On July 21st 2015, Rockstar’s Mayhem Festival came to Holmdel, New Jersey. The fest had several big names, though the highlights were Jungle Rot, King Diamond and Slayer.
Jungle Rot put on a crushing death metal performance and got the pit going. Their setlist only contained six songs, but they made the most of their short set.
King Diamond was the most hyped act of the year and had the biggest crowd of any band that day. The theatrical set mostly consisted of songs from King’s classic albums. It got even better halfway through when he covered the Mercyful Fate classics “Evil” and “Come to the Sabbath” with Slayer’s Kerry King on guitar. The set then ended with three songs from King’s most popular album, Abigail.
However, the final band of the night was none other than Slayer. Slayer started their set with several of their 2000’s songs including the three singles from their upcoming album Repentless. The second half of the set was all older songs including the popular tracks “Raining Blood”,”South Of Heaven”,”Hell Awaits” and “Angel of Death” as well as deep cuts like “Chemical Warfare”, and “Ghosts of War”. The band’s energy was great and the sound was spot on.
During the fest, Alternative Nation was able to catch drummer Paul Bostaph for an in person interview. We discussed the band’s upcoming album as well other topics related to his body of work.
Tell us a little about your upcoming album Repentless.
We all have different opinions on the album since we are all different people. It’s the first album we have done without Jeff as well as the first album I’ve been on since God Hates Us All in 2001. The whole time I was in the studio, Jeff was on my mind. He was a big part of the band and I feel I lost a friend. We still haven’t let things settle… that type of thing is not easy to deal with.
I noticed the three singles released for far,”Repentless”, “As Stillness Comes” and “Implode” are pretty different. Which one would you say represents the new album the most?
I wouldn’t say that one any of those songs represent the whole record at all. The different between the three represents diversity in the record. Each song on this record will have a different intensity. Some songs are darker then others. The three songs released show that it will not be the same thing on every track.
I see Mayhem Fest is going well so far…
Mayhem Fest is awesome! Unfortunately, I have not been able to see any of the bands on the second stage. The second stage is normally not very close to the main stage and we usually get here too late to catch those bands. I really enjoy sharing the stage with King Diamond. I’m a huge Mercyful Fate fan and love his solo stuff as well.
Your set list for this tour starts off with mostly newer tracks, then goes into an all old school block.
Kerry normally puts our set lists together so you go him to thank for that. You also have to put into consideration that we have a new album coming out and have new songs we want to share with the fans. Also, when we tour, we can’t play the same songs all the time. We love adding songs people won’t expect to the set, but sadly we also have to sacrifice popular ones to do this. We will not be playing “Seasons In The Abyss” on this tour. That’s a song we love to play and I know people would want to hear it, but in its place we are playing “Ghosts of War” to change things up.
On the negative reception of Diabolus in Musica: I don’t agree. I love that album. They are a lot of great songs on that record. “Bitter Peace” is one of my favorite songs that Slayer has done. They are a bunch of things we did different on that record, but I feel its a good record.
On drumming for Slayer, Exodus, Forbidden and Testament: I never though I’d be playing drums in four different bands. To say this is a childhood dream come true to play for any one band I was a fan of… I’d say yes.
On the Judgement Night soundtrack: The big idea behind this movie’s soundtrack was to put metal bands together with rap artists. Playing with Ice-T was a lot of fun. He came in very intense. I loved it! It was my first time playing with Slayer, my first time working with Rick Rubin, and Ice-T was involved. It was a blast!
Hellyeah is a rock/metal supergroup consisting of vocalist Chad Gray (Mudvayne), guitarist Tom Maxwell (Nothingface), guitarist Christian Brady (Magna-Fi), bassist Kyle Sanders (MonstrO), and drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera). The band is currently on the North American traveling Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. You can click here to view our recap and photos of the event. We spoke to bassist Kyle Sanders at the show. You can view the interview below.
We’re here at the first day of Mayhem Festival in San Diego along with headliners Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, and many more amazing bands. Who in this lineup do you think has had the biggest influence or affect on your band?
Kyle Sanders (bassist): I would say Slayer, personally. But there’s some huge King Diamond fans in our band. I’ve played a lot of shows with Slayer before but not a full run, just a couple festivals and off-shows with them. It’s going to be really cool with those guys everyday for the next five weeks.
Can you remember the first time you heard about them or a memorable moment you had of the band?
Kyle: Originally, when I was getting into metal, it was kind of scary. I started with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but then I got into Black Sabbath and Slayer and all that kind of stuff. So my first impression back then was different, but now I couldn’t imagine life without them.
What four bands would you predict or hope to be on next year’s lineup?
Kyle: Well, they don’t do bands twice in a row, so I can’t say my band. I’d like to see Deftones out here doing their thing. Mastodon should be on it next year; it’s been a few years since they’ve did it. I like how old-school this year’s lineup is so I’d like to have Iron Maiden. Judas Priest is still kicking ass too.
Album artwork for ‘Blood for Blood’ released in 2014
It’s been a year since your last album, Blood for Blood, came out. Can you reflect back on that album?
Kyle: It came out in June of last year and we started touring in April. It’s been a pretty good cycle so far and there’s no end in sight. We’re going pretty strong for the next couple months. It’s the fourth record and you try to get better and better each time and I think it is definitely the best this band has put out. It’s kind of been like a new life and fire in the band. We’ve been playing it for a year and a half and we’re not sick of it. We’re still putting more songs from the record into the set and playing most of it. It’s been an awesome ride and hopefully we’ll get back into the studio and take it to the next level.
Are there any thoughts towards a follow-up yet?
Kyle: There are thoughts. We know the time is coming, so rather than be overwhelmed, we’re trying to gather ideas and little bits and pieces of stuff. After these next two tours, we’re going to try to do something at the end of the year. We’ll get something out and get back on tour at the beginning of next year.
Any plans towards a musical shift or experimentation for the next album?
Kyle: It’s going to start the exact same way as the last one. We’re not going to change anything. The whole chemistry of how Blood for Blood started was a good setup and just organically came together. We’ll see what new ideas and flavors come to it.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6ZScBMwmmQ] Official music video for “Hush” single
The big thing you guys are currently doing is the #HushNoMore campaign. Can you talk about the events that led up to the single and the campaign?
Kyle: The song was actually written two years ago, so we didn’t write the song to be exclusive for a charity. It just came out naturally. The lyrics are really close to Chad Gray. If people understand it, then great, but if if they don’t get it, oh well. He’s not writing for that reason. You write for yourself. We were familiar with the charity organizers and they really loved the message. They pitched us the campaign and we were absolutely on board. It was just a really cool coming together of us both.
You’ve also had a cool history in other bands before Hellyeah. Can you talk about those bands and your relationship with them currently?
Kyle: Hellyeah started originally as an experiment. Pantera could only do their style and same with Mudvayne. So, this band was created so Chad and Vinnie and anyone else involved had the freedom to do something else. People always bring up the old bands, and of course we wouldn’t be where we are today without them, but the focus is Hellyeah. It’s cool where everyone came from because it brought us fans from those perspective bands and our younger fans learn about those old bands.
Former Pantera guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, who was shot onstage in 2004
Are there any thoughts or rumors towards a reunion of Pantera, Mudvayne, or any other past bands of current Hellyeah members?
Kyle: People are always asking that and there’s always the offers, but Hellyeah is definitely the main focus. Pantera is not getting back together. And that’s because Pantera can’t get back together. They can do some sort of tribute, but it’s not a reunion without the full band. They’re not gonna reunite because it’s impossible. And Chad is always getting questions about Mudvayne and that’s just not his focus. We’re trying not to spread ourselves thin.
What’s coming up after this Mayhem tour?
Kyle: We have three days off after Mayhem and then a short headline run in the US with some festivals. Then we go straight to Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, which we haven’t gone to on this cycle yet. After that, we’re gonna start the new record. Mid-September, we’ll take a break and then get back in creative mode for writing and recording. The plan is to have the album done by the end of the year. I would imagine we’d release the album early next year and tour in the states and UK in promotion.
North London rock outfit Wolf Alice have released their much-hyped debut full length studio album, My Love Is Cool, to great acclaim. The record is a sprawling pastiche of everything that has made alternative rock awesome over the past 30 years while also moving the genre forward into the mainstream once again with its soaring pop hooks and grungy distortion. Highlights include the euphoric “You’re A Germ” and a ferocious re-recorded version of their original single from 2013, “Fluffy”.
The band seems like part of a new wave of guitar rock music originating from the U.K. that is connecting with American audiences in the wake ‘of the Arctic Monkeys’ AM and Royal Blood’s self-titled debut, with their single “Moaning Lisa Smile” in constant rotation on American airwaves. This sort of instant success and comparisons to the American alternative rock greats like Hole, Pixies, and Nirvana might be overwhelming to many, but bassist Theo Ellis played it cool during my interview with him, shoeing off those comparisons while championing his love of the Britpop scene of the 90’s… and the new Suicide Squad trailer.
Is it nervewracking when you become sort of a darling for the press even before the release of your first full length album? That LP seemed to have a high mark to reach, and you most certainly achieved that.
Due to the internet’s monopoly of the music world bands can become “darlings” of the hype machine as soon as their first track surfaces. Due to various constraints it took us a while to make the record and during that time we didnt disappear from peoples lists, we were conscious of what people were saying about us while making the record but our personal standards were far scarier to achieve. I think making your debut as good as you dream of is naturally nerve wracking.
Some publications like to compare your band to grunge music. Are there any albums from that time period that you hold dear? Side note: I see tons of Hole/Courtney Love comparisons online in the vocals.
As a band none of us have ever listened to an entire Hole album or many other bands we are compared to of that era (Elastica, Veruca Salt etc). Although none of us our 90’s music buffs, we were born in the 90’s and naturally we digested some of the sounds of the era. I can remember on more than one occasion us referencing All Saints vocal sounds and pop sensibilities. I find the poppier side of that era more influential than most of the grunge bands going. Obviously Nirvana will permanently remain exempt and stay safely rested on the mantle of one of the best bands ever.
One of the best tracks on the album is “Your Loves Whore”… I can hear Oasis in that tune… or am I deranged?
I think we all take that as a massive compliment as huge lovers of oasis. The chorus I suppose has a similar anthemic atmosphere which I think Oasis are the ultimate masters of. Some of the guitar sounds share a similar DNA too, hazy and drawn out. We still have a long way to go to deserve such a compliment, I reckon.
British guitar rock seems to be in full swing with the American crossover really burgeoning with you guys and Royal Blood, compared to the tamer indie pop scene in America.
Guitar music worldwide seems to be in a really healthy state, this year has seen some amazing guitar records, Drenge’s second album “Undertow” is goth riff central and we will be touring with them across the U.S throughout most of October. It seems to be an age old gauntlet that British bands run, coming stateside and trying to translate, it’s amazing for any of us to come over there and have people come to the gigs, would be amazing to see more crossover bands throughout the year.
Funny how Drenge was being so hyped by the British press when Royal Blood hit out of nowhere and sort of beat them to the punch in America, and now you get to bring [Drenge] on tour in the US in the coming months. There seems to be a wealth of other bands in the UK like Dinosaur Pile Up and Blood Red Shoes. You think with Wolf Alice and Royal Blood making it huge, it gives these bands a chance.
I think that all of those bands are so amazing in their own right that they could easily make it big stateside regardless. If we are starting to gain some attention and can help shed light on some other amazing artists and bands then we will for sure.
Is the title “Giant Peach” Roald Dahl influenced?
The song isn’t directly influenced by Roald Dahl more so the story of James and the giant peach, and the idea of a twisted love affair with your home, much like James runs away from his original life and forges a new home in a massive peach. Roald Dahl however is a legend.
And for the token totally irrelevant question: Comic Con just made waves with some awesome trailers and videos for Star Wars, Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman, and Suicide Squad. Not sure if you guys are into nerdy flicks like that, but if you are, what’s your favorite of the bunch?
I am a massive fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, that was the best franchise revival ever. it maybe the inner emo inside that it appeals to so greatly but I consider each film from the trilogy to be a masterpiece. The Suicide Squad trailer looks incredible, I have very high hopes.
Blacklist Union are a Los Angeles-based rock group that formed in 2004 by frontman Tony West. While the band has yet to hit mainstream, the act’s impressive accolades are stacking. They will release their fourth album, Back to Momo, on July 10th. We spoke to Tony West about the upcoming album, his past relationship with Alice in Chains’ bassist Mike Starr, the Seattle Sound, Guns N’ Roses, and more. You can view our interview below.
Cover artwork for ‘Back to Momo’
You guys will be releasing your upcoming album, Back to Momo, next month. Can you talk about how this album differs musically compared to past releases?
Tony West (frontman): The first three records are dealing with a lot of darkness, pain, and anguish. My first wife, girlfriend, and best friend died in my past and it definitely took a toll on me. I got to write with Todd Youth, who I basically grew up with and I have a lot of respect for. We set out to make a record that was light, fun, and real. I think we accomplished that.
Regarding the lyrics on this album, is there a central theme or specific message?
Tony: It is the same message in every other Blacklist Union release. Each song is about a real life experience. Nothing is contrived to sound cool, but rather each song is a story in its own right. Similar to how Steven Tyler, Bon Scott, Layne Staley would write. For instance, “Evil Eye” is about my mother and my quest to have a relationship with her my whole life, despite the fact that she was abusive. So, that song was about giving up that delusion and coming to terms with that. “Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell,” which is our first single, is about being able to persevere and going to the big city despite dying, drama, and rumors that drag 99.9% of the people down and out. Every Blacklist Union song is very real and I think it comes across that way.
