Grammy-nominated alternative metal band SPINESHANK, known for selling hundreds of thousands of records internationally and touring with Slipknot, System of a Down, Sepultura, Disturbed and more, are set to release their upcoming album, Anger Denial Acceptance next year, but are first looking for a new record label to call home. The record will be the fourth album from the Los Angeles natives, and is a testament to the hard work ethic that the band has been known for since the inception of SPINESHANK in the late 1990’s.
After releasing three successful albums (Strictly Diesel, The Height Of Callousness, and Self-Destructive Pattern), performing on countless world tours (including appearances on Ozzfest and the Download Festival), and a Grammy nomination in 2004, the band went on a hiatus. Currently re-grouped, the band is ready to kick their new music into high gear in 2012. Produced by Mike Sarkisyan and Tommy Decker and mixed by Mike Plotnikoff (Papa Roach, Buckcherry), Anger Denial Acceptance promises to surpass everyone’s expectation of what SPINESHANK is capable of.
“The songs on this record are more personal than anything we’ve ever done, and I think it shows when we play them live,” states drummer Tommy Decker. “This is our most varied and challenging record yet, and I can’t wait to get out there and bring these new songs to life.”
“We’re not interested in living in the past, we want to push forward,” adds guitarist Mike Sarkisyan. “We just finished the best record of our careers and we’re really excited to get it out there.”
SPINESHANK tour dates:
10/4 Kearney, NE @ The Garage
10/5 Des Moines, IA @ House of Bricks
10/6 Fargo, ND @ Nester’s
10/7 Chicago, IL @ Elbo Room
10/8 Janesville, WI @ Back Bar
10/9 Joliet, IL @ Bada Brew
10/10 Kansas City, KS @ AfterShock
10/11 Tulsa, OK @ Marquee
10/13 Dallas, TX @ Trees
10/14 Oklahoma City, OK @ Big Papa’s Poor House
10/15 Amarillo, TX @ Sorority House
10/17 El Paso, TX @ House of Rock
10/18 Albuquerque, NM @ The Amped
10/19 Phoenix, AZ @ Clubhouse
10/20 Rancho, CA @ McAlans Pub
10/21 San Diego, CA @ Ruby Room
10/22 Fresno, CA @ Woodward Park
10/25 Los Angeles, CA @ Whisky a Go Go
For more SPINESHANK click here.
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.
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.
As it turns out, the levees broke long before Katrina. In the ’80s and ’90s, New Orleans birthed musical lineages that would haunt the underground and rule the world. Detuned and devastating, they rose from the swamps and from the amplifiers of men who knelt at the altar of The Almighty Riff. Who toiled in their Iommic studies and learned those lessons as if their lives depended upon them. They populated and propagated the pedigrees that brought you the dope-sick sludge of Eyehategod, the cinder-block doom of Crowbar, the brash Southern crossover of Corrosion of Conformity (via North Carolina) and the platinum power-grooves of Pantera (via Dallas, Texas). That’d be Jimmy Bower, Kirk Windstein, Pepper Keenan, Rex Brown and Philip Anselmo, more or less. But mostly more.
For the members of DOWN, it’s home. Sweet home. It’s ground zero. For a state of mind beset on all sides by too much tepid water, too many pills, barely enough weed and never enough Black Sabbath. Yeah, it might seem like the only way you could draw a straight line between the industrial wasteland of Birmingham, England—birthplace of Sabbath (and Judas Priest) to the festering cultural bouillabaisse of the Big Easy would be with a pencil and a ruler, but that ain’t necessarily the case. At least not since DOWN have been around, which by all accounts dates back to 1991, when then-Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo and Corrosion of Conformity frontman Pepper Keenan would trade tapes and listen to the doom-ridden prophecies of certified Sabbath heads like Saint Vitus and Trouble as well as Pentagram. Therein lies the genesis of DOWN, the eternal brotherhood into which Bower, Windstein and (eventually) Brown were later initiated.
Which is to say Sabbath is pretty much the key here, the origin of the bloodline, as it were. As loud and heavy and stoned and powerful as you can handle it. The coda to the film in this very package tells the tale: “Bust Up, Tune Down, Sabb Off.” And as DOWN’s 2004 Ozzfest appearance indicated, the Drab Four smile upon DOWN like DOWN smiles upon their own many and misbegotten spawn: the fans getting their faces ruled at the shows on this DVD, the kids who started bands after being inspired by what they heard; the kids who aren’t kids anymore but grown-ass men with highly respected (and respectable) musical outfits of their own. The names are many—too many to mention here, perhaps—but they wear their DOWN t-shirts (and DOWN tattoos) with pride.
