Guns N’ Roses
KORN changed the world with the release of their self-titled debut album. It was a record that would pioneer a genre, while the band’s enduring success points to a larger cultural moment. The FADER notes, “There was an unexpected opening in the pop landscape and KORN articulated a generational coming-of-angst for a claustrophobic, self-surveilled consciousness. KORN became the soundtrack for a generation’s arrival as a snarling, thrashing, systemically-restrained freak show.”
Since forming, KORN has sold 40 million albums worldwide, collected two GRAMMYS, toured the world countless times, and set many records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, and drummer Ray Luzier, have continued to push the limits of the rock, alternative and metal genres, while remaining a pillar of influence for legions of fans and generations of artists around the globe. The level of KORN’s reach transcends accolades and platinum certifications. They are “a genuine movement in a way bands cannot be now,” attests The Ringer. They represent a new archetype and radical innovation, their ability to transcend genre makes barriers seem irrelevant.
Nine Inch Nails
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
ABOUT FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH have amassed over 7.6 billion streams and 3 billion video views to date and have sold over 1 million tickets between 2018 and 2020 alone. They are the 2nd biggest artist in the hard rock space measured by total consumption (sales and streams), surpassed only by Metallica. Recently signed to Better Noise Music, they’ve garnered 25 top 10 hit singles and 12 #1 singles.
Having become one of the most recognizable names in music, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH frequently play all major festivals and sell out arenas around the world.
Since their debut album, The Way of the Fist came out in 2007 the band has released six consecutive albums that were certified Gold or Platinum by the RIAA, as well as two chart topping Greatest Hits albums.
In addition, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH has earned numerous national and international awards and honors over the last decade, such as the prestigious Soldier Appreciation Award by the Association Of The United States Army, an honor bestowed upon only one other recording artist before them: Elvis Presley.
Their most current release, F8 was produced by Kevin Churko and debuted at #1 on Rock charts around the world with Top 10 Mainstream chart debuts in the USA, Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and more. F8 features #1 hit singles “Inside Out”, “A Little Bit Off”, “Living The Dream” and “Darkness Settles In”.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Porno for Pyros
Multi-platinum, record-breaking band Shinedown - Brent Smith [vocals], Zach Myers [guitar], Eric Bass [bass, production], and Barry Kerch [drums] – has sold more than 10 million albums and 10 million singles worldwide, earned 14 platinum and gold singles, 5 platinum and gold albums, 16 #1 Active Rock hits, and amassed more than 4.5 billion total streams. Each of Shinedown’s 27 charting singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart has reached the Top 5 – an unparalleled achievement – and they hold the record for most Top 5s ever on this chart. Their hit songs ”Atlas Falls,” “ATTENTION ATTENTION,” “GET UP,” “MONSTERS” and “DEVIL” bring their total to 17 #1s on the Mediabase Active Rock Chart and 16 #1s on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart, breaking the record for the most #1s ever in the history of the Billboard chart. Shinedown was also recently named #1 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Mainstream Rock Artists Chart.
Shinedown’s film ATTENTION ATTENTION, directed by Bill Yukich (Beyoncé, Metallica, Wiz Khalifa), is a cinematic experience of their 2018 studio album of the same name and is out now via Gravitas Ventures. The film features theatrical performances from the band, Melora Walters (Magnolia, Big Love, PEN15), and Francesca Eastwood (Old, Twin Peaks, Fargo), and is available on digital and cable VOD in the U.S. and Canada on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Comcast, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, and Mediacom, among others - PRESS HERE to purchase, PRESS HERE to watch the trailer. ATTENTION ATTENTION is a visual journey that brings to life the story of the band’s acclaimed chart-topping sixth full-length and latest album which ushered in their biggest and boldest chapter to date. Shinedown’s distinct mix of explosive rock ‘n’ roll spirit, thought-provoking lyrics, and melodic sensibility on ATTENTION ATTENTION (Atlantic Records) has accumulated more than 622 million global streams, debuted Top 5 on the Billboard 200, simultaneously hit #1 on Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock and Hard Rock Albums Charts, led to five iHeart Radio Music Award nominations for Rock Artist of the Year (2019, 2020, 2021) and Rock Song of the Year (2019, 2020), and major media acclaim. From life’s lowest lows to the highest highs, what emerges from the film is a powerful and enduring statement about humanity, overcoming struggle, the importance of mental health, not being afraid to fail, and the resolve of the human spirit.
Hailed for their high-octane live shows, Shinedown continues to engender diehard love from millions of global fans and has racked up countless sold-out tours and festival headlining sets as well as numerous national television appearances. The band is playing to sold-out arenas in the U.S., backed by their biggest, most eye-popping production yet and propelled by the undeniable power of front man Brent Smith’s voice.
ABOUT BREAKING BENJAMIN: Multi-platinum band Breaking Benjamin has amassed a sizeable and diehard fan base, both through their chart-topping music, as well as their electrifying live performances. Their latest release, Dark Before Dawn certified GOLD (selling over 500K copies) debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and spun off two #1 rock tracks, “Failure” and “Angels Fall.” “Failure” was also named the most played song at Active Rock for 2015. 2009’s Dear Agony, certified PLATINUM (selling over 1MM copies) debuted #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the iTunes Rock Album Chart. Dear Agony also spun off the platinum selling and #1 Active Rock single “I Will Not Bow” where it stayed #1 for five weeks straight. Their discography also includes 2002’s Saturate, 2004’s We Are Not Alone (certified PLATINUM) 2006’s Phobia (certified PLATINUM.) We Are Not Alone spawned a pair of #1 radio hits (“So Cold” and “Sooner Or Later.”) Phobia debuted at # 2 on Billboard’s Top 200, hit #1 on the Rock Album Chart and was one of the top 50 selling rock albums of 2006. It featured one #1 and two Top 5 rock radio hits (“Breath,” “Diary of Jane” and “Until The End”.)
On their new album, Nowhere Generation, due out June 4 (Loma Vista Recordings), the multi-Gold and Platinum band RISE AGAINST draws a line in the sand with its blazing and aggressive punk rock and lyrics that shine a spotlight on the social and economical deck that has been stacked against our younger generations’ pursuit of The American Dream.
“There’s this idea that we all are raised on, believing that your generation will be a continuance of your parents’ generation — if not even a more fruitful era,” said singer/guitarist/lyricist Tim McIlrath. “And it seems like the American Dream isn’t turning out the way it’s supposed to for a lot of people. Young people aren’t quite climbing that ladder the way they were in the past. I feel for this generation and think it’s something that should be recognized.” Lyrically, much of the band’s upcoming ninth studio album was inspired by listening to his young daughters and a community of fans, seeing firsthand the generation gap growing quicker than ever before while mired in chronic social, economic, and political instability. “Our hope on this record,” continues McIlrath, “is to jostle people awake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.”
The band — McIlrath, Joe Principe (bass), Brandon Barnes (drums), and Zach Blair (lead guitar) — sounds those alarms on Nowhere Generation’s unabashedly outspoken songs that speak to a sea of disenchanted youth about both the struggles and the solutions, while sonically continuing to blur the lines between astute punk rock and melodic-driven pop. In addition to the communal call to arms embedded in the aggressive title track, there’s the fast and furious anti-establishment manifesto “Broken Dreams, Inc.,” the moody ballad “Forfeit,” and the surprise pop candor in “Talking To Ourselves,” a standout song about wanting to be heard and wondering if anyone is listening. “It describes a lot of what Rise Against does,” says McIlrath, “to speak and scream when we feel there are things that are happening that aren’t being addressed. And I think that’s a lot of what our fans feel too — the people in that front row all over the world want to be heard and listened to. I wanted to tap into that sentiment.”
The album’s stunning visuals also reinforce this sentiment, with a cohesive cross-campaign design created by Rolling Stone’s 2009 Album Designer of the Year Brian Roettinger, a Grammy nominee for his unique designs for Jay-Z and Florence and the Machine and Grammy winner for his work on St. Vincent’s campaign.
Nowhere Generation is Rise Against’s first release under a new agreement with Loma Vista Recordings and comes three years after their 2017 blockbuster Wolves that became their fifth straight top ten record on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Nowhere Generation was recorded at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado under the tutelage of Jason Livermore, Andrew Berlin, Chris Beeble, and long-time producer/engineer Bill Stevenson (Black Flag, The Descendents), who has worked with the band on nearly all of their acclaimed releases since their sophomore effort, 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute. Often described as Rise Against’s fifth member, Stevenson “is our not-so-secret weapon at this point,” says Principe. “Bill really has shaped the band. He always gets what we want to do and will go with us when we think outside the box, and he’s the perfect producer for the style of music we play because he has an insane pop sensibility and the hardcore side to him as well.”
The band was admittedly intimated to work with Stevenson at first, having grown up during the ’80s Reaganomics era worshipping albums like Black Flag’s My War alongside classics from Minor Threat, Fugazi, 7 Seconds, Bad Brains, and The Clash. “It’s almost hard to acknowledge that there’s someone out there that feels that what Fugazi was to me, Rise Against is to them,” says McIlrath. “But when I think about it through that filter, I feel there’s a responsibility of what we are doing. There’s somebody out there really counting on us to put how to feel into perspective. We are speaking the same language and have to be there for them. That’s what music is now more than ever, this great communicator.”
“When we first started Rise Against, we just wanted to be a dirty punk band, write some songs, play a bowling alley, and see how many mosh pits we could get going,” McIlrath jokes. “We did not anticipate it to snowball or that there was this audience for what we were doing. But we’ve come to realize people want honesty and that music can be a catalyst for change. I think in many ways, we’ve been on a mission to rile people up, and I feel very lucky to be able to do that. Every single song that comes and materializes, I feel lucky that those antennae are still up and getting a signal.”
After putting out their 2001 debut, The Unraveling, which Exclaim! hailed as “hardcore salvation,” Rise Against would find further success with 2006’s The Sufferer & The Witness that drew in an international crowd for the first time, and 2008’s Appeal To Reason that brandished the Gold Certified hit single “Savior” that to date has garnered half-a-billion streams and become one of the band’s six top ten singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Future albums have touched on issues of LGBTQ rights, animal rights, voting rights, environmental causes, and modern warfare, leading UK rock bible NME to herald Rise Against as “maybe the most important punk band on the planet.” Perhaps most important for the way in which they wholeheartedly engage with fans, whether in an explosive live show setting or on record.
“I would just hope that fans pick up on the fact that we are in this together, and if you are down in your life, you are not alone and there are people out there that are like-minded and there to help,” says Principe on the feeling he hopes listeners ultimately get from listening to Nowhere Generation. “It doesn’t all have to be shit; you can inspire change in your own personal life if you stand up and speak up.”
It was over 30 years ago that Dave Mustaine founded MEGADETH, in the process pioneering the sound that would become known the world over as thrash metal. And from the very beginning, the band proved to be the most lethal and audacious unit on the heavy music scene, pushing thrash to the limits of musical ferocity and instrumental virtuosity on early efforts like their 1985 debut, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good! and 1986’s seminal Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?.
In the decades since, MEGADETH have taken their place as one of metal’s most influential and respected acts—not to mention among its most successful. They have gone on to sell more than 38 million albums worldwide, earning numerous accolades including a 2017 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Metal Performance” for the title track “Dystopia,” 12 GRAMMY® nominations, and scoring five consecutive platinum albums. With sheer determination and a relentless recording and touring schedule, MEGADETH worked their way up from headlining clubs to headlining arenas, festival and stadiums, cementing a legacy that continues to grow and spread throughout the world.
The band’s beginning started in 1984, Dave Mustaine was determined to start a new band that would be heavier and faster than his peers. Mustaine’s songwriting was rapidly maturing, and he set about combining the attitude and energy of punk, with the power and intricate riffing of metal, along with direct, sociopolitical lyrical content. With David Ellefson on bass and Gar Samuelson on drums, the band recorded their infamous 3-song demo which quickly circulated through the underground tape-trading circuit and became an underground hit leading to a deal with Combat Records. The band’s 1985 debut Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good, was the album that would lay down the blueprint and establish MEGADETH as one of the four pioneers, known as the “Big Four,” who virtually invented a genre with their debut album lauded by VH1 as the “Greatest Thrash Metal Debut Album of All Time”.
MEGADETH was quickly signed by Capitol Records and released their 1986 major label debut Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, which became the band’s first certified gold record and would go on to become MEGADETH’s first platinum selling release which Pitchfork describes as “everything great about hardcore, plus a dose of the kind of show-off skill that makes lesser musicians’ fingers bleed.” They followed with their platinum selling So Far, So Good, So What! (1988); GRAMMY® nominated, platinum album Rust In Peace (1990) featuring “Hanger 18” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due;” 1992 GRAMMY® nominated, double platinum release Countdown To Extinction with singles “Symphony of Destruction” and “Sweating Bullets”; “A Tout Le Monde” and “Reckoning Day” from their 1994 platinum selling release Youthanasia; “Kingmaker” from their 2013 Top Ten release Super Collider, which hit No. 3 on both the Hard Rock Albums and Top Rock Albums charts. “She-Wolf” was from the GRAMMY® nominated, Top Ten release Cryptic Writings (1997).
In 2016 MEGADETH once again reinvented themselves as the legendary metal outfit, led by visionary singer, guitarist and songwriter Dave Mustaine, and released their 15th studio effort Dystopia, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200, No. 1 on the Hard Music/Top Rock Chart, No. 2 on the Top Album Sales chart, No. 2 on iTtunes’ Top Albums chart and No 1. on iTunes’ Metal chart. The title track “Dystopia” went on to win a 2017 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Metal Performance.” The album was the first MEGADETH effort to feature new guitarist Kiko Louriero and drummer Chris Adler, the latter on loan from Lamb of God. Together, they inject new levels of musical venom and instrumental dexterity into what was already a wickedly potent brew.
Since its release, MEGADETH had been touring around the world non-stop in support of Dystopia, adding Dirk Verbeuren as MEGADETH’s fulltime drummer.
In between tour legs, the band had been in the studio writing and recording when late last year, MEGADETH’s plans were temporarily sidelined when Mustaine was diagnosed with cancer. His bandmates all rallied around Mustaine and took on his MEGADETH commitments while he received treatment. Mustaine approached his cancer as with things all his life – devoting all his energy and passion – to succeed. With clearance from his doctors, Mustaine immediately returned to a full schedule as MEGADETH kicks off 2020 with a worldwide tour with the band continuing its work on their highly anticipated 16th studio album.
More than three decades after the release of Killing Is My Business, and following through benchmark metal masterpieces like Peace Sells, 1990’s Rust in Peace, 2009’s Endgame and 2016’s Dystopia, the thrash legends, with Mustaine firmly at the helm, are showing no signs of slowing down.
For MEGADETH, the future starts now.
Over the past two decades Papa Roach have established themselves as true trendsetters in rock music: They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, toured the globe with everyone from Eminem to Marilyn Manson and crafted the nü metal anthem “Last Resort,” which is still in heavy rotation on rock radio seventeen years after its release. However, the group’s ninth full-length Crooked Teeth sees the band returning to their humble—and hungry—roots. The album was recorded in a cramped North Hollywood studio with up-and-coming producers Nicholas “RAS” Furlong and Colin Brittain, who grew up listening to Papa Roach and inspired them to revisit some of the traits that personally endeared the band to them, most notably frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s remarkable rapping technique. From the instantly infectious nature of the title track to the atmospheric sheen of the ballad “Periscope” (which features Skylar Grey) and the hip-hop rock mashup “Sunrise Trailer Park” (which features an impassioned verse from Machine Gun Kelly), Crooked Teeth displays the various sides of Papa Roach and illustrates why they’ve managed to remain relevant while musical trends ebb and flow. Crooked Teeth also sees Shaddix pulling no punches lyrically, as evidenced on intensely personal tracks like “Born For Greatness,” produced by Jason Evigan (Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Kehlani, Madonna), which sees Shaddix getting sentimental about his three children, or “American Dreams” where the lifelong pacifist begs the listener to ask, “have you ever thought war was a sickness? The album’s acclaimed track “Help” debuted as the #1 Most Added at Active Rock and quickly became the #1 rock song in the country. Crooked Teeth is out May 19 via Eleven Seven Music.
Self-doubt and depression clawed at the edges of Lzzy Hale’s mind when it came time to pen Halestorm’s fourth album, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Wild Life. The musician didn’t feel like she was where she needed to be, both professionally and personally. When she and her bandmates, Arejay Hale, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith, began writing, Lzzy wasn’t even sure who she was. “I kept thinking, ‘Can I still do this?’” she says. “I went down a lot of rabbit holes, and I’m my own worst critic. I needed to get over a lot of internal hurdles during this writing and recording process. This record was about overcoming inner demons.”
The band began writing, but the first batch of songs didn’t feel quite right, so Halestorm scrapped it and started over. And in the end, Vicious represents Halestorm’s most personal and most inventive album, a deeply lived-with collection of songs teaming with genuine heart and soul. It’s also how Lzzy got her groove back. “I don’t think there was any other way for me to get through that difficult time than to write about it,” she says. “This record was like therapy.” The album was recorded with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains and Rush) at Nashville, TN’s Rock Falcon recording studio, and the producer, with whom the band had previously worked with on their 2017 covers EP ReAniMate 3.0: The CoVeRs eP, pushed each musician to a new place musically. Each song went through five or six versions, and ultimately carry the listener on a journey, emphasizing the band’s strengths while revealing a dynamic evolution.
“Nick pushed us from 10 to 11,” Lzzy says. “He pushed us mentally and physically. There are some things on this record that I didn’t think were physically possible for both myself and my bandmates. It was really exciting to see that happen for the first time in the studio. To be able to still surprise each other like that – and to surprise yourself – is no small feat.”
One of the main goals in the studio was to capture real, human moments within the music, the sorts of unexpected instances that occur onstage. In recent years, Halestorm has introduced improvised flashes into their live sets with the idea of creating controlled chaos between the more orchestrated songs. The music on Vicious embraces this sensibility. The musicians worked to ensure that every song had its own dynamic feeling, both overall and within each verse. “It wasn’t just about looping the same thing over and over again,” Lzzy notes. “The idea was: Where can we take this that’s not predicable?”
The resulting album, which was culled from over 20 recorded tunes, solidifies everything Halestorm stands for as a band. It’s about empowerment, an ideal that the musicians have encouraged for years, and the songs urge you to be unapologetically yourself. Ultimately, it’s not just about being strong and taking on the storm – but also about how you rise above that storm. The album’s title comes from “Vicious,” a gritty, surging rock number that was written during the last moments of studio time. The song features the line “What doesn’t kill me makes me vicious,” a rallying cry to overcome any obstacles. “It’s about being strong and fierce,” Lzzy says. “The climate of the world right now is always seeping in, so we wanted it to feel really positive and empowering.” “Uncomfortable,” one of the first songs written for the album, has a similar tone, featuring a rapid-fire verse and impressive vocal licks on the chorus. “You can’t please everybody as much as you may want to try,” Lzzy says of the song. “By being yourself you may make people uncomfortable. I saw a lot of our fans struggling with that. This song is saying that it’s okay to not make everyone happy all the time. You can be yourself and that’s okay. And, in fact, you should be proud of that.”
References to Halestorm’s fans and Lzzy’s constant interactions with them online or on Twitter thread through the album. The musician, who calls the band’s fanbase “our comrades in this crazy life,” wanted to drop Easter eggs into the lyrics, reminding longtime listeners of past conversations or instances in Lzzy’s personal life they’ll likely remember. “I feel like our fans deserve that type of openness from us at this point,” she says. “The love they’ve given us comes full circle.”
Since their inception in 1998, Halestorm have toured extensively with a diverse variety of artists, including Eric Church, Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, ZZ Top and Evanescence. They’ve played around 2,500 dates around the world to date, and performed at festivals like Taste of Chaos and Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. The band scored a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2013, and Lzzy was named the “Dimebag Darrell Shredder of the Year” at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards in 2016. Both Halestorm and The Strange Case of… were certified Gold, further evidencing Halestorm’s massively supportive fanbase. Halestorm have also made history: “Love Bites (So Do I),” the hit single from The Strange Case of… ascended to No. 1 at Active Rock radio in the U.S., making Halestorm the first-ever female-fronted group to earn the top spot on the format.
Today Halestorm exists as a beacon of hope and inspiration for musicians, particularly female musicians who want to brave the challenges of the music industry. Lzzy has been a pioneer in rock and proven that women have a place on the stage. Every night on tour, women – and men – in the audience can look to her and realize they too have the power to carve out their own path. Younger musicians admire her the same way she grew up admiring artists like Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. “They helped me feel like I could do it, and I hope I’ve done the same for women today,” Lzzy says. “Trying to be my best self and not trying to be anything I’m not and being unapologetic feels like a good message. I feel a lot of responsibility to keep upholding that. I’m just trying to be the best me.”
Two decades into an accomplished career, Halestorm represents the results of true passion and hard work. The band has out-survived many of its peers and the musicians are still having fun after all this time. Vicious is evidence of a group of artists who refuse to ever plateau.
“This music chose us and we’re just hanging on,” Lzzy says. “Our greatest accomplishment is that we’ve been the same members for over 15 years and we’re continuing to make and release music. We want to always try new things. We’re still extremely hungry and open to opportunities, and we’re hungry to prove we deserve to be here. We’re so lucky to still be a band and have people care about our music. And there’s still so much more to do.”
Since forming in Pretoria, South Africa in 1999, Seether (Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart, John Humphrey and Corey Lowery) has amassed a global fanbase that has grown organically with purpose and commitment, offering their fans around the world camaraderie, comfort and a sense of personal power. Their impressive sales and chart history includes three platinum and two gold albums, 17 #1 singles, 21 Top 5 multi-format hits, single sales topping 17 million and over 2 billion streams worldwide across all platforms. Seether is Billboard’s #8 All-Time Mainstream Rock Artist, which covers the 40-year history of the chart’s existence. Their latest LP, the acclaimed, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (If You Want Peace, Prepare For War) was released last summer via Fantasy Records. A primal mix of euphoria and misery, the new album ranks among the strongest material of Seether’s illustrious career and includes the recent #1 singles “Dangerous,” “Bruised and Bloodied,” and the soon to be released “Wasteland.”
BUSH has compiled an amazing string of 18 Top 40 hit singles on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, including 11 that hit the Top 5. Six became No. 1 hits: “Comedown,” “Glycerine,” “Machinehead,” “Swallowed,” “The Chemicals Between Us” and “The Sound of Winter.” In 2011, Bush re-entered the fray withThe Sea of Memories, their first release in 10 years. They returned to the top of the charts, with lead single “The Sound of Winter” making rock radio history as the first self-released song ever to hit No. 1 at Alternative Rock Radio, where it stayed for six consecutive weeks. Their story continues with new album Black and White Rainbows, which People magazine called “a triumphant return.” Gavin Rossdale also recently served as one of the coaches for the hit TV series, “The Voice UK.”
