May 192012
 

There was a healthy amount of expectation that Travis Meeks (Days of the New) would repeat some of his past discomfiting onstage antics at Jim Porter’s last night.  A smashed guitar, an angry outburst at a fan or sound man, or an inebriated tumble off stage would not have been unforeseen.  Surprisingly, none of the aforementioned occurred.  The Travis that performed last night was the musician his fans came to see… one who was focused on the task at hand – performing.

Meeks/DOTN opened with “Flight Response” and followed up with the former radio hit, “Enemy.”  Meeks addressed the crowd directly for the first time after completing two songs to say, “Thanks a lot; thanks a lot… Yeah, I’m looking good, huh?  At least I think so…” By looking good, he could have been referencing the unusual outfit he was wearing, or he could have been referring to his seemingly sober appearance.  Diet Pepsi appeared to be the beverage of choice for the night, at least on stage.

It was the 1998 hit, “Shelf in the Room,” that turned an empty dance floor into a collection of standing people coming in to the stage area to get a closer look at the performance.

Choosing from any one of the five Taylor guitars onstage, Meeks continued to  play through a set list that included other well-known tracks of “Touch, Peel and Stand” and the closer, “The Down Town.”  Lesser known songs such as “Super Hero,” “Cling,” “Provider,” “Take Me Back Then,” and “Dancing With the Wind” were also performed to a smaller posse of die-hard fans.  Nothing was played from the ‘red’ album, and little from the newest, more wordly-sounding material.

The introductions and endings throughout the night were filled with his trademark feedback-laced expressions and tones, setting a mood and navigating him to a place where he was satisfied to begin or end.  While he seemed edgy at times, there was a transparency to his moments of settling in to a zone during certain points of the night.  These moments produced a show worth seeing, proving that a professional Travis Meeks on his game is a hard act to beat.

Following the show, backstage, a frazzled statement by the singer made while moving his equipment showed the reality of falling from the tall pedestal of fame… “I’m not a rockstar anymore… I gotta’ work!”

I say, “keep up the good work.”

May 192012
 

It was August 7 when my last post was written, and it is no coincidence that the date directly coincides with the “calm before the storm” known as the Fall Semester.  College students abound know what I am talking about… and instructors do too.  An incredibly busy time lies right around the corner, so you try to soak up as many minutes of peace and tranquility as you can prior to the onset of endless emails, phone calls, assignments, exams, papers, traffic, and the like.  As negative as this may sound, I actually loved every second of it.  My time as a Psychology Instructor at JCTC and IUS provided some of the best memories and experiences one could ask for.  My time at UPS was truly rewarding as well.  But, was it busy having 3 jobs?“Busy” is a brutal understatement.

So it serves as no surprise that my time spent reviewing music has been nil since then.

Well, things have changed just a bit for me.  I no longer do any of those things.  While I would love to say that this is due to my hitting the Powerball, and that I am blogging to you from a Tahitian beach on a remarkable Wi-Fi signal, that is not the case (sadly).  However, I have changed careers, and my time may be a tad more plentiful these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still crazy busy in my new position at Norton Healthcare, as I always find a way to plunge into things in an unrestrained kind of way, but I have joined the millions of normal people in the world who just have one full-time job.  … Plus writing.  … Plus being in a band (that hibernates 9 months of the year).  … Plus DJing on the side.

OK… maybe not so “normal.”  Still, better.

With this explanatory post complete, I now feel compelled to deliver some further music copy your way.

Aug 072011
 

I recently received a CD entitled Retribution submitted by a band from southern Indiana known as “J.M.B.” Due to a U.S. Postal Service malfunction, their first attempt of mailing said CD has still not arrived.  Luckily, they sent a second one.  However, due to my much needed Florida vacation, a failed attempt at acquiring a full-time teaching position, my 62 part-time jobs, and various personal responsibilities, this review has been even further delayed.

