Countdown To Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

mayhem2015_2Countdown To Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

The world’s biggest heavy music touring festival, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, is celebrating its gigantic eighth year of headbanging madness!  The epic 2015 lineup features the almighty Slayer and the legendary King Diamond as headliners on the Main Stage, along with sets from the all-star lineup of Hellyeah and metalcore sensations The Devil Wears Prada.  The Victory Records Stage is packed to the rafters with intriguing heaviness, headlined by Whitechapel and showcasing dynamic collectives such as Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Sister Sin, Sworn In, Shattered Sun, Feed Her To The Sharks, Code Orange and Kissing Candice.

In this year’s edition of Highwire Daze’s Countdown To Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, we catch up with Hellyeah’s esteemed guitarist Tom Maxwell as well as members of Shattered Sun, Feed Her To The Sharks, and Sister Sin.

In addition, we go behind the scenes and meet up with co-founder John Reese for an informative chat.  Also featured is Rick Zeiler of Coldcock Whisky, one of the main sponsors, letting us know what to expect in this hot and heavy summer of Mayhem!  If you are a band seeking a Coldcock sponsorship, you might especially want to read what Rick had to say.

And now, presenting our Countdown To Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival!  Read on…


tommaxwellHow’s it going Tom Maxwell of HELLYEAH?
Feeling pretty good, just resting up, healing up after shattering my ankle.

I heard about that. Are you going to be OK in time for Mayhem?
Oh yeah, I’ll still probably, for a week or so at least, be in a cast that they have me in, sitting down and playing but yeah – I’m going to be ready. Nothing is stopping me from getting out there. I had to pull out of that tour in Europe because I had to get emergency surgery and the doctors were like, you’re a free man, you can do what you want, but there are chances of you possibly getting a serious infection, which can lead to really bad shit, if you do this. So I opted to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days and fly home, and heal up at home.

What are you looking forward to the most about the Mayhem Festival this year?
I think just being out there on a traveling tour with people we know and people we don’t know yet. The routine of a tour is what I really like. I like order and routine. It’s one of the positives of being on a traveling tour, is that you have that some sense of normalcy.

Compare doing a tour like Mayhem or Ozzfest to doing a regular club tour.
Nothing wrong with any of that, I love playing festivals and regular headlines. I love doing big shows, small shows, whatever. This is what we do. If you don’t love what you do, then you’re in the wrong business no matter what it is that you do. It’s awesome with a tour like this, it’s been awhile since we’ve toured on a traveling festival. I think Uproar may have been the last one that we did. They’re fun. You get to meet a lot of cool people and you start relationships and seeing old friends, it’ll be fun man. After a few days and everybody gets their groove and their rhythm going, it’ll be fun.

What can one expect from a live Hellyeah show at Mayhem this year?
Well – the sun will still be up, probably be going down so it’s not like we’ll have much visual production as far as lights. I think we’re going to go out there, with our stage rig that we have – it’s just putting together the right set. I think sonically is what people are going to get from us more than anything else. Visually, it’s always a bunch of energy. A lot of intensity going onstage. We’re going to put together a very unique and strong set for this tour so that we come out and it’s going to be fucking relentless. Gasping for air.

Your newest album, Blood for Blood is kind of a transition album since you had new members.
It was a massive transition.

How would you compare Blood for Blood to the rest of the Hellyeah releases?
It’s exactly what the band should be. In my opinion, this is our first real record if you ask me. We have three other records, but I think it took all this time to find members that figure out what Hellyeah is, and what our sound is. I think – the real deal. Before, you were getting something that wasn’t quite there yet.

