CONTENTS: WELCOME...INSIDE THIS MONTH’S MAGAZINE
P15 | IN FOCUS: Owl City
P30 | UNCOVERED: Tommy Lee
P59 | THE LOWDOWN: Zach Myers of Shinedown
05 | Spotifried Issue #1 06 | The Lowdown: Kirk Windstein of Down 08 | Introducing: The Shaws 12 | The Altsounds Magazine: An interview with the editor 15 | In Focus: Owl City 30 | Uncovered: Tommy Lee 37 | Sonisphere Festival 2010 42 | New Low For Music 43 | Do You Remember 1962? 44 | In Focus: Feeder 46 | The Lowdown: Per Wilberg of Opeth 49 | The Lowdown: Chad Gray of HellYeah / Mudvayne 57 | Introducing: Bleed Electric 59 | The Lowdown: Zach Myers of Shinedown 63 | DIY Issue #1: Starting a Band 66 | Staff Showcase: Scott Eisen 67 | The Lowdown: Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate 71 | Packing Heat: The Kickdrums 73 | Close-up: Avenged Sevenfold 77 | File-O-Facts: Gabe Cavazos of American Fangs 78 | The Top 10, Top 10 Lists Of All Time: Songs To Get Angry To 80 | In All Seriousness: Music and Hearing Loss
13 | Eli “Paperboy” Reed: Come and Get it 20 | The Big Chill Festival 21 | The Brains: Zombie Nation 22 | Tobacco: Maniac Meat 23 | Periphery: Periphery 25 | Underoath: Ø 26 | Bonobo: Stay The Same 26 | Hillstomp: Darker The Night 27 | Mount Kimbie: Crooks and Lovers 27 | Matt Skiba: Demos 28 | Kylie: Aphrodite 28 | The Qemists: Hurt Less 51 | Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno: Dog With a Rope 51 | Dead To Me: Wait For It 52 | Muckafurgason: The Pink Album 53 | Methods of Mayhem: A Public Disservice Announcement 55 | A Plea For Purging: The Marriage Between Heaven and Hell 55 | Max Raptor: The Great And The Good 56 | Dead Young Records: Dead Young Club Volume II 75 | Opinionated: Singles Club - 5 singles, 4 reviewers 79 | Something Corporate: Live in Boston
10 | Blue Bottle Tube Micro phone System w/B6 Capsule 18 | TC Electronic Nova Drive NDR-1 35 | Propellerhead Reason 5.0 / Record 1.5 Bundle 58 | TC Helicon VoiceTone Synth
1, 11, 17, 33, 36, 39, 45, 47, 54, 61, 65 | Art Showcase by Chris “MUG5” Maguire (helloiamchris.com) 4
* Colour highlighted items are my personal favourite articles this issue
This has been a long time in the making, Issue 1 of the AltSounds magazine is finally here and what a behemoth of an issue it is. One that I feel we will struggle to ever top. There is something satisfying about the AltSounds magazine finally dropping and the achievements made by every single contributor to this magazine that worked so hard to make this happen. I want to take this opportunity to say a personal thank you to everyone involved as it is truly amazing what we have all achieved through blood, sweat, tears and musical passion alone. Sit back, relax and enjoy Issue 1 of AltSounds! Chris “MUG5” Maguire, Editor email@example.com
Spotifried:: Issue #1 Before you move on, follow the link below and listen to the soundtrack to Issue #1 of the magazine on Spotified as you read! TRACKS FEATURED THIS ISSUE OF SPOTIFRIED: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Mystery Jets - Serotonin (03:25) Crocodiles - Sleep Forever (04:09) HELLYEAH - Alcohaulin’ Ass (03:54) Eminem - The Way I Am (04:51) Marilyn Manson - The Fight Song (02:58) Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (04:09) Kelis - Caught Out There (04:52) The Who - My Generation - Original Mono Version (03:18) Slipknot - Duality (04:13) Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name (05:14) Something Corporate - I Woke Up In A Car (04:14) Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (04:02) Ray Charles - I’ve Got A Woman - Single/LP Version (02:53) Nirvana - Drain You (03:44) Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed - Come And Get It (03:32)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Owl City - Fireflies (03:48) Periphery - Icarus Lives (04:24) Mount Kimbie - Serged (03:32) Matt Skiba - S.O.S. (02:50) Kylie Minogue - Get Outta My Way (03:39) The Qemists - Hurt Less (05:12) Methods of Mayhem - Drunk Uncle Pete (02:47) Delain - April Rain (04:37) Turisas - Rasputin (03:54) Europe - The Final Countdown (05:10) Gary Numan - Cars (03:55) Alice Cooper - Poison (04:31) Sabaton - Ghost Division (03:53) Lacuna Coil - Our Truth (04:03) Family Force 5 - I Love You To Death (Album Version) (02:45) Anthrax - Caught In A Mosh (05:00) Apocalyptica - Nothing Else Matters - Instrumental Version (04:45)
Rammstein - Stripped (04:44)
CKY - 96 Quite Bitter Beings (03:22) Madina Lake - Never Take Us Alive (03:00) Slayer - Raining Blood (04:13) Skindred - Nobody (03:56) Alice In Chains - Man In The Box (04:47) Pendulum - Watercolour (05:05) Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills (03:54) Chubby Checker - Let’s Twist Again (02:19) Feeder - Renegades (03:38) Opeth - Windowpane (07:44) Thom Yorke - Black Swan (04:49) M.I.A. - Paper Planes (04:02) Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy (05:12) The Brains - We Gotta Go (03:16) Tobacco - Braided Cellophane (02:20) Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (04:04) Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno - Dog With A Rope (03:14) Muckafurgason - Spanish Fly (03:59) A Plea for Purging - The Fall (03:45) Max Raptor - The Great And The Good (03:10) Bleed Electric - So Sick (04:08) Shinedown - Call Me (03:42) Escape The Fate - Ashley (03:27) The Kickdrums - Fading In And Out Original Mix (07:18) Stone Sour - Say You’ll Haunt Me (04:24) Them:Youth - Fever Rising (03:11) Korn - Oildale [Leave Me Alone] - Explicit (04:43) Rise Against - Hero Of War (04:13) Die Antwoord - Enter The Ninja (05:06) Jacques Labouchere - 2nd Long Street (02:41) Hillstomp - Banjo Song #1 (03:17) Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North (05:13)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
(Choices in bold highlight my personal recommendations)
own are one of those so called ‘Supergroups’ that lazy journo’s love so much, consisting of members from Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity and Pantera. But the band is more than the sum of its parts. Over the space of three albums the band has forged a murky, sludgy, down tuned path of southern fried riffs and guttural, soulful vocals proving that not all bands made up of members from other, more high profile acts are made out of pure vanity and rockstar boredom.
How do you feel about being asked to play the first ever High Voltage Festival? Really good, especially for a band like us. I know we’re playing the Metal Hammer stage but most of the bands here like Heaven & Hell, ZZ Top, UFO, and Wishbone Ash I grew up with so it’s kinda cool to play with other types of bands that are hard rock with a metal edge. We usually get lumped in with metal bands probably due to our other bands like Pantera and Crowbar so its kinda nice to play with guys I really grew up listening to instead of playing with 20 death metal bands or something. Nothing against those guys, some of them are good friends, but Down has nothing really in common with them.
I was lucky enough to catch up with lead guitarist Kirk Windstein at the High Voltage festival in London to discuss Down, touring with AC/DC, Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow and the future.
Feeling a bit starstruck this weekend then? Yeah, a little. Well Heaven & Hell we toured with so still kinda starstruck but it’s cool. Bumped into Glenn Hughes and Billy Gibbons at the hotel and basically had lunch with them. It was kinda trippy eating a shrimp cocktail with Billy Gibbons and Glenn Hughes sitting next to me.
Hey man, How’s it going? Busy man, I’ve been on a mad schedule lately between Down and Crowbar. You’ve just completed the new Crowbar album haven’t you? No, its written but I can’t find time to do it. I just got back from 26 days in Europe and right before that we did a show in Switzerland and Down supported AC/DC in Romania, before that I did a tour with Sepultura and Crowbar. Now I get to go home and have 10 days off before starting rehearsals with Kingdom of Sorrow to do Ozzfest.
Why did you decide on this as your only UK show of this year? The pay’s good [laughs], probably because of the other bands on the bill and us feeling like we don’t like being pigeonholed as a metal band as that’s not all we have to offer. We’re much more influenced by seventies bands and, so many of the bands playing I grew up with, so I was pleased we got to do it and it’s a nice change of pace for us.
The Kingdom of Sorrow is already out, that’s been out about a month now. Yeah, that’s already out. Its just trying to get time for the Crowbar one, and, like I say it is written. It’s been so long its like if it comes out in January instead of November its no big deal.
What kind of set are people going to get from Down this weekend? A little bit of everything, I think we are opening with ‘Eyes of the South’ so that will be cool, usually when we do a festival it’s a lot different to the evening with Down stuff we do, we have to play a shorter set and Phil likes to keep things rolling. Because it’s a festival there are a lot of things we do in a venue with lights and ambient songs like ‘No Return’ and ‘Jail’ that we don’t do here because it doesn’t really fit out in the burning sun. All these weird trip out weed smoking songs don’t really go over well at a festival, so we do more of the hard stuff to try and keep it tight.
How are you feeling about being back here in the UK? Its cool, I’ve been here a lot and everything’s in English so you can pick up a magazine or watch TV or whatever. I’m definitely looking forward to the show today.
The Lowdown: Kirk Windstein of Down “It was kinda trippy eating a shrimp cocktail with Bobby Gibbons and Glenn Hughes sitting next to me” 6
You guys are also working on a new album right now as well right? Right. Before we came out we did 3 new tracks, so its cool. I’m looking forward to getting back and finishing the Crowbar record and getting into writing for the new Down album.
...we could never top that because Dime was a genius when it came to stuff like that.
We made more of a seventies style rock & roll kind of movie like the ones I grew up watching, a lot more along the lines of ‘The Song Remains the Same’ by Led Zeppelin or ‘Let There be Rock’ by AC/DC. It’s a movie.
There were a few legal reasons that have held up the DVD’s release. Have they been resolved now? It had better be (laughs). The way we look at it now is that we’re not downing it, no pun intended, but we’re so much better than that now, because when we got back together Phil had only just gotten over back surgery, but it’s a very good representation of where we were at then and it’s a good rock & roll movie regardless.
Do you have an idea on the turnaround for the new Down album? Actually I can’t speak of that, not for legal reasons or anything like that (laughs) we have a crazy ace up our sleeve if you will as to what’s going on release wise, its something really different and I cant elaborate any further. Down are a band that’s get better with each release. Did you ever imagine the band would be around this long or get to this level when you put it together back in 1991? In a way we did. We always spoke about Down when we’d be together at a barbecue or something like watching a Saints game and drinking beers, or whatever. We’d always get to talking about Down and, even if we might have had a couple of years where we actually did nothing, we were like how much longer can we do this, everyone’s falling apart, Phil’s got fucking rods in his back and just got his knee operated on, my shoulders are shot.
When are we going to see Down back in the UK after this. What has next year got in store for you guys? Not sure really, we’re just writing right now and that’s our main priority you know, writing the material and getting it out because its been long enough and we aren’t getting any younger (laughs) I must admit I’m looking forward to hearing some new Down material, its been 3 years since the last album. Which for us isn’t even that long.
Rex just had surgery as well didn’t he? Yeah Rex just had surgery, which was more of a drinking thing.
It’s probably your shortest time between releases. It is, because we’re doing select festivals here and there. We’re doing one in Spain next Sunday and then we have one in Switzerland, we supported AC/ DC in Romania which was a dream come true. 50,000 capacity and we’re opening for AC/DC! It was sold out and was a very cool experience.
Pretty much a “cut out the drink or you’ll be fucked kind of thing….”? Exactly. I spoke to Zakk (Wylde) yesterday and Zakk kind of beat Rex to the punch in the sense that the doctor told him to stop and he stopped, the doctor told Rex to stop and he didn’t stop. You can get burnt out on it man.
Funny thing was their guitar tech told us that the eagle ramp they use was for Angus and Brian only so the first thing we opened up with, (I can’t remember what it was) I turn around and Phil’s 50 feet out on the ramp, I’m looking at the guitar tech like ‘I guess Phil didn’t get the text or whatever’ (laughs). So at the end, me and Pepper were like “what are they gonna do? Throw us off the tour?” Its only one show man so we were way the fuck out there rocking out to ‘Bury me in Smoke.’
You guys also have a DVD coming out called ‘Diary of a mad band’ what can we expect from it? It’s basically our 2006 reunion tour in chronological order, when we decided to put the band back together and make it a proper band. It starts in Hamburg, Germany which is the first show, then through to Download, which wasn’t actually the last show because we also did one in Ireland but other than that its in chronological order, it’s one song from each of those shows. Its not like a Pantera behind the scenes with everybody cutting up and drinking, titties everywhere kinda thing because we could never top that because Dime was a genius when it came to stuff like.
Fucking awesome man! Yeah afterward they were pretty cool about it, but yeah we need to get back into the writing process again man for sure.
Well we’re all looking forward to it. Thank you very much for your time Kirk its been a pleasure. You’re welcome man.
Introducing: The Shaws At the moment we’re finishing recording our first EP with Chris “MUG5” Maguire at Screamadelica Studios so we have had to keep any gigs we play close to home. We have started putting plans in place to do a tour next year, although we haven’t planned exactly where we will visit yet. So if you want to see us in your town give us a shout! It will be my first time properly on the road touring which I cant wait to experiWhere are you guys all based and what does each of you do in ence! I know the others are hyped for it aswell. the band (list is in order on the photo)? We are all currently based in Pembrokeshire, South Wales close to a Where do you all hope to be in 5 years time? tourist town called Tenby where the population more than doubles eve- God man, I really don’t know. I never thought I’d be in a band that’s for ry summer! It was a big influence when I was writing one of our songs sure! A year and a half ago I first picked up a guitar and it kind of went “Beach Love”. from there. What I have learned is that time flies the minute you start enjoying things. The way I see it, as long as we’re making music and Jack on the left plays lead guitar and does backing vocals; when he is not having a laugh I’m just going to take each day as it comes. I really don’t playing guitar he is either surfing or off travelling in a different country want to jinx us so I’m going to keep my lips zipped. I just hope we’ll be somewhere! Ashley is our drummer; he literally lives and breathes drum- making everyone back home proud! ming. In his spare time he teaches drums and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard him lose time...ever. I’m the singer and guitarist and started What bands are you currently listening to and can you recplaying about a year ago; I just live for jamming. Finally, on the right is ommend some to our readers? Elliot; he plays bass and does backing vocals. He’s also a slick rick on gui- I was really enjoying Bon Iver, but I think they’ve given me some sort tar aswell, but he was too late when it came to shot gunning lead guitar! of depression or anxiety so I’ve cut down on them. The guy just bought me to tears sometimes, and the story behind the album is so intense. Describe your music. What and who do you sound like? Never mix them with alcohol, it’s lethal! I cant wait to hear something I don’t know man, we try to mix it up. My more mainstream influence’s new from Justice as those guys are the future! I know Jack’s a huge fan with the other members eclectic tastes seems to be going down pretty of Red Hot Chilli’s, Natty and Xavier Rudd, and Elliot and Ash will be well. I’m really feeling Elliot’s basslines, listening to the unmixed versions glad I name dropped Intensive Square. They love that kind of thing. of our EP (coming out soon). Oh and who do we sound like?...Well! It’s Elliot loves his dirty dubstep too. Ash will just be glad to tap his foot to either a blessing or a curse but we get compared to Kings Of Leon by a anything with a half decent beat. lot of people. How can we follow and connect with you? Our manager Graham is trying to ban me from listening to them for a Take your pick! We will be giving away a free download of our latest few months... but with their new album coming out that is going to be track ‘Your Part Of Town’ due to be released on our forthcoming EP! near impossible. I suppose people comparing us to other bands doesn’t Just “like” us on Facebook and follow the link. bother me that much. We are just writing music based on experiences that have happened to us in our lives. facebook.com/theshawsband twitter.com/theshawsband What are the current plans for the band with regards to record- myspace.com/theshawsband ing and touring? by altsounds
What is your band name and where did that come from? We’re called The Shaws and it comes from a play on words reflecting where we’re from. The Shores was already taken by a band from Thailand! You’d think they would choose something a bit more ‘Thailandish’....is that even a word?
Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System w/ B6 Capsule
Top end audio microphone that will take your productions further than ever before
s a music producer I was very familiar with Blue, their Microphones and the Blue Bottle Tube microphones. I was also familiar with their £3,474.99 price tag which was a little too rich for my blood! You can imagine how ecstatic I got then when I answered the door to be confronted with this amazing microphone, all boxed up, with my name on it awaiting review. The Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System is at least 3 times more expensive than my most expensive microphone so I was very keen to get this out and to start using it right away to see if it was really worth it’s weight in gold. The first thing to note here is that the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System is huge in comparison to any of my other microphones. It is 14.75” long and 4” wide. It comes housed in a very large, sturdy looking, blue flight case that holds the microphone body, the B6 capsule, the tube based power supply, some keys so you can lock the flight case and the custom cable you will need to connect the microphone to the power supply. The Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System comes in a striking Blue colour and let me tell you, I have never seen so many people impressed with a piece of equipment before. Various artists and bands coming through the studio were asking how much it cost and were generally overly flattering about how amazing this piece of gear looked in my studio. So, before anything else I must congratulate Blue on an excellent piece of design work. Think of this microphone aesthetically (if you will) as the equivalent of a Bentley, whenever someone comes into contact with it they a) know it’s expensive and b) are fascinated by it’s beauty. People might be fooled into thinking that BLUE is called this because all of their microphones are coloured Blue. Not quite. BLUE stands for Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics and is the brainchild of Skipper Wise. However, that being said though, the majority of these microphones are Blue with one in five being either red, yellow or green. What is also crazy to note is that Blue actually manufacture everything that is used in their microphones themselves down to the screws that hold it all together! For me this is impressive stuff and really helps to begin to justify the hefty price tag this Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System has - that is even before you hear it, which in itself justifies it’s price tag many times over. As previously stated, the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System is HUGE. 14.75” long, is approximately 4-5lbs in weight and stands tall and proud when placed on any microphone stand. The included power supply is even more impressive (and heavy), has a big dial on the front and looks like it would be perfectly at home on a alien spacecraft. The first thing I did was open the bad boy up to see what was inside. What hit me was an overly neat setup with very quality parts throughout, lets go back to the car analogy here; in comparison to other vintage systems I have looked at the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System is a Rolls Royce while the others are a run of the mill Ford. The power supply on this review unit was designed for one microphone and had no polar pattern switching capabilities. It does have one big dial on the front though that allows you to increase or decrease the B+ Voltage. Optimised for 60V (0 on the dial) you can step this up to 90V (+ on the dial), or down to 34V (- on the dial). Changing this setting changes the sound of the microphone quite drastically and is great for setting the sensitivity requirement for your particular scenario. Imagine if you will that the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System was used as a room mic. You will want to have this at 34V so that it doesn’t peak when the drummer is whacking the crap out of his kit. For vocals however you might want 60V and for soft spoken words, whack the dial up to 90V. It is also worth noting that there are a bunch of settings in between this which
allow you to set this according to you scenario. Due to this being a Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System, you guessed it, it needs to warm up for a good few minutes before you can start using it so that the tube circuitry warms up accordingly. When you power the thing on, the first thing it does is turns on the heater. Once the cathode is heated you need to wait a further three minutes before usage can commence. BLUE manufacture a multitude of different, lollypop shaped capsules for use with this microphone system. This review unit came with the B6 cardioid (dual backplate, like an AKG CK 12) but also available are:
• • • • •
Blatantly extremely excited by this point, I had unpacked the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System, I had set it up with an sE Electronics Reflexion Filter behind it and I had waited patiently for the thing to warm up and be ready and then my test was off. Before I go into detail I just want to let you know that I have used the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System in hundreds of sessions of varying genres. In fact, after trying the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System just once ALL of my other microphones were retired (well almost - still using overheads and close up mics like SM57’s). It really is that the B7 cardioid (single backplate, like a good. From the moment you hear something Neumann M7); come through this you appreciate the beauty, the B5 pressure omni; design and quality of this microphone. One of the B4 Perspex sphere pressure omni my first uses was as a room Mic on a drumkit (like used on the Neumann M50); and let me tell you, the quality coming through the B3 midsize cardioid; this one microphone was better than many B0 bright by itself; peoples drum productions are fully completed, with just one microphone and no effects. 10
My main uses for this were as a room mic for drums (my drum mixes never sounded so big and warm) and primarily for vocals which is where the microphone comes into it’s own again. However, this is not to say this is all the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System can be used for. I used it on acoustic guitar, double basses and a bunch of other acoustic and percussive instruments and every single one of them sounded great. Manipulating such a quality sound source made my production output quality fly up the ranks. Whereas previously I was able to make a good input source sound excellent, here I had an excellent sound source and could tweak it to sound amazing. If you put the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System in front of a great vocalist it’s extra brightness helps to give a vocal sheen that just isn’t available through a plug-in. Another thing worth noting is how loud the output of the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System was, it needed the gain set on my preamps to about a quarter to get it blasting through the speakers where as a comparison mic would need that same gain to be set at three quarters.
In Summary Well let me start by saying that yesterday I boxed up the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System and set up a UPS collection to take it back to BLUE. I must admit that this microphone was so damn good that this made me cry a little, not literally but on the inside. After using the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System on Pop bands all the way up to Death Metal bands. I even used it for the production of my first ever sample pack, I just couldn’t imagine life without it. Imagine it, if you will, as if your girlfriend or wife that you love to bits were to leave you. How would you feel? That’s right, gutted. Well I was going through that exact same feeling, hurt and sadness sending the Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System back to BLUE! Yes the price tag is hefty but honestly it is worth the investment. Something like this won’t go down in value and in fact might be worth more the longer you hold onto it. The three grand or so it will cost you to own one will be quickly recouped once the community starts hearing the extra quality output coming from your studio as a result of the purchase of this unit. Sadly for me now my saving up begins for my own purchase of one of these Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System’s because seriously, I really cannot do without it now I have experienced it. It would be like giving me a 60” HD TV for a month and then expecting me to go back to my 17” LCD at the end of it. Sure they both work but one just offers greater quality and overall experience than the other.
Sobs. I miss you Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System. Pros • Looks amazing • Sounds better than any other mic I have yet to try • Quality of workmanship and finish is excellent • A Microphone fashion statement if ever there was one Cons • Price makes it out of reach for many Price: £3,474.99
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
Plus as music producer there really is no bigger fashion statement than this. If you are ever in a studio that has a Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System then you know you are in safe hands. If you are lucky enough to be in a studio that uses two Blue Bottle Tube Microphone System’s as overheads then sit back and enjoy your recording because it is likely to come out great. Turns out that the old adage is true, you really do get what you pay for in life, invest in a high end microphone like this and it will make you more money back because of the increased quality of your work.
“Candy Kiss” by altsounds 11
The Altsounds Magazine
An Introduction and Lowdown with Altsounds.com President and Owner Chris “MUG5” Maguire.
here’s nothing more valuable than the integrity of the spoken, and also written word. It becomes more apparent by the day in this PC world, especially because we’ve become an obsessive nanny state, constantly worrying about offending the person next to us. Can we actually trust what’s sprawled across the newspapers or what is flashed at us on the news channels, or has the ‘news’ been modified to accommodate different cultures, beliefs, religions and so forth? Unfortunately, this spread of corruption is thriving within the music business too. Is that generic pop album review you’re reading about in countless different magazines and websites actually what the reviewer believes? Or is it the price paid by the record labels to glorify their cheap, mass produced records in a shallow and hollow promotional endeavour? It’s not all doom and gloom however, Chris “MUG5” Maguire, a guy originally from the sleepy town of Blackwood in South Wales recognised this issue in 2004 and has worked since on creating the solution, AltSounds and its associated network. Altsounds’ slogan is “independent music journalism, by the people, for the people,” and quite clearly it does what it says on the tin. Passion and pride seeps from every news item, article, interview and copious amounts of reviews, more than you can shake a promotional EP at! AltSounds is currently undergoing revolutionary changes, well, blossoming. AltSounds appeared just before the MySpace popularity boom started, giving it space to grow and evolve as the internet allowed it to, which eventually ended up with what we have today which is “one of the finest independent
by Ffion Davies music journalism sites on the net”. All contributors to AltSounds work on the adrenaline rush and pride of seeing their work and name in print alone. With no headquarters, no big office of staff and no monetary injection, it only enhances the achievement of a music resource that has “more of an internet presence than 90% of the major, corporate UK musical press.” Chris is aspiring to have a radio show, a record label and anything else he cares to dream up. With a strong team behind him, he’s already proving to himself and the world, that if you put a bit of hard work, self belief, motivation and persistence in, you can make your dreams come true. If he’s not busy in his recording studio or editing and browsing AltSounds.com, he’s working at his multimedia studios (screamadelica.co.uk), which all became a reality after quitting his job and making his love of music and media his full time career. With his open mind and eclectic music taste, Chris’ relationship with the music industry will only continue to flourish. I was fortunate to grab a few spare seconds of Chris’ time to ask him what really makes AltSounds unique, what he thinks of music piracy, the importance of AltSounds in print and why music is really important to him. Hi Chris, so tell us, what makes AltSounds different to all the other websites/magazines out there? We are run by the people, for the people. True musical enthusiasts and 12
tastemakers and not someone that is just doing it for the money and being told what to write. We believe in musical honesty and say what we want about bands and artists and aren’t confined or told how to rate something. How is being told to give something a positive review good journalism? It’s not and that’s why our readers respect us because we aren’t afraid to say how it is. What sort of music do you like? My musical taste is pretty eclectic and I will give anything a chance which is reflected in the way Altsounds.com is also not genre biased. I don’t believe in liking or not liking genres and to quote Ray Charles there really is only two types of music “good and bad.” It really is as simple as that. A few bands I would recommend at the moment would be People in Planes, Periphery, Innerpartysystem and The Dead Weather. There are a gazillion more but give those a try. Why is music so important to you? I have always been involved in music since I used to rap over instrumentals when I was about 10 in the 80s just before I picked up a guitar and started writing songs. Certain bands like The Beatles and Nirvana changed my life and everything I do each and every day is music related whether it is producing an album, designing album artwork, making a music video or just informing the world about stuff via Altsounds.com. I don’t choose to do it, my
heart makes me. AltSounds started as an online website, how excited are you now it’s officially going into print? Seeing the first issue in print is gonna be a major step for me. I had hoped when we launched something like this that we would have distro in place but actually thinking about it later I realized that doing it completely independently was definitely the way forward. The best looking fanzine in the world if you will! The magazine will only be print on demand but that will be more environmentally friendly anyway and although a bit more expensive per issue than a mass-produced magazine, you don’t have to hold it your hands if you don’t want to, you can read it through the free PDF. Why have you decided to go into print, especially because it’s considered a dying industry? Because print is like vinyl, it will never die. There is just something so cool about being able to hold it in your hand and read it. You can pop it in your bag, take it on a plane or take it to the toilet, wherever. As I said above we are doing print on demand only so the people that do buy it will cherish it more than these impersonal, mass-produced magazines that are awful for the environment. How important do you think AltSounds and similar companies are as a resource for established and upcoming bands? AltSounds in particular is very important because we provide coverage to upcoming bands that others don’t touch with a barge pole. I am in an unsigned and upcoming band myself (bleedelectric.com) and do you know how hard we have found it to get it reviewed? Very is the answer. AltSounds are open to submissions from anyone as long as they are willing for us to be totally and utterly musically honest. How difficult is it for bands and record companies to prosper due to the illegal downloading pandemic? I would say very, but more so for the major labels, the ones with the old school, corporate ways and tactics. There are still labels flourishing, look at Epitaph for example, they are releasing the new Weezer album and who 5 years ago would have seen that coming? They are prospering because they are approaching it all in an “out of the box” way, much like we do at Altsounds.com. Do you think AltSounds helps to soften the blow created by these pirates? I don’t think anyone can soften the blow. Ultimately it is so easy to pirate music that no matter how hard you try to clamp down on it someone else will be pirating it elsewhere. There is no way to police the world. What these labels should be doing is realizing that their profit margins are slimmer on the physical sales and be working on ways to monetize their artists in different ways. You have to know when to change course and change tactics other wise you will probably sink. So lastly, a bit of a tough one, what’s the most influential record you’ve come across during your life time? That is a ridiculously solid question to answer. I would have to say The White Album by The Beatles, Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nevermind by Nirvana, The Doors self titled debut, Rage Against The Machine’s self titled debut album and Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys have all been pretty influential on me. However there are many, many more which, if I listed them all would fill Issue 1 of this magazine!! And so we introduce you lucky readers to Issue 1 of the Altsounds Magazine, the only magazine that is wholeheartedly made by music makers and lovers, for music makers and lovers that will help each and every one of you at some point.
It might sound brash but the AltSounds magazine will be your new favourite magazine not only introducing you to the best and worst new music but also highlighting some of the greatest music that has existed since the advent of popular music as we know it. What good is being all knowing about the new music if you don’t know where it came from? Exactly, now enjoy.
Eli “Paperboy” Reed Come And Get It [Album] Capitol Records
’d never heard of Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed before this review, and on the name alone – rather unfairly – speculated he might be purveying an album of insipid acoustic/folk/snore. Instead the speakers unfurled a potent, instantly likeable voice, perfectly dovetailed with a classic soul/R&B sound. Reed has already been compared to Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, and on this evidence it seems an obvious connection. He may not quite replicate Redding’s searingly powerful delivery, but he’s a pleasure to listen to throughout this extremely assured major label debut. This is partly due to the natural element of his voice; it sounds entirely unforced, and he’s equally at home crooning on the soulful ‘Pick Your Battles’ or unleashing his vocal chords over the faster tracks. Indeed he displays an admirable vocal range during Come And Get It, whilst crucially refraining from going beyond his limits. The lyrics aren’t especially revolutionary; critics might be justified in questioning the slightly limited refrains on ‘Young Girl,’ for example. However, the delivery arguably more than makes up for this, as does the real sense of conviction of Reed enjoying himself. This is bolstered by endearing turns of phrase which would slot right into a Motown singles playlist: “You went from name callin’, to callin’ my name!” on ‘Name Calling’. It’s an impressive achievement that Come And Get It channels a classic sound without being boring or unoriginal. Actually, there are multiple facets on display. The intro of ‘Time Will Tell’ plays almost like a hymn, while ‘You Can Run On’ is a terrific, bluegrass-flavoured foot-stomper. The title track, meanwhile, recalls the Jackson 5 to triumphant effect.