The band’s influences are quite diverse from classic rock to more modern alternative music. Which genres and artists influenced the sound of this upcoming album?
Tony: I call our music “street rock,” basically because it comes from the street and it’s as real as you get. For this album, we had the same influences that we’ve always had like Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and Alice in Chains. We’re big Turbonegro fans. We’re really into punk rock like The Ramones. GBH is one of my favorite bands. We choose from stuff that strikes us as real and authentic and it’s a lot of grounding in blues and punk rock on this record.
Official Music Video for newest single “Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell”
Currently, are there plans to tour in promotion of Back to Momo’s release?
Tony: I certainly hope so. We’re trying to get over to Europe right now. That’s our focus along with South America and Australia. Touring in the states is a whole different animal. It’s pretty difficult nowadays.
Ideally what other bands would you want to tour with?
Tony: Of course I’d like to tour with Aerosmith. We’d like to do some dates with Backyard Babies or Sixx:A.M. or any band that is relevant in the 2000’s. We definitely don’t want to be going out with those 80’s bands. I think those bands should just hang it up. As matter of fact, I think it does more harm than good to new rock bands. I was born in 76′ and a lot of the punk bands I listened to in the 80’s are still going hard today and play clubs and pack in the house. All the rock bands that hit in the 80’s aren’t doing shit and are lucky to get people at their gigs. People know what is real without even consciously knowing. The kids in punk rock nowadays are wearing the same shirts that I was wearing.
You performed at a Mike Starr benefit show earlier this year. Did you have a relationship with Mike and what is your opinion on the Seattle scene in general?
Tony: I thank God for the Seattle scene. Mike Starr happened to be my roommate in 1994 and he was my dear friend and I loved him very much, which is why we play the Mike Starr show every year. Alice in Chains was a huge influence on me and Mother Love was even more huge. Singer Andrew Wood was probably my main inspiration. I love that music. I can’t stand Pearl Jam, but I love Mother Love Bone. If you compare Andrew Wood to Eddie Vedder, it’s like two different leagues. I actually ended up singing in Andy’s band, Malfunkshun.
“Diggin’ 4 Gold” Music Video Off 2012’s ‘Til Death Do Us Part’
Blacklist Union formed over ten years ago. Reflecting back, what would you say is the most significant event in the band’s history or your personal music career?
Tony: I think like I said, singing in Malfunkshun is a huge thing for me in my personal career. As far as Blacklist Union, we’re really recognized by a lot of peers and people I have respect for in both the business and artist side of the music industry. It’s really flattering to hear these big names enjoy our music. Right now we’re working with Vicky Hamilton, who also worked with Guns N Roses. They were huge to me when I was a kid. I ran away to Hollywood when I was thirteen because of them. I’m very honored to have my name thrown in the mix with these bands like Malfunkshun and Guns N Roses. I say this very humbly too, but it doesn’t get any better than that. The only way it’d get better is when Steven Tyler asks us to come with Aerosmith. I’m waiting on that call.
Besides the release of Back to Momo, what else is coming up for the band?
Tony: We’re doing a music video for our second single, “Evil Eye,” which will feature my son. On July 4th, we’ll be playing with John Corabi at the Whisky a Go Go. I have a lot of respect for that guy. Things are slowly unfolding and coming together with each passing day.
What do you see for the future of Blacklist Union and your music career?
Tony: My whole goal is making an impact. I was a kid who needed music. IT helped me survive. The most important thing is making an impact on someone who needs it.
Last month Alternative Nation took a close look at the legacy of Silverchair highlighting the incredible impact their music has made across the world. It’s now been 20 years since the trio broke onto the scene. Daniel Johns, the bands fearless leader, was just 15 years old at the time. With the success of Silverchair, he quickly became recognized for his extraordinary musical ability. He went on to release five records with Silverchair (all of which made it to #1), and was the first person to ever win the prestigious APRA “Songwriter of the Year Award” on three separate occasions. In 2011, Silverchair announced an “indefinite hibernation.” Aside from a few various special guest appearances and a collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra to create the soundtrack Atlas which was part of the 2012 Olympics, Daniel purposely took himself out of the spotlight. The next few years would be formative as Daniel thoroughly examined what’s next. Enter Talk!
Often referred to as one of Australia’s most talented and influential artists, Daniel is now one month deep into the official launch of his new solo career. His debut record Talk, was released worldwide on May 22nd followed by two shows at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid Live festival. Talk finds Daniel courageously exploring a new musical journey while maintaining his sincere and honest connection to communicating through the medium of song. Not many artists have the self-will to change gears in such a fashion. Those that do, rarely have the raw ability to successfully pull it off. Then there’s Daniel Johns. Who not only has all of that to the utmost degree, but he also does it with such grace and spirit. As a listener, you are truly rewarded by listening to Talk in full as you are almost invited on the musical journey yourself. Emotional yet incredibly powerful tracks like “Preach” bring you to the starting point, providing a snapshot of where Daniel is now coming from while joyous songs such as “By Your Side” offer a more sensitive mood of contentment. Perhaps one of the most profound lyrics on the record is from a melodic gem entitled “Too Many” where the chorus rings “All that ends well, is well.”
Checking in from Sydney, Australia, Alternative Nation recently had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Johns where we discussed Frogstomp to Talk and everything in between. Let’s just say, all is well.
Congratulations on the release of your new record Talk and the launch of your solo career. It’s really great to hear new music from you.
Thank you very much it’s good to be back. It feels great to have a record out and it’s just really good to be back.
How has life as a solo artist been different from that of being in a band so far?
In a lot ways it feels a little more liberating. With Silverchair it almost felt like an opportunity to explore different music because we did have that type of platform from a pretty young age and it was our goal to make sure every record was different. I was really pushing myself as a writer then. That was the Rock ‘n’ Roll thing and people were always expecting a certain sound which they rarely got from me whereas this solo thing, it felt like the world was my oyster. I can do whatever I wanted and there wouldn’t be the same expectations had it been a Silverchair record. Overall it’s just more freeing and I feel like Talk is a really good starting point for a solo career. Almost like a reset button.
You collaborated with a lot of great producers when writing Talk but did you write any of the songs or melodies first on the guitar or piano?
I very rarely started on guitar or piano but I did have a lot of starting points written on synths and drum machines. I had bunch of chord progressions and melody ideas. I had quite a few; I really must have had 100-200 songs before I started getting serious about releasing a record. Then when I started figuring out the pallet for the record and what I wanted to do, that was when I started calling producers. Some of those ideas I had got worked on. The producers would come over to my house because I really wanted to record the majority of it at home and we would work on a chord progression that I already had or we would sit and start something fresh. There were no real rules. The only tunes I really worked alone were “Going on 16,” and “New York.” For the rest of them, if someone had a drum beat I had about a million chord progressions that I could play with it. So if there was a beat that I really liked I would just try it over that beat or we would just try something completely new.
The record is filled with a ton of incredible melodies. How different is it writing songs or even just lyrics for this style of music as opposed to rock songs like you were used to writing with Silverchair?
It is different but it feels like a more substantial way for me. After the last Silverchair record there were about seven years where I was writing songs and bits of music that no one really heard. I was basically getting further and further towards electronic music and R&B type of stuff. That was when I really felt like I had my finger on the pulse and felt like I understood the genre I was going for. It really started to make sense to me. For the melodies, it was an opportunity for me to just focus on the melody itself and not worry about how it would translate in only a Rock ‘n’ Roll environment.
You write lyrics from a sincerely open and honest place. Looking into your catalog, songs like “Ana’s Song,” “After all these Years” and “Preach” to name a few, all have a very personal and courageous touch to them. Do you feel that’s how you best express yourself?
Yes, a lot of the earlier songs with Silverchair were quite personal yet I was sometimes trying to hide the meaning by using metaphors and such. With “Ana’s Song” it was pretty obvious what things were about. Whereas with Talk, though there is some metaphorical stuff in there, I really wanted the songs to be quite literal. That was a conscious effort on my part. I was pretty obsessed with John Lennon’s DoubleFantasy at the time. I must have gone through it about 50 times. That really inspired me to just tell the truth and try to be as literal as I can be while still trying to retain some kind of privacy.
Speaking of “Preach,” that song is incredibly powerful and moving. It seems very emblematic with lines such as “now I dance to my own beat,” “fall at my own feet.” Does that song capture your entire place right now both musically and where you are in life personally?
With “Preach,” it pretty much sums up a period of my life writing this record. There’s a lot of bravado, there’s a lot self-doubt, there’s a lot of references to my life and to my struggles to write music again. So I think of all the tracks on the record that does probably sum up many of the things that I’ve gone through while I was writing it. I think that song also feels more personal because it’s a bit darker than some of the other ones. There are some songs that are much lighter yet just as honest. But people tend to gravitate towards the dark stuff (laughs).
When you first performed “Preach” during the APRA awards, there’s a part during the first line of the second verse where you simultaneously flip two middle fingers and sing the “I don’t care” line. That was a strong statement for your first performance of new music. Was that deliberate or more passion of the moment?
All of that stuff is heat of the moment. I generally don’t have a plan when I’m performing. I just try and feel what the song is about and try to encapsulate where my head was at when I was writing it at the time. Then when I have that adrenaline running through my body I tend to get a little more aggressive (laughs).
The song “New York” seems like a love song mixed with heartbreak. You spent a lot of time in New York correct? Is this song specific to your experience there?
I did spend some time in New York but the weird thing about that track is that I wrote it originally for this art-house movie that was about this glorified 1940’s New York. I actually wrote that before I spent a lot significant time there. I was writing about a collection of little experiences I had over there. I had a book of words about New York that I was supposed to reference relative to the movie. Ironically, I went there awhile after that project for a few months and lot of things that I was writing about in that song actually ended up happening to me while I was there years later. So it took on a whole new meaning.
When you formed the Dissociatives with Paul Mac, did that spark your interest in electronic based music?
I met Paul Mac when I was about 17. I was pretty heavily into Rock ‘n’ Roll music and grunge. He was the first guy that really introduced me to electronic music. Up until I met Paul, my knowledge of electronic music was just top 40. He got me into Kraftwerk and this amazing minimalist electronic music. From that point on, I always had this fascination with electronic music but didn’t really know how to make it. Then when I started working with Paul on the Dissociatives records I started to wrap my head around how it worked and how to make it. I just took that with me I guess. With every musician you work with, the plan is to learn as much from them as they will from you. The beauty in that is you can then take things with you for the rest of your musical journey.
Coincidentally, this year also happens to mark the 20th anniversary of Frogstomp and the debut of Silverchair. Looking back on that, what does it mean to you now?
Looking back on that now it almost feels like another life to me. I have really vague recollections of that period also. It was a whirlwind, we were so young. We spent a lot time in America playing shows, it was big over there. In a way, I look at that period almost as if it was another person. I’m still incredibly proud of what we did when we were that young. I don’t really relate much to that music anymore though.
Anyone who really knows Silverchair can identify your progression in music. All five albums are different from each other, exploratory and unique in their own way. Is it safe to say you’re simply continuing on that path, challenging yourself to be an evolving, innovative artist?
I think so for sure. The people that have followed my whole career will probably understand Talk a lot more than the people who only know the early Silverchair music. Certainly my goal with every record or every project is to be different, explore and become a better writer. I never want to rest in that regard.
Did you ever consider going solo in a more unplugged fashion? Meaning just you and a guitar or piano?
I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about that. I never attempted that because I feel that kind of record can be done at any point in one’s lifetime. I think I could write a record like that when I’m 60 and it would still be legit whereas with the more electronic based music, it may sound a bit weird coming from someone after 50 (laughs). I always wanted to keep my foot firmly planted in the future at least for the next few records and then go back to more minimalistic and acoustic later in my career.
What are some of your personal favorite songs that you’ve written over the course of your career?
There are a few actually. There are a bunch from Diorama. I’m particularly fond of “Tuna in the Brine” from that record. I really like anything I’ve done from Diorama on. I’m quite proud of that music and it still feels like it has emotional resonance for me. There are a lot tracks on Talk as well that I would put in that category.
Your rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that you played at the Triple J Beat the Drum birthday show, was that something you had worked out a while ago or was it put together especially for that performance? It somehow seemed to touch upon the past, present and future while at the same time delivering a message.
It was basically deliberate for that occasion. There are some obvious reasons why that song choice is ironic. I wanted to make a point just prior to the release of Talk that the grunge sensation from down under has been put to bed. Personally, it felt like an appropriate transition into the beginning of this solo music.
Hopefully we will see you in the U.S. again sometime soon?
Yes, hopefully! There are no plans just yet but we will get over there sometime soon I’m sure.
Art of Anarchy took the rock realm by surprise by dropping a press release in February announcing the release of their recently released debut album featuring Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, John Moyer of Disturbed & Adrenaline Mob on bass, former Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland on vocals, & the mysterious Votta twins (Jon & Vince) on guitar and drums. Though Weiland has since distanced himself from the project, which is seemingly without a frontman for the time being, Art of Anarchy promised some ambitious live shows in an effort to keep the spirit of rock music alive.
I recently caught up with Ron, himself a class act, who helped coordinate an email interview with the entirety of the band (minus Weiland). The members shed some light on the group’s mysterious background, solidifying the group’s vague timeline (dating back to at least 2011), explained the long distance songwriting process between the band & Weiland, and gave some props to a few other rock bands to keep an eye out for. Like any proper twins, the Votta siblings collaborated on their answers and sent them back as the collective “Votta bros.”…
Ron, you previously indicated the band was conceived in 2011, a year that seemed to be a dark time for you.
