The Colossal Heads

 

I met The Colossal Heads for the first time only a matter of months ago, but almost every time I catch myself talking to any one of the three members of the NOLA based desert punk grunge band, I feel as if I have known them for years. Despite the somewhat controversial name TCH has made for themselves, there is no denying the talent and captivating energy that radiates from them in person and on stage. It was by some twist of luck that I found myself introduced to TCH’s lead vocalist and guitar player, Tony Italiano, soon to be followed by fellow members Danny Lester (bass) and Kyle Carroll (drums) all asking the same question, “Are shows here always like this?” I may not remember exactly what I said, but it has always been hard building a defense for Birmingham’s music scene while looking into the face of a dead venue. The Colossal Heads was unfortunately given a bad first impression that left “a bitter taste” in everyone’s mouth, but I offered every redeeming quality that I could, thinking “There’s got to be something better than this,” and I was fortunate enough to convince them that the Birmingham I know, love, and live in was worth that second chance. That the Birmingham I knew offered a “better” that everyone was striving for. For so long I wondered how I could find this “better” and share that with hard-working bands such as TCH, and meeting incredibly talented individuals like Aaron Greene, owner of Birmingham’s Syndicate Lounge, has helped to put me one step closer to that. What was a previous show with all but two guests at the less-than-popular venue, suddenly grew to be a show of about thirty-two. Not as big as I was reaching for, but definitely a step towards the right direction. That night at The Syndicate Lounge I witnessed one of the best crowd reactions there that I had seen in quite some time. Musically, their sound is an undeniable art that is treated as such and incomparable to any other band I’ve heard thus far, drawing inspiration from various artists such as Oasis, My Morning Jacket, and The Strokes among many others to create the unique sound that is The Colossal Heads’ very own. The two days TCH had revisiting Birmingham were two days I struggled with personally due to completely unrelated circumstances, but through that they continued to show their unwavering friendship and patience as I struggled to maintain the level of professionalism I like to hold. But, despite those events, The Colossal Heads, Olyvia Kirk, and the amazing team at The Syndicate Lounge managed to be the glue that held me together. It’s hard to see people for who they really are when often they’re hidden behind walls of intoxicants, aggressive music, and public personas, but behind all of that I’ve been given some of the best relationship advice I could ever ask for, simple acts affection when I though nobody wanted to touch me, and stories I will forever cherish. The Colossal Heads is not just a band, The Syndicate Lounge is not just some venue in some city, and I am not just some young unknown writer, even though we all too often feel like we are “just” those exact things. We are people with meaning…meaningful histories and meaningful aspirations living and traveling in places and cities that people have shed blood and tears for. I, sometimes all too often, write on how I have found home in the music industry, but I can’t seem to say it enough. I love what I do and the people I work with, and I’m looking forward to building stronger shows and relationships based from that love. Tony, Kyle, Danny…you all know how to contact me, and if you ever need me, I’ll be there just as you all have been and I’m counting down the days to when you’ll be back.

,Summer.

SMF Live: What direction do you feel music is headed, and where do you fit in? 

Danny Lester: I feel that music is headed in a disastrous direction, and we are a reason for it to be headed in the right direction.

Tony Italiano: I don’t think the direction is awful, we’re not paying attention to the right things. The focus of the industry, especially for rock music, is a little diverted in everything. Radio seems to be getting worse and worse, which is no shock to anyone, we just have to do our part to fix that [by] writing very honestly and with high energy.

DL: I hope that once people get to see who we really are, what we do, and what we represent that it will inspire a lot of artist’s and a lot of musicians to come out and follow in the footsteps of creating music like we do. It’s something that is meaningful and passionate.

TI: It kills the weaker ones along the way.

DL: Yeah, we just want to put it back on the map where creating deep, meaningful, music is more of a part of life. Like back in the 90’s music used to inspire people, and now people are just creating music just to make a buck by writing one simple line down and singing it over and over. There’s more to that then just creating for the hell of it, you know?

SMF: A quote from Tony in our last interview- 

TI: Should I apologize in advance?

SMF: It says “Here’s to our first and last show in Birmingham.” What brought you back? 

DL: You.

TI: You did, first of all, but it’s the same way I feel about any venue or any promoter that doesn’t do their job…it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And as a touring band that’s something you have to deal with all too often. When you show up to a place with no flyers, no radio promotion, and with the other bands we hope that they bring whatever fans that they have…and it’s just a combination of things. I’m glad we came back. We were at The Syndicate Lounge last night. Very, very, cool place.

SMF: What is the music scene like in New Orleans and what differences have you noticed from across the country?

Kyle Carroll: The New Orleans music scene is very scattered, there’s a lot of different genre’s around New Orleans, a lot of people trying to do different things. I mean, for the most part, it’s brass and that native New Orleans music that kind of gets the pickin’s around the city.

DL: Like anywhere else, EDM is very prominent.

KL: Yeah, there’s pretty much an EDM scene anywhere you go now. As far as traveling and going different places, going out west- it felt really nice going out west because there was a lot of really talented bands that we ended up playing with in the same genre as us, and that’s reassuring that there’s still people out there still trying to do something real and [trying to] get rock music out.

TI: It’s an age-old battle fighting against music that’s been kind of grandfathered into the city itself. And I’ve said this before, I don’t have any hatred or malice against brass music, jazz, funk, or any of that traditional stuff. But, being in a rock band in that situation, especially an original rock band, that can go one of two very different ways. [You] can stick out and get noticed because you are so different, or you can be completely unaccepted. I feel like one has slowly turned into the other because we have been doing very well in New Orleans this last year, its been killer, and getting people just to pay attention and to see what you’re all about seems to be an art itself on top of your music.

ch10

SMF: You’re getting ready to release you new album, right? 

DL: Hell yeah, Mammoths.

SMF: So what can we expect from it, and what are your plans for touring? 

DL: I think we decided on releasing it in January, and what you’re going to get with that album is a diversity of music, but at the same time it all fits in with each other. We’ve played multiple shows where the promoters or people that just put the shows together get asked “Where did you find these guys?” Every song sounds like something different with different influences in each song that we play on the album. As much of our live sound will be in this album, or as much as we could, because that’s when we’re most dominant, is when we perform. People that liked our EP and that enjoy seeing us live are not going to be disappointed at all because we’re making sure that everything is perfect before we release it.

KC: As far as touring after the release, we haven’t been up too far the East Coast or up North, yet, so that might be something that we have in mind to do. We might still go back out West, we really don’t know yet.

DL: We made a lot of really great friends out West that really appreciate what we do.

KC: When you hit city’s for the first time, you really don’t know what to expect. You don’t know who you’re going to meet, but everything was pretty successful as far as our West Coast tour went, and as far as meeting cool bands and people that just knew what was going on around the city. It’s going to be pretty legit once we plan to get back out there.

SMF: Have you considered adding on a fourth member to the band or do you want to stay a three piece? 

DL: When we first started trying to get a grip and direction on our sound, we were thinking about adding a fourth member, but every time we tried-

KC: The chemistry with people that we pull in never really works out. I mean, obviously by now we’ve got it pretty down. We’ve played together, been around each other enough…pissed off one another enough to where we know each other enough to work together.

TI: When you spend enough time in small confines together, you’re bound to see everyone’s real colors. I’ve always said that you never truly know someone until you live with them, same antithetic. But also, like I said, the rate at which we write good music seems to escalate the more we’re together and adding anyone else into that pot would kind of hinder us at this point. And, another thing is, it doesn’t seem necessary right now. I don’t know what we would truly gain by adding another person.

DL:  We have enough material to release two albums at this point, honestly, but when we get together and we jam and create, it’s just this chemistry. It’s just there, like he said, and if we did end up pulling anyone else in then it would hinder what we can do ourselves. I feel like we get done as much as we need to get done.

TI: I feel like we’d just know when we’d need to add somebody, we’re not just going out to go out and look for them, it would just happen.

SMF: Obviously, having a solid support system at home is important for any touring band, but I’ve found that it’s almost equally important for them to find that support, and to build connections, with people from other city’s. How has it been building those relationships, and what are some good and bad things that have come from them? 

TI: In some ways, it’s been easy, and in some ways it hasn’t been easy at all. A lot of it depends on where we’re going, first of all, in some towns it’s like we haven’t done enough research to even try and play [there]. It may just not be the right time, or there may just not be a scene there, really, or none there will have that interest in music. But that’s what touring is all about, it’s this giant trial and error. It’s been a real eye-opener. There are some city’s I thought would be a lot better than others, and you’ll get big surprises. That’s what I’ve gained from this tour, what to do and what not to do.

DL: New Mexico and Tucson may not be huge music city’s, but at the same time we’ve met people there that care and that care about the direction that music is going. We’ve met people that support us and have shown that they support us. It’s really inspiring to me when you go to those places and you meet those people that want the same things that you do.

SMF: I feel like you have to put a lot of trust into people. 

DL: Yeah, exactly.

KC: It kind of sucks that you have to do that though, because I feel like if you want to get something done, that you have to do it yourself. But, a lot of the time you have to rely on people to get stuff done for you.

DL: There’s a lot of factors that go into it, and trusting people in different city’s is a major part of that because you don’t know anything about that city, all you can go off of is what they say will help you in that city. Sometimes it bites you in the ass, sometimes it works out for you. Like Tony said, it’s all trial and error.

SMF: Where do you gather song inspiration, is there method to the madness, and have you struggled with getting what’s in your head on to paper? 

DL: We’ve hit brick walls many times when we’re writing.

KC: Some of the songs we have were written in five minutes. Musically, it came together with a whole structure. We record every practice that we have, so we’ll come up with something and be like “All right, cool!” They’re actually really good at remembering what they do in the middle of jams and stuff like that so we can just put it on the back burner. There might be something like a different part that ends up being all we needed to make another song.

DL: There’s been countless times where we’ve written songs and something else that we think will be a cool song that we put on the back burner and it fits perfectly into another song we’re trying to finish. It’s funny how things will come back full circle.

