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Halestorm Interview with Guitarist Joe Hottinger on the Band’s Early Days and Evolution

Halestorm could be considered one of Rock’s next generation of legends.

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Halestorm, photo by Jimmy Fontaine
Halestorm, photo by Jimmy Fontaine

Halestorm could be considered one of Rock’s next generation of legends. Each record the band has put out has built on what has come before, ensuring that fans are never disappointed. Although massively popular, it was their fourth album, Vicious (read our review), that catapulted them into the stratosphere. Guitarist and all-around nice guy Joe Hottinger reminisced on the band’s rise, milestones in their career that kept them on track, and the origins of the group’s first ballad, “Here’s to Us.”

Now writing their follow-up to Back From the Dead (Atlantic Records), Halestorm is ready to keep moving forward and deliver more music, more good times, and more outstanding live shows that are just going to get bigger, better and louder, all while remaining humbled by their fans.

It’s a real pleasure to finally chat to you. I was hoping to speak to you at Download Festival earlier this year, but traffic prohibited that. We were stuck waiting to get in for a very long time.

First of all, how are you, sir? How are you feeling now that the touring is I suppose, at an end?

Joe Hottinger: “Yeah, the album cycle’s over. I don’t know! It’s the third day back from this tour and this album cycle and my body’s still like slowly shutting down. It always gives up at the end, but I feel fine. I’m getting up way too early, but that’s just jet lag and that’s ok I suppose to enjoy some mornings.”

Well sadly for me I wake up automatically really early whether I want to or not but I suppose I get the best out of the day.

“Yeah, absolutely.”

Now if it’s alright with you I actually wanted to delve a little bit into the past to start with, rather than looking to the future because the show you just did at Wembley on Saturday night, that’s possibly the biggest one you’ve done in the UK, or at least headlining the UK bar festivals.

I wanted to dive into the past a little bit and just sort of get a sense of how things moved forward, any specific moments in your career where you sort of started twigging on, things could be happening for the band for yourself, if that if that’s alright?

“Yeah. You know, that’s funny, we were talking about that. We’re just doing the same thing we’ve always done since we were playing bars in Pennsylvania. It’s just trying to make people go ‘woo,’ and play. We have our standards for what we think a live show should be like and what we try to do individually to live up to them.

“It’s kind of the same as it’s always been, but it is wild to see everything around us changing. The big one was getting nominated for a Grammy the first time and winning it. We didn’t even know we were on anyone’s radar.

“We were just trucking along, and it was cool. Headlining, our first arena in the States and Nottingham in 2019, which was our biggest show until last summer. In 2022 we had, I think Detroit, we were outside of Detroit, Michigan, and then they broke that record. Now, Wembley is our biggest show we’ve ever headlined.

“So, it’s still going up somehow 20 years later, our career is like this. It’s like flap, and then you’re just like, ‘Oh, there we go. There’s the angle.’ I think we’re lucky. You see some bands, they just get so big, so fast, and you’re just like, Eek! God! There’s a lot of G’s pulling when you get stratospheric on your first album, and then a lot of expectations that are really hard to maintain, I can imagine.

“I don’t know, but I imagine.”

Halestorm ‘Vicious’ album artwork

Halestorm ‘Vicious’ album artwork

Well, you joined back in, I think, 2003. You joined Arejay and Lzzy, and then Josh joined just a year later, and you’ve been pretty much a coherent unit since then.

I think your first self-titled album was in 2009? Now, when you first got signed, I think that was in 2005 to Atlantic Records, was that a moment in time when you thought, is something kicking off here? Is this something that could actually be a career rather than be the struggling musician that I know a lot of people face?

“You know the record deal is like such a tiny step in the whole thing. You don’t know that at the time, of course. It’s neat to be like, hey, this big company wants us. We were just dumb, broke kids and signed our lives away. You don’t know any better. Also, what else are you going to do?

“We didn’t know how to put a record out. We didn’t know how to make a record. And we didn’t have connections to anybody. All we’ve done is make the best decisions. We got signed and we were out in LA kind of working on songs and trying to get a record going and talking to friends back home and I was always like, we’ll see!

“I don’t know what’s going to happen because you get signed, but then you have to get the first record out. So many bands get stuck in the matrix. I just learned this term from someone, I forget who told us. There’s something called the matrix that, I’m sure it still happens, but I’ve heard about it from a bunch of bands where they would get signed, make a record, then the label’s like, ‘Nah,’ or there was some disagreement between the band, the label, or who knows what.

