Friday, May 13, 2011

Black N Blue Raises A Little Hell Yeah!

I don’t care what anyone says, the 80s gave us a lot of great music. The second half of the decade saw the emergence of “hair bands” and it seemed like they were popping up everywhere. There were quite a few “one hit wonders” and even more “no hit wonders”. The market became oversaturated with them and some of the deserving seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

Black N Blue was one of those bands. You might even say that they were the Rodney Dangerfield’s of metal. They released four albums between 1984-1988 and had a few MTV hits. They even had the great Gene Simmons of KISS produce their last two albums, but they never seemed to get that proverbial “break” that pushed them to the next level. It’s a shame because this band had it all together. They had the look, the sound and the attitude.

Fast forward twenty three years and you find them back together and about to unleash the album that would have catapulted them to that next level. The original band is back: Jaime St. James on vocals, Jeff Warner on guitar, Patrick Young on bass, Pete Holmes on drums and Shawn Sonnenschein takes over the guitar reigns from Tommy Thayer. They have just released Hell Yeah! And it’s enough to make you want to break out your acid washed jeans and tease your hair high!

This is what Black N Blue is supposed to sound like right here. I am not sure if the band got caught up in the corporate machine after their debut album or what, but this is the raw, dirty sound that is Black and Blue. The nasty bass line from Patrick at the beginning of the leadoff track “Monkey” hooks the listener in and then the crunching guitar of Shawn grabs you by the neck and demands your attention. This is one of the best tracks on the album.

“Hail Hail” is a song that I really hope they add to their live show. I can envision the crowd with their fists pumping in the air and chanting along with that chorus. Also, Shawn has some insane guitar work on this song. The solo that he lays down is blistering. The title track is also another rocker that is similar in vain as it showcases Shawn’s fretwork.

There are two songs that may be considered rock/ballads. “Falling Down” and “Fools Bleed” are slower numbers, but they still pack that rock intensity. I also think they show how another side of the bands’ songwriting and that they do have a serious side. On the other hand, the 54 second “Jaime’s Got the Beer” seems like an out take meant for the cutting room for. I am still pondering on the meaning of the last track, “A Tribute to Hawking”. I know it is about Stephen Hawking, but I am just not sure of the point. Maybe it’s a little tongue in check, I just don’t get it.

Overall, Hell Yeah! simply ROCKS! Who knows, maybe if it would have been released back in the late 80s, then maybe Black N Blue could have joined the ranks of a Bon Jovi or Motley Crue. They certainly did deserve the attention and accolades that those guys were getting. I have to tip my hat to Jaime St. James also. His voice is superb on this release. It has a sense of maturity to it and a little bit of a rough edge that adds to the songs.

I highly recommend Hell Yeah! to old school fans from the 80s and even modern fans of metal. I think up and coming bands should listen to this as they prepare to record their debut album so that they can see what real rock and roll should sound like. It’s not an old school 80s sound recycled by the band, but rather they embrace that old school mentality of how to rock. I just hope we don’t have to wait 23 years for the follow up to this one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taddy Porter: Old School Rock and Roll 101

Good old rock and roll never truly dies. It just finds a new vessel to inhabit every five to ten years to allow it to reach out and possess a whole new generation. For example, let’s take a closer look at one of those bands. Taddy Porter is a quartet of fine young gentlemen from Oklahoma who just so happen to be one of the brightest up and coming bands in years.

The band was formed by drummer Doug Jones and lead singer/guitarist Andy Brewer in 2007. The formula was completed with the addition of Doug’s brother Kevin on bass and Joe Selby on guitar. Legend has it that the name Taddy Porter was actually spotted by Andy on a beer list in a bar that they were frequenting. The boys recorded an EP in 2007 entitled Monocle and the ride had officially begun.

The boys’ roots seem to weigh in heavily on older rock with a certain flair to the southern side. Their songwriting is a style that is easy to relate to. They don’t go off on tangents about the government or politics. They tend to sing about life and love and who can’t relate to that?

