Monthly Archives: October 2014

Interview with Like A Storm’s Matt Brooks – National Bullying Prevention Month

Matt Brooks - Like A Storm

Can you talk a little bit about the bullying incidents that you had in high school in New Zealand?

It’s funny, you and I were talking after our show at The Paramount about bullying, and “Love The Way You Hate Me,” (which is a song about having the strength to be yourself and embrace the things that make you unique).  It got me to thinking about something that happened in high school that I haven’t thought about for a long time.

I went to the same school from the time that I was in Kindergarten right up until my high school graduation.  I started high school in 9th grade, and I was basically with the same group of people that I had been in school with my entire life.

I had the same group of friends for a long time, and then when I got to 9th grade, all of these new kids came along, and the school reshuffled everyone into classes based on how well we had done in school.  In hindsight, it wasn’t a great idea because it set people up to be picked on.

 

It’s easy to see how that could happen when they make it so easy to target people…

You know, we all grew up together in the same classes, and then all of a sudden, we were slotted into classes based solely on how well we did on tests and stuff.

I remember at the start of 9th grade being given a real hard time, both by people that I’d known my whole life, and then by all of these new people who had come into the school.  It was the first time that people started to criticize other peoples’ differences.

 

I’m surprised that it took so long for that to happen.  Usually, it starts at an even younger age…

I was never really aware of that growing up.  It was like the first day of high school was the first day of this new universe where everyone’s differences were under the microscope.

I was never the most athletic guy (and I’m still not), so it wasn’t like I was going to go out there and be the star of the rugby team.  All of a sudden, I was in class with the other kids who did really well in school, and that didn’t make me very popular.

It was only when I started playing in bands (as a drummer), that people started to understand that just because you do well in school, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you.  And if you’re not the most athletic, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

 

It sounds like music helped you to somewhat shed the “geek” label that you were being given…

Definitely!  I just loved music so much. Once I started playing in bands, I became friends with some of the people who initially were giving me a hard time.  Being different and not quite fitting into any mold that people expected, ended up becoming a positive thing in my later years of high school.

 

I guess people start to mature as they go through high school, but it seems like 9th grade was no picnic…

I still remember what a shock it was to be written off by people that I’d known my whole life because the school placed me into a different level of classes.

 

It sounds like the school created a kind of class warfare with their system…

Yeah, it was.  In hindsight, it was a terrible system.  Nobody wants to be labeled as a “geek” when they are 13-yrs old, but it came with the territory when you were put into the advanced classes.  And, the system also seemed pretty insensitive to the kids who were separated out because they may have been having a hard time in school.

I’m not surprised that there were issues at school.  I remember that being something that I hadn’t expected.  It took me a while to wrap my head around it because I was the same person that I always was, but I was being treated differently by the people that I hung out with the year before.

 

When you were bullied in school, was it physical or just verbal?

It wasn’t really physical, mostly verbal, although there was a guy in my class who always wanted to fight me for some reason.  I’d never done anything to him, and we’d never had any sort of altercation.

For the whole year, he thought that he was going to fight me, but I never made too much of it because I never thought that it was going to happen.

 

It must have been strange for you to be dealing with the abuse, given that you never had any issues until you got to high school…

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think for a second that I was the only one being given a hard time in high school.  It’s just that up until then, I felt like everyone had got on pretty well.

For me, there was a gap between the start of high school and the time that I started playing in bands and doing shows.  During that time, people didn’t really know quite where I fit in.  I was doing well in school, so I guess that made me a geek, especially since I wasn’t athletic at all.  I was terrible at every sport that I played, so I was always convinced that I was the most uncoordinated person on earth.

The turning point in my life came when I started playing drums.  I can’t overstate the importance of music in my life because it gave me a sense of belonging.  It also made me realize that I could do something physical (even if it wasn’t sports).

 

I think that it takes more coordination to play drums than it does to play a lot of sports…

Yeah, and it came pretty naturally for me.  Being able to play the drums definitely gave me self-confidence in addition to a sense of belonging.

Once I started to gain self-confidence, it mattered less what other people thought about me.  I think that people started to see that not everyone was either a geek or a jock, that there was something in between.

 

Was music an escape for you during the times when you were being picked on?

Yeah, absolutely!  Music has always been an escape for me from the time that I started really getting into it when I was about 13.  It’s basically become all-consuming.  I think that it gave me a great sense of confidence and self-worth.  It’s also just a great way to express how you’re feeling.

It’s no secret that a lot of creative people don’t necessarily have a feeling that they belong.  I think that’s one of the great things about music, and one of the things that it’s certainly given me is a way to express myself in a constructive way.

 

Do you think that playing drums gave you a sort of cool factor and helped you to shed the “geek” label?

I guess it did, but more than that, I just felt that I was where I belonged.  My friends and I would spend all weekend listening to records, going to concerts and jamming.  Playing in bands helped me to find my place amidst the major social reshuffling that was going on when I got to high school.

 

Did you end up becoming friendly with the kids in your class who also had good grades, and maybe weren’t too athletic? 

Yeah, I did, and that was one of the positives of the reshuffling that took place.  Maybe the only positive of being sort of categorized, was that I did get to spend time getting to know people that maybe I wouldn’t have before.  Not that I would have picked on them, I just wouldn’t have gotten to know them.

 

Because they weren’t in your circle of friends, right?

Exactly! You would get to know people on a much deeper level than just seeing them outside on the playground or whatever.  It certainly gave me a lot more empathy for the kids who had been getting a hard time throughout our school years after being on the receiving end of it.

 

Things obviously got better for you because of music.  Did your friends get hassled less by associating with you?

One of the things that I think was cool about our high school is that, as time went on, those cliques and those categories kind of crumbled away and people were much more accepting of one another.  That was a huge positive.

It’s kind of like the start of high school was like the movie “Mean Girls,” or something similar, but by the end of it, people were much cooler to each other.  I think that it became obvious that you can’t just tag someone with one of two labels and expect them to really fit.

 

Your brothers went through school before you.  Did they have any issues with bullying during their high school years?

I think that we all kind of had the same thing.  There’s a weird irony in school.  The things that people value about us now (being musicians, being creative, being a bit different and not really fitting into the mold), are the things that people made fun of back then.

I know that Kent and Chris had similar issues, and so did a lot of my musician friends.  I suppose that when you’re in those dog-eat-dog formative years, there’s not always a lot of tolerance for people who are outside the mainstream.

One of the things about being a creative person is that you don’t necessarily fit in (or want to for that matter).  That can definitely create some tension with people who have an idea of what they think you should be.

 

That’s something that I spoke about with Andy from Black Veil Brides.  We talked about embracing your individuality and not trying to conform to what everyone else wants you to be. 

