The second TenSixtyFive music festival returns to three stages in downtown Mobile Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. All outdoor events are free. Headliners include the Counting Crows, Seether, Dirty Heads, Moon Taxi, Blind Melon and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. For deals and accommodations click here. Interviews with members of Seether, Blind Melon, Moon Taxi and Dirty Heads are below.
Blind Melon keeping Shannon Hoon’s music alive, 21 years after death
Band: Blind Melon
Date: Fri., Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.
Stage: Jake Peavey Foundation Stage
In the early days of the alt. rock revolution, Blind Melon crafted a sound that existed in some galaxy light years away from other bands featured on mainstream radio. This L.A. band won over a legion of fans with a balance of classic and alt. rock, creeping into the music scene with their haunting smash hit “No Rain,” part of the soundtrack defining Generation X.
Their self-titled debut was a critical success, showcasing beautiful rock anthems such as “Tones of Home” and “Change.” Their sophomore effort “Soup” and its initial single “Galaxy” was equally well-received, but the untimely death of vocalist Shannon Hoon brought Blind Melon’s rise to a halt.
While the band still desired to perform, guitarist Christopher Thorn admits reviving Blind Melon was a challenge. Finding a vocalist who delivered lyrics matching Hoon’s “sentiment and spirit” was difficult, Thorn said, but eventually they crossed paths with Travis Warren.
Warren was the only person to come close to Hoon’s emotion and energy, plus, he was a zealous Hoon fan himself.
“Travis is the first person to say to the audience, ‘Hey, look, I wish that I was in the audience watching Shannon tonight, but he’s not here, and I’m gonna do the best job that I can do,’” Thorn said. “Travis is the biggest fan. He feels honored and lucky to be singing these songs, but he knows that Shannon’s shoes are big shoes to fill.”
These days, Blind Melon’s live shows are few and far between. They’ve only released one album of new material with Warren, 2008’s “For My Friends.” But when they do perform, fans old and new flock to their stage.
Thorn describes Hoon’s work as being “real songs about real people” that have a connective power with the listener. With both old and new material, they’ve also taken a timeless approach to studio production, employing analog methods used by classic rock legends such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
“There are no tricks,” said Thorn. “It’s five guys playing real instruments and playing rock ‘n’ roll together. I think that never feels dated, when it’s done right. When you write songs that connect with people, those are songs that can live on for a long time.”
The TenSixtyFive crowd shouldn’t be surprised to hear something new from the band. Thorn says they have been trading “riffs and partial songs” over the internet, but recording has been a problem.
Thorn and bassist Brad Smith both have separate music projects. Drummer Glen Graham is an artist, and lead guitarist Rogers Stevens is an attorney. But they all still have a passion for music.
“The band is in a good place now,” Thorn said. “We’re playing great, and we’re all good friends. It feels good to get out and play. We would love to work on some new material.”
Nashville’s Moon Taxi will perform two shows in one night
Band: Moon Taxi
Date: Fri., Sept. 30, 8:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Stage: Jake Peavey Foundation Stage
There’s no law against it, but the lineup for a Southeastern music festival shouldn’t be considered complete without an ambassador from Nashville. With recent performances at Hangout Fest and Soul Kitchen, the Music City’s Moon Taxi has become a regional favorite, delivering a dreamy style of indie pop filled with flawless vocals and versatile arrangements.
In the midst of touring in support of “Daybreaker,” Moon Taxi surprised its fan base with the release of their live album “New Year’s Eve 2015,” documenting the seventh anniversary of a cherished band tradition. Each New Year’s Eve, the band loads its gear onto the stage at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium for an evening that guitarist/vocalist Spencer Thomson describes as filled with a “feeling of vitality and nostalgia.”
According to Thomson, the live album documents the positive musical “looseness” of a Moon Taxi show, demonstrating a greater volume and “visceral impact” compared to a studio recording.
“We just planned the show to be the best possible show it could be for the people who were there for that night,” said Thomson. “I honestly don’t think anyone on stage was really even thinking about the fact that it was being recorded.”
Moon Taxi’s TenSixtyFive set will not be the only chance to hear the band Sept. 30. At 11 p.m., their alter ego, People of the Sun, will perform an entire set as Rage Against the Machine at Soul Kitchen ($20 tickets sold separately). According to Thomson, their tribute project is not an easy task.
“It requires quite a bit of energy and focus to pull off [Rage Against the Machine] music,” says Thomson. “It forces us out of our comfort zone and is kind of a cathartic, therapeutic exercise in releasing tension and anger in a healthy, non-destructive way.”
