Hollywood Undead w/Falling In Reverse & American FangsPop/Rock
Los Angeles CA | Rock
The streets of Hollywood are paved with dreams.
Most of those dreams are broken, others are buried, and some are simply burned. On their new album, American Tragedy, Hollywood Undead dissect those very same dreams with a volatile and vibrant hip hop swagger, a magnificent metallic crunch, and a danceable industrial soul. At the heart of the band's second release for A&M/Octone, these six musicians—Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man, and Danny—rhyme and rock from sharply hilarious jabs about vacuous clubs to unbridled, poignant musings on losing faith and struggling with addiction. Due out April 5, 2011, American Tragedy peeks at the death of the American dream from the rooftop of the hottest party in the world. This second offering from Hollywood Undead is a sanctuary for the disillusioned masses that made the band a Gold-selling sensation. It's a middle finger to the safe, burdensome "norm." It's the future of heavy pop…
Hollywood Undead have been staring at that future from the moment they burst onto the scene with their breakout 2008 debut, Swan Songs. Since its release, Swan Songs has exceeded sales of 800,000 worldwide and is quickly approaching platinum status. The band embarked on a two-year world tour that saw them play countless sold out headline shows as well as prestigious festivals such as the UK's Download Festival. In addition, the album's leadoff single "Undead" received prominent placements in the trailer for Paramount's hit film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Madden NFL 2009. In 2009, the band released the Desperate Measures DVD/CD capturing their magnetic madness on stage. The collection also featured a few unreleased gems and covers. However, everything merely serves as a prelude to American Tragedy.
Hollywood Undead began constructing American Tragedy in early 2010. Collaborating with producers Don Gilmore, Griffin Boice, and S*A*M and Sluggo, the band tapped into a myriad of influences and styles, yielding music that's as diverse and dangerous. American Tragedy's first single, "Hear Me Now," is an anthemic catharsis of guitars and synths, colored by these six distinct voices. At the same time, "Been To Hell" creeps from an ominous bass line into full-blown aural assault and battery during a distorted refrain. "I Don't Wanna Die" is a funeral march for any and all enemies in Hollywood Undead's path. Meanwhile, "Comin' In Hot" could set any dance floor off with slickly sharp rhymes and "Levitate" floats into mainstream crossover territory on a soaring chorus.
For Hollywood Undead, American Tragedy was a natural progression from Swan Songs. About the band's sophomore album, J-Dog exclaims, "Similar to our first record, there's something for everybody. Some of the songs have bigger hooks, while others are a lot heavier. We wanted to expand our creative palette as a band and grow. We wrote the first album years ago. Mentally, we’re not in the same place we were then. We got better at what we do lyrically and musically. We wanted to experiment more and embrace new elements. It's heavier at points because we are a rock band, for the most part."
Johnny 3 Tears goes on, "American Tragedy is what Hollywood Undead is. We can incorporate anything into the landscape of our songs. There are no boundaries. Musically, I like songs that go against the grain. I want to create art that doesn't conform to the status quo. We choose to take everything a step beyond that."
"Hear Me Now" encapsulates that sentiment. Blending an arena rock stomp with rap attitude, the song's a venomous and vicious strike. All six members hunkered down in the same Hollywood rehearsal room to write "Hear Me Now" together, and it brandishes the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of all their personalities. On December 21, the band officially released "Hear Me Now" digitally, and within two short days, it hit number 2 on the iTunes rock chart. The song covers the current state of affairs, calling listeners to arms.
"Obviously, it's a struggling song," declares Johnny 3 Tears. "Everyone is going through a rough time, and the song is very appropriate for this day and age. We aimed to make something that you can sing along to, and the message gets delivered in between."
One song that examines hopelessness is the bludgeoning "Been to Hell." In between a wall of raging rhythms and angry rhymes, the band comments on failed purposes. "Growing up in Los Angeles, we've seen a lot of people come out here with grandiose ambitions and, 99.9 percent of the time, they don't do shit," continues J-Dog. "They end up partying, getting on drugs, and just going home. You've got to go through those hardships to actualize your dreams. The song's about getting off your ass and working towards a higher goal. I hope it actually inspires someone to follow through with what they say."
