Maylene and The Sons Disaster: Riding Dirty in the Hotrod Jesus Built

You know that scene in Spinal Tap, where Rob Reiner is reading the band a review of the Shark Sandwich album and he says, "This one is simply two words: Shit Sandwich?"

Scanning through most of the reviews of IV, the fourth album by Alabama Christian rockers Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is kind of like that. The crowning jewel in the dismissive statments? This one from Alternative Press:

Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster stink like wet fart from a bloated biker in a Skynyrd shirt.

Stinky, right?

Singer Dallas Taylor notes that "mixed reviews" is a fair assessment regarding IV. "Yeah, I think a lot of people thought we changed our style too much" he says, of the shift from Southern-tinged hardcore to full on power ballads and radio-ready rock. "We've always just had the attitude that whatever comes out comes out."

Taylor and I discussed the album, growing up as a Christian Ministry fan, and accusations that the band has "gone corporate." Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is scheduled to perform Tuesday, January 31 at Club Red in Tempe.

Up on the Sun: Have you guys toured much in support of IV? It came out late last year, right?

Dallas Taylor: It came out in September. We've toured a little bit on it. We did some headlining dates, and we supported Thursday right before the holidays. Right before Thanksgiving through the middle of December. We haven't toured a whole lot on it yet, we've just the East Coast, a Northeast kind of deal.

You did some dates with Thursday? Right as they are getting ready to call it quits. I bet those shows were pretty crazy.

Yeah, it was awesome. Really cool.

What was the reaction to the new material been like? I read a bunch of reviews, you know, and they did not seem overwhelmingly positive. A lot of critics didn't seem to like the change in direction.

Yeah, I think a lot of people thought we changed our style too much. We've always just had the attitude that whatever comes out comes out. But I think live it's different than it is on record. A lot of it is more aggressive, more in your face. Live it's gone over really well, we haven't heard no one say anything. People just say the stuff sounds awesome live. I think it's just one of the things that people expect us to sound like the first record, and not getting over that. It happens to a lot of bands, like, anything different from that record [isn't as well received.] Our first two records were a lot heavier. The third record was different, too. And this record -- it's a small minority, you know? It seems like new fans coming in, people that are hearing our band for the first time, the new record goes over the best.

When you were making the record, did you finish up tunes like "Taking on Water" and wonder if people were going to be thrown by the sounds? Did you ever wonder, "Are our fans going to be into this?"

We just kind of knew we wanted a rock that had a dark feeling. More exposed, I guess, showing our hearts and we didn't really plan on what the style would be like or how the music would sound. We just wanted that feeling. "Taking on Water" reminded us a lot of "Listen Close," from the third record. Not the sound, but the idea of it. We've always been into the Southern thing. That song has more of a classic Southern rock feel than a lot of the stuff we done. A lot of people just want to hear us sounding as aggressive as we can get. And I love playing that kind of stuff. This record, we didn't really think about it [not] having as much screaming your head off kind of stuff. The next record could be different; it might be the most aggressive thing we've ever done. What don't really know until we get into the studio. Maybe we should plan things out better, but that's just what we've always done. When you try to think things out too much, try to make something happen, that's when you loose what you're trying to do as a band.

The Southern rock thing has always been present in your sound, but this record has some very radio-radio stuff going on, too.

We wanted to be more personal, and not be as "out there." We just wanted to make straight forward, heavy songs. Stuff that would be fun to play live. We did know that.

A lot of the reviews cite more corporate rock bands like Hinder or Nickelback. Do you hear that at all.

[Laughs] On some stuff I can hear it. I don't think we'll ever be one of those bands, especially live, that will fit in that genre. People say that about that record, but if we were going for that...I don't know. We would have tried to make more of a butt rock record. Not butt rock, but you know... I love a lot of those bands, so I'm not trying to talk bad about it. It's just more straightforward, but some of the songs are more mainstream than anything we've done before.

There's a religious or Christian element to what you do. The segregation of Christian rock from secular rock has never been less defined, especially in the hardcore scene.

I have my believes, and that's what gets me by. We're a pretty open band. We hardly tour with Christian bands. We play Christian festivals once a while. But we just try and be a positive band. I can only speak for myself, but my beliefs are a big part of me, part of what I'm about. But I don't want to ram my beliefs down someone's throat. That's what helped me, when I was going through some hard times, was someone caring for me. Not trying to convert me. I'm big on beliefs, but it's more about being a real person, and caring for people. That's how I share the love of God. Some of the bands in the Christian scene kind of drive me crazy, because it's all about how much can you ram your believes down people's throats. When I was growing up, Christian music was not very well accepted. Heavier bands, if they were accepted, it's because how cool they were with normal bands.

Growing up, were you allowed to listen to secular bands? Did you grow up religious?

I grew up very religious. Southern Baptist. No, I don't think I was allowed...I didn't even really know what heavy music was. My brother was older than me...he let me hear Deicide and Neurosis and Ministry when I was young, but not telling my parents. The older I've got, the more my parents have opened up, but my dad was a Southern Baptist music leader, and really deep in the church.

You could have maybe fooled them with Ministry. You could have got away with it as long as they didn't listen to the record.

Yeah, "Jesus Built My Hotrod." [Laughs]

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is scheduled to perform Tuesday, January 31 at Club Red in Tempe.

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