All Posts By Heather Glock

Mandroid Echostar Unleashes A Video For Their Brand New Single, “Paladin”

Canadian progressive metal band Mandroid Echostar has unleashed a gripping video for a brand new single, “Paladin,” today at The band has also announced they’ve inked deals with Distort Entertainment/Fontana North in Canada to release their debut, full-length record in 2016. Fans can download the new track for free at Additional details about the album are forthcoming.
Watch the new video for “Paladin” at MetalSucks.net
Hailing from Guelph, ON, Mandroid Echostar is a six-piece progressive metal tour de force comprised of Stephen Richards (guitar), Sam Pattison (guitar), Michael Ciccia (vocals), James Krul (guitar/vocals), Matt Huber-Kidby (drums) and Adam Richards (bass). The band wields an unprecedented level of skill and their unique combination of melodic alternative rock and technical heavy metal has sparked feverish excitement in the heavy rock scene.After their formation in 2010, Mandroid Echostar quickly made a name for themselves throughout North America with tours/shows with Megadeth, Every Time I Die, Protest The Hero, Intervals, The Kindred and more and two stellar releases, 2012’s self-titled EP and 2013’s crowd funded Citadels EP, which received rave reviews from critics.
In 2016 the band will take their sound to new heights with their highly anticipated full-length record. Details will unfold in the following months, but for now fans can get a taste of what’s to come with their hard-hitting new single “Paladin.”
“”Paladin” pushes boundaries on both ends of the scale for us, delivering high energy heavy riffs and subtle melodies,” says vocalist Michael Ciccia. “This song represents one of many steps into new terrain on our upcoming record.” 
For their upcoming record the band has partnered with Distort Entertainment/Fontana North to release the album in Canada.“We are beyond stoked to be a part of the distort/Fontana family,” adds Ciccia. “Distort is/was the home to some of our favourite bands and to be part of that lineage is an absolute honour for us. We are very excited to see what the future holds being a part of such an incredible label here in Canada.”
Mandroid Echostar just kicked off a Canadian tour this week that includes dates with fellow Canuck metalheads Protest The Hero. The band is booked by United Talent Agency (Dan Rozenblum) in the U.S. Dates are listed below. Follow the band at for additional updates.
Mandroid Echostar Tour Dates:
Nov 5 – Calgary, AB – The Gateway SAIT (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 6 – Calgary, AB – The Gateway SAIT (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 7 – Edmonton, AB – Starlite Room (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 8 – Edmonton, AB – Starlite Room (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 9 – Red Deer, AB – The Vat
Nov 11 – Medicine Hat, AB – Mario’s Pub
Nov 12 – Regina, SK – The Owl
Nov 13 – Saskatoon, SK – O’Brians Event Centre (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 14 – Winnipeg, MB – Garrick Centre (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 19 – Quebec City, QC – Salle Multi (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 20 – Ottawa, ON – Bronson Centre (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 21 – Montreal, QC – Foufounes (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 24 – Fredericton, NB – Charlotte Street Arts Center
Nov 26 – St. John’s, NL – Rock House (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 27 – St. John’s, NL – Rock House (w/Protest The Hero)
Nov 28 – Halifax, NS – The Marquee (w/Protest The Hero)
Dec 1 – Hamilton, ON – Club Absinthe
Dec 2 – Kingston, ON – Overtime
Dec 3 – London, ON – London Music Hall (w/Protest The Hero)
Dec 4 – Toronto, ON – Opera House (w/Protest The Hero)
Dec 5 – Toronto, ON – Opera House (w/Protest The Hero)
Dec 6 – Toronto, ON – Mod Club Theatre (w/Protest The Hero)
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Seth Glier Interview


On April 24, Seth Glier released his fourth studio album, If I Could Change One Thing, and the 26-year-old took a big step forward by flying to Los Angeles to work with well-known producer, Bill Lefler. Despite this whirlwind for the Grammy-nominated artist, he respectively kept the heart, tenderness, and originality within his works, while testing the bounds of where his writing could end up. This month, we spoke with Glier about his experiences in writing his latest album and his “to be or not to be” approach to stepping out of his comfort zone.
Cliché: What made you want to step outside your comfort zone in terms of tone for If I Could Change One Thing? Did you feel that the folk writing was becoming stagnant?
Seth Glier:
No, not at all! I think the essence of what folk music had taught me was the attitude of a storyteller and the importance of each story in music. I really set out to keep that—to continue to tell stories. However, I wanted to do it within a different medium. I wanted more people to hear my music and it felt like somewhat of a fairly natural transition because I love pop music. I love Katy Perry and I love music with big melodies. I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan and that was pop music in that time. There were really great melodies that were easy to sing along to and they had simple lyrics; it was a simple story. I tried to take my existing audience and push them into that direction. I had also hoped that I was creating music that would bring in a new audience as well!
This record unfolds in a few different stories. What made you want to write from a narrating point of view?
Going into this record, I knew that content was going to be key for me. That was the ultimate decision on what songs were going to make it on the album. I worked with a really great producer and a really great team of people that was going to stylize the songs in a poppier direction, but with that I still thought it was my responsibility to make sure that they were great songs, and that were the best that I had put onto this album. Normally, I will go into making an album by taking the last 14 songs that I had written and I will put them on the record. This time around, I wrote a hundred songs in preparation and by the end of it, it turned out to be a two-year writing process. I wiggled down from that hundred to the ones that spoke the most to me.
I heard that you took an acting class and learned about Shakespeare while preparing to compose this album. Why did you choose to focus on those elements for this record?
I’m a boy from a small town of a thousand people in western Massachusetts. The idea of having to take my songs and open up and trust these people in Los Angeles was intimidating. One of the things that I had to make sure was that this album sounded authentic, that it wasn’t just me trying to make a pop record. It had to sound like me. That was something that I was really concerned with.
In turn, I took acting classes—specifically on Hamlet—because when talking about authenticity, what better example is there than the whole monologue of “to be, or not to be”? That is the very question of how can you remain true to yourself, but to experiment with your passions, your dreams, and your sensibility? That is what I was going through. The acting classes changed how I sang, especially in the studio. For me, it was a scary place because I was under-prepared. That’s where the acting classes came in. I wanted to be prepared for myself.
“I felt that part of myself, where all of a sudden we can recognize that something out there in the world is broken and we become indifferent to it.”
There are a number of musical appearances on this record. Aside from the expansion of your own musical demeanor, why did you reach out to include these other artists?
It’s a lot more fun to make music with other people! Collaborating became a really important part of this process. It kept things moving and it kept things from becoming stale. The other musicians and instrumentals ultimately had to do with the producer and his army of very different musicians for very different parts. In a way, we were making an album of singles. It was one song at a time and each day there were decisions being made based on what was right for the song, not for the whole cohesive album.
Did you find it difficult to let go of your creative control?
Yes and no. I really trusted Bill in that process. We had dinner that first night in Los Angeles and I told him then that this was a big deal for me. I’ve always co-produced my albums. I was fighting for certain things, but I think if anything I was the one advocating for “more synth!” [laughs] I was the one that was having so much fun that I think that we balanced each other out in that sense. Choosing Krystle [Bowersox], I was really really lucky to have her voice on this record. She’s amazing and just a super powerhouse, but also just a really good friend and I can barely do that song without her because she really brought herself to the table. It really became a true duet in every form and she really does own 50 percent of the emotional integrity within that song.
You took a different approach to the recording process with the song “You Wear It Well.”  Where did you conjure the inspiration for recording it ‘Elvis-style,’ so to speak?
I’ve never done anything like that before. I always admired those artists that what you heard was exactly what it was. In a way, I think I gave myself permission to do it this time around, because everything did have a lot of sparkle and production around it that I kind of was like, well, “if there is one song that would be nice to not have nothing, that would be ‘You Wear It Well.’” It is still so special and so fragile.
How many takes did you do?
Oh, boy. [laughs] It was a 7-hour day, but there is no post editing when you decide to record this way. You can’t go, “Oh, well we didn’t get the guitars right, but we can just record that tomorrow!” A lot of that is pre-empted in getting the right sound. You have to make sure that your chair doesn’t squeak and then the hardest work of all is to get yourself out of the way to let the performance take place. It’s sort of capturing the right vibe and the right moment. I probably wound up playing the song 40 times that day and Elvis would have gotten it one take!
It’s almost depressing that recording in a room with a microphone and a guitar is considered “vintage.”
I tour and travel with a 63-year-old saxophone player. He has a whole other wealth of knowledge on how music used to be and the technology. The differences are astounding. We were in a guitar shop a few weeks ago in Chicago and I was asking about a particular pedal. The guy behind the counter was describing the effects and he said, “It’s really cool. It’s pre-digital.” What he was referring to was the era before computers. I was amazed that he called it pre-digital, when it is actually called analog!
I’ve noticed that you talk about writing material in regards to how you felt, not thought.
I think in my level of consciousness, I found that the more I write, the less I know about the process. For me, I think I started to sense some craftsmanship in my own songwriting. I’m not saying that the craftsmanship was bad, but I was hearing in my own songs the craftsmanship before I was hearing the heart or the artistic statement that I was trying to get across.
It got to the point that I was able to show up in a room and just say what was on my heart, whether it was stressing me out or it wouldn’t leave my mind. For instance, one song that I am really proud of off this album is “Standing Still” and I didn’t think about writing that song. I felt myself over the course of a week, during that Newtown shooting. One morning I went to the gym and I found myself looking at the television where there was another shooting and I said to myself, “oh, just another shooting.” I felt that part of myself, where all of a sudden we can recognize that something out there in the world is broken and we become indifferent to it. I went over to write with Steve Seskin and it was on my mind and on my heart. We were never writing something that needed to be a hit, or writing because we needed a love song for this record. I was writing what was on my heart and I wrote a lot of songs. I didn’t get it right all the time, but hopefully I got it right 12% of the time! [laughs]
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Seth Glier Interview: Photographs courtesy of MPress Records

Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Palisades


If you don’t know who Palisades is, then you are missing out on a force that has been powering their way through the music industry since their 2012 EP, I’m Not Dying Today. Cliché received the opportunity to hang out with frontman Lou Miceli in Wantagh, NY to pick his mind on the release of Mind Games, and as well as Palisades sparking a revolution against gentrification in this “5 Questions With…” segment.
Cliché: How has Palisades brought the party to Warped Tour so far?
Lou Miceli: It has been pretty crazy being here. We party, but we aren’t usually the party band, but lately on our bus it has been busy. There is a shit ton of people coming and going from our bus! We are probably going to have to cut that down, because people who sleep in the bus probably want to, you know, sleep. Last night in Philly, it kicked my ass. We went down to South street and it totally kicked my ass with a hangover today. [laughs] It’s cool that we are known for that and people in different genres have been coming over and going, “Yo, I fucking love watching your set,” and it’s so awesome. The dudes from Knuckle Puck and Citizen told us that they love watching our sets and it is so cool, because I love pop punk. It’s really awesome to have a mutual respect for each other.
Looking around at this festival, there seems to be a trend in bands clamoring for a genre to define themselves. How do Palisades stand out against this gentrification?
We don’t have a genre. Genres fucking suck. Music is not about dividing people by what this is called or that is called. It is about bringing people together and when you put a band in a genre, you are just dividing people.  It is actually funny that you bring that up to me because I saw someone tweeted yesterday, “Come watch The Wonder Years!” and someone responded, “Fuck that band. That band sucks,” because that guy was only into hardcore music. It’s something I feel passionate about because we as a band don’t have a genre. Music is more than that and I want to read you my tweet back to that guy: “If you judge music based on bias genre opinions, you’re the most closed minded, fucking degenerate ever. Embrace music you fucking nerd.” It’s true though. I love country music, I love hip hop, and I love classical music. Anything that makes me feel good, then I love it, or even music that makes me feel sad. It’s all about feeling from the music.
DSC_9477You recently released your sophomore album, Mind Games, with the help of Erik Ron. How did Erik help you all take your frustration with the events that inspired the title/theme of Mind Games and pull it together as a whole?
Erik really brought a lot of me as a vocalist. He made me sit in a room with all of the lights off and a bunch of candles with very dim lighting. He would always stop me when I was singing something and be like, “No, dude. I didn’t feel anything from that at all,” or tell me, “This is LP 2 Lou, not LP 1 Lou. I want to feel it.”
I feel like with this album, you really feel the emotion that Erik was pulling out of me. Even on songs that are just fun songs, even with Brandon, too, you really feel it. He and I would sit together when we collaborated on the songs lyrically and some of the melodies and we would just bash out everything. We would just talk about stuff for a while and he would pick my mind on how I felt about things and we would go from there. It was really cool because I never had a producer do that with me before, you know, delve into my mind.
With Mind Games, there is a touch of the music scene that make up New York and New Jersey: rock, hip hop, rap, and the now popular EDM. What can you tell me about taking these elements and incorporating into the melting pot of sounds that is Mind Games?
We all grew up on different genres, especially from being within this area. I’m originally from New Jersey and I lived in Florida most of my life, but I am back in Jersey where the rest of the band is from. I love pop punk and punk rock music, and I always loved hip hop, hardcore — and some of the guys like metalcore. Brandon loves K Pop and J Pop music. Orlo loves Top 40 and EDM music and pop punk. We all just grew up listening to totally different music and that’s just the most unique thing about Palisades. When we write music, we are never like, “oh this needs to be heavier,” or “this needs to sound like this or that.”
In my opinion, and my band’s opinion – and we all have the same view on this – successful artists and successful musicians who have lasted never replicate. The only people who truly survive are the ones who are ready to go out there and to not be someone else. Think about it. All your favorite people in the world started genres because they decided to create something different. Replicating other musicians will only get you so far, but being truly original is when you will go far.  That is how we feel about our music, our clothing, and our brand.  I do all of the designs for Palisades, too. It’s crazy because you walk around Warped Tour and you will see a good amount of people wearing our shit. We take pride in that, too!
I’m glad you brought that up, because I wanted to talk to you about your designs. With the release of Mind Games, with not only the album art, but also with your merch designs, there is an enormous amount of Japanese influence. What inspired this theme, and what made it right for Palisades?
We are all inspired by fashion and most of us are HUGE anime nerds. If you look at Japanese, Korean, and Eastern Asian culture and fashion, they are light-years ahead of us and that is something that I’ve always been super into. Like now, I’m wearing the high socks with shorts. I think that we are one of the first bands, if not then of the few, who wore the long songs with shorts. In shorter terms: street wear. People were making fun of us and now EVERY motherfucker out here is wearing street wear in some shape or form. I really feel like kids recognize that we were the first – and I’m not talking shit here about any bands. Everyone can do what they want – but I’m happy people are acknowledging that we are the forefront and that we do it very well.
I eventually want to have my own clothing line. Right now, I am focused on making Palisades, not just as a band, but a brand. I don’t even think our stuff looks like band merch. How cool would it be if there was a Palisades pop up shop in New York, for like a day? I have a close friend in this group called Profound. They are in Urban Outfitters and Pac Sun, but how cool would it be, if he could help us get Palisades stuff in those outlets? It’s really about marketing yourself and that music will take you as far as you can, but it doesn’t hurt to have an image or a brand out there, because they go hand in hand with your music. Look at Kayne West! I mean you can hate on the man all you want, but the dude is a genius. He came with leather joggers before anyone did and they turned him down like a joke and now every motherfucker is wearing those things. Look at the Yeezys and look at his whole clothing line now.
Palisades 1
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Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Palisades: Photos by Heather Glock

Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Escape The Fate


Escape The Fate are back on Warped Tour and they are here for their fans. This is made known during their set, with each members running out eagerly and greeting their large crowd with smiles and waves. As soon as the first chord hits until the last note, the energy is both high from both the band and fans. Watching this performance, one knew that Escape The Fate, despite their ups and downs, are here because of their iron will to continue their legacy, as well as the unconditional support that they receive from their fanbase. We captured the busy Craig Mabbit and Thomas “TJ” Bell during their New York Warped Tour date and to interviewed them on this segment of ‘5 Questions With…’ Don’t forget to take a glimpse of some photographs from their set in Hartford, CT!
Cliché: You’ve asked your fans to help you create your set list for Warped Tour on your band’s Facebook. How important is it to you to keep your fans a part of the band?
Craig Mabbit: We as a band have been a group with the name Escape The Fate for 10 years now. When you have a 25-minute set on a festival circuit, you think: what songs do you have to play and what is the best set for the fans who take time out of their day to miss 70 other bands playing to come see us? What songs do THEY want to hear? That is what is important to us. Headlining shows are a little easier because of the lenient time limit; you can play whatever you want and play 10 encores if you want. It’s a tight run ship on a tour like this and I wanted to get the fans input.
Kevin Thraser is taking the time to do a workshop on guitar techniques and songwriting. Being able to actually teach fans on how to be active in something you all love and pursue must be quite the experience.
Craig: To be honest, he figured it out on his own. I could have done the same thing, but I didn’t know that it was an option. Before he was officially in the band, he was a session guy just writing songs and working on music with other people. This is something that he is passionate about and to stay on top of his game. It is pretty cool.
Being in the rock scene for so long, what has it been like to watch the golden and fallen years of rock music?
Craig: Depressing.
TJ Bell: It has been a bit of a bummer.
Craig: It’s kind of like, why was I born in the ’80s and not the ’60s? [laughs]
DSC_8318It must add some firepower to your writing though!
It does! You want to keep chipping away and keep hoping that rock has this glorious comeback and that you went through those horrible years when it wasn’t there and you stuck it out and –
TJ: We are carrying the torch, man!
Craig: Yeah! That would be a cool day if that ever happens…
With members leaving and joining, along with switching labels over the years, how have Escape The Fate been able to remain balanced under pressure situations such as these?
Craig: By still having the same goal. We have still the same core members and the same people involved with the band that aren’t necessarily “official” but on the record at the time. We are finally saying, “Let’s get rid of the guys who don’t want to be here.”
TJ: It really didn’t make a dent, to be honest. It was like, ok, then leave. See ya.
Craig: Exactly. Nothing stopped, we kept going. Go, leave, bye. We will keep being a band without you and doing what we want to do. It creates a legacy. This is the finalized group. I cannot see it changing any time soon or at all for that matter. Eh, maybe Robert can go [laughs]…Just kidding, Robert!

You all are working on your fifth full length. What can you tell me about the demeanor and influences that we can expect from this record?
We’ve been through the ringer. I came from Blessthefall and got shit on for being the new singer of the band and TJ came from Motionless In White. He’s been through the ringer in filling in for us and then we were like, “Actually we are gonna keep this guy, sorry!” We’ve been working so hard at it and when you put all of yourself into music and all of yourself touring and you are THAT passionate about it and to still get backlash from people to the highest point, you just have to say, “fuck it.” Why do we even care about anybody else? Why did we start doing all of this in the first place? We didn’t play in a garage and book our first local show to walk out on stage and like [in a small nasally voice] “Oh, gee I hope they like us!” We walked out on stage like, “FUCK YEAH! WE ARE HERE TO PLAY THIS SHOW! LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!!”
We are getting back to our roots and that is what this album is about. We have always been a diverse band and been stand offish in regards to is this too heavy to be on the album? Is this too poppy? We always try to make it cohesive. This time we are like, alright, let’s make it heavy! Let’s write this pop song and make it the poppiest thing we have ever done. Why not?
TJ: We are all in our mid-20s right now. We have been doing this since like 15-16 years old and we like to make everyone happy.  That’s how Escape The Fate has always been.
Craig: We kind of took off the boundaries. [To TJ] Is boundaries the right word?
TJ: Yes.
Craig: We used to be like, let’s not make it too heavy – that way it still fits on the album, but here we are just…
Throwing in a pipe bomb?
Yes! We are tossing a pipe bomb with this record for sure and I cannot wait to put it out there!
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Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Escape The Fate: Photos by Heather Glock

