Blasphemy and Margaritas with Suicide Silence Guitarist Mark Heylmun

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , on August 4, 2012 by coletteclaire

October 9th, 2011

Mark Heylmun, lead guitarist for Suicide Silence, took time out of his busy schedule of writing, playing, and partying while dressed up like Jesus to talk to us about the writing process of their new album The Black Crown and the filming of the trippy and violent video for its first single “You Only Live Once.”

suicide_silence

Mxdwn: So how’s it going?

Mark: I actually just woke up from a ridiculous night of mayhem.

Mxdwn: Was this night of mayhem because of the Mayhem Festival?

Mark: Yeah they have these thing that are called “Metal Mixers” on every off day; basically a costume party thing. I dressed up as Jesus and we all just got ridiculous, it was awesome.

Mxdwn: How do you dress up as Jesus?

Mark: I had on my flip flops and a white robe, and I made a crown of thorns out of bass strings.

Mxdwn: That’s what I was picturing, putting on like a sheet and some sandals on. So Mayhem goes through August what’s coming up next?

Mark: We get like a week home then were going to Australia. Then we come back and and then go back out for Never say Die in Europe in October. Then we do Canada and South America.

Mxdwn: So the new album is out, The Black Crown, and this is your highest chart debut so far. Is the audience at the shows responding pretty enthusiastically to the new material?

Mark: Yeah even before the new album was out we were playing a couple new songs in Europe and the new songs are going over better than the old songs. I don’t know why, if its because they are better or because people are really excited, but the audience seems stoked about it and it’s working out.

Mxdwn: The sound of the new album is a little different from your previous work, was that intentional or do you guys just write what you write?

Mark: I guess it was kind of intentional but yeah at the same time we do kind of just write what we write. I think it’s a step up, you know, a growth. It’s like when we did No Time to Bleed I think there was a big jump there too from the record before it. It’s just kind of a progression that we’re going through, we really didn’t consciously try to change the way we sound or anything like that, its still us just writing stuff, but we progress.

Mxdwn: Is the writing process fairly democratic or how does it work with you guys?

Mark: Yeah we pretty much just go into a room and start playing whatever. Sometimes we have everything hooked up so we can record and we’ll record us playing for a few hours then we’ll sit back and listen to it and just kind of see what were doing. We get ideas from our own jams because sometimes you play something and you don’t even realize that it’s kind of cool until you hear it again. Then we just do a lot of revision, and it comes down to a couple of us sitting in a room revising what we’ve already done. I don’t know were always confused, it’s like: ‘How did we even write this record?’ ‘How did this even come out?’ because we’ll write a song and not even realize what were doing.

Mxdwn: Does the producer make a difference in that process, because I’ve noticed you have used a different one on every record?

Mark: Yeah Steve Evetts is the most recent one. He made a big difference. He had the vision that we had. We just wanted to write something that even if it came out fifteen years ago or if it comes out fifteen years in the future it’ll still hold up as a quality record and he helped us do that. He made the songs sound more like songs and put more structure into it and just all around bettered the songs that we made.

Mxdwn: So I was reading about how you guys intentionally moved away from anti-religious themes in your lyrics is that true?

Mark: I just think Mitch wants to write about different things. He doesn’t want to keep saying the same kind of things over and over again. Its kind of the same thing like with the music, it’s not really a conscience decision to changing the lyrical content it’s those were the lyrics that were relevant to most of us the last two years and they just so happen to not be so blasphemous and they just had a different theme.

Mxdwn: Did you feel in the past that because you play extreme metal it was kind of required to be angry and blasphemous or was that just how you felt at the time?

Mark: You mean like on our first record?

Mxdwn: Yeah.

Mark: Well yeah at the time what we were going for was the most ridiculous, over-the-top, heavy and just basically any kind of thought provoking lyric or music we could play. Whether it be singing about someone killing themselves or how we hate god or whatever would make people listen and have some kind of thought. We just wanted to piss people off I guess [laughing]. You know that’s where we were going then but we just kept growing and not writing the same record over and over again.

Mxdwn: That makes sense and its doing really well and it should because it’s a really great record, by the way, I really like it.

Mark: Thanks.

Mxdwn: So you guys have a new video out for the song “You Only Live Once” and it’s pretty crazy with you guys at the shooting range and all these different people are shooting at you. What that just for fun or is there a certain message you wanted to convey?

