When I was in high school, I listened to mostly rap and nu-metal until a friend let me borrow Ride The Lightning. But even after hearing one of the finest metal albums ever, I still wasn’t blown away by much metal I was hearing, and then I heard Living Sacrifice’s The Hammering Process and it changed my life completely. The reason I mention this, is because tonight in Monroe, La, the band Machina featuring Rocky Gray of Living Sacrifice, Phil Taylor of Future Leaders Of The World, and John Lecompt of Evanescence will be playing. They are currently being filmed for the show “The Making Of Rock Stars”, so I caught up with Rocky to find out more about the band themselves, the show, and what the future holds for him. You can check out Machina here, and find out more about the event here.
Your new band Machina features members from bands like Evanescence, Future Leaders Of The World and Living Sacrifice. How long has Machina been around, and how did you guys come together?
John, Thad and myself have been around each other for a very long time and Phil started hanging out in Little Rock and hooked up with John and it all kind of fell into place from there. Machina started in 2006.
You’re currently being followed on tour by a camera crew for the reality show “The Making Of Rockstars”. How did they go about choosing you guys to be the subjects of this show and what network will it be shown on?
We worked with someone who knew David, the shows producer, and they told David about us and we got together and discussed the show and we were into the idea and it was a go from there. It all happened pretty fast. Not sure of what network the show will land on yet. Maybe all of them. There’s a lot in the works in that area.
One of the purposes of the show is to highlight the ups and downs of the rock n’ roll life style. Have there been any particular moments that stand out in your mind, that give a realistic example of the life of a rock band in today’s unsteady music industry?
Oh yeah its very real. You’ll see busted up vans with no mufflers, the bands loading in their own gear and sometimes 20 people at the show. But the bands still go out there and make it happen cause it’s what we do.
As I mentioned earlier, you guys feature ex members of bands that have already had quite a bit of success. What made you choose this point in time to basically start from scratch and begin building up the legacy of a new band? Has it been weird at all having a camera crew follow your every move, or have you learned to embrace it?
We’re not really doing anything new. What we’re doing is what we’ve been doing for years we just have a camera crew taping it all now. Its not that weird to John and I, cause back in the Ev days there was a camera around most of the time so we’re pretty use to it.
Will each date of the tour have its own episode, or will all of the footage combine to make an entire season? Also, do you think that the hype of each show being filmed will have an effect on the size of the crowds for your shows on this tour?
There will be a season of the show with us. So far I don’t think the show has factored in too much on attendance but the more we’re out it may catch on a little more.
What can someone attending a show on this tour who’s never heard Machina before, expect to take away from your live performance?
All we can do is hope they were entertained by a really good rock band, maybe buy some merch and help spread the word.
As someone who’s played huge festivals and arena shows, as well as shows at dive bars and other smaller venues, which would you say you enjoy doing more?
I enjoy them all really.
Aside from being in Machina and focusing on this tour, you also own Deadest Designs, co-own Fader Recording Studio and play drums in Soul Embraced, We Are The Fallen and Fatal Thirteen. You’re also the lead guitarist in legendary metal band Living Sacrifice. How are you able to manage all of these projects without spreading yourself too thin?
Its normally not very hard to do everything but on occasion some projects will book things on top of the other and creates a little mess for me to work out, but I get it all lined out.
Speaking of Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced, will there be new albums coming from either of those bands in 2013?
LS and Soul Embraced will both have records out in 2013.
As someone who’s written quite a few awesome songs in his career, if you could go back in time and write any song ever, what would it be and why?
Maybe Back In Black by AC/DC. Its one of those iconic rock songs that has stood the test of time. Its one of the few rock songs you can say is a masterpiece.
In my last post, I reviewed a Prestor John live show and referred to them as “boogie rock” a term very fitting for their sound. I caught up with their guitarist/vocalist Jimmie Bryant a while back, and I wanted to know a little more about the history of the band, how production of their new record is going, and their plans for the future. You can check them out on Facebook and Reverb Nation. Prestor John are playing a show at Tsunami on November 20th with Machina, a band currently being filmed for a reality show called “The Making Of Rock Stars”, and they members of Future Leaders Of The World, Evanescence, and Living Sacrifice. Find out more about the show Here.
How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play?
I have been playing since I was eight years old. I started playing the fiddle, and about two years into that, I realized that the fiddle sections were really big and there’s a lot of competition, so I switched to viola and I played for my school orchestras all throughout high school. That’s what I went to college for was music performance, I didn’t get my degree, but I was on the music performance track for viola. About six years ago, I picked up the guitar seriously and decided to give it a stab.
You used to play drums in Prestor John right?
Right, I also play the drums. That was really a lot more out of necessity, because we had a really difficult time finding somebody who was a good fit for us, and at the end of our struggles we decided to go with the two-piece for the sake of getting the songs we had written on stage and out for people to hear.
Prestor John has been involved in the Monroe music scene for quite a while, and in various incarnations. Who is currently involved in the current incarnation of the band?
It is myself on guitar and lead vocals, and occasionally on the fiddle, Mitch Lang aka “the stache” on bass and acoustic guitar, and Matt McDonald on drums. In the future, we may be having the return of Johnnie Hollis on lead guitar.
Do you incorporate the fiddle into your live performance?
We did initially in what I call Prestor John version 1.0, but now I don’t do it so much. It was pretty much because we were a two piece, and there weren’t enough hands for so long that I kind of got away from it, but I’m looking forward to reintroducing the fiddle into our live shows.
Is this the first time the band has had a bassist? If so, why did you choose now to add that to the sound?
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a bassist. We’ve toyed with the idea, and we played with a bassist on stage, but we never really stuck with it beyond a show. Mitch actually came to me and we got to talking about him possibly joining up, and I’ve always thought of the band being more than a two piece. Everything we did initially was out of necessity, because we weren’t happy with the people we were working with and trying to flesh out the sound with. I’ve always imagined the band being a four piece or being very Queens of the Stone Ageish, where they’ll perform with ten people on stage, but the band is only three dudes. Really it’s only Josh, but it’s the same dynamic I’m going for, to have a big diverse group of people.
You’re currently in the studio working on a new record, right? How has that been going so far?
Yeah, we are. It’s been going well. It’s always pretty stressful when you work with new people, and you don’t know how they’re going to interpret your material and mix everything down, but we went to Music City Studios in West Monroe, and Scott over there was amazing. He got us with an engineer who I felt was in touch with us, his name is Cody Codine Oliphant, and the first cuts feel pretty good. I’m looking forward to getting the whole shebang done.
When the album is finished, and you begin the cycle of distributing it, will you be doing so online through bandcamp, or are you trying to get a record label for it?
I’m of the new school when it comes to that, because record labels don’t serve the same purpose that they did twenty years ago, and with the development of the internet, a lot of their power is taken away in terms of distribution. Kids in China can download my songs right now. So, to me the real value in a label is their ability to promote you, and their ability to facilitate you on the road. I would love to be signed to a label, but only if it was the right situation, because between bandcamp and reverb nation, you can do everything yourself. You can go to the library of congress and copyright your songs. You can file for a business license and make a publishing company, you can do a lot of these things on your own, so I’m kind of not in any rush and open to both ways, whether it is through a label or totally internal is fine with me.
Are you going to be doing any hardcore touring in the future?
That’s the plan, but it’s important not to put the cart before the horse in terms of promotion and stuff. Right now we’re working on a college radio campaign to build awareness up, and give us a gauge of where we’re playing and where would be good to go and play. College radio is a really valuable tool to bands trying to make it, because students run it, and students decide what to play, so we’re really trying to work on tightening up and trying to be as professional as possible so big opportunities don’t pass us up.
So, if you were asked by someone who’s never heard your band, to describe your sound, what would you tell them?
I would tell them it’s like progressive blues. Grunge rocky at times, a garage rocky type thing at times, and very groovy.
Who are the people that inspired you the most to start playing music, or even the type of music that you’re doing right now?
I would say there’s one family in particular. The whole desert rock scene out west really influenced me and Johnnie Hollis–the other co-founder of the band–and they just left a mark on us, hearing the way they arrange their songs, the beats, the guitar tone and the family kind of spread out from there. All those bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss. Also bands like Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down and Rage against the Machine.
If you could pick any 3 bands to go on tour with, who would it be?
If we were in a perfect world, I would ask from the local scene, Gatorbait or Flea Circus. I was also thinking The Vidrines or Electric Sermon. If I could go on tour and open for anybodythough, it would have to be the Eagles of Death Metal or Arctic Monkeys.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
I would say “Song for the Dead” by Queens of the Stone Age.
Barghest are a black metal band from Baton Rouge, La who are playing in Monroe this weekend with The Flying Humanoids and Sheeple. I took this opportunity to do a short q&a with singer/guitarist Dallas Smith to find out a little more about them. You can check their music out on Facebook or Bandcamp.
Being from south Louisiana, the sludge metal capital of the world, how did you come to discover black metal?
Around high school, I started to get more and more into obscure bands. It didn’t necessarily need to be the most extreme material I could find but it had to convey a certain atmosphere and emotion. It started with death metal like Incantation and Morbid Angel then I got really into doom. Not so much the traditional stuff but bands like Evoken and especially old My Dying Bride. It wasn’t until I really started to delve into black metal that I truly found what I had been searching for. The music really struck a chord with how I felt and listening to it became a therapeutic and incredibly cathartic experience.
What made you want to create a band like Barghest, and what bands would you say are the most influential on your sound?
Contrary to what people think, it was never really the Norwegian bands that we were into so much as it was the American, Swedish and Finnish scenes. It was much more Demoncy, Arckanum and Behexen than it was Burzum or Emperor. Also, while we do consider ourselves a black metal band first and foremost, there is an undeniable death metal influence on our sound and the new material sees us finally bringing out our doom metal side as well.
Black metal originated in the frostbitten woods of Norway and has since exploded in the US in places like Portland, Chicago, and New York. Do you feel that the sweltering, oppressive humidity of the south is just as conducive to making this type of music as places with colder climates?
Absolutely, I think that both your music and yourself are products of your environment. The smothering humidity and sprawling chemical wastelands of Southern Louisiana are just as oppressive as the northern cold, if not more so. It’s incredibly cliche to equate black metal with the cold. It was an integral part of the 2nd wave bands for sure, but to me and many others, it goes far beyond snow and ice.
This month, you guys released your split ep with False and it’s been getting rave reviews. How did you hook up with them?
Basically we are label mates and thought it would make for an interesting pairing within the same genre. Two bands from opposite ends of the black metal spectrum.
You guys have undergone a few lineup changes since you recorded that ep, right?
We are on or third drummer since recording those songs. Other than that, we made the decision that I will be playing guitar as well as doing vocals. While I have contributed guitar in the past, this is now permanent and has definitely changed the writing style and musical direction a bit.
Will you be working on a new full length with the new lineup any time soon?
We are actually writing a new album as we speak. As I said, it will certainly be a somewhat new direction and I think we have grown as a band substantially. Quite honestly, while we love the tracks on the new split, they were somewhat the beginning and end to a chapter of the band. “Shifting Sands” is arguably my favorite track of ours that has been released so far and is also the first song we ever wrote. The other track, “Inhuman Hatred” was the last unreleased song from our original line up and a very rough recording at that… With that said, we felt it needed to be heard. The contrasting vibes of the two tracks is unmistakable. While we certainly wont ever have a production that is even remotely “clean”, for the new album we will go for a little more clarity this time around. This is for no other reason than wanting all the dynamics and little nuances added to be clear and apparent. Make no mistake, Barghest will always be a raw black metal band.
For people that have not seen Barghest before, or even people who’ve never seen a black metal band live, what would you say they should expect from your live show?
I’ll say this: If you hear the term “black metal” and you come to see us expecting corpse paint and elaborate stage props for the novelty factor, you may be disappointed. We are incredibly passionate about our music and believe it speaks for itself. Basically, we have no desire to conform to a preconceived image of any kind. Expect abrasiveness and expect hatred and disdain conveyed through sound.
