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Review: Silversun Pickups’ Better Nature

The Silversun Pickups are a long way from Swoon’s “Panic Switch,” which translates to about 6 years (or one bachelor and master’s degrees’ year’s worth of study). Better Nature definitely has a more restrained and thoughtful sound and feel about it, as one might expect of an older, more thoughtful and educated in the ways of the world and human nature, group of musicians. The only problem is that all that thoughtfulness, which leads to airy musical atmospherics as opposed to grungy grounding, has caused Silversun Pickups’ sound to regress instead of progress. Better Nature is thoughtful sonically and lyrically, but to the detriment of the intensity and unique supersonic, yet grounded, sound of their early albums-a sound that made Silversun Pickups something truly inspiring musically and emotionally.

Most bands don’t want to write the same songs over and over, even if some bands (Metallica, U2, and Pearl Jam) encounter great success doing so. Bands like Pearl Jam deviate very slightly, if at all, from what makes their songs and sound so powerful, yet manage to feel fresh and unique with every album released. Silversun Pickups were well on their way to the same type of unique and powerful sonic status with Carnavas and Swoon. Then came Neck of the Woods. The more straightforward 90s alt-guitar rock which swayed from shoegaze to an individualistic take on Billy Corgan’s “grunge in furs” fuzz buzz obviously owed much to artists like Corgan, but Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert made the sound all his own with his unique vocals while drummer Christopher Guanlao’s staccato smacks distanced the band from Smashing Pumpkins-like rhythms nicely. Then came Neck of the Woods

…and now we have Better Nature, for better or worse. There is much that made Silversun Pickups what they were on Carnavas and Swoon present on Better Nature, but it’s now lost in a swirl of synth-pop atmospherics and techno beeps and boops. The Silversun Pickups of Better Nature have more in common with Eurythmics and Depeche Mode (once they discovered the guitar) than Smashing Pumpkins or My Bloody Valentine-hence the sonic regression. There was a good bit of this type of sound on Neck of the Woods-hence the disappointment with this album as alluded to above-but there at least the darkness of the overall musical atmosphere lent itself to a certain weight that kept the album grounded. On Better Nature, too often the synths send the songs spinning out of control and off into a glitter spangled twilight that is just a little poppy and colorful for a band that once had such a natural world grounding (a la grungy) sound.

One of the better moments on Better Nature is “Connection” with its sly social commentary on our society’s social media additions and its interesting guitar work that is reminiscent of early Silversun Pickups. The dance backbeat makes “Connection” a pop rather than rock song though-for better or worse. “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)” is the album’s best moment. A steady beat, contributed vocals from the wonderfully talented Silversun Pickups bassist Nikki Monninger, plenty of acoustic and electric guitar lines that interweave nicely, and just enough restraint to create the proper tension necessary to cause the listener to crave the release the band hints at in the song’s final movement all come together to recreate and, more importantly, advance (by building upon the band’s greatest musical momennts: “Lazy Eye,” “The Royal We,” “Panic Switch,” “Little Lover’s So Polite”). Sadly, it’s only one of a handful of these moments. Better Nature would have benefited from more.

Interview: Flyleaf’s Pat Seals Discusses New Singer & Album

Flyleaf left to right: James Culpepper, Sameer Bhattacharya, Kristen May, Pat Seals, Jared Hartmann.

When hard rock band Flyleaf’s original singer, Lacey Sturm, announced her departure from the band shortly before the release of 2012’s New Horizons album many doubted they would continue. But on October 22, 2012, the same day Sturm announced her departure, Flyleaf announced Kristen May, formerly of the band Vedera, as their new singer. The band soldiered on touring throughout 2013. Flyleaf has a brand new album Between The Stars out now with Kristen May on vocals and is currently on tour. AlternativeNation.Net caught up with Flyleaf bassist Pat Seals and discussed their decision to carry on as a band, their new singer, and recording their new album.

When Lacey decided to leave Flyleaf was there any question within the band whether or not to carry on?

Pat Seals: Flyleaf had some serious questioning going on, however, James, Jared, Sameer, & I all felt like we still wanted to make music. We had just made New Horizons & we saw a future for us in some way, even though it seemed unclear at that time.

