Ashes From Stone – Riddles, Riots, and Rock Music



ashes-from-stoneYou have gone through a few members in the last year or so, including your founding drummer. How has this affected your sound and band chemistry?
We knew that things could change when Tommy became a father and that as his close friends and band members, we would support any decision he made about his future even if it meant leaving to be a full time dad. We were obviously disheartened to lose him, but Tommy made sure to pass the torch to someone we all knew was more than qualified for the job. Joey Steele (also of the band “Aeous”) had already helped us write and record half of our first album while filling in for Tommy and we were already very comfortable with the direction things were moving. Since adding Joey, we’ve gotten a lot more progressive and it’s opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for us that we’re excited to explore on future albums. As far as changes on guitar, it took us a while to find the right man for the job. This was mostly because we were adjusting to being a four piece after starting as a three piece and we had to find the right chemistry to create the right sound we all agreed on. We found that sound with Mike Mountain and even though we’ve recently parted ways, we can’t promise those changes are permanent. He had some things he needed to sort out outside of music and we fully support him until he’s ready to own the stage again.

With all the bands coming and going in Minneapolis, what makes you different? What gives you that edge to survive in the scene?
We’ve always tried to stick to a strict code of ethics in this band to assure it never disappointed the fans or collapsed under pressure. 1. Always play like there are thousands of fans no matter where you are. You never know who might be watching. Stage presence could be the only difference between a fan remembering or forgetting you. They didn’t come to the show to listen to the songs (they have you’re album for that), they came to see you. So make yourself memorable and they’ll be back every time. 2. Never forget that music is fun. This is a very hard one for a lot of bands after the pressure that comes from writing constantly and practicing hour after hour, killing off a lot of bands before they really have a chance to be heard. So it’s important to do things together outside of music from time to time and develop friendships with the people you make music with, it will show in the end result. 3. Be original. We’ve done our best to keep our original sound and add to it as time went on instead of conforming to what everyone else was doing. It’s hard to tell bands apart when they sound the same, even if they all sound really good. However, if you’re the one band in your area with a certain sound that can’t be imitated, do your best to never let that element go. 4. Try not to play too many shows in the same area back to back. Spread out your reach to other states and other cities to get the word out. You won’t make a name for yourself playing your home state your whole career. Get out there and take chances! Do these things and you’ll survive the scene just fine.

Mine Oh Mine seems to be a little off-kilter from the usual for you guys. Are the lyrics tongue-in-cheek, and can you talk about how the song came about?
When the band first started, Andrew was writing the lyrics in more of a cryptic way so people could attach whatever meaning they wanted to them. One night Andrew and Lauren (Tommy’s wife) were having a conversation about the music and she claimed his lyrics were too “vague” and he needed to write something more sexual/controversial to appeal to a different type of crowd. Slightly annoyed, yet intrigued; Andrew went home and used a guitar riff him and Tommy had been working on to write the most sexual and easily understandable lyrics he’d written yet. He thought of it more or less as a joke and expected everyone to laugh it off at practice. He was surprised when we all loved it and Lauren sealed the deal by running down to the space and shouting “What did I just hear? That sounded Amazing!” With a reaction like that, we had no choice but to make it part of the set and it’s still one of our favorites we’ve written to this day.

How did you settle on Satya Conger for your music video?
From the first time we played it, it was apparent to us that Mine Oh Mine was less of a song about making love and more of a song about being a slave to our own sexual desires. We wanted a woman that had that wicked sort of hotness that could perfectly personify those desires in the video and we were extremely satisfied with how well Satya Conger fit that roll. All the credit goes to our video Director Nicholas J Longtin though for introducing us to her and recommending her for the part. He knew exactly how to visualize what that song was all about and we couldn’t have been happier.

Your old drummer, Tommy Donohue, ended up recording his first demo for what would be Ashes From Stone. You recorded a demo in 2013 and then a full-length album Riddles and Riots this year. Clearly, your technical sound improved from the first demoed recordings, noticeably in the audio levels. Who produced your new album and are you planning to work with them in the future?
When we first started out, all we could afford to get our music out there was renting out a studio for half a day. We maximized our time by setting up the full band live in one room, miking up our cabinets and drums and banging straight through four tracks. We didn’t have time to mix or master really anything and we knew the quality was shit, but we didn’t care. We wanted people to know we existed and that we were more than just a name or a pipe dream. We really hit our stride though in the spring of 2014 when we met Ian Combs and he produced and recorded our first two tracks from the album “Illusion” and “Mine Oh Mine”, which is why we came back to him and finished the album “Riddles and Riots” the following year. He’s been great to work with and it’s a really easy process for us because we can still have full control while leaving our tracks open to the input and experience he brings to the table. We see no reason why we wouldn’t keep a good thing going with Ian and we look forward to continuing our collaboration in the future.

riddles-and-riotsWhat is the meaning behind the album title?
We face a lot adversity and oppression in this world. It hides behind fake smiles and fat check books, spreading hate with the best of intentions. Meanwhile we point fingers at each other and squabble over questions that can’t be answered. It’s time to flip the switch the other direction and use these tactics against them if we ever want to end this cycle. A Riddle is a question or statement intentionally phrased so as to require ingenuity in ascertaining its answer or meaning, typically presented as a game. This is what they do to us through subliminal messaging and manipulation over the media and entertainment industry. If you want to solve their puzzle, you have to have the ingenuity to win the game. We as a people have been too easily controlled. It’s easy to see through what we’re about to do, especially when we broadcast it all over social media. We need to be harder to read, harder to solve…like a riddle. We need to be harder to defeat and show strength in numbers as well, like a riot. While we don’t condone rioting in residential neighborhoods where people could be injured or small businesses destroyed, we do condone a metaphorical riot of unity and patriotism; A civil disobedience to the New World Order. We figured if we were going to get one message out on the title track that meant something; that would be it.

