Category Archives: Featured

Kicking off Vans Warped Tour 2014 at Club Nokia

IMG_4569The Vans Warped Tour turns 20, and remains one of the most exciting concert going experiences in the United States and beyond.  A press conference was held at The Grammy Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, where Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman presented the kick off to what is sure to be another glorious Warped summer.

One of the big announcements was that the first date of Warped will be webcast live on June 13th!  The presale tickets for Warped have been remarkable, perhaps due to the fact that parents accompanying their kids will be admitted in for free.  As Kevin Lyman stated, “Parents get in free.  I saw a lot of kids wanting to come to Warped Tour.   I was looking at our tickets counts yesterday and we’ve already sold 103,000 tickets for this summer.  103,000 kids have tickets.  We don’t know how many parents are going to come with those kids, but I encourage the parents to come out.”

Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman

Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman

Alaska has been added the schedule, which Kevin Lyman commented on, saying “It was the fastest show I ever booked.  I think it took an hour and a half to book the whole thing.  It wasn’t that hard to call bands up and say ‘Hey, you guys want to have a little adventure?’  There’s very few places to have an adventure anymore.  And Alaska, they get to go fishing, go out on the glaciers or see a moose!  We’re going to have a nice group of bands go up there and have a great little trip.”

All of the artists were then invited onstage for a photo opp and then it was time for the Vans Warped Tour Kick Off Show across the way at Club Nokia, featuring Issues. Secrets, Bad Rabbits, One OK Rock, This Wild Life, Watsky, and Wax.

Featured below are six of the artists we interviewed at the Vans Warped Tour Press Conference


brianmarquiswarpedeb1Introduce yourself and tell me what you are going to be doing on Warped Tour this year.
My name is Brian Marquis.  I am the producer of the Acoustic Basement Stage and I’m also a performer on Warped Tour all summer long.

You were recently signed to Equal Vision Records.  Was that something you already knew when I interviewed you in November of last year?
No it wasn’t.  When I saw you, I had completed my recording and I had just started talking to labels.  Actually Equal Vision came to that show the night that you went to, and that was kind of the precursor to us having talks later on.  So yeah, it came together right after that – right before Acoustic Basement Tour – throughout the tour I negotiated it and then we finished it up right after I got back from tour in March.

What’s the record going to be called and what’s the story behind the title?
It’s called Blood & Spirits and it’s going to be out May 13th on Equal Vision RecordsBlood & Spirits refers to what you’re made of – the physical part, the blood, the thing that you’re born with – your heritage, your genes, the things you have no control cover.  And then your spirits represents all your decisions in your life – all the things that follow, leading you up to this very moment – have shaped you along with what you are given.  So it’s the combination of the two that makes you who you are – it’s about being reflective on why I do what I do and the music I do.

You’ve been doing a lot of touring lately. What has that been like to take the Acoustic Basement on the road on your own?
It’s been great!  It’s been really cool to watch it grow!  This year I did my second Acoustic Basement Tour in February in the United States and that went really well – I saw a growth from last year.  And then I got asked by the people who did the Warped Tour in the UK to come over and do the Acoustic Basement Tour in the UK in April.  That’s going to be my first International Tour as a solo artist as well as my first International Tour as a Producer.  So I’m very excited for that.  And we’ve got a great lineup for Warped Tour.  And hopefully we’ll continue to do more interesting and different Acoustic Basement events.

Brian Marquis on Facebook


IMG_4589Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Divided Heaven, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD?
My name is Jeff Berman, I sing and play guitar in Divided Heaven.  And the most embarrassing song I have on my IPOD would be a Sheryl Crow song – it goes (sings) “You don’t bring me anything but down.”  I think it’s called Anything But Down.

What are you going to be doing on Warped Tour this summer?  You’ll be on the Acoustic Basement Stage…
Yeah, I’m doing the last week of it in the Midwest.  I did it a few years ago and I’m excited to be back!  I love Warped Tour!  I love the Acoustic Basement stage.

How many times have you been on Warped Tour altogether?
This will be my second time playing.  But as an attendee, I used to go in the 90’s, I went in the 2000’s, and now I’ve gone in the 2010’s.  This is my third decade of going to Warped Tour but it’s only my second time of being a part of it.  I’m excited!

Select two songs you might be playing at Warped Tour and what inspired the lyrics.
I have a new record that came out last week called Youngblood, so I’ll definitely be playing the title track for that.  And that song is about realizing at maybe the most inopportune time – like when you’re asleep on the floor at an airport – that you need to go home and take care of your business and change your life and get your shit together.   Another song I’ll be playing is called Gin – which is a song I wrote about missing my old friends.  Every time I play that song, I feel like I have a connection to people who are in England or in Japan, or in Mexico or on the East Coast.  That song is my way of feeling connected to people that I’m not actually physically near.

Do you have messages for people you should go to your stage and check Divided Heaven out?
Yeah, do it or I’m gonna be pissed!  (Laughs)  Even on the days that I’m not playing you should go to the Acoustic Basement Stage because it’s calming – it’s so cool and fun – and it really is the most personable stage on the Warped Tour.  There’s no barrier – there’s no backstage – everybody that you see there you could go up to them and shake their hand – get an autograph or a picture.  And nine out of ten times if you buy something at the merch table, you buy it directly from the artist – it’s not at some far off tent with some merch person.  It’s a really, really personable experience – and I think it’s the best addition to Warped Tour in the last few years.

Divided Heaven on Facebook


IMG_4602How many times have you been on the Warped Tour?
Telle: This will be my fourth and The Word Alive’s third time.

What are you looking forward to the most about Warped Tour this year?
Telle:  In the last couple of years of being off, it’s hard when you’re seeing all of your friends having fun – and now we’re getting to join in again.  It’s going to be the first time with our lineup that we’ve had in the last couple of years – so I think it will be a big difference for people who maybe have not seen us since the last time.  Now this is who The Word Alive is, and I’m real excited to showcase that.

Is there any story or concept behind the album title Real?
Telle:  We know there’s been a lot of things that music is becoming.  Everything is “Let’s classify it as this” and “let’s classify it as that.”  “It needs to be this genre or this genre.”  We just want to be known as real musicians who care about our fans – and we want to make music we love – and that’s just all this album is.  It’s for all of our fans but it’s also for us. It’s just us making real music that we love.  We wanted to make a statement about it – that it’s real, passionate, heartfelt music that we’re really proud of.  And hopefully our fans can connect with it, because that’s what music is all about – the connection.  That’s what we’re hoping for – that people connect with it and that it will feel really genuine to them – and that’s what it was meant to be.

Tell me about the first single and what inspired the lyrics.
Play The Victim is the first single that we released a couple weeks ago.  The lyrics are about a couple of things.  It’s half kind of a rhetorical statement of why we do what we do.  Every person seems to hurt the people they love the most.  And that’s because you are so close to them and you feel so comfortable – a lot of the walls have been brought down.  But then it’s also about the people who are enabling negativity to ruin and run their life – and how at the end of the day you have to wake up and see what you’re doing – your atmosphere that you’re projecting – and how it’s affecting not just others – but yourself.  It’s just about taking a look in the mirror – you should stop trying to focus on the negative things and trying to have a story, but to just be yourself and live your life and try to be positive.  Life is too short to always be looking for sympathy and looking for negativity – when if you focus on positive things, you’re just going to be a happier person.

I just see negative posts all the time online.  This whole self-harm thing is a real trend right now.  Unfortunately there’s people who are really struggling with it.  And then there’s the kids who bring razor blades to every single show – and they don’t have a bad life – they’re not even cutting or doing anything.  They just feel like they need to have a story so they could meet the bands or so that people will notice them.  It shouldn’t be about that.  It should be like, be a good person and be yourself and let that be what people know you for.  Not for the things you’re gonna (regret) when you have kids who are seeing these stories – because nothing on the Internet is gonna go away – when your kids are looking back 20-30 years from now and are like, “Why were you doing that?” It’s going to be kind of embarrassing for them to be like “Well, I just thought it was cool and it got me attention.”  None of that is going to matter five years from now, let alone beyond that.  It’s kind of like wake up, take a look at your life, and start living just to be a positive person and hopefully people will see that.

What advice would you give fans coming to Warped Tour this year?
Stay hydrated!  I know everyone wants to catch every band and go to every signing – and that’s why Warped Tour is awesome!  So many fans are really diehard about all of the bands.  But you’ve really got take care of yourself and your body first.  And then make sure from there that you’re enjoying yourself.  Get your money’s worth and make it a day that you won’t forget.

The Word Alive on Facebook


IMG_4606This year you are now Warped Tour Veterans.  How does that feel being on Warped for the second year?
Noah:  It’s good.  Last year, we didn’t know what we were getting into.  And this one, we know what it’s like – we’ve been through it before.
Sydney:  We know how hot it is!
Noah:  We know how to handle it.  We’re gonna try our best and make it a fun time.

What was the best and worst part and worst part of Warped Tour last year?
Sydney:  The best part is the community there with the fans and the bands – with each other.  You make so many friends – people you expect and don’t expect to make friends with too.  The worst is probably just the weather.  You just have to learn how to adjust to super, super hot or super-hot and pouring rain.
Noah:  The humidity and the lightning – it’s very wild.
Sydney:  It’s kind of crazy.  The weather’s the worst part, but you could deal with it and there’s thing to do.  So we kind of know generally what to do this year now.

echosmithjl1What kind of feedback have you received from your song Cool Kids?
Sydney:  A lot of people relate to that song, which is really cool.  I think everybody goes through a phase where they want to be like somebody else.  It doesn’t just happen in school – it could happen at work or in everyday life.  We relate to that in different ways too, so we thought it was a really important thing to write about.  Life is really about accepting who you are and who you aren’t – and that’s what actually makes you cool – accepting yourself and being yourself.  So that’s what we are trying to get across with that song.

How close are you guys to writing and recording new music?
Jamie:  We’re always writing and still being creative.  Right now, a new album is a bit off in the horizon. Right now, we’re just touring off this one (Talking Dreams), trying to get it out – because a lot of people still have not seen us live.

What’s up next for Echosmith between now and the Warped Tour?
Sydney:  We are preparing and practicing for Warped.  We have a whole bunch of random little shows and radio shows and things like that in between.  But we’re staying busy.

Do you have any messages for people who’d like to check out your band this summer at Warped Tour?
Sydney: We love to have fun, and that’s kind of our goal with this.  There’s no other point, except to have fun and try to make a difference.  That’s what we want to do, and usually when you have fun, everybody else does to.

Echosmith on Facebook


IMG_4610Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Issues, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD.
Michael:  I’m Michael and I do vocals.  Probably the most embarrassing song on my IPOD – maybe Jonas Brothers – I have some pretty ridiculous stuff – Kei$ha maybe.
Sky:  I’m Sky – I play bass in the band.  And I’m not embarrassed but I’ve had to explain Fuel being on my IPOD a lot.

