Four Letter Nerd

Category - Music

Old Punks: 10 Bands You Should Go See At Warped Tour 2016 If You’re 30

The older you get, the less enticing an all day music festival can sound. Especially one that is historically marketed to teenagers. I mean, it’s hot, your feet and back start hurting, the food is expensive and terrible. Plus, there’s all the aforementioned teenagers, with their weird hair and boxed water and Snapchat. I just instinctively want to yell, “Get off my lawn!” And that’s because I’m old. Well, I’m not really “old”. I’m 31, but in music-scene-years that’s ANCIENT. Don’t get me wrong, I know we still have our place. Just this year I’ve seen Lamb of God, Slayer, and Killswitch Engage. When it comes to something as inherently “young” as Warped Tour, however, us old scene folks can feel uncomfortably out of place.

Until… You take a look at the line-up this year.

Allow me to present to you, two handfuls of bands that you definitely jammed when you were in your awkward teen years, and who are 100% worth the price of admission, plus putting up with shitty food and millennials. (Are 30-somethings Millennials? I always just call us the “Donnie Darko Generation”.)

 

Atreyu
Their first album Suicide Notes & Butterfly Kissess was released in ’02 and, their second (best? best.) album The Curse came out in ’04. They were the quintessential “teen angst” band for the scene. Don’t act like you wouldn’t give 6 bucks and your left nut to here them play “Lip Gloss and Black”, “Bleeding Mascara”, or “Right Side of the Bed” live again.

 

Bullet For My Valentine
BFMV is the one band I considered not putting on this list initially because they just *barely*, and arguably, make the cut. I heard them for the first time when I was about 19 so I technically would’ve still been a teenager and for that reason I’m letting it slide. Also, I just would love to hear “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” live.

 

Every Time I Die
Of all the bands on this list, these dudes have probably been the most consistent. Their first album, Last Night In Town, came out in 2001 and then their “breakout” album, Hot Damn!, came out in 2003. THAT, my friends, is THE album. Of all albums. It’s easily my favorite album from any of the bands here. I saw them back in December of last year and I guarantee you their live performance hasn’t suffered one bit throughout the years.

 

Good Charlotte
WALDORF WORLDWIDE! Good Charlotte was jam when I was 15 man. I couldn’t listen to Blink-182 in the car with my parents, so when GC’s first, self-titled, album came out in 2000 I played it non-stop. They’re only playing about a week and half of dates on Warped Tour this year but if they’re on one near you then you should definitely go.

 

Less Than Jake
I clearly identified more with the punk/freak crowd when I was in high school, but I dated a lot of preppy girls. I wasn’t like a bad boy punk or anything (I’ve always been about as threatening as a cotton ball) so it couldn’t have been cause they were trying to piss off their parents or anything. Well this one prep girl I dated turned out to be super into H2O and Less Than Jake. That blew my already not-entirely developed mind. They have a wealth of songs to pull from, but I genuinely hope they play mostly stuff from their 2003 album Anthem and before.

 

New Found Glory
NFG is by far my favorite band on this list, and one of my top 10 favorite bands of all-time. Maybe even top 5 if I really thought it out. I could pretty much earmark each chapter of my life with their albums. I’ve seen them a few times and their live performance is always phenomenal. Even last year when singer Jordan Pundik broke his leg on tour, they continued on and played with the same level of energy as if nothing had happened at all. There’s no way I’m gonna miss a chance to see them play “My Friend’s Over You” again.

 

Reel Big Fish
This is probably the one band on the list that you should go to see if you’re 40. RBF have been around since the mid-90’s and haven’t lost one ounce of their charisma. I first heard of them when the movie Baseketball came out because their cover of “Take on Me” was featured on the soundtrack, and the band actually appeared briefly in the movie. If you don’t catch their set you’re missing out because they’re SKA-mazing!

 

SUM 41
This is band I’m most excited to see. I bought they’re Half Hour of Power ep at a Wal-Mart in Eastern Kentucky on a trip to visit family and I didn’t stop listening to it the entire time. I remember the first time I saw them live was at another music festival and they joked about getting into a fight with the band SR-71 in the hotel lobby before they drove to the venue. That still cracks me up. If they play “Fat Lip” I sure as hell will be singing along, and I still know every word.

 

Tsunami Bomb
What’s funny about Tsunami Bomb being on this list is that I was never a huge fan of theirs or anything, but my little brother was and he’s not in his 30’s. He’s barely in his mid-20’s. Although, we did go see them once and he was certainly the youngest person there so they were obviously for an older crowd. They have a different vocalist now, but they’re still a great band. “Dawn on a Funeral Day” was the song I dug most.

 

Yellowcard
OK, here’s the thing about me and Yellowcard. I’m kind of a hipster when it comes to them because I liked them before they blew up. Ocean Avenue didn’t grab me, but I really enjoyed their albums One for the Kids and Where We Stand. Oh! Also, their cover of Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere” is legit so there’s that.

 

Head over to vanswarpedtour.com for a full list of all the bands playing, as well as show dates. And if you do go to the show, make sure to check out some of the more recent bands too. I highly recommend Gideon, State Champs, and Old Wounds. Just because we’re old doesn’t mean we have to be irrelevant.

4LN Album Review: Deftones – “Gore”

The Deftones have been plagued with bad luck and turmoil throughout their 20+ years in existence. From high-tensions between them and their label, to crippling addictions, to the tragic loss of bassist and original member Chi Cheng from a car accident in 2008, and his subsequent death in April of 2013. While those circumstances, as well as many others, have challenged and nearly broken the band, they’ve also been the source for motivation and creative passion for them and have helped birthed some of the best metal/rock albums you will ever hear.

Even now, with the release of Gore they’re not immune to controversy. In a February interview with UltimateGuitar.com, founder and guitarist Stephen Carpenter said (among other things) that he “didn’t want to play on the record to begin with.” That’s a pretty bold statement to make when your band in on the cusp of releasing a new record. After listening to Gore however, I think I better understand what was going on in his mind. I urge you to read the interview for yourself, but basically some of his statements could give you the impression that there is a lack of guitar overall on the album. That is simply not the case. Is there less of it? Maybe? Honestly, I was intentionally listening to see if I could find lengthy sections with no guitar and I can’t really pinpoint any. The thing about it is, the majority of the guitar parts and tone is not what one would necessarily describe as “metal” and Carpenter is definitely the “metal guy” of the group. He’s stated that he learned to play guitar when he was a teenager by listening to bands like Anthrax and Metallica. Thrash and metal bands. When that’s your biggest influence for becoming a musician, it’s easy to see how you’d place a big emphasis on that style of guitar work. For the most part you could describe the Deftones’ early albums as metal, and there are some very heavy songs on their last couple albums, Diamond Eyes (2010) and Koi No Yokan (2012), but I think you could also say their “experimental rock” side is equivocal to their “metal” side. (I swear to you that I didn’t mean for this to turn into an “In Defense Of” article.)

The first track on the album is also the first single, “Prayers/Triangles” (above), and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the band. It has a very ambient vibe with the rhythm pulling slightly off-time, and the chorus rushes in, is very intense, and then just as quickly moves right back out again. It’s a solid track that makes a great introduction to the record.

