State of Shock to release Life Love and Lies
State Of Shock’s boisterous brand of straight ahead rock has made them one of Canada’s most popular rock bands. The Vancouver fivesome has made all their own breaks, packing a no-frills rock arsenal that has seen them knock down all doors despite the odds, propelled by an irresistible hit single, the soaring # 1 Canadian hit “Money Honey.” Today, the tight-knit group finds themselves perfectly poised for their first taste of American success thanks to their Universal Republic debut, Life, Love & Lies. Their power rock smash single has already hit #1 on Sirius Satellite radio’s influential charts after taking off across the border as one of the biggest Canadian rock anthems of the past several years.
The catchy “Money Honey” has been nothing short of a rock phenomenon: Already certified platinum in Canada, it has lodged near-permanent Top 10 status at multiple Canadian radio formats, including Rock, CHR, and Hot AC – netting the hard-working band three Canadian Radio Awards, including Best New Group, Best New Group at the CHR format, and the Canadian 2008 ‘Indie’ Award for Favorite Single Of The Year, beating out standout artists such as Arcade Fire and Feist. “Money Honey” also held down the #1 post on the Canadian all formats Radio Chart for two months, spending close to a year on the Canadian Billboard Hot 100 singles Chart. Culled from their 2007 epic, Life, Love & Lies, (released in Canada on Cordova Bay Records), the group’s relentless touring regimen provided them with a loyal fan base who now follows their every move whether live or online. "We love our fans for believing in us,” says Drummer Johnny Philippon. “Our philosophy from the start has been to nurture that support and also to believe in ourselves. We were more than confident in our music and just said, 'If anyone ever gives us a chance, good things will happen.’”
Artist: State of Shock
Title: Life Love and Lies
Release date: 10/28/08
Label: Cordova Bay/Universal Republic
State of Shock
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But by no means was it an easy ride. Guitarist Jesse Wainwright, Vocalist Cameron Melnyk, and Drummer Johnny Philippon formed the nucleus of their music making (in one form or another) since the late 1990s. “We all go back a ways,” says Cameron. “Jesse and I have been playing in bands together since we were kids. So even though we all have different influences, there is a trust level when it comes to adding elements to the music that brings it all together.” The boys all cut their live-performance teeth early on playing at local recreation centers. Band names and lineups might have changed, but the friends also found time to mix it up in local hockey play, as well. “It’s true about Canada, growing up you’re either playing in a band or playing hockey. We knew we weren’t fodder for the NHL, so here we are,” jokes Cameron.
Still, there were other bumps in the road. Cameron left the rock n’roll life for his own stint in college, but returned to his musical past. His former bandmates welcomed him back by handing over the lead vocal reins to the effusive singer. Thus State of Shock was born. “The return was accidental, in a way. I had gone to one of their shows, but just as a fan. Next thing I know Jesse calls me up and asked me to come into the studio with them. But I was itching to go. There was one particular song I knew I just had to sing. Even practiced it in my dad’s office before I went in to the studio and gave it a try.”
In 2003 the guys put an ad in the local paper for a bassist. Disappointed in the response, they created another ad, but this time for a female bass player. “Alison Toews was the first one that answered,” recalls Guitarist and songwriter Jesse Wainwright. “We just liked her spirit, and how well we all seem to click from the start.” The addition of Guitarist Simon Clow would eventually complete the SOS lineup.
Recognition from the Canadian rock scene also started to create some momentum. In 2004 the band won an influential Canadian Radio contest which garnered them significant live exposure in Western Canada. Two years of non-stop touring followed – the band-in-a-van variety - where the group lived off the fat (or lean) of the Canadian rock landscape while they honed both their live playing and songwriting skills. The undeniable State of Shock chemistry really began to blossom during their lively songwriting process. “We have always enjoyed working as one. Creating something out of nothing,” says Cameron. “We write about real things that happen to us. We’re family and friends but we are also survivors, so we know what stories to tell.” Cameron points to the members’ broad musical passions – ‘Jesse loves his country and Guns N’ Roses/Johnny his Top 40/I like a little bit of everything: Beatles, Black Crowes, Jeff Buckley…,’ and surmises that the eclectic connection between them and the other SOS members – Simon and Alison - ‘all fuses together to create that certain ‘something’ in the end.’ Adds Johnny: “Bands write, record, tour and all of that, but once that whole thing is done, we'll all sit down and write again. We always have notepads kicking around and we're always writing down ideas, so the juices are always flowing.”
Those ‘creative juices’ are what kept all the members’ spirits up through some of the harder times that a rock band experiences. Their never-say-die attitude also landed them two rock production Aces to help guide the making of their 2007 breakthrough album Life, Love & Lies: Canadian producer Jeff Dawson (Tal Bachman), and noted rock mixer/engineer Mike Fraser (ACDC/Metallica). Dawson’s pop insight melded perfectly with Fraser’s crackling rock instincts, fitting State Of Shock’s crisp, trademark sound like a glove. “We scraped together whatever we could through friends and family to fund the album ourselves,” says Johnny. “Jeff and Mike were both able to capture the raw enthusiasm we have for this music.” Lightning in a bottle is how many rock critics have viewed the runaway success of “Money Honey," which has set the stage for an impressive array of achievements in 2008 that rivals many of Canada’s hit-making veterans.