“The label changes, presidents and the whole staff changes, and the record hasn’t been put out yet, and you get it put in the matrix where they won’t let you out of your deal and they won’t release your record, so you can’t do anything. It’s happened to a bunch of people I know. So, it was like, cool! We got signed! Now we got to get a record out.

“We don’t know how the studio works, so we’re kind of learning. We’ve always just learned as we went. We got lucky. Well, it’s kind of where ‘Here’s to Us’ came from. Because there were so many setbacks along the way, trying to get the first record out, and when our A&R guy lost his job, we were like, ‘Oh, great!’ We’d go buy the 5 dollar bottle of champagne at the corner store, and well, here’s us! Here we go.

“You can always go back to Pennsylvania and like play shows for a living like we were doing, because now we weren’t making any money. We were in LA, like stuck there, not playing shows and trying to get a record together. Well, I can always go home, but we ended up staying out there and got a new A&R guy who was kind of independent and really worked with us hard. Then he got kind of hired by the label. So, we were his first release. We’re like, sweet, the record is going to come out. We’re not going into the matrix.

“So that was a big thing just to get it out. The first song did really well, went like Top 10 at Rock Radio in America anyway, which is crazy for us at the time when radio had way more power. Radio still does good, but back then it was awesome. We were like, holy shit!

“Then we got on tours, and we were just trucking. We still haven’t stopped!”

So, it sounded like it was a bit of a bit of a rollercoaster ride getting that first record out, but when it did come out, was there a particular moment in time when you had a personal revelation? When the band was going to be successful, when you stepped back and went wow! This is something. This is actually going to be something.

“No, we didn’t make any money on that album. I know we recouped, and we busted our butts selling them, I remember selling the first 100,000 of them. I came up to Hartford, Connecticut, this show, it was a Webster Theatre and they’re like, you’ve gone cake and brought us a cake with our album picture on it. Instead of going gold or platinum, I’m like, ‘hey, we’ve gone cake.’ We’re like, sweet! It takes a while of accumulating things, and we still have a long way to go.

“It turns out you never run out of dreams, and there’s always the next thing, where you’re like, cool, we sold out Wembley, let’s do a whole arena tour and see if we can sell that out. Well what about the O2, let’s start moving up some festivals and let’s see what happens. There’s always more to work for which is the fun of it.”

You mentioned headlining the festivals because you played Download last year on the main stage, but it was 2022 you headlined the second stage if I remember correctly. What was that like being asked to headline? Ok, not the main stage, but still one of the big stages!

“You know the UK has always been so good to us and Live Nation, those guys have always kind of walked us the whole way, been there with us on every tour and sold out most of them which is awesome. They know what they’re doing the adults up there, we just try to show up and put on a show. I mean, it’s awesome.

“It’s always an honour, especially like this last show is just like crazy. Like, you think it’s going to work? I don’t know. We’ll see, fuck it, let’s roll the dice. I’m confident that we can put on a good show. I mean, Lzzy Hale is singing so, all is good. All we got to do is try not to suck.”

I can certainly say you guys don’t suck. I mean during the show, I had my nose in my phone making notes while my partner stood next to me just cheering away, so yeah, you definitely did not suck!

Now, as I mentioned, the early days when you first joined the band, what was it like meeting Lzzy and Arejay for the first time? What was, I suppose the dynamic, what drew you guys together and you guys having the realization, we can be a band, we can work together?

“Yeah, it was cool. I met Lzzy and I was like, your voice is neat, talking to her and we quickly realized that she was like the only person I’d ever met at that point that kind of had the same ideas I had. Like, no, we can do this. I don’t know what this is, but we don’t need to get a regular job, your voice is good enough. Let’s just start gigging and Arejay was like 14 or 15 when I met him, and he was just like bouncing off the walls.

“He was just energy bomb teenage kid, quoting movies and running off. Oh my God, you behind the kit and slay, he’s always been deadly. He’s such a showman and he hasn’t changed. He’s just a big kid and in the best way. We were sitting with Lzzy and her parents, they were kids and her parents were involved and they had like shows booked, but they were trying to piece of band together.

“I remember the first show I played with them it was like a few weeks after I joined them and auditioned, and it was up in like Shamokin, Pennsylvania at some Rock the Block local band festival. It was cool. There was a few thousand people there. It was neat, and we just kept going.

“I remember going to see Lzzy, she was waiting tables at some restaurant, and I was like, you don’t need to do this. She was terrible at it anyway. She didn’t know how to pour a beer. I was like, fuck this, man.

