Failure Anthem brought their tour into Hollywood on November 21st. For a band that has been on the road supporting its debut album, First World Problems for a good part of this year, and almost non-stop since the middle of September, they have seen their share of “first world problems.” Three of the five original members departed the band in the last five months. On this day alone, they had a sound check scheduled for five o’clock and at five-thirty, the stage was still not ready. One band member battling what could be strep throat. To add insult to injury, they got two, count them, two parking tickets on their van and trailer while it was parked on Sunset Boulevard. The band seems undeterred by any of these factors once they begin playing for the packed house at The Whisky a Go Go, in support of Escape The Fate, Nonpoint, Get Scared and Through Fire. They tear into their set with intensity and focus. They play with a confidence that matches the energy in their songs.
Starting with The Ghost Inside, which according to founding member, songwriter, and guitarist, Kile Odell is about “a person who did something in their life that they regret….the ghost is your conscience…and at the end of the night when you go to bed, you have to live with yourself.” Setting the tone for the song is the lead in vocal line of, “You’re never gonna kill me!” sang in the person of the ghost in a raspy harmony. The line, delivered by vocalist Chris Pierson, one of the two new members of the band, talks about joining an established band and singing lyrics on stage created by a different writer and singer. After listening to the songs and getting into each one, Pierson states “I started listening with the perspective of, if I were to create this, what would I listen for? It was something totally out of character for me, for where I would go vocally, just from an instinctual perspective. It was challenging…” Pierson is very adept at recreating the vocal sound put forth on the record. But that ability, ironically, was not a major factor in selecting Pierson to assume the vocal duties for the band. “I just wanted someone who was a great vocalist, who was in it to win it with us.” says Odell.
The band played three more songs off of First World Problems, Paralyzed, First World Problems (the title track), and I Won’t Say Goodbye. Paralyzed, which charted as high as number 23 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart, is a song that Odell says is about “that moment of realization of this is who I’m supposed to be with or this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” First World Problems, the title and opening track on the record, begins with a searing and droning guitar opening that melds into a driving riff that steers the track. Odell says it’s about “how we tend to complain and fuss about things that don’t matter at all…I don’t live somewhere were my whole family is put to death for some absurd reason.” The line, “Don’t waste your breath around me, ‘cause I don’t care about your first world problems” sums up that sentiment. The drumming provided by Troy Surratt is hard pounding and almost tribal. Surratt, the other new member of the band, who Odell knew from the local music scene and Surratt had also filled in on drums for one of Odell’s former bands. Surratt related his experience of meshing with the other musicians, “I played with Kile before. I come from a Progressive Metal world. I felt more in my element. I knew these songs, I heard these songs when we (Odell works as a recording engineer) were recording my old band.” Ryan Nimmo, bass guitar, the other original member, talks about meshing with Surratt. “Essentially drums and bass are one instrument. There’s always gonna be hesitation when you bring in new members…There’s stuff that Troy does that adds some flash.” The set finished with I Won’t Say Goodbye, a hard rock love song with a catchy hook that leaves you questioning. Is she leaving him or is she dying?
The band has about another week and a half on the road and then home for a few months. Nimmo states that “December 3rd is our last show…the rest of the year off, then we’re going back out in February. Take month of January off, collect ourselves, maybe write some songs.” Odell adds, “When we get home from this, we’re going to really focus on writing.” Odell, who wrote all the music for First World Problems before the band was even formed, replied “I’d like there to be.” when asked about there being a joint effort going forward in the writing. Pierson adds “that he is looking forward to getting into the creative process.” “Doing co-writes is something I really enjoy doing.”
One thing is for sure, this is not a band with any intentions of standing still. This is evidenced by their courage to play two new songs in an abbreviated set. It would have been all too easy to play only songs with which they and possibly the audience were comfortable. The first of the new songs was Straightjacket. The second was a song which Nimmo introduces by asking, “Does anyone out there like zombies?” entitled Living Dead, which is coincidentally the name of their own private blend of coffee. The idea was brought to the table by Surratt who worked for the coffee distributor and personally crafted the namesake blend. Nimmo commented on sales of the coffee that, “we can’t keep it in stock.”
Whether it be on the road early next year, or with a collection of new songs sometime after that, look for Failure Anthem to be moving forward and charging ahead.
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