Formed in 1995 by singer Trevor McNevan, Canadian Christian rockers Thousand Foot Krutch recently paid their first ever visit to England where they performed in front of a packed out audience at London’s Camden Underworld.
Rocknrose.net sat down with Trevor before the band took to the stage. We discuss the latest addition to their catalogue of albums - the blistering ‘The End Is Where We Begin’, the biggest battle the band has faced and why the motto ‘Be The Change’ is so important.
Rocknrose.net: The first question has got to be: Why has it taken so long for you to perform in the UK? Trevor McNevan: [Laughs] that is a good question! We are asking the same question. We’ve wanted to play in England for forever man. A couple of us have been here before but this is the first time we’ve actually got to play, so yeah, that’s hard to answer to be honest with you. We were on an American label and we’re Canadians and they were pretty focused on the US. We tried to get out of North America more often it was really kind of hard to do that while we were on the label. Now that we’re independent we have been able to broaden that focus and just kind of get out of the box more. We’re so excited to be here. Love London and England and we’re excited to play!
Rocknrose.net: ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ was released here at the start of September. On this album you’ve revisited the band’s roots as well as delving into newer areas. As a result it’s the most diverse offering of your career. Would you agree that it’s like a celebration of where you’ve come from and where you are heading? Trevor: Absolutely yeah, I think it’s a bit of both. Even the title ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ kind of has a lot of symbolism I guess you could say, attached to it. You know we used to be independent, then we were on EMI for a long time, then we went back to being independent.
I think more than anything, we just felt really uninhibited and from a song writing point of view we just wanted this to feel…to be inspired and people to kind of feel that. It’s been exciting to see people support that.
Rocknrose.net: We listened to the album and it’s quite diverse; one of those albums that you don’t know what style of song is coming next, that must make it more interesting for you when you perform live? Trevor: It does you know. I’ve always been a big fan of records that you could kind of listen to front to back, that didn’t have that one sound. I think just as a music fan and loving that it kind of comes out in our music. And yeah sometimes it has a bit of that mixed tape feel, but we’re just music fans and we love a good song and love music. I think that kind of pours out and it’s just the way it comes out sometimes, it’s all over the place.
Rocknrose.net: When writing began for the album you were frustrated creatively. We read the story behind ‘Be Somebody’. After writing that song, did the rest of the album come together easier? Trevor: You know what, yeah. It kind of just clicked into place you know. It was like when you’re trying to focus your sights on something and everything just felt blurry. Once that song came out it was like the colour was there; so from there on in it was a little easier to tie into that.
Rocknrose.net: The songs on ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ offer encouragement and inspire people, not to sit back, be strong and make a stand. Why was it so important for you to promote the message ‘Be The Change’ on this album? Trevor:That’s our heart to begin with, but it’s something that just came out during the creation of these songs and this record. It ended up being kind of like the album slogan. I think it’s something that’s been very real to me in my life. There’s been a lot of times growing up where you felt like ‘how could I make a difference, I’m just one person or one voice’. We’re trying to encourage our friends and family – that’s what we call people who support this band – we’re trying to encourage them to do the same. You can make a difference in your scenario, even if you feel like it’s just you. Sometimes it takes us being the one to take that first step and not being afraid to do that. It kind of organically became the underlying theme of this record.
Rocknrose.net: The album has a militant theme going on and has been described as ‘a call to arms’. What’s the biggest battle you’ve had to face as a band? Trevor: Man, we’ve been through a lot. I started the band at the end of high school so it’s been like 18 years. From member changes to record label changes we’ve been through some really big hurdles.
The other thing, to answer your question, that with ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ - the title that really kind of hit home for us - was that when we chose to go independent again and made this record we actually, in the same year, went through having all new management, booking…everybody in our entire team was new. We switched up all of that stuff. So it was kind of a real new beginning from ground zero all the way to every facet of this band. It was a challenging year for us. It can get pretty hairy you know, but I’m thankful to have incredible band mates and we all have the same heart and love to do it for the same reasons so that keeps us united when the boat feels rocky.
Rocknrose.net: On the album there is the quote: “If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything” – bands such as Rise Against, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam are also known for voicing their beliefs within their music. While addressing subjects such as social issues and ethics, no matter how good the intention, it can attract negativity from others. Have you ever faced that sort of criticism? Trevor: Yeah, absolutely. I think people are always going to spin stuff, you know the way they want to hear it, or attack something that they maybe don’t understand. That’s definitely happened. Sometimes stuff like that will be misunderstood or misread. All you can do really is just kind of try to represent it with the right heart that it was intentionally meant to have, that’s kind of the best you can do. You hope that people will listen or will understand but you can’t control that though. We’ve been pretty blessed that way, we haven’t had a lot of that but we’ve definitely had to deal with it through the years.
Rocknrose.net: Maybe one of the reasons that you haven’t had a lot of criticism is because how you write your songs. When you listen to Thousand Foot Krutch although the song may be about your relationship with God, to listeners you could be singing about any relationship, not necessarily one with God. Trevor: That’s cool. Yeah I know what you mean. Absolutely, I mean for us our faith is who we are, it’s our lifestyle, but we’ve always made music for everyone. It’s more of out of the heart for loving each other for who we are; respecting each other for what we believe; what we each stand for and not judging people at all. That’s kind of where we come from on that.
As a songwriter you write about life the way you see it or the way you go through it; the things that happen to you, the things that you see that affect you, and sometimes obviously your faith’s going to point to that because it’s who you are. It’s not a preachy type thing for us, we just want to share who we are and love people and connect through that.
Rocknrose.net: The song ‘Down’ features the following lyrics: “People used to tell me that I’m on my own. They said I’d never make a difference on this microphone” - How supportive were your family when you told them that you wanted a career as a musician? Trevor: I think my parents and my two brothers were very supportive, although they’ve always been really good with that. I had a lot of Uncles and Aunts and friends…a lot of friends around at high school, after a while had that kind of attitude ‘so how long are you gonna do the whole band thing? When are you gonna get a real job?’ Yeah, I got a lot of that growing up.
I think for me music has always been my passion…that’s what communicated to me, so to be able to communicate to other people in a way that music touched me, it’s always been that passion and that fire for me.
