Alice Cooper: Our Christmas Is More Ozzie Nelson Than Ozzy Osbourne

Solid Rock
Alice Cooper wishes you a very metal Christmas.
From blasting "Schools Out" during my teenage wasteland days to jamming out to the chugging guitar in "Under My Wheels" in my office, Alice Cooper has always played a prominent position in my heavy metal playlist.

Not only did he help shape the sound and look of heavy metal with his horror and vaudeville imagery as rock and roll's first villain. By the time Cooper was 18, it was the sexual revolution and Vietnam, and the band's best friends were The Mothers of Invention, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix.

He toured with Pink Floyd and once awoke to find Syd Barrett staring at a box of corn flakes like he was watching television, laughing, to which the shock-rocker comments: "He was a paranoid schizophrenic. Add acid to the mix and you get a much deeper problem."

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Tech N9ne: "The Beats Tell Me What To Do"

Kansas City's Aaron Dontez Yates has dipped his hands into both the worlds of hip-hop and rock 'n' roll, sold more than one million albums, founded a record label, and been featured in a ton of video games and films--including the upcoming sequel to the huge underground cult hit Devil's Carnival. Recently, he recorded tracks with musicians like Serj Tankian, Wiz Khalifa and even one with the three remaining members of The Doors.

You might be surprised you haven't heard of him--but it could just be that the name you know him by is the one derived from the TEC-9 handgun, given to him by a friend who said it represented his fast Chopper-style rhyming method.

But that's not the only style Tech N9ne is known for. He's influenced by everything from old school hip hop (Slick Rick, N.W.A., Biggie Smalls) to classic rock (Pink Floyd, Elton John, AC/DC) to heavy metal (Metallica, Slipknot, System of a Down). He is able to balance indie and mainstream music, and his lyrics are etched with distinctive imagery that spans the horrific, the sexually provocative, and the beautiful.

Up On The Sun talked with Tech N9ne about working with the Doors, his favorite horror films (including his upcoming project), and writing about Earth, Wind and Fire.

Tech N9ne is playing at The Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Wednesday, September 18.

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City in the Sea: Below the Noise "Is about the Struggles and Stories of Life"

City in the Sea press
Last summer, local metal band City in the Sea was included in our list of 10 Bands You Need to See This Summer. Since then, the five-piece band has been scooped up by Sumerian Records, and toured the country incessantly, including a spot on the epic production that is known as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour.

They also recorded their debut album, Below The Noise, which is dropping today, August 20.

Up On The Sun talked with vocalist Jeff Christian about the band's writing process, the mayhem on Mayhem, what lies ahead.

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Jeremy Spencer: "We're Five Finger Death Punch; We Sound Like What We Sound Like"

Five Finger Death Punch Press 2013
Five Finger Death Punch appeals to a particular demographic in heavy metal: Their testosterone-driven, in-your-face music is heavy and angry at all that is evil -- destruction, internal struggles, politics, war, bullying. Every friend I have in the armed services loves them. I've heard of soldiers who've approached the band and told it that a friend was killed while FFDP was blasting on their headphones.

There's no doubt that the band -- consisting of vocalist Ivan Moody, guitarist Zoltan Bathory, bassist Chris Kael, guitarist Jason Hook and drummer Jeremy Spencer -- know how to connect with its fans, old and new.

Now the band is set to unleash its most ambitious release to date, the double-album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell (Volume I arrives July 30). It includes collaborations with everyone from Maria Brink (In This Moment) and Max Cavalera (Soulfly) to Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and Tech 9. Catch Five Finger Death Punch at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival this Friday, July 5, at Ak-Chin Pavilion, along with Rob Zombie, Mastodon, and Amon Amarthe.

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Mergence Explains Why They Wrote "White Bark" In The Desert

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These vibrant young people aren't dead yet...
The atmospheric, bluesy local rockers in Mergence may already be known for keeping it weird with communes, nomads and robots with the release of their first album, Those Vibrant Young People Are Dead--but with their upcoming EP they are taking it to an entirely new level.

It makes sense, since the name Mergence describes the future evolution of their influence on the industry and their sound, which has been compared to the likes to The Black Keys, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Up On The Sun talked with front man Adam Bruce over a post-band practice phone call, punctuated by the clinking of ice from glasses of whiskey and gin. He discussed how he lived up to his statement in our last interview of writing the second album in the middle of the desert, why the band didn't appear in the "White Bark" music video, and the new experimentation the band dabbled with in the studio.

Mergence is scheduled to perform at Crescent Ballroom on Saturday, June 1.

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Meat Puppets Expand with Rat Farm

Categories: CD Preview

The cover of Rat Farm, the forthcoming record from Meat Puppets.
Though the band now resides in Austin, Meat Puppets and the brothers Kirkwood (Curt and Cris) will be forever tied to the Valley of the Sun whence they sprung.

That connection has gotten stronger to with the addition of Curt's son Elmo--a Tempe resident and guitarist in local bands Flamingo and Kirkwood Dellinger --now an official member of the touring band. It's a new era for the band, which is releasing Rat Farm April 16 on Megaforce.

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Local Wizards Enlists Santa Claus to Promote New Album

Categories: CD Preview, Weird

See also: Local Wizards: Songwriter Makes "Based Garagebandcore;" We Interview Via Twitter

The pre-release fanfare for highly anticipated albums has gotten particularly elaborate recently. Avant-industrial legends Swans have the entirety of their latest two-hour, triple-LP epic available to stream on NPR Music, including a track that runs more than 30 minutes. For the past month, Animal Collective has been engaged in a multi-media barnstorm for their latest long-player, Centipede Hz, that involves guest DJs on weekly podcasts and lots of shroom-tracer visuals.

However, those acts too meek and lowly to organize a cross-platform PR blitz have to be a little more resourceful. Kendall Humbert, the 19-year-old prolific tweeter and budding warlock behind eclectic Tempe project Local Wizards, revealed the drop date of his forthcoming new album, The Signal, earlier this week in a practical yet memorably peculiar YouTube video.

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Jared "J.Paul" Jackson on HavocNdeeD's New EP Distoria, New Direction, and New Member

Categories: CD Preview, Q&A

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Secret Service Publicity
HavocNdeeD: (from left) Skaught Parry, Jared "J. Paul" Jackson, & Ben "OB-One" Garcia
See also: HavocNdeeD Remix of Linkin Park's "Wretches and Kings" Gets Love From NME
See also: HavocNdeeD's DJ J-Paul Talks Dubstep, Mormonism, Industrial Music, and More

Jared Jackson is one busy cat these days. Besides being a new father, which would likely swamp anyone's schedule, the 32-year-old DJ and producer pulls regular gigs spinning Top 40 around the Valley (including one this Sunday at El Santo Cantina in Scottsdale) and serves as one-third of HavocNdeeD.

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Thee Gentlemen Ether Release Debut EP

Categories: CD Preview

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Thee Gentlemen Ether: Lynx Kinetic (left) and Benjamin "Mr. Puma MC" Walker.

When Benjamin Walker was enduring months of chemotherapy and other treatments last year to eradicate the softball-sized tumor growing on his aorta, a few things helped keep the renowned local emcee going: The desire to perform at least one more show with his new hip-hop act Thee Gentlemen Ether and maybe even record some tracks.

Walker, who's also known by his stage name Mr. Puma MC, got everything he wished for and more.

He's nearly recovered from cancer; Gentlemen Ether has performed a half-dozen local shows in the last seven months; and they've recently finished their debut EP Huff. And tomorrow night at Tempe's Yucca Tap Room, the group will headline its first gig ever.

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Your New Favorite Band: Twin Sister

Categories: CD Preview

Thumbnail image for Twin Sister - In Heaven (Album Cover
Twin Sister - In Heaven
Twin Sister is a Long Island-bred indie-pop quintet that creates lush, dreamy music. The songs are an outburst of melody enriched with a deep sense of emotion and atmosphere, personified by lead singer, Andrea Estella's warm, whispered vocals resulting in a remarkable set of songs that can only be described as a feeling of calm euphoria.

Twin Sister burst onto the scene with 2004's Vampires With Dreaming Kids EP - a collection of demos that displayed subtle hints of what was to come. The band's five members became friends when they crossed paths at various local shows in Long Island, eventually trading ideas and demos back and forth, culminating in the aforementioned EP.

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