Will you guys be doing a full tour any time soon?
That’s something we have been working on for quite sometime and only recently has it become truly feasible. Stay tuned.
Finally, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be?
Once again, another ridiculously hard question. Without thinking too much, maybe “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. If you’re going to pick a song, why not pick the one that started it all, right?
Over time, this page has kind of evolved from me rambling about metal albums I like, to show reviews of local shows as well as interviews with various bands from the area. For this interview, I wanted to highlight a very special event taking place at Kiroli Park in West Monroe, La called Rock Your Paws Off. It is an event set up by Adam Rowan of the band Nichols Drive, and its main goal is to benefit Paws Of Northeast Louisiana, a special pet shelter in town. If you want to find out more about the event, check out the official Facebook page. Be sure and check out my Facebook page for more information about awesome events going on around town.
Do you have any dogs yourself? If so how many and what are their names?
Yes I do, I have 2. A pit bull and a yorkie, their names are Shyla and Bentley.
What is Paws exactly?
Paws is a nonprofit rescue organization that removes animals from the shelter to make room for more animals, if theres no room at the shelter they have to euthanize, so paws takes them and places them in foster homes and pays for all of their veterinary care including spay and neuter. They list them up for adoption all over the country as far as Connecticut, Virginia, Colorado and other states, and the pets stay in foster care until they are adopted and then transported. Paws is also opening a spay and neuter clinic for those who cant afford to have their animal spayed or neutered at a regular vet.
What gave you the idea to put on a benefit, and why did you choose PAWS?
I work for Dr. Lauren Harper at Cooper Veterinary Hospital, we are the Paws vet, we take care of all of the Paws animals, and I have fostered also. I knew Paws was having financial trouble and I was just driving to practice one night, and it hit me. Our band’s first show was a benefit, so the main goal here is to raise money for paws, but also to give some musicians a chance to play.
Is this the first benefit you’ve put on?
Yes, this is the first event I have organized.
Will this be an annual event?
So far, I’m pretty sure I will make this an annual event, it’s turning out so well.
Who are some of the bands that are playing the benefit and what genres can people to expect to hear?
Will anyone be covering Pink Floyd’s “Dogs”, or “Who Let The Dogs Out”?
I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.
Other than live music, what are some other activities going on?
There will be a silent auction, the owl center will be cooking, and Roly Poly will be serving food also. Paws will have dogs up for adoption too.
What are some things that have been donated for the silent auction?
We have so much stuff to sell, it’s ridiculous. We have a free oil change and detail from Interstate Dodge, valued at $200. We have two different artists that have donated pet portrait certificates valued at $200 a piece, Log Cabin gift cards, Pie Works gift cards, and that is just a few of the things we have, there is much more.
I’ve seen where some of the bartenders around the area are donating a night’s worth of tips to PAWS, how did that come about and how do you feel about the outpouring of support from the community?
Janell Whitfield came to me and asked me what she could do, and I told her I would take whatever help she could give, and a couple of days later she talked to me about pouring for paws. It was all of her idea, she’s got twenty bartenders participating, and god knows how many sponsors. Most of the community that I have presented the event to were excited to help, and quick to donate. I’m glad that they are willing to support this event, because Paws is a great organization.
Are you guys needing volunteers for the event still? If so, what are you needing help with specifically?
Yes we are still needing volunteers. I need some more fellas to help set up and break down PA and tents and such, I also need volunteers to work the money and wrist band table, and also the auction table.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about this event?
Just to come out and support. My team is working extremely hard everyday, we want to be able to present Paws with $10,000 on the 15th, and we are already 1/2 way or more there, just from Pouring for Paws.
One cool thing about Tsunami is that you never know who will be coming through on any given weekend, whether it be a traveling band looking to get some new fans, or a big name band like Goatwhore, Jucifer, or haarp. This coming Saturday, however, is one of the more unique shows they’ve ever hosted, it features Alex Marley, cousin of the legendary Bob Marley, as well as Renegades Of Funk, a Rage Against The Machine cover band. Alex Marley is an up and coming reggae musician who is currently on tour and I jumped at the opportunity to email him a few questions for a short interview to learn more about him and his influences. You can check out his website HERE, as well as his Facebook. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to my Facebook page for more cool stuff coming soon.
First off, the Marley family name is one that is synonymous with reggae royalty, therefore I’m sure you get asked this alot, but are you related to Bob Marley at all, if so, how closely?
Bob Marley is my cousin. My grandfather and Bob’s father are brothers.
As a member of the Marley family, would you say there was any pressure on you to be a musician growing up? Also, at what age did you begin actually playing music?
No one in my family wanted me to do music, the choices were law, medicine, or architecture like my dad. I rejected these choices and chose music, which was a tough choice to make, as this meant I was on my own.
When you started playing music, were you immediately drawn to the reggae style because of your family? Who are some other musicians who have influenced you over the years?
Bob is my first major influence, then there is Garnet Silk, Burning Spear, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Charley Parker to name a few.
Being a relative of Bob’s, do you feel it has made it easier or harder for you to make your way in the music industry?
Being Bob’s cousin has it’s advantages and it’s disadvantages.
Your single “Lovely Woman” garnered you quite a bit of airplay when it was released a couple years ago, I’ve also noticed quite a few other songs for sale on your website, are these on an actual studio album? Do you have plans to work on a new record any time soon?
These songs were produced by me, but I also have a new album coming out soon which is produced by grammy award winning producers.
Currently you are on the last leg of your “Good Over Evil” tour which has been going on since April, but it’s not a traditional tour routing by any means, how did the idea for this come about and how do you travel to each gig?
Some gigs I fly to, some I drive to, but I fly mostly. The tour is continuous, it’s actually been going on for 2 years now.
One date I noticed that sounded interesting was the Southern Women’s Convention in Nashville, how did that show go for you? Did they demand to hear “Lovely Woman” played over and over?
Yes, Nashville was great, the women of the south are special. I sang “Lovely Woman” for them and “Stir It Up”. I was well received.
I’ve read that you are an avid skateboarder, have you been able to get much skating in while on tour with the US?
Yes, everywhere I go, I find a skate park. It’s also a good way to get to know the local population. Surfing is the best though.
I’ve found that skaters listen to a variety of music from metal and punk to rap and ska while riding, what are some of your favorite bands or songs to skate to?
When skating, I’ll put on either some Bob Marley or some Jimi Hendrix.
In the US, thanks to bands like Sublime with Rome, Pepper, The Dirty Heads, and even Bad Brains, people are gravitating more towards the ska/reggae scene more and more. What are your thoughts on the current state of reggae music?
Reggae is currently the number 1 music genre in the world, and now alot of american bands are gravitating towards it, this is a good thing as this music originated in my country Jamaica and brings a message of universal love to all. Reggae has now broken up into different forms within the music itself, you have pop reggae and you have roots reggae. Different countries have even developed their own styles of reggae, as the reggae you would hear in California is different than what you would hear in Jamaica, the same goes for the UK, Japan etc…
Lastly, if you could accomplish anything with your music, what would it be and why?
If I could accomplish anything with my music, it would be world peace.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to interview any bands, so it was nice to chat with Ethan of the band TOAST from Monroe, La for a quick Q&A about their new record. Today marks the release of their new Self Titled E.P. and though it’s been a long wait to hear the final product, once you hear this furious math rock assault, you’ll be floored at how talented these guys truly are. You can hear the new album HERE and check them out on Facebook HERE. If you or your band would like to be featured on my site, hit me up on Facebook. Thanks for reading!
Yea, there is a guy who does spoken word that has copyrights to the acronym. We decided that “toast” would suffice. Everybody loves toast. Due to legal issues, I can’t tell you what the name stood for.
How long have you been playing guitar?
Hmm… somewhere around 5 or 6 years, now.
The first time I saw you guys, I was completely blown away with your incredibly creative approach to guitar playing, who would you say are some of your main influences as a musician?
I like to genre-hop, and I draw influences from a wide variety of musicians that influenced me throughout the years of learning the guitar. The first guitarist that really inspired me was Jack White of The White Stripes. His approach to playing the guitar made me want to make music that pushed the boundaries and went against the “norm”. A few other notable musicians that really influenced me are Thomas Erak of The Fall of Troy, Spencer Seim and Zach Hill of Hella, and Nick Reinhart of Tera Melos. Nick has been a huge influence on my guitar playing in the past year. His playing really made me interested in using a pedal board as an extension of my guitar.
As far as your music goes, I think of you guys as a bit of a math rock band, but in your opinion, what genre would you classify TOAST as?
I would classify TOAST as a “Post-Math Rock” band. When I think of math rock bands, I think of bands like Don Caballero, Giraffes? Giraffes!, and Auto!Automatic!!. We definitely have a very mathematical sound, but I don’t want to limit myself to a strictly math rock style of music… I want to continue to push my music to new heights and challenge myself to become an innovator of the underground music scene.
Tell me a bit about the recording of your new album, specifically, where did you guys record it at and who was the producer?
We recorded with Michael Freeman at Hummingbird Studios in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was a new experience for all of us, and Michael was a ton of fun to work with. There were times the tension was high, due to conflicting schedules, but we managed to pull it off before Champy left for his internship in California and before Michael left for Belmont University in Tennessee.
What made you choose to give the album away for free on Bandcamp instead of selling it the old fashioned way?
I really am not worried about making any money off of our first EP. I feel like the best way for TOAST to spread and to show that we are doing this for the sheer passion of making music is to just give it away.
Currently your drummer Champy is in California which has made it kind of hard to do shows, what are your plans for the band when he returns home?
Yea, we are currently taking a break until Champy gets back in December. I have already started working on new material for a full-length album, so I’m sure after a month or so of getting back in the swing of things and learning a few new songs, we will be back in show business.
If you guys were to do a tour and could bring any band you wanted on the road with you, who would you choose?
If it was a local tour, I would love to go on the road with Caddywhompus or local metal band, Whoa! Nelly. All the guys from W!N are good friends of mine, and I know that a few weeks on the road with them would be a blast. If we had the chance to do a bigger tour, I would love to go on the road with Tera Melos. My life would officially be complete.
If you were stuck by yourself on a desert island with nothing but a walkman and five cd’s, which cd’s would you choose to bring with you?
Hmmm… that’s tough. I’d say my 5 would be Tera Melos’ “Patagonian Rats”, Hella’s “Hold Your Horse Is”, Zach Hill’s “Face Tat”, Gorillaz’ “Demon Days”, and Modest Mouse’s “Good News For People Who Love Bad News”. The Tera Melos, Hella, and Zach Hill albums are some of my current tops, and the Gorillaz and Modest Mouse albums are a few of my favorites growing up.
Finally, if you could achieve any particular goal with TOAST what would it be and why?
I would love for TOAST to inspire people to create. I would love to open up a few minds with my music and to influence local musicians to start new, crazy as shit bands, keeping the Monroe music scene alive and growing.
In this small Monroe, La music scene, there aren’t very many musicians who have been around as long as Ali Hijazi. He’s been in various bands and various genres, he’s also run a music venue and been involved in both all ages shows and bar shows. He’s a good friend of mine and someone I knew had to be interviewed for my site. This interview was done at Tsunami a few weeks ago and you can see his rockabilly band Gatorbait playing there this coming Sunday August 19 with Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. Check out the event HERE. You can listen to Gatorbait HERE and Flea Circus HERE. Also, if you are in a band and would like to be featured in an interview or review on my site, hit me up HERE.
How long have you been playing music?
Probably since 13, i’m almost 30, so like 17 years I guess.
How many different bands have you been in around this area?
As far as bands i’ve been doing shows with, somewhere maybe in the neighborhood of 20. As far as my own bands that I started with other people, maybe 10 or 12 or something like that.
Which ones are you still active in right now?
Right now, Flea Circus and Gatorbait still and I’m trying to start a band with a couple of friends of mine, like maybe in the near future i’ll have another one.
Are you ever going to work on a new Gatorbait album?
