Searching the creative dance of warfare with Chris Emery of American Head Charge

ahc chris_RingMasterReview

We have not been alone in declaring Tango Umbrella, the new album from American Head Charge, as not only one of the band’s most thrilling and potent offerings but one of metal’s most exhilarating incitements in recent times. Following the successful Shoot EP, the album confirmed after a hiatus that the band has returned creatively bigger and bolder than ever. With the offer to find out more laid before us, we quickly seized the opportunity to quiz drummer Chris Emery about not only Tango Umbrella but also on that six year absence, the kinship within the band, and much more…

Hello Chris and great thanks for sharing some of your time with us.

I think most metal fans know something about the beginning of American Head Charge and certainly your albums, The War Of Art and The Feeding. But the reasons for the hiatus we realised we were definitely in the dark. Before looking at the mighty treat that is Tango Umbrella, can you explain why the break and more so what sparked the band’s return?

Certainly Pete, I wouldn’t mind shining some light on that spot of AHC history for you. Basically the hiatus was Chad Hanks, co-founder and man with the plan, closing up the A.H.C. shop. Continually not being able to make contact with Cameron (Heacock) for song collaboration purposes and anything band related, he naturally called it quits. He tried to get in touch with him but they weren’t able to get together. As far as we knew at the time the break was permanent. Then one day, out of the clear blue, Cameron emails Chad new demos. No “hi, how you /this is what’s going on.” After Chad heard Cameron’s voice he knew that he was healthy and writing amazing work. I received the same demos. Some of them were songs that Justin and Chad were working on in addition to the brilliant work coming from Cameron. We were all just so happy to know that he was alright and in a happy creative frame of mind.

And the songs were exciting to boot so that was a plus and the spark that supplied all the energy this collaborative shared dream needed to gain lift and begin to take shape. The whole year leading up to Chad sending me songs and asking if I was down to play again; I was setting off sparks every day in my own mind. I would sit and daydream about playing with them again. Mentally preparing myself for the day that spark caught fire and set in motion the series of events leading us here. The spark was the music. As soon as I heard the demos for Let All The World Believe and Perfectionist, I just knew in my heart that these songs were a pre-production process away from being an incredible record. We knew it was going to take every ounce of energy and clout we could gather to make it happen. The fans were a huge spark. When we did the indigo campaign and it was a huge success it became real. We began pinching each other on a daily basis.

ahc4_RingMasterReviewI often wonder when a band stops or goes on a hiatus and then returns sometimes years later, how much is feeling like there is unfinished business, how much is working through issues and then members coming to a mutual kinship again, and how much is simply as a music fan being inspired by other’s great releases to go again or to show some how it should be done…any apply to AHC?

All of it applies. There were loads of new songs to work on together as a band. There was much work to be done and everyone was eager to get started. The mutual kinship came naturally. You get us together, and no matter what we’ve endured in the past, we squash it and move forward. We grew while apart, and I witnessed grown men with love in their hearts say and do everything needed to honestly come together. As we got sincere, the music grew tight. You could see it in our eyes and in our actions and behavior. We were on a mission to make an honest comeback that contained all the essential ingredients; overcoming hurdles, timeless music, support from fans, excitement from a record label, and the entire group giving 100%. Even when we had to overcome obstacles, we supported each other and never lost sight of why we decided to do this in the first place. Nothing great comes easy.

As we mentioned, you have just released the excellent Tango Umbrella, an album which for us is as much a kaleidoscope of your creative highlights to date and indeed inspirations as it is a wholly fresh and stirring AHC proposal. Did you have any particular intention in the writing of the album and the character of its sound to re-connect with the past or was it something which organically emerged?

It emerged and evolved organically. A lot of our tried and true methods of writing become helpful when working with new songs. Remember, this is coming from a self-taught drummer that doesn’t write lyrics or music. When we got together and played what they originally wrote it evolved into the finished songs. Sometimes changing a little, other times remaining much closer to the original song idea. On this and past records I contributed a few ideas. Mostly from what I witness and hear when watching my brother’s work, some kind of magical muse takes over. We do our best to get our egos out of the way and let it guide us. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing the part that was written and let the original attraction of the music have its voice heard through the live recording process. I would complicate simple parts at times. It would take direction from everyone to keep me focused. And sometimes it flowed naturally with less effort. We just did our best to create the structure for the song that fit the music perfectly. Sometimes on the spot creativity and experimentation guided the production along. Those were exciting moments.

