Thousand Foot Krutch

Thousand Foot Krutch

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to go back to the basics, taking all of the raw energy and emotion of the past and channeling it into the present, coupled with all of the progression and knowledge obtained in the intermediary years. And that's exactly what Thousand Foot Krutch is doing on the aptly titled The End Is Where We Begin, which doesn't just showcase the group's thunderous musical pursuits coming full circle with its most cutting edge album to date, but also finds Canada's favorite modern rockers voluntarily walking away from record label life all together (even after a slew of profitable offers came along) to reignite the passionate DIY work ethos that first emerged over a decade ago. "The End Is Where We Begin summarizes everything we've been through as a band, and where we are now- the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another," confides front man Trevor McNevan. "We've been through every transition you could face as a band in the past year, aside from the band line up, and our entire team couldn't be more excited. Against all odds, not to mention some pretty lucrative record contracts, we're following what we feel is the right thing for us to do, and at the end of the day, that's our responsibility. We're very thankful to have the support and trust we do with our audience; they're as much a part of our team, as anyone else. We're growing together, and look forward to each new step we take together."

For those who've been following the Ontario-bred players since their formation in 1998, it's been a continuously escalating highlight reel that includes best-selling albums, four top 25 Active Rock hits (including the top 20 smash "Fire It Up"), plus
a slew of soundtrack slots. In fact, the group has literally infiltrated every facet of pop culture, from ongoing ESPN placements, to various NASCAR, MLB, NHL and NFL airings (including the 2010 Super Bowl), along with the "GI Joe" movie trailer, WGN-TV's "Smallville" and EA Sports' "NHL 2010" video game. That trend is continuing at breakneck speed with the new project, which even prior to hitting streets, found the lead single "Light Up the Sky" and fellow adrenaline-infused rocker "Let Sparks Fly" picked up by ESPN. Both tracks also serve as the ultimate tone setters for the sonic explosions contained within The End Is Where We Begin, which could be considered the ultimate Thousand Foot Krutch mix-tape showcasing a myriad of full-throttled personalities.
"If I had to use one word to describe the sound of this record, I would say 'uninhibited,'" ponders McNevan. "From the beginning, the architecture of this record was different from the others. I knew this one was something special when I felt the need to go back- back to just sitting on the bed with a guitar with no outside voices- and being inspired by just the simple possibilities. The past songs and records have always been honest- that's something very true to our hearts as musicians and always will be- but this was something different. There's something that happens when you turn the sound down and just listen. I'll never forget those moments."

Throughout that period of simplifying and waiting for inspiration to arrive, McNevan popped in the band's very first project, That's What People Do, which echoed respected rappers like Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, cross-pollinated with the rhythmic grooves of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Those inspirations return throughout The End Is Where We Begin, alongside the group's continuously marinating blend of towering choruses, razor-sharp rhythms, epic arrangements and stadium shaking
rumbles. "As a songwriter, Trevor's always been one to keep his thumb on the pulse of what's going on in music at any given time," explains drummer Steve Augustine. "This record in a lot of ways, is a bridge going back to where we came from, traveling all the way through where we've been, to where we're going," states McNevan.

One key sonic ingredient that runs throughout the album is a raw grit that mirrors the group's unrelenting live sound. To capture that sound, Thousand Foot Krutch teamed up with good friends, producer Aaron Sprinkle (Deftones, Anberlin, Pedro the Lion, The Almost) and mixing engineer J.R. McNeely (Paramore, Underoath, MXPX, Relient K). Sprinkle co-produced with McNevan, as well as produced Masquerade. "I work on a lot of the song arrangement/pre production in the writing stages of the record, and then get with the guys to add their input and work through what's best for the rhythm sections of the song," says McNevan. "Steve and Joel are two of the best players out there, so that part's always a treat. Making the record, Aaron and I ran between his studio in Seattle and mine in Nashville, working on everything there and overseeing things remotely, while Steve and Joel tracked bass and drums in their home studios in Canada. It's an interesting process, but seems to work well for us. We're a very hands on group of guys."
"We aimed for the sounds to be pretty raw and to reach back on purpose, like [2003's breakthrough record] Phenomenon, which had a certain kind of energy to it that we weren't able to find again until now," says Augustine. "We wanted to do a raw record where we're not replacing sounds or realigning parts to fix things, but going in with strong takes the first time around and having that translate towards more energy."

