EVERCLEAR * FUEL * TOADIES * AMERICAN HI-FI
Uptown Amphitheatre Charlotte - Saturday June 13
2015 marks the return of Summerland Tour, with Everclear, Fuel, Toadies, and American Hi-Fi, to Uptown Amphitheatre Charlotte on Saturday June 13.
Tickets go on sale Friday March 27 at 10am at LiveNation.com, via the Live Nation app, at the Fillmore Charlotte box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 800-745-3000.
For further details visit www.livenation.com. Presented by Live Nation.
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As familiar as the sound of a jet engine and as visceral as a ride on a speeding motorcycle, Everclear is heavier, darker and more balls-to-the-wall than ever before. And frontman Art Alexakis has never been happier.
Bombastic, hard-driving, generation-spanning rock n’ roll with instantly memorable, sharp-as-hell hooks propel Everclear’s new studio album, Black Is The New Black. Muscular but melodic, this is the sound of a band driven and united by singular, intense purpose. At an average of three-minutes each, the songs rip forward with palpable swagger, supercharged by a mix of autobiographical exorcism and narrative storytelling, from the gut
and throat of Everclear’s singer, guitarist, cofounder and songwriter.
“Hard rock, punk rock, big guitars that swallow me whole – I will never get over that,” says Alexakis, without apology or equivocation. “And this is a very honest recording. No gimmicks. Not many bells and whistles. All the riffs on this record are things that really just resonated with me and the band, musically and lyrically - from the get-go.”
Black Is The New Black is a diverse and timeless sounding collection, without ballads and without nostalgia. This is a heavy guitar record. It’s a throwback to the potent passion and urgent delivery of Everclear’s heralded indie debut (recorded for just $400 back in the day!) and subsequent major label classics, delivered through a modern lens. Across the album, the insistent kick of drummer Sean Winchester, athletic groove of bassist
Freddy Herrera, and ridiculously skilled guitar shred of Davey French join forces behind the storm of giant guitar riffs swinging mightily from song to song. A bit of tasteful keyboards from Josh Crawley add atmospheric punch to songs that could crush a tiny dive bar or destroy the cheap seats in the world’s biggest arena with equal force.
Everclear’s ninth studio album pummels from the get-go, with “Sugar Noise.” It’s an album opener with the same immediacy, and the same immersive feeling, of Rolling Stones “Rocks Off” or Pixies’ “Debaser.” Anchored by a single-note riff, akin to ZZ Top or Jimi Hendrix on meth, it’s a tale of a guy who gets lost in the wilderness of substances. “It's about someone who ends up in the backseat of a dead guy's car. It's not something that's happened to me,” the singer points out. “But I could see it happening, if I ever chose to walk back over that line.”
If a probe went to space, full of data on human history intended for a distant civilization, the Everclear section of the rock n’ roll music volume would surely kickoff with “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart,” a song that manages to encapsulate the spirited essence of everything that makes this band great. Confidence, selfdeprecation, recrimination, and redemption all collide in the barnstorming rock radio anthem. The brutal kiss-off
called “This Is Your Death Song” sugarcoats its confrontational vibe in soaring melodies, delivered with Alexakis’ steady and immediately identifiable voice.
“I like the way that trouble rises to the top,” he sings in “American Monster.” “It makes my bitter life a little more sweet.” This album swings. But it also bites.
“This is not an upbeat Everclear record. It’s pretty dark, lyrically and musically,” the band’s singer/guitarist explains. “When I would sit down with the guitar and start coming up with ideas, it was pushing toward a darker place. Which is kind of bizarre because right now things are really good! I feel safe enough to go to the dark places. And trust me, there's plenty of dark places in me. I've never had a shortage of that.”
Alexakis has been candid about his past. His dad split when he was young. He and his mother lived in housing projects. He lost those closest to him to drugs and suicide and nearly lost himself in both, as well. This isn’t the stuff of VH1’s Behind The Music – this is the man’s life pre-music, a life he’s cracked open and explored in his art. It’s there in the “Heroin Girl,” from the band’s platinum commercial breakthrough, Sparkle and Fade. The
double platinum So Much for the Afterglow produced enduring radio staples like “I Will Buy You A New Life” and “Father of Mine,” as ubiquitous on the radio now as then.
A combination of the same classic ‘70s rock that drives Foo Fighters or Queens Of The Stone Age and the melodic punk that inspired Nirvana, Everclear emerged on the pop culture landscape as part of the wave The Pixies and Husker Dü ushered in, a time when abrasive guitars aligned with naked emotional expression to beat back the scourge of vapidity. Everclear shifted the culture alongside bands like Smashing Pumpkins, The Toadies and Weezer; all diverse acts who shared a forceful authenticity.
