If you don’t feel anything after watching this phenomenal video, you might need to check your pulse.
There are some really amazing albums coming out next week, and one of them is by indie pop darling Mandolyn Mae. She exudes a delicate, honest approach to music that makes her tunes both heartfelt and hauntingly emotional. Not only is she capable of tackling her favorite hardcore songs and giving them a completely different approach, but also, Mandolyn Mae is dedicated and inspiring, two traits that resonate beautifully through her work. Below, she discusses exactly what inspires her the most, her intense love for Beyonce, and what we can expect from this budding musician, as she gets ready for her full length album, Once, to arrive next week.
TheIndieSD: How did you go about choosing the cover songs for your EP Cover2Cover?
Mandolyn Mae: People wouldn’t peg me as a hardcore music listener, but I’ve been listening to heavy music since I was 12. So when we were trying to decide which songs to do I thought I’d pick from songs that I love. There is also a very large diversity in the songs I chose so we could reach people that were in different age ranges. Like the guys that grew up on Further Seems Forever and the guys like me who grew up on Underoath.
TISD: Why did you decide to start off with a cover album? Was it a project that you always wanted to do?
MM: I actually didn’t start out with a cover album! My very first step into the music world was an EP of all originals called “The Thief”. It’s not online or anything, you can only get it at my shows [so] not many people know about it. But why I chose to do this cover album was because my dad was a hardcore music producer and my very first concert was at a hardcore show with the full on moshing and everything! That was when I was 13. Anyway, when we sat down to think about what my next music step would be it seemed fitting that we would do something out of the box but also something really close to my heart. It was REALLY fun recreating these songs!
Mae’s rendition of Of Mice & Men’s “Second & Sebring” is the perfect example of how to recreate a song.
TISD: What musical experience did you have before Cover2Cover. When did you first start performing and songwriting, and what was that like?
MM: Well my first tour that I went on was with Alive In Standby and Trees Above Mandalay and that was SO much fun. They’re all such fun, sweet and professional guys. It was definitely a great first tour for me to be on. Then after that I was on a little bit of a tour with Sparks the Rescue, Rookie of the Year, Jimmie Deghan and my friend Tidewater and that was awesome as well. I loved being on the road with all of those guys. Those were both before Cover2Cover.
TISD: What inspires your songwriting process the most?
MM: My faith is a huge deal to me, so I’d say that that’s a big part of my inspiration. God has held my hand through every moment in my life, both good and bad, and why would I NOT want to share that, you know? Love also inspires. Being loved is something that every person desires so I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t inspire me.
TISD: Your single “Hurricane” is particularly uplifting! Are you inspired by your religion when you write songs?
MM: Yes I very much am. Like I said in the previous question, I love sharing the story of how I’ve done none of this on my own; I’ve been lead. God shows up in the most inconvenient times sometimes, but it changed you forever.
TISD: Are there any artists that you really want to collaborate with or plan to collaborate with in the near future?
MM: Well I don’t know of any future collaborations, but my DREAM collaboration would be with Dallas Green of City and Colour. He’s such a musical inspiration to me, plus he’s a fellow Canadian, so that’s a plus. His writing is ridiculously incredible. I’ve always said that he can break my heart and put it back together all in one song. If you can do that to somebody, you’re doing music right.
TISD: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
MM: Ah! So many! Dallas Green is a huge one. Mat Kearney, Ellie Goulding and Jeff Buckley. Oh, and can I just say I also have an intense love for Beyonce? She’s like my ideal self. If I were a diva and were married to Jay-Z. Like I don’t want to be her in the creepy/stalker way, I want to be like her in the sweet, loving and kind way. You know what I’m talking about!
TISD: I know you play the ukulele on stage quite often. Are there any other instruments you play and incorporate into your music or your live performances?
MM: Well, kind of. I dabble in the world of keys but I wouldn’t classify myself as a “keys player” quite yet. I do have a wonderful fella that plays beside me at almost every show and we double up on ukuleles and that’s always so much fun!
