CKY’s Jess Margera: New Record “The Phoenix” is a Rebirth and Return to Writing ‘Timeless’ Songs [Interview]

CKY have released “The Phoenix,” their first album in eight years, with guitarist Chad Ginsburg taking over vocal and frontman duties for the group, joined by Jess Margera (drums) and Matt Deis (bass), and signaling a rebirth of the band that has held a cult following for two decades.

Rei Haycraft was able to catch up with drummer Jess Margera as they performed on the HIM “Bang and Whimper” Farewell Tour at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC.

 

REI: Rei Haycraft here at the Fillmore Charlotte with the Jess from CKY! How’s your tour been thus far?
JESS: It’s been really good. Today’s a little rough. Like I was saying earlier, I’m kind of hungover, because Brent from Mastodon came to the Atlanta show last night, and that’s always a good time, but now… I’m paying the price.

REI: That’s awesome! Did he get up on stage with you guys for his solo?
JESS: No. We were talking about maybe doing the song that he’s on the record [“Days of Self-Destruction”] but he kind of just wanted to hang. He showed up a little late, and stuff, so we were like, alright just have a good time. We’ll party later.
REI: What was it like working with him on a song?
JESS: I actually was not there. We did the record and Rancho De La Luna … well we did most of the music there, and then Chad went back to his place in LA and cut the vocals, then he had to go to Henson Studios to record Brent’s solo, because, I guess Mastodon was mixing at Henson Studios, which is pretty funny. There’s probably an Elmo taping going on next door, or something.


REI: Eight years since the last CKY record. You’re probably getting a million questions about what is it like coming back after all that time and as a three-piece. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
JESS: I think it was really good to take a bunch of years off. You know, go mess around and do some solo projects, and stuff. Chad did a solo record. I did some stuff with the company band, which is a band I’m in with Neil Fallon from Clutch, and Jim Rota from Fireball, and Brad from Crew Manchu. So, that was fun. Yeah, after a few years, you get itchy and you’re like, “Alright, I gotta go back to home base. The band I’ve been in since high school.” It was pretty great getting back together with a new energy to the band, because we got pretty burnt out for a while.
REI: Do you feel like The Phoenix is a rebirth for CKY?
JESS: Absolutely. We kind of hit a wall, I guess 2009-ish, and we did that record Carver City, which it has its moment, but it’s kind of like CKY on steroids, and we just went completely over the top and focused more on creating a crazy sounding record versus writing super catchy songs. We really wanted to get back to writing good hooks, and catchy melodies, and timeless choruses. Like we used to do on Infiltrate, and stuff like that. More about the song, less about the, “Hey, look at me. I’m a good musician,” or whatever. You know musicians appreciated Carver City and stuff, because we went a little over the top with it, but at the end of the day, most people just want to hear a good song.


REI: The latest music video that came out was “Head for a Breakdown,” but that was tour footage, kind of compilation.
JESS: Yeah, that was kind of funny how that worked out. We were doing a UK tour, and then we were playing two nights at this place in London, and the Costa Sisters came out. We’d known them forever, and they were like, “Let’s film something.” We’re like, “What?” They’re like, “We’ll just follow you guys around London.” It worked out perfect, because we had a press day, and then pretty much everything got canceled because of the Arianna Grande thing [the Manchester bombing of 2016] happened right then, and so we just had all day to cruise around town. It’s kind of funny. I’ve been to London probably 20 times, but I’ve never done the whole thing. Like, went to see Parliament, London Bridge, and all that stuff.
REI: Did you see where Harry Potter was written?
JESS: I don’t think so. I went to a bunch of cool pubs, where William Shakespeare used to drink and stuff. I nerded out on a lot of stuff like that. I love old pubs. It’s funny, because right by my house in Pennsylvania there’s a 300-year-old pub that’s really cool, but over in England it’s like, “Yeah, this was built in 1210,” you’re like, “Holy shit, the Knights at the Roundtable and shit were drinking there probably.”
REI: It puts things in perspective for sure.
JESS: Yeah.


REI: Then your other music video for Replaceable, that’s a little bit more on the whacky fun side. What was that like to shoot?
JESS: Yeah, it was cool, but it was stressful because we had basically one day before we left for Warped Tour when we found a director and everything. It was like… we were just so busy putting the finishing touches on the album and they’re like, “You guys got to shoot a video for this,” and it’s like, “Well, we have Warped Tour coming up any day now,” so we just scrambled and found a director. Luckily, he was a somewhat local guy. We just made it happen. It all came together.
REI: What was the process like of shooting it with all of the actors, all the props and sets. Do you all have a big hand in that?
JESS: The director, Joffe, he hooked everything up and came up with the concept. We were going to try and maybe somewhat recreate that Phil Collins video where he just keeps firing directors and stuff, like, “hey, you’re replaceable.” We loosely based it on that, but made it our own as well.
REI: Did you keep the sock puppets?
JESS: I think, yeah, I think Chad has them maybe. Chad’s like really into puppets and … you know I’m sure he loved going to Henson to record Brent Hinds. He loves like the Muppets and stuff.
REI: That’s not where I thought that was going.
JESS: Yeah. I know. He came over to my house once. I have four kids. He was just armed with Muppet videos and stuff and was like, “Scarlotte, did you ever see Muppets Take Manhattan?”

REI: What song do you feel has been resonating the most with fans since the record came out?
JESS: I think “Head for a Breakdown.” That was my pick to go to radio with first. I guess a lot of other people saw it differently, so they went with “Replaceable,” but it’s funny, man, you could see as soon as we dropped that video it got … I think it’s up to 200,000 views already, or something. Only came out a week and a half ago. I’m stoked to see people really getting into that song, because probably one of my favorites off the record.


REI: What’s your favorite to play live?
JESS: I have a lot of fun with “Escape from Hellview.” We’re not doing it on this tour, but on our headliner shows, we wrote this whole intro before it kicks in. It’s super Stranger Things-y, John Carpenter-y. It’s fun. We only get a certain amount of time on this tour, so we kind of had to chop that, but yeah, that’s probably my favorite song to play live.

I kind of want to say The Phoenix is the album that should have came out after Infiltrate in my opinion. We kind of branched off on An Answer Can Be Found and Carver City, and tried new things. It was hit or miss. Some songs really clicked, and some were kind of whatever. Most people like the first two albums the most, and I feel like the new album is very on par with those. I feel like “Head for a Breakdown,” or something, could have came out with Infiltrate. It would have fit pretty well on that record in my opinion. It blends good, flows nice, and gets a great reaction every night.
REI: What do you hope that fans take away from this new album?
JESS: We really wanted to try something new, and we went to Rancho De La Luna in the desert, and Joshua Tree, because we’re huge fans of that whole scene, you know Kyuss and Queens of Stone Age, and Eagles of Death Metal, and stuff. The opportunity popped up to go there and record. I mean, it’s just such a one of a kind place. The amps. Everything about it. We were trying to make it sound like if Quincy Jones recorded an album at the place where Kyuss made Welcome to Sky Valley.
REI: I think I heard a quote where it said this album was “as if Quincy Jones had run amuck with CKY”?
JESS: Yeah. Somebody said that I was like, perfect. That’s completely accurate description of that because we love those bands … like stoner rock bands from the desert, and we like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson stuff, so try to blend that together somehow.


REI: What also would you like fans to know about the band or things for them to look forward to?
JESS: Well, we’re definitely going to keep touring and keep making records, much more faster pace than we have been. Yeah, those days are over of taken five years in between albums and stuff. We want to stay busy. We feel extremely fortunate that we still have a pretty impressive cult following after 20 years. Not every band can say that. We don’t take it for granted at all. It’s just really cool to come out here, and do tours with our friends. We’re going to UK with Skindred coming up. Really cool band that we’ve been friends with for a while. Now, we’re doing our own headlining tour in February and March. Yeah, it’s mainly just getting out there again, and touring, and letting people know we’re actually back for real this time.
REI: No more hiatus.
JESS: Yeah. Lots of apologizing. Damage repair or whatever. Half these clubs we’ve played it’s like, “Sorry about last time, man. I think we lit that couch on fire, or something backstage…. Sorry about that.” We’re not like that anymore. It’s been a lot of apologizing and repairing damaged relationships.
REI: In a good way, and giving people new music to boot.
JESS: Yeah.


REI: Do you have any last words of wisdom for fans back home?
JESS: Have a good time, all the time.
REI: Unless you’re burning couches.
JESS: Right. That’s a Viv Savage quote from Spinal Tap, of course—
REI: And, as a drummer it’s dangerous to quote Spinal Tap, because your own fate may hang in the balance.
JESS: I might implode on stage or something.
REI: Well, let’s hope that’s not the case, or else all of your promises of new records are going to go flat.
JESS: If I’m going to implode, it’ll probably be today, because I’m very hung over, but I just had a Hair of the Dog beer, and a bunch of coffee, so I feel a lot better now…. ’cause, this morning was rough.
REI: I’m sorry. [laughs] Well, thank you so much for taking time with us and have a fantastic set!
JESS: Absolutely. Right on. Thank you.

Long Live the Spirit of Tour Life — Exclusive Interview with A LIGHT DIVIDED

Interview by Rei Haycraft at The Milestone in Charlotte, NC.

We caught up with Winston-Salem, NC native rockers A LIGHT DIVIDED as they set out on the “Long Live The Flame Tour,” their ninth regional tour and their first run through the Mid-Atlantic to talk about tour life, their forthcoming album, and some of their best (and worst) tour memories!

Learn more about A Light Divided by following them on Facebook, Reverbnation, Spotify, YouTube, and at their official website at www.ALightDivided.com.

 

Interview with OF MICE & MEN at Louder Than Life 2017

Rei Haycraft spoke with OF MICE & MEN drummer Valentino Arteaga this year’s Louder Than Life festival about the band’s forthcoming album which will be OF MICE & MEN‘s first full-length release without vocalist Austin Carlile, who left the group due to his ongoing battle with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. After Carlile’s departure, bassist Aaron Pauley stepped in on vocals.

“We’re always looking for that challenge,” Arteaga said of the band. “This one’s our fifth one, and we’re really excited. We’re so proud of it. We think it’s gonna show a good amount of growth.”

“There has been a lot of change, but, for us, like anybody, you’ve gotta roll with the punches and you’ve gotta create your own destiny, you’ve gotta do this. And so for us, we really wanted to channel that into our music and create the next chapter of OF MICE & MEN, to truly show what we’re about and what OF MICE & MEN is about — all the way back to referencing stuff from our first albums.

“Everything about OF MICE & MEN is a collective with everyone that we’ve ever encountered at our shows and everything, and everyone’s so important to us, and we try to really channel that into the music.”

According to ArteagaOF MICE & MEN recently shot a video for one of the tracks from the forthcoming album, and “it came out really, really awesome,” he said.

Valentino also talked about the OF MICE & MEN songwriting process, saying: “We write whenever. If an idea hits, with technology these days, we’re all pretty well faceted with our iPhones, with our Macbooks, with our instruments. There’s V-Drums, there’s little guitars that we have on the bus that we can plug into the computers and they sound like huge guitars.

“This is our life, so whether we’re on tour or we’re at home, it’s so difficult to try and get yourself into, ‘Okay, now I’m gonna sit down and do my homework,'” he explained. “It’s not like that. We try and do it as we go. And we wrote almost half our album on tour this last summer. Inspiration strikes whenever.”

OF MICE is always writing. We’ve already kind of started some new stuff. We just write and then we kind of put an album together with the best songs that we feel [we’ve come up with]. We had over forty [song ideas] for this album; there were so many. So it’s all a process. And we try and be so in tune with each other that we all know, ‘Yeah, we all love this one. Yeah, we all love this one.’ And then putting together the album becomes a little bit easier in that sense.”

An OF MICE & MEN documentary called “Unbreakable” will be released on Friday, October 13. The short film, which was directed by Johann Ramos, follows the band across multiple continents on their tour earlier this year.

Arteaga said: “That documents our summer playing festivals and going and playing small club shows overseas and just really reconnecting with our fans. For us, that’s so important, and our love for our fans and just music — not even just fans. Those are people that support us and support our vision and our dreams, not to mention music lovers.”

OF MICE & MEN in May surprise-released its second new song, “Back To Me”. Like “Unbreakable”, the new track was recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (IN FLAMESALL THAT REMAINS), mixed by Grammy winner Chris Lord-Alge (DEFTONESMUSE) and mastered by Chris Athens (DRAKEOZZY OSBOURNE).

Interview with NEW YEARS DAY at Louder Than Life 2017

 

Rei Haycraft got a chance to catch up with New Years Day after their set at Louder Than Life in Louisville, KY about their time headlining Warped Tour, collaborations with other artists, their upcoming “Covers EP,” recording their upcoming album, and what’s left on their band bucket list!

For more information about New Years Day, including tour dates, upcoming releases, and more, visit them at facebook.com/nydrock

Interview with DED at Louder Than Life 2017

 

Rei Haycraft got a chance to catch up with rising nu-metal act, Ded, after their set at Louder Than Life in Louisville, KY about their new album, Mis•An•Thrope, fan reactions, touring with their heroes, and how to best deal with internet trolls!