“I just found a list. We were getting a renovation done. We have boxes everywhere. I found this like notebook, a list of like all the bars in a 50-mile radius We called every single one of them, crossed them out if they didn’t do music. If they did, we get the name of the person, talk to them, take them a tape.

“Within a month or two, we were working most nights of the week doing acoustic. Her and I would do like these four-hour acoustic shows for like 75 bucks. Because you know, that’s a good night. Fuck it. All I had to do is pay my rent back in Philly. We’d bring PA, just two of us set up and then on the weekends we had full band gigs and I think the band did like 1,500 shows before we got signed. We were playing and playing and playing some more.

“You do learn how to put on a show and how to make people go woo at a bar, a bunch of people that aren’t listening to you and they aren’t there to listen to you and honestly, you’re probably kind of fucking annoying because you’re interrupting their conversation. So, we learned how to make them look and turn one gig into more and more gigs into that gig. It was cool and it’s what we’ve been doing ever since same thing just kind of making people look!”

So, what drove you towards music? Deciding you wanted to be in a band essentially, because I mean, anyone can go out and do their 9 to 5 job and just coast by. What was your drive to avoid that kind of life?

“Isn’t it weird? I don’t know what it is, I heard rock n’ roll on the radio when I was 10, 11 years old. I had always heard it, classic rock especially. It was always being played. So, it was always in my brain, but I had never listened to it before.

“I remember listening to it for the first time. I think it was like Nirvana on the radio. I don’t know what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but I had to play guitar about it. I didn’t know why, but I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ I got it. I need a guitar. How do you do it? It made total sense to me. I was like, ‘yeah, there’s shapes here, that’s how it works.’

“I remember conquering the F chord and I was like, ‘Oh, sweet, I can play. It smells like teen spirit now!’ Then, just started a band right away in high school and I just wanted to go play. I wanted to play shows, and it felt good playing shows. It still feels good. It’s still my favourite thing in the world. I don’t know why, I don’t know why I got so single minded about it, but it’s what I had to do. It’s weird!”

No, that makes perfect sense. You know if I had any musical talent whatsoever, maybe I would have started a band, but I tried to play the guitar and unfortunately, unlike you, even my “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” just sounded like I destroyed a classic children’s rhyme. So, I started doing this sort of thing instead.

“That was brutal!”

Oh no, it was terrible! Now, how do you feel Halestorm’s actually evolved over the years from those early days to this big stadium level?

“We’ve gotten better! We’ve gotten better at listening to each other and improvising and we’re doing it the same way we did when we were a bar band.

“It’s just the four of us making noise and we don’t have a click track or backtrack, I don’t think we could do that. I don’t think we’re capable of it, but that was happening. I don’t know what we would do. We’d probably just stand there kind of paralyzed, trying to play along to it. I don’t, you know, like being in the studio on a clip track overanalyzing. To me, the show is about an energy exchange and a flow and it’s fluid. It’s not this, here’s the music to the crowd, whether you like it or not, it’s coming at you like this. No matter your vibe, you’re getting this one, here’s a vibe. Cool! Ok, it’s cool. Let’s ride it together. Then we have quite a few improv bits.

“That’s my favourite thing in the world. It’s a full-on mental game of like tapping into like nothingness and right the fuck now, not think about this. You can’t think about anything else right now, you start writing. I’ve never surfed, but I imagine something kind of like that, where try to catch a wave and try to make a little moment happen and tell a story and have a conversation and develop and not get too long in the tooth and not get too boring, but tell the story and then get out with some dignity.

“I love it. It’s such a ride. Because it doesn’t always work out. That’s always like, ah, I did not get into the zone tonight and that’s a bummer.”

Halestorm ‘Back from the Dead’ album artwork

Halestorm ‘Back from the Dead’ album artwork

Well, I’d say you’re definitely in the zone, all the four of you were like on Saturday night.

So obviously you guys are big now, you are huge. Did you ever find any of the fame that came with that a bit of a challenge? When people started first running up to you asking for your autograph or something like that. I’m imagining that still happens to famous people or is it just the selfies now?

“No, that stuff happens. It’s mostly Lzzy, and Arejay definitely gets some. People are nice, it’s nothing unmanageable. Only occasional death threats for whatever the fuck reason, but nothing too scary. People are generally very, very kind and especially Lzzy, she’s at like a good fame level right now.

“Nobody really cares and a few people will come up and say hi, but otherwise it’s nothing much. We still go out and do whatever we want.”