I plead with any of you TO GO AND SEE THIS GUY LIVE! I saw him back in 2008 and he was fantastic, then again in 09, still amazing! His new album is intense and has lived up to his debut! | Chris_Fraser
Reed can diversify though, and closer ‘Explosion’ was a personal favourite. Frantic and infectiously energetic, it sounds like MC5 crashing into a jazz band and makes a great first listen, rock’n’rolling to a conclusion as Reed hollers like a wild preacher. As well as Reed himself, the record is hugely enhanced by the consummated production from Mike Elizondo (credits include Eminem and Gwen Stefani, confirming an impressively assured touch). It’s a superbly balanced mix, with song structure, tempo and orchestration skilfully handled throughout. ‘Just Like Me,’ for instance, is of a bigger scale and more muscular than many of the other tracks, but never runs the risk of being messy. Like the album’s lyrics, the instrumentation – while not necessarily strikingly innovative – is of a high quality, with the brass particularly well deployed. Backing vocals are equally commendable, helping to create an album of multiple potential singles, while there’s also a suggestion that repeated plays wouldn’t wear it out. The overall experience of Come And Get It is summery, soulful and in many parts eminently danceable. Even more encouragingly, if Reed can transfer the energy of the record to the stage and fuel his live shows with some passion, the result could be electric, adding a whole new dimension to this strong group of songs. Personally, I’m intrigued to see what he does in the future. Simply put, this record truly sounds good. Unless you wholly dislike several genres of music, I’d be surprised if you didn’t enjoy at least some of it.
by MartinF 13
In Focus: Owl City “The industry found me to be honest. I wanted nothing to do with it but suddenly here I am and unbelievably, it’s the right place for me.”
ne ordinary day, in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, in an ordinary town in Minnesota the life of one Adam Young changed forever. The power of the internet managed to prise Mr. Young from his ordinary job, working as a package loader for UPS, and turn his life up side down and inside out in such an overwhelming fashion even he hasn’t clicked it’s happening to him yet. The viral popularity of the tracks he put up on his MySpace page catapulted him into the lime light, where he managed to attract the attention of major record labels. He eventually signed with Universal Republic, and with the resources from this corporate giant, Fireflies was born as part of 2009’s Ocean Eyes, a collection of second wave synthpop that captivated the world, leading to multi-platinum success.
humbled spirit that I highly doubt he’ll become one of these ‘divas’ who have taken it upon themselves to puke attitude all over the media, especially on the infamous, cheap, glossy magazine covers, displaying their ability to humiliate themselves to the spotlight. He’s one spiritual chap, who’s love for the finer things in life such as his plants, keep his feet firmly rooted to the ground. Adam’s sheer admiration for his father is not only beautiful, but just so touching that I feel many, many people can relate to it. I know for sure I can. His relationship to the normal aspects of life that we wouldn’t normally pay much attention to have spilled over to his music, one fine example is “Dentist”, one of my worst fears, on his Ocean Eyes album. His ability to find drama, excitement and beauty in such ordinary things is so humbling.
Contrary to everyone’s beliefs that this was his first album, Owl City had an independently released EP titled Of June in 2007, followed by an album, Maybe I’m Dreaming in 2008. Both these independent releases were a celebrated success, Of June reached number 20 in the Billboard Electronic Albums chart and Maybe I’m Dreaming reached number 16 in the same chart. This evidently shows the true talent behind Owl City, and with a little help from their corporate friends in high places, dreams just don’t come true, but they take over the world.
Now he’s here, slowly lighting up the world’s lives with one electronic synth riff at a time, what’s next for Owl City? Well, making a record as part of the soundtrack of the new owl film The Legend of Guardians of course. After seeing the trailer for the film I can safely say it has the ‘Aww’ factor. Who wouldn’t love a feature length film based on one of the cutest birds known to man? Let’s just throw a full on tour of New Zealand and Australia in the mix too and you’ll have Adam’s diary for the next few weeks. With all that’s going on for him at the moment, he’s answered a few questions for us here at AltSounds, which makes for an immense read. So don’t be rude, move your gaze downwards and have a look for yourself. Thank you Adam, and please don’t ever change, because you have a rare and beautiful soul that is extremely difficult to stumble upon these days in the land of popular music.
Although it is easy to get sucked into the mainstream spangle and glitter, the humbling nature of Adam Young is so rare and special that you wonder how many of the commercial chart regulars have turned into such, well “celebrities”. It’s safe to say that Adam Young is such a 15
You started composing a melodic blend of electronic synths and strings in the basement of your Minnesota house. How did you get discovered? The whole thing started on a whim one weekend when my parents were gone. I’d never listened to much pop music before I created Owl City so it was really new and excited for me at the time. I tossed a couple songs onto MySpace with zero expectations and people started spreading it around like wildfire. A few months went by and the major labels started asking me to climb aboard. I signed with Universal Republic and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Even now, I’m incredulous. I can’t believe all that has happened. What was life like for Adam Young before you were thrown into the music whirlwind? It was super boring and ridiculously monotonous. I worked for UPS loading package trucks during the hoot owl shift. I was also going to college for nothing, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue and my grades suffered because of my lack of motivation. I wound up getting put on academic probation and dropping out after a year and a half. It sounds melodramatic, but music literally saved my life. I was headed down a one way street to a dead end life and if Owl City hadn’t happened to me, I’d still be ploughing ahead at full speed. I’m so grateful to be able to do what I’m most passionate about. Holy smokes... is this real life? What influenced you to begin creating your own music? I spent a lot of time in high school staring out the window wondering what the world was like “out there.” I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and hadn’t done much travelling, so the “great unknown” was incredibly vast to me at that point in time. I started writing songs about things I’d never experienced and that was what really drew me into creating music. I could do anything or be anyone without leaving my basement bedroom. Who was your child hood hero? Do you think they’ve had an affect on what you do now? I’d have to say my dad. He’s basically Sherlock Holmes, meets MacGyver, meets the greatest father in the entire world. He’s encouraged me time and again and has always been a far greater role model and influence than a boy could ever hope for. He loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart, soul, strength and mind and I can’t even describe how honoured I’d be if I were to end up as good of a man as he is someday. On top of all that, there isn’t a broken thing in the world he can’t fix, a problem he cannot solve, nor a mystery he can’t unravel. Whenever I have engine trouble, I
pull over, heave up the hood, roll up my sleeves and make a lot of noise so everyone around thinks I actually know what I’m doing. Whenever Dad has car trouble (even at 70 mph on the interstate) he DOESN’T EVEN SLOW DOWN. He puts a brick on the gas pedal, swings his legs out the window, scrambles down the hood like a human fly, somehow gets the thing open, tampers with a bunch of junk inside, and gracefully returns to the safety of the cab before the truck drifts off the shoulder and slams into the ditch - pure Chuck Norris. He does it all the time and Mom is so used to it, she just yawns and cranks up the oldie’s station until he gets back. It seems as you’ve found a niche in today’s busy and diverse music scene and you’ve snuggled right in comfortably. How hard was it breaking into such a competitive music industry? The industry found me to be honest. I wanted nothing to do with it but suddenly here I am and unbelievably, it’s the right place for me. I feel really called to be doing what I do and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. You’ve got such a unique sound. How did you discover this entrancing concoction of electronic sounds? I knew I wanted to create some kind of electronic pop hybrid sound that portrayed a lot of optimism. I like the idea of music being happy but injected with a bit of melancholy under the surface. It’s a tricky thing but I really like the challenge of making “bittersweet” music in a way. I’m sure many people would instinctively think of ‘Fireflies’ when they hear the name Owl City due to its massive success, topping the charts in 22 different countries. Did you anticipate the sheer love you got for this track? Never. I very nearly trashed the song and didn’t include it on Ocean Eyes. Thankfully, I went against my initial instincts and now I can go to McDonald’s every Friday night if I feel like it. THAT is living the dream! You have a headlining tour in Australia and New Zealand coming up this November. How are you feeling playing such big gigs? I’m really excited about the new camera I bought. I was in Australia and NZ this winter and didn’t have a camera. I was so mad. You’ve already toured with major bands such as Maroon 5 and John Mayer. What was this experience like for you? Incredible. I stood side-stage every night slobbering all over myself. Both are incredible and John especially is the perfect embodiment of what it means to truly master one’s instrument. It was terribly inspiring. I almost felt like cancelling the rest of the tour so I could go home and practice. Haha.
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
I bet touring is a challenging experience as well as a rewarding one, did you learn some stuff about yourself when you were on the road? I learned never to eat enchiladas before a 26 hour nonstop drive from New Jersey to California because everyone on the bus will inevitably hate you for the rest of the tour. Oh well. I keep telling them “Guys, it’s all in the family!” and they refuse to crack a smile. Oh well, their loss. What summer plans have you got? Do you think you’ll be visiting any festivals this year? Well, if I was at home this summer I’d be spending a lot of time in my garden. Taking care of plants which is a hobby of mine. They never get upset with you, they never break up with you, they never con you into things and make you feel super guilty or make you go to weddings you don’t wanna go to. Plants are my best friends. Ironically I’m 1,200 miles away from my house right now and all I usually see on the road is the inside of the bus, the hotel and the venue. Either way, it’s incredibly rewarding. It’s great to leave home but boy is it great to return. If you had to pick an up-andcoming band who are under the radar at the moment, who would they be and why? There’s a band called Mae I really like. Great guys, incredible musicians. Their stuff is really inspiring. Your album Ocean Eyes has achieved multi-platinum sales, what can we expect from Owl City after such a huge success with a début album? Ahhh, that is yet to be revealed, but whatever it is, I promise it’s going to be great. Are you planning on coming over to the UK any time soon? Not at the moment. I had a kidney stone that thwarted my European plans, but alas, I shall remedy the problem and make my return post-haste. Will 2011 be a quiet year for Owl City or can we expect even more? I wrote a song for a new Warner Bros. film entitled “Legend of the Guardians” due out in September. Really excited about it. New record coming spring of 2011. Even more excited about that.
“The Altsounds Universe”
by Ffion Davies 17
TC Electronic Nova Drive NDR-1 Overdrive / Distortion Pedal Hi-tech Distortion / Overdrive pedal with routing controls and capabilities never before seen.
he TC Electronic Nova Drive NDR-1 pedal is a very well put together and attractive pedal that is intuitive to use without the need to consult the manual before plugging it in. However, that being said you should read the manual! I’m adept with tech stuff, but had I skipped the manual, I wouldn’t have skimmed the surface with regards to the flexibility of this unit. Being able to save 18 patches in this one little unit is also very unique and stops you having to bend over mid-show to turn knobs and dials. The actual foot switches are sturdy and don’t require being stomped on to activate which helps from a sound perspective as you don’t actually hear the effect being engaged / disengaged. I started off (as you do) by clicking through the presets to see what was in store for me. Each of the presets was nice and warm sounding with many of them being quite transparent and not obvious that they were being made by a pedal and not the amp itself!
What really brings the Nova Drive NDR-1 into a league of it’s own in terms of tonal control is the routing capabilities of the pedal. You can route the Overdrive through the Distortion or vice versa and you can even run both at the same time, in parallel which results in a beast of a sound. Although gain stacking is not a new technique, this is the first time I have seen this capability in one single pedal and, what makes this one of a kind is your ability to change this all again with one click of the foot switch, allowing you to have all sorts of routing and tonal options which have never before been available in one unit. Additional awesome features include the ability to connect this to a G-System and to control all sorts of parameters via MIDI allowing you to take everything to an even deeper level of technicality. TC Electronic’s Nova Drive NDR-1 Overdrive / Distortion Pedal is a great addition to anyone’s floor box setup and might even see you replacing it with what you used to use, particularly for it’s tonal and routing controls. At £190 it is more expensive than some of it’s counterparts, however as with all the TC Electronic pedals it really is worth the monetary investment due to the sheer build quality, features and control that they possess.
I was impressed with the Overdrive in this pedal due to it’s transparency and ability to add extra guts to the sound without detracting anything from the original tone of the amp, cab or guitar. In terms of gain, you don’t get a great deal of extra gain from the Overdrive and at times I found myself wishing the knob could be turned higher than the max setting. One of the cleverest inclusions TC Electronic have made with their Overdrive is the mix knob which allows you to control how much of the pedal sound source comes through and how much of the original, allowing you to really control the sound of your Overdrive in ways never before seen in a foot pedal. The Overdrive portion of the pedal is great and fairly transparent but, don’t expect this to replace your tube screamer pedal! It is definitely great for adding some extra grit to your sound and would be especially useful as a volume boost for things like solos etc.
Pros: • • • •
The Distortion side of the pedal has more gain and even when cranked all the way up, it sounds great. The Distortion has a great tonality and character to it and TC Electronic themselves compare their Distortion to that of the Rat and, although the bass side of the distortion is much warmer here, I can definitely see (hear?) what they mean. The one thing missing that is available on the Rat is the Filter Control which might be something TC Electronic should consider implementing in the next version of this pedal. Hi-gain, Metal distortion this is not but you can definitely get some nice, solid Distortion out of this pedal.
The quietest Distortion pedal I have ever used (in terms of noise) The Distortion side has both Bass and Treble controls to dial in the tone you want The Overdrive side has a Mix control, that lets you blend the effect with the straight tone, as much or as little as you like You can save up to 18 presets
Cons: • •
Lack of a MIDI Thru port Requires 12V power
Price: £205 18
a fantastic panoramic view of the Big Chill’s neon vista stretched out in front of you. The Clash stage which was on the edge of a lake was, on paper, at least a good idea. Later on, I found much to my chagrin as I tried to watch the excellent Bonobo, that noise from the main stage would filter across and pollute your eardrums during the quieter moments. That first night of entertainment before the festival kicked off in earnest also gave a flavour of just how much the dynamic of the festival had been fundamentally altered in the space of just a year. To say the Uptown area, which was home to an array of dance-based stages, was awash with rowdy teenagers would be an understatement. The veteran raver had been supplanted by an altogether younger breed of punter which made certain areas reminiscent of a particularly anarchic episode of Skins. All very good if you’re that age but if you’ve been attending a much-loved festival for ten years and got off on its hedonistic, but essentially good-natured atmosphere, it was not exactly a welcome change. Having said that, the supposedly quiet Thursday night turned into a 3:45am finish as the better parts of the festival, namely Lack of Afro’s DJ set, the madness of Dutty Moonshine’s electro swing sound and the novelty of the silent disco in the Starburst open area, seduced me and my good intentions. Clearly some things had not changed at the Big Chill – unexpected good times and late finishes being chief amongst them.
The Big Chill Festival
Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire, August 5th-8th
lot has happened in the world of the Big Chill festival since this time last year. The once fiercely independent festival that grew from humble beginnings 16 years ago was taken over by the behemoth events company, Festival Republic, who preside over Reading and Leeds, and Latitude festival. This acquisition caused many furrowed brows amongst the faithful Big Chill audience who buy tickets every year to be at Eastnor Castle Deer Park for the special atmosphere and bonhomie. They also have complete faith in organisers to scour the musical world for a mixture of the brilliant, bizarre, cutting edge, obscure and never obvious, to provide entertainment over the weekend. The question therefore was how would the corporate hand of Festival Republic guide the destiny of the Big Chill and would it alter the unique vibe? Early signs were promising that things would largely remain intact with the announcement of MIA and Massive Attack as headliners as they are hardly the most commercial of choices to bring in the punters. Then came the news that Plan B and Lily Allen would be playing, with the latter headlining the Sunday night in what was becoming the ‘legends’ slot with David Byrne of Talking Heads and Leonard Cohen playing in the previous two years. Cue return of the furrowed brows. The proof would be in the pudding, as the saying goes, and the only way to find out if things would change was to go and find out.
Over the course of the next three days, the differences between the pre and post Festival Republic takeover became more and more stark. The cleanliness of the toilets, once the pride and joy of the Big Chill festival, became a nightmare bordering on health hazard. The unaccompanied teens became drunker or intoxicated on whatever they could get their hands on, the graffiti tags more widespread and the security guards more zealous. The Big Chill has of course undergone many changes during its history but perhaps none have been as retrograde as the one experienced during the last 12 months. Was the festival a complete waste-of-time? Hardly, because despite the many failings that have been ushered in under the control of Festival Republic, there were still many classic Big Chill moments for me and my mates to cherish. The Thom Yorke solo spot on the Friday night was something I will not forget in a hurry as the Radiohead frontman took us on a sonic journey through his excellent solo album and some of the collective efforts with his band mates. ‘Planet Telex,’ ‘Airbag’ and ‘In All the Right Places’ benefited from a stripped down arrangement and us lucky Big Chiller’s were previewed a new Radiohead track which has provisionally been called ‘Give Up the Ghost.’ The modest Yorke told the audience he was “flying by the seat of his pants.” You weren’t Thom, you were superb and one of the highlights of the whole festival.
Now having had two amazing weekends at the Big Chill in 2008 and 2009, it was with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity that I made the drive up to Herefordshire on Thursday afternoon. After a long wait in traffic to park the car (very unlike the Big Chill) it became clear pretty soon that the festival had changed...possibly forever. What was most noticeable initially was the site layout. The Castle Stage, gone, the comedy tent, gone. And where were the big screens at the side of the Deer Park Stage? The addition of the small Lazy Land stage in the far, uppermost corner of the glorious Eastnor site was a good addition even if it took all your puff to get up a steep hill leading to it. At night this location rewarded your endeavour with 20
Massive Attack, who followed immediately after Thom, were adequate if not as good as I anticipated. Then again, I have been waiting for 16 years to see them so I guess they were almost bound to fall short of expectations. The set concentrated on newer material although ‘Unfinished Sympathy,’ ‘Safe From Harm,’ ‘Teardrop’ and ‘Angel’ were all aired to varying results. They were, by quite some distance, the best headline act of the festival however. MIA was greeted with apathy until she encouraged a stage invasion and 200 people duly responded. It was no surprise her set was brought to a mercifully premature end while the less said about Lily Allen the better. Kelis, who has been re-born as a dance floor queen for her latest album, Flesh Tone, would have been a much better choice for either MIA’s or Lily Allen’s slot. She delivered an imperious performance in the Revellers tent despite a sound problem which delayed her opening song by a minute or so as she stood helpless on the stage. Casting that minor mishap aside, the sequin-laden Kelis danced her way through an energetic hour like a young Donna Summer and aired the best of her considerable back catalogue. However, the Big Chill has never been about the big headline acts and so it proved this year. The smaller stages provided some of the finest moments with the Solid Steel AV-athon in the Igloo tent on Saturday night being superb. Terry Callier, Candi Staton performing ‘You’ve Got The Love’ during the Mavis set, the crazy Danish gypsy folk band Tako Lako, Greg Wilson’s DJ set, Swedish pop perfectionists Little Dragon, folktronica master James Yuill and the Crag Charles’ lively funk and soul show provided some seriously good entertainment over the course of the weekend. Even on the main stage, some of the support acts outshone their better paid headliners. Explosions In the Sky, Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane and the Jolly Boys……..take a bow. Putting the Hospital Records DJ’s in the relatively small Paradiso tent was a mistake as it was ridiculously oversubscribed with many unable to fight their way inside and those that did, were left with no room to dance. Some of the sets were also too short in length, e.g the afore-mentioned James Yuill was only given 30 minutes.
The Brains Zombie Nation [Album] Stomp Records
he Brains, Canada’s most insane and undead psychobilly horror-punks are back with a vengeance and unquenchable thirst for new blood.
Zombie Nation the band’s fourth full length release is their best work to date. The disc picks up and improves where 2009’s SelfTitled full length leaves off. Some of the best and most renowned names in psychobilly and rockabilly lend their unique talents on this recording including Setin, Matt, and Andy from the legendary Mad Sin, Dan Deleon from Rezurex, and Richy from Blood Sucking Zombies From Outer Space.
I left having had a good time and bore the fatigue on Monday morning to prove it but I couldn’t shake the feeling it was like one last shebang with an old flame. I was given a reminder just how much the Big Chill had changed as I left my campsite and surveyed the detritus that littered the magnificent grounds of Eastnor Castle Deer Park. The sheer volume of rubbish scattered on the rolling hills of this fine corner of Herefordshire made a mockery of the festival’s ‘Leave No Trace’ mantra. I don’t think my friends and I will be alone in considering an alternative on the festival circuit for next year. Perhaps the grand plan for Festival Republic is to turn the Big Chill into THE festival for the younger generation and if this is the case, they’ve had a very successful first Big Chill. The general dismay of people my age or older was, it seems, directly inverse to the joy that teenagers seemed to be having on site. However, if this is not the plan and Festival Republic hope to keep the old faithful on side, they may have blown their last chance to do so. Many I spoke to, vowed never to return.
The title of the album and artwork suggest it is filled with metal infused violence, but many of the songs are upbeat and more comparable to bands like the Clash, Ramones and Misfits rather than death metal gore. Of course, the band still speaks of the undead and eating brains for dinner, but many songs do so in the form of a story rather than a simple chorus of repetitive scary words. “Devil’s Crossroads” speaks the tale of a sinner on the run from the devil ready to collect his soul. “Sweeter Than Wine” is a love tale between a zombie and his love of blood and “Apres Cette Nuit” treats listeners to La Muerte singing in his native French language. What is most notable about Zombie Nation is the musicianship which binds it together. Rene De La Muerte’s twang infused guitar tracks blend seamlessly with Colin the Dead’s blistering stand-up (yes stand-up) bass stylings all the while held together by Franck O’Brains hard and fast drum beats. The range of upbeat tempos and melodies are present from start to finish, there is something for everyone on this album even the fair-weather psychobilly fan can enjoy.
The Big Chill is dead, long live the Big Chill. by GRL Soundsystem
by BradK 21
Tobacco Maniac Meat [Album] Anticon
dug this album from the very first notes. It’s not the usual music I listen to, (I lean heavily toward hard rock) so I was really surprised by my genuinely positive reaction to it. I knew Maniac Meat is the second album from Tobacco (Tom Fec) and is touted to be a further refinement of the use of analog synthesizers, noise boxes and voice modulators since the 2006 release of his first album Fucked Up Friends. I also knew Beck had some guest vocal appearances on two of the tracks. Armed with only that knowledge, I turned on the music, and after the first 5 seconds I just couldn’t stop myself from smiling. Honestly, the whole vibe of the music just made me want to kick back, indulge in some mindaltering substances, and party! The beats, the rhythms, the emotional landscapes painted by the artful use of electronics were brilliant. The music surrounded me completely, enveloping me in a strange musical embrace that I didn’t want to end. The songs were at times rather dark, and foreboding (“Lick The Witch”), but, strangely enough, not in a way that ruined the party mood. It seems counter-intuitive to say that this electronic music felt natural, but that’s
exactly the effect it had on me. As an example, “Mexican Icecream” had some extremely unnatural and disturbing riffs, but the vocals and perfect meter/tempo kept me nodding my head in time with the catchy rhythm in spite of the slight discomfort the song gave me. It worked well as party music and reminded me of something I might hear at a rave. “Heavy Makeup” is another track with that somewhat dark feel, but with the ability to keep the party atmosphere going. Again, it felt like I could have been at a rave. Having Beck Hansen on two tracks, “Fresh Hex” and “Grape Aerosmith”, was so interesting, too. I could tell it was Beck singing, for sure, but there was something added, that I assume was a vocoder. To me, it was Beck with enhancements. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Beck and it was really not unexpected that he would fit well with completely electronic music. But it was still new to my ears and I loved it! It was fresh and original in every way. Another thing that I really liked about this album is the song titles. “Constellation Dirtbike Head”, “Creepy Phone Calls”, “Sweatmother”, “TV All Greasy”, “Nuclear Waste Aerobics”. 22
Those are great titles for songs - at times silly, at times serious, and each one as provocative and evocative as the music itself. I have to say it was difficult for me to understand the few words sometimes, but with lyrics such as “you get sick from a lolli lolli lolli pop, you feel free when you’re killing me”, I can only imagine what the rest of the lyrics in the album were like. The titles told me the whole story. The ephemeral vocal quality was really all I needed to keep fully entrenched in this dark, yet partying style of music. One surprise was “Motorlicker”, that was different in style from the other songs, and sounded like Beck himself could have written it. It had that dreamy, meandering feel, combined with a meter that matched the heartbeat, which ultimately means that it felt incredibly comfortable, and somehow familiar, like a Beck alt rock/anti-folk song. Of course, it was all electronic, but it still sounded to me unlike the other tracks on this album. Overall, I’d have to say I’ll probably be listening to Maniac Meat on a regular basis. It’s simply a great partying album. I can’t think of anything to criticize about this album. I’d definitely recommend it to those who like this kind of darker, synthesizer, party music. You won’t be disappointed. by realrockergirl
t’s funny how you can love an album within 10 seconds of hearing the first track. When ‘Insomnia’ kicked in I knew that Periphery were for me. So much so that I was keen to take this home and play it for my wife and to show off that I had not just found a new band, but one that I knew would remain a favourite of mine for years to come. Since then, months have gone by and I have played tracks off this album to many a person and have taken my sweet time with my review so that I could fully digest this self-titled, début Periphery album. To date I have listened to this album about 35 times and am at the point where I feel I can offer the best possible insight into this awesome, new band that I have discovered and that everyone else should hear and ultimately be into too. You want that introductory band to get into the metal genre? You probably couldn’t do much better than starting with Periphery and working from there because they never invade your senses to the point of annoyance - far from it. Periphery are the epitome of good production and their self titled début album is one of the best produced albums I have heard in a good while and is also the first album I have heard that was produced using Superior Drummer that actually sounds and feels like real drums. Periphery always appear to have the perfect tone. Be it the amazing
guitar tones, vocal sound, drum sound or anything and everything else. This album just sounds epic, with my only one flaw being the potential lack of dynamic; not in the quiet parts but in the parts that should boom that don’t fully blossom like they could have done (the chorus to ‘Jetpacks Was Yes’ is one example of this but these moments are very few and far between and I am being HIGHLY critical). This self titled début album is cold and calculated and was a while in the making. Anyone familiar with Misha Mansoor (aka Bulb) will likely know what to expect from this self titled début and will also know how hard he has worked to make a name for himself prior to releasing his bands début album, which is precision from the get go, with no production fuckups, no notes astray and no moments where the listener is left wanting. For me, my favourite moments are the more melodic parts, such as the glitch heaven production that is ‘Jetpacks Was Yes,’ or what possibly has to be one of the best guitar riffs of all time in ‘All New Materials.’ However, the beefy songs rock the shit out of you too and far from let you down. Songs like ‘The Walk,’ ‘Zyglrox,’ and the epic fifteen minute track ‘Racecar,’ which is the best example of the amalgamation of the schizophrenic sides of Periphery. ‘Letter Experiment’ contains the most swagger filled guitar riff on the album and exemplifies Periphery’s ability to make a song sound so simple whilst toying with awkward time signatures. I mean try finding the rhythm to bob along to and you will find it very hard, although the 23
“As it stands, the Periphery self titled début album is head and shoulders above anything else for my album of the year thus far and I can’t recommend this enough to people.” drummer does a good job of helping you with his fairly 4/4 based snare drum rhythms (regardless of time signature and what the rest of his body is doing - that snare was designed for you, mere mortal). ‘Letter Experiment’ also has a beautifully sung chorus that is bittersweet and leaves me in a mood, wondering how I would feel if I was to lose the “love of mine.” It is also a good example of the weird, glitchy production that I have come to love by these guys although, nothing is a better example of this than ‘Jetpacks Was Yes.’ Egyptian sounding and hair metal guitar solos, epic musical interludes, beautiful melodies, cracking drumming, glitched out production, weird time signatures, highs, lows, beatdowns, time signature surfing are all things that come to mind when I describe Periphery but none do it for me like ‘All New Materials,’ which I am quite comfortable in saying is possibly my favourite guitar riff of all time. The beauty and intricacies of Mansoor’s guitar playing envelopes me and I crumble every time I hear that riff. Never before have I heard a riff so simple, yet so complicated at the same time, and that has all sorts of personality in the playing that I never thought was possible. The chorus melody in this song kills too and ‘All New Materials’ is definitely one of the many highlights of this self titled début. It is also worth noting the pretty outro of this song, which is probably unbeaten on the album. The next swagger filled riff comes in ‘Icarus Lives’ which is an intro that you would want to walk into a venue or club along to. If that was your walking music you would likely be the king of the world. Again it is worth noting both the guitar tone and solos present on the Periphery début album because they are both phenomenal and in all honesty I am not sure I have heard guitar tones so crisp that can sit so comfortably in a mix. Why is this you ask? Well, Periphery fall into a sub genre called Djent which is a fairly upcoming genre for metal and is actually more about guitar tone than it is the overall feel. The sound is achieved by scooping a bit of the mids, having ridiculously high treble and gain. HOWEVER, the most important part of Djent is to have a 7 / 8 stringed guitar that is de-tuned to a minimum of Bb (flat) otherwise the additional gain and treble will make the guitar tone sound thin. The extra string(s) and de-tuning help to keep the tone sound thick and heavy but with ridiculously unheard of note clarity. Another example of a Djent band and, I actually think they are the fore-fathers and pioneers is Meshuggah. So big up to those mad pioneers of sound! It is also worth noting that Meshuggah are also deeply involved with Superior Drummer. As it stands, the Periphery self titled début album is head and shoulders above anything else for my album of the year thus far and I can’t recommend this enough to people. If you trust me and you trust AltSounds.com then believe me when I tell you to invest a bit of time into Periphery because you will be introduced to something that is original and fresh which, in an over saturated musical landscape is very, very rare. by altsounds 24
Underoath - Ø (disambiguation) [Album] Roadrunner
Apparently, my first impressions are right in 98% of the cases but not with Underoath’s newest release. Ø (disambiguation), is the new, and 5th full length record by Christian rockers / metallers Underoath. Now, I am a huge fan of Underoath, initially getting into them when they released The Changing Of Times in 2002. Since that moment the band have grown, matured, bettering themselves with each release, progressively getting more heavy and more melodic at the same time and blossoming into an amazing band. Ø, on first impression appears to be another step in that same direction however, it is only on further investigation that the truth comes to light, highlighting that Ø is merely a wax work model of Underoath. Let me explain. On initially listening to Ø, what I was faced with was the Underoath we had all come to know and love, maybe a bit heavier, maybe slightly less melodic and definitely more experimental in terms of the production and glitchy pieces going on at varying points on the album. However, on track three, “Paper Lung,” I suddenly felt the need to go to Google and type in “Has Aaron Gillespie left Underoath?” And sure enough, everything started to make sense and a huge, beaming light shone directly on the facade right before my eyes. Ø is not the Underoath we all know and love, it is, in fact, a mere copycat shadow of its former grandeur, specifically vocally. What do I exactly mean by that? Well, the missing member’s parts are all still there, exactly as you could imagine them sounding had Ø been released with Gillespie’s presence intact however, and no offense meant but, what is on display on Ø is merely a sub par copy of Gillespie’s work. Kind of like a photocopy; it resembles the original but just isn’t quite as good. That is, until the photocopy has its own original important text, art or doodles on it, in turn becoming the original and no longer a Xerox copy. 25
Aaron Gillespie for me made Underoath. Not only were his beats and drum patterns unique enough to make Underoath stand on their own but his singing voice was particularly unique, pretty and just a joy to listen to with his melodies hitting all the right notes. Granted it took me three songs to fully twig that Gillespie wasn’t on melodic vocal duties or drums on Ø but, in fairness the first couple of tracks don’t really contain enough melodic based substance to really notice. On further investigation it also becomes clear that although ex-Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison is very good at his craft, he can’t pull off the Gillespie style beats quite as well. Why would he? He has his own style which sadly doesn’t really come over in Ø much at all. Well, let me rephrase that, his style doesn’t come over on the songs that were written whilst Gillespie was still in the band. There are a few songs that appear to have been written since he became a member however. Examples of which are “Vacant Mouth” and “My Deteriorating Incline” which showcase clearly what to expect from Underoath going forward - more calculated chaos, heaviness, darkness and weirdly more hardcore. Other things worth noting (and I am unsure if this is factual) and based solely on what I am hearing but, Gillespie’s influence seems to be lacking on all the chill-out interlude type moments too and again, although they are all still present on Ø they just don’t feel as confident, well thought out or emotive, like on the intro of “In Division” and particularly the work on “Reversal” which comes over a little amateurish. Even “In Completion” which, for me is probably the strongest song on the album but, again, the additional programming work just doesn’t feel as good. Notable programming improvements on the album include the glitchy intro to “Driftwood” which showcases some cool arpeggiated and vocal glitches.
