As opening statements go, “Muthafucka, I’m back from the dead. About to raise hell, I’m out of my coma and ready to show ya” rates pretty highly on our ‘outrageous swag-ometer’. The line, accompanied by a fizzing Bolan-esque riff, kicks off Beware Of Darkness’ second album Are You Real? and is an admission, challenge and mission statement all wrapped-up in one.
“When we made the first album, it was honestly the worst experience I’ve had in my life,” says the LA trio’s frontman, Kyle Nicolaides. “I know now how you should never feel when you make a record. Then we toured and I just hit a bottom, personally. The spirit of this record was borne out of wanting to overcome that.”
That gritted-teeth attitude fl ows through just about every facet of Are You Real? - there’s a clarity and determination here sorely missing in many meandering, arthritic rock releases.
Rock 'n' roll (could never hip hop like this)
“I wanted to push the rock ’n’ roll genre forward as much as I could, to make the best rock ’n’ roll record of the last 10 years - something that sounded fresh,” says Kyle.
“I just feel like rock music needs that. I don’t want to hear anymore boring pentatonic riffs and really bad lyrics. That’s why I think hip-hop is winning [the battle for popular music appeal] right now, because there’s an honesty there.”
Are You Real? certainly does feel like an evolution. It’s rooted in everything from T-Rex to Oasis and Led Zeppelin, but the fact that Kyle spent most of the sessions listening to Yeezus and Kendrick Lamar - even co-writing with hip-hop producer Trinity at one point - helps explain the modern tonal bombast.
“I don’t know even know what amps I used on the record, because I broke ’em all!” laughs Kyle. “Within four days every amp I had in the studio was blown. I thought, ‘I have a choice here: I can thrown my guitar against the wall and say, ‘Fuck it!’ or I can move on.’ Because I did the latter, I grabbed amps I’d never played before and we got rad tones that we never would have dreamed about.”
It is, says Kyle, a good metaphor for his approach to the whole album - and life in general. “When something comes at you, you’re either going to stand-up and overcome it, or let it crumble you,” he concludes. “This record was a conscious choice to fight and make it better.”
- For fans of: T-Rex, The Struts, Wolfmother
- Hear: Muthafucka