How did Flyleaf, a Texas-based band, decide on a new lead singer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri?

The list of singers we compiled was gigantic – a few were from Texas, and many more were not. We were more concerned with ability and personality than credibility derived by location – if Kristen May had landed from Mars, she still would’ve made the cut.

Was there an audition process involved?

Yes, there was an audition process, though it didn’t last as long as the search, thankfully. We only saw a few people before Kristen came in. I felt like she was probably the one before we had finished playing the first song – luckily everyone else felt the same.

It seems to be perfect timing that Flyleaf was looking for a singer when Kristen’s band had recently broken up. Do you feel like the musical pairing was meant to happen?

The way it all went down, it does seem a bit like serendipity. Kristen displayed a great ability to make the pairing work – coming out of Vedera into Flyleaf, she assumed a defining role within a catalogue of songs that existed previously while maintaining her individuality. That whole musical “getting-to-know-you” process got us artistically in shape for Between the Stars.

You have a new album Between The Stars that you recorded at NRG Studios in Los Angeles with producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Pearl Jam, Korn). What was the writing and recording process like for the album?

The writing process for Between the Stars incorporated more spontaneity than Flyleaf had previously employed – it was very free writing, most of which happened before Don Gilmore came in, though his production and further songwriting suggestions really took Between the Stars to a higher level. Recording with Don is a bit difficult to briefly explain – he was very hands-on, focused on feel and subtlety – he was extremely good at getting some fun into the music. Drums happened at NRG, but we tracked everything else at the home studio of our friend & Stars in Stereo guitarist Jordan McGraw.

Was it inspiring working at NRG Studios where so many classic albums have been recorded?

NRG is a great studio – very nice & hip, but busy and bustling at times, like a large medical office. 311 recorded there!

Was it important for the band to work with a new producer to have a fresh start after Howard Benson produced the previous 3 LPs?

Flyleaf did need to spread it’s wings a bit, though Howard is brilliant. To say he did a lot for Flyleaf would be an understatement, and I would love to work with Howard again sometime, but it felt right for us to venture elsewhere for this record.

What was the division of labor in the songwriting process like within the band?

Without deviating into percentages, all of Flyleaf contributes, though many songs initially spring up from one member’s ideas. Most Between the Stars songs began as small pieces of lyric & melody getting ‘bounced around the room’ usually originating from Kristen, Sameer, or sometimes myself, with Jared and James building their ideas alongside. So much of Between the Stars began with us all sitting in a room with acoustics, trading ideas & following whichever tangent seemed the most promising.

Does the band write separately, together, or a little of both?

A little of both is the most honest answer, though Sameer and Kristen are both prolific songwriters, individually. All of us collect working ideas throughout off-time and sort of throw them into the stew when we get together to write.

Did recording with Don Gilmore make it easy to concentrate on the creative process and leave the technical recording aspects to him?

Yes it did, very much so. Don is a truly grade A ‘horse-whisperer’ of musicians, in my opinion. I’ve never laughed quite so much while tracking. Several times, Don would count me off into a part, show me a hilarious picture on his laptop, all while cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West. As silly as it sounds, Don’s banning of too much seriousness in the studio got better performances out of me, as far as I could tell.

Do you have any favorite songs from the new album?

“Platonic” is my favorite, though I’m a fan of everything on Between the Stars. Sameer knocked it out of the park when he wrote that one – truly haunting atmosphere. “Head Under Water” is also a favorite – very empowering lyrics from Kristen.

The song “City Kids” reminds me a little of Brian Adams’ “Summer of ’69” in that it’s about reminiscing about growing up. Who does the screaming on that song?

Cool comparison – thank you! The screaming is from yours truly.

How do you think this album is different from Flyleaf’s previous albums?

Aside from the fact that Kristen is singing, Between the Stars songs feel more seasoned, lucid, and mature in many ways. Though I’m still very proud of them, earlier Flyleaf records seem focused to the point of view of individual observations of life, while BTS is more comprehensive, more about relationships, as it says in “Magnetic”, “filling up the space between the stars, WE are”.

On the last tour Flyleaf mostly played material that Lacey was a part of writing. Are you excited to be touring with a new album to promote that Kristen was completely involved with?