Fuel is good!
Sky:  I know, right!  I love Fuel!  But people are always like, “Oh, that’s like that Creed band!”  And I’m like, no, they’re good songwriters!  They’re sick!  Get off my back!

So what are you looking forward to the most about being on Warped Tour this year?
Sky:  Literally, just to be on the whole thing is a really cool opportunity.  Last year we were on for ten days, which was awesome.  I got a little taste.   Both of the singers in our band got to do the whole thing before in an old band.  I’m fresh to the scene, so it’s going to be a whole new experience for me – just kind of getting into the culture and meeting a lot of the people – getting integrated to the summer camp that is Warped Tour.

What advice would you give a band about to go on Warped Tour for the first time?
Michael:  Be prepared to bust your butt.  It’s gonna be hot – it’s gonna be sweaty.  But once you complete it, you feel so accomplished.  Once you do it, you’re like “Wow, I tackled Warped Tour!”  It’s gonna kick your butt, but you’ll be in shape.  Be prepared to sweat a lot.

Austin Carlile with Issues

Austin Carlile with Issues

Tell me about the song Stingray Affliction and what the lyrics mean to you.
Michael:  It has a lot to do with bullying – whether its verbal abuse or physical abuse.  Actually just standing up.  And how a lot of times, how the bully himself is the one who is actually suffering.  They pick on other people because they feel bad about themselves.

Which do you prefer, tours like Warped or regular touring?
Sky:  Fesitval shows are always fun just because the crowds are usually bigger and its outside.  But then it’s a lot easier to get into a routine on a normal tour.
Michael:  The cool thing about Warped Tour though is that you could definitely reach a bigger fan base.  If somebody’s walking by your stage and they like what they hear, you’ll pick up more fans that way.  But the club tours are more of a routine – an easy going, laid back kind of thing.

What could one expect from an Issues show on Warped Tour this year?
Sky:  Lots of movement.  You have the right to stand still and be a lame duck, but probably not in the middle of our crowd, because nobody will let you do that.

Issues on Facebook


IMG_4614What are you looking forward to the most about Warped Tour this year?
Richard:  I am looking forward to playing music on a stage.  That’s my favorite part about any tour.  I’m there to play music and meet new people.  And food too!  I love food.

I hear the food on Warped is pretty good!
Richard:  Yeah, they have fantastic catering.  It’s really good.
Mike:  I’m Mike and I ditto that.
Aaron:  I’m Aaron.  We talk about food a lot.  The food there is good.   I’m mostly excited to get on the road again.  It’s fun to be on the road with all my dudes.  We always have a good time.
Joe:  I’m most excited for meeting new bands and making new friends with everyone – big community.  And food!

This is your second time on Warped Tour and you could be considered veterans.  What advice would you give a band about to attempt Warped Tour for the first time?
Aaron:  Hang in there.  It doesn’t get any easier, but hang in there.

secretsjl1Pick a song you’ll be playing at Warped Tour this year and what inspired the lyrics.
Aaron:  We’re playing Fragile Figures.  That song was inspired, honestly, by our fans.  It’s kind of a song for the fans.
Richard:  One of the songs I’m most excited about playing is Fragile Figures.  It’s the self-title off our album.  It’s basically about how sometimes we can feel like how we’re not meant to be doing what we’re doing – we’re not meant to be playing music, but we still keep trying.  We do it because we want to change people’s lives and to save people – it’s a never give up type of song.

Do you still keep in touch with the former Secret’s singer Xander Bourgeois?
Joe:  We’re from the same town, so occasionally either we’ll cross paths or see how he’s doing – checking out his new music.

What could one expect from a live Secret’s show at this years Warped Tour?
Mike:   Good fun.  A lot of good stage presence.  Just have fun with us.
Aaron: We will be playing a couple of new songs too.

How close are you to recording these new songs?
Aaron:  We may or may not have a few songs coming out in the near future.  I cannot confirm or deny it.

And do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Aaron:  This is a great kick-off party because it’s our hometown.  We love all you guys for being out here and kicking off this tour the right way with us.
Richard:  We love L.A.

Secrets on Facebook

(Interviews by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue and Edward Brandon)

Vans Warped Tour Official Home Page


Enslaved Across The Nation

enslaveddaze2014_1_375Enslaved recent completed a massively successful tour here in the States with Amon Amarth, including a sold out performance at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.  Their current album RIITIIR has been hailed as a masterpiece by fans and critics alike, and the famed Norwegian collective performed selections from this, as well as their many other metal classics they’ve unleashed over the years.  We caught up with lead vocalist / bassist Grutle Kjellson just prior to their devastating the cavernous Wiltern.  In this interview, we discuss touring the States in winter, the “real” Roots Of The Mountain, the secret of a long lasting collaboration with guitarist Ivar Bjørnson that has thrived and persevered since the band’s inception, and other epic topics.  Read on…

How has this tour with Amon Amarth been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been a really good tour. I think 15 out of the 23 shows have been sold out – not only because of us of course. (Laughs) Amon Amarth can draw some people. But yeah, it’s been a blast. We get along very well with both Skeletonwitch and Amon Amarth. The crew has been fantastic for all the bands. And the audiences – we’ve never played in front of so many spectators in the US before. We’re real satisfied.

We’ve been having strange weather here in the States – it’s been snowing in some parts of the country. Probably not as crazy as it can be Norway. How has touring during the winter been and have you had any cancelled shows here in the States because of the weather?
We had one cancelled because of this much snow in Charlotte, North Carolina (indicated very little snow) – there was a State of emergency because that this much snow. The venue was fearing that – a couple miles from the venue there was apparently THIS much snow, so if someone jumped in the car and had an accident on the way to the show – this is the United States and they’ll be suing the shit out of you – so they didn’t dare put up the show. It was ridiculous! I’ve never seen anything like that.

enslavedlivejl5_375x250Have your shows in Europe even been cancelled because of the snow?
No. It’s never happened.

Your current album RIITIIR was released about two years ago? How close are you to writing and recording new material and how will it compare to RIITIIR?
We’ve only just started writing stuff. We had the first rehearsal actually in December. One song is ready. It’s a pretty heavy song – it’s pretty fast, really, really heavy, really rough stuff actually. We have only written one song. We plan on recording the album by the end of the year and release it in 2015 probably.

RIITIIR has been hailed as a masterpiece by critics and fans alike. With that being sad, how much pressure is there on you to record yet another Enslaved masterpiece?
Nothing at all, actually. Only the pressure that we put upon ourselves. We try to constantly improve. We kind of have a basic, simple philosophy when making music – we always try to make our own contemporary, favorite music. That’s about it. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves – improving the individual skills in both the arrangements and sound wise productions – lyrics and music. We don’t feel any pressure from outside.

enslavedlivejl3_375xOne of the highlights of RIITIIR is a track entitled Roots Of The Mountain. What inspired the lyrics for that one?
Roots Of The Mountain – the lyrics are very rooted in the Norse mythology – it’s my own little interpretation of that. The Roots Of The Mountain is kind of a metaphor for human beings. There is still hope for human beings, although there is a lot of stupid shit going around – but there is still hope in the Roots Of The Mountain.

So many of your albums have won big awards in Norway. How exciting is it for you to be nominated and go to these awards shows?
Those shows are a bit lame. (Much laughter) Just a lot of celebrities of any kind. It’s pretty much a dumb party. It’s a huge honor to be nominated and win awards – we appreciate that of course – but the actual parties – nah! The last time we were there, we were at the election, but we just skipped the whole after party thing and just made our own. And we invited people to that one!

When you look back on the split recordings you did with Emperor and Satyricon back in the 90’s, what do you think of them now?
(Laughs) I haven’t heard them in a while. I’m not one those guys that will go back and re-record or fix anything like that. When we recorded those things – we totally gave our best – that was the level of ability we had at the time. I’m very proud of every single release we’ve ever done.

enslavedlivejl6_375What do you think makes you and Ivar work so well together after all of this time?
We have developed the skills of being clever not to step too much on the teeth of each other. Spent just enough time together – have a healthy brother from another mother relationship. We work well together – we trust one another. We’ve never had any problems. I think I’ve told Ivar like two times in 22 years that “I don’t like that riff. So please can we just make some new ones?” Just twice! I pretty much enjoy the music he’s making and he really enjoys my lyrics. So there’s no reason to call it a day!

What’s up for Enslaved after this tour is over?
We’ll go back and try to make some new songs – rehearse – write new material. We have some festivals coming up – so many festival this summer – 15 festivals or something like that – we’ll be pretty busy. This is what we do. And the release of a DVD later this year! It’s going to be a pretty interesting year.

What is your favorite American beer?
There’s so many good ones right now with the microbreweries. I like Brooklyn, I like Sam Adams, I like Sierra Nevada – probably Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is my favorite beer.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Great to be back! Always a pleasure to play in California – in L.A. A very passionate audience – and that suits us well because we’re a pretty passionate band – passionate about music. It’s always great to be here and we hope we come back soon for a headlining set.

Enslaved is:
Grutle Kjellson – lead vocals, bass
Ivar Bjørnson – lead & rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Ice Dale – lead & rhythm guitar
Herbrand Larsen – guitar, keyboards, mellotron, synthesizer, vocals
Cato Bekkevold – drums, percussion

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Enslaved on Facebook


Amon Amarth: Viking Invasion at The Wiltern

amonwiltern1_375Amon Amarth arrived at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, complete with Viking ship in tow, ready to conquer the metal masses at large.  The show was completely sold out, complimented by thrilling opening sets from Enslaved and Skeletonwitch.  Prior to Amon Amarth’s mesmerizing performance, we caught up with bassist Ted Lundström backstage to discuss headlining across the States, Viking ships on the West Coast, working with Messiah of Candlemass, touring with Slayer, and other grand and adventurous topics.  Read on as we prepare for the Viking invasion from the mighty Amon Amarth of Sweden…

How has this tour been going and what have been some of the highlights?
The tour’s been doing great! We’ve had tons of sold out shows and the audiences have been amazing. This will definitely be the highlight of the tour – the show here is sold out and (we have) the Viking ship. We’ve had some great shows – the Boston show was amazing! It’s been a great tour!

amonwiltern5_375We’ve had some strange weather across the country with the snow – probably not like what you’re used to seeing. How was it touring the States in winter?
We haven’t really encountered any bad weather – even though we had to cancel the show in North Carolina because apparently a half inch of snow on the ground is a state of emergency over there. That’s was a bummer – all of the bands were there and it was cancelled. We were sitting there and it was a sunny day – just perfect weather for us. We were just surprised that we couldn’t do the show. That’s the way it is – I guess they’re not used to the snow at all. We’ve been lucky so far – except for that it’s been okay weather.

