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Five Finger Death Punch at Tucson Convention Center
November 5, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Confidently leading heavy music in the 21st century, Five Finger Death Punch continue to make the impossible a reality at every turn. Since their emergence in 2007, the hard rock band has achieved six consecutive RIAA Gold-certified albums, three of which have gone Platinum since, as well as a platinum single culminating in their 2015 #1 album Got Your Six, while at the same time being one of the top rock streaming acts with over 2 billion global streams to date. In 2016, the band also received the prestigious “Soldier Appreciation Award” from The Association of The United States Army. 5fdp frequently play all major festivals from Download to Rock Am Ring to Rock on the Range and sell out arenas around the globe to countless screaming “Knuckleheads.” Their 2017 Greatest Hits album A Decade Of Destruction boasts two new singles, amongst them “Gone Away”, a cover of the 1997 song by The Offspring. 5fdp’s forthcoming seventh album anticipated to be released in Spring 2018 will undoubtedly raise the bar again.
Outsiders always leave enduring impressions. By veering away from the pack, these mavericks confidently lead the charge for others to follow. Since 2003, Three Days Grace has staked a spot amongst the hard rock vanguard, quietly breaking records, toppling charts, moving millions of units worldwide, and making history by holding the all-time record for “most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio ever” with 13. The Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—continue to blaze that trail on their sixth full-length album, the aptly titled Outsider [RCA Records].
“To me, Outsider represents the journey to find your place,” says Brad. “The world feels crazy at times. We try to get away from that every once in a while. We do our own thing, and we’re comfortable doing it. We have always looked forward—and not backwards. That’s an ongoing theme for us here.”
“It’s what we’ve done in many ways by being on the outside,” agrees Neil. “This is all about taking a step back from life’s madness without destroying yourself, cutting everyone off, or going crazy. You get a break and find the space to create.”
That’s exactly what the musicians did in the fall of 2016. Instead of congregating in a downtown Toronto rehearsal space, they initially wrote in a converted garage behind Brad’s house located two hours from the city. Eventually, they retreated to Neil’s 90-acre farm to further hone ideas. Following daytime snowmobile trips, the guys often sat around bonfires with acoustic guitars, tapping into the wild spirit surrounding them.
“We grew up hanging out in the woods and building fires,” smiles Brad. “Home is where the heart is. This is where we’re most comfortable. We were able to focus on our craft. We spent more time writing this than any other project. It has a sense of seclusion to it. It’s like we naturally migrated back.”
As the songs took shape, the band packed up and headed to the remote Ontario’s Jukasa Studios. In order to capture that energy, they called upon longtime friends and collaborators. Producers Gavin Brown and Howard Benson returned to the fold, with Mike Plotnikoff engineering and Chris Lord-Alge on mixing duty.
“We put our ultimate dream team together,” smiles Barry. “These guys have all been a part of the family for a long time. It was amazing to have everybody onboard.”
“That production team hasn’t happened since One-X,” adds Neil. “We were lucky to get this group together. It made sense because we were in a similar headspace.”
As much as it upholds tradition, Outsider represents progression for Three Days Grace. Marking his second offering as part of the band, Matt showed “a new level of confidence and brought a ton of ideas,” according to his brother Brad. Meanwhile, Neil expanded the signature electronic palette, integrating analog synths and standout programming with the help of Rhys Fulber [Fear Factory, Frontline Assembly]. He casually nodded to electronic influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Bring Me The Horizon, Lana Del Rey, and a surprising cult classic…
“We really love the movie Lost Boys and its score,” smiles Barry. “The whole thing has this dark, spacey, and eerie vibe. Those dudes were vampires and definitely outsiders!”
“I’ve always loved darker industrial music,” Neil elaborates. “I devoted a lot of time to those sounds and finding ways to integrate them. It was using these elements to create dynamic in the songs and not just overlaying them. You’ll hear moments where the keyboards or wide synth sounds are featured. Then, the guitar hits you in the chest. It made everything more interesting.”
First single “The Mountain” evinces that evolution. Those cinematic sonic flourishes augment arena-ready riffing before summiting towards a seismic and shuddering refrain, “I’m still surviving, keep climbing, keep climbing the mountain.”
