Air Date: January 30th, 2024
It was a beautiful fall day and chilly night when Taproot's SC\SSRS tour rolled into Wally’s in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Taproot is an alternative metal band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, formed in 1997. They are best known for their hit single "Poem", which peaked at No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 2002. The band released its seventh studio album, SC\SSRS, on September 29, 2023 and after a long hiatus from touring, was back again with some anxiously anticipated new music! It had been over a decade since I had last seen Taproot, so I was excited to witness their return. Usually when I’m covering a show, I’d be up front and taking the action all in. However, due to a recent knee surgery, I observed this night differently than my norm, and found a barstool near the back.
New Haven, Connecticut’s Dead By Wednesday was the opening band. Being a long time friend and follower of DBW, I knew the unexpecting crowd was about to be assaulted without any foreplay, with DBW being the heaviest they’ve been since their inception in 2006. As anticipated, they ripped it up and the crowd was packed in tight and ready for the night. That’s how you warm up a crowd!
Maine has some really great metal, including Portland’s groove metal band Trawl, who are often local support for tours coming through northern New England. Although they had some technical issues on the guitar side, the rhythm section held strong until the situation was corrected. If I hadn’t been watching, I may not have noticed because I was distracted by the groove of the bass.
Eva Under Fire, a rock band from Detroit, was the tour support for Taproot on this run. I was familiar with the name, but not enough to know any lyrics, and couldn’t remember if I had seen them live before or not. Frontwoman, Amanda “Eva Marie” Lyberg, certainly was not intimidated by the previous growling metal frontmen, and certainly held her ground. I must admit, Eva Under Fire’s set was my favorite of the night. Each band had its moments, but Eva Under Fire consistently impressed me song after song. I was easily distracted with people watching sitting so far in the back, but my interest was held during this performance, which can be a challenge if I’m not singing along to familiar lyrics. The audience seemed to be enjoying the set as much as I was, as they crowded in tighter when newcomers arrived.
The changeovers seemed efficient tonight and the crowd was primed and ready for the headliner. Seeing video from the previous night’s performance and hearing Taproot’s brand new album, SC\SSRS, I kind of had an idea what I was in for. The crowd cheered as the band took the stage and broke right into “Smile” and “Again and Again” off the 2000 ‘Gift’ album. The band teased the audience with “Mine,” the opening track of 2022’s ‘Welcome,’ before giving us a taste of some new tracks that the crowd had been waiting to hear live. They played the heavier ones from SC\SSRS which included “We Control Our Destiny” and “V\ct\m \ Play”. Taproot played a satisfying collection off of SC\SSRS along with some older favorites. At one point frontman, Stephen Richards, climbed over the barrier and crowd surfed back to the bar before returning to the front to hop back onto the stage. Apparently, from what I’ve read, he likes to jump into the crowd, but there was nothing higher than the few foot tall stage. I was excited to hear the radio single, “Favourite Song” for which the band recorded their video for at Buffalo Bill’s house (Silence of the Lambs) in Pennsylvania. Check it out on YouTube. The album features Elias Soriano from Nonpoint on this track, but since he wasn’t in attendance, Stephen did his best at singing that part too. On a side note, I heard that on the following night at The Gramercy Theater in NYC, Esteban from Dead By Wednesday, had quickly learned the part and filled in for Elias’ vocal part.
Back to Hampton Beach…Taproot has some slower songs, but they certainly brought the energy to the live show. New guitarist, Taylor Roberts, brought some monstrous energy to the band alongside veteran bassist Phil Lipscomb and returning drummer, Jarrod Montague. The crowd has been patiently waiting to hear the most well known Taproot song, “Poem,” which also may be the only song a portion of the younger crowd knows. Stephen invited the whole crowd to join the band up on the stage. After a little encouragement, people started filling up the stage until security limited it. Stephen warned the group to not be selfish and hog the mic as the band played and the microphone was passed around so everyone could sing a little. It wasn’t the best version of the song you’d want to hear, but it was fun for the fans that had the adrenaline already flowing. After the stage cleared, Richards gave the crowd a choice of an encore song and “Mirrors Reflection,” which historically Taproot doesn’t play live, won the shouts of approval. Taproot was met with audience approbation and all seemed to be fulfilled after the 15 song set.
