This year at Fort Rock we decided to approach the festival a little differently than normal. Making time to meet up with some of our favorite band members, and a couple new favorites, was a great experience all around.
It comes as no surprise that we jumped at the opportunity to catch up with Hollywood Undead. We've been supporting this band since early Myspace days and were thrilled to catch up with them. The guys were in great spirits and getting ready to hit the stage in just over an hour. We grabbed some group shots, and then Charlie Scene took front and center to kick off the solo portraits.
left to right: Johnny 3 Tears, Danny, Charlie Scene, Funny Man, J-Dog
We were super lucky to have a few minutes with Breaking Benjamin, who just released their latest album Ember in mid-April. Originally the band had little to no time for press, but were extremely personable and happy to grab a photo with us.
left to right: Aaron Bruch (bass), Keith Wallen (guitar), Jasen Rauch (guitar), Shaun Foist (drums), Benjamin Burnley (vocals)
Texas Hippie Coalition (sans Big Dad Ritch) hung out for quite some time and were super happy to take photos and chat with everyone. The band put Denison, Texas on the map (considering the town's claim to fame is being the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower) but the members we chatted with are actually transplants, ranging from other areas in Texas to all the way in Oklahoma. The band is set to release their sixth album in 2018, but we're still waiting on the details to come out.
left to right: Rado (bass), Nevada Romo (guitar), Timmy Braun (drums), Cord Pool (guitar)
Red Sun Rising recently released Thread, their follow up to 2015's Polyester Zeal. We were able to woo the band with promises of gushers and other various snacks. Luckily they all appreciate the fine art of high-fructose corn syrup as much as we do. Plus with Ricky Miller's pug shirt, we had plenty to talk about. Ricky even took control of the interview, questioning his fellow band mates, and acting as interview host. It was hilarious to watch, and it's easy to see that these guys are just as close off stage.
left to right: Ricky Miller (bass), Ryan Williams (guitar), Dave McGarry (guitar), Pat Gerasia (drums)
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown were absolute gems, and the camera clearly loves them all. The Nashville based band has been touring relentlessly and released their self-titled Snakefarm Records debut on November 3rd. The band intertwines rock and roll with Bryant's bluesy undertones, most notably heard in “Ramblin Bones,” which he started writing when he was only seventeen. We had some extra time with Caleb Crosby and Noah Denney, as they were the first to make their way over, but they returned with Bryant and Graham Whitford. They are all genuine, hard-working, nice people, and we were thrilled to be introduced to their music.
left to right: Graham Whitford (guitar), Caleb Crosby (drums), Tyler Bryant (vocals/guitar), Noah Denney (bass)
Jeff Gutt of Stone Temple Pilots was nice enough to let us grab a photo during his brief moment in the media area. Despite only doing press with a radio station he was happy to take photos with those that asked. While lots of people were nervous to approach, and preferred watching from a far, Gutt was a total gentleman, and we couldn't wait to catch his performance later that afternoon.
There may not have been a more personable band during the weekend than Toothgrinder. After their performance the band headed over to do interviews and stuck around to make sure everyone that wanted to, had a chance to talk to them. While their on stage presence is intense and in-your-face, they are down to earth and easy to talk to in person. They were glad to be in Florida, but the South Florida heat may have been just a tad extreme for the New Jersey crew, as they gave us their "it's so hot I'm melting" pose.
left to right: Justin Matthews (vocals), Johnuel Hasney (guitar), Matt Arensdorf (bass), Wills Weller (drums)
Matt Byrne, drummer of Hatebreed, came by for just a moment, and chatted about how much he was enjoying the Florida weather. Byrne has been the drummer for Hatebreed since 2001, though he joined the band originally in 1998. After touring, Byrne realized himself and the other members were just in different places in life, and he left the band in 1999. It may have been for the best, as his return has cemented him as one of the greatest hardcore drummers of our time. Byrne emphasizes improvisation in his drumming technique, taking jam beats from the studio and working them into the live performance to set the backdrop for the rest of the band.
Von Freeman, the marking director of 104.3 The Shark, stopped by while taking a break from watching the bands perform.
Closing out the festival, Commissioner Chip LaMarca of Broward County made an appearance on behalf of Broward Mayor Beam Furr. AEG's VP John Valentino and his representatives on site joined LaMarca for an official proclamation on behalf of Monster Energy and Fort Rock. The official proclamation decreed that the Board hereby designated Sunday, April 29th. 2018 as "Broward County Monster Energy Fort Rock Festival Appreciation Day." Welcome home to South Florida, Fort Rock!