In This Moment
Since coming to life in 2005, gold-selling hard rock provocateurs In This Moment have presided over a diehard fan base under the watch of “mother” figure and frontwoman Maria Brink—joined by co-founder and lead guitarist Chris Howorth, bassist Travis Johnson, guitarist Randy Weitzel, and Kent Dimmel. As millions convened upon the group’s otherworldly and unforgettable concerts, they quietly emerged as one of the most influential and impactful bands of the 21st century. To date, the quintet have garnered two gold singles—“Blood” and “Whore”—and one gold album, Blood . The latter notably launched a trifecta of Top 25 entries on the Billboard Top 200 with Black Widow  and Ritual . Bringing their total stream tally well past 200 million as of 2020, Ritual elevated them to new creative and critical peaks as well. In a 4-out-of-5 star review, KERRANG! called it “their best vehicle to date” as Alternative Press claimed, “Maria Brink is the Lady Gaga of the metal world” and went on to add, “Ritual flourishes as the metal love child of art-pop, gospel, Morrissey and Johnny Cash that the world didn’t know it needed until now.” Between selling out headline tours coast-to-coast, the group performed in arenas everywhere alongside Disturbed and appeared at countless festivals from Rockville to Sonic Temple.
Along the way, they assembled their seventh full-length, the aptly titled Mother [Roadrunner Records] with longtime trusted collaborator Kevin Churko [Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch]. Whereas Ritual hinted at a bluesy sonic sorcery, Mother breathes the activating mantra of an unbreakable spell, commenced on first single “The In-Between.”
For the uninitiated, Steel Panther was formed in 2000. Hailing from Los Angeles, the epicenter for rock n’ roll in all its debauchery and glamour, Steel Panther has established themselves as the world’s premier party band, melding hard rock virtuosity with parody and criminally good looks. Steel Panther is a global phenomenon with four full-length albums, touring across the world, platinum-level You Tube status and high-profile television appearances such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, Larry King Now, and FOX NFL Sunday.
Rolling Stone avowed, “There’s a reason Steel Panther have transcended their origins as a cover band playing the Sunset Strip,” while Metal Sucks declared, Steel Panther’s concept is genius…their songwriting is…preposterously snappy – and relatable.”
The Pretty Reckless
Rock ‘n’ roll is a religion.
It’s a commitment to an ideal, a belief system. The lifestyle and trappings may appear to be glamorous and romantic, but the road isn’t easy. It requires staying power and an enormous amount of faith. The Pretty Reckless—Taylor Momsen [Vocals], Ben Phillips [Guitar], Jamie Perkins [drums], and Mark Damon [bass]—are truly a rock and roll band, as evidenced by their 2021-released fourth album Death By Rock And Roll (Fearless Records). The critically-acclaimed record landed at No. 1 on multiple sales charts, including Billboard’s Top Albums, Rock, Hard Music, and Digital Charts, upon release.
The album and band were met with near-universal praise from top-tier media, including American Songwriter, Alternative Press, Bustle, CNN, Consequence of Sound, The Daily Beast, Forbes, Guitar World, Hustler, Loudwire, SPIN, V Magazine, Paper, Revolver, Women’s Wear Daily, and more.
The Pretty Reckless’ unbelievable 12-year journey has quietly brought them from sweaty small gigs to successive number one hits, platinum plaques, and some of the biggest stages in the world—unprecedented for a rock act this century.
Formed in New York City during 2008, the musicians and late producer Kato Khandwala initially made waves with their 2010 debut, Light Me Up. After countless gigs, they lit a fuse to burn everything down on Going To Hell in 2014. Not only did the record crash the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200, but it also ignited three #1 hits—the Platinum-certified “Heaven Knows” (the biggest rock song of 2014), “Fucked Up World,” and “Follow Me Down”—a feat that had not been accomplished by a female-fronted group since The Pretenders in 1984. Meanwhile, their third offering, Who You Selling For, saw them return to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs Chart with “Take Me Down,” which cemented them as “the first band to send its first four singles to #1 on the chart,” according to Billboard. Praise followed from Vogue, Nylon, and more as the quartet lit up television shows such as Letterman and Conan. With over half-a-billion streams, they headlined countless sold out shows and toured with Guns N’ Roses and many other heavy hitters.
However, 2017 set off a series of events that shook the group to its very core, yet ultimately cast Death By Rock And Roll in the kind of fire, tears and blood that doesn’t ever wash off…
“There was no way to hide from this,” exclaims Taylor. “There was no running from what happened. I didn’t have to ‘write’ it; it was just infused into what we’re doing.
As the story goes, The Pretty Reckless landed a prestigious tour in 2017, opening for Soundgarden in packed amphitheaters across the country. Then, following a rapturous gig in Detroit, Chris Cornell tragically took his life. The aftershocks reverberated throughout popular culture and left a scar on The Pretty Reckless. They retreated, cancelling most of their touring and disappeared from the public eye. It got even worse eleven months later, when The Pretty Reckless’ muse, friend and longtime producer Kato, had died in a motorcycle crash.
“It sent us into a downward spiral.” Ben reflects, “We fell apart. It turned into a world of depression and substance abuse. At that point, we had to try and figure out how to continue making music. It was either death or go forward.”
So, Taylor and Ben turned to writing songs to channel the emotional toll, and in late 2018, The Pretty Reckless returned to the studio to record. For the first time, Taylor and Ben co-produced with longtime friend Jonathan Wyman. And the results are inspiring on so many levels. The sessions took well over a year in the studio, and the band introduced the album with the track “Death By Rock and Roll.” The song starts hauntingly with a recording of Kato’s footsteps leading to a bold bluesy riff that snakes through the distortion. The din subsides on a solo vocal as the frontwoman croons, “On my tombstone when I go, just put, ‘Death By Rock and Roll’.” Her howl takes hold in between the massive beat and fiery fretwork.
The song quickly ascended to No. 1 on the rock charts, marking the band’s fifth chart-topper to date. It’s a feat that has not been achieved by any female-fronted rock act in the chart’s history, turning “Death By Rock and Roll” into a true “moment” for The Pretty Reckless.
“It has our whole mentality in the lyrics,” she goes on. “It’s not a morbid song. It’s, ‘I’m going to live my way; I’m going out my way’. That’s the rock and roll ethic. It’s empowering.”
Elsewhere, Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello lends his axe to the rambunctious and raucous “And So It Went” which became the follow up single and also went straight up the radio charts, giving the band consecutive No. 1 singles.
Bringing the trip full circle, The Pretty Reckless joined forces with Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil for “Only Love Can Save Me Now.” Tracked at the legendary London Bridge Studio in Seattle, it marked the first time Matt and Kim recorded at the space since Soundgarden’s Louder Than Love. Nearing the six-minute mark, it trudges through detuned bliss and an off-kilter time signature before Kim conjures a slippery psychedelic solo as Taylor admits, “I want to be saved from the sound,” over Matt’s percussive wizardry. “Lyrically, it goes with the world now,” Taylor adds. “It references what we’re all going through.”
And as the third single from the album, it too, topped the charts, making it a back-to-back-to-back run of No. 1 singles.
The track was yet another watershed moment, as it marked three consecutive No. 1s at rock radio from two different albums and served as the band’s seventh No. 1 overall. Ultimately, TPR racked up the most No. 1 singles at the format by a female or female-fronted band ever.
Then, there’s “25.” Her gravelly timbre quakes above an ominous funeral march and echoes of strings. She screams, “At 25, all hope has died and the glass of my intentions turns to sand…shatters in my hand.” Meanwhile, “Got So High” bleeds into a heavenly stoned refrain as an acoustic guitar rings out. After the nostalgic “Rock and Roll Heaven,” the record sails off to Valhalla on “Harley Darling” ushered along by harmonica, the sound of an engine revving and a devilish dedication as she sings, “Oh, Harley darling, you took my friend, you took everything and now I’m alone again.”
The Pretty Reckless sound more alive than ever…
“We lived this” Ben leaves off. “Rock and roll means everything to us. Taylor sacrificed everything for this record. I think it shows.”
“We stuck to our ethics,” she concludes. “We built this up over time. Either you throw it all away or go for it. It’s cliché, but rock and roll saved our lives.”
Cemented as one of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century and Pandora Billionaires Club recipients, the two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum Wisconsin quartet SKILLET—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitar]—write the soundtrack to triumph. An undying spirit humbly asserted and affirmed the band as one of this generation’s most successful rock acts. However, as all classic underdog stories do, it happened quietly under the radar. By 2019, they not only garnered a pair of GRAMMY® Award nods and sold over 12 million albums worldwide, but they also took home a Billboard Music Award for the double-platinum Awake. Its breakout single “Monster” remains “one of the most-streamed rock songs of all-time” with over 3 Billion global audio streams. 2016’s Unleashed bowed at #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Going #1 on Rock Radio, the lead single “Feel Invincible” cracked 150 million global audio streams and went platinum. Meanwhile, the gold-certified Unleashed became their fourth consecutive album to receive either a gold, platinum, or double-platinum status. To date, nine original tunes earned RIAA recognition in tandem with high-profile syncs by everyone from WWE and Marvel to ESPN and NFL. Between selling out arenas on four continents, the group performed on CONAN and graced the pages of USA Today and New York Times, to name a few. In 2018 alone, the band clocked 1 billion streams. This momentum continued on their 2019 tenth full-length, Victorious. It arrived in the Top 20 of the Billboard Top 200 as “Legendary” delivered over 25.9 million Spotify streams in under a year. Not to mention, Skillet debuted their first graphic novel, EDEN: A Skillet Graphic Novel with Z2 Comics, which has become the publisher’s best-selling book of all time and paves the way for the sequel in 2020. At the same time, they emerged as a global force. The band consistently sells out arenas on multiple continents, packing venues across Europe, Russia, Australia, and beyond. Additionally, they’ve graced the stages of top international festivals such as Download, Pinkpop, and more. Faced with unprecedented circumstances and stuck at home with the rest of us in 2020, John and Korey once again found a way to spread a bit of light. Taking to Instagram Live, they served up a series of highly-trafficked performances and ultimately set the stage for the Deluxe Edition of their tenth full-length offering, Victorious: The Aftermath [Atlantic Records], comprising four “piano versions” and three unreleased new originals in 2020.
Black Label Society
Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19 is nothing like the infamously awful, failed experiment of New Coke. This is the original formula, like Coke Classic, but spiked with Viagra, the Captain America super soldier serum, and triple the caffeine.
It’s less of a floor to ceiling remodel than it is a fresh coat of paint, in preparation for another crazy house party. Zakk Wylde and crew were careful not to mess with the magic captured on the long lost two-inch tape. Instead, they blessed the master with some note-for-note enhancement, spicing up Sonic Brew with a perfected recipe.
“I don’t want to hear Led Zeppelin II redone, with the band just replaying the whole record,” notes the charismatic frontman and gregarious guitar icon. “The performances and everything are a snapshot in time. We just added on top of what was already there on the original recordings. It’s like we went in and did surgery on this thing. We took the original CD master and added things that made it stronger.”
Two decades on from the band’s inception, Black Label Society soared to Number 4 on the Billboard Current Albums chart with their tenth studio album, Grimmest Hits (2018). It was the third consecutive Top 5 debut for BLS, right behind Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010). Grimmest Hits opened at Number 1 on both the Hard Music Albums and Independent Albums charts, as well.
Equal parts adrenalized fury and earnest emotion the BLS songbook plays a unique role in the lives of the band’s fans. The group cranks out anthems to turn up in revelry and tragedy, songs with which to celebrate and songs with which to mourn.
Mighty missives like “Stillborn,” “Bleed for Me,” “Funeral Bell,” “In This River,” “Concrete Jungle,” “Parade of the Dead,” “My Dying Time,” and “Room of Nightmares” have amassed millions of downloads, streams, and video views. They are the soundtracks to jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings.
While members of esteemed rock and metal institutions like Alice In Chains, Metallica, Type O Negative, Clutch, Danzig, and Megadeth have passed through the band’s ranks, Black Label Society has consistently been defined by Wylde’s unmistakable voice and signature guitar sound and the steady rumble of bassist John DeServio. Bluesy guitarist Dario Lorina and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb joined Wylde and DeServio in the BLS crusade back in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
An energized beast and consummate showman, Black Label Society’s frontman bears his heart and soul with unchained passion, in both crushingly heavy blues-rock barnstormers and acoustic and/or piano-driven laments alike. The band are vigilant keepers of the flame. Zakk’s signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, his infamous leather bellbottoms in L.A.’s Grammy Museum, his handprints on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He’s graced the cover of every guitar mag.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest serving guitar-shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like “No More Tears,” “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere,” and “Miracle Man.” Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and ex-Queens Of The Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
Wylde, who was still in his teens when he got his demo tape into Ozzy’s hands, was part of No More Tears (the biggest selling album of the legendary singer’s solo career), the double-platinum Ozzmosis, and a Best Metal Performance Grammy win.
A one-off record with Pride & Glory in 1994 was followed by Zakk’s first solo album, Book of Shadows (1996). Sonic Brew introduced Black Label Society to the world, igniting a molten momentum that barely slowed for the arrival of Book of Shadows II (2016), 20 years after its predecessor. It’s beautifully serendipitous that Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19 now marks a similar landmark anniversary.
“After the Book of Shadows record had its run, I was just like, ‘Well, what am I going to do?’” Wylde remembers. “I wasn’t playing with Oz at the time. I was playing with Guns N’ Roses but that was in limbo. I had all of these riffs. So I was just like, ‘I’ll sing it myself!’ [Ex-drummer] Phil [Ondich] and I had a blast making Sonic Brew. It was more rock than when I did the Pride and Glory thing, but there’s tinges of that stuff in there with the riffs, and then there’s always been mellow stuff on the records.”
The Black Label Society studio discography is like an instruction manual on how to expertly craft heartfelt, no holds barred, heavy metal infused American hard rock. Sonic Brew (1999), Stronger Than Death (2000), 1919 Eternal (2002), The Blessed Hellride (2003), Hangover Music Vol. VI (2004), Mafia (2005), Shot to Hell (2006), Order of the Black (2010), Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014), and Grimmest Hits (2018) should be required listening for all aspiring blues-based rock musicians.
“Sonic Brew was the beginning. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Zakk marvels.
Thanks to a new arrangement with Entertainment One (eOne), the BLS back catalog is now all in one place, uniting the band’s earlier work with their more recent output. The “re-blended” version of their classic debut is resurrected bigger than ever without sacrificing its familiar kick. Plus, there are two bonus cuts: a full band/piano version of “Spoke in the Wheel” and an acoustic take on “Black Pearl.”
Wylde’s powerful pipes, mayhem-inducing charisma, mischievous humor, and instantly recognizable shredding have made him a beloved figure to rock audiences the world over. One part invading-horde, one part traveling carnival party, Black Label Society continues to engage and inspire, powered by caffeine and cacophony.
Beyond the instantly identifiable riffs and equally recognizable vocals, Jerry Cantrell will always be known as a songwriter, first and foremost. Those songs comprise his influential catalog as co-founder, vocalist, lead guitarist and main songwriter of the iconic Alice In Chains and as a solo artist whose music resounds across culture. He penned two classic solo albums—Boggy Depot  and Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2 —and appeared on chart-topping records by everyone from Metallica to Ozzy Osbourne, Glenn Danzig, & Deftones. His music can be heard in the films of Academy® Award winner Cameron Crowe and Judd Apatow in addition to blockbuster franchises such as John Wick and Spider-Man. Throughout his career, he’s garnered eleven GRAMMY® Award nominations, logged multiple #1 hits at radio, sold north of 30 million records, and received the 2020 Museum of Pop Culture Founders Award as a member of Alice In Chains.
Not to mention, Guitar World cited him as one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. ”Additionally, he received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award from MusiCares in addition to supporting numerous charities over the years. However, he continues to put the songs first on his third full-length solo offering, Brighten, released on October 29, 2021. Led by the singles “Atone” and “Brighten,” these tunes are a worthy addition to Cantrell’s repertoire and the larger American rock ‘n’ roll
Formed in Derby, England, in 2012, TheStrutshave found themselves massively embraced by some of thegreatest icons in rock-and-roll history. Along with opening for Foo Fighters, The Rolling Stones, The Who, andGuns N’ Roses, the UK-bred four-piece bandwas handpicked by Mötley Crüe to serve as the supporting actfor their last-ever performances. Releasing their debut albumEverybody Wantsin 2016 and sophomorealbumYOUNG&DANGEROUSin 2018, they’ve toured incessantly since their formation, including worldwideheadline shows and major festivals like Lollapalooza, Governors Ball, and Isle of Wight. When COVID-19brought touring to a halt, TheStrutscreated their third albumStrange Daysover the course of a charmedand frenzied burst of creativity. Withinjust ten days, the band laid down nine original tracks alongside theirmasterful cover of a KISS B-side.
With the release of their highly anticipated 12th studio album, the gloriously titled “Book of Bad Decisions”, it would be easy to suggest that legendary Maryland rockers Clutch have made their finest record to date. This may even be true. You see, the thing about Clutch is that ever since their 1993 debut Transnational Speedway League they’ve been in the business of writing stone cold classics, and even the most rabid fan would have trouble picking just one. “Book of Bad Decisions” won’t make that task any easier. Rest assured, it’s another classic.
Recorded over three weeks at Sputnik Studios in Nashville, “Book of Bad Decisions” was produced by four-time Grammy winner Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, etc.), a man who apparently knows that a one degree angle change in microphones makes a difference to how an instrument sounds. Interestingly, his name first came to the band’s attention via country star Chris Stapleton.
“It started with my brother-in-law, who’s a huge Chris Stapleton fan,” says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. “He and I would listen to The Traveller quite a bit, and one thing that stood out was that it didn’t sound like any other country record that I’d heard. Shortly after that I was on Spotify, and a song by The Dead Weather came up. It just blew me away and I could tell that whoever produced that record was doing things a different way. I looked it up and there was Vance Powell’s name again, so something was telling us that this is a guy we should reach out to.”
“Even though Chris Stapleton does music that’s not too much like our own, the sonics of the record are pretty great,” says frontman Neil Fallon. “He has a very different approach to recording; he comes from the school of live recording and engineering, and the songs, on tape, are not gonna sound that much different from what we do live.”
No stranger to the road, Powell spent three days on tour with the band in order to get a feel for what they do best, watching first from the front of house and then from the stage, checking out the live sound and how Clutch connect with their audience.
“I never go into a record having an idea of how it’s gonna sound,” he says. “But after hearing them live, I had an idea of how they could sound. I’m a big live recording fan, so I like when bands play together and I didn’t wanna get into that manufacturing a record concept. I wanted it to be real organic.”
Indeed, ‘organic’ is a word that comes up a lot when talking to Clutch about the new record, Powell taking great care to get guitar tones right and making sure that each song had its own identity.
“Vance is all about vintage guitar sounds,” says guitarist Tim Sult. “I probably had more amplifier options than on any other album we’ve done. It was like going back to a music store in 1960! This was the first time I’ve ever recorded with amps from the ’50s and I ended up buying a couple of ’50s amps while we were in Nashville.”
“I felt really good about the gear that I was bringing into the studio,” concurs bassist Dan Maines, “but Vance had this 1974 Ampeg and I’m so glad that he recommended that. As soon as we plugged it in, it sounded like Sabbath! We ended up using it alongside one of my amps, and I loved it so much that once we were done recording I scoured the ads for another one. What I really like is that each song has a different tone to it, and I think that’s Vance Powell’s style.”
With each band member contributing riffs to the album – including Jean-Paul who has added mandolin to his repertoire – there was no shortage of material, each song road-tested long before it reached the studio. Hell, with 15 songs, “Book of Bad Decisions” could easily pass as a double album! Always wary of repeating themselves and retreading old ground, there is even – for the first time on a Clutch album – a horn section that swings like James Brown’s pants!
“The third night I was watching the band,” says Vance, “they did this song that at that time was called Talkbox, which is now In Walks Barbarella. While Neil was singing, I was thinking to myself, “wow, there’s a horn line here!” And while he was singing, I was humming it to myself. I brought it up to them, tenuously, and they were like, “okay, let’s do it!” This is as Parliament, Funkadelic as it gets, maybe even a James Brown vibe!”
One thing, however, that is entirely as expected, is that as arguably the greatest rock lyricist of modern times, Fallon, as always, has provided some interesting subject matter, everything from poets to presidents and recipes to rock ‘n’ roll. You may have to Google some of it, because Fallon is nothing if not a clever bugger, and likes to keep his audience on their toes.
“Most of the time I have no idea what he’s talking about,” laughs Jean-Paul, “but the lyrics completely inform how I’m going to play that tune. Whether or not I understand exactly what Neil is singing about is not important. I listen to the way Neil sings those words and I think about what those words mean to me, and that, ultimately, informs how I’m gonna play drums on that song.”
“I think I probably second guess myself into doing that,” says Neil of his lyrical style. “I would rather not be able to answer all the questions, just to keep it interesting for myself. Sometimes a rhyme sounds awesome and I don’t know what it means, but I’ll go with it anyway. It’s become more difficult to write lyrics now that I have Wikipedia at my fingertips, because you can go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole and not get anything done! Not too long ago you’d have to spend months in a public library trying to find out the things you can find in a couple of keystrokes.”
Elsewhere, however, you’ll find a more straightforward approach to lyrics, A Good Fire relating the memory of hearing Black Sabbath for the first time – something that everyone can relate to – while Sonic Counselor pays homage to Clutch fans. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Clutch fans – collectively known as Gearheads – are a breed like no other.
“I’ve always loved rock songs that just celebrated rock ‘n’ roll,” grins Fallon, “but that song was a bit more about the people who come to our shows, that make it as exciting for us as hopefully it is for them. My favorite shows that I’ve seen bands do is like going to church, especially when everybody’s in sync with each other and you walk out with your jaw on the floor. I feel incredibly grateful that people have walked out of our shows and felt the same way. It’s a tip of the hat to them.”
“We’re exceptionally lucky to have the fans we have,” Jean-Paul agrees. “They’re diehard, and because of that, we take this that much more seriously. We do not take this for granted. We know that those folks could be anywhere else, and they’ve chosen to spend the evening at a Clutch show, so we’re gonna do the best we can to provide them with the best musical experience we can. I think that translates to the records, because at the end of the day, all you have is your records. When this whole thing wraps up, those are gonna be the things that go down in history.”
You know it’s DOWN as soon as you hear them. That’s the way it’s always been, and
nothing will ever change that. There’s no mistaking those gargantuan riffs, swamp
blues leads, crashing drums, and hypnotic howls for absolutely anybody else under the
sun. The band upholds a certain tradition that countless fans celebrate, expanding their
own musical mythos as they leave its pillars intact and untouched.