What has happened here is inevitable when losing such a key member (Aaron Gillespie was the last founding member) however, if I were Underoath I would have waited a little longer until I had an album of completely new material to showcase where they are in the present. As it stands, Ø contains a few of said moments but mainly just comes over, for me as a mere shadow of their former behemoth. Poor planning, a great loss and potentially rushing this album have left Underoath with their first mediocre album since I have been a fan. Can Underoath recover from this? Sure they can, they just need to carve their new direction and push at it with full force because Underoath are still a great band without Gillespie and not a band one man maketh. RIP the Underoath of old and I am looking forward to checking out the Underoath of new on their next release as that is likely to be a brand new meal and not takeaway leftovers, with some freshly cooked fries added in to fool your palette into thinking what you are eating is not a microwaved meal that tasted much better last night when it was first cooked up. by altsounds
Bonobo Stay The Same [Single] Ninja Tune Bonobo’s Black Sands has been the standout album of 2010 for me, and one that I hoped would catapult producer and musician Simon Green into the minds of music lovers everywhere. The time between the release and now has seen a sell-out 20 date tour and a high profile slot at Glastonbury so hopefully, this all seems to be actually happening! Boy, does he deserve it and his latest single ‘Stay the Same’ showcases the producers knack for crafting a relaxed tune with a catchy, immediate beat. Anchored in the floating guitar riff and Andreya Turner’s beguiling singing voice, it’s at once melancholy and dreamlike. In the style of the album, instruments are introduced one by one, building the song brick by brick to great effect as bass, saxophone(?), and drums add their own qualities to the mix. A wonderful warmth infuses the sound of each instrument and draws you into Bonobo’s jazzy, soulful world. Turner’s voice sounds almost distracted in this one, but it works and lends it an appealingly distant quality that fits in with the meandering sax and chimes that scatter around the track. It’s really very good and stands as both a taster to a truly excellent album and a solid single choice from Green who, for me, is one of the UK’s brightest talents working today. by ivarmac
was reminded of “Deliverance” only without the creepiness. Hillstomp’s music can be bluegrassy, like “Blue Tick”, or a little jazzy, like “Darker The Night”, or foot-stompin‘ blues, like “Little Angle Child”. Sometimes Kammerer sounds similar to J.J. Cale, like in “Up Here”, where he’s got that smooth, whispering quality. Very sensual. And when that is combined with bluesy, driving, visceral music, it is a very powerful statement. “Old Plank Road” is such a rousing, foot-stompin’ song about bad things happening and trying to stop drinking. “Won’t get drunk no more down the old plank road”. But as driving as that song is, the most jammin‘ one on the album is “S.I.R.” And the guitar solo on it was just great.
Hillstomp Darker The Night [Album] In Music We Trust Hillstomp’s third full-length album Darker The Night really grabbed my attention right away! This self-described “hill-country-blues-stomp” duo has written some very powerful, visceral songs. They’re visceral in the same way that Bo Diddley’s music is, with the most simple of beats and rhythms, but with a fullness you wouldn’t think possible with only a vocalist/guitarist and a drummer/percussionist. Henry Kammerer has a very versatile voice, that can assume a different personality for each song. In “Crawdad Hole”, he sings “let’s go down to the crawdad hole, take one out and let him go” in such a sweet, childlike way, it sounded like something from Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”. I thought this song was just about perfect. So simple, and so evocative. John Johnson is such a good percussionist! Being accompanied only by a single stringed instrument leaves a lot of space to fill in, and he does it very well. I can’t believe he can get such great sounds from paint buckets, boxes and washboards. And his sense of rhythm is impeccable. The combination of him and Kammerer makes music that sounds like it came from some midwestern farming community or out back of some Appalachian cabin. I 26
Can you tell that I really liked this album? Each time I played it, I liked it more. It had such a down-home feel. Each song told a little tale, in that Taj Mahal way, with perfect simplicity, and about every day things. Songs that ring true, songs that hit home with any listener. And I found the songs where Kammerer plays banjo were especially moving. He didn’t play anything really fancy like you’d hear with bluegrass, but what he did play was exactly right. Again, it was that backyard hill-country feel that flows right into the center of ones being. Hillstomp also covered Mississippi Fred McDowell’s song “You Gotta Move”, which the Rolling Stones also covered. Hillstomp’s version is quite different from The Stones’ version, more lean, somehow more authentic. Kammerer’s voice in this song sounds like he could be an old blues master from so long ago. Together, these two musicians with down-home acoustic instruments have created a very compelling sound. If you’re a fan of bluegrass, hill-country music, blues, or backyard foot-stompin’ jams, you’ll appreciate this album. I was very impressed. by realrockergirl
Mount Kimbie Crooks & Lovers [Album] Hot Flush
ount Kimbie’s pair of EP’s from last year caused quite a stir. They not only marked the duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos as ones to watch in the world of electronic music but had critics and fans scratching their heads as to how to categorise their songs. These releases moved between - and seemed equally at home in - the realms of electronica, dubstep, R&B and hip-hop. Mount Kimbie consolidated their reputation for eclecticism through their own remixes of indie darlings Foals and The XX and then releasing techno remixes of their music by the likes of Tama Sumo & Prosumer and Scuba.
And now here is the début album Crooks and Lovers on Scuba’s own label Hot Flush. It’s the latest encapsulation of their response to the dubstep movement and the next part of the Mount Kimbie story told in 11 songs and 35 minutes. Although there is still a constant undercurrent of eclecticism and genre-hopping, the album is a satisfyingly cohesive listen. The opening duo of songs ‘Tunnel Vision’ and ‘Would Know’ set the pattern for most of the record - being both dreamy and glitchy at the same time, employing rippling synths and ethereal wordless melodies over percussive, hiccuping beats. For electronically generated music there are moments that sound remarkably human and authentic with hints of physical instruments: ‘Adriatic’ uses what sounds like slowly plucked double bass strings, ‘Ode to Bear’ sets gently wheezing melodica against bleeps and samples. ‘Blind Night Errand’ is the closest to the dubstep tag with its urgent, restless beats but even then it eases into a gentle R&B groove for the song’s coda. ‘Before I Move Off’ takes a step in another direction: the sound of a solitary late-night car journey through the empty neon-lit streets of London referencing jazzy film score and ambient music but still feeling part of the Crooks and Lovers soundscape. Mount Kimbie have made much of their music as a response to living in London (the duo first met at university there) but there’s also a warm, pastoral glow to their sound too – this record reminds me of Boards of Canada as much as it does of say Burial. From their earlier recordings some of the more experimental edges have been smoothed down here to create a more soothing yet multi-layered listen. Sometimes the album can be too narcotic for its own good especially if you prefer something harder-edged or more in-your-face but overall Crooks and Lovers is a remarkably focused and accomplished record for a band who manage to rise above many overlapping genres. by the_archivist
Matt Skiba Demos [Album] Asian Man Records
initially thought it might be a struggle to make an objective judgement on this album. As one third of Alkaline Trio - possibly my favourite band of all time - Matt Skiba is something of a musical hero of mine. As it turns out, I found it fairly easy to judge this album on it’s own merits. Matt Skiba the solo artist does not feel like someone who needs to be constantly weighed up against Alkaline Trio the band, and I suspect many of the Chicago three piece’s fans will feel the same way.
Demos is a 16 strong collection of tracks Skiba recorded into his computer, mainly while on tour with Alkaline Trio. As such, the quality of some of the tracks is patchy - musically there is some irritating use of synths/electronics, and production wise, a lot of the album sounds pretty much what you’d expect an album recorded into a laptop, while on tour to sound like. However this shouldn’t be a major problem for the albums probable audience - given that it’s being released by independent punk stalwarts Asian Man Records. It’s getting a download only release in the UK, so most people that hear it will be fans of Skiba’s work anyway. Anyone who manages to get past the understandably low quality of the production and some of the more experimental tracks - Skiba fan or otherwise - will be richly rewarded with some excellent work. Many songs don’t feature a drum track, with a guitar and sometimes a bass or keyboard providing the only accompaniment for Skiba’s vocals. This sparse arrangement suits him down to the ground; the brooding and dark strains are the perfect backing for Skiba’s voice, which on tracks such as ‘How The Hell Did We Get Here’ soars with a brand of beautiful melancholy rarely found in the punk scene. Alkaline Trio, and by extension, Skiba, have always stood out for their uniquely bittersweet take on melodic punk, and Skiba reveals himself to be a worthy standard bearer for this style in the solo arena. At times on this record, Skiba shows why, on form he is almost peerless, his haunting vocals conjuring up images of a bleak, yet beautiful personal space that some of his lesser contemporaries could only dream of. Tracks such as ‘S.O.S’ and ‘Merry-Go-Round’ tread ground more similar to the recent Alkaline Trio output, which is certainly no bad thing. Between these tracks and the more downbeat offerings, there is comfortably enough here to outweigh the disappointment of some of the aforementioned electronic experimentation, which only sporadically blights an otherwise outstanding album. by J.N.Reed
Send us your letters, thoughts and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our favourite wins this tuner from TC Electronic.
The Qemists Hurt Less [Single] Ninja Tune
ell, you weren’t expecting sophistication from me and I certainly won’t disappoint; I doubt if there’s ever been a review written about a Qemists track without a mention of Pendulum, so may I just say Pendulum, Pendulum, Pendulum and finally Pen-dew-fucking-lumm. Ahem. “Hurt Less” is the new single by Brighton based drum and bass trio The Qemists, signed to the Ninja Tune label and the track is taken from the band’s second album Spirit In The System and features guest vocals from Jenna G. The CD single has six alternative versions of the song.
“music by numbers for people who don’t care, by people that don’t care”
Kylie Aphrodite [Album]
Parlophone NEARLY bought a Kylie album once. It was sometime back in the mid-90s when I drank a lot of strong white cider. That was when Loaded and FHM were the “must-have” magazines for young men and a few open minded women, much like Hello! and OK! are today. Lad mags always featured a feast of airbrushed beauties that were apparently too gorgeous to inhabit the real world. They were a tantalus, too good not to be true and the chief among these silent, staring sirens was pop’s great survivor Kylie Minogue, whose poster I stared at for many wasted hours.
Unfortunately, her latest album Aphrodite is only a little less engrossing than a Hollyoaks two-parter. She’s not the most talented of artists, but has matured into a well-marketed harbinger of bubblegum disco choons. Kylie’s publicity people would have you believe that she’s a strong, independent woman, with her finger on the musical pulse. Truth be told that this is putrid, flat-pack pop, assembled by men with grey hair, who drive highpowered sports cars and that think Captain Beefheart is a pub chain. It’s little to do with music at all in fact, but a lot to do with pleasing an undiscerning fan base. Song titles such as “Cupid Boy,” “Everything is Beautiful,” and “Put your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” tell you as much as you need to know. These are dead-eyed, beat-driven ballads, which mean less in reality than you could possibly imagine. These are songs made to be manipulated, to be tweaked and turned into clubbangers. They are all about love but carry as much insight as a handful of cards, snatched off a shelf in Clinton Cards, by a four-timing love rat on Valentine’s Day. Of course, like bad television, if you don’t like it just switch-off. What is hard to understand is how Kylie still attracts attention in a world where there are geniuses like Janelle Monae, or simply women as gifted as Alicia Keys. Only buy Aphrodite if you own a cocktail bar, or if you think music should be beautiful background noise. By Gareth D
GEEKS CORNER: Liam Black, one third of The Qemists, has recently added a pair of Genelec 6010A monitors to his home studio setup, along with a 5040A subwoofer.
“We’ve got a complex of two studios, in a big industrial unit, but we’re used to having our home setups and I realised I needed something to monitor with at home,” says Liam. “I demo’ed lots of small-spec pairs of speakers – I wanted them to double as a hi-fi for me. I wanted the hi-fidelity sound that was interesting and captivating to me.” “The most crucial thing with 2.1 systems is the crossover where the frequencies get sent to the sub or the top speakers. With a lot of systems you get the feeling that there’s a gap where the frequencies haven’t really joined up properly. With the Genelec system, if you couldn’t see the sub you’d just think – wow, these little speakers are amazing.”
20% What does it sound like? Well, it has some similarities to the work of an Australian band who recorded “Hold Your Colour,” and could quite easily appear as incidental music during a video game, perhaps something like “Inane Wankers 3”. It’s drum and bass that is music by numbers for people who don’t care, by people who don’t care. The last time I heard a piece of work this lazy it was when two drunk guys sat opposite me on the train were trying to fart their way through “Our House” by Madness. Look, if you want to hear this kind of stuff done well, ignore this and download London Elekricity’s Just One Second instead. Or buy yourself a copy of Fruity Loops and make something much better. I’m outta here. by Rich Pickings
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UNCOVERED: Tommy Lee “Nobody’s ever made a record with the rest of the world, and I wanted to be the first to do it”
f ever there is a man that requires no introduction, it is Tommy Lee. Over his impressive and extensive 30 year career with Mötley Crüe, he has become infamously synonymous with the lavishly indulgent lifestyle the world has now come to accept as the norm within rock n’ roll. He perfectly epitomises the rockstar stereotype – having dated and married glamour model Pamela Anderson, delved deep into the dark and murky ordeals of hard drugs and experienced more overnight jailings that you and I have had hot dinners. There aren’t many people that can genuinely claim they’ve changed the face of metal forever; only a select few have been elite enough to do so. Tommy Lee, however, is one of them. And he’s been busy… Showing a sparkling hint of musical diversity with 2000 side project Methods of Mayhem - a band that infused rap with metal - Tommy Lee began to switch things up from the glam-rock routine he’d become accustomed to. Incorporating surprising guest appearances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Kid Rock and Lil’ Kim, the band’s eponymous debut album went on to become a platinum-selling record. “Creatively, I was just ready for a massive change,” Lee muses. “I couldn’t keep doing what I had been doing for so long. I felt like I just needed to do something different stylistically, I was starting to flip out! I had a long list of people I had always wanted to collaborate with and I set about making that happen.” Following considerable success and a number of stints involving global festivals, the path of Methods of Mayhem took a stunning turn as the group disbanded almost indefinitely in 2000. Years passed, and with Lee focusing more exclusively on Mötley Crüe and his solo work, the group seemed nothing but a temperamental flash-in-the-pan. But of course, with Lee being the electrifying man of surprise and diversity he is, a striking reformation (and considerably different line-up) came in early 2009. 30
And on September 21st 2010, the world was given the opportunity to witness how the band and their level of creative prowess has altered over the years – and just how – with their release A Public Disservice Announcement; an album with a twist entirely unique. “I got to that time where I just wanted to do something crazy again – something bananas”, Lee explains with an almost childish excitement. “I was like, ‘what hasn’t been done yet?’… And I was like, ‘you know what? Nobody’s ever made a record with the rest of the world, and I wanna be the first to do it’. I was sitting around, just talking about it, and technically – with the internet, and the all the software that’s available – it was very possible.” Indeed it was, but the task was a far from easy one. “We set out to do it, and what a project man, what a project… We ended up with like, ten thousand submissions, and a few months later we had put together this insane project where people had literally sent in parts from Japan, from Australia, from America, from fucking Islamabad dude. There was a bunch of different shit from all over the place, it was crazy.” Crazy seems just about the perfect word - and such genius is impossible without it. Calling in thousands of amateur musicians through the power of the Internet, A Public Disservice Announcement was conceived to incorporate the best of the bunch from around the world. What does Methods of Mayhem mean to Tommy Lee? “Methods of Mayhem for me is kinda like my adult playground, y’know? Anything goes, and there are no rules.” But, the question on everybody’s lips - is the album a return to the rap metal produce fans were aggressively served more than a decade ago? “There’s some shit on the record that’s heavy as hell and there’s some that’s like, dirty-ass electro club stuff. I’m not a fan of
He’s certainly not wrong, and whilst the album conveys a predominantly rock feel, it boasts an incredible diversity, ranging from the funky, dark undertones of a Nine Inch Nails style, to a pounding, funky groove to filthy, bassy dance melodies. Commendable is an understatement. For the release of the new album, Methods of Mayhem also took the leap to sign to Roadrunner, a record label which brags artist signings including Dream Theater, Megadeth and Kiss – clearly a metalhead’s haven. Why make such a decision? “Roadrunner’s excitement was pretty overwhelming, and it was clear where the record should be.” Lee says. “All record companies are pretty much the same, but at the end of the day people’s enthusiasm wins three quarters of any battle. It’s a good place for this record.” Judging solely from the material within the record, we’d have to agree. It seems it was a good place for it indeed.
Read the complete Q&A on AltSounds.com
sitting and listening to ten hours of fucking metal, you know what I mean? After a while you’re like ‘I wanna hear something else for a second! So It’s all over the place dude – heavy, pop, rock, electro. It’s really eclectic. You name it - there are all kinda of flavours on here man, it’s awesome.”
But, as Tommy knows best, his life hasn’t been all plain sailing. Drifting from narcotic and alcohol abuse to spells within the confines of federal imprisonment, the world’s media have had a field day that’s lasted more than three motley decades. However, with every cloud comes a silver lining, and there have been points where we’ve been able to take a more entertained view on his spats. We’re talking in particular, of course, about the live and hideously public scrap Lee was involved in with Kid Rock at the 2007 MTV Awards – a show that prides itself on unscripted maladies. Since the incident, however, no-one has really known what triggered the brawl. “I really don’t know still to this day. I think somebody said I sat in his seat… but the seat was empty, and he wasn’t in it.” Fair enough. “Then all of a sudden he taps me on the shoulder and starts yelling at me, like ‘you’re in my fucking seat!’, and he got in my face. So obviously I got back in his face and all hell starts to break loose.” Considering Kid Rock had featured on Methods of Mayhem’s first album, there must’ve been a friendship destroyed. “Oh, we kissed and made up!” Of course – he’s the all-loving, all-forgiving Tommy Lee we know and love. Touring, writing and simply inspiring the masses with one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time is hard enough, let alone juggling alternate groups, a solo career and a family with such concurrent focus. With two young lads at fourteen and thirteen, Lee has also adopted a respectable stance as a father. “It’s cool man, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My boys are at the age now where they really get what’s going on – they’ll come out on tour, running about on the tour bus, and it’s great that they dig it all, y’know? We’re having a lot of fun, put it that way. I mean... check out who their Dad is, haha!” But what have the Crüe got up to on tour over the years? Their extravagant lifestyle is something to be admired, if not desired, and the central lyrical theme for a number of their songs, especially the classics. So what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened during a live show? “There have been a few incidents, haha!” We can only imagine! “The weirdest was on the Dr Feelgood tour– where the cool stage effect was my drums flying out across the audience. At the end of the drum solo, I’m on this like, bungee cord, and I rappel out across the crowd onto the floor. Usually, there’s a guy on the other end of the cord who hits the handbrake just before the end so it looks like I’m just about to smash into the ground. It was a really cool effect, and everyone would get freaked out, y’know? And I remember this one night, I’m thinking, ‘isn’t the rope supposed to stop like now?’, cos I wasn’t even slowing down! I was like ‘fuck, I’m gonna eat shit’. I panicked and pulled my foot out of the foot-strap and smashed my head on the arena floor and knocked myself out. That was pretty crazy, I woke up in an ambulance going ‘fuck, what happened? I’ve got get back in there!’ And they were like, ‘no dude, you just hit the floor and the shows cancelled. You’re not going anywhere’.” That sounds like it must have hurt… “Hell yeah dude!” Only Tommy Lee… 31
“...he got in my face. So obviously I got back in his face and all hell starts to break loose.”
‘Girls Girls Girls’. ‘Slice Of Your Pie’. ‘She Goes Down’. ‘Kickstart My Heart’. Not only did Motley Crüe live the excesses of Hollywood, they sung about them too. Did they bring the unreserved and outspoken attitude to glam rock that the genre oozed? Possibly. Without a doubt, they possessed such an extraordinary influence - and quickly became a band of a welcomed perpetual existence. Lapping up the glamorously extraneous life that engulfed them so suddenly, the music scene changed the band not only as musicians, but people. Was the exuberance actually in their nature? Or was it thrust upon them as part of the ‘rockstar’ masquerade? “Nah, that was just us, y’know? It was just the way the ball bounced, we just ran with whatever happened, and that was the cool part – the way things weren’t really planned, and it just turned out that’s the way us four guys are.” A warming honesty saturates Lee’s words, and despite what the general consensus seems to permit, he’s a genuine guy. He doesn’t conform to the arrogant rock agenda like one might believe and for that, he gets our utmost respect. Leaking through into commercial media recently have been rumours of a potential Mötley Crüe/Poison tour. Could this be a patching up of the unspoken conflict between Lee and Poison frontman? Could the tour come to fruition and grant the wishes of thousands of die hard rock fans? It would certainly be a show not to miss of undeniable meteoric stature. “I haven’t heard that!” Lee laughs. “Shit man, who said that?” Bret Michaels. “Oh God…” He splutters. “Oh God, I hope not… Haha! Hahaha!” Well, that throws that idea out of the window in a delightfully farcical fashion. Sorry Bret. However, some Motley Crüe shows have been going as planned, namely an impressively thunderous performance at Knebworth’s Sonisphere festival this year. They featured as a headliner of the second stage, playing alongside the likes of Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Alice Cooper and Iggy & The Stooges. “Oh, Sonisphere was awesome man!” Lee recalls. “That’s the one thing I really enjoy about coming to Europe - all those fucking crazy festivals. It’s always fun to go and play for a shit load of maniacs! It’s really great ‘cos they’re there to see all kinds of bands, y’know? I think that’s one of the cool things about Europe that we don’t have in America - you can get a bunch of different bands on one bill, and it becomes really eclectic. It could be fucking Macy Gray and Iron Maiden on the same fucking set-list dude. I guess that’s pretty crazy, and I love that.” Could we be seeing the Crüe appear at Sonisphere again next year? Or any UK festivals, for that matter? “Well we’ve got our own festival for next year – Crüe Fest – and I think that will be the next time we’ll be playing live to be honest man - in the summer of 2011.” We’re looking forward to it! Akin to the rocky and unstable nature of hundreds of rockumentaries we know today, Motley Crüe have had their journey documented into scandalous literature. ‘The Dirt’, released originally in 2001, is the band’s ofsorts-confessional autobiography. Depicting a bottle of whiskey on the front cover with the tagline ‘Confessions of the world’s most notorious rock band’, it only represents the fascinatingly lewd content held within. News of a film adaptation of the book has recently been announced, much to the excitement of millions of Motley Crüe fans worldwide. Many of the details seemed to have yet been unconfirmed or undecided, as Lee attests, “When will it be out? Fuck, no clue dude.” So, how involved are the band members with the film making process? “Oh we’re definitely involved man, it’s a great story to tell and we wanna make sure it’s told right.” With potential for Christopher Walken to play Ozzy Osbourne and Val Kilmer as David Lee Roth, under the eccentric direction of Larry Charles, it’s set to be an interesting, if not fantastical, release. So, what is the current state of the many-sided Motley Crüe? Fans know they’re playing live shows but what’s the deal with new material? “Oh, I don’t know about that man.” There’s a hint of uncertainty in his voice. “We will be writing, but probably not until some time like 2011. And even then it’ll probably be around late 2011. I think the plan so far was to write some new jams to go with the movie. So hopefully that’s when the next stuff will come out. Kinda like a raw, very personal soundtrack.” 32
It seems fans have got something very different – a double package – to be looking forward to in 2011. It’s very exciting news. Working within the music industry for more than three decades would bring you a mountainous wealth of knowledge and experience (which we discovered pays off, after listening to A Public Disservice Announcement). Watching the scene and the technology around it change and shift over such a long period of time would be, we can imagine, a particularly humbling experience. “Man, it’s so different now. There are so many different fucking ways to get your music out there nowadays - it’s fucking awesome! Really. It certainly wasn’t like that when we were getting out there,” he reminisces. “You had to physically do it. I remember we printed up a couple of thousand 45’s and we’d chuck them out whilst we were playing. That shit doesn’t happen now - there are so many ways to get your music out, and I think now is a great time if you’re trying to do something man. There are so many tools out there to get your shit heard, and seen! The list is endless. It’s definitely different.” The changes our musical society has undergone since the 80s have been dramatic and very drastic. “And I would say it’s worse than how it was in the 80s man. There’s really nothing out there that gets me excited, y’know? That’s another thing that inspires me too, when I’m coming up with new shit - I’m like ‘fuck, nobody makes any good new shit’. It’s very rare, but once in a while someone breaks through and makes something really cool that just makes me go ‘Ah fuck yeah! Finally!’” When asked, given the opportunity, what he would change about his thirty years spent creating music, Lee quickly responded with a resolute and hearty “Nothing.” Nothing? “Nothing dude. It’s all been perfect. Whether it’s been good or bad, it’s all been part of the programme. I honestly wouldn’t fuck with any of it.” Neither would we Tommy. Neither would we. by Sam Hardy
om : IST chris.c T R
D A oia RE | hell U e AT FE guir S a UE ” M ISS UG5 S I TH ris “M Ch
Propellerhead Reason 5.0 / Record 1.5 Bundle The best just got even better!
nyone that knows me, knows how much I am a fan of Propellerhead and their associated software, particularly Reason. As you can imagine then, I was very excited to finally get my hands on the latest versions of both Reason and Record to take them for a test drive.
New Functionality and Features: Kong: Single-handedly THE best addition for me is KONG. Blatantly aimed at the MPC, beat-making, hip hop users of Reason, Kong introduces more drum sounds than ever before which, for heavy Reason users such as myself couldn’t have come at a better time. There is much more flexibility and control over your drums whilst using KONG with all sorts of effects available to be added to individual drum sounds and the drum bus as a whole. It is much more detailed than this small description can do it justice but for me, KONG has made Reason 5 worth its weight in gold. It is an absolutely phenomenal new instrument!
Reason was first released at the end of 2000 as a virtual replacement for your hardware gear, utilizing a virtual rack area that even allowed you to patch and wire anything into everything just like you would be able to with your hardware patch bays. Reason allowed anyone to quickly and fairly simply start creating music themselves with nothing but a MIDI controller for company. Since then, thousands of albums have been recorded using it and it is still my personal choice for electronic musical composition due to its robustness and quality of sound. That being said however, Reason is a closed system which to this day has stopped it from really blowing up and becoming THE premier music making program in the world. There is no VST, AU or third party plug-in compatibility with the other major flaw being that there was no audio recording capabilities like people have come to expect from their DAW. Although every major DAW in the marketplace now easily connects and can utilize Reason using Rewire, not having DAW functionalities directly within Reason really stunted the growth of a product that should be standing head and shoulders above everything else out there.
Neptune: The Neptune Pitch Adjuster is a whole new form of audio processor that allows you to transpose incoming / outgoing audio up or down an octave, it has auto-tune built into it and will correct problematic notes on the way in and the settings opens this up to being a very flexible new tool to mess about with should you use a lot of autotune based vocals, particularly with the advent of the voice synthesizer that allows you to easily vocode vocals. Live Sampling: For me one of the greatest newest additions, it turns all the existing samplers into just that...samplers. Before you could only trigger existing samples and as such these “samplers” lacked the major functionality of live sampling. This has all been changed now with the sampling button which is located to the right of the Load Sample button. Having the wave editor built in makes this a very robust feature that I will be using greatly going forward.
Enter Record. Propellerhead announced last year they were releasing their own piece of software, titled Record that was their DAW equivalent and was instantly stunted by not being able to utilize third party plug-ins which really is the most basic necessity of any DAW. However, the advent of Record was not taken well by Reason users who felt a bit cheated that they had to buy a separate product just to be able to record audio when, in fact Propellerhead might have been better off adding that functionality to their existing behemoth Reason. We hope that one day both Record and Reason become fully integrated which, it seems Propellerhead are going for with their joint packaging of both products (although each is still available separately). As such, this review will focus on the two as a combined product.
Line 6 in the mix: For guitar and bass players, Record comes installed with separate guitar and bass POD® units from amp and cab simulation experts Line 6 Inc. With bass and guitar amplifiers available for every single track in your Record project, you are never short of interesting tones and timbres. As the Line 6 amplifiers are insert effects and don’t affect the original instrument signal, you are free to change your amplifier and cabinet settings at any point in time - even after laying down your track. 35
Bundle Files: Much like Sonar uses BUN files, you can now save files with all the audio within them making it very easy to collaborate across the world. Normalize and Reverse Audio: Simple addition but VERY much needed. Tap Tempo: Again very simple but much needed. There has been so much added to the new Reason / Record that after upgrading and using them you simply can’t imagine using the previous version ever again. Many of these new additions are aimed at the HipHop, beat-making crowd and will definitely be very well received there. As with every release by Propellerhead, it is very much worth your additional monetary investment to stay ahead of the game by having their very well thought out, new versions. The only major setback that they should address sooner rather than later is the incorporated use of third party effects and plug-ins because, when that moment arrives the Reason / Record combo will be the most powerful audio making platform in the world. Another great addition would be the combination of Record and Recycle just for ease of use more than anything else. Other small things they should be included next time to are the import of MP3 files and most importantly for me, the ability to bounce out each separate instrument in Reason as an individual WAV file. Apart from that, the best just got even better and for anyone that is interested in music creation in any way, they should have Reason in their arsenal, it is absolutely essential.
