While former vocalist Danny Worsnop gets his shit together running around the streets of LA looking more or less like a lost and deranged homeless man, as online sources and IG accounts have claimed, his former bandmates in Asking Alexandria push forward with their newest vocalist Denis Stoff. Today, via Sumerian Records‘ YouTube account, the five piece dropped their latest video for “The Black” off of their upcoming record of the same name.
A big part of being “in and of the scene” is being invested in local music. In this interview with Zoúme, the budding New York City band take HXC Magazine on a tour of their favorite spots. From big name venues like Irving Plaza and Webster Hall to world famous punk landmark Trash & Vaudeville, we shed some light on who three of the five Zoúme members actually are. Find out which of these guys showed up to a concert in a full suit, which one wouldn’t mind being on tour with the Jonas Brothers, and which one only started eating bagels last week. (P.S. – Along the way we also run into members of other NYC bands like Sylar and Perspectives! So make sure you watch the full video.)
A very wise man once said, “I spent my high school career spit on and shoved to agree/so I could watch all my heroes sell a car on T.V.”
For almost 10 years these words sung by Gerard Way in My Chemical Romance‘s 2006 track “Disenchanted” have rung in my ears. At first I thought I was so attracted to these lyrics because they were the words of my hero telling me how life gets disappointing as you grow up. It’s emo, and a fact we hear constantly as we get older, but I took it to be more of a thematic message, rather than a literal one. Who knew that by 2013 I’d watch my hero allow my favorite band to break up in order to actually sell his own botched image of David Bowie-meets-David Byrne not only on T.V., but on billboards and bus stop benches like some forgettable basketball player on a box of Wheaties. To me, Gerard Way, like so many artists before and after him, had sold out. And now, in a post-My Chem world, I am forced to sit back and watch the rest of my musical heroes follow suit.
When it comes to selling out one must ask two things: First, what exactly is selling out? And second, who actually does sell out?
Selling out is a common idiomatic pejorative expression for the compromising of a person’s integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money. —Wikipedia
Selling Out: To compromise one’s values and/or aristic [sic] vision in order to gain fame and/or monetary profit. Commonplace in today’s musical society. It is rare to find a successful musical artist who has not “sold out”, however, this is not to say that they do not exist. —-Urban Dictionary
Sell Out: To betray one’s cause or associates especially for personal gain—Merriam-Webster
As many of you may have heard, it was recently announced that the deathcore-turned-alternative-rock band, Bring Me The Horizon has left the independent punk label Epitaph and signed to Columbia Records, a major corporation of a music label. By the definitions above–having altered their sound to reach a wider audience and appeal more to the levels of rock being released today while leaving their small time, more avant garde sound in order to do so– BMTH have seemingly sold out.
With the release of their upcoming record’s first single “Happy Song,” fans can see that the transition from deathcore found on staples such as Suicide Season and There Is A Hell… is no longer rooted in the same artful direction as their clean vocal heavy Sempiternal. It is now almost exclusively pop rock with an accented aggression on several musical notes. Gone are the days of frontman Oli Sykes screaming “Crucify me!” and in place are those of him melodically encouraging us to “sing a happy song,” because sometimes rainbows and butterflies make your day much better than well thought out religious imagery used ironically in songwriting.
Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased. However, the proof is in the pudding. With the release of (what is technically considered) the first purchasable single off of the upcoming record, old school fans were even more blasted by the change of BMTH’s direction with”Throne.” Though it upholds strong connotations image-wise to their deathcore days, it is almost a direct rip off of mid-2000s Linkin Park. With accented screams, electronica highlights, and catchy, melodic vocals, metalcore fans were left in the dark and feeling almost betrayed by BMTH.
Sure, many bands “evolve” or “mature” and change up their sound, but it seems as if the introduction of keyboardist Jordan Fish is what really did BMTH in. Though his efforts greatly helped bring BMTH out of their shell on 2013’s Sempiternal, his continued presence in the press when concerning this record is rather alarming. Rolling Stone labels him as the “keyboardist and primary songwriter” in their latest and only article ever concerned with BMTH, ineptly (yet maybe appropriately) titled “Ditching Metalcore.” As Fish upholds himself as the voice of BMTH after his work with the band for only one released full-length, it becomes worrisome. Oli Sykes has not been present for the majority of interviews since the release of “Happy Song.” So, is Jordan Fish taking over the band and corrupting it into a commercialized redundancy of old school alternative rock or is this actually Sykes agreeing to sell out and abandon all that he stood for previously?
But it’s not necessarily fair to blame Bring Me The Horizon for selling out. We cannot blame a band for going against all that they were when we, the public and music consumers, are the ones who potentially could have forced them into the environment that led them down this path. With a decline in record sales and the need for radio-publicity to spark interest in artists, major labels can expand the horizons (no pun intended) for a band confined to the minute exposure and monetary limitations of an independent label. This generation’s need to consume music for as cheap (or sometimes as free of cost) as possible is what is deteriorating musicians’ abilities to live through their work on smaller labels. But is it worth an artist’s musical integrity? Let’s look at some examples.
Exhibit A: Fall Out Boy.
For many, Fall Out Boy is the poster child of modern day “punk” or “alternative” selling out. But when exactly did they get flack? Somewhere in between the release of their chart topping full-length From Under The Cork Tree and the release of “Take Over, The Break’s Over,” a fun single off of their follow up Infinity On High where they call out all of their haters. People were angry at the guys in FOB for at the time signing to a label like Island Records (a sub-label of Universal Music Group). Though in retrospect, it is safe to say that while fans may have been disappointed with their signing to a major label and slight departure from their original underground sound, they still remained in the vein of the sonic aesthetic presented on the lesser known Take This To Your Grave. Even while boosting their careers on major labels, it wasn’t until their latest record American Beauty/American Psycho came out that they truly departed from all forms of rock or punk in favor of commercial pop. As of right now, it took them their entire musical career (and a four year hiatus) to actually sell out artistically.
Exhibit B: Breathe Carolina
Not really punk or hardcore, but still relevant. Breathe Carolina left their minor label in order to sign to *DING DING DING* Columbia Records, just like Bring Me did. Now, how did that work out? After one album, Hell Is What You Make It, the electro-duo had a top radio hit with “Blackout” and a self-proclaimed total loss of creative freedom. Eventually they would depart early from the label to return to a minor league with Fearless Records and even lose founding member Kyle Even. The sole remaining member, David Schmitt, luckily just decided to grab a backing band and continue on his own with the release of the highly successful record, in both the alternative and EDM scenes, Savages.
So what is it about Columbia Records that was so daunting? Why haven’t bands like PVRIS or A Day To Remember chosen to find major labels when their sounds are actually marketable to the mainstream? PVRIS purposely chose to sign to the metalcore label Rise Records, even though they are a pop-synth trio. A Day To Remember opted to self-release their latest record Common Courtesy rather than be tied to or bought out by any label, even though half of their careers they have gotten flack for “selling out” despite remaining decently in the underground. Why can All Time Low‘s hit singles and chart-topping records go platinum while they perpetually remain on Hopeless Records? There is an element to selling out rooted in the very base definitions above, but there is also a more personal element of selling out that rests on whether you compromise the artistic integrity of your music in order to gain a profit. Whether Bring Me The Horizon will entirely sell out is still yet to be determined, though unfortunately it seems that with “Throne” and “Happy Song” the band that I loved for being so harsh and out of the box will now be known to the general public alongside old Muse tracks and new Arctic Monkeys on top rock radio. But only time will tell.
Bring Me The Horizon‘s first new single since one-off “Drown” confused fans well enough. Coming from what used to be a deathcore band, “The Happy Song” began to spell alt rock doom for many. But everyone’s allowed a grace period. Maybe they just wanted to shock us.
And then Rolling Stone debuted BMTH’s music video for their following single, “Throne,” with the headline “Ditching Metalcore for Poppy, Positive New LP.” Obviously, a lot is wrong with that sentence. But the headline did get one thing right, at least, in the eyes of a lot of upset fans–the word “ditch.”
The UK band’s last monumental record, Sempiternal, was already a decisive change in genre for those who were used to the raw belligerence of records like 2008’s Suicide Season and 2010’s There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret. But Sempiternal still kept the music in the realm of metalcore, if not deathcore. New single “Throne” takes the softer vocals and electronic sounds of Sempiternal even further, causing a lot of old followers to shake their heads and walk away.
But what do you think? Is the split detrimental or just evolutionary? Could it be at all positive, or is it just downhill from here? Watch “Throne” below and judge for yourself.
A few weeks ago we gave you a list of 10 Things You Do Pre-Show, from freaking out over buying your ticket to rocketing through the ceiling like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin when you’ve had one too many energy drinks. But just as important as your pre-show rituals are your post-show ones. That’s what this list is for. Let us see if we can pinpoint exactly what goes down after you and your friends leave the venue.
1. Immediately begin repeating the phrase “That was fucking awesome.”
2. Head to the merch table and buy all the things.
3. Whether it’s those 99cent Iced Teas or some Gatorade, you get your hydration on like you’ve spent a week in the Sahara.
4. Make your way to the same IHOP, McDonalds or Denny’s you’ve been going to post-show for the last five years.
5. Run into people from the show you just came from at said IHOP, McDonalds or Denny’s.
6. Instagram, Instagram, Instagram.
7. Compare notes about the bands you saw.
8. Start obsessively researching that one opening band that was surprisingly awesome.
9. Fall in love with this new band and vow to see them next time they tour. You’re gonna be the reason they make it big.
10. Collapse. You’ve earned it.
Dear Capture The Crown, we’re glad you’re still alive.
But let’s start from the beginning. Alesana hit NYC’s Webster Hall on April 9th, almost a year to the day since the last time they played The Studio with Get Scared in 2014. Taking the larger Marlin Room upstairs this time with support from Capture The Crown, The Browning, Conquer Divide, and Revival Recordings mates The Funeral Portrait, the headliner’s cult status was never more obvious. Translation: Alesana don’t need space. No matter how many albums the sextet record, they will always be better suited to claustrophobic basement dens, partially because they’re such a niche band and because their live performance feeds off of the intimacy between artist and fan. Unfortunately, some indie folk band needed The Studio that night, so all the hardcore kids had to deal with awkwardly spacious mosh pits, which was essentially like popping a balloon with too much air.
Despite the yards of empty floor, openers The Funeral Portrait were able to get the crowd moving. In a peculiar but striking brand of showmanship, vocalist Lee Jennings fled the stage like he was wanted in four states before the last note could hold up a search warrant. But before making his hasty exit, Jennings hopped onto the floor to sing a chorus or two with the crowd and held “story time” with his “readers” on bended knee. While many bands in the scene like to put the audience on their knees to reinforce some sort of power dynamic (Asking Alexandria, BMTH, and *ahem* Capture The Crown), Jennings lowered himself alongside his audience to engage in the art of storytelling. We were all in on a fantasy, a secret, and I prefer that over bowing down to Your Royal Band-ness any day.
Conquer Divide came next, and while I’m thrilled about the idea of an all-girl post-hardcore band, the set fell flat. The songs were good enough, but the only two who had any semblance of stage presence were the unclean vocalist (Janel) and the drummer (Tamara). Here’s an example of a band that could afford to lord a little power over the crowd.
The Browning’s electronically infused metal was what really revved the fans into gear. Epic, danceable beats melded with As I Lay Dying-style vocals for killer, bouncy moshing–which isn’t as oxymoronic as it sounds. Maybe not everyone knew who The Browning were, but that didn’t stop them from partying and punching to each track. It was a set done with too soon.
Capture The Crown took the stage afterward. And if you think this is all happening a bit too quickly, you’re not wrong. Webster Hall was unnervingly punctual that night to a fault, imposing rapid set changes and even a 10pm curfew. The time restriction wasn’t the worst news of the night, however, as CTC bassist Maurice Morfaw announced that vocalist Jeffrey Wellfare wouldn’t be performing. In a dangerous turn of events, the band’s tour vehicle had put the members through some carbon monoxide poisoning, making vocal duties difficult for Wellfare (a name now slathered in irony). They brought on a friend to do replacement vocals; or rather, to pretend to do replacement vocals. The audio engineer essentially muted his mic and backtracked the vocals, which is disturbing on many levels for a live performance, but especially for a hardcore/metalcore show. After watching his band tank for two songs, Wellfare ran to the rescue and pushed past his initial coarseness to save the set. The old adage “the show must go on” held true, or how we at HXC like to phrase it, “STILL ALIVE!”
Finally, there are only so many ways to describe what it’s like to watch the frighteningly charismatic Alesana play live. The best way I can think to put it is this: When you watch Alesana live, you get the sense that you are watching modern day poets; artistry at its finest. They’re not just generic band dudes that win the crowd with ego. It is a much deeper, more transcendent experience than that. Like mad scientists in their laboratory, the band members laugh wide-eyed and maniacally, loving every minute of their intricately woven insanity. From creepy fan-favorite “The Murderer” to brand new “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen” to the reigning “Annabel”, Alesana filled the too-spacious room with passionate presence. Perhaps no one has ever hated curfew more. Until next year, boys. Same time same place? We’ll be there.