Lead Vocalist of the Week – M.Shadows

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Matthew Charles Samuels was born on the 31st of July 1981, better known as M.Shadows the lead vocalist and songwriter for the American heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold. M.Shadows posesses the voice type of high baritone. A baritone is a classical male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voice types, the baritone is the most common male voice type. He is well-known for his gritty singing style and occasional screaming.

M.Shadows started singing at an early age, but his interest in rock music grew as he got older and started playing the guitar. His early musical experience with the piano, had a strong influence on his guitar playing and singing voice. He attended Huntington Beach High School where he played in a punk band called “Successful Failure” for a brief period. M.Shadows later formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999 along with his high school friends Zacky Vengeance, The Rev and Matt Wendt. Soon after one of The Rev’s friends joined the band as the lead guitarist. In 2001 the band released their first studio album called Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, the album gained mixed to positive reviews from critics. The band released their second album Waking The Fallen in 2003 and the band played the Vans Warped tour later that year. While discussing the band’s name, M.Shadows says that all the band members had the task of coming up with a list of names and he was the only one who completed the task. Avenged Sevenfold is a reference to the Book of Genesis, a name that the band  preferred over Lips of Deceit, another biblical note.

M.Shadows like the rest of the band has stage names, because many of the bands that inspired them for example Slash from Guns ‘n Roses and Munky of  Korn had stage names. He decided on the name M.Shadows, because he felt like the darker character of the group and he used M instead of his first name Matthew due to the way it sounded.

Shadows’ vocal style has evolved over the years, initially on the band’s first album he used a harsh metalcore-style growls with limited use of clean vocals. The release of the band’s second album demonstrated his progression towards melodic vocal melodies but still retained a strong screaming influence. With the release of City of Evil the band’s first major label release in 2005 featured minimal background screaming, stronger vocal melodies and increased attention on harmonies and melodic hooks. This change resulted in vocal contributions from each band member during live performances and remained prevalent on every album the band has released since 2005 with two exceptions being God Hates Us and Not Ready To DIe which returns to the band’s style of their earlier releases between 1999 – 2003.

One of M.Shadows biggest influences is Guns ‘n Roses, he cites them as the reason for him being in a band and writing music in the first place. He was also influenced by bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne and Pantera. M.Shadows says that Megadeth are the reason they incorporated a classic metal sound into their music, because that type of sound crosses over and extreme metal doesn’t.

Some might say that these influences was what lead to Machine Head frontman Rob Flynn calling “Hail To The King” a covers album. Rob went as far as to list 10 jokes about the album and the similarities the album/songs have with other classic rock bands. After Chris Jericho (Fozzy singer/WWE Wrestler) made M.Shadows aware of the comment he responded to the claim by shrugging it off and taking it as a joke. He has met Rob on many occasions and he says that Rob has always been friendly to him. As a joke M.Shadows thinks Rob might have gone a little overboard, but he realizes that everyone has their own opinion.

I decided to feature M.Shadows on the blog when I saw a screenshot of their “Hail To The King” music video on Loudwire.com. I was very impressed with the video’s style and the execution. I will admit that I was pretty intrigued by M.Shadow’s long hair, although the overall verdict on YouTube didn’t sound as positive. I’ a sucker for a guy with long hair!

The following quote was taken from an interview M.Shadows had with Metal Injection: http://www.metalinjection.net/latest-news/drama/avenged-sevenfolds-m-shadows-declares-metal-dropped-off-after-the-90s

“We feel that metal dropped off after the ’90s in terms of production and songwriting,” Shadows said after naming the likes of Pantera, Metallica and Megadeth as the new record’s main influences. “Metal music isn’t at the forefront as much as it used to be.”

The vocalist elaborated further, “We wanted to write a record that was highly influenced by the early ’90s records and mid-’80s records we grew up on. Then we went back even further and were influenced by [Black] Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. We studied those records, looked at what they were doing and how they were doing it. A lot of them came out of the blues, so we studied the blues and classical music. We just wanted to write a record that was different.”

View the latest video from Avenged Sevenfold here:

You can follow the band on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/TheOfficialA7X

Source: AVENGED SEVENFOLD PHOTO SESSION SHOT AT CLUB REVOLUTION. FT LAUDERDALE , FL. 17 OCTOBER 2005. PICTURES LARRY MARANO/LFI © LARRY MARANO/LONDON FEATURES

Source: AVENGED SEVENFOLD PHOTO SESSION SHOT AT CLUB REVOLUTION. FT LAUDERDALE , FL. 17 OCTOBER 2005. PICTURES LARRY MARANO/LFI © LARRY MARANO/LONDON FEATURES

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Vocalist of the Week – Cristina Scabbia

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Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia was born on the 6th of June 1972 in Milan, Italy. As a child Cristina was influenced by all different genres of music, but one of her first influences was Genesis, Led Zeppelin, AC-DC, and traditional Italian music. She has 2 brothers and a sister, all of them had different tastes in  music. Christina started listening to metal music in her 20’s.

