Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Lacey Sturm

After leaving Flyleaf in 2012 to focus on her family, Lacey Sturm stormed back onto the music scene in 2016 with Life Screams, her solo debut. It became the first solo female release to top the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart, but her work didn’t end there. Last year also saw the release of her second book, The Mystery, following 2014’s The Reason. Even with her career taking off again, her family remains a priority; husband Josh Sturm plays guitar in her band (and is her primary songwriting partner), and their two young sons are on the road with them. When her headlining tour recently came to the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Live Metal’s Greg Maki got the latest from Lacey. (more…)

Stitched Up Heart

Stitched Up Heart, formed in 2010 in Los Angeles, is coming off the biggest year of its career. 2016 saw the release of Never Alone, its first full-length album (via Century Media Records); two singles (“Finally Free” and “Monster”) charting at active rock radio; and months of touring, including stops at major U.S. festivals such as Carolina Rebellion and Rock on the Range. The band is riding that success into 2017, with a new single and video (“Catch Me When I Fall”); tours with Lacey Sturm and Letters from the Fire;, a break from the road to work on new material on the horizon; and then more live shows–”Living the dream,” as vocalist Alecia “Mixi” Demner said. Before a recent show at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mixi and guitarist Merritt Goodwin sat down with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to talk about touring, Never Alone and more. (more…)

Battlebeast—how can that name not bring a smile to a metalhead’s face? The Finnish band combines power metal and traditional ’80s metal into something special: anthemic songs with big hooks and choruses to bring out that inner headbanger in us all. Formed in 2008 and originally featuring vocalist Nitte Valo, the band was left in a compromising position in 2012 when she had to leave the band prior to a coveted opening slot on a tour with Sonata Arctica. In stepped the wild-haired, big voice of a frontwoman, Noora Louhimo, who up until this point had never performed in a heavy metal band. Well, Noora (or as she had me pronounce it, New-rrr-a, with an emphasis on the tongue roll) now has become the heart and soul of Battlebeast, as the band prepares to release its third album with her as vocalist, Bringer of Pain (Feb. 17, 2017, Nuclear Blast Records). The band—rounded out by bassist/vocalist Eero Sipilä, drummer Pyry Vikki, guitarist Juuso Soinio, keyboardist Janne Björkroth and his brother, guitarist Joona Björkroth—will serve as openers, along with Leave’s Eyes, for Sabaton on a U.S. tour this spring. Live Metal’s Jeff Maki talked with Noora about Bringer of Pain, the interesting story of how she joined the band, it’s ’80s metal style and much more. (more…)

Overkill

From the first time I heard the thrash metal anthem “Hello from the Gutter,” off of the 1988 album Under the Influence, I was hooked on Overkill. Then came “Elimination” and “Time to Kill” and “Horrorscope,” and you get the idea. The New Jersey band formed at the same time as other bands in the United States, from coast to coast, and around the world, were creating the new, chaotic subgenre devoid of rules and against the grain of what was considered heavy metal at the time. It would come to be known as thrash metal. With a notable winged-skull mascot named “Chaly,” and releases like The Years of Decay (1989), Horrorscope (1991) and I Hear Black (1993), the band was a regular on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, toured and became known all over the world. There’s even a strong sentiment among fans and metal purists that the “Big Four” should be expanded to include the likes of Overkill, Testament, Exodus, and others. Yes, Overkill is that important, and, in other words, they can be considered living legends. Throughout the turbulent metal scene in the ’90s, the band continued to crank out albums, and kept going strong in the 2000s.

