CD Review: “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” by Legion Of The Damned

Dutch metal quartet Legion Of The Damned have unleashed its unholy seventh record, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.

Album opener “The Widow’s Breed” is a blistering track with chainsaw guitar slicing through thrashing drum beats. The lyrical imagery of African witchcraft is especially interesting and a wonderful departure of the conventional satanic/anti-Christian themes.

“Nocturnal Commando” continues with the African lyrical content the previous track as a tribute to Ogun, the God of Iron in the Yoruba religion. Guitarist Twan van Geel’s unrelenting riffs easily keep pace with Erik Fleuren’s ferocious drumming.

Things briefly slow down on the “Charnel Confession” which maintains an uneasy rhythm throughout the song’s duration. There are numerous guitar fills that complement “Confession’s” fierty atmosphere.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” is a demonic grooving tune as the band plays in the pocket before speeding things up during the midsection. The chopping guitar riffs and double bass drums conclude the track in hellish fashion.

“Warhounds of Hades”commences with a colossal drum pattern before descending in to a crushing thrash number. Geel’s aggressive double picking in the main riff drives this track, and the midsection will arouse a mosh pit.

“Priest Hunt” features a haunting symphonic sample that segues in to a galloping pattern and a meat hook guitar riff. A contrast from the thrash fused black metal on prior tracks, yet it still fits on Shadow Realm.

Album closer “Dark Coronation” is the longest track on the record at a shade under six minutes. There is a hardcore punk influence on this track that elides with some complex guitar riffs making it a killer album closer.

Shadow Realm is a collision of black, death, thrash metal and punk but Legion pulls it off for most of the record. Some songs are a bit too long, causing the record to drag. Luckily, Legion’s musical prowess compensates for the album’s few low moments. The production is on point, especially on tracks like “Priest Hunt” with the extra scoop on the guitars. The band also experiments with symphonic samples and a melancholy piano intro “Slaves Of The Demonic Mind.” There are a few good surprises on this record.

Legion Of The Damned bring the goods on Slaves Of The Shadow Realm. Fans of Goatwhore and fellow Dutch metal band God Dethroned will appreciate the band’s melding of metal subgenres. However, this album falls slightly short on some tracks. Still, it is a very good album to lead us in to 2019. The dark gods will appreciate this offering.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://www.legionofthedamned.net/

CD Review: “Busted, Broke & American” by M.O.D.

Method of Destruction unleash a nail bomb of hardcore rage on Busted, Broke & American. “The Final Declaration” is two minutes of vitriolic American bravado over pulverizing drums and thrashing guitars. Frontman Billy Milano has not slowed down a bit, possessing the same energy he displayed in 1985 on Stormtroopers of Death’s classic record Speak English Or Die. The obnoxious “You’re a F*cking D*ick” is a blend of punk riffs and bluesy guitar leads. It is vintage thrashcore with a modern twist. “Fight” is a frenetic number that stops and starts before settling in to a grooving midsection. The following track “Hooligan” is a blasting piece of hardcore with chorus shouts and Milano hoarsely calling out anyone brave (or foolish) enough to fight him. The short breakdown allows the listener to catch their breath before things speed up again. Of course, the album is not complete without an homage to Milano himself. “Billy Be Damned” is the little brother to “Milano Mosh.” It lacks the relentless brutality of the former, but at 53 Billy is still that angry, offensive unpredictable pitbull the metal community loves, or loves to hate. We are treated to a short instrumental with “All Out of Bubblegum” which has a fairly decent shredding guitar lead. However, things get confrontational on “Go Go Revolution” which has a nice contrast with its catchy chorus and barrage of rapid riffs. It is one of the best tracks on the record and hopefully the guys will play it live.

Busted, Broke & American is hardcore metal done right. The grizzled veterans seamlessly meld punk, thrash and traditional metal with no problems. It is no frills metal that gets the job done and moves on to the next track. However, M.O.D are not going through the motions. There is a youthful exuberance to this album and it is obvious the band had fun in the studio. The album has a political overtone as it opens with a speech by President Eisenhower and concludes with a speech by President Kennedy. People familiar with Milano’s previous work knows his political beliefs. He does not hold back and will certainly offend some people. However, provocation is certainly what metal is all about.