Ron: All was going great in 2011. It was May, I was prepping to produce some artists at the studio, AOA had just started recording, I really missed teaching and started giving Skype lessons, I was recording songs for the song-a-month digi- releases throughout the year (every month I’d put out a song in different formats, accompanied by mix stems so people can make their own versions, guitar transcriptions and backing tracks for guitar players…) Mark Tornillo (Accept singer) just laid vocals on a song we did together called “Catfight”, I was heading home from the studio and got rear-ended full speed by an SUV while I was stopped at a light.
Once the physical effects of that accident started kicking in, I was in pretty bad shape. By the 2nd week of June my brain would shut down and I would be semi-asleep and muttering gibberish and drooling, the only thing that stopped it was a full meal every hour. I remember us stopping a recording session when the day’s bags of food ran out in the afternoon – I was semi-coherent in the Vottas’ car as we rushed to a deli to get a few foot long sandwiches, I remember loudly moaning the word “slowly” as they pulled out of the driveway and shifted from reverse to drive, the subtle motion felt like a baseball bat to the back of the head. That condition lasted about two weeks, then I started physical therapy.
I had a real defeated attitude at first, and then something kicked in and I went into serious fight mode and for 3 days a week for a few hours, I’d tie my hair up over my head (that’s why I wore my hair like that while on tour in 2011/2012, to keep myself in physical therapy mode and break the habit of shaking my hair while playing…) There’d be heating pads, spinal decompression, ultrasound heat therapy, all kinds of low-impact motion machines and exercises, other not-so-pleasant attempted treatments… after 2 months I could speak at normal speed, could make A-or-B decisions, and was fiercely lifting the side of the gym’s treadmill a foot off the ground with rubber resistance bands pulling it toward me in sets of 20.
I couldn’t focus enough to give Skype lessons anymore, but I could at least handle engineering, and we continued Jon & Vince’s guitar & drum recording and any song arrangement editing. Man, this AOA album had its fair share of obstacles. Gotta commend Jon & Vince on their perseverance and not giving up through the tough stuff…
Below: check out this video of Ron explaining how he rose above his crippling anxiety, which escalated due to the 2011 car crash.
The mainstream newcomer Votta bros are already making a big impression on listeners for what is otherwise billed as a “supergroup”. How did this musical partnership with the Vottas begin?
Ron: It began in the late ’90s, I had a studio in NY and they came to check it out, we hit it off, and I recorded albums of their old bands. I engineered & produced them for a tribute album called “Lost Voices” on Polygram, and proceeds went to drug/alcohol awareness programs. Their band at the time, Tyris, did a cover of the Doors’ song “Love Her Madly.” They were one of the only unsigned bands on there, alongside Faith Hill, Etta James, Billy Idol, Devo, Duran Duran, the Pretenders… We remained friends and continued working together, lots of funny adventures over the years.
Votta bros.: Yeah, we’re inseparable. The one cool thing about being a twin is you kind of see eye to eye on 99% of everything which makes being in a band drama free between us. Plus, we like the creative chemistry we have. It makes whoever we play with sound different than if they played with another drummer or guitar player. Our past musical histories started with cover bands in school and we had one serious band called Tyris, which Ron worked with during that time period. It was from 1996 to 2002. When that disbanded it became difficult finding the right players. That’s when we called up Ron and said we have this idea for a new band – let’s get guys we know can deliver.
When exactly was Weiland brought on board, and when were his vocals recorded?
Jon Votta.: October 29th, 2012 is the exact date we reached out for Weiland. It was the day of Hurricane Sandy which makes it a day I’ll never forget. By the time we finished negotiating his contractual terms and agreements with his management and lawyers, he started recording October of 2013 and he finished his parts at the end of the year.
Moyer, how did you come into the play? You seem to be a busy guy over the past few years with Mindcrime, Adrenaline Mob, etc.
John Moyer: In December 2013, I received an email through my websitefrom Jon. He said he had something in the works with his brother, Bumblefoot and Scott Weiland and they needed a bassist. He told me to call him if I was interested. I called him back immediately! After talking to him I realized that not only would it be cool musically but I would be able to work it around my other bands if need be. At the time Adrenaline Mob was putting together our 2nd album and Mindcrime didn’t even exist. I recorded my tracks in January of 2014 at Bumble’s studio where I met Jon and Vince in person. I had no idea they were twins until that moment! At the time I did my bass lines only about 3 songs were done vocally so it was still all a work in progress. Art of Anarchy has quite the cinematic feel to it, kicking off with the spaghetti-western esque Black Rain leading into the middle eastern-tinged opening riff of Small Batch Whiskey.
Ron: Jon Votta had the true melodic vision, I give him the credit on that. Don’t know if he’d agree? Haha… I did my best to help bring his vision to reality. We’d experiment with ideas for melodies and arrangements whether guitar or vocal or symphonic but it was the teamwork of bouncing ideas off each other that brought out the best results. Did you guys give Weiland any input on where you would want the tracks to go lyrically, or did you let him run around in his creative playground?
Ron: None. This was his canvas to paint what he pictured for the songs, complete freedom to write and do what he felt for the music.
After receiving the vocal tracks back from Weiland, were there any additions made to the guitar tracks to make the vocals and music blend in a more beautiful way? Ron: There were some production tweaks here n’ there, echoes of this, harmonies of that… I think I added some fretless guitar in the middle of “Small Batch Whiskey” after the vocals were down, don’t think there was anything else… From what I understand, [Ron & Jon] really shared guitar solo duties on this record. Can you give us a bit of a breakdown on who did what solo? The solo on “Grand Applause” seems to be a fan favorite, and “The Drift” is probably my favorite tune on the album; the guitar solo leading into the breakdown is trippy as hell.
Ron: Thanks! It was a split of leads. I took those two solos, “The Drift” being on the fretless guitar – Jon had the idea for me to start that solo with the “wah – ah – ah – ah – ahhhh…” sound, haha… I did the “Black Rain” acoustic solo, little fretless solo in “Small Batch Whiskey” around 2m44s, Jon takes the main solo at 3m50s. Jon does the solo in “Time Everytime”. In “Get On Down” we trade off – I do the first solo at 0m54s, Jon takes the next solo 1m 57s, I do the last solo at 3m06s. I did the acoustic solos in “Til the Dust Is Gone”. In “Death Of It” Jon starts the solo and we switch at 2m57s. In “Superstar” I do the guitar intro and outro, Jon does the main guitar solo. And Jon does the “Aqualung” solo.
Jon: The beginning of the solo on “The Drift” was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It’s a tribute to the beginning of the shower scene when Janet Leigh starts getting stabbed. Then I told Ron, just be Bumblefoot and rip the neck up. As for both of us sharing guitar solos we really just wanted to play for the song and not turn the album into a guitar clinic. For me personally I also like to incorporate the blues in my playing which I feel is being lost in today’s modern rock. You promise to keep rock and roll alive with the record and eventual tour. Do you see anyone else out there nowadays holding that flag? Ron: There are some killer bands on the rise, like Thank You Scientist, Periphery… likin’ Royal Blood too…
Votta bros: Anybody that’s willing to plug in and get up on a stage is holding the flag. But at the end of the day, it has to do with how many fans want to show up to a show and solute that flag.
Rock act P.O.D. is ready to hit the road to support the release of their newest studio album called The Awakening to be released on August 21. The band lost and reacquired their lead guitarist, survived the nu-metal phase of the early 2000s, and recovered from a split from Atlantic records and are still intact after close to twenty-two years together. It’s a far cry from the start of the early 2000s, where the band reached their crest and popularity and multi-platinum status, but P.O.D. are far from over. I talked to lead singer Sonny Sandoval about the band’s humble beginnings, how they coped through the record biz, and more.
Does the band miss the level of success of the early 00’s?
You know with the kind of band that we are and the success we had is something that the band never expected or anticipated. We were just an underground band and we did everything independently for seven years on our own. We worked hard and saved money up until our first cassette tape was sold. It was a passion for the music and we kept going until we got ourselves to the U.S. When doing it on our own, that’s when the mainstream comes to you. It’s been a journey. Music has changed, labels have changed, the music industry has changed. It becomes a corporation and everyone has their hands in your pockets—and everyone is telling you who your band should be and if you want to be successful, this is the way to do it.
That’s one of the reasons why we took time off. We still have fans out there that care. We know times have changed, but we still have fans that care about what we do. We still keep going. Twenty-two years later we still keep doing what we love.
The band was grouped in with the nu-metal or rap metal scene of the early 2000s. Do you regret being labeled as such?
You can’t help that. That really had nothing to do with us. We grew up on that music, though. We loved metal, punk, reggae, hard core and hip-hop. That’s what made us original and what made us pioneers. We reminded some people of Body Count; then when Rage Against the Machine came out, we reminded some of our fans of them. We love rock and roll music but we were never afraid to blend our influences trying to sound like someone else.
Do you think the band’s sound and style has changed throughout the years?
I don’t think it’s changed. If you listen to our demos from 92, we had a DJ scratching and we were still using electronic beats.
What happened with the split with Atlantic Records?
It’s when everyone was losing his or her jobs. We did the next record and we had the number one video on TRL and we were number one the modern rock charts. We were in contract with Atlantic Records, but we understand labels were changing so we pleaded with them to let us go so our album wouldn’t get shelved—and that’s when our greatest hits was released. So a lot of decisions they made for us as a band kind of back fired and ruined the momentum for us. We had to keep going though.
How does the Awakening differ from the other albums?
Well it’s a concept record, so it was new for us. We just didn’t want to write another album of collection of songs. There’s a story line. Maybe, nowadays, instead of buying singles off iTunes, the kids would like to purchase a piece of art.
Are you excited for the upcoming tour?
Yes, really excited. New record means new tour. We just got back from overseas and we are going to be covering the states now.
It’s been a bumpy road for the Sublime reunion with young vocalist Rome Ramirez; after Bradley Nowell’s estate sued bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh in 2009, claiming rights to the Sublime moniker, the band retooled itself as “Sublime With Rome” and launched their “debut” album, Yours Truly, in 2011. Soon after, Gaugh quit the band, and Wilson opted to continue the Sublime prefix with Rome and the newly recruited Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Devo, The Vandals). The reconfigured group is set to release Sirens this July.
I recently managed a brief email Q & A with the Sublime With Rome bassist, who defended his right to the band name, explained Sublime’s continued legacy, shared details about the upcoming album, and had less than kind things to say about the modern incarnation of Vans Warped Tour.
After all these years, why do you think the original Sublime’s radio hits are more relevant than ever?
We didn’t make music to go along with everything that was on the radio. We made the music that we liked and wanted to play. When you do that you take off the expiration date.
Do you think your band and Brad’s messages helped propagate the marijuana decriminalization efforts of today?
I sure hope so.
Why continue under the Sublime moniker as the only original member?
As long as there are still fans out there that want to hear the music, why stop? Most of the old fans never got to see the songs live.
Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington had a similar controversy until they dropped the “with”, and I’ve seen them compared to your situation.
Not sure. Sublime with Rome takes old feel and new excitement and combines them together. It’s not the same band but we are able to take the feel and go further with it. We’re creating new music with Sublime with Rome.
Josh Freese is quite a snag. Can you tell us of how this musical partnership came about? He seems to be quite a busy fellow.
I’ve always been a huge Josh Freese fan. He’s played drums for some of my favorite bands and now to have him as a member of mine still blows my mind.
Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers is producing once again. He’s not widely known as being a producer; can you describe what the studio environment is like with him?
Pauls produced a couple of our albums. The studio doesn’t feel right without him. Plus, Butthole Surfers is one of our favorite bands, so how can you deny his greatness? He’s the best.
Can you tell us a bit about that awesome album artwork?
Drew Brophy actually painted it on a giant canvas and I think we’re all pretty excited with the way it came out. It has that old school feel to it and he took the vision we were leaning towards and made it better than any of us expected.
The record seems a bit more polished and more on the reggae-pop end of the spectrum than the punk-edged 2011 SWR debut record.
I actually think it’s the opposite. This album has a cohesiveness to it and gives fans a little of everything. It’s what we wanted to make and we’re really happy with it.
The Dirty Heads are a talented young band that are obviously part of your musical lineage. What was it like working with them?
They’ve been in our family for some time now. We’ve toured with them and work with them regularly. They’re super talented guys and the vocals on it just make the song that much better.
Looks like you will hardly be catching a break this summer.
We actually look forward to touring. Playing with Paul McCartney at Firefly? Stoked. It’s weirder to be home now than on the road.
It’s been twenty years, do you have any memories that stick of Sublime headlining the first Warped Tour in 1995?
It was definitely a lot crazier and more fun than Warped Tour today. It’s so tamed and teen angst now only means you didn’t get the latest iPhone or whatever.