How difficult is it to cart a Viking ship across the States?
Actually we didn’t carry it to all the shows, because it’s too big to fit in most of the venues. You need really big stages – we could use the ship for the Mayhem Festival shows because of big venues. This is actually the only show on the tour where we have the ship. It’s an exclusive show for the ship since its stored here – a big stage – a big venue – we decided to do something special – an extra show just for L.A.

Is there any story or overall concept behind the Deceiver Of The Gods title?
Not really overall concept – the album is based on Loki – a Deceiver Of The Gods – a mischievous character – we’ve all seen him in the movies. We decided to base it loosely around him. At least maybe half the songs are based around him and what he does and what he did not do.

amonwiltern6_375What was it like working with Messiah of Candlemass on the song Hel and how did he become involved with the project?
First of all, it was amazing to work with him – such a talented guy! We’re all big fans of his era of Candlemass.  We’re really proud to have him sing with us. The whole idea came from – we met him a couple of times and we’ve been talking about it. He’s in a couple of different bands, but he always looks for new stuff to do. We always talked about doing stuff together, but we didn’t find anything that would suit his style together with us until this album. Once we had a song we felt he could do, we asked him if we wanted to come over and he said yeah, he would definitely do that. He was also a good friend with our producer Andy Sneap, so it was a perfect occasion and we were all really excited about that.

How you performed that song live with him yet?
Actually we did in our hometown in Stockholm on the European part of the tour. We did that Hel song with him onstage – it was a cool thing!

What was the experience like playing Mayhem and how does it compare to doing a tour like this?
The Mayhem thing is so much bigger – it’s a bit different audience that spans over many different styles. And it’s also in the middle of summer, it’s very hot! It was kind of different for us. And we did the Sounds Of The Underground a couple of years back, which is like a smaller version of Mayhem – so we had a little bit taste of it before. This is our headline tour, of course we could play a longer set – it’s more fun because everybody in the audience is our fans, where Mayhem we had to convince people. Which was a good thing – that’s why we did the Mayhem – just to get out to new fans that would never come to our headlining shows. And I think it worked out good, because as you could see on this show – a lot of the venues had sold out, so I think the Mayhem was a good choice.

amondaze1 _375What was it like touring Slayer and what was Jeff Hanneman like?
Touring with Slayer – that was like a dream come true for us because we’re big Slayer fans. We didn’t really talk that much to Hanneman though – we didn’t see them that much. They’d come late to the show, play the show, and then take off again to the hotel. The only guy that would hang around is Kerry King – that’s the only guy that we really talked to more than the others. I can’t say really much about (Jeff Hanneman’s) personality, but just I’m happy and proud to be able to tour with him before he passed away.

When you look back on the first two albums – Once Sent From the Golden Hall and The Avenger – what do you think of them now?
We’ve grown as a band and it’s a completely different story today. We’re still proud of our old albums, even though you can see right now, we don’t really play much of those songs live because they’re not as good as the songs today. Our fan base is built on maybe the last five albums – it’s a part of our history and we’re still proud of those albums – even though I like the new ones better.

What do you think has kept this lineup of Amon Amarth together for over 15 years?
I’ve been asked that question many times, and I really don’t have a good answer. I think it’s a matter of our personalities – we work together in a good way – all of us are kind of easy going – we have the same goals and the same focus. There’s never really been any fights within the band – even though we’ve been touring very much and we live almost on top of each other. We’ve been able to be friends even though it’s sometimes much if you’re on the road for two months. Then you get some time off and everybody goes to their own places and we don’t really meet for a month or two – just to get away from each other – otherwise we’d probably kill each other.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do once you get back home from this tour?
Of course, straight after this tour we will do the Australian part, so we have a few weeks left. But once we get back home, I’m just going to relax and be with my family and just take it easy and not do very much at all. Whatever hobbies I have at home – I’m going to focus on them.

Do you have any message for Amon Amarth fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
I hope you saw the show! Otherwise we’ll hopefully be back soon again if you miss it. We’re gonna continue to kick ass!

Amon Amarth is:
Johan Hegg – vocals
Ted Lundström – bass
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Fredrik Andersson – drums

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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The Metal Avengers of Stormwarrior

stormwarrior_sw2014Stormwarrior unleash true heavy metal of the highest order, the type of glorious anthems that make you want to take on the world.   Thunder & Steele is their fifth raging magnum opus, now available worldwide from the defenders of metal over at Massacre Records.  We recently conducted an interview with guitarist Alex Guth to find out more about their stunning new album, dynamic live shows, performing in the States, beer of choice, and other grand and noble topics of interest.  Let us face the mighty metal avengers now…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Stormwarrior, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Alex, I am one of two guitar players out of the band. I joined Stormwarrior in 2005, whereas the band itself exists since 1998.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
We are based in Hamburg, Germany. We have quite a few iconic bands which emerged here, like Helloween, Running Wild, Gamma Ray and Iron Savior. The local scene today is much smaller though today, which is strange since we are supposed to be the second largest city in Germany. Of course the above mentioned bands still exist and still do records and tours. It seems to be circling around itself however, with not much new up-and-coming bands joining that circle. I guess we ourselves are more the youngsters here, haha.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Thunder & Steele?
We wanted to capture the spirit of our early albums and combine it with the catchy material from our younger releases. So you probably can think about it as a kind of “best-of” material but with new songs if you want. Of course the album title had to sum it all up as well. So we ended up having our “thunder” aspect in our northern mythological and historical elements and the “steele” part in our way of living and breathing Heavy Metal.

Select two songs from Thunder & Steele and what inspired the lyrics.
In the title track we went through all our albums and different periods and quoted some lines and titles of important songs to have the whole Stormwarrior picture in one song.
Child of Fyre” is about all of us who had a hard moments in their life and who sometimes just need to know that we are not alone. There are always people around sharing the same background and visions so there is no need to give up or something like that. Just keep on fighting!

thunderwarriror1Who did the artwork for Thunder & Steele and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork on “Thunder & Steele” was done by Felipe Machado, who also did stuff for Blind Guardian, Rage and Jorn. Yenz knew him through his involvement with Iron Savior and Felipe had already done some cool artworks for them in the past. Since our previous cover artist Uwe Karczewski was not available at the time, Yenz threw in the idea asking Felipe about the artwork for “Thunder & Steele”. I think Yenz and Lars came up with the concept of the cover, discussed it with Felipe and he then went from there. It turned out pretty cool if you ask me!

How does Thunder & Steele compare to the previous Stormwarrior releases?
We are more on point with “Thunder & Steele”. With the previous one, “Heathen Warrior”, we had the urge to experiment more with our sound and our way of songwriting. It ended up being a complex record, which missed the drive of the early releases. That was good doing that however, as you need an outlet like that being an artist. This time however, we wanted something more straight-in-your-face, and I think we achieved that pretty well. Also, I think the new album shows quite well how mature we are as musicians, without missing the spirit we had in the early days. “Thunder & Steele” is the best of both worlds, so to speak.

When looking back on the early Remedy Records releases, what do you think of them now?
The first release I was featured on was the “At Foreign Shores” live album, which was the last offering with Remedy Records. So I can only judge the other albums with Remedy from an outside perspective, but still I like them a lot. The first one is cool because of the aggressive sound and the whole “fuck you” attitude which was attached to it. Then, “Northern Rage” has a very good production and features some of my favorite Stomwarrior songs. It is still state of the art really!

What could one expect from a live Stormwarrior show in 2014?
Of course we will promote the new album with some songs but we will have a good overview about our different creative periods with us as well. Depending on the playing time and the length of the set list, we sometimes need to arrange a medley version of some older songs that we just cannot leave out. But that works as well and gives you the chance to have more songs in the show to party with.

Has Stormwarrior ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?If so, what was the experience like?
Yes, we played Progpower in Atlanta about three years ago. It was great playing there, although traveling there was pretty exhausting. We got to meet cool people at Progpower, and everything was very well organized. They even had a back-up guitar ready for me on stage which I actually ended up playing because it was so much better than my guitar I brought, haha. We hope to come back someday to the US, it’s a great country and it would be cool doing a bunch of shows again on American soil.

What was it like playing at Bang Your Head with Slayer and did you get to hang out with them or Jeff Hanneman at all?
Unfortunately we missed Slayer as they played on a different day as far as I remember. Actually our memories of the festival are not our best ones as we had a pretty long and rough travel to the festival and ended up being a little stressed on stage. In general it is a great festival and a beautiful landscape surrounding the festival area, but as I said it was not our best day there due to the stressful traveling.

Any strange or scary happenings while on the road or at a show?
Hmm, actually we had no real disastrous moments on stage or the road so far, so I guess we should be thankful for that, haha. No tripping on stage, no shit pants, no exploding amps. Maybe we should provoke something so we have some more interesting stories to tell here, haha.

Germany is famous for their BEER!!!  What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
Actually my favorite beer is a polish one! Its name is Tyskie. This might be due to my family bonds to Poland however, but Tyskie is really tasteful, not too bitter but strong enough. By now, there are even some stores here in Germany selling it because of the large polish community living here. If I had to go with a strictly german beer I think I would go with something like Warsteiner or even more locally bound to Hamburg, Groeninger.

What is it you’€™d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Thunder & Steele for the very first time?
I hope the listener will think of the record as “one heavy and great piece of genuine heavy metal” and that all the melodies will immediately burn into his head forever!

What’s up next for Stormwarrior?
We will be going on tour here in Europe together with Majesty and Wisdom in about two weeks. This should be pretty cool. There are some more tours and festivals we are in talks with right now, so check back often with for the latest news.

Any final words of wisdom?
Thanks to everyone for supporting Stormwarrior! Hope to see you at a show somewhere someday, until then: Be strong, be proud, and stay metal!

Stormwarrior is:
Lars Ramcke – Vocals & Guitar
Alex Guth – Guitar
Yenz Leonhardt – Bass & Backing Vocals
Jörg Uken – Drums & Backing Vocals

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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August Burns Red: Backstage at Club Nokia

augustburnsdaze1_350xAugust Burn Red recently concluded a cross country headlining tour, making a stop at Club Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles.  Sonic devastation would ensue, as August Burn Red performed songs from their recently released Rescue & Restore endeavor as well as other classics from their various albums.  Prior to the show, we caught up with bassist Dustin Davidson backstage for an exclusive interview.  Read on as we discuss their new album, life on the road and how it affects girlfriends and wives, which member of the band is currently single, their unique Christmas album, and other topics of intrigue.  And now presenting the one and only Dustin Davidson…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in August Burns Red, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD?
I’m Dustin Davidson, I play bass for August Burns Red. I’m not really embarrassed by it, but I guess I would say some early Jackson 5 stuff. I don’t have any Justin Bieber. I was trying to think if I had Justin Bieber, but I don’t. I like Michael Jackson – I’m a Michael Jackson fan. Some people might be like, really? He’s in a metal band and he likes Michael Jackson? But I can’t really think of any embarrassing stuff off the top of my head.