Blocks: This addition to the sequencer seems to have been inspired by Ableton Live and allow’s you to put together arrangements in a different, non-linear way revolving around 32 blocks. If they were to incorporate live triggering and sampling of Blocks then this really would be revolutionary. Dr.OctoRex: If you load up the new Reason and look for the Dr.Rex Loop Player you will notice that it has actually been removed from the system, replacing it instead with the all new Dr.OctoRex but don’t worry, all your old Dr.Rex files will work fine with this too! Dr.OctoRex allows you to trigger up to 8 loops at the same time. The device also has 8 outputs allowing you to totally mess with the sound output of each one individually. The most important update is the ease of editing slices etc on the fly allowing you to make sounds that you might not have been able to any other way.
Price: £300 by altsounds
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
“On The Periphery” 36
Sonisphere Festival 2010 Knebworth: Friday 31st July - Sunday 1st August In-Depth Rock / Metal Festival Coverage by Sam Hardy
evening ahead. Taking advantage of the now excitable crowd, Turisas (81%) made their way to the front of the stage to a considerable cheer. Donning their trademark battle armour and face paint, from the outset it was clear they were ready for battle. Opening with their famed “To Holmgard and Beyond,” the Finnish sextet surged through an impressive setlist that included a Black Sabbath cover and jolly, roundthe-campfire drinking song “One More”. They brought their set together with their début album’s self-titled track, invoking thousands of cries of “Battle metal!” (which continued all weekend, I can assure you). Turisas managed to Finnish their wholesome performance “Turisas managed to Finnish their wholespectacularly. some performance spectacularly.”
he transition between the summer months of July and August is often a time looked forward to even beyond the world of festival-goers; promises of good weather and relaxing holidays is worth at least a year of raised hopes. And, as of 2009, festival fans all across the world have been given another reason to mark the date on their calendars; Knebworth’s globally renowned three-day metal festival. Sonisphere. Already boasting a million ticket sales and a Poland lineup featuring the infamous Big Four of Thrash Metal, the Sonisphere team were expected to deliver an explosive weekend. Bragging incredible headliners deemed to be two of the best live metal bands in existence; Iron Maiden and Rammstein, the three days already were set to be more than memorable.
Day One - Friday 30th July Friday 30th July saw the jam-packed riff-fest kick off with an opening performance from Dutch symphonic metal act Delain (67%) on Sonisphere’s second stage – dubbed the Saturn Stage. The band were on form, without a doubt, but the impressive content they should have played was left to be desired. Quite simply, they are a cookie-cutter arrangement that mirrors the likes of Nightwish, Within Temptation and hoards of similar heavy-yet-operatic Scandinavian groups. However, it would be unfair to say this reflected their live performance, as lead vocalist Charlotte Wessels did a sterling job injecting spirit into a journey-worn, tiresome crowd, and left them suitably pumped for the 37
When Turisas left the stage, the remainder of the night was left to the sole control of three 70s and 80s icons (if you will). The first of these to take the reins was Swedish group Europe (80%) (to answer your question, they were the guys behind ‘The Final Countdown’). It’s safe to say that the majority of the crowd had heard nothing from the group before – sans their infectious one-hit-wonder – and were seemingly completely off guard. Europe, however, judged their heavy metal audience perfectly, pouncing upon the stage – armed with distortion pedals and dropped-tuned guitars – the band took the crowd by surprise. They were heavy. Every curious onlooker seemed to share a mutual shock, and once their explosive sound had set in, a huge moshpit broke out and the crowd were fiery and eager for more. Frontman Joey Tempest’s vocal work was impressively almost of studio quality, and the highlight of their performance. The band closed their set with ‘The Final Countdown’ (shock horror), which almost caused the crowd to riot with nostalgic glee.
“Gary Numan’s heyday is long-gone, and he’s just become a sour mimic of his younger self.” Gary Numan (52%) followed on stage, much to the excitement of fans. Opening with stagnant, dreary vocals that were simply murmured into the microphone and a lethargic stage presence, the performance was confirmation of the whispers on everyone’s lips. Numan’s heyday is long-gone, and he’s just become a sour mimic of his younger self. Offering only mild redemption but no vocal improvement, the 52 year old trundled off stage, evading the scorn of an unsatisfied metal crowd. Whilst some thought he performed the set of a lifetime, those of us with ears begged to differ.
Ominous clouds congregated overhead, and as the wait for 70s rock icon Alice Cooper (74%) progressed, the evening turned darker until night overwhelmed the Saturn Stage. Gracing us with his presence at around nine o’clock, Cooper arrived on stage to a sea of
of you guys have hangovers, you try and headbang, but it hurts too much!” But despite the alcohol-induced discomfort, the crowd warmed to Sabaton, jumping along rhythmically with their heavy, bassy tones. The band themselves were on top form, with Joakim Brodén’s vocals unwaveringly powerful, and thick, true tones emanating from the instruments of talented guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén. Moreover, the band made an effort to make the performance fun, with Brodén attempting to distract Montelius during a guitar solo by pinching his nipples and slapping his behind. Hilarious homoerotic stage frivolities set aside, the band truly livened up the morning and, in fact, the whole festival.
“a real treat for hardcore fans – Cooper put on a true show.”
“Sabaton livened up the morning and, in fact, the whole festival”
Devil horns and screams. Opening with ‘School’s Out,’ which he slid neatly into ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ as a small medley, it seemed he was off to a volatile start. Playing an incredible 24 songs – a real treat for hardcore fans – Cooper put on a true show. Being beheaded, hung and transfiguring into a spider were all staple parts of the story that he told with substantial theatrical flair, it was truly entertaining material, like nothing the festival had offered so far. However, it was the musical content itself that was lacking. Whilst Cooper managed to dominate the stage and truly make it his own, there were times when his age indomitably shone through the act. Occasionally stopping to regain his breath and looking genuinely tired; his theatre wasn’t always able to mask his near-retirement stature. But totally denying him of his vivacity would be both unjust and unfair, and he still managed to engage the audience for his set, all the way until his repeat of ‘Schools Out’, which brought his production to a conclusion.
In order to secure ourselves close spots for the upcoming Anthrax slot, we made our way over to Sonisphere’s main stage; the Apollo Stage. A huge metal behemoth designed to house the most elaborate of stage productions, only the truly worthy seemed to get the opportunity to perform on this rig. Or, so it seemed. Lacuna Coil (41%) were the second band of the weekend to perform on the stage, the first being Family Force 5 (49%), and their act was nothing short of disappointing. Sloppy vocal work from both vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro – particularly the latter, who, it seemed, couldn’t hold a note in tune. The instrumental mix, on the other hand, seemed to cope, with the band’s instrumentalists performing an average set; but certainly still far from special.
Day Two - Saturday 31st July Following what one could only assume was a night of drinking, partying and moshing for most, Saturday morning arrived with a ferocious but appreciated heat. Bleak-eyed, stonyfaced festival goers populated the camp sites, swarming into the arena in the early morning like tiny ants wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts. Sabaton (85%) awoke the sleepy crowd, as they acknowledged; “I can tell that 90% of
Fortunately, paramount thrash metal fivesome Anthrax (90%) rejuvenated the atmosphere. The New York quintet emerged onto stage to an eruption from the crowd. With the recent reunion with vocalist Joey Belladonna, spirits amongst Anthrax had clearly sky-rocketed. Opening with ‘Caught In A Mosh’, the metal congregation before them exploded, forming an impressively vicious circle pit in the centre of the crowd. Not a single person wasn’t jumping or headbanging along as the Big Four members blitzed through a setlist of classics; ‘Madhouse’, ‘Indians’ (for which Belladonna sported what seemed to be a Native American head-piece and frantically leapt around the stage) and ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ after closing – to the crowd’s reluctance – with a mind-numbing 38
rendition of ‘I Am The Law’. The energy and sheer electricity that the band shared on stage was truly brilliant, and a testament to the rekindled genius that is Anthrax. Wanting to avoid the pop-punk infestation that was set to take place on the Apollo Stage, we headed over to the second stage, which had already garnered a respectable swelling of crowd numbers. Apocalyptica (81%) the infamous cello-metal band from Finland - were making their way to the stage. The band wisely opened with their symphonic, epic, and crushingly heavy version of Metallica’s classic ‘Master of Puppets,’ which found the crowd singing along in harmony with the lead cello lines. Most incredible about their performance, however, was their stage presence. Unlike any other arrangement of string instruments I’ve ever witnessed, Apocalyptica didn’t once sit down – lifting their instruments in the air, running like madmen and headbanging like novelty nodding dogs on steroids, their demeanour was truly perfect. Sprinkling in two more Metallica covers; the blisteringly fast ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and crowd favourite ‘Seek and Destroy’, the set found Perttu Kivilaakso shredding astonishingly fast on his cello, much to onlookers’ delight. It seems, however, that the band had missed out on marvellous opportunities to truly amplify the magic of their playing. Cristina Scabbia, Corey Taylor, Till Lindeman and Max Cavalera are all artists – present at the festival – who have contributed vocal duties to Apocalyptica’s music in the past. Perhaps there were some logistical difficulties in arranging it, but instead of poor session vocalist Tipe Johnson, it surely would’ve made more sense to feature a guest performance from Corey Taylor on their epic ‘I’m Not Jesus’ (which - despite the questionable singer – went down very well with fans). Perhaps not. However, following an impressive cover of Sepultura’s ‘Inquisition Symphony’, the long-haired symphonic thrashers brought their set to a close.
“Apocalyptica were headbanging like novelty nodding dogs on steroids.”
A trip over to the relatively small Bohemia tent found people spilling out of every possible exit, and considerably more rushing to join in. Corey Taylor (83%) was next up. Funny, humble and brilliantly intimate; all phrases that come to mind when I think
back on his set. A truly heart-warming guy, Taylor made delightful chitchat with the audience between songs, which emphasised the mellow fellowship already established in that tiny tent. Much like Minchin, the tent was truly packed, and there were groups of people gathering even far outside the tent in order to get a glimpse of the Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman. Playing a minimal set comprised mainly of just himself and an acoustic guitar, Taylor flickered through covers of originals by Johnny Cash, Ray LaMontagne, Elton John, Nirvana and even The Ramones; the set was truly diverse. With a voice suited impeccably for this acoustic scenario, and remarkable guitar talent, Taylor was in his element. But, the pinnacle of his performance came with the two originals, ‘Bother’ by his band Stone Sour and ‘Snuff’ by Slipknot, two soft, acoustic pieces. Before he began the latter, he gave a reverent nod and murmured, “This is for my brother” (referring to the recent death of fellow Slipknot band mate and best friend Paul Gray). With tears forming in his eyes and clearly a lump in his throat, the performance took a turn towards true intimacy, and for five minutes, the only voice to be heard of three thousand was his. With a sniff, a gulp, and “thank you guys, I love you,” it was immediately obvious everyone watching had developed the utmost respect for the playful Iowa rogue.
Lindemann picked keyboardist (and theatrical scapegoat) ‘Flake’ up, flung him over his shoulder and dumped him violently into a metal tub that was hidden towards the back of the set. Continuing vocal duties on a rising platform that ascended over twenty feet in the air, the frontman took with him a small keg in his left hand. When the time was right, he tipped it on its head into the tub below, only to have litres and litres of moulten material, aflame and spitting viciously land into the container where Flake lay. Spectacular.
“Rammstein don’t just play music, they put on a show; they perform like no-one else.”
By the end of their set, the band had played around 17 songs in total, and even after their encore had finished, thousands of fans waited behind in the hope that the band would return. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. But I, the crowd, and most likely the band, left the performance feeling content, satisfied, and truly sparked-out.
Cool relief came in the form of an evening breeze following our departure from the calescent Bohemia tent, and it appeared every person had mutual thoughts in mind. Although they weren’t on for another hour and a half, swarms of people were rushing to the Apollo stage for the German industrial metal machine that is Rammstein (94%). Following what was an excruciating wait after feeling the evening turn to night, the introduction to ‘Rammlied’ faded in eerily over the PA system. Lit up in front of us, like a painting in the twilight sky, was a gigantic German flag that encompassed every inch of the stage. The pre-recording continued, pumping the crowd up, until the growls of “Rammstein!” were echoed by 40,000 hungry metal fans. When the chords kicked in, the German flag dropped to the ground, revealing the band and industrial set in all their glory. In the middle of the metal chaos, it must be added, was vocalist Till Lindemann, sporting elaborately conceived stagewear. Remaining completely motionless for almost a minute, silently drinking in the support the Sonisphere crowds offered, observing the chaos with his ominous, statuesque demeanour, Lindemann maintained a truly fantastic aura. When he opened his mouth to sing, a bright light shone from within; he famously had a torch-light device fitted into his mouth for the tours of 2010 to make his vocal work truly light up the night.
Day Three - Sunday 1st August The final day of the festival loomed overhead on Sunday morning, and although an excited day of music lay ahead, not a single person wanted it to come to an end. Sadly, it had to. Openers for Sunday’s Saturn Stage were Pennsylvanian alternative metal group CKY (65%), a band that perform inexplicably well within studio scenarios. However, it seemed live situations are their weakness, as they delivered an average set that was everything but special. Bland riffing that would’ve worked with some charisma on stage, and unfortunately the only charisma of any sort was Chad Ginsburg’s explicit arrogance that should’ve worked,
Rammstein don’t just play music, they put on a show; they perform like no-one else. They powered through fan favourites like ‘Feuer Frei’, ‘Ich Will’, ‘Du Hast’, ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ and ‘Links 2-3-4’, and more brilliantly obscure numbers from their latest release, including the soft, culturally influenced ‘Frühling In Paris’ and creepy and beautifully harsh ‘Wiener Blut’. Infamous for their employment of flamboyant flamethrowers and pyrotechnics, they certainly didn’t disappoint. Equipping themselves with face masks that shot fifteen-foot flames from their open mouths, Lindemann, Kruspe and Landers ensured the show was a furnace for those up front. During ‘Ich Tu Dir Weh’, 40
Following CKY came American rock band Madina Lake (38%). Not wanting to get too close to the cacophonous racket, we sat and rather unwillingly listened to the set. Dreadful, ear-piercing vocal attempts from frontman Nathan Leone made the material almost un-listenable. After saying goodbye to the crowd around fifteen minutes into the set, our hopes were raised for silence from the Apollo Stage. Unluckily for us, the band then continued to play four more songs. Disgusting. Slayer
‘Pussy’, one of the band’s recent singles that caused (as ever) a lot of controversy following its extremely explicit music video, was a main feature of the night. Hopping onboard a phallic-like cannon that protruded from the front of the stage and moved the width of it too, Lindemann proceeded to very suggestively shoot copious amounts of foam into the first few rows of the audience, suitably soaking them. Oh, Till.
being a rock artist. But no, it was nothing but annoying. CKY’s music itself was uncontested, as they are a band harbouring impressive abilities, but not enough to make up for their tedious performance.
Overwhelmed by the relief of having a real band take the stage, the crowd went wild when Bay Area thrashers Slayer (64%) took the crowd within their grasp. Opening with ‘South of Heaven’, the heavy rockers got off to an aggressive, energetic start. Sadly, that was the best of it. The band did their job of standing on stage and playing music magnificently, and it seemed every band member was playing impressively; especially Tom Araya, whose vocals were brilliantly powerful, but it seems that’s all they did. No crowd interaction, no interesting stage gimmicks and no real vibe, a band considered within the Big Four of Thrash Metal should have made a convincing effort of pulling it off live. Not too convincing at all. The crowd was offered some redemption, however, when it began to rain just before the band played ‘Raining Blood’, which - on reflection was performed flawlessly. Disappointingly the short bout of rain stopped before the performance, and so did nothing but dampen spirits. But, some comical respite was given with Welsh alternative metal band Skindred (85%),
This Photo: Skindred Below: Alice in Chains Right: Iron Maiden
who - fronted by enthusiastic and charismatic vocalist Benji Webbe truly kept the crowd alive from the moment they walked on. Entering the arena to the theme for 2001: A Space Odyssey in silver jumpsuits and mimicking the movements of typical zero-gravity astronauts, Skindred were immediately captivating. Their music was magical, a blend of reggae, alternative and metal, it made for a delicious mix. Holding hilarious conversations with the crowd about annoying neighbours, tall AfricanAmerican men in kebab bars and receiving offensive e-mails, Webbe knew how to keep the crowd’s interest and maintain it for the entirety of their set. Choosing a felicitous set-list that included the funky track ‘Pressure,’ the audience showed their appreciation with laughs, screams, and of course, moshpits.
Warmth enveloped the Apollo Stage as the sun made a welcome appearance moments before American grungerock group Alice In Chains (82%) also arrived. Opening with “Again” and including classic hits in their set like “Them Bones” and “Check My Brain,” their mellifluous material was a breath of fresh air, and lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell was made to seem like a melodic guitar prodigy following the same-old, same-old dark riffery of Slayer’s Hanneman/King duo. Vocalist William Du Vall did an admirable job, creating paradisaical aural harmonies with Cantrell and occasionally equipping himself with a Les Paul and acoustic guitar, thickening the band’s sound while maintaining their mellow charm. By this time in the evening, tension was already building amongst fans concerning the imminent arrival of metal pioneers Iron Maiden. But, of course, three hours of waiting and enduring a long set from a commercial drum and bass band stood in the way. For most, the thought churned the stomach. Drum and bass preceding Iron Maiden? Sickening. However, Pendulum (78%), quite surprisingly, were met with a raucous applause. Whilst there were a few who kept up their hatred for everything standing between them and Maiden by holding up delightful middle fingers to the Australian sextet, the majority of the crowd seemed to welcome their presence. Fusing elements from metal (featuring a guitarist, bassist and thrashy drummer) with electronica, the band seemed to - quite impressively - hold their own. Spawning potentially the biggest moshpits the festival saw the entire weekend, Pendulum proved they’re worth their weight in gold even in foreign territory. Disappointingly and bewilderingly excluding their ‘Master of Puppets’ cover from their set at a metal festival however, the band played an average set. It was an 41
unspoken thought held amongst everyone present, however, that such a large crowd had assembled only in the wake of Iron Maiden, and fortunately the band weren’t completely oblivious to this. Leaving the thousands and thousands of people before them, Pendulum concluded a performance that wasn’t entirely awful. By this time, an energy had formed over the crowd that held everyone together in a form of unity. A buzzing, electric energy that you could truly feel. Every single person shared the excitement that soon, in about half an hour, the forerunners of the entire metal genre would be on that small stage. The largest crowd of the weekend had developed, amassing an incredulous 55,000 people. The time whiled away and before we knew, it had come. Iron Maiden o’clock. It felt like it was 2 minutes to midnight. Iron Maiden (97%) opened with the crunchy yet melodic opener from their Brave New World album, ‘The Wicker Man’. As soon as the opening power chords had struck, 55,000 people simultaneously lost their minds. Serving as a perfect introduction - better than any track they’ve ever opened with, ‘The Wicker Man’ truly set the night aflame. Seconds before the vocals were due, frontman Bruce Dickinson leapt acrobatically over an obstacle on the stage and landed, knees squat, at the edge of the stage, ready for action. Incredible. Proceeding to pull a number of tracks from their latest three albums, including ‘Ghost of the Navigator’, ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ and the contemporary epic ‘The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg,’ the band played with an impeccable vigour, replicating almost exactly their studio sound. Dickinson’s vocals, exploring every possible note, low and high, were not only on the top of his game - but of the entire genre of metal’s. August 1st saw an immaculate performance from metal’s finest frontman. No questions asked. Obviously, the decision made beforehand to focus on more modern hits as opposed to classics didn’t settle well for some, but it can’t be denied that it made for killer live material; songs that rarely get airtime in live situations are perfect. Before beginning the track ‘Blood Brothers,’ Dickinson made a point to dedicate the song to recently passed Ronnie James Dio, and as the song got underway, there was an emotion that flooded the arena. Even for those who don’t believe in spiritualism, it was hard to shake the warm feeling that Dio was watching over the concert with a cheeky grin, as thousands of fans
chanted his name as a sign of respect. Maiden started to pull classics out of the bag just over half way through their significantly long set (they played for almost 2 hours). ‘Fear of the Dark’ received an incredible crowd response, with more than just regular sing-a-long; every single guitar part being sung by the fans, including solos. Impressive stuff. ‘Iron Maiden,’ the title track from their self titled album, also featured, with a surprising appearance from the band’s long time mascot Eddie. This time, his incarnation was a 10-foot robotic beast that wandered the stage, pestering guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers in what was a vain attempt to steal a guitar. It was a great addition to the show that secured it yet another level of metal dynamite.
and that’s the unbelievable part. Iron Maiden? 666%. Sonisphere 2010 promised us a fun weekend. Fun? What a bloody understatement. We’ll see you next year! Words by: Sam Hardy Photo Credits: Gary Numan, Turisas, Alice Cooper, Sabaton, Apocalyptica, Rammstein, Slayer, Alice in Chains, Skindred and Zebra Chicks by PG Brunelli; Iron Maiden photos by Unknown Photographer
Following this, Iron Maiden left the stage for around five minutes. Whilst they did so, the arena was left pitch black beneath the starry, cloudy night sky and it was genuinely hard to see a thing. Low-level chat and whispers echoed throughout the field, but over this came a deep, ominous voice, booming from the PA system. “Woe to you, oh Earth...” The infamous introductory speech from ‘The Number of the Beast,’ a true Maiden classic which understandably got the crowd pumped, excited, energetic - every adjective in the dictionary. When Dickinson’s famous high-pitched, long scream hit the speakers, the place exploded. Moshpits and people jumping in every direction as far as the eye can see, a true testament to the showmanship skills Iron Maiden still hold to this day. Endeavouring to maintain this palpable energy, Maiden progressed onto delivering yet another classic; ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ a song commonly revered amongst listeners as the greatest metal song of all time. Understandable, too. Dave Murray in particular was on splendid form, and watching his fretting fingers close up was an iconic and simply inspiring sight. Rounding the set off with a song not played in many years - ‘Running Free,’ Maiden still showed no signs of slowing down. The most explosive performance not just of the set, but of the entire festival, Sonisphere were treated to a memorable four minutes of ecstatic British metal. After a cheeky grin and short word from bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain, who was hidden from sight by his millions upon millions of crash cymbals and toms, Maiden left the stage one last time to a deafening cheer and applause. The entire performance was essentially faultless in every conceivable aspect; and that is an outlandish statement to make. Entirely justifiable, however;
NEW LOW FOR MUSIC Band Are First To Pay People To Listen To Their Single
n unsigned UK pop duo have launched a unique promotional campaign which involves distributing £2,700 to potential fans who visit their site to hear their first single. The Reclusive Barclay Brothers have released their debut single called We Could Be Lonely Together today (August 9th 2010) via iTunes. The single release is accompanied by an instructional video that explains exactly how people can get their hands on what the band call “incentives”. In the video, which explains the inspiration for the give away, viewers are urged to visit the aptly named site We Could Be Lonely Together | New Low For Music? to submit their e-mail address. Over the subsequent 30 days, the band will randomly pick 100 people to receive their £27 share of the cash. The instructional video claims that paying people to listen to music is the only logical conclusion to the current trend of giving music away for free. The number 27 is roughly one millionth of what was paid out by major labels after the 2005 / 06 Spitzer payola scandal. The band have so far remained completely independent, funding the recording of their debut album and production of a video with a bank loan. They claim that all they want is traffic to their website for the campaign to be worthwhile, citing the £2,700 as a small price to pay. They have no expectations of reclaiming their money back through download sales, of which 3418 would be needed to break even. The stunt was inspired by the payola scandal, in which record labels were caught bribing radio DJ’s to play certain songs. Singer Pauline Johnston says: “We thought that payola sounded like a smart idea, so we decided to do our own version.”
“less nauseating than Sandi Thom’s PR scheme. Surely the eponymous bank would have sponsored them...” William Kherbeck
To check out all the songs detailed go to http://bit.ly/9sAN3E
Do You Remember 1962?
A look back in the vaults to 1962 by Ffion Davies
was a year that was bursting with world changing events in so many different avenues, such as politics, music, sports and culture. 1962 was the year where The Beatles released their first record, ‘My Bonnie’ by Polydor only a day after New York City introduced a subway train that operates without a crew on board. In February The Sunday Times became the first supplement to be printed in colour while John Glenn, aboard the Friendship 7 became the first American to orbit the Earth. In April the 35th Academy Awards ceremony was held where Lawrence of Arabia won Best Picture. The World Cup was held in Chile this year, where Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 to become world champions. Andy Warhol premiers his Campbell Soup Cans exhibits in Los Angeles whilst A Clockwork Orange was published for the first time. This was also the year when in the dreary month of October a U-2 flight over Cuba takes photos of Soviet nuclear weapons being installed, which was followed the next day by a stand off between the USA and the Soviet Union, casting a shadow of despair across the world due to the threat of a nuclear war. During all this turmoil, excitement and fear the music world was busy creating idols, classics that will ricochet from decade to decade whilst reminding people to just have a good time.
with music is just amazing to watch. Although this wasn’t an original Ray Charles number, as it was first released by country singer / song-writer Don Gibson in 1957, Ray Charles definitely popularised the track.
I’ve never come across so many song titles in one year that included the word ‘Twist,’ no wonder some of our OAP’s are suffering with hip replacements now. These cats and chicks knew exactly how it was done, and to be honest, compared to how some lunatics dance in clubs these days, off their heads on something or other, I would definitely prefer to have been doing The Mash Potato or Twist back in the 1960’s. This issue is a little different than the previous ones, just because I seriously can’t find any track that would be considered a ‘horror’ just purely because the entertainment and historical value of these classics are absolutely superb. 1962, I will not put a downer on you.
The Isley Brothers - Twist and Shout
Chubby Checker - Let’s Twist Again
This track débuted in 1958 and was re-released in 1962, so technically, we can still celebrate it as a smash from this year. Chubby himself is regarded as one of the founders of the ‘twist’ dance move, that is still being thrown around by the elder generations at family gatherings when there’s a little too much wine involved.
Acker Bilk - Stranger on the Shore
The first British single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot Top 100 in May so definitely worth a mention. Although this track is only a clarinet instrumental, or also known as Trad Jazz, you definitely will have heard it somewhere.
Ray Charles - I Can’t Stop Loving You
Ray Charles, one of the greatest people to have ever graced the global music scene, is an inspiration still to this day, and his utter connectivity 43
Dee Dee Sharpe - Mashed Potato Time
After starting her career as a backing vocalist in 1961, Dee Dee Sharpe tasted sweet success a year later where ‘Mashed Potato Time’ sold over 1,000,000 copies. The fact that people right here in 2010 still remember the song vaguely shows how much of a massive hit this simple song about being a house wife was.
Little Eva - The Loco-Motion
As a teenager after moving to New York, Little Eva used to work as a maid and also earned extra money by baby-sitting for songwriters Carole King and Geoffrey Goffin. Due to the fact that she liked to dance, King and Goffin composed a little song entitled ‘The Loco-Motion’ and asked her to sing the demo, and well, she wasn’t a maid for much longer that’s for sure.
This song has been covered so many times it’s untrue. Another of the popular ‘Twist’ collection, it was originally performed by Top Notes and then it was covered by the Isley Brothers. Did you know that Chaka Demus and Pliers released a cover of this track in 1994 which reached the top spot? No I didn’t either.
Elvis Presley - Can’t Help Falling in Love
You can’t have a celebration of 1960’s classics without a cheeky Elvis Presley track can you? I didn’t think so. This is another track that’s been covered an incredible amount of times by artists such as UB40 and Celine Dion, but nothing can beat the Elvis version. It was adapted to appear in the film ‘Blue Hawaii’ but also has made an appearance in more contemporary films such as ‘Coyote Ugly’ and ‘Lilo and Stitch’.
Henry Mancini - Moon River
Many people fell in love with this song when it appeared on the soundtrack to Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ It has that cinematic soundtrack to it that can only have been captured back in the 1960’s.
The Four Seasons - Big Girls Don’t Cry
With this track, The Four Seasons became the first rock-era act to hit the top spot of the Billboard Hot Top 100. There are many theories about the inspiration behind the track, most of them relating to 50’s/60’s films, but to be honest, who cares when it’s this good?
length album of the same name, which was released on July the 5th. Go to Youtube to take a peek at and revel in the astounding way Feeder have come back and said “yeah, we’re here, we’ve got some new stuff and I bet you didn’t expect that did you?” Well, that was what I initially thought when I saw a kinky, powerful, dominant goddess smashing her way through her patriarchal world, enforcing the message that no one should ever cross her. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her storm her way through society, attacking every male that’s ever pissed her off then going berserk at the climactic ending of the video. This action packed, unadulterated pornographic art is an extremely provocative, yet genius method of reigniting the Feeder love that seemed to dim over the quiet months.
IN FOCUS: Feeder “This album was really a way of getting back to our power trio rock roots”
t’s 1991 in the sleepy valleys of South Wales and a group of boys had a burning passion for music, the drive and the ambition to overcome any obstacle and the ability to create anthems at their fingertips. With a wealth of heritage and culture surrounding the young fellas, music in their blood and poetry in their soul, they had all they needed to become one of the biggest selling British rock acts of the 90’s. No, not The Stereophonics. Nope, not Manic Street Preachers either. I have the greatest honour to introduce you to, Feeder. They became mainstream heroes with the release of their sacred song ‘Buck Rogers’ in 2001, which reached an extremely respectable number 5 position in the commercial charts. During their mainstream career, Feeder experienced sheer sorrow after learning that Jon Lee (their drummer then) committed suicide in his Miami home in January 2002. This was a tragic event for Feeder, and one that will no doubt stay in the memory of all their fans for eternity. However, 9 months later the release of their fourth album, Comfort in Sound was the perfect tribute to such an amazing character and musician. This record spawned huge Feeder hits such as ‘Come Back Around,’ ‘Forget About Tomorrow’ and ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling,’ which was their second top 10 single.