“I was a hazard ‘cause I never saw the glass, I just looked past it” - Have you always been the type of person that looked beyond any barriers that stood between you and your goal? Trevor: I would have to say yes I guess. I’ve had times where obviously I haven’t, but I think for me I kind of owe that to my faith. As far as being able to see past that or believing that: ‘ok this is where I feel like we need to go here, but sometimes you’ve got to take this step before you see the ground,’ I think we’ve been in that scenario a lot of times for sure. For me I think those are the most exciting times in life, where you have to just trust and follow your heart.
Rocknrose.net: There is a saying: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”, that statement holds true to artists within the music industry too. Through your own choice, you are an independent band now; would you agree that this has been a positive change for band, do you feel right now you are in a much better place? Trevor: Yeah, you know I think all around it’s been a really good fit for us. We are very independent in the way that we work on our stuff, we don’t just let people run everything and then we just mess with our music; we’re really kind of a big part of all the different pieces of the puzzle. We really want to present it in the right way and we want to make sure it sounds the right way and have always been a part of that on a grass roots level. It definitely suits this band. I think the coolest thing honestly, is that our goal was to be able to get closer to the people who support this music and this band; it’s allowed us to do that. We’re constantly trying to think of new ways that we can keep that connectivity and bring it more exclusive than ever before so that’s what we’re always working on. We feel very, very, blessed, we’ve been able to accomplish things independently with our team that we weren’t even able to do with our record label. It’s been very exciting and definitely huge, huge, thanks to everyone who’s supported the record and the band.
Rocknrose.net: There is a song on ‘The End Is Where We Begin’ called ‘We Are’. The lyrics include the line: “we are the chains that hold us”. We came across the following passage which resonate those lyrics: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson Why do you think that many of us carry that fear and hold ourselves back? Trevor: Man I think that’s something in all of us you know. I love that passage you just read. I’ve had that at the end of my email before because I just love it. I think that we’re kind of our own worst enemy sometimes because even if you believe that you can do that thing, or you believe in yourself…it’s just us, it’s our thinking you know, a lot of times we'll come up with five reasons why we probably just shouldn’t do that thing, you know what I mean? Sometimes it’s not even someone else, it’s not even opposition coming at you; it’s just us over thinking it or doubting ourselves, or just doubting that we could even do that. I know in my life I can say that’s happened a million times.
Rocknrose.net: The Be The Change Initiative looks at building a human presence that is sustainable, just and fulfilled. No matter what our religion, race or background, as humans we all want the same fundamental things in life such as: food, shelter, security, love, a sense of belonging. We all share that connection so why do you think it’s so difficult for us to live harmoniously? Trevor: That’s like the lifelong question. I think we all ask ourselves that sometimes. Everyone says they love each other or seems to be out to do a good thing or do it with the right heart, the right intent, yet we build all these walls all the time that keep other people out. I guess maybe it’s our human nature to try to control the situation or something but…I don’t know; that’s a really good question.
When it comes to faith and what people believe you see it happen all the time, you know, against one another and it causes division. It happens in a bunch of areas in our lives not just faith. I think sometimes maybe it comes down to we all can be guilty of being afraid of something you don’t understand, you’re not educated on or you haven’t taken the time to learn about and find out what you believe for you.
Rocknrose.net: There was a quote on the Thousand Foot Krutch Facebook page: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates What changes would you like to see for the new generation growing up in today’s world? Trevor: Our heart as a band has always been to share a message of hope. We really believe that there is hope for this generation and the next generation and that we don’t have to live out the negative projection like ‘it’s all downhill from here’ kind of thing, which a lot of people put on our generation and the next. We really can make a difference. I think it’s something that we need to start - loving each other just black and white, regardless of faith and nationality and colour and all that stuff - it sounds so easy but it’s hard.
We’re just trying to encourage that. We’re far from perfect obviously, but we’re trying our best to be an example of that as well and hopefully that can impact somebody and maybe then they’ll impact somebody else. Just to love each other for who we are and stop judging each other and work together.
’The End Is Where We Begin is available to purchase -BUY IT NOW
As the lead guitarist in two very successful bands – Alter Bridge and Creed – Mark Tremonti has gained a reputation for being a first class guitar player and one of the hardest working men in rock. With his latest project Tremonti, Mark has found an outlet to unleash his love for speed metal and heavy riffs. In Tremonti, the guitarist has taken the role as frontman, joining him is guitarist Eric Friedman (Projected/Creed/Submersed), drummer Garrett Whitlock (Submersed) and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen (Van Halen).
Tremonti recently returned to the UK, in support of the debut album ‘All I Was’. Rock & Rose had a chat with the band prior to their show in Wolverhampton and inspired by the cryptic promotional stunt for their latest single ‘Wish You Well’, which sees Mark digging up his past, we set out to discover what the foursome store in their memory boxes and what they would alter if they could rewind time.
Rock & Rose: On the album, there is a song which includes the lyrics: “Chasing the memories of our past, these are the moments that we hold”. What memories do you cherish most from when you were growing up? Eric Friedman: For me I think it was just doing the family vacations; it was almost like the National Lampoons but not quite as crazy! Wolfgang Van Halen: Yeah same. I was going to say family vacations, like when we used to go to the beach and have fun camp fires and stuff like that. Mark Tremonti: I’d say just being young, invincible and being full of life. Wanting to go out and see and chase down everything; having that young passion for life. Garrett Whitlock: The good times!
R & R: What one moment changed your life or the direction you were going in? Eric: For me it was getting pulled onstage with Kenny Wayne Shepherd to play one of his songs. He gave me the guitar and I played in front of fifteen hundred people! I think that was when I decided that I wanted to be a musician. R & R: How old were you? Eric: I was thirteen. Wolfgang: Probably once I learnt how to play drums when I was nine, I realised that’s what I wanted…I wanted to do something in music. Mark: When I got my first record deal. That’s really kind of when I kind quit my day job - I worked at a guitar store – I got a guitar and just started touring. Garrett: Probably when I just discovered my passion for drums. I was sixteen years old, and that’s pretty much when I decided ‘ok, this is the direction I’m gonna go’.
