Lead Vocalist Feature – Tommy Vext

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Thomas Cummings was born on the 15th of April 1982. He is better known by his stage name Tommy Vext and is known for being the lead vocalist for Bad Wolves, Snot, Divine Heresy and Westfield Massacre. In 2017 Tommy filled in for Ivan Moody on Five Finger Death Punch’s European arena tour when the vocalist checked into a medical facility.

Tommy started his music career in Brooklyn, New York as a teenager singing in local hardcore bands and he engaged in freestyle rap battles with the neighbourhood’s hopefuls. He even snuck into the nightclubs for his own shows, because he was too young to enter.

In 1996, he formed the band Maniacal Disciple with some friends, Jim Donovan, Steve Perlmutter and Mike Kontaras. They eventually changed their name to Vext based on Wu-Tang’s lyrics and it became Tommy’s nickname in the New York hardcore scene.

In 2005 at the Roadrunner’s 25th anniversary show Tommy was invited to sing with Corey Taylor from Slipknot.

In 2006 Tommy was recruited by Dino Cazares from Fear Factory to be the front man for his new band Divine Heresy. Their debut studio album “Bleed The Fifth” was released in the United States on the 28th of August 2007  by Century Media Records. The album was produced by Logan Mader, formerly of Machine Head and guitarist for Soulfly. “Bleed The Fifth” was met with warm reviews by the critics and fans alike.

Tommy was responsible for the majority of the lyrics which was influenced by the Book of Revelation, natural disasters, war and terrorism.

Due to unresolvable differences between Tommy and Dino Cazares, Tommy parted with Divine Heresy in 2008. Later on bassist Joe Payne and drummer Tim Yeung broke ties with Dino as well.

Snot is an American heavy metal band from Santa Barbara, California that was formed in 1995. Their debut studio album “Get Some” was released in 1997 with Lynn Strait on lead vocals. The band disbanded after Lynn’s death in 1998. In 2008 the band reformed with Tommy on lead vocals. The band did a fall tour in 2008 in the USA in support of DevilDriver. Snot went on hiatus again when the original guitarist Sonny Mayo left the band. In 2014 Snot reunited at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood. They played three more shows in Southern California before going quiet once again.

In 2011 Tommy Vext reformed Vext with members of Mutiny Within, along with guitar virtuoso Angel Vivaldi. The band releseased an EP titled Impernance in 2012 and a year later they released another EP Broke is the New Black.

After his stint with Snot, Vext moved on and formed a new band known as “Westfield Massacre”. The band released their self-titled debut album on Urban Yeti Records 2016. In 2017, Vext began working on a side project with former DevilDriver drummer John Boecklin Vext left Westfield while he was on tour with Five Finger Death Punch.

In 2016 Tommy formed a new band with former DevilDriver drummer John Boecklin, named Bad Wolves. Guitarists Doc Coyle (Vagus Nerve, God Forbid), Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead) and later bassist Kyle Konkiel formerly of In This Moment were recruited for the project. During the summer of 2016 they headed to the studio to start recording the bands’ debut album. They headed off to AudioHammer studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis who has worked with Trivium and All That Remains to name a few.

On the 2nd of May 2017, Bad Wolves independently premiered a song titled “Learn To Live” coupled with a music video. In November 2017 it was announced that Bad Wolves had signed with Eleven Seven Music and Zoltan Bathory (founding guitarist of FFDP) became the band’s manager.

Bad Wolves released their debut studio album “Disobey”on the 11th of May 2018 through Eleven Seven Music. The album reached number 23 on the US Billboard 200. In November 2017, the band released their second single “Toast To The Ghost”. On the 18th of January 2018, they released a third single , which was a cover of The Cranberries “Zombie” and it charted on multiple charts. The cover of this song took the band’s reputation to a another level and placed them on everyone’s radar. The Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was meant to have performed the song with the band, but she passed away prior to recording the song. The music video for the song was released on the 22nd of February 2018, it paid tribute to the singer and the original music video.

The song topped the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart, while the music video was viewed more than 170 million times. The single is certified platinum in Canada, the United States and gold in Germany.

The band toured with Breaking Benjamin, Starset, Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch for the first half of 2018.