We’re very excited to be touring with the new music written with Kristen; she brings so much to the table, in the studio and in a live context. Classic Flyleaf songs will make it into rotation for sure, but these new songs really feel fresh, they feel like ours. I feel like our fans, new and old, will love them too.

Well good luck with the new album and tour. Thank you.

Thank you!

AlternativeNation.net Review Of Flyleaf’s Between the Stars Album:

Listening to Flyleaf’s 4th album with fresh ears may be difficult for longtime fans who have followed the band since their 2005 self-titled debut album. The obvious difference is that new singer Kristen May is a different type of singer than original vocalist Lacey Sturm. Whereas Lacey was a screamer with unique vocal inflections, Kristen is more of a belter with a cleaner vocal delivery.

Producer Don Gilmore brings out the best in Flyleaf with confident multi-tracked vocals, overdriven bass tones, and unique guitar sounds that range from atmospheric to distorted without becoming noise. The soft verse, loud chorus dynamic heard in many modern rock songs is also used frequently here without becoming formulaic. The short guitar solo in “Magnetic” which mirrors the vocal melody and the synthesizer solo in “Platonic” are subtle clues that Gilmore also produced Linkin Park’s first two albums.

Standout tracks on Between The Stars include the raucous first single “Set Me On Fire” and relationship songs like “Traitor” and “Marionette” where May sings “I’m not your marionette doll so let me go.” “Head Underwater” is perhaps Flyleaf’s first piano-driven song. With the song’s soaring vocals and strings it has an Evanescence-esqe sound. In fact Kristen May’s voice has more in common with Amy Lee than Lacey Sturm. Fortunately May has her own style and never tries to sound like her predecessor.

“Platonic” is my favorite song on the album with its strong hooks, reflective lyrics, and a haunting chorus. “City Kids,” with it’s wistful lyrics about youthful memories and ambient guitars, is another favorite. In all Between The Stars is a solid album and if judged on its own merits should win over Flyleaf fans old and new. Make no mistake Flyleaf 2.0 sounds like a new band charting new territory vocally and musically. Those who listen with open ears will find a lot to enjoy in this album.

Watch Flyleaf’s video for their new single “Set Me On Fire”:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLGH0H4Vr6Y&w=560&h=315]

Checkout the book: Flyleaf Spreads Their Wings: The Story of a Supernatural Rock Band from Texas by Carl Phelan, the grandfather of Flyleaf guitarist Jared Hartmann. A story for past, present and future Flyleaf fans that chronicles the band’s journey from playing in small venues for a few people to playing for thousands in large arenas. Available at Amazon.com here.

Watch: Foo Fighters Play “White Limo” With Tribute Band Singer

Foo Fighters played their first in a series of secret UK shows at the 600 capacity Concorde 2 club in Brighton, England on Wednesday night as reported here. Dave Grohl gave up the mic on “White Limo” to let Jay Apperley of the tribute band ‘UK Foo Fighters’ sing lead. Introducing the tribute band singer Dave said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… Me!” After the song Dave said he enjoyed the three and a half minute vacation from singing.

Check out a fan-shot video of the performance below. (Warning – audio is very distorted):

Top Ten Worst Post Grunge Songs

Also known in recent times as “butt rock”, post grunge makes up a variety of bands that followed the death of the grunge movement in the mid 90’s. Championed by Creed’s Scott Stapp and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, the genre thrived in the mid to late 90’s and pretty much all of the 2000s before finally fading into irrelevancy with the rise of the indie movement on alternative rock radio; you’ll be more likely to hear Capital Cities and Imagine Dragons on the radio instead of new material from Breaking Benjamin and Nickelback. Now that this very dark part of rock music history is over, lets take a look at the worst of the worst songs that emerged in that period.

10. Seven Mary Three – Cumbersome

Okay, the song itself probably isn’t terrible, and they’re probably much nicer guys than, say, Wes Scantlin and Fred Durst, but the band’s 1994 debut single sounds like R.E.M. clashed with Pearl Jam with standard 90’s lyrics about being angry at the world. Though Bush and Collective Soul are usually considered the first post grunge bands, Seven Mary Three idles by pretty closely. So, while they’re not terrible, they were the fart in the wind that started an entire genre of giant farts (specifically, Chad Kroeger’s farts) in an enclosed room.

