by Amy Harris
Rockers Papa Roach hit the scene in 2000 with their most successful studio album, Infest. Six
albums later, they are still headlining tours and festivals across the
country including this weekend’s Rock on the Range in Columbus.
I was able to catch up with the man behind the music,
Jacoby Shaddix, the lead vocalist. The two discussed the hard times and
redemption that led to Papa Roach's most recent album, The Connection, released late last year.
Papa Roach plays Rock on the Range's Main Stage Saturday
afternoon, getting the night ready for Three Days Grace, Stone Sour and
The Smashing Pumpkins. Find full Rock on the Range details here.
CityBeat: What is your favorite Rock on the Range memory?
Jacoby Shaddix: Shit man, coming in headlining the
second stage and utterly fucking demolishing it and being the only band
asked back the next year to play the Main Stage and crushing it again.
CB: If you could trade places with anybody for one month who would it be?
JS: My wife.
JS: I just want both of us to live our lives in
each other’s shoes for a month. I think we both would learn a lot. I
know that it is not the super mega-kick ass Rock star answer, but that
is some real shit.
CB: I know you wrote the last album through
some of the toughest times of your life. Are any of the songs hard to
play for you personally?
JS: No, they are just really good reminders. It is
like I had to re-calibrate my life and re-focus myself on what my
priorities were in my life and what was important to me and where I
wanted to put myself five years from now and 10 years from now. All the
decisions I made in the process of making this record I believe are some
of the most important decisions that I’ll make in my lifetime. I think
the songs are real good reminders of that desperate place that I once
CB: Well my favorite song on the album when it came out was “Where Did the Angels Go”…
JS: We had a No. 1 Rock track with that song, which was fucking awesome.
CB: Can you tell me the story behind the song?
JS: As we were making the record, me and my wife
had split up at that time and I was strung out again. It is no secret
that I have substance abuse issues and I was caught up again and I
finally decided that enough is enough. I had to stop and that just utter
desperation of hanging on to life by a thread and just feeling
completely alone and so broken and not really knowing if I was going to
be OK. I just finally realized how much my demons ate me alive and it
was time to get myself back and that is where that song came from, utter
CB: Is it hard to be on the road and stay sober?
JS: Not this time around. It used to be really
hard. I have a network of sober musicians I stay really close with and I
have a support group through that.
It is finally clear to me in my life I can’t fucking
drink, I can’t do drugs, because it eats me alive. I am finally on the
road enjoying my life. I faced a lot of demons in the process of getting
sober again and I finally put a lot of stuff to rest. I am trying to
work on being in the moment, like some of that Buddhist-type culture
philosophy — if I am not here now then what is the point? If I am not
feeling the moment, then what is the point of my life. Just focusing on
that, my spirituality makes all this other stuff that goes on out here
on the road way more tolerable and way more fun.
CB: Have you ever had an experience that led you to believe in angels?
JS: I don’t necessarily have a grasp on the idea of
angels. I have an understanding of people that have come like saviors
in a sense, people that have been sent to me by my higher power to show
me and guide me out of the darkness. I had to be broken down to realize I
CB: People have shown up at the right time?
CB: If you could ask one question to a psychic about your future what would you ask?
JS: I wouldn’t ask anything. I wouldn’t want to
know. What do you want to know? Are you going to live different or some
shit? I’d rather let it be. Let the future be what it is going to be.
CB: What does your perfect day look like?
JS: Perfect day — wake up next to my wife, sex
right off the bat. Then go downstairs and cook breakfast for my kids,
take them to school, go for a run, dance with my wife, go fishing with
my brother-in-law in the bayou swamp, stretch out and warm up, play a
Rock & Roll show, then fall asleep next to my wife. That sounds
pretty fucking kick ass.
CB: I know your songs that you write are very autobiographical. Have you considered writing a book or a memoir in the future?
JS: Oh definitely, that is something I am going to definitely do in my life. 100 percent.
CB: No immediate plans?
JS: No immediate plans, but I have put pen to paper. It is something that I can craft as I go along.
CB: What can the fans expect this weekend at Rock on the Range?
JS: A fan that is on fucking fire. We have been
doing these festivals, May is a big festival month, and we have been
fucking annihilating audiences. We just devastated Carolina Rebellion,
just ripped that shit up, we had a great show. Fort Rock in Florida,
Rockville down in Florida. Memphis in May was awesome at the Beale
Street Festival. That was rippin’. I just feel like we are tuned up and
primed for these big festivals. I have to say, all these other bands,
bring your fucking A-game because P Roach is coming to town and we have
come to rip it.
CB: Memphis was awesome. I saw most of the
set. It was awesome. It was great as always. I look forward to shooting
you guys again. Smile for the camera on Saturday.
JS: Fuck yeah. Cool. We will see you Saturday.
by Amy Harris
Dynamic, Maryland-based Rock band Clutch has been grinding
across the world for over 20 years. In that time, the band has seen
great success across 10 studio albums and has had songs featured across
different forms of media, from television to movies to video games.
Clutch is performing at Columbus, Ohio's Rock on the Range
fest as the final act on the Jagermeister Stage this Saturday at 5:45
p.m. CityBeat was able to get some time with Dan Maines, the
band’s bass player, to preview the show and talk about the longevity and
progression of an independent Rock band. Click here for full info on
this weekend's Rock on the Range.
