Rock ‘n’ Roll ain’t dead, it’s… Print E-mail
Written by Rich Hobson   
Saturday, 03 February 2018 04:20

Despite the sheer brilliance of releases over the past three years (I mean – God Damn’s ‘Vultures’, Eureka Machines’ ‘Brain Waves’, Gojira’s ‘Magma’ and Mastodon’s ‘Emperor of Sand’ – and that’s just the surface!) it didn’t take a week of this one for the first ‘rock is dead’ take to pop up online. Of course, as always, it came from somebody whose investment in the scene largely lies on proclaiming whatever trash band is being pushed by big-budget advertising firms to be ‘the saviour of rock’. Well, that or Gene Simmons, anyway.

 

But… it wasn’t unexpected. In fact, so anticipatory were we at Über Rock, I went ahead and asked almost every single band I spoke to for during 2017 what rock n roll meant to them – after all, they’d know, wouldn’t they? Here are the fruits of our labour for the year…

 

Scott Lee Andrews (Exit_International/Jaws of Deaf/Mutation)

 

 

Scott brought Exit_International back in 2017, as well as releasing new music with his solo project Jaws of Deaf and Mutation.

 

A reason to stay alive. It keeps me alive, there’s something undeniable, feeling that there’s something that I haven’t given to the world. It’s not ego – but it’s an energy.”

 

Jim Beck (Cassels)

 

Cassels dropped their debut record, ‘Epithet’, in October 2017. The band will tour the UK with Youth Man in February 2018.

 

That’s a big, amorphous question. I’d immediately get hung up on the definition of rock 'n' roll – like is it Chuck Berry? That’s a real problem I find with this kind of thing, like I could say that Cassels are a rock band, but then you might think we sound like ACDC or Radiohead – bands on completely different ends of the spectrum. Within minute spectrums, it ends up being the same thing.

 

For me, it’s always been about expression and catharsis. If I’ve experienced something that left an impression on me, it’s a release to get it out. It does something psychologically, helping you to come to terms with things. What I love about writing in particular, is that I really enjoy seeing my own thoughts articulated, like you’re talking to yourself. It’s release and catharsis, it’s become essential for my day to day life.

 

Ales Campanelli (The Erkonauts)

 

The Erkonauts dropped their second album, ‘I Shall Forgive’, in November.

 

 

“Rock ‘n’ roll to me is everything. This is how we live our lives. Visiting venues that we recognise from ‘70s tours and seeing particular tour t-shirts and ending up almost on your knees almost crying because it’s that cool to be doing what our idols did. It’s fun, it’s good, it brings out the best in people.

 

Brett Campbell (Pallbearer)

 

Pallbearer dropped ‘Heartless’ in March 2017 and opened the main stage of Damnation in November.

 

It’s such a huge palette that you can do whatever you set your mind to, within the rock n roll framework. Which is why Crowbar and The Beach Boys came out of the same framework – there’s so many things you can do. It’s a simple set up – guitar, drums, vocals, bass and you can do anything. That’s what we try to embrace as a band, not being tied in to a single idea.

 

Paul Catten (Barrabus)

 

In 2017 Barrabus dropped a stunningly noisy self-titled record and blasted apart venues throughout the UK.

 

It used to be about getting drunk and playing some rowdy heavy metal music, jumping about onstage and getting more drunk after. Now it’s a lengthy drive, playing our phones backstage and then playing some music live onstage and a packet of crisps at the service station on the way home! I’ve seen both sides of the rock n roll coin – the first side was more fun but now we’ve got hold of ourselves!

 

Manuel Gagneux (Zeal and Ardor)

 

2017 saw not only the wide-spread release of Zeal and Ardor’s ‘Devil iIs Fine’, but also the band’s first ever shows. The second record is due in 2018.

 

 

Rock 'n' roll for me… is not listening to others’ criticisms and doing what you want, being determined.

