Wilkerson: lead vocals, rhythm guitar * John "Fish" Milldrum: lead guitar, bass * Rickey Shelton: drums, backing vocals
From the heart of Enterprise, Alabama comes the first great rock n' roll album of 2002 - Course of Nature's electrifying Lava/Atlantic debut, "SUPERKALA." Highlighted by the extraordinary hit single "Caught In The Sun," the 10-track collection - produced by Course of Nature and Matt Martone (3 Doors Down, Breaking Point), and mixed by Randy Staub (P.O.D., Nickelback) - is an enthralling blend of passionate melodies, hard-edged riffs, and emotionally potent lyricism. Tracks such as the yearning "Someone Else To You" and the cathartic "Difference of Opinion" reveal Course of Nature to be a compelling and focused unit that will undoubtedly stake a substantial claim on the musical landscape. Packed with dynamic songs and exciting sonics, "SUPERKALA" is modern hard rock at its best and brightest.
Singer Mark Wilkerson and guitarist John Mildrum first hit the spotlight back in 2000 as part of their band, Cog. Inspired by a diverse spectrum of music - from Motown to metal - the group made their bones playing Alabama's cover band circuit, honing their musical chops with marathon sets that included songs by faves ranging from Duran Duran to Warrant to Metallica.
"We played covers five hours a night," Fish recalls, "sometimes three or four nights a week, all over Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. We started to throw originals into the set, we just put our foot down and said, "We're not doing this anymore.' So we started advertising ourselves as an original band, and we'd go to these cover places and bring a cover band with us and have them open for us. And the shows just got better and better."
The group soon built a loyal local following, playing the region both as headliners and as support to such artists as Marvelous 3, Everything, and Starship. In March 2001, Cog self-released their debut album, "NO TIME AT ALL," but by July, Wilkerson and Mildrum had made the decision to set out on their own.
"We started writing," Mark says, " and it was coming along better and more professional. So we got on the Internet and looked for a studio to record in. We found Ardent Studios in Memphis. 3 Doors Down did their record there, and we were definitely into that, so we called up there, and we hooked up with Matt Martone, who engineered 3 Doors Down. He dug us, so we decided to do a four song demo together."
There was however one minor problem to be dealt with before recording could commence. Wilkerson and Mildrum needed an accomplished drummer to give rhythmic power to their songs, and after a glowing recommendation from Martone, the pair invited Rickey Shelton (formerly of Memphis-based hard rock combo, Dust For Life) to join them in the studio.
"They gave me a CD," Shelton says, "and I thought that I'd definitely like to work with these guys. I sort of knew this was going to happen. I just felt it."
"Rick's just a great drummer," Wilkerson notes, "and he's got one of best qualities a drummer can have: he can sing backup."
With Shelton now officially in the mix, the new band needed a new moniker. The trio decided to take their name from a "NO TIME AT ALL" track called "Course of Nature."
"We thought about calling ourselves 'Pull,' because it's on all the doors, you know," Wilkerson grins. "Cheap advertising. We wouldn't even have to put up posters! 'Course of Nature' was a song on our first album, and it kind of felt right. If you think of the course of nature, it's just the way things happen, and that's basically how we got here. It just kind of happened."
Based of the strength of the demo recordings, Course of Nature soon signed with Lava/Atlantic. By October, the band had largely completed "SUPERKALA," with Martone behind the board once again.
"Matt is a really great guy," Fish says of their producer, "really good to work with, because he is just totally laidback. We really liked him, and got along good with him, so we decided to stick with him."
Among the many highlights of "SUPERKALA" is the breathtaking single, "Caught In The Sun." Marked by its indelible, irresistible guitar hook and Wilkerson's confident, expressive vocals, the boldly melodic track was born in a moment of in-studio inspiration.
"Fish was playing the drums that night," Wilkerson recalls, "it was just the two of us in the studio, and I started strumming a melody. Then I went upstairs and wrote. It took about 30 minutes to write the lyrics." "The whole song took about an hour maybe," Fish says proudly.
Featuring an epic string arrangement conducted and arranged by Suzie Katayama (Train, Bon Jovi, Limp Bizkit), the evocative and undeniable "Caught In The Sun" was an instant success in Course of Nature's home state of Alabama, as well as in a number of other markets around the U.S. Wilkerson is still reeling from the remarkable personal response the song has received.
"There's this high school near Enterprise," he says, "and there was a car wreck where three of the students died and they played 'Caught In The Sun' at their funeral. They've taken it on as their class song. That's an incredible feeling, knowing that our music touched people like that."
Songs like the turbulent "Wall of Shame" and the poignant "Remain" express a variety of compelling emotions, from frustration and fear, to love and loss. Wilkerson, as the band's lyricist, is determined to write honest and affecting songs that will make direct connections with the listener.
"I try to write about real life situations," he says. "A lot of it has to do with stuff that I've experienced, but the way I portray it is in a way that people can relate to it. Like our song 'Difference of Opinion,' that totally derives from the difference of opinion I've had for the past five years from my parents. The quote from the song is "I won't give up all my dreams." Well, that's what they wanted me to do. Now they say it's wonderful. I'm so happy this happened, because it kind of brought my family back together. I think a lot of kids out there will be able to relate to that kind of thing."
Having spent much of 2001 recording their debut album, Wilkerson, Mildrum, and Shelton are now itching to get their show on the road. Course of Nature are more than ready to bring the power and passion of "SUPERKALA" to rock fans coast to coast.
"We can't wait to get back on stage," Fish says. "We started this band so that we could rock, and we've been cooped up in the studio for so long, all we want to do now is play."