Rei: Rei Haycraft here with Fuel the Scene Magazine. Here with Ded at Louder Than Life…
David: What up?
Joe: How you doin’?
David: Hi.
Joe: Yes.
Rei: You all got off stage just a little while ago and it was killer. Last time we caught up with you guys was at Carolina Rebellion and that was the beginning of an insane summer and fall for you all. Can you give us the recap for everyone who caught our interview at Carolina Rebellion and wanna see what you’ve been up to?
David: We were out with Korn for a month. Korn, Stone Sour, Skillet, Yelawolf. We did a bunch of festivals. I can’t remember the names. I’m sure you got ’em. You’re better with names.
Joe: We did Rock on the Range. We did PointFest with the Breaking Benjamin guys and we did … What else did we do, man?
Kyle: Chicago Open Air.
David: High Elevation.
Joe: Sonic Boom tomorrow.
Rei: So you pretty much did everything.
David: We’re trying to.
Joe: Yeah. By the end of the year we’re gonna do Knotfest.
David: That’s the plan.
Rei: You got Shiprocked.
Joe: We’re doing Rock Allegiance, Shiprocked coming up.
David: I’ve never been on a cruise before, so we’ll see. Maybe I’ll throw up during the set. Who knows?
Rei: That’ll just be an intimate moment with the fans.
David: We got plenty of time to do it.
Rei: At Rebellion, we were gearing up for you all to release Misanthrope and then, in July, it dropped to great acclaim, I would say.
David: Thank you.
Joe: Yes. Yeah. It was cool.
Rei: That’s probably the most highly anticipated album in our circles, for sure. We got to review it and it’s still in rotation.
David: How was your review? Was the album okay?
Rei: It was absolutely fantastic. There is not a single track on there that we don’t listen to and love— there are no skippable tracks.
Joe: We tried really hard to make it that way. Thank you. That’s awesome.
Rei: How has the reception been for you all? How have you been reacting to the fans reacting to the album?
David: It’s an incredible feeling to see people loving it the way they do. I don’t think we’ve ever … any of us have ever put out a CD in any band we’ve ever been in that received this much praise. It’s crazy.
Joe: Absolutely. Yeah. I haven’t seen a bad review, I don’t think. There’s usually … maybe some mixed reviews.
David: We look for them!
Joe: Yeah. We looked … We tried because we’re hard on ourselves. We’re like, where’s the guy that hates us? We’re not seeing it. I’m sure he’s there, though.
David: Yeah, I’m sure he’s there. I’ve seen him in comments, just never a full review.
Joe: Exactly, yeah.
Kyle: Right, right.
Joe: We love the comments, too.
Kyle: Yeah. The comments are the best. They’re hilarious.
David: If you’re writing a shitty comment, just know that we’re laughing our ass off about it. It’s fun.
Joe: We don’t care if you don’t like us. It’s totally fine.
David: We’ve seen “Anti-Everything, more like Anti-Talented”, which was one of my favorites.
Joe: That’s a good one. Yeah, I saw that.
David: I think that was my favorite so far. It was just clever. Hats off to that guy.
Rei: Yeah. Don’t feed the trolls.
David: No, it’s fine. It’s funny.
Joe: It’s just an opinion. It’s totally … It’s just funny. It’s great.
David: A lot of people just make good jokes, too. If we can’t laugh at ourselves … well, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re taking yourself too seriously, I guess.
Kyle: Haven’t we been told that online, that we were good at laughing at ourselves?
Joe: Yeah. Yeah, because I’ve commented back to a couple people and they’d be like, “Well, that’s pretty cool that they …” They’ll make fun of us and I’ll be like, “Oh, you know, whatever.” And then they’ll be like …”Oh, that’s cool. You guys are pretty cool, actually.”
Rei: They’re like “Oh, you talked to me.”
Joe: Yeah, yeah. Then they straighten up, yeah.
David: Shitty comments, the most clever ones, I’ll like them from the fan page ’cause they’re funny. They’re good! Whoever’s doin’ it, keep it up whether you like the band or not. It’s awesome.
Kyle: If it’s funny, it’s good.
Joe: It’s all good, man.
David: We share them with each other. If there’s something classic, we say, “You gotta read this thing.”
Joe: We send it into the group text, absolutely.
David: Here’s a screen shot of what I just saw last night.
Rei: I think the fans, and even the people who aren’t fans, appreciate that. That, one, the humor, and two, that you all are that engaged with your fans.
Joe: Yeah.
Rei: That’s something that we continuously hear when we’re seeing reviews and we’re following what you all are doing.
David: Yeah.
Rei: Seeing the way you treat your fans, the live show experience is something that people really respond to, as well as the album. All of the facets are there with you guys. That’s something we’ve been just continually impressed by.
Joe: Yeah. Thank you.
Rei: As far as live, when we caught up with you at Carolina Rebellion, you were playing some of the material for the first couple of times.
Joe: Yeah.
David: Yeah.
Rei: That was the first couple of shows. Now that you’ve had all of these festivals under your belt, what songs are the fans reacting to the best or the most poignant for them live?
Joe: I think Anti-Everything is always there.
David: Yeah.
Joe: I think FMFY, Architect, Disassociate …
David: Yeah.
Kyle: [inaudible 00:04:54]
Joe: … Hate Me, yeah.
David: Hate Me has been getting a lot of stuff, too.
Joe: You saw the set today?
Rei: Hmm?
Joe: You saw the set today?
Rei: [shakes head – affirmative]
Joe: Did you notice a pretty big difference?
Rei: I only got to catch a couple of songs of Rebellion.
Joe: Okay.
Rei: It still was amazing.
David: Yeah.
Joe: It’s growing fast to us, for sure.
David: The crowd interaction, it seems like they jump when we jump, they head bang when we head bang.
Rei: They all know the songs.
Joe: They have the album now.
David: Yeah.
Joe: Yeah.
David: It’s really crazy just to see so many people looking to catch your eye contact and they’re singing the words to you like they wanna … They want you to see them singing the words, which is so rad. That’s the coolest part. As opposed to ..
Rei: [inaudible 00:05:30] finger guns.
Kyle: Exactly.
David: Try to just hit them in the forehead with a guitar pick.
Rei: I would be pretty stoked about that. Oh, I got punched in the face, but it’s fine.
David: Oh.
Joe: [Laughing]
David: During the show?
Rei: Anything.
David: [inaudible 00:05:42]
Joe: I’ve gotten my nose ring ripped out at shows before. It hurts.
Rei: In a pit?
Joe: At an Every Time I Die show, I got kicked in the face and it got hooked and it ripped out.
Rei: Oooh.
Joe: I love Every Time I Die.
David: Crowd surfing once.
Rei: That does happen. That does happen. During all these festivals, I’m sure there’s a lot of memories that stick out as being some really great beacons. What are some things, either funny or memorable things, that have happened this summer?
Joe: Man, I never saw Metallica before. That was very special for me.
Kyle: Ozzy at Chicago Open Air, as well.
Joe: Yeah, watching legends play.
David: Yeah.
Joe: Never seen either of them play. It was really cool. There was a dude in a unicorn floatie at Rock on the Range.
David: That was amazing.
Joe: That was hilarious.
Kyle: [inaudible 00:06:27] He was lovin’ it.
Rei: [Laughing]
David: I got a perfect video of this guy crowd surfing in a unicorn blow-up floatie. It’s probably one of my favorite videos I’ve ever gotten.
Joe: Yeah.
David: It was completely sporadic, too.
Kyle: I think Matt saw somebody crowd surf on top of another person. He was holding his hands and the guy …
David: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kyle: … had his arms straight up and there’s a guy on top of him like this, just going towards the front.
David: We had a 70-year-old … a 71-year-old woman crowd surf For Dead today.
Joe: Yeah.
David: That’s one of my favorite memories, for sure.
Kyle: And she lived.
David: I’ll never forget that.
Joe: Yeah. The mosh pitting and just the energy, we love that. We love the pitting and the crowd surfing, man. We love it.
Rei: It feels like you all are really in tune with the energy that is coming off of the crowd.
Joe: Yeah.
Rei: It really seems to fuel you. The more hyped they get, you can see you all getting more and more hyped.
Joe: Oh, yeah. I think that’s every band. If you come out and see your favorite band and you let them know that the music makes you feel a certain way, they’re gonna feed off of that and they’re gonna give you more of that energy that you’re looking for. It’s a show. It’s a communal thing, absolutely.
David: Yeah.
Rei: How does that differ than working on music videos? You all just put out Remember the Enemy.
David: Music videos are hard because you’re rocking out for nobody. There’s no applause. You just go super-hard and then just hear the person be like, “Cut.”
Joe: Yeah.
Kyle: Right. Yeah. Cue the playback.
David: Then everybody just jumps in their job. So you have to really be mentally aware that you’re doing a video, but you have to be in the space of … We can all dream what it’s like to be at a show …
Joe: Yeah.
David: …and have a crowd going nuts. You have to have that in your head because, if you just feel like, I just worked my ass off and nobody’s clapping anymore…
Rei: Pat myself on my back.
David: You’re gonna feel like shit after a minute, when you just really go, all right. Cool. I know what I’m doing. I’ve done this before … I think the first music video I ever did was probably one of the most awkward experiences, ’cause you have to go so hard and the director’s there and everybody just tells you, “Let’s hit it again.” They’re just sitting there holding something. You’re like, feeling your back and your neck and stuff.
Joe: Yeah.
Rei: Was it good?
David: Yeah.
Joe: Should I do more?
Kyle: [inaudible 00:08:29]
David: Yeah, yeah.
Kyle: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s great.
David: Yeah. And you ask them, “What should I do? Do you have any notes?” And they’re like, “No, man. It’s great.”
Joe: Yeah. Keep doin’ that.
David: The camera wasn’t even pointed towards me.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
David: I don’t think he even saw anything I did.
Joe: We all ask each other, How’d you do?
David: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Joe: I think I did okay.
David: Yeah.
Joe: I have no idea.
David: I think the show is … you see the immediate response. In the video, you have to wait for the playback for the response to be all right. That does look good. This doesn’t look good.
Joe: Like we did our videos with Fred Durst.
David: Yeah.
Joe: He’s pretty good at saying, “Yo, that was sick. Do more of that.”
David: Yeah.
Joe: He’s pretty good at coaching you, honestly. Yeah.
David: He’s really good at placement, too.
Joe: Yeah.
David: On stage, you’re running around all over the place. In a video, you have to find your mark and make sure … ‘Cause we also wanna make sure that everybody’s filmed equally, especially a lot of our videos. You wanna see all four of the people. You don’t want so-and-so blocking this and whatever the other stuff. You have to be aware, but also lose your mind in the moment, too, so that’s a little weird.
Rei: How was the whole being in a cage thing?
David: That’s on him. He broke his toe.
Joe: I smashed my toe. I think it’s broken, but you’re just supposed to live with it, I hear.
Rei: Yeah. You can’t really do anything.
Joe: It hurts terribly.
Rei: Still?
Joe: It’s two months later, yes.
Rei: Oh, no.
David: He told Fred, “I think I broke my toe.” And Fred said, “How many times do you think you can do this again, then?”
Joe: Yeah.
David: Instead of being, “All right. Cool. We got what we needed.”
Joe: He’s like a football coach. He’s like, “All right. Cool.”
David: Oh, that’s cool.
Rei: Walk it off. Walk it off.
Joe: Crawl back in that space.
David: How much more do you think you have in you, then?
Joe: How metal are you? Yeah.
David: Your other toe’s not broken, lead with that one.
Joe: Yeah, yeah.
Rei: Just lean this way.
Joe: Yeah.
David: Yeah.
Joe: It turned out sick, so I’ll live with it until it goes away.
Rei: Do you all have any more music videos in the works? I know you’ve got a lot of shows and tours coming up.
David: Plans for two more.
Joe: Yeah. Remember the Enemy is the new single, though, either way. We saw that it’s 24 on Billboard right now.
David: Yeah, yeah.
Joe: It’s right next to the Foo Fighters.
David: Absolutely. We’re not rushing to a new single, though.
Joe: Yeah. We’re stoked. Remember the Enemy’s an awesome song and we’re stoked that it’s out there.
David: Response from the video has been amazing.
Joe: Yeah.
Rei: Oh, it’s fantastic. It’s a nice change from Anti-Everything, which was also awesome, but it was more mysterious.
David: Yeah, we did that on purpose. One of them was very clear and then one of them wasn’t. The next one will be something else, too.
Rei: Secrets.
Joe: Yeah.
Rei: We need more secrets.
Joe: Always trying to mix it up, yep.
Rei: You all are also nominated for a kick-ass award. Want to tell us a little bit about that?
Kyle: Best new artist, yeah. Livewire.
Joe: We’ll be at … We’re playing the kickoff show with Beartooth, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Avatar. Then we’re gonna be at the awards show in LA. It’s really cool. That’s a website I’ve been going to for years to get my news. I go to that and a slew of others, but that’s one of the main ones I go to.
Rei: Speaking of bucket list items, you all have crossed dozens of them off just in the last couple of months.The people that you’re touring with, the shows you’re playing, the reception you’re getting. What’s next on your bucket list?
Joe: I guess just more cool tours, just playing with more bands. Really, seeing … Today, seeing the way the crowd was and the growth from the first festival we played and in some of the shows, to the way that it was today, like having three simultaneous mosh pits. That made me smile real quick. I was stoked on that.
David: My bucket list would just be even bigger mosh pits. I always want a bigger one.
Joe: More mosh pits.
Kyle: I’m waiting for our first circle pit.
David: Oh. We had one!
Joe: I got two simultaneous circle pits going.
David: I think everything’s a bucket list, honestly. Europe’s a bucket list. International’s a bucket list. Everywhere you go, there’s always something new to … Oh, what if we did that, though. I’ve seen that band do this. You want to do it all. I think even just playing all of these summer festivals was a bucket list. We used to watch all these … just the flyers and bands that never play these. Now even just to be here, and then not just do one or two, to be like we’re doing every single one. Yeah.
Joe: Gojira’s playing right now.
David: I feel like we’ve been on tour with Gojira, which is the best feeling in the world.
Joe: We love them so much.
David: Yeah.
Kyle: I want to go on tour with Gojira, though, for sure.
Rei: We have one fan question from the website.
Joe: Sure.
Rei: For you, do you have any kind of pre-show ritual for your vocals like tea or vocal rest?
Joe: Oh, yeah. I do some brief scales, I guess, real quick. I do a little bit of jogging, some stretching. We do Insanity sometimes, just some of the stretches from Insanity. Sometimes a couple drinks just to get warmed up. That’s about it. Nothing crazy.
Rei: I think they want to know your vocal secrets.
Joe: My vocal secret is years of training my vocals and practicing a lot. That’s what my secret is.
David: As a person who records him singing a lot, he doesn’t need a lot of warm-ups. It’s crazy. I’ll wake him up at 10 in the morning and be like, “Come in the studio, we gotta sing something today.” He’ll be there at 10:30 and it sounds awesome. Whatever he does, I like it.
Rei: Is there anything else that you want fans to know, other than all the great stuff we’ve covered already?
Joe: Just to stay in touch with us. We try to watch all of our social media. It’s D-e-d, Ded Official on Facebook, Ded Official on Instagram. We are Ded on Twitter.
David: Yeah. Just reach out. Talk to us. Say whatever you’re thinking.
Joe: Yeah. Let us know if you wanna to come to your place or your state or wherever you are. Thank you guys for reacting the way you have been.
David: It’s been crazy. The reception of everyone is insane.
Kyle: Yeah. Seriously, just catch us online, hit us up, tell us where you want us to be and we’ll be there.
Matt: Hi.
All: [Laughter]
Joe: I was looking for the shitty one, yeah.
David: “I wasn’t expecting this!”
Joe: That’s an inside joke. Anyway, go on. All right.
Rei: I feel blessed to be on the inside.
David: Thank you for having us back, by the way.
Rei: Yes. Absolutely. No. Whenever I see you all on something, I’m gonna try to catch up to be there.
David: Yeah.
Kyle: Thank you.
Joe: Thank you.
David: If not, I’m gonna start photo bombing all of your interviews until we get back on.
Rei: I think you can do that anyway, I won’t mind.
David: All right. We’ll do that.
Rei: Thank you so much for taking time with us.
Joe: Thank you.
David: Thank you.
Rei: Have a great rest of your festival.
Joe: Thank you.

 

Read our review of Ded’s debut album, Mis•an•thrope, here.

Interview with Pat Thetic of Anti-Flag at Warped Tour ’17

Interview video by Rei Haycraft and Divus Moss. Photography by Kevin McGee Photography.

Rei: Rei Haycraft here with Fuel the Scene Magazine, and I’m here with Pat from Anti-Flag. How are you doing today?

Pat: Great. I’m hot, it’s Warped Tour. We’re in North Carolina, so it is always hot here. It’s sunny, and hot, and shitty, so we’re going to rock. Warped has been a lot of fun. We are out here with Sick of it All, and today Big D and the Kids Table are on today, so that’s going to be awesome. War On Women is on, which is another great band that we’ve toured with and had some great tours with.

Rei: You’ve play with a lot of these bands before and you all have been veterans of the scene for a long time.

Pat: Yes. We’ve been a band for 20, 25 years now, so we’ve done a lot of touring with a lot of these bands. A lot of the younger bands we haven’t toured with, but we’re going to hopefully do some touring with them in the future. That’s good.

Rei: Yeah. Now, you all are, I wouldn’t say famous for, but your political activism and being aware of the social unrest, I suppose, in the nation. What has it been like, especially this summer, on Warped Tour with all the things going on?

Pat: Well, the interesting thing about Donald Trump and his administration is A.) he’s a douche.

Rei: Agreed.

Pat: We’ll start with that. What his bigotry has allowed is the normalization of racism and sexism, and we have to make sure that we see that-

Rei: (air quotes) “Locker room talk.”

Pat: Yes. “Locker room talk,” or straight-up bigotry. When we see that, we have to confront it, because just because the president condones it doesn’t mean that the rest of the culture does. When we’re all in our collective small cultures and you hear that racist and sexist talk, you have to stand up against it. That’s what happened at Warped Tour a couple of weeks ago with the Dickies and people felt as though what was being said was fucked up. I agree with them. They spoke out against it. Yeah. The world that we live in now is slightly different because him being a racist allows the other racists to think that it’s okay to be shitty.

Rei: You all have been active in standing against such things for forever, but right now is such a volatile period. How do you feel that has affected the punk rock scene specifically?

Pat: Well, the punk rock kids have always been smart enough to not follow that. The punk rock kids are down here, and we’re just trucking along because that’s what we do. We are always on the right side of human rights and the right side of social justice. The rest of the culture goes in waves of stupidity. Right now we’re in the trough of stupidity, or the height of stupidity, depending on how you want to use that analogy. Yeah. Punk rock is always there. We’re always there fighting against those things.

One of the things that we’ve learned over time being in a band is one of our heroes is Woody Guthrie. He was a singer songwriter activist from the 1930s and ’40s. He sang songs about immigration and the problems with immigration, but the songs that he sang were about Oklahoma people moving to California for jobs. The people in California were trying to build a wall in California and keep the Okies out, as they called them, from coming and stealing their jobs.

It’s the same thing. You still have these people who are afraid of others use this argument of stealing our jobs. Usually there’s an economic, there’s usually people with less money trying to get into a place with more opportunity, but now the issue is the same but the geography has changed. Now it’s people want to come from Mexico or Central or South America or the Middle East into the US, and there’s small-minded people in the US who want to build walls and try and keep people out. What you realize when you see these things and you see this, that the stupid people are always going to be there. They’re always going to be afraid of others. What we need to do is always fight against that and make sure that we realize that when we have people from different places, different ethnicities, different cultures, it makes all of us better rather than less.

Rei: Absolutely.

Pat: We always want to welcome as many people with different viewpoints, and that is actually economically what has made the US strong in the last … in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, was that diversity that came in in the 1900s and 1920s. It brings in different ideas, and economically it’s better for all of us.

Rei: Absolutely. How do you feel in the last decade or so, that the internet and social media has changed that narrative?