In 1991 Cristina started singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and mostly provided backing  vocals. Later that same year she met male vocalist Andrea Ferro and Marco Coti Zelati from the band which was formerly known as Sleep of Right. The band later changed their name to Ethereal. In 1996 the band changed their name for a third time after a Greek band had already claimed the name Ethereal. Lacuna Coil is a mix of Italian and English words and can be translated as Empty Spiral.  Cristina was first employed only as a session singer. She was initially only employed to give backing vocals for the choruses of the songs that was going to be on their demo tape. The band started to like the way the male/female vocals sounded together and asked Cristina to become a permanent member. The band recorded a two track demo tape in May of 1996 and they were soon signed by the German branch of Century Media, eventually joining the American branch as well.  In 1997 Lacuna Coil played their first live concert supporting their label-mates Moonspell. Anxiety, stage-fright and intense emotions led to the break-up of the band.  Their debut self-titled EP was recorded at the Woodhouse Studio in Hagen, Germany. Shortly after, there came the departure of bandmates Raffael Zagaria, Claudio Leo, and Leonardo Forti. After several changes to the band’s line-up, only three members from the original line-up was left, namely Andrea, Marco and Cristina. Cristiano ‘CriZ’ Mozzati (drums) and Cristiano ‘CriZ’ Mozzati (guitar) officially joined the band in 1998. Not long after their second tour they recorded their debut album, In A Reverie, adding another guitarist Marco Biazzi in the process. Since then the band has released 5 more studio albums.

Cristina started dating guitarist Marco Coti Zelati around about 1994, their relationship lasted about 10 years and they went through an engagement period before they broke up. They still remain friends and professional partners. Cristina is currently dating James Root, one of the musicians from Slipknot and Stone Sour. Cristina writes an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver alongside musician Vinnie Paul.

Cristina has been featured as a guest artist several times.

Watch Over You – Alter Bridge

Basta! – L’Aura feat Rezophonic

S.O.S. (Anything But Love) – Apocalyptica

A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) – Megadeth

Can You  Hear Me? – Rezophonic

I’m That – Franco Battiato

Nell’acqua – Rezophonic

Cristina’s family is very supportive of her endeavours and has had faith in her abilities as a musician ever since she joined the band. Cristine enjoys watching movies, photography, shopping, cooking and spending time with her friends and family. Her favourite sport is soccer and she supports AC Milan. When she is in the United States she enjoys watching the Food Network and she is a fan of Emeril. She enjoys watching Giada De Laurentiis’ program Everyday Italian and Rachael Ray’s program 30 Minute Meals. She took an interest in PETA when a friend showed her a video of animal cruelty. She would like to tell people who although fur has a certain aesthetic appeal, you could still get the same effect without killing animals for their fur. She claims she has a lot of faux fur jackets that you can’t even tell are fake. At the moment Cristina’s favourite bands are said to be Depeche Mode, Linkin Park, Korn and InFlames. Her favourite colours are red, black and white, her favourite Lacuna Coil album is Unleashed Memories. Her favourite singers are Tori Amos and Skye of Morcheeba

Cristina first came to my attention when she appeared as a guest artist on Apocalyptica’s S.O.S (Anything But Love). Her voice is clear, powerful and captivating. You can check out the video for the song here:

You can follow Cristina on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissScabbia

You can Like her page on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cristina-Scabbia-Official/101367981705

Frontman of the Week – Chester Bennington

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Chester Charles Bennington was born on the 20th of March 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona to a mother who was a nurse and a father who was a police detective working mainly with child abuse cases. He became the victim of sexual abuse when he was about 7 or 8 years old. He didn’t want to tell anyone, because he was afraid people might think he is gay or lying. The abuse was subtle at first but escalated up until the age of 13. His parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody. His father worked endless double shifts, his older brother and sister had left home, while his other sister was never around. Chester resented everyone in his family and wanted to run away. He decided to express himself through poetry and art. He listened to Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots to help him cope. Chester’s first band that he was a part of was called Grey Daze, he developed meaningful friendships with his band mates. He gained some of his confidence back that he lost during his childhood, but found new ways to escape from the abuse he suffered in childhood. He started to indulge in heavy drinking, doing drugs and having sex with a number of girls. At the age of 16 he was doing a lot of LSD and heavily abusing alcohol. When they couldn’t find acid, they turned to speed. They were doing bong-hits of meth.

