The Sunset Strip has a new champion. A band that is not just a product of the Hollywood scene, but a band that helped build today’s scene. They did it with a live show that is bigger than the clubs they pack, a sound that is as big as their live spectacle, and the determination to remind us all that while rock and roll is a celebration, it resonates the deepest when it has a purpose.
The band is 9ELECTRIC, and with the release of their debut album The Damaged Ones, it is the dawn of a new era for fans of hard rock. “We are about empowerment and living with a sense of intention,” frontman Thunderwood says of the band. “Whatever you do, do it with some fucking conviction. Make something happen in your life.”
The Damaged Ones is 9ELECTRIC setting their conviction to music. It is not a placebo intended to placate the masses, it is intense group therapy for the band and their fans. “The album describes the human condition – no one is truly safe, because at some point we’re all damaged,” says Thunderwood, bassist Casey DC adding, “the song itself – the album’s title track – is about the process of becoming damaged and how it leads to being socially ostracized, a common feeling amongst bands and fans. This has been a theme in rock music for decades, and this song is about how we band together and become part of the rock scene as opposed to the mainstream.”
From the opening declaration that “we are the damaged ones…”, we are met with a thunderous resolve that doesn’t falter throughout the album’s 12 tracks. “The Damaged Ones,” “Little Things” and “Beautiful” represent the band at their emotional best, with “New God,” “Naked” and “Lies” fulfilling our more carnal desires. Guitars lay the foundation, and subtle layers of electronics propel the album to heights of sheer sonic splendor, transforming the listening experience into an aerobic exercise. “Take It Away” sprints from start to finish in a neon wash, while “More More” explodes like a supernova, according to Thunderwood, driven by its “pummeling, knuckle-dragging beat, and the snidest burns I’ve ever dished out on vocals.”
Though you wouldn’t be wrong if you heard the influence of Bring Me The Horizon or Motionless In White, the diverse palette that colors the album is the byproduct of a true team effort. “Everyone brings in material of their own,” offers guitarist Mikey Lopez. “I write on guitar, Casey writes on guitar, and Ron and Micah usually create in Pro Tools or Logic. After that, we all work on the songs together to get the tracks that make the cut up to all of our standards. If a song started on guitar, electronics get written around it, and if a song started with electronics, the guitar is written around that. But before that can even happen, we have to have a great melody and an arrangement that we all love.”
“I’ve always been into bands that infuse electronic elements into their music – Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, as well as more electronic-based bands with rock elements like The Prodigy, Pendulum and Infected Mushroom,” explains drummer/programmer Micah Electric of the band’s infectious sound. “These artists – and others who combine the rock and electronic worlds – have influenced my approach to programming and producing in general. With 9ELECTRIC, I really want to create music that makes you feel like you can’t stand still, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
The Los Angeles based quartet played their first show in 2011 at the Roxy Theater, and it wasn’t long before they were promoting their own nights at the club. Their shows were such a success, there were constant lines waiting to get in to see 9ELECTRIC share the stage with then-unsigned bands including Otherwise, Butcher Babies and Nothing More. The nights often ended – and still do – with the band hosting a party. From day one, 9ELECTRIC had a vision that was bigger than a 45-minute show – it’s about making every show an event, and making every event an experience to remember.
“When we play shows in Hollywood we sometimes don’t get to talk to talk to people for more than a minute or two, at most – but we like to hang out with our friends, fans, label and other bands,” says Casey. “Instead of rushing everyone after the show, we throw a party so we can all make the most of the night… Come for the party, but stay for the emotional release from our songs!”
In the end, the joke is on everyone else, because we all know the truth – there’s nothing wrong with being one of the damaged ones. In fact, never has being damaged felt so good.