Branden Blacker of Suburban Paranoia “Respected. I’ve treated everyone I’ve jammed or worked with respect and love.”

Suburban Paranoia began in 1990 as punk/metal band and over the years has grown into fierce speed/power/thrash metal with melody unit that needs to be seen. Since the 90’s Suburban Paranoia has played many shows and tours and have evolved in their line up to what they are now. Currently a 3 guitar assault of sound of crunch and melody that needs to be heard. Charismatic and always full of energy, Suburban Paranoia’s live showcase is pure adrenaline and power that consistently wins over fans at every venue.

How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto metal?

“When I was about 13 my friend Matt showed me how to sort of play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on guitar. Before that I was into sports, and it steam rolled from there haha. Needless to say I no longer played sports after picking up the guitar. In terms of metal, I was turned on to it by my deadbeat dad who picked me up for a visitation when I was around 5 or 6 years old. I got into his Trans Am (no joke) and he turned it on and started blasting something loud and crazy, so I grabbed his arm at 5 or 6 years old and asked him…”What is this!?” He replied… “This is SLAYER SON!” and my love grew from there.”

What got you started playing music and how old were you?

“As I said in the last question, I was about 13 or so and just kind of picked up guitar. I never had to really be taught anything… I just picked it up and did it. Same thing with bass, vocals and drums. It came naturally.”

What was your local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

“Oh man.. The local East Bay area rock and metal scene were incredible in the years I started around 97/98. There were shows every weekend at The Depot, The Concord Vets Hall, The Pound SF, Slims SF, Bourbon St Bar amd Grill, The Time Out, The Danville Grange Hall and more.. there was always something to do. Back then I was in a couple shitty bands like The Burning or Bloodstool just having fun, but I truly enjoyed bands from that era like G2K, Domeshots, Fingertight, Insolence, Minus Capita, Clearing Autumn Skies, Un I.D. and a few others. ”

“Now, the scene is definitely not as prevalent, but it is there, with shows always at Red Hat Concord, Pine St. Livermore, Toots Tavern in Crockett, Ca and Vinnie’s Bar and Grill there is usually a good amount of shows happening every couple weeks. Some of the fore running top bands from this area include Toy Called God, Gurschach, His Name is Robert Paulson and The Devil In California.”

How did you become a vocalist and drummer? Are you proficient in any other instruments?

“I started singing hardcore punk rock in Bloodstool, where I was trying to channel the likes of AFI, NOFX, The Misfits and The Nerve Agents back when I was like 14 or 15. Eventually that changed to metal as I mostly focused on guitar for some old metal bands I was in. I didnt start taking up vocals again until I started creating Giving The Devil His Due, which the 1st recording were so awful haha. It was a brand of chaotic hardcore like Every Time I Die, From A Second Story Window and Bleeding Through and started playing guitar and singing for GTDHD live as a two man and drum machine unit. It was ok when it worked, but thats what turned me into a drummer. I was sick of having technical difficulties live from our “drum machine” so I started playing the tracks I programed and even sang lead vocals and drums live, it was weird, so eventually that turned into a full band. Chaos followed after that.”

You are currently in Surburban Paranoia & now again in Giving The Devil His Due, what kind of satisfaction does each band give to you?

“Suburban Paranoia gives me the satisfaction of being able to song write with like minded individuals who enjoy thrash metal. GTDHD gives me the satisfaction of writing the dark moody hardcore that I really want to create as it shows my internal struggle, as the vocalist of both, I can only do that with GTDHD because too many personalities bog down my vision in SP.”

Has music at all been therapeutic for you, is there a particular artist or type of music you go to for comfort?

No I wouldn’t say comfort, but I will say, when I’m having a bad or empathetic type of day, any band that Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch) is in will typically put me in a good mood as I belt out tunes in my car on my way to work.”

How has the metal scene, in the Bay Area changed, since your last Devastated Fest? What have been the positives and the negatives?

“The positives are that the bands are so good right now. There arent many shit bands clogging up good shows. The negatives are, there are not too many venues for a variety of shows to choose from sometimes. The bands for some reason are much easier and humbler to work with. I tried sooo hard to get Devastatedfest 3 off the ground in 2014. But, ALL the bands I was approaching wanted something, local bands, bands that didnt do much out of their county, etc.. they wanted guarantees, refused to sell tickets, etc etc etc… It didnt make any sense. So I gave this selfish scene a break. Now… The talent and musicians are sooo cool to talk to and deal with that it made booking D3 this year simple. Other than a headliner.. I had booked the entire line up within a week tops.”

How would you like to be remembered?

“Respected. Ive treated everyone Ive jammed or worked with respect and love. I would want to be remembered as someone did what they could to be creative while keep the music a priority.”

What was the first music you bought, what was the first concert you saw, where was it and with who?

“Haha, I honestly don’t want to say the 1st cd’s I bought myself because it was an impulse, because I had 6 bucks in my pocket and will buy the most affordable thing I could see… Lets just say, it wasn’t very metal haha.

“My first concert was actually with my friend who showed me the guitar. It was with him and his Dad, we sae The Misfits, Fear and The Groovy Ghoulies at The Crest Theater in Sacramento in 97.

You’re on a desert island and only have three albums to listen to for the rest of eternity, what are they and why?

Every Time I Die – “The Big Dirty”
Iron Maiden – “The Book of the Souls”
Metallica – “And Justice for All”

What does metal mean to you?

“Emotion. Life Pulse.”

Patrick Donovan of Toy Called God “Rock n Roll is the single greatest form of expression ever devised.”

Hailing from the Northern California Bay Area, the members of “Toy Called God” have already earned their stripes in the “land of freedom” since the bands inception in June 2010. With multiple nationwide tours, and countless shows in and around the Bay Area, the band continues to spread its music to the masses, taking each new step toward the ultimate goal in making “Toy Called God” a household name on a global scale.

How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto rock and heavy metal?

Music was just always on at our house, from a small age. My mother was always blasting all kinds of stuff, and my grandmother was always playing on the piano when we would visit her. Rock was definitely my mom, and metal just kind of happened through my own exploration and a little from friends from time to time.

What was your local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

Back in Pittsburgh when I grew up, it was all about a band called G-Force aka The Granati Brothers. Donnie Iris is the Pittsburgh Icon as well.

How did you become a guitarist ? Are you proficient in any other instruments?

I started on piano at age 8 with lessons from my grandmother, who classically trained, picked up the guitar at age 10 and have been off and running ever since.

What do you call the kind of music you perform in Toy Called God?

Everyone has a different name for what we do. Some call us a hard rock band, some call us a metal band, some call us an alternative band. to me we just play loud fun music, that we hope people can relate to themselves.

You were involved, in Project Independent for awhile, which some said was a pay to play scam. What happened with that and were they correct?

We got involved with the Project Independent contest in 2013 through a submission on Reverbnation. They always had a slot available for one band through Reverbnation for each city, so we got the SF Reverb slot. I can not speak to how other bands got entered or if there was a fee. Once we did the SF show and won the judging that night, we were entered in the next round, which was a fan voting poll. We finished second overall in voting nationally, which moved us to the final round. The final round, which was an industry panel judging our complete package of music, videos, entertainment during our live set, audience engagement etc. social presence etc etc.. and we finished third or fourth in that.

When they combined all the rounds together we had the highest overall score nationally which won us a spot on the 2014 tour the next year. We were unable to do it in 2014 due to personnel issues, but they did allow to go out with the tour in 2015 instead. Many think poorly of Project Independent, but it didn’t cost us anything, other than little effort and some gas money for our rv. For us it was a great experience.

Should artists and other entertainers, such as actors and atheletes keep quiet, about politics and social issues?

I think entertainers are there to entertain. I don’t care about their personal stance on any issue. Their opinion has no relevance on mine.

What is the plan for recording new music, where, when and with who will be recording you? Will there be bonus tracks, cover songs, vinyl and cassette?

We recorded our new album called “#Socialvangelism” in Livermore California with Tim Narducci producing. He has done all our albums. The album includes a duet with special guest vocalist Melissa Mari, it also features a cover of the Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby. It is due on form Sliptrick Records on September 18, 2018 on all digital platforms and in some retail locations as well.

What is your favorite Toy Called God song to play live and have you played all of your recorded music live?