TI: When I’m writing lyrics there really is no set method for how it happens, they’re my sort of metaphorical observations of any sort of situation I’ve been in or something that’s happened to me personally. I’m a big fan of a metaphor because A, It opens up my writing to a lot of intricate word play and B, I mean, anybody can just say something, but I try to say it in a way that racks people’s brains a little bit.

DL: To say something that means something…that’s kind of the point of the whole process.

TI: And to still have it be entertaining.

SMF: Based off of the fact that you’re willing to sleep on someone’s floor for the sake of touring, what are you looking to gain from touring other than basic exposure? 

DL: Making connections.

KC: Just experience in general.

DL: There’s no getting around sleeping on floors unless you want to spend every dollar you make on a hotel room. Which, we’ve learned, is not the way to go.

KC: It sucks that your touring has to evolve around your budget so much, but it’s just kind of the way it goes.

DL: When you’re not on a label, and you’re doing it all yourself, it’s imperative to meet people that will let you stay with them. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s still a roof over your head. We’ve had some delightful experiences, and we’ve had come not-so-delightful experiences.

TI: Again though, it gets better every time, you learn a little bit.

KC: You build better connections with people so you know that no matter what, or no matter when you show up, you’ll always have a place to crash. That’s just been an improvement since we first started out-of-town shows.

TI: If you truly believe in something, and you do it as best as you can, and you simply refuse to quit then eventually somebody, somewhere, is going to notice what you’re doing and extend a hand to you. Whether that be a record label, or a venue, or a crowd, or even someone just coming up to buy a t-shirt and poster. But that’s it, it’s a game, it’s like the industry is testing out how much shit you can take before you either just walk away-

DL: Walking away is just not an option. We’re all too passionate about what we do to let it inhibit our drive.

TI: I feel stupid doing something else besides this.

ch36

 

http://www.thecolossalheads.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheColossalHeads

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#TheDesaparacidosDuo

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American Pastime

Most of my readers know how I could go on for days about the potential in Birmingham’s local bands/artists, and American Pastime is without a doubt, one of those bands. Thinking back, I don’t know what brought me to The Syndicate Lounge for a show that didn’t have any bands I had ever  heard of before, but there I was with my best friend and coworker Olyvia Kirk, listening to my first local pop-punk band. Little did I know that American Pastime, among others, would be so welcoming into what sometimes feels like their own world they’ve built. Any member of the band will offer up a humble, and somewhat belittling, opinion of their own sound, but it’s my opinion that American Pastime absolutely holds some of the best local talent that there is to offer, even with newly added members. From conversations I’ve held with fellow friends and fans of the band at various events including the successful latest house shows, many would agree that lead singer for Runner Up, Chuck and American Pastime, Mylon Robinson, is one of the most underrated singers we have in this scene. But given his raw talent that has been making an undeniable and at times, controversial, impact on the local pop-punk scene, I don’t see American Pastime flying under the radar for too much longer. Or, at least, I hope not. Olyvia and I spent the day with this band after months of following local happenings and came to an agreement that each member was genuinely kind and held a certain uniqueness to them that together formed an endless positive energy to be around. For anyone wanting to branch out to the local scene, please do yourself a favor, and start out with great bands like this that are constantly working to improve the scene and slowly build what I’m sure will be nothing less than empire in time.

From Left to Right: Austin Peak, Micah Lamb, Cody Peak, Julian Currie, and Mylon Robinson.

SMF Live: Go ahead and start out with the band history including previous members Christian and Evan.

Mylon Robinson (Vocals):We should call them men-bers. Me and a friend, Brad Thomas, started jamming and I met Micah. So, I was like “Hey, come play guitar because he sucks, and I suck, so we need someone who can actually play guitar.” So Micah was like “I suck too.” and I said “Great, you’ll fit right in, lets try this.” Micah and I jammed in that band for a while, and it was going absolutely nowhere, so we pretended that we were going to start another band when really we were just going to kick [Brad] out.

SMF: Do you want this in-

MR: No, it’s cool! He understands, we’ve talked about this.

Austin Peak (Bass): I’m sure he gets it now.

MR: Micah and I started writing acoustic stuff at my house.

Micah Lamb (Guitar and Vocals): I remember that first night we wrote, like, five songs in that one night. Two of them are on our EP.

MR: Later Micah and I decided that we didn’t really know how to sound like a full band…without being a full band. So we got all of our friends that we knew would be interested in participating in a band, and we all ended up living together about a month later. That’s how we ended up writing our EP, pretty much, was by sitting in the living room. Flash forward, now-

SMF: What happened to the men-bers?

MR: We decided that, due to time constraints from other priorities and engagements, that it would probably be better if we decided to go our separate ways since none could make practises. So, for the better of the band, we decided to move forward and add these two [directed to Cody and Austin] who have all of the time in the world to be playing with us.

SMF: What is everyone’s personal history with music? What introduced you to music and how have you evolved as an artist thus far?

MR: I’m not in my final form!

SMF: You’ll go last.

MR: Dang it!

Cody Peak (drums): Okay, I started out- how old are you in the sixth grade? Ten?

SMF: A little older, like, twelve.

CP: Okay, so at eleven, this drum set showed up at my house and Dad said “Figure it out.” So, we figured it out, Austin and I until he gave up.

AP: Yeah, I just decided to give up on that a long time ago.

CP: Middle school rolled around, and you have to decide what you’re going to take, so I picked band. I picked drums-

AP: Naturally.

CP: Naturally, of course, all the way through middle school and all of the way through high school. When college rolled around, I knew the guy that taught drum line at The University of Alabama, and he told me that he thought that I could make it, so I tried and made it. I played quads for one year at Alabama, studied music for one year, and that didn’t pan out because I realized I didn’t want to be a band director because I do not like children. So I quit my band directing major, and a friend in Tuscaloosa asked me “Do you want to be in a band?” “Yes.” but I should have asked what kind of band first, because then I found out it was a bar band and we played-

AP: Dave Matthews cover band!

CP: Awful songs, we played terrible music, Dave Matthews-

SMF: You weren’t kidding about the Dave Matthews thing, oh my god.

[Laughter]

CP: No, dead serious. It was fun because I got to play. That lasted for six months, then I was like “I’m tired of this” so I quit that, moved back home here to Gardendale, and met all of these guys that worked their way through old members and asked me if I wanted to play. This is the music I’ve always wanted to play, and now we’re here.

ML: We’re actually a Dave Matthews cover band.

MR: I was going to say that!

SMF: What about what you listen to?

MR: I got this.

CP: I bet Mylon can do this for me.

MR: I can! Okay, number one, All Time Low-

CP: Right.

MR: Dave Matthews.

[Laughter]

MR: State Champs and American Pastime.

CP: For about two weeks straight, I’ve been listening to American Pastime.

AP: You still listen to Maylene, don’t you?

CP: Yeah, I still listen to Maylene, and all of the old stuff like Underoath, Maylene…who else? I wish Fixed Til Tuesday was still a thing.

AP: I don’t.

CP: Well I hate you too. I grew up listening to the old stuff from Blink 182 and Green Day.

AP: Typical.

CP: Typical stuff, the same stuff everyone else in here is going to say.

MR: I got Flo Rida-

CP: I forgot, Yelawolf is a total influence. [Laughter] Seriously though, I forgot to add Emery, I love them.

ML: I bet I’m the biggest Emery fan in this entire room.

CP: You probably are, I really liked them back then.

ML: I was in middle school and high school band, and marched on drum line.

CP: There we go!

ML: My Dad was a youth pastor, and one Wednesday he told me I had to learn how to play bass in two hours, so I did and that’s how I started to teach myself how to play bass and guitar. I was in a really crappy hardcore-ish band in high school.

MR: Go ahead and tell them the name!

ML: Warriors Prevail.

[Slow clapping and laughter from Mylon]

ML: Julian was our number one fan but, obviously, that band didn’t pan out. After that, I was in a metal band, and we played three shows, we were called Seek It Like Silver, and that was a really fun band to be in but, again, it didn’t pan out. I moved out of state, and came back, and hooked up with Mylon-

MR: You know what he means.

SMF: Mhm.

Mylon: We hooked up all right!

AP: And then they made a band together!

MR: Out of all these guys, I’ve known Julian the longest, I’ve known Julian since my crappy hardcore band. Influence wise, I was really into the hardcore/metal scene back in the day, so [I listened to] bands like In Irons, and of course Fixed Til Tuesday was fantastic…stuff like that. As for now, I’ll listen to anything, Colbie Caillat is one of my favorites, and anything acoustic. The Story So Far is good-

CP: This Wild Life?

ML: This Wild Life is mediocre at best.

CP: Shut up.

ML: Just kidding, I love them. Mylon?

SMF: Give me your whole story like these guys since you didn’t with Runner Up, Chuck!

MR: It was all in the beginning when I was born in a hospital and my Mom smacked my ass-

ML: Those are side notes.

MR: Right, okay, we’ll get back on topic here. Growing up, my Dad was a youth pastor and he was like “Hey, you’re going to sing in church” So I went “Oh, okay, cool.” And everyone thinks I’m joking when I say this, but I wanted to be the next Usher when I was ten. I definitely wanted to be Usher.

ML: I’ve seen it.

MR: He has! So, I wanted to be the next Usher but that didn’t pan out, because apparently I’m white and can not sing that good.

SMF: Can you dance?

MR: I can’t do that, either! Maybe that was the biggest part, that I didn’t know how to dance. I couldn’t wear Timberlands and slide either, so I was screwed. I had to let that one burn.

AP: It’s cool, because you have me to teach you how to dance.

MR: Right, he’s going to teach me how to dance, so I might be Usher soon. Be on the lookout for it. solorecord.com.

[Laughter]

MR: I was in a bunch of random bands, we didn’t even have names-

ML: There’s one band that had a name that you have to mention.

MR: I hate you, I’ll get there. But anyway, I was in a lot of random bands that played a ton of house shows that consisted of stuff like us getting really drunk and seeing if we could write songs on stage.

SMF: How did that work out?

