Fate is an interesting concept, and becomes somewhat curious when life changes thanks to a pivotal moment. When the path that you’re on can clearly be defined by that one special encounter, and all things you experience from then onwards stem to a singular point in time. This outlook or philosophy is highly relevant to the band Mindset Evolution who hails from Illinois.
As lead vocalist Rob Ulrich explains, “He’s like a huge Avenged Sevenfold fan-boy and he’s in the airforce, and he’s always been, ever since we, before Mindset Evolution was ever formed we did some other things musically and he’s always been part of that.” Ulrich continues to set out the game changing moment for his band. “He fell in love with our music and what we were doing years and years ago and he’s always had our back. One day he saw Avenged Sevenfold promoting the battle and he was like these guys have gotta do this!” The reference to the battle in this context is in regards to the Rockstar Energy drink UPROAR Festival “Battle of the Bands” competition. “At this point we had done five other battles and we had lost three of them, and there just wasn’t really the taste for battle anymore in our mouths, we just wanted to write and we were focussing on that. That’s kind of where he stepped in, and he’s like, no no-no, you guys have gotta do this, I’ve got a great feeling about it.” After explaining how a profile was set up representing Mindset Evolution in this competition, Ulrich sounding suitably thrilled with the outcome gushes “Turns out that we beat 5300 bands in the entire nation for the chance to go out on all of the 2012 Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival.”
The turn of their fortunes came from an angle they hadn’t pursued to any great degree, or had even taken in to account. A loyal and positive-driven fan had instigated a set of events that would take this hard-working band who felt they were stuck in the basement, to a whole new level thanks to a passion for a style of music he loved. In hindsight, when Ulrich is quoted on their Facebook profile saying “If you face an obstacle that you can’t pass, you have to change your approach and do something differently,” you know that he’s speaking from experience.”If you face an obstacle that you can’t pass, you have to change your approach and do something differently”If you face an obstacle that you can’t pass, you have to change your approach and do something differently
The hard work leading up to this opportunity cannot be undermined however as it took the band a tough eight years to reach this point. Mindset Evolution released three albums independently growing with each recording. “One of which we’re not very proud of, the second was very experimental and didn’t really quite capture our voice but it captured our essence well, and then we released a third album which is where Norma Genes and Relevant came from, and that was kind of around the time it became more difficult; we lost our drummer and we didn’t have a whole lot of prospects on the horizon.”
The album they’re promoting right now is called Brave, Bold and Broken. Produced by the mighty Johnny K (he’s worked with Disturbed, Enuff Z’Nuff, 3 Doors Down, Drowning Pool, Staind and many others), it heralds a familiar hard rock sound that has been showcased by such high-profile acts like Shinedown, Disturbed and Staind amongst many others. Songs such as We Are Stars and Home share their rock credentials whilst other audio delights in the shape of Like to Fall and Sing regale the listener with a more restrained and hook-laden display. It is a strong album containing 11 songs in total which all take the listener on a satisfactory journey.
How did these up and coming rockers get such an esteemed Producer to work with them on this album? “Johnny K was number one. He was right at the top of our list. We take a lot of pride that we’re from the mid-west, the mighty, mighty mid-west so to speak and so to us it was kind of a big deal to keep it family, keep it regional you know for this first record and really, you know, stick to our roots as much as we possibly could and it didn’t hurt or anything that he’s brilliant.” He still seems excited even now about how things have turned around for the band, and eagerly continues to share the recollections. “So we had asked, and we actually ended up getting our first pick. He came out and watched us perform at UPROAR in Chicago, Illinois, and we just clicked you know when we started talking. We decided you know, yeah, I think this is gonna be good, and he felt like it was gonna be good so we locked it in and once we came off tour we went up and started recording with him.”
“Everybody from The Beatles to the Eagles, to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Nine Inch Nails, to Tool, to Eminem, to Jay-Z, to Garth Brooks. I mean, it’s kind of all over the map; I’ve always kind of pulled from every genre. Like, I guess, who ever really in my opinion was doing it the best, I think that’s where all of my influences came from.” That’s how the lead vocalist of Mindset Evolution expresses those who have inspired him. These examples are the reason that Ulrich has a voice and fronts such a rising band.
Mindset Evolution are a band that want to keep pushing themselves when you read between the lines and realise how the lead vocalist expresses their past and what has been achieved thus far. Part of the hard-working process to get the band where they are today has been the live shows. One specific highlight that Ulrich recalls was a Saturday night when they played in front of about 3,500 fans and onlookers in Indiana. Feeding off the reaction and witnessing the response from the crowd still resonates. He then wades through many more memories of gigs gone by including their stint as support act to P.O.D. and their experiences with Fight or Flight, one of which includes the revelation that guitarist Dan Donegan of that band received the first signed copy of the Brave, Bold and Broken album.
“Everybody says that everything happens for a reason, that’s like a common saying. When I was a child we did a lot of bouncing around. It was just my Mother and I and my Brothers and Sisters, and we never really stayed anywhere more than you know, three months to a year. So there’s very few places in my life that I’ve lived anywhere for any extended amount of time and I was very much homeless and lived out of the back of a car and lived with friends of my Mother.” Ulrich provides this insight with the most sincere of tones to his voice as he explains why he feels at home when the band is on the road. “So it was kind of like, I look back now and in retrospect it seems although I hated that time of my life and it was very difficult to understand as a child, as an adult now, and out doing this for a living and pursuing this dream, I don’t think I would have the tool set to be able to handle it the way that I do, had I not had that type of childhood so it’s really, I think that this was absolutely what I was supposed to do.”
Fate may have had a part to play much further back than the festival appearance when Mindset Evolution competed in the battle of the bands competition. When you hear a story being told with such feeling and absolute conviction as this, it provokes a certain personal reflection and a look at specific points in time which may have contained some major change in direction. Or how the path you take in your life might have been prepared for somewhere else within your past? Maybe Fate has nothing to do with Ulrich and his band reaching the stage at which they find themselves, and it’s merely a series of coincidences and plain old events unfolding which join the dots in a matter-of-fact succession?
“I mean, I’ve always believed that you know, if you’re a good person and you treat opportunity with respect that you’ll grow opportunity in that fashion. They say an attitude of gratitude right, so I think, that’s kind of it. I would be extremely insulted if anybody was ever able to assume that I take this for granted, or that I think that I deserve this; or that it’s supposed to be this way.”
Ulrich then clarifies what point he’s making. “I mean this is very much the sweat and blood of our family and our friends and our fan-base. We wouldn’t have been able to get to the point where we had the exposure to get signed had our fans not put their noses to the grindstone and promoted the hell out of this battle so that we could be seen by the judges, so that the judges could take notice, so they could pick us. You know, I always look back and I remember to reverse-engineer where I’m at right now, just go back – how did this all come together? I remember clearly. It’s always been our fan-base; it’s always been our fans and family.”
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