With a collective resume encompassing Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowbar, and
EyeHateGod, the quintet puffed out its first haze of sonic smoke from the belly of gritty
old New Orleans on the 1995 platinum-selling classic, NOLA. At that moment, they
naturally summoned something akin to a ritual, continually partaking in it with critically
revered offerings — Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow in 2002, Down III: Over The
Under in 2007, Down IV – Part One in 2012, and Down IV – Part Two in 2014. Their
shows built a certain live lore with unforgettable runs alongside Metallica and Heaven &
Hell, as well as coveted spots on iconic festivals like Download, Soundwave, Ozzfest,
and so many others, forever delivering passionate, powerful, pure heavy music you can
feel deep down in your soul.
After enduring a year like 2020, no one could have possibly expected Al Jourgensen to stay silent on the maelstrom of the past 12 months. As the mastermind behind pioneering industrial outfit Ministry, Jourgensen has spent the last four decades using music as a megaphone to rally listeners to the fight for equal rights, restoring American liberties, exposing exploitation and putting crooked politicians in their rightful place—set to a background of aggressive riffs, searing vocals and manipulated sounds to drive it home.
As Jourgensen watched the chaos that befell the world during the height of a global pandemic and the tensions rising from one of the most important elections in American history, he seized on the opportunity to write, spending quarantine holed up in his self-built home studio—Scheisse Dog Studio— along with engineer Michael Rozon and girlfriend Liz Walton to create Ministry’s latest masterpiece, Moral Hygiene (out October 1 on Nuclear Blast Records). Anchored by last year’s leadoff track “Alert Level”—which asks listeners to internalize the question “How concerned are you?”—the 10 songs on this upcoming 15th studio album cover the breadth of the current dilemmas facing humanity, while ruminating on the sizable impact of COVID-19, the inevitable effects of climate change, consequences of misinformed conspiracies and the stakes in the fight for racial equality. And most importantly doing so with the lens of what we as a society are going to do about it all.
“The one good thing about taking a year off from any social activity is that you really get to sit back and get an overview of things as opposed to being caught up in the moment,” says Jourgensen, “and what became inevitably clear is that the times are changing and this past year has been a wake up call—and that’s a very good thing. Because society as we have known it the past few decades has needed to change,” he continues. “Ever since Reagan and the girth of Wall Street, we have become too close to the belief that greed is good. Society has really taken a dark turn and now we are bearing the fruit of that that misdirection driven by the idea that it’s all about me and not other people and to take care of yourself and fuck everything else. We now more than ever need moral hygiene. It’s what we have to return to in order to function as the human species on this planet.”
Moral Hygiene comes on the heels of Ministry’s acclaimed 2018 album AmeriKKKant (hailed by Loudwire as Jourgensen’s own “state of the union” address) that was written as a reaction to Donald J. Trump being elected president—though Jourgensen says this new album is more informational and reflective in tone. “With AmeriKKKant I was in shock that Trump won. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. Because I believe if you are a musician or an artist you should be expressing what’s going on around you through your art. It’s going to happen whether you do it consciously or unconsciously. Moral Hygiene however has progressed even further into a cautionary tale of what will happen if we don’t act. There’s less rage, but there’s more reflection and I bring in some guests to help cement that narrative.”
In addition to recruiting long-time cohort Jello Biafra (Jourgensen’s partner in the side project Lard) for the quirky earworm “Sabotage Is Sex,” other guest appearances include guitarist Billy Morrison (Billy Idol/Royal Machines) on a rendition of The Stooges hit “Search & Destroy.”
There’s also the riotous track “Good Trouble,” inspired by the message of activism and social justice in John Lewis’ posthumously published essay, released by New York Times after the Congressman’s passing last July.
“I remember watching the coverage of his death and the next day seeing this entire letter from him come out and thinking not only is John Lewis a Civil Rights icon but he was so astute to think of how that legacy could fit into the progress of the future,” says Jourgensen. “That letter was so heartfelt and his words were so much aligned with my own ideals I just immediately knew I wanted to dedicate a song to him. That track really is the moral backbone of this album.”
Another standout track is “Believe Me,” featuring a throwback vocal style from Jourgensen that harkens back to his singing on Twitch and cult classic “(Every Day Is) Halloween.” The song came out of a jam session with Morrison, Cesar Soto and sampling from Liz Walton, and reminded Jourgensen of his formative days at Chicago Trax Studios where communal ideas were constantly informing early Ministry records. “’Believe Me’ had such an old school vibe I wanted to bring back old school vocals. …It’s funny how things come back to you,” says Jourgensen, also reflecting on Ministry turning 40 in 2021.
Though there have been other side projects over the years including Revolting Cocks and Surgical Meth Machine, Ministry remains Jourgensen’s lifetime passion project, and was first established in Chicago in 1981 through a relationship with legendary Wax Trax! Records. In its earliest days, Ministry was identifiable by a synth-pop style in line with the new sounds and technology that were being developed in the ‘80s, no moreso than on the infamous LP With Sympathy released by Arista Records in 1983. Yet as time progressed, so did Ministry, quickly developing a harsher and more stylized sound that found the band and Jourgensen heralded as the godfathers of industrial music amidst the release of seminal albums Twitch (1986), The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), and The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (1989) that became cultural cornerstones. With Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs (1992), Ministry hit an all time high in the mainstream and received its first of six lifetime Grammy nominations. Eight more albums would follow before an indefinite break in 2013, only to be unearthed again in 2018 with AmeriKKKant.
With the release of Moral Hygiene, Jourgensen is more positive than before. “This may sound crazy but I’m more hopeful about 2021 than I have been in two decades at least,” he says. “Because I do see things changing; people are starting to see through all the bullshit and want to get back to actual decorum in society. We could just treat each other nicely and be treated nicely in return. I never thought Ministry would be in the position of preaching traditional values, but this is the rebellion now.”
Underoath has been a seminal voice in progressive, heavy rock for almost two decades. When you look at the long list of bands that would be considered their contemporaries, very few can match Underoath when it comes to consistently pushing the envelope or the ability to evolve creatively without losing sight of what made them such a special band in the first place. This far into their storied career, the band has unsurprisingly faced their fair share of adversity. But through the trials and tribulations, a commitment to their craft and a sense of accountability rooted in mutual respect for each other has ensured that each new chapter for Underoath continues to shape their legacy in a positive fashion.
In 2020, as a global pandemic shook the foundation of the music industry, Underoath once again blazed a new path forward with their critically-acclaimed Observatory livestream. As interest in the digital consumption of live music seemed to be waning, the band breathed new life into the realm with a complete overhaul of the process – creating something equal parts intimate and monumental. It carried the weight of a sold out arena show translated through vessels consumable in fan’s living rooms. What made it all the more impactful was the fact that the entire initiative was dreamt up and brought to fruition largely by the band’s internal team. Thus, providing another shining reminder of the innovation that the six members on Underoath are capable of pulling together.
On the band’s 2018 Fearless Records debut, Erase Me, we saw a new side of Underoath. Having already established themselves both as melodic songwriters (2004’s RIAA-Certified Gold record They’re Only Chasing Safety) and as ambitious power merchants (2006’s gold-selling Define The Great Line and the majestic follow-up Lost In The Sound of Separation in 2008), the evolution detailed on Erase Me found Underoath using meticulously crafted sonic dialects that painted a vivid picture of how the band had grown artistically in the long layoff since their previous record.
With their shared history of remarkable accolades and trying hardships continuing to shape who the individual members are as people, Underoath is still just scratching the surface of what they can accomplish as a band. There are few acts in the annals of rock history that can say their best work is still ahead of them almost two decades into their career. Fortunately, Underoath falls into that category. As the world opens back up in 2021, the band is deeply committed to living up to the high expectations that fans (and themselves) have come to expect for anything associated with the project. It will undoubtedly be something special to witness as this next chapter in the Underoath story manifests.
Grammy-nominated exploratory rock band Baroness return with their most ambitious work to date, fifth album Gold & Grey. Set for release on the band’s own Abraxan Hymns, Gold & Grey spills triumphantly past genre barriers, their anthemic alt-metal hooks ricocheting between the circuitous twists of prog and jazz, the moody swirls of space-rock and noise, and the hypnotic pulses of trip-hop and 20th Century minimalism.
“This is the most clear representation of the artistic vision I have for the band that we’ve ever done,” says Baroness vocalist, guitarist and founder John Baizley. “I’m surprised that we got as far with it as we did.”
Baizley sees the diverse, adventurous album as a “lateral step” from the streamlined, immediate guitar-rock of the band’s last release, Purple, championed by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and L.A. Weekly as one of the best metal albums of 2015. Gold & Grey works like a melodic puzzle, melodies and harmonic ideas borrowed, repurposed and reinterpreted across three sides of vinyl. Lyrics are full of sonic Easter eggs; unorthodox prog is hidden inside the most accessible songs; tunes emerge from swirling chaos and dense layers of sound. The album is given color by strings, glockenspiel, tubular bells, piano, synthesizers and even field recordings of the chaos after a transformer blew up outside of the recording studio.
“The term I kept using was that I wanted to create something that was more kaleidoscopic than our former records,” says Baizley, who embraced the wide lens and limitless journeying of artists like Pink Floyd, Neurosis, Massive Attack and Scott Walker. “We were trying to say something new with our instruments, with our sound intact, with the spirit of the band intact, but not applying the typical conventions when possible.”
For the first time ever, there’s a spotlight on Baroness’ powerhouse rhythm section – driving-and-spilling drummer Sebastian Thomson (Trans Am, Publicist) and jazz-honed bassist Nick Jost. Bustling with rhythmic complexity, the band occasionally swerves into highways of math rock, post-rock, krautrock and various strains of electronic music. In addition, the band has absorbed Gina Gleason, a gifted guitarist whose résumé includes playing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and jamming with both Smashing Pumpkins and Carlos Santana. Gleason’s voice harmonizes with Baizley and Jost, bringing new tone to the band.
“It’s great for me to have such a full-bodied trust in the other musicians in the band because they play at such a high level,” says Baizley. “I never, ever in a million years thought I’d play with musicians of that caliber and now I’m surrounded by them.”
Like Purple, the band recorded with prismatic, Grammy-winning producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Mercury Rev) at his Tarbox Studios. “There were so many split second decisions and just weird ideas that got used,” says Baizley. “I credit Dave for a lot of this because he was never one to say ‘No, that’s insane.’ It was like almost the more out there the idea, the more likely he was to encourage it to be developed and grown.”
“We went outside, in front of Dave’s studio, on one of his off days, we miked up a wooden post and hammered a nail into it,” says Baizley. “There’s so much hidden in there. There’s also some audio samples of some of my friends. I literally did the Pink Floyd thing. I set up a little booth in my basement. I said, go down there, you got five minutes, tell me the toughest thing you want to tell me. And boy, it was tough to listen to. I pulled those quotes, effected them and they popped into one of the tracks.”
Lyrically, Gold & Grey plumbs similar depths of emotion. On previous albums, Baizley has sung boldly and openly about his mental health and the recovery process from the traumatic bus accident the band and their crew suffered in 2012.
“Where Purple was me lyrically trying to work out how to adjust to a new normal, I think Gold & Grey is a more grown-up and more subtle collection of words that reflect how I am trying to deal with the longer term effects of having experienced so many terrible things,” says Baizley. “There’s a mental component. There’s a physical component. I choose to use the band as a place where I can take all of this stress, pain, anxiety, all these realities, and make them something good.”
Nearly 15 years since releasing their first EP, Baroness are finding a way forward by reveling in chaos.
“We’d listen to playback and there was a general sense of confusion,” says Baizley of the Gold & Grey sessions. I couldn’t figure out how Gina was making that sound. I didn’t understand how the rhythm that Nick and Sebastian were playing worked with what I was doing – but it did. It was a really exciting to feel like we were maybe on the edge of just falling apart. We didn’t want to know what was going on. We wanted to be always a little bit surprised by ourselves.”
Since bursting on the scene with the breakout single “Breathe Into Me” and album “End of Silence” (2006), both certified gold, Grammy nominated band RED have built a career on more than music. Blending Nu-metal and Alternative hard rock with elements of classical and orchestral, the RED sound begs for a visual representation of matching scope, something the band never fails to deliver. The result is an intense emotional connection with a global audience. In their career, the band has headlined, co-headlined, and appeared on many major festivals sharing stages with Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Nine Inch Nails, 3 Doors Down, Seether, Papa Roach, Chevelle, Sevendust, Creed, and more. The band’s career achievements include over 2 million albums sold and numerous top 10 radio singles. The band released their most recent album, “Declaration”, in April of 2020 and plan to release new music and tour extensively in 2022. www.thebandred.com
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown
There’s something Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown learned from the huge shows they’ve played supporting the likes of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses over the past few years. It’s what guitar prodigy Bryant calls “the cannonball approach”…
“I’m gonna run out like a bullet from a gun and let everyone know I’m here to give ’em all I’ve got,” he says.
And that’s precisely what The Shakedown do on their incendiary third album. ‘Truth and Lies’ is a taut and thrilling record, exploring Bryant’s blues heritage (‘Ride’), blistering heavy rock (‘Shock and Awe’), heartfelt balladry (‘Out There’), southern roots (‘Trouble’), love of the 90’s rock and roll movement (‘Eye to Eye’) and more…
“For me, there are a few different elements of The Shakedown,” Bryant says. “There’s the energetic, raw, jump-out-of-your-skin live version of us. Every night when we run on stage I get such an adrenaline rush that I feel like my heart and soul are going to come busting out of my skin. That version appears in rock songs, like ‘Drive Me Mad’, from the new album.
“And then there’s this other side, which is a little more sensitive, a little more insecure and hopeful, and you see that in songs like ‘Shape I’m In’, another new one.”
The urgency of ‘Truth and Lies’ comes partly from the speed of its recording…
After demoing 55 songs in Bryant’s home studio in Nashville, The Shakedown decamped to Studio G in Williamsburg, NY, earlier this year, where they laid down the 13 numbers that make up the record – mostly live, with a few overdubs – in just over two weeks. They worked quickly, with six time Grammy nominated producer Joel Hamilton (The Black Keys, Highly Suspect, Tom Waits), because they wanted the album to sound raw and visceral, not careful and labored.
They’ve done that, but without sacrificing skill and nuance: it’s a brilliant rock ‘n’ roll record that allows the ghosts of the past into the grooves whilst living firmly in the present.
There’s also a new level of depth to Bryant’s writing, inspired by his realization that, while there’s no shortage of quality singers and guitarists in the world, skill means nothing without great songs. So rather than being content with instrumental pyrotechnics, he set about writing compositions that had meaning to him – and that the kids in the audience would be able to relate to.
“I’ve never really spoken about this, but I deal with extreme anxiety and panic attacks,” he says. “It’s a vicious cycle that I think a lot of people find themselves in. Music’s always been my outlet to seek out healing and find the confidence and the power within myself. So (new album track) ‘Panic Button’ is me fighting against that cycle that I refuse to let control me. Or ‘Shape I’m In’ – ‘Don’t judge me by the shape I’m in / I’ll find a way to shine again’.
“There’s a hopeful undertone to a lot of the lyrics on this record. There’s new-found confidence that can be heard in songs like “On To The Next.” That song exists purely to make whoever is listening feel like a badass.
All of those shows – in intimate clubs as well as giant stadiums – reinforced the ties between the four musicians, giving them the extra confidence to produce something special when they went into the studio…
“We’ve played so many shows together that we can look at each other without saying anything and know what the next guy is going to do,” Bryant says. “It’s like when you see family members finishing each other’s sentences. We do that with music. We had so many years where we were beating our heads against a wall trying to make a living doing this, so getting the tour with AC/DC felt like the underdogs got a break. And that fueled us for a long time.
When we played with Chris Cornell, toured with Guns N’ Roses, and did our own headlining tour across Europe and the UK, that fueled us too.
All of these things have added fuel to our fire, and the fire is growing! I don’t think there is anything or anyone that can put it out – that comes across in the playing on the new album.”
The Shakedown want to spread that fire, now.
Bryant dismisses those who think rock ‘n’ roll is a declining force…
“It’s about what it’s always been about: Resilience and rebellion. It’s about flying your flag regardless of what everyone else is doing – and regardless of what everyone else thinks you should be doing. We could have listened to all those people who said, ‘Where do you fit in?’ and tried to put us in a box. Yeah, but we don’t fit in your silly little box! It’s about blowing up those boxes.
“You know, I think it’s a good time for a movement to happen, and we’ve been patiently waiting for these doors to get kicked open so we can cannonball through with our version of what the rock ‘n’ roll flag should be.”
Although it’s Bryant’s name on the marquee, The Shakedown is very much a band. Drummer Caleb Crosby has been with Bryant since the latter moved from Texas to Nashville to start a group when he was 17. Bassist Noah Denney and guitarist Graham Whitford make up the quartet, bringing fire and skill to the music. You can hear their fine-tuned understanding in the way ‘Truth and Lies’ grooves and rolls.
“I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical,” says Bryant, “but when you press play on the record and ‘Shock & Awe’ starts, I think: ‘That’s the Shakedown!’ It could be no one else making that noise.”
Maybe the clearest testimony to the power of Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown comes in the form of a tweet Bryant saw earlier this year. A fan had tagged the band on a message noting their many fans amongst the most illustrious names in rock ‘n’ roll.
“He said: ‘If Jeff Beck and AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses and ZZ Top and Chris Cornell like Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, so should you’.” Bryant pauses. “And I thought: ‘You make a damn good case, kid’.”
Stop reading now, just listen. Because Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown make a damn good case for themselves all on their own.
We Came As Romans
Since the release of the milestone debut album, 2009’s To Plant a Seed, diehard fans depend on We Came As Romans to deliver intimate, confessional, and autobiographical anthems, each one challenging, triumphant, and passionate. Darkbloom is a bright light in the darkness with the strength of every WCAR album before it. Singer David Stephens, guitarist Joshua Moore, bassist Andy Glass, guitarist Lou Cotton, and drummer David Puckett usher in an ambitious, courageous new era, while honoring the legacy and memory of their fallen bandmate, co-vocalist and keyboardist Kyle Pavone.
We Came As Romans’ initial ascent was quick and assured, catapulting the band (who met as teens) into the hearts of diehard fans immersed in the metalcore, post-hardcore, and Warped Tour subculture. Their hook-filled heavy music carried an uplifting message and connects with even greater urgency live. The increasingly diverse catalog of metallic might, melodic strength, and electronic atmosphere soars in clubs, theaters, and fests. They’ve supported tastemaker acts like Bring Me The Horizon, I Prevail, A Day To Remember, Falling In Reverse, Bullet For My Valentine, and The Used.
Moore and Stephens are a formidable writing team. Crowds connected with the songs on To Plant a Seed and its follow-up, 2011’s Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be. They entered Billboard’s Independent Albums chart at No. 1 with 2013’s Tracing Back Roots. Metal Hammer described 2015 self-titled fourth album as “a massive departure from their comfort zone. Where once there was positivity, patience, and platitudes, there is now pain.” AltPress declared 2017’s Cold Like War a “milestone,” noting the “expanded range of sounds, emotions, and songwriting capabilities.”
Roughly a year after Cold Like War’s release, an accidental overdose took Pavone’s life. A devastated WCAR vowed to continue, in his memory, for each other, and for their fans. Each record marks a moment in time, a stage in the process of continuing evolution, none more so than Darkbloom. Shaped by their collective loss and grief, the album balances the optimistic vitality of WCAR’s most beloved work with stark realism and emotion. Like a flower emerging through concrete, We Came As Romans symbolize the transformative power of perseverance.
Post-genre art and music visionary Poppy has quickly risen to center-stage as an unassuming paragon of high culture, high fashion and high art. Embodying “alternative” in the truest sense of the word, she bleeds the boundaries between pop, progressive, and electronic underpinned by unpredictable time signatures shifts and heavy edge on her third full-length and debut for Sumerian Records, I Disagree.
I Disagree was a decisive document of her progression from internet phenomenon to musician of unparalleled aplomb, yielding critical acclaim in the form of cover stories for NME, Revolver, Kerrang!, Upset, TUSH and inclusion on several best of 2020 lists (#1 Upset, #12 Revolver, #19 Popbuzz, #23 Kerrang, etc.), as well as a GRAMMY nomination for Best Metal Performance (BLOODMONEY), making her the first solo female artist ever nominated in the category.
Poppy premiered the title track from EAT (NXT Soundtrack) in an iconic performance for the GRAMMYs that left fans begging for more until the EP’s surprise release as part of a major televised event in partnership with WWE.
She followed the EAT EP with the single Her to much acclaim for both the song and its innovative music video. Flux came next, accompanied by its own imaginative video directed by Poppy and the announcement of a new album of the same name. So Mean followed with an additional self-directed video – ahead of the full album drop on September 24, 2021.
Outside of music, Poppy also became the face of Viktor and Rolf’s blockbuster fragrance Flowerbomb with L’Oreal and recently launched 2 pairs of signature shoes in collaboration with KOI Footwear. She has also released two graphic novels, Genesis One & Poppy’s Inferno and her short film, I’m Poppy premiered at the 2019 Sundance Festival.
First impressions last a lifetime. Wolfgang Van Halen has prepared a lifetime to make his first impression. The songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist worked tirelessly towards the introduction of MAMMOTH [Explorer1], his self-titled 2021 debut album. Playing every instrument and singing each and every note, his music presents a personal and powerful perspective, balancing memorable hooks and tight technicality. As many times as audiences have experienced his talent alongside the likes of Tremonti, Clint Lowery, and of course, Van Halen, they meet Wolf as an individual for the very first time now.
“You only have one chance to make a first impression, and I wanted to do so to the best of my abilities,” he affirms. “Throughout the whole process, I was finding who I am musically and by the end, I got a pretty good handle on a sound I can claim for myself.”
His father often played guitar against his mother’s pregnant belly, and Wolf absorbed those vibrations from the womb. At the age of 10, his Pop gave him a drum kit for his birthday. To this day, Wolf considers himself “a drummer before anything else.” As he developed as a musician, he learned how to play guitar in order to perform “316” — which his father penned for him — at a 6th-grade talent show.
It may come as a surprise, but outside of his father teaching him one drumbeat from an AC/DC song, Wolfgang taught himself every instrument. “My dad wasn’t the best teacher,” he laughs. “I would ask him to play something, and then he would just proceed to be Eddie Van Halen. He would look at me and say, ‘Do that.’ to which I would laugh and sarcastically reply, ‘Sure thing, no problem.’”