Interview with Jeph Howard of The Used


The Used, ever since their debut in 2002, have been making waves in the music community. With their 6th studio album released last April, the gentlemen have progressed matured as adults as well as within their own writings. The Used have always been a band with something to say, but with Imaginary Enemy, they are making sure that their works are here to grab attention. This isn’t done in a “look at me” fashion, but rather the band’s choice to voice their concern that “the people” are not banding together when it comes to certain issues, whether political, social, or economic. Bassist Jeph Howard took a few minutes to comment on the band’s progress, their future, and what it means to be a live/organic band in today’s overly digitalized music industry.
Cliché: Revolution was written differently with you, Quinn, and Dan composing music to Bert’s vocals. What were the trials of this writing process?
Jeph Howard:
We wrote a bunch of songs and those songs were scrapped, so we started over. We kind of had a bunch of guitar lines that were just there and the vocals were sung over the guitar lines. That’s kind of where the vocals started coming out first. There were no set guitar lines yet and then the melodies would follow. We would piece together the parts that we had wanted to record.
For me, it was cool and I had a good time doing it and I have to say that I had the best time I’ve ever had recording with this record. I know that I normally wouldn’t say that circumstantially, but I like jamming. I love having a guitar player right there and a drummer right there and a singer here. I like jamming as a band. I love playing with Dan’s beats.
This album has very minor touches of production, if any at all. Do you feel this is what helped The Used break back into their niche?
We’ve had a pretty much strong grip on the band since the beginning. Warner had a little bit of influence and a little bit of a push and there have been some things that were pretty shady, but overall as production goes, I would say that’s more of the producer.
We went with Feldman a lot and Feldman is big on production. I’m not very anti-production, but I don’t like a LOT of production. Slim is better. It’s kind of how we all feel as a band. We had to battle him for this. We fought to have less production and it is a good thing for Feldman because he likes to do things his way and I appreciate it, but we wanted to go more natural and more organic, more real. When you see a live band, that is the best kind of music. Recording bands are great, but the live band is the key. The more natural the record sounds then the better it sounds live.
I agree. If everything is digitalized and auto-tuned, you aren’t experiencing who the band is or their true sound. It’s almost like you are being lied to.
Yes! Or it is all computer tracks. I want to see someone make a mistake. I want to see the drummer screw up. I want to see the bass player screw up. That’s a live show. We screw up all the time. We actually make jokes about it. If you see someone pretending to play a flute on stage it is because someone screwed up. It happens every show, three or four times.
DSC_0278-3Imaginary Enemy is influenced heavily by the turmoil of humanity. Bert’s lyrics are intense and geared toward revolution. Was it complicated to write around these words? Do you all share the same opinions?
Revolution is a harsh word. Bert means it as a revolution of consciousness, which is aimed at humanity. I think that is the proper way to use that word. Standing up to fight is still fighting. To change, how do you change what is going on? I live in California, so let’s take that as an idea of what we are talking about. Look at the drought. They are putting so much pressure on the people who live there for water and to save water. “We need to make sure that we save water,” which is really good, but they are not putting pressure on the factory farms. Factory farms are using 90% of the water. So, the people who are using 10% of the water are getting so much grief, so much headache and pressure, but these factory farms… you can call them whatever you want, Satan or whatever, but they are evil. I use that lightly though. It’s using up food and resources. If you take that one little issue and change it, people will start to realize that they need to change these factory farms. That is sort of an idea on our view on revolution. That is what can make waves.
What I am voicing on what I think he means, not exactly what he means, but that you cannot stand around with petitions, fighting, to get money. Money doesn’t fight money. We need people to stand together. This record is about people standing together in unity and as a whole, as a community. I think people coming together is what really makes a difference. It’s easier said than done and people are going to get hurt. It’s going to have backlashes and it isn’t going to be easy.
The lyrical content of this album is influenced by Umberto Eco’s essay, Inventing the Enemy. In it, he notes that a nation is defined by their enemy rather than their companions. Aside from the nods towards this revolution we just spoke about, was this also a nod towards past labels?
I never thought about it that way. I haven’t read the essay and I know that Bert has been trying to get me to read it and I need to! I have so many books on the line and I am a very slow reader! [laughs] Bert references that a lot actually and he does it on stage a lot, too. He wants people to read it, so I should put that ahead of everything else that I am reading.
With labels, we didn’t have a hard time with Warner, really. We did okay with them and they treated us really well. There was some fucked up shit. Not going to lie, but we were with Warner for 10 years. That’s a long time. It went from the Internet starting to burn records, to all of a sudden, everyone was fired and there was only one person doing one job for 700 bands. How do you put any positive focus on any band when you have to take care of 700? We got lost in the mix there, but so did everyone else. Then we moved to Hopeless, but as a distribution only. They are great. I know we are mostly using them as a distribution like I said, but they care. They do charity work all the time and they are really great people. Nothing bad to say about them! We went from a big label to an indie label and actually got a better, positive deal.
You stated a little while ago that you weren’t impressed or inspired by today’s music. What is it about today’s music that is shallow of creativity in your view?
I don’t hate all music that comes out right now. There are a lot of bands coming out right now that are really good. The Marmozets, who we are on tour with, are incredible. They are one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. They have so much passion. They are one of those bands that you see live and go, “I want to be in a band!” That right there contradicts what I said about there not being any good bands out there. There are a lot of good bands, but also there is a lot of garbage. I don’t mean to be mean either. It’s the same thing with everything. Once something gets good, it gets filtered with a bunch of crap.
Back in the day—and I’m only talking from an American music standpoint here—you go to out of the country, there is SO much good music. Here, it’s kind of like, someone figures out a plan of how to do something and all of a sudden computers get involved that can map that same plan. You now can mass-produce bands through this computer machine and they all come out sounding the same and there is no backbone. There is no soul. I mean that in the music way as well. Look at soul music. Back in the day, when you saw gospel soul bands, their music would be like a slap in the face. You can still see those bands today, but what I mean is that is how The Marmozets are. Every Time I Die is like that, too. You’ll see! This tour, we are so lucky to be playing with everyone. Though, that is what I think is missing from some music today. There is no soul.
I hear a rumor that your writing is influenced by hip hop and Latin music?
Latin bass is incredible. I have never really tried playing Latin bass and I don’t know a lot of the idea of it, but what I really dig is Afro-Cuban, which has hip hop similarities to it. Anything with that back beat to it. Growing up, I was into hip hop and Latin music—I mean like REAL Latin music. There is this band Ojos de Brujo from Barcelona that is great. I think they broke up recently, but their bass player is out of control. Their backbeat is just… oh my god.  I would say almost like hip hop-ish too with that twist of Latin.
Would you say that with the revolutionary themes of Imaginary Enemy that The Used has come full circle in where you all want to be?
I can see that. Right now we are definitely the most positive that we have ever been since the beginning. There is a drive in our band right now. I wouldn’t have been able to say that, years ago. That beginning with the first record that was about getting the fuck out and feeling trapped. The whole idea was that one that was there. That want and that same vise is there again, but even stronger. It makes me excited to record again. There is talk of a lot of things happening next year, but we are doing a 15-year thing next year. It’s going to be so crazy!
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Interview with Jeph Howard of The Used: Photographed by Heather Glock

Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Emarosa


Emarosa has been through hell and then some in the past few years. With the departure of former vocalist [and now frontman for Slaves] Jonny Craig, Emarosa took the time to plant their roots and blossom into their full potential as songwriters. With the help of now vocalist Bradley Walden, Emarosa has exploded back into the music scene with their vivid and impressionable album, Versus. We were able to catch the Bradley Walden, keyboardist Jordan Stewart, and bassist Will Sowers a few hours before their set in Wantagh, NY to discuss the trials and balances of making Versus in this segment of, “5 Questions With…”
Cliché: Bradley, when you came on board as the new vocalist for Emarosa, were you initially nervous about bridging the gap between old and new fans?
Bradley Walden:
Yes. It was a lot of stress and a lot of pressure. I think anyone coming in would have felt that. It took me a year to actually go through committing to doing this, so eventually I realized what I was exactly trying out for with the fan base and prior members. I have a good support system in this band and I walk through it now knowing that they chose me for a reason. I trust  myself of my abilities… but initially it was a nightmare! [laughs]

