PURE Country 93 night – Wednesday July 10th, 2019
2018 ACM and CMA Vocal Group of the Year, Old Dominion, has emerged as one of the hottest breaking bands in country music, fusing clever lyrics and an infectious sound. Proving that they are not your average country band, Old Dominion blends old-fashioned country charm, lyrical wit and rock n’ roll grit into radio-friendly, hook-heavy pop nuggets. Old Dominion’s sophomore album, Happy Endings, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200. Their latest single, “Make It Sweet,” follows the success of previous singles “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart,” “Written in the Sand” and “Hotel Key,” all of which hit No. 1 on Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase charts. To top it off, each and every single OD has released has been certified Platinum by the RIAA. In 2016, the band was notably named ACM New Group of the Year, ACCA Breakthrough Group of the Year, AIMP Songwriter Artist of the Year and Music Row Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Old Dominion consists of lead singer Matthew Ramsey, lead guitarist Brad Tursi, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen, bassist Geoff Sprung and drummer Whit Sellers.
With over 48 Million total streams to date, the James Barker Band have taken the country music scene by storm. Formed in 2013, the founding members of this award-winning band (James Barker, Taylor Abram, Bobby Martin, and Connor Stephen) continue to break records one release at a time.
The James Barker Band first burst onto the scene when they won the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase in 2015 and were signed to Universal Music Canada. Their debut EP “Game On” has so far accumulated over 35 million streams, four top-10 hits on Canadian country radio, and four gold-certified singles. James Barker Band has had the most spun song by a Canadian artist on Canadian country radio in both 2017 and 2018 year to date. “Game On” was awarded “Country Album of the Year” at the 2018 JUNO awards.
Their first #1 Canadian country radio hit “Chills” also reached #46 on the US Country radio airplay chart in 2018, the first time for a Canadian Country artist not signed to a US label to do so. The band have made history with the SOCAN Songwriter Prize nomination for their song “Chills”, which is the first ever country music nomination for this prestigious all-genre award. This record-breaking single was also awarded “Single of the Year” and “Best Selling Canadian Single” at the 2018 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards
Their recent single “Good Together” is the most spun Canadian country music song in 2018. They are honored to have “Good Together” featured on Spotify’s “Hot Country” (the world’s biggest country playlist) – capturing 15 Million streams and counting on Spotify alone.
The James Barker Band headlined a national tour in 2018 performing for over 15,000 fans across 22 Canadian cities.
Million-selling singer-songwriter David Lee Murphy had no plans to make a new record until a country superstar made them for him.
“I’ve been friends and written songs with Kenny (Chesney) for years,” Murphy reflects. “I sent him some songs for one of his albums a couple of years ago, and he called me up. He goes, ‘Man, you need to be making a record. I could produce it with Buddy Cannon, and I think people would love it.’ It’s hard to say no to Kenny Chesney when he comes up with an idea like that.”
Murphy, whose songs “Dust on the Bottle and “Party Crowd” continue to be staples at country radio, could have easily filled the album with hits he’s written for Chesney (“’Til It’s Gone,” “Living in Fast Forward,” “Live a Little”), Jason Aldean (“Big Green Tractor,” “The Only Way I Know How”), Thompson Square (GRAMMY-nominated “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”), Jake Owen (“Anywhere With You”), or Blake Shelton (“The More I Drink”). But, Chesney had other ideas.
“Kenny was really influential in the songs that we picked,” says Murphy. “Over the course of the next year or so, we got together, talked about it and picked out songs. I wanted to record songs of mine that people haven’t heard before, that are new. We wanted to make the kind of album that you would listen to if you were camping or out on a lake, fishing. Or sitting anywhere, just having a good time.”
Titled No Zip Code, the new David Lee Murphy collection has already yielded a hit single and duet with Chesney, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” The collection also contains such good-time, party-hearty anthems as “Get Go,” “Haywire” and “That’s Alright.”
The rocking “Way Gone” is a female-empowerment barn burner. “Winnebago” invites a lover to a rural retreat. The hooky, retro sounding “Voice of Reason” is about a ne’er-do-well running off the rails time and again. The infectious, up-tempo “I Won’t Be Sorry” is about living life to the fullest and going out with a bang. In “Waylon and Willie,” a broken-hearted lover nurses nostalgia for good times that have departed. “As the Crow Flies” promises a loving reunion from a wandering soul. “No Zip Code” is a fantasy about a life lived far from the world’s problems.
These songs reconnect us with an artist who was a pioneer of the edgy, rocking style that now dominates modern country music. David Lee Murphy developed his musical style as a teenager in Southern Illinois. Although both parents were schoolteachers, he was an indifferent student. Instead of studying books, he studied the sounds of such “outlaw” country musicians as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. He was also deeply influenced by southern rock bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers and Z.Z. Top.
He arrived in Nashville determined to fuse those influences into his own recording style. But when every label in town turned him down, he turned to writing songs for others and playing the honky-tonks of Middle Tennessee with his band.
“I was on the ‘ten-year songwriting program,’” he comments wryly. “Those were the starving artist years. When I first came to Nashville, I didn’t realize that they didn’t have 20-year-old country singers. You had to be 40. You had to have some scars and some wrinkles and a little bit of age. You had to have some smoke and diesel dust on you.
“So I concentrated on my songwriting. I wanted to get better as a writer, so I could record my own songs. In the meantime, I had a little band called The Blue Tick Hounds. We played all the little clubs and dives, just wherever we could get a gig. We were an edgy little four-piece band who played loud and hard. We didn’t fit right in the groove at that time, to where we were commercial enough to get a record deal.
“That was my first few years in town, playing the clubs and learning how to write songs. I gotta say, those were some great days.”
Gradually, a diverse range of artists from Reba McEntire to Dobie Gray began recording his tunes. GRAMMY-winning producer and MCA Nashville President Tony Brown heard Murphy’s recording of a song called “Just Once” and put it on the soundtrack of the 1994 rodeo movie 8 Seconds. This led to the recording of Murphy’s debut album, 1995’s Out With a Bang. It yielded the massive hits “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle” and became a Gold Record.
“I had a ball,” he recalls of his graduation to record stardom. “I had a great time. In the early ‘90s when I was starting to have hits, that was really fun to me. I mean, I loved it. That was the first time I experienced when people knew who I was. And it was a great time to be out playing music, because there was a lot of great music going on. Nashville was blowing up.”
The next phase of his career proved to be even more lucrative. Murphy became an in-demand songwriter for such post-millennial country stars as Chesney, Aldean and Shelton. He has earned more than a dozen songwriting awards. David Lee Murphy songs have been recorded by superstars Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn, Chris Young and many more.
