Johnny Royal Talks Black Lodge With PCM's Kristyn Clarke

Black Lodge was formed by Johnny Royal in 2012. The band creates a fusion between early Dubstep, Punk, Industrial and Dark Wave. PCM’s Kristyn Clarke was able to catch up with Black Lodge’s Johnny Royal to discuss the band’s formation, direction, and upcoming plans.

“The name come from an old Native American mythology. Certain tribes believe that particular woods were enchanted and that if you were to enter into these parts of these enchanted woods at a certain time…when the planets are aligned, you have to enter with a heart full of fear or a heart full of love. If  you do, you go into this other dimension and you either can go into what is called the White Lodge, which is like Heaven, or you can go to hell, or you can come back to Earth. If you come back to Earth, you come back with a gift. It plays into the idea with, where the music is, it’s on the darker side of things. It goes pretty deep into an idea of taking a look at the way things are in the world right now and really making a statement that there are things that are wrong. A lot of it comes from within the relationship between a father and his children.”

“This record is called The Diary of Tomahawk and it’s about a girl named Tomahawk that is sexually abused and raped by her father. And no one will listen to her or help her, so she starts practicing black magic. In Native American mythology, some tribes believe the Raven was a demi-god that required sex and blood to get certain powers. It would bring prophecy and wisdom, or the ability to see things differently. She does this ritual with the Raven, and then gains the power to see demons in people. So she starts going out and basically killing everybody that she finds that has these demons. And on the outside, the world views her as a serial killer, but really she’s a dark angel. So the album takes the listener through a journey through each song, which is a chapter out of her diary from the first song which is “Bedtime” and further on to her visiting The Raven and then into another song called “Memory Of Fire” when she gains this power  .”

“The sound goes into heavy industrial punk and rock. And it has a lot of old punk elements infused into it. There’s a lot inspiration drawn from bands like The Misfits, Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly. We’re incorporating some old Dubstep beats which are overlaced with different kinds of analogs and instruments such as an Ekdahl Moisturizer and the Formatron which are really hard to find and are rare instruments.”

The whole idea behind the album and the story sounds completely fascinating. It could almost have a companion film. When I mentioned this to Johnny he said “Part of the plan is, we’re working with a company named Haus of Seven. He worked with Nine Inch Nails for a long time and he’s an amazing cinematographer. So what we talked about doing is storyboarding out each song. So we’re going to have a video for each song but the video isn’t going to just be a music video, it’s going to be more of a web series and going through the visual aspects of Tomahawk’s journey.”

When asked if the album would best be listened to as a whole, almost like a concept album he answered  “It is a concept album for sure. Part of the elements missing from music today is when you look back at all of the great things that came out, there were these musicians and artists who spent so much time thinking about the idea of what they really actually wanted to say. And they would let the music tell the story. Nowadays, a lot of bands, what they do is crank out song after song after song for their record label, or to fill a quota, or they just don’t spend time really formulating their ideas. So, when I started writing this, I laid out the whole idea about what I really wanted to say and how I wanted to tell a story. And what I wanted to say was that a lot of the general problems in the world, and especially in this country, are that they start with the father and the daughter relationship. There are a lot of really bad fathers out there, who do all kinds of terrible things to their daughters.  It’s about bringing to light that there is a major problem with…rape, and other things like that that I want to call out. And I want to call it out in a way that’s not just being an advocate against it, but it’s really bringing some shock value. A lot of times the only time the country will wake up to something is when you scare the sh**t out of them and make them think about it.”

With the music industry being in its’ current state, we were curious to how big of a challenge it was getting backing for this project. Johnny claims “Surprisingly, it [getting backing] wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be because the people that I’ve worked with over the years in the music business, know that when I start writing something or take on a project that I put everything into it. And I do it in a smart way. I’m not out trying to write hit songs or get radio play. I have something to say. And I’m doing it the way I want to do it this time. So there are a lot of really cool things that are going to happen from that vision. And I also think that Industrial music in general is going to start coming back with a force over the next couple years. It has been awhile since it has and the only other band that has managed to do that significantly over the past ten years has been Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor is definitely to be respected because he did it his way. He didn’t go out and write all these catchy songs and he’s an amazing composer and an amazing artist. He wrote what he was feeling and what he had to say and I think that says something about the general rules of the universe which is that the closer you can bring yourself to illuminating the aesthetic of what is inside of you to the rest of the world the more that you will have a strong bond with commonality from person to person. For example when someone can feel that something is honest and raw they will gravitate toward it regardless if it is being played on the radio or not, it’s just a matter of getting it in front of them. ”

I asked for his thoughts on the up rise of social media and the ease of being able to quickly share information with individuals to which he said ” That’s another thing too…I’ve done social media stuff for a long time and I think one of my strong points in doing that is understanding the psychology of people which is that a lot of brands that are out there, a lot of record companies and bands think that the general public are stupid and they’re not! People are very instinctual  beings and they know when something is real.”

