Tag: Century Media
Metal Club and Century Media would like to invite you to join LACUNA COIL on Tue, January 24th at 7PM (EST) for a special acoustic performance at New Jersey’s VINTAGE VINYL.
Just pick up your copy of the band’s new album ‘Dark Adrenaline’ at any participating Metal Club store and you’ll gain access to a very special acoustic performance from LACUNA COIL along with a special Q&A segment to follow the performance.
Once you’ve purchased ‘Dark Adrenaline’ you’ll just need to log on to the special site we’ve created for this event and enter in your code (both of which you’ll receive with purchase). Click on the green ‘Buy Ticket’ button and you’ll be entered into the ‘room’ for free. The performance will start at 7PM EST (4PM PST) on Tue, Jan. 24th and will last for 30 minutes followed by a short Q&A session.
Go to www.mymetalclub.com to find a store near you!
For more LACUNA COIL click here.
As one of the very first Swedish death metal bands, the now classic GRAVE has inspired countless metal acts to deliver unrelenting death metal to the masses. While others have fallen victim to the latest music trends, they’ve persevered the metal ages by remaining true to their roots since their humble beginnings in 1988. They truly are the MOTORHEAD of death metal-GRAVE has never broken-up, reunited, or deviated from their same, classic sound!
To celebrate the longevity of their career and the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Into The Grave“, GRAVE will be touring North America this August and September. In regards to their upcoming tour, vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren comments:
“We are really psyched to get over to the states and Canada again after 5 years of absence. It’s great to be back on the Century Media train again and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Into the Grave’ with another visit to North America. During the summer festivals here in Europe, we set out to play the entire first album from start to finish in the order that the songs are on the album. It turned out to be extremely well received from our fans, so we decided to bring the concept on the road for this upcoming tour. Since we are headlining, there will be more material than just the ‘Into’ album of course. So be there or be square…C y’all!”
BLOOD RED THRONE, PATHOLOGY, and GIGAN will also join GRAVE on their North American trek, so be sure to catch this epic death metal show at a city near you!
GRAVE North American Tour 2011 with BLOOD RED THRONE, PATHOLOGY, GIGAN
8/30–Tampa, FL @ Brass Mug
8/31–Raleigh, NC @ Volume 11
9/1–Charlotte, NC @ The Casbah
9/2–Trenton, NJ @ Championship Bar and Grill
9/3–New York, NY @ The Gramercy Theatre
9/4–Montreal, QUE @ Petit Campus
9/5–Toronto, ONT @ Mod Club
9/6–Buffalo, NY @ Broadway Joe’s
9/7–Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s
9/8–Detroit, MI @ Blondie’s
9/9–Chicago, IL @ Reggie Rock Club
9/10–St Paul, MN @ Station 4
9/11–Winnipeg, MB @ The Osbourne Village Inn
9/12–Regina, SK @ The Exchange
9/13–Calgary, AL @ Dickens
9/14–Edmonton, AL @ Pawn Shop
9/15–Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore
9/16–Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
9/17–Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
9/18–San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
9/19–Los Angeles, CA @ Key Club
9/20–Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
9/21–Las Vegas, NV @ Area 702 Skatepark
9/22–Tempe, AZ @ Clubhouse
For more GRAVE click here.
Interview: MACHINE HEAD’s Dave McClain – From Gaga to Dub Step to the heaviest fucking metal Machine Head has made
Away-Team: I’m sitting backstage at Mayhem Fest with Dave McClain from the Bay Area’s Machine Head. Thanks Dave for your patience while we navigated through the ridiculousness that was the venue trying to get the gates open an hour late. Let’s just get right into it shall we?
Dave McClain: Absolutely man, no problem.
Away-Team: Machine Head released The Blackening in 2007 to critical praise. To many, myself included it was the album of the year, and again for myself it was the best album Machine Head has ever put out.
Dave McClain: Awesome, wow! Thank you.
Away-Team: There was a ton of press overseas that embraced you and the album and sang the praise of Machine Head and The Blackening. While the US press didn’t seem to even acknowledge Machine Head even existed. It seemed to me that you guys couldn’t even get arrested here. What is it about Europe and their fans that seem to embrace metal so openly and fully, and yet the states can seem to be bothered with it? What I’m asking is… Is it the fans that feed the media over there or the media embracing the music and opening up the fans to it?
Dave McClain: It’s something you really can’t put your finger on here. You go anywhere else in the world and it’s the same mentality as when we were all kids getting into metal. When I started getting into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal back then… I think it’s the same thing here now, it’s a sub culture a community of misfits that latched on to this type of music and to this day around the world people simply live for this music. There are so many different things going on in the States to take your time and attention. It is so big over here territory wise that it’s harder to get to everyone or get everyone together for larger shows. Where Germany is the size of Texas and we can spend a week just in Germany hitting thousands and thousands of people, where in Texas there is a lot of empty space between towns and we’re playing to hundreds of people instead. There are so many types of music pushed here in the states and so many of those avenues don’t promote metal, I think Revolver is pretty much the only US magazine that promotes metal. And they are warming up to Machine Head now which is cool. There definitely was a while there in the US before The Blackening even where we couldn’t get any attention at all. We were sitting there like, ‘come on man, we’re right here!’ and they were just, ‘No thanks we’re going to go cover hip hop’ or whatever. So now, Through The Ashes was the record that finally kicked the door in a little and got our foot in. And The Blackening was the one that re-established us. It is getting better here; we are definitely NOT giving up on the US. We’ve never been that band in the US that’s just exploded! It’s always just been a fight for us, and that’s cool to us. Back in the day when gold records mattered we’d still be playing the same size venues as bands that had gold records. But it is coming around again now. Thank god for festivals like this. That are really band friendly and people like John Reese the guy that puts this thing on (John Reese is co-creator of Rockstar Mayhem Fest) loves metal, he tours with the festival, gets the bands together and has theme parties during the tour for the bands. It’s very cool to have the organizer be that involved with the tour and with the bands on that level. And then today with the internet the way it is, any interview you do can go anywhere, be read or heard anywhere in the world now. So that helps a lot in getting the word out about Machine Head.
Away-Team: So to you what is the main difference between US festivals like Mayhem and the European Festivals?
Dave McClain: Well mainly the festivals over there are just like for a weekend, where these are tours. It’s a lot of camping out over there, tent cities and stuff. They’re like the super die hards there. You’ve got some popping up here now like that, like Bonnaroo and Coachella. It’s really just a matter of time I hope before you see Metallica do like a Sonisphere over here you know? Just have a two day festival and do four or five of them around the country. And over there the festivals are pretty diverse music style wise.
Away-Team: You get a little bit of everything in a two day festival there. More of a “Lollapalooza” feel over there.
Dave McClain: Right, exactly. And this, while it is a tour, it’s different. Because for us, well, for the side stage bands, that’s the crowds we’re used to, the kids are flying around, the dirt is flying around, and everything is going crazy. Then you come over here to the main stage and you’re playing to a lot of people that don’t even get here till six o’clock and could give a shit about Machine Head or even Megadeth or Trivium. They’re just here for Godsmack or just Disturbed.
Away-Team: Those would be the people telling me to sit down and shut up as I’m trying to enjoy the show and your set.
Dave McClain: Right! Right. And we’re trying to win them over. And it is a great feeling really, because it’s just as good as having your crowd on the other stages in front of you, as having a new crowd being won over as they start to stand in their seats as our set goes on. We and Trivium have been doing this… and some days you come off the main stage and you’re just like ‘Fuck, man, those people could just give a shit about us.’ But then the days you do win them over, it is like the best feeling in the world.
Away-Team: You are getting ready to release Unto The Locust next month (out September 27th!!!), what can we expect from the new stuff? Is it a progression from The Blackening? Is it a foray into a new Machine Head sound? Have you finally gone Dub Step to get on the radio?
Dave McClain: (laughs), Yeah! That’s it! Really, we just definitely challenged ourselves going into it. We were in no way going to make The Blackening II. From Through The Ashes Of Empires to The Blackening to now, there are the same feelings going on and we’re just pushing them further. The main difference is that we now have total musical freedom; no one is looking over our shoulder. Roadrunner is just like, ‘Just give us the record and we’ll run with it.’ We’ve tried to challenge ourselves as musicians. The first song we wrote called This Is The End, Robb and I got together one day after everyone had taken a couple months off and he’s like, ‘It’s not complete yet, but I’ve got this song here…’ and he goes into this classical guitar thing that he couldn’t really play that well yet because he’d just gotten into the classical guitar thing. Then the song just goes into this super blast beat thrashy thing and we were just, ‘FUCK! It’s the first song and it is already a super hard one to play!’ And that just set the tone for the whole album writing process. On this new album we have the hardest, fastest, most brutal stuff we’ve done. And then we have the song Locust which is middle of the road, like almost a rock song for us with groovin’ beats, it’s just really weird. We’ve got some super dark stuff on there and then some mellow stuff that gets heavier, but over all just super dark theme wise. Robb Flynn went up to New York and started taking classical guitar lessons from this guy at the same time he was taking vocal lessons from Lady Gaga’s vocal coach. It’s all just us trying to push ourselves into a new place.
Away-Team: According to your bio, you are originally from Germany, yet speaking to you, you have no accent.
Dave McClain: Well I was born there; my dad was in the military…
Away-Team: Ah, that explains that…
Dave McClain: Yes, I am not a German. (laughs)
Away-Team: So how did you end up in the Bay Area and in Machine Head?
Dave McClain: I joined Machine Head in the end of 95 and I moved there in January of 96.
Away-Team: I know Machine Head went through something like 3 drummers in one year…
Dave McClain: Yeah, by the time I got to them they were pretty sick of drummers!
Away-Team: They were through playing Spinal Tap?
Dave McClain: Totally! But instead of their drummers dying there were just… ah, never mind, I’m not going there…
Away-Team: Ok, moving on!
Dave McClain: Yeah, moving on (laughs), so I was in a band called Sacred Reich out of Phoenix,
Away-Team: Yes, I am very familiar with Sacred Reich!
Dave McClain: Awesome! So a mutual friend of ours, who worked for Century Media at the time, knew they were looking, so he was helping them find a drummer, and he called Igor from Sepultura who also lived in Phoenix at the time. Igor was like, ‘Call Dave man.’ So Robb called me and at first I said no thanks, I was going to stick it out with Sacred Reich. That day I was laying in my bed and I was like, ‘What am I doing?!?’ Don’t get me wrong, I love Sacred Reich, but they were notoriously kind of lazy, and talking to Robb and only hearing Burn My Eyes once or twice… Just talking to Robb and hearing his passion and determination I was like, ‘What am I doing? These guys are where I’m at we’re like on the same wave length here.’ So I called Robb back and I’m like, ‘Hey man, I thought about it and I really want to do this!’ So he said to come in and audition. So I went out and auditioned, we played the whole Burn My Eyes record a few times and I could tell they were really into it, we were jamming really good. Then they kind of left me hanging as they went through the audition process for another week or so. And they called me up and told me to move out.
Away-Team: You were out on the road with Metallica for like a year, year and a half off and on. What are the pros and cons of supporting the biggest metal band in the world?
Dave McClain: There were definitely way more highs than lows on that tour. When they first asked us we had to tell them no! We’d already committed to doing the Slipknot tour over in Europe. They said, ‘That’s cool, we totally respect that, we’ll be touring for a while so we’ll work something out.’ Then they offered us all these dates and…
Away-Team: Yes, you were basically on the second leg of the Death Magnetic Tour correct?
Dave McClain: Yes, we did the US, Europe and then other countries like Poland and a bunch of little weird countries too. And with them being the not just the biggest metal bands, but being one of the biggest bands on the planet… the way they treat bands is fucking amazing! They are at the point where they just take bands out that they want to take. I mean they didn’t need us. They didn’t need The Sword, or Lamb Of God, they didn’t need Mastodon, but they WANTED us and them. They just take really good care of everyone. Like once a week they’ll take the bands out to a restaurant and just hang, and eat and drink. They took us on their jet for a show and, just made sure we were taken care of while we were out with them. The one thing about opening for them is that everyone in that crowd is there for them. Metallica didn’t need us to open, and the crowd didn’t fucking care that we were there (laughs)!
Away-Team: I can totally see that here in the states than Europe because they tend to be much more open minded musically there…
Dave McClain: Yeah, but still you get the Metallica die hards that follow, literally follows them around, go to multiple shows and it was hard. We were on the stage in the round and all the people on the floor are like fan club people and die hard Metallica fans, just rabid fans and you end up playing to the people way up in the stands that are actually into you. And you have those same nights where you’re, ‘Fuck man, we just couldn’t get it going tonight!’ It’s just very frustrating, then other times you have the crowd and it’s just killer. You don’t have them like Metallica has them, but you have a part of them. Probably THE best show we did on that whole thing was in Paris and it was like that was our crowd, everyone in the crowd was into us and they were all singing along like it was our own show, our own crowd.
Away-Team: Is that the show that Metallica released a DVD of?