In the summer of 2006 when he was 15 years old, Wolf grabbed a bass and began noodling. While at the legendary 5150 Studios, his impromptu woodshedding inspired Eddie and Uncle Alex. Endless family jam sessions followed. By summer’s end, Wolfgang phoned David Lee Roth’s manager and by winter Roth showed up for rehearsal. They rocked “On Fire,” and “That’s how the 2007 tour began,” says Wolf.
Not only did Wolf canvas the world with Van Halen while in high school, but he also held down the low end on 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth—which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200. When not on tour with Van Halen, he cut bass for Tremonti’s critically acclaimed Cauterize  and Dust  in addition to joining the band on the road. In 2019, Wolf handled drums and also played bass on half of the 10 songs for Clint Lowery’s solo debut, God Bless The Renegades.
In the midst of all this, at the beginning of 2015, Wolf broke ground on what would become MAMMOTH with producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Alter Bridge, Slash] behind the board. Wolf began to embrace his voice, inspired by everyone from his father, to bands like AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, TOOL, and Jimmy Eat World. “I’ve been singing my whole life, but it wasn’t until MAMMOTH that I really found my voice. Elvis was great, and he helped me gain the confidence to become a lead vocalist.”
“The name Mammoth is really special to me.” says Wolf. “Not only was it the name of Van Halen before it became Van Halen, but my father was also the lead singer. Ever since my dad told me this, I always thought that when I grew up, I’d call my own band Mammoth, because I loved the name so much. I’m so thankful that my father was able to listen to, and enjoy the music I made. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done and nothing made me happier than seeing how proud he was that I was continuing the family legacy.”
At this point, IN FLAMES are less of a band than they are a musical institution in the heavy music world. Since helping create Sweden’s legendary “Gothenburg Sound” three decades ago to their current status as melodic metal monoliths, the act have constantly eschewed trends in order to forge their own musical path. This is evident on their 13th full-length »I, The Mask«, which sees them reuniting with multi Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, MOTÖRHEAD), who also produced 2016’s »Battles«, in order to further redefine their sound. “I think it’s very difficult for IN FLAMES to be something we’re not and that dichotomy of melody and aggression will always be at the core of our identity,” vocalist Anders Fridén explains from a tour stop opening for DEEP PURPLE in Mexico. “We are always open to new ideas and don’t let anything limit us,” guitarist Björn Gelotte adds. “We just ask ourselves if we will love playing this stuff live… and as long as we feel that, nothing can really touch us.”
Unlike previous recordings, this time around Fridén and Gelotte holed up in Los Angeles for three weeks prior to the production of »I, The Mask« and came up with a bulk of the songs during those sessions. “For »Battles« I wrote a lot of the material at home first but for this one, Anders and I really wanted to just get in a room together and see where it would take us,” Gelotte explains, adding that Benson would frequently drop by and act as a filter for their creativity. “I think this process worked really well because a lot of the lyrics fed off the music or Anders would come up with a really powerful line and it would inspire a riff, so there was a lot of symbiosis between us in the songwriting.” From there the duo fleshed out the arrangements with guitarist Niclas Engelin, bassist Bryce Paul Newman and previous drummer Joe Rickard and then spent two months tracking the songs. (»I, The Mask« is also the last recording to feature Rickard who was subsequently replaced by Tanner Wayne who played on the track ‘(This Is Our) House.’) Finally, the album was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, who has worked with everyone from CHEAP TRICK to LINKIN PARK and mastered by Ted Jensen (PANTERA, EAGLES, GUNS N’ ROSES).
The result is a massive-sounding album that showcases why IN FLAMES are one of the biggest metal bands in the world. From the way acoustic guitars give way to to anthemic riffing on the power ballad ‘Call My Name’ to the relentless riffing on ‘Burn’ and sweetly syncopated groove of ‘I Am Above,’ »I, The Mask« sees the band stretching out musically and crafting music that’s as catchy as it is crushing. As the driving force behind the act, it was important for Fridén to challenge himself on the album and take vocal lessons three days a week in order to expand his own arsenal of abilities. “I wanted to do something new and take things to another level when it came to the vocals,” he explains. “I know what I’m capable of and I feel more confident today taking higher notes and being able to push my voice in a higher register, so that’s something I really wanted to explore as well.”
Lyrically, »I, The Mask« is in many ways a social commentary on the state of the world when it comes to isolation, loneliness and the way technology has subverted our need for genuine human connection. “Instead of being connected we divide ourselves into all of these little groups and if you scratch the surface most people’s lives are miserable,” Fridén explains. “I thought about that and how we all carry a mask around and how in our striving to become better, I think we’re actually going backwards.” However there is also a level of hopefulness that’s inherent in the sentiment of »I, The Mask«, which is showcased in songs like ‘(This Is Our) House.’ “That song is a call to arms and it’s saying, ‘We need to unite because we’re going in the wrong direction,’” he explains. “We might have ten years to stop the pollution of the planet. We aren’t going to die on the 11th year but we can’t turn it back from that and it’s a slow process of rebuilding our house, so I think it’s a strong lyrical theme and one that is unifying as well.”
Admittedly if you listen to 1996’s »The Jester Race« next to »I, The Mask«, there are marked musical differences, but through the course of IN FLAMES’ output you can trace their evolution and hear how they managed to remain relevant by never getting complacent. “The way we write music is super challenging but it’s also super rewarding,” Gelotte explains, adding that as the band have improved as musicians it’s opened up countless sonic and creative possibilities. “We’ve never been the type of band who likes to show-off but we like to have fun making music and working with Howard [Benson] was one of the first times where we actually listened to someone from the outside – and I think it was his first time working with a band like us, too,” he adds. “The instrumentation on the album is pretty straight-forward on this album, but there are so many layers in a lot of these songs that if you’re interested you can really dig into it and it will live on for a long time.”
That said, ultimately IN FLAMES are a live band and they can’t wait to get back on the road and share this new collection of songs with fans, whether they’ve supported the band for decades or are recent converts to their sound. “I love the act of creating something from nothing and then getting to travel the world and play these songs and see how they affect people,” Fridén summarizes. “It’s extremely rewarding to hear how a certain song moves someone and then you talk to someone else and learn that it affected them in a profoundly different way. The dynamic between the creator and the fans and what they bring to the table is such an amazing feeling, so that’s a big part of our drive. To make something and share it with the world, that’s what we were meant to do.”
Some musicians take a while to build an audience and connect with fans. For the Los Angeles-based quartet Dirty Honey, success came right out of the gate. Released in March 2019, the band’s debut single, “When I’m Gone,” became the first song by an unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Their second single, “Rolling 7s,” went into the Top 5 and was still headed up when COVID changed everything. That same year, Dirty Honey opened for The Who, Guns ’N Roses, Slash, and Alter Bridge and was the “do-not-miss-band” at major rock festivals such as Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, Heavy MTL, and Epicenter. On its first U.S. headline tour in January and February 2020, the band sold out every date.
When it came time to record its self-titled full-length debut album, the band—vocalist Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone—wasn’t about to mess with what was already working. Teaming up with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), who also produced the band’s 2019 self-titled EP, Dirty Honey again captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound.
“As a guitarist, I’m always inspired by the everlasting pursuit of the perfect riff,” says Notto. “I also wanted to extend the artistic statement that we had already made. We weren’t looking to sound different, or prove our growth, necessarily. It was more about, ‘Oh, you thought that was good? Hold my beer.'”
“Because of the pandemic,” added drummer Coverstone, “we had a lot more time to write and prepare, which was great. It meant that we were able to workshop the songs a lot more, and I think it really made a difference.”
Dirty Honey’s album indeed builds on the band’s output to date, with airtight songwriting that plays up their strengths: sexy, bluesy, nasty rock’n’roll, melodic hard rock, and soulful 70s blues-rock. On “The Wire,” LaBelle reaffirms his status as one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists, while “Another Last Time” is a raunchy, timeless ballad about a toxic relationship that you just can’t stop saying goodbye to. “Tied Up” and the album’s lead single “California Dreamin,’’ both feature smoking guitar solos bookended by massive riffs and hooks.
“‘California Dreaming’ was the last song we wrote,” said bassist Justin Smolian. “We finished it about two weeks before we recorded it, so the song was still so new, and we were trying out different things, so every take was a little different. But there was that one where we just captured it, and it was magic.”
Although each band member started playing music as kids—at the age of eight, Notto’s parents even bought him a red-and-white Stratocaster—each one brings eclectic influences to Dirty Honey’s sound. For example, drummer Coverstone has studied with jazz and L.A. session drummers but loves heavy metal; Notto grew up listening to ’70s funk and R&B as well as rock ‘n’ roll, and bassist Smolian has a bachelor of music in classical guitar and loves Tom Petty and The Beach Boys.
LaBelle meanwhile, takes cues from his songwriting idols (to name a few, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and the late Chris Cornell) when coming up with lyrics. As a result, the songs on the Dirty Honey album hint at life’s ebbs and flows—shattering heartbreak, romantic connection, intense soul-searching—while giving listeners space to draw their own conclusions.
“Sometimes, if you just let lyrics pass behind your ears, they sound like cool shit is being said,” LaBelle says. “And then once you dive in, you realize, ‘Oh, that’s really thoughtful.’ But it still doesn’t have a meaning that’s easy to pinpoint. There’s an overarching idea that is really cool, but it’s not necessarily on-the-nose.”
Although the Dirty Honey album may sound effortless, its genesis had a bumpy start. The day before the band members were due to fly to Australia to track the album, Los Angeles entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling was off the table. However, Dirty Honey was still eager to work with DiDia, so they devised a Plan B: recording the full-length in a Los Angeles studio with one of DiDia’s long-time engineers, and the producer beamed into the proceedings via the magic of modern technology.
“He was able to listen to what we were laying down in real-time, through this app,” says LaBelle. It was like he was in the room with us. It was surprisingly seamless the way it all went down.”
Having to switch gears delayed the start of recording slightly, although this extra time ended up being a boon. Dirty Honey rented a rehearsal space and demoed the album’s songs in advance, meaning the tracks were in good shape when DiDia came onboard. Notto mixed and recorded these workshopped tracks himself, which helped him rediscover one of Dirty Honey’s biggest strengths: being well-rehearsed while not over polishing their work.
“I’ve learned just a little bit more about what people might mean when they say, magic—you know, ‘This one has the magic,'” he says. “We would do two and three different demos of a song, so there would be a few versions. On a few occasions, the version that people kept going back to was the sloppiest, if you look at it from a performance standpoint.”
LaBelle agrees. “It’s just about getting the performance right and not thinking about it too much. I never like to be perfect in the studio. None of the stuff that I really liked as a kid was. I don’t really see myself getting away from that too much in the future just because I think you lose the soul if you do it too many times, if it’s too perfect.”
Notto also admits that the creative process isn’t necessarily always all fun and games. But for him and the rest of Dirty Honey, pushing through those tough times and coming out stronger on the other side is worth it. “When you finally come through on those moments, that’s where the real magic comes in,” he says. “What makes all of our songs fun to play and listen to is we don’t allow ourselves to stop short of getting the best possible results out of each one of them.”
The HU is a band from Mongolia that blends heavy metal and traditional Mongolian throat singing. Their first two videos (“Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”) immediately went viral garnering the band over 100 million views. The explosive reaction to The HU resulted in a number of features about the band in international media such as NPR, ET India Times, Playboy Mexico, Jack Canal+Fr, Hong Kong 01, DW News Germany and others.
The band’s name The HU, is the Mongolian root word for human being. They call their style “Hunnu Rock”…inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire, known as The Huns in western culture. Some of the band’s lyrics include old Mongolian war cries and poetry.
Founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by their producer Dashka, along with the members Gala, Jaya, Temka, and Enkush. The HU combines Rock Music with traditional Mongolian instrumentation like the Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), Tumur Khuur (jaw harp), guttural throating singing and the bombastic bass and drums of rock. All four members have earned Bachelor’s or higher degrees in music and have several years of touring experience throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Since the formation of the band, they’ve been working on their first album, The Gereg. The word Gereg was used as the first Diplomatic “Passport” by the Mongol empire during the time of Genghis Khan. The album contains nine songs including viral hits “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”, and was released on September 13, 2019 via Better Noise Music (f/k/a Eleven Seven Music).
Expectations never mattered to Bad Wolves. Instead, the Los Angeles band fused unpredictable metallic
intensity and impressive instrumental proficiency to arena-ready hooks, transforming from underdogs
into elite platinum-certified hard rock contenders without compromise or apology. Since 2017, the core
group—John Boecklin [drums], Doc Coyle [lead guitar, backing vocals], Chris Cain [rhythm guitar], and
Kyle Konkiel [bass, backing vocals]—have consistently subverted expectations and accomplished the
seemingly impossible. In 2018, the band earned a platinum plaque, topped iTunes, and ruled Active Rock
at #1 for three weeks straight. This momentum also propelled their debut album, Disobey, to a Top 25
debut on the Billboard Top 200. In between performing to sold out audiences on multiple continents
with heavyweights such as Five Finger Death Punch and Megadeth, 2019’s N.A.T.I.O.N. yielded their fifth
straight #1 at Active Rock, “Sober,” and brought their total stream tally past the half-billion mark—
unprecedented for a modern rock band. Not to mention, LoudWire hailed it among the “50 Best Rock
Albums of 2019” as Billboard and Consequence of Sound chronicled their rise. In the midst of 2021, Bad
Wolves welcomed Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz—previously of The Acacia Strain—as lead vocalist, ushering in
a new chapter with their third full-length offering, Dear Monsters, [Better Noise Music], led by the single
Under any and all circumstances, brothers depend on each other. Maintaining an unspoken, yet unbreakable bond for nearly three decades, Sevendust draw strength from one another on their thirteenth full-length and second release for Rise Records, Blood & Stone. The GRAMMY® Award-nominated Atlanta quintet—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint Lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—weather anything the world throws at them as a unit.
Not only do they stand strong together, but they also come out swinging as a raw, real, and relevant force.
“At this point, we’ve gone through all of the shit you can imagine,” Morgan remarks. “We’ve been beaten down to the ground, left on the verge of bankruptcy, and robbed blind by people who were supposed to be taking care of us. We’ve dealt with divorces and addiction. However, music has been our way of leaning on each other through all of it. We find a way to work through everything. This band means more to me now than it ever did, because we built something really special and still put on a show worthy of being in the game.”
“This is a bunch of guys who share a mutual respect and love,” adds Lajon. “We grew up together. When we go in and write, it’s a cool and magical experience. It was relevant then; it’s relevant now. We always consider our fans family. Hopefully, Blood & Stone helps them.”
Sevendust built a legacy out of records and stages left soaked in blood, sweat, and tears. Since their formation in 1994, they delivered three classic gold-certified albums—Sevendust , Home , and Animosity —and sold upwards of three million records worldwide. Seasons , Cold Day Memory , and Kill The Flaw  each bowed in the Top 15 of the Billboard Top 200. The latter’s lead single “Thank You” received a nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance” at the 2016 GRAMMY® Awards, representing a career first. Along the way, they sold out countless shows around the globe and lit up iconic festivals such as Sonic Temple, Woodstock, OZZfest, and Shiprocked! 2018’s All I See Is War earned some of the best reviews of the group’s career as Associated Press claimed, “The band does what it wants and deserves as many ears as possible.” Energized by a particularly prolific period, Sevendust reconvened at Studio Barbarosa with Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Alter Bridge, Trivium, Slash] during late 2019. Fresh from All I See Is War and respective solo outings, Clint and John literally fired on all cylinders.
“John had just done a bunch of writing for Projected, and Clint had just recorded his solo album, so they were both in writing mode,” recalls Morgan. “The riffs were developed. It had already started to take shape very early. With those guys being so prepared, the writing was seamless. Instead of getting tapped out, they got even better.”
Sevendust throw a curveball by introducing Blood & Stone to the world with a haunting, hypnotic, and hard-hitting cover of Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried To Live.” It preserves the spirit of the original while bringing a sense of stark soul.
“I have no idea why in the fuck we tried to bite that one off,” laughs Morgan. “Chris Cornell is arguably the greatest singer of many generations, and we’re all big fans. Overall, we did our homework and stayed close to the original, but Lajon killed it.”
“Clint and I actually went to see Soundgarden right when Sevendust was starting as a band,” recalls Lajon. “It was an experience I’ll never forget. Chris Cornell had a fearless energy live. It was just incredible. They’re an inspiration to all of us and people everywhere. I came in with a humble heart and just did what I do.”
Meanwhile, the album opener and single “Dying To Live” tosses and turns between crushing distortion and harmonic squeals before Lajon carries one of the band’s catchiest choruses to date. Tight grooves give way to whispers on the bridge before screams take hold again.
“It’s one of those heavy-hitters,” grins Lajon. “With what’s been going on in the world, it’s a song that really punches.”
“‘Dying To Live’ has everything the band embodies,” adds Morgan. “There are songs like ‘Denial’ we all agreed on. ‘Dying To Live’ is another one. It’s exactly what we’re about and might be the most profound tune we’ve come up with in a long time. There are hooks all over it!”
Clean guitar slips into a head-spinning bounce on “Blood From A Stone.” The track subsides on a sweeping refrain, “Sorry for the things that I have done. You took it from me like blood from a stone.”
“It’s any relationship where the other person wants to suck every drop out of you,” Morgan continues. “It’s something everyone has been through.”
Elsewhere, an airy guitar lead resounds as “Criminal” runs towards a striking vocal run culminating on a question, “Who’s our hero now if I’m so criminal?” From the bludgeoning “Love” to the delicate delivery of “Kill Me,” Blood & Stone highlights the scope of Sevendust’s signature style. “Wish You Well” leaves off on a unified statement, “We pull together through the worst.”
“We wanted to end with something powerful,” affirms Lajon. “It felt like the perfect conclusion.”
In the end, the brotherhood at the heart of Sevendust burns brightly.
“When we do anything, it’s real, and it’s from the heart,” Lajon leaves off. “We mean every word we write. I can’t wait for the Sevendust family to hear Blood & Stone. I hope it opens more doors. I never take this journey for granted. I can’t wait for what’s next.”
“We have the most loyal base of supporters I’ve ever seen,” Morgan concludes. “They’ve been here for so long. We delivered a solid record. We’re a blue-collar band, and we’re going to grind it all the way out. I know our loyalty will keep us where we are.” — Rick Florino, June 2020
Alexisonfire rose up out of the Southern Ontario underground indie scene in late 2001. It wasn’t long before they were touring the world spreading their brand of rock n roll across all borders. The band released four hugely successful and critically acclaimed studio albums, all certified Platinum in their native country, Canada: Alexisonfire (2002), Watch Out! (2004), Crisis (2006), and Old Crows/Young Cardinals (2009). Crisis debuted at #1 on the Top 200 Soundscan (Canada), and Old Crows/Young Cardinals debuted at #2, and charted at #9 on the US Billboard Independent Album chart.
The band has topped charts and garnered press praise from Alternative Press, Loudwire, Brooklyn Vegan, Exclaim!, Kerrang!, Revolver, RockSound, and many more. Alexisonfire sold-out their 10 Year Anniversary tour (2012) which touched down on four continents in 24 days further to this, following the release of “Familiar Drugs” (2019), their first single in 10 years, they played to sold out crowds for two night stays in Los Angeles, New York, London and Toronto, illustrating how meaningful the band still is to their legion of fans worldwide. The band also has the distinction of being one of a handful of Canadian artists to perform two consecutive sold-out nights at the iconic Toronto venue Budweiser Stage (30,000 tickets sold) alongside City and Colour, (Dallas Green from Alexisonfire) Drake, The Tragically Hip, Daniel Caesar and Sarah McLachlan.
The band still generated half-a-million streams per month, even during inactive periods, further proving the dedication of the fanbase.
“Spiritbox is where serene art-rock and metal savagery meet.” – Loudwire
The existential dread of isolation and the wondrous alchemy of artisans, ensconced in a self-imposed enclave of creativity, have converged in the music of SPIRITBOX. Part post-metal band, part art collective, SPIRITBOX makes magic in the musical and visual mediums, evoking spirits like that other type of “medium.” Not unlike the arcane occult technology of their namesake, SPIRITBOX communes with people all around the world, via broad emotional outbursts of sound.
Conjuring spirits through music and video as do-it-yourself artists from their remote place of worship, the burgeoning arts community of Vancouver Island, the husband and wife duo of Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer inspired a cult following from their first emergence in 2017. It wasn’t long before bassist Bill Crook was baptized into the fold, expanding the outfit to a trio.
A self-titled EP introduced SPIRITBOX to the world, enchanting an even broader spectrum of the esoteric minded sort. Singles Collection, the five-song set that followed in 2019, documents LaPlante’s struggle with depression, while emphasizing the band’s genre-transcending musical prowess. From melancholy to madness, from hopelessness to redemption, SPIRITBOX is a complete extension of its creators. As Revolver Magazine pointed out in a glowing profile, the band’s 2020 breakout single, “Holy Roller,” is both “insanely catchy and totally crushing.” Most strikingly perhaps, like everything SPIRITBOX, “Holy Roller” was fashioned free from compromise.
There is nothing pandering or remotely insincere about this band. That authenticity is what attracts its religiously devoted adherents, an ever-growing “denomination” of diverse people. The obsessive nature of the burgeoning fandom is a testament to the immersive quality of SPIRITBOX. As the ghostly phrase from the late ‘80s baseball movie goes, “If you build it, they will come.”
Escape The Fate
ESCAPE THE FATE is a three-word phrase synonymous with heavy rock n’ roll and hooks, post-hardcore with weight, and unrelenting genre-redefining anthems built for diverse audiences. Over a decade into their young career, they have proven to move crowds equally at major rock radio festivals, the legendary Vans Warped Tour, or on the road with Five Finger Death Punch.
CHEMICAL WARFARE is the sound of a band that’s more comfortable in their own skin than ever, recharged for the next era of their career, reinvigorated, and redefined, without losing any edge.
“I hope that people think of Escape The Fate as a good time, but a good time in a better way,” singer Craig Mabbitt explains. “We want people to connect deeply with the music and disappear in it. Get lost and then return from the album, or show, feeling inspired about themselves. We want to make people feel better about life, to know they can take on all of its hardships. That’s what the music does for us as a band. That’s what we want it to do for the audience, too.”
Mabbitt, Thrasher, TJ Bell, and Robert Ortiz have each been making music, and on the road, before they were old enough to drive. ESCAPE THE FATE is poised to shatter all preconceived notions about the past, with a bold step forward into their future. It’s not their storied and beloved music, which regularly captures roughly 2 million listeners across streaming services each month, that requires any distance. It’s the decadence, drama, and retrograde “bad boy” image that they’ve left in the dust.
For almost 30 years, John 5 has been one of the most in-demand guitar players on the planet. As well as a guitarist for hire, 5 has shared the stage as axe-man for Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Rob Halford. He has also worked with an impressive array of names, from all walks of music, including KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Dave Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Tina Guo and Steven Adler.