“You wake up every day in a monotonous situation and resent what’s ahead,” Neil reveals. “You’re intimidated. However, you don’t have a choice but to put your boots on and face it, because there is no other option. It’s emotionally charged. A lot of this music is about yearning to escape, yet not knowing what’s on the other side. You can’t take your life, so you decide to make the jump into the unknown.”
“It comes down to surviving every day and just not giving up,” Matt concurs. “You can’t allow the bad thoughts to take over. We all go through trials and tribulations. The key is to keep going.”
“I Am An Outsider” serves as a clarion call for the four-piece with its heavy and hypnotic chant. “It’s the main theme,” explains Brad. “You break away from the inner circle and find your own path. There are ups and downs, but you end up where you’re meant to be.”
Then, there’s “Infra-Red,” an airy production gives way to a sharp seesaw of guitars and luminous vocals. “There are some people you just connect with,” says Matt. “You get along with them instantly, because you understand each other. ‘Infra-Red’ is finding that person who gets you.”
Elsewhere, the venomous “Me Against You” hinges on a hypnotic groove and scalding chorus, while the ethereal “Love Me or Leave Me” transmits loneliness encased in swaths of synths.
Given this undeniable unpredictability, Outsider feels right at home alongside a catalog of fan favorites from Three Days Grace. In 2015, Human marked the group’s second straight bow at #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart as well as their fourth consecutive debut in Top 20 of the Top 200. It spawned two #1 singles “Painkiller” and “I Am Machine,” signaling their 13th overall and 5th consecutive number ones on the Active Rock Radio chart. Moreover, the four-piece consistently averaged a staggering 3.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify—remaining “one of the most listened to rock bands in the world.” In 2012, Transit of Venus soared to the Top 5 of the Top 200 and garnered a nod for “Best Rock Album of the Year” at the Juno Awards. The seminal One-X  notched an RIAA triple-platinum certification as Three Days Grace  was minted platinum and Life Starts Now went gold. To date, their veritable arsenal of number one includes “Chalk Outline,” “The High Road,” “Misery Loves My Company,” “World So Cold,” “Good Life,” “Break,” “Never Too Late,” “Animal I Have Become,” “Pain,” “Just Like You,” and “Home.”
In the end, Outsider speaks directly to that army of fans around the globe.
“I’d love for them to relate to it,” Brad leaves off. “I want people to feel like they can put it on and know they’re not alone. We’re on this journey as outsiders together.”
“Hopefully, this music can help people,” concludes Matt. “It bonds us all, and there’s no better way to connect.”
Bad Wolves aren’t just a band, they’re a sonic wrecking ball that’s destroying everything in their path. The act—which is composed of drummer John Boecklin (ex-Devildriver), vocalist Tommy Vext (Divine Heresy, Snot) as well as guitarists Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid), Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead) and bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-In This Moment), may seem like they just exploded onto the scene, but the idea has been percolating in Boecklin and Vext’s heads since 2015. “When I heard the initial batch of songs I was really impressed because what John was doing was very creatively experimental and it gave me an opportunity to also do more vocally experimental things,” Vext explains. The result is of this joint effort is Disobey, an album that music fans have been clamoring for and that has already birthed a viral single via their impassioned (and seemingly ubiquitous) cover of the Cranberries’ 1993 protest song, “Zombie,” which has racked up over 50 million views over Facebook and YouTube, hit #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart as well as Spotify’s viral chart in over 40 countries. The track has also gone to #1 on the iTunes overall songs chart.
Recorded at various studios spanning three states and producers—including Kane Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Papa Roach) who mixed “Remember When” and “Zombie”—Disobey is a collection of songs that sees this group of Los Angeles music veterans stretching out and exploring sonic space they’ve never veered into in the past. “Everything seemed very natural once we decided that we wanted to be in a band that featured more singing than screaming,” Boecklin explains. “There are some very different songs on this record from track to track, from almost ballad stuff to heavier-edged material; we really spread our wings and had no problem tearing down any walls when it came to stylistic traits,” he continues, adding that Vext helped take this varied collection of tracks to the next level. “I think Tommy’s performances on this album have blown away everyone who’s heard it. He has the songs that allow him to showcase what a powerful performer he is and we really harnessed that here.”