Mark: Before the last chorus there’s a line in the song “You Only Get One Shot.” So it was me, Mitch and our manager sitting around at Buffalo Wild Wings before the record came out. We were talking about promotion ideas and stuff and we started talking about what kind of video we could make. That’s when it came to mind ‘what if we had a bunch of people who wanted to get rid of Suicide Silence shooting at us?’ Then the ideas started going around and so we just did that. We had all the cliché people; the old lady, the mom, the scene kid. Not sure where the hot chick came in [laughing] but you know, just people that would want to shoot at us. It’s kind of a cheesy idea but kind of cheesy in a good way I think and we just had fun with it.

Mxdwn: Yeah I was thinking watching it that it seemed like it would be fun to film everyone getting shot while you’re still playing.

Mark: Yeah it was definitely fun. Timing the gun shots was tough though. Like when the explosion and the blood go off you have to count down while also playing, while you’re not really playing the music, but you’re playing to the music that’s really, really loud and you have to learn the cues but it was definitely a lot of fun.

Mxdwn: Are there more videos on the way with interesting ideas behind them?

Mark: Were probably going to do another one but were not really locked into an idea yet, but there’s some ideas going around. We want to do a kind of a movie type of thing were not even going to be in the video, maybe a zombie type thing.

Mxdwn: That could be cool. Going back to the party you were talking about earlier, I find it funny they have “Metal Mixers” is that just a Mayhem Fest thing or do a lot of big festivals do that?

Mark: The first I ever heard of it was the first Mayhem Fest that we did. There’s themed ones and then there’s also band themed ones were you sign up and Mayhem gives you a little bit of money to go do some kind of party. It’s a Suicide Silence hosted party or a Machine Head hosted party or whoever wants to do it. I think were going to do a south of the border type thing next were we have salsa music, a margarita machine and maybe a dunk tank or something.

Mxdwn: That sounds awesome, I want to go to a metal mixer!

Mark: Yeah they’re really fun and usually no one can remember the end of the night [laughing]. It’s a good a time. Mitch won best costume last night he was dressed as Superman. Alex was an old school basket ball player with Nikes and short shorts on, and Danny was like a Mexican gangster with a plaid shirt with one button done at the top, baggy pants and a tear drop drawn on his face under his eye. Our merch guy put on a hoodie, did the soosh hair and walked around with a Suicide Silence promo picture and kept asking everybody if they knew where the signing was. In Flames tour manger had corpse paint on. It was an over the top party.

Mxdwn: Well thanks for talking to us!

Mark: Yeah for sure no problem, sorry I was a little half asleep from last night.

Mxdwn: No it was great thanks.

By Colette ClairePosted in Features


Machine Head’s Phil Demmel talks Mayhem, Vio-Lence, and Kismet

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , , on August 4, 2012 by coletteclaire

September 12 2011
Phil Demmel has been the lead guitarist of Machine Head for the last 9 years. He joined them after his previous band Vio-Lence broke up; Vio-Lence being the band that he and Rob Flynn, Machine Head’s lead singer and guitarist, formed together as teenagers. Robb went on to form Machine Head in 1992 and Phil joined them in 2003, proof that the two were destined to make music together in whatever form it takes. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Phil in the midst of the madness that is the Rock Star Mayhem Festival where Machine Head participated in the rather innovative idea of sharing the opening slot on the main stage with Trivium and In Flames.

phil-demmel

Mxdwn: So you guys are currently on Mayhem fest right? How is that going?

Phil: It’s going great. We’re about half way through now and we did a couple warm up shows, so it’s been a good few weeks of being on the road again after 15 months off.

Mxdwn: There’s some line up juggling going on this year’s Mayhem where you’re playing on the main stage some dates and the Revolver stage on some others. How is that working out?

Phil: There’s 3 bands that are rotating the opening slot on the main stage, so the first 9 shows we open on the main stage, then Trivium is opening the main stage for the next 9 and we go to the Revolver stage. Then In Flames is opening it for the last few shows.

Mxdwn: Any idea why they did it that way?

Phil: The 3 of our bands are pretty equal; we’re similar in status, so were just rotating it around and seeing how it goes.

Mxdwn: Sharing the love?

Phil: Yeah for sure.

Mxdwn: So are you guys touring more after this?

Phil: Yeah this will take us through the middle of August and in September we go down to Australia for the Soundwave Revolution festival tour with Van Halen [as of August 9th this tour was cancelled unfortunately]. Then in October were going to do a South American tour with Sepultura, then in November were taking on a pretty ambitious arena tour through Europe and the UK with Bring me the Horizon, DevilDriver and Darkest Hour.

Mxdwn: Yeah you guys usually tour pretty heavy for every album.