SUBLIME WITH ROME – 2015 TOUR DATES
05/22 – Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay Beach
06/19 – Montebello, QC @ Amnesia Rockfest
06/20 – Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
06/26 – Alix, AB @ Tail Creek Mud & Music Festival
06/27 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
07/16 – Chula Vista, CA @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre
07/18 – Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion
07/19 – Scottsdale, AZ @ Talking Stick Resort Pool
07/21 – The Woodlands, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
07/23 – Maryland Heights, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
07/24 – Indianapolis, IN @ Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park
07/25 – Rochester Hills, MI @ Meadow Brook
07/26 – Toronto, ON @ TD Echo Beach
07/28 – Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
07/29 – Cincinnati, OH @ PNC Pavilion
07/31 – Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing
08/01 – Mt. Pocono, PA @ Sherman Theatre Summer Stage
08/02 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
08/04 – Canandaigua, NY @ Constellations Brands – Marvin Sands PAC
08/05 – New York, NY @ JBL Live at Pier 97
08/06 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Casino
08/07 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
08/08 – Baltimore, MD @ Pier Six Pavilion
08/10 – Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater
08/11 – Charlotte, NC @ Uptown Amphitheatre at the Music Factory
08/12 – Charleston, SC @ Family Circle Cup Stadium
08/14 – Tampa, FL @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
08/15 – Miami, FL @ Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park
08/16 – St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheatre
08/18 – Nashville, TN @ Riverfront Park
08/19 – Kansas City, MO @ Power & Light District
08/20 – Chicago, IL @ FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
08/22 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
08/23 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
08/25 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheatre
08/27 – Nampa, ID @ Idaho Center Amphitheatre
08/28 – Eugene, OR @ Cuthbert Amphitheatre
08/29 – Redmond, WA @ Marymoor Amphitheater
08/30 – Redmond, WA @ Marymoor Amphitheater
Not too long ago I interviewed Katherine Katz of grindcore outfit Agoraphobic Nosebleed, when she mentioned an upcoming documentary called Slave to the Grind – A Film About Grindcore. The film is going to tell the history of the grindcore genre and will be released on December 1st, 2017. Not long after, I conducted an email interview with Doug Brown, director of the film, who discussed how you could be a part of the project.
Tell us about your film: what made you decide to do a documentary on grindcore?
Making this film has been on my mind for quite some time. I started taking the idea seriously close to two years ago as I was finishing my last film, Never Enough. It was a full year of making contact with musicians, assembling a competent crew (who was willing to get roughed up in a pit with film equipment) and thinking critically about what I thought should be in a film on grind before we picked up camera. I’m a music history buff, and the origins/directions of music trends is fascinating to me. I know that metalheads and punks devour information on music they dig, and since there was nothing comprehensive on grind, I am taking a chance.
Will it be a straight forward documentary or done in a more experimental style like Montage of Heck?
We are still getting footage, so the style of the final cut is unknown. All I know is that it will be pretty intense.
Which bands are you going to cover? Are all of them confirmed or are you still searching for more?
We will be interviewing everyone we can, but this does not guarantee them a place in the film. There are too many important musicians in the genre, not to mention the importance of the underground/DIY aspect…which I would argue is as important as the big names. At the end of the day it will be about: fit, flow, history, and story-telling. Yes – most people will expect Napalm Death, Terorrizer, Brutal Truth, Discordance Axis… but this film will have many wide cards that some of the hardcore fans will be pleased to see.
And yes – we are still searching for more. In a band? Get in touch!
Are you willing to show case younger unknown bands?
Yes. Young bands are the lifeblood of the scene, and nothing is more DIY than playing a basement for a handful of friends. Grindcore is about the music, and nothing is more about the music than an unsigned band.
With all these grindcore bands playing big festivals, Napalm Death having their biggest year this year, and the hype that all these bands have been recently getting, do you feel grindcore is more popular now then it ever was?
If Grindcore is popular, it likely has to do with a few technological factors. Firstly, the internet has made it easier to reach an audience half way around the globe. The online presence of music can also present a scene that is non-existent. You’d be shocked how many bands with a huge following/digital presence still playing in front of the same number of people I saw them play in front of a decade ago. Grindcore is never going to massive, but it will always be strong.
I’ve also heard terms like ‘hipster grind’ thrown around – even describing bands like Insect Warfare and Grindlink. If that is Hip… then I guess I’m a hipster. But at the end of the day, this shit is all online. I don’t hear these conversations at shows/festivals. If all anyone understands about grindcore is what it ‘seems to be’ online, they need to get out to a show. Shows haven’t changed too much and that is the real community. Support your scene!
If you were to blend the White Stripes and the Black Keys, and then take that creation and mix it with Queens of the Stone Age you might then have something close to Royal Blood music. See how unique that is? Except I still haven’t gotten to the most incredible part. There are no standard guitars in the machine that is Royal Blood. Every sound you hear whether its live or on their record comes from Mike Kerr’s bass playing and vocals and Ben Thatcher on the drums.
Though the rise of Royal Blood has been somewhat of a well-deserved fast track, Mike and Ben have been entrenched in the rigorous world of music for years. Upon linking up again in 2013 along the south coast of England, they decided upon starting a new band that would consist of just the two of them. They immediately began almost accidentally, writing hard-hitting, straight –forward rock songs and would play any gig that came their way, including restaurants. They honed their craft and found their unique sound via Ben’s fiery yet rhythmic drumming meshed with Mike’s pedal-to-amp wizardry and melodic vocals over the top.
What would happen over the next year and a half is both remarkable and inspiring. Where to begin? Well, their self-titled debut record went to #1, they were nominated for the Mercury Prize, Dave Grohl stumbled across them on YouTube from his hotel room was mesmerized and invited them to open on their upcoming stadium tour, Lars Ulrich personally gave them a driving tour of San Francisco, Jimmy Page befriended them and presented them with their Brit award (Great Britain’s version of a Grammy) and Howard Stern raved about them on the air for months before having them on his June 9th show. Not too bad I’d say.
Somehow through all this they remain humble and laser-like focused on their craft, with the most important thing being to put on the best live performance possible each and every night. Their approach is nothing but genuine. Before a sold-out show in Charlotte, NC and days away from kicking off a world tour supporting Foo Fighters (and before Grohl broke his leg), I caught up with Ben to discuss the explosive world of Royal Blood.
This is certainly an exciting time for Royal Blood. The success of your record plus finishing up a run of club and festival shows before kicking off your tour with the Foo Fighters where you’ll be playing some of the biggest stadiums in the world.
Of course. It’s been exciting since day one for us, watching things grow. It’s really harvesting right now.
Do you prepare differently for stadium or festival shows as opposed to club shows?
We don’t do all the same things every time. Obviously there’s going to be different things happening, different scenarios, different venues and such. We do however go to each playing the same group of songs and putting on the best possible performance that we can do.
It’s unbelievable how two people and two instruments can deliver that type of sound to a sea of people like you do at places like T in the Park, Bonnaroo or anywhere for that matter. It’s sonically unprecedented.
Thank you. You know, we don’t really think too much about it anymore. It’s really all we’ve been doing the past two years. You basically get over it and just enjoy performing and writing new songs. We’re really just having a great time on the road.
When you and Mike joined forces for Royal Blood and started as a duo was there ever intent to add more players to the band and it didn’t work out? Or was it more of a conscious decision to remain just the two of you? What exactly was the process on settling on a duo where bass and drums would be your only instruments?
When we first got together we really just focused on playing music together. We had known each other for quite some time and had been friends. We never really considered anyone else would be in it. We kind of just went into together and began creating sounds that we felt were big enough to just play as a two piece. Mike had discovered these sounds and style with the bass that he really took to and it fit with what I was doing on the drums quite nicely.
At what point did that lightbulb go off and you’re thinking “this is powerful, this is our thing!”?
I think just from the get go. We were really enjoying it more than anything. We were just enjoying playing shows and making a racket just the two of us. It really clicked immediately and we were having such great time doing it.
I know you and Mike both play other instruments such as keyboards and guitar, is it challenging to hold back from putting them in a recording? Do you ever hear other parts in your head when writing or recording and think that would sound great layered in there?
Yeah I think there’s always that. But we’ve always been pretty invested in keeping it just a two piece and focusing on the song writing. A good song can come from just a solid vocal or an acoustic or anything. We also have the benefit of being just the two of us. We can be creative, play weird things expressing ourselves and just be ourselves. We find the restriction of just the two things is also a major pro and a plus for us.
Can Royal Blood unplug and play your songs acoustic?
Yes we can do that but they don’t sound like Royal Blood. They sound more like Jack Johnson and that’s really not our style.
Did seeing the success of other duos such as The White Stripes or The Black Keys influence you at all?
Not really. Obviously they are all two pieces. We listen to a lot of music. We love Led Zeppelin, we love Queens of the Stone Age, we love Foo Fighters but we also love a lot of different music. Mike really loves Steely Dan, that’s his favorite. So they can be a four or two piece and we can really dig them and draw inspiration.
“Little Monster” is the new single which is great. There’s a drum fill towards the end takes that song to whole new level. Was that intentional?
The thought with things like that is “why not?” It’s never really thought out like “should there be drum solo in this part?” It’s more “why shouldn’t there be a drum solo.” So that’s where that came from on “Little Monster.” We were just messing around. I thought it would be cool and would break up the song a little bit. That’s why that went in there. Plus it’s just fun to play. It’s a nice little break in that section.
You guys just had a great appearance on the Howard Stern show; he’s been talking about your music for months. What was the experience of being on that legendary show like for you?
We didn’t really know what to expect. I think when you go into an interview with Howard Stern you don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s done his research, he knows about you as we found out. It was just a wonderful experience. It was great to be on that show and certainly great to have him behind us as a band.
You know what’s funny? Howard was asking us about a particular testicle related injury that caused someone in our circle to go to the emergency room recently. Then last night, someone else from our crew ended up in the emergency room. Totally non-related and everyone is fine. It was actually more humorous than dangerous this time.
There’s been a ton of positive feedback from it via his audience and in response to your live performance of “Figure it Out.”
Yes! We’ve seen a rise in album sales and iTunes activity since and it’s been pretty mind blowing once again for us. It’s very exciting.
You spoke a lot about meeting Jimmy Page and your time spent with him sharing stories. What was the best Led Zeppelin story he shared?
A whole life’s worth or stories. I obviously love ones about John Bonham and things about how they recorded in the studio. Jimmy is really the man behind all those recordings. He’s going back in and re-mastering some of them so it’s very interesting to hear about the process of all of that.
Did he give you any music career or band advice?
Not really. He’s more of just a fan and a friend now. He’s really behind us with what we do and kind of taken us under his wing in that way.
So artists like Jimmy Page, Dave Grohl, The Artic Monkey’s and members of Metallica have all come across your music, were blown away and made a point to meet you, come see you live or contact you. Did you ever imagine two years ago when forming Royal Blood, this would happen?
We had no expectations whatsoever when we first started. We just thought we would make the money to pay back for the first songs we recorded. To be here is amazing. We’re still on a rollercoaster that’s taking us through this crazy time and we’re just having the best time of our lives.
You’ve also mentioned that Foo Fighters have always been a band that you’ve dreamed about touring with. What are you looking forward to the most?
Well we’ve never played stadiums before so that has to be the first thing. The second thing is learning how to play in a stadium. We’re going to be touring with the best stadium rock band who’s going to show us how it’s done. So I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to playing drums with my two heroes alongside me. There are so many things to look forward to. Just to even be on the road with them, it’s going to be amazing.
Have the two bands met in person yet?
We haven’t met yet! This week will be the first time.
Do you foresee any collaboration while on tour with them? Maybe play song together live?
That would be great! Of course we’d have to meet them first before anything like that can be mentioned.
To put it in perspective, you guys are from England and it’s been an ultimate dream of yours to play with the Foo Fighters. Now in a few short days, you are playing Wembley Stadium, sharing the stage with Foo Fighters to kick off a tour together. How about that?
It’s something you can’t even explain. We can barely think of it, it’s pretty overwhelming for us. But it’s going to happen soon! We’re incredibly excited and know how privileged our position is. We’re very much looking forward to it and just can’t wait.
Though he requires no introduction, Morrissey is one of the rock realm’s most influential figures of the past three decades, whether it be through his timeless four record run as The Smiths’ frontman, sprawling ten record solo career, or his continued involvement in political and social activism, vanguarded by his passionately strong belief that “meat is murder” and championing of the vegan lifestyle.
Here is our conversation with the legendary former Smiths frontman himself, one of our biggest interviews to date and kicking off ‘Morrissey Week’ on Alternative Nation. Morrissey, about to embark on aU.S. tour, touches on the various facets of his solo career and activism, updates his stance on Hillary Clinton and her 2016 bid for presidency, and recounts a humorous story in which Brandon Flowers from The Killers stalked him at a hotel years back.
You became a vegetarian at age 11. You’ve really hit a lot of awareness for animal rights and been perhaps the most vocal advocate ever for vegetarian/veganism. At age 11, when you were just a kid, did you have this same level of spirit on the issue? Would you be unhappy to see your school serve meat, or family members serving it?
I didn’t ever stay for school meals, so I was spared that poisoning. I very slowly edged away from family get-together’s because I just couldn’t stand to see bits of flesh on plates. It was like looking at small children being eaten. My mother and sister were also vegetarian, so I didn’t feel isolated, but there wasn’t any awareness in the 1970’s and you would find yourself avoiding any social gathering simply because you couldn’t bear the smell of dead pig.
My nephews are 32 and 24 and they have never tasted animal flesh or fish in their entire lives. People who feed their children bits of animal carcass are insane, and the issue of protein is a brainwashing myth. Chickens are 90% growth hormones, and this is what you are force feeding your children – not chicken, just growth hormones. How stylishly tasty! (sarcasm)
15 years ago, a lot of the marijuana activists made a goal list by the year 2020. That list, for the most part, has come to fruition, and it came from music and popular culture changing global perception. So the year is 2035: what achievements will the animal rights movement have over today?
I believe people will eventually understand that eating animals is as dangerous as inhaling tobacco. Many people in hospitals are suffering from disease related to eating animals, yet no one is suffering from disease relating to vegetarianism. I say vegetarian whilst also meaning vegan, but I use the word vegetarian because I see it as step one, whereas vegan is step two for most people. It is often too shocking to ask a carnivore to become vegan, but they will at least discuss the possibility of vegetarianism. I’ve been in Dallas for the last week and every single television commercial is either steak or chicken. It’s as if they want to wipe out the entire American population with bowel disease or cancer. And they are!