We are sure that the stage show to go along with this project is going to be visually stunning and inquired about upcoming touring plans. Johnny says “We are looking at doing 60 dates next summer just to start and the goal is that once we get going..this is going to be a transitional point, not just for me, but for the rest of the guys as well. Once we get going we want to stay on the road and pretty much live on the road…the road taught me many years ago what freedom really meant. The idea that you have no limitations except for what you set for yourself  and all of us want to get back to that feeling. ”

In regards to the target release date for the album Johnny says ” We are still writing and framing up a lot of the tracks. We are looking at two incredible producers at this time and are hoping to come to a decision on that very soon and we are hoping to have the first track release in early 2013. We are taking our time with everything and once all of the tracking is done and everything is mixed and mastered then we have to produce all of the video elements. We want everything to be in a row before we put anything out there .”

He then went on to discuss with PCM one of his defining musical moments in life. “My first concert ever was The Cure and The Human League when I was about nine years old…my mother took me and it was in Pittsburgh, PA. That changed my life and then after that there were  venues in my hometown called the Jam N’ Skate and Paradise Arcade that put on punk shows every weekend. For close to five years until the place closed down I was religiously there every weekend. Real punk rock…bands like GBH and The Exploited and old New York hardcore bands like Bold and the Gorilla Biscuits and the Misfits…the first album I ever bought was a vinyl copy of “Walk Among Us” by The Misfits and that was right after The Cure show, there was a record called “Eides” in Pittsburgh and I was there all the time as well. I discovered a band called Half -Life in Pittsburgh and that band provided another defining musical moment in my life. Just seeing those guys up there making this great music…these ideas of the freedom of thought and liberty and knowing you can do whatever the f**k you want to do. I have had punk in my heart since I was a kid and then later on I discovered industrial and fell in love with that stuff too…the combination of the punk scene and then finding industrial music are probably the two biggest defining musical moments in my life.”

Johnny was also asked about some of the additional projects he has in the works and although Black Lodge is the major one for the time being he is also working on a documentary film called “The Royal Art” which is about the Freemasons. He says ” I’ve been a Freemason for going on six years now and that is something that is very important to me in my life, but that is a whole other project and it’s really cool, really ethereal and esoteric and it lets the actions and the characters kind of tell the story of what Freemasonry is and the legacy of it going back to 2500 BC.”

He is also very excited about the Black Lodge line-up and is thrilled to be working with such a talented group of individuals. The line-up is: Shawn Bann: Guitar and Bass,Ventura Banvelos: Programming, Justin Green: Drums and Programming, Christopher Rhinesmith: Vocals, Johnny Royal: Composition, Guitar and Programming and Scott Vera: Composition and Programming. “When I started putting this together I wanted to find guys that I could trust and the aesthetic and the connective tissue between all of us which I didn’t even realize starting out…all of us have had some really dark things happen to us in life that we are in a way channeling through this music and letting it out. We are not the kind of people who are depressed and angry, but we are pissed off at the way that the world is and we have something to say about it. ”

To keep up-to-date with Black Lodge be sure to visit the band’s Facebook Page and stay tuned for more details soon!  This is one project that we, here at PCM, are truly excited about and hope you will be too!

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Vans Warped Tour Low Down

Fearless Records’ Chunk! No, Captain Chunk have recently announced that they will be joining the lineup of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. The band will be bringing their own brand of power pop punk to the lineup. You can check out their official Facebook page here and watch their Youtube videos here.

 

Dark rockers Motionless In White premiered their new video “Puppets” yesterday on WarpedTour.com. The release comes at the same time as the band’s announcement that they have joined the 2012 Warped Tour lineup. Motionless In White will be touring before the Warped Tour with Asking Alexandria and are currently in the studio with legendary producer Tim Skold (Marilyn Manson). Check out their website and tour dates here.

 

Matt Toka, a native to Ohio who has generated buzz for his punky/poppy melodic songs, has just been added to the Vans Warped Tour lineup for this summer and his self-titled EP will be released on June 12th. The six-track EP includes the studio versions of previous YouTube-only tracks “666” and “Ode To My Family,” as well as “Say10,” which is currently available via all digital retailers. The Warner Bros. Records punk/pop artist  has also recently released a video for his song Get Money.” You can check out Matt Toka’s Youtube page here and his official website here.

 

Los Angeles’ Dead Sara will be touring with the Vans Warped Tour this summer in support of their new self-titled debut album. Known for their high-octane live performances, the band just wrapped up their tour with Chevelle and are preparing to play at the Warped Tour. You can check out the bands official website, tour dates, and new single “Weatherman” here.