 

Riley Gale (Power Trip)

 

Power Trip smashed 2017 hard with the record ‘Nightmare Logic’. They tour with Trivium, Code Orange and Venom Prison in April.

 

Rock ‘n’ roll to me is playing loud and fast, doing it by your own rules. Being your own person, it doesn’t matter how you sound as long as you are true to yourself. Looking out for number one and being happy for yourself.

 

Dan Harris (The Raven Age)

 

The Raven Age started 2017 by supporting Anthrax, before releasing ‘Darkness Will Rise’ in March and playing Download in June.

 

Creativity. Creating something from nothing, bringing people together from nowhere. Every massive rock star that everybody has ever loved started out as a kid in their bedroom. That's a staggering thought. I'm not into Rock N Roll as being pissed up, taking drugs and partying, I'm intrigued by how people create stuff and what they create.

 

Mark Helymun (Suicide Silence)

 

Suicide Silence had a trying 2017, with the polarising reaction to their self-titled record fracturing their fanbase. Nonetheless, the band perservered…

 

Rock ‘n’ roll is a state of mind. It’s complete freedom to express yourself in the way you see fit. Not everyone wears denim, leather jackets, cowboy boots or whatever. Everybody does their own thing, what makes you rock n roll is doing it your own way and making others want to be involved. I think the rock n roll dream, right now in 2017, it’s in a transitional phase. Right now is the time when it is growing and everyone can agree that it’s difficult to see which direction hard rock, heavy metal, whatever is going to go. We’re not the only band making changes and doing different things. Right now it’s a time of testing, of people following what they do. The spirit of rock n roll is getting stronger and growing.

 

 

Liam Lever (LTNT)

 

LTNT supported Seether in October 2017, in addition to frequent UK appearances. They release the EP ‘Yode’ in 2018.

 

Nothing. I don’t care about that. Whatever it was, is dead. It was hitting it hard, not giving a fuck, and that’s what we do, but I wouldn’t call it rock ‘n’ roll. Fuck it – rock ‘n’ roll is fuck it.

 

Kevin Martin (Candlebox)

 

Candlebox landed in the UK in January 2017, fresh off the release of ‘Disappearing in Airports’.

 

Anarchy. That’s what rock n roll is. Punk rock, rock n roll, hip-hop, blues – especially blues – these are musicians who weren’t allowed to play music and said “fuck it, I’m gonna play”. Running the risk of being lynched, murdered, beat up in the South... I don’t know what your race issues are in Europe, but in the States it has been a long battle and heartbreaking. For musicians like Hendrix to tour in the South in the 60s, or Muddy Waters to be playing some of the venues he played, running the risk of being killed for it, that’s anarchy. That’s rock n roll. It’s going against what the mainstream believes.

 

I don’t think Kanye is rock n roll at all. There are very few hip-hop artists in the popular aspects of the genre, Drake for instance, that embody rock n roll. It’s all about that debaucherous side – it’s about the money, it’s about “I’m gonna get paid”. Rihanna fits into that category, but then I look at somebody like Alicia Keys and I’m like “she’s rock n roll” because she’s not wearing make-up, she’s not wearing what they want her to wear or making the music they want her to make, she does what she wants to do. She’s not gonna be bullied by the system – that’s rock n roll. If you’re doing it in the hopes that the mainstream is gonna love you and you’ll have shit tonnes of fans, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. Rock N Roll is about making the music you want to make. You live, shit, eat, breathe music.

 

Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft)

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft dropped two records in 2017 – ‘Magick Rites and Spells’ in January (a collection of B-sides and unrecorded tracks) and ‘Sound of the Wind’ in October.

 

For me, rock ‘n’ roll is enjoying life. It’s not being ashamed to be yourself, rock n roll – and blues as well, because it comes from the blues – is about crying your heart out and then partying, telling people “yes we’re going to hell, but we’re enjoying life.

 

Charles Michael Parks (All Them Witches)

 

All Them Witches released their new album, ‘Sleeping Trough The War’, in February 2017 and did what they do best – toured the hell out of it.

