Dallas Taylor - Lead Vocals
Roman Haviland - Bass, Backing Vocals
Chad Huff - Guitar
Kelly Scott Nunn - Guitar
Jake Duncan - Guitar
Matt Clark - Drums
The Barker-Karpis Gang were gun-toting outlaws robbing as they pleased. As a child, Dallas Taylor would accompany his grandfather to the small Florida town of Ocklawaha to watch annual reenactments of the FBI shootout that ended the illustrious career of the early 20th century crime family, allegedly led by Kate "Ma" Barker, in a hail of bullets.
Which makes it fitting that as an adult, Dallas Taylor would lead a band of musical outlaws who rob and steal the best parts of heavy metal, punk rock, down-home classic rock n' roll and bluegrass and reshape it in their own image with the true-life morality tale of Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster as their backdrop, muse and namesake.
On the Birmingham, Alabama boys' third album -- entitled, with beautiful simplicity, III -- the reconfigured band push the envelope even further, broadening the scope of the impressive repertoire firmly established on their eponymous debut and 2007's II (which produced the MTV2 Headbanger's Ball staple "Dry The River") with ease.
Dallas is a commanding frontman with a natural charisma who can charm a crowd like he's arrived to drive the serpents out of the local swamps. With his rest of the Sons in tow, both new and old, there's really nothing the band can't accomplish with their exciting blend of mystery, mystique, literary allegories and straight-forward sass. Hard-hitting but not without depth or catchy angst, Maylene refuses to rely on trendy formulas to be memorable, choosing instead to delve deeply into the past to draw upon the most invigorating elements of rock n' roll's best grooves.
When Maylene founders Taylor and Roman Haviland (bass, backing vocals) found themselves without the triple guitar armada who flanked them (although Josh Cornutt remained as a writing and recording member only) and drummer-less as well, they relied on their own well-rooted underground musical ties to refresh the band's blood.
Dallas is the former singer for gold-album selling metalcore / screamo outfit Underoath and he knew Matt Clark (drums) and Kelly Scott Nunn (guitar) from when they played in an early configuration of that band together. Nunn also played with Further Seems Forever, the band that launched Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba. "He just has a good ear for vocal patterns and a great sense of melody," Taylor enthuses. And then there's Jake Duncan (guitar), who was originally drafted to replace Cornutt on the road only but who ended up adding a ton as well.
"Jake has a big classic rock and blues background, both of which have come more into play than we had before," Taylor explains. "We had it before, but not to the extent that we do with him. It's embedded in his roots."
As soon as the new guys came onboard in January of 2008, Maylene started writing, even trashing some songs they had put together previously. Writing for III resumed in the fall after some touring (over the years, Maylene has gone out with bands like P.O.D, Throwdown, Zao and the aforementioned Underoath) before they hit the studio.
III is crap-kickin', clod-hopper stomping rock n' metal which will remind fans, critics and contemporaries why Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster have long sat atop the so-called Southern Fried Metalcore genre.
"The cool thing with having new guys is it's an open slate," Taylor says. "We were able to do things that we weren't able to do before. Some songs were, vocally, way heavier for me and a chance to branch out and do different styles of vocals. It was a chance for us to do whatever we want and introduce the new guys with it. It was really cool."
"Listen Close" displays a heretofore uncharted vocal range that's decidedly stronger than the majority of the band's peers. "Step Up (I'm On It)" is a barnstormer with a ZZ Top vibe. "Oh Lonely Grave" features a guest singer from Atlanta as the song careens from bluegrass to one of Maylene's heaviest moments with a string arrangement to boot.
III is infused with Maylene's by now signature esoteric themes of final judgement, redemption and justice. There's a sense of swagger throughout and a none-too-subtle country vibe bubbling beneath the surface.
"What we really want to do with this record is crossover in a way that older and younger people can both get something out of it," Dallas offers. "I want to relate to people in a lot of ways, in a sense of being down-home... Everyone can get something out of it: the guy next door that's mowing your lawn or working on your house."
And with that down-home vibe and broad appeal comes a healthy dose of Southern humility and hospitality. "We want people to know we're not a big 'rock star' type band. We try to make the music and the imagery larger than life but not to the point that it's unattainable or inaccessible. We're just normal guys that play music. We know what people are going through and if we weren't in a band, we'd probably be hanging out with you on the weekends."
"STEP UP (I'm On It)" Stats:
• The band charged into Tennessee’s Buffalo River to shoot the Deliverance-themed video for “Step Up (I'm On It)” “It was the real deal,” Taylor says. “We hit some rapids actually tipped over. I had to kill a water moccasin at one point…they were always around where I grew up around them, so I was used to it.” Keep an eye out for Crazy Horse canoe rental in the clip as well.
• MATSOD recorded its latest album, III, at Synchromesh Studios in Birmingham, Alabama. “It might be the creepiest studio in America,” Taylor says. The converted store housed the headquarters of the KKK in the ’30s and ’40s, and many claim the building is haunted. “That place has a lot of bad history,” Taylor says. “You get that feeling like you’re not alone, y'know? We always had a bit of adrenaline going when recording.”