Their debut self titled CD was released to rave reviews from fans and critics. You may think that you have never heard their music before, but quite a few of their songs have been featured on television. Their first single “Shake Me” was on ABC’s Cougar Town, NBC’s The Chase and on Monday Night Football. Another song that received exposure was “King Louie”, which was featured on HBO’s Entourage and the John Cena movie Legendary. More recently, “I Got to Love” is being featured on ABC Family’s Make It of Break It. So, there is a very good chance that you have heard them before!

Their album is a great mix of ballads and rockers. “Big Enough” starts the album off with crashing guitars and Andy’s unique voice definitely grabs your attention. “Fire in the Streets” is a standout track that rocks hard without getting too heavy for the listener. It also features some great guitar work by Joe Selby, who lays down a blistering solo.

“In The Morning” is a really good ballad that highlights Andy’s vocals. It will have you raising your lighter in the air in no time! I also love “Railroad Queen”, which is a bluesy number that presses the pedal to the floor and rocks at full speed as you get into it. Kevin and Doug do a stellar job here as the rhythm section that always holds a great song together.

The two gems on this release may be complete opposites in style, but that is one of the amazing things about this band. They are so diverse and confident in their sound that they can pull it off. “Gotta Get You Back” is a funky, rocking little number about losing the one you love and then trying so hard to get them back. If you listen to this one and don’t feel the rhythm and start tapping your foot, then call 911 because there is a serious problem.

The other gem would be the powerful ballad “Long Slow Drag”. The guitars take the backseat to a haunting piano melody throughout most of the song. I am not sure if this is autobiographical or not, but Andy’s vocals on this song are so full of emotion and conviction. This song should get lots of airplay for it is so richly deserving of it.

In an industry full of flavors of the week, these guys stand out like a sore thumb. Andy and Joe make a great team, like many who have come before them in the history of great rock and roll. I highly recommend this CD to lovers of classic rock and of southern rock. These guys take those sounds and mix them up and put a fresh spin on it and make it sound relevant to today’s music scene. These guys are worthy of going to the next level. Jump on board now before the Taddy Porter bandwagon fills up!

Warrant Return Strong With Rockaholic

The 80s were a time of big hair and big fun. No band epitomized that better in the latter part of that decade than Warrant. They seemed to have it all. They made us rock with their anthems and we made out to their power ballads. Grunge came along like a huge meteor and wiped out “hair metal” as we knew it. Still, many bands marched on. Warrant had more than their share of bad luck with tours being canceled for various reasons and so many personnel changes that they almost had to wear name badges.

Well my fellow head bangers, Warrant is back stronger than ever and seemed poised to let a whole new generation discover the “down boys”. It’s been five years since their last release Born Again. In that time, we saw the lead singer of that album (Jaime St. James, Black-n-Blue) leave, former lead singer Jani Lane return and then exit and current lead singer Robert Mason enter the picture. They were just a few drumsticks short of having a Spinal Tap moment.

Their new release entitled Rockaholic has taken all the great elements that we expect from Warrant and seasoned them with a certain level of maturity. Don’t fret though, even though the “down boys” have become somewhat settled down boys, they still have their raunchy, bad boy side. Take a listen to “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Cocaine Freight Train” and tell me that their horns aren’t showing.

It just wouldn’t be a Warrant album if there weren’t any power ballads on it. One listen of the beautiful ballad “Home” and you will be waiving your lighters high in the air. This song just oozes 80s from beginning to end. I almost thought it was a lost demo from the Cherry Pie sessions. “Tears in the City” is another great ballad, but with more of a modern feel to it than an 80s feel.

“Dusty’s Revenge” is a standout track with a bluesy feel to it in the vain of early Cinderella. On my first listen, I almost felt like it was the accompanying music to a trailer for a western movie. “Life’s a Song” is a great choice for a leadoff single and video. It has that trademark Warrant sound, but it sounds fresh and current. It’s a great song, with great lyrics and a stellar performance by Robert. Oh yeah, it is also complete with a guitar solo. YES! Thank you for bringing back the solo!

