Artist: Dark Avenue

Home Base:Lewisville, Texas

Members:Mario Cadena ­ Vocals, Andrew Lewthwaite ­ Guitar, Allan Sauls ­ Bass, Jeff Hathcock ­ Drums, Barry Lorberbaum ­ Guitar

Current Release: Illusions (2016)

Single: Outside
Interview by: Cherri Bird

 

Meeting in a supposedly haunted, old hotel in McKinney, Texas with three of the members from the Dallas band, Dark Avenue was totally planned, I’ll admit. Knowing the band brands themselves with the mystical and the dark, I thought it would be rad to get them in a place that ties in their with their image, plus the Grand Hotel has a fantastic bar, so what could be better?

Dark Avenue is a fairly recent addition to Dallas’ roster of hard rock bands with their inception dating to 2014. Officially the current lineup has been playing together solidly for over a year and well, honestly ­ let’s just cut the crap because why on earth would anyone want to read their bio for the 9th time in an interview or write up? I don’t like reading the same information 13 times either ­ or typing it for that matter. On with the show, shall we?

Y’all, I have to tell you upfront, I live in the DFW Metroplex and always like to have a what’s what when it comes to local bands; I love a homegrown scene ­ always have. So when my boss­man asked if I was familiar with the band and did I want to do the interview, I said “Yes?” (the punctuation indicating a question is not a typo, but let’s continue and we’ll circle back to this point in a few). Truthfully, I have seen Dark Avenue play once and that was for about 3 minutes back in February of this year and then I was pulled outside for some important music business or a cigarette, I can’t remember which ­ but that’s about all of my experience with the band to date.

Three of the members in Dark Avenue are former members of Pistol Whippin’ Ike, a wildly successful local band in Dallas from the early 00’s. And I totally dug this band; like probably could still sing all of the songs and if a reunion show happened (which is eversopopular right now ­ hint, hint, nudge, nudge, nod knowingly...) I would be on the front row, literally.

Dark Avenue was never on my radar because I was familiar, knew them, and as I was a huge fan of the old band and the personal history, well...I gotta admit my little rock­a­babies, I did myself a total disservice by not being a fan of this band ­ shit! Meeting up with them we exchanged pleasantries how strange it was that it was I, Cherri Bird, doing their interview of interviews, if you will. And how cool it was that things do come full circle that are positive and good and the Universe does give us back what we put out.

Here’s what the members that met with me had to say about music, life, being musicians and their newest love; Dark Avenue:

 

Dark Avenue

 

Cherri:So y’all, I just have to say, and the readers will see the pictures, but we're in this ballroom in a hotel in downtown McKinney which is a little town north of Dallas. And from Dark Avenue's band image which is like geared to ghosts and illusions ­ and we are here and I kinda feel that vibe in here, don't you guys? This couldn't have worked out more perfect and that's what it's all about, right? Music is a reflection of your...

Barry: A reflection of your inner self. Being in this room, talking about Dark Avenue and our music ­ it’s all a reflection of hard work. I mean we’re in the Grand Ballroom of this old hotel being in this room, is really cool because it really relates to our work on the album.

Cherri: I know!! And again, i'm so shocked about that! When walked in I was first drawn to the chandeliers and it's so pretty. All sparkly and shiny, I felt like a cat playing with a laser!! And then I saw ­ I have goosebumps. then the dancers on the front of the record are in a ballroom very similar to this!!

Barry: So you also have to look closely. The record is called Illusions ­ and one of the illusions is that they're floating on air, like some dancers do and then you turn over to the back side and their inner selves are revealed.

Cherri: Exactly!! and that's one of the things we'll talk about but I want to talk to Andrew first. Andrew is what, rhythm guitar? Lead guitar...what is that ­ lead and rhythm guitar? Is that like first chair in orchestra or band? (LOL)

Andrew: It's an old term...

Cherri: Ok Andrew,, so you play guitar ­ how long have you been playing guitar?

Andrew: Well ­ all my life pretty much. It really started when I was 11, maybe earlier. I officially started taking lessons when I was younger. My dad was a guitar player, so there were guitars laying around. And when he wasn't home I would pick one and mess around just because I wouldn't get in trouble for playing them.

Cherri:What do you think is different about the music in Dark Avenue that is different than the other projects you've been a part of?

Andrew: You know I think this music is more from the heart. It's not so much in a box; you know I think a lot of music these days, every band tries to stay the same. Every band has a "pattern" or a mold that fits them well. If you listen to Illusions every song could possibly ­ and there's obviously the same elements of Dark Avenue in every song, but they don't fit the exact same mold. It's not like we went "ok we can't do this song because it doesn't fit our mold”. We all just took the song and put our souls in it and make it a good song no matter what it is.

Cherri: Very cool ­ I have to be honest I haven't listened to the entire record ­ sorry ­ I call it record ­ it's not a CD.

Barry: We call it an album.

Cherri: Ya, an album ­ but it's a record ­ because ­

Andrew: Because we are old school...

