It’s a really simple equation: summer + great music = some of the best times of our lives. More so than any other time of year, we remember where we were, which friends we were with, and which songs rocked us the hardest during the summer. There are concerts and festivals to go to ~ from the mellow to the metal, the roadtrips that get us there and back ~ complete with radios blaring the music of our fave bands of the moment, the music that’s playing when we meet the hottie who turns into our summer romance, and the albums that are the backdrop to the kickass summer pool party that’s totally…wait for it…l-e-g-e-n-d-a-r-y.
Warm weather, great music, and great times…that’s what this “Summer Soundtrack” issue is all about…so have a terrific, safe start to the summer…throw on those cut-off and flip-flops, get to those concerts, pick up those albums, and ROCK!!!
Straight Line Stitch
Conquering the Metal World, One Handshake at a Time
By Jillian Locke
Not only is Alexis Brown one of the official “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock”, which has landed Straight Line Stitch on the “Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock: Hell Hath No Fury” tour with In this Moment, System Divide and Sister Sin – she’s also one of the sweetest faces of modern metal. When I saw SLS play at The Paradise back in February as part of the opening line-up for Times of Grace’s first headlining tour, I saw Brown sitting at the merch table, shaking hands and signing autographs before AND after SLS’s performance.
“Too many people think bands don’t want to talk to anybody – they think they’re in their own world. The fans make us who we are and who we ultimately become, and we really, really appreciate them,” says Brown. Taking her inspiration from Ozzy, Pantera and above all, Korn, Brown grew from a fan into a main stage performer. “I fell in love with the genre.” The release of The Fight of Our Lives this past March marked a very important milestone for the Knoxville, TN outfit. “This album means a whole, whole lot,” Brown explains. “This was the album where we took our stand as a band. For Sky’s Wash Ashore, everybody was holding our hands while we were writing it. For us, this one represents us being out on our own, really experiencing the music industry and being out on the road all the time. It’s like ‘OK, this is what it’s all about. We gotta be prepared to fight this fight – we’re all on the same page, we have one common goal.’ We let go and did it by ourselves. The label had respect for that. I’m really, really proud of it. Nothing worth having is easy, and that’s why we named the album, The Fight of Our Lives.”
SLS will be joining Megadeth on the road for 2011′s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, and in addition to the regular dates, they’ll be branching out for a few intimate dates with Kingdom of Sorrow and In Flames. And of course, they’ll be available for handshakes and autographs. “I just want to thank the readers for checking us out, and if they ever want to…we are reachable. If they ever want to reach out to us, they’re talking straight to us if they do. If I wasn’t at the merch table, I would never hear the fan’s stories. At Mayhem, I’m gonna find a way to get out there and shake hands and take pictures.”
Bringing Back the Glory Days
By Jillian Locke
As of April 23rd, the eve of the only North American date of the Big 4 Tour (Indio, CA ~ Empire Polo Club), Megadeth bassist David Ellefson has officially been back in the saddle for about a year and is creating memories of what he refers to as “the glory days.”
“I feel that Megadeth is really back in high esteem and is back to its glory days again!” Ellefson proudly asserts. “The overall vibe of the whole Big 4 Tour is awesome ~ we’re thrilled to be back, and the good will and camaraderie around the whole thing really is amazing. It gives people a reason to want to continue coming out to shows.”
Last year’s Rust In Peace tour bled into last summer’s Big 4 Tour, which is bleeding into this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which will touch down in Mansfield at the Comcast Center on July 22nd. Megadeth will join Disturbed, Godsmack, Trivium, In Flames and Machine Head on the Main Stage; Suicide Silence, All Shall Perish and Straight Line Stitch will pummel the Extreme Stage, and Kingdom of Sorrow, Unearth and Red Fang with dominate the Jagermeister Mobile Stage. Says Ellefson, “I’ve seen or toured with almost all of the bands; I like Disturbed ~ they’ve got some really good, outstanding tracks. Godsmack is really phenomenal live and Trivium has really done a lot for bolstering thrash metal to a younger generation. We’re thrash metal legacy at this point, and then you’ve got Trivium carrying the torch for the next generation. It’s a really good bill.”