That’s exactly right!  You know, I always thought that one of the craziest things about the group mentality is that the group is made up of individuals, and every single person in the group is just hoping like hell that no one else finds out that they’re different.  It reminds me of the saying that goes “a person is smart, but people are stupid.”

I always thought that it was strange in high school that groups of kids picked on other kids for being a little bit different, because every kid in the group was a little bit different in their own way.

I think that part of why people pick on others to start with is because they’re just glad that it’s not being done to them.

 

We’ve discussed that “Love The Way You Hate Me” isn’t about childhood bullying, but the song was inspired by a different type of bullying, right?

Yeah, the song was inspired by a specific event.  It was something that we’d been feeling for a while because, unfortunately, there are a lot of haters out there.

I think that the second that you stick your head above the trenches, someone is going to take a shot at you.  That’s certainly how it’s been for us.  You make fans when you start releasing music, which is amazing, but there are people out there who will criticize you just for the sake of doing it.

 

I believe the word for them is trolls, at least when it comes to the Internet!

Exactly!  Although “Love The Way You Hate Me” was actually inspired by something that happened face-to-face.

We had an incident when we were on tour down in the south.  Now, we have a lot of fans and friends in the south, so this is certainly not a criticism of the south as a whole.  We were at a truck stop in a really small town.  It was the kind of place that when you walk through the door, the record player stops.  That is literally what happened.  It was like they had never seen anyone that looked like us in their lives.

This guy came up to Kent, who is a pretty tall guy with black and red spikey hair, and called him a “freak” to his face, and then just walked off.  We were kind of stunned initially, because we had never come across anyone like that before.

It got us thinking about how we’ve felt for a while.  There are people who will cut you down no matter what you do, so you’re much better off being who you are, and doing what you want to do, because you’re not going to please those people anyway.  They’re going to give you a hard time no matter what.

“Love The Way You Hate Me” actually started as a song that Kent had, but when we start working on it together, it became a group thing.  The three of us were just talking about the feeling of people criticizing you for being exactly who you are, and we came up with the line “you say I’m a freak, I say I am free.” 

 

I love that line!

Thanks man! To us, that was really what we had been talking about.  Someone who hates you is going to go after the things that make you the most unique.  Those are the things that define you and make you an individual.  That was really the central idea of the song.

 

I’m kind of glad that some idiot called Kent a “freak” because a great song came out of it, and it kind of helped launch your career.

Well thank you, dude!  You know, I wouldn’t change any of it now.  It’s funny because once you really don’t care about what the haters think, it’s actually pretty entertaining (especially the online trolls).  There’s nothing more empowering than looking at what someone wrote (which is supposed to ruin your life) and just laughing at it.

 

It’s happened to me a number of times.  I even showed the comments to my kids, and they asked me why I wasn’t writing back. I told them that if you fight back, you’re giving the trolls exactly what they want, but if you ignore them, it makes them angry because they didn’t get to you.

Exactly!  The Internet has given a soapbox to a lot of angry people.  You definitely can’t please everybody, and if you tried to please those people, they wouldn’t like you anyway.  The best thing to do is to be true to yourself, and ignore the noise.

 

So true!  I almost feel that the person that criticized Kent to his face deserves some credit, because at least he had the balls to not hide behind a computer screen.  It’s easy to be confrontational online, not so much when you’re in front of the person…

Absolutely! (LOL)  The person who said that to Kent should actually get some sort of award.  I guess to those people, we must have looked like we came from Mars.  We have these weird accents and play in a rock and roll band.  It was probably like something from the “X-Files” for those people.

I have to say that being in a band is just fascinating in the way that people react to you.  You see the absolute best and the worst of humanity.  People are so nice and generous and come and support you and tell you what your music means to them.  On the flip side, a very small percentage of people feel like they have the right to say the most insulting and inappropriate things to you.

 

You and your brothers are living proof that things get better when you believe in yourself and ignore the ignorant people that you come across in life.  Thanks for sharing your story, Matt.  I’m sure that it will help others who find themselves in trying situations.

Taking The Paramount by “Storm” – Like A Storm Concert Review

Like A Storm at The Paramount - 10-12-14

Seeing five bands perform over Columbus Day weekend definitely made for a “Rocktober” to remember.  The weekend began with the comically retro Steel Panther opening for the true gods of metal, Judas Priest.  After a lot of driving, which included taking a ferry across state lines, the long-awaited opportunity to see Alter Bridge had finally arrived.  California Breed (Glenn Hughes’ latest project) was featured as Alter Bridge’s opening act, but the band that made the biggest impression of all, was relative newcomers onto the hard rock music scene, Like A Storm.

When the brothers from New Zealand took the stage at The Paramount on Long Island, the room was less than half full, but those crowded towards the front were definitely there for Like A Storm.  It’s safe to say that there isn’t another band around that can begin a show with an audience adrenalized by the sound of a didgeridoo, but the crowd was pumped as the band broke into “The End Of The Beginning.”

The advantage to having a band of brothers, is a unique chemistry that exists both personally and vocally.  Both were noticeable as the band rocked the growing crowd with “Chemical Infatuation,” a song that showcased some kickass vocal harmonies.

Addressing the crowd (which was increasing with each song) after the energetic, melodic rocker “Never Surrender,” it was revealed that Kent Brooks (bass) was celebrating his birthday.  After the announcement about Kent’s birthday, the band launched into “Just Save Me,” followed by the birthday boy’s favorite song to play, “Gangster’s Paradise” (an incredible cover of the song made famous by Coolio in the 90s).

Chris (lead vocals) and Matt (lead guitar) worked the crowd like headliners before kicking into “Enemy,” an anthemic rocker that had the crowd pumping their fists in unison.  With the room electrified, the band launched into their latest single, “Wish You Hell” (see Hard Rock Daddy review), before closing out the show with their juggernaut first single, “Love The Way You Hate Me.”

The only disappointment with Like A Storm’s performance is that it was too short!  While the band still has to pay their dues (for the time being) as an opening act, it won’t be long before they are headlining rooms like The Paramount.

Although their set was shorter than the crowd would have liked, there was still plenty of time left to enjoy Like A Storm.  Shortly after leaving the stage (well before 8:00pm), the band appeared at the merch table to meet and greet any and all comers, taking pictures with anyone who asked, and signing autographs on the free posters that they were giving away.

Being that it was Kent’s birthday, the band certainly could have signed a few autographs and then left to go celebrate, but they stayed until 12:30am talking to their fans.  They literally stayed as long as possible, leaving only after The Paramount staff asked everyone to exit the building.

On a “Rocktober” weekend that included live performances by Judas Priest, Alter Bridge, Steel Panther and California Breed, Like A Storm is the band that left the most lasting impression for their ability to connect with the fans, both on and off the stage!

