Perhaps its every drummer's dream to one day be called upon to step out from behind the drum kit to become the frontman for the band. Francis Mark, drummer and formerly co-vocalist of New York-based hard rock band FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES, recently found himself in this situation. Just as the band was in the midst of recording their fourth full-length disc, "Holding A Wolf By The Ears" (due April 10 on Vagrant), frontman and co-vocalist Ben Perri announced he had "lost his passion" and was quitting the band.
Plenty of bands have broken up over lesser events, but instead FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES came together rather than fall apart. "I would have to say that things just ran their course," says Mark. "I was upset the morning I got the news that Ben was out of the band, but it was also very liberating because only I could deliver the vocals the way they were happening in my mind. He was not in the studio with us so he had no concept of the magic that was happening. I really do believe that the recording studio is one of the few places on Earth that magic exists, when the right combination of people are present. This album is a perfect portrait of what we've been striving for. It marks the first time I've felt truly proud of myself in quite a while, and that's what is important."
The twelve songs on "…Wolf" debut Mark's vocal evolution as he complements his familiar clean singing with a new bottomless growl that perfectly meshes into the bands sound. Having fronted hardcore bands previously, as well as BIOLOGY, his own band, it's not an entirely new position.
Formed in 2000, FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES became known for their bruising live shows and for deftly marrying melody to the punishing, aggressive hardcore sound. The band released their first album, "Too Bad You're Beautiful", on Ferret in 2001 that went on to sell over 100,000 copies. The band signed to Vagrant in 2003 and released "The Fiction We Live" (over 150,000 sold), but trouble began brewing in 2005 while the band began recording "Abandon Your Friends".
The following 18 months found the band dealing with internal conflicts as well as rumors and skepticism that they would last much longer. After a five-month hiatus, they agreed to join the 2006 Vans Warped Tour with new guitarist Rob Lauritsen, and came away from the tour united, positive and anxious to enter the studio to begin recording.
The core members, Mark, bassist Josh Newton and guitarist Brian Deneeve, began writing and recording "Holding A Wolf By The Ears" in September and, based on past experience, Mark spent weeks carefully crafting lyrics for all the songs. The band began to travel back and forth to producer Brian McTernan's Salad Days studio in Baltimore, but Perri was once again MIA. Finally, as chronicled on the band's MySpace page, the day that vocal tracking was to begin, Perri emailed the band to say that he was not joining them in the studio.
Says Mark, "Many people would define poetry as saying one thing and meaning another. I'm trying to say one thing and have it mean five different things to five different people. These are the most optimistic lyrics that I have ever written. It just may seem otherwise because they're an assessment of our current environment. The human condition looks grim to anyone with a conscience. I would also like it to be known that while some of my words seem to ridicule religious faith...well, I'm saying one thing and meaning five others."
FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES will spend two solid months on the road beginning in March as they co-headline with HASTE THE DAY and are joined by MAYLENE & THE SONS OF DISASTER and ALESANA. Exact dates are to be announced.
"Holding a Wolf by the Ears" track listing:
01. Deth Kult Social Club
02. On the Offensive
03. Recounts and Recollections
04. Daylight Slaving
05. Delusions of Grandeur
06. Sensory Deprivation Adventure
07. Every Thing I Need
08. Underpass Tutorial
09. Love It of Left It
11. A Goat in Sheep's Rosary