A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Eye Empire

“I know that all of you are wondering, what happened to Submersed? Well, the answers is… A lot.. This business and struggle to make it took its toll on the members… Two weeks before “Price of Fame” was slated for release, Tj, Kelan and Justin decided to move on with their lives and left SubmerseD. Garrett and I believing in “Price of Fame” made the choice to press on and see what could happen. Well, nothing happened… the single never had a chance… mind bottling… The fact is, is that a majority of our fan base is unaccounted for due to Burning, making it impossible for the labels to understand just how many people really support us out there… When it comes down to it now, SubmerseD no longer has a place on Windup’s roster and will be dropped shortly… I was trying to wait until things were a little more official before an announcement but you guys and gals are smart and I felt you deserved an explanation now rather than later”

The above is what Donald Carpenter, the singer of SubmerseD put up in 2008 on their MySpace page. Some people call it a whiny rant, however the truth of the post is hidden in the words “making it impossible for the labels to understand just how many people really support” the band. Yep, while Wind Up Records focused on the old business model of CD sales or mp3 sales as a band’s popularity, they ended up failing their artists. Piracy is a black hole that the record labels like to put in their financial reports back to artists that if something doesn’t sell it must be piracy’s fault.

Go on YouTube. The song “Never Again” has had 351,372 views. An acoustic version of the band performing “Hollow” has been viewed 178,498 times. People were listening to the band. Maybe not in the way they hoped or wanted, but they were listening.

For those people who don’t know about SubmerseD. They band was signed to Wind Up Records. Mark Tremonti from Creed/Alter Bridge worked with them. Guitarist Eric Friedman was a key ingredient in the chemistry that made “In Due Time” such a good album however by the time their second album “Immortal Verses” came out, Friedman was gone and the band was dropped by Wind-Up Records after its failure.

So in 2009, Eye Empire is formed. It was a pseudo supergroup of members who had label deals with other bands. The foundations come from Dark New Day members Corey Lowery and B.C. Kochmit. Vocals came from Donald Carpenter. Drums came from a range of other musicians.

So they go the Independent route, self-releasing their music through their website in limited edition 1000 runs. That way they compile an email list of people interested in purchasing their music. YouTube became a promotional outlet. That is how I came across Eye Empire. Their clip of “I Pray” has had 147,120 views. The song “More Than Fate” has had 81,729 views on the Eye Empire VEVO account, 46,447 on the Eye Empire You Tube account, 41,694 on a user/fan account and 72,508 on the Submersed YouTube account. In total, that is 242,378 views.

The band was making inroads and I always say that success comes to the ones who outlast the competition. In this case, the version of Eye Empire that people started to adopt as the definitive band is no more. From when the release of Eye Empire’s second album “Evolve” came out in October 2013 to April 2014, Donald Carpenter, the very reason why I got into the band was out. Lowery, Kochmit and Bennett said in a statement that Carpenter was trying to reassemble a former band which to me means SubmerseD. Carpenter replied with a philosophical “Starting over is always hard but it’s not the first time and I am certain that it won’t be the last.”

The hardest part of change is actually making the decision to change. Once that decision is made then the rest is easy. In relation to Eye Empire, I can relate to the driven aspect of some members not being in sync with another band member.

In the early nineties, I was in a hard rock band that was out-of-place in the Industrial Alternative Nu-Metal wasteland between the years of 1996 and 1999. It was a three-piece band. The drummer wanted to be big as Pearl Jam but didn’t have the work ethic. The bass player/singer was happy playing the club circuit week in/week out as it was a stable income.

Each three-hour gig got us $150 each. We used to play three gigs a week. So $450 in the pocket each week was a good little additional income for me on top of my normal full-time job. However, the bass player/singer and the drummer didn’t have any jobs. So their cash income came on top of the unemployment benefits they received. So our lifestyles were very different. While I had a mortgage, they lived at home with their parents. So the work ethic between us was very different because of the different responsibilities we had.

I practiced my guitar playing each day. The drummer didn’t even practice. The only time he played the drums was at band practice and then live. The bass player always started the jam sessions/live performances sober and by the end was getting pretty tipsy. So again, the drive between us as musicians was different.

I was married and looking to start a family. The drummer was single, in and out of relationships. The singer was separated and had two kids to two different woman. So our personal lives brought different responsibilities to the table.

The song writing was like this. If I wrote a song, I would bring it in complete, with music and lyrics. If the bass player/singer wrote a song, he would bring it in complete. And we jammed them without any questions. So you can see where the arguments would come from later on.

And you get this in bands.

The different work ethics, the different drive of the individuals and the different expectations that they place on each other and the band.

And I am thinking that Carpenter’s definition of success and fame is over exaggerated or over inflated.

Shinedown is one of the biggest rock bands right now and they play two to five thousand seat arenas. Is that a bad thing. Of course not. Maybe if Donald Carpenter was the lead singer it would be a bad thing.

So what about the songs on “Evolve”?

“Beyond The Stars” and “Live Loud” are real good songs. The stand outs by far. “Within” is a good merge of their Sevendust influence along with Muse. “The War Isn’t Over Yet” is an aggressive piece of music. “The Man I Am” is very reminiscent to what Donald Carpenter did with SubmerseD and to be honest it brings back a memory of Deep Purple “Soldier Of Fortune” for some reason. “Don’t Look Back” is reminiscent of “Animosity” era Sevendust. Another quality track.

The other half of the album borders too much on Sevendust. Which is a shame as the potential is there, however it will remain unfulfilled.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Call Me – Shinedown

This song is a hit, however it was never released as an “official” single. How can that be? The fans have spoken. “Call Me” has racked up 12.83 million streams on Spotify and 11.2 million plays on YouTube. These are the numbers that matter. It is the most played/streamed song from Shinedown.

In a recent interview with the website “artistdirect”, Brent Smith, the vocalist from Shinedown was asked the question if they had played “Through The Ghost” live yet.

“We have not. We’ve actually been asked if we’re going to do that. “Call Me” also gets asked for quite a bit. It wasn’t a single, but it is asked for. There might be a possibility of adding a few songs.”

I can understand the reasons why the band is not playing the song, as it is deemed a ballad and probably not suited for the high energy show that Shinedown puts on, plus they already play a ballad in “Second Chance”. However based on the numbers above, it is a fan favourite.

When I first heard “Call Me”, I immediately thought of Tracy Chapman. The vocal style and the phrasing was the trigger. It is written by Brent Smith and Tony Battaglia.

Tony Battaglia is an interesting choice. He is a frequent colloborator with Shinedown and has also co-written songs for Puddle of Mudd and Submersed (a very underrated band that is sadly no more. Eye Empire has the vocalist and Creed has the original guitarist as its backing guitarist). He also played guitar and composed songs with the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. He was the vocalist in a band called BlackJack that goes back to 1978.

Having the additional song writer can be a double edged sword. The song could be clichéd or it could sound forced or it could lack personality. In this case, it works well. The song is perfect with as a piano/orchestra style song, as the vocal melody is so strong, it doesn’t need anything else.

Wrap me in a bolt of lightning
Send me on my way still smiling
Maybe that’s the way I should go,
Straight into the mouth of the unknown

If you have been addicted to something in your life, you would understand the bolt of lightning reference. You are charged up, electrified.

I left the spare key on the table
Never really thought I’d be able to say
I merely visit on the weekends
I lost my whole life and a dear friend

Coming into this album, Shinedown took 18 months to get it right. Brent Smith wanted “The Sound Of Madness” to be the record that would define him. You know the saying, that an artist gets their whole life to do their first record and then they are given about three months to do their second one.

That is what happened to Shinedown. The first album, “Leave a Whisper” took a lifetime and it achieved platinum status. The follow up “Us and Them” had all the writing, recording and everything else done in six months and it achieved gold status. While all of this “success” is happening, the main creative force behind Shinedown is getting burned. Two band members would leave before “The Sound Of Madness” was even started.

That is what you hear on the album and in the strained voice of Brent Smith. His experiences. This is what Rock Music got right once upon a time. It was about music that defined culture. Then came the dollar signs and that is where Rock Music has remained. Shinedown’s “The Sound of Madness” is a monster of an album on the same playing field as Motley Crue’s “Dr Feelgood” and Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

I’ve said it so many times
I would change my ways
No, nevermind
God knows I’ve tried

When Brent Smith decided he wanted no time limit for this album, he wasn’t looking for anything connected with money. He was looking for that raw and honest connection. The music became the vehicle for it. That is why songs like “If You Only Knew”, “Second Chance” and “Call Me” resonate with people. We have lived it and we have experienced something similar.

Call me a sinner, call me a saint
Tell me it’s over I’ll still love you the same
Call me your favorite, call me the worst
Tell me it’s over I don’t want you to hurt
It’s all that I can say. So, I’ll be on my way

Great music will last forever. Five years since “The Sound of Madness” was released, “Call Me” is still being played/streamed/viewed. “Call Me” wasn’t the hit song from the album, however it is the song from the album that will not be an obscure footnote in history.

I finally put it all together,
But nothing really lasts forever
I had to make a choice that was not mine,
I had to say goodbye for the last time

When you are at rock bottom, you find something to get you through. As much as people talk about support from family and friends, in the end if you don’t want to fix yourself, no one else can make you. Music is always there for you. There is a reason why Motley Crue didn’t give us “Dr Feelgood” as a debut album.

I kept my whole life in a suitcase,
Never really stayed in one place
Maybe that’s the way it should be,
You know I live my life like a gypsy

Are we settled in life? Are we happy with what we have in life? We always want something else, that when we are asked what we want, we answer back that we don’t know, but we know that we want something else.

Brent Smith broke down a lot of walls on “The Sound Of Madness.” It’s personal and as a fan it is an emotional roller coaster ride. It’s evolution through experiences.