You might have heard that I (Clay) was fortunate enough to share the stage with Swedish progressive metal band Pain of Salvation as their second guitarist on their North American tour this past week and a half. I’m still not really sure how it all happened, but it was amazing to be able to play with them each night. These are truly mega-talented individuals and I’m still in disbelief that it all happened the way it did. The tour itself was a fantastic journey with many twists and turns, including busted transmissions, a few blown tires, runaway bus drivers, torn-off AC units, trips to the emergency rooms, flu epidemics and daily logistical hurdles. But through it all we persevered and can look back on it all with a smile. To my Swedish (and French) brothers, I wish you all the best (and a speedy recovery) and hope to see you in the states very soon!
Oklahoma City based powerhouse VANGOUGH may be named after a post-impressionistic artist, come from a conservative bastion of the U.S. and draw inspiration from a variety of exotic musical styles; yet driven by the explosive, cutting edge vision of guitarist and lead vocalist Clay Withrow, the band's incisive and infectious songs and intense energy requires adjectives far beyond words that describe mainstream artists. So here's an opening attempt: committed to drawing listeners into their melodies before totally upending the tea table, they spit fiery madness by drenching your ears with a purple sunrise of melodic cocaine.
Originally formed around Withrow's well-received 2007 solo debut and evolving over two albums, Vangough - whose current killer lineup includes drummer Kyle Haws and bassist Jeren Martin - combines the groovy attitude of southern metal stalwarts and the quirkiness of contemporary art rock with melodies and textures inspired by music from all over the world. Their often times vintage sound harkens back to the forebearers of progressive rock, giving them a slightly retro feel while retaining the freshness of a forward thinking contemporary band.
With their newly completed second album, the grandiose "Kingdom of Ruin", VANGOUGH have taken their conceptual visions another step ahead. The story of The Rabbit Kingdom is about a man who is stepping through the veil of two realities. One of his human life and the other a land where rabbits rule in an idyllic forest kingdom. Receiving a platitude of critical acclaim including "Best of 2011" from Unprogged and perfect scores from a variety of publications, "Kingdom of Ruin" has become an important landmark on the current music scene and a staple for future progressive bands.