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The American four-part “spoken-word” act Enablers toured through Dresden last night. Marking the group’s second stop on a 42-show European tour, the Dresden show followed a concert in Leipzig and a five-day rehearsal in Berlin (the band members are sprinkled throughout the US and don’t have too much time to practice together regularly). The band’s performance was titillating and thought-provoking, building off of strong instrumentation and beautiful cadence and flow within Pete Simonelli’s vocals. I hung out with the guys before the show and talked about all-things music.

You guys are known as a pretty under-the-radar “cool” band in Germany. Fans of yours seem to be pretty loyal, from what I gather. Do you sense this loyalty when you tour through Europe?

Yes, definitely. A lot of our fans become our friends. We do all of our own booking—Kevin does all of the booking—so we manage to meet people that way. The Internet also makes it so much easier.

Steven Wilson is music’s answer to Chuck Yeager: He’s continually striving to break sound barriers.

On his second solo album, Grace for Drowning (released September 27 on K-Scope), the frontman of the rock band Porcupine Tree has forged an unusual sonic alchemy of progressive rock, textural electronica, piano-pop balladry, soundtrack-like soundscapes, doom rock . . . and jazz.

When a rock musician admits to a new jazz direction, you’d be forgiven for conjuring up images of a cheesy confection akin to Spinal Tap’s Jazz Odyssey. But Wilson had a specific template in mind: King Crimson’s pioneering 1970 album Lizard.

Lizard is basically Robert Fripp’s solo album”, explains Wilson, who recently remastered the King Crimson back catalog in 5.1 surround sound. “King Crimson had broken up. It was just him. What did he do? He didn’t get in a load of rock musicians, he got in a load of jazz musicians. That’s really the approach I took with this record.”

“Indefatigable.” That’s how Rolling Stone described Martha Davis in a profile of the Motels from September 1982. It was then and is now an accurate characterization of the group’s founder, primary songwriter, lead singer, and guitarist. Then: the Motels were celebrating their first Top 10 pop hit in the US with the Davis-penned “Only the Lonely” after the group nearly imploded while recording their third album for Capitol Records, the unreleased Apocalypso (1981). Now: Martha Davis is celebrating the long overdue release of Apocalypso, whose embers have been rekindled by Omnivore Recordings after 30 years of lockdown in the vault.

To see Davis stand among towering flames on the cover of Apocalypso is to understand the kind of decimation she’s survived in the intervening decades. Not even flames could desiccate the well of creativity that’s nourished her through the Motels’ dissolution in the ‘80s, major label woes, and her re-emergence with a new Motels line-up in the ‘90s. The release of Apocalypso has given Davis a chance to reclaim the classic Motels sound and fashion a fresh concert set that explores what might have happened had Capitol issued the album instead of the lacquered sheen of the group’s breakthrough, All Four One (1982). Original member Marty Jourard, whose distinctive keyboard and saxophone playing contributed to the group’s core musical identity from the late ‘70s through the early ‘80s, has joined Davis and the Motels for a series of Apocalypso-centric dates. On the first night of the Apocalypso tour in Philadelphia, Martha Davis revisited that moment 30 years ago when, in her words, “the train got de-railed”.

The name D.R.U.G.S. is certain to evoke some kind of emotional response from everyone who reads it. 

Make no mistake, this is what the post-hardcore supergroup desires.  Formed early last year after vocalist Craig Owens was relieved of his duties behind the microphone from his former band Chiodos, D.R.U.G.S. (an abbreviation for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) took shape quickly when Owens and his partner in crime Nick Martin began piecing the band together.  A tenured guitarist, Martin comes courtesy of metalcore act Underminded while the rest of the band is composed of guitarist Matt Good (From First to Last), drummer Aaron Stern (Matchbook Romance), and bassist Adam Russell (Story of the Year).

With so many seasoned rock veterans in the line-up, perhaps in comes as no surprise that this year’s self-titled debut is a perfect storm of sounds from each respective member’s past work.  That’s not to say that the album D.R.U.G.S. sounds like old or re-hashed material—far from it.  Instead, the LP captures all of the emotion and power of their past endeavors while pushing further en route to creating one of the most relentless rock records released this year. 

While this is their first Warped Tour trek as D.R.U.G.S., it’s far from their first Warped experience.  Each member has played the tour in past years, giving D.R.U.G.S. a leg up over other new bands that are getting their first taste to the grueling summer punk rock camp.  During Warped Tour’s stop in Cincinnati, OH, on August 2nd, Nick Martin took time to chat with PopMatters about the state of rock and roll, whether his expectations for his new band have been met, and about what it is that makes Warped Tour so special.

Anyone who says that there’s no longer a punk presence on Warped Tour needs to look no further than Lansdale, PA act the Wonder Years.  The pop punk quintet began catching ears last year with its upbeat and snappy album The Upsides before unleashing one of the most talked about pop-punk albums in recent memory with this summer’s Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing.  This darker, more aggressive collection of tracks has gained the band even further notoriety and landed it a full run on this year’s Warped Tour.

Fronted by outspoken vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell, the Wonder Years are quickly becoming one of the most intriguing bands in the scene with a killer live performance and a penchant for speaking its mind.  Suburbia is a journey through a difficult 12-month period for the group following the release of The Upsides and takes a critical and thoughtful look at the ideas and values instilled by suburban America.  PopMatters recently caught up with bassist Josh Martin to talk about the band’s new record and the pains and joys experienced during its current summer-long trek.

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