ADRENALINE MOB – Flow Out Of Control

March 1, 2012, 6 years ago

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By Aaron Small

Going from DREAM THEATER to ADRENALINE MOB, drummer Mike Portnoy has made the switch from progressive to aggressive. Teaming up with SYMPHONY X vocalist Russell Allen, SONIC STOMP guitarist Mike Orlando and newly appointed bassist John Moyer of DISTURBED, “The Mob” as they are affectionately referred to, will unleash their stunning debut album, Omertá, on March 13th in North America and on March 19th in Europe. This new sonic arsenal is bound to earn Portnoy a slew of new fans; specifically those who may have viewed Dream Theater as too technical or convoluted. “I hope so; I’d like to think so,” says the highly respected sticksman. “This album is surely easy to digest. The songs are strong – hook after hook, riff after riff – they’re all memorable. The songs stick with you; it’s one of those classic albums. So as far as reaching a new audience, I think it absolutely has the potential to do so. And after coming off my time with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, it’s surely the type of record that can appeal to that type of audience. I’m not saying I sold out and that was the intent, it just so happened to be the next project that fell into my life; it was the right album at the right time.”

Selling out? Nothing could be further from the truth as Omertá is beyond irresistible, an album more alluring than Megan Fox in a string bikini! “This type of music has always been in me, and I’ve always wanted a band to get it out of me,” reveals Portnoy. “Everything I’ve done outside Dream Theater through the years has always been rooted in progressive elements; other than Avenged Sevenfold. Once I spent time with Avenged Sevenfold and did the Uproar tour, touring with bands like Disturbed, STONE SOUR, and HELLYEAH, I knew I needed to get this bounce out of me. I love the grooves, being able to play music that is catchy; you don’t have to put on a thinking cap and break out a calculator to listen to it.”

Speaking of Disturbed, their bassist, John Moyer, recently joined Adrenaline Mob to replace the freshly departed Paul DiLeo. “We’re really excited to have John on board; we think he’s the perfect element to the band. John and I know each other from touring with Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold a couple summers back. He’s a super-sweet nice guy, so I knew personally he’d fit in, and musically, with his years in Disturbed, obviously he’s got a background in this type of music; so he’s the perfect addition in that respect. But most importantly was his availability. We needed a bass player who wasn’t committed to another band or project, that didn’t have scheduling obstacles that would prevent Adrenaline Mob from doing things in 2012. With Disturbed taking a hiatus, it was the perfect opportunity; John came on board full-throttle.”

Outside commitments are what caused original bass player Paul DiLeo, as well as guitarist Rich Ward (STUCK MOJO, FOZZY) to leave the band. “Exactly, so when we wanted to get someone new in the band, we knew it had to be someone that didn’t have other prior commitments that would get in our way. We figured the only way you’re going to find somebody like that is to get a complete unknown up-and-comer. With John, it turned out to be the best of both worlds; somebody with a lot of experience and a name, but at the same time, just coincidentally his schedule has a nice, wide-open availability.” However, Portnoy stresses there wasn’t any bad blood between Rich and Paul and the rest of Adrenaline Mob. “We love Rich and Paul. We loved having them in the band; they were awesome additions to the live touring band last year. We were sad that it couldn’t work out, but they’re both committed to their other bands and projects. They didn’t want to stand in the way of The Mob, and we didn’t want to stand in the way of the other things they have going. So it really just made sense to part ways and find somebody that would be completely available.”

Having scaled down from a quintet to quartet, is Adrenaline Mob looking for a new rhythm guitarist? “We’re going to stay a four-piece. When we auditioned John, not only was that an audition for John, it was also an audition for the concept of staying a four-piece. It sounded so big and full in rehearsals; we decided that was the way to go. In the tradition of BLACK SABBATH, VAN HALEN, and PANTERA, we’re going to stay a four-piece.” Just to clarify, did Rich and Paul play on Omertá, or was it just the three core members? “Nah, just the three of us – myself, Russ, and Mike; honestly that’s the way the EP was as well, in terms of the writing. The EP was written before those guys were on board for the touring lineup, but Paul did lay down bass tracks on the EP. But once it came time for Omertá, it was just the three of us.”

In January, the self-titled Adrenaline Mob EP, pictured above, was removed from all digital retailers and the CD is now out of print. “Yeah, it’s absolutely going to be a collector’s item.” With the exception of the Sabbath cover ‘The Mob Rules’, the four original songs found on the EP: ‘Psychosane’, ‘Believe Me’, ‘Hit The Wall’, and ‘Down To The Floor’ reappear on Omertá, albeit in newly re-recorded and remixed versions. For those who haven’t heard the EP, Portnoy elaborates upon how they differ. “The versions on Omertá have different bass tracks for starters, and a different mix – which makes a huge difference. Jay Ruston (ANTHRAX, STEEL PANTHER)’s mix for the whole album is huge and powerful; absolutely a grand slam in terms of the sonic presentation of the album. The songs from the EP benefit from that. The EP served its purpose which was only to get something out there to co-ordinate with the tour we were doing last summer with GODSMACK. We didn’t want to go out and have nothing available for people to listen to, so that EP was really like a sneak preview, an advance taste of what’s to come. But we always knew the tracks would be bigger and better on the full-length album.”