CityBeat: What has been the highlight or best touring moment of the last year?
Dan Maines: Highlight? We had a really good show in
London last European run. We did a good show at the Coco. London is one
of those cities for us that has grown quite a bit. Just within the last
year the clubs we have played have doubled in size. The last show we
had there was probably around 1,500 people, but that was by far the
biggest headlining London show that we have had. We are getting ready to
go back there next month and we are going to be playing a different
club that has a capacity of about 2,300 people and it looks like that
show may sell out. We have been having some really good luck and some
great shows all over the place. It has been a really, really good year
for us touring.
CB: Do you feel the Rock scene is bigger in
Europe than it is here in the U.S.? Do you feel like the fans are more
engaged with Rock music today?
DM: I do feel like just your straight-ahead Rock &
Roll band is doing better nowadays than 10 years ago. I don’t really
have an explanation for it. We have been doing this for 20 years now and
we really haven’t changed the formula much, but, for whatever reason, the
past few years things have picked up for us and I think people are tired
of going to see a band they have heard on the radio and they like a
song and then they go to a show and the band never delivers. People are
tired of that mentality. They want to see good music. They want to see a
band that can pull off on stage what they put down on tape in a studio.
CB: It’s tough when you show up and it
doesn’t sound the same. It is fantastic when bands deliver live and I
think that is what really grows the audience over time.
CB: Your band has been together with same
lineup for over 20 years. It is like a marriage. What is the secret to
keeping the band together?
DM: I think we all have the same personalities.
There is not an ego with any band members and we all have similar goals (for) what this band is all about. We are not one of these bands that is
ever going to cater to other people’s expectations. We just do what we
want to do. We just write songs we want to write. We are a band that
really enjoys playing shows. We really enjoy going on the road and
touring. That is one thing that breaks down a lot of bands for the most
part. Touring is not an easy thing to do. You have to go for it. I have
seen a lot of good bands who just couldn’t stick together because of the
stresses of touring, which are overwhelming for one person or another.
We have always been eager to play as many shows as we can. Without that
mentality, we probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have. We
aren’t the kind of band that is surviving on a particular song we wrote
that gets played on the radio. We are a traveling band. I don’t really
have a secret recipe for keeping the band together. We are just very
fortunate to have been able to do it and we will continue to do what we
CB: Is it still fun for you to be on the road?
DM: It is still fun. Playing shows is easily more
enjoyable to us than being in a studio. Even when we are at home and
writing the material, that is always a good time, but you are eager to
play the material for an audience and that is what we exist to do.
CB: What makes you laugh the hardest when you are on the road?
DM: I don’t know, maybe seeing people who might be
seeing us for the first time and get caught up in the moment and try to
sing along with Neil without actually knowing the words. Sometimes it
can be as simple as what snacks our road manager decides to get for the
CB: Where do you think you will be in 15 more years?
DM: Hopefully doing the same thing and not really
paying attention to how many years have passed. Doing what we are doing
but on a larger scale and going to places we haven’t gone yet.
CB: Who knows where you will be going by then, maybe outer space.
DM: Hopefully it will be something more local, like South America.
CB: What is the name of the first band you were in?
DM: Oh, that’s embarrassing.
CB: Oh, I want to hear.
DM: I guess the first band was called Moral
Minority and that was myself with a couple other members of what became
Clutch, but that was the high school incarnation of my first band and it
was probably six or eight months later when Clutch was formed.
CB: Were your parents supportive?
DM: Always. They never really gave me a hard time
about it. They never really laid down a lot of expectations to whether
they wanted me to go in one direction or another, and they have always
been very supportive of the band. Obviously now, but even way back in
the beginning when we were traveling in a van getting stranded in
cities on the other side of the country and figuring out ways to get
back home. They never once said, “Maybe you should consider doing
something else,” and I really appreciated that.
CB: What bands are currently influencing you?
DM: I have been listening to a lot of Galactic
lately. You know what I have been listening to, I don’t know how recent
it is, but Public Enemy still makes records and it came as a surprise to
me that they are still doing it. What is more surprising is they are
still making great records.
CB: I photographed Public Enemy last Sunday.
Flavor Flav still jumped six feet in the air across the stage. It was
unbelievable. Not only are they making records, they are touring and
killing it. It was crazy. That is what everybody should aspire to do.
You guys have your own record label. What are the challenges
of releasing your own music?
DM: We have tried to keep the challenges down to a
minimum from the very beginning and just try to make it strictly an
outlet for Clutch music. Nowadays, it is not that difficult to take this
DIY approach to putting out music. Recording costs have come down a lot
and the overall costs of promoting and marketing a record have gone down
a lot because you have tools like the internet, where you can do so many
things for such a low amount of money that the actual costs of
producing a record, manufacturing and distributing it is not that high. It is just being in a position that we are luckily in where we have
relationships with people who kind of help fill in the blanks in areas
where we are not experts. It has worked out well for us over the last
five years, putting out a couple live CDs and two studio CDs. Who knows
what could happen in the future? It could come to a point where it goes
beyond the scope of Clutch. Right now it is just putting out Clutch
related material. We have also put out side projects for various members
of the band. We have John-Paul, who has been working with a band from
Sweden called King Hobo, and hopefully those guys will have something
that we can put out on the label. We have tried not to get overambitious
with the releases and taking it very slowly.
