Kory Clarke

Warrior Soul


Volume 11 Tavern

Raleigh, NC

Interview by Slim Jim Keller




warrior soul 11




Joel Hoekstra 13 Album Promo



Rock and Roll never sleeps, and neither does Joel Hoekstra!  In 2014, after spending 8 years touring with Night Ranger, and simultaneously juggling gigs with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Rock of Ages; he landed a gig as guitarist for the iconic Whitesnake. As if that wasn't enough, the hardest working man in rock has added to his long resume with his latest project, Joel Hoekstra's 13, and appears poised to take his place among rock's royalty.

Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Joel, where we discussed his new project, his gig with Whitesnake, and a project he was involved with that he may not entirely be a fan of.  What are you waiting for? Grab a cold one, bang it below, and enjoy our interview with the man himself!






Special thanks to Joel Hoekstra for so graciously giving us his time, and to Nancy Sayle at VQPR for making it all happen!

For more on Joel Hoekstra, including music and Tour Dates, check out his Official Website







An Interview by: Jason Rybak

From Metallica's gig in Antarctica, to the death of Jeff Hanneman, 2013 was quite an eventful year in the world of rock. In a year filled with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly; perhaps the ugliest incident of that year was the arrest of As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis on allegations that the Grammy-nominated singer attempted to hire a hitman to kill his wife.  With the remaining band members dejected and disgusted with their now admittedly guilty former bandmate, the search was on for a new vocalist, and a new beginning.  Enter the mightily talented Oh, Sleeper guitarist/vocalist Shane Blay, and Wovenwar was born.

Shortly before all of the holiday madness, and on the heels of their killer debut effort, I had the chance to catch up with Shane to talk about everything from speeding in cars-to-speaking in tongues.  So grab a cold one, bang it below, and join us for a look inside the mind of one of metal's newest rising stars. (You might even find out what that quote is all about that brought you here in the first place!)




Special thanks to Shane Blay for so graciously giving me his time, and to George Vallee at Street Smart for making it all happen.  For more on Wovenwar visit the band's official website here.

nothing more 1

My first introduction to Nothing More came in the form of an announcement in March of this year that Eleven Seven Music had signed the band to a five album guaranteed contract.  Having known the type of bands that Eleven Seven rosters, my interest was immediately piqued.  My curiosity further grew when I found out the quartet from Texas would be headed to my neck of the woods to perform at Fort Rock, but when I received an advance of their forthcoming album I was completely blown away!  So when approached with the idea of interviewing the band, my answer was as obvious as Axl Rose's weight gain.  Little did I know that I would not only be treated to a mind-blowing live show, but I would get to sit down and chat with two of the nicest guys in rock and have a rare interview that literally lived up to the old quote: "You'll laugh, you'll cry, it'll change your life."  So join me as we talk, laugh, and even cry (sort of) about everything from beating drugs-to-beating the drums-to-beating the meat. (Yes, you read that last one right)

AWAY-TEAM: First I'd like to start off by saying Congratulations on the upcoming release of your major label debut album! It's definitely one of my favorites that I've heard in a while! You guys really killed it...

JONNY HAWKINS: Awesome! Thanks man!

AWAY-TEAM:  Take us back to the beginning.  How did Nothing More come to be?

JONNY HAWKINS: I originally met Daniel (Oliver, bass) and Mark (Vollelunga, guitar) when I was in 7th grade.  We played in different projects, and school bands, and things like that for years; and then Daniel, by a stroke of fate, ended up living with Mark while they were in college.  They were a little bit older than me at the time, but then at some point we convinced Dan to join our band, Mark and I were in Nothing More.  Dan didn't want to at the time because he thought we were way too committed, (laughs) and he was like "I don't know if I wanna do it..."

DANIEL OLIVER: They spent the night at each other's houses for band practices, and they were like full blown; I was like "I don't know if I wanna do that" ya know. (both laugh)  I lived with Mark though, and i just kinda lost my mind, I was 20 years old, I quit everything and moved to Colorado.  I road 1,000 miles in a day on my motorcycle with just a tent and my coffee pot, just to kinda find myself again, and find a place where nobody knew me.  That whole experience, I met these amazing people that just, that's how they lived, they went out and did what they loved despite any adverse reactions from family, or anybody pressuring them to make money or settle down.  This group that just did what they loved, they traveled, and rafted, or they were ski bums.  I came back and, I was studying mechanical engineering, and I just felt like I had to come back.  I lived with Mark and I saw what he was writing, and I was just like "Wow! This is awesome!"   I vividly remember going to a show and Jonny was the drummer at the time before I was even in the band, and it was this epic show, and Jonny does this drum solo; I was like "I can write some grooves with that guy!" (laughs) After that, I was like "I'm in!" We kinda pulled it together and were like "Let's go out and do it!" Noone's gonna tell us to drop out of school and not get normal jobs, but there's nothing stopping us from going out and doing it for ourselves.

JONNY HAWKINS:  And we kind of adopted Daniel's philosophy on life.  we each kind of learn from each other, and one of the biggest things we learned from him was "Fuck Plan B! Throw it out the window!" because if you wanna do something that requires a lot of risk, you just have to go at it 100%  A lot of times when the going gets rough, it's that "Plan B" that becomes your escape route.  So for us we united around that philosophy, and that's why we've got these scars on our arms. (lifts sleeve to reveal scars caused by the band branding themselves for each year they spent on the road)  It represents our commitment to each other, and to the vision, and that we wouldn't stop until we saw it through to it's fruition.  We were on our way, and then about three years ago the final piece of the puzzle, Paul O'Brien (drums), joined the band.  We used to tour with his other band, Pandemic, they were from Louisiana and we were from Texas, so they were kind of our neighbor, brother band.  They ended up calling it quits, and Paul still wanted to go.  He always really respected what we did, and vice-versa we respected what he did in Pandemic, and it was just the obvious choice when we were looking for drummers.  The rest is history!

AWAY-TEAM: I know you used to be the drummer...

JONNY HAWKINS: Yeah, when I started out with Dan and Mark I was the drummer for about maybe 5-8 years.  At some point, the band kind of filtered down through a lot of going out there and touring, and it was just kind of a filtering process.  We had Mark, Dan, and myself, even though we had other band members throughout the process; we were at this point where we were like "What are we gonna do? We don't have a singer...".  I really felt this, I don't know what the word is, but my gut, my subconscious; I had listened to it in the past in other really big life decisions, and in hindsight had seen that it would always lead me in the right direction.  I started getting that really strong feeling about being the singer, even though I had nothing but fear and doubt at that time.  Even my parents, who support me in everything, and people around me were all telling me it's a bad idea because I was not a good singer.  If you would've heard me then, it was atrocious, and you would've thought the same thing, and I even thought the same thing, but I've trusted my heart in the past and I don't think now is any different.  I really had that strong feeling, so I started learning how to sing over the next few years, and the guys supported me in that.  And it really turned out to be the right decision, and I'm happy that I followed that instinct.

AWAY-TEAM: And I know you've got a lot of fans that are happy about that as well! So when I received your album advance, the first song that I heard was "Christ Copyright".  I immediately loved the sound.  My first reaction was that you guys had this Escape The Fate-meets-Coheed & Cambria or My Chemical Romance type of sound, but there's a lot more to your sound.  For those who've never heard it before, how would you describe your sound?

JONNY HAWKINS: Umm, I would draw a symbol on the wall and say "It sounds like that." (everyone laughs) But in all seriousness, it's most definitely in the rock-progressive world.  Sometimes we joke around and say we're diet metal.  Really we have a variety of influences, and I guess our vision for our music now and in the future, we really wanna extend beyond a particular genre and a title.  So when people ask us who we are and what we sound like, I get real reluctant to answer that question too specifically.  I really just wanna have a pair of headphones and go "We sound like this!" 

DANIEL OLIVER: I think one really cool thing about this band is that as a unit we're all writers, we all push each other to write.  Ya know, there's not only one guy writing songs and showing them to the band, it's really this collective idea based on whatever our influences are.  Like I know for me personally there aren't a lot of good bass players in the rock world, I don't think; or it's not like a prominent instrument anymore.  So to be able to play with a group of guys where I'll do something, or write something just on bass, and to have it accepted and change how they were writing.  It's all about building off each others ideas, and I think that's the only way to get somewhere different.  It's like the song started out sounding like a particular thing, and then each person threw in an idea that changed the writing of the other individuals to get it to where it's complete and we're happy.

JONNY HAWKINS: It really is, we sound like democracy.

DANIEL OLIVER: (laughs) Yeah, we sound like democracy! Democracy pushing it, moving it along.

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)  There's the answer I was looking for! (all laugh)... You mentioned having many different influences, who are some of your biggest influences?

JONNY HAWKINS:  Very hard to narrow down...

DANIEL OLIVER:  A huge one is Thrice for sure.  Both musically and lyrically, even philosophically.  That's a band that really goes out and speaks their mind, they dig deep and they create interesting stuff.  It's heavy, but then they'll release something like "The Alchemy Index", which is all of their interests in a full EP release kind of thing.

JONNY HAWKINS:  We've always found a lot of our strongest influences come from bands that, not necessarily musically are progressive, but conceptually are progressive.  What I mean by that is people who really think in layers, and have a deep quality to their lyrics and the music.  Ben Folds is an artist that does that with a lot of his songs.  Tool is a big influence, a band called dredg, The Mars Volta.  Even artists real outside of our genre like Alanis Morrisette, Imogen Heap, Jurassic 5.

DANIEL OLIVER:  There's a band Fair To Midland, out of Texas, that's been a big influence of ours.  We run across bands that really push the envelope sometimes, and to have it impact us, them doing something so crazy, I think that's what really influences us the most.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys recently signed a five year guaranteed deal with Eleven Seven...

DANIEL OLIVER: Five albums.

AWAY-TEAM: Five albums. (laughs) Geez, five years, like your baseball players. We're at the baseball park so I'm thinking baseball deals! (all laugh)

JONNY HAWKINS:  It's more like fifteen years! (all laugh)


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AWAY-TEAM:  A deal like that is nothing to sneeze at.  How did that all come about?  Was it through shopping demos? Was it through someone caught you out on tour? How did that come to be?

DANIEL OLIVER:  Well honestly there was one other time, like a year and a half ago, before Eleven Seven found us, that Red Bull Records was hot on us.  They ended up passing because they're owned by an energy drink. (laughs) But, I don't know, it was a cold call honestly.  No shopping, no great effort to meet labels.  We were playing L.A., en route to Sacramento to play the Aftershock Festival last September; we heard about them (Eleven Seven) about a week before, they said they were gonna send a deal proposal, they sent a couple scouts out to the show and that was kind of it with Eleven Seven. Then that festival out in Sacramento happened, we were the second band of the whole festival, first day, second band, Side Stage; we kinda went in there like "Oh man, you never know with festivals. We might be laying for nobody."  Our manager was with us and he's like "Guys, there is industry here.  Just go out there like you always do and slay it!"  Turns out, one it was an epic show, the audience was great, and we got asked to play the second day on the Main Stage at 3 p.m. in front of 15,00 people.  After that everything kinda blew wide open, but at the end of the day after different labels came to us and we talked with them, Eleven Seven was just so passionate about it.  Ya know, there a smaller label, they have a lot of huge bands, and they just dug it, and they got it, and they wanted to push it, and that's all that mattered.  It doesn't matter the name of the label, or how much money they have, it's all about the people who are in charge caring and doing something for you.

AWAY-TEAM: I have heard that about Eleven Seven in the past.  Ed (Sloan) from Crossfade had a lot of great things to say about them. Tremendous label to be with... and there goes Jonathan Davis (as the Korn singer walks by our table)

DANIEL OLIVER: (in a cartoonish voice) Hey Dude! (all laugh)

JONNY HAWKINS: On a deeper level though, it was really just a "Build it and they will come."  It was not really trying to fight to get on a label.  We had kinda given up hope that we'd even be on a label.  We thought we were gonna be DIY the rest of our lives.  we jsut focused on building ourselves and our show, and it really just came to us.  I think that was a huge lesson, not only about that, but about everything in life, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM:  Now when you signed with them, I'm sure things changed a little bit, you're still you, but what was the first thing you bought when you signed with them? I know Will (Tour Manager) mentioned you guys were driving a taco truck, so I know it wasn't a new bus! (all laugh)

JONNY HAWKINS: A ton of cocaine, a Corvette, umm. I'm just kidding...

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

DANIEL OLIVER:  No, we really just stuck to what we've always done, and that was just reinvesting in what we did.  We spent the money on equipment, and pushing to be a national band, and to do these festivals. We kind of have a complicated stage set up, so to really do it how we wanted we had to reinvest in a bunch of equipment.  we also took that opportunity to set it all up to where we can begin forwarding the next live show, which we've always been kinda known for.  So we're just reinvesting to reinvent for ourselves.

AWAY-TEAM:  That's probably the smartest answer I've ever heard to that question! (all laugh in agreement)  I wanna get to some of the songs that are on the album, I'd love to talk about the entire album but we don't have enough time! (joking in reference to the 15 song album which will be reviewed right here in the coming weeks) But, the aforementioned "Christ Copyright", what was the inspiration behind that?  It seems like Texas has kind of a strong Christian belief system, is that how you guys grew up? And is that kind of where this song came from? What was the inspiration? 

JONNY HAWKINS:  Totally.  We most definitely grew up in the "Bible Belt", and there's usually one of two paths people typically take when they grow up in a very religious area.  They either stay very religious, and they're just as hardcore as their parents were, or they're equally as rebellious and opposite of that.  I think "Christ Copyright" was our intent to sort of find the middle ground between the two polar extremes, and try to find the root of these differences.  America is very, very polarized, whether politically or religiously, and with "Christ Copyright" we were trying to put a spotlight on the real problem at hand, that everybody is trying to preach about, or sell to you, or fix.  It's not what's appearing on the surface, it's not what religion you are, or what political party you happen to subscribe to, it's whether you're dogmatic or not.  And dogma, which sounds like a complicated philosophical word, is really about whether someone is humble or not, and open to the idea that they don't know everything, and neither do you, and neither do I.  So I think if we approach each other from this point of view that "Yes. I've lived my life, and I've learned a lot of lessons, and I do have beliefs and opinions; but I realize that at any moment I could learn something that changes all of that. Because there's new information that I'd never considered before." To be open in that way is the way of growth, and really the way of being a real man or a real woman, not a pawn.  I think you become a pawn the second you buy into the idea that red team's the winner, or blue team's the winner, or I'm this religion, or that political party.  Because it's not really about that.  That's all smoke and mirrors.  It's really the heart of all of that.  So "Christ Copyright" was trying to convey that, but also say that there's so many talking heads and pastors who are trying to sell you on this idea of heaven.  You can buy into it, and it may or may not be true, but at the end of the day what I do notice is that when you do buy into it usually somebody makes money!