 

To check out the tour dates and to buy tickets for Vans Warped Tour, click here.

 

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Dan Vickrey of Counting Crows Talks Underwater Sunshine With PCM! Atlantic City Concert Review!

Interview by: Kristyn Clarke
Photography by: Ken Schuler

Alternative rock band Counting Crows are well known on a global scale. Having gotten their start in 1991, the Counting Crows have maintained their status as one of the top alternative rock bands for two decades. With the release of their newest album Underwater Sunshine, as well as their Outlaw Roadshow Tour in full swing, the Counting Crows again are reminding audiences why they are truly a number one band.

“So far so good,” Dan Vickrey, lead guitarist of Counting Crows has said about the positive response towards their album. “And…it seems to be well received at the shows. People seem to really love the songs.”

Compiling the tracks for the album Underwater Sunshine was a difficult process for the band. “There are some we threw out from the very beginning,” Vickrey said about the band’s attempt at picking which songs would make the cut. “Some we tried, and it didn’t work. And these [the songs on the album] were the ones that added up. We didn’t have to0 many extra ones. We didn’t have a lot of time to do it, so we had to put a time constraint on ourselves…this is really what we came up with. These are a good choice of songs and they work together well.”

The band is excited to bring the new album on the road with their Outlaw Roadshow Tour. “I’m just glad to be out playing,” Vickrey confessed. “I think the concerts are really great. I think the feeling is the band is really playing better than it ever has. And frankly, Adam is singing better than he ever has. He’s just really in a great groove right now…the band is in a good groove. I think it’s a combination of us not having played for so long and then coming back with these great songs.”

The Counting Crows are a band that have made a name for themselves in the world as a band that will know success no matter what. We had the recent pleasure of attending The Counting Crows recent show in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel and Casino Event Center and fans came out in droves to rock out with The Crows who played a fantastic set that included many fan favorites side by side with new tracks off  Underwater Sunshine. Vocalist Adam Duritz led the band through a thirteen song set and the audience was up on their feet and grooving for the entire show. No matter how many years have gone by since the band’s inception The Counting Crows are a band that is not afraid to take risks and their live show is always a treat, as the band is constantly re-inventing their songs with different tempos or styles giving everything an overall fresh take.

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Borgata Set List:
Sullivan Street
Untitled (Love Song) – The Romany Rye cover
Daylight Fading
I Wish I Was A Girl
Hospital – Coby Brown cover
Colorblind
Meet Me On The Ledge – Fairport Convention cover
Start Again – Teenage Fanclub cover
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – Bob Dylan cover
Miami
A Long December
Like Teenage Gravity – Kasey Anderson cover
Rain King
ENCORE
The Ballad Of El Goodo – Big Star cover
Come Around
Holiday In Spain

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Redlight King Perform Bullet In My Hand At Carolina Rebellion!

Redlight King recently made a stop at the Carolina Rebellion festival in Rockingham NC, performing alongside the likes of Shinedown, Korn, Evanescence, and many more. The band shared a brand new clip featuring a performance of “Bullet In My Hand” (from the band’s debut album, Something For the Pain, available now on iTunes) to a crowd of over 30.000 people.

Redlight have also just released a special remix of their track “Comeback,” which is featured on the official soundtrack for The Avengers. For more on the band, including tour dates and ticket info, visit their official site at www.redlightkingmusic.com.

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A Rocket to the Moon’s Eric Halvorsen Talks Rejects Tour, Upcoming Album and More!

Photography by: Ken Schuler
Words and Interview by: Allison Ebner

While on the hunt for a place to eat lunch, bassist Eric “Halvo” Halvorsen took some time to speak with PCM’s Allison about A Rocket to the Moon’s latest tour with the All-American Rejects, upcoming album and much more!

Like most of us, Eric is a long-time fan of the Rejects.  “I’ve been listening to them since middle school. A friend introduced me way back when ‘cause he grew up with someone who knew Tyson or something, so I’ve known about them for a long time,” he explained. “It’s pretty surreal to be on a tour like this. We’ve done a couple like this, you know, like with Hanson. It’s just kind of weird that we’re out with them, but definitely an honor and really, really cool that we get to watch them every night and hear good music.”

The tour, which only featured The Rejects and A Rocket to the Moon, certainly provided any music lover with an excellent evening of live music, but Eric knows that each crowd is its own entity.  “It’s different every night. You know, our vibes vary just as much as the crowds’ do, so I guess just whether people are really excited or just kind of sitting there, you just have to make the most of the crowd’s energy and realize that you in front of a whole new audience. I’m in a band playing music and not sitting at home working a sh!tty job, so it’s like no matter what the energy is like, it’s awesome what we’re doing. I always remind myself of that.”