I can assume the songs within the album are all new propositions or were there older thoughts and previously unused ideas also brought back into the open?

There were a few songs in pre-production that didn’t make the record. Because there was such a large selection of songs and ideas, it was a mixed bag for a while. It had to be carefully sifted through to come up with the perfect selection of tunes, a process helped by having Dave Fortman use his production expertise to help guide us. Most of the songs were new. I did hear a few ideas that were reshaped into ground-breaking AHC effort.

How in general do you hear your sound’s evolution over especially your albums to this point?

I hear more dynamics in the music and lyrically. Cameron is stretching out, coming up with mind blowing ideas. Justin’s involvement in song writing and growth has been amazing. I’m just trying to keep up with all of it and get better as their songwriting evolves.

How did the band approach the creation of Tango Umbrella in the writing and its recording? Was it majorly different to how you went into making The Feeding for example?

I wouldn’t say majorly different in music writing and lyrics. Justin wrote lyrics. That was different. The fans paid for it. That was a major difference art_RingMasterReviewand help. It was recorded in beautiful Richmond, Kentucky. The backdrop of lush green pasture with miles of fences was much softer than the LA concrete. Especially when walking the dog. When we did pre-production for The Feeding we were at Cole Rehearsal studios. LA had more distractions but the studio was bigger. I was fresh out of treatment during The Feeding; recorded it stone sober.

You have touched on this in regard to the new album but generally how do songs come together within the band? Is there a specific method or more regular way by which tracks come about?

Most of the time, Chad and Cameron write songs then bring them to us. The regular is we learn the tunes then we all pre-produce them. There are so many ways they can come together. Starting with riffs, lyrics, samples, loops triggered manually keeping time.

How long had Tango Umbrella been in the making?

From when we started recording it took longer than originally planned. But we had to pay as we went; the way I see it, since The Feeding was finished.

Were its seeds and direction already planted in thoughts in the early moments of the band’s return and the Shoot EP, which I would say in hindsight, gives a definite hint or two about what was to come ?

Yes that is a fairly accurate statement. Shoot was more of a snapshot of where we were musically at the time. It was tracked quickly while on tour. With Tango Umbrella we had more of an opportunity to let songs evolve more before recording.

As you touched on earlier, the band went down the crowd funding route for Tango Umbrella. Do you think this is the way for bands to go now; the future of being able to make music once a band hits a certain fan base level?

It worked well for us. You can do a lot with several thousand dollars. You can also do much these days with less. So depending on how much the band could raise. It does look like a great option for bands today.

ahc3Can you tell us about the themes running through Tango Umbrella and certain songs?

I could but right now Christopher is going to pass. It’s a great question.

How about the emotion loaded A King Among Men? We got the feeling it was inspired by the loss of AHC guitarist Bryan Ottoson in 2005 but also may be by more recent losses like Wayne Static and of course Lemmy. What are its origins?

Not sure exactly, but it makes me think of Bryan and my brother Tim. The song gives me cold chills.

Who came up with the excellent art work and photography for Tango Umbrella?

Forgot sorry, I’d have to ask Chad; it’s getting super early I’m so sleepy

Once more many thanks for chatting with us. Anything you would like to add?

I could use a nap 😉

Check out our review of Tango Umbrella @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/american-head-charge-tango-umbrella/

http://www.headcharge.com/     https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHeadCharge    https://twitter.com/AHC_Official

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 14/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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OTEP – Generation Doom

photo credit: Paul Brown

photo credit: Paul Brown

There have been few furnaces in word, sound, and defiance as potent and irresistible to our ears over the past decade than Otep Shamaya and her band Otep. Across six albums she and co have crafted and crafted provocation, incitement, and incendiary metal invention like an artist with a palette of unquenchable suggestiveness. Now to ensure and show that the fires of art, imagination, and discontent burn as imposingly bright as ever, her band uncage Generation Doom. The seventh album from the LA hailing protagonists of noise and thought, body and spirit, is an inescapable predator within a kaleidoscope of metal fury woven from nu and industrial through to groove and poetic alchemy.

In the world we live today and the breed of bigotry and injustices that comes with it, there is an endless supply of fuel to the lyrical ire and challenges that escapes Otep Shamaya’s mind and pen. Fair to say though, that every inventive twist and emotional flame shaping Generation Doom has arguably the band’s fiercest venom and greatest animosity yet, but intimidation and rage aligning with some of the band’s most imaginative ideas and exploits. Certainly the album has everything you expect from an Otep proposition, a rare time when expectations are wonderfully fed to no displeasure, but every track, each moment of adventure, comes with new ingenuity and fearsomely imaginative craft to drool over. You do not have to know who created Generation Doom, ears can tell within the opening minutes. Otep is perpetually a proposition and artist out on their own which with their new album has unleashed a fresh pinnacle in their inspirational presence within music.

Generation Doom opens up its virulent warfare with Zero; global and intimate apathy as much in its sights as the ears and imagination of the listener. Within its first few breaths, the song is an uncompromising assault of barbarous rhythms and rapacious riffs ridden by the distinctive vocal presence and prowess of Shamaya. Grooves are soon dancing and flirting with tenacious enterprise alongside; throaty harmonics in turn regaling the air as her ever diverse and gripping tones spring vocal and lyrical traps as easy to get caught by as the maze of unpredictable sound igniting the senses.

The track is the sign of things to come, of the unexpected and ferociously striking explorations that infest release and appetite as in Feeding Frenzy. The second track is almost bull like in its initial steely pawing of the ground before prowling and grinding its punk metal hued rock ‘n’ roll into the greedily welcoming psyche. As the first, the track is swift addiction feeding an already Otep seeded appetite whilst weaving a voracious tapestry of diversely baited textures and confrontational trespasses that devour as a whole new creative scourge. The track is superb, an irresistible intrusion which drops out for one of the cinematic/ emotively visceral samples/pieces that Otep are and have been so great at conjuring over the years.

art_RingMasterReviewLords Of War follows with its haunting voice and descriptively evocative mystique. The sounds of invasive force and subjugation litter the disturbed ambience of the track, its portentous inevitability exploding in a tirade of riffs and merciless rhythms as vocals flirt with and dance on the assaultive intent. Gripping body and thoughts, the song epitomises the Otep ability to reflect the object of their lyrical attack in tone and sound whilst simultaneously placing it under attack by the same.

Already the variety of the album is a clear quality across early songs and broadened to enthralling success by Royals. A striking cover of the Lorde song, the band embraces the pop theatre of the original and weaves it in an aggressive growl and raw metal escapade drenched in Otep distinctiveness. Floating harmonies lurk in the background as melodies kiss and go across the emerging tempest of shadowed emotion and creative drama. Not for the first or last time, Shamaya confirms her stature and agility as a vocalist; clean and throat scarring tones as easy from her body and on the ear as the rap bred delivery which steers this compelling proposal. The vocalist has a voice which can charm the birds or spark the darkest demons, the former a bewitching flame across the melodic rock of In Cold Blood and its pyre of honest reflection brewing up into an almost animus like roar of noise and emotion, Throughout keys court the sonic rancor with poetic elegance, the track ruffling the feathers and stirring the imagination before the eastern hued Down intimidatingly seduces and hungrily bristles with its industrial infused kaleidoscopic and fractious emprise.

Religion and its source feels the full creative force of God Is A Gun next, the track an unbridled face melting gladiatorial challenge of volcanic metal and intensity, whilst the hip hop/electro scented Equal Rights, Equal Lefts has its eyes and aim on intolerance and bigotry easy to assume being as intimately as observationally inspired. Both tracks grip ears and thoughts with sublime efficiency and creative alchemy in sound and syllable, swiftly matched by the invasively infectious and forcibly fascinatingly melancholic No Color. That seductive sombreness also continues in Lie, a hypnotic blending of light and dark textures casting a snarl in its beauty and mesmerism in its tempestuousness across an ever evolving creative landscape reigned over by Shamaya’s expansive vocal presence and adventure.

The album’s title track goes for the jugular next, its irritable maelstrom of toxic grooves and cancerous riffs entwined in choleric industrial volatility and rhythmic antagonism. It is all bound together by another fluid bedlam of galvanic and corrosive vocal dexterity creating a savaging as delicious as it is destructive. The track leaves ears ringing and senses numb with pleasure in turn thick and set to overflow over the closing beauty of On The Shore. A rhythmic catchiness is matched in gait and vocal swing with Shamaya kissing ears with sunlit melodies and warm caresses as darker, angrier shadows lurk and subsequently crowd her dominant presence.

The track is a glorious end to a stunning album which, even with a definitely biased outset because of previous encounters, simply blew our expectations and hopes away.  For Otep fans, Generation Doom is new manna for the ears and for newcomers and those maybe yet to be convinced by the band’s sound, something to seriously consider exposing their intrigue to; the rewards are relentless.

Generation Doom is released via Napalm Records April 15th on iTunes and other stores.

http://otepsaves.me/   https://www.facebook.com/otepofficial/   https://twitter.com/otepofficial

Pete RingMaster 14/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

H2NY – Tremor

H2NY-Press-Photo_RingMasterReview

It has been almost four years since Halfway To New York made an impressive introduction to themselves with the Treading Water EP; a highly enjoyable encounter which only grew in stature and persuasion over time. Since then, apart from the occasional listen of the release, the band has been lost to the shadows of thoughts as a swarm of other encounters have stolen attention.  The band now returns to reclaim ears with first album Tremor and having shortened the name to H2NY, the British quartet show the time between offerings has been well spent breeding new maturity and adventure in their melodic rock.

Formed as 2012 opened its eyes, H2NY have backed up the success of the acclaimed Treading Water EP over time with tours across the UK and performances at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in Hyde Park and headlining Trafalgar Square as part of the Closing Paralympic Celebrations. The band has successfully invaded the US too; supporting Fuel and then Alien Ant Farm whilst playing shows in 38 US States involving the covering of more than 24,000 miles in the process. As mentioned the past couple of years have seen the band slip from focus and personal radar somewhat but fair to say, they have reappeared with a bang with Tremor.

The album opens with the first single taken from it, Bleed. Straight away a muscular wall of riffs and rhythms encase ears, H2NY swiftly showing the power in their sound and equally the harmonic prowess of vocalist Sam Burkey. It is a magnetic entrance only blossoming further as the melodic and sonic enterprise of guitarist Scott De Jongh courts the darker rumbling tones of Daniel Mount’s bass. The great undemanding yet potent band harmonies simply bring richer colour to the captivation; mischievous hooks and a rousing tenacity similarly as persuasive as band and release get off to a masterful start.

art_RingMasterReviewOn the Run follows with its own sinewy strength and presence, and like its predecessor an infectious swagger and imagination which steers every groove and hook straight into a waiting greedy appetite. With the jabbing beats of Martin Griffith framing its resourceful blaze, the track recalls the great essences which made the first EP an easy draw on ears whilst revealing the new dynamics and bold creativity shaping album and songs like Little Piece of Everything which comes next. The band’s latest single makes a less forceful entrance but soon brews its own anthemically nurtured and energetic tempting which has feet and voice in eager participation with its rousing endeavour. Emotively hued with seamless variation in its cry and intensity, the song keeps the spirit already stirred up by the first pair, in full swing.

The melodic croon of Love Behind You firmly engages ears and thoughts with another side to the band’s sound where pulsating beats align with a melancholic caress of guitar as Burkey’s voice shines with emotive expression. There is an underlying tempestuousness led by the great prowling throb of bass to the song too, a volatility which threatens to erupt and at times almost breaks through but always finds itself reined in by the reflective heart of song and word; a design equally soaking Slide By straight after. Elegant and sombre, the track is a serenade of acoustic and melodic flames which also builds more aurally dramatic points in its contemplation.

Both songs keep ears eager and enjoyment ripe but swiftly find them eclipsed by the outstanding pair of Every Inch a King and Caught in the Middle. The first of the two begins as a brooding tempting with dark rhythms and sultry melodic suggestiveness prowling and veining song and ears respectively before uncaging a virulent contagion posing as a chorus. It is glorious stuff, vocals a gripping protagonist as strong and persuasive as the climactic air and sonic invention at work. As its breath dissipates, the track slips into the thicker shadows of its successor. Simultaneously emotionally dark and addictively catchy, the song is a thrilling emotional maze of bold vocals and fiery textures around an almost predatory rhythmic spine. The track is majestic, an ingenious blend of textures and emotive shades taking best song honours.

The following Blue Eyes has a thankless task backing up two major pinnacles of the release yet with its melancholy lined character and body of alternative/melodic rock it has ears and satisfaction on side with ease. Carrying a tinge of Sick Puppies meets Adelitas Way, the outstanding song beguiles before making way for the explosive dynamics of Over and Out which soon has body and soul keenly bouncing. As many of the songs, it has an old friend familiarity and like most uses it as an easily engaging spice to the unpredictability and anthem like vivacity of its unique character.

More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows lays a strongly alluring and feverishly tenacious hand on ears next before the album’s title track soothes, by this point, an admittedly exhausted body and imagination with its heart bred hug and melodic romancing subsequently leading to its own particular blaze of sound and emotion. Each entices and heavily pleases before leaving Counting Sheep to bring Tremor to a fine end with its intimate balladry sculpted on folkish melodies, mesmeric harmonies, and impassioned emotion.

Tremor is a superb ‘return’ from H2NY; an attention and spotlight grabbing proposal which, whilst igniting ears and pleasure, reminds that the prime thought after Treading Water, that the band had a big future ahead of them, is still the undeniable case.

Tremor is released April 15th via iTunes and other stores.

http://www.h2nyband.com/    https://www.facebook.com/H2NYBAND    https://twitter.com/h2nyband

Pete RingMaster 14/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Slow Riot – Trophy Wife

Photo by Steve Gullick Photography

Photo by Steve Gullick Photography

Earning thick acclaim and attention with their Cathedral EP, Irish trio Slow Riot are now poised to release their new single and a fresh inventive colour to their already magnetic sound. Their previous release and singles worn an open post punk inspiration drawing likenesses to bands such as Gang of Four, Television, and Wire, as well as a shoegaze scented melodic charm. Though Trophy Wife is still embracing such seeds, it swiftly shows a new adventure of swinging rhythms and imagination tantalising hooks with a vivacity to match that of the driving energy fuelling its body. The result is a compelling affair which still springs from an eighties spawned heart but with the tenacious urgency of the now.

art_RingMasterReviewFormed in 2013, Slow Riot consists of vocalist/bassist Niall Clancy, drummer Paul Cosgrave, and guitarist Aaron Duff. 2015 saw the band release their first pair of singles in City Of Culture and Demons, two intrigue sparking songs which made a bigger impact as part of the attention grabbing Cathedral EP last October. The time between its release and the new single has seen a new twist and exploration in the band’s sound which Trophy Wife is already showing as being a great fresh step.

As the last EP, the single was recorded with Kevin Vanbergen (The Pixies, The Maccabees, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The La’s, Biffy Clyro) at Brighton’s Park Studios and quickly gets to work persuading and exciting ears with its initial surge of beefy rhythms and sonic incitement. Guitars spring a melodic web from there as the bass invitingly prowls, the first cradling the warm tones of Clancy and his harmonic delivery. Almost straight away, that previous post punk spicing emerges as a more new wave hued character, nudging thoughts of bands like B-Movie and Modern English whilst the pounding drive of the song and its intensive undercurrent of virulence offers a Doves meets Editors like tempting.

The track is a vivacious captivation accompanied by B-side Awake For Days; a more laid back proposition revealing another shade in the new palette of enterprise used by Slow Riot in songwriting and sound. Though hopes are that the band do not entirely free themselves of the darker post punk hues found in their debut EP, there is no denying that Trophy Wife offers something just as exciting and easy to find a healthy appetite for.

Trophy Wife is out on April 15th via Straight Lines Are Fine @ http://www.thegenepool.co.uk/artists/SLOW+RIOT.htm

Upcoming live dates:

18/04 – Opium Rooms, Dublin w/ Mission Of Burma

23/04 – Kasbah Social Club, Limerick

25/04 – The Waiting Room, London (free show)

https://www.facebook.com/slowriot.theband   https://www.instagram.com/slowriot.theband/   https://twitter.com/Slow_Riot_Band

Pete RingMaster 14/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/