There’s been controversy on you bringing activism very close to concerts to the point they’ve been cancelled for this very reason. Would you defend this saying it’s just part of the brand and the message is just as important as the music?
I firstly find that a cancelled Morrissey concert gains more attention than any concert cancelled by anyone else, and it even gains more attention than it would if the concert were actually played! I often refuse offers because the venue will not go vegetarian, but the offers are refused before the date is announced, yet people get in a terrible stir about it. I think people enjoy the sense of continual drama. Following Morrissey is not like following Rush. The Morrissey hot-lines are always on fire with some daily controversy or other. It certainly isn’t boring. I was offered an arena date in China, but they refused to go cruelty-free for the night, so I said… goodbye, then. The same with Iceland. They just can’t get enough bloodshed. When I played in Goteborg, Sweden, they actually closed down the McDonalds attached to the venue, which was incredible! I thought, well, if this were achieved by any other artist it would be world news… but because it’s me, well … silence.
You’ve talked about American politics quite a bit before, but your music focuses on politics in the UK and that region. Do any politically-charged songs made in America really connect with you and bring your spirit into this country?
Of course there has been a great deal of rousing political songs about the American condition … most famously Buffy Sainte-Marie singing “Moratorium”, Bob Dylan’s “The Time’s they Are A-Changin'”, Edwin Starr singing “War”, Joni Mitchell singing “here in good ol’ God Save America / the home of the brave and the free / we are all hopelessly oppressed cowards “… bits of Melanie Safka I thought were very cutting, Phil Ochs, Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit … and of course I’m not inspired by rap but I can see how ‘Fear Of a Black Planet’ or ‘Mamma, Don’t You Think They Know?’ jumps ahead with everything Nina Simone was doing with ‘To Be Young, Gifted And Black’.
I think rap has scared the American white establishment to death, mainly because it’s true. James Brown once sang “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud”. No pop artist would ever be allowed to say that today … they’d be instantly dropped from the label. If Billie Holiday approached Capitol Records in 2015 they wouldn’t entertain her for a second. Also, yes, I feel that I bring my spirit to America, and I feel very much a part of it and I’ve played in most cities big or small. America has been so important to my musical life, and the audiences have always been incredible. I’ve always felt privileged even though I know I’ve been locked out of mainstream considerations. That’s life! Me and Billie Holiday, good company, at least.
You once were very critical of Hillary Clinton running for president and also said “God Bless Barack Obama”. Another American election cycle is happening, Obama is retiring, Hillary is running for president and no matter what a new president is getting in. Do you have any feelings on the election, Hillary over the years and have your feelings on Obama remained the same?
I criticized Hillary because she ridiculed Obama in the original election fight, and I thought that was quite low of her. I now think she is a definite for the Presidency, and really, she has no competition. When you look at other women in or around the American political circuit … Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coutler, Sarah Palin … they are all horrific spikes in the forehead, yet Hillary now seems calm and measured. But a female president won’t necessarily change anything because, as with Margaret Thatcher, if it goes wrong, the people would never again allow a woman to take the lead. Thatcher actually obliterated any hope for women in British politics, as recent history has shown, and of course, she was actually fired from her own position by her own party! If her own party couldn’t stand her then you can imagine how the British people felt about her!
People get elected almost by default because those who vote for all of the other parties are always larger in number than those who vote for whoever finally gets elected, so it’s a mistake to assume that anyone who becomes the Prime Minister or the President does so because the people like them. It’s all an optical illusion. There’s no indication that the people of Russia actually like Putin, but he knows how to juggle his way into the hot seat.
Obama has mystified me because he doesn’t appear to support black people when they need it most… Ferguson being an obvious example. If Michael Brown had instead been one of Obama’s daughters, I don’t think Obama would be insisting that the nation support the so-called security forces! How can they be called security forces if they make the people feel insecure? Obama seems to be white inside. There is an obvious racial division in America and it’s exploding and Obama doesn’t ever support the innocent black people who are murdered by white police officers who are never held accountable. You would expect him to be more understanding of what it means to be black. But so far, he hasn’t been. There’s no point in continually saying that we must support the police when it is obvious to the entire world that the police in America are out of control.
“How Soon is Now”, “Light that Never Goes Out” and “Suedehead” are very personal songs. How do you compare that with “Meat is Murder” or “Panic” where they clearly have a broader message?
“Suedehead”? Are you sure? Well, I think everything I sing has a broad message, but either it taps you on the shoulder or it doesn’t. Very few bands or artists have any message of any kind. I feel that I have a great deal to say … which scared Harvest Records to death.
With your motif of much loved cities throughout your songwriting career, like Los Angeles, Rome and now Istanbul, is there a new city on this lonely planet that you might just fall in love with? A new place to rouse a muse?
I’m pulled towards Poland, but I don’t know enough to sing about it as yet. I’m also always excited to be in South America, even though the last visit to Peru gave me food poisoning and I officially died for nine minutes. That was fun.
2015 marks 20 years since the recording and release of Southpaw Grammar, and the subsequent tour opening with David Bowie during his Outside tour, as well as the Boxers tour earlier in 1995. You’ve expressed before how much growing older has pleased you, but do you have anything memorable to recall during this time of your life and career at this point?
It was a difficult time … you won’t be surprised to hear … because I loved Southpaw Grammar, but there was no interest from the labels that released it: Reprise in U.S and RCA in London. I think it’s a criminally underrated album and the band were in full flourish. But when the album was released, I was already out of contract and I had no idea where my next 45 would come from. I thought the band were so fantastic that the world would open up and finally admit that the Morrissey band were a formidable force… but, no! Silence across the plains! An executive from Reprise even admitted to me that the label deliberately did not work the album. What can you do? Cry, perhaps.
Since the release of your best-selling and instant classic Autobiography, you sometimes bring up a novel that you have been working on. Is there anything you would care to reveal about the novel’s further development?
The book is with the publishers who are deciding on a date to publish. It could be tomorrow, it could be 2071. It’s all in the hands of the publishing gods.
With your departure from Harvest Records, you’ve released “Kiss Me a Lot” as a single on Atom Factory. How has Atom Factory been treating you? Was this a one off deal or do you have any plans to sign a longer contract with them?
I haven’t signed with Atom Factory. They have been good friends and were very supportive with the iTunes release of “Kiss Me a Lot’, but where it goes from here I have no idea.
Having completed your European and Australian tourdates for this year, how did everything pan out? Is the addition of Mando Lopez to the band working out with everything you look to accomplish?
Yes, Mando is excellent and very much a part of the family. The band are incredibly strong, and I’ve been singing well, so we have no problems other than the constant brick wall of the music industry. Australia was fantastic. The appreciation of the audiences was breath-taking… even now, after all these years…
On a sillier note… Brandon Flowers from The Killers recently mused over the fact that he found out you were a fan of his solo record after “stalking” you at a hotel a few years back.
The Killers covered one of my songs, “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself”, and I thought it was so magnificent and so carefully done, so I’ll be forever thankful to them for that, and Brandon always says good things about me in the press, which is a relief! Yes, I think he was stalking me at a hotel a few years back, but I could see him hiding and I knew what he was doing… which was quite funny. Well, to me, anyway.
Check AlternativeNation.net tomorrow for our next #MorrisseyWeek article! Thanks to Mike Mazzarone & Doug McCausland for booking this interview. You can follow AlternativeNation.net on Twitter and like us on Facebook
On May 23 2015, long time grind legends, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, played their first live show ever as part of Maryland Deathfest’s Saturday line up. The venue was packed and the crowd went insane as the band’s debut live show exceeded fans’ already high expectations by a mile. Sometime after the show, I was able to have an email correspondence with vocalist Katherine Katz, who joined the group for 2009’s Agorapocalypse. She talked about an upcoming documentary film that will use footage from this set, as well as other future plans for her and her bandmates.
What made you guys decide to play your first official show after never playing live? Do you have any more planned or will this be a once in a lifetime thing?
We debated about playing live for years and years. We wanted to be confident that the music would translate well live; after much planning and work, we felt ready to perform. The songs in the set are our favorites from a variety of albums and splits and ones that we thought ANB fans would especially want to hear live, like “Built to Grind” and “Agorapocalypse Now.” We will be playing more shows, and will make an announcement once our plans are definite.
I saw that there were people filming your set. Is there a planned DVD or Blu Ray for this?
We are considering a DVD release of the show, but our set was filmed for Doug Brown’s documentary Slave To The Grind – A Film About Grindcore, which comes out Dec. 1, 2017. You can find more information about the film here.
I heard a rumor that there are plans for every band member to record a solo album. If so, what sound will you be going for on your solo?
My solo album, Arc, is finished. It has a stoner rock/doom feel to it, and the content is very personal. I began writing lyrics for it when I was caring for my mother who was dying of cancer and suffering from schizophrenia. The entire album characterizes my relationship with her and her passing. We plan to write a regular full-length, and subsequently, work on the other solo albums.
Any plans for your doom metal project, Salome, to come back?
I can’t imagine that Salome will ever reform. I love the music we created, but we’ve all moved on—Aaron Deal plays for Darkest Hour and Rob Moore plays for Three Faces of Eve.
How did the transition from doom to grind feel at first?
The transition from doom to grind wasn’t jarring, however, singing grind is more difficult for me—there is pressure to do a lot with very little space, and the rhythm changes are more complex. It requires greater awareness, focus, and energy, and as a result, singing for Agoraphobic Nosebleed has molded me into a better vocalist. My musical ear has definitely improved, and I’d like to think that my voice has too.
If you were to make a Christmas special out of the band’s Christmas releases, who would star and direct?
The cast of The Brood, David Cronenberg directing. Perfection: Samantha Eggar as Mrs. Claus, Oliver Reed as Santa, and the psychoplasmic offspring as elves.
“The first song my dad wrote was Light My Fire,” said Waylon Krieger, son of guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors. “That’s like winning the lottery a million times over on your first try.”
Waylon wasn’t even alive during The Doors’ heyday, born just a bit over two years after Jim Morrison’s death at the age of 27 in 1971. “He almost looked like a veteran coming out of Vietnam,” Waylon mused. “Just put a green jacket on him. It was scary.”
Regardless, Waylon’s life seems to have been almost entirely in the shadow of the band’s storied legacy, a fact that has come full circle over the past couple years by touring with his father, performing vocals on the current Robby Krieger Band and Jam Kitchen tour dates.
I met Waylon at the Robby Krieger band’s Tarrytown gig in April 2015, when he relinquished the microphone to my father, Joe McCausland, to fulfill his lifelong dream of singing the classic “Roadhouse Blues” live with a member of The Doors. When I asked him about it afterwards, Waylon would only tell me, “I’ve discovered that when I make other people feel better, it makes me feel better about myself.”
Waylon drew a breath. “I consider myself an artist and I definitely haven’t been an angel my entire life. I’ve tried lots of different things, and have done stuff I’m not proud of.”
Waylon’s life as a child was pretty straightforward, staying in the public educational system. Waylon claims his hands were “too small” to play guitar, also noting that his father wasn’t much of a teacher in that regard. “My dad never pushed music on me,” Waylon assured me.
Waylon first showed some interest in a drastically different career trajectory from his father in grade school: “I was interested in acting as a kid and took a two or three week class, but I couldn’t understand what it meant. I ended up hating it because I was a really shy kid growing up. There were all these outgoing kids doing other stuff and it made me feel stupid, like I didn’t belong.”
That is until he was around eleven years old or so, when his classmates suddenly began to treat him much differently, with Waylon being automatically lumped into the “popular” category.
Waylon really began noticing that his father’s career was much different from most others when he was a bit younger, but it didn’t really click until then, the fact being sealed by a conversation Waylon still remembers to this day. “Don’t you get it, man?” Robby asked of his son when the latter asked why his classmates began to treat him differently. “You got The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix… and The Doors!”
“What’s it like having a legend for a dad?” one classmate would later ask of him.
From there, school seemed to be a breeze. A couple of events really seemed to lay the groundwork for the two passions that would continue into Waylon’s adulthood: seeing Back to the Future, with its famous Chuck Berry scene, inspired Waylon to really pick up the guitar for the first time (emulating the greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, & Hendrix), and a bizarre experience with Val Kilmer arguably reignited the young adult’s interest in acting circa 1990.
It was during the production of Oliver Stone’s The Doors that Waylon came the closest to ever meeting Jim Morrison in the flesh. “[Val] was dressed up in leather pants and his hair was grown out. I don’t know if he was stoned or not for real,” Waylon reminisced. “I’ve never met Jim, I only know what I’ve seen from documentaries, but he’s just standing on the balcony of my dad’s house and the three of us are just staring at the view just chatting about life, and I’m just like, ‘it’s just so fucking strange!'”
Waylon was hit by the full brunt of method acting. “My dad called me one time and told me to come down to the Fillmore West. I watched them shoot for a few hours, and it was a wrap. Afterwards when I was talking to the producer, Val changed into his street clothes, and he was like, ‘Oh hey man, Waylon, what’s up bro?’ Completely different guy! He just snapped out of it right there. He just turned [Jim’s persona] off like a lightswitch. I’ll never forget that. It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Out of nowhere, he’s this dude who I have no idea what he’s like.”
Waylon dabbled in extras acting around that time period, his portfolio including the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers lineup and the drama Fame L.A.; however, his priority at the time was playing guitar, both with his father and his own rock and roll band, Bloodline.
