlining tours under his belt and a “cult-like” fanbase at his side, we see an exciting 2022 for Mike as he rolls out his new sound & inevitably his first album (cont.) Growing up just outside of Washington D.C., he dropped out of college and at the age of 20, moved to Los Angeles to study audio engineering and music production. After years of relentless studio work, he crafted his unique sound; blending elements of hard rock with crushing bass lines and elaborate synth work. Vocally, he combines hard rap lyrics matched with raw emotion and ghostly melodies. He is “…a voice for the unheard.”
Cherry Bombs bring an entire new way to experience rock and roll music – combining daredevil arts with feminine power, fearless and dynamic performances feature dance, fire, aerial, grinding, stilt walking, and so much more.
Cutting their teeth in the world of motorcycle rallies, they soon climbed the ranks of live entertainment by being the first group of its kind to bag a national tour with Buckcherry and Black Stone Cherry in 2016. Since then, Cherry Bombs have appeared in performances and tours nationally and internationally (Stone Sour/Steel Panther, Corey Taylor, KnotFest Mexico, ForceFest Mexico, KnotFest Colombia), on television (AEW), and in numerous music videos (Corey Taylor, 21 Savage, Fozzy, Moonshine Bandits).
2019 saw the premiere of the YouTube docu-series titled, “Girl Gang”, which pulled the curtain back to reveal what it takes to put on such a unique show. The series has been met with overwhelmingly positive reception for its raw storytelling and willingness of the performers to show vulnerability. Episodes focus on the inner-workings of Cherry Bombs, including the adventures, challenges, and triumphs they experience.
Like many in the industry, the pandemic of 2020 forced Cherry Bombs to cancel their tour. However, they adapted quickly, and filmed their headlining show, “Macabarét” – a story of karma wrapped in temptation, action, and danger around every corner. This “eyegasm” of a movie was streamed worldwide and met with rave reviews, cementing it to become an annual event every October.
For 2021, Cherry Bombs will get the chance to finally tour “Macabarét”, on their first headlining run.
The new project from Maggie Lindemann, Paranoia, is the sound of an artist fully coming into her own and happily shattering all expectations. After breaking free from a challenging record deal—and enduring a terrifying incident while touring in Malaysia in 2019—the Texas-bred 22-year-old spent a year rediscovering her voice as a songwriter, flooding her lyrics with an unapologetic honesty about her anxieties, obsessions and deepest insecurities. In a dramatic departure from the crystalline pop of her 2016 multi-platinum hit “Pretty Girl,” the resulting new forthcoming EP embodies an unpredictable alt-rock sound that perfectly mirrors Lindemann’s inner world: expansive, enigmatic, wildly alive and ever-changing.
This new freedom establishes Lindemann as a self-possessed artist along with a level of creative control that extends to full ownership of her masters. Paranoia took shape from a prolonged period of playful experimentation. With the help of fellow Texas native Cody Tarpley ( Lennon Stella, flor, and Noah Cyrus), Lindemann assumes a new boldness in her sonic approach, inventively collaging together elements of music she loves most: punk, metal, and underground hip-hop with each song remaining centered on the spellbinding vocal presence she’s shown in performing with artists like Khalid and Troye Sivan. The EP also draws its dynamic energy from kinetic guitar work and ample use of live drums—a choice partly inspired by Lindemann’s collaboration with Travis Barker on her 2019 single “Friends Go.” “I couldn’t go from having Travis Barker on one of my songs to just programming all the drums,” she notes.
Lindemann’s greater clarity of vision and the decision to embrace total freedom on Paranoia was a direct response to a touring experience in Malaysia that left Lindemann feeling very vulnerable and ultimately grateful. During her first stop on a June 2019 tour, Lindemann was pulled off stage by immigration officers and taken to a nearby detention center, where she and her team were questioned regarding their lack of a professional visa pass (an oversight on the part of the venue and local promoters). After spending 24 hours in jail and five days on house arrest in Kuala Lumpur—as well as standing trial twice and facing the possibility of a five-year prison sentence—Lindemann headed back to the U.S. with a whole new perspective on the world around her. “I was born in the US, so I’ve never had to worry about the idea of being deported, like so many people who come here to start a new life,” she says. “It was an incredible eye-opening experience and taught me so much about how it feels to be helpless and to have no control. I became so grateful for what I do have and realized that I needed to embrace myself, my life and all that it has to offer.” From that point on, Lindemann decided to never again take her freedom for granted, in any aspect of her life or work.
Within a week of returning home, Lindemann came up with what would prove to be a major breakthrough in her growth as a songwriter, a gorgeously haunting track called “Different.” The song also marks Lindemann’s debut as a producer. “Different” unfolds in mercurial rhythms and gauzy guitar tones, gracefully channeling the desperation she felt in that jail cell. “I was in the studio talking about what was going through my head at the time: the feeling of panic and having no idea what was going to happen,” she recalls. “Writing “Different” was basically like a therapy session for me. It turned into this song that I loved and wanted to play on repeat the whole way home from the studio—which is something that had never happened to me before.”
From there, Lindemann moved forward with the making of a new body of work infused with a fierce, honest vulnerability. To that end, the EP takes its title from the fearful delusions she’s experienced for most of her life, a struggle she vividly documents on the EP’s lead track “Knife Under My Pillow” (co-written with acclaimed singer/songwriter Alex Lahey). “I lived in this house for a few years, and I was always paranoid that there was someone in the house with me,” says Lindemann of the song’s origins. “It was sort of driving me insane, to the point that I started keeping a knife under my pillow at night, so this song is very literal.”
While “Knife Under My Pillow” emerges as a raw but radiant piece of alt-pop, songs like “GASLIGHT!” let Lindemann’s most outrageous impulses shine. Made with boundary-breaking indie artist Caroline Miner Smith (aka Siiickbrain), “GASLIGHT!” is a thrilling collision of crushing rhythms and fuzzed-out riffs, with Lindemann and Smith delivering throat-shredding vocal performances that are massively exhilarating. Another track built on supremely heavy production, “Scissorhands” merges snarling guitar work and dizzying effects. The sonics are a hypnotic backdrop to Lindemann’s tender confession of loneliness. “I was thinking about the movie Edward Scissorhands and how he can’t get close to anyone without hurting them, how he feels like an outcast in this perfect pastel world,” she notes. And in its endless testament to Lindemann’s complexity as a musician, Paranoia also offers the heart-meltingly gentle, acoustic-guitar-driven “Love Songs.” “That one’s the most natural song I’ve ever done,” Lindemann says. “At the time I just felt like writing a love song to my boyfriend, so I went in and started freestyling. I wasn’t even thinking about putting it on the EP: it was just my way of sharing what I was genuinely feeling in that moment.”
Paranoia taps into the delicate sensibilities Maggie first started honing by writing poetry as a child. “Poetry was always really important to me, especially when I was in a dark place,” she says. “I’m a shy person, but writing about what I’m going through always helps me feel better.” A lifelong singer, Lindemann was discovered by her manager on Instagram as a teenager and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16, then made her debut with “Knocking On Your Heart”—a 2015 single that immediately shot to the top 20 on the iTunes US Alternative Songs chart. Lindemann saw her profile rise with songs like “Pretty Girl,” “Obsessed,” and “Would I,” but felt little control over the direction of her career. “I was so young and didn’t really know myself yet; I had no idea what I wanted to be,” she says. “I got stuck in this cycle of being afraid that if I didn’t do what I was told, everything would just crash and burn.”
As she shook off that fear post Malaysia, Lindemann also continued to build her name as a multi-hyphenate creator. She has launched her own fashion brand SWIXXZ (now sold via multinational skate apparel chain Zumiez), and her own podcast, swixxzaudio. The podcast is a charmingly off-the-cuff outlet for her everyday musings. “I started the podcast in quarantine because I just wanted somewhere I could talk,” she says. “It’s mostly me talking about my paranoia issues, singing songs, and sharing whatever I’m going through at the time.”
In reflecting on her creative transformation over the past year, Lindemann points to a certain paradox she found in bringing her new music to life: the incredible joy she felt in shedding light on the darkest parts of her psyche. “It’s so amazing to make something that’s authentic to who you really are, and it makes me even more excited to keep making music,” she says. As she begins to share tracks from the EP, Lindemann hopes the audience might ultimately feel the same sense of possibility she unlocked in creating Paranoia. “If people hear these songs and relate to struggling with mental illness or feeling like a loner or a bit lost, I hope it helps them feel like someone understands them,” she says. “And I hope it helps them see that things can change, and that a lot of good things can come with growing older and really starting to know yourself.”
Zeal & Ardor
Point North will embark on their debut headline tour this spring, with support from Lil Lotus, Concrete Castles, The Home Team and Cherie Amour. Fresh off support tours with A Day To Remember, Sleeping With Sirens and Stand Atlantic/The Faim, they will tour their debut LP and recent newer singles across North America from March 7th – April 12th, 2022.
Point North is building a new world, one positive, tangible action at a time. With their debut album, Brand New Vision – released in August 2020, Point North embraces an alternate reality that celebrates a break from predictability and normalcy for a world that is uncomfortable, a world that has meaning, a world in color – a place to feel something.
With standout singles including “Brand New Vision” (featuring DE’WAYNE) and “Into The Dark” (featuring Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn) – the breakout single that enjoyed weeks of airplay on Sirius XM Octane peaking at #1, Point North has showcased both the passion and unbridled energy of the journey through the honest truths, dilemmas, and hardships we face as emotional creatures.
Since the debut album release, Point North had a busy start to 2021, appearing as featured artist on singles from Kayzo x Black Tiger Sex Machine, and Two Friends. They have recently followed up with new singles of their own “Nice Now”, “Erase You” and “STITCH ME UP” which has pushed the band to over one and a quarter million monthly listeners on Spotify and over 100 million cumulative streams. The band rounded out the year supporting A Day To Remember and Asking Alexandria in sold out arenas across the US.
Point North is Jon Lundin (vocals), Andy Hershey (guitar), and Sage Weeber (drums).
New Years Day
Appropriately enough for a band named New Years Day, their stunning new Unbreakable album signifies a new outlook—as well as a high-water mark for the Cali-bred lineup. Yet it was a rocky road to Unbreakable, as singer Ash Costello explains: “If I had to look at my life like a timeline of colors, when I wrote our last album, Malevolence (2015), it was pitch, charcoal black. But in the last couple years, the band cut off toxic people, built a new business team, and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. So when we went to make Unbreakable, I wanted the process to be fun, to reflect our renewed vibe and energy,” she says. “We set out to write the poppiest metal album, or the most metal pop album.”
On Unbreakable, that mission is accomplished. It’s a dozen intense, boundary-melding songs that may touch on metal or goth, but are ultimately undeniable modern rock ‘n’ roll tunes, no-holds-barred, done the New Years Day way. The public got its first taste of Unbreakable in November 2018, with the booming, ultra-dynamic “Skeletons.” The song surpassed 1 million worldwide streams, the first proof that Unbreakable was going to be unbeatable. “Shut Up,” with ultra-melodic, breathy vocals and a hardcore message, plus the dark taunt and industrial grind of ‘Come For Me,” with its irresistible chorus, capture a young band in its creative prime, and a singer solidly in charge of her vision.
Costello, raised in Anaheim, grew up worshiping the powerful voice and presence of another local girl: No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani. Like her childhood idol, Costello was singing in bands by high school. But it wasn’t until a few years into NYD’s career that everything gelled. “I feel like New Years Day was really born when our EP Epidemic (2014) came out; it was the first taste of who we really are,” Costello says. “Everything before that feels like a different band, and technically was. Then Malevolence came out, it was sort of our punch in the dick to the music industry, and we did our first headlining tour in 2015.” Malevolence hit #45 on the Billboard 200, thanks to the radio hits “Defame Me” and “Kill Or Be Killed.” In 2017, the band headlined the Vans Warped Tour; did a month-long festival run with Halestorm; and appeared on the Punk Goes Pop compilation, covering Kehlani’s “Gangsta” from the movie Suicide Squad.
Unbreakable showcases a New Years Day stripped bare—literally. The “boys in the band” left behind their white face makeup, which all admit was somewhat of a “safety blanket.” Likewise, Costello stripped down her songwriting. “I used to think lyrics needed to have metaphorical veils and be super-dense and paint a picture but leave it up to the interpretation.” But for Unbreakable, she says with characteristic forthrightness: “I was, ‘fuck that, I’m literally going to say exactly what I want to say.’ Yeah, there’s some metaphorical stuff, but this is me moving into a more literal direction.”
Songs like “Shut Up” blend a musical vulnerability with tough lyrics, not an easy task. But thanks in part to doing covers—of Kehalni, Pantera and others—New Years Day discovered their own versatility and creativity. “We made those songs work for our band, and that was the first time I realized we could go that direction in our own writing, make the super-melodic and the dirty, ratchety stuff work together. ‘Shut Up’ was written in a day, which just doesn’t happen. I was going through some heavy personal stuff, and I was just, ‘don’t tell me what I want, shut up and give it to me!’”
If “Shut Up” was nearly instantaneous, “Come For Me” took a year to write. It’s truly a fight song– “If you have a problem with me, I’ll put you on the guest list, come for me; we’ll fight it out,” offers up Costello. But? “It also sounds dirty,” she laughs. “I’m just trying to write songs that strippers can strip to: a good beat and some sexy-ass lyrics!”
The dichotomy between Costello’s two sides—embodied in her red and black hair, and even her tattoos (one side inked, the other not) has coalesced in the songs on Unbreakable. But the painful part of the creative journey to Unbreakable began long before “Skeletons” was written. Before writing “Skeletons” in 2018, NYD did an album’s worth of songs…. then threw them out. Literally.
“It wasn’t someone who else told us they didn’t like our record. It was US, the band, saying ‘THIS IS NOT IT,’” Costello recalls. New Years Day weren’t feeling that elusive “it” midway through the process. Yet Costello “was trying to be hopeful and stick it out.” The turning point came in 2017 when NYD listened to their effort from start to finish with their old business team, and it didn’t feel good or right. So, in a moment of bravery— “a very scary moment,” NYD canned the record and their business affiliations. “I trust the universe,” says Costello. “And it took us where we needed to go. That door was meant to close that day. That group of songs are gone. But Unbreakable came out of it, and also our new label and management. “It was about taking control of our art. We did, and everything good followed.”
A couple of those good things were writers/producers Mitch Marlow (All That Remains, In This Moment) and Scott Stevens (Halestorm, Shinedown). Each were writing with Costello, but she brought the pair, who had never met, together. “Both became producers and ended up splitting the album, which is unheard of. But they were super passionate about me as an artist and the band, the record, and what we have built,” Costello says. “They fit like puzzle pieces. Marlow brings the blood and guts, Stevens the melodies. “You put the two guys together, and I’m the person who embodies both sides, musically. I’m a little horror, a little blood and guts, and a little ‘I love Mickey Mouse’ happy. It’s a little ugly, it’s a little pretty. Now the music is finally reflecting that. “
The risk New Years Day’s took has earned them copious rewards, and those “pitch, charcoal” days—which were equally daunting times for guitarist Nikki Misery and bassist Frankie Sil—are in the rear view. There were times when Costello felt she might not survive—”and it shows in Malevolence. But the past couple years, the communication among the band is incredible. We’ve got this shit. We’re tight. We’ve lifted ourselves out of the dirt.”
The reignited band unity and honesty boosted the creation of Unbreakable, resulting in an album that tough critic Misery calls “groundbreaking.” There were the times when Costello would “call Nikki or Frankie, looking for a pep talk. I don’t ever want to be stagnant; I wanted to push myself vocally, in my writing, better melodies, everything. So I put the pressure on myself.”
Misery, in keeping with his rebellious punky energy, is a “tough love kind of person.” But he had his singer’s back. “He can pick me up. There aren’t a lot of people I’ll listen to in this world; I’ve learned so much on my own, school of hard knocks, but Nikki can tell me the truth and I’ll listen,” says Costello.
Ditto Frankie, who describes two his band mates as “best friends. It’s a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards sort of relationship; they have this insane chemistry.” With lead guitarist Austin Ingerman bringing his multi-faceted musicality to NYD (he cites everyone from Randy Rhoads to Slash to Stevie Ray Vaughan as influences) the members of New Years Day finally feel “Unbreakable.” Bascially, title track says it all: “I stepped on broken glass / Walking through the past / Feeling every cut that crippled me / Been through it all before / Won’t go back anymore / I’ve gone too far … You can’t shatter me now / I’m Unbreakable.”
The Warning infuse rock music with a much-needed shot of adrenaline.The Monterrey, Mexicotrioofsisters—Daniela“Dany”[guitar, lead vocals, piano], Paulina“Pau”[drums, vocals, piano], and Alejandra“Ale”Villarreal [bass, piano, backingvocals]—charge-forward with head-spinning riﬀs, unpredictable rhythms, stadium-sizebeats, and skyscraping vocals.They stand out as the rare presenceequally at home on network television and on stage at Heaven & Hell Festival. After exploding online with one viral moment after another, The Warning par- layed this momentum into a series of independent releases, including Escapethe Mind EP, XXICentury Blood, and Queenof the Murder Scene. They graced a stacked bill at Mother of All Rock Festival as the only Mexican band and opened up two sold out Monterrey shows for The Killers and for Def Leppardin Mexico City and Guadalajara. Afterquietly amassingover 120 million YouTube views and 10 million streams, they’vealready surged to the forefront of hard rock on their LAVA Recordsdebutsingle“CHOKE”which Rightoutof thegate,“CHOKE”cracked 1 million-plus streams. Not to mention they might be the only group in history to earn the respect of legendary rock tastemaker Matt Pinfield who hosted them for an interview and their musical peers Olivia Rodrigo and Willow praised Pau’s drum coversoftheir songs “brutal” and “transparent soul” on TikTok. The Warning was selected by Metallica to cover their classic“Enter Sandman” with multiplatinum pop superstar Alessia Cara for The Metallica Blacklist that was released in September. Shortly after, the band released their LAVA/Republic 6-track MAYDAY EPon October 8th that features additional tracks“EVOLVE”,“Z”,“ANIMOSITY”,“DISCIPLE”, and“MARTIRO” (delivered in their native Spanish). In the upcoming months, they will perform at the Welcome To Rockville Festival, openfor The Foo Fighters who chose The Warning as oﬃcial support for their 60,000 person Mexico City show at Foro Sol, and a two-nights old out run at the Trouba- dourin January 2022.
Taipei Houston are a 2-piece rock band from San Francisco, featuring brothers Layne (Lead vocals, Bass) and Myles (Drums, Guitar) Ulrich. With influences spanning from Alternative, Indie and Hard Rock, the band has garnered attention for their energetic, out-of-control sound and duo live setup. After a recent move to Los Angeles, the group has been performing around the Southern California area while they record their debut album, with a release slated for Spring 2022.
Like everybody else, Crossfaith have spent a large part of the past two years disconnected from the outside world. But rather than allow the claustrophobia of global lockdowns to stifle or inhibit, they channeled their energies into productivity and artistic exploration; tunneling deep into a creative rabbit hole, Crossfaith found freedom and release in a self-created space of sonic discovery and experimentation.
“Normal life was taken away from the world; we couldn’t have the same physical connections as before, which is something of great importance to us as a rock band and as human beings too,” says vocalist Kenta Koie. “We couldn’t play live, but at least we can deliver new music to our fans and the world. I believe this period was for us to rediscover what we’ve been living with, to write music to heal, to boost people’s state of minds. We’ve been exploring new experiences and potentials of music, it’s not just about songs, but everything related to our music – each of the new songs carry a message of live life.”
The results from the rabbit hole speak for themselves: where the anthemic ‘Feel Alive’ showcased emotive power via rousing melodies and soaring synths, ‘Slave Of Chaos’ was intensity incarnate, a thundering attack on the senses. Now, latest missive ‘Gimme Danger’ is as rabble rousing as it gets, a track laden with attitude and swagger, designed to make you move.
Featuring a guest turn from rising Japanese rapper ralph, ‘Gimme Danger’ orbits a thumping groove, while ralph and Ken trade off from verbose verses to a fist-in-the-air chorus refrain. “This song is the key to unleashing instinct,” says Ken. “We have lost the physical connections that we needed to define ourselves. “I wanted to scream to the people “we are still alive, come and get up and follow your emotions to do something which can’t be judged by others!” – I hope this song will be the gasoline to roll the gears.”
Speaking of the diversity evident across this latest bend in Crossfaith’s sonic river, Ken remains defiantly optimistic in the face of ongoing uncertainties, and open to all possibilities: “We feel that we want to achieve something which we haven’t yet figured out, so our seeking new experiences and exploring of Crossfaith will keep going. We keep our minds fresh and are discovering our potential to define our new dimension. So right now, we can’t really tell what our new record will be.”
“Death is the one thing everyone’s super afraid of, but it’s the only thing we are promised. I’m choosing to celebrate it instead of being sad,” POORSTACY explains. For the South Florida native, the last few years have been some of his hardest, but they also have given him purpose and conviction like never before.
With his upcoming album Party At The Cemetery, the rock artist pays his respects to his friends who passed away. Self-admittedly, he’s lost really “all [his] original friends,” in one tragedy or another, and the music reflects that. Forged in equal parts pain, apathy and celebration, POORSTACY tells a nuanced story of life and loss with a level of understanding that can only come from someone who has seen it all.
For Stacy, born Carlito Milfort Jr., making a rock album like Party At The Cemetery is not a trend, designed for clout. In fact, he “doesn’t give a fuck” about that kind of thing at all. This is the music that soundtracked his life. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida, Stacy fell in love with music by hanging out in the crowds of local shows. “I’ve been going to shows since I was 12 or 13. Slam punk, metalcore, death metal. Lots of satanic shit. I also went to a lot of raves where there was a ton of drum and bass growing up too,” he says.
Though the rock and electronic music that he gravitated towards as a kid once seemed like two very different scenes, they both thrived on a true DIY sensibility which Stacy loved. By his late teens, he began releasing his own songs to SoundCloud, in hopes that he could capture that same DIY spirit native to South Florida. Part of the early wave of emo-rap talents on the platform, Stacy penned underground hits like “make up” which gained millions of streams and ushered the subgenre into the mainstream consciousness.
His influence on the streaming platform led him to a deal with Elliot Grainge’s 10K Projects where he began releasing songs with labelmates like producer Nick Mira of Internet Money and iann dior and other talents like Travis Barker and Whethan. With his acclaimed crossover project The Breakfast Club and single “Choose Life” (a nod to the film Trainspotting), Stacy showed his penchant for storytelling and allusion, something which he cements as one of his artistic signatures on Party At The Cemetery.
Even his name is an homage to one of his favorites (skateboarder Stacy Peralta) who inspired POORSTACY with his craftsmanship and his ability to play the long game. “Stacy Peralta himself was not shown a lot of attention at the start, but he ended up being one of the biggest legends in skateboarding in the end. I always loved the idea of that, of doing your own thing and having it pay off.” Just like Peralta, POORSTACY isn’t making music for short term accolades and fame, he’s doing this for the art and legacy of it.
With this boundless interest in pop culture and art, POORSTACY’s first fully fledged rock record Party At The Cemetery is an eclectic collage of the stories, films, friends, and subgenres that have captured his attention and inspired him throughout his life. “I want to incorporate it all into my art. I love ballet. I love Stanley Kubrick. I love Tim Burton. I love Victorian architecture. There’s so much I draw on,” he says.
What’s next for Stacy? Directing, screenwriting, and maybe even a little modeling. “I’m interested in writing films right now, and I’m directing my own music videos for the new album,” he says. For Stacy, Party At The Cemetery is a moment to stop and pay respect to his life so far and to edify it through art, but he assures that he has a lot of plans for the future. “There’s a lot more coming,” he promises.