How does a tour like this compare to the Vans Warped Tour, which you’ve done twice?
Oh, man! There’s a lot of differences! They’re both really cool! People always ask me, do you like playing festivals outside like Warped Tour or do you like in clubs? And it’s hard to answer that question, because it’s so different. At Warped you only get to play 35 minutes at most if you’re on the Main Stage like we were. And when we play in a club, the sky’s the limit so you could play as long as you want. This set we’re doing tonight is like 15 songs – like an hour and 15 minutes – to me, that makes it more fun. I can get out there – I could play a long set – kids can hear some songs they’re not gonna hear – because when you’re playing for 35 minutes, you gotta pick the most popular songs – you can’t play the deep cuts on the record. And another thing, this is our first tour where we’ve done a programmed light show – we have a lighting guy as well for the first time. When you come see us in a club, it’s a different feeling – it’s a different vibe. I tend to like that better – it looks better –it sounds better being inside most of the time. Warped Tour is fun, but playing in a club and being able to play that extra-long set is more fun to me.

abrnokia1_350xHow does Rescue & Restore compare to your previous releases?
I like to think of each record as like a progression. Some records are bigger than others. On Rescue & Restore, we always try to do things different. The first track on the record – Provision – is in B. So we experimented with some different tunings on the record – there’s a couple songs on the record in B – there’s one that’s in like C-sharp standard. I personally see Rescue & Restore as a darker sounding album. And I think Provision is the best opening track we could have, because it really set the pace for the record. From what I’m hearing, kids seem to like it more than Leveler, which is great – because I was super stoked on Leveler when it came out. And when we did Rescue & Restore, I was like “Aw, okay” and then it really grew on me – it really did, the lyrics and everything – after listening to it when it was done and hearing it come together. Because in the writing stages, you’re just practicing with four dudes in the basement and you don’t get to hear how it’s going to sound until you get into that studio and start recording it – and that’s when it came together for me. And I was like, “Okay, this is good! I like this!”

At this point, would you consider August Burns Red to be a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
We are a Christian band. We are Christian dudes in a band more so than saying we are a Christian band. Because me personally, I’m not here to shove anything down anybody’s throat – that’s not the kind of band we are. We’re not here to say “This is what we believe in and you should believe in that.” That’s never been us – but we want people to know that we are Christian.

Can all this touring wreak havoc when it comes to girlfriends or wives?
(Laughs) You know what – a couple of our guys are married. JB is getting married. Brent is married and just had a kid – so that’s getting interesting. It’s going well. And then Matt’s talking to a girl. I’m the only one that’s single, so it’s funny that you’re talking to me (about it).  I’m 25 – I’m enjoying my life. It’s hard to get to know somebody when you’re on the road and when you’re not at home. Me personally, I don’t want to try to get to know somebody when I’m not there. Say I met somebody right before this tour – I’m like “It’s good to know you. I’m out. See you in like 6-7 weeks!” So yeah, it’s really difficult – but everybody seems to do it well. So I’m just waiting for that day…

abrlive2_350xHow does your singer feel about being left out of the Christmas album Sleddin’ Hill?
(Laughs) I mean, all the melodies for the singing parts are on the guitar. We wanted to make a record that didn’t have to have screaming on it. I feel like those Christmas songs sound awesome the way they are. And that’s the way it’s always been for us. We did Carol Of The Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Little Drummer Boy – and all those songs didn’t have vocals and no one ever really complained. The cool thing that I saw was people would do vocals on YouTube – they’d post a video of the song and they would scream their vocals over it. But it’s just something we never really wanted to do – is to put screaming on a Christmas song – and my grandparents say thank you for that!
If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’m just going to say Jimmy Eat World. I thought of that because there’s a poster in the hallway and I just saw that. They are one of my favorite bands. And again – it’s kind of weird for somebody to think “he plays in a metal band – why does he like Jimmy Eat World –why does he like John Mayer – why does he have Michael Jackson on his IPOD?“ You get sick and tired of listening to metal all of the time – and I like all styles of music – except for country. I would say Jimmy Eat World – they’re one of my favorite bands. We’re actually doing Soundwave this year, and they just announced that they’re doing it as well. Jimmy Eat World would be an awesome band to open up for. It’s a different genre of music too, so it would be kind of weird, but who knows…

What’s up next for you guys in the New Year?
We have off after this tour up until January 20th or so. Then we head over the U.K. We missed the U.K. on this last European tour that we just did, so we’re doing a very extensive U.K. tour – I think it’s like 14 shows which is pretty unheard of for us. I’m excited because we’re going back to Ireland –I haven’t been there since 2009 so I’m really excited to go to Dublin to check it out again – and Belfast. It will be cool to see the U.K. in that way. And then we leave right after that to go to Soundwave – so it’s like you gotta pack for winter and at the same time you gotta pack for summer – because you go from the U.K where it’s cold to Australia where it’s their summer time. That’s a first for us to do Soundwave, so I’m very excited to do that. After that, we don’t have anything set in stone – we’re talking about things and figuring it out – but we’ll be around.

Any messages for August Burns Red fans who are reading this right now?
Thank you for your support! We couldn’t do this without you.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Edward Brandon)

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Editor Ken’s Top 10 of 2013

highwire_top10_2013This was actually a difficult year to put together a Top 10 of Music.  So many good releases arrived upon the scene.  Their were thrilling comebacks such as Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and The Ocean Blue.  A ton of newer bands presented impressive debut recordings as well, some of which are featured in this list.  What is really stunning are some of the releases that did not make my Top 10 – a few which had been sure things all the way up until the last quarter of the year.  I may look on the list a year from now and wonder just what the hell I was thinking, but all in all, these are definitely bands and artists I stand by 100 percent.

This year, instead of alphabetical order, I have these albums and EP’s listed in order of preference.  13 by Black Sabbath definitely tops the list of the full length albums while Lucky by Arrica Rose defines the pure definition of timeless music from one of the most intriguing singer / songwriters on the Los Angeles music scene today.  And so here was have it, Editor Ken’s Top 10 picks of 2013…

The Top Ten Full Length CD’s of 2013

blacksabbath1313 by Black Sabbath (Vertigo/Republic Records)
The event release of the year was certainly 13 by the iconic Black Sabbath – one of the most anticipated albums of 2013 that definitely lived up to the hype. Their first studio recording since the much maligned Forbidden in 1995, 13 unleashes the intensity and finds Sabbath at the very height of their creative genius. End Of The Beginning, God Is Dead?, and Dear Father and amongst the cuts leaving lasting impressions on the listener. A staggering comeback for a band whose influences on music in general go far and wide! Original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler are joined by drummer Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine, and the result are nothing short of legendary.  (Info:

havnatt1Etterlatte by Havnatt (Secret Quarters)
Havnatt is the exceptional neofolk collaboration of vocalist Cecilie Langlie and guitarist Tom Simonsen, whose other heavier projects include the likes of Omit and Vagrant God. Last year, Havnatt’s superb debut Havdøgn was released through the Secret Quarters label, receiving a good deal of worldwide acclaim. Starting out as a work commissioned by the family of the late Norwegian author Tormod Skagestad, Havnatt has risen into a thriving entity well worth seeking out. Etterlatte is the name of their brand new full length, an astounding masterwork of sheer artistry once again featuring the vibrant writings of the noted Skagestad. Etterlatte is epic and ambitious, while retaining an intimacy that will sweep even the most cynical music critic off their feet and into an extraordinary state of tranquility.  (Info:

bowienextday1The Next Day by David Bowie (Columbia Records)
For those who thought the iconic David Bowie had retired, The Next Day proved to be a vibrant jolt to the senses. His 24th studio album shows Bowie at his most innovative and compelling. From the icy aloofness found within the dazzling The Stars Are Out Tonight, the dark and subversive title cut The Next Day, the exquisite I’d Rather Be High and beyond, Bowie has masterminded a staggering collection of sonic reveries. Repeated listening is absolutely required to fully appreciate the glorious mystique and grand artistry of The Next Day. The cover is sheer genius, the name of the album obscuring the legendary Heroes artwork. While masking triumphs of the past, Bowie turns to what’s left of the future, presenting fans with his most intriguing work since his days creating the famed Berlin trilogy with Brian Eno.  (Info:

motorheadaftershock1Aftershock by Motörhead (UDR Music)
The almighty Motörhead saga continues with an all-out vengeance, as the legendary band strikes back with their 21st magnum opus to date entitled Aftershock. Rumbling like a tremendously lethal earthquake through your unsuspecting speakers, Aftershock is sure to be remembered as a standout amongst the already classic Motörhead albums. In a genre all of their own, Motörhead was one of the very first bands to combine metal with a punk rock aesthetic, and the years gone by only serve to make them an even more deadly assault force to be reckoned with. From the opening strains of the pulsating Heartbreaker, one finds Lemmy and Company in tiptop form, ready to grab you by the throat and toss your ass into the nearest mosh pit.  (Info:

ultramarineUltramarine by The Ocean Blue (Korda Records)
The melancholic romanticisms of The Ocean Blue have returned after a decade of hibernation in the form of Ultramarine. America’s glorious answer to bands such as The Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, The Ocean Blue present spiraling melodies and sweeping lyrical sentiments that will envelope the senses. From the rocking strains of Give It A Try, the wistful Sad Night, Where Is Morning? and on, the Hershey, PA collective bestow upon the indie pop world 12 gorgeous tracks that will rapturous linger within the listener for the ages to come. A glorious return combining elements of the past while looking ahead to the future, with Ultramarine, The Ocean Blue has clearly released their most fully realized effort to date. Pure sonic bliss!  (Info:

valiskogsSkogslandskap by Vàli (Auerbach Tonträger / Prophecy Productions)
Vàli is a Norwegian composer whose instrumental folk tapestries are enchanting to behold. Relaxing and cinematic, the 15 tracks contained within send the listener on a journey through the sentimental and the obscure. A fragrant potion of acoustic guitar, keyboards and cello, the composer Vàli will sweep you off your feet, and into state of absolute bliss. Fans of acts such as Empyrium and Neun Welten are sure to delight in what Vàli has to offer, while all other adventurous music aficionados looking for a masterwork of imagination and intrigue should roam through the sonic halls of Skogslandskap as well. From the gorgeous opening strains of Nordavindens Klagesang, the Skogslandskap experience is sure to captivate the senses and set your imagination in flight.  (Info:

InDarknessbyAgathodaimonIn Darkness by Agathodaimon (Massacre Records)
Based out of Germany, Agathodaimon has always been known to mesh bleak artistic visions with a dynamic intensity, coming up with exquisite compositions destined to burn deep within your soul. In Darkness is their sixth glorious magnum opus, an intriguing collection of songs showing the band at the very height of their creative genius. The disc opens with the stunning refrains of In Darkness (We Shall Be Reborn), a staggering anthem that is destined to become a genre classic. I’ve Risen is glorious and haunting, a gorgeously symphonic reverie that will remain in your head for the metal ages to come. Going well beyond what is expected in the Black Metal genre, In Darkness by Agathodaimon is nothing short of a masterpiece that is sure to inspire all who encounter its richly rewarding tapestries.  (Info:

