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People in Planes

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews

People in Planes
March 31, 2008
Tommy Doyles – Boston, MA

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by:  Sally Feller

On Saturday, March 29, I experienced Welsh rockers, People in Planes tearing up the old House of Blues, which has become Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. The band is comprised of Gareth Jones–vocals, Peter Roberts–guitar, Kris Blight–bass, John Maloney–drums, and Ian Russell–keyboard. Their first album “As Far As the Eye Can See” was released in 2006 and their upcoming “Beyond the Horizon” will be released this summer in the U.S. They also have an EP available in the States.

People in Planes was greeted with a relatively small, but loyal crowd. They were sandwiched between two sets: Boston’s own This Blue Heaven (drawing in the hometown love) and Jupiter One. The guys still managed to get people jumping around with the people who were “too cool to jump around” bobbing their heads enthusiastically (not so enthusiastically that they were no longer considered “cool,” of course). One older gentleman, in particular, was enjoying the People in Planes set so much that he was twisting. Yes, twisting, as in doing the twist. On their slower songs he’d twist in a loitering fashion and then on the faster songs (“Moth” for instance), he’d twist in a crazed fervor. I normally try not to mention other people in the crowd, since they don’t have much to do with the band being reviewed, but this guy was unavoidable. The guys even gave him a shout out since he was right in front of the stage.

Back to the show, the set was a nice mix of slow and emotional songs like their latest single “Pretty Buildings” and faster tracks like “Moth” and “Barracuda,” all of which you can hear on their website. Bass player Kris Blight was excellent, tearing into each and every song and keeping the head bobbers bobbing. Jones’ voice conjured up the exact emotions we were supposed to feel for each song, and I’m a sucker for some good keyboard action ala Russel on “Moth.” Can you tell that “Moth” is my favorite? Maloney and Roberts pulled the group together radiantly. That’s right, radiantly.

People in Planes is absolutely a recommended listen. Check out their upcoming shows for a guaranteed great night, though I can’t promise you’ll get the vintage 60’s dance moves that we got at the Cambridge show. You can also check out their video for “Pretty Buildings” (which is pretty fantastic as well) on People in Planes site.

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People in Planes WebsitePeople in Planes on MySpace

Jared Weeks of Saving Abel

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

savingabelmainHailing from a small town in Mississippi, the members of Saving Abel (Jason Null on guitar, Jared Weeks on vocals, Blake Dixon on drums, Scott Bartlett on guitar, and Eric Taylor on bass) remember a time not so long ago when they were working their day jobs and driving back and forth to Memphis to lay down an EP they hoped might get heard by someone.  They never expected it to get heard by Jason Flom who would subsequently offer them a record deal transforming their lives and giving them the chance they had once only dreamed about.

Their self-titled debut album is burning up rock radio with the sexually charged rock n roll anthem Addicted, their first single.  The rest of the album is just as strong pleasing rock fans with a message that is loud and clear – it’s not science, it’s just good ole rock n’ roll.  The video for Addicted debuted on where else but Playboy.com.  Currently out on the road in support of their major label debut, the band is putting it all out there night after night hoping that fans walk away singing their songs, wearing their t-shirts and buying their cd.
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Taste of Chaos 2008

March 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews

tocmainTaste of Chaos
Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Blessthefall, Bullet For My Valentine & More
March 21, 2008
Tsongas Arena, Lowell, MA

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by:  Mary Ouellette

On Friday March 21st, Taste of Chaos rolled into The Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA for what has become an annual rock n’ roll pilgrimage. As I rounded the corner of the venue an hour after doors had opened and the line was still wrapped around the venue, it was proof enough that these kids were not messin’ around. Taste of Chaos is pretty much the all you can eat buffet of rock n’ roll, blending the best of different genres from metal to melodic rock to put on one amazing night of live music. On this particular night the crowd would see eight bands, talk about some bang for your buck.

Starting out the evening was a trio of Japanese bands: D’espairsRay, MUCC, and The Underneath, each treating the crowd to a diverse style of rock sounds, it was clear they were proud to be there and left everything they had on stage. All three bands performed with high energy and looked quite comfortable on stage, engaging in some crowd interaction between songs and communicating via the one true international language…music.

D’espairsRay MUCC

Between set changes, where Idiot Pilot would normally take the stage, one of the Ernie Ball finalist bands Vallon played. Not sure why Idiot Pilot couldn’t make the gig but Vallon was happy to take their slot playing to a almost full venue at this point and probably the largest crowd they’ve ever faced. It was probably the most exciting night of their life.

It was about this time that the crowd surfing began. While most venues in New England have put the kibosh on crowd surfing, The Tsongas Arena kicks it old school and allows kids to surf the crowd until their hearts are content (or smothered!). Some people dig this, and obviously some don’t. Music purists would say that it’s part of the experience, however, the kids that waited outside in the cold for hours and hours to be in the front only to be kicked in the head by a passing surfer might see it differently. Crowd surfing isn’t really an integral part of the experience for all music fans so this is one that we’ll have to call a draw on. By this point, kids were already being feverishly pulled out of the general admission pit in desperate need of a breathe of air, a gallon of water, and on occasion, a medic.

Next up, hailing from the UK, metalcore badasses Bullet For My Valentine. Undoubtedly a lot of the crowd had come for one band and one band only – and this was them. Their stage show was bare bones, letting their music and attitude do the talking for them. Lead singer Matt Tuck did take a few opportunities to flash the dual bird to the crowd, but hey, it was all in the name of rock. With rock star poses and the chops to back it up their set was among the best of the night.

Bullet For My ValentineBullet For My Valentine

One thing that was a bit different this year and years past was the disappearance of the revolving stage which made for a smooth transition between each act.  Instead, the bands that drew the short end of the stick were stuck on a shortened part of the stage coined “stage 2” playing to half of the crowd while the other side of the crowd looked on, left wondering what was going on.

Following a band like Bullet For My Valentine isn’t easy but Screamo Christian metal kings Blessthefall weren’t worried about it, they played through their set with reckless abandon with lead singer Mike Frisby playing to the masses.  He was settled high on the speakers using every inch of the shortened second stage to unleash their madness. Shortly into the set he would become one with the audience egging the crowd to participate in what has become Blessthefall’s staple – the “wall of death” mosh pit. High energy from song to song made their set pass in an instant, it’s no wonder these guys were a quick favorite on last years Warped tour, their energy is infectious and overwhelming at the same time.

When Atreyu hit the stage, the crowd was at full capacity and the band was bouncing off the walls with their energy. Bringing to the tour a bit more melodic rock than the metal parade that preceded them they certainly weren’t holding anything back. When it comes to crowd participation, it was clear which side of the argument Atreyu was on, some of the first words out of lead singer Alex Varkatzas mouth was…”let’s see how many of you can surf the crowd during this song.” What would follow was nothing short of amazing, kid after kid after kid came flying towards the stage, the security staff was on fire pulling them out one after the other, some kids probably over and over again. After that it was a sea of fists pumping in unison as Atreyu rocked through a collection of songs from their latest album “Lead Sails Paper Anchor.” and tossing in some older hits for good measure.

AtreyuAtreyu

As the big screen counted down the seconds until Avenged Sevenfold would take the stage, the energy was permeable. While this was probably not one of the easiest shows to photograph in terms of kids flying overhead left and right, it was definitely an interesting one to watch from the sidelines. As we stood underneath the black curtain up against the stage right before it dropped the stage started to fill with smoke. Avenged Sevenfold had entered the building. Smoke..check. Pyro…check. Skull and crossbones…check. Opening with lead singer M. Shadows at the piano, it would be the one and only time all evening that he would stay still for that long, the rest of the evening would have him bouncing to every corner of the stage only giving up center stage long enough for guitar duo Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance to win over the crowd with their signature dueling guitars. The rhythm section of bassist Johnny Christ and Drummer “The Reverend” were the most enigmatic members of the band, Christ swaggering around the stage but keeping a comfy distance from the front and the Rev fulling immersed in his massive kit.

