Let’s Get Loud
On Monday, Dec. 27, Stillborn Fest will be coming through Syracuse, bringing a seven-band blowout including A Life Once Lost, Hatebreed and Thy Will Be Done to the historic Lost Horizon venue at 5863 Thompson Road. Though A Life Once Lost has played in Syracuse more than 10 times before, guitarist Doug Sabolick is excited as ever to make the return trip. “Our shows in Syracuse have always been awesome,” said Sabolick. “Besides the cold.”
ALOL has toured extensively on and off since they formed in 1999 just outside of Philadelphia, Pa., and has released five albums to date. They are hoping to drop the next in spring or early summer of 2011.
The band took a slower approach to the making of their latest CD. For starters, they stopped touring in 2009 after performing heavily to promote 2007’s Iron Gag. The group has spent the last year and a half writing, recording and perfecting the new album.
“We’re nearing the end, but it depends on how you look at it,” said Sabolick. “We’re working on the rough drafts and have everything written and recorded, but now we’ll rerecord it.”
The Syracuse show, the first date of the Stillborn Fest tour, marks one of ALOL’s first returns to the stage after their hiatus. The group came back to the live scene in October at CMJ, the College Music Journal’s Music Marathon, an annual festival held in New York City. ALOL headlined a metal showcase at Club Europa in Brooklyn and played with Car Bomb, This or the Apocalypse, Baptized in Blood and Last Chance to Reason.
Although CMJ is important and wellknown in the independent music festival circuit, Sabolick noted that it was more of a private party showcase than a fan-filled show like ALOL’s previous performance at the annual South By Southwest showcase in Austin, Texas. ALOL has also performed on Jagermeister Music tours, “The Sounds of the Underground” and Ozzfest.
The band, which also features Robert Meadows (vocals), Robert Carpenter (guitar), Justin Graves (drums) and Mike Sabolick (bass), has kept a fairly consistent member lineup throughout their more than 10 years of touring, writing and recording and is excited to perform with the bands of Stillborn Fest 2010.
“It’s our first time doing the tour, though it’s been going on for at least five years,” said Doug Sabolick. “We’ve played with Hatebreed at Ozzfest, and we took Thy Will Be Done on tour, but we’re excited to be a part of this tour. It should be fun.”
It will also be heavy. The bands of Stillborn Fest bring hardcore and metal to the stage in an intense, fast-paced way. ALOL’s driving guitar riffs and forceful drums paired with intense, screaming and growling vocals combine for a deep, heavy sound. Sabolick promises their live show to be just as direct, saying audience members can expect, “an assault on all your senses. We have a pretty unrelenting light show and it’s really, really loud and primal.”
The other Stillborn acts will require similar attention, as Hatebreed notoriously demands crowd participation. Another band with a rich history, Hatebreed has been performing since 1994 and has appeared at Ozzfest four times. Despite battles with record label and member changes, the rockers have also managed to produce five studio albums, not including 2009’s For the Lions, a collection of covers of some of Hatebreed’s favorite artists including Slayer, The Misfits, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags and Sepultura. The Connecticut band has also been nominated for a Grammy and performed alongside groups including Iron Maiden, Children of Bodom, Slayer, the Deftones and Avantasia throughout several tours and festivals.
The other bands playing the Lost come from a variety of locations, but bring similar musical themes. Ghost Ship is a Syracusebased outfit and Nine Round hails from nearby Seneca Falls. The World We Knew travels from Long Island, Hate Your Guts comes from Hamden, Conn., and Thy Will Be Done has its base in Providence, R.I.
Other stops on the tour will include Crocodile Rock in Pennsylvania, The Chance in New York City and Webster Theater in Connecticut, although some of the band lineups will change throughout the four dates.
Although A Life Once Lost has also shared the stage with other impressive acts including Throwdown, As I Lay Dying, Lamb of God, Clutch, Opeth, Strapping Young Lad, High on Fire and The Dillinger Escape Plan, Sabolick still stood firm in his excitement for this gathering of the Stillborn Fest 2010 tour. When asked if he had any more to add, he paused for a moment and simply said firmly, “Just come out to the show. It’s gonna be cool.”
