the Architects Bio:
On their fourth album, The Hard Way (Skeleton Crew) The Architects have hammered out another batch of songs steeped in bitter Kansas City tap water and fortified with stone cold badass. Still stubbornly free of gimmicks, costumes and celebreality bullshit, The Architects are all piss and vinegar and good tunes, delivered with guts and authenticity…just as it should be.
The lyrical core of The Hard Way is drawn from the deep pools of songsmiths like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Tom Petty, while the roaring, crashing sonic inspiration comes from the likes of The Clash, AC/DC, The Replacements and The Who- purveyors of glorious fist-pumping racket one and all, and classically anti-heroic in their dedication to rock and roll as a high principal, a sacramental catharsis and an express ticket to either glory or the grave. An ethos clearly shared and embraced by The Architects boys.
“We are still our father’s sons with respect to our heroes.” Says singer/songwriter and eldest brother Brandon Phillips describing the evolution of The Architects sound and the creation of The Hard Way. “The one thing that I knew I could improve on from the last album, was to give all these new songs more of a pulse. I still love writing noir-type songs about cops and robbers but the characters needed to feel more real. I needed to channel some emotion in there this time. ”
Songs like the infectious “Lost in the Dark”- an up-tempo rocker dealing with the misfortune and struggle of a drug-addicted couple, and “I Carry a Gun”- a slamming, arena rocking anthem of macho pathos and tragic foreboding show a distinct Tom Petty-ish-ness with the former sounding like “American Girl” living in drug-poor squalor and the latter like a sociopathic “Refugee” getting the short end of the stick from both nature and nurture. Meanwhile, the fast, hyper-catchy bop of “Knowing is Half the Bottle” channels The Dictators in both music and spirit.
Coming off 2006’s raw, violence-prone and highly-acclaimed “Revenge” and 2008’s ferocious and darkly tuneful “Vice” Brandon and his two younger brothers Zach (bass) and Adam (drums) – all formerly having paid dues as the core members of the cult punk-ska-soul group The Gadjits- as well as non-family member Keenan Nichols (guitar) reaffirmed their collective commitment to quality rock and roll and went for a new approach to the song cycle on The Hard Way. “Somewhere in the process of trying to breathe life into these characters and stories, the music and the lyrics just became more natural-sounding.” Brandon says, “You can’t detect quite as much carpentry on these songs.”
The Architects fresh approach to The Hard Way has yielded anthemic songs like “Hell Came To Breakfast”, an up-tempo epic which, due in no small part to The Architects craftsman-like approach and to the return of platinum certified producer Aaron Conner (Bone Thugs N Harmony), actually has the legs to stand well above the histrionics and solipsism of your average up-tempo epic rocker. “Aaron gets personally invested in the work we do and would not want his name on some awful sounding piece of shit. “ Brandon says. “Aaron has a reputation for good mixes and no bullshit…which means that we can trust him. Trust is paramount. You have to be able to trust your producers experience and his ears. “
True to The Architects form, The Hard Way resonates with big, classic rock sounds like those of late 70’s groups. Cases in point- “This Wasted Ocean” rattles and shakes with Isle Of Wright-era The Who, propelled by explosive frenzies of drums and roaring guitar. Elsewhere, “Death Rides a Horse” brings Sabbath’s epic dirge face to face with ZZ Top’s dark and dusty Deguello while “Big Iron Gate” takes home a blue ribbon for best confluence of AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen influences ever.
“I have an axe to grind with law enforcement and the way we treat crime and punishment in this country.” Says, Brandon about the aforementioned “Big Iron Gate” – a classic sounding jail-song in nearly every sense. “ I love that song because I happen to feel strongly about the subject matter and because the particular style of the song allowed me to break out my snottiest Midwestern drawl.”
That snotty Midwestern drawl and hard-nosed Midwestern work ethic will serve The Architects well as they embark this summer on the entire 2009 Vans Warped Tour to bring The Hard Way and The Architects certifiably stellar live performances to kids across North America through a gauntlet of dust, grit, sweat, three-two beer, dehydration and sunstroke- you can bet your ass it won’t be easy and you can bet your ass that The Hard Way is where The Architects thrive.