Mayhem Festival

Picking yourself up off the canvas is never an easy thing. Losing a lead singer and band member is about the hardest thing a band can endure, nevermind losing a close friend. But, less than two years after the unfortunate passing of singer Mitch Lucker, Suicide Silence is back, unleashing a new record unto the world and starting their bold ascent back up the mountain. Here to share a few words about overcoming loss and starting again, is Mark Heylmun, on the road at Mayhem Fest.

Let's get right to business. On the road for Mayhem Fest, fresh off putting the polishing touches on a new record due out in the fall, three members of the Texas Hippie Coalition were gracious enough to sit down with us (again) to take on a few questions. We corralled the red dirt metallers long enough to talk their new record, the theory of their music and old-school recording techniques. Read on:

As the sun descended and the heat abated giving way to a more palatable if not comfortable evening, the lights of the main stage blared in a dazzling display, challenging the darkness of the coming night and drawing the gathered throngs, thus far aimed in different directions throughout the day, with a singular purpose. These final four acts bore the responsibility as headliners to make sure that the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival would end with memorable notes.

John 5 is one of those rare talents on guitar who manages to stand tall, outside the shadow of the hugely popular frontman of whatever band he's playing in. Much the same as Dave Navarro shines equally to Perry Farrell, Zakk Wylde was equal to Ozzy and Slash overcame the overbearing Axl Rose, John 5 has done the same in both Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Disarmingly polite and soft-spoken in person, we sat down with John 5 to find out what makes him tick, what music he loves, and naturally, to talk about the new Rob Zombie record.

…And so we come to the main stage. Mayhem Fest, in a credit to its organizers, did a much better job this year of spacing the last second stage set (Children of Bodom) and the first main stage set. The crowd was settling in but present when Amon Amarth was revealed. For all that the Swedish band eschews the dramatic musical flair of their contemporaries, they swing a very large hammer when it comes to set design.

We discussed this last year, but the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival remains the preeminent mobile showcase of alternative music of any type. It has been so successful in six years that it has not only overshadowed the Warp Tour, but has spawned a second, smaller circuit, the Uproar Festival. Mayhem Fest is one of those special times of year when all the major and minor metal labels, from Universal and Atlantic to Century Media, Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast and including Victory and Sumerian, join forces to show off their product and give the fans the best possible experience.

Asking Alexandria was technically asked to open the main stage, but in reality, they were ex post facto to Anthrax, and began performing as soon as the veteran band had finished. As such, double A (not Arn Anderson,) was forced to deal with the nearly impossible task of playing to a transitory audience. They had completed “Welcome,” and were through a good portion of “Closure” before the bulk of the crowd moving from one stage to another had even had their tickets checked.

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is an event practically out of its time. A traveling commercial, musical carnival in the era when all merchandise is available online and every conceivable form of entertainment, from live performances to shocking freakery, can be accessed by those with a broadband connection. Beyond that, it is also one of the last of the dying breed of road-bound music festivals, surviving in the post-Ozzfest, re-created Lollapalooza era.