Featuring Waylon on guitar, Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis) on drums, Berry Oakley, Jr. (son of the same Berry Oakley of The Allman Brothers), and a very young “Smokin” Joe Bonamassa on lead guitar, the appropriately named Bloodline scored a hit single with “Stone Cold Hearted”, though the band split soon after the release of their debut album and a tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd. In reality, it may have been the grunge revolution that seared some doubt into Waylon’s heart, whose band had been decidedly classic rock oriented.
“That was when Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were coming out. I knew something was changing.” Like many other Generation X’ers, Waylon didn’t connect with the excessive 80’s pop culture and looked to reshaping his generation’s pop culture interests. “I was in my late teens/early twenties. I got fed up with the hair band shit. I love Guns N’ Roses, but I knew something was changing in music. I played with my dad’s band in Montreal, and I remember we had a night off and me and a buddy went out to a nightclub with these girls we met. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ came on and everyone started jumping around and freaking out. I was so amazed by that. ‘Are they really playing Nirvana at a club?’ I wanted to be a part of that as much as I could.”
After Bloodline’s abrupt end, Berry and Waylon formed a new band called the Oakley-Krieger Band, playing a gig every Wednesday night for a month or two. OKB was eventually offered a record deal; however, Waylon’s heart wasn’t entirely into the new project, which wasn’t nearly as grungy as he desired. After recording eight or nine songs, the band decided to call it a day, and they drifted apart, not speaking for years.
Waylon drifted from one workplace to another after the demise of OKB, dabbling in a bit of everything: refrigeration, air conditioning, wiring, and even aquarium work. Despite Waylon’s father’s wealth, the former Doors guitarist is very frugal and is mostly “hands off” with his son’s career path; Waylon is by no means a trust fund baby. “I work my ass off,” Waylon joked, though it’s a trait of his father’s that he’s actually appreciative of. “He’s been putting up with my ass for the last few decades.”
Robby eventually did offer his son a chance to tour with him and Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek. However, that offer slipped out of Waylon’s grasp, and the late, great Ray (as John Densmore called him last year) “broke on through to the other side” in 2013. “I was supposed to audition for the part of singer when Ray was still alive,” Waylon told me with a hint of regret. “For whatever reason, on the day of the rehearsal, I couldn’t make it. That was the last straw for my dad. ”
“If you’re gonna be a flake, so be it,” said Robby to his son. That was when Ray and Robby hired Dave Brock from the renowned Doors tribute, Wild Child.
Thankfully, at just the right junction point in his life, Waylon received a surprise call from a friend, Nick, that would send his life in a completely different direction. “My buddy Nick called and asked me to be in a movie he wrote based on a 30 minute short he had written called American Addict.” Waylon was initially apprehensive of the project due to his previous experiences in acting classes as a child. “Dude,” Waylon said. “I’ve never acted before in my life.”
“Just be yourself,” Nick replied.
One thing led to another, the project morphed, and after shaky rehearsal sessions and changes to the creative team, Waylon eventually found himself on the set of what would be called Chowdaheads with director Douglas Quill and Orson Chaplin, grandson of Charlie.
“I figured I could help fund the rest of the production… let’s try something different.” Though rattled by the stressful pre-production and his still uncertain acting skills, it was too late for Waylon to turn around; he had already put enough time and money into the project when they started shooting in early 2013.
“He’s a real working actor,” Waylon said of his co-star, Chaplin. “I was nervous. He was a pro.” Still, Waylon found his groove. “The first time we [rehearsed], it felt really weird. The second time was way better. By the third or fourth time, it felt so natural. Orson loved [my intensity].”
Sadly, the project was ultimately halted. “What we got out of it was a lot of A and B roll footage. We were only able to make a really cool trailer. That’s all I’ve gotten back so far.” Despite this obstacle, the whole ordeal was a learning experience for Krieger, whose ambitions in life were reoriented.
However, despite his connections within the movie industry, Waylon feels inclined to find success based on his own merit. “I’m buddies with actors like Patrick Warburton. We hang out at parties, and I don’t want to be asking, ‘Hey, can you fit me into a film?'” This approach to the acting extends to his father, who tried to help his son line up at least one acting gig while the former was slated to score the soundtrack for an undisclosed feature film.
“At least with the acting, I can say, ‘Hey, I did that, and my dad didn’t do much of that.’ Another reason why the acting thing would be cool if it ends up really going somewhere. I got a couple of good calls lined up!”
“Nothing is just gonna fall into your lap,” Waylon assured me, “and you gotta be proactive.” Krieger put aside any and all distractions and focused on becoming more goal-oriented to see how far he’d make it. “I feel like nowadays I’m doing positive things.” Besides just recently trying to bury the hatchet with Berry from Bloodline (now a father himself with four kids), Waylon reconnected with his own father, who was happy to invite him on tour to provide vocals for the current incarnation of the Robby Krieger band featuring Phil Chen on bass.
“Even though I’ve been hearing this music my whole life, I had three weeks to get ready before we headed out on tour,” Waylon told me with some anguish. He had around 25 songs he had to memorize in short notice. The pressure was high: the son not only lives under the umbrella of his father’s legacy; he now feels pressured to hoist it for the both of them.
“I’m a much better guitar player than I am a singer, though I’d much rather just get up and sing. Let my dad do his thing so we don’t get compared to each other.” Still, Waylon enjoys picking up his guitar alongside his father during downtime and jamming together.
“I can’t imagine how I’m being judged for the whole singing with my dad thing,” Waylon said with a sigh when he was telling me about a negative review of a recent Long Island concert. “I don’t even think about it anymore.” Waylon took a breath, sounding much more confident speaking the following words. “I’m just out there doing what I do, the way I know how to do it. I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’m not channeling Jim.”
Despite the pressure and the occasional critic, Waylon finds himself in a great place, reconnecting with his father and some old family friends. “I’m having a good time. As long as I have a good time, everyone else is, too. Phil Chen… I’ve known him since I was a year old. It makes you feel good to hear praise from guys like him. They know when somebody’s on or not. My dad must enjoy what I’m doing, because he invited me out to his Jam Kitchen dates as well. If I’m able to do this for the next couple of years with my dad… we’re getting to hang out and travel together, laugh together. I feel very blessed and happy with where I am in life right now.”
Still, Waylon sees the Robby Krieger tour as an opportunity to raise awareness of his public figure and acting aspirations. “I’m not getting any younger… I could use this as a stepping stone.” He can even envision himself combining his acting and musical interests in a movie that features him as a guitar player. Still, Waylon will be playing it by ear; in the meantime, the bond between father and son trumps all anxieties.
Waylon told me of a time Robby gifted him with a copy of his black Les Paul, numbered 001 in a limited print of 150 and the bittersweet debate that followed when his father requested him to return it three days later. “I’ll give you another one… 003 or 007… you’ll be like James Bond.”
Waylon was befuddled by the request. “What the hell, why do you care, you have the original anyway!”
Robby’s logic was a bit melancholic: “You’ll own every one of my guitars one day when I’m dead, so why do YOU care?”
“Hey, don’t get all morbid,” Waylon replied. “What about this: you let me keep it, and you can enjoy watching me play it while you’re alive.”
Thankfully, Robby will enjoy watching his son advance his acting career; the last I heard from him, Waylon was overcome with joy over landing his first big acting gig as “Engineer Ed” in the upcoming Ruta Madre. “Whatever happens, happens. I just want to end up in a positive area. I just want my dad to see me do well.”
The one thing Waylon is 100% sure of is that his father will never stop playing golf.
In Part 3 of Alternative Nation’s interview with Meat Puppets drummer Shandon Sahm, Shandon remembers touring with Stone Temple Pilots, discusses the new documentary Sir Doug & The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove (which features his father), and his influences. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 as well!
What do you remember about when the Meat Puppets opened for Stone Temple Pilots during their reunion?
That was wild. It was my first time back with the guys in almost 9 years, and it felt like getting back on your bike. Curt was funny, he told me, “You most likely won’t see Scott Weiland” but “the other guys hang out, you’ll see them.” And he was right! They were all sweet, really cool dudes. Eric is a bad ass – it was great watching him play. They even invited me to play a tune but I didn’t know what they wanted to play, so I just chilled. But the first show back was Mobile, Alabama, with thousands of people. I explain a lot of this in your great book, ‘Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets’ [thanks Shandon!], but the DeLeo bros came up and said, “Man, you sound great with the guys.” It’s really amazing and I thanked them for the kind words, but those dudes wouldn’t say that if they didn’t mean it. They are the real deal. I thank Curt to this day for giving me another shot. Like I said, it’s better the second time around, and playing with Cris is a gas. He’s one of my fav bass players for sure. The guy rips it up, like Curt says, “It’s a good fit,” and I agree. Now with Elmo we cant be stopped – full throttle all the way. Nothing can stop us – it’s a well-oiled machine now. Everyone’s in tune with each other and like I said, I love those guys like family. Thanks Curt for believing in me, and I’m still very proud to this day to be the drummer and backing up the Kirkwoods. They know I have their back and won’t let them down.
You have also recorded a few solo albums over the years, right?
Yes, I did two. ‘Good Thoughts Are Better Than Laxatives, which I got the title from a health book called ‘Young Again’ – I thought it had a great ring to it. And the other was ‘Knock Yourself Out,’ and most of those are experimental really. I still don’t know how to write a proper bridge, so most of them are verse/chorus/verse type songs. But it was a great learning experience and taught me a lot. I played most of the instruments here and there, did my own artwork just like the Kirkwood bros did – a lot of it I threw together and I ended up liking the results. They were fun records to make. Curt told me one time, “You have some cool ideas, you should record them.” So that’s what I did. It gave me the push to go for it.
Your dad was Doug Sahm, who played with Sir Douglas Quintet, among other rock bands, and is the subject of a new documentary, ‘Sir Doug & The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove.’ What can people expect from the documentary?
Expect a ride thru Doug Sahm history. It starts with my dad’s brother, Vic Sahm – who’s 81 and still healthy and strong – telling the great story of a prodigy who was great at steel guitar, and would practice on his sound every night after coming home from the clubs in San Antonio. The world revolved around a 7 year old whose parents knew he was special at music, and would bring home the bread. Vic does a really great job at telling the story about him and dad and their parents living in a real small house in San Antonio – he would hear T-Bone Walker and other great blues players by just hanging outside the club, and goes thru “She’s About A Mover” and “Mendocino,” the pot bust in 1966 at the Corpus Christi Airport. If it wasn’t for that, I would have been born in San Antonio too, like my sister and bro. But once that happened, we went to California – just in time for dad to be in San Fran at Summer of Love and be friends with the Dead and play the Fillmore. We went ’cause the probation people were way cooler in Cali than in Texas at the time. And it goes into his Europe career – he had a huge hit in Sweden with a song called “Meet Me in Stockholm.” My favorite part of the film is when they ask Bob Dylan who some of his fav bands are at the moment in 1966, and he says, “Sir Douglas Quintet are probably the best,” and it talks about how they were the first non-English group to have a hit while acting British. They had 2 Mexican guys in the band and it worked for a while, until on Shindig they told the audience they are from Texas! Can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-ray and DVD next year.
Which Doug recordings would you recommend to those who may be just discovering his music?
For starters, I would go to 1968’s ‘Honkey Blues’ album. Just terrific acid drenched blues songs, like “Are In-laws Really Outlaws” or “Dig My Vibrations” or the longest song title ever was “You Never Get Too Big and You Sure Don’t Get Too Heavy, That You Don’t Have To Stop and Pay Some Dues Sometime.” Anything though from the 50’s up till 1981 border wave. The 70’s had a great bunch of records too, like ‘Texas Rock for Country Rollers,’ which had the song “Give Back the Key to my Heart,” which Dwight Yoakum did and Uncle Tupelo. And the other was ‘Groover’s Paradise,’ which had Credence Clearwater’s Doug Cosmo Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass – they both produced it too. And the Texas Tornados’ self titled first record with “Que Paso” and “Adios Mexico” is great too. The 1975 Austin City Limits performance is fantastic, with dad playing fiddle on “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
Who are some of your top drumming influences?
Too many too mention but I’ll try…Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, John Bohnam, Cedric Sharpley from Gary Numan, Roger Taylor from Duran Duran, Alan Myers from Devo, Peter Criss from 1973 to 1978 era, the drummer for the Cars [Dave Robinson] is amazing, Doug Clifford from CCR, Bun E Carlos from Cheap Trick. George Rains who played with my dad and today plays with Jimmie Vaughan is killer, Ernie Durawa from the Texas Tornados, Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine, Simon Kirke from Bad Company, Bernard Purdie, and Anton Fig – the drummer from ‘David Letterman’ who played on Ace Frehley’s ’78 solo rec. Man, that’s about it. I’m sure I have missed a bunch, but you get what I mean. Really, anybody who “swings,” and I like a good pocket. Oh, and last but for sure not least is Derrick Bostrom, who’s a total bad ass – as the Meat Puppets records progressed, so did he. His most badass drum track to me would have to be “Popskull,” though “Sam” is pretty killer, too. Having learned the old songs, I have a real fondness for his playing. The “Scum” snare drum roll is great, too. His playing on “Up on the Sun” is totally wicked – I truly love it. Derrick was/is the shit man! Thanks Greg for inviting me to do this interview, I had a blast. Meat Puppets rule, and it’s awesome being in the drummer’s seat! Come out and see us on tour in a town near you…
For more Meat Puppets (and for a listing of tour dates), click your clicker here.
