If you haven't heard of Blessed By A Broken Heart before, than you're probably in good company; but don't be deceived, this is a band that has some interesting history to them -- for instance, A Day To Remember and Mychildren Mybride were at one point opening for them. Blessed toured on their 2008 record, "Pedal To The Metal" for two years before taking a bit of a break to write and record their follow up album, "Feel The Power", which came out yesterday. I was fortunate to get some insight about the new album, among other things, from rhythm guitarist Sam Ryder yesterday afternoon.
It's been quite awhile since Blessed's last album, "Pedal to the Metal" came out...a little more than 3 years ago; the band toured on that album for awhile, and then was in sortof a less than pleasant situation in Texas during the Scream The Prayer tour in 2010, being stuck in Texas with a blown engine. Since the band concluded that tour, you joined the band, replacing rhythm guitarist Casey Jones; what reasons led to Casey's departure, and you joining the band?
Well...let's go right back to the start of this story when I got the 'call';my other band here in the United Kingdom, 'The Morning After' was booking a UK/EU tour with Blessed in May/June 2010 when I got a call from Slater and the rest of the guys. They explained to me that Casey might not be able to make the tour because of family commitments and asked if I'd be able to step in and do 2 shows a night. I said 'hell yeah, sign me up!', so we did that tour and when we finished they asked me if I'd like to come over to do the Scream The Prayer tour, and once again I was stoked to do it and I sort of just became the new member! I met Casey on that tour, he's now a dad and a great dude. Casey runs a studio now, and actually was still a part of the new record.
So, just to confirm, have you left your position as guitarist for The Morning After?
No, i'm still in The Morning After. I'm just a busy guy these days and loving it! I don't like spare time, you know?
That's understandable. Bring Me The Horizon guitarist Jona Weinhofen also still plays guitar in I Killed The Prom Queen, but his main focus is in BMTH, so everything fits into place...being able to juggle two bands. That being said, is Blessed By A Broken Heart your main focus? Or is The Morning After?
I give them both everything I can. I've been singing in The Morning After for 4 years now, so I know how to handle that responsibility and balance my time right.
You mentioned that Casey was still a part of the album -- in what ways? Did you let him in on some of the writing?
Well, a few of the songs have been dubbed the "Seattle Songs", that were already demoed out before I joined the band; "Skate or Die" and "Love Nightmare" are a few examples. When I joined the band, most of the music was already written, so I focused on writing vocals and lyrics for songs like "Forever", "Holdin' Back For Nothing", and "Scream It Like You Mean It".
What were the lyric writing sessions with lead vocalist Tony Gambino? Did you generally on most ideas lyrically?
*Mostly, haha! It was so hectic when we got to the studio that I kindof just locked myself away writing lyrics and stacking up backing vocals, and obviously Tony was super busy singing! There was not much time to write together, so to speak, but I actually think that way of songwriting works well in this band. We only disagreed once, it was me vs. the band on the specific line ''cause you've got me and I've got you'' in the song 'I've Got You'. I personally could not STAND that line but obviously...I lost that argument!
Your new album "Feel The Power", came out today, January 24th on Tooth and Nail; first off, what led to the decision to sign with Tooth and Nail? How has the experience with them been so far? It seems like promotion certainly has been great from their end
I love the energy from Tooth and Nail, they have an infectious enthusiasm which gives us the motivation we need to get this thing going. We know our art is in good hands here!
Anyone who has been a fan of the band for awhile knows that every album shows a larger sign of maturity, not only lyrically, but musically. Looking back on "Pedal to the Metal", what things did everyone sit down and discuss they wanted to change for this new album?
Man, we just wanted to up our game. You have to destroy you're former work to move on, we all agreed on that.
So are you hinting at minimal inclusion of past material in live settings?
No way, we love the old songs! "She Wolf" will still be one of my favorite songs to shred live. I'm just saying that we didn't get attached to our old songs when we we're recording the new record thinking ''Oh man, are the old fans gonna like this?'' -- that's not what we're about. We went in there with the songs we felt were reflective of us and played them with conviction.
The band has a huge appreciation for the 80's hair metal time period, as popularized by bands such as Def Leppard and Motley Crue; that being said, were you apprehensive about writing stuff that might be considered cliche?
To be honest man, we just went in there and recorded some Rock n' Roll and had a blast. If it sounded sweet, it stayed and if we weren't feeling it - it didn't. That's all we thought about.
Would it be safe to say that this album is a feel good album, above all? Is it supposed to taken critically serious?
There are themes to songs but nothing that correlates to the record as a whole. I guess if people get excited listening to it, we have done our job. I mean, that's my favorite feeling when it comes to music -- to be completely taken in by a record and prepared to make it the soundtrack to your life for the next few months, right?
What was it like writing with the lead guitarist in the band, Sean Maier? Was there an instant chemistry between you two when you started to write the record? He's well known for his shredding abilities.
Firstly, Sean is hands down the second funniest guy in the band, so obviously me (the funniest guy in the band) and him get along like a house on fire! Seriously though, jamming and writing with Sean is great. I've never met someone more dedicated to their craft; that's why he's so damn good! Sean and I would always write stupid, amazing, country songs in the studio but so far none have made the record. But lookout for them...
Let's talk about your brand new video for the song "Forever"; What was it like working with Robby Starbuck? He's definitely one of my favorite people that's still doing music videos right now -- I'd say Dan Dobi is my other favorite. Anyways, what led to the decision to shoot a video for this song? Did you just feel like this was the most accessible song on the album?
Absolutely -- 'Forever' is a smasher! We also wanted to introduce the whole 'big vocal' thing right away. Another thing, Robby and his team also did a great job with locations for the shoot. All in all, great people to work with.
With your other band active, Tyler running a successful tattoo shop in Montreal, Tony running his photography business, etc. What does Blessed's touring frequency look like right now? When will the band be back on the road? Any tours you can announce?
Things are so busy right now with booking and finding the right tour, it's the only thing on our minds. We will be out literally as soon as possible. Once we're on the road, we won't go home for a while, thats for sure!
Any bands you'd realistically like to go out with on tour in the near future?
I'd like to go out with Reckless Love, they seem like fun dudes.
Something I like to do with every interview is have everyone recommend one book and one band to those reading, and your reasons for your picks
A book I'm reading right now you should totally check out - "Roadshow" by Neil Peart; it's basically his stories of touring with RUSH. He makes his own way round to all the shows on his motorbike, awesome book for anyone who's a bit of a rolling stone!
As for a band, right now I'm listening to "Heavenly Ecstasy" from a band called Pagans Mind. Mental progressive metal from Norway -- Great moments of songwriting, and the singer can wail!