John Kosco - vocals
Lee Richards - guitar
Joe Wilkinson - guitar
Jim Preziosa - bass
Bob Jenkins - drums
You know you've got a good band when the lead singer of a four-time-Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum group makes you the first signing to his new label. But you know you've got a great band when that same artist also wants to play on your debut album. Such is life for Dropbox, who were signed by Godsmack vocalist Sully Erna to his new imprint Realign Records.
"I'm a big fan of Dropbox," says Erna, who plays drums on 9 of the album's 12 tracks. "Their sound is a great blend of modern and classic rock with a very heavy and soulful bluesy vibe. At a time when everyone's jumping on bandwagons and following the latest trends, these guys are sticking to the basics. As a result, I think they're gonna do really well. They've got a style that's built to last."
The magnitude of Dropbox's monster talent reveals itself in their thrilling self-titled debut, an unrestrained outpouring of iron-fisted backbeats, sprawling melodies, and monolithic, Led Zep-like bombast. Produced by Dave Jerden (Alice In Chains, Jane's Addiction, The Offspring) and Dropbox guitarist Lee Richards, the record captures the timeless feel of vintage rock, complete with the whiskey-soaked croon of a vocalist who can actually sing.
"John (Kosco-Dropbox's frontman) really separates us from the pack," says Richards. "Where the majority of today's rock frontmen are rappers and screamers, he has a gritty, emotional delivery that allows us to write and record pretty much anything we want."
Free from creative constraints, the quintet lets loose with dynamic arrangements and electrifying performances. The result is an album with a big, meaty sound, propelled by a tightly drilled rhythm section (bassist James Preziosa and drummers Erna and Bob Jenkins) and a guitar tandem (Richards and Joe Wilkinson) that blends blast-furnace riffage ("Run") with streams of ambient texture ("Take Away The Sun").
They provide the backdrop for Kosco, who brings each song to life with passionate melodies and lyrics that elevate the personal to the universal. Over the course of the album's journey, he sifts through the wreckage of a broken relationship ("Fall Away"), chases elusive dreams ("Forgotten Song") and watches helplessly as a friend succumbs to addiction ("Nowhere Man"). On songs like "Unfold," he and Richards blend voices to thrilling effect, their stunning harmonies adding emotional range and depth.
The band sets the album's breakneck pace with the blistering kickoff track and lead single "Wishbone," a dense, dark song that churns with a grinding rhythm and lava-flow riff. "Dave Jerden told me that 'Wishbone' could be our 'Mississippi Queen' and that's a huge compliment because I'm a big Mountain fan," says Kosco. That's the kind of stuff I grew up on. My father also sings in a rock band and Leslie West is one of his idols. When I was a kid, I'd go see my dad play in clubs and bars, singing Joe Cocker and Stones songs and was just blown away by it all. I remember hearing my father sing for the first time; the smell of the bar, what the people in the crowd were wearing-it was all so amazing. He's had a huge influence on me. When I got older and my friends were into Metallica, I was still listening to AC/DC because that's what my father liked. It was pretty much a given that I'd follow in his footsteps and play a similar style of music."
According to Richards, producer Dave Jerden was also influential in helping he band to sharpen its sound and vision. "When we made our wish list of producers, Dave's name was at the top," says the guitarist, who assumed co-production duties after overseeing the album's pre-production phase. "The guy has worked with everyone from Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction to the Rolling Stones and Talking Heads. He passed up some pretty huge acts to produce our record, even though we were working on a pretty small budget. Every once in a while, I'd sort of pinch myself 'cause I couldn't believe I was working alongside him. He'd compliment me on something and I'd have a hard time concentrating afterward. It was pretty funny."
Metal diehards will remember Richards as the original guitarist in Godsmack. The arrival of a son prompted him to leave the band in late '97, but he and Erna remained close. "Sully and I go way back," he says. "Our friendship has stayed strong throughout the years and that's a rare thing in an industry like this." He returned to music a few years later and dabbled in various projects, before Erna called in 2002 to tell him about Kosco.
"I met John backstage at a Godsmack show in New York," recalls Erna. "He gave me his demo and I was just floored by his voice. I introduced him to Lee and he brought in some great players that he was already working with. They took off from there and together wrote some amazing stuff."
"I remember the first time we all went to the studio," says Richards. "After the first few minutes of playing together, I knew we had something special. A couple of days later, I moved from Massachusetts to Jersey, where the rest of the band lived. We all moved into one place-like some sort of rock commune-and just wrote non-stop. Fast-forward 18 months and I'm back in a studio with Sully, which was pretty surreal. We were in between drummers and he offered to sit in. He's an amazing musician and the chance to play alongside him again felt great. On top of that, John and I went into the studio with Godsmack and co-wrote, Touche, a song on their new acoustic album, THE OTHER SIDE. And if all that isn't enough, we're the first band on this new label, Dave Jerden, one of the greatest producers in rock, worked on our debut album, and now we're getting ready to take these songs on the road. It's all been pretty incredible. Hard to believe we're just getting started."