Music Discovery Monday – 11/9/15

Music Discovery Monday - Ugly Kid Joe

Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 11/9/15.

Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.

In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.

In a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive, Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane talks about the band’s latest single after a hiatus that lasted for nearly two decades, the connection to Godsmack, Alter Bridge and more!


 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

UGLY KID JOE – “She’s Already Gone”

After a hiatus that lasted for nearly two decades, Ugly Kid Joe is back, and they are “Uglier Than They Used Ta Be” (if you take their latest album title literally).  The band, known for their tongue-in-cheek songs, is not actually uglier, unless of course, you find evolution unseemly.  The former five-piece unit of young rockers has returned as a seasoned, “Seven-Headed Monster” with three guitarists and two drummers (including Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin) to deliver their most cohesive sounding record to date.  “She’s Already Gone” – the band’s latest single – starts off with a soft picking guitar intro before running you over like a freight train with a driving rhythm.  Frontman Whitfield Crane is at the top of his game; the passage of time has taken him to another level.  With a smooth, soulful vocal delivery that perfectly complements the intense new sound of the band, Crane may finally get the recognition that he deserves.  The iconic Ugly Kid Joe logo remains intact, but is no longer an indicator of the music that lies beneath the packaging.  Like the rest of the album, this song features depth and nuance that comes with life experience.


In a recent exclusive interview with Hard Rock Daddy, Whitfield Crane discussed the writing and recording process of “She’s Already Gone,” and shared the inspiration and meaning behind the song…


“The process of writing, performing and tracking the new UKJ album, which is called Uglier Than They Used Ta Be, was pretty cool, full-circle magic without a doubt.  We haven’t really stuck everyone together in a room like that for 15-20 years.  In this case it was the ’95 lineup, which includes: myself, Klaus Eichstadt, Dave Fortman, Cordell Crockett and Shannon Larkin.  And then, we have two new characters that we lugged into this experience from the touring version of Ugly Kid Joe over the last five years, which is Zac Morris and Sonny Mayo.  We call this lineup the “Seven-Headed Monster.”

We did a pledge campaign, which I was totally skeptical as to whether it would work or not, but it worked instantly.  It was really cool to be able to go directly to the fans.

As far as writing and getting it all going, one of the larger factors was that we all wanted to do it.  When we broke up in the late ‘90s, we were all over it, but in this case, there’s been a wonderful change in the winds where we all wanted to be in the room together again.  We went into the studio with no preconceptions.  Some people had parts of songs; some people had full songs.  We went in there, and just let the music flow through us.

‘She’s Already Gone’is a song that was composed by Dave Fortman that he had never played with a band.  Like all of the songs that we tracked, this song was pretty much first-take on all accounts.  There’s an old adage about catching lighting in a bottle.  A lot of times, when you’re demoing out songs, you’re thinking about doing pre-production for the record.  Sometimes, when you go to track the songs before you make the record, you capture the actual magic, but then when you go to the studio to record, it’s good, but it doesn’t capture that original lightning in a bottle.

We had a 21-day window to get this album recorded, so we ended up working 13-14 hour days consecutively.  We didn’t have time to fuck around, so everything that we tracked was the first time that we tracked it, and then moved on.

‘She’s Already Gone’ is a story of how many relationships go (which is south).  There’s a lot of the ‘south’ in it.  You can hear the Lynyrd Skynyrd inflections in there.  Of course, Dave’s from Louisiana, and one of his favorite bands is Skynyrd.  I sang the song in a live room with the speakers playing back, no headphones (or cans as they say).  I sang the entire record on an SM58, which to some producers would be sacrilegious, but to me, it’s home.  Overall, it’s an imperfect record (in the best sense) and we’re all really proud of it.”




Sometimes less is more, and in the case of “Black And White,” less comes in the form of a sparse musical arrangement designed the allow the stellar vocals of Whitfield Crane and Myles Kennedy to shine in the spotlight.  That’s not to say that guitarist Lee Richards (who wrote “Black And White”) doesn’t add a very important element to the song, because he does.  While the dual vocals bring the thought-provoking lyrics to life, the tone of “Black And White” is set by a riff that is as emotionally stirring (and in the same vein) as the instantly-recognizable riff on Bob Seger’s “Main Street.”  Richards is far from a household name, but he could have been had he not received a life-changing phone call early in 1997 that led to his departure from Godsmack.  You can’t help but think that the poetic lyrics of “Black And White” are extremely personal to Richards.  He may always wonder what might have been if he had remained with Godsmack, but Richards can take solace in the fact that he has written a timeless classic in “Black And White.”


Whitfield Crane on how “Black And White” came together…


“I sing in another band called Richards/Crane, which includes this incredible, prophetic songwriter – Lee Richards.  We met each other in 2007 when we were in a band called Another Animal. I knew what Lee was all about, and I would call him periodically on the east coast from wherever I was.  In this case, I was in Costa Rica.  I suggested that I fly to Boston to track a bunch of his stuff acoustically, and he agreed.  I flew to Boston, and we started tracking all of his stuff, building it acoustically.