Pat: Well, what it has done is, on the good side, it is brought the hierarchy of media down. Anybody can be a journalist now, which is fucking awesome. We all want to be able to get our voice out there, and the more voices we have, the better. That is awesome. The yang to that, or the yin, I’m not sure which it is, but the bad side of that is the fact that you can put out disinformation much easier now than you could before.

It’s very difficult to weed through what is real information and what is fake news, as Trump uses. What you see, and just to be clear, with Trump, whenever he’s accused of things, he attacks for the things that he’s accused of. Sorry. I’m getting a phone call. When Trump says, “Fake news,” he accuses people of fake news, it’s because he is creating fake news.

Rei: Well, it means, “News I don’t like.”

Pat: Yes. He’s also actively, his party and his alt-right are producers of fake news, along with the Russians. We have to figure out ways of figuring out what is fake and what is real. As a culture, we haven’t figured that out yet. I don’t have the answer for that. There’s much smarter people who are going to do that. For me, the way of solving that problem is to see news media from lots of different sources. Then, we could always figure out what is bullshit and what’s real.

Rei: What do you think that the music scene’s part of social justice and activism is?

Pat: The music scene does not have a responsibility for social justice and activism. However, for me, that’s the most interesting kind of music, so I always gravitate towards that. If you’re interested in those things, talking about those issues and making the next generation aware that those things are out there and that they can be evolved … When I was young, there was no talk in school about trans people, there was no talk in schools about homosexuals and the lifestyle where different-cultured people, or people from different cultures.

I didn’t know about veganism or vegetarianism until I went to the rock shows and I was exposed to those ideas. Those ideas made a lot of sense to me, and I live my life within those communities. The rock show, in my vision: the most important part of that is to make people realize that there’s other people out in the world and that if they don’t fit into the homogenous group that they grew up in, there’s another group for them to find.

Rei: Beyond that, what do you feel is your personal motivating factor in this band?

Pat: The thing that we have which is awesome that a lot of other people don’t have is every night we go into a room full of three to three thousand people and meet people who want to see the world different than it is today. When I see those people, we are charged and amped up, and we think, “The world’s changing, man. Things are getting better every day.” Now, I realize when you go to your school and you’re like, “Oh, these people suck and nobody’s changing anything,” it’s not … you don’t have the optimism that we do, but there are amazing people out there who are boots on the ground, making shit happen every day. When we play rock shows, we get to interact with them, and that’s fucking awesome. That’s what keeps us moving forward, because we know that there are people who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

Rei: That’s awesome. For someone who is not familiar with Anti-Flag, what would you want them to take away from one of your performances?

Pat: We will rock your ass off. Yeah. You’re going to come to the rock show, it’s going to be fucking awesome, and the songs are not that bad. They’re pretty good sometimes.

Rei: If you do say so yourself.

Pat: If I do say so myself, the songs will rock your ass off.

Rei: Now, for your Warped set, which the festival sets are a little bit shorter …how much of your catalog do you get to throw in there?

Pat: We play nothing but the hits. Nothing but the hits. Half an hour of straight hits. There’s not any room to put in any filler. We have 10 records and you’re going to pick the best songs that everybody—

Rei:Any new stuff?

Pat: We have a new record coming out in the fall. We’re listening to mixes right now. They’re awesome. We’re excited to get that stuff out in the fall and do more touring.

Rei: What was the process like of recording Live, Vol. 1?

Pat: Live, Vol. 1. We did it in LA at the Troubadour, I think is the name of the room. It was awesome because we went out and did a whole tour of old songs. That was awesome because we got to revisit these songs, and then we recorded it and then we released it. Because it’s Live, Vol. 1, that means that there’s a Live, Vol. 2 coming. It probably won’t come ’til next year.

Rei: Foreshadowing.

Pat: Yeah. That will come in the next year or so.

Rei: Then, the new album: you said maybe end of this year?

Pat: Looks like some time in October, November. Some time around then.

Rei: Love it. What else do fans have to look forward to from you all beyond the new album? I’m assuming you’ll have some music videos coming out for that.

Pat: Yep. All that stuff is in the works and there’s really cool stuff coming. It’s fun because I get to see it before everybody else gets to see it, so I’m like, “That’s fucking awesome.” I can’t wait for people to see that. That stuff’s going on right now, and it’s going to be coming out soon. We’re excited to share that with people.

Rei: Awesome. If you had any last words of wisdom for our fans back home, what would they be?

Pat: Don’t be an asshole, and start your own fucking band.

Rei: I love it. Rule number one: don’t be an asshole.

Pat: Yep.

Rei: We’re just going to start writing that here on the wall.

Pat: Yeah. Just don’t be an asshole.

Rei: I love it.

Pat: It’s easy. It’s easy to remember. Nothing deep, philosophical; just don’t be an asshole.

Rei: I love it. All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Pat: Thank you.

Rei: Have a great rest of your Warped.

Pat: Yeah. Warped Tour. Fuck yeah.

Interview with Billy Hamilton of Silverstein at Warped Tour ’17

Rei: Alright, Warped Tour. Rei Haycraft with Silverstein.

Billy: Hey, I’m Billy from Silverstein. I play the bass and yell sometimes. Make some sounds with my mouth.

Rei: How has your Warped been thus far?

Billy: Sufficiently warped. Yeah, you know, it’s our seventh or eighth year on the tour. It’s been very hot. I think we’ve got the majority of the both very hot, hot days out of the way, and the very hot wet days out of the way with both Florida, and Arizona, and Vegas, all that. It’s been hot, but yeah, we kind of know how to keep cool. We’ve got a great hangout set up behind our tent. We got pals coming around, we got some AstroTurf laid down and a barbecue and stuff, so you know.

Rei: Practicing your putt back there?

Billy: Yup, it’s been good. We just celebrated Canada Day. It’s great, you know?

Rei: Oh goodness. So, you all, we’ll say scene veterans, started in 2000. You’ve got 17 years under your belt, a ton of material, so coming out and playing a short set like this festival tour, what is it like building that set and deciding what to play?

Billy: Yeah, it’s tough. We’ve mostly been playing half an hour, some days it’s even been 25 minutes because it’s been a tighter schedule. It’s definitely tough for us, yeah, with over 100 songs. I think we just try, you know, we’ve got a couple of set staples. We try to mix it up a little bit, but try to play a little something of everything. Some old stuff, some new stuff, some not so old stuff, you know? Try to pick the fan favorites, as well. I think, though, it’s cool to see people responding and reacting to our newer songs. We’re not just a nostalgic band that people are like, “Oh, I love that record from 15 years ago.” They’re really pumped up about our new stuff, and we’re putting out a new record in a week or two, so …People are fired up. It seems really cool.

Rei: It’s July 14th, I believe?

Billy: 14th, yeah.

Rei: That is so close. Looming, even. What songs are you most excited for fans to hear that you haven’t been playing live yet?

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Billy: You know what, we actually just dropped a new track this morning in Germany via a German website, but I think you can check it out worldwide. The song’s called Whiplash, and it’s my personal favorite on the record. It’s the second last track, which is kind of cool because a lot of bands seem to put the favorite tracks at the beginning of the record, but I think that it’s a real anchor of the album. It’s like a kind of fast, upbeat song, and I think it’s cool to end the record with … I mean, the last song on the record is quite mellow and …

Rei: Brings it all back home.

Billy: It’s heavy and mellow. It’s real deep sounding, and it does kind of bring it all back home, but I think this record’s the real kind of smack in the face before … This song is the real smack in the face before the record’s over. My personal favorite. I think it really was one of the last songs to kind of come together in the studio, and I was like, “Oh, wow, I love this now.” You know, once I heard the hook in the chorus I was like, that makes the song for me. So check out Whiplash, you know?

Rei: If you can find it on the interwebs, otherwise it will be out very, very soon. You’ve created over 100 songs, how has the song process changed as you all have evolved?

Billy: Yeah, I think, I mean our writing process changed quite a bit a few records ago when we brought Paul Marc Rousseau along to play guitar. He’s a great songwriter and he’s contributed the bulk of our catalog since joining the band. He wrote a lot of this record and co-produced it, as well. He’s brought a lot to the table, as well I think like working with a new producer. This guy Derek Hoffman produced our record. He’s a Toronto guy and an old friend. Having his hand in the mix I think helped shape the songwriting.

I that what we’ve been trying to do is maintain a good aspect of what Silverstein is and what Silverstein’s been for 17 years, but still kind of keep up with what’s happening in music nowadays and be able to give it a fresh and modern kind of taste. With this record in particular we did a lot of writing in a heavier guitar tuning, so the songs do have a bit of a heavier sound to it, but I think then that just allowed us to put a little bit more of a pop kind of element to it and have it not be so poppy and radio sounding or something.

Rei: It still has that meat.

Billy: It allowed us to further the dynamic, I think. While we were able to get heavier we were able to get kind of poppier and the songs have bigger hooks and stuff without sounding kind of too cheesy or lame. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I think people hearing the record next week are going to be really stoked.

Rei: As you’re playing Warped Tour you’re gaining new fans that haven’t heard you all before, or may not even be aware that you have such a vast catalog. What are you hoping that new fans take away from your performance?

Billy: I think just that realizing that we’ve been a band for a while, and that maybe some of their favorite bands that are younger might have been fans of ours or been influence by us, or that there’s all this back catalog for them to discover, you know? It’s not just about a new record, it’s not just about an old record, it’s about the whole package. We’ve got I think eight records now, so yeah, there’s a lot to dive into if people are just finding out about Silverstein now. Definitely dive in and check out, there’s a lot of great songs out there.

Rei: If you had to write the memoirs of Silverstein right now, what would be the things that stand out that would be in the first chapter?

Billy: I mean, I think we got our well known … We’re Canadian, we’re well known as being a real friendly band, so nice guys, very apologetic, you know? All the Canadian stereotypes. I think we like to party but we keep it pretty tame, you know? I think people would, yeah, know us as quintessential Canadians.

Rei: Are there any moments that stick out at you? Moments on tour, stories that you can share with us? Everybody loves a good story.

Billy: It’s always the toughest question when you’re put on the stop, it’s like, “What’s the craziest tour story?” And then you never remember because it’s lie every day is kind of the same.

Rei: How about this Warped?

Billy: This Warped so far … I don’t know. We just got a lot of good pals. We’ve toured with a lot of the bands. We’ve been hanging out pretty hard. We hosted the Canada Day barbecue the other day. I did some interpretive dance with the Canadian flag to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. That was pretty wild.

Rei: Multi-talented, this guy.

Billy: Yeah. I don’t know. Things don’t get too crazy for us. We were just in South America and Shane lost his passport, that was about as crazy as it gets.

Rei: That sucks.

Billy: But no, this Warped’s been cool. We got a lot of good friends and were meeting a lot of new friends. We’ve gotten pretty tight with Gwar, who we’re sharing a stage with. They’re veterans as well, but you know, we’ve been able to kind of get in behind the scenes with them and hang out with them outside of the costumes, I guess. They’re really great dudes and we’re stoked to be hanging with them. We obviously got good friends we toured with like Beartooth, and Hands Like Houses, and Hawthorne Heights. Counterparts are local friends of ours. There’s a lot of great bands that are here. Being as an Ocean, you know?

Rei: It seems like people keep talking about it like a family reunion or a rockstar camp, or something like that. Are there any bands that if you had a dream tour you would love to tour with that you haven’t yet? That’s a tall order because you all have done a tone.

Billy: That we haven’t yet. Well, it’s tough to say that we haven’t yet, because Warped Tour really does bring a lot of bands together. I just immediately thought we’ve been trying to do a tour with this band that I love called Defeater for a long time, but they were on Warped Tour three, four years ago and we toured with them then, so that’s tough to say. Trying to think. This new band that I would love to tour with that we have yet to be able to tour with is called Culture Abuse. I saw them a couple times, I love their record. I think they just signed with Epitaph. That would be a band I would love to take out on a tour. I met them, they’re cool guys, you know? Culture Abuse, what’s up? Come on tour with us.

Rei: I was going to say. Don’t worry, go. Google it right now.

Billy: Their record Peach is awesome. It was my favorite punk record last year.

Rei: That’s awesome. What advice would you have for local bands who are trying to do what you all have done?

Billy: I always just say just keep at it. Keep trying to play a lot of shows, recording your music as much as possible, constantly trying to make things better. Practice, play, record, tour. Get out there, you know? Just do it. I don’t want to just say practice makes perfect, but repetition makes perfect. Just keep doing it, pushing along, get your stuff out there. Get online, get your stuff on social media and just push it.

I feel like new bands often tend to wait for things to happen for them, like they just kind of say, “Oh, we’re going to do this and then we’ll wait and find a label to pick us up, or a promoter, or a booking agent.” It’s like, you got to do that stuff yourself, you know? DIY culture is still alive very much, and a lot of the time now labels, and managers, and booking agents are looking for that. Looking for you to do the work to show that you have the ambition and that you’re able to kind of draw a crowd and get people excited about your band yourself. So do it yourself, you know? Just get out there and do it.

Rei: Any other final words of wisdom for our fans back home?

Billy: I guess just check out the new Silverstein record, Dead Reflection. It’s coming in about a week.

Rei: July 14th.

Billy: July 14th.

Rei: So close.

Billy: I’ve lost track of the days. I’m very warped.

Rei: Nice pun there. I see what you did. Well, thank you so much for taking the time with us-

Billy: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Rei: And have a great rest of your Warped.

Billy: You as well. Cheers.

 

Interview with JT Woodruff of HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS at Warped Tour ’17

Rei: Hey, guys, Rei Haycraft here with Fuel The Scene Magazine. I’ve got JT Woodruff from Hawthorne Heights here at the Vans Warped Tour. How are you doing today?

JT: I’m doing good. It’s a wonderful day in Charlotte. No complaints.

Rei: Everything just got started. When are you guys hitting the stage?

JT: Eight-something. We’re last on our stage so we’re closing out the Journey’s Left Foot stage tonight.

Rei: Awesome. What does a typical day on the Vans Warped Tour look for scene veterans like yourselves? You’re usually playing later on in the day. What do you do during the day?

JT: I am working all day. Our band is kind of unique. What we like to do is everything. We have two people out helping us but for the most part we’re very DIY, very hands-on so I’m up every day at 7:30. I help our merchandise liaison Amanda. She and I take the tents out, pick out the spot, pop it up. That normally takes us until about 9:30 or 10:00. Then we find out our schedule and then I schedule my press and, you know, any sort of interviews, then our two signings that we do a day and then our set, so.

Rei: Damn. That is dedication.

JT: Not a lot of rest. Otherwise, we’re hanging out with all of our friends out here in between pockets of time.

Rei: You get time to sleep? At all? A little bit? While you’re driving?

JT: Yeah, about midnight until 7:00 in the morning is my sleep time, so not a lot of late-night partying but I don’t do that anyway, so who cares?

Rei: That’s all right. So this is a huge year for Hawthorne Heights. You all have had a comeback—I mean, you didn’t really go anywhere, but, you know—

JT: Yeah, we didn’t go anywhere.

Rei: But you all are touring like crazy and then there’s the new album coming out. What can you tell us about that?

JT: We’re about 10-12 songs into our new album. We want to write couple more, then we’ll start heavy tracking. We want to get it out by the end of the year. If not, it will be the beginning of next year. We like to take things kind of chill, we’re our own, I guess, bosses. You know, we don’t have anybody yelling at us, telling us we got release dates and stuff. When we’re ready, we’ll put it out. We’ll be good to go.

Rei: Awesome. If there was an overall theme that you’re feeling emerging from this record, what would that be?

JT: I would say that we always try to inject positivity, hopefulness, and just a shining light into like dark seas of sadness, so it’s always going to be a little bit dark, it’s always going to be a little bit heavy, but, you know, we’ll try and add some melody in there but also some sort of positive message to kind of get people through dark times.

Rei: That’s like a hopeful melancholy.

JT: Yeah, that’s kind of, I mean, one of my favorite bands growing up was Smashing Pumpkins. So that’s probably kind of where it comes from, I guess. I’ve always liked sadder-sounding, melodic bands so like you get that sourness and then you get like the sweet melody and the hook and stuff like that.

Rei: I like it. So what has the song-writing process been for y’all this go-around, having put so much material out and having toured the circuit, been around the country, out of the country—you’ve done it all, so what has been different this go-around?

JT: Yeah, we’re kind of a unique band. You wouldn’t think it’s unique but a lot of people have one, kind of one member, maybe two members that kind of write everything. We all write. We all put in the time. I write all the lyrics and melodies for the most part but we all sit in a room together and then we also do our little own, independent writing and then so far everything’s worked out. We’re all kind of on the same page, which is sometimes hard to do but sounding cool, I guess.

Rei: So you feel like everyone has their own voice in the songs?