CB: What can the fans expect at Rock on the Range next weekend?
DM: Four bearded men playing Rock music. We will be playing a lot of material off The Earth Rocker. I
think on this tour we have been playing, on average, six songs out of
16 off the new record. We probably won’t be playing 16 songs at Rock on
the Range. We will probably have a shorter set, so it is harder to
predict what we will be playing. We are definitely going to be playing.
It will be a heavily Earth Rocker loaded set for sure, and some of the classics thrown in as well.
CB: You guys change your set list every show, right?
DM: We try to. We have this system. We actually
take turns writing the set list. Last night was Neil’s night, so tonight
would be Tim’s night. It is something we can do that keeps things less
monotonous and kind of keeps us on our toes and makes the sets more
enjoyable for us, which is going to be more enjoyable for everybody else
CB: If you could trade places with anybody for a month who would it be and why?
DM: That’s a tough one. Maybe George Porter Jr.,
the bass player (from New Orleans Funk legends, The Meters). He is a
huge influence on me and just definitely a hero. It would be nice to
spend some time in his brain and steal something.
CB: Do you play any other instruments?
DM: No, I barely play bass.
by Amy Harris
Halestorm shows everybody out there that a female can rock with the guys. Lzzy Hale, Revolver Magazine’s reining “Hottest Chick in Hard Rock,” along with her brother Arejay, started the band back in 1999 and they have been on an upward trajectory ever since. This past February, the band received its first Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song “Love Bites… (And So Do I),” which made history as the first song by a female-fronted group to top the Active Rock radio airplay chart. Halestorm has been headlining shows across the country in support of The Strange Case Of…, the band's second studio album. The group will be performing at this weekend’s Rock on the Range in Columbus on Saturday, playing the Main Stage alongside Papa Roach, Bullet For My Valentine, Three Days Grace, Stone Sour and The Smashing Pumpkins. Click here for full Rock on the Range info.CityBeat: A lot has happened since I saw you guys in the fall. My first question is … where are you keeping your Grammy?Lzzy Hale: You know what is funny — we actually don’t have them yet. It’s not quite real. We have been on the road so they have not been delivered yet. We have to sign a contract to make sure we aren’t going to do anything stupid with it. I have no idea where I am going to put it. My mom thinks it should be at her house. I’m like, “No, Mom, it comes with me.” CB: You could put in your bunk (on the bus). That’s where you live anyway.LH: Yeah. Very true.CB: I know you just collaborated with David Draiman (of Disturbed) on the classic Ozzy and Lita song “Close Your Eyes.” What was the best part of doing that for you?LH: It is such a cool thing. David Draiman has been such a champion of our band for the last couple years. He has been holding the Halestorm flag high. What a nice dude and always there for advice. He has sort of become this pseudo-big brother of mine the last couple years. It is kind of surreal, a little bit, because I know this guy, but after singing with him and doing this duet, I find myself talking to my little brother and saying, “Remember when The Sickness came out and we went out and got that record, and we knew every word on that record.” We were huge Disturbed fans when we were kids. We still are, I should say. It is such an amazing honor to be asked to do that and what an incredible lineup on the entire record. Being the new kid on the block as far as the guest vocals are concerned is quite humbling, honestly.CB: Were you nervous about re-recording that song?LH: A little bit. There is always something in the back of your mind when you are recording a classic like that. You don’t want to ruin it. I am such fan for Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne and that whole era of music is really close to my heart. I was only hoping that we could do it justice. It was really David who put my mind at ease with that because as soon as I heard what he was doing with (it), I realized it was special, really special. It is so weird, but when we were listening to the final mix of it, both David and I got goosebumps in the exact same spot of the song. We were like “Whoa! There is something about this song. We did something right.” I am happy we did it. I just sang it live with him for the first time at Carolina Rebellion. We are going to be doing it together again live. It’s truly magical. Not to sound cheesy, but it does hold a special place in my heart.CB: Can we look forward to that at Rock on the Range?LH: Oh, yes. Hell yes.CB: I have seen you guys many times at ROTR over the years. What is your favorite Rock on the Range moment?LH: Oh my God. The people that put that on are such nice people. We have been asked back for many years. The first time we were ever playing at Rock on the Range we were at the Jager Stage, then we were on the second stage, then last year we were first or second on the main stage. I am telling you this, to be a part of this event, I am speaking for myself and all of my peers, we look forward to this festival. Not only is it a hell of a lot fun to play, but we get to see each other. I get to see all of my friends perform that I never get to see because we are all out on the road. It is this huge family reunion and this party from like 9 a.m. to whenever people decide to go home. It’s so wonderful and it keeps getting better every year, like last year was the best ever for me, but then the year before that was the best. I look forward to this time because maybe it will top last year. It is such a well-run event and the highlight of festival season.CB: Are you going to be able to keep track of Arejay during the event?LH: Nobody can ever keep track of Arejay. Are you kidding me? The phrase “Where’s Arejay?” is the phrase of the millennium. It’s awesome. He is the most incredible human being because he will be standing next