TISD: You had the chance to perform at SXSW as a part of their acoustic series. Tell me about that experience! What kind of reception did you see for your music?
MM: SXSW was so much fun!! I didn’t really get to see much of it because we drove down, then drove back home and that’s like a 13 hours drive both ways, but what I did see was amazing. So many people that loved every kind of music. It was incredible. What was really fun for me was the night before I played, City and Colour played across the street. I wanted to kiss the ground. Such a fun experience and people seemed to like what I was doing as well. It’s an incredible memory that I’m going to be holding onto for a long time.
TISD: I believe Warped Tour is up next for you. Are you excited about the tour? Will you be speaking with and meeting your fans while you are there?
MM: Yes! I will be playing in Kansas City July 23 and then St. Louis the 24. I’m insanely excited!! I would absolutely love to meet people while I’m there. That’ll be the best part!
TISD: What do you have planned after Warped Tour?
MM: As of now everything is kind of up in the air, but hopefully something soon!
Mandolyn Mae’s next release, Once, will be out next week via Easy Killer Records. In the meantime, preview the album by listening to the beautiful track “The Only Person Alive” at GuitarWorld.com.
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This coming Tuesday marks the release of Sleeping with Sirens much-anticipated third studio album, Feel. While many bands who don’t frequent popular radio find themselves in some sort of hard-core limbo, either playing local shows for the entirety of their career or traveling the world with the likes of Pierce the Veil or Chiodos, it’s pretty clear you either make it or you don’t. That can usually be determined by the time a band drops their third album, if they ever make one, but something tells me Sleeping with Sirens is here for the long haul.
These Florida boys have made a name for themselves since their beginning in 2009 with their debut album With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear. Their latest release Feel carries the band’s original sound to new levels with such singles as “Alone”, which features rapper Machine Gun Kelly. Feel opens with an upbeat anthem, detouring a bit from the band’s usual post hardcore sound, and perhaps opening the door to the possibility of reaching new listeners who would have otherwise not given this genre a chance.
SWS has kept up a trend of putting a few slower ballads in the mix, and this trend continues with contemplative songs like “Sorry”. It’s obvious that these guys have grown as a band and this can be heard not only instrumentally, but through their lyrics as well. “Free Now” is such an amazing combination of emotion and strength; lead singer Kellin Quinn opens up about his mother, father and daughter in such a forthright way with the lyrics “I wrote this song for my father/Sometimes I feel he never gave a damn about me”. After listening to these songs just once, I found myself humming the melodies and singing the few lines that really stuck in my head.
Anyone can come up with a gimmick and out music, but it takes something extra to write songs that stick with people, songs that make them want to keep coming back to the album until they’ve memorized it in its entirety, and this is one of those albums. This summer, the band will play the main stage for Vans Warped Tour and they have just finished wrapping up a sold out UK tour.
So perhaps you don’t listen to punk, scream, or post hardcore or anything along those lines, but in any case I would give this album a listen. You might be pleasantly surprised!
New Sleeping With Sirens album Feel will be out June 4th! In the meantime, you can stream the album in its entirety below via the band’s Youtube:
Warped Tour is coming around again and there’s five really important reasons why you should be there. Yes, there are a slew of teenagers there. Yes, there are a slew of jackasses, too. Yes, the band lineup can get very predictable. But there’s more to Warped Tour, and if you even remotely like some of the music there, you’re bound to have a good time. Here’s why:
1. Fulfill your Peter Pan syndrome. I don’t want to grow up! Who does? Warped Tour is the perfect place to forget that you’re an adult and actually have bills to pay and a car that is owned by you and not your parents. Get lost in a mosh pit, hurt your foot, and then have a valid excuse to skip out on work the next day. Or body paint with some slightly half naked girls. Take a Super Soaker to the crowd with little to no repercussions. There are a million and one ways to be a kid at Warped, so try them all and forget you’re responsible for just one day.