Dave McClain: No, this was a different show. As amazing as that set was for us, when Metallica came on it was like being on a movie set and the director is like, ‘I want everyone to act as crazy as you have ever been!’ and yells action as they take the stage (laughs).
Away-Team: 2002 was a rough year for you guys; you had just released Supercharger and a video a few weeks after September 11th, 2001 that depicted falling buildings. It seemed everyone even your label stood against you and pulled the plug on the band. You negotiated out of your contract with Roadrunner. How close where you guys in the band to pulling your own plug?
Dave McClain: We were real close man. It was a super bad time and we were just so pissed off about everything that had happened. We weren’t working the record and we just felt like we were at an end, with Roadrunner and with the band. But after Roadrunner, we went out to test the waters with other people that had always been there for the band in the past, ‘you know, anytime you need anything, we’re here for you.’ Well we needed something, and nobody was there for us. They all disappeared. ‘Well we’re here now, you know?’ ‘Oh, yeah, well… ya know? Um…. ‘
Away-Team: ‘Had you come to us six months ago…’
Dave McClain: Right! ‘Who’s this? Prank call! Prank call!’ (laughs) I told our guitarist at the time, to basically leave the band. He was wanting to do a side project, and having us stick around funding his side project so I was like, run, go, do it, get out. It was bleak man. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to do it anymore; it was that we had no avenues TO do it anymore. So we started writing a couple of songs. Just trying to do something. And it was pure shit. It was bad. And it WAS fucking shit, and it felt horrible. We had a band meeting and I told the guys, ‘You know this fucking sucks. This is shit; this isn’t why I play music. And if we’re a heavy metal band, and we’re going to write an album. Let’s write the heaviest shit man. Let’s just write for ourselves. Let’s just take all this and put it into writing.‘ And that became Through The Ashes…
Away-Team: Which explains all the piss and venom in it…
Dave McClain: Yeah! It was definitely an angry and a dark record but Roadrunner UK never wanted to let us go, and they were still there quietly supporting us, and it turned out to be a great thing, it turned out to be more of a licensing thing for us which at the time was great. We were about to sign a deal with an American label for the US and Roadrunner US came up and came to us and said, ‘We want to be a part of this again!’ It made us all real happy, because it was a clean slate at that point.
Away-Team: Well at that point, with that album in the can ready to go, you kind of have them over a barrel, and you can say, ‘Well you want us? Here’s what it is going to take to get us back!’
Dave McClain: Yeah, but more than that, there were people there genuinely behind us again. There were people that cared about us and about the band. For us we never wanted to leave in the first place, we just wanted things to be right you know? And since then everything has been great. Not that we don’t go back and forth with Roadrunner on some things, but its constructive, it’s a good thing.
Away-Team: Great! So once Mayhem is done, what does Machine Head have on its plate? You’ve got Unto The Locust coming out in September, what are the current tour plans for that?
Dave McClain: We’ve got a month off after Mayhem. We headline the Soundwave Revolution metal stage.
Dave McClain: Yeah, it is. It’ll be awesome, and we’ll get to see Van Halen! (laughs) We’re just as excited about seeing them play every day as we are to headline the metal stage! Then we’re doing our first headline run of South America since I’ve been in the band. We’ve got Sepultura there for the shows which is awesome. And then a headlining run of Europe with Bring Me The Horizon, DevilDriver, and Darkest Hour. First quarter of next year our main priority is doing a headline run here in the states.
Away-Team: You guys are definitely due.
Dave McClain: Yes, it’s been over four years we are so ready for it.
Away-Team: Well congratulations, and good luck on the new album, I can’t wait to hear it! And hopefully we’ll get to see you in 2012 in a theater or large venue around here soon! Thanks again Dave!
Dave McClain: Thanks! See you soon!
There is a long list of people to thank for making this and all of our Mayhem Fest interviews happen, so, forgive me if I forgot anyone, but thanks to Lilly at Roadrunner, Bill at eOne Music, Rikki, Natalie, and Jessica at Adrenaline, and Laura Jean with Mayhem.
IN FLAMES are gearing up to release ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading‘ next month and now we have the first sample of new music from the album available. Beginning today, IN FLAMES have released the first single “Deliver Us” online for purchase. Fans can purchase from iTunes, AmazonMP3 or anywhere you buy music online.
After downloading the single, show your support by adding an IN FLAMES badge to your twitter/facebook profile picture:
“Deliver Us” is the first single from their latest album and marks the band’s Century Media debut since signing to the indie powerhouse label earlier this year. The band produced the effort with Roberto Laghi inside their own IF Studios in Sweden. ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading‘ is most certainly one of the most anticipated albums in recent memory and sees the band at their strongest in years.
IN FLAMES will also soon be landing on American soil to set the summer ablaze as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival alongside heavyweights such as Disturbed, Godsmack, Megadeth, Machine Head, Suicide Silence and more.
For more IN FLAMES click here.
When we last left our Hero, Mr. Altier was chomping at the bit to get out of the house and go catch his Dolphins playing. But we had just gotten to the meat of the interview. We had discussed why Slider left Brand New Sin and we were delving into his reasons for leaving/getting kicked out. And hell, we’re 30 minutes into the interview and haven’t even really talked about the new band ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN, so here you go… (If you haven’t read the first half of our interview with ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s frontman and former Brand New Sin frontman, click here.)
AWAY-TEAM: And that was when about the time you were on your way out (leaving/getting kicked out of Brand New Sin)?
Joe Altier: Yeah, yeah, pretty much. You know it was in ’07. It was after the Tequila (BNS’s third album) cycle had ended I think we started speaking a little bit before that, we didn’t really start striking our friendship (Joe and Slider BNS and ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s guitarist) back up again until that time. I didn’t really know what the hell I was going to do. I didn’t realize I was going to end up leaving Brand New Sin. I didn’t think I was leaving Brand New Sin right up until the moment of the night I walked into that room and left. In the back of my mind, how hindsight tells me, yeah there was a lot of things that was showing me that I definitely didn’t want to be in that band anymore. But I didn’t think I was not going to be in that band until January 8th of ’08. I said ok now I’m leaving after the conversation that we had that night, the argument, and the yelling at each other, and realizing that I wasn’t happy there. And they weren’t happy, so I was, ‘If you guys have a better vision of where you’re going and you’ve got plans and I’m holding you back,’ Because that’s basically what I was told was that I was holding the band back then, and I wanted time off. I had suggested time off for everybody, I think we all needed to get our heads on fucking straight you know? I have a drinking problem and a slight drug problem and we’re all broke and my father just fucking died and my life is completely upside down I need some time off! And that’s what I asked the band. I asked the band for an indefinite amount of time off, I said we can still get together and write but I don’t want to be gigging. I don’t want to be running forward, we don’t have a record label or have any tours, what’s the fucking hurry? Why don’t we just take some fucking time off? And they didn’t feel that way. They felt that they needed to move forward at a hundred miles an hour and I’m like alright well then, ‘good luck to ya! See ya later; I’m fucking out of here!’ For me to get accused of being selfish and being the one that’s holding the band back from success then you know if you really think so then I will leave. For a long time I didn’t really speak about that cuz I didn’t want to live…the emotions were very raw and I didn’t want to bad mouth anybody. But it got to a point where I was just like, ‘Now I’m ready to talk about it!’ I don’t really give a shit what they think because they’re going to have their opinions too, but I’m telling you pretty much word for word what happened in that meeting. And I told them….I started getting a laundry list of things being told to me that what I did over there, ‘on this tour you did this, and you chose to do this over that, and one of them was you chose to work a piano gig making money other than going to open up for Drowning Pool!’ And I’m just like we never got offered a Drowning Pool show so I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. ‘Well they played it in Watertown and we had an offer’ I’m like we never had an offer, if we had an offer I might have gone through with it. And on top of that until fucking Brand New Sin can fucking pay my goddamn cell phone bill and my bills then I need to take some work over some gig sometimes I’m sorry! They called me selfish, and they said that I wasn’t in for the business, and yadda yadda yadda. It was a personal attack on me at first. In my mind I was like how dare you?!?! Man, my fucking father… I just found my father fucking dead like 2 months ago and you guys are going to fucking start getting on me about this? Fuck you! Especially when two guys in the band had already fucking lost their fathers as well so they know. Then when they started accusing me of shit, I wanted to be like alright well if you want to start making a laundry list let’s start going around the room… Ok Chris (Weichmann) let me make a list, how many times you did this, how many times did you throw a temper tantrum and not fucking do something on stage? Kevin Dean How ‘bout this? How ‘bout Chuck Kahl falling over? You know I mean we could sit here and do a laundry list of things that everyone else did too you know? But at the end of the day I finally am like I’m not going to sit here and do this. Obviously you guys have a plan; obviously you want me to go, so I’m leaving. And I think 3 years later the position that I’m in compared to the position they’re in speaks volumes of what…of what’s really happened.
Joe Altier: I think we are you know?
AWAY-TEAM: Are you?
Joe Altier: We talk to each other when we see each other but we’re not calling each other up ‘hey man you know wanna go hang out?’ Nah we don’t do that anymore. When we see each other we talk and we’re friendly and cordial to each other but I mean after everything we went through it’s like almost like being in a war. You know in Vietnam with somebody and then not talk to somebody but you still have a connection because you went through some pretty fucked up shit together and had that bond. But we’re friendly. Me and Kenny Dunham actually talk more than I do with anybody else in that band but Kenny’s removed from that band as well so you know I talk to him, and I mean I’m still in contact with everybody. On some levels I got to do some business shit that still involves those guys. There’s still checks that come from Century Media once in awhile so we have to speak, but you know I’ve never seen them play since I left the band, and I really got no interest to be honest with you. It’s no offense to them I just got no interest. I think if they were called fucking John Brown’s Toe or whatever I would go and be a huge fan but that’s not Brand New Sin to me.
AWAY-TEAM: Well you and I had talked about it a little bit prior to this, about how they’re not bad. I went and saw them when they were here in town and it’s not Brand New Sin. And I wish them much luck and the stuff they were doing, the new stuff for what it was, was good. But it’s not Brand New Sin. At some point you know you went from God Below to Brand New Sin because you made this major change (music style and vocalist change). Well you just had another major change your style is different, your singing is different, your singer is different, and you don’t have a Joe wannabe after Joe left so you probably shouldn’t be the same name.
Joe Altier: Right. I think that’s just them, I mean I really think that some people in that band think that they should keep riding on those things, but the true fans are… I mean there’s some fans that have stuck by and there’s always going to be fans. There’s fans from Anthrax that are still fans of John Bush and Joey Belladonna and they’re fans of both but you know there’s COC changed a million times you know from their sound and stuff like that. I really think that honestly if you wanted to ask me what my biggest guess was for why they stuck with it is because they fucking… Chris was like ‘well you know COC changed from a punk band to a punky rock band to a fucking rock band and changed singers along the way why can’t we do the same thing?’ Whatever, I mean they can call the band whatever they want.
Joe Altier: Yeah, absolutely. But you can’t drastically change the sound of a band and expect the fans to be there. I mean I think Elephant Mountain sounds more like Brand New Sin than Brand New Sin sounds like Brand New Sin. And I’m not really trying! I think really Elephant Mountain doesn’t sound like Brand New Sin but it sounds more like Brand New Sin than Brand New Sin does today I should say.
AWAY-TEAM: Fair enough that would be more accurate.
Joe Altier: It’s cool, I don’t wish any ill will on them, and I hope that things turn around for them and stuff like that. But I see where things are going and it’s just, if that’s what’s making them happy then fucking so be it. I know I’m happy on my end and as long as they’re happy on their end and my opinion doesn’t matter you know at the end of the day.
AWAY-TEAM: So you guys went through a lot of label shit throughout that time and looking back on it now, how much do you think that actually hampered you guys and added to the stress and the issues? And how do you think it could have been avoided or could it have been avoided?
Joe Altier: You know I think it hampered quite a bit. I mean we got in and we’re pretty much playing the game, we played the fucking game! When you’re in there and you gotta play the game you gotta play by some certain rules, and some people in the band didn’t want to play by those rules. We had labels telling us different things, we wanted to call certain things, we wanted to call the record The Tequila Record, they wanted to call it Tequila. We’re like, ‘No it’s The fucking Tequila Record!’ They’re like, ‘No, Tequila!’. So it’s things like that that happen to every band and the changes between labels and the lull between the first record and the second record I really think contributed to Slider being kicked out. I think if we had if Now or Never (BNS’ first label) stayed intact or if we immediately went to Century Media (BNS’ third label) instead of going to somewhere else, cuz we had the offer to go to Century Media right away, I think Slider would have weathered that. Obviously without getting further or going through more examples it absolutely did hinder us because that lull between the two albums we lost a member and it sent us on that path that we were on, and it changed things. I just think that… I wish… I don’t wish we could change anything else because there wasn’t anything we could do. I mean everything that I got now I’m learning not to do you know? We made a lot of mistakes along the way on the way we handled our band and I think we entrusted other people to do things. Not that those people weren’t competent, I think we should just have been more involved and more educated on what we were doing, and maybe not so fucking drunk all the time how’s that sound? You know, I mean it’s cool to play rockstar and get drunk and stupid BUT…
AWAY-TEAM: Well you know I was talking to Brian Fair from Shadows Fall about that and musicians are musicians for a reason. A) They’ve got talent. B) because of that talent and because of the time spent in the garage or in the bedroom practicing they didn’t study a lot in school, they’re not necessarily you know rocket scientists and they don’t study business and they never had to although maybe even as far back as the 70s they probably should have. But that’s why you have managers and accountants and agents and shit because they’re the ones that are hopefully working for you. But today starting out because you don’t have the big machine that you used to churning out these bands, labels etcetera… as a band you have to do everything! You have to be your own manager, you have to be your own accountant, you have to know how to read a contract and know what it means and fight and negotiate for what you feel you need to get out of it, and you haven’t had to do that in the past.