Phil: A band like us is not going to get a lot of radio play so we have to hit the streets, pound the pavement and kiss the babies.

Mxdwn: Speaking of which, the new album Unto the Locust is coming out on September 27th. And this is your first release in 5 years, is that mainly because of the extensive touring for the last album or are there other reasons?

Phil: Well it’s a combination of things. We toured for three years on The Blackening and we toured so long because when Metallica wants to take you out for a year you go out with Metallica for a year. When Slip Knot wants to take you out for eight months all over the world you go tour the world with these big bands because you’re expanding your fan base. We also took a good six months off before we started writing. We don’t write a record over night, it takes us a long time and we took the proper amount of time. I wish we could have kept writing for a little bit more actually but some things are out of our control and four and half years after The Blackening came out, September 20th will be the release date for the new one, I think we bumped it up a week.

Mxdwn: Did you go into writing this one with any preconceived idea of how it would sound, like “it has to be heavy” or “it has to be this or that”, or was it just whatever happens, happens?

Phil: It was the same idea we had with The Blackening. We went in trying to capture what we were feeling at that time and that works well for us. So we just went with the same formula, the same premise and things came out great.

Mxdwn: Is writing a fairly democratic process with you guys does everyone get a say, do you get together and jam in a room or what?

Phil: It’s somewhat Democratic, I mean Robb has a vision for it, we lean on his ear. He’s got such a great ear for notes, phrasing and structure. Dave does that as well. I also play guitar and I’ll be half way done with structure and I let the guys kind of go off on that. So it’s pretty democratic. Robb is the main song writer; I call him our sandwich maker. Me and the other guys will feed him a bunch of ingredients, you know a slice of ham here, some mayo here, and he’s really good at putting stuff together, but I do some structuring as well sometimes.

Mxdwn: Rob produced this album and this would be the third one he’s produced. I know as long as you’ve been in the band he’s been the producer but I’m curious if you think it makes it more efficient than if an outsider were to come into it and try to produce the record?

Phil: Well he did the first one just out of necessity nobody was really available or we couldn’t really afford somebody. And Rob would produce our demos and they sounded fucking great and so we gave him a shot on the first one [Through the Ashes of Empires]. Nobody knows what this band should sound like more than Rob. He has the capabilities, he has the ear, and I just can’t see a reason to put it into some outsider’s hands if he can handle the work load and the stresses that come along with it. That’s been the thing is to kind of balance that. He’s mixing this record right now too because we had something go on with the guy who was mixing our record and so he’s added that to it and its been a completely involving task for him.

Mxdwn: Wow so he’s mixing it now too?

Phil: Yeah he’s in the process of mixing this right now, him and our engineer.

Mxdwn: So I’m assuming you’re playing some of the new material live on the tour, at least the single “Locust”, how is the audience responding to it?

Phil: We’ve been playing the main stage [at Mayehm Fest] so far and those fans, the main stage crowd, aren’t that familiar with Machine Head. The parking lot crowd is awesome and they love Machine Head but we come over to the main stage and there’s not a lot of them out there. But on the other hand when we say “here’s a new song” there going to pay more attention to that so there’s a lot of head bobbing and paying attention. But we’ll get the extremeness with The Revolver stage afterward. So overall it’s going over really well.

Mxdwn: Is there going to be a video for “Locust?”

Phil: Yeah we are looking through possibilities right now maybe something while we’re out on the road.

Mxdwn: So you worked with Robb before you joined Machine Head in the band Vio-Lence, he left to form Machine Head while you and Vio-Lence continued on for about ten more years. Do you feel that was the natural progression for you when Vio-Lence disbanded to work with Robb again and join Machine Head?

Phil: When he started Machine Head I kept an eye on what he was doing and was excited about what he was doing and I kind of always wanted to be in the band. I got married soon after [Vio-Lence disbanded] and was kind of fazing myself out of music. I had done what I was going to do musically, then this opportunity presented itself for me to tour with the band in a temporary role and when we were playing together, we just played all these old covers, and we just have a complimentary playing style to each other. We’re pretty similar but were pretty symbiotic in knowing in our harmonies when somebody’s going to play something. Its kind of a special kind of kismet thing and I don’t know if I felt it that it would happen but I’m glad that it did because it just seems to be where I’m supposed to be.

Mxdwn: And obviously you must see yourself with Machine Head in the future, what do you see for the band in general for the future?

Phil: [laughing] I’ve been playing with these guys for 9 years now its like “wow really 9 years?” The bands been around almost 20 years so to think that I’ll have been with them half of their career’s kind of special. It’s an iconic part of metal and I don’t see us stopping as long as people want to hear us and want to come out to our shows we’ll be here.