After Mayhem, the crew will be heading back to Europe for five more Big 4 dates. “We’ve definitely turned a corner for our fans, musically,” Ellefson says. Which leads us to the next big question ~ what’s in store for the next Megadeth album? “We’ve been working on it over the last few months while we’ve been touring. We don’t have a release date yet, and there’s too much material to even talk about the direction of it. Working on it between touring is the right way to do it as this point ~ it’s keeping us focused. We get to gauge the response of the songs rather than coming off the road for an extended period of time. That unplugs you from your fans, and I feel the songs translate well if you keep plugged in.”
As for a favorite Megadeth album of his own, well, Ellefson doesn’t have one. “We did them at different times, and they represent different facets of our career and personal lives; some times weren’t a whole lot of fun, but it’s interesting to look back on those. These days right now are the good old days. These are the days that you look back on ~ all of the memories that become part off the scrapbook of your life.” Come out and be a part of Megadeth’s scrapbook next month at Mayhem, and keep checking in for the latest installment from the thrash titans.
A Perfect Circle
The Enduring Spark
By Jillian Locke
For the first time in six years, A Perfect Circle is emerging from their self-imposed hiatus to embark on a full North American tour. Aside from a handful of Western U.S. tour dates last fall, APC has been off the grid, its members focusing on other projects such as Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer and Billy Howerdel’s Ashes Divide.
But on July 12th, A Perfect Circle will take the main stage at the Bank of America Pavilion with Red Bacteria Vacuum as they visit Boston for the first time in six years. “The fall tour hit smaller venues to just brush off the cobwebs and test the waters with our audience,” Howerdel reflects. “It went really well. This is a continuation of that on a bigger scale.”
Of course it went really well ~ A Perfect Circle is one of those bands that has stuck with and carried out the original sound and vibe they began with ~ that original spark. They’ve never needed to consciously change it or grow it; maybe that is thanks to the other side projects they can experiment with, or maybe it’s because the essence of APC is so unique, so emotional and so…sexually ethereal that nothing needed to be changed or evolved. It’s perfect just the way it is.
“Now I can really reflect on the early days of the band, back in 1999-2000, and look at that spark ~ that’s what the band was and is. It’s still the core that burns as far as what APC is to me,” explains Howerdel. “We took off at lightening speed right out of the shoot – maybe it was a lucky alignment of the stars – we were given pretty quick success which allowed us to do things. We didn’t have to struggle in the beginning, and we’re really fortunate for that. It feels like there’s an appetite for us out there still, and it feels really good. That’s why we do it.”
And that’s why they’re forging forward with new music. Once again, they will enlist the help of remixer extraordinaire Danny Lohner. “Danny gives us a different flavor and sound, which is a part of the APC sound too. He gives us an array of sounds we can draw from and stay in the APC universe. The new music we’re working on now is one of the bigger musical journeys that we’ve released,” Howerdel reveals.
For the time being, APC is looking forward to playing the songs they have written on the road this summer, releasing a few, maybe a collection; but the important facts to note here are A TOUR and NEW MUSIC. “I’m very proud of A Perfect Circle. I could have never easily been in a band that I wasn’t proud of. I’m proud of everything this band does.”
The Highway Stars Present: The Songs That Built Rock
By Jillian Locke
On Tuesday, June 7th, the Wang Theatre will play host to a most momentous and legendary event, starring one of the pioneering powerhouses of progressive hard rock, who hold rank amongst the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin as one of the godfather’s of heavy metal; those legendary gentlemen who gave us “Smoke on the Water,” “Hush,” and “Highway Star,” to name a few from their epic, boundless collection, are once again bringing the immense energy and spectacle that is Deep Purple to Boston for their first North American tour in four years. But they won’t be alone…
“Now is a great time to see the band – it’s not going to be a cabaret type of thing; it’s going to be Deep Purple playing with an accompaniment, and we’ll be able to do some things we wouldn’t usually do without an orchestra,” says living legend and guitar aficionado, Steve Morse, of the symphony orchestra that will be accompanying Deep Purple. “We originally did a very different sort of orchestral tour where we were playing a centerpiece by (original keyboardist) Jon Lord; this is a rock concert with some different tunes.”