All the bands met fans at their merch tables after their sets, as well as mingled among the crowd. That’s always the advantage of these smaller venues. I think it’s admirable when nationally touring artists value the fans and show their appreciation by staying for signings and many, many photographs. Those are the fans that will keep coming back.
Thank you to Ryan Gaudet of 229 Photo for the pictures (below)
Best known as the lead guitarist and band leader for the Bret Michaels Band, Pete Evick is actually one of the busiest people in the music biz. Aside from that full time role, he’s a part of the all-star charity project This, That & The Other, has recently released Bare Knuckle Bourbon, opened a small chain of retail stores and has written the book ‘MTV Famous.’ I had a great conversation with Pete about his new book and more!
Bret Michaels Band Leader Pete Evick - 10/6/23
Saul drummer, Myles Clayborne - 7/2/23
Lynch Mob was formed in 1989, and is an American hard rock band featuring former Dokken guitarist George Lynch. He has been the band's only permanent member. The first Lynch Mob album was released in 1990, titled 'Wicked Sensation.' After several disbandments and reunions, the current lineup is: Lynch on guitar, Jimmy D'Anda on drums, Jaron Gulino holding down the low end on bass, and Gabriel Colon on vocals. After recently seeing the band live at Jameson Pub in Watertown, CT, I caught up with the frontman, Gabriel, to learn more about him and what is in store for Lynch Mob.
STN: Can you give me a brief history of where you were born and when your interest in music started?
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts but my family moved when I was four so I was raised in Puerto Rico. That’s where they’re originally from. For me it started with the “Eye Of The Tiger.” That’s the first song I remember liking, and MTV is where I first heard Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, and Nirvana, and it went from there. Then my brother started buying their records and I got hooked right away. I didn’t start singing until I was 15, but you know, like in the bathroom.
STN: I know you've been in other bands, so how did you connect with George Lynch?
Yeah, I’ve been in a few bands, I’ve been singing for a while now. I’ve worked with a lot of interesting characters along the way and learned a lot. With George, it was a good friend of mine that gave me his number and said he was looking for a singer; so, I sent George some videos of songs I’ve recorded and he liked it. Then he told me to send him live videos, and in about a week he called me. I was working in maintenance in Long Beach. We talked for about 20 minutes and that was it. We had a little acoustic session at his place 2 months later, and the next night we did a show.
STN: What is it like working with George?
It’s a lot of fun. It’s never too serious because everyone knows what they’re doing. George likes a loose sound and it’s always different so it keeps us on our toes, keeps us fresh.They’re all good people too. I’m very grateful.
STN: I saw both shows on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and was highly impressed. Not only was the singing great, but you look like you were born to be on stage. Speaking of which, Jaron told me to ask you about your stage moves and moonwalk…lol
Thank you, I really enjoy it and I think that’s what comes through…the love for the music. It’s still a work in progress.
Moonwalk eh?! Haha Well, I’ve always been drawn to the more flamboyant performers like Freddie Mercury, Little Richard, Juan Gabriel, so that’s where that comes from. But I don’t rehearse any of it, obviously. It’s ALL for Jaron!
STN: How did you enjoy the cruise?
The cruise was pretty crazy. It’s hard to sit still when there’s so much going on. It’s cool though, everything is there. A lot of great talent, everybody was very nice, and the crowd never let the party die!
STN: What do you like to do when you're not pursuing musical interests?
That’s a tough one, I don’t have any hobbies. I enjoy working out, walking, sloppy steak dinners, getting together with family and friends, going to shows and movies. That’s about it really.
STN: Lynch Mob has had several vocalists. Last time I saw the band, it was Robert Mason. What has been the feedback you've received now that you've been touring with the band?
Nothing but love, I’m surprised. People seem to like what I’ve been doing so I’m very fortunate. Lynch Mob has had some great singers. I’m glad I can do the songs justice and add some Gabriel juice to them.
