Joey Duenas - Vocals/Guitar
Frank Salvaggio - Bass/Backing Vocals
Rob Urbani - Drums
“We’re not a band of easy way outs,” Anew Revolution bassist Frank Salvaggio says.
He’s not kidding. The members of Anew Revolution have been around the music industry block several times, in other bands and in this band. They’ve made mistakes and learned from them, so as not to repeat them. But there is only one constant: the fact that not doing this music and this band is not an option. Anew Revolution is bound by its need to make music and to reach the people. Turns out, the individuals who make up Anew Revolution are not much different than their fans.
Anew Revolution isn’t just a band that refuses to be chewed up and spit out by the business or by life. The band members operate off a battery of resilience. It’s in their DNA. Everything about the band has layers of meaning – even its moniker is a play on words- so if you keep digging, you’ll unearth more things about the band, the players, the songs and the music that will reel you into their universe. The band’s new album, iMerica, is a nod to our country’s current digitally-minded culture, and it’s darker, more intense and heavier than anything the band has done. It’s easily the most driving music the band has ever created. Featuring former members of Ozzfest alums (and early ‘00s bands) like Slaves on Dope and Unloco, Anew Revolution aren’t about repeating the past. They’re about creating a future: a better future for all of us through music.
When faced with situations where most musicians would toss their hands in the air, give up and get dreaded day jobs, Anew Revolution continue to pound the pavement and work towards a singular goal: playing for fans. “We could have continued on the path of our old bands,” Salvaggio says. “That is done and we’re looking forward. Starting from zero is not easy. But there is so much fulfillment involved. We are four dudes trying to get to the next city to play the next gig.”
Anew Revolution actually formed when Slaves on Dope split and Salvaggio and Urbani ventured down to Austin, Texas and hooked up with ex-Unloco singer Joey Duenas. “We wanted to see if we could make something happen,” Salvaggio recalls about the band’s humble beginnings. “If something came of it, cool. If not, we tried, right?”
Something did come of it. The band’s chemistry clicked and they recorded a self-titled EP that they sold themselves, the old fashioned-way. They moved 5,000 copies, enjoyed love from iTunes and proved they could handle themselves in the live setting, and their self-sufficiency was noticed by E1 Music, who signed the band in 2007. Their first album, Rise, was issued in 2008.
It’s impressive that a bunch of musicians who had the benefit of experience in the major label system with their previous bands decided not to be completely soured by their past, even if they are a wee bit cynical. “We’re definitely jaded and come from that background, collectively,” Salvaggio continues. “Between Joey’s band and mine, we sold records at that time. If we sold now what we sold then, it would be a great success. Bands were going gold and platinum fast back then. We had sales and fanbases, but we had to work harder to earn it. It was the hard working effort that got you what you wanted. Shaun didn’t walk into a band already on a tour bus, with a crew and a tour manager. It was the four of us working hard for everything we earned.”
Hard work is as American as apple pie and baseball, so it’s fitting that iMerica is an album made by the people, for the people. The album is certainly influenced by the trials and tribulations that Anew Revolution survived. But it’s not a self-referential album. It’s all encompassing and inherently understands the problems most Americans are dealing with. 2009 was particularly tough for the country and for most working class, average Americans. It was no different for Anew Revolution, and that fueled the album’s fire. “We went through a hard year,” Salvaggio recalls. “We didn’t tour very much, we were only on the road for about three months. Fans took a hit and we took a hit. But we had to regroup, even if it’s gotten harder. We know what hard is, but it went a notch harder. The incline got steeper. We braced ourselves and strapped ourselves in, rubbed stones together and made it work.” Kinda like the middle class has done throughout history!