At the age of 17, Chester’s mom was so shocked by his emaciated appearance that she banned him from leaving the home. He continued drinking and smoking weed to ward off any cravings he might have. He admits that he was a full-blown raging alcoholic. Grey Daze opened for any national act that would come through Phoenix, they were able to sell out a 2000 seater on their own. They released two albums which was well received locally but failed to spark interest nationally. Tension in the band would ultimately lead to the gradual dissolution of the band.

Surprisingly Chester Bennington at the age of 22 was working at a digital services firm. married and at that point his music career didn’t look very promising.

In Los Angeles there were five musicians who wanted to find a way to blend hip-hop and rock music. Mark Wakefield introduced Mike Shinoda to members of his High School hardcore band, drummer Rob Bourdon and guitarist Brad Delson. Two other friends of the band joined and the band was named Xeno. When Wakefield left the band Xeno needed a vocalist and when Zomba’s Jeff Blue showed some interest in their music they handed over a demo to Jeff hoping something promising would come of it.

On the 20th of March 1999 Chester picked up the phone not knowing that Jeff Blue was on the other end. He told Chester that he thought this band that he found might just be the big break that he was looking for. Jeff sent Chester a demo informing him that the band had a hip-hop/rock vibe going on. Chester wasn’t really into hip hop music then, but the band didn’t disappoint and Chester knew he could take their music to the next level. He recorded his vocals the very next day, he played it to Jeff and was on the steps of the Zomba Music studios the very next day. Jeff was sure Chester would be the best man for the job, but the band wasn’t so sure, because they were auditioning vocalists at the time. Chester thought he was doing the band a favour, because he had been in a successful band and they just viewed him as another option on a long list of musicians. The band was indecisive but eventually Chester was hired. The band was now called Hybrid Theory. Chester and Mike Shinoda worked on their music feverishly and Chester shared his abusive past with Mike while they were writing. Chester was homeless in LA and had to sleep in his new band mates’ sofas, cars and at a rehearsal studio. The only thing that kept him going during this time was the knowledge that the band had something special going for them.

When the band wasn’t working on their music, they were trying to generate interest online by posting mp3’s. Despite positive reactions and feedback the band still couldn’t get record labels interested. They played over 50 showcases for various record labels and they couldn’t believe that nobody was interested. Jeff Blue had been hired at Warner Brothers A+R department and decided to make Hybrid Theory his first signing. They signed to Warner Brothers in 2000 and they had another band on their label called Hybrid. That lead to Hybrid Theory changing their name to Linkin Park. Some people at the record label weren’t particularly friendly towards the band the band’s producer only liked about 2 of their songs which meant that the band had to rewrite their album. The label wanted to promote the band as Chester’s band and wanted to make him the star forcing Mike to be demoted to the keyboard player or left out of the band entirely. Chester resisted immediately, because he got the job thanks to Mike. The band cut off all communications with the record label unless it was absolutely necessary. They stood their ground and insisted on recording their music, their own way. They were proud and exhausted when they finished the record.

The band’s debut album was released on the 24th of October 2000, the band was parked outside a 24hr record store waiting to go in to buy the first copy of their new album. The band started to speculate about the amount of album sales that they could expect their debut album to sell in its first week. The band’s bassist thought it might sell 3000 copies, but Chester thought it might sell 8000 copies. At the end of the first week Hybrid Theory had sold 47, 000 copies and the band couldn’t believe it. Following the release of their debut album it is estimated that the band played about 300 shows in 365 days, they played about 5/6 shows a week. The press hailed the band as the latest success story and the leaders of the nu-metal movement, a label which they didn’t appreciate. They didn’t feel as if they had anything in common with the bands that were categorised into the genre they were placed in. The band had to face criticism from the press that claimed that the band were put together by their label and that they were essentially a rock version of a boy band.

Their morale started to drop because of the constant touring, it drained them of their energy and everywhere they went it was either cold, raining or snowing. Chester started to feel estranged from his new band mates, he was drinking and heavily into smoking pot. Chester and his wife were constantly at each other’s throats, his mood swings caused his band mates to be wary of him and they avoided talking to him about anything that might fuel an argument. He felt lonely, he never performed a show sober and smoked weed right up until the time they went on stage. Immediately after the show he would go and get drunk.

From 2001 to 2002 the band’s schedule became even more intense. In their downtime Mike Shinoda remixed Hybrid Theory for their Reanimation project. Mike underestimated the amount of work he was going to have to put in. He ended up having to juggle 30 artist’s work and schedules, he vowed never to do it again.

