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Papa Roach, Asking Alexandria & Bad Wolves at Comerica Theatre
August 30, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 11:30 pm
Over the past two decades Papa Roach have established themselves as true trendsetters in rock music: They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, toured the globe with everyone from Eminem to Marilyn Manson and crafted the nü metal anthem “Last Resort,” which is still in heavy rotation on rock radio seventeen years after its release. However, the group’s ninth full-length Crooked Teeth sees the band returning to their humble—and hungry—roots. The album was recorded in a cramped North Hollywood studio with up-and-coming producers Nicholas “RAS” Furlong and Colin Brittain, who grew up listening to Papa Roach and inspired them to revisit some of the traits that personally endeared the band to them, most notably frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s remarkable rapping technique. From the instantly infectious nature of the title track to the atmospheric sheen of the ballad “Periscope” (which features Skylar Grey) and the hip-hop rock mashup “Sunrise Trailer Park” (which features an impassioned verse from Machine Gun Kelly), Crooked Teeth displays the various sides of Papa Roach and illustrates why they’ve managed to remain relevant while musical trends ebb and flow. Crooked Teeth also sees Shaddix pulling no punches lyrically, as evidenced on intensely personal tracks like “Born For Greatness,” produced by Jason Evigan (Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Kehlani, Madonna), which sees Shaddix getting sentimental about his three children, or “American Dreams” where the lifelong pacifist begs the listener to ask, “have you ever thought war was a sickness? The album’s acclaimed track “Help” debuted as the #1 Most Added at Active Rock and quickly became the #1 rock song in the country. Crooked Teeth is out May 19 via Eleven Seven Music.
Asking Alexandria have earned a place among the most streamed, downloaded, watched, and altogether listened to bands in a generation, combining the innovation of modern active rock with the traditional attitude of the culture’s trailblazers.
They’ve shared the stage with Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Alice In Chains, and Avenged Sevenfold, and Slipknot; co-headlined with Black Veil Brides; joined Warped Tour and Rockstar Mayhem; played every major rock festival in the world; and headlined sold out theater tours.
“The Final Episode” and “Not the American Average” were both certified gold by the RIAA for single sales in excess of 500,000 each. The music videos for those two singles alone amassed over 100 million views on YouTube. Their third full length album, From Death to Destiny (2013), shot to #1 on the Rock and Metal charts in the U.K. and cracked the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 in the United States upon its release.
Made with producer Matt Good, Asking Alexandria’s self-titled fifth album is an unbridled celebration of acceptance, of the strength of diversity and the freedom of “leaning into the crazy” (as Worsnop puts it), instead of struggling for conformity.
“Into the Fire” offers a beautifully combative, contradictory, and unrelentingly powerful message to the true believers who have stood by this band through thick and thin. “I wouldn’t take back a moment / Not one miserable moment / I’ll give it all ‘till there’s nothing left,” Worsnop sings. It’s most assuredly a genuine promise.
Unpredictability drives progression.
When art can’t be pigeonholed or pinned down, it elevates the very medium itself. Bad Wolves thrives on that sort of unpredictability, standing confidently at a crossroads between anthemic hard rock infectiousness and thought-provoking technically-charged heavy metal. Think a cross between the mind-numbing musical malevolence of Meshuggah and Sevendust’s timeless irresistibility, and you’re halfway there…The vision of ex-DevilDriver co-founder and previous driving force John Boecklin [drums, guitars] and vocalist Tommy Vext [Snot, Westfield Massacre] as well as Doc Coyle [guitar], Chris Cain [guitar], and Kyle Konkiel, the group’s full-length debut represents metallic evolution in its purest form.
The result of a musical journey he kicked off in 2014, Boecklin describes the style best.
“We sound like a heavy-slightly prog rock band that tunes low and cuts off most of the fat,” he explains. “Watching Faith No More on the reunion tour made my thought process change. I was standing there, and it hit me that I don’t want to be in a metal band with screaming all the time. We’re heavy, yet from track-to-track, things change quite a bit.”
“More was revealed, so more was required,” adds Vext. “The overall tonality and approach resonated with me as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a vocalist. I was given a platform to tap into some musical influences I hadn’t yet explored in previous bands. All in all, it was some of the most diverse, original material I’ve gotten to wrap my hands around.”
“In no rush to put together something reminiscent of [his] musical past,” Boecklin quietly wrote over the course of 2015. During summer ‘16, he entered Audio Hammer Studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis [Trivium, All That Remains] and tracked what would become the group’s debut album.
“Starting from scratch is never easy,” admits Boecklin. “Many musical roads were traveled before getting to what you hear today—it’s trial and error. I kept reminding myself not to do what I’ve done before. Eventually, we started to hear what we wanted.”
Now, the first single “Learn To Live” snaps from a chugging polyrhythmic riff into a hummable bridge before colliding with an undeniable refrain that’s impossible to shake and the final scream, “You’d better learn to fucking live.”
“The aim of the song was to basically challenge listeners to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to take personal responsibility for my own happiness?’,” says Vext. “It’s a concept I use in my day-to-day life as a sober life coach. It’s meant to address situational depression, anxiety, and the disconnect from interpersonal relationships as a byproduct of social media addiction.”
Album opener “A Toast To The Ghosts” delivers a searing gut-punch punctuated by sharp succinct fretwork, smart-bomb precise percussion, and another searing vocal performance. Everything culminates on the pensive and punishing “Blood and Bones.” Vext adds, “It’s like an open letter to an abusive relationship partner that no longer serves you or the opposing counterpart. It’s left open to interpretation.”
Defined by a push-and-pull between incalculable instrumentation and soaring melodies, Bad Wolves will keep listeners guessing and thinking on their path to hard rock and metal supremacy.
“This is something new for me,” Boecklin leaves off. “It’s the most unique drumming I’ve ever done. Tommy has never sounded so good. The songs are much more diverse than anything from our collective past. I’d love for people to take away some sort of connection emotionally. That’s what all of the bands who inspire me do. Everything else doesn’t really matter.” – Rick Florino, March 2017