A “rock concert” is the understatement of the century. According to Morse, “There are four elements you will always find at a Deep Purple show: 1 ~ Classic tunes that people recognize, or didn’t know were Deep Purple; 2 ~ Some of the new stuff, which means anything in the last 20 years; 3 ~ Some more hidden tracks from old classic era albums that the band hasn’t played much on the road, and 4 ~ Improv sections that are like solo guitar, keyboard and extemporaneous bits and pieces. We do rotate some of the songs right before we go out ~ it’s usually Ian Gillan’s call. He’s been screaming rock and roll for decades, so we let him make those decisions right before the show,” Morse laughs.
With over four decades on the road, Deep Purple has been instrumental in writing the history of heavy, experimental, emotional, psychological, progressive and most certainly, untouchable, rock. Bands like Dream Theater and Opeth cover them, while Voivod, Ayreon and Hellhammer (pre-Celtic Frost) count them as one of their biggest influences. Yet, through it all, Morse still knows what’s truly, absolutely important. “One of the things I’ve been telling my son as he’s readying to leave home and do his own thing musically is, ‘You can’t have full music output without having a full life. Never, ever believe you’re success as a musician is tied to sales or income or anything; you have a responsibility to do something positive for the people in front of you.”
Join Deep Purple and a symphony orchestra for a night of symphonic, progressive hard rock from the men who not only wrote the book on heavy, but who still survive and strive, together, to tell their tale and illuminate the lives .
An Interview with Will Swan of Dance Gavin Dance
By Katey Khaos
Dance Gavin Dance’s experimental post-hardcore style of music has earned them quite the following in their hometown of Sacramento, CA, not to mention the rest of the US. Will Swan, guitarist and vocalist, shared a little one on one time with Pulse and gave a little insight into the band.
“We threw around a few ideas for band names. Someone had thrown out ‘The Green Monroe’ and I thought that was the worst possible band name ever, so when someone else threw out ‘Dance Gavin Dance,’ I supported it,” Swan joked. Dance Gavin Dance was originally formed from the disbanding of several other bands including Farewell Unknown, Ghost Runner on Third, and Atherton. Since the original lineup, the band has gone through a few member swaps, the most recent being the re-addition of vocalist Jonny Craig. However, the change in members hasn’t hindered the band as a whole or their ability to create mosh-worthy tracks.
As most Dance Gavin Dance fans know, there was a huge controversy between Jonny Craig and the rest of the band. When I asked Swan how he and the other members of Dance Gavin Dance felt about having Craig back in the band, he happily replied, “All the issues with Jonny were pretty much settled a year and a half ago when we did the ‘Squash the Beef’ tour. Everything’s cool with us now.”
With Craig back in the lineup, Dance Gavin Dance hit the recording studio to record their fourth full-length album entitled Downtown Battle Mountain II, which is the follow-up album to their 2008 release, Downtown Battle Mountain. “The lyrics [on Downtown Battle Mountain II] are about everyday life and situations. Jonny likes to jumble these themes into metaphors ~ sometimes I don’t even know what he’s talking about, but then he can sit me down, walk me through it, and it’ll make sense.”
What does Dance Gavin Dance have planned for the future? “We don’t really plan ahead, we’re just gonna continue making music as long as it’s fun and we still have a connection with the music. No matter what happens, we just want to keep making music,” Swan explained.
Dance Gavin Dance is on the lineup for the Vans Warped Tour 2011, so be sure to check them out when they hit the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA July 13th!
Bowling for Soup
By Josh Lyford
Bowling for Soup has made a name for themselves over the years with their highly infectious songwriting and by keeping their collective tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Pop-punk as a genre is crowded with semi-humor and witty wordplay. If you look closely however, you will see Bowling for Soup standing head and shoulders above the pack.
The group, consisting of Jaret Reddick, Chris Burney, Erik Chandler and Gary Wiseman, got their start in beautiful northern Texas. Their history is a success story and a lesson in humble positivity.