The band then entered the studio to record their second album Meteora and experienced a lot of pressure due to Hybrid Theory’s success. On the 25th of March 2003 Meteora was released to commercial and critical success. After the album’s release Linkin Park hit the road and didn’t stop touring for another two years.

By the end of 2004 the band needed a break, because they were completely burnt out. Chester was trapped in a marriage which wasn’t working and he was drinking more heavily by the day. He wasn’t leaving the house, he would sit in his closet in the dark the whole day and shake all day. He would wake up drink a pint of Jack Daniels, drink some pills and return to his closet where he would stay for the rest of the day. He fell through windows, endured seizures and went on frequent hospital visits. By his own admission he was a total wreck.

Fortunately he decided to ask for help and everybody he cared about came to his aid. He became sober, divorced, remarried and he opened himself up to his band mates during emotional counselling sessions. Chester didn’t realise the effect his behaviour had on his band mates and he has tried everything he could to stay sober since.

The renewed atmosphere led the band to feel as if they had more creative freedom in writing and recording their third album. They were tempted to repeat their formula, but they had to take a risk and try something new. Minutes to Midnight went to number 1 in 23 countries. Linkin Park’s fourth album A Thousand Suns was released on the 14h of September 2010. Their fifth album Living Things was released on the 26th of June 2012 with the first single Burn It Down met with critical success.

Recently the band Stone Temple Pilots fired their lead vocalist Scott Weiland. Shortly after the announcement on the 19th of May 2013 STP released a free download of their new single Out of Time ft Chester Bennington via their official website. The website featured new promotional pictures with Chester Bennington and the rest of the band which implied that he will be recording and touring with the band at least for the time being. Chester grew up listening to the band and when the opportunity came up to join the band, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Chester has endured much difficulty in his life, but I believe that his experiences made him who he is today. A strong, talented and resilient man.

You can follow Chester Bennington on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ChesterBe

You can follow Linkin Park on Twitter: https://twitter.com/linkinpark

You can follow Stone Temple Pilots on Twitter: https://twitter.com/STPBand

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Musician of the Week – Cello Player Perttu Kivilaakso

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From the very first time that I was exposed to Apocalyptica’s music, Perttu has fascinated me the most. At first it was for obvious reasons (:D), but he is an extremely talented musician.

The musical prodigy Perttu Päivö Kullervo Kivilaakso was born on the 11th of May 1978 in Helsinki, Finland. Like fellow band members Eicca Toppinen and Paavo Lötjönen he attended Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He started playing the cello when he was only 5 years old after witnessing his father Juhani Kivilaakso perform at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Perttu joined Apocalyptica in 1994 when he was only 16. When the band started their professional career Perttu decided to concentrate on his studies. He won third place in the Paulo Cello Competition in 1996, and joined the Helsinki Philarmonic Orchestra. Perttu attained a  lifetime chair in the Helsinki Philharmonic orchestra,  where his father, Juhani,is also a cellist. He played alongside his father and many other talented musicians. In 1999 Perttu rejoined the band when they were making preparations to record for the album “Cult” and he replaced Antero Manninen who left the band. He was on indefinite leave while he was touring with Apocalyptica,  but in 2007 he made the decision to leave the Helsinki Philarmonic Orchestra and to concentrate on achieving international success with Apocalyptica.

Perttu was part of the band line-up when their third album “Cult” was released in 2000.

Perttu listened to opera since childhood and he is a true aficionado. His favourite composer is G. Verdi and favourite opera is Il Trovatore.
He loves metal (Amon Amarth, Judas Priest, Immortal, Testament, Slayer, Metallica, Napalm Death, Rammstein). He learned to appreciate rock (U2, Muse), blues (Aretha Franklin) and all sorts of music. Perttu likes to read a lot and his favourite author is JRR Tolkien, but he also likes to read books written by Stephen King and H.Hesse. Perttu’s other hobbies consist of watching horror movies and playing video games. Perttu is a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and he has had 3 tattoos done to prove it. He has Aragorn’s sword tattooed on his left arm, Witch king of Angmar on his right shoulder, Aragorn and Arwen’s kissing scene on his left side. Perttu has composed music for the video game Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne, a few documentaries and he has done some original compositions for Apocalyptica including “Conclusion”, “Farewell” and “Beautiful”.

I find Perttu inspiring because he has dedicated his entire life to perfecting his craft. He has never denied an opportunity where he could gain more knowledge and experience to improve his skills. He has stopped at nothing to follow his dream and I think that is something that few people can attest to.