Interview with DJ Ashba (Guns ‘N Roses, Sixx:A.M.) – National Bullying Prevention Month

DJ Ashba

Can you talk about your childhood bullying experience?

It’s kind of hard to talk about.  I grew up in a very religious family where my dad was kind of against the church.  In one ear he’d be telling me that the church is all about brainwashing, and in the other ear, my mom was saying that it’s the only way to heaven.  It was a real push and pull situation that I grew up in.

My dad definitely had anger issues.  I remember falling down the steps as a little kid around Christmas time, and I started crying at the bottom of the stairs.  My dad got off of the couch, picked me up, and said…

“Real men don’t cry.  If you want to be a little baby, I’ll give you something to cry about.” 

And then he just beat the shit out of me!

In those situations, I found a safe spot underneath the stairs in my house where I would draw all kinds of demonic pictures.  I’m sure that they’re still there to this day.

 

I guess you needed something to cling to in a terrible situation…

I was so angry!  When you can’t turn to your dad for guidance, who do you turn to?  The craziest part was that, in my head, I still made him out to be my hero.

Everything that I was doing wasn’t good enough for his approval, so it made me try harder to become the person that I thought he wanted me to be.  It was a very confusing time.

My dad was very sadistic, and kind of felt power in bullying me for whatever reason.  It made it really tough, because I think that he always saw me as kind of a card that he could play against my mom.

 

That must have been very tough on you and your mom…

Looking back now, I know that my mom truly loved me, and was trying to protect me.

I remember one time when they were fighting.  My dad had one of my arms as he tried to pull me out the front door while screaming at my mom.  She was pulling my other arm trying to stop him.  Basically, in his eyes, I was probably nothing more than a piece of jewelry that he was trying to take back from my mom. It was a very hard situation.

 

I can only imagine.  Did you gravitate towards your mom and away from your dad?

Despite everything that my dad did to me, I would still sit by the living room window every night waiting for him to come home from the grocery store where he was a butcher.

Every time that he came home, I would try and impress him, and get in good with him, because it was the only way that I figured he would stop being mean to me.

 

Did you have any place where you felt safe when your dad was around?

I would literally sit in the back of a closet as I listened to him scream.  One time, he put his fist through the door of the closet.  It was very scary!

 

No kid should have to live in the fear that you lived in.  Did that go on throughout your whole childhood?

One night, I fell asleep by the window waiting for my dad to come home.  When I woke up the next morning, he had never shown up, and I couldn’t understand why.  It was one of those things where I was really confused, and I kind of took it out on my mom for some reason, because I had no idea where he went.

 

How long was he gone?

He was literally gone a year or two before I even heard from him (or of him).  I came to find out that he was married to somebody else who lived around two blocks from my house.  It was just a weird situation, and I kind of took it out on my mom, so I didn’t have anybody in my life.

 

Did you speak to your dad after you discovered that he was living nearby?

I would very rarely go visit him, but eventually, I actually ended up moving into his house when I was in junior high because I was mad at my mom, and I took things out on her.  I lived with him for around a year until I realized that I couldn’t stay there.

I was a little older then and I understood things better.  When I told him that I wanted to move back home with my mom, he just lost his mind and smashed my dressers.

 

It sounds like your childhood was not only difficult, but also very lonely…

I hated the town that I grew up in, because I felt like I didn’t fit in.  It was a very small, country town, you know, very religious.  You’re either a Christian, a farmer or both.  I was born into a world where we had no TVs in the house.

 

How long did you stay at home?

I moved out when I was 16, and I’ve been on my own ever since.  I moved out to L.A. right before my 21st birthday.  When I got there, I spent my first Christmas by myself because I didn’t know anyone.

 

It’s understandable why you wanted to break away from your torment…

I’m not trying to paint my dad out to be this monster.  He’s older now, and we’ve never really talked about all this stuff.  It’s one of those things where maybe we’ll talk one day and maybe we won’t.  I’ve forgiven him.  I don’t look at him as a bad person.

He was young when he had me, and nobody hands you a book on how to be a good parent.  By no means am I making excuses for him, because hitting a child is not right, but back then, I think that it was a lot more accepted (at least where I grew up).  That’s all that I knew.  I just figured “ok, I fucked up and this is my punishment.”

I’ve had everything broken over me, from broom handles to wooden spoons.  I’ve even had perfect handprint welts on me that lasted for a solid week.

 

It’s tragic that you blamed yourself for the abuse that you were receiving…

To me that was normal.  I didn’t know what was going on in other households.  In my mind, I still thought that was the way that everybody was raised.  I’m finding out now that it wasn’t.

 

Can you talk about how you got started with Bullyville and what your relationship is with them now?

I was the spokesperson for a moment, but I’m no longer a part of Bullyville.  But I think that it’s a great thing, and James McGibney has his heart in the right place.

 

What was your family’s reaction when you shared your story on Bullyville?

It upset everybody in my family because they all knew, but nobody talked about it.  I’m not trying to air the family laundry at all.  I’m doing it more because of what I’ve had to go through, and if I can help one kid out there, then it was worth it.

When James approached me and asked me about it, I just felt like it was time to get my story out there.  I really struggled with it because I don’t want anybody to look at my dad in a negative light.  That wasn’t my purpose at all.  My purpose was to share my personal story in the hopes that it would help people.

 

Are you a part of any other anti-bullying movements?

I’m always looking to partner up with different bullying things because it’s just so important to me to help as many kids as I can by sharing my experiences.  Hopefully, that will help inspire and help people.

 

Was your school life any better than your home life, or were you bullied there too?

I was a loner.  I got into fights in school and was bullied, especially when I moved to Indiana.  I saw kids there who were terrible bullies.  One kid lit another kid on fire, and then kicked him while he was on the ground.

 

That’s insane!  My only dealings with bullying when I was in school was of the more traditional kind, where I feared getting beaten up.  I remember the terror that I felt, and it was just one or two incidents when I was young.  Nowadays, as a parent, I live in constant fear of the carnage that comes as the result of bullying.

I know what you mean.  When I grew up, school generally wasn’t a place that you feared.  Even if there were fights, it was still a safe place.  You didn’t fear for your life going to school.

The thing about bullying is that it’s always been there and it’s always been bad.  It’s just the fact that we have the Internet now, and so many eyes are watching that society has become more aware of it.

I think that the only thing that’s worse is that social media has turned it into a 24/7 problem.

 

What advice would you give to any kids who find themselves in a similar situation as yours?

There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Getting abused by adults is not normal, and if any kids out there are experiencing it, they need to let someone know.  It’s just not right. Nobody will ever know what it does mentally to someone.  To this day, it still fucks with my head.