The second track released as a single is “Doomed User”, and it features more of the aggressive and crushing side of the Deftones. There’s a satisfyingly heavy bass line in the verses and a guitar riff throughout the track that is reminiscent of 80’s bands like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. It also showcases another evolving aspect of the band’s songwriting structure. Which is, there really isn’t one. We live in a world where the lines and “black & white” nature of things is fading more and more each day, and music no exception. Not just this one but with some of their other songs also, it’s difficult to distinguish where the verses are, and the choruses too. I’m not saying they’re all like that, but a fair number of them are. The Deftones don’t seem to just write songs by a method or formula. They write what feels right and go with it. More bands should be that intuitive.

The most recent single dropped is “Hearts/Wires”, and it’s probably my personal favorite. It begins with a slow, atmospheric intro that stretches around a minute and a half, and then moves into a moody sounding verse that’s juxtaposed by a quick-paced rhythm guitar part. The chorus is big and loud, but still almost sludgy in a way. It’s not so much hard, as it is heavy. (That’s what she said.) I get the same vibe from it that I get from songs like “Digital Bath” or “RX Queen”, from White Pony, which I’ll just go ahead and admit is still my favorite of their albums.

The rest of the album, beyond just the singles, is fantastic. Seeing as how I’ve already used the words “Ambient” and “Atmospheric” I’ll just say that those pretty accurately capture the feel of it. One of my favorite songs is “(L)Mirl”. It opens somewhat abstractly (which we’ve already discussed is basically normal for the band) and vocalist Chino Moren softly delivering the line “I don’t miss you. I don’t care where you are now. You’re a ghost to me, left with with my taste in your mouth.” That one line, I feel, encapsulates the entire temperament of Gore. They’ve washed their hands of any concern over what people expect and they’re just moving on and continuing to create music without worrying about what bullshit opinion someone has.

I think that sucks. – asshole on the internet

Cool. We don’t give a shit. – Deftones *continues to sell out concerts and make lots of money*

Probably the heaviest song on the album is the title track, “Gore.” While the verse parts are mostly an echo-y guitar tone and cymbal-focused drums, the chorus section is really heavy, utilizing deep bass and Moreno’s classic screeching vocals.

There’s also an appearance by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell on the song “Phantom Bride”. He has a very distinct sound and when you hear his solo you know without a doubt that it’s undeniably him.

deftones-code-orange-tour-tickets-dates

While White Pony may be my favorite album, I believe that Koi No Yokan is their best all around. At this point, I would put Gore on par with Diamond Eyes. I’ve avoided making this comparison until now on purpose. The reason is, that album was also noted for showcasing a more shoegaze style than the band had previously incorporated, which continued on through Koi No Yokan. Since Shoegaze is sort of the “it” (hipster) thing right now in music, I didn’t want to stigmatize my review with it early on and risk some people going, “Nope. Nuh uh. F— that.” Personally, I like shoegaze, so I like hearing the Deftones incorporate it more into their sound. That’s not to say that Gore, or really any of their records, could be defined by that genre. Just that, it’s an element that makes up the larger part of their unique sound.

 

Overall, Gore is a very, very good album. It’s quite complex, almost ethereal, and rich in heaviness when it needs to be. It solidifies that the Deftones we’ve heard for the last 2 albums is clearly the Deftones that’s here to stay and I for one am perfectly happy about it.

Blood and Metal: An Interview with Rocky Gray

rocky

Many moons ago, before 4 Letter Nerd was even a twinkle in our eye, I wrote music reviews for a distribution company’s monthly catalog. My job was basically to convince stores to order more “underground” albums than they were used to ordering by convincing them that younger people would buy them. I was pretty damn good at. One month, would’ve been back in 2008, I decided to review the new Soul Embraced album, Dead Alive. I loved the band, and it had been about 5 years since they’d put out their last album, Immune, so I felt like it was my duty as a fan to spread the Gospel of Soul Embraced. Well, in spite of my good intentions, that turned out to be a fatal blow for me, as one women, from one store, wrote the company a letter complaining about the review and the nature of the album. I suppose she wasn’t a fan of metal and the cover offended her. The president of the company gave implicit orders that my column be removed immediately and permanently. And that’s the story of how Soul Embraced got me fired from a job. But you know what, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I was proud of that article, I loved that record, and I’m not sorry one bit for telling people to buy it.

Fast forward almost a decade and I find myself getting to talk with Rocky Gray, who founded Soul Embraced. In addition to that, he’s also in one of my other all-time favorite bands, Living Sacrifice, and was a member of Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum selling band Evanescence. Rocky and chatted about his career, his work doing film scoring, and who makes the best cheeseburger. Check it out!

4LN – For those that don’t know, you actually started playing in bands (most notably, Shredded Corpse) back when you were roughly 15 years old, if I have that right. What was your introduction into metal, and what bands or musicians influenced you to want to be a musician yourself?

Rocky Gray – Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., early 80’s bands, that was the start of my metal education. Before that I was really into Kiss. Kiss is what enticed me to become a musician. Metallica is what kept the dream alive.

 

4LN – Your musical versatility is quite impressive, what with you having the ability to play pretty much any instrument you put your hands on. Have you found that any one came more naturally than others, or is it a fair balance of “practice makes perfect” with all of them?

RG – Drums came to me very naturally. Guitar took some work. Still working on the keyboard.

 

4LN – Of all the amazing albums you’ve been a part of crafting and creating throughout the years, is there any one that stands out as being especially memorable?

RG – The Evanescence record Fallen changed my life. You grow up hoping to accomplish all of these things in the music world and to be able to see a lot of those dreams come true is amazing and something I don’t take for granted. Its a blessing.

4LN – Now that we’ve talked a little about your past I’d like to move on to what projects you have going on now. Specifically, it was recently announced that you’ll be doing some scoring work on Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. How did did this opportunity come about?

RG – I had followed the original Volumes of Blood and the progress of that film and the success they had with it so when I saw that they were doing a sequel I wrote the producer, P.J. Starks, and told him if he needed a composer to get in touch with me. He got back to me and we started discussing what we could make happen. So far I’ve done the Theme song and am scheduled to score director Justin Seaman’s segment of the film. Not sure if I’ll be doing any more than that but were still pretty early in production.

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4LN – Is film scoring something you’d ever considered before now, or was it just more “Sure, I’ll give this a try”?

RG – I had wanted to work in movies for quite a long time now. I had always been too busy with the different bands to take the time to figure out what I had to do to get into that world. After We Are The Fallen took a break I got a call from a producer in California and he asked if I would score his film and without hesitation I said yes. It was a great learning experience for me and from doing that one I knew I wanted to keep scoring movies. Since then I’ve scored 2 more movies, 2 video games, a commercial, and the theme to Volumes of Blood:Horror Stories.

 

4LN – Can you tell us about any other projects you’ve got right now, or might have on the horizon?

RG – The Barn original motion picture soundtrack is out on vinyl and cassette right now from Lunaris Records. I recently did the score for Eric Stanze’s new film In Memory Of that is in post production.

The Barn - Original Motion Picture Score LP

 

4LN – This next section is our lightning round questions. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Since you’re scoring a horror film, my first question has to be, what’s your personal favorite horror film?
RG – It’s a tie between Halloween (original) and the Exorcist.

4LN – If you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would it be?
RG – Metallica

4LN – You’ve spent a lot of time out on the road, touring and eating food from all over the world, but what place has the best burger you’ve ever eaten?
RG – The Cheeseburger from Buffalo Wild Wings in the good ‘ol USA!