A number of older songs didn’t make the cut for the first album. Was it hard to whittle them down to the ten or eleven that you included?
With the changes we’ve had to go through creatively on lead guitar and drums since the founding of the band, it was inevitable that we would have to set some songs aside (for now) while we kept ourselves open to what Joey Steele and Mike Mountain brought to our sound. This gave us a really balanced first album between the old AFS and the new and while it definitely was hard to put some of our old favorites away, we haven’t forgotten them and they just might be revived in the future.

Your favorite song to play live is ____________?
It’s hard to nail down a favorite for us, but we know it would be too cliché to say “every song is our favorite.” So instead we’ll just say every new song we write is our favorite to play live until we write another new one. The best songs live are when we can surprise fans with something they haven’t heard yet, there’s nothing quite like introducing a new creation into the world.

Tour plans?
At the moment we’re trying to get our own tour transportation and saving up to fund our own tour. These days there’s a lot of opportunity to buy in on tours with other national bands, but it comes at a hefty price. Bands have begun fund raising campaigns just to afford those buy ins and most of the time they come back off tour broke and have nothing left to spend on recording and other band expenses. The industry isn’t what it used to be, which is why we are waiting until we can fund everything ourselves before we officially announce any tours for us. Until that time we’re just spreading the word as much as possible and we’re plotting out our course so we’re ready when the time comes. We’ve already built some pretty great support here in Minnesota and all over Wisconsin. We’ll be heading down to Iowa soon, so it’s only a matter of time till we’re ready to hit the road for a full Midwest tour. Stay tuned!

So far, what has been the most memorable show for you?
We’ve had a lot of great and memorable shows, more than we could have ever hoped for. However the one that probably stood out the most for us was Tommy’s final show. We played direct support with Hoobastank at Turtle Lake Casino and it was a very emotional and memorable night for all of us. Saying goodbye to Tommy was very hard, but Tommy got a shout out from Douglas Rob of Hoobastank congratulating him on his decision to be a full time father. I know that meant a lot to Tommy and it’s definitely a night none of us will ever forget.

Founding member and ex-drummer Tommy Donohue behind the kit

Founding member and ex-drummer Tommy Donohue behind the kit

Who is your favorite band to play with on stage?
This is another one where it’s difficult for us to pick favorites. We definitely enjoy when we have shows with out of state national touring bands because it’s always an honor playing with bands you listened to growing up and now you get to share the stage with them. However, playing with bands that are in our genre from the twin cities is always the best experience usually. We all get along so well and everyone is so supportive which is something that doesn’t happen as often as you’d like in this scene. Like we said though, it’s hard to pick favorites when we have so many.

There’s no questioning your devotion to Chevelle–even down to the toolbox you bring with you on-stage. The influence was much more pronounced in the beginning, but do you feel like you’re beginning to step into your own?
It’s true that the band started with heavy influences from bands like Chevelle. Andrew’s vocals fit the same range and it was a good band to reference when trying to make a three piece happen. As the music started to shift into a different sound with the addition of the second guitar, we started to hear a whole new sound take shape, a sound that was unique to us and us only and we can only hope someday that another up and coming band uses us as a creative reference point as we’ve done with Chevelle.

I know it’s a pretty basic question, but every band has a different answer. Why do you play music?
We love music. There’s really no beating around the bush on that one. All of us grew up surrounded by music or people we looked up to in the music scene. We’ve all wanted to be on a stage as early as we can remember. There’s nothing on this planet that beats the rush you get when you see a giant crowd of fans singing your lyrics or have someone tell you that your song has a deep meaning with them personally. There’s no fulfillment that beats creating something original with your closest friends and having that creation bring even more friends and new people together. Our music doesn’t just entertain, it unites and inspires people. Until something else in this world brings us that much joy and fulfillment, we’ll never give it up.

One Without – An Interview With Kenny and Catrin

 When going into the studio, how do you usually start the songwriting process?

Kenny: Well, usually me and Joonas write the larger parts of the songs individually, after that we introduce the songs to all the band and we work on finishing them together, and me and Cat will write the vocals and lyrics when the songs are more or less finished. This is all before entering the studio.  Usually when we enter the studio we have a finished idea of how the songs are going to sound, but there might be some changes happening during the recording. For example “Burned Once Again” from “Sweet Relief” had a totally different bridge that we then changed to make it more “electronic”, which in my opinion turned out a lot better. But most of the time we stick to the plan. 🙂

How would you describe the music that you write?
Kenny: We generally refer to it as “modern metal” as we don’t think we fit in just with “metal” or any other genre. We have taken several elements from melodic metal, metalcore, pop, and rock music, and mixed it all together, so I think “modern metal” is a good way to describe the sound. Maybe we should also put in a “progressive” somewhere for future reference, hehe.

What sets you apart from other bands in the metal scene?
Cat: One very big thing is that people often think we are “a typical female fronted band”, whatever that is, but I think they are referring to a symphonic metal band with vocals in an operatic style. Most of them quickly realize though that we are not very close to that at all. I see us as a modern metal band with rock and pop influences.

I’ve been a fan of One Without since 2009, discovering Thoughts Of A Secluded Mind, but you’ve been around since 2005. What did it take for the band to get more attention?
Kenny: It actually took some line-up and attitude changes mostly, and after that was sorted we decided to take a chance and record TOASM (“Thoughts of a…”) without having a record deal backing us up, since we felt that it would probably be easier to get a record deal if we actually had an album finished and ready to go.

How did you guys form the band?
Kenny: Joonas started the band in 2003 alone as a studio project, and as the years went by, the members started dropping in, and a few demos were made. As I mentioned before there have been several lineup changes through the years. I myself joined in 2007, Cat in 2008, and later Joni in 2010 and Håkan in 2011.

“Pretender” had a wicked treatment written for the music video. Whose idea was it?
Kenny: The location was Catrins idea, she knew a family who owned an old house in the middle of the forest outside of Gothenburg, and when we checked it out we knew it would be perfect. Otherwise we all contributed together with the director Markus Mönttinen to get all the ideas done.

