- Posted Tuesday, 22 April 2014 at 15:50 by Rock Sound
THE MEN OF VENN, chapter three, by Wade MacNeil
The most memorable shows I have ever played have blurred the lines between celebration and prison riot. You want to see how far you can push the chaotic energy of the room before you lose total control. This can be extremely beautiful and incredibly dangerous but, on the best days it is both.
Laurent, Stuart, and myself started Venn Records because we wanted to challenge ourselves creatively. When you become static, so does your music. Time had come for us to change everything. We self released our music and focused on breaking new ground by touring to places Gallows had never played before like Poland, Northern Canada, China, Hungary and Taiwan. Travelling to these countries led to some of the most memorable shows of our career.
During one of the first Venn Records tours, I was in Poznan, Poland and sat in the corner of the bar Pod Minoga, nursing vodka while learning Polish curse words for the upcoming show. I was approached by a kid who asked me a question: “If I buy 15 Gallows ski masks, will you give me a discount?” (We were selling ski masks like the ones on our album cover). “Yeah, sure but why do you need 15 ski masks?” I replied. "They are for my gang. We beat up Nazi’s.”
Deal, good luck with that I concluded.
Leaving Europe behind, Gallows began cutting our way across Canada. In the middle of the prairies we started our set while a very dazed girl walked continuously in a circle in front of the stage. She was 110 pounds soaking wet yet she was terrifying a room full of people. She had taken something and was on another planet.
The crowd anxiously watched her pace around the front of the stage as we played our first few songs. We ended song three with a crash and I addressed the situation. “What are you doing? You are freaking me out!” She stumbled over and took the microphone from me. Her pupils were like pinpricks and she ranted nonsensically for a few minutes. Acid. She’s definitely on acid. I went over and tried to get the mic back. She let it go and grabbed my beard with a death grip. I managed to shake her off and she attacked a monster of a security guard with an even larger beard. The band started playing again, while two enormous security guards try to gently drag her off stage. It took four cops to get her into a squad car.
On one of the final tours we did for our last record we found ourselves in Hong Kong, The show was in a DIY space in the factory district with Toronto’s Fucked Up and Fanzui Xiangfa from Beijing. We were running on zero sleep from our overnight flight from Taiwan and we had no idea what was in store for us. It’s a disassociating feeling when a language barrier prevents you from communicating with people all day on tour. But, what’s even stranger is when those people you couldn’t carry on a conversation with sing your songs with you later that night. Hong Kong was one of my favourite shows the band has ever played. We capped the night off at a restaurant filled with gangsters who were drinking, gambling, and playing mahjong.
It’s hard to pinpoint those moments that define a tour because they happen every few minutes. As we put the finishing touches on our new record, I can’t wait for the craziness to start happening again.
- Posted Monday, 14 April 2014 at 12:24 by Rock Sound
Pro Wrestling is fake. That's supposed to be the deterrent from watching and loving this often misunderstood art form. Do you watch movies? Do you realise that guy didn't ACTUALLY get shot? Do you realise that guy isn't ACTUALLY flying? Then why did you jump out of your seat? Why did you cry? Why did you cheer? It's all fake. When something is great enough or tells the story convincingly enough, we suspend our disbelief. Characters become heroes to millions. We get caught up in the drama of something that deep down, we knew was a work of fiction. One man suspended our disbelief from the moment we experienced his god-like voice and appearance. A man that lived with more intensity than ten men. His name was The Ultimate Warrior.
Everything from his promos to his entrance were some of the most mind-boggling moments we had ever seen on television, even outside of professional wrestling. Half the time, we had no idea what he was saying, but he sold it so well that we were on his side. Who even knows if he knew what he was talking about. it didn't matter. This war-paint wearing superhuman from 'Parts Unknown' was going to get in the ring and destroy. It's argued that he wasn't the most skilled wrestler, but what he lacked in coordination he made up for in brute strength. The Gorilla Press Slam was not a move you could fake. All the other guys were on steroids and lifted weights all the time, too, but Warrior surpassed them all because he lived with more intensity. He was one of the last few bodybuilders who still moved very heavy weights. He never stopped being the Warrior, even outside of the ring.
When Warrior passed, everyone had a story to tell or a memory to share. Even to those who haven't been captivated by professional wrestling all their lives, The Ultimate Warrior was an icon. They had the Ultimate Warrior stuffed Wrestling Buddy doll. They had heard rumuors that he'd died two times already and had been replaced. Some of my good friends got the chance to meet him and wrestle alongside him. What was talked about most, however, was the fact that he returned to the WWE for Wrestlemania weekend and was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. Such a great honour for such an important character. He seemed to have buried the hatchet with Vince McMahon and a new chapter in the WWE was about to begin. His speech at the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, along with his promo cut at RAW the following Monday, seemed strangely ominous, but to us, maybe it was just Warrior being Warrior. We got off our seats. We cheered. We chanted. The next day, we lost Warrior. We cried. We remembered.
We will live our lives with intensity. We will keep the spirit of The Ultimate Warrior alive in all of us!
- Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 15:14 by Thomas Lacey
Tom's recent dissection of Coal Chamber's debut album was a delight, unfortunately this month he has pissed on our chips with his verdict on letlive.'s stunning effort 'The Blackest Beautiful'. We tried headlocks, nipple cripples, atomic wedgies and more but nothing would budge Mr Lacey from his view. Read his words below and, if we ever let him out of his windowless prison, he'll be back with another review soon.
It's been difficult to ignore letlive. over the last twelve months; they've had an extraordinary career boost thanks to the universally positive response to their latest album, 'The Blackest Beautiful', a record that has appeared in every rock and metal rag's top albums of the year. In the eyes of the press it's also finally put to bed the nagging thought that the rest of the band act merely as a back-drop to frontman Jason Aalon Butler's increasingly flamboyant and chaotic stage antics. It's unanimous, letlive. are having 'a moment'.
Well, far be it from me to piss on anyone's parade, but as the resident record snob in the RS team, I felt I deserved the opportunity to be thoroughly rude about rock's current golden boys and truth be told it was with a mischievous gleam in their eye that Rock Sound presented me with the record, almost as if they knew what was coming (how dare you Lacey, we knew nothing - litigation Ed).
Starting at the beginning with, what is probably the wider public's introduction to the band, first single and album opener 'Banshee (Ghost Fame)', it's obvious that producers Kit Walters and Steven George have worked their socks off to dazzle the listener with as many bells and whistles as they can. It's a trick they continue throughout the rest of the 11 tracks, and it's gained the record comparisons to Refused ' Shape of Punk to come'. In part it's fair, both are highly laboured albums that take punk rock as a jumping off point then see how far that traditional template can be played with, but where SOPTC uses it's studio tricks to hammer home Refused's maximum-marxist schtick, letlive. seem happy to let it lay over their songs like a fat, jammy cake.
This may be intentional of course, as 'The Blackest Beautiful' is a record about...well, what the fuck is it about anyway? Butler's lyrics have always been open to interpretation, but there is a damn good reason why the Glassjaw references come up over and over again. Daryl Palumbo often fell foul of acting too clever by half and Butler spends much of the album following the same mould. Once you've successfully waded through the thick, metaphorical custard the realisation hit's you like a rubber glove full of dogshit – it's the usual check list of Americas wrongs. All together now - racism, alienation, the Government, religion, celebrity and so on, all delivered without a hint of a solution or even any analysis beyond pointing at them with a trembling bottom lip.
In “White Americas Beautiful Black Market”, the line ' with governments sucking the dicks of corporations', is less Gore Vidal and more Sean Penn's puppet doppelgänger from Team America, and most patronising of all is 'Younger', which takes as its subject matter the state of the commercial American church, delivered with all the insight of a 13 year old just discovering black nail polish. Somewhere, Tom Araya is slapping his forehead in embarrassment.
It begs the question constantly, who exactly are letlive. trying to impress? Surely not the hardcore scene they originate from, there's one too many autotune moments and sugared choruses to inspire your average Emmure fan to look up from slowly counting their own fingers, but all this lofty ambition is surely going to be lost on the pop kids who just want to enjoy themselves and get wankered on Strongbow after school.
Efforts to inject some fun into the proceedings go awry the second Butler utters his first ' Yo!', with all the authenticity of Alien fucking Ant Farm, and couple this with the crippling amount of theatrical 'laughs' that pepper the songs and it just scuppers the social-political angle the band are hoping to pull off. Perhaps if more time had been spent reading up on their chosen subjects rather than scanning the back of 'Bowling for Columbine' and hoping for the best we'd be in better shape.
A shame then, for all the good intentions it feels like Blacked Beautiful is trapped in the departure lounge, ready to board the plane to greatness but stuck behind a sweaty, fat bloke at the gate who has just realised he dropped his passport in the hotel khazi.
More from Mr Lacey next month (as we said, maybe!), go visit him at facebook.com/yardsband or tomlaceyartdesign.bigcartel.com in the meantime to see what he's doing. Hey, why not treat yourself and buy a print? Your wall deserves it.
- Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 17:55 by Rock Sound
Like what you see? Tees are £30 and vests are £25, grab yours from sinstarclothing.com.
- Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 16:05 by Rock Sound
True friendship is a subject close to the hearts of Rock Sound and Jagermeister hence we have joined forces to quiz musicians on the deep and meaningful bond that exists between touring creative people. Sounds very serious right? Well it is, but that's not to say we can't have a bit of fun with it eh.
Jagermeister tell us that It Runs Deep, but does a band's loyalty waver when the stage clothes stink, the hairspray runs out and the load out sucks. Watch, decide for yourself and let us know if we should make a shitload more of these videos.
The band open the Main Stage at Sonisphere on July 04, find out more and get a copy of their latest album 'Daggers' at facebook.com/thedefiled.
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