StrangersOnlybyMyTicketHomeStrangers Only by My Ticket Home (Rise Records)
My Ticket Home has been through dramatic changes since To Create A Cure, their standout debut for Rise Records. The band has returned with a phenomenal second effort that will enrapture many and even puzzle a more than a few longtime fans. While the metalcore underscore is apparent, on Strangers Only, My Ticket Home has taken a trip into the vast terrains of nu-metal. If this was released at the height of the genre craze, Strangers Only would be up there with album favorites by stalwarts such as Snot, Adema, even the early innovations of Korn. One listen to Strangers Only, and you’ll clearly see that My Ticket Home is fully engaged in their new found sound (which they cleverly call “puke rock”), and the results are vastly impressive. Raging tracks include Painfully Bored, Hot Soap, and Keep Alone.  (Info:

trynottodestroyeverythingyoulove2Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love by An Autumn For Crippled Children (Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum)
Based out of the Netherlands, An Autumn For Crippled Children present music as intense as it is enigmatic. Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love is their fourth shimmering magnum opus, with spiraling melodies and harsh vocalizations reeling the listener in to the bleakness at hand. Those into the shoegazing tapestries of bands such as Ride and Catherine Wheel will surely thrill to the lavish soundscapes at hand while black metal enthusiasts will revel within the grim lyrical entreaties. As depressive as the title would indicate, Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love will linger within your psyche long after the disc spins to its dazzling conclusion. With breathtaking melodies and vocals that penetrate the soul, this gripping masterwork is destined to an all-out underground classic for the ages.  (Info:

outcastspalisades2Outcasts by Palisades (Rise Records)
Come to me, in your time of need, when you’re all alone, and there’s no one to run to,” is the opening call to arms on Outcasts, the stunning debut full length from Palisades of New Jersey. Raising the bar tremendously on their full-length debut for Rise Records, Outcasts is an uncompromising, passionate work destined to garner the band a good deal of attention. Their previous EP I’m Not Dying Today brimmed with promise and conviction, and with Outcasts, Palisades is ready to hit the big leagues in a glorious way. Adding a decidedly electronic edge to their devastating post hardcore inflections, there is certainly a good deal to admire about the advancement of the band’s already intensive sound. A work of breathtaking proportions from a band we’ll be a hearing a lot more of in future days.  (Info:

The Top Ten EP’s of 2013

luckyarrica1Lucky by Arrica Rose & the …’s (Poprock Records)
Arrica Rose is one of L.A.’s best kept secrets when it comes to vastly underrated singer / songwriters. And on Lucky, Ms. Rose and her band explore dream pop territory, and whisk the listener away on an intimate journey that they’ll want to revisit time and again. Whether it’s the spiraling chorus of “welcome to the future” from the magnetic I Wasn’t Done Dancing or the torchy refrains of Without My Love, Arrica Rose delivers wistful lyrics and vibrant melodies that aim straight for the heart. Why Arrica Rose isn’t a household name by now is the greatest mystery of all, but those who discover the vast treasures found within the short but very sweet Lucky will surely encounter the richest of musical rewards.  (Info:

stardogchamp1Exhale by Stardog Champion (Self-released EP)
Longtime fans of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania music scene will think they have hit the mother lode of heavy rock when encountering the stunning compositions of Stardog Champion. Combine two ex-members of Breaking Benjamin with the charismatic ex-vocalist of Lifer and The Drama Club – add a kick ass drummer into the mix – and you’ve suddenly stumbled upon one of the very best rock and roll bands to come out of the States in a very long time. Exhale is their debut recording, a colossal five song EP that will leave the listener absolutely breathless. If you like inspiring rock and roll performed with passion and conviction, then Stardog Champion is sure become a massive winner in your music collection.  (Info:

bluesbright1Bright Lights by The Blues And Greys (Wednesday Records)
The Blues And Greys is an indie rock collective from Santa Barbara, California whose soaring tunes and expressive lyrics will surely garner a good deal of notice. Fronted by the luminous vocal inflections of Lindsey Waldon, The Blues And Greys channel such classic acts as The Ocean Blue and The Cranberries, while maintaining their own unique visions with their phenomenally vibrant compositions. Bright Lights EP is a stunning introduction, consisting of five gorgeous tracks whose spiraling melodies and infectious choruses will remain in your head long after the disc spins to its conclusion. Less than 20 minutes in length, the Bright Lights EP is a striking first effort with a fascinating lead vocalist and timeless songs that are absolutely captivating.  (Info:

rebelreviveep3XI (Eleven) by Rebel Revive (Self-released EP)
Based out of the music metropolis known as The OC in Southern California, Rebel Revive is a pop rocking project that you’ll be hearing a lot more about in future days. The mastermind behind Rebel Revive is Matthew Lindblad, former guitarist for New Years Day (Hollywood Waste / Century Media Records). And while Rebel Revive may find themselves amongst the unsigned, do not expect that status to linger on, especially if their debut EP XI (Eleven) is indicative of things to come. Songs such as The Voices and Nameless Faceless are destined to place Rebel Revive on the radar. XI (Eleven) is a glorious debut from a massively talented artist whose timeless songs will make you fall blissfully in love with pop rock once again.  (Info:

letitunravel1Unravel by Let It Happen (InVogue Records)
Fans of Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line need to rejoice right now, because Let It Happen has arrived onto the scene and they are on fire! With lethally heartfelt lyrics and spirited choruses, the six songs found within Unravel will surely leave an impact on all music aficionados. Unravel is Let It Happen’s debut for Invogue Records, and its destined to bring the Cincinnati, Ohio collective a good deal of attention. Their previous self-released effort It Hurts, But It’s Worth It was vastly underrated, seething with a ton of ambition and promise. Now with the dynamic Unravel, expect Let It Happen to catapult into the big leagues. Unravel only contain six songs, but may easily be counted as one of the very best pop rock releases of the year.  (Info:

beartoothsick2Sick by Beartooth (Red Bull Records)
After departing from the highly successful Attack Attack!, Caleb Shomo spent time battling his own personal demons as well as working on what would be the debut of a brand new entity entitled Beartooth. Sick is the debut EP from Beartooth, a wildly cathartic, deeply emotional effort that lunges straight for the throat. Defining their genre as simply “Loud,” it’s impossible not to be moved by tracks such as the hard hitting I Have A Problem and the triumphant Go Be The Voice. A powerful work from an artist who’s been through hell and back, and ready to share his visions with the world at large. It will be exciting to hear what the full length debut Disgusting will be like when unleashed sometime next year.  (Info:

theillusionoftrad2The Illusion of Choice by This Romantic Tragedy (Self-released EP)
Although membership changes and record label problems have plagued This Romantic Tragedy over the years, the Las Vegas based collective relentless march on. Their follow-up to Reborn has finally been issued – entitled The Illusion of Choice, this self-released EP shows This Romantic Tragedy at the height of their artistry, presenting five post hardcore anthems destined to gain the band a good deal of attention. Clearly proving a record label need not to be a factor when presenting your work to the world at large, This Romantic Tragedy may indeed be doing it the hard way – but judging by what’s heard on The Illusion of Choice, this path just may work out best – for now at least, because indie EP’s like The Illusion of Choice are they type that get bands signed!  (Info:

markroseturnaround1The Sound Of A Turnaround by Mark Rose (Self-released EP)
Best known as the front man of Spitalfield (Victory Records) for nearly a decade, singer / songwriter Mark Rose has amassed his own impressive collection of songs since the demise of his band. While most of Spitalfield’s output was fast pasted and alternative rock oriented, Rose’s solo work has been more varied and ambitious in scope. His debut full-length album Wonderful Trouble surprised many with its soulful inflections – and now on his latest EP The Sound Of A Turnaround – the artist has once again presented a sweet and vibrant musical revelation for both longtime fans and newer converts. Although The Sound Of A Turnaround is a relatively short effort, the four songs contained within are destined to leave a lasting impression upon the romantics and dreamers wandering the great big world.  (Info:

pretendersonelast1Pretenders by One Last Look (Self-released EP)
Out of the legendary Orange County music scene emerges One Last Look, a charismatic hardcore / electronica band ready to take on the music industry by storm. Their recent Pretenders EP was produced by Drew Fulk, whose own extensive credits include the likes of Motionless In White, Secrets and At The Skylines. An impassioned work of sonic art, Pretenders is a rock solid effort destined to gain the band a good deal of attention well beyond the confines of the Orange Curtain. One Last Look may be an unsigned entity, but don’t expect that status to last for long, especially if their live shows and tremendous self-released EP are indicative of greater glories ahead. Expect to find this band signed to a label before 2014 spins to an end.  (Info:

nightdemonep1Night Demon by Night Demon (Shadow Kingdom Records)
Based out of the Ventura, CA area, Night Demon present their own classic brand of heavy metal, in the grand tradition of Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. Their Self Titled EP was recently unleashed through Shadow Kingdom Records, a thrilling four song adventure destined to possess your soul with its sheer all-out intensity. The trio recently opened a few shows for the Diamond Head / Raven tour and has been invited to participate in the world renowned Keep It True Festival 2014 in Germany. The metal spell has been cast, and the world is now taking heed to the sonic calls of the Night Demon. It will be exciting to hear what manic rituals Night Demon has in store for us in 2014 and beyond…  (Info:

Top 10 Songs on 2013 (in alphabetical order)

Songs can certainly change the world.  A memorable chorus can remain in your head for ages.  In this list are some of my favorite songs of 2013.  If one single piece of music can make you feel anything at all – whether it be love, hope, hate, rage – it can live within your soul for an eternity.  Here are some of the standouts of the year. In this case, they are in alphabetical order and are all worth seeking out…

swisscot15th Avenue by Aaron Shanley
(From the album: Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses)
I stood like tourist lost on 5th Avenue, fucked up and thinking of you.” This song will rip your heart out. Irish singer / songwriter Aaron Shanley is a massive talent in the grand tradition of Elliott Smith and has recorded one of the most heart wrenching songs of the year. There is beauty is melancholy and longing.