 

Rock ‘n’ roll is exactly what we do. It’s always been the goal – rock is the mother of it all. There’s no point in having genres past that, unless you’re after something more specific – which we’re not. It’s nice to pull from the different parts of the blanket, but it’s more important to just be honest, which a lot of bands aren’t. It’s not about groupies or drugs; we’re not into that. You have to get onstage and feel exactly what you’re singing about, not having a façade where you live something you don’t believe. You get like 80 years, why waste it pretending?

 

 

Michael Starr (Steel Panther)

 

Steel Panther dropped ‘Lower The Bar’ in February and also played Download in June. They toured the UK and Ireland last month.

 

Everything. Rock ‘n’ roll and music means everything – I mean, obviously I have a life outside the band, but even in my outside life of Steel Panther, it’s music. I’m writing, recording and singing… doing it. It’s my lifeline to life.

 

CJ Wildheart (Solo/The Wildhearts)

 

CJ dropped his third solo album, ‘Blood’, in October 2017, in addition to playing shows with The Wildhearts at the start of the year.

 

Rock ‘n’ roll to me… is growing old disgracefully. You’ve got to stay young at heart – that’s really important, you’ve got to be a little bit naughty.

 

Coady Willis/Jared Warren (Big Business)

 

Big Business toured the UK twice in 2017, headlining dates throughout the country in addition to a Damnation Festival appearance.

 

Coady: The thing that always comes back to me is that line in the MC5 song, ‘Kick out the Jams’ – “let me be who I am”. Be who you are, being okay, getting together and...

 

Jared: Having everybody cheer you on!

 

Coady: Well yeah, but its everybody in the room, being free to be who you are and not plugged in to some robotic role that society expects you to be. It’s that thing that’s outside of your job, outside of your church, whatever it is that you’re into. It’s going to it and being yourself for a second.

 

Jared: I would add to that… I’d agree with that, but I’d say there’s also something to be said about pissing off the parents. It’s freedom to be you, a lit bit of gratification that it annoys those that wield power over you, giving you the power to jam those cogs, throw a wrench in the works.

 

Coady: Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

 

Jared: Exactly!

 

 

Owen Wilson and Andy Richards (Nomasta)

 

Leeds trio Nomasta released their debut album, ‘House Of The Tiger King’, in November.

 

Owen: It opened me up as a person. I used to be quite shy and introverted and I still can be, but the second I get behind a guitar with the boys behind me, I’m out of my shell. It helps people express themselves – if you can’t express yourself at home or work, music will let you do that. It’s very inclusive.

 

Andy: It’s a big family and a privilege to be part of it. I remember my first trip to Donnington, getting through the gate and seeing Corrosion of Conformity and seeing a sea of people, thinking “I feel at home, I’m a part of this”. Fast forward to today and nothing’s changed – I can’t wait to gig and play with my best friends. It’s an opportunity to remove yourself. I feel the same way about rock n roll and heavy metal now as I did when I was a kid and I first got ‘Number Of The Beast’ on tape. It’ll never lose the appeal.

 

Jimmy Wizard (Higher Power)

 

Higher Power dropped their debut, ‘Soul Structure’, in May 2017. The band are touring the UK in Feb 2018 and will play Download Festival this June.

 

Getting in a van, playing with your friends and not giving a fuck about how people tell you to live your life. Doing what you want to do. That’s it to me.

 

Chelsea Wolfe

 

Chelsea Wolfe released ‘Hiss Spun’ in September 2017, a stunning and atmospheric slab of progressive doom/alt brilliance.

 

That’s a big question! It has many definitions, but you know it when you hear it. When people say rock n roll is dead, I think they’re just looking in the wrong places. Some of the overproduced stuff that gets put out as rock n roll really isn’t it, but there are a lot of great, raw bands out there. That’s what it is for me – that rawness and honesty.

 

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