While I’m not quite a junkie, I am fairly addicted to the “33 1/3” book series from publisher Continuum. If you’ve yet to hear about the series, the books are each dedicated to one specific album that has gained some sort of notoriety in the music world. The records chosen are mostly cult favorites with a few influential blockbusters mixed in. Of the 60 books written so far (each by a different author), the series has covered Pet Sounds, Songs in the Key in Life, Exile on Main St. and Led Zeppelin II but also lower-selling but no less influential recordings by the Magnetic Fields, Belle & Sebastian, Guided By Voices, DJ Shadow and Sonic Youth. (For a great overview, pick up one of the two Greatest Hits volumes released by the publisher.)
The tomes vary in approach, with some offering strictly historical examinations, some more about the author’s personal relationship with the album and others a mix of both. Chicago-based writer and music industry vet Bob Gendron has written what will likely be the only Cincinnati-connected album in the series, telling the tale behind Gentlemen, the major-label debut and relative breakthrough album by The Afghan Whigs. I would argue that records by Over the Rhine and The Ass Ponys, among others, deserve the 33 1/3 treatment, but they’re likely not well known enough to pique the publisher’s interest. I’d also argue that my personal favorite Whigs’ album, Black Love, should get a book, but the chances of having two Whigs stories in the series are just as slim.
Gendron mostly plays historian, telling the story via research and numerous interviews with the prime players, including all of the Whigs (drummer Steve Earle included), Sub Pop employees (Gendron himself used to be one) and other friends and industry connections. He also does a fantastic job of recreating the state of the Whigs at the time, a band of tight friends on the brink of major success yet also inflicted with drug issues and internal and external squabbles.
The story of Gentlemen is bookended by the tale of the band’s beginnings and their breakup, all the way up through last year’s greatest hits album. There are a lot of interesting tidbits and revelations. Gendron gets singer/songwriter Greg Dulli to talk about his serious relationship with the mysterious “Kris,” the dissolution of which led to the album’s tortuous, heartbroken tone. Other fun facts: Dulli recorded several of the album’s lead vocal tracks in one night while flying on coke and trying to impress a girl; Steve Earle was booted for several reasons (alcohol abuse, meddling girlfriend, creative control issues, ego conflict); and labelmate Linda Ronstadt was allegedly furious about the album’s cover (depicting a young boy and girl lounging on a bed), apparently under the impression that it was a naked bellybutton away from being child porn. It was also interesting to read that one of the band’s main friends at Elektra Records was feeding information to the nasty, slanderous 'zine Fat Greg Dulli.
Gendron gets to about every detail of the album, from the cover art’s original inspiration and liner notes to the songs’ inspirations and recording. But he doesn’t just relay facts. He also talks about Gentlemen as an artistic statement, carefully dissecting and describing the individual songs’ and the general album’s mood, cause and effect. Not only does Gendron’s book offer the last word on Gentlemen, it also shows what a compelling story The Afghan Whigs’ entire career remains.
For Whigs fans or even just those who were around Cincinnati to witness the band’s rise from little underground touring unit to soulful, seductive Rock machine, the book is a fascinating remembrance. For those who’ve never even heard of the Afghan Whigs, the story is universal and dramatic enough to be read as a novel (save the music-critic-y song dissertations).
The story is so good, in fact, that it would be great to see Gendron expand it beyond the 113 pages of this book. As his Gentlemen proves, the Whigs are deserving of a long-form biography that tells the band’s complete story. Who knows? Maybe Gentlemen: The Movie isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility.
Too bad John Belushi isn't around to play Greg. And Jimmy Page is too old to play Rick McCollum.
— Mike Breen
There are concerts that are fun and there are concerts that kick your ass. If you were at the sold-out U.S. Bank Arena Friday night for the opening date of The Black Keys first headlining arena tour, you probably got your ass kicked.
First up, Arctic Monkeys caused a ruckus on the floor. Most (but not all) of the folks in the seats wandered around aimlessly or sat there, watching listlessly. There was certainly uproar in front of the stage, though. But as the English boys played, sang and sassed, the crowd in the arena filled in and loosened up. It helped that their lighting guys strobed the shit out of them, too. The seizure-inducing lights may have been Morse code for “Love Arctic Monkeys. Swoon over our accents.” If so, it worked. By the time Arctic Monkeys closed with “When the Sun Goes Down,” the crowd on the floor had nearly doubled and, at the very least, those in their seats were nodding their heads and smiling. Those boys put on a fun show.
After spending the entire intermission only getting halfway through the beer line, nearly everyone gave up and fled to their seats when The Black Keys began. Not that anyone sat, though — they were all too busy dancing and freaking out. Strictly speaking, The Black Keys may not be from Cincinnati but it’s safe to say we treat them like hometown boys, anyway. Dan Auerbach (singing/guitar) even recalled playing Southgate House a few years ago. Upstairs. In the small room.
From a titanic disco ball that lowered from the rafters (for only one song) to the graphics on the screens behind them, the show was far different from their days playing tiny rooms. With each beginning there was an outburst of recognition. The middles of songs gave way to dancing, flailing and air guitar (or drums) and each ending note was drowned out by thousands of shrieks, whistles and catcalls.
Two things were learned last night. First, if you have any doubt about the amount of noise that one guitar and a set of drums can make, go see The Black Keys. Their albums don’t do justice to the sheer volume Auerbach and Partrick Carney (drums) are capable of producing. Second, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard an entire arena try to whistle.
If you weren’t there, you missed the best kind of Friday night possible. If you were, you’re probably already making plans for the next time The Black Keys come to town.
At the City & Colour concert at Bogart's a while back, I watched as a woman in the front row texted her way through both of the great opening acts. I glanced around and discovered that she wasn’t the only one. I figured everyone would surely stop when Dallas Green and the rest of C&C took to the stage. Three songs in and the crowd was still lit up by glowing phones.
Everywhere I looked people were texting, tweeting, facebooking or recording the night away. Often, both members of a couple would be recording the same song. As if the iPhone 12 inches to the left might just capture something different from theirs. I watched as a group of friends passed around a cell phone with a message from another friend who, I assume, wasn’t present (or maybe they were just three feet over). Meanwhile, the band played on.
This left me disappointed in humanity.
Right around Thanksgiving time, CityBeat began to receive several queries via email, Twitter and Facebook, all essentially asking, "What the hell happened to the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards?"
CityBeat's annual celebration of Greater Cincinnati's best original music had been held for 15 years on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The reasoning was that musicians who tour a lot would hopefully be home for the ceremony and regular weekly giggers might be less likely to have an every-Sunday residency. Also, we thought, perhaps the holiday timing would allow us to nab a few of the city's favorite sons and daughters (Jerry Springer? SJP? Any Lachey we could get our hands on?) as presenters.