9. Three Days Grace – Riot

While not insultingly bad like some of the latter bands on this list (Nickelback), Three Days Grace tried at once to be something “heavy” while also trying to have pop appeal, and the result is something jarring, like someone threw a wet towel on the band’s speakers. To their credit, they got kind of creative on their 2012 album Transit of Venus.

Then, suddenly, frontman Adam Gontier quit the band in January 2013, around the same time Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland was fired from his band. Though Gontier cites health concerns, one might think he assumed he was worthy enough to replace Weiland and made a hasty decision to quit his band.

8. Scott Stapp – Slow Suicide

Former Creed frontman Scott Stapp takes all of the stereotypes of his old band and puts them on maximum overdrive in what is quite possibly the most overdramatic music video ever conceived. Hospital environment? Check. Biblical references? Check. Slow-mo shots of Stapp singing? Check. Its only missing a guest appearance from Chad Kroeger.

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7. Shinedown – Bully

Shinedown’s 2012 single, “Bully”, made waves for its anti-bullying stance. Okay, good intention here, but… come on. The lyrics just don’t appeal to adult fans who might enjoy Shinedown, and any middle schooler who is getting bullied will probably get his ass kicked even harder if he sang this song to his tormentors. The song was so bad that it sparked a thread on the popular forum on IGN, The Vestibule, debating whether or not Shinedown was demoted to Nickelback status. 

6. Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane

Kind of in a similar boat as Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin try to sound heavy and poppy at the same time and going in neither direction. Its not hard enough to rock out to, and its not poppy enough to… pop out to. Combine that with overdramatic lyrics that sound like they were written by a creepy obsessive teenager going through hormonal imbalances, “Diary of Jane” makes number six on the list.

5. Trapt – Headstrong

This was Trapt’s one popular song, released in 2003. Watch your back. He’ll take you on. He’ll take on… anyone. Watch yourself. You know why? FUUUCCCKKK, BECAUSE HE’S HEADSTRONG.

[insert Chad Kroeger/Nickelback joke here]

4. Puddle of Mudd – Control

Wes Scantlin, whose vocal style is akin to Scott Stapp trying to do a Kurt Cobain impersonation, likes the way you smack his ass. He also apparently likes lip synching nowadays, when he’s not in jail for one reason or another. At least he doesn’t sound much like Chad Kroeger.

3. Nickelback – S.E.X. 

Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger’s continues to show his brilliant skills as a lyricist with lines like “I’m loving what you wanna wear, I wonder what’s up under there? Wonder if I’ll ever have it under my tongue?”and “No is a dirty word”. In the past, Chad Kroeger has referred to himself as a “walking penis” and bragged about how he put his own penis on his mouth. Keep in mind this a guy who looks like Nicolas Cage crossed with Fabio.

2. Theory of a Deadman – Bad Girlfriend

The braindead child of STP’s “Dead and Bloated” and The Cult’s “Fire Woman”, “Bad Girlfriend” is like an 80’s cock rock song without any subtlety whatsoever. It is essentially frontman Tyler Connolly impersonating Chad Kroeger and grunting about how hot his girlfriend is and that everyone should be jealous. He also makes obligatory dudebro references to partying, taking shots, being stoned, and spanking asses . You know when a song starts off with “My girlfriend’s a dick magnet”, you’re in for a douchey ride.

1. My Darkest Days – Porn Star Dancing

A band discovered and signed by Chad Kroeger, My Darkest Days’ first single, “Porn Star Dancing”, pretty much embodied every single stereotype about the genre, from its degrading lyrics about women, grunting machismo, a music video filled with strippers, and a guest appearance from… Chad Kroeger. The song was arguably the last popular post-grunge era song before Mumford & Sons and Imagine Dragons took over mainstream rock radio for some reason.

Its also worth noting that the first single from the band’s second album, “Casual Sex” (how edgy guys), featured a music video filled with so much unnecessary female nudity that frontman Matt Walst’s girlfriend left him. Walst is now busy singing with Three Days Grace since former frontman Adam Gontier suddenly quit the band.

