It's a miraculous yet familiar tale...Group of friends form a band, work their asses off gigging around town, cut some demos, secure a recording contract, write a hit or two, emerge from local obscurity to global touring and sales success, hit a creative and interpersonal wall, disband, wander in individual obscurity for a few years, get back together, older, wiser, and produces the best effort of their career and does it all over again.
In this brave new, fiercely competitive world of evaporating record companies, digital downloads and MySpace-created rock stars, when artists are given a rare second chance, they know they must rise to the occasion. Candlebox disappeared but they have most definitely returned and this time, it's not the scene or the culture or the media doing the talking. It's the music. And that is miraculous.
After a year and a half on the road touring 2010's Feeding The Wolves, 10 Years reached a turning point. It was time to move forward and take full control of their career by launching their own label, Palehorse Records. In addition, the band decided to self-produce their fourth album, Minus the Machine, at drummer/guitarist Brian Vodinh's Kashmir Recording.
Splitting up with a major label after five years was "a very scary step to take," Hasek admits. "It's like breaking up with a longtime girlfriend. You're used to the motions, but when it becomes stale and unhappy, you need to move on and get energy back into your life. There was no anger on either side. We just painlessly parted ways."
Working together as a band for the first time since writing the Gold-selling album The Autumn Effect helped 10 Years go back to their roots, without label-enforced pressure to create a radio-friendly "hit," and free to experiment with the hard rock sounds that lie at the core of their music. "Our true fans who buy the albums, not just the singles, understand that our singles, for the most part, misrepresent the entire album," says Hasek. "As a band, we like to explore more and go a little left of center with song structures. We wanted to create an album that has no boundaries, and where we didn't have to make every song 'three minutes and 30 seconds' for a label to approve it. There's a fine line with that, of course, and we're very aware of it. We all grew up on rock music, and as many albums as we've written, the way we've written them, it's ingrained in us to work within a time frame that fits radio. There are definitely songs that work well for that, but as a whole, we wanted this album to represent a journey in a sense."
This chapter of 10 Years began in 2001, when Hasek took over as vocalist. Three years later they released their independent album, Killing All That Holds You, featuring the groundbreaking single "Wasteland," which led to their signing with Universal Records. "That song was created in 2001 or 2002," says Hasek. "We weren't seeking to write a smash single. We were just writing music." The Autumn Effect (2005) led to widespread radio and video play, a fiercely loyal fan base, and tours with heavyweights like Linkin Park, Korn and the Deftones. When their sophomore effort, Division, was released in 2008, 10 Years had cemented their place as one of hard rock's top contenders and most sought-after live bands. Still, says Hasek, despite the success, "it all came to a head" with the band's 3rd major label release, Feeding The Wolves. "When you feel like you're being told to go through motions and jump through hoops, it takes the heart out of it," he says. "We know that we need a hit and we understand that it's important. However, as musicians, we're not a band that says, 'We're going to make a hit.' It's better to do what comes naturally and then figure out the after-effect."
With that in mind, 10 Years created their most powerful songs to date for Minus The Machine, with Hasek again relying on personal experiences for his lyrics. [Insert something about the songs here; reference titles and content.] "Everyone asks about my inspiration for lyrics, and the best thing I can give them is a very generic answer: life," he says. "Life is the experience — it's everything you go through: the ups, the downs. I tend to gravitate more toward the therapy method. I'm not great at writing happy pop songs. So, I usually get the negative emotions out through music. As a person, I'm very happy and thankful for my life, but when it comes to lyrics, it's therapy for me."
One thing that won't change is 10 Years' connection with their fans. With the release of Minus The Machine, the band is looking forward to hitting the road, performing in close contact with their dedicated audience. "After the last touring cycle, we realized where we should strive to be, and that's to be totally fine in the club environment," says Hasek. "We don't plan to chase after arena rock or amphitheaters. If things like that happen, then so be it, but we live and die by the loyalty of the club audiences. Our fans are loyal. They travel with us, and they want us to be loyal to ourselves. That's what keeps them coming back. What we tried to do on this album is really give them what they want and what they need because they've been so good to us through the ups and downs of our career."