Some of that good fortune included opening up for rock giants such as Aerosmith at a concert in Sarnia, Ontario last year, and landing the opening slot of Nickelback’s sold-out Canadian summer tour. Their second single released in Canada, the searing anthem, "Hearts That Bleed," also became a multi-format smash, reflecting the disc’s depth and burgeoning international appeal. Life, Love & Lies’ ability to capture the spectrum of solid, straight-ahead rock flavorings while maintaining the formidable State Of Shock sound is a testament to the band’s open-ended approach to songwriting.
Cameron points to the gut wrenching ballad “Different Day,” as a song that best reflects the group’s intricate sparring both as songwriters and as storytellers. “You can break that song down and see it very clearly. It means a lot to all of us, the story behind it as well as the overall ‘feeling’ our fans seem to take away from that one.” Another ballad, the soaring “Best I Ever Had,” also displays the group’s ability to evoke emotional highs and lows.
Right now, however, it’s the sonically charged “Money Honey,” that has tongues beginning to wag in the U.S. Its no-holds barred approach exemplifies State Of Shock’s uncanny ability to ‘nail’ that elusive ‘classic rock’ sound. “It’s funny but that’s one of the last songs we wrote for the album” says Cameron. “It was one of those things that was just a fun ride from start to finish.”
Johnny Philippon and Jesse Wainwright have gone through a few band names and group members since first hooking up in 1999. But now — eight years, a 2004 CFOX Seeds contest victory, one album and a 2005 Canadian Independent Music Award favourite new group nomination later — the new and improved State Of Shock has definitely got it right.
The Vancouver quintet’s new Cordova Bay Records release, Life, Love & Lies, sees it ready to take the next step and join similar west coast acts Nickelback, Theory Of A Deadman and Default as shining stars on the Canadian and international rock scenes.
“We definitely went from an immature heavy rock band to finding our comfort zone with the more pop-rock melodic music that we have today on this record,” says Philippon.
State Of Shock has honed its commercial sound as its members have spent more time together, spending weeks at a time in a van crossing back and forth across Canada and allowing everyone to have input into the songwriting process so that there are no ego problems to deal with. All five musicians have a stake in making the band as successful as possible, and they have people behind them who believe as much in Life, Love & Lies as they do.
“Our parents’ bank accounts are on it,” says Philippon. “We’ve begged, borrowed and pleaded with everybody we know. It’s not cheap to make a record with the professionals we’re using and the studios we went in.”
Those professionals include producer Jeff Dawson (Daniel Powter, Tal Bachman), who recorded the album in late 2006 at Vancouver’s Mushroom and Hipposonic Studios, and hard rock specialist Mike Fraser, who mixed the record at the city’s Warehouse Studios and added State Of Shock to a list of credits that already included AC/DC, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Metallica and Rush.
“Working with Jeff was great because he has a bit of a different background that was a little more pop-oriented, and we were one of the first bands that was a little heavier that he had worked with,” says Wainwright. “So he brought a bit of a different element in and things that we normally wouldn’t have thought of as far as little production things on the record.”
The shiny yet still powerful music on Life, Love & Lies caught the attention of Cordova Bay, the Frontside Promotions marketing and promotion firm and The Agency Group’s Ralph James, who landed State Of Shock a coveted opening spot on Nickelback’s Canadian tour that launches nine days after the album’s June 19 release.
“Once we do the full cross-Canada tour, it will start opening a lot of doors,” says Wainwright of the opportunity to show thousands of rock fans the energy and skillful musicianship that his band possesses.
“The more successful we become, the more accepting our peers are,” adds Philippon. “That’s what this business is all about for us.”
That success has initially come through the warm reception Canadian radio stations have given lead single Money Honey, which has shot up the rock chart and is set to cross over to Hot AC and CHR and become a multi-format smash.
“It starts off with a tongue in cheek reference in the hook line, ‘If I had more money honey, would you love me, love me, love me,’” explains Wainwright. “But it’s a relationship song looking at it from an outside opinion.
“Everybody always thinks that if you have more, it’s going to make everything better. In reality, it’s not going to make a difference.”
Wainwright and his bandmates may be able to put that theory to the test very soon. With an album full of potential singles, and a desire to hit the road and do whatever’s needed to promote them, it almost seems inevitable that State Of Shock will have more cash coming their way than they ever have before.
And even if money can’t buy happiness, Wainwright hopes that it can at least get them a tour bus.
Johnny Philippon Drums
Jesse Wainwright Guitar
Cam Melnyk Vocals
Simon Clow (Kadooh) Guitar
Alison Toews Bass
Life Love and Lies Tracklisting
1. Life, Love & Lies
2. Hearts That Bleed
3. Too Pretty
4. Best I Ever Had
5. Day After Day
6. Money Honey
7. Honeymoon's Over
8. Different Day
10. Pieces of You
"Life Love and Lies" by State of Shock - release date: 10/28/08..