We hit one of these songs that he wrote called ‘Black And White,’ which just had a really amazing, ‘70s singer/songwriter vibe.  Immediately, when I heard it, I thought that it would be really cool if Myles (Kennedy) sang on this with me.  We knew Myles from when we opened for Alter Bridge with Another Animal.  I’ve kept in contact with him, and really appreciate him as a human being, a guitar player, and of course, a singer.  He’s a busy guy, but when I reached out to him, he told me to send the song.  We finished the skeleton of ‘Black And White’ in Boston, and sent what we wanted him to do, leaving space for him to do it.  He was able to pick his own harmony and sing in his style.  He sent it back, and what was there, really made the song.

I don’t know where he was when we recorded his parts, in Japan or someplace, I think.  He sent it back and then we ended up finishing it in Louisiana with the percussion, and filling it in with some electric.  When I listened to the song lyrically, and the harmonies and blues runs that Myles put in, I thought that it turned out fantastic, and we were both very stoked.”






While Escape The Fate is promising to explore the edges of several different directions on their new album, the first single is territory that I’d be content to see them spend a lot of time in.  Producer Howard Benson gives the guitars room to shine.  The vocals are clean, and the finished product is one that deserves a piece of the rock landscape in 2015 and beyond.


P.O.D. – “Speed Demon”

I found it interesting to hear the band describe this song as being quite different from most of their work over the years, since I felt like it was one of the most comfortable fits on their latest albums.  At the very least, it was among the most comfortable and enjoyable songs for me as a listener.  This up-tempo track was one of the highlights of The Awakening for me.






Classic rock comes alive with both 60’s vibes and modern touches on this Connecticut band’s debut album, Flying Under The Radar.  Four consummate musicians with extensive resumes, who have been mainstays on their local scene and openers for numerous famous artists, have fashioned an album that is sure to attract a far wider audience, and get them out from under the radar.  Melodic and grooving, the songs have been composed by musicians with an undeniable love for their craft.


FIND ME – “Nowhere To Hide”

Find Me is a melodic rock band that matches the songwriting and musical talents of Sweden’s Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye, The Codex, The Murder Of My Sweet) with the captivating vocals of Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces).  Their second album is set for a December 4th release.  The opener, “Nowhere To Hide,” blends guitars and keyboards with La Blanc’s signature vocals into a catchy, driving rocker.





MANIMAL “March Of Madness”

When first discovering “March Of Madness,” I thought of a long-dead ‘80s TV show….then the music kicked, grabbed hold and all kidding was pushed aside.  A tremendous opening rhythm leads to a great metal track from this Swedish band who has been together since 2001.  This song, from Manimal’s 5th studio album (Trapped In The Shadows), has a straight-forward formula that features stand-out vocals from Sam Nyman.



British symphonic metal from Damnation Angels off of their 2015 album, The Valiant Fire.  The tremendous orchestration is dominant until the traditional metal breaks out, especially in the choruses that really make the song.  The majestic brass and horns add dramatic emphasis to this passionate piece about repentance.  Great, powerful vocals from Per Fredrik Åsly (a.k.a. PelleK) on “Closure.”


To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to –





UGLY KID JOE – “Everything About You” (1992)

As mentioned above, the iconic Ugly Kid Joe logo doesn’t quite fit with their current sound, but one listen to “Everything About You,” and you’ll understand how well it once fit.  Many fans of the band discovered them when this song was a hit back in 1992.  It is their most well-known original single to date, and their second most popular song (behind their exceptional cover of Harry Chapin’s “Cats In The Cradle”).   Younger hard rock fans may recognize the song from Nintendo’s Band Hero.  Even though it is fairly well-known, “Everything About You” is being included on Music Discovery Monday for a few reasons.  The first was to show how much the band’s sound has evolved with their current release.  The second has to do with the story behind the making of the video.


Whitfield Crane shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video for “Everything About You”


“We made the video with this dude, Thomas Mignone, in Isla Vista, CA where we all lived.  Thomas came from L.A. with a steady cam, which was this video camera where you could jump around, but the images would stay solid.  We filmed the video on the beach in Isla Vista with all of our friends kind of heckling us up on the cliffs where the houses were.

If you’ve ever watched someone make a video, it’s absurd.  Rock and roll in general is absurd.  The process of making the video was silly, but the cool thing about videos for me is capturing and editing a moment in time to a musical score of your life. 

We made the video on a shoestring budget; I think that it cost around $5,000.  The expectations weren’t very high, but it was successful, and helped take us around the world.

For the video, Thomas decided to give us fuck dolls filled with helium to use as kites.  I got some curious looks from college kids as I walked around the beach with one.  They must have been thinking… ‘what the fuck are these people doing?’  But that was comfortable for me because we liked curious looks.