One of the most fascinating parts of Tommy’s story is the home invasion he experienced in 2010. He was attacked by his twin brother when he was high in his own home. His brother is currently serving 17 years behind bars for attempted murder and Tommy had to testify against him.

“Remember When” one of the songs from “Disobey” was written describing Tommy’s childhood and his relationship with his twin brother. It describes two people who lived the exact same life and went through the same hardships, advantages, disadvantages and were ultimately defined as adults by the different choices they made. Their lives reflect the choices that they made as individuals.

I’m in awe by how Tommy handled the adversities he had to face and how he ended up overcoming them. He now helps other creative people face their addictions in order to overcome them and he helps people fight depression. By doing this Tommy feels that he has found his purpose and he passionately embarks on a mission to better others’ lives as well as his own.

If you want to read more about Tommy’s personal life, here is a link to the article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brick-brick/201808/tommy-vext-and-the-deafening-sound-self-termination

Rock Regards, Lauren K

Kicking off 2018!

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Welcome to 2018, people!

I think it is going to be a smashing year for rock music as I have seen a lot of exciting things happening already!

New Music

Bad Wolves – “Zombie”

First off I want to share a cover song with you that has captivated me for the past week. I have shared this song with everyone I know, because it pays homage to the original but the band solidified their stamp on it. The late Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) was meant to lend her vocals to this cover, but then news broke that the singer had passed away before that could happen. The band released their version that Dolores had approved of as a tribute and all profits will benefit Dolores’ three children.

This song affects me in ways that I can’t explain and I could probably write essays about this cover. Vext’s vocals are a major highlight for me, every nuance is perfectly placed and that goes for the instrumentation as well.

Major respect go to “Bad Wolves” for this one.

Story of the Year – “Bang Bang”

An energetic offering from Story of the Year and I find their latest song seamlessly combine different genres within one song. It jumps from an electronic-like intro straight to screamo to punk rock over to a rock chorus. The band’s fans are delighted about their return after their hiatus. Their latest album titled “Wolves” was released in December 2017.

Red – “Gone”

The title track from the band’s latest album is a solid rock song with some electronic beats weaved throughout the song. The lyrics question the legacy that we leave behind and the quality of the impact we made, that stay behind when we pass away.

A valid point to ponder.

 

Black Veil Brides – “Wake Up”

Black Veil Brides have returned! A politically charged video and theme run through the band’s latest single with a delicious guitar solo thrown in for good measure. It is an anthem for the majority to stand up against what they believe to be unfair, corrupt or unjustified behaviour. A great message to share considering the power that politicians/leaders wield.

 

Marmozets – “Run With The Rhythm”

An interesting song that I would never have expected to hear from Marmozets. The intro almost has a folk/indie sound to it, up until the chorus kicks in. The video is captivating and the cinematography is amazing. An artistic release in every way.

Pop Evil – “Colors Bleed”

A great concept for a video which leaves the viewer with more questions than answers and a reflection of today’s society or a reality we might still face. I’m loving every second of the heavier direction Pop Evil has taken.

Three Days Grace – “The Mountain”

It is so good to hear Three Days Grace back on the scene again. The lyrics are inspiring and is the best way to get your year started. Three Days Grace’s latest album “Outsider” drops on the 9th of March 2018.

 

Paddy and the Rats – “Join The Riot”

The strangest and most entertaining discovery I have made in recent history. I wouldn’t have taken this band seriously if they weren’t signed by Napalm Records and if I didn’t listen to their other songs. Different, exciting, funny and a carnival to your ears, enjoy me matey!

 

Jonathan Davis – “What It Is”

Surprise, Jonathan Davis just went solo! I think this will be a very interesting venture for non-fans and fans alike. I’m excited to see what is to come from him in the near future. I liked this song from the first listen which is rare for me. Straight-up good, honest rock music.

 

Local Events

There are some exciting concerts heading to Cape Town’s shores.

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There will definitely, without any doubt be a blog post about Mr Myles Kennedy when I meet him on the 6th of March 2018.

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Have a smashing week and I hope everyone had a good start to their year so far!

If not…we will have to take it up a notch next month!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Band of the Month – We As Human

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If any of you have read my tweets recently, you will know I have developed yet another obsession and I would like to share it with The Rock Riff’s followers.