Royal & The Serpent
The most visionary output yet from Royal & the Serpent, IF I DIED WOULD ANYONE CARE transforms one of the lowest periods of her life into a high-concept and deeply immersive body of work. “I’d been struggling with depression and feeling like there was no more purpose for me to be here, and I decided to depict that as a state of purgatory,” says Royal. “It’s a place where I’m just one step away from being able to interact with the outside world, but I’m stuck there alone and can’t connect to anyone. To me that’s a pretty strong metaphor for what depression feels like.”
Accompanied by a series of darkly cinematic and daringly morbid visuals, IF I DIED WOULD ANYONE CARE kicks off with “BETTER”—a shout-out-along-ready anthem whose opening lines perfectly embody the EP’s ultravivid confession (“I haven’t washed my hair in two weeks/Been getting mental-health texts from my friends to check if I’m alright/They never show this shit in movies”). As the six-track project unfolds, Royal explores everything from anxiety and lack of self- worth to the brutal pain of unrequited love, ultimately arriving at the defiant self-acceptance of “I’M NOT SORRY.” “That’s my ‘I don’t give a fuck anymore’ song,’” she notes. “It’s me deciding I’m just gonna be who I am, and walk through this world without caring what other people think.”
True to the wild complexity that’s always animated her music, the sonic landscape of IF I DIED WOULD ANYONE CARE shifts from frenetic and blistering to moody and delicate, tapping into such disparate genres as hyperpop, pop-punk, and experimental alt-rock. And as Royal reveals, that unrestrained sound reflects a heightened confidence in her artistry—as well as a newfound clarity on her overall mission. “Instead of making music I thought other people would like, I focused on making something I really loved,” she says. “It’s the first time I fully let my walls down and got completely honest, which hopefully is helpful for anyone who’s going through something similar.
Depression isn’t something to take lightly, and I hope these songs remind everyone to be gentle with themselves and with the people in their lives, and to take good care of each other.”
Lilith Czar arrives with the force of an otherworldly thunder, arising in visceral rebirth from an untimely grave of surrender and sacrifice. Her voice is the sound of supernatural determination, summoned with a confessional vulnerability and unapologetic authenticity. The girl who was Juliet Simms – her dreams discouraged and dismissed, her identity confined and controlled – is no more. In her place stands Lilith Czar, a new vessel forged in unbridled willpower and unashamed desire.
Her motivation is simple: if it’s truly “a man’s world”? She wants to be King.
Created from Filth and Dust, the debut album from Lilith Czar, is an evocative invitation into her bold new world. It’s aggressive music with warm accessibility; huge hooks with driving hard rock—the new larger-than-life icon channels the fierce combativeness of Fiona Apple and Stevie Nicks’ seductive witchery. Lilith Czar arms herself with sonic power, theatricality, and confidence. It’s a sound where the pulse of Nine Inch Nails, Halestorm’s songcraft, and the libertine spirit of David Bowie converge, all in service of a ritualistic ache for a more just and equitable world.
Lilith Czar is more than music. Her songs – like “King,” “Bad Love,” and “100 Little Deaths” – are anthems. She sounds both larger than life and hauntingly intimate, baring all in the ballad “Diamonds to Dust” or unleashing hell with the banshee wail of “Feed My Chaos.” As much as Lilith Czar’s music is perfectly suited for modern rock radio, it’s simultaneously timeless. Thanks in no small part to Czar’s rich voice, Created from Filth and Dust wouldn’t sound out of place in any significant rock era.
“I know who I am now, completely,” the singer declares. “I’ve found my purpose, creating art to inspire others to stand up for what they believe, to fight for their dreams, and to never give up.”
She summarizes the Lilith Czar origin story like this: “When you find yourself beaten down by the world, in those times you can either let it destroy you or let it create you.”
Created from filth and dust, destined to be King… Lilith Czar.
The atmosphere is full of chemicals and tension. Cynicism and mistrust are at a record high. The whole societal order is teetering on the brink of collapse. What better time could there possibly be for a new Ho99o9 (horror) album?
When the duo of Yeti Bones and theOGM kicked in the doors of the music industry in 2014 with an iconically off-the-rails set at the Afropunk festival, they set a noisy new standard for industrial-grade, punk-influenced hip-hop, colliding the DMX and Bone Thugs they grew up listening to in Jersey headfirst with bands like Bad Brains and the Ninjasonik that they absorbed after discovering the NYC DIY scene. With a steady stream of mixtapes, EPs, singles, and their 2017 debut LP United States of Horror, they’ve continued to raise the bar for sonic chaos, drawing critical raves, building a cultishly devoted following, and earning the respect of iconic audio anarchists like Mike Patton (who invited them to open for Mr. Bungle and Dead Cross) and The Prodigy (who featured them on the 2018 single “Fight Fire With Fire”).
In 2019, a mutual friend introduced them to Travis Barker, and a get-to-know-you studio session quickly resulted in the pummelling track “Suge Knight.” Soon after, the pandemic hit and the world turned upside down, but the trio kept working off and on over the course of 2020 and 2021, with Barker on drums and production duties. As the situation outside the studio got more tumultuous, Yeti Bones and theOGM got rawer, finding new ways to channel the rage that’s always animated their music—rage that the rest of the world was feeling more and more every day—and peeling back what little pretense they had to reveal their most unapologetically honest selves. Eventually, they realized that they had an album on their hands. Taking inspiration from an Ice Cube b-side, they named it Skin.
Skin is the sound of Ho99o9 finding new levels to their talents, then crashing through them to go even higher. It’s somehow even noisier and more aggressive than their earlier work—mosh pit music for the end of the world that keeps the needle buried deep in the red—but there’s also a fresh focus to the chaos. If listening to early Ho99o9 was like getting jumped by a mutant street gang, Skin is like facing off against a couple of martial arts masters who know precisely where to land each blow to cause maximum impact. Lead single “Battery Not Included” pivots effortlessly from breakbeat industrial mayhem to hardcore breakdown to a completely unexpected soothing interlude—before going right back to beatdown mode. The slow-grind “Speak of the Devil” spotlights the newfound emphasis on melody that the pair bring to the table. The album also brings together Yeti Bones and theOGM with some of their biggest influences and most illustrious supporters: “Slo Bread” sends Houston rap into a nightmarish new dimension with help from H-Town trailblazer Bun B; “Skinhead” brings together street punk and poet Saul Williams; and the merciless “Bite My Face” gets a brutal vocal assist from Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor.
Skin is a searing document of a world on fire, distilling all of the turbulence and free-floating confusion and anxiety of our present moment into 12 tightly wound tracks that signal a new era for Ho99o9 and the sonic movement they’re spearheading. If it doesn’t make you want to throw a brick, start a riot, and burn the whole system to the ground, you’re not awake.
The songs we can’t stop singing last forever. They soundtrack life’s most important moments and stay with us through good times and bad.
Los Angeles alternative rock band Dead Sara set out to write those kinds of songs on their 2018 EP and first release for Atlantic Records, Temporary Things Taking Up Space. The trio —Emily Armstrong [vocals and guitar], Siouxsie Medley [lead guitar] and Sean Friday [drums]— doubled down on the brash and bluesy bravado that made them a fan favorite, while sharpening the songcraft to knifepoint precision and simultaneously widening the sound’s scope.
“You listen to some songs and think, ‘Oh my God, I want to hear that again’,” says Armstrong. “After ten years of doing everything on our own, we’ve learned so much. However, we were stuck in our ways- the way we’d always done things. Why should anything be off limits? I realized we’d been too afraid, and I was hiding in my own world. I’m ready to open that world up. When we started scaring ourselves, it was the best thing possible. For the first time, I was exposing myself lyrically in a way that I’d never done before. We got more vulnerable overall. Then again, isn’t that what songwriting is all about?”
“We took the time to figure out what we wanted and how to grow as individuals,” elaborates Medley. “Then, we did that.”
Most importantly, Temporary Things Taking Up Space marks a natural step. Since the release of their 2012 self-titled debut, Dead Sara have quietly carved a foothold at the forefront of the 21st century rock vanguard through a one-two punch of raucous riffing and sky-high vocals. Along the way, the musicians earned high-profile fans such as Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick who namechecked them in The Wall Street Journal, Muse’s Matt Bellamy who invited them on tour, and Dave Grohl who proclaimed, “Dead Sara should be the next biggest rock band in the world.” Between releasing their acclaimed 2015 sophomore offering Pleasure to Meet You and endless touring, they repeatedly lit up the small screen, performing on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and during an episode of The Vampire Diaries.
In hindsight, it feels as if everything was building towards Temporary Things Taking Up Space.
“We started to open up a new chapter,” comments Friday. “We were bringing in so many different sounds.”
“Oh boy, I believe this has been a long time coming,” exclaims the frontwoman. “We had the energy, we had the passion, and we had the love for music. We were missing that one thing. We had to change in order to find it.”
Embracing an adventurous spirit, the group’s process started morphing in 2016. Rather than hit the studio with loose ideas to quickly cobble together an album, they dedicated nearly a year to writing and perfecting the new music. Another first, they welcomed collaborations with writers such as Simon Katz, and Tommy English, while enlisting Tony Hoffer [Beck, M83, Air] as producer. Musically, they further incorporated synthesizers and electronic percussive elements, confidently expanding the sonic palette.
“We went outside of the box in the approach to this EP,” Medley remarks. “The creative process was definitely different from what we’ve done in the past. We tried every avenue and didn’t limit ourselves in any way. We tried more synths and programming—which Sean really drove.”
“We’ve never spent this much time writing,” Armstrong continues. “I stopped taking work. I stopped everything. I decided the only way this was going to happen was if I dedicated my all to it. I was obsessed. I just wanted to get better. It opened the floodgates. It’s a bridge to what’s next for Dead Sara.”
“We devoted a month to hashing out the songs and making them the best they could be,” adds Friday. “In addition to the synths, we tried a lot of direct-input guitars to make it sound really gritty. It’s tighter. With all of that experimentation, we went into the studio.”
The trio ignites this next chapter with the 2018 single “Anybody.” Propulsive guitars curl around an arena-ready beat punctuated by heavenly synths programmed by Friday before the seismic refrain, “Come on and touch me. Do I belong to anybody?”
“I was going through a breakup,” recalls Armstrong. “The world seemed like it was imploding. Donald Trump had just gotten in. It was as if everything shifted. I felt like I didn’t belong. There was nothing I could hold onto, grab, or be a part of. Life went dark. We captured something really raw in the moment.”
“Siouxsie added these really cool guitar parts to it,” recalls Friday. “We built it organically like most of this material.”
Elsewhere on the EP, an arsenal of Medley’s vintage guitars wail wildly on the stomping shuffle of “Heaven’s Got A Back Door” before spiraling into a cathedral-size chant.
Thinking “What would Keith Richards do?” (after a few tequila shots), “UnAmerican” sarcastically skewers stereotypes with lyrical barbs, a lively scream, and a clever and catchy chorus explosion, “I guess I’m UnAmerican.”
The spacey six-string echo of “What It Takes” resounds as Armstrong delivers one of her most personal performances to date.
“‘What It Takes’ is essentially about coming out,” she states. “That’s something I was never able to speak on. I was living this life where I felt like if I said something I was going to die, but by not saying anything, I was already dying. Again, I was scaring myself with this song. It’s about realizing that it’s ok to just be yourself, because honestly, nobody really cares but you.”.
In the end, Dead Sara unleash a body of work befitting their ambition, drive, and decade-plus grind.
“We finally have the music we’ve been looking for,” Armstrong leaves off. “We rebuilt everything to get here. There’s a lot of growth. Now, it’s so exciting to see how this unfolds. I think we can reach a whole new level with these songs.”
Some buildings have a soul. They breathe and sweat and pulsate, holding memories and stories and songs and laughter in their walls. RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee, is such a place…
The photos on the walls of the ‘Music City’ recording facility testify to its illustrious history, with Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, architects of rock‘n’roll and country music, smiling down upon visitors. Elvis and The Beach Boys recorded here, as did B.B. King and The Monkees, and Joe Cocker and Tony Bennett. In 1973, Dolly Parton recorded ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ in the 5,000-square-foot studio in a single day.
For Airbourne to bowl up to 30 Music Square West in April of this year with no songs cast in stone, just a pocketful of riffs and a burning desire to make the truest rock‘n’roll record of their 16 year career, took a certain chutzpah, then, and a lot of balls. But history shows Airbourne never have backed down from a challenge…
In the early days, in their native Australia, Joel & Ryan O’Keeffe’s band would load their guitars and amps and drums into a station wagon and drive for 24 hours to play in the sort of bars where the patrons had prison tattoos, more fingers than teeth, and a dangerous lack of interest in having their drinking time spoilt by strangers. The boys would inevitably be met at the venue doors by a man whose only records were criminal ones…
“We’d be told, ‘If you guys are gonna make a heap of noise I better fucking like it!’” Joel once recalled. “These were the kind of people who wanted a good Saturday night, and if they didn’t get it, there was gonna be trouble.”
It was a tough apprenticeship, but it instilled a fearlessness and a focus in the O’Keeffe brothers. Their dream of escaping their hometown of Warrnambool, Victoria, was underpinned by one simple motto: Rock‘n’Roll For Life.
It was their unshakeable allegiance to this basic credo that brought Joel & Ryan O’Keeffe, Matthew Harrison and Justin Street to Nashville in early spring 2019. Waiting for them in RCA Studio A was six-time Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb. Best known for his work with country superstars Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile and Sturgill Simpson, Cobb had, for some time, been itching to record a full-tilt, earth-shaking, balls-to-the-wall hard rock band, the kind of band which had set his pulse racing as a teenager growing up in Savannah, Georgia. Within minutes of Airbourne setting up in his studio, the 45-year-old producer knew he’d found his men.
“Cobb is a rock ‘n’ roller at heart,” says Joel. “When he was growing up, he was learning the same AC/DC and Led Zeppelin riffs that I was learning growing up, on the other side of the world. He was adamant that he wanted to make a pure rock‘n’roll record, which is exactly what we were there to do. We really wanted to work with a producer who could bring out something different in the band. He was our dream choice.”
Cobb’s vision for the album was breathtakingly simple: to tap into the spirit, energy and excitement of vintage rock‘n’roll recordings; to get Airbourne to write and record an album right off the studio floor. In the Australian quartet’s catalogue – from their 2008 debut Runnin’ Wild, via 2010’s No Guts. No Glory. and 2013’s Black Dog Barking, through to 2016’s Breakin’ Outta Hell – he heard a band in the grand tradition of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Motörhead, and The Who, a death-or-glory rock‘n’roll outfit with fire in their collective belly.
The mission for the weeks ahead, therefore, was to fully capture this raw, feral, live energy on tape: to make a completely unfiltered, unprocessed, uncompromised, pure fucking rock‘n’roll record. The band had barely unpacked and plugged in before their new producer informed them that he had the tapes rolling…
“Normally, In the past, it’d take us three weeks to get a guitar tone,” laughs Joel, “but with Dave, we got into the room and it was, ‘OK, let’s go!’ He wanted to make a record the way that records were always done in the old days in that studio.
There’s a reason he has all those platinum discs on his walls, and that reason is that there’s no-one better at capturing raw performances. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a craft that’s been lost in so many modern recordings. He wanted old school, one take recordings, no messing. He told us that’s where the true magic is.”
Cobb’s methodology took some adjusting to. Ryan laughs as he recalls how, at the end of one take early in the sessions, he confessed to speeding up in a track’s pre-chorus only to have the producer respond with one word: “Good!”
“I said, ‘What do you mean, good?’ And he said, ‘No, that’s great, that’s how it is, it’s real, that’s the take’. He’d bring us into the control room and play back the track and it would sound amazing. We’d be like, ‘How did you get that?’ And he’d say, ‘You played it, not me’. We had to learn to trust ourselves as much as he trusted us. It was cool, like having a fifth member of the band.”
As the sessions progressed, Airbourne began to get more comfortable with their new working methods. Songs were constructed from the ground up, the musicians playing on instinct and intuition, all in one room, locked into a single groove. Joel would use a hand-held mic to record his vocals, screaming over the PA, his voice bleeding into the sounds shaking Studio A’s walls. They knew they were getting somewhere when, during one particularly intense take, Cobb cut the sound and screamed, “You guys were built to rock!”
The result of this creative collaboration is ‘Boneshaker’, the most immediate, visceral, spontaneous and thrilling album of Airbourne’s career. 10 songs in 30 minutes, raw, alive and bristling with attitude and intent.
From the thunderous opening riff of the title track through to the raucous, roaring, bad bad boogie of ‘Rock‘n’Roll For Life’, it’s a celebration of life lived loud – no shame, no surrender, no regrets, no wasted moments. There’s lust and aggression and rage and defiance, tales of messy nights and broken hearts, excess and abandon, brotherhood and love and community. If you listen closely, you might even detect a little country ‘n’ western twang in ‘Burnout The Nitro’.
Joel has never been one to explain his lyrics (“We want people to hear the songs and make up their own mind and create their own memories as to what they’re about rather than us guiding their listening”), but titles such as ‘Sex To Go’, ‘She Gives Me Hell’ and ‘Backseat Boogie’ shouldn’t require too much decoding.
‘This Is Our City’, a love song of sorts to the band’s old stomping ground, Melbourne, finds the vocalist singing “Shout it out, scream it loud. Turn it up, rock the house!” Back when they shared a house in the city, the O’Keeffe brothers would watch classic AC/DC and Iron Maiden and Metallica videos and wonder where things had gone so badly wrong in modern rock.
Their solution was to play the kind of music they wished they could hear, rock music delivered from the fucking heart. And with Boneshaker, the quartet have finally made an album that sounds exactly like the music in their heads. Dave Cobb wanted to title the end result ‘This Is A Real Fucking Rock‘n’Roll Record’, but he’ll have to settle for that being the sticker…
One thing is certain: Boneshaker is the sound of a mission accomplished for both band and producer.
“We’re not in the music business, we’re in the Airbourne business,” says Joel with a laugh. “As kids, Ryan and I had one dream – to be the best rock‘n’roll band in the world, and to travel around the globe proving that night after night after night. There was never a Plan B. And now we’re doing it, and we’re fucking loving it. The last song on the album says it all. Rock‘n’Roll For Life. For us, there is no other life.”
Amigo the Devil
On his new album Born Against, Amigo the Devil – the artistic moniker of Danny Kiranos — has established himself as a multifaceted artist with a kaleidoscopic vision. The new record follows Kiranos’ beloved 2018 debut Everything Is Fine, an album that was chock full of violence, mayhem, and despair — and one that augmented his long-gestating cult following. Kiranos’ new collection of songs reveals him to be more than a one-trick pony stylistically as he opens up the creative channels and delves deeply into thematic and musical influences as august as Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Fiona Apple.
“Every new record is an opportunity to sit and think about how much has changed in your life and the world around you,” Kiranos says. “It’s a new opportunity to bring in both new and old influences. I really wanted to dive into ideas that I’d either been avoiding or ignoring within myself and figure out ways to align them with music I grew up listening to. Influences that may have been set aside in our older recordings.”
Kiranos, who grew up in Miami in a multicultural household but now lives in Austin, decamped to Dallas to record the album at the venerable Modern Electric Studio with Beau Bedford (Texas Gentlemen). This marked the first time Kiranos had explored some of the world music he’d had long loved, including Eastern European folk and Australian country (“It has such an amazing sound to it,” he says of the
honky-tonk of Down Under. “The rhythms are so dry and brutal.”) Kiranos felt Bedford was the only producer who could draw those sounds out of him. Together they entered the studio with merely the skeletons of the songs Kiranos had written. One by one, they fleshed them out in wildly inventive fashion. To say they threw the kitchen sink at this album would be an understatement; these guys threw the whole damn shack. From plucking the strings on the back of the piano to dropping heavy objects on the floor to create odd-sounding crashes, clicks and clacks, Kiranos doesn’t deny there was a bit of Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits worship involved.
As for the songs themselves, Born Against finds Amigo the Devil embracing a more widescreen narrative form in his writing, moving slightly away from the dark-night-of-the-soul diaristic tone of the first album. Whether it’s getting revenge on a daughter’s murderer, a final love letter from a death-row inmate, or an ode to one’s own flaws and mortality, the songs on Born Against pack an emotional wallop and manage to accord dignity to the darker aspects of humanity some of us would rather turn our eyes from. But at the end of the day, Kiranos understands that’s it’s stories – even the darkest of ones – that connect us through it all. And he’s worked hard to get better at telling those stories.
“It’s been a goal to become more efficient writing songs,” Kiranos says, adding that “this was a very conscious attempt to promote imagery over sentiment.”
Once Covid began to take root, Kiranos says the pangs of cabin fever set in. His entire professional life over the last decade has revolved around touring, and he was feeling boxed in. He was suffering creatively and having trouble tapping into the old wellsprings that had previously birthed songs. Writing in the third person allowed him to immerse himself in other characters’ stories, which he presents on the record in first-person for more immediate effect. These are vivid, sepia-toned snapshots of lives on the brink. Mini-movies, if you will. And they have a horrifying familiarity in the year that was 2020.
“There was a girl at the bar/ She overdosed in a photo booth/ Nobody found her body until last call/ The pictures all showed her terrified and a loner/ while everyone cried what a great friend she was,” Kiranos sings on “Quiet As A Rat.”
The new writing approach proved to be fruitful, and one Kiranos hopes his fans will embrace. Since he began touring nearly ten years ago (often playing sets in bathrooms at music festivals), Amigo the Devil has steadily amassed a fanbase whose devotion to his music is unstinting. Kiranos says he knows of 1,200 fans who have Amigo the Devil tattoos. There is also a Facebook group that grew out of his coterie of fans that has now become a sort of community support forum for those suffering from things like mental illness, addiction, and grief. “The energy my fans bring to the shows is incredible, and the fans are what make the shows good. Sometime, I can’t even hear myself over the system because [they’re singing the lyrics so loud].”
As is the case with any artist who has great success with a certain sound or specific album, making a shift to something new can prove daunting. But it’s a step Kiranos feels he has to take as an artist. “I hope this album can start to shift the lyrical expectations and people just don’t consider me ‘the death guy’ and ‘the serial killer guy,’ and that people can start to see different avenues and opportunities. I hope it opens up the project of Amigo the Devil so that people understand it’s not a specific sound-based project, and that we can go in different directions and it’s okay.”
The artistic strength of Born Against let us know that Kiranos’ new direction is more than “okay.” It’s a major mile-marker for a creative soul whose work will only continue to evolve and grow.
For the past 20 years, the Queens-based, BAYSIDE, has represented a lifestyle, a counterculture, and a deeply held conviction, diverse in thought and background but united by a shared desire for authentic expression. At their core, BAYSIDE is a band that has constantly proved that music is not about gimmicks and ephemeral trends, but a timeless reflection of our lives and our times. It is through this timelessness and consistency that BAYSIDE continues to cultivate a cult-following that lives and breathes everything the band creates.
After 2018’s hugely-successful melody/arrangement-driven, acoustic album and tour, Acoustic Volume 2, BAYSIDE explored what a BAYSIDE song could be. These weren’t “stripped down” versions of BAYSIDE songs so much as they are completely new discoveries, refashioned and broadened by possibility. The shows were not “quieter” or “mellow” affairs, but raucous sing-alongs that stretched the bands’ musicianship and vocal chords and invigorated the band as they headed the studio to record their eighth studio full-length, Interrobang.
Interrobang is a punctuation mark that combines an exclamation and a question mark. For Anthony Raneri, BAYSIDE’s frontman/lead vocals/guitar, the title represents the feelings the album invokes from the listener. “We wanted the record to feel exciting and new, but also sound like a natural progression for the band,” Raneri explains, “We just wanted to keep the listener on their toes – there is a ton of information being thrown out – and if you want to take it all in – you can’t stop paying attention for a second.” The result is the heaviest rock album of the band’s career juxtaposed with the most catchy, melodic hooks the band’s ever created.