Another favorite track of mine is “What Love Can Do”. I think that this song is going to be one that takes on its own life. It’s another great example of being a complete song with great musicianship, great lyrics and a catchy chorus that hooks you in. This may just become a big hit for them, especially if the fans embrace it.

So I hear you asking me, “Hey Johnny, we know they have ballads, but can Warrant still rock with the big boys?” Well ladies and gentlemen of the jury; let me present exhibits A, B and C. I have previously mentioned “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Cocaine Freight Train”; both of which showcase the boys in rare form of maximum rock. I would like to add “The Last Straw” to that list and raise my horns high to them for a kick-ass performance that blew me away.

I have been a fan of this band from the start, but I have also been an objective fan too. I believe the band has put out some stellar material and some not so great material in the past. I was cautiously optimistic when I approached this new release. I knew of Robert Mason, but how was his vocal style going to mesh with the sound we expect from the band. Well, I tip my hat to you Mr. Mason for a job well done. Let’s forget about filing someone else’s shoes because you my friend have brought your own new pair of shoes to mark their place in this bands legacy.

The rest of the band is playing with a hunger that hasn’t been heard in quite a few years. They seemed to be more focused and driven than ever. I can’t say for certain if the addition of Robert has brought this band closer and tighter together or not, but something has them recharged.

This CD is solid from beginning to end and that is what a band is being forced to do these days with the state that the music industry is in. There has been no “traditional” toured announced yet, but there are spotty dates announced so far with Poison for the summer, plus M3 and Rocklahoma. I cannot wait to hear this new material performed live. There is no cure for being a Rockaholic, but you can point the finger of blame at Warrant for causing it. Let me be the first to say, thank you boys.

Erik Turner of Warrant: Officially Diagnosed As A Rockaholic

Spandex, acid washed jeans, eye liner, earrings, teased hair with lots of aqua net. The 80s were a fun decade us guys! Most critics write off the 80s as a decade of fads and that includes fashion and music. I will admit that a lot of bands that were around during that era just seemed to disappear into oblivion. The true talent did manage to rise to the top and withstood the test of time.

Take Warrant for instance. Warrant burst onto the scene in 1988 with their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich and became an overnight sensation. Five good looking and talented guys gave us such power ballads as “Heaven” and “Sometimes She Cries” and took MTV plus the “hair band” world by storm. They followed that up with an even bigger album Cherry Pie and seemed to be on top of the world.

Oh yeah, then that thing called “grunge” came along and the industry turned their back on the “hair bands” and developed a love affair for Seattle’s latest import. Warrant went through a lot of personnel and label changes, but they kept right on doing what they loved: rocking hard.

Fast forward to 2011 and a rejuvenated and hungry Warrant are back with what may well be their best CD since the days of "Cherry Pie". Rockaholic marks a new chapter in the continuing saga of this band who once rode the top of Billboard’s album and singles charts and the top of MTV’s video countdown. They have a new lead singer, a new record label and a new found focus that can certainly be heard in their music. I recently got the chance to speak with the band’s founder and guitarist Erik Turner about all the crazy happenings in land of Warrant.

Hey Erik, thanks again for taking the time to speak with me. There’s a good buzz being generated by the anticipation of your new CD Rockaholic. Can you tell me a little bit about the recording of it?

Well, it was about two years ago when we demoed our first song which was “Dusty’s Revenge” and it went really well. So, we decided to keep writing and build on that. At that time, Jerry was really spearheading the writing of the material and Robert would fly down to work on vocals. It was a slow, two year process, but it was really seeming to come together. Then, Robert suggested working with (producer) Keith Olsen who had done the second Lynch Mob CD. We had a couple of meetings with Keith and hashed everything out and worked our deal out with him. Then, we had to finish working out our deal with our new label Frontiers. We’re really happy with how the album turned out and the initial reactions that we are hearing. I mean, that’s our baby; you don’t want anyone telling you that your baby is ugly!

Speaking of Robert, how did you guys end up getting him in the band?