2. Help save the world, just a little. There are a lot of great charities at Warped that are hoping to enlist the help of youngsters all over to bring awareness to a cause. I’m not talking about PETA and the Vegan Warriors (though if that’s your thing, that’s fine), I’m talking about some interesting organizations who try to come up with fun things for you to see and experience each year. From the worldwide do-gooders at 1Love to the Wishbone Foundation, an organization that puts art programs into group homes for youths, there’s going to be something that you can come out of Warped Tour feeling good about.
3. Two words: circle pit. In the world of Moshing 101, Circle Pits are your beginner experience. And they’re kind of exciting. Being pressed up against sweaty, smelling bodies is not appealing to many people, which is why circle pits are the better option of the mosh. I don’t know why people have to run in a circle to metal and punk music, but it’s really kind of fun and at least you’re getting an amazing work out in the process.
4. Autographs, autographs, and more autographs. I don’t care who you are, whenever you see someone signing stuff, especially if it’s FREE stuff (see below), you’re inclined to at least ask who they are. Virtually all of the bands at Warped Tour do signings, and sometimes they’ll give you free stuff for them to sign. So even if you only like two bands on the lineup, you know you can at least get to meet those two bands. Or…maybe you could get things signed and sell them on EBay. I don’t know, but the choice is yours and the options are there!
5. FREE STUFF. This is kind of self-explanatory. There’s a lot of free stuff at Warped. Free CDs, free t-shirts, free sunglasses, free stickers, free FOOD, free condoms! Yes, free condoms. There’s about anything your heart can desire and more. There are some free things going around that constitute as junk, but for the most part the goods at Warped are gems. And if it isn’t free, it could be dirt cheap. Some of the coolest bands offer their CDs for as low as $1.
When you put all of this into perspective, Warped Tour can be a really amazing place. It’s considerably cheaper than the other music festivals out there, and can be just as fun. Check out our photos from Warped Tour 2012 (especially if you’re in one! Tag yourself!) to hold you over until this summer tour makes its way to your city.
(originally posted Jun 28, 2012)
Have I mentioned how much I love female-fronted bands? How about female-fronted bands who REALLY know how to rock? Take my love for rock music and add the intensity and dynamic that can come from a female voice, and you’ve got Orange County natives Neo Geo. Their sound is just the right amount of edgy, their lyrics are unapologetic, and their music is diverse and moving. Truly a band to see live, as they will make sure you have an experience that you won’t soon forget.
I got the chance to talk with Rainy Terrell of Neo Geo about the passion behind their music, and what the band is up to next. Trust me, you’ll have a new-found appreciation for the badass-ness that is Rainy Terrell after reading this, or your money back. Which doesn’t really apply because this site is free, but read below anyway, and possibly discover a new favorite band in the process.
I know how difficult it is for “female-fronted rock” in this genre. How do you feel about that?
I see it as an opportunity more than anything. I don’t see it as a challenge; I see it as something new and it can be really awesome for our younger generations to see that also women are so captivating and emotionally very invested. I truly love it and it’s a challenge but yet it’s not. I see it as an opportunity more than anything to really convey how I feel. I really want to be an inspiration for younger women and kind of help them find their way. I’m trying to inspire younger women to find themselves.
You have a little bit more of an edgier, brash sound. How much of that is conveyed from your personal life?
Honestly, I used to do theater and I was in opera and that’s how I studied technically how to sing. As I got older I realized I really didn’t want to sing other people’s things. I wanted to be able to be in a band and actually convey what I feel and my emotions. So anything that you ever see on stage or anything that I write about is honest and true. I love artists that are real. I think that’s really important for any kind of music, because you expect to get something from the energy. I am theatrical, but I would never be a gimmicky band.
I can tell that your group has the passion for it! You can tell when a band is passionate about their music as opposed to gimmicky.
Exactly, I would never be a gimmick band. It’s always very real. I am human and there are some times when I am in a bad mood, or I’m in a great mood, or I am hurt about something, like anybody. I think it’s important to express that and not be fake about it. I hate fake!
So Neo Geo has been hitting some of the western tour dates. How has it been being on the road with the guys?
