Start Communications

2018 Lineup

Wednesday July 11th, 2018

Line up details to be announced

Thursday July 12th, 2018

Line up details to be announced

Virgin Radio Presents: Friday July 13th, 2018

  • Boyz II Men
    Boyz II Men
  • Shaggy
  • Naughty By Nature
    Naughty By Nature
  • Coolio
  • Montell Jordan
    Montell Jordan
  • Sisqo
Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men remains one of the most truly iconic R&B groups in music history. The group redefined popular R&B and continues to create timeless hits that appeal to fans across all generations, the band has penned and performed some of the most celebrated classics of the past two decades. The group’s 4 Grammy Awards are just the tip of the iceberg: throughout their 25-year career, Boyz II Men have also won a whopping 9 American Music Awards, 9 Soul Train Awards, 3 Billboard Awards, and a 2011 MOBO Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well and a Casino Entertainment Award for their acclaimed residency at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which has been ongoing since 2013.

The trio holds the distinction of being the best-selling R&B group of all time, with an astounding 60 million albums sold. And the reason is abundantly clear: for the past two decades Boyz II Men have given fans a rich catalogue of hits filled with smooth harmonies and enduring themes. And for Boyz II Men the hits just keep on coming—the group continues to craft new albums and bring their legendary act to stages across the world.

Boyz II Men’s past hits include: “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “One Sweet Day,” “Motownphilly” and many others. And their recent albums have earned them major critical acclaim as well. Their Decca label debut, Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (Decca/Universal), on November 13, 2007 earned them two Grammy Nominations.

In 2011, Boyz II Men marked their 20th anniversary by releasing a landmark album, fittingly titled Twenty. The album contains the group’s first original material in nearly a decade as well as a dozen remasetered classic, career-defining hits. Twenty debuted at #20 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, #4 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #10 on the Billboard Digital Album Chart, and placed #1 on the iTunes R&B Soul Album chart. Twenty’s first single, “More Than You’ll Ever Know” cracked into the top 15 on Urban AC charts.

Boyz II Men have won fans the world over with their soulful multi-octave sound and incredible vocals. Given the monumental success of their albums and the timeless quality of their vocals, it’s easy to see why Boyz II Men remains the most popular R&B group of all time. Ask any successful pop or R&B superstar which artists have inspired them- chances are Boyz II Men will be at the top. From Justin Timberlake and Usher to Justin Bieber and Beyonce, the most successful stars in the industry look to Boyz II Men as their idols.

Beyond making music, giving back is also important to Boyz II Men- the group has its own charity called Boyz II Men House which lends support to individuals and organizations that focus on improving quality of life and helping to unlock human potential, while contributing to the health and vitality of those less fortunate.

Although Boyz II Men continues to tour across the country and around the globe, performing a mix of their latest tracks and treasured classics, the group currently has a residency at famed Las Vegas venue The Mirage through the end of 2018. Boyz II Men have made R&B accessible to the masses and have helped the genre come into its own—and fans throughout the world flock.

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With a commanding presence, a distinctive voice that is recognizable throughout the world and titles such as artist, businessman, philanthropist and Grammy Award winner, Shaggy is and has been a forced to be reckoned with.  A son of the brambly streets of Kingston, Jamaica, his discipline-which he credits to his military background-has been the foundation of his success.

In 1993, Shaggy exploded on the music scene with his debut album Pure Pleasure.  His remix of the Ska classic Oh Carolina from that album was an instant hit in England and other countries.  Shaggy followed up with his sophomore album Boombastic in 1995.  Boombastic went certified platinum, won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Reggae Album and topped an impressive chart list that included the Top 40 Rhythmic charts, Hot 100, Billboard 200, among others.

Wanting to take a more hands on approach with his career, Shaggy, along with his former manager Robert Livingston and legendary producer Sting International formed Big Yard Music Group in 1996.  With its state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff, Big Yard set out to “create a central space filled with opportunities” and has been instrumental in the careers of artists such as Brian & Tony Gold, Kiprich, Rayvon, Rik Rok and Voicemail.  Today, the label is responsible for the careers of Richie Loop, Christopher Martin and D-Major.

With the formation of Big Yard Music Group and the success of Boombastic, Shaggy forged ahead and recorded his third installment Midnight Lover in 1997.  Fast forward to 2000, Shaggy released his fourth album Hotshot on MCA Records label.  Hotshot went Diamond worldwide and Platinum 6 times in the United States.  Notable singles from that album included It Wasn’t Me and AngelIt Wasn’t Me received a Grammy nomination.  Single Luv Me, Luv Me featuring Janet Jackson was released on the Soundtrack for the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”  The album also won best selling album at the 2002 Juno Awards.

