Growing up is never easy. Sometimes you feel like no one understands you and sometimes you might even feel like you are nobody at all. With the latest video from Stick To Your Guns, “Nobody,” the band capture the story of growing up feeling invisible because you might think you’re the outcast. It’s something everyone in this scene can easily relate to, which is why STYG also offer up going to shows and finding those people and the environment similar to how you think, feel and act as the perfect outlet to truly being and owning who you are. With metaphorical visuals carrying the story this video portrays, “Nobody” and its accompanying footage work cohesively as the youth anthem they were created to be. Check out the video here and let us know what you all think!
Industrial gothcore rockers, Motionless In White are known for their shocking, disturbing, and unsettling music videos. Constantly pushing the limits of your comfort zone, MIW typically focus on death, corruption, and overall unpleasantness with their visuals while keeping it all wrapped up nicely in a highly artistic and surprisingly tasteful bow. Their latest video for their second single off of Reincarnate, “Break The Cycle,” presents MIW in a more tamed light while still upholding their classic gothic aesthetic. Set in a candle-lit Victorian-era room, the band fade back and forth between playing their instruments to fighting their rather frightening-looking inner demons. The gore, the horror, and the eerie ambiance are all present, but masked in subtlety that makes them so much more alluring. Check out the video here and let us know what you think!
This week’s pick for MVW is the 5 minute visuals paired with Opheon‘s “The Distance.” Though theme-wise the video is fairly minimal–the basic images of the band playing live cut to footage of the vocalist singing on his own–it is the song that we are so impressed with. The British melodic hardcore rockers went from a very djent-oriented sound that has been regurgitated time and time again to something far more progressive, innovative, and new to the -core scene. With stylized breakdowns, actual melodies, and even a guitar solo (can you believe those still exist?), this track reaches a level of sophistication that warrants a minimal video and lets the music speak for itself. Don’t believe us? Then check it out and see for yourself, because when they drop their upcoming 2015 EP it’s destined to hit the top of your favorite playlists.
The internet is blowing up with “Breaking News: Danny Worsnop Leaves Asking Alexandria” headlines. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and various music media outlets are all reporting that yes, Mr. Worsnop has finally left Asking Alexandria, but the real question is “Is this actually breaking news?” The best answer to that would be no, it’s not. Ever since the third AA album, From Death to Destiny, dropped in 2013 there have been rumors of tension between Worsnop and the rest of AA. The golden friendship we saw between Worsnop and AA guitarist/founder Ben Bruce seemed clouded and the overall aesthetic of the third full-length felt forced and pulled in two different directions: AA’s signature electro-metalcore sound and the ode to ’80s hard rock that would eventually shape Worsnop’s “side project” We Are Harlot.
For anyone who has not read it, Worsnop left this note to his followers on Twitter to make his announcement:
“To all of my friends and fans: I would like to let you know that Asking Alexandria and I are moving forward in separate ways. Over the last eight years together we’ve done some amazing things and created something truly special. I now, same as then, want what’s best for the band and at this point in time, that isn’t me. Asking Alexandria will continue to tour throughout the year and will be working on a new album. I will always support and love Asking Alexandria and cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. I am excited for the next chapter of my life with We Are Harlot and will see you all on the road!”
As Worsnop forgoes continuing to work with AA, I have to ask why? Leaving a band he helped break into the scene, of which he became both a prominent face and a respected icon, is kind of like career suicide, especially if he is leaving to pursue something more in the hard rock sphere rather than the -core realm. Facebook comments are attributing this switch due to the damage Worsnop’s vocal chords have received over the years thanks to his relentless partying. Back when I was growing up and learning how to play drums, my drum teacher–for whom I have the most respect–pulled the whole “steer clear of drugs and alcohol” routine that all after school programs regurgitate to their pupils. He told me, “Don’t drink underage or passed your limit. If you do that, then you can’t be the drummer of Led Zeppelin.” Now, my teacher was referring to John Bonham who died due to over consumption of alcohol, but that always stuck with me. In Danny’s case, if he has left Asking Alexandria due to the damage drugs and alcohol inflicted, physically and perhaps interpersonally, then my drum teacher was right. All actions have consequences, even when you have made it to the top (of the scene). AA, however, accommodated Worsnop’s vocal change in From Death to Destiny showcasing in tracks like “The Death of Me” that their aesthetic could work with Worsnop’s new limitations, thus making his departure only two days after the announcement of We Are Harlot’s debut album more jarring.
Danny Worsnop with We Are Harlot in their latest release.
The two releases we have received from We Are Harlot, “Denial” and “Dancing On Nails,” have left me in a world of confusion. Whereas “Denial” sounds like Nikki Sixx got drunk, wrote a song at 3am, spilled a beer on his notes and then recorded what he had left before he went to sleep, “Dancing On Nails” is a little more digestible. The issue with these two ’80s throwbacks is that they feel like ’80s throwbacks…being played in a bar..in the East Village…by Steel Panther fans. There’s absolutely nothing in We Are Harlot at this point that I haven’t heard before. Hell, there is nothing in We Are Harlot that my parents haven’t heard before. It’s an overdone concept that bands like We Are Harlot, Black Veil Brides (and even Escape the Fate to a sense) are trying to unlock by bringing back old school rock. News Flash: Old school rock ‘n’ roll is decidedly dead by the old school rockers (*cough* Gene Simmons *cough*).
I am in no way agreeing with Simmons in saying that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. I personally believe it is very much alive, but it is alive because that old school sound no longer is. Today we have bands who are really pushing the boundaries of hardcore, metal, punk, thrash, etc. We have bands who are expanding the definition of rock ‘n’ roll; bands that are still edgy, innovative, outlandish, and of the times. As the post-hardcore scene paved the way from its earlier days with groups like Botch and Every Time I Die to what it is now with our beloved British rockers, Asking Alexandria, we consistently see progression in rock ‘n’ roll. Rock is only dead if we continue to fall back on our laurels and never risk taking it somewhere new.
Danny Worsnop circa 2009 with Asking Alexandria.
So, do I think Danny Worsnop is killing his career by forsaking Asking Alexandria? Yes. His voice is no longer what it once was, which is a true tragedy, and his creative outlook has now trailed off from that which made Stand Up and Scream one of the most innovative metalcore albums of its time. But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and I look forward to seeing where Ben Bruce and crew take Asking Alexandria in the near future.
Don’t agree with me? That’s cool. Let HXC know why in the comments below. We want to hear from you!
For All I Am stand front and center on the stage of the famous dingy basement known as The Studio @ Webster Hall in New York City. The post-hardcore group has fans lined up against the base of the stage waiting for the first pinch harmonic-filled riffs to come in. Vocalist Aria Yava breaks into a guttural growl and immediately there is newfound community, as kids who have seen the band a hundred times and kids who’ve never even heard of them head bang to the beat. Before long Yava is handing off the mic to various guest vocalists who are coming up on stage and roaring out each lyric with as much gusto as they can muster and admiration in their eyes as they look over at Yava. Together they share the stage, bouncing energy off one another for a few bars before the cameo-vocalists step aside. But they are not walking off stage back with the rest of the tour crew. These kids are walking back into the crowd as fans who just got the chance to sing alongside their favorite band and convince the crowd it was all meant to happen instead of being a spur of the moment occurrence. This happens several times throughout For All I Am’s set; Yava even brings local scene star Christopher Tito of Zoúme on stage with him for a verse. At this point even the club’s bartenders and bouncers are watching. Suddenly, the entire venue becomes the stage.
After the incredible live performance these Illinois natives brought to Manhattan, we needed to know more about For All I Am. So we hit up Aria Yava to chat about the band’s latest album, their experiences playing live, and of course, their incredible fans.
HXC: Congrats on your latest release, No Home. What was the inspiration behind such a bold album title?
Aria Yava: It’s not like a literal title, it’s a kind of an analogy for your mind. Your home is known as a comfort place. So “no home” actually means you don’t have comfort in your own skin.
Is that idea of “no home” where your mindset was when you went into that album?
It wasn’t just me, actually. It’s the whole band. We went through a couple things together personally where we did feel like that and that’s why we wrote that album together and for anyone who kind of feels that way. I know people go through rough times and have different phases through their lives. A lot of people I’ve talked to at shows actually feel like they don’t have a comfort of their own skin or even in their own homes, literally, because of their family or because of insecurities. So we wanted to write an album that relates to those kinds of people.
Do you think people can kind of find that “home” then at local shows?
I don’t know if shows are a home, but they’re definitely more of an escape from whatever they’re dealing with. When I go see my favorite bands I feel like I don’t have any problems. I just kind of forget about it for a little bit and just enjoy some good music. Sometimes that’s what people need just to keep moving forward.
Who would you say is your favorite band?
As of now it’s kind of hard to tell. I haven’t been going to a lot of shows since I’ve been on the road lately, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Define the Great Line by Underoath. My favorite artists, my whole life, have been Underoath, Paramore, Architects, those kind of bands, just like the raw bands that don’t use too much production with sounds that really rock.