On the title track, “Interrobang,” Raneri along with lead guitarist Jack O’Shea, bassist Nick Ghanbarian, and drummer Chris Guglielmo focused on opening the album with a song that was equal parts exciting/fun and wild/unpredictable. “It has always been important to us to sound like Bayside, but always shake it up with each record. We tried to think outside the box and take things further, Raneri adds. With big echo-y rock drums and a classically haunting guitar solo, the song spins the listener in a few different directions, while planting its feet firmly with Raneri’s smooth vocals.
Working with acclaimed producer, Cameron Webb (NOFX, Motorhead, Alkaline Trio), BAYSIDE embraced the eclectic resume of Webb and pushed the boundaries of what a Bayside song could sound like. “Cameron (Webb) has worked with a really wide range of artists, from NOFX and Lagwagon to Kelly Clarkson to Motorhead and Megadeth,” Raneri shared, “We thought it would be perfect to work with (him) because we see ourselves as sitting somewhere in between all of those artists.”
BAYSIDE has always focused on creating songs that are relevant to people who want substance, rather than being relegated to one genre. With Interrobang, the band has put together an eclectic, inspiring, and bold collection of songs. Raneri shares, “Love it or hate it, we wanted the record to invoke something in people. We said with this record we either wanted to create something great or fall on our faces. Negative or positive, we just didn’t want the record to be ‘fine.’” While many bands would coast on their past success, BAYSIDE rejects the premise and proves with Interrobang, that the best is yet to come.
Formed in their mate’s bong shed in Coolum, Queensland 2016 at age seventeen, The Chats represent everything that’s good about Australia and nothing that’s bad: a rebel spirit, gallows humour and the endless hedonistic pursuit of A Bloody Good Time. Cold stubbies within close reach, 24-7.
Starting in their music class while at St Theresa’s Catholic College in Noosaville, a suburb of Noosa, Queensland, two hours north of Brisbane, they began practicing in the shed in nearby Verrierdale (pop: 775) during their final year of education (the school’s website notes “Whilst their music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they have certainly made an impact, and they continue to Dare the Dream.”). Their name meanwhile comes from the nearby suburb of Chatswood.
Drawing influence from the same fertile Australian pub rock scene that spawned everyone from AC/DC and The Saints to Cosmic Psychos and The Hard Ons, and sharing a similar singular self-contained approach to their art as such latter-day Aussie rock heroes as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Chats describe themselves as “dropkick drongos from the Sunshine Coast of Australia”. It’d be difficult to argue otherwise.
Their dress-down image of mullets, shorts, sports tops, thongs or a sandals-and-socks combo, and cheap sunnies celebrates this fact. But don’t by mislead: The Chats are sharper than you think, and they write killer songs that hold their own in any era. Their self-titled debut EP was recorded in their school’s studio in 2016 and featured seven joyous sky-punching tracks that combined 60s garage punk and 70s new wave punk (highlights included ‘Mum Stole My Darts’ and the 53 seconds bratty thrash of ‘Yeah Nah’). It was followed in 2017 by Get This In Ya, another thrilling seven song slice of economic, stripped-down, early Buzzcocks-styles punk tension, whose lyrics read like a litany of things to hate for youthful malcontents the world over (overdue social security payments, lack of bus fare, Nazis).
But where their forefathers cut their teeth on the spit-and-sawdust circuit of beer halls Down Under, The Chats bypassed years driving down dusty Outback roads when the lead single ‘Smoko’ became a 24-carat bona fide viral hit on Youtube. The Chats found themselves propelled from their Queensland shed to almost overnight renown in all the right circles.
Celebrating the great Aussie tradition of the cigarette break, an allotted smoking time protected by union law, and accompanied by a lo-fi video shot for no budget on a building site, ‘Smoko’ was a perfectly put together punk song protesting the drudgery of dole queue angst, minimum wage life and work-place hierarchies. Were they serious? wondered listeners / viewers. And, more importantly, who even cares? It didn’t matter: with its pared-down pop hooks, singer Eamon’s adolescent snarl and an unforgettable chorus, ‘Smoko’ was an instant classic of a youth anthem on a par with ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘My Generation’ or ‘Teenage Kicks’.
At the last count ‘Smoko’ has had more than 12 million views. Dave Grohl loved it so much he sent it to Josh Homme, who immediately booked the band to support Queens Of The Stone Age in Australia. Iggy Pop did the same when he played Melbourne, and keenly quizzed the band on their lyrical content. Idles were heard covering on the song on their recent Australian tour. At the time, singer Eamon was working at supermarket chain Coles. Adhering to the mantra ‘Business at the front, party at the back’ he currently maintains his mullet by trimming the front himself every couple of weeks, while his mum handles the rest of the tricky business. Drummer Matt, who was expelled from school for joyriding a golf buggy, is a professional skater.
In October 2018, The Chats brought their pub-punk (they prefer ‘shed rock’) to the UK, where all their shows sold out within a day and were immediately upgraded, including a memorable show at the Electric Ballroom, London, where they were joined onstage by Charlie Steen from Shame. Not bad considering the teenagers had never left Australia before. With two hundred gigs under their belts, The Chats began 2019 by signing a publishing deal with Universal Records and started their own label records, Bargain Bin Records
More music followed: single ‘Do What I Want’ (“about doing whatever the fuck you want”) and the glorious follow-up ‘Pub Feed’ (a paean to “above average” pub food, including “chicken schnitty”, “parmigiana” and “rump steak – well done”) in 2019, a song that seems destined to take up residence in punk jukeboxes the world over. The Chats document the simple things in life, with songs that transcends language to tap straight into the youthful energy source. It’s a tricky artform that many attempt but at which few succeed. Still in their teens, The Chats have mastered it.
Mozart began composing at the age of four, but these boys were born singing anthems, and their debut album seems destined to be the greatest collection of music ever made, not only in Coolum, Queensland, but the entire universe. Every other musician should probably give up today.
Helmet is an American alternative rock band from New York City formed in 1989 by vocalist and lead guitarist Page Hamilton. Since 2010, the band has consisted of Hamilton, drummer Kyle Stevenson, guitarist Dan Beeman and bassist Dave Case.
Helmet has released eight studio albums and two compilation albums. After releasing their debut album, Strap It On (1990), on Amphetamine Reptile, Helmet signed to Interscope Records and released three albums for the label, including the highly successful Meantime (1992), Betty (1994) and Aftertaste (1997). Helmet broke up in 1998, but reformed in 2004, and has since released four more albums ― Size Matters (2004), Monochrome (2006), Seeing Eye Dog (2010) and Dead to the World (2016).
In June 2021 the band released via their website only a limited edition box set entitled “Move On” featuring 4 x 7” singles including the following covers and live tracks:
Move on (David Bowie) w/ More Bad News live
Mercy (Wire) w/ Rollo live
ETI (Blue Oyster Cult) w/ Blacktop live
I’m only sleeping (The Beatles) w/ Crisis King live
Crown The Empire
A sweeping self-awareness and expansive creativity are at the heart of CROWN THE EMPIRE, the modern post-metalcore anthem makers who embrace their dirty rock roots and
stadium-ready melodies with bold courage. Swift to adapt to the rapidly mutating landscape yet steady in their convictions, Crown The Empire were born in the belly of new technology, generating songs and music videos online before they’d even played a show.
Now of course their stage performances are the stuff of subculture legend and electric buzz, crisscrossing the globe in clubs, theaters, festivals, and the Vans Warped Tour, with elaborate high-energy showmanship in spades. What began as high-school pals posting clips on YouTube has grown to over 60 million views on the platform alone; endless streams of songs like “Machines,” “Retrograde,” “Hologram,” and “Voices”; and several Billboard 200 accomplishments, including a Number 1 debut on the Top Rock Charts.
Alternative Press anointed them as Best Breakthrough Band and with good reason. Praised enthusiastically as “thrilling,” “progressive,” and “dynamic,” by tastemaker genre publications like Rock Sound, Kerrang! and Outburn (who, like AltPress, put the band on their cover), Crown The Empire climbed to the top of an emergent style by jettisoning the scene’s most formulaic traits.
As the roadmap for garage bands all but disappeared, Crown The Empire brazenly chose their own path, driven with inspired purpose and identity. Across three full-length albums – The Fallout (2012), The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways (2014), and Retrograde (2016) – Crown The Empire challenge convention placing equal emphasis on grandiose theatricality and dirty grime. Even their colorful clothing put them at invigorating odds with their peers and friends on the touring circuit, injecting whimsical anarchy into the hegemony.
These are musicians inspired as much by classic movie filmmakers and prestige television as Linkin Park, Slipknot, and My Chemical Romance, the sum total of their sonic, visual, and lifestyle experience. A cinematic sensibility permeates each chapter in the band’s story, from the epic thematic darkness of their earlier work to the sci-fi dystopian ambience of new songs like “20/20.”
Borderline industrial, yet far from mechanical, Crown The Empire are the musical equivalent of a practical effects driven film that knows when and where to use digital enhancements without sacrificing its raw authenticity. Unrelenting energy collides with sonic adventure to make captivating songs.
This is a musical collective grappling with life’s bigger mysteries, the quest for knowledge and meaning, and an urgent examination of the decisions that led humankind here. This band of brothers have reached a level of nonverbal communication on stage, the type of rapport shared only by true sojourners.
Even with these heady aspirations, Crown The Empire never forgets the celebration. Everything the band has poured into the living, breathing, evolving entity they’ve created live and in the studio amounts to a cathartic, revelatory experience for the group’s members and the audience they share.
Super-intense and high-energy songs will always remain a part of the Crown The Empire mission statement. There are no pretensions, no “sellouts,” no concessions to falsely inflated expectations beyond their own creative ambition. It’s a journey that’s been marked by growth at every turn, coalescing into the modern incarnation of Crown The Empire, a band that’s built to last.
A Thursday Afternoon Gloating:
• 1998 Thursday got together.
• 1999 Thursday got recorded.
• 2000 Thursday got wheels.
• 2001 Thursday got big.
• 2002 Thursday got sold.
• 2003 Thursday got War.
• 2004 Thursday got wings.
• 2005 Thursday got wiped.
• 2006 Thursday got weird.
• 2007 Thursday got dropped.
• 2008 Thursday got cultured.
• 2009 Thursday got Common.
• 2010 Thursday got soft.
• 2011 Thursday got stressed.
• 2012 Thursday got split.
• 2013 Thursday got sick.
• 2014 Thursday got lost.
• 2015 Thursday got found.
• 2016 Thursday got reunited.
• 2017 Thursday got reinvited.
• 2018 Thursday got celebrated.
• 2019 Thursday get relocated.
– — — – — – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
• 2020 Thursday got front-lined.
Cell-0 represents the core of everything. For us it is a particle that symbolizes the essence of all. That is to say, where everything comes from and where everything ends up…” Apocalyptica are true explorers, always seeking new frontiers and uncharted territories in which to express themselves. With Cell-0, their 9th studio album, the ambitious and electric quartet have not simply returned to their non-vocal roots, they have traveled deeper and further into the universe of instrumental music than ever before. That first love and passion which fueled Apocalyptica to form during 1993 in Helsinki now carries richer layers of knowledge and experience, which in turn have led to the band to a fundamental realization and creative path.
Rebellion needed a soundtrack. It got that and a whole lot more from FEVER 333. Rallying around a mission of “art as activism” in 2017, the group first publicly assembled with an unpermitted D333MONSTRATION in front of a South Central Los Angeles landmark—ducking out before the cops came, but leaving a mark on the streets of their hometown. Shockwaves rippled through the culture. The title track of their MADE AN AMERICA EP scored a 2019 GRAMMY® Award nod in the category of “Best Rock Performance.” Their full-length Roadrunner Records/333 Wreckords Crew debut LP, STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS, toppled 60 million total streams. KERRANG! christened it, “The best debut album of 2019,” honored the group with “Best Song” at the 2019 KERRANG! Awards, and included them on a cover alongside Metallica, Jimmy Page, Ghost, and Skunk Anansie. Not to mention, they have collaborated with everyone from POPPY to RUN-D.M.C. and Vic Mensa. In addition to selling out headline D333MONSTRATIONS everywhere, they ignited the stages of Lollapalooza South America, AfroPunk, Reading, Download UK, Download AU, Park Live Moscow, and Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival. Standing up alongside the people, they regularly participate in activism with a focus on community, charity, and change. FEVER 333 vocalist Jason Aalon Butler created the Walking In My Shoes Foundation to benefit organizations that generate empathy, understanding, and change within the communities they serve, including Movement Voter Project – Black Voter Fund, United For A Fair Economy, and Mijente Support Committee. Following the tragic murder of George Floyd, Jason spent 13 days in the streets as he marched on the frontlines of rebellion in L.A. On the 14th day, he came home and wrote what would become the 2020 EP, WRONG GENERATION.
Some musicians take a while to build an audience and connect with fans. For the Los Angeles-based quartet Dirty Honey, success came right out of the gate. Released in March 2019, the band’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” became the first song by an unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Their second single, “Rolling 7s,” went into the Top 5 and was still headed up when COVID changed everything. That same year, Dirty Honey opened for The Who, Guns ’N Roses, Slash, and Alter Bridge and was the “do-not-miss-band” at major rock festivals such as Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, Heavy MTL, and Epicenter. On its first U.S. headline tour in January and February 2020, the band sold out every date.
When it came time to record its self-titled full-length debut album, the band—vocalist Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone—wasn’t about to mess with what was already working. Teaming up with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), who also produced the band’s 2019 self-titled EP, Dirty Honey again captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound.
“As a guitarist, I’m always inspired by the everlasting pursuit of the perfect riff,” says Notto. “I also wanted to extend the artistic statement that we had already made. We weren’t looking to sound different, or prove our growth, necessarily. It was more about, ‘Oh, you thought that was good? Hold my beer.'”
“Because of the pandemic,” added drummer Coverstone, “we had a lot more time to write and prepare, which was great. It meant that we were able to workshop the songs a lot more, and I think it really made a difference.”
Dirty Honey’s album indeed builds on the band’s output to date, with airtight songwriting that plays up their strengths: sexy, bluesy, nasty rock’n’roll, melodic hard rock, and soulful 70s blues-rock. On “The Wire,” LaBelle reaffirms his status as one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists, while “Another Last Time” is a raunchy, timeless ballad about a toxic relationship that you just can’t stop saying goodbye to. “Tied Up” and the album’s lead single “California Dreamin,’’ both feature smoking guitar solos bookended by massive riffs and hooks.
“‘California Dreaming’ was the last song we wrote,” said bassist Justin Smolian. “We finished it about two weeks before we recorded it, so the song was still so new, and we were trying out different things, so every take was a little different. But there was that one where we just captured it, and it was magic.”
Although each band member started playing music as kids—at the age of eight, Notto’s parents even bought him a red-and-white Stratocaster—each one brings eclectic influences to Dirty Honey’s sound. For example, drummer Coverstone has studied with jazz and L.A. session drummers but loves heavy metal; Notto grew up listening to ’70s funk and R&B as well as rock ‘n’ roll, and bassist Smolian has a bachelor of music in classical guitar and loves Tom Petty and The Beach Boys.
LaBelle meanwhile, takes cues from his songwriting idols (to name a few, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and the late Chris Cornell) when coming up with lyrics. As a result, the songs on the Dirty Honey album hint at life’s ebbs and flows—shattering heartbreak, romantic connection, intense soul-searching—while giving listeners space to draw their own conclusions.
“Sometimes, if you just let lyrics pass behind your ears, they sound like cool shit is being said,” LaBelle says. “And then once you dive in, you realize, ‘Oh, that’s really thoughtful.’ But it still doesn’t have a meaning that’s easy to pinpoint. There’s an overarching idea that is really cool, but it’s not necessarily on-the-nose.”
Although the Dirty Honey album may sound effortless, its genesis had a bumpy start. The day before the band members were due to fly to Australia to track the album, Los Angeles entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling was off the table. However, Dirty Honey was still eager to work with DiDia, so they devised a Plan B: recording the full-length in a Los Angeles studio with one of DiDia’s long-time engineers, and the producer beamed into the proceedings via the magic of modern technology.
“He was able to listen to what we were laying down in real-time, through this app,” says LaBelle. It was like he was in the room with us. It was surprisingly seamless the way it all went down.”
Having to switch gears delayed the start of recording slightly, although this extra time ended up being a boon. Dirty Honey rented a rehearsal space and demoed the album’s songs in advance, meaning the tracks were in good shape when DiDia came onboard. Notto mixed and recorded these workshopped tracks himself, which helped him rediscover one of Dirty Honey’s biggest strengths: being well-rehearsed while not over polishing their work.
“I’ve learned just a little bit more about what people might mean when they say, magic—you know, ‘This one has the magic,'” he says. “We would do two and three different demos of a song, so there would be a few versions. On a few occasions, the version that people kept going back to was the sloppiest, if you look at it from a performance standpoint.”
LaBelle agrees. “It’s just about getting the performance right and not thinking about it too much. I never like to be perfect in the studio. None of the stuff that I really liked as a kid was. I don’t really see myself getting away from that too much in the future just because I think you lose the soul if you do it too many times, if it’s too perfect.”
Notto also admits that the creative process isn’t necessarily always all fun and games. But for him and the rest of Dirty Honey, pushing through those tough times and coming out stronger on the other side is worth it. “When you finally come through on those moments, that’s where the real magic comes in,” he says. “What makes all of our songs fun to play and listen to is we don’t allow ourselves to stop short of getting the best possible results out of each one of them.”
To emerge from a global pandemic with a renewed sense of situational awareness, hard won insight, and a new album is the kind of move we’ve come to expect from Thrice over the last twenty years. With Horizons/East, Dustin Kensrue and his bandmates address, with candor and courage, the fragile and awkward arrangements that pass for civilization, while inviting us to dwell more knowingly within our own lives. Without surrendering any of the energy and hard edge of their previous albums, they’ve given us a profoundly meditative work which serves as a musical summons to everyday attentiveness.
Since forming Thrice with guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, and drummer Riley Breckenridge in 1998, Kensrue has never been one to back down from a mental fight. This mood is set by the opening synth-driven number “Color of the Sky,” which sounds well-suited to accompany the closing credits of the Stranger Things season finale. Think Flying Lotus giving way to Elbow and setting the listener down in a new dimension. A self-recorded effort, Horizons/East conveys a palpable sense of danger, determination, and possibility. Scott Evans (Sleep, Kowloon Walled City, Yautja, Town Portal) is on mixing duties, conjuring a landscape of gloom, glow, and glory.
On “Buried in the Sun,” which had the working title of “D.C. Bass,” the band’s fondness for bands like Fugazi and Frodus comes to the fore. In it we learn that there’s a military-industrial complex, a vast apparatus of legal bullying, to take on (I saw the fire on the television/the DoD or the CIA), but the threat to our mental health in acknowledging our own country’s participation in the terror trade is both immersive and interior. The psychic struggle will often come down to what we’re doing with our tools, how we hold what passes before our minds in dreams and on screens. There’s a lot to take in and a lot to be mad about, but Horizons/East invites us to slow tape and see.
Kensrue doesn’t believe, for instance, that Twitter can be blamed for what we bring to it: “It amplifies things. It can exacerbate things. But it isn’t creating anything on its own.” The task, it seems, is to follow the creative impulse into every corner, to hold reality at a better, more righteous angle, lest we misinterpret or project our own chaos on all incoming data. This is where the songs on Horizons/East function as epiphanies through which listeners are invited and equipped to conjure our own. An especially powerful example of this is “Summer Set Fire To Rain.”
“Summer Set Fire to the Rain” is the title, and repeated mantra, of the record’s fifth track. It’s something that popped out as the band was writing one day. “I sang it,” Kensrue recalls, “and thought…Well, that’s beautiful. I’m gonna keep that line.” From there, he applied it to the everyday-somewhere occurrence of getting stuck in the rain as sun shines. “The rain’s coming down and it actually can be beautiful, all these raindrops just lit up by the sun but….if you interpret it a certain way, you’re suffering now…You could miss that moment by worrying about getting wet.” Later, over the already interlacing melodies of guitar, bass and vocals, in the final chorus the band threads a new melody in the mix as Kensrue sings “Don’t you see everything’s interweaving?” It’s a lyrical question that proffers a mystic assertion.
The album itself performs and exemplifies art as a work of recognition, the human task of perceiving oneself amid details, disasters, and blessings as a relentlessly relational phenomenon among others. In this, Horizons/East is the rare rock album (like Peter Gabriel’s So or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?) on which interrelatedness is a theme. As Kensrue explains, this isn’t an accident. “[Interrelatedness is] very important to the way I approach the world and the way I think about things. I really think that not attuning or attending to that interrelatedness is one of the bigger problems in the world. When you don’t see it, you miss the way that the good you do blossoms out and balloons out…the way that the evil you do does as well in the most banal ways.”
That way of conceiving the human situation picks up on a theme at work throughout Thrice’s catalogue, the imagery of sorting through contemporary wreckage, our own as well as the wreckage of others, as nomads, pilgrims, and seers within fallen and failing empires. They pick it up again with second track “Scavengers.”
Overhead, are those angels or vultures
Heavy wings and the hum of decay
They seethe and hover
Skew and smother the light of day
Over a a dark and intricate braiding of guitar and drum grooves, and delivered in a mournful, pleading gravel, these words bring us again to the question of discernment (angels or vultures) in regard to what serves coherence versus what disintegrates and destroys (“They’ve got you wearing a smile with a mask”). For Kensrue, the song’s landscape is and also kind of isn’t a thing of the past. Whether lost in a media diet that is essentially a disinformation pipeline or, relatedly, trapped in fear of a future of eternal conscious pain, Kensrue speaks of “toxic worldviews I once inhabited,” and in truth, “A lot of people that I love are still in that place.” These are bad ideas about ourselves and others that end up, in Kensrue’s words, “clouding the reality in front of them.” How do we engage one another in spite of our stuckness? Can a song get somewhere that an argument can’t.
Kensrue thinks so. “Yes, but it’s so out of your hand, which is good, but it involves a letting go.” This is where Thrice is informed by an ethic laid down by sci-fi novelist Ursula K. Le Guin. Kensrue quotes her fondly, reflecting his commitment to follow suit: “To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”
That skill, however, is not a call to settle for a posture of appeasement or apathy in regard to our relationship to people in the grip of wicked infrastructures and the terrors they abide. While the album communicates comfort with uncertainty, it’s uncertainty as the beginning of wonder. Not knowing something for certain can occasion a blossom, an opportunity, as opposed to a dead end.
This uncertainty is something the band seems to embrace with their entire career, and especially in their approach to this record, building out their own studio and recording completely on their own, unsure of what exactly they could extract from themselves this time around. Some of the writing even began with open ended challenges that the band laid on themselves like building a song using the quartal chords they found in much of the jazz they loved, or taking the Fibonacci sequence and turning it into a guitar riff. Both of those ideas actually ended up laying the foundation of the song “Northern Lights” that finds the four piece in a new sonic landscape. Thrice seems ever eager to step out into these spaces unknown to them, unsure of where their feet will land, and this new record is no exception.
In Horizons/East, the closed fist meets the open hand. This vision comes through in the art design of Jordan Butcher (who received a Grammy nomination for his work on Caspian’s On Circle). Evoking the imagery of the final scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it prepares the listener for strategy of engagement on offer in “Robot Soft Exorcism.”