In the end, the timing of the ceremony never really had much effect. We did have Jerry Springer — via video tape from Chicago — at the very first CEAs (held at the old Sycamore Gardens in Over-the-Rhine), but the video malfunctioned. Maybe it was an omen. We also spent many years attempting to lure the Isley Brothers to perform and be inducted into the CEA Hall of Fame, but the Isleys haven't been "local" in almost half a century, so the Thanksgiving timing was irrelevant (and the Isleys would have cost a fortune to bring to town).
We also discovered those hard-touring musicians tour so hard, having an off day the Sunday before Thanksgiving is hardly a given. Last year, for example, Artist of the Year winners Walk the Moon were on the road and unable to attend (though they still created one of the show's better moments by having their mothers accept on their behalf).
Having the ceremony in November was also a hassle once CityBeat acquired the MidPoint Music Festival, which occurs annually in late September. The CEAs bumped up a little too close to MPMF, making the organization of the awards a hectic endeavor.
So, starting with the 2012 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, the ceremony will now be held in January. This change allows our staff to fully focus on the CEAs without battling MPMF fatigue. And it creates an easier-to-track window for nomination consideration. In the future, the Album of the Year category's eligibility timeframe will be anything released that year. Previously, the timeframe was approximately October of the previous year to October of the current year. (This year, eligibility will be extended to anything released in 2012, but also includes releases that came out October-December 2011.)
The 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony will be held at Covington's Madison Theater on Jan. 27. This year's host will be the very funny Ted Clark, who is also making plans to do his popular "live talk show" at the after-party (read more about Ted here). And there will be more live performances at the CEA ceremony than ever before. Ticket info, the lineup of performers and more details will be released soon.
(Let's get this out of the way right up front, since the Northern Ky. locale always gets mocked every year — yes, the "2012" "Cincinnati" Entertainment Awards will be held in Covington in 2013. How odd!)
Another new wrinkle for the CEAs this year will be a live showcase of the "New Artist of the Year" nominees; the winner of the category (normally decided by the nominating committee) will be largely determined by audience vote at the showcase, which is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 18 at Bogart's. More details to come.
The 2012 CEA nominees — determined by a large pool of local music experts, including writers, bloggers, club owners, radio show hosts and others (this year's committee is the largest yet) — will be announced Dec. 12. The ballot will go live at citybeat.com and then it's up to you. Fan voting determines all categories except for the "Critical Achievement" ones — Artist of the Year, Album of the Year — which are voted on by the committee.
Stay tuned for many more CEA announcements to come. And visit citybeat.com's CEA page here for a look at past nominees, winners and more.
We caught up with Shannon Larkin Sunday afternoon before the show on the bus to talk about football and about his musical influences. When I arrived I waited in their outdoor football viewing area where a TV comes out of the side of the bus and is setup for group viewing. You can tell members of these three bands are die hard football fans.
I had already done my research to know that Shannon loves the Oakland Raiders and has pretty strong feelings about them bringing down the San Diego Chargers last week for the first time in many years.
CB: Do you feel like your Oakland Raiders are doing better than they should be? (Laughing)
Shannon: No. No I don’t. I feel like they are doing a lot worse than they should be. My Raiders story goes back to growing up. I was raised in Virginia area and my dad is a Notre Dame guy. He went to Notre Dame so I grew up watching ND football ever Saturday. Tim Brown, who was a number one draft pick and Heisman winner, went to play for the Raiders in 1987 or 1988. After that I always liked the Raiders. I also went to Redskins games at RFK growing up in Virginia, so the Raiders were my AFC team and I always loved the Skins. The last few years the Redskins have been terrible and they had Jason Campbell as their quarterback and then he got traded to Oakland and I didn’t understand why.
CB: Now he is the starter right?
Shannon: Yes because Gradkowski got hurt. Al Davis has been very influencial with things he has done for the NFL. He has done some great things, but he is so old now like 88, he needs to let the team go and get some younger people. Let them win again.
CB: Well, San Diego is losing today so you should be happy.
Shannon: Last week was so amazing. Every year, I watch the Raiders lose those two games against San Diego and last week Sully and I were jumping up and down when Oakland won for the first time in a long time.
CB: Well, we are here in Bengals country, do you have any favorite Bengals?
Shannon: They are exciting this year with T.O. and Chad. Terrell Owens is still making amazing plays and touchdowns every game and is fun to watch. Carson Palmer is a great quarterback and hopefully he can prove himself in the big games.
CB: Well maybe the Raiders and Bengals will see each other in the playoffs.
Shannon: I can only hope.
CB: In music, you have played with legendary bands
like Stone Sour, Black Sabbath, Candlebox, and others, but I read that
you love to play funk music. We have the Bootsy Collins connection here
in Cincinnati. Have you ever met Bootsy?
Shannon: I have never met Bootsy. It is funny last night we played Detroit and after the show there were fans waiting outside on the street and I always try to go out and sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. There was this older gray-haired black guy who came up to me and said he was in the P-Funk Allstars with George Clinton. He came up and said hi and that he liked the show. I love funk so that was interesting.
We were a family where the TV was mainly used for Saturday Notre Dame games. After dinner, we would go downstairs and my parents would play records for my sister and I like the Beatles and Creedence. One of the main records was Sly and the Family Stone Greatest Hits.
CB: So you have always had it around.
Shannon: Yes, Sly and the Family Stone is the shit to me. It just has such a positive message in every song where all the musicians can shine. In my later years, I got into Zeppelin, RUSH, Slayer, Metallica of course. I am giving away my age. In 1984, it became Black Flag and punk bands. Everything kind of circles around. Now I am forty-something I am going back to my roots with 60’s and 70’s rock.
CB: What are you listening to right now?
Shannon: My latest downloads have been “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, which is another record my parents used to play and Paul McCartney’s “Wings.” People won’t believe it reading this.
CB: Have you met Paul?
Shannon: Oh my god no. I wouldn’t even know what to say. After a long hard battle with myself after someone asked me who my top 5 bands were, I ended up picking Ramones, Beatles, Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Sly and the Family Stone. Those are my influences and I wear them on my sleeve.
CB: Is there anyone that you would like to collaborate with that you haven’t worked with yet.
Shannon: I’d love to work with George Clinton someday since he invented the word funk. Funk to me becomes about being in a room with friends to just jam with and you just make music and there is no pressure to make a record. You just get stoned and have a shot of tequila and just jam for three hours. It always becomes a funk riff that you can loop over and over where everyone can take their little part to shine. I would love someday to create some funk-pop music like Sly and Family Stone. Sly is like a freak that disappeared off the face of the earth so I know I will never get to play with him. George is still out there though with his crack pipe so there is a chance maybe I will be able to play with him.