R & R: What have been your favourite memories so far since being involved in this band? Eric: I would have to say being out here in Europe, together on the bus every night hanging out, jamming and getting to play the live shows; just feeling like a band altogether.
You know when we do the record, we do it in bits and pieces so it doesn’t feel quite like it does when we’re all in the bus and just kind of hammering away. Wolfgang: Probably when I became a part of it. It’s just a really fun story of how I was kind of rushed into the band. Now we’re all really comfortable and having a good time. Mark: I think there are individual shows that were just over the top. You know, we just played Milan, Italy - that was just an amazing show. The last tour Manchester really topped them all off and we look forward to playing Manchester again. We are going to video tape it this time to make sure we capture it. Garrett: Pretty much the whole experience of it all. Like when we all started working on it together, writing and then deciding we were going to go out and tour. Then Wolfie coming into the fold. The whole thing, it’s pretty hard to put in words y’know. We’re looking forward to the next record. The whole process has been a lot of fun.
R & R: What memories would you like people to take away with them after watching Tremonti perform? Eric: I want people to walk away and think how bad ass that show was! Mark: [Laughs] I thought you were going to say how bad ass was that guitar player! Wolfgang: Just to have a good time. Mark: Yeah, I want people to leave knowing that they got every ounce of passion out of the band on-stage. We’ve been getting such good feedback, when you hear people say: ‘that was the most fun I’ve ever had at a show’. It means a lot to us because we’re just up there…We don’t have a fancy light show, we don’t have pyrotechnics. We don’t even have our own monitor engineer on tour. We are just guys playing our record as well as we can; and if people are having fun now, we can’t wait to see what happens when it spreads and we can afford to make the show bigger. Garrett: What Mark said pretty much sums it up.
R & R: Recently fans had the chance to solve an online puzzle to help unlock a secret website. From the reaction we saw on various forums the fans loved the experience. What sort of input do you as a band have when it comes to this kind of interactive promotion? Eric: I’d say definitely Mark has the most because he is always in cahoots with his brother, talking about stuff and figuring out twisted ways and tricks to do. Mark: Yeah, my brother Dan would be like: ‘Hey go walk down this alley there’s a camera down there, you’re gonna open this box and there will be a light that shines out of the box and three months from now we’re gonna figure out a way to do some kind of scavenger hunt so people can figure out what’s inside this box.’
I’ll shoot all kinds of stuff like that, then he, with his crazy mind, will come up with some kind of elaborate goose chase.
Dan’s done it ever since way, way back, when we did something called the…what was it…some kind of Creed quest. It was all over the place – there were hints on the cover of Guitar World magazine, there were stories online that you had to read and kind of interpret and it took you to different places to win prizes. Some of the co-ordinates that were scattered throughout those stories still remain, so if you don’t have some of those initial stories you might miss out.
R & R: The secret site included the 1987 demo to ‘Wish You Well’. Do you have any other early demos you plan to release? Mark: I didn’t want to release that one [laughs], that was Dan. That was another one of my brother’s like: ‘Dude, you have to give me the demo of that’. I said no. I didn’t want to release it because it doesn’t sound as good as I’d like it to sound, but he talked me into it. He was like: ‘You know this is you as a kid and that’s part of the story behind the song’. So I let him have a portion of it.
R & R: When you reworked ‘Wish You Well’ did the lyrics conjure up the same feelings you experienced when you originally wrote it? Mark: Well, back then it was a little more funny, you know, the lyrics were a little different and there was a [in an animated, raspy voice] yeah, little kid singin’, [laughs], you know. So, now we’ve beefed it up for sure and given it a face lift. There are definitely parts in the song now that I could’ve never done on my 4 track back in 7th and 8th grade.
R & R: The secret website also featured a short video piece called ‘Digging up the past’, where a box containing a piece of Tremonti history is unearthed. Do you keep a box of mementos; if so what kind of items have you collected over the years? Garrett: I’ve got a little box at home that’s got photos of family and stuff like that and little things throughout the years. It’s kind of cool to keep stuff like that, sentimental things in your life, y’know. [Looks around at his band mates] You guys got boxes? Eric: I’ve got a box full of backstage passes that I started collecting when I was going to shows, when I was younger. I’ve got lots and lots of concert tickets of shows that I really, really, wanted to go to, not just kind of here or there ones, but the bands that you’ve always wanted to see. Wolfgang: Same – I have tons of them in this little draw string bag. Eric: Yeah, I’m not a crazy pick collector but I have a couple of picks as well. Mark: I have a draw that has all my family stuff, family albums and cards and what not that I keep. Then I’ve got…I have a box that whenever I come off tour, if I have any kind of collectable stuff, I’ll throw it in the box. Once the box overflows I kind of organise it. But I keep stuff like if we’re on the cover of a magazine, I like to keep that.
I have little things like the little clock from the cover of the Human Clay [Creed] record, or the keys from the Full Circle [Creed] record. I’ve got the key to Las Vegas which the Mayor of Las Vegas gave me. I have little keep sakes like that; that you’d never get unless you’re touring around.
R & R: At the end of the ‘Wish You Well’, the video footage is rewound and the knock on the door is ignored – if you could turn back the clock would you alter anything that happened during the early stages of your career? Mark: I would definitely alter my contracts, every one of them. But nowadays more and more people just do kind of a handshake deal and if you don’t want to do business with somebody you just go the other way. I think that’s a good way of doing things. But, yeah, I would seriously dig into my initial contracts. Garrett: Practice drums more maybe. Eric: No, no I would do it exactly the same! Wolfgang: Yeah, same. Eric: [Laughs] I would pick the winning lottery. Mark: I would’ve probably invested in Google!
R & R: Have you started working on songs for the next album yet? Mark: Trying to. Got some initial ideas, not a complete song yet but there’s a bunch of scattered pieces ready to go.
R & R: Have you all been working together? If so, what has the chemistry been like creatively? Mark: So far it’s kind of sitting in the back lounge. There’s a guitar and a drum machine going and it’s like: ‘Hey, that’s cool. Ok record that’. You just keep doing that until you have 15 ideas and then we’ll say: ‘Alright, damn it; it’s time to create a song!’