But we were talking about New Orleans, where the wards teem with secrets and crawl with ghosts. You can see ’em in the Clarence John Laughlin photographs that grace the inner sleeve of DOWN’s unstoppable 1995 debut, NOLA. The product of floods, sweat and beers, it was an album of wall-to-wall motherfuckers without a filler cut in the bunch. From the towering Vitus-inspired doom of “Temptation’s Wings” and thundering power-grooves of “Lifer” and “Underneath Everything” to the haunting thickly muscled swamp-swing of “Stone the Crow” and the ultimate reefer death-dirge that is “Bury Me In Smoke,” the album chiseled a template in granite like a headstone in a potter’s field.
DOWN played roughly 25 shows between ’91 and ’02, with Crowbar bassist Todd Strange holding down the low end with all 400 or so pounds of his substantial girth. But soon Anselmo, Keenan, Windstein, and Bower were crisscrossing the globe in their other bands, and Down was necessarily placed on the proverbial back burner, a “side project” that looked increasingly like a one-off as the years passed and the individual members soldiered through the hard-won triumphs and squalid tribulations of the lifer experience. And yet in 2002, DOWN emerged from their self-enforced slumber with DOWN II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow—and with Anselmo’s Pantera bandmate Rex Brown now on bass. Not unlike its predecessor, the album unleashed gargantuan bolts of detuned lightning like “Lysergick Funeral Procession,” “Ghosts Along The Mississippi” and “New Orleans Is A Dying Whore.” DOWN, it would seem, were back, edging ever closer to something like full-time status. But it was not to be. Not yet, anyway.
The day of reckoning came in 2005, when DOWN reunited in the wake of Pantera’s permanent and untimely demise. The following year—that’s The Year Of VI in Down-speak—the band stomped all over Europe for six straight weeks while a crack camera crew shot the concert film you currently hold in your sweaty paws with a certain sense of anticipation that can only be satisfied by pressing PLAY. Performing sold-out shows across the Old World with no promotion, no record label and no opening band, DOWN tore new ones from Hamburg to Stockholm and back again, culminating in an unannounced set in front of untold tens of thousands on the main stage at the Download Festival in Leicestershire, England. What you’ll witness on the enclosed audio-visual extravaganza is the unvarnished (“sour notes and screw-ups included,” Anselmo tells us) deliverance of the fucking goods from that six-week excursion, the merciless reaming of an entire continent, and the true grit of five lifers in the Brotherhood Of Eternal Sleep.
In Cologne, Germany, Anselmo sends “Lifer” out to fallen Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was gunned down onstage in Ohio in 2004, “and all our other brothers we lost along the goddamn way.” There’s Keenan, a close-up of his grizzled mug. And that fucking riff. The one from “Lifer” gets us every goddamn time.
Nottingham’s Rock City gets a face-full of “New Orleans Is A Dying Whore.” Keenan and Windstein churn out the opening salvo like it owes them money, on twin SGs, no less. In Copenhagen, the lighters come out for “Jail.” Backstage, the living legends of Europe’s metal underground turn out in force. There’s Cronos from Venom in Manchester, England. The dudes from Witchcraft in Stockholm. The black metal trifecta of Fenriz (Darkthrone), Satyr (Satyricon) and Frost (Satyricon, Gorgoroth, 1349) in Oslo.
At Download, Bower’s drums sound like fucking cannons and Rex’s bass, bulldozing. It’s “Bury Me In Smoke,” the grand finale to end all grand finales—and a sea of thousands to match a riff a thousand years wide. It’s before noon and the sun is blazing, cooking all that tender British flesh to an angry pink crisp. There’s a pit … make that several pits. There’s a false start, followed by threats and allegations. But the riff rides out, steamrolling everything, transcending all. And then the band’s performance and purpose is cemented as Anselmo tells the swirling masses, “Live long, live legendary.”
These are the precise words DOWN lives by.
Los Angeles, 2010
Diary of a Mad Band hits stores on October 5th, and features a 2 CD full concert, live in London! The DVD highlights documented footage marking the 2006 return of DOWN from the practice room through their first European tour, and a bonus behind-the-scenes featurette entitled ‘Tyrades and Shananigans’. The DVD closes in at a blistering 130 minutes!
