Cover “The Changing”
It takes a special quality and attitude to set yourself apart in the metal scene, especially when you are based out of the Los Angeles area. There are hundreds of bands. Some say they all sound the same; that there is nothing different about them. Well…let me introduce you to The Changing. They don’t sound like anything else you have heard and their live performance takes that sound and puts it on a display that you can’t ignore.
To listen to The Changing, gives you your first taste of how they are not like the rest. Their riffs, rhythm and combination of metal screams with clean vocals, as well as their open style of song writing ability gives them a sound that isn’t able to be pigeon holed into any one metal genre. To see them live will blow you away and take what you have heard to a whole new level. To see a band that performs, giving more than every ounce of energy they have; to pour their souls on stage, giving each fan, whether die hard loyal fans or first timers, more than the show that they paid for, makes them different. If you paid to see 4 bands and of those 4 bands, one is The Changing doing a 45 minute set; you will get your money’s worth with The Changing alone as they pack 90 minutes of energy into that 45 minutes. When I spoke to the band about this recently, vocalist Kalen Chase (KC) echoed the sentiment about how “It may be the only show these kids can afford to go to,” they aren’t paying to just hear the same music they can hear on their IPod, they came to see a show and if their bodies don’t hurt after they have performed than they haven’t delivered the show that reflects the energy that was put into the music.
With the recent release of their debut full-length album “For Obvious Reasons,” it seems like they have the ability to rest on their laurels and let the rockstardom come to them. Yet, they have the drive to go beyond just making that splash. While many artists experience a sophomore slump, the band has no intention of letting up and standing by to see how the debut album they crafted appeases everyone. Instead they are planning on touring to support “For Obvious Reasons” and are already writing songs and music for their next album.
It was no easy task to get “Reasons” made. Completely self-funded, they developed some key friendships and fans along the way, including Joey Jordison of Slipknot and Jonathan Davis of Korn. The Changing played the last three California dates of the Family Values Tour in 2007 at the request of Davis, whom KC had befriended when he was given a gig in 2006 doing background vocals for Korn, which quickly transformed into KC filling a variety of roles for the band while touring for 2 ½ years. Davis expressed his homage to The Changing with guest vocals on the song “Jerry Bruckheimer.” While on the road for Family Values, they shared a bus with Jordison (who played drums for Korn during the tour). The Changing opened up the main stage of Family Values at the Irvine date with Joey playing guitar, since Jordison had become a huge fan and friend of the band. Jordison also showed them how rock stars of that stature live on the road. The lesson of which did not go unnoticed by The Changing, as they so openly declare that they fully support the partying, hedonistic ways of rock stars that has been lost it seems on many bands coming up.
Like most unsigned bands, with no backing, everything with The Changing is out-of-pocket. Building a fervent, loyal fan base across the country, people were clamoring for the album for about a year. While, The Changing ideally wanted to make a huge splash with a complete package of material beyond just a 12 song LP; however, as detailed by “Chicago” Dan Johnson (bass), they had a band meeting and said “this is about the music,” and moved forward with their release with the means they could come up with. “For Obvious Reasons” was mixed and mastered by Logan Mader (Machinehead, Soulfly) of Dirty Icon, which doesn’t come cheap. President of Hollywood Music, Steve Bartolone, another fan of The Changing, introduced the band to Logan while at a Devil Driver show a couple of years ago and when time came to get the album completed, it was that contact and ensuing friendship with Logan that enabled them to get the album completed with the highest degree of professional production that will stand up to any other finished product with a bigger named band.
The Changing came together as a fusion of two bands, Crucifix Dolls and Synapse. Branden Krull (keyboards) and KC came to LA in 2002 to continue their jaunt as Crucifix Dolls and Kyle Mayer (Drums) came from Chicago with Synapse about a year later. The two bands played together quite extensively for years when in 2006, both bands disbanded. KC, Branden, Kyle and Dan (who played guitar for Crucifix Dolls and another of KC’s projects) came together to form The Changing. Although together the union seems to make musical sense, especially when you hear their creation, the influences they bring to the table are from opposite ends of the spectrum.
The rhythm section of Dan and Kyle have metal influences you would expect with Dan drawing early musical influences from Iron Maiden to the thrash metal scene of Metallica, Megadeth and the only band that mattered to him for several years…fucken Slayer; then moved on to punk influences like Fugazi. Kyle also brings a heavy metal influence of progression with the same thrash starting point as Dan that continued on through Machinehead, Slipknot, Mudvayne and the other bands that progressed the genre through the 90’s and new millennium. KC and Branden definitely have a background that you would not expect from the taste of the music. KC evolved from a Christian and classical music background with metal influences originating from Christian metal bands Zao and Living Sacrifice. KC readily admits that he isn’t that big into metal, although credits Zao as a heavy influence on the entire band. Hands down he cites singer-songwriter and cult icon Tom Waits as his biggest influence. Krull, started with a similar beginning of classical exposure that morphed into a more traditional path of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Black Sabbath and then got caught up in the Grunge movement of the 90’s, since he hails from Seattle. This varied influence and musical background has meshed to create appeal to more than just the head banging, black shirt wearing, punch your friend in the mouth metalers in the mosh pit. Johnson says that the broader appeal comes from their approach of not being caged or limiting themselves to what metal or their sound is supposed to be or adhering to any set of rules that dictate that they HAVE to be a metal band. Krull further explains that their fans are sometimes divided within the context of individual songs since they have different elements; the brutal riffs and screams that are followed by actual singing. “There is no pleasing everybody all the time,” he states. This uncompromising approach to the music has worked out just fine for bands like Killswitch Engage or Slipknot. You go to a show of The Changing and it is not just the moshing metal heads, there are other non-metal types that have an open-minded great appreciation for the totality of their catalogue. Although the songwriting is a collaborative effort; with input from each respective member, it is unified in that you will not get a political statement in any song. With a retro-style, they write about sex, dragons, pirates or whatever is swirling around in their heads
Collectively, the staff at Hollywood Music Magazine are big fans of The Changing. In fact it is hard to find someone that has heard their music or seen them live that aren’t fans. I personally, stumbled across them while looking at someone’s MySpace page that had the song “More Conviction” playing on their media player and instantly, turned it up and said “WTF is this??” and right away wanted more. The first chance I had, I went to see them perform. There was a member of another band standing next to me when The Changing started their set. The guy turned to me and said, “Holy shit…these guys are sick! We have played shows all across the country with some kick-ass bands, but nothing like this!”
“For Obvious Reasons” is available through Itunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and Shockhound. It is highly recommended and don’t pass up the chance to see them live….for obvious reasons.