The band’s first album in ten years is worth the wait. M.O.D still play offensive crossover thrash like no other with ten mosh inducing tracks on here. Folks offended by Milano’s right-wing politics should probably avoid this album. However, fans and those not easily offended should enjoy it. The insults are a bit forced at times, but that does not lessen the album as a whole. Busted, Broke & American is the hardcore record to play this Independence Day week.

Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MethodOfDestruction/

Live Review: Save Ferris New Sound Tour at Masquerade with Burns Like Fire

Review by Daniel Karasek. Photos (at the end of the article) by Shaun Krisher

The air was heavy with anticipation on February 25 for the Save Ferris, Baby Baby, and Burns Like Fire show in Hell at the new Masquerade located in Underground Atlanta. The crowd huddled in the warmth of Hell as a brisk breeze of winter air finally came to the city. Pockets of conversation could be heard about the coming show, with occasional chatter about the new Masquerade placement. Everyone seemed to dig the new setting for the seasoned Atlanta music venue. Many attendees were crowding the back bar to get their fix before the night of music debauchery. Others were already waiting by the stage for the opening act to kick start the night. It was the same old vibe of Masquerade we have come to love. As it turns out, Underground Atlanta pairs well with Atlanta’s underground culture that has made a home at the infamous Masquerade.

The first act of the night, Burns Like Fire, broke the ice with a cover of “I’ll Be There For You” (you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head). Immediately the audience got riled up and sang along to the classic opening theme song from Friends. There was a buildup of energy between Burns Like Fire and the crowd that culminated throughout their set. The band was very cohesive with both their stage presence and sound, leaving a trail of broken necks in the wake of each song. Even with the recent departure of their bass player and vocalist Charley Ferlito, Web, Josh, and Parker put on a show to get any audience pumped up. As a punk band from Athens, it was a pleasure for them to take a bar break and shred some for their fans.

Baby Baby took the stage as the second act of the night. There was instant hype from the crowd the second that they took the stage, carrying over the tidal wave of energy started by Burns Like Fire. Except that tidal wave became a monsoon as Baby Baby jammed through song after song of pure rock. Their proclaimed genre of fun rock really fits the bill with Baby Baby as not an immobile body was seen in the crowd, just a bunch of rockers kicking it to the sweet tunes of the evening. The double percussion split between Grant and Colin adds in a crispy, crunch beat that pairs well with the popping bass riffs of Hsiang-Ming and guitar licks of their sassy front man Fontez Brooks. Not only was their sound on point, Baby Baby also puts on one hell of a show with it ending with Hsiang-Ming playing bass atop the shoulders of Colin with Grant pumping out killer beats and Fontez, shirtless, hyping the crowd with his savage guitar stylings. These guys are not an act to be missed.

For the headliner of the evening, Monique Powell graced the stage as the front for Save Ferris. Yes, THE Save Ferris. The one you haven’t heard of in a good while. To put this in perspective for those young ones out of the know, Save Ferris hasn’t toured or even released new music for over 15 years, with their last tour and most recent album release being fan backed. As soon as the band took their places on the stage the crowd went wild and kicked the already built monsoon of energy into overdrive. When Monique took the stage and filled the room with her classic vocals, everyone in Masquerade, and probably the surrounding area, turned an ear towards the stage at Hell. Monique’s stage presence is unrivaled. Her raw talent makes her a natural performer as she romps the stage egging on her adoring fans. The rest of the band comprising the new rendition of Save Ferris shined as well as they filled the room with guitar riffs, horn solos, and funky rhythms that could make statues tap a foot. When Save Ferris played tracks off their recently dropped album Checkered Past the entire crowd seemed to chime in. The bridge in their new track “Golden Silence” glistened with a slick saxophone solo by Alexander Mathias that filled the Masquerade with a jazzy-ska blend. The entire set was bumping up until the end where Save Ferris played an encore of “Come on Eileen”, their famous cover of the classic by Dexys Midnight Runners. The energy of the crowd continued until the very end of the last note, with even some wanting to hear more.

