Southern California quintet Saosin are one of the fastest-growing headliners in rock – earning mainstage slots on the Vans Warped Tour, selling out clubs in a flash, going out with heavyweights like AFI, Avenged Sevenfold, My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday and garnering an ocean of fans who’ve downloaded their songs from MySpace over five million times – all before they’ve released a full-length album.
That will all change on September 26th with the Capitol Records release of their self-titled debut. As your average Saosin fan (and there are legions) will be quick to point out, the wait was a considerable one. “We were waiting until the songs were right,” says frontman Cove Reber with some understatement.
It’s been three years since word of the band’s full-length debut first surfaced, and in that time a lot has changed within the music scene from which they originally emerged and within the band itself.
Seemingly overnight, stylized bands playing strains of melodic post-hardcore have sailed up the pop charts. But for Saosin -- Reber, bassist Chris Sorenson, drummer Alex Rodriguez, and guitarists Beau Burchell and Justin Shekoski -- things have played out a bit differently. During the scene’s ascension, the band’s members have all but shunned the idea of a genre tag or an “image” -- unless, of course, you count the jeans and t-shirts they soak in sweat every night onstage -- and have instead focused their energies on making an album that will live or die strictly on musical merits.
“At first we said we weren’t interested in putting the album out on a major label,” says Burchell. “We wanted to grow first.”
But the band’s sound and its ambition grew tremendously during the recording of their 12-song debut, an album that exceeds even the wildest of expectations. From the dueling guitar crunch of opener “It’s Far Better to Learn” to the nosebleed anthemic heights of lead single “Voices,” the livewire maelstrom of “Follow and Feel” and epic heartstring-puller “You’re Not Alone,” Saosin have created the kind of debut album that announces something indisputably new under rock’s sun.
“It was a long time coming,” says Sorenson, “but finishing the album really put a fire under our asses and we were better for it.”
The initial stages of the band’s debut date back to late 2003 when founding guitarists Burchell and Shekoski and original frontman Anthony Green began playing out, recorded a quick EP, Translating the Name, and embarked on a U.S. tour during which time Green exited the band. To the group’s surprise Translating the Name garnered the band a massive fanbase both online and at their live shows, which grew organically, and quickly.
The band, however, was so hands-off about promoting themselves that Google searches of the band turned up precious little info.
“It was cool if you knew about the band, we weren’t always easy to find,” says Burchell. “But I think that really brought kids together, having to actually make the effort to track us down.”
A collection of rabid fans with Ethernet connections soon began arguing about such pressing matters as how the band’s name was actually pronounced (it’s “say-o-sin”) and what it actually means (Saosin means “small heart” in Chinese. The word comes from a 15th century proverb about fathers telling their sons who are being married off for money not to get emotionally involved with their wives, who could die at any time.)
In the winter of 2005 the revamped Saosin lineup with Sorenson, Rodriguez and new frontman Reber signed to Capitol, released a self-titled EP of demos and live tracks, and began pre-production on their long-awaited full-length debut. As the band recorded various versions of their new songs -- both at their home studios and on a mobile recording unit that they set up on their tour bus – the burden of heavy expectations eventually gave way to genuine excitement.
“I would demo stuff with Chris,” Reber recalls, “and say, ‘This is really good – we can’t not run with this.’”
In turn, the album that Saosin began recording with producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Head Automatica) this past January -- nearly a full year after they began properly demoing its songs -- would live up to the band’s great expectations, and then some. More importantly, though, it proves that in a world of overnight success at least one group is devoted enough to write songs that are built to last.
“This record is going to take us places,” says Sorenson. “We don’t know exactly where, but it will definitely be an experience getting there.”“There are times in our set where I am so pissed off just because of a line I’m singing, or I’m almost in tears because of certain words,” says Cove Reber, lead singer/lyricist of the quintet Saosin, “and that’s the emotion I wanted to give on our new record. When kids hear it, I want them to feel everything that I’ve felt over the past three years.”
With In Search Of Solid Ground, those emotions explode into an album that’s so intense you may want to trade the ear buds for an old-fashioned set of headphones that can capture its sonic nuances. The follow-up to Saosin’s 2006 self-titled full-length debut, which bowed at No. 22 on The Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, In Search Of Solid Ground charts a journey with universal themes – mankind’s search for truth and meaning, the fragility of relationships, the pain implicit in growth and goodbyes – from a fresh perspective.
