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The Return Of Fred Durst And Other Rock Comebacks We’re More Pleased About

He’s back, folks. Inescapable nu-metal menace Fred Durst, infamous frontman of rap-rock group Limp Bizkit—the band that soundtracked the more regrettable and embarrassing moments moments of your angsty middle school years—is in the spotlight once more, and he brought the whole gang with him. Maybe that’s why people are actually talking about Bizkit’s newest upcoming record, the first in ten years to feature the whole line up. The last album to feature all four original members was Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, historically the only album to put a bad taste in your mouth before you listen to it. Side note: Chocolate Starfish debuted at number 1 on Billboard and sold 1.05 million copies in it’s first week. How does that make you feel?

He looks like every gym coach ever.

We’re not exactly thrilled about Durst’s return to the mainstream consciousness. That doesn’t mean that we look upon every comeback with scorn! So, to get Durst out of our heads, we’re going to be rollin’ on to some of our favorite musician’s musical returns to form.

Elvis Presley

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a storied career but some people don’t realize that it came with many ups and downs. Just kidding! Elvis’s late career downward spiral is well documented, no need to go into that. Presley had initially come to prominence in the mid ’50s with famous gyrating appearances on the Milton Berle Show and Ed Sullivan Show. However, in 1958, Presley was inducted into the armed forces and was on active duty for two years. After his time in the military, Presley began to focus on his burgeoning movie career. Only problem was the movies (and the subsequent music) Presley was putting out during this time received a great deal critical scorn. The lack of quality music and movies being released under his name was beginning to be recognized as sub-par and sales were dropping by the mid ’60s as a result. When he finally returned to the stage in 1968, Presley hadn’t performed in front of a live audience since 1961. However, that performance—later dubbed the ’68 Comeback Special—was broadcaster NBC’s highest rated show that season and captured 42% of the viewing audience. The King was back.

Meat Loaf

There has perhaps been no singer better suited to his chosen moniker. The singer, Marvin Lee Aday, made his first mark in the popular consciousness with an appearance in the über-cult hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When his record, Bat Out Of Hell, was released in 1977, it became a major hit, selling over 43 million copies. However, the ’80s would prove to be unkind to Meat Loaf. During this time, Loaf had a falling out with his writing partner Jim Steinman. Steinman composed nearly all of Meat Loaf’s music and in 1983, Meat Loaf released Midnight At The Lost And Found without him. Not only was the record a flop, but two Steinman compositions originally intended for the album were left off. What were they, you ask? One was “Making Love (Out of Nothing At All)” later performed by Air Supply. The other…

Oof.

However, Meat Loaf has since rebounded. After regaining a working relationship with Steinman, Loaf followed up Bat with two Bat Out Of Hell sequels whose combined record sales have topped 14 million.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana is currently heralded as a giant of Latin rock and jazz guitar, and rightly so. That’s not a position that anyone is trying to dispute—Santana made his mark in the ’60s and ’70s with a legendary set at Woodstock and the 4x platinum Abraxas from Santana, his band incarnation. However, by the ’90s Santana was treading water. However, Clive Davis, head of Artista Records at the time and starmaker that he is, had an idea for Santana. Sign with Columbia Records and produce a record with a few notable pop stars guesting. A Dave Matthews there, a Lauryn Hill there. The result was Supernatural, a record that won nine GRAMMY awards, scored two Billboard Number 1 hit singles and eventually went on to sell 27 million copies worldwide. Here’s a sample below in case anyone is wondering what that kind of record would sound like.

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black was not lacking in success before the ’90s. Cash had a storied career most artists would envy: meeting with the president, working with some of the most prominent contemporary country musicians of his day and becoming a symbol, synonymous with outlaw culture and being an American Badass. So, after a hard decade in the ’80s due to a battle with drug addiction, being unceremoniously dropped from Columbia Records and having been kicked by an ostrich things weren’t looking too rosy for Cash. Then he hooked up with super-producer Rick Rubin. At the behest of Rubin, Cash released the first in the series of his American Recordings which would eventually bring Cash to a new audience and the greatest amount of popular and critical acclaim of his career. However, Cash wasn’t through with the hard times yet. In 1997, he was diagnosed with Shy-Drager Disease, a form of Parkinson’s, a condition left him bed ridden and near-death. So what does Cash do? Record two more records before his passing, including covers of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”, U2′s “One” and, of course, Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”.

Mariah Carey

Stunningly, beautiful and remarkably talented, Mariah Carey is one of the top selling musicians of all time. Period. Carey dominated the ’90s with Number 1 hit after Number 1 hit. In fact, Carey is the only artist to have a Number 1 hit every single year of the 90s. But fate is a fickle bitch. You try to reinvent you image to make rooms for more butterflies and Glitter and what happens? Critical scorn and diminished record sales, that’s what. However, her mental health collapse did bring us one of Total Request Live‘s immortal moments when the singer appeared on the show, distributing popsicles to the audience and wearing an oversized t-shirt (and nothing else) to the chagrin/horror of host Carson Daly.