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) So true!

DANIEL OLIVER:  And I think even more pointedly, like for instance when I lived in Nashville for a year, and we all kind of grew up in the church, I got involved with this crazy charismatic group.  They literally just used fear in the name of God, to try to change people to be what they felt was right.  Just straight up fear.  When you really look at that it's like, if someone is coming into the presence of quote-unquote God and their first emotional feeling for him is that of fear, out of some unreasonable death sentence to hell that we were all born out of, that's the same thing as a woman's first experience with sex is her being molested.  It's just not right! It's not right, and there are a lot of people that just fucking don't see that!  They don't see that they're using fear, and they're manipulating people because of that out of their own penance to God, because of their own guilt.  In the bridge it's like "If they scream loud, they'll muscle the crowd.", and that's all it is.  It's just that you're screaming louder than I am, you're no smarter, you're no better.  You happen to have a proclivity to not masturbate at night, so therefore you feel you're a better Christian than I am? (all laugh as Tour Manager turns his head from a nearby table) You know, it's like "Fuck You!" Anyway, if that makes any sense.


JONNY HAWKINS:  Amen! (laughing)

AWAY-TEAM: I went to Catholic school up until my Senior year of High School, so I know what you're talking about man!

JONNY HAWKINS: Oh Really? So you know. (laughing) That's crazy.

DANIEL OLIVER: Will's like "Did I just hear masturbate in an interview?" (all laugh)

JONNY HAWKINS: And it ended with "Fuck You!" and "Amen!" (laughing)

AWAY-TEAM:  (Management has given word that we only have another 2-3 minutes. Time flies when you're having fun)  So there's a couple songs I wanna touch on, and I know they're probably a little bit painful for you (Jonny), but "God Went North" and "Jenny".  I know they're kind of straight forward and you get the message, but if it's cool with you I'd like to know the back story behind them.

JONNY HAWKINS:  Yeah, totally.  My mom, whom I had a very great relationship with other than the normal annoyances of having a mom, was a painter.  I learned my creative side, and everything that I do in music from her.  She really instilled that in me.  As I was in High School, I got the news that she had an extremely aggressive cancer that was a 99% death rate.

AWAY-TEAM: Wow! Man.

JONNY HAWKINS: There was no chemo, radiation, none of that did anything for people who had this type of cancer.  So with that news, basically my family went a few different directions, as do most people when they're given that kind of news.  First we tried to fight it every way we could, through health food and healthy living, and it didn't really change what was happening.  Then the next thing, my mom had desperation to be here longer with her children who weren't grown up yet all the way, she got more religious.  As we went through that time, I was becoming an adult and I was in college, my sisters were younger so they really had it harder going through that process.  One of my sisters is named Jenna, which is what the song "Jenny" was about.  As my mom got more religious, in hopes of getting healed, she joined one of those faith-based healing churches as kind of a "Hail Mary", if you will.  The only way, those churches teach, that it works is that you really truly believe in it.  So she bought in, and the weird thing about it was that she did have a spontaneous remission after one of the weird experiences in those healing services.  It really did go away 100%, or I guess not 100%, but according to the doctors they could not find it anymore.


JONNY HAWKINS:  So her life was extended another year or so more than it should have been.  So that really caused her to further believe this faith-based healing stuff, and as time went on she started getting more and more hardcore, and I was getting less and less religious because I saw a different point of view than she did.  I didn't think that it was because of the beliefs that she had, as much as it was about this emotional state that she was in during that process that people of other religions have also had spontaneous remissions in.  I had a different theory as to why it was happening, and so it was a struggle for us to be going different directions but to still hold on to her as my mother through that sickness.  And at the end, I loved her and I didn't want her to die, but she was suffering so much when the cancer came back a year later.  She was down to skin and bones, and had tumors just protruding out of her stomach, her legs were bloated like someone who had been submerged in water for days.  It was just heartbreaking to watch her live like that for us.  So I really wanted her to die, because I didn't want her to be feeling like that anyomore.  That's where the whole "If you won't save her, please just take her" lyrics came from.  And at the same time, the song "Jenny" was written about my sister who at that time was going through her own denial and grieving process.  She got, unfortunately, involved with a lot of the wrong people, and she ran from the problem and got addicted to some hard drugs.  She also had some mental, very clinical level bi-polar mixed in with that.  When you mix a mental illness with hard drugs, that's usually a cocktail for destruction.  She went down this spiral, and it got so horrible, it was breaking my mom's heart because she was holding on for dear life trying to hang in there to get my sister through it, as a mother.  There's a lot more to the story that I don't have time to go into, but basically it just, those are the two most heartbreaking things I have ever been through in my life.  The one thing my mom... (visibly getting choked up) Sorry.  The one thing my mom taught me, bringing it back to why I started this story, she was a painter, and growing up as she'd teach me to paint and draw, she always taught me that there was no such thing as a mistake.  To be a good painter, you never viewed any stroke of the brush as a mistake, you viewed it as an opportunity for a new purpose, and you went with it.  She was an amazing painter because of that simple view.  With her death, and my sister spiraling out of control, I learned from my mom to look at that as an opportunity, so we wrote those songs together.  I felt like those things were just meaningless, purposeless, God-awful suffering; but I decided at the end of it that it could either be that, or I could make meaning out of it and give it purpose.  With the guys' help, together we wrote those songs and we gave it purpose.  Now it's touching other people who have gone through similar circumstances, and I feel healing through those songs.

AWAY-TEAM:  It takes a lot to put that out there for the world, and I appreciate you telling me the story behind it.  I hope everything works out well with you and your family.  Thanks so much for your time! Best of luck with the album! I look forward to doing this again sometime soon.  I feel like we could talk all day about your album, and I appreciate you giving me your time.


Nothing More is currently out doing a few dates with Killswitch Engage, and will be heading out this fall with Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, and Hellyeah.  For more info including tour dates and to pre-order their killer debut album, which comes out June 23rd, click here.









Heavy metal musicians and craft beer brewers take risks with song writing and recipes every day. The similarities in creativity, attitude and the willingness to take things as far as they can go (or "to extremes") are just a few ways the two worlds are alike in my opinion.

In his Decibel magazine magazine column, Adem points out the metal/ craft beer crossover with a combination of interviews and beer profiles. He takes that concept to ELEVEN in his new book The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing’s Outer Limits. Adem took some time out to answer five questions for us!

When did you notice the connections between metal and craft beer and the fact that it goes beyond references to the Devil?

Well, five years ago when I started writing my Brewtal Truth column in Decibel, I honestly didn’t really think there was a connection. That said, the first piece I did was an intentionally irreverent pairing of specific metal subgenres with different styles of beers. It was just supposed to be funny. In subsequent columns I began to write about brewers who were into metal (like Barnaby Struve of Three Floyds) and metal musicians who were into craft beers (like Dave Witte of Municipal Waste), however, it took a while for me to really see the crossover. In some part, I’d like to think I helped foster that crossover by writing a craft beer column in a metal magazine. It exposed Decibel’s metal-loving readers, who were purely there for the music, to craft beer.

thrash metal

Because you reach a specific audience with your column, do you receive any feedback from Decibel readers who are now choosing good beer over mass market crap?

Definitely! I hear from readers via social media about beers or breweries I’ve turned them onto. In fact, another Decibel columnist (and metal musician), Richard Christy of Charred Walls of the Damned, has mentioned several beers or breweries he’s learned about through my column. Metal heads are super passionate about the things they love. There’s no halfway with them! I also think they like to try things that aren’t mainstream, because clearly the music they like is far from mainstream. That said, when it comes to people’s tastes in food and beverages, they like what they like and there sometimes can be no convincing them otherwise. Craft beer isn’t for everyone, and a lot of people still think it is snooty and expensive, but I think if you’re open-minded enough to listen to, say, Napalm Death or Carcass, you could probably handle a well-made IPA.

What are your consistently favorite craft breweries out there? National or local to you?

Man, that’s a tough question. In writing my book, The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, I had the opportunity to try some beers that I normally can’t get my hands on and some of them—like beers from Surly, Three Floyds, Mikkeller, The Alchemist and many others—were pretty spectacular. That said, my consistently favorite craft breweries are ones that I have regular access to (mostly West Coast), like Stone, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Deschutes, Rogue, Unibroue and North Coast. My favorite local brewery here in Victoria, BC, is Driftwood. I love everything they make.

Dave - Iron Maiden

Will there be a second volume of EXTREME BEERS or any other book projects in the future?

That’s actually a really timely question. I’m looking into that at the moment. I’d like to do a series of Brewtal Truth books that have the same tone and vibe as this first one, but different content—whether it be more extreme beers, or some other new ideas. If my first book sells well, I’ll hopefully get that opportunity.

What is in your beer fridge right now?

I have a bunch of Victory beers—Prima Pils, Hop Devil IPA, Winter Cheers, Festbier, and Headwaters Pale Ale—that were sent to me by Magrudergrind guitarist RJ Ober, who works as a sales rep for Victory. I also have some Phillips Blue Buck from a local brewery and a couple bottle of Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer that a friend gave me.

Filter Sun Comes Out Promo Photo 

For every art form there are "rules", for every "rule" there are exceptions.  Richard Patrick has been making such exceptions, and defying convention for 20 plus years now.  Given the tremendous success he has achieved with his band, Filter, it came as no surprise that my interview with he and his guitarist Jonny Radtke was nothing less than extraordinary.

One of the first things every good journalist is taught is to always control the interview.  There are, however, rare occasions where brilliance comes to life by simply listening, and enjoying the rants of a charismatic individual.  I invite you to sit back and relax, and enjoy one of the most unconventional, yet enjoyable conversations with rock n roll royalty as we talk about everything from addiction, to a-dickhead, who nearly killed Patrick's wife.

AWAY-TEAM: First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate you on the release of the new album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, which hits stores June 4th.  It's a great record, I've been listening to it non-stop for about a week and a half now, if that tells you anything...



AWAY-TEAM:  I'm really impressed with it!  Now, I understand this album was originally intended to be released independently, under the title "Gurney & The Burning Books"?...

RICHARD PATRICK:  That was always a working title...

JONNY RADTKE:  I mean we didn't know, we were...

RICHARD PATRICK:  I told the guy like three times.  I was like, 'This is a working title.'  And he went 'Oh Burning Books, and da-da'  I was like 'It's not really gonna be called Burning Books'

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

JONNY RADTKE:  We were in between tours, when we were initially writing stuff, and we had a few demos under our belt, and at that time it was still premature.  We didn't know where we were gonna be, like as far as what label we were gonna go with, or whatever.  So it was sort of just us kinda having the freedom to do whatever we wanted, and that interview, the guy just sort of kinda ran with it.  It was just a working title.  Obviously when we went into the studio for real, and we were signed by Wind-Up Records, we had obviously a direction we were headed in.  Something that we kept in mind throughout the recording process.

AWAY-TEAM:  So, I mean is that true?  Were you intending to release it independently, and then something came up with Wind-Up?  How did that come about?

JONNY RADTKE: I mean, we didn't know...

RICHARD PATRICK:  I think Wind-Up was looking  for a signing.  Gregg Wattenberg (Wind-Up Co-Owner) has always been a huge fan of my voice... I think they were already pretty... no, we got signed before we wrote "What Do You Say".  We started emailing Gregg Wattenberg, and he had met us once, and said 'I wanna sign you guys, but I want you to write the fucking rock hit, that like we've all been waiting for!'  And it was like 'Okay', and we just kinda listened to "Hey Man, Nice Shot" and Short Bus in general.  Then Jonny and I sat there with Bob Marlette and pumped out five different parts that we loved, and as they were putting it together in the computer doing drums and stuff, I just started hearing  'Hey, What do you say'.  We sent that to the label, and they were like 'Great!  Go in, finish the record.  We'd love more hits, but you've got your first single, we'll get this off the ground and, if we have to we'll just release the single, and you guys can finish the record at your leisure.'  And then they were like 'No. Finish it, and put on as many radio singles as you can.'  So for us, it was like 'Okay, let's make it catchy.'  You know, like "Self-Inflicted" is the other one where we intended to sit down and make something that was...

JONNY RADTKE:  The huge impact.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, and the "Hey Man, Nice Shot" big chorus, smaller verse, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM:  That kind of answered one of the questions I was gonna get into.  Ya know, a lot of guys will go into the studio with something in mind like, ya know, this is gonna be the heaviest record I've ever made or...


AWAY-TEAM:  And I noticed that, it shows that you went back and listened to Short Bus, and some of the older stuff.

Filter Richard Patrick 16

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah. Also, Gregg Wattenberg said 'We need super fucking angry, heavy Filter!  We need that. That's what the label needs, that's what your audience wants.  That's what Filter needs!'  So I was finally... cuz Bob Marlette is a great producer, and I'm not gonna say anything bad about him.  It was kinda like, I want fucking heavy man, I want heavy shit!  I was kinda saying that even on The Trouble With Angels, and we always had this bright shiny, glisteney chorus, and I just remember thinking to myself  'I wanna fucking scream my ass off!'  The only song we came close to on that, was "The Inevitable Relapse".  So this was like, 'Fuck it! Great! Let's scream a bunch of different choruses on the record, let's have that screamed out, aggressive sound that everyone wants!'  That left us with a lot of room for "Surprise", and "First You Break It", "It's My Time", and "It's Just You".  Then there were others like "We Hate It When You Get What You Wanted" that's straight up industrial.

AWAY-TEAM:  Right.  Jonny, I know you've been a friend of Rich's for a while now, but what was it like actually stepping into the studio for the first time with, not only Richard, but a legend in his own right in Bob Marlette?