CB: You just played Sturgis this summer. Did you have fun? Any crazy stories?
Shannon: It was horrible for us.
CB: Really? I thought you always enjoyed it.
Shannon: Well we are usually on tour when we play there and this time we weren’t so we didn’t have our bikes. It sucked. There were 500,000 people and bikes and we didn’t have ours. The show was fun but it was like putting a kid in the candy store and telling him he can’t have any and he has to watch all the other kids eat the candy.
CB: What kind of bikes do you have?
Shannon: I have a 07 Heritage Softtail that is my reliable bike. I have a 77 Shovelhead that is my bar hopper bike. In fact my 77 Shovelhead is from a guy here in Cincinnati, Jeff Cochran with Speed King Customs. I ordered it from him here when I found out we would be working on the Oracle album in LA for four months. I knew I would need a bike in LA so I called him after I had seen him when I played here. He brought a whole bunch of bikes out and I fell in love with a red one with a suicide shifter. He came across the 77 and thought it would fit me better so he sent it out to me and I love it.
CB: You guys have the new Oracle album which came out in the spring. What is your favorite song to play on the new album?
Shannon: “Oracle.” It is a 7.5 minute instrumental. At shows like Rock on the Range, when the album first came out we weren’t ready to tour so we would fly in for radio festival shows. It ended up being like a “best of” with two or three songs off the new record where as this is “The Oracle Tour.” It is Oracle heavy and we play 5 or 6 songs off the new record which makes it far more interesting to us to play new stuff that we haven’t played live before.
CB: The “Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” song is all over the radio right now.
Shannon: That is so great to hear and what we did for all the songs in the show tonight is strip down the videos and make all new videos to go with each song. We hired a video guy from Motley Crue and dug through years of video tape trying to find stuff that would look cool on the big screens. Everything is brand new visually even if you don’t know all the new songs yet.
CB: So are we going to see any pyro tonight?
Shannon: We actually have a laser show this time. Laser technology has kind of taken over the past few years and it is sick visually. You can get any can get any color lasers now and it actually takes two guys to run the lasers. It is actually cool from my vantage point as well to see the lasers over the crowd.
CB: I know you have a family now. Do they ever come out on the road with you?
Shannon: No they don’t really, but we did start this tour in Florida so my wife and kid got to come out and experience the first two shows. They love it. My daughter is 12 now so she is at an age where she can appreciate it and have fun.
CB: Do you ever worry about exposing her to it?
Shannon: No, we are all in our 40’s and we don’t do any of that crazy shit anymore. We did it all in previous bands before we joined Godsmack. I was 36 when I joined the band and was already married and had my daughter. The only thing I worry about is the language. You know we are a rock band and so when she comes backstage she’ll see people smoking and doing shots. We also did this one DVD called “Changes” and on the DVD I was late to sound check and Sully keeps yelling “Shannon Fucking Larkin” over and over. Now when fans see me and I am walking with my twelve year old people yell out, “Shannon Fucking Larkin” so she is exposed to that sometimes and I want to put ear muffs on her. As far and the drugs and girls though we are way over that.
CB: I have spoken to a lot of drummers this year
and some of them like Ray from KORN talk about playing drums all the
time everyday even when they are not touring. When you are not touring,
do you play all the time or do you take a break?
Shannon: I play all the time. When I am home, I go in my garage and put on my Ipod and play along with every song on random shuffle. One minute it is the Stones and the next it is Slayer. It is a fun way to practice. Usually when the band is together without Sully, we just jam and play funk and other sounds as well. The other band members live in New Hampshire and I live in Florida so I don’t really have anyone to play with so I jam to the Ipod.
CB: Does your daughter do any music?
Shannon: Yes she plays the trumpet in the school band which is cool. Maybe a funk duo is in the future who knows?
CB: What is up next for the band? I know the record is still pretty new, but are you working on new music?
Shannon: No new music right now. We actually write by ourselves. Everyone has a little recorder that we use. Tony is actually back there playing guitar right now. He plays all day and when he gets a riff he likes, he will record it. By the time we start to write songs, we all have like 20 riffs as a starting point. We use those to write songs and a chorus. Right now we are just all focused on this tour. It is a pretty big production. Even though the set list is the same, the production changes and is ever evolving. Last night Sully came on the bus and we came up with a new ending to the set. We also just came up with a video for “The Enemy.” It is changing as we go, as we see parts that are weak, we make changes. Our video guys says he goes to sleep dreaming about edits.
Peter Frampton was a leader of English Rock & Roll movement in the 1970s, sparked by the massive popularity of his epic 1976 live album, Frampton Comes Alive. Frampton is celebrating the 35-year anniversary of the album on the road with his "Comes Alive 35 Tour," which comes alive at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion this Sunday and features a performance of the entire milestone album in the first set. Frampton continues to evolve as an artist, as evidenced on his Grammy-winning 2006 album Fingerprints and his newest record, Thank You Mr. Churchill, released last year. CityBeat spoke with Frampton recently about the album's impact and how special music still is to the legend.
Last night at Riverbend, I finished off some personal business for my 12-year-old self. I finally got to see Lita Ford sing “Kiss Me Deadly” live on stage, hear Poison play “Nothing But a Good Time” and catch Def Leppard perform “Pour Some Sugar on Me," live and in person, all on one hot evening by the river.
My parents believed that I was not old enough back in 1987 to make all of these dreams come true, but now my older self is able to make these types of things happen.
Def Leppard has been entertaining international audiences with their strong British sound for the better part of 30 years. They have provided American audiences with Rock anthems that have fired up arenas, like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Animal.” Over the years they have put out 12 albums, including their latest offering from last year Mirrorball: Live and More. The band is among the upper echelon of Rock acts that found success, continuity and growing support through the eras of fans.
CityBeat caught up with guitarist Phil Collen to discuss the band’s continued success before the Riverbend show last night. We discussed why the band is still able to keep it up after so long and what inspires him personally in his musical voyage.
CityBeat: What do you think the secret to the band’s longevity is? I just read this morning that Van Halen just cancelled the rest of their tour. Why have you guys been able to stay together for so long?
Phil Collen: I think our motivation is very different from Van Halen’s. They broke up a while ago. They actually didn’t get off. We’ve actually experienced super-super highs, diamond albums, multi-platinum sell-out tours and all that with really bad lows, like Steve dying and Rick losing his arm.
I think we have been together more consistently than most families. We leave home for 18 months. I have been in the band for 30 years. It’s just that (it) really makes a difference if you can relate to each other on very much a personal level. You have almost a private little clique, an elite club only you can relate to.