It’s now 2010 and after a few gentle years living in the serenity of the shadows cast by the beaming spotlight of mainstream success, Feeder are back with a vengeance. After a long career of 19 years Feeder has 25 hit singles, 6 full length albums, 1 double platinum Singles Collection and 4.5 million records sold world wide under their belt. It’s definitely safe to say the sleeping giant was just waiting for the alarm clock of 2010 to catapult them back into mainstream success once again. Although we may have thought they were enjoying a low key lifestyle, Feeder have been working hard, yet silently, in order to unleash a musical experience of epic proportions on their unsuspecting fans. They have a brand new video for ‘Renegades,’ the new single from their brand spanking new full 44
After catching up with Grant this summer, I asked about their summer festival experience, especially after they opened on the main stage at V festival in Chelmsford, Staffordshire, giving them the opportunity to take it easy for the rest of the day and relish in what musical talent was on offer. They’re excited to get gigging again with a handful of tour dates that are nearly all sold out here in the UK, especially now they’re armed with an album worth of new songs and a few tricks up their sleeves. When asked what the new album sounds like, Grant explains that “It’s a rock album but still has those classic Feeder elements. We really wanted to keep the sound fat, organic and honest sounding. This album was really a way of getting back to our power trio rock roots. It was a really enjoyable album to make but we wanted to stay away from mellower songs this time around.” During the summer Feeder shook themselves free from the constraints of their original name and donned the disguise of Renegades. They undertook playing at some underground venues, losing the facade of playing what the crowd wants every single time up on stage in blaring lights and surrounded by monstrous amounts of speakers, amps and cables. The trio got down and dirty, going back to the roots of gigging and playing in the grungy ways that make yesterday’s boys tomorrow’s heroes. Not only do Feeder have a new album, but they’ve also released it on their brand new record label Big Teeth Records, removing even more shackles and making their music as pure and real as possible. Although they have lost the big corporate label behind them, which means they’ll find it harder to make such an impact on the market, I have all faith and confidence that they won’t need a huge corporate team behind them to be a success. Feeder have gone back to their roots, immersed themselves in their music and come out stronger, bigger and spunkier than ever before. by Ffion Davies
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
THE LOWDOWN: Per Wilberg of Opeth “Legendary is maybe a bit too much. Call us a band that’s been around for 20 years“
It was a great pleasure for me to sit and have a chat with the bands keyboard player Per about all things Opeth before the band played their slot at the High Voltage festival. 2010 has already been a great year for you with the release of the Legacy edition of Blackwater Park and the evolution XX shows. You must be really happy right now? Yeah, compared to the recent couple of years this year has been pretty calm. The tour we did for the anniversary shows was only 10 dates and we’re only doing 5 festivals over the summer so its kind of a holiday for Opeth [laughs]. It’s the inaugural High Voltage festival. How do you feel about being asked to play? This is a cool festival and its one of those we’d want to go to even if we weren’t playing, there’s lots of things I would like to see. There’s a lot of legendary acts playing here, how do you feel about playing alongside those acts. It’s an honour of course, there’s plenty of people here that all of us in the band listened to when we were kids and just starting out; its just good fun. Lots of people like Mr Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive came over and told me he was a fan of us, that’s not really something you can really count on! You guys have been around for 20 years yourselves now, how do you feel about being considered a legendary act in your own right? Legendary is maybe a bit too much. Call us a band that’s been around for 20 years (laughs) I don’t know, I think there’s a few bands from our generation who have been around for a long time and I guess people enjoy continuity because, it means everyone is enjoying what they are doing if they do it for a long time. Music is everything to everyone in this band so I hope that has something to do with it. You can only write and play the music you do, you can never count on people coming to the shows and buying the albums. How was playing The Royal Albert Hall? It was different but very cool, also a classic venue aswell. We’ve seen loads of live DVD’s filmed there and the venue showcased on Swedish TV so its kind of mindblowing to walk into that venue during the day when none of the audience were there, but then it’s a busy day so you forget it and get into the groove.
The show is being released on DVD as Opeth live at the Royal Albert Hall. When you put that package together did you at all discuss releasing all the other shows from the mini tour on DVD? It’s a cost thing, especially if you are going to film every show, depending on what type of filming you want. This was filmed like all our other DVD’s so that’s pretty costly. I don’t think it was ever considered but we have recordings of every show, but since it’s a ‘Live at the Albert Hall’ DVD that’s what’s being released now. I don’t know if, or how any of the other stuff is ever going to be released. The Evolution XX shows you did worldwide to celebrate the anniversary of the band and release of Blackwater Park were a special treat for the fans. How did the idea for those shows come about? Firstly Mikael said last year ‘We turn 20 next year’ what should we do? Maybe we could go to a pub in Stockholm somewhere and bring some gear and if any of our friends wanna play a song or two they can and we’ll drink beer [laughs] and it escalated from there to lets do a show at Royal Albert Hall; and then it was well lets do more shows in LA and New York if we can fit them in as well. When we had the Royal Albert Hall date confirmed we booked the rest. As an aside from Opeth, you started a side project with JP the drummer from Clutch. Are there any more plans for the project? Yes, JP and I are flying out to Gothenburg tomorrow and we are gonna record a new album this week. Are there any plans for a new Opeth album at this stage? There are plans for a new album, I don’t have any dates or deadlines right now, it will be done when it’s done. I know Mikael has written some stuff but I don’t know how much, I don’t think he even knows either because he just writes stuff, then we listen to it and sort things out, its very fragmentary right now but of course there is going to be a new album. You guys are also playing Bloodstock as a replacement for Heaven and Hell. How do you feel about playing, and it being in place of Heaven and Hell? As much as it is of course an honour, sadly the circumstances are tragic. I don’t think we feel that we are replacing them because they cant be replaced, it’s a case of the festival asked us if we wanted to play and we said yes because its an honour, and we said if we can get enough time we can play some non Opeth songs as a tribute as well. Thank you very much for your time Per. We are very much looking forward to seeing what Opeth has in-store for everyone over the next year. Keep your eyes peeled, its gonna be lots of fun! by simon.dangerous
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
peth are a strange breed of band, one that manages to meld the progressive ambience and technical brilliance of prog rock with the crushing brutality of death metal, a scene that saw a massive boom come from their native Sweden. Now in their 20th year the band celebrated 2010 in spectacular fashion by releasing a legacy edition of their seminal classic Blackwater Park followed by a 10 city worldwide tour playing that album in its entirety as well as playing the High Voltage festival in London and stepping in as a last minute replacement for Heaven and Hell at this years Bloodstock, so stating that 2010 has been a great year for the band would be a severe understatement.
ud. Chüd. Helvis. It doesn’t matter what you call him, or which illustrative pseudonym he chooses to don for the day, Chad Gray is the same man of action and impressive consequence he’s been renowned as for more than a decade. He took it upon himself to form and front the now prolific heavy metal troop Mudvayne and achieved impressive world recognition and praise - attaining prestigious MTV awards, four gold RIAA certifications and more than 6,000,000 total records sold in just ten years. It’s incredible stuff from someone who left their poorly paid factory job with seedling hopes of a metal nirvana to become one of the meanest, fiercest vocalists in groove-metal today.
Oh man, we’ve been talking this since about 2000 – just wanting to put something else together. We always had fun with it, and we were always playing stuff that was like, super, super heavy. But that was way back before we were even called HellYeah. Over the years we got together properly and wrote one song, which was ‘Waging War’ – which made the first record. Then we got about recruiting Vinnie Paul, and after some time and some talks he ended up wanting to do it. To be honest, I didn’t even really know him. Obviously, I was a Pantera fan - I don’t know many people that aren’t Pantera fans. I’ve been a Pantera fan since about… ’90, and I knew his history and stuff like that, but I didn’t know him as a person. We headed down to Texas and just started going, y’know? The first night we had some dinner, had some drinks and got to know each other a bit. The next night, we’re in the studio and we’re starting to go for it. The first eight days we were there, we wrote seven songs – and that’s just how it came to be.
And now, alongside a battalion of heavy metal heroes - including former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul - he strikes again. American supergroup HellYeah who are now an inferno which spawned from an ember that was conceived nine years ago who return to splendid form with their second, superbly colourful offering Stampede. Headlining the brand new Uproar tour and devastating Download’s main stage at Download this year, HellYeah are on an unstoppable excursion that we recommend you get on board with.
How much of HellYeah’s work is fuelled by memories of Dimebag? I don’t know man – I don’t know if it’s a spoken thing, or an unspoken thing, but when we’re in the studio there’s definitely a presence. And in our lives, there’s definitely a presence, y’know? It’s just like, where you feel really comfortable, almost like there’s an angel on your shoulder – that kinda thing. There are definitely Dimebag moments [laughs]. He had a wacky-ass, kooky sense of humour, you never knew what to expect! There are definitely elements of that in HellYeah – ‘Alcohaulin’ Ass’ was written in like, 20 minutes – for me, that had to have been inspired by Dimebag. There’s definitely some Dime blood running through our veins for sure.
We managed to catch up with the steel-fisted, iron-voiced behemoth himself. And not surprisingly, he was quite a delight! Hey man! How’s it going? It’s going good dude, how about you? Yeah, pretty great. How’s your day been so far? Well… I woke up about ten minutes ago… [laughs]
Of course man. Regarding HellYeah’s sound - there are definitely similarities and differences between HellYeah and Mudvayne, you can both be heavy as hell, but within HellYeah’s work there’s a definite incorporation of country influences. Was that a big change for you?
[Laughs] Sorry to wake you dude! It’s cool! So, let’s talk HellYeah. How did the idea for the band originally come together?
THE LOWDOWN: Chad Gray of HellYeah / Mudvayne “We wanna let everyone know that HellYeah’s back – we’re out there, and we’re doing it. “ 49
I don’t know what that is or where that comes from to be honest, y’know what I mean? Pantera were always heavy as shit - same with Damageplan, so I don’t know man. The only thing I could put it to is the groove influence – Mudvayne have a lot of weird time signatures and we almost have a prog twist on what we’re doing. I think it [HellYeah] is a change of force and I think it allows you to write groovier kinda riffs, y’know? It’s just a different kind of playing. I think that groove within the instruments and the melody within the vocals all add to a kind of swing we’ve got going on – it’s got much more of a Southern feel. Did you start writing with the intention of going for that kinda sound? Or was it more of a natural conception? Oh no man, it was very natural. We’re a very, very honest band – and I love that. And this [the latest album Stampede] is definitely that. We didn’t have any preconceived ideas or any kind of idea of what sound we were going for – we just knew it was definitely going to be groove. When we got in that room, that first night, to play the first song, we really didn’t know what we were getting into until that first riff was played. Then we started working off that idea. Then, within about an hour or two, the nuts and bolts of the songs were already laid out. The next night we’d come in and do the same thing – we wouldn’t really talk about anything, but we were writing songs from the first record that are all over the map. None of them are like [he makes an obscure plonking noise with his tongue to signify monotony… I assume] it’s more all like [he makes a strange explosion noise to further illustrate his point…]. It’s definitely not all the same stuff. Each song has its own vibe and I think on the new record we came in with a clear understanding of what HellYeah was. I don’t think we knew exactly what the hell we were doing – because, well, who really does? If you’re a painter or artist, you don’t know what you’re doing until your paintbrush hits the canvas. Songwriting is artistry man. We certainly had a better understanding of what HellYeah was, but I still don’t think we understood entirely what we were doing or why. Writing the record – for me at least – was fucking all over the map. But it was so fun to write that way. It was a bit of a challenge for me – the writing process was so different to how it is in Mudvayne – but I loved it dude. What’s it like within the realms of Mudvayne? We’d always have content, and themes and stuff ready – much more like, what do you wanna write about? Okay, go. Cool man. Talking of your latest HellYeah album, for those that haven’t heard it, what can we expect? Well, you can please some people sometimes, but you certainly can’t please everyone all the time. It’s a very diverse record. If you’re closedminded, I wouldn’t even bother picking it up, because it’s not gonna be for you. It’s really heavy. It’s really mellow. It’s really emotional. It’s really frantic. There are just a lot of elements that make up what it is. There’s a level of continuity to it though, I think. I used to think we were very diverse in Mudvayne – and we certainly are, we’re very heavy and very mellow too – but man, this is the most diverse record I’ve ever written. If you like all the things I just said – music being diverse, heavy, manic, emotional, helpless, groove and rock’n’roll – it’s all of those things. I think people will dig it. It certainly paints a picture, as an album – like you said; it boasts a definite musical range… Yeah man. It was a really tough album to sequence too. Our target is to take people on a journey and keeping you wanting to go to the next song. And that made it really fucking tough. We were always like ‘man, we’re making this too much’, or ‘we’re holding back a bit too much here’, and ‘we shouldn’t make this that far back’ and it made us fucking crazy 50
“...we’re very heavy and very mellow too – but man, this is the most diverse record I’ve ever written.” for a while, [laughs]. But yeah, we got it. I think right now, the way it’s sequenced, we couldn’t imagine it any other way. It’s pretty cool. Looking back now at the recording process, is there anything you would do differently? You know what man, I’ve never been that thinker dude – where you’re constantly like ‘what if’. You’ve gotta be insightful to a point, but you gotta let it do its thing too. You can’t control it too much. So probably no man, I wouldn’t do anything different. I like to let things take their course, that kinda thing. If you’re being honest in your music making you shouldn’t have to second-guess yourself, and I think the moment you start doing that… well… we’ve all seen what happens to people who start doing that. It takes ten fucking years to put a record out! You’ve definitely gotta know when to call it quits. I think we’ve done everything right, y’know? At the minute, we’re just excited about being a worldwide band. It’s important for us to be in the US, it’s important for us to be in the UK, Australia, Europe, Japan, South-East Asia, we wanna fucking go everywhere dude. We don’t want to just be an American band. We’ve been doing some shows over there now with Stone Sour – and they’re fucking amazing! All we wanna be doing right now is going to different places and spreading the word. We wanna let everyone know that HellYeah’s back – we’re out there, and we’re doing it. Like you mentioned, you’re in the middle of the new Uproar tour alongside Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour – amongst others. How are you finding that? Oh it’s great man. We didn’t really know the dudes from Avenged Sevenfold too well, but they turned out to be really cool guys. There’s definitely a mutual respect between all the bands, which is great – that always helps. We’ve known Disturbed for fucking ten or so years, and two-thirds of Stone Sour for about the same amount of time… actually… three-fifths [laughs]. But yeah man, it’s been really awesome. Kinda like old friends getting together to jam again. In like, 2000, 2001, my band had been together for like, 8 months – we were into the first 8 months of our tour – and those were the guys we were touring with. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun dude. On a similar note, you also played Download’s main stage this year! How was that?
“...‘Alcohaulin’ Ass’ was written in like, 20 minutes – for me, that had to have been inspired by Dimebag. There’s definitely some Dime blood running through our veins for sure.”
It was cool – we played early, and I think it was a kind of ‘hey, we’re back!’ kinda thing [laughs]. There were about 35,000 maybe 40,000 people, and it was fucking killer! I mean, where else can you do that? But like I said dude, we’re trying to get back over there again – I want those slots and I want better slots! What an incredible day of music that was – what an incredible weekend – there were so many fucking amazing bands on. The guys did a really good job of putting that together – and seriously, everyone there was just great. Really, really, awesome to be a part of it. What do you think the future holds for HellYeah? Travelling man. Travelling and playing. We just wanna keep going and going – and as long as people want us there, we’ll be there. We’re having so much fun with it, everyone in the band gets along so well, and it’s such a fresh thing to be a part of. It’s been such a different way of doing things than the past, and it’s been really fucking cool to be doing it. I hope we can just keep going man, and I think it’s important for us to get around – we touched the UK a little bit, we touched Europe a little bit and we’re getting ready to play Japan. We just wanna keep this thing going, keep travelling around the world and hopefully keep putting out new records. Everything we need to do! Fantastic man! It’s been a pleasure talking to you! No problem, you too dude! by Sam Hardy
Dead to Me Wait For It [Single] Shield Recordings
eptember is the runt of the litter as months go. Not known for anything other than the dreaded end of the summer holidays and the rapid darkening of the evenings, it’s never been a big month for music releases either. Thankfully, Dead To Me have injected an brilliant slice of sunshine tinged pop-punk into music’s dreariest month. “Wait for It” is a specially released 7-inch in honour of Dead To Me’s upcoming European tour, featuring the lead single and two tracks chucked in as a pleasing bonus. Dead To Me’s sound has changed slightly in the past couple of years after the departure of founding member Jack Darymple, and “Wait For It” understandably draws heavily on the new sound forged on 2009’s hit and miss LP African Elephants. There are no such misses here however, as “Wait For It” is Dead To Me doing what they do best - great melodic punk with irresistible hooks and their own stamp of tired regret. Although they tread a similar path to last years album for some, it definitely has more in common with the better half of Dead To Me’s recent work, so most fans won’t be complaining with this latest offering. By J.N.Reed
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno Dog With a Rope [Single] Tru Thoughts
s the summer of 2010 splutters to a lurching halt here in Britain, one reviewer was briefly transported to the sunniest of climes courtesy of Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno’s new single ‘Dog With A Rope’. Quantic, AKA Will Holding, has been holding the corner for Jazz and World-infused breaks since 2001 and judging by the latest single by the prolific producer, he isn’t showing any signs of losing the touch that has seen him gain plaudits from such industry heavyweights as Giles Peterson and Mr Scruff, alongside a legion of fans eager to hear where the eclectic producer will go next.
“...a 3 minute blast of instrumental joy, recorded with a retro production sound that wraps everything in warmth and suits the balance of the instruments down to a tee.” Having given us music under various guises, including Quantic Soul Orchestra, The Limp Twins and Quantic, Holland is back with Reggaeinfluenced project Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno and a single taken from their second album, Dog With A Rope. The titular single is an irresistible marriage between Rocksteady Reggae and Latin American swing, all inflected with the soulful warmth that has come to characterize Holland’s production. It’s a pleasure to listen to (and to write about) and, ultimately, it just sounds right. Alongside the sleepy rumble of the bass and organ, Mariachi-style trumpets and a jazzy clarinet combine for a 3 minute blast of instrumental joy, recorded with a retro production sound that wraps everything in warmth and suits the balance of the instruments down to a tee. There’s a wonderful dynamic between the contrasting styles of music here and it makes it sound fresh and new while keeping an authentic feel, and that’s testament to the skill of the musicians involved and Holland’s considerable compositional and production skills. Check it out, sit back and let it make your day better. By Ivarmac 51
“...if Muckafurgason debilitated laughable implementations of their art they could appeal to a mainstream and broader audience.”
Muckafurgason The Pink Album [Album] Deep Elm Records
Taking the literal words of TV charisma Steve Harley when naturalizing the band to a ginormous audience on an American show, and manipulating them in the awakening of this album, is nothing inconceivable for leisurely rockers Muckafurgason. The comedy three piece’s latest working’s, The Pink Album, is a maniacally farcical journey through a measureless amount of musical genres. Right from the first formal song “Dictionary”, Muckafurgason commingle us by how serious they surface even when basically vocalizing about a list of English words. If you accessed the music before the lyrics, you would never conjecture that the topic would be so jocular. Disbursing unorthodox sounds using an extensity of instrumental backdrops, whilst still making it sound respectable is a deftness our client has. “Part Time Rock Star” capsulates a gelatinous touch of synthetic, electronic production onto a mouth-wateringly shimmering guitar sound, a sound that is seldom epitomized in any form elsewhere on the production. Admittedly the unbounded and shadowy direction of The Pink Album makes it dejectedly operose to grind through the first four features: However, it soon
becomes ostensibly rejuvenating to hear one band fracture out of that form of plastering to one genre that the fashion side of music vivified. Specific songs on the thirteen track output have a polluted heaviness to them. Although the riffs are primordial and are of a stereotypical propulsion, they undeniably subject you to rat your fingers on the nearest hard surface. Third track “Liar” has that dual vocal, System of a Down-esque lyrical incursion made inevasible by a detraining, troublingly triturating riff. Speaking of instrumental puissance and edge, the clinquant broken chord sequence of “Janeane” overwhelmingly adds to the quirkiness of the songs topic itself. Although consisting of just three members, not one palpable sell-out on groove, feel or emotion in the music is distinguishable. Each time the album seems to take a deviation towards a more deadpan and intrepid attitude, the audience are subdued back into the trickiness of the humour. “Will you go with me?” has that voluminous introduction, professedly an emblematic love song, which then turns into a comedic ballad of over fabricated conveyances of young love. With this talent to 52
actually sound like a seriously direct band, if Muckafurgason debilitated laughable implementations of their art they could appeal to a mainstream and broader audience. However, for those that like The Pink Album as it is, Muckafurgason can do absolutely no amiss. Closing the record is three songs that are ravishing. Out of this neat trio, “Alone” has that adrenaline nourished; duel vocal expertism recidivated over a yearningly distorted guitar. Think of grunge greats Nirvana, but yet again, not quite so tenebrous. Muckafurgason have concocted here an album for those who appreciate their music honest, and without that impulse to interrelate matters with the technicality of music and the tentative amount of effects available once in the recliner of a recording studio. Give it more than one listen: Although somewhat too basic, their comedy show equivalent of a CD is something to keep close by. by Jonathan Bradwell
‘Time Bomb’, there’s an effort – conscious or otherwise – to force anthems from the record. In all fairness, it’s easy to imagine a club exploding to the impressively casual harmonies of Lee’s posse. The music does fit, and it does work. Whilst ‘Time Bomb’ isn’t incredible, and it won’t blow your mind (pun very much intended), it makes for easy, enjoyable listening, and it’s far from filler material. ‘Louder’ is my favourite of the album. When I first heard it, I found I surprised myself by clicking the song again. And again. And again - until I had racked up a play count of nine consecutive listens, and still, I was nowhere near bored. Virulently infectious and lyrically superb, the song succeeds in every aspect. It has a warm feel to it, which is (surprisingly) prolifically present on the album as a whole – although far from dominating. If any song is going to survive the test of endurance from this record, it will be ‘Louder’. A mix of hard rock and acoustic-influenced mellowness, it provides an incredibly appealing listen. I want more.
“...throw away your expectations of grungy dance beats and expletive extravagance. It seems this album is far from what you will expect.”
Methods of Mayhem A Public Disservice Announcement [Album] Roadrunner
ethods of Mayhem are an obscure and difficult band to analyse. To the casual and unknowing listener, they could be anything from a heavy-as-fuck rap metal crew to a soft rock ballad-spewing outfit. Formed by legendary Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, the band first began their musical crusade more than a decade ago, releasing their début album, eponymously titled, to moderate critical reviews. Breaking up a few months later, the band were never credited much enormity or gravity and they dwindled into the negligibility of early twenty-firstcentury pop. Through the ever-chipper mind of Mr Lee spawned the reformation of Methods of Mayhem, through which came their latest effort A Public Disservice Announcement. However, we have to disregard their 2000 effort in the consumption of this freshly diverse delicacy for a number of reasons, the most predominant being the considerable difference this recent material harbours in comparison to their early work.
“Virulently infectious and lyrically superb” The album begins with a delightful, punchy hit playfully entitled ‘Drunk Uncle Pete’. The first thing to notice is its reminiscence of Smash Mouth’s 1999 ‘All Star’ – that infamously anthemic ditty that plagued the charts for too long. Whilst it’s hard to take the band seriously within the album’s inaugural three minutes – it’s a comical song - it’s a catchy tune which establishes an incontrovertibly exultant canvas on which APDA is painted. We are also provided early hints at the experimental nature of the album, with riffs that are occasionally enigmatically abstruse. ‘Time Bomb’ – the second single to be produced from the album follows. It was offered as a taster to the public, inviting listeners in with its enticing, punky melodies. It’s one of many tracks that’s very difficult to shake from the corners of your mind, and you’ll find yourself humming it to your insane self when you least expect it. It’s one of them. It becomes apparent throughout the album, especially with 53
Four heavy smashes of a bass drum overwhelm the speaker and it’s clear the introductory pleasantries are over. ‘Fight Song’ has begun. “Come on!”, someone unidentifiable growls into the mic. Drop-tuned, heavy guitars become our aural sovereignty for long enough to know Methods of Mayhem mean business. A compelling mix between rap and metal-style screamed vocals adorn the verses to create a raw, aggressive force behind the song. This is maintained well, until a sudden change in pace around two minutes in, when the instruments retreat for a short while and let a softly spat bridge take over – in what sounds like Portuguese. Sure, I love ingenuity and I’ll be the first to fall in love with a song that’s weird, and this certainly justifies these adjectival agreements. But does it work? ‘Meh’ is not an English word, but it fits perfectly as an answer. It’s a shame the song had to take such a course. ‘Blame’ nicely contrasts the harshness of ‘Fight Song’, matching the virtuosic beats with a palpable sensitivity. The song seems to be an apology of sorts, a self-confession to an unidentified second-person subject. It’s the first on the album with any real, potent emotion to it, and it’s a great addition. Throw away your expectations of grungy dance beats and expletive extravagance. It seems this album is far from what you will expect. As the melancholy sentiment fades, a distant but crunchy riff carries us slightly jarringly the next song, and the heaviness has returned – to a warm welcome, I must add. There’s a tasty wah-wah effect on the guitar in my right ear, which adds a particular sexy feel to the music, particularly when coupled with the female vocals that feature in the verses (presumably belonging to Sofia Toufa, listed as vocal contributor). It’s funky. It’s groovy. It’s all those words that are slightly cringe-worthy to even say. But it works. It works so well. It’s surprising really, it seems to encompass the same sort of heavy-but-melodic feel the rest of the album brags, but it doesn’t feel laboured.
It doesn’t feel overworked. It should. But it doesn’t. Is that a commendable move for Methods of Mayhem there? Or a lucky escape? You decide.
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire helloiamchris.com
“Talk Me Off The Edge” contributes as an experimental, almost progressive feature. It’s a worthy inclusion, of course, and it gives off a truly edgy, gritty aura that’s hard to shake. The vocals are impressively genuine – there’s a true anger about Lee’s voice that’s admirable. It’s clear there’s a rap influence within the song – as there is in most others – but there’s no actual rapping itself. But to be honest all it serves as is a short, quick burst of moshable, stoner mayhem that’s fun, but finds it difficult to stand out amongst mediocrity. It fights, but it struggles. “Only One” is a breath of fresh air for those who play – or at least appreciate – the guitar. With a majestically drowsy construction, it reeks of Manson-esque grandeur and there’s an implicit climatic ascension to a heavenly, long overdue guitar solo that blisters your ears raw. Despite how it may sound, it’s a judicious addition to the song, and even though it epitomises the extreme, it flows perfectly with the sleepy, stoner-rock verses. There are discernible and differentiated sections to the song, a feature I particularly commend. “Only One” is a highlight of the album. The album slides neatly on to “All I Wanna Do”, and now Lee’s Mötley Crüe influence becomes much more apparent. Despite the typical dance-style music – synthesizers and auto-tuned vocals galore – it’s clear the 30 years of glam metal has induced a certain impudent trait within him. The song’s title line is followed with an almost creepy spit of “is have sex with you girl”. Nice. There’s no need to quote more lyrics, but when “you’re a love volcano ready to erupt” is a line in a song, you’re either listening to questionable 80’s funk, or you’ve stumbled across some awfully misguided lyricist. Methods of Mayhem certainly aren’t 80’s funk… Wait, what? Is that a piano I’m hearing? Could we be in for another ballad? It’s debatable, considering the subtle bassline I can hear slowly rising in amongst the delicacy of the vocals… Oh, of course. It’s another dance-type track. Unfortunately… it’s not great. It’s cheesy, and it belongs in the nineties. In fact, “Back To Before” could well belong on a Basshunter CD. Sorry Tommy, that was a low blow. Of course, it must be remembered, this is not a rock CD. Nor is it a metal CD, a dubstep or dance CD. So is it fair for me to criticise the material as soon as it makes a leap across genres? Perhaps not, but it’s not the diversification of the music that needs criticism – in fact, that deserves all the commendation in the world. It’s weak dance music. Revolving around one hookline (like most dance – but in this case, it doesn’t have a catchiness to it that makes the genre otherwise bearable), it seems flat, lifeless and drab. I’m holding out for respite - a retributive, explosive conclusion. All that’s needed now is a breathtaking photo finish to nicely round off a perfectly listenable album. I’m given an electronica beat with what sounds like Microsoft Sam, in all his glorious monotony, layered over the top. Is this what I was hoping for? Meh. (It’s that word again.) He’s offering advice to kids – “follow my party instructions… let’s get high”. Nothing wrong with that - the song is most definitely about drugs, but condoning or condemning them? Almost indefinitely the former. It’s funny, and relatively enjoyable at first, but the novelty soon (by soon I mean after thirty seconds) wears its poor self out. But we must remember, we’re dealing with badass people here, and this is a badass song. Of course, I use the term ‘song’ loosely, as it’s more a slapdash arrangement of well… nothingness. Watered-down, half-hearted beats that offer no real rhythm or vibe that make up the majority of the song. The cacophonous noise eventually slows its tempo down to a stop after around five minutes. And then, silence. The album’s over. Really? It doesn’t feel like it. Whether it’s due to poor sequencing of the songs, or just poor songs themselves, I’m left disappointed, and wondering what the hell went wrong – even though I know I enjoyed most of the material. It’s an unsatisfying finale. However, as a whole (and ignoring the horrific cessation) it is certainly an album worth a listen. The mellow, soft rock beats and choral hooks make the album what it is – a praiseworthy and meritable collection of eclectic music. The highlights are, thankfully, fruitful, and the lowpoints fester, lurking in their minority. The biggest surprise came for me when I heard Lee’s vocals for the first time – it seems he possesses a strong, powerful rock voice that would rival most dedicated frontmen on the scene. How much reliance was put on studio engineering, however, is unknown, and a factor worth taking into account, although, I would think it to be minimal. It seems very clear now from this release that Tommy Lee is a very respectable vocal talent. All in all, A Public Disservice Announcement is far from a bad album. It won’t be a timeless classic or force its aggressive self into the history books, but it stands firm as a strong contender in 2010. The amount of material released this year that is better than this particular album is miniscule. Well done Tommy, you’ve slipped another respectably Motley assortment of harmony and aggression beneath your belt. Well done indeed. by Sam Hardy 54
A Plea for Purging
The Marriage Between Heaven and Hell [Album] | Facedown Records
et's face it, only via Altsounds would you be ever asked to review a concept album by a Christian Metalcore band; let's hear it then for Nashville based A Plea For Purging, for whom on this evidence, dying wandering is another group's problem. Their third full length effort following 2007 début A Critique of Mind And Thought and 2009's Depravity, The Marriage of Heaven And Hell cements the impression that in lead singer Andy Atkins, A Plea For Purging have a frontman with the physical stature of Pink Eyes, but also that their methods (if anything) are far more confrontational than Fucked Up's well - general fuckedupness. Whatever the root ethic of The Marriage of Heaven And Hell - Atkins has described it as his "..View of the modern American church" - a controlled rage and brooding energy pleasingly batter the listener throughout, from the frenetic early moments of opener "The Eternal Female" to the ear twisting grind of backbreak closer "The New Born Wonder".
The Great and the Good [Single] Naim Audio
ummer has almost crept away without anyone knowing it was here, but Max Raptor’s “The Great And The Good” is a track in which one can certainly re-live afternoons of gyrating fun amidst a sun-kissed congregation of scenesters. It’s hard to get a sense of a band when only presented with one song, but I’d imagine that Max Raptor has plenty of other explosive anthems with similarly hummable Kaiser Chief-esque ‘wooaaahh’ melismatic hooks. I would also
put a good portion of the contents of my wallet, as well the wallet itself, on them being absolutely rip-roaring live. The excellent thing about this offering is that it really does capture the intensity and flat-out raucousness Max Raptor harbour. Charging off from the start with pounding drums, the rest of the band enter with more energy and fervour than Lady Gaga’s style-squad thinking of the next ‘look’. Before you know it you have been propelled through “The Great And The Good”’s three minute duration and are already reaching for the repeat button, if you haven’t already listened X times in a row already. by Derrider
In between those two points cascading guitar riffs stutter, bludgeon and then race, especially on the hardcore spray of "Sick Silent America" (On which Atkins sings/grunts "Your false prophecies darken my eyes and break my back"), whilst drums pummel at blast beat intensity. The effect is almost hypnotic, like being dragged under time and again by a current with a corrosive undertow. With all this as context, it seems remarkable to know that this is the same band whose leader readily admits that "...The five men in this band strive to glorify god in everything we do". Doubtless true, but this a vengeful, old testament god, and accordingly this a perfect soundtrack to having fire and brimstone rained down up on you. As confusing for theology students as the band's beliefs might be when they sing about judgement, there is more texture to The Marriage of Heaven And Hell than simply shock and awe. When melody surfaces, particularly on the likes of "The Fall" and the more reflective "The Jealous Wings", there is a cessation that if a message is to be conveyed to Jimmy Swaggart and a thousand other false prophets, it's more appropriately delivered by a lesser tone of confrontation. Or they might just be having a breather.