"First and foremost, when it's all said and done, we're proud of this album in its entirety," he says. "That speaks volumes to us because we're our own worst critics. We pick everything apart. An album is your child, it's your baby, and you know it better than anyone. To sit back and be 100 percent proud of what we've accomplished is so gratifying, and we think everything else will fall into place. We hope that everyone will enjoy what we've tried to do."
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Our Objective: Writing straight forward rock songs about topics that are REAL and you can relate to. There's no hidden meaning. We want you to understand and we want to share it with you. RJA is a family and we want you to be a part of it.
About Us: Well, to make it short and sweet, We're five poor country boys from florida that gave up everything to share our music with people. But if you'd like to read into it more...feel free...
What's in a name? Well, it depends who came up with it. In the case of Middleburg, Florida quintet The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, it might mean anything. Jumpsuits can be sleek and fashionable, tight and revealing. Or they can be loose and homogeneous, suggesting redundancy and confinement befitting a jailbird. Red is often flashy and easily noticeable, but it's also the color of blood. And an apparatus allows a jumpsuit to be used for a specific purpose, such as leaping from an airplane - or it could be something sexual. After all, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are ballsy and emotional, pulsing with vibrancy and tenacity. They're strong, yet vulnerable, and they shift between musical styles with the confidence of superstars.
Strange then that The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus means absolutely nothing. "It's 100 percent completely arbitrary," laughs singer Ronnie Winter. "When we started the band, we only cared about having a good time and writing good songs far more than coming up with some symbolic, incredibly intelligent name."
"I think its funny when bands scramble their brains to try and come up with some unique, untouchable band name," adds guitarist Elias Reidy. "Why waste time thinking of something when we could be concentrating on music instead? The locals loved it, so we went with it."
A brief listen to The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus debut and its obvious that these boys have spent a lot of time concentrating on their music. Their songs are flush with the determination, hunger and energy of youth (the average age in the band is 21). And while they tap into elements of pop-punk, pop, screamo, and metal, they combine them in a way that's both surprising and invigorating. "In a time when everything's labeled and categorized, you kind of have to try your best to step outside the box and be as unpredictable as possible to separate yourself," explains Reidy.
"Yeah, but we like to mix unpredictability with the comfort and melody people want to feel when they hear a song," clarifies Winter. "You can't just be crazy, ridiculous. You have to stick to the point musically and make the song catchy to the listener."
No worries there. On just their first record, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus already have mastered the difficult art of ensnaring the listener, whatever particular style theyre delving into. Face Down blends propulsive, chugging guitars, a steady beat and yearning pop vocals and climaxes in a detonation of dissonance and a volley of screams. In Fate's Hands (the name of Reidy and bassist Joey Westwoods' former metal band) starts with plangent acoustic strumming then abruptly shifts into overdrive with start-stop guitars, tumbling drums and a chorus as angry as it is infectious. And Cat and Mouse is a melancholy ballad anchored by a repeating delicate piano line that surfaced as if by magic.
"We were at a showcase for a record label, and we were pretty sure we weren't ready, so everyone was on edge," recalls Winter. "So, to calm his nerves, [guitarist] Duke [Kitchens] sat down with his guitar and just started playing. I walked up to him and said, Dude what is that? And he said, I just came up with it. So I said, Keep playing it. Dont stop. And I made him play for two hours straight while we wrote the entire song all the way through."
In addition to being musically adventurous, Winter doesn't shy away from confessional, confrontational lyrics. The cantankerous Seventeen Ain't So Sweet addresses a female friend who has an amazing voice but has been unable to make a dent in the music industry because she doesnt look like a plastic pop idol, and the reflective, flowing Your Guardian Angel shows Winters letting down his guard and trying to express what it really feels like to be in love. But its Face Down, a scathing indictment of domestic abuse, which hits hardest.
"Where I come from, you see it when you go to the store, you see it when you stop for a smoke, you see it all the time," Winter says. It's something everybody sees and doesn't do anything about because they're just so accustomed to it. I was the same way and I was a victim of it. So the best way I could think of to get people to not make the same mistake I did was to write about it."
Winter and Kitchens, the only original members left in the band, formed The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus in 2003 just for kicks. For 18 months they wrote and rehearsed with no real intention of playing shows or recording an album. When some friends who heard them jam suggested they play out, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus started booking gigs and were immediately embraced by the local scene. "We played this place called The Art Bar twice, and the second time we played it, we sold it out," Winter says.
