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Exclusive Q and A: Black Veil Brides Talk Composing, Collaborating, And Classical Music

With their latest release Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones, Black Veil Brides take on the toughest of all rock challenges: the concept album. Sweeping in scope, the band’s new album tells the story of a despotic government that aims to destroy science and creativity while turning the youth into drones. Concept albums are notoriously hard to pull off, but the band’s already epic sound seems tailor-made for such an endeavor. We caught up with frontman Andy Biersack to chat about the process of making the album, the accompanying film Legion of the Black, and whether a stage version of the record may be in the future.

OS: The story behind the album is really compelling. Does it also reflect your view of the current state of the world as well as the story of the band?

Andy Biersack: I don’t necessarily think that the current state of the world is indicative of the story that I wrote, but it’s obvious that it wouldn’t be that hard to make the leap. It’s not a politically-charged record “ it’s not meant to be a parallel for exactly what’s going on in politics or religion or anything else. It’s more meant to be a parable for our own lives and taking the characters that have been negative forces in your life and applying more power to them i.e. making them into these political/religious forces. But it wasn’t written as any kind of social commentary, really. (more…)

New Releases: January 8, 2013

With New Year’s Day landing on a Tuesday this year, today is the first true release date of 2013, and the slew of excellent new albums across the board ensures that the new year is definitely starting off on the right foot. Need a musical infusion to pick you up after the post-holiday let down? Check these out.

Twenty | One | PilotsVessel

Combining hip-hop, synthpop, modern rock, and a heaping dose of adolescent anxiety, Columbus Ohio’s Twenty | One | Pilots have happened upon a golden, and distinctly 21st century, sonic formula. Their new album, Vessel, features the mega-catchy single “Holding On To You.” If you have any doubt that 2013 will be their year, watch and learn. (more…)

Coheed & Cambria Stream ‘The Afterman: Ascension’ In Full

It’s been a long wait, but Coheed & Cambria‘s first installment of The Afterman is officially out, and to celebrate, Rolling Stone is streaming the album on their website.

Packed with heavy riffs, thunderous drums and plenty of ominous overtones, the first of the two-part concept album has listeners giving high praise and rave reviews. Although we won’t know how the second album stacks up for another few months, you can head over to Rolling Stone right now and judge The Afterman: Ascension for yourself.

 

If you like Coheed & Cambria check out OurStage artist Against Atlas.

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Coheed And Cambria Announce Staggered Release Dates Of New Double Album

Epic sci-fi prog-rock concept masters, Coheed & Cambria are at it again with their new installment of The Amory Wars. Claudio Sanchez and company have announced on their website that their forthcoming release will be a 2-part album with staggered release dates. According to TheAudioPerv.com, “The first volume, The Afterman: Ascension, will be available on both physical and digital platforms October 9, 2012 via Hundred Handed/Everything Evil, and distributed through Fontana/Ingrooves. The second volume, The Afterman: Descension is slated for release in February 2013.” You can watch an HD teaser trailer for the albums below.

 

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Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Getting Thicker Than a Brick With Ian Anderson

It’s 1972. The Godfather is inaugurating America’s obsession with the inner lives of Mafiosi. Hunter S. Thompson chronicles the dreams of the ’60s turning sour in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, over in England, Ian Anderson and his chums in Jethro Tull are cementing their status as prog-rock legends by following the previous year’s Aqualung album with the conceptual meisterwerk that is Thick As A Brick. According to Anderson, who is currently preparing for a multi-tiered celebration of the latter milestone’s fortieth birthday, TAAB was actually conceived mostly as a satirical response to the media’s rampant misinterpretations of Aqualung as a concept album. “I thought it would be fun to do a concept album that was such a huge step into the improbable,” says Anderson, “a slightly surreal and satirical look at concept albums, so that’s what I did.”

Prog rock was in full flower at the time”1971 had seen the release of such watershed albums as Yes‘s Fragile and Genesis‘s Nursery Cryme”but Anderson was never one to remove his tongue entirely from his cheek. “Yes or early Genesis or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, I suppose those would be the classic examples of our peers who, in a way, I was gently lampooning,” he says of his concept-rock satire, “But it was just a fashionable period of time for concept albums. By ’72 I think quite a few people were at it, doing that kind of grand-scale work, and I just thought I’d try to take it a step further.” Of course, Thick As A Brick represented much more than just the Spinal Tap of its day”containing one continuous, album-length piece of music, the record is a full-fledged song suite, full of fascinating changes in mood, mode, tempo and time signature, with an evocative and coherent lyrical narrative running throughout. “Like anything that has some parody or satire, it also has an element of seriousness that lies behind it,” Anderson agrees, “I think that’s one of the important things you try to do if you’re a writer or a composer, you try to give it some other layers of meaning than the obvious one.”

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Exclusive Q&A: Saves The Day Find New Hope in 'Daybreak'

Leave it to pop punk godfathers Saves The Day to prove that concept albums are not just the province of sci-fi obsessed prog rock bands. Having endured numerous changes in membership and label relations over the years, the band has retained only one consistent member in frontman Chris Conley. Compared to the vicissitudes of Saves The Day’s career so far, the challenge of writing a three-part series of concept albums seems like a welcome one. Daybreak, the final album in the three-part saga that also includes Sound The Alarm and Under The Boards was released last week on Razor & Tie. We recently caught up with Conley to talk about his love of Bowie, his opinion of the group’s earliest material and what it’s like to be a huge influence on an entire generation of young bands.

OS: Daybreak is going to complete Saves The Day’s three-album-long concept arc. What’s your favorite concept album by another band?

CC: My favorite concept album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie. It’s a weird album with a weird concept featuring killer songs and bizarre production. I love the compositions and I love his voice. Arun and I listened to Ziggy on repeat while working on the demos for Daybreak.

Photo Courtesy Razor & Tie

OS: You’ve already collaborated with Say Anything’s Max Bemis on your Two Tongues project. Who’s another artist that you’d like to collaborate with?

CC: I’d love to work with Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate. I was thoroughly obsessed with Sunny Day in high school and beyond, and I love his voice and his writing style. I’m pretty sure his singing is one of the reasons I sing in such a high register, and I think we could make some funky music together.

OS: I recently read a great magazine piece about you and your daughter. How has being a father affected your lyrics and the themes you choose to write about?

CC: Well, being a father was one of the main reasons I embarked on a mission to bring my heart back to life through the writing of the trilogy. I didn’t want to be an angry dad. I didn’t want to raise my daughter to be cynical and disconnected from society. So I reached down into my heart and brought myself out of a nasty funk in order to be a better example for her and for my family. I needed to come back to the world and meet it with a caring and compassionate heart, as opposed to feeling alienated and angry.

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Q&A With Silverstein

In a scene where the “next big thing” seems to be different every day, Silverstein is one of the few bands able to maintain their place among the best in the post-hardcore genre. It’s not hard to see why, either, as they’ve worked tirelessly for a decade, writing, recording and touring non-stop. They’ve released four LPs, two EPs, a live DVD and individual tracks for successful compilations like Punk Goes Acoustic 2 and Punk Goes Pop 2, and toured all over the world, including runs with the Vans Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos and Australia’s Soundwave Festival.

Today, Silverstein releases their brand new EP, Transitions, a collection of B-sides and previously unreleased tracks. The band will be putting out their eagerly-anticipated fifth album in 2011, after touring through their home country of Canada, the US and Australia. We had the pleasure of catching up with vocalist Shane Told to hear his thoughts on today’s modern rock scene, the story behind the new album and what to expect on the next big tour.

OS: You’re currently out on a Canadian tour with The Devil Wears Prada. How have the shows been so far?

ST: They’ve been awesome! We’ve been across the country now and we’re on our way back east. It’s been really good. We’ve known The Devil Wears Prada ever since they were just a local band in Ohio and watched them grow and watched their popularity really skyrocket, so it’s kind of cool now to be doing like a co-headlining tour together and sharing everything and splitting everything 50/50. It’s a cool thing to see a band go from being basically high school kids to a real, legit, serious band. The shows have been awesome, the only thing that’s sucked is the drives! The drives are the worst. We had to drive one time 30 hours straight, in the middle of nowhere where there’s no cell phone service or anything…we ended up buying Monopoly. The only one they had was Disney Monopoly so we ended up playing Disney Monopoly for as long as we could to kill some time on the bus while we were driving (laughs).

OS: You have a brand new EP called Transitions, which includes two tracks from your upcoming album. What made you decide to release these songs in advance?

ST: We kind of wanted to do something to hold our fans over until the record came out. Not only that, but we also just had a lot of songs this time around. We went in the studio and we recorded…I think we were going to record seventeen and we actually decided”I haven’t told anybody about this yet! We had a little extra time in the studio when we recorded the drums and we recorded in a really nice studio and wanted to use all the studio time. So, what we did is, we tried to write a song in one hour. We did it, we filmed it. We haven’t finished tracking all the parts but we wrote it and we recorded all the drums for it. We had a lot of extra stuff so we put this EP together. I’ve always been a fan of EPs, I think it’s because I have the worst attention span. With so many records, I love the first six songs…and then with albums, I’ll be like, “I love that album,” but I won’t even know what track 11 sounds like. I always thought it would be better if a band, instead of putting out a full-length album every two years, they put out an EP every year (laughs). I always liked that more. So we decided to put out an EP because we like EPs, and we had the extra stuff to give our fans a little treat before the holidays.

OS: You’ve said that the new record will not be a concept album, like 2009’s A Shipwreck in the Sand. Can you tell us a bit about the lyrical themes of the new material?

ST: It’s kind of broad to say it, but it really is just about my life. Everything I’ve gone through over the last ten years of being in this band and going through the relationships I’ve gone through and doing what I’ve had to do…the ride that it’s been. I was on stage and we played a new song from the EP, it’s an acoustic song…and I just said like, “This song is about my life.” And it is. This record is way more personal than A Shipwreck in the Sand. It’s way more through my eyes and things that I’ve seen, rather than through a character’s eyes, that I sort of created. It’s a lot different. I loved writing Shipwreck, it was challenging and fun and I’m really proud of it, but with this record, I didn’t want to do that again. I wanted to get some things of my chest and explore a lot of different themes, not just one. I’m sure down the road, we’ll do another concept album…but this time around, I just didn’t want to force it.

OS: Musically, how would you describe the new album?

ST: It’s pretty heavy, I think. There’s a lot of screaming on this record, but at the same time, we really tried to make the choruses pop and make it catchy, as well. There’s quite a few technical parts, parts that aren’t exactly the easiest to play on guitar and drums and stuff. I think we dug deep and really tried to do some things that would challenge us as a band, but at the same time, we still wanted to write good songs and didn’t want to make extraneously long parts that didn’t go anywhere. The songs are relatively short and to the point. It’s sort of more like The Blue Album than it is Pinkerton, in a way. It’s the Blue Album, not The Green Album…if you like my Weezer analogy!

OS: Having been a band for ten years, and with a steady stream of new bands constantly emerging in your genre, do you ever find yourself pressured to stay relevant?

ST: Yeah. I actually had a really great conversation with a guy on the tour in a band called For Today about that. We were just talking about all these bands coming out now that are basically playing to backing tracks. It’s something I’ve never really encountered. We’ve been a band for ten years and I think the only band we ever encountered that had backing tracks that we played with was like, Avril Lavigne’s. It’s just weird to have bands in hardcore doing that. It really sucks because obviously if you play your CD live, it’s going to sound better than having to mic all the instruments and playing them live. So then kids go and see a band and they’re like, “oh, this band sounds awesome!” Well, they sound awesome because it’s not real. That kind of stuff is upsetting. We’ll never play to a backing track, just because of where we come from. Nowadays, I think part of it might be because of the technology that’s in studios now…bands record and it’s not real, either. Bands will record entire songs on guitar, literally recording one note at a time and then placing it all together. When you do that, that comes off in the studio and you start doing stuff like that live, just to try to get a step ahead of the next band. We don’t let it phase us. We don’t want to play to backing tracks, we just want to be real and play the best we can and have fun and write the best songs we can. We’re not trying to be the heaviest band out there or try to out-do anybody. That’s, I think, the whole problem with this genre now. These bands are coming out and they’re tuning lower and lower and trying to be heavier than the next guy and have the “sicker breakdown” or whatever, and to me, that’s just tiring. We just want to write the best songs we can and have a good time. It’s a bit disheartening to me that things have gotten this way now.

OS: In January, you’re hitting the road with Pierce the Veil, Miss May I, The Chariot and Bullet for a Pretty Boy. What can fans expect from this tour?

ST: A lot of great bands, a bit of a diverse lineup. Pierce the Veil is a great band. We’ve been friends and fans of them for a long time so we’re really happy to have them. Miss May I is a younger band that’s blowing up right now, kids are loving them. The Chariot is a super heavy band that we’ve also been big fans of for a long time, so it’s a bit all over the place with the lineup, but I kind of like that. With my influences, they span everything from folk music to death metal, so I love it. I think it’s going to be a really good bill and I think if kids get there early and watch the whole show, there’s going to be something for everybody. It’ll open up people’s minds a little bit to some new music! It’s also good that we’re playing a lot of the smaller cities, they call the “B-Markets”, so it will be cool to bring really great lineups to those smaller cities that might not get a lot of shows. We’re really happy about that. We’ll be touring in the major markets a little bit later in the year and we’re stoked about that too. There will be more details about the tour we’re going to be on later, I think pretty shortly.

OS: In February, you’ll be playing at Soundwave Festival in Australia for the second time. What are you most looking forward to this time around?

ST: Well, Australia’s the best! It’s incredible. We did it two years ago and the lineup was just insane. Our stage, which wasn’t even the main stage, had some of my favorite bands. It was like, Alkaline Trio and Saves the Day and Rival Schools and Face to Face, the list goes on and on. That was just our stage, not to mention Nine Inch Nails was the headliner. It was the coolest thing. I think the only reason they can pull that off is because bands love going to Australia so much. It’s such a beautiful place, so bands are like “Yeah, sure, just fly us over, we’ll go!”  The people are awesome, they have great food, the weather’s awesome, it’s really just a beautiful, clean country. I think that’s why they can put together such a great lineup for Soundwave every single year. I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world they can pull that off. We’re really excited for that and hanging out with some really great friends of ours, too, on that tour. We’re really looking forward to it!

Be sure to pick up Silverstein’s new EP, Transitions, on iTunes now, and don’t miss Silverstein on tour this winter. Check out the tour stops below!

December 8, 2010 – Saskatoon, SK @ Louis Pub
December 9, 2010 – Fargo, ND @ The Venue
December 10, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI @ Rave
December 11, 2010 – Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
January 7, 2011 – Clifton Park, NY @ Northern Lights
January 8, 2011 – Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
January 9, 2011 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
January 11, 2011 – Toledo, OH @ Headliners
January 12, 2011 – Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre
January 13, 2011 – Palatine, IL @ Durty Nellie’s
January 14, 2011 – Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose Tap House
January 15, 2011 – Springfield, MO @ Remmingtons Downtown
January 16, 2011 – Tulsa, OK @ The Marquee Theatre
January 18, 2011 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
January 19, 2011 – Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
January 20, 2011 – Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Cafe
January 21, 2011 – Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
January 22, 2011 – Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
January 23, 2011 – Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory
January 25, 2011 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
January 26, 2011 – Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club
January 27, 2011 – St. Louis, MO @ Pops Nite Club
January 28, 2011 – Lansing, MI @ The Loft
January 29, 2011 – Buffalo, NY @ Xtreme Wheelz

January 30, 2011 – Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
February 26, 2011 – Brisbane, AU @ Soundwave Festival
February 27, 2011 – Sydney, AU @ Soundwave Festival
March 4, 2011 – Melbourne, AU @ Soundwave Festival
March 5, 2011 – Adelaide, AU @ Soundwave Festival
March 7, 2011 – Perth, AU @ Soundwave Festival