Things went beyond curious looks though, when authorities from the FAA showed up (with guns) and informed Thomas that planes arriving and departing from Santa Barbara airport were complaining about nude love dolls in their flight paths.  When we proved that the dolls would no longer fly away, we were given the green light to continue.  It did give them a chuckle, so they were cool about it.”



ANOTHER ANIMAL – “Broken Again” (2007)

The Ugly Kid Joe reunion was not the only one that took place for Whitfield Crane in 2015.  Years before he teamed up with Lee Richards for Richards/Crane (see above), the duo joined forces in Another Animal, which also featured Godsmack members Shannon Larkin, Tony Rombola and Robbie Merrill.  Although the band only put out one (eponymous) album, they did have some radio success with “Broken Again.”  This song showcases yet another side of Crane; dark, brooding and for lack of a better term – grungy (think Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots meets Seether).  It’s no wonder that this aggressive, melancholic track resonated with radio programmers.  It is somewhat surprising that this side project hasn’t done more together, because their chemistry is undeniable.


Whitfield Crane shares his insight about Another Animal and “Broken Again”


“That’s a song from the 2007 album that we released with Another Animal, which is basically Godsmack minus the singer (Sully Erna) plus Lee Richards.

Shannon called me to make a record two days before I was about to travel.  The singer that they had, disappeared into the ether, or whatever the story was, so Shannon asked me if I could sing the following day on the record.  I asked him if I had to try out.  When he said that I was in, I said ‘fuck yeah, dude!’

When I got that call, I never thought that I was going to sing another song again in my musical career.  I thought that it was just over.  I got on a plane and went to Boston and met these dudes, and then went immediately into the studio and sang a bunch of songs.

‘Broken Again’ was the toughest song on the record to sing.  The lyrics to the song were written by the prophetic one, Mr. Lee Richards.  It had a lot of stuff on it that I had never sung.  In fact, the whole record does.  Lee really took me out of my comfort zone (in a great way) on the record, especially with ‘Broken Again.’

Another Animal was signed to Universal Records.  The song got released with zero push, and it went Top 10 for a couple of months.  We had a bright future in front of us, and let’s just say that the band was put to the side by Universal (for whatever reason).

Funny enough, even though I didn’t write the lyrics to ‘Broken Again,’ it’s how I felt at the time.  At the end of Ugly Kid Joe, I was like…‘FUCK!, right when I have a cool skillset, I have no outlet.’

To have the opportunity to go sing that storyline in a really heavy band was fantastic.  It’s an incredible song with great harmonies.”





HALESTORM“Daughters Of Darkness” (2012)

Anthemic rocker with lyrics that might conjure up images from ‘80s-era metal videos, but does so in a stylish (rather than cheesy) way.  Among the better non-singles from The Strange Case Of…, it’s just a comfortable and enjoyable listen.


SCOTT STAPP“Hit Me More” (2013)

Written and released prior to the very public personal problems that plagued him last year, the lyrics of the song – “Went through Hell to find my Heaven, got nothing left to hide” – resonate even more strongly today as he travels the road of recovery.  Proof Of Life was a solid album with several strong tracks.  This one might end up being the one that sticks in my head the most.





CRYONIC TEMPLE – “In Thy Power” (2005)

The title track from this Swedish metal band’s 2005 album manages to strike up some great harmonies, while always maintaining pure power and speed.  Like the other tracks on the album, it’s a head-banger with no lapses or apologies.  For power ballads or mid-tempo rockers, look elsewhere!  For monster riffs and speed, this is it.


GRIMMSTINE – “This Don’t Look Like Love To Me” (2008)

One of my favorite ballads of 2008 came from rock legend Steve Grimmett (of Grim Reaper fame).  He belts out some powerful and heartfelt notes in this devastating piece about a failed relationship.  The contrast of the bluesy verses with the power ballad refrain works wonderfully.  Grimmett teamed up here with guitarist Steve Stine (hence the name Grimmstine) for this one-off melodic metal project.





ANTHRIEL – “Chains Of The Past” (2010)

If you’re like me, you love an epic metal song.  Great structure and flow in this prog metal piece from Anthriel, who hail from Finland and have been together since 2004.  “Chains Of The Past” is featured on The Pathway, an album inspired by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms: The Dark Elf Trilogy.


ANDROMEDA – “The Words Unspoken” (2009)

Outstanding guitar leads the way on this wonderful prog metal track from Sweden’s Andromeda.  Johan Reinholdz rips it up while stand-out playing of Thomas Lejon keeps it all in sync on drums.  This version of “The Words Unspoken” is from the live album, Playing Off The Board, and is as polished as a studio cut.


About AW

Hard rock journalist and father of two amazing rock and roll children.

Posted on November 9, 2015, in Hard Rock Music Time Machine, Music Discovery Monday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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