You know, I think I’m used to it by now. I have three brothers … and then being in a band with four other guys, and then all the techs are guys. So, it’s something that I find me picking up on certain things in their personalities. There are some things that I find myself doing that are kind of guy like, even though I am very feminine. Like, I’m okay with being able to be around them, and doing work. I do understand when they talk about girls or whatever. I feel like a little sister to them.
What kind of fan base have you noticed with Neo Geo? How do you interact with your fans?
It’s really cool because our fan base is a wide variety. I have women that are coming up to me that are in their 40s and 50s and guys that are in their 40s or 50s in our fan base. They’ll come to Warped Tour and they’re like, “Don’t ever stop what you’re doing.” A woman told me, “You’re like the next Gaga or Pink or No Doubt.” It feels really good to hear something like that.
What does the band have coming up in the future?
We just released a single called “Superstar”. When we go home [after Warped Tour] we’re going to be recording the second record. So that’s going to be really fun. I absolutely love [the single] “I’ve Done It Alone”, it’s even more of a favorite than “Superstar” but I love them both. Then we have a lot of other songs, another awesome ballad as well. So there’s a lot of really good songs that are going to be on the next record. It’s still going to be Neo Geo but it has a little more of an electronic/hip hop type feel, but it’s still very rock. It’s really hard to put a genre on it. It’s just Neo Geo; just a little different, but the same at the same time. It’s evolving.
Make sure you check out Neo Geo’s next show at The Roxy, September 12th, and if you’re not in the So Cal area, why not grab a free download of their latest single, “Superstar”? You’re welcome.
Meet Australian pop rockers Tonight Alive, Warped Tour’s resident “foreign exchange students” as one guy enthusiastically yelled out before their interview, during their stop in San Diego, CA. I got to sit down with Jenna McDougall and Whakaio Taahi and discuss everything from their experience so far on Warped, to their first full length album, What Are You So Scared Of? For a band that is barely graduating from their freshman year in the game, Tonight Alive is quickly making a name for themselves and putting a few of the seniors in their place, too. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be the most humble, down to earth people from down under. And….. cue the unison “awww”!
Being a ‘female-fronted band’ in a typically perceived man’s world, Jenna and Whakaio had wise words to say about their music and the bands that share this rather broad category with them. Some people may argue that it’s easier or more difficult for a female-fronted band, but lead singer Jenna notes that Tonight Alive have had no special treatment, and “if you’re doing it right, it’s as hard as it is for everyone else.” Whakaio further adds that he doesn’t see the group as being a female-fronted band. “The thing about Jenna,” he states, “is it’s not because she’s female, it’s because she’s talented as a songwriter and as a vocalist.”
Talent is the first factor that catches your eyes (and ears) when listening to Tonight Alive. Another trait that is hard to ignore is how seasoned the band seems, even though they currently have released only one full length album. Whakaio accredits this to the band touring with each other for over 2 years now, making them a tight-knit group. Even so, Warped Tour is a whole other world and it’s obvious that the band is still riding on cloud nine. Whakaio adds that “It’s been two weeks and still it hasn’t worn off that we’re in this thing finally.”
Jenna’s face lights up when she mentions how excited she’s been for the entire experience and the fans that come out to the shows. “It’s nice to know that the people that are standing in front of us when we play are not waiting for the band that’s coming on next,” says Jenna, and she’s got a good point. For a freshman band to attract so much attention while on a tour with over 90 other musicians, I must say, it’s impressive.
The band has obviously put a lot of thought into their tours, their performances and their music, as Jenna and Whakaio describe the feelings behind their album, What Are You So Scared Of? Jenna states the album’s theme is a number of things, but mainly it hopes to ask others the question, “what’s holding you back?” For a first album, the idea of facing your fears head-on seems like the perfect theme. Whakaio adds that he wanted to “help those people that are…searching for something.” with Jenna adding in to “take chances.”
Maybe that’s why the album has been quite popular. It sounds like YOLO, only smarter and a little more relatable. And I’m loving that. What do you think?