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Guitarist of the Week – Mark Tremonti (Part 2)

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Continued from Part 1…

After Mark and Scott decided to call Brian Marshall to ask him if he would like to join them in their new endeavor. Brian accepted their offer and he decided to quit his band at the time called Head Heavy. They began auditioning singers for the  band asking potential vocalists to sing over demo tapes. Myles Kennedy auditioned and the band remembered him fronting The Mayfield Four as the opening act for Creed in the 1990s. They instinctively knew that Myles had the vocal range and tone that they were looking for. They flew him down and they got along so well that they asked him to join the band.

After juggling many different band names they finally settled on Alter Bridge named after a long-standing bridge near Tremonti’s childhood home in Detroit, just off of Alter Road. Parents forbade their children to cross the bridge as it led to the bad side of town. All of the band members were very excited to be on the verge of a new chapter in their lives.

While Mark Tremonti was between bands he got involved with Submersed a new band on Wind-Up’s label. Mark introduced Eric Friedman to the band who was impressed by his impressive guitar playing. Eric was then added as the band’s lead guitar player. Mark produced Submersed debut album “In Due Time”. The band opened for Alter Bridge’s US tour in 2004 & 2005. Eric ultimately left the band and the band was dropped from Wind-Up’s roster in 2008 and the band later broke up.

Alter Bridge entered the studio in 2004 to record their first album. The band turned in their first single and the producers edited the guitar solo out, the reason being that radio stations won’t play songs that have long guitar solos in it. Mark didn’t want to compromise and refused to surrender to their demands. Mark’s role in the band changed slightly from Creed’s setup. Mark contributed to many of the lyrics as well as more prominent backing vocals. “In Loving Memory” was a tribute to Mark’s deceased mother and “Shed My Skin” refers to the isolation Mark felt as a child when his family moved to Florida.

Alter Bridge’s debut album “One Day Remains” was released in August 2004. Their first single “Open Your Eyes” reached #2 on the mainstream rock chart. Alter Bridge began to build a fan base in the US as well as in Europe. Mark brought his brother Michael on as the band’s press and fan liaison as the band was about to embark on their tour. Alter Bridge mostly played small clubs and started earning acclaim for their live performances.

In 2005 “One Day Remains” has already sold 500 000 copies and reached Gold status. In 2005 Mark became a father to his first son Austen on the 24th of May. In 2006 Wind-Up was not providing adequate support due to its lack of mainstream success. Wind-Up wanted its much more profitable band Creed to reunite. Mark and Scott Phillips engaged in a multimillion buyout to release Alter Bridge from their recording contract. Alter Bridge funded the recording of their second album “Blackbird”.

Alter Bridge toured European Summer Festivals to keep going and when they returned to the States they tried to get signed by many record labels. They eventually signed with Universal Music who was happy to let the band keep up their creative independence. Mark became a father for the second time on the 19th of November 2006. The band completed Blackbird and their second album was released in October 2007. Blackbird was the first album where Mark incorporated a second guitarist whereas Myles contributed a lot of the songwriting, guitar layering and half of the title track’s guitar solo. The album achieved moderate success with the lead single “Rise Today” reaching number 2 on the mainstream rock chart. Alter Bridge continued to tour small clubs in the US, but they most notably gained more attention in Europe more specifically in the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. Alter Bridge often returned to Europe where they were able to play larger venues to fund the band financially, making them able to tour the US’s smaller venues as well. Danish pedal maker T-Rex Engineering offered Mark a signature phraser pedal in 2008.

In 2008 Mark decided to release an instructional DVD – “Mark Tremonti – The Sound and the Story”. The DVD has technique practice routines, songwriting tips, a documentary and guest lessons offered by some of Mark’s guitarist friends. Mark has always been a fan of instructional dvds and Mark’s brother Dan released the dvd from a guitar venture he launched called Fret12. Dan owns a media marketing company called Core12.

Alter Bridge decided to record a live dvd in 2008, they originally planned to film it at the Brixton Academy in London, but logistical issues forced them to move the shooting to the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. The venue can hold about 6000 people. The band once again experienced label trouble and the DVD was delayed multiple times due to Universal’s lawyers. The full dvd was not released until January 2011, two years after the concert was filmed. The concert-only version reached number 1 on Amazon.com’s music dvd charts.

Throughout Alter Bridge’s career the ex-band members including Mark sought to distance themselves from Creed. Creed was often ridiculed in the media and their hits were often parodied. Mark was often quoted as saying that a Creed reunion will never happen and after 5 years since the breakup it seemed like rumours of Creed’s reunion was a thing of the past.