From driving anthems like “No Masters” to the syncopated Faith No More-worthy rocker “Better The Devil,” the crushing power of “Learn To Live,” and the soaring ballad “Hear Me Now,” Disobey is an album that showcases elements of rock, metal, hip-hop and progressive rock into a instantly infectious amalgam of music that’s as infectious as it is groundbreaking. Then there’s the band’s aforementioned cover of “Zombie,” which has hit the top of the charts on iTunes and Shazam and already garnered seven million total streams, an almost unheard of accomplishment for a band like Bad Wolves. “Recording ‘Zombie’ was Tommy’s idea and he really hit it out of the park,” Boecklin recalls. “When we finished recording it we sent it to [Cranberries singer] Dolores O’Riordan and she loved it and was supposed to record vocals on the version the day that she passed away,” he continues. “The fact that the song has gone so viral is completely unexpected and the success is bittersweet.” Subsequently, the band decided to give all of the proceeds from their reimagined cover of the nineties hit to O’Riordan’s four children.
In the spirit of protest songs like “Zombie,” Disobey is teeming with lyrics that see Vext tackling everything from the current political state of our nation to the prevalence of racism, not the typical fodder for an album that’s already birthing hit singles. “This album is a commentary, but it’s also a diary,” he explains—and that’s especially evident on the painfully personal ballad, ‘Remember When.’ “I have a twin brother who is serving 17 years in prison because he attempted to murder me in 2010 during a home invasion,” Vext explains. “I’ve never gotten so vulnerable in songwriting before and talked about this situation, but it just felt natural on this album. No one broke my heart more than my own brother and nothing breaks my heart more than knowing he’s a danger to others and himself.” In the wake of this incident Vext, who has been sober for nine years, became a sober companion and coach in order to save others from similar fates. “There’s a lot of deep meaning in that song for me and I didn’t go into writing those lyrics with a conscious thought, I just heard the riff and all of these emotions poured out of me that I’d been keeping inside for a long time.”
That catharsis is ultimately what lies at the core of Disobey. “I listen to Meshuggah, but I also listen to Lana Del Rey and Busta Rhymes, not that we would be touring with those bands,” Vext says. “But I think we have a sound that kind of vacillates between extreme music and hard rock, which could be dubbed ‘commercial’ and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I think it’s a strength of ours.” Additionally, the members of Bad Wolves all come from touring bands so they’re excited to get out on the road and bring these songs to audiences live who have been waiting for an album like Disobey for a long, long time. “This is the greatest body of work I’ve ever participated in over the course of 20 years of making music,” Vext summarizes. “It’s also the most creative and honest thing that I’ve ever worked on and we can’t wait for people to be able to hear these songs and share them with us live. Because there really are no limitations to what the five of us can accomplish with this band.”
Versatile and incendiary Austin, Texas-based quintet Fire from the Gods bridge the gap between hardcore metal fury and hip-hop consciousness via a mosh pit-inducing sonic attack and socially and politically charged lyrics.
Fire from the Gods formed in 2010 with an original lineup that included guitarist Drew Walker and bassist Bonner Baker, as well as vocalist Eric July, guitarist Tony Esparza, and drummer Judson Curtis. They released their metalcore debut, Sleeping with Anchors & Mirrors, followed by the Sweet Lasting Revenge EP, before July, Esparza, and Curtis parted ways with the band. A re-formed lineup — connected through the Headbang Program — emerged in 2015, fronted by powerful frontman AJ Channer and rounded out by guitarist Jameson Teat and drummer Richard Wicander. Channer — born in the Bronx and raised in London and Ghana — injected the group with new focus and vitality, merging the band’s aggressive style with thoughtful, often uplifting and socially conscious lyrics. Their sound took the intensity of Sevendust and Slipknot, and layered it with heavy grooves found at the cores of P.O.D., Rage Against the Machine, and Skindred.
The band signed with Rise Records for the release of their 2016 LP Narrative, which was produced by David Bendeth (Paramore, Of Mice & Men, Breaking Benjamin). Written from the point of view of a minority man living in urban America, Narrative put American society under a microscope, tackling topics like racism and abuse of power and balancing those with empowering underdog anthems. The following year, the band issued Narrative Retold, a re-release of their 2016 album Narrative with the addition of two new songs guest produced by Korn’s Jonathan Davis. 2019’s searing American Sun dealt punitively with issues like political discord, environmental apathy, and technological overload. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi