It’s almost time for Download Festival 2009. It’s only two weeks away, in fact and we’re getting rather excited. Soon it’ll be time to start looking at that schedule and figuring out what bands you want to see and which ones annoyingly clash.
We already know that Faith No More, Motley Crue and Meshuggah clash, but with FNM making what will surely be a triumphant return, there’s only going to be one winner of that contest.
It’s been reported today that Mike Patton has written and recorded the score to the far-from-brilliant-looking forthcoming film, Crank 2: High Voltage but they missed out the end of the press release which mentioned Mike Patton’s “highly anticipated reunion tour with Faith No More in Europe this summer”.
The band has announced over on their official website that they’re going to be playing the Donington metal festival on June 14 – that’s the Sunday, in case you were wondering. We’re hoping this will add weight to the likelihood of a classic rock closure to the festival – ZZ Top and Def Leppard, anyone?
Sign have just performed on the Main Stage at Download Festival. Danny Montana talks to Zolberg from the Icelandic five-piece about their new album and his new lifestyle.
If you’ve been to any rock festivals the last couple of years, you may have spotted a bunch of black-clad teens (yes, I know, there are a few knocking around there) with the Sign insignia emblazoned across their tshirts. That is The Sign Army.
“We have a really strong fanbase now,” smiles Zolberg, Sign’s 21 year old frontman and founder (picture, below). Indeed, that fanbase was seen filling the front rows at Download Festival 2008, singing the words back to every single song.
Over the past couple of years, Sign – completed by AD (guitar), Eagle (drums), Heimir (bass) and recent addition Aggi (guitar and keyboards) – have supported the likes of Wednesday 13 and The Wildhearts as well as hard rock heroes such as Whitesnake, Alice Cooper and Skid Row in their Icelandic homeland, as well as releasing two albums.
Their first English-language album, 2005’s Thank God For Silence was their third full-length and the band wrote and recorded it all themselves. “We decided that we wanted to bring the ‘80s and glam parties back into the metal world. We were so young and it was really hard,” Zolberg explains. “That was when we learnt how to do it.”
They took the same insular approach to recording this year’s opus, The Hope but the results were much different. “This time around there were no rules and we knew our way around the studio,” Zolberg smiles.
The Hope is a much heavier affair and this direction is much to do with Zolberg’s new-found sobriety. “I’m the kind of person that just can’t drink,” Zolberg says matter-of-factly. “I’ve woken up regretting things and with twisted ankles. When I’m really drunk, I can’t even look into a mirror because the person looking back scares me.”
He claims it is a permanent move and that he sees a brighter future without alcohol in his life both personally and for the band. “When I’m sober and focused, I feel like I am the show,” Zolberg says intensely. “I have no fear about going onstage; I find it easier and have more control over my thoughts and my voice now. I suppose it’s like theatre in some ways.”
“Thank God… was about getting drunk and partying. Singing those songs isn’t that easy any more because I can’t connect to them the way I used to,” he rues. “This album is about rising above all your naivety and gaining your purpose in life.”
“The Hope definitely is a heavier album,” Zolberg says, nodding. “The Hope is about rebirth and that’s much heavier than partying.”
The Hope by Sign is out now on R&R Records
Photo of Zolberg by Abbi London
On the night Def Leppard played one of their tiniest shows in a very, very long time, Thrash Hits .com grabbed five minutes with singer Joe Elliot. Ruby Q was on hand to chat hair metal, radio hits and longevity.
Prepping for a near sold out, joint-headline arena tour with fellow ‘80s cock rockers Whitesnake (who Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell jokes was in for all of, err, five minutes) the Leppard are performing to a crowd just short of 500 later at London’s Islington Academy. And there’s already a queue outside.
No surprises there. These guys have sold over 60 million records worldwide (over 20 million on 1987’s Hysteria alone), been inducted to the Rock Walk Of Fame on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard, heck, they even played the Philadelphia leg of Live8. Simply, their music equals big business.
That means bucks galore, especially in this credit crunch climate which sees record labels dropping bands like freshly swotted flies and groups not even getting the mere sniff of a chance of band bankruptcy. It’s hard times and Leppard head honcho, that volume-defying larynxed frontman Joe Elliot, agrees, even though they don’t seem to be suffering.
“The music industry has changed a lot and if you’ve been around for a long time people know your songs,” explains Elliot in between fanning his face. “There’s not much chance of a young new band building up a back catalogue.” He’s right.
Watch ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ by Def Leppard
Thrash Hits has just finished watching the five Lepparders straddle burgundy thrones and wisecrack through some music TV shorts for their VH1 Classic Countdown (alas, the bands don’t really get to pick the tracks by the way – what a sham).
This scene of a still lion-maned Elliot, who is slathered in foundation and being endlessly dabbed by make-up girls in between almost every take, gives an insight into band-life that not many groups nowadays will get the opportunity to experience.
He continues, “How many Arctic Monkeys are there? Where do you think they might be around in five or six years’ time? Oasis are just moving into that like legendary status where they’ve got a career and they’re not just putting out a couple of albums and then disappearing.”
Watch ‘Animal’ by Def Leppard
The reason for this? Radio. They just ain’t playing the new stuff. Elliot continues, “You see bands like The Police reforming and they put 60,000 people in every place they play because they’ve got the songs.
“You’re probably going to have heard ‘Message In A Bottle’ more over the last five years than you will have heard ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ by Green Day because the radio won’t play new stuff as much as it plays old stuff. The stations are playing to the mums and dads and they’re the ones buying it.”
Later on at the gig though it’s clear that, although they play more hits than you can remember, have probably been heard plenty themselves on our radio waves and work the stage like a bunch of fine herb sprinkled and seasoned pros, this band is not just about the music – it’s the whole shebang.
The cringe-worthy, but almost awe-inspiring, onstage moves; the double, nay make that triple encore we experience; the genius guitar riffs that rip your face off and make you beg for it back; those sweaty fifty-something torsos that could easily belong to someone thirty years younger, and, of course, that larynx defying howl.
Watch the epic version of ‘When Love And Hate Collide’ by Def Leppard
Indeed – Def Leppard are as subtle as a brick to the skull but boy it’s top grade fun; a fuck-you-blind guilty pleasure that should not be ignored. It’s been over 28 years since their 1980 debut album, On Through The Night, but why does Elliot feel there’s still so much love for ‘80s hair metal?
He muses, “Music is music. It’s either good or bad and I think a lot of people are coming to terms now that music from the ‘80s isn’t all stupid and funny and you can listen to it. It’s becoming ok to like the ‘80s like it was ok to like the ‘70s.”
Maybe it’s just if you’re listening to Def Leppard. As, if tonight’s show and the new album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge is anything to go by, these cock rockers will be rocking cocks ‘til at least twenty million other wannabes have had a stab at what they’ve achieved. And that’s saying something.
Not content with releasing a brand new album, Good to Be Bad in their 30th anniversary year, Whitesnake have returned with a magnificent three-CD set imaginitively titled 30th Anniversary Collection. We’ve got three copies to give away.
Released by EMI, the career-spanning tracklist includes huge radio-friendly classic rock anthems such as ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Is This Love’ as well as a fantastic live acoustic version of the Deep Purple classic ‘Soldier of Fortune’.
Watch an acoustic version of ‘Here I Go Again’ by Whitesnake
To enter this great competition to win a a copy of 30th Anniversary Collection by Whitesnake, just enter the competition by answering the following question.
What is the name of Whitesnake’s lead singer?
Email your answer with your name and a contact telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Whitesnake” as the subject. The closing date for entries is 10am Monday, 21 July 2008. The winner will be notified by telephone.