Favorite song to play would probably be Only One Menace. Its always been my jam. We have played I’m guessing 32 of our now 38 song catalogue live at some point during the last 8 years.

You also work with Distilled Entertainment, what is your role there. What have been some of your successes and joys there?

I recently started booking some tours for bands who are not at the point where they are ready to do buyons with bigger tours. Heat Of Damage’s summer run and The double bill of End-Time Illusion and All Out Mutiny were fun tours to book and go check out live since I discovered new music I wasn’t yet aware of.

Who are your original influences and who are your current inspirations and admiration’s local and or national?

We all have that bucket list of bands we came up listening and many times, we all generally list the same few etc. For me though the dudes that inspired me most were dudes no ones knows that I grew up playing music with. The friends I jammed with, learned licks from and showed licks to are really the ones who got me going and kept me inspired to be better. Today I am inspired by so many of the bands we have shared the stage with, all over California and the nation. There are truly so many I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Has music at all been therapeutic for you, is there a particular artist or type of music you go to for comfort?

Music is definitely therapeutic for me. It’s my salvation. I’m not sure where I’d be without it. I have different choices depending on the mood I suppose.

What was the first music you bought, what was the first concert you saw, where was it and who was it?

First music I bought was The Doors “Greatest Hits”, “Shout At the Devil” By Motley Crue and “1984” by Van Halen. I got them cause my mom let me order them from her Columbia House subscription.

Top 5 albums or songs released in the last 12 months and all time? Top 5 all time albums Pink Floyds “Dark Side of The Moon”, “Appetite For Destruction” – Guns N’ Roses, “Cowboys From Hell” – Pantera, “Master Of Puppets” – Metallica and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “One More From The Road”.

What does rock n roll mean to you?

Rock n Roll is the single greatest form of expression ever devised. We are lucky enough to be alive while its happening.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Toy Called God.

National FM Radio campaign starts Sept 8, album drops Sept 18, and the start starts Sept 21. We’ll return to the Bay around Halloween and see what’s next.

 

CREATURES Guitarist Nick Galati “Metal is acceptance of everyone.”

Spawned in the Toronto murk in 2015, CREATURES is a group effort with a long history that intertwines the lives of numerous local bands to summon a truly devastating soundscape of unbridled chaos. Inspired by bands such as Necrophagist, Despised Icon and Thy Art Is Murder, CREATURES is a 6 piece band playing heavy and catchy deathcore, taking intense sounds and mixing in small elements of extreme and black metal.

How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto metal?

My love of music started early on in junior school when you were first allowed to take music class. I started off playing violin so I feel it was a natural progression for me to move to guitar when I got a little bit older. I suppose the first “metal” band I feel in love with would have to be Rage Against the Machines, hearing “Guerrilla Radio” for the first time while playing THPS 2 I remember feeling aw struck by the raw energy that song produced. From there metal kind of felt like a drug for me slowly moving to heavier and harder music.

What was your local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

The local scene has always been pretty solid here in Toronto there is a lot of support all round for everyone. I guess growing up all of us where really inspired by Protest the Hero. Not only in the form of music production and technicality but they were sort of GTA local guys that just grinded so hard and became local legends. I suppose one of our other favourite “local bands” that went on to really big things but eventually ended hanging it up would have to be Structures. It’s hard to name just one of my current favourite local bands so I’ll give you 3, Powerbomb, Being, Dawn Valley

How did you become a guitarist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?

I got into guitar from playing other stringed instruments in junior school violin and bass, so playing guitar was bound to happen coupled with my love for aggressive music. I wouldn’t say I’m proficient in other instruments but I can definitely pick up some drumsticks and have a nice jam session, same for the bass and keys. I am really into hip hop and dabble with making music in reason and logic as well.

What do you call the kind of metal you perform in Creatures?

We aren’t super huge into labels but the genre we most identify with would be Deathcore. We do try and incorporate many different other elements into the songs by using the keys adding some black metal vibes as well as adding some hardcore in the mix as well. We all listen to a lot of different styles of music and we try to bring all of our inspiration to the table when writing.

You have a lyric video for “Samara” that was shared by Beheading The Traitor. How well have they been received and how did you hook up with them?