you and you will be talking to him, you (turn) around and you’re talking to somebody else and you turn back to where Arejay was once standing and, poof, he is gone. He is a little Houdini. I love him. He is legendary. I am sure there will be many stories about Arejay at Rock on the Range.CB: I saw recently you did an interview for a Playboy series online. Would you ever consider posing for the magazine if they asked you?LH: I haven’t really been asked that a lot. I was thinking about it the other day. I guess I would have to cross that bridge when I come to it. It depends what it is and what it is for and how tasteful it would be. I am not going to say no, but I would have to cross that bridge when I came to it. CB: I know you guys are recording a second Covers EP. Why did you guys decide to record a second covers record?LH: We just recorded a few months ago and are starting to get mixes back now. We love doing that stuff, just being able to re-create your favorite songs, break them down and build them up as your own. Regardless of how fun it is, you learn a lot as a musician, about how you work and you’re learning your favorite songs and how to rebuild them from the ground up in your own way and try to find a new way to approach the songs which is kind of a challenge. We had a lot of fun doing it. I don’t know when it is going to be released yet. It is probably going to be a couple months. When you see the final list of what we chose for this one, there will be probably some that you could predict and there are a few tracks you are going to look at the title of the song and the artist it’s by and you are going to go, “What? Why did they choose that song?” Then you can judge for yourself whether you like what we did. Either way it is going to be fun to see what everybody thinks about it.CB: Are there any habits you would like to break?LH: Yes, daily. My procrastination; I should practice more; I shouldn’t have had that cake at Josh’s birthday. I’m one of those people that does not care what everybody else thinks, but I do care a lot about how I feel about myself. I go through phases where I will have tunnel-vision and be determined and then I will be in the middle of tour and be like, “Screw it, I am going to finish this bottle of wine.” I think this time in my life I am starting to get my shit together and have more control over my vices. I am starting to exercise more and starting to be a little more responsible in my life, which is a battle, because I think I am perpetually 14 years old inside. I’m trying to be a grown up but still hold onto that fire.CB: I love the story you have behind the “Rock Show” song and how you got inspired by it. Could you talk about that a little bit?LH: Of course. To start that off, we got a lot of physical letters from fans, not the tweets and Facebook posts but a lot of handwritten letters — who does that anymore? — with a pencil. We get a lot of letters every day and it has increased in the past couple years. They are so incredibly inspiring. You get to see how you affect these people. You get to see and hear their stories. It is really, really humbling and really exciting for me because those stories start seeping their way into my subconscious. A lot of the new songs I have written have been for a specific fan or another because it is interesting to see what these people go through in daily life and relate it to your own. It makes me feel less alone to be a part of their lives and they have welcomed us with open arms into their private life. I respect the hell out of that because it takes a lot of guts to do that. Specifically for “Rock Show,” we received this letter. I don’t know how this little girl got the address to our studio, but she did. She wrote me this beautiful letter about her first Rock show, which happened to be Halestorm, and it was because of that show she picked up guitar and, long story short, she really shreds. She can play Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption.” It is really cool to see. She was like 13 years old at the time. It is beautiful, almost like that show was a religious experience. It changed the course of her life and she finally knows what she wants to do and is starting a band. I remember taking this letter into the studio and telling the guys we have to write a song for her. The title was called “Rock Show,” and we literally built this song around this letter we received and then we ended up thanking her in the notes as the next surprise so she will forever be in the artwork of our record because of that. It is wonderful to do that for those people, to give back, because it is a give and take. We wouldn’t be able to do what we love without these little girls and little boys and everybody that comes to our show. It is wonderful to be able to do small things like write a song for them or thank them.CB: What are the characteristics that make a great Halestorm song?LH: Lately, it has been more about honesty. What I never thought I would accomplish in this band, we kind of have in the last couple years. Halestorm is becoming the identity for some of these kids. It is something to stand for. It is something to look up to. I’ve been much more free to let more people into my life and trying to be a good example and be that shining beacon of empowerment for some of these people. I needed that when I was a kid. I looked up to a lot of my parent’s music because it was tough not to find anybody that wasn’t singing about death or “I hate my parents” when I was a kid. I remember needing that. I needed somebody that I could say, “I am going to be like that. If they can do it, so can I.” I think there definitely always has to be an element of empowerment in what we do, in the music we write, but then you have to pair that with the honesty that you are human and that we are all the same. You are encouraging people to take the risk and to carve out their own path and be themselves. It is all we have learned about diving right into this business. We have learned so much about ourselves and how to be comfortable in our own skin. If we can pass that along, that’s something we strive for.