To call John 5 a shredder does not do him justice. There’s little he can’t put his hand to.
John 5 was born John William Lowery, on July 31st 1970, in Gross Pointe Michigan. His love of guitar began at age seven, when he began watching the Hee Haw series with his father. “I watched the guitar playing and knew that was what I wanted to do. My friends wanted to be astronauts and such but all I wanted to do was play and play and play”. Other notable influences included KISS and Jimi Hendrix.
John 5’s solo career turned out not to be a flash in the pan, and he has now released 9 studio albums, a live album and a remix album . He has worked with several special guests on those albums, including Albert Lee who called John 5 “one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with“, Steve Vai who called John “underrated”, Joe Satriani, Jim Root, Eric Johnson and many more. As well as his solo albums John 5 teamed up with the vocal talents of Joe Grah (formerly of Texas band Jibe) to form “radio rock project” Loser. Their first single, ‘Disposable Sunshine’ featured on the Fantastic Four soundtrack.
In 2006, John 5 was invited to join Rob Zombie for a short Ozzfest tour. Despite being told “not to get too comfortable”, the pairing brought a resurgence in Zombie, who at the point was turning his hand to directing movies and taking a break from music, they began work on 2006’s ‘Educated Horses’. As a consequence John 5 had to make the decision to leave his fledgling band Loser. “Being the founding member of Loser, my decision to leave was not an easy one.”
In 2015, following a series of web shows to celebrate the release of his solo album ‘Careful With That Axe”, John 5 decided to take his solo set on tour, and formed The Creatures band to support his live shows. Initially joined by long-term friend Rodger Carter on drums, the band continues touring to this day, and now work as a unit on 5’s solo albums, including ‘Season Of The Witch’, the live album ‘It’s Alive’ and 2019’s ‘Invasion’. The current line-up includes John 5, Ian Ross on bass and drummer Logan Miles Nix.
Although John 5 does less “hired gun” work, he has contributed to work with Lynryd Skynrd, Meatloaf, Ricky Martin, Rod Stewart, Motley Crue and Rod Stewart.
“I’m busy, constantly busy with work but I look at who I am in the studio with or sending music to and I think I don’t ever want it to stop.”
Crown The Empire
A sweeping self-awareness and expansive creativity are at the heart of CROWN THE EMPIRE, the modern post-metalcore anthem makers who embrace their dirty rock roots and stadium-ready melodies with bold courage. Swift to adapt to the rapidly mutating landscape yet steady in their convictions, Crown The Empire were born in the belly of new technology, generating songs and music videos online before they’d even played a show.
Now of course their stage performances are the stuff of subculture legend and electric buzz, crisscrossing the globe in clubs, theaters, festivals, and the Vans Warped Tour, with elaborate high-energy showmanship in spades. What began as high-school pals posting clips on YouTube has grown to over 60 million views on the platform alone; endless streams of songs like “Machines,” “Retrograde,” “Hologram,” and “Voices”; and several Billboard 200 accomplishments, including a Number 1 debut on the Top Rock Charts.
Alternative Press anointed them as Best Breakthrough Band and with good reason. Praised enthusiastically as “thrilling,” “progressive,” and “dynamic,” by tastemaker genre publications like Rock Sound, Kerrang! and Outburn (who, like AltPress, put the band on their cover), Crown The Empire climbed to the top of an emergent style by jettisoning the scene’s most formulaic traits.
As the roadmap for garage bands all but disappeared, Crown The Empire brazenly chose their own path, driven with inspired purpose and identity. Across three full-length albums – The Fallout (2012), The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways (2014), and Retrograde (2016) – Crown The Empire challenge convention placing equal emphasis on grandiose theatricality and dirty grime. Even their colorful clothing put them at invigorating odds with their peers and friends on the touring circuit, injecting whimsical anarchy into the hegemony.
These are musicians inspired as much by classic movie filmmakers and prestige television as Linkin Park, Slipknot, and My Chemical Romance, the sum total of their sonic, visual, and lifestyle experience. A cinematic sensibility permeates each chapter in the band’s story, from the epic thematic darkness of their earlier work to the sci-fi dystopian ambience of new songs like “20/20.”
Borderline industrial, yet far from mechanical, Crown The Empire are the musical equivalent of a practical effects driven film that knows when and where to use digital enhancements without sacrificing its raw authenticity. Unrelenting energy collides with sonic adventure to make captivating songs.
This is a musical collective grappling with life’s bigger mysteries, the quest for knowledge and meaning, and an urgent examination of the decisions that led humankind here. This band of brothers have reached a level of nonverbal communication on stage, the type of rapport shared only by true sojourners.
Even with these heady aspirations, Crown The Empire never forgets the celebration. Everything the band has poured into the living, breathing, evolving entity they’ve created live and in the
studio amounts to a cathartic, revelatory experience for the group’s members and the audience they share.
Super-intense and high-energy songs will always remain a part of the Crown The Empire mission statement. There are no pretensions, no “sellouts,” no concessions to falsely inflated expectations beyond their own creative ambition. It’s a journey that’s been marked by growth at every turn, coalescing into the modern incarnation of Crown The Empire, a band that’s built to last.
For London-bred band BONES UK, every song is a chance to speak their minds with total freedom, to shed light on the extreme disconnect between the status quo and the far more glorious world inside their heads. On their self-titled debut album, out now via Sumerian Records, vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg confront everything from the beauty industrial complex to toxic masculinity to music-scene sexism, embedding each track with choruses primed for passionate shouting-along. With their galvanizing energy and relentless joie de vivre, BONES UK offer up an album that’s both provocative and endlessly exhilarating, even in its most outraged moments.
True to the L.A.-based band’s anti-conformist spirit, BONES UK unfolds with an entirely uncontainable sound, a riff-heavy collision of rock-and-roll and rough-edged electronic music. In forging that sound, Rosie and Carmen worked in close collaboration with producer Filippo Cimatti, who shaped the album’s kinetic textures with lavish use of electronic bass. Matched by Carmen’s masterful yet inventive guitar work and Rosie’s magnetic voice—an instrument that seamlessly slips from menacing to stunningly tender—the result is a bold new sonic world, savage and frenetic and infinitely mesmerizing.
On the album-opening “Beautiful Is Boring,” BONES UK bring serpentine riffs and sinister grooves to a feverish statement against societal expectations of beauty. “We’re living in an era when everyone’s being airbrushed into looking all the same, when really it’s imperfections that make you beautiful,” says Rosie. On “Filthy Freaks,” the band twists the narrative to an all-out celebration of the perfectly imperfect, the song’s bright tempo and surf-rock rhythms backed by Rosie’s brazen lyrics (e.g., “I like your leather/But I like it better on my floor”).
Raw defiance also fuels tracks like “Pretty Waste”—a dizzying anti-anthem driven by blistering beats and Rosie’s haunting vocal delivery. “It’s about this idea that if you’re a girl, you can’t be both attractive and smart,” Rosie says. “We wanted to show that you can be feminine and strong and tough and angry all at the same time: you can be whatever you want to be.” Another moment of brilliant fury, “Leach” lashes out against all the creeps BONES UK have encountered in their wanderings around L.A., cleverly contrasting their venomous lyrics with swinging rhythms and flamenco-inspired strumming. And on “I’m Afraid of Americans,” BONES UK bring that sardonic mood to a divinely snarling cover of David Bowie’s late-’90s hit, instilling the track with a wild new urgency.
Elsewhere on the album, BONES UK shift from the restless reverie of “Souls” to the dreamy balladry of “Black Blood” to the swampy blues of “Girls Can’t Play Guitar,” echoing the deliberate unpredictability of the album-making process. “We recorded everywhere—in bathrooms, in the backs of cars,” says Rosie, noting that most of Bones came to life in their basement studio in Laurel Canyon. “We’re together all the time and we love that freedom of being able to record whenever we want. We don’t need that pressure of going into some big studio; we’d much rather just be instinctive about it.”
All throughout their thrilling debut the band shows the sharpness of their instincts, an element that each musician has spent her whole life honing. Growing up in Italy, Carmen began playing violin at age five, but soon felt compelled to take up guitar. “My dad played me a VHS of Woodstock, and when I saw Jimi Hendrix I just went, That’s what I wanna do,” she recalls. Classically trained in guitar from age six, she later ventured into blues and rock, eventually crossing paths with Rosie after playing a 2014 gig at a blues bar in Camden. “I went up to her afterward and we drank several bottles of whiskey, and we pretty much started playing together right away,” says Rosie. Born and raised in London, Rosie had gotten her start as a drummer but switched to guitar as a tool for her songwriting. “It’s always been all about the lyrics for me—using songs to tell stories and paint a picture, in a way that actually says something about the world,” she notes. (An art-school dropout, Rosie also designs all the artwork for BONES UK, with the band working together to create each of their outrageously cinematic videos.)
After recruiting Filippo (a former classmate of Carmen’s at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Surrey), BONES UK began pushing toward the heady complexity that now defines their music. “We all come from such different backgrounds, and BONES UK is the amalgamation of that,” says Carmen. “When we realized what we could create together, it was like we didn’t have a choice—we had to just keep going.” Moving to L.A. in 2017, the band made their name as an incendiary live act, soon taking the stage at major festivals like Lollapalooza and touring with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and The Cult.
Joined onstage by their drummer Heavy, BONES UK now see their live set as the ideal medium for their ever-expanding message, a vehicle for both catharsis and transformation. “Music is the most powerful platform you could possibly have, because it has the potential to move people in so many ways,” says Rosie. “We feel like we have a duty to use our platform to talk about the things we care about, and hopefully end up empowering and inspiring people, and help give them the confidence to be who they really are.”
“Witnessing (BONES UK) live is as memorable as the album.”
“Poignant… set against an electro-punk backdrop, the track addresses shutting down negativity.”
- Alternative Press
“Shower after watching BONES UK’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” video… their cover of the David Bowie song gets a muddy 2019 revamp.”
- The FADER
“Like the greats before her, (Vandenberg) finds inventive, magical sweet spots that become her voice. No one can teach that, so a listen is worth it to hear that intangible quality alone.”
- Premier Guitar
Fierce individuality and a fearless embrace of the outsider are at the heart of TETRARCH, the tenacious powerhouse equally defined by metallic power and melodic hooks. Seamlessly blending technical chops and aggressive ferocity with menacing groove and massive choruses, TETRARCH obliterate the barriers between shred and swing, across a series of independent EPs and two blistering full-length albums. TETRARCH anthems like “I’m Not Right,” “Pull the Trigger,” “Oddity,” and “Freak” emphasize the brightest of hard rock’s future with a respectful nod to its past.
Vocalist and guitarist Josh Fore, lead guitarist Diamond Rowe, bassist Ryan Lerner, and drummer Ruben Limas first came together in the American South, before leaving Atlanta, Georgia behind for the hessian hotbed of Los Angeles. TETRARCH’s expanding songbook has made them beloved by both Guitar Player and Revolver; by NAMM attending musicians and SiriusXM radio listeners; uniting open-minded fans across the heavy music spectrum while sharing stages with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Korn, and appealing to devotees of Linkin Park, Slipknot, and Trivium.
Punishing heaviness is the very foundation throughout everything they do. The band combines the wide-reaching accessibility of hard rock’s most commercially successful acts with the frantic dexterity of thrash-n-groove “cred” merchants, all without losing their own musical identity. TETRARCH have made believers out of diehards who worship everything from Mudvayne to Gojira.
Rowe became the first African American female lead guitarist from the heavy metal genre to be featured in major guitar publications, including Guitar World, Guitar Player, and Premiere Guitar. As Guitar World wrote, “The songs on Freak are built to bludgeon. Between its mix of concrete-heavy beats and lead guitarist Diamond Rowe’s armor-piercing thrash leads, none of us are safe.”
As Guitar Girl Magazine declared in a glowing profile of “talented shredder and critical darling” Rowe, TETRARCH “is poised to become one of the biggest bands in contemporary metal.”
Formed in their mate’s bong shed in Coolum, Queensland 2016 at age seventeen, The Chats represent everything that’s good about Australia and nothing that’s bad: a rebel spirit, gallows humour and the endless hedonistic pursuit of A Bloody Good Time. Cold stubbies within close reach, 24-7.
Starting in their music class while at St Theresa’s Catholic College in Noosaville, a suburb of Noosa, Queensland, two hours north of Brisbane, they began practicing in the shed in nearby Verrierdale (pop: 775) during their final year of education (the school’s website notes “Whilst their music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they have certainly made an impact, and they continue to Dare the Dream.”). Their name meanwhile comes from the nearby suburb of Chatswood.
Drawing influence from the same fertile Australian pub rock scene that spawned everyone from AC/DC and The Saints to Cosmic Psychos and The Hard Ons, and sharing a similar singular self-contained approach to their art as such latter-day Aussie rock heroes as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Chats describe themselves as “dropkick drongos from the Sunshine Coast of Australia”. It’d be difficult to argue otherwise.
Their dress-down image of mullets, shorts, sports tops, thongs or a sandals-and-socks combo, and cheap sunnies celebrates this fact. But don’t by mislead: The Chats are sharper than you think, and they write killer songs that hold their own in any era. Their self-titled debut EP was recorded in their school’s studio in 2016 and featured seven joyous
sky-punching tracks that combined 60s garage punk and 70s new wave punk (highlights included ‘Mum Stole My Darts’ and the 53 seconds bratty thrash of ‘Yeah Nah’). It was followed in 2017 by Get This In Ya, another thrilling seven song slice of economic,
stripped-down, early Buzzcocks-styles punk tension, whose lyrics read like a litany of things to hate for youthful malcontents the world over (overdue social security payments, lack of bus fare, Nazis).
But where their forefathers cut their teeth on the spit-and-sawdust circuit of beer halls Down Under, The Chats bypassed years driving down dusty Outback roads when the lead single ‘Smoko’ became a 24-carat bona fide viral hit on Youtube. The Chats found themselves propelled from their Queensland shed to almost overnight renown in all the right circles.
Celebrating the great Aussie tradition of the cigarette break, an allotted smoking time protected by union law, and accompanied by a lo-fi video shot for no budget on a building site, ‘Smoko’ was a perfectly put together punk song protesting the drudgery of dole queue angst, minimum wage life and work-place hierarchies. Were they serious? wondered listeners / viewers. And, more importantly, who even cares? It didn’t matter: with its pared-down pop hooks, singer Eamon’s adolescent snarl and an unforgettable chorus,
‘Smoko’ was an instant classic of a youth anthem on a par with ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘My Generation’ or ‘Teenage Kicks’.
At the last count ‘Smoko’ has had more than 12 million views. Dave Grohl loved it so much he sent it to Josh Homme, who immediately booked the band to support Queens Of The Stone Age in Australia. Iggy Pop did the same when he played Melbourne, and keenly quizzed the band on their lyrical content. Idles were heard covering on the song on their recent Australian tour. At the time, singer Eamon was working at supermarket chain Coles. Adhering to the mantra ‘Business at the front, party at the back’ he currently maintains his mullet by trimming the front himself every couple of weeks, while his mum handles the rest of the tricky business. Drummer Matt, who was expelled from school for joyriding a golf buggy, is a professional skater.
In October 2018, The Chats brought their pub-punk (they prefer ‘shed rock’) to the UK, where all their shows sold out within a day and were immediately upgraded, including a memorable show at the Electric Ballroom, London, where they were joined onstage by Charlie Steen from Shame. Not bad considering the teenagers had never left Australia before. With two hundred gigs under their belts, The Chats began 2019 by signing a publishing deal with Universal Records and started their own label records, Bargain Bin Records
More music followed: single ‘Do What I Want’ (“about doing whatever the fuck you want”) and the glorious follow-up ‘Pub Feed’ (a paean to “above average” pub food, including
“chicken schnitty”, “parmigiana” and “rump steak – well done”) in 2019, a song that seems destined to take up residence in punk jukeboxes the world over. The Chats document the simple things in life, with songs that transcends language to tap straight into the youthful energy source. It’s a tricky artform that many attempt but at which few succeed. Still in their teens, The Chats have mastered it.
Mozart began composing at the age of four, but these boys were born singing anthems, and their debut album seems destined to be the greatest collection of music ever made, not only in Coolum, Queensland, but the entire universe. Every other musician should probably give up today.
Lacey Sturm is a Grammy-nominated queen of hard rock who secured a place in rock history as the first solo woman to top the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart with her debut album Life Screams. With a career spanning songs like “All Around Me,” “I’m So Sick,” “Again,” “Impossible,” “State of Me” and most recently “Awaken Love,” Lacey Sturm has proven herself as one of the most powerful and enduring voices in hard rock. She is also a sought-after speaker and author, penning the autobiographical books The Reason, The Mystery and The Return. Also a dedicated wife and mother, Lacey tours with her family, supported on stage by her guitarist husband Josh Sturm. You can connect with Lacey at www.laceysturm.com
Sick Of It All
New York City hardcore legends SICK OF IT ALL aren’t slowing down with age, the long-standing quartet are still pissed off, and the genre stalwarts still see many years ahead. SICK OF IT ALL remain a beacon of continuity, integrity, and resolve. That’s good news for SICK OF IT ALL fans and the hardcore scene. Since forming in 1986, SICK OF IT ALL have traveled the world many times over, played in front of hundreds of thousands, and released 11 acclaimed full-length albums, the latest of which is the riotous if anthemic Wake the Sleeping Dragon!. That SICK OF IT ALL continue to live by the standards in their original charter isn’t a matter of course, it’s part of their respective DNA. Hardcore is SICK OF IT ALL. “We’re a band that thrives from frustration,” says drummer Armand Majidi. “Aging seems to work well with our message, as opposed to a good-time band who sings about partying all night. There are so many horrible aspects of the world that become
more obvious to us year after year, which we didn’t see or understand before, which fuel our frustration every day. We’ve lived long enough now to see through the matrix, and thank goodness we have this band, so we can vent about it.”
And SICK OF IT ALL will voice, express, and declare their anger. As with pivotal albums Blood, Sweat and No Tears (1989), Scratch the Surface (1994), and The Last Act of Defiance (2014), the New Yorkers aren’t afraid to cut the crap on Wake the Sleeping Dragon!. Written and arranged with friend and producer The Jerry Farley (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die)—a first—opener “Inner Vision,” “Hardcore Horseshoe,” and “The Snake (Break Free)” retain SICK OF IT ALL’s signature sound but add melody, heaviness, and speed to the equation. Guest vocals by Tim McIlrath and Chuck Ragan add a new dynamic as well. Across Wake the Sleeping Dragon!’s 17 songs, SICK OF IT ALL have an album that observes tradition but has its eye on the future. “We didn’t shy away from stronger melodies on this album,” Majidi says. “So, there are some strikingly musical moments. Basically, we chose not to limit ourselves. The songs stand apart from each other by representing
many different musical styles that have influenced us.”
On Wake the Sleeping Dragon!, SICK OF IT ALL opted to change up the lyrical approach. While daily frustrations, political idiocy, war, power imbalances, and general inequality have long fueled SICK OF IT ALL’s no-bullshit lyrics—the album title Wake the Sleeping Dragon! refers to a protest mechanism—today they’re focusing on the bigger picture while also injecting a bit of levity into the songs. “On this record, we had a more open, communal, tongue-in-cheek approach to lyric writing,” says Majidi. “So many different topics were covered, some way more lighthearted than others. We’ve done ‘serious’ so often, that what might stand out most to people is how much fun we had with the lyrics. It’s always time for revolution, so that message is loud and clear on multiple songs, but we also sing about musical heroes like the Bad Brains (‘That Crazy White Boy Shit’), inner demons (‘The Snake (Break Free.)’), our distaste of animal abuse (‘Bull’s Anthem’), annoying narcissism on social media, friends we’ve lost, life on the road, impending wars for resources, as well as mosh pit patterns that can be linked to male pattern baldness. We’ve allowed ourselves greater lyrical freedom on this record for sure!”
For the cover, SICK OF IT ALL wanted it to tie directly into the lyrics. Designed by Ernie Parada from Hellgate Industries but inspired by Lou Koller and Parada’s ‘50s era monster movie poster idea, the cover to Wake the Sleeping Dragon! is striking in its use of yellows, oranges, reds, and black. That it also brings in SICK OF IT ALL’s Alleyway Dragon mascot captures not just the mind but part of the band’s history as well. “Lou and Ernie came up with the idea of doing monster-movie styled art as the cover,” Majidi says. “The dragon climbing the Empire State was a concept I always wanted to see brought to life, so the two ideas were destined to come together this way. I love the fact that although it’s the same artist, there’s no obvious aspect linking Ernie’s style from his first cover (2010’s Based On A True Story) to this one.”
Wake the Sleeping Dragon! was put to proverbial tape by The Jerry Farley at Nova Studios in Staten Island, New York over two weeks and a half, while Danish producer Tue Madsen (Meshuggah, The Haunted) mixed and mastered SICK OF IT ALL’s latest rager at Antfarm Studios in Aabyhøj, Denmark. What helped the process run smoothly was Farley’s
early involvement, the two five-day pre-production sessions, and the ability to record as SICK OF IT ALL progressed with the songwriting. “The Jerry Farley also became a very important part of the creation of this album,” Majidi says. “This is the first time we’ve ever had a producer involved from start to finish, including the songwriting process. His objective viewpoints helped settle a lot of little issues that could have easily become stumbling blocks, and the songs themselves ended up benefitting from them. SICK OF IT ALL and Tue Madsen have maintained a long-lasting relationship based on understanding, friendship, and most importantly, good results—three factors any band would be very happy with.”
As for SICK OF IT ALL’s next steps, the picture is clear. Majidi and team are looking for a warm reception to Wake the Sleeping Dragon! and more rounds of tours around the globe. The sleeping dragon is awakening! And SICK OF IT ALL want you to join the rebellion!
Lilith Czar arrives with the force of an otherworldly thunder, arising in visceral rebirth from an untimely grave of surrender and sacrifice. Her voice is the sound of supernatural determination, summoned with a confessional vulnerability and unapologetic authenticity. The girl who was Juliet Simms – her dreams discouraged and dismissed, her identity confined and controlled – is no more. In her place stands Lilith Czar, a new vessel forged in unbridled willpower and unashamed desire.
Her motivation is simple: if it’s truly “a man’s world”? She wants to be King.
Created from Filth and Dust, the debut album from Lilith Czar, is an evocative invitation into her bold new world. It’s aggressive music with warm accessibility; huge hooks with driving hard rock—the new larger-than-life icon channels the fierce combativeness of Fiona Apple and Stevie Nicks’ seductive witchery. Lilith Czar arms herself with sonic power, theatricality, and confidence. It’s a sound where the pulse of Nine Inch Nails, Halestorm’s songcraft, and the libertine spirit of David Bowie converge, all in service of a ritualistic ache for a more just and equitable world.
Lilith Czar is more than music. Her songs – like “King,” “Bad Love,” and “100 Little Deaths” – are anthems. She sounds both larger than life and hauntingly intimate, baring all in the ballad “Diamonds to Dust” or unleashing hell with the banshee wail of “Feed My Chaos.” As much as Lilith Czar’s music is perfectly suited for modern rock radio, it’s simultaneously timeless. Thanks in no small part to Czar’s rich voice, Created from Filth and Dust wouldn’t sound out of place in any significant rock era.
“I know who I am now, completely,” the singer declares. “I’ve found my purpose, creating art to inspire others to stand up for what they believe, to fight for their dreams, and to never give up.”
She summarizes the Lilith Czar origin story like this: “When you find yourself beaten down by the world, in those times you can either let it destroy you or let it create you.”
Created from filth and dust, destined to be King… Lilith Czar.
“Death is the one thing everyone’s super afraid of, but it’s the only thing we are promised. I’m choosing to celebrate it instead of being sad,” POORSTACY explains. For the South Florida native, the last few years have been some of his hardest, but they also have given him purpose and conviction like never before.
With his upcoming album Party At The Cemetery, the rock artist pays his respects to his friends who passed away. Self-admittedly, he’s lost really “all [his] original friends,” in one tragedy or another, and the music reflects that. Forged in equal parts pain, apathy and celebration, POORSTACY tells a nuanced story of life and loss with a level of understanding that can only come from someone who has seen it all.
For Stacy, born Carlito Milfort Jr., making a rock album like Party At The Cemetery is not a trend, designed for clout. In fact, he “doesn’t give a fuck” about that kind of thing at all. This is the music that soundtracked his life. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida, Stacy fell in love with music by hanging out in the crowds of local shows. “I’ve been going to shows since I was 12 or 13. Slam punk, metalcore, death metal. Lots of satanic shit. I also went to a lot of raves where there was a ton of drum and bass growing up too,” he says.
Though the rock and electronic music that he gravitated towards as a kid once seemed like two very different scenes, they both thrived on a true DIY sensibility which Stacy loved. By his late teens, he began releasing his own songs to SoundCloud, in hopes that he could capture that same DIY spirit native to South Florida. Part of the early wave of emo-rap talents on the platform, Stacy penned underground hits like “make up” which gained millions of streams and ushered the subgenre into the mainstream consciousness.
His influence on the streaming platform led him to a deal with Elliot Grainge’s 10K Projects where he began releasing songs with labelmates like producer Nick Mira of Internet Money and iann dior and other talents like Travis Barker and Whethan. With his acclaimed crossover project The Breakfast Club and single “Choose Life” (a nod to the film Trainspotting), Stacy showed his penchant for storytelling and allusion, something which he cements as one of his artistic signatures on Party At The Cemetery.
Even his name is an homage to one of his favorites (skateboarder Stacy Peralta) who inspired POORSTACY with his craftsmanship and his ability to play the long game. “Stacy Peralta himself was not shown a lot of attention at the start, but he ended up being one of the biggest legends in skateboarding in the end. I always loved the idea of that, of doing your own thing and having it pay off.” Just like Peralta, POORSTACY isn’t making music for short term accolades and fame, he’s doing this for the art and legacy of it.
With this boundless interest in pop culture and art, POORSTACY’s first fully fledged rock record Party At The Cemetery is an eclectic collage of the stories, films, friends, and subgenres that have captured his attention and inspired him throughout his life. “I want to incorporate it all into my art. I love ballet. I love Stanley Kubrick. I love Tim Burton. I love Victorian architecture. There’s so much I draw on,” he says.
What’s next for Stacy? Directing, screenwriting, and maybe even a little modeling. “I’m interested in writing films right now, and I’m directing my own music videos for the new album,” he says. For Stacy, Party At The Cemetery is a moment to stop and pay respect to his life so far and to edify it through art, but he assures that he has a lot of plans for the future. “There’s a lot more coming,” he promises.
As pre-teens growing up in small-town Saint Joseph, Mo., brothers Dee, Isaiah and Solomon Radke enrolled in rock ‘n’ roll high school as their ticket out of Nowheresville. The brothers played their first show opening for Fishbone in 2011 and haven’t looked back since. In 2013, the Cat & Mouse and Devil Fruit EPs took Radkey from sweaty backroom punk gigs to storming the UK’s Download Festival and Riotfest in the U.S. They continue to tour nationally and internationally supporting bands such as Jack White, Rise Against, The Damned, WIZO, Descendents, Local H, and recently joined Foo Fighters on their 26th Anniversary Tour.
Radkey enlisted Arctic Monkeys producer/mixer, Ross Orton, to produce their debut record, Delicious Rock Noise. The result was an across-the-board detonation of several shades of rock, punk, and wild abandon – and riffs, riffs, riffs.
Radkey partnered with MasterCard in January 2018 for the #StartSomethingPriceless campaign featuring SZA. The campaign included a docuseries that premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show while commercials aired during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards televised broadcast.
2019 brought the release of No Strange Cats, produced with Bill Stevenson (Descendents) at The Blasting Room where Radkey’s sound continued to expand and mature, reflected in the sleek guitar and growing bass.
The 2020 self-release of Radkey’s third album, GREEN ROOM on Little Man Records has been described as “A rock album for the 21st Century” (Atwood Magazine) made up of thick, slick rock and roll sounds built on power chords and hypnotic vocal melodies. It’s a testament to the future of music, and Radkey is primed for rock and roll glory.
“This was the hardest record we’ve ever made, on every level,” says Nathan Hunt, referring to Shaman’s Harvest’s seventh LP.
The storyline seems obvious: The Missouri hard-rockers assembled this project during a global pandemic that debilitated the entire music industry. “Hard” has kinda been universal lately. But the road to Rebelator was even rockier than the band expected: natural disasters, logistical nightmares, an extreme case of collective writer’s block. “We struggled the whole way,” Hunt adds with a gruff baritone chuckle. “It was an interesting process for sure.”
Every creative step seemed to be hampered by an outside distraction—or even act of God.
“A tornado ripped through our town, 2 miles from our studio, leveling everything in its path” recalls guitarist Josh Hamler. “Luckily, no one was killed. Everything can be rebuilt, but we completely lost our creative vibe following the tragic event”.
“There was so much stop and go,” adds Hunt. “There was a flood. We’d have something scheduled, so we’d focus and be locked down for like a month at a time. Then somebody would have to go home, and it would be three weeks later before we’d start up again.”
“Or we’d run out of money,” Hamler adds with a laugh. “It was like Murphy’s law at one point—like, Jesus, what else is going to go wrong in the making of this record?”
Luckily, they had time on their side. After a couple grueling years of touring behind their last album, 2017’s Red Hands Black Deeds—a stretch that included numerous major rock festivals and runs opening for Nickelback and Seether—Shaman’s Harvest were creatively and personally drained. “You try writing on the road, maybe go to the back of the bus and come up with an idea,” Hunt says. “But it’s hard to be inspired when you’re tired. We were like, ‘Let’s just take the time off we need to make the record.’ We didn’t want to half-ass it.”
So founding members Hunt and Hamler, along with guitarist Derrick Shipp and drummer Adam Zemanek—hit the reset button hard, clearing out six months for demo construction at their Jefferson City rehearsal space. This meticulousness marked a distinct change from their usual methodology—instead of slapping together outlines before entering the studio, they treated their first takes with a new level of sensitivity, fleshing out the pieces until they knew them intimately.
“We usually have a really rough idea going into the studio—maybe it’s a verse, maybe it’s a thought,” Hunt says. “But we just write it on the fly and try to catch the magic. This time we wanted to approach it with some intention. We saw the demos all the way though, and that took a good, long pieces of time.”
The process was fairly haphazard at first, as the band tried to regain their footing. With everyone on-hand (the non-Missouri residents were staying in the space itself), they’d all wake up and try to churn up ideas—though it was slow going for a bit. “We’d just sit there and noodle until the spark [was lit],” the frontman admits. “The first songs—some of them made the record, and some of them didn’t. Some of the stuff wasn’t up to par. We were sending stuff back and forth to the label, like, ‘What do you think of this?’ Just going from tour mode to creative mode, I had quite the block. I know everybody was like, ‘I don’t have anything.’ Then it just erupted.”
An early breakthrough was “Wishing Well,” a signature rocker that pairs a detuned metal chug with a twangy, soaring chorus and subtle yet eyebrow-raising flourishes like fingerpicked acoustic guitar and experimental vocal effects. The ideas just kept flowing from there, with the band encouraged by producer Kile Odell, who joined them for a month to offer his feedback.
Shaman’s Harvest were working with any musical seeds they could plant—like Hamler’s droning guitar on “Bird Dog,” which sprouted into a desert wasteland atmosphere of mouth harp, group percussion and deep, growling vocals. Hunt calls the final result a “weird mixture of things,” blending its dust-blown textures with bits of Metallica and Queens of the Stone Age—the perfect backdrop for his almost post-apocalyptic lyrics.
“It’s definitely a cinematic thing—if nothing else, it’s a color or just one little scene in my head,” he says. “In my head, I was envisioning a lot of these small towns, like a railroad town or a farm town where people don’t want to farm anymore. And it just goes to shit, and then you have the opioids come in and everyone becomes a zombie.”
When they arrived at lead single “Voices,” a graceful balance of light and shade, the band instantly knew they’d written one of their best—a feeling cemented by their mutual celebration. “Once we had it all laid out and had a rough demo,” says Hamler, “we listened back to the first time, and we all looked at each other and busted out laughing, like, ‘Fuck yeah!'”
“It’s one of those things that wrote itself,” adds Hunt. “It needed an anthemic hum-along vibe. Everybody saw that song, which is pretty rare.”
Though they ultimately found their momentum, some of the darkness from this era wound up informing their lyrics—though often indirectly. Breakup song “Flatline” documents an unspecified doomed relationship that, Hunt says, “just keeps on corroding” past its natural shelf life. “Wishing Well,” the “epic of the record,” zeroes in on the “predatory” and manipulative nature of some men. The band’s own creative challenges even added to the overcast themes—”Just the frustrations of trying to make a record,” Hunt notes with a laugh, “when the universe did not want you to make a record.”
Shaman’s Harvest persevered, of course, and wound up with their richest, most well-rounded album to date—a natural progression from Red Hands Black Deeds, 2014’s Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns and 2009’s Shine, which featured the breakout single “Dragonfly.”
In keeping with the spirit of those last three albums, the band aimed to, in Hunt’s words, “de-genre-fy” their music—aiming beyond the rote contemporary rock-metal formula to add sublet arrangement quirks.
The loose yet professional atmosphere in St. Louis’ Sawhorse Studios, where they hunkered down for a month with house engineer Jason McEntyre, helped them in that quest for experimentation.
“We were able to stretch our legs a little bit,” says Hunt. “That’s kind of a dying thing: people renting out whole studios, because it’s expensive as fuck. The piano was [featured on an] Ike and Tina Turner record, and we were able to pick up on the vibes from that. Jason knew all the tricks of that room to experiment, Like using the talkback mic on the drums or using old tape machines.”
A good example of their trial and error is “Lilith,” a sonic jigsaw puzzle that pairs an Allman Brothers-style slide guitar with a distorted, drop-tuning riff and a tender piano outro.
“That song in particular has a Southern rock vibe in the slide, but there’s also an industrial electronic feel in the percussion,” Hunt says. “There’s the acoustic vibe at the end with the piano. There’s a lot of weird warbles going on. Especially in rock and roll, people seem to be afraid to add a fucking banjo or a mandolin under there. But when you think about the mix when it’s done, those are the things that pop out. I think it’s important that we de-genre-fy the rock culture and sound.”
“We don’t want to feel limited when we’re in the studio,” Hamler interjects. “We want to try things or take something that’s out of the ordinary and find a way to make it work.”
“Otherwise, how are you going to get anyone to pay attention these days?” Hunt adds. “Or even get yourself to pay attention? We’re all artists, and nothing destroys art like monotony.”
A Godfather figure is understood to be a purveyor of genre; a pioneer in a particu-lar realm of creation. Perhaps more importantly, and after over 3 decades molding the Hardcore realm, AGNOSTIC FRONT have protected and nurtured Hardcore mu-sic in such a way that it still exists healthily & in its proper form, today. As a band that has cultivated their reputation with honesty, and that prioritizes affirming their social messages to the world, GET LOUD! is well suited as the title for their 12th, full length studio album. Although the sociopolitical climate has transformed considerably since the release of the United Blood EP in 1983, the basic concepts of political corruption and social unrest have only been enhanced, and with them the fuel on AGNOSTIC FRONT’s fire. “We’ve always had a voice; had a lot to say. We’re always screaming for a change” says frontman Roger Miret. “Speak up, get loud, say what you have to say. Be the change you want to see in the world. You can’t change the whole thing, but you can make little differences that will matter, eventually.”
For such a memorable album, the reappearance of Cause For Alarm artist Sean Taggart was vital in order to deliver a piece of art that perfectly combined the old school with the current state of the world. Bringing the CFA characters back to life in a new age, the artwork will be familiar to AGNOSTIC FRONT fans the world over, but still maintains a modern freshness. When CFA was initially released in 1986 it was a distinguished and prosperous time for the world of Hardcore, and it is that time, and that vibe, that this album aspires to reassert.
GET LOUD! is compiled of 14 tracks that are nothing short of classic, home grown, NewYork Hardcore, but still includes some thrashy and punky variety. The title track carries a common message for the entire album. It’s a moody and riveting version of “speak up, aren’t you sick of the same day to day routine? It’s time to make that change and stop climbing up that same exact wall. That’s what GET LOUD! is all about.” says Miret. Songs like “ I Remember ” are important glimpses into the lives of the men of AGNOSTIC FRONT and thus tie in strongly with their recent release of Ian McFarland’s Documentary: THE GODFATHERS OF HARDCORE (2017). Although it was written after the release of the film, the track serves al-most as a theme song for the documentary in which Miret and founding guitarist Vinnie Stigma recall their pasts and their most groundbreaking records; even first meeting one another. Songs like “Conquer And Divide” speak to the current state of where we as humans are today. “It’s like all the government has ever wanted is to divide the people, and then come in and conquer. I see it happening today; so-cial media is a huge let down in that way. Now everyone has a voice, and I get it, but I can’t believe how quickly some people are willing to jump headfirst into something that doesn’t care about them” Miret explains. “Power of expression, power of the mind, freedom of speech, live free or die, stand up and resist, gotta fight to exist, break down the walls that divide.”
The raw and emotional journey of “THE GODFATHERS OF HARDCORE” can be credited as having some affect on the course of this record cycle. “It was nothing like I expected, it was mind blowing because it was SO US” Miret reflects. “It was pretty incredible to have that, for my family, the future of my family. Put some-thing out there digitally, and it’s out there forever. I’m really happy we never did anything like this, that this is it. It will hold through the tests of time. It’s not just a movie about punk, or hardcore, or metal, it’s about humanity and it’s awesome.”
An old school band in a new era can be an adjustment, but there’s something to be said for the technological advances that have enabled AGNOSTIC FRONT to write this new album, even with distances between the core members of the band. Ideas, lyrics, and riffs were tossed around amongst the guys in a digital universe, and once solid skeletons were formed, the final portion of the writing, the finess-ing, and the recording began in person. Produced by Miret himself, longtime friend Paul Miner of Buzz Bomb Studios then tracked, recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. GET LOUD! is now arranged, groomed, and ready to make its debut to fans the world over.
“Something real. I think that’s the secret to our longevity. People see us, and they see something that’s real and genuine, and they want to be a part of that. Who wants to be a part of something that’s fake? If you feel a connection to something and it feels real, you wanna know about it and be a part of it.”
Get ready for PLUSH! PLUSH is an all-female rock band with a mission to bring rock back to the forefront of the music industry. PLUSH is composed of four talented women, under 21, whose accomplishments and talent eclipse their age. This female rock force is fronted by singer, songwriter and guitarist Moriah Formica. Drummer Brooke Colucci, guitarist Bella Perron and bassist Ashley Suppa round out the lineup.
Moriah skyrocketed to national recognition when she auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice” at 16. She became one of the youngest competitors in the show’s history to turn all four judge’s chairs and the only NBC’s The Voice contestant to get all four chairs performing a rock-based song. Her performance of Heart’s “Crazy on You” garnered viral fame and lauded the 4’11” star as a “pint-sized powerhouse” by judge and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine. Miley Cyrus referred to her as a “Rock Goddess”.
Brooke Colucci, known by her moniker Rock Angel, has several viral videos of her own as well, generating over 14 million views.
Lead guitarist Bella Perron is a freshman at Berklee College of Music and a guitar virtuoso. Bella adds to the band’s ferocious melodies with amazing backing vocals and a no holds barred brand of uncompromising rock.
Bassist Ashley Suppa, hailed as the “female version of Cliff Burton”, adds an undeniable bass undertow that must be seen as well as heard to be believed.
PLUSH’s debut song and single “Hate” has generated a Billboard Top 40 Mainstream Rock hit, which has launched the band rapidly into the fans of the rock music world. Furthermore, their YouTube rendition of Alter Bridge’s “Isolation” exploded virally, generating much praise by fans and the actual band themselves. PLUSH is currently in the studio with Grammy nominated producer Johnny K to record their debut album for the label Pavement Entertainment.
The mission of PLUSH is to bring the heart of rock back to the mainstream with a new fresh spin on the sounds you already love. PLUSH hopes to inspire young women everywhere to follow their dreams, regardless of whatever challenges may lie in the way.
As 2019 came to a close, rock band Red Sun Rising announced an indefinite hiatus as its members pursued other opportunities.
Soon after, the world as we knew it sunk into the deep hole of the pandemic. The time in lockdown helped to fuel to the creative process for singer and songwriter Mike Protich, who was in search of a new creative release and to stretch his musical muscles.
He recruited two members from his former band — Patrick Gerasia on drums and David McGarry on guitar. The threesome began to work remotely during the initial lockdown and quarantine. They embarked on virtual sessions using home studio setups and collaborating with producer Albert DiFiore in Nashville Tennessee.
With roots in rock music, the three began to find fresh and invigorating ways to utilize their musicianship beyond the standard iteration of rock bands. They embraced experimentation by blending the familiar elements of rock music with a newfound appreciation for electronic and digital sounds. This process was elevated due to the fact that the members were unable to physically be in a room together to play.
Out of this process, The Violent was born.
It is truly a child of this chaotic pandemic — both sonically and lyrically.
If you’re not pissed off, then you’re not paying attention. Ded thrives on the aggressive spirit that is authentic to the heavy music genre. “There is an honesty and attitude about heavy music that I don’t feel as often anymore” says lead singer Joe Cotela – “and we want to bring that back”. Ded is loud and aggressive – but it serves as a positive outlet: the band produces an unapologetic sound that draws from the art of fantasy and expressive screams. Their debut album
“Mis-An-thrope” has made an impact across the Rock world.
Ded was born in the music scene of Phoenix, Arizona and has been together for almost 3 years. Band members Joe Cotela (Vocals), David Ludlow (Guitar), Kyle Koelsch (Bass), and Matt Reinhard (Drums) developed a friendship and ultimately a musical partnership that mixes horror and dark imagery to develop a familiar, yet unique sound that sets them apart from other bands. Cotela says “With our music – we want to make the listener feel like how you feel after you’ve watched a really good horror movie – on edge, jittery… And very much alive”. They incorporate these volatile elements into their lyrics – with the hopes that it will breathe new life into the hard-core genre. Imagine an inspired take on outward thinking that transcends screaming, and low tuned riffs. Their sound is meant to “be in your face and tell it like it is”, while paying homage to Korn and Pantera, who served as early inspirations. Ded are also influenced by more recent bands like Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon. This is modern hard rock & alternative metal that goes beyond anger – including themes like existentialism and ego in everyday life. The lyrics are timely and resonate with an audience navigating the chaotic world we live in.
The band’s work ethic, drive, and dedication led them to record an EP that quickly made the rounds of the music industry, and started a buzz that opened doors. Using that as a springboard, the band hit the road and toured with Beartooth, Asking Alexandria, Atreyu, Every Time I Die, Upon a Burning Body, The Acacia Strain, John 5, Powerman 5000, and Insane Clown Posse among others.
Their touring helped grow awareness in the business and brought them to the attention of producer John Feldmann
(Disturbed, Blink-182, Beartooth). Their collaboration with Feldmann culminated in the band signing with Jordan Schur @ Suretone Records – who discovered and grew the careers of platinum rock acts Staind and Limp Bizkit, among others. Suretone released their first song and video for “FMFY” in December 2016.
2017 was very busy year for Ded – they played all Major Rock U.S. festivals, played more than 150 live shows and toured 25 + dates with KORN and Stone Sour. Both of their 1st two singles “Anti-Everything” and “Remember The Enemy” reached the Top 20 on the Active Rock Radio charts. “Anti-Everything” was #8 on SiriusXM Octane’s Top 10 for 2017 and they named the band “Artist Discovery of the Year”. They won the Kilpop/Rock Radio Award for Metal Debut of the Year”. “Anti-Everything” & “Remember The Enemy” were featured on high profile curated Hard Rock & Metal playlists at all major streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Youtube, and Google Play Music. The video for “Anti-Everything” has more than 1.4 million views on Youtube. The band is repped by CAA for booking.
Their 3rd single “Hate Me” recently peaked at #28 on the Active Rock Radio charts and has been featured on key playlists including Spotify’s “Rock Hard”, Apple Music’s “Breaking Hard Rock”, Amazon Music’s “Fresh Rock” and “Introducing Rock”, Pandora “New Rock”, Youtube and Google Play Music’s “Hard Rock Hotlist”.
Stick To Your Guns
Against The Current
The moment you find your voice, you step into yourself and actualize your potential. At this point, expectations no longer matter, fear disappears, and everything changes.
Against The Current not only embrace their voice, but project it louder than ever in 2020. After hundreds of millions of streams, major collaborations with the likes of Riot Games, and countless packed shows, the trio—Chrissy Costanza [vocals], Dan Gow [guitar], and Will Ferri [drums]—lift themselves up to this moment with new single “That Won’t Save Us.” Powered by a hard-hitting guitar riff, hyper-confident vocals, and an entrancing bridge, the track swings like a wrecking ball between fits of fierce vulnerability and frenetic vitality.
Diamante knows what it means to truly shine. With iridescent sapphire hair, a show-stopping voice, runway-ready fashion swagger, and an empowering message, the Boston-raised and Los Angeles-based Mexican-Italian-American siren brings a new (and blue) fire to rock and alternative music.