Following admittance to a care facility, a box office bomb and some of the lowest charting records of her career, Carey made a mid-decade return to the pop world. The release of The Emancipation of Mimi marked a return to form for Carey and the record eventually sold over 12 million copies—single “We Belong Together” was the most successful for Carey until that point. And now with her newborn twins and plans for a new record on the way, Mariah is once again on top of the world.

We’re suckers for a good comeback story. Sure, it can be fun to kick ‘em while they’re down, to snark and make little sarcastic asides. But what’s better then seeing your old favorites kicking ass? It just feels good to see some of our old heroes come screaming back into our collective consciousness, guns blazing. Here’s hoping that any musician going through a dry spell or a rough patch can break back into the collective consciousness like these performers did.

Kickstart OurHeart: Hip Hop Vs. Balkan Brass

We’ve always been supportive of new collaborative efforts, especially when they push the boundaries of what’s “normal.” It’s pretty exciting to hear artists who are awesome in their genre team up with the front-runners of a contrasting one. Sure, the end result can be hit or miss, but either way the efforts pique our interest. We thought we’d seen it all: Meatloaf and Ted Nugent, Celine Dion and R. Kelly and Jay Z with Linkin Park. Well, here’s one you haven’t heard. Mr. Lif, a hardcore East Coast rapper, is pairing up with Balkan brass group Brass Menazeri.

This unlikely partnership debuted last December at the first ever Seattle Folk Festival with great success, and with your support, they’ll be able to release a full album this fall. Here’s a little taste of their show in Seattle:

Known for his potently political lyricism, Boston-based Mr. Lif has been tearing it up since the mid-90′s. After several strong EP and album releases he formed The Perceptionists with good friends Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One. Now that he’s made a name for himself, he’s ready to experiment with a whole new kind of music: Balkan “gypsy” brass. Mr. Lif, in an interview with Kickstarter, talks about his fascination with horns. He’s attracted to their big sound, commanding drums and often odd metered rhythms. Brass Menazeri delivers exactly what he’s looking for in spades. These soulful San Franciscans play with a passion that ranges from gloomy despair to ecstatic hoopla. Mr. Lif appreciates the historical power behind their “gypsy” music as well. “I plan to speak from the heart on the humility and resilience brought about by hard times. I want to implore that intense spiritual growth can be sparked by listening closely to one’s instincts. What better music as a backdrop for this than the music of rebellion and liberation?” So, if you’re as curious as we are about this experiment, take a chance on these guys with a small donation.

Q&A With Foxy Shazam

You can try, but you probably can’t put an accurate label on Foxy Shazam. Their eccentric and eclectic mix of punk, soul and straight up rock ‘n’ roll has earned the band critical praise and performances at Lollapollooza, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Reading & Leeds. Following a summer tour with Hole and the release of their smash self-titled album, the band recently finished a two-month cross-country stint with Free Energy and is preparing for another huge year in 2011.

One might expect that outrageously energetic 24-year-old frontman Eric Nally lives an equally wild life. On the contrary—offstage, he is a soft-spoken, friendly father of two. We had the pleasure of speaking with Eric about touring memories, writing with Meat Loaf, modern day rock stars and what it’s like to lead a double life.

OS: You’ve just finished your fall tour with Free Energy. How were the shows and what were some of your favorite moments from the tour?

EN: We went to the UK for a week in between this tour and that was awesome. I loved that because we sold out London for the first time. It was big for me because we’re from Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s just really far from home. To sell a place out so far away is an awesome feeling; to bring your music to a different country and do that. I liked playing Montreal because Hollerado, the band that’s opening on this tour, is from there. All their crowd was out and it was just really fun.

OS: Foxy Shazam is well known for its incredible, off-the-wall performances. What inspires the band to become so theatrical on stage?

EN: I usually tell people, “that’s just the way we were born!” It’s just natural to us. We  don’t have to do any preparation or any pre-show rituals to summon these things on stage, they just come out naturally. It’s just the way we came out of our moms, I guess. When I’m on stage, I’m an entertainer…when I’m off stage, I’m a spectator. So I just kind of sit back and watch and soak everything in. When I go on stage, I let it all out.

OS: You’ve stated that Foxy Shazam are “not concerned with what category it falls into.” Do you often find that people are trying to fit you into a genre or compare you to other bands because they’re not sure where to place you?

EN: Yeah, that happens all the time. Anybody I ever meet that’s an artist…everybody wants to be themselves. But really, in the way that everything works now, it’s just what people have to do. I accept that. Everything needs to be compared to something else just so you can wrap your head around it easier, I guess. Either way, I don’t mind it, but people do try to compare or group us into a category. Every time it’s different, so it’s cool.

OS: You’ve said that you would never want to make the same record again and the evolution of the band’s music has certainly reflected that. How do you see Foxy Shazam’s music evolving in the future?

EN: I don’t know…every record we make kind of stands for where I am at that moment. I’d have to kind of be in the moment to understand, but that’s exciting for me. I really like not knowing. It’s kind of cool to not think about it and not prepare.

