Lancaster, Pennsylvania is the sort of town of which there are many hundred all across America: post-industrial, blue collar and, on occasion, more than a little bleak. As is so often the case though, it is in these relative backwards towns that authentic, compelling creativity truly thrives - the monotony of the landscape punctuated by brilliant flares of art. FROM ASHES TO NEW are one such flare; a thoroughly modern rock band wielding both a state-of-the-art sound and an old-as-the-hills work ethic.
Formed barely two years ago by vocalist, programmer and creative mastermind Matt Brandyberry, the sextet consists of the cream of Lancaster's underground scene. "We have all played with each other in old bands and other projects," explains Brandyberry. "And when those things stalled or fell apart, the guys who wanted to take things a little more seriously began to gravitate toward FATN. It all came together incredibly organically and we clicked almost instantaneously. It was a real 'Aha!' moment, like this was the band we should have been in all along."
For Brandyberry in particular, FATN represents a creative endeavor a long time in the making. As a young kid obsessed by world-changing flows of Tupac and Biggie as well as the local Philadelphia Hip Hop scene that surrounded him, writing rhymes became a natural pastime. "It was until my late teens that my interest in hard rock music properly developed," explains the frontman "slowly but surely I got into things like Sevendust and it all snowballed from there."
Before long, Brandyberry was obsessively playing guitar and piano and, most importantly, penning his own music to go with the raps he had been developing since junior high. "I decided I was going to put everything I had inside of me into doing music, it became everything to me. I was like a sponge - I wanted to learn every technique, every skill so that I had what I needed to out the ideas that I had in my head on paper and eventually turn them into records."
And turn those ideas into records is exactly what he did. With the assistance of producer Grant McFarland, FATN set about molding their rap/rock hybrid into a sky-scrapingly monolithic proposition.
"We always wanted our songs to sound huge," admits co-vocalist and melodic linchpin Chris Musser. "Our ambition is to throw as much as we can into them and give the listener the most connecting experience possible. We vent a lot of emotion, a lot of frustrations, a lot of angst through our songs, but we always want them to have a craft to them - something which shines through."
And if their four-track EP 'Downfall' was a glistening opening gambit, then the band's debut full-length album, 'Day One', radiates with the fire of a thousand suns. A fearsome mix of contemporary metalcore crunch and soul-searching rap, the band are already punching with a heavyweight strength that belies their so far brief career. It's a potent approach galvanized further by the background from which the band all come from.
"When we were recording the album, we were all holding down full time jobs," explains Musser. "I work fixing up body panels for airplanes. I'd start work at 6, finish at 4 then go straight to the studio to work until 2 in the morning. That has been my life for the past year and the discontentment of working in a dead-end job has filtered through onto this album massively. We go through the same things that everyone else who has to wake up in the morning and go do something they hate."
"To put it bluntly, there's a lot of 'Fuck you' on this album," laughs Brandyberry. "A lot of stuff about shitty relationships, about working hard for something and people telling you can't do it, about never accepting that things are just 'beyond you'. We're not the cool band from LA or New York or any of those places, we're six regular guys from a regular place but that is in our favor, not against us. We understand what it's like."
Yet with major tours with the likes of Hollywood Undead under their belts and a record deal that puts them among some of the best known commercial rock bands already signed, FATN look set to take their message to a bigger stage than they could ever previously have imagined.
Blessed with honesty, integrity, grit, determination and, most vitally, a genuinely devastating arsenal of gut-mangling tunes - FROM ASHES TO NEW have got all the ingredients to turn your world, and the entire scene, on its head.