The song opens with a strangely breathing yet robotic beat which deftly lures you into its rhythm despite the odd 7/8 time signature. With the beat leading you onward, dig if you will a picture of figure at a command console, looking through and within the eye socket of the head of a giant robot:
Looking down through armored glass
Above a field of fire and ash
Shouting and waving from the ground, a vulnerable individual tries to address the figure on high from below, calling their fellow human out
There’s another way to face the unforeseen
You don’t have to stay inside that machine
There’s a bigger game, and there’s a deeper dream
This call, according to Kensrue, is informed by the late scholar of culture, James Carse, who posited that the infinite play of the infinite game is a living alternative to the finite games of finite players who seek to defeat (or crush) the alleged opposition. In beautiful and unexpected ways Horizons/East takes up this task, the infinite play of the healing game, which Carse laid out. Like an open field, Thrice extends the invitation to better dreams, better behavior, and uncertainty as a guiding light.
By the time we reach “Unitive/East” (which contains a lovely lyrical nod to mewithoutYou), we’re treated to what feels like a cathedral made of piano music and echoes suspended over an abyss. You’ll want to start the transmission over to receive its witness more fully. In this, Horizons/East is like a soundtrack for deeper dreaming. A gift that keeps on giving.
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. Born of adversity, “The Blood of Gods” is a sonic scar…a question asked and answered…Death cannot kill GWAR. Nothing can. GWAR LIVES MOTHERFUCKERS!
Code Orange’s 2020 album UNDERNEATH represented a creative and critical high mark for the band. It closed out last year on multiple year-end lists. NPR celebrated it among “The 50 Best Albums of 2020” declaring, “UNDERNEATH’’s liquid metal soundtracked a molten catharsis of confusion and rage.” The New York Times named it among the “Best Albums of 2020,” and Billboard touted it as one of “The 25 Best Rock Albums of 2020,” going on to applaud how,“The band’s greatest strength remains that unpredictability.” Landing on “The 25 Best Albums of 2020,” Revolver urged, “You could never question their creative ambition; on UNDERNEATH, those ambitions are fully realized. Stand back in awe.” Consequence of Sound proclaimed it one of the “Top 30 Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2020.” In its “The 100 Best Albums of 2020,“Noisey put it best, “Fitful and frightening, this album sounds like the dying cry of the modern world.” Furthermore, Code Orange have also garnered a 2021 GRAMMY Award nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance” for the title track “Underneath.” UNDERNEATH is available on all streaming platforms, and features the singles – “Swallowing The Rabbit Whole,” “Underneath,” and “Sulfur Surrounding.” In its wake, the band performed multiple unforgettable livestream experiences, including “BACK INSIDE THE GLASS” an all-immersive environmental experience placing Code Orange’s live show at the center of awe-inspiring virtual landscapes. It marked Code Orange’s third groundbreaking livestream of 2020, following their revolutionary empty venue record release show, “LAST ONES LEFT: In Fear of The End,” and “UNDER THE SKIN,” their first-ever stripped down performance, which is available now as a digital album on all streaming platforms. Additionally, Code Orange have continued to reach fans across the globe through their “YOU AND YOU ALONE” livestream series, which features collaborative performances, playthroughs, and in-depth discussions + fan Q&A’s broadcasting regularly on the band’s official Twitch channel.
Produced by Code Orange’s Jami Morgan and Nick Raskulinecz with co-producer Will Yip,UNDERNEATH features additional programming from Chris Vrenna, and was mixed by Yip and Code Orange’s Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose. NPR declared “[it] devours a body of extreme sounds — sludge, noise, metallic hardcore, doom, grunge, industrial and whatever else it takes to make the mosh pit swarm — to make uncompromisingly chaotic metal.” Stereogum detailed UNDERNEATH as “a conceptual piece about online poisoning…” adding, “the experience of hearing it on headphones is akin to getting torn limb from limb by cybernetic terminators,” while the The FADER attested, “Code Orange sound like no other metal band around right now. Underneath is their shot at the stars.” The UK’s Metal Hammer gave UNDERNEATH a perfect 10 out of 10 album review, hailing the LP as “a 1,000 ft neon signpost for the rest of the metal world to follow, the first classic record of the decade.” Kerrang! awarded UNDERNEATH a flawless 5K review declaring the album, “one of the most powerful, cathartic, creatively satisfying and bruisingly heavy records of its age,” with Rolling Stone praising Code Orange’s, “cutting melodies and the group’s balance of industrial rattle and shock-treatment guitar riffs.” Revolver affirmed, “The record is one of the most colossal and best sounding hardcore-adjacent albums of all time.”
Furthermore, Code Orange made headlines in the professional wrestling world earlier last year with their performance of “Underneath” at WWE’s NXT Takeover: In Your House event. Code Orange previously released “Let Me In,” their official entrance theme for WWE Superstar ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt, and featured at WWE’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III performing a rendition of wrestler Aleister Black’s entrance theme alongside Incendiary’s Brendan Garrone.
Comprised of Jami Morgan (Drums / Vocals), Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose (Electronics / Guitar / Vocals), Reba Meyers (Guitar / Vocals), Dominic Landolina (Guitar) and Joe Goldman (Bass), Code Orange flipped the heavy music world on its head with their breakthrough albumFOREVER, a collection that masterfully mixed hardcore aggression with urgent industrial textures, earning the band a breakthrough GRAMMY nomination and top placement on several “Best of 2017” lists including: Rolling Stone’s “20 Best Metal Albums of 2017,“Revolver’s “20 Best Albums of 2017,” and The Independent’s “Top 20 Rock & Metal Albums of 2017.” FOREVER was followed by the 2018 release of THE HURT WILL GO ON, a digital EP featuring “3 Knives” and “The Hunt” Feat. Corey Taylor, as well as “The Hurt Will Go On” (Shade Remix), an official remix of Code Orange’s “Hurt Goes On” helmed by the band’s guitarist and vocalist Shade. More recently the Code Orange has collaborated with a wide array of artists, co-producing Injury Reserve’s “HPNGC” Feat. JPEGMAFIA, serving up a pair of remixes for alt-J’s “Hit Me Like That Snare” and “Adeline,” and guesting on Amnesia Scanner’s “AS Flat.”
With his wealth of tattoos, Southern rapper Jelly Roll is an illustrated man. But the ink tells the story of who the onetime gangster was — not who he is now. Today, he is a reformed man, an underdog, a dedicated father to a little girl, an inspiration to those who grew up hustling like him and, most of all, a groundbreaking artist.
“My tattoos are not a reflection of who I am at all,” says Jelly Roll. “But they’re a very good description of who I was. I never thought I’d be what I am now.”
Jelly Roll is at the fore of the country rap scene, distinguished by his edgy, lived-in lyrics (he first went to juvenile detention when he was only 14; prison soon followed) and a sound he calls “country, rock, white trash rap.” To be sure, it’s a unique hybrid, as informed by the Motown Jelly’s mother played him as a child as it is by the Nashville street rap he listened to in his teens. A gifted singer as well as rapper, to hear Jelly Roll perform songs like the R&B-flavored “Sunday Morning” and the Southern rock of “Bad Apple” is to believe that the county-rap genre is far from a novelty.
“My lyrics are very true to who I am. I’m very real, very honest, very straightforward and I’m in an industry where a number of artists are not,” says Jelly Roll, who was born and raised in gritty Antioch, Tennessee, just south of Music City. “I don’t hide anything.” Including his incarcerations for robbery and drugs. Surviving prison ultimately motivated Jelly Roll, an all-too-rare case of the system actually working. But it was when he met composer and producer Jared Gutstadt — aka Jingle Jared, who has worked with artists from Dierks Bentley and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Nas and Chiddy Bang — and his creative team the Jingle Punks that helped Jelly launch a proper career.
“He was a white rapper, and I thought, ‘I’ve seen that before,'” says Gutstadt. “But then I heard what he was doing. It was fresh, inventive stuff. I think he and I can create a new sound for Nashville.” With the Jingle Punks creative force onboard, Jelly Roll is eager to explore his fresh direction via a new EP. Titled Sunday Morning after his popular day-after anthem, the project picks up where “Kid Rock left off,” Gutstadt says. Like Jelly Roll, it’s a combination of all the things that define a man: loving and leaving, winning and losing, and sinning and forgiving.
“Since I left prison, I don’t have the kinds of problems I used to have. I’ve changed and so my music is changing with me,” says Jelly Roll. “But the good news is my audience is growing with me too.” And he’s excited for them, along with new fans, to hear his country, rock, white trash rap. “I’m excited for everyone to hear my music,” he says. “It’s real, it’s honest and, dammit, it’s fun.”
Enter Shikari formed as teenagers at school in their hometown of St Albans, UK in 2003. Through the intervening years, the band have played somewhere in the region of 3000 live shows around the globe, including two area-sized runs in the UK and more big and small festivals than it would be possible to list fully in the time available to us.
Enter Shikari have released six full-length proper studio albums to date;
TAKE TO THE SKIES (2007), COMMON DREADS (2009),
A FLASH FLOOD OF COLOUR (2012), THE MINDSWEEP (2015) and THE SPARK (2017). NOTHING IS TRUE & EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE (2020).
All six albums landed in the UK Album Chart top 5 for the “midweeks”, with A Flash Flood Of Colour actually mid-week-ing at #1 on release, only to be crushed beneath the wheels of the juggernaut that was ’21’ by Adele come end of that week.
The band has also released a fistful of stand-alone singles between albums, as well as number of collections of remixes / B-sides / live tracks and full length live show albums / DVDs through their own website, most of which are now long-deleted and fetching daft money on eBay. These vinyl distractions include a drum & bass remix project The Mindsweep: Hospitalised, which saw the entirety of The Mindsweep album reworked by artists from the prestigious Hospital Records roster, a double album Live At Alexandra Palace from their sold out 2016 performance there, and February 15th 2019 saw the release of not one, but TWO overly-ambitious double live album projects; ‘Take To The Skies : Live in Moscow. May 2017’ and ‘Live At Alexandra Palace 2’ to the Bootleg Series (volumes 9 and 10 respectively).
Enter Shikari ended 2018 / started 2019 with an extensive tour of UK / Europe / Russia before moving into a busy summer of UK and European festival appearances, including main stage slots at Reading / Leeds (UK), Hurricane / Southside (Germany) and headlining the Netherlands Jera On Air amongst several more.
A short tour of the USA / Canada followed in September / October 2019 (during which Enter Shikari performed a special extremely intimate set at Brooklyn, New York’s St Vitus venue which was filmed and subsequently broadcast by Kerrang! Maagazine) ,along with the release of a brand new stand-alone single Stop The Clocks – a significant release in that it was the first fruits of the band’s recent signing with London-based independent label So Recordings – followed up by a visit to Australia for three performances as part of the line-up for Good Things Festival in December 2019.
In February 2020, Enter Shikari announced the April release of their 6th album, “Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible”, scheduled for April 17th via So Recordings. The album was preceded by the single / music video “The Dreamer’s Hotel” which arrived to a favourable reception beyond anyone’s expectations.
Upon its release,”Nothing Is True…” was greeted by (largely) across-the-board critical acclaim and ultimately landed the band their highest ever (thus far) UK album chart position, ending up at #2 in the final official OCC album chart of release week.
Summer 2020 saw the band announce a partnership / shirt sponsorship with local football team St Albans City FC, as well as releasing “Live At Ancienne Belgique” a digital download live album from the final show of the Stop The Clocks Tour, with all proceeds donated to the Enter Shikari road crew, who had found themselves without work due to Covid-19. A limited edition pink vinyl 2xLP version followed.
As 2020 drew to a close, Enter Shikari were honoured as one of Rock Sound Magazine’s three “Class Of 2020” cover stars, while Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible earned #5 in Kerrang! Magazine’s “50 Greatest Albums of 2020” as chosen by the magazine’s writers, and #1 in the 2020 Kerrang Reader’s Poll “Album Of The Year” category.
While 2021 has largely been, so far, spent preparing for touring later in the year, the band did find time to unveil the “surprise” streaming album ‘Moratorium (Broadcasts From The Interruption)’, to be followed in late summer 2021 with physical LP & CD formats. In July 2021, the band broadcast a live-in-the-studio film entitled ‘Live At Vada’, showing the movie four times across four timezones in one night, to accompany the publication of
Rou Reynolds fourth book ‘A Treatise On Possibility’.
At time of writing, Enter Shikari are preparing for touring, which will see them cross the UK, Europe and North America between November 2021 – April 2022.
“Spiritbox is where serene art-rock and metal savagery meet.” – Loudwire
The existential dread of isolation and the wondrous alchemy of artisans, ensconced in a self-imposed enclave of creativity, have converged in the music of SPIRITBOX. Part post-metal band, part art collective, SPIRITBOX makes magic in the musical and visual mediums, evoking spirits like that other type of “medium.” Not unlike the arcane occult technology of their namesake, SPIRITBOX communes with people all around the world, via broad emotional outbursts of sound.
Conjuring spirits through music and video as do-it-yourself artists from their remote place of worship, the burgeoning arts community of Vancouver Island, the husband and wife duo of Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer inspired a cult following from their first emergence in 2017. It wasn’t long before bassist Bill Crook was baptized into the fold, expanding the outfit to a trio.
A self-titled EP introduced SPIRITBOX to the world, enchanting an even broader spectrum of the esoteric minded sort. Singles Collection, the five-song set that followed in 2019, documents LaPlante’s struggle with depression, while emphasizing the band’s genre-transcending musical prowess. From melancholy to madness, from hopelessness to redemption, SPIRITBOX is a complete extension of its creators. As Revolver Magazine pointed out in a glowing profile, the band’s 2020 breakout single, “Holy Roller,” is both “insanely catchy and totally crushing.” Most strikingly perhaps, like everything SPIRITBOX, “Holy Roller” was fashioned free from compromise.
There is nothing pandering or remotely insincere about this band. That authenticity is what attracts its religiously devoted adherents, an ever-growing “denomination” of diverse people. The obsessive nature of the burgeoning fandom is a testament to the immersive quality of SPIRITBOX. As the ghostly phrase from the late ‘80s baseball movie goes, “If you build it, they will come.”
Alexisonfire rose up out of the Southern Ontario underground indie scene in late 2001. It wasn’t long before they were touring the world spreading their brand of rock n roll across all borders. The band released four hugely successful and critically acclaimed studio albums, all certified Platinum in their native country, Canada: Alexisonfire (2002), Watch Out! (2004), Crisis (2006), and Old Crows/Young Cardinals (2009). Crisis debuted at #1 on the Top 200 Soundscan (Canada), and Old Crows/Young Cardinals debuted at #2, and charted at #9 on the US Billboard Independent Album chart.
The band has topped charts and garnered press praise from Alternative Press, Loudwire, Brooklyn Vegan, Exclaim!, Kerrang!, Revolver, RockSound, and many more. Alexisonfire sold-out their 10 Year Anniversary tour (2012) which touched down on four continents in 24 days further to this, following the release of “Familiar Drugs” (2019), their first single in 10 years, they played to sold out crowds for two night stays in Los Angeles, New York, London and Toronto, illustrating how meaningful the band still is to their legion of fans worldwide. The band also has the distinction of being one of a handful of Canadian artists to perform two consecutive sold-out nights at the iconic Toronto venue Budweiser Stage (30,000 tickets sold) alongside City and Colour, (Dallas Green from Alexisonfire) Drake, The Tragically Hip, Daniel Caesar and Sarah McLachlan.
The band still generated half-a-million streams per month, even during inactive periods, further proving the dedication of the fanbase.
Underoath has been a seminal voice in progressive, heavy rock for almost two decades. When you look at the long list of bands that would be considered their contemporaries, very few can match Underoath when it comes to consistently pushing the envelope or the ability to evolve creatively without losing sight of what made them such a special band in the first place. This far into their storied career, the band has unsurprisingly faced their fair share of adversity. But through the trials and tribulations, a commitment to their craft and a sense of accountability rooted in mutual respect for each other has ensured that each new chapter for Underoath continues to shape their legacy in a positive fashion.
In 2020, as a global pandemic shook the foundation of the music industry, Underoath once again blazed a new path forward with their critically-acclaimed Observatory livestream. As interest in the digital consumption of live music seemed to be waning, the band breathed new life into the realm with a complete overhaul of the process – creating something equal parts intimate and monumental. It carried the weight of a sold out arena show translated through vessels consumable in fan’s living rooms. What made it all the more impactful was the fact that the entire initiative was dreamt up and brought to fruition largely by the band’s internal team. Thus, providing another shining reminder of the innovation that the six members on Underoath are capable of pulling together.
On the band’s 2018 Fearless Records debut, Erase Me, we saw a new side of Underoath. 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 gold-selling Define The Great Line and the majestic follow-up Lost In The Sound of Separation in 2008), the evolution detailed on Erase Me found Underoath using meticulously crafted sonic dialects that painted a vivid picture of how the band had grown artistically in the long layoff since their previous record.
With their shared history of remarkable accolades and trying hardships continuing to shape who the individual members are as people, Underoath is still just scratching the surface of what they can accomplish as a band. There are few acts in the annals of rock history that can say their best work is still ahead of them almost two decades into their career. Fortunately, Underoath falls into that category. As the world opens back up in 2021, the band is deeply committed to living up to the high expectations that fans (and themselves) have come to expect for anything associated with the project. It will undoubtedly be something special to witness as this next chapter in the Underoath story manifests.
City Morgue bring the danger back to rap and rock. Since 2017, the New York duo—ZillaKami and SosMula—have gathered hundreds of millions of streams and views, sold out shows, and infiltrated the culture with each subsequent release. Following their game-changing debut CITY MORGUE VOL. 1: HELL OR HIGH WATER, they rushed to the top of the charts with 2019’s CITY MORGUE VOL. 2: AS GOOD AS DEAD executive produced by the legendary Mike Dean. It captured #1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart and #1 on the Apple Music Rock Albums Chart. Impressively, tracks from the Deluxe Edition “THE FALL BEFORE THE GIVE UP” [feat. Clever] and “ACAB” [feat. Nascar Aloe] engaged a hostile takeover of Soundcloud’s Top 50 Rock Chart at #1 and #2, respectively. On its heels, the 2020 TOXIC BOOGALOO EP clinched #96 on the Billboard Top 200, #9 on the Top Album Sales Chart, #5 on the Alternative Albums Chart, #13 on the Top Rock Albums Chart, and #4 on the Nielsen Music Digital Albums Chart. They’ve also notably joined forces with everyone from Denzel Curry to IDK on songs as they average over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Not to mention, City Morgue have garnered praise from the likes of Complex, Pitchfork, Mass Appeal, Stereogum, Revolver, and many more. Between forthcoming solo releases, the two most malevolent villains in music will return for City Morgue’s third full-length—due out in 2021. You’ve been warned.
Ice Nine Kills
Like the undead slashers celebrated in their songs, ICE NINE KILLS return with The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, a sequel of gruesome movie-sized proportion to their No. 1 Billboard Hard Rock Album, The Silver Scream. Welcome to Horrorwood carves out a fresh, bloody homage to the VHS celluloid classics that possessed singer Spencer Charnas at an early age, with a devilish new twist.
ICE NINE KILLS make music both timeless and timely, mixing metal, hardcore, and punk, with accessible power. New hard-rock-and-horror anthems like “Hip to be Scared,” “Assault & Batteries,” “Take Your Pick,” and “Farewell II Flesh” demonstrate Spencer’s fascination with fright, pop culture obsession, and his expertise with inescapably wicked melodic hooks and clever twists of phrase.
Drew Fulk (A Day To Remember, As I Lay Dying, Emmure) produced The Silver Scream and returned for Welcome to Horrorwood. Album guests include Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Brandon Saller (Atreyu), Ryan Kirby (Fit For A King), and Buddy Nielsen (Senses Fail). The album mixes the melodies, riffs, and wit that are the band’s signature, as heard in the Top 10 Mainstream Rock single “A Grave Mistake” and Top 20 hit “Savages.”
Dan Sugarman (guitar/vocals), Ricky Armellino (guitar/vocals), Patrick Galante (drums), and Joe Occhuiti (bass/vocals) are the current co-conspirators behind Charnas, who founded the band as a teen in the early 2000s. Decadent, devious, and fiercely insane, ICE NINE KILLS celebrate pop culture’s darkest edges, mining a cinephile library’s worth of iconic horror on The Silver Scream and The Silver Scream 2. The creative marriage made in hell of music and fiction began in earnest with the Top 5 Hard Rock album, Every Trick in the Book, which brought the previous three records’ themes to new levels.
Loudwire hails ICE NINE KILLS as “one of the most unique acts in metal right now.” The band’s synergy of music and lifestyle draws favorable comparisons to Slipknot and Rob Zombie. Visionary trailblazers and multimedia raconteurs, INK built a thrilling world for a growing legion of devoted true believers, with theatrical shows, high-concept videos, and inventive band-to-fan communion.
Motionless In White
In 2006, Motionless In White materialized out of Scranton, PA with an inimitable conjuration of sharp metallic rock, nocturnal industrial, magnetic melodies, and larger-than-life visual imagery. The quintet—Chris Motionless [Vocals], Ricky Olson [Guitar], Ryan Sitkowski [guitar], Vinny Mauro [drums], and Justin Morrow [bass]—quietly clawed their way to the forefront of hard rock, gathering nearly half-a-billion cumulative streams and views to date. Following the success of Creatures  and Infamous , Reincarnate  sunk its teeth into the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #9 and capturing #1 on the Top Rock Albums Chart. Both Graveyard Shift  and Disguise  cracked the Top 5 of the Top Hard Rock Albums Chart and Top Rock Albums Chart. The latter yielded the band’s biggest hit to date, “Another Life,” which gathered 37 million Spotify streams followed by “Brand New Numb” at 24 million and “Disguise” at 17 million. Along the way, they sold out headline tours and supported everyone from Slipknot and Korn to Breaking Benjamin. Not to mention, Motionless In White have collaborated with Jonathan Davis of Korn, Maria Brink of In This Moment, Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth, Tim Sköld of KMFDM, Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, and more. The five-piece kept busy throughout 2020, releasing the Another Life / Eternally Yours: Motion Picture Collection EP and Deadstreaming a performance of Creatures for its decade-anniversary. The band also dropped a cover of The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me,” and the standalone single “Creatures X: To The Grave.” Once again, Motionless In White return to the studio and the road in 2022 as they perfect the poetically pummeling sound they patented.
Formed in Derby, England, in 2012, The Struts have found themselves massively embraced by some of the greatest icons in rock-and-roll history. Along with opening for Foo Fighters, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Guns N’ Roses, the UK-bred four-piece band was handpicked by Mötley Crüe to serve as the supporting act for their last-ever performances. Releasing their debut album Everybody Wants in 2016 and sophomore album YOUNG&DANGEROUS in 2018, they’ve toured incessantly since their formation, including worldwide headline shows and major festivals like Lollapalooza, Governors Ball, and Isle of Wight. When COVID-19 brought touring to a halt, The Struts created their third album Strange Days over the course of a charmed and frenzied burst of creativity. Within just ten days, the band laid down nine original tracks alongside their masterful cover of a KISS B-side.
Beartooth began as an emotional exorcism. Conceived, constructed, and unleashed by one man in a basement studio. Now, even as the band has grown to become a headlining festival act; cracked Billboard’s Top 25; lit up SiriusXM radio; and were crowned Breakthrough Band at both the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards and Loudwire Music Awards, Beartooth’s music and message remain intensely personal.
The fierce dedication to honesty, authenticity, and raw fury demonstrated by Caleb Shomo is at the center of everything Beartooth represents. The music he’s crafted in his darkest hours transcends, connecting with the broken hearted and isolated around the globe. Songs like “In Between,” “Hated,” “The Lines,” and “Sick of Me” have been streamed hundreds of millions of times. These are anthems for the downtrodden and disconnected, celebrated with sing-alongs on international tours; supporting Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, or Pierce The Veil; on the Kerrang! Tour with Don Broco in the UK; at major festivals like Download and Rock on the Range.