 

Did things with your dad ever get any better since you’re an adult?

We’ve kind of made amends.  We never will be close because I grew up without him, but I don’t hate him.  I forgive him for everything.

At the end of the day you just have to be the bigger person.  The only thing that I can do, the way that I can beat this is not have a kid too soon, and understand everything before I pass that along.  The only way that I can try to help fix the world is to do things differently.  If I have a kid, I’m going to give it the loving, caring life that I never had.

 

The best thing to do is to break the cycle.  This shouldn’t be passed from one generation to the next.

Yeah, absolutely.  Because I wasn’t around yet, I don’t know how my grandparents were to my dad.  I do know that you don’t just wake up one day as an asshole.  I think that if you look back, it probably trickled down, and that he got it from somewhere.  The only thing that I can do is learn from his mistakes and not pass it along to my kids.  Like you said, the best thing that can be done is to break the cycle.

 

It reminds me of the whole Adrian Peterson situation.  Maybe he was physically disciplined in a very harsh way, but that doesn’t mean that he had to do the same thing to his children.  I mean, he is a very strong NFL player, and yet, he was beating his 4-yr old with a tree branch.  I imagine that hit very close to home for you…

Yeah, I see that as so wrong now, but only because I took the time to really try to fix myself (which didn’t happen overnight).  I’ve even tried to put myself in my dad’s shoes to understand his side.  Like I said earlier, he was young, and there is no handbook that teaches you how to be a great parent.  I’m sure he didn’t set out thinking…“hey, I’m going to be a fuckin’ asshole and hit my kid.”

If I hadn’t taken the time to fix myself, I’d probably do the same thing if I had a kid, because I wouldn’t know any different.  If he grew up anything like me, and didn’t take the time to fix himself, I truly believe he might not know that what he did was wrong.

 

It’s good to see that a change has happened with our generation (Adrian Peterson aside)…

I almost think that it was worse growing up in some ways back then because it was more acceptable in certain places in the country to literally beat your kids with a belt.  That was considered punishment, and nobody really did anything about it.

 

Sixx: A.M. has a lot of message-driven songs, but were any inspired directly by bullying?

You know, we kind of just put a lot of our emotions into everything that we do.  For instance, on our first album (The Heroin Diaries), I put myself emotionally into those songs by tapping into the physical abuse that I’ve been through.  Even though it wasn’t heroin abuse, for a while, the physical abuse did lead to a really bad cocaine problem.  I was able to plug myself into that story in my own way.

 

Do you have any memorable stories that kids have shared with you because of your anti-bullying involvement?

There were a ton of comments on my story on Bullyville.  The part that’s so moving is how many people the story touched.  I couldn’t have dreamt that so many people would feel connected to it.  There were thousands of comments and e-mails from people who were going through similar situations.

 

It must have felt good to know that sharing such a deeply personal and painful story was not done in vain. 

It was very touching to know that one person really can make a difference. And if we all stand up and speak our minds, this world will slowly become a better world to live in.

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums – 11/8/14

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums

Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart for the week ending 11/8/14.  Top 15 albums ranked by sales data and compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. ***Click on the hyperlinked titles to read full album reviews***

THIS WEEK’S TOP 15:

    1. SLIPKNOT – 5: The Gray Chapter
    2. SCOTT WALKER + SUNN O))) – Soused
    3. AMARANTHE – Massive Addictive
    4. GODSMACK – 1000hp
    5. EXODUS -Blood In Blood Out
    6. SIXX: A.M. – Modern Vintage
    7. LINKIN PARK – The Hunting Party
    8. SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORSWorld On Fire
    9. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1
    10. OZZY OSBOURNE – Memoirs Of A Madman
    11. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 2
    12. AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Hail To The King
    13. ALICE COOPER – Raise The Dead: Live From Wacken
    14. FIT FOR A KING – Slave To Nothing
    15. THE ACACIA STRAIN – Coma Witch

RELATED ARTICLES:

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – “World On Fire”: Hard Rock Daddy Album Review

Five Finger Death Punch (Featuring Rob Halford) – “Lift Me Up”: Hard Rock Daddy Review

Five Finger Death Punch – “Battle Born”: Hard Rock Daddy Review

Five Finger Death Punch – “House Of The Rising Sun”: Hard Rock Daddy Video Review

Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail To The King”: Hard RockDaddy Album Review

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2013

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums Archives

Interview with Jeff Scott Soto of Artists United Against Bullying – National Bullying Prevention Month

Jeff Scott Soto

What was the inspiration for creating Artists United Against Bullying?

The whole thing really started with one of our main guys, Paulo Mendonca.  He’s got a young son who was being bullied at school.  He and I happened to be talking on a day that he was fuming mad about the situation.  He said to me…

“Man, I’m so angry.  I just don’t tolerate this stuff, and I want to do something about it to help raise awareness about bullying.”

Even though there are a lot of things being done to raise bullying awareness, he wanted to create his own personal message to deliver through music.

I was on board with him right away.  He got the guys from In Flames, and some friends from Sweden involved as well.  The only drag for me is that they get to do everything together in Sweden, and I get stuff after the fact being in L.A.

 

Since bullying is such a widespread problem, I think that there is always room for anyone (particularly artists) to get involved with doing their part to raise awareness.

One of the reasons that it was an immediate “yes” for me to be involved in this thing with Paulo and the guys, is that everybody in one sense or another has been bullied when they were kids.

There are so many different levels of bullying.  Bullying in life goes beyond kids being teased in school, although the majority of it starts there.  You get people who just carry it through their lives into adulthood.  I have even had instances of bullying in the music business from former bandmates (who I’ll leave nameless).

 

How did you get involved with Paulo initially?

I was a big fan of his music.  No one really knows him in the U.S., and even in Europe, only a small core of people know him.  He was an artist in the early 90s who was successful in pockets of Europe. He started to sour on the performing side of the business, and ended up just writing and producing for a number of years.

I was such a fan that I sought after him to record with him.  He is the one who produced my solo album, Beautiful Mess, in 2008.  Thankfully, he got the bug again and decided that he wanted to start recording music.

 

Have you recorded any anti-bullying songs yet?

The first song that we came up with is a song called “Hero,” which hasn’t been released yet.  I wrote the lyrics as if I were writing it to my own son, but it is meant to be a message to Paulo’s son.

The message of the song is that, as your parent, I don’t want to be your hero; I just want to be the one that sets you on the right path and makes sure that you know what’s going on in the world.  Instead of me always being there to protect you, I want to show you that you can actually stand up for yourself.

 

That’s a really interesting take on being a “hero,” and also about being empowered to stand up for yourself in difficult situations.

You know, there’s so many ways that I could have gone with the whole “hero” side of things, but those types have songs have been done already.  I wanted to put a different angle on it.

