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Adrenaline Mob

Bezielers Mike Orlando (gitaar) en Russell Allen (zang) hebben de trein terug op de sporen. Menigmaal trachtte hun vehikel te ontsporen door het lot en ongelukkige toevallen, maar Adrenaline Mob bijt scherp toe op hun derde album ‘We The People’. Heftiger dan ooit, scherper dan voorheen en gelouterd door voorgaande en huidige gebeurtenissen is het een rijp album geworden met meer energie dan ooit. We konden zanger Russell Allen amper stoppen in zijn pleidooi om zijn nieuw werkstuk en de gang van zaken in de wereld te expliceren. Het werd een zeer hartelijke en interessante conversatie!

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

My first impression from the album ‘We The People’ is that it is way much heavier than the previous one, or am I wrong?
Yes, I would say so. With the addition of this amazing new drummer (Jordan Cannata – Vera) that we found – I discovered this young man through our friends in Twisted Sister – who told me: ‘Hey Russ, if you are looking for a new drummer, you should check this kid out from Long Island’ and I did and I was just ‘wow, he is left-handed’ (that was the first thing I said) and he is amazing! I think his playing added fire to the music, it is definitely bringing out that energy, more than on past albums. Not to be taking it away from A.J. and Mike of course, they are totally talented and gifted players, but there is so much freshness in a young soul, a passionate spirit that’s looking to get out there and do it and does not have that jaded sort of ‘been in the business for hundred years’ thing going on. He is in his mid twenties. I think he added an element of energy to the music. The music – written by Mike Orlando and myself – already had the essential structures of the songs, but it still takes the musicians to bring that songs’ energy to live and I think he has been an incredible partner.

The former album ‘Men Of Honor’ came out in the Spring of 2014 and I guess before fate struck you, that you could be touring for one year or so before A.J. passed away? What did you do in that year when everything went as planned?
We did some pretty cool stuff. We have opened for Avenged Sevenfold on a tour in North America, which was probably the highlight of that album cycle. We have toured in South America. We have done other things with these guys, but basically touring as much as we could. We did not get back to Europe, which is a real bummer. We were just about to do that and A.J. passed away… and everything just kind of fell apart after that, you know.

Yes, I can understand and it was not the only bad luck you had, like with the van. I remember the EP came out in 2015, because the full length was delayed due to this bad lucks…
Yeah we had a lot of challenges. So many challenges, just to keep the band alive. After that pause, that was a miracle itself. To me it still feels like it has been all a test. Really testing the grip and the integrity and the perseverance of me and Mike Orlando. Can we continue to bear through this thing and see if there is some light at the end of the tunnel? There sure feels like there is now, but it certainly took a long time to get to this point, when we felt like we were going to be able to get back on our feet again and get out there and do it. First of all making a record that actually is good… you know. That is really what it comes down to. I know that Mike and me achieved that, I can feel it, I can hear it in the songs and I can hear it in the energy of the record. It is better than the other two. I feel it in a lot of ways, but again, that’s just my humble opinion and every artist feels their latest is the best, but I think this one really does live up to that cliché if you will, because of all the shit that we have gone through. There is a story here, a tragic story at times, but hopefully we are lucky to have a happy ending to it (chuckles).

Finally you deserve some really good luck, indeed…
Yin and yang you know. It is always darkest right before the dawn they say.

Yeah and there is something I have written down. It already comes in the first song and later again, namely that there is a good and a bad side on everything…
Yes there is. I agree. That is why the angel and the demon both appear on the cover on either side of our Tony Bones character. The artwork concepts I have been doing from the beginning and the angel and the demon have always been a part of that. The good and the bad of it all. I did not foresee when I created that sort of imagery in the beginning of how I would live it out in real life, but it is definitely a part of it. This time I put it as big as I could on the cover and it is funny to see people’s reactions: ‘He looks like the Simps’, you always get those haters (laughs). Mark Sasso I think is one of the best heavy metal cover artists out there. That is not photo-shopped, it is his hand-drawn work. He really wants people to see the deeper meaning in it, than just the cover being whatever, but that is for a fan, for people who really give a shit. All art is done, a little bit for self-gratification, but mostly for a love of it and for the people who love what you are doing.