We As Human is a Christian rock band from Sandpoint, Idaho and they formed in 2006. They have been signed to Atlantic Records record label. They moved to Nashville, Tennessee in September 2011 and still live there.

The band consists of:

Justin Cordle-Vocals
Adam Osborne-Drums
Jake Jones-Guitar
Justin Forshaw – Guitar
Dave Draggoo-Bass

The band had an interesting story to tell starting with the band who discovered them, Skillet. Skillet was playing an arena show and their road manager was working at the show. Their road manager handed the band an EP that We As Human had produced. Front man for Skillet, John Cooper listened to it that night and he loved it saying that it punched him in the face. He called his band manager,  Zach Kelm and he said to him, ‘I think you should work with this band.'” From there on an introduction to Atlantic Records wasn’t far off. Now, with their self-titled debut-album being released through Atlantic Records via Hear It Loud, a partnership helmed by John Cooper, Zach Kelm and attorney Todd Rubenstein. We As Human arrives at a place where their future looks exciting and promising.

With We As Human’s thrilling collection of songs together with rock-renowned record producer Howard Benson it can only serve to amplify the band’s already massive, juggernaut sound.

For Justin Cordle it was absolutely thrilling that Howard Benson produced  P.O.D.ʼs “Satellite,” an album that Cordle played countless times on its release. He held that record in high regard and he knew their record would come out better because of  Howard Benson.

We As Human’s debut album stays true to the core of their sound and adds an unrivaled intensity and energy to each song. In my opinion this album is by far one of the best debut albums by a rock band that I have heard in a very long time. Most bands take a few years to really find their stride and their signature sound. Some familiar faces appear on the record, such as John Cooper from Skillet on the track “Zombie” and Lacy Sturm (previously from Flyleaf) on ” Take The Bullets Away”.

The inspiration for the record was generated by the band’s own lives, experiences and stories.

“Sever” is an extremely personal song for lead singer Justin Cordle. His nephew was fighting cancer at the tender age of 3 he passed away. Justin wrote the song after his passing.

“Finally Cordle found the inspiration he needed in Tyler’s mother: “She said something that will stay with me forever: ‘People are really sorry about Tyler losing his battle with cancer. But I don’t think he lost his battle with cancer; he won his battle, and he’s with his creator, and the cancer is dead.ʼ To hear that from a woman who had just lost her son was amazing to me. It was really heavy.” – Sourced from We As Human’s Official Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/weashuman/info)

We As Human made a video featuring a tribute to Justin Cordle’s nephew and played an acoustic version of “Sever”. During this performance Justin’s passion for music and dedication to his religion became clear to me. His voice is extremely versatile, it can go from silky smooth to gruff in an instant.

“Strike Back” is the first single from their debut album and has a hard-hitting chorus that grabs you by the collar and doesn’t  let go. That is exactly the band’s intention with their first song. It is their statement and declaration of courage.

For the band the ultimate pay-off for their hard work is not money or fame, but an intimate relationship with their fans.

I discovered the band when I watched the Cover-Tune Grab Bag video on YouTube which is a Roadshow tradition and different bands come together to cover a popular song. Justin Cordle started to sing the first few lines of Katy Perry’s Roar and the manner in which he delivered those first few lines got me interested.

Watch the video below:

So I watched some of their other videos on YouTube and eventually listened to their track “Zombie” on iTunes. I decided there and then that I have to own the entire album.

I never regretted that decision. There is enough content on this album to satisfy any rock music lover. From the heavier tracks like “Strike Back”, “Dead Man”, “Take The Bullets Away”, “Zombie” to the more tender “Fall Apart” followed by the more mainstream rock songs “Bring To Life”, “Let Me Drown” and “Sever”.

I have never been so infatuated by a band that I have just started listening to.

Check out the official music video for the band’s first single “Strike Back”:

Justin Cordle is very proud of their live shows and that they work hard at perfecting their art, while still delivering intense, energetic performances.

We As Human’s thought-provoking lyrics coupled with their unbridled energy and enthusiasm combines to create an explosive package. The band has incredible potential to go as far in the music industry as they are willing to venture.

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

You can follow Justin Cordle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinC_WAH

You can follow Dave Draggoo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dave_WAH

You can follow Jake Jones on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake_WAH

You can follow Justin Forshaw on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinF_WAH

Rock Regards,

Lauren K