Music City Booking presents
The Revival Tour 2013 feat. Dave Hause, Tim McIlrath, Rise Against, Chuck Ragan, Rocky Votolato, & Jenny Owen YoungsPop/Rock
Philadelphia PA | Alternative
For Dave Hause the American dream is a broken promise, a childhood ideal that has been shattered by the reality of the past two decades. On the musician's second solo album, Devour, Hause scours the foundation of that crumbled dream in an attempt to discover how everything we believed growing up could have turned out so differently. The album, initially written to become the third record from Hause's rock band The Loved Ones, follows his 2011 solo debut Resolutions, a disc that allowed the musician to understand his potential as his own artist.
As Hause, a Philadelphia native, began penning new music for a new album from The Loved Ones, it became clear that the group, who had taken a break after their second album, had stalled. These songs, however, which showcased a clear thematic journey, were meant to be vocalized by Hause and over the past few years he transformed them into Devour. Hause solidified the album's sequence before even going into the studio, aiming to craft a narrative arc that drove the album from its dark, heavy first half into a lighter, more hopeful tone. A thematic line of melody runs through the songs, reflecting the overarching ideas in the music itself. The disc explores the heartbreak of shattered childhood promises of a better world and concludes with optimistic hope.
"Devour is about that inherent American appetite," Hause says. "It's in all the songs in some degree. There's a reason why Tony Soprano became such a huge American icon - he's this guy with this insane appetite for women and food and power. I think for the American public to latch onto a figure like that says something. Some of the positive things about America come from that as well, but there's a real sense of reckoning that comes from devouring everything in front of you. Is it ever enough?"
The rock songs, tinged with folk and punk tones, are firmly rooted in Hause's own upbringing and the sensibility that comes from growing up in a blue collar neighborhood driven by the lingering anticipation of upward mobility. In the lyrics, the fulcrum around which the album revolves, Hause grapples with this working class ideal and the fact that America's recent shifts have caused it to no longer fit. From "The Great Depression," which centers on the unfulfilled promises laid out in the Reagan-era '80s, to the more specific-minded relationships of "Father's Son," Devour comes to terms with the loss of youthful innocence in a rapidly evolving world.
"I wanted to shine a light back on what was going on," Hause says. "It was a topic that was close to me and I wanted to write about it. In the end, it leaves you with the idea that if you have music and love you may be able to save yourself. It's going to be alright. That simple John Lennon concept of all you need is love. That's how I wrote myself out of the dark and the music begs the listener to come take that risk as well."
Once Hause had the track sequence and overall narrative in place he enlisted producer Andrew Alekel along with musician and co-producer Mitchell Townsend. The producers helped Hause collect the right musicians to build the songs in the best way possible, including My Morning Jacket keyboardist Bo Koster, Social Distortion drummer David Hidalgo Jr. and bassist Bob Thomson. Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison, Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba and The Watson Twins also appear on several tracks. Hause and his crew recorded the album over several weeks from mid-February to mid-March at Grandmaster Recorders LTD. in Hollywood, CA, focusing on giving each song the right tone while maintaining an overall musical aesthetic that helps tie the lyrical themes together.
"It was this group effort," Hause says. "A lot of trust went into letting Andrew and Mitch be the architects of the record. I trusted that we would get in there and they would know who was right for the music. They wanted to bring these people together in this great studio to get a record that was greater than the sum of its parts. I'm glad I trusted them because it was great to work with everyone there."
For the musician, who has toured with Social Distortion, The Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls and Chuck Ragan since launching his solo career, Devour is a cathartic release, both sonically and lyrically. Hause recently relocated to California and is committed to pursing the music he feels best reflects him individually. The journey on the album, the search for the light at the end of the tunnel, mirrors his own trek. The record closes with the delicate introspection of "Benediction," a song that pulls lyrical lines from all the tracks that precede it. After all the ruined promises and the culminating disappointments of the world, Hause ends the album with the sentiment of possibility. "It's love my friend in the end that can save us tonight," he sings. "So are you in?"
Chicago IL | Rock
Timothy J. McIlrath was born in 1979 in Arlington Heights, IL. At a young age he read books such as 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which would influence his later work. As a child in Catholic school, he was taunted for having one brown eye and one blue eye, known as heterochromia. As an early teenager, all of Tim's friends were into snowboarding, so Tim saved up money until he had $400 to buy a snowboard. He had his heart set on becoming a snowboarder (even though he had never snowboarded before), until the day he went to buy one. One day he walked to the snowboard shop, but entered a nearby guitar shop instead. He fell in love with a 1984 cherry red Gibson SG and bought it for $425.