InDarknessbyAgathodaimonIn Darkness (We Shall Be Reborn) by Agathodaimon
(From the album: In Darkness)
This is the ending – this is absolution – this is our final tomb.” Agathodaimon has unleashed a black metal classic for the ages. You’ll feel evil as hell and ready to take on the world when you encounter the track’s lethal refrains.

luckyarrica1I Wasn’t Done Dancing by Arrica Rose
(From the EP: Lucky)
Welcome to the future,” L.A. based singer / songwriter Arrica Rose sings with a sultry sense of conviction – a dream pop confection that conceals a dazzling amount of intrigue. A true stunner showing an artist at the height of her creativity.

coneyfour1Boys Club by Coney Hatch
(From the album: Four)
Live fast and you might die young. I’m born lucky, so bite your tongue.” Coney Hatch return after a lengthy absence and unleash their best album ever. Boys Club is sleaze rock in its finest hour, with monstrously catchy hooks and over the top party lyrics rendering this one a genre classic.

bowienextday1The Stars (Are Out Tonight) by David Bowie
(From the album: The Next Day)
Here they are upon the stairs, sexless and unaroused” Legendary rocker David Bowie sings about the timelessness of iconic stars and how they are perceived as immortal by us all. A song as mystical as the subject matter, this shows Bowie can still unleash the majestic hits!

echodreams1Cool Kids by Echosmith
(From the album: Talking Dreams)
I wish that I could be like the cool kids,’Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.” Echosmith spent a summer on Warped Tour, and possess a endearing indie rock quality that has plenty of mass appeal. Cool Kids is a glorious pop anthem for anyone who feels decidedly awkward and unhip.

splinter1Everything Comes Down To This by Gary Numan
(From the album: Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)
I don’t know how this is going to end, but everything comes down to this.” Classic Gary Numan: imaginative, emotionally desolate yet hard hitting. Numan treks into NIN territory once more while retaining his own bleak enigmatic visions.

exodokim1Mexico by Hanna Kim
(From the album: Exodo)
Somebody please bring me my things, I was never meant to play dead way down low.” A inspiring song about personal liberation that will linger in your mind for the years to come. If you like Norah Jones you will love Hana Kim.

cutslike1You Dream, I’ll Drive by Little River Band
(From the album: Cuts Like A Diamond)
Someday we’re gonna blow this town, And chase that old sunset down” The band that brought us classics such as Cool Change and Lonesome Loser scores big with this wistful song for the hopeless romantic in us all.

ultramarineSad Night, Where Is Morning by The Ocean Blue
(From the album: Ultramarine)
Sad night, why don’t you speak to me? What would you say? What would you think?” Where sweet melancholia and atmospheric guitars clash with vibrant results. A mesmerizing song that will sweep the listener off their feet and into a state of pure bliss.

And thus concludes Editor Ken’s wild ride through the dirty musical highways of 2013! See you all on the web and at the shows in 2014!

(Compilation by Ken Morton)


The Highwire Daze Best CD of 2013 Survey

highwire_best2013And another 12 months come spinning to a conclusion! This year, there was a lot of good music unleashed to the world at large. Before The Highwire Daze Top 10 Of The Year is published, we reach out to bands each year with this traditional inquiry:

What was your favorite CD of 2013 and why?

This year, there was no general consensus – there were no Foo Fighters, The Used, and Deftones albums dominating the minds of those who participated in the survey. However at press time, it does look like Sempiternal by Bring Me The Horizon was appearing to be a clear favorite with some of the artists who sent in responses.  In no way a scientific poll, just a random sampling of what band members have been listening to.

When you are finished reading this, be sure to add your own favorite of the year in the comment section at the conclusion of the article. And now presenting the results…

And The Bands Present Their Selections…

Arrica Rose and the ...'s

Arrica Rose and the …’s – Photo by Ken Morton

Aaron Shanley
Mojo Fury’s second album ‘The Difference Between’ just came out recently and melted my face and blew my brains out! It’s so fucking good, and so different from their first album. I totally recommend checking that out.

Arrica Rose
For me the first thing that came to mind as my favorite album release this year is Jason Isbell’s Southeastern. It was one of those records I fell for first listen and the album was soon on repeat in my home. The music, lyrics, the delivery, it all really grabbed me. I have certain tunes I especially look forward to hearing (“Stockholm“, “Elephant“) but I really appreciate and always listen to the album in its entirety which is why I’d say it’s at the top of my list.

Tony West of Blacklist Union
Black Sabbath’s new CD 13 is definitely my favorite of the year……

Gypsy Blak - Photo by Ken Morton

Gypsy Blak – Photo by Ken Morton

Gypsy Blak of BLAK
It’s a tie between U.D.O.’sSteel Hammer” & Gary Numan’sSplinter” both were amazing albums, Steel Hammer has that raw power that punches you in the face (the title track, which is also the first track starts the album off all guns blazing!), while Splinter hits you mind , body & soul. Don’t believe me? Listen to “I Am Dust“. Freakin’ amazing!!

James Drhaven of The Bleeding Desire
Avenged Sevenfold Hail to the king. It’s everything that Avenged Sevenfold is. Dueling guitar, shredding solos and powerful vocals with a catchy chorus

Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope
My favorite album is, Alice In Chains — “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.” Why? Because it’s the only album I heard all year that really got under my skin and haunted me with amazing material…Shaun Glass of Broken Hope turned me on to this album while we were on tour and I can’t stop listening to it. I’m so impressed at the quality, catchiness, and brilliance of AIC in 2013.

Christa Wells
Andrew BelleBlack Bear. I wish I’d discovered his music sooner. Andrew’s voice & sound are reminiscent of Coldplay, which is one of my favorite bands, but with a more indie solo sound. I enjoy his way with words, metaphor, and the sound/lyrics just found me where I was at over the summer. I couldn’t stop playing that album – was on repeat here and still gets lots of airtime in my house.

Phil Collen of Def Leppard

Phil Collen of Def Leppard

Phil Collen of Def Leppard
Here we go.

I really struggled buying new albums this year as they were mainly catalogue like “Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall” however I did get some singles like “Blured LinesRobin Thicke, the new STP with Chester Bennington EP and probably the only new album “Marshall Mathers Lp2Eminem.

Alexia of Eyes Set To Kill
Infestissumam by Ghost. I haven’t been stoked on a band in awhile but the lyrics on this album are catchy and the content is dark.. My favorite combination.”

Chris of Fallstar
A Day to Remember’s Common Courtesy. Why? Cause it frick’n r00led. Hard. Lots of bands change and get crappy, and lots of bands stay the same and get boring. This album they do what they have always done, but better!

Aria Yava of For All I Am
Sempiternal by Bring Me The Horizon.
Hits all elements and has great lyrics.

Tom Simonsen of Havnatt

Tom Simonsen of Havnatt

Tom Simonsen of Havnatt / Omit / Skumring / Vagrant God / Secret Quarters

To be quite honest, I haven’t really been listening to too many releases from 2013 yet, as I have a huge backlog of things I want to listen to. Some of what I’ve been listening to and enjoying lately are 2012 releases, like the excellent “Horrorscension” EP from “Behold… The Arctopus“.

However, I have enjoyed at least one album from 2013. One that stands out – and one which musical expression bears a slight resemblance to the aforementioned Horrorscension EP – is “Into the Void of Fear” by “Octopus“. This is math metal with fairly obvious fusion jazz and free jazz influences, played with machine-like accuracy. The always excellent Morgan Ågren (probably one of the best drummers around) is playing the drums on this one. That alone should be enough to seek this one out and give it a listen. The overall production of the album is good, but perhaps a bit too compressed for my taste. The tracks work really well, nevertheless.

Orion Stephens of In Dying Arms
For 2013 I’m going to have to give it to my boys in FFAK (Fit For A King) – Creation Destruction. If I’m ever in a mood to go off or just get hype for the day I turn this record on as loud as I possibly can. I honestly wasn’t into many records this year. If i had to choose some follow ups I’d give it to TesseracT and BMTH’s new record. I was blown away with the consistency of these records. Thanks for your time!

letithappencdyear1_1Sean Highley of Let It Happen
My favorite album of 2013 is by far Paramore’s S/T record. They went outside of the box and challenged themselves to write an amazing record, even with the loss of a main songwriter.

The songs have such depth, and great production. Overall this record is really an entire work and not just a bunch of singles.

Paramore has always been my favorite band, and I can’t wait to hear what they put out next!

Tyler of Lion I Am
Really enjoyed the new Our Last Night CD.

Cory Fay of Monsters Scare You
For me the best album of 2013 would be Sempiternal by Bring Me The Horizon. I’ve been a fan since my buddy showed me Count Your Blessings while we were doing court mandated community service haha. They’re sound has evolved and changed but to me for the better, a lot of bands take risks or change for the wrong reasons and mess it up but they nailed it. It’s heavy as fuck but has melodies that you love singing along to.

Narrow Hearts
Our favorite CD of 2013 is our good buddies in The Color Morale. “KNOW HOPE“. Know hope is a movement, not just a CD.



Antonio Pucciarelli (NUDE)
I could say ANATHEMAUniversal” DVD. It’s a great album, great sound, great atmospheres and as we played live with them in their show in Salerno, I could say you that all the wonderful facts and sounds you see and hear on this DVD are present in each single show they play. A great band indeed and a great album for sure.

Tommy Box (NUDE’s voice)
An album that I have listened frequently this year is White LiesBig TV“. Inside their sound there is post-punk, electronic and dance full of appealing and melodic voice…that’s why I consider it a great rock-pop album!

Geremy Andreaco of One Year Later
My favorite CD of ’13 was definitely “Sempiternal” by Bring Me the Horizon. The album showed some big steps in the band’s maturing and where they were planning to take music in the future and I love it. It sounds so big and epic, can’t tell you how many times I hit the repeat button on this one.

Jesse Barton, The Persevering Promise
My favorite record of 2013 is Silverstein’sThis Is How The Wind Shifts. The reason I picked this record is because yet again Silverstein made another incredible record; branching out a bit in their guitar work and stepping up their production, but still retaining everything that makes them Silverstein.. 5 out of 5 stars.

Pinkish Black

Pinkish Black

Daron of Pinkish Black
Vulgar Fashion Krystal Tearz, I’ve never heard music that made me want to dance before this album.

Jon of Pinkish Black
I would go with Oranssi Pazuzu -”Valonielu“. Haunting, original and unlike any other band to me.

Jason Hartless of Pistol Day Parade
“My favorite Album that came out in 2013 would have to be “Sound City – Real to Reel” from Dave Grohl’s Documentary “Sound City“….. What made this album so great is that the amount of legendary musicians that were included on this playing all together is something that I think is marvelous….. On top of the amazing track of Sir. Paul McCartney playing with the surviving members of Nirvana, the whole recorded was recorded on the former Neve recording council that was once housed at Sound City Recording Studio in LA that so many Legendary albums were made on!”