You’ve started releasing more music videos to promote your singles. What will be the next single, and can fans expect a music video?
Kenny: We are currently discussing it with our manager, and we might be doing a video for “A Bright New Insight” in a couple of months, but it´s nothing I can guarantee at the moment.

Your songs seem angrier on Sweet Relief, whereas the last album came across as more melancholy with songs like “Farewell” and “Your Game.” What prompted this change?
Kenny: It was natural for us to move in that direction, both in the way we felt personally about all of the music industry and the world in general, but also because we all listen to “heavier” music and feel it´s more natural to move in that direction. We also focused a lot on making the songs fun to play live, and it´s always more fun with aggression and speed when performing.

You have Sweet Relief available to download on Facebook for FREE. How are you able to do that?
Cat: As we released the album on our own label, we were able to do exactly what we wanted to. And the physical album is also available for purchase through our website, along with an opportunity to donate money, so people can decide on their own if they wanna just download or buy or donate.

One Without is from Gothenburg, Sweden. How does your location influence the music you play?
Kenny: Very much, I would have to say. Maybe not as much today, but growing up listening to bands like In Flames, Hammerfall, At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, The Haunted, etc. put a lot of influences in our writing. Nowadays though, we might be more influenced by American metalcore bands, like August Burns Red, Underoath etc.

I’ve always loved “Farewell” not only for its arrangement, but because of the lyrics. Can you explain what the song is about?
Cat: For me it’s an encouragement for people who are hiding who they really are, not only to other people but also to themselves, to say goodbye to their pretended self.

I know a lot of touring is financially based, but would you ever consider doing an international tour?
Cat: Well, we’ve already done a few international tours, but they have never been outside of Europe. So we would love to also tour for example the U.S., South America, Asia, and Africa would also be really cool! Our aim is to play all over the world! We are currently planning something for the U.S. late this year or at the beginning of next, but it´s too soon to announce anything.

When you’re not writing new songs or tearing up the stage, what do you guys do for fun?
Cat: I like to work out, take long baths, and read newspapers, books, blogs etc. Mostly political, psychological and inspirational ones.
And just to give you a little info about what the other guys are doing;
Håkan bets on horses, Joonas rides his motorcycle, Joni works out a lot, Kenny plays videogames a lot. When we hang out with each other outside of touring and rehearsals (and when we have time for it, as all of us also have day jobs) we watch movies, eat food, go to concerts to watch other bands and stuff like that.

Catrin – when did you discover your talent for singing?
I’ve been singing my entire life, even as a child, so I never really discovered it like that, as it has always been there like a part of me.

I’m a fan of the male/female switch-off. Kenny has some brutal screams. Is there a specific technique you use so you don’t lose your voice?
Kenny: Definitely. It took me a few years to develop it, and actually I still am, and I think people will notice on our third album that I try some new techniques. But getting back to your question, yes, you have to be careful to growl in the “right” way so you don´t hurt yourself. A good rule of thumb (as with regular singing) is: “If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.” That´s basically all I ever learned, and all I believe I can give as advice. Sadly enough, I never had anyone teach me how to growl, I just kind of developed it through the years by trying and failing.
If you (the reader) want to learn how to growl there are certainly some good educational videos on YouTube that probably can help you on the way, but there are also bad ones. So be careful!

What does the future look like for One Without?
Cat: Awesome! Our plans for this year is touring Europe/UK in May, record our third album somewhere around July – August, and then do a US tour in late 2012 or early 2013. Release date for the third album will be revealed at a later time.

Final notes:
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, and thanks to everyone reading it!
Remember that you can download our complete second album “Sweet Relief” for free from our website; and we hope to see you all on tour soon!

Jettared – So Much Was Left Unsaid

jettared_group[1]The first time I heard Jettared was during an episode of Roswell. The song was playing on the radio in the background, but something about it intrigued me enough to find out just who it was that sang it. I discovered that the song was titled “A Conversation With The Past (Unsaid).”

Jettared lasted several years, releasing a total of three albums. Songs from their release Nowhere EP were later included on Lovehatelifedreamswork in addition to three new songs. The Forever Collection was their final release in 2005. Vocalist Chris Konkle isn’t afraid to let loose. Melodic verses are marred with emotion and screams of dignity. There’s a brutal honesty in his voice. And the evolution from earlier songs to their last release shows. Incorporated into Jettared’s later work, Konkle’s screams become low growls, more defined, as heard on “Closer.” The only band I can find that might describe what Jettared strived for is the more recent Deftones, though that’s a stretch. Some flairs in their songs could be construed as Deftones influence,

With a metal edge, overdriven guitars power riffs to propel the music. The drums are solid, defying the standards for 4/4 time signatures, popping snares where appropriate. But don’t be confused; Jettared isn’t overly upbeat.

Why haven’t you heard about them? It’s probably because they were mostly known locally in Michigan before disbanding in May of 2006. I was lucky enough to find some downloads online from some really obscure websites to listen to their albums, seeing as they are currently out of print. (Believe me, Jettared’s so good, I searched high and low to try to find a physical copy.)

My personal favorites include the inspirational “A Conversation With The Past (Unsaid),” “May,” and “Empty Apology.” Though, those are just the ones that pick my brain at the moment. Both of their major releases are well worth your time. And since they no longer exist and there’s virtually no other way to obtain their songs, I will provide links to one of their albums. (Sneaky, I know. But let’s face it, if a band dies, their music should live on.) If you like it, send me an email at, and I’ll upload the second one.

Lovehatelifedreamswork (2003)

One Without – A Sweet Relief For Metal Music

 If you’re a fan of female-fronted bands, but are sick of hearing the same tired voice recycled time and again, One Without might be the sweet relief you need.

Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, the 5-piece modern metal band is changing lives with their music. They’ve played shows in Europe and even shared the stage with Soulfly. Up until I heard them, Flyleaf was my all-time favorite “chick” band. But by a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon One Without.