Bowling for Soup has had their feet on the ground since the start, and with constant touring and recording comes hilarious anecdotes and wild tales. Jaret Reddick was kind enough to take some time off from his vocal and guitar-shredding duties to share some of his entertaining and ultimately positive experiences.
“On tour, if you met us, you would think we were crazy,” Reddick says. “Once our guitar tech wrestled our merch guy naked in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The tech stole our merch guy Blake’s clothes, put them in a shopping cart and pushed it off into the night.” The story doesn’t end there though, “I was filming all of this happen and Blake threw a Zippo lighter at me and hit me in the crotch, and I just dropped the camera.”
It’s refreshing to hear from a band that steadfastly refuses to take themselves seriously. Reddick describes the group as thirty year olds who act like they’re sixteen. “I learned in junior high-school that you have to be able to laugh at yourself,” Reddick says. “It just makes life easier.”
This attitude has spilled over into Bowling for Soup’s musical persona. Never missing a chance to poke fun at themselves, the band can be outrageous in the studio as well. While recording the new record they created some interesting in-studio rules, “If you couldn’t nail your vocal part, then you took your pants off.” In addition to creating the pants-free zone, Reddick says that they have recorded backing vocals on top of a Vespa scooter and while laying under pianos.
Keep up with Bowling for Soup’s hilarious antics at Twitter.com/bfsrocks and Facebook.com/BowlingforSoup. Scope out their new video for “S-S-S-Saturday” and be sure to pick up their brand new record Fishin’ For Woos, out now. If you enjoy fun, check them out on tour when they stop by the Middle East in Cambridge.
Photo by Jason Janick
Let Them Eat Cake!
By Patrick Douglas
Until 2011, that is.
With the recent release of Showroom of Compassion, Cake hit number one in record sales on the Billboard 200 chart for the first time in the band’s 20 year history. It was a stunning accomplishment but one the group wasn’t necessarily putting on its “to do,” list.
“The way I see it, we’re not a band that’s supposed to be number one. We can be number two, I guess,” said frontman John McCrea. “It doesn’t seem to fit with the culture of our band. I’ll have to buy one of those big, foam hats now, that say ‘We’re number 1.”
All joking aside, McCrea was more than happy to see fan support, especially considering the long layoff between album releases. The previous Cake record was Pressure Chief, which came out in 2004.
“I think it says something that in the first week of our album coming out that that many people had enough faith that we would make not just one song but a whole album that was worth buying,” he said. “To me, that feels the best. People remember that we exist.”
Cake has had immense success behind the hit songs “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle,” “The Distance,” “Never There,” and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.”
Even though Cake finished in first place the week Showroom of Compassion came out, it marked the lowest selling album to finish in first, selling just over 44,000 copies that week.
It’s still a nice accomplishment for the band, especially since that’s generally the kind of sales they expect.
“The music industry is in a precipitous decline but it doesn’t seem like Cake is in a precipitous decline,” said McCrea. “It’s true that all around us, people are buying less recorded music (but) our first week of sales was pretty much the same (as) our last studio album.”
Photo courtesy of Robert McKnight ~ Pictured L-R are Vince DiFiore, Paulo Baldi, John McCrea, Gabe Nelson, Xan McCurdy.
The IDENTITY Tour – All Electronic, All the Time!
By R. Peltier
This summer will mark the debut of IDENTITY, the first-ever touring electronic ONLY music festival that will visit major outdoor amphitheatres throughout North America in August and September and give fans the full electronic music experience.
The Massachusetts stop on the tour, on Saturday, August 20 at the Comcast Center ~ is part of approximately 20 shows on tap for this exciting new traveling extravaganza with top-tier artists performing on multiple stages starting in the afternoon and going well into the night.
The line-up for IDENTITY ~ which is set to further galvanize the electronic music explosion ~ is highlighted by the hottest cutting-edge artists of the genre including Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Rusko, Avicii, Steve Aoki, Disco Biscuits, DJ Shadow, Skrillex, Pete Tong, Chuckie, Booka Shade, Modeselektor, the Crystal Method, Nero and many more.