JONNY RADTKE:  It was amazing! It was an amazing experience, we started working on stuff before we went into the studio, and it just felt effortless.  We both have the same influences, and we both know where we wanna go as far as songwriting, and what we like and think is cool, and we compliment each other very well.  But at the same time it's surreal sitting next to the dude looking at me, and kinda like 'Fuck yeah, we're working on something together'  It's awesome, it's amazing!  And then, I've always known of Bob, and it was my first time working with him, and it was the same thing.  The guy just shared our vision, ya know?  He understood the kind of album that we needed to make.  We bounced a lot of ideas off each other, we were around each other every day, and all the creative juices were flowing.  Sometimes you get three people in a room together that... Rich and Bob are accomplished songwriters, and myself; there could be a lot of ego, there could be alot of disagreement, but that wasn't the case.  We were, Rich and I were always on the same page.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Bob and I are old enough that we can't tolerate; we've had other people that we've worked with and stuff, and it was just like 'Man this isn't working.'  Jonny is the kind of guy where he grew up listening to either bands that I've respected, or bands that I'm from, or bands that I was currently in and he always kind of respected that.  Plus he's got all the other stuff that I like, that he likes; you know A Perfect Circle, Tool, Pantera, Deftones, Ministry, and he comes from Chicago so there's the entire scene that was going on there.  So, ya know, it either works or it doesn't, and in this case it was like 'Hey dude, let's make this, let's do that' and I was like 'Yeah that's great!' and the songs wrote themselves.  When it feels like it's effortless, that's when you gotta kinda just back up and just...  He's the only person I made a deal with BEFORE we went into the studio.  We had already messed around with some songs, and I was like 'When this record comes out, this is exactly what you're getting.  This is it.'  The ownership of the song is perfectly split.  It's not 'I'm 60, you're 40'.  It's not, ya know...

AWAY-TEAM:  Right, right.  It's your song, it's not YOUR song.


RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah.  And having said that, here I am singing the vocals, and it's like 'Hey, what do you think of this melody?' (changes voice) 'Hey maybe try that'  So all of a sudden, it's just a common good of the best idea wins, and there's no ego, and it's all been set in stone.  There was nothing to gain from being the guy that wrote the melody and the lyrics, because I'm not going for 50 percent, I'm just going for the common good of the song.  So, a lot of stuff like that.  Everything is easy, instead of just me. (There's a knock at the door, and in comes catering with a platter)

AWAY-TEAM:  Rich, you've been sober for ten years now, which I wanna congratulate you on...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Oh, thank you man!

AWAY-TEAM:  ... I know you've had songs in the past that have dealt with addiction issues, "This Finger's For You"  seems like it may be another one, is that true?  What was the inspiration behind that song?

RICHARD PATRICK:  Umm, that was one of those random kind of songs where it was like I'm upset.  I don't know exactly what started it, but 'I can't drink gin. I can't do some of that.'  I can't fall back into the old person that I used to be.  The drug years, the alcoholic, drug years I call the "Gonzo Years" where I was literally in a Hunter S. Thompson phase of my life.  I was trying to press the boundary of mind-altering substances to the point where, ya know, I'm in the middle of "Welcome to the Fold" and the bridge was 17 minutes long as it was.  I'm sitting there going 'Mama gimme my medicine', and I'm peaking on mushrooms, and I'm trying to describe being a little kid being held up by this giant tree that is my mom, and just freestyling into this weird shit.  Trying to capture what it's like being on just a ton of drugs, in the same way that Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would for any of his books, or any of his reporting.  But eventually, you end up not really learning anything, you've learned everything and now you're just a drug addict.  So as soon as I started feeling like that I pulled out.  And I use the drug years as fodder for so many amazing songs.  "The Sun Comes Out Tonight" is about being a "falling through the cracks" type of kid.  Good person, but had nothing to do, couldn't afford anything, I could afford some cheap drugs, and I could walk around the City of Cleveland, Ohio on acid and break into abandoned buildings, and have a look on the city that no one else would have because everybody else is in a club, or in a home, or a movie, or bar or whatever.  So, ya know, I'm really proud that I went through that phase because; and then once you get really addicted to drugs and alcohol, then all of a sudden that's a personal battle, and you gotta fight out of that somehow.  It takes a couple years, and then you're finally grateful that 'Wow, I can't believe how much I learned!'


RICHARD PATRICK: A lot of stuff right there. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Amazing stuff! (all laugh)  You mentioned "Watch The Sun Come Out Tonight", you've always been one to sort of defy convention, and I know you did this on The Trouble With Angels, you actually use a bit of vocal effects on that...


AWAY-TEAM:  ...which I'm normally not a big fan of, but your voice lends itself so well to it; not to mention that we all know you can sing your ass off without it...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, that's a vocoder.  Rick James did a lot of that stuff.

JONNY RADTKE:  It's basically your voice coming through a keyboard.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, like a synthesized voice.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, it's totally an effect, and see that's the thing.  The first entire record was all programmed drums, on purpose, ya know fingers out (extends both middle fingers).  We don't need a neve console, we need this fucking computer and we're gonna make it work.  And then we're gonna run it through a neve console, and mix it, and that was the idea.  We were just literally leaving Nine Inch Nails, and before when Trent and I were working together in Nine Inch Nails we were listening to bands like Ministry and Skinny Puppy.  I was never gonna be in a rock band again with like, the regular format.  Because once you experience all the different crazy sounds you can make on a computer, you gotta take that.  Now "The Inevitable Relapse", I took a lot of shit for that, apparently I'm allowed to use drum machines, but I'm not allowed to use an obvious effect.  Because the song is about going to the club to score, and then the "relapse" is "Drink it, Drink it, Snort it, Smoke it."  I took a lot of shit for that, and undeservedly so.

AWAY-TEAM:  I'd have to agree with that.  Now there are certain people who make their entire career out of that...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, I mean I understand getting sick of Chris Brown and stuff like that, but dude.  The interesting about that is, here's this effect and it's in your industrial rock band for half a second to make you feel like you were in the club, and then it's all back to normal vocals.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, it's not very long at all.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, and it was the first song that was released to the fans, and they shit the bed, and completely freaked out like 'Oh my God are you gonna do this?' And I was just like 'Oh God, here we go.'

AWAY-TEAM:  (Laughs)

JONNY RADTKE:  But now with this song, I think it's...

RICHARD PATRICK:  That song is, honestly we stole that idea from The Deftones so we're not even the first band to do that.

AWAY-TEAM:  Over the course of your career, you've done a few cover songs, what's the coolest cover you've ever heard of one of your songs?

RICHARD PATRICK:  Well you know what, Brooke White sang "Take A Picture", and we have the copy because we're trying to do some stuff with it in film.  It's actually Brooke White, the song, and Mitch Marlow has done some stuff with it.  It's an amazing cover, maybe we'll get that released somehow.  Then there's all kinds of people doing "Hey Man, Nice Shot", it's kinda wild.  Then I met Shaun Morgan from Seether, and I was like (in a low, mean sounding voice) "Yeah I heard your cover."  (all laugh)  But I was just messing with him, he's a great guy, he said some good things to me.  It's a flattering, amazing thing that people would cover your music.  You know who else did it, Lifehouse did "Take A Picture"; so there's a whole bunch of people out there covering our stuff.

AWAY-TEAM:  One of your covers, "Happy Together", is now being featured in the movie The Great Gatsby.  

Filter Richard Patrick 17

Speaking of movies, obviously you're the rock star of the family, and your brother is a successful actor, and it's often been said that every singer wants to be an actor, and every actor a singer.  Have you guys ever talked about anything like that, has Robert ever been like 'Hey man, let me...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Performance is amazing!  He did, he was trying to get me to be an actor back when I was in my drug phase so I wasn't into it.  Performing is awesome, and when you have an opportunity to look into a camera or act in something, Jonny and I actually acted in our video.  We had a cameo role in our video for "What Do You Say", which is a great little short movie.

JONNY RADTKE:  Yeah, it'll be out soon.  We both had this little acting cameo.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, it was like 'Look upset.' or 'Look like you're thinking about it.'  (all laugh)

JONNY RADTKE:  Cook that steak! (laughs)

RICHARD PATRICK:  Cook that fucking steak! (laughs)

JONNY RADTKE:  I think this dude would be an amazing actor!  We fuck around all the time on the tour bus, we're like brothers.  If we're not focused on work related stuff, we're joking about stuff.  He's got his routines and shit, I think he would be perfect.  You could see him in like a Vince Vaughn, you know that squad of dudes, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, all those guys, Jonah Hill...

AWAY-TEAM:  Well I got to see his Forrest Gump first-hand! (all laugh) [Editors Note:  Prior to the commencement of recording, we engaged in an ice-breaking conversation that culminated in Richard comparing his life to that of Forrest Gump, and doing a hilarious impersonation of him]

JONNY RADTKE:  I'd actually like to see him in a film.  I think he could do it.  I think he could also do dramatic work as well.  Me, on the other hand, I don't know.  I'm not an actor, and never really thought of myself as one! (laughs)

RICHARD PATRICK:  I think you could easily do it. I think performing is all linked up man!  Writing, performing, creativity; it's all hooked up in some way.  Even though my brother Robert does not have a musical bone in his body!  Check out Filter-So I Quit  w/Robert Patrick; it's amazingly funny!

AWAY-TEAM:  I definitely will! (laughs)  You're also close to an Academy Award Winner in your former bandmate, and friend, Trent Reznor...


AWAY-TEAM:  He's just announced that he's got this creative fire burning inside, and he's bringing back  Nine Inch Nails to release a new album.

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, which I knew about for a couple months. (laughs) I didn't wanna say anything...

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Let me ask you this, I know when you were a member of the band you didn't really get to record too much with him; is that something you guys have ever talked about?  Maybe doing some sort of collaborating in the future?  You know, not necessarily for either band, but in general?

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, I mean I think it'd be interesting if I sang on something.  He had a thing that he was trying to do called Tapeworm, he asked me if I wanted to do something with that, I don;t know if that ever saw the light of day, but... He's asked me, and now that I'm older, I certainly would wanna do it.  When I was younger I was too nervous, too crazy, you know it was back when I was drinking, crazy addict reporting from gonzo land! (all laugh)  But the short answer is absolutely, I'd love to do something.  I'd love to sing on something, I'm sure he's got a bunch of music, ya know.    (Trent, I hope you're listening!!!)

AWAY-TEAM:  Speaking of former bandmates, Frank Cavanaugh had some pretty harsh comments for you after an incident in which your wife was nearly run off the road because she had a bumper sticker that said "Ban Assault Weapons"...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah. (seemingly puzzled by the comments)

AWAY-TEAM:  Really strange.  The first thing I thought of, ya know Frank's a military guy, and most military guys I know are staunch conservatives...

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah it's kinda wild...

AWAY-TEAM:  ...you're a liberal. That must have made for some tough times touring, and working together...

RICHARD PATRICK:  I was out of my mind when I was younger.  I didn't really have any political stance.

AWAY-TEAM:  Have you spoken to Frank since everything?

RICHARD PATRICK:  Ya know Frank...

JONNY RADTKE:  I talk to Frank all the time, and right before that happened it was like...

RICHARD PATRICK:  You talk to him on the phone?

JONNY RADTKE:  We text, we email, he's been a friend of mine for quite a long time. Every time I come through Texas, he'd come to shows.  But yeah, when I saw that comment that Frank left I was like 'Whoa!'

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, because I had said something like 'The Tea Party'...

JONNY RADTKE:  We were talking about our opinion on gun control, which is to ban assault weapons, and he kinda jumped on Rich about that!

RICHARD PATRICK:  He jumped on it, he was like 'I can't believe you would say we're all treasounous', and I'm like "You're obstructing the constitution.  You're obstructing getting the government working.  You're attacking the government.  That's treason to me."  The United States operates with a manual, and it's called The Constitution.  It's an instruction pamphlet from the people that made the country, and you need to follow it!  Filibustering 250 times in the Senate, to block every single thing that the president wants to try and work on, isn't what we voted for!  We voted for common sense!  The Bush Administration had eight years, they were filibustered six times.  The Obama Administration is not even through it's fifth year, and it's had 250 filibusters in the Senate.  What the fuck is going on?  Because I want a vote on gun control, eighty percent of the people in the United States want a background check.  Every single thing that they're talking about, in Sandy Hook he fumbled on the second clip, so he was putting the 30-60 rounds, and he dropped the first one and fumbled, eleven children ran out the door.  Got the clip in, killed twenty, so practicality, common sense; the laws of this country are what separate us from anarchy, right?  Society is based on laws, it's based on rules.  We wanna ban anything beyond eleven bullets, or ten bullets, apparently that's an attack on the 2nd Amendment right.  Okay, so you can't have a grenade, you can't have bazookas, but you can have a machine gun that fires as many times as you want.  So it's essentially an automatic weapon, somehow that's an attack on the 2nd Amendment.  Well, maybe we should look at the 2nd Amendment.  This is just three gentlemen sitting here talking about this, my wife, we have a "Ban Assault Weapons" sticker on our car because why not?  They're not practical! You don't need them, and if we're in an arms race with our government, well they have the Atomic Bomb, they have tanks, they have more Abrams tanks than you could imagine!  So if there's a domestic dispute, they've got like 10,000 tanks; roll that into any fucking major city, and you're done!  I don't understand what they're going for.  when I think about Ted Nugent, it blows my mind.  I almost hear a panicked gun nut, not too far away from where David Koresh was!   It's like 'Dude, chill the fuck out!!!', ya know?  I've never owned a gun in my life.  I've shot some guns, what's the big fucking deal!!!  You shoot a gun, 'Wow I've hit the target!', whoopty-fucking-do!!!  Action movies are great, I love action movies, I don't wanna go out and fucking kill anybody!  It's availability, it's availability to the VT guy, it's availability to the Columbine guys.  It's gun show loopholes, you know I went to a gun show once and they were like 'So have you ever been arrested for a felony?' and I'm like 'Oh yeah, absolutely.  Felonious assault with a can of beer.'  They're like (in his best redneck voice) 'Dammit son, you're not supposed to say that!  You're supposed to lie!'  And I'm like 'Really?  I don't want a gun.'  (cue redneck voice again) 'Oh I thought you wanted to buy this thing.' 'No I don't.  I actually was just looking at it.' (redneck voice) 'Alright, well I didn't hear anything anyways'.  They don't give a fuck, they just wanna sell guns, they don't give a fuck who they're selling them to!  I don't know, I'm so far left I'm in the middle.  I'm so far left of the Tea Party, I'm moderately in the middle!  I talk to Republicans all the time, and I'm like 'So what about banning assault weapons?'  and they're like 'Okay, it's practical.'   I'm like 'You're a Republican.  What the fuck happened to your party?!!!'  It's Tea-publicans!  That's who's running the government!  They're using the stunt that, every time school's in session, they're pulling the fucking fire alarm!  So every time everybody wants to get together for school, they pull the filibuster fire alarm!  When are Americans gonna figure that out?  These are the same people that (return of the redneck voice hilarity) 'Know there's something going on out there in that Area 51, and it's aliens, I'ma tell ya!'  It's the same shit, they're the same fucking folks!  (Redneck voice over the laughter of Jonny and myself) 'I know that JFK was assassinated by the CIA back it the day!  That's the real story!  What Lee Harvey Oswald, he was the guy in the grassy knolllll!!!!!!'  That's who's doing this shit!  I don't like it!