Probably not…by the way…I literally just heard someone say “you talked about my sisters pussy” and I can’t stop laughing…(just then someone comes up and says “never forget, guys…vagina…it’s all about vagina”). Man…I can’t stop laughing thinking about that…anyways…as far as another Gatorbait album goes, I think we’re kinda done writing music, me and Jake and Tyler all are doing Flea Circus now, with Gatorbait we’re kind of just doing on the side so that we can still have a punk/rockabilly band in town.
You’ve gotta put that upright bass to use somehow…
Right, I spent fucking $1,000 on a bass, so ya know, I wanna be able to play it. Every few months or so we’ll do a Gatorbait show with the same songs we did before and stuff, but we haven’t really written anything in a while and I don’t think we’re planning on doing that, like everything we started writing kinda started sounding kinda post-punk so we were like “lets start a fuckin post-punk band instead” and that’s what we did and we went in that direction, so we’re gonna leave Gatorbait in this enclosed capsule where we bring it out every once in a while and we open it up and it’s the rockabilly thing, maybe if there’s a touring rockabilly band or a touring bluesish kinda band that would go good with us, we’ll open up for that.
Does Gatorbait have any upcoming shows?
Yeah, August 19th we’re playing with Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band, it’s a Sunday, but I would love it if everybody came out. That’s the only Gatorbait show we’ve got going on any time soon though
We’ve just been writing new stuff, we’ve got like 4 new songs written since the last time we played a live show, so hopefully we’ll have a whole half of a set that’s new material the next time we play. We’d like to play some time this month, but it’ll probably be late August or early September.
I always like finding out musicians’ personal taste and I’m wondering…if there were a big steel cage set up with tables, ladders, and chairs everywhere with The Misfits in one corner, The Dead Kennedys in another corner, and Black Flag in another corner…who comes out with the championship belt?
So it’s The Misfits, The Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag?
Yeah, who wins the title?
Black Flag with who as the singer?
Rollins’ Black Flag…Danzig’s Misfits and The Dead Kennedys…Dead Kennedys are out.
Dead Kennedy’s are done in the fuckin first 5 seconds, so it’s between Black Flag and The Misfits at that point.Shit, dude, I’m gonna be on the side of the underdogs here and say Black Flag. They’re skinny wimps with the exception of Rollins.
And Danzig clearly has a glass jaw.
Yeah, that and dudes who like to pose that much probably don’t have alot under their belt, anybody who postures for the camera that much…it’s little dick syndrome, ya know? You’ve got motherfuckers driving around in big trucks, it’s the same kinda person, ya know? They’re just into punk rock instead of driving around in big trucks.
As far as personal taste goes, if you could have written any ever, what would it be?
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”
If you were to curate your own festival and you could choose any active bands to play alongside your bands Gatorbait and Flea Circus, who would you choose?
If it was going to coincide along with the kind of music that my bands are?
If it was going to be a cohesive festival with rock n’ roll music I would choose bands like “We Were Promised Jetpacks”, that’s one of my new favorites. Damn, dude, that’s a hard question, i’m trying to differentiate my personal taste with what my bands would go with.
Go with personal taste, then.
If I created my own show i’d love to have, like a really big popular band, somebody like New Order. Let’s say New Order is headlining the festival, then you could have bands like Interpol, Rapture, The Cure, Andrew Bird, I really like Andrew Bird alot. One of my favorite artists is Jens Lekman, he’s like a Swedish guy who does really great, like, acoustic folky type songs, like storyteller kind of songs, so I guess my ideal festival would be kind of like a low-key, folky thing like that..with people like Fion…uhh..
*gives a strange stare* Fione Regan, I like him alot.
Let me ask another question then, this is something I’m very curious about, I know you grew up on punk rock, hardcore, and metal, do you still listen to the kind of stuff you grew up on, or have you progressed past that? Alot of people grow up on those genres and then move past it because they get sick of the same old stuff, do you feel that way?
Yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, I do. I feel like if I walked up to 19 year old Ali with a cd of Jens Lekman and a picture of him and I said this is what you’re going to be into in 10 years, you’re gonna really like this guy alot. I think that 19 year old Ali would tell me to fuck off and, like, he’d get really pissed off and he’d spout a bunch of shit about how my musical tastes are fucking garbage and I’m a fuckin pussy and all that stuff and I would tell 19 year old Ali to go fuck himself, and 19 year old Ali would take a swing at me, but I’m bigger and tougher now, so I would beat the fuck out of 19 year old Ali, i’d kick him in the face and tell him “go listen to Jens Lekman, go listen to Andrew Bird, stop bein such a fuckin pussy yourself, stop being afraid to listen to music that’s not punk rock, stop being afraid to listen to music that’s not like the same 4 chord bullshit over and over again, maybe try to listen to something that’s like, ya know, good. Not saying that punk rock and heavy metal aren’t good, but it gets boring as shit after a while, man, so does folk music and all that stuff, but you’ve got to just keep going and expand a little bit, don’t be such a narrowminded dick”. That’s what i’d tell 19 year old Ali
You’ve been playing in bands in this area for a very long time.
13 or 14 years, probably.
How would you say the scene has progressed since then.
The scene is exactly the same. If we’re talking about volume of people that are into the scene, it’s exactly the same. If we’re talking about the caliber or quality of people, it’s very similar, I mean, we’re into different stuff now, but it’s still a very similar quality of person. But with personalities, it’s like that no matter where you go in the world, man, you’re gonna find those same personalities. People are all essentially the same everywhere and Monroe’s always going to be the same size town it is, so statistically speaking you’re always going to have the same type of people that are into the same type of thing, you’re always going to have the same percentage of bars that play the same type of music, or host the same type of music, you’re always gonna have that shit, and it’s cool, man, I think it’s interesting to watch generation after generation come and go. The bars change location, they change attitude, they change style, but they’re all essentially the same personalities.
If you could change one thing about the scene now, what would you change?
I would really like it if there were more venues to play, I like options, I don’t like that Tsunami is really the only rock n’ roll gig in town. I like Tsunami, it’s cool, but I would very much like to see another rock n’ roll spot. I know there’s like random here and there’s but when there was The Blue Monkey, Olive Street, and there was always another floating third party bar and all ages shows and stuff, that was cool, but now we’re down to like one pretty much and that’s a bummer. We don’t play shows in town very much because there’s the one bar and you get exhaused, ya know? So that’s what I would change, I would change the amount of venues.
I’ve been working on some pretty cool stuff for the site lately, specifically some new interviews. There are alot of great musicians in this town, but one of my favorites is John Barnes primarily known as the drummer for The Vidrines, but he’s also involved with a few other projects, specifically a new solo project you can listen to HERE. You can also check out his other projects The Vidrines and The Rape Ape by clicking the links. Thanks for reading!
You’ve been involved in music in the local Monroe, La scene for many years now and in many various projects; how long have you been playing music and what current projects are you involved in?
I’ve been playing in bands and stuff since I was 15 or 16 years old. My current projects right now are drummer for The Vidrines, going on 9 years with that band, i’m a rapper in The Rape Ape known as Category 7, i’ve also recently started my own solo project John Thomas Barnes and The New Frontiersman, and I do alot of hired-gun gigs for different blues, rock and zydeco bands.
I’ve noticed that each of your projects has a different vibe, whether it be rock or hip hop or even punk; who are some of the main bands or musicians who have inspired you as a musician?
Alot of bands have inspired me, you know, alot of pop stuff, believe it or not, stuff like Eurythmics and Duran Duran. As far as metal goes, stuff like Slayer, Tool, Slipknot, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Musician-wise, Jimmy Page, Stewart Copeland and John Bonham just to name a few, there’s really too many to name, i’m all over the board when it comes to music, i’ll listen to anything with the exception of modern country.
When I listen to your current solo project titled John Thomas Barnes, I can’t help but notice a bit of an electronic, almost Marilyn Manson or Prong type of vibe as far as the sound of the vocals and even some of the instrumentation goes, where did you record the songs for your solo project and did you play all of the instruments?
I recorded it at Leaf Lust studios, Craig Just produced it and I co-produced it and played all the instruments and sang.
What inspires your lyrics for your songs? Particularly with the song “Big Truck”, it seems to be about a certain type of person, what is that song about?
Most of my song lyrics start out with a very basic idea, the song “Big Truck”, literally at face value is about a phenomenon that we call sabra’s which are rednecks. It’s literally about these guys who drive these huge trucks and like to make them loud and violate the noise ordinance, it’s fascinating to me, so we wrote a song about it. I’ll take a root idea, like the song “Train Bridge” is about a Train Bridge, of course there’s other meanings behind it and stuff, but sometimes they’ll just come to me, usually a chorus will come to me first before I write any lyrics.
Do you write lyrics/songs for any of your other projects like The Rape Ape or The Vidrines?
In The Rape Ape I write all my own lyrics and in The Vidrines i’ve helped out with the writing some, not with the lyrics, but the collaborative effor with the music, the guys who sing write their own lyrics.
Is your solo project more of a side gig, or do you have bigger plans for it, possibly a full length album or even live shows?
Definitely, i’ve already finished the first album “21st Century Blues”, i’ve already gotten a second album in the works, I kind of already know what i’m gonna be doing, i’ve definitely got big plans for it for sure. Right now it’s a side project but only because i’m having trouble finding players to work up the live show with, that’s kind of the stage we’re at now, material wise i’ve got it though.
As an underground musician who’s played many small, intimate shows at coffee shops and bars, if you were given a choice between playing small venues for just enough cash to cover gas money for the rest of your career, or huge arena rock shows that paid very well, but you had to play a different style of music like Creed or Nickelback, which would you choose?
Definitely the huge arena stuff, i’d sell out immediately for money, dude, right off the bat, no doubt about it.
Speaking of touring and playing shows, if you had a tour of the US lined up for one of your projects, which active bands or musicians would you choose to bring along as your support acts?
If I had to set up a tour for The Vidrines i’d like to work with bands like The Talking Heads and Cake. With The Rape Ape i’d like to tour with Cool Kids, they’re out of Dallas, they’re a really good act, as well as maybe Sonic Youth. For my solo project, i’d love to tour with The Black Keys in an ideal world.
If you were to find yourself stranded with nothing but a walkman and 5 cds, what would you pick to be your 5 desert island discs?
Led Zeppelin – IV, Duran Duran – Greatest Hits, Eurythmics – Greatest Hits, Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral, and a Tool greatest hits album.
Finally, if you could have written any song ever, what song would it be and why?
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin because christians hate that song and that’s the only reason.
Lately i’ve been doing show reviews of the various local shows i’ve been going to. For today’s installment i’m writing about the July 18th show at Tsunami I went to featuring The Heritage and SUPER bob. This show was also the annual summer party for the “Deuce Army”, i’m not sure exactly who they are, but they seemed to be having a ton of fun, haha. When talking to the members of The Heritage recently, they all seemed very excited about this show because it was the first official show of their 2012 Deathwalk Weekend Roadshow, however, the day before the show their vocalist Heath announced via Facebook to the band and their fans that he was quitting The Heritage which caught alot of people by surprise.
When the band took the stage Wednesday night, there was a strange vibe in the air and you could definitely tell it wasn’t a normal Heritage show. Something just seemed…off, it could be because Mitch was dressed as Superman and Rus was dressed as Batman, but it could also be the overwhelming feeling that the set seemed a bit uninspired, specifically because of Heath’s abrupt announcement that this was his last show. They still managed to churn out a beefy set of southern-fried metalcore played with plenty of ferocity and their riffs are also incredibly catchy which makes it impossible not to nod your head. As the band neared the end of their set, Heath passed the mic to another person, Garrett Kent formerly of Payment Through Blood. Once Garrett took the stage, something interesting happened, the band took on a more intense pace and as Garrett bellowed his completely improvisational lyrics, instead of coming through with a southern tone like the previous vocalist, they came through with a hateful, violent, death metalesque roar and changed the game completely. With the excitement of a new vocalist going through a baptism by fire, you could feel an excited energy from both the band and the crowd, and though they only did two or three songs together, you could tell that there was a bit of a passing of the torch as The Heritage literally went from one era to the next in one show. Sound-wise, I feel that by mixing Mitch and Rus’s catchy, unintentionally-Botch-inspired riffs with Chris and Garrett’s metal background, The Heritage are going to turn alot of heads with their new sound.
After The Heritage played, I wanted to stick around and watch SUPER bob, however, I jumped at the opportunity to ask Garrett a few questions, I also wanted to find out more details about the recent lineup change
Johnny Ringo: Garrett, you’ve been in a few different bands before, specifically the death metal band Payment Through Blood, what inspired you to join The Heritage?
Garrett: The Heritage are a group of my friends that are serious about music and i’ve been looking for that for awhile, and I get a very chill vibe from everyone in the band which is a big part of me joining this specific band. Also, I haven’t had alot of opportunities lately so i’m very excited.
Johnny: For people who know The Heritage and have seen them before, what do you think they should expect from the new look version of The Heritage, specifically the fact that the music seems to be getting alot heavier?
Garrett: With the sound getting heavier, people are going to see a different side of The Heritage, i’m just hoping that whenever somebody comes to a show and hears the band sounding heavier, they are able to bang their head and enjoy the fuck out of some metal.
I also had a few questions for the entire band regarding the lineup change that took place that very evening.
Johnny: You guys have just gone through a major lineup change, what do you expect to achieve with the new version of the lineup with Garrett on vocals?
Chris: Basically, the newer songs that Mitch and Rus are coming up with as far as grooves and riffs go, they have a darker tone, kind of like we’re almost settling into our own spot in the world of music if you will. The sound and the texture of it is not as poppy, it’s got more of a deeper and darker kind of tone that we’re beginning to produce,
Mitch: Kind of swampy.
Rus: Not black, but more of a charcoal.
Mitch: One thing that i’m looking forward to the most with the lineup change really, is the comraderie because there were alot of times with Heath, ya know, I mean, I love Heath and we’ve been best friends since we were six years old, we started the band together in 2006, but he can be tough to work with in stressful situations. We all handle stress differently, some people are laid back and some are uptight, and when you throw them in together it doesn’t work sometimes, so i’m looking forward to the relaxed vibe with a bunch of chilled guys that don’t sweat the small stuff, we’re supposed to be musicians to play and have fun and it’s not supposed to be stressful; it’s supposed to be a stress release and that’s something i’m looking forward to the most.
Johnny: Are you guys going to do like Metallica and hire a band therapist?
Mitch: We really aren’t going to need a band therapist, the only person I see myself getting into an argument with is Smitty over who touched his drumset, kind of like in Step Brothers, he can tell when someone has touched his drumset.
Chris: I’ve made that exact statement “it seems that someone has touched my drumset”.
Johnny: Will there be balls on the drumset?
Mitch: I tried to put em on there but he threatened to stab me in the neck with a knife.
With the new lineup solidified, the band will be playing many dates throughout the south over the next two or three months and I wanted to find out which stops they are most excited about.
Johnny: This is your first real tour, right?
Mitch: Well, it’s more of a weekend roadshow, it’s not consecutive dates, it’s just every weekend we’re going to different cities throughout Louisiana,Mississippi and Texas to, ya know, show what we got.
Johnny: What all cities are y’all going to be playing on this roadshow?
Mitch: Pineville, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Broussard, Jackson, Ms and Dallas, Tx
Johnny: Of all of the cities that you guys are playing, are there any that you’re really excited about going to?
Mitch: The Shreveport show the second weekend, i’m pretty excited about that. It’s called the W.A.R.R and P.E.A.C.E festival, I know that the people who are putting that on have been doing a really good job of promoting it, making sure that people know about it, they’ve already pre-sold like over 200 tickets so far, so i’m really excited to see how that one turns out.
Mitch: Uhh…we’re not playing Toronto
Garrett: Dallas because, i’ve always liked bigger cities, and ya know, they always have a better scene and more people are into our type of music in those kinds of cities so i’m looking forward to a hyped up show.
Johnny: When you’re playing in a bigger city like Dallas, what do you expect the audience to take away from your set?
Mitch: Well, in bigger cities, you have alot more to prove the first time you play, so really it’s on us to give the best live show we possibly can and try to destroy whatever we can and piss off whoever we can so that whoever is there remembers that we were the band that fucked everything up.
Chris: I’d like for somebody to be able to realize that there’s more than just straight up metalcore or something of that progressive nature, that there is different music out there that shines and there are bands out there that do many different genre’s and fuse different influences to come up with something great.
Mitch: Too many bands sound the exact same nowadays, sometimes you’ll see a show and with all three bands, you can’t really tell which band just got done playing and which band is next because they all sound the same. So we want to make sure that we have a modern sound, but we’re able to put all of our influences in our stuff.
The music scene here in Monroe, La has featured it’s fair share of bands who are insanely talented but never go anywhere, it’s also featured bands like Dead Twins who cut their chops playing in a small town, and moved on to bigger and better things in Dallas, Tx. Dead Twins is a monstrous rock n’ roll band formed by Gabe and Nick Cardinale, formerly of the band Maroon, a band many consider to be a legend in the Monroe music scene. I wanted to interview Gabe of Dead Twins and see what they’ve been up to, and what it’s like going from being a big fish in a small pond, to being a small fish in one of the biggest ponds in America. You can check out Dead Twins on Facebook HERE and listen to their debut album “Polarized” on Spotify HERE, you can also buy “Polarized” from their record label HERE. If you or your band would like to be featured on my site, please contact me on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
It’s been a while since i’ve seen or heard anything from you guys, but your debut album “Polarized” came out in January of 2011, did you guys record the album yourselves or did you go to a fancy studio?
Polarized was recorded at Valve Studios in Dallas, TX with Casey DiIorio. The spot is posh.
“Polarized” was released on british record label Shifting Sounds. How did you guys get hooked up with them?
Nick met Shifting Sounds label persons while drumming on tour with Magnet School in the UK.
On “Polarized”, I noticed on songs like “Locomotive” and “Sick Again” that there is a bit of a Tool influence with the guitar tone and some of the rhythms. Was that done with that particular sound in mind or were you just going for the heaviest sound possible?
If you think we sound anything like Opiate or Undertow we are very flattered.
The last time I saw you guys live at The Blue Monkey (r.i.p.), you were just a two piece. Have you added any other members in the last few years for recording and touring?
“True, the band was originally a two-piece, “Dead Twins has always been a rotating line-up of Dallas misfits.”
With “Polarized” now being over a year old, do you have any plans to record a new record in the future? Also, are there any plans for a tour any time soon?
We still work on music. The last Twins shows were at South by Southwest earlier this Spring. Since then we’ve had a few irons in the fire in Dallas.
You guys grew up in the Monroe/West Monroe area, so you’re obviously familiar with what it’s like trying to play music in a small town music scene. Now that you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where there is a huge music scene, have you found that it’s easier to get bigger shows and play to larger crowds, or is it equally as difficult due to the vast amount of bands and venues there?
We just play our songs and fortunately, people dig them. We live and play in Deep Ellum with the musicians and artists, chicks and dudes. We all have fun and support each other like a family in this town. It’s real.
While in Shreveport many years ago, I was at a record store called Disc Daddy and picked up a copy of the album “Born Telekinetic” by your old band Maroon which is now 10 years old this year. Looking back, do you have any particular fond memories from the recording of that album, or even “Senna”?
Born Telekinetic was co-recorded by Kenneth Sanders in a strange old farm house outside of Monroe. It was mixed at the 91.1 KXUL production studio on the campus of ULM. Maroon and Dr. Sanders love those songs very much. We worked really hard on that album and it represents a certain time in our lives. If you were a part of that chapter in the Monroe music scene, you know what I’m talking about. A couple of years later we recorded Senna in an equally haunted building in downtown Monroe.
Having played many shows over the years, do you have any particular favorite memories from a show or a tour?
I’ll never forget the tours with Dropsonic, The Feds and Doosu. We had so much fun playing all over the south and the mid-west. The Halloween Shiner show at The Shamrock was unreal. And who do you think started the Monroe Christmas Fade? Holla.
Now that you guys have gone through the process of putting out an album through a record label, what are your thoughts on the state of the music industry? If you could change one thing about the state of the industry what would it be?
WE WANT TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FAST.
When someone sees a Dead Twins show, or listens to “Polarized” what would you like them to take away from that experience? Also, if you were given a choice to bring any 2 or 3 active bands on tour with you, who would they be?
I always wanted to make some kid feel like I felt when I used to listen to Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. Hopefully I’ll do that some day.”
You guys seem to have grown up with an appreciation of classic rock and rock n’ roll in general, but what bands would you say have influenced your particular playing style?
Nick and I grew up in a house that had a great vinyl library. Ten Years After, The Doors, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and such. We were fortunate. I think it totally comes through in everything we do now. Nice catch!
In towns with small music scenes, there are always one or two local bands who come along and blow the doors off of everyone and become the “it” band to see. In Monroe, La, one of those bands is Mailbomber. Mailbomber consists of guitarist/vocalist David Fluke and drummer Daniel Cumpton. They are a two piece that plays a mix of sludge, punk, hardcore, death, doom and they do so with a hella bad attitude. They have a couple of local shows coming up, so I wanted to catch up with them and learn a little more about them. Below you’ll find a flyer to their show with Sheeple and Black Tar Prophet at Tsunami Saturday July 7th, they are also playing W.A.R.R in Shreveport, La which features them and The Heritage alongside other bands, as well as jello wrestling and a wet t-shirt contest, you can find out more about that here. You can listen to Mailbomber’s demo “Desolation” here and their facebook page here.
Mailbomber has been around for many years, and in many different incarnations, how did you guys go from a four piece hardcore band, to a two piece playing sludge-punk?
David Fluke(guitar/vox):Our sound has progressed as our taste in music has. Originally, we were Pitstain!, just a bunch of punks who never got out of our garage. Slowly, that project became heavier as we started listening to more Power-Violence, which gave way to Hanging Heads. We’ve always been into metal, and the last year or so of Hanging Heads brought out an entirely different sound, which we dubbed Mailbomber. We were a three piece for a while, then we lost our guitar player, so I went to guitar and vocals. The two-piece vibe is so much more intense, we decided to stick with it.
When one listens to your debut demo “Desolation”, they are greeted by two main ingredients: absolute, 1000% straight from the tap anger, and a bukkake of sludge, punk, crust, and doom. What bands would you say have had the most inspiration on Mailbomber’s sound?
David: For “Desolation,” bands like Ceremony, Entombed, Mammoth Grinder and Mind Eraser definitely had an influence.
Daniel Cumpton(drums): We are influenced by bands like Mammoth Grinder , Hatred Surge, Slayer, Converge and so on
You’ve crafted some incredibly angry lyrics, particularly “montezuma/burning off my flesh/exploding mountains cover the world with ash” and “I know i’m a nuisance/nothing good can come from my existence”; where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
David: Usually, it’s after a blunt and some Colt 45 that we start talking about how stupid shit is nowadays. I’m not too sure where they come from, but it’s usually something we don’t like or something that sounds brutal as shit, so we keep it.
Daniel: Our lyric inspiration comes from Monroe,Louisiana
With you and David living in different towns, but still playing shows together, how often are you able to practice and write? Will there be any new Mailbomber recordings to surface in the future?
Daniel: Well hopefully by next year I will be in the N.O. with Dave and we will be able to write everyday and we are currently working on a full length .
When someone goes to a Mailbomber show, whether it be at a scummy bar, a sketchy house show, or in a back alley littered with homeless people and used heroin needles and broken pbr bottles, what would you like them to take away from your live show?
David: We put a lot into our live shows. We don’t have any particular message to get out other than it’s alright to be pissed off. Offend who you will and keep doing it. Fuck the police.
If you were given the choice of playing in a band like Foo Fighters and playing huge sold out shows and making plenty of money, or touring in a crappy van playing 200 shows a year for basically just enough money to cover food and gas with Mailbomber, which would you choose?
David: The latter, most definitely. Foo Fighters and bands like that can suck it. I feel like they probably forget what it’s like to play a badass show, hangout with everybody at the show and get fucked up with them. That’s where the fun is, for us.
In the past, bands like Neurosis and Voivod have been asked to curate the lineup for festivals like the Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival; if a show promoter asked Mailbomber to curate the lineup for a festival, what active bands would you put on the bill?
David: Oh man. For me it’d have to be Coffinworm, Municipal Waste, Iron Lung, Ceremony, Nile and Magrudergrind. That would be a gnarly show
There are 3 particularly important times in the history of heavy metal, the 70′s nwobhm scene in the UK with bands like Motorhead, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, the 80′s thrash scene in the bay area with Metallica, Testament, and Exodus, and the 90′s death metal scene in Florida with Morbid Angel, Death, and Obituary. If you could choose to be playing music as part of just one of these scenes, which would you prefer and why?
David: I would have loved to be a part of the 80′s thrash scene. There’s this band, Atheist, that was formed in 1984 i would have loved to get some shows with. Plus, Metallica and Testament? C’mon.
This weekend, i’ll be unveiling my top 25 favorite albums of 2012 so far, if you were to make a list of your 5 favorite albums of 2012 so far, what would be on that list?
David: So far, Municipal Waste’s The Fatal Feast, Ceremony- Zoo. (I haven’t gotten much music this year, but fuck it.)
There are many great local bands in the North Louisiana area and with these interviews I try to spotlight my favorites. The band i’m interviewing today is The Navigator, a very interesting/funky rock band who has been in the scene for quite a few years now. The Navigator are playing at both Delta Fest and Tsunami this weekend, you can check them out here.
How long have you been playing music? If you had to choose a hobby other than being a musician, what would it be?
Vance Box (bass): I’ve been playing bass for 15+ years and guitar for 3 or so. I can’t really think of much in the way of hobbies, music has always taken precedence over things like that. I do, however, love gardening. you know, plants and stuff.
Tony Valdez (drums): Ive been playing drums for about 11 years and if I didnt play music I would probably a pornstar or hunt or fish all the time. I love shooting hoops also!
Vinnie Fletcher (guitar): Oh about 17 years playing around with guitars and basses.
Fletch (guitar/vocals): Been playing for about 13-ish years. I would have killed to have been a comic book artist as a child, and have recently started thinking about writing children’s books. Silly, right?
What would you say is the main goal you are trying to achieve with your music?
Vance: As with any other form of art, I think the main goal is to express yourself. To have that outlet is important. None of us are getting any younger and the great thing about music is that it will always change with you.
Tony: My goal with our music is to look out in the crowd of thousands that are dancing and singing to our music.
Vinnie: To have fun and enjoy my favorite creative outlet.
Fletch: My main goal as a musician is what I’d figure any musician’s is: Be heard. Be enjoyed. Make people feel something in a way that’s relative to the sound and tone of the music, as well as creating an emotional connection between the listener and myself. Listeners can always connect with your music, but I think a truly successful musician will find a way to connect back with them.
The Navigator’s sound is incredibly diverse and not limited to any particular sub-genre’s of rock n’ roll. What bands or musicians would you say have had the biggest influence on your sound?
Vance: I’ve never been a big listener when it came to national/international bands and albums. Thats not to say that I don’t, I love bands like Crowbar, Down, High On Fire, Mastodon, Mr Bungle, and King Crimson. I’ve always been more into little bands that pass through town. I have several albums in my collection from those type of bands that I would consider the best in my collection.
Tony: Ive been a metal drummer for so long that my influences were Tony Laureno, Hellhammer, and Gene Hoglan but, now that ive slowed my roll with navigator ive been more influenced by Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age and The Polie.
Vinnie: Thanks, I think we are pretty diverse too. I come from a background of ’90′s rock…Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc… I went through a jazzy fusion stage liking groups like Mahavishnu, Bitches brew, Chick Corea, etc… I’m a big lover of groove oriented rock that’s not limited by anything. whatever sounds good, do it.
Fletch: This is a tough one. I think first and foremost, we as a band must draw inspiration from each other. And I think since we all have different musical backgrounds, it creates that diversity that we’ve aqquired. Now, as far as me… I am probably as finnicky as they come when talking about musical tastes, so I ask not to be judged when I share these. I am a huge fan of Clutch, which I think is heard in our sound, as unintentional as it may be. I’ve recently become somewhat of a mo-town fanatic. Also, I sometimes wish I was the son of Tom Jones, only so he could share some of that sweet vocal genius with me through genetics. And though some of these artists can’t be heard in our sound, I tend to draw influence from the way a certain songs makes me feel.
Most people you talk to in any city in the world will say that their music scene sucks; being a band that comes from a small scene, you too have seen your share of the perils of a small music scene. If you could change one thing about your local music scene, what would it be and why?
Vance: I truly believe that everyone in NELA is thankful for what we have. If anything, I wish there were more bands and a few bigger clubs that will accept a local show. it’s very rare that a local band plays at a large club.
Tony: If I could change anything about our music scene I would open the Blue Monkey back up because it gave people another place to play music, plus it seemed bands made more money there. We need more music venues. Different crowds. new exposure! I am greatful that we have Tsunami because if it werent for them guys we wouldnt have ANYWHERE to play… KUDOS GUYS!!!
Vinnie: Add casinos, not because I like to gamble, but because it would really pick up the people traffic in the downtown area of our city.
Fletch: I would love to see more venues. Venues that aren’t biased against original bands. I don’t think it’s fair for bands like us and many others to work so hard to write songs, approach places like 6th street bar, and be denied a show because we don’t play Tom Petty. But maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t know any Tom Petty songs. Who knows? I’d also like to see more festivals and events like DeltaFest put on by the city that support local bands.
You guys have been playing shows in and around the Monroe area for the last 5 years or so, in fact, you’re playing Delta Fest tomorrow which has featured bands like Jars Of Clay and The Fray. If you could choose one active band to play a show with, who would it be and why?
Vance: Drain STH….because they’re really hot.
Tony: If I had a choice who I could have a live show with it would probably be Faith No More.
Vinnie: Hmm that’s a tough one… I would have to say Pearl Jam.
Fletch: Not sure how to answer this one. Too many variables flying around. Afraid to offend the spirits of unchosen bands. Can’t think straight. DOES. NOT. COMPUTE. ERROR. ERROR. INITIATING. SELF. DESTRUCT. MODE. ERROR. ERRORRRRRRRR-BEEEEYOOOOOooooooop….. …Who brings the biggest crowd? I’ll play with them.
If you were to go on a huge arena tour, what items would you request backstage on your tour rider?
Vance: Riders are for pussies. give us some water, a toilet and a sandwich.
Tony: If i was on tour on a tour bus, my special after-show request would be midget pornstars and lots of chocolate!!! BOOSH!!!
Vinnie: A private toilet.
Fletch: I would bring Neil Degrasse Tyson. He could tell me how the universe works while I lay nestled in a pallet. He could explain to me how the world won’t end in 2012 while I transcribe them into our next number one hit song. Him and a PS Vita too.
If you could go back in a time machine to any point in music history (ie the woodstock era, 80′s thrash metal, 90′s grunge etc) and be in a band, what era would you choose?
Vance: I would go to the early and later parts of any era of music because that is where the most experimentation would most likely occur.
Tony: If i had a music time machine I would hit up the 80s thrash metal man!!!
Vinnie: To be 19 years old in 1992 in the Seattle area with the musical understanding I have now.
Fletch: I would actually love to visit all eras of music. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Woodstock era.
What are your future plans for The Navigator? Are you planning on touring in the future?
Vance: I think we are all in agreement that a solid album is the only real landmark we’re shooting for. we’ve always been so busy writing and dealing with having a life that it’s something we’ve never put much time into. we have a great catalog of original music. the “stinky van, no food, no money” touring is something we’ve never been interested in. we all have homes and families here and those always come first.
Tony: Hopefully things will continue to progress with the navigator and we will bring you guys some funky chocolate beats!!! Touring??? Hopefully someday!!!
Vinnie: Not sure. We are planning on doing an album and doing weekend trips to places like Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, Florida, etc.
Fletch: I think the correct question should be “What are YOUR future plans for The Navigator?” By you, I mean the fans. We will be around as long the fans will have us. They are the reason we do this. They are the anchor that keeps us from going astray on this ship named “The Navigator”. Without them we’d be lost at sea.
After Delta Fest, we are going to start recording. Then, when we gather enough funds, plans for a tour will be set in motion. We will be playing Delta Fest Saturday, at 9pm on The Heritage Stage, then we’re gonna pack up, head straight over to Tsunami and play another set. We look forward to to seeing a lot of heads at both shows, and can’t wait to share our newer material as well.
Thanks so much for your time, Ringo. To quote our song Mars Agent, “See ya later, Navigator”
In Monroe, Louisiana, there aren’t many radio stations that actually play good rock n’ roll music. There is, however, a new station in town called 92.7 The Razor, whose motto is “everything that rocks”. I sat down with Brock Harris today to discuss the new station’s format, and find out some more info about it. Brock is also a musician and below you’ll find links to his various music projects. You can check out 92.7 The Razor on Facebook here.
How long have you been involved in radio, and what is your role currently at The Razor?
Well, I have been in radio since 2007. My interest in it goes back quite a bit further, but 2007 is when I went to work at Opus Broadcasting in Monroe. Started as a part time employee and within
about four months I was full time/salaried/production manager. And there I would stay for my five year stint at that company.
As for the new station 92.7 The Razor (KBYO-FM Farmerville/Monroe), I was called up by a former Opus co-worker of mine and he said theywere going to flip this pop station to rock and asked if I wanted in on it. I was like, “Hell yes, let’s do this!” I’d been out of radio for a few months, trying my hand at a couple other things, and it just sucked. I’d say radio ruined me for any other career.
As it stands now, I am on air middays (10-2 PM Central), and I’m doing radio sales on the side. The format we play is “rock hits”. Mainly stuff from ’85-’08-ish… Songs people know by the first note or two. A format that will sell. So you are apt to hear Metallica, Nirvana, Live, 4 Non Blondes, Alanis Morissette, Shinedown, Disturbed, Mudvayne, Spin Doctors, Soul Asylum, Veruca Salt, Staind, Ozzy, Counting Crows… You get the idea? Rock has many forms, and we aim to play the more accessible of those forms. It’s radio. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a fucking business too. Some people forget that!
(At the time of this interview, we are reworking our iPhone and Android apps. You will be able to find them by searching KBYO. You can currently listen online or on your phone through TuneIn.com’s service by searching KBYO.)
Were there any dj’s that you listened to growing up that inspired you to pursue a career in radio?
Honestly, no. I mean, I could name off some DJs of yore, but they never inspired me per se. My inspiration came from the job itself. I mean, it’s not navigating the space shuttle, and it isn’t brain surgery,
but you have to have a knack for it, and that knack has to be honed. I’m still honing my knack. Probably always will be.
What audience would you say The Razor is trying to target? Also, what would you say separates your station from the other stations in town that play similar types of music?
We hope we have something for everyone, but realistically, that’s just not possible. Our target demographic is men 25-50 (with a margin of +/- on either side by five years). We want to appeal to the female rockers too… Anyone can listen, without regards to age or genitilia. There are a couple of other rock format stations in town… There’s the college station which is college rock obviously. There’s “THE” rock station with a much bigger tower in town. Honestly, that 100,000 watt stick is dwarfed by the DJs’ egos. I was on that station for years. Little did I realize how quickly those fuckers will turn on you when you wind up on air across town. But yeah, good guys. Just a little petty. It’s fucking radio, people. Try and contain your egos. We all want to make a buck and feed our family. Anyway, they play more classic stuff than we do. More Zeppelin, more ZZ Top. Shit like that. They play some modern stuff too, and I think that’s where the threat from us comes in. I honestly don’t know or care. I sleep just fine.
I know that the reason any fan of hard rock/heavy metal gets into radio is to play awesome songs and stick it to the man, how hard is it to separate the songs that you want to play vs the songs you know people will actually want to hear?
When I was starting out a few years ago, I’d slip in songs that I THOUGHT the people should hear left and right. It would be nothing for me, on my late night rock show, to remove what I considered crap and slip in some Ramones, Misfits, Cramps, Black Flag, Gwar, Cradle of Filth, or Deicide. And I fucking did it too! I brought those awesome bands to Monroe radio. In hindsight, as far as radio goes, you probably just alienate more listeners than you win over. People don’t listen to the radio to be enlightened. They want to hear what’s popular. That is just how it goes.
What are your thoughts on Clear Channel and the stranglehold they have over the radio industry?
My capitalist side says “GOOD FOR CLEAR CHANNEL! MAKE THAT MONEY!” But there are countless people- my broadcasting brethren- who have lost their livelihoods at the hands of Clear Channel’s “let’s do more with less” approach. It’s fucked up, sick, and it’s sad for those people. This doesn’t just affect DJs, but a lot of folks who were working behind the scenes for Clear Channel stations as well. You’ll never hear me call for government involvement on how a private business is run… but there’s a fine line between unethical and just plain evil… I don’t know… I don’t have any perfect answers. I am just fortunate to be employed where I am. We have a small, tight establishment, and I love it.
Most pop stations nowadays play Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift songs every hour on the hour, if there were a band you had to play one song from every hour, who would you choose?
Oh, man! Can I pick two?! Because I think the world could benefit from at least one Flaming Lips song, one Ween song, and one Ramones song each hour. That’s three. I picked three! Oh, and Guided by Voices. There’s four. How are you gonna ask me to pick just one?!
Most radio stations in bigger markets put on their own station-sponsored festivals; if you were to arrange a festival sponsored by The Razor, what active bands would be on the bill?
Wow… In addition to the previously mentioned bands (save for the Ramones), I’d love to have Slipknot, Job for a Cowboy, some Slayer play. Gotta have the heavy/thrash shit. But I’d also dig seeing Soul Asylum, Better Than Ezra, The Cure, The Buzzcocks, some Ariel Pink… These are just random, top of my head bands that I love. Bands that I would try to book for a two or three day festival. The list is really endless.
On top of being a dj, you are also an actual musician. Are you currently involved with any particular projects?
Yeah. I am currently doing it completely solo. I have tried the band thing countless times and it does more harm than good. I may sound like a butt hurt little bitch, but here goes: In my experience, people are more often governed by their desire to get wasted than to get shit done. People listen more to their clingy significant other than to their heart. I love whiskey and women. A lot. But the music has kept me sane when the whiskey ran out and the women ran off. I started recording on cassette many years ago. I recorded in a handful of studios, but honestly, I was always happier with my D.I.Y. (do it yourself) efforts. There’s something much more intimate about writing, performing, and producing music at home. There’s no time or budget constraints. It all comes down to feeling inspired. The production sounds good. It’s not shitty lo-fi (though I LOVE lo-fi music, go figure)… but it’s not the slick, over produced sound that bands in million dollar studios get either. If that’s your thing, go for it. No record companies or fans are knocking down my door, and I’m getting to make the music I love to make. If I want to cover a song, I cover it. I’d say I’m coming out on top in that sense. Total freedom.
I guess I should plug what I do as well. Sometimes I feel like putting stuff out under my own name. So I set up http://brockharris.bandcamp.com for that. Sometimes a “band name” seems more appropriate, so there’s Analog Moonlight for that. Ultimately, it’s just me playing under different monikers. Oh, and there’s a project I do with my wife Rachael called “The Royal Badgers“. It’s more silly than anything. Check that out. That’s where my non-melancholy, non-I hate myself and want to die stuff goes. That’s me being the silly guy I really am. I wrote and released under Blue Skies in Hell from 1999 to 2011, but for various reasons, I left it behind. I may expand on that some other time. Now it’s just Brock Harris, Analog Moonlight, and The Royal Badgers. You’ve been warned.
As a musician, and a fan of different types of music, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
Again, can I pick more than one? How about “Sunday Morning Coming Down”? Because it’s awesome no matter who does it. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, ‘cuz I’d be fucking rich if I’d written that. “Sweet Georgia Brown” (better known as the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme song). How awesome of a conversation starter would that be? “Smells Like Teen Spirit” because that one song kind of changed music as a whole. “Welcome to the Jungle” for the same reason.
Axl Rose is a caricature of who he used to be. He doesn’t see what we see. But “Appetite for Destruction” is a document of aural awesomeness and is probably the greatest debut album of all time. That’s subjective, but I’ve felt that way for 25 years.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?
I think record companies are more compelled than ever to give the listener a product they will actually pay for. Whether through downloads or compact discs. The twenty dollar single disc with ten songs on it is a thing of the past. I think that with music piracy comes the often unsung upside of music discovery. I always recommend http://bandcamp.com for up and coming artists. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, other than I use their service. But I have scoured the web, and I find that they are best suited for what I’m trying to do.
I think music is just fine. I was so bitter for so long about how widespread and deep rooted pop music is in contemporary culture. The thing is, most people only listen to music on a surface level. And that by the numbers pop music is fine with them. It gives them all they need from music. For someone who eats, sleeps, and dreams music, that took a long time to comprehend and a little longer to accept. There are seven billion people on Earth. They can’t all be in to your favorite bands. Some are gonna like shitty music. It’s cool. It’s twelve notes played different ways. I can’t make you listen to my music, and you can’t make others not listen to the music you abhor. Live and let live. Music is your friend.
If you read this site much, you know that I enjoy interviewing bands quite a bit. With today being Friday the 13th, I thought that it would be fitting to post my interview with Jesse Moore, singer of the band Blvck Pvssy. Blvck Pvssy are from the huge town of Vicksburg, Ms, and are one of the more intimdating live bands you’ll ever see. You can check out Blvck Pvssy HERE.
How did you get introduced to the punk/hardcore/metal scene, and at what age?
It was 1987. Some older guys used to skateboard in the alley behind my moms house. They had gnarly asymetrical haircuts, and it seemed like everything they wore had skulls and violence. They had a ramp and would charge it all day while blasting the scariest music Id ever heard out of a ghetto blaster, cranked. I fucked with it. Within 6 minutes, I knew what I wanted to be for the rest of my life. Theres more to the story than that, but what ends up happening is that they put me in the skateboard gang and started giving me mixtapes with shit like Suicidal Tendencies and Ice T on them. I went home that day and pretty much told my mom she was going to buy me a skateboard. Within a few months, I had a subscription to Thrasher Magazine and I read it like it was the holy fucking grail. Whatever bands were covered in Thrasher must have been what skaters were jammin, so I paid very close attention and schooled myself. Thrash was at its height and Gangsta Rap was creeping up heavy and I cant speak for everyone, but if you skated you “felt” bands and rappers the same way. It was aggro. I read Pusheads column and that lead me to Septic Death which was my real introduction to the most extreme bands around at the time. I kept at that speed for a few more years and started going to punk shows at my mom’s friends bar. He would have all these trippy bands from Austin, Tx play on the weekends and as long as I came with my mom, he would let me stand in the corner and bug out. By 13, I was fully immersed, and hustlng rides to any show I could find. Through the DIY hardcore scene I made friends with some other punkers that went on to be From Ashes Rise. I would ride with those guys to go see bands like Man Is The Bastard, Spazz, Assuck, His Hero Is Gone and Eyehategod. Whatever it took to be at shows, I made happen. I collected fanzines and records, buying shit from all over the world. I used to write letters to people like Chris Elder from Despise You and Max Ward from Spazz/Plutocracy to buy from the labels they ran and they always wrote back recommending me records to buy, or sending me flyers and stickers. At the same time, I was always trying to start bands but nothing ever went anywhere. A couple house shows at the most, and then someone would quit. Eventually, years and years later, I stayed with the whole punk/hardcore/metal (and hiphop/rap as well many forms of music) scene, and looking back, its a fact that I have dedicated the bigger part of my life to it and there isn’t anyone who can dispute that fact.
So you’re what would be referred to as a “Lifer”, correct?
Yeah, in a sense. I’m sure when people see me they get that impression. Do i care about the scene as a whole? not really. I’m going to stay tuned with what I like, but just because someone is in “the scene” doesnt make them family. There are alot of fuckboys at shows that id rather not have anything to do with. I can deal with being called an asshole by someone I despise, but not a “bro”
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry, particularly metal and punk/hardcore? How do you feel about downloading music?
Music is pretty dope. Its all a matter of what you’re trying to hear or buy. The internet age made it where every twink ass fuckboy with a broadband connection is either an anonymous super critic, or in some tired ass band. The really fucked up part about it is that they now have an audience. It doesnt matter though, thanks to gas prices blowin up and venues becoming more scarce, most of these unnecessary bands arent really hitting the road, so be thankful that you have to actively search for complete bullshit, rather than have it shoved down your throat at every $5 show. The real motherfuckers are out busting ass to play for your little shithouse town for 10 people. Downloading music is fine with me. The whole game changed and if you still think theres any reason to bitch and moan about people downloading your fucking album, then release something on vinyl that looks awesome and it will sell. You cant really download a tshirt, so bands need to shut the fuck up. Your music isn’t worth 10 dollars, 9 times outta 10. To quote one of my favorite punk bands Born Against “This Trash Should Have Been Free”
If you could change anything about the current state of the underground punk/hardcore/metal scene, what would it be?
More violence/danger at shows. Not so much people getting beat down, but just that sketchy, scary, dangerous feeling that the bands I grew up going to see had. When I used to stand in the front row of a His Hero Is Gone show, it would send a chill down your spine, and the feeling that everything was going to fall apart was real. Now its all people getting tagged on facebook and trying to “network”. Fuck all that shit, man.
Have there been any albums released yet this year that will be on your top albums of the year list? Also, what bands are you most anticipating new albums from in 2012?
LIL UGLY MANE – MISTA THUG ISOLATION will be my favorite album at the end of 2012. It sounds and feels like someone dug up a time capsule and unearthed a lost Memphis G Rap classic. I grew up on rap too, and the average metal/hardcore kid isnt going to know this, but Memphis had a very strong (and very violent and Satanic) underground Rap scene in the 90s. Guys were taking drug money and self releasing these over the top albums that were ultraviolent, hypersexual, and menacing, evil shit about being possessed by cocaine and the devil. Normally it was lo fi and just refused to conform to anything that was happening in the mainstream at the time. They were performing in hole in the wall juke joints where the violent dancing made hardcore/metal shows look just pussy as fuck. Of course, Triple Six Mafia were the frontrunners, and eventually won a grammy, but during its time it was the true definition of DIY in the south and was as brutal as anything a metal band has done. I’m sure most of your readers dont care, but I do, and If anyone wants to get into a longer conversation about Memphis Devil Shyt, just ask me at a show. I can talk about the shit all night. Back to Lil Ugly Mane, he put together an album that pays tribute to the scene I was just talking about, and takes it to new places. It’s bugged out and slammin. The best shit i’ve heard in awhile, I cant stop playing it at all. As far as metal goes, i’m looking forward to the new Torche record. I love everything they have released, and they are one of the best live bands going. I can’t wait for new Weekend Nachos this year. That’s a band that just annihilates, and reminds me of why I fell in love with power violence and sludge in the first place. I can’t really think of anything else.
As far as your band Blvck Pvssy goes, I would have assumed that your band name was pretty unique, however, another band with that name attempted to sue you for rights to it, correct?
Yeah. Fuck them and fuck that shit they pulled. They get no respect, and no one had our band confused with that bullshit. Fuck them. I can’t wait for the day we cross paths. Ive definitely got something for them.
Other than dealing with that, what have you guys been up to lately and what are your plans for the future of the band?
Trying to have fun with it. It’s not about success, it’s about us as homeboys going out and having good times together as a group. Getting some action in our lives and writing music that is fun to play. We plan on keeping it going as long as we can, death or the jailhouse. We’re definitely a band who loves the road and playing out as much as we can with all our friends, but not playing so much that people don’t care anymore. It’s hard for us to tour, and not because we don’t want to, but the fact is, we have responsibilities. When it’s time to play, we always put on a show and no one can take that from us.
I know that in your various bands you’ve been in through the years you have played alot of shows in alot of different places; what is your favorite story from a show or tour?
This one time, we made a couple hundred bucks at a show and drank free. I felt like Pantera. It was tremendous.
You have also played shows with bands like Cough, Rwake, and Goatwhore to name a few; if you could play a show with any active band, who would it be?
If we could play the Thrasher Magazine Texas Deathmatch next year at SXSW, I would shit my mind in joy. My life would have come full circle
You tend to write very angry songs that, I assume are based on real life, however, if you could have only written one song ever, what would it be and why?
A platinum Booty Shake record. Not even joking. If I wrote something that made every girl in the country want to fuck me with the lights on, and it paid me enough money to live comfortably enough to run air condition 24/7/365 with no regard for the law, I could die an extremly happy motherfucker.
Josh LeBreton has been a friend of mine for quite a while, dating back to the days when his band Renea played shows at Cottonport Coffee in West Monroe, La. Josh has released two Ep’s as part of a solo project, and his music has continued to evolve and progress by leaps and bounds with each recording. I wanted to ask him a few questions about his current project, plans for the future, and songwriting style. You can check out Josh’s music here, and here.
It was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Little House Productions in Baton Rouge, LA by Alden Chatham and Brian Beyt. My friends Jon-David Mahoney (bass), Jacob Beslin (drums), and Lyle Begnaud (guitar) collaborated/played with me (guitar, vocals, songwriter) on it.
You’ve been involved with bands, and music in general, for a very long time, specifically in bands like Renea, and The Flood Memoirs. What would you say seperates this project from your previous bands?
This project is me maturing as a song writer and musician instead of just being plugged into a group somewhere and strictly filling a limited role. I can be more spread out here as an artist, less confined to one band’s collective direction. I do love the guys I play with and value their input, however. They’re as much of an influence to me as anything else.
Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
Lyrics come from the music. I let the music inspire melody and words that work well with it. It’s usually just a poetic abstract of sorts from my current state of mind. I could be struggling with something, or inspired by something, I just try to observe things around me and let it come out a bit in my writing. I try to stay relevant and clever when I can.
At this point in time, what musician or band would you say has had the most influence on your sound?
Currently I’m a huge Coldplay fan. I’m also heavily into old guitars and amps from the 50′s Fender area, so that has a heavy influence on what I draw from. Anything sonically organic. People who still make music for the right reasons, whatever the hell those rights would be.
As a singer/songwriter, what would you like people to feel when they listen to your music or watch you perform live?
My main goal as a performer/writer is to make people feel anything inspiring. Something that sparks a little anxiety or maybe excitement. Anything that makes people, without sounding pretentious, feel alive for a second, seriously. Too much of our art now is produced and commercialized and that’s fine. I just want to for a second be a real artist trying to be something worth watching, no agenda, flaws and all. I wanna create, I want people to feel the magic and mystique we used to feel from artists a long time ago, and I try to do it because I want it from other people too. “Do unto others..”
What is your ultimate goal for your music career?
Ultimately, I want to be a full time sustainable artist, but I’d also be perfectly fine with being a working musician. I do a little of that now. Whatever the world needs from me, I guess. Currently, I teach music, so that’s also something I enjoy.
What are you plans for the immediate future of this project? Do you plan on touring any time soon?
Believe it or not, I’ve been trying a new avenue of exposure. Instead of playing anywhere and everywhere all the time, I only play sometimes, some places. I’ve also been entering random credible song writing contests and contacting labels. The music industry is completely upside down these days and frankly, so are people’s tastes in music. I’m just learning how to adapt. It’s all I can do. So no, no plans to tour right now. Sure as hell not gonna tour independently like I did for years, way too much trouble. Maybe if we still lived in the 90′s.
If you could tour with any active band/musician, who would it be and why?
I’d go on the road with anyone who was doing better than I was, had a similar demographic, and wanted me with them. I’d be indebted to anyone who would elevate my current status. Don’t care who it is, as long as they’re good people.
If you were on tour and could have anything you want on your rider, what would it be?
On my rider, I’d ask for a time machine. Making it in music today is completely insane and confusing. I’d either go back in time for “obvious” reasons or skip ahead a bit to pass all this nonsense up, after we figure out how we’re gonna keep making music.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
The Cotton Port classic, “Shut the Door on my Way Out,” by Renea. Oh wait..
This week has been very busy for me due to work, coming up with content for the March Spazzine, and new release reviews. I was still able to conduct an interview with my friend Steven Bradley of IWrestledABearOnce and Statues Cry Bleeding, I wanted to catch up with Steven and ask him a few questions about life on the road and what it’s like being in a touring band on a major label. For those of you allergic to profanity, you probably shouldn’t read this. You can check out IWrestledABearOnce here (and scb here)
As somebody who started out in a local band in a small town who managed to start a band that ended up on a major label, what advice do you have for other small town local bands with dreams of actually getting out of their town and touring constantly?
Nobody is going to come to your town and find out about how awesome you think you are. Get the fuck out there and tour AND make sure you keep up a strong online presence. The combination of booking coast-to-coast DIY tours and keeping in touch with people on the internets definitely helped us get out there, and is 100% the reason we got signed and are touring the world now!
I know that you guys have a rider for your tours nowadays, but what are some things you wish you could put on your tour rider and actually have waiting for you at each venue?
The band as a whole would probably answer blunts, PBR, a masseuse, and a hot tub filled with champagne… all of life’s simple pleasures, really.
I remember watching Statues Cry Bleeding play to a crowd of 50 or so people at Cottonport in West Monroe, La a few years ago, now you’re playing sold out shows in places like Japan. When you play to ridiculously huge amounts of people, do you ever feel pressure to perform at a certain level or is it easy to block it out and just shred?
50 was a big crowd back then! I remember us playing to a crowd of 15 people and IWABO played shows to even fewer folks than that! And honestly I just go for it every single fucking time… 15 people or 15,000. Playing in front of 15 people is easier because it feels less awkward for me and there’s no barricade, but there’s definitely something awesome about watching a sea of people just bouncing and dancing and diving off of shit. I don’t get nervous at all and never really have. There’s only a couple times in the history of the band I can remember looking out and thinking “Holy Shit!” but it was more of a “wow this is real and my life is pretty badass” not a “wow this is fucking scary” sort of thing. On stage holding a guitar is where I feel most comfortable in the world.
You guys are playing the New England Metal & Hardcore Fest this year, which used to be, and still kind of is, one of the biggest american metal festivals. You are also playing with some huge bands like Overkill and Every Time I Die. You’re also one of the headliners at Warped Tour 2012. Are these festivals as fun to play as it seems, or is it more stressful than people think? Also, i’m completely jealous you get to meet Bobby Blitz!
Every fest is different… and Warped is a beast in and of itself! Although Warped is without a doubt the most organized festival of all time AND it’s a touring fest AND it has 238,293 bands. Pretty fucking impressive how they keep it all together every single day with no real issues. On the other hand, we have DEFINITELY played festivals that are total nightmares… nothing organized and tour managers/promoters/bands all fighting and shit gets insane. We have driven hundreds of miles to play and then the fest is a bust and the promoter fakes a health problem to get to the hospital to dodge paying all the bands… we’ve seen it all at this point. Stoked for NEM&HF though! We’ve played it before and it’s really well organized and fun as hell.
What’s the funniest, weirdest, or creepiest tour story you have? Have you had any of those classic “overdose on heroin in the middle of a solo while topless midgets dance around you” moments?
We get creepy stories all the time, but it’s mainly Krysta that attracts the creepy folks. The INSANE shit people write/tell her even blows my mind sometimes and I’m pretty damn weird. As for funny stories, all of our tour update videos are pretty damn funny in my opinion! Watch them and you can see us all make mistakes and do all kinds of ignorant shit all across the globe!
Have you taken up any strange hobbies to pass the time while on the road?
Just drinking and doing silly shit with friends… nothing too strange! I’ve gotten pretty good at making pipes out of household objects and food items… strange skill I suppose.
Most bands dream about getting to play shows with bands like Every Time I Die, at this point in your career, if you could tour with any active band, who would it be?
REFUSED… since they’re active again… and even though we don’t have the same fanbase whatsoever.
Every time I read an article about IWABO online, people always seem to have alot of negative comments about you guys, yet they don’t really have good reasons why. Do you deal with hecklers at all on the road, if so, do you ever have a Josh Homme moment where you hurl insults and water bottles back at them?
Nah… A FEW times in the history of the band, people have touched Krysta while we’re on stage in a way that is obviously inappropriate, and that’s about the only time shit gets really wild at our shows. Krysta has definitely broken a few noses and we have definitely all but crucified a few dipshits in the past… and watched our scary friends go on to pull weapons on them, etc etc. But other than that, nobody ever talks shit to us in person. I mean people might say they hate us for being goofy or “not taking metal seriously” or some silly shit, but I don’t think anybody would ever want to actually fight us over something that stupid. We don’t have any REAL enemies I would hope since we definitely go out of our way to try to befriend everybody we possibly can and spread the message of open-mindedness and not being a dick. We DID have a super wasted guy at a show one time buy a TON of merch and then yell at us in the parking lot for “PLAYING NOTES!” … apparently he only likes music that’s breakdowns and we play too many notes or something. He later went on to punch his super young son in the face and get the shit kicked out of him before the cops showed up. Good times!
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
TOUGH question… shit… probably a deftones song, but it would take me a while to pick. Or any Queen song… or anything Slipknot… yeah, I can’t answer this. I give up.
What plans do you have for the future of IWABO? Even though you guys have achieved a fair amount of success just two albums into your career, where do you see the band going in the next two or three years or so?
Hopefully just going to new countries that we’ve never been to before and continuing to grow. We’ve been lucky in that a lot of bands come along nowadays and blow up then fall off the face of the earth completely, whereas we have had ups and downs for sure, but it’s been a slow, steady rise when you look at the big picture! Can’t ask for much more than that in today’s fickle scene, and we’re extremely grateful for every single person who has ever supported us and especially those who continue to do so. We will always be that weirdo band that hang out with people in parking lots and shotgun beers, go to merch during the show to meet people, hang around until every single person who wants a photo or autograph gets what they want, and that will never change.
I’ve been working on doing more interviews lately, and today i’m posting an interview I did with The Heritage, a southern hardcore band from Northeast Louisiana. I’ve known these guys for many years now, dating back to their days as “The Heritage, The Heartache”, in fact, they once opened a show I booked for The Showdown in Monroe, La and absolutely brought the house down with an insane live show. The Heritage are now on the warpath of booking tours, recording an album, and trying to get signed, and I wanted to ask them a few questions about where they are now and where they are headed. You can check out The Heritage here, and if they happen to be playing in a town near you, do yourself a favor and check them out.
First and foremost, you guys refer to your live show as doing things “Heritage Style”, what exactly does “Heritage Style” mean?
Mitch(guitar/vox): Heritage style started as a joke between the band after watching an episode of 30 rock, calling everything “cajun style”. So we took it a step further and said we will do everything Heritage style; lets break stuff, upset the establishment, and cause an uproar before we leave, so that everyone remembers us.
Heath(vox): Heritage style means doing things in a way that is fun and not taking yourself too seriously, or getting wrapped up in your own ego.
Rus(Bass): Everyone has their roots, we just embrace them and let it all come out. NO MATTER HOW CRAZY IT GETS!
Chris(drums): Heritage style refers to the raw power and excitment of the classic southern rock bands, modernized.
If you were given the choice between being on a major record label and making tons of money, but your band sounded like Nickelback, or being on a small label and touring 300 days out of the year for small guarantees every night in The Heritage, which would you choose?
Mitch: Labels are awesome and they make the music world keep going, but you have to stay true to your roots and convictions. Nickelback are one of the worst bands in the world, and we want nothing to do with that sound. I would much rather never leave the garage, than sound like that.
Heath: I love making money, but I have to stay true to my roots, and my roots are hardcore and old school country, and I would much rather do that then compromise my convictions.
Rus: Creed wasn’t in the equation.
Chris: No question or competition, The Heritage all the way.
If you were in a huge touring band playing arenas, what would be on your tour rider?
Mitch: Bacon cheeseburgers, dvds of all my favorite tv shows, true crime books, and a bottle of Whiskey.
Heath: Fat Cherry Laffy Taffy, wine, & all the crawfish I could eat.
Rus: Icy hot, A coffee pot, moist towelettes, and a websters dictionary.
Chris: Power C vitamin waters, practice pads, drumsticks, mp3 player w/ headphones, & bass drum practice pad with pedals.
If The Heritage could tour with any band currently active, who would you want to tour with?
Mitch: Every Time I Die, The Chariot, Zao, or Clutch.
Heath: Every Time I Die, The Chariot, Lady Gaga, or Gallows.
Chris: Every Time I Die, Our Last Night, Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, and It Lies Within.
When someone watches you live or listens to your record, what would you like for them to take away from that experience?
Mitch: I want them to relate to the southern, hard working aspect of the band. I want people to picture themselves riding a four wheeler through the mud at a barbecue, having a great time.
Heath: Southern insanity.
Rus: This is what happens when Dragonball Z is involved.
Chris: The Audience should be able to look at their attire, close their eyes, open them, and see athletic shorts, cut off sleeveless shirt, and work boots.
What bands would you say have influenced The Heritage’s sound the most?
Chris: Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, Maylene & the Sons of Disaster.
Rus: ETID hands down.
Mitch, in your previous band 1 Method, the lyrics were very religious in nature. What has been the inspiration in The Heritage’s lyrics?
Mitch: The lyrics of The Heritage are very different from 1 Method. 1 Method was about serving God, and the ministry of things. The Heritage’s lyrics are very personal to our vocalist Heath. They have religious overtones, but they are more about Heath’s personal walk. That includes the failures,the doubt,the constant struggle with dying daily and trying to keep your walk upright.
Heath: The lyrics are about my spirtual journey through life.
Was there a particular album or artist that inspired you to begin playing music? At what point in life did you realize that you were destined to be a musician?
Mitch: I knew I wanted to be a musician the day I watched my dad jamming out in the garage with my cousin Jamey Kieth. Living Sacrifice’s The Hammering Process and Zao’s Save Yourself from Hell were the two albums that changed my life, and made me want to start playing metal, and learn how to scream.
Heath: Living Sacrifice’s the Hammering Process. Mitch and I listened to that album every day for months growing up. It changed the game for us completely. We were jamming Korn & Limp Bizkit at the time and Living Sacrifice changed everything for us.
Rus: Korn – Life is Peachy. When i broke my arm racing dirt bikes and had to rehabilitate myself. I still love racing.
Chris: As Cities Burn. Their early demos, before they were signed.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
Mitch: Smells Like Teen Spirit or any song off of Weezer’s Blue Album.
Heath: Born this way by Lady Gaga.
Rus: The Happy Birthday song. That way micheal jackson wouldnt have the rights to it.
Chris: Rush’s “YYZ”. Cause it is so tasteful and brilliant.
What current plans do you guys have for the band for 2012 and where do you see the band going in a year or two?
Mitch: We’re recording a new EP in March and we’ve got a tour planned with The Sights Set North Booking for this summer. I’d like to see a full length done by the end of the year, and as much touring as we can possibly handle. In 2 years I want The Heritage to be a full time touring band.
Heath: The same that Mitch said, but I want The Heritage’s music to be on everyone’s ipod, even if they have to steal it.
Rus: We’re finishing recording, we have some tour dates coming up, its moving up up UP, its just gonna keep getting better and better.
I’ve been involved with my local music scene for many years now, and in my travels i’ve made plenty of friends, with various bands along the way and i’ve decided to start occasionally posting interviews bands both local and not so local. The band I interviewed today, Aynrei, is a project started by Michael Carpenter and Clay Shroeder in Austin, Tx. I know Michael from his days in the band Dhalsim which was started in Ruston, La. Dhalsim were definitely the most original band to ever come from North Louisiana, they were also featured on Metalsucks as one of the winners in their “Best Local Band” contest a few years ago. Aynrei just released their debut EP and you can listen to it HERE or HERE and i wanted to interview them about this project and find out about their plans for future world domination.
What does Aynrei mean?
Michael: It means infinite nothingness. Just a mashup of an esoteric and a japanese word really. Ayn is the nothing. Rei is the soul. Just something I came up with that I felt was unique to our metaphysical interests.
Who was involved in the recording of your debut EP? Did you only play drums on this record?
Michael: It was just Clay and myself. Yea, I just played drums and percussion. We constructed the whole record together pretty much, so I had input on all the guitar and some of the bass parts as well. I didn’t use the big Yamaha kit either, so I was sad, but it still turned out well with the Roland and there’s a few programmed parts we added in, but most of the playing is me trying do my thing on the e-kit.
Where did you record this album?
Clay: Was recorded and mixed entirely “in-the box”, meaning guitars/bass were recorded and mixed with amp simulation (POD XT, Axe Fx, and Logic amp designer). The drums were performed on a roland electronic kit and then sample replaced with Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 2.0. The EP was recorded between January and May of 2011. We had to delay the release due to tense arrangement battles and rock star indulgences that nearly crushed Aynrei’s existence. Originally, the idea for The Great Circle was to include input from a vocalist and bassist, but after being dissatisfied with local auditions, I was forced to handle the sparse bass parts and we decided Aynrei’s musical vision was beyond words..at least for now.
Michael: Clay covered that one, I think. We are still on the fence with vocals though. I’d like the added element, but it has to be a perfect fit for what we do. There are lots of cliche vox in heavy music right now. If it’s not going “h.a.m.” then we aren’t fooling with it. The rock star indulgences are limited to me sleeping on random couches and eating expensive fresco bean burritos from Taco Bell.
What seperates this project from your previous bands?
Clay: Aynrei grew from pure organic struggle. Mike was previously the drummer for my band Atlas Versus, but after artistic visions split with the addition of more members, we parted ways, luckily on good terms… shortly thereafter, he threw an 8 string guitar in my hand and started hating. 47,568 riffs/noises later, the EP was complete. No blood shed. Just feelings. For the record, Mike loathes the metronome as much as I fear experimentation.
Michael: I think the quality of the recording and the arrangements are a lot different. In my previous bands, I obviously wasn’t the same caliber player that I am now, so there’s more concise and cleaner execution of the parts. Also, most of this stuff was built up on the spot. We didn’t write the songs, then go practice them, and then record full songs. It was basically us sitting in a room with guitar and drums plugged in to a comp. Oh, i think I mentioned that I didn’t play an acoustic kit this time, to so I had to adapt to some rubber pads and latency stuff. The full length will have the Oak customs on it though, promise!!!
What are your plans for the future of Aynrei, and where do you see this band in a year or two?
Clay: We are currently developing ideas for a full album, although nothing will be set in stone until we have the input of a bassist. As we like to develop ideas slowly within this band, I am eager to have fan input on arrangement ideas. I feel like this would be a natural evolution for the “DIY” movement. In my opinion, Progressive Metal got it’s rebirth from the rise of affordable home studios and a direct connection to fans around the world via internet. With such outlets why would we not want to hold our listeners’ attention spans by involving them into our world.
Michael: There’s going to be the full length, some regional touring initially, then some straight up road dogging. I’m trying to play 300 shows in a year once the record is done. Hopefully we will keep receiving positive reviews and make enough noise to get some label support and some legit tours.
When people see Aynrei live, or listen to your debut album, what would you like them to take away from that experience?
Clay: Experience. I want this to be beyond an audio stimuli. The listener should be able to close their eyes and feel the emotion that the sounds produce. As as a songwriter, I have always been drawn to odd meters and odd note movements, basically chasing the dragon of complexity while still attempting to hold the listeners grasp, unfortunately the musician part of me needs to be held at bay with this project. Working with Mike has allowed me to surpass my boundaries as a musician, although one of the most fierce collaborations i’ve had to endure. I think we’ll agree that the results are validated.
Michael: What Clay said. For me, the tunes are like soundtracks to a film. It’s like a trippy mind journey type of vibe where you sort have this abstract type of narrative going on and you can create your own dialogue. I want the audience to interpret the music on their own terms.
What are your thoughts on the term “djent” that is used to describe bands like Periphery, Meshuggah, and Animals as Leaders who have a sound similar to yours?
Clay: Obviously, we’re a huge fan of all these bands, I wouldn’t be recording if it weren’t for Misha. Then again, I wouldn’t enjoy odd time signatures without Tool or Crimson, nor extended range instruments without Korn…(cough) I mean Meshuggah. I think Djent is just a cute word to describe the recent surge of poly-rythymic metal. They can’t very well call it “Shugging” haha, regardless, I can see how Aynrei can be put into that category, but I think you’ll notice our unique Don Caballero (Check Them Out NOW!) approach of syncopated/separated meters..basically we want to develop multi-pocket groove. YA. One gigantic trench coat that makes your ears ejaculate.
Michael: I never got caught up in the whole djent as a genre vs. djent as a tone characteristic stuff. Whatever people need to do to define something they will do that and if that’s something we can use to reach a certain demographic that will support what we do as artists then I’m all for it.
What are your thoughts on the direction the music industry is heading, and are you for or against people downloading music?
Clay: NO! Music should be free. I feel like if an artist doesn’t struggle, they’ll lose their voice. Their material will become as saturated as their facade lifestyle. They become walking advertisements, utterly soulless. I sigh in relief that we have the means of spreading our music to millions within a matter of days. The money train is gone, oh well. At least I can still share my art…which is what music is supposed to be, art. Not products restricted by the laws of cash. It’s meant to move and inspire people.
Michael: I disagree with Clay with the whole free thing. I’m a painter, and I play music. Two different mediums, but the goal is the same, to share your unique vision with the rest of the world and to make a living doing it full time if you’re lucky. The internet has leveled the field as far as reaching an unlimited fan base. If you spend enough time online hustling your work, you can get your band heard and get folks out to shows to see you live once you’re touring. We are giving away this album at no cost because it’s not a physical copy. The quality is great and it makes it easier for people to spread the word about us. Bands that play the music we do aren’t rockstars at all. There’s lots of grinding it out, sleeping in vans, and not getting girls, going on. Every dollar that’s made is more than likely being put back into the band to keep them on the road, or to finance a record or whatever. Merch and money from a guarantee are a big chunk of it, but if you sell 5000 cd’s for 10 bucks, then that’s more money in the furnace to keep things going. It’s not getting stacked up in a savings account for Bentleys, dude! Every little bit helps and is very appreciated. I understand that the record industry’s price gouging in previous years has the price of music in a bad light, but we are artists that still want to make a living doing our thing. You can’t tour or make records with nothing. It’s just impossible.
As a musician living in Austin, is it harder or easier to get your music heard?
Clay: Word to the Bluth family. The live music capital of the world is biased. I’m more worried about our online existence at the moment, we need fans to play live to. When the time comes to bring our sound to audiences, it will have reached a heightened maturity.
Michael: It’s tough because EVERYONE’s a musician here. Everybody has a band that they are in and folks get tired of getting begged to come to their friends shows, i’m sure. On the other side of it is the fact that there aren’t many bands doing what we do, nor is there a lot of local support for it. There’s only a handful of places that really deal with heavy music here, because this is a blues and country town, but when heavy bands come through the people come out in droves. We’re focused on spreading the word through the web because it’s just a more efficient way to hustle art. You can stand on the corner all day with some paintings, or you can stand on top of a mountain with a beacon of light, and illuminate the city with your presence.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
Clay: Tough question. Hmmm, definitely “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. That atmosphere is deeeeep.
Michael: I don’t know what’s wrong with Clay, man. Thanks for taking the time out for us Johnny!! We really appreciate it.