I think if you buy a record, it is always a reward that you can go deeper into it…
Yes, there are details all over the cover. You will notice that our Tony Bones guy is actually a human being, with skin and hair and there are no angel and there is no demon in the songs. The reason is because the actual people in the audience, that’s what they really see. They just see the person up there, you being a fan or you being a person that sees the picture as it is, seen inside his conscious, seen inside his soul, with a removal of the body and only the two spirits are on each side of him. It is there, you can see it, but you are going to look for it. And of course I love heavy metal art, it is all wrapped in this cool kind of Megadethy, Iron Maiden sort of vibe which I grew up with, loving those guys, loving their artwork.

When did you actually feel when you both should give it a go again and how did it happy, because the record was written in six months?
Yeah me and Mike started thinking about it last Summer. I came at Wacken, because Symphony X was playing at Wacken and I talked to Jens from Century Media, because I received an email from the manager from the label that they were interested in doing another album and at that time I was like: ‘I don’t know if I am going to do that, I don’t know if Mike wants to do it.’ We had not spoken for months after the passing of A.J. and the last tour was over. Very dramatic experience for the both of us, so I just went back home and I just started focusing on my family and doing stuff for my kids. And then Symphony X was starting up a cycle, so it was a really great time for that, a real diversion to me to kind of get over that. I did not speak to Orlando for a long time and we finally started talking again, that was after I had this conversation with Jens and I said: ‘You know what, Mike. I think it is time’, I sent him a text message. This time we got together and I said: ‘I need to tell you what the label thinks, they are into it.’ I wanted to continue with this. Jens came and had seen Adrenaline Mob when Floor Jansen had come up, before she was in Nightwish, and sang with me at the Matrix in Bochum. We had such a great show that night and Jens was like: ‘this band, man, this band! You guys really have something here.’ So he’s always been a supporter. So he said: ‘I got you back on this one. If you want to come back and do this, then we are going to be there for you.’ I said: ‘Okay man, if that’s the way it is going to be, then I am interested and I will talk to Mike about it.’ That how it happened. I spoke with Mike and he was working on his projects, trying to get it off the ground, but I got his attention. He said: ‘Okay.’ We got together at my house and spoke about it first and talked about everything. Heart to heart about all we went through. The ups and the downs. The highs and the lows. The good and the bad. The angel and the demon (chuckles). How could we move forward? We both were in a much better place as human beings I think. Age is passing and enlightened me and him and we grew up a lot. He had, especially, shown me that he is a different, changed man. His ideas and his vision and his drive were not motivated anymore by the desire to be… known. In the beginning it was: ‘I want to be recognized. I want to be seen.’ And he deserved that because he was so talented, but this time it was: ‘I have something to say.’ And that was a thing that got my interest. I said: ‘Now you have my attention. Now let’s write some music that says something.’ And so that is kind of how it started and then we got together, he had these songs. We started writing songs together. Slowly in the beginning, and all of a sudden we got one song finished – I think it was ‘Chasing Dragons’ - and that was a good start, great song. That gave us the confidence and then all of a sudden they all started coming out. We finished all the songs he brought to me. He wrote a bunch of great music! I had some really nice ideas for some of the lyrics, tracks like ‘Blind Leading The Blind’, he really liked a lot and it sort of painted the picture for ‘We The People’. It gave us a sort of political backdrop to work with, because we were going on elections that year. We wrote a bunch of stuff. ‘The Killer’s Inside’ is about a serial killer, ‘Lords Of Thunders’ is about pirates, ‘Til The Head Explodes’ is about pushing yourself too hard and we know that, we did it. We were pushing each other so hard and pushing back and forth and fighting at times. We wrecked the van, we almost died. We were pushing so hard for this, stressing so hard about everything, so all these songs have their stories you hear about things we went through emotionally or talking about what we have seen on television, about the media and of course the introspective track ‘Bleeding Hands’ is really just a melancholic track that kind of sums it all up, for what we have been through. I think back to my times when I lived in California as a kid and all the shit that happened to me and especially in this band. Almost dying in a wreck and then some of my friends died. All those people… well, the lyrics say it all… I think the album has a great diversity to it, that speaks on a lot of different emotional levels and stuff. Still it is cohesive, it holds itself together, it is not too shabby, not too aggressive. It has got a little rounded feel to it, the album is very well rounded.