I think our lyric video was fairly well received we had a few haters but for sure way more love than hate. We connected with Beheading the Traitor through Asher Media Relations I highly recommend their services.

Should artists and other entertainers, such as actors and athletes keep quiet, about politics and social issues?

I think if you have a platform that a mass quantity of people will listen to you from and you want to help change the world for the better more power to you. I don’t feel that any actor/entertainer/athlete is responsible to do so if they don’t feel compelled too, at the end of the day they are there to entertain you not to be political scientists.

New ep dropped on July, where did you record and with who?

We recorded the EP at Old Haunt Studios with Lucas DiMascio. This came about forming our new partnership and signing with Old Haunt Records.

Who are your original influences and who are your current inspirations and admiration’s local and or national?

Some of my original influences would have to be Protest the Hero, The Human Abstract, Suicide Silence, Emmure I still have so much respect and admirations for all these bands and they really push me to write more intense music. Current inspirations would have to go out to AngelMaker, Spite, and Black Crown Initiate all these artists are all slightly different in this respective genre and they all blow me away every time I put on their albums.

Has music at all been therapeutic for you, is there a particular artist or type of music you go to for comfort?

Music is very therapeutic for me especially getting on stage and performing, it is just such a great release and also such a comforting feeling. I wouldn’t say I have any specific artist or genre I listen to for comfort, I’m very mood driven when it comes to music one day I may listen to Cattle Decapitation for relaxing and the next day I may be needing some Dallas Green. For me it’s all based around how I’m feeling at the time and the environment I’m in as well.

What was the first music you bought, what was the first concert you saw, where was it and who was it?

It’s hard to say what the first album I bought was but I think it was probably Tubthumper by Chumbawamba (don’t judge me I was really young). The first concert I ever went to was the the White Stripes at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont. I was 13 or 14 and went with my current drummer at the time. I wasn’t even a big fan of the White Stripes but I was just so excited to go to a live show it didn’t even matter and it really was an amazing experience over all.

Top 5 albums or songs released in the last 12 months and all time?

Oh man that’s hard

Top five albums in the last 12 months:

  • Nothing is Beautiful – Spite
  • The Disfigurement of Existence – Signs of The Swarm
  • KOD – J. Cole
  • Nightbringers – The Black Dahlia Murder
  • 508-507-2209 – Joyner Lucas

Top 5 albums all time

  • Dissentient – AngelMaker
  • Kezia – Protest The Hero
  • Forest Hills Drive – J. Cole
  • The Documentary – The Game
  • The Cleansing – Suicide Silence

What does metal mean to you?

Metal means freedom, empowerment, release, anger and love all rolled into one. Metal is acceptance of everyone and transcends all creeds color and ideologies.

Enuff Z’Nuff Bassist Chip Z’nuff – “Its gonna be a celebration of the Sunset Strip”

In the video below Zoran Theodorovic talks with Enuff Z’Nuff bassist Chip Z’nuff. Enuff Z’nuff will release their new album Diamond Boy on August 10th via Frontiers Music Srl. Enuff Z’nuff are the living, breathing example of what a rock ‘n roll group should be. Now centered around bass player and vocalist Chip Z’nuff, Enuff Z’nuff are still alive and kicking with a legion of loyal fans, who can’t get enough of the band’s power pop melded with hard rock styling’s.

In addition to Chip Z’nuff, the band features longtime guitarist Tory Stoffregen, ex-Ultravox singer/guitarist Tony Fennell, and Chicago native Daniel Benjamin Hill on drums. Enuff Z’nuff continues to tour and record relentlessly and this new record shows once again what a truly gifted hard / power pop act they are. With no shortage of hooks and awesome songs, “Diamond Boy” is another gem in Enuff Z’Nuff’s crown!

On their upcoming tour with Jack Russel’s Great White and Bullet Boys..

“We’re not playing sheds, arenas and stadiums like Guns N’ Roses, but that’s ok, 1500 to 2000 seater’s, with a really reasonably priced ticket and its gonna be a celebration of the Sunset strip. Imagine all of the women who will be coming out to these shows, its gonna be jam packed. I cant wait to play.”

On his musical upbringing..