Mxdwn: Do you see Machine Head being more fulfilling musically than Vio-Lence was or is it just a natural progression for you? Because I read that you and Robb both seemed to have creative issue with Vio-Lence and maybe weren’t able to expand it to the places you wanted to.

Phil: Well the Vio-Lence thing was so long ago it’s really kind of a non issue. Our relationship in Machine Head is where we are now; it wasn’t really a progression from Vio-Lence. Well I guess it kind of was, but like I said I’ve been playing with these guys for 9 years, we were together in Vio-Lence for maybe four years. So we were kids, and it was a band we did when we were kids and this is the grown up version. So yeah I guess this is the natural progression. Its Robb’s vision and Vio-Lence was my vision but Machine Head is Robb’s vision and I’m here to be a part of that. I know my role in this band everybody does.

Mxdwn: Are there any side projects or anything that you are working on as just your thing?

Phil: No, no no, I mean this is where all my music focus goes and pretty much all of us. There’s kind of a no side project mandate with this band it keeps us all pretty encapsulated into Machine Head and I kind of prefer it that way. I’ll go off and I’ll jam with a few of my friends bands. I’m pretty good friends with the guys from Shinedown I’ll go and play a few songs with them or the Nonpoint dudes but other than that, just playing a song here or there and jamming, all my creative energy goes into Machine Head.

Mxdwn: Well I really like the new single and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the new album I’m sure a lot of people are. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

Phil: No not really, just Into the Locust should be coming out Sep 20th go pick up a copy.

By Colette Claire Posted in Features

An Interview with Anika

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , on October 25, 2011 by coletteclaire

British singer Anika may have just released her first solo album, but she’s no newcomer to music or media. I met with Anika to discuss her unique background and self-titled new album while she was in Los Angeles on Feb 6th, which also happened to be her birthday. She apparently had a very tight schedule while in LA that included a DJ set at The Natural History Museum and various record company and press meetings. Despite seeming a little peeved about working on her birthday, Anika was pleasant and charming as well as a bit shy. “I’ve made a fake birthday in two weeks time so it’s ok,” she told me while looking down through shaggy blond hair at the ground.

All photography by Pamela Lin

IMG_6802-mxdwn-anika-pamelalinphotography--2

Though she started in the music business, Anika never intended to become a singer. She first worked as a music promoter and booking agent for venues in Cardiff, Wales, where she attended college. She eventually became frustrated with the lack of original bands she was able to book and promote. So she switched her attention to political journalism and eventually became the UK Science and Education correspondent.

She always sang and wrote lyrics but her heart was in journalism, until she met Portishead member Geoff Barrow through a mutual friend. Barrow was looking for a singer for his new project Beak>, and Anika decided to go check out a rehearsal and things clicked immediately. Amusingly, Anika didn’t realize who Barrow or the other members were until she got home and looked them up online. Despite feeling a bit embarrassed about not knowing them right away, Anika thinks it ultimately helped her audition. She said “I think it was good because I was less nervous and also the way we just said ‘ok that was good, same time next week’ without even knowing who each other was made it a really genuine thing.” Though she is a Portishead fan, she says Barrow is such an easy going person most of the time that she doesn’t really think about him being from the legendary band, remarking “Geoff is such a laid back bloke I don’t always put the 2 and 2 together.”

IMG_6738-mxdwn-anika-pamelalinphotography-

Anika has always wanted to speak her mind and doesn’t intend to stop doing so just because she left journalism. She sees music as just a different format where she can still express herself, saying “[the music’s] intention was to remind people that music can be for other stuff besides escapism. For the last ten years a lot of mainstream music has just been escapism music. People forget you can actually make a point in a song.” She says she intends to go back to journalism some day, calling her foray into music a “detour.”

However, faced with the decision of either being promoted or demoted, she gave up her position as official Science and Education correspondent at the end of January to focus on music and says she will just be writing news pieces here and there. “I wouldn’t have bothered giving up political journalism after adamantly saying I’m going to quit the music industry unless it was something I really believed in,” she told me. Anika, released in late 2010, came about as spontaneously as the rest of her singing career during the Beak> sessions.

IMG_6763-mxdwn-anika-pamelalinphotography-

“Originally I was going to do all my own vocals [and lyrics], but my stuff was so different from what they were doing,” she remembers. “Because of my political background, I had different motives and different things I wanted to do with it and so it just kind of formed it own thing. Geoff has a label so he said ‘why don’t we just make it its own project and you’ve got free reign.’” What she created was her own version of pop music, a moody, fuzzy, almost psychedelic experience taking a cue from bands like The Velvet Underground in its loose structure and sound.