NOTE:  “Hero” will make its debut on Hard Rock Daddy when it is completed!

 

One of the things that I’m finding interesting about this awareness campaign is that as Americans, we tend to think of bullying as an American problem, but clearly, it’s a worldwide problem. 

A lot of people get into music around the world because they have been bullied, and it’s a way to express themselves.  They have dealt with some sort of oppression in their lives, from people in school to people at work, and even their own families at times.

They end up taking their painful experiences and putting it into their music.  One of the reasons that we have such amazing music is because there are a lot of tortured artists out there who are able to share their pain and connect with others who are going through the same things themselves.

 

I couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to hard rock because it’s a way to get out your aggression, at least it was for me when I was growing up.  I think that it’s much tougher today for kids in a lot of ways.

There are so many extremes now.  We used to worry about different things when we were kids. I’m going to be 49 next week, and things have changed so much since I was a kid with regard to what is safe and what isn’t.  It’s a great world, but it’s so much more dangerous than it was when I was growing up.

 

Did you have any personal bullying experiences that inspired you to join Paulo in launching this project?

Absolutely!  Being a gawky kid, I dealt with bullying growing up.  Luckily, my height surpassed what I was supposed to be for my age bracket, and that helped the bullying stop.  Obviously, they weren’t going to physically pick on the bigger kid.  However, there was another sense of bullying because I was a bit nerdy.  I wasn’t confident with my looks, and didn’t know what do to them, so I would get teased.

 

Did you have any physical bullying experiences?

I remember getting into a fight in summer camp when I was around 8-yrs old.  I’m not a violent person, but this kid just kept teasing and teasing and teasing, and my older brother said that you’ve got to stand up for yourself.  He told me that he couldn’t always be there to fight my battles.

This kid taunted me enough that I put him in a headlock and just held him there while I was banging on the counselor’s door to come and break us up, because I knew that if I let him go, he was going to beat my ass!  I knew that I had to shut him down; otherwise, he was just going to keep taunting me.

 

I guess you sometimes you have to resort to physically standing up for yourself, even if it’s not in your nature.

Violence isn’t the best way to get through the teasing and the bullying.  You can fight your “war” with words if you can find the right words to say to shut them down.  It can actually work more effectively than punching their lights out, but you also have to be careful, because shutting them down verbally can make them more aggressive and then they’ll come after you.

 

Have your kids dealt with bullying? 

My son is 26-yrs old now, but he did go through some things when he was in school.  However, he had such a strong personality that he was able to curb it pretty much immediately.

He was kind of the cool kid, who went through a phase himself where he was verbally bullying another kid by telling him that he looked “gay” in what he was wearing.  I had to sit him down and tell him that it’s not ok to use that word in that context.  I told him that we had the same issues when someone was doing it to him, so he shouldn’t turn around and do it to someone else.  He ended up apologizing to the kid and using his influence to stop others from doing the same.

Nowadays, I’m dealing with my wife’s kids who are still in school, and luckily, they haven’t had to deal with anything like this yet.  We have talks with them all the time telling them that if any bullying happens, that they have to tell us.  It’s not that we’re going to step in, but we’ll be there to help them know how to deal with it.

 

I think that is one of the keys to dealing with bullying.  Not to excuse the kids that do it in any way whatsoever, but parenting is a key to making sure that your kids behave properly.  If parents stepped in more, we would have a better chance of solving this problem instead of relying on the schools, who are already overwhelmed. 

 

Can you talk about the mission of Artists United Against Bullying?

Well, it’s still in the embryonic stages.  So far, it’s just been about coming up with the idea for the song and working on it together.  We’re still at the early stages of how involved everyone will be, and how far we’ll be able to take it.

We decided to start with what we do best, which was to record a song.  If we like where it’s going, we’ll do more songs, and maybe even eventually record an entire album.  Ultimately, this is more than a band; it’s a cause.  If we do get funding, it will all go towards the cause.

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your story, Jeff.  I’m really looking forward to the debut of “Hero” and seeing all of the good that I think you will do with Artists United Against Bullying!

Interview with Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack – National Bullying Prevention Month

Andy Biersack Black Veil Brides

Can you talk a little bit about the bullying that you experienced as a kid and how you handled it?

When I was growing up in school, I wasn’t the archetype of the classic American nerd; I was just different.  I had a certain kind of disassociation from the other kids because I had more interest in sociology, ideas and trying to communicate those ideas to the kids around me.  It wasn’t that I thought that I was better than them; I just didn’t associate with them in any way.

Because of the kind of music that I liked, and the different way that I dressed, it was kind of a perfect storm, creating a situation where I existed on my own throughout my schooling.  And the times when I wasn’t on my own, I faced some sort of derision from someone around me.  This was due either to the way that I dressed, or because I was a little bit overweight when I was a kid, so I would get made fun of for being chubby.

 

Wow, that’s shocking!  I never would have guessed that you would have been overweight.

I fluctuated in weight all through my adolescence.  From 4th grade to 7th grade, I was overweight, and the kids would say that I looked like Chunk from The Goonies.  They would always ask me to do the “Truffle Shuffle.”

It was a great cause of pain for me, and because of that, I didn’t really get the chance to talk to girls. I was a straight boy with hormones kicking in, and I wanted to talk to girls, but they weren’t interested in talking back to me, so there was a real sense of loneliness.

 

Did you end up resenting the girls for ignoring you?

Pretty early on, I just started to believe that they didn’t understand me.  There was something intrinsic to me that they just didn’t get, which was ok.  It didn’t make me hate them though.

It’s interesting that you had the awareness at such a young age of having something to offer that others just didn’t get it. 

 

There have been a number of artists who have written songs about bullying, but your songs seem to be more about empowerment.  Do you find that your songs have been especially helpful to your fans that are being bullied or feel like outcasts?

Absolutely!  I think that it’s important to note that you touched on how a lot of artists are writing songs about bullying.  That is something that causes great concern for me.

I feel that there is a culture being built that is a celebration of agony.  There is also a celebration of being an outcast, to the degree that you are segregating yourself in a negative way from people who may want to be your friend.  I never advocate that you should be lonely, or come to my shows and bring me your razor blade to show me that you don’t cut anymore.

 

So, what is your advice to your fans?

I would advocate that you show me your smiling face, and how happy you can make your life.  I know that isn’t always easy and that there is self-harm in the world.  Sometimes it’s hard for people to rise above things.

 

Last year, you guys did a special shirt for the song “Unbroken,” and donated all the proceeds to The Bully Project.  How did you get involved with The Bully Project, and how much did you end up raising for them?

I’m not entirely sure about the actual amount that we raised off the top of my head, but I know that it was quite a bit, and we were very happy to do it.