by Amy Harris
Hard Rock band sets sights on this weekend's huge "Rock on the Range" fest in Columbus
Buckcherry has been epitomizing Hard Rock since the late ’90s. The band recently started touring behind its sixth studio album, Confessions, adding to a great and energy filled set-list, alongside crowd favorites and major hits “Crazy Bitch” and “Lit Up." CityBeat had a chance to speak with enigmatic Buckcherry singer Josh Todd in preparation for the band's set at Rock on the Range in Columbus this weekend (May 17-19). Buckcherry takes to the stage Friday night alongside Hollywood Undead, Cheap Trick and Korn. Click here for more Rock on the Range info.CityBeat: I have seen you at Rock on the Range many years. What is your favorite Rock on the Range moment from the past?Josh Todd: One year we were there performing “Lit Up” or “Crazy Bitch," I can’t remember, and a guy in a wheelchair started crowd surfing. That was a pretty memorable moment.CityBeat: You guys just came off a tour with Kid Rock recently, which is a great match. What was your craziest tour story?JT: Surprisingly, it was a pretty tame tour. We didn’t have too many backstage parties. The coolest thing we did, Bob — Kid Rock — invited Keith and I to his place in Alabama. We got to go and do some skeet shooting and eat some barbeque. I had a lot of deer meat which I hadn’t had in a long time, a lot of deer jerky. So that was a lot of fun.CB: I was just covering the Kid Rock cruise and he was singing “Crazy Bitch.” It was a cool moment, one of my favorite songs with him singing. JT: Yeah. I don’t know what to think of that. I’m flattered, you know, but it is kind of strange since we were on tour with him. I think it is cool because he loves the song. CB: I want to talk about the record a little bit. I know Confessions is loosely based on the seven deadly sins. Which sin do you think is the worst?JT: The worst or the most hard to manage?CB: Either is fine?JT: Probably lust, especially when you have been in a Rock band since you were 15 … it is something that comes up a lot.CB: I know “Sloth” was written about your experience with your Father’s suicide. Is it ever hard to perform that live?JT: I have never performed that live. We are working on it right now. We have six records. We have 80 some odd songs to really sift through. The songs we have performed off Confessions so far are “Wrath” “Gluttony” “Greed” “Air” and “Nothing Left but Tears.” We will get there eventually. I don’t think it will be hard for me because I just got a lot of great feedback from a lot of people who really connected to that song. That makes it a lot easier for me. It was real tough to record, but I think now it will be all right.CB: Are there any habits you would like to break?JT: Yeah. I struggle with sugar. So, yeah, not so much sugar.CB: I know your songs are very autobiographical. Is there anything you have regretted writing about in any of your 80 songs?JT: Since I write all the lyrics, it is kind of therapeutic for me to get out what is going on inside of me and somehow make it where a lot of people can relate to it. That is the challenge of the songwriter, to take a piece of your personal life and the lives around you and try to create a song where lots and lots of people can remember. That is the fun of it and also the challenge of it all.CB: What does your perfect day look like?JT: A perfect day would be to be home with my family. Just getting to spend time with them is a perfect day to me because I tour so much. To be home with my family is great.CB: Is there anybody you would like to trade places with for a month?JT: Yeah, I would like to be Kyle Busch for a day.CB: Oh, a race car. Do you have fast cars?JT: Yeah, I race fast go-carts. I have a race cart at home. I race that as much as I can. I did a NASCAR experience out here in Fontana and that was a lot of fun. I have always wanted to race an oval track race in a stock car. That would be amazing. CB: Can you tell us what the fans should expect from your set at Rock on the Range?JT: They can expect what we always deliver — their money’s worth.CB: Are you going to be performing any of the new album?JT: We will be performing “Gluttony” “Wrath” and “Nothing Left but Tears,” which is going to be the new single. Plus, we have to get to a lot of other songs. I don’t know how long our set is, but depending on how long our set is, we have been doing “Greed” recently and it is really great live now.
by Amy Harris
Metal giants headed to Columbus for Rock on the Range festival this weekend
Megadeth can be considered one of today's legendary bands, not just in Metal, but in all of music. They are synonymous with a time period, moments in the lives of so many of their fans. They may have a different look than when the band was formed in 1983 but they are one of the founding fathers and would definitely find themselves on the Mount Rushmore of American Metal and can still fill festival stadiums all over the world. Megadeth have been doing their thing for almost 30 years and show no signs of stopping. They had released their fittingly named 13th studio album TH1RT3EN last year before they came to Cincinnati. They will return to Ohio as one of the main acts at next week’s Rock on The Range.Over the past year, CityBeat spoke with band drummer Shawn Drover twice and lead guitarist Chris Broderick at Mayhem Festival about life on tour and what the future holds for the band. Megadeth's timeless sound continues on. Hear for yourself when the group performs on the Main Stage in Columbus Sunday night with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie for the Rock on the Range festival. CityBeat: I know you joined the band in 2008, right?Chris Broderick: Yeah, the very beginning.CB: What was it like the first time you played and jammed with Dave (Mustaine)?Chris: It was a little intimidating at first I think. But one of the things that really happened was we had to get to work so quickly. We had to get so much done so fast. CB: Because of the album and the tour right?Chris: Well yeah because of the tour at the time. I didn’t really have time to think about what was going on. I was just working. I was trying to knock out as many songs as I could before we went on tour less than a month away. That was my focus really.CB: You are a classically trained guitarist, right? Can you tell me, how do you think that prepared you for Megadeth and to play metal music?Chris: Well I don’t know if anything prepares you for Metal music or Megadeth. But I do think it does give me a different skill set, one where I can look at more melodies and harmonies and construction of those types of the aspects of the music and apply what I’ve learned in classical guitar theory or classical theory to the Metal genre.CB: That’s kind of what stood out to them, right, when they called you to join the band, because you did a lot of classically trained type work?Chris: It’s hard for me to say. I know it was an influence on their decision, but I know that it was a recommendation of Glen Drover and Shawn Drover that encouraged them to call me.CB: Good recommendations. They probably didn’t even have to ask.Chris: And then some of the YouTube clips that I had posted also.CB: I have been hearing so many bands that are picking people off YouTube. It’s really amazing, Cinderella type stories of people being picked up off YouTube videos.Chris: Well, it’s one of those things that is awesome in a way because it gives the individual the power of PR, somebody that can market you and get you to the right people to get you a gig or get you the right contact. So it is kind of cool that way.CB: What was your highlight from the Big 4 concerts?Chris: It was probably the last Big 4 show actually in the UK. That was pretty huge. We got to play on stage with some of the original members of Diamond Head. Honestly, they weren’t my biggest influence. They were a little bit before my time. But because I am playing with so many people that they heavily influenced, it was instant respect on my behalf and their behalf. It was quite awe-inspiring to see Hetfield (James) kind of bowing down before him when he went to do the solo. It was awesome.CB: What is it like on the road these days? Is it really clean living?Chris: Yeah. It almost has to be because we have so much going on. I couldn’t do all this press and all the meet and greets and stuff like that. It works out pretty well for me too because luckily I never acquired a taste for that kind of that thing. I guess I am too Type A. I always want to be in control.
