Coco Montoya Cherishes The Blues At The Coach House

COCO MONTOYA plays The Coach House Jan. 16; photo James Christopher

COCO MONTOYA plays The Coach House Jan. 16; photo James Christopher

Fans in South Orange County have been fortunate to see blues guitarist, Coco Montoya play at The Coach House many times over the years. In fact, they’ll get another chance Jan. 16.

“I’ve just always liked the vibe of the place,” Montoya said. “The sound system is always great and it’s just a fun place to play. Definitely, The Coach House is one of my favorite venues.”

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Do you remember when and where your very first concert was?
COCO MONTOYA: I wouldn’t call it a concert but when I was kid we did all the teen dances and all those sort of things. Those were the first experiences with being in front of the public and being appreciated. And some of them, maybe appreciated too much (laughs). You have to go through that part as well.

Coco Montoya; photo James Christopher

Coco Montoya; photo James Christopher

CGL: Were you nervous or did you take to it right away?
CM: Always nervous. You have your moments of real confidence and you definitely have moments of doubt.

CGL: Is there anything in particular you like to do right before you go on stage?
CM: Not really. There’s no real kind of thing I do other than tell myself how grateful I am to be able to go and do it one more time. I need to let myself know how I feel about that and let the audience know how this can all be taken away and some day it will be, you know?

CGL: You’ve played tons of live shows, in all sizes of venues, what is it about performing live that you like so much?
CM: It’s just the immediate reaction of people. I mean that to me is the whole reason to be out here doing it. You know, it’s just to get that immediate reaction from folks. It beats studio, it beats all the things for me. To do a live performance and be appreciated and accepted by the people is probably the ultimate for me in playing music.

Coco Montoya; photo James Christopher

Coco Montoya; photo James Christopher

CGL: In your early days you played with both Albert Collins and John Mayall and in a sense maybe they were kind of like mentors to you. Have you ever taken a blues guitarist under your wing or has any guitarist looked to you in the early stages of their career?
CM: Well, I know that I’ve always tried to be open and in discussion with a young player. It depends. There are some guys, young kids that are coming up that I’ve definitely tried to be there for them and any questions they may have I try and guide them. Give them the knowledge that was given to me so freely.

CGL: It seems like blues players, more than any other genre, try to keep the spirit and roots of the music going from generation to generation.
CM: I just know within the blues, especially coming from my age group, that the old originators of this music who are not here anymore, my experiences with them was that they always nurtured. They always found a way to let you know what they know – sometimes with a pretty rough edge on it (laughs) – that’s still good for you, you know? Yea, you try to pass that along because the blues has always been about that. It’s always been the originators of the music were always very open and very willing to tell you how to go about it.

CGL: So you play a Strat – is that your preferred guitar?
CM: Yea, that’s what I use, they’re pretty durable, I’ve been using them for a long time. And playing unorthodox like I do, I kind of need something that’s fairly consistent. Switching guitars and all that stuff too often, I’m not real good at that. I’ve had my Strats for a long time and they pretty much do the job for me.

Wild Child Channels The Doors

WILD CHILD plays The Coach House Jan. 11; photo James Christopher

WILD CHILD plays The Coach House Jan. 11; photo James Christopher

“Probably the number one comment we have received for many years is, ‘I never got to see The Doors live but I feel this is as close as I will ever get. Thank you for doing this. I was born at the wrong time and missed it’,” Dave Brock (founder/vocalist) shared.

SoCal is fortunate once again to experience the sensation that is Wild Child, as they return to The Coach House with the ultimate tribute to The Doors Jan. 11, playing songs such as “Hello, I Love You”, “Touch Me,” and “Light My Fire” to name a few.

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

“The Coach House has a long history of hosting some of the best bands that ever played,” Brock said. “If the walls could talk… The level of entertainment there is always at the top. The setting is very intimate yet holds a fairly big crowd for a club. There’s not a bad seat in the house. People have a great time there.”

Concert Guide Live caught up with Brock to find out how it all began, about the attention to detail in both the sound and equipment, and much more.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Did you ever see Jim Morrison play live?
WILD CHILD: Although I was alive when The Doors were playing, I was far too young to actually see them in person. My brother was eight years older than I and saw them as a teenager. He loved The Doors.