Hollywood Undead continue to work themselves to the bone. Every night on tour, they spill blood for packed venues of diehard fans all over the world, and they'll continue that tradition. There's no doubt that every track on American Tragedy will resonate with those fans too. J-Dog states, "People are having a hard time right now, and kids go through the same problems everywhere. I feel lucky that they come to our shows, and it’s their release for an hour." Songs like "Levitate" and "Street Dreams" show another side of Hollywood Undead. The band's sense of humor remains in tact, but they also brandish a pop prowess that's simply undeniable. About touting so many styles, Johnny 3 Tears exclaims, "I want fans to feel like they got their money's worth with a full album you can't categorize. This is a step up. We want to be a band that's special to kids. We want to signify what they feel. I'd love for them to have the same feeling I had when I listened to Korn or Nine Inch Nails as a kid."
That revolutionary spirit courses through American Tragedy, and the band place their hearts on the line for their music once again. J-Dog concludes, “As a band, we collectively put our blood, sweat, and soul into this. We couldn’t have done anything better than we did, and we love it. We are honest, and kids connect with that. They know we’re not bullshitting them. When you’re true to yourself, people connect with you." That connection to Hollywood Undead will only grow stronger with American Tragedy.
— (Rick Florino, January 2011)
Falling In Reverse
Las Vegas NV | Alternative
Falling In Reverse has managed the unthinkable. Already blessed with a Top 20 debut album, fervently passionate fans and positioned firmly atop the world of the Vans Warped Tour and the fast-moving social media landscape, Alternative Press magazine’s 2012 “Artist of the Year” could have rested on their victorious accomplishments — not the least of which is the cinematically gigantic redemption story surrounding the band’s vibrant lead singer and founder, Ronnie Radke.
But what have they chosen as an encore? Nothing less than to conquer the world.
After two years worth of touring, over 20 million YouTube views thanks to songs like “I’m Not a Vampire” and “Good Girls Bad Guys” (including one Revolver put in the Top 10 of the year), Falling In Reverse is going after the brass ring, the golden chalice, the hearts and minds of everyone with the unstoppable Fashionably Late.
The swagger of the hair-sprayed 1980’s Sunset Strip, the bravado of the most battle-hardened rhyme-slingers, the take-no-prisoners bottom end of the brutal tattooed metalcore crowd and the boundless ship-full-of-pirates revelry of underground parties and EDM have all beautifully converged in this one band and this new album. It’s for everyone on Instagram, on Twitter, or anyone with a brain and two ears.
“My dad raised me on metal, but my first serious love was hip-hop,” Ronnie explains. “When I heard Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, that’ when I fell in love. I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, the beats were intertwined, and it came inside of me and took me over. When we added hip-hop elements I was thinking, ’Should I do this? This sounds crazy! Are people going to like this?’ Now I’ve never been so proud of something. The final product, Fashionably Late, is the best work I’ve ever done.”
Falling In Reverse’s new music elicits vivid memories and visceral feelings that can only be summoned by warmly familiar elements from all that the best of the music world has offered before, while sounding impossibly fresh, like nothing ever released until now. Fashionably Late is exactly right on time, demonstratively declaring Falling In Reverse’s supreme understanding and mastery of modern times and poised for a breakthrough into the pop culture stratosphere. Falling In Reverse have hit upon a brilliantly contemporary zeitgeist, pouring their every artistic whim and fantasy into new songs born decisively from the iPod “shuffle” generation.
The album is postmillennial and classic at the same time – sort of like when Daniel Craig took over the tuxedo as James Bond. “People that didn’t know who I was before are going to be like, ’Who the hell is this?’ People that hate me are going to be like, ’Dammit!’” laughs Ronnie. “And all of our fans are going to love this album.”
Ronnie Radke’s vocal performance remains as brash, brazen, self-revelatory and combative as on The Drug in Me is You, the Falling In Reverse album that emerged after the singer’s well-publicized troubles with drugs, the law and his former band. Ronnie’s story saw him grace multiple magazine covers, nominated as “Hero of the Year” at the Kerrang! Awards (where the band won “Best International Newcomer” the year before) and named one of the 100 Greatest Living Rock Stars by Revolver.
His years of life experience and perspective are all over Fashionably Late, this time delivered in even faster rapid-fire succession and clever wordplay thanks to his full-blown embracing of the hip-hop styles he’s always fancied. Yes, Ronnie is rapping all over the new album. And there’s nothing “rap metal” or “rap-core” about it. It’s authentic, it’s credible and it’s on top of mind-melting catchy beats, all of which somehow works seamlessly with brutal breakdowns, throaty screams and the type of guitar shredding from Wunderkind Jackie Vincent that could make Eddie Van Halen blush. Radke and the English-born Vincent remain a dynamic duo in the style of Axl and Slash, of Mick and Keith, side-by-side as they embark on this awesomely ambitious creative adventure with rhythm guitarist Derek Jones, bassist Ron Ficarro and drummer Ryan Seaman, the lineup that gelled live over countless headlining tours and brief stints opening for the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Hollywood Undead.
The album kicks off with “Champion,” a firm reminder that Falling In Reverse has retained their mastery of metal. Taking cues from As I Lay Dying and Metallica as a foundation, with a hugely melodic chorus along the lines of ’80s hair-metal, plus a bridge that combines the rhyme style of Eminem with the music of Kanye West. The tongue-in-cheek “Bad Girls Club” is inspired by real events, turning the tables on the idea of guys as pickup artists and exposing the other side when girls sometimes prey upon dudes. “Rolling Stone” has another huge chorus and is another genre-hopping rollercoaster ride that ultimately sounds triumphant and shockingly engaging.
“Fashionably Late” is wrought with multiple meanings. On the one hand, the band has adopted more of a high-fashion look than when they first emerged. On the other hand, Radke feels like this is the type of song and album he should have made years ago, as far back as when he started writing after he made Dying is Your Latest Fashion as the frontman for Escape The Fate. “I get down to the science with words. Everything is always a play on words. I should have made this record before, but I went to prison for two years. Now it’s been another two years since the first album. I also like that Fashionably Late sounds timeless, iconic and absolutely modern.”
“Born to Lead” represents one of the many pinnacles of Falling In Reverse’s new sound, blending big radio beats with moshpit inducing riffage, all while addressing Ronnie’s critics head-on. “It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to say to all these Twitter followers that talk shit,” he says. “I wanted to shut-up everyone who says we can’t do metal. I wanted to let everyone that dedicates their lives to just one genre of music know why they are so unhappy. Some metalheads are really angry at other types of music. We stuck ’Alone’ in the middle of the record with one of the greatest solos and breakdowns, just balls to the wall with it, so all the metalheads can get into it.”
From there, the album dives headfirst into one of its most adventurous moments, hitting upon the pulse of the past few generations raised on video games new and old with incredibly deft precision. “Game Over” is fueled by classic arcade sounds, with Ronnie singing, “Life is like a video game.” “We’re all trying to collect our ’coins’ and impress the girl, or the ’princess,’ by saving her,” he explains of the analogy. “There’s a lot of obstacles that we face. And we’re all trying not to die!”
“It’s Over When it’s Over” offers one last kiss-off to Radke’s former band, tempering the vicious bite of earlier songs like “Tragic Magic” with a newfound peace and contentment, as well as a sense of pride in Ronnie’s accomplishments with Falling In Reverse. “I didn’t want to be rude or mean on this record. I’m over all of that. I’m just saying, you can’t tell me I didn’t rise above and surpass them. All of the trials I went through, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Now I’m doing better. That’s it.”
“Self-Destruct Personality” is a nod to the first Falling In Reverse record and Escape The Fate’s debut, diving back into the family history Ronnie has detailed before, with a twist. “Daddy told me not to bite my tongue/ I hate my mother because she left me with no love/ so I bottled it up/swept it under the rug.” It’s acknowledging the past, while moving toward the future. “I throw a curveball by busting some rhymes in the bridge,” Ronnie says, laughing. “I love that song a lot, it’s crazy. So crazy!”
The first song Ronnie wrote for the album was “Fuck the Rest.” The recording features a background “Hey!” from his friend and tour manager Josh Stern, who sadly passed away. “His voice is immortalized in it,” Ronnie says. “It’s a good song that plays on my old style, too, because we had to keep that feeling. I wanted to pay homage to Josh, who was a really good friend of mine, by having it on the record.”
Fashionably Late closes with the direct, to-the-point and appropriately-titled “Keep Holding On.” The first verse is about Ronnie’s own troubles, the second from the perspective of kids who are bullied. It’s a celebratory anthem aimed at empowering kids who are suffering from intimidation to feel better, to persevere, to conquer. Who could be a more credible spokesman for conquering adversity than Ronnie Radke, who has triumphed again and again in recent years with Falling In Reverse?
Not many get to climb the mountain once, let alone twice. His first band’s first album brought him notoriety in the underground; Radke’s comeback with Falling In Reverse blew down the doors. And now, together with his close friends in his band, Ronnie Radke is about to climb new heights of achievement for a third time, stepping right into the eye of the post-modern/pop-cultural hurricane with all of his angst, humor, confidence, self-examination, wide smile and rad hairstyle intact.
Houston TX | Rock
“In music, everybody wants to be part of something big,” explains American Fangs frontman
Gabe Cavazos. “But sometimes we zig when others zag. We stick out like a sore thumb. And
that’s ok. We create our own vibe.”
That vibe — loud guitars, big hooks, punk rock attitude — has already won American Fangs a fervent fanbase and a number of big-name (and wildly diverse) tours, ranging from Saul Williams to the Deftones to Chevelle. And it’s a vibe that’s more than apparent on the band’s debut album, American Fangs, the first release under rock promoter/manager Bill McGathy’s new record label In De Goot Recordings.
Typical or not, that’s a pretty strong start for any band, especially one hailing from the rather atypical music Mecca of … Houston.
“It’s not necessarily what people think of when they look for great music,” admits Cavazos. “But there’s a lot of talent here.”
At least enough talent to put together AF. “We all were in different groups, but we go together because we realized we all had the same idea of what we wanted a band to be,” says the singer. “And that’s grown into an amazing bond.”
That idea was American Fangs, a name that struck a strong visual tone and, as Cavazos puts it, exuded the right “who-gives-a-shit” attitude….something the band also brought to the stage. “There was a lot more anarchy early on,” Cavazos admits. “But it was exhausting, like musical whiplash. In the end, we’re a fan of songs. We want to share those, have people enjoy it, and not necessarily have anything else overshadow the music.”
One person who caught on early was Bill McGathy, a rock industry vet best known for his work with Shinedown, Neon Trees, 3 Doors Down and Grammy-Award winning Halestorm. “He saw us just as we started, and stuck by us from the get-go,” says Cavazos. “Finally, one day he just said, ’go record something. I wanna release this.”
To capture the band’s wild side on record, the band enlisted producer Mike Watts (As Tall as Lions, The Dear Hunter, Brand New). “Mike’s really cool,” says Cavazos. “He saw us at a showcase a long time back and he was the only person who came up and asked how we thought we sounded. He saw our potential, but he doesn’t spare us any feelings if we sound like shit. So when it came time to do this record, we were like ’we want that guy.”
The end result is an adrenalized blast of loud guitar rock, underlined with dynamic musicianship and emotional honesty. First single “Pomona,” named after “the goddess of fruitful abundance,” is a revved-up radio anthem full of “whoa whoa whoa” chants. Meanwhile, other standouts like “Riot Food” come off as cranked-up power pop, while “Apple of My Eye” recalls the best of 90s alt-rock.
But the band also shines during slower moments, like the ballad “Sorry” Says Cavazos: “That’s about the brief period of time when I was homeless as a kid. That song means a lot to me. Mike pushed me to dig deep on that one.”
With the record finished, the band is hitting the road with Hollywood Undead and Falling in Reverse, and converting a whole new audience. “I’m psyched: people will see we’ve got an energy when we play live,” Cavazos says. “There’s a rhythm there. You can tell we really believe in what we’re doing.”
Just don’t expect a typical rock’n’roll concert.
“That’s true, though even I’ve had to tone it down a bit,” says Cavazos, laughing. “I can’t always be in people’s faces or climbing stuff during every song. But it’s nice to go to a show and see people cut loose, see girls having a blast. It’s something that’s been missing from music for a while now.”