About a month ago, a colleague of mine stopped at my desk, handed me the latest issue of Rolling Stone and told me I had to read the feature Jason Gay had written on the Jonas Brothers. I thought he was kidding. See, I'm the resident metalhead around these parts, which means I have little (if any) interest in the Jonases. Halfway through reading the article, though, it became apparent why it was suggested I read it: Gay's piece claimed that Demi Lovato, the opener on the Jonas Brothers' summer tour, is into metal.
I immediately called bullsh--. No way Demi Lovato, the squeaky-clean 16-year-old star of the Disney Channel's "As the Bell Rings," who got her start in the business at age 7 as one of the tykes on "Barney & Friends," is into metal. It just couldn't possibly be; I simply couldn't get my head around it.
I decided I needed to confirm this factoid for myself — I had to speak to Lovato to determine if she's an honest-to-goodness metal fan. Not that I was questioning Gay's reporting, but I just thought to myself, "Well, people have different ideas about what truly constitutes metal, so maybe there was some confusion." Perhaps, I figured, she's a fan of hard-rock acts like Staind or Disturbed, who are often mistaken as metal — hence, the misunderstanding.
Even though I knew some regular readers of the File might rip me a new one for doing this, I went ahead and scheduled a phone interview with Demi — only after her mom gave the thumbs up. She is a minor, after all. And sure enough, the girl knows what she's talking about.
"[Metal isn't] all I listen to, of course, but there was a period of time where it was," Lovato told me. "I guess it started in school. I started listening to stuff with screaming in it, and then I started [exploring] more metal. MySpace helped me a lot, and friends will tell me about certain bands. And some of the bands I like aren't necessarily too metal. It's funny, because the Jonas Brothers dance and play dance music in their dressing room, and I'll be across the hall, and I just blare metal. People walk by and go, 'Really?' "
So who does Demi dig? Well, she's a fan of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Abigail Williams, Lamb of God and Dr. Acula, to name just a few. "I love the Devil Wears Prada; they're more hardcore, but they're awesome," she said. "And Job for a Cowboy is another band I love."
What is it about metal that drew Lovato? She respects the musicianship that goes into crafting brutal tracks. "It's so completely different from anything else," she said. "You've got vocals that I can't do, the double bass drums, the incredible guitar solos ... every part of the band does more difficult stuff than your average rock band does. I listen to these bands, and I wish I could do all of that, but I can't."
Lovato said she tries to catch as many shows as she can and that one of her favorite live acts is symphonic black metallers Dimmu Borgir (whose 1997 LP Enthrone Darkness Triumphant has been in heavy rotation at my desk all week). "I was the little girl in the red dress and red lipstick, and I totally didn't fit in, but I had so much fun," she explained. "It was awesome. I lost my shoes, I was going crazy ... it was awesome."
Lovato, who has an album called Don't Forget slated for a September 23 release, said she'd consider collaborating with a metal band in the future, but she's not so sure it would be for one of her own albums.
"I would love to secretly do some work on a metal band's album," she said, adding that Underoath would be her first choice for a collaboration. "I wish I could just secretly do vocals, and nobody would know it's me. I would love to just do a couple of screams. One time I was at soundcheck and I told my musical director that I really want to pig squeal, and he said, 'Go ahead — I don't care.' I didn't want to, because I could see there were fans nearby, and he said, 'Just do it.' And I did, and these fans reacted. They were like, 'Wow, that's awesome — I don't even know what that is, but it's cool.' "
So what do the Jonas Brothers think of her metal proclivities? "One time, they were actually listening to metal, and I was like, 'What are you guys doing listening to metal? I was always afraid to tell you I listen to metal, because I thought you'd think I'm crazy,' " she said. "They [took] a lot of their stage ideas from metal bands from, like, Europe, and they use a lot of pyro and stuff like that. But they like metal — they don't listen to death metal, but they're definitely not opposed to it, which I think is really cool. It shows that they're not just some pop band."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Did drummer Gil Sharone leave Dillinger Escape Plan? That's the rumor, but confirmation has yet to come from either the band or Sharone himself. On Dillinger's MySpace page, in a blog post titled "It's true," the band simply wrote, " ... everybody loves a rumor." And that rumor suggests Sharone has rejoined his old band, Stolen Babies, and that DEP have been talking to Raanen Bozzio — son of drummer Terry Bozzio — about taking over behind the kit. Only time will tell if there is any truth to all of this, but we'll keep you posted. ...
As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis' side project Austrian Death Machine will perform live for the very first time during the End of Summer Scorcher, which is scheduled for September 20 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. ... The lineup for next year's Maryland Deathfest VII is starting to take shape. Scheduled for May 22-24 in Baltimore, the bill will feature Pestilence, Mayhem, Immolation, Brutal Truth, Today is the Day, Flesh Parade and Triac, among others. ...
The search is finally over: Brain Drill have a new drummer. Joe Bondra has joined the fold, and says he's "extremely excited to be part of that band," and is "even more amped to be able to start playing shows and work on our new material." But the band is still looking for a bassist. If interested, send them a message via their MySpace page. ...
DragonForce will be hitting the road in November for a nearly two-month tour, with Turisas as direct support. That trek commences November 1 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and wraps December 19 in Vancouver, British Columbia. ... Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room will also be heading out on tour together starting in October. They have a dozen gigs booked from October 10 in Portland, Oregon, through October 25 in Chicago. ...
Reunited Long Island hardcore heathens Vision of Disorder will be performing in New York on November 16. Joining them on the bill are Indecision, Overcast and Nassau Chainsaw — this is one show you shouldn't miss. ... Ava Inferi plan to enter a recording studio in November to start work on their third LP, Blood of Bacchus. The album, which will feature the songs "A Witch She Was, the Witch I Am," "Lights" and "Last Sign of Summer," should be in stores early next year.