Was there any struggle in the beginning to make your vocal range/style flow against the instrumentals, or was there fluidity in this transition?
I don’t think there were any difficulties.  There is no Emarosa material that I can’t perform, aside from “This Is Your Way Out.” [laughs]
Jordan Stewart: But Chris would be willing to help you out.  We have a good working relationship with Chris.
Bradley: Yeah, I can’t touch any of that screaming stuff, but other than that, Pete and I will sit and maybe write something acoustic and now, it’s been almost two years, and people don’t realize that.  The record hasn’t even been out a year, but I’ve been in the band for like two years now.  And now there’s a different kind of relationship, especially musically, where we can just be like, “OK, write something. Let’s go.” It’s very fluid and very organic. 
DSC_9712-2Is there any of that anxiety now or do you all feel that it is time for vitriolic fans to accept not that this is ‘the new Emarosa’ but rather that this IS Emarosa?
Yeah, I don’t care anymore. [laughs]  This is the band that we want to be. Old fans, they can appreciate those records, because there’s still that music for them to listen to.  At the end of the day, this is what this band is.
Jordan: At the end of the day, we’re so happy with where this band is at right now that nothing else matters. We’re having the time of our lives. We play music every day, and that’s all that matters.
Will Sowers: Yeah, you know we’re responsible for the choices that we made that have put the band where it’s at, but we’re happy where we are, with Brad especially.
With the effort of commandeering Emarosa into its broader sound, can we expect less of the latter in due time?
We don’t know.  We’re not going to pigeonhole ourselves into a “now they’re going to be a mature rock band.” Maybe one day we’ll write a Michael Jackson song, and one day we’ll write a song that you think is Radiohead.  We’re a band.  There’s not one type of music that we have to play or have to write.
Jordan: We’re hoping to get some other tours and stuff in the future to be able to show the other side of Emarosa and show the dynamics within the band. I think that will also come in writing to, for people to see in the material that we’ll be able to put out going further.
Will: At the end of the day, no matter what is put out, you’ll still be able to know, “That is Emarosa.”
Jordan: It will be consistent. There will be a string under there.
There was a lot of pressure with the creation of Versus. Do you believe that with your works post-Versus will have more room to grow, now that Emarosa has flourished to its new potential?
Jordan: Yeah, I definitely think so. Versus wasn’t safe, by any means, but it was definitely the right record at the right time.  We got to show our legs on there. We definitely had a little fun, and definitely showed that we had been off doing some other things for a while and Bradley was able to put that all under one consistent sound and feel successfully.
Bradley: I don’t say this in a negative light, but I do think Versus is a stepping stone record for the band.  And when I say that, in the back of my head I think it makes it sound less than what it is, but it was just the right record to make for this band that that time.  It was a musical decision and an emotional decision for the band, and it had to go through that – we had to go through that process to get to where we are now.  And you can hear from the kids that come to this tour and everything that’s getting posted around that we’re in the place that we wanted to be from day one.  It just took a while.
Jordan: They’re singing back now – they’re singing Versus.
Bradley: Yeah, more kids are singing that more than any other songs.
Jordan: The other stuff feels out of context now. It feels slopped together compared to other songs.
We saw you perform with Chiodos  in April and there was no hint of nervousness when you guys took the stage. You guys just put it all out there.
That’s surprising. [laughs]
Jordan: We’ve come a lot further since then.
Bradley: I’m excited for you guys to see us, and to see the difference.
Jordan: We only get twenty minutes though, so we’re going to play all twenty.
Bradley: We’re going to destroy all twenty!

DSC_9727-2   DSC_6794





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Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Emarosa: Photos by Heather Glock

Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Silverstein


On today’s 5 Questions With… segment, Shane Told and Josh Bradford of Silverstein sat down with Cliché Magazine to discuss Discovering the Waterfront anniversary as well as what changes the band have gone through since their start. Check out the interview and don’t forget to take a look at some of the photos of the band’s set in Hartford, CT below!
Cliché: As Veterans of Warped Tour, do you see any drastic changes over the years, or is the same summer camp every time?
Shane Told: The music has drastically changed. I would say everything else is almost eerily similar. I feel like I can wake up this morning and it would be, say, Kansas 2004, and I would be like, “Yup. Everything is pretty much the same!” [To Josh] Would you agree?
Josh Bradford: I would say so. I mean, there are elements where they are constant and then the smaller details in the music and the fashion are different.  I was even thinking last night: where are the skate ramps? I feel that has more of a place here than the YouTubers.
Shane: Woah. You’re being controversial at the moment!
Josh: [laughs]
With being around for substantial amount of time, do you struggle to keep up with the whole social media movement in the industry, or do you just take it one day at a time?
Shane: Not at all. I would say that we are on the cutting edge of that shit. Someone at one point referred to us as a Myspace band, which I thought was funny because we were a band before Myspace was even around! I guess that is an accurate statement in some ways, but Myspace has gone by the way side and became Nospace, but whatever. We’ve always embraced the new shit social media spits out. I think we even had an Ello account…
Josh: Oh my god, we did.
Shane: Which never panned out! We were one of the first bands on Vine and on Instagram. We are always on that stuff and I guess as you would say veterans or old guys, but we’ve always understood the importance of that stuff.
With your 10 year anniversary tour, you brought along Beartooth, Hands Like Houses, and Major League, who are all pushing through the industry with new sounds. Were you looking to embrace your legacy with Discovering the Waterfront with the up and coming revolutionary music in the industry?
Shane: Yes. When you do a tour like that, an anniversary for an album that you wrote ten years ago, there is kind of two ways you can approach it. You can bring out older bands who were with you during that time frame, or you can do what we chose to do and take on the future and pushed ahead. Not only are the bands the next generation, but we have a hand in influencing those bands. The drummer from Beartooth was quoting our DVD from our first album and it is so cool to see that we have been influencing some of these bands that in ten years, they will be doing their own ten year anniversaries. It is a better approach from bringing out fellow bands from those years ago and to leave things in the past. We are a band pushing towards the future as well with our new album. We are promoting that album on the tour as well. That’s important to us; the future.
Looking back on Discovering The Waterfront, do you feel as though you’ve learned as how you have evolved as a person?
Josh: I found myself thinking that a little bit as we were playing those shows. It was always nice in the set when we came to playing tracks off of Discovering the Waterfront, because it was like, “these songs are not so difficult!” They tell of the time when we wrote them when we were a little bit less experienced. I think they are comfortable and solidified us in our place in the industry, but as Shane said, we are here to move forward now. It’s pretty nice!
Shane: One cool thing is when we started practicing and looking back, for me as the main lyricist, when I looked back on the words, I was able to put myself where I was 10 year ago writing these words and I remembered what I was thinking when I read the lyrics. It’s interesting, because when I look back on those words, I just think, “Man, you are such an idiot! Why did you ever think that way?” There are also moments, when I look at other songs and I go, “Oh yeah, I remember feeling that way.” Maybe reading it now helps my current self understand where I’ve been and helps me where I am at this moment. It was a bit refreshing in some ways and I would say a bit emotional some times in remembering some stuff that happened in the recording process and overall in the memory of it.
In regards to the new album, what made you want to compose a concept record that is geographical? Can this be taken to be an autobiography of the band’s experiences since you started?
Shane: Yes. It almost touches on what I was just saying before about doing the album shows and reflecting back, because when we were writing the new album when we were playing the Discovering the Waterfront shows, it had us thinking back to the last 15 years of us being a band. I think that is where the idea stemmed from; looking back. I wasn’t sure how autobiographical it was going to be, but when I sat down and started writing, that’s what came out from it. Geographically, it made sense because it was we have been doing the better part of our adult life. We’ve been touring and going to these different cities and having all these experiences, so for us it made sense to write about them.
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Warped Tour: 5 Questions With Silverstein: Photos by Heather Glock