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Proficiently strident as the delivery is however, strip the dichotomy of a bunch of dedicated Christians playing this kind of music away and it's probably fair to say that there is little new here musically, although it's not like they're holding anything back. For those willing to go that little bit further off the beaten track, there's Integrity's The Blackest Curse, a record that opens doors you may wish afterward had stayed tightly shut. by RichPickings 55
tracks by The Beatles. However, this song will wrong-foot listeners who expect to hear nothing but out-and-out rockers with scratchy lead vocals that can probably shatter wine glasses.
Dead Young Records Dead Young Club Volume II [EP] Dead Young Records
his is the second compilation released by Leeds-based music label Dead Young Records (on limited edition 10” vinyl, as well as digitally available via Soundcloud), featuring a track each as a showcase for four artists in the newly-created Dead Young Records family, with their eyes set firmly on a more mainstream audience.
Energetic Georgia-based pun-hungry foursome Gringo Starr (tee hee!), with their penchant for swapping their instruments onstage and a musical style flavoured by the vintage jangly 1960’s English rock scene (The Kinks, The Animals, The Birds, et al) are represented by “All Y’All”. This, the title track from their debut album, was released by the band themselves and produced by Animal Collective knob-twiddler Ben H. Allen. They have already supported the Black Lips on tour, and “All Y’All” has a delicious, hook-laden, fuzzy-skuzzy intro that sounds like Muse doing a moderately happier take on Nine Inch Nails.
Psychedelic Liverpudlian blues garage band The Cubical, fresh from the release of their debut album Come Sing These Crippled Tunes, show a more reserved, pensive side with their track “Would Be Lovers”. The rest of the Dave Sardy-produced album (whose credits include working with The Rolling Stones, Kings of Leon, Oasis, and Johnny Cash) has a more primitive guitar revelling sound, with comparisons being made with fellow Scousers The La’s, and also a smidge of The Zutons if they were stuck doing growly, elemental, primitive rock versions of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever-era 1967
Hailing from North Wales, Owain Ginsberg thought nothing unusual of bringing his 8-track recording equipment and guitar wherever he chose to wander, be it the nearest forest or quarry. The creation of a band was the next obvious step, and the demo tracks that their rehearsals spawned have garnered them airplay on Radio 1. This track, from We Are Animal’s debut album Idolise, is a raw flurry of swooning synth, grinding Kasabian-esque guitar and high-note harmonies, with gyrating Kraftwerkian computer-error awkwardness. Paul Thomas Saunders, from Appleby Magna in Derbyshire, is influenced by Leonard Cohen, Joanna Newsom and Nick Drake amongst others. Seemingly wise beyond his 20 years on this planet, these cogent, self-recorded tracks from the basement of his home show a painstaking talent for his intimate, yet somewhat morbid and unconventional material. This track features finely flavoured, whiskey-gargled vocals that could strip metal, underpinning deliciously stark and graceful guitar work reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. by rj3an
INTRODUCING: Bleed Electric What is your band name and where did that come from? Bleed Electric is our band name and it stems from when I first formed the band as a solo project to literally bleed my emotions through the use of Electronic based music. Where are you guys all based and what does each of you do in the band (list is in order on the photo)? We are all currently based in Cardiff, Wales however I am relocating to New York City in November so our band will take a whole different level at that point! We all write, we all compose and we all produce the music we do. Traditionally Silk and Siege (left and right) Rap and I sing however that does change throughout our work. I also play guitar and bass and have added that live feel to many of our tracks (“So Sick” for example). Describe your music. What and who do you sound like? We like to call our music “Future Fresh” and we are a very genre spanning band however, at the core of every song is Hip-Hop. So one song might be Metal mixed with Hip-Hop and the next might be 80’s but there is always a Hip-Hop flava running through it all. What are the current plans for the band with regards to recording and touring? After spending over two years locked away in the studio, and about 4050 songs later we are in the final stages of our debut album. We have chosen the 19 tracks that will make the album and just need to work on the final mixes, masters and the artwork (because we do everything ourselves) - including our music videos. We aim to also have another EP out prior to the release of the album to showcase our music even further so people are ready for the album when it drops and know what to expect from us.
Where do you all hope to be in 5 years time? Hopefully touring the world by our third album and, if all goes according to plan our next albums are likely to be awesome and will take musical production experimentation to the levels of The Beatles at their most prolific. What bands are you currently listening to and can you recommend some to our readers? I am really hooked on Periphery at the moment and can’t get their debut album out of my CD player. I have also recently discovered the Kitsuné Maison compilation CD’s and have been enjoying listening to them while I work. Over the past few years some great bands I have really gotten into include People in Planes, The Dead Weather, Innerpartysystem, Underoath, Between the Buried and Me. The other boys are really into their Hip-Hop and have been digging on artists like Drake recently. That is what makes us so unique really is our completely mad and different influences that we all bring to the table. We just meld them all and that is one of the reasons our sound is very unique. How can we follow and connect with you (please provide links)? We are available on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter so take your pick and keep your eyes peeled for some new imagery and your ears peeled for some new music from us very soon! facebook.com/pages/Bleed-Electric/449669410202?ref=ts twitter.com/bleedelectric bleedelectric.com (re-directs to the Myspace) by altsounds
Making Music: TC Helicon VoiceTone Synth
Auto-tune, hard-tune, vocoder, and transducer floor pedal.
£250 Auto-tune has been all over music for a few years now and in the press of late for its use on X Factor and, for whatever reason, people seem to either really like the auto-tune effect or absolutely detest it. I am of the former and appreciate it for what it is, an additional instrument and effect that can be used to spruce up a recording. I am also a fan of the hard-tune, overly tuned sound that everyone in the pop / hip-hop world, from Kanye West to KE$HA have been using in their songs. That being said, I have heard the effect being misused by many, which is why a lot of people are probably tiring of it. Having experimented a lot with hard-tuning in my musical productions, until this pedal dropped on my doorstep I had never had the ability of using hard-tuning live or being able to use (and hear) the tuning during performance, as I was recording and within one second of plugging the TC Helicon VoiceTone Synth pedal in and messing around with some of the options I knew that this pedal was going to change everything for the people that love, embrace and use any form of auto-tune or vocoded vocals. Housed in a sturdy, attractive looking floor pedal unit, the main features of the TC Helicon Voicetone Synth are: • • • • •
need to select whether you will be singing major or minor, or, when both buttons are pressed this sets the pedal to auto / chromatic mode. Next up you have the “Lead Mix” knob which controls how much of the hard tuning comes through and how much is the original dry signal. For your T-Pain style hard-tuning you would want to crank this all the way to 10! Below that is the Hard-Tune button which offers the following options: • • • •
Uni - The setting most people will want to use Up - Puts your voice up an octave as it tunes Down - Puts your voice down an octave as it tunes Char 1 & Char 2 - Changes your voice as it tunes, makes you sound like a different person
Once that is all setup it can be used flawlessly on recordings and in a live setting, although it is worth noting that for live use it is recommended that you severely cup the microphone, particularly in big venues because otherwise some of the music coming out of the speakers will also get tuned and can cause some confusion for the pedal. I also advise using the “Tone” button on pretty much everything because it gives a great clarity and tone to the vocals that I haven’t been able to achieve through the use of any other effects. Now as with any instrument (that’s right I consider auto-tuned vocals, when done right to be an instrument) there will be times when you will be bored of the straight run of the mill hard-tuned, auto-tuned sound. When that time comes, the Vocoder and Transducer effects comes into play and, when the pedal truly comes into it’s own because, fiddling around with all of these options in various different combinations allows for (pretty much) limitless vocal effects. The Vocoder elements depth is controlled via the “Rez” knob. The pedal itself comes with four different synth sounds that get added to the auto-tune to turn it into a vocoder. There is a cool robot effect which works best when no notation is given to it and the piece that provides limitless options is the Instrument setting which allows you to plug in a synth (or other instrument) and use that as the vocoder element. Once you have vocoded your way through all the settings, next to try out is the Transducer effects which are controlled via the “Modify” knob. This offers two different sounding megaphone effects, two distortion effects and the much used and loved telephone and radio effects. Combine all of these options together and you quickly start creating some truly unique vocal sounds that if you so incline, can be saved as a preset with one click. With a 48V phantom power selection switch, this pedal is the perfect little hardware unit that is going to be impossible to replace and used in many scenarios. I demonstrated this pedal to hundreds of people and each and every one of them not only loved it after one second of using it but also wanted to get one and somehow incorporate auto-tune into their band! It makes live, auto-tuned vocals a reality for bands of pretty much every budget and will undoubtedly mean there will be a lot more auto-tune coming from all sorts of different angles. Exciting times! by altsounds
hard-tune, auto-tune pitch correction that can be coupled with various vocoder effects a carrier synth allowing you to create new vocoder sounds through the use of external synths transducer effects for distortion and megaphone type vocal effects 10 user-editable preset save slots USB connectivity for firmware updates, backups, transfers etc
From a connectivity standpoint the TC Helicon VoiceTone Synth has an XLR microphone input, an instrument jack in and thru for use with the carrier synth, and two XLR outputs (one for the dry signal, one for wet). Setting up was a breeze and although the unit came with 12V power, it did still work in my pedal board when it was being fed the traditional 9V used by most other pedals and all commercially available pedal boards. The TC Helicon VoiceTone Synth is specifically aimed for live and studio use and has some cool features that works well in both scenarios, with it being sturdy enough to withstand even the hardest sessions. Setting up was easy, just plug the chosen microphone into the pedal, raise the input gain so that the average volume turns the input light green and then connect the microphone out to your usual preamp or PA. The first thing I was eager to try was the hard-tune section of the pedal and, as you would expect, it is all controlled via particular musical scales so a little knowledge of music theory comes in very handy when trying to figure out the key of the song you will be hard-tuning over. Initially not available, chromatic tuning has now been added to the VoiceTone Synth and can be uploaded to your pedal via a firmware update that can be found on the TC Helicon product page. Pressing the “Key” button allows you to chose the letter of the musical key (C,D etc) and below that you then 58
THE LOWDOWN: Zach Myers of Shinedown “I love UK festivals man, they’re amazing!”
hinedown are not a meteoric band. Nor are they a band with thirty years of history and genre-defining material. What they are, however, gets my absolute respect as both a casual listener and a critic. They’re honest - and they portray that honesty with a certain artistic judgement that’s nothing but admirable.
It is! It’s really not great at all [laughs]
[Laughs] Oh no man! Some of my friends are over there right now.
Oh dear, sucks to be them then! [Laughs] [Laughs] Yeah!
What’s been going in your life recently then? Have you been busy?
A talented and ambitious quartet from homely Jacksonville, Shinedown have experienced an impressive string of successes within the twenty-first-century music scene. Fusing elements of hard rock, alternative, and bluesy post-grunge to form something considerably better than any of the genres on their own, the band have gone on to sell a staggering eight million records worldwide. They’re a band that everyone can predict overcoming even the greatest of hurdles - and with a fresh, vibrant, solely-acoustic tour coming up and a new album in the works, it’s hard to envisage such a prediction not coming true.
Oh yeah, we’ve been very busy. We’ve been winding down the Sound of Madness tour over the past three years. It’s one of those things after about three years of work, watching it come to an end is pretty cool man. I’m kind of excited, and nervous, and also sad.
You’ve also literally just started your first entirely acoustic tour with Shinedown, are you excited about that? Yeah man, it’s pretty cool being able to do that, so we’re all pretty excited.
We were lucky enough to catch up with guitarist Zach Myers for a chat.
What exactly inspired you to do that?
Well Brent’s voice just sounds so good accompanied by acoustic music. It’s also something really great for the fans, y’know? It’s gonna have a storyteller’s thrill-chill-relaxed kinda vibe. We’re really super stoked and looking forward to it, and we can’t wait to see what happens! It’s just gonna be a great chance for us to lay back and chill out.
Altsounds: Hey dude! How’s it going?
Zach Myers: Hey man. I’m good, it’s really hot here, but it’s all good.
Where are you at? We’re in Arizona.
Cool! How’s your day been so far man?
There’s also been talk of a new album possibly coming for 2011. Can you talk to me about that?
Really good man! I woke up about an hour ago, and I’m gonna go eat some lunch with Morgan Rose from Sevendust, so all is well! How is it over there?
I can! It probably won’t be out in 2011 in all honesty – it’ll probably come out in 2012. We’re gonna try and get back over to the UK then hopefully, at some point next year, even if that’s like, the only thing we do! We’d love to make it happen. But yeah, I’d say 2012
It’s good man, but it’s very cold! Oh, is it cold already?
will be when the album’s finalised.
Are you writing material at the minute? Or is that something you’re planning for the future?
We are kinda writing a little bit, we don’t normally write whilst we’re on the road, but we have been. Me and Eric have been writing a lot.
Are you sticking to your normal sound, or aiming for something perhaps slightly different?
I don’t know, and I don’t think we know yet. It’s one of those things you don’t really know until you get into the studio.
Do you write with an intention? Do you aim for a very particular sound, or is it more natural than that?
We don’t really write with an agenda. If we come up with something good, then great! If it’s a song that’s really good, then it’s gonna stick, y’know?
Of course! Now, a lot of bands nowadays are fuelled – pretty explicitly – by the “rockstar” lifestyle; the sex, the drugs and the booze. Is that something that you conform to as well?
No, we don’t at all [laughs]. We used to, and Brent has never shied away from the fact that he used to be a huge drug addict. He’s certainly not any more; none of us are alcoholics, and none of us have ex-wives. We’re all pretty sane dudes man – we’re pretty simple!
Cool! Your role within Shinedown has – you could say – somewhat altered over the years. How did these changes happen?
It was never really meant to happen that way to be honest [laughs] I joined, and then a couple of people in the band who we had to let go of, and I got pushed around a little, I mean I started on bass, then went to guitar, then to bass, then to guitar, to bass – totally back and forth. It just sort of happened like that and wasn’t in the cards or anything. That’s definitely how it happened.
Do you prefer guitar or bass? I prefer guitar, I’m a guitar player.
Good call. [Laughs]
You’re currently assuming the role of both rhythm and lead guitar. Is that a hindrance to you? Or would you say it helps to spread your wings musically?
Oh, no, it definitely makes it more fun. It gives me this situation where I can open up and do the things I wanna do for sure.
You’ve been joined on stage and toured with a number of other notable musicians – Phil Demmel for example. Is there a friendship between Shinedown and Machine Head?
Well yeah we’ve known those guys for a while. Phil is a great guy, and a great guitarist and we’re really close with him. It’s kinda cool to have him out with us, especially to come on stage with us, y’know?
Altsounds TV | Broadcasting Now www.altsounds.tv
You also manage as well as play, how exactly did you get into the management industry?
I don’t know man, but I wouldn’t really call myself in the 60
management ‘industry’ per se, I just found this one band that I truly believe in and decided to pick them up. They’re called Sore Eyes and to be honest man, I truly think they’re going to make it. I probably will never manage another band, because I don’t really want to. It puts a lot on your plate and you need to take a lot of time to do it. I really enjoy this band, and I enjoy what they do.
Cool! What was it about those guys that appealed to you?
They work hard. I also feel they have a great presence about them, they’re a really entertaining band, but most of all – they work hard. You need that in a band, you definitely need to have that.
What would you say the future holds for Shinedown?
I think we’re gonna go and make this other record and get back out there, we definitely don’t wanna be gone for too long.
Could we see you hitting some UK festivals next year perhaps? Maybe Download? Or Sonisphere?
Oh, I hope so for sure man. We love it over there. I definitely hope that’ll come to pass.
Good! [laughs] Do you like playing festivals, or do you prefer your own shows? I love UK festivals man, they’re amazing!
A massive, diverse range of music then!
Oh yeah dude, you’ve gotta listen to everything, you’ve gotta be open minded.
Would you say that diversity is reflected in your material? Yeah man, we all listen to just everything. It’s definitely one of those things we pride ourselves on. I think it definitely shows that we all have different influences too.
Who would you say your influences are as a musician? As a musician, The Edge, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page – basically just a bunch of different guitar players.
So would you say therefore that you have quite a bluesy outlook on your guitar playing? Absolutely man.
One last question here man! How would you define Shinedown’s style? If you were to sum up your band in just one word, what would you use? Honest.
Why would you choose that word?
I think it’s something we definitely pride ourselves on, being honest and being truthful and just being those kinda guys.
Better than the ones in America?
Ummm… [long pause] Yeah! The crowds are cooler!
Fantastic stuff. Thank you very much for your time!
Cool man, thank you very much! I appreciate it.
by Sam Hardy
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
“Which Door?” 61
ometimes, people take for granted that the knowledge they possess is also already in the minds of everybody else in the world. I am terrible for that as are many other people. After spending ridiculous amounts of hours on the web to bring you my multimedia creations and all the AltSounds.com greatness I realized that one thing that was lacking from it all was tips on how to do things. And so, ready for the launch of Issue One of the Altsounds Magazine, DIY is born and is my regular feature that will take each and every one of you from nobodies to complete musical successes! Now it ain’t gonna work for everyone but even if I help one band make a success from my column then I am a happy man. Some might not even make it all the way either but, if you give it the time that is needed then good things might (will) happen for you and your musical career.
Now this can often be harder than you think and, depending on your age can take quite a while to fulfil (teens and pre-teens have little to no money). At this point I would suggest working a job (even a paper round) to pay for it, persuade your favourite relative to buy it for you or any other legal, entrepreneurial endeavour that will get you enough money to get what you want and need to progress to the next step. For me, when I was at this point I had chosen guitar and waited until Christmas and got an Encore guitar with pocket practice amp from Argos thanks to Father Christmas. It was shit, but it didn’t matter, it allowed me to do what I needed, learn my craft.
Issue #1 | Starting a Band OK you are sat in your room and you are dreaming of being a rockstar. I mean it’s got to beat meat packing or working in the local factory and although you don’t have any musical ability you know of, you are pretty awesome on Guitar Hero. You also love music and feel like you have a good musical taste; many of your friends often rely on you to let them know about all the cool new bands out there and you are always buying records, making mixtapes or just plain stealing music off the internet. But how do you go from being music lover to rockstar?
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR ROLE WISELY
Many people take this for granted and, although not set in stone, this single decision you make right now will affect you ability to make a success of this later on down the line. To make the right choice here you really need to know yourself. There is no point wanting to be a drummer if you have no rhythm, or aiming to be a singer if you are tone deaf. Be true to yourself and know what instrument or role suits you. It might be at this moment also that you realize that in fact you don’t have the minerals and should consider being a manager or a roadie or whatever else. Either way, be completely honest with yourself and your abilities and choose wisely because often, many artists never get to revoke this one decision that they make right here, right now.
It is at this point though that I must stress that you spend as much as you can right now and make the right choices right now because ultimately, if you are serious you will be upgrading anyway in the future so you may aswell take the initial plunge now. Good ways to do this are to look at what your favourite bands are playing. For example, mine at the time was Nirvana and I wanted a Fender Stratocaster and a Boss Overdrive pedal because that is what Kurt used. It took me about two years to be able to get it but just know what you want to be playing and how you are going to get it. It is also worth noting that an instrument is also a fashion accessory and so, if you are into fashion in any way you need to be sure that the instrument you will be playing will summarize your individuality. Before you purchase any instrument you need to try it out and look at the bigger picture too. Listed below are the things you will require at minimum based on your band role above. Again to save space I will focus on the roles of a traditional rock band, but this can be true of any instrument:
Guitar / Bass:
Essential: A Guitar / Bass / A Strap / Picks / Multiple 20 ft Cables / Amplifier / Tuner Optional: Strap Locks / Spare Strings / Guitar Case / Effects Pedals / Backup Guitar / Wireless Kit
And with that, it is decided you are going to be (delete as appropriate):
Essential: Drumkit / Drum Throne / Sticks / Cymbals / Kick (Double Kick) Pedal / Hardware / Tuner / Drum Key Optional: Cases / Drum Rug / Drum Mic Set
Lead Singer / Lead Guitarist / Rhythm Guitarist / Bassist / Drummer / DJ / Keyboardist / Horn Player / String Player etc
Essential: Quality Live Vocal Mic / Multiple Long Mic Cables Optional: PA / Vocal Effects
There are, of course many more instruments and roles you could take up but if I listed them all we would be here all night! So... you have decided what you think you will honestly and truly be great at so what now?
So, here you are, you have invested the right amount of money and have everything you need, with instrument in hand and raring to go. What next?
STEP 2: BUY YOUR CHOSEN INSTRUMENT AND STEP 3: LEARN YOUR CHOSEN INSTRUMENT SPEND AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AFFORD OK, so you have decided what you are going to be, the next step is to go 63
You would be surprised how many people get to this point and try
and skip this step. Step three is usually (depending on your abilities) going to take you one year minimum and there are varied ways to go about it. The traditional route is to go on the internet or pull out the yellow pages and look for tutors in your chosen instrument. The second, and the way I decided to go is to learn to play through the music of your favourite bands. When I decided to learn the guitar, I started with really really simple songs like “Love Me Do” by The Beatles and “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals which later lead me on to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and now even Tool and far beyond that. The point here is to start easy. There is really no point in starting by learning Dragonforce, I mean after 15 years of playing I still can’t play Dragonforce and probably never will - these guys are the cream of the crop. That’s not to say you won’t, the point is that it will take time to get there. For me in general and regardless of the role you have picked I would suggest that if you will be learning alone that you learn the basics from The Beatles. Learn to play 10 The Beatles songs and then move on to another band and learn another 10 from them and learn them all to the point that you can play them without sheet music.
Put down your air guitar, it’s time to grab a piece of the real deal. With this awesome collection of royalty free guitar samples, dbPimps have made sure you’ll have everything you need to inject your productions with some rock’n’roll attitude. Whether you’re looking for some smooth licks to bring your productions to life or some chugging rhythm to give your track some backbone, you’ll find it all in Loopmaster’s Lick Me guitar pack. With influences coming from Metal, Ambient Metal, Classic Rock, Funky Wah, Dirty Death Riffs, Country, Tapping, as well as some effects noises, this collection has it all. You’ll have over 1GB of pristine 24-bit guitar loops and sounds between 90 and 180bpm at your disposal, grouped into tempo categories for your convenience. Lick Me guitars is comprised mostly of short riffs, assorted lead lines, rhythm lines with various distortion effects, and some atmospheric sounds, with loops reminiscent of everyone from Hendrix to Slayer and Metallica.
At this point you should be spending a minimum of one hour with your chosen role every day. Before you go an hang out with friends get your work in as later on down the line, what you put in now will be very handy. A year has passed and can now 50 songs at Where to now?
No matter what genre you’re into, the samples in this collection will leave your tracks a cut above the rest. Whether you like your rock guitars aggressive, funky, or somewhere in between, you’ll find out for yourself that you’re spoilt for choice with this collection. Comprised of over 700 WAV and 702 REX2 loops, you’ll be lost in a purple haze of royalty-free guitar sample bliss. Lick Me guitars is also available in Apple Loops format. So if you want that little extra something to help your tracks rock out with a six-stringed snarl of their own, grab a copy of Organic Loops “Lick Me” Guitars today.
now you play will. go
BUY NOW FROM LOOPMASTERS.COM
STEP 4: FIND LIKE MINDED BAND MEMBERS 64
THIS ISSUES FEATURED ARTIST: Chris “MUG5” Maguire | helloiamchris.com
Now this step is no different than finding friends or a girlfriend or whatever other relationship you will have in life, it can take time or it can just happen. When you are ready to find a band you will be surprised at how ready a band will be to find you too. Go to gigs, meet people, hang out down the park and talk with people that you don’t know already. I mean if you already knew a band worth of people you wouldn’t need to find them now would you?! When you find a potential opportunity, be flexible. If they want you to audition at their house right now using their guitar to show what you can do, go do it and this is where Step 3 becomes very important. If you have paid enough attention to Step 3 you will have all these dudes with their jaws on the floor at your skills waiting to sign you up for their band. If you are not that social a person other alternatives would be newspapers and musical related publications that offer Classified ads. Also consider posting things online on free websites like Craigslist or anywhere else that you can advertise your want to join a band and your availability as an instrumentalist. I guess you could even revert to searching for “find band member Cardiff (substitute for your city)” in Google. This can be a tricky one and can take some time and might involve multiple auditions because much like finding a woman, here you are not only looking for people that want someone that plays the instrument you do, but they and you are also looking for people that are into similar music and are looking to play music of a certain genre. No point a punk guitarist going to audition for a metal band or a metal drummer going to audition for a pop band. Know what music you want to be playing and find other band members that also want the same thing. As mentioned above this can be time consuming and it might take a while for you to find the right people. I mean did you end up with your wife the first person you went out with? Rarely, it takes time and a natural selection process and be sure that on this search you are true to yourself. If you are not feeling it move on to another band and find something else until you do gel because the aim here is to be a rockstar and you can only achieve that when you are truly 150% passionate about the music you are making.
STEP 5: FIND A PLACE TO PRACTICE Well if you have followed me this far, you are well on your way to superstardom. The final piece of the Issue #1 puzzle is to secure a practice space. Some people practice in their garage, their attic, a local church or wherever else you can make a shit load of racket. Others spend £10-20 a week on hiring out a professional rehearsal space. Whatever works really but STEP 5 is pretty much STEP 3 but for a group of people. Now you are together you need to learn what each other can do and how you can gel and do all this together. The best way to do this (usually) is to start by playing covers, by bands you love, until your fingers and your ears bleed and the police are called on you for noise pollution.
“The Altsounds Universe | Part II”
Only then are you ready to move on to DIY Issue #2. by altsounds 65
s an Altsounds journalist I take photos of live shows in my area. Usually the bigger ones that have limited press coverage and take some connections to get into. The best show I have covered so far was probably the 30 Seconds To Mars show in Boston. I arranged it so that the whole show could be photographed instead of just the first 3 songs. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in the pit for any of the songs, but I still got to shoot the whole show! The lighting was good, but it was quite difficult to deal with. It would go from some deep blues, to blasting white strobes to red backlights. I was thankful because if it wasn’t for the lifted 3 song limit my photos wouldn’t have been as good as they ended up being.
STAFF SHOWCASE Scott “Scotty” Eisen
Official Altsounds Photographer / Journalist
A Day To Remember
Scott Eisen’s Photography Tips: • • • •
Be respectful to the other photographers in the pit. Don’t go jumping in their way when they are working. Don’t go in the pit, and dance to the music and sing and then shoot like 2 photos the whole time. If you’re there to shoot photos, shoot photos. Be friendly and network yourself with the other people there. Some of my closest friends are my competition. Tips for shooting a concert would be, shoot MANUAL mode. None of this Automatic or AV nonsense. Don’t let the camera think for you, it’s not usually right. Figure out the highest ISO setting you’re comfortable with on the camera and remember that setting when you’re shooting in low light. Set your lens to the widest aperture (the lowest number) and go from there.
Scott Eisen’s Recommended Startup Setup: An ideal beginners setup would be in my opinion, a Canon 7D body with a fast wide angle lens, and a fast telephoto lens. It’s not going to break the bank, but it’s not going to be cheap either. If you’re serious, you need to invest in yourself.
“I have my eye on the next Canon body coming out, the 1Ds Mark IV. I need a new studio camera!”
Full Name: Scott Eisen Nick Name: Scotty Age: Irrelevant! Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Recommended Band: Go Radio Recommended Album: Do Overs and Second Chances Recommended Song: Goodnight Moon
“I shoot all Canon, but with that said, I don’t believe Canon is better than Nikon or vise-versa, it’s all personal preference. I am invested in the Canon system, so I have no reason to do Nikon. But what I currently use for the concert scene is:” Camera Bodies: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 5D Mark II for the camera bodies, and if I’m doing studio work I have a Canon 1Ds Mark III. Lenses: The lenses I use are all Canon and vary amongst the following: 16-35mm 2.8L Mark II, 24-70mm 2.8L, 70-200mm 2.8L IS, 85mm 1.2L Mark II, 200mm 2.0L IS, 300mm 2.8L IS, 400mm 2.8L IS. “You’re probably looking at those two huge super telephotos on Google and wondering, what the hell? Well some of the bigger shows I do (Lady Gaga, Muse etc) you have to shoot from a soundboard over 500 feet from stage, and you need the big, fast glass. For most concert situations, from the pit, I’m using the wide angle lenses, 24-70 or 16-35 on one camera body, and then the 70-200 on another body. I never ever use flash. It ruins the photos. It really does.”
Black Eyed Peas
Post Processing: I shoot in RAW format with my cameras, and run them through Adobe Lightroom 3. I don’t really edit them that much except for fixing the colour balance and stuff like that.
THE LOWDOWN: Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate “Coming from being that fifteen year old kid on that stage, I’d have to say I’ve done pretty well for myself!”
f all the young, fresh and heavy bands that have captivated the music industry’s last decade, Escape The Fate have governed even the elite. Starting as just four eager and unsullied teenagers driven by the same ambition that has caused the formation of every rock’n’roll band in history, the hardcore quartet have come leaps and bounds from their homely origins. Splitting audiences like Marmite and causing quite the stir when ex-frontman Ronnie Radke was jailed long-term, Escape The Fate have made a considerable impression on the modern music scene. Quickly replacing Radke with the incontrovertibly popular Craig Mabbitt, the band powered on to widespread and almost commercial success. Now, the band are ready to hit the world with their latest, self-titled release. Following a climatic build up of two expectant years and promising a new musical maturity, fetching melodies and impressive guest appearances, their upcoming offering is set to rock and sink the boat within which their fans comfortably reside. We caught up with lead vocalist Craig Mabbitt for a chat.
Hey dude! What up Altsounds! What’s going down? Everything’s good here man, how’re things going with you? Y’know everything’s going great dude, I’m just dandy. Have you had a good day? Well, it’s been a long day… We just did a Hot Topic signing, and I just bought myself a new wallet! But last night I had to get some stitches, and that’s not fun.
ues to go. Does the song reflect the rest of the material on the album? Well, the first single we released was ‘Massacre’, and the second one is ‘Issues’, and as you can see they both have similarities. But at the same time, they’re both completely different songs. That’s kinda how the whole record is – it has a one directional sound to it, but there’s definitely a little something for everyone on it.