So, it’s the death threat thing that got me. I mean, is it like someone saying, “you didn’t play this song at the show, I’m going to kill you” or something like that?

“It’s been a little while. It was usually from girls that thought they were in a relationship with Lzzy that she had never met before. It’s just people that are mentally ill get a little strange sometimes, and that’s ok. I feel bad for them and hopefully they’ve gotten some help.”

Well, let’s hope!

I have to ask, obviously, you’ve had quite a long career now, have you ever had any really memorable encounters, maybe meeting one of your idols, playing with them, something that almost felt a little bit surreal to you when it was in the moment?

“Yeah, we’ve had a few. We got to open up for Heaven and Hell, It was Ronnie James Dio’s last show ever in Atlantic City. That was really cool. He was such a sweetheart and obviously nobody knew that that was going to be his last show. I met all the Black Sabbath dudes and Ronnie, they were just so sweet to us.

Geezer Butler’s book came out and he mentions us in there. He mentions that night where they were watching us and he’s like, we were watching this band, Halestorm, and talking about how he wanted to bring them out on tour because he thought they were great. I was like, oh, how cool is that? Fucking Geezer Butler just name dropped us in his book! Awesome! There’s been a few, I know at Download (Festival) this year, we were playing, and James (Hetfield) and Lars (Ulrich) were watching from the side. And I was like, fuck, that’s cool!

“I don’t think we’ve met him. We’d remember that, but we will one of these days. We toured with Alice Cooper, That was a trip. He’s such a sweetheart and his whole band is so awesome. There’s just been a bunch of that shit. I’d have to go back and look and be like, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.’”

It’s funny you mentioned touring with Alice Cooper because the things I’ve seen about him I just imagine he’s actually like that scene from Wayne’s World where they meet him and he’s just really like well-spoken and nothing like what his persona.

“He’s the best. He’s hilarious. Yeah, he’s exactly, you know, ‘well, actually it’s a mill-e-wah-que.’

“He’s the best, and his wife is great, and Calico, his daughter, we had so much fun on that one and do it again in an instant. It’s crazy, that was Lzzy’s hero growing up too, so it was just great. She’d go out and do ‘School’s Out’ every night with him. Then he’s like, ‘you guys come out and play too.’ I’m like, ok, fuck it. I screwed up so hard the first time, everyone’s looking at me. I’m like, ‘sorry, can’t hear.’”

So, you’ve played with some really amazing people, but if you actually had the opportunity to play with anyone, living, dead, active, retired, who would it be and why would you pick them?

“Oh, man, that’s a good question. Well, living, we still haven’t done any shows with the Foo Fighters, which is kind of crazy. We’ve been bouncing around the same circles for so many years. We’ve met Dave (Grohl) a few times, but still haven’t played with him. One of these days.

“I know they didn’t have openers but think about being on a festival with Led Zeppelin and just getting to check that shit out. In their prime that would have been insane, you know, those are my two.”

I will say please, please, please, if you do play with the Foo Fighters, if that ever happens, please come to the UK for that one! That would be an absolute dream for me. Obviously trying to get tickets will be a mission but I would make it happen somehow!

“Come on Dave, let’s do it!”

Reach out to him I mean, why not. I’d love to see that. I really would.

Now obviously you’re at the end of the cycle as you said, with touring your last record and so on. Now you’ve got a bit of downtime. What is your downtime like? Do you have a rock star life or is it just no, I’m switching off now, because I hear that a lot from people I interview.

“We’re trying to switch off. Lzzy had a signing yesterday because her new guitar came out. So, we were there and we’re doing interviews today, she’s got some going right now and we have to go to the radio station on Friday and we have a signing for our whiskey that came out on Saturday.

“So, it’s not really stopping yet, but in January, we’re writing the whole month and February we’re writing. We have that Knotfest in Australia in March, then hopefully finishing up a record after that. We’re already halfway done. We’ve recorded a bunch, written a bunch. That doesn’t mean it’s going to make it a record, but they sound good to me. We still have work to do on them all, but we got a good start on them and we’re going to have a whole bunch more songs to do that to in the spring, so it’s not stopping.

“Touring is easy, you just wake up and get to play a rock show at night, do a few things beforehand, schedules, all laid out. This is the hustle time where it’s like, all right, what are we trying to make? You got to visualize the concept and the idea and the thing. For us, it’s never like, I know exactly what we’re doing, let’s do it.