Encouraged by the response, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus contacted the owner of a local studio to see if they were ready to start recording. When the response was a resounding yes, they recorded their first EP, using it to promote themselves wherever they could - online and at local concerts, high schools, colleges, malls, beaches and other locations across Florida. Although the reaction was undeniable, the industry wheels didn't start turning right away. The band showcased for several labels to no avail, leading to discouragement between members, some of which left or were removed from the band.
Determined not to give up, the remaining members posted ads around town looking for new members with the same level of dedication and motivation. After auditioning several dozen guitarists, Winter accidentally returned Reidys' phone call about the opening one night at 2 AM and the conversation eventually led him to meet up with the guys an hour later. The group clicked immediately - Reidys' playing style complimented Winters while providing a fresh perspective on the bands sound, and by the morning, the band had taught Reidy five songs.
Their fan base continued to build to an almost unheard-of level for a local band, in-turn attracting New York-based management. Winter then added drummer Jon Wilkes (whom he met years ago when his old band jammed with Wilkes' group), and the current lineup was then completed when Elias brought in his childhood friend and former band mate Joey Westwood. "The whole situation was solely based on fate," recalls Reidy. "Originally, Ronnie randomly approached Joey in a record store and told him they needed another guitarist. After joining the band I re-introduced them to Joey who became the new bass player. It only made sense." Just a few months later, following a flurry of industry attention, the band signed with Virgin Records.
With their line up in place, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus entered the studio last year with producer David Bendeth, who has previously worked with Hawthorne Heights and Breaking Benjamin. "We were blown away with the sonic-quality of the Breaking Benjamin album, so we were really excited to work with him," Reidy says. "Plus, he really understood our vision."
"He really challenged us to make us a better band," Winter adds. "It wasn't always easy, and when we did something he wasn't happy with, he'd say, 'That's not good enough. You can do better and you're going to do better.' And you know what? We did."
From the chugging riffs and serpentine guitars of Atrophy to the steely rage of Justify to the tender lament of Cat and Mouse, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are determined to get their music across to the masses. There may have been a time when they didn't know if they were ready to be heard, but those days are gone, and now they're eager to tour the world and beyond with the conviction that, when your music speaks so eloquently, who cares what's in a name.
When a pair of quick-witted emcees joins forces with a battle-hardened, groove-fusing rhythm section, a classically trained violist and trumpet player, the result is a sound that explores and expands the frontiers of live hip-hop. Progressive in both style and message, the band's ability to drop from symphonic rock-infused crescendos into stripped-down string-laden breakbeats has earned Flobots a reputation for both originality and authenticity.
After originally forming as a side project in 2005, Flobots brought together Emcee's Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit with violist Mackenzie Roberts, guitarist Andy Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker, trumpet player Joe Ferrone, and drummer Kenny Ortiz. By the end of the year, it was clear that the band's refreshingly positive message and nontraditional instrumentation gave it both a universal appeal and a marketable buzz factor. Whether sharing the stage with jam bands, indie rock acts, or hip-hop groups, Flobots won the crowds and quickly reached a tippping point to became one of Denver's most influential bands.
The band's first EP, Platypus, was recorded quickly in response to the clamor of eager fans. Platypus' CD sales in the first week put Flobots at #1 on Twist & Shout's bestseller list. In just a year and half, Platypus has sold over 3000 copies in Colorado and the surrounding region. The strength of this small record and a relentless performing schedule has enabled the band to open for acts like The Coup, Lyrics Born, Immortal Technique, and 2mex. Even Multi-platinum recording artist The Fray took notice, inviting the band to open the last night of their North American Tour at Red Rocks amphitheatre.
Now, just two and a half years from the birth of their first song, the band regularly sells out Denver venues and is developing sizeable followings in California, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming.
The upward trajectory continues as the band prepares to release its first full-length record, Fight With Tools (October 2007). Representing a year's worth of writing and recording, the record is a fire-breathing rallying cry for all free-thinking individuals fed-up with the violence and apathy that have thus far defined the new millenium.
Armed with musicianship, intelligence, and an passionate loyalty to the power of creation, Flobots are looking to engage a new musical culture, one mind at a time.