Opiate For The Masses

Talented musicians attract themselves to each other like magnets. Such is the case of Phoenix, Arizona-based quintet Opiate for the Masses. The core members were in rival Phoenix bands when they realized they needed to join forces in order to create the music they wanted to make -- hard-hitting, intelligent rock music with traces of industrial rhythms and classic and modern influences.

Imagine a combination of influences including David Bowie, Cannibal Corpse, Depeche Mode, DJ Shadow, Guns 'N Roses, KMFDM, Metallica, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Tool and Ween, twist and grind them all into a fresh, original package and you have Opiate for the Masses. Pretty formidable for band members who are just 21 and 22 years old!

The band -- which routinely headlines Phoenix-area shows drawing more than 1,500 people -- is shopping a six-song demo to secure a record deal. The songs include: "The Carried," "Running From Yourself," "Heaven," "Goodbye," "Shadows" and "Illusions." The demo was produced and mixed by Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Charlie Clouser. These six are part of the more than 45 original songs in Opiate for the Masses' repertoire.

Opiate for the Masses formed in 1999, and the name was derived from a concept that philosopher Karl Marx used to describe organized religion. Guitarist and songwriter Jim Kaufman was in a band called Projex when he approached drummer Elias Mallin and vocalist Ron Underwood of 5 on 1 about forming a new band. The three young men had actually attended the same performing arts school.

Kaufman says there's a big music scene in Phoenix, but that most bands don't have a very long shelf life. Projex, a rap-metal band, and 5 on 1, a funk-based band, were exceptions. Both bands were quite successful, and 5 on 1 was once even voted "Best Unsigned Band" on RollingStone.com. But Kaufman, Mallin and Underwood weren't happy. They all felt stifled creatively. Kaufman was convinced their combined tastes would yield music more exciting and satisfying than what they were doing in Projex and 5 on 1.

"I know that personally I was not able to fully express myself," says Kaufman. "I wanted to form a band so versatile that there would never be anything we couldn't do."

"I was happy to be invited to join this new band," Underwood says. "In this band it's so refreshing not to have ideas shot down in their embryonic state."

After quitting their respective bands, Kaufman, Mallin and Underwood began writing and structuring song ideas on a computer in a basement studio. They realized they needed to expand the lineup in order to give them greater musical flexibility. Kaufman's close friend Dustin Lyon was recruited as lead guitarist. The final piece fell into place when their high school friend Ryan Head joined as bass guitarist. Song ideas came fast and furious to Opiate for the Masses.

"When I first started playing with Jim, Ron and Elias, they had two songs and some riffs put together. I laid down some solos for them, which was great because Jim wanted me to be strictly a lead guitarist," says Lyon. "I do play rhythm guitar on some of my song ideas I bring in, but I'm primarily playing lead. As for Jim and I, our playing falls together naturally."

"I grew up playing drums, and then I moved on to guitar. I didn't start playing bass until I joined this band. They were having trouble finding a bassist, and so they asked me. In just a couple of days, I learned the songs they'd already written," says Head. "It's been a great experience and it's worked out really well."

One of the most important things to happen to the band was Underwood's decision to take voice lessons. His voice has become richer and stronger as a result.

"I sounded like a kid on our first recording attempts, but my voice sounds more free and open on these new demos. Even after just my first voice lesson I noticed the difference, even in my speaking voice," says Underwood.

High-caliber industry veterans have assisted in Opiate for the Masses' development, including Bob Chiappardi and Concrete Marketing, as well as producer Ed Stasium (best known for his work with groundbreaking bands Living Colour and The Ramones) and producer John Travis (Kid Rock, Sugar Ray).

In addition to never-ending songwriting and rehearsing, touring lies ahead for Opiate for the Masses. The band has performed in a variety of cities, such as Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and New York. Opiate for the Masses is always winning new fans through its dynamic live show, so expect to see the band coming your way.

Source: http://www.opiateforthemasses.com