STN: Lynch Mob has a new record ‘Babylon’ coming out this fall . What can you tell me about it?
It’s a solid album, it grooves throughout. We’ve been playing 2 of the new songs live and it always moves the crowd. I think the fans are really gonna dig it!
STN: "Time After Time" will be the first single coming out, which I heard live and I liked it a lot. What can you tell me about the song?
It’s a poppy tune, pretty catchy but it has a bit of a dark tone. It’s about making the same bad choices over and over and not being able, or not having the will, to change anything. A vicious cycle. The video we did has a ‘Groundhog Day’ take on it that’s interesting. That should be out at the end of August.
STN: Anything you'd like to add in conclusion?
Thank you for supporting Lynch Mob. I hope you enjoy the new record coming out in October and see you on the road. Thanks Nina, have a wonderful evening.
STN: Thank you Gabriel. I can’t wait to hear the new album and see you all again.
Recently, I took a little road trip to Dingbatz in New Jersey to catch some bands that were playing within 2 nights of each other. The night I went to see my friends in Spread Eagle, Killcode happened to be on the bill. I had heard great things about Killcode, which is a five piece rock band that hails from New York City. I took the opportunity to do a last minute interview and get to know the band better. (Thank you guys for a fun night and some laughs.)
I thought this was my first time seeing Killcode perform live, but ironically their first big show was in my home state of Rhode Island at the previously named, Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. They played a Tattoo Fest with Sevendust and Godsmack, so low and behold, this was my second time seeing Killcode live.
While doing research about Killcode, the one thing I admired was how they don't really have a game plan as far as genre. They play what sounds right to them and try new and different things, so basically they don't try to fit in with what's popular at the moment. “We’re a very mixed bag as far as our influences: rock, hip hop, new wave, heavy metal. It’s an amalgamation of all of that,” says frontman Tom Morrissey “It’s very organic and nobody really leads the charge, yet everyone does at the same time." "Someone just starts and we all add our influences, and it becomes Killcode,” adds drummer Rob Noxious.
Being a band from NYC, which was the happening place any night of the week for rock and roll, it has now become more underground. This is what drives the band even harder to do what they do, and fortunately they have been lucky enough to get out of NYC and play all over the world, until Covid hit.
When the world was shut down during Covid, the guys wisely used the time to record their latest album Life, Death, Rock N’ Roll which was released worldwide on January 20, 2023 on the NYC born, L.A. based Mother West label. Tommy stated that he was humbled by the response to the album, but "these days it doesn’t seem to matter if people like your music or not, but rather if it goes viral and becomes trendy." He respected the reviews they are getting about the album and about the songs. “The name just fits perfectly for everyone," says bassist Bobby Flores “especially by the time it came out.” “It was really what we all personally went through during that time,” added Rob Noxious, who also praised Bobby for joining right before Covid. The band had a few really good shows booked and they needed him really fast and “he worked his fucking ass off and was there.” Apparently they had 2000 tickets sold and overnight, the world stopped! He joined a band that was touring the world and had played with bands like Godsmack, Sevendust, KISS, Twisted Sister, and was direct support to Dee Snider's solo band across the US., and then nothing! I’m glad I got to see Bobby play live finally, and I’m sure he was excited to be playing two nights in a row.
Killcode made it clear, however, that they make music for themselves first and “if people get it, that’s beautiful” but they need to “impress themselves first.” I listened to the latest album several times and I certainly was impressed. I enjoyed the mix of what I would consider 80's arena fist pumping rock, southern rock, and straight up good ol' rock n' roll, including some beautiful ballads such as "Girl Next Door." Take a listen for yourself and see what your favorite song is.
Finally things started getting back to normal after the pandemic, as the first track on the album screams, “Let’s Get Back To Rock n’ Roll.”
Killcode would be an amazing addition to the Monsters of Rock Cruise. Killcode said that they are still waiting for their invitation…Larry Morand? “It’s people like you that help us get there. Spread The Code…”Tommy concludes.