Avenged SevenfoldAvenged Sevenfold

Known for their rabid fanbase and grassroots rise to success Avenged Sevenfold performed a solid set of tunes new and old and mixed and mingled with the crowd between songs. The personal interaction gave the feeling of a much more intimate setting.

At the end of the night I’m pretty sure every one left the Tsongas Arena feeling as if they just got their ass handed to them by a rock and roll army, and really, would they want it any other way?

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Full gallery of photos from the show here

http://www.tasteofchaos.com

JES

March 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

jesmainYou’ve said that you were in art school when you started to discover your singing power….was it a struggle for you to decide what path to continue on. Art school or music?

Well, actually I come from a very artistic family.  My mom was a singer and in theater.  I recorded my first song when I was like 14 and I always wanted to do music.  It just was a big step to admit it and focus on that.  When I heard my voice recorded on a song I had written I never thought I’d do anything else.  It was really at that moment that I decided.  I was in public schools in New York, and I then decided to go to a school that supported this.  So it was a little bit backwards. 

You’ve done a lot of producing and writing and recording with and for other artists, what inspired you to come out front and release a solo album?

I spent a good many years writing with other people and with other DJs and producers.  I write a lot of stuff and I really wanted to.  I came out into the dance world and I was in a pop/rock band.  When you are writing you are really waiting on them.  I had so many songs and I really just wanted people to hear them so badly.  So I decided that I was going to make my first record, which was Disconnect.  Just so I could get the people to know that I did more than dance music.  I can play guitar and I sing ballads.  I wanted to introduce them to different things that I’d done, and be on my own schedule.  You are always on someone else’s schedule when you are working with a record label.  This way I could have a little more control over what I was doing and what I wanted to release.

 

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It seems like working in music studios would provide a lot of valuable experience to a new emerging artist.  What did you gain from your work experience there?

I worked in a studio in LA, not only recording but I was employed as an assistant.  I also learned how to wire and stuff.  I just wanted to have a job when I had to have a job other than just doing music so I could always be around music.  Also, it’s important to learn how people are recording.  We all use pro-tools and logic and there are many different programs out there.  Computers have taken over a lot of different ways of recording.  Just to know that helps you when you are working with others.  You know the lingo, you know what is going on, and you can be involved!  Also you get to play with all the nice mics, you get to try them out when you could never really afford them on your own. 

 

Your first solo album Disconnect blended a lot of different sounds, with varying vocal ranges, tempos and styles. Do you think it gave the world a good example of who you are as an artist and helped expose you to the mainstream?

Yes.  I tried to.  The majority of my fans are very dance oriented, and I love them.  But, there is a lot of different types of music.  I couldn’t just make a record that was just dance oriented or electronic oriented.  I tried to bring a little bit of what I was doing before into what I’m doing now.  I do love dance music.  I grew up in New York going clubbing.  It’s funny; sometimes I say I’ve come full circle because that’s really where I started even listening to different music.  In NY when I was recording I did a lot of R&B, Soul, Rock, Blues then I went to L.A. and I did more alternative rock.  I really am a song writer so I got back into it when the rave scene was pretty big and got back into dance music.  I wanted to infuse the two worlds together and slow down the beat a little at times.  But, it’s very much a dance electronica record as well. 

 

You are working on a new album, can you give us any insight into how the album is coming along and when it might be released?

Well, “Into the Dawn” just came out now, and I’m actually working on the third album, called “High Glow”.  On Into the Dawn I’d done a couple of new songs, I had some unreleased, really gorgeous versions of songs from Disconnect so I wanted to put it together some of the new songs.  I also did a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, so I put a little bit of everything on there.  It’s all chill out and slow tempo.  This new one that I’ve just come back from working on is a little bit more organic sounding so far. 

 

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What is your writing process like?  Do you start with lyrics, a sample?  Take us through the process?