MR: I don’t remember most of it, so it must have been great! After that, I ended up moving to Gardendale from Leeds, and I joined a band called Outside, that’s the whole secret band, the one I don’t mention.

AP: That’s that good-good.

MR: I did that for…eight months? Nine months? And I just completely quit playing music for a while.

SMF: Why?

MR: I was in a relationship at the time, and the girl was like “music is not going to do anything for you” so she made me quit music, pretty much.

AP: You saw how that worked out, didn’t you?

MR: Yeah, don’t let girls tell you that you can’t play music. I met Micah, and we started writing, and here we are. I still want to be Usher, or Johnny Craig, I’ll take Johnny Craig now days! Johnny is bae…Johnny I love you, have my babies.

ML: Johnny, if you see this, I love you.

AP: Is it my turn?

MR: Sure, Mr. I’ve-never-been-in-a-band.

AP: My story is going to start off a lot like Cody’s did because we grew up together, because I’m sort of his brother or whatever. He was eleven, and I was ten, and a drum set showed up at our Dad’s house. I have no patience, so I quit after about a week. Middle school rolls around, and of course, everything I did had to involve something that he was doing so I joined the band. I thought about playing drums and ended up playing trumpet. I played the trumpet for four years, I stopped playing it after my first year of high school, because I figured out that it wasn’t cool, so I joined the drum line with Cody.

CP: I yelled at him a lot.

AP: Yes you did. But anything Cody did, I wanted to do. All through high school we had friends that wanted to play in bands, so we tried starting one a few times and it would never work out. For six years I’ve been teaching myself how to play, or mediocrely play, every instrument I can get my hands on.

CP: He can play the beginning to any song on guitar, but nothing passed that.

AP: Because I don’t have the patience to learn the whole thing.

ML: That’s right.

MR: Raise hell, praise Dale.

SMF: I said that earlier today at the Flea Mall & Antique Center, I’m so ashamed.

MR: Don’t be ashamed, embrace it.

SMF: You guys are rubbing off on me in the worst way possible.

MR: No, it’s good!

SMF: There was just this framed picture of Dale-

MR: I’ve seen that picture.

AP: So, anyway, I’ve been teaching myself anything I can get my hands on, and then I picked the easiest one to play, which is bass. And I’m still pretty bad at it. My music influences are the same as Cody’s, because I wanted to be him for some reason, so it’s State Champs, The Wonder Years-

ML: Nickelback.

AP: Nickleback for sure, Disturbed-

SMF: Wait, so you’re not joking about Nickelback?

MR: No, he’s not, unfortunately!

AP: I’m not going to lie, I’ve listened to a good bit of Nickelback.

[This is where I embarrassingly start laughing so hard that I get out of breath, partially due to the other members of American Pastime singing “Look at this graph“]

SMF: I can’t-

MR: White girl, she can’t even!

AP: For some reason, they thought I could play an instrument, so they asked “Do you want to be in American Pastime? We’ve got an opening,” and I said “Sure!”

Julian Currie (Guitar): Growing up, I had a really musical family anyway, and my Dad was always into hair metal from the 80’s. And he can play the guitar better than anybody I know. My grandmother was a piano teacher, so she made me learn how to read music. My grandfather saw how much I loved music, so he paid for me to take piano lessons. Then, eventually, I met our ex-member, Christian Nielsen, and formed a band called Valiant Flight-

[Everyone starts clapping and yelling]

MR: Best band ever!

JC: with Will A.J., who is now the drummer for Nothing Til Blood. But we actually headlined over Gideon at one point in some of those earlier shows, so that was fun. Apart from that, I know people say they listen to everything, but I literally listen to everything.

MR: I love country music, I’m just going to throw this one out there-

JC: I’ll listen to it, it’s not my favorite, but I’ll listen to it.

MR: I want to start a country band.

SMF: I want to be in the country band!

MR: Yes, please! Right now it’s just Evan from Meadows and I.

ML: What can she play?

MR: What do you want to play?

SMF: Anything.

MR: Deal, you’re in.

SMF: I can play, you know, the bucket that has a string-

MR: You’re so in, you just have to look like you have dip in your mouth, just stick your lip out.

SMF: That’s disgusting, I’m out.

MR: Dang it! We just lost our first member!

SMF: I was the coolest one, you fucked up!

AP: You lost your coolest member all ready.

MR: This bands not going anywhere.

SMF: I’m so sorry Julian.

JC: No, it’s cool, but I play around with a lot of electronic stuff right now. That’s just about it for me.

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SMF: So what are some goals that you guys have as a band right now? Tell me about upcoming tours.

MR: We’re all going on tour with 50 Cent, and after that it’s Goodie Mob, are they even still a thing?

ML: Probably not.

MR: We actually have a tour at the end of this Summer.

SMF: What’s that tour called?

MR: Summer’s not dead!

[We all start cheering]

AP: Summer’s not dead, she’s sitting right here, we have it figured out!

[Collectively yell “Summer’s not dead!”]

MR: You guys are genius. We’re planning a few tours, but the only one confirmed is-

CP: Summer’s not dead.

MR: She’s just a lap ahead…good ole’ Dale Earnhardt joke.

CP: Dale’s not a joke.

[Silence]

MR: Some goals we have coming up are to record this new EP, and start sending it out to labels, so that maybe we can get a little support to go as far as our little hearts desire, and to keep going as long as people will listen to our terrible music.

ML: We’ll let them!

MR: We’ll let them, I’ll sing any song you want, it won’t be good…but I got you.

SMF: How will touring affect things at home?

ML: The band is like an organism that just kind of grows and evolves. Anytime you do anything with anybody, you’re going through life with these people for a while, but things change no matter what it is. Like, with the guys that were in the band, our relationship has changed, but it’s better because there was a lot of stress and pressure in that relationship that we didn’t need. I think it would be fun to be stuck in a van with these guys for five or six hours at a time.

AP: We did have a conflict last week on what song to cover, and we just flipped a coin!

MR: We typically flip a coin when we can’t decide on something. I guess relationship wise, as far as other people go, when we’re on tour distance can make the heart grow fonder or make it wander. So, if you’re in a relationship, it can completely so either way. I guess that’s my biggest fear.

 


“Raise hell, praise Dale.”

Super Bob

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SMF Live: You guys are from Washington DC-

Matt Santoro: Originally.

SMF: Where are you guys now, then? 

MS: We’re kind of spread out now, two of the guys live in South Carolina, one lives in Florida and I’m bouncing around.

SMF: How is the music scene where you’re from, and what differences have you seen throughout the country? 

MS: There’s a lot of differences, with the music scene where we’re from, there’s not a lot of rock music. There’s a lot of Indie, a lot of hipsters- a lot of rock bands won’t even go through the DC area. It’s different everywhere, rock music isn’t doing great, so it’s a little different everywhere you go. We stay out of major cities- [Matt pauses as I turn a page in my interview binder] you’ve got a lot of notes.

[Laughter]

SMF: So, what’s your personal history with music? 

MS: I listened to, pretty much exclusively, to rap music when I was young. Our guitar player, Adam, who’s my best friend, is how I got into rock music because, he needed a bass player, so he taught me how to play the bass and I started really enjoying it. Then we started looking for a singer…couldn’t find a singer, so he started singing but couldn’t write, so I was doing his writing. Eventually he was like “If you’re writing, then you’re going to sing,” but I couldn’t really sing but we decided to go with it and use my voice, which was somehow unique, so we went with it.

SMF: Do you have many rap influences? 

MS: Sure, anything you listen to growing up sticks with you, so now I sing a little, rap a little, and listen to everything from rock, rap, pop-

SMF: What kind of pop? 

MS: Anything, anything top 40, I like Taylor Swift a lot. We listen to everything. We’re definitely not one of those rock bands that’s only fucking rock, we don’t discriminate against music, if it’s good I’ll listen to it. Even if it’s a good country song I’ll listen to it.

SMF: What were your dreams and goals starting out, and how have they changed? 

MS: They really haven’t changed, everyone’s dreams and goals are to be the biggest rock band in the world. Obviously, we’ve gone about it a different way. We’ve been a full-time rock band for about four years without working any jobs, we’re independent, we have no record label or major management, we do everything ourselves. Our immediate goal is to get more help, so we can open some doors with some kind of management. Our long term goals are to get as big as we can get and to make as much money as you can make.

SMF: Did you grow up in a musical family? 

MS: No, my Father was an English major and my Mother was a cleaning lady.

SMF: What would your advise be for bands just starting out? 

MS: Don’t give up, it’s pretty hard, so don’t give up and don’t just follow what people say. You form a band and people will say “The goal of the band is to go out and get a record deal” so a lot of bands will go out and take an investor, purchase opportunities to get a record deal, and then they’ll sign a record deal and get lost in that record label. Once you sign, you don’t own your name, you don’t own your music.

SMF: Is that why you guys have held out some? 

MS: We haven’t held out, they don’t come looking for you, you have to actively pursue the record labels if that’s what you want. We just haven’t pursued it. Our goal has been to be self-sufficient and to build a career off of our live shows. We’re fortunate that we’re different enough to stand out at any show, whether that be good or bad, we stand out. We try to be polarizing so that people don’t go “Oh, Super Bob, eh.” you know? We want them to love us or fucking hate up, because that’s the kind of music that I like. My favorite rock bands are Manson, Tool, Deftones, those bands back then were fucking weird. And the first time I listened to Tool I hated them, but I went back and listened to them a couple of times and said “I actually love these guys” because I had never heard anything like it. We strive to be that kind of band, we are ourselves, so it’s good. Be yourself, don’t do what you think bands are “supposed” to do, I feel like rock and roll- there’s this mold for it, like you have to have so many bandanna’s tied to your pants, you have to write songs about drinking whiskey and you have to like drinking whiskey and write songs about strippers, because that’s “rock and roll.” I feel like people don’t break the mold enough. Rock and roll was never like that, rock and roll was the innovative music back in the day, but now it’s fallen way-side. Pop is more innovative, and rap is more innovative, and if you’re in a rock band you can’t try something because “that’s not rock and roll” and it didn’t used to be like that. So, be yourself, because everyone is going to tell you that you can’t do it.