4LN – What up-and-coming band, or bands, that we might not have heard of yet should we be listening to?
RG – I’m so out of the loop on new bands. If you haven’t heard Born of Osiris or Thy Art Is Murder maybe check them out.

4LN – Which tour van’s always smelled worse, Living Sacrifice or Soul Embraced?
RG – Living Sacrifice!

4LN – For my last question, I want to bring together both horror and metal to ask… If you we’re putting together a Death Metal Super-Group with slasher movie villains, which slashers would you choose to slaughter the ears of the world alongside you, and what instruments would you put them on?
RG – Ghostface on vocals, Jason Voorhees on drums, Cropsy on guitar, Michael Myers on bass. Ill run front of house for them.

 

I want to thank Rocky for speaking with me. Make sure to check out his website Rocky-Gray.com to stay up-to-date with his projects. You can also contribute to helping Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories get made by checking out their Indigogo campaign.

4LN Album Review: Killswitch Engage – “Incarnate”

The very first time I ever heard Killswitch Engage was when their 2002 album Alive or Just Breathing had just been released. A good friend of mine, who I also played in a band with (cause every suburban white dude was in a band at least once when they were a teenager right?) put on the song “My Last Serenade” and I instantly fell in love. I’ve been a huge fan of the band ever since that very moment. Last week they dropped their new album, Incarnate, and I’ve listened to it at least twice a day since then. AT LEAST. It’s the follow up to their 2013 album Disarm the Descent, which saw the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach. That album also garnered them an Grammy Award nomination for “Best Metal Performance”, for the song “In Due Time“. That album really is fantastic. It felt like a return to the Alive or Just Breathing days, before Jesse left the band and Howard Jones stepped in a took over vocalist duties for, roughly, the next decade. There’s a visceral quality to both of those albums that is very captivating. Incarnate, though, is a different beast altogether.

It feels like such natural evolution for the band. Maybe it’s the tracking or the mixing, but the whole thing just sounds cleaner. I don’t mean that it sounds polished or sterile, just that you can really hear all the little nuanced things that it was easy to miss on their last album and I feel like that could be due to how the album was tracked, mixed and mastered (or maybe it’s just that I have WAY better headphones now? #Sennheiser4Lyfe)

“Alone I Stand” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s the opening track and it builds though some well placed feedback, into a tribal drum beat, and ending at a sick riff. Then there are these little rhythm changes that you’ll only catch if you’re listening close enough. The chorus is a beautiful melody with Leach confidently declaring, “No allegiance. Defiant I withstand. This resistance. I reject what you demand, and alone I stand.” It’s a perfect opener and pretty much exactly the kind of heavy jam we’ve come to love from these dudes.

The second single off the album is “Hate by Design”, and in many ways it feels like a… I sort of loathe myself for using this term… but it feels like a *spiritual successor* to “Fixation on the Darkness” from Alive or Just Breathing. They have very similar opening structures and place a substantial emphasis on the rhythm in the verses and then switch to melodic dominance during the chorus. Yes, I’m aware this describes most all metalcore and melodic metal songs, but these two songs also seem to share a common ideal lyrically as well. Obviously these are all vague-ish lyrics and open to interpretation but I’m gonna give it a shot…. “Fixation on the Darkness” is about being influenced by the negativity and the bullshit that we’re confronted with every single day (“Fixation on the darkness that engulfs this world. Drain the life force of our people…”), and encouraging the listener that the only way to escape the effects is by committing to be more intentionally compassionate (“Change, the only way we will survive”). “Hate by Design” comes across to me like a sequel, of sorts, in that Leach is, among other things, speaking to people who failed to head his warning in “Fixation…” and saying, “Look, you can’t help that this is the world you’re born into, and therefor predisposed to it’s negative influence, but the best way to live is to find a way to beat that negativity and admit that our hate doesn’t have to be a defining character trait.” (“Hate, hate by design is destroying our lives. Seek to find, some understanding. Redefine your life!”) His vocals are aggressive but very pleading at the same time, and that lets you know that he isn’t just phoning it in. He genuinely believes in what he’s saying without any hint of ego or self-righteousness. That’s rare in metal.

Right now, I’d have to say that my favorite track from Incarnate is “Embrace the Journey…Upraised”. The track kicks off with a bass-line that kind of riffs, if that makes sense, and crescendos to a groovy guitar section that is complimented by a loud and steady drum beat. The middle chunk of the song alternates back and forth between trash metal style brutality and groove metal jams. It almost kind of feels like a Sepultura song in that manner. Which makes a lot of sense when you consider how tribal the final act of the song is, with a deep and heavy drum beat and chanting vocals (“Silence the voice of the self-righteous, condescending and without grace. Give sight to those who are blind with hatred, to see beyond hypocrisy”).

While the album does pretty much pummel your ears straight through from beginning to end, it does have a few mellow-ish, more reflective moments. The tracks “Quiet Distress” and “We Carry On” come to mind as songs that trade the hard-hitting, in-your-face ferocity for a slowed-down heaviness that doesn’t assault you but more compels you to feel the weight of the emotion being conveyed.

Incarnate is an amazing record. It’s Killswitch Engage at their creative best, and executing that creativity like masters of their craft. It’s a very eclectic album. I think you can especially hear influence from the late 80’s through the mid-90’s eras of trash and melodic death metal. You can almost just drop the “core” at this point when referring to them because KsE is METAL band, made up of 5 dudes who just love playing heavy music that makes people feel good. Does that mean we’d call Incarnate a “feel good record”? I actually would. I’ve been listening to it for almost an entire week and I feel good. I feel empowered. Some people go to seminars and buy books to feel better about themselves and get insight on how to build a resistance to negativity. Metalheads though, we buy metal records and go to metal shows and that’s how we handle all the stress and frustrations we deal with on a daily basis.

Speaking of shows, KsE is on tour RIGHT NOW, with support from Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists, and Toothgrinder. Check out their tour dates and make sure to catch the show if they come through your town, I know I will!

4LN Music Review: Into It. Over It. – Standards

Artist: Into It. Over It.
Album: Standards
Length: 12 Tracks, 41 minutes
Record Label: Triple Crown Records

IIOI-Standards-Cover

I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting a long time to jam this album. Earlier this week they announced that it was streaming on a couple sites, but I really wanted to wait until the album dropped to fully experience it. I’m going to be real with you… I’m so glad I waited.

For those of you who are not familiar with the band Into It. Over It. it is the solo project of Evan Thomas Weiss, and Standards is the 5th release for the project. I first found Into It. Over It. in 2011 when his album PROPER was released, and this project has been one of the main acts to usher in the emo rebirth of the mid 2000’s. When I say “emo” I don’t want you to picture bands like Hawthrone Heights or My Chemical Romance because Into it. Over It. is no where near as aggressive as said acts. Evan Thomas Weiss is more similar to the sounds of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie. I would consider Into It. Over It. to be a great blend of emo and indie rock, so think of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie getting into a car crash, and the resulting sound would be the birth of Into It. Over It. (Editor’s Note: 4LN does not condone violence against mainstream Emo/Indie rock bands.)