Joe Altier: And that’s really where I’m at now, it’s like these kids nowadays are going to have to educate themselves and not just going to be a guitar player. They’re going to have to learn how to do accounting for their band, they’re going to have to learn how to talk to merchandise companies, they’re going to become… you’re going to have a graphic designer in the band, you’re going to have someone who can engineer your record, you’re going to have a lot of things. You’re going to become a multi-faceted person, that’s how you’re going to become successful. And we don’t come from that, we just missed it by two years and we’re still learning and Shadows Fall are doing it themselves now.
AWAY-TEAM: Yes a hundred percent.
Joe Altier: I went and saw them and visited with them when they were in town and they’re old friends of mine, and it was really cool, but it was funny to watch them now than it was 6 or 7 years ago. They’re still out and they’re back out selling their own merch they’re taking turns ‘hey Matt it’s your turn to be at the merch table.’ Somebody’s taking care of merch, someone’s doing this and someone’s doing that. I mean they still have a guitar tech and they still got a tour manager and stuff like that but they’re a business now and they act that way because they know if we want to make it that’s what we have to do.
AWAY-TEAM: And it’s not so much even about making it, it’s about protecting yourself. You know it’s not about becoming the next Metallica. It’s like you said, it’s about paying my goddamn cell bill, it’s about making sure that at the end of the day we have something to show for this other than some kick ass music. We still have to pay bills, if you are smart enough to be able to control your band then you can do it, but unfortunately you are the one that has to do it now.
Joe Altier: Yeah you know and that’s really what I kind of did the past two and half years educating myself. I got away from the business, and I kinda fell back in love with music and playing covers and found myself again and figured out what I wanted to do. I don’t have to sell, I mean do I want to sell a million records, fuck yeah that’d be cool! But if I could sell 20,000 records of my solo record 20,000 records of Elephant Mountain and do it on my own, play some shows here and there, I’ll make a good living. I’m making a good living now and I’m not even selling 20,000 records. And I’m investing my own money so I don’t have anybody to yell at other than myself if something doesn’t work. I don’t go to the label, ‘Oh my god you motherfucker! You cut me off from tour support! You did this you did that.’ I use Just Joe… Just Joe playing covers is how I fund my record label Just Joe. It’s a help fund as part of the funding of Elephant Mountain. I help with that, it’s completely how I fund my solo shit. So you know some people like ‘well you know don’t you want to…’ I don’t want to play covers but it’s how I fund things because it’s easy, because I get to go play for 3 or 4 hours and I have another 20-21 more hours in the day to do my other shit….for now. It’s not where I’m going to be 4 or 5 years from now playing piano bars.
Joe Altier: I don’t mind it and if that’s really where my life ends up and I just end up selling a couple thousand records and I’m still traveling around the United States playing in piano bars and playing it, that isn’t even so bad. That ain’t even a bad backup plan in my mind. So I think I’ve set myself up for a really good life in this business whether it’s gonna be all originals or small covers or more covers and then some originals. Either way I’m happy, I’m playing music, I’m still traveling, on a much smaller level, but I’m still traveling so I’m happy dude, completely happy.
AWAY-TEAM: Very cool. I have this song from a band and I won’t mention the band (Brand New Sin) but they covered Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd and it blows Shinedown’s version out of the water. Why was it recorded and why was it never released?
Joe Altier: It was recorded because the second label we were on… instead of Now or Never we were on Barter Records which was a Sony imprint. They asked us to start doing some covers cuz they figured well maybe we’ll release a single of a cover, of you guys doing a cover in order to launch you guys. Van Halen did it; I mean a laundry list of people who ended up getting careers after they did a cover song… I mean Shinedown… that’s really what broke Shinedown. So me and Slider had always played around with it and we’re like alright let’s record it. It’s a much simpler version, no pun intended, but there’s two verses missing and we did it as a demo to show the label what we could do. We’re like alright let’s do this, we’ll shorten it down a bit one chorus, one solo, out. We don’t need to record the whole song, why do that if it’s only a demo. So we did it, we did it real quick, we sent it to them. And they basically said ‘we don’t know if this would really work, we don’t know if this is tangible, we don’t know if people remember who what song this is.’ And six months later fucking Shinedown sells a million records because of Simple Man and now I mean it really jump started their career and everybody knew who Shinedown was and then all of a sudden they re-released the singles that happened before Simple Man Fly From The Inside and 45 and then it was dude it was really a catalyst! If anyone would argue with me differently I would call them stupid. Simple Man was everything for that band. I mean I don’t know maybe it wouldn’t have worked for us at all, maybe it was Shinedown’s moment, but it would be interesting to see what do you think Shinedown would have done it if we went for a full radio campaign? If we fucking released it before they did? I don’t know man I don’t know. But that’s why we recorded it and we recorded a few other covers at that time we actually recorded Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell which I’ll have to send you sometime too.
Joe Altier: It kinda got shelved and then we went through this whole process with that label and we just kinda went nowhere and then we ended up with Century Media a year and a half later so that was why it was recorded and why it was never released they didn’t think it was gonna work. ‘Oops’
AWAY-TEAM: Did you go back to them and say, ‘Ummm….’
Joe Altier: Absolutely like. ‘Jesus man way to go!!!’
AWAY-TEAM: So who are your musical influences or is that what Just Joe is? Is Just Joe where you sing… or is it kind of an example of your musical influences?
Joe Altier: Yeah I take… it’s everything… I do 1200 songs, just about 600 of them I don’t ever want to play, but I do because I just got to do it. And there’s about 600 I really love. My interest in musical influences go from Otis Redding all the way to Metallica. I mean if I made a list my biggest influences it’s fucking mindboggling, right now I’m listening to Zac Brown Band and I love it so. But it kinda encompasses a lot of things and a lot of genres: Skynyrd, Metallica, Pantera, The Eagles, are probably some of the biggest ones and Social Distortion.
AWAY-TEAM: So how did Elephant Mountain come about? How did you and…you and Slider obviously apparently started talking again…
Joe Altier: Yeah, we started talking again. We talked about writing some songs together and then my guitar player John suggested. ‘You and Slider and me and Luke (our drummer) should get a bass player and we should just jam together.’ So it kind of organically came from me and Slider talking about writing together to John forcing us to kind of jam together. And on a cold night in January of ’09 we got together and we started jamming and in a nutshell that’s how Elephant Mountain was born. We got a buddy of ours from Cortland to play bass and then we ended up getting a B3 player a year later in January of this year and voila here we are here’s Elephant Mountain.
AWAY-TEAM: So you have a full-time B3 player?
Joe Altier: Yes he’s in the band. He’s a grandfather he’s 55 fucking years old! He’s been around for years. He played in a band called Bloodline that was signed to Columbia which was Joe Banamassa and yeah it was just a bunch of guys that were all bloodlines of guys from the Allman Brothers and The Doors and everything else. Lou is the B3 player of that band. He’s had a history of being in bands in Syracuse and nationally for years.
AWAY-TEAM: So who is Joe Banamassa a bloodline of?
Joe Altier: Joe Banamassa senior… nobody famous (laughs)…he’s a wicked guitar player.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh yeah I know who he is, I’ve seen him a few times, I just… cuz you were talking about being bloodline of stuff and I was trying to figure out who the hell he belonged to.
Joe Altier: He was just a wicked guitar player as a young kid and he’s from Syracuse area he grew up around here.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh I didn’t know that.
Joe Altier: Yeah he’s a local cat, that’s how Lou ended up in the band because Lou played in his solo band so…
AWAY-TEAM: So for those that don’t know Brand New Sin and don’t know Elephant Mountain how would you describe your sound?
Joe Altier: Pure rock ‘n roll motherfucker! That is the best way man! I mean I think we sound like a lot of different things, and I just think we sound like just straight up rock ‘n roll a very classic style. I think Brand New Sin was a very classic style of rock ‘n roll and metal and I really think that Elephant Mountain is a real classic style of rock ‘n roll I think we sound like a band that should have been around in like 1977 more than 2010 but we have a twist obviously with my vocals. I think that’s the best way to describe our sound it’s just rock ‘n roll, no frills.
AWAY-TEAM: You just released The Last Days of Planet Earth which is the first album for Elephant Mountain and how can people find it?
Joe Altier: So since we don’t have our proper website built yet you can find us on Facebook and that will lead you to CDBaby and you can find all our stuff on CDBaby. iTunes. And eventually we’ll have our own, we’ll have our website built it’s actually in the process right now. That’s the best way to find us is on Facebook and then we actually have a MySpace page you can find us on there and then both of those places will link you to how to buy the record. You can actually buy it physically or you can download it for real cheap. The actual physical CD is a little bit more because of shipping and everything else but you can get the download for like 8 bucks 8 or 9 bucks and if you actually find me in person or you’re in Syracuse you can buy it for 8 bucks.
Damn, we talked forever! There you have it. No holds barred. You want the straight shit, you go to Joe and ask a question, and the straight shit is what he is going to give you.
My thanks to Joe Altier for taking time out of a Dolphins game to talk for 90 minutes to me about EVERYTHING.
You know that ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s The Last Days of Planet Earth was in my top 10 of 2010. So go here, or here, or here to get yourself a copy of it. You’ll thank me for it later.
And my thanks to Melissa Dolak who went above and beyond editing and transcribing the interview from hell.
When Ozzy Osbourne parted ways with long time guitarist Zakk Wylde in early 2009, many people thought he was losing it. When he replaced him with a relative unknown, people thought he’d pulled a page from his Diary of a Madman. The key word here is “relative” unknown; you see, Gus G. had already forged a name for himself within the inner circles of rock via his band Firewind. In fact, what most of those doubters didn’t realize is that Gus was already well on his way to being considered one of the great guitarists of our time, not only by his fellow axemen, but also garnering the distinction of being named one of the Top 3 Guitarists in the World by Japanese magazine Burrn! Approximately a year and a half later Gus G. is out “burning” up the stage every night with The Prince of Darkness, and did I mention he’s a comic book hero too? Here’s how it all went down when I had Q&A with the man destined to become a living legend…
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the release of the new Firewind album, “Days of Defiance”, which by the way is a fantastic album…
GUS G.: Thank you very much!
AWAY-TEAM: …and also on being named the new guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne…
GUS G.: Thank you very much. Thanks.
AWAY-TEAM: …we’ll talk some more about that, but first I want to talk a little about Firewind. I’ve described your sound with Firewind as sort of a “melodic speed metal”, that harkens back to the days of the great 80′s metal bands. If you had to describe Firewind’s sound to someone who has never heard you before, how would you describe it?
GUS G.: I would say it’s melodic heavy metal, yeah. Ya know people like to put tags on music, like I know for example we’ve been tagged as a power metal band, and that’s not the case. We almost feel like it’s a bad thing to be called a power metal band these days, because it’s not fashionable. But I’m thinking we are not even power metal, just because we sound “European” or we have fast double bass on some of our songs, that doesn’t mean anything. I think it’s just, our roots come from traditional rock or heavy metal, like you said from the 80′s and the 70′s. We’re just like a traditional heavy metal band, but with modern elements.
AWAY-TEAM: There were a few influences that were highly discernable on the album. For example, there seemed to be a lot of Iron Maiden in songs like “Chariot” and “SKG”, and a great deal of Scorpions sound in the track “Broken”. Who were your strongest musical influences growing up?
GUS G.: Well, you’ve actually named two of them. I mean, um, we’re all big Maiden fans, and you can tell that on a song like “Chariot”. I love the ballads that the Scorpions made, and I guess it’s natural for me to write a bit in that vain as well. So some of the stuff I do will remind you a bit of early Scorpions. Uh, you know, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, all of the great bands of the 70′s and 80′s really. Thin Lizzy. These are the bands that we really look up to.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was the first song or album that you heard that made you pick up a guitar and start playing?
GUS G.: Actually it was Peter Frampton, the album Frampton Comes Alive. My dad had the album at home, and he was playing it, and when I heard him do the talk box thing in the song “Do You Feel Like I Do” I was like “Wow, the guitar sounds like a robot”. So then I wanted to play the guitar. I must’ve been about 9 years old or so, and that’s when I asked my dad to get me a guitar. He got me a guitar and about a year later I started taking lessons.