Their music has a distinct flavor to it unlike the majority of female-fronted bands I’ve listened to. Singer Catrin Feymark has a haunting tonal quality with her voice, complimented by the screams of guitarist Kenny Boufadene. For a metal band, they put more effort into emoting with their songs, rather than trying to make every song as heavy as possible. Expect chunky guitar riffs and choruses drowned with some masterful engineer work, blending keyboards and electronics seamlessly into the mix.

One Without’s first big break came in 2009 with the release of Thoughts Of A Secluded Mind. Personal favorites from that album include, but are not limited to: “Farewell,” “Separation,” “Your Game,” “Before We All,” and “Reign With Hate.” But then again, I have to love “Distance Between” and “Withered Serenade” as well. In all honesty, Thoughts Of A Secluded Mind is one of those albums I can listen to the entire way through without having to skip a single track. But if you’re looking for a uplifting music that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Their debut album is wrought with depression and longing. Lyrically, One Without’s music is cathartic. It cuts open wounds to bleed guilt, shame, and sadness. Driving percussion beats nail the songs home, perpetuating themselves where no other band has gone before–at least, not as successfully as One Without.

Their sophomore release in late 2011 brought even more attention to the band. And they are well deserving of it. They’ve spent much of their time on tour promoting their latest chapter, Sweet Relief. The songs have taken on a different, yet still distinct sound. There’s no denying that it’s the same band. Perhaps more U.S. bands should be following their example, though the market would definitely become saturated with copycat bands trying to emulate the success of the original. Sweet Relief follows suit with its predecessor; there is not a dull moment on the record.

Most recently, One Without released the music video for “Nothing To You,” which is the second single from Sweet Relief. Other notable songs to check out include “Pretender,” “Accusing Eyes,” and “Forget Your Pride” if you’re looking for a place to start.

And if you like their music, like them on Facebook. They are allowing fans to download their entire second album free of charge. Just be sure to spread the word about One Without and share with your friends.

32 Leaves – Pensive Music For The Soul

Since briefly touring in support of their album Panorama in 2009, not much has been heard from the band. 32 Leaves is a unique breed of music. Haunting melodies and atmospheric vocals fill the voids between energetic guitar riffs and pounding drum beats.

I remember discovering the band in 2006. One of my friends had been completely immersed in listening to their music. I never even gave them a second thought after he’d mentioned them. Another one of my friends let me borrow one of his mix CDs to rip a song. I merely stumbled upon “Your Lies.” I couldn’t figure out why they sounded familiar.

Suffice to say, I had been missing out on one of the greatest bands I could have ever listened to. By the time I had gotten into them, two years had passed.

32 Leaves released a five track EP titled Fik’shen in 2003. The first three tracks would later make their way onto their first full-length album Welcome To The Fall in 2005. Beginning with “Sudden Change,” the album chronicles pensive emotions like no other. “Blood On My Hands” starts with a looming bass, and in comes the spidery guitars, crawling into the skin. “Your Lies” pushes the boundaries on the standard use of drums. “Wide Awake” takes the listener on the journey of a person in an insomniatic state, rendered lucid with fear from an inebriated significant other. Descending from an emotional cocaine high, “Overflow” paints a vivid picture of coming down one step at a time. The lead single from the album, “All Is Numb,” follows suit with its predecessor songs in telling vocalist Greg Norris’s narrative.

The next two years, 32 Leaves would tour in support of their debut album with Crossfade, Smile Empty Soul, Evans Blue, and similar in sound, 10 Years. They were able to attract Universal Records to sign a deal for their follow-up album Panorama, but it ultimately did not work out. Independently releasing the long-awaited second release, the band toured only minimally.

Panorama takes off from where the previous record left off, but with a slightly different approach. Songs were still thought-provoking, but not nearly as brooding and pensively. Guitars took on a different mix, slightly on the higher side, changing the overall sound of Panorama. The single “Way Beyond” was released as a part of the album. Songs like “Human” and “Protocol” show the evolution of 32 Leaves four years later, and stronger than ever.

32 Leaves is a definite must-have for any rocker’s arsenal, especially if they’re fans of 10 Years.

Herotide – “Music Was My Only Outlet”

Hailing from South Africa, Herotide have been making a name for themselves. Started by John Dirker after breaking his back from a dirt bike accident, the band has trudged its way through the local music scene attracting much attention. Beginning with a 5FM Unearthed contest under the name Switchback, Dirker ended up winning the contest with the song “Troublegirl.” It’s never been about selling millions of records and claiming fame for them. They do what they love, and it shows through their music. Occasionally, criticized for trying to imitate bands like Seether and Theory Of A Deadman, the truth is that they just write what they feel, and any similarities are simply coincidence. Dirker’s personal story of how he started writing music is inspirational, to say the least. Being laid up in bed, losing many who were close to him, and almost never walking again, it’s a testimony to something greater looking out for him. It’s something that has inspired others and helped them keep going.

There’s a certain honesty in your lyrics that I feel anyone can relate to. How do the lyrics come about when writing your songs?
Thank you. Yeah, I just write about what bothers me, or what is going through my head. I don’t try and be a poet or over think it at all, or try and impress people that I have a vocabulary, just plain English and plain feelings. We all have love, miss, hate, etc.

For most of the fans I’ve talked to, “Want You” is the reason they started listening to Herotide. For me, the song “Friend” was the song that hooked me when I first heard it. While most of your other songs are upbeat, this one slows down the tempo and seems somewhat mournful. What was the inspiration behind “Friend?”
You are so right about “Want You.” I think it’s the song and sound people liked, and that they can compare it to their favorite artists, place it so to speak. It wouldn’t be bad idea doing a music vid for it.

“Friend” — The inspiration about that song was from being in the hospital. I had many, many friends, until I broke my back. I could count them on my right hand. I wrote it lying on my back and the words just came out by itself from what I was feeling.

Within the last year, your fan base has exploded and you are playing RAMfest 2012. What are you anticipating for that festival?
Thank you, it surely has. It’s merely ‘cause I got members again and we started doing shows. Thats how it all flamed up again. We landed some big gigs as a new band “Herotide” doing a massive New Year’s show and Ramfest coming up. The Festival should be cool and very well received. They will be having it in 5 cities across S.A.