I remember one time driving home with my mother and brother as a small kid. The long version of “Light My Fire” was on the radio and I remember my brother yelling out loud that this song was going to last all the way home. I was aware of The Doors as a child, but they really didn’t get on my radar until midway through college, when I was going through a phase of discovery as most young people do. Questioning… everything. Exploring, testing the boundaries. Examining everything I was ever taught or told. This is great music for those at that period in their life.

CGL: How important is it to you and the rest of the band to play the songs as close to the originals as possible?
WC: Probably the most important thing that Wild Child does, is playing the music as close as possible to the original. Whether it be the studio recorded version or perhaps a great live version. Or a combination of the two.

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

Our instrumentation is exactly what The Doors had. We were able to find a very rare Gibson portable organ, as Ray (Manzarek) used to play live on stage. Very ominous sounding keyboard that is impossible to simulate with a synthesizer. We also had Ludwig Custom make a drum kit exactly like John Densmore’s. Same Gibson SG guitar Robby (Krieger) used to play.

But it does not stop there. It’s mandatory in this band to play the songs exactly like the original members. No one interjects with their favorite licks they have learned over the years or plays in a different style. We realize what people are paying for and what they deserve.

CGL: What is one of your favorite songs to play live?
WC: What I like most about The Doors songs is that for the most part they are very different from each other. It’s almost like walking through an art gallery, each song is like a different painting. With lots of visual imagery and poetry. The band is comprised of such different types of musicians. A boogie-woogie keyboard player, a flamenco guitar player and a jazz drummer in the same band. Crazy good!

CGL: What is the longest tour you ever went on? How did you keep yourself engaged while constantly riding a bus?
WC: The longest tour I was ever on was in Europe. Mostly Western Europe. However, it was only for about a month and a half. I have never done extremely long tours. Probably why I have had such a long career. I have also very rarely done bus tours. I prefer sleeping in hotels. Our equipment / crew needs are so small that we really don’t even need a bus. I went on a few bus tours with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors, when I was their singer. That is how they preferred to tour. Those were great times, but I hated leaving a five-star hotel room to bump down the road in a bus overnight. The closer I can get to a normal life on the road, the better I feel about it.

CGL: Tell me about the moment that led to you deciding to do a tribute to the Doors?

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

Wild Child; photo James Christopher

WC: While attending Long Beach State University I became a big Doors fan. I heard a radio ad about the Jim Morrison rock opera at Gazzari’s night club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. So, I went to it the next evening. It turned out to be a live audition and not really quite a rock opera, yet. I showed up and they let me in for free. All they needed was my name for the clipboard. Later I found myself being called on stage to sing a song. The only one I knew was “LA Woman”. Never before doing something in front of a crowd, held a microphone etc., I was singing “LA Woman”. When it was over, Jim Morrison’s sister, Anna came out of the crowd and had photos taken with me. Soon after they offered the lead role to me. That’s what got me into this mess. But I really have enjoyed it. After that journey ended, I took some time off and then formed my own band, Wild Child.

CGL: How many songs do you know? Are there any you’d still like to learn?
WC: I’ve probably done every song The Doors have done at one time or another. However, for our show I have to realize that most people coming to see us only know what they’ve heard on the radio and may not even own any of the albums. So, I have to be careful with how many obscure songs we add to a set of music. Maybe two or three at the most. Luckily the hits are not poppy or corny.

CGL: Vocally, what do you do to keep your voice and range in shape?
WC: My secret to vocal longevity is attributed to these two things. First of all, I sing in my own vocal range. Where a lot of people doing other people’s material actually have to sing outside their normal range to accomplish that. That is very hard on your voice.

BC Rydah And YESKA Beatz Keep The Jungle Growing



“I don’t know, it’s something about those breaks, you know?” says BC Rydah. “I feel more connected to those breaks and come from that kind of chemical music.

“When I got introduced to this stuff, I was watching Liquid Television, with Alex Reece playing on the videos and stuff like that. But it’s just something about those breaks, all the elements of it are dope. Like every single break that I’ve heard, every manipulation, just brings a lot of excitement to the dance floor and to the music.”

A stunning endorsement of Jungle music, straight from the mouth of one of LA’s best practitioners of the style. A part of YESKA Beatz, who run the local magazine Jungle Juice, he has been involved in bringing Jungle to the masses for over a decade now.