In 2002 and 2005 Shaggy released Lucky Day and Clothes Drop respectively. Lucky Day went certified Gold while single Strength Of A Woman made the Top 40 mainstream charts.  Clothes Drop received a Grammy Nomination for Best Reggae Album.  In between recording Lucky Day and Clothes Drop, Shaggy co-starred in the Action thriller “Blast” alongside Eddie Griffin and Vivica Fox in 2004.  Thereafter, Shaggy busied himself in the studio recording his next album entitled Intoxication.

Intoxication was released in 2007 and debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums chart, was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 51st Grammy Awards in 2008 and was the number 1 download on UK iTunes Reggae chart.  The first single, Church Heathen, from the album received rave reviews.  The song peaked at number 1 on various music charts and won the Best Music Video at the International Reggae and World Music Awards in 2008.  The second single Bonafide Girl also made its way to number 1 on music charts.  That same year, Shaggy recorded and released single Feel The Rush which was used as the original anthem for the UEFA Euro Cup.  The single was featured on various charts throughout Europe and India.

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Naughty By Nature

Naughty By Nature

The Grammy Award winning, Platinum-album selling, New Jersey super-group, Naughty By Nature, has a twenty-year track record of creating the hits and party anthems that have become the soundtrack to our lives. Their music has smashed through mainstream barriers all while remaining true to the sound, message and grit of the hood. And now, these three kings of the Hip-Hop anthem have formally claimed their titles with the 20th Anniversary album, Anthem Inc.

Life is good. Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee kep doing what they do best: creating undeniably classic, handraising, life-affirming, Hip-Hop music. “We wouldn’t have reunited if we didn’t think we could give people that authentic Naughty feeling,” says the group’s master lyricist Treach. “This new album is definitely gonna take you back, but just like we always did, we’ve invented a new sound, a bunch of new flows and after being without an album for so long, we’ve gotta lotta things to say.”

Few groups in music can boast a twenty-year career that has been both consistent and history making. Naughty By Nature, initially called New Style, began performing at talent shows and were discovered by fellow New Jersey native and then-emerging Hip-Hop artist, Queen Latifah. Eventually signing the group to her management company Flavor Unit Management, Latifah helped them land a deal with Tommy Boy Records.

Naughty By Nature’s self-titled debut album was released in 1991 and quickly assaulted the music charts with the instant classic #1 hit “O.P.P.” The group quickly became crossover stars, while maintaining their ghetto sensibility. To date, their success and longevity as a Hip-Hop group has been unparalleled. The trio went on to produce their follow-up albums that have become part of America’s Hip- Hop legacy: 19 Naughty III (1993), Poverty’s Paradise (1995) and Nature’s Fury (1999).

Inevitably, a break-up in 1999 would lead to the group members each following different, yet equally successful, personal endeavors. As a producer, Kay Gee went onto produce award winning music with artists including: Luther Vandross, Notorious B.I.G, Jaheim, Next and Zhane. As an actor, Treach found success in film and television offering critically acclaimed performances in HBO’s original series The Sopranos and OZ, along with Jason’s Lyric, Soul Food, the Hip-Hop cult-classic Juice and several other films.

As the marketing genius behind the group, Vin Rock developed Naughty Gear, one of the first Hip-Hop inspired clothing lines. When he got a hold of the worldwide web, he mastered it with, further developing and expanding the reach of the Naughty brand. Throughout this time, Treach and Vin Rock continued to tour and perform around the world. In 2002, the duo struck a deal with TVT Records and produced their last album, IIcons.

Fast forward to 2008… After years of steady touring and itching to get back in the studio, both Treach and Vin agreed, that in order for the next album to have that authentic sound and feel of Naughty By Nature, they must reunite with DJ Kay Gee. At this same time, VH1 bestowed their coveted “Hip-Hop Honor” to the group as innovators of our culture. Joining the ranks of Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Eazy E., the group received their “HipHop Honors” in October of 2008.

The group continues to tour globally, ripping stages from Australia to Canada and New Jersey to South Africa. Naughty By Nature is on their A-game and have no plans to stop anytime soon.

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With over 17 million records sold worldwide, Grammy award-winning and multi-platinum recording artist Coolio is an artist known around the world as a musical and cooking master of extraordinary reinvention.