Early in 2009 rumours started to surface that Creed will return and initially the band didn’t even know about the rumours. Scott Stapp‘s management got in touch with Alter Bridge’s management and arranged a meeting with Creed’s ex-bandmembers. Scott Stapp apologized for his behaviour that caused the downfall of the band, saying that the past 5 years have changed him. Mark and Scott both had families now and both have matured. They decided to put the past behind them and before long the band decided to practice some of their old songs together. The first song they practiced was “My Own Prison” and the moment they started playing together the bond that they had as a band was reestablished. They knew they had to set up a tour and they started planning a 2009 summer reunion tour.

With a tour coming up Creed decided to write an album to support the tour. The first song that they wrote was “Full Circle” which was a reflection of Creed’s rebirth. After they completed the album, the band embarked on their first tour in six years with Mark bringing along Eric Friedman to play rhythm guitar.

“Full Circle” was released in October 2009 on Wind-Up Records and although it was Creed’s least-successful selling album it still reached number 2 on the Billboard 200 beaten only by Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” album. Creed recorded their first live dvd in Houston, Texas. At the end of the show the band received a Guinness World Record for the most cameras (239) ever used in a live recording. The dvd was released in December 2009.

After Creed’s 2009 tour, Alter Bridge began to work on their third album, internally codenamed ABIII. The band was once again faced record label issues and decided to fund the recording for ABIII themselves. Alter Bridge eventually landed on Roadrunner Worldwide, everywhere except the US where the album was released on Alter Bridge Recordings via Capitol Records a subsidiary of EMI.

After calling it ABIII for so long the band decided to name their third album ABIII. The album was released in October 2010 in Europe and November 2011 in the US. The album received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The album’s material was affected by the band’s frustrations on the music industry and Myles’s struggle with faith. Their first single off of the third album “Isolation” slowly gained momentum on the charts until it reached Number 1 on Mediabase’s Active Rock chart, as well as Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it stayed for four weeks straight. In 2011 PRS refreshed the Tremonti SE guitar by providing new colours and incorporating bird inlays.

While on tour with Alter Bridge Mark solidified his intentions to make a solo album, with Eric Friedman joining the project as well as former Submersed drummer Garrett Whitlock. Mark’s solo album “All I Was” was released on the 17th of July 2012 by Fret12 Records. He decided to make a solo album, because he writes so much material and some of it is not suited for Alter Bridge or Creed. All I Was was produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette and the album shows prominent speed metal influences.”Wish You Well” the third single released off of the solo album was written by Mark when he was only 13, he released a demo recording of the song which was recorded in 1987.

Mark is known to be a collector of pinball machines and he is a car enthusiast. When he is on tour he will make an effort to fly back for his son’s birthdays.

Mark is well on his way to cement his name into the list of history’s great guitarists. A true idol that any musician can look up to, he is a hard worker and passionate about music. I hope that he will create music in any shape or form for many years to come.

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

 

Guitarist of the Week – Mark Tremonti (Part 1)

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Mark Tremonti has played a huge part in the rock music industry as we know it and his contribution just keeps getting more clear by the day. He has had a hand in creating some of my favourite songs and albums in the past few years. He has astounding skills upon which he has improved and built upon year by year. Only a true musician works hard at his craft and relentlessly pursues perfection.

Mark Thomas Tremonti was born on the 18th of April 1974 in Detroit, Michigan to Italian-American parents Michael and Mary. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Grosse Pointe before he moved to Wilmette, Illinois.  He has two brothers called Michael II and Daniel. At around the age of 11 Mark was exposed to bands like Kiss and Metallica by his brothers. Mark bought his first guitar around about the Christmas of 1985.

Mark signed up for guitar lessons, but quit after the first lesson, because they insisted on teaching him Mary Had A Little Lamb, when all he wanted to learn to play was Master of Puppets. Mark then decided to teach himself by reading from tab books and learning to play his favourite songs by ear until he got them right. Mark attended his first concert which was headlined by Iron Maiden and he vowed to become a lead guitarist of a band, someday.

After his freshman year in High School Mark’s life was uprooted once again when his family decided to move to Orlando, Florida. His friends in Detroit shared his love for bands like Metallica and Anthrax. Whereas his peers in Lake Highland Prepatory   Orlando had a preference for pop acts like Milli Vanilli and associated acts. Around this time Mark’s mother was sadly diagnosed with Lupus. Mark started to adopt the gothic trend, he wore Megadeath shirts underneath his white school shirts and secretly smoked cigarettes underneath his car.

Mark started to feel like a misfit in school and with his brothers away at college, Mark decided to find solace in his guitar. As expected Mark’s despair and sadness manifested itself in his music. Music became an outlet for Mark’s feelings and Alter Bridge’s song “Shed My Skin” is a reflection of this time. Mark formed his first rock band in High School called Wit’s End. Wit’s End played  Motley Crüe and other metal covers. Mark became acquainted with classmate Scott Stapp even though they weren’t in the same group of friends.