AWAY-TEAM: Earlier this year you guys (Firewind) were featured in an issue of the Eternal Descent comic book series. Comic book artists often take artistic liberties when drawing a real life person into a fictional world. What, if anything, would you change about your character in the comic book if you were the artist?
GUS G.: Oh I don’t know, my imagination is not that wild to be honest. (laughs) So I can’t see myself in a comic book, so I left that up to the artist who’s a really talented young guy Llexi Leon. He made it super cool man, we all had super powers. I think mine, because I have a flame tattoo on my right hand, he turned that into a super power so whenever I would get pissed off or anything my hand would go on fire, and my guitar as well. (laughs)
GUS G.: And I would just burn the fuck out of people or something. So that was pretty cool. Plus he made me a little bit more muscular which was cool. (laughs)
GUS G.: It was a year and a half ago, when his management sent me an email asking me if I’d be interested in the gig, and if I’d go out and audition. And that’s how it happened.
AWAY-TEAM: So you actually had to audition for him? What songs did you have to play?
GUS G.: Um, ya know, a bunch of his classic songs like “Bark at the Moon”, “Crazy Train”, “I Don’t Know”, “Suicide Solution”, “I Don’t Wanna Change the World”, “Paranoid”, stuff like that, ya know. We went in there and did about six or seven songs.
AWAY-TEAM: So now, you’ve gotten the job, and you come in during the middle of the recording of the Scream album; for someone like yourself who’s used to having a large amount of control over what goes into an album, what was the creative process like? Did they give you as much freedom as you’re used to? Or did they just say ‘Here you go, play it like this.’?
GUS G.: No, they didn’t tell me how to play really. They told me “Do what you gotta do as a guitar player. We need alot of your guitar in there.” Because when I walked in all the songs were already written of course, but the guitar work had been done by Kevin Churko the producer, who is not really a guitar player so it sounded a little bit weird. Ya know what I mean? Like very processed and stuff. So they were like “Make it as real sounding, and as heavy as possible. Just do what you do. We want Gus on there.” So like I said, while alot of these songs were not my songs, I thought it was very challenging to be involved in a different project for once. And try to make my mark as a guitar player on songs that I didn’t write. And secondly, it was cooler than ever because I got to play on an Ozzy Osbourne album.
AWAY-TEAM: With that being said, you’re following in the footsteps of some legendary guitarists in guys like Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, and Zakk Wylde. Those guys all had their own unique sound, when your playing their songs do you try to put your own stamp on them? Or is it more like, those guys were so good it’d be sacrilege to change their sound?
GUS G.: Well, as a fan I don’t like to change stuff they did. Because we’re not just talking about anybody’s song, this is the bible of heavy metal man. This is what shaped the sound of hard rock and heavy metal for all the rest of us to follow. So it’s not like I’m gonna go in and do my own version of “Crazy Train” or my own version of “Paranoid”, ya know. That’s not gonna happen. But you know, Ozzy and Black Sabbath songs, these songs came from jams mainly, and there’s always a little room for the guitar player to do his own little fills and tricks here and there. I definitely do my own thing, but without really interfering with the song composition if you know what I mean.
AWAY-TEAM: Zakk Wylde has been highly complimentary of you, in the media especially. Have you had a chance to meet or talk with him yet?
GUS G.: No. I never got to meet him, and I would really like to. I really want to thank him for saying all of these great things about me, because it means alot to me. I mean Zakk Wylde is an icon, and someone I always looked up to growing up. He was one of my guitar heroes, and just to hear a guy like that saying all those great things about me is amazing. It’s awesome, and I really appreciate all of his support. He’s really cool with me about that. He’s really given me the platform I need to go out there and do my thing. He’s been very nice, and I’ve always had the best thoughts about Zakk, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s really cool to hear. Now, your first show with Ozzy was last year at Blizzcon; what was the moment you stepped back and realized “Holy shit! I’m really Ozzy’s guitarist!”?
GUS G.: (laughs) Yeah, that was definitely the gig where I was thinking about all of that. Even the rehearsal, everyday I was like “What the fuck? Where am I?” And that didn’t really end after Blizzcon, it still goes through my mind every other day. I’m like “Wow! Look how things turned out!” This is not something you can expect to really happen in life. It’s beyond any biggest honor a guitar player can have in heavy metal and hard rock. I mean, I was happy I was playing with my band, and when this came along I was like “Wow! Really???” When they called me for the audition I went in there and was like “I’ve got nothing to lose. At least I can jam with ’em and it’s a story I can tell my children one day.” But who would’ve ever thought that I would be in his band, and working with Ozzy for over a year now.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned being a fan, as a fan what was your all-time favorite Ozzy or Sabbath song?
GUS G.: You know, that is a problem actually, because he has so many great songs, I just love ‘em all man. I love doing the Ozzy stuff on stage, I love doing the Sabbath stuff. He has so many great songs on all of his albums. I mean, I love the Diary of a Madman stuff, I love the stuff from The Ultimate Sin that we’re doing. There’s more songs that I love that we’re not even doing, ya know. We’re playing two and a half hour sets every night, and to fit it all in we need at least four to four and a half hours to fit all of this material in there. He has so many classic songs that you just can’t possibly fit in everything.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was the most challenging song to learn?
GUS G.: Uh, I don’t know. You know all of his guitar players had some very interesting stuff in there. I really cannot seperate one guy from another because everybody was unique in their own way. Like Jake E. Lee, he was special, he was doing all these weird chords and playing around with harmonics and stuff. Randy, he had all this classical influence and mixed it with heavy rock stuff, and it’s also very interesting to play that stuff. And of course Zakk, his technique was at another level. And then you’ve got Tony Iommi, who’s super, super heavy and bluesy and just plays freeform. So you really need to be a well rounded guitar player to play all these different styles. But for me it’s really a natural thing, because those are the kind of guitar players I grew up listening to. I come from that school of guitar, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: With the extensive touring schedule you have planned with Ozzy, Firewind has sort of taken a back seat for now. Do you foresee yourself pulling the same type of double duty with Firewind on future Ozzfest’s as Zakk did with Black Label Society?
GUS G.: You know, in a festival, I could see it happening in a festival. We just confirmed a festival for the summer in France, called Hellfest and we’re headlining with Ozzy and Firewind is also gonna be on the bill. So that’s gonna be the first double duty gig for me. I wouldn’t really go out and do it if it was like an arena tour, or a headline tour with Ozzy because I wouldn’t really want to compromise the tour by being tired or anything, playing back to back. But in some sort of situation where I play with Firewind, and then I get a few hours to rest and go play with Ozzy, I would love to do that. What we’re doing with Firewind right now is, we’re doing our gigs in between the Ozzy tours. Because we have a few months off here and there from the touring; and actually the reason we’re not doing that many gigs with Firewind is we’re covering alot of ground by doing alot of special gigs. Covering alot of major territory, we were just on the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. We did New York, Montreal, Washington, D.C., Virginia…and we’re gonna go to Japan in Januray, we’re gonna go to England. So we’re covering alot of ground even though we’re not doing 150 dates or something.
AWAY-TEAM: That actually kinda answers my next question. How do you plan to balance and be able to put your heart and soul into both projects?
GUS G.: I guess I just answered that, didn’t I? (laughs) Obviously Firewind has a new album as well, and I would want to promote that too. You know with Firewind we’ve been touring extensively for the last four years or so, and we’ve played like every fucking club on earth. So we thought this was an opportunity for us to do special gigs, in bigger cities, in bigger venues and be able to promote those gigs better. So actually the fact that I’m so busy with Ozzy has actually worked in our favor, because we were able to better handle our promotion, and better handle the gigs that we are doing. It makes it more special both for us, and for our fans.
AWAY-TEAM: Slash is going to be joining you in January for the second leg of the tour. Can we expect to see you guys on stage together at all? Maybe doing the song Ozzy recorded with him for his album? Or just a good old fashioned guitar battle?
GUS G.: Well, I don’t know Slash personally. I’m looking forward to meeting him. I hear from everybody that he’s the sweetest guy, and I’m a big fan of his as well. I grew up with Guns n Roses, and I love his new solo album. I will definitely be on the side of the stage watching him as a fan, I don’t know if I’m gonna get to jam with him, but I’m definitely gonna be there to watch the show.
AWAY-TEAM: I read in Rolling Stone that this tour could include full performances of the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums, in honor of their 30th anniversary. Is there any truth to that?
GUS G.: No. It’s rumor. We haven’t rehearsed a full album to be honest. I don’t know if something’s gonna change before the tour starts, and we’re gonna go into rehearsals and play alot. But nothing like that, that I’ve heard of right now.
AWAY-TEAM: Well Gus, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great honor to speak with you.
GUS G.: Thanks man.
AWAY-TEAM: Good luck with the new album, and the tour, and I look forward to seeing you when you make your way to Florida in February.
GUS G.: Yeah man, I’m looking forward to it, we’re doing three shows there. I actually have some family down there, my uncle lives in Miami, so I’m looking forward to coming back to Florida, I haven’t been there in years.
AWAY-TEAM: Excellent, I’m looking forward to it as well.
GUS G.: See you there.
For more Firewind, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.firewind.gr/
For more Ozzy Osbourne, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.ozzy.com/us/home
Special thanks to Gus G. for so graciously giving me his time, and to Josh Eldridge at Century Media for making it all happen.
Joe Altier may best be known as the lead singer for Syracuse, New York’s Brand New Sin. But that’s history now. Today Joe is fronting Elephant Mountain, a band he and Slider (Brian Azzoto) from Brand New Sin started together recently. He also pays his bills by traveling around in an old New York State Prison bus with his keyboards as Just Joe, his version of a modern day piano man and his solo project. Elephant Mountain recently self released their debut disc The Last Days Of Planet Earth. If you’ve ever heard Brand New Sin’s self titled debut album or their second album Recipe For Disaster and longed for that sound again, it is right here! The main songwriting team from those two albums have reunited and delivered The Last Days Of Planet Earth. Joe and I sat down on a Sunday morning and caught each other up on what we’ve both been doing the past three years, we also spent over an hour talking about how he came to be in Brand New Sin, why Slider was kicked out, why he himself left, what Elephant Mountain means to him, and how a band makes a name without a label in today’s social networking environment. Joe pulls no punches when talking about Brand New Sin, his highs and lows in the band and how you can earn a living singing Elton John covers in between your own original work. Oh, and let’s not forget the 60 year old groupies too! We talked so long and covered so many things that I have cut this interview into two pieces. Grab a beer, throw on some Elephant Mountain and get to know Just Joe…
AWAY-TEAM: How do you get out, how you connect with the fans, how you get your product out in this day and age? Because the labels, the big ones, aren’t going to be around much longer. Everyone’s predicting three to five years maximum unless they turn around tomorrow and they change their business plan, and it doesn’t look like they’re gonna do it.
Joe Altier: They’re not, no they’re not. Dude it sounds goofy as it is man, but it really comes down to the social networking. It really comes down to Facebook and Twitter. MySpace is still relevant for bands somewhat because Facebook has yet to really have that platform for a band. I mean look, do you follow Zakk on Twitter? Zakk Wylde on Twitter? He’s a fucking freak!
AWAY-TEAM: Yes. Well actually I did and I stopped following him because…
Joe Altier: He posts every five minutes!