by Amy Harris
Kentuckians headed to Columbus for Rock on the Range fest
Black Stone Cherry is a Kentucky-based band that combines its Southern roots with hints of Metal. Last time we spoke with the band, BSC had just released its third studio album, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, which the group continues to tour behind this summer. BSC have been featured on major tours with Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge and Nickelback and recently headlined a European tour.CityBeat was able to speak with the band’s rhythm guitar player Ben Wells to preview Black Stone Cherry's upcoming performance at Columbus' Rock on the Range, where they will be taking the Main Stage this Sunday.CityBeat: Last year, I spoke with Chris and he talked about how you guys love to go to Europe and how the fans embrace you in there. I know you just got off a European Tour. What was the highlight of that tour for you guys?Ben Wells: We did shows in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and 14 shows in the U.K. and every single one was sold out. It was a pretty big accomplishment since we have been over there several tours and this was the first time we had one as big as it was. We just felt really good about that and they gave us a tour plaque to hang on our walls. That was pretty neat.CB: Are there any bands you are looking forward to seeing at Rock on the Range this year?BW: I know we are looking forward to seeing Rob Zombie. We really enjoy his show and we are good friends with John 5, who plays guitar for them. I can’t remember who else is playing that day, but I am sure there are tons of bands that we are looking forward to seeing.CB: I think Marilyn Manson is that day too?BW: I’m not a huge fan of his but I do like Rob Zombie.CB: “In My Blood” is out right now and has blown up everywhere and the video has a story of a soldier coming home from war. Can you tell me the story behind “In My Blood”?BW: It was the last song we wrote for the album and pretty much it is a song we wrote about our lives and what we do. We leave things and people we love, go out on the road and do the things we love. Not only in our career do we do this but also military, professional athletes, fishermen, truck drivers, people like that every single day they have to leave their families. We wanted to write a song that kind of came from our perspective, kind of like our “Ramblin Man.” We made the video for it and thought it came across great. People really got the idea and the vibe of the song once they saw the video. CB: I know your family has ties to the Kentucky Headhunters. Have you guys thought about doing collaborations with them?BW: We have live before, nothing on CD yet. I wouldn’t say it’s completely out of the question but we have played several shows together. Usually when we do, one band ends up on the other band’s stage falling in together.CB: No formal plans?BW: Right, not yet anyway.CB: What are your summer touring plans?BW: We are out right now with Chickenfoot until June 10 and then we come home and we leave for Europe on June 20th for about three and a half weeks. Then we get back in the middle of July and are doing some US festivals. So really, staying busy, trying to hit as many shows as we can.CB: What has been the best part about being around Chickenfoot?BW: The tour actually starts tomorrow with them. We have been out for about five days now just doing some festivals and playing our own shows. We pick up with Chickenfoot tomorrow but we have heard great things. We have never played with them before but we are excited about it.CB: There have been a lot of changes at Roadrunner Records, your record label. I know the CEO and founder stepped down recently. Has the band seen any changes?BW: We haven’t personally yet because we haven’t been around everybody yet. I know we had some good friends lose their jobs. I hope the label knows what they are doing because they let go a lot of great people overseas and in America go, so we’ll see if they know what they are doing.CB: What would be your dream piece of gear to own if you could from any time in history? What piece of gear would you like to play?BW: Any guitar that Elvis Pressley owned would be fine with me.CB: I’m sure you could find one. I recently just saw one in New Orleans.BW: Yeah, but I can’t afford that though.CB: What has been your greatest rock star moment?BW: I really don’t know. We had some pretty cool moments playing some pretty big festivals in front of 60,000 people or more, getting to meet some of the guys in Aerosmith, getting to do some certain things. I’d say anytime that somebody comes up to tell us how much the bands means to them. That’s a pretty good feeling and is a pretty special moment because it really lets you know what you do is appreciated by someone.