DVD: Diary of a Mad Band
w/ BONUS DVD FEATURETTE ‘Tyrades and Shananigans’
1. Lysergic Funeral Procession
3. Losing All
5. New Orleans Is A Dying Whore
6. Ghosts Along The Mississippi
7. Learn From This Mistake
8. Underneath Everything
9. Temptation’s Wings
10. There’s Something On My Side
11. Hail The Leaf
13. The Seed
14. Eyes Of The South
16. Stone The Crows
17. Bury Me In Smoke
2 CD: LIVE IN EUROPE
1. Losing All
3. Lysergic Funeral Procession
5. Temptations Wings
6. Ghosts Along The Mississippi
7. Learn From This Mistake
8. Hail The Leaf
9. New Orleans Is A Dying Whore
10. Lies, I Don’t Know What They Say But…
11. Underneath Everything
12. The Seed
13. Eyes Of The South
15. Stone The Crows
16. Bury Me In Smoke
SHINEDOWN’S Zach Myers-”Bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk politics should be shot!”
Atlantic recording artists Shinedown formed in Jacksonville, FL in 2001. Since then, they have released three albums full of countless hits, such as “Fly from the Inside”, “45″, ”Save Me”, and more recently “Devour”, “The Crow and the Butterfly”, and who could forget their brilliant cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man”. All the while they have been touring their asses off, and playing in front of packed houses, and surprisingly enough none of them have included me. I don’t know how it came to be that I never had the chance to get out and see these guys, but I can’t believe what great shows I’ve missed. That being said, it should come as no surprise that when the opportunity arose to interview guitarist Zach Myers at a stop on this summer’s Carnival of Madness tour, I jumped at the chance. Here’s how it all went down as Zach and I talked about everything from the tour, to Ozzy, to oil spills.
AWAY-TEAM: First off, I’d like to congratulate you on the tour, and the success of the fifth single off “The Sound of Madness” , “The Crow and the Butterfly”. I saw that it just hit number one on the Active Rock charts, and it’s poised to do the same on the Mainstream Rock chart.
ZACH MYERS: Thanks. That’s five number ones on this record, we’re so very blessed, and we’re really excited. And now we just found out they’re gonna release one more single, so we’re gonna go for six.
AWAY-TEAM: Can you tell me what that’s gonna be?
ZACH MYERS: I think it’s gonna be “Breaking Inside”, but I’m not sure. I can’t confirm that, but I think that’s what it is.
AWAY-TEAM: So six singles AND you’re gonna knock Ozzy off the top spot. That’s pretty cool.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We did already, actually, on Active Rock. Sorry Ozzy.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Back to the tour, you guys have assembled a killer lineup, how did this all happen?
ZACH MYERS: The idea came up…Brent (frontman Brent Smith) wanted to do a festival tour, our manager also wanted to do a festival tour, our manager manages all of these bands. So it was pretty easy to put together, ya know what I mean, it was all in house. It was cool man. It was something that we asked all these bands, we picked the bands. It was a fun idea, when we put it all together, and ya know the best thing about the summer is festivals. And these are all bands that would be on a festival anyway, so we went to every single one of them and said “Why don’t we put on a festival. Our own festival, and travel around” The backstage vibe is way cooler like that. Festivals are just like class reunions, you get together and see all your friends again, so why not have that for a couple months. So it was a very easy idea to put together. It was a no-brainer.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you thought summer festivals were fun. Is this something that you plan to do annually?
ZACH MYERS: It is gonna be an annual thing. But it’s gonna be almost like when Limp Bizkit did the uh…
AWAY-TEAM: Family Values?
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We’re not gonna be on it every year. I know that we probably won’t be on it next year, but the following year we’ll probably do it.
AWAY-TEAM: So kinda “One on, one off”?
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. But it will be an annual thing. The Carnival will be an annual event, but who headlines will be different from year to year.
AWAY-TEAM: With Ozzfest kinda winding it’s way down, it seems like the perfect replacement.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and you never know, maybe we could move it to like two or three stages. We would all love that.
AWAY-TEAM: That’d be great. In ten words or less, what can a fan expect to see at the Carnival of Madness?
ZACH MYERS: Madness. It’s a carnival. (laughs) Um. Loud. (pauses) Five of the greatest live shows you’ve ever seen.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys had a Live DVD that was scrapped back in 2007. Any chance we’ll get a Live DVD/Album from this tour?