IMG_6782-mxdwn-anika-pamelalinphotography-

To give you a clue of how different it really is there is, a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang” on the record. She claimed she “wanted to do something that was raw and might piss people off a little bit.” Despite the unconventional nature of the sound, Anika is able to pull it off live with a band that includes Billy Fuller and Matt Williams from Beak>. She’s already done sold out shows in Paris and London will be coming to the States in May.

You can watch a video with highlights from my interview with Anika below:

Interview Anika from mxdwn on Vimeo.

Or check it out via YouTube here.

Photos by Pamela Lin.

as posted on mxdwn.com March 30th 2011

Sunset Strip Music Festival 2011

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by coletteclaire

For the 3rd year in a row, the Sunset Strip Music Festival came to block off the famous section of Sunset Boulevard known as “the Strip,” thus creating both an awesome musical experience and a traffic nightmare.

All Hands In the Air at the Sunset Strip Music Festival
All Hands In the Air at the Sunset Strip Music Festival

As if people weren’t still recovering from the night before when Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek played the Whiskey and Buck Cherry played Roxy to kick off the festival, numerous bands came to play the East and West outdoor stages as well as the Whiskey, Roxy and Key Club on Saturday, August 20th. And if there weren’t enough bands playing to keep you amused, there was also the Jack Daniel’s Experience traveling museum detailing the history of the Whiskey company and a Gibson booth complete with Gibson guitars plugged in and ready to play.

She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge was one of the acts playing the west outdoor stage earlier in the day. The band, which is normally a duo, had a drummer and a couple guitarists accompanying them on their danceable goth rock which, unfortunately, didn’t translate as well in a live setting. “Tear You Apart,” one of the band’s best known songs, was rendered unrecognizable with lead singer Justin Warfield playing a few weird notes on the guitar and singing with no accompaniment. With its monotone vocal style and long winded lyrics, the song quickly became more repetitive than epic and left one wondering why they didn’t utilize the musicians standing there doing nothing. Luckily, they didn’t try this treatment on equally catchy songs “Out of Control” and “True Romance,” which both sounded decent, though still better on the album. The best performance of their set was on the band’s current single “Take the World,” which uses a bit more instrumentation than the band’s previous albums and translated better live for it.

Bush

Bush performing on the Outdoor West StageBush performing on the Outdoor West Stage

Later in the afternoon after an unexpected twenty minute delay, the newly reformed Bush took the audience on a ’90s nostalgia trip, opening their set with an passionate version of “Machine Head” from their 1994 debut Sixteen Stone. Though Bush is from England, it was radio play from Los Angeles’s KROQ that really helped launch their muti-platinum career. During “Everything’s Zen,” lead singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale started quoting The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” singing “You may ask yourself, how did I get here?” in reference to how Bush found its biggest audience in the US partly because of this. Bush pretty much stuck to the hits with new songs sprinkled in from The Sea of Memories, which will be the band’s first studio album in ten years.

Judging from songs like “All My Life,” the material from Sea of Memories will sound much better live than it does on the studio recording. It had an upbeat, almost punky quality lacking on the version found on YouTube. Sounding better live isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It proves they can really play and don’t just rely on fancy recording equipment, despite the fact that founding member and lead guitarist Nigel Pulsford decided not to rejoin the band. Rossdale played and sang his heart out and had a penchant for getting as close to the audience as possible. He played “Glycerin” almost entirely by himself and even let the audience sing a good majority of it for him which was surely an epic moment for everyone who remembered being a teenager with that song constantly playing on the radio. “Comedown” was equally as epic with the audience again singing a majority of the song. The only complaint might be that the set was much too short.

Motley Crue
Vince Neil showing us his "Wild Side"Vince Neil showing us his “Wild Side” on the Outdoor West Stage

Of course, the biggest audience flocked to the West Stage for headliners Motley Crue, who as Tommy Lee so aptly put it, “have stumbled down these streets so many times, played that club, threw up in that club, done it all on these streets.” The image of the Sunset Strip is practically synonymous with Motley Crue, and they were a perfect choice for this festival. The Crue came out with the same energy, pyrotechnics, and half naked girls they have been providing their audience for nearly thirty years, opening with “Wild Side” and the extremely appropriate “Saints of Los Angeles.” The set continued with expected hits like “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Shout at the Devil,” and “Doctor Feelgood,” though this particular performance had an extremely personal feel, as if they were playing a show at the Whiskey back in 1982. It was especially moving when Tommy Lee took to the piano for mega ballad “Home Sweet Home,” though they often perform the song.