That leads us to the present, when Overkill is about to release its 18th album. The Grinding Wheel is as heavy as it is diverse and dangerously fun. Members have come and gone, but the instantly recognizable voice of the band, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, remains. Blitz recently called in to say hello from the gutter, talk about the new album and Overkill’s three decades of thrash metal with Live Metal’s Jeff Maki.  (more…)

Alter Bridge

Since forming in 2004, Alter Bridge has seen its stock steadily rise in the hard rock realm, its prominence emphasized by a full-fledged arena tour of Europe to close out 2016. On Jan. 20, the band–vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips–will kick off its first North American headlining tour in support of its latest album (see dates below), the superb 2016 release The Last Hero. Though the album is Alter Bridge’s first since 2013, the band members haven’t taken much time off. Kennedy fronts Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash’s solo band and has been working on his own solo material; Tremonti leads his eponymous, speed metal-influenced band; and Phillips hits the skins for Projected, featuring members of Sevendust and Tremonti’s band. Live Metal’s Greg Maki recently caught up with Kennedy to discuss the new album, tour and more. (more…)

Airbourne

Airbourne

Few bands today embody the pure rock ‘n’ roll spirit as fully as Airbourne. As drummer Ryan O’Keeffe told us, there was no alternative career path, no plan B. In late September, frontman Joel O’Keeffe injured his ankle in a fall from the stage, but there was no quitting. He finished the song, the show and the tour. Rock ‘n’ roll is in these Australians’ blood, and there’s no turning back for them. The band’s fourth album, Breakin’ Outta Hell, released Sept. 23, is filled with the same kind of loud, brazen, bluesy party anthems found on its first three efforts. Some things are better left unchanged. Airbourne wrapped up its U.S. headlining tour in October in Baltimore, and Live Metal’s Greg Maki sat down on the band’s bus with Ryan O’Keeffe to discuss the new record and more. (more…)

testament-2016

Testament, 2016

Instead of a long history of Testament, I’ll give you my version. Thanks to Headbangers Ball, Testament was part of my “Big Four” back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Along with Metallica, Megadeth and Sepultura, Testament’s Practice What You Preach became one of my go-to cassette tapes, with tracks like “Greenhouse Effect” and “The Ballad,” both of which had music videos that were featured prominently on the cult MTV show airing at midnight every Saturday night. I went back and discovered the thrash metal masterpiece The New Order, then came Souls of Black and Low. I had a Testament concert poster proudly hanging above my bed. In summer, I wore a black tank top displaying the band’s iconic logo. Years after their release, I was still listening to those albumsreligiously. Then in the late ’90s, like many metal bands, Testament kind of lost its way, and I kind of went down a different path musically.

Now, Testament—after disbanding and reuniting in early 2005—is about to unleash its third album of the 2000s, The Brotherhood of the Snake. And if it’s anything like its previous two, The Formation of Damnation and Dark Roots of the Earth, then fans, new and old, are in for a treat. The Testament I grew up with has been back for a few years now, and there’s no end in sight.

Vocalist Chuck Billy took a few minutes of his time to give us some dirt on the new album, The Brotherhood of the Snake. (more…)

gruesome_group_2016

Gruesome

Releasing seven studio albums from 1987 to 1998, Death was crucial in pioneering the death metal genre. During his influential career—and maybe even more so after his death in 2001—vocalist/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner has been acknowledged as the godfather of extreme metal. Death’s 1987 debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, is widely considered the first death metal album and became the blueprint for extreme metal. The lyrical themes of horror and gore, Chuck’s unique vocal style and guitar playing, the raw intensity and iconic album art were groundbreaking. Now in 2016, thanks to a new Death-worshiping supergroup called Gruesome,  we get to hear (and see) it all over again. 

To make a long story short, in 2012, Schuldiner’s corporation wanted to raise some money for a charity called the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, so it put together the “Death to All Tour,” featuring former members of Death and other guest musicians performing Death’s classics. One of those involved was Exhumed vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey, who took it one step further, forming Gruesome, a Death tribute band. The catch was the band would write original music but play in the style of Death. Gruesome was rounded out by members of Possessed, Malevolent Creation and Derketa. The band released its Leprosy-inspired full-length debut, Savage Land, in 2015, and now it’s back with Dimensions of Horror (May 20, 2016, Relapse Records)—you guessed it, inspired by Scream Bloody Gore.

Live Metal’s Jeff Maki recently talked with Harvey about Gruesome’s new release and Death’s legacy. (more…)

Through Fire

Through Fire

Through Fire is a new name, but its origins might be familiar to some. Guitarist Justin McCain founded Emphatic in 2004 in Omaha, Nebraska. Behind singles “Bounce” and “Get Paid,” the band started making waves with its second album, Damage (2011), appearing at festivals such as Rock on the Range and touring with Halestorm. Lineup changes in the ensuing years eventually left McCain as the only original member, and as 2015 drew to a close, he and his bandmates decided to wipe the slate clean and be reborn as Through Fire. Now signed to Sumerian Records, the “new” band is pushing its first single, “Stronger,” and gearing up for the release of its debut album–title and date TBA–as it tours the United States on the “Generation Doom” tour, with Otep, Lacey Sturm, September Mourning and Doll Skin. McCain recently called in from the road to talk to Live Metal’s Greg Maki about the band, the single, the tour and more. (more…)

Anthrax

Weathering multiple lineup changes—including several at the vital position of lead vocalist—and withstanding many seismic shifts in the musical climate, Anthrax has persevered through the decades like few others. In 2011, the band started to reclaim its position at the top of the global metal mountain with the superb Worship Music, its first recording with vocalist Joey Belladonna since 1990. Its 2016 release, the phenomenal For All Kings, has solidified that position, and is a surefire album-of-the-year contender. Anthrax has been on the road supporting it all year, first on a U.S. tour with Lamb of God and, most recently, on a South American run with Iron Maiden. Festivals in the United States and Europe are on the horizon next, with a U.S. headlining tour possible in the fall. Drummer Charlie Benante checked in with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to discuss the new album, his line of coffee (Benante’s Blend) and more. (more…)

Doll Skin: Nicole Rich, Meghan Shea Herring, Sydney Dolezal and Alex Snowden.

Doll Skin, from left: Nicole Rich, Meghan Shea Herring, Sydney Dolezal and Alex Snowden.

In just two years, Doll Skin has gone from playing its first show at a high school talent show to being managed and produced by Megadeth’s David Ellefson, having an EP distributed by legendary Megaforce Records and touring the United States with high-profile supporting gigs and as a headliner. Did we mention its four members–vocalist/guitarist Sydney Dolezal, guitarist Alex Snowden, bassist Nicole Rich and drummer Meghan Shea Herring–are all teenage girls? Yeah, and these girls know how to rock. As they cross the country on the “Generation Doom” tour–also featuring headliner Otep, along with Lacey Sturm, September Mourning and Through Fire–Doll Skin has released In Your Face (Again), an expanded edition of the EP originally issued in October 2015 and already has material prepared for a full-length album to be recorded later this year. Sydney recently called in from the road to talk to Live Metal’s Greg Maki about the tour, the band’s formation, David Ellefson and more. (more…)

death-angel-band-2016

Death Angel

Spawning from the Bay area thrash metal scene in the early 1980s, Death Angel’s marriage of aggression and melody was unique. The band gained a loyal following playing in the same clubs and stomping grounds as Metallica, Megadeth, Death, Slayer and Exodus. It was the newer, edgier underground band of the time. I know because I was a big fan. I remember trading my friend a bunch of cassettes for a copy of the band’s classic 1988 release, Frolic through the Park, and listening to its 1990 album, Act III, repeatedly in my bedroom on my boombox. It followed at a close second only behind Megadeth’s Rust in Peace. Yes, I’m old, but enough about me.

The band was experiencing its first real commercial success with Act III but broke up after the album’s tour. All but gone and forgotten, it eventually made a surprising return in 2004 with a new album, The Art of Dying, and a revamped lineup. In the years since, the band has remained active to the delight of thrash metal fans worldwide, touring and releasing album after album, each one stronger than the last. It’s next album, The Evil Divide, will be released May 27, 2016, on Nuclear Blast and is its third in five years, not including 2016 re-issues of Frolic through the Park and its 1990 live album, Fall from Grace.

Live Metal’s Jeff Maki recently talked with vocalist Mark Osegueda about the new record, the band’s evolution and more. (more…)