ZACH MYERS: I can tell you that we’re gonna record a couple shows. DVD’s are so hard pressed now with labels, because they don’t really make any money off of them. They put money into them but they really, no matter how many you sell of them, it’s not like the old days where when you sell a concert DVD, you can’t really sell a million copies of one. Ya know what I mean? I couldn’t tell you the last person who did that in the last ten years, so. We actually talked about doing it ourselves, and funding it ourselves. This is way too cool of a show to not put out a DVD of some sort. If there’s not a DVD, after this we’re doing an acoustic tour and we’re definitely gonna film alot of that, so…
ZACH MYERS: Umm. At the earliest, I would say at the end of 2011. At the very earliest. We’re gonna take October off, and go write in L.A. We’ve been writing alot anyway, we wrote the Alice in Wonderland song (“Her Name is Alice”), we’ve written “Diamond Eyes” for The Expendables. But yeah, we’re gonna go write in October, then we’re gonna go do this acoustic tour, and then I think we’re gonna wind it down in about mid-December. Kinda take a break, take about a month or two off, and then start it all back over again.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys recently joined the ever growing list of bands that are boycotting BP Petroleum…
ZACH MYERS: I don’t know where this is coming from.
AWAY-TEAM: Not true?
ZACH MYERS: No. We’ve been asked that like five times. I don’t know where… I disagree with it, I think it’s completely fucked. We all live in the south, so ya know that’s our home…Do I get gas at BP when I’m home? No.
AWAY-TEAM: So I guess the question still does apply. If you had the podium at a BP board meeting, what would you say to them?
ZACH MYERS: What can you say? Who’s fault is it? It’s really not their fault. In all honesty, it’s not their fault when something like that happens. It’s a natural disaster, they didn’t pop the cap off the thing. But it is their fault for not fixing it sooner, or not having a plan in place. They really, if they would’ve kept their mouths shut, then it would’ve been fine. But this guy kept going on and saying things like “There’s more shrimp in Louisiana”. This guy’s an idiot, ya know what I mean? He’s put his foot in his mouth so many times. When you’re the head of a company and you have to have security to escort you back to Europe so people don’t kill you, it’s because you’ve opened your mouth too much. But no, as a band we can’t get involved in that. It’s not our place, we’re not a political band. The most political we’ve ever been is “Devour” and that’s just us talking about what WE saw when WE were in Iraq. But other than that, we’re not a political band, it’s not our business. Eric (bassist Eric Bass) and I are very political as people, but we don’t bring that into the band. You don’t talk about politics, and you don’t talk about religion, that’s just something that you don’t do.
AWAY-TEAM: This is your work. You don’t talk politics at work.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk about politics should be shot! I’m sorry, it’s people that pay to hear you bitch? So what? No one cares! U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, and yeah Bono will slip things in here and there, but he doesn’t take half an hour. And that’s the thing about it, it’s finding that line, ya know. Some bands don’t do that.
AWAY-TEAM: Well thanks, man. I’m looking forward to the show tonight, and thanks for your time. Have a good show.
ZACH MYERS: Thank you very much. We’ll do our best. This is only our third show of the tour, so we’ll see how it goes.
AWAY-TEAM: Just warming up.
ZACH MYERS: Just warming up, and my whole body hurts already. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey Zach thanks alot. It’s been a pleasure.
ZACH MYERS: Thanks. I appreciate it.
For more Shinedown, including Tour Dates and to purchase their music visit http://www.shinedown.com/
Special thanks to Zach Myers for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.
Montreal based extreme metallers KATAKLYSM recently wrapped up their first ever run of Ozzfest tour dates! Vocalist Maurizio Iacono recently commented on the bands experience playing the U.S.’ biggest traveling metal festival:
“We didn’t know what to expect going into Ozzfest . Already being invited was an amazing moment for us but we did our thing and it was monstrous! Kids were going crazy and we couldn’t have been more happy. I don’t know why it took over 15 years for someone to give us a real chance here but I want to give a big thank you to John Fenton, Sharon Osborne and everyone from Ozzfest camp for this opportunity. We stood strong and made loads of new fans! Now we’re going to continue on our quest across the US with DEVILDRIVER and KITTIE for the next three weeks. Hope to see all you fuckers out there! Heaven’s Venom just came out yesterday in America so go get it and come check us out live. The new tracks are shredding!”
