Big Wreck To Showcase Canadian-American Rock In SoCal

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

Canadian-American group Big Wreck again returns to Southern California to share their music for those obliging to come listen to some authentic rock. The four-man group plays at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles Oct. 20 and Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco Oct. 21 as part of their current tour celebrating the release of their latest album …but for the sun.

Ian Thornley, who has been the lead vocalist and guitarist for Big Wreck since it became active in 1994, says concertgoers can expect a mix of both new and old.

“We’re focusing pretty heavily on the newer material on the new album, but we’ve been tempering the set with some old favorites as well. I think at this point we’re five or six shows in so we’ve found a pretty good mix.”

Though known for being more recognized in Canada’s music scene, Big Wreck actually began life in the United States, specifically in Boston at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Thornley says the group began as most bands usually do.

“We were students at Berklee College of Music here in Boston actually. It was just sort of like-minded music tastes that basically struck up a friendship and then it turned into a band. It’s a long story but that’s the gist of it.”

However, though the group’s beginnings began in the United States, their notoriety as a musical group is more grounded in Canada where the group enjoys noticeably more appearances and more airplay for their songs than in the States.

The music that has earned Big Wreck such recognition in the great white north is something that Thornley, when asked, has a hard time explaining.

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

“I’ve never really tried to. It’s rock and roll, I guess. There’s some rocky elements, there’s some bluesy elements, there’s some heavier elements and there’s even pop elements. But I would hope that it comes across as authentic. That’s the best I could hope for. “

Ask him some of the musical influences though and he is happier to oblige in answering.

“Hundreds,” Thornley says. “A lot of stuff from the 70’s. There’s Pink Floyd, there’s Led Zeppelin, there’s Genesis, there’s The Who and even Dire Straits and The Police. We have a lot of influences that run from Supertramp, Bruce Springsteen… too many to mention.”

Although the band has many fans and are popular in Canada, which ultimately led to a contract with Warner Canada, Thornley says he feels Big Wreck has yet to achieve global mainstream musical recognition. But he admits he’s fine with that.

“I’m still waiting for that one. I don’t have a plan B. Just stick to your guns, keep at it I guess, you know and then hopefully you can carve out a living. It’s a humble one but I mean if you’re in it for the right reasons I don’t think it really matters how big or successful you are. I mean, everybody wants a little more than they have.”

Thornley is always appreciative of the support Big Wreck gets and especially whenever the group comes to play in the United States and adds that, surprisingly, there is very little difference between playing in Canada.

“Like a lot of the U.S. shows for us, the crowds tend to be a lot smaller than they are in Canada. But the fans are rabid I guess because we don’t get here that often. We don’t play the U.S. not nearly as often as we do in Canada and so I tend to find that the fans are great. The shows are, like I said, smaller but there’s a great appreciation from the fans for us making the trek.”

Beyond the group’s upcoming appearances in Southern California and the rest of their tour, Thornley says Big Wreck intend to take it easy.

“I mean we’ve got a pretty good rhythm of writing and recording and touring. So, it’s probably going to be more of that once this tour is done. I assume they’ll be a few more shows here and there. But for the most part, I’ve a newborn son I’d like to spend some time with. I have a daughter I’d like to spend some time with. It’s going to probably be a lot of home life and a lot of song writing.”

The Mystical Energy Of The Acid Kings

ACID KING play Satellite Oct. 11; photo Ray Ahner

ACID KING play Satellite Oct. 11; photo Ray Ahner

“The band name came from a True Crime book I read called ‘Say You Love Satan’. It’s about this guy called Ricky Kasso who killed… well, let me just cut to the chase: He was called the Acid King because he was the guy who always sold acid,” laughs Lori S of the band Acid King.

Born in the San Francisco bay area in 1993, they have been forged in blood and fire since that time and are currently delivering their blasts of distortion across the country. With such a long history, it comes as no surprise this band has a storied career.

“I moved out here from Chicago and didn’t know many people,” recounts Lori S. “I wanted to start a band so back in those days, we put ads in papers because there wasn’t any Craigslist or social media or really the internet very much. So, I put an ad in the local paper, a like music/cultural paper I guess you would say, about looking for members.

“A bass player reached out and my ad said something like ‘Looking for someone into Hawkwind and Monster Magnet’. Peter Lucas, our very first bass player, reached out and we met and had a lot of things in common – same books, same career, listened to the same music. Obviously, it was a really easy decision that we should play together.”

“Then, the drummer… well, we didn’t have a drummer, so we started writing music together. I was at a party, with the one person I knew in town, and basically just shouted out “Does anyone know any drummers?” and this guy responded, ‘I’m a drummer!’ That was Joey Osborne and that is how he became our drummer.”

Over the course of their history, they have released four studio albums and two EP’s. And this is where the story takes a fascinating twist, especially with their album Busse Woods.

“The record was released in 1999 on this record label that’s no longer around called Man’s Ruin Records; Frank Kozik was the owner of that label” she recounts. “If you don’t know him, he is a very popular artist, and did a lot of poster art for bands back in those days. So, he opened up a label and really took to our kind of music.