The night at Masquerade was lit. Both Burns Like Fire and Baby Baby are acts not to miss live as they put on killer shows, however Save Ferris was something special to see live due to the bands checkered past, coincidentally and justly the name of Save Ferris’s recently released album. Check out the tour dates for Save Ferris’s New Sound 2017 Tour here: http://saveferris.com

Live Review: Less Than Jake and Guests Pack Out the New Masquerade

Review by Daniel Karasek. Photos (at the end of the article) by Shaun Krisher

The night of February 24 was graced with the presence of The Attack, Bunny Gang, Pepper, and Less Than Jake at the Masquerade. This was my first show at the new Masquerade location. To be honest, it was my first adult adventure to Underground Atlanta as I haven’t been there since I was a kid over 10 years ago. On first impressions, the new location seems to be a great fit as the vibe of modern Underground Atlanta really blends well with the classic rock culture embedded in Masquerade. The stages are now split between three different rooms in the alley at Underground, much different from the traditional vertical stack where the stages got their name sake. I thought it would be jarring to not have the traditional Masquerade layout, but I was wrong. The open layout makes for a large yet cozy venue.

Now to discuss the show. To start the evening, Florida-based band The Attack rocked the stage with their unique sound that is true to the roots of punk rock. They really make their shows about their sound and not about their looks, which were also on point. The fast riffs of Brad Palkevich really got the crowd hyped while Tito Esquiaqui and Mikey Cortes held down the beat with their respective drums and bass. And we can’t forget the mad vocals of Charlie Bender blasting the world to get on his hype level. This band is a true punk band that any rocker can jam to.

Next on the set list for the night was The Bunny Gang, a rag tag group of dudes who jam out like no tomorrow. This was The Bunny Gang’s cherry pop for playing at Atlanta’s iconic Masquerade. Their self-proclaimed “Revolution Rocksteady” sound is truly a band not to miss when in town. It combines punk rock with reggae in a ska concoction that is smooth on the ears. Nathen Maxwell, the lead singer for The Bunny Gang, showed off his crisp chops as he rocked the stage. He has that rockstar persona with infectious energy that spreads like wildfire in a crowd. Backing him up were the killer keys of Levi Garrett and the hot horns of trombonist Keith Larsen as well as the rest of the motley crew. On asking for comment about the new Masquerade, Levi said “the venue had good sound” and Keith said “the venue was cool with the atmosphere”.

In the slot before the headliner was San Diego’s own Pepper, a feisty ska group very reminiscent of Sublime in their groovy sound. The band’s origin of Hawaii is obvious in their showmanship as they bring a little bit of the island culture to their show. The crowd lit up with noise as Pepper took the stage, and by the second song the walls of the Masquerade were even vibing to the music. The deep, gritty vocals of Kaleo Wassman really stood out to make the music shine. The vocals matched with the slick bass licks of Bret Bollinger and catchy beats of Yesod Williams made for one popping performance. When Kaleo and Bret broke into an acoustic duet of “Point And Shoot” the entirety of Masquerade joined in making for one hell of a singalong, in Heaven none the less. The band definitely lived up to the reputation built around their 20 year career.

As the headliner for the evening, Florida’s own Less Than Jake killed it. There was insane hype from the crowd from the moment they took the stage. To start the show, as Less Than Jake are known for their stage antics, confetti canons blasted the audience alongside the first notes that brought the audience into a roar of excitement. From note one, Less Than Jake showed why they have been kings of ska for nearly 25 years. Their second song ushered in a storm of crowd surfers that continued throughout the show. As the band continued into their set, the lead vocalist and guitarist Chris DeMakes remarked that he “never saw a better crowd” at Masquerade. The energy Chris and bassist Roger Lima put into each song was tenfold reflected by the crowd that night. They both definitely put the show in showmanship. Drummer Vinnie Fiorello kept the tunes in line with his highly danceable and contagious beats. Goldfinger and JR on trombone and tenor sax respectively added the pizzazz to the show that only horns can bring to the table, especially horns in such talented hands. The show these guys put on, riddled with the craziness and mischief necessary for a ska show, is a sight to behold. After a solid encore, Less Than Jake brought the night of great music to a close with more energy than they started their set with.