Being in the US, I haven’t had the privilege to see Herotide play any shows. What songs do you usually play in a setlist?
It depends what crowd there is. We always have to feel them, or if it’s a conservative setting, but “Track of Time,” “Losing Me,” and “Want You” are normally on the setlist, but we always throw in new ones and test them out too.

What’s your favorite song to play live?
Track of Time

I originally discovered your music because I found a blog saying you sounded a little like Shaun Morgan of Seether. How do you feel about people making comparisons to what you write and other bands?
Yeah it’s becoming old news, its irritating, but it’s a good and bad thing at the same time. But I guess it makes people notice right? lol nothing against Shaun or Seether though, cause I know him. He’s even been at my Recording Studio, Tanglewoods Studios, and home.

I guess it’s the Nirvana influence we both have, my accent and my voice, like Sick Puppies from Australia. There’s a few bands in Australia that sounds similar to them ‘cause of the vocals department

What does your pedalboard look like when it comes to effects. Is it the standard clean/distortion, or are there other nuances that you add?
I play with a Mesa Boogie Triple rectifier with 4/12 Cab

The core of Herotide has been you and your brother Andre. Is that how the band started?
Not at all. Long story short, there’s been many members that have come and gone and that’s actually how Andre started. He saw with what nonsense I had to put up, he wanted to do it. Well he pulled it off big time and now I couldn’t ask for a better drummer, and being my brother, what a bonus.

herotide_banner[1]You’ve been competing against other bands in the South African music scene for almost a decade now. How do the other bands differ in sound from what you do?
There aren’t bands really from SA that has a similar sound to us. Most have a Indie sound, like The Killers. A lot play with synths and tracks, or your metal bands.

Halo was released in 2008 under the name Track Of Time. You changed your name from Switchback to Track Of Time, to Herotide now. The one thing that I’ve noticed remained consistent through most of it was the use of the angel wings in your logos and promotional material. What is the meaning behind the wings?
Yea, both names ended up with legal issues, but hey at least we have a name now that comes up first on all search engines haha.

The angel wings inspiration comes from me being nearly paralyzed, like I had a guardian angel watching over me, and that I could walk again.

When can we expect the next album to be released, and what is the possibility for you to be signed by a major label?
We will be releasing EP’s this year. It’s more material and content in a short span, and then do a album compilation after a cycle.

Don’t know about the major label thing as we haven’t given it any thought. The industry isn’t big here, well for English rock there isn’t. There was a lot of interest in the U.S. from many industry people. Roadrunner was one of them. I even have the e-mails still, but each time when something great happened, it fell through. I guess its cause were on a different continent, and it’s a risk for them, but who knows what the future holds or who’s eyes are looking at us.

You’ve recently played Mossel Bay, the KFC sessions, and other huge shows, and it seems like Herotide is gaining momentum. What’s in the near future for you guys?
Thank you, it’s just keeping at it and what you love to do!
We will be doing a crossover to a different language Afrikaans and release Afrikaans material that were currently busy with but join us to see what were up to

HURT – An Interview With Drummer Victor Ribas

Hurt began as a creation of vocalist J. Loren Wince in 2000. After self-releasing two albums, Hurt was picked up by Capitol Records, releasing Vol. 1 and Volume II before being dropped by the label for “strictly financial reasons.” One of the most recognized of Hurt’s repertoire, “Ten Ton Brick,” was actually intended for another album, but was forced to be included on the tracklisting by pressure from the label. After being manipulated by record labels, replacing every single member of the band except Loren himself, Hurt continues to thrive on. Self-producing Goodbye To The Machine in 2009, their sound changed slightly, giving every one of their records an identity. Their latest work is due for release on March 27, titled The Crux. This highly anticipated album has already garnered great reviews on its first single “How We End Up Alone” with one critic raving, “This is undoubtedly the most underrated band in rock today. Do not miss The Crux… and if they come anywhere near your town, drive over your own grandma for tickets if you have to!”

The band that sets to defy industry standards today might be taking a backseat to more trendy pop-oriented music, but their loyal fan base keeps pushing. In a symbiotic relationship, the band relies on the fans just as much as the fans depend on their music. And the band never forgets it. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of interviewing Hurt’s newest addition, Victor Ribas.
Hey, Victor, I appreciate you taking the time for doing the interview. You’re Hurt’s new drummer on the forthcoming release “The Crux.”  Most of the guys are from the eastern U.S. but you’re from Seattle. How did you land the gig to play with the band?
First, you’re welcome.  It’s my pleasure to chat.   Hmmmm.  Joining HURT.  That seems so long ago. I believe I was in San Diego for a few days attending a Buddhist Convention when I got a call from an old guitar player friend of mine back in Saint Louis.  He asked me if I’d ever heard of the band HURT.  At the time, I had only heard of the band’s radio songs like “Rapture,” “Ten Ton Brick,” and “Falls Apart.” So, my buddy mentioned meeting Michael at a show and caught wind that the band was quietly seeking a new drummer.  Michael got my number and he called me a few days later.  The band flew me to Sickhouse Studios in Saint Louis for the audition.  They had me learn a whole list of songs from all of the records, which proved to be much more challenging than I had originally expected.  But honestly the story that sticks out from the audition the most is what happened in between playing HURT songs.  For the audition, I was playing on someone else’s drum kit and was just messing around to get comfortable. I started playing one of my favorite drum grooves ever, the breakdown from Tool’s “Eulogy” (“You claimed all this time that you would die for me…..”)  I’ve always been a huge fan of Danny Carey from Tool, and that groove is just really fun to play. I stopped and it was obvious the guys knew what I was playing. Michael flipped out, Rek had this grin on his face, and J. said something straight forward like, “Man that’s pretty good.”  I could tell that it had made an impression. After the audition we all stepped outside and sat down for a chat. They asked me questions that you’d expect; “Where did you come from?, Do you have any serious commitments that would prevent you from touring? Do you have any serious financial debts?” Stuff like that. After about 20 minutes of railing me, the guys said another drummer would be showing up at any minute for another audition. As I walked out the front door, another guy was walking in. That was a little awkward.  The next day I got a call from all the guys on speakerphone telling me to get my ass to Saint Louis.  Five days after that I played my first show with HURT in Saint Louis at a festival called Pointfest in front of around 15,000 people.

