Yes, you did read that right, 11 out of 10, we broke the scale on this one! The word triumvirate is often defined as a “rule of three”, in this case it’s “three that rule”. Guitarist and vocalist Ritchie Kotzen (Mr. Big/Poison), bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater/Avenged Sevenfold) have long been considered three of the finest at their respective crafts, so it’s no surprise that when their talents collide we are left with nothing less than an Album of the Year contender.
From the opening riff of “Elevate”, you realize that this is going to be one of those albums where one can’t help but “feel” the music. A blues rooted rocker with a hint of Nugent-meets-Wolfmother, this opening track is just a pre-cursor of what’s to come. From “Desire” to “The Other Side” to “Regret”, the entire album is riddled with screaming, yet soulful guitar, pulse-pounding drums, killer vocals, and bass lines that would make Geddy Lee blush!
With such a great collection of musical genius, it’s hard to pick a favorite. There are, however, some highlights that cannot go unmentioned. One such highlight is “The Other Side”, which begins with Portnoy’s drums launching into a finger bleeding bass line from Sheehan, climaxing with Kotzen’s guitar solo, at which point he releases inner Eddie Van Halen.
Kotzen then takes that same style and melds it into “One More Time”. Yet another reminder that these guys are a force to be reckoned with, this track bears hints of Eric Johnson meets Van Halen’s“Eruption”. On the track “Six Feet Deeper”Portnoy’s drumming channels the spirit of the late, great, John Bonham. “Damaged” and “Not Hopeless” are two more favorites of mine that highlight just how much Kotzen’s voice sounds like that of one of rock’s greatest voices, Chris Cornell.
Perhaps the coolest song on the album is “Time Machine”. This track has a conceptual feel to it, in that it begins sounding very much like a modern day Alice In Chains tune, and transforms as we travel time, into some good old fashioned 80’s guitar power rock! Last, but certainly not least, the album culminates with “Regret”; a true blues based rock track that summons the air guitar and serves as a reminder that “blues gave birth to rock ‘n roll”, making our only regret not pressing the “Repeat All” button.
Every album has one or two band members on it that truly stand out, but The Winery Dogs smash that theory to pieces with their debut album. If you love blues-based power rock, July 23rd should be like Christmas morning for audiophiles everywhere. Hands down, the best album of 2013!!!
What are you waiting for??? Click here to pre-order The Winery Dogs debut album, and find out when they’ll be coming to your town to blow your mind in person!
Upon first glance, Taddy Porter looks like just another young rock band ready to take on the world. While that may be true, there’s much more to this quartet from Oklahoma; I had gotten all of thirty seconds deep into Taddy Porter’sdebut offering when I realized this. In fact, I found it quite fitting that the band whose moniker is that of the “World’s Original Beer”, is about to serve the world it’s own original musical brew. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Taddy’sfront man, the aptly-named Andy Brewer, about their odyssey from college parties, to haunted hotels, to the creation of a new musical genre.
AWAY-TEAM: First off, Congratulations on your self-titled debut album which comes out on June 29th.
ANDY BREWER: Yeah. Thanks.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys formed in Stillwater, Oklahoma…
ANDY BREWER: Correct.
AWAY-TEAM: How did you all get together?
ANDY BREWER: Uh, well actually, I was attending Oklahoma State University at the time, and uh, I happened to walk into a party one night and I heard live drumming going on at this party. And I didn’t immediately walk into the room with the drums at first, but after a few drinks I gathered enough gumption to walk into the room. And uh, I had been like playing, ya know, and writing my own songs at the time, and so I just walked into this room and my drummer now pointed at me and he goes “Do you play?”, and I was like “Yes I do” and I picked up one of the guitars that had been laying around the room and started playing one of the songs that I had written. We like meshed together real well at first, went together real well, ever since then we’ve been a band ever since.
AWAY-TEAM: Awesome. So your guys’ name, I’m sure you get this a lot, but uh, the world’s first beer? Is that correct?
ANDY BREWER: That’s correct, yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: How’d you come up with that name?