Some unusual highlights were a cover of Gary Glitter’s “Rock N’ Roll Part 2,” played as the intro for their cover of “Smokin in the Boys Room”; and Tommy Lee’s drum set rotating in a circle like a carnival ride taking him upside down and sideways during his drum solo. Then surprise guest Deadmau5 joined him on the upside down drum ride for a techno version of “Love Rollercoaster,” proving that the Crue still has some surprises up their sleeve as well as the tried and true hard rock they do so well.

as posted on mxdwn.com August 24th, 2011

Ozzfest: Back with a Vengeance

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by coletteclaire

August 14, 2010: The first date of this year’s Ozzfest tour kicked off in San Bernardino, California, on a hot and dusty day in this small town located just outside of Los Angeles. Kicking off the day was Immune, an unsigned pop-punk band local to L.A. who, along with California Wildebeast, were totally out of place with the rest of the lineup. (Luckily for Ozzfest, those two bands aren’t traveling with them.) Immune started on the second stage promptly at 12:15 P.M., which might as well be 6:00 A.M. in heavy metal time. However, by 12:45 the crowd was already starting to get packed, taking in a typically solid show by Midwestern black metal gods Skeletonwitch.

All photos by Gary Moratz

Sharon Osbourne appeared on the second stage to introduce little-known California Wildebeast, a band that was actually formed by Mike Fleiss, creator of the reality television show The Bachelor. Despite being an alternative rock outfit, they’re on the day’s bill because Fleiss is also working on a Black Sabbath horror movie to be scored by Tony Iommi. It was still awesome though to see the queen mother of metal herself taking the time to address the crowd. Say what you will about Sharon but she is a savvy, intelligent woman and truly an inspiration to many.

Sharon Osbourne03jpg

After California Wildebeat, the pace and the mosh pit picked back up with thrash/death metal band Goatwhore making their second Ozzfest appearance and performing a truly punishing set. Then Saviours, a stoner metal band from Oakland who have been generating quite a buzz lately, kept the frantic metal madness going. It’s tough for a band to give a fair representation of their material in a 25-minute set at a festival like this, but Goatwhore and The Saviours both managed to pull it off.

Saviours03jpg

Thrash metal legends Exodus were up next and they never fail to give it their all. The fact that these guys have persevered over almost 30 years and the death of their lead singer is amazing—Kirk Hammett was in this band before Metallica, for God’s sake! The band opened with “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles” and “Beyond the Pale,” two songs from their new album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The new songs stood up quite well next to old favorites like “A Lesson in Violence” from the band’s first album and “Toxic Waltz” from 1989’s Fabulous Disaster. Rob Dukes, the band’s current singer, got the crowd to separate then attack each other for one of the craziest mosh pits of the day.

Exodus08jpg

Exodus03jpg

Drowning Pool then took the stage and shifted the mood from pure metal to a little blues rock; it actually translated well alongside the other acts despite not being quite as heavy. The band played a mix of songs from all of their albums including “Feel Like I Do,” the first single from the band’s recently released self-titled album. They also played “Step Up” from the album Desensitized, and of course their hits “Sinner” and “Bodies” from their debut album.

Drowningpool05jpg

Black Label Society followed Drowning Pool, a perfect musical transition, but before they could perform Jody Barnes and Jennifer Knorr had to get married. That’s right, married. Apparently Ozzfest emcee Big Dave was ordained as a minister for his brother’s wedding, giving Sharon Osbourne the idea to make a wedding package available along with the typical VIP packages for sale. One couple took them up on the offer and were married before thousands of screaming metal fans. Apparently they also got to eat wedding cake back stage with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne afterward—not a bad deal for heavy metal fans in love.

Ozzwedding02jpg

It was then time for Black Label Society to play, wrapping up the second stage for the day. Nonpoint started on the main stage 5 minuets later which probably wasn’t the best scheduling for them since pretty much everyone was watching BLS. Especially since this was everyone’s only opportunity to see Zakk Wylde given the fact that Ozzy now has a new guitar player. The majority of BLS’s set was new material from ‘Order of The Black’ released just 4 days before the show including “Godspeed Hellbound” and “Overlord.”  The band sounded great and even did an encore playing their hit “Stillborn” from ‘The Blessed Hellride’ album. People finally began trickling over to the main stage after BLS wrapped up stopping for a beer and bathroom break along the way. This forced DevilDriver to play to a somewhat sparse crowd but a good amount of dedicated fans were standing on seats screaming the lyrics and showing love to the band that played a great set including “I Could Care Less” and “Fate Stepped In.”