Well, Robert actually went out on the road with us on the Dog Eat Dog tour when he was in Lynch Mob. We became friends and through the years we would run into him here and there. Joey ran into him a couple years back at Rocklahoma and things just kind of happened from there. We talked to him about joining the band and we all got together to practice. We were in a small 20x20 rehearsal hall and the first song we did with him was “Down Boys” and we couldn’t hear him. Then, we did “I Saw Red” and of course it is a softer song and we weren’t playing as loud and his voice just rang out and I got goose bumps. I thought, WOW! There was a vibe or some sort of chemical reaction or whatever, but we knew he was the one.

The new CD is really diverse in its format. You have some songs like “Sex Ain’t Love” that has that traditional Warrant sound, “The Last Straw” which flat out rocks hard and “Home” which is like a lost 80s power ballad. It’s diverse, but it all fits together really well. Is there anything on it that really stands out to you? Is there a song or two that you are particularly proud of?

Well, I personally spearheaded the effort to get “Life’s a Song” released as the first single and video. I just thought that it was a really strong song and that it would be an awesome token of appreciation to all those fans that have followed us throughout the years. It’s like looking back through a scrapbook. I think we really captured some magic on this song. It sounds like it could have been an out take from Cherry Pie. It’s like a blast from the past.

You started Warrant back in 1984 and Jerry (Dixon) and you have been on this crazy ride for its entire twenty seven year run. How do you guys manage to keep it going?

I guess have always looked forward. You know, if we stepped in a pile of dog crap then we just wiped our shoes off and ask ourselves what the best solution is. That regardless of whether it is about a song, a band mate or a manager. Yesterday’s gone and we have to do what we have to do today. We’ve been pretty lucky though, it has been mostly good times for us along the way.

What’s your proudest Warrant moment… far?

Wow, there have been so many of them. I mean, although we never got to the superstar level of a Bon Jovi or a Motley Crue, but there have been so many great times and experiences. The funny thing is half of them I don’t even remember!

Warrant is known for some of the biggest power ballads of the 80s and this new album has a few great ones on it too. How do you feel about that term today?

I fell pretty lucky to have them. It’s great because they break up the set and changes the rhythm of where you’re going. A lot of guys may not admit to liking them, but when they are in the backseat of their car with a hot chick, they LOVE power ballads!

Are there any plans on putting out a Warrant box set with unreleased tracks and demos?

I don’t know, maybe somewhere down the road. We have a lot of that stuff and when they labels remastered the early CDs, they stuck a few unreleased songs and demos on there. Right now, we are really focusing on the future and this new album. We are hoping to release a live DVD next year with videos, concert footage and backstage stuff.

So, after all these years and all the changes I have to ask you, have the down boys turned into the settled down boys?

Well, somewhat. I mean we still rock as hard as we use to and we still like to party and have a good time, but we just manage to keep our clothes on now!

Well Erik, this has been a treat for me and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. The new CD Rockaholic is amazing and I look forward to seeing you guys out on the road promoting it.

Hey, I appreciate you wanting to interview us. Thanks for all of your support in promoting the new album too. We hope that all the fans go out and buy the new album and come out and see us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Otep Shamaya Shares Her Artistic Vision

Artistic expression comes in many forms. Some channel their inner message and express it on a canvas with paint, while others may choose to put pen to paper. Otep Shamaya is an artist that assaults all of the senses when she expresses herself. Her latest creation is Otep’s thought provoking release Atavist. I had the privilege of catching up with Otep as she prepared for the release of her latest masterpiece.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: There seems to have been a really good buzz generating about your new CD before its release. It’s been on many “Most Anticipated CDs of 2011” lists. How does that make you feel when you see and hear that?

Otep: It makes me feel very proud. I have had this record inside of me for over a year and couldn’t wait to let it out. We worked on it for a little over two and a half months and now it’s time to see if the people believe like I do.

Did you approach making this album any differently than in the past?