Cherri: Right ­ I mean come on, they used to have awesome covers and I loved records! So, y’alls record ­ I haven't listened to the whole thing...oh and by the way, I'm "seasoned" not old ­ I'm a seasoned music lover, fan, muse, thingie ­ anyway ­ that's just nice for old ­ groupie! I only heard "Outside"which was amazing. Great job with that song y’all. What have you done differently: in terms of your playing or your gear or your mindset, techniques, etc. What have you done differently with Dark Avenue?

Andrew: So you mentioned gear ­ I basically had to go out and buy all new gear. Part of what forms our tone and our sound is we drop our guitars to a B tuning, so it's a step and a half lower than standard tuning. You can't do that with just any guitar. And not all amps will portray that sound they can get a little muddy. So I've had to get new guitars from what I played before. It's actually more of a mindset and actually lends itself to the way the guitar sounds, when you start writing in this tuning that we're in, you write, solo and play a lot different than you would in a standard tuning. It really helps the vibe ­ and it kind of puts you in with the vibe with the son or CD.

Cherri: Speaking of you know dropping down to B, it's really ­ not like a cliché ­ but it's not like it was in the 80's and all the music was kind of written the same or with the same elements ­ like the *insert guitar solo noise here*... We kind of really have to change how we (musicians) portray ourselves music­wise or the style has to change and I think dropping down, for bands is one of those ways.

Barry: So to that, when we’re ­ oh sorry I know you're kind of asking Andrew...

Cherri: Oh no, go ahead. I'm done with Andrew...

Andrew: ouh that kinda hurt...

Cherri: Ya, i know it did. I'm sorry...my bad.

Barry: With this tuning ­ and with this training we didn't want to really fit a mold. But we had a sound or a vibe in mind, and a lot of times you hear bands tuning down and its associated with really heavy music. That wasn't what we were going for. We were looking for this sonic feel ­ this punch. We landed (drop B) gives it that punch that it has. But we experimented with different tunings to find the right one.

Cherri: Ya, well you know Theory of a Deadman ­ their song “Drown”?

Band: Ya.

Cherri: fuuckk ­ I know we're talking about Dark Avenue ­ but this is poignant. That low punch, it hits you in your bowels and like breaks your fucking back. Some music has that emotional pull because we've been so used to having these cookie cutter songs that are all written the same; same time, same chords ­ it’s nothing new there’s an ebb and flow, but...

Mario: I completely agree because over the past ten years, especially in rock music it's been very cookie cutter. I mean in any genre you want to talk about, that happened in rock. Everyone ­ every band ­ every album it was determined to sound like this. You've found your niche now exploit it. And I think finally this last couple of years, most bands had to step away from that. and that's what inspired this group (Dark Avenue).

Cherri: And you can hear that in “Outside”­ and I am going to listen to the others (songs on cd) So is that little pretty CD, is that for me? Is that mine?

Barry: That is for you!

Cherri: Yay! Thank you! I love prizes!

Barry: Back to that, I even changed gear when I was developing this. because I wanted to bring a fucking bat ­ I wanted our sound to be like you were being hit with a bat. I didn't want it to just be low ­ I wanted our songs to be felt like you're getting hit with something real.

Cherri: I do get that from "Outside". I mean at first, when I listened ­ it started and I was like "ok, not bad..." then that chord about four measures in ­ it’s like "BAM!! What the fuck??" that's literally what i thought. I listened several times while writing the questions ­ I’m excited to listen to more though. Can you talk a little about the song ­ not the technical aspect of the song, but I heard a lot of ­ and I know this sounds queer as shit ­ like girly stuff ­ but I heard a lot of feelings. A lot of ­ I don't want to say hurt, like boo­hoo ­ but more like pissed or hurt maybe pissed angry fuck you but I love you shit.

Mario: Ya, you hit the nail on the head. I'm the feelings guy...

Cherri: Of course you are and you rock your wardrobe, as an FYI!

Mario: It must be that Latino blood ­ it comes with it naturally. I was asked that question earlier ­ what was the inspiration behind "Outside"? Well, I think a lot of us we have friends, people family, that the relationship ­ whether it's friends, family, lover...whatever it is. You tend to look at things differently when you're on the insideof a relationship. everyone on the outside is pointing out things that you don't necessarily see. You're seeing (what you want) and you don't want to believe. The song is about the realization of being on the outside and understanding where that came from, being on the outside looking in.

Cherri: I want to go back to Mario for a bit ­ your voice is very distinctive. you have this powerful fucking voice, that can make girls cry and men piss their pants. What about the way you sing/perform what keeps you going or what motivates you to get up in the morning and say "fuck it i'm going to do this again" Talk about that.

Mario: I think I learned very early my dad used to sing opera ­ and folkloric mariachi music and everything I learned about emotion and power, was from him. My singing coaches and teachers through the years, always felt ­ or I felt I mean ­ when you love something, or are passionate about something, you should portray in the ways that you do things. Singing to me is a passion ­ and I take that approach when I am singing. If I'm recording, practicing, playing live, any time I put that passion (in it). I hope that the people that come and see us ­ I hope they feel what I'm feeling. That’s why I keep going ­ that desire to make people feel what I'm trying to give them.