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah there’s that … (both laugh)
Joe Altier: The thing is being in touch with your fans. I mean I talked to my friends… let me see if I can try to answer this question without getting too far… I talked to my friends at Dirtbag Music and Dirtbag Clothing about doing merchandise. Because I’m really getting to the point where I don’t… I mean I want to DYI my shit. But there’s a point where I don’t wanna fucking literally be going to the post office every other day and mail a t-shirt or mail a CD. That’s why I had CD Baby handle it, and have them do all the distribution. And have us on iTunes and everything else. And he asked me, ‘Well you know we have a development label here. You know we’d be willing to help them (Ed note: Elephant Mountain) out and Just Joe on it’. And I’m like, ‘Well what are you going to do for me that I can’t do for myself?’ And he goes, ‘Well, we can help with distribution.’ And I’m like, ‘I have distribution. How’d you help with the distribution?’ And he goes ‘CD Baby? And you can go to iTunes.’ I go, ‘I got people ordering shit in Chile, Argentina, Germany, Finland I think that’s pretty good distribution.’ And he’s ‘Well you know we can help get your CDs out in stores’. Nobody’s got CDs in anywhere unless you go to a mom and pop store. I mean Best Buy… try to go to Best Buy and try to find the CD section because literally it’s dwindled. I mean distribution; physical distribution is useless unless you’re in a market where you know you’re going to do well. I’m gonna have a couple stores around here (Syracuse, NY) that sell it but that’s about it you know. The one thing that I’ve gotten is that like these Brand New Sin fans that kept staying around and watching me do whatever I did, and followed me on MySpace and jumped over to Facebook and all that stuff. And I’ve kept in contact with them. That was the one thing that I did when I was in Brand New Sin. I was the only one that did that MySpace page and the only one that handled the emails. I literally would spend a day or so responding to like 30, 40, 50 emails. I would answer everybody man and that went a long ways with people. Making them stay with me and waiting for something patiently to fucking come out. I think the day and age of like these massive rockstars, the Axl Roses, the Vince Neils, the rockstars that are just so untouchable. They seem mythical almost. I think really those days are gone. I think people don’t really want that shit anymore. This is the day and age when reality television and everything being at your fingertips, everybody wants something they want to feel a real connection with somebody. People want to feel like they know you a little bit. That’s where I’m feeling, where I’m rebuilding this fan base or making this fan base slowly grow. ‘Oh my god he answered me!’ or ‘he put happy birthday on my page on Facebook!’Its things like that and those things go a long ways. Then those people become very passionate about you know? And they may become very passionate about your music and everything else because they actually feel a one on one connection with you. You know sometimes I give away a little, I mean I don’t use Facebook as my diary like some people do, ‘Oh my god I woke up today, I took a shit, I brushed my teeth, I got into a fight, my boyfriend sucks’.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s what Twitter’s for…
Joe Altier: Exactly! (both laugh) But I do let go of some of my personal side, my battles with… dude I haven’t drank in almost a year, you know what I’m sayin’? Once in awhile I’ll have a glass of wine at dinner or something like that, but I don’t drink anymore. I don’t get drunk, I don’t do drugs, all that stuff’s gone!… you know and chronicle the battles of just kind of reemerging in the past 3 years of my life. I still keep some things very private, but I give away some stuff. And people gravitate towards that because they go through… they’re not just listening to the lyrics but they’re also feeling like they’re a part of that. So I’m not this unattainable mythical Rockstar that does blow and drinks like the Axl Roses do backstage. I think Ozzy Osborne blew the fucking lid off it all when he did a reality TV show. When he did that reality TV show it ruined my image of Ozzy. We’ve all thought Ozzy was the fucking devil growing up! He’s the most evil person ever on the planet. And then you realize, you finally get a glimpse into his family life, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god this guy’s an idiot like my uncle bob!’ You know?
Joe Altier: And it made him real. Whether the show was real or scripted or not it brought some realism. It brought it down a notch and that’s what people want nowadays.
AWAY-TEAM: Well see I don’t know if that’s what they want but what they expect. But I’m wondering if this instant intimate access is actually a good thing for your bottom line for CD sales. Because while somebody may get off because Joe from Brand New Sin and Elephant Mountain posted ‘happy birthday’ on their Facebook page, or whatever, and that’s fucking awesome I love that band that’s cool that they would do that. Today you don’t have that hero worship; you don’t have that blind… I don’t want to say blind devotion… but that massive devotion and that almost obsession with a band that you had in the 70s 80s and into the 90s. When I finally… the first time I met Metallica that was the be all end all for me personally and the chance to finally get to meet them was just mind blowing. And I ended up sounding like fucking Tarzan when I was talking to them ‘me Jim you James ugh’. You know…
Joe Altier: That’s almost like those things are almost gone. It’s become a very nichey industry if you can create your own little niche you can do real well, but it’s like I just think a mass acceptance of… I mean it’s so overwhelming. The internet is great for a band because now everyone can hear your music. But now everyone can hear 5 million bands that all suck! So how do you find one out of 500,000 bands that don’t fucking suck?
AWAY-TEAM: But see that’s what I was getting at. Like with Metallica in the 80s and the 90s, your only access to these bands were the music and the shit they put out. You’d get RIP magazine or the Rolling Stone or Hit Parader or whatever, so you could read an interview with them. And you’d scour the magazines every month to see if that band was in it. But past that it was the music that was the your only connection. And that’s when you were selling millions and millions of albums. Or your smaller bands were selling hundreds of thousands of albums not 10,000 albums or 5,000 albums…
Joe Altier: Or a 1,000 for Christ sakes you know?
AWAY-TEAM: So I think this intimacy, or this instant access is also… you know everyone blames downloading and stealing the music and everything else…
Joe Altier: Dude I think it’s a lot of things, but its part of the much larger picture of why the industry is fucked. And I tell people that, and I don’t know how many times I’ve had the question asked of me, ‘What do you think of people stealing your music, don’t you think it’s going to be the death of the industry?’ I’m like, ’Dude, that’s maybe like 1/5 of the equation of why things are fucked!‘ You know people have always been stealing music. We used to make mix tapes; someone could go buy a fucking tape and dub. I mean dude it did happen, it was a slower process. And the Grateful Dead encouraged people stealing their fucking music since day one. The Grateful Dead never sold volumes and volumes of records man! They were a fucking band that toured and they had this huge fan base because they let people steal their fucking music forty years before anyone else was doing that shit. But getting back to what you were saying is, I don’t know if that will ever go back to that. I think the state of the world, and the future, and the way the world is now, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to that time. You and I are always going to long for that time. Bob Lefsetz, who I read all the time, Lefsetz Letter, he blogs about this shit all the time and he’s saying, ‘Do you miss those days of Aerosmith concerts and just this magical time in music?’ But it just its slowly reinventing itself and its going to take us 3 or 4 years and we’re gonna get out of this economic lull in the world, and everything is going to kinda reinvent itself. I think at this point man music has become where it always should be and it’s in the artist’s hands. It’s up to the artist 100 percent of what they want to do. But the problem is the artist’s need to fucking inform themselves and educate themselves. Because for years it was only just about the music! ‘Oh man I just got a record deal’ and then you let the record company do it, then you get a manager, and you get an agent, and you get all this other stuff, and you got a publicist, and everyone’s telling you what to do. And there’s 5,000 different ideas and then one person won’t call somebody else, and it’s like holy shit yeah you got a team but holy fuck. Someone like Century Media, they’re publicists, but they’re publicists for fucking 40 other bands! And 20 of them just put out records and 15 of them are on tour, it’s not their fault but they’re just trying to do it and they can only be, ‘Ok well this band’s hot right now put that band aside we’ll get to them next week.’ Now it’s up to the band, somebody in the band, or everybody in the band needs to take on a role. And if they do it slowly, they do it right, and they do it with thought there can be success. If someone’s getting into this business nowadays to become a huge mega rockstar and make millions of dollars they better get the fuck out! Because it was hard then, it’s even harder to do that now. it’s almost impossible to do that now. Can you make a living doing this? Yes. But you gotta kinda have your fingers on a multiple array of things. That’s why I do so many different projects and I balance all of it because sooner or later one of them’s really going to catch fire. And it will shine and everything else needs to set down. I’m going to go take care of this but we keep those other things so when this falls down I can go back and get something else to catch fire. It’s a slow go and my plan is like a five year type plan. and I told the guys in Elephant Mountain dude it’s going to be a 2 to 3 year process to see really where this band’s going to end up. Can we go on the road? No man we’ve already spent $7,000 of our own fucking money making this record. Us going on the road is just going to be fucking… we might as well be throwing fucking $100 bills out the window as we’re driving down the road! Because that’s what’s going to fucking happen. We can go out and beat the fucking street and hope that some of the Brand New Sin fans come back around, but we couldn’t headline as Brand New Sin! What makes us think that we can go out and fucking do a tour as Elephant Mountain and make it worth our while? I mean it’d be cool, I’m not saying that I don’t want to go play to 15 people that really want to see us. I mean cuz I don’t want to downgrade 15 people that do want to see us in like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Ohio or where ever. you know X city USA but I’m not in the business of going out and fucking just pissing away money, coming home and being like, ‘Well fuck! I’ve got a cell phone bill to pay.’ you know the reality of life kind of creeps in and I mean some people are like, ‘Oh well man that’s not rock n roll!’ Yeah? Well you do it motherfucker! Why don’t you leave your job for a fucking week and not make any money? Tell me how your old lady is going to fucking like that. There has to be some realism to this unfortunately. Bills have to be paid and certain things have to be done, so I’m not counting out that fact that maybe Zakk might call or somebody you know in Gov’t Mule… god you know I would love that! Someone to call and go and do a string of dates and it would cost us some money but it would be worth our while because it would come back to us, not instantly, but I think over time. If something makes sense to me then I’ll go do it but in the meantime Elephant Mountain is going to be a project man that plays about 4 or 5 shows a year maybe around the northeast and that’s it. That’s where it’s going to be now until something happens.
AWAY-TEAM: You’re also doing a solo album for Just Joe right? Of your own stuff?
Joe Altier: Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: How does Just Joe differ from Elephant Mountain?
Joe Altier: Musically man its fucking… it’s a complete departure from everything I did with Brand New Sin and Elephant Mountain. It’s a very hard edge of me where it’s just really like singer songwriter based in the vein of Elton John and James Taylor and Pianoman and anything of those types of genre. And to be honest with you it almost comes out really country, very Zach Brown-ish almost. It’s real mellow and the style of singing is different. I mean it’s me but it’s more clean style of vocals. I’m using my voice in a totally different fashion than I did in Brand New Sin and than I do in Elephant Mountain. I think in Elephant Mountain I sing a lot differently than I did in Brand New Sin. I’m trying to finally showcase what I’ve done with my voice over the years because I think it’s really grown. I’ve grown as an artist and I’ve really learned how to use it dynamically. I’m not just literally just screaming all the goddamn time! There’s depth to it and I think Just Joe’s just gonna really take it to a whole different level.
AWAY-TEAM: Display that even further?
Joe Altier: Yeah I think it’s just gonna show some more depth to who I am as an artist. It’s real cool because now I have Elephant Mountain to get the harder edged side of me out and I have Just Joe to get this other side that I really couldn’t… it wouldn’t work really… There’s songs, a lot of songs that were written for this Just Joe record were written during the Brand New Sin days. They were Brand New Sin‘s songs that we demoed as Brand New Sin songs but never just did them cuz they were just way too far you out for Brand New Sin to do know what I’m saying? It’s so cool that I’m able to be able to be musically satisfied on every level. I can take Just Joe on the road, I have an old NY state prisoner transport bus that I bought, and that I turn all my gear around. I can grab someone to go with me or I can just get an acoustic guitar player or somebody to sing with me and I can go and I can disappear. And I can make money doing it. Now I’m starting to get people that are like ‘hey man can you play that song?’ ‘Can you play this song?’ and I don’t even have a record of it out yet. Just Joe is also something that’s going be able to… it’s going to cross age groups a lot larger, a much larger age group than what Elephant Mountain does. I mean I got older ladies… my cross section of fans that come to see me as Just Joe in New York are 12 and 13 year old kids and younger kids all the way up to ladies that are in their 60s that follow me around. I have groups of like 50 year old women that show up in bars once in awhile you know what I’m saying? So the range is much larger because it’s more accessible I guess. It’s not as nichey as Elephant Mountain. It’s cool, but I don’t see some 60 year old woman listening to Elephant Mountain, so it kinda jumps a little bit more.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was your first paying gig in music?
Joe Altier: I was gonna be a teacher, you know I was going to teach history. Then I moved gear for bands and I gave really cheap piano lessons to a few people. But I didn’t really know what the fuck I was going to do at that time in my life.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh wait, you were going to be a teacher?
Joe Altier: I was going to be a social studies teacher and coach football. That was what I went to college for. But my first paying musical gig was helping my buddy move gear around.
AWAY-TEAM: And then how did you end up in Brand New Sin?
Joe Altier: I ended up in Brand New Sin by just by default almost. I had been jamming with a few bands, sitting in my friend’s bands. I came home from college and I immersed myself in the Syracuse music scene. I had some really good friends of mine from high school who had a band. So I just started hanging out with them, and I started really getting into the scene, and then they were getting to a point where they were getting pretty big around Syracuse. I just started hanging out with them and then everyone knew I could sing so I would go up and sing with that band, and I then would go up and sing with another band. My ex-wife worked in a place that had live music and I got up and sang with a blues band. Then all of a sudden I just realized, ‘You know man, everyone’s kept coming to me and saying ‘man you need be in your own band’’. I didn’t really know what the hell I wanted to do, and the part of my brain that was, ‘No, you really need to get a real job and work for the man. You went to college and this is what you need to do, and you need to get a 9 to 5.’ I was married and you know I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I was a huge fan of God Below, which was the precursor to Brand New Sin, and then when they kicked out their singer they were trying out new guys. I get through the grapevine they wanted me to tryout or people wanted me to try out. I’m not a screamer man I’m a true singer. So if you want to want me to tryout then it had to be a rock band. ‘Well they’re changing their style a little bit so you might want to do it’. I went and grabbed the demo tape from Slider who worked the music store at the time selling guitars and shit, and he’s like ‘Here’s the music, see you in a week. See what you do with this. Go write something to it and then come back in’. They didn’t give me any guidelines they just wanted to see what I could do. I went in and the first day we did Broken Soul. Which was already written. I wrote The Oath and Desperate Times were already written. Those were two songs that I worked out while I was while I had the tape and the rest is history.