What began as artistic self-medication for a single multi-instrumentalist and producer, with no career aspirations or grand plans, quickly caught fire. The Sick EP (2013), Disgusting (2014), and the sophomore-slump shattering Aggressive (2016) comprise a blunt audio journal, chronicling Shomo’s battles with his own demons.
As Beartooth became a fully functioning band, bringing these intimate musings to the masses, that purity remained, via a consistently isolated creative methodology.
The stark look inward further intensified with September 28, 2018’s Disease.
The third full-length album from Beartooth is a painstaking, riff-driven examination of the unshakeable throes of depression. While there are moments of positivity, this isn’t the sound of triumph. This is music about survival.
“The album is a whirlwind of emotion,” Shomo explains. “Crazy highs, crazy lows, and lots of intensity. This record isn’t about winning anything. It’s about trying to even begin to learn how to deal with things. It’s hard to process just how dark you can get, what you can really put yourself through with expectations. It’s like starting from the beginning all over again. At the end of the day, it is a very dark album.”
Even as Shomo and his bandmates played to sold-out crowds across Europe, the battle against mental illness and childhood issues returned, and the seed for Disease was planted. The title track was the first song written for it, setting the overall tone.
As always, Shomo recorded vocals, guitars, bass, and drums, and mixed the album himself with assistance from an engineer, now with executive producer (and Grammy winner) Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with Foo Fighters and Rush. To further enhance the emotional realism Beartooth champions, the third full-length album was tracked in a brand new environment, with an old-school urgency. After crafting the songs in his usual basement domain, Shomo made the trip from the familiar comfort of his equipment and isolation in Ohio to Blackbird in Nashville.
“When I make a record at home, I feel really safe there,” Shomo confesses. “Going into Blackbird, there was a lot of fear. Thankfully, going into that environment just brought out the best. It made the songs feel even more real. It was all worth it.”
The famous recording studio was the birthplace of pivotal work from a massive list of legends, tastemakers, and up-and-comers; like Alice In Chains, Taylor Swift, and Greta Van Fleet. Determined to challenge himself in new ways, Shomo kicked aside his drum samples and digital guitar tones in favor of rich analog vibes, banging out take after take, to capture the feel of classic favorites like AC/DC and Motörhead.
Ten to twelve hour days, six days per week, sweating and screaming through performances, resulted in gargantuan surefire Beartooth bangers like “Used and Abused,” “Manipulation,” and “Enemy,” easily among the strongest songs in the catalog. “You Never Know” was written in collaboration with producer and songwriter Drew Fulk (Fit For A King, As I Lay Dying), after several hours of conversation in a coffee shop. The album closer, “Clever,” was written in an afternoon at the studio, a fittingly sorrowful bookend to Beartooth’s darkest album.
“Depression is something that’s just ‘in your head,’ there’s no reason for it, so it ‘should’ be easy enough to just get over, but I can never do it. It’s something unshakeable. I can’t make it work,” Shomo says. “I wanted to write an album about that. Disease really encompasses everything emotionally that I wanted to convey.”
Shomo’s commitment to raw and personal truth will always define Beartooth. “It’s very important that I stay honest with every song that I write. I didn’t even mean to start this band. I wrote a couple songs and I felt way better afterward. Especially with this record, there are no compromises. It is exactly what I wanted to make.”
With Beartooth, what begins each time as the personal expression of one man is shared with his bandmates, then through the power of musical inspiration and connection, is given to the world then returns to its creator, to begin the cycle anew.
With the release of their highly anticipated 12th studio album, the gloriously titled “Book of Bad Decisions”, it would be easy to suggest that legendary Maryland rockers Clutch have made their finest record to date. This may even be true. You see, the thing about Clutch is that ever since their 1993 debut Transnational Speedway League they’ve been in the business of writing stone cold classics, and even the most rabid fan would have trouble picking just one. “Book of Bad Decisions” won’t make that task any easier. Rest assured, it’s another classic.
Recorded over three weeks at Sputnik Studios in Nashville, “Book of Bad Decisions” was produced by four-time Grammy winner Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, etc.), a man who apparently knows that a one degree angle change in microphones makes a difference to how an instrument sounds. Interestingly, his name first came to the band’s attention via country star Chris Stapleton.
“It started with my brother-in-law, who’s a huge Chris Stapleton fan,” says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. “He and I would listen to The Traveller quite a bit, and one thing that stood out was that it didn’t sound like any other country record that I’d heard. Shortly after that I was on Spotify, and a song by The Dead Weather came up. It just blew me away and I could tell that whoever produced that record was doing things a different way. I looked it up and there was Vance Powell’s name again, so something was telling us that this is a guy we should reach out to.”
“Even though Chris Stapleton does music that’s not too much like our own, the sonics of the record are pretty great,” says frontman Neil Fallon. “He has a very different approach to recording; he comes from the school of live recording and engineering, and the songs, on tape, are not gonna sound that much different from what we do live.”
No stranger to the road, Powell spent three days on tour with the band in order to get a feel for what they do best, watching first from the front of house and then from the stage, checking out the live sound and how Clutch connect with their audience.
“I never go into a record having an idea of how it’s gonna sound,” he says. “But after hearing them live, I had an idea of how they could sound. I’m a big live recording fan, so I like when bands play together and I didn’t wanna get into that manufacturing a record concept. I wanted it to be real organic.”
Indeed, ‘organic’ is a word that comes up a lot when talking to Clutch about the new record, Powell taking great care to get guitar tones right and making sure that each song had its own identity.
“Vance is all about vintage guitar sounds,” says guitarist Tim Sult. “I probably had more amplifier options than on any other album we’ve done. It was like going back to a music store in 1960! This was the first time I’ve ever recorded with amps from the ’50s and I ended up buying a couple of ’50s amps while we were in Nashville.”
“I felt really good about the gear that I was bringing into the studio,” concurs bassist Dan Maines, “but Vance had this 1974 Ampeg and I’m so glad that he recommended that. As soon as we plugged it in, it sounded like Sabbath! We ended up using it alongside one of my amps, and I loved it so much that once we were done recording I scoured the ads for another one. What I really like is that each song has a different tone to it, and I think that’s Vance Powell’s style.”
With each band member contributing riffs to the album – including Jean-Paul who has added mandolin to his repertoire – there was no shortage of material, each song road-tested long before it reached the studio. Hell, with 15 songs, “Book of Bad Decisions” could easily pass as a double album! Always wary of repeating themselves and retreading old ground, there is even – for the first time on a Clutch album – a horn section that swings like James Brown’s pants!
“The third night I was watching the band,” says Vance, “they did this song that at that time was called Talkbox, which is now In Walks Barbarella. While Neil was singing, I was thinking to myself, “wow, there’s a horn line here!” And while he was singing, I was humming it to myself. I brought it up to them, tenuously, and they were like, “okay, let’s do it!” This is as Parliament, Funkadelic as it gets, maybe even a James Brown vibe!”
One thing, however, that is entirely as expected, is that as arguably the greatest rock lyricist of modern times, Fallon, as always, has provided some interesting subject matter, everything from poets to presidents and recipes to rock ‘n’ roll. You may have to Google some of it, because Fallon is nothing if not a clever bugger, and likes to keep his audience on their toes.
“Most of the time I have no idea what he’s talking about,” laughs Jean-Paul, “but the lyrics completely inform how I’m going to play that tune. Whether or not I understand exactly what Neil is singing about is not important. I listen to the way Neil sings those words and I think about what those words mean to me, and that, ultimately, informs how I’m gonna play drums on that song.”
“I think I probably second guess myself into doing that,” says Neil of his lyrical style. “I would rather not be able to answer all the questions, just to keep it interesting for myself. Sometimes a rhyme sounds awesome and I don’t know what it means, but I’ll go with it anyway. It’s become more difficult to write lyrics now that I have Wikipedia at my fingertips, because you can go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole and not get anything done! Not too long ago you’d have to spend months in a public library trying to find out the things you can find in a couple of keystrokes.”
Elsewhere, however, you’ll find a more straightforward approach to lyrics, A Good Fire relating the memory of hearing Black Sabbath for the first time – something that everyone can relate to – while Sonic Counselor pays homage to Clutch fans. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Clutch fans – collectively known as Gearheads – are a breed like no other.
“I’ve always loved rock songs that just celebrated rock ‘n’ roll,” grins Fallon, “but that song was a bit more about the people who come to our shows, that make it as exciting for us as hopefully it is for them. My favorite shows that I’ve seen bands do is like going to church, especially when everybody’s in sync with each other and you walk out with your jaw on the floor. I feel incredibly grateful that people have walked out of our shows and felt the same way. It’s a tip of the hat to them.”
“We’re exceptionally lucky to have the fans we have,” Jean-Paul agrees. “They’re diehard, and because of that, we take this that much more seriously. We do not take this for granted. We know that those folks could be anywhere else, and they’ve chosen to spend the evening at a Clutch show, so we’re gonna do the best we can to provide them with the best musical experience we can. I think that translates to the records, because at the end of the day, all you have is your records. When this whole thing wraps up, those are gonna be the things that go down in history.”
Formed in 2011, The Interrupters got together soon after the Bivona brothers’ former band appeared on bills with Aimee during a 2009 tour. With their self-titled debut arriving in 2014, the band soon shared stages with bands like Rancid, Blink 182 & Bad Religion. In support of their second album – Say It Out Loud, they toured all around the world headlining their own shows as well as supporting Green Day in Europe, Australia and South America.
The follow-up to Say It Out Loud, Fight the Good Fight finds The Interrupters delivering their two-tone-inspired, powerfully melodic, punk-fueled sound with more vitality than ever before. Working with Rancid frontman and Grammy Award-winning producer Tim Armstrong (who’s now produced all their albums) and Grammy Award-winning mixer Tom Lord-Alge, Aimee Interrupter and the Bivona brothers channeled that raw energy in part by recording almost entirely to tape. Garnering critical and commercial success with breakout single ‘She’s Kerosene’ (reaching #4 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart) and with a new album on the horizon, The Interrupters continue their forward momentum into 2022.
Theory of a Deadman
Songs make statements at just the right time. Born at the intersection of insurgency and inspiration, music props up a sounding board for the people to be heard. Theory Of A Deadman amplify this voice on their seventh full-length offering, Say Nothing [Roadrunner Records/Atlantic Worldwide]. The award- winning multiplatinum Los Angeles-based Canadian band—Tyler Connolly [lead vocals, guitar], Dave Brenner [guitar, backing vocals], Dean Back [bass], and Joey Dandeneau [drums]—flip the pulse of the world into scorching songcraft, integrating experimental vision, rock ‘n’ roll attitude, and clever pop ambition.
In the midst of this storm, Connolly and Co. speak up like never before.
“This album allowed me to say all of the things that were on my mind earlier, but I was too afraid to say,” the frontman admits. “Our previous material was pretty much all relationship-driven. Everything was about me being unhappy. This one was about what’s going on in the world, the state of American politics, and everything else. It was a completely different way of writing for us. I remember Dave asked me, ‘Hey dude, did you watch a lot of CNN or what?’,” he laughs.
A whirlwind two years awakened this feeling in the group. After nearly two decades together, Theory landed their biggest career hit in the form of “Rx (Medicate)” from 2017’s Wake Up Call. Not only did it receive a platinum plaque, generate 100 million-plus streams, and become their third number one on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, but it also received a nomination in the category of “Rock Song of the Year” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
The musicians quietly reached this high watermark by remaining consistently prolific. To date, their discography encompassed the double-platinum single “Bad Girlfriend,” platinum single “Not Meant To Be,” platinum album Scars & Souvenirs, and gold singles “Angel” and “Hate My Life.” Plus, they notched two Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200, namely Truth Is…  and Savages , as well as eight top tens on Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. In addition to selling out shows worldwide, they’ve toured with everyone from Alter Bridge and Bush to Stone Sour and Big Wreck and more.
In 2018, Connolly turned his attention towards the next chapter. It started at a Los Angeles dinner with
Wake Up Call producer Martin Terefe [Jason Mraz, Yungblud].
“I went out to dinner before Halloween with Martin, began discussing the record, went home, and had a panic attack,” recalls Connolly. “After ‘Rx (Medicate)’, there was a lot to figure out. It was really fantastic, but I don’t think we had a lot of time to live in it and digest it. There was pressure. I was like, ‘Okay, I have to get to work’. One day when I woke up, I knew what I needed to communicate. I was motivated to talk about things I want to talk about and not just write about girls. It’s not where I was 15 years ago, but here I am now.”
“What makes this record important is the content,” Brenner elaborates. “Tyler approaches some really tough topics like domestic violence and racism. We never did that in the past. ‘Rx (Medicate)’ opened the door though. This is almost a continuation. There are real discussions happening in the tracks backed by heavy stuff to make you think.”
Once again, the group hopped a plane to London and worked out of Terefe’s Kensaltown studio. Staying in an Airbnb for six weeks, they pushed themselves creatively like never before, incorporating new sounds and sonics.
Theory introduce Say Nothing with the single “History Of Violence.” Finger-picked guitar by Brenner brushes up against the singer’s searing snapshot of a woman afflicted by abuse at the hands of her husband. Between sweeping strings and airy solos, Connolly sings, “She need a sedative to get her straight, ya know she need a cigarette, she got the shakes, put them sunglasses on her, hide her face, such a waste…maybe the way out is a .38.”
“It’s a story about a woman who gets beat by her significant other, shoots him, kills him, and goes to jail,” he explains. “Even though she’s in jail, it’s still a better place to be than being imprisoned in real life by this man. It’s very similar to stories we hear in the news all the time, unfortunately.”
A pilgrimage to Abbey Road Studios left its fingerprints on “Ted Bundy.” Swaggering piano and boisterous horns resound beneath a Sgt. Peppers-gone-Silence-of-the-Lambs story.
“We did a private tour of Abbey Road, and I got to play on The Beatles piano,” recalls Connolly. “We went up to the room where they played ‘A Day in the Life’. When we got back to our studio, we were so inspired. We put tuba on ‘Ted Bundy’. After six albums, we don’t want to be complacent or stale. We try different things. Lyrically, it’s funny. I watched a documentary and got inspired to write about Ted Bundy falling in love.”
Elsewhere, a gospel choir kicks off “Quicksand,” adding yet another dimension to the aural palette. Meanwhile, the orchestration on “Black Hole Of Your Heart” moves in lockstep with an arena-ready beat punctuated by creaky guitar, nodding to Silverchair’s Diorama.
“All around, we really pushed ourselves in terms of the sound,” adds Brenner. “It’s like we finally fit the square peg in the round hole here!”
In many ways, “Strangers” encapsulates a pervasive feeling and strikes a chord with its powerful and provocative prose.
“It’s about what’s going on in America with politics,” says Connolly. “You have to pick a side. It’s interesting how people stick to their party and forget the country. We’re all like strangers now. It’s gotten too nasty.”
However, Theory’s music might be something everyone can ultimately agree on.
“I look at the record as a microcosm of our current era,” Brenner concludes. “It’s a reminder to look inward at what’s happening and what we’re becoming. I hope everyone dives into the words. At the same time, music is still an escape. Maybe we can give the world a little solace and encourage everyone to treat each other better.”
“We just want to write what speaks to us,” Connolly leaves off. “The best thing is when people sing lyrics back to you, or if a song gets somebody through a tough time. There’s something we all might be able to dig here.”
Mixing elements of trap, rap, rock, industrial, and heavy metal, Ghostemane is a genre-destroying project from the mind of Eric Ghoste. Over a multitude of LPs, EPs, collaborations, and monikers, the Florida-born artist has carved out a bracing signature style that pairs grisly, glitchy imagery and pummeling production with a guttural deadpan rasp. The 2020 album, ANTI-ICON, finds Ghostemane at his darkest and most personal – a kinetic, cathartic journey through the depths of heaven and hell.
The Pretty Reckless
Rock ‘n’ roll is a religion.
It’s a commitment to an ideal, a belief system. The lifestyle and trappings may appear to be glamorous and romantic, but the road isn’t easy. It requires staying power and an enormous amount of faith. The Pretty Reckless—Taylor Momsen [Vocals], Ben Phillips [Guitar], Jamie Perkins [drums], and Mark Damon [bass]—are truly a rock and roll band, as evidenced by their 2021-released fourth album Death By Rock And Roll (Fearless Records). The critically-acclaimed record landed at No. 1 on multiple sales charts, including Billboard’s Top Albums, Rock, Hard Music, and Digital Charts, upon release.
The album and band were met with near-universal praise from top-tier media, including American Songwriter, Alternative Press, Bustle, CNN, Consequence of Sound, The Daily Beast, Forbes, Guitar World, Hustler, Loudwire, SPIN, V Magazine, Paper, Revolver, Women’s Wear Daily, and more.
The Pretty Reckless’ unbelievable 12-year journey has quietly brought them from sweaty small gigs to successive number one hits, platinum plaques, and some of the biggest stages in the world—unprecedented for a rock act this century.
Formed in New York City during 2008, the musicians and late producer Kato Khandwala initially made waves with their 2010 debut, Light Me Up. After countless gigs, they lit a fuse to burn everything down on Going To Hell in 2014. Not only did the record crash the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200, but it also ignited three #1 hits—the Platinum-certified “Heaven Knows” (the biggest rock song of 2014), “Fucked Up World,” and “Follow Me Down”—a feat that had not been accomplished by a female-fronted group since The Pretenders in 1984. Meanwhile, their third offering, Who You Selling For, saw them return to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs Chart with “Take Me Down,” which cemented them as “the first band to send its first four singles to #1 on the chart,” according to Billboard. Praise followed from Vogue, Nylon, and more as the quartet lit up television shows such as Letterman and Conan. With over half-a-billion streams, they headlined countless sold out shows and toured with Guns N’ Roses and many other heavy hitters.
However, 2017 set off a series of events that shook the group to its very core, yet ultimately cast Death By Rock And Roll in the kind of fire, tears and blood that doesn’t ever wash off…
“There was no way to hide from this,” exclaims Taylor. “There was no running from what happened. I didn’t have to ‘write’ it; it was just infused into what we’re doing.
As the story goes, The Pretty Reckless landed a prestigious tour in 2017, opening for Soundgarden in packed amphitheaters across the country. Then, following a rapturous gig in Detroit, Chris Cornell tragically took his life. The aftershocks reverberated throughout popular culture and left a scar on The Pretty Reckless. They retreated, cancelling most of their touring and disappeared from the public eye. It got even worse eleven months later, when The Pretty Reckless’ muse, friend and longtime producer Kato, had died in a motorcycle crash.
“It sent us into a downward spiral.” Ben reflects, “We fell apart. It turned into a world of depression and substance abuse. At that point, we had to try and figure out how to continue making music. It was either death or go forward.”
So, Taylor and Ben turned to writing songs to channel the emotional toll, and in late 2018, The Pretty Reckless returned to the studio to record. For the first time, Taylor and Ben co-produced with longtime friend Jonathan Wyman. And the results are inspiring on so many levels. The sessions took well over a year in the studio, and the band introduced the album with the track “Death By Rock and Roll.” The song starts hauntingly with a recording of Kato’s footsteps leading to a bold bluesy riff that snakes through the distortion. The din subsides on a solo vocal as the frontwoman croons, “On my tombstone when I go, just put, ‘Death By Rock and Roll’.” Her howl takes hold in between the massive beat and fiery fretwork
The song quickly ascended to No. 1 on the rock charts, marking the band’s fifth chart-topper to date. It’s a feat that has not been achieved by any female-fronted rock act in the chart’s history, turning “Death By Rock and Roll” into a true “moment” for The Pretty Reckless.
“It has our whole mentality in the lyrics,” she goes on. “It’s not a morbid song. It’s, ‘I’m going to live my way; I’m going out my way’. That’s the rock and roll ethic. It’s empowering.”
Elsewhere, Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello lends his axe to the rambunctious and raucous “And So It Went” which became the follow up single and also went straight up the radio charts, giving the band consecutive No. 1 singles.
Bringing the trip full circle, The Pretty Reckless joined forces with Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil for “Only Love Can Save Me Now.” Tracked at the legendary London Bridge Studio in Seattle, it marked the first time Matt and Kim recorded at the space since Soundgarden’s Louder Than Love. Nearing the six-minute mark, it trudges through detuned bliss and an off-kilter time signature before Kim conjures a slippery psychedelic solo as Taylor admits, “I want to be saved from the sound,” over Matt’s percussive wizardry. “Lyrically, it goes with the world now,” Taylor adds. “It references what we’re all going through.”
And as the third single from the album, it too, topped the charts, making it a back-to-back-to-back run of No. 1 singles.
The track was yet another watershed moment, as it marked three consecutive No. 1s at rock radio from two different albums and served as the band’s seventh No. 1 overall. Ultimately, TPR racked up the most No. 1 singles at the format by a female or female-fronted band ever.
Then, there’s “25.” Her gravelly timbre quakes above an ominous funeral march and echoes of strings. She screams, “At 25, all hope has died and the glass of my intentions turns to sand…shatters in my hand.” Meanwhile, “Got So High” bleeds into a heavenly stoned refrain as an acoustic guitar rings out. After the nostalgic “Rock and Roll Heaven,” the record sails off to Valhalla on “Harley Darling” ushered along by harmonica, the sound of an engine revving and a devilish dedication as she sings, “Oh, Harley darling, you took my friend, you took everything and now I’m alone again.”
The Pretty Reckless sound more alive than ever…
“We lived this” Ben leaves off. “Rock and roll means everything to us. Taylor sacrificed everything for this record. I think it shows.”
“We stuck to our ethics,” she concludes. “We built this up over time. Either you throw it all away or go for it. It’s cliché, but rock and roll saved our lives.”
That music exists as an expression of the inner mortal psyche is one of life’s more practical theorems. One’s musical output can turn into an infinitely captivating adventure when creation is placed in the hands of a singular breed of enigmatic perfectionists. In the form of an equation:
(Ability x Curiosity x Imagination100) – Rules ÷ Conviction∞ = Genre-Defying Music
In lay-speak, don’t even try to argue with MESHUGGAH’s mathematics.
Formed in the college town of Umeå in northern Sweden in 1987, MESHUGGAH have spent the last twenty years and cumulative thirteen releases developing, exploring, and redefining their complex, inimitable approach on the art of expressing the music they hear in their heads. A group that has not sounded like anyone else in over seventeen years, MESHUGGAH are one of the few purely and honestly lateral-thinking forces genuinely dedicated to pushing the boundaries of extreme music simply because doing so comes naturally to them. Unafraid to take risks and tackle new experiences, they create albums you can listen to a decade later and discover things you never noticed before. The mystical lore surrounding them pertains to the musical calculus of their odd-cycle time signatures shifting around common 4/4 time; therefore, it isn’t shocking to see some of metal’s biggest names standing in the wings at MESHUGGAH shows, shaking their heads at the band’s down-tuned, groove-laden, and precisely performed polyrhythms that never veer out of control. Devotees include Tool, The Deftones, Kirk Hammett & Robert Trujillo of Metallica, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, and John Petrucci of Dream Theater. Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and Hollywood’s Musicians Institute both incorporate MESHUGGAH’s back catalogue into their curriculum because it is such a crucial element in any modern musical education. The band’s humble, self-assured beginnings could have never guessed their music would lead Rolling Stone magazine to rank MESHUGGAH as one of music’s “10 Most Important Hard and Heavy Bands” or that they’d create a sonic legacy equivalent to Stephen Hawking’s contributions to theoretical physics.