This great night of ska and rock had the Masquerade packed out. I’d recommend catching a show at the new Masquerade location, especially if any of these acts roll through again.

Photo Gallery – Less than Jake

Photo Gallery – Pepper

Photo Gallery – The Bunny Gang

CD Review: “Decision Day” by Sodom

It took three years, but the legendary Teutonic thrash outfit Sodom is back with its fifteenth record, Decision Day. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the band’s formation in 1981. However, the band still retains the aggression and Satanic vigor of its early years. The opening track, “In Retribution,” blasts through with reckless abandon with its chainsaw riffing and maniacal drumming. Frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper’s fiendish shrieks are as menacing as they were on Persecution Mania. The title track has a strong Slayer influence with its dissonant guitar chords and double bass drumming. It is a thrasher with a solid groove but a little underwhelming compared to the initial track. However, the barraging “Caligula” is a mammoth tribute to the decadent Roman emperor. The lumbering guitar riffs sound like a centurion of demons clearing a path for Caligula himself. A Sodom record is not complete without a blasphemous track, and “Who Is God” fulfills that requirement. The punkish tempo moves things at a hellish pace before it is drowned by a molten breakdown towards the end of the song. Another standout is the hellish “Belligerence” with its sinister meld of groove, blast beats and punk. The schizophrenic nature of the track puts the listener on alert for its duration, never knowing what will happen next.

Decision Day does not attempt the reinvent the wheel. Sodom is more than able to do what it wants at this point. Still, the trio deserves props for not simply dialing it in. Decision Day has great songs and there is some solid musicianship. One should not forget that Sodom was the least technical band out of the “Teutonic Three” with Destruction and Kreator pushing the musical envelope. Still, Sodom won the award for being the most extreme out of the trio both in music and lyrics. Decision Day shows the band playing blackened thrash the way it is meant to be played, nothing more and certainly no less. The production is slightly murky, and it works as it gives the music a raw edge.

Well, the grizzled trio have created another devilish treat with Decision Day. The are some solid songs on this record that will cause headbanging and moshing on the band’s upcoming tour. That is all that matters at this point. Sodom have a winning formula and it sticks to it on Decision Day. If one decides to purchase this record they will not be disappointed.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website http://www.sodomized.info/?l=en

Interview – Go Robo! Go! at Momocon 2015

Go Robo! Go! is a a self-described  “Nerd Rock” band from Atlanta. They are colorful, loud, fun and convention favorites. Last month, at MomoCon 2015, the band took the stage in the Hero room and put on their first concert in 8 months. It was a triumphant return for Go Robo! Go! and marked the third time that they have played at MomoCon.

Go Robo! Go! is made up of Sarah Rose (Guitar and Vocals), Joe Dolan (Bass, Banjo, Keyboards), Shilo Dangerous (Guitar) and Chris Preziotti (Drums).  Their music styling is hard to define, but has the all the elements of punk, pop, and energy that make for a fun listening experience. The band’s Bandcamp catalog is filled with great, well produced tunes that both pull you in and make you want to know more about the band at the same time.  Go Robo! Go!’s latest EP, Survival Songs was released last year, and their newest music video for “Sins/Sacrifice” can be watched below!

TAM took the opportunity to sit down with Go Robo! Go! during MomoCon and get to know more about the band, it’s musical style, the Atlanta music scene, and their take on independent music publishing.

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Go Robo! Go!: (L to R) Chris Preziotti, Joe Dolan, Sara Rose, Shiloh Dangerous

Tell us a bit about who Go Robo! Go! is and how you came to be a band.

Sara Rose (SR): We started about 8 years ago. I was working at a music store right outside of Atlanta, and Joe and our old guitarist, Blake, were working there way before I started. I had heard through the grapevine at work that they had this band, and had been in a few bands before that and they had some demos on MySpace, which should show you how old the band is. I went and I listened to the songs on MySpace, downloaded them and thought they were awesome. But, they were like these eight, nine minute long songs…

Joe Dolan (JD): Far too long. Just terrible prog songs.