“I’m learning to balance those dark places,” Alexakis says thoughtfully. “I am learning to respect them, but also, to keep them in their place.” Everclear’s frontman is 25 years clean-and-sober, with a wealth of darkness to stare into, but a perspective earned through experience, a healthy home life and a kickass band. Alexakis would write riffs and entire songs alone, then kick them around with fellow California residents Herrera and Crawley. The trio recorded with Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (who coproduced with Alexakis, who has produced every other Everclear album before) in a studio owned by the band LIVE, with Alexakis tracking the vast majority of the guitars himself for the first time since 2003’s Slow Motion Daydream. French and Crawley came in from the Pacific Northwest to add their flavor to the album, too.
It’s hard to imagine a singer digging deeper or offering up more vulnerability than on “You,” another Black Is The New Black song that’s quintessential Everclear: a juxtaposition of extremely personal sensitivities with massive riffs and a rhythm that hammers away. Two decades into a storied career with zero signs of slowing down, Alexakis reckons he will always draw upon the same mojo that first inspired him to play. “I will be 98 years old and pissing off my great grandkids,” he predicts, with a hearty laugh. “’Grandpa is playing that horrible, loud music again!’ I’ll probably be deaf as a doornail by then, too, so I’ll be playing it really loud. It’s a rock n’ roll thing.”
“I think you’re born with it,” he concludes. “And I think you die with it, too.”
Fuel formed in 1993 while playing the club circuit in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The band signed to Sony Records and in 1998 released their critically lauded, debut album Sunburn with the massive hit single “Shimmer”. Their second album Something Like Human took the band to a new level of stardom, hitting multi-platinum status driven by the singles “Innocent” and “Hemorrhage”, which remained at #1 for ten weeks. In 2003 Fuel released their third record Natural Selection, and found success at radio again with the hit song “Falls On Me”.
At that point the band had sold over 3.5 million records in the U.S alone, and had scored a trio of releases with top five singles. The band had headlined its own sold out tours, as well as supporting the likes of Aerosmith and Kid Rock. But even what seems like the best of circumstances can prove to be difficult and unhappy with the direction and lack of unity inside the band, Brett Scallions amicably parted ways with Fuel in 2004.
During his time away from Fuel, Brett continued to write music and toured with Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of the Doors. “When I left Fuel I was miserable, it did not feel like a band anymore,” says Brett, continuing: “Unity was non-existent. Performing those amazing Doors songs with two legends, who are two of the architects of that sound was eye opening, life changing, and opened a whole new perspective on music and life. I realized much music is about freedom, and not being confined to formats.”
The new decade, some life lessons, and 8 years away from the band he helped create and always loved, gave Brett a new desire to re-launch Fuel. Armed with guitarist Andy Andersson, drummer Shannon Boone, and Shinedown bassist Brad Stewart, the new lineup took to the road to reignite “Fuelies”, as their loyal fans are known. Fuel played to packed halls, sweaty rock clubs, and on festivals bills throughout the United States. The “Fuelies” wanted more, and they got it!
In 2014 Fuel released Puppet Strings, on MRI/Red. Catapulted by the first single, the driving, hypnotic “Soul To Preach To”, the album entered the Billboard rock charts at #1. The fans spoke loud and clear to the band and “Cold Summer” became the second single. The Fuelies were right, as “Cold Summer” became a staple on rock radio cracking the top 20 at rock radio throughout the summer, with a video that is a classic throw back to when rock videos were fun. “Rock n Roll is very much alive on this record,” says Scallions, “Fuel is fully reignited, and it feels like we are just getting started.”
Looking over his shoulder at Rubberneck, the Toadies’ platinum-selling 1994 debut, drummer Mark Reznicek is reflective. “Hard to believe it’s been 20 years,” he says. “It seems like yesterday. But, at the same time, it was a lifetime ago.”
The songs on Rubberneck are fearless, literate and visceral. Their protagonists are perceived as anti-heroes: stalkers, serial killers and religious zealots (some are all three). Certainly, they’re not your average, accessible radio fodder. Well, the Toadies weren’t concerned about that. “We didn’t even have singles in mind,” Reznicek says. “Or the idea of even possibly getting on the radio. We didn’t think that would ever happen.” But “Possum Kingdom” remains a radio staple even today – and “Backslider” and “Tyler” still pop up. It’s because raw expression makes for the most powerful art.
The Toadies remain raw. Vaden Todd Lewis still sings as though he’s on the precipice of insanity, clinging tenaciously but perhaps already plummeting. Lewis’s and Clark Vogeler’s guitars rip and tear like thick fingernails at supple flesh. Reznicek and bass player Doni Blair (who joined the band in 2008) fuel the fury with relentless, seething rhythm.