You likely heard their hit-single “Who Let the Dogs Out?” back in 2000, but the Baha Men are back to release their twelfth album this year. The dance reggae fusion group’s most recent single, “Night & Day” came out last summer and will be included on the upcoming LP, Ride the Day. We spoke to band member Dyson Knight as he discussed the new album, Sony Records, and Baha Men’s future. You can view the interview below.
Baha Men is releasing their first album since 2004’s Holla! Can you discuss the events that lead up to the upcoming album and what the group has been doing in the meantime?
Dyson Knight: We were in the middle of a performance at a musical conference in the Bahamas. And after we did two numbers, the CEO of Sony Latin America stepped in and stopped the show to announce that he wanted to sign us there and then. As for what the Baha Men has been doing since the last record, the guys have mainly been on vacation and concentrating on family or DIY projects. The band mainly needed a break because of so many ups and downs with management.
What can fans expect musically on this record?
Dyson: As I previously mentioned, we initially signed to Sony Latin America, who are very involved in the high percussive nature of junkaroo music. I think this album has the most amount of that style than any other previous Baha Men album. It’s really amazing how far ahead Baha Men was back in the day because when you look at the current top entertainers, people like Pitbull use a lot of tribal sounds and percussion, which has always been the heart of the Baha Men. People can expect this album to carry the same high energy as previous albums and it sounds very relevant.
Can you discuss the writing and recording process of the upcoming Ride the Day album?
Dyson: Originally, it was supposed to be just an EP. We recorded 4-5 songs and the A&R went crazy with what they heard. So, the EP turned into an LP and there was a whole new energy. Sony scrapped the Latin America contract and resigned us for a global Sony Records deal. That’s how strongly they felt about the album. Producer Troyton Rami is with us working on the album and the excitement just keeps building.
Is there a specific lyrical message you were hoping to convey with this single and the upcoming album?
Dyson: Yeah, that was an important part of the album too. The thing about Baha Men and junkaroo is it is all about celebration. The music is used to celebrate life and freedom and appreciating limitless possibilities. Lyrically, you’re not going to hear about jewelry, fancy clothes, or being a blinged out person. The message we have is about the natural and obtainable beauty in life. And we think this is a very good time to put out this sort of message with all the current extreme events going on. The media is glorifying all these negative things and there isn’t any positive music like “Who Let The Dogs Out?” being recorded. We want people to be happy again. It’s not all about worrying about financial issues or things they can’t change. We just want to make people smile again.
What upcoming plans do you have for Baha Men?
Dyson: The focus right now is getting the word out on the band and upcoming album. You can have the best song in the world and no one can hear it. I know we have plans to tour with some big names, but nothing is confirmed yet. We’re looking at OneRepublic, Rihanna, or Shakira.
Do you see more albums in the future of the band?
Dyson: Well, we’re still alive. Some of the members are pretty old though [laughs]. There is going to be a follow-up to this album and in fact we’re already recording for the next album. The band should be around for about another ten years.
In Part 2 of Alternative Nation’s interview with Meat Puppets drummer Shandon Sahm, Shandon discusses performing at the Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck premiere, how he bonded with Krist Novoselic over their love of KISS, and opening for Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players. Check out Part 1 here.
How was it playing Sundance at the premiere of the Kurt Cobain doc, ‘Montage of Heck’? Who were some celebs you got to meet and hang out with at the premiere?
That was freaking cool, too. We met Jack Black, who was a huge Meat Puppets fan, and saw Novoselic again – we always talk about Kiss when I see him. Gene Simmons was a huge influence on him, and you can tell by his sound – he uses a 70’s Gibson Punisher or Grabber. Meeting Frances was cool, too. She was very sweet and I thanked her for having us. She was so down to earth. Park City, Utah is very beautiful. Great weather and the place we stayed at was “styling” to say the least. Lots of fun. I guess the only thing was it could have been more of a venue instead of sticking us in a corner and a little more PA. But in the end a good time was had by all, and that’s what really matters. I met Brett Morgen, too – he’s a really nice guy and I’m gonna put him on the list when we play LA on July 20th at the House of Blues! That was really it as far as celebs, but we did see Toby McGuire, but he seemed a little standoffish. Jack was totally freaking cool though.
How was it opening for Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players, and what was the atmosphere like backstage with that with so many legendary musicians?
Man, that was off the hook. It was funny and surreal seeing Dave watch me playing drums. I told him I really liked his playing – he was a busy man that day. But yes, we got to see John Fogerty soundcheck, and seeing all those great drummers like Brad from Rage Against the Machine and Taylor Hawkins was great, too. The sound system was amazing – one of the best sounding gigs I have ever played. Just really dialed in. I got to play on Taylor’s kit too – a Gretsch with concert toms, no bottom heads, like Peter Criss used to use in the 70’s. We only played 30 minutes – we opened up the whole show, but it was an amazing night. Saw Rick Springfield, Daryl Hannah and Rick Nielsen, who I got my pic taken with, I love old Cheap Trick, and Eric Burdon from the Animals was hanging out, too. And me and the Foo Fighters’ guitar player talked about our love for Ace Frehley – he has a sticker of him on one of his Les Pauls. He was a cool dude, too.
For more Meat Puppets (and for a listing of tour dates), click your clicker here.
In part two of Alternative Nation’s Reflections of a Sound – Silverchair 20 years later feature, we hear from Silverchair drummer, Ben Gillies. You can check out part one by clicking here.
What does Silverchair mean to you 20 years later?
An unforgettable and life changing experience.
Thinking back to jamming together in high school and then entering the competition in 1994, what expectations did you have for Silverchair?
I remember as kids we always talked about being “the biggest band in the world,” but you never really think you’d get a shot at it.
What do you want your Silverchair legacy and place in music to be with your fans?
One of the greats. One of the few bands throughout history with that rare magic that only comes around once in a blue moon.
What are you up to now?
I have a ton of ideas I’m molding into new material. What and when I do something with them is unclear at the moment. I also clocked some studio time with Michelle Branch, which I loved and I hope to revisit soon!
Do you foresee a Silverchair reunion of any kind in the future?
Ha! Maybe… if Dan decides to talk to his old mates again.
Favorite Silverchair song?
All of ’em!
Favorite Silverchair record?
All of ’em!
Most memorable tour and/or show?
Rock in Rio in 2001 in front of 250,000 people and Madison Square Garden in 1996 supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Similar to a band mate in the Meat Puppets (guitarist Elmo Kirkwood), drummer Shandon Sahm has been around music ever since he was a young gentleman. The son of late Texas roots rocker Doug Sahm, Shandon was inspired by his father’s work to follow a similar path in music – first as a member of the heavy metal band Pariah, before joining an overhauled Meat Puppets line-up in the late ’90s (of which singer/guitarist Curt Kirkwood was the sole original member), and appeared on their 2000 album, ‘Golden Lies.’ That line-up split in 2002, but Shandon eventually rejoined the Pups in 2009, at which time Curt had reunited with his bassist brother, Cris, in the band (and welcomed Curt’s son, Elmo, into the fold). Subsequently, Shandon has played on such albums as ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Rat Farm.’ Recently, Shandon was up for answering a few questions for Alternative Nation.
Next week, we will have two other articles featuring Shandon discussing the Meat Puppets performing at the recent Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck premiere, and on Meat Puppets’ touring experiences with Stone Temple Pilots. So stay tuned next week for more!
Are you looking forward to the upcoming co-headlining tour with Soul Asylum?
Hell yes, it’s gonna be a blast. Good venues, good bill, good vibes all around. Dave [Pirner] is a really cool guy and loves the Meat Puppets, so why not bring your favorite band along? Michael Bland, their drummer, is a total badass dude who has played with Prince, and from talking to him on the phone, a really sweet dude. We are sharing all the equipment on this tour – thanks Dave, thanks Michael. But it has been awhile since we have been on a tour instead of just doing one offs and I’m looking forward to it – it goes all the way from June to October from what I’m told – a few weeks on, few weeks off. Then in September we go to the UK for 4 shows – can’t wait for that too.
Any plans for the Meat Puppets to record a follow-up to 2013’s ‘Rat Farm’?
Yes, we are taking are time – we have one original song in the can that we did when we worked on the split single we did with Cass McCombs. Don’t know the title but those sessions came out great. We also have “Sloop John B,” so ya never know – maybe we will put that on as a bonus or something on the next record. But I’m ready to record and this was the first session we did with Elmo in the band, and came out amazing. Elmo’s a great guitarist – really talented dude. I guess it runs in the family ha ha ha. Ya know, I don’t have much family left and I consider the Kirkwoods my family. Maybe I should call them “cousin Cris” or “uncle Curt,” ha ha ha. ‘Rat Farm’ was well received by the Meat Puppets fans and got good reviews – not that that matters to me, but “One More Drop” is a killer tune, but “You Don’t Know” and “Waiting” rock, too – so does the song “Rat Farm.”
The Meat Puppets covered “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers and “(Hey Baby) Que Paso” by Texas Tornados for a single last year. How did that come about?
We did it when we had a co-headlining tour with Cass McCombs, who is a cool dude. Great players. It worked out neat – they did 2 songs and we did 2 songs. Once we got drum sounds, the guys weren’t around yet and I knew “Que Paso” by heart, so I just said to the engineer, “Let me cut a drum track.” It came out really good. When Curt heard it when he came in, he was like, “Its’ done.” We didn’t really plan it. I just grew up with that song, being a Texas Tornado song it’s in my DNA. And once I heard what we did, the sessions came out great and I said, “If this is any sign of what our next record will sound like, it will be fantastic.” It was played very well by everyone and sung well, too. I thought Elmo sang great on “Cathy’s Clown.” Both those songs rock, so for sure, the next record will too.
For more Meat Puppets (and for a listing of tour dates), click your clicker here.
Portland’s most controversial band, Black Pussy, has been making headlines as of late for their outrageous name. Anthony Carioscia had the chance to chat with vocalist Dustin Hill, who defended the band against a the tidal wave of racist/sexist accusations, responded to an emotionally charged Huffington Post piece on the matter… and also talked about the music.
What would you say influences your sound? Can you tell us a bit about your new record?
I would say as the writer I’m really big into Syd Barrett/early Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy. We kind of take from everything. Everything influences us, but that late 60’s psychedelic groove used by bands like Cream is what we are mostly trying to channel. We try to smoke a lot of weed when we are working songs and it really chips into that whole vibe and keep it groovy.
The records called Magic Mustache. We recorded about 14 or 15 songs. We couldn’t fit all of them, so we chose the nine we felt were best for it. It’s not too overproduced but I do think the sound quality is really good when you turn it up loud, the way all rock and roll music should be. We have an EP coming out in July or August that will have the extra songs, since we recorded so many.
What happened is we had a pre-sale and because of record store day, the record was late. So what we did was the label and us wrote everyone who ordered and offered a free guest spot for any show in there area if they wanted to come. We knew the record was late, so we offered that to be as cool as we can. But you know, with anyone who hits us up, we try to be cool . We don’t have many guest spots on our shows but when people hit us up we say sure. We just like to be cool like that.
There’s a rumor that the band was originally named after the Rolling Stones hit Brown Sugar. Is this true? If not how did you get your name and why did you choose it?
We are not named after that song. I was writing these songs and I wanted something that felt 70’s and I wanted to have a sexy type vibe. These two words came to. I had to process these two words and I had to look them up and see what it meant because obviously I could see how this can be offensive. It wasn’t offensive to me as a creative person in a meditative state looking for a working title. The band name is ambitious. When you look up the word black, it doesn’t only talk about people. It also talks about evil, sadness, and magic. There are also many meanings to the word pussy.
How I got connected to the song Brown Sugar in my research of the words and the meaning. I wasn’t trying to put my one meaning to this i was just making sure the title for my art project is clean. I then put on the Rolling Stones Brown Sugar. It was a satire song, basically an anti-rape, anti-racist song. From my point of view, I thought I hit the jackpot with the band name, because if I could have a cool band name that is also connected to something anti-rape and anti-racist it seems pretty positive to me. So that’s how I got connected to the rolling stones song. The name is not meant to be offensive at all. Our music is not offensive at all, it’s just good times rock n roll, psychedelic, acid rock.
Have you read the article in the Huffington Post concerning your band name?
Yes, I have read that article. The girl was assaulted, I guess it was an attempted rape in the back of a cab, which is scary. Anyone being assaulted with the intention of rape is scary. Her and her band performing and getting complaints for having “black lives matter” on one of her guitars or amps was wrong. That’s when you have to rise up as an artist. Like, “oh, if you don’t let me do this i’m not playing”. I haven’t changed my band name when certain venues won’t have me.
Like, when we toured with Kyuss, we were not allowed to play House of Blues because it was connected to Disney somehow. Not a big deal, I’m not going to change my band name because I can’t play House of Blues or because certain people don’t like it. If I was to talk to her artist to artist, I’d tell her to stand up as an artist. I feel bad she was assaulted in any matter, but this has nothing to do with my band name. It’s someone trying to connect my band name to what happened and that’s insane.
The world is getting too sensitive if a band name is getting connected to a person I don’t even know. I don’t think my band name is demeaning to woman or people of color. If anything it is a celebration of both those things. I feel for her as an artist and I think she should be tough and not let people tell her what to do. As an artist you just move on and you keep pushing your art the way you want to do it. I find it weird a club wouldn’t let them have ‘black lives matter” on their gear because it is such a big issue and black lives do matter.
Did you notice the petition going around to change your name?
I think that petition is funny. There are bigger things to start petitions about. I think most of us on this planet realize this but some of us are too bored and like drama. They attack artists and smaller people. There are bigger issues to attack, but I feel they are too weak to attack those issues. So they choose something small, which is us. The petition hasn’t affected us besides us gaining more support.