The opening track, “How’s Life After Love,” transports listeners to a simpler time in rock and roll.  Straight forward riffs, power beat drumming, intense vocals, screaming guitar solos, gang vocals on the chorus… it is the prototypical rock song.  Though the vocal styling is reminiscent of the 80’s power ballad/hard rock style, there’s even a bit of seemingly unintentional vocal homage to James Hetfield throughout.  And you know what?  It’s nice to listen to a no frills rock standard these days, which is greatly outnumbered in a sea of auto-tuned rappers who can’t sing or whatever pop garbage is popular at any given moment.

We find the top range of singer Jay Moore’s voice in “Choose The Road,” which at the 4:44 mark may shatter windows in your home or car.  Again, the 80’s power ballad vocal is unmistakable.  That is meant as a compliment.  I also have a soft-spot for the bass/drum moments in rock.  Barry Moore lays down the groove nice and smooth here, and shows off some nice fills during later tracks as well.  I do have to say that the children speaking at the end of the song is not my favorite part, but it doesn’t get uber- creepy until the boy’s repetitions of “Let Freedom Ring” at the very end. I’ve never liked that move in music (having kids in songs), but to each his own!

The record takes an odd turn at “You Want To” with a keyboard part that makes me feel like I am in an Old West saloon, but the rock path becomes fully paved again with the next few tracks.  The group goes acoustic on “Slow Down” and hints of a Bon Jovi influence are noticeable.  I dig this track a lot, but I would have really loved to hear it “go to 11” when the drums kick in… full on electric, heavy!  It exercises restraint, which apparently I have none of.

“Cursed” is probably one of my favorite tracks.  Catchy, but not at the cost of selling out.  It is just a well-written piece with a nifty opening riff and an interesting vocal melody throughout.  It is a really good tune.  I find a nice opportunity to throw up my “rock fist” during the chorus of “Don’t Want to Hear,” which pretty much sells me on a song of any kind.  Excellent guitar tones stand out to me in “Part of Me,” and that is always a nice thing.  No matter how good your songs are, tone matters, and it can make or break a recording.  Kudos to guitarist Michael Rubadue for being tone-conscious.

The CD closes with “Hold on to Your Dreams.”  Moore urges listeners yet again, “C’mon people!”  The lyrics say it plainly: “Some people say I’m immature.  They don’t understand what I do.  At least I know what I want.”  I can dig that.

The CD is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon Mp3.  Check out the band’s website for all the latest happenings at http://www.jmbband.com/.

May 312011
 

Foreigner pumped out some high-energy rock and roll at Freeman Lake on Friday, May 27 in Elizabethtown.

The concert was put on as part of the Summer Concert Series, a push led by City Councilman, Kenny Lewis.  Find out more info about upcoming shows at their website, http://www.etownconcerts.com/.  As Kenny brought out the opening act, a tone-setting comment was made: “Folks, I have good news… it’s not gonna’ rain tonight!”  After a promise of one of the best shows we have ever seen, the show was on.

Kenny Lewis

The night began with The Headstones, a band right out of E-town.

The Headstones

They played a really good set, covering an assortment of hits from the 1960s and 70s, including “Mony Mony,” “Pretty Woman,” “Wooly Bully,” and many more.  Headstones highlight of the night? Lead vocalist, Mike Bigelow, had a fever, and the only prescription was more cowbell!  That’s right, after seeing the “Don’t Fear the Reaper” Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, the cowbell is now my favorite instrument of all time.  “Gimme’ Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd required the use of it.  Very nice.  The band closed with a medley of “Devil in a Blue Dress” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”  I thought they put on a fantastic show.

Up next was Foreigner, a band that I was super-psyched to see.

Foreigner

I grew up listening to Foreigner, and have always considered them to be one of my favorite acts.  Despite the fact that their original lineup has dwindled to an Army of one, guitarist, Mick Jones, it was still incredible to see.  Vocalist, Kelly Hansen, does an outstanding job keeping the original Foreigner sound alive, and has done so since 2005.

The band opened strong with “Double Vision,” followed by “Head Games.”  After the opening numbers, Kelly also expressed his enthusiasm about the absence of rain.  He asked, “Are you ready to have a party?”  After an energetic cheer from the crowd, he continued, “Then let’s get started!”  The mega-hit, “Cold as Ice” was Hansen’s idea of how to get that party started.  Later in the set, a bit of flirtation with the ladies in the audience ensued.  You know that you are a rock star when the pickup line of calling yourself a “Dirty White Boy” works.

To cool things down a bit, Foreigner cranked out the ballad, “Say You Will.”  Thom Gimbel, the multi-talented musician who mostly plays guitar showed his stuff on flute that evening for a love song or two, as well as saxophone on “Urgent.”  The group picked it up again later on with the legendary rock anthem, “Feels Like The First Time.”

Foreigner rocks E-Town

The last song of the night was their biggest hit, 1984′s power-ballad, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”  For this closer, some very fortunate choir members from Central Hardin High School had the honor of performing along with the band.  If that wasn’t good enough, Foreigner also chipped in $1000 for their program, which will go a long way purchasing new risers.  The entire crowd was singing along, but something tells me that our group of 6 could be heard above many.  I have the recording to prove it, and I may need to hold on to it for blackmail purposes!

Foreigner at Freeman Lake

The band is overseas in support of Journey and Styx until early July, and will be back in the U.S. on 7/21.  Tour dates are listed on their website, http://www.foreigneronline.com/, through October.

Excellent show, excellent weather, and plenty of “rock-fisting!”

May 312011
 

Day 2 of Abbey Road on the River was a much more pleasant experience than Day 1 and its “raininess.”  It was delightfully overcast and mild, and thankfully, dry.  This made the Beatles music in the air that much better.

The first band I saw was Gary Quinn(well, I think!  I never heard an introduction, but the photos I took of him matched pretty well).  Whomever it was, they did a nice rendition of Lennon’s “I’m Losing You.”  I thought the singer’s head was going to pop off during the full throttle ending.  Nicely done, fellow bald man.

It wasn’t long before I met a celebrity.  Mike Olie (“Olie” being short for something much longer and German) is a Paul McCartney look-alike.  Though he doesn’t play in a band, he certainly picked up the attention of a rock star.  Not quite Liverpool, Mike hails from Livermore, Colorado, hence his nickname, “Sir Paul of Livermore.”  You can check out his site at paulmccartneylookalike.com.

Mike Olie with my sister, Erika

Probably my favorite band of the festival was the BeatRadicals.  The band comes to us from Germany, and put on a very entertaining show.  The group’s matching black and white attire, topped off by slick patent leather shoes, was flashy and symbolic of their energy on stage.  I got some great pictures of the band, as they hammed it up for me at every turn.

BeatRadicals

The climax of their set was “Live and Let Die.”  They did an excellent version of McCartney’s classic without the backing instrumentation.  Props to them all around.  See more of the band at thebeatlive.de.

The day before, I first noticed a woman who was having a particularly good time.  She was dancing free-spirited and rocking out like none other.  When I saw her again Day 2, I had to find out her story.

Laurie Proia

Meet Laurie Proia from Santa Barbara, California.  Laurie states this is her 10th year attending the festival, meaning she has been to every one of them.  When asked, how does she have so much energy, she replies, that she dances everyday at home.  Keep on rockin’, Laurie.

The last band I got to check out on Day 2 was Revolver.  Though the band sounded pretty good, there was a moment that overshadowed the musical performance.  During a song, one of the guitarists got really angry on stage because his guitar cut out of the mix.  His anger at the sound crew seemed to be somewhat justified at first, but after a quick switch of amplifiers and connections, it seemed like the problem was on his end, not theirs.  My guess is a bad input jack on the guitar, since it also looked like they changed cables.  Either way, I think his anger was misdirected and it made the band as a whole look unprofessional.

My final return to the festival came on Saturday, Day 3.  I arrived just in time to get settled in for the big show: 1964 the Tribute.  Rolling Stone magazine pulls no punches when they say this band is “the best Beatles tribute on Earth.”  I found it impossible to disagree.

First let me give credit to the opening act, Mario DaSilva.  Mario is an amazing guitarist who showcases a finger picking style that covers not only the bass lines, but the melodies simultaneously.  He played several Beatles hits, most notably to me were “Come Together” and “Blackbird.”  I learned that Mario teaches guitar at one of my employers, Indiana University Southeast.  He also teaches at Belmont University in Nashville.  A minor distraction came toward the end of his set as someone turned the lights on and off in different combinations.  It’s a good thing I’m not epileptic.  Fortunately, Mario’s playing was strong enough to wade through the distraction with ease.

Perhaps a more difficult distraction to ignore was the “Yellow Submarine Parade.”  The submarine owner, who I photographed the day before, was the leader of this very strange attempt at a parade around the room.  I’m not sure what he was going to say about it all, because his venture to the microphones on stage were fruitless because they were not “hot” when he got there.  Bizarre, but entertaining.

I guess we all DO live in a Yellow Submarine

Now, on to the headliner, 1964 the Tribute.  I tried to spend the first three or four songs  getting some good pictures of the group, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you what they played.  Trying to “stay low” as to not be a nuisance to those who paid good money to have great seats takes work.  I can tell you that being that close and getting to hear everything from the sidebar chatter to feet stomping on the stage is a thrill.  Like people said to me before the show, it’s pretty much like seeing the Beatles live, sans screaming girls passing out in bulk.

1964 the Tribute

They proved not only to be a fantastic homage to the Beatles musically, but also in their spirit and humor on stage.  John introduced more than one song throughout the night with a line similar to, “the next song we’d like to do is a Beatles song.”  George and John went back and forth with banter about talent and the number of strings they had on their guitars.  This was best highlighted when George gave a drawn-out introduction of a tune he called a ‘solo with a song around it,’ which ended up being “Should Have Known Better.”

"George" and "Ringo"

One last example of humor came as John thanked the crowd for coming and said, “it’s not impossible, but much more difficult when you don’t show up.”

Clapping along to tunes like “Eight Days a Week” and hopping out of their seats when asked during “Twist and Shout” proved the crowd’s eagerness to participate as part of the show.  Aside from the super-hits, like “Ticket to Ride,” the band also played lesser known songs like “Act Naturally,” a tune led by Ringo on vocals, and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.”  The band’s note-for-note precision was impressive by itself, but when the video display that played alongside of 1964′s show was perfectly synced to an actual performance of the Beatles, it was uncanny.

Other memorable moments throughout the night include a point in which the band asked the entire audience to call someone on their “pocket phones” during the next song.  John admitted this was not very 1960′s to do.

"John"

The song was “In My Life,” and I’m sure the audience’s phoned loved ones were appreciative.  John’s voice did fail one time, showing his vulnerability at the end of the song.  After a good laugh, and some help from Paul and the crowd, the high-pitched line “In my life, I love you more” was sang in style.  It was good showmanship from the 27-year veterans.

The last few songs of the night were “Day Tripper” and “She Loves You.”  The Beatles can’t go out that easy, of course.

The Beatles Bow to the Crowd

An adoring crowd cheered for an encore, and they got just that.  A medley of 4 songs featuring each member on vocals (beginning with “Rock and Roll Music” sang by John, and ending with “Long Tall Sally,” a Little Richard cover sang by Paul) ended the night in grand style.

"Paul"

Thanks to 1964 the Tribute, and some amazing ribs by Jake’s restaurant, Saturday night rocked my socks off.

May 272011
 

Thursday, May 26 marked the first of five days of Beatlemania on the Belvedere.  Day one had a shaky start due to the rain.  I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Rain, rain, go away… We’ve had enough already.”

Things began to pick up in the afternoon as music flowed both indoors (inside The Galt House) and outdoors on various stages.    I saw a small portion of The Traveling Beatleburys, who played in the nice, dry indoors.  They put on an entertaining show and were a good way to get the party started.   I also caught the set of The Beafore, a German group here in the United States for the third time.  Two of those appearances have been in Louisville.   The band focuses on the early days of the Beatles from the Hamburg era.  They started to shape the crowd up outside once the rain had passed.

The Beafore at Abbey Road on the River 2011

The festival continues all weekend, including Monday (Memorial Day). Tickets are on sale at the gate and I would strongly encourage any Beatles fan, young or old, to go out and have a good time at the show.

More to come…

May 182011
 

All I wanna’ know is… “Who’s coming with me?”

Classic rock icons Foreigner will be in Elizabethtown, KY at Freeman Lake Park on Friday, May 27.  Only 8 days later, they will be rocking out Wembley Arena in London.

So, um… go see them in E-Town.

I spoke to concert promoter, Kenny Lewis, who also just so happens to be on Elizabethtown’s City Council, and he had this to say about the upcoming show.

“Elizabethtown is fired up about Foreigner coming to town.  We have tried for 4 years to get them, but it never worked out. This is an outdoor festival seating concert with 5000 capacity.  The stage has beautiful Freeman Lake in the background, and every performer has commented how nice a facility we have for outdoor concerts.”

As a candidate, Lewis touted concerts at Freeman Lake as part of his mission, if elected.

He adds, “As I mentioned, when I ran for Elizabethtown City Council, I promised to bring concerts to the lake.  This has been an excellent quality of life issue for our citizens.  People cannot say there is nothing to do in Elizabethtown, because we will be rockin’ this town 3 weeks in a row.”

Those shows are as follows:

Saturday, May 21- Mark Chestnut at the Historic State Theatre

Friday, May 27- Foreigner at Freeman Lake

Friday, June 3- KY Headhunters and Black Oak Arkansas with Jim Dandy at Freeman Lake

Lastly, Kenny pats himself on the back in a statement I couldn’t possibly disagree with…

“It would be great if every town had a Kenny Lewis to bring in this type of entertainment.”

I agree.

Mar 192011
 

Aaron Lewis, frontman of Staind, is on the road in support of his new solo CD, Town Line.  Aaron has been one of my favorite artists for some time now as part of the rock group, and I have experienced his ability to take it down to just an acoustic guitar and his voice more than a few times… but I never thought I’d hear this.  It’s country, and it’s good.

Aaron Lewis

It’s not pop-country, and it’s not something you can two-step to (which is why I like it).  It’s stripped down, heart-felt, and genuine.  Aaron’s tone knows no bounds.  Looking back at Staind screamers like “Mudshovel” and “Spleen,” it seems impossible that solo cuts like “The Story Never Ends” and “Massachusetts” came from the same vocalist.  Lewis has a proven track record in the world of crossover appeal (hard rock-to-radio rock), but never before rock-to-country.  His fans don’t seem to mind what he sings, as long as he is singing.  Town Line debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart, and #7 on the Top 200 Albums Chart.  It sold over 37,000 copies in its first week on the shelves.  Pretty impressive for his first solo CD.

The 5-song CD offers impressive vocal harmonies, slide and steel guitars, and a satisfying blend of electric and acoustic tones.  Lewis gets personal in the delivery of his lyrics, detailing items such as his family, values, hobbies, his experience with the music industry, and of course, where and how he grew up.

Town Line

The lead single, “Country Boy,” features guest performances by country legends Charlie Daniels and George Jones.  It also pays lyrical tribute to one of my personal favorites in country music, Hank Williams Jr.  The music video has been a staple on CMT (Country Music Television) since its release, and Lewis was even asked to perform the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live (3/1).

The music is vulnerable, and it gives you the feeling of being in Aaron’s living room listening to him play.  Whether you are a huge fan of Staind, or you have never heard of them, you could easily find yourself attracted to this album.  My personal favorites from the disc are the opening track, “The Story Never Ends,” and “Tangled Up In You,” a re-recording of a Staind track (from the album The Illusion of Progress).  The opener sets the tone for the record and offers Lewis a venue to show his roots.  While the latter track was a Staind song, it has been modified in a way that holds true to the styles of both “Aarons.”

Lewis will be playing a solo acoustic gig at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana on Thursday, April 14.  I highly recommend this show, as seeing Aaron Lewis perform promises to be a night to remember.  Check out his website for more information: http://aaronlewismusic.com/

Feb 162011
 

Jagermeister knows how to throw a party.  This year’s Jager-tour included the likes of Buckcherry, Hell Yeah, All That Remains, and The Damned Things.  The event took place at Expo Five on Wednesday, February 9 (BTW, nothing says “party” like a Wednesday… after all, it is “business time” on Wednesday nights…).

Where are we tonight? Who do we thank for the show? (Oh yeah, the sign says Louisville, KY, and to shout out to Jagermeister... Got it! (Photo by Chris A. Photography)

I arrived at the show super-early to interview Mike Martin, guitarist for All That Remains (see that interview in the previous post).  Following the interview, it was off to my teaching job, in which I am sure I was a downer to 20 or so individuals due to the exam they faced that evening.  Following their exam, back to the show.  Saying this, I was a little too late for The Damned Things, but I was just in time to see All That Remains from their second song forward.

All That Remains really impressed me, especially considering I was not a follower prior to the show.  Their musical ability is evident, and despite the fact that they were the heaviest band of the night, their capacity for writing hooks prevented from a non-stop “Ra Ra Ra” affair.  The band’s sound is obviously metal saturated, but mixed up, making for an interesting set.  Lead singer, Philip LaBonte, delivers a high energy performance.  That’s another way of saying I think he could take me in a fight!  Jeanne Sagan, bassist, delivers an intense backing vocal that makes for a great dynamic between the two.  The band is on the road promoting their new album, For We Are Many.

Up next was Hell Yeah, a band fronted by Chad Gray of Mudvayne fame.  Also of previous stardom, is Pantera’s own Vinnie Paul.  It was great to see these guys perform, and I really enjoyed their set. 

Was it it like Mudvayne?  No. 

Was it like Pantera?  No.

Should it have been?  NO! 

Hell Yeah has found a groove all their own that carries hints of former bands, but does not attempt to resell the same product in a different package.  The groups’ Southern Rock influence was evident, and the night was filled with hard hitting rock.  My favorite moment of the night stemmed from “Alcohaulin’ Ass.”  Gray made a dramtic ending of the song, imitatating an orchestra conductor, first silencing the crowd, delivering the final “…and ass” lyrics, then bringing the applause up via the crescendo motion of his hands.  The band also played the evening appropriate, “Hell of a Time.”

Buckcherry brings the energy to Expo Five on the Jagermeister Tour (Photo by Chris A. Photography)

The night’s headliner was Buckcherry, and rightfully so.  The group’s frontman, Josh Todd, is a maniac onstage.  His energy level matches his lyrics (I love the cocaine, I love the cocaine”).  He reminds me a bit of Mick Jagger… skinny, and full of sex/drugs/rock n’ roll spirit.  The band is solid, giving the crowd just what they wanted- a high energy rock show, fueled by alcohol, motivated by the id!

Keith Nelson and Stevie D. tear it up together (Photo by Chris A. Photography)

The group played their obvious hits, “Lit Up,” “Sorry,” and “Crazy Bitch,” among others.  Memorable moments include the fight that broke out next to me at the onset of “Lit Up” (I guess some people were too lit up themselves), Todd’s excitation of the crowd during “Crazy Bitch,” and his shout out to Jagermeister.  He told the 1000+ person crowd that Jager tastes like NyQuil, and that if you have never tried anal, you will on Jager!  I wonder if Jager will adopt the new slogan for their next ad campaign?

In addition to having a great time at the show, I met an amazing photographer, Chris Armold (“Chris A”), out of Ohio.  he was kind enough to allow me the use of his show photos, and I would encourage everyone to check out his work further at his website, it’s full of incredible band photos, among other types of photography: http://www.chrisa.us/

Josh Todd of Buckcherry (Photo by Chris A. Photography)

Feb 132011
 

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Martin, guitarist of the band All That Remains, as the group made their way through town on the Jagermeister Tour with Buckcherry, Hell Yeah, and the Damned Things.  Here’s what Mike had to say on the topics of the current tour, success (or a lack thereof), UFC, VH1, nerdiness, and their new album, For We Are Many.

Mike Martin and Jason Koerner (Photo by Chris Armold)

LMN: What has it been like being on the Jagermeister tour with Buckcherry and others?

MM: It’s been awesome. We don’t tour with a lot of rock bands; it’s been really cool to play for different people that would normally not come see us, or ever even hear of us. Everybody in every band is really nice, and the shows have been fun… besides the ones that have gotten canceled!

LMN: Do you guys get to associate with the other bands a lot? Do you get to do things outside of the shows, or is it mainly show up-play, show up-play?

MM: Depending on the night… There are certain nights where everyone has to leave early for long drives or whatever, but a lot of the nights in the dressing rooms everyone is just mingling back and forth trying to find some sort of trouble to get into! Everyone is very personable; no one is really hiding out on the tour or too cool to hang out. I’m boring, personally, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

LMN: Has anyone you’ve met on the road ever made you star-struck?

MM: Yeah, we did some radio festivals in 2009, and I got to chat with Duff McKagan.  Guns N’ Roses is my favorite band ever. I met him, and I was just like freaking out. (Mike went on to share experiences involving Alice in Chains, Zakk Wylde, and his extreme hopes of meeting Slash in a few weeks when they tour in Australia together…)

LMN: I saw that you guys are on tour in the states until February 20, then you are off to Australia with bands like Slayer, Avenged Sevenfold, and Devildriver…  later Russia, Sweden, Denmark…  what is it like touring in other countries?

MM: It’s cool, they all have their different kind of thing happening. We are doing two shows in Japan on the way home from Australia… The Euro Fests in the summertime are really cool… You don’t get to play for that many people at once usually in Europe… They don’t see you as much, so you can tell they’re slightly more enthusiastic just because they really are taking it in and appreciating it while you are there. They’re a little bit more wild.

LMN: How has success changed your personal relationships outside of the band… Is it hard to find time for friends and family?

MM: No, we’re not that successful, first of all! Everything’s the same. Everybody in this band lives with their parents, so there’s no success to brag about! Your friends don’t have to look at you differently, that’s for sure… Perception is a weird thing sometimes. People see us doing music videos or playing a festival for 20,000 people and they think we’re driving Bentleys and making platinum records. That’s not the case, we can barely even live! There’s no rock stardom yet, that’s for sure. I wish the days of platinum records weren’t over!


Mike Martin

LMN: What is the best moment in All That Remains’ history?

MM: The one that has stood out the most is when we played Metaltown (a festival in Sweden) two summers ago. This band started because of all of those Gothenburg metal bands like At The Gates and Arch Enemy. There were like 20,000 people… And it wasn’t just like 20,000 people watching, it was 20,000 people that were way into it. We were playing with the Haunted, which are good friends of ours. It was one of those things where we were just like, “WOW.” To play in Sweden with all of those bands that we grew up listening to for that many people… It was the best show this band has ever played. We’re really excited to go back and do it again this summer.

LMN: What is the worst moment?

MM: I don’t know, there are so many situations you get put in that you are just like, “Arggggggg…” The years where you are touring in vans… There are so many bad moments I can’t think of just one! We had to cancel half of a tour once because Phil blew his voice out real bad, and it was an amazing tour. We’ve never had to drop off a tour. The shows were going really well, but two weeks into it, Phil had some real bad throat problems, and we had to cancel. That just wasn’t a good feeling… That one is up there on the crappy list.

LMN: What do you like to do in your free time?

MM: I’m a big sports/fitness guy. When I’m at home, I’m either at the gym, or just in front of the TV watching whatever sports I can get my eyes on. All of baseball, hockey, football, basketball… I’m at sporting events or watching them, or at the gym doing some physical activity. (At this point, I noticed Mike’s Boston Red Sox T-shirt, and he talked about his support of all the New England sports teams.)

LMN: Do you follow UFC?

MM: We were watching it on the bus, actually, before I came in. I don’t follow it religiously, but I really enjoy watching it.

LMN: Who is your favorite fighter?

MM: I don’t have one really, but I really like watching the freak fighters. Love watching Brock Lesnar because he’s so big and I think it’s fun to watch those fighters that look like superheroes. It was actually disappointing last time I watched him fight because he got the shit kicked out of him. It was really weird to see a superhero like that get beat up. I still watch professional wrestling! I like the cartoonish entertainment value, no matter how old I get, I don’t care, I still think it’s fun.

LMN: Do you have any guilty pleasures? (Mike expanded the professional wrestling discussion with his best Napoleon dynamite voice, “What is wrong with you, you’re an idiot!,” he said.)

MM: Musically, there’s a million. I love John Mayer. I’m a big pop fan in general, I like VH1 pop way too much. It makes our fans really mad! If it’s on VH1, I probably like it.

LMN: How much time do you think you spend together as a band a year?

MM: On a year like this, probably a good nine months together… It sucks! We’re used to each other; everyone is used to each other’s quirks. The beginning of the tour is fine, the middle of the tour is fine, but when you do those two or three month tours and you get to that eight or nine week mark… If someone sneezes the wrong way you just wanna’ punch them in the face!

LMN: When you guys are not touring, do you hang out with the band a lot?

MM: Nobody in this band has anything in common whatsoever. I’ve never met a more opposite five people in my life.

LMN: Is there a role each one of you has in the band (someone is the partier, someone the nerd, someone the peacemaker)?

MM: Everyone is a huge nerd. I’m the sports jock, everyone else in the band is Star Wars, Lord of the Rings garbage, super nerd stuff. Jason plays World of Warcraft for nine hours a day. It’s 4 on 1, basically. Four super nerds, and me, the jock guy.

LMN: Do you ever try to hit them with some sports trivia to try to balance the nerd-dom?

MM: No, I don’t even bother. If it’s not Harry Potter, they don’t want to hear about it. (He went on to add that the band is pretty tolerant if he puts a game on TV, but he does not extend the same generosity when they put on their favorite movies…)


Mike Martin performing at Expo Five

LMN: What does All That Remains bring to listeners that other bands do not?

MM: I think we are more versatile heavy music. Some of the stuff that we do, I think other heavy bands would be afraid to try, as far as a lot of styles of metal and rock. Singing, screaming, different kinds of screaming, death metal, high screaming, acoustic guitars, heavy guitars… Just a different mixture of things, we don’t get to stagnant. We’ve put five albums out now. If you just keep putting the same thing out over and over, it’s like, “I’m over it, I get it.” I think each one of our albums has a very different sound, which is something I’ve always thought was really cool about this band. Basically, just keeping people interested. (Mike goes into the influence of their radio play as well, which helps them to reach a wider audience and be invited to play more shows and festivals… Additionally, we discussed how touring with a variety of bands, such as Buckcherry, furthers the cause too.)

LMN: What goals do you have that have not been met as a band yet that you’d like to see happen this year?

MM: Doing Download (a UK festival) is something we’ve been wanting to do for years, and it’s just never happened (the band will be playing it in June 2011). Other than that, I don’t know. We have done everything. We’ll just try not to go crazy doing so many shows. It is going to be mentally exhausting year or so than physically. I think we might to South America this year for the first time. There is no out of the ordinary goal, just get through the tours and hopefully not kill each other!

LMN: What can you tell people about your new album, For We Are Many?

MM: Adam D (Dutkiewicz) was available this time to produce it, which was cool because we didn’t even have to travel to record, which we hate doing. We got to stay calm while we recorded, which was amazing. It’s not a concept album, or anything like that. No rock operas, nothing fancy. We actually had a good amount of time this time to do it, way more time than we usually have.

LMN: What is your favorite song off this new album to play, as a guitarist?

MM: “Some of the People, All of the Time” is my favorite right now. It varies, because you get sick of them really quick because we play them every night, but that one right now is my favorite… Especially on this tour because it is really heavy, and some of the older moms on the Buckcherry shows get really frightened in general when we play that song. It is really fun to see their reactions! We’ve been taking pride in the fact that we are the really heavy band on this tour. You see some people with their ears covered on the front row that are scared to death… That’s my favorite song.

LMN: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans or potential new fans?

MM: No, not besides the whole, “stop stealing music thing.” We’ll be on tour all year, so stop e-mailing us asking us when we are coming to your city when we were just there three days ago! That happens all of the time, and it’s annoying. There is the Internet, which I’m sure everyone has heard of… All of our tour dates are always on the Internet… Just look. We get so much mail from people that are like, “When are you coming to Denver?” We were there four days ago, you should have looked. So just keep an eye out, we will be on tour all year… ‘in a city near you.’

All That Remains