Heaven’s Venom was released on August 13th in Europe and August 24th in North America. The follow-up to 2008’s Prevail, was recorded by KATAKLYSM guitarist J-F Dagenais (MALEVOLENT CREATION, MISERY INDEX) and was mixed by Tue Madsen (THE HAUNTED, MNEMIC, DARK TRANQUILLITY).
Heaven’s Venom track listing:
1. A Soulless God
2. Determined (Vows of Vengeance)
3. Faith Made of Shrapnel
4. Push the Venom
5. Hail the Renegade
6. As the Walls Collapse
7. Numb & Intoxicated
8. At the Edge of the World
9. Suicide River
10. Blind Savior
DEVILDRIVER, KATAKLYSM, KITTIE, MISERY dates:
08/25/10 Eleanor Rigby’s Bar & Nightclub – Jermyn, PA
08/26/10 London Music Hall – London, ON
08/27/10 Al Rosa Villa – Columbus, OH
08/28/10 Harpo’s – Detroit, MI
08/29/10 Peabody’s Down Under – Cleveland, OH
08/30/10 Pop’s – St. Louis, MO
08/31/10 Scout Bar – Houston, TX
09/01/10 Scout Bar – San Antonio, TX
09/02/10 Trees – Dallas, TX
09/03/10 The Pavilion @ Concrete Street – Corpus Christi, TX
09/04/10 Jake’s – Lubbock, TX
09/05/10 Dos Amigos – Odessa, TX
09/06/10 The Marquee – Tulsa, OK
09/07/10 People’s Court – Des Moines, IA
09/08/10 Robert’s Off 10 – Mounds View, MN
09/09/10 Nutty’s North – Sioux Falls, SD
09/10/10 The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
09/11/10 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
09/13/10 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
09/14/10 Berbati’s Pan – Portland, OR
09/15/10 The Boardwalk – Orangevale, CA
09/16/10 The Key Club – Hollywood, CA
KATAKLYSM recently shot a video clip for the song “Push The Venom” with director Ivan Colic (TYPE O NEGATIVE, UNLEASHED, DEATHSTARS, EX DEO) in Belgrade, Serbia.
For more KATAKLYSM click here.
A. Why was Jada and her band even on Ozzfest?
B. It was FIVE years ago!
C. Why is she STILL talking about it now? Nobody cared then, and nobody cares NOW!
And here is the press release:
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith (wife of Will Smith) has revealed to UsMagazine.com that her favorite heavy metal bands are MASTODON, CROWBAR and SKINDRED.
During an appearance on the June 28, 2010 edition of “Lopez Tonight“, comedian George Lopez‘s new talk show on TBS, Jada Pinkett Smith spoke about the experience of performing on the second stage of 2005′s Ozzfest with her nu-metal rock band WICKED WISDOM.
“At first it was a little rough,” she admitted. “I was getting death threats and all kinds of things But we went out there and after the first week, we got our feet on the ground. We finished in Florida, and we made … somewhat of an impression.”
In a June 2006 interview with KNAC.COM, Jada stated about playing the 2005 installment of Ozzy Osbourne‘s travelling festival, “It’s so funny, because most of the bands at Ozzfest were so laid back. It’s amazing to see that transformation in all the bands …leaving backstage and going onstage. It’s two different energies. Every band that was on Ozzfest [in 2005] was just great and really wonderful to us. And I know it was probably really hard for them, because it was just like, ‘What is this? We got Jada out here? This is bizarre.’ But everybody was so cool and we had such a good time. We really did. AS I LAY DYING was really supportive, too.”
Sorry to waste your time. I just had to post this because it made me laugh so hard.
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.
“With the release of Heaven’s Venom coming in the next few weeks we’re going to start the touring campaign with a bang,” commented KATAKLYSM vocalist Maurizio Iacono. “First with the almighty Ozzfest and then we’re going to keep the metal flow by joining DEVILDRIVER for a full coast to coast North American tour! Last time we toured together it was a bombastic combo so we’re excited to do this once more. The new album is tailored for the live setting and the assault will be deadly. See you fuckers there!”
