Usually, people move from places like the middle of nowhere to big industry cities like New York and Los Angeles to find musical success, and stay there. Not the other way around.
But for former Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven and his wife Heather Vincent-Niven, finding solace in Arizona's godforsaken desert -- away from the music industry -- allowed them to discover the unique talent that this state has to offer, and establish a new label, Tru-B-Dor Records, to get the music in the ears of listeners all over the world.
Then again, being based in a town like Prescott, Arizona, isn't really an issue when you once helped bands like Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, and Great White rise to fame, or when Slash personally thanks you in his 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech.
Niven just knows where to find the good metal, and with Tru-B-Dor, he and Vincent-Niven are hellbent on succeeding and staying in Prescott. The town gave them their first two signings: Heavy metal act Storm of Perception, which just released Into The Sun, and bluesy rockers Chris Buck and The Big Horns, who just released Postcards From Capricorn. Both albums are already being distributed worldwide by Universal.
"The label is talent-driven, as opposed to being genre-specific," Vincent-Niven says. "We have found that there is world-class talent here, locally. Chris Buck is from Wales, but his recording band included Sedona resident Jimmy Mack, who has played with Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, and Richie Havens. Michael Thompson, the band's drummer, is also a Prescott local. Storm of Perception are all local boys, and everything was recorded at Heavenly Studios here in town."
Niven and Vincent-Niven reached out to me, to invite me to watch Storm of Perception at Club Red in Tempe.
I was one of about 12 people present, and I was impressed with the band's stage presence and sound. They are quite a curious bunch, too. Singer Brian Herring was born while Mount St. Helens erupted in practically his parent's backyard, while drummer Stevie Thunder was born into a Mormon family in Las Vegas; keyboardist Billy "The Badass" Fugate is an 18-year-old archer and martial artist; guitarist/vocalist Dylan Doherty moonlights at the local liquor store for the discounts, works as an astronomer, and has survived in the desert by sucking the juice from a cactus and eating mezcal worms. Guitarist/vocalist R.J. is an astronomer who came to Arizona from California for the stars, and bassist Mike Gim-Lee is a former sailor and gunsmith.
Their stage presence, which includes Viking helmets, light shows, smoking cigars, and fiery voracious energy, is represented well on their debut album, Into the Sun. There's double-bass drums, dueling guitars, cascading keyboards that create a solid backbone with the bass guitar, and vocals that switch at the drop of a hat between growls and roars, energetic chants, and choruses. The roaring shouts are somehow melodic but primal and forceful.
But the band's quirks will provide Niven a worthy challenge. Can the industry vet get a band of big Viking teddy bears, with six- and seven-minute songs, on the radio?
He seems up for it. It's all about word of mouth, he says. Hence the name Tru-B-Dor -- he hopes he gets people talking, and spreading the word about his acts. The man's past successes make it seem he's got what it takes to get his bands on the tips of people's tongues.
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