Well, I didn’t have a band for this one. I also worked with some very talented song writers. It’s very exciting for me to be able to write songs that I have always wanted to write. “Drunk (On the Blood of Saints)” has such a powerful groove to it. There is a special musical feel that you just can’t teach when it come to writing music. It was so awesome to work with Tony Campos from Static X. He is a very technical guitar player.

The first video from the CD is for the song “Fists Fall”. How much involvement did you have with it?

The concept of the video was my idea. I worked with Robby Starbuck and he did a great job of bringing my vision to life. It is a song about bullying, but it’s also about fighting for what you believe in. I asked myself who I would like to fight and I also ask the listener. It really doesn’t matter, just as long as you do fight for what is important.

You cover “Not to Touch the Earth” by the Doors. I can see a lot of similarities between yourself and Jim Morrison. How did this cover come about?

I have always been a big fan of Jim and of the Doors. They are one of the most innovative bands of all time. I was asked to record a cover for this album and this song really spoke to me. I wanted it to be as sterile as possible and still be very exciting to the overall album.

Your first album was recorded in 2002. How do you think you have grown since that debut?

Creatively, in the past, I didn’t know much about the industry or about creating records. I was at the mercy of my inner emotions, but I wanted to master them. Over time, I think I have achieved that. I feel that I am closer to those emotions, but the malices are still there. I do feel that I am a stronger writer and performer. We all have to evolve in order to survive.

You are such a creative person that I wanted to pose to you this rather different type of question. If I was deaf and you were given a blank canvas to illustrate your sound to me, how would you create that image?

It would be similar to a Jackson Pollock painting. I would take the canvass and put it over a large speaker. I would press play and start dropping paint on it as the music played. I would do this and let it paint itself.

Are you anxious to get back out on the road?

I love performing for my fans. Everything is being organized right now. The suits and agents are lining everything up. We are looking at the end of May or early June to hit the road. I appreciate all the support from the fans and can’t wait to see them.

Since this went to press, tour plans have been announced with Otep headlining with support from Sister Sin, Destrophy, Blackguard and One-Eyed Doll. This is a show not to be missed!

OTEP Delivers Strong On Atavist

If Otep Shamaya was a box of crayolas, then she would not be the small 8 count box. She would be the massive economy pack of 150. Her visions push the envelope of normalcy and she challenges you to think way outside of the box. She is a poet and a lyricist who is strong, opinionated, outspoken and a breath of fresh air from the divas dominating the radio.

OTEP is Otep Shamaya’s musical baby and one of her outlets for her strong, impressionistic visions. Her latest CD is entitled Atavist and there was a huge buzz growing over the months in anticipation of this release. It was included on numerous “Most Anticipated Releases of 2011”.

The second track, “Atom to Adam” really sets the tone for the CD. The intensity level on this song is off the charts both musically and lyrically. The inclusion of a Moby Dick reference really got me to thinking about the songs meaning of mind games and control. This song is similar in tone to “Warhead”.

“We Dream like Lions” is a slower, acoustic style song that really stands apart from the other tracks. It’s a beautiful song and its symbolism really helps to paint a picture in the listener’s mind. “Drunk on the Blood of Saints” has Otep reciting the verses in spoken form until the chorus on which she unleashes her growls. This song also contains one of the nastiest bass lines that I have ever heard.

“Fists Fall” is an epic track with an epic video to accompany it. An anti-bullying song that also doubles as a fight for what you believe in anthem. It doesn’t matter if you win the fight or if you lose it, just as long as you do fight for it. If this song doesn’t get you fired up and ready to go, then Red Bull just won’t do the trick.

“Baby’s Breath” is a track that is either a hit or miss; it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s one of two spoken word tracks in which Otep really reaches deep into a dark side that exists in some people. It’s a seven minute journey in voyeurism and violence with a twisted smile. Listening to this track in a dimly lit room with headphones on actually was a bit creepy for me.

“I Alone” is a standout track both musically and lyrically. You can almost feel the pain in the lyrics of being an individual and not wanting to fit in too what society deems as the “norm” This will hit home with a lot of Otep fans as she has always been a leader in the right to be who you are and not compromising. The final track is the cover of the Door’s “Not to Touch the Earth”. This is another that is either hit or miss. I really like their take on it and I think that Jim would be proud of it, but I can see where some fans of the original are just not going to get it.

Overall, I think it is a really good CD. There are some songs that are quite diverse from others on it. I like that it mixes things up instead of giving you twelve tracks of monotony. Otep switches back and forth on some tracks with her screams and clean vocals, but her growls are just as intense as ever. I really liked it upon the first listen, but with each subsequent listen, it makes an even deeper impact on me.

I would recommend spending the few extra dollars and getting the deluxe edition. It comes with a DVD that includes music videos, a film called “Baby’s Breath”, a segment where Otep talks about recording the CD and about each song and even more stuff. Otep and Victory Records really went all out on this deluxe version. This is way better than some CD/DVD sets that many established artists have tried to put out and came up short. Either way, this is a solid CD with some of the most intense imagery that I have come across in a very long time. Check it out, give it a couple of listens and expand your mind…..if you dare.

Funeral For A Friend: Refocused and Armageddon Bound!

The Welsh quintet Funeral for a Friend is back with a new found sense of direction and a return to their roots. There has been a great deal of things going on in their camp since the release of their debut CD Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation in 2003. Several roster changes and some experimentation found fans of their debut scratching their heads. What happened to their hardcore heroes that blew them on that epic release? Although their last release Memory and Humanity showed signs of returning to form, it was not a consistent effort.

Their new CD, Welcome Home Armageddon, finds them more focused than they have been in a few years. In part, this should be attributed to Gavin Burrough switching from bass to guitar and Richard Boucher replacing Gareth Davies on bass. Combine that with a new found hunger by guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts who seems to have found his comfort zone on this release. I think some of his best work to date can be found on here.

The CD starts out with an instrumental track entitled “This Side of Brightness” that rips directly into “Old Hymns”. It really picks up with the third track “Front Row Seats to the End of the World”, which features drummer Ryan Richard’s trademark screams. This is an added element that the band doesn’t overuse hence losing its effect.

Kris really shines on “Broken Foundation” and on the standout track “Medicated”. I am not sure who unleashed him during the recording process, but his new found comfort zone excels on this CD. It just seems like all the separate elements have come together on this release to make a very cohesive unit. Let’s not fail to mention that Richard’s drumming is some of the best that we have heard from him. His double bass attack helps to bring back that aggressive edge that has been lacking in the band.

The band still does mix it up a bit on here, but at least this time it seems genuine and it flows much better than in the past few releases. Aggression, lyrically and in musicianship, plus emotion equals a return to sound for the guys. Longtime fans will welcome this and maybe some lost fans will actually jump back on board. Let’s hope this new found unity transcends into their live show. That will be the true test for these guys. Here’s to the next chapter in their hardcore saga.

Tesseract Brings Progressive Metal To The Forefront

Labeling music has always been a tricky thing to do. There have been some many new genres created that the choices can be as mind blowing as the infinite number of boxes on the cereal aisle in the grocery store. A new band has definitely stood out from the pack of wannabes and is making a name for themselves. Tesseract, hailing from the UK, is winning over fans and critics alike and for all the right reasons.

Formed in 2007 by brainchild and guitarist Acle Kahney, the band started to put together a sound that was very uncommon at the time. Aided by Jay Postones on drums, James Monteith on guitar and Amos Williams on bass, the band was slowly finding their sound. The addition of Dan Tompkins on vocals was the icing on the cake. His diverse range was a perfect fit to the multi layered sound being created. The band are at the forefront of a new era of progressive metal that is blowing away everyone who is experiencing it.

The band just recently released their full length debut CD entitled One to high praise from music critics worldwide as well as fans. They hit the road in support of the CD along with Maylene and The Sons of Disaster and Protest the Hero. I was fortunate to catch up with drummer Jay Postones and guitarist James Monteith before a recent show in North Carolina.