What is your favorite part of playing with Hurt so far?
It would have to be that we all challenge each other to better ourselves as musicians and artists. All of us have very high expectations for each other because we all realize just how talented we all are. I am EXTREMELY lucky to be playing with some of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever met. I could tell during my first rehearsal with the band that they would challenge me no matter how good or bad I was. On top of that I enjoy the brotherhood that we’ve become.  All of us are in this for the same reasons, aiming for the same goal. Not one of us is unappreciative of the other and that lays a foundation of respect that fosters great musicianship. Also, since joining the band I’ve learned a great deal about the business side of things from our manager, Tom. I’m grateful for that.

Going from Vol. 1 & II to Goodbye To The Machine, there were two different drummers. You replaced Louie Sciancalepore in 2010 and had a hand in the writing of The Crux. How does your style of playing complement Hurt’s compositions on this next album?
Really tough question to answer.  When joining an already established band with an already established sound, it’s important to find your role in the family because that role has probably already been defined by the previous drummers.  Honestly, from the first rehearsals and first tour, I could tell that above all other things, the band needed a drummer who was open minded enough to try their ideas. My style of playing is one of open mindedness and collaboration. Two heads are better than one, three better than two, etc….   I think a lot of drummers get so caught up in the rhythms in their head that they forget that a song usually starts out as some words and a guitar riff.  It’s important not to get in the way of that.  I wanted to see how the band would react to having a kind of freedom where they can come up with beats for the songs they had written. When working on THE CRUX, the guys would show me a song and, like always, a million ideas would come into my head.  But I wanted to let them experiment with rhythms in their own heads before I laid down any foundation.  It was all very collaborative.  Also, the band really emphasized the fact that they were going big with this album. J. wanted this to be the best HURT record released to date, so I knew the drum sounds had to be huge but also diverse in sounds and dynamics.  I definitely believe we achieved that goal.

When you were younger you had a rare hip disease that almost prevented you from being able to play the drums. When everything was said and done, how did that affect your ability to play and the life you had as a child? I assume growing up with that condition must have been difficult and probably changed the way you looked at life.
It didnt just almost prevent me from playing drums. At the age of 7 or so they almost had to amputate my leg. As a result of the illness, when i was a child I had a few years that were somewhat difficult. Not being able to do physically active things. But I believe that knowing I could have lost my leg gave me a very strong appreciation for life and what I do now. Although, I think I may have still ended up a musician regardless. Who knows?
What kindled your interest in playing music?
When I was five years old my mom forced me into piano lessons. I pretty much instantly fell in love with music. I can confidently say that I would not be the person I am today had I not become a musician. For me, drums have become a method of expressing myself when I feel as though I cannot. I think the rest of the band sees music in the same way and thats why we work so well as an ensemble.  You can hear in J.’s voice he’s singing something real, EVERY SINGLE TIME. I like to believe he does that because sometimes just saying the words doesn’t communicate the point enough. I can relate to that.
Your boss gave you a week off to record the drum tracks. How easy is it to hold a job and pursue your passion?
Great question.  I wouldn’t know.  I don’t have a day job.
You will be continuing the acoustic tour until the end of February due to popular demand by fans. When stripping down the performance, what changes stylistically?
Very little changes stylistically. We could tell early on that most of the songs lended themselves to an acoustic setting naturally.  However, what does change is the voicing of the instruments. We have a cello player on tour with us, J. plays guitar, banjo, and violin, and Rek has a few basses. I play a lot of odd ended things in the acoustic show:  hand drums, chimes, singing bowls, tambourine, Latin blocks, etc…  And I also play my kit with a wide range of mallets, brushes, multi sticks, and drum sticks. From the beginning of rehearsals it was very challenging to hear how the drum parts would mold with acoustic instrumentation.  But as time went on, the show grew and became something really intimate and magical.  By the end of December, I felt very comfortable with the reconstructed drum parts. We also removed any sense of smoke and mirrors from the show. No big lights or smoke machines. Just four guys playing our hearts out in front of our fans. I can honestly say that some of my favorite shows I’ve ever performed have been from the acoustic tour.
Do you have any crazy stories from touring this last year?

Do you mean other than J. almost getting arrested, nearly dying on the highway, going three days without sleep, J. throwing his guitar on stage during a show, the power going out at another, playing backstage for fans, losing my phone, waking up in strange places… to strange people, and almost getting mugged next to the Mexican border? Yes………………..  No comment.

Check out one such crazy story at:

Alright man, thanks a lot for your time. Any last words you want to say to your fans?

Of course.  To the fans I would like to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for doing what you do for this band.  It allows us to do what we do and that’s such an amazing thing. You are our family and friends. Also, be ready. We have HUGE things planned for 2012.

2011: A Review of the Last Year

2011 came and went and didn’t really leave much of a mark on the music industry. Sure, there were great singles, but that’s about it. And that’s the problem. The music business has turned into a single-oriented society. No one buys whole albums anymore. Physical CDs? What’s the point? We’re an entitled society who downloads tunes for free at the bands’ expense. (If you’re going to download illegally, at least have some intention of buying the album at some point in the future.) I advocate freedom on the internet to have that material there, but I also support the bands. If I download something and like it, I’ll go out and buy it…

Sorry to say, there’s not much of that this year. Hell, Seether’s latest release had to compete with Kidz Bop and Lady Gaga. No contest, one would think. But it’s not so. However, this year hasn’t been a complete waste. Here are the albums that I think were outstanding this year listed in no specific order:

Seether – Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray

Seether’s album names just keep getting longer! And their records keep getting… better? No, that’s not the word I’m looking for. Every one of their albums is great in their own respect. It’s different. It’s the next chapter in the Seether saga. Guitarist Troy McLawhorn brought something to the table that changed the way the songs sounded. Producer Brendan O’Brien helped buffer the band and their label to create the best album possible with the writing process that took over a year. Starting out with the heavy-hitting ‘Fur Cue,’ the album progresses through the process of trying to let go of things in life that seek to pull you under. My personal favorites were the almost-happy ‘Tonight’ and the mourning ‘Forsaken.’ If you purchased the deluxe edition, you were privileged to four B-sides that didn’t make the album, the best of which being a song called ‘Yeah,’ inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem. Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray is a definite must-have for fans of rock music. Those who said, “Seether lost it” with Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces should be able to find their way back to the fold if they happened to stray.