“These last few years of just being a songwriter, I’ve had a crazy good time,” says Murphy. “I’ve been really fortunate. A lot of great artists have recorded my songs. I get up every day and get to do something I really love to do, which is write songs. I get to be with artists and the best songwriters anywhere. Plus, I get to record. I sing the demos of the songs, so I’m making little records and being in the studio.
“And at the same time, I get to go on the road in the summer and play fairs and festivals and be an artist, too. It is zero pressure, and it is really fun. It is just me and the band having a good time playing music. When you can play an hour-and-a-half show of songs that people know, it’s so much fun to see their reaction. Half of the songs can be my songs from the ‘90s and half of the songs can be these hits they know by other artists.”
With No Zip Code, David Lee Murphy is launching yet another phase of his already stellar career. Starting with its tune “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” he is beginning to add more of his own hit records to his concert set lists.
“I’m excited about putting out all these new songs, so people can hear what I’ve been doing for these last few years,” says Murphy. “I can’t wait to take this album out on the road and play it live. We’ve had a heck of a good time making this record, and I think you can hear that.”
Lately there’s been plenty to smile about. The Nashville native has had an incredible reaction to his current single, “Yours.” The power ballad was selected for Sirius XM’s The Highway Find program, which showcases new, and often times unsigned, artists to country music fans across the country. In the blink of an eye, Dickerson found himself competing with artists such as Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan on the satellite station’s weekly Hot 45 countdown, successfully reaching #3.Soon after, Dickerson released his EP, “Yours,” which debuted at #2 in the iTunes country store and #8 in all genres. The album also premiered at #1 on Billboard’s Heat Seeker chart and #14 onBillboard’s Top Country Album chart. The album features five songs co-written by Dickerson, including a stripped down wedding version of the title track “Yours.” Boosted by the power of his hit single, he landed on the iTunes Best of 2015 year-end list, TheKnot.com’s Best Wedding Songs of 2016, and Spotify’s #SpotifySpotlight 2016.
In just a short amount of time, Dickerson’s fans solidified him unanimously as the next big thing. Over 30 million streams on Spotify, three million views on YouTube and skyrocketing social media followers have come pouring in. He quickly found himself touring with the likes of Canaan Smith and Billy Currington, as well as joining Florida Georgia Line on their cruise for the second year in a row in addition to headlining his own dates. Dickerson also got to have that moment every artist dreams about – making his debut at the Grand Ole Opry.
“Since day one, all I’ve ever known is music. I love touring, I love playing the shows…I love connecting with every single person.” The multi-instrumentalist and successful songwriter is busy recording his next project, and he’s characteristically optimistic that his fans will embrace the album just as much as they have him. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the fans. I want them to leave my shows feeling changed. I live to make them smile.”
One minute with Tenille Townes and it’s instantly clear that she doesn’t see, or hear, the world like everyone else. Maybe it comes through in how she learned to read by pouring through lyric sheets and liner notes, or how she starting singing by belting along to U2 and Shania Twain in the back of her parents’ car. Or maybe it will come to light in the thousands she’s raised and the miles she’s logged supporting the charitable initiatives she created while still a teenager. Or maybe it will simply come across in her stunning voice and wise, insightful lyricism, all infinitely beguiling for someone of her young age. But that’s the thing about Townes. She’s never operated by the clock or the calendar. She operates from her heart, and from her soul. The Canadian-born Townes, isn’t quite like anyone else who has graced the city’s stages. With the lyrical fortitude of Griffin or Lori McKenna, the soulful nature of Chris Stapleton or even Adele, Townes is paving ground all her own. Working on her debut LP with Jay Joyce, the Nashville-based Townes started her journey to becoming one of country’s most promising new artists back in rural Canada, in the backseat of a car. “I would obsess in the back seat over lyrics,” says Townes, who recalls drives in her home of Grande Prairie, a small town in Alberta, Canada, with her parents. “I would follow along to all of the words and sing along, and call out my favorites. Eventually, I started to learn all of the writer and producer names, just soaking it all up.” Townes insisted that her parents – supportive, hard-working local entrepreneurs – sign her up for singing lessons at the age of five, which led to owning her first guitar from her grandparents at fourteen. It was perfect timing, as Townes had already started to explore what it would be like to set her poetry to music. While other kids were reading Shakespeare and studying, Townes added the craft of famed songwriters like Carolyn Dawn Johnson to her workload, developing her own narrative style before most other teenagers even headed to prom. “There were a lot of things to write about at fourteen,” Townes says. “I’ve always craved what it felt like to step into other people’s shoes. And if songwriting was a way to step into character and make someone feel less alone, then I was all in.” It’s telling that Townes’ first song came from a conversation in social studies class – she thought about it on the entire bus ride home and hurried to her bedroom to put her feeling to words. Ever since then, so many of her lyrics have come from that place of empathy and observance – a few years later, moments she’s seen in passing or discussed at the dinner table with her family or wept about alongside strangers have worked their way into her sonic perspectives. Soon, she was traveling to Nashville regularly to exercise this developing talent and falling in love with everything Music City had to offer. “Coming here for the first time felt like walking into a dreamland,” she says. She made the move to Nashville permanently four years ago, at just nineteen – driving 45 hours from Grande Prairie. Once settled in Nashville, Townes spent her days songwriting and her nights at guitar pulls or at the Bluebird, studying everything she could. Eventually, she scored a publishing deal with Big Yellow Dog, and headed into the studio with Joyce to record her debut. Together, they tapped into her organic nature and her sheer ability to tell a story and emote it through the visceral range of her vocals – tender, bluesy, wise and full of wonder but never naive. “He has a way of pulling out people’s most honest self,” says Townes of her experience working with Joyce. “I always loved telling stories and writing songs, and a lot of these songs deal with things that are hard to talk about. Concepts about losing someone and asking hard questions and about seeking whatever your sense of faith is. Songs about looking for love.” Songs, most importantly, from the heart. And that’s because Townes’ heart is huge. At fifteen, she organized a fundraiser called Big Hearts For Big Kids benefiting a youth shelter in her home town. To this day, they’ve continued it yearly and raised over $1.5 million dollars – Townes was inspired to start the event by a pamphlet her mother brought home one day, not an uncommon occurrence at her house. “We’d sit around the dinner table and talk about what was going on in the world, homelessness and loneliness,” she says, “and I grew up being aware of those things. The parts of human existence that remind us we are all more similar than we think we are. And those stories need to be told.” After school, she continued this ethos by launching a tour called Play It Forward, where she spent 32 weeks on the road, visiting 106 schools and playing music for over 35,000 students. Meant to encourage leadership and inspire youth, it was a huge success and completely born out of Townes’ own scrappy sense of “anything is possible.” Some of the stories she heard along the way even inspire songs on her debut LP. The idea of community that she grew up with comes through, too. Her music is that kitchen table, her words are the experiences and struggles and moments of joy she wants to share, packed with her dynamic vocals and, at the core, that heart. “Music pushes walls down you didn’t know were up,” she says. “A song will take you places you didn’t even ask it to, and I’m always thankful that it does.”
