Unlikely stars Bad Wolves, have a platinum record, a worldwide number 1 hit song, two YouTube videos with millions of views, and more success than they ever dreamed of when the band was formed as a side project several years back. Even though all this has happened and more accolades are on the way, frontman Tommy Vext keeps things at an even keel by staying humble. We caught up with Tommy at the headquarters of Eleven Seven Music Group to discuss the debut album Disobey, the pressures of having a “hit”, whether or not his band is a “supergroup”, practicing self-care on the road, what happened to all the old music clubs in New York, and whether or not modern hardcore bands are real tough guys or not. Also appearing, Tony the stuffed Tiger! Thanks to Tommy, Eleven Seven, and Bad Wolves for their time. Interview by Keefy with videography by Omar Cordy of OJC Photography. Live Bad Wolves photos by BunnySyn Photography for Ghost Cult. Continue reading
Normally at Ghost Cult, we don’t pay attention to things like Billboard charts here, as it have little relevence to rock, metal and other underground music. But we have to give a shout out to Bad Wolves, whose cover of The Cranberries‘ ‘Zombie’ is now the number one mainstream song in America and charting in other countries in the world as well. It is quite a feat for a band that is a metal band at heart with members from God Forbid, Devildriver and Snot among others. Their debut album Disobey is out next week, on May 11th from Eleven Seven Music Group. They are also hitting the road with labelmates From Ashes To New And Diamante. Tour dates below. Continue reading
Westfield Massacre will be releasing their highly anticipated sophomore album this Spring, and to get fans more excited for its arrival, they’ve just unleashed a brand new song. Continue reading
It has been over a decade since Southern California alt-punk-metallers Snot made noise within the heavy music world with their highly energetic punk driven alt metal sound and caught the LA scene by storm. Led by their charismatic frontman Lynn Strait, the world got their first taste of their music through their 1997 debut Get Some and they charged towards the world head on and made a name for them immediately.
Knotfest 2015 was the band’s first high profile show since several attempts at restarting the band in 2008 and again in 2014 since the tragic 1998 death of Strait in an auto accident. This time with new vocalist Carl Bensley, the band played their hearts out in front of their semi-hometown crowd and paying tribute to Strait, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1998.
Guitarist Mikey Doling shared his thoughts on their set. “Intense set. My guitar rig wasn’t working for a lot of the show. I played half the set. I figured I would play it out and then smash the guitar at the end and threw it away.”
So did he enjoy Knotfest? “This reminds me exactly of what we were doing. This is Ozzfest. This is the same thing. It feels exactly the same. It’s really fun.”
He also talked about their return and how much the band has changed since those days.
“Back in the day we were so young. We were so reckless. We were playing music just to have a good time and party [with] girls and drugs. Nowadays we play because we really love playing music together. I love playing music with Jamie Miller and John [Fahnestock] aka Tumor. Mike Smith is great. Sometimes Sonny [Mayo] is around. You know what I mean? We’re all family. That’s what’s different is that we appreciate it so much.”
Being away from the scene, the members of Snot spent time in other bands over the years to hone their craft and tour the globe. He also shared how different the band’s mentality was back then as well.
“Snot back then? We were young music fans. We loved punk rock music. We loved funk. I loved heavy metal. We were fans and we all picked up initially and mushed it all together and made Snot. It turned out we were good at it. Good enough to have a career. It turned into a passion. That’s it. It still is that way. It’s 20 year now. We’re still just as aggressive about touring and playing music as ever.”
Speaking of Mayo, he clarified his status in the fold, and where he stands within the band today.
“He has a non-profit thing for sobriety style rehab. He’s real busy with that and he doesn’t really tour as much. Mike Smith did a lot of touring with us back in the day. He wants to tour so whoever’s available…let’s go.”
Doling recalled the old days and leading up to the making of Get Some. Fans from that era were drawn to the record through songs such as “Snooze Button,” “Joyride” and “I Jus Lie.” While much of their songs gave listeners a taste of their chaotic lifestyle, he admitted that a lot of that reflected on the way they wrote their songs.
“Shit dude it was so fun. When we were writing it in our rehearsal space, it was right next door to a strip club. We all lived in the same house together right up the street. We’d right music, take strippers back to our house, party with them, bang them and that leaked into our music, which turned into our record Get Some. You can listen to that record and literally hear it – strippers and rock n roll and drugs. That’s what it was like making that record. We were just wild! It was fun.”