Restless Streets
Our pick is “Full Of War” by Conditions

Rane Matthew – Reviver
My favorite CD of the year would be Dayseeker’sWhat It Means To Be Defeated
They’re have been a ton of great CD’s that have come out this year, especially from bands that have been totally dominating the scene for years. But WIMTBD really struck because of how young the band is, and how strong their debut album is. After the first time hearing it, I couldn’t and still can’t stop listening to it. Their live performance is incredible, and makes the CD that much better for me (:

Set To Reflect

Set To Reflect

Tony McVaney of Set To Reflect
The record I’ve spun the most this year is Bring Me The Horizon’s Sempiternal. Not only do I think it’s this year’s most well written album, I’ve also read up a lot of how it was produced and from what I’ve gathered, these guys did everything to make sure this was something special and I believe they did just that. It’s inspired me and gave me a feeling of satisfaction that I haven’t felt from a record in very long time.
Great job guys, can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Kedar of Sleepers Awake
Kedar’s thoughts on Pelagial (which we all share): “The Ocean’s Pelagial is just unfathomable (see what I did there?), it’s so good. Our drummer says it makes him instantly erect. I’m debating on whether or not to tell his wife. Of course, you expect The Ocean to put out a progressive masterpiece but Pelagial just nails it – the technicality, the artistry, the lyrics, the range, the production and especially the songcraft. Granted we’re a prog band too, so an epic concept album that explores the words “heavy” and “deep” across a spectrum is right in our goldilocks zone. And it makes you feel the concept deeply; I’ve never had music make me feel so tense like Signals of Anxiety (Abyssopelagic II) does. This is an album I aspire to create. Runner up: Carcass’ Surgical Steel… just listen to the first 5 seconds of the album and it becomes readily apparent how much ass it’s going to kick.”



Tim King “Soil”
Carcass “Surgical Steel” I have long time death metal roots from my days in Oppressor. Carcass was one of my favorite bands back in the day and the comeback album is just awesome from start to finish. True death metal played the way it should be. It puts all these new school bands to shame!!!!

Nick Coyle of Stardog Champion
I would have to say my favorite CD of ’13 would have to be One RepublicNative. I know, I know your readers are gonna say “what a fuckin pussy!”….hahaha! But god damn Ryan Tedder can write a tune. Give it a listen with an open mind and you will see what I mean.

Sydney of Stereo Jane
Demons by Imagine Dragons, the production is amazing and the songs are super catchy.

Jared Cole of Surrender the Fall
–It’s a concept album. Killer storyline & some of the most amazingly written music I’ve ever heard. I love it when bands step outside the box. Unconventional lyric content, unconventional riffs, subject matter…even down to the vocals playing a bigger part in production, far past just lyrical. I’ve listened to this record more than any other this year.

Telle of The Word Alive - Photo by Edward Brandon

Telle Smith of The Word Alive – Photo by Edward Brandon

Tim Hatten
Mayday ParadeMonsters In The Closet. Literally feels like emotion put into song.

Telle Smith of The Word Alive
Nothing Was The Same” by Drake. Admittedly I never imagined in a thousand years I would ever even like a Drake record, but I can’t stop listening to it and I can’t stop singing along. It’s been probably my most played record of 2013 so I felt I needed to make this declaration.


Be sure to check back on December 18th when Highwire Daze Online releases our Ten Best CD’s and EP’s of 2013 Lists.  Are any of these on our list?

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s survey!

(List Compiled by Ken Morton – Top 10 Banner Design by Yannick dAssignies)


Book of Love: The Next Glorious Chapter

susanbookofdaze1Book of Love burst onto the scene in the late 80′s, presenting the world at large with synth pop classics such as I Touch Roses, Boy, Enchanted, and many other notable classics.  Their legacy consisted of four albums, a greatest hits package, and many vivid memories and tunes that have stood the test of time.  The band recently reformed, performing a handful of live shows in the Southern California area.  We caught up with lead vocalist Susan Ottaviano at Los Globos in Silverlake just prior to their sold out performance to find out more about the next glorious chapter from Book of Love, what the various members have been up to since the breakup, touring with Depeche Mode, and other topics of interest.  Read on…

At what point did you all decide to all get back together, reform Book of Love, and do these California shows?
It’s been a little bit of a domino’s kind of thing. Michael got us interested in doing a show – then we did a show – and then we were thinking that maybe we’d like to do another show – and then when we were getting some shows together, we thought we’d maybe like to try and start to work on new music. It sort of all led to now and we’re here! We have some things coming up – and it’s been fun.

How has it been to start playing these old Book of Love songs again?
Sometimes I forget the words, but hopefully today that won’t happen. But it’s been great – it’s been fun to do it again. Starting to get going from a full stop can be a little hard, but it’s been an adventure and it’s been fun to do.

What is the new material like you’ve been writing?
We’re been working on some new material. We only have like one song ready tonight – and we are working on a variety of things. I think we’re just starting to do what we always did best – write Book of Love songs and make the music we like and hopefully other people will enjoy it as well.

susanbookof1Depeche Mode recently played out here. What was it like when you opened for Depeche Mode back in the 90’s and do you still keep in touch with them?
Actually, Ted was at the show in New York a couple of weeks ago. It was a great experience for us. We didn’t have very much live experience when we started to go on the tours. And we just kind of really learned from the ground up. We really learned so much about touring and I think we really would become a good live band because of it. We got to see the world. It was a really positive experience! At the time, who would have thought that they would become this super group of this type of music in general? There were a lot of bands that were more famous than them at that point, but I think Depeche Mode really stood the test of time – and they really became a super group. And they did it in such a great way – their music has always had a certain integrity and they kept up that quality.

When you look at the final Book of Love album Lovebubble, what do you think of it now?
I think of it as like the music was changing – we were changing – we were trying to figure out how to work together – and I think it was a polite album where we just tried to be considerate of each other and work together – but I don’t think it really works as a whole. I’m proud that we did that when we were able to do it. Especially now that we’re writing again – you kind of have to get in the trenches to do some good stuff – and I think at that point, we weren’t sure “what” we were doing – and music was changing. I respect what we were going through at the time, but I don’t think it’s our best work. There’s a couple of good things on it.

After the breakup, did you still keep in touch with each other?
Yeah, we really did. We all still live in New York. Definitely for a divorce, we worked on it pretty well. As in all good divorces, we were respectful of each other when we were breaking up, and I think that’s what led to us being able to get back together – that we didn’t burn the bridges with each other – and that’s nice to know. And it’s good advice for a divorce. I hope my other divorce works out as well…

tedbookof1I was reading on Wikipedia you are now a Food Stylist. How did that come about?
I have an art school background. And when I was looking for another career, I had friends that were art directors. And I was going back to painting and doing a variety of things. And I cook – that was a real passion – and I just didn’t think that was something I could do – I didn’t want to work in a restaurant kind of thing. And then (one my my friends) got me involved it in and I love it! Because it’s really a combination of making pictures, and you’re making all the food and you’re working with photographers. Actually there’s a lot of ex-rock stars that do styling, because it’s a very eclectic kind of profession. You come from a lot of influences – David Yarritu – he was in ABC – he’s a big set stylist and things like that. So it’s kind of an interesting place, because you’re doing a little bit of everything – and I think that’s sort of what being in a band is like.

What did you think of Doubleplusgood (One of Ted’s side projects during Book of Love)?
They’re great! I’m a big fan of Ted’s, so I’ve always liked all the work that he’s done. The most recent project that Ted (and Lauren) worked on – The Myrmidons – I think is pretty flawless. It’s great to be able to work with him again.

Lauren has an acting career going on. Have you seen any of her films?
Sure, of course. When we saw Silence of The Lambs, it’s very exciting to see someone you know well in a movie. When she was in Philadelphia, she was sitting next to Denzel Washington and a few other people – and you’re like, “What is Lauren doing there?” When you know someone very well, it’s just fun to see. But she knew Jonathan Demme and that how she got involved in some of the movies. He’s a great guy – he’s actually come to our shows a lot.

Is Jade touring with the band?
She’s not touring with us – but she’ still involved in the band and she’s going to be involved with the new music. She just doesn’t really want to be on the road.

laurenbookof1Is that something you’re looking forward to – going back on the road?
Not really. I mean, I enjoy the shows – I mean I really enjoy them! But it’s a little different to travel when you’re older – I have a kid – things like that. So we’ll see. This week is long enough! But we’re looking forward to doing some shows. We enjoy it, and as long as we’re all excited and interested in doing it. I think that’s the real power of it – I think when we did it a while back, I don’t know if everybody’s heart was in it – and it makes it not fun.

What did you think when you heard some of your songs in movies? Like Enchanted was in Naked In New York during a key scene…
Yeah, it’s fun to see that. And then, Planes Trains and Automobiles is like a holiday movie, so it’s on a lot. It’s nice – that one definitely is still being played, so it’s kind of cool.

What’s what next for you guys after these live dates?
I think we’re going to finish the new material and record it and see what’s going to happen with that. And I think we’re going to do some more shows.

Do you have any messages for Book of Love fans who have been following you for all of these years?
Our fans are so supportive and it’s been really wonderful! I can’t imagine that they were able to hang in there with no new material for 20 years – I have so much respect for them and I am so thankful. It’s been fun to see everybody. It’s fun to be back!

Book of Love is:
Susan Ottaviano – Lead vocals, lyrics
Ted Ottaviano – Keyboards, lyrics, sampling, programming, piano, melodica, tubular bells, backing vocals (lead vocals on selected tracks)
Lauren Roselli (now Lauren Johnson) – Keyboards, backing vocals (lead vocals and lyrics on selected tracks)
Jade Lee – Keyboards, percussion, backing vocals (lead vocals and lyrics on selected tracks)

(Interview and Photos by Ken Morton)

Book of Love on Facebook


Saxon Invasion at SoundCheck Hollywood

SaxonDaze1_375xThe legendary Saxon was pillaging the Los Angeles area in support of their recent Sacrifice magnum opus as well as doing press for their forthcoming Unplugged and Strung Up release on UDR Music. Prior to their show at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip, Saxon invaded the SoundCheck Hollywood Record Store right down the street from the venue. A meet and greet commenced, with a good number of fans waiting in line for signatures and photographs. We caught up with front man Biff Byford in the backroom at SoundCheck Hollywood for a brief chat to find out more about the upcoming adventures of Saxon, their cover of the Judas Priest classic You’ve Got Another Time Comin’, an imagined encounter with the Queen of England, and other metal topics of interest. Read on…

How has this tour been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been going great! I think a couple of the Midwest dates and Texas have been the best so far. But yeah, it’s been going really good!

When was the last time you played out here in Hollywood?
The last time we played here was on the Call To Arms Tour at the Key Club, about two years ago I think. It’s closed now – The Key Club.

unplugged1So you’ve had a busy year! You had an album come out in March. And now there’s another new one on the way entitled Unplugged and Strung Up. What gave you the idea to do this new album?
Well, we’ve been messing around with unplugged songs and orchestrated stuff for quite some time. We just compiled some songs together. We did themsort of different songs from different packages put together. So the new album is similar to that really – but a lot of extra songs on there. We’ve got Crusader with an orchestra and The Eagle Has Landed with an orchestra – and it sounds great!

How was it to revisit those songs and do different arrangements of them?
We did a couple of different arrangements, but mostly it’s just orchestrated. I mean, we re-played them and I re-sang them – it’s a slightly different sounding. But we like them – it sounds really good.