Special thanks to Austin Eddington, “Birdman” Dan Segal, and Anthony Carioscia for their assistance in compiling this list. 

 

AlternativeNation.net Switching To New Layout This Weekend, Be Patient With Glitches

Like I mentioned in an article the other day, we are switching to our new layout and changing to ‘pretty’ URL’s over the weekend, so you may see us building the new version of AlternativeNation.net right before your eyes! If there are any tech problems with the site, please be patient! The new layout will be ready on Monday, and we’ll have a big week with our interview with Billy Corgan going up in the middle of the week.

Gene Simmons Declares Rock Dead

Gene Simmons discussed the death of rock in a new interview with Esquire:

“Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.”

New Layout & Billy Corgan Interview Coming To AlternativeNation.net Next Week

AlternativeNation.net will be launching a brand new layout next week, which means we may have some technical glitches/downtime over the weekend as we configure the new layout. The layout will make it easier for people to browse our rock news, as well as our Entertainment based Film/TV and Wrestling sections which we soft launched a month ago, in a way that those two sections will not interfere with the experience of people who just come here for news on hard rock or 90’s bands.

The reason I’ve launched these new sections is I’m not a fan of much that’s going on in rock music today. This is why we’re switching to a lot of research/list/feud type articles when it comes to rock, since there isn’t a lot to write about now. When it comes to the actual news, the ridiculous/funny stories are the only ones that really interest me these days, and according to traffic, readers as well. So why not have a Film/TV section, especially one that can function independently from our rock coverage? I noticed that Consequence of Sound launched a Film/TV section this week, and they probably have a similar thought process, which is: why the hell not? There sure as hell isn’t a Dark Side of the Moon or Nevermind out there right now to write about.

In addition to the new layout, in the middle of next week, we will also be interviewing Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. After 5 years of dominating the headlines here, BillCo is finally coming to AlternativeNation.net! We’ve had several big interviews in the past with members of The Doors, Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Cage The Elephant, A Perfect Circle, and many other popular bands, but the PR game can get rather tricky. We recently thought we were close on Scott Weiland and Chris Cornell (still could easily happen), but running a website you have to roll with the punches and disappointments that come with it (Courtney Love no showing tops that list), and just get content that grows readership regardless.

Anyways, thanks for the support (and trolling) over the years. To those of you who click the ads, I love you the most.

-Brett

10 Artists That Layne Staley Loved

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David Bowie

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Prince

“Prince is probably one of my biggest idols, besides David Bowie. He’s one of the most amazing performers and songwriters of our time, I think, and I’m damn impressed with what he’s done.” (Rage 1993)

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Black Sabbath

“I have two sisters, a brother, and my parents. They weren’t very musical. My mom kind of was. She used to sing. I’d say my first influence would be Black Sabbath, then Ozzy, then Ian Gillan with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. The first record I ever picked up was Black Sabbath. It was either my mom’s or my dad’s album ! I just picked it out of their collection.” (RIP Magazine 1991)

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Rage Against The Machine

“We went on tour with [them] on Lollapalooza, and they were great, an amazing bunch of guys. I made a point to wake up early and go see these guys play, and “Killing In The Name Of” is one of my favorite songs by them, in fact it is my favorite song. By the way Tom Morello, the guitar player, taught me how to play the guitar. So if I screw up, it’s his fault (Laughs).” (Rage 1993)

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Ministry

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Lords of the New Church

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Skinny Puppy

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Nirvana

“I’m sure these guys are real proud of what they’ve done, and I’m really proud of what they’ve done, for a band that was ridiculed, and made a mockery of by the press. They came back and destroy them with a great album, a great song, and a great video [“Heart Shaped Box].” (Rage 1993)

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Heart

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Blind Melon

“I know a lot of people that don’t agree with me that [“No Rain”] is a great song, and a good video, and they can all go to hell, because I think it’s great. Shannon, the singer, is a good friend of mine.” (Rage 1993)

Butch Vig Talks ‘Guerrilla Style’ Recording On New Foo Fighters Album

Butch Vig discussed Foo Fighters’ new album Sonic Highways on JSOnline:

“The old Austin City Limits (in Texas), that’s just a big old empty stage with no infrastructure, no recording facilities, no record tape decks. We’d wire it all up and it was a pain in the butt, but it was also exciting to do it guerilla-style,” Vig said. “It was the same in New Orleans at Preservation Hall. It’s just a wooden room. We had a makeshift control room by the alleyway in the manager’s office. There was a crowd outside the last day, so they threw open the doors and windows and played an hour and a half set. There were like 2,000 people there in about five minutes.”

Foo Fighters will release Sonic Highways on November 10th.

Foo Fighters Announce Crowdfunded Show & Las Vegas Festival Performance

Foo Fighters have announced that they’ll be playing their crowdfunded show at The National in Richmond on September 17th. They will also perform at the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas on October 26th.

Interview: Godsmack Drummer Discusses Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath & New Album

Godsmack is a hard rock group that formed in 1995 and hit mainstream success with their debut self-titled LP. After the release of yet another successful album, “Awake,” drummer Tommy Stewart left the band and was replaced by Shannon Larkin, known for his work in Ugly Kid Joe. With Larkin onboard, the group delivered “Faceless,” “IV,” and “The Oracle,” which all hit #1 on US rock charts. After a hiatus and frontman Sully Erna’s solo album, “Avalon,” the band reunited to record their most recent LP ,”1000hp.” We got to ask Shannon Larkin some questions while the band is on tour for the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR festival.

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Promotional poster for Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival 2014

You guys are currently on the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR festival. How has it been so far?

Uproar has been overall great. Great crowds, good vibes backstage, and great food and parties.

Godsmack recently released their sixth studio album, “1000hp.” Can you talk about the writing process and how it compared to previous releases?

After taking some time off, when we fired it back up the writing process went very smooth, and with no drama. Everyone came to the table with lots of riffs and ideas and we were all on the same page as to what we wanted to achieve musically.

First Webisode of Godsmack’s series “The Making of ‘1000hp'”

On the last track of 1000hp, “Turning to Stone,” you explored some non-conventional percussion and drumming techniques. What pushed you to experiment with this style?

Quite simply, Sully. Being a drummer himself, he really pushed me hard on this record, wearing his producer hat and bringing out the best of my style and playing.

Godsmack hit the level of being festival headliners within the past few years. What was the band’s reaction to hitting this peak and the success that followed?

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have gotten where we are in this hard as nails business. We are very grateful and take nothing for granted.

Do you find it frustrating to be in a rock band in a society and era that has mainstream focus on pop and hip-hop artists?

Not really frustrating, but sometimes disheartening. We came up in a different era where rock was king, there was no cell phones or internet, and if you wanted to see a band you liked, you had to see it live on stage. But hey, you just roll with the punches and keep bringing it.

Godsmack was compared to Alice in Chains frequently in their early years. What is your take on the comparison and what is your view on Alice in Chains?

Firstly, we all love Alice in Chains. We love great songs, and that is what they’ve always delivered. That said, I never thought we sounded like them. Perhaps the song “Voodoo,” but even that’s a stretch, in my opinion.


Music video for “Voodoo,” the band’s third single off their debut LP

You have drummed for a variety of big-name bands including Stone Sour, Black Sabbath, Candlebox, Glassjaw, and more. What would you consider to be one of the main highlights or memories in your career?

Definitely, the Sabbath gig, talk about surreal! I was a 12 year old kid listening to Sabbath records (that’s right, vinyl) in my bedroom, then fast forward twenty years or so and I’m onstage with em’. Doesn’t get much better than that in the “dream-fulfilling” part of my existence.

Although Godsmack is your main priority right now, what is the status of your other projects like Another Animal and Ugly Kid Joe?

Another Animal was a one off side project, but we never say never. Ugly Kid Joe is still kicking it, having released a new set of songs last year called “Stairway To Hell,” which we are all very proud of. Tony Rombola and I have a blues band we are doing called Blue Cross.

Another_AnimalCover artwork for Another Animal’s 2007 self-titled debut album

What are some bands you’ve been listening to recently?

I’ve been listening to Ramones constantly since Tommy’s passing, and also Seether, who are on tour with us now and kicking ass.

Who are some musicians or bands on your bucket list that you would like to either tour or collaborate with?