Growing up during the time of tremendous change in Compton, Calif., Coolio fed on struggle and used it as a launching pad of continual reinvention that led to selling over 17 million records globally and a long list of concerts to adoring fans in Africa, Israel, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, the United States and throughout Europe. He gave back to the community by serving as the spokesman for the Asthma and Allergies Foundation.

Coolio initially took over the world rap scene through the “Gangsta’s Paradise” release, which won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Rap Performance, Solo. “Gangsta’s Paradise” would also be featured on the “Dangerous Minds” soundtrack and movie. “Gangsta’s Paradise,” also featuring LV on vocals, was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Song of the Year and it sold over six million copies and was Billboard Magazine’s number one single in 1995.

The world recognition led to his music being featured Coolio for several major motion pictures including: Space Jam, Clueless, The Big Payback, Panther, New Jersey Drive, The Jerk Boys, Eddie, Half Baked and many more. He also composed the theme song for the popular kids TV series KENAN on Nickelodeon.

The awards for his hard-hitting style are many. Coolio has won an American Music Award, three MTV awards, two Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and a World Music award. He has received six Grammy award nominations (1994, 1995 and 1996), two Billboard Music awards (1994 and 1996), two ASCAP awards (1996, 1997), three MTV video awards (1996 and 1997), four American Online Awards (1996) and was the Playboy Music Poll winner in 1997.

Coolio successfully made the transition from performer to actor during the 90s. He co-stared in the motion picture Retirement with Bill Cobb, Peter Falk, Charlie Murphy and Rip Torn. The film featured music from Coolio’s “Return of the Gangsta” album. Coolio has also starred in several HBO films and series as well as making cameos in Bateman Dare Devil.

His television accomplishments have included the reality TV show on the Oxygen network, “Coolio’s Rules,” and the ghetto funk cooking web series, “Cooking with Coolio,” which logged over four million hits on the web. Television appearances included programs like Celebrity Cook Off and Celebrity Chopped.

His musical collaborations continued with “From the Bottom to the Top.” Coolio changed his style and opened up to working with many European and International disc jockeys such as Benny Benassi, Ives la rock, and Paul Oakenfold just to name a few. He also got the aide of his son A.I., who was a featured artist on the album. The first single is collaboration with Coolio and the Oscar-winning “Ennio Morricone,” one of the most famous soundtrack composers of the last 50 years.

Coolio’s Album “El Cool Magnigico” was released in Europe on Jan 15, 2003. Featured artists on that album included hip-hop performer Miss Toi, country legend Kenny Rogers, Krazye Bone from Bone thugs n Harmony, B-real of Cypress Hill and Daz Dillinger. Associated Press stated that, “Coolio returns to Hip-Hop with El Cool Magnifico, and every track on the disc is a winner.” The New York Post praised the album and wrote, “El Cool Magnifico is excellent from top to bottom”. The album sold over 1.8 million copies worldwide.

No stranger to the world of cartoons, Coolio recorded the single and music video “Dexter” (what’s his name) for “Dexter’s Laboratory: Home Boy Genius – The Hip-Hop Experiment.” This was a creative and fun album featuring big name hip-hop artists such as De La Soul and Will I Am. “The Hip-Hop Experiment” album features original songs inspired by Dexter’s Laboratory, the top rated, Emmy nominated Cartoon Network series.

An ingenious chameleon, Coolio launched his book, “Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price,” in 2009, which would become a New York Times bestseller. This move expanded his audience base from the stage to kitchens across the globe. Branding himself as the “ghetto gourmet,” Coolio used his creativity and the inspiration of his mother to refine old-school recipes into accessible, fresh options.

Coolio’s interest in cooking started as a youngster. After a failed grilled cheese, his mother chose to make him pay her back for the charred mess by helping out in the kitchen. Rather than hate every minute of cleaning and scrubbing, Coolio fell in love with cooking.

Later in life, when his mother passed, the love of cooking turned into an obsession with rediscovering and reinventing all her old recipes. He interviewed aunts, friends and relatives until he found her lost secrets. Then, Coolio took the lessons of his elders and morphed the recipes into healthier options that remained affordable.

The secret ingredient of Coolio’s recipes is his unconventional approach to culinary instruction. His style is brash and in your face for which he doesn’t apologize. “People learn better when they’re entertained. Cooking isn’t just for the starched-stiff elite. Everyone should know how to cook something,” said the ghetto gourmet.