Are these the kind of the bands that initially inspired you to pursue music?
Going to see Underoath for my first time really changed my perspective on music. That’s when I really wanted to play music and do the help-people-that-are-helping-me type thing. I kind of discovered the power of music and how it moves through people. It’s like a universal language; no matter what language you speak, you can still understand what music is.
We caught your New York show on the Mind Games Release Tour. You had fans getting up on stage with you to do guest vocals with you. It was crazy.
Yeah, I know. It’s like a regular thing. We don’t hold ourselves to any entitlement, to having the stage to ourselves. The show is for everyone there, for everyone to have a good time, us as artists, listeners and even the staff and the promoters. Everyone just wants to have a good experience, so we make sure that’s easily achievable.
Do you have any favorite venues?
I definitely like the Ground Floor in [Williamsport], Pennsylvania. Their hospitality is unreal and they have a built-in fan base which is really cool because all the fans check out all the bands that go through. They all give them a chance, which is awesome and that’s what every scene should kind of do. Everyone should be open minded and just enjoy the music.
“We don’t hold ourselves to any entitlement, to having the stage to ourselves.”
Do you prefer playing shows with barriers or ones without?
You know, unpopular statement: definitely both. They both have their own vibe and both have their own experience. Sometimes I do like stage diving and I do like when people grab the mic, but I also like when I can have the stage and I can lose myself in the music and in the performance aspect.
Do you have a favorite track to play live off of No Home?
I definitely like “Six Souls.” It’s really heavy and hard hitting, but the other song I like is “Out of Line” because it kind of relates to what I always go through all the time and it helps me cope with it. It’s also a really good, energetic song for the crowd to have a good time to. So, I think those two are my favorites for sure.
You said you really liked to play “Six Souls.” Is that why you wanted to do the video for that song?
Well actually management and the label chose the songs that we shot for, so it was up to them, but we were stoked on their decision and we fully agreed with them, too. There’s also more [videos] coming, so I’m going to be working on those soon.
Do you have any concepts for them yet?
Yeah, we’re running a lot of storyboards and coming up with more specific ideas. We want to go in more with the concept of the songs and the messages in them are going to be more symbolic with our band and kind of go a different route.
Would you say that’s something you prefer to do, something more theatrical than just the minimalistic club show vibe?
I believe so. There’s a lot of bands that are all kind of talking about the same thing lyrically, so we want to do what we do as a band and kind of go in specifically. I feel like more people relate when you kind of relate to them more closely because they’re dealing with something more specific. We kind of like make lyrics so people can take it with them and progress and move forward with what they’re doing rather than just say ‘Hey, we’re here for you.’ Realistically, we can’t be there for everyone all the time; it’s impossible. No one can do that, so we want to really lay it down with the music and help them take away something from it.
You can tell you really care about your fans.
Oh yeah, it’s definitely important. If you don’t pay attention to that you’re kind of leading a pointless career in my opinion.
So if you could sum up For All I Am in one word, what would it be?
Real. That would be the best way to put it. Nothing is fake. We don’t do anything for image. We don’t sell ourselves, we just kind of put everything out there genuinely and hope people take it as genuinely.
You don’t always have to be in a club or listening to Top 40 to turn up on a Tuesday. In celebration of the new year, we’re bringing you the ten tracks that got us pumped from beginning to end on our own New Year’s Eve. We enjoy everything from metalcore covers to German dubcore (yes, that’s a thing), so without further ado, relive the soundtrack of our night that got our 2015 started.
This interview was originally published through Taylor Markarian’s Grimm Rock Review and is re-published here via the author’s consent.
New bands pop up all the time. While that much is true, they don’t usually get the same kind of introduction The Funeral Portrait has received in the last year. Working closely with producer and Alesana vocalist/guitarist Shawn Milke at Revival Recordings, these five Atlanta rockers already boast quite the resume. The band’s new EP For The Dearly Departed debuted in the same week they wrapped up the Chaos Is A Ladder tour with Alesana, Megosh, and The Things They Carried. After taking a moment’s breath from the, shall we say chaos of touring, vocalist Lee Jennings gave GrimmRockReview an in-depth look into the EP, the band’s near father-son relationship with Milke, and what it means to revive the music industry. And Hodor. Can’t forget Hodor.
A lot has been happening for The Funeral Portrait recently. Let’s start with being signed to Revival Recordings. What was it like for you to have your record produced by Shawn from Alesana?
Oh my gosh, that was the weirdest thing of all time but the best thing. We were in a band before called Cosmoscope and I sent him our record and he loved it. Then about, I think it was seven months later, we finally got to really sit down and talk and figure it out. We went up to Raleigh, which is about six hours from us because we live in Atlanta, and we locked ourselves in the studio for about two weeks with him and the engineer, who’s phenomenal, and we hashed it all out.
Do you find that you have similar approaches to songwriting? Because there are definitely some ties between the way that an Alesana record is put together and the way that your EP is put together.
I would by far agree with that. That helped us a lot, because we did and we still do look up to them as songwriters and Shawn as producer, and we sent Shawn all the demos and the ideas for the songs beforehand and he sent us back some revised versions and it was just phenomenal. Just to see the little tune ups that he could do that helped us take the songs to the next level.
So it felt more like you were collaborating on it?
Yes, definitely. It definitely felt more like it was a big team; like he was the coach, and we were kind of his…
Alesana’s recent The Decade EP and Revival Recordings itself seem to be articulating the same thing— a need for greater artistry and musical innovation. How does it feel to be taken up underneath that wing? Do you think The Funeral Portrait fits that bill?
Oh, completely. When we recorded before we met Shawn, it was more like someone was just pressing record. They weren’t ever really producing us or helping us along the way, whereas with Shawn and everybody at Revival, they just love it so much. They love it as much as we do. Shawn always calls us “his kids.” That’s how much he loved us and how much he actually cared for the music. You don’t see that a lot nowadays. So many of these producers and labels, they sign these bands, and they say, “Here’s $10,000, go record a record.”
Right. Music has become more institutionalized, almost. I feel like listening to your EP and putting that in conjunction with Alesana’s work recently, it’s more of a “let’s see what we can do artistically” or “how far can we take this?” approach.
It’s become so cold. It’s become so robotic, even. Not just the music itself but the way that the industry has been working. I’ve heard of labels nowadays signing bands before they even see them live. That to me is just crazy. Because seeing a band live, that’s the passion, that’s the rawness, thats the real life. To us, that’s something we’re really, really strong about—about performing this live and about the passion. Shawn believes in that more than anything. It has to be real. Yeah, the record, you know, you can fake guitar tones, but the feelings have to be real, they have to be in your heart first.
I feel like that leads to a more earnest and a more dynamic product.
Completely. People who listen to the EP or to records, they can believe it more and they can relate to it more. Because if they actually know it’s from the heart then they can put their heart into that band.
Well let’s just go ahead and talk about the EP. It just came out September 23rd and it’s calledFor The Dearly Departed. What have the reactions been like to it so far?
It has been insane. This is our first EP. This is our first time on a label or with any help at all. Everything else that we’ve done prior to this, it was all DIY. We paid for everything ourselves and we had no help. It’s crazy to play a show [now]. We played a show in South Carolina at this place called Ground Zero on this past tour with Alesana (that we just got off of on Saturday) and there were kids there that already knew the words. That just blew me away. There were people out there who wanted to buy the EPs, who wanted to buy the shirts, wanting to talk with us. And they sang the words? That is more than anything we could ever ask for.
And it is just an EP. It’s six songs, but to have that kind of reaction speaks volumes.
A lot of people have even started asking, “Whens the full-length?” We’re just like, (out of breath) “Give us some time!!” We spent over a year working on these songs. Demoing them, to recording them, and now to releasing them—it’s pretty much been a year. So far we’ve seen so many positive reviews like, “BEST EP OF 2014” and stuff like that. We can’t even believe most of that stuff. When I’ll read a review or that you even wanted to talk with me about this I was like, “Are you sure?” It’s unbelievable.
(Laughs) Well, with this EP it definitely comes across that you’re trying to tell a story. You even reference the reader several times as a character, almost, within it. What story are you trying to tell?
A good bit of it is Juergie (Landstrom, Guitar/Vocals) and Stephen (Danzey, drums). We sit down together and write [the songs] that way.
So it’s more of a full-band effort versus one person writing?
Yeah, it comes together as a band. So kind of the small concept, what we like to keep it as, is actually the five stages of loss and grief. There’s depression and there’s acceptance and there’s bargaining, and all of those. Our first song is the incident, that’s what we like to call it even though it’s called “Casanova.” It’s the incident of when you lost the relationship, when it actually occurred.
I don’t think I’ve ever really heard that approach before.
We all wanted each [song] to talk about one emotion. Depression is very minor key, it’s very depressive. Acceptance, which is of course the last song, leaves you thinking things will be okay.
Also, within these six songs you blend a lot of different styles of rock, so many different genres together. Are there particular moments that you would use a particular style? So, “This part of the song gets a more theatrical quality versus strictly hardcore.” How do you figure that out?
When we were a band before, we didn’t actually have the heavier side. This kind of came across as we wanted it to be Jekyll and Hyde-ish, where I was the more upbeat singer, the clean singing, and then Juergie would be more the Hyde, the evil screaming inside my brain. It was more, “What would we be able to tell the story with?” (Sighs) This is so hard to explain. We just kind of do it. If we felt like the emotion really needed to be soft and sweet that could just be the vocals, but the drums and the guitar could be just chugging and we could be really heavy. But if the vocals were soft, it would still give off this feeling of being shy.
Even the artwork for the EP seems to be a visual representation of your band name.
We are a very, very visual band. We love to take it to the next level. I think a lot of bands forget that step or they want it to be more minimalist. We were all sitting around the table one night and threw around ideas. We sent it over to Shawn and about two days later he sent us something back and we were like “Oh my goodness, this is exactly what we wanted.” You can look at the album artwork and be like, “I understand these songs.”
So you just finished up the Chaos Is A Ladder tour. What was that like?
That was crazy for us. That was actually our first tour ever. We’ve played out of state before and we’ve played over, I would probably say, 220 shows as a band. We were only a band for two years before changing the name and changing the style, but [we kept] the same members. But we never really toured full-time and it was definitely a huge shock to us. We didn’t know that there would be kids in Orlando that are huge, huge fans of Revival that already looked us up and already knew the songs before the EP came out. They would find out where the stream was of the EP or who was premiering this song or where the lyric video was. There were kids all over the east coast that already knew songs. That blew us away. To even think that a band our size would have three kids each night come up to us and be like, “Hey, you guys are awesome. We love the EP so far.”
I guess doing a tour with Alesana and Megosh for your first tour isn’t a bad thing to do.
(Laughs) That’s what everybody kept saying! For us, we couldn’t have asked for a better tour. Hanging out with those guys every night and learning—we learned so much. That is even the biggest thing that I can take from it, is that we learned the right things. Like where to spend the money when we’re touring. When never to get a hotel. How to ask people for a place to stay, or whenever weird situations come about. What we gained more than anything off this tour is that when we go on our next tour, whenever that is, and it’s with bands we don’t know, we won’t stand out as much because we figured it out a little bit on this tour.
So it was really kind of a mentorship program (laughs).
No, really and truly, that’s exactly how it was.
Since the tour is called “Chaos Is A Ladder,” are you Game Of Thrones fans?
I am, I completely am, and I know Shawn is too. So when I found out that the tour was named that I flipped out. Because that scene, that little rant there at the end of that episode…I was just like, “This is the coolest thing ever.” Actually, Alesana every night, their intro was that little monologue to get people pumped up.
Did you feel like the tour was adequately represented by the sentiments in that monologue?
Yes, definitely. Because to be honest, what it felt like is Alesana is kind of handing down their position. They’re helping these smaller bands. Even Megosh. Even though they’ve toured with them three times, four times, they were small. I feel like [Alesana is] building a ladder, in a way. And it is a crazy one. Especially being on tour, it’s constant chaos.
I have to ask: Who is your favorite character on Game Of Thrones?
Of course, I’m a huge Peter Dinklage fan. There’s this YouTube video of someone singing “Peter Dinklage” over the whole entire intro. But to be honest, I think my favorite character is Hodor. Do you know why? It’s because he is the comedic relief so many times when you need that laugh. Someone’s head gets cut off and then—“Hodor.” You’re like, “Thank you. Thank you for not giving me nightmares all night.”
That’s kind of funny that that’s your favorite character, the one who provides comedic relief, since “The Funeral Portrait” isn’t the most comedic of names.
(Laughs) Exactly! That’s the thing too, is we are the biggest goofballs of all time. We’re a serious band, but we’re ridiculous.
What character do you think you would be if you were cast in Game of Thrones?
You know what, I’m going to go with my favorite character, Hodor, because I’m always the end of the joke. I’m always the last guy to get the joke.
How would you sum up your band in one word?
Exciting. We want it to be building. Here’s the dramatic entrance and here’s the soft, quiet exit. Live, we go crazy. Every night, we look at each other—“Hey, I’m gonna make sure the crowd watches me tonight.” Chris, our bass player, will push me out of the way on purpose so that way he can get in front of me. We like to make it an exciting show.
Click HERE to check out the full stream of For The Dearly Departed.