Saturday, May 2, 2015

21 TO BURN: Florida Rock Combo Set to Unleash Smokin' Debut

Florida Rock Combo Set
to Unleash Smokin' Debut

Whoa! Smell that?
Something's definitely
burning, down here in
the "Sunshine State."

It's an old adage, but one that still holds true — hard work and dedication do pay off. And in the case of 21 to Burn, that strong ethic is paying off enormous dividends. Relentless in pursuing its global objective, this ambitious guitar-driven combo is bringing much-needed fire to Florida's original rock scene — establishing an undeniable reputation as a must-see live act over the last two years. I recently bumped into Squeegie, 21 to Burn's co-founding bassist, as he was zipping up in the restroom following a pre-show "rest" — and I got the lowdown on the band's much-anticipated, soon-to-be-released debut album. Uh, don't forget to wash, dude.

"Our goal all along was to create
songs that were heavy and powerful,
yet still rock radio-friendly."

Me and Squeegie, following a
recent Florida 21 to Burn show.
January 2015 — the coldest month of what was arguably the coldest U.S. winter in years. Here in the "Sunshine State," we barely survived, as temperatures often were sent plummeting well into the upper 60s. And it was then, of all times, that the beach-mongers of 21 to Burn decided to pack up their extra-thick T-shirts and thermal baggies and journey from the sand-covered Florida coast to the snow-covered Tennessee mountains to record their debut album, Two to the Chest. To quote Homer Simpson, "DOH!"

"It was F-in' cold — 7° !!!
VERY different from Florida!"

Preview the title track from
the debut 21 to Burn album,
Wait & See on SoundCloud.
For 21 to Burn, the math was simple. In order to capture its hard-hitting songs properly and deliver a world-class product, the band had to seek out an equally world-class studio. Owned and operated by Martina and John McBride, Nashville's BlackBird Studio is touted as one of the most outstanding recording complexes in the world today. Overseeing the project — famed producer Rob Coates and production assistant Jason Mott. 21 to Burn drummer, Sammy Hill, revealed to me how well he connected professionally and personally with Coates — adding that the band nicknamed him affectionately, "snare bear," based on the producer's keen ability to get impeccable drum sounds.

"Rob Coates knows his shit.
And he didn't put up with any BS."
Sammy Hill

Sammy Hill, working hard at BlackBird Studio.
But despite the positive, and often fun aspects of the recording process, the experience wasn't all fun and games for 21 to Burn vocalist Gary Vadimsky. In fact, Coates became so concerned over Vadimsky's difficulty with breathing the Tennessee mountain air and related throat issues, that he brought in a personal humidifier to help the singer get through the sessions.

"We had so much fun. We never
laughed so hard in our lives."
-Gary Vadimsky

Gary Vadimsky gasping for breath
in the Tennessee mountains.
According to Squeegie, the 21 to Burn songwriting process is a group effort and Two to the Chest will feature ten of the band's original tunes, with the possible addition of an iconic cover. Although the full-length album is set for a mid-summer 2015 release, the final cover design currently is still in development. However, the debut single, the radio-ready title track, already has become a popular iTunes download.

"We are all from such different
backgrounds in respect to musical
influences and taste. That diversity
really helped us create some very
interesting and exciting songs."

Justin Weir live onstage
with 21 to Burn in 2015.

"Never have I been so proud
of five men coming together
as a unit and rising to the
challenge that is making music."
-Justin Weir

Bobby Johnson live onstage with
21 to Burn in Daytona - 2015.

"Playing music has been a dream
of mine, my whole life. And I
couldn't think of a better bunch
of guys to share that dream with."
-Bobby Johnson

Following the band's nine-day stint at BlackBird, it was time to get back home to Florida, thaw-out and resume their demanding 150-date 2015 schedule. This year, one of the band's concert highlights was a week-long run at Bike Week in Daytona Beach — during which 21 to Burn played to thousands of enthusiastic new fans from around the country.

(Prepare for the revolution!)
In a "classroom" occupied by such contemporaries as Five Finger Death PunchThree Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, 21 to Burn could easily become the "teacher's pet." And with their blistering debut record set to launch in just weeks, the band also appears positioned to graduate with honors.

-Christopher Long
(May 2015)




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