Thomson says the band plans to maintain its momentum, touring in support of “Daybreaker” while also compiling new material for its follow-up. Thomson says that their fans can look forward to “bright, shiny things” in 2017.
Seether is back on the road while fine-tuning their latest album
Date: Sat., Oct. 1 at 8:45 p.m.
Stage: Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Stage
For more than a decade, Seether has dominated mainstream rock radio with numerous hits, not limited to “Fine Again” and “Gasoline” from its 2002 debut album “Disclaimer.” Over the years, Seether has made Mobile one of its regular tour stops, but their last was in 2011, traveling in support of the album “Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray.”
They opened for Three Doors Down last summer before taking a short hiatus, but drummer John Humphrey said Seether is excited to return.
“We are ultimately a live touring band,” he said. “We’re looking forward to coming back. It’s been a down year for us. We’ve been working on a new album and done a handful of shows. This will be a rare opportunity to play in 2016. So, this will be a special one.”
Humphrey said the currently untitled album began with vocalist/guitarist Shaun Morgan bringing 22 songs into a Nashville studio, “Seetherizing” them, then choosing 15 for the final cut. It’s their longest album to date.
“I think the last album (2014’s “Isolate & Medicate”) we cut it down to 10 (tracks),” Humphrey explained. “It’s always good to have some extra tracks for any situation that might arrive. It might be on a soundtrack or a B-side or be a fan release situation. So, we always like to have a little extra, and we were able to do that this time.”
The band is producing the album in-house with engineer Matt Hyde (Deftones, Monster Magnetic) at the mixing board. Humphrey said the band’s years of experience has allowed them to evolve, but the new album draws from their past.
“To me, ‘Disclaimer’ is a straight-ahead rock album with no frills,” he said. “It’s guitar, bass, drums and the band as you hear it live. We returned to that with this, sonically. It’s just a band as you’d hear it. It’s a very organic and live album. It’s the band being the band, but it has the musical maturity of ‘Isolate.’
But TenSixtyFive will be treated to existing material. Humphrey said the band prefers to release albums prior to debuting new songs live, but he indicated the band would be touring extensively next year.
“Eventually, we’ll have the first single out, and we’re on tour next year,” he said. “Trust me, there were be a lot of new music premiered.”
Dirty Heads bringing dub back to where they started
Band: Dirty Heads
Date: Sat., Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.
Stage: Jake Peavey Foundation Stage
One of the highlights of the inaugural TenSixtyFive — which filled the void last year after BayFest’s sudden cancellation — was a high-energy set from West Coast dub superstars Sublime with Rome. For this year’s installment, Dirty Heads’ may establish a dub tradition at TenSixtyFive, with a performance promising to be one of the most exciting of the weekend.
This group from Huntington Beach used its adrenalized mix of reggae and hip-hop to establish itself, releasing its debut album “Any Port in a Storm” in September 2008, 20 years after Sublime’s formation. Vocalist/guitarist Duddy B. said he was not surprised that the West Coast Dub scene has had staying power and increasing popularity. He noted the style of music spreads a positive vibe to fans, while also allowing casual reggae fans to expand beyond Bob Marley’s “Legend.”
“Up until Sublime blew up, [Bob Marley] is all they knew,” Duddy B. said “I think Sublime really opened up people’s eyes to more out there. There’s a lot of good stuff. The movement has definitely grown a lot, since we started. It’s been fun to watch.”
The band is currently on tour performing songs from their self-titled, fifth studio album, released in July. The nostalgic anthem “That’s All I Need,” the album’s first single, was released in May. Duddy B. describes the album as a nod to the band’s past.
“From the first album to now, we’ve figured out who we are as a band,” he said. “We figured out where we’re at, and we found ourselves.”
While using their older material as a foundation, Dirty Heads aimed to demonstrate their growth and experience. To record “Dirty Heads,” the band recruited an extensive production team from extremely different backgrounds.
Notables such as Da Internz (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj), Drew Pearson (Katy Perry, Zac Brown Band), David Kahne (Lana Del Rey, The Strokes), Jimmy Harry (Madonna, Diplo) and Jonas Jeberg (Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony) joined the studio effort. Duddy B. says the experience created a dynamic recording environment they intend to recreate for future albums.
“You learn a lot, and you grow a lot,” he said. “I think we’ll always do that from here on out. Every album, we’re going to write with as many people as we can.”
Duddy B. said crowds at shows earlier this summer have reacted positively to the effort and the new music has invigorated the band’s live performance.
“It’s always great to see how they react,” he said. “The feedback has been great. Everybody is digging the album, so we’re stoked.”