JT: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Rei: That’s awesome. And you are the primary lyric writer?

JT: Yeah, yeah.

Rei: How does the lyric writing process go for you? Do the lyrics come first, do you take pieces from things, or is it the music first and you let that inspire you?

JT: Kind of both, really. Like me as a guitar player, like I’m always writing with a guitar and a pen and a paper but it doesn’t mean that I’ll use the chords that I was writing it to because sometimes it’s just for flow purposes. Sometimes it helps spark a melody and stuff like that, so, really, all hands on deck by any means necessary. You can find a song in any situation that’s happening to you.

Rei: I love it. And I love to see bands that are really working, like, as a cohesive unit to make the things happen because that’s how it can actually, you know, come true.

JT: Definitely. And it’s more fun, it’s more rewarding for everybody. And, you know, it’s just, it feels better for me to do it that way.

Rei: So what has the fan response been this past year as you all have been touring, been on Warped Tour, announcing new material?

JT: Great. I think every once in a while you’ve got to re-energize your fans. You’ve got to give them new music. Constantly touring because it’s fun but, you know, we try to take time off in each market. So we’ll go to like, right after this we’ll not hit the States for a little bit. We’ll go to Australia, finish our album, stuff like that, so … We feel good, we feel fresh, we feel energized. We feel like we’re 20 years younger than we probably are but we feel good.

Rei: If you all were to write your memoir right now of Hawthorne Heights, what’s one memory that would be your opening chapter, something that sticks out in your mind?

JT: That’s a good question. Probably just weird things like being able to tell your grandparents, who don’t fully get what you do, you know what I mean? Like, “Oh, you’re in a band,” but when we were able to do stuff like play Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and stuff like that, that’s stuff that’s on TV that they recognize. It’s like, “Oh, okay. He’s actually in a band, you know? He’s doing something that like …” So big moments like that are, while they’re big moments but they’re tiny moments to us because of the longevity and how long we’ve been doing things, to be able to, like, show people that and to, I don’t know, it feels good when your grandma has no idea about anything you do and it’s like, “Yeah, you’re on Jay Leno. That’s pretty cool!”

Rei: “I know him!”

JT: Yeah. And me, I’m like, “No way, man. We’re on Warped Tour all summer long. That’s incredible. There’s so many awesome bands.” That’s like more special to me. I love all of it but like being able to play with all these bands is always much more fun to me.

Rei: Oh, yeah. This is a killer line-up. I’m stoked that, like, I can kind of get to hear some of it while we’re back here.

JT: Oh, yeah.

Rei: So what are some final words of wisdom for your fans back home? What would you want them to know?

JT: Our advice is always to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Always search for positivity during dark times. Be true to yourself. Don’t worry about being different because every single human being is different but that’s what makes it beautiful and special.

Rei: I love it. Man, you’re just so poetical today. It’s a great way to start. All right, thank you so much for taking some time to talk to us today.

JT: Thank you, oh, yeah. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Interview with Laila Kahn of SONIC BOOM SIX at Vans Warped Tour ’17

 

Rei: All right everybody, Rei Haycraft here with Fuel the Scene Magazine. I’m here with Laila from Sonic Boom Six at Vans Warped Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here in the heat, the sweltering heat. How are you holding up so far?

Laila: This, you know, right. I’m from a town called Manchester where it gets to about 21 degrees. I don’t know what that is in Celsius, or Fahrenheit.

Rei: 60°?—I feel like that’s like 65°? [Editor’s note: 21°C = 69.8°F. You were close, Rei.]

Laila: Yeah, that’s as hot as it gets. And about 3:00PM, it rains, cools it down. So we started this tour in Seattle, where it was about that—

Rei: —which is a similar climate—

Laila: Yeah, it was nice. It was cool. It rained. Put my jacket on in the evening. And then little did we know, we go to Albuquerque, Phoenix, Florida. I’ve been dead. I’ve come back from death to be here in Charlotte today is all I can say.

Rei: She is sacrificing life, limb, and lungs for you fans.

Laila: Every single part of my body has been sacrificed to the heat, and the humidity, and the sweat.

Rei: And how does that affect your performance?

Laila: Do you know what, funnily enough, before I go on, and I’ve been like, it’s heat that I’ve known where you’re covered in a layer of sweat. It’s like you’ve just got out of the shower. Somebody says to me, “Oh, have you just got out the shower?” I was like, “Nope. This is just me sweating.”

Rei: You glisten.

Laila: You get on stage, you got 25 minutes to open and I’m like, “Oh, I’m dying. I can’t do this.” And then the minute you hear the first note on stage, you just give it your all.

Rei: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Laila: You give it your all because you’re just, that is the only reason we’re here. Heat, humidity, come at me. It’s all good. Come at me.

 

Rei: What would you like to tell everyone about Sonic Boom Six? If you had to tell someone who had never heard you all, and they were wandering by, why should they stop and listen to your performance?

Laila: We’re not like any other band. I was going to say we’re not like any other band at the Warped Tour, we’re not actually like any other band, full stop. And we like to mix, we like positive, bouncy music, but with—

Rei: —and some ska in there—

Laila: Yeah, but with a message. Well not a message, I don’t like to call it a message. It’s more, all our lyrics are about what’s going on in the world today. They’re not necessarily positive lyrics, but at the same time, we have a positive sort of backing so that people can come to our shows, have a good time, and if they want to take anything away from the lyrics, then to me that’s a bonus. There’s enough crap in the world today, and I just want people to have a moment of escape and dance to Sonic Boom Six. But yeah, if I had to say what we sounded like, ska, punk, hip-hop, reggae. I rap, I sing, I squeak.

Rei: Multi-talented. All the mouth noises.

Laila: All the mouth noises, yeah.

Rei: Tell me a little bit about what it’s been like, being from Manchester? The unrest in the music community after the attacks? We’re you all over there? Did that affect you personally?

Laila: I live in London, so I’ve been living in London for two years. I went back to Manchester the week after. I go home every month to see family and friends. I was reading about it on the news as it was happening in the evening, it was about 10:00 p.m. And when it’s your hometown it really, not that it doesn’t effect you when you see it going on around the world, but when it’s your hometown, to me I feel like all the countries that have these atrocities every single day, how must they feel that they have to, you know. And that isn’t publicized, that isn’t on the news. That isn’t an Ariana Grande concert. Not that it makes it any worse, or better, it’s just, we’re living in a very horrible world at the moment.

I think what we need to address is why, rather than how we can stop it. How we can stop it is, opens up a whole can of worms. But to me we need to address, why is this going on? What is causing these young men who are from the UK, who are from the US, to be radicalized? To do such horrific things? And you know, I’m not a politician, I don’t know the, I’m just a human being. Yeah, I went to Manchester the week after, and it was awful. Everyone, the first two days, everyone came onto the streets, and everyone was defiant. And then slowly, less people were out, less people were in town. Like a place where we go for meal, you have to book weeks in advance, it was empty. I just think people are scared at the moment and rightly so, but the people that are doing this, that’s what they want.

Rei: Do you feel like it’s affected the UK music scene?

Laila: Oh, massively, massively. I think ticket sales are down for gigs. Yeah, people are defiant, but at the same time, there’s only so much of a brave face you can put on. I think the whole world has been affected.

Rei: Absolutely. And what’s it been like on a happier note being over here touring in the US?

Laila: It’s been amazing. This is our first Warped Tour. We had no idea what we were in for. Seriously.

Rei: Different animal completely.

Laila: Seriously, no idea. But we’re into a routine, by day three, we’re doing it completely DIY. We don’t have a driver. We don’t have a crew. We, you know, we were like, our first Warped Tour, we’re doing it DIY.

Rei: Love it.

Laila: Because it want to experience, I want to get on site at 8:00 a.m. when everybody else does. I don’t want to be laying in my bed, rolling out of bed when it’s time to play my set. I want to meet everyone. I might never get to do this again. You know what I mean?

Rei: Experiencing those moments as they happen.

Laila: Yeah, there’s six of us, and we all have our assigned roles. I probably got the easiest role, but you know.

Rei: I don’t know about that, I’m a vocalist too, so you know. We don’t get enough respect sometimes.

Laila: No, exactly, exactly.

Rei: “All you got to do is carry a mic.” No.

Laila: Actually, that is all I do carry. I do, I keep things ticking along in the background.

Rei: Solidarity, man.

Laila: Somebody has to tell everybody what to do.

Rei: Yeah, there you go.

 

Laila: It’s been mind blowing. Like already, I’m one of the people, I always look ahead and I’m like, “Oh no, like, when I go home, it’s going to be so depressing. And I’m actually going to miss queuing up in the catering line. I won’t miss this weather, but I will miss everything else.

Rei: But you’ll remember it. It will be ingrained.

Laila: Yeah, a friend, Beebs, who’s in a band called Beebs and the Moneymaker, I met her for the first time about four days ago. She said the best thing about Warped, is when you meet another band, you know on tour, or traveling around, and they’ve done Warped Tour, you’ll instantly be like, “Oh,” like you’ll become friends.

Rei: Warped friends.

Laila: But she’s like, “It’s like Warped veterans.” Like you have your stories and you go, “Do you remember this? And do you remember that?” And she was like, “It’s so special.” And yeah, it’s amazing.

Rei: Do you have any veteran stories yet?

Laila: No, we’re newbies. We’re two weeks in.

Rei: For all I know, some really cool shit could’ve happened this morning.

Laila: Last night was very cool. We got here early last night and Kevin was having a barbecue for the crew and production, and everyone who works here. He is one of the, like you know what, my band are like, “Stop bombing Kevin.” In Manchester, when you really like someone, or there’s a new person you like constantly going on about them, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to go and see Kevin.” You say, “Stop bombing them. Stop bumming them.” So say you love Anti-Flag, and you’re like, “No, no, no, I have to see Anti-Flag. No, I have to see them.” I’d be like, “Oh stop bombing Anti-Flag. Just stop bombing them.” Yeah, I’ve been bombing Kevin Lyman hard. Very hard. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Rei: Oh, absolutely.

Laila: Like I’ve never met anyone like him. Super approachable. Super sage. Like last night, we got here, he’d been at the barbecue since 10:00 a.m. in the morning, all the production, all the crew, the people that worked it.

Rei: Oh, that’s fantastic.

Laila: And he was like, “Go and get some food. There’s beers in the cooler.” From 7:00PM til midnight, we all sat around there like just chatting. You know, sometimes like, when I meet important, not important, but when I meet people that are like, I think of as above me. I kind of like, try and be on my best behavior. And I’m like, “Okay, I’m not going to say fuck.” Oh sorry, yeah. I’m not going to like, ten minutes in I was telling them stories about tour. I was telling them what a chewy meant. It was yeah.

Rei: I love it.

Laila: You can google chewy, you won’t know what it means.

Rei: Homework everybody.

 

Rei: All right, what would you like our fans at home to know about your band? And something for them to look forward to, besides the rest of Warped Tour, which they should catch you if they can?

Laila: Sonic Boom Six is a fun band. We love what we do. We’ve been doing this for 15 years now. We’re a band, we want to make music. We’re not in a band to be in a band, if that makes sense.

Rei: Oh yeah.

Laila: We want to make music, we want people to have fun. We want people to escape from their lives. And always, even before Warped, from day one, as soon as we finish, I’m always on the merchandise. If people want a hug, if people want to talk to somebody, because it’s easier to talk to a stranger. If people want to just, whatever, that’s, we’re from Manchester, we’re very open people, and that’s what we’re all about. And I mean, what you’ve got to look forward to is, yeah, the rest of Warped Tour, and then, we’ve been having some conversations in like, in Manchester it’s very, we do music and we work. Just because the life of a musician now. If you can do full-time music, hats off. Not only are you incredibly lucky, it’s tough, it’s tough to be a full-time musician.

Rei: Gotta get that day job.

Laila: Yeah. For us, we were like, “Okay, we do this and we work.” And then this came along, and now it’s like, wow it’s zipping to the more band stuff, and we’re like, “Bring it on. We’ve worked our asses off for 15 years, and we’re not about to stop now.”

Rei: It’s your time.

Laila: I was going to say it’s my time, that shows how egomania, it’s our time.

Rei: Don’t let them dull your sparkle. It’s all right.

Laila: Exactly, exactly. Oh, I love that. Don’t let them dull your sparkle. I won’t do!

Rei: Or the glisten. Whatever you want to say. All right, any last words of wisdom for our fans back home?

Laila: Yeah actually. If you’re feeling down, or if you’re going through a tough time, however difficult it is, and I’m an absolute bugger for this, you reach out to someone. When I’m having a really bad time, my friends will text me, and I won’t text back. Or they’ll say, “Come, come out,” and I won’t go out, because I have to deal with it in my own way. That’s not the right way. That isn’t the right way. If you don’t have people that you can trust, just try and reach out to people, because you know what, there’s no shame in admitting the world is a very horrible, brutal, tough place. But there are people everywhere that want to help people.

Rei: And you’re not alone in any of it.

 

Laila: No, even if that’s through the musical community. Vans Warped Tour is a community. If anyone’s feeling down, you get picked back up again. Every single person on site, that you see is in exactly the same position. Okay, you get your bigger bands that get driven around, and they stay on their bus, but at some point they’ve done this. At some point they’ve been here at 8:00AM they busted their balls, fannies, asses, whatever to do this. Everyone’s in the same position. Never assume, just because you see someone and they look happy, and they’re not going through their own stuff. Everyone has stuff to deal with, so yeah, speak out, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Rei: I love it. That’s perfect. I love that, and it’s a good note to end on. Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us.

Laila: Thank you very much.

Rei: And have a wonderful set.

Laila: Yes, 6:25 I think.

Check out Sonic Boom Six all summer long on Vans Warped Tour and check out more of their music at www.sonicboomsix.co.uk!

Band of the Week #2: Annabel Lee

Our second Fuel The Scene Band Of The Week is hard-hitting Charlotte, NC-based Annabel Lee. Formed in 2010, Annabel Lee consists of Joshua Dean (vocals), Jim Hadeka (guitar), Chad Honeycutt (drums), and Jarred Allen (bass). Combining hardcore and djent sounds with brutal screams and melodic clean vocals, Annabel Lee is a band that will make you feel like you’ve been punched in the face and feel grateful for it. We recently caught up with them to ask a few questions and get a little insight from the guys behind the music.

How would you describe Annabel Lee to someone who has never heard you, and what sets you apart?
We’re a group four dudes who come from different musical backgrounds to achieve a combined dream of playing music, performing and writing. What sets us apart is our passion and drive, and a crazy frontman.

What can fans expect from your live performances and what do you hope fans take away from your shows?

You can expect to get 100% raw, unfiltered emotion throughout every song and at every venue, no matter were we play. We hope the fans take from us a great show experience, and hope to touch them through our lyrics and personal meanings.

What song in your current set or album is resonating with fans the most? 
The Hunter, it’s a very meaningful song to us and a lot of people can relate to it. It’s about being cheated on, and that’s such a dirty feeling. So we all kinda go to a dark place playing that one live.

If you could tell the world one thing about Annabel Lee, what would it be?
That no matter how young or old, don’t let anyone keep you from following your dreams and aspirations.

What do you hope Annabel Lee is remembered for?
We would like to be remembered for how humble and genuine we are as individuals and musicians.
Bonus round: How often does Josh bleed on stage?
All the time, Josh says

For more information about Annabel Lee, check them out on Facebook.

The Beast Is Back: Interview with Newly-Reunited Metal Band CEREBUS

Interview by Chris Matheson. Photos courtesy of CEREBUS and Heaven and Hell Records.

Since the 1980s there have been some good heavy metal to come out of North Carolina. Though what is interesting is that many metalheads in the state never knew some of these bands ever existed, despite the reputation the bands may gain over the years around the world long after their disappearance. Bands who had demos that are now cult artifacts, bands who released albums, got out of their hometowns and toured, bands who’s names actually became known to people around the world.

One of these bands was Greensboro, NC’s CEREBUS. Perhaps they are unknown to those who were not out on the local scene in 1986, but to those who were there the band is fondly remembered. I asked singer Scott Board some questions about the history of CEREBUS, what happened during their hiatus, and what is now going on now that “the beast is back.”

Chris Matheson: It is so cool to look back on the history of a scene and watch it come around again. Thank you for taking the name to do this interview.

Scott Board: Indeed. And thank you for the interest.

CM: CEREBUS is one of North Carolina’s first heavy metal bands alongside only a few others like Maxx Warrior and Overlorde. These bands were sparse across the state. How did the CEREBUS come together?

