Monday, March 21, 2011


I'm planning on writing a more in depth story about this later, but I wanted to put something out now just to (hopefully) get a few people excited. Despite the fact that Backlash is "officially" broken up, the band is releasing a final album of original material (and by original, I mean manifestly different from anything you've heard from them before - if you're a Backlash fan you will be surprised by this album, to say the least, and if you're not a Backlash fan you probably will be if you buy this album) titled Circling the Drain which will be out in a few weeks. Singer/guitarist Shawn Ames says that the band is done after this and that they almost definitely will not play this album live, which is unfortunate because, well, of every local band I've seen/talked to or whatever in the last year, Backlash seems to be doing the most interesting stuff.

Backlash, of course, has always been known for being a straight ahead rock and roll band. While they have dabbled with piano based balladry in the past, the bread and butter of the band has been balls to the wall rockers like "Bad Monster" - songs about drinking beer and rockin' out - songs that they thought their fan base wanted to hear. But the new album sees the band branching out and finally resorting to exploring their own interests. In my conversations with Ames, both for this story and personally, there was a strange sparkle in his eye as he talked about the album coming together. He continually mentioned The Beatles as a major influence on the album and Ames later said that the vocal harmonies on the new album are "pretty reminiscent" of Abbey Road. Ultimately he likens Circling the Drain to Backlash's version Sgt Peppers. As a result, though Ames says that the band has maintained their standard influences like The Who and Alice Cooper, the band has begun to explore other areas of influence that are not usually associated with your common bar band.

"We've completely gone over the edge with this stuff," says Ames. "The new album starts out as straight up the middle Backlash. Then it gets into stuff that sounds like we went into Pakistan or we went down to New Orleans. It's insane!"

Also, this is the first Backlash album to be created with only current material.

"This is the first record that Brian and I didn't cull from old material," says Ames. "We didn't go to something that I wrote five or six years ago. All of this is from October 2010 to literally this last Saturday (note: this interview was done on March 3, 2011). There's a lot that I did just this last Saturday that creeped the hell out of me. I don't know where it came from but it's creepy."

About the recording of the album, Ames insists "it's just like a regular band". Songs were written and presented to the other band members and no one said "that sucks" so Ames went with them. The songs are a mix of straight ahead Backlash style rockers with titles like "My Old School (Wants to Kick Your New School in the Ass)", to "Shake It" an infectious acoustic rocker done "completely on the fly" with a riff that "came out of nowhere", according to Ames. "Circling the Drain" is a fucked up Willy Wonka boat ride sort of experiment that will make your skin crawl, and the five layers of vocal harmonies that backbone "The Quiet Life" will make you realize why rock and roll was once important.

But it is the twists and turns in this new album that will make it worthwhile listening. "Cheap Thirlls" is an epic song that breaks from a straight ahead rock and roll song into a miasma of psychedelic exploration reminiscent of Pink Floyd. And the masterpiece of the album, "A Deeper Understanding", which Ames describes as "his baby" will blow your mind. It's full of backwards guitars, sitars and shit like that, and the breakdown of the song is like the sun bursting over the trees at dawn.

"It's about as un-Backlash as you can get," says Ames. "There's just too much stuff on here that separates us from every other band in this town."

Check it out, when it comes out, April 29th, 2011. Here is their Myspace.

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