What was it like working with Kevin Churko? Did he have any good Britney Spears or Ozzy stories to tell you?
[laughs] That’s a negative on the Britney Spears and not much on the Ozzy thing, other than the fact that he recorded him and produced a song for him. There are no real stories behind Kevin and I don’t think he’s the type of person to dive into storytelling. Working with him was exactly what we needed to do. It was exactly where we had to go. Everything happens for a reason, man. I think it took us all this time to find our sound and I think the stars were aligned for us to work with him at that particular time, we needed this transition. I don’t think this band would have survived if we had not written Blood for Blood. If we didn’t go through those changes I don’t think we’d be a band today. We really, really needed to overhaul everything and button up. Working with Kevin was a massive, smart step that we made in approaching our records. Very gifted, he’s a great songwriter and he really opened us up to different levels of songwriting.

Is there any story or concept behind the title?
It’s plain and simple, man. We’re coming for you, blood for blood, man. We’re one big family with our fans. They get in the pit, we get in the pit. It’s all about that. Bring it.

If Hellyeah could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who and why?
Well, of course you’re only getting my perspective but – I think, so many bands we could tour with. I think if anything, if I had to go back and pick anything, Ministry would be a killer tour. Ministry from the early 90s, around the Psalm 69 era. Opening for Judas Priest would be killer, just because of nostalgic reasons for me since they’re such an influence growing up. Modern wise, so many good bands and there are a lot of bad bands too. We’ve played so many tours, I can’t think of any band from today.

What’s going on with Knives Out, and how does that sound differ from Hellyeah?
Knives Out is kind of a project that I did with my friends back home. It was my old drummer from Nothingface, Tommy, Todd, Jason from Dog Fashion Disco and we’re all good friends for many years. I put it together with Todd and those guys, I came off the road from doing the very first Hellyeah record, and we just spent the summer of 2008 writing, recording it and it was a fun thing to do. We didn’t ended up being a full time band, we had other obligations elsewhere but we did play a few shows.  And actually, I was just talking to Jason earlier today and he wants to start writing some more music for it whenever we have some downtime over the next year. They’re busy with Dog Fashion, I’m busy with Hellyeah. It’s very possible that we’ll do another record.

Would Hellyeah and Knives Out ever want to do a tour together?
TM: [laughs] I’m sure the other guys would be cool with that, that’s a lot of guitar playing for me man. Both bands are very demanding guitar wise. Anyone who’s heard that record, it wasn’t a walk in the park guitar wise. When you go back to previous stuff, there’s a lot of Nothingface in that. To be honest, there are two or three songs on that Knives Out record that are the last few Nothingface songs that I wrote for the band back in the day that never made it. It’s very demanding, but you know, I could do that. [laughs]

Any activity on the Nothingface side of things?
No, that thing has been nailed in its wooden box and buried. No signs of resurrection, man. I’m still friends with Bill and we always talk about getting together and writing some music, which I’m always open to. Tommy is still in my life, and by the way has been a daddy to a couple of twins. Matt, I have no contact with I haven’t talked to him in shit – seven years. His lifestyle is completely not my lifestyle and just our friendship ended man, that’s all. There was definitely some bitterness there from shit that happened in the past, but I’m not dwelling on it. I wish him the best in life in whatever he does. I just can’t have him in my life anymore.

Do you have any messages for Mayhem Festival attendees who are going to be coming this year?
Be ready, man. Be hydrated. Be ready to get in that pit, man. We’re talking The Devil Wears Prada, Hellyeah, King Diamond and Slayer on the main stage. Before that you’ve got bands like Whitechapel, it’s going to be vicious. Get ready to throw down, man. Actually – if anyone gets in that pit, it might be a good idea to buy a mouthpiece. Bite down on it, keep your teeth. That’s a good idea, man. I should talk to the rest of Hell Yeah to sell some mouthpieces at the merch table for kids who want to get in the pit.

That’d be very cool.  Mouthpieces with the Hellyeah logo written across them!
Yeah, etched in the teeth or something. Cool idea, thanks man, haha.

No problem there. Hopefully we’ll see those mouthpieces at Mayhem.
That’s something I’m going to talk to these guys about right now, I bet it can be done.

Hellyeah on Facebook

Shattered Sun

jessiesantosIntroduce yourself and tell me what you do in the band and where are you based?
I’m Jessie Santos from Shattered Sun, I play rhythm and lead guitar and I live in Portland, TX. It’s about 10 minutes north of Corpus Cristi. I’m not too far from Alice, TX. In the general area of South Texas.

