New Universal Motown band Terrible Things may be hailed as rock all-stars – with ex-Taking Back Sunday vet Fred Mascherino, Coheed and Cambria alumnus Josh Eppard, and Hot Rod Circuit guitarist Andy Jackson forming the powerful triumvirate.
Appetites whetted for the splintering, pointed rock we’ve come to expect from each member of the reserved trio should prepare for added twists to their own reliable brand this time around. Never known to rest on thorny laurels /giving the gas face to the weathered indie formula of ‘doing well and being miserable’ in a recent interview with Alternative Press/, Mascherino’s first order of new business was to record the new album in Birmingham, Alabama with producer Jason Elgin.
Terrible Things have made a concept album about a series of fires that haunted Fred’s former hometown, the depressed Pennsylvania steel-millburgh of Coatesville, PA, located 40-plus miles west of Philadelphia. A reign of arson terror scorched the more modest neighborhoods of Chester County from 2007-2009. “It’s not a political album,” says Fred. “I leave that to others. But growing up in Coatesville, the shock of these fires affected me in a way I was even surprised at.”
On the album, the band addresses such themes of fear and alienation in songs like “Revolution,” with the lyric – ‘This is not a revolution til we say it is…it seems we only want what we don’t have….’ Another song, the searing “Up At Night,” touches on the town’s fear and atrophy – ‘burning, burning bright, our eyes wide open; I bet you can see our town at night from space.’
“I was just struck by the helplessness,” says Fred. “Growing up there I remember the decay, but this was such a mindless thing, symptomatic maybe, of pure hopelessness”
Though the band didn’t initially set out to do a concept album, Fred says the other band members understood the depth of Fred’s passion. Andy’s contributions include “Not Alone,” and “Wrap Me Up.” Josh’s Coheed and Cambria chops – no stranger to conceptual themes in their music, as well – made the debut offering a total communal effort.
The choice of Jason Elgin as producer, and the surprise location of Birmingham, Alabama to record their kick-off CD was agreed upon by all three members ‘to get into a different head space,’ says Fred. Jason was great, and to record down here meant no distractions. We were totally engaged in the music.”
Even though they were fans of each others’ work, forming any new band, particularly when each member’s individual ‘earned-our-stripes’ indie cred’ proceeds a new union - the chemistry is not always guaranteed. “We are very lucky,” says Fred. “This all happened so organically. It seems we were all ready to take another leap into the band thing head-first.” A feat even more remarkable when you consider the members’ stellar pedigrees – Fred’s Taking Back Sunday legacy includes game-changing critical raves, multiple Top 5 album debuts and a propulsive live legacy. Coheed and Cambria also wrote their own ticket as one of the new prog-breakthrough bands, earning a Top Ten Album landing and a pummeling live reputation of their own, thanks, in no small measure to Eppard’s unique drum presence. Still, both Eppard and Mascherino willfully left their bands more than two-and-a-half years ago.
Fred had known Josh from mutual tours – including his previous band incarnation prior to Taking Back Sunday, Breaking Pangaea. “I knew Josh from Coheed and Cambria. He has always been my favorite drummer to watch. He just brings so much to Terrible Things. Doing my solo stuff after Taking Back Sunday, I think I also missed the social component of being in a band. The fun of everyone contributing. I’ve been in bands pretty much since 9th grade so I also knew that if I was going to do it again, it better be with the right people. We’re pretty happy about the place we all are at right now.”