WHO IS JADE?
Jade Eagleson has the kind of traditional sound that is the heart and soul of country music. Even at only 23-years-old, he has a unique ability to take you back in time to the glory days of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Randy Travis. Jade was raised on his grandparents’ farm in Ontario, Canada, where he worked alongside his father tending crops and livestock. While life may have lead him off the farm for a stint here and there, it always brought him back just the same. Even these days when he’s not playing his guitar you’ll still find him shovel in hand.
Jade has been making music most of his life but only considered country music as a career when confronted with the harsh reality of figuring out how to save the farm and keep it in the family. While he may have started playing in empty bars, he soon caught his break when he earned his way into the Emerging Artist Showcase for Canada’s largest country music festival in 2017. Jade’s sound stunned audiences and easily separated him from the pack, which saw him take home top prize. Jade was immediately signed to Universal Music Canada and has been working on his debut album.
Jade’s debut single was released on May 18th, 2018. Check it out everywhere!
FM96 Presents – Thursday July 11th, 2019
It’s unheard of today.
A hard rock band sticks to its guns in face of a fickle mainstream market, refuses to compromise its principals for anybody, amasses millions of fans by doing so, and quietly ascends to multiplatinum chart-topping success in every corner of the globe. It’s a similar storyline shared by everyone from Black Sabbath and Judas Priest to Metallica and Iron Maiden. However, the canned modern millennial response to such a narrative is, “It’s impossible now,” “Kids don’t listen to that”–or the evergreen favorite, “Rock is dead.”
Try telling that to Five Finger Death Punch…
Raising the preferred middle digit, the quintet—Ivan Moody [vocals], Zoltan Bathory [guitar], Jeremy Spencer [drums], Jason Hook [guitar], and Chris Kael [bass]—fuel the beating bloody heart of 21st century hard rock. Arriving with a bang in 2007, they’ve unleashed a total of three RIAA platinum-certified albums, three gold albums, a platinum single, and generated 2 billion global streams to date (in this century). As they became “one of the most-streamed rock acts in the world,” 2015’s Got Your Six catapulted to #1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart and #2 on the Top 200. Recognizing their staunch commitment to supporting the military, The Association of the United States Army honored the boys with the prestigious “Soldier Appreciation Award.” Moreover, they’ve graced the covers of Revolver, Metal Hammer, and Kerrang!, to name a few.
Backed by sky high flames and blockbuster production befitting of their ambition, no crowd has been safe—from Download and Rock Am Ring to Rock on the Range and Jimmy Kimmel Live! On international headline runs, millions of “Knuckleheads” congregate at sold out arenas everywhere.
This unbelievable story continues in 2018 with their seventh full-length the aptly titled, And Justice For None. A brash bloodletting of airtight riffing, muscular grooves, and seismic melodies, these 13 tracks see Five Finger Death Punch maintain that signature intensity, while getting ballsier, bolder, and bigger.
“And Justice For None is the next natural step in our evolution,” explains Spencer. “Each record is like a snapshot in time. We always try to push ourselves and do slightly different things while sticking to our sound. We definitely tried some new flavors on these songs. We came along at a time when there wasn’t a lot of heavy stuff being played on radio. We’ve had a loyal fan base who empowered us to grow from side stages to arenas. We’re honored by them, so we do what we do: we made another Five Finger Death Punch record.”
Zoltan Bathory, Guitarist of Five Finger Death Punch offers “We always explore and comment on current, socially relevant events and this album is no exception. The album cover and title is a somewhat sarcastic metaphor of the state of the World Today. There is no dialogue, there is no conflict resolution, and everyone is launching rockets at each other, both verbal and actual. The divide is so wide; the screaming is so loud that no one is actually being heard and even if they were, everybody is offended by everything anyway. If you cure cancer there is an idiot somewhere who has a problem with that… If there is no self-reflection, if there is no empathy, if there is no common ground–then in the end everyone loses so there will be Justice For None…”
Once again, the group hunkered down in its home base of Las Vegas with longtime producer Kevin Churko [Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed] behind the board a year after Got Your Six. In the studio, they collectively stepped up their game as a unit.
“We just understand each other so well,” Spencer continues. “There’s a huge level of respect on both sides. He gets the best out of us.”
A cinematic cover of The Offspring’s “Gone Away” introduced this chapter. The orchestral darkness underscored Moody’s haunting and hypnotic delivery as the track clocked over 8.8 million Spotify streams and 18 million YouTube/VEVO views in a few months’ time.
Next up, “Sham-Pain” kicked down the doors as the first single. A guttural guitar gallop charges ahead as the frontman rails against detractors and trolls of all kinds with clever and catchy soul over an unpredictable beat.
“Ivan was going through something personal, and he was just venting,” the drummer elaborates. “There’s a cool shuffle and a different vibe, which is something we’ve never done. It’s a great way to introduce the record. Ivan’s like the ambassador of anger,” he smiles.
The musicians tracked the punchy and potent “I Refuse” in a backstage locker room, capturing raw intensity in the moment. Meanwhile, “When The Seasons Change” touts the most massive melody in their catalog yet upheld by expansive acoustic guitars and keys.
“We were feeling an acoustic piece,” he adds. “As usual, it’s a real story. There’s no filter. It’s our chill side.”
The most surprising outlier comes in the form of battering ram blues on the Kenny Wayne Shepherd cover “Blue On Black.” Distorted guitars curl around pummeling percussion before bleeding into a swaggering chant.
“It’s a track from Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Trouble Is… record,” he says. “We always liked the song, so we gave it a show. We honored the original, but we made it as Death Punch as we could. It’s a unique piece on the record.”
In the end, Five Finger Death Punch have only just begun to leave their mark on rock music with And Justice For None.
“We’re grateful for everything,” he leaves off. “It’s amazing to hear we’ve written the soundtrack to many people’s lives. We hope we can live up to what audiences expected. That’s it. We want them to walk away going, ‘Dude, they did it again.’”
Throughout history, art rejoices and revels in the wisdom of women.