by Amy Harris
Guitarist talks about his eclectic musical input and output
John 5 has seen almost everything in Rock music. He's toured with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie (with whom he's currently rockin') and been credited on songs from a wide range of artists — from Saliva to Salt n Pepa to k.d. lang to an upcoming collaboration with Rod Stewart. The guitarist has gained the reputation as a musical genius and one of the most action-packed guitarists in the world. He has just released his sixth solo album, God Told Me To, which mixes acoustic Spanish guitar along with Metal riffs.CityBeat caught up with the guitar player to talk about the new album and some of the darker aspects of what goes into his writing, as well as the lighter aspects help put him to sleep every night. John 5 will take the stage with headliner Rob Zombie this Sunday at Rock on the Range in Columbus.CityBeat: Can you tell us about the name of your album, God Told Me To?John 5: The name, it is funny because … I am from Michigan, I am from Grosse Pointe. I was upper class growing up there. I was brought up in a really nice environment and home and I remember the night before I was leaving for California to really give it my shot saying, “I am going to try this. I am going to try to be this musician type of thing.” I remember I was saying my little prayer. I never wished to be a “rock star.” I just wanted to be a working musician. My dreams didn’t even go past a session player or a working musician. It was too far beyond my dreams. That’s kind of what the title means, that kind of thing, but also you can look at in the negative way, like when someone does a horrific murder, they always say, “Oh, God told me to.”CB: I have read a lot of discussion in your recent interviews about serial killers and even the song “Night Stalker” being written about Richard Ramirez. Do you have an interest in serial killers and the history and stories behind them?J5: I think it is interesting to me about how the mind works and how someone is wired, how their mind works, how it is completely OK to do these things, which I could never even think of doing something like that. It was always so interesting to read about this or watch documentaries. It is so odd for something like that to happen, so I have always had this little fascination with it — not that I am pro-for that kind of thing or anything but it is just very interesting to see something like that.CB: I got a copy of the album and have been listening to it today. I love the acoustic Spanish-style versions on some of the songs. I know you are a lifelong learner. Did you take specific lessons around Flamenco or Spanish-style guitar lessons?J5: Yes, I have always tried to learn, it is what keeps me sane. I love to learn and I started doing a lot of studying of Spanish-style music and really started getting into it and how it is just a completely different form of guitar playing. It is just like if you started speaking in a different language like Japanese or something. It is something that you have to study and work at a lot. That is what I enjoy because I love the guitar so much. Yes, I did a lot of studying and research on that.CB: What current music is inspiring me right now?J5: What current music is inspiring? You know what, and this will be a surprise, but I usually am very honest. I have had a little epiphany and this is very shocking. I was watching some movie or something like that and a N.W.A. song was on and I am no fan of Rap music, I really am not because I like the guitar. So I heard this N.W.A. song, I think it was “Gangsta Gangsta,” and I was like, “This is really, really, really good.” It was eye-opening to me and I appreciate it now. I was pretty taken back by it. I would have to say N.W.A. (is a current inspiration), which I can’t believe I am saying but it is the truth.CB: There are a lot of bands right now collaborating outside their genres. Korn has collaborated with Skrillex and trying to create a lot of different sounds which would traditionally maybe not be in Metal music.J5: Sure, and I think it is very important for that to happen because of the fact music has to always evolve and if it doesn’t, it has failed. It is good that it is evolving.
by Amy Harris
Danish metallers headed to Columbus' Rock on the Range this weekend
Since the last time we saw Volbeat in Cincinnati, the band has blown up in the U.S. thanks in part to its tour with Megadeth and Motorhead. Volbeat is a first-class Danish Metal band that is taking North America by storm, playing coast to coast. The band has been touring the album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven for a couple years and are set for another run this summer.CityBeat recently spoke with band drummer Jon Larsen about Volbeat's evolution over the short period of time since they were last seen in Ohio. Volbeat takes the stage at Rock on the Range in Columbus this weekend along with the rest of the best acts in Metal and Rock music.CityBeat: I know you guys just got off the Gigantour Tour. Did you have any crazy Motorhead or Megadeth stories along the way?Jon Larsen: No, not really actually, not really any interesting stories to tell. We got along fine with both camps and everybody was in high spirits. I think it was definitely a great tour for all.CB: Rock on the Range is always a crazy time in Columbus. What are you looking forward to about the show and are you looking forward to seeing any other bands there?JL: Oh yeah, I am always looking forward to seeing Anthrax. We like to hang out with those guys. We have hung out with them a few times. We don’t know (Rob) Zombie or (Marilyn) Manson, but Anthrax is gonna be cool.CB: Growing up, what were your biggest musical influences?JL: We had tons of influences, everything from Social Distortion to The Misfits to Metallica to, say, Johnny Cash, everything. That is why we do what we do. We blend all of our influences together and that is what has become us.CB: What do you do on your down time on the road?JL: It depends on where we are. Yesterday and today we have been in Memphis, so of course we all went to Graceland and saw that. What else? I guess the usual things, relax, watch movies, go to the mall, restaurants, usual stuff, nothing fancy.CB: Did you say you went to Graceland yesterday?JL: Yes we did.CB: Is that the first time?JL: For me it was; Michael has been there three times before. For me it was my first time and it was definitely interesting to see where Elvis had lived.CB: Were you an Elvis fan?JL: I like him. I won’t say that I am a fan like Michael is, but of course I like the music that Elvis did. It was cool.CB: I talked to Michael last summer, the last time you guys came through Cincinnati at Bogart's, and I talked to him about a few of the songs. But since that time, “A Warrior’s Call” has really taken off and has become a sports anthem. Can you tell me a little of the backstory behind that song?JL: It was written for a Danish boxing champ Mikkel Kessler. Michael had gotten to know him and they had become good friends and one day they were joking around because we found out Kessler had used one of our previous songs as his walk-on music and Michael had said, “Why don’t you get some real music, a real song?” and he said “Why don’t you write me a song?” and he said “OK, I can do that.” So that is the story behind “A Warrior’s Call” — it was written specifically for Kessler but it seems like especially in America everyone from hockey teams to weddings are using that song for lots of stuff which is kind of fun in a way.CB: You guys were just kicking off your North American tour the last time we spoke in Cincinnati. What was the highlight of your tour through North America in the past year?JL: That is difficult to say, actually. I don’t know. We played two nights in Anaheim, Calif., which both sold out. We played in New York, which has always been great. We have done some shows at a place called the Machine Shop in Michigan which is always a great laugh. Those are some of the highlights; I can’t point out anything in particular.CB: Are you guys going to go back to Europe for summer festivals there?JL: We are going to do one festival in Europe this summer which will be in Germany. That is the only European festival that we are going to be doing this year.CB: Are you working on new music at all on the road?JL: Yeah, before we went back on the road for this one, we had spent a lot of time rehearsing trying to come up with some new stuff. A lot of bits and pieces, a few half-finished songs here and there, but nothing that is that finished yet. But we are definitely working on getting into the studio late this year and have a new album out some time next year.CB: What can you tell the fans to look forward to at Rock on the Range?JL: Well, good music, a few good laughs, a few bad jokes. I guess that’s it. Hopefully a lot of positive energy.