Whats your local music scene like there?
It’s pretty strong. Whenever we came back from tour with Exodus, we did a few hometown shows and the response was incredible. Everyone came out, had a good time and supported us really well.

How did the tour with Testament and Exodus go and what were some of the highlights?
It was great. At first we were pretty nervous. I guess getting used to doing a tour of that scale, especially with bands like Testament and Exodus, those are legends in metal. So to be on the road with them for a month straight was pretty intimidating at first. We came into the tour, we hung out with them a little bit, had some BBQ and broke the ice. It was incredible just hanging out with them, honestly.

What are you looking forward to the most about Mayhem Festival 2015?
Seeing the country again, that’s pretty awesome. And touring with Gary Holt again, he’ll be with Slayer. Gary is a cool guy and I can’t wait to hang out with him again. Also to see King Diamond, that’ll be freaking sick.

How are you going to feel about playing in the middle of the day in the heat?
I’m pretty used to the heat, South Texas is a pretty hot area. Not only that, it’s pretty humid too so it increases the heat favor, I believe. So, a California / dry heat isn’t as bad as it is over here. It isn’t as suffocating, I guess. I think we’re ready for it.

What can one expect from your live show at Mayhem festival this year?
A lot of energy, a lot of intensity. A lot of action. We’re all about our stage show, we love playing in front of a crowd. We love playing in front of anyone, really. It’s a great feeling. To be on that stage and play in front of everyone. So we’re really excited to show what we’re all about.

Your current album is called Hope Within Hatred. What inspired that title?
Marcus, our singer, he was real inspired or influenced by how the world is today. There’s a lot of hype in the media. The impression that there’s a lot of hate, a lot of bad things around and he wants to show that there is hope and that there is a way out of that mindset. That’s what I get out of it. I see it that way too when I think about the album and what it was written about.

Any strange or unusual happenings on the road or at a show?
For me it was a particular strange night in Toronto. We just had gotten done playing, me, Joseph and Robert were hanging out in the bar area where everyone was between bands. We met up with this dude and his friend and went bar hopping in downtown Toronto. I ended up getting into a twerking contest and I don’t know if it was the beer but it was a weird night. It was hilarious, yeah [laughs] never again. That was interesting.

I’m sure this isn’t documented on Youtube, or is it?
No I really hope not. I hope he didn’t do anything with that video [laughs]. But I got second place, though. [laughs]

Maybe we’ll see some twerking at Mayhem?
Maybe. I hope not [laughs].

If your band could open up for any other band either now or from the past, who and why?
We opened up for quite a lot of them. I would love to open for In Flames. That’d be sick. I know we’ve played with them before over in Jacksonville and back in San Antionio not even two weeks ago at River City Rock Festival. To be on a tour with In Flames would be sick, we’re all big In Flames fans and really inspired by their music and how they write. To do that would be pretty awesome.

Do you have any messages for Mayhem Festival attendees this year?
Be sure to look for Shattered Sun. We’re looking forward to seeing you and everyone out there. Come hang with us, it’ll be a really good time.

Shattered Sun on Facebook

Feed Her To The Sharks

feedhertothesharksIntroduce yourself, what you do in the band, and where you are based out of?
Hey! I’m Chewy and I play guitar in Feed Her To The Sharks from Melbourne, Australia!

What are you looking forward to the most about Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015?
I’m looking forward to crushing America with our brutal, high-energy Australian metalcore! Also looking forward to meeting as many awesome people as I possibly can!

What could one expect from your live show at Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015?
Expect a lot of crowd interaction! Once our show starts, you’re going to want to be headbanging, jumping up and down, or going absolutely mental in the moshpit! This is the reason we put so much into our live performance! To put on a great, memorable show every single set!