Currently performing and touring worldwide on the “I Love the 90’s Tour”, Coolio is also working on a new cookbook with his best friend and bandmate, smooth jazz saxophonist Jarez. The recipes will continue on the theme of insane deliciousness that anyone can recreate. The recipes are designed to be accessible with easy to assemble ingredients that everyone will recognize. From the tang of balsamic vinegar to the freshness of chopped peppers, the new cookbook is something that everyone needs in their kitchen.

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Montell Jordan

Montell Jordan

The Billboard Top Ten songs chart for 1995 contains the following names: Coolio, TLC, Seal, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and a man named Montell Jordan. This Is How We Do It was a breakout new jack-swing song that topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks and R&B charts for eight. Jordan, tall and handsome with a silky-smooth voice, established himself as a powerful presence in music, brimming with talent, savvy, and charm. Over his nearly twenty year career in music, Jordan has released seven studio albums, fourteen singles, and is a Grammy nominated artist selling more than 10 million records world wide.

From South Central Los Angeles to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Montell was on course to attend law school when a professor said one of his biggest regrets was missing the chance to pursue music. In a flash, Montell recognized that if he was ever going to take a shot at music he needed to do it then. He put together a demo, which eventually landed in the hands of Def Jam Records and Russell Simmons. This Is How We Do It, which used a sample of Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story,’ took off and his first of many number one singles was born.

Following years of awards, achievements and accolades in television, music and film that never seemed to satisfy, Montell learned that without fame he’s a husband, a dad, and a friend. He stepped away from the entertainment business for many years in search of significance over success. “I had to learn who Montell was outside of music to determine that I make music and music doesn’t make me.” In that time away, Montell was able to reevaluate his priorities and ultimately find his passion. This was found as he connected with his childhood faith.

Montell speaks, teaches, mentors, ministers to married couples and continues songwriting and performing today. Following a five year R&B musical hiatus, Jordan now does music again as he has determined both what he is gifted to do and what he is purposed to do and allowed those worlds to meet. Montell now serves more than 13,000 people from 130+ nations around the world each weekend as an Executive Pastor at Victory World Church in Norcross, GA. He continues to redefine music, mentor men and mend marriages through Victory, an ideal place that builds families, transforms communities, reconciles cultures and impacts nations.

In his musical past, Montell had already shown an ability to stretch boundaries of genre and style and uses this same ability to influence, impact and inspire today. Jordan’s musical achievements are still recognized worldwide and he and his wife of 20+ years, Kristin Jordan are releasing a marriage book in 2017 titled, “This Is How We Do It; Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace.” During summer 2016, Jordan’s released his self-published autobiography, “Becoming Unfamous; The Journey From How We Do It To How He Do It.” It is available now at

Montell’s Faith is the reason he desires to share the good news of his journey with all who are willing to listen, be encouraged, and possibly transformed as he was.

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In the music business, perhaps the most dreamed about position that fans and musicians alike fantasize over is being the lead singer in a group. Especially when you consider the massive accomplishments of icons like Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake, and the late, great King of Pop Michael Jackson, all former lead singers of legendary groups who went on to have stellar solo careers. Added to this super exclusive club of musical geniuses is Sisqo`, long time front man of the multi-platinum group Dru Hill and a Grammy nominated solo artist whose talent is so extraordinary, he towers as the perfect example of a true quadruple threat, excelling as a first class singer, dancer, songwriter, and actor. Born Mark Althavean Andrews in a city synonymous with drugs and extreme violence Baltimore, Maryland, served as the rearing site for an artist who will undoubtedly go down in music history as one of the most talented and flamboyant all around entertainers, past or present, to have ever picked up a microphone. Strong words maybe, but then again one need only look, listen or simply observe the six pack having dancing machine in action to know that a talent this amazing comes only so often. At a time when charismatic singers who can really sang and dance is a rarity, Sisqo` to the contrary shines as the consummate showman fearless in his pursuit to push the limits of creativity.