Top 10 Warped Bands to Check Out


Attention, everyone: pop punk is back. It has been made clear that with the lineup at this year’s Skate and Surf Festival and with the full lineup announced for this year’s Warped Tour, 2015 looks to be the biggest year for the genre… so far. Aside from this rise, Warped Tour is one of the few times a year where the mashing of music culture comes together. Looking at the lineup, I’m personally pretty stoked to see this year’s clash of genres take over Jones Beach on Long Island. Aside from Pierce the Veil, I know that I won’t be missing these ten bands listed below. Who are you excited to see? Tweet me at @H_Glock and let me know who you are most excited to see in your home state!
The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years performed so intensely at this year’s Skate and Surf Festival that bassist Josh Martin ran off the stage to throw up because he was screaming so hard. The band’s energy is one of the aspects that are loved about this band, and their set will most likely get you amped up for the whole day. Who needs Red Bull? Check out The Wonder Years for your daily dosage of pop punk energy.
Must Listen:Passing Through A Screen Door
Hands Like Houses
This Australian band is a veteran from 2013’s Warped Tour and it is exciting to have them back. Hands Like Houses are another energetic bunch that know how to get their crowd riled up for a good time. They have revealed that they are in the studio working on their third full-length album and with the release of their surprisingly heavier single, “I Am,” it makes one anxious to see what surprises they may have in store within their set.
Must Listen:Introduced Species
With PVRIS’ intimate show at Webster Hall (NY) selling out in 60 seconds flat, I would say that this band knows how to put on a live performance. This Boston alternative indie rock band released their latest album, White Noise, last year and the album had moments so powerful and melodically spine-chilling that that one contemplates the meaning with vocalist Lyndsey Gunnulfsen. Not to mention their tendency to write sneak attack explosions of heavy emotion and gripping guitar riffs. They are NOT one to miss.
Must Listen: St. Patrick
This Wild Life
Originally a pop punk start-up band, this artist has decreased in band member size, but gained something more in terms of sounds and emotion. While there are only two members, it is more than just an acoustic act with two guys. Skilled in both vocals and instrumentals, This Wild Life almost reminds you of a soft Copeland.
Must Listen:Roots and Branches
ANY fan of The Chariot should immediately check out front man Josh Scogin’s new project ‘68. Their songs are heavy, but odd in its vocals at times in which you can see Scogin’s influences of The White Stripes and The Black Keys, but also in his own inspiration to step out of the shadow of being The Chariot’s front man. What is impressive is that, like This Wild Life with its big sound, there are only two members: Scogin on vocals and guitar with Michael McClellan on drums. If you want to watch a band to know what kind of sound/thing they are going to do next, you know who to see.
Must Listen: Track 1 (R)
Emarosa has finally come back into the music scene with new vocalist, Bradley Scott Walden (ex-Squid the Whale vocalist). At first, it was concerning since Jonny Craig had left, but Walden fills those shoes just fine. In fact, Walden is not only able to almost redefine Emarosa, but is also able to keep what made them a band in the first place. For fans of Relativity, Emarosa’s Versus is almost an echo of that record and it does set up a promising future.
Must Listen: People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play
Want something a little bit more tender instead? While there is a pretty good list of acoustic acts to see this tour, I would personally recommend Koji. Andrew Koji Shiraki knows how to write positive songs along with writing lovely melodies.
Must Listen: Chasing a Ghost
August Burns Red
If you don’t know who August Burns Red is, then you are sorely missing out in the modern metal scene. ABR is a band that is consistent, releasing a new album every two years, including a holding record. Since 2005, ABR has always ventured into their music energetically and with odd metered breakdowns imbedded. Lately, they have been going for thinking outside the box with their sounds to avoid becoming generic, so it should make for an interesting set.
Must Listen:White Washed
Set It Off
I received a chance to interview Set It Off’s front man Cody Carson back in December for our 12 Days of Christmas segment. Carson was very passionate about his family and how much his music means to him, and it is evident within Set It Off’s music. The band is another pop punk act on this list, but their songs are just so damn catchy. You’ll certainly be dancing or jumping around when this band hits the stage.
Must Listen:Why Worry
*PLUS* This wonderful dual band cover of “Uptown Funk” with Against the Current.
Motion City Soundtrack
Formed in 1997, Motion City Soundtrack has been best known for their first LP, Commit This To Memory. The band are out on tour this year for their 10 year anniversary of said record. However, if you are checking out the band for the first time or are getting back into the groove of MCS’s pop rock sounds, then I would recommend hitting their stage both for the old hits and singles from their upcoming release.
Must Listen: Everything Is Alright
“Top Ten Warped Bands to Check Out” originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s June/July 2015 issue.
Featured Image of The Wonder Years by Heather Glock
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Dustin Kensrue Interview


While Thrice caused a buzz by announcing a reunion show at Skate and Surf Festival, the band’s front man, Dustin Kensrue, had released his fourth studio album on April 21 titled Carry the Fire. Moving away from his 2007’s acoustic-based album Please Come Home, Kensrue has managed to compose this solo album with various tones and characteristics. While this album does carry stories of suffering, there are breaks in the darkness with tender songs of love and light. “Carry the Fire” is a term that has been used in literature to describe hope for humanity. We spoke briefly with Kensrue about his translation of this term, as well as the metamorphosis of tone that Carry the Fire transgresses with each song.
Cliché: “Carry the fire” to me is such an interesting phrase. In Greek mythology, the titan Prometheus gave fire to humans to survive. In Cormac McCarthy’s novels, humanity struggles to uphold this flame within themselves. What is it about this theme that became your muse for Carry the Fire?
Dustin Kensrue:
The father and son in The Road find themselves in circumstances which bring certain moral considerations to a very fine point. They are no longer abstractions or luxuries. They are either clung to tooth and nail or abandoned as too heavy to bear on the arduous journey. While a post-apocalyptic landscape works wonderfully to bring ethical and teleological questions into sharp relief, the questions themselves are the same ones that we all wrestle through or choose to ignore every day. McCarthy’s metaphor serves as an apt distillation of the questions that I have always been drawn to in my own writing.
Your vocals change drastically during the course of this album. Why play with different styles? Did you feel that you were coming to a stagnant position in terms of tone?
No. It would seem to me that that would be about the last thing anyone would say about my career as a musician since Thrice has always been changing and evolving and no other project I’ve worked on has sounded very similar to another. In terms of why things sound the way they do, I think it helps to see everything as connected. If the vocal style varies, it is to compliment the sound of the music in some way, and the variation of musical sounds change to compliment the composition, which itself is also influencing and being influenced by the lyrical content. I think the melody is usually the most base or core element in my songwriting and has the most influence on every other part, though I spend the most time on lyrics. Melodies are things I pluck out of the air when they fly by and I recognize something special in them. I forage for them, collect them. But writing lyrics, for me, feels much more analogous to a cross between the work of a fine craftsman and a codebreaker.