A picture of a shattered psyche emerges in the searing lead single “Changing” and the chilling “On My Own,” yet despite its dark corners, the album is not without hope. “Sometimes a leap of faith is all that we have,” Reber sings in the anthemic “The Alarming Sound Of A Still Small Voice.” And the epic, eight-and-a-half minute album closer “Fireflies” exemplifies that leap, breaking new ground for the band and closing the raw, visceral record on a note of hope.
Saosin – which consists of Reber, bassist Chris Sorenson, drummer Alex Rodriguez, and guitarists Beau Burchell and Justin Shekoski – invited fans into the recording sessions for In Search Of Solid Ground via a real-time stream. While between tours in 2008, the band enlisted the aid of global youth brand Hurley, which, like Saosin, is based in Orange County, CA. “We came to them with an idea of us doing a record in their studios and streaming it live to the internet,” recalls Sorenson. “Basically, kids could log onto a website and check us out recording this record. It’s kind of like a fly on the wall perspective. We really wanted to document the flow of ideas.”
The album is largely self-recorded, produced and mixed. “We basically built up a rehearsal studio and a big drum tracking room at Hurley and got to learn what would work best in the studio,” says Sorenson. “At the beginning of August we started tracking drums and then spent two months tracking drums and music.”
All in all, the band laid down music for 18 tracks in the self-produced Hurley sessions. Before heading out on tour with Underoath in the fall of 2008, Saosin put three of the new songs and two acoustic tracks on The Grey EP, which was initially available only on tour and at www.hurley.com. Then they loaded a Pro Tools rig in the back of their tour bus so they could continue the work they had begun. “It was cool to be able to keep the creative process going for the record,” recalls Sorenson.
In January 2009, Saosin began the next phase of recording, working on a handful of tracks at a studio in Malibu, CA with producer Butch Walker (Sevendust, Fall Out Boy, Pink). With the help of Hurley, they once again opened up the sessions to fans via a live, multi-camera audio/video feed. The band emerged with music for three songs and vocals for five. In February they headed back to Orange County, where they produced the remaining vocal tracks at their home studio.
After completing In Search Of Higher Ground, the band hit the road, embarking on its fourth Vans Warped tour. “The reason we make records is to be able to play them live,” says Sorenson. While being a road warrior is par for the course when you’re in a developing rock band, Saison has taken it to the extreme from the beginning.
Saosin erupted out of Orange County in 2003, self-releasing its first EP, Translating the Name. (Saosin means “small heart” in Chinese, a term derived from a 15th century proverb about fathers advising their sons who were being married off for money not to get emotionally involved with their brides.) The band launched a barebones U.S. tour thereafter and, by the following year, had landed an opening slot on the Vans Warped tour. They lost their lead singer along the way – but they weren’t about to lose a chance to play the Warped tour. So Saosin launched a nationwide search for a new vocalist and Reber, who was just finishing high school in San Diego, CA, emerged as the clear choice. Soon afterwards, Saosin signed to Capitol Records.
The group released its second EP in 2005, and its self-titled full-length debut, recorded with producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The All-American Rejects) followed in September 2006. They were on the International Rockstar Taste Of Chaos tour when the album came out and lead single “Voices” began its ascent at Modern Rock radio, where it became a Top 25 hit. “Saosin’s spidery, riff-rocking attack is brawny and nuanced, and they know their way around a big chorus – barnburners like ‘It’s So Simple’ and ‘Come Close’ will give you a dark head rush,” said Rolling Stone.
To date, Saosin has been on four Vans Warped tours, a Rockstar Taste Of Chaos outing and 2007’s Projekt Revolution tour. There have been headlining treks plus supporting dates with AFI, Avenge Sevenfold, Incubus, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Underoath and many others. They’ve hit Australia three times and also made it to Japan (twice), Jakarta, Indonesia, Bali and Singapore. Saosin’s live CD/DVD set, Come Close, was released in March 2008. The band plans to be on the road a long time in support of In Search Of Solid Ground, beginning with a major co-headlining tour in the fall of 2009.
Hailed as one of the most anticipated albums of 2009 by Alternative Press, In Search Of Solid Ground is a remarkable step forward for Saosin. Reber’s lyrics have grown more personal and introspective with this album. “I’d love for people to check out the lyrics in the way kids would do in the ‘70s, when they’d buy records, put them on the record player and sit there looking at the record insert, really diving in head first,” he says.
While they’re building on the foundation Saosin has established, Sorenson notes: “Overall, we’ve gone for a smarter sound. It’s more diverse, with elements that weren’t on the last record.” “We hope you’ll come along for the ride,” adds Reber.