While still only in his early thirties, Sisqo` is nearly a 20-year music veteran who thus far has had a career that many of the brightest and most successful singers of today can only dream of. As the voice behind a vast list of classics such as “Tell Me”, “Incomplete”, “In My Bed”, “5 Steps”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “We’re Not Making Love No More”, and the earth shattering smash single “The Thong Song”, for which he caused an international mania of epic proportions, are just some of the hit records that have secured Sisqo’s place in music history. Responsible for a jaw dropping thirty million records sold worldwide explains why several of the hottest young singers in the industry regularly call on Sisqo` for performance tips and career advice. A true

talent of the highest kind, Sisqo is as passionate about acting as he is about singing, most evident in his long list of television and film roles to include “Sisqo’s Shakedown” (MTV); “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (ABC); “I Love the New Millennium” (VH-1); “Gone Country” (CMT); “Keith Sweat’s Platinum House” (Centric); “Celebrity Big Brother” (UK); and films “Get Over It”, “Pieces of April”, “Surf School”, and the immensely popular “Show Dogs” starring Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. Admired by several fellow superstar artists, Sisqo` has written for and recorded with industry heavyweights Mya (It’s all About Me), DMX (What These Bitches Want), and Lil’ Kim (How Many Licks). Arguably the most popular musicians on the planet at the beginning of the new millennium, Sisqo` won an astonishing six Billboard awards in 2000–Male Artist of the Year, Male Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Male Artist of the Year, and R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Artist of the Year, as well as MTV’s Best Hip-Hop Video for “The Thong Song”.

With the release of “Back to the Future”, Dru Hill’s monstrous lead single off the group’s fourth studio album “Indrupendence Day”, totally destroying clubs, radio, and the internet along with his third solo album entitled “Last Dragon” due out soon, the czar of flashy hairstyles who was once flown to London, England by his idol Michael Jackson to be praised in person by “The King”, is now poised to become the new King of Pop.

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FM96 Presents: Saturday July 14th, 2018

  • Rise Against
    Rise Against
  • Three Days Grace
    Three Days Grace
  • Theory
  • Pop Evil
    Pop Evil
  • Texas King
    Texas King
Rise Against

Rise Against


The darkest moments in history — those when fear and hate trump all else — are the times that define us. As politicians use bigoted rhetoric to gain power at home and abroad, and fringe groups creep from the shadows, it’s tempting to succumb to despair and defeatism. But Rise Against is challenging fans to create a bold new identity together: one that is stronger than these setbacks, and bigger than any election. WOLVES, their 8th studio release, is about recognizing the power within all of us; it’s a primal call for the prey to become the hunters.

“If you are in the wilderness and you hear wolves howling, what you’re hearing might be an animal lost or mourning,” says Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath. “But it doesn’t make you any less afraid. You know they’re there. And you know what this powerful pack of animals is capable of.”

For 18 years, Rise Against has kept its moral compass steady, using their international punk platform to speak out for social justice. The band cut its teeth during the George W. Bush administration and has released records across three presidencies, but today’s political climate forced the band to step back and rethink how they define themselves.

The record was originally titled “Mourning in America,” but after the U.S. presidential election that rang hollow. It felt somber and hopeless. Members of the band felt those emotions, too, but decided they needed to create an album that focused more on our potential than our failings. They knew it needed teeth and claws. The result is WOLVES, a soundtrack for the hunt.

“In many ways, a Rise Against show is a safe space for our fans,” McIlrath says. “But I realized that I don’t only want to create safe spaces, I want to create dangerous spaces where misogyny can’t exist, where xenophobia can’t exist. I want to create spaces where those sentiments don’t have any air, and they suffocate: where those ideas die. WOLVES isn’t about creating a safe space, it’s about creating a space that’s dangerous for injustice.”

The influence of the U.S. presidential election can clearly be heard in songs like “Walls” (“the monsters lost in history are now making their return”) and “Welcome to the Breakdown” (“ignoring the facts, intoxicated by the throne”). WOLVES is of course shaped by the new presidency, but it’s not limited to it. There is a spirit of resistance and optimism here that transcends our current crisis, and will outlast any politician.

Like all Rise Against records, the band tackles political struggles alongside personal ones, creating songs as complex as their fans. On tracks like “House on Fire” and “Politics of Love,” one can hear echoes of the iconic punk/folk songwriter Billy Bragg in McIlrath’s words; the personal is political, the political is personal, and it’s all rooted in a revolutionary, uncompromising love.

This evolution in Rise Against’s identity came against the backdrop of other changes for the band. For 11 years, they had worked closely with producer Bill Stevenson, of the Descendents and Black Flag fame. With Descendents on tour and Stevenson tied up, Rise Against stepped out of their comfort zone and began working with Nick Raskulinecz, the Grammy-winning producer who has partnered with Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, and Deftones.