Blacklabelsociety09jpg

It was then time to break out the big guns, starting with one of Judas Priest front man Rob Halford’s solo bands, the appropriately named Halford. Rob took the stage decked out in aviator sun glasses and a floor length leather studded biker jacket complete with floor length arm fringe. He played a decent set of about ten songs mainly from Halford’s catalog. Many people shouted things like “Painkiller” hoping for a Priest cover and technically they got one but it was “Heart of a Lion” which was featured in Priests’ 2004 box set Metalology as a previously unreleased track. Some highlights from the Halford catalog were “Resurrection” and “Savior” off the band’s first album. The band itself sounded very tight and there weren’t a lot of effects on the instruments or in the mix so you could really hear what they were playing. Rob can still belt out every extremely high note perfectly and he still remains one of the most talented singers in heavy metal.

IMG_2382JPGHalford

IMG_2720JPGHalford

Motely Crue then proceeded to come out on stage and basically steal the show for the evening, nothing against Ozzy he was great too, but Motely Crue put on one hell of a performance. It didn’t hurt that it finally got dark giving everything a much more “metal” atmosphere. Starting off with “Kick Start my Heart” Motley came out in a foray of fireworks and explosions with red lighting shinning behind them on a giant banner with the bands logo. They then tore through many more of their hits for over an hour including  “Live Wire” “Shout at the Devil” “Dr. Feelgood” “Primal Scream” and of course “Girls, Girls, Girls” complete with the Harley motorcycle noises piped in. Vince Neil’s voice has gotten better since Crue Fest last year; he hit more of the higher notes than before. Although he didn’t feel it necessary to sing every line of the song since the audience was singing it for him, but no one seemed to notice. An especially epic highlight was when they brought out a grand piano for “Home Sweet Home” and Tommy Lee played the entire piano intro. Lighters and cell phones were quickly brought out by the crowd and held into the air as everyone got misty eyed while singing along. This was Los Angeles after all, so the song was most appropriate.

As if you weren’t already reeling from all you’d already seen and experienced it was then time for the man himself, the “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne. The giant screen above the stage, which usually just shows you what’s happening on stage, began playing clips of popular TV shows and movies but with Ozzy superimposed into them. In one of the clips Ozzy was playing Beyonce’s part from the “Telephone” music video by Lady Gaga. Ozzy had on make up and a wig to look like Beyonce and then turned to Lady Gaga and proclaimed “you dress really weird are you sure you’re not a man?” In another Ozzy was Robert Pattinson’s “Edaward” character in the Twilight movie complete with a wig of puffy hair. When Kristen Stewart calls him a vampire Ozzy replies “Vampires are pussies I’m the prince of fucking darkness!” The final clip featured Ozzy in the Iron Man suit from the movie where he of course proclaimed “I Am Iron Man!” Seeing the clips was a little strange at first but ultimately very funny.

Then the band finally came out playing “Bark at the Moon.” Ozzy having just as much energy as always, even at 61 years old, hopping around and clapping his hands in his wild man way. The set list consisted of mostly 1980’s era Ozzy including “Mr.Crowley” “Shot in the Dark” and “Suicide Soultion” among others. This may have been an homage to his previous tour with Motley Crue over twenty years before which went down in history as one of Ozzy’s most notorious antics wise, including the infamous ant snorting incident. Missing from the set was any 1990’s era Ozzy like “No More Tears” or “Perry Mason” and in its place were 3 Black Sabbath songs which were “Paranoid” “Fairies wear Boots” and of course, “Iron Man.” Zakk Wylde’s replacement on lead is 29 year old Greek guitarist “Gus G” (which is somehow a nickname for Kostas Karamitroudis), who played with several bands including Arch Enemy and his own band Firewind before joining up with Ozzy. He has some pretty big shoes to fill including Toni Iommi and Randy Rhoads but he did it with no problem pulling off every solo and not missing a note. An added highlight was the appearance of Guinness Book of Worlds Records youngest professional guitarist 10 year old Yuto Miyazawa. He came out during the encore and played “Crazy Train” along with the rest of the band on his Randy Rhoads style flying V.  Yuto is an internet sensation who appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres show in 2009 where he was introduced to Ozzy. Ozzy’s set was a bit more effects laden than some of the others but the band ultimately sounded fantastic and Ozzy’s voice is as strong as ever.