“My name, BC, stands for Beach City,” explains Rydah. “That’s pretty much what it means. I go by BC Rydah because that’s what I represent and it’s just a cool name that came together following a bunch of homies just kicking it and smoking together. I’ve been running with this since about 2009; before that, I had other names and monikers, but it wasn’t until this one that I started taking music and my approach to the sound and culture more serious.

“The jungle scene found me! Like, when I was a youngster, me and the homies used to listen to tapes. Back in the late 90’s, one of my boys gave me a jungle tape and a hardcore tape, and I also came across compilations. But I was always listening to other stuff, was always listening to like the Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method because Big Beat was really big around that time. That was a part of my introduction as well as having the LA Hard House scene heavily surrounding me. So it was like I’d hear all of it: whether it was on the radio or like having DJ’s come to our school dances and playing it there with our homies battling in circles and stuff.”

Like many, he ended up finding his way to the music via raves, shows, and the culture behind it.

“I was kind of always around electronic music, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I started going out and going to raves. I remember going to this one party, it was a club that was a gutted-out hotel that they turned into a rave club. I saw R.A.W. spinning there and he blew me away with turntable techniques. It was that and another party, at Utopia, where they had hip-hop one day and drum and bass the next day. It was pretty much after those events that I was like, ‘This is what I do now’.”

What is YESKA Beatz? According to Rydah, “We are a Junglist movement, based out of Long Beach, that started in 2012. Our goal is to bring back good, real jungle music from this area. In the beginning, I was trying to do something different but now I really like how we are putting out a different sound than the rest of what’s out on the west coast. Originally at the start, it was a skate crew that I was a part of. Later we incorporated that with the beats and now, here we are.

“The name came together while smoking a blunt in a backyard and it just created itself. We have about twenty different DJ’s and producers who are part of the crew; we also have producers from all over the world who put out stuff on our label. We stay dedicated to the cause, making sure that the culture keeps extending and people get fed that knowledge and understanding.”

Jungle Juice itself is a magazine but the events that celebrate each release are also an integral part of it as well.

“The magazine was supposed to be a monthly thing, but dealing with issues and trying to stay organized we decided to start dropping the issue without it needing to be a monthly thing,” Rydah elaborates.
“When it comes out, it comes out. But whenever we do drop an issue, we are going to do an event; this way people are informed as well as entertained. Because these are all about everyone having a good time, coming out and having a good experience. I want people to experience what it was like for me when I got into music. It’s all about experiencing that love, that vibe.”

Throwing these shows takes a huge amount of effort and planning, and it’s his genuine love for the music which drives his zeal for putting the shows together.

“I’m really excited; it’s all about all these ones we have done but really excited for the artist who is coming out. He’s a good friend and I’ve done some art shows with him throughout the years, and really want people to see his talent. Next year is going to be really exciting, as it’s going to be coming back full force with the same Jungle mind state in a new area, and ready to be in your hands.”

The future of this movement is only gaining more and more momentum as time goes on, with a blistering amount of material in the works.

“YESKA Beatz has done about sixteen releases,” reveals Rydah. “We are working on the single series, which will have stuff from R.A.W./6Blocc and Ed808 and is beginning next year. It will be single releases every month with full album releases every few months, and vinyl releases every six months. So definitely be on the lookout for a lot of new dope releases from the streets of Cali and abroad. But the focus will be on our stateside Jungle sound.

“With Jungle Juice, everyone should just come out and support! A big thank you goes out to all those involved – all the crews, different promoters, Supply and Demand in Long Beach. We are just going to keep this thing growing and spreading the vibe!”

Cold War Kids: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Cold War Kids; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Cold War Kids; photo Lauren Ratkowski

It had been awhile since I had been in the pit. I was excited that I was heading to House of Blues to shoot SoCal based Cold War Kids. They had been on my radar for a long time. I mean, I grew up listening to KROQ and like many, the first song of theirs I heard was “Hang Me Up To Dry.” Their sound always struck me as different. Something needed in this age of rock-and-roll.

After getting my pass and ticket for the night, I headed straight for the pit. I longed to be back in my home. Only two other photographers joined me to capture the night’s opener, Samia. High energy music was met with an active stage performance. These are all things I love from a band, and even better when it’s how I get to start my night. Through the lens I could tell that lighting was even, a perfect mix of reds and blues. I was happy that this meant I could really focus on the flipping, feet in the air, and kneeling being served to me from Samia herself.

Cold War Kids; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Cold War Kids; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Only two bands were on the bill, meaning Cold War Kids were next. The crowd was anxious for them to hit the sage. More photographers had come to photograph the headliner, so I chose to start my shooting at the furthest end of the pit and make my way back. I know when the pit is full, it’s best to try not to get stuck in the same spot. Variety in shots is just as important as lighting.

Cold War Kids started off with much darker lighting overall, which meant I was going to have to think of ways to add some visual effects to the photos. The best way to do this is to use silhouettes to my advantage. The lighting featured many brighter, color spotlights. With little fill light, the photos were going to be dramatic. But I was ready for the challenge! I was selective with the moments I caught, trying to wait to make it count. This led me to one of my favorite shots of the entire set.

I got stuck in one part of the pit, toward the middle. I was waiting, watching. Next thing I know I had bassist Matt Maust right over my head. I took a slight step backward, focused, and fired. I ended up with a pretty nice series of shots with him almost leaning into my lens. Some say photography has to be calculated, but I often find it mostly luck. At least in music photography it is!

Dirtwire To Treat SoCal To Psychedelic Swamptronica Experience

DIRTWIRE play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 30; press photo

DIRTWIRE play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 30; press photo

Dirtwire, a band that has garnered both praise and fans for its uniquely surreal and experimental music with heavy psychedelic overtones, is coming to the Teragram Ballroom Nov. 30.

David Satori and Mark Reveley, two of the group’s members, look forward to seeing fans at the show.

“Concertgoers can expect a show of unexpected curiosity and musical exploration from trans-global influences and west coast underground based music mash-ups,” says Santori.

Dirtwire began to be musically active in 2012. However, the group truly began years earlier.

Electric River tour admat

Electric River tour admat

“We originally met at Cal Arts,” Reveley recalls. “We all studied music there. Composition, world music and we took a number of trips around the world on musical walkabouts and journeys and collected a lot of really rare instruments that we’ve incorporated into our set, into our music.”

Reveley says that the desire wasn’t until the trio spent time at the famous Burning Man music festival that they were inspired to embark on a career in music.

“We spent a lot of time at Burning Man in some of the early years out in the playa and we fell in love with electronic music out there. So, this group is kind of like a fusion of our love for performing world music instruments with electronic music.”

The music that Dirtwire produces is quite the concoction to be sure blending not only instruments from around the world but a very unorthodox approach that’s quite the task to classify genre-wise.

“We call it swamptronica and we try to exist outside of genre but we’re definitely within the bass music scene, but we try to extend beyond that,” says Reveley. “Electro-blues is another one that’s like easy for people to get their heads around.”

But while the band is hesitant to define its music genre-wise, it is not as afraid to admit to one key ingredient that has helped make music that’s not only been played at a variety of live venues but has appeared on a total of six albums: psychedelic drugs.

It’s an ingredient, Santori says, that was used in the band’s latest album, Electric River, which was released just last month.

Dirtwire; press photo

Dirtwire; press photo

“A lot of the time we take psilocybin mushrooms and do more of a ceremonial recording session and then improvise and then take those improvisations on the magic mushrooms and then cut those into songs.”

This is a practice that has been in effect since the beginning of the band’s formation. It’s one that Reveley says has not only benefitted him personally but has been instrumental to making Dirtwire’s music.

“We’re just partaking in our experiment of that experience and seeing what happens. It has been a very powerful tool for me personally, and I know the other guys in the band as well, to open our minds and explore different melodies, you know, different sounds.”

But while this approach may work well in a studio, Santori adds that playing their creations live requires quite a significant amount of adaptation in order for it to work in that kind of setting.

“A lot of music is very heavily produced and a lot of it created in the studio. So, when we go to a live setting, we have to relearn our parts and relearn what we wrote sometimes on different instruments when we play it live.”

Reveley explains that the use of different instruments is another problem but one that makes for a unique experience at each of their shows

“Some of our instruments don’t travel well. They might be too large or too delicate. So, we’ll have to sort of re-orchestrate and rearrange the tracks and that makes for a cool take on things. They exist uniquely in the live domain. It’s not a one to one. It almost ends up like being an interpretation.”

Despite challenges like these, finally being able to play their music in a live setting is something all members of Dirtwire always enjoy.