Well, there are no rules.  When you are writing so much all the time you don’t want to repeat yourself.  For me, it’s a very happy but torturous process.  It is, because you want to write something new and say it in a different way.  I write all the time, I have some tricks… I constantly have my ears open for lyrics and things that interest me… even things that people say.  I keep a page open where I’m constantly writing things down.  I have pages and pages of ideas.  I play guitar, I play some piano… and I flip back and forth between instruments.  Sometimes I get a beat up, sometimes I collaborate with people.  I work with people in different countries over the internet.  It’s amazing that’s possible.  You send tracks back and forth.  There are a lot of people that write me that want to collaborate and I always want to listen because you never know what is going to spark your inspiration.  I’m always open to anyone who is writing.  I always work on a lot of different things at one time.  Every night I have my recorder and I just sort of “blah” a lot of stuff out.  I go through my ideas and every once in a while you find a little gem in the rough and continue on from there.  There isn’t any one specific way, I’m always just trying to find something that ignites my fire.  It’s hard when you are always working at it to find those things that are so special.  It’s funny because I was locked up with myself, and when you are working on things you don’t know what is good or not.  Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at it.  I also, throw a lot of ideas into an iPod and walk for hours and meditate.  Sometimes an idea will pop into your head over something you wrote a long time ago.  It’s nice when those things come back to you and you can grab on, and then I’ll sit down and really hash it out.  Then the real process begins where you are writing and writing and trying to make sense of what you are trying to say.  Sometimes you are like “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” But you’ll get there!  Sooner or later you are going to get to the end, just sometimes it takes a day, a week, a month… a year! 
Do you think you have additional challenges being a woman in the music industry or do you see it as an advantage?

I could write a book on that!  I know, I’m careful with that question.  I do.  When I’m traveling with other girls we should have a group circle.  Yeah, it’s hard.  I have a lot of things to say, I’m strong willed, and I have my opinions.  I really want to be seen as an equal when I’m contributing to something.  I make sure now that when I work with people that they see me that way.  I do feel it.  I don’t want to say it stops us or anything, but I do feel it is a very male driven world, but we’ve got some great women out there.  Great, strong, really talented women! You just have to keep on pushing and sometimes you have to push a little harder. 

You filmed a video for you song Heaven that captures a lot of the visual essence of New York City from a New Yorker perspective rather than from a tourist perspective, is that what you were going for? 

Oh yeah.  I’m from NYC, born and raised here.  I was really excited to be able to film NY the way I see it.  You know you are constantly having roof parties, and just hanging out on roofs and just wandering around.  So we got to go to a lot of places that I love for it.  We were so lucky because that week that we filmed it was one of the most gorgeous weeks in NY.  We definitely tried to give it a little bit of a moody sense and take people to places that I go. 

 

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JES – Into The Dawn Order Here

 

You were awarded 2007 Diva of the Year by a dance magazine.  Can you tell us a little bit about that, was it voted on by fans or awarded by the magazine and what did it mean to you?

YES!  When Disconnect came out it was great and I had so much support from people.  “Diva Divo” is one magazine that supports dance music artists and they gave me such a great review.  When they did this competition, I wanted to be involved, but I really didn’t expect to win.  It’s really because of the fans, the people and my friends.  It was funny when he called me; he said “Everybody wrote a little note about you.  Your fans are so there for you.” It was such a lovely thing, I was really surprised.  It’s nice to win things everyone once in a while. 

 

With Motorcycle, you scored a Billboard #1 Dance Hit with “As the Rush Comes”, does this kind of success with a band give you any added pressure to succeed as a solo artist or are you able to separate the two?

It’s always fun to be in a band, it’s sometimes harder to be on your own.  It’s nice to win things with people you worked with.  I really enjoyed that.  That whole song and everything that has happened to me since, that really did add a lot of pressure.  Once you have a big song, everyone compares you to that song, so you have to always do your best.  I had written a lot of songs before that, so this brought a lot of those to the limelight as well. 

