By Jason Hraynyk
True rock n' roll music seems to be seeing a resurgence of late with many bands stepping back to good old fashion guitar riffs and solos; an homage to the legends who have come before and a celebration of when rock music was at its purest form. Austin based SCORPION CHILD, who released their self titled début on June 25 via Nuclear Blast, have turned the spotlight inward and are garnering some critical acclaim and getting some hefty attention.
The band, who are currently on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, where they are headlining the Sumarian Stage, directly state in their bio that the new album is a, "...hybrid of nine, hook-filled chapters of heavy psych rock complete with dangerous guitar riffs, soul-ridden bass lines, thunderous drums and powerful front-and-center rock vocals; all-told, a noteworthy contribution to the latest branches in rock’s genealogy." A quote like that is right on the money and sums up what, for many, is a Top Ten of 2013 album.
It is an energetic and fun start to finish masterpiece that is an album for any time; the perfect summer soundtrack for partying, chilling on a deck, hangin' at the beach or around a camp fire or jumping in your car to go for a cruise. In fact, the description for lead track 'Polygon Of Eyes' states that it is the 'soundtrack to jumping in your car, peeling out of your now ex-lover’s driveway, rolling down the windows, cranking a therapeutic song over and over on your stereo system while the wind blows through your hair and you sing the lyrics out loud while driving over the speed limit… hey, wait a minute, did you just flip off the highway patrol?... then waking up in another state’s time zone happier than you’ve been in ages with your new-found freedom.'......nuff said!
Scorpion Child feels that now is the time for the resurgence of the rock and psychedelic rock scene which is enjoying a very healthy come back. This, despite the fact that the band has been playing the style for a while. Lead guitarist Chris Cowart claims that, "music tends come and go and rock and roll and the original classic feel is gaining popularity again because people are tired of hearing the slamming double bass and Cookie Monster vocals. They want to hear melody again. We pride ourselves on that as a band because first and foremost we are a rock band. We have metal roots but we are not scared of melody or have a pop sensibility about us."
Bass player Shaun Avants states, "I think the flip side of the aggressive music is that what you hear on most radio now is a digital bubble gum version of rock and roll. The only time you hear a good rock song nowadays on air, you have to dip into the '90s collection and play something from SOUNDGARDEN or the FOO FIGHTERS. The new generation is bands like VAMPIRE WEEKEND and bands I don't even know the names of. It's wimpy rock and there is no swagger in it. I think we try to walk that balance."
Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of the younger generation wanting to pick up guitars and learn to play drums again. This has lead to youngsters finding many of the bands from the late '60's and '70's cool again. Much credit has been given to the popularity of music video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Both guys agree with that in some ways. "I think there are two ways to look at it. It opens the door to old bands like THIN LIZZY and makes kids go 'oh, who is this?'. But it's not going to teach kid how to play an instrument buy pushing buttons in time," says Shaun. For Chris, he did see the direct gaming influence. "I think it's good in a sense that it did get them into the music stores. I used to work in a music store and you did see more parents coming in and actually buying guitars. I guess it's a gateway to rock and roll."
It is fairly clear when listening to Scorpion Child that bands like LED ZEPPELIN, RAINBOW and Thin Lizzy were bands that the members grew up listening to amongst others. "Everybody in the band has different influences. We all listen to the same music but also some very different things. The broad spectrum of everybody’s background from rock and psychedelic but also guitar rock like THE CULT from the '80's and Soundgarden and Alice In Chains from the '90's. It creates this melting pot of what we do as a band." As they speak of their influences and some of these celebrated bands, it is mentioned that the band in fact came up with the name Scorpion Child from The Cult's track Lil' Devil from the legendary album Electric.
Though the band play many of their shows in clubs and legal age venues, Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, where the band is headlining the Sumarian Stage, has allowed the band to get in front of younger audiences. It has also allowed them to tap into the older generation through those same youngsters. "We get a lot of kids who are into the show 'cause its energetic and it's rock. Their parents or the older crowd though are so happy to hear that what we're doing is something different than just screaming. We're just a good old fashion rock n' roll band," states Shaun. To that point, Chris adds, "We're not a pissed off band and I think people have forgotten that music is something that we should celebrate and a concert should be a good time. People should have fun, the ladies should be dancing and everyone has a good time. Ultimately that's what we try to interject into our music is that good time rock n' roll vibe. I think people are aching for that again. To go to a show and be entertained by a band and have a good time."
That same aching can be said for the state of music and purchasing habits. In the era of bands like AC/DC, THE WHO, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, MOTÖRHEAD and the glory days of rock n' roll, record shops thrived, release days of new albums on vinyl no less were anticipated and counted off on calendars, and artwork played a very important part of the total package. It is refreshing to see that some labels and bands are embracing the full package and celebrating with vinyl releases and putting effort into artwork. "We were very adamant about putting the album out on digital and Nuclear Blast worked with us and it came out on double gate fold. We're all vinyl collectors and I think that is coming back again. It is a way for bands to sell records. Having that piece of vinyl with artwork in your hand is tangible. It isn't something just downloaded."
For the crowds catching the band during the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, they have been blown away by the blistering set and leaving most of them very impressed. "The shorter sets make it almost mandatory to go all out. The Mayhem crowd probably doesn't want to hear our mellower jams, which is tough for us because it's part of who we are," states Chris. "We're restricted to an amount of time and we are here to make an impression on people. We pick the songs to grab people and leave them wanting more."
After coming through Canada in early 2013 with CLUTCH and ORANGE GOBLIN, the band were happy to be back again in Canada. "We won't be back here again until next year, we've got a tour in Europe booked for October which we are really excited about, but for Canada, it looks like 2014."
For up and coming bands being on the road means doing everything from setting up and tearing down, performing, driving and even running the merch booth. Most of the band members on this hot day in Toronto could be found under their tent chatting with fans and selling shirts. For Shaun, he enjoys that element, "It's great and really grass-roots, which is important for us. If we do get more successful we know that some of those things are not possible. When you are bigger you can't be everywhere at once. So for right now, we are relishing in the fact that we can sign autographs and talk to our fans and hear feedback from the people buying the record."
That feedback on the new self titled album since the release on June 25 has been extremely good. "It has been really cool, you know being compared to Rainbow at the height of their career and one even compared the album to the first time you heard Appetite for Destruction. Just to be put in that same ballpark is overwhelming. It's validation to what we are doing," says Chris.
With a buzz about the band and constantly being in demand, things are not always about music. It means long days on the road with many bands, keeping fit by working out, reading or other hobbies. The guys in Scorpion Child completely agree with Chris, admitting he is a huge football fan who enjoys keeping track and enjoying games during the season while on the road. "I was never any good at sports but always enjoyed the entertainment aspect of sports. It's a way for me to get away and relax," he stated.
Shaun jokes, "I played Frisbee earlier today but that's about as athletic as I got. There are some bands here that brought their entire workout set ups. It's like muscle beach, bench presses the whole bit. Some guys ride around on their skate boards."
With the current focus and attention directed at Scorpion Child, the future is promising and sees hundreds of gigs on the horizon and no doubt much more success and many accolades. For the time being, the band is happy to be riding the King's Highway.