“In the sun we are found to be reflections of a sound.”
March 1995: a record entitled Frogstomp was released by Murmur records. An initial recording of the lead single, “Tomorrow,” first hit Australian airwaves a few months prior and ended up spending six weeks at number one on the ARIA singles chart. Shortly after, an official single was made available to the U.S. market. Who was this group? What was this song? What would the reaction be? The answer – three 15-year-old amazing musicians from Newcastle, Australia who were schoolmates that decided to start a band. Oh, and did people like it? Just look at the facts. “Tomorrow” became the most played song on U.S. modern rock radio that year in addition to spending 20 weeks in the Australian top 10. In total, Frogstomp has sold over 2.5 million records worldwide, was certified double-platinum in the U.S. and multi-platinum in Australia.
You would think at 15 years old that was the very beginning of their journey. For Daniel Johns, Chris Joannou and Ben Gillies it had actually been on-going a few years already. Upon settling on a power rock trio initially billed as Innocent Criminals, they casually entered a national band competition. The rest is history. Astonishingly, they placed first in that competition and found themselves in high demand from record labels. Sony A&R manager John Watson, became their manager and away they went.
Over the next 16 years, Silverchair would release a very diverse mix of five albums which have sold over six million records worldwide. They are one of the most renowned and successful Australian bands of all time having won 21 ARIA Awards – (more than any other artist in history) and all five of their studio albums have made it to #1 in Australia, which remains a national record (Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel have had four #1 records, AC/DC, INXS and Crowded House have each had three). Not to mention Daniel Johns was the first person to ever win the prestigious APRA “Songwriter of the Year Award” on three separate occasions. Regardless of their tempo, their songs bleed with emotion and honesty. Anthems such “Tomorrow”, “Ana’s Song”, “Straight Lines”, and “The Greatest View” were in constant rotation amongst rock radio stations everywhere. Embedded in their catalog, however, you will find lyrically rich, vulnerable gems like “Shade,” “ Point of View,” “Miss You Love,” “ Across the Night”, “ Without You”, “ Emotion Sickness”, and “Asylum.”
March 2015 officially marked 20 years of Silverchair music. This is a time where the band finds themselves in what they call an indefinite hibernation with each of them plugging away at their own personal endeavors.
Along with business partners, Chris spent time in the brewery business and is now an owner of the recently opened Newcastle restaurant The Edwards.
Ben released a solo record entitled Diamond Days in late 2012 under the moniker BENTO. He can also occasionally be spotted on The Real Housewives of Melbourne, where his wife Jackie is one of the stars of the show.
Daniel is currently starting a new chapter in his musical career as a solo artist. Shortly after a surprise appearance at Triple J’s 40th birthday where he played a chilling piano rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Daniel debuted a new soulful song entitled “Aerial Love” in late January 2015 on the Triple J radio station. The song is from a four-track EP that was released in March. A full-length studio album entitled Talk will be released on May 22.
In the spirit of honoring and recognizing this incredibly worthy band, I reached out to various musicians, producers and touring partners to share their thoughts, experience and admiration for the one and only Silverchair.
Seether – lead singer and guitarist
Right after Frogstomp came out; I remember how the music blew my mind from a kid a few years younger than me. It was so pure and angry and perfectly fit my attitude to life at the time. I was fucking exhilarated! Between Silverchair and Nirvana, I had music that spoke to my angst and kept me alive. When Freak Show came out I was blown away. Daniel Johns is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. I wish they’d write a new album so I can feel that incredible intimate release when I hear new music from them! We still play Israel’s Son almost every time we soundcheck.
Favorite Silverchair song?
Hands down. Christ, listen to our song “Remedy” and tell me that I didn’t have that song in my subconscious. It’s a shameless tribute to Silverchair.
Favorite Silverchair record?
Freak Show or Neon Ballroom.
I think “Ana’s Song” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created.
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
I saw them in LA on the Young Modern tour and I actually got to meet them. I was completely star struck and I was mesmerized by how great Daniel sounded live. Such a fragile man with such a powerful voice. It’s one of my favorite memories of all time.
Australian electro-pop musician, singer-songwriter and producer. Played keyboards in Silverchair’s touring band. Founded the band The Dissociatives with Daniel Johns
I first met Daniel in the mid 90’s. He was a bit of a fan of my techno band Itch-E & Scratch-E and asked me to do a remix for the band. The first mix I did was for “Freak” (remix for US rejects). I always thought they were incredibly funky. They made me want to dance. Daniel Johns is one of the most amazing artists Australia has produced.
Favorite Silverchair song?
“Those Thieving Birds / Strange Behaviour”
Favorite Silverchair record?
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
Playing keyboards on stage with the band at the Big Day Out wearing my Yoko Ono T-shirt and having a bottle of piss thrown at my head. Good times!
Famed producer of Silverchair’s debut record Frogstomp
I first heard Silverchair on the radio; it was when they were called The Innocent Criminals. I loved their sound straight away. I remember thinking they sounded like a good old school band; kind of 70’s meets the grunge of Seattle. I really thought they were a fantastic band, and I think they should have continued the power trio thing. I think the world was ready for that.
During the recording of Frogstomp you have to remember they were three 14-year-old boys, not exactly very experienced in the studio and so I had a lot to do and they had some downtime. At first they took to playing cricket in the hallways of Festival Studios and then they quietened down and discovered some Ron Jeremy pornography that had been left behind in the lounge. I went into the lounge to call them into the studio, and they needed a few minutes to get back.
Favorite Silverchair song?
I think that song is mighty. I get images about music, and that song always made me think of war in the desert – I guess the Middle East. I did tell Daniel that at a party sometime later on and he just looked at me kind of strangely. I had him add that scream during the recording because I could imagine a young soldier running out of a foxhole with a bayonet and rifle, charging the “enemy” but I’m actually not so sure what the song is about. I just loved it. I had them start with that tinny distorted bass riff and then added subharmonics to unsettle you from the first note!
Favorite Silverchair record?
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
A couple actually. Ben used to make a cut in his bass drum and at the end of the show he would dive into the bass drum. At one show in Los Angeles he dived into the bass drum but they had forgotten to make the cut beforehand and he just bounced back and then he got up really dazed and confused. I guess he’s lucky he didn’t break his neck! Then there was a show at Rock in Rio 2000 which was fantastic and I heard the first songs for the next album, and I thought it was going to be a monster. Towards the end of the show, Daniel was totally exhausted. He finished and at the end of it fell on the floor in the dressing room.
The Whigs – lead singer and guitarist. Opened for Silverchair during their 2007 Young Modern US tour
I remember hearing Silverchair all the time on Atlanta’s 99x radio station in 1995. I was 13 years old and thinking that they were way further along in their careers than my band at the time. We then had an opening slot around the release of “Young Modern” years later. A few months after that The Whigs played Omaha, Nebraska and a couple of their fans gifted us a very rare and valuable Gibson guitar and Rickenbacker bass!
Powderfinger – lead guitarist. Co-headlined the Across the Great Divide tour with Silverchair in 2007
We both played at a festival gig in Tasmania (mid to late 90’s). The lads were still young but the excitement surrounding them was building and building. At first I was envious! That guys this young were making music this good. They just came out of the gates with all the great elements. Not at the top of their game yet, but you could hear all the right pieces in place. I remember sitting next to Daniel on the return flight from the festival gig, just chatting away and thinking….this guy is not how I may have preconceived. He was polite and incredibly funny, really joyous and light.
They are one of our great bands, always did what they felt was their artistic expression. They worked hard and are a great example to all aspiring artists out there.
Favorite Silverchair song?
I love a song that takes you on a journey.
Favorite Silverchair record?
Daniel is coming into his composer element here.
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
Touring with them on the Across the Great Divide tour was fantastic. A great chance to spend some time with them all. I have a lot of respect for them, their work and their constant professionalism in live performance.
THE MADDEN BROTHERS – Benji & Joel Madden
Good Charlotte, The Madden Brothers
I first heard Silverchair when a bunch of kids came back from the Red Hot Chili Peppers show in high school talking about this cool Australian band that we had heard on 99.1 WHFS in DC. A girl I knew was wearing the Frogstomp album cover T-shirt with the tour dates on the back- I thought it was really cool. After first hearing their music, the thing I remember the most was thinking- wow these guys are the same age as me, maybe I could do this too.
This band was an inspiration to kids everywhere and Daniel Johns has never ceased to grow as an artist and writer. Fans will always love the Silverchair we knew, but we will always be excited to see what Silverchair we get next.
Favorite Silverchair song?
“Emotion Sickness”, “Slave”, and “Israel’s Son”.
Coincidentally the first songs on those albums. Loved pushing play every first time…
Favorite Silverchair record?
Freak Show and Diorama.
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
Silverchair at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C. for Freak Show with Handsome (dudes from helmet and quicksand super group) as the opening act.
Girl in a Coma – lead singer and guitarist
I first got introduced to Silverchair when Neon Ballroom came out in 1999. I then went back and listened to the previous albums and fell in love. First I felt very attracted to Daniel Johns, of course. But then I also liked that they were a three piece band because I was also starting in my own three piece band, Girl in a Coma. Their songs were very rock but also melodic. I remember locking myself in my room for hours just hearing their records and singing along; recording their videos off of TRL when they would pop up and longing to one day meet them. To put it simply, I was inspired. Being an “adult” now I can understand Daniels lyrics much more in depth than I did before. I love that he was open about his eating disorder and recovery just as I’m open about my drug/alcohol addiction and recovery. All of them are talented men and they are a huge part of my musical up-bringing especially the beginning of forming Girl in a Coma.
Favorite Silverchair song?
“Miss You Love”
It’s so beautiful. I actually sang this song to my mom to prove to her I was serious about music when I was 13. I sang to the wall because I was shy. She then got me my first acoustic guitar afterwards!
Favorite Silverchair record?
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
I have yet to see them live! I so want to sing a song with Daniel one day! It’s on my bucket music list! Ha! But I do remember seeing their live performances on TV and loving the energy.
Acclaimed music producer out of London. Produced Silverchair records – Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Young Modern
In 1995, my friend Robert Hambling (film maker) who first discovered “Innocent Criminals” (as they were then called), played me a CD of demos they had made at age 14. Daniel’s mother had sent it in to the SBS music show he was working on. I was blown away at the song writing on the demos and in particular Daniels low voice. I had no idea that they were under 20 years old, let alone 14, this made me all the more fascinated. Robert and I then took their demos around to all the record labels we knew at the time, but none were interested.
In regards to recording Silverchair records, I have so many memories I could write an entire book. All three albums were great fun to make. They are a true band, in that once they are in the same room playing together; sparks fly and magic is put on tape. All three of them are incredible musicians, and it’s worth noting that by the time they made Freak Show (age 15) they had been together for eight years.
The vibe in the studio on all three albums was electric, but in different ways:
During Freak Show they were incredibly wild and young, the energy and adrenaline in the room was like the biggest sugar rush imaginable. Craziest moment: Ben climbing inside a flight case with a movie camera being pushed down the long corridor at Festival Studios by the other two crashing into walls while filming from the inside. Result: black screen, shrieking screams, major damage to the walls.
Neon Ballroom was more ambitious and about experimenting in the studio, something they hadn’t done to this point. I also remember the concerns about Daniel’s struggles with anorexia, which culminated in the amazing song: “Ana’s Song.” It was written and recorded in the last eight hours of studio time before flying to LA to mix.
Best studio moment however? Daniel lying on the floor with a huge green beanie on his head that made him look like an alien, singing out all the individual notes that each member of the orchestra should play, while string arranger Jane Scarpantoni immaculately translated every note he sung onto music paper. The whole symphony was in his head … talk about mind blowing!
Young Modern was like a reunion of friends many years later. Everybody had grown up in their different ways yet when playing they were like one. Best moment here was listening in ore (and amusement) in Prague while Van Dyke Parks conducted an 80 piece orchestra in a massive room where Einstein used to teach. He had us in stitches while he instructed the violin players that they sounded too froggy, like nasty little green things too much “ribbit ribbit.”
Silverchair will always be my favorite people. The experience I had making their records and the feeling of growing and pushing boundaries was second to none. Silverchair are a phenomenon, and undeniably one of the most phenomenal bands ever to exist.
Favorite Silverchair song?
“Israel’s Son”, “Slave”, “Ana’s Song”, and “Straight Lines”
Favorite Silverchair record?
Because of my fun memories making it. They were so in their element. The focus in direction of what they wanted to do was inspiring to be around.
Most memorable Silverchair live experience?
Seeing them play on the small stage at Sydney’s big day out 1995. I remember standing next to David Fricke side of the stage, watching them play so loud and with so much confidence, and seeing the massive crowd of people who had streamed over on mass from the main stage areas. Many climbed on top of nearby buildings and up lamp posts to get a glimmer. Their set was perfect. One of the most memorable gigs I’ve ever seen. Me and Fricke looked at each other knowing history was being made.
Favorite Silverchair song?
“Point of View”
Favorite Silverchair record?
Most memorable Silverchair experience?
Seeing them live for the first time at the Bowery Ballroom in 2003. I rushed home from college finals (maybe a little early??) specifically to go to this show. It was amazing to be in such a small room packed with genuine and extremely passionate Silverchair fans. They played a wide range of songs from their entire catalog including Daniel solo on the piano for two very rare and deeply moving songs; “After All These Years” and “Asylum.”
CLICK HERE to read part two of this feature, featuring an interview with Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies.