Sunday, February 17, 2013
Sovereign Center, Reading, PA
Photos by Marcy J Royce
Review by Marcy J Royce
A grand opportunity was given to me to photograph one of my ultimate and favorite bands. I wanted to venture to a new venue for me, the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA to see how this SHINEDOWN show would be. Well, no matter what venue you see these guys in, it’s a stellar show. No fan left this show disappointed. The amount of vigor displayed by the crowd was immense. But wait just a minute, I’m getting ahead of myself again by the excitement of the night. Time to rewind…
The day before the show I was preparing myself to make sure I captured every moment I could. I’m weird like that. I look for patterns, lighting, and distinct moments I don’t want to miss. I did some online research and found a surprise. The surprise was great for the fans but a little less great for us photogs going into the pit. We would only be able to capture 2-1/2 songs instead of our normal 3 songs. So I knew I had to make my time count since approximately 3 minutes was going to be shaved off my time. The night was to be kicked off at FOH with the song Enemies from the 2012 Amaryllis cd release. What a great idea! The fans towards the middle and the back of the Sovereign Center were given a nice little treat. They went crazy seeing Brent, Eric and Zach closer than they thought they would. Halfway through the song, the music hesitated as the guys made their way up the side barricade and back onto the stage. Once they started on stage we were released to enter the pit and get to shooting. My adrenaline was pumping. It was amazing to see the huge show production at stage left and back towards back stage (that is where we were instructed to wait until they released us). Being married to a lighting director for another band had me evaluating all that equipment that I usually only see in his lighting magazine.
I felt like I was shot from a gun once I began shooting in the pit. And then the pryo onstage pleasantly surprised me. The last part of Enemies was amazing. The intense energy only made me feel like I was levitating. It’s one of the reasons I love shooting live performances. The intense, raw energy make me feel like I’m on top of the world. SHINEDOWN was about to kick my ass those first three songs as a photographer first, and second as a fan. Next up in the set was Devour and Unity. Devour is one of those pumping songs with such great guitar leads, riffs, bass and drums. It’s one of the reasons I use this song for my ab workouts. I was all over the place trying to capture all the guys. However, I do know that Brent is such a powerful and deliberate frontman that his place is solid on his center stage box. I got some great shots! Check them here: SHINEDOWN PHOTOS from February 17, 2013 in Reading, PA
Unity was the next song to kick me in the ass. The entire Amarylliscd is killer, it continues to be one of my favorite SHINEDOWN releases. As the intro began, the crowd became like a rabid dog. Pure energy started exploding from every direction. I could just feel the intensity of it all. Loving every second. Holy balls, it was intense. If any fan didn’t become swept up into the wave you shouldn’t have been there. I could see immediately how tight the band was with each other and the crowd. These guys certainly know how to make each fan feel like they are there performing just for them. Good interaction and eye contact everywhere, all night.
As I took my place in the back of the GA section behind FOH, I really began to take in the phenomenal light show paired with the awesome sound mix. Stellar and impressive. Great talent in the crew. For the rest of the show I stayed firmly planted in my floor spot. Each and every song I evaluated and dissected. SHINEDOWN’s drive, determination, and raging desire to be the best they can be surely showed in this performance. Brent’s vocals were dead on, strongly delivered, and he never waivered the entire night. He is one of the best when it comes to vocals of a frontman. Barry pounded those drums with fever, delivering heart pounding beats from beginning to end with a huge smile constantly. Eric was a monster on the bass. And Zach was steller. Both Eric and Zach were like energizer bunnies, running around that stage without any indication that batteries were running low. I’m sure many of you attending concerts have had some disappointment with how the songs sound live compared to a cd. Well, that was not the case with SHINEDOWN.
One thing that has continued to be evident to me about Brent Smith: I could see just how much he has continued his physical regime. It shows. I follow him on Twitter. Looks better, feels better, and the tons of swooning women were delighted. His delivery, his power, his intensity… he may not move like Mick Jagger but man o’ man, is he a powerful singer. I could watch him belt it out days on end. I often compare other vocalists to him in my own mind. Someday I’d love to have an one-on-one, in-person interview with him. So many questions, so little time… HA HA! He has come so far as a singer-songwriter in these past years. Oh, but just to dream is enough.
As I left the Sovereign Center, I was feverishly reviewing in my head the show that memories are made from. I kept playing it over and over again in my head. I did capture a video of Amaryllis on my smartphone from where I was standing most of the show. See it below:
All the above means you must just go see them for yourself. I promise you, 100%, that you will not regret spending your hard earned cash to see one of the premier bands of this time. True musicians doing what they love. And excelling at it.
To say the least, SHINEDOWN is one of my go-to bands for many reasons. Live show is priceless. Songs are crafted and meaningful. Energy is high and unrelenting. And many of their songs I use for motivation and for life experiences. Now go check out SHINEDOWN’s website, www.shinedown.com, for information on music, videos, photos, bio and also where their next tour date is near you. Because you MUST GO! You will be disappointed if you don’t see them. I know I would have been.
Setlist for this night:
Devour (Sound Of Madness)
The Crow & Butterfly (Sound Of Madness)
Save Me (Us & Them)
I’ll Follow You (Amaryllis)
Diamond Eyes (single)
If You Only Knew (Sound Of Madness)
45 (Leave A Whisper)
Sound Of Madness (Sound Of Madness)
Second Chance (Sound Of Madness)
Medley of Covers including:
She Talks To Angels, Over The Hills & Far Away, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Enter Sandman, Stairway to Heaven, Wanted Dead or Alive
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
I want to give a big shout out to Kelly McWilliam for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. You rock, my dear. Always a pleasure to work with you.
ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink–”Sin City’s Loudest Two-Day Rock Music Festival,” will take place Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29 at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
The updated lineup for the two-day rock extravaganza includes Hellyeah (in place of Papa Roach, who is unable to perform due to lead singer Jacoby Shaddix’s recent vocal surgery), a solo performance by Corey Taylor, Fozzy (featuring WWE superstar Chris Jericho), and breaking band Mindset Evolution.
From now until September 16, 2012, enter for a chance to win a 4-day/3-night ROCK VEGAS VIP trip from the national radio show Sixx Sense With Nikki Sixx at www.sixxsense.com.
The current daily performance lineup for ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink is as follows:
Saturday, September 29 Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Buckcherry, Corey Taylor, All That Remains, Art of Dying, New Medicine, Otherwise
In addition to main stage performances inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center, ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink will also include the Bud Light Festival Grounds with band performances on the Jägermeister Stage. This outdoor festival area and vendor village will feature band autograph signings, free samples from Rockstar Energy Drink, and more. The Bud Light Festival Grounds will open at 1pm on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets for ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink are affordably priced as low as $39 each, plus fees. VIP packages are also available for purchase. Discounted hotel rates at Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur are exclusively available for ROCK VEGAS attendees. To buy tickets, make hotel reservations, and for all ROCK VEGAS info, visit www.RockVegasFest.com.
The Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival is now underway and is bringing a massive rock show to cities across the U.S. through September 30. Fans can experience the sights and sounds of the first weekend of UPROAR through the latest installment of UPROAR TVHERE.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Main Stage features performances from multiplatinum rock bands Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, and Papa Roach, along with breaking band Adelitas Way. In addition, the Ernie Ball Stage and Jägermeister Stage in the festival area will include performances from multiplatinum headliner P.O.D., as well as up-and-coming artists Deuce, Fozzy, Redlight King, Mindset Evolution, In This Moment, Thousand Foot Krutch, Candlelight Red and a local Battle Of The Bands winner. Each day also features autograph signings with UPROAR bands.
Shinedown is lighting up the night sky with their amazing performances and spectacular production featuring pyro, video and dazzling lighting design. Shinedown’s not-to-be-missed shows feature hits including “Bully”–from their new record Amaryllis–as well as their rock radio classics “45” and “Devour.” Expect some surprises throughout the set as well.
In a recent interview with UPROAR’s Rick Florino, Brent Smith of Shinedown gave his thoughts on the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival lineup, noting: “To be a part of a package that’s got 15 bands together and is a traveling festival is great. I’m going to do my best to get out and watch those bands.” He continued, “When you look at the amount of bands on the festival and what styles they bring, it’s actually a really eclectic tour. There are a lot of peaks and valleys. It’s a good roller coaster ride.”
Godsmack is blowing audiences away with their explosive live performances, packed with hits spanning the band’s 13 year legacy, including songs from their current Live & Inspired release. Godsmack’s Sully Erna explained, “It’s about delivering to the audience and playing the songs…you’ve got to play the hits.”
Fans can also look forward to once-in-a-lifetime special moments at UPROAR. At recent shows, these included:
–Maria Brink from In This Moment joining Shinedown’s Brent Smith at his autograph signing
–Rick DeJesus from Adelitas Way crowd surfing during the band’s main stage performance
–Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, P.O.D. and all the bands signing autographs around the festival grounds
To purchase tickets and for all show details, including band autograph signing times, performance times, and all the latest information, go to www.RockstarUPROAR.com.
8/22/12 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Pavilion On Sale 6/15
8/24/12 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center On Sale 6/15
8/26/12 Mansfield, MA Comcast Center On Sale 6/15
8/28/12 Scranton, PA Toyota Pavilion On Sale 6/15
8/29/12 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Peforming Arts Center On Sale 6/15
9/01/12 Saratoga, NY SPAC On Sale 6/15
9/02/12 Bristow, VA Jiffy Lube Live On Sale 6/15
9/05/12 Simpsonville, SC Charter Amphitheater at Heritage Park On Sale 6/15
9/07/12 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Centre On Sale 6/15
9/08/12 Noblesville, IN Klipsch Music Center On Sale 6/15
9/09/12 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center On Sale 6/15
9/11/12 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Pavilion On Sale 6/15
9/12/12 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood On Sale 6/15
9/13/12 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/15/12 Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion On Sale 6/15
9/16/12 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion On Sale 6/15
9/18/12 Denver, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/19/12 Salt Lake City, UT USANA Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/21/12 Post Falls, ID Greyhound Parks and Events Center On Sale 6/15
9/22/12 Seattle, WA White River Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/23/12 Ridgefield, WA Sleep Country Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/25/12 Boise, ID Idaho Center Amphitheater On Sale 6/15
9/29/12 Phoenix, AZ Ashley Furntirure Homestore Pavilion On Sale 7/13
9/30/12 Albuquerque, NM Journal Pavilion On Sale 6/15
The daily band lineup has been announced for ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink–”Sin City’s Loudest Two-Day Rock Music Festival,” Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29 at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
The two-day rock extravaganza will feature performances from Rob Zombie, Shinedown, Marilyn Manson, and Godsmack, plus Staind, Stone Sour, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Adelitas Way, All That Remains, P.O.D., Art of Dying, Redlight King, New Medicine, Deuce, Otherwise and more. Please see below for the daily lineup.
Rob Zombie provides some insight into what fans can expect from his theatrical live performance, noting: “I am packing up the trucks with everything I need to destroy Sin City’s loudest music festival. I know Las Vegas has seen it all, but you ain’t seen nothing like this.”
The daily performance lineup for ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink is as follows:
Friday, September 28 Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Papa Roach, P.O.D., Adelitas Way, Deuce, Redlight King
Saturday, September 29 Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, Buckcherry, All That Remains, Art of Dying, New Medicine, Otherwise
Tickets go on sale Saturday, July 28 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time and are affordably priced as low as $39 each, plus fees. VIP packages will also be available for purchase. Discounted hotel rates at Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur are exclusively available for ROCK VEGAS attendees. To buy tickets, make hotel reservations, and for all ROCK VEGAS info, visit www.RockVegasFest.com.
ROCK VEGAS powered by Rockstar Energy Drink is also giving away a trip for two. The grand prize winner will receive roundtrip airfare for two from a U.S. city to ROCK VEGAS, hotel accommodations, airport transfers, $500 spending cash, and VIP treatment at the show. Go to www.rockvegasfest.com/flyaway to enter for a chance to win between July 27 and August 26, 2012.
One year, one major label debut album, countless festival dates, one cutting edge video, and three hit singles that are taking America by storm… what have YOU done this year? The aforementioned is just the status quo for Cale Gontier and the boys from Art of Dying. The Canadian quintet first infiltrated our borders and burst onto the scene in early 2011, and has played the part of Rock n’ Roll’s Pied Piper leaving a trail of followers all across the States. Recently, this lemming had the chance to catch up with bassist Cale Gontier to get the forecast for this musical monsoon. So sit back, relax, and grab a cold one as we touch on everything from AOD-to-ESP-to- another Canadian weather phenomenon that involves Leafs that blow year round.
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the tremendous success of Vices and Virtues. It’s definitely well-deserved…
CALE GONTIER: Thank you so much man, appreciate that!
AWAY-TEAM: Now, it’s well documented that the band takes it’s name from part of an even longer phrase, ‘The art of dying is my life to live…’, but where did that phrase actually originate?
CALE GONTIER: Ya know man, I think that whole phrase just kinda, it’s kinda how we roll as a band. It’s just about enjoying your time, and making the best of your time realizing that you’re not gonna be around forever, and just having fun. Day to day having fun, and doing what you wanna be doing, and that’s what we do as a band. I think that’s how we all came together, and it’s just sort of our motto.
AWAY-TEAM: The current single, ‘Sorry’, your third off the album, has probably the coolest, most well done lyric video I’ve seen in a long time. Where did the idea come from for such an artistic lyric video?
CALE GONTIER: Yeah, that lyric video has taken off. It’s almost gone viral online, it’s getting tons of hits on YouTube and stuff. Usually all the videos that we’ve done in the past, the band’s been involved in, and the lyric videos have been fairly simple, but with this one we decided to go down a bit of a different road. We got a couple of actors from L.A., who did a great job, and the people at Warner Brothers had alot of input on it, and it turned out really cool. It tells the story of the song within that three minute lyric video, and it was just really well done, and I think that alot of people can really relate to that song in one way or another. Just needing to apologize for something, whatever that may be, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the relationship like it is in the video. But yeah, we actually just recorded an acoustic version of the song in Chicago with Dan Donegan from Disturbed, who produced it. We’re doing this really cool thing on Facebook where, Jonny our singer started this thing after that lyric video, the last scene in the video is where the girl holds up a piece of paper that says “Sorry” on it, she’s apologizing to the dude, so we’re doing this cool online thing where all of our fans and followers online have been changing their profile pictures to a picture of them saying “Sorry” in one way or another. Most of the time it’s them holding up a piece of paper that says “Sorry”, or they’ve written it on their arm, or gotten creative with it, and that’s kinda taken off online as well. So what we’re gonna do is choose the coolest pictures, and they’re actually gonna be in the new video for the acoustic version of the song. We’re actually in the process of doing that right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out as well.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I noticed that myself. That was actually gonna be my next question. But getting back to the lyric video, I wanted to ask, being that music videos are now mostly relegated to the web, do you think videos such as the one you’ve just put out are the wave of the future?
CALE GONTIER: Yeah, I kinda think so man. We were just experimenting a little bit, but I think with alot of the Fuse, MTV, and MuchMusic it seems like videos are getting less and less air time. For that same reason, people are spending less and less money on them, and I think Facebook and YouTube is where it’s at right now. That’s where it’s gonna get seen, so if you can do something that is creative, and that is cool, and is different, and spread the word online, kinda like what happened with that lyric video, I think that’s the new way to go. It’s not like we spent a ton of money on it or anything, it’s just it was something cool and creative, and people were digging it, and they can be a part of it with these profile pictures and all that, so it does seem to me that that’s happening more and more for sure.
AWAY-TEAM: When you joined the band, you had been playing with Thornley at the time, how did you end up in Art of Dying? And more importantly, I’m gonna make an assumption here, how did a Leafs fan end up in a band with a bunch of Canuck fans? (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) That’s a great assumption! (laughs) You know what man, we are all hockey fans by the way, but I don’t wanna talk about the Leafs too much, they let me down this year! But as far as how we all came together, I guess the conduit was our drummer Jeffy Brown, he is from Guelph, Ontario, and he used to play in a band with my older brother in Guelph. He ended up moving to Vancouver, and he hooked up with Jonny and Greg, and they started playing together. Me and Tavis were living in Toronto, playing in a bunch of different bands, we were playing with Thornley/Big Wreck for like five years… and even how that came about, my cousin Adam sings in Three Days Grace, and on their first album I was on the road with Three Days as a guitar tech, even though I had no idea what I was doing, I was just helping out and having fun with Adam, and I went to high school with all the other guys too. So I was out with them, and Thornley opened for Three Days, after a little while I befriended Tavis and Ian (Thornley). A year later when that tour was done, Ian was looking for a bass player, and Adam suggested that he give me a call. He did, and I started playing with them, and that’s how I got super tight with those guys. We played for five years, and me and Tavis are best buddies. Then the original Art of Dying, with Jeffy playing drums, came to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week, which is kind of like Canada’s SXSW, and I put the guys up at my place for like 7 or 10 days. They just crashed on couches and floors at my place, and we just really hit it off as friends. Everyone was super cool, and we had a good time as friends first, we’d just go out and have some drinks and have a good time, and the idea of Tavis and I going out on a little Canadian tour they had booked came up one night, and we thought maybe it was crazy enough that we could pull this off. So Tavis and I cancelled a few things, the first time we ever played together was during a sound check at the first show at the University of Calgary, for like eight people! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: But, once we started playing together on that little Canadian run, we were already good friends, and musically we just really connected. One of our things, Tavis and I sang our asses off in Thornley for a bunch of years, and we just love singing harmonies, so we just jumped in singing three-parts on all of the Art of Dying songs. Then we started writing new songs, and we just felt that we had something special all of a sudden. That’s so hard to come by, and that’s the most important thing, in my opinion, being in a band, you gotta live with these people ten months a year when you’re touring. When you get something special like that, you really better lock it in, so that’s what we did. Everybody dropped everything basically, and we decided to solidify Art of Dying. That was about five years ago, and it didn’t take long after that. We started to get on some better tours, Disturbed took us out a couple times, and at that time we didn’t even realize that Dan and David from Disturbed even had a record label. We just thought they were buddies, and digging our music, but they were watching from the front of the house every night, at our sound checks every day, and in hindsight the couple of tours that we did with Disturbed were actually showcases for their label, Intoxication. Then they flew us down to Chicago, and said they wanted to sign us. We were super stoked, and everything’s been moving pretty fast, and going great since then.
AWAY-TEAM: I gotta tell you man, you’re pretty good, this is the second “next question” that you already answered for me! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) I keep doing that, shit! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) No that’s good, you’re making my job easier! (laughs) You mentioned writing new songs, I understand that the writing sessions for this record involved getting together in some weird locations. Tell me about some of those locations, and what place was the most inspirational, or productive?
CALE GONTIER: Well, because we live on different sides of the country, when we’re not on the road we’re not all together as a band. Jeffy, Jonny, and Greg all live in Vancouver, I live in Toronto, 3,000 miles away, and Tavis just kinda floats around wherever, he’s a gypsy when we’re not touring. (laughs) So when we do an intentional writing trip, we always try to go somewhere cool, somewhere inspirational, like you said. But we’ve done a few different ones, like we met up at our buddy’s house in the interior British Columbia. This kinda small ski town, just outside Colona, and we just set up shop there for a few weeks. Set up our gear in the basement, it was just a good vibe, we were barbecuing for ourselves every night. Most of our songs come from just sitting around with an acoustic, just bouncing ideas off each other. When we do get together for a little writing trip like that, we’ve all been writing on our own, so we just bounce ideas off each other; and they get better and better, once everyone puts their own twist on it. Jonny‘s just sick, and comes up with good melodies, and stuff like that. So that was a good one, when we went to Colona for a few weeks, got alot of good stuff done there. Another one, we went to Chicago, which Chicago is like our second home now with our connection with Disturbed, and we ended up doing half of Vices and Virtues there. Dan Donegan produced, and we went to a studio called Groovemaster, Johnny K’s studio in Chicago, that’s just a super cool old building that Al Capone used to own, and just good things always seem to come when we put ourselves in a situation like that, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned Dan producing, what’s he like in the studio? Is he more of a demanding hands-on type? Or is he more of a “Do what you do, and we’ll tweak it later” type?
CALE GONTIER: Danny is really more of a hands-on guy. He’s obviously a super talented musician, and he’s got great input. He’s not always diving in, or getting in there too much, he’ll sit back… but he’s not shy, and usually when he does jump in and say something he’s got a great idea, ya know what I mean. He’s great, and a super hard worker, we’ll start at 10 a.m. and we’ll go ’til midnight, so we’re not messing around. We’ll get alot of work done, and he spends 3 hours a day on his hands and knees dialing knobs on the guitar heads to get these sick tones, and he’s got a bunch of cool little tricks. I think he really respects us, and likes our songwriting, and likes our band, which is probably why they signed us in the first place, so. He doesn’t dive in too much, he sits back and lets us do our own thing, but when he does get in there he’s got some really sick ideas.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been touring your asses off, as a matter of fact, you just mentioned Chicago, you just played there last night…
CALE GONTIER: Yeah, it was great! We opened for Shinedown at the House of Blues, and it was off the hook. It was a good show.
AWAY-TEAM: When can we expect to see you back in the studio recording the next studio album?
CALE GONTIER: That’s a good question man. We are ready to go, whenever the time is right. We’re writing on the road, and we’re always writing when we’re at home, so we feel like we’re ready to go whenever the time is right. But at the same time, we didn’t wanna rush into anything. We’re super excited about Vices and Virtues, and we’re really proud of that record. We have been touring it hard, we’re on our third single now, but “Sorry” is doing really well at the moment. It’s in the Top 20, and still picking up steam, so we’ll see how far we can take that. Then I’m pretty sure we’ll get to another single after that, so I think there’s alot of different factors involved. We’ve got a bunch of different tours lined up, we finish this little run at Rocklahoma on the 27th, and then we go home for a few weeks, then we’re coming back out at the end of June. We’re gonna be going pretty hard again, as of then, so. Ya know, we wanna be on the road supporting Vices and Virtues as long as we can. So we’ll see what happens. My best guess is that we’ll tour Vices and Virtues until December-ish, and then we’ll take a look at it then. Maybe even get out early next year on Vices and Virtues, and then think about the studio, or maybe once we take a break at the end of this year, maybe that will be the time. I think we’ll just have to see what’s going on with the singles, and what kind of tours we’ve got lined up, and all that. We are ready to go, and I’m pretty sure the second album is gonna be a step up from the last one.
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of touring, and the next single, alot of bands have that, for lack of a better word, that “B-Side” that they’ll break out. A song that might not have been released as a single, but the crowd goes nuts for it. What’s your “B-Side”? And does crowd response ever factor into the selection of a new single?
CALE GONTIER: Yeah, absolutely man. I guess for us, right now, a song that is on Vices and Virtues and hasn’t been released as a single, but people really seem to be stoked about, and always ask for is “Best I Can”. Which is kinda one of the mellower tracks on the record, but it’s a really special song for us. To be honest, it’s one of my favorites on the record, and alot of people seem to be into that song. It’s tough when we’re out on all these opening festivals, you only usually get like 30-35 minute sets, 40 if we’re lucky, so we gotta be really selective. Often we’ll only get to play six songs, so we can’t sneak in a song like that. People are hitting us up on Facebook the next day, saying “Great set, but I really wanted to hear ‘Best I Can’” It is, I guess a bit of a ballad, for lack of a better word. But people really seem to dig that song. I don’t know if it’s because they can relate to it, it seems to be a special song for alot of people. We’ve actually had some really cool moments with it live. Like, we were playing on the Uproar Festival last summer, and one of our more special moments was when there was a huge mosh pit in the middle from the song before, and we kicked into “Best I Can”, and at the back of this mosh pit all of these shirtless dudes fucking picked up this dude in a wheelchair and passed him 80 feet through the crowd, up and over the barricade where the security grabbed him. That was while we were playing “Best I Can”, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that, I was blown away! That was a pretty special moment.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, you mentioned this earlier, but you actually have two major label recording artists in your family, which is a bit of a rare feat, especially when it’s not a sibling, or someone in the same band. Who inspired yourself and Adam to become musicians? Do you come from a musical family?
CALE GONTIER: Yup. Absolutely man. I think our biggest influence would be my older brother, Josh, he’s 3 1/2 years older than me. He taught me and Adam, both to play guitar when we were twelve or thirteen. Josh is a monster guitar player, and he’s a great singer. Everybody in our family is quite musical, ya know. Josh plays music for a living, he’s not signed to a major, but he plays five nights a week in clubs around our hometown of Peterborough, which is just outside of Toronto. My mom sings and plays guitar. Adam’s mom is like a lounge piano player/jazz player, she plays for a living. Their brother, my Uncle Tom is a monster musician, as well. So we definitely come from a musical family. But Josh taught us to play and it just kinda snowballed from there. Once we were old enough, we moved from Peterborough, up to Toronto. I was crashing on Adam’s couch, and we were hosting open stages and stuff like that, playing acoustic, and singing harmonies for $40 and free drinks, and just having fun with it. That kinda spawned the Three Days Grace thing, and I touched on that story a little bit before. Adam and I are super tight, we’re pretty much brothers, our moms are sisters, and our dads are brothers, and we’re two months apart in age. Ya know, we’ve just grown up together, and he’s my best friend, we talk every day. It is pretty special, it’s pretty cool to look at now, I just wish we could tour together more. (laughs) To be honest. We did that Uproar Festival last summer, like I said, and Three Days was direct support for Avenged Sevenfold, we were on the second stage in the afternoon, but it was cool to be on a big two month run like that. Every morning I’d walk up to the main stage area and have coffees with Adam on his bus, and every afternoon he’d come out on our stage during our set and sing “Raining” with us…
AWAY-TEAM: God damn! Three times! (laughs) That’s the third one Cale! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: That’s the third time? (laughs) I’m sorry man, I’m stealing your thunder! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) No man, like I said, you’re making my job easier! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) No but, that was super special for me. To be able to do that every day, and have Adam up with us every night. Yeah it’s awesome man, really cool.
AWAY-TEAM: That is cool. We recently lost MCA of the Beastie Boys who, alot of people look at him as an MC but he was actually under-appreciated as a bass player. Name the top three bass players that you appreciate for having an impact on the way you play.
CALE GONTIER: I think probably my biggest influence is Mr. (Robert) DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots. I think he’s a monster bass player, and he’s also a great guitar player, and he writes alot of their songs acoustically, which I try to do. I play alot of guitar, and I’m always writing on the acoustic as well. But I think his bass lines are the tastiest, they’re not too much, they’re just perfect. I don’t know what it is, but he seems to have a knack for putting the perfect bass line in there, ya know. So he’d definitely be my number one. John Paul Jones, of course, he blows my mind. If I could ever get to a level like that, I’d be surprised. (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: He’s a monster. Besides that man, I think just a couple of my friends. I think Brad Walsh from Three Days, he plays Ernie Ball Manta just like me, he plays it down just like me, nothing too flashy, but tasty little pieces here and there. Just a good solid player. One of my other best friends, Tommy Gardner, he plays in a band called Before The Curtain, from my hometown of Peterborough, and actually Adam just signed them to his record label called Sludge Factory Records. But those two dudes are a couple of my oldest and best friends, and they’re super solid bass players, so I definitely put them on that list.
AWAY-TEAM: At Coachella this year they brought back another deceased artist, in Tupac, as a hologram. There’s been rumblings of perhaps bringing back Freddie Mercury to play with Queen; which Roger Taylor, the drummer, said he’d have no part of. What are your thoughts on that concept? Is it good or bad for the industry?
CALE GONTIER: Wow, umm, it’s a pretty crazy idea. A hologram of somebody that’s passed away? I don’t know. I don’t know if I really feel it man. I think that it’s definitely gonna be like actually seeing them perform live, it’ll be a different experience. I haven’t thought about it too much, but I think my initial reaction is that I’d rather see them just leave it be, and not mess with a great thing, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: Right. My thought is that it might water down the concert experience. They might come around and say, Art of Dying is playing in San Francisco, but if you wanna see them in Chicago here’s your hologram, ya know. I don’t know…
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) Yeah. It’s a strange idea. But yeah, my initial reaction, I don’t really like it. I like the idea of an old school rock show. When the band comes to your town, get your ticket, if you wanna get up to the front get in line early and work your way to the front. I think there’s something special about that whole concept.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely! Okay, last but not least, we touched on this a bit, but being from Peterborough you’re probably just as big a hockey fan as I am, so who’s winning the Cup?
CALE GONTIER: Ooh, tough one! It’s been a crazy year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that’s for sure. I think right now, I’m putting my money on L.A. I’m not specifically a Kings fan or whatever, but I think once they knocked off the Canucks… Jonathan Quick is a guy that could stand on his head and get them there, it just seems to me they’re playing real well, and with alot of confidence. I think they’re gonna be tough to beat now.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s where I’m at. I’m a Pens fan myself, and was a little disappointed, but I have a good buddy who’s a huge Rangers fan, and he already beat me with his damn Giants in the Super Bowl, so I don’t wanna see that happen twice.
CALE GONTIER: (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Plus Jonathan Quick went to UMass, and I’m from that area, so.
CALE GONTIER: Yeah, it was pretty crazy to see L.A. knock off the Canucks in the first round like that. It was a bit of a disappointment for all the Vancouver fans on the bus here. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah, that must have been a quiet ride! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) Win the President’s Trophy, and get knocked out in the first round, that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow. But maybe since L.A. knocked them out, maybe that’s why I keep pulling for them. (laughs) It feels a little better! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Well at least there wasn’t any riots this year! (laughs)
CALE GONTIER: (laughs) Yeah exactly, right? Thank God. That was pretty silly that whole thing.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah it was. Well, hey man, thank you so much for your time. Best of luck in everything you do, and I look forward to catching up with you when you get back here to Florida.
CALE GONTIER: I hope so man. My pleasure. Thank you so much for doing this.
AWAY-TEAM: The pleasure is all mine. Appreciate it.
CALE GONTIER: Alright Jay, take care man.
AWAY-TEAM: You too. Bye.
For more Art of Dying, including tour dates and to purchase merchandise visit the band’s official website here.
Special thanks go out to Cale Gontier for so graciously giving me his time, and to Andrew Steinthal and TJ Tauriello at Warner Bros. Records for making it all happen.
Egypt Central’s sophomore album introduces us to the ongoing battle between EC and the White Rabbit. We begin our journey in a “Ghost Town”, where we first meet the “White Rabbit” who proceeds to lure us in with it’s strong vocals and killer riffs. The title track is the perfect blend of Shinedown-meets-Nonpoint-meets-My Chemical Romance. This only serves to get us primed to “Kick Ass”, with the track of the same name that has [Insert Major Sport Here] playoff anthem written all over it. The hits keep rolling when we attempt to ‘make the “Change”‘, but we discover “The Drug” which makes us think we are listening to frontman John Falls belting out a new MCR track. But be warned, “The Drug” may just bring us “Down in Flames”, but it’s sooooo worth it! It’s hard to pick a favorite off of this gem, but “Down in Flames” is definitely a front runner.
After nearly going “Down in Flames”, we channel early Salivain trying to deflect the “Blame”. Once we decide that we’ll never “Surrender” in a hail of heavy riffs and melodic hooks, we lay down our weapons and break out the acoustics to end our journey lamenting about the ultimate “Backfire” , a track which seems to be covered in producer Skidd Mills’ fingerprints.
All in all, White Rabbit hits us harder than Kid Rock at a Waffle House, and leaves us seeing stars… stars by the names of John Falls, Joey Chicago, Blake Allison, and Jeff James. All I can say is WOW! This album should’ve been called White Whale, instead of White Rabbit! This is the ever elusive perfect assembly of kick ass rock ‘n’ roll. Right out of the gates you’re compelled to follow the White Rabbit down his twisted path from “Ghost Town” to the ultimate “Backfire”. As you know, I use the perfect score about as much as Jon and Kate Gosselin use birth control, but this album is a virtual cornucopia of bonafide hits. Already the leading candidate for my album of the year, this is a MUST HAVE. VERY, VERY HIGHLY reccomended! White Rabbit hits stores May 31st.
My first introduction to Egypt Central came in the form of “Taking You Down”, off of their long awaited self-titled debut. I was immediately entranced by the strong vocal presence and riff heavy melodies, accompanied by a stellar rhythm section that was well worth the five year wait for the album’s release. John Falls and company showed an impressive musical cohesion, that would be sure to set them on the path to greatness. Fast forward three years later, the band’s sophomore effort lands on my desk and prompts me to write my most enthusiastic proclamation of greatness ever. White Rabbit is a cover to cover musical masterpiece of biblical proportions. So it should come as no surprise that I instantaneously requested the chance to get inside of the minds behind the album. Fasten your seatbelt, and keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times, as we dive down the hole with Egypt Central’s fearless leader and immerse ourselves in the twisted world of the White Rabbit…
AWAY-TEAM: First and foremost, congratulations, you really nailed it with this album. I think I was most impressed by the fact that, usually on a great album you’ll find one or two songs that you can sort of live without, on White Rabbit there is really no weak spots. I very rarely give out perfect scores when I review an album, but congratulations you guys earned it.
JOHN FALLS: Thank you very much man, we read your review and it was amazing! And flattering to say the least dude. I mean your writing is unbelievable man, the way that you tied everything together, and lead it through and made it just like a story is so similar to the way that we try to do things for the fans. It just makes it all makes sense. I was just blown away, Joey and I were reading your review as we left Memphis the other day, and thank you very much man! It was awesome to see an earnest response like that from someone who listened to the record and they got it, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: Well thank you, I appreciate that. There’s actually more than meets the eye to the title of this album. Explain that to me, what exactly is the White Rabbit?
JOHN FALLS: Well, the White Rabbit represents one side, it’s like the White Rabbit becomes this army of whatever is the black cloud that’s been over the band. This character Fatty Arbuckle is at the helm, and just constantly trying to manipulate, maneuver, and control the band. And our lives. We just went through that so many times, and it’s almost like people see you and see what you’re doing, and they attach themselves to it. Ya know, that’s what this industry does to you. If people see something that they think they can make money off of, and ultimately if people think that they can’t make money off of you they won’t take a chance at what you’re doing. So it’s kinda like six in one hand, a half dozen in the other. You get some people that just kinda try to keep a blanket over you, and keep you all to themselves, for fear that they don’t bring enough to the table to get you to the next level I think. I feel like people won’t stop at anything, ya know, they’ll go to the furthest length to put this wall up around you, and paint this fake world of everything’s kosher, and everything’s great, everything’s going as it should, but in reality nothing is as it seems. It really is our awakening that we’re talking about on this record, as well as any other life lessons, and tragedy, and just ups and downs that we went through in between the first record and the second. But going back to the story of the White Rabbit, when we first wrote the song it was a song about a specific scenario, and specific people, we were getting it off our chests, ya know. All the other conceptual things that attach to the song to go further in depth to actually tell the fans the story came when we started saying ‘Man, we can do some other stuff, other than just music on this record, to really bring it to life. We can do this comic book, and tell this story in depth, but give it an obvious elaborate twist to make it a fun read, like a comic book.’ We’ve all been fans of comic books and things like that, growing up. We’re way into movies and stuff, so we wanted to take the opportunity to show some other creative sides of the band, and attach that to this record. So we’re working on that diligently, around the clock. The fans will be getting four panels in the record, when they buy the record, but there’s also another eight panels as well that Joey also did with a little bit of a story. A little bit of a poetic rundown, from the birth of Fatty Arbuckle to when the band encounters this evil character. We’re gonna start debuting those in a couple of days, on a twelve day countdown to the release of the record.
AWAY-TEAM: That should be pretty cool. I think you kinda touched on this already, but, the record is sort of a concept album, but not in the traditional aspect, were the songs written prior to the concept? Or were they written specifically with the White Rabbit concept in mind?
JOHN FALLS: No, no, that’s the thing… I don’t wanna say that we’d never do a concept album, but the music is the music. It has to be real, it has to be something that you’ve lived, and that’s what makes it relatable. That’s what makes it honest to the fans, and what makes it honest for yourself. First and foremost, you have to be honest with yourself, and get things off your chest. You have to bring things that are in the basement out, and that’s what’s great about music, is that it’s kind of a self therapy session when you’re able to just express yourself like that. So the music was done. It wasn’t until after the record was done that we decided to start playing with some ideas that were concepts. The concepts have nothing to do with the writing of the music. We found a cool way after the record was done, to go back and tie it all together. Cuz, ya know in the writing of it, we basically were just going back and telling the stories of things that happened over the last couple of years from when we released the first record to when we began recording this one. So naturally, there being stories there, it was easy to go back and put together a storyline that connected song to song.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, it’s art imitating life.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it was all lived in that gap.
AWAY-TEAM: Back to the comic book, is it a little weird the first time you see yourself drawn in comic book form?
JOHN FALLS: Yes and no. It’s actually really cool, cuz I was way into comics growing up. And Joey’s drawn the band before in a couple of different ways, so it’s always been… ya know, the first couple of times I was like ‘Holy crap! Look at me’ (laughs) But in this sense, it’s telling a story where we actually go from what we are in the storyline, to what we actually have the potential to be, and taking on that role of the uncommon superhero is really cool man. And we’ve found a way to connect it to some neat stuff. I think people are gonna really enjoy it. We actually are picking up our new merch guy today, who’s one of our best friends for many years, and he’s been Joey’s best friend for a long time. He’s also an artist, he did the album artwork for the first record, he and Joey did. So we’re gonna have him out here as well working on this thing, so we got the green light to go ahead after we finished these panels this last month, to start working on the full length comic, or graphic novel, or however it comes out in the end. So we’re willing to push it as far as fans go. If it comes out and fans are liking it alot, and it really goes that far, who know’s, the sky’s the limit with how far we take it.
AWAY-TEAM: Well I can’t wait to see it. One of my favorite tracks off the album is “Down in Flames”, which is sort of a call to arms to an entire generation. What was the inspiration behind that song?
JOHN FALLS: Well, I mean, you said it right there. It’s one of those things that, we live in the world, I mean we consider ourselves to live in one part of the world, but humanity as a whole. With everything that’s been going on in the world, with natural disasters, and wars, the economy… everything, all the issues that we have as a race, needs to be addressed. The only way it’s gonna be addressed, is if we all come together and decide to (pauses)
AWAY-TEAM and JOHN FALLS simultaneously: Wake up.
JOHN FALLS: …and truly try to change what’s been going on in the world. Because no one’s gonna do it for us. As long as we continue to keep barriers up, and we continue to get distracted by, ‘Oh hey, let’s watch prime time TV, because this is cool, this is entertaining let’s forget about the fact that we have people dying all over the world. Let’s see who’s gonna be the next American Idol’! Ya know, ‘Let’s see what’s going on with Charlie Sheen and Two and a Half Men’
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, we’re not focusing on the real problems.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah. Ya know, one thing covers another. I mean, we’re not political, we’re not gonna talk about politics, or religion, or anything like that because that’s to each his own. I don’t think that that’s something that we would choose to take on, with our music or our opinion. I feel like that’s exactly what it is, and everyone’s entitled to their own. I will say that when you have tragedy, there’s no good that can come out of people killing one another. And that gets covered up by another scenario, and you have the thing in Japan, and then that gets covered up by something that happens here. Then you got Alabama, and that covers up Osama Bin Laden. Whatever’s the hot new thing, it covers up another issue, and we stop addressing the things. We get distracted so easily by what we’re being fed in media, that we have to take the extra time to stay involved with what’s going on on our planet! And try to work together, and it truly is a wake-up call that the next generation that’s coming up is gonna have a whole seperate set of issues than what anyone in the history of this world has ever had to deal with. We’re trying to do our little part to make sure that maybe we get a few of them to smell the coffee, and get out of bed. (laughs) And start working towards a better future.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) You’ve enlisted the services of mega producer Skidd Mills to produce this album, which I found to be really evident in a song like “Backfire”. Other artists that I’ve spoken to that have worked with him have told me that he is a pretty passionate hands-on type of producer. What kind of suggestions did he bring to the table to help make this thing the monster that it is?
JOHN FALLS: He had tons of input on it. I mean he was there for the whole thing, which is what made it awesome. That’s why we went with Skidd, is that we wanted someone who would really get in there and be a part of it, who would believe in the band and see where the band could potentially be if someone really got in there and put in the work that we were putting in. From everything to co-writes, to ideas of us playing with different sounds. It was just going the extra mile to make this record what it had the potential to be. He didn’t fall short on anything. He didn’t take any shortcuts of any kind. He put himself into the record as much as we did, and through that truly became our brother in arms on this thing. He’s an awesome human being, outside of being our producer, and our friend, he is a great family man. We all have that in common with him, so there’s alot of passion on here that you can feel from him, and from us. Even if you listen to the mixes, you can tell that he was in there just rocking out the whole time.
AWAY-TEAM: Well you guys certainly make a great team.
JOHN FALLS: I think so also. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: I had read that you were influenced by a pretty unlikely source in Garth Brooks. Who were some of your biggest influences growing up, and when did you first realize you wanted to be a singer?
JOHN FALLS: I don’t know, I’ve always liked music growing up, and I’ve listened to alot of different things. Not so much even rock, but it wasn’t until… I mean I always liked singing in the car, I’ve just always had a passion for music as long as I’ve been alive. It wasn’t until though, I was riding around in a car with Josey Scott from Saliva, and we were just jamming out listening to some tunes, and he was like ‘Man you really gotta start a band, ya know things are taking off for me, and I’ll help you in any way I can. I just think you have a really cool voice, and I think people will like it.’ And I was like ‘Aww,Shut up dude! Don’t play like that man! I don’t even know anything about music. I don’t know how to play an instrument!’ I think I played trombone for a little bit in junior high. I was like ‘No man!’ (laughs)
JOHN FALLS: I was like ‘I don’t know about all of that man. I’m not you…’ He said ‘No man, you really should. I think you could bring something to the table’ Then a couple weeks later we were riding around in a car with a friend, and it was Josey, and I, and a mutual friend of ours, and he just kept going ‘You need to hear John sing. You need to hear him sing’ He kept pressuring me, so we sang a couple of songs and stuff like that. Then after that I thought maybe it’s not such a terrible idea. Then we were hanging out and I met some of the guys that were eventually gonna be in the band through that, and I was like ‘You know what I’m just gonna swing for the fences, and give it a try. Make a complete career change, and give it a shot’ And then when I hooked up with Blake, and Blake brought Joey to the table, I was like ‘OK I got my musical mastermind in Blake, I’ve got my lyricist that could write about friggin’… a frog on the wall.’
JOHN FALLS: I mean he can write about anything. He just has a gift for it. It’s just unbelievable to watch. What’s awesome is that at the same time that he can do that, he’s also open to anybody’s ideas, and everyone writing. On the first record we did tons of collaborating, everyone in this band is such a team player, it’s not like ‘Hey this is what I do…‘ At the same time you know that certain people have an expertise, so people also stay out of each other’s way, and let someone run with it when they’re just on fire. We’re all truly brothers. We’ve played together, lived together for almost ten years and so we’re all sort of like family. We’re not one of those bands where the singer found the guitar player, and they got a record deal. We are a real band that started from the ground up, in a hole in the wall room in Memphis, TN and just did everything together. Grew up together, learned about life together, fought with one another. We’ve been through it all, and we really are a family who’s out here doing this together.
AWAY-TEAM:You guys were originally signed to Lava Records back in 2003, but ran into some issues with the label and the album didn’t see the light of day until 2008. I had spoken with Sean from Smile Empty Soul, who had the same thing happen to them when they were signed to Lava, the only difference is that they had already put out an album prior to that. Being your first album, and having such a terrible experience with it, how did you perservere and keep focus for all those years? Did you ever consider just giving up?
JOHN FALLS: Well I think that there’s days, naturally, when you’re faced with something like that, that you look at yourself in the mirror and kinda start to question, but. There’s two kinds of people in the world, there’s the kind that when you tell them they can’t, they believe that they can’t, and there’s people that when you tell them they can’t it pisses them off and they’re like ‘I can!’ We’re all fighters in the sense that we don’t give up, ever. Which has raised some crazy, early, youthful arguments and events. (laughs) Cuz we all have that fire in us, none of us are scared to take life on head first and no matter what it throws at us we take it, and just keep going. We always believed in the music, so no matter how many doors got slammed in our face, no matter what the misfortune was, or what got in our way, it was never ‘Ya know what? Let’s just give up’ People were like ‘Change the band name, write a new record, do this do that’ It was always like ‘You know what dude…Kiss my ass!’ That’s just how we felt. No matter what you say or do, this is our music! We made this! And as long as fans keep coming up to us and telling us things like ‘This song helped me out at a time when I was suicidal. It saved my life.’ Or ‘This song helped me get through my divorce. This song helped me when I was at a low point.’ Or ‘This song gets me pumped up when I’m having a bad day.’ As long as it’s affecting people’s lives… if we were changing ten people’s lives who had been in the dark places that we had been in, we were willing to keep fighting. For them. Because we have the ability, and we are blessed to be able to make music and do it for a living, and other people can’t always express themselves that way. So we always just kinda felt that kinship with the fan, that ‘You know what? We’ll say it for you. And we’ll keep fighting, as long as you keep believing.’
AWAY-TEAM: I know you guys, and Joey in particular, are constantly listening to new music when you’re out on the road. When you’re in the songwriting process, do you find it hard to keep present day influences out of your songwriting so as not to sound like everyone else? Or is it something that is welcomed?
JOHN FALLS: Well, I think when we go into the studio, and we’re writing, and we’re recording, we shut the whole world out basically. There’s nothing that exists except Egypt Central. So when we’re in that mode, we’re writing, and we’re listening back, and we’re taking what we recorded that day home and we’re working on it. We’re constantly doing it that way, and not listening to the radio, not necessarily to block it out or anything, but it’s that we’re so obsessed with what we’re doing and making our music the best that it can be. So I think that through the process there’s just not enough time because we’re so focused on our stuff. When we come out we just go right back to listening to what’s out there.
AWAY-TEAM: Well it shows man. Speaking of being out on the road, you guys recently had some trouble with your RV, and ended up having to cancel a few shows because of it…
JOHN FALLS: Man, you did your homework homey!
AWAY-TEAM: Well you know… (both laugh) You now have a brand new tour bus, a pretty nice one I might add, and you’re planning on having all of your fans sign it. Tell me about that, how is that gonna work?
JOHN FALLS: Well, we’re gonna pull in, park it, grab your Sharpie and write something awesome and sign your name!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s really cool!
JOHN FALLS: We wanted to do something for the fans that would be a unique experience. Something that they probably never have seen before, or had an opportunity to do. Ya know, we sign stuff for them any time they want us to, but it’s like you can leave your mark and say ‘I was there.‘ Then when we’re done with this leg, and this bus, we’re gonna take tons of pictures of it, and then it’s probably gonna cost us alot of money to have this thing repainted. But hey, it’s fun for us and the fans, and ya know, alot of bands say ‘It’s all about the fans. It’s all about the fans. It’s all about the fans.’ Yeah well that’s because your publicist told you to say that. For us it really is about the fans, because we were cutting up Big n’ Tasty’s four ways just to feed ourselves. We were splitting hot dogs, one bite apiece for six-seven years just to keep doing this, and the only thing that kept us going was the fans. For us it really is about the people that believe in us and we believe in them. So it’s all about us connecting and coming together as one movement to get the music out. And they work with us on that, they’re proud, and that’s the one thing that’s really cool about the die hard Egypt Central fans. They’re proud to be Egypt Central fans, they’re proud to show you what they call “Their Band’s music” and it’s awesome for people to call us “Their Band”. It’s not just flattering to us, but it also let’s us know that we have this huge clique of people that are our people, and see the world the way that we do.
AWAY-TEAM: I think that’s one of the coolest gifts you can give back to the fans, because yeah it’s cool to say ‘I got my picture taken with John Falls.’ but to say ‘I actually signed their tour bus.’ That’s pretty cool.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it’s different. I mean normally if you walk up and sign someone’s tour bus, you’re looking at some jail time. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah…
JOHN FALLS: But with this, we want everyone to come and have fun with it, ya know. Don’t do anything so stupid that we have to cover it up, because just remember there are fans that are underage. Don’t put anything that’s too inappropriate. Have fun with it, but at the same time, keep in mind we gotta take care of the little people out there too, okay.
AWAY-TEAM:(laughs) The band takes their name from a street in your hometown of Memphis, have you been back to Memphis recently to see the effects of the recent flooding? Are there any plans for Egypt Central to put on any kind of a benefit concert to help the victims?
JOHN FALLS: We actually just spent some time in Memphis. We actually limped into our hometown with the RV, to play Memphis in May, and then it just crapped out completely. So we put it in the shop and they didn’t have a high enough turn around to get it back on the road to make it to Florida to do the last couple shows on the tour. So we were just stuck at home, which is nice because you get to see your family, but we were gonna get about a week off anyway after the Florida dates. So it kinda sucked, but we’re gonna make that up and get down to Florida. We love our fans there, and we’re gonna get back down there and make that up. It was crazy though, they were talking about cancelling it (Memphis in May), the RV was parked on the path down at Tom Lee Park and the river was coming up into the grass, almost hitting us that day. It was on watch all day, it could’ve come up another foot at any time, and if so it would’ve just flooded. With all that electric stuff, it would’ve been a bad day for everyone. Fortunately we got through Music Fest OK, and over the next couple of days at home downtown just got reamed, and not just downtown there are so many areas that are underwater. It’s a tragedy, not just for Memphis, but everyone that’s been affected by the Mississippi River. Zach Myers from Shinedown is from our hometown as well, and has been a long time friend…
AWAY-TEAM: He’s a great guy!
JOHN FALLS: Yeah! He’s currently trying to put together a benefit right now, which we’re hoping that our schedule is going to allow us the time to get back home to do. We’re working on that right now, trying to squeeze it in for the date that he’s looking at. But whether or not we’re able to do that, we’re gonna set up to take some type of donations where 100% of the proceeds will go to the flood victims in Memphis. It’s definitely a blue collar town, and there’s not alot of things set up to help with this. So we’re gonna definitely do our part to try to bring some relief to the people that are in need right now.
AWAY-TEAM: I love to see artists do things like that.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, at the same time it’s one of those things where we want people to know that we’re gonna do what we’ve gotta do for our hometown, at the same time if you guys need us in Alabama just pick up the phone and call. We understand what they’re going through as well, and it’s unbelievably tragic. I can’t even find the words to imagine what they’re going through, and I just don’t want people to forget that Alabama, alot of it was just left in ruins, and alot of lives were lost over this. We have alot of issues that are going on right now that we have to come together and help out with. So it’s gonna take everyone working together to make that happen. Not to go back to it, but we just have to remember that there are a ridiculous amount of people in Japan right now, who when we had Hurricane Katrina come down on us, bent over backwards to try to help us. We need to continue to try to focus on them right now, and keep helping them out.
AWAY-TEAM: It goes back to what you said before, one thing makes you forget the other.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, let’s not let the blanket cover up the people that need to be helped man, ya know. Let the politicians take care of the political stuff, and let the other things just filter themselves out. Let’s work on what we can work on together. It’s one of those things, I know everyone’s broke right now, the economy sucks, but if you’ve got that extra five dollars that you were gonna spend to rent a movie tonight, take that extra five dollars and send it to somewhere good. I know people go ‘Oh it’s five dollars, how can it help?’ Your five dollars by itself can’t help, but go and tell your friends to give five dollars because if you do that, and the entire country can do that, we can alleviate alot of the issues.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I know that first hand. I actually have some business relations in Tuscaloosa, one of which lost her entire house, and we were part of a big drive to aid them, and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that was being donated. I mean brand new chainsaws still in the box, hundreds of dollars worth of goods from single donors. It was unreal to see how people come together in a time of need like that.
JOHN FALLS: That’s the thing, is that’s what’s amazing about our country is that we band together like no other during a time of need. The problem is that there’s so many needs right now, that we don’t need to forget about any of them. They’re all important, and we just need to attack it man. We need to attack it with extreme prejudice and help these people out.
AWAY-TEAM: The Grand Ole’ Opry sustained some pretty bad damage with the flooding in Nashville last year, do you know how safe places like Graceland and Beale St. are from the current disaster?
JOHN FALLS: It seems like everything, I mean barring a tragedy like a levee breaking, it seems like we’ve gotten out of the fear zone. When I left, that was a couple days ago now, I had gotten word that they’re worried about it continuing to rise at this point. I think that their fear is that if it rises above the level of the levee, what could happen is it could topple. I’m not really sure because I don’t claim to be an expert on that, I’m really pretty ignorant on the matter, I don’t really understand what the dangers really are, and what you would do to prevent it at this point. But, I know that they’re taking every precaution they can to make it as safe as possible. The thing is that, downtown kinda sets up on a bluff, so if it came up over that and then went down, I can’t even imagine what the damage would be. But it’s some of the other low lying areas that aren’t up on the bluff that are being affected. I mean the casinos bring so much business to the area, and them just being shut down, and the damage. I mean, I saw a picture before I left where it had a sign that was like 7 feet or something like that, it was one of those PVC bars that designate height clearance in the parking garage, and it was floating up, like feet above. So far as I know, I read a statement that they made in Memphis, I can’t remember who made it, but he was like Graceland is safe. He said something about like running into hell, or he would do something crazy like that to save Graceland. It’s a huge tourist thing, not just for our city, but for music fans around the world. It’s something that I think people would lay down in the streets to keep safe. They would hold themselves together like sandbags to keep water out of Graceland. I mean it’s the second most visited house in the world, I didn’t know that, but it’s second only behind the White House. It has alot of value in that Elvis, even still to this day keeps people believing in music, especially rock music, and I for one thank him for all of his contributions in life and in death still to this day. Keeping the faith alive.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I’m a huge Elvis fan. I know where you’re coming from.
JOHN FALLS: Me too dude.
AWAY-TEAM: Alright man, I know your answer about who’s gonna win, but Game 7 today, Grizz by how many?
JOHN FALLS: Actually, I think it’s gonna be a tough game, it’s gonna be a very physical game. They’re both very young teams, but I think that we have a veteran leader in Zach Randolph, and we have a guy whose heart is bigger than the city of Memphis in a guy like Tony Allen, and in Shane Battier. I think that they’re carrying the weight of the city of Memphis. Memphis has just gone through so many things over the last couple of years, in the last decade even, that through their success they’re making Memphis believe. Everywhere you turn there’s a Grizzlies sign that says ‘Believe Memphis’, and it’s got Memphis believing in itself again that we can take our city back to where it once was. I feel that they now know that they’re carrying that weight, and that’s something that when you go into a ten round heavyweight championship fight like what’s gonna go on today, they have a passion going into it that’s not about winning a championship, it’s not about just playing to win. They’re carrying such a heavy load that I feel like these guys are gonna get out there, and they’re just gonna deliver for four quarters, and I think they’re gonna have a huge victory tonight. I couldn’t speculate as to how they’re gonna do it, and in what form, but that’s what’s great about us. We’re a blue collar town, with a blue collar team. We don’t depend on one or two players to get it done, they depend on one another, and for me that’s what makes me love the team even more. I feel like they’ve gone through their adversities the same as Egypt Central has, and they better hope that my set time is not during that game tonight, because we may be missing a show. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Well I’m pulling for the Grizz too, now that my Celtics are out, so we’ll see how it goes.