Diamante spent her teenage years cutting her teeth at local gigs on the Sunset Strip to become the powerhouse performer she is today. A disciple of both P!nk and Guns N’ Roses who doesn’t fall into rockstar excess or even sport tattoos, she devoted every waking minute to honing a signature “hard rock sound with a modern alternative edge.”
After extensive touring with bands like Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and Shinedown… Diamante is in full force shining brighter than ever before. In 2019, Diamante teamed up as an independent artist with Howard Benson and Neil Sanderson to make her sophomore album, American Dream. Diamante capitalized on her newfound ultimate creative freedom and independence by being her own CEO throughout every facet of the album process. On working with Benson and Sanderson, Diamante praises that they were instrumental in “bringing my stories to life and pushing me to embrace my vulnerabilities”. American Dream shows exponential growth, proving now more than ever that Diamante’s fearlessness to bear her soul in her music is what truly sets her apart.
S8NT ELEKTRIC is a five-piece hard rock band, influenced by all types of rock, alternative, and even disco. With a goal of innovating rock n’ roll for the 21st century, they have hard hitting players and unexpected twists and turns in their music. Releasing one single at a time, they are paving their own lane in this complicated musical landscape. The lineup includes Briana Carbajal on vocals, Niko Tsangaris on lead guitar, London Hudson on drums, Eric Matt on rhythm guitar, and Jack Kleinman on bass.
When you think about Alternative music Oxymorrons undoubtedly come to mind. The New York-based boundary-pushers have made a name for themselves in the spirit of change – building a movement from years of being told they were too rock for hip-hop, too hip-hop for rock. They boldly committed to creating music that defies arbitrary rules of classification, cementing the band as early pioneers of the modern genre-blending revolution.
Oxymorrons began as a collaboration between Kami (K.I.) and Demi (Deee), two Queens-bred brothers profoundly touched by the power of music at an early age. “From my dad playing Lionel Richie to Phil Collins, to our older brother playing Biggie to Metallica, I was definitely an MTV baby,” recalls K.I. “I would watch videos from acts like Soundgarden and Nirvana and pretend to be a rock star, even breaking my bed a few times, lol.”
Meanwhile, their neighborhood was always full of hip hop stars like Onyx, Lost Boyz, AZ, 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj, and seeing their successes let K.I. and Deee know what was possible. Still for the two brothers it was always about finding a way to think outside the box as an artist and carving their own path. “It was acts like NERD, Jay-Z, The Diplomats, Kanye West, Outcast, Jamiroquai, Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi that really influenced us the most,” says Deee. “They inspired us to be ourselves.”
The lineup expanded with the addition of drummer extraordinaire Matty Mayz who seemingly fell from the sky into their laps at just the right time. “Matty was an intern at a management company we used to work with early on and he overheard how our drummer at the time had just flaked on an upcoming gig,” recalls K.I. “He immediately told us he could play and so we gave him 8 songs to learn in just 2 days. He crushed it and has been with us ever since.”
Guitarist Jafé Paulino was a well known musician/vocalist from the underground NYC music scene who made a name for himself playing with a wide variety of local Brooklyn- based acts. So when a mutual friend showed Deee a video of Jafé doing his thing, he was extremely impressed. “We met up for coffee and quickly realized there was a lot of synergy in what we all were doing and stood for,” says Deee. Jafé immediately became an intricate part of the band and the lineup was finally set.
Oxymorrons are no stranger to the big stage. They have toured and shared the stage with the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Fever 333, Fishbone, Gym Class Heroes, OutKast, Envy
On the Coast, Foxy Shazam, Waka Flocka, Rihanna and more. They have also graced
the stage at notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Afro Punk, Firefly, SummerFest and Funkfest to name a few. Their high energy performance and versatile sound makes for a potent combination that never disappoints.
Yet it’s not just the live show where Oxymorrons have left their mark. They have received co-signs from Billboard, Kerrang!, The Fader, Alternative Press, Complex,
Hypebeast, Ebro of Beats 1 Radio, Daniel Carter BBC1 Radio and many
more. Their larger than life songs have been used in ads for ABC’s ‘The Mayor’ and Converse, and featured on ESPN’s First Take. They have also found synergy in brand partnerships with Dr Martens, HUF, Microsoft, Taco Bell, Hot Topic and beyond.
As the newest addition to Jason Aalon Butler’s (Fever 333) Artist Collective ‘333 Wreckords Crew’, Oxymorrons have expanded their sound with their first release “Justice”, putting forth a powerful message during these tumultuous times. “We have a lot to say with ‘Justice’, and it’s more than just the lyrical content, it’s about the actions behind it,” explains Matty. Jafé adds, “We have chosen to designate all profits from this song to grassroots organizations that are fighting for social justice with their boots on the ground. It aligns us with the movement of time, regardless of the times.” Never shying away from using their voices for social change, they have also used their platform to give back to causes they support including Jed Foundation and Hip-Hop Hacks.
Although 2020 was the year of the pandemic, it was still a very productive year for Oxymorrons as they solidified their base, finished a new album and are in prime position to bring the noise in 2021. Be on the lookout for their next single “Green Vision” to drop
at the top of the year….you have been warned.
“Afterlife” is a four piece rock + metal band from West Palm Beach, Florida.
Formed in late 2017 “Afterlife” have had their foot on the neck of the rock + metal scene with their captivating live show, honest and relatable song writing and unmatched fan engagement!
“Afterlife” are poised to leave their mark on the rock + metal scene.
The Word Alive
With the arrival of his breakthrough single “Bleach (On The Rocks),” Nashville-based singer/songwriter John Harvie staked his claim as one of the most thrillingly original new artists in the alt-rock world. Three blistering minutes of pop-punk mayhem, the massively streamed track reveals the bold collision of elements within his songwriting: ultravivid storytelling, a rare balance of raw sincerity and outrageous humor, and a gift for crafting addictively catchy melodies. But while the song almost instantly led to meteoric success—including Harvie’s recent signing to 300 Entertainment/ FRKST Records, an imprint founded by Johnny Stevens of Highly Suspect—“Bleach (On The Rocks)” marked a major leap of faith for the 22-year-old musician.
“A little while before ‘Bleach’ came out, I made the very scary decision to drop out of college and try to be an artist,” says Harvie. “For a long time I was writing all day, then working the night shift and picking up doubles at UPS to pay the bills and survive. During my fourth-ever co-writing session we came up with ‘Bleach,’ and it ended up changing everything for me.”
With his debut album told ya due out this year, Harvie instills all his music with both visceral emotion and bombastic spirit. The son of a pastor, he spent his early childhood in Philadelphia and started writing and self-recording songs in his bedroom at the age of ten, tapping into formative inspirations like Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, and Muse. Having moved to Kentucky at age 13, he later headed to Middle Tennessee State University to study music business but soon felt compelled to focus on his own music full-time. Not long after he’d left school, a spontaneously posted cover of Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” went viral on TikTok—a turn of events that quickly found him traveling to Nashville on co-write with industry heavyweights. Within several months he’d released “Bleach (On The Rocks),” a tale of a toxic encounter at a bar, fueled by snarling guitar riffs and Harvie’s brutally clever lyrics (from the first verse: “I’ll take the salt from my wounds, put it on the rim”). Despite zero promotion on his part, the song gained serious traction and caught the attention of artists like lil aaron, who created his own remix just a week after the original version premiered.
Mainly produced by Andrew Gomez, told ya sustains the frenetic energy of “Bleach (On The Rocks)” while further showcasing Harvie’s emotional depth and intense self-awareness. To that end, the album explores such issues as self-doubt and depression and relationship struggles, endlessly matching his uncompromising honesty with a refreshing lack of self-seriousness. On “My Name (In Your Mouth),” Harvie shares a shout-along-ready track that brilliantly embraces any potential haters, building a breakneck momentum with its furious bassline and explosive guitar work. “I’ve always believed that if people are talking about you—whether it’s good or bad—it means you must be doing something right,” he says. Meanwhile, “Beauty in the Bad Things” opens on a stark arrangement of acoustic guitar and soul-baring vocals, ultimately bursting into an arena-sized rock anthem. “I was feeling really burnt out and overwhelmed at the time, to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed for days,” Harvie says of the song’s origins. “I went into a session and my co-writers let me be super-vulnerable, which was so therapeutic for me. I wrote this song in hopes that people could relate to that feeling of knowing that even when you’re really down, there’s always beauty in the bad things, and eventually it’ll be okay.”
Now gearing up for a series of solo shows and festival dates, Harvie thrives on the incredibly deep connection he’s forged with his audience. “Watching my dad preach in front of people every week as a kid gave me a lot of insight on how to interact with a crowd, and I’ve always loved that feeling of the energy coming back from them when I’m onstage,” he says. “At the same time it’s really important to me to make the whole experience as inviting as possible: when you go to a show, it’s easy to feel self-conscious, or worry that other people are going to think you’re a weirdo for going nuts. I want to take all that away and tell everyone, ‘This is your time to forget about everything else that’s going on in your life, and just have a good time’—which is something I’m learning too. I want to be completely present so everyone else can be present too, and we can all get crazy together.”
When it comes to pivotal life moments, having the mighty Nick Cave snatch a balloon out of your hands when you’re seven years old before smirkingly stomping on it is going to make you do one of two things. 1) Run off crying and forever commit to a quiet life or 2) Decide to be just like the big tall man who gets a kick out of scaring little kids. When it happened to Lia Metcalfe, she wisely decided to do the latter.
Still only 20 years old, the Mysterines’ imposing frontwoman melds together more than her lifetime’s worth of experiences with the kind of deep, impassioned vocal you won’t forget in a hurry. In her songs and stagecraft you’ll see and hear everything from PJ Harvey’s raw and ragged stomp to the crazed carnival energy of Tom Waits and eviscerating poetics of Patti Smith. The first great British rock band of the post-pandemic era, the Mysterines let us in on Lia’s unfiltered look at life, the universe and everything, complete with serious riffs and an unflinching honesty.
Though currently based in Manchester, Lia was raised in Liverpool, born to parents only just out of their teens who raised her on the road and in and out of festival VIP areas – hence that unforgettable run-in with Nick Cave. Both were – and still are – music obsessives, bringing her up to the sounds of Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, Motown classics and Bob Dylan, who remains her songwriting icon.
Lia never remembers not singing. “I didn’t really know any different,” she explains. “Growing up around someone who was always making music and always writing, it just seemed like the natural thing.” Since the start her voice was a cut above, a bassy, deep thing even when she was just a kid. But what really hooked her into making music was lyrics. “I still don’t really see myself as a singer,” she explains. “First and foremost I’m a writer, that’s my main passion.” By her early teens she was already gigging locally. At 16 she decided to throw herself fully into music. “I went to college for a month, but I got kicked out for smoking in the non-smoking area,” she shrugs. A couple of months later she was off on tour anyway with her band the Mysterines. “I never wanted to be solo,” she says. “I knew my songs weren’t gonna be acoustic, they needed to have a big and full sound behind them.” The idea of a band also fitted into a classic set-up that Lia loved. “I wanted to have a gang-like atmosphere,” she says. “I thought it was cool when Blondie and the Pretenders did that – having a woman in charge.”
The rest of the Mysterines naturally coalesced around Lia. George the bass player she met when she was 14, standing outside a branch of Home Bargains. “I thought he looked like a bass player, and he was. So he’s been with me ever since,” she explains. Lead guitarist Callum and drummer Paul she met a few years later at a Psychedelic Porn Crumpets gig in Liverpool. She’d forgotten her ID and the bar refused to serve her, despite the fact that she’d just turned 18. Callum helped her out by offering Lia a warm can of beer from out of his backpack. The rest, of course, is history.
Spending lockdown covering everything from the Waterboys to Radiohead on social media for the Mysterines’ growing fanbase, Lia showed off not just her own incredible vocal range, but also her wildly varied influences, which run the gamut from Captain Beefheart and Dua Lipa to Smokey Robinson and director Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s the darker side of things though which has always fascinated her. Her nan was the first person to give her a Tom Waits record, sensing that the young Lia would find a kindred spirit in his particular form of sonic voodoo. It almost worked. “I put it on and it scared me to death,” she laughs. “Then I tried again a few years later, and heard ‘Clap Hands’ and fell in love with it. He’s definitely had an impact on the way I execute certain things.” That moody bleakness is deep in the bones of all the writers Lia loves, from Captain Beefheart to beat poet Allen Ginsberg. “I like controversial, almost explicit stuff. People who are always trying to push boundaries and themselves,” she states. “I’m still trying to find the balance, but it’s fun to explore what I can say, stuff that’ll make people think ‘that’s hilarious but also really scary.’”
The Mysterines debut ‘Reeling’ – set for release in early 2022 – was made under the watchful eye of acclaimed producer Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, The Big Moon, PJ Harvey). Going back and forth from her west London studio, Assault and Battery, over three weeks in between lockdowns, it was recorded live to capture the intensity of the songs. “It’s a pretty ambiguous title for most people, but for me ‘Reeling’ sums up every emotion of the album in just one word,” says Lia. It also reflects the emotionally draining process of making a 13 track record, Lia’s biggest challenge to date. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she explains. “But Catherine was fucking great. She turned into one of my best friends and really just believed in me and what I wanted to execute. She was super calm throughout the whole thing. Well, until you piss her off…”
When it comes to lyrics, Lia calls her style of writing “creative divination”. She explains that her meticulously crafted songs are “either predicting something that’s going to happen or about something that already has, but in the way that Tarantino reinvents history in his own films, I’m reinventing what I would have wanted to happen.” Written just two weeks before they went into the studio, the album’s ferocious first single, ‘In My Head’ is a perfect example. “Superficially it’s a love song but really it’s a reflection of me looking at myself like Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche’ – you think he’s talking about someone who he was with and fell out of love with, but really it’s about himself.”
Grief, self-destruction and heartache run heavy through the record, but all are brought together by the blackest of humour. The dirty desert blues of ‘Life’s A Bitch’ was actually meant to be the first single, “but it turns out I say ‘bitch’ too much on it,” chuckles Lia. Other tracks run the gamut from the grunged-up country of ‘Old Friends, Die Hard’ to the giddy, free-falling ‘On The Run’, Lia’s unique take on the tale of the teenage runaways in Terrence Mallick’s iconic Badlands. Then there’s the creepy, cultish ‘Under Your Skin’, which is The Doors by way of The Manson Family and the Stooges-esque ‘The Bad Thing’, of which Lia says: “It’s the most fun to play, and the words I find really funny as well – I’m digging someone up from the grave that I used to love.”
Somewhat prophetically, Lia has already had a Number 1 album of sorts. When supporting Miles Kane in Brighton, his mate Paul Weller came down to a show. Lia and Paul bonded over the fact he had a daughter called Lia and after fish and chips on the front, he invited The Mysterines to his studio to write. Over lockdown he WhatsApped her and asked for some lyrics. The track, ‘True’, features on ‘Fat Pop’, Weller’s sixth chart-topping album. “I can’t really say it’s my Number 1 album,” offers Lia. “I’ve only got one tune on it, it’s definitely not down to me.” If you ask us, it’s more than a good start.
AEIR Is an Alternative Rock band from Columbus, Ohio, formed from band members of The Turbos, Coya Hill and Personal Public. With the world facing uncertainty regarding the global outbreak, the newly formed group did not sit idly by, but instead got straight to work. During the major lock-downs across the world, the band wrote 40+ songs. They narrowed it down to 8 of their favorites for an upcoming release in the Spring of 2022. The album delivers songs of angst, awareness and feelings of despair, along with rhythmic and melodic intent, notable hooks and powerful vocals. When speaking about the bands newest single release, Lucas Esterline, the bands vocalist states, “We wrote ’Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em’ during the midst of the pandemic. The song is a take on the smoking guns of American politics, big pharma, the oil industries and big corporations, as well as the collective feeling of defeat experienced by a majority of Americans at the time.” Their new single ”Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” was tracked and mixed by Jakob Mooney and mastered by Mazen Murrat at Katara Studios.
Bad Omens slither through boundaries, only to ultimately choke convention in the process. The quartet—Noah Sebastian [vocals], Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson [guitar], Nick Ruffilo [bass], and Nick Folio [drums]—materialize with ghostly atmospherics, striking hooks, and the tingles of sensual high-register harmonies uplifted by cinematic production. Racking up over 250M worldwide streams to-date and earning acclaim, the band present an uncompromising and undeniable vision on their third full-length album, THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND [Sumerian Records].
“Making the record changed us as songwriters and musicians. In many ways I feel like it set me free as an artist because every decision made in the writing process was for myself, with no fear for anyone else’s expectations of what our third album should sound like. Be it our fans or our record label.”
They’ve always wielded this level of magic though…
The group’s 2016 self-titled debut, Bad Omens, yielded fan favorites such as “Glass Houses” and “The Worst In Me,” which eclipsed 20.4 million Spotify streams. On its heels, 2019’s Finding God Before God Finds Me spawned “Dethrone” [9.5 million Spotify streams] and “Careful What You Wish For” [8.8 million Spotify streams]. Along the way, they toured with numerous marquee acts and received tastemaker praise.
After their first headline tour was cancelled mid-way at the top of the Global Pandemic, the band found themselves at home in Los Angeles with plenty of time. Where they absorbed and imparted a different palette of unexpected inspirations. Channeling what the frontman describes at times as a “cursive sound,” they embraced a newfound confidence and boundlessly loose creativity. Anything went in the studio, and all “rules” were broken. Noah and Jolly wrote, produced, and engineered the music themselves while GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer and songwriter Zakk Cervini [Halsey, Grimes, Poppy, blink-182] lent his talents with the mix and master. Challenging himself, Noah decided to “make a track sampling items around the house, none of which were musical instruments.”
This ultimately became the framework for the first single “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND.” Claps puncture the icy soundscape as his voice stretches from a breathy moan into an evocative and entrancing hook, breaking from a whisper into the seductive chant, “It wasn’t hard to realize. Love’s the death of peace of mind.” It culminates on a climactic scream uplifted by a distorted crunch.
“The whole record really details the loss of peace of mind,” he explains. “The lyrics in the title track are a little more specific in terms of the conflict at the heart of something more intimate and personal.”
Then, there’s “TAKE ME FIRST.” The vocals swirl around a syncopated riff before bleeding into a skyscraping refrain.
“It was written in the moment about another personal experience,” he goes on. “As I zoomed out, I actually felt like at times I was talking about the band and not just this one experience. Now in several ways, to me it’s about what we face and go through as a band right now.”
Elsewhere, his feral delivery tears through a guttural groove on “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE,” while emotionally charged vocals coast above a string-laden hum on “JUST PRETEND” before a rush of distortion on the hook.
“There are a lot of scenes and elements addressed in the lyrics about social media and the disconnect,” he goes on. “Every song traces back to not being able to have peace of mind because of something, whether it’s your guilt, regret, indifference with things you can’t change, or because you’re struggling to pay your bills. There are so many messages represented across the record, but it all falls back to how I wish I could feel at ease.”
By speaking it aloud, Bad Omens offer a level of comfort and empathy, with a sinister shroud. At the same time, they also give rock music a sexy new shape on THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND.
“Sonically, we want to do something you can’t arrive late or early too,” he leaves off. “You can’t cheat your way to the final act. You have to get on the ride and process it until the end. The songs are meant to be heard from start to finish. We want you to take the whole trip with us.”
Riff-monsters Crobot conjures up the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that has grooves so powerful they throw you around the room and hooks high enough to shake the heavens. They take the sweet-sounding nectar of the gods and pour it down your throat until you’re wailing along like a banshee.
With tens of millions of streams, countless shows and acclaim from the likes of Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Kerrang, BBC Radio, SiriusXM Octane, Loudwire, Guitar World and more, Brandon Yeagley [vocals], Chris Bishop
[guitar], Tim Peugh [bass], and Dan Ryan [drums] realize their vision like never before on their fifth full-length, Feel This [Released June 3 via Mascot Records].
Feel This is the follow-up to 2019s Top 10 Heatseekers album Motherbrain – whose cumulative streams have surpassed 30 million. 20 million of which were for the goliath single “Low Life” – a US Top 10 at active rock radio on the Billboard Mainstream with a 29-week run.
“This is the record we’ve been wanting to do ever since we started,” exclaims Brandon. “We’ve always thought of ourselves as a live act,” he continues. “When Jay Ruston described his process of recording, we were beyond excited about getting in and getting our hands dirty. It involved performing live as a unit and finishing all instruments on a song before moving on to the next. We recorded 16 songs in 21 days, which is a feat in itself.”
Feel This is a tale of perseverance. “Through constant struggles, we learn more what it’s like to be human. Our shortcomings and strengths alike make us a unique species,” Brandon reflects. “Feel This very well may point to our biggest strength of all, our ability to feel emotion (for better or worse).”
Human nature is threaded throughout the album, from volatile relationships [“Dizzy”] to imperfections and learning from mistakes on “Holy Ghost.” Its warbling harmony wraps around the wah-drenched guitar straight out of Seattle; Brandon’s grunge-y wail rings out on the hook, “I am not the holy ghost. I won’t ever save your soul.” There’s “believing in something so much” on “Set You Free,” which spirals towards a seismic crescendo and emotionally charged guitar lead from Bishop.
Around the psyche-digging lyrics, they are never far away from thunderous rock ‘n’ roll. “Electrified” kickstarts the album as a rip-roaring livewire anthem. “It’s your classic rock ‘n’ roll tune about Frankenstein boots and being invincible!” Brandon says. There’s an epic anti-hero tale on “Without Wings,” and then there’s “Dance with the Dead.” Forgetting your troubles over an irresistible groove, the song struts with high-register harmonies and the infectious chant of “Let’s go dance with the dead. They know how to kill it!”
“Golden” is a soaring homage to a god-gone-too soon. “When it came to the lyrics, we collectively wanted it to be a tribute to Chris Cornell,” says Brandon. “We’re so influenced by everything he and Soundgarden have done. We ran with the song in honor of his legacy.”
They made waves with Legend of the Spaceborne Killer , Something Supernatural , and Welcome To Fat City . However, Motherbrain  represented a high watermark. They’ve crisscrossed the US and the world in road-warrior style, playing with the likes of Anthrax, Black Label Society, Chevelle, Clutch, Volbeat and more. They’ve lit up festival bills and the annual Shiprocked! Cruise. “We tour the pockets off of our pants and sleep in our van for half of the year. To some, that may seem like misery, but to us – it’s Heaven baby!” the frontman says. Something they highlight on the new song, “Livin’ on the Streets”.