AWAY-TEAM: Now when you say it was written, were the lyrics written or the music was written and you put the lyrics to it?
Joe Altier: I put the lyrics to it. Broken Soul was the only one that was written musically, and everything else with lyrics. That song was completely written before I got in the band, it was the only song that was written for Brand New Sin specifically. I walked in and I had lyrics written for Desperate Times and for The Oath. I originally sang the words to The Oath over Broken Soul and I didn’t realize that they had lyrics or melody lines written for that. Slider said, ‘Well I like that but here’s what we did with this’. We just literally spent 6 or 7 hours together, and those 3 songs really kinda of happened right away. I kinda just flopped into it; I had no idea what the hell was going to happen after that. The bizarre thing and I guess to tie this all together is that the day that we released Elephant Mountain’s record at the CD release party was exactly 9 years to the day that I tried out for Brand New Sin.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah I saw that on your page.
Joe Altier: It was really, and it wasn’t planned! I originally was, ‘Ok let’s do this. Let’s aim for the 17th.’ It didn’t really hit me until a week or so before the show, and I was like, ‘Holy shit!!’
AWAY-TEAM: ’I could be teaching a bunch of snot nosed brats right now I could be three weeks into my football season at high school…’
Joe Altier: Yeah! Exactly! And it’s real bizarre that 9 years later here I am starting another chapter.
AWAY-TEAM: So what’s your best memory of being in Brand New Sin?
Joe Altier: Oh god, there’s so many man. I mean I don’t regret my time in that band. And I don’t harbor any ill will towards any of the guys. There’s things that we argued about near the end and there’s some things I’m upset about how they went, but I truly think that my time with that band… it was done, it was done and I’m at peace with that. I’m not bitter, I wish some things went differently, but hindsight is 20/20. My memories… man we don’t have enough time for all the great memories I have in that band! When we were clicking it was some magical shit man. When we were all on the same page it was some magical shit. Not just musically, but when we were out on the road and the brotherhood and everything else that was a part of being in that band. I’m trying to think of what my best memory… I think two memories that really, really made it… one of them was the first time that we toured with Zakk Wylde and we were in Clinton, Iowa. It was the first Black Label Society tour in September of 2002. And this place is in the middle of fucking nowhere, we met Zakk earlier on in the day, but he was really quick and short with us. We started playing and we all looked over at one point and Zakk is literally standing right on the side of the stage with a smile on his face. That struck a friendship with Zakk which is… I think everybody in our band was influenced by Zakk on every level as a guitar player. And especially me as a singer and a songwriter. I think that was really something cool for all of us, and especially for me because even to this day Zakk just has a massive influence on everything I do. Because he does that stuff he has the Black Label thing but he does this really quiet piano based side of things almost with Pride and Glory and Book of Shadows. I think my second favorite memory of Brand New Sin was when we finally got like the adoration in Syracuse and we played the radio festival KROQ. It was after 5 years of being in this band and never really getting… I mean we had hometown love but not like from that level of radio and newspapers and everything else. We played in front of 15,000 people that day and anybody will tell you the crowd went craziest was during our set and Drowning Pool’s ‘Bodies’ just because of the song not because of the whole set. I mean that was just like a crowning achievement out of everything that we did in that band for those 5 years. I think we just let it all hang out on stage the five of us that day. I just I watch those videos of being in front of a crowd that large and people singing and I had them in the palm of my… I mean we WE had them in the palm of our hands to do whatever they wanted. So I think those are like I mean without just going on and all the drunken fucking crazy fucking stories that happened. But those are the two that really stick out in my mind that were just like, ‘This is cool! This is cool, and this is why I’m in this fucking business.’
AWAY-TEAM: Right! Yeah, I don’t have any of those drunken Brand New Sin stories I’ve never been a part of those or heard of those…(both of us laugh)
Joe Altier: Yeah I’m sure you don’t man! It’s a shame you really should… (more laughing)
AWAY-TEAM: So um let’s see here you talked about Slider, Brian, and you and he are now in Elephant Mountain together and were in Brand New Sin together. He left after the first album when things really seemed to be breaking for you guys, and you went to the next level you went to a bigger label etcetera, and then all of a sudden Slider left, why did he leave?
Joe Altier: He didn’t leave on his own, we kicked him out.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh really?!
Joe Altier: Yeah we kicked him out. It wasn’t something that we particularly wanted to do. Personally I was the last one holding on in the band. I mean we kinda grew apart as a band. There was a distance between us and it was really weird because it kinda what mimicked what happened with me during the end of Brand New Sin for me. We had really not started seeing eye to eye and there was a division between 3 or 4 of the guys and then me. It was kind of the same thing that had happened with Slider. It got to a point where his ideas weren’t meshing with the other guy’s ideas, and I was holding out because I didn’t want to lose Slider. And I’ll say this now I mean I end up having to stand behind the decision. I didn’t want to but the guys were like, ‘Yeah you know, we really think we should kick Slider out. We don’t think it’s working anymore’.
AWAY-TEAM: On what level?
Joe Altier: I think a lot of levels. I think musically was just egos in the band that were people that weren’t willing to accept other people’s ideas. And that’s really what kind of happened to me, near the end I felt that I was presenting ideas and then coming back the next day and someone rewrote everything that I did. ‘You know that was good but why don’t you do this?’ It was the same way and Slider wasn’t putting up with that.
AWAY-TEAM: Well, I noticed a definite…
Joe Altier: There was a definite change in the vibe of the band and you can see it slowly change, and obviously see where it is now. The people that want to control that band have it now and you know that’s the way they sound. So you know they got exactly what they wanted to. That’s with some people, and I’m not going to say who, but you know that’s with some people and I mean the only people left in Brand New Sin are the people that were really wanting that change. So they got what they wanted, but I mean there was a friendship and there were some personality clashes, I really think to put it in layman’s terms there was just people’s egos were kinda getting in the way. And they realized that, and the thing was I think some of them were almost jealous of the relationship that me and Slider had musically. I don’t really know, there are just some things that me and Slider did. And when he left, I really lost a key person to help me singing wise because Slider is a singer as well, and that’s not to say that the other guys in the band aren’t singers too, but he’s a singer. I mean he comes from that mentality not just from the riff mentality of let’s add some words later. I kinda lost somebody that I could really lean into not that I couldn’t lean into Kris Wiechmann, or Kenny Dunham and all that, but it wasn’t the same. It definitely wasn’t the same and I think it showed. I mean I’m proud of those records but…
AWAY-TEAM: Oh it absolutely showed.
Joe Altier: But now that it’s back to me and Slider, you can really see. I think it’s evident; I don’t really have to go into too much depth, because I think the music can speak for itself! The Elephant Mountain stuff, the first Brand New Sin record, and then you can compare it to the other stuff that we did. There was some stuff that was on Recipe For Disaster that was very Slider influenced, that was left over, and it kinda showed. But I think by the time we got to Tequila, that was the 5 of us; there was no more 6 members and leftovers at that point. And I think that’s really where it was, and I was happy with Tequila somewhat but I really can’t listen to that record. Because there’s some things I just won’t really… it’s a really dark record and I like the way that it flows together, but I mean vocally I just wasn’t at the top of my game at that time. I was going through… I was drinking way too much and I’d damaged my vocal chords. I wasn’t 100% going into that vocal performance. Going into that record there’s some things, and that was really kind of the beginning of the end of why I was eventually going to leave the band. But Slider got kicked out plain and simple. The answer to that question he got kicked out and it wasn’t on the best of terms, and we didn’t talk for a very long time. It was 4 years probably that went by before we spoke. It was it was probably, no it was 3 years almost. Three years to the day before Slider and I started speaking again.
So there it is… in Part Two we discuss Joe‘s reasons for leaving Brand New Sin and delve more into Elephant Mountain‘s sound. Joe pulls no punches as you can see here. For now you can go pick up ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN‘s CD The Last Days Of Planet Earth here, or download it on iTunes.
My thanks to Joe for taking time out of his ridiculous schedule to do the interview and to Melissa Dolak for her patience in transcribing a huge gabfest like this for me.
Go pick up The Last Days Of Planet Earth, you’ll thank me later.
LACUNA COIL has gained quite the world wide fan base since exploding on the metal scene after stints on OZZFest, The Blackest Of The Black tour, the Jagermeister Music Tour and Music As A Weapon. Now these Italian icons are giving fans the chance to ‘win the band’.
That’s right, you can win some of the most respected gear in the music industry thanks to Lacuna Coil and their supporters at Beyer Dynamic, Ibanez, ESP, EMG Pickups, Gallien Krueger, Line 6 and Vic Firth. Simply visit this webpage and either Tweet or post a Facebook update to be entered for a chance to win.
Grand Prize: The band’s lineup of equipment – 2 guitars, a bass, microphone, amps, pedals, etc., plus the entire Lacuna Coil catalog including many rarities and special editions.
1st Runner Up: A bass and guitar courtesy of ESP guitars and Ibanez basses plus the entire Lacuna Coil catalog.
2nd Runner Up: A guitar courtesy of ESP guitars plus the entire Lacuna Coil catalog.
3rd Runner Up: The entire Lacuna Coil catalog including many rarities and special editions
Winners will be announced on December 10th.
For more LACUNA COIL click here.
Two time Grammy Nominees Shadows Fall has been shredding the Massachusetts’ metal and hardcore scene for the last 15 years. In 2005 they joined the Ozzfest tour and began their much deserved rise from kings of the underground to a house hold name around the world as the leader’s of the new Thrash Metal movement. Their style has been discussed and dissected ad nauseam. Are they metal? Hardcore? Post core? Metal core? Reggae metal? Hippy metal? Who cares… They rock; they’ll kick your ass given the chance. They’re touring the world in support of their latest CD Retribution, which they released on their own label Everblack Industries.
Shadows Fall is currently on the road with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and I had the chance to sit down with their singer Brian Fair and talk about his views of the current condition of the music ‘industry‘, what the pros and cons are in having your own label inprint, the dangers of slamming a vert ramp with your skateboard after a few bowls of your favorite herb, and how it feels to be metal’s dirty hippie.
AWAY-TEAM: This is Slim Jim with Away-team.com talking with Brian Fair from Shadows Fall. So let’s see, first off you guys just kicked off the first show of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. How did that….
BRIAN FAIR: Yes indeed man. San Bernardino yesterday man, it was killer man, it was a great first show where there was none of the normal equipment break downs or things – just there were regular speed bumps. It went pretty smooth. Everything really worked out well. The show was killer, the crowd was killer! But I’m a little afraid today because since nothing went wrong yesterday we’re assuming it all happens today you know !(laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Right yeah absolutely. So where are you today?
BRIAN FAIR: You gotta run into the gremlin somewhere. Shoreline which is a little south of San Francisco in Mountain View, California.
AWAY-TEAM: Mountain View, California I’m very familiar with it, I’m from the Bay Area originally myself.
BRIAN FAIR: Oh nice nice. I love Shoreline. It’s one of my favorite venues there is. We’ve done an Ozzfest here before so it’s good to be back. Yeah and bein’ a hippie Deadhead myself I just feel that holy ground you know.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah you know honestly I went to as many hardcore and metal shows growing up as I did to Dead shows and Reggae shows and stuff. So I think just kinda keeping that open mind is what’s really allowed us to really kinda push things in directions that other metal bands may not kind of approach. Or just not have the subconscious for the influences that would be there. I’m definitely the dirty metal hippie so it’s… I’m a Gemini, so I gotta have the twin side anyway you know.
AWAY-TEAM: There you go, the ‘dirty metal hippie‘ I like that! (laughs)
BRIAN FAIR: Yup! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: So for most people your band Shadows Fall kinda got name recognition within say the last five years. Probably Ozzfest 2005 it is kinda what opened a lot of doors for you, and you became if not a household name, the people outside of the underground really found out about you. But the reality is you guys have been around for 15 years. Your first album came out in 1997. So what do you think took so long…
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah it’s crazy!
AWAY-TEAM: You even have two Grammy nominations in the last three years!
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah it’s pretty crazy cuz you know, we started as like a small little Massachusetts metal band kinda just doin’ our own thing in a very small scene. But it really started to just kinda get back on the radar and blow up. When it seemed like a lot of bands kinda came up at the same time, us, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and it just kinda put the U.S. metal kinda back on the map. Metal never goes away. It just may go a little bit underground, but it’s always pretty much full on happening in the scene. So it’s kinda cool that the industry started paying a little attention. I think just even towards like Ozzfest being so successful kinda just put metal in general back on the radar and then us getting in front of those audiences definitely helped.
BRIAN FAIR: Well you know it was just a really kind of close knit scene back in the day. Where there was a lot of small hardcore shows and the bands all knew each other and all kind of grew up playing in bands together before that. It was a very open minded scene that was the other thing. People weren’t like limiting themselves to ‘oh we only play traditional hardcore’ ‘we only play straight up death metal’, people were really experimenting melodically and I think that led to bands kind of branching out in different directions and really kinda catching a lot of people’s attention. But it is really funny cuz I mean when we all started, we, the bands, played to each other! There was no crowd you know it was just us. You’d have 10 bands on the bill and that would be 10 bands in the audience. So it’s funny now that it’s kinda like a worldwide thing where we tour Australia and Japan with Killswitch Engage or something like that. It’s just crazy to think about. So….