DEVILDRIVER, KATAKLYSM, SKELETONWITCH, SAVIOURS dates:
08/10/10 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
08/11/10 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
08/12/10 Marquee Theater – Tempe, AZ
08/18/10 Headliners Music Hall – Louisville, KY + SHADOWS FALL
08/20/10 Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY + KINGDOM OF SORROW
08/23/10 Recher Theater – Towson, MD
DEVILDRIVER, KATAKLYSM, MISERY dates:
08/25/10 Eleanor Rigby’s Bar & Nightclub – Jermyn, PA
08/26/10 London Music Hall – London, ON – CANADA
08/27/10 Al Rosa Villa – Columbus, OH
08/28/10 Harpo’s – Detroit, MI
08/29/10 Peabody’s Down Under – Cleveland, OH
08/31/10 Scout Bar – Houston, TX
09/01/10 Scout Bar – San Antonio, TX
09/02/10 Trees – Dallas, TX
09/03/10 The Pavilion @ Concrete Street – Corpus Christi, TX
09/04/10 Dos Amigos – Odessa, TX
09/05/10 Jake’s – Lubbock, TX
09/07/10 People’s Court – Des Moines, IA
09/10/10 The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
09/11/10 The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT
09/13/10 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
09/15/10 The Boardwalk – Orangevale, CA
09/16/10 The Key Club – Hollywood, CA
From June 21st – June 29th, Metal God Records and Rob Halford invite all unsigned, North American hard rock and metal bands to send an e-mail which must include: Your name and contact details, urls to your photos and music to: SFOpeningAct@RobHalford.com
The selected band will receive $500 for its performance, and the selected band must cover all expenses to and from the San Francisco Regency Ballroom on July 17th, 2010. Additional conditions apply.
Rob Halford will select the winning band on Thursday, July 1st.
For more information go to robhalford.com
14 – San Manuel Amphitheater – San Bernardino, CA (OZZFest)
17 – First Midwest Bank Amphitheater – Tinley Park (Chicago), IL (OZZFest)
19 – First Niagra Pavillion – Burgettstown, PA (OZZFest)
21 – Comcast Theater – Hartford, CT (OZZFest)
22 – Susquehanna – Camden, NJ (OZZFest)
24 – Comcast Center – Mansfield, MA (OZZFest)
For more information on Rob Halford visit his official website here.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, CLUTCH, CHILDREN OF BODOM, & 2 CENTS announce North American ‘Black Label Berzerkus’ tour
Zakk Wylde will launch the Black Label Berzerkus this fall, headlined by Wylde’s Black Label Society. The two-month North American tour will feature Clutch, Children Of Bodom and 2Cents, with the first two bands sharing the main support slot.
AEG Live, Live Nation and independents will promote dates on the tour, which is booked by Tim Borror at the Agency Group. “This is my first run working with the Black Label Society team and, not that I didn’t know it already, but once you get past scratching the surface you really see how vital this band is and what a huge icon Zakk is,” says Borror, who expresses confidence in a lineup that boasts “big guitar player profile” in Wylde and COB’s Alexi Laiho.
“This tour has more to offer than most, and I think we have a package that is going to wake people up to what BLS and the bands Zakk chose as support are capable of doing,” Borror tells Billboard.biz. “This new BLS record is incredible, and with everything that is going on with this band right now, BLS will be at their height and rising at the end 2010 leading into 2011.”
The tour begins Sept. 21 at Roseland in Portland, Ore., following Wylde’s work on the Ozzfest and headlining BLS dates. Black Label Society‘s first new album in four years, “Order of the Black,” will be released in North America on E1 Music on Aug. 10.
Pre-sales begin at blsnation.com today, with on sales to the general public to begin June 25.
Here are tour dates for Black Label Berzerkus 2010:
Sept. 21: Roseland (Portland, Ore.)
Sept. 22: PNE Forum (Vancouver)
Sept. 24: Edmonton EXPO Centre Hall D Arena (Edmonton, AB)
Sept. 25: Agribition Hall (Regina, SK)
Sept. 26: Big 4 (Calgary, AB)
Sept. 28: Winnipeg Convention Centre (Winnipeg, MB)
Sept. 30: Anchor Inn (Omaha, Neb.)
Oct. 1: 7 Flags (Clive, Iowa)
Oct. 2: Eagles Ballroom (Milwaukee)
Oct. 3: Roy Wilkins Auditorium (St. Paul, Minn.)
Oct. 5: Expo Five (Louisville, Ky.)
Oct. 8: Convention Hall (Asbury Park, N.J.)