When these sounds and those images and themes mix, the effect is pure adrenaline. The manic, chugging-choogling strains of Rubberneck’s opening instrumental salvo “Mexican Hairless” run pell-mell into the equally breakneck “Mister Love,” a backhanded plea for salvation. The pace slows, a little, for “Backslider,” where a father drowns his nine-year-old son in deliverance. And then “Possum Kingdom,” the Toadies’ notoriously creepy megahit, slows things down again with a dangerous antihero’s offer of a different salvation.
In just these four songs, Rubberneck leaves the listener feeling fed. The songs are meaty, with much to chew on: images to parse, significances to consider, guitar riffs and drum parts to mime. It continues for seven more tracks – including fan favorites like “Tyler” and “I Come From The
Water” – and leaves you satisfied and a little uncomfortable.
It’s the same with every spin of Rubberneck. That’s why it endures. And it’s why the Toadies, with their current label Kirtland Records, and the blessing of original label Interscope Records, are reissuing Rubberneck – remastered and beefed up with five unreleased tracks from the same
era – for a new generation.
Rubberneck’s staying power breeds new fans to go along with the Toadies’ early-adopters, whose faith never flagged even as the band struggled to release new music. When their would-be second album languished on the label shelf, they circulated demos and bought tickets. Even when a different second album, 2001’s Hell Below/Stars Above, fared poorly and the Toadies broke up, the fans’ steadfast evangelism continued. “These are fans from when Rubberneck first came out,” Reznicek says. “They’ve turned their younger siblings, and their kids, on to us. We see them all the time – whole families wearing Toadies shirts. It’s pretty cool.”
A one-off show in Dallas in 2006 became a full-fledged reunion. The Toadies have since steadily built momentum. A third album, No Deliverance, came in 2008 and saw the band playing Lollapalooza. The heretofore-lost album, Feeler, finally materialized in 2010. A new album, Play.Rock.Music came out in 2012. Tours followed each release. The band’s annual Dia de Los Toadies festival – at which the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Ben Kweller, Centro-matic, Sarah Jaffe, The Sword and Black Joe Lewis have appeared, grows each year.
Today the Toadies – and their magnum opus – are stronger than ever. Rubberneck’s new master makes it an even more striking listen. “Three of the five songs were actually recorded during same sessions,” Reznicek says. In their customary position at the end of the original sequence, these tunes actually sound as though they’re not bonuses. The loping “Run In With Dad,” where titular fanatic catches his son fornicating, could fit right in between “Backslider” and “Possum Kingdom.” Likewise “Stop It,” which is actually a Pylon cover – it wouldn’t be so out of place between “Tyler” and “Happyface.” The instrumental unfinished demo “Rockfish,” (part of which was used to create “Waterfall” from Feeler) could make a nice bookend with “Mexican
Hairless.” The other rarities, Rubberneck-era live takes of “Possum Kingdom” and “Tyler” are snapshots of a band in original form.
Of course, with 20 years and thousands of shows behind them, the Toadies sound even better. On the road in 2014, supported by the Supersuckers and Battleme, the Toadies will pay tribute to their fans’ support by playing Rubberneck start-to-finish. “I honestly cannot wait to get onstage in front of these fans and play the album front to back,” says Vogeler. “I've been looking forward to it for years and, after this anniversary tour, I can’t imagine that we’ll
ever do it again.” Lewis is likewise stoked. “Performing these songs will never get old for me so long as I'm able to look out and see smiling, sweaty faces looking back,” says Lewis. The Toadies will also have vinyl copies of Rubberneck at the merch table. It’s a fitting celebration that the band can now toast with their new signature beer (brewed by fellow Texans as Martin House Brewing), aptly dubbed Rubberneck Red. And there’s loads more to look
forward to in 2014 – including a new album due this Fall. “It’s gonna be our ‘chill set’ that we play on the first night of Dia de Los Toadies,” says Reznicek. “Acoustic, stripped-down versions of our songs. Probably some new songs, some previously unreleased songs and some new covers.” Recording is currently underway with Rob Schnapf, one of Rubberneck’s original producers.
And there’ll be more where that came from.
“[The Toadies] has been a hell of a lot of hard work,” says Lewis, “but also a hell of a lot of fun. And it continues to be every time we take the stage.”
About American Hi-Fi:
Blood & Lemonade is American Hi-Fi’s fourth full length and their first since 2010’s Fight the Frequency. Featuring the “Golden State” and other notables “Allison” and “Armageddon Days,” the record wholly embraces the sound and spirit of classic, balls-to-the-wall, guitar rock mixed with the power pop sensibilities that lead to their worldwide smash “Flavor of The Weak.” Blood & Lemonade was released worldwide on September 16th via Rude Records.
In support of the record, the band performed a special one-off at London’s famed 100 Club, which sold out quickly after being announced. The band also performed select shows in Los Angeles, New York City, and Boston in support of the album’s release.
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SOURCE: Live Nation Entertainment
- A Press Release