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  • Interview: State of Shock

    Tue, 03 Mar 2009 07:09:52

    Interview: State of Shock - State of Shock's frontman talks songwriting, touring and why he wants to end up on the Ellen DeGeneres show

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    It's good to have goals. "I watch a lot of Ellen DeGeneres. If I could get on that show, I'd do a dance," laughs Cam Melnyk, frontman for Canadian rockers State of Shock. That may not be his only occasion for celebratory dancing though. State of Shock are about to drop their debut album, Life, Love & Lies, in the U.S., and they have a whole slew of stateside touring ahead. In between touring and plotting how his band will get noticed by Ellen, Cam took some time to talk to ARTISTdirect.com in this exclusive interview.

    Even though you've had these songs for awhile, are you still excited about this album?

    As a whole entity, we're very proud of this record. It's not just a couple random songs. You know how many cookie cutter sheets it took to put that thing out? [Laughs] We're looking forward to hearing feedback. That's what we've been waiting five or six years for. Give us the good, the bad and the ugly! We're going to put out the record and see what people feel. We've been on this record for awhile traveling Canada.

    So it's fresh for you in some ways?

    I feel great about it. Any artist wants to change something here or there. We can do that live, with the show. We alter our live show all the time to keep it fresh. It's a strong record top to bottom. There are a lot of songs for everyone, from 5 to 55.

    Where did the title come from?

    The title is all-encompassing. We couldn't decide, so we figured we'd make it three words. It really came with touring together as a rock band for four or five years, living in a passenger van or a little bus here or there—sharing hotel rooms together. It comes from living life together and going through all of the relationships we go through: family, personal and business. It's about living life together as a band and a unit. It's totally our life, love and lies. It's a record that we wrote together. It's totally definitive of our lives together and individually—living it out, pushing it to the max, writing our own stuff and touring. It's our lives on an album.

    It's very personal in that aspect.

    It's about all of the hardships around life, love and lies and all of the crap around it. It's really about getting through that and just moving on. Some say it's been done. However, that's what life is. It's been done already, and people just redo it everyday. We hit a C chord and a D chord. I think people have done that before too [Laughs].

    Some suit named Daryl in a tall building writing a song is not cool with me.

    Where did "When Did the Love Leave" come from?

    It's about a relationship that someone in the band had, probably John [Philippon, Drums] because he goes through this quite a bit. It's one of those songs. One of his exes was hitting the road for awhile, and he was hitting the road. It's one of those questions you ask yourself in any relationship, whether it be with a loved one or a family member, and you wonder when that love left. You get to a point where things change, and you question why they're different. We didn't intend the CD to contain this bulk of emotions. There are lines in the songs that we said personally that day when we were in that moment with the girlfriend or the boyfriend, in Ally's case. It's just living life. We've actually said those lines. "Money Honey" came from a stripper off the stage. It went right into someone's phone or message pad, and it came out in the song the next day. This is stuff we've truly lived. We wrote these songs ourselves as a unit of five people shooting around ideas and going through it together. For half of us a song means one thing, and for the other half it means something completely different. Our writing process is such a collaborative effort it helps make true songs. Hopefully it touches people, and they can reinvent it for their own lives like other music has helped us.

    Is there a deeper story behind "Money Honey?"

    Strippers and rock n' roll! I don't want to say too much because I bet the stripper will be looking for her 20 percent. We can't divide it anymore, not a fuckin' chance! [Laughs] The stories aren't fictional; they're very true to our lives. Some suit named Daryl in a tall building writing a song is not cool with me. That guy hasn't even smoked a joint or lived a life. I don't know how that guy could write a song. This stuff has to be lived. I think it helps that we've lived what we try to get across. We've lived all of it. Every line in these songs we've lived in some way. We share a true indication of who we are with people. The songs we're writing are ours. They're our blood.

    How did you guys initially come together?

    I grew up kicking and screaming more than singing. It's an ongoing process. In high school, my buddy and I had a good friend named Dan. He teaches now, of all things. We were walking down the hallway to the auditorium one day, and I saw him doing some audition. We found out it was for some high school musical play from the '60s called Hair. It was about sex, drugs, rock n' roll and the war. We wanted to grow our hair out, smoke some joints and jump on stage. That was high school. It made sense to us. We got the leads in this play and never looked back. It was something we stumbled upon. It's like, one night you're drunk on a building, and you realize you can balance, then you become your trapeze artist. I've known Jesse, our guitar player, since we were like 15 years old in high school. He saw a production of Hair, and that's when we decided I was going to move from bass to singing in the band. It was funny.

    Was touring the U.S. with Staind and Papa Roach particularly fun?

    We learned a hell of a lot from Staind and Papa Roach. I'm still paying those phone bills off though. They turned my American phone off. It's probably why no one could get a hold of me [Laughs]. In Green Bay, we went to Lambo field before the show because I'd never been. I bought a cheese head, and I played the show wearing it.

    The rest of touring was fun too, I assume.

    It was debauchery. Who wants to hear about the hangovers and headaches?

    What's next for State of Shock?

    Obama's going to take over the world for us. We'll be his opening band.

    —Rick Florino

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