I tell you, we have always been good. We have never gone away. We have never split up. We have never done reunions and I think that is the trick. If you have to do a reunion, I always ask “Why did you split up in the first place?” I think we still have got more to prove. We still have songs to write, great albums to make. It’s a whole new day, a whole new digital age, everything is changing, whole new sets of fans. It never really stops. There is always ambition there, and there is always plenty of stuff to do. If you really want to share your work, that’s one of the first things you do in the first place. You get to express your art, it’s an artistic release and the other thing is you actually share it with other people. We are still doing that.
CB: I know you guys have been talking about writing and wanting to release new music. What is the band's writing process?
PC: It is more difficult than it used to be. I think we have gone through every different variation. We have gone through a time when one person writes the song, one person comes up with an idea and someone finishes it off or someone has an idea or we just play on each other’s songs. That’s what Queen ended up doing.
We have done every different variation of that. The best stuff I think we have done was when Mutt Lange was involved and just the way he approached it. He had a lot more experience than us and just brought a whole bunch of things to the table. Again, it is very different, there are a couple things I am putting together that are almost finished and then I usually play them for someone else in the band and put together an idea for them and we just take it from there. That’s really how it works. It’s not rocket science and every song starts in a different way.
I think the most inspiring song is when you have a title and that’s all you got and the rest kind of writes itself around it. I have another band Man Raze and same deal with that. We actually wrote a couple songs for a movie that was The Showdown, which was about superbikes racing. Once I had the whole story I came up with the idea, “Take on the World” — it was racing and stuff, and the song wrote itself.
So it is very inspiring to start with a title or at least an idea and then you just color in by numbers almost. It can come from a million different places and that is one of the wonderful things about being an artist really.
CB: Do you have any regrets over the years?
PC: There are loads of things that we’d do differently obviously. That is the whole plan. You experience stuff and you don’t make the same mistakes again, hopefully, whether it’s driving, old relationships or whatever. You are always on this learning curve which is a different level than the past.
Yeah, you know, not really — (I don't have any) regrets, not even slightly. I love where I am right now and that is the happiest person in the world. I am having a great time. It’s really cool. None at all really.
CB: What is your craziest fan story over the years?
PC: There have been a bunch of crazy fan stories. I have always found the weirdest ones are when people get my face tattooed on their body. I remember the first time this happened years ago, this Italian girl said, “I’m going to get you tattooed on me.” I said, “No, no, no, no, have you told your parents?” And she said, “No, but they’ll be OK.” She got this tattoo done and over the years we have now seen this millions of times, you know, people show their tattoos of our likeness or face on their arm or back or wherever it is. I always try to discourage it because it is a tattoo. I have one tattoo and it is my wife’s name and she has my name tattooed on her and that’s it. I was 52 when I got that.
CB: When you've written songs in the past over the years, did you guys know when you had a hit on your hands?
PC: Some of them, but other songs you think you have a hit and they disappear. You can never really tell. It depends on the environment of the moment. Back then it would be radio. Right now, everything is about celebrity and fame and TV. It is a different one to judge. It is about getting out there. If you get something in a movie, it has more of a chance than something played on the radio. It has changed a lot. The more the music business has turned more into an industry than art, it becomes more difficult to predict (which songs will catch on).
CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?
PC: I couldn’t put it down for one. There are a few — and it is obviously my opinion — that (have) really inspired me. A few by David Bowie. There are a few Hendrix ones — “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. There is a great guitar solo on a song “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur, a song from the ’70s (that) took me ages to figure out, then I realized there were more than one guitar doing it. There are millions of them that really inspire. I could go on all day but (there's) not one in any particular — all of those.
CB: Any current music you are listening to that you find inspiring?
PC: Yeah, my favorite artist is Skrillex. I am really into dance and Techno music, love it, Dubstep especially. I just think what Skrillex is doing sounds like Heavy Metal without guitars and Hip Hop without words. That’s what I get out of it. It is just very different. It is very pure. I love it.
(I listen to) just different things; I listen to everything. I listen to Jazz or Blues, Hip Hop, Metal, Rock, whatever Pop song, right across the board. It’s all amazing and stuff to draw on really.
This week’s CityBeat features the announcement of the first several weeks’ worth of headliners for PNC’s MidPoint Indie Summer Series. The free, every-Friday concert series on Fountain Square again features an interesting array of out-of-town artists and Cincinnati music’s finest. The concerts begin June 3 with local Electronica duo You, You’re Awesome headlining a typically eclectic night of provocative sounds. It’s good prep for 2011’s MidPoint Music Festival this fall. The Indie Summer kick-off is your first chance to get MidPoint ’11 tickets — MPMFers can buy three-day passes at a discounted rate while they last at the events this summer.
Below, take a look/listen to the performers announced so far.
The quintessential Columbus rock festival, Rock on the Range, drew great crowds this year. We met with a flock of artists to get the scoop on this galaxy of music. Here are interviews with many of them:
Killswitch Engage is a metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999 after the disbandment of Overcast and Aftershock. Killswitch Engage's current lineup consists of vocalist Howard Jones, bassist Mike D'Antonio, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, and drummer Justin Foley.
Mike D’Antonio plays bass guitar and is a founding member of the band. He sat down with us at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s fifth self-titled album, Killswitch Engage and life on the road.
CB: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Mike: All my musical influences are from growing up when I was a kid. I was really into New York, Cromags, Agnostic Front, and Madball. Hard core music shaped the way I view music and who I am today.
CB: What is your favorite song on the new album to sing live?
Mike: The opening track “Never Again” is a hard rockin song and in your face which is what I gravitate toward so that is probably my favorite.
CB: I’ve been listening to your music to prepare for ROTR and I found the music on the new album to be a little darker and more aggressive than your past work. Is there a reason? Are you guys angry?
Mike: Not so much anymore. We used to be. I just had a birthday and turned 37 and I think we are through with being angry. I don’t know why it is darker. It is definitely darker, but it still has a positive message in the songs like we have had in the past. It may be because this is the first time that we have used an outside producer, Brendon O’Brien on this one. He has done work with Bruce Springsteen, Mastodon, AC/DC, Pearl Jam and others. He is not necessarily a dark producer though. Maybe it is just what we came to the table with this time.
CB: What was your process to write this album?
Mike: Whenever we write, we all bring demos to practice and we listen and critique it. We always have one week of practice and two weeks off to work on demos. We re-work it all the time. The process is always the same. The only monkey wrench in the system was the outside producer. Usually, Adam, our guitarist produces all our stuff and we are very comfortable with that. It was our fifth album and we thought that if we ever were going to take a chance, now would be the time. I don’t know if we will do it again. I really feel like we can do it on our own. No need to spend the big bucks if we don’t have to.
CB: What do you miss most when you are on the road?