by Amy Harris
Hard rockers to perform at Ohio's Rock on the Range festival this weekend
Five Finger Death Punch will be one of the headlining acts of Rock on the Range, one of the nation’s biggest Hard Rock and Metal festivals that takes place in Columbus this weekend. FFDP has become known for its “active” show, encouraging crowd participation that can get on the edge of out-of-hand at times. The band released its third studio album last year, American Capitalist, which quickly shot to the top of all Rock and Metal charts.CityBeat caught up with drummer Jeremy Spencer to preview next week’s Rock on the Range and discuss the grueling nature of the industry (especially as a drummer) and the advice that has driven him to be in the position of leading the rhythm and timing of Five Finger Death Punch. FFDP performs Saturday night on the main RotR stage in Columbus.CityBeat: I was excited to talk to you because I know you just won the Golden God award for Best Drummer. How was that experience for you?Jeremy Spencer: It was really great because I am a fan of all those drummers in the category and to be put in the same category was humbling already, and then to win, it was “Wow, this is really cool.” We couldn’t be at the show because we were out on tour. I got a call saying, “You know he won and if you could put together a video for the acceptance that would great.” So I made this really ridiculous acceptance speech video where I dressed up as redneck fans mocking me giving a speech, so I did a multi-character video for winning the award and it was really funny. It is all over the internet in case you get a chance to see it. Everyone got a kick out of it, but overall it was a really humbling experience and really cool.CB: You guys just made another trip to Kuwait as well. I know it is really important to the band to support the troops. What was your most memorable experience this time around?JS: We got to hang out with the troops a lot during the day and talk to people and we do extensive signings for them. The shows were pretty crazy. They don’t get a lot of entertainment over there so they are really excited when we get to come and play. And it is exciting for us too because they are such huge supporters of the band so it is the least we can do to give back to them because they sacrifice so much to be away from their families. It was very cool. The only thing that wasn’t cool is that there is an 18-hour plane flight to and from Kuwait. That is the only brutal part but the rest of it was incredible.CB: I actually did see some of the YouTube videos from the shows over there that were posted and they looked like they were crazy with the crowd surfing and the moshing and they really go into it.JS: They really do. They get after it. It’s insane, like I said it is all pent up energy so they really get after it.CB: I have listened to the album since it came out but in a lot of the recent songs there is serious hardcore drumming action. How do you stay in shape and how do you condition for that kind of hitting?JS: I do a lot of stretching. That is the thing I didn’t do much growing up but now as I am getting older I have realized that stretching is vital. It is almost like doing yoga really. I use hard foam rollers to roll out my muscles and get the knots out. Stretching is key; any drummers that are doing this I would recommend doing that starting as young as you can. I also don’t party anymore. I try to take care of myself. I try to eat things that are relatively healthy. So that is pretty much what I do.CB: I think that is a misconception for a lot of people. I talk to a lot of bands from a lot of different genres and I think people think the road is a continuous party and for some bands it is, but for a lot of bands it is about having a healthy lifestyle because it is so grueling.JS: It really is. We are kind of like athletes. We have to get up there and perform for 75 minutes sometimes or 90 minutes and it takes a toll on you physically. We are not playing Pop music. It is pretty aggressive. It is physically demanding. When we started out, we definitely participated in that party lifestyle. I am one to try it, but if you are going to be successful and have a long career then you can’t get wrapped up in that stuff. Rarely does it work so I figured it was time to treat this like a job. It is a job but it is a great job. CB: Let’s talk about Rock on the Range. I have seen you play there before a couple years ago. It is always a good time. Is there anything that you are looking forward to specifically around that show?JS: Last time, we had one of the biggest crowd surfing experiences that Rock on the Range had ever experienced and it is well documented on YouTube. So we will see how crazy the fans can get there this time. We certainly enjoy it. Every time we play there, it has been great. And you know, all the other great bands, and hanging out with our friends, it has always been a positive experience and I look forward to getting back there and doing it again this year.CB: I was there last time. I am a photographer so I am always down in front for the beginning parts so it is always a little sketchy with the crowd surfing for us. JS: Absolutely, you might want to wear a helmet or something.