Scott: Well, Cerebus was formed first as a cover project out of the ashes of a great NWOBHM style cover group called Bastille. Around 1982, Cerebus formed as a cover project doing all the favs of the day from Def Leppard, Krokus, Saxon to Quiet Riot. Incidentally, at this time, I was playing drums and singing some songs while another singer did most of the set. Soon thereafter, around 1984 we decided to go all original and try to go for some kind of record deal.

CM: Did you find it difficult in the early days playing a more traditional style of metal verging into more speed metal areas in a musical climate that was more so dominated with hard rock, hair bands, and Southern rock here in the Carolinas?

Scott: When we began writing material for the new Cerebus band we really didnít set out trying to be “thrash” or ” speed metal”, if there are really any elements in our music that could be considered Thrash or Speed, it would be more about the tempo of the songs and the use of double bass drums techniques with the drumming.

However, most all Cerebus music is heavily influenced by classic Judas Priest, Riot, Saxon, UFO, early Krokus, Thin Lizzy, and Deep Purple.

The local and regional scene at the time we started doing original material for Cerebus was ready for a band to break thru on a somewhat bigger level. Lots of cover bands were still in place and drawing well because the MTV metal scene was still driving all the local scenes around the country.

Banshee on the Loose peroid lineup

CM: The bandís first recording for a label debuted on a compilation record called “Satan’s Revenge” released by at the time, young label New Renaissance Records in 1985 How did the inclusion of “Fight the Beast” come about?

Scott: In late 1984 as we were doing the recording of some of our new material, Eric came into the studio one night and showed us all an ad in the back of Circus Magazine it was for an independent label who was looking for metal bands for a compilation album. The album was to be a “satanic-themed LP complete with added backward masking etc. Warning labels would adorn the front cover. It was a sure-fire sell to new metal fans and disgruntled teenagers.”

Our song “Fight the Beast” was chosen to be put on the album. Ironically, the song’s lyrics are about fighting against all the satanic type content and about the warning not to get caught up in all that garbage.

CM: Bands from the 1980s often speak about how difficult it was to get label attention being from certain areas of the country. Being from North Carolina, did CEREBUS have any difficulty attracting attention from labels?

Scott: It was terribly hard to get any type of label attention back in those days especially being from the NC area. However, I guess it was really luck of the draw that we came across New Renaissance Records being interested in us and we pretty much went with the first label interest we came across. So, it didnít take us too long to get things rolling.

CM: In 1986 the band’s first full-length album “Too late to Pray” was released through New Renaissance Records. How was the record received both at home and the rest of the country?

Scott: When the “Too Late to Pray” album was released it was received really well both at home and worldwide. I think it was popular mainly because of the good press that NRR got us in interviews and reviews. It really took us to a different level seemingly overnight. Good word of mouth is everything.

CM: The relationship with New Renaissance would be short lived. What caused the parting of ways? Were they not interested in doing a follow-up release?

Scott: As our relation with NRR, it was all good but as the band started getting airplay, sales, and fans overseas there were a lot of cool offers coming in to go over there and do shows; some big shows too, some festivals with some of our heroes such as UFO and Scorpions.

We had no tour support from the label and no real management behind us at the time. Couple that with the fact we were in debt for the money to record the first album, both the band and NRR decided to go separate ways after only one album.

It was an amicable split all around. This would free the band to shop ourselves to possibly other labels that might supply tour support or help from management. The decision to do an EP rather than full-length LP for “Like a Banshee on The Loose” 1987 was more of a financial one.

CM: The band wasted no time recording and releasing the “Like a Banshee on the Loose” EP the following year on the bandís own Rockduster Records. Would the EP see a wide release, and did the band find that it was easier to do on your own with the support of a label? The band would also replace original drummer Joby Baker around this time. What would bring this about?

Scott: Joby was a great friend and fantastic drummer. Around the time we were about to write and record our “Banshee on The Loose” EP, Steve Arnold, a highly proficient player known for his lightning fast double bass drumming attack and Neil Peart-like styling when writing drum parts, had just come off the road with a successful cover/original project called “New York”, and was looking for a high-profile gig back home.

We were all aware of the strength of some of the drummers that were out there in the bigger bands in our genre. We were also aware of how very strong that made these bandís rhythm sections both on record and live.

The decision to replace Joby wasn’t a personal one, it was simply a move forward or move up if you will. We needed a drummer who could literally “hang” musically with those pro drummers that were out in our genre at the time.

We simply were making the band stronger to stand up to the other bands.

CM: Over the next few years, the band recorded some demoed tracks. By this time in the late 1980s/early 1990s, it was becoming more and more difficult for heavy metal acts in the country. Was there any interest in the group to shop the material around?

Scott: Yes, throughout the remainder of the 80s Cerebus kept shopping our material anytime we could to contacts to labels or management. Weíve always been proud of each era of the band and were confident thru all periods that there were fans that would enjoy the individual styles we were putting out.

CM: In 1991 you released another EP titled “Regression Progression” again on Rockduster. These five songs would begin to show a change in direction from the earlier brand of U.S. power, style keeping a slight NWOBHM influence, but certainly heading toward a more classic hard rock sound.

What brought about the change in the band’s direction?

Scott: By the time we reached the Regression Progression era 1990/1991, we definitely were progressing stylistically while regressing back to our roots. Inevitably what we as a band listened to personally have always influenced our songwriting.

Nothing new musically coming out was turning us on as much as some of the cool bands so we went back and rediscovered during this time bands like UFO, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and the like. These influences were certainly evident on the new EP for 1991.

CM: Throughout the remainder of the 90s, not much would be heard from CEREBUS. Meanwhile, the band were gaining a reputation throughout the metal underground all over the world with fans and collectors who at one time were paying hundreds of dollars for “Too Late to Pray”; Were the members of the band aware of this happening? What did you think when you realized it and what would you attribute it to?

Scott: Throughout the remainder of the 90s after Cerebus, all of us remained close friends as always. A few of us went off and did some different projects but we did, however, work together and write and record together during the 90s in a very blues laden four piece called Shinkicker. It was a very Rory Gallagher influenced project, hints the name some might guess.

Imagine Rory’s music with a Paul Rodgers (Bad Company) style vocal.

We did several live shows in fact with me on drums and vocals. We would continue to collaborate up until we did our 2004/05 demos.

“Regression Progression” did get some airplay with some of the markets we had gotten earlier on however would mostly be sold to fans at live shows locally to NC or sent out thru the mail.

Through all of this time period, I always had my ear to the ground so to speak keeping up on what was going on in the Metal and Hard Rock scene. When the internet came into play I was probably more visual online than the other guys so, time and time again there were always offers that would come my way to reunite Cerebus in some sort of form, if not all original lineup to participate in regional Metal shows or Festivals abroad.

I was also aware of the huge underground collector’s market for Cerebus albums tapes and virtually anything to do with the band. I would always tell the rest of the guys but there really seemed to be very little interest in the part of the original lineup in trying to go back and do Cerebus music again and actually it can be quite daunting to take on that task.

I would attribute the fact that Cerebus was introduced to the metal world by having great press and airplay thru the record label as one of the main reasons as to why we got known in our genre fast. However then after parting ways with the label, we sort of went way underground and it then became very difficult to find anything on the band thus becoming a collectorís item in the process to hardcore Cerebus fans.

CM: In 2005 the band recorded another handful of demos that would turn out to be the last songs recorded with your late guitarist Chris Pennell. These songs see the band going into even more of a classic hard rock direction showing influences of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and perhaps King’s X.

These songs would never really get out; what was the reason for not releasing this material back then?

Scott: I, Eric, and Chris would continue to write record and play live locally as Shinkicker our very Rory Gallagher type influenced blues rock trio with me on drums and vocals. Around 2004 we began work on demos for new 8-songs that Eric came in with.

As always what we were into and listening to at the time influenced our writing. Anything else would have been somewhat contrived really. So the new songs would remain in the hard rock rhythm and blues styling but also much more melodic driven, especially with my vocals.

Some of the vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Uriah Heap. Some lead vocal stylings much like Doug Pinnick of Kings X. Thereís even one rocker, my favorite, called ìDonít Speak for Meî with big Chapman era UFO influence that is evident on that one.

Andy Huffine our Cerebus guitarist actually played the drums on all the songs except for “Don’t Speak for Me,” which I played drums on.

Many of the songs were engineered and produced by Chris Pennell and our longtime friend and sound-engineer John Robbins at his home studio.

We really had no plans immediately for releasing the material. Inevitably momentum on it would fall off somewhat. And the tracks would only be mastered by Chris Pennell and put on CDs for band members and others involved. We are extremely happy Jeremy Golden at Heaven and Hell Records wanted to use the ’05 Demos as extras to the “Regression Progression” re-release package. These songs were, in fact, the last recordings we ever did with Chris before his death in 2010. And these were some of Chris’ proudest moments he put on record. He was very proud of all these tunes and would be very happy to know they’re finally coming out!

CM: In 2009 a Greek label put “Too Late to Pray” on CD. There was much debate over this being an official release or not. This release would send the owner of your old record label New Renaissance on an absurd witch hunt. Was the band aware of this and if so what did you all think?

Scott: As far as the 2009 release on CD that came out I wouldn’t consider it an official release so to speak. I was very excited when the company who put it out contacted me saying they were going to do it and would I be interested in writing liner notes for it?

I myself have no rights to ownership of the Cerebus catalog so I, Scott Board, couldn’t give “official” permission to do it.

However, I WAS happy that the material was finally seeing the light of day onto CD. At the time I thought it was pretty cool that it was coming out. So yes, we did know but it wasnít an official release. The new rereleases and packages from Heaven and Hell Records are far superior in sound quality and the total package being offered, like a Cerebus Box Set, both the new releases are must have.

CM: In 2010 Chris Pennell’s life was tragically ended. How did this affect the band and any decisions to carry on? Throughout most of the 2000s, the band has been absent from both the local scene and the metal/rock scene, in general, Where has everyone been?

 

Chris RIP
Chris Pennell, courtesy photo.

 

Scott: Indeed, the passing of our friend and guitar player Chris Pennell in 2010 truly took the wind out of all our sails as a group even though at that time we werenít functioning as a band, we were still really close other careers and family commitments would be the forefront during the late 2000s. After the death of Chris, Cerebus could seemingly never be Cerebus like we once were.

As far as where band members have been musically since early 2000’s, the other guys have pretty much been pursuing other career paths and as far as myself, Iíve never really good at anything other than music. So, I have remained in countless higher profile cover acts as well as some tributes such as Still of the Night tribute to Whitesnake. Also, I am currently with the Florida-based band, In the Light of Led Zeppelin- obviously a Zeppelin tribute and only Page/Plant tribute to the solo years.

CM: Now in 2017 the beast is back; CEREBUS are reforming and have a few things in the works. So let’s speak first about the re-mastering and re-issuing of the CEREBUS catalog.
North Carolina-based label who has worked with other local bands such as The Reticent, Dogbane, and Salvacion among others are releasing both “Too Late to Pray” and “Regression Progression” in limit CD pressings, both full of extras.

So tell us how this all came about? Will the fans finally be able to get proper re-issues?

Scott: Jeremy Golden at Heaven and Hell Records has been on me for a long time about doing some sort of reunion with the band or in the very least reissuing the old material. Finally, this past year after I approached Eric Burgess about doing the reissues and also about possible live shows I was surprised when he said he was very interested so we were off and running at that point.

At this time, the reissues are out and available for purchase. There is, however, a limited number of pressings and a limited amount available and the packaging is fantastic with lots of extras including our unreleased 2005 demos, the last recordings with Chris.

CM: The project appears to have been worked on by some local talent including your long time engineer Tom Bower, well known local engineer Jamie King, and local artist Wayne Miller who did a great job paying tribute to Chris as well as a nod to the first album cover.

CM: What are your thoughts on the final outcome and was it purposeful to just work with people in North Carolina?

Scott: On the reissues, our longtime producer engineer and publisher Tom Rowan did an excellent job with the remastering on all the material. On The Something More 2005 demos, Jamie King did the re-mastering on with remarkable results. Tom and Jamie are part of the Cerebus family and it only felt natural for them to be a part of the reissues.

The artwork was beyond our expectation. We were really touched by the tribute to Chris on the cover; it was such a heartwarming and tasteful homage to our friend— if not for Chris there would not be Cerebus.

What Wayne created was classy, elegant, and so tasteful. The concept is somewhat paradoxical in how it relates to the first album cover, the songs in our catalog, and the title “Regression, Progression.”

It obviously came out of the mind, or minds that think beyond just slapping a dragon or barbican on the cover and calling it a day.

CM: Currently, there is a CEREBUS line-up together but not with all original members. What was the reason behind not bring in the original line-up?

CEREBUS current lineup Reid, Scott, Eric, Steve, Elio

Scott: The current Cerebus lineup is stellar. You can trust we will uphold the great musicality of the band. On guitars now are Reid Rogers who is also in Salvacion and Knightmare, and Elio Romero as well as “Like a Banshee on The Loose” drummer Steve Arnold.

The only two remaining original members are I and Eric Burgess on bass. Eric and I were always the main contributing songwriters in Cerebus and continue to collaborate as writers. In fact, fans can definitely expect new music from Cerebus in the near future! We look forward to making that a reality.

Andy Huffine, our other original guitarist had to decline to do the reunion unfortunately due to career commitments, however, he may possibly be joining us as a special guest on stage on some shows in the near future.

CM: The band is slated to play Legions of Metal Fest next month in Chicago, sharing the bill with such legendary acts as Armored Saint, Diamond Head, and members of Man-o-war. Word on the streets is the band has a prime slot and attentions are focused on you guys. How do you feel about this opportunity and is there any pressure? In the words of Armored Saint, “can you deliver the goods”?

Scott: We are so stoked and very much looking forward to playing the festival in Chicago. It’s such an honor to be playing with such great acts as Armored Saint and we are very excited to get such a prime spot. We will be playing the debut album “Too Late to Pray” in its entirety along with a couple of additional surprises so if the fans enjoy the show as much as we are enjoying playing these songs again, then they are in for a real musical treat.

CM: Will there be any shows here at home?

Scott: There are definitely plans to play some regional shows this summer and fall.

CM: How do you all feel about everything going on; overwhelming, disbelief, or is it like “whatever?” Did you think this would ever happen?

Scott: The situation with our band right now is very surreal almost like starting over again in 1986.

CM: What other plans are there for the band? Is the beast truly back?

Scott: We are both happy and excited to see where the future leads us from here but both Eric and I are determined to take it as far as we can there will the other festival appearances for sure including the just announced Keep It True Festival in Germany next April.

We are starting to write new material in the old-school Cerebus vein although we don’t have concrete plans on releasing new music just quite yet, we are excited about the possibilities – we are also concentrating on getting back out and kicking the fans asses with some great live music – see you on the road this year!

The Beast is truly back.

Follow CEREBUS on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/CerebusOfficial/

Interview with Barry Stock of THREE DAYS GRACE at Welcome to Rockville 2017

We got a chance to catch up with Barry Stock, guitarist of THREE DAYS GRACE, before their set at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, FL about recording their next album, the writing process, and being “married” to songs that don’t make the cut. Watch the full video interview here or read excerpts from the transcription below.

FTS: How’s your festival been thus far?

Barry: It’s good I’m just trying to stay out of the sun and stay cool as best I can. … We’re from Canada, so we haven’t gotten used to the weather yet. We’re just starting out on some shows so we’re still trying to adapt ourselves. [laughs]

FTS: What do you think is the largest issue facing musicians starting out today?

Barry: I think it’s a tougher go than it used to be. You know, there’s not quite as much support for some of these bands as there used to be. You know, in the old days, they used to develop a lot more bands. I find today, the ones I know, the younger ones, they have to work a lot harder get their stuff out there. Obviously, with social media that helps a lot, I know that’s a big deal for them. I just think that out of the gates there’s not as much help for these young bands and it makes it a real tough go.

FTS: Do you think that social media and technology today is a help or a hindrance? 

Barry: I think if you’re a new band it’s a good thing, it’s like a tool to reach out to a lot of people. If you’re creative, like some people are, I see some extremely creative people on social media and when they use it right and everything, I see a benefit for them. Without it, I don’t know how they’d get exposure otherwise. I personally think it’s a good thing, I mean, I don’t do much social media myself, but I think it’s a great thing, especially for the younger bands… it gives them an opportunity.

FTS: With a catalog as vast as yours, what does your set for these festivals look like?

We have a lot of singles. So for us, you want people singing.  And we’re playing a lot shorter sets [at festivals] because there’s so many bands, so it’s not like our full show where we can play a bunch of neat B-sides. But for these shorter sets, we’ll usually stick to the hits we have.

FTS: What would you say is the hardest part about being on tour?