Mike: Definitely my wife. I also have 2 pug puppies at home named Raisin and Potato. I desperately miss them right now. Potato just fell in the pool the other day when we took off the pool cover with all the chemicals in it. He fell right in and we had to wash him down.%u2028
CB: I guess he can swim.
Mike: It was even more scary because we didn’t see it happen. We just saw him soaking wet. It is scary. They have big heads and small legs so he definitely sank and swallowed some water.
CB: I read that you have a background in graphic design and that you do all the artwork for the band. It is cool that you can meld two things that you love to do together.
Mike: I started as a graphic designer because my friend’s bands actually needed art for covers and it was fun. For every band I have been in, I actually just assumed the position of graphic designer and took over as art director because it needed to be done and it needed to be cheap.
CB: This is a little bit timely, you guys recorded a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver.” He is a legend and recently passed, so how much did he influence you and what are your feelings?
Mike: Even until right before he died, he was an amazing musician and he could still belt it out. A lot of old timers today cannot. He was very “on” every single night. I have never met him but he was supposedly a super nice guy. The world will miss him, especially the metal world. When we did the cover he graciously signed off on it and we heard he liked it. We actually got a photo from our friend who was on the Heaven and Hell tour with him that he took a himself holding a cardboard sign that said, “Hey Killswitch, Where are my Royalties?” It is actually hanging in our guitar player’s entry way to his house. So that is a really cool memory we have of him.
CB: You have a lot of tattoos. Is there any special significance behind them?
Mike: I love Japanese work, when I was little I used to watch a TV show called Force 5 with giant robots, but many are just cover-ups for shitty tattoos that I got when I was younger.
CB: Any message to your fans?
Mike: Apparently we have the best fans in the world. We have had some tough times with Howard and having to make up shows with Phil from All that Remains. The fans still came out to support us. We needed it desperately and it was like a giant hug that our fans gave us. We are in a great spot and we have no one to thank but them for us being here.
Like A Storm began in 2005 when brothers, Chris, Kent, and Matt Brooks first played together in their native New Zealand. They almost immediately decided to move to North America to pursue a career in music. Their song “Enemy” is featured weekly on ESPN’s College Football and their song “Chemical Infatuation” was featured in USA’s hit Royal Pains.
The debut album, “The End of the Beginning,” was released in 2009 and they have been touring almost non-stop to support it over the past 6 months in the United States with rock giants Creed, Staind, Hoobastank, Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Skillet, Shinedown, and Burn Halo.
We sat down with Chris Brooks and Matt Brooks from Like A Storm after their set at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and what’s up next for the band.
CB: You guys are from New Zealand, one of my favorite places on earth. When you are touring, what do you miss the most about home?
LAS: Friends and family for sure and savory mince pies, a staple of boozy nights in New Zealand. To be given the chance to do this kind of makes it worthwhile. lf we stayed in NZ, we would never be able to tour and do this everyday.
CB: I saw you guys with Creed back in the fall. What was your craziest Creed tour story?
LAS: It was a nightly occurrence to some extent. We played a show in Tinley Park in Chicago and it was the the last show for Creed. We decided to go out for a few quiet drinks and it ended with some of the band at 4 in a morning at a piano bar with us all singing and making requests. It doesn’t get any more rock-n-roll than that. We had a show the next day and it was very rough. Everyone was limping in one at a time barely making it.
CB: If you could have one of your songs in Guitar Hero or Tap Tap what would it be?
LAS: “Chemical Infatuation” just came out in Rock Band this week actually. I’m not sure if I could play guitar hero. I would probably lose.
CB: Do you still live in Vancouver?
LAS: Yes, but we kind of live on the road now. We are nomads. Any time off we have we try to go back to Vancouver or New Zealand.
CB: What is up next for the band?
LAS: We are on tour until Mid-June and then we go back to Vancouver to make a video for our new single, “Into Me.” After that we head back out to tour to enjoy the rest of the summer.
LAS: We played with Helmet last night and it was great and a huge honor. They are such an influencial band. It doesn’t get better than that.
CB: Who would be your dream collaboration if you could work with anyone?%u2028LAS: It is hard to pick one but I would say, Matt Bellamy from MUSE. I had a dream the other night that I met him. I would love to bring back Jimmy Hendricks and jam with him even though he would shame me on guitar.
CB: I know you guys are family, brothers in the band? Does it ever get crazy? Do you ever have issues since you are all family and together all the time?
LAS: It makes it easier. You spend so much time together and even if they weren’t your family, you would still need time apart. We all have this bond to play this music that we love. It is pretty cool. I can’t believe we all ended up here. We all started in different bands so for the three of us to be playing here at ROTR with Deftones and Slash is amazing.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
LAS: Limp Bizkit, I love Wes Borlund. He is one of my all time favorite guitar players. I can’t wait to see him play. Also, Definitely, Deftones and Slash.
CB: Any message to the fans?
LAS: Thank you guys for all your suport and allowing us to do what we love to do more than anything else. We can’t wait to see you when we tour.
CB: We want you In Cincinnati.
CB: What is your favorite venue and city to play in?
LAS: The other night we played in Spokane for 1200 people at the Knitting Factory. This was one of our first headlining shows and it became my favorite place. We had played huge crowds with other bands, but this was our first big crowd as headliners.
Janus is a Hard Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. They were formed in 2004 and are signed to REALID/ILG Records. Their unique sound mixes heavy rock with non-traditional rock instruments, such as auxiliary percussion, and electronic sounds. Their album Red, Right, Return was released last year and is getting radio play across the country with their single “Eyesore.”
We caught up with David Scotney the lead singer for the band JANUS in the back of their van at ROTR after their set.
CB: One of the interesting things about your music is that you kind of have heavy metal music with non-rock arrangements. How do make the leap from the studio to the stage show and figure out how you are going to perform it?
David: We just tried to make the best record we possibly could. We have influences based on where we all came from individually. We took a look at radio and the industry in general and what is out there and tried to do something that sounded different. We wanted to get people thinking. It has made the road a little harder and slower for us.
We’ve seen a little hate on the road, like people saying “We’re here to see Five Finger Death Punch, why aren’t you screaming at me like Five Finger Death Punch.” But then you meet people who say, “You got me thinking a little bit.” It is good to see people open their mind. It doesn’t always have to be dumb down beer drinking rock-n-roll just because you are in a club. People respect the fact that there is a little bit of thought behind it.
CB: You guys are on the road constantly. When you are on the road what do you miss most about home?
David: Yes, we are literally in this van you are sitting in for 9 months a year. Family, 100% the one thing we all miss. The hardest part of being on the road is missing family. No matter how much you believe in what you are doing, what you want to say and getting your art out there. There is nothing that compares to the gravity of family as a person.