Within a deck of tarot cards, the High Priestess serves as the guardian of the unconscious. In Greek mythology, the old oracles celebrate the Mother Goddess. William Shakespeare posited portentous prescience in the form of MacBeth’s “Three Witches.” On their sixth full-length album Ritual, In This Moment—Maria Brink [vocals, piano], Chris Howorth [lead guitar], Travis Johnson [bass], Randy Weitzel [rhythm guitar], and Kent Diimel [drums]—unearth a furious and focused feminine fire from a cauldron of jagged heavy metal, hypnotic alternative, and smoky voodoo blues.
It’s an evolution. It’s a statement. It’s In This Moment 2017…
“It’s like we’re going into the next realm,” asserts Maria. “I had a conviction of feeling empowered in my life and with myself. I always write from a personal place, and I needed to share that sense of strength. I’ve never been afraid to hold back. Sometimes, I can be very suggestive. However, I wanted to show our fans that this is the most powerful side of myself and it’s without overt sexuality. It’s that deeper serious fire inside of my heart.”
“What Maria is saying comes from deep inside,” Chris affirms. “This time, we had a bunch of ideas started before we hit the studio. There was a really clear direction. It’s different.”
The group spent two years supporting their biggest album yet 2014’s Black Widow. Upon release, it seized their highest position to date on the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #8. Simultaneously, it clinched #3 on the Hard Rock Albums chart and spawned a series of hits such as “Sick Like Me,” “Big Bad Wolf,” and “Sex Metal Barbie”—all cracking 8 million Spotify streams each and topping Rock Radio. Meanwhile, the band’s signature smash “Whore” crossed the 20-million mark.
Furthermore, the title track off In This Moment’s 2012 album, Blood, has been certified gold by the RIAA. A remarkable accomplishment, the companion music video for “Blood” has been viewed over 27 million times.
Between headline tours, they incinerated stages everywhere from Rock On The Range to Download Festival. In March 2016, Maria and Chris commenced writing for what would become the new record with longtime collaborator and multiple GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne] at his Las Vegas compound.
Following a high-profile summer 2016 tour with Korn and Rob Zombie, the duo began writing. Then, Maria visited Salem, MA for the very first time with all of the women in her family quite appropriately during Halloween.
“We were really tapping the energy there,” she says. “We were honoring each other. I was seeking inspiration and experience to inspire me in this album. I was trying to find a lot of truth in myself. I loved Salem. I was blown away by how visually beautiful it is. The history of the witch burnings is fascinating. It was a special ceremonial journey.”
Galvanized and inspired, Maria and Chris returned to Kevin’s stronghold to complete recording. In an atmosphere of candles, crystals, incense, and a cackling fireplace, they expanded their aural palette once again, welcoming a doom blues bombast into the sonic fold.
“We love Black Widow, but it was very electronic,” Chris explains. “This is a little more organic, emphasizing guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. We slowed down the groove a little bit. I got to play some slide guitar, and I’ve never done that. There’s a bluesy side, which we’ve also never had.”
“We always want to grow and evolve,” Maria adds. “It was a chance to get a little more serious.”
That progression shines through the first single “Oh Lord.” A minimal drum and handclap echoes as Maria’s wild incantation takes hold. Guitars shiver and shake as the frontwoman delivers an undeniable refrain.
“The meaning of ‘Oh Lord’ is central to the album,” she reveals. “I should be able to have a relationship with what I perceive God to be. For me, it’s this strength and light. When I was younger, I felt guilty for thinking of these things. I’m not supposed to touch an oracle card, a tarot card, or these beautiful things, because they’re ‘bad.’ I had these fears in me for a long time like, ‘Is this wrong?’ I realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore. There’s a lot of learning and an awakening in that one.”
Inverting everyone’s favorite Billy Idol nuptial anthem, “Black Wedding” sees Maria walk down the aisle of musical madness with none other than Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Cowritten with Stevens, it’s an explosive and enchanting duet.
“I can’t believe that happened,” beams Chris. “Maria hit up Rob and asked if he was interested. He jumped right on it. I can’t believe we got him.”
“Who doesn’t love ‘White Wedding?’,” laughs Maria. “We wanted to do a spin-off that’s creative. It’s a question-and-answer between me and another voice. The chorus essentially says this isn’t going to be the opposite of a happy ending! You’re becoming empowered by heartbreak.”
Chris breaks out the slide on the raging “River of Fire,” while “Witching Hour” dances around the flames to a new wave-inspired groove and midnight lore as Maria recants, “This idea of me being burned as a witch in a past life for teaching people to be free.” Elsewhere, “Roots” practically opens up the earth with its sheer seismic force.
“Sometimes, I have to go through pain in order to forgive and let go,” she adds. “I love to thank the hate in people. It’s that sort of energy. I’ll be okay, hold my head strong, push forward, do what I’ve got to do, and prevail.”
Simultaneously, In This Moment breathe a dark new life into the Phil Collins’ classic “In The Air Tonight.”
“We can’t reproduce what he did in a million years,” she says. “It’s one of the best songs ever. We did our own interpretation and made it a little more sinister like our ritual.”
The ritual has begun, and In This Moment ignite a brighter fire than ever before here.
“When fans hear this, I want them to feel the music, whether they take away sadness, anger, or happiness,” concludes Chris. “As a kid, I remember listening to records and putting them on repeat over and over again. I’d love for the world to listen and absorb this as a piece of work.”
Maria leaves off, “I want everybody to be unafraid of who they are and not worry about what the rest of society says. Be strong. Be loud. We love our fans deeply. I hope everybody feels that love and powerful in who they are.”
No matter the climate, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE makes trend-resistant, timeless heavy music that feeds the soul, touches the heart, and strengthens the mind. Their anthems and live staples like “My Last Serenade,” “My Curse,” and “In Due Time,” have the staying power that appeals to all generations of rock and metal fans worldwide, along with a message that serves to unite, enlighten, and entertain. Having shared the stage with acts ranging from Rise Against to Slayer, the diversity and versatility of their touring is unparalleled and a true testament to their reach.
The band’s seventh studio album, INCARNATE, possesses a stack of new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems certain to set the heavy music world ablaze once more. As cofounders of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, guitarist/backing vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, rhythm guitarist Joel Stroetzel, bassist Mike D’Antonio, and Leach (who returned four years ago after a decade-long absence) together with longtime drummer Justin Foley employ unrelenting determination to continually release powerfully potent work.
Leach wears his heart on his sleeve like never before, coming out of the experience of making INCARNATE a brand new person. It’s an album of reclamation and redefinition, from a band that still rules the scene.