Would you like to do a tour with an entire orchestra?
I don’t know if we’d do that, but we could tour with a couple of keyboard players doing all the parts. That would be possible. So we might do that next year.

Going back in time, your cover of You’ve Got Another Time Comin’ by Judas Priest is just as good as the original. Have Judas Priest ever commented on that?
When you copy somebody’s song, it’s easier to make it a bit different or make it sound a bit more modern. But I loved the original. But I think we did it justice. And I think we maybe made the guitars a bit heavier on it there. That was recorded in 1980 or something like that – whereas we had the benefit of recording it with modern machinery. They did like it though.

saxonlive1_250xIf Biff Byford in the 80’s were to travel in a time machine and meet Biff Byford in the present day, what would he think about you now?
I don’t know about that. I would think I’ve put weight on, I’d imagine. (Laughs) He’d probably say “Woah! You’ve still got your hair!” (Much laughter)

So the Queen of England invites Saxon to do one song at a Royal Command Performance. What song would you do Her Majesty and why?
Never Surrender, that would be the one I think. Because it’s a great English sentiment – “Never Surrender.” And I’m sure she’d get off on that, because she’s not leaving, is she? She’s staying there! So that would be good.

What’s up next after this tour is over?
We basically do a rock cruise around the 25th of October and then we’re out with Motorhead in the Europe and UK.

Do you have any messages for Saxon fans out here?
Keep the faith! And thanks to everybody who came to see us in the U.S. We appreciate it! We’ve had some big crowds and some small crowds, but we just give in 100 percent anyway. It’s great! And thank you very much for buying the new album.

Saxon is:
Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn – guitars
Nigel Glockler – drums
Nibbs Carter – bass
Doug Scarratt – guitars

(Interview and Biff Byford candid photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Jack Lue)

Saxon on Facebook


Broken Hope: The Metal Sickness Unleashed

brokenhopedaze1_375xThe legendary Broken Hope made their way to the Southland to unleash the death metal sickness at The Whisky on the world famous Sunset Strip.  Touring in support of the new Century Media release entitled Omen Of Disease, Broken Hope has been infecting the country with their ultra brutal brand of extreme music, opening for another evil icon who goes by the name of Deicide!  Prior to their Whisky show, we caught up with bassist Shaun Glass on their tour bus to discuss life on the road, their new recording, the passing of founding vocalist Joe Ptacek, the decision of bringing the band back to life, and other topics of interest.  Read on as we delve into the sinister world of the mighty Broken Hope

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Broken Hope, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD.
I have a lot! My name is Shaun Glass and I play bass for Broken Hope. And probably the most embarrassing song on my IPOD is Millionaires – they’re like an underground kind of pop, techno, sleaze – I think they’re two scene girls that write songs about partying and drinking and obvious other topics. I listen to that sometimes to go polar opposite. Like the other night I had it on before we went onstage and a couple of the guys in the band were just like, “Dude! What are you listening to?” It’s like Britney Spears on crack!

What’s so funny is, I know who that band is…
Alright! I didn’t even need to explain it! But I know you know what I mean. It’s good party music. I mean, I can’t listen to Carcass every day before I go onstage.

brokenlive1_375xHow has the tour with Deicide been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been really cool! It’s the first time we’ve toured together since 1995. Broken Hope and Deicide toured together in 95 – they were on Once Upon The Cross and we were on Repulsive Conception – our third album on Metal Blade Records. And it’s crazy – here we are full circle in 2013. And we’re out with Decide again. And obviously we have a new version – a new lineup somewhat of Broken Hope – and a new album on a great label called Century Media Records that supports our band now for the Omen Of Disease. And the tour is awesome! Frisco was one of my favorite shows because there were so many people. There was some industry going on and it was awesome in a good way for us. And the Machine Head guys –  it was great to have Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel out – also known as former members of Vio-lence.  And then all the guys in Death Angel were playing down the street, so they came over and hung out – and it was just a big metal smorgasbord – so it was rad! And Frisco man – it’s legendary! You can’t deny the roots of that city – from Rancid to Metallica to Fleetwood Mac. It’s a pretty classic city – as well as Los Angeles tonight. I like Hellion so it’s all good.

How easy or difficult has it been to get back on the road with Broken Hope after such a long hiatus? I think your first tour back was with Obituary…
Yeah, I mean during the time that Broken Hope was on hiatus, I was doing a band called Dirge Within, so I was touring playing guitar. It was my band – and that started fading out when we reformed Broken Hope. As far as physical and mental tolerance, I guess, for touring – it was already there. It was cool. But obviously, in Broken Hope I play bass – in my other bands I played guitar. So I always stuck true to playing bass in Broken Hope. It took a little bit of getting used to – the bass is a few pounds heavier, and so am I – so it’s cool!  I think it’s rad – it’s been a good tour. And the Obituary tour – especially last year before the album came out – I think it was great for us to do as a band, because it brought us together again. I really think it made the lineup mold into what we are now. So I thought the Obituary tour was kind of like pre-school – we did the tour and everybody grew into the role – we made sure it sounded true to form. We made sure that Damian really grew into the vocals of the sound of Broken Hope that our former singer (whose deceased) Joe Ptacek left. And I think that after that tour, it really helped the sound of the band mold into writing Omen Of Disease.

brokenlive2_375xWhat happened to Dirge Within?
I basically killed the band. We went through so many lineup changes. We got a new singer Travis Neal who used to be in Divine Heresy with Dino – and we changed our name. We’re called The Bloodline and we’re writing an album right now. So I’m doing The Bloodline and Broken Hope. I have my Slipknot and my Stonesour – to put it politely.

Would your two bands ever want to tour together?
They would not fit at all!

Could you do it – play in two bands in one night?
I could, yeah! Physically I could probably pull off a couple of weeks. To be brutally honest, and Chuck Wepfer, the lead guitarist is also in The Bloodline with me – he was a member of Dirge Within before we defunct. They’re just so different styles! Broken Hope is brutal death metal and I think that’s what it’s meant to be and that’s what I want it to be and that’s what our fans want it to be – and leave it the fuck alone! Let Broken Hope be brutal. And my other band The Bloodline – it’s heavy and melodic, but it’s not death metal at all. I listen to everything like I said – from Deftones to Carcass

To Millionaires…
To Millionaires and Slayer! A lot!

After Joe Ptacek’s passing, how difficult was it to continue on with plans to reform Broken Hope?
It was very hard – for many reasons – to make sure that the fans believe and felt what we were re-presenting them was legit and honest and sincere – and at the same time, making sure that we brought somebody into the sound of this band that represented what Joe kind of did – but as well bringing their own identity, but without changing it too much. A band like Iron Maiden – when they replaced Paul Di’Anno – they got Bruce Dickinson – obviously he was a better singer than Paul, yet they made sure he didn’t go too crazy right away on The Number Of The Beast. They kept the style and the range and the tradition really true to form – I mean I’m not comparing us to Iron Maiden level wise – c’mon let’s be real! But you know, we made sure that we wanted someone that was true to form, but also had death metal pedigree. And Damian comes from a band called Gorgasm, which is really well respected in the death metal community. And I think that was smart, because that way everyone was like “Okay, I could take this serious.” Whereas if we just got someone completely unknown who had no credit, no name, no nothing – I think it would have been a harder sell – and I think that the new album puts any naysayers doubt to the side. But it was hard man – it was really hard to get over losing our brother and our friend – but to make sure that it really sounded like Broken Hope. There were some things me and Jeremy were really firm on. It had to be a certain vibe with the right image of the front man too. Look, I don’t want some scene kid up there with a baseball hat wearing pink polka dot Converses like he was on Warped Tour singing. We needed someone that was a really true brutal death metal front man. And Damian brings it 100 percent. And you know, if Joe’s looking down on us going, “Wow, I can’t believe you fuckers did it!” that’s great! I hope he is! I think Damian pulled it off, so God bless and right on!

brokenlive3_250xSo what’s happening with Gorgasm?
He’s writing the new Gorgasm album right now. They just don’t tour that much, as I think a lot of the guys in that band have really good jobs and families, so they only do a select, quick amount of dates in their area or one-off Death Fests. But I think he’s getting ready next year to put out a new Gorgasm album. Everybody in this band – they could do whatever they want – but we know when it’s Broken Hope, it’s TIME for Broken Hope – and that’s 100 percent and we’re into it and dedicated. There’s nothing wrong with having other musical outlets. You can’t eat pizza every day, can you?

What does the album title Omen Of Disease mean to you?
I’m not the lyricist – Jeremy Wagner is. I just thought when I heard the title to the album – Jeremy said it was a song he was working on that wasn’t finished yet. And I was like, “well, I think it’s evil and sick and it fits the band. The Disease is ridden with gore and sickness – obviously it’s a Broken Hope theme. Omen being evil – so I think it’s the evilness of sickness – so it’s cool with me! And I wrote the music to that song – it was one of my babies.

If Broken Hope could open up for any band either now or from the past – and you’ve probably already done it – who would it be and why?
No I haven’t actually. I think it would be really cool for us to go out with Cannibal Corpse.

You have not played with Cannibal Corpse?
We’ve done festivals, but we’ve never done a tour – for some reason and I don’t know why. And we were once label mates in the 90’s. So we never, ever have toured with them and it’s kind of bizarre – but I think it’s overdue. I think Cannibal Corpse and Broken Hope need to go out together – The Brothers In Gore – let’s do it! It’s something that should happen and hopefully will one day. And obviously there’s that other band called Slayer. I think that would be pretty rad. We’re really in the Omen Of Disease rebirth launch, so who knows what can happen. It seems like people are liking the album – that’s what matters.

What’s up next for you guys after this tour is all over?
We’re actually working on stuff for South America and Europe right now. So after the holidays, we will resume the Omen Of Disease. We’re supposed to be doing a European tour with Immolation – that’s being worked out right now. And then drag our asses all over North America hopefully around April or May – there’s talk of some tours. We want to go out with something different this time – we’ve done Obituary – we’ve done Deicide – now we’re like “let’s mix it up with something like the new generation”. We’ve noticed that a lot of the new songs in the set and the young kids in the kids that had never seen us in the 90’s that weren’t born yet – it’s not their fault – they know the new album. So we want to go out with some new bands and cross over and hit some new generations of extreme metal fans.

And then what could one expect from a live Broken Hope show tonight?
Sickness, hatred, loathing, pain, suffering, brutality – they’re all there buddy!

Any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
We love the West Coast – we love L.A. We think it’s great! We like your weather obviously – were from Chicago and your weather is pretty killer! And we’re just happy to be on tour bringing Broken Hope back to life – and we hope all of our Los Angeles fans love Omen Of Disease and we appreciate them supporting us all these years through the thick and the thin.

Broken Hope is:
Damian Leski- Vocals
Jeremy Wagner – Guitars
Shaun Glass – Bass
Chuck Wepfer – Guitars
Mike Miczek – Drums

(Interview and Band Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Steven Lipson)

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