Recording with Raskulinecz meant moving to Nashville, Tennessee — far from the band’s familiar worlds of Chicago and Los Angeles, and a firmly red state where Rise Against has rarely played. Political yard signs and conversations around town were constant reminders to the band that they were in new territory. And even though Nashville is a music town, it’s country — not punk or hardcore. During the band’s five months in the area, these outsider feelings shaped the identity of WOLVES.

Living in the South transformed the record in some unexpected ways. “As people on the news are arguing about immigration and class warfare, we are driving down the highway and seeing Civil War battlefields and monuments,” McIlrath says. “When you tour these battlefields, you hear about what kind of muskets they used. But shouldn’t we be talking about what got us to that point as a country?”

As further evidence of the geographic influence on the record, it’s comprised not just of anthems of resistance, but also reconciliation. Living in Nashville drove home that we can’t just focus on our differences, McIlrath says. If we can stop and talk to each other, face to face, we might realize our common ground. We are all wolves in the same pack, circling at the gates.

“They say we’re divided, we are conquered,” McIlrath sings. “But our enemies have never been each other.”

– Will Potter []


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Three Days Grace

Three Days Grace

Outsiders always leave enduring impressions. By veering away from the pack, these mavericks confidently lead the charge for others to follow. Since 2003, Three Days Grace has staked a spot amongst the hard rock vanguard, quietly breaking records, toppling charts, moving millions of units worldwide, and making history by holding the all-time record for “most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio ever” with 13. The Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—continue to blaze that trail on their sixth full-length album, the aptly titled Outsider [RCA Records].

“To me, Outsider represents the journey to find your place,” says Brad. “The world feels crazy at times. We try to get away from that every once in a while. We do our own thing, and we’re comfortable doing it. We have always looked forward—and not backwards. That’s an ongoing theme for us here.”

“It’s what we’ve done in many ways by being on the outside,” agrees Neil. “This is all about taking a step back from life’s madness without destroying yourself, cutting everyone off, or going crazy. You get a break and find the space to create.”

That’s exactly what the musicians did in the fall of 2016. Instead of congregating in a downtown Toronto rehearsal space, they initially wrote in a converted garage behind Brad’s house located two hours from the city. Eventually, they retreated to Neil’s 90-acre farm to further hone ideas. Following daytime snowmobile trips, the guys often sat around bonfires with acoustic guitars, tapping into the wild spirit surrounding them.

“We grew up hanging out in the woods and building fires,” smiles Brad. “Home is where the heart is. This is where we’re most comfortable. We were able to focus on our craft. We spent more time writing this than any other project. It has a sense of seclusion to it. It’s like we naturally migrated back.”

As the songs took shape, the band packed up and headed to the remote Ontario’s Jukasa Studios. In order to capture that energy, they called upon longtime friends and collaborators. Producers Gavin Brown and Howard Benson returned to the fold, with Mike Plotnikoff engineering and Chris Lord-Alge on mixing duty.

“We put our ultimate dream team together,” smiles Barry. “These guys have all been a part of the family for a long time. It was amazing to have everybody onboard.”

“That production team hasn’t happened since One-X,” adds Neil. “We were lucky to get this group together. It made sense because we were in a similar headspace.”

As much as it upholds tradition, Outsider represents progression for Three Days Grace. Marking his second offering as part of the band, Matt showed “a new level of confidence and brought a ton of ideas,” according to his brother Brad. Meanwhile, Neil expanded the signature electronic palette, integrating analog synths and standout programming with the help of Rhys Fulber [Fear Factory, Frontline Assembly]. He casually nodded to electronic influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Bring Me The Horizon, Lana Del Rey, and a surprising cult classic…

“We really love the movie Lost Boys and its score,” smiles Barry. “The whole thing has this dark, spacey, and eerie vibe. Those dudes were vampires and definitely outsiders!”

“I’ve always loved darker industrial music,” Neil elaborates. “I devoted a lot of time to those sounds and finding ways to integrate them. It was using these elements to create dynamic in the songs and not just overlaying them. You’ll hear moments where the keyboards or wide synth sounds are featured. Then, the guitar hits you in the chest. It made everything more interesting.”

First single “The Mountain” evinces that evolution. Those cinematic sonic flourishes augment arena-ready riffing before summiting towards a seismic and shuddering refrain, “I’m still surviving, keep climbing, keep climbing the mountain.”

“You wake up every day in a monotonous situation and resent what’s ahead,” Neil reveals. “You’re intimidated. However, you don’t have a choice but to put your boots on and face it, because there is no other option. It’s emotionally charged. A lot of this music is about yearning to escape, yet not knowing what’s on the other side. You can’t take your life, so you decide to make the jump into the unknown.”