The reckless abandon of creative passion, the search for higher truths and personal justice, and the authentic reality of the duality within all people – the light, the dark, the playful, the deadly – these are the components that comprise KILLSWITCH. They are the elements of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, INCARNATE.
Certain moments in life change everything. The trajectory splinters, and there’s no turning back. I Prevail—Brian Burkheiser [clean vocals], Eric Vanlerberghe [harsh vocals], Steve Menoian [guitar], Dylan Bowman [rhythm guitar] –explore this phenomenon with their full-length debut, Lifelines [Fearless Records].
“When we started diving into the record, we all sat down and thought, ‘Wow, everything has changed in the last year,’” explains Brian. “Everyone encounters those moments that really define where the rest of their lives are headed. We’ve all grown from everything that’s happened. When we sat down and got to work, we really wanted to share our journey through these songs.”
“Lifelines are a great visual for certain points in your life,” adds Brian. It’s a line you can’t go backward from or ignore. For us, the path split from the moment we all created I Prevail.
I Prevail are no strangers to this experience. After the release of the quartet’s 2014 EP, Heart vs. Mind, nothing would ever be the same. The EP moved over 100,000 copies as the Detroit band toured with the likes of Hollywood Undead and Pierce the Veil. Meanwhile, the group’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” sold 500,000 plus singles, went Top 20 on Active Rock Radio, generated over 50 million views on YouTube and 30 million-plus Spotify streams (earning them a gold plaque for their walls). The band was nominated for “Breakthrough Band” at the 2016 Alternative Press Music Awards and garnered features from Billboard, Detroit Free Press, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, AXS, Loudwire, and many more. Everything aligned and had set the stage perfectly their debut full-length, Lifelines.
In early 2016, the boys retreated to Wall of Sound Studios in the small and secluded town of Riley, Michigan to work with trusted producers B.J. Perry and John Pregler. With nearly two years on the road under their belt, the group fully cemented their style, merging entrancing hooks and a powerful music breakdown. Lifelines debuted October 21st, 2016 and has sold almost 200,000 copies worldwide.
“On the EP, we were all getting to know each other’s style,” Brian goes on. “We spent a year working on it without ever launching publicly. We wanted to make the best impression possible. Then when we put it out, we spent the next year-and-a-half doing everything we could to promote it. Writing Lifelines was such a different experience. We had so much more time to grow together and really had a clear vision for the sound we wanted to create on the album.”
The first single “Scars” erupts from a propulsive riff into an unshakable anthem teetering between a hypnotic harmony and a hard-hitting groove. It’s immediately infectious.
“Being away from family members and going through relationships that have died off, sometimes made me feel anxiety and depression,” admits Brian. “Sometimes, you have to look in the mirror. We wanted to create a song that was personal to us, but still relatable. That’s how we got the concept of ‘Scars.’”
Elsewhere on the album “Stuck in Your Head” sees a magnetic vocal in tandem with a bombastic drumbeat and hyper-charged guitars making the song live up to its name.
“Basically, we’re comparing a relationship to a broken record,” continues the singer. “It’s dedicated to a certain ex of mine, and I can say a couple of the others guys dedicated it to their former relationships too. Things are really good for a while. All of a sudden, the record starts wearing, and things get rocky. In my case, I always felt like the bad guy. So, the song’s a final send-off saying, ‘Thanks for the memories, but I’m glad you’re out of my life. Here’s a song for you to go out to.’”
Ultimately, Lifelines sees I Prevail take another big creative step. “We wanted to create something that can showcase every emotion,” Brian leaves off. “It’s anything you’re feeling or looking for.”
When North Muskegon, Michigan native Leigh Kakaty formed Pop Evil, he chose the band’s name for a reason. He loved hard rock songs with good melodies but he also dug loud, crunchy guitars and propulsive metal rhythms. For Kakaty, it’s a natural duality that came from growing up in the Great Lakes and it eventually became the raison d’etre of his band.
“It’s just a natural part of who I am,” Kakaty says. “When I was growing up we’d roll out to the beach on the weekdays with an acoustic guitar and everyone would kick it. And on the weekends, we’d turn up the amps and, boom, everyone would try to break windows. It was all about the heaviness. And I needed both of those elements – the melodic and the metallic.”
Five albums into Pop Evil’s career, combining strong hooks with knockout punches is more important than ever. The band’s new record, simply called Pop Evil, is a surging, contemporary sounding release that incorporates metal, alternative, hard rock and even electronic music. In the wake of the band’s peppy, upbeat 2015 album Up, it’s a wake-up call, a musical rebirth that inspired the band to self-title the release, partially since they’d never done so. Their first album, Lipstick on the Mirror came out in 2008, and while it introduced listeners to the band’s core sound with well-received singles like “Hero” and “100 in a 55,” Pop Evil has grown exponentially since then.
Pop Evil captures Kakaty and his bandmates – rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs, lead guitarist Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRito and drummer Hayley Cramer – at their most inspiring. Every song on the album offers a different spin on the concept behind the band’s name and in an era when many rock bands create a few strong singles, and six or seven less memorable songs and call it an album, Pop Evil is all killer, no filler – the best 11 songs culled from 30 demos.
There’s plenty to be excited about on Pop Evil. The first single, “Waking Lions” starts with clattery electronic drums and a chugging guitar riff interjected with a squealing harmonic, then the first verse kicks in like a mob smashing down the doors the confine them. As Kakaty hits the euphoric chorus – backed by buzzing guitars and a minor-key counter melody – he sings about reaching within and overcoming obstacles “I want to stand up 100 feet tall / ‘Cause fear will never lead my way / I’m ready to run 100 miles strong / I will never be the same.”
By contrast, “Colors Bleed” – for which the band shot an insightful video — was inspired by current events and features a charged rhythm, incisive guitar licks, and confrontational vocals. “Step aside watch the colors bleed / The rise of democracy / Fight the System / Stop and listen / True colors, how can you miss ‘em? /Born with knowledge, raise the fist / Face the enemy, just resist.”
The song blends aggressive rock vocals and rapping, bringing to mind Rage of Machine (even if the bridge and solo sound more like Pink Floyd). “Rage was my favorite band growing up,” admits Kakaty. “Because he was a frontman of mixed race, Zack de la Rocha was my hero. He was the guy that I could relate to when I grew up rapping. In the beginning of my career with Pop Evil, I moved away from that vocal approach in hopes to find the right song to bring it back. It just naturally happened on this record.”