All of us dream of playing with AC/DC. We got to play with Metallica and Sabbath, so the only dream left is the thunder from down under, and the clock is ticking.

What can fans expect for the future of Godsmack?

The future of Godsmack is to keep making music and touring until we feel we aren’t (or can’t) give 100%. Only then will we retire. I promise we won’t be old farts giving half-assed shows for the money. As long as we are strong, will will rock on.

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Maroon 5’s Adam Levine Parodies Eddie Vedder On The Tonight Show

Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine parodied Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder on the most recent edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Levine along with Fallon were playing the “Wheel Of Music Impressions” in which a random singer and song title were generated onto the screen and Fallon and Levine had to do impressions of that singer singing the song title that came up at random. You can view Adam Levine doing an impression of Eddie Vedder performing the classic children’s tune “The Muffin Man” below, 4:13 in.

8 Things You May Not Know About Layne Staley’s Reclusive Years

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1. Layne Was A Video Game Fanatic

In Greg Prato’s Grunge is Dead, Layne’s mother Nancy revealed that Layne was a ‘video game freak.’  He had a big screen TV, 5 games 5 different gamers. dawn to dusk.  Layne was even wearing a Metal Gear Solid video game shirt in his final public photo from Halloween 1998.

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2. Krist Novoselic, Mark Lanegan, Mike Inez & Sean Kinney Tried To Help Layne

According to Greg Prato’s Grunge is Dead and Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, many of Layne’s rocker friends refused to give up on him and still tried to see him during his reclusive years.  Sean Kinney would try to visit Layne at his home, and he frequently called him to no avail.  Krist Novoselic brought him food, hoping he could save him after losing Kurt Cobain.  Mark Lanegan and Mike Inez also went to Layne’s home and bang on his door trying to see him.

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3. Layne Was Going To Record With Taproot In 2002

Taproot were recording a new album with Alice In Chains producer Toby Wright in 2002, and wanted Layne Staley to sing on a song, according to Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge.  Wright contacted Staley shortly before his death and Staley agreed to record the song, privately in a studio in Seattle.  Layne told Wright, “Wow, I get to perform again.”  Wright was preparing to fly up to Seattle to prepare the studio for Layne’s return to recording when he got the called that he had died.

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4. Layne and Mark Lanegan Discussed Collaborating

“We talked about [working together] from time to time,” Mark Lanegan told CDNow in April 2002. “But that was contingent on him having the energy and focus to be able to work, and I guess that didn’t materialize.”

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5. Layne Considered Sending A Demo To Jerry Cantrell

Though never verified, there have been rumors that Layne worked on a home demo called “Everyday” that he planned on sending to Jerry Cantrell, possibly as late as 2002.

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6. Layne Went To A House Party And Hung Out With Ann Wilson

In the Heart book Kicking and Dreaming, Ann Wilson revealed that Layne attended a party at her home around 1999.  She said after most of the crowd left at night Layne was still there, and she wanted to go swimming so Layne followed her to the pool. Layne didn’t get in, but sat in a chair sipping a beer. He told her as a kid that he excelled at swimming, he said “I loved to dive into water.”  He said the water felt like a whole other world.  As Layne sat there and Ann was swimming, a huge meteor went over them and it lit up Layne’s face. She said he looked like a kid again, and at that moment there was no darkness in his life. Layne said, “Did you see that? How close do you think that was to us, Ann? Do you think that almost hit us, Ann? How lucky are we to have seen that?” Ann responded that it was beautiful, and Layne retorted, “Do you have any idea how rare it is for a meteor that big, and that bright, to come that close to us? We are really really lucky people Ann. You and me.”

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7. Bob Forrest & John Frusciante Visited Layne’s Home

Around 1999/2000, Bob Forrest and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante tried to help Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley get clean. Forrest recalls the story in his book Running with Monsters: A Memoir.  Forrest had gained a reputation at the time as being someone who could communicate with addicts, he had helped Frusciante get clean in 1997. Frusciante was hesitant to visit Staley because he didn’t think you could really preach to somebody about getting clean, but Forrest was adamant about trying to help him.