Was he surprised the record got done with all of the debauchery happening around them?
“Not really because we were very serious about writing. I like the way the record came out,” said Doling.
The shows they are doing now pay tribute to their fallen singer. Doling talked about Strait and the kind of person he was, considering many people discovering the band now never had a chance to see him person live or even meet him in person.
“I’m proud to say Lynn was my best friend. We were roommates. Lynn had a ton of charisma. If you ever watched Happy Days, he was the Fonz. That’s all I could say. I’ve never met anybody like him….James Dean you know. He was a cool motherfucker – that’s all I could say. I’ve never saw him get turned down by one girl. He was like ‘I’m gonna pick up that chick…’ and he did.”
“As an artist, he was always writing. He always had his book with him and his pen. He’s a unique, badass rockstar.”
In 2000, a record called Strait Up was released, based on incomplete songs originally aimed to become their never completed second album. What was released were songs with guest vocals by a number of their peers from the scene at the time, including Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber and Devildriver.
While the record was well received at the time, Doling had different feelings about the release since then and was never in favor of including those tunes in the current set list.
“Not really. I produced that record and honestly, if I could do it again I wouldn’t do it. At the time I thought I was doing something cool for Lynn. It turned into some bullshit record company thing. I don’t know. I think it lost its focus. Yeah it was about Lynn and it’s cool but I don’t think it was a necessity. I think we vented on that and…I don’t know…I wouldn’t do it again if I had a chance. With all due respect to Lynn, of course, but it turned into something I didn’t want it to be,” he said.
In terms of a much spoken about new Snot album, Doling admitted to writing new songs towards their upcoming second album. While material was written back in 2008 with then-vocalist Tommy Vext, he said those songs would not be included because they are not where the band stands today.
“We didn’t really attempt to write a record with Tommy. We just wanted to record a couple of songs. Those songs don’t count. We weren’t happy with those songs. I’m still not happy with those songs. Tommy did a great job but as the band Snot, I think we lost our identity at that point. I think we know where we’re at now.”
“I don’t think we didn’t know what we’re doing. Now I know. The record we’re going to write – it’s going to be funky, it’s going to be punk rock. I think we lost that edge when we tried to record before. We kind of got sucked into the whole, almost metalcore thing. I don’t know why we’re doing it [or] what was influencing us. We lost the recipe for what Snot does and we took a hard look at ourselves and know what we need to do now to sound like Snot.”
Aside from Snot, the various members of Snot had kept busy with various projects and Doling had kept himself busy also playing guitar with Belgian metallers Channel Zero and producing other bands.
“Producing records is going well. I just did a record with a band called Sunflower Dead. It’s getting really strong reviews. It’s getting a lot of radio play. I did the new Hemlock record. I’m getting ready to do a band from Japan called Gunship 666. I’m busy with that. That is fun. I love being in the studio.”
The beautiful and warm Gibson Ranch was the scene for the 2015 Monster Energy Drink Aftershock. Not only does Aftershock always boast on of the best lineups of any festival in America, the gorgeous NorCal location allows for all kinds of attractions and activities making this the most well-rounded fest you could attend as well. The festival officially sold-out the entire weekend with over 25,000 in attendance each day.
The top of the bill for Saturday boasted some big big names, to be true. Headliners Slipknot are possibly the preeminent metal concert experience in the world right now, just based on the spectacle of their stage show and the epic music they bring. They also had a lot of people checking out their Haunted Scream Park for constant Halloween scares all weekend long too. Other big musical hitters such as Shinedown, Marilyn Manson, Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Bring Me The Horizon and Black Veil Brides had fans drooling, packed in crows of people, and offered up a little something for everyone from across the range of active rock and metal genres. Especially with BMTH and Black Veil Brides, you are really seeing the future of music unfold before you, and the youth of the fans was served in the audience.
As much as Saturday had some “hall of fame” worthy acts, there was a lot of up and coming talent on early in the day such as the Beartooth performance, and strong showings from Red Sun Rising and September Mourning too. There will come a time when some of these headline bands wont be around anymore and the next generation of stars needs to rise up now. Some of them were on hand at Aftershock this weekend.
Saturday was a really a day to explore the festival grounds. Tons of people took in the great food options (BBQ, Tex Mex, Burritos, Pizza,and Vegetarian choices looked astounding), Tequila tastings from six major purveyors of fine spirits and NXT wrestling. The balance between fun for families and grown folks was strong, and a real testament to why this fest has been able to last so long and get better every year.
If you weren’t totally destroyed by Saturday’s overload of the senses, Sunday also had a list of great bands to see and hear and fun things to. Early in the day two more killer bands helped set things off in the always fun Dance Gavin Dance and the surprising Pink Slips. The Pinks Slips are a band you need to check out as we expect to see them higher up on the bill on fests like this for years to come. After checking out issues, it was time to see Sevendust rip up the East Stage. They are a live band like few others and they played a short, yet heartfelt set.
All Time Low and Yelawolf really set the stage for later in the day. Stone Temple Pilots led by Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) for what would turn out to be one of the last full show for them together, played all the hits to huge crowd response. Fan may be conflicted about Chester’s time in the band, but he did justice to the history of that band
Coheed and Cambria was next, playing behind their new record, and they leaned heavy on new songs. Despite the festival and the over atmosphere of the place, it didn’t seem like their crowd was in the house. Or maybe they were waiting on Jane’s Addiction to hit the stage. Jane’s, like STP knows the fans want the big hits and that is what they brought. Perry Ferrell and Dave Navarro, despite their many public scraps, seem just made for each other as poet/conduit and axe-slinger duos go.
Defotnes were the next to last act of the weekend and true hometown heroes as they are right from Sacto. The band put on a great show with front man Chino Moreno running all over the stage and moving his body as much as his silky, elastic vocal range. With a new album coming in 2016, it would seem this band is destined to headline a future Aftershock fest. Bringing the epic weekend to a close, Faith No More brought the botanical theme of their recent Sol Invictus (Reclamation/Ipecac) tour with them. Playing the massive hits such as ‘Be Aggressive’, ‘Epic’, ‘Midlife Crisis’ and ‘Easy’, sprinkled among new songs and deep cuts, the band showed why their reunion so worthy needed and the accolades so deserved. Until next time Aftershock, well be back!
Slipknot brought back heavy music into their brand of a festival called Knotfest once again to Southern California as they packed two days (plus a VIP only Friday evening event for campers) full of headbanging and mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.
The VIP pre-party show consisted of brief sets by Khaotika, Motorbreath, Rings of Saturn and The Faceless, while Sepultura became the main focus of that evening, performing many longtime favorites from their 30th anniversary tour, such as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Propaganda,’ while working on a few of the newer songs such as ‘Choke.’
Saturday’s main stage led the charge with the return of Pepper Keenan with Corrosion of Conformity, working in favorites such as ‘Clean My Wounds’ and ‘Albatross’; then Trivium and Mastodon both brought out powerful sets of powerful guitar driven hard rock leading into Korn’s semi-setlist of their début self titled album (ie they played only half of the album but they still brought their usual powerful live show) while working in other favorites like ‘Freak on a Leash’ and ‘Falling Away From Me.’
Headliners Judas Priest came out strong with a cross-section of newer songs such as ‘Dragonaut’ and ‘Valhalla’ while working in longtime favorites such as ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ as well as ‘Turbo Lover’. Following a strong showing on their previous tour, they did not disappoint and showed that after all of these years they can still deliver classic metal the right way.
Unlike the 2014 edition, Slipknot only played one day instead of both days, and they brought back the mini roller coasters and the Slipknot museum for attendees to enjoy. Another addition to this year’s edition was the Extreme Stage with such bands as Kataklysm, Abysmal Dawn, Belphagor and Inquisition living up to their musical brand and the headbangers representing as well.
The only band who did not quite fit the stage was Chilean-Canadian alternative-metallers The ReAktion, where their synth-driven riff metal was something fans grew accustomed to but was greatly out of place on that stage. The early set time worked in their favor on Sunday, with fans enjoying sightings of Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson around their set. Despite that, their eclectic sound was refreshing and somewhat interesting to see how they evolve from here.
Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor made a brief appearance with fellow Iowans Green Death during their brief set later on Sunday. Fans got acquainted quickly with the band despite their lack of recognition prior to the show.
Stages 2 and 3 were placed on the revolving stage where bands could get going much easier. Saturday’s set began with Battlecross, Red Fang and Goatwhore getting early set calls, but the packed crowd showed up to rock out with each band. Even the well publicized Josh Barnett joined in the pit action early on.
Veteran metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis brought back memories of their appearance of Ozzfest 1996 at this venue. Other highlights included At The Gates’ aggression driven set, while Body Count plowed through their set of classics (despite minor technical difficulties with Ice T killing time with his attempt at telling jokes on stage). GWAR capped out the stage with their usual antics and over the top stage show, moving forward post Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie).
Sunday’s main stage opened with Ghostface Killa and Mobb Deep’s brief old school hip hop set that attracted curious onlookers, while Clutch came in with their usual power riff rock set that their stripped down stage show appeared a bit bare for such a large sized stage.
Bring Me The Horizon’s updated stage show and sound definitely caught the attention of the crowd with their LED powered backdrops with the letters to SPIRIT aligning with each word of their opening song ‘Happy Song.’ Frontman Oli Sykes had the crowd moving along with his commands, and kept the show entertaining. Plus their newer synth oriented melodic rock sound on songs like ‘Throne,’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ made their live show much more anthemic driven tunes for the crowd to sing along to. Even with the older heavier songs like ‘Chelsea Smile,’ Bring Me The Horizon showed that they have a full arsenal within their bag of tricks and is no surprise why they have the attention of the hard music world.
When Slipknot took the stage, they unveiled their new stage setup that resembled the carnival from hell, and they took charge from the opening minute. Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’ and leading into ‘The Heretic Anthem’, Slipknot was on a mission to show why they are one of the biggest hard acts on the planet and can command their own festival. They even worked in ‘Me Inside’ (which they have never played live before apparently) and ‘Eeyore,’ giving the crowd more to get manic over.
The second and third stages on Sunday featured hard rockers Devour the Day and Kyng giving the crowd energetic melodic rock to nibble on, while semi-hometown favorites Snot got the crowd rocking with selections from their Get Some album while paying tribute to their late singer Lynn Strait.
Helmet, All That Remains and Beartooth all plowed through power sets of rock and metal that got the crowds working up a sweat, while led into the massive stampede of fans eagerly awaiting Cannibal Corpse and Suicidal Tendencies to perform. Cannibal Corpse simply owned Knotfest’s second stage and possibly had the largest crowd of headbangers and mosh pit participants of any act, which bled into Suicidal’s already veteran LA punk rock fan base. Overall, the insanity that came with those acts simply made the observing that much more enjoyable.
Overall, Knotfest 2015 brought together a strong collection of acts within the heavy music world once again and gave fans something to be excited about. After two consecutive years, hopefully Knotfest will continue to be an annual event (or something close to it).
PHOTO SET DAY 1:
PHOTO SET DAY 2:
Yet another entry into the “can’t miss American festivals” is the Monster Energy Drink Aftershock. Taking place in Sacramento California, the awesome NorCal weather, coupled with the proximity to San Francisco makes this fest awesome. The scenic Gibson Ranch is the place to be right now. In addition to some amazing bands, there are things like Slipknot’s Haunted Scream Park and NXT Wrestling events to drink in when you are done rocking out!
Saturday’s lineup boasts a top of the bill of Slipknot, Shinedown and Marilyn Manson which few other events can even match this year. Following them are Breaking Benjamin, Seether and Bring Me The Horizon, Black Veil Brides, Clutch, Hollywood Undead, Suicidal Tendencies, POD, Pop Evil, All That Remains, Helmet, Snot, Beartooth, September Mourning and many more.
Sunday has none other than Faith No More, continuing their Sol Invictus (Ipecac/Reclamation) tour cycle. Sunday has other stalwart 90s bands such as Deftones, Jane’s Addiction and Stone Temple Pilots. Other top Sunday bands on the bill include Coheed And Cambria, All Time Low, Death From Above 1979, Eagles of Death Metal, Sleeping With Sirens, Yelawolf, Failure, Glasjaw, Sevendust, Issues, The Sword, `68, Red Fang and many more.
You can still get tickets for Aftershock here.