 

In 2007 you played a lot of arena crowds.  A lot of artists aren’t exposed to crowds that large until later on in their careers, it must be a pretty big high to play to that many people but it also sounds like it could be a little scary, do you ever get stage fright?

Not so much anymore.  I do get anxiety sometimes.  Especially when I was opening for Tiesto!  The crowd is there, they know me… but I know that I’m there to get the crowd going for him.  So there were times, sometimes more than others.  I get these spots; I look like a leopard, that’s when you know I’m nervous.  I’ve done so many that it’s not as bad as it used to be.  Sometimes playing for a smaller crowd is harder because they are right there.

 

If you had the opportunity, who are some musicians you’d like to collaborate with?

Musicians, singers… I love Thom York, I’d love to write a song with him.  I also love Bjork.  I’d love to be in a room with her for a while!  I love the Cocteau Twins and Elizabeth Frasier a lot!  Guitar players, I love The Edge, I’d love to play some songs with him!  Maybe Elton John.  I love Bono.  I work with a lot of great musicians now… I meet a lot while I’m out and traveling. 

What are your thoughts on the impact of modern technology on music as far as file sharing and communities such as MySpace?

It’s an incredible tool to be able to meet people and get your music out there.  I think what they say about music being free pretty soon, is probably true, it probably will be very soon.  I personally subscribe to things and I can say that I’ve never actually taken something for nothing.  So I try to support artists that way.  I think it’s incredible that it’s in our hands now.  You can control your career, you can control how hard you work and you can reach out.  I don’t think it can hurt an artist at all.

 

Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Nope, just check out my new album “Into the Dawn”!

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Official JES Webpage

Spencer Swain of ZOX

March 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

zoxmainCurrently out on tour in support of their latest release, Line In The Sand, ZOX (Eli Miller on guitar and lead vocals, Spencer Swain on violin and vocals,  Dan Edinberg on bass and vocals, and John Zox on drums) continue to woo their cult following from coast to coast.  Making a mockery out of mainstream ideologies by letting their music be the predominant voice that speaks for them, these guys are definitely a horse of a different color. It’s not easy to create perfect pop songs with deep rich layers so beautiful they should be framed and hung on the wall, with lyrics that are heartfelt and relatable, all while trading in the lead guitar for a classically-trained electric violinist.


The band came together when a few members met in college in 2002, thats right, brains and beats.  They played the college circuit and started to build a voracious fanbase that only continues to grow to this very day.  Doing things their own way from the start has made the band a formidable force. Mixing a melting pot of sounds from their folk roots to indie rock, to 80s influenced sounds, Line In The Sand is being called their best album to date. Produced by John Goodmanson (of Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, Harvey Danger fame), Goodmanson seems to have pulled the best out of this quartet.  Whether it be their anthematic rockers or their balladesque heartbreakers the songwriting on this album should not go unnoticed.


Violinist Spencer Swain took some time to chat with TWRY staffer Stacie before their recent show in Boston.  Dig it.

Interviewed by:  Stacie Caddick-Dowty | March 2008

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Brad Walst of Three Days Grace

March 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

tdgmainIt’s been almost two years since Three Days Grace released their album One-X and with the latest single Never Too Late making a huge impact with fans from coast to coast with it’s message of hope. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down for these guys.

Admittedly having gone through their fair share of issues in the past, it’s these things that keep the band forging forward stronger than ever because they didn’t get to where they are now without working hard for it.  With a ton of respect for each other and even more praise for their fanbase, this band knows where it came from and reaches out to music lovers night after night with a high energy, leaving it all out there for the world to see, emotionally driven set.

Currently out on the road with Seether, Breaking Benjamin and HURT, bassist Brad Walst took some time out of their busy touring schedule to fill us in on what’s been going on since we last talked to the band.  (We talked to lead singer Adam the week that One-X was released, needless to say a lot has happened between then and now!)

Interviewed by:  Mary Ouellette | March 2008
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