What happened was, one of the kids in the bully documentary had expressed interest in our band, and it was really touching.  His parents reached out to our management about autographs and stuff, and I thought that it was a logical thing to try and get involved with their whole project.

It was beneficial for us because it showed that we wanted to get involved with a good cause and beneficial for them because we raised a lot of money for the organization.

 

The powerful video that you made for the song had all of your fans wearing the shirts.  Were you able to include everyone, or were there just too many submissions?

I wish that we could have included everyone.  We tried our best, but there’s only so much time in the song.  We were able to get a lot of fans in there though.

 

Can you share a story or two about a fan who credits your music for helping to get them through tough times?

It would be very hard to specify a particular story because we get them all of the time.  Unfortunately, the stories are often all too familiar.  I’ll hear the same tales from Dublin, Ireland that I hear in Louisville, KY.

More than anything, I think that there is a common thread that runs through everything.  We have been able to strike a chord with people who have their own sense of self, but were unable to access it.  Our music helped them to feel something positive.

A good example of this would be this kid in London.  He’s been covering our songs on YouTube from the time that he was around 12-yrs old.  It’s been a lot of fun to watch someone who was an awkward, kind of shy and introverted kid, end up in his own band with a record deal.

 

Can you talk about the inspiration and meaning behind “Heart Of Fire?”

“Heart Of Fire” is essentially the idea that time and circumstance changes how you see things.

We like to believe that when we’re young, and we have this idea that we want to fight for something, that it will be that way forever, when in reality, sometimes it will change.

It would be weird for me to be raging against all of the bullies in my life because it would be disingenuous at this point in time.  I’ve gotten through all of that and I’m living a wonderful life now, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t mean to me.  Every day, people say crappy things about my band or whatever, but I live a positive existence.  I got through everything by virtue of having that same passion that I’ve had through the years.

“Heart Of Fire” is about holding onto that fire or passion that you had when you were a kid, even though you may change as a person or your circumstances may change.  It’s saying that even though I’m more weathered and stronger now, that I still have that feeling of wanting to be that passionate individual that I’ve always been.

 

Thanks for taking the time to talk today, Andy.  You’ve given some great insight into how to rise above being bullied, finding your passion and living a happy life.  Best of luck with the new album.  I’m looking forward to reviewing it for Hard Rock Daddy and speaking to you again in the near future.

HRD Radio Report – Week Ending 10/26/14

HRD Radio Report Logo

HRD RADIO REPORT 

The HRD Radio Report showcases the weekly Active Rock Mediabase Charts (compiled by AllAccess.com), and appears every Tuesday on HardRockDaddy.com.  The HRD Radio Report digs deeper into the weekly Active Rock charts, providing commentary, reviews, recommendations and predictions.  It also features opinion pieces on chart action and the music business in general.  Whenever possible, the HRD Radio Report will feature insight from radio and record industry people, in addition to interviews with hard rock artists about their music, tours and more!

Many of the artists featured on the Active Rock charts have already been reviewed on HardRockDaddy.com.

Click on the hyperlinked song titles to read song reviews, and the hyperlinked artist names to read album reviews.

The following is the Active Rock Mediabase Chart for the week ending 10/26/14.  All exclusive HRD content is featured below the chart:

CHART POSITION THIS WEEK CHART POSITION LAST WEEK ARTIST SONG TITLE RADIO SPINS THIS WEEK
1 22 FOO FIGHTERS “Something From Nothing” 1581
2 1 NICKELBACK “Edge Of A Revolution” 1473
3 3 SLIPKNOT “The Devil In I” 1401
4 5 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH “Wrong Side Of Heaven” 1394
5 6 ROYAL BLOOD “Figure It Out” 1341
6 4 KORN “Hater” 1220
7 9 AC/DC “Play Ball” 1201
8 2 SLASH “World On Fire” 1078
9 12 SEETHER “Same Damn Life” 1058
10 11 VOLBEAT “Doc Holliday” 1009
11 14 THREE DAYS GRACE “I Am Machine” 875
12 7 PRETTY RECKLESS “Messed Up World” 867
13 15 GODSMACK “Something Different” 830
14 13 BLACK KEYS “Gotta Get Away” 813
15 10 WEEZER “Back To The Shack 778
16 17 BUSH “The Only Way Out” 730
17 19 POP EVIL “Beautiful” 715
18 16 HELLYEAH “Moth” 713
19 18 OTHERWISE “Darker Side Of The Moon” 677
20 23 IN THIS MOMENT “Sick Like Me” 594
21 20 ASKING ALEXANDRIA “Moving On” 573
22 25 NONPOINT “Breaking Skin” 543
23 21 DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 “Trainwreck 1979” 525
24 24 ISLANDER “Coconut Dracula” 493
25 29 NOTHING MORE “Mr. MTV” 434
26 27 KONGOS “I’m Only Joking” 410
27 26 GODSMACK “1000hp” 398
28 28 THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH “Born This Way” 386
29 32 YOUNG GUNS “I Want Out” 382
30 33 LIVE “Way Around Is Through” 338
31 31 RISE AGAINST “I Don’t Wanna Be Here” 312
32 42 LINKIN PARK “Rebellion” 302
33 35 FALL OUT BOY “Centuries” 292
34 34 MASTODON “The Motherload” 291
35 48 SIXX A.M. “Stars” 284
36 38 SHAMAN’S HARVEST “Dangerous” 276
37 36 FLYLEAF “Set Me On Fire” 274
38 37 MOTIONLESS IN WHITE “Reincarnate” 270
39 39 THEORY OF A DEADMAN “Savages” 247
40 41 ADELITA’S WAY “Save The World” 213
41 57 LENNY KRAVITZ “Dirty White Boots” 207
42 43 NEW MEDICINE “One Too Many” 190
43 45 3 YEARS HOLLOW “For Life” 168
44 53 CHEVELLE “An Island” 154
45 59 STARSET “Carnivore” 135
46 46 BLACK VEIL BRIDES “Heart Of Fire” 132
47 49 REV THEORY “Born 2 Destroy” 127
48 44 TRIVIUM “Villainy Thrives” 126
49 50 LETTERS FROM THE FIRE “Zombies In The Sun” 120
50 47 BLACK STONE CHERRY “Remember Me” 119

 

PUBLISHER’S PICK OF THE WEEK by Adam Waldman

LONGREEF – “Battle Plan”

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Inspired by the song “Battle Plan,” and discussions with members of Longreef, Hard Rock Daddy has been commemorating the month with stories from hard rock artists about their bullying experiences.  The campaign kicked off with a deep, personal interview with Longreef singer, Josh Barker, about the bullying that he experienced in his youth, and the creation of “Battle Plan.”  The song and video are both truly inspirational.