The lyrical make-up of The End Is Where We Begin is just as urgent and insistent, while continuing in the group's positive and proactive tradition. Hardly a moment goes by on the album where listeners aren't being motivated towards a call to action, much like how the band literally risked its whole career to put its unadulterated artistic vision on display. "Without trying, this record has a very militant theme to it, with songs like 'War Of Change' and 'Courtesy Call' painting more of a visual for that," states McNevan. "There's an urgency to it and I think the timing feels right. This record's heart can be summed up by 'Be The Change,' the album's lyric and phrase seen throughout the album artwork."
Continues Augustine: "We've always felt we've made music for everyone, whether that be rock or whatever style we happen to be recording at the time. We try to make good music anyone would enjoy, but with a positive message that talks about what we believe and what comes from the heart."

When it comes to Thousand Foot Krutch's vast array of listeners, which include a half million Facebook followers from literally all walks of life, few bands can boast having such a loyal following. Not only do the guys make it a point to sign autographs after shows and stay feverishly connected on social networking sites, but they even provided a hands-on opportunity to get involved with the making of The End Is Where We Begin. Fans are taking literal ownership of the record after contributing to the group's indie efforts via (a new venture that allows artists to "fund and follow creatively") and in return, the band provided an all access glimpse into the recording process. "Since day one we've actually been uncomfortable with the term 'fans' because these people mean so much more to us," assures McNevan. "They're the friends and family of the band so to speak and I think they've grown to trust us over the years, which is something that's been built between us and not manufactured…Teaming with Kickstarter allowed us to launch the idea of recording this record and open the door for anyone who pledges support to be a part of the process. It's not just about asking for money, which would've made us feel pretty uncomfortable. It's about being able to create packages with various levels of exclusives, from Skype calls with the band, to exclusive vinyl, handwritten lyrics and just a closer connection in general. We had no idea what it would amount to and if we'd even make our goal, but we ended up going
quite a bit past it."

When it comes to the subject of surpassing goals, The End Is Where We Begin doesn't just find Thousand Foot Krutch's new career direction taking off like a tour de force, but also serves as a creative pinnacle that blends the most innovative elements of yesterday with the ground-breaking strides of today. "I think this is a step forward in a new and inspired direction for us musically and as a band," sums up McNevan. "It's everything we could've hoped for and we're excited to head into this season. Sometimes we need to go back to go forward and remember where we came from, which connects on a lot of different levels. We hope to keep making music that's honest to us and continue to grow together with our audience."

Love and death

Former Korn guitarist Brian Head Welch marks a new beginning with the announcement that his band will now go by the name Love & Death. "I put this band together in 2009" states Welch. "Since then, we've experienced some very intense highs and lows. Michael Valentine, Dan Johnson, JR Bareis and myself have toured around the world playing a lot of killer shows, but we've also had some heart shattering difficulties along the way as well. To us, the name "Love and Death" symbolizes everything we've been through as a band over the last few years. We love this band so much and we'll go through hell to connect with our fans. We've proven that to ourselves over and over again."

With Love & Death, the music now lives under it's own banner. "Many people have confused my speaking dates and our band dates because they were both being booked as Brian Head Welch" says Welch. "I have wanted to go to a band name for branding my music for a few years. It has been an ongoing discussion with my management, but we were just starting to tour and I was in the middle of supporting my third book and it seemed like a bad time to switch brands. Now with the new music coming out, its time to really separate the things I do. I want the music to be about music. I will still be doing public speaking under Brian Head Welch. I am happy that all the confusion will be over."

Love & Death formed when Welch decided to have band try outs on YouTube in 2009. "I picked the guys and then had a jam session in Phoenix" says Welch. "Over the last couple of years, there have been a few line up changes as we went through normal growing pains. The current band has been together and touring for a while now and they are a big part of the new music and the future of this new brand."