In 1989, with a line-up that included Jens Kidman on vocals & guitar, Fredrik Thordendal on guitar, Peter Nordin on bass, and Niklas Lundgren on drums, MESHUGGAH’s self-titled thrashy, virgin release (which came to be known as Psykisk Testbild due to the album’s artwork) was self-released on vinyl and limited to 1,000 copies. Every copy sold. In 1991, their full-length debut album, Contradictions Collapse, heralded the arrival of drummer extraordinaire Tomas Haake and the band’s obvious nod to vintage Metallica was a potent indicator of the barely-contained violence fermenting within. But it was in 1995 – a significant year for Sweden in terms of influential releases – that the myth of MESHUGGAH gained momentum. Produced by a 21-year old Daniel Bergstrand at Soundfront Studios in Uppsala, Sweden and consisting of equal parts instinct, inspiration, and natural talent, Destroy Erase Improve provided positive proof that the band had tapped a truly multi-dimensional, divergent vein. Joined by rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström in 1994 for the recording of the None EP (freeing Kidman from those duties) and marking the beginning of the band’s own identity, DEI was released to the sound of dropping jaws among their growing number of fervent followers and was a literal showcase of how far the band could push their ideas. Subsequently, it has been lauded as one of heavy metal’s most masterfully evolutionary albums and hailed as MESHUGGAH’s finest hour. Drum! Magazine praised it for its “ridiculous, driving, brutal insanity.” Ranking #12 in Revolver Magazine’s “69 Greatest Hard Rock Albums Of All Time,” it recently became the 21st album inaugurated into Decibel Magazine’s pantheon of extreme metal – The Hall of Fame: “These mad scientists have obliterated the existing paradigms of death, thrash, and prog metal, upping the ante for heavy music to a level of mathematical profundity. A mind-bending masterpiece.”
When Peter Nordin developed an inner-ear nerve problem in 1995 that prevented him to continue with the group, MESHUGGAH recruited Gustaf Hielm to take over bass duties on 1997’s The True Human Design EP and 1998’s Chaosphere. The latter’s manic, bludgeoning rage collided head-on with blistering skill (“five technically virtuosic Scandinavian ogres using jackhammers to smash other jackhammers” cited Spin Magazine), and the result was a masterclass in aggression. In 1999, MESHUGGAH performed at the Milwaukee Metal Fest, played a week of dates with Cannibal Corpse, toured supporting Slayer, and were then hand-picked to play eleven shows as direct support for Tool’s U.S. arena tour in 2001. In a serendipitous, Hollywood-styled turn of events, music from Destroy Erase Improve aired during prime time television on MTV’s reality series The Osbournes courtesy of Jack Osbourne to torment a neighbor’s obviously weaker musical constitution. While the Swedes prided themselves in not being a commercially accessible band, they were invited to be featured guests on Ozzfest 2002’s 2nd Stage. MESHUGGAH accepted, and the race was on to complete the new album.
After pushing the limits of heaviness with Chaosphere, there was only one place left to go: even heavier. Thordendal & Hagström made the leap to custom built 8-string guitars and thereby inherited a new musical vocabulary to work with. Abandoning the use of chords and almost exclusively utilizing single notes and slowing their pace to sub-aquatic meanderings, the subdued result was a lethal dose of self-professed “concentrated evil,” Morse-code solos courtesy of Thordendal, and a lot of low-end. Completed just two days prior to the band leaving Sweden to join Ozzfest, the darker, more sinister, and all-encompassing menacing vibe of Nothing was doused in accolades. “The magnum opus of controlled insanity,” wrote Terrorizer. “One of the most inventive metal albums to arrive in some time,” praised Guitar One. “Nothing,” boasted Tool drummer Danny Carey, “is another prime example of MESHUGGAH’s musical expertise and unique compositional style that continues to evolve and change the way people listen to music.” In light of the showers of praise, the Swedes were still not prepared when news broke of Nothing landing on the American Billboard Top 200 chart – one of the most extreme albums ever to achieve that feat at the time. Following their participation on
Ozzfest, MESHUGGAH once again hit the road with Tool, and sold over 110,000 copies of their fourth full-length recording. It would be three years before the next studio album surfaced, but in the interim, kudos for the band kept coming. In 2004, Alternative Press voted MESHUGGAH “The #1 Most Important Band In Metal. MESHUGGAH have carved out their own niche as one of the most innovative and challenging extreme acts of our generation.” That same year, Fredrik & Mårten ranked #35 in Guitar World’s list of “100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.” “Over the polyrhythmic percussive madness of drummer Tomas Haake, Hagström & Thordendal create crushing, machine-gun riffs that are convoluted rhythms in themselves, as well as fluid, sublime, Allan Holdsworth-style solos.”
Such furiously mesmerizing music obviously requires its share of discipline. Each year without a release became inversely proportional to the climbing expectations among MESHUGGAH fans for the band to out-do themselves. Tackling a dark musical landscape while addressing the subjects of contradiction, paradox, negation, and the clashing of opposites with all the tension that results from it, MESHUGGAH’s studio offering for 2005 was a 47 minute-long “uni-song” divided into four quasi-movements (or thirteen suites, depending on your personal interpretation). An audio exam in patience and endurance, Catch Thirty Three offered a reward only to those who were insistent on completing the journey through this warped, metaphoric dream state. Obviously mastering the 8-string guitars that were prototypes on the previous album, MESHUGGAH tapped into the hypnotic power of repetition, suggesting a lot of visual imagery and movement. Proudly cold and emotionless, this “concept album without a concept” with seemingly stream-of-consciousness vocals had the feel of a philosophical journey through life and death, not excluding the soul-gutting ponderings. Again, the praise was incessant. “Catch Thirty Three could be the soundtrack to the darkest, strangest, heaviest movie never made,” held Revolver. “Catch Thirty Three lifts MESHUGGAH’s work to unreachable levels,” commended Guitar World. “One of the most brilliant metal discs in recent years,” raved Guitar One. It went on to become Terrorizer Magazine’s Album of the Year for 2005. What’s more, while the band’s discography underwent scholarly analysis at the 34th Annual Meeting of The Music Theory Society of New York State in 2006, MESHUGGAH re-mixed and re-mastered Nothing at their own Fear And
Loathing Studio in Stockholm, Sweden and re-offered it to fans sounding “the way we always wanted it to!” In the latter half of 2007, the article “Re-casting Metal: Rhythm and Meter in the Music of MESHUGGAH,” appeared in a volume of Music Theory Spectrum, a North American journal of The Society for Music Theory.
The sonic detonation that was 2008’s obZen debuted at #59 on the American Top 200 Billboard chart and clinched the #14 spot on the iTunes Top rock Albums chart. To date, the album that shook the foundations of convention has sold over 82,000 copies in the
U.S. alone. The eccentric genius & abrupt ferocity intrinsic to MESHUGGAH’s music was once again fueled by the percussive gymnastics of Tomas Haake, voted the year’s Best Drummer by Blender Magazine. “He’s so far ahead of the pack,” they wrote, “it’s unfair to even shackle him to metal anymore.” Again, the praise poured in: “A thundershower of hammers raining from the sky,” warned Guitar World. “A band at the top of a game they practically invented,” praised Bass Player magazine. “Math-metal’s undisputed champions,” declared Revolver. “obZen dares any other metal band to write a more ferocious album,” observed The Onion. Who better to rise to this challenge than the band themselves?
After releasing Alive in 2010, the first live DVD of the band’s career which debuted at #8 on the Nielsen SoundScan Top Music DVD Video chart, MESHUGGAH have returned in 2012 with their contribution to the no-show apocalypse: the 10-track KOLOSS. This album – which features 3-D art by Luminokaya.com – not only preserves the band’s long-time relationship with metric insanity, but rightly crowns the band as apex predators in a scene fraught with well-intentioned imitators whose aspirations will once again be deflated. “Truly, a band with no equal,” declared Outburn Magazine. ModernDrummer.com called KOLOSS “an undiminished sense of power and complexity.” SPIN.com hailed MESHUGGAH as “one of those rare bands you have to hear to believe.”
With the highest chart debut & first-week sales of their career, MESHUGGAH roared into the American Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #17 with 18,342 copies sold. In Canada, KOLOSS debuted at #24 on the Top 200 chart and at #4 on the Hard Music chart. Other Billboard chart action includes #2 on the Top Independent Albums chart, #3 on the Current Hard Music Albums chart, #3 on the Top Hard Music chart, #9 on the Current Rock chart, and #16 on the Top Current Albums chart. In Europe, the band experienced a career first on the German album chart: a debut at #48. Celebrating the band’s two and a half decades of existence & deviance in 2014, MESHUGGAH will be performing a few select “25th Anniversary” shows in both Europe and North America.
In the realm inhabited by MESHUGGAH, it’s clear that something incredible is always waiting to be known, to be shown. With an innate belief in their own curiosity and imagination, MESHUGGAH strive for complete understanding of their musical universe. By doing so, they stand as stark reminders of why humanity exists at all: to question what we know and to continually wonder at the life that surrounds us… which ultimately challenges us to defy the very limits of how far the human spirit can soar.
They say rock’n’roll is a young man’s game. Imagine what they say about punk.
Bad Religion never worried much about what “they” say, and neither should you. Go by the energy, go by the intent, go by the WORK – of which this classic, groundbreaking hardcore band could never be accused of avoiding.
Aside from essentially defining the California half-pipe punk blueprint, Bad Religion has defied the usual trend-shifts or values-ditched ubiquities of the usual punk band storyline and morphed along with challenging album after challenging album amid astoundingly consistent touring, retaining their core audience while roping in subsequent generations of anxiously energetic kids.
The band has long settled into the current lineup who have arguably enacted to most muscular Bad Religion to ever grace a stage: Greg Graffin (vocals) and Jay Bentley (bass) join Brian Baker (guitarist since ’94), guitarist Mike Dimkich (9 years in), and drummer Jamie Miller, who’s already been with the band for seven years.
Bad Religion is in an almost singular position in the history of punk. Having formed right on the heels of the original explosion, they led the west coast arm of hardcore’s birth, adding their melodic riffs, zooming harmonies, and viciously verbose lyrical punch to the basic bash of hardcore. Then the band continued to expand their template through the ‘80s and into the
indebted “neo-punk” sound of the early ‘90s, and weathered the questionable dichotomies of the “alternative rock” era by doing what they’ve always done – releasing explosive album after album to consistent acclaim from fans and critics.
And if you’re positive there is no way they could keep doing the same thing all these years, you’d be right. They haven’t. They’ve continued to throw songwriting and production wrenches into the works so’s not to bore themselves or their never-diminishing following.
The re-rejuventaion started around 2007’s New Maps of Hell, with its titular nod to their classic debut album (How Could Hell Be Any Worse), matching that youthful fire with a deeper burn born of growing up though all the actual pain you worried might happen when you were a teen.
The Dissent of Man (2010) had the increasingly active professional author Greg Graffin unleash all the verbal venom he could most freely spew with his beloved punk band; while musically the band delved into some varying tempos. Then, with True North (2013), Graffin got even madder and the band followed suit. Then they immediately followed up with an album of rabid runs through holiday classics, Christmas Songs (2013), because why the fuck not. When Bad Religion is often described as “intellectual,” that doesn’t mean just their lyrics, it means their musical choices, like whipping up a completely unexpected and heartfelt Xmas record.
Six years passed, and one might’ve worried the band had been beaten down like every other good thing during the Trump years. But no! on 2019’s Age of Unreason, they gathered together 15 tracks of some of the best material of their career, adding a wee more production gleam
suited to amping up the songs to get through all the dispirited noise of that time, and mixing their perfect balance of dystopian dread and future hope into Age of Unreason.
Not that they had gone anywhere for those six years, except on tour, a lot. The current seven- year-running lineup can flesh out any of the band’s eras, but they seem perfectly suited for the band’s latter day catalog that’s so vehemently fueled by the third-gear aggression of a punk band who is still out there playing with, gathering energy from, and inspiring the newest punk bands — keeping these elder statesmen of punk sharp, incensed, and ready to go forward.
The band’s rep as socially aware thought-provokers can obscure the fact they’ve remained one of the most viscerally powerful live bands on the planet, remembering it’s the beats and riffs that get your ass off the couch in the first place.
Of course, being stuck to the couch was sometimes inescapable during our last terrible years of COVID fear. So once again leaning into their smarts, Bad Religion concocted an online run of eight, chronologically curated, streaming live show docuseries, recorded at the Roxy in Hollywood as COVID reared its ugly ass. Two seasons of career-highlighting, fan-thanking ballyhoo, featuring jaw dropping reminders of the band’s development in the face of often simplistic skate punk pigeonholing.
When he’s not stomping on some festival stage in front of thousands somewhere, singer Greg Graffin is a professor and author who has released numerous books on history and personal survival. He even garnered the prestigious Rushdie Award for Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy in 2008.
And in 2021, Bad Religion released its own long-awaited autobiography, Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion, credited to, of course, the whole band. While propped up on the band’s egalitarian legend, its focus is the long and moshing road of a band who probably would’ve laughed if you’d told their 20-something selves they’d be celebrating their 40th anniversary. Laughed, then strapped on their guitars and jumped out on stage again.
If you get to see Bad Religion – as they plan upcoming tours and festival shows by the end of the year – you’ll see that snotty 20-something is still kicking its way out.
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.
Over the past 3 years, YUNGBLUD has built a huge and devoted following of young people from all corners of the world that he considers a community rather than a fanbase. Bound by a love for his brilliantly outspoken and genre-bending version of 21st Century rock-and-roll music, that community has witnessed YUNGBLUD’s rise from a struggling musician living in a Northern England council flat to a global superstar hailed by Rolling Stone as a “pop-punk rebel on a mission.” But toward the end of touring behind his 2019 EP the underrated youth the 23-year-old artist felt suddenly overcome by a massive wave of insecurity.
“I realized that even though I’d been telling everyone for years that it’s all right to be who you are, I had no idea who I really was,” says the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist otherwise known as Dominic Harrison. “I was a nervous wreck and overcompensating all the time, so I decided to just stop everything and check myself.”
Within days of that revelation, Harrison wrote what would become the title track to his new album weird!: an urgent and soaring anthem that redefines individuality for the modern day. “That song is me saying it’s all right to feel like you’re 12 different people at once,” Harrison explains. “There doesn’t need to be any kind of cohesiveness in the way you think or look or behave—cohesive is for a textbook. So it’s okay to be completely full of contradictions, because that’s the nature of being a real human being.”
The second full-length from YUNGBLUD, weird! emerges as his most emotionally complex work to date. “It’s a story of coming-of-age and self-acceptance and liberation, in terms of sex and gender and drugs and heartbreak and all the other twists and turns we go through in life,” says Harrison, who refers to weird! as a “Skins” episode in album form. Doubling down on the raw vulnerability first glimpsed on his powerhouse debut album 21st Century Liability, weird! also looks back on moments of major upheaval that he’s endured in recent years. “I fell in love and got my heart broken, and when that happens it forces you to figure out who you really are—it just obliterates every single guard you’ve put up,” he says. “Making this album was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because I really had to look inside myself, but it’s also the most fun I’ve had in my entire life.”
True to YUNGBLUD’s refusal to box himself in, weird! embodies a wildly eclectic sound: Queen-inspired harmonies, Beatles-esque chord progressions, elements of dance-punk and glam-rock and hip-hop and metal. Working with his longtime producers/co-writers Matt Schwartz (Cold War Kids, Bullet For My Valentine), Zakk Cervini (Bishop Briggs, Machine Gun Kelly), and Chris Greatti (Poppy, Grimes), Harrison recorded at several studios in London and L.A., but also embedded the album with moments spontaneously captured on iPhone voice memos. “I love imperfections, and how they feel so real and pure and magic,” notes Harrison, naming hyper-creative and boundary-pushing musician/producers like Jeff Lynne among his key influences on weird!. “This record really taught me that there’s no limit to where I can go or what I can do with my music, as long as I completely believe in what I’m creating.”
On songs like “mars,” YUNGBLUD reveals the rare balance of conviction and sensitivity he brought to his songwriting and performance on weird!. With its delicate storytelling and tender vocal work, the acoustic-guitar-laced track shares the narrative of a young trans women Harrison met while playing Warped Tour in 2018. “She told me how her parents had come to the show with her, and how seeing our community helped them to understand that her coming out as trans wasn’t just a phase—this is who she really was,” he recalls. “It made me cry to think that we could have that kind of impact and change people’s perceptions, just by being ourselves.”
Another full-hearted celebration of self-discovery, “cotton candy” delivers a dreamy meditation on sexual liberation, unfolding in airy textures and impossibly sweet melodies. “To me sex and sexuality is about freedom and the idea that you can to lose yourself in other people of all genders, of all shapes and sizes, to find yourself and figure out who you truly are,” says Harrison, whose co-writers on “cotton candy” include the hitmaking duo Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter. Meanwhile, “strawberry lipstick” presents a delightfully warped portrait of all-consuming lust, its fuzzed-out riffs and explosive vocals giving way to a gloriously chaotic intensity.
One of the most poignant tracks on weird!, “god save me, but don’t drown me out” rides the line between desperation and defiance, gradually building to a transcendent moment of radical self-acceptance. “I wanted to paint a picture of what depression really feels like—where everyone can be screaming at you, but you just can’t hear anything at all,” says Harrison. “I wanted this video to ignite a resemblance or a spark of self-love to highlight the idea that if you ever feel like you can’t go on, it can get better.”
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Harrison first started using songwriting as catharsis at the young age of ten. After picking up a guitar at just two-years-old, he later moved on to bass, piano, and drums, independently releasing his debut single “King Charles” in spring 2017 and landing his record deal by that summer’s end. With 21st Century Liability arriving in July 2018, he’s since scored major hits with the gold-certified “11 Minutes” (with Halsey feat. Travis Barker) and the platinum-selling “I Think I’m OKAY” (a collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker that garnered a 2020 Billboard Music Awards nomination for Top Rock Song). Along with releasing the underrated youth (a top 10 debut on the UK Official Albums chart), YUNGBLUD put out Live In Atlanta—a 12-track effort showcasing the joyfully hellraising live performance he’s brought to sold-out crowds in countries around the world and to leading festivals like Lollapalooza, Reading and Leeds Festivals, and Austin City Limits. Endlessly prolific, YUNGBLUD has also created two graphic novels: The Twisted Tales of the Ritalin Club (his acclaimed 2019 debut) and The Twisted Tales of the Ritalin Club Volume 2: Weird Times at Quarry Banks University (its 2020 follow-up).
In the making of weird!, Harrison kept his community of fans at the forefront of his thought process behind every track. “When I finally get to play these songs live, I want to walk out to a crowd of people who feel liberated and happy and accepted, and feel like the reason we’re put on this Earth is a good one,” he says. So, while much of the album delves into painful subject matter, it ultimately telegraphs an undeniable sense of hope. “My first album was severely bratty because I was so angry at the world, but this album is about finding a community of people who understand me, and about figuring out who I am from a place of love and acceptance,” says Harrison. “I hope it makes people feel like it’s okay to feel out of place or twisted or weird, because life is weird—but that’s what beautiful about it. So don’t ever try to live it as someone else. Live it as you.”
Falling In Reverse
The fine line between genius and insanity, self-seriousness and self-deprecation, implosion and explosion: that is the phantom zone where Falling In Reverse thrives.
Falling In Reverse founder, frontman, and Machiavellian heroic supervillan / villainous superhero Ronnie Radke is the walking, talking, breathing, spitting, screaming, singing, fighting, loving, hyper-confident, sensitive, and vulnerable embodiment of a generation’s id. He’s the ego and super-ego in the classic Freudian sense, “slipping” all over the place with vicious bite and playful innuendo. With his music, art, and life, he is the living embodiment of broken homes, the frustrated contradiction of self-destruction, and everyday single-minded defiance against a world gone mad.
Coming Home is his latest reinvention, coming full-circle back to the start, reinvigorated as mad scientist conductor of soaring, transcendent, engaging alternative pop-rock with massive radio hooks and a still-beating heavy metal hardcore heart. ‘Broken,’ ‘Loser,’ ‘Hanging On,’ ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Coming Home’ are shocking in their epic scope, vibrant authenticity, and unrelenting dedication to personal truth.
He shoved the world of Warped Tour kicking and screaming into the vintage decadence of the hard rock scene with the band he formed with his childhood best friend in Las Vegas. Then, even as countless bands followed in his wake, he was on the stylistic move, dominating the social media conversation and crowd sing-alongs with Falling In Reverse’s debut album, The Drug in Me is You, now based in Southern California.
As Revolver, Kerrang!, Alternative Press, and the rest of the rock and metal press anointed him the scene’s new king on the strength of playful self-examinations-turned-anthems like ‘Raised By Wolves,’ ‘Tragic Magic’ and ‘I’m Not a Vampire,’ Radke and his crew shook up conventions once again, dropping the ironically titled Fashionably Late years before the audience at large had any suspicions about what would hit ‘em.
What began as the “worst music video of all time” (according to media tastemaker VICE) turned into another 20 million YouTube views (for a band closing in on roughly 100 million views total) in ‘Alone.’ Like many parts of the eclectic album, it’s a rap-metal hybrid with a forward thinking step into modern electro beats. Like the best of Radke’s work, the song serves as both hyper masculine anthem and anxiety confessional. The press and fans followed the band’s every move, documenting each twist and turn.
Just Like You mined similar territory with even more precision, from the title track to undeniable metalcore bangers like ‘Chemical Prisoner’ and ‘Guillotine IV (The Final Chapter)’ to the poppy crowd-mover ‘Sexy Drug’ and heartbreaking ballad ‘Brother.’
Coming Home is the most focused Falling In Reverse album, thematically and artistically. Crafted once again with Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash, Trivium), who has worked on every one of Radke’s records going back to the now-classic debut album from Escape The Fate, the record sees the group at their most atmospheric. It’s the latest bold step for a frontman who has defined himself by a mixture of courage and vulnerability, of bravado and introspection. He’s tightened his personal inner circle and withdrawn from the antics of the past as he’s poured even more of himself into his art.
Coming Home is the album Radke dreamed about making as a kid, teaching himself to play guitar with Blink-182 and Green Day songs, rapping along to Dr. Dre and Eminem, skipping school, going to shows, and doing whatever it took to redefine his life beyond the hardscrabble circumstances of his upbringing, even when the obstacles were of his own design. Now it’s time to get Coming Home to as many people as possible.
Falling In Reverse continues to champion the outsider, the cast aside, the underestimated, making music to empower and inspire life’s underdogs.
Recently recognized by Forbes as “one of modern metal’s most cherished acts,” KsE first shook the structure of heavy music upon climbing out of snowy industrialized Western Massachusetts in 1999. The band pioneered a DNA-distinct and oft-imitated style, fusing thrashed-out European guitar pyrotechnics, East Coast hardcore spirit, on-stage hijinks, and enlightened lyricism that set the pace for what the turn-of-the-century deemed heavy. 2002’s Alive Or Just Breathing, which followed an attention-getting, self-titled debut, earned its reputation as a definitive album and was named among “The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade” by Decibel and celebrated by everyone from Metal Hammer to Revolver.
KsE have garnered three GRAMMY®Award nominations in the category of “Best Metal Performance” in 2005, 2014, and 2020. They’ve received gold certifications for The End Of Heartache  and As Daylight Dies . The group landed three consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 with Killswitch Engage , Disarm The Descent , and their career high best bow at #6 with Incarnate . The latter two releases would also both capture #1 on the Top Rock Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums charts. Their total streams have exceeded half-a-billion to date. Spending most of their career on the road, KsE have shared stages with some of the biggest acts in the world and have sold out countless headline gigs in six continents across the globe.