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When it is heavy, it is also very groove-laden…
That was done on purpose. We both agreed on that: even if we are going to get heavy, let us have a groove, where some people can move to. I believe and he believes, we both feel that Adrenaline Mob is a band that people should be moving to. Whether you are driving in your car down the road when you are listening to the music or if you are at a show and you want to move. That is what we want people to feel, a sense of movement, a sense of moving forward and that is kind of what we are going for and this record is that for us: it is about moving forward, moving past all these differences that we created politically and moving forwards in our own lives or what’s happened to the band. That is what the musical motive is, the underlying pulse of the message.

And can you go a bit deeper into how the elections inspired you to write some songs?
Well, we were just blown away by how the media – the agenda driven media at least – were pushing for their candidates so hard. In the past they kind of hided it a little bit, but this time CNN was totally going for the Clinton camp and bashing Trump as much as possible, while Fox News the other way fighting back and we had a media war going on and I was both appalled and entertained at the same time. It was like a train you could not turn away from, you had to watch it, keep on watching it… and here I am watching my country and losing all the ideals that my forefathers fought for - because my family line goes back to the Revolution in my country – my forefathers were actually in the Revolution with Washington against the British (chuckles) that became the first Republic since the Greeks and Romans, you know, at the time. We today do not really understand what the climate was back in those days. If you spoke out against the king or the monarchy or the church, they killed you. You were dead. There was no freedom of speech, there were no rights. If you weren’t born as a person of influence or power, into a family like that, you were a commoner, you had no rights. You were owned by whatever futile Lord of the land you were born on. So this idea of having free speech and freedom of press and all these great things these guys were putting together, they were perfected. They got a few things, they did not do wrong, but they let slavery slide under the radar, which is a big mistake. And even some of my forefathers knew and stated at the time that they felt this was not a mistake; it was done on purpose and that would lead to war and they were right. To see the media become this thing is hard… Most journalists, when they were young – like most young people – have a great moral sense of right and wrong. If you have good parents, you have good morals. You go through life with the idea that you are going to do the right thing and change the world. They come up and then you have these media powers who forgot about all that and unfortunately it does not get the truth out of it. What I do, I am an independent, I am right in the middle, I read a CNN story and I look for the same story on a Fox Media page. I read both sides of the bowl, of the aisle, and I look for the common true’s, because they are in there, you just got to find them. You get to weed through all the opinionated stuff to get to the facts. I write them down and compare. If they both say that… that will be true… what ever happened to reporting the news as it is?

In Europe idem ditto, although I think the US is always the forerunner of things happening in Europe, so I guess your media wars are worse than ours…
Look what’s happened… the media war was so present and so predominated that the people were just like ‘screw this’. They let the cat out of the bag and they were so openly fighting about everything in front of everyone, that trying to remain unprejudiced is really difficult and after a while the people, you think that they are all stupid. We are not stupid, man! After a while we know what shit smells like. Whether we have elected the right guy (chuckles), I am not going to commend on that, because time will only tell. We are pretty nervous now, because we did not elect a politician, that’s what happened. Love or hate Donald Trump. This man is not a Washington insider, bred and born politician you have seen from my country for years and years and years. Most of these guys that have had the power had been bred for the position. Bushes and Clintons, these men have been bred for that position their whole lives.