Forrest called back Staley’s mother Nancy and told her that they’d try to help him, though he told her he didn’t know if it’d work. Nancy responded, “Layne’s got an odd sense of humor. I told him that John had gangrene once. He said, ‘In his arm? That’s terrible, Mom. John’s a guitar player. He needs his hands and arms. Me? I’m just a singer. I can get by without them.’ I know he was joking, but I don’t like to hear stuff like that. Can you try to talk sense to him?”

Forrest agreed to, and he and Frusciante visited Staley at his Seattle condo. Forrest says that Staley’s mind clearly still worked but that he was “a million miles away.”

Bob: “Hey Layne. What’s going on.”
Layne: “Nothing. I know why you’re here.”
Bob: “Your Mom’s worried, man. You don’t look too good.”
Layne: “I’m okay, though. Really.”

Staley was playing video games while they talked, and “pretended” to listen according to Forrest.

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8. Layne Was Heavily Into His Art Work

Layne was very into his artwork during his later years, frequently buying art supplies that were scattered around his home.

Rest in Peace Layne Staley

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Radiohead To Begin Work On New Album This Month

Following an 18-month hiatus, Radiohead is returning to the studio in the coming weeks to record their upcoming ninth studio album. In a new interview published this week in NME, drummer Philip Selway revealed that the band’s return to the studio is imminent, adding: “We’ve decided that now feels right to start making music and we’ve got the first week booked in together so we’ll see how it goes.”

Selway also noted that he’s not sure what the new record will sound like. “I have absolutely no idea,” the drummer stated. “And that’s what keeps us all there until the end.”

In a different interview, with BBC‘s Mary Anne Hobbes, Selway said that Radiohead has “got [their] best record still to come” and that the hiatus, which was filled with the band members’ solo projects, will enhance their creativity. In July, guitarist Jonny Greenwood revealed that he had been sending song ideas to Thom Yorke.

Although Radiohead is returning to the studio this month, it’s currently unclear when fans should expect the release of their next album. In the meantime, check out “Coming Up For Air” below, the lead single from Philip Selway’s solo album Weatherhouse.

Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains & Guns N’ Roses Members To Play Football At Charity Event

Mike McCready is hosting flag football tournament on September 7th at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. There will also be a celebrity game held, featuring Team Duff, whose page you can donate on. Team Duff includes Duff McKagan, Brad Adam, Jeff Angell, Jerry Cantrell, Kerry Carter, Ryan Castle, Craig Gass, Mike McCready, Lawyer Milloy, Joe Tafoya, and Lenny Wilkens.

McCready discusses his problems with Crohn’s Disease with Seahawks.com, “I first got sick in the late 80’s when I was in L.A. trying to make it with my first band Shadow,” said McCready. “I was eating lunch with the band and had my first ever ‘attack.’ It was a pain I had never experienced before and I had to rush to the bathroom. I won’t go into detail, but I knew I had to see a doctor ASAP.”

Faith No More To Release New Album In 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 2, 2014 – Faith No More, who reunited in 2009 for a series of sold out performances and international festivals, is currently recording their first full-length album since 1997’s Album of the Year.

A limited edition (5000 copies) 7-inch single of the song “Motherfucker” will precede the April 2015 release, available via Record Store Day’s Black Friday event (Nov. 28). The single will be released digitally on Dec. 9.

“We’ve always shared a chemistry between ourselves that’s unique to this band, but these past few years of touring together have made us aware that we not only play better as a unit, but we like the new stuff we’re coming up with,” explained Faith No More founder and bass player, Bill Gould, who also spoke with Rolling Stone in more detail. “So we’ve decided: we’re going to get busy in 2015…make an album we’re proud of, kick things up a notch, get out there and perform it and maybe even dedicate a little more focus to our fans in the States this time.”

The as-of-yet untitled album is being recorded in an Oakland, Calif. studio with Gould handling production. The release will be the first from Faith No More’s newly formed imprint, Reclamation Recordings, which will be distributed by Ipecac Recordings.

Prior to the new album’s release, Faith No More will headline Australia’s Soundwave Festival in February 2015. Worldwide tour dates will be announced soon.

Faith No More is Mike Bordin (drums), Roddy Bottum (keyboards), Bill Gould (bass), Jon Hudson (guitar) and Mike Patton (vocals).