Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halestorm Proves Overnight Sensations Can Take A Long Time

How many times have you heard the first single from a band and thought the band was an overnight sensation? Now, some bands do get lucky and break it big right out of the box. In the case of Pennsylvania’s Halestorm, this is the furthest thing from the truth. I was fortunate enough to see the band on their tour with Shinedown, Chevelle and Staind a while back and caught up with lead singer Lzzy Hale as the band was traveling on the road .

“Yeah, most people don’t realize how long we have been at this. We’ve been doing this for like 15 years now. I was 13 and my brother Arejay, who is our drummer, was 10 when we first started the band. We would play wherever they would let us,” said Lzzy.

Now, most girls that age are not thinking about being the next Lita Ford or Joan Jett. Most are having slumber parties and talking about boys. “You’re right, it was very hard finding young kids that shared our passion for music and succeeding at it. Most didn’t want a career in it or they lacked the drive or parental support that is needed,” replied Lzzy.

The band’s leadoff single from their debut self titled CD is entitled “I Get Off” and about the time I saw the band back in July, it had just begun to blowup. “Oh my god, it has just been amazing. We have the opening slot on the tour and a lot of people have not gotten to the arenas when we are playing our set. I have noticed though, that the crowds are getting a little bigger for our set. I can look out and see people with our t shirts on and they are singing our songs word for word. It’s a very humbling experience,” stated Lzzy.

“I also like the different reactions that “I Get Off” is having with guys and girls. It’s funny because the guys see it as a very sexy and naughty song. On the other hand, girls see it as a very powerful song for them. It’s like they are saying ‘I’m in control here and I am calling the shots”, so it’s pretty funny. I guess it’s great that a song can have different interpretations like that,” stated Lzzy.

So, who does Lzzy draw her influences from? “Well, it’s very flattering to me because I have been compared to some of the greats. I mean Joan Jett, Heart, Janis Joplin, it’s amazing. I have to say that some of the girls from my generation, no offense to any of them, but they just didn’t do it for me. They didn’t have enough power for me. In this gendra today, it shouldn’t be seen as a gimmick when a woman is in front of a band. It’s not a rock band fronted by a girl, it’s a girl fronting a rock band,” said Lzzy.
The band’s CD has a definite old school 80s metal feel to it. The catchy hooks on songs like “What Were You Thinking” and “Dirty Work” show elements of that. There’s even the 80s staple power ballads in songs such as “Bet You Wish U Had Me Back” and “Familiar Taste Of Poison”, on which the aqua net just radiates from your speakers!

The second single, as of the conducting of this interview, had yet to be determined. The CD is very deep in material and probably could go at least 4 singles deep if not further. That kind of feat is almost unheard of given the state of the music industry today. Just recently, the second single and video were chosen for the song “Love/Hate Heartbreak”.

So, does Lzzy have any guilty pleasures that may surprise her fans? “I actually am a pretty good seamstress. I like to make out stage outfits. I take different articles of clothing and try to see how many different outfits that I can make it into. So, yeah, I spend my free time sewing,” said Lzzy. My last question was my question for all bands/artists that I interview. If you were trapped on a desert island with only one store bought CD, what would you want there with you? “It would definitely have to be some Black Sabbath. I seem to be going through this re-appreciation of their music. It’s some powerful stuff,” stated Lzzy.

Check out their debut self titled CD and you will not be disappointed. It is a little retro 80s but still modern sounding. I told Lzzy in our interview that she had a great mix of sexuality and innocence. She can look at you and make you think she wants to jump your bones and then give you a look like she is going to rip your throat out. She is a multitalented front person and she and the boys are serious about their rock. They are still burning up the road and show no signs of letting up. Brave the storm and see what all the fuss is all about. You will not be disappointed!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

In This Moment Rocks Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour celebrated its 15th anniversary this summer. Southern California’s In This Moment decided to help celebrate by taking parting the annual summer ritual. The band was kind of out of their element, but they soon found out how well they fit in. "These kids are very receptive to music, it’s like they are hungry for something new," said guitarist Chris Howorth.

The band took part in the entire nine week tour and could not be happier with the outcome. "The crowds have been great and we have made so many new fans. We’ve also got to meet so many great bands. It’s been very a lot of fun and a lot of partying," said lead singer Maria Brink.

The band reissued their CD "The Dream" before the tour. How did that come about? "We wanted to do something special for our fans to coincide with the tour. We decided to re-release ‘The Dream’ and put some unreleased tracks on it and some video footage. Our manager also suggested that we do a cover song to include on it. We had done some in the past, but we wanted to do something a little different this time. So, we chose to do ‘Call Me’ by Blondie. The response has been amazing and we’re getting a ton of airplay with it also," commented Maria.

The band’s set that night that I saw them in Charlotte, NC was only 5 songs long, but they drew a big crowd on the Ernie Ball stage. That show was their first attempt at "the pit" during "Daddy’s Falling Angel" and it was a special moment. Chris, Jesse and Blake went out into the crowd at the beginning of the song and Maria and Jeff stayed onstage. The song began and the crowd swarmed around Chris and Jesse and Blake went back to play on the stage. Maria ventured out to the guys and made the crowd form a mosh pit circle around them and run. It was pretty intense to say the least!! Footage posted on You Tube the next morning and pictures were posted online and the buzz was overwhelming. The band continued it each night of the rest of the tour.

Chris and Maria told me that day on their bus that they would be taking two months off to write material for their next CD to hopefully be out in early 2010. There was going to be a major announcement for the fans in the near future. It ended up being posted on their My Space that in November, the band would venture out on their first headlining tour until before Christmas. The set list will be much longer with several surprises thrown in for the fans. Revolver magazine has jumped on board as a sponsor for the tour, which is major news. The band will take Christmas off and then head into the studio for about two months and record.

The band that I met on Ozzfest back in 2007 just keeps continuing to grow. I was in Walmart a month or so ago and up on the Walmart network in the electronics department was, you guessed it, In This Moment. It was part of their Warped Tour Sound check and they talked to the band about the tour. It was kinda surreal for me to look up and see the band.

This band is going to just blow up big really soon. Their headlining tour should prove interesting to the fans that have been along for the entire ride plus their newly found fans from Warped. It should be very interesting next year to see what happens after they release their new CD next year. The road ahead for In This Moment is one full of promise and opportunity.

American Sixgun (Formerly Switchblade Killers): The New Rock and Roll Militia

American Sixgun were out of their element this summer. Instead of being in a smoke filled bar, they decided to take part in the Vans Warped Tour. "We definitely do not fit in here! The crowds have been great, they’ve been very receptive; actually a lot better than we expected," said lead singer Zach Neil.

I saw the band play in Charlotte, NC on the Warped Tour and spoke to them shortly after their rain filled set. "Yeah, this is our fifth show as a band. We seem to play right about the time a rain shower is coming along. We’re kind of like the underdog on this tour. It’s like us and Shooter (Jennings), the great American musicians who are not being produced right now. We want to work with Shooter and maybe go out on the road. We’re working on him about that. Each night we end up smoking his pot and he drinks our whiskey!" said Zach.

The band plays a style of rock that is sorely missing in music today. " We’re going back to the rock that we grew up with. We’re influenced by Zepplin ,Sabbath, Guns and Roses, Motley Crue and pretty much all rock between 1968 and 1989. The rock show seems to be missing these days. There are a lot of sissy bands on this tour and a lot of bs going on. We’re the rock and roll militia and we’re here to show this kids how to rock," responded drummer Mike Lucchetti and Bassist Tim O’Grady.

The band’s name definitely does not in any way resemble a sissy band. "We wanted something badass, an American badass name. Switchblades were associated with gangs in the fifties. It just paints a picture of who were are about," said guitarist Josh Bodwell. Shortly after this interview, the band was forced to change their name to American Sixgun.

Their debut CD is entitled "The Devil In Your Bones" and it is pure testosterone driven rock and roll. "Let It Ride" is one of my favorite tracks and it has a sort of sixties feel to it. "Friends And Lovers" has a Guns and Roses meets Buckcherry groove. "All For Lovin’ You" is a tongue in cheek song with very insightful lyrics. The entire CD is showcase for this up and coming band.

If you are hungry for some "ballsy" rock and roll that has more substance than style, then these are your guys. They put their main focus on writing great songs and performing them live. These guys are putting the swagger back in rock and roll. Go to their My Space and check them out and relive your glory days when rock and roll actually did rock.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aroarah: Taking The Testosterone Out Of Rock

Aroarah, the all female rock band from Sacramento, California, is out to prove to the industry and to the narrow minded world that testicles are not needed to play great rock and roll. The group consists of Lydia Gavin on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chelsea Baker on bass and backup vocals and sisters Mackenzie and Morgan Knoester on percussion and lead guitar. The release of their first full length CD "The Big Package" will help their stance of female driven rock. I recently spoke to the girls about this and much more.

Aroarah- "Well, it’s been four years since we released our EP and we are very excited about our new CD. The preorders from places like Switzerland and Germany were great."

Johnny- "Let me make sure that I have the history of the band correct. You ladies got together during high school for a talent show and non of you had ever played an instrument?"

Aroarah- "Yeah, that’s true! We were determined to prove that we could do this. We tied for second place and at that point, we knew that this was what we wanted to do."

Johnny- "Your live show has really turned a lot of nonbelievers into fans. I am sure that you must have some great road stories."

Aroarah- "One of the funniest was in Boise, Idaho and it was Mack’s birthday. We went downtown to a party and afterwards we were walking back and literally "bumped" into a cab. The driver got pissed at us and got out and came after us with mace. Also, once in Billing, Montana the roof literally came crashing down on us!"

Johnny- "Here’s a little different type of question for you. I met a deaf person at a club a while back and had no idea that they were deaf. With help from a friend , I spoke to him afterwards and he told me that he could hear the rhythm and the beats, just not exactly like you and I hear them. So, if I was deaf and you had a blank canvas in front of me, how would you paint a picture for me to describe your sound?"

Aroarah- "Very cool question……hmmmm, well, it’s bright, upfront and in your face, hard and moving, lots of grooves, great beats, colorful yet contradicting and a drum snare that you can feel. How’s that?"

Johnny- "I would say that is very interesting! Speaking of interesting, I am sure this answer will be. Do you feel there is a double standard in the industry for women?"

Aroarah- "Oh hell yeah!! Some people see us as a novelty act and they don’t take us seriously. Then, when they do see us perform live we suddenly become an anomally and they don’t know what to do with us. We do get a lot of negative attention but we’re not a bubblegum act. We play real rock and it really takes people by surprise."

Johnny- "So, who are some of your musical influences?"

Chelsea- "Mine range from old school to new school. I love Zepplin, the Beatles, Creem and CCR and then newer stuff like Incubus, Chili Peppers and the Smashing Pumpkins."

Morgan- "Everyone is my influence! The Deftones, Ani DiFranco, Mike from Incubus, it’s a long list."

Mackenzie- ""Everything but classical music influences me."

Lydia- ""Mine would be the Foofighters, Chris Cornell and Soundgarden."

Johnny- "I always like to ask this question in all of my interviews because it’s fun to get inside of the mind of a musician. If you were trapped on a desert island and could only have one "store bought" CD, what would
you want there?"

Lydia- "Mine would be Journey ‘Greatest Hits’."

Mackenzie- "That’s easy, Led Zepplin 2."

Chelsea- "Classic choice…Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of the Moon’."

Morgan- "Tool ‘Undertow’."

Johnny- "Another fun questions for your fans. Do you girls have any guilty pleasures that are printable?"
Aroarah- "Ha ha! Partying and drinking alcohol!! I’m just not sure if we feel guilty about it!!"

We ended the interview as I was slowly drowned out by the wave of laughter that followed their response. Let me tell you, these girls may like to party and have a good time, but they take their music very seriously. To hear the progression from their EP to newer songs such as "Hey", which has a great riff from Morgan that grabs you by the throat at the beginning and won’t let go. Then their is "Unfold" on which Lydia shows that behind that gorgeous face is a talented woman with some amazing vocals that have great range to them. The rhythm section of Mackenzie and Chelsea are not to be overlooked either as they pull this group together making it a very tight sounded band.

Their new CD can be purchased off their official website
www.aroarah.com, I-tunes and DF Jams. If you get a chance, go check out their EPK (Electronic Press Kit) that was put together after their EP came out in 2005 by none other than Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down. It is pretty amazing! These ladies are proof that the preconceived notion of balls to the wall rock and roll is just an outdated cliche. These ladies rock harder than alot of the male bands out there and definitely have more substance behind them.