As a catalyst for generations of great art, music and literature, psychic pain and anxiety are not uncommon; under the relentless strain of the road, many a rock musician has battled crippling paranoia and dark thoughts. The Black Maria stand out from the pack by creating music of epic beauty and fierce power, transforming ugliness and fear into songs that explode from the speakers with a symphonic vengeance. A Shared History of Tragedy refers to the lives of The Black Maria, in a line pulled from the acclaimed drama Six Feet Under. Vocalist Chris Gray felt it perfectly characterized their experiences, explaining, In the last year of touring, we have learned more about ourselves and the kind of men we are than you could possibly imagine. We have worked, sacrificed, won and lost more than most trying to live a sometimes impossible dream. We shared in all of this together. The Black Maria takes the orchestral elements, electronic parts and off-beat song effects they experimented with on their 2005 debut, Lead Us To Reason and marries them to their hard rock base, creating a gorgeous, layered musical framework that walks the razor edge of rock genres toward their own precise statement.
Forming in 2002, the band began writing and playing, polishing early demos and letting inspiration take its course. They named the band after the notorious police vans of the early 20th century. Dynamic and emotion-filled, The Black Maria create their lush sound with a creative, airtight rhythm section and dual guitars complimented by frequent piano, organs, strings, and soaring harmonies. Victory Records owner Tony Brummel was invited to see the band in 2004; shortly afterward The Black Maria signed with the label and started plans to record. The band chose Mike Green, a young producer whose work with bands like Yellowcard and The Matches were met with critical acclaim. The album was released in January 2005 to wide acclaim from critics and fans alike. Hard music bible Revolver raved, As eclectic as Lead Us To Reason is, it never sounds scattershot or schizophrenic, thanks to the hooky choruses and consistently dark subject matter that unify everything
Playing live and touring is at the heart of every bands existence, and The Black Maria proved this by staying on the road for over a year straight in support of Lead Us To Reason. Their adventures took them across The United States, Canada and the UK, playing with such diverse and high profile bands as Sum 41, Chevelle, Rise Against and Victory Records label mates Hawthorne Heights and Atreyu. Line up changes became inevitable during the exhilarating but tough year, and in 2006, The Black Maria welcomed drummer Theo McKibbon and guitarist Scott Swain, former members of the popular Ontario band Far From Heroes. We met Theo during auditions for a drummer, he was exactly what we were looking for so he joined right away. He convinced us Scott was the right guitarist for the band later, and he ended up playing his first show four days after we met. Having two new members contribute so much has altered the playing field in a great way, explained bassist Mike De Eyre.
In early 2006, The Black Maria sat down again with Mike Green, jokingly referred to as the 6th member of the band to start recording A Shared History of Tragedy. Gray remembers, Mike wanted us to be a monster on this record. He knew what we were capable of and he wanted to push the limits of our abilities. Things were more spontaneous than our last sessions, and the result is a lot of different ear candy for listeners to hear something different every time they listen. Working with keyboards, loops, triggers and vocalist Grays incredible vocal range gave The Black Maria the necessary tools to deliver music that is majestic and complex, portraying isolation, rage and confusion in lush song structures without forfeiting the rock energy the band is known for.
A History of Tragedy is a thematically tight album that is jam-packed with killer tracks with standouts including the new single, Waking Up With Wolves, A Thief in the Ranks (Your Bike) and Fools Gold. Waking Up With Wolves is very powerful because it speaks of the loneliness and paranoid feelings that rise up on tour, especially on long drives, the dark thoughts that creep into your head can be crippling. Musically, I love how the song builds and builds to a huge climax, its powerful from start to finish, commented Gray. A Thief In The Ranks captures a raw fury that can be hard to produce in the studio, and it speaks personally to Mike, Al and myself as we have lived through the basis of the lyrics. Fools Gold kicks off with bass lines and incorporates loops and unusual percussion while Gray rages against a duplicitous lover, singing, And I wont need to see you gagging on sincerity.
With a modern rock tour de force under their belts, The Black Maria will be unstoppable. The album is in stores September 5, 2006 and press interest has already been ignited. Expect to see the video for Waking Up With Wolves on music channels everywhere and the band will be on tour for the rest of the year and then some!