R & R: As you are all involved in different projects, how do you find the time to be together in the same room to create an album? Do you do a lot of work when you’re on the road? Mark: We try to. Garrett: It is a lot easier just to write when you’re at home and everyone does their thing during the day; then we come together and have our instruments there.
It’s a lot harder for me when they’ve got their guitars and everything [on the bus] and I’m sitting there going [he taps his knees to create a beat]. You’re able to get your point across a little bit more when there is a drum set. But y’know, I’m looking forward to it, it should be fun. Eric: We’re always trying to make the best of the time that we have. As Mark says, we’re here altogether we might as well forge ahead and see what comes of it.
R & R: As today is Valentine’s Day - What qualities do you love about your fellow band mates?
[All laugh] Mark: All of ‘em? R & R: Yes Mark: I like Garrett’s…tenacity [laughs]. Like, how hard Garrett works, he’s a hard working dude. He’s got a vision and he’s got a goal and he’s gonna achieve that damn goal!
Wolfgang…let me think really hard [laughs]. Wolfgang brings youth to this band and he’s a very…we call him ‘Sweetie boy’. [Eric & Mark burst into laughter] Wolfgang: Oh here we go! Mark: When he’s not messing with you, he’s a very nice fella and he’s a very talented young man.
Mr Erock [Eric], he’s in love with life, he loves everything and it rubs off on people around him. He’s also another very gifted musician. Wolfgang: I love how easy it is to quote Garrett, he’s very quotable. He has a lot of lines that we tend to write down because it’s hilarious.
I like how driven Mark is. He has been doing this drawing thing in the back of the bus when we’re hanging out. When we’re not writing he’s drawing, it’s actually really frickin’ good, which is surprising! Mark: [Shooting Wolfgang a quizzical look] Surprising? [The room fills with laughter] Wolfgang: Erock - he’s just so…his positivity rubs off you big time because he just loves everything. Eric: [Laughs] I sound like this little fairy.
I just like everyone’s overall vibe. Everyone has a good vibe; everyone has their little unique thing. Musically I respect all of them on a very high level.
Personally I like Wolfgang because he’s really funny and we like to watch American Dad together!
Mark is really, really smart and he’s a good person look up to because he always seems to be doing the right thing. He’s really nice and he has good guitar playing skills!
Grock [Garrett] is just super awesome, all the time. He’s just you know, you aspire to be half as cool as Grock because everything he says just seems to be like way cooler than anybody else. Garrett: I’m the biggest dork in the band!
R & R: What does the band have planned for the rest of 2013? Mark: We’re touring through March 7th and then we just got some offers to do some shows starting on May 25th. We’re gonna try and do some late night television, like a Jay Leno kind of appearance or Jimmy Kimmel, Conan [O’Brien], Jimmy Fallon, something like that; and then a few more shows that week. That will be in the middle of the recording process for the next Alter Bridge record, so then we’ll have to see what happens towards the end of the year.
Tremonti’s debut album is available to purchase now:‘All I Was’
In less than 2 weeks the SOiL, Fozzy and Breed 77 tour will be hitting venues around the UK. As they are gearing up ready to rock the faces off you all, SOiL’s bassist Tim King and Breed 77 frontman Paul Isola took time out to answer some questions for Rock & Rose.
Rock & Rose: You’ve been using Pledge Music [Breed 77] and Kickstarter [SOiL] to raise funds for your new album. Have you found using this type of platform not only beneficial financially, but a more interesting way of connecting with your fans? Tim King: We did it more as a way to get the fans involved. SOiL has always been a band for the people and this is a way for us to get everyone more involved than ever with the new album and to even hang out with the band. Paul Isola: Totally, it's more than interesting - it's an eye-opener! We have been able to engage with our fans on a personal level, from offering exclusives that are kind of 'once in a lifetime', like signed guitars and the props from our most well-known videos, to meeting our fans over dinner or at our most private - at our rehearsals.
It has been extremely humbling to see the support we have at a grass-roots level, we have also been able to do away with the whole 'record company' dynamic in that it has been a totally direct exchange between our fans and us - their support has gone directly back to where it is needed most - in creating the music THEY want to hear.
R & R: Have you had any, or do you welcome, feedback from your fans as to what type of incentives to include in your campaign? Tim: There seems to be a great deal of excitement about it. We kind of just picked out the incentives that we knew we could do and that would hopefully be fun for anyone who pledged for them. Paul: We have always been connected to our fans and have always encouraged dialogue - I mean we always hang out in the crowd at gigs and we have a chance to meet everyone. As far as the incentives, to us it was simple; we had to offer something precious - either to us, like pages from my lyric book, or to them. We wanted to offer stuff that you couldn't get anywhere else, and at a price that was reasonable. The feedback we got was great because all the main exclusives were pledged for in the first few weeks of the campaign!
R & R: Breed 77 has recently had pledgers down to your rehearsals in London, how did that go? Paul: As I said before, our rehearsal studio is our inner sanctum, and inviting people there was a big thing. We were excited to have our fans down, so we got the beers in, cranked up to 11 and let rip and hung out for a couple of hours - much fun was had by all! A couple of guys came in from out of town and had a few hours to spare so we ended up down the pub for a few...
R & R: Fans can Pledge to have dinner with the band and get access to an acoustic show. When you were younger which band would you have liked to have dinner with? Tim: Well I'd probably still do that to have dinner with Motley Crue!!! Paul: Wow! So many.... I guess number one would've always been Led Zeppelin - just to go drinking with Bonzo....and Keith Moon while we're at it!
R & R: Would you recommend Pledge Music / Kickstarter to other artists and would you consider using it again in the future? Tim: I don't know. Let’s see what happens with ours first! hahahaha Paul: Definitely - I think sites like Pledge are the future, they offer possibility in a climate where big business does not take risks - there is less money in the industry, with Pledge you can get the investment you need if your fans think you're worth it - no one loses out and money goes to where it's needed.
R & R: Breed 77’s new album is titled ‘The Evil Inside’ – what kind of lyrical content are you dealing with on this album? Paul: The general tone on this album is darker and more introspective, it deals with inner torment, words unsaid, opportunities missed and choices we wish we never made. Basically every song is a snapshot of an emotional low - we all get them, some more than others - it's part of the life most of us lead - a basic dissatisfaction of self, the moments we don't like to talk about!