Dustin Kensrue at The Studio-Webster Hall

Did you feel that recording in your home helped you pull out the lyrics and various tones that weren’t able to come to the surface before?
I don’t think the space was especially helpful, at least in this case. We had just moved back to California from Seattle and were crashing at my mom’s place while figuring out where we wanted to settle exactly. I recorded in my dad’s old office, which had a very makeshift setup with no character at all and construction outside the window on two neighboring houses literally every day. So, I think I had to write and record in spite of an environment that was un-conducive to focus or creativity. It felt like recording in exile rather more than at home.
Being a traveling musician is hard on both the artist and their family. Were the songs “Ruby,” “Juggernaut,” and “Of Crows and Crowns” written as a thank you to your wife for her support of your career?
I wouldn’t view it as having an intended purpose as a token of thanks, though I am most assuredly thankful for my wife. The songs simply are what came out when writing. For instance, I’ve had the melody and music for “Ruby” for a few years and only right before recording it did I finally figure out what is was supposed to be about. “Crows” would be an exception, as I did write that specifically for her and finished it for her birthday a few years ago.
You were recently on Emery’s podcast Bad Christian. There has been some controversy revolving around the band’s decision to create this podcast. After being a guest, do you personally view any just cause for calling this podcast “controversial’?
I’m not sure why specifically it has been called controversial, but I can imagine why both Christians and non-Christians would be bothered by it, and these are probably the same reasons that both groups are served best by it.
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Dustin Kensrue Interview “Passionate Flame” originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s June/July 2015 issue.
Photos courtesy of  Heather Glock

Interview with Teenage Bottlerocket


Teenage Bottlerocket don’t want to be the next emo band to decorate your bedroom walls. Instead, the gentlemen enjoy creating music that doesn’t purposely define who they are as band; music is just what they do. With their sixth LP Tales From Wyoming already out, the gentlemen are making it very loud and clear and that they aren’t here to write for the sake of writing. Guitarist and vocalist Ray Carlisle took the time to talk with Cliché Magazine on their latest studio album and pulling out the best in themselves with a little help from producer, Bill Stevenson.
Cliché: Each record that has been written had come forth with their own personality. Your 6th LP, Tales From Wyoming, sums up the band’s work to date. How would you characterize your experiences over the years?
Ray Carlisle:
I would characterize our experience as to having a lot of fun. We feel real fortunate because when the band started out, we played a lot of shows in front of no one. Now it seems as though everyone is interested in us and when you have a lot of people showing up to your show on a Monday night, that makes things really exciting for us. We are really excited for what the future holds for us. Basically what I mean to say is that we’ve had a lot of fun and we’ve made a lot of memories.
Tales From Wyoming is diverse regarding subject matter such as topics like Metallica, junk food, relationships, etc. Do you compose on such an array of topics so you do not pigeonhole yourselves on over-saturated subjects?
Oh yeah. You know what it is? I find it easy to write “girl” songs or “love” songs; especially songs about a girl specifically in the negative light. It is easier for us to write what we call “bad girl” songs. [Laughs] Whenever we are done writing a record, at the end of it all before we go in the studio, we review it and go, “Ok, well how many songs are about girls?”  It turns out to be about half. The Metallica song is sort of a relationship/girl song, but we do have stuff like “Too Much La Collina” which is about junk food and “Haunted House” which is about a …well, Haunted House obviously.
One thing that made me laugh about this album is the fact that fans and critics always seem to mention that your album cover is now tri-colored instead of double. What’s your take on people pointing out something so trivial?
[Laughs] I mean, I guess I understand since our last five albums have all had one background color and one text color, but it’s nothing to freak out over. Tell the crying guy to stop! [Laughs]
The acoustic ballad, “First Time,” is a beautiful break in the chaotic diversity of subjects on the new record. The song was kept acoustic because it did not sound right as a full band. Why was the decision made to keep such a drastically different song?
I’ve always enjoyed playing acoustically. I wrote “First Time” and to be honest I was a little embarrassed to show Brandon (Carlisle) the song. When I did show it to him, I got a real positive reaction. Everybody in the band was real supportive of it and I’m not about to walk out on stage with an acoustic guitar. We are a punk band and we do not want to sound like that, but it is cool to do something different. In my opinion, the song turned out beautiful and we wanted that to happen.
I guess the decision to do it was really weaved around the fact that we all like the song and people started to say that we are a Ramon-core band. Everything is Ramones, but we have always had songs like “Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid” or with “The First Time” on this new record, where it did not adhere to that formula. This song is also proof that we are not afraid to dig outside the box when it comes to song writing. I really love the way the song turned out and I love reading people’s reactions to it. Half the people hate it and half the people love it, but I think it is cool!
“We want to sound like Teenage Bottlerocket with each new record and that is what we are going to keep on doing.”
Bill Stevenson and Andrew Berlin pulled Dee Dee Ramone inspiration out of Miguel for his bass lines. Was there any inspiration that Bill and Andrew were able to pull from you for your contributions?
Just vocally. I wanted to sing the best that I could. I put in a lot of takes for my vocals and I had to make sure that he [Bill] got the best performance that he could out of me. That’s definitely the most contribution that I had made on as an individual on this album. No one can sing like me and that’s because it’s my own voice and I needed to do the best that I could for this album.
Bill Stevenson kept a watchful eye and played his hand when he had to, but gave you all breathing room instead of watching the clock to write. Would you say that this approach help you all grow in terms of song structure?
Absolutely. We never worked with a producer that did that was like that.  We’ve always gone in and produced the records on our own. Andrew has been involved as far as takes are concerned, but Bill really jumped in there and said, “Hey, let’s try this song with this beat” or “use this arrangement for this song.” Not every suggestion that he made ended up flying with us. Sometimes we said, “No, let’s not do that,” but a lot of the things that he did suggest, we listened to and it made the cut and it influenced the album. We never worked with a producer that was willing to take the reins and say, “No, dudes, let’s try this instead,” and for the most part we had no problem saying, “Hell yeah, let’s try that,” and other times it worked out for the better. It was cool to finally work with a producer like Bill that got really involved with the album and helped make it different. We love Bill for that and we love working with him.
Teenage Bottlerocket has been able to grow without changing your sound completely or “moving in a new direction.” How important is it to you to remain within the walls of what defines TBR instead of molding yourselves to what others expect?
We set out to do is to write the songs that we love. We’ve always loved this style of music. I don’t mean to say that it’s not important, what I mean is that music is important to us. We write songs that have always been our sound and moving in a new direction with our music is something that we aren’t interested in. We aren’t going to come out with an emo record or ‘oh here is our weird album!’. That’s cool that bands do that, but we aren’t interested. We want to sound like Teenage Bottlerocket with each new record and that is what we are going to keep on doing. It’s something we don’t think about. We write songs and record them. That’s how we work.
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Interview with Teenage Bottlerocket: Photograph courtesy of Teenage Bottlerocket