2019 ended with a US tour supporting Steel Panther, and then Covid19 punched the world in the face. As the Global Pandemic descended upon us, Chris and Dan hunkered down in Austin to jam and cut demos, sending ideas to Brandon back in Pennsylvania. 2021 saw the boys enter Orb Studios in Austin with producer Ruston [Stone Sour, Anthrax, Steel Panther]. Since the world has begun to open up, the band have not stood still. Rat Child EP was released last summer and featured a mighty cast of Frank Bello [Anthrax], Howard Jones [Light The Torch/ex-Killswitch Engage] and Stix Zadinia [Steel Panther]. They’ve also headed out on headline tours, played ass-kicking performances at festivals such as Rocklahoma, Aftershock, the Jericho Cruise and supported Halestorm.
You’ll feel rock ‘n’ roll comes to life in Crobot’s hands. “We never want to make the same album twice,” Brandon leaves off. “There is something for every Crobot fan out there as well as newcomers. At the same time, we’re having fun. We want to be taken seriously, but not too seriously—because this is monkey hour after all.” “That’s the fucking line right there,” agrees Bishop. “We want you to walk away smiling. If I can make you smile, I’ve done my job.”
Formed in late 2012 by vocalist Matt James and drummer Nathan Gillis in the small East Texas town of Palestine, Blacktop Mojo’s fiery blend of sludgy grooves, classic rock guitar riffs, and southern metal shredding falls somewhere between Soundgarden and Lynyrd Skynyrd to form a sound deemed by some as “Texas Grunge”. The music draws on a multitude of genres and styles to form a hodgepodge of dirty, heavy rock and roll mixed with sensual and at times even, carnal blues.
After their debut album “I Am” in 2014, The band spent a few years cutting their teeth in dive bars, dancehalls, and honky tonks around Texas. In 2017, during the recording of their sophomore record “Burn The Ships” the guys quit their day jobs, moving into a small house together in Palestine. The house created an unbreakable fellowship between the band and a culture of constant creativity.
Released via their label Cuhmon Records, “Burn The ships” yielded two top 40 singles on the Mainstream Active Rock charts including “Where The Wind Blows” (#27) and a cover of the Aerosmith classic, “Dream On” (#31). After the album cycle and touring for “Burn The Ships” concluded, the guys returned home in 2018, where they locked themselves in the band house for six months to write their third record, “Under The Sun”. The record yielded them another top 40 single in “Can’t Sleep” (#27) and the band continued touring in the US through the beginning of 2020.
Locked down with the rest of the world and unable to continue touring, the guys began work on their fourth, self-titled album, which is slated to be released in Summer of 2021.
Forged in a furnace of experience, experimentation and existential crisis, Moodring is an entity orbiting a lone, core ambition: to create music with no ceiling.
“I grew up on the alternative bands of the 1990s,” says frontman Hunter Young; “No matter what new interests might come and go, I am forever drawn back to the classic albums of that era; they feel larger than life, not bound to a fad or trend – timeless. That’s what we aspire to with our band, to create songs that can transcend any scene.”
Between them, the members of Moodring – Young, guitarist Sean Dolich, drummer Lindy Harter and bassist Kalan Blehm – have a musical rap sheet longer than any of them care to recall. Yet, despite all this musical promiscuity, it wasn’t until May of 2019 that they finally found the vehicle that could carry forth their most authentic creative selves.
“We were searching for the sound in our heads,” says Hunter. “In modern life, we all struggle to stop, to be still; I know that there are few things that can hold my attention for very long. But when we are writing music for Moodring, we feel a different level of focus. Once we’d tapped the right vein, the sound just started to gush from us.”
Moodring’s Eureka moment came with ‘Gasoline’. A driving slab of rhythm guitars and atmospheric leads topped by moody, ethereal vocals, the song freed the dragon Hunter had been chasing. And, cage unlocked, the songs which comprise debut EP Showmetherealyou burst forth – Moodring was born.
“We feel like there’s a little bit of something for everyone on this record,” concludes Boz. “We hope these choruses get stuck in everyone’s heads. However, it’s also less linear. We sat down as a group and decided to take the next step to actually become your new favorite band.”
“Growing up, music was always there for us during our hardest times,” concludes Harrison. “While these songs may seem dark, it helps to connect with someone going through the same things. That’s what we want people to take away from this.”
Mark “Kaz” Kasprzyk started Redlight King as a vehicle for his songwriting a decade ago, after moving down from Hamilton, ON, Canada to Los Angeles, and soon recorded 2011’s Something for the Pain, which included the Rock/Alternative hits “Old Man,” (a tribute to his dad featuring a vocal sample granted by Neil Young himself), and “Bullet in My Hand” and 2013’s Irons in the Fire, highlighted by “Born to Rise,” a song that played over the end credits of the 2014 Kevin Costner film, Draft Day. He later release an EP featuring the popularity streamed song “Boneshaker”, which he wrote and produced independantly. Mark worked on new material for three years and unveiled the third full-length Redlight King album, with Parts + Labor Records, teaming up with its co-founder and house producer Jimmy Messer (AWOLNATION, Kygo, Kelly Clarkson). On songs like the first single, “Lift the Curse,” which channels ‘70s era Aerosmith and AC/DC, and “Nobody Wins,” borrowing a Motown bass line and “Sympathy for the Devil” percussion, Mark’s new direction doubles down on his blues roots and moves away from the hip-hop/rock hybrid he’d become known for. “Where I’m from, You had to come with the goods,” said Kaz. “You didn’t show up until you knew how to do it.” Mark’s childhood interests ranged from judo – he was an alternative for the Canadian Olympic team for the Summer 2000 games — to auto racing, which he picked up from his dad, and continues to be involved in as a TV personality and supporter. In 2022, Redlight King is set to release their 4th studio album “The Wheelhouse” with AFM records. With longtime member and guitar player Julian Tomarin, Randy Cooke on drums, it is a straight ahead rock record that’s exciting and powerful to listen to. Redlight King isn’t about smoke and mirrors, it honest, and it hits hard.
This is Archetypes Collide. Hard-hitting vision with melodic direction. In 2014
they released their first EP, Foundations. Enlisted Hiram Hernandez (Dragged
Under). The EP was preceded by their aggressive single, “Hollow Ground”.
In 2016, they released the heart-pounding single, “Fractures”. After touring in
support of their EP and new single they returned to the studio to record a
follow-up as well as releasing their massively successful cover of “Too Good
In 2018 their sophomore EP was released featuring the melodic anthem,
“Reminiscent Life” and the heavy-hitting jam, “Well Wasted”. Later in 2018,
their second cover “Ocean” was released and Archetypes Collide were
finalists in 98KUPD’s radio competition Playdio.
2019 brought new songs and more shows. After the success of “White Noise”,
they released “One More Night” and the band were finalists again for
“Forgive Me” kicked off 2020 as Archetypes Collide headed to Ohio to record
with Producer Nick Ingram and Oshie Bichar of Beartooth. Despite quarantine
slowing down the music industry, Archetypes Collide has continued to build in
2020. Archetypes Collide started their online shows, The Digital Sessions, and
released one of their hardest-hitting songs, “Your Misery”. With more to come
in 2021, Archetypes Collide shows no signs of slowing down.
Giovannie & The Hired Guns
In the last few years alone, Giovannie & The Hired Guns have grown from a massively beloved local live act to an undeniable new force on the national rock scene. Formed back when frontman Giovannie Yanez was working the counter at a pawnshop, the Stephenville,
Texas-based band has amassed millions of streams almost entirely through word-of-mouth, thanks in no small part to their unforgettable live show—an electrifying spectacle that invariably leaves audiences sweat-drenched and ecstatic. With their high-octane collision of rock-and-roll and country, Giovannie & The Hired Guns are now at work on a hotly anticipated new album showcasing their hard-hitting sound, emotionally raw storytelling, and the kind of authentically gritty energy that’s sorely missing from rock music today.
As revealed on their 2017 full-length debut Bad Habits and 2020 self-titled album, Giovannie & The Hired Guns draw much of their power from the eclectic sensibilities at the heart of the band: drummer Milton Toles, for instance, brings a soulful intensity deeply informed by playing music
in church as a kid, while guitarist Jerrod Flusche’s background includes session work with such prominent country acts as Koe Wetzel and Sam Riggs & the Night People. With their lineup rounded out by guitarist Carlos Villa and bassist Alex Trejo, the band also taps into elements of everything from Southern rock and stoner metal to la musica norteña and Latin hip-hop. “We’re all from different walks of life, and we all have our own unique style that we add to the band,” says Yanez. “No one’s ever telling anyone else how or what to play; we just show up and jam out and it all comes together so naturally—nothing is ever forced with us.”
Originally from the Northern Texas town of Mineral Wells, Yanez first explored his soul-baring approach to songwriting at the age of 17 (“It pretty much started right after the first big heartbreak,” he notes). Around that same time, he began performing at local dive bars while holding down a job at a nearby rock quarry. “I’d go play gigs and be out till about three in the morning, then get up to go to work at seven—it was a struggle for a while, but I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life,” says Yanez. Not long after landing his job at the pawnshop, Yanez crossed paths with Trejo and soon began assembling the Hired Guns lineup, then pushed forward with an equally grueling gig schedule. “When we first started out it was always, ‘Hey guys, can you play a four-hour set with two breaks? Here’s $200,’” Yanez recalls. As word got out about their can’t-miss live performance, the band began selling out shows all across their home state, in addition to sharing stages with the likes of Read Southall Band and Kody West. And in a particularly thrilling turn, 2019 saw Giovannie & The Hired Guns opening for platinum-selling country star Jason Aldean to a crowd of 36,000 at Globe Life Park stadium.
Each released without the support of a record label, Giovannie & The Hired Guns’ two studio albums have drastically expanded their following, largely on the strength of viscerally charged tracks like “Rooster Tattoo” (a cut from their self-titled effort that’s now surpassed 3.7 million streams on Spotify). The band have continued to pursue their potent instincts on recent singles like “Ramon Ayala,” a freewheeling anthem named for the famed Mexican singer/songwriter whose music served as an essential part of the soundtrack to Yanez’s childhood. “Some of our songs are pure fun, and some will hit you in the gut and make you cry—it all just depends on what’s in my heart in that moment,” says Yanez.
With their third full-length due out in 2022, Giovannie & The Hired Guns remain intent on bringing that unbridled passion to each and every live set. “Anytime we’re onstage the most important thing is connecting with the crowd in a way that makes them feel like they’re part of the show,” says Yanez. “Everyone’s got their struggles and their demons, but hopefully our music can help people let go a little and feel like everything’s going to be okay. I know it’s been the thing that’s kept me sane, and now I just want to keep spreading that love.”
Stitched Up Heart
Alecia “Mixi” Demner – lead vocals
Merritt Goodwin – lead guitar
Randy Mathias – bass/backing vocals
James Decker – drums/backing vocals
Stitched Up Heart’s goals for their sophomore album were daunting: “For each song we tried to throw paint—musically speaking—in a completely different direction, trying to create something innovative and different without losing our identity,” explains singer Alecia “Mixi” Demner. The end result is Darkness,11 deeply emotional songs, including “Warrior” and “Darkness,” boasting a sonic sheen that’s at once organic, yet intense and electronic. Produced by From First To Last singer/guitarist Matt Good (producer of Asking Alexandria and Hollywood Undead), Stitched Up Heart realized their impressive aural goals, blending, warping and creating their own brand of rock by utilizing “different elements to modernize our music and make it unique and fresh.” Proof is in the intense dynamics of first single, “Lost,” which features forceful guest vocals from Sully Erna of Godsmack. (Stitched Up Heart kicked off the anticipated Darkness touring cycle with Godsmack and Volbeat in April, 2019.)
While the musical growth and creative chances taken by the L.A.-based lineup is evident, fans of the band’s 2016 debut, Never Alone, will recognize the Stitched Up Heart’s signature sound: Demner’s flexible, passionate voice—a bit more airy and breathy and cool on this record—over ultra-melodic but sometimes unsettling heavy, riffing rock with darkly electronic guitar stylings. Of the band’s lauded debut, Shockwave magazine said, “…Never Alone personifies the new hard rock genre to near perfection.” Indeed, Never Alone, released in mid-2016, debuted in the Top 10 of both the Billboard Heatseeker and Hard Rock charts, with SiriusXM’s Octane putting the single “Finally Free” on hyper rotation.
While Darkness has been worth the wait, it’s actually an album that might never have been, hence the many shades of, well, darkness on the record. “At first, lyrically I wanted to write about strength. But during the time we were writing the album, I was going through a lot of challenges,” explains Demner. “It was really hard to be strong in a place where it’s dark and it’s scary.” She doesn’t want to dwell on her personal life, but in short, a health issue and surgery challenged her voice. The pressures she endured during that time are reflected in lyrics like “Can’t get a hold of the state that I’m in / I’m feeling the weight / On my shoulders.” That said, Demner adds, “I know at the other end that you come out stronger; you grow through what you go through. But still, that theme of dwelling in darkness goes throughout the album.”
In addition to Demner’s challenges, the entire band felt pressure in following up their successful debut. “As human beings, want to be better than we were yesterday. We wanted to make a better record than we did before. We want to top ourselves every time,” they say. To that end, the band wrote 70 songs over a year-long period. The final contenders were tracked at producer Good’s Arizona studio. Getting out of LA was cathartic for Demner, who drove across the desert alone to write and work with Good before being joined by the band. “You know, those feelings you get when you know there’s some sort of transition that’s about to come? Driving to Arizona was like I was closing a chapter of my life and going into unknown territory,” she says. Demner remembers the moment when the song “Darkness” fully clicked for her: “I was staying at an Airbnb during the recording, and I listened to it while I was floating in the pool at night, staring at the moon. It was beautiful, and I just knew then that the song was going to be something really cool.”
Other stellar songs include “Warrior,” which, Demner admits with a laugh, was “ordered” by her grandmother. It was the first song written for Darkness, and the frontwoman relates, “’Warrior’ is in some ways literal, about being in the military, and questioning why you’re fighting, and what you’re fighting for. Whether it’s the right choice, and if you’re doing it for the right reasons,” she explains. “My grandpa was in the military, and I did a song on the last album for veterans as well.”
As for the overall sound of Darkness, Demner gives Good high praise. “The cherry on top is all of the sound design elements.” For instance, “Matt would take recordings of my voice, then turn it into its own melody and its own instrument, making it into an electronic-like sound. It’s something we hadn’t done before; we just want to be as innovative as possible.” The band were spot-on in the album sessions. “We were going to give Decker about a week to do the drums for the whole record and he finished it all in like, I think three hours or something crazy! Randy and Merritt totally stepped up in the studio too. We challenged ourselves and took a risk musically and it couldn’t have gone better.”
Getting Erna on “Lost” involved more travel for Demner. “We had been going back and forth on a song to do together. We’d pretty much finished our whole writing process and still didn’t know what song was right for him. As I was listening to our album as a whole and I realized that ‘Lost’ could work.” The frontwoman flew to Erna’s Nashville studio for the recording. Demner’s lyrical take is about how the brain can be destructive, noting, “it’s like a machine, always working and thinking, but it can spin out of control and turn into a dark depression.” But Erna went even darker. “He looked at it as basically an evil entity of darkness in your mind, like a computer virus, if you will. It’s somewhat seductive and enticing and luring you into this depression, and it doesn’t want to let you go.”
Humbled by the success and attention garnered for Never Alone, Stitched Up Heart are eager to thank their supporters and fans with tons of touring, helping to get Darkness into the light. “While there are a lot of dark parts where I dug really deep on this album, there’s hope as well,” Demner affirms. “If you just hang in though the tough times, there’s still cool stuff that happens in those times… and of course, now that we love our new record and are on tour, everything’s so exciting.” If Darkness is personal, it’s also purposely universal. “I ask the universe to try to come up with the words so that I can reach people as deeply as possible,” says Demner. “My hope is ultimately to really have our music connect intensely with people—guys, girls, young, old—everyone and anyone.”
Combining elements of legendary nu-metal/ hard rock groups such as Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Limp Bizkit & Korn with modern trap/ electronic elements, American rapper & producer, Mike’s Dead, has paved his own lane as a multifaceted artist. Launching his brand in June of 2018, he quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of followers across social platforms leading him to now over 1.5 million followers across platforms and 20 million independent streams.
In 2021 he joined the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Seether, A Perfect Circle, and many other legendary acts at Shelter Music Group. Shortly after, he joined the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Motionless In White, Black Veil Brides and more at Sound Talent Group – creating a promising touring year to come. With successful headlining tours under his belt and a “cult-like” fanbase at his side, we see an exciting 2022 for Mike as he rolls out his new sound & inevitably his first album (cont.) Growing up just outside of Washington D.C., he dropped out of college and at the age of 20, moved to Los Angeles to study audio engineering and music production. After years of relentless studio work, he crafted his unique sound; blending elements of hard rock with crushing bass lines and elaborate synth work. Vocally, he combines hard rap lyrics matched with raw emotion and ghostly melodies. He is “…a voice for the unheard.”
Superbloom is Brooklyn’s latest entry into the alternative rock scene. Their debut album, “Pollen” is a 12-track love-letter to heavy alternative music that spans infectiously bouncy hard rock, instantly nostalgic acoustic songs, sing-along choruses and undeniable hooks.
While the album’s feedback-laced instrumentation is hard-hitting at every turn, the band’s sonic signature is embedded in the vocal performance that fills each track with complex layering, earworm melodies and lush harmonies that deliver discoveries of nuanced detail with each listen.
“Pollen” is available on all streaming services.
The Dead Deads
Nashville-based rock band The Dead Deads are cherry-picking everything good about grunge, hard rock, indie, classic metal and punk, and creating memorable and fun alternative music for rock fans across generations and genres. They are that “up-and-coming” band that touring artists have known and loved at first sight. They’ve been named by many of their own heroes including Paul Stanley and Eric Singer (KISS), Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) Corey Taylor (Stone Sour/Slipknot), and Shaun Morgan (Seether) as one of the most refreshing new bands touring today, and they have conjured a wildly engaged fan club—The Dead Corps. With X’s painted over their eyes, the band and fans conjure a rebellious return to fun, freedom and true fandom.
Widow7 is a home for the people afraid to be themselves.
Based out of Des Moines, IA the unapologetic in your face rock band is fronted and founded by vocalist; Mark Leon. The lineup was then filled out in 2020 with various veterans of the music industry; Seth Peters, Jayson Kempf, Jake Schrek, and Shane Mills. Compiling decades of experience the band set out to create a product that would send shock waves through the music community. Since its inception the band has performed several shows around the country, inked a demo deal with Alchemy Recordings/Rise Records, and won Danny Wimmer Presents “Road to LA” competition. The band now sets its sights on a U.S. takeover landing both Knotfest Iowa and Aftershock Festival appearances. Widow7 is on a trajectory to make a huge impact on the industry and winning fans at an exponential rate.
Moon Tooth began its journey at the end of 2012. Founding members Nick Lee and Ray Marte‘s previous band had dissolved and they quickly found a musical and philosophical kinship with singer John Carbone and bassist Vincent Romanelli. The band went straight to work writing and constantly gigging. They broke 100 shows in their first year with a relentless DIY ethos and quickly built a following with their intense and infamous live performances. In July of 2013 they released the ‘Freaks’ EP; four songs and 14 minutes of urgent, frenetic energy. The EP was mixed and mastered by drummer Ray Marté at his own Westfall Recording Company and proved the band as a force to be reckoned with as both musicians and songwriters. The EP also won over attention from the metal press. MetalSucks described the band at the time as “an undeniably strange, totally kick-ass beast who don’t really fit into any one genre. Anyone whining about a lack of originality in modern metal needs to check these cats out.” The band went on to steadily tour and build their following throughout 2014. In 2015 they started to see the results of their hard work. They were asked that year to play both the Metal Injection/MetalSucks CMJ showcase as well as their SXSW showcase. They saw rotation of songs from their ‘Freaks’ EP on Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal with no label or management behind them. The band also found themselves sharing stages with bands as notable and diverse as Killswitch Engage, The Dillinger Escape Plan, GWAR, Mutoid Man, Weedeater, Veil of Maya, Cancer Bats, KEN Mode, He Is Legend, & King Parrot. In February of 2016 the band self-released its first full-length LP ‘Chromaparagon’ to much critical acclaim. They saw premieres and features on notable sites such as Guitar World, Revolver, Premier Guitar, Decibel Magazine, Modern Drummer, Gear Gods, Substream Magazine, Heavy Blog Is Heavy, Metal Injection, Metal Sucks, and more! The track “Igneous” was featured on Apple Music’s A+ List for metal and was also played regularly on Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal.
Crooked Teeth is the rock n roll brainchild of Northern California native Tyson Evans. Operating under the illusive moniker taken from a Death Cab for Cutie deep cut, Evans has perfectly incapsulated all elements of his influences under one name by bringing to the table huge pop punk riffs that sound like they belong in an early 2000’s teen movie soundtrack, lyrics that cut deep to the chest like Warped Tour faves Taking Back Sunday or Dashboard Confessional and pop melodies that could sit in top 40 radio alongside contemporaries Blackbear and Machine Gun Kelly.
Before the pandemic, Crooked Teeth spent time on the road supporting scene darlings such as Trophy Eyes and This Wild Life as well as appearances at Emo Nite, local chart topping on The World Famous KROQ and recently shared the main stage at Unsilent Night with Sleeping With Sirens, nothing, nowhere., Grandson and Nessa Barrett to name a few.
In 2022, Crooked Teeth will be releasing singles leading into his debut LP by kicking off the year with the ferocious and anthemic “I Want Out” which also features Tik Tok pop-punk faves Glimmers and Matt Copley. Following the release, Crooked Teeth will spend a month on the road on both coasts headlining shows and returning to Oakland on March 17th for a sold out show supporting Arista Records’ KennyHoopla.
A River Runs Thru It
As You Were
Based out of Fort Knox, KY, As You Were is a rock band from the United States Army Recruiting Command. For over 3 years, As You Were has recorded and toured the country showing music fans that the Army has much more to offer than they might think. As You Were averages over 150 days a year on the road performing at clubs, theaters, high schools, colleges, sporting events, national conventions, and at major music festivals. Made up of highly skilled professional musicians As You Were specialize in performing all the most current chart-topping rock and pop hits interspersed with their own original songs.
All talented musicians before they joined the Army, As You Were, is made up of lead singer and guitarist Tom “Kat” Katsiyiannis, guitarist Austin West, drummer Ryan “Cleveland” Kaluza, and bass player Abiud Flores. The band and the songs they perform tells the Army story through the experience of music, opening the eyes of potential future Soldiers to unexpected ways to serve their country. A fully contained self-sufficient touring machine, As You Were has opened for musical acts such as Flo Rida, AJR, Tones and I, Lewis Capaldi, and were an official opening act at the 2020 iHeart Music Festival.
As You Were will be returning to the studio this summer to record their third album.
You can follow them @aywmusic on FB/IG, and get all of their latest updates at www.aywmusic.com where you can also download their first two albums, “Set Yourself Apart” and “What You Desire,” for free.