Cherri: You know, that...I have goosebumps. I'm not kidding ­ it's so weird. I've known you, heard you sing for years and I have always felt that through how you perform and sing. And people that are listening or reading, MUST find that out for themselves. When they listen to the record and the way you sing, the uniqueness of your voice, the feelings behind your words, this is not just music for you ­ this is more ­ it's more than that. Can you tell us a little about what you did prior to coming to the US?

Mario: I'm originally from Mexico. I was born in Acapulco. Music has been in my life my entire life. I was 8 when I started singing. I originally wanted to be a drummer, but clearly I have no drumming talent. I've been very lucky to play with some of the most talented people in my world. I used to play in a band called La Dolce ­ and toured all over the country in Hard Rocks, and venues, clubs and that’s how I built my rock foundation and what I wanted to build on. When I moved here like 15 years ago, I started playing with Pistol Whippin’ Ike and it was a different experience for me ­ I've never played like that (performed). Rock has always been in my heart. Once you start playing rock, it becomes a way of life and it enchanted me. I kept me going and the fire alive. It comes from rock music that really lit a fire under me and continues to stay ignited today.

Cherri: I love that word ­ enchanted. There's so much meaning behind it ­ you can take it so many different ways ­ good and bad. Positive/negative. I can see when I've seen you perform, whether it be 2000 or 2002 or 2009 ­ I have seen that emotion ­ whether you're playing to 4 people or 2000 ­ I've seen the same performance. You're never like "oh fuck this there's only 7 people and 4 are our girlfriends" I have to commend you for that ­ your experience in Mexico and here with you past projects and Dark Avenue have afforded you the ability to kind of turn on the Mario ­ stage Mario.

Mario: It's like a jekyll and hyde kind of thing.

Cherri: So here's the meat and potatoes: I want ya'll to convey to people that may not know or have heard (of) Dark Avenue. For fans, music is an escape or it is the ability to puncture time ­ like literally puncture time and recall something from your past ­ the bitch that stole your heart, or the fucking guy that stole your girl...it takes you there...

Mario: Music is life ­

Cherri: ...all of that we can recall stuff like that and how we can transport us to that place and time, from transcending our earthliness to our emotional core ­ with music by music.

Mario: When you get to be a part of that ­ it's enchanting ­ when you get to be a part of that with someone it's breathtaking. Especially when you talk about yourselves you live your life through other people's music, but when it's your own ­ it's awesome.

Andrew: Obviously we were all music fans first and we all know that exact feeling. That first 5 seconds of a song that comes on a radio and takes you to a place you remember it so vividly ­ the thought that something we have done might have that same impact on someone else, I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.

Cherri: Ya and as a band where does that responsibility fall for you guys? Do you write for their experience or are you writing your own recall?

Andrew: If you've written something from deep inside you and but that's what touches them as well. That kind of genuine comes out and the listener hears and is attracted to you from the heart. It's for you to them.

Mario: Rock and roll should be called Feel­a­Roll ­ emoti­roll!

Cherri: it's about things you can't express or you don't want to or you're told not to express ­ but you HAVE to; you can't help it. I like that Dark Avenue is coming from a place like this ­ I like y'alls answers ­ I think a lot of times how and why and what reasons about why songs are written ­ are lost and they're more about the lifestyle or what they can get ­ I may be wrong, because I don't know every band on the planet but I think that’s the beauty of music and why it’s an art form for expression. Dark Avenue really hits that home and I know people will want to hear more from y’all. Thanks for spending your evening with me in the Grand Hotel and in the Grand Ballroom at that! Pretty cool ­ I had a blast!

We closed up the evening with some more discussion about influences and artists they admired. From Soundgarden to KISS, Slipknot to Stone Sour, Barry Manilow (truth) ­ and Chevelle, Sevendust, Avenged Sevenfold ­ how their songs translated to inspiring the band as individual players to perfect and perform their craft.

 

 

This band is ready. They want to share their music, passion, talent and more importantly; themselves with fans. It’s also worthy to note that the band has recorded Spanish versions of their songs. On Illusions, the fourth track “Una Vez Mas” displays the band’s ability to take rock to even further and capitalize a market that has been virtually untouched by American hard rock bands. Knowing that every song can be performed in Spanish (Mario’s native language) is an enormous benefit. The band’s crossover reach to one of the fastest growing segments in retail and entertainment makes them even more attractive. I know that fans everywhere are ready for Dark Avenue. Check out the band on social media with the links below and drop them a line.

Dark Avenue Social Media

Facebook ­ www.facebook.com/darkavenueband

Instagram ­ www.instagram.com/darkavenueband

Twitter ­ www.twitter.com/darkavenueband @darkavenueband

www ­ www.darkavenueband.com

Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/darkavenue

Google+ ­ Dark Avenue Band

 

 

 

Cherri Bird is an independent writer/wordsmith based in Dallas, Texas specializing in talking with and telling the stories of artists from around the US & abroad. Please contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for scheduling requests. Attached pictures ­ ©2016 ­ Cherri Bird. Please email to use or post any pictures on any type of medium.