JOHN FALLS: Awesome. Go Grizz Baby!
AWAY-TEAM: John, thank you for your time. I really appreciate the kind words too.
JOHN FALLS: It was awesome man. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m glad that you connected with it the same way that we have. We listen to it the same ourselves, so thanks.
AWAY-TEAM: Good talking to you. We’ll have to make sure to get together when you get down to Florida.
JOHN FALLS: Oh yeah we’ll definitely have to hang. We’ll do lunch or dinner or something. I’ll be in touch.
AWAY-TEAM: Talk to you soon brother.
JOHN FALLS: Bye.
White Rabbit hits stores May 31st. For more info on Egypt Central, including tour dates and to pre-order the album, visit www.egyptcentral.com
Special thanks go out to John Falls for so graciously giving me his time, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making it all happen.
Over 30,000 fans were in attendance–with VIP and camping packages sold out–at the second annual Carolina Rebellion, held Saturday, May 5 at the legendary Rockingham Speedway in Rockingham, NC. The festival implemented various upgrades and venue improvements in 2012 to provide a premier concert experience at the multi-stage rock festival.
Fans were treated to a major reunion in the hard rock world when Korn was joined onstage by former guitarist Brian “Head” Welch for the band’s classic song “Blind.” This marked Head’s first time playing with the band in over seven years and was a highlight of the festival.
According to Loudwire.com (May 6, 2012), Korn frontman Jonathan Davis brought Welch out with the following introduction: “For a long ass time, this spot right here has been very lonely – very very lonely. I want to bring out one of my truest and oldest and most beloved friends to come out and have some fun with this. You guys ready? My boyyyyyyy!”
Carolina Rebellion featured performances from headliners Shinedown, along with Korn, Evanescence, Staind, Five Finger Death Punch, Slash, Chevelle, Volbeat, Halestorm, P.O.D., Adelitas Way and more.
The festival is proud to be sponsored by Monster Energy, Jägermeister, Hangover Recovery, and f.y.e. - for your entertainment. Carolina Rebellion is produced by Right Arm Entertainment and AEG Live, the same team that produces the highly successful Rock On The Range in Columbus, OH. Rockingham Speedway is located at 2152 N US HWY 1, Rockingham, NC, less than two hours from Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Columbia and Greensboro.
The third annual Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival returns this August and September for more than 30 shows throughout North America. The main stage features multiplatinum rock bands Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind and Papa Roach, along with breaking band Adelitas Way. In addition, the Ernie Ball Stage and Jägermeister Stage in the festival area will include performances from multiplatinum headliners P.O.D., as well as up-and-coming artists Deuce, Fozzy, Redlight King, Mindset Evolution (winner of the 2011 Best Buy Music Gear Battle Of The Bands Powered By Ernie Ball), In This Moment, Thousand Foot Krutch, Candlelight Red and a local battle of the bands winner.
“This is our first year on the UPROAR Festival, and we are honored to be sharing the stage with all the bands…Trust me this is one tour you do not want to miss,” says Brent Smith of Shinedown.
Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin proclaims, “Nothing makes us feel more at home than playing the best festival in the U.S. with the baddest-ass line-up of the year! You better hold on to your hats America, ’cause this fall we’re coming at you hard ‘n loud with the power hour Smackdown!”
The touring music and lifestyle festival continues to grow. Despite encountering hurricanes, floods and other inclement weather in 2011, the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival packed houses, with over 324,800 in total attendance. UPROAR expands in 2012 by adding a third stage and more bands to the lineup.
To kick off the 2012 tour, the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival will be giving away a trip for two to any show on the 2012 trek. The grand prize winner will receive roundtrip airfare for two from a U.S. city to the UPROAR show of their choice, hotel accommodations, airport transfers, $500 spending cash, and VIP treatment at the show. Go to http://bit.ly/uproarflyaway to enter for a chance to win.
Performance times have been announced for the sixth annual ROCK ON THE RANGE– America’s premier destination rock festival–held May 18-20 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH.
The daily schedule is as follows (performance times subject to change):
Friday, May 18
Friday Night 4Play F.Y.E. Second Stage
7:00 PM Hells Bells
7:45 PM Black Tide
8:30 PM Foxy Shazam
9:30 PM Hairball
Saturday, May 19 Monster Main Stage
Noon Adelitas Way
1:10 PM Halestorm
2:20 PM Theory of a Deadman
3:40 PM Chevelle
5:00 PM Slash
6:40 PM Five Finger Death Punch
8:10 PM Shinedown
9:45 PM Incubus
F.Y.E. Second Stage
11:30 AM Emphatic
12:35 PM New Medicine
1:45 PM Falling in Reverse
3:05 PM Cavo
4:25 PM P.O.D.
5:55 PM Cypress Hill
11:30 AM Fox Rocks Winner
12:35 PM Otherwise
1:45 PM Rival Sons
3:05 PM Kyng
4:25 PM In This Moment
5:55 PM Bobaflex
Sunday, May 20 Monster Main Stage
12:05 PM Black Stone Cherry
1:15 PM Escape the Fate
2:30 PM The Darkness
3:50 PM Volbeat
5:10 PM Mastodon
6:45 PM Megadeth
8:15 PM Marilyn Manson
9:45 PM Rob Zombie
F.Y.E. Second Stage
11:30 AM Aranda
12:40 PM Redlight King
1:55 PM Trivium
3:15 PM Attack Attack!
4:35 PM Down
6:00 PM Anthrax
11:30 AM Ghosts of August
12:40 PM Eve to Adam
1:55 PM SOiL
3:15 PM James Durbin
4:35 PM 12 Stones
6:00 PM Lacuna Coil
A limited number of ROCK ON THE RANGE weekend and single-day tickets are still available. In addition, this year ROTR is offering the first-ever “4-Pack Special” (which includes a lower service charge with every 4 tickets) for $199, plus service fees. These tickets are on sale at the festival’s website, Ticketmaster and the Crew Stadium Box Office. All weekend tickets include free entry to the second annual Friday Night 4Play pre-show party.
Presented by Right Arm Entertainment, AEG LIVE and Crew Stadium, ROCK ON THE RANGE is a multi-stage music and lifestyle event featuring a potent line-up of bands on three stages. The nationally renowned festival centrally located in the heart of the country has annually drawn weekend crowds in excess of 70,000 since its inception in 2007.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD
Photos by Marcy J Royce
Review by Marcy J Royce
In the beginning of February 2012, Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD announced that SHINEDOWN would be performing on Wednesday, April 25. And the local area fans reacted. The show sold out very quickly. It has been since September 2010 when I had last photographed and reviewed SHINEDOWN when they were fresh off the Carnival of Madness tour. Sound Of Madness was the main release they were supporting at that time. And I was very impressed with that show.
I knew that SHINEDOWN’s newest release, Amaryllis, was set to hit on March 27 and it was being highly anticipated by many, including myself. I preordered it on iTunes. When I first listened to Amaryllis the entire way through, all I could think was WOW! It just grabbed me tight. Next I ordered the iBook for Amaryllis. It gave me a great resource in the making and methods of Amaryllis. I was completely psyched to know what was to be for SHINEDOWN’s performance on April 25.
As I perused the youTube videos for April 2012 shows of SHINEDOWN, I found myself discovering one awesome light show. I kind of got a feel of what the setlist songs would be. As the day approached I was eagerly anticipating the show that memories are made from. Don’t worry. I wasn’t disappointed.
As the intro began and the place went black, the crowd became like a rabid dog. Pure energy started exploding from every direction. I could just feel the intensity of it all. SHINEDOWN kicked off the set with the Sound of Madness accompanied by a killer light show. Holy balls, it was intense. If any fan didn’t become swept up into the wave you shouldn’t have been there. I could see immediately how tight the band was with each other and the crowd. These guys certainly know how to make each fan feel like they are there performing just for them. Good interaction and eye contact everywhere, all night. From the ground level crowd to the 3rd level VIP section. You could tell these guys really enjoy performing with each other. And I could see what Brent Smith meant in the “For Your Sake: Inside The Making Of Shinedown’s Amaryllis” when he said that “it’s a lot of energy and interaction with the crowd” and “the show really is the crowd”. Next up was Diamond Eyes. Full force energy shot right at me. And once again the light show that accompanied the song was killer. The band was like puppies let loose. All over the stage. With that pure energy that makes each song, of each performance, intense and fun. I could see just how much Brent has changed physically. I follow him on Twitter and know that he has been working out. It shows. Looks better, feels better, and the tons of swooning women were delighted.
The third song of the night was the new song Enemies from Amaryllis. Love that song, one of my favorites from the new release. I really started shooting as much as I could knowing this was my last song in the media pit. Taking it all in. As I exited I made my way to higher ground in the upper level. My spot there was on stage left and not a straight on view. I wanted to try and record a song or two from Amaryllis to share with all of you here. But alas, it was not meant to be. My phone stopped working. Of all nights, yeesh! So that means you must just go see them for yourself. I promise you, 100%, that you will not regret spending your hard earned cash to see one of the premier bands of this time. True musicians doing what they love. And excelling at it. SHINEDOWN’s drive, determination, and raging desire to be the best they can be surely showed in this performance. Brent’s vocals were dead on, strongly delivered, and he never waivered the entire night. He is one of the best when it comes to vocals of a frontman. Barry pounded those drums with fever, delivering heart pounding beats from beginning to end with a huge smile constantly. Eric was a monster on the bass. And Zach was steller. Both Eric and Zach were like energizer bunnies, running around that stage without any indication that batteries were running low. I’m sure many of you attending concerts have had some disappointment with how the songs sound live compared to the cd. Well, that was not the case with SHINEDOWN. They sounded every bit as good as the cd, period. Like I said before, the light show was impressing me. And when you’re married to a lighting director for another band, that says something.
To say the least, SHINEDOWN is one of my go-to bands for many reasons. Live show is priceless. Songs are crafted and meaningful. Energy is high and unrelenting. And many of their songs I use for motivation for workouts and for life experiences. Now go check out SHINEDOWN’s website, www.shinedown.com, for information on music, videos, photos, bio and also where their next tour date is near you. Because you MUST GO! You will be disappointed if you don’t see them. I know I would have been.
4.25.12 Setlist: Sound of Madness
If Only You Knew
The Crow and the Butterfly
Fly From the Inside
I want to give a big shout out to Kelly McWilliam for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. You rock, my dear. Always a pleasure to work with you.