That sucks dude, hope it all clears up for you soon. Thanks man!
The self-titled release, for most bands, is usually a considerably meteoric release. Is this the case for Escape The Fate? Why did you choose to have this album self-titled? We chose to have this album self-titled pretty much because we’ve felt like the first two CD’s were just intro CD’s, y’know? This feels like we’re a complete band now. We’ve also just signed to a new record label and it’s gonna be our first major label release, and we just figured now would be our perfect time to go self-titled.
So, you’ve just released your second single from your upcoming album, ‘Issues,’ can you talk to me a bit about that? It seems to be doing really well, I’ve been hearing a lot of good feedback from radio stations all across the country. We’ve also got a video coming out for it pretty soon, and overall it’s been pretty positive so far. I guess we’ll just have to see how it contin-
Like you said, you just moved to a new label. Why did you choose to make the switch, and why now? We’ve been touring for a while now, and working our asses off, and to be honest we didn’t really look into it. We just started hearing that these labels were interested. We figured it’d be a great way to get our music out there and for more
Oh, what happened there? These dudes were getting out of an elevator and I got a surfboard to the face like a baseball bat. I had to get all these stitches and shit, go through all these long medical forms, you know how it is.
people to hear it – and if that’s the way we get our message out, then so be it man. What was the writing process like for the new album? Well we’ve been writing this new album since we released the last one, so when we’ve been on the road and on tour, Monte would put all his guitar parts together, and I’d then listen to it and write some stuff. When we began to actually talk about recording, we just sat down, pieced everything together and finalised everything. When you write, do you have an intention in mind? Do you sit down with a song and say ‘we want this to be really heavy’, or do you guys just jam whatever you’re feeling? There are a few songs on the record that are just jam songs, that we just came up with in a practice space together. For example, “The Guillotine III: The Aftermath”, which is gonna be on the record, is one we definitely just jammed. But we also had the intention that it was gonna be a third part, so I guess in that sense we had a plan. But for the most part it’s definitely like you said, we’re sort of like “what song shall we write next? Shall we do a poppy song, or shall we do a heavy song?” Y’know? Then we’ll all sit down and listen to it.
“I draw inspiration from everything in my life.”
As the vocalist, do you write lyrics for the songs? Yeah, I do all the melodies and lyrics. Everything that people are singing out of their mouths live? All me buddy.
and I talk to the singer and guitarist of Drive A and they seem like really cool dudes. It’s still the beginning of the tour, so we’ll see how it goes, but so far so good man.
It’s all your genius? All me dude.
Is there any reason why you chose Bullet For My Valentine and the other guys to tour with? Well the offer was on the table, and we definitely thought playing with Bullet would be a great opportunity, especially for the fans who like that kind of music. We have a lot of their kinda songs on the new record, like a heavy rock or metal. We thought it would be a very good opportunity for those who haven’t heard of the band or know what we’re made of really. We took Black Tide out for our last tour, and when we found out they were on it, we were just fucking super excited.
Do you draw any particular inspiration from anyone in terms of lyricism? I draw inspiration from everything in my life. Everybody in my life. No matter how big and important or how small. I like writing a song and listening back to it, feeling what I felt when I wrote the song. I get a lot of inspiration from my own life, and my life consists of a lot of different people, and a lot of different things. You’ve also got Mick Mars of Motley Crüe contributing to your new album! How did that come about? Oh yeah dude! We got word that Mick might wanna work with us, ‘cos we worked with Josh Todd from Buckcherry on Ten Miles Wide, and we did the Crüe Fest with Motley. I guess Motley heard the song and really liked it, and so wanted to work with us. So we met up with Mick and Monte jammed with him for a little bit and came out with a few songs. I think the song they jammed together is on the record, but I’d have to ask Monte about that. It was pretty much all guitar work so I don’t know off the top of my head which track it was, I just do the lyrics. But Mick was a really, really cool guy – very laid back and down-to-earth. Guitar God almost, obviously. It was really awesome to work with him.
You’re also hitting up two UK tours at the end of your tour this year, do you have any plans to return next year? Oh yeah definitely, we’ll definitely be coming back. We knew we were coming out to Europe with Bullet real close to Christmas, and we wanted to make at least one stop and play at least one or two shows, in London – the big cities in the UK. So we really wanted to stop by and play before we took off for Christmas. We’ll be home for the holidays and then after that we’re gonna head out on the headlining tour. We’re going to go through the US, and the plan is to make it a world headlining tour. We’re gonna hit the US, the UK, Europe and Japan. That’s what I think we wanna do, so hopefully that’s what comes about. I think the US headline will start in the second week or so in January, and will maybe last a month or two… so by the looks of it we might be coming back to the UK around spring time, maybe March or April.
Would you say there are similarities between Escape The Fate and Motley Crüe? Yeah, there are a lot of similarities. Obviously music-wise, there is a difference. Times change, people change, y’know? We’re very similar in what we’re about - music, rock’n’roll, having a good time, and even the look is similar. I think if you took Motley Crüe and made it so that those guys were born in the 80’s and grew up, I think Escape The Fate would be a lot like how they’d turn out.
So now you’re a band with your own world headlining tour! Would you say that’s a sign of you ‘making it’? Wow, that’s a hard question to answer… I guess it all depends on what you mean by ‘making it’. When I first wanted to be in a band, I looked up to local bands in the area, and I thought then that ‘making it’ would be just headlining a show. So the first time I played like, a 100-cap room, I thought I’d made it. Then when I got signed, I thought I’d made it. So when do you really make it? I’ve certainly had a lot of good things, I’ve been blessed and incredibly lucky, and if it all ended tomorrow, I’d be happy. I’d be happy with what I’ve accomplished. Coming from being that fifteen year old kid on that stage, I’d have to say I’ve done pretty well for myself. Obviously, making a platinum record and being U2 would be pretty fucking awesome as well [laughs].
Interesting thought man. So, how’s touring going at the minute? Touring’s going really well actually, all the shows have been great and we’ve been having a really, really good time. Everything’s gone really smoothly, which is almost unheard of on Escape The Fate tours [laughs]. Everyone’s usually got something to complain about. All the guys on the tour are really great guys too. I still haven’t met every single person on the tour yet. But I often talk with the bassist from Bullet [For My Valentine], he’s a great guy. Black Tide are a bunch of friends of ours, 68
[Laughs] On that note, what do you think the future holds for Escape The Fate? All I see us doing is being sixty years old, walking around the VMA’s, still playing shows with our saggy balls. That’s what I’m hoping for. I wanna be rocking out, I want all of us to be old, I wanna still see loyal kids that are fans of the band because we’re playing music they love, and most of all I wanna see all the other sixty year old’s that used to come to the shows back in the day – rockin’ out with their saggy balls. So just a big saggy ball parade? [Laughs] [Laughs] Yeah man! We’ll all have a good ol’ saggy rockin’ time together. Sounds strangely brilliant. [laughs] So, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever had happen on stage? Craziest thing I’ve ever had happen on stage? Hmm. There have been loads of insane incidents, we’re always hitting our faces or falling over or something like that, so if you count that then yeah, we’ve had a bunch of crazy shit happen. But if you mean ‘crazy’ as in us doing something we don’t usually do, I’d say it happened in Perth, Australia and I dared Max to play completely naked. I also stripped down to just my boxers, but I had a cast on at the time so it was kinda awkward. Haha! How did the audience react to that? Oh, the women were going fucking crazy. But I have no idea what the guys were thinking, probably “what the fuck kinda show did I come to?” [Laughs] But Motley Crüe did a similar kinda thing, and dudes dig them. Very true. On a slightly different tangent, what are your thoughts on Internet piracy nowadays? Does it bother you that people could be downloading your music without paying for it? You know, it bothers me as a new artist. I’m sure it’s affected artists who worked back in the day, before this all came about, but it’s kinda different for me. As a kid, being in a band, we’d put our shit up online and it really does suck when people download your music for free ‘cos obviously that’s how we pay our bills nowadays. It’s so hard for an artist to sell a bunch of records these days. If someone has a Gold record, it’s almost like they’ve actually got a Platinum record, because who knows how many records they would’ve sold without Internet piracy? But would we modern artists even be that big without people downloading our music through the Internet? It’s definitely a love-hate relationship; a definite double-edged sword. Some people consider the hardcore scene a trend as opposed to a genre. To what extent would you agree with this? To be honest, I think all music types are trends – I don’t think that’s just one type of music. If you think it’s a trend, you probably don’t think it’s big any more, this and that, but if you think about it, you could also call punk rock a trend. I mean, where are the huge punk rock bands these days minus Green Day and Rise Against? I just think people should listen to the music they like, and I don’t think people should judge others for it. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Obviously a lot of people like the hardcore thing right now, so why not just let it be? So why did you choose to pursue a career within the metal scene? And why not anywhere else? When I was in my first band, I had no idea what kind of band I wanted to be in. I just wanted to be in a band, and I wanted us to be good. When I first started I wanted to play stuff like Linkin Park, The Used, shit like that, y’know? I remember starting to like the singy-scream thing, and as our band started to play more shows, I started to get this awareness of other local bands that were doing the same kinda thing. Then, all of a sudden, it was called ‘Emo’ music. I have no idea what that means, but I guess that’s just the kinda music I started playing. I now have so many different songs out there, I just don’t even care man. I just love music. I listen to so many different kinds of music, so why not make loads of different kinds of music, y’know? I’ll sing on any type of record dude, metal, pop, hardcore, techno, even fucking country dude. There, I said it. [Laughs] [Laughs] So what do you like to listen to in your spare time? What do you have on your iPod? Lately? 70
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of different artists – a lot of BAB, a lot of Dethklok and a lot of music by the lead singer of From First To Last – he’s been doing some dubstep stuff recently, and it’s really great, I’ve really been enjoying it. That’s a pretty diverse selection of music you can appreciate there. Yeah man, I just really love music. If you can write a song that’s catchy and it gets stuck in my head and makes me dance, you’re a fucking artist. I appreciate every style of music. Whilst with BlessTheFall, quite a while ago, you encountered some troubles with alcohol. Do you still face those battles today? I do man. I’m a lot better than I used to be. I’m just one of those dudes that would just go out and get piss-drunk, and be a total asshole. I loved going out, being social and having a few drinks with people, but sometimes there are just people who can’t handle it. I handled it for quite a while, and I had a good time just drinking a lot, but it just suddenly got bad. I didn’t want to stop because I just enjoyed it so much. I had to give myself a little break for a while, learn my own limits, and I’m doing a lot better with it today. I’m glad to hear that man. So how do you deal with the press being in your life? Is it something you enjoy? It’s definitely a really cool thing, and very surreal. It’s one of the things I always hoped and dreamed would happen, and it’s really cool to see it actually happening. Of course, we’re all human beings, and we have our bad days. I feel bad sometimes if I don’t look like I’m in the happiest of moods when I’m meeting fans and stuff, they’ll be like “Yo dude, you alright? How’s it going!?” and you just don’t feel like talking... I do my best to keep my cool because obviously they come to see us for a reason. I got to meet my favourite band when I was a kid, and they were just dicks to me. I felt really bummed. But all the local bands I grew up with were always really supportive, helping me get into the music scene and stuff. I really appreciate that, and I always have done. Some of the guys I grew up admiring have now said I’m an influence on them, and that blows my mind. I always try and be as nice as I can ‘cos I never know who I’m talking to, this kid who loves my music might one day end up on tour with me. Finally, can you tell us something interesting about yourself that people might be surprised to know? Hmm… Hey, [addresses unnamed person beside him, we weren’t introduced], what’s something people might be surprised to know? You know me pretty well.
Friend: I think a lot of people think you’re different to how you actually are, because you’re in a band. But really, you’re just a normal guy. You do all the things they do. [back to Altsounds] Yeah, at the end of the day, I’m a fucking fan too dude. I’m a big softie. Okay, cool man! Word!
by Sam Hardy
PACKING HEAT: The Kickdrums A look into the technical world of The Kickdrums, their music and how it is made.
Name: The Kickdrums (Alex & Matt) Hometown: Brooklyn, NY - Cleveland, OH Nationality: America’s most wanted. Age: 28
What is your chosen microphone for performing live? I can pretty much work with whatever is on stage. I’m more worried about the monitor mix.
Live Equipment Spec: Fender Stratocaster (Hot rod deluxe amp), Fender Telecaster (Vox AC Custom Amp), Fender Jazz Bass (Ampeg amp), Hoyt drums (Bubinga wood snare), Ableton live, Novation Launch Pad, Akai MPK25, MIDI Keyboard, Laptop.
Do you or your sound guy use any additional vocal processing, if so what and for what? Not really. Just some light compression and reverb. The club’s here in NYC take their front of house pretty seriously and do a great job for the most part.
Additional Studio Spec: Nord Lead 3, Motif, Fantom, MPC 2000XL, Mackie HR824, Shure KSM44, SM57’s, PreSonus Eureka, Pro Tools.
What microphone do you use most whilst recording? Shure KSM 44...’ole reliable
Worst live and recorded moment? Live: We did a show in Ohio that was so bad it was basically the catalyst for moving to NYC. The last straw so to speak....
What additional work is done on your vocals? I compress my vocals quite a bit but I would NEVER use auto-tune. Reverb is a must. Possibly some delay if the part calls for it. Pretty typical stuff I suppose.
Recorded: Can’t really think of anything in particular as far as we are concerned, but we worked at a studio as engineers a long time ago together and there were plenty of funny / awkward / surreal moments working that job
Number one tip you can give wannabe vocalists? I would say, just write songs that you can pull off live. Don’t write really low parts or parts that’ll make you run outta breath on stage.
What gear do you wish you had and why? I’d love to add some really nice microphone pre-amp’s to my rig, like some legit API’s or something and some sick outboard reverbs.
Self taught or tutor taught vocally? Self taught. But Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Cars and Trent Reznor showed me what’s up everyday on my walkman.
What do you plan on purchasing next to better yourself technically? Please explain why. I really wanna get those front end pre-amp’s. I’ve been getting by with what I have & I LOVE my Eureka, but that’s the one thing I think could improve the sound for only a few grand. Besides that, Pro Tools HD would be nice. Most times I run outta tracks and have to start a second session, then have to bounce between the two which can be pretty time consuming.
What is the first thing you learnt to sing? Would definitely be “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. What is the last thing you learnt to sing? We’re doing a cover for Linkin Park right now. The songs called “Waiting For The End”. What is your favourite live performance ever? 71
Pro-tools LE 7.4.2. I still need to upgrade to 8.0. What mixer / audio interface do you use? I use a Mackie 1402 for monitoring and I mix in Pro-tools just using the mouse. What do you use for drum recording? Please include instruments, mic choices, plug-ins, samples etc. We sample a lot of drums mainly but when we do incorporate live drums someone else usually handles the engineering. What do you use for guitar/bass recording? Please include details of amps, plug-ins, audio interfaces, mics, guitars, pickups, cabs etc
Our show with Innerpartysystem at Webster Hall over the summer was awesome! What is your favourite recorded performance ever? Funny you should ask because we recorded that same show.
Guitar: What guitar(s) do you play, why did you choose them and what roles do each play in your setup? Fender Stratocaster...I love Stratocaster’s and have been playing them my whole life. What amplification and speaker cabinets do you use? Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Do you use effects pedals? If so please list out some of your floor effects and why you use them? Just basic stuff like the DS-1 for distortion, DD-7 digital delay, Option 5 rotator, and TU-3 Tuner. Our live guitar player Daniel Weiss has a lot more than me. Any specific strings, straps, cables or tuners etc worth mentioning, if so why? Ernie Ball strings and monster cables are dope. Do you use this setup whilst recording or do you use a digital setup (e.g. Line 6)? Yeah, I use the same setup for both live & recording. Sometimes I will use a different amp like a Fender Twin in the studio. Number one tip you can give wannabe guitarists? It’s not how many notes you play, it’s the feeling behind them. Self taught or tutor taught? Self taught fo’ sho’. Picks or fingers? If picks what is your chosen choice and gauge of pick? Picks and I prefer a heavy gauge. I demolish those thin ones!
Production Details: What do you use for physically recording?
Guitar: I use a Fender Stratocaster with a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amplifier. I usually just use a Shure SM57 microphone but sometimes I’ll place various condenser mics around the room to create a better sense of space. The front end compressor is the Eureka set to a light 3:1 Then I’ll add more compression afterwords in Pro-tools (usually an API 2500 plug-in). Also I may use some additional reverb because sometimes I use the verb on the amp, sometimes I don’t. Bass: I have a Fender Jazz bass that I run directly into the Mackie board. Then I’ll use a plug-in like Guitar Rig to improve the tone. Vocals? What mics, plug-ins, effects, compression do you use? KSM 44, API 2500 plug-in for compression, Guitar Rig spring verb. Self taught or tutor taught with regards to your production skills? Self taught but we both went to a vocational engineering school for three months in Chillicothe, Ohio called The Recording Workshop. I knew a lot before I got there but they helped clear up anything I didn’t already know. What is the first thing you ever produced? I started out producing a lot of beats. Like, up tempo Drum n’ Bass then started working on a lot of Hip-Hop. The first thing I ever produced was a 3 song instrumental EP using The Boss 202 Dr. Rhythm that I got from a guy my sister was dating at the time. I spent weeks programming everything and practicing because each song was pretty much a live performance. I had to change each sequence at the right time and then manipulate different sounds at specific moments while I was recording the songs onto tape. Man, I’d give ANYTHING to have that tape. What is, in your opinion the best thing you ever produced? I would have to say a song off the new album called, “Travel Should Take You Places.” I think other producers will appreciate that track. What is the last thing you produced? A track with Rza named “Musical Chairs” and a Good Charlotte remix of “Like it’s Her Birthday”. What do you watch, read etc to better yourself technically? I don’t read too much about studio stuff but I love anytime I come across a mix magazine or something like that. I just work everyday in the studio and figure things out on my own. Number one tip you can give wannabe producers? Start with a computer based program (like Propellerhead’s Reason). They’re cheap and you can actually make some cool tunes with them. That way you don’t waste money on expensive gear only to find out your not into it as much as you thought you were. by altsounds 72
CLOSE-UP: Avenged Sevenfold “Like ‘em or not, Avenged Sevenfold are one of the greatest metal bands the world has ever seen. ”
ince their formation back in 1999, the Californian born Avenged Sevenfold have always been a strong talking point. Together they bring a unique style of melody through their instrumentation and the vocals of M Shadows. The band consisted of five members, M Shadows, Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance, Johnny Christ and The Rev for 10 solid years until Jimmy Sullivan (The Rev) tragically died late 2009.
accompany Zacky Vengeance. The band re-recorded the opening track to their début album “To End The Rapture” and the change in the song was very apparent. The guitar in the new version was predominantly played by Gates and can be noted for it’s extremely complex and fast melody that didn’t appear on the rest of the album. Since this song, this newly forged sound has become a signature feature of Gates to include these complex, fast and yet beautiful guitar parts in their songs.
The first few months of Avenged Sevenfold’s career consisted of line up changes, confusion over the name and negative response from audiences. Originally the band consisted of Matt Sanders (M Shadows) vocals, Zachary Baker (Zacky Vengeance) guitar, Jimmy Sullivan on drums and Matt Wendt on Bass guitar. The band chose to perform using nicknames that they had been using since they were at school together to give the band a slightly darker edge. They collectively decided to come up with five band names each and chose to use the best one. Shadows was the only person to attempt this and after scouring through the bible he came up with the name Avenged Sevenfold, a name referencing the biblical chapter of Genesis and in particular, the story of Cain and Abel.
Avenged Sevenfold toured America and throughout this tour they began to gain success across the country. They were not making any money and had to put restrictions on transport and food just so they could continue to tour. Avenged Sevenfold toured with new bassist Dameon Ash and, when they returned to Orange County they were regarded as kings despite the original distaste for the band. Clubs that had rejected the band before were now keen to let them play. They played on the Take Action Tour, along with other bands such as Shadows Fall and The Dillinger Escape Plan and there was no doubt that Avenged Sevenfold deserved to move from the minor Good Life Recordings to a less minor but still independent label, Hopeless Records. Before the move the band had gotten rid of another bassist, this time choosing Jonathon Seward (Johnny Christ) as their fourth and permanent bassist. Johnny Christ has been the permanent bassist ever since.
Avenged Sevenfold began to play at local clubs in Orange County but failed to see much positive feedback from the local audiences. They began to record demos to send to record labels in an attempt to finally get noticed. Their début EP consists of the single “Warmness on the Soul,” which contrasted with the heaviness of the rest of the EP although it still remains to be a fantastic song. Avenged Sevenfold was signed by Good Life Recordings and the début album Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet was released when the members were just 18 and still in school. Avenged Sevenfold then got rid of Matt Wendt and brought in Justin Sane as a replacement to play the Bass as well as the piano. Along with Sane they also brought in Brian Haner (Synyster Gates) as a lead guitarist to 73
In 2003 Avenged Sevenfold released their first album on Hopeless Records, Waking the Fallen. Two singles, “Unholy Confessions” and “Second Heartbeat” were taken from this album, both of which appeared on the bands live DVD and they even played “Unholy Confessions” for most dates of their recent Nightmare tour. The music saw a change from Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, and people across America and the rest of the world appreciated these changes. They saw it as a more mature album and thought that the new line up helped them to write
much better songs. M Shadows continued to scream on this album but there was a lot more singing present aswell. Allegations about M Shadows having problems with his throat began to occur. The band toured again and performed at many large events such as the Vans Warped Tour. Avenged Sevenfold performed on Warped Tour again the following year where the video for “Unholy Confessions” was recorded. There was much more appreciation for Avenged Sevenfold on this tour and they amazingly managed to make some money. Major record labels were eager to snatch up the new sounding Avenged Sevenfold and help mould them into one the biggest bands the world has seen in quite a while. Warner Bros. Records were the major record label that won the bidding war for Avenged Sevenfold and they began to produce their third album. It turns out that everything prior to this was just setting the scene for the real Avenged Sevenfold. They were now on a major label and had an extensive fan base across America and Europe who were eagerly awaiting the next album. The challenge was to please all these fans, but could they rise to the challenge? YES! In 2005 City of Evil was released and people across the world couldn’t help but be amazed by it. Instead of a short intro (like the other albums), the ensemble of instruments just came in straight away, and they didn’t stop amazing throughout. Drum fills from The Rev that even drummers who can play the beats are still amazed by, Bass guitar from Johnny Christ that sends a buzz through your body and gets your heart pounding. And the guitar. I’m not a guitarist but I can listen to this and just be amazed. The duo of Gates and Vengeance offers such a high standard of playing it has never been heard before and any attempts to try and copy it would just be futile as it would be damn near impossible. Brian Haner Senior makes an appearance on “Sidewinder”. A lack of screaming all together on this album led to further beliefs that Shadows had damaged his throat, but he had said from the start he wanted to do one screaming album, then one half screaming, half singing album and then change to singing. He received vocal training from Ron Anderson who has also coached Axl Rose, the long standing Guns & Roses frontman. Avenged Sevenfold won best new artist at the 2006 MTV awards beating Rihanna, Chris Brown, Panic at the Disco, Angels and Airwaves and James Blunt. A truly magnificent album to match a truly magnificent career thus far. Between City of Evil and the following album came All Excess, the bands documentary which came in as the number 1 DVD in the US. This featured the band telling the camera how they became what they are today. This “Close-up” feature is brief and only says what has happened in a summarized way but I would seriously recommend watching this if you want to learn about the way Avenged Sevenfold worked up to this point. The DVD features the band on stage with the giants, Metallica and M Shadows has said the best thing about his career was meeting his idols. Other band documentaries have shown the hardships of being in a band yet this one showed how much fun life can be. The next album came in 2007, the self titled Avenged Sevenfold. Anybody who had a slight interest in Avenged Sevenfold at this point now found themselves listening to them constantly. A combination of heavy riffs, drums and dark lyrics found in songs such as “Scream,” “Critical Acclaim” and “A Little Piece of Heaven,” mixed in with songs containing tales of redemption such as “Afterlife,” “Almost Easy” and “Dear God.” Critics went wild and five stars all around was the general consensus. The album debuted at Number 4 on the Billboard 200, selling over 90,000 copies immediately and won “Best Album” at the Kerrang awards and has since, unsurprisingly, sold over 500,000 copies. Avenged Sevenfold headlined the Taste of Chaos tour, being supported by bands such as Atreyu and Bullet For My Valentine and this show, in Long Beach California was made into the bands first live DVD Live in the LBC. This was released on September 16 2008 along with Diamonds in the Rough, a CD featuring B-side tracks that hadn’t been previously recorded, songs that hadn’t been heard before and covers of Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” and Pantera’s “Walk.” “Walk” was played at the concert and was sung by a random member of the audience by the name of Matteo. The cover of “Flash of the Blade” was featured on a tribute album for Iron Maiden with covers by Metallica, Machine Head, Trivium and Dream Theater. The CD/DVD has been certified platinum, 74
by the RIAA. Everything was going perfectly for Avenged Sevenfold. They were playing at different music festivals such as Rock On The Range. They had performed with guitar legend Slash. They were planning a follow up to their self-titled album and they were named 2nd in Ultimate Guitars “Top Ten Bands of the Decade,” the top spot going to Metallica which the band must have appreciated. But then, four days after winning 2nd place, disaster struck as Jimmy Sullivan passed away on the 28th December 2009 due to an overdose of prescription drugs. This was deeply saddening to all of Jimmy’s fans across the world, but devastating to his former band mates who regarded Jimmy as a best friend more than they regarded him as a band mate. Jimmy’s last performance with the band was at Sonisphere festival 2009 and 3 days prior to his death he had submitted his last track for the coming album now named “Fiction” after a nickname Jimmy gave to himself but originally named “Death.” The future for Avenged Sevenfold was uncertain. Pre-made plans to make the coming record were no longer relevant as no one could foresee the death of The Rev. However fans breathed a sigh of relief on February 17th 2010 when Avenged Sevenfold announced they were returning to the studio along with exDream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Jimmy’s favourite and most respected drummer. On April 12th 2010 Zacky Vengeance announced that tracking for the album was complete and on April 17th 2010 the first single, “Nightmare,” was released. The album Nightmare was released on July 27th 2010 worldwide and was met with generally positive reviews. The band members announced that Nightmare was dedicated solely to The Rev. Avenged Sevenfold are currently touring in celebration of the Nightmare release with Mike Portnoy as what could end up being a permanent drumming replacement (especially since he recently announced his departure from Dream Theater). The album debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard top 200 and sold a huge 163,000 in its first week of release. So there it is, a “Close-up” of Avenged Sevenfold. The major ups and the huge downs that they have had to endure during their huge ten year career. Avenged Sevenfold would probably have had no idea when playing at those clubs in Orange County that they would be where they are today, playing to thousands of screaming fans at major music festivals and headlining shows across the world. I for one am glad Avenged Sevenfold have achieved this level of success as I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the music of Avenged Sevenfold and hope that they do not have any plans to give it all up any time soon. Like ‘em or not, Avenged Sevenfold are one of the greatest metal bands the world has ever seen. by plimmersam
OPINIONATED: Singles Club 4 reviewers & 5 singles get an average (mean) rating showing a true, unbiased score for that single.
elcome to Opinionated, a singles club feature that aims to showcase just how differently people hear and respond to music. With 5 singles each Issue, various reviewers from across the world privately put their opinions together, the result of which is this feature. Each rating is then given an average (mean) rating to showcase what we feel is the true, unbiased score for that single. The chosen singles are listed in no particular order.