R & R: It has been quoted that SOiL plan to make the new album as ‘the truest, most honest SOiL CD as humanly possible’ – will we be hearing a different side to the band now that you have a free creative reign? Tim: We've always had free creative reign. That has never been an issue. The best part about the process we are using this time is that we will control all the advertising, marketing, and vision of the project.
R & R: The Soil / Breed 77 / Fozzy tour starts at the end of November – what are you most looking forward to about these shows? Tim: It's always great to play in the UK and Europe. I think it will be a great way to end the year before we start recording the new album. We started with the return of Ryan (McCombs) on a UK tour in October 2011, and now we are ending with one in 2012. It's a perfect way to transition into the recording of the new SOiL album. Paul: Rocking out!!!! Those 40 minutes of stage-time, catharsis, celebration, carnage haha! Sharing our music with the audience at very loud volume.... every night a new city, a new country - it reminds us why we do what we do.
R & R: Will fans attending the shows get to hear any new material? Tim: There is one new song on the set, as well as, a few gems we haven't played yet since Ryan came back. ‘Obsession’, ‘Suffering’, ‘Black Betty’......hrmmmmmmm maybe! Paul: Our set won't be too long as it is a big bill - but I'm sure we'll be able to squeeze a couple in - we definitely will be playing our new single ‘Drown’ which is sure to get the room heaving!
R & R: Since forming would you say that your approach to touring has changed much in 15-16 years? Tim: Well we don't jump around as much...haha. Actually not much has changed; we still go up and give 100% each night. I would say that we are definitely more relaxed before and after a show now. We don't freak out as much. Paul: I think we know how to have fun better - it is always important that you learn to party without it affecting your performance - the show is the most important thing... the saying should go, "Rock n Roll, Sex & Drugs" in order of importance haha!
R & R: Finally, with plans for the your albums to be released next year; are you able to tell us what else you have lined up for 2013? Tim: Touring and more touring when the album is done. And I'm sure we will figure out some other crazy stuff to do. The SOiL circus is always doing something! Paul: Tour, tour, tour!! We want to be out there us much as possible - the world's a big place, there are a lots of shows to play! Look out for some videos to support songs from the album and we wanna be all over the festivals this summer - see you out there, something wicked this way comes.......
Stateside Daughtry is a household name. Regularly performing in front of sold out crowds, this multi-platinum selling band has three hugely successful albums to its name. We recently sat down and spoke to frontman Chris Daughtry before the band opened for Canadian superstars Nickelback at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena.
It was back in 2006 when Chris Daughtry’s vocal talent was unleashed to the world when he auditioned and become a contestant in Season 5 of American Idol, wowing the judges and audiences alike. Despite being tipped to win the competition, in a shock result Chris was eliminated landing him in fourth position. Rather than sit around moping, Chris wasted no time and began writing and recording the first album, he also started the process of putting together a band of musicians who would go on to form Daughtry.
The self-titled debut, produced by Howard Benson, featured contributions from the likes of Mitch Allen, Ben Moody, Shinedown’s Brent Smith and guitar legend Slash. ‘Daughtry’ became the fastest selling rock debut in Soundscan history, spawning hit singles such as ‘It’s Not Over’ and ‘Home’, it also became the number one selling album in 2007 according to Billboard. In fact, to date, Chris Daughtry has become one of the most successful contestants in the history of American Idol, behind only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood who both won their respective seasons.
It would have been easy for Chris to opt for the solo route; instead Daughtry is a collaborative effort, with the rest of the members having input in the decision making. Chris tells Rock & Rose why he would rather work as part of a team: “It’s good to get advice or opinions from people that are sharing the same common goal as opposed to the one person thinking that everything he does is awesome, or everything he’s doing is the way to go. You have other people going ‘look maybe we should try this instead’.”
Upon its release in 2009 ‘Leave This Town’ was the first album to feature band members Josh Steeley (guitar), Brian Craddock (guitar), Josh Paul (bass) and Joey Barnes (drums). ‘Leave This Town’ debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, outselling Michael Jackson’s ‘Number Ones’ album in the US. Daughtry had another platinum selling release on their hands.
Drummer Barnes parted ways with the band in 2010. Robin Diaz, a studio musician who has worked with artists such as Nickelback, Three Doors Down, Avril Lavigne, Hinder and Theory of a Deadman, stepped in as his replacement.
Daughtry’s current album ‘Break The Spell’ offers a more optimistic collection of material than its predecessors. Chris says about the record: “We wanted to make it more upbeat. I think musically when you’re doing something a little more upbeat there’s a little more movement going on in the music and that kind of dictates where you’re going to go lyrically. It’s kind of hard to sing about something very negative or a ‘downer’ if you will when the music is so upbeat; you want to fit the lyric to the feel of the song.”
Tracks including ‘Start Of Something Good’, ‘Losing My Mind’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Fall’ draw attention to the good side of relationships. Songs such as these describe the feeling of excitement you have at the beginning of a relationship as well as the determination to keep an established relationship alive and strong.
One of the stand-out moments of ‘Break The Spell’ is the ultimate driving anthem ‘Louder Than Ever’, which Chris tells us is an ode to a Bryan Adams’ classic: “I was referring to ‘Summer Of 69’ when I wrote that song, they have the same kind of feel so it’s was kind of an ode to that.” ‘Louder Than Ever’ is an up-tempo rocker that makes you reach for the volume dial, turn it up full blast and sing your heart out as if no-one is watching: ‘Two hearts on the getaway / Feels just like yesterday / Young love on the freeway /Singing louder than ever…’ It’s the perfect accompaniment for any motorway journey!
The album was re-issued last month as a special two disc Tour Edition to coincide with the European / UK tour with Nickelback. The package is great for both new and existing fans; it includes the full album alongside a bonus DVD featuring music videos and live performances. We ask Chris whether the positive tone of the songs from ‘Break The Spell’ change the mood on stage when they are performed live: “A hundred percent,” he answers. “It changes the crowd reaction and it changes the interaction between you and the crowd. It makes it more of a unity thing.”