From the first few words of album opener ‘Undaunted’, singer Russell Allen proves what a powerhouse he truly is. “Absolutely, I’ve always loved Russ’ voice,” exclaims Portnoy. “I’ve always known that he’s one of the best kept secrets out there; he’s one of the greatest frontmen and vocalists of this generation. He’s a modern, big, giant, husky version of Dio. He’s getting to really strut his stuff with this band – and singing a lot heavier than he does with Symphony X. So you get to see several different sides of Russ. I’ve always said that Russ’ voice has the power of Dio, the sexiness of David Coverdale, and the melody of Steve Walsh from KANSAS. He really combines the best of all those worlds.”

Omertá, means a code of silence, most famously adopted by the Italian mafia. “Yeah, it’s like a blood oath you take when you join the mob. We thought it was fitting for the band’s first album title.” LAMB OF GOD had a song on their 2004 album, Ashes Of The Wake, called ‘Omerta’. Did that cross your radar at all? “Not until after the fact. I mean, I know that album, but I forgot that was a song title. It’s probably impossible to have any album title or song title that hasn’t already existed in 50 years of rock ‘n roll at this point.”

And the origin of the name Adrenaline Mob? “It’s kind of a cross-combination of two words that came from different sources. First, the word adrenaline was something that Mike and Russ had been throwing around. Originally, one of the song titles was ‘Adrenaline Fueled Junkies’; we tossed that around as a band name, but it turns out there was another one (already with that name). But I really liked the idea of adrenaline, so we kept that. Then I suggested the word mob, just because it felt right. We felt like we were part of this brotherhood, this club. So we just combined the two ideas and that’s how the band name came up.”

The title Omertá definitely ties in with the colourful and intriguing artwork which features a burning card in the hand of a skeleton, decked out in suit, tie, and hat. Who painted that? “An artist named Marc Sasso, he’s worked with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and a bunch of other artists (including DIO and HALFORD). He did a great job; the cover is definitely one of those classic metal album covers. It reminds me of IRON MAIDEN or MEGADETH covers; Iron Maiden has Eddie and Megadeth has Vic Rattlehead (as their mascots), so we got The Bone Daddy.”

What may surprise people the most about Omertá is the cover song contained within – DURAN DURAN’s ‘Come Undone’. “To be honest, I didn’t even know that song until Russ and Mike suggested it. I’m not like a radio guy so I wasn’t really aware that was a hit for Duran Duran in the ‘90s. So I only heard the demo Russ and Mike presented to me; I thought it was an awesome, rocking tune. Then having Lizzy Hale (from HALESTORM) sing on it just takes it to a whole other level of intensity. I knew Lizzy from when Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm toured together; we became friends on that tour. When we were recording ‘Come Undone’, the idea of a female vocalist came up, and I just knew that Lizzy would absolutely kill it. So I called her up and asked her if she wanted to do it? She said, ‘I’m there, I’d be honoured to.’ So here she is and she obviously totally nailed it.”

Thus far, Adrenaline Mob has covered Black Sabbath’s ‘The Mob Rules’ – an obvious choice – as well as the aforementioned Duran Duran tune. During headline gigs, will you perform songs from your respective bands, namely Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Disturbed? “Who knows? It’s possible, we’ll see. When we toured last year, we did pan out the set, not only with ‘The Mob Rules’ but we also did ‘War Pigs’, Dio’s ‘Stand Up And Shout’, and ‘High Wire’ by BADLANDS.” Collectors take note; the Japanese version of Omertá will feature a new version of ‘The Mob Rules’ as a bonus track.

As far as Adrenaline Mob live dates go, March 12th in New York City has been announced, as well as four European concerts in June. “The show in New York is really an album release party that we’ll perform the album from start to finish at. A lot of bands throw album release parties, and the DJ will play the album for people there to hear, but we’re actually going to play it ourselves live on stage. So that’s kind of just a one-off. Right now we’re in the middle of getting our tour plans together; we’re hoping to do a US run throughout May, then we head over to Europe in June. Those first three dates that were announced are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come; a full world tour is coming together now. Dates will slowly start to trickle out in the coming weeks.” Any Canadian dates on the horizon? “Definitely, it’s not a matter of if; it’s just a matter of when? Hopefully it’ll be much sooner than later.”

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