SR: So, being the dork I was, I decided that I was going to chop these songs up on my home recording software and make them into 3-minute pop songs. I didn’t tell them I was doing any of this and I went up to Joe, told him “Hey, I so I kinda made your songs shorter and wrote some verses to them. Can I come jam with you guys?”

JD: So, Rose shows up to practice and Blake was like “This is our new singer!” But, she came to practice and things went pretty well and we’re listening to the demos and trying to learn them, and Rose said “By the way, I booked some studio time next week…” and we were like… “Ok? Why?” So, we ended up recording our first little EP in 2007 and still play one of the songs.

SR: One of the songs, “American Poet,” off of that EP is still the fourth most popular song on Spotify for us. So, a lot of the songs have had weird staying power for how quickly they came together.

JD: It’s so interesting to me, because we’ve gone through so many different formulations of the band and we’ve had so many different ideas of what we wanted to be. It’s amazing to me that we can still find people who share our vision and may have even more of an idea of what our vision is than even we do. We’re just really happy and proud that we’ve been able to keep this passion project of ours going for as long as it has been.

You describe yourself as “Nerd Rock,” but what exactly does that mean?

JD: That’s because we’re dorks who play Rock and Roll.

SR: We love nerd culture. That’s the best way to explain it. It’s always been really receptive to our band. We always say MomoCon is our favorite place to play. It seems that every year we play at MomoCon, it’s like a big family reunion of all the people who like our band.

JD: We picked a dorky name… we picked some random throw away thing that we thought was really funny. But, it’s been really good for our identity.

SR: It wasn’t our own doing, but when we started playing shows, people would draw the robot that we picked for ourselves. They would come up with stories and ideas and fan art. There’s really a whole canon around it. If you listen to the records, it was unintentional, but there is sort of a little myth arc around the lyrics. There are references to old songs in new songs and different characters that sort of popped up. It’s become its own little universe.

 

As a local band, based out of Atlanta, how do you feel about the music scene here?

JD: We love Atlanta. We love the fact that we started playing these shows when we were teenagers, so didn’t have much of a chance to play some of the bigger venues. We’ve been really embraced by a lot of the people, and some of the larger local venues like The Masquerade and Drunken Unicorn.

SR: Places where you would never have expected a band like us to play. We’ve sort of carved our own niche, and I guess it’s kind of weird because we’ve always sort of seen ourselves as the black sheep of our little scene. We don’t have a lot of good connections or networks with a lot of the more typical pop/punk or hardcore bands. We just don’t do it… not to disparage it. They’ve always sort of looked at us like we’re weird because we sing about gay sex and robots and the apocalypse.

JD: I feel like whenever someone books us, they never know what to put us on. If they’re having a pop/punk night, ok “Go Robo! Go!.” If they’re having a hip hop or a metal show… “I don’t care, I don’t know… just… whatever, they’ll be fine.”

SR: Honestly, we’ve been embraced a lot more by the Atlanta Hip Hop community, sort of weirdly.

JD: There’s a hidden Go Robo! Go! EP that’s like a Rap/Rock thing that we’ve done that will NEVER get released.

SR: It was pretty bad. But, we’ve done some pretty crazy things. We’ve collaborated a lot with the Atlanta area rappers. If you dig hard enough through their mix tapes and stuff, you’ll see me doing vocals and them doing guest vocals on some of our stuff. I think Atlanta Hip Hop artists somehow understand how spastic we are.

JD: We just don’t take ourselves too seriously, and I feel like the same thing can be said about a lot of Atlanta Hip Hop. I think that’s really what music should be. I think if you get too caught up in what your genre is and what your persona or overall presentation is, then you lose a lot of the authenticity.

How do you feel about your MomoCon concert this year?

SR: We were all just talking about it. It’s in our probably top three favorite shows that we’ve ever played.

Chris Preziotti (CP): This is my first MomoCon experience. I have always supported Go Robo! Go!. Joe and I are childhood friends. I always played in bands as well, and we always jammed together, but never officially until I moved back from California and became Joe’s roommate. Their drummer went MIA and they needed a new one, so here I am.

JD: We were playing TimeGate and literally 48 hours beforehand, our drummer wasn’t responding, so I called up Chris and I asked if he wanted to be in the band.