Cold – Superfiction

For all the Cold fans who cried when they heard that the band had broken up in 2006 (myself included), Cold is back and stronger than ever. Their latest album brings back a certain vibe that their 1998 self-titled release had. Scooter began writing “epic” tales through music, everything from kings and witches to Spiderman. The album starts out strong with ‘Wicked World,’ which I personally believe is the best-mixed song this year. There is so much going on in that one song, you have to keep listening to it to discover the depth to it. The song ‘Crossroads’ talks about a musician selling his soul to the devil, but the devil takes pity on the man and releases him from his contract. ‘Flight Of The Superstar’ recreates a little bit of The Killer And The Star with a light, atmospheric flow. Sam McCandless’s drumming on Superfiction is phenomenal. Now it’s just up to fans to get the music to radio stations contented with playing mainstream hits.


Staind – Staind

The pressure of writing their latest release was enough to cause drummer Jon Wysocki to leave the band. Everyone in the studio was pissed-off; deadlines were crunched; the album threatened the very existence of Staind. And it shows on the record. While Staind doesn’t completely bring back the rawness that existed on Tormented or Dysfunction, there’s a certain heaviness that makes one wonder what the band had to go through during the writing process to bring out that much anger. Squealing guitars, pounding basslines, and vocals that transform from a whisper to a full-on roar, that’s what you can expect. The album has already spawned several chart-topping singles, managed a song on the Transformer’s soundtrack, and no doubt caused several apartment residents to get evicted for blaring the album at full blast.

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

I’m not going to lie; I’ve never been able to get completely through a Foo Fighters album. They’re an amazing band, but usually not with albums that captivate me all the way. Wasting Light was a stellar album that made me find new appreciation for their older releases. I had to go back and listen to hear if I had missed something. And I made it all the way through Wasting Light on the first listen. The album starts strong and ends strong. Rope’s off-tempo guitar intro intrigued me. The haunting ‘I Should Have Known’ laments about Dave Grohl’s previous relationships, touching on the tragic death of Kurt Cobain. It also featured original Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic. ‘Walk’ and its buildup complimented the preceding songs, and was an excellent way to end Wasting Light.


Chevelle – Hats Off To The Bull

A little bit Vena Sera, a little bit Sci-fi Crimes, and a little bit Point #1, Chevelle managed to meld their sound into something interesting and new. The guitar groove on ‘Same Old Trip’ has this energetic buildup. The repetitive ‘Face To The Floor’ screams volumes about corporate executive on Wall Street screwing people. ‘Pinata’ shows a different side of the hard-rocking band we’ve always known; the tempo changes evoke a sense of madness spiraling downward. Chevelle has done it again with yet another successful release. It’s the same Chevelle I grew up loving, just a different flavor.

Crossfade – We All Bleed

After being out of the scene for several years and leaving their label, Crossfade came back with an album completely different from anything they’ve done before. Some songs hint at styles from earlier CDs, but it’s completely new and refreshing. ‘Killing Me Inside’ and ‘Dead Memories’ show their heavier approach. ‘Prove You Wrong’ is arguably their most original song on We All Bleed, verses propelled by electronic samples and reverb. Ed Sloan slows things down with ‘Dear Cocaine,’ written for friends he’d seen lose control in their life because of substance abuse. A ballad of sadness, Sloan emotes the experience of a cocaine high through music, abruptly going into minor key changes and absences of instrumentation. Listeners won’t know what to expect, since Crossfade doesn’t follow the verse-chorus-verse format for every song. With several change-ups, expect to feel the emotions the band intended listeners to experience.

Egypt Central – White Rabbit

A little-known band where I live since they don’t get any airplay, Egypt Central is a worthy contender for radio stations. I was driving to my Uncle’s house in Wisconsin when ‘White Rabbit’ came on Madison’s rock station. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a song that didn’t reinvent the wheel, but brought a dimension back to straight-forward rock. They’re like a heavier version of The Exies. They know when to go balls-to-the-walls with a song, and when to hold off depending on what the song needs. ‘Ghost Town’ has gets quiet with a piano verse and builds up to the slow-burn chorus. Check them out… like now!

Then there were bands with albums I’ve only heard parts of. But judging by the little I’ve heard, they’re sure to be just as successful. For your listening pleasure…

Honorable mentions:

Bush – Sea Of Memories

Nickelback – Here And Now

Blue October – Any Man In America 


Posted in: Chvelle,Cold,Crossfade,Egypt Centra

Saturate: “In Our Own Way” – The Only Way We Would Have It

saturate[1]The first artist to be featured is a well-deserving band from Baytown, TX. Their sound is so unique, I won’t even try to classify them. SATURATE has been working hard to promote their name since their conception in 2005. Their last album, The Point Of No Return is a culmination of various influences that make their music what it is. Most importantly, they stress that the music should speak for itself.