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Standards starts with a brutally honest song, Open Casket, that ends in a wall of feedback that would leave most listeners pushing the next button, but for me, that was one of my favorite moments of the album. I’m a big fan of Noise Rock, and that feedback reminded me a lot of that genre, but it was Evan making it his own. This album seems to have a lot of Evan making things his own, because the amount of honestly is real and refreshing. The album reminds me of a slower version of We Cool? by Jeff Rosenstock because of all of the honestly and pure emotion behind every word.

The single for this album, “No EQ” is a much more upbeat and faster paced song, maybe even the most lively track on this album. This is a track about remaining true to yourself, where Evan goes into detail about how he feels out of place in todays times, and how his music taste and fashion never changes. It’s a song I think a lot of later 20something punks will be able to relate to. It may even be the realest track on the album…

The album really slows down around the 5th track, Your Lasting Image, which deals with the struggles of forgetting someone that you once loved, with the repeating line “I can’t remember your touch…” and the song goes into detail about wanting to remember someone for a way that they were. This is one of the saddest tracks on the album, which instantly means it’s my favorite.

Closer to the end of the album is the track Who You Are Does Not Equal Who You Were, and this track has a great distorted guitar sound but also extremely clear vocals. The music really builds up in this song to a major explosion of sound that will leave the listener banging their head along to, and this album is no where near a headbanger. That’s actually one of the great things about this album, Evan Thomas Weiss takes sounds from so many different genres and blends them into a truly unique sound. The vocals on this entire album are crystal clear, and this track is a great example of that. At no point will anyone have a hard time singing along to this album

I think the most special thing about Standards is that it’s not an album for just one fan base. For the most part, Evan’s target demographic is going to be late teens and early 20’s pop-punk/emo kids, but the special thing about this album is, I can see some indie-heads, soft rock, and maybe even some Noise Rock/Pop fans will really jam this album.

If you are a fan of Bayside, Death Cab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional, or You Blew It! then you really need to jam this album. This is a great starting point for someone looking to get into the Emo Revival, and a great album to jam if you are feeling a little down, or just want to relax. Standards by Into It. Over It. is a great album for anyone looking to get into a new slower emotionally honest band.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIER: Renaissance Fair’s “Southampton” Music Video + An Interview with Vocalist Nick Taylor

A few weeks ago my good friend Michael Roe, from the band Daisyhead, called me up and told me about this great new band called Renaissance Fair. I checked them out and ended up jamming their self-titled EP more times than I can even remember on repeat. I loved it. It’s a great mix of a little indie rock, some pop punk, and a little surfer vibe rock’n’roll. Then I found out that vocalist and guitarist Nick Taylor was a big fan of Game of Thrones, and time travel so I instantly knew I wanted to sit down and talk with him. We chatted about the bands writing process, Nicks favorite albums of 2015, and what Young Adult Dystopian Novel Universe he would want to be trapped in. Oh, and after the interview we have a special treat for you… the world premiere of the new Renaissance Fair music video, “Southampton”! Enjoy!

renfair

How did Renaissance Fair get started?
NT- Wes, Branson, and Jared are all brothers, and have been playing in bands together for basically their whole lives. I met them when we were all around the age of 15 when they were a three piece that my band would open up for. We started together on this new project only about a year ago when both of our bands (The Summers and Midway) were coming to an end. It worked out, because I think we all wanted a fresh start and to do something unlike anything we had put out before.


Do you guys have a specific writing process that you follow, or do you just write when you feel inspired?
NT- Well, for me, I have to be inspired to write. There’s nothing worse then trying to force out something that’s just not ready. I love writing for RenFair because I can bring an idea to the group and we’ll jam it, and I’ll take it back to the lab and build the structure more and we’ll go back and forth on it until it’s complete. I definitely don’t have a committed process, though. For instance, we’re actually in the studio for the next few days recording two new songs, and the two were written very differently. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music, and if we’re lucky, sometimes it just all flows out naturally together. On one of the new songs, the opening lines were written probably two years ago, and the rest was mainly written when I was staying in New York last October. So you never really know when and how something will inspire your writing.


Any funny or crazy tour stories you can tell us about?
NT- Nothing legendary yet sadly, but we did get bored on a drive to Boston, and spent a good 45 minutes taking videos of me rapping Robert Frost poems over beats we found on Spotify. Hopefully we’ll have some terrible sketchy experience to tell you about after our tour with Intervention coming up.


I’ve noticed, while listening to your EP, you guys have a similar sound to Turnover and Death Cab for Cutie, it’s an awesome blend. What other bands have inspired you?
NT- Oh, well thank you. Both of those bands are awesome in their own ways, and Ben Gibbart has definitely always been an inspiration to me. Anyway I would say we listen to a lot of groovy stuff these days. We love Alabama Shakes, Toro Y Moi, Bombay Bicycle Club, Night Moves, Phoenix, Mac Demarco, but we really try not to compare ourselves to any other bands in particular. At least that has been a mindset we’ve had moving forward with writing our new material.


So, I hear you are a big fan of GoT, I’m on the second to last episode of season 3, without Spoiling anything, who is your favorite character?
NT- Oh man that show is super frustrating, but Branson and I are obsessed. I read him this question and he’s having an internal debate about his favorite right now. I’m gonna have to go with Jon Snow. Go figure…

Michael (from Daisyhead) also told me that you were a big fan of time travel. If you could travel back in time to one historical event, which would it be?
NT- Yeah, time has always been just a fascinating concept to me.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve spent way too many late nights cringing at thoughts of eternity. Im also not ashamed to tell you I not-so-secretly have an unfinished novel that involves a bit of time travel so I’ve done my fair share of research on the subject. I would say though, if I had to choose I would have loved to see Athens during the 5th century. I’ve been studying a lot of stuff about culture and its progression over time, and I’m just really interested to know how much of ancient history was misinterpreted or catalogued with a biased opinion, but that’s just a part of the passing of time I guess. Like I said, it’s always been a fascinating concept for me.


What was your favorite album of 2015?
NT- I’m gonna have to say “What For ?” by Toro Y Moi. It was just my soundtrack to last summer and really peaked my curiosity into this new wave of psychedelic indie rock that’s coming around.

 Honorable mentions for sure would be:
 Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
 Surf – Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
Here at 4LN we are big fans of literature, any books you read while on the road during 2015 that you want to recommend to anyone?
NT- I just finished Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It’s a fictional tale, but it is mainly all a conversation between the two main characters. There are actually two sequels, I believe, but it has a lot to do with looking at culture and civilization and what they have done to the earth. It’s actually pretty heavy. Not to give away too much but one thing it discussed was how feeding the thousands of starving people in the world is just causing them to repopulate which will cause a future generation to have double the amount of starving people. It’s the first thing I’ve ever really read in the field of spiritualism, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know a little more about man and his part in the much larger story of existence.


What is your favorite animated series?
NT- At first I thought you said anime and I was worried I’d have to decide. Haha, just kidding, that’s not a category of nerd I know that well. Even though FLCL always drew me in when I was younger. You know, I watch the same amount of cartoons as any 22 year old. Gotta love South Park for teaching me how to check someone’s privileges.


What is your all time favorite record?
NT- You really know how to ask the tough questions… I really couldn’t begin to answer this question. I’ll give you a few that I’ve been jamming the past year a lot. “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys, and “Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel are definitely classics for me, but more recently… “Modern Vampires In The City” by Vampire Weekend, “Oh, Inverted World” by The Shins, and really any of Bombay Bicycle Club’s albums, who sadly earlier this month announced they were taking a break. That was a sad day.