“It’s more like you’re fishing, it’s like writing songs and writing until you have one, like, there it is. That’s the feeling. That’s what we needed. Now let’s focus on building it around that. I don’t know if we have that yet. Maybe. I don’t know. I got to listen back. I’m not thinking about that yet until that starts.”

That sounds like a next year problem if I’m honest, doesn’t it?

“Yeah, exactly.

Now you’ve piqued my interest, and I’ll be watching like, incessantly, just trying to wait for a new record from you guys, because the last two, absolutely fantastic. I remember listening to Vicious for the first time and just felt like this is the breakthrough for you guys.

Did that feel like that to you with that album?

“I mean, so far, that’s been like the record where we captured ourselves the most. All I mean by that is that we wrote most of that sitting in a little room at Nick’s (Raskulinecz) studio, just jamming it out and kind of went with that. We did some writing with some other folks, which is always fun.

“To me, it’s like, may the best song win. If it’s a good song, great. Songs are the ticket. This new one’s been fun. We were working with a new producer and went in there. He’s got a house we all moved into for three weeks and wake up, what are we writing today? I don’t know. Let’s go and just dive in and we’re not making demos, we’re just recording and writing and recording and wake up and write and then record it and wake up and write and record. It’s a blast! When your head gets in the thing, it’s like, you just start going faster and faster and then you’re just in the zone like knocking stuff out.

“We had maybe a concept or a few titles or a riff here and there, but nothing really. We’ve just been busting our ass on this album cycle and didn’t put shit together.

“We went in with nothing but the shirt on our back and like 20 years of being in a band and doing this shit. So, we can latch right in once we grab onto it. We’re off, you know, it’s fun.”

Now, the last thing I really want to ask you now is, we’re at the end of the year, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. What would your New Year’s resolution be that you’re going to break immediately?

“I need to get on a better practice regimen. I don’t do good, especially when I’m home. I’ll sit there and write and stuff, but one of my goals is to work it like exercise. Just spend 20 minutes to half an hour. That’s all you need. Keep up the chops. Because like by the end of the tour, like a Saturday, like my fingers are flowing, my ideas come out, but it always takes a week or two to get in, but once kind of wears off in the muscle, the muscle deteriorates so fast, you know, it takes like a week or two to build it back up to do the thing! Don’t get tired!

“So, I’m going to keep my chops up. Like so many guitarists are so good. The great ones, they play every day. A lot of times I don’t play every day. I get distracted or I’ll go take pictures or print something, you know, do some of my other hobbies, but that’s one of my goals. Keep the chops up.”

I said that was going to be my last question, but now you’ve intrigued me. Last question, I promise, and I’ll release you. What are some of your other hobbies? What keeps Joe entertained and occupied during his downtime?

“I love photography and I take a lot of pictures and collect cameras and shoot all sorts of shit for fun.

“My friends around town, I just put an album cover together for these guys, which is fun. I’ve done some press photos for some guys; some other bands just because it’s fun. I got no skin in the game. I’m not trying to be a professional photographer in any, I just enjoy it and I have some neat cameras. It’s like, cameras and guitars.

“When we’re on the road, I go to camera shops, and I go to guitar stores and try not to buy anything. Try.”

Well, I want to thank you so much for chatting to us today, Joe. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I want to thank you again for an exceptional show on Saturday night. It was entertaining. Tell Arejay to keep up that thing with those giant drumsticks. It never gets boring. I absolutely love it.

“He can’t not do it as a show. I think he tried once, and people started chanting big stakes. Thanks, man. I appreciate you taking the time.”

No, I appreciate your time.

“Thank you so much and have a good Christmas and New Year, sir.”

Alternative/Rock

Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.

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Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024
Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.

The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.

Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

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Alternative/Rock

L.A. Edwards Tease ‘Pie Town’ Album with “Good Luck” Single

L.A. Edwards returns with their new single “Good Luck” and word of a new album ahead of their tour with Lucinda Williams next week.

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L.A. Edwards, photo by Jay Fisher
L.A. Edwards, photo by Jay Fisher

Luke Edwards and his band of brothers, L.A. Edwards, return with their new single, “Good Luck,” ahead of a European tour with Lucinda Williams next week. The Californian family band has also just finished recording their fourth record, titled Pie Town, to be released on July 5th, 2024. The new single “Good Luck” reflects on recent difficult times with family.

Luke Edwards states:

Pie Town is the next step down the Heartland trail for us – it’s a collection of songs about my experiences over the past few years addressing the reticence to “grow up” and all the bulls**t that comes with that loss of innocence. Recorded here in Seattle, it reflects our most expansive and explorative instrumentation. I’m excited for this album, stay young my friends.”