Interview with Rocky Votolato


Rocky Votolato has made his way back into the music studio after fighting a battle with depression and existential contemplation of why he should even make his return. It took the help of ex Death Cab For Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla and his brother Cody of The Blood Brothers to help creatively canvas the emotional rollercoaster that was forcing him to shut down.  Hospital Handshakes was the end result, but he doesn’t want his fans to feel sorry for him. Instead, Rocky uses this record to encourage his fans to use creativity to find what truly motivates and inspires one to not only live their life, but to love it.  In this interview, Rocky opened up to Cliché about what it took for him to not only write his 8th studio album, but to even write a single lyric or chord for the first time since his 2012 release of Television Saints. 
Cliché: What can you tell me about the overall tone of Hospital Handshakes? Where did this unique title derive from?
Rocky Votolato:
That title came from a poem that my wife wrote, so she let me have that title. I really just fell in love with it. I thought that it worked really well to describe the seasons of my life, where these songs came out of. Those words, I feel like each one of them has a double meaning for me. Hospitals are scary places usually and it isn’t somewhere that you want to end up, but people are healed there and come out better than when they went in. Handshakes can be seen as when you go through something intense and your hands are physically shaking or if you are shaking someone’s hand in a greeting or as in a goodbye. I really liked both those words and how they play together with those meanings. I had a bunch of different other titles that I was playing around with and I kept coming back to that title. For a while I’ve been interest in this concept called ‘The Wounded Healer.” Have you heard of that before?
I have not. What can you tell me about it?
It is someone who has gone through a really traumatic experience and this person lives through it and recovers. They then use that experience to help other people heal. The album essentially is a story about healing and redemption. That title, Hospital Handshakes, I felt was a better and more original way of pointing to that idea, instead of saying we are healers. Broken Healers actually was the original title. This title perfectly defines the period of my life and everything that I was going through.
You gathered quite the collection of musicians to collaborate on this record. What did it mean for you to let go of your creative control?
I think for me that was a really good thing. That was one of the biggest things that needed to happen in order for me to make this record, even to just keep making music at all. I think I had become overly controlling. Over the course of my past few albums, True Devotion and Television Saints, I had ended up engineering it on my own and I did most of the instrumentals myself; they were true solo projects in that way and I think I just started to overdo it with being way too controlling and self-critical. For me, letting go of all that felt really good. It felt really good to surround myself with people, to trust them and to follow their instincts, not mine and to let it take shape.
Was it difficult to not interject?
It was challenging sometimes, but I was able to stop myself or from jumping to conclusions too quickly. I was able to sit back and to find the beauty in it. I followed the logic to see why they made those creative choices. Sometimes it takes a little bit more patience and I was really open and was embracing the creative collaboration. If you have great players and people that you are comfortable around, it leads to great music and partnerships. Your projects begin to flow after that. It was really good for me to embrace that this time around.
“By the summer of that following year in 2013, I had decided to quit music altogether. “
You’ve said that the songs sort of wrote themselves and poured out rapidly and were substantial. Were you surprised to find yourself burdened with a variety of emotion towards your experiences?
Absolutely! It was incredibly overwhelming! [Laughs] If you can imagine the backdrop of what was going on in my life when I wrote this record and the few years before… Basically when Television Saints came out, I was shutting down creatively. I had a really hard time writing for that record. I had just gotten into a place where the well had run dry and I was not able to write. I had become really self-critical and overly controlling, like what we were just talking about.
By the summer of that following year, in 2013 I had decided to quit music altogether. I just couldn’t see the reason for doing it anymore and I was frustrated. I had been writing songs and pulling things out of me since I was 13 years old, so I really depended on music. For me, it is a place to deal with life itself and existential suffering or just whatever. Things built up into a painful dam, all of this energy piled up without an outlet and that’s why I think when it broke open, it became overwhelming and I just started to write like crazy. I really think it came down to shift in perspective. Basically, I had to wake up to the reason that I started to play music in the first place. I had to stop being so overbearing, so controlling and so self-critical. I surrendered to the process and it was a really healing experience and it really shows in the record. I was dealing with really intense issues and dealing with severe depression and I felt like I was totally losing my mind.
You can really hear that emotional distress with your single “Hereafter.” That song is very raw and emotional where you have painted a portrait of the hardships of your career as a musician. Was this song written because you had different views of the music industry than when you first started?
I feel that it has. I was jaded from running my head against the wall with trying to exist and to find my place. The music industry is really tough and I’m sure you hear that from artists all the time, but I just don’t want to take this for granted anymore. Music is a gift and that is what I love about it. It is an outlet for creative expression. It’s really important and that connection with people through music is what is really important as well.
We all get bogged down in things that don’t really matter and we let that take over our perspective on whatever industry that we are in. I think everybody struggles with this, no matter what you are working in. We are all fighting for the same thing at the end of the day. It’s all about people finding what they love and what they want to do and we are trying to find a place to belong. We need to express ourselves with whatever we love to do. That is what happened to me and I really hope that I can hold onto that. I want to be excited about the music industry again and I’ve been listening to more records and I’m going to shows, writing more music. I just feel really grateful and it finally dawned on me to be grateful for what I have achieved and the fact that I can even play music in the first place.
“It was just creative energy looking for somewhere to go.”
Hospital Handshakes blends two genres of some of your projects. What made you want to combine such an interesting mix of post punk and dark folk?
I was actually just reflecting on that. I think that it happened subconsciously. It wasn’t planned out or thought of beforehand. It just happened naturally due to the fact that I wasn’t really having an outlet for the louder music. Waxwing is the band that people knew me from before I started doing my solo project. It’s been largely inactive for years and years. Before this record, I was trying to get the band back together and we did a few reunion shows. We were trying to make a new record and we wrote a few new songs, but it just didn’t work out with schedules and other projects. Especially with my brother Cody who is in The Blood Brothers and he is in a million other projects. That outlet wasn’t there for me, but I still love that kind of music and I still have that desire to create things that aren’t formed by that inspiration.
I think it just happened that my solo thing is the only net left to catch whatever is coming through creatively. For me that’s fine. It was just creative energy looking for somewhere to go. I mean who knows, maybe in the future I will work on another project that is louder and more aggressive, but for now I am really enjoying doing this and incorporating these two styles into one. I am excited to be taking a band out on tour with me this summer! It’s almost going to be a reinvention of what the Rocky Votolato solo project is and I’m excited to do it.
You are currently on a Living Room Tour. When an artist composes a work, they are sharing their personality and their life with fans, whereas Living Room Tours are where fans invite you to their lives and their stories. What stirs you to forge such an intimate bond with your fans?
I just love the idea. For me it makes sense because I love my fans and I have this incredible family of people who I have connected with due to my music. I am so grateful for that and for all of those people. At the end of the day that is the whole reason that keeps me going. It makes a deeper impact when you play right in someone’s living room where there are 30-50 people standing in front of you. It’s super organic and intimate. After the show you get to shoot the breeze and I think the fans like it too. It’s the most organic way you can experience music. There is no PA system, no stage. It strips away all of the distraction and it leaves you there with the songs.
I was really nervous when I first started doing them, like I showed up to some random person’s house and I didn’t know what to do! Though, I’ve seen over and over how warm and receptive the fans are and it just makes for a great environment to connect to both the music and the fans.

Rocky Votolato’s Hospital Handshakes is now available through No Sleep Records. You can purchase here or on iTunes.
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Interview with Rocky Votolato: Photograph courtesy of Rocky Votolato