CB: What is your writing process?
David: It mostly comes down to Mike, our guitar player and myself. Mike is an amazing song writer. He comes up with ideas all the time. He understands all of the latest technology that comes out and is by far the smartest person in the band. He can track a demo with the latest technologies for percussion, bass, guitar, melodies, even vocals. He really is the heart of Janus.
CB: What is the hardest part about being on the road?
David: It is phenomenal how hard it is to get to a show to do 30 minutes of music. 90% of that time would be better spent writing new music for the next record. It is ridiculous how hard it is to drag yourself and your equipment all around the country to play the next show when all you want to do is play that show and write new music for the next record. It is disheartening to spend your time traveling and drowning in logistics. You are traveling constantly. The best part is writing the music, doing the show, and meeting the fans on the road.
CB: What is your funniest tour story?
David: Before we got signed, we went to NY to showcase for a terrible record label and we are so happy we didn’t sign with them. We were going to play at a dive bar. There was a guy in a white range rover who we evidently cut off even though we were in the middle of nowhere. He pulled in front of us and got out of his white range rover in his suit and got a baseball bat out like he was going to hit our car and kill us. All of us got out, like 20 of us and were like “Really man?” The guy quickly got back in his range rover, thought about his 401 K, and then drove off. It was really scary for a minute and then hilariously funny.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
David: Helmet. I love Helmet. They are one of my biggest influences ever. They create harmony and emotion in the silence between chords. We played in Phoenix with them two weeks ago. They were the nicest guys and the most down to earth people. Page Hamilton is one of the most amazing artists I have ever met and an inspiration.
Adelitas Way is a Hard Rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada that broke into mainstream in 2009 with their song "Invincible", which is the official theme song for WWE Superstars. The band was formed in 2005 in by lead vocalist Rick DeJesus, lead guitarist Chris Iorio and drummer Trevor Stafford. The second single off the Adelitas Way album, "Last Stand" was released on February 2, 2010 and they are currently on tour all summer to support their record.
I caught up with Rick DeJesus at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and discuss his writing process.
CB: Who are you most excited to see here today?
Rick: I was very excited to see Skillet today. I am also really excited to see our boys in Papa Roach and the Deftones.
CB: No exciting stories today?
Rick: I am the boring one of the bunch. I am the old married one in the group, so I don’t have too many exciting stories. The other guys probably have some by now.
CB: You have been out on the road constantly since the release of your album last year.
Rick: Yes we are out on the road with Puddle of Mudd right now.
CB: When you are on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Rick: I miss my wife and my dogs. I am from Las Vegas. I miss my city. I miss my house. I miss my favorite restaurants. I wouldn’t trade this for the world though. I love what I do and playing music on the road. I love playing in front of the amazing fans. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We have had a dream year. We have been out touring with Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, and Sick Puppies just to name a few. It has been a dream year.
CB: It seems like a fairy tale to live in Vegas.
Rick: Yes it is. I miss it. I love it. Best restaurants, Best clubs, Best people.
CB: What is your favorite place to play when you are touring?
Rick: I always love San Diego. It is beautiful there. I always love going back to Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee as well. Atlanta is always good. Touring you see so many amazing places.
CB: Are you originally from Vegas?
Rick: No I am from Philly. We never go back there haha.
CB: How long have you guys been together?
Rick: This group has been together for 2.5 years. I started doing this going on 6 years ago. I started this with me writing. Writing poems. Writing stuff.
CB: You guys have the young one, Chris in the band, correct?
Rick: No he is back in Vegas. The road is not made for everyone. Some people can live in a van. We drove in from Buffalo last night and played right away. We get no sleep. For some people the lifestyle catches up with them. We leave our family, our homes, our friends and you are out on the road in a different city every night. Some people when they get out here they realize it is not for them.
CB: If you could have a song on “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” what would it be?
Rick: Our new single “Last stand.” It has the guitar anthem. I like it and it is a good song.
CB: Where are you heading next?
Rick: North Dakota. We have a long drive but we are used to it. It is nothing new to us.
CB: How did you get started in music?
Rick: I always liked writing and loved music. When I was 18, I snuck into a bar and played a couple of my songs and the response was great. It started there and I never looked back.
CB: Was your family supportive?
Rick: Yes, they have always been supportive.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Rick: I would probably be working with my father working running his heating and cooling refrigeration company back in Philly.
CB: What is your writing process?
Rick: I am nuts. I come up with stuff all the time. I’ll be sitting over here mumbling and tapping away and the songs come together. I write from a lot of personal feelings, so how I am feeling ends up coming out in the songs.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Rick: We love you guys. We are out with Puddle of Mudd right now and Halestorm in July. Maybe a headliner tour in August, so come and check us out. We are working on a new album. Buy this one and buy the next one. Lzzy, “You are a Ninja!”
Check out Adelitas Way at www.adelitaswaymusic.net
Theory of a Deadman, often known as TOAD, is a Canadian Rock band from Delta, British Columbia, formed in 2001. The band is currently signed to Roadrunner Records as well as Island Records.
On April 1, 2008, Theory of a Deadman released their third album, Scars & Souvenirs, from which they released eight singles, "So Happy", "By the Way", "Little Smirk", "Bad Girlfriend", "All or Nothing", "Hate My Life", "Not Meant to Be" and "Wait for Me". “Bad Girlfriend” was a number one single for the band. The band is planning to take time off later this summer to work on a new album.
I talked to Tyler Connolly, lead singer for the band, backstage at Rock on the Range to discuss his advice column and some of his craziest tour stories.
CB: I know you have this column called Ask Tyler? Have you ever given advice that screwed somebody up?
Tyler: Not that I know of, but I hope so. There should be a disclaimer that says if you listened to Tyler and it ruined your life then it is your own fault.
CB: How did the column start?
Tyler: The record label started a promotion to “Tell Tyler about your bad girlfriend” as a contest and then it turned into me telling people what to do with their bad girlfriends and then me just giving advice on what to do with their lives. It is quite funny.
CB: Do you answer them all yourself?
Tyler: People don’t believe me, but I do answer every one of them
CB: I read that you visualize when your write songs. Can you walk me through your writing process?
Tyler: I’ve heard some lyrics from bands that are just terrible. Bad Girlfriend has bad lyrics but you can visualize it. I believe that the most important thing in a song is the lyrics. I think fans can tell when something is made up and just trying to rhyme with no meaning. When I write, I want people to be able to picture the lyrics in their head like a music video. It is important for people to get into the songs.
CB: You guys are from Canada and I know you recently played at the Olympics. What was your Olympic moment?
Tyler: Winning an Olympic gold metal for Luge. The curling team captain was a cougar and hot. The snowboard chicks were pretty hot as well. Playing the show was cool, people from all over the world waving their flags. That was very cool and fun.