In some way it is pretty exciting. The others were so prepared to lie, maybe things will change now… for the good or for the bad, again indeed…
I don’t know what’s coming. But something is coming. I hope it is good. We don’t want to be lied to, but the same time, the ones that were lying before, they did it to keep the peace. They want to justify their actions because ‘we did not go into World War III when I was in office, because I lied about this and that.’ Okay, I kind of understand what the motivations were, but now suddenly half of my country is suffering and they cannot make the house payments, because the stock market and the banks screwed everybody. Then you bail them out. I am still pissed off about that. I watched my father suffer to that stock market crash situation. It affected all of us. I also bought a house on the top of that and I lost half the value of my home, but I’ll never get my money back from that. In this day and age, earning money is hard for everyone. When you are outsourcing your jobs to other countries…. – not that I am against hiring the best possible people in the world to work for you or whatever if you are a businessman – but to go out and scab the American worker, just because you can and it makes more money for you, that is just greed. ‘Ignorance & Greed’, just like the song says. That is what we are commenting on: the deeper problems that are more human, if you want, people have to get to the root of the problem and that is corruption and greed. That is really what drives these guys, they want to dictate people entirely what they want, so their industry survives. Companies don’t want governments to tell them what to do.

So true… When Lehmann bank went bankrupt, also people here lost money. When it rains in the US, it drips in Europe…
Yeah (sighs)… but the bankers in my country, they all got bonuses! The CEO’s took up their yearly bonus! How can you get a bonus on a bail out? I mean, people were just screaming bloody murder. You got people out on the street, their whole life was gone, they lost their houses. These are families, man, these are real people! If just one of the bankers would have taken the bonus and said: ‘Here, I am going to give this to a charity fund to help people who are suffering right now, because I don’t deserve this’. That guy would have been the most popular guy in the country at that time. Not one of them stepped forth that I am aware of, and took that noble path and said: ‘ You know what… I don’t deserve this, we really screwed over a lot of people.’ That would have been amazing. I would have applauded that guy, I would have voted for him if he was running for President. If just one of them would have turned around and said: ‘With this bail out thing, I don’t deserve my bonus. Thanks for helping me save the company, because a lot of people were allowing on me and the banks to keep their jobs, but I don’t need a multi-million dollar bonus this year.’ (laughs) With all their private Jets to go testify for a Congress… guys, come on man… I am totally on about going for your dreams. ‘Dream big, make a business and be a big chief, go for it man!’ Everybody wants to win, I have no problem with that, but when your acts affect the lives of families and stuff like that, you have to have some sort of moral responsibility. In that position apparently you have to say: ‘I am okay with what I am getting, I think I need to help out some other folks that I hurt.’ That would have been great!

And enjoy things instead of always wanting more and more and more… that is typical greed…
That is – like you said – the good and evil. The Seven Deadly Sins if you want. These are the things on the record that we commend on lyrically. Not particularly that we are pro. There’s no issues here, in terms of anything, except … pro life! That’s it! All the shit that we fight over and squabble over. The real curse of it all is, like you said, greed and people not been able to bring themselves to helping their fellowmen. That’s when everything falls apart! It happened to the Romans as well… (laughs)

Maybe it is our fate that every civilization falls apart the same way…
That might be the case. I am a big history fan. I love history and from what I have seen, it seems to be that way. I am sorry if we have eaten up our whole interview with this, but it has been an interesting conversation. (laughs)

Indeed, I did not want to stop you either…
(laughs) Well, to occlude: if you listen to the lyrics, we are kind of just reporting the news as it should be and not particularly one side or the other, but just showing people what is really going on. I should have made Tony Bones a news anchor on the cover haha (laughs)

Are there already plans for touring?
Yeah we are going to be out in America, starting June 16th for a tour. Twenty cities all A marked across the country and then we got some festivals going on in the States. We are going to hit the States again in the Fall. That is the plan right now. Then we take a holiday break and we come back with Angra early next year to Europe, six months after the release we will be out here with a tour in Europe.

I am looking forward to that. Don’t forget Belgium and the Netherlands!
No, we won’t. Europe is definitely on the radar. We are so happy and grateful that you guys have come out to support us and talk to me and the band about it, because I haven’t had an interview schedule like this since maybe over ten years+. With the Symphony X album ‘Paradise Lost’.

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