What is the name of your latest or upcoming CD or EP and what inspired the title?
Our latest record is called Fortitude. It’s our debut album through Victory Records. This album is partly based on real life experiences from within our band. The main inspiration for the album title was finding strength and courage when the band was at the lowest of lows, to break through and face adversity head on!

Select two songs you may be playing in your set and what inspired the lyrics.
The World Is Yours” – This song is all about making the right choices in life and not giving up on your dreams! “Chasing Glory” – If there ever was an anthem for sticking it to the man. This is it!

Any strange or unusual happenings in the past while out on the road?
Unfortunately, we haven’t come across anything strange or unusual like UFOs or ghosts. Just the regular boxing kangaroos, koalas, and emus ya know! 😉

If you could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Slipknot! They are one of the bands who have inspired us and so many other great acts in today’s metal scene.

Do you have any messages for Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015 attendees this year?
Get ready to experience a live show like you’ve never seen before! Pick up Fortitude and learn the lyrics so you can scream along with us throughout America! Mayhem – we are coming for you!

Feed Her To The Sharks on Facebook

Sister Sin

Photo Credit: Felicia Puschl

Photo Credit: Felicia Puschl

Introduce yourself, what you do in the band, and where you are based out of?
My name is Dave. I play drums and write songs in rock/metal band Sister Sin. We´re based out of Metal Town, aka Gothenburg (Sweden).

What are you looking forward to the most about Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015?
I’m looking forward to a lot of things. First of all I love festivals; the relaxed atmosphere and getting a chance watch a lot of bands. I also love touring and playing live so to be able to do these things every day for an extended period of time will be nothing short of awesome!

What could one expect from your live show at Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015?
Mean ballsy rock! Lots of movement and energy! Fists in the air and a bloody good time!

What is the name of your latest or upcoming CD or EP and what inspired the title?
Our latest album is called Black Lotus. I think we mainly choose it because it’s a memorable and cool title. But also because it sums up the overall darker approach on this album.

Select two songs you may be playing in your set and what inspired the lyrics.
“Fight Song” is a fan favorite we always do live and will surely play at Mayhem. We wrote the song after being royally screwed by a no good manager we were stuck with for years. Needless to say there´s a lot of F%”K and other cute language in there, haha.

Speaking of royalty… we´ll of course incorporate “Chaos Royale” in the set. The first single from off Black Lotus. The track has almost a power metal vibe to it so we wanted to even that out a bit by putting very non-serious lyrics to it. Like a Manowar song but way over the top. No pun intended to Manowar, but it’s pretty stupid.

Any strange or unusual happenings in the past while out on the road?
If the name wasn’t already taken, we should have definitely been called “Murphy’s Law”. Anything that can go wrong when we’re on the road, does go wrong. So an unusual story would be if an entire tour went smooth all the way, but that has never happened yet.

If you could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Would have loved to open for W.A.S.P in 1984! Definitely my favorite year for that band. They were on fire, literally, (for those who’ve seen “Live at the Lyceum.”). So to open for Blackie & Co when they tortured women or dissected a chicken or two with an Indian tomahawk axe on stage would be amazing to say the least. Classic!

Do you have any messages for Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015 attendees this year?
Let the mullet out, crack open a beer & catch us tear up the Victory Records Stage all summer long! Cheers from Sister Sin!

Sister Sin on Facebook

Behind The Scenes at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

Meet John Reese – Co-founder of Mayhem Festival

Approved Headshot 2014How did you meet up with Kevin Lyman, and what made you decide to join forces to do Taste of Chaos and then Mayhem?
Kevin is such an amazing guy and he is one of the most loyal and caring, he cares about the industry, he cares about kids and fans and music – I just can’t say enough good things about him. So we really started getting to know each other well in the early 2000’s on Warped Tour. I had a bunch of bands like The Used that did the Warped Tour in the early 2000’s. So we became super close and then in 2004, he worked with me on the The Curiosa Festival in 2004 with Robert Smith from The Cure and then we decided to go into full on partnership mode launched Taste of Chaos in 2005. And then in 2007, when Ozzfest was over, you know metal and heavy music was kind of my background and I’m like look, there is maybe an opportunity here and Rockstar Energy approached us and said they wanted to sponsor, and then kind of all came together.