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SMF: What advice would you tell yourself if you could go back? 

MS: [Pause] That’s a really good question, I’ve never heard that question before…looking back at what we’ve done, I wouldn’t really change anything that we’ve done. Obviously I would fill myself in on some things that took me a little while to learn, but most decisions we’ve made I’m comfortable with, from our purchases of vehicles, to where we tour, to how we’ve built our live show. I don’t think I would change anything we’ve done, obviously we could have done it quicker had I had the knowledge I do now, so I’d want to sit down and have, like, a two hour conversation with myself.

SMF: What were you doing before Super Bob? 

MS: Not much, really, we’ve been doing this for about ten years now. Before that I wasn’t doing anything, I didn’t have money, aspirations, or goals, so that’s been our focus for the last decade.

SMF: What is it that you like most and least about what you do? 

MS: Least, the driving, we’re on the road and we play about two-hundred and thirty days out of the year. What I like the most about it is absolute freedom, we’re our own bosses, nobody tells us what to do and it’s really nice.

SMF: How was it shooting recent videos like “Killer” 

MS: Video’s are fun, with the video for “Superfly” the girl that’s in it used to own a club we played in at Winchester. We got her to do the video and to bring her bartenders with her, so that was pretty easy, and we shot it in Winchester, Virginia. The video for “Freak” was shot in Savanna, Georgia and the girl in that video was my girlfriend at the time. And the “Killer” video, we also shot in Savanna at a water reclamation plant, so that was interesting.

SMF: We’ve been wanting to go to Savanna. 

MS: Really, it’s so nice!

SMF: I’ve heard that it’s really pretty. 

MS: It is really pretty!

Olyvia Kirk: I’ve been there once. 

SMF: I lived in Georgia for a while and never even went. 

MS: I lived there for a couple of months, and it was really nice, it’s a really cool town.

SMF: So, this is the album release tour, how has this album been different from other’s you’ve released so far? 

MS: This is album release, it’s been out for about two months now, but it’s our best album yet. We really found our sound in our last album with some dub-step stuff, and electronics, and on the new record we wanted to continue with that sound but go back over it lyrically a bit more aggressively, maybe a little bit more like how rock should be.

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Steels

When interviewing the previously featured band, Loose Ends, I found out that Steels would be playing along side them at The High Note. And, with no set-in-stone plans for my birthday, I figured why not spend it doing what I love with such an incredibly talented group such as Steels. To put into words how much I admire the blues rock sound of Steels would be nearly impossible, but in an attempt to do so, I’ll simply say I have been listening to their EP “On the Other Side” non stop since receiving that as part of a birthday gift from the band. Steels holds some of the greatest potential that I’ve seen coming from Alabama, and I can’t begin to imagine how amazing their full length, with an undecided release date, will be. Through working with musicians, you run into many “interesting” personalities, but each individual of the band was nothing less than kind and open throughout their time with us, and I sincerely hope SMF Live will continue to work with Steels as their undeniable path to the top continues.

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SMF Live: What were you guys doing prior to Steels, and how did you all come together? 

Justin West (Bass): It’s kind of a crazy story, me and Scooter were playing in a three-piece band with Bradley Williams, and we were playing until Bradley decided he was going to move to Ohio, settle down, and do a 9-5 job. We stopped playing until Scooter hit Chad up, and Chad was in Atlanta, but he just started coming out here.

D Charles “Chad” Robinson (Vocals/Guitar): They had studio time booked with the guy that had recorded my first band, so Scooter asked me if I wanted to come sing on the EP, and I went to Tuscaloosa one time, and that was it. We tried to make it work with me living in Georgia, but it just wasn’t happening, so last January I moved out here. Brett had all ready joined the band, Scooter was still playing with us but it didn’t really work out, so we asked him to be our manager. We got Gunner and that’s when things really began to come together last October.

SMF: How has your sound evolved over time with changing members of the band? 

Brett Mitchell (Guitar): It’s constantly evolving.

JW: I think everyone has a different perspective on it too, when the band started as a three-piece it was a lot more soul and slowed down, then we sped it up and began to write riffs over it.

CR: Once we got Brett, that really freed me up to write more complicated and interesting guitar parts. I think the last batch of songs on our EP are more soulful, and almost retro, to an extent. Now we’re really focused on taking riffs and guitar parts to help us not be enclosed to the whole singer/songwriter thing. Now we’ve got songs coming from different kinds of inspiration, whether it’s riffs or just a melody, and they all end up different. You have these different flavor songs, so more will be like singer/songwriter songs and others like “Mountain” is very driven and riff-based. It’s experimenting, really.

SMF: How supportive have people been at home and how was it for you coming from Georgia? 

CR: Good, it’s been different getting our foot in the door out here, but we’ve had help from the guys in different bands, like Loose Ends. I came from a band that didn’t necessarily have the best reputation.

SMF: Why? 

CR: Because, we were just bastards, we went hard. But thankfully I had a lot of friends that pointed out the error of my ways, so everyone in Atlanta has been supportive.

JW: It’s just like having two home bases, so it’s cool!

CR: Then, we have friends from Birmingham coming to Tuscaloosa to see us, but we’re really working to get the college crowd to actually come out to shows. The bar scene is a little crazy, so we’ll probably just come up with a cover set.

SMF: What would you cover? 

JW: Oh god [the band begins listing countless artists and songs] There’s so many songs, and that’s probably the reason why we haven’t sat down and done it, is because we end up like this.

CR: We sit down and we’ll have forty new songs.

SMF: I vote for, like, getting into some Duane Allman. 

CR: We’ve considered that, someone told us that we reminded them of The Allman Brothers, I’d love to do “Soulshine” or something like that.

SMF: Obviously, a big goal for an artist in your genre in Alabama, would be to make it somewhere like Muscle Shoals or something along those lines, so what are some goals for the band? 

CR: We have all talked about recording at Muscle Shoals, and that would be awesome, there’s a lot of history there. But for right now we’re really focused in on getting a fan base. We feel like we can become one of the bigger and best bands in Alabama, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be a full time band, that’s what we’re striving for, so we’re trying to make connections, get into venues, and meet with people like you that are very involved in the scene and pushing things forward. Birmingham is the next place, and we feel like if we keep working really hard and pushing to try to be the best musicians that we can be, then hopefully we can get somewhere with it. This is all I want to do, I live in Alabama to do this, I think all of us are really proud of what we’ve created in the past year and just want to see it grow.

SMF: “On the Other Side” is the EP, so when can we be expecting a full length? 

CR: No idea.

SMF: Has there been any writing going on? 

JW: We’ve got a couple of songs, but it’ll probably be out sometime next year.

CR: Probably the Fall?

JW: I was thinking of the beginning of the year.

CR: We really haven’t discussed it. We’ve been working on a song we’re all pretty satisfied with that’s a pretty big departure from where we’re at right now.

JW: It’s transposed from “Dream State” from “On the Other Side.”

CR: Right, we just turned that into a full song, other than that we have a board full of half riffs and a lifetime of material we need to work on.