The Point Of No Return yielded a strong arsenal of songs that further expands on Saturate’s first record, Soul Element. They are currently working hard on their next release, with the lead single “In Our Own Way” being a strong start. I interviewed vocalist Jimmy Miller about what  approach to music he and his fellow bandmates take when writing material.
Your songs are so different from what I’m used to hearing. What inspires you to write music with such a distinct sound that can be identified as Saturate?
We never set out to write anything other than what we felt inside of us.  Each member of Saturate had been involved in a music scene for many years and had been through the trials and tribulations of being a young musician before ever having joined this band.  Moving beyond that identity of youth and inexperience was the basic goal we set for ourselves and for our music upon Saturate’s formation.  We wanted to play the music we would be proud of for the years to come without current industry styles or trends getting in the way of what we felt was inside of us, and we felt that what we had to say and the music we had to write was worth it.  As for our sound I think that our albums paint a vivid picture of the fact that what we ‘feel’ is what we put down… i.e. you can’t sit listen to one track and fully grasp what we are about, each track reaches in its own direction and paints its own picture.  The strange part about that though is where this question started about the “Saturate sound”….if you’re listening to one of our tracks whether it’s hard, soft, acoustic, rhythmic, reggae or whatever, you know instantly that it’s Saturate.  The reason behind that though is beyond me for sure, but the best reason I could probably give you is that we (the four of us) have always had a connection and been kindred spirits long before we ever met and will long after we’ve gone….that sound will always be ours and ours alone, whether it can be defined or not.
You recently parted ways with your keyboardist; how has this changed the way that the band writes now that you are a four-piece?
To be honest it didn’t change a thing about the way we write.  We started Saturate long before there was an official keyboard/synth player and while it was good and right for its time, that time has now passed and we’re focused on the same goals and passion that have always driven the core of this band, the music.
My favorite track from your last release was “Hollow Eyes.” The lyrics are captivating, and the song itself is powerful. It’s one that you rarely play live, but I’ve seen a video where Jimmy introduces it saying, “If you know somebody who does too many pills… I just want you to know this song is about losing somebody.” What is the message behind it?
Actually that song (along with every song we’ve put down on record) has been played countless (hundreds) of times live…the reason our songs seem to get lost in the live show is the amount of shows we play for one, the way we decide our setlists (based on crowd reaction on the fly), and also the fact that we debut our songs in their infantile stages.  By the time we get the songs perfected, laid down in the studio, mixed, & then mastered, we are already focused on newer music that will be on the next album.  I remember the quote you are talking about in introducing Hollow Eyes and that was more of a broken thought that I bit my tongue on.  I started to say something and halfway through I decided to keep it inside and change my words, however I will say that in referring to ‘losing someone’ I was more speaking to the idea of losing someone as you knew them, or losing the idea of someone and the way they existed in your mind (their own changes that didn’t mirror your expectations of them as a person or loved one).  Some people just let you down, ya know.  That embodies what Hollow Eyes is really about… about coming to terms with what a relationship has transformed into and what that other person has done to themselves (and I don’t necessarily mean relationship in the traditional sense, any kind of human interaction is what I refer to in all of our songs).
Can you elaborate on the music video for “Keep Digging?” The lyrics alone have so much meaning behind them, and the video only amplifies that. It’s not the typical verse-chorus-verse that everyone hears so often, and it seems to me more like a narrative with a story.
While all of our songs have many many different ways of looking at them and different stories hidden in the overall theme, Keep Digging is at its core a story.  A story from the outside in of a boy digging his hole, much as the old saying about digging your own grave.  The difference here is that he (the boy) knows it, he craves it, he wants it, and he wants to dig a grave/hole so deep that he breaks through to the other side of whatever ground he is on.  The old man (narrator) standing on the edge of the hole is in fact his older, calmer self, who has long since forgotten why he would have ever put so much passion into what seems such a meaningless and self-destructive path, but the boy knows better, he feels it and so he acts upon that feeling digging deeper still with every bit of shouting that his passionless future screams at him.  It’s means many things really but in this instance it’s about never giving up, never giving in, and never listening to words of doubt no matter what dirt they dig up on you…ask me on a different day and I may decide to let you in on a different aspect if what it all means to me but today that’s where it is at.
The new single “In Our Own Way” was just released and I’m really digging it! I understand that you’re currently in the studio working on your third major album. What can we expect from the next release?
Everyone can expect what they have always expected from Saturate….the unexpected.  When it’s time, you’ll see what I mean.  Expect it in mid-2012.
I also heard that your previous albums were produced solely by yourselves. What is that like? 
It’s the only way we would have it.  I really can’t say any more than that.  If you let someone write your songs for you then you’ve lost your soul.  Not to say that outside influence and assistance isn’t necessary, but when someone comes along that shares our vision of art, music , and lyric for that moment, we instantly know it, and at that point both they and we know what the limits of suggestion are and aren’t.
Your tour with Future Leaders of the World was cut short last year around this time due to lack of funding. With the advent of your next album coming out, are there any places you’d like to visit or bands you’d like to tour with?
We’ve always had a short list of bands we would like to tour with (some reasonable, some not-so-much lol).  But that tour with F.L.O.T.W. was actually a tour with Flaw (one of many), who happen to be close friends of ours in the industry.  Flaw is a band we will tour the country and/or the world with ANY day ANY time, because we understand each other, we know each other, and we love & respect each other on a level that many bands out there have forgotten about in this industry.  There are others we think we would really gel with and would benefit us in huge ways but name-dropping is something we’ve come to not be so fond of, AND you never know who people really are until you peel away the stage and spend some time with them on a personal level.  I think our fans know who we would do well with and we’ll just hope for the best for the future.  I will add that as a band we would like to get overseas to hit Europe pretty badly at some point.
I feel like mainstream radio doesn’t give you the credit you deserve. Is there anything the fans can do to help get you plays on the air or promote your music?
It’s less about cramming us down their throats and more about letting the music speak for itself.  Radio has been good to us but not as good as its been to the cookiecutter bands over-saturating the market these days (forgive the pun lol).  Internet radio is a great start, BUT if people don’t start really supporting FM ROCK RADIO and letting the bigwigs at these stations know what you really want, then it WILL die on us, and it will be sooner than later.  I hope this doesn’t happen in all honesty…I still love the radio, especially rock radio and it makes me sad to see it dying out.  If anyone wants to really help though just do the simple act of playing our music whenever and wherever you can, and sharing us with those that you know will dig it.