The band's latest single "Paralyzed" is already #5 on the BDS rock chart (the single was released under the name Brian Head Welch). "Paralyzed" was produced by Jason Rauch (Red, Breaking Benjamin) and mixed by Lee Bridges (Third Day, Newsboys). "'Paralyzed' was one of the first songs co-written with Producer Jason Rauch" states Welch. "He came to me with the idea and we both dove into it until it was all there. Jason is really helping me get back to crushing riffs. My first solo CD was an experimental album so the riffs were definitely lacking. Today's a new day and I'm excited about the future. 'Paralyzed' is only a taste of what's to come."

The Letter Black

The origins of Tooth & Nail's highly heralded hard rock acquisition The Letter Black actually dates back to the members time in Breaking the Silence. After forming in 2006, the group entered the studio independently with Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Pillar, Disciple), followed by an impressive streak of 150 shows a year including a last minute call from the T&N to serve as a substitute for a broken up band on the otherwise successful Five 4 Five Tour alongside Dizmas and Children 18:3 (with just two weeks notice), and more recently, Skillet's immensely successful Awake and Alive Tour. Between constant contact with the label through that all-star producer and their new manager, the Uniontown, Pennsylvania-based band turned their backs on other label offers and signed by
the dotted line.

Upon making it to the major label ranks, the group stumbled upon a similarly named mainstream band and soon shifted from Breaking the Silence to The Letter Black after a suggestion that stemmed from a joke between legendary Helmet front man Page Hamilton and manager Danny Hill. Outside of having a curious ring to it, the new moniker better encapsulates the band's aggressive instrumental onslaught and literate lyrical disposition.

"All of us go through different chapters in our lives," suggests guitarist/co-songwriter Mark Anthony. "In these chapters, we write letters of good and bad times. Some letters in our chapters, we are happy to share. Others, we are not so proud of. The Letter Black reminds us of the past mistakes we have made and helps us remember to not keep making the same mistakes."

After debuting with the aptly titled Breaking the Silence EP, the group expounds upon those poignant reflections all the more on its full-length debut Hanging On By A Thread, encapsulating back breaking rhythms within universally relatable themes to both believers and the world at large.

"The full-length will rock just as hard, if not harder, as the EP," affirms front woman Sarah Anthony. "We came up with the title because it puts into words how a lot of people, including myself, feel sometimes. A lot of people can relate to it, and that's what we want."

"Fire With Fire" is a snarling way to start the disc, as it speaks of standing up to injustice with confidence and fearlessness, followed by "Invisible," which addresses feelings of restlessness and desperation, but eventually steers listeners towards spiritual embrace as a means of resolution. "Best of Me" revolves around making the most of the talents and gifts given here on earth, while "Hanging By a Thread" cries out in desperation and finding resolution through perseverance.

"A lot of our songs on this record talk about the past and how to move forward from it," adds Sarah. "The songs talk about hurts and things that we've been through, but they show that it's possible to move on with you're life and it's possible to live life without walls built up around your heart."
All the while, the band evokes the aggressive likes of Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, Red and Disciple, coupled with the classic sensibilities of Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses. Add in blistering production from the legendary Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Korn, 3 Doors Down), and it's a riveting amalgamation of female fronted ferocity, meaty melodies, gritty guitars and a thundering rhythm section. No wonder why members have been invited to appear on stage with Hail (including Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Phil Demmel of Machine Head, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth & Tim "Ripper" Owens of Judas Priest), a fellow super group jam featuring Dave Buckner of Papa Roach, Marcos Curiel of P.O.D., Travis Miguel of Atreau and Marcello Rapp of Soulfly, alongside Traa of P.O.D. serving as guest bassist for the band during a benefit, not to mention tremendous impact on the Skillet tour.

"Skillet has such a great live show, so they've definitely inspired us to do the best we can in that aspect," confirms Sarah. "We also gained a lot of their fans and had so many people come up to us on the tour saying 'I've never heard of you before tonight, but you guys are my new favorite band.'"

As for 2010, expect that trend to continue, thanks to an endless stream of concerts supporting Hanging On By A Thread, coupled with a constant fan connectivity off stage as well. "We'd like to get on as many tours as possible, do a lot of shows and build a stronger fan base," sums up Sarah. "And more than anything else, we want to continue bringing hope to those who have none."

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