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve actually got a former member that’s in Killswitch and one that it’s in All That Remains and you guys did a tour together where the three bands were on the same bill or on the same tour together. How does that work backstage? Is there any kinda animosity or does the fact that you guys…
BRIAN FAIR: Aw no! Everyone’s still friends. It’s all good. Like everyone’s just friends. As all the bands were starting…that members were just kinda plucked…When your high school band would break up, you’d meet up with the other two guys. And when their band broke up; then start a new band. So we all we all toured together and played shows and everyone still hangs out. Everyone still lives in the same area pretty much where they grew up so everyone still kicks it.
AWAY-TEAM: So having that close knit familiarity when you guys do tour together, do you guys get real competitive? Does it make you turn it up a notch onstage? Not necessarily to outdo them but to you know…
BRIAN FAIR: I think in general whenever we play with good bands it just motivates you. It’s not necessarily a competition thing, but you just realize, ‘We gotta go out and crush it!‘ But metal lines in general you can’t really half step anyway. They’re gonna let you know. You gotta come out and just kill it anyway. Especially on a tour like this one with so many great bands, you gotta just do something to kinda stand out. Especially in the festival scenario where people are getting little 20 minute shots of you. You gotta make the most of your time and then leave ‘em remembering who you were. So it’s kinda like that when we go out with those bands. It’s the same way you see them go out and crush and you’re like, ‘alright, now we gotta at least hit ‘em just as hard if not harder.’
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely! You’ve done a lot of label switching over the years. You started out with Century Media, went up to Atlantic, and your last album which was released last year, Retribution, you’ve released on your own label. Is this because there’s more freedom for you to do it how you want it, more creative control, and more monetary control? Or what are the advantages of a do-it-yourself label?
BRIAN FAIR: You know honestly it’s not necessarily the artistic control because Atlantic and Century Media… we would make the records and then play it for them when they were done. So they didn’t really have a whole lot of input that way. But what is great is by doing both the indie label thing for years and then being with Atlantic for a little while, we’ve learned a lot about what works for us as a band and the best way to promote ourselves. And took lessons from both of those experiences to kinda be able to renegotiate our Atlantic deal into a distribution deal with their parent company Warner Music. Where we took the monetary control is the biggest thing too, like budget wise, we were able to spend money in the right places and make those decisions ourselves as opposed to some major labels just want to throw a bunch of money into a video or radio. And hope it hits. With us that’s just not really the way it works. So there’d be a lot of not necessarily wasted money, but money that could’ve been directed in a better direction. So that’s what’s great now, and also there’s no more excuses. Like, ‘oh I didn’t know we were doing this, I didn’t know we were doing that.’ Everyone’s involved so you can all be on the same page and really just try and make the best decisions. But also with the music industry struggling so much, record sales dropping so drastically, it was time to make a new business model anyway instead of getting 10% royalty rate on records. On declining record sales now we at least get an 80%. So we are at least working to put money in your own pocket as opposed to the bottom you know for someone’s car payment on their Porsche.
AWAY-TEAM: Exactly and that that was basically my next question, do you think having the control of your own label will help secure you in, by most people’s estimates, 3 years the major labels will all collapse if they don’t immediately change their business model?
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah that’s the thing you know. It was all about being proactive instead of waiting to see where the chips fell as is the fallout from the downloading mess of the internet… We didn’t want to wait and see what… Cuz you could tell labels were in panic mode. We were lucky when we signed with Atlantic because things were a little more stable. And we were able to get a really good advance and sign a great deal. But those days are gone. Now it’s all 360 deals or they’re trying to take a percentage of your merch, your publishing, your touring, everything! So instead of waiting around to see what was the last of the industry, we figured we’d start our own little business model. I have a feeling that even the CD itself might be gone soon, just the way cassettes and vinyl were before. It’s better to learn as much about the business side and handle as much personally, band for band, as you can. When it gets down to that your gonna have to… if you don’t know what to do then… you know you’re just gonna be sitting there just kinda stuck in limbo so we figured we’d get ahead of the game.
AWAY-TEAM: What I think a lot of people don’t realize is… you mentioned the 360 deals. Most people think that bands make a ton of money off album sales. And in the 80s and 90s there was good money to be made there. But today, and the last 10 years if not a little more than that, your artists and your bands make their money on the road. Selling the t-shirts, selling the tickets, selling all kinds of merch. That’s where you make the most amount of your money. So now labels are doing what they’re calling the 360 deals and they’re taking a little bit of your merch, they’re taking some of your guarantees at the door and your ticket sales just so they can try to survive themselves, and like you said make their Porsche payments.
BRIAN FAIR: Yup and it’s unfortunate for a lot of younger bands. Those are the only options they are being presented with. In a young band and you’re a teenage kid and you just want to get out of the practice space and get on the road. And you think that’s your only option and it may be ok when you’re on a small level. But if you start blowing up all of a sudden you realize you’re like, ‘we’re giving these people money for nothing you know? They’re not even here selling our t-shirts yet they’re getting 10% of every one we just sold!’ It’s really an unfortunate thing; cuz like you said that really is where you make your money. You know touring, merchandising, as well as publishing! Getting yourself onto video games or movies or just random soundtracks and things like that. And as soon as you let the label start dipping into that you’re gonna really be left with nothing else. So it’s really about trying to protect your assets if you can. It’s unfortunate; I remember when we just wanted to rock, now we gotta study tax laws and stuff. It’s terrible but if you want to do it full time, it’s something you gotta really take seriously.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely, musicians have never as a rule been great businessmen. That’s what they have the managers for. And now unfortunately you’ve gotta be your own businessman, your own lawyer, your own manager, you’ve gotta take care of yourself because everyone’s getting a piece, or trying to.
BRIAN FAIR: Exactly that’s the other…we’ve seen enough of those Behind the Music’s to know all the things that could go wrong. So now you can’t pretend ignorance anymore. We’ve all watched what happened to Grand Funk Railroad, and all those bands on all those great VH1 Behind the Music’s so (laughs) no excuses anymore.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah, right now it is just to push Shadows Fall. We wanted really to just see how things worked out. We’ve suggested to other bands to kinda look into a similar deal with the parent company and you know or the independent label group. But in the future if we thought we could help a band in a way without becoming the evil label side of it then that would be awesome. And if they could use our imprint just to help them get like a leg up that would be great. But we would want them to really be running it. It would be more, ‘here’s a platform, here’s a distribution center, now you guys gotta go out and you know run with the ball.’ Otherwise we would just be becoming a regular record label and that business model just doesn’t work. At that point you’re just a loan shark you know?
AWAY-TEAM: So to the bands that are still in the garage or the practice space … What kind of advice can you give to the garage band, they’re trying to make it, how to set themselves apart and get noticed today?
BRIAN FAIR: I would tell them to study hard and get a degree that will get ‘em a real job! (laughs) Honestly I would tell you to really, just get to the point where you just are so comfortable with your sound before you’re just throwing it out there. Really use advantage of all the free networking that’s available, whether it’s putting up songs on MySpace or just staying in touch with bands through Twitter, use all those as much – all the free outlets – as much as possible. Whether it’s YouTube or anything you know, those things weren’t available to us as a young band. We had to just go out on the road and just hand out demos physically as opposed to now, you can just give someone a little flier with all your info and they can hear your music as soon as they get home. It’s such a difference. Shit, they can probably hear it on their phone you know? Like really take advantage of all that and learn as much as you can about how the business side works. Because you’re gonna end up running it yourself at some point if it gets successful. So really, just absorb as much as you can. And also just really get out there and play as much as you can. Cuz the live show is the one thing that can never be downloaded or taken away from the band. The live performance is such a unique experience it really just where it’s all about focused energy, on going out there and kicking ass onstage!
AWAY-TEAM: Ok, enough of the business side, let’s get back to the music. Most of your albums have a cover or two on them from Pink Floyd to Dangerous Toys and even Leeway, how do you guys go about picking a cover? Are these nods to your influences or just songs you want to play putting…
BRIAN FAIR: They’re definitely always an influence you know but there’s two kinda schools we choose from there’s the bands like Leeway and the Cro-Mags that are for us kind of paying tribute to a band that helped kinda shape our sound, but they may not be known by a lot of our either younger fans, or more like not as the underground kids. So that’s where we choose to do a Leeway song or something like that. The other ones like Dangerous Toys and Bark at the Moon, those are just fun. That’s for us to enjoy the studio time and be able to just record a kick ass tune, and for me to be able to sing about werewolves or Teasin’ and Pleasin’. Like I’m never gonna say, ‘I think I got the wrong house’ you know? Like that will never fit into a Shadows Fall song. So for me it’s just a fun experience to just have a little party anthem.
AWAY-TEAM: What were your influences when you started? What made you want to sing to begin with?
BRIAN FAIR: You know I really got into early rock like KISS and Aerosmith and Black Sabbath at a pretty young age. I had a cool older brother and a cool neighbor who turned me onto a lot of good music. But then I got really into punk rock through skateboarding when I was probably like 12, 13. I was listening to Black Flag and the Sex Pistols and stuff, and that led me to going to local Boston hardcore shows and stuff. But the entire time I was going to hardcore shows I was also listening to a ton of thrash metal you know the Bay Area bands – Testament, Death Angel, Metallica as well some of the early death metal so I think that’s really where the kind of combination of sounds of just death metal and old school hardcore and the classic metal kinda all came into Shadows Fall. I think all 5 of us at least shared those kind of common backgrounds even though I was listening to a lot of reggae and jazz, whereas some of the other guys listened to a lot of glam metal and we all had our different stuff. But the common ground we shared the old school metal as well as that kinda early crossover metal hardcore stuff.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ve seen this asked of you before, and reading reviews of various CDs of yours, and when people ask me how to define your sound it’s really impossible to do. I guess it’s because of the various influences but how would you describe the Shadows Fall sound?
BRIAN FAIR: You know just call us a metal band! Because we really do take things from the entire sort of metal history, because we just grew up as fans of all types of heavy music. And you can hyphenate it a million times you can call it like neo-thrash-melodic-death-blah blah blah, and then add metal at the end, but to me it’s just its just metal.
AWAY-TEAM: Ok, fair enough. Retribution sees you guys delving into a bit heavier more aggressive tighter sound than previous efforts. Like almost more focused on a set sound for the feel of the entire album. Was this a natural progression or was it thought out and planned?
BRIAN FAIR: You know it wasn’t really planned but we knew with Threads of Life, the previous album, we definitely pushed the kind of melodic arena rock side of our sound probably as far as it could go so with this record. It was probably subconscious but we definitely started right out the gates writing really aggressive songs. Public Execution was one of the first tunes we were working on, as well as My Demise and War came about pretty early on. And that sort of set the tone where we’re like alright this is going to be a heavy fast record. And there’s still melodic moments like Picture Perfect is a very melodic song with acoustic moments and then a big chorus but overall I’d say it’s definitely probably maybe besides Of One Blood it’s probably the most aggressive record we’ve done from beginning to end.
AWAY-TEAM: I’d described it as tighter, more cohesive, more defined, and straightforward.. just balls out album.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of that. We really wanted to balance all of the influences and make them cohesive. As opposed to some bands these days want to fit so much in that they’ll almost cut and paste, ‘alright here’s the death metal part, here’s the breakdown, here’s the big melodic chorus’ and they almost feel sorta just stuck together and forced. We wanted it to be if it was going to be a thrash song and fast it was going to be that way from beginning to end. There wasn’t going to be some weird left turn you know? If it was going to be a melodic hard rock song it was going to stay that way from beginning to end. And I think that’s just us getting more comfortable as song writers. I think song writing is the most difficult thing to progress and learn over time. Everyone gets better as a musician but that still doesn’t mean you can write a song.
AWAY-TEAM: So does the title Retribution reflect the music on the disc or does its meaning lie elsewhere?
BRIAN FAIR: Well you know we wanted a one word title for the first time. Something that just had an aggressive vibe to it, but also we’d kinda been off the radar for about two years between records and we kinda wanted to just stake our claim again. Let people know we were back. There’s just so much metal these days, and there’s so many bands, and it’s so easy to put a record out that we just were like…this was our sort of our coming back atcha thing. Going for the throat sort of record and we just felt like Retribution kind of fit that.
AWAY-TEAM: So how do you as a band go about writing a record? Is it collaborative musically? Do you all sit around and hammer out a song or do you take the riff tapes and piece a song together?
BRIAN FAIR: Our guitar players usually bring a very rough outline of the song or even just a few riffs, and we would just jam on them in the practice space full volume together. And I think that also led to it being an aggressive record, cuz we were actually playing a lot of it live right out of the gates. So it really led to that energy and we were thinking about how they would be onstage as opposed to just thinking of them as just studio pieces. So there and a lot of weird transitions that never would have happened if we would have just emailed back and forth MP3s. Some crazy little wacky idea would come out of nowhere while we were jamming, so I think that really helped make it a cohesive and also just a little more aggressive record. Just crankin’ it and going for it.