ANDY BREWER: Well uh, we were looking for names, like trying to come up with cool names. None of them which went over very well, we came up with some horrible names like “Honey Drip” and umm “Red Giants” and “Scissortail” (laughing). Just many, many of these really bad names, but uh, me and Doug (drummer Doug Jones) were at a bar just kind of going over names, and I went up to the bar and looked at the import fridge and I was going through them by price, because I was broke, I’m pretty much still broke (laughs), but uh I saw one that was $8.50 a bottle and I was just blown away that one beer could cost $8.50. So I went from price, over to the name and it was Taddy Porter, and it sounded like somebody’s name to me, and how it came about was the brand name was Tadcaster and the nickname given to it wasTaddyPorter. And uh, thinking about it, it was like you know how like Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds like someone’s name, and just thinking about these bands where it’s two names that sound like a first name and a last name. And it sounded kind of like a sophisticated beer, so I was like, what we played was like kind of like a southern jam, ya know, and I don’t know I just kinda felt like it had matched what we were playing. So that’s how it happened.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. After hearing the album, it’s funny you mention Lynyrd Skynyrd because I kind of get a little bit of that sound with you, but uh, I’ve heard it and I absolutely love it. It has a pretty unique sound for a young rock band in this day and age, which in my opinion kicks ass, but… is your sound more of a product of your musical influences, or not wanting to be just another cookie-cutter rock band?
ANDY BREWER: See, it’s a mixture of those. Because, ya know growing up we uh, I had been listening to my father’s rock n’ roll music and I loved it. I knew at an early age that I could mimic older rock singers like Paul Rodgers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and stuff like that. So when it came to making our own music, that just sort of came naturally. And ya know, I mean I love all the rock bands they’re all great, but I just didn’t want to be another one of those bands where they’re like “OK, well Taddy Porter, they sound like this band…” that’s like what’s on the radio right now. I didn’t want to be one of those bands, because then you know you get like lumped into a category and that’s as far as you go. So whenever it came to us making our sound, we felt it should be an eclectic mix of modern rock and classic rock. Some bands have started doing that like Wolfmother and The Black Keys seem to be like playing an older style of music, but they’re playing it right now with their own modern spin on it, and that’s kind of like what we want to do.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m glad you said that because you’ve enlightened me a little bit, because I’ve kinda had a hard time describing your music; other than just blues mixed in with good ole’ southern rock n’ roll. For our readers out there who aren’t familiar with your music, how would you describe your music?
ANDY BREWER: Umm, I can’t say hard rock, and I can’t say classic rock, we kinda came up with a little idea, we call it “Swagger Rock”. It’s kind of like a cool, like I didn’t want to call it “Jam Rock” or like “Guitar Rock” or something like that. So I would just say it’s kinda like a southern jam rock, yeah I don’t even know how to explain it really, but “Swagger Rock” is usually the term I use when people ask.
AWAY-TEAM: Well there you go, you just coined it here…“Swagger Rock” (laughs)
ANDY BREWER: (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: How was it working with Skidd Mills, who also produced your former tour-mates Saving Abel, how’d that work out?
ANDY BREWER: He’s great man. He uh, we have the same manager as Saving Abel, and that’s how we got hooked up with Skidd. When ever we went in there we weren’t really familiar with working with a producer and things of that nature, it’s kind of funny because the first like co-write experience we went in and we wrote “Shake Me”, that was the first song, we were in there for eight hours and we wrote and tracked all of “Shake Me”, and it was weird to me that it could happen so fast, to write that type of song so fast. But uh, Skidd is great, he’s got a great ear, he knows what he’s doing, he’s been doing it for years, and uh, he’s just a great guy.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, that single, “Shake Me” has sort of become a staple around Citifield in New York. Tell me about that.
ANDY BREWER: Yeah, it’s uh, my father is a pitching coach in the Mets organization, and like every summer when I was growing up, I would go out where my dad was and work at the stadium, just to spend a little time with my dad. It was 2006, I think, and I went down there and I got to meet Mike Pelfrey and he was making his way up through the minor league system, and I got to know him, he got to know me, and so with the big league guys pretty much everyone’s got intro music…
ANDY BREWER: …and as he was going to pick his, he was hanging around my dad, and Mike Pelfrey was trying to figure things out, and John Maine, who’s another starting pitcher for the Mets said “Well how ’bout you use Brew’s son’s music”, Brew’s what they call my dad ‘cuz his last name’s Brewer. So he listened to it and was like “Yeah, man. I want that song”, so he picked “Shake Me”. It’s crazy to think that whenever he goes out to pitch or hit, “Shake Me” gets played all throughout Citifield. I haven’t had the chance to make it out yet to hear that, but I mean, it sounds so huge in those giant baseball stadiums. I gotta make it to a game sometime when he’s pitching to hear that, it’ll probably give me goosebumps, being the singer and what-not.
AWAY-TEAM: Hell of an audience to have that played for. (laughs)
ANDY BREWER: That’s for sure!
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have got a few big shows coming up, I see you’re playing “Rock on the Range”, with alot of other great bands. Who do you most look forward to sharing the bill with there?
ANDY BREWER: Uh, man I can’t uh, Limp Bizkit probably. I just wanna see that guy play, it’s been such a while since they’ve been touring and I just want to see the production. I heard they would breakdance on stage, and I think that would just be a sight to see. But uh, Chevelle, I’d like to see Chevelle, I think they’re playing it, and the Deftones, I’ve seen them a couple times and they’ve always been amazing live. But all the bands are great.
AWAY-TEAM: You also were on the “Class of ’09” tour with Saving Abel, Red, and Pop Evil. Any good stories from the road there?
ANDY BREWER: Man, we had a lot of good times, we had a chance to be on the road with them during Thanksgiving, and we were at, I wanna say it was, shit I don’t remember, but the hotel was supposed to be haunted and so it was funny because some of the guys in Saving Abel are superstitious, so they were like “I can’t stay here” (laughs) because they freaked out about it and I was like “C’mon guys, nothing’s gonna happen to you” But, we got to know Saving Abel and Red pretty well, and us being the opening band, they were very welcoming to us. We partied, we learned, we learned how to be professional, and how to work because ya know they had like tour managers and everything and they have a set schedule and if you’re not on that schedule you’re gonna get bitched at. So we learned that when your on a schedule, you have to be prompt, you can’t just go wander off and do whatever, you have to be ready for what’s going on. So we learned how to be professional, and it was very easy for us to have a great time because they’re all just great guys.
AWAY-TEAM: A couple of the songs on your album, weren’t originally on there. How did the addition of those come about?
ANDY BREWER: When ever we started to put together everything, we went to Nashville and we were doing some co-writes, and we were also writing more and more of our own songs. And as the time came about we started writing more with Skidd and some of these writers, and alot of the songs we did with the co-writers we didn’t even use, but some of them we did add to the album.
AWAY-TEAM: Well I’ll tell you what Andy, you guys put together a hell of an album, and I wish you the best of luck, thank you for your time; I know it’s only a matter of time before you guys are household names.
ANDY BREWER: I hope so! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Keep at it man, best of luck to you, and I look forward to seeing you come to Florida sometime in the near future.
ANDY BREWER: Hell yeah, man, I’m looking forward to it too. The south is always the best.
AWAY-TEAM: Right on, man. Well hey, next time your in town, I hope to meet you and talk some more.
ANDY BREWER: Yeah man, I got your phone number I’ll give you a call.
AWAY-TEAM: Sounds good. Thanks bro. Take it easy.
ANDY BREWER: Take it easy. Bye.
Be sure to pick up Taddy Porter’s self-titled debut album, when it hits shelves June 29th (you may have to look in the new “Swagger Rock” section). This album is very highly recommended. For more info on tour dates and where to pick up the album head over to http://www.myspace.com/taddyportermusic
Special thanks to Andy Brewer for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.