American rockers Next To None not only sound like Slipknot 2.0, they also carry the added intrigue of having former Dream Theatre and Avenged Sevenfold drummer Mike Portnoy’s extremely talented son Max sitting on their own drums.
The quartet from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, have honed an incredible sound that combines Slipknot-esque DJ sounds with Max’s huge drumming. But there’s mighty musicianship throughout this band, with brutal metal riffs meeting moments of melodic, dynamic excellence – making this one of the most exciting new metal bands around.
The band, completed by Derrick Schneider on guitar, Kris Rank on bass and Thomas Cuce on keyboards and lead vocals, formed around six years ago and launched their debut album in 2015, but are really coming into their own after shifting to a heavier style.
We had a chat with Max this week to find out more ahead of the band’s second London show at Koko, in Camden, supporting his dad’s band Shattered Fortress on Wednesday evening. And first up, we asked him how much influence his dad has had on his own music career: “Growing up, I would always watch my dad play drums with his bands and I got a really good look at how things worked in a band, studio, live, touring, etc..” Max told us.
“For me that was super inspiring and I wanted to be just like my dad when I grew up, which is why I believe I gravitated more towards drums than any other instrument. As for my dad being involved with the band, he doesn’t get too involved. He’s there to support us 100% and he’s always there if we have questions or need advice, but he wants us to learn and do things for ourselves, which we agree with.”
The band is on the verge of releasing its second album Phases, which is out on 7 July. Max told us: “The new album is a lot heavier than the first. We tried a lot of new things with this new record such as using lower tunings for songs and for me, adding in blast beats and fast double bass parts.
“But aside from it being heavier, it’s also even more progressive. We really wanted to step up and try doing some things that would be challenging, like many time changes and polyrhythms. We basically took what we start doing on our debut and turned it up by 10!”
Those major changes are massively noticeable in the two tracks that have been released from Phases so far, buthe song that really got me excited about Next To None was the mighty The Apple.
The track opens up with a huge drum intro by Max, a little rip of DJ noise then launches into a huge rock-out with Slipknot-esque scratching over the top. Big booming guitar riffs follow, with a few hits of cymbal building the intensity, then they launch into a huge opening verse of screamed vocals that leads into a contrastingly melodic chorus with bursts of synthy keyboards in the background. The low-tuned riffs continue after the chorus and lead into another heavy verse, courtesy of a huge drum roll.
The second chorus is followed by booming low guitar notes, supporting frontman Cuce’s very random spoken vocals: “You know I was never good with metaphors, But these are not my words their yours, They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the pear, Or something like that.” Then yells: “But guess what, Grandma needs a new pair of shoes.” That’s the cue for one of the most incredible metal breakdowns you’re going to hear, with diving low-tuned guitars and mad drumming that only gets better every time you listen to it. That leads into a final rendition of the chorus with more prominent keys adding to the drama.
This is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, so do yourself a favour and check it out in the video below:
On what inspires their music, Max explains: “It all depends on what mood I’m in that day. Some days I get really inspired to write a big epic prog piece or some days I’ll be really into wanting to write a quick brutal metal song. A lot of it comes from what I listen to as well, say I’m listening to a lot of System Of A Down one week, I’d be more inspired to write a song in that sort of vain.”
Wednesday’s show at Koko kicks off a European tour that takes in Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Malmo and more, then they move on to hit up the US with punk rockers Dollskin and hope to have more tour dates booked in soon. Check out all the band’s gigs here.
On their return to London, Max said: “We’re super excited to be playing London again. Our first show there was incredible and the fans’ response was so amazing. This time around we are going to be playing a set of all new songs off our upcoming album, which will be our first time playing some of these songs ever. We’re excited to get an early reaction to the songs before the release!”
And finally, Max tells us: “It’s our lifelong goal to open for Katy Perry one day, so if you can help us with that in any way it will be greatly appreciated!”
So get yourself down to Koko on Wednesday night for what promises to be a huge evening, tickets are available here. And if you’re Katy Perry’s promoter, then get involved and get these guys booked up.