Rock Music Has Returned
What did I just get myself into? I’m in a van with four strangers, the doors are locked and I feel the need to scramble around in my bag for a taser or something. I would be more at ease meeting Tupac, Snoop and Diddy…together.This is definitely not your average interview, it’s not like I know every word to their Billboard Top 10 single, Swallow Your Fears. Heck, I just learned about the band twenty-four hours ago and my mind is still turning inside out. What do I ask these people? I know absolutely nothing of them. One plays drums, the other sings? I feel as if I am stranded in the middle of the ocean, fighting for flight as I watch my boat capsize. Shark ahead.
After introducing myself as a journalist who delightfully shuns tape recorders and refuses to write down every sentence uttered, I get a much needed “Yes!” from guitarist Thomas Panza. Finally, the silence is broken, this veil of nervousness is lifted and the tables are turned. Wait, what? “Hold on, let us interview you!”, suggests State of Man’s lead vocalist, John Stringer. I’m totally down- I’ve done this before…completely accustomed to it. “Why are you interested in doing a story on us?”, replies Stringer. Good question John, because I still do not know to this day. Maybe it was divine intervention, maybe I liked the music, maybe I just wanted to apply to that “groupie for life” position (Kidding). Groupie for life or not, I’m hooked and State of Man now sits proudly on my favorites list- number fifteen to be exact.
Hailing from Atlanta, John Stringer (Vocals), Thomas Panza ( Guitars), James Beale (Bass) and Chris Love (Drums) have been doing what they do best for seven years now. Panza describes the birth of State of Man as a rocky one, an under experienced group of friends willing rock out on New Year’s Eve completely sober (I’m kidding again). What started as a spur of the moment impromptu rock band grew to be a phenomenon. State of Man’s intrinsic lyrics and driving guitars have lead them to play a hectic international touring schedule. Like rock royalty they have gained recognition from sold out shows in countries such as Korea and Japan, all while taking the Asian girls by storm. (Seriously, you’d think one was Mick Jagger or something.)
So how exactly does a little known rock band go from zero to ninety in under a fraction of a second? Spin some vinyl with Timbaland? Wrong. Bump into David Geffen at a Los Angeles gas station? Wrong again. They do it all on their own. “You hear about a lot of bands that are DIY but we really and truly are.”,Stringer explains. While playing gigs and hitting every Wal*Mart in sight to stock up on the necessary materials needed to package an album isn’t typical rock star fashion, this is just what the guys of SOM did- and somehow, somewhere down the road… it worked.
State of Man released their debut album in 2006. Both Sides of the Story featured the hit single Swallow Your Fears, which peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot Singles Chart. These guys have without a doubt grown to be a class act, citing influences such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. Though SOM is a little known wonder wall at the moment, it is inevitable that they will grow to sale out stadiums across the U.S within years. America is long overdue for a real rock group- not emo/alternative rock, I’m talking feel good, get down to it rock and roll. State of Man aims to please, taking listeners on a nostalgic joyride throughout different stages of your life. Each song has a distinct meaning and seems to breed inspiration entirely. Not too many artists can capture that raw feeling, the odds are like that of winning the lottery- you have to be persistent.
From the melodramatic yet sincere lyrics of Be Still My Heart to the absolute rage and rock-ability of Symmetry, State Of Man’s music is truly a force to be reckoned with. You will cry, scream and maybe even head bang (let’s hope not), but one thing is certain- you won’t leave a show untouched.