Mike Meselsohn, drummer for the Brooklyn, NY-based rising hard rock/metal band Black Water Rising, recently took a moment out of his busy schedule to chat with me about the group and their newest release, Pissed And Driven. The convi went quite well and here’s what we discussed….
For those not familiar with Black Water Rising, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Mike: Rob Traynor was coming off his last band Dust To Dust when he went into his studio and wrote a bunch of new material that would become the seeds of Black Water Rising. These songs were more stripped down, bluesy and riff-oriented. I knew Rob from the scene when I had played in Boiler Room. Since my band had recently broken up, Rob called me to check out the new stuff which I loved and we immediately went into the studio to lay down drum tracks. We looked for a second guitar player and found John from Stereomud and he brought in our bass player Oddie. John has since left the band but that’s a brief history of how BWR started. We went on to release our self-titled debut album, did some touring, a couple of videos and radio singles later and here we are talking about our second album.
Your new album, Pissed And Driven, was released on August 13th. Now that it is complete are you satisfied with the way it turned out?
Mike: Yes! I feel we continued where we left off with the debut… we didn’t set out to change the formula because we liked the production of our debut and the songs are what created the BWR sound. We’re still playing down tuned bluesy riffs with melodic vocals and bashing drums. We added a little more production this time by using more vocal harmonies and a few extra guitar leads as well. Overall it’s another heavy rock album with our signature sound.
Check out the song “Last Man Standing”
Do you guys write with the live setting in mind or do you write songs just for the songs sake?
Mike: Rob usually makes demos of the tunes and then presents them to the band. Once we decide to do the song, we each contribute our personal musical style to it which creates the overall sound. The main thing is to write a good song, but I’m pretty sure Rob writes what comes naturally without thinking of the live show. We are definitely more of a live band and try hard to capture the energy of our music on records but our sound is best experienced with a cranked up Marshall amp, booming bass, pounding drums and a bunch of screaming fans feeling the live energy.
Are there any tracks on Pissed And Driven that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Mike: That’s a difficult question because you put so much into each one and they’re all different in their own way… all of the songs on this album have a character and personality all their own and I truly like them all. That said, I would pick “Along For The Ride” because of the trippy feel and lyrically it’s about doing your best in life even though it’s hard sometimes. You just have to enjoy the ride and make the most of every day! I also like “Show No Mercy” because it kicks the album off with a take-no-prisoner’s attitude and musically it’s a jolt of hard rock to let people know BWR is back! It’s a song of empowerment about not letting anyone hold you back from accomplishing your goals in life. Lastly I would say “Last Man Standing” because of the message that affects everyone in the world and that is the unfortunate human condition of war and the eventual self destruction of man as a species. The song also has an epic riff, a souring chorus and a middle section that’s heavier than anything we’ve ever done!
You guys are politically and socially consciousness, with that being said what message do you want your fans to walk away with after listening to the disc?
Mike: Rob writes about the world around us and that generally translates to politics, religion, war and basically the struggle of the common man. We try to give a voice to the people and most of our songs have a positive message that empowers without being preachy. Our band philosophy is simple. Riffs and rants written from the point of view of your average middle class worker fighting the day to day grind and reporting on it. Black Water Rising’s music is bad-ass blue collar rock and we’re proud of it!
What is the meaning behind the name of the disc? What are you pissed about? What drives you?
Mike: Pissed And Driven is a play on words. As in Piston Driven, like a screaming engine and this band is indeed pissed and driven. Driven to do what we love and get a message out there despite the many obstacles we face on a daily basis. The current state of things in the world can piss anybody off… just look around, watch the news and get angry. The happenings in this crazy world give us a reason to speak our minds and enable us to use our music as a voice to express these opinions to hopefully inspire others.
Check out the song “No Halos”
What kind of touring plans do you have in support of Pissed And Driven?
Mike: We’re working on putting together a US tour first and then we’d like to head over to Europe as well so hopefully we’ll be announcing tour dates very soon. It’s especially important for rock bands to get on the road to support a record as radio play is getting harder to receive and not always the best way to make and keep fans.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 discs with you for the rest of your life, assuming there was a solar powered CD player on the island, what would they be?
Mike: That’s almost impossible to answer… isn’t it usually 5 or 10 discs? I suppose I’d have to take a Beatles album so probably Sgt. Pepper because it’s a modern masterpiece and has so much going on musically. Next I would say Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon much for the same reason, but it’s a little more chill. Lastly I would want something heavier so I’d probably go with Led Zeppelin IV. It’s the archetype for hard rock drumming and an all around amazing record.
What is next for Black Water Rising?
Mike: Our plan is to release the new album, get out there on tour, make a video or two and continue building BWR one brick at a time. We’re a grass roots type of band and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Check out the song “Show No Mercy”