Luke Edwards says of the new single:

“This song is a go-fuck yourself song about someone you still care about. There’s so few lyrics in it, I was hoping to let the melody do the talking and to allow space for interpretation for the listener. But for me, it’s about when you say, “Good Luck with that” as you wave goodbye and close the door.”

The new album will be released on July 5th, 2024, worldwide by Bitchin’ Music Group via The Orchard and Mars Label Group in Europe.

Catch L.A. Edwards play their new single with Lucinda Williams on the below UK & European dates, tickets for which are available at https://www.laedwards.net/.

L.A. Edwards “Good Luck” single artwork

L.A. Edwards “Good Luck” single artwork

Tour Dates:

Thu 29 Feb – London, UK
Fri 01 Mar – Birmingham, UK
Sat 02 Mar – Holmfirth, W Yorkshire, UK
Mon 04 Mar – Amsterdam, NL
Tue 05 Mar – Hamburg, DE
Wed 06 Mar – Berlin, DE
Fri 08 Mar – Köln, DE
Sat 09 Mar – Paris, FR
Mon 11 Mar – Munich, DE
Tue 12 Mar – Vienna, AT
Thurs 14 Mar – Bern, SW
Friday 15 Mar – Chiari, Italy

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Album News

Plutocracy Planet Announces Debut LP for Summer 2024

Born of the pandemic shutdown, Plutocracy Planet is an experimental sociopolitical super-collective led by Scott Morrow.

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Scott Morrow aka Plutocracy Planet
Scott Morrow aka Plutocracy Planet

Born of the pandemic shutdown and mobilized by the world’s societal ills, Plutocracy Planet is an experimental sociopolitical super-collective led by former Alarm Magazine editor and musical vagrant Scott Morrow.

Fusing post-hardcore sensibilities with electronics, polyrhythms, atypical time signatures, and a far-reaching instrumental palette including strings, saxophone, piano, harp, marimba, acoustic guitar, and more. The ambitious collaborative project utilizes the talents of more than two dozen venerable vocalists and instrumentalists across hardcore, hip-hop, emo, avant-garde composition, pop, and more.

Greed, inequality, and the endless influence of money in politics serve as the project’s thematic focal points. But between a broad-minded approach and a coalition of lyrical voices, the collective’s forthcoming debut LP also touches on the cult of personality, fear-mongering media, police brutality, toxic masculinity, religious zealotry, factory farming, the billionaire space race, and the singularity.

Lead single “This Very Severity,” whose music video premiered at BrooklynVegan and is out now on DSPs, features emo legend Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes, The City on Film) playing a slowly unravelling news anchor, relaying stories of our current fractured reality and an increasingly dystopian future.

Nanna says:

“I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute to the record as I usually don’t dabble in this genre or subject matter too much, and now I think I should way more often. Being able to collaborate on cool, important projects is something that brings me great joy, so being a part of this record was a tremendous pleasure. Please disregard my lack of dress pants in the video.”

Joining Nanna on “This Very Severity” are a pair of instrumental phenoms, guitarist Jason Schimmel (Red Fiction, Estradasphere, Secret Chiefs 3) and bassist Jonathan Hischke (The Sound of Animals Fighting, Le Butcherettes, Hella, Anywhere).

Morrow says:

“It’s unbelievable to me that I get to work with the people on this album. I’ve been a fan—in many cases a super fan—of many of them for 20 to 25 years. It’s a mind-blowing honor that they said yes, and I still don’t really know how the hell I convinced them .”

Plutocracy Planet ‘Plutocracy Planet’ album artwork

Plutocracy Planet ‘Plutocracy Planet’ album artwork

Plutocracy Planet Track Listing:

1. Prologue
2. This Very Severity (f. Bob Nanna)
3. But You Said (f. onelinedrawing)
4. A Simple Refrain (f. Matt Pryor & Swamburger)
5. Commence Mutation (f. Carson Pace)
6. Slaughterhouse Soliloquy (f. Swamburger & Drumcorps)
7. War? (f. Rody Walker)
8. True Crime (f. Angela Mullenhour)
9. Hours and Hours (Work Harder, Not Smarter) (f. Mark Rose)
10. Dance of the Downtrodden (f. Carla Kihlstedt, Nils Frykdahl & Jørgen Munkeby)
11. Remain Silent (f. Emily Jane White, Blueprint & Bruce Lamont)
12. Epilogue

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