The quintet—Adam Dutkiewicz [lead guitar], Joel Stroetzel [rhythm guitar], Mike D’Antonio [bass], Justin Foley [drums], and Jesse Leach [vocals]—sharpen every side of their signature sound on their eighth full-length and first for Metal Blade, Atonement. The vision they shared two decades ago crystalizes like never before as evidenced by singles “Unleashed,” “The Signal Fire” and “I Am Broken Too.” Atonement debuted #2 on the Billboard Top Album chart, #13 on the Billboard Top 200, and once again #1 on both the Top Rock and Hard Rock Album charts. KsE is now eager to take Atonement on the road to the masses.
Self-doubt and depression clawed at the edges of Lzzy Hale’s mind when it came time to pen Halestorm’s fourth album, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Wild Life. The musician didn’t feel like she was where she needed to be, both professionally and personally. When she and her bandmates, Arejay Hale, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith, began writing, Lzzy wasn’t even sure who she was. “I kept thinking, ‘Can I still do this?’” she says. “I went down a lot of rabbit holes, and I’m my own worst critic. I needed to get over a lot of internal hurdles during this writing and recording process. This record was about overcoming inner demons.”
The band began writing, but the first batch of songs didn’t feel quite right, so Halestorm scrapped it and started over. And in the end, Vicious represents Halestorm’s most personal and most inventive album, a deeply lived-with collection of songs teaming with genuine heart and soul. It’s also how Lzzy got her groove back. “I don’t think there was any other way for me to get through that difficult time than to write about it,” she says. “This record was like therapy.” The album was recorded with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains and Rush) at Nashville, TN’s Rock Falcon recording studio, and the producer, with whom the band had previously worked with on their 2017 covers EP ReAniMate 3.0: The CoVeRs eP, pushed each musician to a new place musically. Each song went through five or six versions, and ultimately carry the listener on a journey, emphasizing the band’s strengths while revealing a dynamic evolution.
“Nick pushed us from 10 to 11,” Lzzy says. “He pushed us mentally and physically. There are some things on this record that I didn’t think were physically possible for both myself and my bandmates. It was really exciting to see that happen for the first time in the studio. To be able to still surprise each other like that – and to surprise yourself – is no small feat.”
One of the main goals in the studio was to capture real, human moments within the music, the sorts of unexpected instances that occur onstage. In recent years, Halestorm has introduced improvised flashes into their live sets with the idea of creating controlled chaos between the more orchestrated songs. The music on Vicious embraces this sensibility. The musicians worked to ensure that every song had its own dynamic feeling, both overall and within each verse. “It wasn’t just about looping the same thing over and over again,” Lzzy notes. “The idea was: Where can we take this that’s not predicable?”
The resulting album, which was culled from over 20 recorded tunes, solidifies everything Halestorm stands for as a band. It’s about empowerment, an ideal that the musicians have encouraged for years, and the songs urge you to be unapologetically yourself. Ultimately, it’s not just about being strong and taking on the storm – but also about how you rise above that storm. The album’s title comes from “Vicious,” a gritty, surging rock number that was written during the last moments of studio time. The song features the line “What doesn’t kill me makes me vicious,” a rallying cry to overcome any obstacles. “It’s about being strong and fierce,” Lzzy says. “The climate of the world right now is always seeping in, so we wanted it to feel really positive and empowering.” “Uncomfortable,” one of the first songs written for the album, has a similar tone, featuring a rapid-fire verse and impressive vocal licks on the chorus. “You can’t please everybody as much as you may want to try,” Lzzy says of the song. “By being yourself you may make people uncomfortable. I saw a lot of our fans struggling with that. This song is saying that it’s okay to not make everyone happy all the time. You can be yourself and that’s okay. And, in fact, you should be proud of that.”
References to Halestorm’s fans and Lzzy’s constant interactions with them online or on Twitter thread through the album. The musician, who calls the band’s fanbase “our comrades in this crazy life,” wanted to drop Easter eggs into the lyrics, reminding longtime listeners of past conversations or instances in Lzzy’s personal life they’ll likely remember. “I feel like our fans deserve that type of openness from us at this point,” she says. “The love they’ve given us comes full circle.”
Since their inception in 1998, Halestorm have toured extensively with a diverse variety of artists, including Eric Church, Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, ZZ Top and Evanescence. They’ve played around 2,500 dates around the world to date, and performed at festivals like Taste of Chaos and Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. The band scored a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2013, and Lzzy was named the “Dimebag Darrell Shredder of the Year” at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards in 2016. Both Halestorm and The Strange Case of… were certified Gold, further evidencing Halestorm’s massively supportive fanbase. Halestorm have also made history: “Love Bites (So Do I),” the hit single from The Strange Case of… ascended to No. 1 at Active Rock radio in the U.S., making Halestorm the first-ever female-fronted group to earn the top spot on the format.
Today Halestorm exists as a beacon of hope and inspiration for musicians, particularly female musicians who want to brave the challenges of the music industry. Lzzy has been a pioneer in rock and proven that women have a place on the stage. Every night on tour, women – and men – in the audience can look to her and realize they too have the power to carve out their own path. Younger musicians admire her the same way she grew up admiring artists like Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. “They helped me feel like I could do it, and I hope I’ve done the same for women today,” Lzzy says. “Trying to be my best self and not trying to be anything I’m not and being unapologetic feels like a good message. I feel a lot of responsibility to keep upholding that. I’m just trying to be the best me.”
Two decades into an accomplished career, Halestorm represents the results of true passion and hard work. The band has out-survived many of its peers and the musicians are still having fun after all this time. Vicious is evidence of a group of artists who refuse to ever plateau.
“This music chose us and we’re just hanging on,” Lzzy says. “Our greatest accomplishment is that we’ve been the same members for over 15 years and we’re continuing to make and release music. We want to always try new things. We’re still extremely hungry and open to opportunities, and we’re hungry to prove we deserve to be here. We’re so lucky to still be a band and have people care about our music. And there’s still so much more to do.”
After more than two decades together, numerous top-charting releases, and countless worldwide tours, CHEVELLE—the outfit consisting of brothers Pete Loeffler [guitars, vocals], Sam Loeffler [drums]—have confidently sailed through decades of uncharted waters and have emerge with a sound that is equally intricate as it is intimate. Now, the understated musical powerhouse, who have consistently delivered rock anthems, will unleash their ninth full length album, NIRATIAS, on March 5th, 2021.
After almost 5 years between studio albums, the band felt despite the musical landscape growing more uncertain during unprecedented times, the time was right to unleash the new collection of songs.
“We decided that pandemic or not, we are a rock band. Writing and releasing music is just what we do,” the band says. “Even for our mental health, it’s reason enough to put NIRATIAS out and feel some normalcy and pride in what we have been working on. As music fans, we appreciate this from the bands we follow, and we hope our fans will appreciate it, too.”
NIRATIAS draws upon Pete’s fascination with space travel, simulation theory and a healthy distrust and skepticism of the unknown. NIRATIAS was recorded over 2019 and 2020 with longtime producer Joe Barresi.
The album builds upon the pair’s impressive discography. To-date, Chevelle has achieved Multi- Platinum, Platinum and Gold certifications across 8 studio albums and 7 number one hits, with 17 songs reaching the Top 10 on the Rock charts. The band has sold over 5 million albums in the US, and more world-wide. Their extensive body of acclaimed work includes the 2002 Multi-Platinum selling genre staple Wonder What’s Next and the 2004 Platinum selling follow-up This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In, which debuted #8 on the Billboard Top 200. The releases that followed held their own against the ever changing faces of popular music: 2007’s Gold record selling Vena Sera reached #2 on the Billboard Rock Albums Chart while 2009’s Sci-Fi Crimes debuted #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the Alternative Chart. 2011’s Hats Off to The Bull (#5 on Billboard Top 200), 2014’s La Gargola (#3), and 2016’s The North Corridor (#8, #1 Rock) built upon the success. In 2018, Chevelle released a B-sides and rarities collection entitled 12 Bloody Spies while they wrote and recorded the new album.
With no signs of this Chicago alternative rock staple slowing down, their numerous chart topping releases have certainly earned this band their place in American rock music history. NIRATIAS will be sure to add another chapter to the extensive catalog of this successful music career.
“You don’t want to repeat yourself,” affirms Sam. “We want to seize something different with each song. Every record has to take on its own identity. As an artist, you have to progress and evolve.” As they continue to master their craft, Chevelle take on the critics and prove time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots are no strangers to change. Unpredictably has shaped the Grammy®- winning group since it emerged as one of the best-selling bands of the 1990s. More than 25 years later, the band is reborn once again on its seventh studio album – its first with new singer Jeff Gutt, a veteran of the Detroit music scene.
STP founding members Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz introduced Gutt in November, moments before he joined them on stage at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for the band’s first concert together.
The path leading up to that show began in September 2016 when Gutt was invited to join the band after an extensive search to find the group’s third singer. The transition was virtually seamless, Kretz recalls. “The chemistry was there from the start, and Jeff kept coming up with one great melody after another. We ended up finishing 14 songs, which is the most that Stone Temple Pilots has ever recorded for an album.”
The group recorded over several months in Los Angeles at Robert’s home studio. One of the earliest songs to take shape was “Meadow,” a straight-ahead rocker that became the album’s lead single. “We’d written several songs before Jeff joined, and he took everything we threw at him and ran with it lyrically and melodically. What impressed all of us is how he lets the song dictate his direction instead of the other way around,” Robert says.
Gutt says the band really clicked after writing its first song together, a track called “The Art of Letting Go.” “Dean was messing around on an acoustic guitar and I started singing along. Pretty soon, everyone was in the room and all the pieces fell into place. It’s such a beautiful song and something we’re all very proud of.”
Stone Temple Pilots will return to the road for the first time in more than two years for a North American tour in 2018.
There are a lot of bands who claim to wear their hearts on their sleeves, but for Texan quartet Nothing More that sentiment could scarcely be more literal. “When we first started, we branded ourselves on the arm after each year of touring, so we’ve all got these scars now, reminding us of the commitment we made to each other,” confides frontman Jonny Hawkins. To say that this is a band who are dedicated to their cause would be to understate the case somewhat.
Hailing from San Antonio, Nothing More is a four-headed musical hydra that runs on frenetic passion, unswerving DIY spirit and relentless sonic experimentation. Part schizoid System Of A Down weird-isms, part Mars Volta-esque prog rock freak out, part effortless pop nous, they seamlessly barrel from churning headbang to skyscraping chorus and back again in the blink of an eye. Capable of bombastic bounce that hits as hard as an uppercut to the jaw when they fancy it, the boys from The Alamo City are equally able to dial down their bluster into deft moments of crystalline beauty when the mood takes them. It’s a gut-punching blend made all the more powerful by a keen lyrical sophistication and philosophical undertone which both belies their years and marks them out from their contemporaries.
Forming initially as Middle school kids whose aspirations were as serious then as they are now, Nothing More’s early development took place against a backdrop of suburban boredom and rabid musical obsession. Having tasted the addictive elixir of rock ‘n’ roll the band realized they were at a crossroads when they reached college age. “Everyone was telling us to stay in school,” admits Hawkins “but for us that would have been settling. Having a plan B is a recipe for failure. We decided that we had to ignore everyone’s advice and totally dedicate ourselves to being in this band.”
And dedicate themselves they did. From fixing up their first tour van out of a derelict, raccoon infested RV to making their own stage rigs for their impassioned live show, the quartet literally built everything they have from the ground up. Those first tours, the ones that wrought the aforementioned scars, were formative in more ways than one. As the four young men saw and experienced more of the world, their spiritual and philosophical outlook began to evolve. “That period of growth was a real struggle for us individually and collectively,” confirms Hawkins “but it made us a lot more open to other ideas and gave us a deeper faith in our own instincts. I think that reflects in our music.”
The drips of those new ideas eventually became a flood and the narrow lens of the western paradigm they were born into was soon replaced with a more holistic world view, striking a balance between rationalism, empiricism and their own intuitions. It’s the journey to find truth that has enabled them deal with the existential and the personal in equal measure, and, more importantly, rendered them a band with something to say and no fear of saying it.
“There’s an old adage which goes ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ That is basically what we are about,” intones the singer. “It’s not about us ramming our views on religion, or philosophy, or politics down anyone’s throats – it’s about providing the opportunity for people to explore things themselves and challenging their reality.”
That Nothing More have undergone a spiritual awakening of sorts ought not to distract from the fact that, in the live arena, they are absolute animals. Raw aggression crashing alongside precise riffing, thunderous bass and nigh on tribal percussion to jaw-dropping effect on a nightly basis. The dictionary definition of ‘get in the van and play until you’re dynamite live’, they’ve grown through the grassroots by dripping blood sweat and tears across America, challenging the stereotypes of what you might think a band like this can incorporate into their show. Four way drum battles? Three members playing one bass guitar? These guys push the limits in more ways than one.
Nothing More are that rarest of things, a band with the heart, the soul, the brains and the guts to capture your heart and spark your mind. A new generation of rock stars who are unconcerned with fabricated notions of how and where they might fit in or what the hottest trend is, but simply focused on making honest, passionate art with real intent. “We want to be a church for people who don’t believe the things that churches believe,” concludes Hawkins. “We want to connect people and connect with people.” And what better way to do that than with uncompromising music built on uncompromised principles, fought for and earned the hard way. Nothing More? Accept nothing less.
A Day To Remember
Over the course of the past several years, each of A Day To Remember’s releases have hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Indie and/or Alternative Charts. They’ve also sold more than a million units, racked up over 400 million Spotify streams and 500 million YouTube views, garnered two gold-selling albums and singles (and one silver album in the UK) and sold out entire continental tours (including their own curated Self Help Festival), amassing a global fanbase whose members number in the millions. All of which explains why Rolling Stone called them “An Artist You Need To Know.” In other words, their creative process has worked and worked well.
But for new album Bad Vibrations, the Ocala, Florida-based quintet of vocalist Jeremy McKinnon, guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall, bassist Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt switched gears and headed for uncharted territory. Their path included a loose and much more collaborative songwriting process, one that also saw them recording for the first time with producers Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX). And though the album’s being released on the band’s own ADTR Records (like 2013′s Common Courtesy), this record marks their first distribution deal with Epitaph and is the first time they’ve worked with Grammy winner Andy Wallace (Foo Fighters, Slayer), who was brought in to mix.
“We completely changed the way we wrote, recorded and mixed this album,” says vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. “It was one of the most unique recording experiences we’ve ever had. We rented a cabin in the Colorado mountains and just wrote with the five of us together in a room, which was the polar opposite of the last three albums we’ve made. We just let things happen organically and in the moment. I think it forever changed the way we make music. And working with Bill was an awesome experience. He was a bit hard to read at first, so I think we subconsciously pushed ourselves harder to try to impress him. As a result, we gave this album everything we had.”
Recorded at Stevenson’s Fort Collins-based Blasting Room Studios, Bad Vibrations masterfully channels the kinetic energy that recently found A Day To Remember named “The Best Live Band Of 2015″ by Alternative Press. The band decided to forgo digitally driven production and focus on live recording. “These days it seems like a lot of heavy sounding music is heading more and more in a digital direction,” notes McKinnon. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we wanted to go the opposite way and make something that’s aggressive but has more of a natural flow and feel to it.”
By powering Bad Vibrations with so much raw passion, A Day To Remember ultimately deliver some of their most emotionally intense material to date. “I’m like a child screaming in a room when I write,” laughs McKinnon. “I’m singing about the things that are frustrating me, but at some point there’s an arc within the song. It’s almost like I’m giving advice to another person about whatever I’m struggling with, but I think I’m really just trying to give that advice to myself.”
The catharsis-inducing album sees the band tackling duplicity and deception (on the gloriously frenzied ‘Same About You’), the destructive nature of judgmental behavior (on ‘Justified,’ a track shot through with soaring harmonies and sprawling guitar work), addiction (on the darkly charged ‘Reassemble’), and friendship poisoned by unchecked ego (on ‘Bullfight,’ a track with a classic-punk chorus that brilliantly gives way to a Viking-metal-inspired bridge).
‘Paranoia,’ one of the most urgent tracks on Bad Vibrations, fuses fitful tempos and thrashing riffs in its powerful portrait of mental unraveling—an idea born from the band’s commitment to close collaboration in making the album. “Originally it was a joke song about someone being paranoid, but then Neil and Kevin and I started brainstorming lyrics together, which we’d never done before,” recalls McKinnon. “It ended up being shaped so that the verse is a person talking to a psychiatrist, the pre-chorus is the psychiatrist talking back to that person, and then the chorus is paranoia personified. The whole thing just exploded and came together in this really cool way.”
On ‘Naivety,’ the band slips into a melancholy mood that’s perfectly matched by the song’s bittersweet, pop-perfect melody. Says McKinnon, “It’s about that journey when you’re getting older and starting to view the world as a little less magical than you used to, and you’re missing that youthful enthusiasm from when you were a kid.”
Ultimately, McKinnon says that this particular album-making process breathed new life into the band. “Breaking out of our comfort zone and working in a less controlled way, we ended up making something that feels good to everyone, and we can’t wait to go out and tour on it,” he says. “I think a big part of why our music connects with people is that they’re able to get such an emotional release from our songs. And while most of the songs are me venting about whatever’s affecting me at the time, people who are going through something similar can see that it’s coming from a real, honest place. That’s really the core of what A Day To Remember has always been.”
Bad Vibrations debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top Album Sales Chart. It was also the #1 album in Australia, #6 in the UK and #7 in Germany. After a summer / fall tour with Blink-182, A Day To Remember headlined the Bad Vibes World Tour in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia.
2017 saw A Day To Remember play Download Festival in the UK and the X Games Minneapolis among other festival shows in the US and Europe. On March 18th, the band received the keys to the city of Ocala from Mayor Kent Guinn and performed a sold out hometown concert before supporting Avenged Sevenfold on select dates of their summer tour, playing their own headline shows with support from Moose Blood and Wage War and presenting 3 stops of their Self Help Festival. In October, Jeremy McKinnon joined Linkin Park on stage at the Hollywood Bowl to perform ‘A Place For My Head’ in honor of Chester Bennington.
The following year, A Day To Remember celebrated 15 years of being a band with a headline US tour supported by Papa Roach and Falling In Reverse that included a headline slot at Self Help Festival in San Bernardino, California. They also played North American festivals including Inkcarceration, Montebello Rockfest, Las Rageous and Buku.
Bring Me The Horizon
And it was all going so well.
In early 2019, Bring Me The Horizon released amo. As frontman Oli Sykes said at the time, with their sixth album the band set out to be deliberately disruptive. The message was: “Whatever you might think or imagine about this album, don’t make up your mind until you’ve listened to it from start to finish. It’s not just heavy songs, it’s not just commercial hits, it’s not just mad electronic music, it’s not a full-on art piece It’s got bits of all of that.”So, nothing was off the table, everything was up for grabs, and let the chips fall where they may. Sixteen years into their life, the Sheffield five-piece had earned the right and the space to, well, fuck things up.
The results? “Shit that’s never happened to our band before,” replies Sykes now. There was a BRIT Award nomination, for Best Group, and two Grammy shouts, for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song for Mantra. “We definitely felt like amo took us to some new places,” he adds, and he means that literally as well as figuratively – BMTH toured the world with amo, then toured some more. They had to: with amo debuting at Number One in 17 international territories, there was global hunger like never before for the multi-platinum-selling quintet. They even did a beautifully affecting cover of Billie Eilish’s when the party’s over for Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Then, while on a run of Eastern European festivals last summer, they got the call for which songwriter Sykes – a computer game fiend, the band’s video director and co-producer, a man with 360 vision for what this band could be and where they could reach – had been waiting forever: would BMTH write a song for Death Stranding? “That had been talked about for nearly as long as the game has been talked about,” recalls Sykes, a fan of the blockbuster computer game since long before its initial release in 2019. “But nothing ever came of it – until literally a week before the deadline. “And this was Monday, and we had absolutely nothing. But Hideo Kojima who made Death Stranding is my favourite video game producer of all time – our song Shadow Moses is an ode to Metal Gear Solid, another of his games – so we had to try.”
He and keyboard player, co-producer and engineer Jordan Fish set up studio in hotel room, and dived into the lore of the game. “Hideo has a thing about this word ludens– Greek for man, the player, and this ethos about how human creativity is what makes us survive, persevere and prosper. “This dovetailed with this long-term vegan doubling down on his interest in climate change and a shitty grab-bag of geo-political crises, all of which pushed him to wrote a song that’s “hopeful but devastated about the state of the world”. Smashed out in five days in ad hoc hotel-bedroom studios across Madrid, Moscow and Kiev, with drums added in Bologna, Ludens was the result. Released last November, it’s a rhythmic, martial stomp with a dirty techno backbeat – and it’s the sound of BMTH popping off. Sykes’ video, too, was equally bracing, the images of a moshpit of placard-wielding protestors declaring “You Abused The Power” and a masked drummer leaping from the screen as the singer wonders: “How do we form a connection when we can’t even shake hands?”As a way-marker for the next phase of their band, Ludens was perfect. As 2020 dawned, BMTH gathered in their Sheffield HQ and put their shoulder to the wheel for their next thrilling phase. And then…“With Ludens, I thought I was writing about the distant future,” the frontman reflects wryly. “But in reality it was just around the corner.”
When lockdown bit, BMTH were scattered: Sykes, guitarist Lee Malia and drummer Matt Nicholls were in Sheffield. Fish was in “down south” in Newbury, Berkshire. Bassist Matt Kean was in Los Angeles. Plans to write and record together were hastily scrambled and reassembled. The anti-socially distanced band had to find a way to coalesce and cohere, both in the songwriting and production processes, and round a new sense of meaning to their music. Another pre-existing song offered a way forward. A sketched out version of a track called Parasite Eve was already in existence. But even in its rough form, like Ludens, it felt bang on the money and eerily prescient. Outraged, angry, emotional: Parasite Eve would be the perfect opener for a narrative EP Sykes envisaged as soundtracking these chaotic times. Its title would tell it like it is. Post Human: Survival Horror.
“To start the story, we knew we needed something darker, angrier, to reflect this period. And Parasite Eve became that song. Its name comes from an old survival/horror video game and, like Ludens, it was a mixture of our old sounds but then coupled with what we’ve been doing in more recent times: heavy but with the pop sensibilities we’ve learnt over the years.” A sample of Erghen Diado from Bulgarian folk choir album Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares was the perfect opener for Parasite Eve, like curtains parting to reveal a very real, very now horrorshow.
“It just encapsulates the idea of a pandemic – they way they sing those scales just makes you feel disquiet. It’s the sound of the zombie apocalypse,” he smiles. “And that became the centrepiece of the record – songs that were reactive to the times, which was initially pure coincidence,” he continues. “Then that became exciting. What if we can record this music right now and get it out while people are still feeling this shit? What if we can do it at home? “What could be more relevant, and what could be more meaningful?” The creative taps now fully open, out poured Obey. As the band wrote, the songs’ heavier edge became paramount. “I wanted all the lyrics to feel dystopian, cyber-punky, with a doomsday video game feel to it. That was the brief for every song, and I think Obey has that most. The point of references came from Blade, The Matrix and films like that. “And then I’d say the verse, the vocals took a bit of a Britpop turn. It just felt like something that Yungblud could do really well. We’d hung out a couple of times and got on really well. I saw myself in him when we were just starting out, speaking out, being himself, polarising people, people loved him, people didn’t get him. I thought he was just a real genuine kid.” At the suggestion of Fish, Sykes sent the demo to his fellow Yorkshireman in LA, “and he texted back literally five seconds later: ‘I’m in. I’m going to the studio now!’” Sykes jumped to it and stayed up all night online with Yungblud, working on the lyrics. “And he just fucking killed it. You can hear the energy in the song, how immediate it was. By the next morning we had a completed song, that had come together in an organic but such an energetic way.”