AWAY-TEAM:  I'm a gun owner, but it's for the protection of my family...

RICHARD PATRICK:  You know what? I've probably been a gun owner at some point in my life.

AWAY-TEAM:  It's crazy nowadays, with the home invasions and shit!  I've got a daughter almost the same age as yours, and I need to protect my family!  But I'm a RESPONSIBLE gun owner, I keep it in a safe etc., etc...

RICHARD PATRICK:  I honestly, the minute I get a chance, I'm gonna go buy a shotgun.  I'm gonna buy a shotgun, I want a 12 gauge pump shotgun.  I don't want the big, huge, ridiculous long one.  I just want the pump one that's kinda shorter.  Literally just to kinda scatter some bird shot, and that's it.  I understand the necessity to own a weapon, and lock it up in a safe, and put a lock on the trigger, and your kids can never find it.  It's only memorized in your head somewhere, or locked away on a hard drive somewhere.  I stand behind my open-ended request to debate Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent.  The debate's gonna be simple, cuz I'm just gonna ask some questions and let them rant on about like (Limbaugh voice) 'Buh, duh, duh.  It's just a scare tactic by Democrats.  Global warming is totally made up by the Obama Administration.  Who we all know resides in Kenya.'  You know, it's just like their crazy wacko fucking shit!  (laughs) I wanna ask Rush Limbaugh to his face, "Dude, I make music.  I'm trying to bring people together, and I'm trying to make the world a better place.  What are you doing?  Cuz I know you're rich, you've already made your money.'  But stirring up the fringe?  How can that be, I know Bill O'Reilly's like 'Hey I don't care, I'm doing it for the money.'  There's guys that wanna hear the Democratic point of view, the liberal stuff.  The far right is way crazier!  What's the worst thing a Democrat has done?  What's the worst thing?  Are they denouncing science?  Maybe they're denouncing religion in schools, actually I don't want a fucking church in my school!  I want the church at church!  What is so wrong from the liberal point of view?  Where are the liberal extremists?  What, PETA? Or the people trying to get between toxic waste dumping out in the ocean?  I don't know, some of the extreme far left, with the burning of those houses for infringing on forests, I get that.  I'm against that, no one should burn someone's property.  How is it somehow the Obama Administration is the far left?

AWAY-TEAM:  So we're here for the opening night of the Summerland Tour with your band, Filter, as well as Sponge (whose sound check graced our eardrums throughout this interview), Live, and Everclear.  What's the band you most look forward to seeing tonight?

JONNY RADTKE:  I can't wait to see all of them!

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah.  I mean, how are we gonna pick a favorite?  They're all awesome bands.

JONNY RADTKE:  The other three bands have all had great success over the years.  Really cool songs, and we've all known each other, for the most part, for many years.  So already today's been kind of a 'Hey it's good to see you again' 

AWAY-TEAM:  High School Reunion type of thing.


JONNY RADTKE:  It's gonna be fun for all the fans, but it's a treat for all of us too.  For all of us to be back in a room together, and hanging out.

AWAY-TEAM:  Rich, last but not least, I know you just got a new tat a couple days ago...


AWAY-TEAM:  So let's see it!  What did you get?

RICHARD PATRICK:  (shows arm)

AWAY-TEAM:  Oh nice, for Sloan. (Rich's daughter)  That's cool!

RICHARD PATRICK:  My daughter Sloan.  She is so, she's just got such an amazing go-getter attitude.  Just fearless, ya know.  First day of pre-school she's marching into pre-school holding her bags, her backpack was bigger that her, and she's like 'Let's go!' (laughs)  She walks in 'Whatta ya got here?'  Ya know, puts it in her little cubbie at school and just like...

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, they're amazing.  They're life changers!

RICHARD PATRICK:  Yeah, and the funny thing  is that a million years ago, it was that emotional bond that made us more successful, way more so than all of the other bi-peds.  The brain would start to get bigger to grow more emotional.  So having all of these super strong emotional ties, the byproduct of that is what gave us all of this intelligence.  Isn't that amazing?  So when you have a kid, you're so connected, and it's like 'I have to live as long as I possibly can. I have to take care of myself' (laughs) When I was 30, I did not care.  I was like 'I don't wanna be 40.  I don't give a fuck.  I'd rather die.  Who cares?'  I was like 'I'm good.  Became a rock star.  Sold millions of records...' Then all of a sudden when you have kids you're like 'Nope.  I need to see her grow up.  I need to protect her when she's 30, 40, 50.  I'm gonna eat my spinach.'

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah I know, it's amazing what they do to us!  Well hey, thank you both!


AWAY-TEAM:  It's been a huge honor, and a great pleasure to speak with both of you, and I look forward to seeing you tear it up out there tonight! (And tear it up they did!)

RICHARD PATRICK:  It's gonna be great!  We're looking forward to it!

JONNY RADTKE:  Thanks for coming out!


For more info including Tour Dates and to purchase music and merch visit Filter's Official Website.

Special thanks go out to Richard and Jonny for so graciously giving me their time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at Wind-Up Records for making it all happen!



evans blue band

In an age where rock bands come and go with every flip of the calendar, it's becoming extremely hard to find new bands that become mainstays in this writer's musical rotation.  Enter one of the few constants... Evans Blue.  The world was first introduced to EB back in 2005, with the single "Cold (But I'm Still Here)" off of their debut album The Melody and The Energetic Nature of Volume.  All they have done since then is sell over a million albums and hone themselves into staples in the active rock world.  Not everything came so easy for them however, the band has endured lineup changes (including the replacement of original lead singer Kevin Matisyn), the perils of being major label artists, and personal tragedy along the way.  While most bands that encounter these things get weak and dissolve, Evans Blue has not only managed to persevere, they've progressed with each album leading up to their strongest release to date, Graveyard of Empires.  Recently, I had the chance to catch up with founding member and guitarist Parker Lauzon, on the eve of the kickoff of the Graveyard of Empires Tour, where we talked and laughed about everything from "one-man orchestras"-to- one man's fight for his life with the Czech injustice, err I mean justice system.  So sit back, relax with a cold adult beverage, and join me as we go "Beyond the Stars" with Parker Lauzon.

AWAY-TEAM:  I'd first like to say congratulations on the success of Graveyard of Empires, I've been a fan for quite some time, and I think I can say it's your best work to date...

PARKER LAUZON: Thanks! I appreciate it!

AWAY-TEAM:  It's well deserved!  (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  ...particularly form a guitar standpoint.  The album seems to be more riff-driven than those in the past, what can we attribute that to?

PARKER LAUZON:  I don't really know... I guess I'll start off by saying that this is the album that, personally for me being in this band from the beginning, and basically the founder of the band, this album is the pinnacle of what I've always wanted this band to sound like.  There's very diverse taste in music throughout the band.  I've always been since high school, a metal fan, but then the Staind's and the Deftones came out with the metal riffs, and the melodies, and that's what I was kinda drawn to.  So that's the sound I was always going for, but the albums always turned out a little lighter than I wanted them, and this album turned out absolutely perfect in my eyes.  It is exactly how I wanted this band to sound all along, so I'm very excited about it.

AWAY-TEAM:  The title of the album seems to have many meanings to it, what was it's meaning to you guys when you picked it?

PARKER LAUZON:  The title, Graveyard of Empires, was actually the working title for the song "Thank You", that Vlad sent in.  We liked it, we had a few other album title ideas, and we decided to go with it just because of the state of the world, I guess in general, but the state of the music industry in particular; ya know, all the labels crumbling.  We just think it's a really good time for the little guy, to be independent, to make their mark on the industry.  So we decided to go with that, and we like it.

AWAY-TEAM:  You mentioned the industry crumbling to a point, and I noticed that a lot of bands are going the independent route.  For you, having been on Hollywood Records, and seeing what it was like to be a major label artist, the pros and the cons, what do you make of the whole Kickstarter campaigning that seems to be spreading throughout the music community?  It seems to be a great way for independent bands to work on a major label budget, but do you think it's something that's gonna last?  Or do you think fans are gonna start saying 'Ya know what, I already have enough autographed paraphenalia from this band. I'm gonna keep my money'?

PARKER LAUZON:  Ya know, that's a good question.  I could take it, or leave it, it seems to work for some bands, but if I were to be giving money to a band to do their album, I would probably want something in return.  So I would think you would have to make the package pretty good, if you give us something we'll give you a little something.  We're lucky to have been in the industry to the level that we have that we can do what we want,  I can tell you right now, if we were on a major label right now I don't think the album would sound the way it does, and that would really disappoint me.  Without having those big heads leering over you, we have our artistic say, and that's really important to this band.  We want to not be told what to say or do in our songs, we want to write our songs, we don't want people to write them for us.  I think bands on major labels are losing that luxury these days.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, someone's always pulling the strings behind the scenes.

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah, it's really unfortunate.  People are scrambling to figure out how to fix this industry, and I think that the major labels are breaking it more than they're fixing it right now.

AWAY-TEAM:  Right.  Now, the title track of this album is a little bit of a break from the norm, stylistically, you eluded to it earlier that you all had different musical tastes.  It's a "piano and a one-man 14 string orchestra"...

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah (laughs)  Stevie Blacke and Al Jankowski...  Stevie Blacke is on the strings, he is absolutely incredible!  You can go to YouTube and watch him, he sets up his studio like an orchestra was playing in there, and he plays each instrument from the seat that instrument would be sitting at.


PARKER LAUZON:  It's absolutely incredible to see!  So he did the strings on our album.  Al Jankowski is, our studio is up in Traverse City, MI, he owns a Marshall's Music up there, and we had the idea to throw a little bit of piano on the album.  We were looking for a piano player in Traverse City, we obviously were there getting some stuff, and our producer Trevor Kustiak knew him.  So he came in, and just owned all the tracks.  The track "Graveyard of Empires" wasn't originally named "Graveyard of Empires" at first, we had the title of the album, but that part was just an extension of the song "Beyond the Stars" at that point.  And then somebody, I believe it was our producer, came up with the idea to make it the title track, and we had no hands in that.  We just had the idea to go into something instrumental there, with strings and a piano, but we let them have carte blanche to do what they wanted to do with the track.  So it was really cool to have it come back to us and listen to it, and be like 'Wow! That is absolutely incredible!'

AWAY-TEAM:  I was gonna ask you what that was, and I can't believe that it really is truly a one-man orchestra! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs) Yeah, he does strings for everybody.  He did like, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, all the big metal bands.  He's on all those albums, so we're really proud to have him on our album.

AWAY-TEAM:  After the departure of your former drummer, Howard Davis, which actually delayed this album, the album was recorded entirely with session drummers.  Who are you bringing out on the road with you for this tour? And what are your plans for finding Howard's replacement?

PARKER LAUZON:  We have a drummer named Dusty Saxtonfrom Austin, TX filling in on drums.  He's really, really good; he's probably one of the better drummers I've ever drummed with.  We're not really in the market for replacing a drummer, like signing a drummer into the band per se.  It'd be nice, eventually someday, but we're gonna concentrate on the tours, and on the album.  Right now Dusty's out with us, he was actually suggested by Jason Pierce, the touring drummer for Paramore, who drummed on our album in studio.  So he came with a shiny recommendation, but it was still kinda nerve-wracking, because we had a whole tour planned, and there's alot of money that goes into planning a tour.  So when we were coming into the studio and jamming with a drummer we had never met, and never jammed with... (laughs)  and having the tour booked, so you can't say 'This isn't working out.'  It was kinda nerve-wracking at first. (laughs)  But he nailed it!  In fact, he sings background vocals for us, and it adds alot to the show.  So we're happy he's out with us.

AWAY-TEAM:  With your last album, you had welcomed a new singer in Dan Chandler into the band about half way through the writing process.  You hadn't really known each other that well, even as you finished the album.  This time around, after having spent countless days and nights together on the road, and sort of gelling as friends and bandmates, how has that affected the creative process this time around?

PARKER LAUZON:  I think you pretty much nailed it.  The first album with Dan, the music was half written before he got into the band, and anybody's who has been in the industry knows that when it's time for an album, it's go-go-go, rush-rush-rush.  So we were just finding melodies, writing lyrics really, really quickly.  This album had time to ferment, to fit in, some of the songs on it were from just after the third album came out.  We had been constantly writing since then, so we had time to sit back, listen to the demos, and be like 'This is cool, but what can we do here...'  You know, how an album is actually supposed to be done, not 'You guys have a few weeks, get it done.' (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Right. (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  So we had all the time in the world to get it done, and really take our time.  And Dan really just went into the depths of his past, and all the trials he's been through in his life, and just sing from the heart, and just what he's been through.  Some of it, he's had a hard time, and some of the best songs that are written are the most honest songs.  They say 'This is what's happened to me.  This is my life.  It's not a nice part, but people need to hear it.'  I think people can relate to it alot, nobody's happy all the time, I mean c'mon.  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  I hear you!

PARKER LAUZON:  And if they are they're faking it! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Speaking of your self-titled album, "Erase My Scars" has been a vehicle to promote your band's charity.  Tell me a little bit about that charity, and what brought you guys to create it.