Loose Ends

The more time I spend with local bands and musicians, such as Birmingham’s very own pop punk band Loose Ends, it hits me that these are people growing from a rich and meaningful history of Alabama’s music scene that has continuously lit fires inside of the hearts of each one of us. I originally met the band at a show at The Syndicate Lounge, I forget how I landed there being as I had never heard of any of the bands from that night before, but I grabbed Olyvia and we took off to see what The Syndicate Lounge and local pop punk bands were offering. In a way, Loose Ends, among others, was one of the very first bands that introduced me to this pop punk scene I was unfamiliar with, and I am forever thankful. This scene has embraced me with kindness and honesty. As I talk with the band, I learn more about their past including deceased loved ones and friends that were a heavy influence among the scene, constant personal battles of doubting and realizing their own life’s worth, and the meaning of what it feels like to fight for something you love. To fight for what you call home. I myself have spent countless hours, conversations, and messages for the sake of defending Birmingham’s scene, and meeting up with other’s who share that passion was a breath of fresh air. I’ve seen Loose Ends since then, and the show was involved with Darron Trussell’s wonderful sense of humor, and consistent energy from his fellow band mates, including their newest member Nick Simmons who famously has James Spann tattooed on his arm. Olyvia, SMF Live’s head photographer, and I arrive at Dillon Melancon’s home, where we sit and discuss what’s been going on for the band recently. Loose Ends is exactly what I look for when it comes to local pop punk, and I strongly encourage you to get a sense of feel of that for yourself with their latest EP “Can’t Win For Losing” jokingly known as the “most punk-rock coaster you’ll ever own.” I would have never thought smaller bands as the one’s I’ve interviewed here would have created such a strong wave of appreciation inside of me, and I would have thought wrong. Thank you, Loose Ends and fellow local bands, for allowing me to feel like family here, you will never know how much I have needed that.
With love,
Summer Ferlisi
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SMF Live: What’s the history of the band, how long have you guys been together, and where are you from? 
Darron “Bama” Trussell (Vocals and Guitar): We started out almost two years ago now. I’m from Sylacauga, Alabama, Dillon is from New Orleans but he lives here in Alabaster.
Ivy Hyche (Vocals and Bass): I’m from Bessemer.
DT: And Nick is from Mexico. [laughs]
Nick Simmons (Guitar): I’m from here.
DT: We’ve actually done a lot of changing, we started out as a five piece, and my little brother played bass. I was kind of the founding member and then got another guy to play guitar. The guy that was playing guitar basically said “Hey, I know someone that plays drums,” which was Dillon, and Dillon said “I know this guy who sings,” which was Ivy. We all got together and started playing, and the other two guys just didn’t work out.
Dillon Melancon (Drums): That was Sandcastles, which was the name of our first band.
DT: We started out as Sandcastles, and then changed our name to Loose Ends, became a three piece, and completely changed our sound. That was about a year and a half ago now. We had a hiatus for a couple of months until the three of us got together, played some shows, and got the ball rolling. Then, last week we knew it would benefit us to add in a second guitar player, and that’s when Nick came in.
SMF: How has your sound evolved from Sandcastles to Loose Ends? 
DT: Sandcastles, we were more like A Day to Remember or-
DM: It was more breakdown-y pop punk, like City Lights.
DT: It sounded like Major League, City Lights, and that kind of stuff. That was because everyone, with the exception of me, came from heavy bands. Dillon was in death-metal and hardcore bands, and Ivy was in really heavy bands, but when we met they were still really heavy and I wasn’t so the sound came out weird, it wasn’t us, it felt forced. We had a band argument, which is probably the best way to put it, and later the three of us got back together and started jamming and evolved. When we started [back as Loose Ends] we sounded like the early 2000’s, like Blink 182, pop punk. We became, I can’t really put a finger on what we sound like now, it’s just really driven rock while being very emotional about it.
DM: Sad, but rad!
IH: We’re really pissed off about how sad we are.
DM: Now, our music isn’t as forced as it once was, now everything that we write feels like it has meaning.
DT: Before, I’d write a song and say “Hey, let’s play this,” whereas now i’ll just say “I have this cool idea,” and everything just kind of happens.
 DM: Bama will bring a beginning to a song, and we’ll start playing that, and keep up with how it feels. That’s how we write our songs. I don’t want to say our songs are written by accident, but for a lack of better words, they were written by accident and then we tweak it.
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SMF: Nick, how did you come in? 
NS: Well, Dillon and I have known each other for years. I was riding motorcycles with my Dad a couple of weeks ago, and I ran into Dillon and Ivy at Starbucks-
DM: Dude, no, don’t tell them that. We aren’t white girls, tell them you ran into us at a bar!
NS: Well, they were out at the jogging track and I ran into them there!
SMF: You guys were at the gym lifting weights. 
DT: There you go, they were getting tour ready at the gym!
NS: So, I ran into them, and we were talking, and I don’t even know how it got brought up but he was like “We’re looking for a new guitarist,” so I said “I’ll play,” but I thought it was one of those things that wouldn’t actually happen.
DM: The next day he sent me a text saying “It was good getting to see you, let me know if you guys want to get together and jam.”
DT: I had known Nick because he had totally fan-girled over my last band.
NS: Thanks, man.
DT: And look at you now!
NS: They said “We’re going to Huntsville, just come with us,” so I went and hung out with them in the van and got to know these two guys [Ivy and Darron] a little better. It just clicked from the time I walked into the door.
DM: As soon as he walked through the door there was a good energy.
SMF: Lets touch base on Birmingham’s music scene. 
DT: Nice!
DM: No.
SMF: Because, Darron, you’ve always seemed very adamant about it. 
DT: I’m particularly adamant about the Birmingham scene, maybe so more than everyone else in the band, because I come from that “old scene” that everyone talks about. I was in a band called Jacket when I was maybe sixteen, which was ten years ago, so that’s how I know what people are talking about when they go into that old scene that was here. I don’t think the music of the music scene is what killed it, it’s mostly the promoters and people just trying to make money off of it, that have ruined the music scene.
DM: The attitudes.
DT: There’s a lot of attitudes, a lot of name calling, but I personally will do whatever it takes to help out any bands here in this scene. I book shows for multiple bands, I let bands stay at my house, and anytime somebody comes to me with a question I’ll always offer help because that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about helping each other and the Birmingham scene gets a real bad rep for whatever reason and it tends to hit me personally, because there are a lot of people out here really busting ass and putting their whole heart and soul into it. Just for people to be like “You should probably just skip over it and go to Atlanta,” is really disrespectful to every person here that is busting ass and trying to make this work. There’s a lot of new cool venues opening up, and they’re opening up because the scene is getting bigger. I hold the scene really close, because it’s where we’re from, but it’s kind of a double edged sword. A lot of times we’re proud of it, a lot of times we’re not, but it’s still ours. Like a little brother, you can talk shit about it, but nobody else can.
SMF: I’m from Georgia, and here it feels like a big welcoming family, and I’ve never felt that anywhere else before. 

Runner Up, Chuck!

Big changes have been happening for the Talladega based punk band, Runner up Chuck, and SMF Live was fortunate enough to talk to them before “officially” announcing their new singer, Mylon Robinson, current vocalist of American Pastime. As many readers may know, I’m not usually one for getting up before noon, and I completely blame the music industry for making me that way, but fate brought me to wake up early that day to send them a message in regards to the interview time. A ten o’clock interview time.

“You can come sooner if you’d like, we are about to go and get some groceries and make some breakfast!”

I quickly respond with a plea for coffee, and it works! After, naturally, making a u-turn back to the house studio I pass despite my GPS, Lisa, and Chase Reaves, Runner Up Chuck drummer, waving outside of the door while on the phone with me, I make it to my destination and I’m greeted by him along with an Adam Levine clone that asks me if the vanilla caramel coffee creamer in the fridge “works for me”. I can tell it’s going to be a good day, so I sit coffee-in-hand with the guys to talk about the local band everyone has endlessly told me about, and come to a quick understanding of what all the fuss was made of. Everyone was laid back and friendly despite the possible morning terror aura I may have had pre-coffee. Great music pours out from this band including singles like “Memories” from “Better Luck Next Time”, and I for one, am thrilled for the upcoming full length album.

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SMF: How was the group formed? 

Joseph Strickland (Vocals and Guitar): It started out with me doing my own solo thing, I had been in a previous band for about ten years, but I finally just got to the point where I said “I want a band.” So I got my brother, David, to sing and somewhere along down the line we met Shwick and I said he needed to come play bass with us.

Tim “Shwisk” Spickard (Bass): Fun fact, I showed them I knew how to play bass by playing around on an old school bow…like a bow and arrow.

JS: I met Cody through a mutual friend and found out he played guitar. We spent the longest time trying to find a pop-punk drummer, so we just posted that on Facebook and a friend of ours, Matt Powell, tagged Chase in the status and said “You guys need to hook up.”

Chase Reaves (Drums): I worked for him at the time and I was in a death-core band! So I went from death-core to pop-punk.

JS: We went through our first rehearsal, and just knew, then we met Mylon!

CR: It was at that house show! Bryan (Luckyhorse Recording) referred them to us.

Mylon Robinson (Vocals): Thank you Bryan!

Bryan Papic (Producer/Engineer): Ain’t no problem, I love you guys!

SMF: So, you’re singing for the band now [directed towards Mylon], how did that work out? 

TS: David is moving to North Carolina, so Mylon is the permanent replacement, and we’re wanting to really debut that with this tour and upcoming full length album.

SMF: What is that going to be called? 

TS: Flee the Scene.

SMF: What are some influences? 

JS: For me, it ranges, from 90’s alternative all the way up to modern pop-punk like Story So Far. My biggest influences are probably Blink and New Found Glory.

Cody Johnson (Guitar): I’d like to say that I think we all have a good bit of Blink influence.

TS: Definitely.

CJ: But for the most part we all come from different musical backgrounds. I’ve always listened to a lot of metal like Periphery.

CR: I knew the first thing you would say would be Periphery!

CJ: But, there’s some other stuff, it’s just a big mixing pot.

JS: You’ve got three metal heads in a punk band.

SMF: And family influence? 

CR: My family does influence me because I’m, like, the sixth generation musician in my family.

TS: Not me, my family doesn’t do anything [as far as music is involved], I’m the first generation in music which is why I’m so terrible!

JS: I grew up in a very musical family, my Dad has been playing music for fifteen years now.

CR: Mylon, you can say something about your musical influences.

MR: I can say something? Dude. Britney Spears for real.

[Laughter]

MR: I grew up on N-Sync and Britney Spears!

SMF: What are your goals for this year? What’s the farthest you’ve gone from home on tour so far? 

TS: The farthest we’ve gone for a show so far is Florence, Alabama. But we’ve got a tour right now that’s kind of under wraps, we’re hitting Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Florence again. We’ve always had a good response, there’s a big death metal scene.

SMF: In Florence, really? 

TS: Absolutely, they love us there.

CR: The last time we were there it was three death-core bands and then us.

JS: We were the only punk band!

CR: We got up there and said “We’re pop-punk, so, sorry you guys.” But they were even stage diving! We had the biggest crowd response from that entire night.

TS: There was one song we were playing and we said “All right, this is the circle pit song, guys!” And they started one! We weren’t even playing yet, we were still tuning, and they started the pit. But, anyway, the goal for this year would be to get signed to a label and with this new album we definitely see that potential. It’s a huge step up for us musically. We’ve put in one hundred percent of our effort and talent into this and, of course, now we’ll get to add Mylon’s sexy voice!

SMF: Will David be on the album at all? 

TS: He’s going to have a guest spot.

SMF: How do you manage personal conflicts in the band? 

TS: Basically, we’ve set up a democratic voting system, called The Band Vote. If you’re out voted, then that’s the end of it, you’re done.

JS: The problem is, when David is involved, you’ll have four guys all trying to be the alpha male on certain things. David tends to take things really personally and Chase really likes to instigate everybody else. Schwick butts heads mostly with David and myself and Cody is just like-

CJ: I’m here.

JS: He’s just here.

TS: After all it said and done though, we’re literally spending every weekend together, we’re brothers and all love each other.

CR: There’s really no conflict that has lasted more than, like, an hour.

SMF: What goes into choosing your instruments/equipment?

JS: I’ve been through so many different guitars and amp rigs because I’m just constantly chasing tone-

TS: And never achieving.

[Laughter]

JS: Anyway, my main guitar that I use is one I actually built myself. It’s a Fender Stratocaster copy.

CJ: I’ve lucked out on any piece of gear I own. I’m playing on an Orange 4×12 cab, which is…I’m beside myself.

JS: It’s phenomenal.

CJ: I’ve got one Schecter Hellraiser Delux, is that right? It’s got active EMG’s and-

JS: 81/85.

CJ: And a Fender Tellocaster custom that, also, has EMG 81/85. Schwick?