Another reason why I like this band? They signed that poster that we’re giving away on the site! If you’re interested in winning it, make sure you check out the giveaways section.
In the vein of predecessors Pepper and Sublime,Tomorrows Bad Seeds is attempting to put their own unique stamp on the whole fusion-Reggae appeal, and I have to admit, I kinda like it. When I lived in Hawaii, I discovered an ongoing musical feud between authentic Reggae-loving Rastafarians and their mainstream cousins who fuse anything from Hawaiian music to Spanish influences into their sound. Most people think if it isn’t reggae, don’t call it reggae. And I get where they’re coming from.
But music isn’t really about the name game, especially when you have a band with such a versatile sound. In the past, this South Bay Los Angeles based band walked the line of reggae and rock, but I have a feeling TBS will be premiering their brand new, anthem rock inspired songs all throughout Warped Tour.
So then… what do you call this genre? TBS is incorporating an assortment of sounds on their 2012 release The Great Escape. From the track “Ballerina Girl” which is a serious throwback to early 2000s pop and r&b, to their dance-flavored tunes which sound like they should be played over the speakers of a Hollister store, not a Rastafarian’s radio; they’ve got a lot going on. Sprinkled in there are those familiar beachy, pseudo-reggae songs that make the album just enough feel good, and not too serious.
So can we just call it the Feel Good genre? Is that too suggestive for radio play? What do you think?
Maybe the rough yet melodic rockers of Funeral Party were on to something when they named their band; when you listen to the monotone yet searing vocals of Chad Elliott over the melodic and sometimes dance worthy riffs behind the music, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a funeral or a party. Perhaps these LA natives strive for both, and that’s what makes their music interesting to hear.
It’s easy to tell why they became a cult hit in their local neighborhood, but you have to give them props for catching the ear of Lars Stalfors, a producer who has worked with the likes of The Mars Volta, Juliette Lewis, and Reel Big Fish. Factor in their own decision to get dropped from predominantly pop-punk Fearless Records (they were later signed with Sony), and it’s now up to Funeral Party to not only prove they can hack it mainstream, but also convince us of their sound.
Pseudo-pop and ironic clashes of genres are the next big thing, making Funeral Party pretty damn catchy, despite the lack of melody in Elliott’s vocals. But I’m waiting to see if they can take the energy-driven garage show and put it in a package that will make Sony Music proud.
On a completely unrelated note, their website is probably one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. But what do you think? Would you see them at Warped?
It’s that time of year again boys and girls. Teenagers, PETA warriors, and one journalist-like, music loving blogger will be sweaty and dehydrated for the chance to see a handful of metal-core bands and one or two fairly awesome closers. But wait, don’t hate on Warped Tour just yet. I know it tends to be a biased music production, but with over 90 bands performing there is bound to be something for everyone — a few diamonds in the rough — which is why I’m highlighting some particularly shiny Guilty Pleasures of the Week for the rest of June.
I have to start with gruff, rough-around-the-edges rock group Dead Sara, because I have a weakness for female-fronted bands. And the first moment that I heard the unique vocals of Emily Armstrong part screaming, part singing over the powerful guitar riffs that are an ode to the nu metal style of the 90s, I was in love. Armstrong seems to channel the fiery rasp of Janis Joplin as she pours either pure emotion or raw energy (I can’t tell which one) into the lyrics “So go for the kill/’Cause no one else cares!” from the single “Weatherman”.
But don’t get me wrong, Armstrong is no Joplin. Armstrong is at times missing style and magnetism in her voice, causing some to say Dead Sara’s debut full length album as a whole falls a little flat. Despite the huge growth spurt of the band, it’s probably going to be up to their live performances to convince audiences that they are definitely not a one-trick pony and have more to offer. (Just check out some of the meaningless heavy debate on the YouTube page for this video for more on how unconvinced a few people are.)
But… it is their first album. They are allowed a first album to put themselves out there and grow from here on out. Despite the lack of dynamic, I’m excited to see what they can pull out for their sophomore attempt. But what do you think? Do you think we’ll hear more from this band in the future?