Formed in Miami, Florida, Torche has rocked fans, critics and stereos since their forming in 2004. Variously characterized as “stoner pop,” “thunder rock” and “sludge metal,” their self-titled album was declared as the Number Seven album of 2005 on Decibel magazine’s annual Top 40 list. Three years later, Decibel magazine ranked the band’s second album, Meanderthal, as Number One. Torche's latest album, Harmonicraft, was released in April 2012. The band has toured with Mogwai, Isis, Baroness and the Sword, among others, and in 2010, they opened for Coheed and Cambria. Here the Rock Hall catches up with Torche guitarist Andrew Elstner, as the band readies for a free live concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 25, 2012, part of the Summer in the City concert series.
Rock Hall: What was the first record/CD you ever bought and do you still listen to it?
Andrew Elstner: With my own money? Aerosmith Rocks and damn straight I still listen to it. Although now it's on my iPod, not a cassette tape.
RH: What artists did you listen to when you were growing up and what about ...
Chicago native Michael Angelo Batio is a guitar virtuoso, renowned in heavy metal circles and beyond for his fretwork dexterity, combining a signature blend of showmanship and technical precision. Although the Eighties and early Nineties found him on lead guitar in metal acts Holland and later Nitro, Batio's first experiences as a young musician came in front of a piano, and it was jazz guitar that first captured his interest – and soon highlighted his innate prowess.
On February 10, 2012, Batio visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where his signature Dean Guitars "Jet" double-guitar is currently displayed as part of the Right Here, Right Now! exhibit. Here, the Rock Hall catches up with the virtuoso shredder to learn more about his influences and inspirations, and the origins of his unique guitar.
Rock Hall: When did you first start playing guitar and was it something that came naturally?
Michael Angelo Batio: I started playing the guitar at age 10. I started playing the piano at age five. Music just came naturally to me. But, I always loved to practice and work to get better. I still love to practice and learn new things.
RH: Who ...
The first act to rise from the industrial-rock underground to mass commercial success, Nine Inch Nails established Cleveland-area native Trent Reznor – NIN's founder, front man, producer and sole permanent member – as a different kind of rock star. The propulsive, abrasive sound of his music perfectly suited his images of pain, alienation, betrayal and existential torment; his broodingly charismatic stage persona captivated a readily receptive audience that found common ground in his seething lyrics and pummeling beats. Unlike most of his industrial-music contemporaries, Reznor possesses a gift for melody and song structure that's reflected in "Head Like a Hole." The opening track of Nine Inch Nails' 1989 debut album Pretty Hate Machine, the song is as catchy as it is harsh, with a raw, insistent chorus that's hard to shake. It's no wonder that "Head Like a Hole" would serve as Nine Inch Nails' set closer for many years.
Born in Birmingham, England, on December 3, 1948, John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne started his carreer as a musician in the late 60s, as he, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward banded together, seeking to escape the trappings of factory life in their shared hometown. The foursome began to take shape as a blues band – influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream – calling themselves Earth Blues Company (later shortened to Earth). Osbourne channeled his love of soul music (particularly Sam and Dave) to his duties as frontman, but the group took a tectonic shift after Osbourne penned a song about Butler's encounter with a sinister spectre, calling the song "Black Sabbath." The band eventually took Black Sabbath as their name – and the title of their 1970 debut album. The group would go on to release such heavy metal classics as Paranoid, Master of Reality, Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, effectively defining the heavy metal genre and making Osbourne the voice of it. Osbourne's delivery was melodic and well-pitched, and he never resorted to the sort of histrionic screaming that became a hallmark of metal’s lesser lights.
Osbourne took his heavy metal charge ...
By 1986, Metallica was widely accepted as the heir apparent to the heavy metal throne. The band's crowning achievement was Master of Puppets, an album that not only pushed the limits of the metal genre in terms of sheer musicianship and creative force, but also redefined the paths to success and critical acclaim.
Metallica's meteoric ascent began in earnest with the release of 1983's Kill 'Em All, introducing the band's sharp thrash attack – a potent brew of New Wave of British Heavy Metal, punk and hardcore – to an audience far beyond their Bay Area stomping grounds. Although the record featured songs co-written by former bandmate (and future Megadeth leader) Dave Mustaine, the album was a cohesive thrash onslaught with little variation among arrangements and archetypal lyrics that encouraged listeners to "Jump In The Fire," "Seek & Destroy," have "No Remorse" and join a "Metal Militia." At its core were the intricate rhythm guitar and brash vocals of James Hetfield, the skillful lead guitar work of Kirk Hammett, the powerful percussive backbone of Lars Ulrich and the inimitable bass stylings of Cliff Burton.
A year later, the quartet took an evolutionary leap with the release of Ride The ...