"Life, Death, Rock-N-Roll" produced by Joey Zampella (Life of Agony, Stereo Mud , Carnivore) Available NOW world-wide on all digital platforms!
Order your physical copy and bundles here:
Hailing from Springfield, MA Hivebane have hit us with their first full length album, 'Collider' released March 31, 2023. The album was produced by Anthony John and mixed and mastered by Jim Fogarty, who has worked with Killswitch Engage and All That Remains.
Calm down metalheads. If you like it really heavy with screaming vocals and growls, then this album is not for you. However, I'm not fooled and I know you all have a soft side, so you may enjoy this rock album when your metal kindred spirits aren't around. Live a little and give it a listen. For those of you who like pure unadulterated rock, then get your ear buds ready.
If you live in western Massachusetts, then you may have heard of (or seen) Sage King, because he has been playing his guitar and singing in area establishments since he was 14. Local rockers may also remember guitarist, Anthony John, from Gaiah.
From what I understand, Anthony was out one night and heard Sage singing and decided that he "had to make music with this kid!" They then connected over similar tastes in music and formed Hivebane back in 2017. After about 5 years of writing together, they were joined by the captivating percussion of Nathan Paul on drums, with John doing triple duty on guitar, bass, and vocals, and King taking on the frontman duties, belting out heartfelt lyrics.
Hivebane, self admittedly "does not fit into any one particular box but rather chooses to live outside it altogether. " The advantage to that is, it substantially broadens their fan base. I've been to several of their live shows and have seen them do acoustic sets at restaurants, unplugged shows at theaters, right on up to full electric concerts at rock venues.
Speaking of not fitting in the box, 'Collider' kicks off with "The Pain," which is one of the harder rocking tracks on the album. The lyrics ask us, "Are we just machines in some recalculated reality, unhuman but still breathing, start thinking for yourself!" That makes you reflect, doesn't it?
If you are familiar with Hivebane, you may have heard “Shed My Skin," a song about avoiding one’s own destiny, that was previously recorded on Hivebane's unplugged album 'Prologue' released October, 2018. On 'Collider' this tune takes on a whole new life with full supporting electric instrumentation.
One of the things that I Iove about Sage's voice is the way he can get real soft and melancholy then throw that rare deep anger growl at the right moment of the song. "Over and Over," is one song that showcases the range of King's vocals, as he describes a toxic relationship that needs to end. In a previous review I described him as having the voice of an angel. Don't let that fool you! He also has a scream that could wake the dead, knowing just when to use it, but never overdone. This is most evident in the fourth track, "Does It Always." Sage has his own sound that can withstand any tempo and given range. No one has a voice that sounds anything like him, making him uniquely recognizable. Truly a gift to have!
"Unsung" is a darker track written as if he is speaking to a friend or family member that has committed suicide. You will "live on in a song and you will not be unsung," he promises, tearing at the listener's heartstrings. A song I'm sure everyone can relate to.
"Playing With Fire" and "Tired Eyes" have upbeat melodies and are most catchy, as I found myself easily singing along to the choruses.
This 11 song album is packed with crisp guitar riffs that wail with melody and authority when necessary, driving bass, topped with the heartfelt lyrics. 'Collider' is a true testament to how the right riffs and relatable lyrics can be the ultimate formula for a rock album.
Do you wonder why they chose the title 'Collider'? When you take a look at the album cover, it's pretty obvious. However, dig deeper into the thought provoking lyrics and lose yourself in the tantalizing music, as Hivebane takes you on an emotional ride where the heart and mind collide.
"Sometimes the heart doesn't agree with the mind, what's important is that YOU should know when to compromise, when to let YOUR mind win and when to let YOUR heart decide." -- quote by Abhishek Tiwari
If I piqued your interest, then Hivebane will be having a Vinyl Release Party at The Divine Theater at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA on Saturday, July 8, 2023. The event and ticket details can be found here:
Hope to see you there! If not, you can steam the full album on Spotify and follow Hivebane at https://www.facebook.com/hivebane