Dead Cells - Friday Feeling
Self Released | Available 29th November 2010 myspace.com/deadcellsband
altsounds says: With synthesized wind and guitar introducing this track you expect electronica to follow but what actually comes next is a rather poor attempt at classic rock. The production let’s it down but what let’s it down more than anything else is the songwriting, particularly the lyrics and melody with the best thing being the Audioslave style guitar riff (but that’s because Audioslave wrote it!) I also don’t like the bass tone or how loud it is in the mix. If this is Dead Cells’ single I can only imagine how bad the album will be. 3/10 jack s says: Dead Cells remind me of a Battle Of The Bands; just one of those bands that seem to jump into the gigging game without doing the research and building up their own sound. Only formed back in October 2009, it really shows you where they are at, and they need A LOT more work. Inspiration comes from Audioslave, and judging by the riff its pretty damn clear the sound they are trying to achieve. Everything is a bit all over the place and structured in a bad way. Vocally Kris Willingham grinds through the tracks like Creed being tortured. As for the production, eugh, just demo quality and weak as tits. Sorry chaps, get back in that practice room before the next release. 1/10 ivarmac says: That funky bassline had me going there but the moment the voice kicked in I winced. Kris Willingham sounds really weak, like Chris Cornell with a dicky tummy. I like the rest of it though, a nice 70’s vibe to the arrangement and a good ol’ fashioned freak-out halfway through. 6/10 75
Ffion Davies says: Absolutely immense. This traditional rock and roll gem opens with outstandingguitars, a drum beat that gives it a steady rhythm to build up a fantastic, popping bass before husky vocals make this an anthem in its own right. The song just gets better and better, the lead solos are flawless, whilst more and more layers and motifs are experimented with. You would never believe that this band is from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire as you would expect them to come from the deep south of America, donned with crazy moustaches, leather and swigging bourbon out of a brown paper bag. It just goes to show you don’ t have to look too far to find outstanding talent. 8/10
MEAN RATING: 4.5/10 Savoir Adore - We Talk Like Machines Cantora Records
altsounds says: 1,2,3,4 is potentially the most cliched way to begin a song. What follows after is sub par, female-fronted indie music that isn’t particularly good. I quite like some of the glitchy guitar work and grandeur sounding organ stuff but the chorus is a let down, as are the lyrics which is some comparative sci-fi play about how we are all machines. With a million US based bands out there doing better indie music than this, I’ll continue spinning Passion Pit, Animal collective and Yeasayer. 4/10
jack s says: You can’t not love Adore’s charm on “We Talk Like Machines”. The bass line walks through your speakers and gives you the incentive to go for a stroll through the park. From the very beginning it feels like you’re sat, chilling out, enjoying a nice little drink with friends or lazing about on a hammock. Listening closely to the breakdowns you get a sense of Animal Collective floating around in the background, trying to nip into Savoir’s sound. If this is what machines talk like, I certainly believe it would be one sexy, chilled out robot. 7/10 ivarmac says: I loved this! I have to admit, at the start I thought I was in for a The XX style shoegazey groove but, after the first chorus I was hooked. Really nice shift in tempo and, though it’s not my usual scene, I can sense this becoming a firm favourite over the next few weeks. Very nice! 8/10 Ffion Davies says: The simple, yet contagious intro is the perfect platform for this pop treat. Diedre Muro sounds like Courtney Love, which adds a darker something to this track. The blend of clean guitar mixed with busy synths in the background makes this an interesting piece to say the least. However, although the beginning was captivating and made me want to listen more, the song does get a little repetitive after a while and would be ideal for a lazy Sunday spin in the warm sunshine of the spring. I don’t think I’ll be pressing the replay button though. 6/10
MEAN RATING: 6.25/10 Ali Love - Smoke & Mirrors Self Released | Free Download myspace.com/mralilove
altsounds says: 80’s as a mother fucker, Ali Love’s “Smoke and Mirrors” grabs my attention from the get go with the “bew bew” hi synths and ridiculously 80s toms. However, as soon as the vocals come in, I wish it had just remained an instrumental as they really don’t add much and I find myself focusing more on the sweeney backing track than anything else. Had this remained without vocals this could have easily been an 8, as it stands the vocals actually detract from how awesome the track and its production is. Stick to music only Ali Love and you will be onto something magnificent. 6/10 jack s says: Wham, bam, thank you 80’s drums. You can picture Prince prancing about on stage to ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ - and funnily enough you can imagine the video to be...well...smoke and mirrors, with some crazy dude, in leather pants thrusting his jingleys all over the shop. The comeback of this particular sound this year hasn’t quite grabbed me but I can see the element of catchyness and why people might be into
it. It’s damn easy to listen too, but sounds a little pretentious. 6/10 ivarmac says: Can people please stop plundering the 80’s for musical ideas? “Smoke and Mirrors” is passable enough but, for Christ’s sake, can’t we have something new instead? The 80’s obsession is a massive pet peeve of mine and I’m afraid I just couldn’t get past it to appreciate the song. Sorry. 5/10 Ffion Davies says: I loved this track from the moment the 80’s-esque synths and drum machine bounced from my speakers. I didn’t expect Ali Love to be a guy, but the blurring and experimenting of gender adds that little bit of 80’s Boy George feel which makes this track feel authentic. Ali Love definitely needs to teach Mark Ronson how to recreate camp 80’s pop hits, as his previous attempts are abysmal compared to this blast from the past. I can definitely see this tune floating across a club or two, transporting the crowd to a blissful, yet sugary decade where girls just wanted to have fun! 7/10
MEAN RATING: 6/10 DJ Fresh vs Sigma - Lassitude Breakbeat Kaos | 1st November 2010 myspace.com/freshbadcompany
altsounds says: “Lassitude” is a ridiculously over the top, dance drum and bass tune that tries to put the good feelings back into everybody by telling them “It’s gonna be alright.” I feel the need to press pause, go take some pills and then re-visit this track! Not something I could imagine people actually listening to in their homes, though I would imagine this would be a bit of a banger if it was played loud in a club. “Lassitude” is sadly, to me, just another over the top dance / drum n bass song. Worth noting that the production is great though. 5/10 jack s says: These type of tracks are popping up all over the shop lately - basic drum and bass with a lady woopin’ and hollerin’ down the mic. There is nothing there to keep you enthralled and excited - its basic Drum n Bass with the odd riff chucked about within the mix. A few remix’s feature on the single that get you a little more excited, a bit of warbling dubstep from Jakwob, a jolt of Deloreon’s thumping bass drums and MT Eden calming the party down a little. I hate to say it but the remix’s weigh out the actually single hands down, if you can skip through the first track just jump to the others right away. 5/10 ivarmac says: Hmm, a bit divided on this one. On one hand it’s pretty irresistible and has me bopping along as I write, so, it’s obviously a well crafted and well judged poppy, Drum and Bass track designed to hit the dance floors hard. On the other hand, it’s a bit symptomatic of what I see as a real stagnation in the genre and there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done many, many times before now. Overall, I have to give it the benefit of the doubt, purely on the basis that if I heard it in a club I’d be waving my hands in the air like a loon within seconds! 6/10 Ffion Davies says: A heavy track drenched in pumping beats, mixed to utter perfection. If you’re a bit of a drum and bass junkie then stop reading this and go and download this track NOW. The layer after layer of synths, beats and vocals fits tremendously well and makes this track a repeater. The experimentation with a tinkling piano adds an extra quality, whilst the song climbs and climbs towards it’s climax, one which I don’t want to ever end. I can’t wait for this to be blasted across a dark and sweaty nightclub, I can guarantee everyone will go absolutely mental for it. 9/10
MEAN RATING: 6.25/10 Roots Manuva meets Wrongtom - Jah Warriors feat. Ricky Ranking (Radio Edit) Big Dada | Out Now
altsounds says: The odd time signature at the beginning (and the other choruses) of the song pricks my ears up right away as it felt like what should have been a metal riff was being played on some form of synth. Unfortunately a bit too much effort has been put into making this experimental, at times causing it to sound very disjointed. My favourite section is the verse with the rapping and steel drums, my least favourite being the bridge. 5/10 jack s says: First things first, Rodney Smith grew up in a place called “Banana Hole” - how fucking cool is that!? Imagine a big banana hole...fruity! Anyway, “Jah Warriors” licks the speakers with simplistic reggae back beats and a vocal hook that eases you into the genre. Steel pans warm up the foundations of the track building it into a song that is so chilled out you would swear Manuva was lying down spitting the lyrics with no qualms. 8/10 ivarmac says: I’m a sucker for the sound of a steel drum so the opening sounds of Manuva’s latest single got me very excited. Roots’ vocals sound a bit muffled though, don’t you think? Aside from that I absolutely loved it – a rock solid Dub beat backing Manuva’s distinctive flow and a very catchy hook. A wonderful track for the upcoming Halloween weekend. Blast it. 8/10 Ffion Davies says: I wasn’t impressed with this one as it sounds like a half finished piece. I can see the approach of reinventing reggae, bringing it into the 21st century, but that’s about it. The small flickers of creativity just isn’t enough to make “Jah Warriors” stick. The backing track is sloppy, the digitized staccato gets really annoying very quickly. “Jah Warriors” would have benefited with using samples of live instruments, giving it a lot more depth and texture. Reggae is all about the fun and passion and “Jah Warriors” definitely doesn’t reflect that. A bit of a scrappy attempt at resurrecting reggae at its best. 2/10
MEAN RATING: 5.75/10
FILE-O-FACTS: Gabe Cavazos of American Fangs Name: Gabriel “too many nicknames” Cavazos Hometown: Houston TX Nationality: Chicano & Black Age:25 Role within Band: Writer and Vocalist Favorite Food? Anything pasta! Favorite Drink? Water. Hobbies? Editing videos, running, making masks. Love? Full time creativity. Hate? Being stagnant. Turn ons? Women’s Panties. Turn offs? Stupidity. Hero? Bruce Willis. What have you been up to? On tour with Four Year Strong, Come Back Kid and The Wonder Years. What is the first Record you bought? Morris Day and the Times. Favorite new songs this year? Currently Janelle Monae and Sleigh Bells albums on repeat. Favorite older songs at the moment? DJ Shadow’s “Midnight in a Perfect World”. Favorite song of all time? “Wooly Bully” by Sammy and the Shams. What song has been in your head today? “Circles” by The Wonder Years! Fuck I can’t get it out! Favorite new Artist? Little Dragon. Last gig you went to? Carnival of Madness Tour. Best gig you ever attended? Radiohead - In Rainbows tour. Last great movie you saw? Inception. Last great book you read? The Naked Brain. Do you play any other instruments other than your main role in the band? Trumpet and Guitar. Biggest Aspirations? To look back at a righteous music catalogue that I created, with a huge smile on my face, while making my bed made of bald eagle feathers. Favorite Website? Tittaycitay.com Favorite Piece of Gear? Apple Computers. Favorite City To Gig in? Toronto. Favorite Place to Buy Music? Thrift stores. Favorite Place to Buy Clothes? Belmont Army in Chicago. Money or Passion? Passion. Best thing you bought this year? Health insurance. Best thing you did this year? Floated the river with some of my best buds for a bachelor party. Favorite TV show? Forensic files. Favorite video game? Street Fighter. If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would it be and why? Joe Rogan. I think the guy is intelligent, outspoken for all the right reasons and he’s just a man’s man. Famous quote that summarizes you perspective on life? “Everybody wants to be a nigga but nobody wants to be a nigga” - Paul Mooney 77
The Top 10, Top 10 Lists Of All Time Songs to Get Angry To by Intergalactic War Hero
nger comes in many forms. It can cause you to fight, scream, cry, take revenge or just straight up get scary and, anger is the topic of today’s TTTTTLOAT’s (I’ll work on a catchier nickname). These songs should pretty much just about cover every thought that passes through your mind when you’re angry. Anger can begin as frustration and frustration can come from lots of different things; items not working in the house, your job getting you down etc.
In high-pressured situations you don’t often need rage to have been bubbling to completely lose it. In football matches, a referee might make the wrong call and emotions can get the best of the supporters, or even the players themselves (see Ron Artest, Malice in The Palace on Youtube). The only idea that passes through some people’s heads is one that may pass through the mind of Marilyn Manson.
Eminem - ‘The Way I Am’
Alanis Morissette - ‘You Oughta Know’ Watch: http://bit.ly/asJDT9
Watch: http://bit.ly/djLwFT Apparently being famous is rather stressful. Eminem has told us this at many moments during his illustrious career and his back catalogue could fill up a list of angry songs by himself including one or two about his previous wife/current girlfriend/murder victim, Kim. If you want to hear anger in one of his tracks, there is none better than the ‘The Way I Am’.
Gentlemen, as a sex we are rather crap, let’s be honest. As we all know when women get angry, we tend not to realise. Perhaps it’s their fault for hiding it so well, perhaps it’s ours for not taking notice but women can be angry for up to 4 years without blowing their gasket. In 1995, a Canadian called Alanis had clearly had enough. This became obvious when she sang the next song on our list. Just feel the raw power of this live performance and also see if you can figure out who’s on drums, he may turn up at another spot on this list. Was there a better songwriter in the 90’s than Alanis?
Kelis – ‘Caught Out There’
Plan B - ‘No More Eatin’ Watch: http://bit.ly/cUXvfD
Frustration often keeps bubbling and rage begins to boil. It may be due to a life of torment, maybe being bullied, maybe living in a rough area. On the flip side everything may be fine and dandy until something awful happens like a nasty break-up. At first you’re upset, and then you start to get a bit pissed off, then somehow the image of her rolling round on top of someone else starts playing and re-playing through your head, and you get more and more angry. This next song is not about that but it’s the perfect music to build up as your rage does.
Marilyn Manson - ‘The Fight Song’
Watch: http://bit.ly/92WDwR There are often smaller things you argue about in relationships though, like the way they drive/leaving the iron on once they finished using it/sleeping with her sister. The mature adult would sit down and talk about this before it becomes a problem but not all relationships have mature adults. Kelis wrote a song for such occasions which makes me think I’m glad I’m not going out with Kelis.
Christina Aguilera – ‘Fighter’ Watch: http://bit.ly/a3HyBL
But it’s not just angry/crazy ladies that feel like this. Disney Princess’s get angry too. They use it to sort of motivate themselves, to get up and
Watch: http://bit.ly/b3l0QY 78
keep on moving, because while they may never hurt a fly physically, emotionally they become a fighter. Just ask Christina Aguilera.
House of Blues, Boston MA, USA [Live 12th Aug 2010]
The Who - ‘My Generation’
ell where do I start....I love the band Something Corporate. I have never seen them live, mostly because they broke up for a while. Earlier in the year, I looked at the roster for the Bamboozle festival and saw that Something
The majority of people in this world understand what happens during puberty. It’s a time where you start getting bigger, you sweat more, hair grows in odd places and that’s just when a pretty girl walks down the street and you notice her for the first time. But also you start to become more independent and begin to distance yourself from your family in order to create your own identity. At the time it starts to feel like nobody notices who you are or what’s going on and you feel like your generation is not understood and what you’re going through is unique. It is in many respects, but people have been going through it forever. Just ask The Who.
Slipknot - ‘Duality’
Watch: http://bit.ly/aK4Zbz Sometimes you just need to let off some steam. Many people make a job of doing such things. There are fighters who let off steam every time they fight, musicians who scream until their lungs gets sore, I also have a friend who’s a kettle. No band has bottled anger into a song better than Slipknot, whether it’s an acoustic track or one with the word ‘core’ on the end of it’s description, none is better at leaving you steam-less than ‘Duality’.
Corporate was on it. They got back together? What? Awesome! I couldn’t make it to that festival, so when I heard they were doing their 10 year reunion tour, and that it was stopping in my city, I was pumped. The show had no openers. It was just SoCo. I said to myself when I arrived, I hope they play “I Woke Up In A Car“ at some point tonight. To my surprise, the first song of their 23 song set was “I Woke Up In A Car.” Vocalist Andrew McMahon has an amazing stage presence. He has two microphones next to his piano so he can look at his instrument and then turn to the crowd and continue singing! The House of Blues was completely sold out. Every single level of the 3 story venue. It was quite a sight, and I didn’t expect that to happen with only one act playing. The fans were pleased to hear practically every single one of Something Corporate’s songs. A few noteworthy ones would be “The Astronaut,” “Hurricane,” “Cavanaugh Park,” and many, many others.
Rage Against the Machine – ‘Killing in the Name’ Watch: http://bit.ly/tTJX8
Many people get angry about the way this world is run as Politicians can make the stupidest decisions. Whether it’s to make the decision to go into a war that your country has nothing to do with, or the lack of help an area or a city gets when it’s been hit with a crisis, people often feel the need to express their feelings about it. Many pop cult figures have stood up for their own political beliefs; Mohammad Ali not stepping forward during an army roll call, John Lennon sat in bed; Bob Dylan wrote hidden messages in his lyrics; Public Enemy told you to Fight the Power; Kanye West behaved exactly how we expect him to and called out the President. But none of these people have made their feelings clear in a more aggressive and angry way than Rage Against The Machine.
Will Smith feat. Mary J Blige - ‘Tell Me Why’
They even played a few songs that I didn’t know, but the crowd knew every word. I enjoyed the energy of the show, and even some of the staff at the House of Blues could be seen moving to the music. I’m not sure if the reunion tour will be going to many cities, but if it stops by your city, please come out and give these guys some support!
One man’s Terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. This is a fair argument and, despite this, there are some moments that can be classed simply as an act of terror. We may never find who out planned 9/11 but the act of terror caused thousands to die, leaving millions of people upset, confused and angry. Some people held press conferences, some decided to invade countries, some people wrote music.
by Scott Eisen 79
K, time to get serious, and weirdly no-one wants to hear the truth but...listening to music can potentially harm your hearing... forever. Going to gigs, producing music in recording studios, playing on your guitar too loudly and, the biggest culprit of modern times, the Ipod and other generic MP3 players with their listeners having their headphones up WAY too loud. Ever walked past someone on the street and you can hear their music? Those people are undoubtedly, slowly but surely, damaging their hearing and, all of the aforementioned moments in time will eventually degrade your hearing over years of exposure. Of course there are many more moments that can mess with your hearing if you are not fully protected, like standing next to a plane as it takes off and using a jack hammer with no ear protection. So what’s the difference? Well musicians and music listeners don’t protect themselves whereas people in other professions, that experience sound at dangerous levels usually do. AltSounds can cover an article like this in a different fashion to most places because our concerns range from the listener, to the band member to the music producer. Have you ever been to a concert and left unable to hear properly? Usually after a nights rest your hearing will return to normal however there have been cases where people have left a concert and lost portions of their hearing forever. The situation is actually worse of all for the people performing on the stage, as they suffer from more serious and prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of sound. It is also more devastating for a performer to lose their hearing as their livelihood then comes under jeopardy.
100db is the threshold recognized at which short term exposure can actually cause hearing loss. Your run of the mill concert can be well within the 120 - 140db level. The actual hearing loss is caused by damage to fragile tissue within the cochlea. This fragile tissue is called hair cells and they move with the fluid in the cochlea to stimulate the electrical impulses in the auditory nerve. These hair cells have the potential of becoming damaged in the presence of loud noise. Imagine it if you will that these hair cells are like a lawn of grass. This grass is fine 98% of the time however, if you were to consistently walk up and down the same patch of grass rigorously then it would start to suffer. The louder and longer the exposure, the more damage you could be causing yourself. Luckily we have indications which help us realize when there are problems. Temporary hearing loss or ringing in the ears is a sure fire sign of temporary hearing issues which, if not addressed might result in permanent hearing loss.
“Social noise exposure has tripled since the early 1980s in the UK meaning that it is now even more important for people to take steps to look after their hearing. Prevention is always better than cure, especially in this case as there is no remedy for hearing damage.”
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS: Music & Hearing Loss 80
“We need to get to a stage where remembering to take your ear plugs out with you on a big night out is as common-place as remembering safe sex protection. If we don’t, we are roller coasting towards an epidemic of premature hearing loss in middle age,” comments Brian Dow, ex-Joint Head of Campaigns, RNID. Examples of artists that have experienced hearing loss from their years of working in the industry include rock superstar Roger Daltrey who has revealed that years of rock music has taken its toll on his ears. The 62-yearold The Who frontman’s hearing has been worn away by years of performing on stage. Daltrey said: “If I’m playing anything at home, it’s probably classical music, mainly because I haven’t got much hearing left. What I have got left, I want to keep.” Phil Collins also discussed his hearing loss who, according to media reports in 2006, stated that 55-year-old singer Phil Collins was gradually losing his hearing. The problems are said to have begun in 2000 when Collins first became aware of a loss of hearing in his right ear and took this as a sign that he needed to change his attitude towards music and the way he listens to it. Eric Clapton has also brought up his hearing issues where he stated that he suffers from mild tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and is convinced his excessively loud performances with Cream back in the 60s are to blame. He told Britain’s Daily Express newspaper: “My hearing isn’t ruined, but if I stop and listen I’ve got whistling all the time which I suppose is a mild tinnitus. I probably had two 100-watt stacks at the height of things and I would turn one on for guitar solos. It was just mad!” In fact, in 2006 this was released as the Rock and Roll Hard of Hearing Hall Of Fame, describing and showcasing the people and artists that have likely suffered most in terms of hearing damage. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Pete Townshend - Guitar (The Who) Jeff Beck - Guitar (Yardbirds) Eric Clapton - Guitar (Yardbirds) John Entwhistle - Bass Guitar (The Who) Mick Fleetwood - Drums (Fleetwood Mac) James Destri - Keyboards (Blondie) Bono - Vocals (U2) Phil Collins - Vocals (Genesis)
of different noise exposure levels. The most interesting of all was how amazing these earplugs actually were during use. My experience in the past had been that earplugs changed and degraded the quality of the sound I was hearing by dimming the trebles, resulting in everything sounding much more bass heavy. The first thing I noticed about the Minerva plugs was that they had obviously realized and focused on this fact because with the -9db filter in my earplugs I was experiencing minimal sound quality degradation, it was literally as if someone had simply turned the volume down. I even just sat by the door for a minutes experiencing life with these plugs in. Traffic sounds were quietened but at the same time I could still clearly hear the birds. These -9db filters would be great for general, every day studio use and would definitely protect you during the prolonged listening that studio sessions tend to produce. The other filters would be perfect for loud concerts, particularly live gigs which I found safely lowered the levels of the sound without drastically altering the sound itself. All in all I found the custom fit Minerva earplugs to be both comfortable and well fitting but, most notably, great from a sound perspective. Unlike the regular earplugs you can buy, the Minerva plugs alter the sound minimally allowing you to protect yourself at the same time as still experiencing, and enjoying as much of the sonic spectrum as possible.
So what can we do? Well, if you are a performing musician AltSounds recommends that you get some personal fitting earplugs with varying filters so that you can comfortably protect yourself without people even realizing that you are, particularly if you get a clear set of earplugs. So as part of our quest to protect ourselves we stumbled across a local Cardiff company called Minerva Laboratories who traditionally had focused on hearing aids and working closely with the NHS. We contacted Minerva, discussed what we were trying to do and they came to our studio and took moulds of my ears. It turned out that Minerva were actually branching into hearing protection for musicians and music listeners along with other products like In-Ear monitors which we will also be covering here in a future issue. Having a custom mould made of your ear was a very odd experience that consisted of placing a cotton bud with a piece of string on it within my ear, injecting this cold, blue substance within the ear canal which, over a few minutes hardened. I was the required to move my jaw to crack the seal before pulling the string to get it all out. Minerva were VERY professional and it was all over quickly. I then waited a few days before I was presented with my custom ear plugs. They even custom etched the AltSounds logo on them for me! The custom fit plugs actually fit perfectly although, to begin with, it was kind of weird fitting them yourself and it gave me an idea of what it must feel like to have to implement a hearing aid every single day. Minerva delivered the plugs with a few different filter levels that I could interchange depending on my situation, allowing me to use them in varying situations 81
AltSounds recommends that anyone making or listening to music considers investing in a set of custom earplugs to protect themselves because if you don’t protect yourself now, much like many of the fore-fathers of Rock and Roll, you run the risk of losing portions of your hearing in later life. by altsounds
Tel: 0845 345 3912 Web: minerva-hearingprotection.com
Useful Resources: • • •
dontlosethemusic.com/home/ www.rnid.org.uk/howwehelp/hearing_check/take_online_ hearing_check/ musictomyearscampaign.org/
THE LOWDOWN: Ray Luzier of Korn “I think there’s a reason why Korn has been around for seventeen years, and why the fans are so die hard.” Good music is rare. As music fans and critics alike, we’re inexplicably aware of this bitter reality. But why? There’s a trait present in the best of musicians that is absent in the majority – judgement and reason. As the ever-analytical listener will know, asking ‘why’ is vital to understanding the passion that drives music. Each note has carefully been layered within a song for a reason; simply to provoke a response. Unfortunately, in the mediocre musical world we live in, the number of slapdash, uncaring musicians that plague our charts are becoming increasingly numerous, and judicious channelling of musical imagination is on the decline. Enter Korn. A band with true feeling to their music. It doesn’t take a detective to appreciate the ardour they wire into their melodies, and each and every second of each and every song always feels justified – it always feels right. Hailing from the inspiringly desolate planes of Bakersfield, USA, Korn have made a monumental impression upon the world since their inception in 1993. Not many bands can say they’ve changed the face of the music industry. Korn can. Fusing experimentalism, heavy metal and sheer emotive, artistic expression into one deliciously potent mix, the band have become iconic over the years. Seven-string rhythm guitars, croaky and creepy vocals, refreshingly obscure bass lines and rattling, haunting drums establish their revolutionary and unique sound. It’s their individuality that makes them what they are. I dare you to categorise Korn. I dare you. Selling a humungous 30 million records worldwide, encompassing nine studio albums, Korn have had a scintillatingly extensive career. Do they ever look like slowing down? No way. After a line-up change in 2007, the band saw the welcoming of drummer Ray Luzier. A man who’s worked on more than thirty albums with other musicians, Mr Luzier is simply unbound. Going on to record the band’s now highly-acclaimed ninth album Korn III: Remember Who You Are, his third year in Korn has been his busiest yet. We managed to catch up with him for a chat before Korn’s Southampton show.
Can you talk to me about what you’ve been up to recently? Well we’ve been touring the whole year, promoting Korn III: Remember Who You Are. We’ve also just finished headlining the Mayhem Festival in the States, and before that we were doing the Jägermeister tour. We actually started our European tour here in London, and hit up Paris, Amsterdam and we just finished up five different places in Germany too! Now we’re back in the UK for a few days and then we’re heading off to Japan. Never a dull moment! Sounds incredible. Has it been a good tour for you so far? Yeah, it’s been really great. It’s cool ‘cos we did some Ozzfest dates too, and it was fun playing just 1500-2000 seater gigs, some of our slightly smaller shows, and then going to these huge stadium concerts with Ozzy. It was really great. The European crowd is always more enlightening and much more enthusiastic, I love it. Do you prefer playing these festivals to your own shows? Oh man, it’s totally different. When we’re doing the Korn thing, on our own tours, the intimacy is much more in your face, and nothing gets away. I love playing Donington, and Rock In Ring, and all those kind of festivals, but when the first row is more than 40ft back, you lose a little bit of that connection. But man… it’s so powerful over that huge PA system, so it can be equally as effective. I like both. The fans just go crazy anyway, and I’ve always said that Korn fans are incredible. They’re always die-hards. I was just out in the parking lot and these guys had the Korn III album cover tattooed on their forearms, and Jonathan’s face was on one girl’s back. They don’t mess around over here. Could we see you hitting up any UK festivals next year? We’re already talking about that whole circuit out here in the UK. I know we’ve already sorted some stuff out in the States, but there’s been talks of doing some stuff over here next summer. So hopefully we’ll be doing that, we’re hoping for Donington. Whilst tearing it up at Ozzfest this year, who did you chill with backstage? There were quite a few big names you played alongside… It’s been really crazy over here in Europe, and we’re friends with a
Hey dude! Hey AltSounds! 82
few of the Ozzy guys – I was spending some time with Blasko and Tommy [Clufetos]. I also got to meet Gus. We just did a show with Soulfly and I got to meet Max [Cavalera] for the first time. I get so hung up with press and stuff I don’t really get much time to hang out. We’ll sometimes hit the pub and catch a beer or something, but there’s not hang time when you’re on the road. We’re always so freakin’ tired from not sleeping we just end up crashing at the hotel all day [laughs] But when you’re on a six week tour with the same bands, like Mayhem and Ozzfest, there are loads more opportunities, and we were hanging with Rob Zombie quite a bit. So, since Korn III, how has the response been towards the record and from the crowds? Well, the record’s response has been really cool. We went very old school and got the old producer Ross Robinson [producer of Korn’s first two albums] involved. I’ve only been in the band for three years and the other guys have been around for seventeen, so it was really great to head back to the roots. I come from a big farm in California, so we’re all coming from that same middle-of-nowhere-type location where we all grew up. We did everything in this one little room, a really really small little place where there was barely any room to move. There was no click track, no Pro Tools, nothing man. It was a case of writing a song, and then thirty minutes later tracking it for the record, then moving on. To me, there are too many perfect sounding records out there. Everything sounds autotuned and pitch-controlled. But this is very raw. It was kinda scary at first, using such unorthodox recording methods, but I’m very proud of it now. It’s great playing it live too, we’re featuring three songs off the record right now, one from the first record and everything in between. It’s quite a big set. Why the name Korn III: Remember Who You Are?. Some found it cheesy and hated it, and some went crazy for it. What’s the inspiration behind the title? Well, it’s exactly what it reads as – it’s Korn III because it’s our third album with Ross Robinson. It’s not like we’re trying to start a new generation of Korn or anything, but I’m a permanent member now it feels like a mini fresh start. Remember Who You Are? Well, we’re not in the giant comfy recording studio that we’re used to, we tried not to be too overproduced and really tried to capture our passion. That’s pretty much what this whole record’s about. There was nothing like “let’s try and play our instruments perfectly”, it was much more “let’s just rock this”, and we played what we felt like at the time. It’s all about the passion. I kind of miss that, you hear so many records nowadays that just sound perfect, and when you see the band live they’re very untidy. You’re just left with this feeling of “why? That sucks!” [laughs] When we play our songs live, they sound just like the album, except with an added energy of the live scenario. We’re kind of proud of that. So you’re confident that you’ve captured this return to roots in your current sound? Yeah, for the most part it doesn’t sound like we were trying to replicate the first two albums at all. Which is not what we were doing, it’s more of a message to be read in the album. When you look at the incredible success Korn has had, it’s very easy to say “Oh, we’ll just take a year to write this record, maybe take a few months off in between”. We wanted that garage stage where we can capture that moment, and there’s no over-thinking of things, no trying to write a hit song, or any of that. People get too wrapped up in that. We would just write what we would feel. There’s no bullshit. So many bands find success and then keep trying to write hit songs and it just fails. I think there’s a reason why Korn has been around for seventeen years, and why the fans are so die hard. So many different generations come to the shows, it’s really great. Korn’s sound and attitude has always had a lot to do with the band’s lyricism – Korn’s lyrics are disturbing at the best of times… 83
Exactly man, there’s just no bullshit - Jon writes the lyrics mostly about things that he’s gone through, or things he’s passionate about. He’s always sung from the heart. You can see it when the fans show up – they’re laughing, they’re crying, they’re experiencing it. We play for real, we don’t fake it. There’s no point in that. On the Deluxe Edition of Remember Who You Are, there’s a little part of the DVD that goes with each song, and it really captures the moments when we were creating the album. Our photographer was crammed into our tiny shed of a studio, it got a bit cramped, but it really shows us sweating it out in the old cat box. Ross wanted to make us uncomfortable. He was punching cymbals, hitting guitars, and I think it worked. That’s a very tough environment to work in – was it beneficial to work like that as a musician? Was it necessary and would you work like that again? I think so man, I mean, I’d be playing something, getting on pretty nicely, and I’d just be too comfortable. So he’d move me around into a different position so I became uncomfortable. It really pissed me off at the beginning because I wasn’t used to it. But now, when I listen back to the record, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. Was it necessary? I don’t know [laughs] It definitely made it work from the heart – the hostility and aggression on there is very genuine. It’s passion. It’s not made up, or fake. I definitely would work like it again. I don’t know if he’s going to be the producer on the next record, we haven’t really talked about it, but I – as a drummer – would love to use a click track again!! [laughs] When you joined Korn, you originally just joined as a touring member. How did the transition to becoming a permanent member occur? It was great, because I never do anything half-assed with my music. I’ve had a pretty extensive music career, I’ve had the privilege of working within the music and touring industry for so long now – I started touring back in ’94. Ozzy Osbourne was my first tour and then everything in between – eight years of David Lee Roth, three years of Army of Anyone – and loads of other great things too. Everything I do I try and do it 110%. Personally, I also love watching a band grow, I love doing a record with a band and then later coming back to the same guys and see how both they and I have progressed. It’s quite exciting. Playing drums convincingly makes a good drummer. Is there anything else you would say is needed to become a successful musician? You just need to be open minded man. There are far too many close minded musicians today that only play pop, or thrash metal, or whatever. I used to teach at a Hollywood music school for about ten years, and I was a student there in ’89 when I graduated from high school. It opened my ears so much in terms of music, I learned to play latin, jazz, a huge variety of styles. So I think keeping an open mind is important, along with making sure you listen to other musicians and not just yourself when you’re in a band. I don’t like it when people get self absorbed – guitar players just shredding away regardless of others and drummers just pounding away for themselves. I’m the opposite, I’m a bit of a guitar hack, and a bass hack – learning guitar has seriously helped my drumming, it’s helped me listen to everyone else in the band. And I think when you’re on stage that transpires into the audience, it gives them a much better experience that self-indulgence doesn’t. Keep an open mind, and start to network yourself. You gotta get out and play small shows for like, twelve people before you can play 25,000 seaters! by Sam Hardy
To read the full Q&A with Ray check it out on AltSounds. com at the following URL: http://bit.ly/arWL72
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