For the first instalment of my coverage of Riot Fest Toronto 2014 I sat down with vocalist Adam Lazzara of pop-punk icons Taking Back Sunday. They’re now two albums deep with the reunited Tell All Your Friends line-up from 2002, yet the music they make now seems as far from that album as it can possibly get. I spoke to Adam about his perspective on his older material and legacy, plus how the “new-old” line-up mixed with the band’s commercial success from the years before the reunion.
Shot and edited by Chris Tung
Taking Back Sunday are on tour with The Used through October 6th including a stop in Winnipeg tomorrow. They’ve also just released a split 10” EP with The Used on Hopeless Records.
Detroit-native Carla Harvey is primarily known as the co-frontwoman of California modern-metal outfit Butcher Babies. The band has attracted an extremely dedicated cult of fans with their take on the 90s metal groove. Call it a more punked-up Pantera if you will. Released last year, their debut album Goliath, made a huge dent in the US charts. Carla and vocal partner Heidi Shepherd also gained a bit of notoriety from their old stage look consisting of electrical tape covering their nipples as a tribute to Wendy O. Williams (the band’s name is also a tribute to Williams’ song “Butcher Baby”). They’ve since ditched the tape and in addition to touring with heavyweights, they seem to be doing pretty damn well as a headliner in their own right.
Although it’s well-known amongst her fans Harvey has immense passion for writing. Many people first found out about the band when they released a comic book authored by Harvey at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. She’s just released her first novel, a semi-autobiographical tale called Death and Other Dances. Through the protagonist “Autumn Franklin”, the book explores Harvey’s youth and coming-of-age in Detroit from the adult entertainment industry to her earning her degree as a mortician.
The semi-autobiographical nature of the book, as well as her pre-existing fame, initially made me draw comparisons to Pamela Anderson who also wrote a book from a similar perspective. However when we get on the phone late one evening, and Harvey starts dropping names like Bukowski, I realize that she may have loftier ambitions. Harvey spoke with me candidly about why the book wouldn’t work as a conventional autobiography and how being a musician initially hampered publication.
You can find out more about Carla Harvey and “Death and Other Dances” at www.carlaharvey.com. Butcher Babies release a new covers EP “Uncovered” this Tuesday September 30th and will be touring across Canada in December/January with Black Label Society.
Photo by Tim Snow
Many people are familiar with “The Big 4” of thrash metal: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. For my money, California’s Exodus is #5 (although many metal nerds may go for Testament). The first time I saw Exodus was with then-new vocalist Rob Dukes, a former guitar tech who had replaced long-time singer Steve “Zetro” Souza. The crowd that night was a little sparse. But over the next few years they delivered three well-received albums and the venues started to fill up again. Guitarist Gary Holt had also started playing with Slayer, a gig which became permanent after the tragic death of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman.
So it took metal world a bit by surprise when the band announced they would be reuniting with Souza for their upcoming album Blood In, Blood Out. Nearly a week after their appearance at Heavy Montreal I had a chance to speak to Souza on the phone about the new record, his current relationship with the band, and how he feels about performing tracks from the Rob Dukes era.
Blood In, Blood Out will be released on October 14th on Nuclear Blast.
Photo courtesy of Heavy Montreal
On the way to my first Alestorm show I encountered a few concert-goers who were there strictly for the band’s pirate/alcohol-themed shenanigans, but had an obvious animosity for heavy metal music. That’s how Alestorm seemed to be viewed at first in the metal underground: The pirate-metal band with non-metal fans.
Now over six years later the band’s profile has changed. Often when speaking to younger metal fans or even their older relatives, I find that along with the usual diet of classics like Maiden, Priest, and Motorhead, young headbangers are clamouring for Alestorm. A good part of that is the band’s high level of musicianship and a style that dips into the old-school and mixes in a big dose of 80s glam and modern riffs. Their new album, Sunset On The Golden Age, is the most varied (and silly) of their career.
I should also mention that they’re all ridiculously nice, way nicer than they have to be. It seems as if the cult of Alestorm continues to grow one fan at a time. Every handshake, autograph, or moment spent reminiscing creates an attachment to the band. Whether it be at tent-pole Euro-fests like Wacken Open Air, or this years’ Heavy Montreal where I caught up with them, their sets are always over-packed at whatever third-tier stage they’re playing.
One more thing: the lads in Alestorm are also as silly as they are nice, so it’s pretty easy to get sidetracked during an interview. Still, we managed to talk about their young audience, window cleaning businesses, and their penchant for putting out visually ludicrous merchandise.
Alestorm are currently pillaging their way across Europe with Canadian support from Crimson Shadows.