The album also explores our “I” society. “We don’t live in a ‘we’ society,” Salvaggio said. “Everyone wonders, ‘What about me?’” Salvaggio says that inspired the album, which encourages the listener to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see what you notice about yourself. According to the bassist, iMerica is also “influenced by a wide array of media, politics, economy, health care debates. We looked at ourselves in that experience. Where do we fit? The state of our world doesn’t just affect the GM worker, the insurance workers, the manufacturers. It affects bands that are not Nickelback or Lady Gaga. It squashes and diminishes a lot of opportunity.” Rather than give up or give in, Anew Revolution channeled that frustration into hard-hitting, ear-splitting hard rock anthems.
The band also demonstrates its ingenuity in the current, digitally-driven age, where content is everything, information is instant and bands are pulling the curtain back for all their fans to see them, warts and all. “We had a trailer breakdown before a big storm at the end of last year,” Salvaggio recalls. “We happened to be on tour that week, so it was a devastating experience. We missed shows, which we never do, and it was like 15 below. Our van battery died and we couldn’t get a tow truck. It was like an anxiety attack. Like, ‘Am I in the movie ‘Alive?’’ That’s when the band decided to film their surroundings, to show the fans the ins and outs, the nuts and bolts, the unglamorous details of their lives as a working band. “It’s not us needing white linens, like Jennifer Lopez requests on her rider. It was Rob fixing the axle with frostbite from the lower half of his body to his feet,” Salvaggio said. Anew Revolution weren’t about to sugarcoat things; they exposed the raw nerve of band life. They also elected to turn the footage over to CNN’s iReport. 120,000 views later, they got a call from CNN proper, which wanted to do a piece on the band, thusly raising their visibility. “This is not Britney crashing a Mercedes,” Salvaggio said. “This is a band that does this for a living and this is what the band has to do in on their own to survive.”
The band’s experiences, such as the van breakdown, coupled with the state of America as we know it, lends a darker cast to the album, whose title is a play on being constantly plugged in, on iPhones, iPods, etc. But the only way out of the darkness and into the light is through it. Music helps make that journey through a little more bearable, and that’s something Anew Revolution recognizes. “The one thing we tried to do is be more cathartic,” Salvaggio said. “We want to release the tension and let everyone know you have a choice and a shot! Come to a show and let it out with us. The show is our release of whatever we have to get rid of it.”
Some of the key tracks on iMerica include “Head Against the Wall,” which was written a year ago and is self-explanatory. Salvaggio recalled, “We had finished touring for fourteen months and when you are four guys with each other for a long time, you hit a wall. We were trying to write the song and things weren’t going our way. So Joey wrote the song about frustration about being against the wall, about trying to get by.” Salvaggio calls the song “Broken Bones” their “Master of Puppets, a definitive song.” There is also a power ballad dubbed “Take Me Over,” which features a female singer named Carlicia Conner, whose voice is a welcome complement to Duenas’ vocals and who brings a different stylistic element to the song.
iMerica was produced by Ben Schigel in Cleveland and working with the former singer of Switched was a true treat for Anew Revolution. “I’ve worked with big names and not so big names, but for the first time, Ben is one I would work with many times,” Salvaggio said. “He knew our motives and what we wanted. We wanted to be heavier, so this album has more bleeding guitar solos and killer double kick. We love to do it live but on prior albums, we were held back. Ben embraced it and made sure we didn’t hold back. If a solo needed to be there, we didn’t cut it, like a snake slithering through the solo. He was embracing what we had as a goal: heavier, driving, anthemic.”
Salvaggio also sees this album as a graduation, of sorts, for Anew Revolution, saying, “We always project ourselves as an intense, driving band live. When we first started, we were finding our identity, from the EP to the first album, which was us finding our pocket. The birth of this album is where we are going to go and we know we can keep going.”
It’s apparent that nothing can stop Anew Revolution, not the past, not tour issues, not economic issues. While the guys in Anew Revolution may be the ones on stage, stop and take a closer look. They’re not much different than you. They’re making music for themselves and for you. They’re here to remind us that we’re not in this alone, that the vehicle of music cannot unite all of us who live in iMerica. We’re all iMericans when we listen to Anew Revolution.