Quickly shaping up to be the biggest music festival in the USA this year, Blue Ridge Rock festival has announced their full line-up of 180 bands. Headlining the massive 4 day festival are Five Finger Death Punch, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin, and Limp Bizkit. There is a special club warm up show which includes headliner Ludacris, T-Pain, and Lil Jon. Also on tap: the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue, a vaudeville freak show of wonder by Hellzapoppin’s Ringleader and Producer, Mr. Bryce “The Govna” Graves. In addition, excitingly, the festival will be hosted by Steve-O (MTV’s Jackass); and special guest Lou Brutus (SiriusXM). The fest takes place September 9th – 12th at Blue Ridge Amphitheater, a long-awaited large-scale concert venue in Southwest Virginia. Tickets are on sale now at the link below and here is the full lineup:
I believe that it is human nature to want to find a lasting way to immortalize a loved one that has passed away. History has proven that the custom of creating a tangible or abstract method paying homage to the deceased has been a mainstay in almost every culture bringing comfort and solace for centuries. Humans that possess the soul of an artist seem to process loss and grief on a completely different level, most of the time creating something ethereal from their pain. Case in point, the sixth studio album from Heavy Metal badasses HELLYEAH, Welcome Home (Eleven Seven Music) is a fitting and spine-tingling tribute to their dearly departed drummer, Vinnie Paul Abbott. The album as a whole possesses some very tasty stand out tracks.Continue reading
The time is nigh! For tomorrow Bud Light River City Rockfest number six takes place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The fest has expanded with a huge lineup this year featuring Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Chevelle, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Clutch, Yelawolf, Living Colour, Suicidal Tendencies, and many more. The AT&T Center is San Antonio’s premier live entertainment venue, the home of the San Antonio Spurs and Rampage, and hosts the biggest concerts in South Texas. Check out the full lineup, set times and other experiences on tap. Continue reading
Bud Light River City Rockfest has expanded is festival with a huge lineup for year number six. Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Chevelle, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Clutch, Yelawolf, Living Colour, Suicidal Tendencies, and many more to booked play the one day festival on September 22nd at the AT&T Center is San Antonio’s premier live entertainment venue, the home of the San Antonio Spurs and Rampage, and hosts the biggest concerts in South Texas.Continue reading
News has come down that award-winning music producer Kato Khandwala died yesterday in a motor-cycle crash. No other information is available at this time. Khandwala was known best for his work with bands such as The Pretty Reckless, Pop Evil, Blondie, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Drowning Pool and Pierce The Veil. Some of the bands he worked with released comments, upon the breaking news of his death. Continue reading
Directed by Daniel Wanghorn of Toaster in the Tub Productions, this is the first video released by the band since Hellelujah came out last month.
[amazon asin=B0187RXFX&template=iframe image1]
Chicago Open Air, buoyed by naming Rammstein as their inaugural headline act, has now added a plethora of bands including Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Chicagoans like Disturbed, Chevelle, and Ministry, plus Meshuggah, Of Mice and Men,In This Moment, Hollywood Undead, Trivium, Carcass, Hatebreed, Periphery, Drowning Pool, Butcher Babies, Through Fire, Breaking Benjamin, Pop Evil, Gojira, Deafheaven, The Devil Wears Prada, Helmet, Nothing More, Saint Asonia, Miss May I, Beartooth, Silver Snakes, City Of The Weak, Marilyn Manson, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Babymetal, Asking Alexandria, Corrosion Of Conformity, Letlive. All That Remains, We Came As Romans, Jim Breuer & The Regulators, Upon A Burning Body, Gemini Syndrome and more. With this incredible lineup of talent as well as craft beer and “Gourmet Man Food”, Chicago Open Air from the very outset is vying to become the premiere American music festival.
Disturbed released a statement about playing the festival in their hometown:
“It is long overdue that one of the greatest rock cities in the world has a festival of its own. We are honored and excited to be one of the headliners at the inaugural Chicago Open Air festival in our hometown of Chicago.”
Daily band lineups (subject to change)
Friday, July 15:
Of Mice & Men
In This Moment
Saturday, July 16:
The Devil Wears Prada
Miss May I
City Of The Weak
Sunday, July 17:
Five Finger Death Punch
Bullet For My Valentine
Corrosion Of Conformity
All That Remains
We Came As Romans
Jim Breuer & The Regulators
Upon A Burning Body
General Admission and VIP tickets are on sale now at ChicagoOpenAir.com.
Weekend GA Field: $219.50
Weekend GA Bowl: $119.50
Weekend VIP: $399.50
Weekend VIP 2-Packs: $860.00
Single Day GA Bowl: $49.50
All VIP tickets include: VIP entrance lanes into the event, access to a VIP lounge area featuring dedicated food and beverage offerings (for additional purchase), field and stadium level viewing areas of the main stage, dedicated restroom facilities, and a commemorative Chicago Open Air VIP-only laminate.
Festival doors open at 11:00 a.m. each day and the show ends at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Over the past year, San Antonio rock outfit Nothing More has impressed audiences with their eclectic hard rock sound. Their self titled album (debut for Eleven Seven and fifth album overall) have made waves throughout the music community and have yet to slow down since.
Known more on the DIY circuit around their home state of Texas, the band has slowly built a steady following that gradually became a force to be reckoned with.
“We would go out to the West Coast, go to LA, go up to the Northeast a few times, but no sort of normal real tour. It’s all DIY,” explained guitarist Mark Volleunga.
Coming out the state of Texas, which has historically produced bands such as Pantera and Drowning Pool, Nothing More spawned out of a San Antonio music scene that had the pride of their music scene but had to fight to get ahead. This paid off in the long haul but Volleunga had his own concerns about where his home scene is nowadays.
“Texas in general has always had an attitude to do it as they wanted to and being different. We’re definitely of that mindset to tell it like it is through our music and be proud of that. I would definitely say that it’s true for the major of the state and the major of the bands that come out of there. It is a huge fricken place. I think it’s just as big as the UK, but the cities are so sparse. Just going from San Antonio to El Paso there’s 500 miles and there are literally one or two cities that are actually like cities that have more than a couple thousand people.”
“Surprisingly enough, none of us are fans of the San Antonio music scene right now. I’ll totally call it out…I think a lot of it has to do with not having a current rock station. The station there only plays classic rock pretty much – nothing new past 2006. That’s not any one person’s fault. It’s all corporate. They have a playlist they have to stick to because they do what they’re told. It’s really sad because I think it affects kids making a band. They’re not exposed to rock on the radio. Especially with us coming from there, we never thought we could get on the radio because it was impossible. It was surprising when radio was so important and other stations played cool shit.”
“The actual scene there is kind of metal and Tejano. There’s nothing exciting happening. I’m sure there are bands that I don’t know about that are doing something cool there but I haven’t heard them. The majority of the city hasn’t.”
He elaborated on the origins of Nothing More and how they transitioned from being a regional DIY act to a signed band with a larger recording label like Eleven Seven.
“Our singer Jonny [Hawkins], who used to be our drummer – I’ve been with him for 15 years and have been touring for the past ten years, right when Dan [Oliver] joined the band.”
“We’ve been around for a while. We have a lot of material. A lot of it we discontinued, mainly because it was just a different singer. We just wanted to keep it special for those who have it.”
“Basically we focused on our region, more Texas and Louisiana, and slowly but surely grew our fan base, matured as artists and we always wanted to partner with a label, mainly because it’s the next step to reach more people. So we had been trying this whole time but we’re definitely thankful things happened the way it did.”
“Otherwise we wouldn’t have been at the right spot for people to hear us for the first time and for us to be where we are as artists, as far as maturing our sound.”
Musically, their sound is anything but your standard rock music heard today. Their sound focuses on the rhythm section, where drumming and bass guitars play a huge role within their sound and stands out greatly.
“We’re definitely not just a rock band. We try to in all genres of music, just take the path of a sponge – soak up all that’s good and interesting, from electronica to black metal. There are a lot of cool things that all of the genres do, but a lot of the times we find ourselves…’that was really cool but the rest of the song was lame…’ or something like that. So we kind of had been inspired to make every song cool all the way through and have dynamics, of course, up and down. That’s how it’s always been I guess when we first started the band. We tried to challenge ourselves musically and put our own spin with our take on rock,” he said.
Aside from their music, he spoke about the band’s odd sounding name and how they made it stick with audiences everywhere.
“For a long time, we couldn’t settle on a name. So we were kind of nameless. I remember Johnny being over at my place and we had joked about being Nothing. Then he had the idea of ‘what if it’s Nothing More?’ Then we went into a conversation about going to shows and always being it so cool. They were normal people like us. They would talk to us. It would be cool. They wouldn’t have an ego. They wouldn’t be a dick. That’s the worst thing that could happen – when you look up to your heroes, you meet them and then they’re a dick; or they’re too good to talk to you. It was always been what Nothing More meant. We’re nothing more than normal guys. We’re normal dudes who want to connect with everybody there. We all love music. That’s why you’re here so we’re not any better. We’re just people.”
Volleunga talked about each member’s musical origins and how it helped shape their sound. “I did go to University of Texas in San Antonio and I studied classical guitar for a couple of years. I actually dropped out when we decided to go full time and decided there is no Plan B – just make Plan A work. Dan, our bass player, moved to Nashville and went to Belmont University and went there for a couple of years and studied music. Jonny, right out of high school started doing the band thing full time. He was involved in drum line for two years, so he’s got that background training.”
One tune in particular that stuck out was “Mr. MTV,” which pays tribute to the one time music television channel’s ties to a popular tune. Volleunga explains, “Definitely a throwback touched on Dire Straits. When I definitely first started playing music videos and now it’s no more.”
“It is kind of funny how a lot of this generation doesn’t see that. They’ve never heard that song before. That was kind of shocking and funny to me. But I think it’s almost better because it means something special. When they do find out, they go ‘oh holy crap! Look at that.’ “
“It’s funny I remember seeing a few postings from people saying ‘MTV is playing your song!’ It’s like ‘What? How are they playing our song….ohhh they’re just playing the Dire Straits melody and you thought it was us. That’s crazy!”
While fans have slowly been introduced to their music, they have quickly learned how they have been the odd band out on most tours, with their sound often in left field compared to their touring mates on each bill.
“We’ve always worked on our live show and invested in that over time. Doing the DIY circuit, you really realize how we can get people to come back to the show when they don’t know your songs or when they’re seeing you for the first time. You really have to put on a show. So there are a few certain elements that we’ve been polishing and working on over the last ten years, like now with this intricate bass solo thing that we do, along with drum breakdowns to where we’re all jamming on some drums. So we feel like we can cater to almost any crowd, like playing with Killswitch Engage or with The Pretty Reckless, which we just did a tour with them in the UK.”
This earned them slots on bigger events, such as Knotfest in 2014. They have attracted other larger band’s attention along the way and instantly turning them into fans.
“We were definitely happy to be there. It was a bit of a dust fest. It was so much dirt and dust in the air from everybody having a real good time, which is always good but not so good for your lung cavity. I do remember hacking quite a bit.”
“It was really cool to once again be part of that and with all of the other awesome bands on the bill. I got to catch Atreyu. I like them and they’ve got that reunion show. They’re back at it.”
He also spoke about all of the attention Nothing More has generated over the past year from larger bands and getting personally asked to join their tours.
“It’s definitely crazy. When you hear people like Vinnie Paul or Jesse [Leach] from Killswitch [Engage] or anybody like that, who are all great human beings and our heroes and peers now – that’s a crazy thing and has changed in a matter of a year. So yes we definitely are surprised and definitely honored to have gone on the rocket ship and be where we’re at.”
One person they toured with and became a fan was Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah, where they toured together across the United States, and also their first experience on an arena sized tour.
“It was amazing. There’s really something different about an arena tour compared to a club tour. It’s great the amount of people but the connection is a little different because the people in the front row are 20 feet away. It’s a different strategy. You have to play up if you will, not down because everybody else is right there in front of you, and kind of exaggerating your stage presence helps a lot too, which is easier to do when you have a bigger stage to do it. So that was a blast. I will always have a better time if I have more room. Typically at club shows, I’m having to dodge Johnny and try not to nail him with my headstock.”
So far, so good? “Kind of. He’s not very aware of his surroundings ever – so always looking out for him,” he added, with a chuckle.
Alice, Texas is hardly the hotbed of music when it comes to finding the next big thing. Even finding any musical acts can be somewhat like finding a needle in a haystack, but for the members of Shattered Sun, they beat the odds and found themselves opportunities that their peers have yet to reach.
They have released their debut album Hope Within Hatred earlier this year (via Victory Records) and have toured with Testament and Exodus and on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest’s second stage. But prior to all of this happening, how they were discovered became quite the story.
The original incarnation of the band began in 2005 but solidified a modified lineup a year later and the seeds were planted towards building the foundation of what is now Shattered Sun.
“Basically we’ve been doing stuff since we were kids,” explained frontman Marcos Leal. “Bands…you know how it goes with switching members and all of that stuff.”
“In 2010, me and our guitarist Daniel [Trejo] sat down and said ‘we want to make this our lives and we want to do this the right way, so let’s go find some members that want it as bad as we do.’ We found the right lineup and we immediately went into the studio and recorded our ep Confessions. We just rolled from there.”
Being in a small town, they pushed themselves to get their name out across their home state of Texas. They immediately began to book shows around the state and got their name out everywhere they could physically get themselves a show. The plan worked and built a steady following.
“What you have to do is you kind of have to make a name for yourself in those bigger cities. That’s exactly what we did. Once we finished putting out our ep Confessions together, we got out there and hit all of the major markets – San Antonio, Austin, Dallas…all of those places and slowly making a name for ourselves in those places and building a fan base,” said Leal.
They drew inspiration from bands from Texas such as Pantera and Drowning Pool to carry the flag across the music scene and keeping the musical spirit alive.
“It’s been great. Those bands are influences and we want to be the next band to represent Texas. We want to be that Pantera status. They’re obviously huge but we intend to set the bar too for our state.”
He talked about the areas of Texas that responded to Shattered Sun immediately after they began playing out. They traded shows with local bands in each area, which helped them building bonds to help spreading the word.
“Immediately right off the bat, Corpus [Christi] is a major market. It’s an hour away from our home town. Our producer is from Corpus Christi too. He was tied into that metal scene. We just basically got with all of the big bands in the local scene there and started opening for them and slowly got a following.”
Prior to the recording of their 2012 self released EP Confessions, they caught the attention of Testament frontman Chuck Billy, who at the time just started their management company called Breaking Bands. He explained how he found out about the band.
“It had to be after we had spoken. I think within a month I might have flown out there. Me and Maria [Ferraro] flew out to Texas. We’ve only heard a few songs so we wanted to hear the full record and hear it in the studio. I wanted to sit down with all of the guys and see where they were at. Within a month from starting communication we were out there and at that point we got back and said ‘ok…let’s do this. I think Johnny Z flew out a few weeks later and that solidified it,” said Billy.
“As our management company, we all have to be on board for the band and everybody has to have a unanimous vote if we’re going to work for something. So Johnny finally went out there and that was it. We were doing it so right away we got other guys to examine the mixes they had and improve on it.”
Spineshank guitarist Mike Sarkisyan originally was instrumental in helping to get the band’s attention to Breaking Bands as well. They met him while touring together and learning the ropes of touring nationally. Following this tour, he also worked with Shattered Sun on pre-production on their EP.
“When we had put out Confessions, we did the local band and touring but we wanted something else. We’re a very hungry band so we figured out ‘ok you’ve got to buy onto these tours’ so we got some money together, we knew somebody that knew somebody who could get us on that tour. So we paid a pretty big chunk of money and went out and toured with them. We gained a relationship,” said Leal.
“When we saw them, the first few nights that we played with them they’re such a complete band. They’re veterans so they know how to do everything right. Their stage show, how they mix the brutality with the melodic. We saw them the first few nights and they were amazing.”
“We had talked to Mike and said we wanted to channel some of what they have into what we have. We’re kind of…I won’t say a similar style because they’re not. They have a lot of elements we’ve infused. So we brought him down to Texas, he helped arrange some of our songs and that’s how it’s worked out,” he added.
Leal admits that Sarkisyan’s influence did rub off on the band to incorporate melodic parts into their already aggressive metal sound, and helping to diversify them.
“We were always a band that wanted to stick 80 riffs in songs. We thought that was cool. When we saw them, we were like their choruses and their pre choruses, they connect. We wanted that too so he showed us how to arrange our music a little bit better.”
During the recording of their EP, Billy visited the band and gave his input on the songs, as to praising their strengths and how to enhance certain parts on their songs. His veteran knowledge became a huge part in bettering them.
“Only thing was I was suggesting in some of the mixes things I would have liked to hear, improve on the mixes, and what I thought was missing [in the mixes], but at that point I don’t think they were done. I think they were still getting it all together. [Marcos] was still singing some vocal tracks…just right up to when it was time to get rolling…we need a single…we need to get some songs out there on AOL. We’re going to announce that we’re managing you. We want to have something when we do that. You’ve gotta have something ready to roll.”
Billy had nothing but praise for the guys when it came to the performance on the EP.
“They worked hard on it. Robert [Beltran] did a great job producing and mixing it. We thought we could use this record to go out, get a record deal pretty much and use this and not spend your whole budget to record a whole record. We took care of Robert and take care of some stuff to get new gear to get the ball rolling.”
Original Megaforce Records co-founders Jon and Marsha Zazula are part of their management team, and their experience rubbed off on the band immediately.
“He told us not to hang our heads when things happen. He tells us the things Metallica went through back in the day. He has actually compared our career and our path to when they first got started too. It’s definitely a great honor,” said Leal.
Lastly, being that the members of Shattered Sun are from Texas, one of their biggest pastimes is barbecuing. They shared their passion for it and possibly winning over people, not only musically but through their stomachs.
“We’re big time barbecuers. It was cool because when Chuck and Maria came down, we got to throw a big barbecue for them. We did the same exact barbecue when Johnny and Marsha came down. It was awesome. It kind of let them know about our heritage and where we come from,” said Leal.
“When we go on tour, we’re going to take a barbecue pit,” said Trejo.
“We figured that’s a good way to get in with the bands. We’ve barbecued in rain, the cold and all of the elements,” added Leal.
They are currently on tour with Drowning Pool and Adrenaline Mob with dates posted below.
Mar 19: Fish Head Cantina – Baltimore, MD
Mar 20: The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY
Mar 21: Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
Mar 22: Muncheez – Beckley, WV
Mar 24: Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 25: The Outpost – Kent, OH
Mar 26: Hard Times – Fredericksburg, VA
Mar 27: Mickey’s Bar – Lancaster, OH
Mar 28: The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
Mar 29: Route 20 – Racine, WI
Mar 30: Fine Line Music – Minneapolis, MN
Apr 01: Johnny’s Roadhouse – Laporte, IN
Apr 02: The Mad Magician – St. Louis, MO
Apr 03: Trees – Dallas, TX