Would you rather live in the world of Hunger Games or Divergent?
NT- Which ever is not a ripoff of the other one? …but no seriously, I didn’t read divergent but I’m going to assume both would have me in a futuristic dystopian society with messed up laws where I end getting dragged into a war against a corrupt government by an equally corrupt rebellion.  Knowing me, I’d get sorted into the boring faction in divergent or die of old age in district 7 in hunger games. Ha!


Any video games you have been playing lately?
NT- Just Pokemon Fire Red on my tablet. Got my 5th badge yesterday.

What were your thoughts in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
NT- Man, I don’t like to discuss things that I don’t know a lot about, which is a main reason I’m finding it hard to get myself to vote this year. I have my choice but I don’t want to make an uneducated guess. As far as Star Wars, I’ve seen all of the movies but I really felt unattached to the new movie. I just never got super into Star Wars and I don’t want to step on the diehards’ toes. I will say JJ Abrams did a great job of creating a feel and tone for this movie that reflected so much on the original trilogy.

Before we check out your new video, can you tell us a little about it, as well as your new EP?
NT- We recorded our debut EP last year with Tate Mercer, and we’re very pleased with how it came out. We ended up throwing together a DIY music video that we shot in our living room for a song called Southampton. We have a lot of fun doing little musical projects like that on a whim.

 

I wanna send a big THANK YOU to Nick for speaking with me, and now, without further ado, check out their new video, Southampton!

You can find these rad guys on tour, with their friends in Intervention, during the month of March, so do your best to see them on the road, get some merch, and tell them 4LN sent you!

3/11: Chattanooga, TN – Elmo’s World* (No Intervention*)
3/12: Atlanta, GA – Hill St. House
3/13: Tallahassee, FL – TV Land
3/14: Jacksonville, FL – The Birdhouse
3/16: Greenville, NC – Player’s Retreat
3/17: Williamsport, PA – The Groundfloor
3/18: Winchester, VA – Hopscotch Coffee
3/20: Nashville, TN – That 70s House

Best Live Bands of 2015

Since Four Letter Nerd’s conception, Stephen Andrew and I have been eagerly awaiting for the site to include music reviews, and that day has finally arrived. With the new year, 4LN has decided we are going to go in a new direction, and one of the new features will be focusing more on music. For me, music has always been something that I’ve been super nerdy about. When I get into a new band, I pretty much completely get into that band. I learn about the members, I completely dive into their discography, and I love learning about their writing process.

This previous year, I really dove into some awesome music, and along with diving into music, I saw some really awesome live performances. I saw everything from country music legend Willie Nelson to the black metal/crust punk band Young And In The Way, and I saw everything in between them as well. I can honestly say I saw close to 50 different musical acts this year, some were phenomenal, and others were fairly forgettable. This list will consist of the 10 best bands I saw in 2015, but in no particular order. I should say that, while I am heavily into punk, hardcore and metal, this list will not consist of just those types of bands. So, without further adieu, I give you the best live performances of 2015, according to Bill Clark.

 

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1) Ryan Adams
I have been waiting since I was a sophomore in high school to see Ryan Adams (six years for anyone wondering). I first heard about Ryan Adams from a hipster girl I knew, and she gave me a copy of Gold and Easy Tiger and his music blew me away. Each time Ryan has toured and come through Nashville, I’ve missed his show. In April he announced two shows at The Ryman Auditorium, and I knew I had to see him. I got tickets to his first show of the two dates and it was incredible. The Ryman stage was set up like a 1980’s arcade and included giant pinball machines and wild taxidermy animals. Ryan mostly played songs of his self titled album, and unfortunately this show was before the announcement of his Taylor Swift cover album, 1989, so I didn’t get to see any of those songs live. To make an awesome show even better, Ryan brought out Jason Isbell and Natalie Prass and all together played Come Pick Me Up and Jacksonville Skyline. Unfortunately, on the second night (which I was not at) Ryan finally performed the Bryan Adams song Summer of ’69.

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2) Willie Nelson
I saw Willie Nelson also at The Ryman Auditorium in March of 2015. It might have been one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. I went with a fellow punk rocker, Clint Daniel, and we had to be the two youngest people at the show. Clint’s in his late 20’s and I am in my early 20’s. So, what was funny about this show was, it was over by 9:30, and I was home in bed before 11. I say it was funny because one of the Nashville based venues I frequent often, The End, typically doesn’t have the show headliner start until 10 or after. Being able to tell people I saw Willie Nelson is one of the coolest parts of seeing Willie. At the age of 82, Willie is still kicking some serious ass and played for at least and hour and a half, and never once forgot a single lyric. It was great to see a living legend who could out preformed any new popular act.

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3) Young And In The Way
Young and In The Way (YAITW) was possibly the single most terrifying musical experience of my life. For readers who are not familiar with YAITW, they are a black metal crust punk band from North Carolina, known for their satanic imagery, and cult like presence. Stephen Andrew and I saw them play to an audience for maybe 100 people. One by one the band came on stage covered in blood (for added effect, the guitarist played in a leather bondage sex mask, eyes zip shut) and when they began to play, the house lights turned off and the band played in darkness with flashing lights. With songs such as Be My Blood and F**k This Life, the negativity in the room was overpowering, and for the first 3 songs Stephen and I were not sure if we would make it out of the venue without being involved in a cult murder/suicide. During the song F**k This Life, Kable Lyall (vocalist) pointed directly at me, while covered in blood, and yelled “F**K THIS LIFE”… while looking at me. I was 99% sure I was marked for death by the group with “Cult of Rot” backpatches.  If anyone is a fan of horror and/or metal, seeing YAITW live must be added to your bucket list.

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4) Jeff Rosenstock

Where can I even begin with Jeff Rosenstock? I honestly think this was the single best show I saw in 2015. I saw him at the Nashville venue, The End, and I bet there were no more than 200 people at the show. But, during Jeff’s set there had to only be 125 people tops. He toured with Dan Andriano (of Alkaline Trio. No. The OTHER guy from Alkaline Trio. No. NOT MATT SKIBA.) Dan played before Jeff, and after his set a large amount of the crowd left, which really surprised me. For those of you not familiar with Jeff Rosenstock, he originally started playing music with Bomb the Music Industry! and has since made a name for himself in the folk punk/pop punk community. Jeff blends elements of folk and pop punk into one truly unique sound. And his live performances, are also truly unique. Jeff is in his 30’s but has more energy then almost any other performer I saw this year. What amazed me about the guy was he played an entire set on rhythm guitar for Dan Andriano and then did an entire other set immediately after, with Death Rosenstock. While on stage Jeff was jumping all over the place, and at one time jumped on a table in the bar, shredded a little, then jumped into the crowd. Later during the set, he handed his guitar to some random kid and stage dived for a while. The Jeff Rosenstock show was non stop chaos, but beautifully executed.

 

 

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5) City and Colour

City and Colour was actually the last show I saw in 2015, and it was also Dallas Green’s last show of the year. I went with my girlfriend and her sister to see City and Colour at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, and it was a phenomenal show. I have never really been a City and Colour fan. I checked him out when he first released “Sometimes”, but I never really dived into anything after that. I had heard great things about his project with Pink! (You+Me) and his latest album, “If I Should Go Before You”, so I checked out both of those the week before the show, and they really impressed me. I wasn’t sure what to expect with his live show, but I went in with an open mind. Half way during the show, I remember texting Stephen, “Dude. City and Colour is f**king flawless.” That’s really the only way I know how to describe the show. Dallas Green had a fantastic light show along with his music, which really added something unique to the concert. The only real thing I didn’t enjoy was Dallas Green’s lack of stage banter. He was very quiet and didn’t interact with the crowd. It was very much like listening to a recording, but I mean that in the best way possible.

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6-8) New Found Glory, Turnstile and Turnover

This one is a bit more of a stretch, because this might have been the best concert I went too. It was just a stacked fucking line up, and what’s great about this line up, each band was different compared to the other. New Found Glory were headlining the show, and they are the reigning kings of Pop Punk. Like, every other band falls in comparison to them. Descendents are the grandparents of pop punk, New Found Glory are the parents, and every current pop punk band is a little middle-schooler trying to be edgy and cool. The NFG show was a major surprise for me, most of the crowd was the “old guys” crew. People in their late 20’s and early 30’s who aren’t at every show anymore, and most have kids and a family and a raging comic book addiction *cough* Stephen *cough* so they don’t get out to many shows anymore. (Editor’s Note: F*** you, you snot-nosed little s***.) During the opening bands, Turnover and Turnstile, the crowd wasn’t very energetic. Turnover is a slower more post-pop punk/emo band so it made sense with the crowd not moving during their set, and they killed it that night. Turnstile was incredibly energetic and had a strong Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) message, and they got the crowd moving pretty good. Definitely the heaviest band on the bill, younger people were moshing and really getting into the band. But, the entire atmosphere changed when New Found Glory hit the stage, the crowd exploded with energy and the level of excitement flooded over the room. I don’t think I have ever been at a show that had so many stage dives and crowd surfers. It was just a sea of bodies crashing over each other, wave after wave. When it comes to punk and all its subgenres, New Found Glory takes the cake when it comes to live shows.

 

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9) Death Cab for Cutie

I have seen Death Cab at least five times, and every time I see them, they get better and better. I saw them at The Ryman Auditorium to a sold out crowd, and it was honestly one of the best times I’ve seen them. If you are ever in Nashville, please do yourself a favor and see a band at The Ryman. It’s easily one of the best venues in the world, and as an added bonus, it’s also the mother church of country music, and the birthplace of bluegrass. Death Cab is one of those bands that the longer they are together, the better they become. They honestly have it all. Great crowd interactions, perfect sound, and a flawless set list. I think one of the special things about Death Cab is, during their live performances they cater to both fan bases: fairly new fans, and veteran fans. Death Cab does a wonderful job interacting with the crowd, telling stories, and even joking around. Ben Gibbard (the vocalist) asked if anyone knew Garth Brooks, and if they did, ask him to please cover I Will Follow You Into The Dark so that he and the rest of the band, can send their kids to college (though, I don’t think he’ll have a problem doing that without aid from Garth). Even if you only know a couple Death Cab songs, you really need to go see them live, it will be 100% worth it.

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10) Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Where to even begin? This was more of a life experience opposed to a concert. Stephen and I had been planning on going to this show since it was announced, and goddamn am I glad I went. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I was buzzing pretty good on PBR during their set, and that honestly made it all the more powerful. For those of you not familiar with GSY!BE, they are a canadian post-rock instrumental/experimental band. GSY!BE is an eight piece band that has a full time projectionist that travels with them, and he ran 3 different projectors that played over the music, for a truly unique experience. I visually remember one 8 minute song just consisting of just two deer eating grass and staring at you. If you were high during their set, it would have been unbelievable. Words can not describe how great they are, but it is important to mention, if you see them, they will be LOUD. This was easily the loudest concert I have ever seen in my life. I can go on and on about describing them, but I think Stephen found the perfect words for Godspeed You! Black Emperor…

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2015 was one hell of a year for live music, from bloody black metal, to experimental instrumental music I saw a little bit of everything this year. We would love to hear your feedback, and/or comment below with a couple of the best bands you saw this previous year. Keep checking back with Four Letter Nerd for more music related articles!

Nerds in Bands: Jamie Pomeroy of Mental Collapse.

Hey punks! Nashville Tennessee has a new punk/hardcore band called Mental Collapse, and they just released their second EP, The Deceiver’s Prophecy. We sat down and talked music, superpowers and Mad Max with their vocalist Jamie.

Mental Collapse

 

4LN – Your band Mental Collapse just released a new EP, The Decievers Prophecy, tell us a little bit about how this project came to be. 
 JP- We’ve been a band for about a year and a half now and this EP is our second release. It’s four songs and an interlude that we started writing after we released our demo last year.  We’ve been playing some of them live and have also held a few back for people to hear on recording first and I think we’re all very pleased with the final product we ended up with.

 

4LN – What bands or artist are your biggest influence?
 JP – As a band we all draw from a lot of different places. Our guitar player Drew loves death metal bands like Nile and Cannibal Corpse but also stuff ranging from Yngwie Malmsteen to Between the Buried and Me. He also plays in a crazy instrumental / ambient prog-rock band called Muir. Our bassist Jack probably has the widest range of bands that he has heard and is familiar with out of any of us but I know some of his favorites are Neurosis, Black Breath, & Coheed and Cambria. Josh our drummer has always been big into hip-hop (he actually was a rapper for a while) and I know lately he’s been on Earl Sweatshirt and that Illmatic by Nas is one of his favorite albums. Our old guitarist Steven who helped write 2 of the songs on the EP actually used to play in the band Overcome from Arizona and I think that sound came through with his writing, so maybe some Living Sacrifice influence there. I try not to say “we’re a band and we sound like this other band” but I also know how annoying it is when people say that their band doesn’t sound like anything else, so I try not to do that either.

 

For me, I try to always read the lyrics of bands and artists that I like. One thing that I wish more people did was buy an actual copy of an album, sit down on their bed and spin it all the way through while reading the lyric sheet. It’s 2015 and it’s easy to just save new stuff on your Spotify each week and say “oh that’s good” but never really dive into WHY that music is good (no judgement, I’m guilty of this too). I guess I just want to take the time to see what the person had to say through their lyrics. My two favorite bands overall are The Gaslight Anthem and Death Cab for Cutie, but as far as the world of music that we are in I would say All Out War, Converge, and Bitter End are three bands that have influenced my writing. Inspiration for lyrics just comes from whatever is laying heavy on me.

 

4LN – Does Mental Collapse have any touring plans on the horizon? 
 JP – As of right now we have a show November 3rd with Cult Leader and Cove here in Nashville and another in December that should be announced soon. No tour plans at this point but we are trying to do another run as soon as we can. This is my last semester of school and we plan on doing some traveling once I’m done.

 

Cult Leader

Stephen Andrew and I will be at this show, come hangout with us.

 

4LN – If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why? 
 JP – Without a doubt it would be the ability to teleport. The thought of never having to worry about driving/parking ever again is really nice. I would probably use it to see as much of the world as I could and also to visit my friends who live far away whenever I wanted to. Plus I mean, if you can teleport nobody is gonna be able to hit you in a fight.

