Archive | May, 2012

Satellites Fall like ‘Lines on the Road’

21 May

Satellites Fall (Photo by Tracy Dupuis)

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Combining elements of indie, Brit and alternative rock, Satellites Fall are new to the local music scene but have already made a name for themselves.

In fact, they were semi-finalists in this year’s 95.5 WBRU Rock Hunt, and were named rocksposure.com’s, “Artist of the Month,” for February 2012.

Also, Valentine’s Day brought along their debut release, “Lines on the Road,” a five-track EP under the label Midday Records. It can be downloaded for free for a limited time at satellitesfall.bandcamp.com.

According to vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist, Mark Charron, their first experience in the studio transformed their sound.

“We were a straight guitar band but when we got into the studio and started analyzing, it turned out that we could put more keys, piano and strings in,” he said. “We put a lot of layers in there and it sounded more full and much more interesting. We tried to shake things up a bit.”

To lay down tracks, the band contacted their fellow musician buddy and Berklee College of Music graduate, Dave Newman, who owns a studio in his home just outside of Boston. Newman didn’t produce the album, yet Charron said he encouraged them to tackle new approaches and contributed to their overall development in a major way.

“He was a pretty big influence and is very good at layers, loops and things of that nature,” said Charron. “He really challenged us and that’s what we really took from the sessions.”

While one of the songs on the EP has a solemn tone, others are more jovial. Charron said Snow Patrol, Radiohead, and U2 are among core influences.

“Some songs are happier than others, but our lyrics have a lot to do with personal strife and self reflection,” he said. “There are some songs on there that are about relationships between people and to God.”

Of the songs on the EP, Charron has two favorites. He said “Sundial” is the most personal for him, as it offers listeners an introspective vibe.  He also called “Servitude” one of the best of the bunch.

“I love singing it,” he said.

Initially, he and guitarist Davey Moore handled most of the writing. Now, it’s more collaborative, with drummer Luke Riskalla and guitarist Brian Bardsley adding their input.

The music first took shape in 2000 when Charron and Moore were studying at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Previous to forming, Moore was the drummer for hardcore band Fall From Grace

“They were very popular,” Charron said. “Staind opened for them.”

By 2002, Moore and Charron began recording on four track recorders and other “make-shift equipment.  Soon after, they graduated and pursued full-time careers.

However, they found old tapes they recorded about five years later and decided to rework and fine-tune their material.

“We started getting together and writing more music,” Charron said. “Eventually, we invested in real equipment and kept moving forward with it.”

At this point, they have a catalog of at least 50 songs. They plan on revisiting the studio to lay down more tracks and release a second album within a year.

“We’ve literally said, ‘we can’t write any more music right now,’” Charron said. “It’s time to get back into recording.”

Moreover, they are looking for a bassist. Currently, they fill in the rhythm section through the help of keyboards, as well as technology, including sounds they contrive via a laptop.

For now, they are pleased with their newfound sound. They feel their album, as well as their band name, echo their lucid tone.

“Our sound is very light and we think our name speaks to that,” Charron said.

To contact the band or learn more about them, visit their website at satellitesfall.com or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/SatellitesFall.

The Mystix and their ‘Mighty Tone’

14 May

The Mystix

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

After more than a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Americana Roots ensemble, The Mystix, will be kicking off a 10-show national tour this Thursday (May 17) evening at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center (The Z) for a three-hour show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

With a lineup of accomplished musicians and a catalog of catchy songs that pay tribute to influential blues, gospel and country artists, the “Roots Ramble Tour” will showcase the bands fourth studio album, “Mighty Tone.” The album features guest artists, such as harp legend Jerry Portnoy, who has toured and recorded with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, and will join The Mystix onstage throughout the tour.

“He’s a master showman,” says Jo Lily, guitarist and lead vocalist of The Mystix. “Just to hear his stories of being on the road with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton is great. It’s going to be a very down to the ground show in sort of an organic way, as opposed to an electric rock and roll performance.”

Lily, formerly of Boston’s Duke & the Drivers, says the 12-track album is earning stellar reviews in Europe. Further, Boston radio stations like WUMB, as well as The River, are giving it steady airplay.

“We’re really excited about the new record,” he says. “The music is different in a better way. We’re all very proud of it and feel it’s our best work.”

Recorded in Saugus, Mass., at B.K. Studios, the album is a mix of originals and covers. While it took the band a year to prepare for recording, they were able to lay down the tracks in less than four days.

Also, the album marks the first in which Lily was able to star as a producer. He credited engineers Joe Thomas, Tim Phillips, as well Bobby B. Keyes, guitarist for The Mystix, for making the process smooth.

“It was great because we were all very organized,” says Lily.

Aside from Lily, The Mystix all-star veteran lineup consists of legendary artists who have performed and recorded with some of the countries most respected musicians. While Keyes has worked with artists such as Robin Thicke and Jerry Lee Lewis and has written songs for art Mary J. Blige and Li’l Wayne, drummer Marty Richards has played alongside Gary Burton, Duke Robillard, J. Geils Band, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

Moreover, bassist Marty Ballou has worked with John Hammond, Edgar Winter, as well as Robillard; and keyboardist Tom West has shared stages with Susan Tedeschi and Peter Wolf.

Additionally, the band will be joined by Kevin Barry, a lap steel/dobro player, who just wrapped up a tour with Ray LaMontagne; percussionist Dennis McDermott, who has played with Roseanne Cash and Mark Cohn; and fiddle player Matt Leavenworth, who has worked with the John Lincoln Wright Band.

“It’s a great joy to be able to be creative with such good players and have people around you that support that effort,” says Lily. “We all bring different ideas to the table about how to approach new material. It’s a lot of fun and we’re grateful to be able to do it.”

Aside from the show at The Z, the band will perform at New England venues, including the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, Mass., on June 1 and Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., on June 12th, among other venues.

In the near future, they hope to head to Europe.

“We’re itching to go, so we’ll see,” Lily says.

To purchase general admission tickets for Thursday’s show at The Z, which will allow guests to step through their red stage door on Spring Street and find the stage transformed into an intimate concert club complete with a full bar, visit zeiterion.org or call 508-994-2900. Tickets are just $20.

“Like” The Mystix on Facebook and get a free download of their new single, “Mighty Love” and visit themystix.com for more information.

Prospect Hill: Making an ‘Impact’

10 May

Prospect Hill

 

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

The hard rocking quintet Prospect Hill have climbed the peaks of musical hardship and are basking in the valley of stardom, as they signed a recording contract with Carved Records in April.

But, that’s not all. “Come Alive,” the first single from their third and latest album, Impact, is being played on radio stations across the country. The song has also been licensed by ESPN for the 2012 National Hot Rod Association season and was listed on Amazon’s hot new rock singles chart, making it to the top 10 within just a few days of its release.

“It seems like it’s doing really well and people are taking a liking to it,” said drummer Mark Roberge. “‘Come Alive’ is really about people who aren’t living their lives and just getting caught up in sh*t with relationships and work and are not taking advantage of everyday they are given on this earth.”

For Prospect Hill, who hail from Merrimack Valley, an area just 20 minutes north of Boston, living life to the fullest is what they are all about and being on the road is one of their favorite ways to spend time. Since 2009, they’ve performed an average of 100 shows per year, ranging from throughout the Northeast, East Coast, Midwest and even California.

On one of their most recent tours, they especially enjoyed traveling from gig to gig in their van, affectionately nicknamed, “Vanny DeVito,” as well as their trailer, “Trailer Swift.”

“We always seem to have a lot of fun on the road,” said vocalist Adam Fithian.

Of course, being five best friends might have something to do with it. Bassist Edgar Troncoso described them as being, “really close.”

“You miss your family when you’re on the road but it’s not too bad because you have a bunch of people with you that are not only friends, they’re family,” Troncoso said.

Being a tight-knit group has made the trek to success more fun than work. Nevertheless, they remember the days before they had access to quality instruments and recording equipment.

“When we first started out, we were playing hand-me-down instruments and using our mom and dad’s stereo equipment to amplify our guitars,” said Roberge. “We literally had nothing.”

Realizing they could save money through self-promotion, they created an online presence in 2005 and began building a fan base. Once they acquired enough money, they bought a PA system and eventually established their own label by 2009.

These days, they are being courted by multiple record labels and rubbing shoulders with A-list producers, including Anthony J. Resta, who has worked with artists such as Collective Soul and Duran Duran. Resta also produced Prospect Hill’s, Impact.

“Working with him was amazing,” said Troncoso. “He’s very creative and thinks outside the box. That’s why the CD has it’s own kind of flavor. He’s a ninja on the keyboard.”

Resta isn’t the only well-known name the band has been in contact with lately. In the last few years, they’ve toured with acts such as Alice Cooper, Anthrax, Buckcherry, Fall Out Boy, Korn, Hinder, Stone Sour, Hailstorm, Sevendust, and CageTime, to name a handful.

Further, the band’s first full-length album, For the Lovers the Haters in the Dead, released in 2007, featured Godsmack’s guitarist Tony Rombola. He performed on the song, “S.O.E.”

“We all grew up in the same area so we have a connection,” said Roberge. “It was like having a friend on the album. It was really cool.”

According to Roberge, other “really cool” incidents have happened since then. In 2010, they were named High Times Magazine’s Best Independent Act of 2010 and performed the High Times Magazine Award Showcase in Austin, Texas. Fithian said not only do they feel fortunate to have won, they are also supporters of the decriminalization of marijuana.

“I think the country will change its perception of marijuana because we could turn our financial problems around by making it legal,” he said. “It’s a touchy subject but all in all we’re talking about it in the right context. We’re not saying, ‘Oh, let’s smoke pot.’ It’s about a reform of something that’s been taken out of context by everyone in this country.”

More recently, they were awarded the title of Best Live Act at the 2012 New England Music Awards, which took place at Boston’s Hard Rock Café in February.

“We take a lot of pride in our live shows,” Roberge said. “We go 100 percent no matter how tired or sick we are. We give it all we’ve got.”

To learn more about the band, visit their website at prospecthillmusic.com.

3 Inches of Blood pump through U.S.

1 May

3 Inches of Blood

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

With the release of their fifth album this spring, it’s apparent that Canadian heavy metal band, 3 Inches of Blood, congealed their sound by listening to prominent acts that were born during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, UFO and Rainbow.

In fact, the five-member band said the title of their latest album, Long Live Heavy Metal, was inspired by Rainbow’s 1978 album, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.

For 3 Inches of Blood vocalist Cam Pipes, who said they recorded the album in Vancouver with producer Terri Murray, celebrating the music is what it’s all about. Through their music and live performances, Pipes said fans and newcomers alike can expect “high octane, no frills heavy metal.”

“We keep it simple, but we put on an energetic show,” he said. “We’re not going to fool you with unnecessary theatrics. We let the music speak for itself. It’s what we love to do and we’re able to convey that, so our fans get into it, as well.”

While he’s big into metal, Pipes doesn’t listen to his own music. According to him, once he finishes recording, the only time he hears his songs is when he’s gigging.

“I’ll listen intently when we’re mixing, but I tend to not even listen to the recording if I don’t have to,” he said. “I’d rather listen to what other people are doing.”

But, make no mistake about it. He has a lot of respect for the material he and the band write as a group.

“This is music that we love to play,” Pipes said. “I’ve played lots of different kinds of music over the years but it’s always been a mission of mine to make a living out of it. It’s my career, but it doesn’t feel like work.”

Although Pipes said the way they came up with their band name isn’t particularly interesting, it is humorous, as it stemmed from someone cutting themselves and exaggerating how much blood pooled up.

“Somebody heard those words strung together and said, ‘That would be a good band name,’ and it stuck,” Pipes said. “The more we sat on it, the more confident we felt about it. Once the songs came together, we were like, ‘OK. This really makes sense.’”

Originally formed in 2000, 3 Inches of Blood recently added bassist Byron Stroud, formerly of the band Fear Factory. Though Stroud didn’t appear on the album, he’s been touring with Pipes, as well as the rest of the band, including rhythm and lead guitarist/vocalist Justin Hagberg; lead and rhythm guitarist Shane Clark; and drummer Ash Pearson, since they released Long Live Heavy Metal on March 26.

Also, during the spring, 3 inches of Blood completed a six-week national tour alongside six other metal acts, such as Devil Drivers, Pending Doom and Retched, for the Metal Alliance Tour.

“Most of the bands could pull in a decent headlining tour of their own so I think by combining us the tour was that much bigger,” said Pipes.

After headlining a European tour, they’ll tour the United States in June before heading to their Canadian stomping grounds in July.

“I’m sure we’re going to be super busy through the year,” Pipes said.

To learn more about the band, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/threeinchesofblood.

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