TS: Okay, well, when I first started playing in the band I was having a rough time and had to sell the Ibanez five string I had.

JS: Who needs a five string?

TS: If you’re playing metal you do. But, anyway, I had to sell that with a crappy cab I had. Joe custom built what was basically a Fender Precision Bass four string.

JS: Use the term “custom built” loosely.

TS: It was awful.

JS: I built it out of necessity!

TS: I played it for a while.

SMF: Even with as horrible as it may have been? 

TS: It did its service.

CJ: It made noise, sometimes!

TS: I was playing through a guitar cab too.

JS: Yeah, we had a Marshall 4×12 cab.

TS: Was that the stupid thing that kept fading in and out?

CR: Yes! God, it was terrible.

TS: But we did what we had to do, everything served its purpose.

CR: My first kit was a crappy Pearl kit. Now I use a Meridian Black Raven Mapex kit. I had all Zildjian cymbals, but then I got my endorsement with TRX, and now I’m using a 14″ hat, an 18″ crash, 20″ crash ride, and a 7″ t-bell as thick as sin.

JS: It’ll cut you in half.

MR: You promise?

[Laughter]

TS: I’m sorry we don’t do professional interviews.

CJ: What’s that word?

MR: I failed that class.

CR: But I use Pearl Demon Drive pedals, I’ve got to throw that one in, they’re beautiful.

MR: I use whatever microphone that fits into my hand.

SMF: Do you play anything? 

MR: I play guitar.

[Silence]

SMF: All right.

CJ: Go through the history!

MR: You don’t want that! [Pause] I know all All Time Low songs on guitar and almost all Blink 182 songs.

CR: That’s why you’re going to be such a good fit to the band.

MR: I know, right?

TS: We can’t even express how thrilled we are to have you in the band. Not saying we don’t love David, because we do, he was a great fit and can write some killer melodies but with him stepping down we just couldn’t think of a better match than Mylon.

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“You Promise?” 

The Colossal Heads

It’s hard living in Birmingham and going to a show that doesn’t have the best turn out, especially seeing it if it’s making a first impression with someone or a group, but I’ll be damned if I won’t be there to make them feel like there’s hope still left for us here. There’s a seemingly endless supply of talented musicians with equally enthusiastic supporters, but somehow in the mix, it turns into this fight like pulling a tooth out of a tigers mouth to get people to come out to a show! I can’t begin to tell you about the wonderful memories and even more wonderful relationships that have blossomed from showing up to a $5 show of mostly of bands I’ve never heard before, and I probably will never be able to wrap my head around why someone wouldn’t spend $5-7 in order to hear raw, heartfelt, music like I heard tonight.

Previous to this night at The High Note I had never heard of The Colossal Heads, a three piece punk/grunge band from New Orleans, but when they began to play the entire room was captivated. Mind you, I came to the show with every intention of simply being able to sit back and take it all in for what it was, but that was before the realization of how strong of a group this was and that I’d always be kicking myself if I let them slip through my fingers. So, as “unprepared” as I may have been, I somehow managed to get them to stay with me for a short interview before everyone called it a night. Much thanks to my wing-man of the night, Rachel Thornton, with the iPhone that saved me and the interview. Like I said, I was unprepared, but my stubborn ass wasn’t about to settle for any other interview other than the old fashioned face-to-face way of doing things, something SMF Live has yet to compromise.

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SMF Live: What’s a little history behind the band, are you all the original members? 

Tony Italiano (Lead Vocals and Guitar): We are the original members and probably the only members that will ever be in the band.

Danny Lester (Bass and Backing Vocals): We’ve all agreed if anything happens to where one of us is leaving, this whole thing is done.

SMF Live: How long have you been together now? 

Kyle Carroll (Drums): Almost two years since we started playing.

SMF Live: So what was going on previously to the band? 

DL: We were all doing pointless stuff.

TI: I was in a few bands at home, doing session work, sitting in a lot of situations in New Orleans. New Orleans is kinda give and take, everybody knows everybody, it’s a small city. Me and Danny had played in a band a year or two prior to this one for a very brief time called Grenade Man, a band he had started, and I had come in playing bass and I did some guitar but our heads were just in different places so it really didn’t work. I met Kyle through a bar owner I knew from this place called Banks Street Bar. We had tried to get something off of the ground with the owner, but it didn’t work out. Again everyone’s head wasn’t in the right place. But fate, so to speak, brought us back together in one band.

SMF: What inspires your sound? 

DL: Marijuana

KC: Porno

TI: Hunger…old Xanax.

KC: We all listen to different types of music and that’s kind of why it’s hard to put a label on our sound, but that may be because we’re on the inside of it.

DL: I think we’ve finally come down to desert punk grunge.

KC: That’s what we settled on. We all listen to different types of music and we all come from completely different backgrounds. Sometimes Danny can put something on and Tony and I will hate it or I can put it on and Danny and Tony will hate it-

TI: Either way I usually hate it.

DL: If it’s not Oasis Tony hates it!

TI: If it’s not British then…fuck it.

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SMF: What was your first big [impression] in music? 

DL: Well the first show I ever went to was Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dog at the New Orleans arena and that changed my life. Ever since then I said “Fuck it, I need to play music.” So I had a guitar and I learned all of John Fruscianti’s parts from Chili Peppers and built my own sound out of that. I taught myself how to play so I can’t read a shit lick of music. I think all of us are self taught honestly-

KC: Well, I took lessons for a couple of years to [learn] to read music and stuff like that. I can still read it, but if you can’t read drum music then you can’t read anything else! Drum music if the easiest to read out there. I used to sit in my room and play a bunch of upbeat punk music but later I tried to throw some finesse in there once I got older and started listening to some funk music.

TI: When I was younger in grammar school I soon discovered The Beatles and soon there after discovered drugs. Somehow I managed to learn to play guitar in that blur.

SMF: Any memorable moments on stage? 

TI: Fuck no!

KC: I actually have one! We were on the stage and during our last song Tony goes like he’s about to start taking his pants off. He pulled his belt off and started beating his guitar with it! That was memorable because nobody knew what he was going to do! The crowd stood there in awe because they probably thought he was about to pull out his junk or take a crap on the floor. It worked out for the best though, he just started beating up his guitar.

SMF: What do you think you’d be doing now if music hadn’t come into play? 

TI: I’d be doing not a god damn thing because that’s the only thing I’m good at outside of music. It’s like asking what would a bird do if it didn’t fly. It would cease to exist.

DL: I don’t know, penguins seem to have it figured out!

SMF: We’ve covered a little bit of the past, so what are goals right now? 

DL: To tour forever!

TI: I’d love a sandwich.

KC: Well, yeah, a sandwich and a bed is the goal right now but as for long term goals we definitely want to be touring as much as possible, get to every state, and put ourselves out there as much as possible. 11127839_10202535691673532_884881756_n

Rachel and I stay around for a little while longer and discuss the upcoming full length album recently recorded in Houston, Mammoths, until we leave them to go find their bed and sandwich before heading back onto the road. The Colossal Heads is the first band from NOLA I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and they certainly know how to set the standard.

http://thecolossalheads.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-colossal-heads-ep-ep/id873238070

https://www.facebook.com/TheColossalHeads?fref=ts


“Here’s to our first and last show in Birmingham…but you were lovely.”

Avenue of The Giants

aotgSMF Live met the Atlanta based band prior to a show in Birmingham’s Matthews Bar and Grill. Catching them before hitting the road to Austin, Texas and a win at the first round of Hard Rock Rising’s Global Battle of the Bands, we all crowd into the van to talk about what’s happening for Avenue of the Giants.

Smf Live: Let’s start out with who founded the band and give us a brief history. 

Devon Lewow (AOTG Lead Vocalist): Foz and I actually started the Avenue of The Giants September of 2011. We both were professional musicians and didn’t really think about being in a band together, but, we made some songs and those songs turned into a set- do you want to take it from here Foz?

Foz Rock (AOTG Lead Guitar): I had just come out of a band called Rehab and wasn’t looking for anything to make me jump back on the road. We wanted to be more of song-writers rather than touring musicians, but as the music came together and the crew started to build, we quickly realized that we needed to take this to the public. And to see how people reacted, its been great! It’s really been great.

SMF: Did you sell any of your songs? 

Both: No, we kept everything!

SMF: So where did you two come in? [Directed towards Justin and Darrick] 

DL: Justin and I knew each other for years. We played in another band together and Darrick was the engineer for the first record.

FR: But we’ve had this line-up since October of 2013, so it’s been going pretty solid.

Justin Aldrich (AOTG Bassist): I think we’re a pretty good unit at this point.

Smf: What are influences and inspirations? 

DL: My parents were in the music industry. My Mother was one of the highest ranking females in the music business on the executive side. For a musician it was good going into a recording and knowing what the people in the board room were actually talking about. I had that and my Dad was also an executive at Capitol EMI. Musically, we were born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s, and love Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Incubus, 311…I know Foz will probably say Jellyfish and stuff like that. Modern  there’s Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys- rock is still very much alive and well. And I’m happy to see it.

FR: Other than that I’d have to add Guns n’ Roses. Slash is a former-fave guitar player. Jimmy Page, Jellyfish for sure, Queen. Non musically, my family, they immigrated here from India in the 60’s. Other than that, everything I come in contact with every day is an influence.

JA: Let’s start with non-musical first, because that can be difficult when you eat, sleep, and breathe music and it’s your passion. My niece and nephew and the way they just tackle life, they keep me on point for sure, they inspire me to be a better person. Musically the gambit is endless. I’d have to go with the classics like Queen- big arena rock. And my sister, she’s an orchestra major so that’s been an influence for sure.

Darrick Atwater (AOTG Drummer): I’m going to sound a little generic at first but my non musical family comes from friends and family. Not so much inspiration as it is me wanting to impress certain people. I grew up well off but I faced personal struggles with drugs and that kind of thing. I’m a recovering addict, so really just to impress them and be able to say “Hey, I’ve done good.” and keep moving that way. Musically, basic 90’s stuff. I came to my own with post-punk music like MCR, The Used, Taking back Sunday, and all of that shit.