Music is my drug of choice: Well guys, you have been out on the road for a month or so now promoting the new CD, how has that been going for you? Any shows stand out?

Tesseract: The tour has been going really well. We’ve had a few fails along the way so far. We have a rubbish van that breaks down a lot and we actually had to miss one show because of it. The Orlando, Florida show was really good. It was sold out and the stage was really tight and the sound was great. There was also a lot of energy in the room that night and that’s great because you feed off of the energy of the crowd. The Dallas, Texas show was especially awesome. It was one of the bigger venues with a capacity of over 1000. As far as bad shows, Las Vegas was probably the worst gig we’ve ever done in our lives. The problem with Vegas is that it’s only good for two things: losing money and partying and we didn’t get to do the latter. Unfortunately, we did lose money. The venues screw you over and you only get half of your fee and then they take more merch money and a cut of your CD sales; which is actually illegal if you don’t own the copywrite to it……so screw Vegas!

How different is it to tour here in the States as opposed to the UK?

It’s about the same except for the distances. In the UK, it takes one day to go from one end to the other whereas here, it takes a day to sometimes go through just one state. Also, the food is a big difference. Our intestines are clogged from all the greasy, fried foods. I don’t think we can eat another McDonald’s again. The first place we stopped in New Jersey had hamburgers that were like $350 and they were massive. You can never truly eat a burger of that size, that was crazy!

The CD has been out for a couple of months now and the reaction has been very positive. How satisfying is that to you as an artist?

We’ve been very pleased and also relieved quite a bit. It’s a nerve racking experience creating something that you are very proud of, but you have no idea what people are going to think of it. One real worry was that people criticized us about having a lot of the material being available on the internet beforehand, but we haven’t heard much more about it. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with the reaction from the press and especially from the fans.

What do you guys do for fun while out on the road? Who is the practical jokester?

We’re fairly calm, but if I (Dan) see an opportunity for danger, I generally jump on it. We released a DVD with our new album and on hat, there is a clip of me dancing along the edge of the Grand Canyon like a little monkey and we also did that on an iceberg on this tour. Overall, we’re pretty layed back and boring people. There is the occasional, spontaneous meat slap! We were touring Russia and the standard food over there is meat, cheese and bread. We found this big slab of dirty, sweaty meat in the leftovers from our gig. We were on a train ride and Acle was asleep in the top bunk. James gets the slab of meat and slaps it right on Acle’s face. He didn’t wake up immediately, it was couple of seconds, but it gave the meat time to mold to his face. It was so funny! There’s also food fights, but we’re all responsible for those.

I have to ask you about the name of the band and its origin. Anyone dare to explain it?

Well, we could lie to you and say that there is this really deep meaning behind the name, but unfortunately there isn’t. When Acle first formed the band in 2003, he was writing all these cool riffs and he watched a film called Hypercube and heard the word tesseract and thought it was a cool name. It’s as simple as that, but it’s actually a very fitting name for us. Our music is quite complex and if you read into the whole fourth dimension thing, it is kind of mathematical and scientific.

You guys really do have a unique sound. Who would you cite as your influences?

Well, everything from Steely Dan, Pink Floyd and Meshuggah to electronica, Slayer and early Metallica. In between shows, we tend not to listen to a great deal of metal. The last thing you want to do when you get in the van after a show is crank even more metal.

I saw that you guys are up for Best New Band at the 2011 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. How awesome is that?

It was totally out of the blue for us. We received an email telling us that we had been nominated. Metal Hammer has been really kind to us over the last few years. It was really amazing to be even nominated. We hope all of our fans will go over to www. and vote for us.

Can you tell us what we can expect from you guys in the near future?

We are already working on album number two. We have a few songs that are almost finished and Dan is writing the vocals to them. We have another tour that we are going to be doing here in the states later in the year too. Other than that, we will be travelling and busy on the road.

Well guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us and we can’t wait to see you perform on this amazing bill with Protest the Hero. Keep knocking them dead out there and stealing the show each night.