PARKER LAUZON:  The song "Erase My Scars" was written for Dan's nephew Chase, who unfortunately lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of eight.  So that song is very, very emotional for us.  I lost my mom to cancer, everybody involved with this band has been touched by cancer, (bassist Joe) Pitter lost his father, so that song is very close to our hearts.  We just wanted to do something, we're not out here making millions of dollars, but if we're making some money, we want to give some of that money to somebody to help make their life better.  Maybe not help find a cure, but if we can help them get to the hospital, or anything small like that,  ya know, one more doctor's visit or something.  So we just started the Keeping Chase Foundation to put some of the percentages of our sales into helping people's lives that have been affected by cancer, make their lives a little bit better.  Just before we left for tour, there's a friend named Chrissy in Houston, TX, who just sent us a wonderful picture saying that she is cancer free as of right now, and we were helping her out through the foundation. That was exactly our goal, and such a beautiful story, I can't wait to get down to Houston so I can hug her.  It's such a wonderful story, and I hope we can make more of those stories.  The more money that comes in, the more people we can help.

AWAY-TEAM:  That is so awesome!  Congrats!  Back to touring, I'm sure you guys have seen your fair share of over-zealous fans, but what do you make of the whole situation with Lamb of God's Randy Blythe?  And do you think that if that were to happen in North America, it'd be treated the same way?

PARKER LAUZON:  That's a tough one.  I mean, from the video you can't really see much, and you can't see what happens to the kid once he goes into the crowd.  I don't wanna say anything negative, I don't think he should be in jail for it, that's a bunch of B.S. right there.  But, if it happened in North America, no.  It's obviously, blatently, not his fault.  There's no way he could control it.  They're saying that the kid kept jumping up on stage, and getting in their face, and when it comes down to it what I view it as, is ever since Dimebag was killed, that shit is just not cool!  You just can't come up on the stage, it's not cool!  He needs to get out of that jail, and I really feel sorry for the fans there because once he's released that band's never coming back there.  It's just a really crappy situation, it's unfortunate, I hope for all the boys in Lamb of God, and Randy, he's released soon.  It's a rock show!  You can't be held liable.  I hate to say it, but part of me thinks it's because he's in another country, and because he's American that they're holding him.  Because he's in an American metal band, and they gotta set an example, and I think it's a bunch of bullshit!  It's a rock show, people come to a rock show, you know you're gonna get roughed up a little bit, there's gonna be a mosh pit.  If a band tells you to stay off the stage, don't try to get back on the stage!

AWAY-TEAM:  Absolutely! I liken it to someone running out into a gun range and getting hit by a stray bullet, the guy had no intention of killing you, you didn't belong there.  It's not his fault, it's yours!

PARKER LAUZON:  There are son many variables that can come into play in the situation.  What happened after he got into the crowd?  The crowd caught him? Or the crowd caught him and he got beat up in the crowd.  You can't blame one person for that, that's just making an example of an American lead singer of an American metal band!  Because, you know, metal's bad, and we're related with Satan, and evil; it's just a bunch of bullshit!  It's just stupid, just let him out and be done with it.  It is good press for that city, I'll say that.  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, not for the fans though! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  These people want attention, and it's really dumb.  He needs to be let out and come back home.

AWAY-TEAM:  Amen to that!  I know you've just released an album, but what can we expect from EB in 2013?  Any kind of live album, or DVD in the works?

PARKER LAUZON:  I'd love to do a DVD!  2013?  We're not that far ahead into the planning, I think we have a lot of ammunition on this album to keep us on the radio, and keep us out for quite a while.  The more touring, the better for us, that's where we want to be.  In front of the fans, playing shows.  You know this tour, I'm saying this as I'm looking at the stage setup, we have this enormous backdrop, we have all these light trusses, and production, we haven't done anything like this before.  It's such an exciting time for this band, especially being independent, we're just recycling our own money back into our tour, and I think that's what the secret is.  You stay out on the road, you play shows over and over again, you make the show better and better, because albums (in general) are selling less and less.  But 2013, to answer your question at all, I'd like to see us go to the U.K., maybe Australia would be nice.  Maybe some Sweden, stuff like that, we wanna get overseas because we're growing a fan base over there, and it's been a long time coming to get over there and play some shows.

AWAY-TEAM:  Hey, do me a favor, stay the hell out of the Czech Republic! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)  No, no rock shows for your for a while Czech Republic! (laughs)  At least not at a club that condones stage diving, I can't do that!  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  That's another thing! You just brought up a good point, that's gonna kill the national rock scene over there.  Poor fans.  No band's gonna wanna go over there now!  It's so ridiculous.

AWAY-TEAM:  Last but not least, you guys recently became the first rock band to have your own tattoo ink color.  Tell me a little bit how that came about, and have you gotten any pieces done with that color yet?

PARKER LAUZON:  I am going to soon, actually.  It was just, Dan had been talking with some guys, and they had an idea to come up with some Evans Blue ink.  He flew out to Oregon, where they're based, and got some ink done, he actually got an 8 hour session with two guys, one on each arm.  I'm like 'Man, that must've felt really good!' (laughs)  So he went out there, they released it, and they're actually doing really well.  We're playing a show in Hampton Beach in a couple weeks, and they're flying out for a convention, so I'm working on getting my chest colored in by them.  So Evans Blue ink will definitely be on my chest.  I can't wait, we all love tattoos.  Dan and I, I'm covered in them, and he's catching up, it took him a while but.  Yeah, Evans Blue ink, it's a no-brainer, why haven't other bands done it before.  I mean, rock n' roll is so connected with tattoos, and all that.  We just got an email, 'Hey, we're thinking about making an ink.  How do your guys feel about it?'  And it came out the same day as the album was released, we were like let's do it.  Dan's got it on his arm, it's a really cool vibrant blue, and I can't wait to get mine!

AWAY-TEAM:  What are you gonna get?

PARKER LAUZON:   I'm gonna get my chest colored in, but I'm not sure exactly what I'm gonna do.  I have my son's name written across my chest, so I'm gonna just get it filled in with stuff.  I think it's about time I got the butterfly logo tattooed on me somewhere.  (laughs)  So I think that's what I'm gonna do.

AWAY-TEAM:  Well hey Parker, thanks so much for your time.  It's been a pleasure and an honor...

PARKER LAUZON:  Hey man, anytime, my pleasure.  It was fun.  Some of these are not so fun, they're kinda like pulling your hair out! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  I hear you.  Sometimes it's like that on the other end too. (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)  I bet dude! (laughs)  I've met some real characters out here, so I bet.  It's on both ends for sure! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah.  Best of luck with the tour, and the album.  Hopefully if all goes well, I'll be seeing you next month when you make your way to Florida.

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah man, definitely hit us up, come out and have a beer!

AWAY-TEAM:  Definitely!

PARKER LAUZON:  Alright man, good talking to you.

AWAY-TEAM:  You too man, talk to you soon.  Bye.


For more info on Evans Blue, including Tour Dates visit the band's official website here.



Special thanks to Parker Lauzon for so graciously giving me his time, and to Kenneth Nixon at New Ocean Media for making it all happen.










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Away Team: I see you are heading out on the road with Alice Cooper for 8 dates. How did you get hooked up with that sweet gig?

Ven:  Our managers are very close, and have known each other for years. Our manager approached them about touring with him at the end of this year. Alice was interested and said to send over the album for him to check out. Instead of waiting till the end of the year and adding more dates there, he added 8 shows in June and booted the support band off of those dates and put us on them. That’s how it happened and I am still in shock over it.  It’s all kind of surreal and I still don’t believe it. But Monday June 11th I’ll be on stage opening for him, and I guess I’ll believe it then!

Away Team: Very cool! How do you think you guys will do in front of his crowd? You’ve got your straight ahead dirty rock sound, but you’re going up against his forty odd year loyal fans that expect a BIG Alice Cooper style theatrical show.

Ven:  I think we compliment any band that has been out in the last forty years. My partner Jason Womack who writes the music was born in the 70’s. He grew up listening to 70’s rock. We’re a big ‘in your face’ five piece like Aerosmith or the Stones and I think we compliment Alice pretty well. While I don’t think we can be direct support to Iron Maiden like Alice can do, that’s something I wouldn’t want to chew on, but I think we work well with Alice and his music. And I think we’ll get his fans up, hot and bothered, and ready for him.

Away Team: So I read that Venrez essentially started because you needed some work done on your house and the rest of the band were helping out?

Ven:  Yes, it is kind of a funny story. When I was seventeen, I had a friend who was a guitar player, and there was a rich kid drummer who found a bass player and we put a band together. We jammed for about three weeks and it was really sounding good and then everybody just flaked out.  Fast forward many years later and many of my friends never knew I could sing because I just never sang around them or let them know. So I have a condo I was renting in the Hollywood Hills, and a friend of mine came down from Oregon and suggested we build this Tiki Bar on this huge sundeck I had so I said go ahead. What I didn’t know was that all the guys that would come to work on it were all accomplished musicians including Jason Womack who recorded and toured with Juliette Lewis for three and a half years. The building sessions soon turned into jam sessions and I started singing and everyone looked at me like, ‘Wow!’ The next thing I knew, we had a band. That was like August of 09.
The original Venrez band was very different than it was today.  The only original members of the few first versions of the band are Jason Womack and myself.

Away Team: Did you ever finish the Tiki Bar?

Ven:  Yes we did, and it was awesome! It had counterweight logs so the roof opened up in four sections, I mean they went whole hog on it. The funny thing was that we didn’t get permission or pull permits for it at all and after three or four months the landlord went nuts and sued us! Eventually we had to tear it all down but we enjoyed every minute we had it. That’s what Rock & Rollers do; they don’t think about it they just do it! But we had violated like nine L.A. County municipal codes! (Laughs)

Away Team: Your debut album Sell the Lie has this raw dirty Rock & Roll feel to it that isn’t overproduced but doesn’t sound like a garage rock band either. You recorded it live in the studio; can you explain why that was important to you and your sound?

Ven:  Jason writes the music and I write the lyrics and we had played the songs live quite a bit and I felt we really owned them by the time it came to record them. We wanted to go into the studio and give it a live sound and go back to the old school days and get away from the perfectionism of the HD Pro Tools. And also, that way, when we did perform them live, we’d really back them up! So many bands today use the trickery of the studio for perfection and you go see them live and your really disappointed or two or three songs into the set and everything just sounds the same. We just really wanted to differentiate ourselves and just step up. Our band went into the studio and knocked this thing out in three days! Believe it or not.

Away Team: That, Sir, is impressive.

Ven:  That’s what kind of players they are. I think that’s when Alex Kane decided to come in with both feet.  He came in to do the album, and I don’t think he truly understood the quality of the guys he was playing with. He then told me, ‘We’ve got the best band in L.A. man!’ I think when he went into the studio with these guys and played with them, and he’s played with some great musicians, that’s when he said, ‘I’m in something special and I am going to commit to this 100%.’ I went in and knocked the vocals out in seven or eight days, so we did the whole album in about eleven days. Jason produced it; he was the right producer for it because he wrote all the music for it. We didn’t have the funding we have today so Ed and Jason mixed it and they did a great job. We turned the finished product over to Howie Weinberg, the master of Mastering and it made his job very easy. On the next album we might go to Sylvia Massy or someone like that to help produce or mix it.

Away Team: Speaking of the next album, Sell the Lie came out in February of this year, and you are already in pre-production for the next one?

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Ven:  Yeah, that’s what we’re doing in the down time. We got lucky and got funded with some dough so we bought our own gear. So we’re not under the pressure of going into a noon to midnight lock down in the studio. I don’t know if people really understand how tough that is. After three days you can’t even see straight anymore. So having our own gear and being able to record at our own leisure is a huge benefit. In the down time, instead of rehearsing that day, we’ll record. We are more than half way done with the next album. I think it will be finished on the next break in August or September. We’ll get it mixed and mastered and ready to be released early next year. And then we’ll tour behind that one. I’m still very excited about Sell the Lie and we still have a lot of touring to do behind it. I do think our fans are going to enjoy the next album behind it very much.

Away Team: My favorite songs off Sell the Lie would be the title track and Melting. Can you tell me a bit about those two songs and the messages behind them?

Ven:  Sell The Lie is a real important track to me! Ed came up with the idea to name the album Sell the Lie and then we went out of our way to make sure that the artwork didn’t make everyone think that the whole album was about Sell the Lie, because it’s not. You have songs like Melting on there too.
Sell The Lie is one thing I feel very strongly about. I absolutely support law enforcement and the boys and girls in the Armed Forces and one of the things I absolutely detest is the taking of lives for profit.  So Sell the Lie is about corporate greed and blood for money. I needed to write it, I needed to perform it, and I needed to get that message out there to get it out of my soul. On the cover of the album we have the wolf in the 20’s tuxedo that represents corporate greed seducing the beautiful woman. The beautiful woman represents us, the masses of all sexes, creeds, colors, and religions. But we’re getting smarter because she’s got that ball-peen hammer dangling. I think the masses are getting smarter and we are going to put an end to this sooner rather than later.
Melting, well, no offense to you but that is unusual. Most of the people that love that song are the girls. I think it is one of my favorite songs on the album too. Like the cover of Can’t Find My Way Home it is melodic and pretty. The guy I was living with from Oregon had a propensity to drink too much and get a little bit out of control. It was really hot, it was the dead of summer and the studio was upstairs and the sun deck was just off it. He kept leaving the sliding door open, and I had complained to him over and over again about keeping the door closed to the sun deck so it would stay cool up there. I finally just gave up and watched him drunk and high go in and out and it was 105 degrees in the studio. So I just sat there sweating watching all these insects come in crawling on my face and I was just like… Ok, I’m gonna write this song ‘before that drink down your throat sinks’…  I came up with that line, it was about him, and that’s where it started. 'You drunken fool you’re pissing me off’, and ‘those itchy ones crawl on my face’… A lot of people thought I was writing about a tweaker on meth scratching at their face. That’s not what it is about. It was about me melting in my studio being mad at him.

Away Team: Sell the Lie came out in February, you’ve toured with Fuel, you’re touring with Alice Cooper, you’re going to finish the second album in August/September, what’s next for Venrez?

Ven:  Our first show is June 11th with Alice; our last show is June 22nd in Raleigh, North Carolina…

Away Team: That’s where I’m catching you guys.

Ven:  Great! Look forward to meeting you there. So Fuel is on tour right now and we’re going to join up with them again on June 23rd and do six or seven shows with them. Then we’ve got a big show in L.A. at the Whiskey with Junkyard that’s already sold out. Then we’re doing Sylvia Massey’s festival in Weed California August 4th and 5th. Finishing the album, then back out on the road again. We’re talking to two or three really huge bands who are all interested in having us go out with them. So I don’t know who it will be yet, but we’ll be back on the road either September, October, or November.

Away Team: Thank you very much Ven for your time, it was great talking to you, good luck with Alice, and much success in the future, and I’ll see you in Raleigh on the 22nd!

Ven:  Thank you Jim, look forward to it. Rock on!

Away Team: And for you reading this Sell the Lie is out now on iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s website venreztheband.com.


One year, one major label debut album, countless festival dates, one cutting edge video, and three hit singles that are taking America by storm...  what have YOU done this year?  The aforementioned is just the status quo for Cale Gontier and the boys from Art of Dying.  The Canadian quintet first infiltrated our borders and burst onto the scene in early 2011, and has played the part of Rock n' Roll's Pied Piper leaving a trail of followers all across the States.  Recently, this lemming had the chance to catch up with bassist Cale Gontier to get the forecast for this musical monsoon.  So sit back, relax, and grab a cold one as we touch on everything from AOD-to-ESP-to- another Canadian weather phenomenon that involves Leafs that blow year round.

AWAY-TEAM:  Congratulations on the tremendous success of Vices and Virtues.  It's definitely well-deserved...

CALE GONTIER:  Thank you so much man, appreciate that!

AWAY-TEAM:  Now, it's well documented that the band takes it's name from part of an even longer phrase, 'The art of dying is my life to live...', but where did that phrase actually originate?

CALE GONTIER:  Ya know man, I think that whole phrase just kinda, it's kinda how we roll as a band.  It's just about enjoying your time, and making the best of your time realizing that you're not gonna be around forever, and just having fun.  Day to day having fun, and doing what you wanna be doing, and that's what we do as a band.  I think that's how we all came together, and it's just sort of our motto.

AWAY-TEAM:  The current single, 'Sorry', your third off the album, has probably the coolest, most well done lyric video I've seen in a long time.  Where did the idea come from for such an artistic lyric video?

CALE GONTIER: Yeah, that lyric video has taken off.  It's almost gone viral online, it's getting tons of hits on YouTube and stuff.  Usually all the videos that we've done in the past, the band's been involved in, and the lyric videos have been fairly simple, but with this one we decided to go down a bit of a different road.  We got a couple of actors from L.A., who did a great job, and the people at Warner Brothers had alot of input on it, and it turned out really cool.  It tells the story of the song within that three minute lyric video, and it was just really well done, and I think that alot of people can really relate to that song in one way or another.  Just needing to apologize for something, whatever that may be, it doesn't necessarily have to be the relationship like it is in the video.  But yeah, we actually just recorded an acoustic version of the song in Chicago with Dan Donegan from Disturbed, who produced it.  We're doing this really cool thing on Facebook where, Jonny our singer started this thing after that lyric video, the last scene in the video is where the girl holds up a piece of paper that says "Sorry" on it, she's apologizing to the dude, so we're doing this cool online thing where all of our fans and followers online have been changing their profile pictures to a picture of them saying "Sorry" in one way or another.  Most of the time it's them holding up a piece of paper that says "Sorry", or they've written it on their arm, or gotten creative with it, and that's kinda taken off online as well.  So what we're gonna do is choose the coolest pictures, and they're actually gonna be in the new video for the acoustic version of the song.  We're actually in the process of doing that right now, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out as well.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, I noticed that myself.  That was actually gonna be my next question.  But getting back to the lyric video, I wanted to ask, being that music videos are now mostly relegated to the web, do you think videos such as the one you've just put out are the wave of the future?

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, I kinda think so man.  We were just experimenting a little bit, but I think with alot of the Fuse, MTV, and MuchMusic it seems like videos are getting less and less air time.  For that same reason, people are spending less and less money on them, and I think Facebook and YouTube is where it's at right now.  That's where it's gonna get seen, so if you can do something that is creative, and that is cool, and is different, and spread the word online, kinda like what happened with that lyric video, I think that's the new way to go.  It's not like we spent a ton of money on  it or anything, it's just it was something cool and creative, and people were digging it, and they can be a part of it with these profile pictures and all that, so it does seem to me that that's happening more and more for sure.

AWAY-TEAM:  When you joined the band, you had been playing with Thornley at the time, how did you end up in Art of Dying? And more importantly, I'm gonna make an assumption here, how did a Leafs fan end up in a band with a bunch of Canuck fans? (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) That's a great assumption! (laughs) You know what man, we are all hockey fans by the way, but I don't wanna talk about the Leafs too much, they let me down this year!  But as far as how we all came together, I guess the conduit was our drummer Jeffy Brown, he is from Guelph, Ontario, and he used to play in a band with my older brother in Guelph.  He ended up moving to Vancouver, and he hooked up with Jonny and Greg, and they started playing together.  Me and Tavis were living in Toronto, playing in a bunch of different bands, we were playing with Thornley/Big Wreck for like five years... and even how that came about, my cousin Adam sings in Three Days Grace, and on their first album I was on the road with Three Days as a guitar tech, even though I had no idea what I was doing, I was just helping out and having fun with Adam, and I went to high school with all the other guys too.  So I was out with them, and Thornley opened for Three Days, after a little while I befriended Tavis and Ian (Thornley).  A year later when that tour was done, Ian was looking for a bass player, and Adam suggested that he give me a call.  He did, and I started playing with them, and that's how I got super tight with those guys.  We played for five years, and me and Tavis are best buddies.  Then the original Art of Dying, with Jeffy playing drums, came to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week, which is kind of like Canada's SXSW, and I put the guys up at my place for like 7 or 10 days.  They just crashed on couches and floors at my place, and we just really hit it off as friends.  Everyone was super cool, and we had a good time as friends first, we'd just go out and have some drinks and have a good time, and the idea of Tavis and I going out on a little Canadian tour they had booked came up one night, and we thought maybe it was crazy enough that we could pull this off.  So Tavis and I cancelled a few things, the first time we ever played together was during a sound check at the first show at the University of Calgary, for like eight people! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  But, once we started playing together on that little Canadian run, we were already good friends, and musically we just really connected.  One of our things, Tavis and I sang our asses off in Thornley for a bunch of years, and we just love singing harmonies, so we just jumped in singing three-parts on all of the Art of Dying songs.  Then we started writing new songs, and we just felt that we had something special all of a sudden.  That's so hard to come by, and that's the most important thing, in my opinion, being in a band, you gotta live with these people ten months a year when you're touring.  When you get something special like that, you really better lock it in, so that's what we did.  Everybody dropped everything basically, and we decided to solidify Art of Dying.  That was about five years ago, and it didn't take long after that.  We started to get on some better tours, Disturbed took us out a couple times, and at that time we didn't even realize that Dan and David from Disturbed even had a record label.  We just thought they were buddies, and digging our music, but they were watching from the front of the house every night, at our sound checks every day, and in hindsight the couple of tours that we did with Disturbed were actually showcases for their label, Intoxication.  Then they flew us down to Chicago, and said they wanted to sign us.  We were super stoked, and everything's been moving pretty fast, and going great since then.

AWAY-TEAM:  I gotta tell you man, you're pretty good, this is the second "next question" that you already answered for me! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) I keep doing that, shit! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs) No that's good, you're making my job easier! (laughs)   You mentioned writing new songs, I understand that the writing sessions for this record involved getting together in some weird locations.  Tell me about some of those locations, and what place was the most inspirational, or productive?

CALE GONTIER:  Well, because we live on different sides of the country, when we're not on the road we're not all together as a band.  Jeffy, Jonny, and Greg all live in Vancouver, I live in Toronto, 3,000 miles away, and Tavis just kinda floats around wherever, he's a gypsy when we're not touring. (laughs)  So when we do an intentional writing trip, we  always try to go somewhere cool, somewhere inspirational, like you said.  But we've done a few different ones, like we met up at our buddy's house in the interior British Columbia.  This kinda small ski town, just outside Colona, and we just set up shop there for a few weeks.  Set up our gear in the basement, it was just a good vibe, we were barbecuing for ourselves every night.  Most of our songs come from just sitting around with an acoustic, just bouncing ideas off each other.  When we do get together for a little writing trip like that, we've all been writing on our own, so we just bounce ideas off each other; and they get better and better, once everyone puts their own twist on it.  Jonny's just sick, and comes up with good melodies, and stuff like that.  So that was a good one, when we went to Colona for a few weeks, got alot of good stuff done there.  Another one, we went to Chicago, which Chicago is like our second home now with our connection with Disturbed, and we ended up doing half of Vices and Virtues there.  Dan Donegan produced, and we went to a studio called Groovemaster, Johnny K's studio in Chicago, that's just a super cool old building that Al Capone used to own, and just good things always seem to come when we put ourselves in a situation like that, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM:  You mentioned Dan producing, what's he like in the studio?  Is he more of a demanding hands-on type?  Or is he more of a "Do what you do, and we'll tweak it later" type?

CALE GONTIER:  Danny is really more of a hands-on guy.  He's obviously a super talented musician, and he's got great input.  He's not always diving in, or getting in there too much, he'll sit back... but he's not shy, and usually when he does jump in and say something he's got a great idea, ya know what I mean.  He's great, and a super hard worker, we'll start at 10 a.m. and we'll go 'til midnight, so we're not messing around.  We'll get alot of work done, and he spends 3 hours a day on his hands and knees dialing knobs on the guitar heads to get these sick tones, and he's got a bunch of cool little tricks.  I think he really respects us, and likes our songwriting, and likes our band, which is probably why they signed us in the first place, so.  He doesn't dive in too much, he sits back and lets us do our own thing, but when he does get in there he's got some really sick ideas.

AWAY-TEAM:  You guys have been touring your asses off, as a matter of fact, you just mentioned Chicago, you just played there last night...

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, it was great! We opened for Shinedown at the House of Blues, and it was off the hook.  It was a good show.

AWAY-TEAM:  When can we expect to see you back in the studio recording the next studio album?

CALE GONTIER:  That's a good question man.  We are ready to go, whenever the time is right.  We're writing on the road, and we're always writing when we're at home, so we feel like we're ready to go whenever the time is right.  But at the same time, we didn't wanna rush into anything.  We're super excited about Vices and Virtues, and we're really proud of that record.  We have been touring it hard, we're on our third single now, but "Sorry" is doing really well at the moment.  It's in the Top 20, and still picking up steam, so we'll see how far we can take that.  Then I'm pretty sure we'll get to another single after that, so I think there's alot of different factors involved.  We've got a bunch of different tours lined up, we finish this little run at Rocklahoma on the 27th, and then we go home for a few weeks, then we're coming back out at the end of June.  We're gonna be going pretty hard again, as of then, so.  Ya know, we wanna be on the road supporting Vices and Virtues as long as we can.  So we'll see what happens.  My best guess is that we'll tour Vices and Virtues until December-ish, and then we'll take a look at it then.  Maybe even get out early next year on Vices and Virtues, and then think about the studio, or maybe once we take a break at the end of this year, maybe that will be the time.  I think we'll just have to see what's going on with the singles, and what kind of tours we've got lined up, and all that.  We are ready to go, and I'm pretty sure the second album is gonna be a step up from the last one.

AWAY-TEAM:  Speaking of touring, and the next single, alot of bands have that, for lack of a better word, that "B-Side" that they'll break out.  A song that might not have been released as a single, but the crowd goes nuts for it.  What's your "B-Side"?  And does crowd response ever factor into the selection of a new single?

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, absolutely man.  I guess for us, right now, a song that is on Vices and Virtues and hasn't been released as a single, but people really seem to be stoked about, and always ask for is "Best I Can".  Which is kinda one of the mellower tracks on the record, but it's a really special song for us.  To be honest, it's one of my favorites on the record, and alot of people seem to be into that song.  It's tough when we're out on all these opening festivals, you only usually get like 30-35 minute sets, 40 if we're lucky, so we gotta be really selective.  Often we'll only get to play six songs, so we can't sneak in a song like that.  People are hitting us up on Facebook the next day, saying "Great set, but I really wanted to hear 'Best I Can'"  It is, I guess a bit of a ballad, for lack of a better word.  But people really seem to dig that song.  I don't know if it's because they can relate to it, it seems to be a special song for alot of people.  We've actually had some really cool moments with it live.  Like, we were playing on the Uproar Festival last summer, and one of our more special moments was when there was a huge mosh pit in the middle from the song before, and we kicked into "Best I Can", and at the back of this mosh pit all of these shirtless dudes fucking picked up this dude in a wheelchair and passed him 80 feet through the crowd, up and over the barricade where the security grabbed him.  That was while we were playing "Best I Can", that's the first time I've ever seen anything like that, I was blown away!  That was a pretty special moment.

AWAY-TEAM:  Man, I've got goosebumps! That's awesome!

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah exactly! That was crazy.

AWAY-TEAM:  Now, you mentioned this earlier, but you actually have two major label recording artists in your family, which is a bit of a rare feat, especially when it's not a sibling, or someone in the same band.  Who inspired yourself and Adam to become musicians?  Do you come from a musical family?

CALE GONTIER:  Yup.  Absolutely man.  I think our biggest influence would be my older brother, Josh, he's 3 1/2 years older than me.  He taught me and Adam, both to play guitar when we were twelve or thirteen.  Josh is a monster guitar player, and he's a great singer.  Everybody in our family is quite musical, ya know.  Josh plays music for a living, he's not signed to a major, but he plays five nights a week in clubs around our hometown of Peterborough, which is just outside of Toronto.  My mom sings and plays guitar.  Adam's mom is like a lounge piano player/jazz player, she plays for a living.  Their brother, my Uncle Tom is a monster musician, as well.  So we definitely come from a  musical family.  But Josh taught us to play and it just kinda snowballed from there.  Once we were old enough, we moved from Peterborough, up to Toronto.  I was crashing on Adam's couch, and we were hosting open stages and stuff like that, playing acoustic, and singing harmonies for $40 and free drinks, and just having fun with it.  That kinda spawned the Three Days Grace thing, and I touched on that story a little bit before.  Adam and I are super tight, we're pretty much brothers, our moms are sisters, and our dads are brothers, and we're two months apart in age.  Ya know, we've just grown up together, and he's my best friend, we talk every day.  It is pretty special, it's pretty cool to look at now, I just wish we could tour together more. (laughs) To be honest.  We did that Uproar Festival last summer, like I said, and Three Days was direct support for Avenged Sevenfold, we were on the second stage in the afternoon, but it was cool to be on a big two month run like that.  Every morning I'd walk up to the main stage area and have coffees with Adam on his bus, and every afternoon he'd come out on our stage during our set and sing "Raining" with us...

AWAY-TEAM:  God damn!  Three times! (laughs) That's the third one Cale! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  That's the third time? (laughs) I'm sorry man, I'm stealing your thunder! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs) No man, like I said, you're making my job easier! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) No but, that was super special for me.  To be able to do that every day, and have Adam up with us every night.  Yeah it's awesome man, really cool.

AWAY-TEAM:  That is cool.  We recently lost MCA of the Beastie Boys who, alot of people look at him as an MC but he was actually under-appreciated as a bass player.  Name the top three bass players that you appreciate for having an impact on the way you play.

CALE GONTIER:  I think probably my biggest influence is Mr. (Robert) DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots.  I think he's a monster bass player, and he's also a great guitar player, and he writes alot of their songs acoustically, which I try to do.  I play alot of guitar, and I'm always writing on the acoustic as well.  But I think his bass lines are the tastiest, they're not too much, they're just perfect.  I don't know what it is, but he seems to have a knack for putting the perfect bass line in there, ya know.  So he'd definitely be my number one.  John Paul Jones, of course, he blows my mind.  If I could ever get to a level like that, I'd be surprised. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  He's a monster.  Besides that man, I think just a couple of my friends.  I think Brad Walsh from Three Days, he plays Ernie Ball Manta just like me, he plays it down just like me, nothing too flashy, but tasty little pieces here and there.  Just a good solid player.  One of my other best friends, Tommy Gardner, he plays in a band called Before The Curtain, from my hometown of Peterborough, and actually Adam just signed them to his record label called Sludge Factory Records.  But those two dudes are a couple of my oldest and best friends, and they're super solid bass players, so I definitely put them on that list.

AWAY-TEAM:  At Coachella this year they brought back another deceased artist, in Tupac, as a hologram.  There's been rumblings of perhaps bringing back Freddie Mercury to play with Queen; which Roger Taylor, the drummer, said he'd have no part of.  What are your thoughts on that concept?  Is it good or bad for the industry?

CALE GONTIER:  Wow, umm, it's a pretty crazy idea.  A hologram of somebody that's passed away? I don't know.  I don't know if I really feel it man.  I think that it's definitely gonna be like actually seeing them perform live, it'll be a different experience.  I haven't thought about it too much, but I think my initial reaction is that I'd rather see them just leave it be, and not mess with a great thing, ya know?

AWAY-TEAM:  Right.  My thought is that it might water down the concert experience.  They might come around and say, Art of Dying is playing in San Francisco, but if you wanna see them in Chicago here's your hologram, ya know.  I don't know...

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Yeah.  It's a strange idea.  But yeah, my initial reaction, I don't really like it.  I like the idea of an old school rock show.  When the band comes to your town, get your ticket, if you wanna get up to the front get in line early and work your way to the front.   I think there's something special about that whole concept.

AWAY-TEAM:  Absolutely!  Okay, last but not least, we touched on this a bit, but being from Peterborough you're probably just as big a hockey fan as I am, so who's winning the Cup?

CALE GONTIER:  Ooh, tough one!  It's been a crazy year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that's for sure.  I think right now, I'm putting my money on L.A.  I'm not specifically a Kings fan or whatever, but I think once they knocked off the Canucks... Jonathan Quick is a guy that could stand on his head and get them there, it just seems to me they're playing real well, and with alot of confidence.  I think they're gonna be tough to beat now.

AWAY-TEAM:  That's where I'm at.  I'm a Pens fan myself, and was a little disappointed, but I have a good buddy who's a huge Rangers fan, and he already beat me with his damn Giants in the Super Bowl, so I don't wanna see that happen twice.

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Plus Jonathan Quick went to UMass, and I'm from that area, so.

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, it was pretty crazy to see L.A. knock off the Canucks in the first round like that.  It was a bit of a disappointment for all the Vancouver fans on the bus here. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Yeah, that must have been a quiet ride! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Win the President's Trophy, and get knocked out in the first round, that's kind of a tough pill to swallow.  But maybe since L.A. knocked them out, maybe that's why I keep pulling for them.  (laughs)  It feels a little better! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Well at least there wasn't any riots this year! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Yeah exactly, right?  Thank God.  That was pretty silly that whole thing.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah it was.  Well, hey man, thank you so much for your time.  Best of luck in everything you do, and I look forward to catching up with you when you get back here to Florida.

CALE GONTIER:  I hope so man.  My pleasure.  Thank you so much for doing this.

AWAY-TEAM:  The pleasure is all mine.  Appreciate it.

CALE GONTIER:  Alright Jay, take care man.

AWAY-TEAM:  You too. Bye.



For more Art of Dying, including tour dates and to purchase merchandise visit the band's official website here.

Special thanks go out to Cale Gontier for so graciously giving me his time, and to Andrew Steinthal and TJ Tauriello at Warner Bros. Records for making it all happen.





My first introduction to Egypt Central came in the form of "Taking You Down", off of their long awaited self-titled debut. I was immediately entranced by the strong vocal presence and riff heavy melodies, accompanied by a stellar rhythm section that was well worth the five year wait for the album's release. John Falls and company showed an impressive musical cohesion, that would be sure to set them on the path to greatness. Fast forward three years later, the band's sophomore effort lands on my desk and prompts me to write my most enthusiastic proclamation of greatness ever. White Rabbit is a cover to cover musical masterpiece of biblical proportions. So it should come as no surprise that I instantaneously requested the chance to get inside of the minds behind the album. Fasten your seatbelt, and keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times, as we dive down the hole with Egypt Central's fearless leader and immerse ourselves in the twisted world of the White Rabbit...

AWAY-TEAM: First and foremost, congratulations, you really nailed it with this album. I think I was most impressed by the fact that, usually on a great album you'll find one or two songs that you can sort of live without, on White Rabbit there is really no weak spots. I very rarely give out perfect scores when I review an album, but congratulations you guys earned it.

JOHN FALLS: Thank you very much man, we read your review and it was amazing! And flattering to say the least dude. I mean your writing is unbelievable man, the way that you tied everything together, and lead it through and made it just like a story is so similar to the way that we try to do things for the fans. It just makes it all makes sense. I was just blown away, Joey and I were reading your review as we left Memphis the other day, and thank you very much man! It was awesome to see an earnest response like that from someone who listened to the record and they got it, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: Well thank you, I appreciate that. There's actually more than meets the eye to the title of this album. Explain that to me, what exactly is the White Rabbit?

JOHN FALLS: Well, the White Rabbit represents one side, it's like the White Rabbit becomes this army of whatever is the black cloud that's been over the band. This character Fatty Arbuckle is at the helm, and just constantly trying to manipulate, maneuver, and control the band. And our lives. We just went through that so many times, and it's almost like people see you and see what you're doing, and they attach themselves to it. Ya know, that's what this industry does to you. If people see something that they think they can make money off of, and ultimately if people think that they can't make money off of you they won't take a chance at what you're doing. So it's kinda like six in one hand, a half dozen in the other. You get some people that just kinda try to keep a blanket over you, and keep you all to themselves, for fear that they don't bring enough to the table to get you to the next level I think. I feel like people won't stop at anything, ya know, they'll go to the furthest length to put this wall up around you, and paint this fake world of everything's kosher, and everything's great, everything's going as it should, but in reality nothing is as it seems. It really is our awakening that we're talking about on this record, as well as any other life lessons, and tragedy, and just ups and downs that we went through in between the first record and the second. But going back to the story of the White Rabbit, when we first wrote the song it was a song about a specific scenario, and specific people, we were getting it off our chests, ya know. All the other conceptual things that attach to the song to go further in depth to actually tell the fans the story came when we started saying 'Man, we can do some other stuff, other than just music on this record, to really bring it to life. We can do this comic book, and tell this story in depth, but give it an obvious elaborate twist to make it a fun read, like a comic book.' We've all been fans of comic books and things like that, growing up. We're way into movies and stuff, so we wanted to take the opportunity to show some other creative sides of the band, and attach that to this record. So we're working on that diligently, around the clock. The fans will be getting four panels in the record, when they buy the record, but there's also another eight panels as well that Joey also did with a little bit of a story. A little bit of a poetic rundown, from the birth of Fatty Arbuckle to when the band encounters this evil character. We're gonna start debuting those in a couple of days, on a twelve day countdown to the release of the record.

AWAY-TEAM: That should be pretty cool. I think you kinda touched on this already, but, the record is sort of a concept album, but not in the traditional aspect, were the songs written prior to the concept? Or were they written specifically with the White Rabbit concept in mind?

JOHN FALLS: No, no, that's the thing... I don't wanna say that we'd never do a concept album, but the music is the music. It has to be real, it has to be something that you've lived, and that's what makes it relatable. That's what makes it honest to the fans, and what makes it honest for yourself. First and foremost, you have to be honest with yourself, and get things off your chest. You have to bring things that are in the basement out, and that's what's great about music, is that it's kind of a self therapy session when you're able to just express yourself like that. So the music was done. It wasn't until after the record was done that we decided to start playing with some ideas that were concepts. The concepts have nothing to do with the writing of the music. We found a cool way after the record was done, to go back and tie it all together. Cuz, ya know in the writing of it, we basically were just going back and telling the stories of things that happened over the last couple of years from when we released the first record to when we began recording this one. So naturally, there being stories there, it was easy to go back and put together a storyline that connected song to song.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, it's art imitating life.

JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it was all lived in that gap.

AWAY-TEAM: Back to the comic book, is it a little weird the first time you see yourself drawn in comic book form?

JOHN FALLS: Yes and no. It's actually really cool, cuz I was way into comics growing up. And Joey's drawn the band before in a couple of different ways, so it's always been... ya know, the first couple of times I was like 'Holy crap! Look at me' (laughs) But in this sense, it's telling a story where we actually go from what we are in the storyline, to what we actually have the potential to be, and taking on that role of the uncommon superhero is really cool man. And we've found a way to connect it to some neat stuff. I think people are gonna really enjoy it. We actually are picking up our new merch guy today, who's one of our best friends for many years, and he's been Joey's best friend for a long time. He's also an artist, he did the album artwork for the first record, he and Joey did. So we're gonna have him out here as well working on this thing, so we got the green light to go ahead after we finished these panels this last month, to start working on the full length comic, or graphic novel, or however it comes out in the end. So we're willing to push it as far as fans go. If it comes out and fans are liking it alot, and it really goes that far, who know's, the sky's the limit with how far we take it.

AWAY-TEAM: Well I can't wait to see it. One of my favorite tracks off the album is "Down in Flames", which is sort of a call to arms to an entire generation. What was the inspiration behind that song?

JOHN FALLS: Well, I mean, you said it right there. It's one of those things that, we live in the world, I mean we consider ourselves to live in one part of the world, but humanity as a whole. With everything that's been going on in the world, with natural disasters, and wars, the economy... everything, all the issues that we have as a race, needs to be addressed. The only way it's gonna be addressed, is if we all come together and decide to (pauses)

AWAY-TEAM and JOHN FALLS simultaneously: Wake up.

JOHN FALLS: ...and truly try to change what's been going on in the world. Because no one's gonna do it for us. As long as we continue to keep barriers up, and we continue to get distracted by, 'Oh hey, let's watch prime time TV, because this is cool, this is entertaining let's forget about the fact that we have people dying all over the world. Let's see who's gonna be the next American Idol'! Ya know, 'Let's see what's going on with Charlie Sheen and Two and a Half Men'

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, we're not focusing on the real problems.

JOHN FALLS: Yeah. Ya know, one thing covers another. I mean, we're not political, we're not gonna talk about politics, or religion, or anything like that because that's to each his own. I don't think that that's something that we would choose to take on, with our music or our opinion. I feel like that's exactly what it is, and everyone's entitled to their own. I will say that when you have tragedy, there's no good that can come out of people killing one another. And that gets covered up by another scenario, and you have the thing in Japan, and then that gets covered up by something that happens here. Then you got Alabama, and that covers up Osama Bin Laden. Whatever's the hot new thing, it covers up another issue, and we stop addressing the things. We get distracted so easily by what we're being fed in media, that we have to take the extra time to stay involved with what's going on on our planet! And try to work together, and it truly is a wake-up call that the next generation that's coming up is gonna have a whole seperate set of issues than what anyone in the history of this world has ever had to deal with. We're trying to do our little part to make sure that maybe we get a few of them to smell the coffee, and get out of bed. (laughs) And start working towards a better future.

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) You've enlisted the services of mega producer Skidd Mills to produce this album, which I found to be really evident in a song like "Backfire". Other artists that I've spoken to that have worked with him have told me that he is a pretty passionate hands-on type of producer. What kind of suggestions did he bring to the table to help make this thing the monster that it is?

JOHN FALLS: He had tons of input on it. I mean he was there for the whole thing, which is what made it awesome. That's why we went with Skidd, is that we wanted someone who would really get in there and be a part of it, who would believe in the band and see where the band could potentially be if someone really got in there and put in the work that we were putting in. From everything to co-writes, to ideas of us playing with different sounds. It was just going the extra mile to make this record what it had the potential to be. He didn't fall short on anything. He didn't take any shortcuts of any kind. He put himself into the record as much as we did, and through that truly became our brother in arms on this thing. He's an awesome human being, outside of being our producer, and our friend, he is a great family man. We all have that in common with him, so there's alot of passion on here that you can feel from him, and from us. Even if you listen to the mixes, you can tell that he was in there just rocking out the whole time.

AWAY-TEAM: Well you guys certainly make a great team.

JOHN FALLS: I think so also. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: I had read that you were influenced by a pretty unlikely source in Garth Brooks. Who were some of your biggest influences growing up, and when did you first realize you wanted to be a singer?