Ozzfest seemed like it was dying out in recent years with the “free” ticket disaster in 2007,  the only one date played in Texas in 2008 and no tour what so ever in 2009. This year proved however that Ozzfest is back with a vengeance. Many people agree this was the best line up in years. Let’s hope the legacy continues for many more years to come.

By: Colette Claire

As reported on mxdwn.com 8/23/10

Katatonia recover stolen guitars

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , , on September 30, 2010 by coletteclaire

Colette Claire of The Gauntlet recently chatted with Katatonia frontman Jonas at the Hollywood, CA stop of the U.S. tour. When the topic of stolen gear came up, Jones stated “It was a drag but luckily we have the guitars back now.” He went on to say “the police caught the guy oh wait actually he turned himself in. I think he felt the pressure from all our fans because we put out notifications and messages all over our website and stuff saying keep your eyes open, dude just turn yourself in, your going down and there’s no way your going to get away with this. He voluntarily turned in the guitars with the police and acted just like a little coward… so good for us. The focus was always to have them back on the road and also to give them to our fans because they are not our guitars there going to be competition prizes at the end of the
tour.

You’ll be able to watch the entire interview later this week.

You can catch Katatonia on tour at the following stops
Sept. 28 – Mesa
, AZ @ U.B.´s Bar
Sept. 29 – Tuscan, AZ @ The Rock
Sept. 30 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
Oct. 1 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s Alternative Lounging
Oct. 2 – Houston, TX @ The Warsaw
Oct. 4 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
Oct. 5 – Louisville, KY @ Uncle Pleasants
Oct. 6 – Raleigh, NC @ Volume 11
Oct. 7 – West Springfield, VA @ Jaxx

as reported on thegauntlet.com 9/30/10

Report from first Day of Mayhem Fest

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by coletteclaire

Hearing that Korn and Rob Zombie are on the same bill may give you flash backs to ten years ago when they toured together, this time however it is as the co-headliners of this years Mayhem Festival. Kicking off in San Bernardino, California, the 25 date tour will go throughout the United States until August 14th and as usual features 3 stages of bands. The main stage this year has Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch along with Zombie and Korn. In its 3rd year, Mayhem Festival is turning out to be one the definitive metal fests, especially since it came about while Ozz-Fest is in its waning years.

This year’s show was certainly worth battling the heat as it has been in years past. The two smaller stages the “Silver” stage and the “Jägermeister” started bright and early in metal-time at 1:50pm with Winds of Plague being the first band to play on the Silver stage, followed by Sangre on the Jager stage at 2:20pm. The set times alternate so two bands aren’t on stage at the same time. If you have the stamina you can end up seeing 9 bands play in 3 hours including Shadows Fall, Hatebreed and 3 Inches of Blood . And, as if your ears weren’t already bleeding from that, the focus then shifts to the main stage at 6:30pm when Five Finger Death Punch goes on.

It was interesting to see Rob Zombie follow FFDP’s and Lamb of God’s stripped down sets with his fairly elaborate stage set-up opening up with “Superbeat” off his Hellbilly Delux album. Zombie had the horror movie images and flashing fire effects necessary to accentuate his chicks-and-hotrods brand of metal, almost like watching one of his music videos live. Some highlights were “More Human than Human” and “Thunder Kiss ‘65” (which featured a 5 minuet solo in the middle by renown guitarist John 5) from his White Zombie days and some new songs from his Hellbilly Deluxe II album released a few months back. One being “Mars Needs Women” with the extremely chant-able chorus “mars needs women, angry red women!” and “Werewolf Women of the SS” which bares the same title as his mock movie trailer from Grindhouse, which was shown in the background during the song.

Korn had an equally visual spectacle for their show which isn’t as usual for them as it is for Zombie. Two large oil rigs on fire adored either side of the stage, an assumed reference to both the bands new single “Oildale (Leave me alone)” and the entire tours Boycott of BP Oil. Korn opened with the aforementioned new song, and played more of their very promising new material from their upcoming new album “Korn III Remember Who You Are” which comes out today July 13th throughout the set mixed in with hits like “Falling Away From Me” “Freak on a leash” and “Got the life.” A highlight was definitely the encore where the band paid homage to their early days, with Jonathan Davis coming out playing his bagpipes for the intro to “Shoots and Ladders” then playing “Blind” and “Clown” also from their first album.

Nothing about this show felt rehash even though the two headliners had toured before, they both played fresh material and their hits stand the test of time, fitting right along side the newer bands.Tickets are still available for many of the dates so please check out  http://www.rockstarmayhemfest.com/ for more info.

By Colette Claire

Also appeares on TheGauntlet.com 7/13/10