“My father was in the military in the late 50’s and a track star and of course he listened to bands like Black Sabbath, The Doors and he loved Janis Joplin. Between my mother and him they had a pretty illustrious history with music, they turned me onto to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin so that’s where it all started. For most kids its like that too.”

Mark Vollelunga of Nothing More “It feels really cool, honestly as an artist, its fun to not be pigeonholed into one genre.”

In the video below Jennifer Black talks with Daniel and Mark of Nothing More @ Cargo : Whitney Peak Hotel 255 N Virginia St, Reno, NV July 23rd, 2018

Mark Vollelunga on “Just Say When”

“It feels really cool, honestly as an artist, its fun to not be pigeonholed into one genre. Its nice when you get to be, very dynamic and you can make a song bare bones, kind of like “Just Say When.” It was personally fun for me, just to kind of mess around, with some different tuning’s. That song is just in some open major tuning, I can sort of be the percussion section too.”

 

Three-time Grammy nominee Nothing More sees its brand new single, the emotionally-charged “Just Say When,” already in the Top 25 at both Active and Mainstream Rock Radio.  The track is from Nothing More’s recent Best Rock Grammy nominated release The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Better Noise/E7LLG), and follows the mercurial “Go To War,” Nothing More’s first #1 track at Rock Radio.  The music video for “Just Say When,” which has already logged more than one-million video views.

Steve Braun of Halcyon Way “We’re really close to the Queensrÿche guys, it was kind of weird.”

In the video below Steve Braun of Halcyon Way talks taxes, management changes, touring with Geoff Tate and more with Iron Serbian of Capital Chaos TV

Based in Atlanta, Georgia and founded in 2001, Halcyon Way is the ultimate example of blue-collar work ethic, self-reliant bootstrapping, and hard work & perseverance in spite of nearly insurmountable odds. The award winning band has released four albums worldwide through Nightmare Records/Sony RED and most recently via Massacre Records, and has performed on 4 continents, and about 20 countries and counting.

On the economics of Halycon Way?

“Our new label, has actually put some money into us and gave us a little advance and helped out with promotion. They’ve put a bunch of money into promotion, but up until this point in our career, everything we’ve done with our own money and we hope to make it back by selling lots of records and lots of merch, its been on our own shoulders. It also helps us to appreciate, where we come from, because we’ve had to scratch and claw each and every step of the way.”

On touring with Geoff Tate and Operation Mindcrime?

“It was strange though when we first heard we were going out with Geoff Tate and Operation Mindcrime because we had toured with Queensrÿche, we were like, that’s gonna seem strange. Its like now we had completed the package, ya know. We’re really close to the Queensrÿche guys, it was kind of weird.”

Mario Quintero of Spotlights “The city of Tilberg, legalized mushrooms and weed, just for the days of the Roadburn Festival.”

In the interview below, Sarah, Mario & Chris of Spotlights talk producers, Roadburn, Depeche Mode and more Iron Serbian of Capital Chaos TV. The Brooklyn-based trio who released their Ipecac debut, Seismic, late last year, stream Hanging By Faith, a five-song EP featuring remixes from Void Manes and ISIS/Palms’ Aaron Harris.

Spotlights played a hometown show later this month, June 30 at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, with a handful of dates across the Northeast slotted for July:

June 30 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus

July 26 Hamden, CT The Outer Space +

July 27 Syracuse, NY The Lost Horizon +

July 28 Cambridge, MA Middle East

July 29 Philadelphia, PA Voltage Lounge

July 31 Amityville, NY Amityville Music Hall +

  • = w/Pallbearer & SUMOKEM

Spotlights is a Brooklyn-based trio featuring married couple Mario and Sarah Quintero alongside drummer Chris Enriquez. The band released Seismic in the fall of 2017 via Ipecac Recordings. Revolver said the outfit “balances delicate atmospherics” and “crushing sounds” on the Aaron Harris (ISIS/Palms) produced release, while Loudwire noted Spotlights’ knack for “letting songs breathe, taking their time in building up a track’s strength and beauty simultaneously.”. Treble Zine named the album one of the Top 20 metal releases of 2017, saying “Seismic is an atmospheric sludge odyssey that lives up to the earth-moving implications of its title.”