CP: I said “That’s absolutely fine. Give me the set list and I will learn it.” I remember, I had just moved back from California, and I was going to the DMV tag office and I just had my earphones in, listening to Go Robo! Go! on loop. I dreamt about Sarah’s voice. I remember going to TimeGate and Joe was texting me while I was in my car. He comes out to find me, and I’m in the car practicing. This was my first show and I’m learning these nine songs and was playing live in 3 hours.

JD: It went phenomenally well!

As far as independent publishing, how is your approach to it?

SR: Streaming is an interesting thing. Our royalties from Spotify are minimal at best, but since we’ve been on Spotify and other streaming services, we’ve been available to a lot more people that wouldn’t have normally taken the time to listen to us. I can’t tell you how many times last night people were asking how they could listen to our music and within a few seconds they had pulled us up on their phone and favorited our album. Even 2 years ago they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

JD: The interesting part about it, especially with Spotify is that for a small independent artist, it can cost us $50-$100 a year just to have an album on there. So, it’s an expensive thing to do, but that’s something we’re more than happy to take on because we want people to enjoy our music for a long time. We do tell people that if they want to purchase our music, they can. Go to Bandcamp… we get more money that way. It’s going to cost the exact same, or you can pay what you want. People can consume it however they want. If they feel like supporting the band, they can. But, this is something that we’ve all put a lot of money into, and we’re happy to do it because it’s very much a passion project.

SR: We’re fortunate if 1,000, 2,000, 6,000 people own the album. That’s awesome to us. I think that we’re saying to people that if they like the album and really want to support us, you can buy a record and pay what you want for it. I think that with that prompt that we’ve given people, we’ve actually gotten a lot more revenue from kids that might not have bought it otherwise.

JD: We’ve never Kickstarted anything or asked for money. The independent publishing has always been something that we felt if we were going to do, we needed to take it on ourselves. We’ve had label offers before, but the control goes away when you take a record deal. These smaller labels are just not going to support our lifestyle in a way that we would want it to be supported. Once you sign that paperwork, that’s your job.

SR: That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be open to something besides Go Robo! Go! that wasn’t a passion project like this. I think for Go Robo! Go!, we’re so protective over creative control over this project; it would have to be a very specific set of circumstances for us to consider it.


Check out Go Robo! Go!’s BandCamp and Spotify pages, and follow them on Facebook.

CD Review: ‘The American Dream Died’ by Agnostic Front

It has been 4 long years, but legendary hardcore band Agnostic Front is back with The American Dream Died. The band wastes no time voicing its disgust of government corruption. Vocalist Roger Miret gives a scathing commentary on the title track, covering everything from multinational corporations to American imperialism. Musically, the band thrashes along like it is 1985. Things heat up on “Police Violence,” which is a condemnation on police brutality. The song does not explicitly mention the deaths of Michael Brown or Eric Garner, however, it is not a stretch to state that this song is based on these incidents among others. Agnostic Front has always generated controversy, but the band must be commended for not avoiding touchy topics like police brutality and racism. The band does not let up on the pummeling “Only in America,” which criticizes the treatment of veterans in the U.S. Roger belts out “Land of the free/home of the brave/they fought for freedom/but now they’re treated just like slaves.” The band still stresses the importance of unity and staying strong. The hardcore boogie “We Walk the Line” is as uplifting as it is tough. “Never Walk Alone” is a tribute to the hardcore life and the band itself. It would not be an Agnostic Front album without a track dedicated to the hardcore scene right?

The production is top notch thanks to Freddy Cricien of Madball behind the helm. The sound is crisp and no instrument drowns out the other. Vinnie’s Stigma’s guitar riffs are clear as a bell while Pokey Mo’s drumming punches through the speakers. There is no muffling or compression, which is a major positive.

Agnostic Front show no signs of slowing down after 30 plus years in. So long as life is hard and injustice present, Roger Miret and the guys will have something to say. The American Dream Died is a straight up unapologetic hardcore record. New York’s finest has done it again.

For information regarding upcoming tour dates check out the band’s website: www.agnosticfront.com

Interview with Los Angeles punk band It’s Casual

Eddie Solis has hustle. He’s half of the L.A. punk band It’s Casual — a two-piece that played The Warped Tour with Bad Religion, NOFX and Story of the Year. They’ve also shared bills out of town with Mastodon, Early Man and Fu Manchu. That’s because Eddie Solis works hard making sure his music gets heard. When Solis plays, he comes off even harder. It’s Casual’s songs are loud, straight-to-the-point anthems about life in Los Angeles played. Solis shouts his lyrics with a palpable passion. The avid skater, lover of music and public transportation advocate lives the same way. Target Audience checked in with Solis just before his band released their latest album, The New Los Angeles II, to talk about his passions.

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Los Angeles is a city that a lot of people hate on. What is so inspiring to you about the city?

The inspiration of L.A., for me, comes from exploring the city car free. Being green and eco-friendly about it. That being said, as a car-free Angelino, I feel free; I feel un-attached to a congested freeway. I feel un-attached to parking fees, gas and monthly car and insurance payments. So it’s a stress free situation.

It’s easier to love L.A. when you’re not trapped in a car, right?

I can commute from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena to Hollywood to East Los Angeles back to downtown Los Angeles for $3.00 a day by using the “unused” EZ Pass. I get off any stop and explore; soak in the people, the culture, the geography and the vibe. And getting to each destination is a breeze so when I arrive, I’m very open and at ease for a new experience. Los Angeles is so big and being able to explore car free is a treat. I literally hop on and off to each stop. And allowing all things to resonate is completely priceless. The inspiration comes from the ability to explore every crevice and alley way in addition to all the landmarks.

Some people would say the subject of public transportation is fairly mundane? Why write songs about subway lines?

Good question. I am using the theme as a platform to share my perspective and experiences. For instance, “The Redline” was originally written because I challenged a friend to meet me at L.A. Live for an event. And we were both coming from Hollywood. At rush hour on a weekday, I arrived thirty minutes earlier. That is how I started coming up with the lyrics, “The 210 /  the 605 / the freeways / are not so nice.’ It’s an all perpetuated from real life experiences.

On the other hand, my intent is to expose a perspective of Los Angeles that doesn’t exist. That perspective is through the eye’s of a bus rider.

What music reached you the way you hope to reach people with the messages in your music? What did those songs inspire you to do?

I would say Black Flag and Cypress Hill. Black Flag inspired me not with the music so to say, but more with the big picture. Meaning: record your own records, release them yourself. And everything is DIY! Don’t follow the trends. Part of the Black Flag message is the work ethic. Being relentless. Cypress Hill for crafting their own sound and sticking to it.

Are you an LA native? If so what was it like growing up in LA?

I was born in East Los Angeles and raised in El Sereno and Whittier. To me, growing up in the 80s and 90s was a cultural phenomenon. Once the movie “Colors” came out, everyone got into gangs. Seems like one day everyone was skateboarding down the street together and the next I was at their funeral. Growing up in LA was definitely great to mix it up with different cultures and defining your own individuality if you were determined to stay on a path of skateboarding and music as I did. That was a challenge, but taught tenacity.

Tell me about Dob Le Ve, the drummer in It’s Casual. How did you meet?

I met him at a gig at Cal State Long Beach. We were bonding over the Melvins.

What’s the wildest show It’s Casual has ever played?

Chicago at the Double Door with Fu Manchu on Halloween. That year it landed on a Saturday. We intentionally didn’t get a hotel room. Our flights were out of Long Beach airport at 3 p.m. PST Saturday. We arrived a couple hours before the gig, sound checked, played, watched Fu Manchu, partied til 4 a.m. and took public transportation back to O’hare airport. Flew out at 8 a.m. Central and landed at Long Beach at 11 a.m. or so.

Most of the songs on the new record are punk rock short. Tell me about your thinking behind “The Gap is Widening.”

“The Gap is Widening” is homage to Black Flag; the process of weeding out.

On your radio show, Los Angeles Nista, you get the opportunity to interview tons of amazing musicians. Who was your favorite to talk to and why?