Oct. 9: The Colisee (Lewiston, Maine)
Oct. 12: Cunard Centre (Halifax, NS)
Oct. 14: Metropolis (Montreal)
Oct. 15: Sound Academy (Toronto)
Oct. 16: Sound Academy (Toronto)
Oct. 20: Hammerstein Ballroom (New York)
Oct. 22: House of Blues (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Oct. 23: Masquerade Music Park (Atlanta)
Oct. 24: The Fillmore Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
Oct. 26: Hard Rock (Orlando, Fla.)
Oct. 28: Verizon Wireless Theater (Houston)
Oct. 29: Concrete St. Ampitheater (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Oct. 30: Verizon Theatre @ Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas)
Oct. 31: Lonestar Pavilion (Lubbock, Texas)
Nov. 2: Stubbs Waller Creek Ampitheater (Austin, Texas)
Nov. 3: Brady Center (Tusla, Okla.)
Nov. 5: DeltaPlex (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Nov. 7: The Fillmore Detroit (Detroit)
Nov. 9: Main Street Armory (Rochester, N.Y.)
Nov. 10: The LC Pavilion (Columbus, Ohio)
Nov. 12: Cotilion (Wichita, Kan.)
Nov. 13: Uptown Theater (Kansas City, Kan.)
Nov. 14: The Fillmore Auditorium (Denver)
Nov. 16: The Complex (Salt Lake City)
Nov. 18: Dodge Theatre (Phoenix)
Nov. 20: Warfield (San Francisco)
For more information go to blsnation.com
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY set to release Order Of The Black… Special Thor’s Hammer box set pre order ready
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY‘s eighth studio album, Order Of The Black, is available for pre-order here as a Thor’s Hammer Box Set including:
3 Nail Cross Pendant (1.5” Pendant)
5×7” Lithograph autographed by Zakk Wylde
Keg Tap Handle (12” made of wood)
Order Of The Black CD
BLS will headline the Second Stage at this year’s Ozzfest. Dates are as follows:
14 – San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater
17 – Chicago, IL – First Midwest Bank Amp.
19 – Pittsburg, PA – First Niagara Pavilion
21 – Hartford, CT – Comcast Theater
22 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna
24 – Boston, MA – Comcast Center
For more information on Black Label Society visit their official website here.
KATAKLYSM recently wrapped up recording Heaven’s Venom – the follow-up to 2008’s Prevail – which will be released on August 20th in Europe and August 24th in North America. Heaven’s Venom was recorded by KATAKLYSM guitarist J-F Dagenais (Malevolent Creation, Misery Index) and is currently being mixed by Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Mnemic, Dark Tranquillity):
New Orleans, Louisiana’s sons of American no-frills black metal meets death and roll, GOATWHORE, are confirmed to play the second stage on the infamous OZZFest summer tour alongside Black Label Society, Drowning Pool, Kingdom of Sorrow, Skeletonwitch, Saviours, and Kataklysm. OZZFest 2010 will kick off August 14 in San Bernardino, CA (the birthplace of the first OZZFest in 1996) and then make stops in Chicago, IL, Hartford, CT, Camden, NJ, Pittsburgh, PA and Boston, MA.
The main stage will feature full sets from Ozzy, Mötley Crüe and Rob Halford (who last appeared on OZZFest in 2004 with Judas Priest), performing songs from his solo career along with material from Judas Priest and Fight. DevilDriver and Nonpoint will round out the main stage line-up.
Each OZZFest date will include 13 bands on two stages with music beginning at 1:00 PM. In addition, concert-goers can once again visit the OZZFest “Village of the Damned” featuring a mix of interactive activities, shopping and entertainment throughout the venue concourses.
The 2010 OZZFEST dates are as follows:
Sat, Aug 14 San Bernardino, CA San Manuel Amphitheater
Tue, Aug 17 Chicago, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheater
Thurs, Aug 19 Pittsburgh, PA First Niagara Pavilion
Sat, Aug 21 Hartford, CT Comcast Theater
Sun, Aug 22 Camden, NJ Susquehanna
Tue, Aug 24 Boston, MA Comcast Center
GOATWHORE’s 2009 release Carving Out the Eyes of God was met with praise from fans and critics alike and hailed as one of the best metal albums of 2009. Carving Out the Eyes of God broke the Billboard Top 200 chart coming in at #190! In addition to hitting the Top 200 Chart, Carving Out the Eyes of God also debuted on the Billboard Hard Music chart at #33, the Billboard Top New Artist (Heatseekers) Albums chart at #16, and the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart at #34. GOATWHORE also carved out a spot for themselves on Canada’s charts coming in at #48 on Independent chart and #79 on Hard Chart.