Guitarist Rex Madden, 25, and drummer Graham Cheek, 22, were left holding the reigns of the band, but instead of letting them go, they strapped in and pulled them back tight. “Our original lineup all went to high school together,” guitarist Rex Madden says. “But after our first record came out, our guitar player left to pursue other things. We replaced him with Nate [McCartney], and then a year ago we lost our singer.
We didn’t have one for about nine months while we were writing our new record.” Enter Joel Owen, a 28-year-old musician who had been in and out of bands since the age of 10. “I was raised in a very musical family, so I got it honest as they say,” he muses. “My cousins, uncles, aunts, mom, and dad were all musicians. My mom was a big piano freak, plus my parents were southern Baptists, so I was raised in church.
I was in the church choir, the school choir, and took piano lessons. Once I got into junior high school I started trying to write my own songs. So yeah, I got it from my mama.” Thanks to the digital age and a little social networking site called MySpace, Madden and the rest of Grace Gale was able to find their vocal match. “A friend of mine saw the band play like a year before and had them as friends on MySpace,” Owen says.
“They were looking for a singer so he sent them to me, and we got in touch and just started talking through the site.” In March 2007, Madden sent tracks over which Owen was to lay vocals. What the multi-instrumentalist sent back was exactly what the band had been searching for, and Owen was on a plane to Colorado by April. “We were kind of stagnant before finding Joel in Birmingham, and after he came out, we were able to finish writing up our record with him and immediately went out on tour.” After moving out to Colorado, Owen had just three months to pen lyrics for the band’s sophomore album Stronger Faster Science, a block of time that took its toll on his family life. “The lyrics are pretty much all about lack of trust,” he explains.
“Sometimes you won’t ever be able to prove yourself to anyone but yourself.” Stronger Faster Science taps right into the celebrated pop-punk sphere, but Owen’s vast vocal ability breathes a veil of fire over the widely coveted sound. Charged tracks like “Pack Mentality” and mellower songs like “Fairweather” grab on to you with familiarity to make you comfortable, but enough of wry, off-the-cuff perspective to keep you entrenched. These ten tracks are invigorating live, and with Owen completing the lineup, Madden and Cheek were finally able to fulfill their true vision of the band: a hard-edged rock group with full-bodied melodic scope. “We are completely reinventing ourselves,” Madden says.
“Our old record was really heavy and sporadic. It was very technical and the vocals were almost all screaming. We wanted to change the band around because it wasn’t ever the band either of us wanted to be in. We just weren’t really into the whole hardcore thing; we wanted to have a more accessible sound.
We’ve always been really into pop-punk, so we wanted to play the music that we like to listen to.” With a new lineup and new outlook, Grace Gale is poised to take over. The band has rallied across the nation, touring relentlessly and spreading the word about their music with a grassroots DIY ethic that has helped them surpass 1 million plays on their fortuitous MySpace page. Now that they know who they are, nothing will stand in their way. “We got into music because we love playing it,” Madden says.
“And we plan on surviving because of it.” Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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