Eric is right about that. Who wouldn’t love to tour the country with their best friends doing what they love to do? But even more than that, the band (including Nick Santino, Justin Richards and Andrew Cook) makes the most of their opportunities, not just playing their own music but learning from the musicians they have shared the stage with.

We’ve definitely learned so much from the bands we have toured with, especially Hanson. You know, things like doing the three-part harmony, we definitely picked up that up from them,” he explained as I recalled the three-part harmonies they employed on their cover of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’. “Never Shout [Never], as well. Yeah, we try and pick up and learn things from every band we’ve ever toured with and try to take as much as we can from each tour.”

There is also, though, always time for some good times. This tour, however, proved to be more driving than anything else. “We’ve had a lot of long drives which is a little unfortunate,” Eric laughed. “We haven’t had the opportunity to hang out with The Rejects too much. But when we have, it’s always been fun. We went out for Tyson’s birthday, which was a really good time. Everybody went to the bar and we were playing video games and whatnot.”

So how does Eric and the band make their own fun on the long drives? “It depends,” he began. “If I have a good book, I’ll read. Usually, we watch a lot of movies. We just got all of the Seinfeld episodes on my computer so we’ve been marathoning that pretty much every drive lately. But I’d say most of the time, I sleep.”

He also has developed another habit he seems to have a love-hate relationship with. “I’ve been buying a lot of records lately, I guess, that’s been a bad habit,” he revealed with a laugh. When I told him it could, in fact, be a good habit, he responded, “well, my wallet would say otherwise. Vinyl and stuff. So I’ve been into that. It’s my newfound little collection and hobby.”

But buying records isn’t the only thing that’s been keeping Eric busy. He and the band have also been busy making a new A Rocket to the Moon album – the first in over two and a half years. With so much time passed, it’s natural that their music would reflect the progression.

Well, it’ll be three years in October that On Your Side has been out so we’ve been touring that whole time and growing as musicians and listening to other styles of music. I guess it’s kind of cliché to say we’re maturing and that stuff, but it’s really just the way to put it,” Eric said. “We’ve kind of evolved through time as musicians and that will definitely show through the songs on the new record.”

One aspect we may notice more so with this record is the country influence. “We worked with a country producer named Mark Bright, so not only did he have a country influence on it, but [recording in] Nashville itself. I guess just the people we were around and the environment was what influenced it the most.”

Eric acknowledges this new taste of country may surprise some fans, but it’s nothing all that drastically new. “There’s definitely probably a couple that kids are going to be a little surprised about. There’s a few that are pretty raw and there’s a couple that are pretty country and stuff, so I’m sure people will be surprised. But it’s not too different for us.”

This is perhaps best exemplified by the new song they played on the Rejects tour called “Going Out.” As Eric explains it, the song epitomizes what has “always been the message of our band: to have a good time with your friends and music and whatnot,” but seamlessly mixes the hint of country that Nashville and its people brought to the album and gets everyone excited to hear more.

“It’s been great,” he continued. “Everyone seems to really enjoy it and have a good time during it. Whether they’ve heard it before or not, everyone seems to dance and clap along.”

While their summer plans remain mum, Eric did confirm that they are planning on releasing the album sometime in the summer, though touring plans are still up in the air at this point. They are in the early stages of piecing together the plan of putting out the album, so stay tuned for release dates, tour dates and more! It’s going to be a good year for A Rocket to the Moon – you’ll definitely want to check them out!

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Hunting On The Range with Bill Kelliher of Mastodon

Words by: Matt Bishop
Photography by: Ken Schuler
Produced by: Kristyn Clarke

Mastodon have become a metal force to be reckoned with, and Sunday at Rock On The Range 2012 was no different. Shortly before there set, guitarist Bill Kelliher stopped by to talk to me for a few minutes. Mastodon had just come off the Heritage Hunter Tour with co-headliners Opeth. Bill told me that the tour went great. He said that all the bands on the tour were very different from each other, which made for a great mix. Bill and I also talked about Mastodon’s latest album, The Hunter. He told me that the band made a conscious effort to simplify things this time around. “We didn’t over-think it. We used to spend months and months in the studio taking each riff and making it harder than it had to be. We captured our spontaneity this time.”

Musically, Mastodon are one of the greatest bands of their generation. They have been nominated for two Grammy Awards, their last three albums have all charted in the Top 50 on the Billboard Top 200. The band has rocked out on some of the world’s biggest stages including Download, Coachella, Sonisphere, Bonnaroo, and, of course, Rock On The Range. In 2007, Bill and fellow guitarist Brent Hinds won the Metal Hammer Golden God Award for “Best Shredders.” Just this year, drummer Brann Dailor was nominated for the Revolver Golden God Award for “Best Drummer.” After ROTR, Mastodon are catching a plane and heading to Europe, hitting festivals all summer long. Hunt down some tickets and get ready to CRANK IT UP!

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