I would say speaking with Keith Morris from Off! and Black Flag. With Keith, it was the stories. Also, Louie Perez of Los Lobos had great insight on Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s. Carla Harvey of the Butcher Babies because she had great insight and a love for Highland Park and enjoyed taking the Goldline.

Would you ever move away from L.A.?

Yes, but will I always have a residence because this is home.

 

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Anberlin

20th Annual Vans Warped Tour in Atlanta July 24

The Vans Warped Tour made its stop in Atlanta July 24, 2014, at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, drawing in droves of punk rock kids (and their parents). The Warped Tour is celebrating its milestone 20th year, and the festival continues to grow and evolve, never failing to provide punk rock’s biggest acts on the bill and also give the unknown up and comers a chance to shine. This year’s Warped featured nearly 100 punk rock/pop and metal bands, including veterans such as Anberlin, Mayday Parade, Less Than Jake and Yellowcard, as well as bands new to the scene such as The Summer Set and We The Kings.

Though the day was sweltering and the threat of rain hung over Lakewood, bands playing on the uncovered stages gave it their all. The first band I caught on the Warheads stage was Cute Is What We Aim For, a veteran of the festival. The band, formed in 2005, kept the crowd pumped during a performance that included “Newport Living,” “Practice Makes Perfect” and “The Curse of Curves.” A short rain shower didn’t faze lead singer Shaant Hacikyan, who strolled along the edge of the stage thrusting his microphone into the crowd for them to sing along.

Back inside the amphitheatre, punk veterans Yellowcard took the Kia Soul stage, launching right into “Lights and Sounds,” from the 2006 album of the same name. The band, out of Jacksonville, Fla., took the crowd through a diverse set that included hits “Light Up The Sky,” “Awakening,” and arguably the band’s most popular song, “Ocean Avenue.” Lead singer Ryan Key and violinist Sean Mackin did their part to keep the crowd jumping and singing along to every word and their energy was probably the best of all the bands performing. Yellowcard has been performing together for nearly 20 years, but the band is obviously still loving every minute of it. Drummer Nate Young is spending a busy Warped Tour playing drums for both Yellowcard and his own band, Anberlin. He pulled off every Yellowcard song effortlessly, making his way to the other side of Lakewood to play with Anberlin shortly after.

2014 is Anberlin’s last year together, as the band announced earlier this year that it would be breaking up, but releasing a final album and going out on a final tour. Fresh off the release of that album, Lowborn, the band drew what was likely the biggest crowd of any act performing at Warped. Anberlin took the Warheads stage, launching right into “Feel Good Drag,” the band’s biggest hit. Lead singer Stephen Christian was a non-stop energy, keeping the crowd riled up, fist pumping and singing along through a set that included “Self-Starter,” “Breaking,” and new song “Stranger Ways.” Christian let the fans know that Anberlin would be performing in Atlanta one more time (at the time, no Atlanta date had yet been announced) to enormous cheer, and that he and the other members of the band would be signing immediately following its set. Anberlin closed out the set with fan favorite “Paperthin Hymn.”

Shortly after, a massive storm rolled over Lakewood, shutting down the outdoor stages for nearly an hour due to lightning. While a lot of people left after this, the diehards made their way to the covered Amphitheatre for sets from Breathe Carolina, Mayday Parade, Enter Shikari and The Summer Set. When the rain finally stopped, fans ventured back outside, even though many of the later sets were cut short due to time.

I caught alternative/punk act The Maine on the Warheads stage, who gave its all despite a fairly small crowd. The band, out of Tempe, Ariz., had a short set that included “Right Girl,” “Into Your Arms,” and “Run,” from the newest album, 2013’s Forever Halloween. Frontman John O’Callaghan dominated the stage, encouraging fans to sing along and jump with him. After only four songs, O’Callaghan informed the crowd that the band only had one minute left since the set was cut short and the band launched into a teaser of “Girls Do What They Want,” which had the crowd briefly dancing and singing along and definitely left wanting more.

ANBERLIN GALLERY

 

YELLOWCARD GALLERY

Cute Is What We Aim For Gallery

Breathe Carolina Gallery

Enter Shikari Gallery

The Maine Gallery