“As I think back to 1999 – again, no social media, minimal internet – it basically just kind of came out and had press and so forth, though you can imagine the kind of limited press it got back then compared to now. It was just sent out to magazines and college radio stations. Then our bass player quit and there were a lot of personal issues going on within the lives of the band members, so basically nothing ever happened with that release. It came out, never had a tour, Brian Hill – the bass player on that album – quit, and the record really never had anything.”

This is an all too common story over the course of rock, as well as all music history. Yet, this is only the beginning of the story.

“Twenty years later, because of social media and charts and stuff, we found out that Busse Woods is the most popular release we have and over a million people have listened to the songs on the record,” explains Lori S. “It was like holy you know what! We had no idea. So, I decided, ‘You know what? It’s high time. It’s been twenty years now and it’s the anniversary. It is time to have a record release party and time to celebrate this release that it never had’.”

As to why this album has remained, and even gained, popularity among people all this time later is a mystery, albeit a pleasant one.

“I was pretty surprised to see that,” she says. “I love the record, there’s a lot of awesome riffs on there. “Busse Woods” is one of my favorites to play… it’s super heavy and totally gets into your butt. “Electric Machine” is I guess like a hit, as far as hits go… if there was a hit by the band that would be it as our most popular song. I think a couple of the songs are just accessible to more of the masses, and for whatever reason those songs struck a chord with them. But I have no valid reason why that happened. I guess those were really great songs people like and it’s awesome!”

Experiencing such a revival on an album that was released under the radar, it’s a testament to how social media has changed the music landscape. Which is a very good thing as now there is less of a danger of losing great music to the march of time.

“You used to buy a magazine or go on a website to read and see If you liked this band then check out this band,” elaborates Lori S. “But today, you go on Spotify and it’s all in front of your face. You’re not spending a bunch of time at the record store and reading magazines to see if you can find something new. It’s kind of a bummer cuz that was super fun and a part of the whole experience.

“But now, the word spreads. Because of YouTube your videos are out and all over. It’s so much easier for people to find you since it’s there in front of your face and you’re not even searching. It’s definitely made it a lot easier for bands, like ours or even those not as popular who don’t have a PR machine, to sit there and put your music out and random people are able to discover it easily.”

Being a heavy rock band, the live show is a key element for this band who has plenty of excitement for the current tour.

“It’s always awesome when people show up, number one,” muses Lori S. “While they are showing up, its really awesome if they are an enthusiastic crowd. It’s fun to see familiar faces who have been with the band from the beginning. It’s really fun now to see new people because the genre of music has gotten so much bigger. Lately, seeing people who have never seen the band and only heard of us for the first time even though the band has been around forever.

“It feels good to know your music has made an impact,” she continues. “Hearing people say, ‘the music really helped me cuz I was going through a bad breakup or bad part of my life and I put on your record and it made me feel better’. I mean, people find whatever touches them in the music and that’s super gratifying to me.

“As far as this particular tour, I’m excited because I’m spending money on this tour for lighting, projections, bringing a sound person; I’ve tried to strategically have shows at particular venues. You know, trying to have a higher production value and out on a special show. I don’t just want to show up and play, I want it to be an experience.”

Acid King are out on tour behind the re-release of Busse Woods. Make sure you catch the fire and the glory as they bring it to life center stage full force!!

Messer Brings High Quality Rock To SoCal

MESSER plays The Cave Sep 13, The Canyon/Agoura Sep 14, The Coach House Sep 15; photo Glitch Mob

MESSER plays The Cave Sep 13, The Canyon/Agoura Sep 14, The Coach House Sep 15; photo Glitch Mob

Texas-based Messer returns to SoCal as part of Scott Stapp of Creed’s “The Space Between the Shadows” tour which also includes hard rock group Sunflower Dead. The tour wraps up at The Coach House Sep. 15 before heading East.

Dereak Messer, the group’s lead vocalist, promises people who attend are in for an excellent time.

“They are going to see a performance like no other. We bring high energy to our shows. We’re known for our quality of sound and just a lot of energy. We love to meet our fans so we’ll be hanging out all night long at every one of those shows trying to meet every person who would like to meet us.”

Messer adds he genuinely enjoys being able to play shows in California whenever he and his bandmates are offered the chance to do so.

“We have a great time every time we’re there. We usually record in the Silver Lake area right outside of Hollywood so we’re out that way quite a bit and we have a lot of fans out in California.”

Messer reports that the tour in general has proven to be incredible so far especially as they have been able to accompany Scott Stapp.

“This guy is a true professional,” Messer says. “His new album has been amazing. He’s playing it every night and the crowds are just eating it up. Being that he’s such an iconic face and a voice out there for rock music, it’s just been great to learn from him every night and just become good friends with the guy.”

Sunflower Dead has also proven to be stalwart musical companions too.

“They are a good high energy band too,” Messer admits. “They’re a little bit more of a metal band than we are. Great guys though, so they’re super cool.”

Being able to accompany other notable musicians is quite an accomplishment for Messer which formed in 2009. The group has become established as playing rock music albeit with what Messer describes as “an alternative sound to it”.

He adds too that the group makes an effort to emphasize a specific musical setup at each show to ensure those who attend their shows don’t just hear their music but feel it too.

“We tune our guitars and everything to a certain frequency that actually manipulates the way you feel when you come to our show. It’s kind of crazy. It’s one of those things you have to experience.”

The group’s music is also designed to be empowering with positive messages intertwined. Songs like “Make This Life” that are featured on their first and so far, only studio album Messer, features light though heavy backing instrumentals and motivational lyrics.

“Our music has a positive message,” Messer states. “It’s got beats. These are songs that will hopefully stand the test of time and people will be listening to 30 or 40 years from now.”

Being able to play these songs and see live concertgoers respond favorably to them is something Messer says is always a great reward for him.

“It’s amazing every night to see the people’s reaction. People come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they were moved by the songs. That means everything to us.”

Likewise, the group’s music has helped bring them in contact with other notable music groups in addition to Scott Stapp and Sunflower Dead. Messer specifically cites Pop Evil as one of the most memorable groups he and his fellow bandmates have been brought into contact with.

“We’ve toured with Pop Evil a bunch. We’re good friends with those guys. The other night, Leigh, the singer, showed up at our show with Scott Stapp. He showed up afterwards and we hung out. And then the next night he brought me on stage, and we did one of his songs, ‘Trenches’ together.”

No matter who they are playing with and wherever they are, Messer says they always seek to make their performances stick in people’s minds.

“We’ve played so many shows. Every one of them we try to make memorable. You know what I mean? We try to make sure that it’s one of those nights that everyone’s going to remember.”

Beyond Messer’s current tour, the group intends to continue playing and even producing some new music as well.

“After this tour we’re going to finish up and take a small break,” reveals Messer. “But then we’re going to dive right back in to recording some new music. We’re going to throw some ideas together and hopefully have some new music out.”

Sunflower Dead Brings Heavy Aggressive Rock To SoCal

SUNFLOWER DEAD play The Canyon/Montclair Sep. 7, The Canyon/Santa Clarita Sep. 8, The Cave Sep. 13, The Canyon/Agoura Hills Sep. 14 and The Coach House Sep. 15; photo Janelle Rominski

SUNFLOWER DEAD play The Canyon/Montclair Sep. 7, The Canyon/Santa Clarita Sep. 8, The Cave Sep. 13, The Canyon/Agoura Hills Sep. 14 and The Coach House Sep. 15; photo Janelle Rominski

Sunflower Dead, a native SoCal band, returns to their home state as support on Scott Stapp of Creed’s “The Space Between the Shadows” tour. The tour is scheduled to play a series of local shows including The Coach House Sep. 15. Fellow rockers, Messer, are also support on the tour.

Front man Michael Del Pizzo says Messer has proved to be great musical compatriots.

“We just met those guys about a week ago and they’re putting on a phenomenal show and the crowd every night is responding amazingly to them,” Del Pizzo said. “I’m just getting used to their sound and I’m loving it so far.”

Del Pizzo says that, as a fan of the iconic band Creed, hearing Stapp sing live has been a treat for him.

“I’ve been a Creed fan since they started so it’s a pleasure for me to see him do those songs every night including his new songs” Del Pizzo revealed. “I love it.”

Del Pizzo and his fellow Sunflower Dead bandmates have been playing since 2012. The group officially broke into music with their independently recorded and self-published album aptly named Sunflower Dead. The group was able to break into mainstream music thanks to the radio showcasing of songs from their second album It’s Time to Get Weird.

The music Sunflower Dead plays is an undeniably major factor for the group’s success which is described by Del Pizzo as being “heavy aggressive.”

“We sit right between heavy rock and metal and lyrically it’s very emotionally weighted,” Del Pizzo explained. “Something you can connect to.”

This is showcased by songs like “Turn Away”, one of the band’s most popular singles released just this year. That song in particular deals with the subject of suicide. While the sound backing up the song’s lyric are heavy, the lyrics in it are aimed at encouraging people not to give into the urge to end their lives but do their best to muster on.

Powerful songs like that are something that are made naturally according to Del Pizzo. He says that song composition in the group is open ended and dependent largely on mutual consensus in regard to their creation.

“There’s no one specific way we do it,” Del Pizzo admitted. “Everyone in the band is kind of open to inspiration. So, when it strikes, we go with it. There’s no egos, there’s never been egos involved in the writing process in this band. We just kind of go with whoever has the best idea.”

Del Pizzo says that both the songwriting and recording processes are the easiest tasks for the band. Being able to play those songs live is always a challenge but a rewarding one.

“Playing music live is taxing because you’re trying to figure out everything you did in the studio and how to represent it live correctly,” Del Pizzo said. “We’re not a band that uses backing tracks or anything like that. We just go out and play just the four us. We play a representation of the album live but once we get it down it’s incredible.”

Sunflower Dead "Turn Away" Artwork

Sunflower Dead “Turn Away” Artwork

Sunflower Dead has to date played numerous concerts, gone on multiple tours and produced a total of three albums with their latest album C O M A seeing a release just last year and whose songs continue to top active rock charts.

Del Pizzo admits it’s hard to pick some of the most truly memorable they’ve experienced. But there are two that stand out the most to him: playing live at the O2 Apollo in Manchester with Korn and touring with Hellyeah before the death of Vinnie Paul.

Del Pizzo remembers playing with Paul and that the legendary musician undeniably adored being able to play along with Sunflower Dead.

“The last time we toured with Hellyeah, on the last day of the tour Vinnie came up to me and wanted to get a picture with me,” Del Pizzo recalled. “The whole time he’s taking a picture with me – we’re doing like a bunch of shots – he’s singing one of our songs to me. So, for me to have one of my idols take a picture with me and, not only that, sing one of my songs to me, that’s pretty amazing.”

Events like these and the popular reception the group’s heavy but inspirational style gives Del Pizzo and his bandmates the fuel they need to keep playing and creating music both in their upcoming appearances in SoCal and beyond.

Del Pizzo says that Sunflower Dead is already looking ahead to a busy future.

“We are currently looking to our next tour and working on our next single and writing a fourth record and just moving forward and building Sunflower Dead up.”

Tom Keifer And His Livewire Rock-N-Roll Come To SoCal

Tom Keifer plays The Coach House Aug. 30; photo James Christopher

TOM KEIFER plays The Coach House Aug. 30; photo James Christopher

High-energy. Dynamic. Fire and brimstone. Visceral. These words help define rock-n-roll, both on and off the stage. Tom Keifer and his band are on course to deliver all of that once again Aug. 30 at The Coach House.

Keifer sang in the Philly rock group Cinderella, and went on to release a solo album back in 2013 The Way Life Goes. It was a labor of love that took nine years to perfect, and was released to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, some legal trouble caused it to get pulled from the shelf. Simultaneously, Keifer had to have voice surgery which caused delays in touring/recording schedules.

All of that is overwhelming, but a recurring theme in rock-n-roll is perseverance through struggle. And without a doubt, he is a shining example. Keifer fought for and obtained the masters to The Way Life Goes – the deluxe version of the album (with the bonus of a few new tracks) which he released in 2017.

Heading to one of his shows, Keifer says to expect “a high-energy, loud screaming rock show; it’s a rock-n-roll show” complete with Cinderella classics as well as the tracks from his solo outing.

“I’ve always really liked playing “Nobody’s Fool” live, that one always feels good to me and I like singing,” Keifer said. “Out of the new stuff, lately we’ve been doing the title track, that one has been fun. There’s a couple there I’ve been having fun with, singing and playing.”

TOM KEIFER

TOM KEIFER and band; photo Tammy Vega

While the album was made over several years, the touring band has remained constant.

“When I started touring the record, it’s pretty much been with the first people that walked in the room the first night,” Keifer explained. “With the exception of this year, we have a new drummer and a new keyboard player, which was our first member change. Much like the first auditions, the two new guys were the first ones who walked in the room. It’s all been pretty effortless, and the chemistry has been great from the get-go.”

This chemistry even continues off-stage.

“On tours I have done before this band, everyone kind of stays to themselves, and watches movies, and there’s lots of distractions of different kinds of entertainment going on,” Keifer divulged. “But honestly with this band, every night we just get together and hang out and talk.”

Being a mainstay of the rock world for over two decades, Keifer has a unique perspective on the ongoing debate over rock being at death’s door.

“That question always comes up, if it’s not in vogue, say in certain media outlets or radio formats, then oh, its dying,” Keifer explained. “But as long as it’s being created, and it’s being enjoyed by the fans and the people out there, then it’s alive.”

Thus, Keifer remains determined as ever to continue bringing rock music to his fans.

“Playing live is my favorite part of what we do, it’s great to get out there and play live and share that moment in the music with the fans,” he remarked.

“I get nervous every night, brother, as long as I’ve been doing this. I love what I do, and I want to be, you know, give it my all every night. My main instrument, being my voice, it’s flesh and blood.”

All in all, Tom Keifer is amped for his dates on the west coast, commenting, “We are out rocking and love seeing everybody at the shows.”

Pepper Bring Spicy Hawaiian Reggae-Rock To SoCal

PEPPER play FivePoints Amphitheatre Aug 2; photo Keith Zacharski

PEPPER play Five Points Amphitheatre Aug 2; photo Keith Zacharski

Pepper, a music group known for their uniquely Hawaiian style of rock-reggae, soon returns to Southern California. The three-man band is scheduled to play live at the Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine on Aug. 2 as part of their current tour celebrating the release of their latest album Local Motion.

Yesod Williams, the drummer for the group, says returning to Southern California to play is always terrific for him and his bandmates.

“We moved to San Diego in 1999 from Kona where we were all born and raised and started the band,” he explains. “So, it’s like a second home. It’s a big melting pot of fans and friends and family ‘cause we have so many friends and family that live around Southern California as well.”

Formed in 1996 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Williams joined the band after Bret Bollinger, vocalist and bassist, and Kaleo Wassman, the other vocalist and lead guitarist, approached him at a party after learning of his skilled drum playing. The group has remained together since and has consistently maintained their current line-up.

For the group’s appearance at the Five Point Amphitheatre, Williams says that, as with most of their shows, he expects nothing but people enjoying themselves and their music. As such Williams says he doesn’t expect any problems at the venue.

“It’s just going to be a super rad family vibe. That’s the rad part knowing our fans are ohana.”

To those unfamiliar with the term, “ohana” is a Hawaiian word typically used to describe blood relatives or a strong connectedness between people.

“As far as the people go there’s no real difference in the vibe of the shows whether it be in Hawaii or the mainland. It’s only the surroundings that are different because the ohana is so strong.”

The music Pepper plays is a big part that plays into this aloha spirit. The group’s music Williams says is a combination of two musical stylings: reggae and rock.

“In a nutshell it’s reggae-rock with a Hawaiian flavor. We self-proclaim it Kona dub rock,” Williams says, “We’re just playing good old high energy rock music with a reggae flair to it.”

It’s a flair-filled combo that has helped the group thrive in the music industry since officially becoming musically active in 1997. The group has in addition to playing multiple live events produced eight full-length studio albums filled with upbeat and stylish melodies.

Songs the group produces start off as very simple concepts before becoming songs according to Williams.

“Usually it’ll start with Bret or Kaleo having an idea, whether it be a guitar melody or vocal melody, but usually starting with a guitar. Then we’ll take it into our studio, and we’ll play it together and that’s in a nutshell how it’ll become a Pepper song.”

Their latest album, Local Motion, will have its songs played live at places during the Five Point Amphitheater during their tour. However, Williams says, that Local Motion he feels is one of the most unique and special ones they’ve produced to date in which they thought up the idea for a song but gave it over to their musically talented friends.

“For this album we did it a little differently. We did the initial part where we came up with the idea on an acoustic guitar and a little vocal idea and then we gave it to our friends. They gave us Local Motion.”

Concertgoers who go to the group’s appearance at the Five Point Amphitheater and beyond are not just listening to various music pieces written by Pepper’s three bandmates but that of their friends as well which results in a different and more unique Pepper concert.

For Williams, no matter the music being played, whether by his bandmates or by other friends, being able to share is a guaranteed thrill.

“That’s the best in my opinion. That’s when the songs come to their full life. Because you never know what’s going to happen until you actually play it in front of people because then it’s just like different things happen in the heat of the moment and the energy and the adrenaline that’s going when you play in front of a crowd that’s reacting to it.”

Beyond their appearance at Irvine, the group’s current tour will last until Aug. 25 ending at the Santa Barbara Bowl. What can music lovers expect from the musical representative of the aloha spirit after that?

“More music definitely,” states Williams. “We’re going to be doing some different versions of the songs that we have on Local Motion already so keep looking out for that and then we’re going to be planning another tour coming up here to support the record.

Thunderpussy Brings Rock To SoCal

THUNDERPUSSY play El Rey Theater Jul 17 and Belly Up Jul 19; photo Meredith Truax

THUNDERPUSSY play El Rey Theater Jul 17 and Belly Up Jul 19; photo Meredith Truax

Thunderpussy, the all-female rock group known for their unique vibe comes to Southern California this month as part of their summer tour. The foursome shall play Jul. 17 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and Jul. 19 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach.

Bassist Leah Julius says she looks forward to playing with her bandmates at the El Rey Theatre.

“It will be our first time playing L.A with our new drummer. It’s also one of the bigger rooms we’ve played in L.A so we’re really looking forward to that. The last couple of times we’ve been through we’ve played at the Viper Room. So, it’ll be nice to play a new stage.”

Julius has played on many stages beyond California with the group. Seattle, where the group began in 2013, still holds a special place in her heart.

“We all met through the Seattle music scene,” Julius began. “It’s a pretty small, tight-knight community up here and we were all playing in different bands and different instruments as well. And then Molly (Sides) and Whitney (Petty), the guitar player and singer of Thunderpussy, started the project and sought me out and then sought out a drummer. Kind of the rest is history.”

The name Thunderpussy started there, too.

“It embodies exactly who we are: strong, powerful, feminine. You hear the name and immediately it gets people curious, gets people talking and that’s always something you want in a name. People will remember it easily. So, when the name came about and what we were doing matched it pretty perfectly we just ran with it.”

The music Thunderpussy plays, Julius admits, is itself a kind of love letter the group has to the music they grew up with.

“We get a lot of our influences from like 70’s rock and roll. We love Zeppelin and, you know, all the classics. But we like a lot of modern music. We like a lot of pop music. So, it’s kind of a mix between Zeppelin and Beyoncé and all of the stuff we like.”

The group is none the less unique in itself playing songs ranging from rock out fare though sometimes even more mellow fare. These songs are the brainchildren of Sides, the group’s vocalist, and guitarist Petty.

“Generally, Molly or Whitney will bring in an idea to the table or sometimes even a finished song or parts of a song,” says Julius. We work together as a group to create the beast that then becomes the song.”

The group’s debut studio album that’s aptly named Thunderpussy came out just last year along with their first EP album Greatest Tits. Both proved easier said than done to make according to Julius not to mention their music in general.

“It’s a continuous struggle and aside from the stuff we have to jump through, just to get our music made and heard. Once it’s out there we deal with so much vile backlash on social media through hateful, sexist, misogynistic comments that you really have to have a thick skin to want to keep on going.”
Worse still, it’s an industry still largely dominated by males: something Julius credits for their ongoing hardships in producing music.

“It’s a boy’s club through and through especially when once you get really higher up into the major label realm where we’re at. You know, there’s a way that things have traditionally been done and there’s a way that rock bands who are all males have traditionally been marketed and sold.”

The group still perseveres and for Julius it’s worth it just to be able to share their rock and roll ballads with others, especially on a live stage.

“When you finally get up there and the lights are on and you have your instrument and playing with your fans it’s kind of like the best release at the end of the day and that’s why we do it cause that moment when you get on stage and you get to play with each other. There’s nothing better.”

It’s an effort too that still comes with surprising rewards.

“We recently got to join forces with Mike McCready from Pearl Jam and Chad & Josh from Red Hot Chili Peppers and performed some rock & roll covers and performed some Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen live with those guys for a charity show in Seattle and that was a really incredible experience to be standing on stage playing with some of my heroes.

Julius highly encourages concertgoers to come to the group’s shows as she promises they are in for a good time.

“Check out thunderpussyusa.com to see where we’re coming this summer and we’re hopefully buckling in and making another record and getting it out to everybody as soon as we can. We want nothing more than to release some new songs live for everybody.”

THE BLACK MOODS Announce Tour Dates in Support of Their Second Top 40 Single

THE BLACK MOODS summer tour 2019

THE BLACK MOODS summer tour 2019

Tempe, Arizona’s The Black Moods have announced tour dates this summer with Them Evils. The tour will kick off on July 14th in Salt Lake City, UT at Kilby Court. The band continues to support their second top 40 single, “Bad News.”

Born in the Arizona desert and reared on stages across North America, the band delivers a modern update of a timeless sound, breathing fresh life into a familiar mix of electric guitars, anthemic hooks, and percussive stomp. The Black Moods’ three members — frontman/guitarist Josh Kennedy, drummer Daniel “Chico” Diaz and bassist Jordan Hoffman — aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they’re piling into a vehicle that’s existed for decades, souping up the engine to suit their contemporary needs, and steering those wheels toward their own rock & roll horizon.

The Black Moods began building their audience the old-school way: by hitting the road. They toured heavily, promoting albums like their 2012 self-titled debut and 2016’s Medicine with gigs across the country. By the time Bella Donna hit the radio airwaves during the summer of 2018, The Black Moods’ fanbase had grown exponentially. The song became a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, paving the way for the band’s biggest shows to date.

Modern-day torchbearers of ageless rock & roll, The Black Moods aren’t shy about nodding to their influences. Bella Donna was partially inspired by the Doors’ slinky strut, while the climatic chorus of “Bad News” points to alt-rock mainstays like the Foo Fighters. With one boot planted in the same ground as their influences and the other pointed toward unexplored territory, The Black Moods blaze their own path while still paying tribute to those who came before them.

Both Bella Donna and “Bad News” were recorded with Grammy Award-nominated producer Johnny Karkazis, who flew to Phoenix and set up a makeshift studio in the band’s own rehearsal space. There, in the same practice facility once shared by hometown heroes like the Refreshments, the band funneled the spirit and swagger of their live show into their most dynamic recordings to date. That live show — which The Black Moods sharpened with cross-country tours alongside the Doors’ Robbie Krieger, Shinedown, Jane’s Addiction, Eve 6, Cracker, and numerous other headliners — has always been one of the band’s strongest selling points. Now, thanks to singles like Bella Donna (which also lends its name to the first wine in The Black Moods’ wine series), The Black Moods’ fury and fire onstage is matched by their electricity on record.

The Black Moods Tour Dates:
6/22 Pinetop, AZ The Lions Den
6/30 Madison, WI WJJO Boob Toob
7/5 Monett, MO First On Front
7/12 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep
7/14 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court w/ Them Evils
7/15 Denver, CO Steets w/ Them Evils
7/16 Sioux City, IA The Marquee w/ Them Evils
7/17 Des Moines, IA Leftys w/ Them Evils
7/18 Mankato, MN Whats Up Lounge w/ Them Evils
7/20 OshKosh, WI Rock USA
7/21 Racine, Wi Route 20 w/ Them Evils
7/23 Pekin, IL Twisted Spoke Saloon w/ Them Evils
7/25 Whitesburg, KY The Listening Room Whiteburg
7/26 Toledo, OH Frankies Inner City
7/28 Southbend, IN 103.9 Presents (The Big Growl)
7/30 Waterloo, IA Spicolis Reverb
7/31 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater w/ Gin Blossoms
8/1 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom w/ Gin Blossoms
8/2 Ft. Wayne, IN Sweetwater Pavillion w/ Gin Blossoms
8/6 Wilmington, NC Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre w/ Gin Blossoms
8/7 Chattanooga, TN The Signal w/ Gin Blossoms
8/9 Springfield, MO Mothers Brewing Company (KQRA WienerFest)
8/10 St. Louis, MO Hollywood Casino (KSHE Pig Roast)
8/13 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre w/ Gin Blossoms & Collective Soul
8/14 San Diego, CA Voodoo Room @ HOB
8/15 Costa Mesa, CA Pacific Amphitheatre w/ Gin Blossoms & Collective Soul
8/16 Tucson, AZ The Rock

Blowin Smoke Volume Two: A Shining Example Of The LA Underground

BLOWIN SMOKE VOL. 2 cover

BLOWIN SMOKE VOL. 2 cover

Bubbling beneath the surface of Los Angeles, jungle, DNB, and bass music has long been simmering…. slowly leaking out into the culture of the city. Once a small scene found only at obscure venues, it is now a force to be reckoned with that attracts talent from across the globe. Huge acts such as Andy C, S.P.Y., Noisia, and Spectrasoul all come to DJ small clubs and big festivals alike. Even underground acts such as Ewol, Homemade Weapons, Phase, and Hyroglifics make their way to play L.A. as well.

However, the underground scene in LA has and continues to play a vital role in this: making it possible for these acts to come here, providing support for the shows, and overall keeping the vibrancy of the scene alive. And it is one far more vibrant than most people realize, at times making it confusing to traverse.

Luckily, a crash course in LA DNB just dropped in the form of Blowin Smoke Volume Two by Voyage Events, and it perfectly encapsulates the quality and diversity found within it.

It starts out with a heady intro of hip-hop viewed through the lens of jungle, thrown together in a dizzying fashion that’ll make your head spin. With smooth transitions and a deft sense of timing, Jah Bliddie’s “Intro” sets the stage for the rest of the release; one full of surprises, unique vibes, and genre bending delights.

“Styles” by Tank Dubz keeps the jungle momentum going. The snap of jungle breaks sets the mind ablaze on an introspective journey, as the deep and dark basslines pull you with the force of a blackhole. Reggae vocal samples give an air of nostalgia, harking back to the roots of jungle; while the crisp chatter of the high end reveal a modern production sense, revealing a love for both new and old.

Following all this wild and heavy music comes the deep moody number known as “Dark Cloud” by Cranial Superfood. Menacing atmospheric vibes sit next to chiming melodies, with a hypnotic driving beat pulling everything forward. Dark and infectious, it is a prime example of how DNB infuses danceable beats with experimental sounds to create a distinctive palette.

Changing gears yet again, the next track opens with a hypnotic soothing melody that seems to climb endlessly, until it gets absorbed by the huge wall of bass that suddenly drops. “The Grind” by Keekz continues, and becomes even more intertwined inside the click of the cymbals and the layers of fuzz tones. As the break hits, it’s as if you are launched weightless into space as the next drop brings you right back to Earth; a little confused, a little tripped out, and with a mind blown wide open.

After the last two trips into outer space, some earth-shattering basslines are heavily desired. BC Rydah gives us exactly this with “Nyce Up Da Dance.” Full of deep throbbing basslines and intricate beat patterns, the song throws you around like a ragdoll on the dancefloor. Upon repeated listens, the clashing layers reveal the precision of every sound and the careful thought placed into each moment.

Next up is the fierce rolling sound of pure DNB. “Irieness” by Nodsy perfectly captures the tempo and vibe of the best old school DNB tracks, with a rolling bassline that would make anyone’s feet start moving. Armed with the precise production style characteristic of the deep underground side of DNB, Nodsy delivers a heavy dose of what defines the LA style: blending the past and present in new and exciting ways.

Jah Biddle brings us another jungle workout, rife with ethereal vocals and moody atmospherics. Showcasing a talent and natural grace towards the complex patterns of jungle, the crisp snares and crystal-clear crescendos of cymbals slowly build the atmosphere of the tune. Ethereal vocals create a kind of exploratory jazzy atmosphere, making it perfect for the dancefloor or just chilling.

Further exploring the boundaries of bass music, DCML ft. REFT deliver the lo-fi beauty of “Keys for Days.” Reminiscent of smoky bebop jazz clubs and early hip hop shows, it effortlessly fuses the two into a uniquely modern mix of analog as well as digital vibes. With the repetitive patter and clicks of the cymbals and snare as well as a meandering jazz guitar, it provides a great respite from the intensity of the previous tracks with its artful musings.

Bringing in the heavy beats and trippy vocals of trap and footwork, “Snowden” by Liquid Giraffe (ft JTRA) widens the scope of the album even further. Everything is carefully placed, from the warbling vocal line to the space between the beats; this gives the track that push and pull feel between beats to move your feet and spacey melodies which instigate wandering thoughts.

Giving us a heady dose of addictive melodies and hazey lo-fi beats comes “Screaming for an Echo” brought by Alia Atreides (ft. ATMAAN.) An introspective pattern of beats enters along with a simple motif that creates a kind of swirling sensation, slowly pulling you towards the ambient center of the track. When it all hits with the drop, all you can do is helplessly enjoy the journey back home.

Deep sub bass is a hallmark of nearly all dance music, from DNB to House to Dubstep. Sawdust brings us an excellent example of the dubstep variety in “Raspek.” Hailing from LA, he expertly fuses the west coast bass love of hip hop with the throbbing vibes inherent in dubstep. Glitchy sounds, hypnotic cymbals, and the lurching pace all come together to create a track that bashes you around incessantly… and makes you feel eternally grateful for it.

This is a release not to be missed! Thoroughly exposing the flexibility and fluidity of the underground bass music scene in LA, it has something for everyone and certainly demonstrates the promising future for this genre of music. Blowin Smoke Volume Two is currently available through Voyage Events bandcamp page, so get yourself a copy ASAP and support the local DNB scene!

John Paul White Brings Countrypolitan To Orange County

JOHN PAUL WHITE (and his band) play The Coach House Jun. 11 and Troubadour Jun. 14; album cover

JOHN PAUL WHITE (and his band) play The Coach House Jun. 11 and Troubadour Jun. 14; album cover

John Paul White comes to Orange County as part of his current tour celebrating the release of his latest music album The Hurting Kind. SoCal Concertgoers can listen to the acclaimed Grammy Award winning musical talent of White at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Jun. 11 and the Troubadour in Los Angeles Jun. 14.

John Paul White says he looks forward to these appearances.

“The synergy is pretty spot-on right now and I’m really proud of that and anxious for people out that way to see it in person.”

White himself eagerly cannot wait to return to California in general, too.

“I love my home state of Alabama but there are so many things about California I dearly love. I love the weather, the people, the weather, the food, the progressive nature of the state.”

He quickly adds with a chuckle he especially looks forward to the food.

“I actually eat plant-based nowadays which is really hard down in Alabama. They’ve found a way to put ham in just about everything.”

But it’s being able to share his music with others that he honestly looks forwards to in California.

John Paul White; press photo

John Paul White; press photo

“The best part of all is the people because the shows that I play in California have a definite thankfulness for us having traveled so far. I get it from people after shows, ‘thank you for driving all this way to play a show for us.’ That warms your heart and makes you want to do it even more because that’s the only reason to get out of the house is that kind of connection.”

White admits though he didn’t get into music for the sake of music.

“The way I got into it was just trying to meet girls, to be honest. Once I started figuring out the reaction from the other sex when I would sing, I thought, ‘this is what I want to do for a living.’ Later on in life I started digging down below the surface as I started writing songs and figuring out what made me click.”

White would be able to achieve a contract writing music for a musical label in Nashville for approximately 10 straight years before being granted the opportunity to play music himself. White says he doesn’t at all view this long wait as being tedious but educational.

“I learned everything I know about the craft of writing songs. It was an invaluable education for me as an artist to learn all the ins and outs of the bones of a hit song. I still use those things to this day.”

Since becoming a music artist in 2008, White’s performances and dynamic countrypolitan music have earned him praise from critics and music lovers. His songs have even been featured in shows and movies such as The Hunger Games and The Firm.

His most famous period of musical work was between 2009 and 2014 when he teamed up with fellow musician Joy Williams to form the Civil Wars: a musical duo that won four Grammy awards. Since the duo disbanded in 2014, White’s worked solo. This has better allowed him to make music on his terms.

White says he strives to be empathetic to the tastes of his audiences though.

“I have learned the hard way not to create a dish I think other people will like because I cannot possibly guess what anybody else is going to like. So, my entire M.O. is to please myself and pray that there is a bunch of people out there that like the same things that I do. As long as that’s the case, I’ll still have a job.”

For White, playing his songs live is always a great reward.

“I’m intensely proud of these songs and so when I get in and I start singing, I’m consciously doing this, I try to remember that feeling I had when I wrote them. That feeling I had when I played it back for myself, for my wife or for a friend. I never want to just go through the motions and let muscle memory move onto the next song. When that’s the case I’ll go home. I’ll go play with my babies because I miss them all the time.”

White hopes it never comes to that as he plans to continue singing and making music beyond his current tour.

“I’ve got a ton of songs that I feel in the back of my brain trying to beat their way out and so I think it will be kind of rinse and repeat. I’ll tour this record for a while, but I’ve got songs wanting to be born and so I would expect I’ll make another record and keep doing that the rest of my life.”