OS: In the song “Wannabe Angel” from your self-titled record, you sing, “For you I wear this mask, at home I take it off.” Is it difficult to transition between your life as a rock star and your life as a dad and husband?

EN: Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say with that. I feel like I’m a completely different person when I’m on stage. It’s kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing and that’s awesome to me. It’s like how actors do…entertainers, really. It’s just who I am. Being a dad compared to being a professional touring musician…it’s just the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I feel so different when I’m not on stage.

OS: Earlier this year, you helped write some songs for Meat Loaf’s album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. What was your role in the writing process? Would you be interested in writing for other artists again?

EN: Absolutely! I love being associated with people that have rich history in music and Meat Loaf is obviously one of those people. I just co-wrote two songs with Justin Hawkins who used to be in The Darkness—he’s one of my best friends now. It was just awesome. We went there together and we wrote together and sat with Meat Loaf. It was great, I made a lot of good friends through that whole experience.  A lot of the other writers that were there were a lot older and have done stuff like that before. That was something that I couldn’t believe I was experiencing so early in my career.

OS: Are there any artists in particular that you’d like to write for?

EN: I would love to, whether it’s writing or whatever, work with Cee-Lo Green sometime. I think he has the best voice in music right now. I think it’s just awesome, it hits me in the right spot. It’s the perfect voice for me. I’d love to work with him someday.

OS: Foxy Shazam was one of the first bands featured on ChatRoulette for album promotion, but you aren’t a huge proponent of bands using social media. Can you share your thoughts on that?

EN: I feel like the rock star is kind of a dying breed, we’re becoming extinct. You don’t seem them very much anymore. I think one of the most important things about what that persona was, was that you didn’t know them. It was almost like a mythical creature. People would gather backstage for hours just to catch a glimpse…and you don’t get that anymore. People know everything that everybody does because of Twitter and Facebook and they’re updating constantly. Everybody’s so human now, I guess, which is fine. That’s how it’s always been, everybody’s just a person. But I think there was this certain mysteriousness about the artist and that’s not really around anymore. So I kind of try to keep that going. I think it’s important to have people make their own stories about you rather than know the hard facts because chances are the hard facts are extremely boring (laughs).

OS: Foxy Shazam has recently announced some big touring plans for 2011. Can you tell us about the tours and festivals you’ll be playing next year?

EN: In January, we have a tour with Circa Survive. That will be awesome because I’ve heard their new record is great. I haven’t heard it but I’m really anxious to! I’ve heard a lot about that band and I know a lot of people who know them and they say they’re great guys and that’s really important to me, to share a tour with people that are nice. I’m really excited about that one, I think it will be awesome. Then we go to Australia [for the Soundwave Festival] in February and I’m really looking forward to it. I just love taking my music to different countries. I’ve never been to Australia, so it will be awesome. We have a bunch of days off in between the shows there so I’m going to do a lot of sight-seeing.

Check out this live video of Foxy Shazam performing “The Rocketeer” and don’t miss them on their upcoming tour dates, listed below!


Dec 16 Detroit, MI – Shelter
Dec 17 DeKalb, IL – House Cafe w/Victorian Halls & ‘Richardson’ Richardson
Dec 18 Minneapolis, MN – Popsickle Festival w/Motion City Soundtrack, Minus The Bear & more!
Dec 19 Kalamazoo, MI – The Strutt w/Their Teeth Will Be of Lions
Jan 14 Richmond, VA – The National w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 15 Charlotte, NC – Amos Southend w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 16 Ashville, NC – Orange Peel w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 18 St. Louis, MO – Pop’s w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 19 Omaha, NE – The Slowdown w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 20 Des Moines, IA – People’s Court w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 21 Grand Rapids, MO – Orbit Room w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 22 Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 24 Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 26 Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 28 Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 29 Albany, NY – Northern Lights w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 30 Allentown, PA – Crocodile Rock w/Circa Survive and Anberlin

Feb 26 Brisbane, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
Feb 27 Sydney, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 4 Melbourne, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 5 Adelaide, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 7 Perth, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!

The Great Adventure

Empathy

Jason and the Argonauts sailed to ancient kingdoms in quest of the Golden Fleece. Milo and Otis traipsed through the countryside to find their way home. Some odysseys span continents, others take place in the backyard. In the case of Kansas duo, Empathy, the journey takes about 5 minutes but the places you’ll go are innumerable. Comprised of 18-year-old Sean Morey and 17-year-old Ryan McAdoo, Empathy churns out epic, daedal piano pop odysseys featuring two pianos, two voices and an emotional heat that belies their young age. “Shades of Gray” has a cascading piano part that isn’t too far off from Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” “I want more than enough, more than just someone, more than love can afford.” It’s a big sentiment, but one delivered earnestly by McAdoo (who possesses a limber set of pipes). Sure, there are whiffs of theatre kid in the delivery, but the music is so engaging you don’t mind the precociousness. Falsetto harmonies, soaring pianos, odd time signatures and multi-part arrangements make McAdoo and Morey a combination of Ben Folds and Meatloaf. Give them a spin and enjoy the ivory odyssey.

 


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