According to your bio, when you first started out you did concert security. What was that experience like and how do you feel when you see others doing concert security today at your shows?
It’s a thankless business. You gotta be really passionate about caring about people and their safety. I had a company in the mid-80’s that had seven offices all over the United States and like 3,000 employees. It’s a tough business and I have a ton of respect for those guys that do it. They are definitely necessary in what we do.

What was it like being a tour manager for Guns N Roses during that point in their career?
They were the biggest band in the world and it was insane. You know there are a a lot of bands that could sell a lot of tickets and there are a lot of bands that could sell a lot of records and the one – and there are a lot of bands that can sell a lot of merchandise. Guns N Roses during that time, did all of those things. It was an insanely popular band via the records they sold. Same thing, I think we did 300 something stadiums in like two and a half years with Guns N Roses.  It was like nothing I’ll probably ever see again. You know at least in the rock genre. There are pop acts, One Direction and you know stuff like that that can fill stadiums. But in the rock world you know it was a pretty special time.

Did you get to meet the Rolling Stones at all?
I did. We did some shows with them with Guns N Roses in 1989 called Stoned in LA. We got to meet those guys you know and hangout. Ronnie Wood and Keith. They’ve all guested together on Guns N Roses shows so you know we spent a lot of time with the Rolling Stone guys.

At this point in your career, would any band make you star struck?
Wow, that’s a great question. I think dead ones, Freddie Mercury, Nirvana, seeing Pantera with Dimebag. I don’t put any limitations on the future, I think you can only look back on the past and discover things you wish you could have done or seen now.

Your latest concert was Blaze N Glory. How did that go and will there be another one next year?
Yeah, that’s the plan. We launched it this year, a lifestyle festival based on the cannabis community. We did about 20,000 people and it was super successful. Yeah – the plan is to do it again next year. After that I also had Lost Highway, which is a big motorcycle show and concert with Toby Keith, Social Distortion and a bunch of other bands. That was actually right after Blaze N Glory – I think we’ll be doing that next year as well.

What bands are you most excited about seeing at Mayhem Festival this year?
Definitely Slayer and King Diamond. The fact that King Diamond is on this, in this history of heavy music – I beg to find a more important artist or band than Slayer and how important Slayer is to heavy music. If they’re not the most important, they’re right up there in the top few. And to have King Diamond and his – just ask guys in Metallica about how much they love King Diamond, and Mercyful Fate. King Diamond wasn’t even on our radar and then Slayer put them on our radar and was like – we never toured with King Diamond. We’re like, what? We checked around and King Diamond’s last tour was super successful. So we’re like – let’s put this package together. Then we wanted some younger bands, I’m super excited to see Thy Art Is Murder, a very hot young heavy band right now. Obviously The Devil Wears Prada, Hellyeah seeing Vinnie out there and the guys from Mudvayne. So yeah, we got a nice, diverse lineup this year. Im excited about it.

What advice would you give to someone going to Mayhem Festival for the first time this year?
Take every single moment in. Go mosh, go rest, go crazy, go visit all the vendors and see all the stuff we have out on the road. There is so much different stuff to look at and check out. Just take the day off, let all your troubles melt away and just go mosh and have a good time.

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on Facebook

Meet Rick Zeiler of Coldcock Whiskey

rickcoldcockwhiskyWith so many iconic whisky brands out there, what made you decide to create Coldcock Whisky?
I guess in terms of iconic brands, you can point to many things – I think in fashion or food, or anything else, man. You can be intimidated or you can feel like you can come up with a better solution or product. We feel like we came up with a better product. I’ve never enjoyed the taste of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam or Jameson or any other whisky and I knew that was doing well in the whisky category. I felt like we could – with our recipe of blending herbs into the whisky, we could come up with a superior taste, and that’s what we did. We began infusing herbs like green tea and hibiscus, eucalyptus and white tea into traditional bourbon and it took away the whisky burn. That’s always been my biggest problem with drinking traditional whisky is that harsh burn. We basically, with Coldcock, got rid of that harshness.