AWAY-TEAM: So does the music affect or influence the lyrics or does the writing of the lyrics influence the way the music is written?
BRIAN FAIR: For me, I usually wait til not necessarily the finished instrumental version, but pretty well defined. And I get a vibe from it that will affect the lyrics. If it’s a head crushing heavy song the lyrics have to reflect that. If it’s a long epic kinda song I may get more into a grand storytelling vibe. I definitely usually wait to get that from the music itself.
AWAY-TEAM: As we said before, you’re currently out on the road with some great bands on the Mayhem Festival, what would be your ultimate bill for a show?
BRIAN FAIR: You know we’ve played a festival with them before but we would love to tour with Metallica cuz that’s the one band that I grew up worshipping that we’ve never gotten to do extended time on the road with. And there’s only one Metallica man! They’re the kingpins, so that would be pretty amazing.
AWAY-TEAM: So are you guys sitting around waiting to do the opening for the Big Four then? Is that what you’re asking? To throw in your hat….
BRIAN FAIR: Oh that would be as cool as it gets! But honestly that would be a tough opening spot even to begin with. People would be like ‘yeah great we don’t care, get to the Big Four’!
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely I can definitely see that. Which hearkens back to the old Bay Area days when if you weren’t Exodus or Metallica onstage everyone would stand with their backs to you and just wait for the band they came to see get onstage…
BRIAN FAIR: Totally it’s just like the opening band getting “Slayer” chanted at them for the entire set. It is definitely some tough spots…Those are the shows that when you do come out and win a crowd over like that, those are some of your best successes. We must have kicked ass tonight because these dudes don’t give a cr-… they don’t care about anybody!
AWAY-TEAM: So I see you guys are performing some off dates while you’re on this festival getting back into the clubs up close and personal with the audience. Everybody wants to be a rockstar, everybody wants to play in front of 60,000 people every night, but which is the better show for you? In the club in front of 300 people nose to nose and fist to fist or something like Mayhem playing for 10 20 30,000 people a night?
BRIAN FAIR: You know for me it really goes both ways. But I definitely grew up playing small, small shows and going to a lot of small, small shows. So to me that’s really probably my comfort zone. The people are there to see you and are right up there supporting and in your face. But there’s something about like… we played a festival in Columbia last week where there was 150,000 people. And just seeing that, there’s really nothing cooler you know? There’s just so much energy and it’s so overwhelming you can barely even focus on one point out in the crowd. Its just so huge and it really can go both ways, but we played a packed club show in Brazil the day before and it was insane! There was so much energy, so much sweat, kids up on the stage and that vibe it brought me back to why I started doing this to begin with. So they both really have a place in my heart but I’d probably always feel more comfortable in a club.
AWAY-TEAM: So how does that change your approach to the show? I mean if you look out from the stage and you see 150,000 people out there how do you connect with that 150,000th person?
BRIAN FAIR: You do have to change the way you do it cuz in the club show you can be standing on the barricade and getting the crowd physically involved in the show so there’s not as much of just a focal point on you. At the big festival there’s a giant security barriers so the focus is just on you, every gesture is a little bigger and you do have to remind yourself to keep connecting with the crowd cuz it is so big. You try to involve them as much as possible, cuz it is really it is a completely different animal. The crowd isn’t part of the show at those big festivals until you make them part of it. Whereas in the club there’s no escape, they’re shoved right up in your face.
AWAY-TEAM: You recently completed your first headlining tour of Canada. Where haven’t you played yet that you really want to?
BRIAN FAIR: You know after doing South America, that was a big checkmark! We went down just recently and did Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. That was amazing! I can’t believe it took us almost 15 years to get down there. For now we have an offer for a festival in China that we hopefully can work out cuz that to me, the fact that we’ve already gone to the Philippines, Korea and all these places I never thought metal would take me, if we can get to China I’m like, ‘Alright now we’re just really we’re runnin’ out of places we’re going to have to play for the penguins down in Antarctica next’.
AWAY-TEAM: That would be really cool, a festival in China wow!
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah that would be amazing!
AWAY-TEAM: So how do you personally get through the monotony of a day on the road without a show?
BRIAN FAIR: That’s why we sold so many off dates. I hate downtime on the road! You usually end up at a Wal-Mart wasting money on DVDs or looking for a movie theater.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the one thing you can’t live without on the road?
BRIAN FAIR: Let’s see, I’d probably say my pipe but I’d also include my skateboard in that too so…
AWAY-TEAM: And not necessarily in that order right?
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah yeah yeah! And I usually try to keep them separate too!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s probably smartest.
BRIAN FAIR: Choppin’ it on a vert ramp all day can be end up really ending tragically. Although it does still happen from time to time.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s your favorite song to perform live and why?
BRIAN FAIR: You know right now it’s actually been the song War which is sorta, I can’t call it a Bob Marley cover, I adapted some of the lyrics from his version of the Haile Selassie speech that he used in his song, War, but it’s just balls out like definitely the fastest Marley cover ever. And for me the crowd is just like a nonstop circle pit. So it’s a great one to just throw out there and it’s also one of those 3 minute just punch in the throat and then you’re out.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the one song you didn’t write that you wish you did?
BRIAN FAIR: Pretty much anything on Master of Puppets!
AWAY-TEAM: And my last question for you, what’s the worst name of a band you’ve ever been in?
BRIAN FAIR: Worst name of a band I’ve ever been in? Social Violation. It was a punk rock band when I was literally like probably 12 years old. At one point my whole thing was hitting the guitar with all the distortion up with drumsticks, thinking it was some art scene noise thing. It’s like no, you just don’t know how to hold it!
AWAY-TEAM: Well Brian I appreciate it man good luck out on the road with the Mayhem Festival. You’ve got a DVD coming out ‘Madness in Manila’ next month on the 24th of August good luck with that!
BRIAN FAIR: It’s actually getting pushed back, it’s actually getting pushed back a little bit. We just found a bunch more footage that we had to include so we’re going to actually push the date back a little bit to the fall but ‘Madness in Manila’ is coming.
AWAY-TEAM: I look forward to it! I’ve seen you guys 2 or 3 times, I’ve produced a couple of shows with you and Lacuna Coil in the North Carolina area and I’m looking forward to seeing you guys August 3rd in Raleigh , NC.
BRIAN FAIR: Indeed man it’s going to be a good time! I remember those shows those were good shows! Man, that’s killer!
AWAY-TEAM: Good luck, be safe, and we’ll see you soon.
BRIAN FAIR: Indeed man thanks for spreading the word, we appreciate it!
My thanks to Natalie at Adrenaline PR for the hook up, my transcriptionist extraordinaire melissa for the 15 pages, and Brian Fair for taking the time out of a busy schedule to throw down a great interview.
For more on Shadows Fall click here.
For Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival dates click here.
Sweden’s SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - featuring guitarist Michael Amott (ARCH ENEMY, CARCASS) and bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy, WITCHERY) – started working with Apollo Papathanasio (FIREWIND) as a new singer after parting ways with JB (GRAND MAGUS) and finished the recordings of their 7th studio-album at Sweetspot Studio with producer Rickard Bengtsson, who already produced the On Fire (2002) and Demons (2005) albums, and is also known for his work with Arch Enemy, OPETH, etc.
“The new Spiritual Beggars album is to my ears some of best stuff I’ve ever done with this band and I’m very much looking forward to releasing the seventh Spiritual Beggars studio album, Return To Zero, with the help and expertise of the InsideOut team! At the end of the day it was a no-brainer to do a new licensing deal with the InsideOut label, they did a great job on the Demons album and the Live Fire! DVD (2006). Since then, they have merged with the Century Media company whom I have a long and successful history with. I already know a lot of the people that will be involved in this release, and that feels good.” says founding member Michael Amott. “I respect InsideOut label boss Thomas Waber for being a true music fan and for his undying enthusiasm and efforts in making this deal happen.”
Also Thomas Waber (IOM) is really happy about re-signing a deal with Spiritual Beggars and welcomes the band again to the InsideOut roster. “We had a great experience with the Demons album and are looking forward to working the new one as well. After all the turmoil last year, things are back on top and better than ever and Spiritual Beggars will no doubt benefit from this!”
The new album, Return To Zero, will be released on August 30th in Europe. In an interview with the Japanese Burrn! Magazine Michael Amott talks about the new singer Apollo and the new album and gives a short impression of how the album sounds like “Apollo‘s influences are very much rooted in the classic rock and metal of the 70s and 80s. He is the same age as the rest of us in Spiritual Beggars so we instantly shared a lot of common ground musically, and he really connected with the songs and delivered emotional vocals that really impressed us all. I was always aware of the fact that he is great singer. However, even I was surprised how well his voice fit Spiritual Beggars, in the new and the old songs. Apollo is showing a range and depth on this album that I believe will both surprise and please the Spiritual Beggars fans! The new album has a lot of the typical Spiritual Beggars trademarks, it’s heavy rock with a 70s atmosphere – but I also hear a definite progression and a deeper sense of melody in the songwriting and performances. It’s exactly the kind of record I wanted to make with Spiritual Beggars in 2010!”
For more information on SPIRITUAL BEGGARS visit their MySpace page here.
IN THIS MOMENT have launched the new video for ‘The Gun Show‘, taken from their new album A Star-Crossed Wasteland.
A Star-Crossed Wasteland is set for release on July 10th across Europe via Century Media and the 13th in North America via Nuclear Blast.
A Star-Crossed Wasteland tracklisting:
‘A Star-Crossed Wasteland’
‘The Last Cowboy’
‘World In Flames’
Current IN THIS MOMENT tour dates:
Jul 10 2010 San Manuel Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest San Bernardino, California, US
Jul 11 2010 Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Mountain View,, California, US
Jul 12 2010 Hawthorne Theater- w/ Norma Jean Portland, OR
Jul 13 2010 White River Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest Southeast Auburn, Washington, US
Jul 14 2010 Idaho Center Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest Nampa, Idaho , US
Jul 16 2010 Cricket Wireless Pavilion – Mayhem Fest Phoenix, Arizona , US
Jul 17 2010 Journal Pavilion – Mayhem Fest Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Jul 18 2010 Comfort Dental Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Denver, Colorado , US
Jul 20 2010 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest St. Louis, Missouri , US
Jul 21 2010 Riverbend Music Center – Mayhem Fest Cincinnati, Ohio , US
Jul 23 2010 Susquehanna Bank Center – Mayhem Fest Camden, New Jersey, US
Jul 24 2010 The Comcast Theatre – Mayhem Fest Hartford, Connecticu, US
Jul 25 2010 Parc Jean Drapeau -Heavy MTL 2010 Montreal, Quebec , CA
Jul 26 2010 The Lost Horizon- w/Norma Jean Syracuse, NY
Jul 27 2010 Comcast Center – Mayhem Fest Mansfield, Massachuse, US
Jul 28 2010 P.N.C. Bank Arts Center – Mayhem Fest Holmdel, New Jersey, US
Jul 30 2010 First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Tinley Park, Illinois , US
Jul 31 2010 Verizon Wireless Music Center – Mayhem Fest Noblesville, Indiana , US
Aug 1 2010 Lakewood Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Atlanta, Georgia , US
Aug 2 2010 Amo’s South End- w/Chimaira/Norma Jean Charlotte, NC
Aug 3 2010 Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek – Mayhem Fest Raleigh, North Caro, US
Aug 4 2010 Virginia Beach Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest Virginia Beach, Virginia , US
Aug 6 2010 DTE Energy Music Theatre – Mayhem Fest Clarkston, Michigan , US
Aug 7 2010 Post Gazette Pavilion At Star Lake – Mayhem Fest Pittsburgh, Pennsylvan, US
Aug 8 2010 Jiffy Lube Live – Mayhem Fest Bristow, Virginia , US
Aug 9 2010 New Brookland Tavern- w/Norma Jean Columbia, SC
Aug 10 2010 Ford Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Tampa, Florida , US
Aug 11 2010 Cruzan Amphitheater – Mayhem Fest West Palm Beach, Florida , US
Aug 13 2010 Superpages.com Center – Mayhem Fest Dallas, Texas , US
Aug 14 2010 Zoo Amphitheatre – Mayhem Fest Oklahoma City, Oklahoma , US
For more information on IN THIS MOMENT check out their website here.
Century Media Records is proud to announce the following songs for all Rockband X-Box 360 users. Music from current genre leaders SUICIDE SILENCE, WINDS OF PLAGUE and IN THIS MOMENT can now be purchased for game play at the links below.
This marks the first round of Century Media artist songs available for the Rock Band Network. Fans are encouraged to submit artist and song requests for Rock Band here.
See below for a list of all CM tracks that are currently available. Stay tuned in the coming months for new tracks from IWABO, Nevermore, Warbringer and many more.