“It’s really, really exciting,” remarks Reveley. “That’s when we feel like we really bring it to life and give a new take on what existed in a more private, isolated space and it becomes communal. The audience becomes a part of it.”

Beyond the group’s upcoming appearances at the Teragram Ballroom and beyond, Santori says that he and his fellow bandmates are looking to still play but take time to make even more music.

“We’re just looking to making new music. We’re excited about releasing new music in a different way than we normally have. Basically, that’s it: making music and shows. That’s sort of our life and now we have a little break so it’s going to be more on the music creation side for a little bit.”

Complexity Breeds Creativity In Thank You Scientist!



Thank You Scientist. No, that is not a phrase but the name of a radically diverse band that is sweeping across the country. “I wish I had an entertaining story for it, but it was one of those things that I thought sounded good and fit the vibe of our music,” laughs Tom Monda of Thank You Scientist. “It’s not from Half-Baked like many people theorize.”

A rock band well known for their quirky style and dynamic sound; Thank You Scientist has been churning out their unique vision of progressive rock ever since their first self-release in 2011. One of the most interesting aspects to this band has been their evolution into the seven-person group they are now.

“The idea of the band was always to have an expanded ensemble, you know, as compared to the normal rock setup,” Monda explains. “And I think our sound has become more evolved to become more orchestrated and intricated and dynamic over the years. We want to continue that trajectory moving forward.

“Most of us are pretty big Frank Zappa fans, and there’s a lot of the seventies fusion stuff we all love. Bands like Tool and Mr. Bungle, too. “We are big fans of stuff like that. But as listeners, we’re totally all over the map so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact influence. But that’s what makes it cool, everyone has a pretty unique perspective.”

The band released their most ambitious album this year and every aspect of it is massively layered with details from its creation, to the songs themselves.

Terraformer… we called it that because it was the start of a new chapter with the band due to a couple new members and stuff like that,” divulges Monda. “So, it was like forging a new place to live so to speak. It’s a huge ginormous double album with lots of music on it. We are very proud of it and I don’t know what else to say except it’s got some of our most experimental music to date; I also think it has a very strong narrative and is a cohesive album and hope that people enjoy it.

Terraformer cover art

Terraformer cover art

“I’m very proud of the visual representation, how it relates to the music. It’s a very cohesive package in terms of the way the art looks; and the amazing art we had done by our friend, who did illustrations for each song. I think coupled with the art; it is the most immersive thing we have done. It’s something I want people to sit back with and just dive into. So, I’m proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish that with Terraformer, that kind of immersion.”

With the album complete, the band is now bringing it live to the entire county. “This is our first national tour supporting Terraformer, and it’s going great,” Monda states. “We had a sold-out show in Chicago the other night and the turnouts have been excellent. We are just having a blast playing all this new stuff for people.”

This is a band that seeks out challenges and shakes things up every chance they get. Monda notes, “I like the spontaneity you have at a live show, like the fact that we are so used to playing together so we have like little musical jokes. Or things that will happen during the set, like things one member will grab onto in a funny way. That kind of dynamic element is really great to me. And even though Thank You Scientist doesn’t have a super amount of room, I like the opportunity to get to improvise in front of people and make each night a unique experience in some way, both for myself and those listening.

“In our instrumental, our drummer always throws in a weird sample at a certain point in the music and we never know what it’s going to be. Last night he played a ridiculous sample of Alex Jones and the audience got so hyped about it. It was this thing, I’m sure people have seen it on YouTube, where he is ranting about goblins. But just to see the audience reaction to that made me laugh quite a bit. That was a highlight so far; wish I had a more profound musical highlight than something related to Alex Jones but that will have to do.”

It doesn’t stop there as evidenced by the way Monda takes risks even with his guitar itself. “I love playing the title track off our new album, Terraformer; a song that is played on fretless guitar which is always a challenge to play live. It just has cool, unique techniques in the song that are… every single night is tricky so that’s a nice challenge, but I have fun giving it a try. My failure rate is probably at 50% but hopefully it gets better as the tour goes on.”

How does such a large band effectively play such complex material together every night? “It’s typically drinking a lot of coffee and hanging out with our dog Max who goes on tour with us,” reveals Monda. “Everybody gets some dog snuggles, drinks some coffee, and has a powwow.”

The future shows no slowing down for Thank You Scientist. According to Monda, “Just today, we released a brand new single and video and hope people enjoy that. It’s nothing that is on Terraformer. Everyone can find that on our various social media outlets. It’s something really goofy and funny and I can’t wait for people to check it out.

“We are going keep touring in support of Terraformer for a bit as well. I know that me, personally, after this tour will be jumping back into the writing world and try to come up with as much stuff as I can. So that will be fun to hash out with the boys. We are just going to keep on grinding and see what happens.”

Arch Enemy Imports Swedish Death Metal To SoCal

ARCH ENEMY play Observatory/Santa Ana Oct. 24 and Hollywood Palladium Oct. 26; press photo

ARCH ENEMY play Observatory/Santa Ana Oct. 24 and Hollywood Palladium Oct. 26; press photo

The metal strains of Arch Enemy shall soon be coming to the Observatory in Santa Ana Oct. 24 for a headline show with Thrown Into Exile.

Concertgoers can also enjoy the Swedish death metal group as direct support on the Amon Amarth: Berserker Tour at The Warfield in San Francisco Oct. 25 and the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles Oct. 26. Special guests also include At The Gates and Grand Magus.

Arch Enemy has played consistently and without any hiatus or breakup since beginning in 1995 in the city of Halmstead. Michael Amott, the group’s lead vocalist and guitar player says that the group has undeniably staked their musical claim outside of Europe and has come to enjoy traveling the world, specifically in the United States, as their regular occupation.

“We play all over the world, every corner of this globe. So, for us it’s a regular thing to go play shows away from Europe. We’re a European band and we’ve been touring in the states for many, many years. It’s great.”

Amott adds that, having played around the world for so many years, he has come to note that the music scene outside of Europe tends to be the same.

“I think there are more likenesses than differences. The fans worldwide all share this passion for this music that we play. Once we’re up on stage and playing, I think it’s all the same, you know what I mean? It’s just a bunch of people enjoying the music and the good atmosphere.”

In addition to receiving praise from fans and critics for music that blends classic metal with some noticeably progressive elements, Arch Enemy has produced an even number of 10 studio albums. Will To Power is their latest and one the group continues to promote since its release in 2017.

Amott describes Arch Enemy’s death metal as being “heavy, melodic and exciting” and cites all manner of heavy metal influences. But he gives special credit for the group having grown up in the metal music scene of Sweden. It’s a combination that was a major factor in crafting Arch Enemy’s aggressively powerful sounds.

“I come from a scene with like death metal, thrash metal, street metal kind of stuff. So, it’s kind of the speed and heaviness of the death metal with a lot of classic heavy metal influences as far as melodies and guitar arrangements and harmonies and stuff like that goes.”

The usually action packed music Arch Enemy creates typically starts off on a surprisingly very somber beginning.

“It usually starts with like a guitar riff or a guitar melody and I just build it from there,” Amott says. “Some songs write themselves in like ten minutes and the others take ten months to finish. There’s really no set form on how we put it together. But usually the writing I’ll do together with our drummer Daniel and we do the demos and stuff like that.”

Though the group often takes time to craft their music, it’s a terrific process with an always wonderful payoff says Amott.

“I love the whole process of making music, putting it all together, writing it, producing it, mixing it. It’s a very exciting process of course from idea into a full-blown song or album. But I think the most rewarding thing is obviously getting on stage and playing for the fans and seeing them sing that song back to you. They’ve been listening to it and they’ve learned the words and the melodies and everything. That’s probably the most rewarding thing is to see how the songs have connected with the fans.”

While often grateful to be able to analytically fine tune their music in the studio, Amott and his fellow Arch Enemy bandmates never fail to enjoy the herculean task of delivering high quality shows whenever they play their impassioned and heavy brand of music live.

“You’ve got one shot so it’s a lot more, how should I say, a high-pressure situation. But I think we all in Arch Enemy really thrive on that. We love stepping up our game and delivering our best every night.”

Arch Enemy will continue to do their best on their current U.S. tour which culminates at the Oct. 26 appearance at the Hollywood Palladium. Amott and his bandmates not only intend to keep busy playing live music but will finally craft some new music.

“We do another European tour after this and then there’s the holidays and everything. Starting next year, we’re going to put a new record together. It’s time to go back into that creative mode and into the studio and stuff like that.”

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.”