The Lost Horizon’s doors open at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 27, with the music commencing at 7 p.m. Tickets, available at http://tixx1.artistarena.com/syracuseshows/ for $13, at The Sound Garden (310 W. Jefferson St.) are $13 in advance and $15 at the door. For information, call 446-5534.
On the Regular with Ruha
“Ruha” means “air, breath and atmosphere” in the ancient language of Aramaic. To Charley Orlando, this definition perfectly matches his understanding of music. “I look at music as something that is just like air to people,” he says. “I can’t live without it and I assume most people can’t either.”
Although Orlando has brought his music to audiences through his solo projects and various bands including Dexter Grove and The Charley Orlando Band, it is Ruha, his current group, that is striving to create something people can’t live without. Ruha will perform at the Westcott Theater, 524 Westcott St., on Sunday, Dec. 26, 8 p.m., opening for Joe Driscoll. Ruha will also perform at the Westcott in a residency of sorts, on Sundays, Jan. 2, 16 and 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Orlando anticipates the band’s sound will really come together during these shows. “With the Westcott residency, we want to form our sound in a live atmosphere. We’re basically going to get the knowledge of how the songs are and pretty much build our sound in front of everybody,” he says. “We want to make it a very communal experience.”
The band has been recording songs for their latest and currently unnamed album, due in 2011. However, these songs have all been built in various studios, rather than through live group performances. These gigs mark Ruha’s first time playing together for an audience.
Ruha is a super-group of sorts, uniting some of the most capable musicians in the area. The current roster features Max McKee (vocals, percussion, guitar), Greg Evans (drums, percussion), Greg LaPoint (percussion), Orlando (guitar, vocals), Crissy Noel (vocals, percussion), Brian Lauri (vocals, piano, organ) and Adam Fisher (vocals, bass). Orlando describes this assembled multitude as “unbelievable.”
“Ruha is a very high-level situation for everyone in the band,” he adds. “Everybody is extremely talented, so we hold it to that extremely high level on a constant basis. We’re always pushing each other to raise the bar. Not in an egotistical way, but how can we make this something we would come see?” For Orlando, this is a new experience.
Although he has played with an incredible number of musicians throughout his 25-plusyear career, he calls this lineup the best he’s ever been a part of and one guided by similar beliefs as well as ability.
Orlando firmly believes in the power of channeling and meditation, especially with regard to how he composes music. Often, his songs come to him through a channeling, where certain spirits guide him toward a lyric or musical line.
“I wrote a song that hasn’t been played yet by anybody, but as I was having a beer one day, I noticed that on the label of the beer was the line from my song,” he notes. “Marcel Proust had written it. He’s someone who has come through several times to me and I’ve probably written three songs with his guidance, but I never realized that song was him.” Orlando calls Proust “France’s Herman Melville.”
Orlando believes this channeling represents the universe working through him to deliver a bigger message with a higher purpose. Everyone in the band shares this same thought process, which helps them see beyond the present and focus on the bigger picture.
“Our ultimate message is unity,” says Orlando. “Not to sound hokey, but peace, love and harmony. It’s something everybody talks about, but not everybody practices.”
Ruha exudes that peaceful, harmonious vibe and demonstrates it through their writing process. Although Orlando was often in charge of writing music for his previous projects, Ruha brings the best of everyone’s work together.
“There really wasn’t too much of a method to most of this. We built the songs in a very organic style,” says Orlando. “Ruha is a group of musicians working together to show the unity process. It’s not as easy as you think to find people who will drop an ego and just lay with each other. It’s big.”
Collectively, the members of Ruha have about 50 years of touring experience. They all write music, have been a part of other projects and contribute significantly to the band. Their sound is raw, rootsy and reminiscent of jam bands like Reid Genaur and The Assembly of Dust. But what is most astonishing about Ruha, is how naturally it all comes together.
“We very much go on vibe,” says Orlando.
“We very much go on what is presented to us. We don’t try to force anything that’s not going to happen. So, the easier, the better, would be a motto for us. If it’s easy, then it’s right.”
As they flow between sounds and discover themselves, Orlando predicts the first to the last show of the Westcott stay will be completely different experiences for both the band and the audience. He invites you to come along for the ride.
Tickets to the all-ages Ruha-Joe Driscoll show on Sunday, Dec. 26, are $12. January’s solo Ruha shows, also all-ages events, will be $10. For information, visit www. thewestcotttheater.com.