Choosing “Battle Plan” as the pick of the week goes beyond its radio potential.  It is about the impact that it can make on the lives of kids around the world who are being bullied, and feel that they have no place to turn.  Check out the interview with Josh Barker to get a better understanding of the importance of this song.

 

PUBLISHER’S OP-ED

A BIT CON-“FOOS”-ING, TO SAY THE LEAST

Having tracked the Active Rock radio charts since the launching of HRD Radio Report, one thing has become abundantly clear – the rise to the top is usually a gradual process.  However, over the past two weeks, it seems that Active Rock radio programmers have taken the new Foo Fighters song “Something From Nothing” as literal marching orders, rather than just the release of another new single.

Debuting at #22 last week and then rocketing all the way to #1 this week, you would think that Kurt Cobain rose from the dead to be a guest musician on “Something From Nothing.”  Short of the reincarnation of Cobain, the only other explanation is that Dave Grohl has threatened to go viral with compromising photos that he has of programmers across the country.

This is not to say that “Something From Nothing” is a bad song.  I like it well enough after a few listens, but this overreaction by Active Rock radio would seem to indicate that the song is going to replace “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most impactful song of Grohl’s career.  A bit con-“foos”-ing, to say the least.

 

THE BREAKDOWN by Jon Loveless

A meteoric rise trumps heavy-hitters and fast-movers create some stagnation in the middle of the chart. Just some of the things we’ll cover in this week’s HRD Radio Report.

 

CHART TOPPERS

Maybe Nickelback should write a song called “What Goes Up”.  Just as “Edge Of A Revolution” abruptly shot to the top of the Mediabase Active Rock airplay chart, and displaced what appeared to be a strong chart-topper from Slash, they find themselves bumped back to #2 by the remarkable explosion of Foo Fighters “Something From Nothing.”  Grohl & Co. tripled their spins from a strong week one debut, and ascended to the top of the format as fast as any song anyone seems to recall.  The jump keeps Slipknot stuck at #3 with “The Devil In I,” Five Finger Death Punch claims the #4 spot with “Wrong Side Of Heaven,”  while Royal Blood reaches the top five with “Figure It Out.”

 
 

 CHART HIGHLIGHTS

While Foo Fighters make most of the noise this week, AC/DC keeps steadily marching ahead, up 20% in airplay to climb from #9 to #7.  Seether reaches #9 with “Same Damn Life,” and  Volbeat (“Doc Holliday”) climbs back up to #10.

There’s only so many spins to go around, so the latest from Three Days Grace (“I Am Machine”) moves up from #14 to #11, but does it with very little actual growth in airplay.  Notable this week is the logjam I alluded to in the tease.  No song between #10 and #31 had triple-digit growth this week (i.e. gained less than 100 spins), meaning a lot of songs simply moved up or down 1-2 spots.

When so many of the additional spins are devoted to a single song as they were this week, everyone else sort of suffers.  Sixx A.M. did see solid growth for “Stars”  climbing from #48 to #35.  Linkin Park f. Daron Malakian also moved well, jumping from #42 to #32.   

Three new titles made their Top 50 debut this week: “Dirty White Boots” by Lenny Kravitz enters at #41, “An Island” by Chevelle pops in at #44 and Starset’s second single (“Carnivore”) premieres at #45 after getting airplay on a few stations as far back as June of this year.

 
 

RAPID RISERS AND FREEFALLERS

RAPID RISERS

Foo Fighters –  “Something From Nothing”, +21 spots, + 1,047 spins, +196% airplay
AC/DC  – “Play Ball” +200 spins, +20% airplay
Lenny Kravitz  – “Dirty White Boots” +16 spots, +109 spins, +111% airplay
Sixx A.M. –  “Stars” +13 spots, +145 spins, +104% airplay
Seether –  “Same Damn Life” +3 spots, +146 spins, +16% airplay
 
FREEFALLERS

Slash –  “World On Fire” -6 spots, -312 spins, -22% airplay
Pretty Reckless –  “Messed Up World” -5 spots, -313 spins, -27% airplay
Weezer –  “Back To The Shack” -5 spots, -196 spins, -20% airplay
Black Stone Cherry –  “Remember Me” -3 spots, -31 spins, -21% airplay
Godsmack  – “1000 HP” -1 spot, -49 spins, -11% airplay

 
 

INSTANT REPLAY

Here’s what I have on Instant Replay this week…

“Born This Way” – Thousand Foot Krutch

While the first single from Oxygen:Inhale seems to be topping out somewhere in the high twenties of the chart, this energetic track will be one that I remember as a highlight of late summer/early fall 2014.   With a message consistent with their beliefs deftly woven into an infectious song that’s just plain fun, the track is a winner that still has me turning it up every time that I hear it.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to think about being so cool in first grade that they “drank their juice with rocks in it”?

 
 

I CALL B#LL$HIT!

Turning crusty, white and ugly, the same old b.s. still lingers in the Active Rock barnyard.   Around 2,800 spins were utterly wasted this week on songs from Weezer, Black Keys, Death From Above 1979, Kongos and Fall Out Boy, none of which are remotely Active Rock in any rational sense of the word.  At least a couple of them are fine enough Alternative tracks, but please radio, with so much good Active Rock out there, stop shoving things that don’t belong down the throats of listeners who deserve better!

 
 

FUTURES REPORT

Which station will go to an “all-Foo, all-the-time” format first?  Will strong sales finally wake radio up to the potential strength of the first single from Black Veil Brides new album (“Heart Of Fire”)?  Will Charm City Devils latest single (“Shots”) finally get some traction at radio?  Will Gilligan finally make a move on Ginger?  And will Mary Ann be jealous?  These questions (and more) will be answered next week…

 
 

WRAP-UP

That’s all for this week!  Tune in to HardRockDaddy.com every Tuesday for the HRD Radio Report. \m/

Interview with Charm City Devils’ John Allen – National Bullying Prevention Month

John Allen Charm City Devils

Were you bullied when you were growing up?

Oh yeah.  I grew up in a blue collar area, and that was part of the way of life there.  I think that the older kids thought that it was their job to terrorize the younger kids, especially the ones who were undersized.  Even though I consider my childhood to be pretty idyllic for the most part, and I wasn’t bullied constantly, it definitely started happening during my pre-teen years as I was going into junior high school.

Being undersized, and not particularly athletic, it was hard to find a place where I fit in, so I was an easy target.  As the saying goes, “shit rolls downhill,” and I think that some of the people who were doing the bullying were bullied themselves.  I think that it would be great to stop the cycle of bullying.  Just because it happened to you, it doesn’t make it right to do it to others.  If we all lived by that type of logic, we would still be riding horses and taking wagons everywhere.