Barry: I think just the lack of sleep, maybe? We try to keep up on it as much as we can. You know, the traveling part of it. It’s hard living out of a suitcase, on planes and buses. It wears you out a little bit, but I can’t complain. Over the last year we took some time off, which has been really nice ’cause you know the last three years especially we were super busy. Since September last year, we took time off, we’ve been writing the new record, working over the winter, so everyone got some great family time.

We just have a few summer festivals, we go to Europe and Moscow, I think we go to Russia for a show with System of a Down, and as soon as we get back, we’ll go into the studio to work on the new record. So we’re hoping sometime in the fall to release that.

FTS: Are there any plans so far for singles, future music videos, other media to be released with that album?

Barry: Usually by the time we start recording is when we start piecing it all together. Like we don’t even have an album title yet! That’ll all sort of come as we start to record, and start figuring out the artwork and all of that. And so we’ll get really busy once we start doing that, then we’ll start thinking about videos and all that kind of stuff.

FTS: Are the songs usually finished when you take them into the studio to record?

Barry: You know, we all do demos and stuff—the problem with doing demos is that sometimes you get a little bit married to it. And it ends up changing sometimes. I’ve had some things that I really liked that end up getting totally changed—that’s just the way it is. It’s never really “finished” until it’s finished. Once it’s done and we put the stamp on it.

FTS: Have you ever had a favorite song that didn’t make the cut for an album?

Barry: Yeah, actually—absolutely. On the last record, we had a song that was one of my favorites and our management—you know, Cliff Burnstein—we trust him with our music a lot and we would send him stuff and he’d write little notes on it as he hears stuff. And he wrote “DNP” on the song—that means “DO NOT PURSUE,” right— [laughs]

FTS: Oh, man, stabbed right in the heart. [laughs] Do you ever return to old material?

Barry: Yeah, we do that all the time. Through our whole writing career, that happens. When we first start writing and we don’t have a lot of fresh stuff yet, we’ll always pull out some old stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work and we’re trying to write it again five times and we’re like, “oh, that’s why we didn’t use it last time.” [laughs]

Having said that, there’s definitely some songs that made it on an album much later—beore it just wasn’t the time, I guess, but it became totally fitting for this time. And this is gonna happen on this [upcoming] record too; there’s a couple of them that we have from the last record, we re-wrote them, and they’re going to make it on this record—so that’s kinda neat.

FTS: Do you have any words of wisdom for our viewers back home?

Barry: Words of wisdom? [laughs] Keep your head up, stick on the ice!

Interview with THE CHARM THE FURY at Welcome to Rockville 2017

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Fuel the Scene Magazine’s Rei Haycraft got a chance to hang out with Lucas Arnoldussen (Bass) and Martijn Slegtenhorst (Guitars) of Amsterdam’s THE CHARM THE FURY after their set at Monster Energy’s Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, FL, the first of the band’s three US festival appearances to chat about the band, their new album, “The Sick, Dumb & Happy,” the inspiration behind their writing, and their thoughts on the current state of the world.

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Rei: We’re here at Welcome to Rockville, with The Charm The Fury. Can you all introduce yourselves and what you paly for our viewers back home?

Lucas: Of course. Hi. I’m Lucas. I’m the bass player of the band.

Martijn: I’m Marty. I play guitar.

Rei: And these guys came from Amsterdam in The Netherlands. This is your first U.S. festival tour, correct?

Lucas: It is, yeah. This was our proper first U.S. show actually, yeah. We did some in L.A., but that was for business people, so that wasn’t really a show.

Rei: This is the first with a real crowd and seeing the crowd participation.

Lucas: Exactly. Which was great.

Martijn: Absolutely.

Rei: I was in the pit. I was right up there. And I’ve had Echoes stuck in my head since. So, thank you for that.

Martijn: That’s exactly what should happen.

Lucas: Someone broke his knee during our show.

Rei: Are you serious?

Martijn: Yeah, oh my God, yeah.

Lucas: Maybe you did it.

Rei: No, I didn’t do it. I had nothing to do with any of it.

So, for this being your first, I guess, reception into this scene for this record, what has the reception been like?

Lucas: It’s been great. Well, some mixed reaction because it’s really different to our previous work. It used to be proper metal core. And nowadays I think we’re just a metal band. We were influenced by bands like Pantera, Metallica, Slipknot—like the huge bands that are still around. And we try to mingle that with our own sound and just create a new sound for ourselves.

Rei: I think you did a great job of doing that. We’ve been spinning your new album pretty nonstop since we got it.

Lucas: All right!

Martijn: All right.

Rei: I think it’s fantastic. And I love the dynamics of it. So, the range. And I think that’s what you’re talking about, like it’s not sticking just to metal core. It’s like a spectrum of metal.

Martijn: Oh, wow. That’s a good way to describe it.

Lucas: A spectrum of metal. Yeah, we just wanted to celebrate metal.

Martijn: Yeah, that’s what it is.

Lucas: That’s what we wanted to do with it exactly.

Rei: And it’s very anthemic, so some people are calling it an angry record. What would you say to that?

Lucas: Well, I think it’s angrier than our previous one. But we’re not angry people. So, as you maybe could tell-

Rei: You could tell that. You look so happy on stage.

Lucas: Yeah. Well yeah, it’s metal music, so it obviously is angry in it. So the subjects we cover are not so positive, obviously. But I think there’s some anthemic stuff, some sing-along stuff. So yeah, it’s not at all totally angry record.

Martijn: It’s always a good thing to channel your frustration and anger in music. Well, you get to be happy afterwards, so that’s what we do.

Rei: Can you talk a little bit about the back story behind Echoes? I know it’s a little bit politically charges and you did it in response to …

Lucas: Well, it’s actually the way media takes its part in our whole lives, like the way the media breaks news, that’s just how people will see it. They can’t see it for themselves, so they have to rely on media to bring the news to them. But that news is, most of the time, so biased. So yeah, you can watch Fox News, or you can watch some other channel, and the channels will be totally different.

Rei: Yeah, absolutely. Tell me a little bit about the music videos. The three that I’ve seen are completely different, and I’m a huge film nerd so I love it.

Lucas: Oh, you are?

Rei: I love it. I think Down on the Ropes was … I’m still a little disturbed by the bugs, that was a little cringy. So, what was that experience like filming those?

Martijn: Down on the Ropes was the coldest day of the year in Ireland. We started outside, and the day was like … We had a shooting day of like 20 hours. So we were completely frozen. So, to us personally, that was hard core. But it was really cool working with that team because we really wanna make something of a movie type of vibe with it.

Lucas: Yeah, like a bad ’80s movie. That was the vibe we were going for. And I think we pulled that off, I hope. But that day was the worst.

Martijn: Yeah, the worst.

Lucas: We were at a scrapyard, and we had actually 20 people participating in the video. But there were no heated rooms at all. And we had to stand there in the cold.

Rei: That doesn’t come across at all. It doesn’t look uncomfortable.

Lucas: Well, it was.

Martijn: It really was. It was really bad.

Rei: You’re great actors. You’re good. You’re great at it.

Lucas: Well thank you.

Martijn: Thanks.

Rei: And so, what about the other ones? They have very different feels, each of the videos.

Lucas: The other two videos are shot by the same guy and we work with them a lot. Yeah, I think our last video was Blood and Salt. And we actually had three days to figure that video out.

Rei: Oh yeah?

Lucas: We were shooting in three days. We need ideas right now. And we had to do everything in three days.

Martijn: [The director] is really good. He definitely saved our ass there.

Lucas: And the other video for Echoes, he actually isn’t in it. He wasn’t in the band back then. We just had one guitar player. So we shot that video almost three years ago. And we didn’t release it for years because the record wasn’t done yet. So we had to wait, and it was a bit awkward because there’s a guitar player short. But I think no one actually noticed.

Martijn: Only very few people did. I kind of like it. I was like, “Yeah, this is how important my role in the band is. Thank you so much. It’s all right.”

Rei:  We have the technology, we can superimpose you in there now. There we go.

Martijn: Let’s not do that.

Rei: What do you hope that listeners take away from your album?

Lucas: I mostly hope they will just enjoy it. I don’t think … We have some kind of message, but it’s not the most important that people will get it or something. I hope that they will mainly enjoy the music. And if they get the message, if we plant some ideas in their head that’s great. But it’s not our goal or something.

Martijn: No. There are definitely some political and personal issues on the lyrical end of it, but this record is all about just a celebration for metal and enjoying a metal record, and trying to create a record that you can listen over and over again for years to come. That was the idea.

Rei: Well, mission accomplished because even on the way here we listened to the album at least three or four times, discovering something new each time. Caroline’s vocal prowess is unmatched, it’s amazing.

Lucas: Really? That’s great. Actually, I think anyone can do that with the right training and everything like that. Even every women can scream like that.

Martijn: Yeah, absolutely.

Rei: I can do it for little bits, but not nearly as long.

Lucas: Yeah, she still has vocal lessons and stuff like that. So, she needs to keep it up as well. But I think everyone could do it if they try hard enough.

Martijn: But it’s hard work. And she definitely put a lot of effort into practice—every day, every morning, every night. We get to hear them every day.

Lucas: That’s so annoying. Before the show, after the show, before she goes to sleep, after she wakes up.

Martijn: Immediately when she wakes up. Jesus.

Rei: It’s a good habit to get into.

Martijn: Absolutely.

Lucas: It is.

Martijn: I encourage it. Do it.

Rei: Based on the subject matter that you all cover, what do you think that the social media of today’s day in age, the effect that it has on bands? How do you feel it affects the music?

Lucas: A lot. It’s just your main door to the world, I think. It used to be selling records and maybe do some side sessions in record stores. And now you just do a post on Facebook and you’ll reach thousands of people, and they can share it and it can go viral. So, I think social media is a great outlet for bands. But it’s also hard to get your face out there because everyone does it, obviously. And the Facebook feed gets full very fast. No one will scroll down to find you. So to get out there you need to pay for advertisements. That sucks, but yeah, you need to do it.

Rei: Since you talk so much about getting down into the roots of metal, do you feel like technology has any effect on metal at this point?

Lucas: Definitely has. Like recording has become so easy now. Everyone can make a record in his bedroom. You need gear for $100 bucks and you’re ready to go. So yeah, that changed a lot.

Martijn: That in itself is also a challenge for metal, as well, because there are a shit ton more records right now than there were 20 years ago. And I guess it’s always a good thing to have a big team in on your music and people reflecting on it, just getting deeper and deeper into it, putting more energy into it. And, personally, I don’t believe that if you make a record just in your bedroom you’re gonna get that amount of feedback and energy into it as this record has. It’s different quality in that sense, in my opinion.

Lucas: Mainly, I think it’s a good thing we have the technology now to do it.

Martijn: Yeah, absolutely.

Rei: It’s just how you use it.

Lucas: Yeah.

Martijn: Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing.

Rei: All right. Do you have any other words of wisdom for our viewers or something you want them to know about The Charm The Fury?

Lucas: I’m not sure. Wisdom is hard to be found in our band. We mostly are stupid ideas.

Martijn: Yeah, we don’t pretend to have any form of wisdom at all.

Lucas: But drink a lot.

Martijn: Yeah, that’s definitely-

Lucas: That saves your life. It will. Just don’t drive. Drink a lot, that’s great. Don’t vote for Trump anymore please, don’t do it.

Martijn: Yeah, stop doing that.

Lucas: We had to wait in line. The customs line was longer than the actual flight. Now, that’s not true, but it felt like it.

Rei: I apologize on behalf of all Americans, because most of us don’t agree.

Lucas: No, I don’t think anyone that comes to this festival actually agrees.

Martijn: Hardly any, I’d guess.

Lucas: Yeah, hardly any. For so long in Europe we thought, “This has got to be a joke. This guy, this isn’t serious, right.”

Martijn: It’s never gonna happen.

Rei: Don’t worry, we thought so too.

Lucas: Yeah. And now it’s real. It’s so weird. It was the weirdest. I follow your elections. I watched it because it’s important to us as well. And it was like 3:00 at night, and then it was, “Yeah, Trump is winning. He’s winning. Oh, fuck that shit. I’m going to sleep. I don’t want to witness this.” Good job guys, well done.

Rei: Good job, America. But we hope you’ll come back anyway.

Lucas: We will… if we’re allowed to.

Rei: We’ll smuggle you in, don’t worry about it.

Lucas: All right, cool.

Rei: All right. So, thank you again so much for taking the time to talk to us. Have a great rest of your U.S. tour, and we hope that you come back soon.

Lucas: We will.

Martijn: Absolutely.

Lucas: Thank you. Cheers.

Interview with PAPA ROACH at Carolina Rebellion 2017

Rei Haycraft got a chance to hang out with Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach backstage before their Carolina Rebellion set and chat about their new album, “Crooked Teeth,” some of the best moments at live shows, and hot yoga.

 

Rei: Rei Haycraft here at Carolina Rebellion with Tobin from Papa Roach.

Tobin: That’s right, Tobin from Papa Roach. What’s up, people?

Rei: And you are listening live on Crim Radio! We are here on day three, man. How has your festival been thus far?

Tobin: I literally just got here. I mean … you’re the first pretty face I’ve seen all day.

Rei: Oh, perfect. There we go. First impressions of Carolina Rebellion. I love it. We also saw you guys last week at Welcome to Rockville and it was kick ass. I was down in the pit, you know, getting crowd surfers thrown towards my head.

Tobin: I saw a guy in a wheelchair! That was epic. It was like, perfect. It was like the sun was going down, we were playing this epic, long extended version of this song that we have and … I don’t remember which one it was, but I know it was epic. This guy comes over in a wheelchair and everyone’s cheering. I was like “Whoa, this is a trip.”

Rei: What’s the craziest thing besides that that you’ve seen happen while you’re onstage?

Tobin: I’ve actually seen a guy, I think in a wheelchair … You know back in the days, they would do like the trampoline, like the tarp-y type thing where they would … A bunch of people would extend it? Put people on it and flip them up in the air? I think I saw that. Well, a lot of people throw their limbs—not their actual limbs, but like prosthetics— they’ll just throw them on stage! Yeah, it’s weird. All kinds of weird. I’ve seen it all. I always see stuff go down. Stuff’s always going down when we play.

Rei: You see everything and you just pretend it’s not happening.

Tobin: Yeah, every body part, every kind of brawl you could imagine. Girl vs. guy, girls vs. girls. All that stuff. Yeah, you see a lot when you’re up there. You’re just like man, this is crazy.

Rei: Can you tell us about your touring plans this summer?

Tobin: We actually just got started, so last weekend was our first show in America playing new songs, all that stuff, since a long time ago. I think since 2015. I think we took the whole year off. Wait, what year is it? I don’t even know.

Rei: Right now. Currently, it’s 2017.

Tobin: Could be wrong.

Rei: What else do you have planned that fans can look forward to?

Tobin: I’ll tell you what we have planned. Crooked Teeth is what’s being planned. May 19th, Crooked Teeth. All kinds of new stuff’s going on. We’re going to be touring all over the world.

Rei: And you’ve got some exciting guests that came on for this album. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Tobin: We did a song called “Periscope” and we invited this beautiful, wonderful, voice of an angel, her name is Skylar Gray, and we just shot a video for that as a matter of fact. That will be coming out soon.

Rei: When’s that dropping? Can you tell us?

Tobin: Sooner than later.

Rei: Soon. Soon.

Tobin: And we also have MGK on that track. I like that guy a lot. He’s good people. Great performer, made friends with him by performing with him on a … we collaborated on a song together live. He came up and did “Last Resort” with us at this AP awards show. We were just like, “yo”, playing him new demos, get a verse on this song that’s not finished yet and he was like “I’m on it”. So we did, and it was cool.

Rei: You all are great about collaborations and fostering that sense of community in the music industry. What is that like, being able to bring these other artists into the studio for a Papa Roach track?

Tobin: Well, it’s cool to kind of venture out and grab people that normally, they wouldn’t expect. On the last record, we collaborated with Maria, and I think people were like … They loved it, and she’s amazing. That kind of makes-

Rei: I got to see at Rockville, when she got up with you all. That was like …

Tobin: Yeah, that was like a high light of the whole show.

Rei: Holy shit.

Tobin: For sure, and I think people would expect that kind of, and then on this one we were like … We had to do it a little bit different.

Rei: Yeah.

Tobin: We were like, let’s just grab some guys that you know, and some gals, that people wouldn’t expect.

Rei: That was an awesome moment, though. I was in the photo pit, and so we only did the first three songs and then they make us leave. And then we see Maria going up there, and you go be out there together and we’re like “Are you kidding? Now we’re not in the pit?”

Tobin: Another epic moment, brought to you by Papa Roach. We’re full of them.

Rei: Now you all have a prolific career to say the least. If you had to write your memoirs, what would be the first memory that sticks out that would be the first chapter. One of the most epic things.

Tobin: My first memory … The first memory? I mean, really, there’s so many. We’ve had such a blessed career, like, we’ve done so much crazy shit. Like I said, we’ve seen it all. It’s just like –

Rei: I can see the gears turning and you’re flashing through your life.

Tobin: I know, and they’re all rated different things. It’s like X-rated, R-rated, PG-13. Which story should I tell? Which version should I tell?

Rei: How about PG-13?

Tobin: No, but there’s a lot. Really, like, I mean even the days when nobody knew who we were and we were playing just shitty clubs and bars and dives, you know, all over the US. And being in a van. Those were like, some of the best years of my life, and then when we first came out and we started touring and making friends with bands like you know, Korn, and you know Bizkit and Eminem, and all that stuff that we used to do back in the day and you know, you’re playing arenas for the first time and you’re on awards shows and you’re doing things that you would never have imagined. To just having the longevity where we’re at now and just, yeah. It’s all pretty crazy. Playing shows in front of like, a half million people.

Rei: It’s insane to me. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like up there, like staring at all the faces that are … And they’re all singing along to these songs they’ve known their whole lives, you know?

Tobin: It’s better than all the drugs, and all the sex, and all the hot yoga.

Rei: Hot yoga?

Tobin: I don’t know. You ever done it?

Rei: No. I hear everybody talking about it though. So I’m like, maybe I should check this out. But then it sounds kind of miserable.

Tobin: No, it’s not. It feels so good. Like when you force yourself to just stretch and you release all these things. You’re sweating profusely and-

Rei: What am I releasing?

Tobin: You’re just like … well, you’re releasing a lot of sweat and toxins. You’re stretching. You know, you’re opening your body up, you know? And then you just like … you feel like this overwhelming thing when you’re done with it.

Rei: So is that what you do in between shows to release?

Tobin: I just had to throw something healthy in there, you know, because it’s like … You know, you talk about … if you’re gonna drink and do all that other shit, you gotta be healthy too.

Rei: You gotta balance it out if you’re gonna survive.

Tobin: I beat myself up, I build myself up, I break myself down. It’s just a thing I do.

Rei: I love it. Do you have any words of wisdom for our fans that are watching at home?

Tobin: No, just … you know, be true to yourself, have fun. Do what you love. Find your passion, own it, and don’t let anybody tell you different. And don’t be a dick. I mean, everyone’s gonna have dickish moments, it’s just life. As long as you recognize, “man, I was a dick last night I’m really sorry,” because I’ve had to do that before you know? Tequila.

Rei: But, at least if you own it.

Tobin: You own it, yeah, yeah.

Rei: That’s a difference. All right, thank you so much for spending some time with us.

Tobin: Right on. Thank you.

Rei: And I hope you have a great rest of your festival.

Tobin: Yes, thank you, Rei. I will. We’re gonna get this party started.

Rei: Wait, did we do the liner? Did we? Yes, no? Oh, we didn’t. Can we get you to say again who you are and what you do, and that you’re listening to Crim Radio?

Tobin: What’s up? I’m Tobin from Papa Roach and I’m hanging here with Purple Rei and you’re listening to Crim Radio!

Rei: Purple Rei, I like it.

Tobin: [singing to the tune of “Purple Rain”] Purple Rei, purple Rei.

Rei: That is the best thing I’ve heard all day.

 

Papa Roach’s new album, “Crooked Teeth” drops on May 19th, 2017!

 

Something Clever “Season of Light” Album Release Show at The Fillmore Underground in Charlotte, NC

Show review and photography by William Dibble of Panfocal Photography.

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The Fillmore sits on the outskirts of Charlotte amongst a compound of restaurants and other buildings, across from the Avidxchange Music Factory buildings. The Underground sits in front of the Fillmore proper, a low but large building. There is a sort of antechamber as one enters the building where they scan tickets and take care of any necessary purchases or arrangements as needed, and then a set of doors that leads into the actual venue. One of the first observations that a person can make about this venue is how clean, well-lit, and immaculate it is.

Immediately on the right is an easily accessible merchandise section for bands, with lit screens advertising to the concertgoers. The Underground has a total of three separate bars. Two are accessible on the main floor. The first is immediately on the left, running along the wall, with a second in front of the merch section, set up like an island. In front of both of these is the main concert floor. The Underground is a general admission venue, but there is an elevated VIP lounge on the right with couches, reserved seating, and a fantastic view of the stage, at an extra charge. 

Raimee, of Greensboro, NC, was the first band to take the stage. Raimee’s lead vocalist, Rei, boasts an impressive voice reminiscent of Evanescence’s Amy Lee, but with a heavier, more aggressive style. Backed by Kristy’s screams, their sound energized the crowd, preparing them for the upcoming bands in a huge way.

Raimee’s coordinated stage outfits, with its goth-inspired tones, contrasts heavily with Rei’s brilliant hair. When combined with the music, this provides an excellent visual stage presence that matches their energy and power. Their openers included a cover of Ghost’s popular “Square Hammer,” Rei’s vocals loaned the song a new feel, and it was clearly popular with the crowd.

Their set felt like it was over too soon, as they finished up to allow Vices & Vessels to take the stage, but it felt like the crowd was ready to listen to them all night long.

Hardcore band Vices & Vessels are native to the Charlotte area. They initially took the stage in masks with a backing track from the movie The Purge. As soon as the track ended, they played a short introductory track, before launching into an explosive, mosh-inspiring set. The type of crowd energy seen during a hardcore show is substantially different from other types of metal. You get some crowd surfing with both, but metal tends to inspire more traditional, shove-style moshpits while hardcore inspires fist-swinging and roundhouse kicks. Toward the end of their set, the mosh pit began winding down.

Max, of Vices & Vessels, implored the audience to split into two halves to perform the ‘wall of death’, one of the most infamous forms of a mosh pit. After this, Max, one of their vocalists, leapt from the stage into the audience, surfing across the top at the edges of the mosh pit. Despite the storm of mosh violence and emotion, the venue and the audience managed to survive V&V’s set.

Up next was SkinKage. Their brand of hardcore was blended with a little more metal than the previous band, focusing on longer songs as well. They offered shoutouts to both Raimee and Vices & Vessels, as well as Something Clever. Almost immediately, people were being thrown on top of the crowd as their songs assaulted the audience. The photographers in the pit had to duck for cover as the first of the surfers came down in front of the barrier.

As SkinKage’s set wore on, they did not let up with their energy or their songs. The audience gave as much as they could, as well. This is the type of energy one would expect from a nationally touring hardcore band like Dillinger Escape Plan or Car Bomb. Between them and V&V, it would be very difficult to say if either one had ‘more’ energy, as both bands were absolutely fantastic, despite being sandwiched between more traditionally metal bands Raimee and Something Clever.

Before the night’s headliner, Something Clever, took the stage, the projector was put to use again. This time, it showcased the interview video that covered the making of their new album, Season of Light. As the interviews wound down, the audience began cheering in anticipation. A countdown appeared on the screen, and the screen rose as it hit zero. Something Clever opened up with the new album’s first song, “Snake Oil”.

If the sound of Season of Light were to be boiled down to one description, it could be mid-era A.F.I. combined with a dash of late-era Slipknot, and influences of the metalcore movement. This shows in their booming stage presence, making heavy use of a LED-clad microphone stand, bottom-lit stage platforms, and other crowd-pleasing techniques. At one point, frontman Adam jumped out into the crowd, continuing to sing as he surfed over the crowd before returning to the stage to finish the set.

Every band of the night had a seasoned stage presence, commanding the stage and making use of every inch of it. Despite the show being a blending of two very different crowds and genres, the production came together very smoothly, filling the venue nearly to capacity early in the night and leaving the crowd wanting more. If nothing else, the overwhelming success of this show proves a testament to the strength, solidarity, and raw talent of the local and regional live music scene—something that will continue to flourish as The Fillmore Underground welcomes more local bands in the region to share its stage.

Click here to read our review of Something Clever’s full-length album, “Season of Light.”

Senses Fail’s New Album Will Find You Wanting More

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Album by William Dibble, photos provided by Senses Fail

Senses Fail has been a band for over fifteen years now. Since they came onto the scene, the hardcore and post-hardcore scenes have evolved. Some bands have fallen by the wayside while others have truly hit their stride. There will always be the people who scream about bands selling out, but at the end of the day, the one who makes the music is the artist, and whether you agree with their direction or not is irrelevant. Senses Fail is around, they’re still making music, and they are still artists. Their new album, If There Is Light, It Will Find You, debuts tomorrow, 16th February.

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Right from the get-go, If There Is Light, It Will Find You opens on a powerful, practiced note. “Double Cross” is a fast, fun track. Combining deft guitar work with catchy vocals, “Double Cross” features a lot of the things that Senses Fail has become known for. Clearly screamed vocals, melodic clean vocals, and catchy hooks dot this song throughout, making sure that once you start listening, you will want to finish. The lead guitar hook to “Elevator to the Gallows” is fast, precise, and skilled. It gives way quickly to a section that is primarily vocals and drums. This gives those parts of the song time to shine, which they certainly do. Portions of this song sound like callbacks to the punk emo movement while blending in touches of hardcore. “New Jersey Makes, The World Takes” serves as another showcase of Buddy Nielsen’s singing skills. The chorus, “I’m not giving up today”, resonates particularly well given that the band is going to be turning twenty in just a few years.

The album’s first single, “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket”, is available on Youtube with a music video right now. It is a musically diverse song, borrowing elements from hardcore, punk, and even pop. Portions of it can almost be called soft, while the whole song is certainly true to Senses Fail’s heritage. They don’t shy away from messages about politics, either, with the line “Fuck the government, it’s an embarrassment, we’re all gonna die in debt.” If There Is Light, It Will Find You is both an artistic and political statement, and isn’t afraid to say, “we are Senses Fail and we stand for what we stand for.” The fifth track, “First Breath, Last Breath” has call-backs to softer vocal-centric punk tracks of the nineties and early thousands. After the fast pace of the first couple songs, it provides a pleasant mini-break. This break pervades through “Ancient Gods”. That isn’t’ to accuse either song of being ‘weak’. Both are excellent examples of how strong the songwriting skills in this album is, as they fit in perfectly with the rest of the album.

 

“Is It Gonna Be The Year” is a great follow-up. The song looks back and reflects on the choices made through life, asking what we will be remembered for. It asks the question, is this “gonna be the year that kills me, or will it be the world that saves me?” The overall message seems to focus on reflection and self improvement. Will we be remembered for our mistakes, or will we do better and be remembered for other things? “You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense” is a good follow-up in both theme and sound. The entire song, and album, has a nostalgic feel that brings to mind the era that Senses Fail hails from. “Orlando And A Miscarriage” is an excellent example of this. It isn’t the kind of nostalgia that makes you miss a bygone era so much as the kind that reminds you that just maybe, that era didn’t leave.

 

Another softer song, “Shaking Hands” takes on the feel of a ballad at points. It feels like a song about anxiety, being yourself, and putting yourself out there. It voices a feeling the entire album gives, that this is Senses Fail at their most honest, lyrically and musically. This theme feels like it is continued in “Stay What You Are”, a song that implores you to find what you are, and stay as what you are. It is, if anything, a love song to being yourself. The final song, “If There Is Light, It Will Find You”, is the namesake of the album. It consists of primarily clean vocals and guitars, and gives the entire album a soft, well-deserved sendoff. There are heavier, screamed parts, but they are expertly written and performed. It is also the album’s longest song, at over six minutes long.

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If There Is Light, It Will Find You is possibly one of Senses Fail’s strongest albums to date. It is honest, open, and uncompromising. This is not the kind of album that you listen to once and forget about. To quote Buddy, “I don’t think people are going to listen to music right now that isn’t serious. They’re taking a look at the shit around them and saying, ‘No, no, no. We need to have a real conversation.’ Now, whether that’s dealing with personal sadness, or it’s something political, it still takes things earnestly.” It is a serious entry into the world of post-hardcore and punk rock, and deserves your full attention. It releases on music stores everywhere tomorrow. We would be remiss to not mention that Senses Fail is about to launch on a tour that will span the United States. Grab tickets here, and be sure to see them live!

Album “Nearsighted” Speaks Low… And Speaks Love

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Written by William Dibble, pictures and video courtesy of Speak Low If You Speak Love

Something can be said for music that is aggressive, visceral, and frenetic. Something can also be said for music that is reserved, soft-spoken, and gentle. Speak Low If You Speak Love is a beautiful combination of the musical themes of emo and electropop, combined into one soft, soothing band. Speak Low If You Speak Love is the solo project of Ryan Scott Graham of State Champs. Nearsighted is Speak Low’s second studio album. After weeks of writing, recording, and producing, Nearsighted is ready for your enjoyment.

Nearsighted starts with the soft track, “Have I Changed”. “Have I Changed” has rhythms and melodies reminiscent of both synth pop groups like early The Killers (Hot Fuss) and melodic emo groups like American Football. The emphasis on melody is apparent from the beginning. The rhythm is carried by the drums, while the instruments are soft, melodic, and almost ethereal. The real achievement, though, is that the vocals carry as much of the melody as the instruments. Removing them would change the the very texture of the song, as opposed to some groups where it simply results in a song without vocals. “Enough”, the album’s first single, was actually the last-written song. It is a bit heftier in sound than “Have I Changed”, but does not lose the focus on melody. Soft synths, combined with syncopated vocals and clean guitars and a prominent bass line, draw us along in a song asking if enough is good enough. In this case, “Enough” is more than good enough.

The acoustic intro to “Contrasting Colors” provides, pun fully intended, a contrast to the synth-heavy introductions of the first two songs. For the most part, this song remains a soft acoustic piece with equally relaxing choral arrangements. Synths and electric guitars do make an appearance, but they are subdued and gentle as Graham sings “we may never be lovers”. The song does increase in intensity, but only subtly, leading into the synthscapes of “Ever Yours” easily. Despite the lyric “It’s not like I have anything to say”, “Ever Yours” has plenty to say both lyrically and musically. Both of these songs call to mind Graham’s earlier acoustic works, but also show his growth in the last two years since Speak Low’s prior album, Everything But What You Need. The theme of electronica-combined-with-acoustic continues in “Your Love It Runs”. The song explores the question of if the singer’s actions were the reason for somebody’s love running away. Ultimately, the song feels like it is about recognizing one’s mistakes in a relationship, asking if you would do it differently, then deciding to do it all again anyway. Relationships tend to be a recurring theme in these songs, handled elegantly and in different fashions throughout Nearsighted.

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“Safety Net” is more piano- and synth-centric than the previous songs. It also feels a bit more somber in tone, which matches the theme of safety nets explored in the lyrics. There is an interesting effect going on in some of the background melody where some of the synths sound almost like a second set of vocals. The idea of not building a someone a safety net if they plan to fall into it seems to fit thematically with “Hatsuyume”. “Hatsuyume” features no repeated choruses (“Safety Net” repeats its chorus several times), but has repeating musical motifs throughout. For ference, Hatsuyume is a concept from Japanese culture where the first dream of the year can predict how the overall year will go for you. This is just a paraphrasing of a slightly more complex concept, though. And the song seems to be foretelling a year with trouble, as “she” kills herself in his dream, but there are also sirens in the real world. Appropriately, the song trails off with the synths, then acoustic guitar, ending only with Graham singing.

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Track eight of Nearsighted is more electronically inspired than some of the previous songs. “Circle Spinning” is reminiscent of electropop bands like some Freezepop songs. It’s the kind of light, moderate melody and tempo that has you wanting to sway along to the music with your eyes closed. “Cannot Have It All”, on the other hand, is acoustic again. This electronic-acoustic-electronic pattern played throughout the album is fantastic, as it helps you differentiate themes and songs. It feels like songs with certain themes and musical concepts are grouped together, but then separated slightly. The switching back-and-forth, as done between “Circle Spinning”, “Cannot Have It All”, and the electronica-inspired “Mystery’s Gone” serves to give the album a distinct texture and mood as it progresses. “Hold Me Now” begins to draw us back more towards the emo side of things. We mentioned American Football as a comparison point earlier. That becomes especially apt in this track, featuring soft repeated vocals singing alongside gentle horns with the repeated lyric “I drift asleep”. Nearsighted closes out with the distinctly acoustic-emo song “Swell”. If nothing else in this album reminds you of other bands in the emo genre, this one will. It brings to mind some of AF’s early work, as well as Youth League. It is a beautiful song to end the album all.