Atlantic recording artists Shinedown formed in Jacksonville, FL in 2001. Since then, they have released three albums full of countless hits, such as “Fly from the Inside”, “45″, “Save Me”, and more recently “Devour”, “The Crow and the Butterfly”, and who could forget their brilliant cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man”. All the while they have been touring their asses off, and playing in front of packed houses, and surprisingly enough none of them have included me. I don’t know how it came to be that I never had the chance to get out and see these guys, but I can’t believe what great shows I’ve missed. That being said, it should come as no surprise that when the opportunity arose to interview guitarist Zach Myers at a stop on this summer’s Carnival of Madness tour, I jumped at the chance. Here’s how it all went down as Zach and I talked about everything from the tour, to Ozzy, to oil spills.
AWAY-TEAM: First off, I’d like to congratulate you on the tour, and the success of the fifth single off “The Sound ofMadness” , “The Crow and the Butterfly”. I saw that it just hit number one on the Active Rock charts, and it’s poised to do the same on the Mainstream Rock chart.
ZACH MYERS: Thanks. That’s five number ones on this record, we’re so very blessed, and we’re really excited. And now we just found out they’re gonna release one more single, so we’re gonna go for six.
AWAY-TEAM: Can you tell me what that’s gonna be?
ZACH MYERS: I think it’s gonna be “Breaking Inside”, but I’m not sure. I can’t confirm that, but I think that’s what it is.
AWAY-TEAM: So six singles AND you’re gonna knock Ozzy off the top spot. That’s pretty cool.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We did already, actually, on Active Rock. Sorry Ozzy.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Back to the tour, you guys have assembled a killer lineup, how did this all happen?
ZACH MYERS: The idea came up…Brent (frontman Brent Smith) wanted to do a festival tour, our manager also wanted to do a festival tour, our manager manages all of these bands. So it was pretty easy to put together, ya know what I mean, it was all in house. It was cool man. It was something that we asked all these bands, we picked the bands. It was a fun idea, when we put it all together, and ya know the best thing about the summer is festivals. And these are all bands that would be on a festival anyway, so we went to every single one of them and said “Why don’t we put on a festival. Our own festival, and travel around” The backstage vibe is way cooler like that. Festivals are just like class reunions, you get together and see all your friends again, so why not have that for a couple months. So it was a very easy idea to put together. It was a no-brainer.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you thought summer festivals were fun. Is this something that you plan to do annually?
ZACH MYERS: It is gonna be an annual thing. But it’s gonna be almost like when Limp Bizkit did the uh…
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We’re not gonna be on it every year. I know that we probably won’t be on it next year, but the following year we’ll probably do it.
AWAY-TEAM: So kinda “One on, one off”?
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. But it will be an annual thing. The Carnival will be an annual event, but who headlines will be different from year to year.
AWAY-TEAM: With Ozzfest kinda winding it’s way down, it seems like the perfect replacement.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and you never know, maybe we could move it to like two or three stages. We would all love that.
AWAY-TEAM: That’d be great. In ten words or less, what can a fan expect to see at the Carnival of Madness?
ZACH MYERS: Madness. It’s a carnival. (laughs) Um. Loud. (pauses) Five of the greatest live shows you’ve ever seen.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys had a Live DVD that was scrapped back in 2007. Any chance we’ll get a Live DVD/Album from this tour?
ZACH MYERS: I can tell you that we’re gonna record a couple shows. DVD’s are so hard pressed now with labels, because they don’t really make any money off of them. They put money into them but they really, no matter how many you sell of them, it’s not like the old days where when you sell a concert DVD, you can’t really sell a million copies of one. Ya know what I mean? I couldn’t tell you the last person who did that in the last ten years, so. We actually talked about doing it ourselves, and funding it ourselves. This is way too cool of a show to not put out a DVD of some sort. If there’s not a DVD, after this we’re doing an acoustic tour and we’re definitely gonna film alot of that, so…
AWAY-TEAM:Now, five singles off “The Sound of Madness”, you said you’re ready to release a sixth, it’s been about three years when can we expect to see a new Shinedown studio album?
ZACH MYERS: Umm. At the earliest, I would say at the end of 2011. At the very earliest. We’re gonna take October off, and go write in L.A. We’ve been writing alot anyway, we wrote the Alice in Wonderland song (“Her Name is Alice”), we’ve written “Diamond Eyes” for The Expendables. But yeah, we’re gonna go write in October, then we’re gonna go do this acoustic tour, and then I think we’re gonna wind it down in about mid-December. Kinda take a break, take about a month or two off, and then start it all back over again.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys recently joined the ever growing list of bands that are boycotting BP Petroleum…
ZACH MYERS: I don’t know where this is coming from.
AWAY-TEAM: Not true?
ZACH MYERS: No. We’ve been asked that like five times. I don’t know where… I disagree with it, I think it’s completely fucked. We all live in the south, so ya know that’s our home…Do I get gas at BP when I’m home? No.
AWAY-TEAM: So I guess the question still does apply. If you had the podium at a BP board meeting, what would you say to them?
ZACH MYERS: What can you say? Who’s fault is it? It’s really not their fault. In all honesty, it’s not their fault when something like that happens. It’s a natural disaster, they didn’t pop the cap off the thing. But it is their fault for not fixing it sooner, or not having a plan in place. They really, if they would’ve kept their mouths shut, then it would’ve been fine. But this guy kept going on and saying things like “There’s more shrimp in Louisiana”. This guy’s an idiot, ya know what I mean? He’s put his foot in his mouth so many times. When you’re the head of a company and you have to have security to escort you back to Europe so people don’t kill you, it’s because you’ve opened your mouth too much. But no, as a band we can’t get involved in that. It’s not our place, we’re not a political band. The most political we’ve ever been is “Devour” and that’s just us talking about what WE saw when WE were in Iraq. But other than that, we’re not a political band, it’s not our business. Eric (bassist Eric Bass) and I are very political as people, but we don’t bring that into the band. You don’t talk about politics, and you don’t talk about religion, that’s just something that you don’t do.
AWAY-TEAM: This is your work. You don’t talk politics at work.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk about politics should be shot! I’m sorry, it’s people that pay to hear you bitch? So what? No one cares! U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, and yeah Bono will slip things in here and there, but he doesn’t take half an hour. And that’s the thing about it, it’s finding that line, ya know. Some bands don’t do that.
AWAY-TEAM: Well thanks, man. I’m looking forward to the show tonight, and thanks for your time. Have a good show.
ZACH MYERS: Thank you very much. We’ll do our best. This is only our third show of the tour, so we’ll see how it goes.
AWAY-TEAM: Just warming up.
ZACH MYERS: Just warming up, and my whole body hurts already. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey Zach thanks alot. It’s been a pleasure.
It appears that Merriam-Webster is going to have to revise another word in their dictionary. perseverance-(noun)see BLACK SUNSHINE’s Matt Reardon. After three long years, several record deals, and a staph infection that nearly cost him his leg the extreme skier turned rock ‘n’ roll frontman bursts onto the scene with his latest band BLACK SUNSHINE. Recently Away-Team’s Jason Rybak had the chance to sit down with Matt to discuss BLACKSUNSHINE’s inevitable path to becoming this planet’s next big, bright stars. However, you may need to grab a cold beverage and pull up a chair…this is no short journey!
AWAY-TEAM: Congrats on the upcoming release of your new album, and your current tour. You guys rocked tonight.
MATT REARDON: Thanks, dude! Tonight was cool, it was a good show. It was nice to be on the big stage.
AWAY-TEAM: Like I said before, to see the response…and the fans standing outside of your merch tent for hours, that was awesome.
MATT REARDON: I mean the response, the only thing that’s being spun on the radio around here is “Once in MyLife”. Everybody in the front knew the words, I was just amazed. That’s the coolest compliment you can get as an artist, to watch people sing your songs.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I mean that is what you do this for…that’s what you’re looking for as an artist.
MATT REARDON: Oh yeah, and even the songs that they didn’t know, they were just all… everyone was all into it. It was cool.
AWAY-TEAM: And that was the same thing with me, I had really only heard “Once in My Life”…and that’s a great song, but your other shit just rocks. I was blown away.
MATT REARDON: We wanna have an album that takes you on a journey. But, you know, I’m a huge fan of this latest SHINEDOWN album. It comes out and fucking kicks you in the teeth. It makes you just like… after the first two songs you’re like, “Holy shit man!”. It gives you a breather and it picks back up again, and that kind of quality musically where you can take people on a journey in their lives…
AWAY-TEAM: Was that the driving force for enlisting Bob Marlette as a producer?
MATT REARDON: I think Bob saw a lot of potential in my vocal chords, like he did with SHINEDOWN; I’ve had that comparison with them quite a bit, and that’s a big compliment.
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve got huge vocal control, never having seen you live before, I was quite impressed.
MATT REARDON: Thanks man. We just did like fourteen shows in a row. We were doing radio at like seven in the morning. I can’t believe they’re (re: vocal chords) still working out good, I’m still learning all the time but uh…working with Bob was a situation where I just kind of knocked on his door pretty much, and found a way to sneak in the back door, and you know… just talked him into giving me a chance. I kept sending in demos, and finally I sent him “Oncein My Life”, “Burn to Shine”, and “Tears” and he was like “Okay, what label are you on? Let’s do the album”. ‘Cause I kept getting record deals, and then the deals would fall apart, and record labels would fall apart and…
AWAY-TEAM: You know I had read that, that you’d had about three years of…
MATT REARDON: Mmm,hmm.
AWAY-TEAM: …meetings and trying to land record deals?
MATT REARDON: I had several record deals in that process. But, I also had several record deals that just wouldn’t do anything, because it just didn’t have the people behind it, and the right energy, and the right kind of mindset that, you know the music business doesn’t work so good without that. And we wanted someone like Kevin Zinger, and a good radio guy like John Kuliak, and just people that were forward thinking and wanted to step outside the box and shake things up a bit.
AWAY-TEAM: So, uh, how’d you all meet?
MATT REARDON: “Toast” (drummer Matt “Toast” Young) and I… I moved from Vermont to Lake Tahoe, I was on a mogul tour and I ended up in this tiny town of Truckee, CA and I was on a open mic one night and “Toast”, who was on drums was like, “Dude, you’ve got a great voice”. I was playing acoustic and singing like some TESLA song or something like that, and he was like “I have a band”, and he was just starting. I knew he was the drummer, and he invited me to play guitar with him. And I was in a band at the time, called FUNGUS, with Shaun Palmer who’s kind of like a Shawn White, I guess I could say. Shaun Palmer’s got his own video game, and I was his guitarist. It’s one of these things where I was a pro skier, he was a pro snowboarder, our bassist was a pro skier and we just had this whole family style thing going around the local scene. “Toast” and I bonded really, really good, and we played off and on; and he went out and became a drum tech for like the best drummers in the world…and I always had a lot of respect for him. He didn’t give up on his dreams. He always wanted to be a drummer on the pro level, and he had every bit of talent to do so. Here he was working with Josh Freese, and Matt Sorum, and Brian Tichy.
And then umm, the bass player… I had a record deal in Arizona where they moved me back from Germany, and it was this Christian rock deal where they threw a bunch of money at us, and I moved back there and I met Chris Serafini from being out in the clubs and I was a big fan of this producer who had a band called LET GO and he was the bass player for that, and I was like ‘That guy can flat out play’. He’s a good hang, he’s a good mountain biker; “Toast” is a great snowboarder and skier. That was just umm… over the period of years meeting people like that.