 

When you were bullied was it more verbal, physical or both?

Both, but I remember the physical more than the verbal.  One incident in particular comes to mind.  There was a kid who was much older than us sitting on the bleachers.  We weren’t sitting too far away from him, and out of nowhere, he picked up a rock and just winged it really hard right into my thigh.  I guess it was his way of telling us to get away from him.  He was a pitcher who threw very hard, so it was pretty painful.

 

Others musicians that I’ve spoken with about bullying have told me that they used music as an escape.  Do you feel that bullying helped drive you to playing music as an escape? 

I don’t think that it necessarily drove me to music because I loved it at a really early age.  It wasn’t an escape from bullying per se, because it didn’t happen constantly.  However, I think that our insecurities play a big part into playing music.  If I was completely well-adjusted, I wouldn’t want to get on stage and seek the adulation, acceptance and love from strangers that I do now.  I’m sure it played some part, but I don’t think that bullying consciously drove me to music.  That being said, I think that all experiences that you go through help shape you into who you are, and dealing with bullying was just part of it.

 

Have you heard from any fans about how your music helped them deal with bullying or other difficult situations?

We did a show back in July in Texas.  At the show, we met an undersized high school kid, with longer hair who was there with his dad. The kid is a drummer, so he spent a good amount of time talking to our drummer, Jason. Before he left, Jason gave him a drumstick to take home with him, and the kid left happy.  The next day, the kid’s dad sent us a letter on Facebook telling us about his son, and how much it meant to him to meet us.

It turns out that because of his size, his hair, the clothes that he wears (concert shirts) and the music that he likes (hard rock and metal), he is bullied in school.  His musical taste doesn’t fit in where he lives.  When I read the letter about how a lot of the kids pick on him, it broke my heart, because he was a really nice kid.

I had no idea that he was going through all of that when we met him.  As I read the letter in the van, I said to the guys in the band that I wished that there was more that we could do for him, but I’m glad that coming to our show and meeting us gave him a respite from all of the stuff that he’s going through.

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your story, John.  I’m sure that it will help others to see that you can rise above it and become a success in life.

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown – Week of 10-25-14

Octane Logo

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown for the week of 10-25-14.

The 10-25-14 Big ‘Uns Countdown playlist can also be found on www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived playlists dating back to 2013.  Links to reviews of songs from the countdown are featured at the bottom of the page.

#15 –  “Vultures Fly” – AVATAR

#14 –  “Feels Like Forever” – OF MICE & MEN

#13 –  “Mr. MTV” – NOTHING MORE

#12 –  “Moth” – HELLYEAH

#11 –  “Something Different” – GODSMACK

#10 –  “I Am Machine” – THREE DAYS GRACE

# 9 –   “Doc Holliday” – VOLBEAT

# 8 –   “Sick Like Me” – IN THIS MOMENT

# 7 –   “Same Damn Life” – SEETHER

# 6 –   “Darker Side Of The Moon” – OTHERWISE

# 5 –   “Hater” – KORN

# 4 –   “Breaking Skin” – NONPOINT

# 3 –   “Villainy Thrives” –  TRIVIUM

# 2 –    “Wrong Side Of Heaven” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

# 1 –    “The Devil In I” – SLIPKNOT

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Nonpoint – “Breaking Skin”: Hard Rock Daddy Review

Trivium – “Villainy Thrives”: Hard Rock Daddy Review

Nothing More – “Nothing More”: Hard Rock Daddy Album Review

Top 15 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs: January 2014 – June 2014

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Archives

Alter Bridge Rocks The Paramount on Final Leg of Fortress Tour

Photo by Adam Waldman © Hard Rock Daddy

Photo by Adam Waldman
© Hard Rock Daddy

After several dates performing around the world, and a sold-out spring tour in support of their critically acclaimed album, Fortress, Alter Bridge is finishing up a final U.S. headlining stint with a 13-city tour in October.  Although the band has been prominently featured on Hard Rock Daddy, this was the first time that I ever had the chance to see them perform live.  It was also my first opportunity to see a show at The Paramount, an incredible, 1500+ capacity venue on Long Island.

The night began with a brief (but highly entertaining and engaging) set from New Zealand rockers, Like A Storm, followed by Glenn Hughes’ California Breed, before Alter Bridge took the stage by storm.

From the first note, it was abundantly clear that Alter Bridge is a band that caters to their diehard, almost cult-like fanbase.  How else do you explain opening with “Addicted To Pain,” (the band’s biggest hit to date) instead of saving it to close the show?  While it was a surprising opener, it was also a very effective one, setting a powerful tone of in-your-face intensity that lasted throughout the 18-song set.

Even though Fortress is the heaviest album of Alter Bridge’s decade-long career, the band that most would classify as hard rock feels like a metal band in a live setting.  In fact, if Myles Kennedy was a screamer instead of a brilliant vocalist with superior range, Alter Bridge may very well be solely classified as a metal band.

Having seen Kennedy recently as the frontman of Slash’s band, it was interesting to see how different his dynamic was with Alter Bridge.  With Slash, Kennedy is front and center, but rarely picks up the guitar, whereas with Alter Bridge, Kennedy and Mark Tremonti team up to create a dual-guitar tour de force.  On the heavier songs, you notice Kennedy’s guitar playing more than his singing, but when the band pulls it back a bit, his incredible vocals definitely take center stage.

While all eyes are naturally drawn to Kennedy and Tremonti, Alter Bridge’s powerful rhythm section of Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) provide a rock solid foundation, allowing the duo to mesmerize the crowd with their dynamic virtuosity.

Throughout the evening, the Alter Bridge crowd proved to be anything but typical, with few (if any) casual fans in attendance.  Normally, when a singer turns the microphone to the audience, the energy in the room drops drastically.  However, with the Alter Bridge crowd singing in unison, it was like being in the midst of a “power choir” (a term that I’m pretty sure I just coined).

With most live performances by hard rock/metal artists, you can easily differentiate between the songs that the crowd came to hear and the ones where they go and get a beer.  Although I’m sure that there was no shortage of beers sold at The Paramount on the evening of the Alter Bridge show, there was no mass exodus to the bar at any point during the set, which was heavily loaded with songs from Fortress and the band’s 2007 release, Blackbird.

There is no telling what heights Alter Bridge could reach if they ever decided to dedicate their sole attention to the band, but they believe that they have found a formula that works best for them.  Based on the success of Fortress, and the tour in support of the album, it’s hard to argue with their way of thinking.

The good news for Alter Bridge fans is that they will be able to see the band members over the next few years with their respective side projects.  The bad news is, based on their previous release schedule, there probably won’t be another Alter Bridge album or tour until around 2017.  Let the countdown begin!