Lyrically, songs like “Colors Bleed” cover new ground for Pop Evil. Instead of being about dysfunctional relationships, self-empowerment or mortality, Kakaty digs into today’s headlines and addresses what he feels about capitalism, hypocrisy and violent confrontation.
“It was important for me to document things that we’re going through right now, such as what happened in Charlottesville, what’s going on with North Korea and where the government is at,” he says. “As a lyricist, I need to address all sorts of subjects and emotions and politics is a part of that. I felt I needed to write about the things I’m feeling as a mixed American — someone whose mom and dad came to this culture with big dreams, hopes, and aspirations because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Anyone who comes to America is a native of this country, so it’s so important that we all come together. When we join together, everyone wins.”
“With a band name like Pop Evil, we felt like the Evil has always been de-emphasized just because of the situations we were in,” Kakaty says. “It always seemed like the people around us wanted to focus more on radio play or writing more mainstream, melodic stuff. That’s definitely a part of what we like to do, but this time we made a rock album for rock fans. And, in general, rock fans are real Middle American, middle or lower-middle class people who get forgotten about. Secular music has pretty much told the world that rock and roll and metal music don’t matter anymore. Having lived that life and thrived as a rock band, it’s hard not to take offense to that, but it’s important to try to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. And we’re doing that by turning up the amps and saying, “Look, we can make heavy songs that really rock and we can also write catchy songs that someone who likes Pearl Jam or Led Zeppelin can get into.”
The struggle was a regular obstacle for Pop Evil as they prepared to record their definitive album. Before they could finish the UP album cycle, they had to find a new drummer. Joshua Marunde (AKA Chachi Riot), who had been with the band since 2011 gradually lost interest in being a touring musician and decided to open his own CrossFit gym. He stayed with the band until the end of May 2016 in support of Up and then amicably parted ways with the band, forcing them to find a replacement while on the road.
After some soul searching, their management team brought a few ideas forward, one being a female drummer and the band members decided that it could be a terrific idea to work with a female drummer in order to give the band a new perspective that wasn’t solely motivated by testosterone.
They took recommendations from industry contacts and invited a bunch of women to email them audition videos. After carefully examining a bunch of playthrough videos one stood out to Pop Evil. It was one video sent in by English drummer Hayley Cramer (ex-McQueen) who they invited for a try out in their hometown and absolutely blew the band away. The band decided to bring her out on the road while Chachi was finishing his role and split time during the month of May 2016. She entered into the band with total confidence and a new artistic vision.
“As soon as we saw her video we were like, ‘Oh my goodness. She’s the one,’” Leigh Kakaty says. “Her first tour with us was in packed arenas opening for Rob Zombie and Disturbed. It was crazy, but when things work, they work. She’s been like the big sister we never knew we wanted but we’re so glad we have. And she’s so passionate about the music. Songs that we’d been playing for years suddenly came to life in a different way and then she came in and killed it on this record. It was a rejuvenation for us. She’s nothing short of a blessing.”
With Cramer’s help, Pop Evil wrote a batch of new songs in their practice space before they started demoing. In addition to making sure the album was heavier than Up, they wanted the time to create the album they wanted to make. While they had been forced to rush through past albums in three or four months so they could return to the road (the band had averaged 200 live concerts a year over the last ten years), they dedicated a full year to completing Pop Evil. “When you’ve got a bunch of material to work with, weeding that all out takes time,” Kakaty says. “We’d wind up going with things we didn’t know if we were completely sure was right for the album and then I’d have to put lyrics on and if I didn’t totally believe in something it was hard to put my heart and soul into the vocals. So finally, for the first time ever, the record company/management agreed to give us the time needed to make the record and we worked really hard this time to try out everything and really use the best of the best.”
In Spring 2017, Pop Evil went to Sound Emporium studio in Nashville to work with Kato Khandwala. The band worked in Nashville between June and August, then went to Los Angeles to record vocals and Sphere Studios.
“In the past, we’ve all done our parts and it was a little awkward,” Kakaty says. “This time, everyone was together. Everyone was there in the studio offering their opinions and Kato was there to make sure we didn’t veer off track and to push us to deliver our best performances.” Looking back at Pop Evil, Kakaty is thrilled that it came out exactly how the band wanted it to. The experimental parts give the album a cutting edge sound and the melodic passages – whether they comprise the crux of the chorus, verse or both – are undeniably memorable. At the same time, the band didn’t compromise when it came to delivering powerhouse metal riffs and emotionally expressive vocal lines. “With every album, we’ve been able to branch off a little and do more of what we wanted to do,” Kakaty says. “With this record, we really feel like we finally got all the pieces together and created this monster of an album. It’s everything we talked about and strived for and we can’t wait to go out and really show people who we are.
97.5 Virgin Radio Presents – Friday July 12th, 2019 SOLD OUT
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 Angel. It 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.
They say that “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” Yet, according to the best-selling R&B groundbreaker Ginuwine, there’s a corollary to that time honored adage: namely, just because it ain’t broke don’t mean you can sit around and rest on your laurels. If you’re an artist, you’ve got to push yourself. Mature. Expand your creative horizons. And make sure your fifth album is at least as memorable and important as your first — and give it all the show-stopping soul power you’ve got.
Back II Da Basics, Ginuwine’s fifth Epic Records/Sony Urban Music CD, is fueled by the expansive artistry and vitality that Ginuwine’s fans have come to expect while the man’s new music raises the bar on his already high standards. Featuring production by Jazze Pha (Ciara/Monica), Troy Oliver (2001’s “Differences”), The Underdogs and TrackMasters, the album is chockfull of songs that make you wanna hit the club and the sheets. Back II Da Basics is the sound of Ginuwine reconnecting, reaffirming and reigniting the passion that makes his music so real, memorable and, well, genuine.
If you ask the affable soul star if his follow-up to 2003’s platinum-certified The Senior (which spawned the smash hit “In Those Jeans”) is a reintroduction of sorts, Ginuwine responds, “Somewhat. Even though I’ve enjoyed a long run and am celebrating ten years in the industry, it never hurts to come on like it’s the first time someone has heard you.” With a devilish laugh, he adds, “I think I’ve made a big enough statement as an artist.” That he certainly has and continues to do on an LP whose title says it all. “On The Senior, the theme was that I was in high school situation and now, I’m in college, which means that it’s good to brush up on the fundamentals, which is what I did. I made sure I had plenty of dance songs because dance music is part of my roots. But I also made sure I didn’t forget those ballads, because that’s also something I love doing. So I’m just going back to the basics of who I am, but I’m doing it in a new way.”
Ginuwine is referring to the contributions from producers outside of his usual comfort zone, an experience he declares was “exciting and also a challenge, because it’s not the way I usually work. I’m used to doing almost everything in-house, but working with new people was a learning experience. I’m willing to be as humble as I was when I first started out, and that’s why I was into exploring all possible avenues.”
A taste of that expansiveness is evident on the album’s first single, the sultry slow-burning “When We Make Love.” Produced by new jack Ced Solo, “When We Make Love” is classic Ginuwine honed to a 2005 sheen. As for the steamy lovers’ vibe? Ever the ladies’ man, Ginuwine laughs, “I think it’s pretty much self-explanatory. That sort of romantic, sensual feeling has pretty much been my strength and I know how to express that emotion well.”
Which is proved by the song “Better Half.” Produced by Timbaland associate Danger Handz, this ballad mines a similar spirit to 2001’s “Differences,” which was one of the most played songs on urban R&B radio. “I think `Better Half’ is going to be another one of those songs that people use as part of their wedding ceremonies,” Ginuwine predicts, “because the subject matter is so universal.” Another smoothed out soul turn is “I’m In Love” (produced by Troy Oliver) which Ginuwine describes as “the type of song that I really feel good about.”
Yet, if you think that Back II Da Basics is only a collection of love songs, there are other dimensions to Ginuwine’s musical world. Eager to kick-start his dancing machine, Ginuwine aka “The Pride of Washington D.C.,” unleashes the club banger “In The Club,” featuring red hot Jadakiss, and lets Jazze Pha work his magic on the old school Michael Jackson flavored jam “Want You To Be.” From late night creeps to crunked out joints, Back II Da Basics is Ginuwine in totality. “I think people know how I get down and that’s why I always try to give so much of myself on each album.”
Born in Washington, D.C., Ginuwine fell under the spells of Prince and Michael Jackson as a child. By the time he was 12, the aspiring musician had started performing with a local hip-hop group, the Finesse Five. As time went on, he sang with another D.C. group, Physical Wonder, and even entertained folks as a nimble MJ imitator. In 1996, Ginuwine was discovered by Jodeci and, after traveling to New York City, met Timbaland, a then up-and-coming producer. Together they cut the edgy track “Pony,” which lead to a deal with Sony Music.
His debut CD, Ginuwine…The Bachelor hit the streets in late ’96 and “Pony” quickly became a #1 R&B and #6 pop chart/radio sensation. The LP would go on to double-platinum status, driven by popular cuts like “Pony,” “Tell Me Do U Wanna,” “I’ll Do Anything/I’m Sorry,” “Holler” and “Only When Ur Lonely”. With his stylized dancing and creamy vocals, Ginuwine emerged as one of contemporary R&B’s biggest rookies and also a major sex symbol. In 1998, he released “Same Ol’ G” (from the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack), which resulted in yet another chart hit.
In 1999, Ginuwine proved that lightning sometimes strikes twice with his second double-platinum LP, 100% Ginuwine, which entered the pop charts at #5. The first single “So Anxious,” became a massive crossover hit, while “What’s So Different?” and “None of Ur Friend’s Business” scored on the R&B charts. In 2001, Ginuwine dropped The Life, which, as he’d done previously, entered the charts in the Top 5 and went platinum-plus (to date, all four Ginuwine albums have achieved that prestigious mark). The set’s second single, “Differences,” triumphed as Ginuwine’s biggest pop hit yet, hitting #4 on the Hot 100. The following year, “G” displayed his versatility by making his feature film debut in the 2002 comedy “Juwanna Man.” Over the past several years, he’s also appeared in other TV and film projects, including “Half & Half” and “Honey.” “I love acting! I love doing sitcoms; that’s something I really want to do more of,” exclaims the multi-faceted R&B superstar. With 2003 came the release of The Senior, which resulted in another R&B chart/radio hit (“In Those Jeans”), another platinum certification and a sold-out Ladies Night Tour (also featuring Brian McKnight, Joe and label mates Jagged Edge).
With ten years in the game, Ginuwine is as hungry as ever, yet grateful for what he’s accomplished. “My career has been a blessing,” he says. “I know that some folks thought that after ‘Pony’ I was just a novelty and they wrote me off, but I am living proof that you can do it.”
And, what can Ginuwine fans expect this time around? “Back II Da Basics has those true heartfelt songs, amplified by a new creative experience,” admits the artist. “I’m happy with this record and I know that my fans will come away with a greater sense of who I am and what I’ve been though. The one thing that will never change is that I will always express myself through my music.”
Tone-Loc (born Anthony Smith) soared from obscurity into pop stardom in 1989 when his hoarse voice and unmistakable delivery made the song “Wild Thing” (using a sample from Van Halen’s “Jamie’s Cryin'”) a massive hit. The song was co-written by Marvin Young, better known as Young MC, as was the second single smash, “Funky Cold Medina.” The album Loc-ed After Dark became the second rap release ever to top the pop charts. Tone-Loc expanded his horizons into acting in 1992 and 1993, appearing a few times on the Fox sitcom Roc. He was also in the films Posse and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and in 1991 returned to recording with Cool Hand Loc.
97.5 Virgin Radio Presents – Saturday July 13th, 2019
From Mr. 305 to Mr. Worldwide, Armando Christian Perez, a.k.a. Pitbull, rose from the streets of Miami to exemplify the American Dream and achieve international success as a GrammyÒ award-winning global superstar, business entrepreneur, education ambassador and motivational speaker. Pitbull has landed #1 hits in over 15 countries, sold over 80 million singles, has more than 84 million Facebook/Twitter/Instagram followers and over 13 billion views on YouTube. In addition to the United States, his sold-out world concert tours have taken him to North and South America, Europe, China and Japan. Along the way, he has co-headlined with Enrique Iglesias, toured with Britney Spears in the U.K. and Europe, and spoken to thousands as part of Tony Robbins’ motivational seminars. Pitbull also serves as ambassador to the Sports Leadership Arts and Management (SLAM!) charter schools he has helped to establish.
With 60 hit songs under his belt and two Grammy trophies on his mantle, T-Pain has cemented himself as one of the most influential artists of all time. But even he needed a bit of time to himself to reload. After a successful run of #1 hits, albums, tours and a plethora of cameo appearances, T-Pain took some time off to enjoy the fruits of his labor and perfect his craft.
In 2018, T-Pain has returned and he is back and better than ever. He launched an “Everything Must Go” campaign in August to clear out his vault of unreleased music as a gift to his dedicated fans, he is currently the star of the hit television show on Fuse titled “T-Pain’s School of Business”, the dean of his very own university-Wiscansin University, and has an album slated to come out in early 2019. T-Pain is showing no signs of slowing down and has proven that he only gets better with time.
Over the last several years, Flo Rida has pulled off a pretty neat trick. Not only has the Florida-born rapper become a chart fixture thanks to the blockbuster singles “Low (feat. T-Pain),” “Right Round,” “Club Can’t Handle Me,” and his most recent chart-topping hits, “Good Feeling” and “Wild Ones (feat. Sia),” he’s also broken down barriers by uniting millions of fans of pop, hip-hop, and club music around the world and establishing himself as an international, genre-busting superstar in the process. Flo Rida brings his experiences traveling the globe to his fourth album, Wild Ones.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been everywhere — Africa, Japan, Greece, South America, Russia, the Middle East, Australia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and all over the United States and Europe,” Flo says. “You name it, I went there. I got to go to the best clubs and the most extreme parties and that really influenced this album. With this album, I definitely feel like I have to show people that I’m the life of the party.” Songs like the “Good Feeling” and “Let It Roll” are addictive, upbeat party jams. His newest single, “Whistle,” opens with an acoustic guitar and infectious whistle chime, already proving to be the song of the summer. Jennifer Lopez adds her sultry vocals to the club-ready “Sweet Spot,” and Redfoo of LMFAO helps keep the party going on the bonus track “Run.” “On each album I try to show a lot of versatility, but every time it’s going to get bigger and bigger, because there’s no way I can give my fans the same old thing.”
Wild Ones, is an envelope-pushing collection of party-friendly anthems that showcases Flo Rida’s signature stop-and-go flow, melodic sensibility, massive hooks, and billion-dollar beats, as well as his clever lyricism. “I like to sit down and come up with a melody first, before I even apply the lyrics,” he says. “Because when you’re creating a track, you should become an instrument, not just rap over a beat. For me to connect with a track, it has to be soulful.”
To tap into that soulful vibe, Flo Rida collaborated with a host of A-list songwriters and producers, including Dr. Luke, Goonrock, Sia, Rico Love, DJ Frank E, Axwell, The Futuristics and SoFly and Nius. “I’m very particular about who I work with,” Flo Rida says. “They don’t have to be a huge name, but I have to feel like they’re bringing something that’s outside the box.”
He may be surrounded by star power, but Flo Rida proves that he is one-of-a-kind on Wild Ones. Born Tramar Dillard, Flo Rida was raised by a single mother in Miami’s rough neighborhood of Carol City. “Growing up in the projects, you never knew when you’d have to lay down on the ground because they’re shooting or the police swat team is on the roof,” he says. “My mother instilled in us that you could be from the ghetto, but you don’t have to be of it. Because when it came down to doing certain things, I decided to be a leader and do more positive things.”
Music helped Flo Rida stay on the straight path. His father was a talented musician who encouraged his son to express himself through music. Growing up, Flo Rida was exposed to all kinds of music, thanks in large part to his sisters, some of whom formed a local gospel group. When he was a teenager, Flo Rida found local success rapping with a group called the Groundhoggz. At 18, he became the hype man for Fresh Kid Ice from 2 Live Crew. Eventually, Flo Rida caught the attention of DeVante Swing, formerly of famed R&B group Jodeci and spent a few years in Los Angeles working with him. Unable to land a record deal, Flo Rida returned home to Miami and in late 2006 hooked up with Poe Boy Entertainment and its CEO, Elric “E-Class” Prince. Months later, Flo Rida inked a deal with Atlantic Records.
Released in March 2008, Flo Rida’s debut album Mail on Sunday spawned three singles including “Low,” which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to become one of the most successful digital singles of the past decade. The T-Pain-featured cut, now over 6x-platinum, appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Step Up 2: The Streets and was one of the most heavily rotated rap singles of 2008. Flo Rida received the People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Hip-Hop Song” and an MTV Africa Music Award for “MTV Base Request.” He also scored his first two Grammy nominations for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” and “Best Rap Song.” Mail on Sunday went gold in Australia and Canada and established Flo Rida as one of the most versatile MCs to hold the mic. The worldwide embrace was the culmination of years building his skills and credibility on the underground circuit.
In March 2009, Flo Rida released his second album R.O.O.T.S. (an acronym for “Route of Overcoming the Struggle”), which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 200 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Rap Album.” Flo Rida once again made history with the album’s first single “Right Round,” which to date remains the highest-selling one-week digital single ever with more than 636,000 downloads sold its debut week. In addition, “Right Round” is the fastest-selling digital single ever, with one million downloads sold in just two weeks.
In June 2010, Flo Rida scored his fourth Top 10 U.S. single with “Club Can’t Handle Me” (also featured on the soundtrack to the film Step Up 3D) and gave fans a taste of what’s to come on third studio album, Only One Flo (Part 1). The David Guetta-produced global anthem, “Club Can’t Handle Me,” is nearly 3x-platinum. Only One Flo (Part 1) also featured international hits “Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) and “Who Dat Girl (feat. Akon).”
Flo Rida is quickly approaching a remarkable 60 million singles sold worldwide. “Wild Ones (feat. Sia)” marks the superstar’s sixth consecutive RIAA platinum certified single not to mention his fifth top 5 hit on the all-encompassing Billboard “Hot 100” chart.
In addition to crafting worldwide hits, Flo Rida is also focusing on ushering in a wave of new stars to the music industry by way of his International Music Group (IMG) record label. Artists currently signed to IMG include Hip-Hop newcomer Whyl Chyl, Recording Group on the verge Team Phlyte and Canadian Pop Sensation Tyler Medeiros.
As for his stunning success, Flo Rida says, “If you have a dream and stay positive, there’s no way you can lose. The fact that I’ve come from where I’ve come from and been able to travel the world is just crazy. I remember seeing an entire family come to my show. They had a baby in a stroller, a four-year-old girl, and a seven-year old boy. That blew me away that they gave me their time, so I want to give people my time.” To that end, Flo Rida has created Big Dreams For Kids Foundation and the Florida Youth Football League (FYFL), (2) charity non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of inner-city, underprivileged youth through education, team sports, family enrichment and support.
“It’s one thing to me for me to be successful with music, but with the right message and having the ability to connect with people, I knew I could do something meaningful that gives people hope,” Flo Rida says. “When I was growing up, celebrities would come through the projects where I lived, and hearing them talk about how they had become financially stable made an impact on me. I’ve felt a need to go back and talk to kids and let them know what happened in my life, the way some of these folks did for me. I feel like it’s my duty to put a smile on people’s faces, whether it’s through my charity or through my music, and that’s what I always plan to be doing.”