And then I was shit-faced drunk down here in Florida in Miami, I’d just finished doing seven days of recording with KK Downing from JUDAS PRIEST and Yngwie Malmsteen. They just randomly found my voice, or my demo on uh, a Union management desk, you know Union Entertainment they handle NICKELBACK? And uh, it was real random, when we finished the record, I was just kind of baffled. I had just gotten a job to headline Laguna Seca Raceway for Red Bull, and my guitar player that I had been using just got the job for Miley Cyrus. And they were like “Dude, you should go down to the Keys. There’s this kid that plays violin, he plays drums, he plays guitar, he plays bass. So I drove down there, and went into Dirty Harry’s, I think it’s called. And he was in the house band, he was playing like violin…and he had been on tour with the Van Zandt‘s as a multi-instrumentalist. And just solid, just good people, good southern style; and I flew him out two days later. We did a gig like ten days later in front of 7,000 people. That’s ultimately the story behind each and every person.
And then once we got the record deal there was no like…I mean, I listened to some of the people in Hollywood…they were like “Dude you need a dude with tattoos”, so I was working with a couple different people so the look was right and then I was like ‘fuck this man!’ I want family style and good people, and now we all own the business, and we’re all like business partners together, and umm…yeah it’s EASY!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s gotta be a great feeling. Essentially you are running a business, and to be able to do it with your “family”? That’s great!
MATT REARDON: We wouldn’t be doing this if I’d had listened to all the fuck-heads in Hollywood sayin’ “Oh he’s gotta look like this, he’s gotta do this” I mean umm…
AWAY-TEAM: (sarcastically) Yeah, there’s gotta be the look.
MATT REARDON: Yeah, but there’s also a feel that you can’t buy.
AWAY-TEAM: And a voice that goes along with it, and you’ve got that voice.
MATT REARDON: You know it’s funny, we were almost signed by Universal/Republic, the like top rock radio guy was like “I have the band that we’re gonna sign”. He ended up signing like eight bands that did nothing and they spent millions of dollars on them. And it’s kind of nice because that certain gentleman is in our camp now working our stuff at radio independently for us. And the one guy, there was two, but the one guy at the end of it all was like “Well they’re over thirty, it’s too radio friendly, and I don’t hear a hit”, and that same guy just heard it and he didn’t know, he only knew my last name…that same guy heard it under BLACK SUNSHINE and was like “This is a hit!” And he heard the same song, same shit-different day, two and a half years ago…
AWAY-TEAM: Under REARDON? (the name of Matt’s former band)
MATT REARDON: Yeah. And he said it was too radio friendly and he didn’t hear a hit, and I wrote that down. I was like ‘That’s the dumbest shit I ever heard in my life.’ It’s good though we’re working with good people, we have a good team. This is Uncle Vern (points to Tour Manager Vern Stratton), he and I have stuck together through and through. He takes a lot of shit!
AWAY-TEAM: So the debut album…
MATT REARDON: Mmm-Hmm
AWAY-TEAM: It’s been out there that it was the product of a horrific accident you suffered while you were skiing…
MATT REARDON: A couple of songs on it, yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: Tell me about that, how was the recovery, and all the surgeries and all of that? How’d that go?
MATT REARDON: I didn’t really have a horrific accident, to be honest with you. If you’ve seen a poster of what I do, or you know what I do, if you’ve seen the videos…
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, yeah.
MATT REARDON: So, I went into a hospital to get a routine procedure, I was down in New Zealand, and when I went into the hospital in France I contracted a staph infection from the hospital. Which then became, you know, I went from like hero-to-zero where it was a little bit like umm, I woke up the next day and they’re like “We might have to amputate your leg, if this spreads any further. You have a serious problem with a staph infection”. A staph infection, you get in a hospital. They sew you up and then you get it from being in the surgery room, and I had like the worst strain that you can get. And there’s one anti-biotic called Vancomycin, that saved my life, and they opened me up like seven times and they cauterized everything, so I lost all the nerves in my leg, and umm, they burned everything to the point where I was like I had this gimp leg with no muscles. I couldn’t ski again, I couldn’t walk again, the right way and I ended up finding the right doctor. Took a second mortgage out with my parents to help pay for it, and I ended up getting like eleven surgeries, and an artificial meniscus, and grew my own cartilage in a Petri-dish for a year and they put it back in. So it was like surgery-after-surgery-after-surgery. That was just to where I could walk correctly, and you know, I couldn’t even push in a clutch in a car. I wasn’t supposed to be able to ski again, or run, or walk and I’m just fine. So it was a long process, and very character building but I’m actually skiing better now than I ever have in my entire life.
AWAY-TEAM: So you seem to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie…
MATT REARDON: (laughs) I like a challenge.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the bigger rush, jumping out of a helicopter? Or taking the stage?
MATT REARDON: It’s really, you know, it’s a lot in the same. When you’re in Europe doing the freaky shit with the helicopters, it’s like when I get down to the bottom I’m just so jacked! It’s the same when I walk on stage, but it’s kind of funny I’m getting really comfortable with walking out onto bigger stages. And it’s cool, ‘cuz I’m understanding the energy that you can control and translate out into a crowd. And we’re just learning the big stage, I’ve done some bigger stages in Europe, but tonight was like a big pinnacle for us. And they’re just two different animals, those two things; but they’re one and the same you know what I mean? I don’t know how to describe that really. You know, when you ski a big face in Alaska or a first descent, and you have an avalanche chasing you, you just cheated death, you beat Mother Nature and you kind of feel larger than life. You get the same feeling when you walk off after nailing a big show.
AWAY-TEAM: So I understand you worked on a movie soundtrack? Mount Saint Elias? Tell me about that.
MATT REARDON: It’s a buddy of mine who is one of the world’s best mountaineers…we used to be on a team together for about eight years, this guy Axel Naglich, he plotted to ski the longest ski run in world’s history. The place where you do that is Alaska so you can ski down the fjord to the ocean from 20,000 feet. It’s a dangerous, gnarliest, and one of the guys that taught me how to play guitar; which I wrote a song about him on my first album, which has been kind of an anthem for people that have passed away, which is called “White Room”. He died on that mountain, and I knew about the mountain from that. Then Axel contacted me, and I’d worked with Red Bull before he said “Hey man, I’d like you to… ‘cuz you know me, I’d like you to write a song. Because we’re gonna spend all this money on Nothing Else Matters from METALLICA with the orchestra…Do you think you could do something like that?” I was like “In my sleep, no problem”. So I submitted a few things, and then, they were like “Alright”, and then Red Bull was like “Fuck it, let’s hire the Vienna Orchestra”. I happened to be in France, doing a film at the time, they flew me to Slovenia…and we worked with a composer there and mapped it all out…and then they liked that first thing, which was an insane type of ballad, kind of crazy, it’s called “Second to None”, and then, then they were supposed to license CREED’s Higher, and they were like “Let’s have Reardon do it. He sounds like CREED.” So then I wrote a song called “Higher Ground” and then uh, they produced it and they liked it, and they just kept taking more. We just won Sundance for best sports documentary. It actually has won, almost every film festival that it has entered. If it hasn’t won, it got second place; and only once it got third place. That’s out of like, seventy different film festivals worldwide right now.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s some heavy shit man. So when you write a song, does it go back to your sports roots?
MATT REARDON: With this guy, I know him, but… does Jack Johnson sing about surfing? No, he sings about life, you know, the trials and tribulations, and what you go through. And I knew what was going through his head, ‘cuz I’ve done some gnarly shit, but, nothing like what he did. Because what he did was gnarlier than Mt. Everest times ten. He did it with skis on his back, and he did some fuckin’ crazy shit. But umm, it’s one of those things where you just tap into your own energy, and what feels best.
AWAY-TEAM: You can put your energy into somebody else’s?
MATT REARDON: Oh Yeah, I’ve been submitting country music, lately. Because I like country. It came across my desk and somebody was like “Can you write a country song?” I was like, ‘of course I can’, I started out in Louisiana I grew up on Hank Williams Jr. It’s about real stuff, real things that are happening in life, not just some pissed off music, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: Growing up in Louisiana, how the HELL does a Louisiana boy end up becoming a world-class extreme skier?
MATT REARDON: (laughs) My aunt and uncle lived in Connecticut, and my dad was starting over, again for the second time in his life. He had his partner embezzle all his money, so me and my dad shared a room, shared a bed in my aunt’s house. I finished high school, he was getting back up on his feet; and my uncle took me to see a ski movie, I was like ‘I wanna do that, I’m gonna do that’. He took me skiing, and then I got hooked, and I bought a pass, and I was detailing cars for a living in high school, and bar backing. Got a job, and worked, worked, worked…didn’t get into the college of my choice, was trying to go to UVM, and then umm, I ended up getting a bar back job and joined the Killington Mogul Team. I trained in aerials…
AWAY-TEAM: What part of Connecticut?
MATT REARDON: I graduated from Avon High School.
AWAY-TEAM: Are you kidding me? I used to work in Avon all the time. I’m from Holyoke, MA!
MATT REARDON: Right on! (punches fist)
AWAY-TEAM: Matt, thanks for your time, and good luck. I know you’ll go far.
MATT REARDON: Thanks dude, I appreciate it.
From battling the forces of nature, to becoming a natural force in the rock ‘n’ roll world, Matt Reardon and BlackSunshine are ready to unleash an ass-kicking on our eardrums. Are you Ready??? For more information on BLACKSUNSHINE, Tour dates, music samples and details on how to pick up a copy of their debut album, head over to BlackSunshineBand.com.
AWAY-TEAM’S Jason Rybak with Matt Reardon.Special thanks to Matt for his time, Uncle Vern for making it all work, and to James at Kerosene Media for setting us up with this opportunity.
After recently seeing Black Sunshine play a tremendous five song set, I couldn’t help but anxiously await my copy of their self-titled debut disc. As my luck would have it, it came while I was on vacation, so unfortunately I had to wait a few more days to get my fix. Let me just say, it was well worth the wait. Singer Matt Reardon told me “We want our album to take you on a journey”, and the boys did not disappoint.
This Bob Marlette (Shinedown) produced journey begins with the hard-hitting apocalyptic anthem “Holy Gasoline” (in which drummer Matt “Toast” Young absolutely kills the double bass), and climbs higher through “Burn to Shine”, the first single “Once in My Life”, and finally reaches the summit that is “Slave”. From there, you begin your descent into the peaks and valleys of this journey, starting with the melodic rock ballad “Cannonball”. When you first hear “Cannonball”, you can’t help but think you’re listening to Creed, but Reardon quickly reminds you he’s no Christian rocker with the upbeat and debaucherous “Hell Yeah”. For all of you Scott Stapp haters out there, be advised that while Reardon’s voice does at times sound like Stapp’s, his delivery comes with a more gritty Dave Mustaine force, as is evident in “Flying Sideways”.
This up-and-down ride continues throughout the remainder of the eleven tracks on it’s way to directing your finger towards the “Repeat All” button. This album, which hits shelves this coming Tuesday May 25th, comes highly recommended.