Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RIVAL SONS say: "Don't Give Them Your Soul"

Question: Hey Dig, what's the story behind Rival Sons? I mean, they're not exactly the usual Earache fare...Earache is predominantly an extreme music label and the only thing extreme about Rival Sons is that they're extremely good; they're a 21st Century Zeppelin.

And I don't think it is a bad thing that Earache is branching out into other, maybe more accessible genres, which leads me to my second question: the music biz. I know that this has been written about many times before, and on this very blog, but has the changing face of the music industry kinda necessitated that you take on bands that, maybe, just a few years ago, would not have found a place on your roster?

I know Earache has always had the odd "misfit" here and there, but they could still be viewed as being, to some extent, extreme (Ultraviolence and Fudge Tunnel, for example) but Rival Sons are stadium rock giants in the making! They sound like a major label act, a band that could, conceivably, sell millions.
from terry.carleton@googlemail.com

Answer: Cheers for the kind words about RIVAL SONS Terry- they are indeed one of the most brilliant new bands around. UK's Classic Rock magazine even proclaimed them as "America's best new band" on last months cover. Err, maybe that's taking things a bit far, but its undeniable they are one of the hottest new Rock bands on the scene. In no time at all the band have scored a powerful management company Azoff/Frontline (Van Halen, Aerosmith, Journey etc) and hooked up with Kiss' publishing company to rep their songs. This is all before the band even has a proper album out. Their 2009 debut album was a DIY affair- no CD, just self-released digitally, so the follow up 'Pressure and Time' (Earache 20th June) will be the first time fans can actually purchase a real physical copy, on CD and Vinyl LP.

I take your point about it being unusual for Earache to be working with such a "commercial" sounding band, given the extreme acts we're famous for. I'll explain how and why below.

The truth is - the band were signed for the exact same reason that any number of our previous 450 releases on this label were- we absolutely LOVE Rival Sons, LOVE their music, LOVE the fellas in the band, and especially LOVE the musical 'authenticity' they are spearheading back into the turgid rock scene.

Heres the RIVAL SONS Pressure and Time clip, filmed in 23 locations around Southern California over 2 days.(No CGI or green screen was used)

Earache is a rare Indie label in that I actually founded it and still own it and run it, so there's no business suits/ shareholders/money men to pander to. Meaning I sign and work with whatever bands I feel like. Working in the metal biz as I do, I hear so much manufactured, modern, pro-tooled crap that to hear a genuine, authentic kick-ass rock band who sounded alive in the studio, was a joy to behold.

I discovered the band on the web, and last summer began excitedly tweeting about them, meanwhile opening contract talks to sign the band. Guaranteeing them complete artistic freedom as well as a more than fair record deal ensured a deal was struck. Helpfully, Rival Sons were not in anyway judgemental about an Indie label deal, some of the members had been on a major for a previous band, but the deal went sour during downsizing/ cut-backs so they know the harsh reality. Earache and Rival Sons are both strongly inclined towards the counter-culture movement so we're on a similar wavelength, which again, helps.

Everyone from teenage thrash-heads to elitist blues-buffs can relate to the RIVAL SONS' honesty, energy and genuine vibes. Earache isn't the only Indie Metal label going down this route either. Long standing Dutch Indie Mascot/Provogue records arguably led the way with Black Country Communion who were one of my albums of last year. Like Earache, Mascot spent the 90's releasing Death metal acts such as Sadus. European metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast recently entered the 'classic' Hard Rock fray too, their Swedish band Graveyard is one to watch out for. Its worth mentioning that London's Rise Above label was releasing 70s sounding rock records before anyone else.

RIVAL SONS are no mere Classic Rock/Led Zep copyists though - their musical roots go much deeper than that. Rival Sons go right back to the original source material, the members have an encyclopedic knowledge of early blues and soul music, from which they draw their musical inspiration. As frontman Jay Buchanan says in interview- he's as much influenced by Robert Johnson as Robert Plant. Jay also cites The Staple Singers, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Leadbelly, Wilson Pickett, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, John Jacob Niles, Johnnie Ray, Robert Petway, Son House and countless others.

"I spent my childhood like any other young boy," BUCHANAN recounts, "I wanted to be a Samurai, a cowboy, a professional skateboarder etc. But the biggest difference between my friends and I is that I mostly wanted to be
Robert Johnson when I grew up."

It was blues legend ROBERT JOHNSON's landmark 1930's recordings which displayed a combination of blues guitar, oozing with genuine soulful feeling, that would influence musicians for generations to come, including the likes of JIMI HENDRIX, ERIC CLAPTON, BOB DYLAN, LED ZEPPELIN - and several decades later, would also influence a young teenage BUCHANAN at home in California: "I would sit and listen for hours on end to those old blues recordings, and I remember feeling possessed by those ghosts and their honest, spooky voices."

Heres RIVAL SONS with their epic, jawdropping, set-closer "Soul":

As for your claim they could be "stadium rock giants in the making"- well only time will tell. I agree with you that RIVAL SONS would deserve it, but its a long shot in the current music industry climate. A biz which worships at the altar of the Televised talent show/ X-factor production line type crap is not known for valuing honesty or integrity in music.

Wish us luck!!

Heres Blues legend Robert Johnson:

Heres an inside look at RIVAL SONS filmed by new bourbon drink Jeremiah Weed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whats up with Akercocke?

Question: Is there any current (as in 2011 or at least late 2010) status on Akercocke? Their website went down and it seems that the DVD they were going to release just kind of disappeared? I've been missing them.

Also, thanks for the 320 rip of the new Wormrot album, it's good to see even record companies caring about good quality!

from blberkeley@aol.com

Answer: Akercocke are still semi-active dude, they just played Norway's INFERNO festival a couple of weekends ago infact. See the song 'Leviathan' performed in France as recently as April 2011 below:

Akercocke hasn't been on the Earache label for a few years now - since their deal with us expired after 2007's "Antichrist" they decided to go the DIY route- which is fair enough, and we wished them the very best in that endeavour.

So speaking unofficially, it seems to me that a few factors have affected the Akercocke camp in recent times to cause them to disappear from view. Notably mainman Jason Mendonca has a young family now - preventing any extensive touring.Though the band do still play weekend gigs and a select few festivals so they still have a profile and have categorically not split up.

Because of the recent hiatus, guitarist Matt Wilcock and drummer David Gray formed The Antichrist Imperium, while David has been bashing the skins at a much slower tempo as drummer for My Dying Bride on the live circuit.

It was reported last year that guitarist Matt Wilcock (Ex-Berzerker) was quitting Akercocke to persue other projects, with no bad blood evident. He was replaced by Dan Knight of fellow London extremists Ted Maul, who can be seen on the video above.

As for the non appearance of the DVD. I have no first hand knowledge, so can only speculate: I reckon that somehow the finished footage didn't match the bands exacting visual standards, so it must have been shelved, rather than release a sub-standard product to fans.

The band website going down and domain being for sale is news to me- given that Jason is a highly qualified IT professional in his day job you'd think it would be a breeze to at least fix up a website to keep fans informed. The fact they choose to not keep up a twitter or facebook account, and their last update to myspace was Feb 2010, just adds to the overall air of mystery surrounding the band. I'm sure its just simply because mainman Jason is too busy with "real life" to find time to update.

Heres AKERCOCKE at Inferno festival May 2011.