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Fans of electronic, indie, and emo music should rejoice. Nearsighted is a fantastic celebration of all three genres blended into one beautiful sound. Ryan Scott Graham has used Speak Low If You Speak Love to craft an album with distinct emotion, texture, and tone. It is the kind of beautiful music you can set to play, then lean back to relax to. No doubt the live performance of this album will be fantastic. Nearsighted released on 19th January, 2018, and is available from most music retailers as well as Speak Low If You Speak Love’s website.

41 Will Have You Feeling Reggie’s Full Effect

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Review by William Dibble, photos courtesy of Reggie and the Full Effect

One of the core defining essences of punk rock is a desire to do your own thing. Certainly, people will try to tell other people what “is” and “is not” punk, but at the end of the day, it is a wide and diverse genre. Reggie and the Full Effect are no exception to this. Their 7th full-length album releases on 23rd February, 2018, and is titled 41. They have a pleasant sound that lands them firmly in the genre of ‘pop punk’ and your heart, simultaneously.

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41 opens with two tracks titled in Italian. “Il Sniffy Incontra” is a choral track, reminiscent of Gregorian chants. “Il Pesce Svedese” is the album’s first all-out punk song. If Google Translate is correct, they translate to “Sniffy Meet” and “Swedish Fish” respectively. It is more common to find album introductions like “il Sniffy Incontra” in the metal genre, where dramatic intro tracks are much more frequently seen. The second track, “il Pesce Svedese”, on the other hand is a fast and light punk piece that is listenable, energetic, and fast. The repeated lyric, “I wish I could have seen you coming” is catch, easy to pick up on, and fun. It wouldn’t be out of place to compare this track to older pieces by Against Me and Sum 41. “Alone Again” starts out a bit softer, with a pleasant and soothing keyboard intro. Reggie and the Full Effect’s vocals bring back memories of the 2000’s punk and emo movements. James Dewees’s twenty years in the industry show. This is the kind of song that would be at home in a soundtrack for a lighthearted movie. The lyrics are also catchy and fun, imploring you to not call him “oblivious, don’t call me at all.” The combined drum and clap beat is bouncy and, for lack of a better word, engaging.

 

The fourth track, “Broke Down”, is a change from the previous two high-energy punk pieces. “Broke Down” is a much softer song, focusing largely on vocals and lower-profile instrumentals. This track would work fantastically as an album single. It showcases James’s vocals, but also his ability to write catchy instrumental pieces. “Heartbreak” starts with a vibrating bassline that draws you in, adding drums and other instruments slowly. The vocals in this song are softer than prior songs, and remain that way throughout. While “Broke Down” is also a softer song, this one is much more keyboards centric, lacking the signature punk-rock style half-yells of the other song. The synth running behind it all gives it a very cheerful and inviting sound. This can leave the listener unprepared for the heavier, louder “Karate School”. “Karate School” has a very early 2000’s sound to it. It calls to mind All American Rejects and The Killers in places, while remaining distinctly Reggie. If anything, this album’s first six songs really give you the full effect.

“The Horrible Year” returns to the softer instruments of “Broke Down”. It is a decently fast song, but it is also fun, and features both softer and yelled vocals. In it, he implores you to tell him what is on your mind, what is really going on. It is catchy, fun, and pleasant. “New Years Day” is also really soft. It isn’t quite acoustic, but does feature extensive clean guitars. It marks a restful mid-point to a solid and pleasant album. Between the vocals and the subtle backing synths, it is a great composition. “Maggie” is a bit faster-tempo, but like the previous few songs, is very soft. This is not by any means a bad thing. As stated earlier, punk rock is a wide and diverse genre. These softer songs demonstrate that with finesse. “Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage M…” opens with a galloping, sample- and synth-heavy track. It feels very… Eighties. In a Stranger Things kind of way. It is, despite being drastically different from any other songs, fun to listen to and feels very upbeat.

 

The last portion of the album begins with “You’ve Got Secrets”. It marks a return from the side journey that was “Channing Tatum” back to the pop punk heritage of the rest of the album. The repeated “You’ve got secrets” gets stuck in your head very quickly. 41 doesn’t spend a lot of time back in the pop-punk territory. It is difficult to say where, in the vast sea of musical genres, “Trap(ing) Music (feat. Common Denominator)” fits. It is a heavy song mixed with whimsical-feeling synths and raspy, throaty vocals. “And Next with Feeling”, like the eleventh track, returns to the rest of the album’s sound. The change is very jarring after the previous song, which shared a lot of qualities with the rap genre. 41 closes with the soft piano song, “Off Delaware”. It is a song where the sound of it will tug at your heartstrings. The slow send-off is an excellent end to a mostly excellent album.

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“Channing Tatum” and “Trap(ing) Music” are odd inclusions on 41. They don’t fit in very well with the flow of the album, and the transitions to and from the songs are difficult and jarring. Other than that, 41 is an excellent entry into Reggie‘s discography. Fans of pop punk should definitely pick it up when it debuts on the 23rd. It will be available from most music retailers!

There Will Be No Harakiri Over Harakiri From The Sky’s Album, Arson

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Review by William Dibble, photos courtesy of Harakiri from the Sky

Traditionally, we bring you a lot of bands out of the States in our articles. This band hails from Vienna, Austria. Claiming to be post-black metal, Harakiri for the Sky has three albums out and a fourth coming in two weeks. Arson releases on 16th of February, promising to bring epic-length black metal to your ears. Most of the songs on this album are over eight minutes long. It is their first album to feature studio drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, known for his work with Septicflesh and Behemoth. Harakiri for the Sky sets some ambitious goals with their lengthy songs, and it is certainly a worthwhile gamble. The entire album clocks in at an impressive 71 minutes.

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Arson opens with the nine minute track “Fire, walk with me”. It would not be out of place to compare this track to a mixture of Insomnium’s “Winter’s Gate” album with instruments from their older albums. This is the work of seasoned musicians and songwriters. The track is a veritable soundscape, featuring blistering speeds and majestic breaks in the speed. It’s hard not to make comparisons to many genre greats, or comparisons to some of the progressive bands with LP-length tracks. “Fire, walk with me” and “The graves we’ve dug” are excellent songs to get you into the album. They showcase the superb drums and guitars on the album. The latter has a slower intro that slowly edges into a heavier riff, before diving into an avalanche of heavier beats and faster shredding. The heavy places are interspersed with clean, drum-free guitars. It gives the ten minute song the impression of being much shorter, as it doesn’t begin to get old or wear out. In fact, before you realize it, Harakiri for the Sky has swept away twenty minutes with what are some of the best black metal vocals and riffs in the genre right now. Excuse us, post-black metal. They show no signs of letting up as “You are the scars” begins. Similar to “The graves we’ve dug” (the capitalization seems to be intentional), it begins with a slower intro, though it doesn’t speed up in the first verse. These are the two tracks on the album that clock in over ten minutes, and showcase HftS’s ability to write long songs. The length of the songs flows naturally and feels good without feeling like it is dragging on. “You are the scars” morphs into a majestic, soaring song combining blistering drumming with melodic guitars and heavy vocals. To be fair, though, that description fits the entire album in a way.

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“Heroin Waltz” is still the first half of the album, despite being a respectable thirty minutes into play time. At this point in the album, it would not be out of place to say that the vocals sound the same throughout. However, that is not a weak point when you consider that they sound stunning throughout. If anything, it showcases their ability to write unique verses and music. “Heroin Waltz” is distinctly it’s own song, while fitting in perfectly to the mood set by tracks one through three. It is followed up by “Tomb Omnia”, a pounding energetic track. I think what is notable about this one is that the drums and guitars have a much lower tempo than some of the previous songs, almost giving a marching feeling to the song. Certainly, there are the usual blistering drum fills and blasts of bass pedals, but overall, it has a much more plodding feeling. This isn’t a bad thing- it gives the song unique character. “Stillborn”, on the other hand, is almost entirely neck-breakers when it comes to the construction of the songs. If you try to headbang to this one, it’s guaranteed you will get whiplash.

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“Voidgazer” is the album’s eighth track, but it begins almost an hour in. That being said, HftS doesn’t show any sign of stopping with their aural onslaught. While “Voidgazer” is arguably a slower song  than some of its predecessors, it is really hard to call any of these songs “faster” or “slower”. Each one contains an EP’s worth of song variation and composition, so these assessments are subjective at best and meaningless at worst. The album does, however, close out with the shortest song, “Manifesto”. “Manifesto” is a cover of a song by Graveyard Lovers. The fantastic thing about covers is that they give bands like HftS the opportunity to match somebody else’s composition with their own, and they excel at that. While featuring clean guitars and vocals, the song is distinctly and uniquely a part of the rest of the songs. It is an amazing way to close out Arson.

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Very few bands can consistently pull of songs of ten minutes or longer and make each one unique. A frequent problem with that is the songs begin to sound repetitive. Harakiri for the Sky side steps that problem entirely. No two parts of Arson sound truly alike, offering over an hour of expertly written and recorded post-black metal. When this album comes out, it will certainly be one you should pick up. It will be available on most music retailers on 16th February, 2018.

Anti-Flag and Political Punk Never Stopped Being Great… But They Have Gotten Even Better

Review and photography by William Dibble

Anti Flag is currently on tour as part of their “Silence = Violence” tour with Stray From the Path, White Noise, and Sharptooth. The Denver, CO stop at Summit Music Hall was expanded into a local “Punk Against Trump” music festival. We previously covered the venue in our review of Arch Enemy/Trivium’s show. It turns out, they have excellent calzones, too, but that’s not what the focus of this review is.

“Punk Against Trump” was a concert combined with miniature activism event. There were several organizations present for a variety of causes. PETA2 was present to talk about veganism. A group called Defend J20 was there to push for support for activists arrested at the Washington, DC march exactly a year before the concert. ProgressNow Colorado was present, a group that defends and advocates for reproductive rights for people who can carry pregnancies. Sea Shepherd was present to talk about saving whales and ocean wildlife. A Voice for the Innocent is a community of support for victims of rape and sexual abuse. And Get On the List is an organization that gathers donations of blood stem cells and bone marrow for patients in need. And a portion of every concert ticket sold raised money for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. A total of $3634 was raised. (Each organization name is a link to their website).

In our previous review here, we mentioned that Summit Music Hall maintains two stages. Today, they had both in full operation. The concert kicked off with Rotten Reputation, a Denver-based punk rock band. Full of spunk and good old-fashioned punk vibes, they put on a heck of a show despite being given the smaller stage in the venue. The singer’s arm tattoo reads “Fight Like a Girl” with an angry rabbit-like creature holding a large amount of weapons, and she certainly exemplifies this.

The bands throughout the afternoon and evening alternated between the smaller secondary stage and the main stage. Frequently, there was only five to ten minutes between the earlier bands in the day. Rotten Reputation, for example, played from 4:00pm to about 4:25pm, and the next band was scheduled on the main stage at 4:35pm.

Denver hardcore band Line Brawl was the first band to take the main stage. Energetic and angry, Line Brawl put on a heck of a show, dominating the entirety of the space given to them. They jumped, they ran, they made full use of every square inch and minute.

The New Narrative is another Colorado native, a fast and pure punk. They brought along a poster with an adorable seal on it, “the seal of approval.” They implored their fans to sign off on it and pass it around. Later, it settled at their merch booth. The band members wore shirts with what was presumably their names and short, slightly comedic descriptions. It would be difficult to find bands with as much energy as any of the bands at this show, and based on the political statements, it is definitely probable that some of that energy comes from the political climate.

Baltimore-based Sharptooth, and the first band from the national tour to play, took center stage. Sharing a brief moment before the show together, they stormed the stage like only a seasoned band can do. Sharptooth combines blistering hardcore with political and social commentary, interspersing politically charged songs with meaningful words on problems. Between the blasting drum beats, Lauren’s screamed vocals, and the masterful guitars, Sharptooth is a band to pay attention to in the hardcore genre, or in heavy music at all. Sharptooth is currently touring in support of their debut album, Clever Girl, which is available now on most music retail platforms.
Editor’s Note: I don’t like to speak in the first person in reviews, but I think it is also very important to note that Sharptooth spoke to me on a personal level. Lauren spoke on the importance of intersectionality, including people of color, and trans/non-binary individuals in conversations. Frequently, as a non-binary individual, I feel left out, so this meant a lot to me as an individual.

Allout Helter played up on the secondary stage just moments later. Allout Helter offers a fast, accessible blend of hardcore and thrash. The band was flanked by a pair of femme individuals holding “RESIST” posters. While not the final band playing on the smaller stage, Allout Helter was definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon.

The next touring band, The White Noise, exploded onto the stage from the beginning. They traveled all the way from Los Angeles, CA, to be on this tour, and they were having fun doing it. Like Sharptooth, they are a played-straight hardcore band with serious talent. The singer, super energetic, was constantly moving around, and at several points, stood on the barriers around the photographer’s pit, and even sang from the crowd itself. At one point, he climbed up onto the outside rails of a stairway to the second floor of the venue, finishing a song from there before returning to the stage. He made sure to let everyone know that everybody, of all genders, races, and backgrounds, was welcome. Well, except for Nazis. They were not welcome.

Cheap Perfume had a more traditional punk-rock sound than the last few hardcore bands. The singer, donning a one-piece bathing suit for their set, made everything about her words and her band’s set an act of rebellion. From their strong political messages to a killer cover of “Bad Reputation”, they very much gave off Joan Jett and the Blackhearts vibes throughout the set.

Hardcore genre veterans Stray From the Path were up next. They are from the opposite end of the country from The White Noise, and they, as always, brought a stage full of anger and power. At this point, the venue was nearly at capacity, and the crowd went wild for them. During their song, “Goodnight Alt Right”, water bottles and even people were flying back and forth through the main pit. They led a stunning and powerful set, which set the crowd up for the main act of the night.

Before the headliner played, though, one last local band got to show their skills on the secondary stage. Hardcore band Over Time is fast, frenetic, and angry. Their singer vocally and loudly makes his views on the United States Presidency clear as they smashed their way through their evening set. The area around the second stage, while spacious at the opening of the day, was now crowded and tight. Finding a good spot to watch and listen proved difficult.

The final band of the night was Anti-Flag. Long-time survivors of punk rock, the long-running protest punk band opened with their brand new song, “When the Wall Falls”. Anti-Flag has been speaking and protesting for as long as they’ve been a band. They performed several songs in protest a year prior to this show at the inauguration, and they made it clear that night that they believed the President and his administration belonged in prison, not in office. It was also clear that the audience full-heartedly agreed with them. Their powerful, energetic set was the perfect closing for a day full of top-notch punk and hardcore.


The tour still has many stops remaining. You should get your tickets now, get them today, and go see it when it comes near you. You can also see our full set of photographs from the concert here (PG-13 NSFW/nudity warning)!

http://www.panfocal.org/Fuel-the-Scene-2018/01-20-Punk-Against-Trump/n-PKQbg4/

Lizzy Farrall’s “All I Said Was Never Heard” Will Certainly Be Heard

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Review by William Dibble

Most of what we review here at Fuel the Scene falls into the hard rock and metal genres, or some variation of those. Lizzy Farrall falls under none of those umbrellas. Farrall is an up and coming singer in the UK, having generated quite a large amount of press about her work. She has released two singles with music videos over Youtube, and will soon be releasing her debut album, All I Said Was Never Heard on 5th January, 2018. While AISWNH is only five tracks and seventeen minutes long, it is a powerful exercise in music and songwriting.

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The sound of this album is almost entirely acoustic. It is clear within seconds of “Broken Toy” that she has absolutely phenomenal vocal skills. Her voice is rich and resonant, and matches flawlessly with the acoustic guitars which compose the melody of the song. The result is a melodic and gorgeous composition that pleases the ears. The second track, “Pack of Wolves”, is a beautiful song about not being part of the pack, but choosing to be your own wolf. With long sections of vocals laid over muted acoustic guitar, and soft rhythms throughout, this song is an ear pleaser. It is easy to listen to, and has wonderful lyrics to boot.

“Better With” shifts gears slightly, adopting an electric guitar for its main melody. It is also significantly faster and reminiscent of songs by Rogue Wave. Her voice, paired with the thrumming bassline of the song, makes for an absolutely entrancing sound. You will want to dance and bounce along to this track. Energetic drums accompany this one, creating a combination that, while distinctly different from other songs on the EP, listens very well. “Better Off” and “Hollow Friends” return to the acoustic sounds of the first two tracks. It is fitting that the soft rock song in the album is bookended by a set of acoustic songs, as it gives the album a pleasing sort of symmetry.

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Lizzy Farrall is one of the UK’s hottest rising stars. With All I Said Was Never Heard, she proves that she is not just a one-hit wonder. It offers five very skilled and eloquent songs, all of them unique and memorable. It leaves one thirsting for more of her work. Pick it up in January on Bandcamp and other music retailers!