Sister Hazel Taps Three-Headed Monster For “Fortress”

The Southern troubadours in Sister Hazel will return next month with “Fortress,” the band’s first new album since 1997′s major label debut, “Somewhere More Familiar,” which spawned the massive hit, “All For You.”

Thanks to the single, Sister Hazel spent most of the last few years on the road, headlining its own dates and opening for the likes of the Allman Brothers as its “Somewhere More Familiar” LP racked up sales in excess of 930,000 copies, according to SoundScan.

When it came time to start work on “Fortress,” Sister Hazel first demo’d material at a Los Angeles studio with Guns ‘N Roses producer Mike Clink last summer, then finished up the sessions with producers Richie Zito (Cheap Trick) and Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down).

Sister Hazel lead singer and guitarist Ken Block talked with MTV News about the triple-threat producing combo and explained what each contributed to the making of the new album.

“I think
the three-headed monster of Mike Clink, Richie Zito, and Paul Ebersold really worked,”
Block said. “The first thing I know we all looked at when we came off the road, because we didn’t have a lot of time to record our [last] record, one of the things we’re really proud of is our live show and energy at our live show.

“The first thing we looked for was somebody who could capture that, and we knew Mike had a lot of energy on his records, and I think we learned a lot from that experience with him.

“As songwriters, we wanted to experiment,” Block continued, “and Richie Zito brought some things to the table musically that opened up more doors for us after we had gone through pre-production. Richie was an interesting guy to bring in. Each one of these guys was so different, and the thing we liked
about Paul is that he knew where we had come from.”

“He gets it,” added guitarist Ryan Newell.

“He gets ‘Where did this band came from?”” Block agreed, “and we didn’t want to skip any steps in the evolution of Sister Hazel.” [RealVideo]

During the L.A. sessions with Mike Clink, Sister Hazel happened to be recording in the same studio as the infamous rock and roll recluse Axl Rose, whom Sister Hazel spotted several times while working on its own material.

“He worked at night,” Newell recalled. “He came in around 12:30 in the evening, er, the morning, I would say. And they would dim the lights for him and he’d walk in.”

HREF="/sitewide/utils/playmedia.jhtml?clip=/mtv/news/real/h/hazel000524_2.rm">“That’s
how you would know he was there,”
Block said.

“And you’d see his shadow going around the corner,” Newell said, “and that was about it.” [RealVideo]

“Change Your Mind,” the first single from “Fortress,” has just been sent out to radio, while “Fortress” will be released on June 27. Sister Hazel will then head out on the road for a tour that kicks off on June 29 in Tampa, Florida.

Dates currently scheduled for Sister Hazel’s upcoming tour:

  • 6/29 – Tampa, FL @ Janus Landing
  • 7/1 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
  • 7/2 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Park Zoo
  • 7/2 – St. Louis, MO @ Laclede’s Landing
  • 7/3 – Orlando, FL @ Crane’s Roost Lake
  • 7/4 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
  • 7/7 – Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
  • 7/8 – Birmingham, AL @ 5 Points Music Hall

  • 7/9 – Memphis,
    TN @ New Daisy Theatre
  • 7/13 – Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club
  • 7/21 – Atlanta, GA @ The Roxy
  • 7/22 – Atlanta, GA @ The Roxy
  • 7/27 – Buffalo, NY @ Lafayette Square
  • 8/3 – Nashville, TN @ Riverfront Park