He began his musical career in his teenage years; he was very active in the Chicago local alternative rock/punk scene. His first band was the post hardcore band Baxter, formed in 1995 along with future The Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessy and future Killing Tree and Holy Roman Empire bassist Geoff Reu. Their first release was a full length, self released, cassette, Troy's Bucket, which was released in 1996. Troy's Bucket was met with warm reception from the scene, and Baxter became a popular band in the Chicago underground scene.
Baxter was introduced to the greater Chicago scene as the local opening act for national touring acts like Good Riddance, Braid, Hot Water Music, Slapstick, Alkaline Trio, and Strife.
Chicago IL | Rock
Doomsday scenarios are often predictive about an ending in life, revealing just what would occur if the world pushed itself to the brink of extinction. And the term “endgame” typically parallels such thinking, often evoking concepts of finality or termination.
But for Rise Against, this particular endgame might just be their beginning.
As the title of the band’s sixth full-length studio album—and the moniker of the album’s title track—Endgame is indicative of both a world that has run its course, and perhaps ushering in an entirely new start.
“It’s about a dangerous time in civilization, the end of life,” says vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath. “What if the life that we’re living right now is this unsustainable bubble that cannot go on and perhaps does not deserve to go on? What if the world we created is a place that is so unnatural and ugly that it is a world that needs to come to an end, so that we could have a world that is better for everybody? It sounds very utopian, but it’s not about a perfect place, but maybe some of these things we’re doing, they need to come to an end.”
McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, drummer Brandon Barnes and guitarist Zach Blair have been making these striking personal and political statements, and providing prompts of great magnitude throughout their remarkable catalog by offering songs that aren’t just merely sung, but very much thought about.
And it’s thought that has made Rise Against such an important band to its ever-expanding fanbase. For the Chicago-based punk group, the creation of dialogue and discourse with listeners has allowed for a response and career trajectory that’s been overwhelmingly positive since the band’s launch over a decade ago.
Rise Against’s previous effort, 2008’s Appeal to Reason, further escalated the noteworthy attention already generated by prior successes, including The Sufferer and the Witness (2006) and Siren Song for the Counterculture (2004), which had provided such hits as “Swing Life Away,” “Ready to Fall,” “Prayer of the Refugee” and “Savior.” And Endgame simply picks up on such highlights.
Endgame was largely assembled in the latter half of 2010. The band opted to return to production veterans Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colo., and mixed with Chris Lord-Alge, who also worked on Rise Against’s previous two albums.
The album’s first single, “Help Is On The Way” was inspired by McIlrath’s recent visit during a retreat in New Orleans.
“It was a post-Katrina New Orleans, and I was down at the Gulf, going to the Lower Ninth Ward, seeing the damage and meeting people,” he recalls. “It was so eye opening to see how important the city was and to realize that a city like this existed within American borders at all and to see how much it was hurting was something that was really emotional and dramatic.”
McIlrath notes that the song stems from a lot of that imagery that remains embedded in his thoughts.
“I wanted to paint a picture of what happened down there and what is happening down there, and even though New Orleans is moving away from the spotlight a little bit, there’s still a lot recovery that people don’t see that takes place every day and it’s still an important place in America and in the world. It’s a place that should not be forgotten about. It’s a hopeful title in a sense, but there are a couple different things, as in help is on the way but it never came. It still needs a lot more help, it still needs to happen.”
On Endgame, Rise Against also shifts the spotlight to homophobia via “Make it Stop,” a topic McIlrath says really hasn’t been addressed in the rock scene. The catalyst for the song occurred in September 2010, after a wave of gay teen suicides. According to McIlrath, the band received e-mails from gay fans who had contemplated suicide due to the harsh climates in which they live and the harsh world that judges who they are.
“That’s something I’ve seen firsthand,” he says. “It’s bummed me out to create this community of fans, where you want everybody to feel accepted, but then to realize that there are people that don’t feel accepted, even at your own shows, even at a Rise Against show, where we go out of our way to let you know that if you are here, you belong here, no matter who you are. It’s a place where everyone is welcome. But we’d hear from fans about homophobia in the scene, or even hear from fans who are unsure about how Rise Against feels about homosexuality. That was what alarmed me the most, was to have a fan that even had a question in their mind about where we stood on it. I guess I looked back on our career and Rise Against had never made a definitive statement.”
The definitive statement Rise Against makes on Endgame is that the band is open to any sexual preference. “It’s something that we certainly don’t judge,” McIlrath says. “I felt there needed to be a song, which came from our world, because I feel that the rock world stays pretty silent. I wanted to put water where the fire was. I wanted to do a song that, first, lets fans know that we don’t tolerate bigotry in our audience and, second, empower fans who are coming to grips with their own sexuality, empower them to be proud of who they are and that we accept them, and create a community that accepts them.”
Endgame also features “Architect,” a song inspired by the forefathers and historical figures of civil rights and activism, including Thoreau, Malcolm X and Howard Zinn.
“They were designing a world in which we would be able to live in,” McIlrath says. “They fought for the design of everything that we can enjoy as Americans and people in the world today. The song is posing the question: Is our generation producing those architects now? It’s wondering if our generation is so overcome with cynicism and apathy that we are in danger of not creating these architects. Every right that we enjoy as Americans, somebody was out there with a picket sign to get it.”
And McIlrath sees Endgame’s “Survivor Guilt” as a sequel to “Hero of War,” which appeared on Appeal to Reason, hailing from the perspective of a ghost of a soldier who fought for his or her country.
But it’s important to note that the spectrum of material presented on Endgame is counterbalanced with a number of personal subjects, including the song “This Is Letting Go” which is based around a story McIlrath had penned.
“The songs to me are a selection of who we are as people,” says McIlrath. “We’re not 100 percent political or 100 percent personal. We’re people with many different cares and passions. Many different things make up our daily lives. I don’t consider myself any more political than those out there who care about the world they live in.”
And as for the pressure in following up its string of successes—which now includes three gold-awarded albums and gold singles—McIlrath says it’s all internally generated.
“The pressure that we feel is the pressure that we put on ourselves,” he says. “We try to step up our game on each record and create something that’s relevant, new and fresh, and is still Rise Against. I want to give my perspective, and from the punk community, take in what’s happening, interpret that and put it into a song, letting the world know how we feel about it. That’s the goal behind a lot of the music.”
Simply put, they don't make musicians like Chuck Ragan anymore. For nearly two decades Ragan has traversed the country and the world-first with his celebrated punk act Hot Water Music and
later as a solo troubadour-to bring his music to the masses. Correspondingly Ragan's third solo album Covering Ground is as much of a love letter to his transient lifestyle as it as a
concession to the loved ones he often has to leave behind and is also undeniably his most honest and accomplished album to date.
Featuring longtime collaborator/fiddle player Jon Gaunt and bassist Joe Ginsberg in addition to guest appearances from the Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon, Blind Melon's Chris Thorn, Squirrel Nut Zippers' Chris Phillips, Frank Turner and Audra Mae, Covering Ground is the sonic equivalent to Jack Kerouac's On The Road and could only be created by someone who requires a release like this in order to stay sane. "The majority of these songs were written on the road," Ragan explains. "We've been running hard and burning the candle at both ends for the past few years which has been amazing in many ways, but you end up making a massive amount of sacrifices to sustain that type of lifestyle."
This duality lies at the core of Covering and when Ragan sings about "ten cylinders that fire and a woman at the end of the road" on the driving acoustic song "Wish On The Moon," it's dripping with so much authenticity that it's hard not to imagine yourself behind the wheel alongside Ragan. "Writing has always been a form of therapy for me and something that I feel like I need to do rather than something I'm supposed to do," Ragan responds when asked where the fire behind this songs originated. "Since I've started doing the solo thing in 2005 I've been consistently writing and I'm not worried about whether I finish a song, I just want to get this down to unburden my soul."
Musically Covering Ground sees Ragan peeling back the layers of his songwriting style and allowing the talented cast of musicians to fill out the arrangements with their own voices. "I really wanted to do a record that was going to transfer seamlessly into the live setting since we all spend so much time on the road," Ragan explains. "I wanted this album to have more of a stripped-down and organic approach than [2009's] Gold Country." Correspondingly Gaunt's fiddle effortlessly weaves melody lines over Ragan's workman like acoustic guitar playing while peers like Fallon and Turner's guest vocals help add layers of depth to songs like "Nothing Left To Prove" and "Wish On The Moon."
Despite the fact that Ragan is working with instrumentation that has existed for hundreds of years, Covering Ground is also a remarkably diverse-sounding album and showcases the range Ragan is now able to attain with his whiskey-soaked pipes. In fact from the impassioned hymns such as "Meet You In The Middle" to gospel-inflected numbers like "Right As Rain" and instantly recognizable tunes like "Nothing Left To Prove," all of which prove how much Ragan's arrangements have grown since his first two releases. "Making this music is our passion but at the same time it's our livelihood," Ragan says. "It's easy to get jaded on the road; the struggle is trying to find that balance between work and passion."
Speaking of the road, since Gold Country Ragan has toured with everyone from Social Distortion to the Gaslight Anthem in addition to his own headlining shows and his appearances on the Revival Tour, a traveling road show that he started in 2008. "The tours we've done over the past few years have been incredible because we've played for a wide range of folks who wouldn't normally have any idea that we're around and that's a huge opportunity," Ragan explains. "I feel like if people spend their time, money and energy to give us the time of day then we're going to give them everything we've got every night."
That spirit of giving it his all is what separates Ragan from other songwriters and is also what makes Covering Ground such a timeless album that follows in the tradition of folk pioneers like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. "I used to build houses with a good friend of mine and even though I'm doing this now the parallels in our lives are still identical," Ragan muses. "One thing he said with me that really stuck was that we have two choices in life: you either roll with the punches or lie down-and only one of those is a choice for people like us," he summarizes. "Being a musician is a lot easier that some of the other jobs I've had, but I've still made the choice to work hard and keep going and that's a rule I live by every single day."
Seattle WA | Alternative
Seattle musician Rocky Votolato is a soft-spoken, very kind, very hard-working father of two, born in rural Texas and raised in the Pacific Northwest indie scene (where he fronted the acclaimed rock band Waxwing). In his decade-plus life as a songwriter and musician he has sought to articulate something essential about life, writing songs that seem to have been scratched into a boxcar wall by a worn-out and lonesome ghost. His gravelly, sandpaper smooth voice and introspective lyrics mark him as that most rare of punk-rocker-turned-acoustic-troubadours: Votolato writes graceful, understated, human, unpretentious songs, demonstrating that simplicity is still a viable option for accomplished songwriters.
His last two releases, Makers (2006, Barsuk) and The Brag & Cuss (2007, Barsuk), found him exploring and paying homage to the folk and country music that shaped his early life in Texas (Alternative Press described the former as “the disc Ryan Adams keeps threatening to make but never quite delivers,” and Harp praised his “harmonies that would make Gram and Emmylou proud” on the latter). True Devotion, his new album, is a passionate, stripped down, and mostly acoustic reflection on moments from his current life; showing us where he is, where he has just come from, and where he’s going.
Where he’s going has to be better than where he’s coming from: In the years following the release of The Brag & Cuss, Votolato’s private lifelong battle with depression and anxiety started showing up in ways he could no longer hide from or disguise. Unable to write music or keep up the busy touring schedule that he’s been known for, he cut himself off from almost all outside contact (at one point barely leaving his apartment for over a year). Spending his time reading, studying existential philosophy, history, physics, and theology, he gradually overcame his demons. He began writing again, and through the making of the new album (recorded almost entirely on his own, and then mixed with the help of longtime production collaborator Casey Foubert [Sufjan Stevens, David Bazan] and old friend John Goodmanson [The Blood Brothers, Sleater-Kinney]) found some long sought-after understanding and peace of mind.
Jenny Owen Youngs
Brooklyn NY | Singer-Songwriter
Jenny Owen Youngs, singer/songwriter and natural history enthusiast, returns with her third studio album, AN UNWAVERING BAND OF LIGHT. Produced by longtime collaborator Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson, Jukebox the Ghost), the record finds Jenny knee-deep in crunchy rock guitars, whispery string quartets, and a mixed bag of bizarre-o percussion... in other words, precisely where she wants to be.
“I wanted to explore new territory, mess around with tones and textures that Dan and I hadn’t really dug into before,” she explains. “When we started working on this album, I was obsessed with Tom Waits’s Swordfishtrombones and Dan was wrapped up in Harry Belafonte’s Calypso.” These influences are echoed in the loose, bouncy electric guitar lines and layers of woodblocks, oil drums, and varied percussion that can be found weaving through many of the album’s songs, most notably “Love For Long” and “Your Apartment.”