SMF: What were your first concerts? 

DL: Van Halen 1985, it was the 5150 tour and my Mom took me. My Mom and Dad both worked the record, so I got to meet the band, and that became one of my first living memories. David Lee Roth is the reason I’m a front man to a band…it’s not the spandex.

DA: It’s totally the spandex.

SMF: How old were you at Van Halen? 

DL: I was four.

FR: Mine was Bon Jovi and Skid Row. What was yours? [Directed towards Justin]

JA: Aerosmith, the 9 lives tour.

DA: 311

DL: But would you say those were the best concerts?

FR: The best show I saw was Jellyfish opening for The Black Crowes on both of their first albums. Pretty amazing. Well, I think Jellyfish had two albums released by then.

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SMF: How would you describe your music and how has it evolved since starting out? 

All: Real.

DL: Undeniable rock n’ roll.

DA: That’s kind of presumptuous.

DL: It’s not! It’s not like we have to force our music. We want to write songs, great songs, and a lot of that stuff just happens naturally. But we don’t settle, I don’t want to say we don’t want to fluff, but we don’t want to make any songs we wouldn’t want to listen to ourselves.

FR: And we like radio music.

DA: I mean, it’s popular for a reason.

SMF: What was the moment that it hit you that you wanted to stick with music? 

DL: You heard mine, I was four.

FR: I saw Live Without a Net by Van Halen. We’ve got a lot of Van Halen influence in the band.

DL: They’re amazing.

FR: Yeah, remember when he does that eruption guitar solo on stage? He sits there and just lights a cigarette-

DA: And he looks so tiny on this giant stage-

FR: It was a huge stage! And that’s when it hit me that “Yeah, I want to do that.”

DL: A full reintroduction to it maybe was when Wayne’s World came out and the gravitation back towards Bohemian Rhapsody. That was a huge song in the 70’s that everyone rushed back to in 1993. It was inspiring to me to see that music forefront again. It’s timeless music.

DA: Mine was my parents plopping me down in front of a piano when I was a kid and [they] let me play away at the keys. I was like “Oh shit, these sounds, those are fantastic!”

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SMF: So what are your goals right now? 

FR: To continue to book shows and tour so we can get our music out there…and to work on album number two!

SMF: What advice would you put out there for those who are just starting out? 

DL: Close your mouth and do a lot of listening. There are a lot of people out there that do a lot of big talk and that will promise you the world. Everyone in this band has been doing this for a long time and I know I would say to listen more than you talk for sure.

FR: Pull your sleeves up and work your ass off.

https://www.facebook.com/AOTGMUSIC

http://www.aotgmusic.com/

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Synical Deliverance

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SMF Live’s head photographer, Olyvia Kirk, and I arrive at The Nick an hour ahead of schedule, being our first time there we’re left to nothing but the disinterested blonde bartender that “checks” our I.D.’s and then leaves us to end of the bar to make our usual conversation for what ends up being almost two hours before Synical Deliverance, a Birmingham Electronic Industrial band, makes their way in. We’re greeted by Synical’s frontman Aaron Slaughter, who then introduces us to his fellow band mates and long-time friends, Ryan Mitchell and Matthew Daniels, before pulling up a chair next to us to chat and eat dinner before making his rounds to begin setting up and introducing himself to others at the bar. By that time, I start mapping out plans for the night and Olyvia heads to the bathroom, only for me to be greeted by a lanky man while the blonde bartender is walking out from her shift.

“Let me see your I.D.”

I hand it to him, as done before, and tell him my friend is in the bathroom but has her I.D. to show him once she comes back. It takes him a solid five minutes of math in his head before he says

“Yeah, no, you guys need to leave. Is you’re friend 21 because that’s how old you have to be to stay here.”

Under my breath I kindly thank the previous bartender for the heads up and grab Olyvia for us to head out. Matthew takes note of what’s happening and walks us outside to “Let Aaron know what’s going on.” And with Aaron’s persistence, we’re able to secure our end-of-the-bar seats until 12 o’clock with promises that Synical Deliverance will take the stage by 11:30, leaving us plenty of time to get photographs of them playing. Sadly, perhaps on this particular night, time was not the priority of the man doing sound. So much, that even within the time he was complaining about little things such as the amps from the opening band being in front of his speakers while they were in the process of loading their equipment, I managed to move them on my own in an effort to hurry it along while attempting to maintain  failed conversation with the shy bassist/singer from Coin Opportunity. Little did any of that help. Synical Deliverance begins their first song at 12:06, the exact time Olyvia walks up to the stage to begin taking photographs, the exact time I am approached by the same man insisting that if I don’t grab Olyvia at that moment the laws mighty wrath will strike down upon The Nick if we’re allowed to stay two more seconds to get any pictures in. With our kind escort, we leave the venue after a wasted six hours, with better hopes for our interview.

Flash forward two days, it’s a cold and windy morning and Olyvia and I are lost in Downtown Birmingham, calling Aaron for directions. Nothing out of the usual for us, and eventually we see his flannel covered arm waving down the road, and make it to the front of his house to pick him up. And this time, due to my intense lack of being able to be a proper functioning human before noon, we’re the late ones. But luckily Aaron is kind, forgiving, and a bit groggy himself as we head to Starbucks at Five Points South. We grab drinks and settle in for the interview at a table upstairs.

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SMF Live: How did you get involved with music? 

Aaron Slaughter: I remember my first experience with music being when I was five years old. Pizza Hut had this thing where you could get a Ninja Turtles tape with a large pizza, and my Mom got it for me! I still have it and it’s called “Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Their Shells.” I ended up memorizing the entire thing and just singing it in my bathroom. I think that planted the seed for me to become the singer that I am now. My Mom liked a lot of hair metal and country music at that time, so I listened to that growing up. When I started getting older and identifying with my own music I was listening to Nirvana, Green Day, and Live. Live came out with “Throwing Copper” which is one of the best albums ever. Mom noticed me getting into this music when I was eight and bought my first boom box. She got me Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, Green Day’s “Dookie”, and Live’s “Throwing Copper” on tape. Later, CD players started coming out, so I got the same albums just with some more on CD. The next thing to happen was when I was thirteen, I saw a video of Kurt Cobain, and said that I wanted to play guitar like him. At that time we didn’t have the money to get a guitar so I pawned my Super Nintendo. That thing meant so much to me, oh my fucking god, I am such a video game nerd! So we pawned that, then it was worth about $200, and the guy totally ripped us off. I got a six-string Stratocaster, which has since been stolen from me, someone broke into my Mom’s house when I was eighteen and stole my first guitar. But that’s how long I know I’ve been playing, because I got that, and started playing on my thirteenth birthday. It took me about a year and a half to two years before I could sing and play guitar at the same time

SMF: So you’re self taught? 

AS: Oh yeah! I taught myself using a program on Windows platform that taught me how to play Deftones, Korn, and all of that other stuff. So later [after I could play and sing together] I played my first show at Vincent High School in front of about five hundred people. I played Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea”  and my Grandmother, who has now passed away, showed up in the middle of it. That was a big moment for me, having her show up to see my play. I played my second show with some friends at Chelsea High School when they were having a talent show. I started the first real band I was a part of with a guy from that – Do I have to say the name of that first band? God it’s so embarrassing.

[Silence, and Aaron sighs]

AS: Psycho Monkey Newt.

[Laughter]

AS: It sounds like a bad chemistry experiment or something! But it didn’t go anywhere. Then when I hit eighteen, it was a big milestone for me, and I started listening to electronic music. Ministry being my big influence at that time. And I ordered my first drum machine, and that took me on the path of playing electronic music. So when I started to learn how to play that I started creating what would be the skeletons of the first album, “Hades”, which came out in 2008. I technically wrote the album in 2006, but started it in 2003, which is when I met with Ryan and we just played acoustic guitar and stuff like that until I said “Hey come check out this drum machine” and he loved it! So eventually I said “Why don’t we just start a band using this?” with a plan of when we started to play shows with it, that we’d just figure it out. Later I moved in with [who was basically my high school sweetheart] and she allowed Ryan and Matthew to stay with us. Matthew actually moved in for about a year, and you’d be surprised how much music you can get done living together if you take time to focus, and not just sit around smoke weed and drink like a lot of people are still just doing! You need to be sober and set your goals high for what you want to accomplish. So, like I was saying, when Ryan started coming over and jamming with me we started what would become “Hades.” I feel so old now. Looking back at everything, I’m like “God, I’m still here in Birmingham, and I know I won’t be doing anything until I get out of here.”

SMF: So what are your goals? 

AS: We have huge goals-

SMF: If you leave…would it be Matthew and Ryan with you?

AS: That’s the question. I’ve always wondered that if I decided to go off to L.A. or Seattle if they would go with me…I know Matthew would probably want to but Ryan just got married. I’d like to think Ryan would want to stay just as involved, because he sees the potential of the band, but our goals would be to get to bigger cities to play bigger shows and get signed to a label.

SMF: What would your advice for people starting out be? 

AS: A few years ago we were brought to a bad record deal by Dysfunctional Records, and the name alone should have told me not to mess with them. I think they’re still making money from us. We’ve never been payed for any of the music from Amazon, iTunes, or anything like that. Even right now you can still get online to buy our music and we won’t get paid a cent for it. My advice would be to watch your ass! And to get an entertainment lawyer. Stay away from stupid contracts – take it to your lawyer to read first! Get a jam space, like Uncle Bob’s Storage in Homewood, so you don’t get the cops called on you. There’s so much I could say on that topic. Always respect each other.

SMF: What would you have done differently? 

AS: When I was younger I wish I would have found a way to get a couple thousand dollars together to just jet it out of here to Seattle or L.A. I wish I would have went and at least know that I tried. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony bought a one-way ticket to L.A. for an audition and got a record deal on the spot. They just didn’t go back home.