“It comes down to surviving every day and just not giving up,” Matt concurs. “You can’t allow the bad thoughts to take over. We all go through trials and tribulations. The key is to keep going.”

“I Am An Outsider” serves as a clarion call for the four-piece with its heavy and hypnotic chant. “It’s the main theme,” explains Brad. “You break away from the inner circle and find your own path.

There are ups and downs, but you end up where you’re meant to be.” Then, there’s “Infra-Red,” an airy production gives way to a sharp seesaw of guitars and luminous vocals. “There are some people you just connect with,” says Matt. “You get along with them instantly, because you understand each other. ‘Infra-Red’ is finding that person who gets you.”

Elsewhere, the venomous “Me Against You” hinges on a hypnotic groove and scalding chorus, while the ethereal “Love Me or Leave Me” transmits loneliness encased in swaths of synths.

Given this undeniable unpredictability, Outsider feels right at home alongside a catalog of fan favorites from Three Days Grace. In 2015, Human marked the group’s second straight bow at #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart as well as their fourth consecutive debut in Top 20 of the Top 200. It spawned two #1 singles “Painkiller” and “I Am Machine,” signaling their 13th overall and 5th consecutive number ones on the Active Rock Radio chart. Moreover, the four-piece consistently averaged a staggering 3.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify—remaining “one of the most listened to rock bands in the world.” In 2012, Transit of Venus soared to the Top 5 of the Top 200 and garnered a nod for “Best Rock Album of the Year” at the Juno Awards. The seminal One-X [2006] notched an RIAA triple-platinum certification as Three Days Grace [2003] was minted platinum and Life Starts Now went gold. To date, their veritable arsenal of number one includes “Chalk Outline,” “The High Road,” “Misery Loves My Company,” “World So Cold,” “Good Life,” “Break,” “Never Too Late,” “Animal I Have Become,” “Pain,” “Just Like You,” and “Home.”

In the end, Outsider speaks directly to that army of fans around the globe.

“I’d love for them to relate to it,” Brad leaves off. “I want people to feel like they can put it on and know they’re not alone. We’re on this journey as outsiders together.”

“Hopefully, this music can help people,” concludes Matt. “It bonds us all, and there’s no better way to connect.”

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Theory of a Deadman

“Complacency is such a disease when you’re in a band,” says Tyler Connolly, singer and guitarist for Theory. “People are so afraid to progress, but you have to change—you can’t just write the same song over and over. So when I saw where this record was going, I said to the other guys, ‘We’re in a car and it’s going off a cliff. Do you want to jump out or ride it to the bottom?’ “

With their sixth studio album, Wake Up Call, Theory hit the reset button, diving into a new sound, a new approach, even a new location. The more melodic, intimate style that defines the project is a bold move for one of the leading rock bands in the world. Since forming in British Columbia in 2001, Theory of a Deadman—Connolly, guitarist Dave Brenner, bassist Dean Back, and drummer Joey Dandeneau—have placed nine songs in the Top 10 on the rock charts, including the Number One hits “Bad Girlfriend,” “Lowlife,” “So Happy,” and “Angel.”

Following the success of 2014’s Savages album (which reached the Top Ten on the Hot 100 albums chart, and topped both the Alternative and Hard Rock charts), Connolly began writing again, but he was frustrated by what he was hearing. “The songs all felt like they were in the same place as the last record,” he says, “and I wasn’t happy, I just didn’t like what we were doing.”

He bought a piano for himself, an instrument he had never played, and he soon discovered that it was unlocking something new. “I started writing songs that felt musically different,” he says. “It opened my mind to different ideas, and I think that was the catapult for where this album went.”

But maybe this story starts much further back. Connolly’s father was a piano player, and he grew up surrounded by the sound of the keyboard. “As soon as I started noodling, thirty years of hearing my dad play opened up this whole thing that didn’t exist before,” he says. “There were sounds I heard my whole life but ignored, ingrained inside me.

“It was crazy how fast stuff came out of me,” he continues. “Every time I sat down at the piano, I would write a song. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt such freedom—I could write anything, I felt no fear about upsetting people or pressure to write any specific kind of song.”

Connolly noticed a shift not only in the melodies he was coming up with, but in the words as well. “When I finished the lyrics to ‘RX’ [the first single from Wake Up Call], I felt like I had something to say. I really wanted to write great lyrics, not just throw stuff on there or give the fans something to crank up in the car.”

