In 1981, 16-year-old guitarist Larry Barragan put together the first incarnation of Helstar. Two years and several lineup changes later, the teenage band from Houston, Texas, recorded their first demo and broke through as a hit on the underground scene, quickly gaining national and international attention. Considering that this was long before the age of Internet access and social media, it was no small feat. By the time 1983 came to a close, Helstar had signed their first record deal with Combat Records.
Joe Lynn Turner didn’t set out to become one of the most recognizable voices in rock. His goal was to be a guitar player, in addition to singing and songwriting, but it didn’t take long for his dynamic range to push him to frontman status — fronting bands led by guitar heroes.
If you’re new to the game and just discovering Jack Blades, you’re likely to think of him as a founding member/lead vocalist/bassist for the rock band Night Ranger. In fact, Blades is a multi-faceted artist who can easily transition from the volume of arena rock — with Night Ranger or Damn Yankees — to the stripped-down acoustic sounds of Shaw/Blades, his project with Styx vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Tommy Shaw.
Award-winning producer/songwriter/guitarist John Shanks clearly recalls the first time he heard Van Halen. “I was 12 years old, doing my homework, and I put their first album on,” he says. “All of a sudden, ‘Eruption’ comes on and you’re like, ‘What?’ No one had ever heard that. It freaked us all out. To me, it was Hendrix, Beck, Page, Gilmour and Clapton. That was it — the big five. And of course The Beatles. And then, one day, Van Halen.”
A few weeks prior to the start of the Mass Chaos Tour, co-headlined by Staind and Godsmack, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok phoned in to discuss the making of the band’s new, self-titled album. Staind is the seventh release from Mushok, vocalist Aaron Lewis and bassist Johnny April, who are now joined by their new drummer, Sal Giancarelli.
When Jeff Rains began his professional journey into the music industry 12 years ago, it was equal parts ambition and naivete. Both were important catalysts that enabled him to push forward as an independent artist during a time when major label record deals were still considered part and parcel of any artist’s success.
Two nationally distributed albums into their career, Straight Line Stitch are free agents again, back on the road with a new guitar team and options open for their next album. Changes are nothing new to the band, which was formed 12 years ago in Tennessee. Vocalist Alexis Brown joined in 2003; bassist Jason White in 2006. By the time they signed with Koch Records imprint Raging Nation, the group had released a demo, an EP and one album, To Be Godlike.
It’s often said that the music industry works in cycles, that everything old becomes new again, and that (fill in your favorite cliche here). In fact, 2012 is lining up to be the year classic becomes contemporary, as legendary bands release blistering new albums, artists from previous decades tour to capacity crowds, and punk rock — 30 years old and sometimes thought of as a thing of the past — rears its furious, distorted head again like a shot heard around the world.