Daughtry have been touring virtually non-stop since 2007, sharing stages with the likes of Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Puddle Of Mudd, Finger Eleven along the way. Daughtry’s anthemic, perfect-for-arena songs combined with the band’s on-stage energy makes for an enjoyable rock show. The latest European tour with Nickelback will no doubt do wonders for raising the band’s profile here.
For bass guitarist Josh Paul, this will be his last tour with his band mates. After six years as part of Daughtry, Josh recently announced that after much deliberation he has decided it is time for him to bow out. This parting of ways is entirely amicable: “It’s been kind of progressively going in that direction, it’s completely friendly - he’s one of my best friends. He just wants to do different things and we respect that,” Chris reveals. “His presence on stage is definitely going to be missed - his energy is second to none.”
While the members of Daughtry have spent years sharpening their skills as musicians, not long ago Chris and Brian paid a surprise visit to a group of youngsters involved in the School Of Rock program as part of music video website Vevo’s GO Shows series. The School Of Rock program teaches youngsters of all abilities how to play a variety of instruments, offering both private music lessons and group band rehearsals in order to prepare students to take the stage in front of live audiences in an authentic setting. Its motto is ‘inspiring kids to rock on stage and in life’.
“We chose to do it there because we were all there before, not necessarily School Of Rock, but in that place as a kid where you were really looking to advance, to be inspired and maybe be a rock star someday,” explains Chris. “We were all thinking ‘man, how cool would that have been, to be in school and this famous band comes in and talks to us’. It was a cool opportunity to inspire these kids and it was a lot of fun.”
Chris tells us that he was about 16 years old when he picked up a guitar and took it seriously and it was one of his class mates that encouraged him also to take up singing: “A guy named Robert Nesbit - a guitar player - kind of nudged me to sing, he kind of pushed me into it!”
One testimonial on the SOR website reads: School of Rock provides opportunities not just for kids to learn the classic material and techniques of rock and roll, but also provides them with fantastic lessons in problem solving, team building, and the rewards of hard work while building their self-esteem and confidence.
It was thanks to the support of Chris’ parents that he has always had a good level of self-esteem to follow the path which led him to where he is now. “I had great parents that never discouraged anything I was into at the time. They were never going ‘well you should try this, or you should go and try that.’ They were always supporting where I was at,” he says proudly. “I think that just kind of gave me the confidence to always do whatever I’m doing – just go for it!”
One of the most important lessons the singer has learnt since being part of Daughtry is to treat people with respect: “One of our biggest things is to treat everyone in the crew and the band like it’s our family; we always want it to be a tight knit group.” Chris pauses then continues: “Also treat everyone else around you the same way because it’s a small industry and everybody knows everybody. The second you mistreat one person it can completely come back and the next thing you know you are dealing with someone that knows that person. In any business you have to treat people with respect and honour what they’re doing as their role.”
As the interview draws to a close we ask Chris about the health challenge he is currently partaking in. The singer has been regularly tweeting about it and sharing videos of himself working out, encouraging others to join him as he takes on the ViSalus Body by Vi™ 90 Day Challenge, which claims to be the number one fitness and weight-loss challenge platform in North America. “Over the last couple of years I’ve been pretty health conscious. I think many years on the road, of late night drinking, eating late and just not really putting in the effort caught up to me. I saw pictures and YouTube videos and I’m like ‘oh my gosh, is that me?’ I was 25lbs heavier,” admits Chris. “I started slowly trying to change that and recently my wife had gotten involved with this company ViSalus, I started trying products and I loved them, so I decided to join as well. I was like ‘you know what I’m actually gonna just make it my goal to…’” he pauses. “Everybody always goes ‘man I wish I was the way I was in high school’ or whatever. I was like: ‘Let’s do it! I’m just gonna do it; I’m not gonna sit there and say ‘I wish I was...’ I’m gonna make it happen.”
Chris goes on to reveal that the restriction of touring life does not affect his work-out routine, however he does find it much harder to eat the correct meals: “When you’re in different places and every place has different food, sometimes it’s not the healthiest option, you just have to be smart about what you eat. I don’t really restrict myself to what I eat but I try to restrict how much of it I do eat. In three days I had way too much Wagamama,” he says with a grin. When Rock & Rose point out that there is a Wagamama nearby, Daughtry’s tour manager who is sat in the room smiles and shakes his head; Chris laughs: “No, I’m not even looking in that direction!”
Okay, maybe not then… One direction Chris and the rest of his band mates will look in though is the future – one which is seemingly going to include a lot more overseas travel. Can we keep our fingers crossed for a full UK tour? “That’s the plan, hopefully next year,” Chris answers. “If the fans buy the record and afford us the opportunity to come back and do a proper tour, we are here. We will be here!”
Since 2008 British rock band Heaven’s Basement have been relentlessly clocking up road miles, touring with the likes of Papa Roach, Shinedown, Buckcherry, Theory Of A Deadman, Thunder, Black Stone Cherry and more. Currently on the road with Halestorm, Rock & Rose caught up with the band – Aaron Buchanan (lead vocals), Sid Glover (guitar), Rob Ellershaw (bass) and Chris Rivers (drums) - before they set foot on stage at Birmingham’s O2 Academy 2.
Having just released their first single - ‘Fire, Fire’ - from the forthcoming debut album ‘Filthy Empire’ (due for release in January 2013), we decided to base our interview with Heaven’s Basement around some inspirational quotes relating to, you guessed it…Fire.
Better a little fire that warms than a big one that burns. - John Ray
It’s been just over four years since the original incarnation of Heaven’s Basement - which at that time included Sid and Chris alongside Richie Hevanz taking the role of frontman, Rob Randell on bass guitar and Jonny Rocker on rhythm guitar - released their self-titled EP; bringing an essence of old school glam, plenty of riffs and some catchy hooks. Thanks to their live shows Heaven’s Basement soon became the toast of the underground rock scene here in the UK.
Even in the early days they managed to secure tours with some of rocks finest, but the road they have travelled has been far from smooth. It seemed that every time the band was about to get its big break, obstacles appeared to slow things down. In 2009 Rob Randell left the band and Rob Ellershaw was announced as his replacement. Less than six months later and two weeks before the band were set to go out on a headline tour, Richie stepped down from his lead singer duties, citing: ‘the lifestyle and constant touring has taken its toll and it is time for me to move on to different pastures’. Johnny Fallen, from alternative rock outfit theFallen, temporarily stepped in to fill Richie’s shoes. As the band were getting their heads around the latest changes, Jonny Rocker announced his departure. Not long after, the remaining trio found a new lead singer in the form of Aaron and the decision was made to continue as a four-piece.