How did your work at Jägermeister and Grey Goose prepare you to launch your own company?
I think in a lot of ways, the most important is that it enabled me to be around successful people. Sidney Frank, who is my former CEO and Chairman at Sidney Frank Company taught me so much. Really, just about business and treating people. I learned a lot from him. On the marketing side, just being introduced to bands and athletes who helped spread the word about and launch Coldcock Whisky and Zeiler Spirits.

How did the sponsorship with Mayhem come about? What made you decide to pursue that?
We were fortunate because two of the investors in Zeiler Spirits and Coldcock Whiskey were guys by the name of John Reese and Kevin Lyman. They own the Mayhem Music Festival. They’re very good friends of mine and when it came time for us to develop a marketing plan, we wanted to do so with the partners that invested in the brand. So, when John invested in the brand we knew that he would go above and beyond when it came time for sponsorships and that’s exactly what’s happened. So, we developed our entire marketing plan around the events that John and Kevin do because there are so many that take place in Southern California being attached to all of them. Events like the Oddball Comedy Festival and the Mayhem Festival, Taste of Chaos, Uproar Festival and the list goes on.

How surprised are you, that the music community has embraced Coldcock Whisky and has even invested in it?
I’m not overly surprised because we have a lot of great friends in the business. But I’m pleasantly surprised that the music community has really adopted it and replaced it with other brands. We always thought we would get some traction but what I’m most impressed with is, how quickly they’ve begun to adopt it. Bands like Slayer and Upon A Burning Body.  It’s been an incredible marketing opportunity for the brand to expose it a whole bunch of people but the band itself, just to have them affiliated with the brand and then be able to see a whole bunch of other bands, both local and national, adopting the brand and making it their own. Like I said, I’m just pleasantly surprised with how quickly everybody is adopting it and we thought it would take 5-6 years to really develop but they’ve taken it on right away.

What was your very first concert experience like, do you remember what bands they were?
I have the most uncool first concert experience but it was a band called Midnight Oil, you probably remember them. They played at the Universal Ampitheater – I want to say back in 1986 or something. I wish I could sit here and tell you it was Motley Crue in their heyday, unfortunately I can’t. My mom wouldn’t let me go down to LA and check out Motley Crue. For whatever reason she let me check out Midnight Oil. And then, I will follow that up with – then all my friends got me into listening to Bad Religion and Social D and a whole bunch of other bands. That really became my music, so I’m a huge Bad Religion fan. And then I grew up listening to Slayer and Iron Maiden – and to get to work with Kerry King and some of the heroes that I was looking up to as a kid, it’s such a treat for me to get to do what I do.

How would a band go about getting your attention for a Coldcock Whisky sponsorship?
Very easy, I think visit our website and just reach out to us. We reply to 100% to the bands that approach us, whether we sponsor them or not. We reply to them. So all they have to do is reach out and they’ll get responded to. We’re always looking for new bands to work with and sponsor because we can’t be in various cities around the country, and if we can hand the torch to them and they can promote Coldcock Whisky to their local following, good for us and good for them. We call that “quid pro quo.”

What are the future plans you have for Coldcock?
Future plans are just continuing our distribution into other states and also continue to work with bands on many different levels. So, working with bands and trying to create strategic partnerships with various bands and athletes. Then just continue with partnerships with guys like John and Kevin so we can continue to stay relevant within the music community. Also – hopefully work with various publications like Revolver and Billboard and guys like you that follow the brand and hopefully give us ink.

Coldcock Whisky on Facebook

Local Southern California dates of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival will take place on June 26th at the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Chula Vista and June 27th at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino.  For venues near you, please visit the Official Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival website at!

(Interviews by Ken Morton – Hellyeah and Shattered Sun Photos by Jack Lue)


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