The songs also tapped into a new sense of maturity, even contentment. “On our fourth record [2011’s The Truth Is…], I had just gone through a divorce and I was so angry, stuff came out that was really hateful,” he says. “This time, there’s much less aggro stuff—nothing comes from a place of spite or anger.”

Connolly and drummer Dandeneau worked up demos for the new songs via email, initially trying to make them “as naked as possible.” Only when they went into the studio did they think more consciously about how to present the new material; as Connolly says “to put the clothes on—like, ‘Does this one need jeans or a suit?’ “

The band’s next decisive move was to commit to a new producer for Wake Up Call. In fact, though, Martin Terefe—who has worked with a wide range of artists including Jason Mraz, Mary J. Blige, and Train—expressed interest in collaborating with them first. “Our label sent Martin some of the songs blind,” explains Connolly, “and he heard them and said, ‘Is this a pop artist?’ They told him no, it was the opposite, it was a rock band, and he said he wanted to do it.”

Theory headed to Terefe’s Kensaltown Studios in London for a grand experiment. “It was like a first date,” says Connolly. “He was on ground he was not comfortable with, and everything seemed so scary to us—everything he suggested was the opposite of what we wanted. We definitely had some sleepless nights, but we just had to jump in the water and go for it.”

Songs went into directions that surprised the band members. Dandeneau was especially taken with the sparse demo of a song called “Time Machine,” but in the studio it assumed a more breezy and rhythmic feel.

Listening back to the album on the final night before they headed home, the band got to the track “Loner” and suddenly felt dissatisfied. “It was just terrible!,” says Connolly. “We were all like, ‘What happened?’ So it’s the last night, we’re eating dinner, and we said, ‘Let’s just bang it out.’ We deleted it and started over, slowed it down and changed the key, and we finished that night. It was such a pat on the back to the band that after seven weeks, we knew we could track a whole song in a few hours.”

Connolly points to the song “Echoes” as a breakthrough for both his writing and his vocal performance. “It’s a very U2-ish song,” he says, “kind of that one-take, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ feel, and I’ve never really done that before. ‘Echoes’ really hits home with me—as you get older, you have more past and less future, more memories. It’s so hard to let go of all those past things, the things that I think about when I’m going to sleep.

“Martin made me sing in this big room with everyone else watching,” he continues. “It was so emotional, you can hear my voice cracking—I’d never had that hard a time getting through a song. But I felt such attachment to these songs, you can really hear it in my voice.”

In the year leading up to Wake Up Call, Theory released a series of unlikely covers—“Hallelujah” (which came out the week of Leonard Cohen’s death last November, though it had been recorded months earlier), Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” “Cold Water” by Major Lazer. “Those were just me sitting at home bored, trying to get outside the box,” says Connolly. “They’re all so out of my element and so difficult to sing.”

One of these covers, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” makes for an unexpected closing track on the album. “We had a bunch of great songs and didn’t need to throw in a cover,” says the singer, “but we thought this one could turn into something great.”

Now comes the challenge of integrating this new material alongside the band’s beloved catalogue on stage. “There’s a real dichotomy of Theory now, two very different sides,” says Connolly. “Not that we want to get away from our old songs, but the new songs are so diverse, such a juxtaposition. We’ve been playing ‘RX’ and it’s super-different, and we’ll add another couple in the fall tour. We’re really working on building a big show, and trying to make it all more visual, as well.”

Tyler Connolly knows that the ambitions of Wake Up Call—from its more atmospheric songs to its most propulsive and beat-driven—may meet with some resistance from Theory’s fan base. “It might be a little awkward, but we were always a songs band, not a sound band—we’re not AC/DC,” he says. “We’ve also been seeing that rock music was becoming smaller, more of an invite-only clique, and we really wanted to make something big and very progressive for us. And hopefully, the rest of the bands will cheer us on, and maybe be a little less afraid to try something different.”


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Pop Evil
Texas King

Texas King

Texas King formed in 2013 and before long, began earning a reputation for their high-energy rock shows. After tours of Ontario and the east coast of Canada to support a debut EP, October 2017 saw the release of their anticipated full-length album Circles. The albums lead single “Boomerang” generated attention at Canadian radio, most notably at Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge, and led to an appearance on Global TV during their Canadian release tour.

It’s often said that Texas King is best experienced when seen, not just heard. Now armed with their hook-filled debut, the band is ready to make their mark in the world of rock music – one rowdy club at a time.

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