While it would have been easy for them to call it a day these trials have made the band a pretty resilient bunch. “There were points of reflection when different members would leave. I remember when Jonny decided to leave, that was a bit of a shock,” Rob recalls. “Then I remember waking up being like: ‘I’m not done being in this band’. I spoke to Chris and Sid and they were exactly the same. As long as we know that everyone is as committed as each other then we’re kind of unshakeable.” Aaron nods in agreement and adds: “We know the ins and outs of each other – not sexually…” he grins, “like, we know the bad bits, we know the good bits. We’re a pretty tight knit group - even our crew,” he looks around the room at the various members of crew who are present. “All the people we take out with us, we all know them very well. Because of this, and because of the amount of time that Heaven’s Basement has had in leading up to the album [Filthy Empire], I think it will definitely help our longevity in the future. I mean, even I’ve had two years and I’m the new guy!”
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. - Albert Schweitzer
Although their families and friends are supportive of the band, it did take some convincing for them to realise that this was a serious career choice for its members. “My Dad definitely shouted down my neck for two and a half years to ‘get a job, get a job, get a job.’ I got a job and then I joined the band and quit!” Aaron recalls.
“We had to convince everyone,” Sid remembers. “They thought we were mental! But, when they saw how hard we worked, how good we actually were and they saw the development of the band, it was like, ‘fair play, you’re not just dicking around you do take it seriously.’ Once that level of respect had been reached the support really helped.”
After finally finding each other, it’s easy to see that these four men have a good bond. They are serious about their music but don’t take themselves too seriously. When asked what qualities Aaron, Sid, Rob and Chris bring out in each other, before our sentence is barely finished, Aaron jokes: “Hate, generally a lot of hate!”
“I think everyone brings out my humour” answers Rob, “I get to take the piss out of Chris mainly, on a regular basis.”
“Hang on a minute!” exclaims Aaron as he looks over to Rob, “we don’t bring your humour out you inflict your humour upon us!”
Motivation is the quality Sid goes with: “I sit down and even if we’re on a break or something, I grab a guitar and go ‘right let’s try and write some songs’. There’s always three other people we have to consider, so when we come back together it’s better to have something to show for the time away.”
Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability. - Roy L. Smith
“This is all we want to do as a career,” states bassist Rob. “Through various paths we’ve filtered into this line-up. We’re not from the same place; we did the circuit with different bands, and were always on the lookout for people who were as committed as we all were – who wanted to do it [as a career], as opposed to being happy playing at the weekend and doing day jobs.”
Having been through so much together, how have the guys kept each other motivated and focused throughout the highs and the lows? “Physical threats!” Sid quips before going on to answer: “When we found ourselves essentially starting again Chris, Rob and I were kind of left as the three guys looking for a singer. We scripted out various targets and goals that we needed to hit by certain dates which was really good because it kept us going, it kept us motivated. We’d go and write or record, we always kept moving forward. That kind of helped us keep our sanity, until our saving grace walked in the door!”
“We pretty much wrote and recorded the ‘Unbreakable’ EP as a three piece,” explains Chris. “We just cracked on as normal, treated it the same - that was the way we focused on where we wanted to go.”
“We just ignored that we didn’t actually have a singer!” Sid interjects as laughter fills the room.
It was after writing and recording the ‘Unbreakable’ EP that the trio decided they had better start their hunt for a lead vocalist. “It’s like when you’ve got to do your homework or there’s a job that you need to do and you put it off. You’re like: ‘Well I’m going to go and pair some socks...done that. Right, now I’m going to clean my room.’ Do you know what I mean? Then you literally sit back and it’s like, ‘right, now we need a fucking singer!’” Sid laughs.
Having a strong work ethic and being very driven is the quartet say, a very prominent theme of what the band is about. Aaron confirms this: “I think the thing with Heaven’s Basement is when you walk into it that is the deal. From the first day I joined Heaven’s Basement it was just work, work, work, work. That’s all it’s been for the last two years – but in a great way, in a great, positive, creative way.”
The hard graft and determination finally sees them with an album’s worth of material. The past two years have been spent working towards their debut ‘Filthy Empire’. “There’s a lot of maturity in it and it contains what we feel actually represents this line up of Heaven’s Basement,” Aaron says about the album.
“If you look at our set list there’s only one song on there that isn’t on the album, and it’s not even out yet!” Sid notes. “The songs are in the set over others that people might know. It is us, we feel that comfortable when we’re playing it live.” Rob concludes: “We’re all very confident and we’re just really excited to filter it out there.”
‘Filthy Empire’ is a new chapter in Heaven’s Basement’s story, a new beginning which will hopefully see those sparks generate some flames in the world of rock.
Introducing Hedley; four fun-loving musicians who, since their inception in 2004, have become one of the biggest bands in their home country Canada. This award winning group play in front of sold-out arenas back home, where their first three albums – ‘Hedley’, ‘Famous Last Words’ and ‘The Show Must Go’ – have all achieved double-platinum status. Their latest album ‘Storms’ looks set to follow suit. Hedley’s success hasn’t always come easy however; but they have managed to get through the tough times – together.
‘Storms’ is Hedley’s most mature and emotionally charged release to date. Before and during the making of the record each band member – Jacob Hoggard (vocals/guitar/piano), Dave Rosin (guitar), Tommy Mac (bass) and Chris Crippin (drums) – were dealing with a lot of ‘serious issues’ within their personal lives. The title ‘Storms’ comes from their belief that if you persevere you will overcome anything, and, to quote the song ‘Stormy’ - ‘even the worst storms got to end.’ Getting through these times has helped the band develop an even tighter bond and now, more than ever, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Two days after their appearance at the Canada Day celebrations in London’s Trafalgar Square, Hedley held a show of their own at the Camden Barfly, where they performed in front of a sold out audience. It was here that Rock & Rose sat down with Hedley frontman Jacob...
“Oohhh, that’s a good question,” smiles Jacob as he leans back on the sofa while contemplating his reply. “If I was to describe my personality in a weather forecast it would be…” Pondering for a little while longer before coming up with an answer: “You know when it’s sunny but it’s also raining, and there are dark clouds but for whatever reason it’s sunny and raining. I don’t know what it’s called, but it would be that. It’s a little bit of everything all the time…I think it would just say ‘fucked!’” he laughs.
A little bit of everything is exactly what you get from the band and their music; from quirky and funny to heart-felt and inspiring. Whatever your mood, delve into Hedley’s catalogue and you’ll be able to find the perfect soundtrack.
‘Stormy’ was produced by long-time collaborator Brian Howes. With the album containing themes touching on survival and dedication, Rock & Rose wonders whether Jacob has an optimistic outlook on life. “Yeah I’d say so,” he confirms. “I mean, I’d say I’m first with a considerable measure of adversity from time to time but it still never seems to get me down. I always seem to have my sights set quite high and I’ve come to realise the fact that life is just up and down sometimes. No matter how bad it gets, it’s always going to get better.”
Crafting this album with precise detail, spending hours upon hours perfecting each of the songs, ‘Storms’ is said to be the album Hedley has spent their entire career working towards. Jacob even tried his hand at producing this time round and it’s a role he thoroughly enjoyed. “I’ve always been gradual and taken incremental steps in terms of increasing my skill level as producer. I’ve never wanted to jump in and get in over my head, or take on too much of a responsibility and be unable to deliver the quality that I’d expect out of a producer I’d work with,” Jacob reveals. “It’s much more difficult to produce yourself than it is to produce another artist because of how indifferent and objective you need to be. For me, it was a nice gradual process and I feel like I’m working myself into it easily.”
As Jacob discusses the making of the album he reveals that it felt very rewarding completing the process, especially having gone through so much recording it. “All of those challenges amount to just a greater reward once you can get through it all. You look back and say ‘yeah we did it, we endured everything that was going on and we were still able to put out a real cohesive piece of work that we’re proud of’.”
When not busy writing music and playing shows, Hedley are ambassadors of the charity ‘Free The Children’, helping to raise awareness and funding to support health and education in poverty stricken countries, so that children and their families can live to their full potential. In recent years Hedley have taken trips to visit Free The Children communities in India and Kenya. There they witnessed first-hand the effects of poverty. Jacob tells us that it was an eye opening experience. “It really provides a lot of perspective for somebody who might not otherwise view the world with as much contrast. We’re very lucky to live in the first world countries that we do. It’s always kind of fickle when you look back at our types of first world problems that we find ourselves enduring like: ‘the AC’s on too high so I had to put a jacket on’ etc. The reality of it is that life for most people on this planet isn’t the way that we perceive it, in fact it’s much more difficult and more of an art of survival than it is sustaining.”
One experience that the band will not forget is their initiation to become Maasai Warriors during a trip to Kenya and having to drink cow’s blood. “It was very intense!” reveals Jacob. Did you know that you had to do that beforehand? “They kind of let us know as we were doing it, so it became quite a reality immediately! But, it was one of those things where the camera was rolling…in my head I was saying to myself: ‘Well you only have to do this probably once in your lifetime so you best just get it over with!’” Jacob explains that drinking blood from a cow is how the shepherds sustain themselves when they’re travelling for miles and miles through the desert. “The only way they can really get any sort of sustenance at all is from that cow’s blood. The shepherds have a very convenient combination of greenery mixture that they can put on the cow so that they can heal it right away.”
When we ask if Jacob saw anything from the way the communities lived that the western cultures could learn from, his answer is the community based sensibilities they have. “It’s a different way of life. It’s based more on survival. Every day is about getting water and about getting food; not getting clothes and updating the operating system on your iPhone,” notes the frontman. “At a certain point I realised there wasn’t even any garbage anywhere; there was no garbage because these people were so poor that they couldn’t even afford the chocolate bar that would eventually produce a wrapper on the ground. It’s very much sticks, mud, goat meat and goat milk. It’s a far more carnal way of life there and it propels them into a community based mentality where they’re forced to rely on each other and survive as a group. Whereas we can all kind of just get on, on our own, in terms of being civilised, living in a civilised country and having all of the amenities at our fingertips.”
Jacob says that visiting these types of communities and seeing the way the people live changes the way you look at life. “For me personally it really kind of reprioritised what I value in life and the way I live my life in terms of what I care about. Even just my sensibility and awareness – like switching a light off and being mindful of that type of electricity you’re wasting. Obviously the reality of our world is that there are a lot of people that go every day without food, without fresh water, and there is nothing you can do. You can’t just go over to India and flick a switch and stop child labour; it will continue to go on for quite some time. It’s the way our world works unfortunately, but that dose of reality is often the best perspective anyone can gain.”
During their visit to Kenya, Hedley also helped to build a school for children without access to education. We ask Jacob what school life was like for him. “School life for me was challenging because I felt that in a lot of ways that the system in place wasn’t necessarily the most suitable for me and my character,” comes his honest reply. “I found myself often too bored, too distracted, or not interested in what was going on. As much as there were certain things that really caught my attention like the Arts and English, I always seemed, for whatever reason, to excel in English - regardless whether or not I was doing homework. I’ve realise growing up, I’ve probably done more learning and have had a larger concentration of information accumulating after my high school years than I ever did during my school years. Whether it was just because I wasn’t stimulated enough, or interested enough in certain things that I find myself interested now, or just the fact that I was maybe less mature then…I never really gelled with the school system too well.”
Is there any advice Jacob would give to his younger self if he had the chance? “Y’know, I can honestly say that I would just make sure that I do everything I thought of doing. The worst thing you can do is regret not doing something, or not saying something. I find myself in a lot of situations going over what I could’ve said to somebody or what I could’ve done in a situation, that’s the most uncomfortable feeling I could have.”
The situations Hedley have encountered so far have led them to here; the other side of the pond where the buzz of excitement from the crowd inside the venue is tangible. Before we say our goodbye’s Rock & Rose make sure we ask Jacob one important question: Will we be seeing more of Hedley on these shores? “Absolutely!” he smiles.