 

4LN – What is the most Nerdy thing about you? 
JP – Probably the fact that whatever I get into, I dive in 100% and try to learn every little thing about it that I can.  Whether it be a sport, an album, a tv show, a video game, a movie, whatever. Right now the NFL season is in full swing so I’m pretty heavily invested in my fantasy team. I like to “nerd out” on NFL talk whenever I find someone else that likes to keep up with the NFL. I will also say that as an organization the NFL is a mess right now and has a lot of issues that need to be addressed, but I try not to let that ruin my love of football. That last sentence is proof that I’m a nerd.

 

4LN – Let’s talk football for a minute, I’m a huge Raiders fan (Editor’s note: Bill does not speak for the entirety of 4LN, we do not all support The Raiders), and we recently released an article about NFL teams and Superheroes. Jeff mentioned that The Raiders are a lot like The Fantastic Four. I know you are a Titans fan, so what comic character (or team) do they remind you of? 
 JP – I definitely enjoyed that article. First Titans player that comes to mind is Jurrell Casey as The Thing. Look up a picture of him if you aren’t familiar. Not really sure who else we’ve got that fits. Are there any Hawaiian or Samoan superheroes? If there are I would like to think that they would be Marcus Mariota. I could maybe see our former head coach (now Rams head coach) Jeff Fisher as Commissioner Jim Gordon. They look pretty similar, they’re both usually under a lot of pressure but have an answer when they are called upon. Commissioner Gordon could even be kind of like Batman’s coach? Maybe a stretch. I’m sure some guy will rip me apart in the comments for this.

 

4LN – Imagine for a minute that you are on tour. You are completely out of food, and stuck at a rest stop. If you were a hotdog, would you eat yourself? 
 JP – That is a tough call because I am not that big on hot dogs. I tend to think gas station taquitos are a lot more edible than gas station hot dogs and I’m assuming that this is a gas station hot dog if we are talking about tour. So I’m going to say that I would not eat myself if I were the hotdog, I would wait until we got rolling at the rest stop and could make it to a gas station which hopefully would have an Arby’s or KFC attached. The Tornados (taquitos) at the gas station Love’s are actually really good and good for you.

 

4LN – What is an album you think everyone should listen to once in their life? 
JP – The easy answer here would definitely be Plans by Death Cab or The ’59 Sound by Gaslight because they “changed my life” or whatever but I’m gonna have to go with Trapped In the Closet (Chapters 1-12) by R. Kelly. I really haven’t listened to any of those since around 2006 and I just read that they’re on chapter 33 now but I may give it a listen later today. I don’t really think you should listen because you will enjoy it but rather to prove to yourself that you can make it all the way through and tell someone else that you did. When I was in 6th grade I remember the radio station that I listened to playing those in the morning while I was getting ready for school which I still think is insane.

 

4LN – Now, I know you are a huge Mad Max fan, so what is your favorite film in the franchise and
why?
JP – Man, it’s always been Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior but I honestly think Fury Road might have beaten it this year. It was probably the most that I’ve enjoyed seeing a movie in the theatre since seeing Gravity in the IMAX. George Miller did a perfect job of revisiting his series with a lot of the same elements that made the first three films so special. There’s a lot of speculation as to whether the movie takes place before, after, or during the original movies and there are some pretty interesting reads out there about that.

 

4LN – And. Last but not least, how long would you and the rest of Mental Collapse last in the Thunderdome? 
 I think Me vs. Josh would be a pretty even fight, we’re about the same size but I definitely have a good 20 pounds on him so I think that would help me. Not really sure about how well Drew can fight but he did shove me really hard once in the middle of a show when I stepped on his cable so maybe he could shove someone into a spike or something. Jack is a really chill/nice person so I don’t know how good he would be at killing people in a cage but if his girlfriend Katie was in danger I know he would go for the chainsaw.

 

Be sure to pick up Mental Collapse’s The Deceiver’s Prophecy on Bandcamp, or come hangout with them at The End in Nashville on Tuesday November 3rd.

Hip-Hop Batman: An Interview with Vancouver Rapper Tom MacDonald

4LN: So the whole reason we’re even talking right now is because you made a badass short-film music video, that is essentially a Batman fan-film. Where did your love of Batman start?
Tom MacDonald: Hell yeah. I’m not exactly sure where it started, to be honest. I’ve loved Batman for as long as I can remember. When I was kid I can remember dressing up as Batman on Halloween EVERY year. When I went to the fair or the street market or a birthday party – if there was a person doing face paint – I got the Batman emblem painted on my face. I had the clothes and the action figures and the video-games and the bed-sheets and all the bullshit. I watched all the cartoons and the movies. I just loved him. My Dad is a big Batman fan as well, so, I guess that’s probably where it started. He passed it down to me. I feel like I’ve got a lot in common with Bruce Wayne, so, that’s probably why it stuck.

4LN: What about hip-hop? When did you first discover hip-hip music?
TM: I’ve been writing poems since I was a child. My Grandfather was a brilliant poet. I think writing was just in my blood. One day I was on the main strip in a small town where I used to live and my Dad gave me five bucks to spend in a pawn shop. The only thing that five dollars would by me was a CD, so, I started digging around in crates. I found 2 Pac’s “All Eyes On Me” album. I had no idea who he was. I had never really heard hip-hop music before. It was a double-disk album and I figured that was probably the best bang for my buck, so, I bought it. I listened to that record for, like, a year straight. 2 Pac and Marilyn Manson. For a year. The poetryI had been writing turned into rock songs, but, I realized I didn’t have the right voice for that genre. Not long after that realization, Eminem’s “Real Slim Shady” hit MTV and I was like “Yo…this guy has blonde hair…I have blonde hair…this guy has blue eyes…I have blue eyes…he looks like me…he sounds like me…I could do that”. I started turning my poems into raps. I bought a computer and a mic and started givin’ ‘er shit.

4LN: Do you remember the exact moment when you realized that you wanted to seriously pursue rapping?
TM: I’ve never done anything in my life half-assed. If I’m going to work – I’m going to work harder than anyone. If Im going to party – Im going to be the last one awake. If I’m going to drive – I’m going to press the pedal against the floor the hardest. It’s just the way I operate. When I had the whole “Eminem realization” that I spoke of (previously) – I was like 14 years old. Strangely enough, I was a professional wrestler at that time. Like, the WWE/WWF stuff. I wrestled professionally across Canada for almost 6 years. When I was 19, I got out of the wrestling business. I don’t know if I fell out of love with it or what the fuck happened, but, something happened. I’d been writing and recording music the entire time I was wrestling, but, I wasn’t releasing it. I guess I kept it to myself because I wasn’t thinking…”Im going to be a rapper”…I was still in my “I’m going to be a pro wrestler” mind-set. When I stopped wrestling I was just sitting on my ass back at the house, twiddling my thumbs and whatever. I just had an epiphany. Like, a real one. I had all this pent up creativity with no outlet…and, you know. I said to myself, “I’m going to do this music shit like no one’s ever done this music shit before.” Best decision I ever made. It’s saved my life on more occasions then I care to remember.

4LN: How did you initially conceive this idea for this short-film? Like, were you just watch The Dark Knight and thought, “I could do that…”?
TM: Haha, no, absolutely not. As big of a fan as I am of Christian Bale’s Batman – I can’t give him credit for inspiring the film. All of my music videos are short-films. I’ve been a cowboy, an old man, a janky fight promoter, a criminal, an astronaut, a soldier with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. I just like to do things that way. I love film. I love characters. I just…love it all. I don’t understand why a rapper would want to be a rapper in a music video, you know? Adding visuals into the equation is a big deal. It’s your fucking chance, man. Its your chance to show people – “Look, I’m not just some bullshit rapper. Im not just some guy that rhymes words a whole bunch. I can do other things”. Anyway, I’d just been playing all these different roles and I was like…what’s next? What do I do? I’ve been living out my fantasies through film for a while…who else do I want to be? WHAT else do I want to be? I was down to my last God damn dollar for videos and I was talking to my Dad about it on the phone one night. I was on my way to a meeting or a party or something and he was said “I think a Batman video would be ultra cool”. It hit me like a fuckin’ punch in the face. I was in Los Angeles at the time and it was going to take place in a dessert and stuff. Long story short, I made it back to Vancouver and put the plan into action in an alternate location. All of a sudden I was fucking Batman, dude. Thanks Pops! Ps. Im still puzzled at why the hell I didn’t think of that first. Sometimes Dad’s have a way of making the seemingly impossible seem attainable. Mine does, anyway. Thank God.
 
4LN: I was really impressed with how the villain was portrayed. To me, he felt like a blend of Two-Face, Penguin, and Victor Zsasz. Am I close, or way off? 
TM: Hahahahahahaha! Man. I actually just laughed out loud at “Penguin”. Why did you get that vibe? Because he’s chubby? Hahaha! Im seriously dying right now. I have to show him this interview. Honestly, though…the villain was just Two Face to me. To me, the whole film is sort-of a steam punk/renegade/alternate-universe Batman thing. Bruce Wayne has long hair and face tattoos and nose rings. Batman doesn’t always make the right decision. Two-Face is a manic-depressive, self-mutilating psychopath. So, ya. The villain is Two Face. Just not how he’s typically portrayed. Hats off to the Victor Zsasz comparison, though. For some reason that never crossed my mind, but, I’m glad you put me on to it. Definitely can see where you’re coming from. ALSO – Shout out to my road dog Brandon Hart for playing a hell of a Two Face and kicking my ass in that needle-ridden alleyway! Love ya bro.
 
4LN: One of the things that fascinated me was that you did all of this yourself. These are your tracks, and you wrote the plot and made all the set pieces, as well as directed the video and acted in it. That seems like quite the labor of love. Why was it so important to you to take on so many roles for this project?
TM: Yeah, man. I did it all myself. Thank you for making note of that. I appreciate it. Ya, it’s an extremely heavy load, but, sometimes when you love something…you just fuckin’ do it! I’ve always been at the helm when it comes to my creative ventures. I just feel more comfortable that way. Have you ever relied on someone that you cared about and had them drop the ball? It sucks. You have to be pissed off at your friend for letting you down. It’s terrible. At least if you take it all on yourself, the success of the project rests solely on your own shoulders. If the project fails – that’s on you. You beat yourself up over it. As shitty as that is…it’s MUCH better than beating your friend up when their efforts fall short. It’s the age old saying, “If you want something done right then do it yourself”.
 
4LN: Finally, what do you have coming up that we should keep our eyes out for?
TM: Lots more videos on the way. Lots more music on the way. This “Batman video” features three songs; “Hourglass”, “Who I Am” and “Bout It”. “Hourglass” is the first single off my next album, coming out this year. “Who I Am” and “Bout It” are two singles off my mix-tape, also coming this year. So, you know. Be on the look-out for my album and the preceding mix-tape. Additionally, I have a ton of already-released stuff that you should probably keep your eye out for. Tons of other videos and music can be found at www.whoismrmac.comwww.facebook.com/TheRealMrMac, www.youtube.com/AllstarTWest and on Instagram/Twitter @TheRealMrMac. Get at me!
 
4LN: This next section is our Lightning Round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind…
Who was the best Robin: Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Damien Wayne, Stephanie Brown, or Carrie Kelley?
TM: As long as it isn’t Chris O’Donell I’m cool with it.
4LN: Is there any other comic character would you love to make a short-film of?
TM: I can’t cheat on Batman.
 
4LN: The best Arkham video game is…
TM: Arkham Asylum was bad ass.
 
4LN: Who do you think Bruce Waynes favorite rapper would be?
TM: Tom MacDonald.
 
4LN: Last question, who do you think the most underrated Batman villain is and why?
TM: I want to get super deep on you and say that Batman was Batman’s most underrated villain because he sort-of was, wasn’t he? Haha. But, the first thing that came to my mind was Phantasm. She was never given the same respect that Joker or Riddler or Two Face or Mr. Freeze or Penguin or Bane or Croc or Scarecrow got, was she? Maybe because she wasn’t truly evil…she meant well…but it ended up being a massive pain in Batman’s ass a few times. That’s the worst type of person! The ones that mean well do the most damage, sometimes. She was Bruce Wayne’s ex-girlfriend, man! We all have an ex-girlfriend-arch-enemy! That’s the most evil other fucker on the planet! UNDERRATED!!
My thanks to Tom for chatting with me! Make sure to check him out on all his sites he mentioned and jam his music LOUD!

4LN Album Review: “Tales from the Deadside” by A Sound of Thunder

A couple of months ago we did a Nerds in Bands article with Mr. Josh Schwartz of Washington D.C. metal band A Sound of Thunder. I became aware of the band because Josh and I are both in a Valiant Comics Fanpage on Facebook and he’d posted about how the band was doing a concept album based around the story of the Valiant Comics character Shadowman. Being that Shadowman is one of my favorite Valiant characters (edged out narrowly by Woody, from Quantum & Woody), and since I’m such a big fan of metal, I’ve been really excited about hearing “Tales from the Deadside”, and I can assure you, it does not disappoint.

Tales from the Deadside (Music Inspired by Shadowman) cover art

The album kicks off with the haunting and extremely groovy Children of the Dark. There’s this opening guitar riff that’s almost sludgy and it picks up with the choruses. It’s so good that you just can’t help but nod your head throughout the entire track.

A couple tracks in we come to Can’t Go Back, which in my opinion showcases the real power and versatility of lead singer Nina Osegueda. She hits some crazy high notes like she’s Mariah f***ing Carey, but what’s really amazing is that she can then she immediately turn that into an intimidatingly gravely roar like she’s Wendy O. Williams. The track Punk Mambo is perfect example of what I mean. It’s fast and chaotic, and held together by Nina’s ability to sing, quite literally, all over the place.

Make no mistake, this concept album is no gimmick. ASOT is an incredibly talented and eclectic band. You’ll hear tons of different sounds on TFTD, even some sexy saxophone, which is nod to the sax-playing title character, but also just works really, really well on the record.

Let me close with this… If you’ve read Shadowman, you need to jam this record. Even if metal isn’t your thing, you should at the very least give it one spin. Who knows, you just might end up really digging it. If you just like metal but haven’t ever heard of Shadowman, I genuinely hope this will pique your interest in the character because his mythology is amazing. Also, to boil ASOT down to a single genre, they’re a straightforward metal band. There’s some epic metal stuff in there, and some sludgy stuff, even the occasional thrashy riff or two, but overall, they just play no-nonsense, no fluff metal better than a lot of bands out there right now. I’ll even go so far as to tell you that even though this album has been out for only a little over a week, I’ve already listened to it more than I have Iron Maiden’s new album, which has been out for almost a month. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

Check out A Sound of Thunder’s Official Website for all the links to where you can get a hold of their new album, and make sure to play it loud!