Then, the creative torrent turned to Teardrops. “It just feels like a classic, proper Bring Me The Horizon tune,” offers Sykes of a song that’s both giant and intimate, enraged and soulful, singalong and head-banging, “without feeling like anything we’ve done before. I think a lot of our fans value the emotion and connection they feel with our lyrics. I’ve always felt that in songs like Can You Feel My Heart and Sleepwalking – they just speak to so many people. And I think Teardrops is one of the best things we’ve ever done.” Sykes recently completed filming of the video, including one day shooting himself underwater in a water tank. “It’s me falling into a hole of depression, using the underwater scenes as a representation of how it feels to be lost or trapped in your own thoughts, to be weighed down by the burden of your mind. “The song as a whole is about how much our society is toxic and harmful – which has been amplified even more this year – but we’ve all been oppressed… Then there are people who’ve really been oppressed, by police brutality in America. We’re getting beaten over the head every day with new news headlines, or social media. It’s really worrying for the generation that’s growing up into this, lost in their screens all the time. “We’ve been traumatised by paranoia and fear – and now we’re numb to it. So the song is about all that, to be in that place.”
These songs – Parasite Eve, Teardrops, Obey, Ludens – are, chronologically, instalments in the nine-chapter narrative that is Post Human: Survival Horror. Let’s not give away the full plot right here… not least because none of us know how this story is going to end, right? But we can introduce the other characters. Helping with Sykes and Fish with production is Mick Gordon. He’s worked on “some really big video games like Doom, so he brought that element to it”. He also served: Zakk Cervini, who mixed the tracks in LA. Step forward, too, Babymetal on the ferocious Kingslayer. “They made it sound like an anime theme tune, to be honest!” laughs Sykes. “Which is exactly what we wanted. And with it being the heaviest song on the album, definitely vocally, the contrast of going from these super brutal heavy verses, into this super melodic and cutesy Japanese singing just gives it a vibe like nothing we’ve ever had before.” Then, on 1 x 1, we have Nova Twins, an act Sykes discovered on Spotify in lockdown. He had no idea who the London female duo were or where they were from. But he saw that they followed BMTH, so messaged them – and mutual love abounded. He thought they’d be perfect for the track, sent it over, “and Bob’s your uncle,” he grins. “Their vocals have an attitude that really fitted with the track.”
Finally, closing the album, we have the ultimate BMTH song – and song title: One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March To Your Death. “I’ve had that title, or a version of it, for ages,” admits Sykes, “but it was ‘butterflies in your stomach’, which is a bit more of a suggestion of love. And every time I wrote a song I’d try to get it in there, and Jordan would always say: ‘Nah mate, it’s not gonna work…’ “But then with this it finally worked, with the butterflies in your chest suggesting fear. “I wanted the song to feel like a love song ballad, but it’s actually about our relationship with the planet. And Amy’s vocals represent Mother Earth, and I represent mankind.” Amy is none other than Amy Lee, Evanescence’s inimitably glorious and powerful vocalist. “That song had a big operatic, classical feel, and she was perfect for it.”
This, then is Post Human: Survival Horror. It’s a record made in lockdown, of lockdown. A set of songs constrained by pandemic, but also inspired by pandemic. A necessarily home-made nine-track EP, but one with true global reach and relevance. A Bring Me The Horizon record, and then some. “This is the first record we’ve written where the lyrics aren’t just directly about me and my experiences,” notes Oli Sykes. “That’s probably partly because I’ve always had something fairly traumatic to write about, whether it’s drug addiction or a break-up and divorce. “So I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved, and it’s really exciting to be putting out a record that’s much bigger than myself and is about what’s happening now, in the world, to all of us, in real time.” Because, as the man says, “when walking out your front door is potentially deadly, I don’t think it’s over-the-top to say it is survival horror.” Yes, it was all going so well. Then it all went to shit. But Bring Me The Horizon, true to defiant, inventive, up-for-it form, have alchemised proper gold from that shit.
Lamb Of God
“For millions of headbangers, Lamb of God are simply the most important contemporary metal band in the world.” – Guitar World
Demagoguery, divisiveness, unrest, desperation, poverty, exploitation: if ever there were a time for a definitive mission statement from the modern standard-bearers of extreme music fury, that time is now. Thankfully, for the anxious and restless around the world, LAMB OF GOD delivers.
It’s not an accident that the latest album from the internationally acclaimed metal institution arrives with nothing more than LAMB OF GOD as its title. On their eighth studio album, the prime architects of the explosive New Wave of American Heavy Metal assemble ten songs of unrelenting might, encompassing every aspect of what they do best. The Grammy-nominated titans, beloved around the world with the same devotion as spiritual forefathers and touring comrades Slayer and Metallica, enter the new decade with an uncompromising new testament.
The band’s first album in nearly five years is a bold declaration of identity and intent, backed by the sharpest weapons in their renowned arsenal, from the invigorating dynamic anthem “Memento Mori” to the breakneck pummel of the penultimate album closer, “On the Hook.”
D. Randall Blythe is as angry, insightful, and informed as ever, contextualizing and harnessing a subcultural born angst with an everyman venom no politician could possess. Guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler riff as if they may never riff again, injecting the album with a mountain of thrash, groove, shred, and stripped-down aggression in equal measure, demonstrating more than ever before why Guitar World hails them for their eclectic “wizardry.”
The formidable and fluid bass playing of John Campbell looms large as a rhythmic shadow, making use of every fingertip with the same aggression found on the Burn the Priest demo tape in 1997, finetuned by more than two decades of experience in clubs, theaters, arenas, and festival stages. Art Cruz, who rose to prominence as one of the genre’s top touring drummers with Lamb of God as his favorite band, makes his recorded debut with the band with a whirlwind introduction. Like the historic additions of Bruce Dickinson, Jason Newsted, or Paul Bostaph, Cruz commands his position with passion, sweat, and expansive dynamics, reenergizing Lamb of God’s overall sound.
Twenty years prior to the release of Lamb of God, the Richmond, Virginia born quintet gave heavy metal a violent shove into the new millennium with the prophetically titled New American Gospel. Kerrang! called it the “dawn for the most brutally aggressive band since Pantera.” As the Palaces Burn (2003) made the Rolling Stone list of the Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
Ashes of the Wake (2004) was the first Lamb Of Gold album to be certified gold by the RIAA, a feat all but impossible for a contemporary extreme metal band. Sacrament (2006) went gold as well, on the heels of its Top 10 Billboard 200 chart debut. Instant classics “Walk with Me in Hell” and “Redneck” contributed to Sacrament’s Album of the Year status in Revolver Magazine.
The raw and organic malice of Wrath (2009), which began the band’s enduring relationship with producer Josh Wilbur (Gojira, Avenged Sevenfold, Korn), earned Lamb of God the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hard Rock, Rock, and Tastemaker charts, with a No. 2 position on the Billboard 200. Those No. 1 positions were repeated with the boundary-smashing Resolution (2012), which swung effortlessly between thrash, traditional metal, sludgy doom, and flashes of crust punk with swagger and bravado. Like its predecessor, VII: Sturm und Drang (2015) debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It was voted Best Metal Album of 2015 by the often difficult-to-please Metal Sucks, and the single “512” received a Grammy nod for the “Best Metal Performance”, their fifth nomination.
Multiple cover stories over the years, published by the likes of Revolver, Metal Hammer, Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Rock Hard, Decibel, Outburn, and even the Indian edition of Rolling Stone, demonstrate the massive interest in what Randy Blythe has to say. And there is no shortage of topics on Lamb of God, delivered through the author and photographer’s most famous medium. There was no shortage of riffs, either, the result of multiple sessions spread over several months.
Lamb of God was even more collaborative than recent records, where the track listings could be broken down more easily into “this is a Mark song, this is a Willie song.” As Morton explains, they began to consciously move back toward a more mashed up approach with VII, hearkening back to the days of As the Palaces Burn. “It started on the last record and continued on this one.”
“We both had a lot of material going into this album, but we made an effort to really have each other’s back,” Adler confirms. “We wanted to get back to the way that we used to do it.”
“I heard the demos from the writing sessions soon after they were done,” Blythe recalls. “There’s Willie’s demonically prolific output, along with Mark’s, and it came in waves. It was alarming.”
The guitarists got together several times to sort through songs and collaborate, in different locales, alongside Wilbur at The Halo Studio in the South Windham historic district of Maine or at a studio in Virginia Beach, about 90 minutes from Richmond. Work on the instrumental demos was broken up by the group’s main support slot on Slayer’s “The Final Campaign”, providing distance from the works-in-progress as they played their best-known songs. “I was really stoked on that aspect of it,” Adler says. “Moving forward, I would vote to do it the same way again.”
Morton agrees. “Normally it’s preproduction and then straight into the studio, but the way this one was fragmented and spaced out – sometimes by months – was really beneficial.” Once the band came together in Mark’s detached garage, where they rehearse, the songs came together as well. As Campbell notes, “Resurrection Man” is “a song that came together in that room, in preproduction, as opposed to the songs Willie and Mark had worked up beforehand.”
Blythe came armed to disrupt, demolish, and rebuild in all of the ways only aggressive music can, taking a page from the revolutionary self-starting personal politics of early punk, with an atom bomb sized disdain for current affairs. There aren’t any songs about any specific individual. Instead the record examines the state of the world and looks to the root causes of our problems.
“You try to pick the lesser of / but evil doesn’t come in twos,” Blythe warns in “Checkmate,” the second song on Lamb of God. “Make America hate again and bleed the sheep to sleep.” In “New Colossal Hate,” he laments, “the melting pot is melting down.” The epidemic of addiction is another target of the singer’s ire, as he links the opioid crisis to crack cocaine, to the Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra scandal, and of course, to Park Avenue. “Reality Bath” takes an unflinching look at mass shootings, with extra venom reserved for perhaps the vilest of them all: in schools.
“It’s addressing this whole generation, my daughter included, that’s growing up learning to hide in active shooter situations,” says Mark. “The second verse is about the rainforest disappearing. It’s talking about real things, very current subject matter, but it’s also a throwback to me, in a sense. It reminds me of when I was coming up as a teenager, when thrash music was very topical. I learned about a lot of issues and had a lot of conversations through music. Whether it was Sacred Reich or Megadeth, thrash metal was very political. This album has a lot of that.”
“Everything is shifting so swiftly, it’s impossible to put your finger on any one topical issue, since it’ll change tomorrow, so I chose to write this record about the global mental environment that has allowed this fucked up situation to occur,” Blythe explains. “I wrote down a list of topics I wanted to address. ‘Where did all this craziness start?’ The societal sickness from whence everything stems. I believe all of our problems stem from the creation of consumer culture, starting with the Industrial Revolution. And that’s what inspired the song, ‘Gears.’”
“Distraction flows down an obsessive stream / rejection grows into oppressive screams.” “Memento Mori” observes seeing the dangers inherent to a constantly “connected” culture. But it isn’t delivered without hope. “A prime directive to disconnect / reclaim yourself and resurrect.”
“Memento Mori” opens the album, but it arrives at the middle point in the lyric sheet. “There are two sequences,” notes Randy.” There’s the musical sequence, which is the flow of the album, and then there’s the lyrical sequence. In the lyric booklet, the lyrics are printed sequentially. I start by pointing out several glaring problems, the most important ones in my mind, and the root of them. Then it moves into a feeling that you can resist this stuff, to a feeling of hope. I could sit here and be a negative Nancy, and just write a completely 100% nihilist record, which I might have done if I were still 27 years old and drinking. It was important for me to have positivity in here, to keep the PMA, as the bad brains have taught us, which starts on an individual level.”
Even in an age of streaming and shuffling, sequencing remains of paramount importance to all five men of Lamb of God. “Albums are meant to be listened to front to back,” declares Adler. “We are privileged just to be able to release an album into the world. [But] you can have a bunch of great songs but if they’re not in the right order then an album just isn’t what it should be.”
“Every time we put out a record, we’ve had many somewhat heated discussions about [the song order],” Campbell says. “We very much look at it as an album more than a collection of songs.”
“This album is very representative of everything that Lamb of God does,” Morton declares. Which comes back to the decision to call the album, simply, LAMB OF GOD. “The whole vibe within the camp at this moment just lends itself to it,” Adler says.
“We feel very strongly about this record and about who and what we are,” Campbell agrees. “Putting our name on it is a statement,” Randy says. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now.”
Evanescence is the multi-platinum, two-time GRAMMY-winning rock band comprised of lead singer-songwriter and pianist Amy Lee, bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, lead guitarist Troy McLawhorn, and guitarist and backing vocalist Jen Majura. The group’s 2003 landmark debut album Fallen laid the foundation, spending 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 and selling more than 17 million copies worldwide. Several sold-out world tours and chart-topping albums later, this year Evanescence released their newest studio album and first of all original music in a decade, ‘The Bitter Truth.’ About the power of pushing through tragedy and finding the light after the darkness, ‘The Bitter Truth’ opened at #1 on the Current Rock chart and on the overall iTunes charts in 22 countries. Selected songs include “Wasted On You” & “Use My Voice,” both of which were nominated for MTV Video Awards, “Use My Voice,” HeadCount’s 2020 voter-registration theme song, and “Better Without You,” a Top-10 charting song at US Rock Radio.
Multi-platinum, record-breaking band Shinedown – Brent Smith [vocals], Zach Myers [guitar], Eric Bass [bass, production], and Barry Kerch [drums] – has sold more than 10 million albums and 10 million singles worldwide, earned 14 platinum and gold singles, 5 platinum and gold albums, 16 #1 Active Rock hits, and amassed more than 4.5 billion total streams. Each of Shinedown’s 27 charting singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart has reached the Top 5 – an unparalleled achievement – and they hold the record for most Top 5s ever on this chart. Their hit songs “Atlas Falls,” “ATTENTION ATTENTION,” “GET UP,” “MONSTERS” and “DEVIL” bring their total to 17 #1s on the Mediabase Active Rock Chart and 16 #1s on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart, breaking the record for the most #1s ever in the history of the Billboard chart. Shinedown was also recently named #1 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Mainstream Rock Artists Chart.
Shinedown’s film ATTENTION ATTENTION, directed by Bill Yukich (Beyoncé, Metallica, Wiz Khalifa), is a cinematic experience of their 2018 studio album of the same name and is out now via Gravitas Ventures. The film features theatrical performances from the band, Melora Walters (Magnolia, Big Love, PEN15), and Francesca Eastwood (Old, Twin Peaks, Fargo), and is available on digital and cable VOD in the U.S. and Canada on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Comcast, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, and Mediacom, among others – PRESS HERE to purchase, PRESS HERE to watch the trailer. ATTENTION ATTENTION is a visual journey that brings to life the story of the band’s acclaimed chart-topping sixth full-length and latest album which ushered in their biggest and boldest chapter to date. Shinedown’s distinct mix of explosive rock ‘n’ roll spirit, thought-provoking lyrics, and melodic sensibility on ATTENTION ATTENTION (Atlantic Records) has accumulated more than 622 million global streams, debuted Top 5 on the Billboard 200, simultaneously hit #1 on Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock and Hard Rock Albums Charts, led to five iHeart Radio Music Award nominations for Rock Artist of the Year (2019, 2020, 2021) and Rock Song of the Year (2019, 2020), and major media acclaim. From life’s lowest lows to the highest highs, what emerges from the film is a powerful and enduring statement about humanity, overcoming struggle, the importance of mental health, not being afraid to fail, and the resolve of the human spirit.
Hailed for their high-octane live shows, Shinedown continues to engender diehard love from millions of global fans and has racked up countless sold-out tours and festival headlining sets as well as numerous national television appearances. The band is playing to sold-out arenas in the U.S., backed by their biggest, most eye-popping production yet and propelled by the undeniable power of front man Brent Smith’s voice.
You know it’s Danzig the moment you hear him.
It’s not just that inimitable voice either. It’s the thick airy guitars, bluesy swagger, and “come hither” evil that placed him at the forefront of a number of musical revolutions. Due to his ingenuity & songwriting, horror and punk formally collided with The Misfits’ genesis in the seventies. Anytime you see that iconic Misfits skull, you’ll immediately think of his howl fueling punk classics like 1982’s Walk Among Us or 1983’s Wolf’s Blood/Earth A.D. His vision for Samhain and albums such as Initium and November-Coming-Fire, to name a few, indelibly impacted the landscape of extreme music, fortifying the crossroads between heavy riffs and occult imagery so prevalent these days. Then, there’s his eponymous band—Danzig. 1988’s self-titled debut would go platinum and yield classics including “Mother,” “Twist of Cain,” and “She Rides,” while overall sales across his catalog exceed 10 million worldwide to date & counting.
Moreover, you can consistently feel his presence throughout pop culture, whether it’s his music soundtracking moments esp. in The Hangover film series, at the personal request of director Todd Phillips, or Artists ranging from Johnny Cash & Roy Orbison to Guns & Roses, Metallica, My Chemical Romance & many, many more recording his songs.
That imprint expanded further with his successful Verotik Comics line and feature film directorial debut titled “Verotika” based on edgy characters from his Verotik Comics.
Danzig’s love of Film started when he attended the New York institute of Photography as a teen.
This continued on as he began directing music videos for his band Danzig with over 25 to his credit & Home Video compilations both certified Gold & Platinum.
His second Feature film a Vampire-Spaghetti Western “Death Rider in the House of Vampires” just released in late Summer is Danzig’s homage to classic Vampire Films & Italian Westerns stars Julian Sands, Devon Sawa, Danny Trejo & Director Eli Roth. Singer, Songwriter, Producer & now Film Director, Glenn Danzig is showing no signs of slowing down creatively, constantly expanding his Universe.
Rob Zombie achieved great success in the music industry, first as a member of the multi-platinum band White Zombie and later as a solo artist with even greater results collecting numerous multi-platinum and gold albums along the way including Hellbilly Deluxe, The Sinister Urge and Educated Horses. In 2013, the seven-time GRAMMY® nominee released his fifth solo album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, on his Zodiac Swan label through UMe. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two Top 10 Active Rock singles, “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Super Town” and Zombie’s spin on Grand Funk Railroad’s anthemic “We’re An American Band.”
Rob Zombie’s first concert film, The Zombie Horror Picture Show, was released May 19 2015 by Zodiac Swan/UMe. The feature-length film held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Music DVD chart for two consecutive weeks. Recorded live over two sizzling nights in Texas, The Zombie Horror Picture Show captures Zombie’s elaborate, multi-media production of mind-blowing SFX, animatronic robots, pyrotechnics, oversized LED screens and state-of-the-art light show combined with his powerhouse band featuring John 5, Piggy D and Ginger Fish.
In April 2016, Zombie released his 6th studio album, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. The album debut at number six on the Billboard Top 200 making it the sixth consecutive release to debut Top Ten. Produced by Zeuss, it was recorded and mixed at Goathouse Studios. A full return to form by the rock icon, The Electric Warlock… features John 5 (Guitar), Piggy D (Bass) and Ginger Fish (Drums).
October 2020 saw the release of the first new Zombie track and video in over four years — King Freak: A Crypt Of Preservation And Superstition off of the latest full-length album entitled The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy. A classic Zombie album through and through with high-energy rages like The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man and Get Loose to heavy-groove thumpers like Shadow Of The Cemetery Man and Shake Your Ass-Smoke Your Grass. This new slab of Zombie madness released in March 2021.
Muse is Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme. Their most recent album Simulation Theory was released in November 2018 and gave the band their sixth straight number one studio album in the UK. Their seventh studio album Drones was released in June 2015 and debuted at number one in 21 countries around the world, including their first number one album in the United States. The album went on to win the Grammy Award, their second, for Best Rock Album in February 2016. Since forming in 1994, Muse have released eight studio albums, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Widely recognized as one of the best live bands in the world, Muse has won numerous music awards including two Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, five MTV Europe Music Awards, two Brit Awards, eleven NME Awards and seven Q Awards, amongst others.
Twenty years ago, nine inspired musicians from Des Moines, Iowa, shattered the scope of what was possible in rock music.
From the moment Slipknot emerged in 1999 with their self-titled debut, it was clear they were like nothing the world had seen before, but were everything they needed. Where a similarly creative act might have burned out or lost their relevance chasing mainstream acceptance, Slipknot has only proven that an enduring commitment to hard work, constant evolution, their craft, and their fans can allow a rock band to not only continue- but to actually push the envelope on what defines heavy metal, and rock in general.
With “We are Not Your Kind,” Slipknot’s first new album in five years, the band deliver when they are needed most. In an increasingly claustrophobic psychic landscape, “We Are Not Your Kind” brings back the violence, to meet the darkness blow for blow. The band’s creative strength and vision propelled “We Are Not Your Kind” to a #1 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart this past August. Always a global band, the album also debuted at #1 in United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Spain, and in the Top 3 in Germany, France, Norway, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Slipknot’s annual Knotfest festival has evolved into the biggest hard rock and metal festival in the world, expanding to four continents, with new cities announcing in 2020. Over 550,000 fans have attended these massive festivals, which are as much cultural as they are music-based, mixing heavy rock with hip hop, world music, visual art, experiential installations, and much more.
Recorded music and live performances aside, Slipknot has always permeated mainstream culture in ways that defy expectations. Recently, Slipknot partnered with Amazon Studios’ advertising campaign for their smash hit “The Boys”, and have launched Slipknot No. 9 Whiskey as a partnership with Cedar Ridge Distillery (American Distilling Institute’s “2017 Distiller of the Year”).
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
Formed in Newark, NJ, My Chemical Romance made its debut in 2002 with the independently released album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. The band signed to Reprise Records the following year and made its major label debut with 2004’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, now 3x certified Platinum. The album contained the Platinum hit “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” the Gold-certified “Helena,” and “The Ghost of You.” Rolling Stone hailed the 3x Platinum The Black Parade as one of the top albums of 2006. Lead single “Welcome to the Black Parade” topped both Billboard’s Alternative Songs tally and the UK Official Singles chart and is now 3x Platinum. The band toured extensively behind the album – appearing as characters from The Black Parade – and released the live album The Black Parade is Dead! in 2008. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was released in 2010 and topped Billboard’s Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums charts. It was followed by a series of singles later released as Conventional Weapons in 2013. My Chemical Romance’s songs continue to rack up half a billion cumulative global streams each year. The band’s top three music videos have amassed more than 100 million views each on VEVO.
AEIRIs an Alternative Rock band from Columbus, Ohio, formed from bandmembers of The Turbos, CoyaHill and Personal Public.With the world facinguncertainty regarding the global outbreak, the newly formed group did not sit idlyby, but instead got straight to work.During the major lock-downs across theworld, the band wrote 40+ songs.They narrowed it down to 8 of their favorites foran upcoming release in the Spring of 2022.The album delivers songs of angst,awareness and feelings of despair, along with rhythmic and melodic intent, notablehooks and powerful vocals. When speaking about the bands newest single release,Lucas Esterline, the bands vocalist states, “We wrote’Smoke ‘Em If You Got‘Em’during the midst of the pandemic.The song is a take on the smoking guns ofAmerican politics, big pharma, the oil industries and big corporations, as well as thecollective feeling of defeat experienced by a majority of Americans at thetime.”Their new single”Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em”was tracked and mixedbyJakob Mooneyand mastered byMazen MurratatKatara Studios.
Joey Valence & Brea
Multi-genre producer, vocalist, and writer, Joey Valence is blending elements of classicbreakbeat Hip-Hop, boom bap, hardcore punk, and other alternative genres in a strikinglyrefreshing way.
Combined with the additional lyrical talent of vocalist, Brae, the two have explosivelylaunched into the Alternative and Hip-Hop scenes with their high-energy antics, easilyidentifiable style and masterful use of social media. Over just one year, theduo hasorganically garnered over 1 million total followers, 80 million views and 22 million streams