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It’s not too much longer before the three of us decide that time is flying by entirely too fast, and that we should start to make our way to the shooting location, where we spend hours that day until we take Aaron back home while admiring old buildings downtown and talk about ex lovers, tattoos, and computers. Our day had a slow start, but was good once we got going, thank you Starbucks!

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https://www.facebook.com/iamsynical

Ensul

We end up here again, Olyvia and I in a town that neither of us have heard of before, making U-turns because, I refuse to admit I’m not as good of a driver as I am in my head, and we’ve got too caught up in conversation and singing along to Lana Del Rey to actually be paying attention to the directions. But somehow we manage to pull up to the home of Ensul’s lead singer, Stephen Jones, right on time. And to my surprise the rest of the band minus one, due to forgiving circumstances, are all there too. A punctuality miracle in the music industry. Ensul prides themselves on professionalism, both on and off stage, and it’s apparent and equally appreciated while working with them. Due to busy schedules in both parties, Olyvia and I come with somewhat of a game plan mapped out for the last minute photo shoot with the band before the interview begins. The question of where to set up sets in,

“I really didn’t think about that. Austin, give them the grand tour! Maybe you guys can figure something out.”

Austin Wesson, the bands lead guitarist, leads us through the house and we all pitch in effort in an attempt to figure out how to truly work with what we’ve been given, which isn’t much. Looking around the house I can’t help but to notice the air mattress to my left blown up in a room that I assume would be a dining room in other circumstances. I’ll be one to admit that in a typical man cave, I can be impressed by the simplistic creativity of a space,and this is one of those times. After looking at the mattress again for a moment, the light bulb goes off. Olyvia and Austin are talking between the make-shift studio and other part of the dining room when this hits me.

“Well, we do have this lovely air mattress.”

That’s all I need to say before Olyvia and Austin agree to my indirect suggestion and the idea is introduced to the guys. A moment of

“Is she being serious?” and

“Let’s do it!” followed by

“How in the hell is this even going to work?”

takes place before Steve pads into the room followed by the K-nine companion Doge and everyone else. Within moments I’m a happy witness to the hilarious pile of grown men on a small mattress.

“Who was the last person to have sex on this thing?” Someone asks, it’s hard to know which one is speaking due to turned heads, Austin yelling due to dropping a lit cigarette on himself while another man is laying on top of him, my laughter, and more continuous conversations that may or may not have had anything to do with the given situation they were in. Steve stops to think before answering the question.

“I actually think that is was *Susan. But I could be wrong.”

“That’s right.”

“Gross.”

The men stay in place seemingly unbothered, or simply unaware, of the conversation happening next to them. Eventually a continuous series of “Dude, don’t put your hand there.” and re-positioning takes place before Olyvia begins to take photographs. We go through several rooms until we finally feel confident that enough pictures have been taken, and settle in for the interview.

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SMF: What’s the history of Ensul? Because we have some original members and some that were later added in, right? How did all of that work out? 

Steve: [To Tristan] Do you want to take this one or do you want me to?

Tristan: No, I can take this one!

SJ: Alright man, take it!

TB: Steve and I started in two separate bands. He was in another band while Austin and I were in one called Finally United. I ended up meeting Steve from Craigslist and we got together with a guy names Zach to start Ensul. We got “Release the Virus” out and ended up having some problems so Zach left and we added Austin and Adam.

SMF: My favorites so far from listening to you guys would be “Shaving John Lennon” and “Politician Man” so I’m interested in the writing aspect. Who has been the writer for the songs and has that changes once adding new members? 

SJ: I’m glad you like those, because that’s some of our new stuff. We ended up disappointed with the last record. Not to say we didn’t try hard, we just didn’t as much as we should have. We cut a lot of corners.

SMF: Why? 

SJ: Timing, money-

TB: Internal issues-

SJ: Right, and we wanted to just get an album out. There were some things that were out of our control. I didn’t try hard enough to write the lyrics I should have for it. A few I thought were really good, “Politician Man” being one.

TB: “Politician Man” is actually the first song we wrote together as a band. Zach had that riff and Steve said “That’s cool, lets work with it!” and it went from there.

SJ: When we first came up with Ensul it was a three-piece band and Zach and I would trade up drums and guitar positions, depending on who originally wrote the song or whatever, but anyway since then our writing process has been 110% effort. We’ve worked hard, and I’ve killed myself writing these lyrics that mean something to me personally. Despite goofy name titles, there is meaning behind it. And I hope people figure it out. But for writing we don’t have any strict rules, usually it’s just me and I might grab one of these guys and say “Let’s try this out.” and then bring it to the band. But normally our stuff is made on-the-fly while jamming. So that’s our writing process! It’s stupid to put yourself into a box because then you’re missing out on more opportunities.

Austin: We don’t force it.

TB: We’ve never gone and said “Okay lets sit down right now and write this new song.” It just has to happen.

SJ: That’s why this new album is taking a long time. But the quality of this one is going to be a lot better, the production is going to be bigger, and the the engineering is going to be a lot better.

SMF: Any backlash that have figured out the meaning behind the songs yet? 

Both: [Not yet!]

SJ: With the new album I think a few people will be pretty offended.

TB: Yeah a few people will probably get pissed off, and we aren’t trying to do that necessarily, but it happens. We talk about what we know! We aren’t going to be up there talking about fucking eighteen woman at eighteen different shows or something like that, we’re going to stick with who we are.

SJ: It’s good to be a musician and being able to say what you want to say. To let all of that off of your chest. But the promoter guy that screwed over the guys from Sinema got called out and Jeremy said “Promoter fires at band, Ensul fires back with cannons!” Greg Harper deserved it though. He was a cancer to the music scene. And I would say that to his face.

SMF: From everything I’ve heard about him and things that have happened, both on and off the record, I can say I agree. 

SJ: And I got so many messages from calling that guy out, because it really needed to happen. Birmingham is too segregated in the music business anyway, with not enough working together as it is, so we didn’t need some guy diversifying us even more with money.

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SMF: Who are influences here? This can be your Grandmother or Pantera, or both, just whomever inspires you. 

TB: Musically there are a few bands that stand out. Led Zeppelin and, I really love Shinedown, because they are one of the only modern rock bands I actually like. As for people around me, I grew up around music, my Mom owned a bar where she had bands play and that’s how I got into it. When I was 13 I said “That’s cool!” and I wanted to play bass.

SJ: My three biggest influences are easy. Radiohead, Nirvana, and Eminem. I love the heaviness and aggression of Nirvana, the weird noises from Radiohead, and the lyrics from Eminem. Those are the three artists on this planet that have really affected me.

TB: We do have matching Radiohead tattoo’s because we love them so much. I didn’t say Radiohead because I knew he would.

AW: First and foremost for me is Slash-

[Laughter from the band]

AW: He’s the reason why I started to play guitar in the first place! But of course Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page. They set the bar for me. My Dad was in a band when he was younger so I’ve always listened to music and been around that, and he bought me my first guitar, at first I didn’t want to play but he talked me into it and I really liked it.

SMF: Now we go to the man that hasn’t said a word yet. 

Adam: Oh god. My musical influences would be Led Zeppelin and Foo Fighters, so definitely Taylor Hawkins, and for personal influences I’d say my brother. He’s always played drums. He’s a really good technical drummer so I looked up to him.

SMF: What about the flip side of things? How do you stay motivated when people are trying to discourage you? 

SJ: That’s just fuel to the fire!

AW: They are our motivation.

TB: Without them we’re nothing.

SJ: That’s how I’ve survived my entire life-

TB: Proving people wrong.

AW: If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it.

SMF: Goals for 2015? 

TB: If we could get that album out this year I’d be amazed.

SJ: The Ensul you see now is still very, very, young.

TB: Technically it’s been two years, but I don’t count anything until Austin and Adam joined, so in February it’ll be a year.

SMF: A big problem for bands is getting that exposure you need and pushing through the fear of an empty room. How do you get yourselves out there and do you think social media has helped in the way you’ve hoped it would? 

TB: I’ve faced plenty of empty rooms but with social media, a lot of people bitch about it, but I think it helps.

SJ: The problem is standing out. There can be a lot of saturation with social media. Now we just do it the old fashion way because no one is doing that anymore! We’re relying on word-of-mouth and going up to people and saying “Hey, check us out.” and handing out CD’s and posters.

TB: It gives you a personal feeling you can’t get from Facebook.

SMF: If you could go back to the beginning and give yourself advice, what would it be?

SJ: It would have been to get into the studio as soon as possible and get that experience out of the way. With my first band, I had never done it before, so when we got into this big studio I got overwhelmed.

AW: I wouldn’t change anything. I’m completely happy where I am and where I’m headed.

AR: For me it would have been to practice harder.

TB: I’m with Austin, I wouldn’t change anything.

SMF: Any mishaps while on stage? 

SJ: That would be every show.

TB: Austin falls every time.

AW: Every one. But it’s easy to be in the moment and cover up a mistake, so it’s easily forgiven.

SMF: What goes into getting a show and how does a day prepping for one go? 

TB: Play the entire set before.

SJ: I usually go about with booking the shows.

TB: He’s done it for a very long time and is really good with it! If I ever was in a different band I wouldn’t know what to do.

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We stay and talk for a while until the guys begin to unload the van of the music equipment still there and Olyvia and I decide it’s time for us to leave. She reassures me that she took enough photographs of the group and I double check that the recording has been saved onto my trusted iPhone and immediately make a mental note to myself that I really need to take Steve up on his offer for him to show me how to back up my interview files onto my computer. We leave with Pantera playing in the car and me swearing I know where I’m going this time, only to later make yet another U-turn even after Steve gave me directions to get back. I’ve known Ensul for a short period of time, but I leave confident in the interview, and in hopes that I will see them again soon, also blissfully unaware I would leave only to become obsessed with “Violent Dilliance” from their latest album. Steve’s voice is one I could listen to for years on end and never get tired of, and the instrumental side of things is nothing less of amazing. I’m blown away by Ensul, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.

http://www.reverbnation.com/Ensul

https://www.facebook.com/Ensulrocks

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“Hey, we always promised that we’d never have a serious photo shoot.”

“Never.”