After High School Mark decided to go to College to study Finance, he attended Clemson University in South Carolina for a year. He rented instructional videos which increased his playing skills immensely. For financial reasons he transferred to Florida State University where he reunited with high school classmate Scott Stapp. Mark had a job at the time as the cook at Chilli’s restaurant. He even wore his Chilli’s shirt to an early Creed photo shoot. Mark improved his guitar skills and even performed at open mic nights. Scott and Mark decided to form a band after a long discussion, they then started auditioning musicians to complete the band. Scott Stapp and Mark Tremonti auditioned a drummer and the drummer’s friend got behind the drums and started playing Living Colour with Mark. Mark and Scott immediately knew they had their man. That man was Scott Phillips. With the addition of Brian Marshall on bass the band was complete. The band gained an extra member in 1995 called Brian Brasher, but he left before the band became famous.

The band struggled to come up with a suitable name, so one day Mark came up with a name taken from a humorous newspaper clipping that he carried around in his wallet, so the band was named Naked Toddler. The name was not well received and the band soon decided to change it. Brian had previously been in a band called Maddox Creed and they decided to use a variation of the name. Scott suggested that the band be called Creed. A creed represents a promise or a belief. Scott Stapp’s ancestors were Creek Indians so the name seemed to be the perfect fit.

Creed’s first recorded song was called “Grip My Soul”, but it was never released. The band performed at Floyd’s Music Store and Jeff Hanson the venue’s manager was most impressed by the two original songs that the band performed. He started his own management and promotion company to support the venture.

Creed’s debut album was recorded in pieces and Creed returned to the studio when they had saved enough money to record. Jeff got the local radio station 101.5 to play the title track of their debut album called “My Own Prison“. The song prompted an instant reaction from listeners and the radio station was overwhelmed by calls from people wanting to know what this new song was.

My Own Prison was released on their own independent music label, Blue Collar Records. The artwork was designed by Mark’s brother Dan an arrangement that has continued for every Creed and Alter Bridge cover to date. Only 6000 copies were printed. They sold their CDs at their shows while they were on tour and managed to sell 5, 000 copies in just 6 weeks. Creed knew they would need the backing of a major label if they wanted to make it big, so they auditioned for many record labels without success. A new record label called Wind-Up Records showed interest and asked if Creed would sign up as their first act. My Own Prison was re-released by Wind-Up in 1997.

Creed continued and their fan base continued to grow as a result. The fans started requesting Creed on their local radio stations. The band drew increasing attention and went from selling 3,000 albums per week to 25, 000 albums per week. My Own Prison was a huge success making Creed the first rock band in history to have four number-one singles off of their debut album. The album has sold 6 million copies in the US alone as recorded up until March of 2011. Mark was honored by Guitarist Magazine as Guitarist of the Year for 3 consecutive years.

Around this time Paul Reed Smith approached Mark and offered him a signature guitar model. PRS crafted its first single-cutaway model, moving the pickup toggle to the top, and sent it to Mark. With the PRS Tremonti Signature guitar Mark became the second guitarist(after Carlos Santana) to have a PRS signature model. PRS produced a limited run of 100 and each was signed by Mark.

Creed released their second album Human Clay to immediate success, Human Clay sold 11 million copies. Human Clay was one of only 100 albums ever to be certified diamond status by the RIAA. The first single off of the album “Higher” spent a record-breaking 17 weeks at number 1 on the mainstream rock charts. In 2000 Brian Marshall left the band due to tensions within the band. The band never replaced Brian instead opting to hire a touring bassist which was Brett Hestla of Virgos Merlot.

In 2001 Creed accepted the Grammy award for the Best Rock Song for”With Arms Wide Open“. At this point in Creed’s career the band had sold 13 million albums in 5 years and had charted seven consecutive #1 singles. In early 2001 guitar pedal maker Mortley worked with Mark to design and make a signature wah pedal called the Mark Tremonti Power Wah.

Creed released their third album in 2001 called “Weathered”. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and it stayed there for the next 8 weeks. Mark was again approached by Paul Reed Smith to develop an entry-level signature guitar. Mark’s world was turned upside down with his mother’s tragic passing in 2002. Creed started to experience some problems as relentless touring,  disagreements and Scott Stapp’s demons begun to take their toll on the band. Despite all the negative tension the band was experiencing the silver lining of 2002 was when Mark Tremonti married his girlfriend Victoria Rodriguez on December 14.