JOHN FALLS: I don't know, I've always liked music growing up, and I've listened to alot of different things. Not so much even rock, but it wasn't until... I mean I always liked singing in the car, I've just always had a passion for music as long as I've been alive. It wasn't until though, I was riding around in a car with Josey Scott from Saliva, and we were just jamming out listening to some tunes, and he was like 'Man you really gotta start a band, ya know things are taking off for me, and I'll help you in any way I can. I just think you have a really cool voice, and I think people will like it.' And I was like 'Aww,Shut up dude! Don't play like that man! I don't even know anything about music. I don't know how to play an instrument!' I think I played trombone for a little bit in junior high. I was like 'No man!' (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

JOHN FALLS: I was like 'I don't know about all of that man. I'm not you...' He said 'No man, you really should. I think you could bring something to the table' Then a couple weeks later we were riding around in a car with a friend, and it was Josey, and I, and a mutual friend of ours, and he just kept going 'You need to hear John sing. You need to hear him sing' He kept pressuring me, so we sang a couple of songs and stuff like that. Then after that I thought maybe it's not such a terrible idea. Then we were hanging out and I met some of the guys that were eventually gonna be in the band through that, and I was like 'You know what I'm just gonna swing for the fences, and give it a try. Make a complete career change, and give it a shot' And then when I hooked up with Blake, and Blake brought Joey to the table, I was like 'OK I got my musical mastermind in Blake, I've got my lyricist that could write about friggin'... a frog on the wall.'

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

JOHN FALLS: I mean he can write about anything. He just has a gift for it. It's just unbelievable to watch. What's awesome is that at the same time that he can do that, he's also open to anybody's ideas, and everyone writing. On the first record we did tons of collaborating, everyone in this band is such a team player, it's not like 'Hey this is what I do...' At the same time you know that certain people have an expertise, so people also stay out of each other's way, and let someone run with it when they're just on fire. We're all truly brothers. We've played together, lived together for almost ten years and so we're all sort of like family. We're not one of those bands where the singer found the guitar player, and they got a record deal. We are a real band that started from the ground up, in a hole in the wall room in Memphis, TN and just did everything together. Grew up together, learned about life together, fought with one another. We've been through it all, and we really are a family who's out here doing this together.


AWAY-TEAM:You guys were originally signed to Lava Records back in 2003, but ran into some issues with the label and the album didn't see the light of day until 2008. I had spoken with Sean from Smile Empty Soul, who had the same thing happen to them when they were signed to Lava, the only difference is that they had already put out an album prior to that. Being your first album, and having such a terrible experience with it, how did you perservere and keep focus for all those years? Did you ever consider just giving up?

JOHN FALLS: Well I think that there's days, naturally, when you're faced with something like that, that you look at yourself in the mirror and kinda start to question, but. There's two kinds of people in the world, there's the kind that when you tell them they can't, they believe that they can't, and there's people that when you tell them they can't it pisses them off and they're like 'I can!' We're all fighters in the sense that we don't give up, ever. Which has raised some crazy, early, youthful arguments and events. (laughs) Cuz we all have that fire in us, none of us are scared to take life on head first and no matter what it throws at us we take it, and just keep going. We always believed in the music, so no matter how many doors got slammed in our face, no matter what the misfortune was, or what got in our way, it was never 'Ya know what? Let's just give up' People were like 'Change the band name, write a new record, do this do that' It was always like 'You know what dude...Kiss my ass!' That's just how we felt. No matter what you say or do, this is our music! We made this! And as long as fans keep coming up to us and telling us things like 'This song helped me out at a time when I was suicidal. It saved my life.' Or 'This song helped me get through my divorce. This song helped me when I was at a low point.' Or 'This song gets me pumped up when I'm having a bad day.' As long as it's affecting people's lives... if we were changing ten people's lives who had been in the dark places that we had been in, we were willing to keep fighting. For them. Because we have the ability, and we are blessed to be able to make music and do it for a living, and other people can't always express themselves that way. So we always just kinda felt that kinship with the fan, that 'You know what? We'll say it for you. And we'll keep fighting, as long as you keep believing.'

AWAY-TEAM: I know you guys, and Joey in particular, are constantly listening to new music when you're out on the road. When you're in the songwriting process, do you find it hard to keep present day influences out of your songwriting so as not to sound like everyone else? Or is it something that is welcomed?

JOHN FALLS: Well, I think when we go into the studio, and we're writing, and we're recording, we shut the whole world out basically. There's nothing that exists except Egypt Central. So when we're in that mode, we're writing, and we're listening back, and we're taking what we recorded that day home and we're working on it. We're constantly doing it that way, and not listening to the radio, not necessarily to block it out or anything, but it's that we're so obsessed with what we're doing and making our music the best that it can be. So I think that through the process there's just not enough time because we're so focused on our stuff. When we come out we just go right back to listening to what's out there.

AWAY-TEAM: Well it shows man. Speaking of being out on the road, you guys recently had some trouble with your RV, and ended up having to cancel a few shows because of it...

JOHN FALLS: Man, you did your homework homey!

AWAY-TEAM: Well you know... (both laugh) You now have a brand new tour bus, a pretty nice one I might add, and you're planning on having all of your fans sign it. Tell me about that, how is that gonna work?

JOHN FALLS: Well, we're gonna pull in, park it, grab your Sharpie and write something awesome and sign your name!

AWAY-TEAM: That's really cool!

JOHN FALLS: We wanted to do something for the fans that would be a unique experience. Something that they probably never have seen before, or had an opportunity to do. Ya know, we sign stuff for them any time they want us to, but it's like you can leave your mark and say 'I was there.' Then when we're done with this leg, and this bus, we're gonna take tons of pictures of it, and then it's probably gonna cost us alot of money to have this thing repainted. But hey, it's fun for us and the fans, and ya know, alot of bands say 'It's all about the fans. It's all about the fans. It's all about the fans.' Yeah well that's because your publicist told you to say that. For us it really is about the fans, because we were cutting up Big n' Tasty's four ways just to feed ourselves. We were splitting hot dogs, one bite apiece for six-seven years just to keep doing this, and the only thing that kept us going was the fans. For us it really is about the people that believe in us and we believe in them. So it's all about us connecting and coming together as one movement to get the music out. And they work with us on that, they're proud, and that's the one thing that's really cool about the die hard Egypt Central fans. They're proud to be Egypt Central fans, they're proud to show you what they call "Their Band's music" and it's awesome for people to call us "Their Band". It's not just flattering to us, but it also let's us know that we have this huge clique of people that are our people, and see the world the way that we do.

AWAY-TEAM: I think that's one of the coolest gifts you can give back to the fans, because yeah it's cool to say 'I got my picture taken with John Falls.' but to say 'I actually signed their tour bus.' That's pretty cool.

JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it's different. I mean normally if you walk up and sign someone's tour bus, you're looking at some jail time. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah...

JOHN FALLS: But with this, we want everyone to come and have fun with it, ya know. Don't do anything so stupid that we have to cover it up, because just remember there are fans that are underage. Don't put anything that's too inappropriate. Have fun with it, but at the same time, keep in mind we gotta take care of the little people out there too, okay.


AWAY-TEAM:(laughs) The band takes their name from a street in your hometown of Memphis, have you been back to Memphis recently to see the effects of the recent flooding? Are there any plans for Egypt Central to put on any kind of a benefit concert to help the victims?

JOHN FALLS: We actually just spent some time in Memphis. We actually limped into our hometown with the RV, to play Memphis in May, and then it just crapped out completely. So we put it in the shop and they didn't have a high enough turn around to get it back on the road to make it to Florida to do the last couple shows on the tour. So we were just stuck at home, which is nice because you get to see your family, but we were gonna get about a week off anyway after the Florida dates. So it kinda sucked, but we're gonna make that up and get down to Florida. We love our fans there, and we're gonna get back down there and make that up. It was crazy though, they were talking about cancelling it (Memphis in May), the RV was parked on the path down at Tom Lee Park and the river was coming up into the grass, almost hitting us that day. It was on watch all day, it could've come up another foot at any time, and if so it would've just flooded. With all that electric stuff, it would've been a bad day for everyone. Fortunately we got through Music Fest OK, and over the next couple of days at home downtown just got reamed, and not just downtown there are so many areas that are underwater. It's a tragedy, not just for Memphis, but everyone that's been affected by the Mississippi River. Zach Myers from Shinedown is from our hometown as well, and has been a long time friend...

AWAY-TEAM: He's a great guy!

JOHN FALLS: Yeah! He's currently trying to put together a benefit right now, which we're hoping that our schedule is going to allow us the time to get back home to do. We're working on that right now, trying to squeeze it in for the date that he's looking at. But whether or not we're able to do that, we're gonna set up to take some type of donations where 100% of the proceeds will go to the flood victims in Memphis. It's definitely a blue collar town, and there's not alot of things set up to help with this. So we're gonna definitely do our part to try to bring some relief to the people that are in need right now.

AWAY-TEAM: I love to see artists do things like that.

JOHN FALLS: Yeah, at the same time it's one of those things where we want people to know that we're gonna do what we've gotta do for our hometown, at the same time if you guys need us in Alabama just pick up the phone and call. We understand what they're going through as well, and it's unbelievably tragic. I can't even find the words to imagine what they're going through, and I just don't want people to forget that Alabama, alot of it was just left in ruins, and alot of lives were lost over this. We have alot of issues that are going on right now that we have to come together and help out with. So it's gonna take everyone working together to make that happen. Not to go back to it, but we just have to remember that there are a ridiculous amount of people in Japan right now, who when we had Hurricane Katrina come down on us, bent over backwards to try to help us. We need to continue to try to focus on them right now, and keep helping them out.

AWAY-TEAM: It goes back to what you said before, one thing makes you forget the other.

JOHN FALLS: Yeah, let's not let the blanket cover up the people that need to be helped man, ya know. Let the politicians take care of the political stuff, and let the other things just filter themselves out. Let's work on what we can work on together. It's one of those things, I know everyone's broke right now, the economy sucks, but if you've got that extra five dollars that you were gonna spend to rent a movie tonight, take that extra five dollars and send it to somewhere good. I know people go 'Oh it's five dollars, how can it help?' Your five dollars by itself can't help, but go and tell your friends to give five dollars because if you do that, and the entire country can do that, we can alleviate alot of the issues.

AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I know that first hand. I actually have some business relations in Tuscaloosa, one of which lost her entire house, and we were part of a big drive to aid them, and you wouldn't believe some of the stuff that was being donated. I mean brand new chainsaws still in the box, hundreds of dollars worth of goods from single donors. It was unreal to see how people come together in a time of need like that.

JOHN FALLS: That's the thing, is that's what's amazing about our country is that we band together like no other during a time of need. The problem is that there's so many needs right now, that we don't need to forget about any of them. They're all important, and we just need to attack it man. We need to attack it with extreme prejudice and help these people out.

AWAY-TEAM: The Grand Ole' Opry sustained some pretty bad damage with the flooding in Nashville last year, do you know how safe places like Graceland and Beale St. are from the current disaster?

JOHN FALLS: It seems like everything, I mean barring a tragedy like a levee breaking, it seems like we've gotten out of the fear zone. When I left, that was a couple days ago now, I had gotten word that they're worried about it continuing to rise at this point. I think that their fear is that if it rises above the level of the levee, what could happen is it could topple. I'm not really sure because I don't claim to be an expert on that, I'm really pretty ignorant on the matter, I don't really understand what the dangers really are, and what you would do to prevent it at this point. But, I know that they're taking every precaution they can to make it as safe as possible. The thing is that, downtown kinda sets up on a bluff, so if it came up over that and then went down, I can't even imagine what the damage would be. But it's some of the other low lying areas that aren't up on the bluff that are being affected. I mean the casinos bring so much business to the area, and them just being shut down, and the damage. I mean, I saw a picture before I left where it had a sign that was like 7 feet or something like that, it was one of those PVC bars that designate height clearance in the parking garage, and it was floating up, like feet above. So far as I know, I read a statement that they made in Memphis, I can't remember who made it, but he was like Graceland is safe. He said something about like running into hell, or he would do something crazy like that to save Graceland. It's a huge tourist thing, not just for our city, but for music fans around the world. It's something that I think people would lay down in the streets to keep safe. They would hold themselves together like sandbags to keep water out of Graceland. I mean it's the second most visited house in the world, I didn't know that, but it's second only behind the White House. It has alot of value in that Elvis, even still to this day keeps people believing in music, especially rock music, and I for one thank him for all of his contributions in life and in death still to this day. Keeping the faith alive.

AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I'm a huge Elvis fan. I know where you're coming from.

JOHN FALLS: Me too dude.

AWAY-TEAM: Alright man, I know your answer about who's gonna win, but Game 7 today, Grizz by how many?

JOHN FALLS: Actually, I think it's gonna be a tough game, it's gonna be a very physical game. They're both very young teams, but I think that we have a veteran leader in Zach Randolph, and we have a guy whose heart is bigger than the city of Memphis in a guy like Tony Allen, and in Shane Battier. I think that they're carrying the weight of the city of Memphis. Memphis has just gone through so many things over the last couple of years, in the last decade even, that through their success they're making Memphis believe. Everywhere you turn there's a Grizzlies sign that says 'Believe Memphis', and it's got Memphis believing in itself again that we can take our city back to where it once was. I feel that they now know that they're carrying that weight, and that's something that when you go into a ten round heavyweight championship fight like what's gonna go on today, they have a passion going into it that's not about winning a championship, it's not about just playing to win. They're carrying such a heavy load that I feel like these guys are gonna get out there, and they're just gonna deliver for four quarters, and I think they're gonna have a huge victory tonight. I couldn't speculate as to how they're gonna do it, and in what form, but that's what's great about us. We're a blue collar town, with a blue collar team. We don't depend on one or two players to get it done, they depend on one another, and for me that's what makes me love the team even more. I feel like they've gone through their adversities the same as Egypt Central has, and they better hope that my set time is not during that game tonight, because we may be missing a show. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Well I'm pulling for the Grizz too, now that my Celtics are out, so we'll see how it goes.

JOHN FALLS: Awesome. Go Grizz Baby!

AWAY-TEAM: John, thank you for your time. I really appreciate the kind words too.

JOHN FALLS: It was awesome man. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm glad that you connected with it the same way that we have. We listen to it the same ourselves, so thanks.

AWAY-TEAM: Good talking to you. We'll have to make sure to get together when you get down to Florida.

JOHN FALLS: Oh yeah we'll definitely have to hang. We'll do lunch or dinner or something. I'll be in touch.

AWAY-TEAM: Talk to you soon brother.




White Rabbit hits stores May 31st. For more info on Egypt Central, including tour dates and to pre-order the album, visit www.egyptcentral.com

Special thanks go out to John Falls for so graciously giving me his time, and to Amanda for making it all happen.