CB: I know that you are married. What is your secret to a good marriage?
Tyler: I don’t have a good marriage. There is no secret. It is impossible to have a good marriage in a rock band.
CB: How do you turn bad girlfriend into a good marriage?
Tyler: You don’t. It’s tough and you just do what you can.
CB: Do you have any new music on the horizon?
Tyler: We’re working on new stuff right now. Fall/winter we are going back in the studio. We have canceled stuff after August to work on it.
CB: I saw you had been on tour with everyone including Motley Crue, Shinedown, etc. What is your craziest tour story?
Tyler: We watched Tommy Lee burn his hand off with fireworks, but that wasn’t that crazy. We had this one girl that came on our bus with a bullet hole painted on her forehead. One of our roadies was trying to sleep with her. She was on drugs and wouldn’t get off the bus. She thought I was a lawyer and tried to attack me on my bus. We had to have someone drag her off the bus and then she went and laid down under our bus and would not go away.
CB: So you now ban girls from the bus or just no bullet-hole girls?
Tyler: We ban girls on the bus. No girls on the bus. We have had a couple bad experiences and it is not worth it. No more people on the bus. All it takes is one girl to come on the bus and say something bad happened and we are screwed. The band is finished.
Shaman's Harvest is an Alternative Metal band from Jefferson City, Missouri. Their newest single from the album Shine entitled "Dragonfly" is currently making a large impact on radio across the country. Shaman's Harvest is comprised of Josh Hamler, guitarist, vocalist Nathan Hunt, guitarist Ryan Tomlinson, bassist Matt Fisher and drummer Craig Wingate.
We caught the band’s set at ROTR and it was one of the standout performances of the weekend. The crowd was packed at the Kicker Stage to see them and sang along to all their hits.
I spoke with the newest member of the band Ryan backstage after their set.
Ryan: That’s right I am pretty new to the band. I just get told when to get in the van.
CB: Is there any new guy hazing?
Ryan: They have been together 12 years. I joined the band a year ago. I actually turned 21 three months after I joined the band and I pretty much don’t remember much of this year, but I know it has been fun.
CB: What is your craziest tour story?
Ryan: A recent one, we were just in North Carolina and the Jagermeister was flowing freely. Apparently there are alligators in NC. Behind the bar we were playing, there is allegedly an alligator in a stream so with a little liquid courage, our lead singer decided to take a swim. He didn’t get bit and he made it out alive. Everything ended up ok, but it was crazy. The guys from Adelitas swore they saw it during the day.
CB: Back to the hazing, what is the worst thing they have done to you in the van?
Ryan: The van is a nasty place. I haven’t got hazed too much. I never get to drive. I like to drink and we all like to drink, so we get along fine.
CB: How did you meet them?
Ryan: In our hometown in Jefferson City. It is a pretty small town. I grew up playing the bass and blues. I made a pretty good name for myself. When I was 8 years old, they were just starting Shaman’s Harvest and I knew Josh through a friend. I didn’t even play guitar when they started. When they had a guitar opening they called me and I auditioned and made it in the band. I am loving it. It is kind of like “Rockstar” the movie.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Ryan: I worked for a cabinet shop for awhile and liked it. I would probably still be making cabinets for minimum wage.
CB: How has your life changed since you joined the band?
Ryan: Less money and being gone constantly. I have always been a homebody so now I am all over the country. It has been weird but fun.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Ryan: My family. I miss my family a lot because we are gone all the time. We are very close and every time I talk to my family we tell each other we love each other and the guys give me crap about it all the time.
Halestorm is a Hard Rock band from Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The group is currently signed with Atlantic Records. Halestorm has been actively writing and performing original music since 1998, when brother and sister, Arejay and Lzzy, were, respectively, 10 and 13 years old. Their debut album was released on April 28, 2009. The song "I Get Off" serves as the album's lead single and has gained heavy radio play. Their newest single is "It's Not You" and the music video for the song was released in late November 2009.
We caught the band’s entire set at Rock on the Range and they quickly won us over with Lzzy Hale, the ultimate rocker chick leading the way. I sat down for a quick interview with Arejay backstage before their set to talk about their current tour.
CB: Is this your first time at Rock on the Range?
Arejay: No, we were here last year and played the Jagermeister stage. This year we are on the Kicker Stage so we are working our way up the ladder. Maybe the next time we will get the main stage.
CB: When you are out on tour what do you miss the most about home?
Arejay: The funny thing about this band is that my sister is the lead singer Lzzy. Our parents tour with us. My Mom is our tour manager and our Dad is the bus driver/stage tech. We bring home on the road. The cool thing is that our home is our RV. When we go home to Pennsylvania, we actually sit in the RV and hang out because our house feels weird and like a hotel.
CB: What would be your dream collaboration?
Arejay: We just got to hang out with Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains is one of my favorite bands of all time. Another one would be Stone Temple Pilots. I also recently got to co-write with Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I met him and we became fast friends. We will be touring with them in the fall and it is going to be awesome.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Arejay: Thank you guys for letting us do what we do. We’ve had so many great times. We willl be in Dayton at McGuffy’s House of Rock in July, so come and check it out. Everyone in Cincinnati is always receptive and keeps coming out to our shows and we appreciate it so much. You guys are out of your minds. Keep Reading CityBeat!
CB: If you could get a song on Rockband or Guitar Hero, what would it be?
Arejay: “Dirty Work.” It is a rocker and everyone starts jumping in the crowd when we play it. You can play Tap Tap or Dance Dance Revolution with it as well. I would pick that one.
Airbourne is an Australian Hard Rock band originating from Warrnambool, Victoria, where they gained a steady following with their hard rock sound. A big part of Airbourne's growing success is the exposure they have gained in other media - most notably, video games. The band consists of Joel O'Keeffe - Lead vocals/Lead guitar, Ryan O'Keeffe –Drums, David Roads - Rhythm guitar,Backup vocals and Justin Street - Bass guitar. The band’s new album, No Guts, No Glory, was released in March 2010.
At Rock on the Range, this band would get the award for most onstage energy. Their lead singer surfed through the crowd while playing the guitar and actually kept playing while being lifted onto a roadie’s shoulders. It was insane and got the crowd excited to see what they would do next.
I sat down with Dave Roads at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s upcoming tours and their recent success.
CB: What was the reason behind the title No Guts, No Glory?
Dave: No Guts, No Glory was a title we always liked because it has a good ring to it. We felt it was good for the second album.
CB: You were just in Nashville. What was your favorite experience about playing there?
Dave: That day we were in Nashville, our bus driver took us to his father’s ranch in TN. He got out his shotguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons and we had a day of shooting which was really fun. I always love going to Nashville to play with the crowds there.
CB: What is your scariest tour memory?
Dave: Sometimes it can get a little bit hairy on the road at night time. Some of the roads can be dodgy while we are sleeping and can wake you up and scare you a bit.
CB: Who would be your personal dream to collaborate with?
Dave: Certain producers like Bob Rock would be great. We nearly worked with him on the second album but it fell through.
CB: How did you get hooked up with the video game industry?
Dave: Steve, who we have a good relationship with at EA games, discovered us as the music coordinator there. He was a fan of the band and really got us started. We are on Madden, the best selling game in the states, and about 10 or 11 other games. It is great for establishing the name Airbourne out there. I don’t play Guitar Hero. I think that if you play real guitar, you are not coordinated enough. The games are a great way to get young kids to hear our music and support rock-n-roll.
CB: I was talking to your tour manager about your energy and I was telling him that I was amazed that you guys did not pass out on stage in the heat. He said you guys are from Australia and that you are used to being hot. Is that true?
Dave: I don’t think you can ever be used to the heat. At home in Australia, we usually go inside an air conditioned pub and have a cold beer. We actually have had a lot of close encounters to passing out on the stage. It is mainly from being too hung over, dehydrated and rocking out. It can be dangerous.
CB: What is next for the band?
Dave: After this we are going back to the bus to have a cold beer. This month we are finishing touring with Bullet for my Valentine. We then head to the UK for the summer festivals. In August, we tour Canada and then we jump on the Uproar festival in the Fall back in the US.
CB: What are your favorite venues to play in the US?
Dave: I like the Fillmore venues. We played it in San Francisco and we are playing in Detroit soon. I am pretty diplomatic and like it all.
Puddle of Mudd is a rock band from Kansas City, Missouri. They achieved success on rock radio and some success in the mainstream, and their major-label debut Come Clean has sold over 5 million copies. To date the band has sold over 7 million albums, and have had a string of #1 mainstream rock singles in the United States. They have released 2 independent and 4 major albums, with their latest being Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate in December 2009.
I caught up with Paul Phillips, guitarist for the band, the week after Rock on the Range to discuss what is up next for the band.
CB: Did you have any crazy Rock on the Range stories from last week?
Paul: No not really. It was actually pretty tame. It was pretty much a regular show and uneventful.
CB: What is your craziest tour story ever?
Paul: We used to play London and for some strange reason Mr. Jimmy Page would always come out and stand on my side of the stage which was really weird. It was pretty heavy to look over and see him standing on the side and hanging out with us in the dressing room. I don’t know how it all happened and the first time he came out I had to leave the room. I couldn’t handle it. It was too intense.
CB: Did he ever play with you?
Paul: No he never played with us. I never asked and I couldn’t even talk to him because it was so crazy.
CB: You left the band for awhile and came back last year after a break. How has it been since you got back? Was it just like the old days?
Paul: It has been great and easy. A week after I came back we had our first show. It was a great show. We went back into writing and recording. Every one was getting along and the vibe was much better. The record was the easiest and the least stressful one that we have done. It was right back to the old days.
CB: You had a new record that came out last year. I know the title changed several times. Where did the name Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate come from?
Paul: We were sitting around on a day off and management was on the phone and said that we had to come up with a title now or the record wouldn’t come out. I knew that I wanted to do something with Love and Hate. They are two of the most powerful words in the English language. I think that in order to have one, you have to have the other even though they are opposite. Then "Volume 4" came because it was our fourth record. It really came together last minute.
CB: You had a connection to Fred Durst and he is the one who hooked you up with the band. Can you tell me the story of how that happened? Did you reconnect with him at Rock on the Range?
Paul: I am from Jacksonville, Florida as is Limp Bizkit and we used to play together at local clubs. When Limp Bizkit got signed, Fred actually came to me to sign my band at the time but it was dissolving. We kept in touch. When this opportunity came up he remembered me and flew me out to LA and I auditioned. I have been here ever since. We didn’t see him at Rock on the Range because we had to leave after our set on Saturday for a two day drive, but we played a show in Tampa a few weeks ago and I saw him there. He had a big family day since he is from Florida so we only talked for a little while. We had lost touch for awhile and it was good to catch up and see him again.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss most about home?
Paul: You miss friends and family. I miss my little doggy. You miss the comforts of home. I get into a routine that I cannot find on the road with different restaurants, different hotels every day. I miss the stability of being at home.
CB: Do you still live in Florida?
Paul: Yes, I still live in Jacksonville.
CB: One of my all time favorite POM songs is “She Hates Me.” Can you tell me the back-story?
Paul: The funny thing was when we were making our first record we used to play it. It was something that Wes came up with that we played at parties as a joke to make people laugh. We were playing it at the studio one day and our A&R guy said you have to put that on the record. We were like “No way!” I said, “I’ll agree to put it on the record as long as it is never a single.” Then it is was single and a hit that helped us sell millions of records. That shows what I know. I would have never had it on the record. I guess that is why I am a musician and not an A&R guy.
CB: I thought there may be a crazy girlfriend story there?
Paul: It was written as a joke. Obviously having love not returned your way. Pretty literal song I guess.
CB: Have you ever had any boyfriend or husband issues coming at you out on the road?
Paul: Yes and no. We are kind of setup with the proper security for those things. Sometimes people are crazy. They forget that they have husbands or boyfriends in the audience and they come and hang out backstage. We get word that a husband or boyfriend is looking for them. It is kind of weird and I always feel bad for the guy. I am like, “What is wrong with you?” People get crazy and lose their minds around rock bands. I don’t understand it. People are just people and it is not worth giving up your husband and boyfriend and doing something extremely crazy.
We all have girlfriends and wives now so our bus is pretty tame compared to the old days. We have to lock the doors on the bus because people will just walk onto the bus. They are crazy and just have to see inside. They don’t understand it is our home and you wouldn’t walk in someone’s house.
CB: What is up next for the band?
Paul: We have three weeks off coming up soon and I am excited about that. We’ve been touring and had only 3 days off the past 3 months. July 16th, we go on the Carnival of Madness tour with Shinedown, Sevendust and Chevelle. We will probably spend the remainder of year touring and then start working on the new record next year.
It’s funny that The Fray are called what they’re called, because they hardly ever leave any loose threads or ragged edges — whether on their perfectly-produced, radio-friendly songs or live in concert. The piano rock band is so harmless and clean-cut that they probably couldn’t hurt a fly if their lives depended on it.
It’s no surprise, then, that their concert at PNC Pavilion Monday night, opened by Richard Swift and alt-rock band Jack’s Mannequin, felt like a quintessentially American outdoor summer party: laid-back, pleasant and totally innocuous.