When the time came for Mark and Scott to sit down to write the fourth Creed album, they were constantly fighting and found that they were going nowhere creatively. Creed announced their break-up in 2004, Wind-Up then went against the band’s wishes and released Creed’s Greatest Hits album in November 2004.

Mark spent the majority of 2003 and 2004 at home honing his technical skills practicing for up to 8 hours a day. He attended classes to learn how to use Pro Tools and he took singing lessons as well. He recorded some demos at home without knowing what would become of them. Mark and Scott Phillips decided that they would like to form a new band. Mark wanted to refocus on his personal goals that he set for himself and go about achieving them with Scott Phillips who shared the same desire.

Due to the impression Mark Tremonti has made on the rock music industry this feature will be split into two parts. Readers can look forward to more insight into the guitar legend’s life next week.

You can follow Mark on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MarkTremonti

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Guitarist of the Week – Tomo Miličević

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The Rock Riff has featured 2 of the three members of 30 Seconds To Mars recently and this week its Tomo’s turn, the sometimes underrated, but always quirky and interesting lead guitarist of the band.

Tomislav  “Tomo” Miličević was born on the 3rd of September 1979 in Sarajevo (SRF Yugoslavia), Bosnia to a Croatian family. His first visit to the USA was as a baby and travelled back and forth until his family permanently emigrated to Troy, Michigan when he was about 9 or 10 years old.

When Tomo was a teenager he was hit in the leg by an errant bullet while he was standing in front of his father’s Dunkin Donuts store in Michigan. Tomo wanted to keep the bullet, but the hospital wouldn’t allow it.

By the time Tomo turned 18 his parents Tonka and Damir Miličević had opened a restaurant in Los Angeles. Tomo has a brother named Filip Miličević and a sister called  Ivana Miličević. Ivana was born on the 26th of April 1974 and she worked as a model during her school years. In 1996 she made her film debut in Jerry Maguire as the Former Girlfriend of Tom Cruise’s character. She made a guest appearance in Seinfeld, she played but parts in Vanilla Sky, Love Actually, Head Over Heels, Paycheck, Running Scared and landed a recurring role in the CBS TV series “Love Monkey“.  She appeared in Casino Royale as one of the three Bond Girls. Ivana is currently starring in the TV Series Banshee. Filip Miličević is known in the US as a semi-famous abstract artist and he is a top executive at the AT&T Corporation.

“Tomo’s uncle, Dr. Željko “Bill” Miličević is a virtuoso violinist and orchestra teacher at Farmington High School in Farmington, Michigan.” – Quote obtained from Wikipedia

Tomo attended Athens High School in Troy, Michigan and he is a certified executive and pastry chef. Tomo spent two years in culinary school. Tomo married his longtime girlfriend Vicki Bosanko, in Crete, Greece on July 4, 2011.

Tomo practiced to become a concert violinist from the ages of 3 to 19 years of age. He started writing his own music at the age of 17. Tomo started to discover heavy metal and asked his dad to help him make a guitar, the guitar they made was used to record the song “A Modern Myth” one of the songs from 30 Seconds To Mars’ second album “A Beautiful Lie“. After graduating from culinary school Tomo decided to sell his musical instruments and to leave the music industry for good, that was until Shannon Leto told him about the auditions that 30 Seconds To Mars was hosting. Tomo was already a fan of the group and he decided to audition. Tomo was selected from a group of 200 musicians for his talent and his easygoing personality.

On the 3rd of February 2003 Tomo played alongside Jared Leto, Shannon Leto and Matt Wachter on The Late Late Show With Craig Killborn. Tomo cites some of his influences which includes Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Metallica, The Who, Alice in Chains and Slayer.

Tomo’s favourite song is “Take On Me” by A-Ha. Tomo is left-handed, but plays guitar right-handed.

If you would like to hear 30 Seconds To Mars’s fantastic new song, you can listen to it here:

http://loudwire.com/30-seconds-to-mars-new-album-title-new-single/

30 Seconds to Mars’ ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ will be released on May 21st 2013 and I can’t wait!!

30 Seconds to Mars, ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ Track Listing:

1. ‘Birth’ 2. ‘Conquistador’ 3. ‘Up In The Air’ 4. ‘City Of Angels’ 5. ‘The Race’ 6. ‘End Of All Days’ 7. ‘Pyres Of Varanasi’ 8. ‘Bright Lights’ 9. ‘Do Or Die’ 10. ‘Convergence’ 11. ‘Northern Lights’ 12. ‘Depuis Le Debut’

Follow Tomo on Twitter in his “ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME” style. 😀

You can follow Tomo on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tomofromearth

You can Subscribe to Tomo’s updates on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TomoFromEarth?fref=ts

Rock Regards,

Lauren K