“Locke on Rock” ~ Summer Music Round-Up!
By Jillian Locke
85 degree days, sweltering festivals, sunscreen and brewskies…what does that spell? SUMMER! Time to crawl out of hibernation from the worst winter New England has EVER seen and enjoy the sweet sounds of summer as the always impressive train of eclectic musicians makes its yearly trek across the Boston area. This year, pop icons will sweep through the city, leaving a trail of exhausted teenage girls (and not-so-teenage-girls) in their wake; metal festivals will shred some faces and punks and skaters will have somewhere to legally loiter at the alterna/punk festival; blues/rock legends will unite to give us all a dose of the real roots of rock n’ roll, while other legends will take to the road after extended absences to greet their hungry fans, once again. There’s something going on for everyone, so jump in and see where your memories will be made this summer!
On Tap for June: 6-2 ~ Paul Simon, House of Blues; 6/3 ~ Jimmy Eat World, Palladium; 6/4 ~ Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, Palladium; 6/6 ~ Glee Live! In Concert!, TD Garden; 6/7 ~ Deep Purple, “The Songs That Built Rock” with a symphony orchestra and Ernie & The Automatics, The Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre; 6/9 ~ 38 Special, Casino Ballroom; 6/10 ~ Jackyl, Showcase Live at Foxborough; 6/11 ~ New Kids On The Block & Backstreet Boys (NKOTBSB), Fenway Park; 6/15 ~ An Evening with The Monkees, 45th Anniversary Tour, Lowell Auditorium; 6/16 ~ Eddie Vedder, Wang Theatre; 6/17 ~ Black Country Communion Tour featuring Glen Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham & Derek Sherinian, Casino Ballroom; 6/18 ~ Katy Perry, TD Garden; 6/22 ~ Dinosaur Jr., Paradise Rock Club; 6/24 ~ Peter Gabriel, Comcast Center; 6/24-6/26 ~ Dispatch, TD Bank; 6/26 ~ Owl City, House of Blues.
Bringing the Heat in July: 7/1-7/2 ~ Lady Gaga, TD Garden; 7/6 ~ Sade & John Legend, TD Garden; 7/9 ~ Pat Benatar f/ Neil Giraldo, House of Blues; 7/12 ~ A Perfect Circle, Bank of America Pavilion; 7/13 ~ Vans Warped Tour featuring Lucero, Against Me!, August Burns Red, A Day to Remember, The Acacia Strain, and The Devil Wears Prada, Comcast Center; 7/17 ~ Lil Wayne’s I Am Music Tour with Far East Movement; 7/19 ~ Children of Bodom, Palladium; 7/19 ~ Goo Goo Dolls, Bank of America Pavilion; 7/19 ~ Motley Crue,Poison, New York Dolls, Comcast Center; 7/22 ~ Eddie Money, Casino Ballroom; 7/22 ~ Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival featuring Disturbed, Godsmack, Machine Head, In Flames and Megadeth, Comcast Center; 7/24 ~ Rihanna & Cee Lo Green, TD Bank; 7/28 ~ Reel Big Fish and Street Light Manifesto, House of Blues; 7/28 ~ Kid Cudi with Chip Tha Ripper, DCU Center
Wrapping up Summer with a Bang: 8/6 ~ Queensryche 30th Anniversary Tour, House of Blues; 8/6 ~ Iwrestledabearonce, Marriot Trade Center in Fitchburg; 8/8 ~ Britney Spears & Nicki Mina w/ Jessie and the Toy Boys and Nervo , TD Bank; 8/10 ~ O.A.R. at the Bank of American Pavilion; 8/12 ~ Summer Slaughter Festival featuring Dying Fetus, Six Feet Under, Whitechapel and Black Dahlia Murder, The Palladium; 8/15 ~ Ted Nugent, Casino Ballroom; 8/19 ~ Kings of Leon and Band of Horses, Comcast Center; 8/21 ~ Whitesnake, Casino Ballroom.
Now get out there and soak in all the live music you can!
Pictured: Kings of Leon
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